Friday, 30 March 2012

My New Toy

Just a very quick post to share this very exciting picture of my brand new cupcake courier in action for the first time! It was so nice to carry the cupcakes on the tube today without worrying about them getting squashed (yes I realise my life is very sad!) Anyway, blog post on the cupcakes to follow and tomorrow I am baking something involving pastry, brandy and maybe a little bit of fruit…. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Not-so-apricot Swiss Cakes

I am new to this whole twitter business and am definitely yet to really get the hang of it but I am very curious about it and the projects it inspires. Last week I came across @WeeklyBakeOff which is a blog and twitter project set up by a woman who is baking her way through Mary Berry’s 100 Cakes and Bakes book and each week she invites others on twitter to join her in baking one of the recipes and sharing the evidence (in picture form as I don’t think humankind has yet advanced to virtual day...).

I have two large Mary Berry cook books but due to my aversion to following recipes I have actually baked very little from them so I figured that taking part in this week’s bake off would make me bake something that I hadn’t tried before. This week’s bake off was Apricot Swiss Cakes which I had never even heard of (I thought they only had the rolls) so I was curious.

The recipe called for butter (no eggs, which was a shame as we have about two dozen!), self-raising flour, icing sugar, corn flour and apricot jam. The first three ingredients are rarely absent from my cupboards but I realised as I was softening the butter that I had no corn flour. A quick nip over the road found that I could buy a 5kg bag of corn meal (which, by the way, does not constitute a meal) but no corn flour. So deviating from the recipe (as usual) I used more self-raising flour than was called for and sieved in just a little of the cornmeal. Once mixed I piped the thick mixture into the cake cases and baked whilst I skyped my future business partner to discuss cafe ideas and the merits of Cadbury Crunchie.

I had piped the mixture in circles round the outside edge of the cupcake cases so once baked there was a dip in the middle which I filled with jam. Since these were supposed to be apricot swiss cakes I was supposed to use apricot jam but I don’t like apricot and I don’t believe in baking things that I don’t like (although perhaps that would help me with my resolutions – see previous post...) so I used raspberry jam. The cakes had an unusual texture; dense yet melt in the mouth - my housemate and I both commented that they were almost like scones (and I should know – I have eaten plenty!) They needed the jam and if I made them again I would slice them in half and spread the jam in the middle. Overall these little cakes actually pleasantly suprised me and I think I'll bake them again with a few adaptations.

In other news, I am now the very proud owner of a cupcake courier which holds 36 cupcakes. I have convinced myself that this luxury is an investment, and though I am slightly concerned that a twenty-not-much should not get quite so excited about cake storage it has become my pride and joy.

Next up I have the daunting task of creating some not so tasteful (but very tasty) Hen Party Cupcakes – you’re gonna love it.....

Sunday, 18 March 2012

And so... The Mixing Bowl blog is born, to a silent fanfare and non-existent whooping.....

My 2012 resolutions were:
1. Lose weight
2. Start a baking blog
3. Volunteer at a charity
4. Get better at my job…..

Resolution 1 is not going well so I thought I’d move straight to Resolution 2. This will probably have a negative effect on Resolution 1 but I have all year, right?
I have had an obsession with baking for quite a while now, which I can admit has grown from having a sweet tooth. The idea of this blog is to document my culinary triumphs and mishaps, and hopefully I will become more adventurous as time goes by.

In that spirit, left with the flat - and more importantly kitchen - to myself for the weekend I turned to my Paul Hollywood book. I am definitely a novice to all things yeast based but Mr Hollywood has not failed me yet. So, on a miserable weekend in London I set about rekindling memories of weekends in Paris by making croissants.

It turns out this is a long process. A very long process. There is a lot of folding and leaving for an hour, before eventually leaving overnight.
However, about 20 hours after I began I had a batch of fresh croissants. And they were yummy (even if I do say so myself!). I made slightly fewer than the recipe detailed and the sizes certainly weren’t uniform (Mr Hollywood would be deducting points!) but I was chuffed that I had managed to make them and that they were actually recognisable as croissants!

During the rainy hours I spent waiting for my dough to rise, I became restless and once I had caught up on a whole series of desperate housewives, the oven was calling me. Rummaging through our cupboards and finding an assortment of nuts and seeds, I decided to continue along the breakfast theme and make some granola. Whilst greedily munching on this (resolution 1 going out of the window again) I decided that it would yummy in a muffin, a ‘breakfast muffin’ if you like...

So when my housemate returned on Sunday afternoon she was greeted by an empty fridge, a flour-covered kitchen and no dinner. But there was a range of breakfast options - I’m not gonna lie, she wasn’t complaining!
And what do you do with 30 odd croissants when you have a good half a stone to lose? Make a few friends in the office of course! (That reminds me...resolution 4!).
Till next time.