Saturday, 30 March 2013

Bread is the new Cake

For a while it looked as though cupcakes were never going to go out of fashion. Well I think that time has come. That's maybe a bit harsh. Cupcakes, cake pops and macaroons are all very nice but can anything take the place of bread? I don't mean sliced bread that seems to stay fresh forever- apparently the french don't even regard that is being bread! I mean the kind of bread that you have to eat the same day it was baked. Real, amazing, probably-not-very-good-for-your-health-but-fills-you-with-joy kinda bread. 

On my most recent trip to the farmers market I swapped my normal chocolate brownie for a big bit of garlic and olive bread. This was a monumental decision. The switch from gooey chocolatey happiness to Don't Come Too Close garlicky goodness turned out to be a really rewarding one. Not good for the diet but a girl has to eat! 

Bread is so basic. But. It's one of those foods that makes you wonder how on earth people thought to make it in the first place. I'm never really sure how much to trust Wikipedia  but short of time to do any lengthy research I thought I'd chance its questionable content. Apparently the history of bread goes back some 30,000 years- but who's counting. A few of my bready favourites are mentioned on there too, chapatis, pitas and the hallowed NAAN. I'm going to give making these a go. 

 My dad, and fellow bread fan, bought me this book...
Dorling Kindersley - printing you can trust! 
I'm going to start with English Muffins. Is there ANYTHING better than an English muffin buttered hot? And these days we are using real live actual butter. None of that half fat looks like butter but tastes like yellow nonsense. It's a poor substitute and word-of-mum rumor has it that it's not even better for you. 

Have you got a favourite bread recipe?

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

White chocolate mocha cake!

I love baking. I'm always inspired to bake but I nearly never get as far as well, the kitchen. This is largely because though there are three willing cake eaters, the baby shouldn't consume as much as he does. Birthdays and times when we have lots of people over necessitate cake. I want to say that this cake is my own recipe but that's not strictly true. It's a Nigella coffee sponge, with coffee butter icing and white chocolate ganache (see below for details) making a White Chocolate Mocha Cake!! Oh so good.

coffee sponge

A cake in process 

The finished article 

White Chocolate Ganache:
200g white chocolate
60g butter
140mls double cream

This is based on the ganache from another Nigella recipe only hers is for milk chocolate- white chocolate is technically not chocolate at all and so has different properties when used for cooking. It doesn't thicken as easily and it sets differently- be warned! 

Put all the ingredients in a pan and heat until the chocolate has melted (don't let it boil!) then take it off the heat and whisk it until it's thick(er). Chill the ganache in the fridge and then spread over the cake. Decorate with chocolate covered coffee beans*!

I'm not going to lie. This cake tasted so good!

* I got my beans in cafe nero because they sell little boxes with just the amount I needed, I went on their website to find out about the Nero's ethical policies and I found some corporate chat about how they want to look after the communities they buy their coffee from- a bit vague in my opinion! After my last post about buying fair trade I will be making my own chocolate covered coffee beans next time!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Easter cheesecake

Lent= giving up chocolate/every other good thing under the sun in order to lose a few pounds. 
Easter = overindulging in chocolate. Rabbits and possibly a few tiny chicks.

For me neither of these statements is true. Easter is well and truly about sacrifice, mercy, a kind of justice I'll never really get my head around and love. Our family are Christians and each year we try to make a big deal out of Easter. For us, so far, it has fewer traditions than Christmas but then I'm not really sure what's so religious about turkey. So. I have been thinking about Easter, and ways in which we can create our own 'things we do cause we've always done them'. 

3 250g tubs of soft cheese 
300g fair trade chocolate
packet of dijestive biscuits
icing sugar 
packet of mini eggs
bit of butter
(the stars on my cheesecake were leftovers from a pancake night we had and someone brought them to our house- a good excuse to use up leftovers!)

This no bake cheesecake is so simple to make and it tastes great! If you have been denying yourself chocolate then this is the perfect way to welcome it back into your life!! 

1. mash the biscuits in a polythene bag ( I found 'rolling' them with a rolling pin was faster!)
2. melt the butter and add to the biscuits. mix
3. put mixture in the tin and spread evenly, pat it a wee bit (though not too much or when it hardens you won't be able to cut through it!)
4. whilst that is setting, melt chocolate and add to the cream cheese, I did a layer of white chocolate and then a layer of milk chocolate but you could use all the same kind or a mix!
5. add a few tablespoons of icing sugar to the mix (if you don't have icing sugar I wouldn't run out and buy it just for this recipe- it'll taste great without!)
6. leave in the fridge- don't be tempted to put the eggs on too early, I found my egg shell 'bled' a little. 

This recipe serves 12 (at least!!) 

You might wonder why I specified fair trade chocolate and the truth is because I was so convicted when I went shopping for the ingredients that I should ALWAYS be using fair trade products where they are available. I feel as though I've become very complacent when it comes to buying fair trade products because often they are more expensive. For a recipe like this you could get away with using cheaper chocolate. True. But I don't need to make a chocolate cheesecake. I've been looking for fair trade replacements for the mini eggs so far I've only found theseI was reminded of this verse in Micah 6:8...(this is the message version)

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously.

We always buy fair trade tea and coffee but don't always look for it when we eat out- something for me to think about given I spend so much time drinking coffee. 

I hope you have a happy Easter next week!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Why Homebird?

I am a big Foy Vance fan. And this is one of my favourite songs. I love this video that someone's made for it and well though I wouldn't describe myself as a 'homebird' I do LOVE home and I spend most of my time there. Simple as that!

One big picnic!

Our lives are really just one big picnic. We love being outside (the baby especially loves sitting on grass?!). We've lived in Scotland for 2 1/2 years now and you have to seize any sunshine opportunity you get- whether it's in February or July! (And let's be honest it's more likely to be in February though it's still very cold.) I was so happy with how these bread buns turned out that we took them on a picnic (and ate them, obviously)!

These bread buns are every experienced picnic lovers friend. 

I have a bit of a 'thing' for M&S ice spiced buns and they looked fairly straight forward so I thought I'd give making them a go! Let's make it clear from the start- they take a while to make. Being yeast based they have to rise AND prove. I made them one Sunday morning and it took all morning, though obviously you can get on with the rest of your life during the rising/proving... so though it takes time this is not a labour intensive recipe. I find making things like these gives me an appreciation for time and effort. All too often we like things to be quick, easy and ready when we want them (and while this might be true for most of everyday life sometimes it's good to take a break from being busy!). There is something about making bread that makes me feel like I want to go slow and make the most of the journey as much as the getting there. 

I'd love to take credit for the recipe but I found it in a copy of Delicious Magazine and you can find it too on the Delicious websiteI added in the fruit and some mixed spice but they'd taste great without! Delicious is my 'go to' magazine when I want to treat myself.  Sometimes I'm swayed by other magazines and their giveaways but call me sad -I trust this magazine and so I get it every time. I even enjoy reading articles about heritage food and food we've all forgotten about/don't even realise is edible anymore! I'm always shocked by how influenced we are by supermarkets and think that our taste buds are limited by what's on offer. I once got mildly accosted by a film crew wanting to share the love of the purple potato. I'd never even heard of them, but I tried it reluctantly and mildly concerned that I might blow up like Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It tasted like potato. Normal coloured potato. Why isn't available in the supermarket? Because we don't like eating food that's not the right colour and so some varieties of food is dying out. Criminal!! 

Anyway. Try the recipe then venture outdoors!