Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Great Phone Case Conundrum

Hello all of you lovely people.

For the past few days, I would say about 84% of my brain has been devoted to worrying about this big issue in my life.

I now have 2 cases for my beloved blackberry, and I am in a constant state of anxiety about which case to use at any given time. You see my dilemma:

One is sparkly. This is good. However it has no reference to cakes on it. The other is pink and has a cupcake on it, but sadly no sparkly bits.

My simple dog brain is overwhelmed.

P.S. I hear you thinking 'this post seems rather rushed, almost as if it is an emergency post because she doesn't have time to right a big post and she is away for the weekend so wont be able to blog, then she would be in contravention of the laws of Blog Pact.' You may or may not be correct about this.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Baked Cheesecake Challenge

a.k.a. The Great Cheesecake Disaster.

So The Boyf and i decided to do another baking challenge after the success of the focaccia competition. This time we each had to make a baked cheesecake of some description.

I decided to make an apple crumble cheesecake. I was going to assemble the recipe myself- ie make a plain baked cheesecake, top with a spiced apple compote, then crumble topping, but instead i decided to go with this recipe, and to be honest, it didn't go to plan at all. Nothing in particular went wrong, when i was making it, but i think my springform tin leaked a bit (so i ended up with melted butter all over my oven,which then created an alarming amount of smoke), then the mixture rose more than expected around the outside and burnt a bit, while the middle didn't do much at all.

Anyway, after it has been left in the fridge overnight i was hoping that a miracle may have occurred or a little emergency cheesecake fairy had appeared to make it look prettier, but alas, there it was, looking sad and forlorn and very, very ugly.

i am a very ugly cheesecake. that is all.
I've had a little taste today for my sunday lunch dessert and i'm pleased to report that it doesn't taste as bad as it looks, it's actually quite nice. It looks much better inside than it does on the outside, which is probably a lot like myself (beauty comes from within, right, and in my head i am Lily Cole) I do think that just making a plain cheesecake with an apple crumble topping will work better though, maybe this is something to try sometime in the future.

Meanwhile, he made a double chocolate cheesecake which looks A-mezzing. It really does look lovely:

Last time we took great steps to ensure an independent judge and appropriate blinding. This time I can't bring myself to waste such effort as he is the clear winner. Even my mother, who should be heavily biased towards me, has said that he has won. Her exact words when she saw mine: "oh dear, what on earth is that?"

All of this means, dear people, that i have lost a cheesecake baking competition to someone who had to ring me to clarify what cream cheese is. I hang my head in shame and crawl into a corner to cry gently for many hours.

The score is now 1:1. And this is before proper judging.

UPDATE: Well of course he won. I mean, no contest at all really.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A Sincere Apology To Brussels Sprouts.

Dear Brussels Sprouts

Alas, dismay, and woe is me. for I am writing this post to inform you of sad news.

For today I am missing the Newcastle Clandestine Cake Club, due to travelling to a conference, and there will be no brussels sprout cake.
However, fear not my tiny cabbagey friends. I shall still make a cake of you someday to make people fall in love with your little sprouty selves.

Look out for the post sometime in the future

Kind regards,

Hayley xxx
Disappointingly Poor Brussels Sprout Ambassador

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Soda Bread again


today i have made two loaves of soda bread. i made one white loaf, and one wholemeal. I think i am perfecting this recipe now. Still used golden syrup, which i think actually does work rather nicely. 

Two loaves of soda bread joy
I'm going to have a very nice tea tonight of chicken soup with home made soda bread. Nomnomnom!

There will be more interesting posts next week, I promise.

Hayley xxx

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Brownies and Bacon, Bacon and Brownies

I have a number of favourite things in my life.

I would say cheese is quite high on the list. I also like brownies lots. And bacon.

Imagine my joy when i stumbled across a recipe for.... bacon cheesecake brownies!

Bacon, and cheese, all mixed up in brownie dreamy goodness. So this weekend gone, Boyf and I made brownies. Half a batch of walnut and cherry, half a batch of bacon cheesecake.

So I used Nigella's divine brownie recipe, added some crispy bacon goodness, then made some cheesecake mix using cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla, which was then expertly applied to the brownie mix.

