Is this cake POPular??

September 27, 2008 - Leave a Response

Birthday time!!!!!!!! - & we all know what this means…

Birthday CAKE time!!!!!!!!!!

Damn right, it’s cake time of year again – well, I say again… I’ve never actually made a birthday cake before *blush blush*. However, hopefully I have done the task justice this year with my themed cake. Go on, guess what it was shaped as :D :D

On Wednesday it was the 30th year anniversary of Grease Lightining coming out in the cinemas… so me & four friends went along for a laugh to go and watch it at the deluxe screen [can i get an oooh?] at our local cinema. To keep with the theme of cinema, i decided on making a… wait for it… POPCORN THEMED CAKE!!

It looks like a biiiig tub of popcorn. Look at the preetty picture:

Nice, huh?

It took me and Mother hours; we had never iced a cake in that way before and we had to make an enormous quantity of cake mixture!!! But in the end it was worth it; it tastes just as lovely as it looks and went down a treat with all my friends. :)

The cake recipe was that of a butter cake; the same quantaties and directions were used as in the ‘Roisin’; more commonly known as: http://ifoundafish.wordpress.com/2008/06/22/gateau-de-bateau/ ;)

I then made a considerable amount LESS buttercream than i had in that particular gateau, as it was only required to attatch the popcorn to the cake; I can just remember how long the mass leftover buttercream was taking up the fridge for after our last attempt!

The icing was bought ‘ready to roll’ and the popcorn was popped at home in the microwave. We boiled and sievved some [delicious] apricot jam, which we coated the cake with once it had been cut into shape; we didn’t however have time to colour the remaining icing, cut it into strips and make the typical ‘stripy red-and-white’ popcorn cone. Never mind!!!

Not all went well though, I shall have you know… the name’s not ‘catastrophe in process’ for nothing ;)

Who let DAD loose in the kitchen?

September 3, 2008 - Leave a Response

So this is… a cobbler, you say?

Need I really explain why my Dad does not usually cook?
You know, I think it must run in the family…

Banana Hit!

August 30, 2008 - 2 Responses

In the words of Mother: “All I can really say is banana, banana… and more banana!”

How can I put it any better? I think you get the jist of what our cake revolves around… But don’t go thinking that this is any ordinary banana cake. Three layers of scrummy surprises await you inside. So let’s dig in!

 

For more info on the three layers themselves, feel free to visit the post below, but as for the filling – now that was the fun part!! We took one egg yolk and thoroughly whisked it [in a Starbucks mug, no less] with 2 or 3 heaped tablespoons of sugar. We then mashed half a large banana. [or should I say whisked a banana, as my original plan to mash the banana with a potato masher didn't quite work out... but that's another story, tehe.] Okay, well we then whisked half a banana with half the mug of this yummy egg-yolk-and-sugar mix, and did the same again so that we had two mugfuls.

At this point it was time for the butter, which had been sitting in the bowl waiting to adjust to room temperature, to get whisked too. So we whisked it by itself first, then added sugar, bit at a time, before adding the banana mixture. Which was a very slow process, let me tell you! I had to dollop it in by the spoonful whilst the electric whisk continued to do it’s stuff, not to mention stopping the machine every few moments to scrape everything through with my handy spatula.

It sure was worth it though!!! What we ended up with was a light and extremely delicious banana buttercream. Not too buttery, not too sugary, with just the right amount of banana flavour in there. Perfect for our cake!!! Speaking of which, it was time to sandwich my layers together.

 Layer No.1 went down on the cake board: A normal sponge cake with just the subtlest hint of cinnamon, and then our lovely banana-cream went down on the cake. We didn’t hold back on the banana! Once we had finished a layer of banana-cream, we layered thinly sliced bananas over the top… but we were worried the bananas might brown, so we soaked them in a delicious Polish Honey Liqueur first!!! Mmm mm, those banana slices sure were tasty.

Above the banana slices went Layer No.2: A normal sponge cake with just the subtlest hint of cocoa, to give it that warm brown colour. [The bottom of which was just scraped with banana-cream, to make sure it was sandwiched securely] We continued this process of layering until we reached the top, which we covered with the remaining banana-cream [after coating the sides first, of course] - the end result of which was an appetizing creamy-coloured cake… that packs a banana hit!

Experiments are what I do best…

August 30, 2008 - One Response

Since the start of this month, I have been promising myself that I will enter ‘Layers of Cake’: an event for – well, I’ll give you 3 guesses! ;)

It took me nearly the entire month to finally do something about it… Looks like I’ll be entering this event ‘stylishly late’.

