Monday, 31 December 2012

Monday Bake - Party Food

Hope you all had a fantastic christmas - we had a lovely day, just the three of us in the morning and then TheInLaws and UncleN came round for dinner.   I love Christmas dinner and all the trimmings - my brussel sprouts were steamed perfectly if I do say so myself!

I usually make a trifle and buy a Christmas Pudding but this year I made both - I made Gino D'Acampo's cheats christmas pudding.  This isn't as solid as normal christmas pudding which has to be steamed for hours.  It has also lasted well - as Hubby and I have been eating the leftovers over the past few days!   I also did a chocolate fondant for MBBG, as this can be made up in advance and kept in the fridge until you need to bake it. 

So it's New Years Eve - 2012 went very quickly.  We are going to SisterInLaws today, it will be nice to spend time with everyone - BrotherInLaw, Nephews 1-4 and TheInLaws will all be there.

Time for more food - party food - here is one of my super easy favourites which I make quite often:

Nigellas Cocktail Sausages

Happy New Year to all my blog readers - thanks for visiting - whether you are regular readers or have just stopped by looking for something in particular.  I have thoroughly enjoyed doing my blog since April, my crafty Thursday posts haven't happened as often as I would like but hope to remedy that in the new year.  I also find it fascinating the countries that my blog audience come from.  I was hoping for UK and Ireland readers but I also have had pageviews in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, New Zealand and Russia to name a few!

Here's to a great 2013 and lots more baking.

Todays top three party songs as picked by Minibakebakegirl, Hubby and I:

1. Love Shack - B52's
2. Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners 
3. U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer 

Monday, 24 December 2012

Monday Bake - Christmas Biscuits and Cake

Well it's here everyone - happy Christmas Eve.   I like Christmas Eve as much as Christmas Day, sometimes the excitement and anticipation is just as good as what you are waiting for!

This year Minibakebakegirl and I make Star Biscuits as Teacher and Friend gifts.  This was the first time of making biscuit dough in my KitchenAid.  I used a Fiona Cairns recipe.  This dough can be made and kept in the fridge for a few days, good if you don't need lots of biscuits at once.  We made large and small stars with my new cutters.

We decorated them with fondant stars and gold and silver balls . I used Dr Ockters ones as they are soft and you won't break your teeth on them!! For the small ones I used my largest Lakeland star cutter - and a small silver ball. 

This week I iced my Christmas Cake which I made a few weeks ago, I stuck with the star theme and used my new cutters again.   Can't wait to tuck into it!

Everything is ready for tomorrow so time to sit down with a Baileys.  We are about to watch The Snowman and The Snowdog, which has a lot to live up to as we watch The Snowman every year.
Merry Christmas, hope Santa is good to you all! 


Todays Top Three Christmas songs:

1. Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
2. Merry Christmas Everyone - Shakin Stevens
3. Rockin Around The Christmas Tree - Mel and Kim

Monday, 17 December 2012

Monday Inspiration - Christmas Cupcakes

Can you believe it - a week tomorrow and it will be christmas day!  We are staying at home this year.  Every other year we go up to Edinburgh to stay with my Sister.   This year she came down for the weekend with my Nieces so we could swap presents.  

On Saturday we went into London. We went to the German Christmas Market on the Southbank (sadly we had missed the Chocolate festival - this was a couple of weeks ago - but it is back in March 2013!) had a good walk around Covent Garden.  Had lunch at Paul.  We have to go back another time for cake!

We then made our way up to Regent Street.  We popped into Libertys - the girls found a seat while me and Sister drooled over the wool in the Haberdashery Department.  The Christmas shop on the top floor - wow! We drooled some more - beautiful!!!  

We got a bus from the Selfidges end of Oxford Street - sat upstairs at the front and stayed on until we got to Liverpool Street.  This way we could see all the Christmas lights in Oxford Street and Regent Street without fighting our way through the crowds!  We also saw the Santa gathering in Trafalgar Square - wasn't sure what this was at the time but we googled it - slightly random! 

Part of the plan getting the bus all the way to Liverpool Street was to have dinner somewhere at Spitalfields market - I felt this would be quieter and I was right.  We went to Giraffe and had no problem getting a table.  Dinner was lovely and then after all our walking it was easy to get the tube back to Kings Cross to get the train home.

A few weeks ago I made these Christmas Tree cupcakes for Minibakebakegirls school fair.  I used Dr Oetkers polka dots for the baubles and a little chocolate star for the top.  They were so easy to do and  I think they look very effective.

Thanks for visiting, hope to see you next week on Christmas Eve!!


