New year, new things, new goals…

Hi, it’s been a while. How have you been? Sorry I’ve been remiss and generally bad at updating this blog. A lot has happened since I last wrote. Too much to recount but to summarise (in no particular order):

– Ran Big Sur Marathon in 4hrs 55mins
– moved to Woolwich
– moved to Yorkshire!
– got a new job
– got a new car
– went to disney world
– got a puppy
– got fat!

Now, that last one is important as I’ve signed up for the ASICS Manchester Marathon in April, and I’ve hardly run a mile since Big Sur last year. I’ve got podgy, lazy and complacent. I will be fixing that over the next 4 months.

I have a target, 4.30, I have a personal trainer, and I have a boat load of hills to build up my strength! Unfortunately I also have wild Yorkshire weather to contend with so training should be fun and bracing!!

Moving out of London means no baking club, so my waist line should benefit. I made some lovely friends at Band of Bakers, and I’m sure I’ll continue baking but my blog may end up being more about running.

A new job will keep me challenged mentally and I’m looking forward to getting my teeth in the role, and to making a new bunch of friends.

The new puppy will also challenge my patience but will be a great companion once she’s big enough to keep me company on runs.

So no booze for January, healthy eating and a manageable fitness regime. Hopefully I can keep to this better than I keep this blog updated.

Here’s to 2015 and fun times ahead…

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Torte – Recipe

 

Salted Caramel Chocolate Torte (Recipe from BBC Good Food)

Salted Caramel Chocolate Torte (Recipe from BBC Good Food) Must try harder on the decorating 😉

 

Last week I made my favourite, and easy, chocolate extravaganza for Band of Bakers chocolate event.

This is such a simple recipe and involves no baking. That means there is less chance of errors!

Recipe comes from BBC Good Food, and I pretty much followed it to a T, except with the chocolates on top – they always get snaffled before I have a chance to put them on top 😉

Ingredients:

175g digestive biscuits
85g butter, melted
397g can caramel (we used Carnation caramel)
1 tsp sea salt, plus extra to serve
300g plain chocolate (70% solids), broken into chunks
600ml tub double cream
25g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
salted caramel chocolates, to decorate (find them in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s or Marks & Spencer)
single cream, to serve (optional)

 

Method:

1. Line the base of a deep, round 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin with a circle of baking parchment. Line the sides with one long strip that comes just above the sides of the tin – staple or paper clip where the strip overlaps to hold it in place.

2. Crush the biscuits in a plastic bag or bowl with the end of a rolling pin. Stir into the melted butter, then evenly press into the bottom of the tin. Chill for 10 mins.

3. Reserve 2 tbsp of the caramel. Stir the sea salt into the remainder and spoon into the centre of the biscuit base. Gently spread so the base is evenly covered but a visible 1-2cm border of biscuit remains around the edge. Chill for 20 mins while you make the chocolate layer.

4. Gently melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir 1 tbsp of the cream into the reserved caramel, then cover and chill until ready to decorate. Once the chocolate has melted, turn off the heat but leave the bowl where it is, and gradually stir in the remaining cream until you have a smooth, shiny, thick chocolate sauce. Sift in the icing sugar and stir in with the vanilla extract. Lift off the heat and let the mixture cool for 10 mins.

5. Ladle or pour the chocolate mixture around the edge of the torte first, so it fills the biscuit border, sealing the caramel in the centre. Then ladle or pour in the rest and gently shake to smooth the surface. Chill for at least 5 hrs or up to 24 hours until firm.

6. Remove the torte from the tin, then carefully peel off the strip of paper and transfer to a serving plate. Dot the chocolates on top. Spoon the reserved caramel-cream mixture into a small food or freezer bag. Snip off the tiniest tip of the corner to make a very small opening, then squiggle lines of caramel over the top. Chill until ready to serve. Scatter with a pinch or two of sea salt before serving, then thinly slice. Eat with a drizzle of single cream, if you like.

