Tuesday, 15 December 2009

christmas treat boxes - delivery number one!

have been awful at updating this old blog lately, mainly due to immense busy bakingness, which is a good thing!

I will be doing a mass upload very soon, but here is a pleasing treat box picture to be going along with....

Thursday, 29 October 2009

christmas treat boxes 2009

daring bakers: macaroons

The Daring Bakers’ challenge for October 2009 was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern.

not only is my post late...ahhh! stupid brain confused dates and weekends but I can not turn off italics in blogspot, nor can I get it to format the recipe properly.  I must walk away from the computer and sit calmly elsewhere until I can muster the energy to retype everything....meh. 

Sunday, 25 October 2009

helloisittea.com is alive!

finally cracked the codex that is flash and dreamweaver website building and made my website all by my little old self.
head now hurting and think leg muscles have atrofied.  but it is done, and with a few tweaks I think it will be perfect.  hurrah and now zzzzzzzzzz....

Sunday, 27 September 2009

daring bakers: pate feuilletee

the september 2009 daring bakers' challenge was hosted by steph of a whisk and a spoon.  she chose the french treat, vols-au-vent based on the puff pastry recipe by michel richard from the cookbook baking with julia by dorie greenspan.

i have been blathering on about wanting to make pate feuilletee (le puff pastry) for a fair old while now, so this challenge, and a new kitchen table (!) gave me the ultimate opportunity.  I was worried a little about the daunting task of making this pastry, mainly because everyone always says its either too hard or takes too long to bother with.  But I have to say I was exceedingly pleased, time wise the first 4 turns went smoothly and quickly, then I left it overnight in the fridge and completed the last two turns and baked it the following day.

being all about the sweet things in life my vols-au-vent are filled with layered raspberry compote and vanilla custard cream, topped with fresh raspberries.  I used the rest of the pastry to make a raspberry and custard cream mille-feuille, some vanilla sugar plamiers and, just because, some cinnamon pin-wheels. yum!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

plum almond yoghurt mini-cakes with vanilla roasted plums and creme fraiche

it was the market of local food producers this weekend as part of the brighton food festival, and it was wonderful!  so many delicious offerings, I picked up some amazing goats cheeses, a date and apple chutney that I have hidden away for christmas, a spicy plum sauce and some delicious ripe plums too.

after spending what was a rather gloomy day today at my laptop working on my website I couldn't resist using up the plums for dessert (dinner was a scrummy salmon fillet on top of mustard braised leek and cabbage...mmmmm and indeed, hmmmm).

for the plums i decided to use the base of the fig, almond yoghurt cake i made before but this time i made the cakes in my 4" tart rings and roasted the remainder of the plums with vanilla sugar to serve hot with the cooled cakes, and a dollop of creme fraiche.


musical cherry blossom engagement cupcakes & topper

in collaboration with cake-partner in crime lucy...

perhaps i have been watching too much true blood...

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Daring Bakers: Dobos Torta

just a note....blogger is driving me nuts, merging all my text! ack!
August's Daring Bakers' Challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

sponge cake layers
6 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
1 1/3c icing sugar, divided
1tsp vanilla extract
95g plain flour + 17g cornflour
pinch of salt
2oz shelled pistachio nuts, quite finely chopped

chocolate buttercream
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1c caster sugar
110g dark chocolate
250g butter, at room temperature

caramel topping
1c caster sugar
180ml water
40ml lemon juice
1tbsp sunflower oil

finishing touches
whole, shelled pistachios
5oz shelled and roughly chopped pistachios

sponge layers
1. position racks in top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 200C

2. cut 6 pieces of baking paper to fit the baking sheets - using a 9" cake pan draw a circle on each...as I made lots of mini tortas I drew round a 4" tart ring 6 times on each sheet. thus each tray would be for one cake, I made 6 mini cakes in total. make sure you turn the paper over...pen ink cake is not good!

3. beat the egg yolks with 2/3c icing sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes.

4. in another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. gradually beat in the remaining 2/3c icing sugar until the whites firm stiff, shiny peaks. using a large rubber spatula, stir in about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of the white visible. combine the flour and salt. sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour...at this point I folded in chopped pistachios and a little green dye...

