It’s well and truly autumn now. Great news for me as it’s by far my favourite season. I adore the colour of the leaves at this time or year, and in a much more shallow way, I love my autumn wardrobe. You get to wear scarves and hats, yet not freeze your butt off. It’s cool enough for cosy winter coats and the nights are not too dark.
It’s also an opportunity to change up the ingredients in my baking. Spices play a heavy roll. Using dark brown sugars and treacle always seems like the right move. Pumpkins a plenty! Apples and pears also feature heavily. These cupcakes incorporate most of the above with a hint of spice and chunks of caramelised apple throughout.
These spiced apple cupcakes encapsulate the season in a bite. They are simple to make and don’t have the fuss or over-the-top sweetness of buttercream icing. They are light and moist with a cinnamon crunch on top thanks to the generous sprinkling of sugar atop the sliced apples. This recipe would work equally well with pears and is a great way to use up any that you find that just won’t ripen up in your fruit bowl. (more…)
About a month or so ago I was contacted by the publisher Phaidon who asked if I would like a copy of one of their new books to try out, review and, if I liked it, blog about it. Now, everyone likes free stuff and I love cookbooks so of course I accepted gratefully. With that eager response I totally forgot all about it until a mysterious heavy package arrived at home a couple of weeks ago. It was addressed to me but I was sure I hadn’t ordered anything lately…had I?
So I opened it with a slight tad of suspicion only to be delightfully surprised with the promised new book ‘What to Bake and How to Bake it’ by Jane Hornby. And it really is delightful. Even before I had delved in to its pages the eye-catching illustrated front cover held great promise. The inside didn’t disappoint either. This really is a ‘how-to’ of baking. The book has a blog feel to it as all of the ingredients and steps to each recipe are photographed meticulously. Each recipe is delivered in the same simplistic format which would be very easy for the novice baker to follow.
The cover is gorgeous, bright and the interesting design would certainly make you pick it up for a flick through in a book shop but if you are after evocative or arty food photographs then that’s not what this book is about. I think that’s ok though, because this book is meant to be a tool to teach which in my opinion is successfully does.
I was recently contacted by Epilepsy Action asking if I would contribute a recipe for their National Tea and Cake Break 2014 which takes place on 19th October. The theme is pink and blue, which is the colours of the charity and the idea is that people hold a fundraising get together for people to enjoy lots of tea and cake!
“National Tea and Cake Break brings bakers and brew-lovers together all over the country. There are all sorts of ways to get involved, from a cup of tea and a cupcake in your kitchen, to an office tea party or school bake sale.”
The Tea and Cake Break is not only to raise awareness of the illness and the charity, but specifically it is to let people know about their support groups…
“Epilepsy Action’s network of coffee and chat groups can provide a life line to people who might be feeling isolated because of the condition. Coffee and chat groups give people affected by epilepsy an opportunity to come together and share their experiences.”
There are more details on their website, which you can find by clicking here.
At first I was at a bit of a loss as to what to make, blue is not an easy colour to create without food dye and I thought just colouring my buttecream was a bit of a cop out. So instead I cheated a little. Technically these cookies are pink and purple, but they are made with blueberries so that totally counts! (more…)
Has everyone been watching the new series of the Bake Off? It has to be the TV highlight of the Autumn. I love it. Even in its 5th series it is still essential viewing. Every now and then I think that I should apply, but as soon as I see the look of fear hit the contestants eyes when the technical challenge is announced I know I’m better on my couch then in the tent! I have so much admiration for the contestants for baking under the stress of TV cameras, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.
So, instead of baking my first ever Swiss roll under the inscrutable eyes of the judges, I decided to do it at home and then tell you all about it. I think it went well! Swiss roll is really fun to make. I’ve made a chocolate roulade type thing once before but never just good old sponge and jam.
As I mentioned the other day, the recipe for this Swiss roll came from the Home Sweet Home cookbook but I added a couple of little twists. Firstly I added some ground up pistachios, I thought they would make great decoration but unfortunately I only had enough to use in the sponge. They added a little to the flavour and gave a denser texture to the sponge. The jam was really the selling point though – my mums homemade blackberry jam. I don’t know that I had ever tried blackberry jam before this season but it is delicious. Deep purple with bursts of still in tact blackberries, it’s not as super sweet as raspberry and strawberry can be. It really complimented the slightly savoury flavour of the pistachios.
The recipes calls for rolling up the swiss roll in a tea towel straight from the oven. All seemed to be going well until I unrolled it and the split straight in half! Luckily I was still able to roll it up using the jam as glue and hide the split on the bottom. No harm done!
A recipe! I know, it’s a shock to my system as well. A recipe for blueberry and almond cake to be precise. I’m feeling all inspired at the moment as I’ve just spent my Tesco vouchers on two new cookbooks. One I have been meaning to buy for months, maybe even years, and the other is a new book from Jamie Oliver Food Tube range. The first was the third in the Hummingbird Bakery range called Home Sweet Home. I love those cookbooks, everything always turns out perfectly and the recipes are delicious. Inspired by the first episode of the Great British Bake Off the first recipe I am going to attempt is for a Swiss roll…which I’ve never actually made before.
Jamie’s Food Tube: The Cake Book is written by Cupcake Jemma of Crumbs & Doilies and so far it seems like a great wee find. The first chapter covers basic cakes as well as things you might need to spice up your cupcakes such as infused milk, marshmallow frosting, caramel and fruit filling. The remaining chapters are split in to seasons and there are some great cupcake ideas in there. Topping my must make list so far are popcorn cupcakes and Jamaican gingerbread layer cake. (more…)