 

 

Band of Bakers – Chocolate Theme – Brixton 26th March 2014

Band of Bakers latest event was a chocolate themed extravaganza @ The Chocolate Museum in Brixton.

Much debate was had as to whether we would see any savoury dishes, luckily there was one and it didn’t last long! This did mean that a trip to McDonalds was required by one baker, to enable them to continue consuming the vast amounts of sweet chocolate delights – good call!

Eating that much chocolate meant my sugar rush hangover the next morning was severe, I even woke with a stinker of a headache. But boy was it worth it. Have a look at some of the delights we sampled.

I couldn’t remember all the bakers, so if you would like me to add you and a link to your blog/twitter/etc then just let me know, more than happy to include you. If I don’t have a picture of your bake, and you do, happy to add you in, just send me a message via twitter (@kurbkiss) or comment below!

Can’t believe I didn’t take picture of Aimée’s Meringue kisses!

Bourbon Biscuits made by Eva (@Eva_Beaver)

Bourbon Biscuits made by Eva (@Eva_Beaver)

Chocolate Brownie Cookies baked by @gingergourmand

Chocolate Brownie Cookies baked by Naomi (@gingergourmand)

Double chocolate & salted caramel tart from Gemma (@boozyrouge)

Double chocolate & salted caramel tart from Gemma (@boozyrouge)

Double Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies baked by Giulia (@mulia)

Double Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies baked by Giulia (@mulia)

Sticky Chocolate Gingerbread Cake by Chloe (@clo_bags1)

Sticky Chocolate Gingerbread Cake by Chloe (@clo_bags1)

Brandy Snaps with white chocolate & ginger cream baked by Anne

Brandy Snaps with white chocolate & ginger cream baked by Anne

Chocolate & Salted Caramel Pots by Ben (@ben_mulock)

Chocolate & Salted Caramel Pots by Ben (@ben_mulock)

Chocolate Orange Battenburg baked by Keith

Chocolate Orange Battenburg baked by Keith

Salted Caramel Torte baked by Harley (@kurbkiss)

Salted Caramel Torte baked by Harley (@kurbkiss)

Chocolate Rugelach by @toddlersurvival

Chocolate Rugelach by @toddlersurvival

Estonian Chocolate Liqueur & Stem Ginger Truffles by Chloe (@cedges)

Estonian Chocolate Liqueur & Stem Ginger Truffles by Chloe (@cedges)

Triple Chocolate Millionaires Shortbread

Triple Chocolate Millionaires Shortbread

Salted Rolo brownies baked by Jassy (@ginandcrumpets)

Salted Rolo brownies baked by Jassy (@ginandcrumpets)

Chocolate & Coffee Mocha Cake baked by Heather (@mrsjkitchen)

Chocolate & Coffee Mocha Cake baked by Heather (@mrsjkitchen)

Chocolate Soda Bread

Chocolate Soda Bread

Beef & Chocolate Empandas

Beef & Chocolate Empandas

Chocolate fudge cake with Pedro Ximinez soaked sultanas

Chocolate fudge cake with Pedro Ximinez soaked sultanas made by Lisa (@peckhamryeeats)

Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies

Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies

Malt Chocolate Brownies baked by Harley (@kurbkiss)

Malt Chocolate Brownies baked by Harley (@kurbkiss)

 

 

 

Band of Bakers Christmas Party 2014 – The Bakes

The 2nd annual Band of Bakers Christmas Party took place on the 27th November @ The Crooked Well in Camberwell. We had a good turnout, despite some last minute cancellations, and some fantastic bakes. This is just a little taster of some of the amazing food we had! I’ve tried to remember the bakers, if I’ve missed you out, let me know on Twitter and I’ll add you for full credit 😉

Following the prep for my decorated biscuits, here is the result, not as bad as I feared, although the decorating was fiddley and time consuming, got bored by 10pm, so only half got decorated. Definitely a day long job! Loved having a go at piping though, and will definitely be doing this again.

