Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Poppy Seed Bagels

Inspired by the Great British Bake Off I wanted to make bagels and at the end of my first week surrounded by cake, it was the perfect time to make something savoury! I used a recipe for regular bagels from the BBC Good Food website but apparently failed to read any of the instructions and just through everything in a bowl together. I also added poppy seeds and cracked black pepper to the dough.

Despite this slight mishap which resulted in considerably more sugar being added that the recipe called for, the bagels were fairly easy to make. the most difficult part was getting a pretty shape - enough of a hole so that it wouldn't disappear when baking, a nice ciecle and smooth surface. Needless to say I didn't wholly succeed and they certianly wren't uniform. I used the 'lassoo-ing it around your finger' method of making the hole and although this was fairly effective, I struggled to get the hole in the centre of my bagels.

Before baking I sprinkled with more poppy seeds, cracked black pepper and sea salt. This added to both the taste and appearance once baked. I must admit thsat overall I was very pleased with the bagels although next time I will baked them at a lower temperature. The recipe said 220°C and as I have a fan oven I set it to 200°C but they still cooked very quickly and were darker than I would have liked so next time I think I'll try 180°C.

Most of the poppy seed bagels I saw when searching for recipes only has them sprinkled on top but I think that including them in the actual dough gives them a lot more flavour. I have tried them on their own as a snack, with honey for breakfast and with cream cheese for lunch (as an experiment you understand - it is one of the chores of baking!). All variations were tasty and I will definitely be making bagels again soon!

I am entering these into the Alphabakes challenge hosted by Caroline Makes and The more than occasional baker. Caroline is hosting September's challenge and will post a round up on her blog at the end of the month so check it out :)

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Happy Cupcake

So it turns out that National Cupcake Week coincides with me starting work as a baker at a cupcakery. So my week has indeed involved many a cupcake - from oreos to strawberry and including gluten and dairy-free, I've not done it all but I've made a start!

Here's a little glimpse of what I've been up to:

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Marbled 'Jazzie' Cupcakes

The shop, to see more visit dixiescupcakery.co.uk

It seemed only right that I bring in cupcakes for my last day in the office last week so another late night of baking produced some chocolate orange and some amaretto cupcakes. I made chocolate cupcakes by using cocoa powder and grating chocolate into the mixture and topped with orange flavoured cream cheese frosting. Generous glugs of amaretto were added to batter and buttercream for the pretty in pink cupcakes.

I'm entering these two creations into this months Calender Cakes challenge (which has the apt theme of cupcakes!) which is hosted by Dollybakes (www.dollybakes.co.uk) and Laura Loves Cakes (lauralovescakes.blogspot.co.uk)

So whether you've been baking or eating (or both!) I hope you've had a wonderful week of cupcakes!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sunday afternoon essentials: Scones

This post was supposed to be written a while ago but job related stress and excitement have somewhat a taken over the past week over so!

I was really happy when my boyfriend's mum asked me to bring round scones as I had actually never made them before (despite consuming a fair few!) I was also a little nervous as scones a kind of a staple that everyone who bakes should be able to whip up – failure was not an option.

I have learnt that in times of uncertainty, Mary Berry will always be there for me. Well at least her baking bible will be - unless I’ve lost it down the back of the book shelf. Flicking through the ‘bible’ there were several scone recipes but shouldn’t you can’t go wrong with Mary’s 'very best' scones with a few handfuls of sultanas thrown in to make some classic fruit scones.

Unfortunately I don’t have a fluted cutter so I had to make do with a straight edged one (another thing to add to my wish list!). Overall I was fairly pleased though - I couldn't say they were uniform but they sure tasted good with raspberry jam and a dollop of cream!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

And so the adventure begins.....

Apologies for the lack of blog posts recently. It's been a big week and I am happy but emotionally and physically exhausted and overwhelmed! A week and a half ago I saw a tweet advertising a job as a baker at an independant cupcakery. Today will be my last day at my current job and on Monday I start work baking cakes.

