Archives for posts with tag: baking

As I stand on the train, crushed between other Londoners laden down with various bags, gym kits, laptops, shoe changes, make up and other every day essentials, I one day started to wonder whether my rucksack full of food in addition to the aforementioned items was representative of a standard London lunch.

The following day, I took a picture of my lunch and posted it on Facebook, for a sense of affirmation that everyone else ate as much for lunch as I do. The response I received, appeared to indicate apparently not.

Lunch #1

So I posted again the following Monday, as these tend to be high Tupperwear intensity days. Again, positive responses and intrigued friends enquiring as to contents of said, generic, plastic food containers. (Please note that the use of the word Tupperware is as a generic brand and purely synonym for food container, rather than any particular endorsement of the Tupperware brand over others.

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It seems that others do eat less than me for lunch on most given days, since my towering plastic stack does not even stand for the totality of my daily food consumption. Porridge, breakfast biscuits, nuts and chocolate are in my desk drawer / storage cabinet.

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I like to claim that this is amplified lunch stash is due to the fact that I tend to eat my breakfast, lunch and dinner at work. As an ex-colleague and healthy living ninja consultant friend of mine, Sarah, sighed, at least if you have to eat dinner at your desk it is home made.

I don’t always get time to leave the office during the day, and the fear of not having sufficient snacks to banish any hunger pangs during the day feels me with an even greater fear than having to stand the entire commute from Tooting to Blackfriars (how on earth would I put my make up on then!?).

So, you may just want to know now exactly what is lying inside the contents of my boxes of foodie pleasure? Here are some of the recipe and snacks I have used:
– Boiled egg and veggie (Quorn, etc) sausage for brekkie, washed down with a latte
– Berries to add to my high protein yoghurt for second breakfast
– Peanut butter and marmite sandwiches on brown / soya bread
– Soup as I like a warm lunch, e.g. Hemsley and Hemsley (see here) or a good old tomato and basil for first lunch
– Some sort of carb/ veg/ protein dish such as an omelette, sweet potato and feta salad or roast veg with halloumi or prawn stir fry for second lunch
– Slice of cake or muffin remaining from the weekend’s baking activities
– Other afternoon snacks such as sugar snap peas and crudites to have with a dip or the odd bean salad that Will brings home from his long days away.

I cook or prepare most of the more time-consuming elements of this ensemble on a Sunday night, in order to last me the week. Store cupboard staples such as porridge, popcorn, breakfast biscuits (e.g. Belvita), and chocolate in addition to the above are kept at work.

What do you eat for lunch in the office? I’d love to share recipe ideas!

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I had been thinking about making Swedish St Lucia buns since I watched Paul and Mary’s Christmas Masterclass in December. I then discussed the brightly coloured balls of goodness with Bronya (of brioche fame) over Christmas, and decided to make some myself. Coincidentally Will and I were off to Stockholm in mid Jan, and so it seemed like a good idea all round.

I am not a big fan of bread making, however I figured that the more I do it the less I will be scared of yeast failure, and less confused by the way that it seems to have a life of it’s own.

I followed the recipe of Mr Paul Hollywood himself, which you will find here, and actually it all worked out OK. I loved the brightly coloured saffron and the way it infused in to the milk.

Milk and saffron  Infused saffron

Whilst the recipe is straight forward, what takes the time is the double proving of the dough. I put my dough under the kitchen radiator in a bowl covered in cling film, since Paul suggested a warm, dry place to undertake the activity.

dough    Shaped dough

I watched with satisfaction as, true to form, the dough did double in size over a few hours. I then shaped the dough in to the suggested S, bull and cross shapes, and completed the look with raisins in appropriate crevices of dough. Just after 25 minutes in the oven, these golden yellow little beauties appeared.

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A last minute egg wash pre-cooking gave a lovely shiny glaze and I would definitely recommend doing so. The saffron flavour was sweet but subtle, and they were nice buttered with breakfast or as a midday desk-based snack.

We had a great time in snowy Stockholm, not just for the lovely scenery but for the delicious cakes. Our favourite was definitely the Princess cake, regally coated in green marzipan and filled with light vanilla sponge, custard AND cream!

 

 

 

 

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We also really enjoyed what seemed to be the cake version of a Viennese whirl, and a delicious cardamon – vanilla cream filled doughnut / muffin! Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

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Our next adventure will most likely be our wedding, which has been keeping me reasonably busy! I would like to write some blog posts on healthy eating for brides, since it is quite a challenge for me, so watch this space.

 

 

Despite being on holiday / wedmin trip in Northern Italy, news of the GBBO #bincident earlier on in the series and the scandal it created reached my ears last week.

After dwelling upon the “bincident”, and other more mainstream portmanteaux (a word formed by blending sounds from two or more distinct words and combining their meanings – Wikipedia) – Brangelina probably being the least academic of them, my mind wandered to the fairly modern world of sweet dessert hybrids. Despite never having seen a cronut (croissant and doughnut) in real life, I get the picture, and quite enjoyed an apple and cinnamon duffin (doughnut and muffin) once in Starbucks.

It was by complete coincidence then, that in the Asda magazine that I picked up last week, there were recipes for aTownie and Pieclair.