HOWEVER… don’t you go thinking that I shall be entering the classic disaster-cake, made in a rush with me dithering all the way. Oh no, I have the advantage of a whole MONTH of planning, and the cake shall taste perhaps even lovelier than it looks – Erm, eventually. Yes okay, that’s right… I still haven’t finished the cake. Shame on me. There’s still one day to go until the closing of the event, I’ve got time!! We – meaning Mother and I - worked our socks off on Thursday, and shall finish the masterpiece tonight. Wanna know what we’re making? I can tell you’re hanging off the edge of your seat…

The Experimental Spicy Banana Cake

Experimenting may sound slightly risky… but where’s the fun otherwise!?! Our cake will consist of three layers…

Layer one, Cinnamon sponge:

Layer two, Ginger sponge:

And Layer three, a normal sponge but with a touch of cocoa – to give the layer a brown tint which will look fab when cutting slices:

Whilst the recipe may be new, the flavour combinations have atleast been previously tried and tested. You may be surprised to find that cinnamon, ginger and banana are three flavours that really compliment each other… dare I say perfectly? I can barely believe this combination hasn’t been stumbled upon before!

Join me later today when I’ll be cementing all three of these layers together in one towering layer cake – feel free to comment with any suggestions as to what you think I should add in between the layers and as a cream/frosting to coat the top and sides [Although I'm fairly sure I will be using bananas :) ]

We simply CAN’T have a fish pie without prawns!

August 15, 2008 - Leave a Response

 I mentioned in my last post that we had recently been on holiday – we were staying with old friends in their house by the sea. I’m planning on posting a few more entries on the holiday itself [it was fantasitacular, as was the food!!] but first, I’ve just got to write about the first ever recipe taken out of my brand-spanking new book, which Margie got as a present for me whilst we were up there.

Yesterday, Mother said she had some cod in the fridge and asked me what we should do with it. So I raced upstairs to take a gander in the first new cookbook I’ve ever owned! What treats lay in store, it has a whole section on fish - *gasps*. I chose the traditional fish pie, as we had all the ingredients, and Rick had made a lovely pie on holiday which I wanted to imitate ;)

All the ingredients, that is… except prawns! I had spent the whole day shopping, and now, just when I was finally home and looking forward to doing some cooking at last – I was sent all the way to shirley on my bike to get some gosh-darn prawns. I had to look in 3 different shops before I found the right ones! But it was worth it, they were on offer in aldi ;) And, ofcourse, the fish pie defenitely wouldn’t have been the same without them. They were scrummy! Thank the Lord that Mother found some potatoes at the back of her cupboard, or I would have had to carry 5 kilos worth of potatoes home with me too :P

I’m going camping in France later today, and as this may be the last half-decent meal I have in over a week, I promised myself I’d bake something worth remembering – but did i succeed?

Pie at last, prawns and all

I think it’s safe to say so! Okay, so it might not look quite so appetizing on the plate as it did when it had just been prepared… but the taste definitely made up for it :)

Recipe
Ingredients
450g/1 lb cod fillets, skinned [we only had 300g in the fridge though, so we just added more of the...]
125g large prawns [or 180g, if like us your fridge isn't as full of cod as you'd hoped!]
450ml milk [3 quarters of a pint]
1 small onion peeled and quartered [aka 3 shallots]
salt and freshly fround pepper, to taste
900g/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks of roughly the same size
100g/ 3 and a half oz butter.
2 large eggs, hard-boiled and quartered [these are completely optional! I can't stand hard-boiled egg, but Mother likes it - so I only used one egg, and put it in the right half of the pie ;) And can somebody please comment and tell me how to hard-boil an egg without immediately cracking it? There must be a secret method...]
198g can sweetcorn, drained [what's wrong with 200g, may i ask?]
2 tbsp chopped parsley
3 tbsp plain flour
50g / 2 oz Cheddar cheese, grated.

Method
The first thing I did was prepare the potatoes, place them in a saucepan with some lightly salted water, and put them on the boil. I then measured out all my ingredients and started to hard-boil the egg, before preheating the oven to 200 degrees celcius [which is 400 in Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 6.]

Whilst the egg and the potatoes were boiling, I placed my fish in a shallow frying pan [after pouring in half a litre of water to see if the milk would fit with it in there] then poured over a third of my milk and added the shallotts. I brought this to the boil and simmered for 10 minutes until the fish was cooked, then removed the fish with a slotted spoon and placed it in a baking dish. It was meant to be a 1.4 litre baking dish, but I think we used a slightly different one – ours was square and deeper than the oblong one in the picture. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve it for later.

