17 September 2011

Mini Bakewell Tarts

I'm not really sure how to go about this post. I have not been baking or posting as much as I would like recently and there are a few reasons for this which I feel I should probably share with you lovely people that for some reason continue to delight me with your presence on my blog :)

Earlier this year, a few months before I started food blogging, my Dad very sadly passed away. He had had a lot of heart attacks in the past (11 in fact, he was a walking miracle!) but since a triple by-pass in 1998 he seemed to be absolutely fine. On the 9th February this year, my Mum and her partner turned up on my doorstep in University just before midnight, sat me down, and told me that he had been found at his home on the sofa, with his newspaper in hand (he always did the daily cryptic crossword, my Mum still has the paper from the day of my birth and he somehow managed to complete it whilst she was in labour!) and my little sausage dog Penny rather anxiously by his side. He had suffered a massive heart attack and most likely knew nothing about it, the only comfort really is that if he could have chosen that is probably how he would have wanted to go, content and at home. It has taken some time to sink in, well in all honesty I don't think it truly has yet. He left me as a main executor of his will so recently I have been rather busy dealing with a lot of legal stuff that mostly goes over my head in all honesty! We unfortunately have no option but to part with the house, so I have had to learn rather fast about equity releases, mortgages, solicitors/estate agents and their fees (greedy bums.) etc and this means I have had a lot less time to do what has been my distraction, rather successfully!, for the past few months - baking of course :)

12 September 2011

Brandy Snaps

Brandy Snap's - they are an absolute classic and I truly believe they are a great last minute dessert to master that can be whipped up faster than any other cookie with only one dirty saucepan, a lazy bakers dream :) They can be customised to your hearts desire and, although it admittedly took me pretty much until my last batch to perfect the method, now I know the tricks they really are soooooo very easy to make. We ate them ALL the day I made them, so I made another batch the morning after as we are greedy Welshies and second time round, now I knew what I was doing, resulted in 15 uniform tubes (much better than my first go which resulted in 3 pretty ones, 4 passable ones, 3 slightly fat rejects, 1 pretty cup, 1 reject cup and 3 that we just should talk about) 
In all seriousness, if you have shied away from trying them before now I assure you, they are so much fun and you can definitely make these!

Oh yes, and they are SO VERY ADDICTIVE :)

9 September 2011

Cheese, Ham and Olive Bread

Quick bread, what a magical thing it is! You can whip up a loaf in just the same amount of time it takes to make the simplest of sponge's and hey presto, 40-odd minutes later you have something that looks and tastes far more complicated and impressive than it really is! I have had a really major urge to do some bread baking lately and, although I reallyreally want to do some yeast work soon, my urge had to be satisfied there and then so quick bread to the rescue! In particular I wanted a loaf stufffeedd full of savoury bits 'n bobs, I was playing with the idea of different additions, especially caramelised onions and bacon (mmm), basically anything imaginable that could be shoved in a bowl of eggy mix and baked to create an all in one meal!

And that is what this is in essence, an all in one snack loaf that is great for that much needed energy boost around 11am and 4pm (or is this only me...I simply MUST have a mini-meal around these times, probably just being greedy!) I didn't need to fiddle much with the original recipe in the end to have exactly what I was craving :)

5 September 2011

Cookies and Cream Cookies

I swear I have 2 people living in my brain, or little food gremlins if not people, one that has an insatiable sweet tooth and one that is a sugar allergic diabetic. Or maybe i'm just incredibly indecisive, both are realistic possibilities. In the case of these cookies, upon first bite my sugar hating gremlin decided that these were not the cookies for me. They seemed a bit too sweet, as if the overall taste was simply a plain sugar cookie and slightly letting down my, admittedly rather high, expectations. After that first cookie (emphasis on first) my alter-ego gremlin wouldn't let me rest until I had 'sampled' another..and another..I had 6 cookies the day I made these, embarrassing but true, SIX. That shouldn't be legal, and my dentist may have a few stern words to share with my tooth-rotting gremlin when I see him later today..

Even if these cookies did not quite fulfil my initial expectations, they went down a total storm in my house. My Mum is pretty hard to please as far as cookies go and after the beginning few munches exclaimed 'mmmm, they are just so LIGHT!' A weird adjective to choose I thought, but after pondering about it she has a point, it's far too easy to go back to the cookie jar multiple times without realising and the texture...oh what a hard one to describe! They are soft and slightly chewy, the Oreo pieces soften upon cooking but retain a slight crunch to create little pockets of texture throughout. Yeah, it's safe to say these grew on me and were horrifically addicting. Make at your own risk!

3 September 2011

Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey's Buttercream aka My Birthday Cake!

Can anything sound any more Irish than that right there? Can anything sound any more GORGEOUS! Ok maybe the Irish accent literally sounds more gorgeous - any tall, dark handsome lad with an Irish twang and I'm putty in their hunky hands. As soon as I saw this cake on the absolutely unique and wonderful blog Global Table Adventure I knew I was going to make it. And when is more suitable to have a booze-laden cake than for a 20th birthday :) Gosh...20...that's an age which just say's 'responsibility begins now' and I'm not sure Im suitable for the job!

Above is the AWESOME present my wonderful Mum got me, yes that is the prettiest most beautifully made cake stand that ever did exist (maybe a little biased..) and yes she does know me very well indeed! Below is the all-important cutting of the cake and making a wish :) This may or may not have been before 11 in the morning...self-control of a 2 year old

1 September 2011

Chocolate and Glacé Cherry Slice

These pretty little bars had me sitting on the fence to begin with. You know those treats you just can't decide what you quite think of them, I knew they were darn yummy but they weren't exactly how I expected and this left me pondering! After I accepted them for what they were though they kind of disappeared over night..I found myself going up to 'sample' another...and another...My Mum's partner LOVED them from the start, he never ate less than 3 in one sitting, no exaggeration!

The reason I didn't instantly swoon over these sweet slice's was because I was expecting the overwhelming flavour to be of cherry considering the rather generous amount of them it contains. However I cannot honestly say there is any cherry taste at all! I suppose glacé cherries have a relatively mild flavour in themselves which I didn't really take into account. Once that initial 'oh..?' moment elapsed I was left appreciating what I can only describe as a homemade bounty/mounds bar - just jazzed up! It's as if the cherries were there to beautify the classic favourite, so if you are a fan of coconutty-chocco bars then these are SO for you!