I had thought it was an invention of the ever-impressive Asda magazine, however Bea’s of Bloomsbury is claiming the title according to this article.
http://www.today.com/food/move-over-cronut-its-time-townie-6C10411620

Joe and Sophie (Jophie?) were coming to stay, so I thought it an appropriate occasion to trial this new idea. I used a combination of the Asda magazine (paper form only I’m afraid) and this recipe that I found online. http://sortedfood.com/#!/townie/

Starting with a sweet dessert pastry base, I part-baked the shell in a silicone mould to make it easier to remove the townie once finished.

sweet pastry

I then added the tasty pecan mixture. I don’t often cook with nuts and so found it hard to tell when the mixture had cooked sufficiently.

pre-baked pecans

It did rise up a little and go nice and golden brown though.

post-cooked pecans

I made a brownie mixture in much the same way that I would make triple chocolate brownies https://lydiatoson.com/2013/09/08/coveted-triple-chocolate-brownies/ and poured on top of the baked pecan mixture. 20 minutes in the oven later, smelling superbly chocolatey, was my townie!

Chocolate townie     baked townie

I was rather pleased with my townie, I liked the encasing of a chocolate brownie, although in retrospect I probably overdid it slightly, so keep an eye on it is my recommendation!

Still, it was very tasty whether served warm or cold. Oh and the little ones were good for lunchboxes, and more robust  to being knocked about during the morning commute than a normal brownie.

I may go for a pieclair (yep – a pie made of eclairs!) or a pike (apple pie atop a raspberry cake) next…

Lambs are in the fields, and daffodils on the streets on Tooting. Spring is here.  Along with the showers, sunshine and flowers of March comes Mother’s day, closely followed by Easter (to be discussed separately).

Two tea-related recipes coincided over the week before Mother’s day, although as usual there is some delay in writing about them. The first was camomile and vanilla gluten-free cupcakes, and the second some teapot shaped cakes for mum and the M.I.L. I do love tea, and teapots, and tea cups, and afternoon tea, and most tea-related activities.

Whilst on a weekend in Essex visiting friends, we went to an antiques market and I came across a musical teapot. Made in 1950s Japan, this fairly ordinary looking teapot has a clockwork mechanism underneath it that means it plays a tune every time the teapot is lifted. You have to wind it up occasionally, and I had to buy it immediately. This may have been the start of the revival in us drinking tea from the pot.

Teapot and cakes

Is it tea cupcakes? Or teacup cakes? I’m not too sure of the correct terminology, but either ways these cakes really do taste of vanilla and camomile, and are lovely served with a pot of camomile tea, or in our case, Sri Lankan Ceylon tea.

I made the cakes in silicone teacups, using Ruby Tandoh’s camomile cake recipe for the Guardian here, however substituted gluten-free flour as I had my aunt and uncle, Moy and Keith, coming over one sunny Sunday afternoon. The camomile buttercream icing set them off perfectly and was not too sweet.

The cakes were rather dry; I blame the gluten-free flour, which tends to suck moisture out of most cakes. I would try them again with ground almonds instead. However if you did want to use gluten-free flour you could just increase the quantity of tea and butter liquids, I’d say by 30%.

Camomile cakes

Following from the antiques fair success of my musical teapot, and the (relative) flavour success of camomile and vanilla, I had been thinking about teapots and tea and cakes, and thinking about teapot cakes. It took me several days of the journey to and from work to conceptualise what I wanted to make, but eventually I managed to spend Tuesday night the week before colouring fondant icing and making handles and spouts, and flowers and hearts. I wanted them to firm up before I put them on to cakes, so they needed a few days to dry out.

Thursday night was planned for making cakes, but after a long day at work one drink with a colleague turned in to several more and Friday night was a bit of a rush to get the two cakes made.  I did manage it though, and used a giant cupcake mould in addition to two Pyrex bowls to get two slightly different globe-shaped cakes. I used a basic chocolate sponge recipe and cream cheese frosting to sandwich the two halves together. I had to carve some stray bits of cake off to smooth out the shape of the cakes.

I covered one cake in fondant icing that I had rolled out thinly, and added an extra bit on top to make the lid. I used some runny white icing to stick on my flowers and hearts. Because I had to transport the cakes to Bristol I didn’t put the handle and spout on to the cake until we got there. I didn’t fancy our chances of getting it down the M4 intact!

Teapot flowers

The handles and spouts crumbled when I tried to assemble the teapot cakes on the Friday night, however I think this is because I didn’t put cocktail sticks in to them as supports until the icing had already firmed up several days later. If I was going to make them again, I would definitely make sure I do this on the day I shape the fondant. Luckily I used Fimo as a backup and it only took a few minutes to cook it once I quickly shaped some pieces. I would suggest using Fimo even though it is not edible, as it is a lot sturdier.

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I didn’t take any pictures of the assembly process, however did do a Google search on “teapot cakes” and got some ideas from sites such as this one here

I used cream cheese frosting with lilac food colouring for my second teapot cake, and decorated it with flowers, lid, handle and spout in a similar fashion. I really enjoyed making the cakes and although they were not 100% perfect, they were lovingly made and I’m sure I could do a neater job of icing them next time.

M.I.L. teapot

It was great to make a mother’s day pressie that was enjoyed by all the family, including myself, and the cakes did not last long at all! I’d say they provide 6-8 medium-sized slices of cake so it isn’t really a sufficiently large volume of cake for a big celebration, instead better suited for family times.

Happy springtime!

Flowers

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