Todays top three Christmas songs:

1. Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid
2. Power of Love - Frankie Goes To Hollywood
3. Mistletoe and Wine - Cliff Richard

Monday, 10 December 2012

Monday Bake - Cranberry and Orange Loaf Cake

We have had a very christmassy weekend.   On Saturday we went to the Christmas Tree Festival at the local church.  We have been going since Minibakebakegirl was a baby, her baby group entered a tree with hand print decorations that year.  This year her school had decorated a tree with origami decorations.  It is lovely to walk round looking at the trees while the choir sing carols.  One of my favourites again this year was the knitted one - which this year was The Twelve Days of Christmas. Then we came home and put up our tree. 

On Sunday Minibakebakegirl was singing in the Market Square with her newly formed school choir at the Winter Gala Day.  They sang four songs and did a really good job. 
We also saw Granny Turismo.  I'm not actually sure how to describe them but they were very entertaining.  SisterInLaw and TheInLaws came to watch too, afterwards we went for a much needed coffee to warm up!

Two weeks today will be Christmas Eve!  Following on from my Christmas Cake post last week as not everybody likes christmas cake, some people find it too heavy.  So here is a recipe for a Christmas Loaf Cake which is a much lighter fruit cake.

100g margarine
150g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp cinnamon
125g dried cranberries
125g raisins
Zest of 1 orange
240ml fresh orange juice
350g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180c/Fan 160c/GasMark4
Line a 2lb loaf tin with a loaf tin liner (I use Lakeland)
Place the margarine and sugar in a large bowl. Cream together with an electric whisk until light and creamy.
Add the egg, beat in well.

Roll the cranberries and raisins in the cinnamon and then add to the bowl along with the orange zest. Add the orange juice and mix again.
Stir in the flour and the baking powder.
Spoon into the tin and cook for about 1hour 15minutes.

Check it after an hour if the top is browning too quickly, cover with some foil.
Check the cake is cooked (when an inserted skewer comes out clean - if it doesn't pop
the cake back in the oven for another 5 minutes - then check again - repeat as necessary) The top will crack - this is fine.

Leave to cool in the tin. 

This is quite a big loaf cake and I find it easiest to cut this cake into thick slices and then once on a plate cut the piece in half down the middle - if needed!  Due to the fruit I find it I can't slice it thinly.

Do you like my new plate?  I thought the little birds were very sweet.


Todays Top Three Christmas songs:

1. Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses
2. White Christmas - Bing Crosby
3. Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

Monday, 3 December 2012

Monday Bake - Christmas Cake

It's not too late to make a christmas cake.  I have been watching the Home of Fabulous Cakes with Fiona Cairns, I also have her Birthday Cake book that's full of so many great ideas.  So I decided to try out one of her recipes for this years cake. You can find it here.

You have to wrap the tin in brown paper to protect the outside of the cake from burning before the middle in cooked - this is very important.

The whole house was filled with the smell of christmas while it was baking in the oven.  Every christmas I buy a bag of M&S Mandarin, Clove and Cinnamon Pot Pourri - it is christmas in a bag!  One year Hubby requested a change and we bought a christmas tree fragranced one which to me smelt of toilet cleaner so I will stick with my favourite! 

I have been feeding the cake every week and will do until the week before christmas when I will decorate it - still mulling over what I will do but still have a few weeks to decide. 

We went to the Panto yesterday, it was Robin Hood this time.  It always makes me feel christmassy and I like the cheesy jokes.  Every year the dame at our local theatre is played by the same person - he always picks on a man in the audience so I think Hubby is relieved we don't sit in the front row!!!  The villain was played by Brian Capron who was Richard Hillman in Coronation Street and Mr Hopwood in Grange Hill - he was very good and the audience did a lot of booing and hissing everytime he came on!

Next weekend we will put our tree up - we always do this after going to the christmas tree festival at the local church - this is where local charities and groups each decorate a tree and then they are all on display around the church.  Last year there was an amazing knitted tree for the Royal Wedding so I can't wait to see what there is this year. 

I have already got the radio in the kitchen tuned to Smooth Xmas so be prepared for a month of christmas songs!!! 
Todays top three christmas songs:
1. Last Christmas - Wham
2. Wonderful Christmas Time - Paul McCartney
3. Step into Christmas - Elton John

Monday, 26 November 2012

Monday Review - Liverpool

Minibakebakegirl's school always has two inset days in November, so this year we decided to go away for a long weekend.  After narrowing it down to Chester, York and Liverpool, we opted for Liverpool as we felt there were lots of things to keep us occupied for our 4 days.

We arrived on Friday afternoon and had a good wander around the town centre, soooooo many shops!  The new Liverpool One shopping centre is lovely, (partly because they have a Lakeland!)  Lots of restaurants too. There are Liverpool and Everton official merchandise shops. Hubby spotted the joke that Everton have cleverly named their shop Everton two; so their address reads Everton Two, Liverpool One!