The potatoes should be soft by now, I got rid of the starchy liquid they were in and mashed them with 40g of the butter [1 and a half oz] and 2-3 tablespoons of the remaining milk, then put them to one side for later.

At this point the prawns went in, or should i say on – you’re supposed to arrange them on top of the fish until it is covered, i think. However, as i have mentioned we were lacking in the cod department, so my prawns sort of filled in all the gaps where there wasn’t enough fish ;) I wasn’t so keen on arranging the egg on top, as the recipe indicated to do at this point, as nobody in my family likes egg. Apart from Mother that is, so I arranged the egg on top half of the pie, so that she could have that part of the pie all to herself, and the rest of us could snack away on the other half. :D Ingenious, eh? Don’t forget to sprinkle some parsley over, it really makes a difference!

Once I had done that, I melted the remaining butter in a saucepan, stirred in the flour and cooked it gently for 1 minute or so, stirring. I whisked in the reserved cooking liquid and also the remaining milk, [pretty much everything that you have left goes in at this point] which was then cooked for a tad longer than the recommended 2 minutes, as it took it’s time thickening. Pour this sauce all over your fish mixture, making sure that you do so evenly, then leave to cool slightly, before proceeding to the next step…

…Spreading the mashed potato over the top of the pie, and sprinkling over the grated cheese. At this point the pie finally looks nice, especially if you own a potato-mashing machine like the one that Rick uses! Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until it is crisp and golden, after which you can leave to cool in the tray for as long as it takes before you serve it – the heat keeps surprisingly well.

Bring me a fishy on a little dishy, bring me a fishy when the boat comes in

 

 

Fruity Flapjacks

August 13, 2008 - One Response

I can still taste them in my mouth right now! The easiest thing I’ve ever baked by far; just as rewarding as some of the more difficult recipes – and just as popular, it seems! Earlier this evening Fiona, one of Mother’s closest friends, visited us for dinner. Flapjacks are her favourite, and she had happily chewed her way through three before I was excused from the table, success or what ;)

                                            

These were baked in my, that’s right, brand new cake tin! A present from mother, who seems to be a lot more open to cooking and baking than she used to be. It was bought whilst we were on holiday with friends, after the incident with the lemon shortbread slices where we discovered [to my horror] that we didn’t own a single cake tin that wasn’t round. We had to postpone the baking of the biscuits until after we had visited my lovely Babcia – a days worth of chores, pound-shop toffees and attempts to understand Polish were not in vain though, as we left [late] that evening, car boot piled with rusting bread tins.

I say not in vain… the darn things didn’t fit in our poxy oven. So we had to make do with the baking dish usually saved for grilling food in. Which brings us back to the lovely new square cake tin Mother bought for me whilst on holiday!! In addition to not one but two lovely loaf tins of different sizes, a - wait for it: muffin tray!!! and even, upon seeing my eyes light up, a cookie cutter in the shape of a music note. Now I can make cookies for my choir friends in music note shapes!!!! That was a brilliant day…

Determined to put our new things to good use, on the way home from our holidays we decided on these Fruity Flapjacks – *licks lips*

Ingredients [for a batch of 16 smallish squares]

75g margerine [or butter, if you like]
3 tablespoons golden syrup
75g soft brown sugar
150g porridge oats
A large handful of dried fruit, such as sultanas; raisins and candied citrus peel.
A pinch of ginger [which I couldn't taste, so try adding more if you want a stronger ginger flavour]

Instructions

  1. After preheating the oven to 160 degrees celcius, I melted my Vitalite margerine in a medium-sized saucepan, stirring in my tablespoons of Golden Syrup with Cecilia Spoon - when the butter was no longer in noticable lumps, I added the sugar, and continued to stir until all had melted and combined. [Don't let the mixture burn - a 3 should be the maximum heat on the hob!]
  2. Cecilia assisted me in stirring the mixture as Mother poured the oats in, a little at a time. Coat the oats thouroughly, the whole mixture should be gooey and golden.
  3. Dollop the mixture into a greased 20.5 x 20.5 [deepish?] square cake tin, and press it into a level layer that covers the entire of the tin’s base.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Don’t worry that it is not set when it comes out of the oven, the heat melts the syrup and sugar mixture, leaving it squidgy to touch. Cut your fruity flapjack into 16 squares whilst still squidgy, as it’s impossible later! Leave in the tin, though, and serve when cold.

Lemon Shortbread, Nice Slices!