5. line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4c (I used about 1 1/2tbsp for my mini ones) of the batter in an eve layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. bake on the top shelf for 5mins (mine took about 3mins). keep repeating this process with the other papers and cake mix. when the cakes are done invert onto a flat surface and carefully peel back the paper, slide the cake layer back onto the paper to cool. trim each layer into a neat round using a sharp knife, I used a large cookie cutter to trim mine to about 3".

chocolate buttercream
1. prepare a double boiler

2. whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about 5mins

3. fit the bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan. cook the egg mix, whisking constantly, for 2-3mins until it thickens a bit. whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3mins

4. scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. it should be quite thick and sticky in consistency

5. when cool, beat in the butter, a small piece at a time, using an electric hand whisk. you should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. chill while you make the caramel topping

caramel buttercream
1. choose the best looking cake layers for the caramel tops

2. line a baking sheet with parchment and butter, place the cake layers on the paper and divide into 6 equal wedges (if doing the one large cake, using just one layer and split into 12)

3. stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. bring to the boil over a medium heat stirring often to dissolve the sugar. once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn up the heat to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel

4. pour, very quickly and evenly, over the cake wedges, spread with a spatula to get an even coverage

5. leave to cool the cut our the wedges with a sharp knife

assembling the dobos
1. spread a layer of buttercream on one of the cake layers, repeating til you have 5 layers stacked up. cover the sides and top of the cake...repeat with the remaining mini cakes! this took AGES! damn my mini-cakes!

2. press the chopped nuts round the sides of the cake

3. propping a pistachio under each wedge so the it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cakes in a spoke pattern

4. refrigerate until icing is set, about 2 hours, let slices come to room temperature for best possible flavour

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

strawberry milkshake cupcakes

two weeks away from my kitchen has left me with a huge baking need...so far I have made a giant moussaka, a spinach pie (spankopita), the below yummy cupcakes and as I type this there are some brownies a-bakin' in my oven....wheeee! these cupcakes are pretty great, I do have to say, I used fresh strawberries with no other flavourings and they were so full of that yummy strawberry-ness. perfect.

pecan blueberry cinnamon rolls

oh heaven! these were my first rolls, and they were sublime! The smell that filled the house was just too much, mouth-wateringly good. They went down a treat at work in the morning, delish! The recipe is from the lovely Leila Lindholm. and then I went to Greece....bliss...

Monday, 27 July 2009

daring bakers challenge: teacakes! ...(mallows)...

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network. time and life stopped me make the milan cookies, saved for a later date for sure, but I did conquer the mallows!
totally splendid, was pretty nervy about the marshmallows but was really happy with them. I think next time I will have a bit more confidence to make sure the mallow top covers the cookie nicely - was more worried about getting it all over the place so think I may have been a bit over cautious - but that did result in more mallows! Mallow...teacake, for the brits...Recipe For the cookie base 3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/8 bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon...which I forgot! darn.
170g unsalted butter
3 large eggs, whisked together
homemade marshmallows - as below
chocolate gaze - as below
1. blend the dry ingredients in amixer
2. on a low speed add the butter and mix til sandy
3. add the eggs and mix to combine
4. form the dough into a disk, wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 1 hour - up to 3 days
5. line baking trays with baking paper
6. preheat oven to 375F/180C
7. roll out cookie dough to 1/8" thick, on a lightly floured surface. use a 1 1/2 inch cookie cutter - or a small plastic tube
if you are me - to cut out small rounds of dough
8. transfer to the prepped pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown - let cool to room temperature
9. pipe a 'kiss' of marshmallow onto each cookie. let sit at room temperature for 2 hours
10. line a cookie sheet with baking paper
11. one at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze
12. lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl
13. place on the prepped pan and let set at room temperature until coating is firm, about 1-2 hours
marshmallow recipe
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup - i used golden syrup
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp powdered gelatin - I could only find sheet gelatin, 4 sheets of which I softened in water, drained and added to the
syrup off the heat
2 tbsp cold water - omitted due to use of sheet gelatin
2 egg whites, room temp
1/4 tsp vanilla extract - omitted, I split the mixture and added 1tsp rose water with pink dye to one half, and 2tsp cocoa
in 1tbsp water to the other
1. in a saucepan, combine the water, syrup and sugar, bring to "soft-ball" stage (235C)
2. sprinkle gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve - if sheet gelatin like me, soften in water for 10 mins
3. remove syrup from heat and add gelatin (drain first if using sheets)
4. whip the egg whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites
5. add the vanilla - or as I did, rose water or chocolate - and continue whipping until stiff
6. transfer to piping bag - I piped the rose half, and poured the chocolate half into an oiled and icing-sugared tray to set, for cutting int o squares and tossing in cocoa
chocolate glaze - I made half with milk chocolate and half with dark...yummy!
12oz chocolate
2oz vegetable oil
1. melt the 2 ingredients together in a bowl set over simmering water