Bacony brownie mixture!

The result- to be honest, I'm not hugely sure. I kind of expedted a "Oh my! bacon! and brownie!" kind of taste explosion in my mouth when eating, but instead its more of a pleasant, sedate, "oh, I have encountered a little bit of bacon in my brownie" kind of a feel. I definitely, definitely approve of the added cheesecakey-ness. The saltiness of the bacon combined with rich chocolateyness reminds me a bit of the chocolate salty cake that I tried at the Clandestine Cake Club Newcastle, but i think that had a bit more impact than these brownies. I wonder whether using pancetta might work better- i used unsmoked bacon, but i actually think a nice smoky flavour would work quite nicely with chocolate.

Action pouring shot!

The reception has been mixed. Boyf was left unimpressed, I was a mixture of gently pleased and mildly disappointed. I was sat at mu desk today when two colleagues from another office appeared with excited faces saying "bacon? brownies?!" repeatedly, and they seemed to quite enjoy the concept. There was also some disgust, and some moderate intrigue but wariness from other parties.

The next brownie adventure i want to try will involve chilli, i suspect.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Soda Bread

Hi my lovelies,

Why did no one ever tell me how easy soda bread is to make? From now on i will whip up a loaf every.... ah, well maybe not that often, but it's really not much of a faff at all, and is really, rather good to snaffle down with a little bit of butter, or some jam, or some peanut butter. And it makes blummin lovely bacon sandwiches.

Ok, so its really not the prettiest, but it was really very yummy and comforting, and there is a supreme amount of satisfaction and domestic goddess type smugness in eating home-baked bread.

I used Lorraine Pascal's recipe, which can be found here. There were a couple of tweaks, as i made an impromptu decision to make this so had to make do with what i had in the cupboards. So i used warm milk with lemon juice instead of buttermilk, and golden syrup in place of treacle.

Hayley xxx

Thursday, 8 September 2011

i will be the brussels sprout ambassador.

Poor brussels sprouts. They aren't very loved in this world, but i'm sure they're not so bad really. They are just ickle behbeh cabbages after all, and usually things in miniature are cute.

Well I believe the only way to make life better for lonely, sad little brussels sprouts is to make them into a cake.

That way, people will love them

The next Clandestine Cake Club theme is 'one of your five-a-day'. So I shall be presenting a cake made from these unappreciated little cabbage creatures for the cakey people to adore.

I must point out, I have never made brussels sprout cake, so hopefully it will turn out yummy.

Watch this space

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Bread Baking Battle Verdict

Well, the results are in for the bread making bake off.


Ok, so the judge was my friend Nancy, who may have been slightly concerned at the idea of weeks of permanent foul mood induced by my losing my baking crown, but hey, I still won! 

And we did everything properly, sending anonymised pictures to her to judge so she didnt know which was which when she made her decision.

So I present to you, dear people, the winning foccacia:

And here is The Boy's runner up effort (which I have to say is very impressive, and probably a more worthy winner than mine, but that's not the point)

Note the kitchen paper backgrounds to blind the results for the judge. We took this competition seriously, you know.

The recipe I used was from the very wonderful Lorraine Pascal, and can be found here.

And as an extra special bonus (and to buy me a few more moments of smugness in my success), here are some more photos of the baking process

I have also made some soda bread tonight, but i'm now too full of fresh focaccia to write a post about that right now.

Love and joy to the world, for I am a winner,

Hayley xxxx

A Bread Baking Battle Begins

Who's silly idea was this? Oh, mine.

I am typing this as a way to pass the time whilst nervously waiting for some bread to prove.

I wanted to bake something today, the Boyf also wanted to bake something today. He is in London, I am in Newcastle. So in a moment of confidence, I suggested we both bake the same thing in a bake-off type fashion, and we decided on some focaccia bread because that was on the Great British Bake-Off the other night.

We have independent judges and everything.

Now i'm thinking, a lot is riding on this. My reputation as a baking queen vs he who has never made bread, females vs males, Northerners vs Southerners. Pressure indeed. Its been years since i've bothered making my own bread.

Results, recipes etc to follow.