August 13, 2008 - Leave a Response

I was so excited about baking for the first time in what must have been a couple of months, that these simple looking slices were going to feature on the first ever post to be blogged before I had even made the things! I managed to restrain myself for the few days it took for me to be let loose in the kitchen – but then I was so busy with holidays and such I never got to make that post after all…

So here it is! The awaited [by me] post featuring the delicious lemony shortbread slices, from my newest cookbook :D No wait, I’ve since got 3 cookbooks… Ah well, I haven’t yet tried a recipe from this particular one! [For those of you that are interested, 'this particular one' is namely: Quick and Easy Recipes, by Kate Fryer]

           

Ingredients [We made 28 fairly large fingers, as we adapted the original ingredients to fit our baking tray]

250g of butter at room temperature
The grated rind of 1 lemon
115g of caster cugar [plus a little to dredge before serving]
50g ground rice [which you can find beside the baking ingredients in Morrisons, not the rice!]

Instructions

  1. Grease [or line with grease-proof paper, as we did] a 20 x 30cm deep oblong baking dish. Put all of your butter in a bowl, steadying it with a damp tea-towel placed underneath. Beat the butter until soft, using Cecilia Spoon.
  2. Add your caster sugar to your grated lemon rind [which shouldn't include any white pith!] Then beat this mixture into your butter, until all is light and fluffy.
  3. Stir in your plain flour and fine ground rice using Cecilia Spoon, until the ingredients begin to stick together.
  4. You have now made shortbread mixture! Tip it into the prepared tin & press into an even layer over the base, using floured fingers.
  5. Prick the dough all over with a metal fork; the prongs should touch the bottom of the baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until pale golden brown.
  6. Let the shortbread stand for 10 minutes before cutting into fingers, using a round-bladed knife. Let the fingers cool completely in the baking dish. Don’t forget to dredge with caster sugar before serving!

These were ever so yummy, and went in no time at all, despite there being so many!! This probably had a lot to do with me descending them upon anybody who entered the house, whether it be the sister’s boyfriend’s father, or the best friend and her mother ;) I thought they tasted just as shortbread should, and that they defenitely would not be the same without the lemon – however, many commented that they were too sweet, so next time I suggest using less sugar. These go perfectly with ice-crem and summer fruits, as you can see below!!

Enjoying the nibbles? He was our favourite rabbit…

August 12, 2008 - Leave a Response

My dad is always coming up with new ways to entertain himself. Last month it was creating a garden outside his office at work, then building a picnic basket to put inside… God knows where he finds time to actually do his job, they must dispair at his cement plant! This meant that when, one Sunday evening over lunch, I asked oh-so-innocently: “What does rabbit taste of Daddy?”, he took this as an excuse to build – that’s right, a rabbit trap.

What a lovely surprise awaited us when we returned from our holiday by the seaside next week – a vile stench wafting from our fridge, coming from what we soon realised was a dead bunny. I barely wanted to know what Dad’s roommate said when he brought it home to his shared house down in Cambridge; but upon asking I was surprised to discover that they both enjoyed themselves immensely; skinning and gutting the poor things!

Well I wasn’t going to let this opportunity go to waste in any case, and jumped at the chance of making some scrummy rabbit dishes. I told mother that we would be making rabbit hotpot, then proceeded to scour the internet, searching for the perfect recipe [meaning the one that we weren't missing too many of the ingredients!] before writing the two I couldn’t decide between down on a piece of paper in my very best handwriting… before realising that back on the ranch, Mother had been preparing the hotpot her own way. I arrived just in time to see the dish go in the oven - and to eat it later! 

In answer to my own question… rabbit tastes just like strong chicken, except with a subtle hint of something else. Have you ever been to a farm, and smelt that… farm smell? As you pass the animals? It was as if i could taste that smell in this dish! Unpleasant as it sounds, in some pieces you could barely taste it, and it added a great flavour which was very enjoyable to eat. However, in other pieces of rabbit, the taste was much more pronounced and I found it hardly bareable.

Where there’s smoke, there’s Emily in the kitchen!

June 30, 2008 - 3 Responses

Stir fry attempt numero uno:

 

 not so much stirring and frying as sticking and burning...

Not so much stirring and frying and sticking and burning… in other words, oh dear!!

Let’s start from the beginning – my sister was getting fed up of all these new recipes being tried for dinner which she really wasn’t fond of, so suggested a stirfry because… well, what could go wrong?

