Tuesday, May 8, 2018

I love Barm Brack

A moist, fruity loaf with Irish origins.

Every time I bake it;  a bit different.  What if I don't have something on hand? ...well, make do with something else of course ..   ..

I used to put less fruit in it I'm sure...but nowadays? ...I add apricot, cranberries, fruit peel if I have it...maybe even a cherry or two.. candied ginger... whatever I feel like.  Lots of fruit now.

Last time I made it I even put a splash of Brandy in the tea for soaking the fruit overnight...and orange zest, of course...and, some orange juice.  Man...it tastes like an orange creamsicle some days....mmm....  love it.

Here's a pic of the latest loaf...so moist and so tasty.  Link to the recipe.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Mary Berry's Jaffa Cakes

It is so annoying when you can't find out for certain how some of the recipes are actually done.  Yes, you can always find out some of it...but, the fine details....not always.

Like, ..... how on earth do you get the chocolate on the top to look like Mary's?  It doesn't tell you other than to say you can spoon it on if you don't want to go to the trouble of getting it perfect.  Huh? Why the heck doesn't she say how she does it and let me make up my mind later as to whether I will do it her way or not?

Here is a pic of hers.... from the Great British Bake Off show... see how lovely the chocolate line is all around the little cake.  Note the great criss cross pattern they say should be there ... I've never seen a store bought version so don't really know what one should look like.  

To me, they almost look like they have been dipped in the chocolate...but, it hardly seems possible as the cake is quite flat and how would you grab the bottom and keep your fingers out of the chocolate? ..maybe a couple of skewers through the bottom of the cake? .. some other method? .. who knows?......  ...... anybody got any suggestions?                                                                

Then, there are dozens of folks who have made them and put them out there ... and, most of them look like this.  I would probably be too embarrassed to show mine if they looked like this...  although, I might...  just to let you know if they were that difficult to do.  There has to be a better way to get the chocolate on there and make it look tidy at the very least. 

I want to try Jaffa cakes some day soon... and want them to look nice.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Alexandra's Mom's No Knead Peasant Bread (revisited)

A little over a year ago I posted about this amazing bread... nobody ever commented...but, I had hundreds of people who came to view the post.

Do you ever wonder why nobody comments?  Do you wonder, like me, if they ever try the recipe?   I wonder how they like the bread?  So many questions....

I make it all the time.  I love this bread.  I do it a bit differently now and thought I would show you a series of pics of my efforts.

The first few times I made it I used only white flour...now it is more like half and half whole wheat and white...with a good sprinkling of wheat bran tossed over it as well.  About 1/4 of a cup or so.

It is a very forgiving dough.. I have forgotten it in the microwave for a couple of hours...no problemo.

Anyway... check out Alexandra's blog to find out more about her Mom's bread.. and, please give it a try.  Also... she now has a book out.... in which the bread figures big time.  There is even a gluten free version that is pretty darn good.


Click on any pic to see it larger and get a better idea what I am talking about.

When first you pour over the foamed yeast and water you think....too much liquid.

Then, you mix a bit and think... oh, no... too little liquid!

Finally it all comes off the sides of the bowl and comes together beautifully and you sigh with relief.

I like to put mine in the microwave.  A warm and cozy spot.. almost like a proofing drawer.

An hour or so ...or even 3 hours later if you forget ...it looks like this... at least twice the size.

Fold it in on itself with a fork... scraping it all from the sides of the bowl towards the centre.

I roll mine into an elongated blob that is close to the size of my tin.

Turn it out into a 9 x 5 x 3 tin.

Let rise in a cool spot this time.  Looks like this after about 20 or so minutes.

Bake in 425F oven for 18 minutes, turn down to 375F and bake another 18 or so....

Looks like this... and, yes I slice it hot from the oven..slather it with butter and some honey.  YUM!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Blog Fodder Biscotti

I can't believe it.  After all the time I have been baking ..and in particular baking biscotti.... I burned a batch of Ian's Rosemary, Orange and Cranberry Biscotti.  There went the last of my fresh Rosemary.  Damn!

Wow... in the photos ..it doesn't look half bad.  It was much worse in person believe me ...and, of course, I had already tossed the 8 worst burned guys... should have kept them for blog fodder.  It's always good to show the failures along with the successes.   Anyway... my sweetie loves them..he prefers things a bit browner than they should be most of the time.  There is only one left.  So.. not all was lost.