My Biscuits

My Biscuits

Chloe's Turkey and Camembert & Cranberry Chelsea Buns

Chloe’s Turkey and Camembert & Cranberry Chelsea Buns

Jenny's (?) Christmas Pie

Rachel’s Christmas Pie

Eva's Candy Cane Biscuits

Eva’s Candy Cane Biscuits

Hmmm I can't remember - Sorry ;)

Gingerbread Stuffing With Sweet Potato By Chloe Edges

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Lauren’s Florentines – My Fav

Christmas Pub Cakes

Christmas Pud Cakes

Gemma's Parma Ham Brioche

Gemma’s Parma Ham Brioche

Rudolph Cupcakes - Cute!

Rudolph Cupcakes – Cute!

Biscotti Christmas Tree

Biscotti Christmas Tree

Lovely Christmas Macaroons - Chocolate & Brandy Butter and Spiced Orange

Lovely Christmas Macaroons – Chocolate & Brandy Butter and Orange & Mixed Spice

Aimees Choux Buns with Chestnut Cream

Aimee’s Choux Buns with Chestnut Cream

Gina's Mango & Passion Fruit Tart

Gina’s Mango & Passion Fruit Tart

Naomi's Sundried Tomatoes & Feta Muffins

Naomi’s Sundried Tomatoes & Feta Muffins

Band of Bakers Christmas Party 2014 – Preperation

Tomorrow will be my 1st Band of Bakers Christmas Party, as last year I was too ill to attend, despite having baked all my canapes in preperation!

This year I will not get struck down by the lurgy, and so I have set myself the daunting task of doing fancy icing!

I’m going to create some Christmas themed biscuits, with some royal & fondant icing.

I have never made, or piped, icing before – wish me luck!

I made the biscuits this morning, and they came out well (Yay!), a nice simple vanilla plain biscuit. Tonight could be stressful as I attempt to have a steady hand and finish them off!

Let’s see how close I can get to this…

Will my Christmas Biscuits look this good?

Will my Christmas Biscuits look this good? (From Biscuiterie)

Band of Bakers – Paul Hollywood’s Sicilian lemon and orange sweet bread

For Band of Bakers recent 1st Birthday party I decided to bake Paul Hollywood’s Sicilian lemon and orange sweet bread. I felt is was quite apt, as this was the episode of Hollywood’s bread that the baking club starred in, and in which I had 3 appearances!

Now me and dough are not great friends, but I think we have found a mutual respect following the attempt of this recipe twice, with no major disasters, which usually come as standard with my baking.

The only thing that is a pain about this recipe is the proving time – 4 hours in total! Do not attempt to do this the night before an event, unless you want to stay up till 1am! Cough Cough!

Paul Hollywood Sweet Bread

Paul Hollywood Sweet Bread

The recipe is taken from Bread by Paul Hollywood (£20, Bloomsbury)

Serves: 8

• 400g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
• 7g salt
• 40g caster sugar
• 10g fast-action dried yeast
• 120ml tepid full-fat milk
• 4 medium eggs, at room temperature, lightly whisked
• 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
• Finely grated zest of 2 lemons and 1 orange (unwaxed)
• Juice of ½ lemon
• 100g flaked almonds
• 100g mixed candied peel
• 100g dried cranberries

FOR THE TOPPING:
• 2 medium egg whites
• 25g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
• 25g ground almonds
• 50g flaked almonds

1. Put the flour in a food mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the milk, eggs and the butter, in small pieces.

2. Mix on a slow speed for 3 minutes, then on a medium speed for 4 minutes, kneading to a soft, elastic dough.

3. Tip the dough into a bowl, cover and leave to rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

4. Grease a 23cm round, deep springform cake tin. Mix the lemon and orange zest with the lemon juice, almonds, candied peel and cranberries. Add to the risen dough and use your hands to incorporate it well.

5. On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a ball. Put into the prepared tin and place inside a large, roomy plastic bag. Again leave to prove in a warm place for 3 hours, until the dough has reached the top of the tin.

6. Heat your oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6. Bake the sweet bread on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, for the topping, in a bowl, stir the egg whites, sugar and ground almonds together to make a paste.

