Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Food Bloggers Unplugged

Woo hooo! I was recently tagged for Food Bloggers Unplugged by the Hungry Hinny and Jo from What do you make of my cake? - thanks ladies, I was seeing more and more entries popping up and hoping to be able to join in!

1. What, or who inspired you to start a blog?
When I started baking I was taking pictures of the stuff I'd made anyway, and had started a Baking album on Facebook already to keep a record. I'd dabbled with blogging a bit in the past and after I finished uni I was out of work for a while and had the idea to start up a blog about it just to pass some time really and keep a more detailed record, then it just kind of grew from there!

2. Who is your foodie inspiration?
I'm not sure - I don't even know what kickstarted my desire to learn to bake (although I suspect 3rd year procrastination)! I'm still building up my collection of cookbooks and trying new things so there isn't anybody in particular I can pinpoint (other than BBC Good Food!). I love reading other blogs so in terms of inspiration at the moment a lot of it comes from other bloggers as it's probably through blogs that I find the most things I want to try.

3. Your greasiest, batter - splattered food/drink book is?
I don't really have one! I do have a recipe binder though that is getting very splattered, it's full of magazine clippings, printed off and scribbled down recipes from a whole variety of places. I've yet to find any one particular book that I use a lot.

4. Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?
I'm notoriously bad when it comes to eating abroad as I'm quite fussy and paranoid - I like to know what I'm eating! So I'm never very adventurous, but a pizza I had at a place called Le Collier in Antibes sticks out in my mind - it was mahoosive (literally I could have draped it over my head, cut out some eye holes and it could have been a balaclava) and at the time was just the best thing ever because I could devour it without worrying what was in/on it! Also, Scotland is technically another country and the fish and chips we had at Anstruther a few months ago were the best fish and chips I've ever had.

5. Another food bloggers table you'd like to eat at is?
Some of the most stunning and fun looking cakes I've seen are from Butter Hearts Sugar and the Buttercream Bakery although a lot of it just looks too perfect to eat! I am a bit of a Pink Whisk girl aswell. All the blogs I read have such droolworthy stuff, I want to sample them all!

6. What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
I am notoriously bad with gadgets; many cannot believe I will beat cakes by hand rather than using my shiny Kitchenaid. If money is no object I would have to get a whole new house/kitchen of my own (I currently rent) with loads and loads of cupboards and worktop space, a giant fridge/freezer and a larder and one of the those island things in the middle. And cake tins and baking trays of every possible measurements so I would never have to stress about them again!

7. Who taught you how to cook?
Nobody really! I used to bake with my Mum and Grandma when I was little, but the recent baking frenzy is just recipe following. But every time I add in eggs to the mixture I hear my Grandma's voice in my head saying "make a well for the eggs"!

8. I'm coming to you for dinner what's your signature dish?
My signature baking dish is probably really dull and I would have to say just plain old vanilla cupcakes or victoria sponge. They are the only thing I've made time and again as I always want to try new stuff, so they are the only thing I can make with any sort of confidence! Cooking wise my favourite thing to cook is chicken, potato and green bean curry.

9. What is your guilty food pleasure? 
Baked beans out of the tin, or even better... out of the fridge! I looooove extra cold baked beans. I don't think I have ever met anybody who wasn't sickened by this. On a more socially acceptable level, beetroot out of the jar! Or just CRISPS. Lots of CRISPS.

10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?
My all time favourite bands include The Ataris, The Offspring, Alkaline Trio, Blink 182, Green Day... some people seem to think my main musical tastes are at odds with the tea dress wearing, cake baking person I often am today.

Finally...tag 5 other food bloggers with these questions...like a hot baked potato...pass it on!

1. Maria at Goddess' Kitchen

2. Astral at The Art of Being Perfect

3. Kara at Butter Hearts Sugar

4. Natasha at Cooks Cakes and Bakes
5. Anne at Anne's Kitchen

If any of you lovely ladies want to take up my tagging, you can link your entry here and through #foodbloggersunplugged on Twitter

Friday, 18 November 2011

Ice cream cupcakes

OK so I know these are completely unseasonal, but I wanted to make something for Mike's sister Louise's birthday that was a little bit different to your standard cake or cupcake. I had seen ice cream cupcakes on a few blogs in the past and thought it was a really good effect so decided to try them out. For some reason I had it in my head that I would have to bake them normally then just place the cupcakes in the cornets... but after a quick google I found a recipe that was actually in a book that was sitting on my bookshelf - the WI Celebration Cupcake book. Turns out you can just bake them in the cones!

I followed the recipe given in the book and have to say it wasn't one of the best tasting cupcakes (but whether or not that was because it was in a cornet, I don't know!) - so I think next time I will try it with my usual cupcake recipe. It was pretty difficult getting the mixture into the cornets as they were quite tight - I used a teaspoon, which took a lot of patience (something I am not known for having!). So I won't post the recipe and would just say follow your go-to cupcake recipe - they didn't take any longer to bake. I was pleased with how they came out, as I was worried about them not rising enough or rising too much, but there were only a couple I had to lop a bit off from.

Now for the fun part! A batch of buttercream was whipped up and piped on for the ice cream effect. 

 4 Flake bars were cut into 3's and used for the Flake - sticking them in was tricky as I wasn't sure if they would hold as the buttercream wasn't that deep - but they stayed up.

I used strawberry ice cream sauce for the topping and then sprinkles.

These were actually the test batch that I made up so here are the ones we actually gave to Louise.

Nice use of kitchen towel for the presentation I know... can't believe I didn't actually think how we would get them to her, since they are too tall and unstable to be put into any tubs/tins, so had to get a cupcake box with kitchen towel to try to hold them in place. They were still wobbling about all over the place though, so it was a bit of a stressful journey (especially when we had to pick up pizzas on the way too!). They arrived intact though and went down well.

I'll definitely be busting these out again in the summer, I loved the ice cream effect although it did mess with your mind a little bit to eat them - I was so expecting the ice cream flavour even though I had baked the things myself! Next time I'll try out my cupcake recipe instead of the one in the book - but even if you might lose a little bit on taste, I think it's worth it for how cute they look.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sugarpaste and my new Wilton 1M

Ever since my courses in cake and cupcake decorating I have been slowly building up an arsenal of cake decorating weaponry (this could be an expensive hobby!) and a few weeks ago I was finally ready to try out some of my newly acquired skills.

I had to keep it simple as I had the bare minimum of equipment! So I coloured some white sugarpaste pink and then stamped out some flowers. After a few head-scratching moments I remembered how to make roses and made some of them too. I was the most excited about using my new piping nozzle, the Wilton 1M that we had used on the cupcake course, and was even more excited that I actually remembered how to pipe properly - especially the rose swirl as I love the effect.

I know that cupcakes like these are as basic as you get, but I'm so proud of them and making them felt like a huge achievement. When I started baking I didn't really think I'd be able to make anything beyond some runny icing slopped onto a fairy cake! Art and creativity have never been (and never will be!) my strong suits, so I'm pleased that I can make something I'm happy with, even if it is basic!

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