Mondaying

Right now, I am mostly…

Baking : Following on from last week’s sophisticated birthday cake, this week I tried my hand at something I saw in my Girls’ Night In bookIce Cream Cone cupcakes. They are the prettiest cakes I’ve ever made, and I love them. They tasted OK, but they looked even better.

Reading : I made the mistake of going to the library on Saturday, which means that I collected four books and have started reading all of them. I always do that when I get multiple books from the library!

Drinking : I drank white wine two nights in a row this past weekend! I know that probably doesn’t seem all that exclamation mark-worthy, but I really don’t drink an awful lot. Most of it was in spritzer form, but it still managed to get me drunk both nights.

Writing : I have finally got around to writing a reply to the letter Bev sent me, and I received another letter in the post last week from another penpal, so I have to reply to that too! There’s a post coming on penpals real soon (I keep saying that, but it’s true this time!).

Socialising : With my family! Friday night was spent at my sister’s house with my other sister, niece, and sister-in-law. And then on Saturday night, a few of us went to the pub to celebrate my nephew’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, and I had a nice long chat with him. He’s one of my favourite people to chew the fat with; he’s a big talker!

  

Afternoon Tea

A traditional English afternoon tea is pretty great, there’s no doubt about that. It involves tea and cake and sandwiches, if you do it right, and there’s not much better than tea and cake and sandwiches.

A little while ago I was sent some Twinings tea and asked to have a little afternoon tea of my own. As the lovely package arrived just before I was headed off on a caravan weekend with my friends, I decided to pack up some teacups and take them with me so we could partake in a little afternoon tea of our own!

We didn’t have any sandwiches, but we did treat ourselves to scones from a lovely bakery in Rye. I know that traditionally, scones at an afternoon tea are supposed to be a bit more bitesized that the one pictured, but I don’t believe in doing anything by half! Jen and I chose a cheese scone each, and Anna and Vicky chose a plain one, with jam (Tiptree jam, of course) and cream.

  

Of course, the tea was delicious, being Twinings. It hasn’t been around since 1706 for nothing. It’s very good tea!


I also received some peppermint tea, but I’m yet to decide if I actually like it. I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to tea, but I’m always willing to be turned around on that, so if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know!

If you fancy having your own afternoon tea (and why wouldn’t you? Tea, sandwiches and cake, remember?), Twinings have a fabulous afternoon tea menu. I think it’s about time I made a tea cake, I’ve been meaning to for ages!

*Post contains a PR sample. All photographs are my own.

30 Before 30 ~ Cakes

This is it, the last 30 Before 30 update before I move on to 31 Before 31. Eep! Actually, there will be another general roundup to remind you all of what I have achieved (not that much, but still), before I move on.

Anyway, so I managed to bake the two cakes I required to cross off number 12 on my list. I didn’t get around to doing posts for them, because the last two weeks or so have been manic, so I’m cramming them into one post, and rounding up the cakes item at the same time!

Ginger Cake

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As always, apologies for the less-than-stellar photography skills on display here. Before I start another baking challenge I’m going to try and get some tips on photographing food.

This cake was a bit of a disaster. I got the recipe from Polly May and the Like after she blogged about it and her sister tweeted about how delicious it was. When I came to bake it, I realised that I couldn’t find my loaf tin, which is still bugging me because I only bought it last year! So I decided it would have to be a round cake, which didn’t really work, because it’s not that kind of a cake! And then when I came to make it, it just didn’t feel right – the mix didn’t seem right. I baked it anyway, and fed it to my ginger sisters who seemed to think it was OK, but if I make it again I will make sure I have the right tin! Also, as you can see from the photo, it was a tad overdone on one edge. Oops!

Maltesers Cake

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This is a recipe that I came across on Afeitar’s blog. It’s a Nigella recipe, but I think the name is a bit of a misnomer, because the only Maltesers are on top!

I was much more happy with the outcome of this one, though I haven’t actually eaten any of it myself. I made it on Sunday when my sisters, nephews and niece came round for some tea and cake in honour of my birthday (I always seem to be feeding my sisters cake!). I got a bit stressed out whilst baking it, but I think it turned out OK. I had fairly positive feedback in terms of taste too; I couldn’t bring myself to eat it because it had Horlicks in, and I could really smell it whilst I was baking it. I don’t think I have ever drunk Horlicks, but I can’t stand the smell of it (it reminds me of the old people’s home where my nan used to live). So I haven’t tried any of it, though there is still some left so I might bite the bullet and see what it tastes like.

So that takes my total to ten!

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Ten cakes, not all of them wholly successful, but all of them fun to make. And I enjoyed eating most of them too!

My favourite was probably Herman the German Friendship cake. That’s a very tasty cake!

12. Bake 10 unique cakes

30 Before 30 ~ Cakes ~ Jelly Bean Buns

It’s becoming a bit of a race to the finish to get my ten cakes baked in time for my deadline. Frankly, it’s a little bit pathetic that I can’t manage to bake ten measly cakes in twelve months without taking it to the wire, but that’s me all over, I’m afraid. Deadlines are not my friend.