7. Take out the bread, spread the almond paste on top (some will run to the sides) and sprinkle with the flaked almonds and a little sugar.

8. Lower the oven setting to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4 and bake for a further 20 minutes, covering loosely with foil towards the end of cooking if it appears to be over-browning.

9. Leave the sweet bread to cool in the tin for ten minutes, then release the sides of the tin. Place the bread on a wire rack to cool completely.

Harley's Sweet Bread

Harley’s Sweet Bread

Eccles, Eccels, whatever! Band of Bakers March event

Hadn’t been to a Band of Bakers event since before Christmas, due to several reasons.
Travelling with work, losing my baking Mojo, but increasingly it is now quite difficult to get a place at an event.

This is testament to how great this event is and has become extremely popular, and to get one of their limited spaces you have to be fast off the draw in replying to the announcement emails.

I think it’s fantastic Gemma & Naomi have done such a brilliant job at organising the gatherings, and all the lovely community projects that are in addition to the cosy, friendly 6 weekly meets. And all on top of having regular jobs and families to look after – very inspiring.
Apparently the events are so popular that you can guarantee that over 2 thirds of the mailing list will need to reply faster to the next email, or sit in hope of a drop out and have a themed bake ready at short notice.

Does this put me and the hundred or so others off? Hell no!
If you could get to every event it wouldn’t be half the fun, plus our bank balance probably couldn’t cope.

As the band steadily grows I can see the glint in Naomi & Gemma’s eyes that they could be onto something big, but also the nervousness of how to keep the momentum and interest going. I don’t thing there’s any worry of that happening with so many bakers ready to help and be involved – 2013 is going to be epic for them and us.

Ok, enough blabbing about how great they are, onto the baking.

This event was British Classics, I contemplated Jaffa Cakes, Quiche (ok not quite British, how about flan?), but settled for Eccles cakes.
My trusty friend bbc food was on hand with a selection of recipes, I of course went for the easiest!
BBC Food – Eccles Cakes
Very easy, but again I took the whole prep and bake timings to their word and found myself rushing to assemble them 40mins before the event, knowing I had a 20min trudge over Peckham Rye.
They were tricky little buggers to assemble and very small, but ideal size for a BoB event when you have 35 other bakes to try.
Due to my timing misjudgement they were still warm and sticky (didn’t seal them very well) when I popped them in the tin, and decided that kitchen roll would be a good base to put them on – WRONG! I spent 5 mins trying to get tissue off the bases, so apologies to those who got a little more carb than they bargained for last night 🙂

They actually tasted great, shame I didn’t have auto correct when writing my description card as mine will forever be known as Eccels cakes – ops!

I bought home the other two Eccles cakes that were baked by people to compare, no doubt better than mine, but we are all our own biggest critics, so nothing new there.

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How rubbish am I?

True to form I have neglected my blog posting. Lucky this blog is not a pet otherwise the RSPCA would be onto me.
I have no excuse other than laziness as it’s not like I haven’t got things to write about, and with my memory it’s unlikely I’ll remember them all now. Since I last blogged I’ve hosted Christmas, run another 10k, signed up for a half marathon, did some techy/geeky networking with a complete stranger I met on Twitter and lots more. The only thing I haven’t be doing much of is baking, but that all changed last night. (Blog to follow).

I solemnly promise to keep up with my blogging, lets call it a March resolution. Plus I was very surprised when one of my friends said ‘You haven’t done a blog for ages – come on I’m waiting!’ So this is me ‘coming on’ so you can wait no longer, plus more to follow – Brownies promise.

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It’s Halloween, and no, I’m not going Fancy Dress!

That title makes me sound like a right grumpy pants, when in fact I feel I am embracing Halloween a lot more this year than previously.

