Sunday, 31 October 2010

Banoffee Cheesecake

I'm slowly working my way through Nigella's new book 'Kitchen' and this is my latest creation, Banoffee Cheesecake. It's cooked in a water bath which helps eliminate the dark edge you usually get with a baked cheesecake, however I'm not sure it's going to be a new favourite. There's nothing actually wrong with it, it's beautifully light and moussy, the contrast between crunchy biscuit base, smooth centre and sticky, cloying topping is a delicious one, but the banana is a bit overpowering for me and the toffee flavour only comes from the topping. Unfortunately there's no caramel flavour throughout the mixture. It has inspired me to create my own version though so watch this space!

We took the girls to watch fireworks at Beaulieu Motor Museum yesterday evening, they were spectacular but while my three year old was totally in awe of how beautiful they were my five year old was terrified! Here she is before the fear kicked in, bless her!

I hope you're all having a wonderful Halloween x

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Autumn cooking & Halloween cupcakes

I might have not updated for a week or so, but I have been so busy preparing for Halloween & Christmas, and entertaining my girls through half term. We've had a lovely week together just being at home and catching up, it's lovely to have a week with no after school clubs to taxi to & from! Lots of photos have been taken but they've only just made it onto the computer, I've only chosen a few for you.

We don't usually do much to mark Halloween but this year we're going to a firework display on the Saturday and we'll do some lantern carving and walk in the forest on Sunday. I made some cute cuppies for the kids, the picture above is them naked, just a smear of vanilla buttercream.

Here's the result, I love how they turned out. I spent the afternoon making these and the girls made their own versions out of Play-Doh, so cute.

I wanted to include a couple of shots of bread rolls made from the same recipe the loaf was made from a month or so ago, it's such a versatile recipe, by Nigella you can read it here.
And with lovely spiced squash soup

Finally I baked my Christmas cake, here it is ready for the oven, watch this space for the cake in all it's beautifully decorated glory some when in December.

Have a lovely weekend xx

Friday, 15 October 2010

Cookies - the (almost) finished article & Honey's first birthday

What a transformation hey? It's taken me a while and I've used quite a few icing bags but I got there in the end, and I am so pleased with the result. They look so pretty, and taste yummy too. It's just a simple sugar cookie with some vanilla seeds added. Here's a close up

And while I was at it I made a few others too, here they are


Seahorses and Angel fish

I say almost finished because really the seahorses could have more detail and the creatures need eyes but I couldn't face making up ANOTHER colour of royal icing for the finishing touches! So now I have a tonne of cookies sitting here looking pretty & I don't know what to do with them all, my husband might have to take them to work to stop me & the girls eating them all.

As well as all the icing we've been celebrating our Labradoodle Honey's birthday today. She just turned one and is thrilled to have a new bed and some extra toys to play with, here's a photo of the birthday girl celebrating in style.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


I was hoping to have an array of beautifully decorated cookies to blog about and photograph this evening but you'll just have to make do with poor, naked ones instead.
I'm in the process of baking and decorating loads of cookies (biscuits here in the UK), just because it looked like a fun thing to do. I started at 5 this afternoon and have just given up for the evening. I've baked hearts, butterflies and sea creatures and iced the base of the hearts. It's so time consuming!! Each batch has to chill for 1/2 an hour before baking, then cool before icing, they're going to look so pretty when they're done though.

Please do check back soon to see the finished article xx

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Preparing for Christmas - Chutney

I started making preparations for Christmas today by making two chutneys and a Chili Jam. I always enjoy making my own chutney, it's a perfect Sunday afternoon activity and it makes me feel really homely, the vinegar boiling off isn't the most pleasant smell in the world but when you end with lots of pretty jars full of preserves it makes it totally worth it.

Red Onion Chutney simmering away.

Christmas Chutney cooking down.

Chili seeds removed and ready to go, tip if you're doing this for the first time, scrub under your nails really well before scratching your nose!

The chili and peppers after being boiled with Cider Vinegar and preserving sugar.

The finished product.

From left to right, Christmas, Chili, Red Onion chutneys. I love the luminescence of the chili with the sunlight shining through it.

Did you have a nice Sunday? I hope so xx

Thursday, 7 October 2010

84th birthday cake with pink sugar roses

My husband's Granny is lovely. When I told her I was going to start looking into making cake design my profession she gave me all of her decorating equipment and didn't want anything in return. This was probably about four years ago now and I've been waiting for a chance to do something nice for her ever since. Recently we got invited to her surprise birthday party and I volunteered to make the cake.
It's a double depth lemon sponge, covered in citrus syrup and filled with five layers of lemon curd buttercream.

Want to see some close ups? Course you do...

 Handmade sugar rose dome with wired petals and pearls

Andy's Granny cutting the cake, she was lost for words which was so touching.

Have a nice Friday xx

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Chocolate Birthday Cake and Fairy Toadstools

So, recently I made my first cake to be iced in chocolate fondant, I made chocolate plastic and mixed it with regular fondant to make my paste. It was fab to work with although it seemed to get little hairline cracks in the icing much easier than normal fondant but the warmth of my hands smoothed them out so easily. What I loved about the chocolate paste was that the cake smelled amazing even when covered, my family were all desperate to eat it, unfortunately it wasn't for us!

Between all the baking we've been on some beautiful family walks recently, we're so lucky to live in such a beautiful place and in autumn it really comes to life. The leaves are starting to transform into a million shades of brown, while crunching through the fallen ones my daughter found a fairy toadstool, she was enchanted by it. The proper name for it is a Fly Agaric, they really are so vibrant and pretty.

Hope you're enjoying the autumn sunshine too xx

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

In search of the perfect loaf

Bread baking in the oven has got to be one of the most amazing smells hasn't it? I'm currently trying to master bread baking as we're noticing our food bills rising steadily and it's so cost effective to make your own, not to mention how much better for you it is, and how much nicer it tastes, AND that smell - mmmm.

So this is a quick loaf, made with milk and a little butter to keep the crumb nice and soft, the loaf will actually keep for a couple of days and it's equally delicious as rolls. Here come the obligatory pics....

Ingredients at the ready. All the kneading is courtesy of my Kenwood Titanium, I'd be lost without it.

Dough silky smooth, the kitchen was warm enough to help it rise.

Risen and ready for the oven.

40 minutes later (perhaps a little too well risen!)


A lovely moist crumb and nice crust.

Close up of the loaf.

 Lunch is ready! The chutney was made by my husband's lovely Granny, it's Red Tomato.

If anyone has a fabulous bread recipe I can try do let me know! xx

Friday, 1 October 2010

Rainy days

It's been pouring down here all day today, and I had both girls home today as eldest daughter had a teacher development day.

So we've made necklaces, baked cakes, made birthday cards, read stories and decorated the cakes we made earlier today, we are now a sticky mess and ready for the bath! They said they had fun and so did I, here are the results xx


Hard at work (note the newly made necklace!)