Sunday, 29 May 2011

work work work!

I've been mega busy the past few weeks getting ready for the opening of my new work place where I'm head pastry chef! We start cooking in the kitchen on Tuesday and open to the public on Monday June  6th! If anyone gets chance to come down and have a look do it!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Busy, busy, busy!

How long has it been since my last blog??? far too long! So busy the past few weeks, leading up to Easter was packed with making all sorts of chocolate treats! If you pop over to my page then you will see what I've been up to! Well the past few days I have took a break from all things chocolate and have been making some classic treats......toffee apples and rum babas! Also finished and delivered a 2 tier boiled fruitcake birthday cake! Who would like to know a simple recipe for toffee apples? delish and easy to make (just be careful with hot sugar!!!!)

400g golden caster sugar (caster or granulated is fine too)
200ml water
1 tsp vinegar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla
lollipop sticks or wooden skewers
6 apples (any type you like)

place apples in a bowl and pour boiling water over to remove wax, and then dry. mix water and sugar in a pan and place on heat to boil, add vinegar and golden syrup. using a sugar thermometer cook mixture til it reaches "crack" temperature. carefully remove from heat, add vanilla and then stick wooden skewers in apples and tilt pan to carefully dip each apple in sugar and coat. place each toffee apple on greaseproof paper and leave to cool and harden, if sugar mixture starts to become too cold and hard place back on heat to remelt. TIP: the vinegar is needed to stop the sugar crystallising (becoming cloudy and grainy) the acid cleans the pan and sugar, lemon juice can also be used.
well, Ipromise not to leave so long between blogs! I'll be back in a few days!!!!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

busy week!

Well we raised £81 for comic relief which was well over our target so that was amazing!! Been pretty busy this last few days, just finished a cupcake tower for a little 11month old baby who is very poorly. Her parents are having a Disney themed party for her as she's too ill to travel there and so I was asked if I would do this cake............of course I was honoured to be involved! Alot of money was raised to throw the party and create some memories.
I made one large milk chocolate chip cupcake and 50 small vanilla and chocolate ones, all with pink vanilla frosting! and decorated in a Disney style with red hearts, golden stars and pink blossoms.............finished with some rainbow glitter!

The gorgeous frosting is defo worth trying!!!!
225g butter
125g icing sugar
5tbsp plain flour
2 cup milk
vanilla extract
colouring if required
beat butter and sugar til light and fluffy. cook milk and flour on stove til thick. when cooled add milk mixture to butter gradually and beat til light and fluffy.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Red Nose Day is here!!!

Me and my 2 little helpers have reached our target and gone past it!!! so far we've raised over £70 for Comic Relief by swapping shortbread cookies for donations!!! We've actually sold out!!!! but people can still donate on our page!! every single penny cn mke a difference both here in the UK and in Africa!!!!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

how to make the perfect meringues!

 Well, it's been a little longer than I would have liked since my last blog but I've been really busy making Red Nose Day shortbreads for Comic Relief! I'll be posting how I got on in a few days!
Right, meringues......they're a really simple, classic sweet that can very easily go wrong. I thought I'd do a step by step guide on how to make them, finishing with a yummy meringue that is crisp on the outside and soft and chewy inside, topped with vanilla ice cream and strawberries.

Firstly, make sure that your eggs are not straight out of the fridge (room temp eggs are the best for baking, they whip up much better!). Also make make sure that your mixing bowl and whisk are really clean, the best thing to do is wipe a little lemon juice or vinegar on them and this will get rid of any grease that may be lurking as this will stop your eggs whipping up.
I always add half of my sugar in with my whites and start whisking and when peaks start to form, while it's whisking gradually add the rest of the sugar and continue whisking until nice stiff peaks form and u can tip the bowl upside down without the meringe falling! whilst whisking you can add a few drops of vinegar into the mix if you like as this can help in keeping your meringues soft in the middle when baking (I don't do this but it is a fail safe if you're not used to making them) also a few drops of vanilla make the finished product just that bit nicer if added at this stage.
Next, piping out the meringues. A fab tip is to have a bowl of hot water with a round cutter in, when piping onto greaseproof paper, if you fill the cutter with the meringe, as it's been dipped in the hot water it will lift off your piped meringue leaving the perfect shape!
Make sure that your oven is preheated to 150C as you want your meringues to crisp on the outside quickly and as soon as you put them in the oven turn it down to about 110C so that they bake without colour (if they start to colour lower the temp a little and put them on a lower shelf)
Before you place them in the oven my top tip is to dust them with icing sugar, I find this also helps to crisp the outside and dry them out.
Now to test that they are ready. (remember this is not a recipe for the meringue that you will buy in the shops which is dried out all the way through......this is a pavlova style meringue which I think is so much more tastey) Try to peel a meringue off the paper, if it comes cleanly away it's perfectly cooked, if it's stil stuck to the paper give them another 5-10mins and check again.
Once out the oven and cooled, if you're not going to use them in the next couple of days keep them in an airtight container so that the centres don't dry out. If you're ready to use them, you can decorate them as above or why not try homemade brownbread icecream on top and draped with hot toffee sauce!!!!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

new cake!!

Just completed this Xbox 360 cake, it took me about 2 hours to decorate. It's a vanilla genoise sponge filled with vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam.
Oh! as promised, here is the recipe for my red nose day shortbread cookies! This is definately one of the best shortbreads ever! I've tried to reduce the quantities as much as possible as obviously I've used it over the years in hotels etc!

150g ground almonds
1250g plain flour
700g butter
4 eggs
500g icing sugar
pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon

beat butter and sugar til white and fluffy, add flour, salt, almonds and zest. lastly add eggs. do not over mix as this will result in a shortbread that is not as light and delicate after baking. leave to rest in a fridge for 30 mins. roll out on a lightly floured surface to desired thickness ( about 1/2 inch for cookies). for best results cut out and place on tray and rest in fridge for 10 mins before baking as this will stop them spreading or shrinking in the oven and allow then to keep their shape. pop in the oven 190C/375F/Gas 5 for about 15 mins, they should be cooked without colour, to make sure they are, turn one over, you will be able to tell if there is uncooked dough or not. sprinkle with sugar as soon as they come out the oven.

As well as on their own with a brew, this shortbread recipe is fab as part of a dessert eg. strawberry shortcake ( sandwich fresh whipped cream and strawberries between thin layers), use in trifles instead of sponge fingers, aside of a creme brulee! the list is endless!
In this pic opposite I've used a pistachio shortbread as a garnish for a lemon curd and pistachio iced parfait.