Evidence:

  1. I bought sweets in case we get any trick or treaters, usually we just don’t answer the door and turn out all the lights.
  2. I’m actually going out on Halloween especially. Oh hang on that now makes number 1 defunct, as who will give out the sweets, as I am sure my husband won’t even answer the door!
  3. I baked halloween cakes

Ok so the above 3 evidences all happened by accident as follows:

  1. I was in Sainsburys saw the bucket of sweets and thought ‘oh I love swizzle lollies’. I have tested a couple to make sure the kids don’t get poisoned!
  2. I had no idea what the date was when I was invited, and when I did realise I pretty quickly made it clear that I would not go fancy dress…sorry Anna!
  3. I accidentally mentioned cake in the organising of the above rendez-vous, so guilted myself into making some Carrot Cake cupcakes (i got over my fear of all that oil!), as didn’t want to disappoint…you can forgive me the above point now Anna!

Despite this self confessed accidental falling into the spirit of Halloween, I do actually love the concept, and the idea of making a big ol’ fuss about it. I love it a lot more than Fireworks night where I have to stand in a cold field all night. Don’t worry Joy, I will enjoy it really! 😉

I think the Americans have the right idea and love that they really go to town. With a bit more planning I think I may join them next year, and carve a pumpkin! It’s just a bummer that it falls on a weekday, as it doesn’t feel right celebrating it on any other day than the 31st.

Because I can’t have a post that doesn’t connect to my 3 themes here is a link to the recipe I used for the cupcakes.

I must admit that I didn’t make the cream cheese icing as I had run out of icing sugar, and that is in fact ‘squirty’ frosting! Who knew you could by that in a can???

Hopefully the guys enjoy them tonight!

Weekend Baking Conquests

This is just a quick post to show off my latest baking conquests. As you’ll know from my previous post I’ve latched onto the lovely ladies @bandofbakers and the next meet is Winter Warmers. I needed to broaden my repertoire, so I had a crack at a different Carrot Cake recipe & a Pecan Pie. Yum Yum!

Pecan Pie

Ok, as I am too honest for my own good, I did not make the shortcrust pastry base, opting for the easier Just-Rol variety, but hey you still have to blind bake it…am I let off the hook? No? Oh well.

Pecan Pies are easy, but the ingredients are so scary my teeth almost fell out in anticipation of all that sugary badness. But it did have 2 eggs, so surely that balanced the nutrition out?!

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Being my own worst critic I would say it probably needed a little longer, as the filling wasn’t quite set enough, but it tasted jolly good! I’ve tried it out on my work colleagues and so far (@12pm) there is only half left!

Carrot Cake

I also thought I would have another go at a carrot cake, and going as far as to frost it. After grating my weight in carrots I then realised that the recipe was for two loaves. Oh well, one for me & one for Phill! Now, for some reason the amount of oil that goes into a carrot cake scares me, and even though I’ve done it twice I still can’t believe quite how much. My stomach goes tight every time I think about it! Halfway through making this one I realised that my Joseph Joseph scales were set to ml and not g, I’m hoping that didn’t matter 😉

The baking time seemed to take double what the recipe said, as every time I stuck my knife in it came out very gooey. Luckily I was patient and it finally cooked perfectly, according to hubby, who for some reason doesn’t eat a lot of cake but really likes carrot cake! As I mentioned, for this cake I decided to attempt to add frosting. At this point I had already packed away my mixer, so going against the instructions, I thought I would just manage to mix by hand. My arm literally fell off! Why did I think I could mix a whole brick of butter with Icing sugar, cream cheese & vanilla extract? Hmm, the frosting now benefits from a slightly lumpy consistency of butter chunks – ops. Oh and don’t try to frost a cake that is still warm – it just does not work!

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Taste tester husband was very impressed, commenting on the moistness, colleagues look like they are preferring the pecan pie so far, but afternoon tea could be this cakes reckoning.

Although some cheater did bring in some gorgeous shop bought french (from Paris!) Macaroons, which I fear have overshadowed my conquests, although if I scoff down all the macaroons they’ll be nothing to compare to.

Right, Operation Macaroon is underway – wish me luck!

All recipe links are supplied – thanks Channel 4 Recipes!!