On Saturday we did The Beatles Story, we all enjoyed this audio tour - especially the part with the recreation of the Cavern.  There is also a Fab 4D Experience - which was fab!

There are lots of free museums, Tate Liverpool, the Maritime Museum with an excellent Titanic exhibition and the Museum of Liverpool which opened last year.

We did the Yellow Duckmarine Tour - which is a city tour in a World War Two  Amphibious vehicle. Our tour guide and driver were excellent and told us lots of information about the city.  We all cheered and screamed as we entered the water!  On the tour our guide pointed out a lovely looking cafe in Falkner Street, so we headed there on Sunday for coffee.

The Quarter had a great selection of cakes.  I had carrot cake, Minibakebakegirl had chocolate brownie and Hubby had a Raspberry crumble slice. 

The coffee was good too and Minibakebakegirl quickly polished off her hot chocolate - marking it 8 out of 10. We had such a beautiful sunny day on Sunday, the sun was streaming in through the windows. I would definitely suggest this as a place for a pit stop. Their main menu looked good too.
Liverpool is a vibrant busy city with some lovely architecture (and some hideously ugly buildings too!)  Great for a weekend citybreak.   As you can see from my photos the weather was varied!
See you next week for the first of my christmas blog posts.

This weekends top three Beatles songs:

1. Fool On The Hill
2. I Am The Walrus 
3. Helter Skelter

Monday, 19 November 2012

Monday Bake - Flourless Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake.   I don't really need to say anymore.   Oh, except this cake is also gluten free.  It's a three bowl recipe (2 medium and 1 large) - so apologies for the extra washing up but it is worth it.

200g unsalted butter diced plus extra for greasing
200g dark chocolate
3 tbsp fresh orange juice
finely grated zest of 1 orange
4 medium eggs
125g light muscovado sugar
50g ground almonds
1 heaped tsp gluten free baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4.  Butter a 20cm loose bottom cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

Bowl 1 - medium bowl
Break up the chocolate and melt with the butter and orange juice in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water - stir until smooth.

Bowl 2 - medium bowl
Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks then gradually whisk in half of the sugar, until you have a stiff glossy meringue.

Bowl 3 - large bowl
Whisk the remaining sugar and egg yolks for several minutes until pale.   Fold the chocolate mixture from bowl 1 into this bowl.  Then fold in the ground almonds, baking powder, salt and orange zest.  Finally stir in a third of the meringue and then gently fold in the remaining meringue. 

Pour into the prepared tin and give it a couple of taps on the work surface to remove any large air bubbles.  Don't tap too hard as you don't want to knock out all the air.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.  The cake will have cracked - this is normal and when it has cooled it will sink a little - this is also normal.  Loosen round the edges of the cake with a knife and then remove the side of the tin.  I just leave it on the base and cut it on there - it's easier than transferring to a plate and then to your serving plate.

As you  can see the bottom goes really dense and squidgy - delicious.
We are going to Liverpool next weekend - anybody got any tips or suggestions of places to see and do.  Also does anyone have suggestions for where is good for coffee and cake?
Todays top three Spotify songs:
1. Chocolate Girl - Deacon Blue
2. Chocolate Cake - Crowded House
3. Sweet Like Chocolate - Sharon Woolf

Monday, 12 November 2012

Monday Inspiration - Children In Need Pudsey Cupcakes

It's Children In Need time again.  Minibakebakegirl's school are having a cake stall this Friday to raise money so this year I have bought some Pudsey cupcake cases and mini Pudsey moulds from Lakeland.  It says the moulds can be used for icing or chocolate - so I went with chocolate this time to test them out.


I'm pleased with how these practice ones turned out.  I used dark chocolate for these Pudseys but I think I will use milk chocolate for Fridays ones.

On Saturday we went into London for a bit of retail therapy and a good wander round Covent Garden.  First we went to Carnaby Street - I loved their Rolling Stones christmas decorations - it was a bit of a drizzly day but I bet they look amazing with the sun shining on them.

We went for coffee just off Carnaby Street at C'est Ici in Kingly Court.  They stock Candy Cakes cupcakes.   Hubby and Minibakebakegirl had Oreo ones and I had a carrot cake one. 
The icing was so light.  Their brunch menu looks good so we may pop back another time.

Minibakebakegirl spent her pocket money in David & Goliath and Lush but I mostly did some browsing - getting some ideas for christmas presents.  John Lewis was looking especially christmassy (and very busy!) I absolutely love their christmas advert.

Thanks for stopping by - hope to see you next week.


Todays top three Children In Need Official Singles

1. Perfect Day - Lou Reed and Various Artists
2. Something New - Girls Aloud
3. Emma Bunton - Downtown