Monday night saw a lot of buttercream and a whirlwind o icing sugar then Tuesday was a mad dash from work home to pick up my cupcakes. 1 wrong station, 1 wrong platform, a delayed train and useless cabbie later, I arrived at Dixie's Cupcakery rather flustered and clutching 12 cucpakes which - amazingly - were still in tact. I think they liked them.

Everything has happened so quickly that it is difficult to take in. I am so lucky that my current employer has been so accomodating considering I gave them 2 days (instead of 4 weeks) notice. There has been a lot of stress and worrying (meaning crying!) but in the end it's worked out so well that I feel like I need to pinch myself!

I am finding it all quite scary and surreal and i keep worrying that I won't be good enough. But I remind myself that this is what I want to do and I am so luckily to be able to do something I love for a living.

I have so many people to thank. Everyone I have told or spokend to about this
has been so supportive and that means so much. I don't want to sound too soppy but if it weren't for the encouragement of my friends and family and amazing support from my boyfriend, there is no way I would have had the guts to do this.

I don't want to ramble on - I just feel that this is a bit of a turning point for me and wanted to share it with those who are kind enough to read my blog. For now I need to get thinking of new ideas for the menu - watch this spaace!

I will leave you with a little photo of the cupakes I had to make for the interview:

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Apple and Peanut Danish Pastries

I love my Paul Hollywood book and I've been wanting to make danish pastries ever since I made the croissants (my first ever blog post!) but struggle to find the time as the dough needs to be rested overnight. But with little plans over the bank holiday weekend, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to take the plunge.

When I was younger, danish pastries were always my first choice of treat from the bakery. Provided they had my favourite that is - I remember being very specific about what flavour I wanted but cannot recall what it was - I'm sure almonds were involved..... This being my first attempt however, I decided to keep it simple and stick to the recipe. Well not exactly as I it called for apple and sultanas but I had run out of sultanas and fancied adding some nuts so replaced them with chopped peanuts. in his recipe but I had no sultanas left in the cupboard and decided to replace them with peanuts.

Making these pastries was a very enjoyable experience. I am easily pleased and there is not much I would rather do than put on a favourite tv show or podcast and potter round the flat baking. Yes perhaps I am old before my time but I'm happy!

Despite tasting delicious (even if I do say so myself!) they weren't a complete success and I'm not sure Mr Hollywood would have approved! I don't know whether our basement flat is too warm or I didn't roll it out thinly enough but they rose a lot (and out of shape) in the last rest and ended up being on the large side. So I was pleased with them but definitely need some more practice - next time I'm thinking cherry and almond...

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Foodie Pen Pals - August

Apologies for the delay in blogging again - it's been a long week! This month my foodie pen pal was Jenny who blogs at www.bakeonline.co.uk. She writes a wonderful blog and is a very talented baker, cook and photographer.

Jenny had obviously looked at my blog and realised that I am a keen cake baker so sent me a parcel of baking things. I'm sure you can imagine the joy when I saw the box of baking goodies and tea - Jenny obviously knows me well!

I love poppy seeds but haven't baked with them in while so was delighted to see these included. They certainly won't last long but first I need to decide whether to bake muffins or take inspiration from The Great British Bake Off and make bagels.

I love discovering new foods through Foodie Pen Pals and I had never tried candied papaya (come to think of it I'd never tried papaya in any form). It's delicious and I'm excited to find something to use it in. I have also never used glycerine and will be rifling through my cook books to find a recipe that calls for it.

As a chocaholic the milk chocolate chunks and 80% chocolate were very welcome gifts! The chocolate bar is very dark and bitter - I think it'll be good for grating in/on things for some really intense chocolate flavour and I think some cookies might be in order!

Jenny also send me the best cupcake cases she has found and some decaf tea which will ease the guilt of my tea addiction! What a wonderful parcel to receieve and all the contents will be featuring in future blog posts.

If you are interested in/ intrigued by Foodie Pen Pals, more information can be found here: http://thisisrocksalt.com/foodie-penpals/