However, I still claim the disaster was not all my fault... I have excuses..... my oven is on the fritz.  Yep... the brand new, only 5 years old, top of the line, GE MONOgram.... ridiculous.

A few months back I burned a pot dry on the cooktop above the built-in oven.  But, I didn't realize it somehow affected the oven.  At the time I did NOT do more research into all of it and discover that a cooktop is supposed to have a minimum of 12 inches clearance between anything and itself.... and, obviously, when we put it in..we did not notice the tiny print on one line of the installation instructions as somebody else was installing the thing.  They actually recommend not putting it over the top of any appliance as it could "cause damage".  The salesman knew exactly what our design was ...and, either he didn't know or didn't care .. why would he ....... after all, money is the bottom line with most of those guys.

so... for some reason...the fans of the oven aren't working.   Either the wiring got fried ..or ... it is a strange coincidence.  I don't believe in coincidence.  Therefore, now it gets hot and stays hot...no intermittent cooling fans or any cooling of any kind after the heat is turned off.  Needless to say.... I burned my biscotti.

Now, we have a conundrum.  How to change the configuration of the cooktop and the built-in oven.  Can't be done.  So, we have to buy a new range...cut our granite countertops... make space... build up some hardwood under where the stove will sit so it is not the wrong height and looks okay...and, then... hope it all works out and .... carry on.  After 30+ years of renovations.....I am sick about it all.  I just want to stick my head in the sand and pretend it is okay.  Do nothing... but, can't.  It gets so hot you can't even touch the control panel..so is dangerous.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Miniature Gingerbread Houses

From a Cupcake Jemma Youtube video.

I have no clue about piping and have never made Royal Icing before.

so.... as you may or may not know............ nothing is quite as simple as it looks on Youtube.  Besides, she is a professional baker ..hahahhahah... silly me.

I always just expect to follow along and things surely must just happen as easily as they do for them on there right? .... nope.......

Every square inch of my kitchen was a disaster let me tell you.  Icing sugar is so messy even if a person is careful and I am very careful.   And...it just didn't come together like hers did at all.  She put in 3 tablespoons of water and barely had to add a bit more and it looked great.  Of course... seeing and 'feeling' consistency isn't quite the same.  I had to add about 6 tablespoons of water just to get it to be almost solid glue...and, yes...I measured the icing sugar very carefully... an exact 400 grams... by the scale.  Maybe it is a case of the lack of humidity in our homes compared to those in England.  Basically, we have none.

Anyway... very long story made somewhat shorter ..   ( many hours long if truth be told!@#)  I finally got some icing in a bag.  By then, I already had 3 spatulas with hard, crusty bits on them so had to keep tossing them and reaching for a new one... good thing I have many, many spatulas. .. (still could not get a tip small enough to do it properly either) and practiced on some parchment paper for a bit and then...onward with biscuits to build some tiny houses.  Tiny being the key word here....they are only 3.5 inches high...and, 2.25 inches across the front...only 2 across an end.

At first I was pretty disappointed with my results...but, on I went... and even if they are a bit more whimsical and not as tidy as Jemma's.... I like them.   she did have 3 colours ...but in the end...all I could manage was my white icing... not trying for 3 colours if I can't even make the icing pipe properly.

Mr. BumbleVee says I was trying to make a two story house look like a bungalow....aha....I didn't notice that really....not a wonder they don't look so great.   Not a wonder he is the designer.  I watched the video a few times...and, then...just went for it.  Some details escaped me I guess.  Next time I may draw out some door and window configurations before I  begin winging it.....

Also...I did watch a few more Julia Usher videos later...WOW !!  and, discovered my icing had to be much softer  ... no wonder my arms and wrists almost gave out after 5 houses and many hours of struggling.  We ate the 6th house and other extra roof and side pieces.  A good thing.  My arms wouldn't take any more, nor would my back!  And, that is the BEST gingerbread recipe ever.  I love those biscuits.  She uses Golden Syrup instead of molasses ... which I don't like anyway... so I love the taste of them.

I want to take a cake decorating class now...to learn how to pipe icing properly.  What fun that would be.

Here are my cute little "gb" houses.... as my friend Muriel calls them.... in spite of all the pitfalls and my own limited piping skills....I do like them a lot.  Just click on the photo if you want to view them larger.