Anyway, last week I created a new cake! I had seen a recipe for Jelly Bean cakes a while ago, in a recipe book in my kitchen. I then bought some jelly beans, and left them in my friend Hannah’s car for about three weeks. Instead of buying some more jelly beans, I kept waiting for Hannah to return them to me, and no matter how many times we saw each other in the interim, we both kept forgetting. But I finally got them back, and then I realised that I had lost the book with the recipe in. Seriously, it has vanished. Rather than give up, I decided to create a new recipe. Kind of. I used the recipe I have for rock cakes, and simply switched the fruit for jelly beans. And it worked! They taste good, and are so simple to make!

As ever, I’d like to apologise for the quality of photos in this post. I say it every single time, but food photography is hard. Especially when you have to use your phone because your camera battery is dead and you are being super lazy about charging it.

Jelly Bean Buns

Ingredients:
225g/8oz self-raising flour
125g/4oz firm butter or margarine
1 beaten egg
2 tablespoons milk
75g/3oz caster sugar
Jelly Beans

A note on the ingredients: I used two small packets of jelly beans, but in hindsight would probably use a lot less. One pack is probably sufficient, but really it’s up to you how many you want per bun. You may also want to reduce the amount of sugar used considering that you are adding sweets to the recipe instead of the fruit that is given in the original Rock Bun recipe.

Put flour and butter into a bowl. Rub in margarine using fingers.

Add sugar and jelly beans.

Mix to a stiff consistency with beaten egg and milk.

Place rough balls of mixture onto baking tray. Be aware that the mixture will spread so keep a sizable gap between the balls (bigger than I left!).

Bake in a hot oven (220C/Gas Mark 7) for 12 to 15 minutes until firm and slightly golden.

They really are rather delicious, though only if you like jelly beans, I should imagine. They melt into the cake but are still chewy, which I think makes for an interesting texture! Let me know if you try them!

10 new cakes – eight down – two to go!

30 Before 30 ~ Cakes

I’m on a roll with the cakes. Since deciding that fairy cakes are definitely the way to go, I’ve been searching out lots of yummy recipes. Last weekend I made Oreo cakes, and they were delicious.

I found the recipe on Helen Hearts when I was trawling the web for recipes. I much prefer using recipes with British measures, simply because I don’t have any American-style cups to use. Actually, that’s not true, because at the weekend Anna gave me a set that she had; they are missing the actual 1 cup measure, but as I have the 1/2 cup and 1/3 cup that’s not a problem. Anyway, using American recipes was hard because I was always worrying that the conversions I had worked out weren’t quite right. So the fact that the Oreo recipe had British measurements was great, as well as the fact that it was a recipe for cakes with an actual Oreo baked inside. Amazing.

As a sidenote, every time I said the word Oreo at the weekend, I got told off by my friend Jen, because she kept getting I Can’t Fight This Feeling in her head. I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about, until she explained that Oreo Speedwagon sang it. At least that’s what I thought she was saying, right up until two minutes ago when I tried googling ‘Oreo Speedwagon’, and found that what she was actually saying was REO Speedwagon. A band I have never heard of, although I do know the song. So, although Jen will never, ever read this, I would like to say the following: 1) As I said at the weekend, I cannot be held responsible for the name of a very well known biscuit brand getting a song in someone’s head, and 2) I wonder if she always thought it was Oreo Speedwagon, or if she knew it was REO. Because at no point did she mention it.

Anyway, so I am never sure about repeating the recipe in my post, or linking back to where I found it. Obviously there are copyright issues, and I don’t want to step on any toes, but as Helen found this recipe on StumbleUpon, and it doesn’t appear to be her own personal concoction, I feel OK about repeating it here. I hope that’s OK!

Ingredients

For the cakes:

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 14g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 pack of Oreos

For the icing:

  • 45g unsalted butter
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 2tbsp milk
  • Any remaining Oreos

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees or Gas Mark 4.

Place 12 paper cases in a cupcake baking tray and add half an Oreo to the each case (it should be the part with cream in).

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Put the remaining halves of the Oreos in a bowl to one side as you’ll use them for the icing later.

Cream together the butter and caster sugar, until pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs a little at a time, beating after each.

Fold in the flour and cocoa powder.

Fill the paper cases evenly with cake mixture.

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(A photo of me, baking! That’s because I was doing it at Anna’s house)

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Bake for around 15 minutes, or until a knife inserted in centre comes out clean.

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For the icing, first crush your remaining Oreos into crumbs and place them in a bowl. The easiest way to do this is with a rolling pin and a sandwich bag, but I’d recommend double-bagging them so you don’t split the bag!
Add the remaining butter and icing sugar, along with 2 tablespoons of milk and whisk all together for about 5-10 minutes.

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When your cakes have cooled down, spread the Oreo buttercream onto the top of each cake. You can add an Oreo to the top for decoration if you want. As Anna had some mini Oreos left over from when she made an Oreo cheesecake (also yummy), I used some of them.

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Not only do these beauties taste yummy, the bottom looks like this.

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It’s not a great photo, but I love the fact that the word Oreo is imprinted onto the bottom of the case!

If you like Oreos, I would definitely recommend these cakes. Not only do they have an Oreo baked into them (I can’t stress enough how awesome that is), the icing is lovely too. I suppose if you didn’t want to make chocolate sponges, you could make vanilla cakes and still use the Oreos.

10 new cakes – seven down – three to go!