What DIDN’T go wrong? For something so supposedly simple it sure was a lot of work – and it didn’t look or taste edible at the end either. A few bulletpoints on what went to pot…

  • First off, how on earth do the noodles work!?!?! We used ‘straight to the wok’ noodles which were incredibly overpriced, to make things a bit easier – straight to the wok my elbow, they stuck and burnt and didnt separate out; we ended up with big brown clumps of noodle…
  • The wok i used was sooo bad. I don’t know what happened, but it was meant to be non-stick and it everything stuck to it! It really got a bit out of control when I was trying to stir the vegetables and noodles and such with my wooden spatula and the spatula got stuck. In the end i had to dump all the not-ready-at-all food onto plates whilst i attempted to scrub the [may i add, never before used] wok with two types of washing-up liquid, bleach and the scrubby side of a sponge – the sponge had to be thrown after, as it was beyond repair. I then continued to stir-fry the food in a non stick frying pan… so much easier! Why, oh why didn’t i do that in the first place?
  • How much oil was i meant to add? I have a feeling that part of the reason everything stuck so much was because there wasn’t enough oil, but by the time i actually served the food, it was literally swimming in oil! It was disgusting! I’m not much of a fan of oil at the best of times and it was either too little or too much; rather confusing…
  • At one point the whole kitchen was so completely filled with smoke that I could barely see – and I don’t even know why!
  • I did the meat all wrong too: I was meant to put it in first or something, because it cooks slowest? Yeah, i sorta forgot…

Phew - I’ve ran out of things that went wrong!! Well it’s safe to say that this is the biggest catastrophe so far ;) – don’t you fret, I’m sure my next posts won’t be quite as depressing ;P

Gâteau de bateau

June 22, 2008 - 2 Responses

That means boat cake ;)

…it rhymes!!!

For father’s day, I decided to get my daddy something special. He told me not to buy him anything, and I knew he already was getting everything he wanted from my sister, so what option did I have left but to make him a lovely, humungous cake?

Not just any cake… A Gâteau de bateau ;)

The official name for it is actually Roisin Cake, as I promised my friend [you guessed it, her name was Roisin...]

Here’s a picture:

 That\'s right, for Father\'s day I got my dad a Roisin!

It has all the best things in/on it :)

  • Buttercream, which I LOVE. [even better- chocolate buttercream!]
  • Curly Wurlys, which everyone loves
  • Moist-ness… *drools*
  • NUTELLA [Well, actually, I have a bit of  confession to make... I don't like hazelnuts :( So the 'Nutella' I use is actually belgian chocolate spread :D]
  • Massive slices… even if you try and cut yourslef an itsy bitsy thin slice, you end up with a lovely big one anyway, because the Roisin’s so tall! [How ironic, beacuse Roisin is actually a midget :P]

There was also a whole bunch of other things, which I suppose I better write out too – ‘Massive slices and moist-ness’ isn’t much use when you’re working from a recipe ;)

Cake
375g butter, softened
3 teaspoons vanilla essence
500g caster sugar
6 eggs
675g self-raising flour
375ml milk

Chocolate buttercream [beware - this makes far too much!!!]
450g butter, softened
500g icing sugar
6 tablespoons of milk
150g chocolate milk powder

You will also need:
8 wooden skewers
25cm x 40cm prepared board
26cm x 36cm baking dish
Nutella/Belgian chocolate spread
Decorations! Such as edible white paper, for the sails; Curly Wurlys; a slab of chocolate for the plank and edible letters to write words with.

What to do

  1. Preheat oven to 180-190˚C ; grease and line a deep 26cm x 36cm baking dish.
  2. Beat butter, essence and sugar in a small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Stir in flour and milk, in two batches.
  3.  Spread mixture into prepared pan. Bake in the oven until the cake is cooked. Stand cake in pan for about 10 minutes; turn onto wire rack to cool. Using a serrated knife, level the cake top and trim the sides. [This is where we noticed our cake hadn't appeared to have baked properly...]
  4. Cut cake in half lengthways, cut-side down; cut 7cm piece from each half. [Go on then, I'll show you another picture to help]

5. Assemble the cake pieces on your prepared board to form a boat shape; secure with 5 skewers.
6. Trim the front of the boat at angles to make bow, discard cake trimmings. Trim skewers to the same heights as the cake. [i think this calls for another picture!]

7.  Make buttercream: Beat butter in a small bowl with electric mixer until as white as possible. Gradually beat in chocolate milk powder and half of the icing sugar, milk, then the remaining icing sugar.
8. Spread the buttercream all over the boat, then decorate with pieces of Curly Wurly.
9. Write words with the edible letters, position the chocolate plank [I suggest using a 15g cadburys chocolate block for this] and hold it up with a piece of skewer or toothpick underneath, if you’re worried it might fall out.
10. Thread the edible paper on remaining skewers, and position the three masts on boat. Voila!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.