Brandy Snaps fit for a Pixie - Recipe 8 of the Women's Weekly Challenge

I haven't blogged for a while about my Women's Weekly Biscuit challenge, however I did complete this recipe a few weeks ago and have been lazy and not blogged about it.

Firstly, I did kind of cheat and skip a few recipes as for our Sunday Afternoon Tea I was requested by our guest of honour Pixie, who is over visiting her lovely daughter from Australia and could not say no to their lovely faces.

I was a little worried about getting these right, I don't think I've ever had a brandy snap before and so was unsure of the texture, taste etc. Another scary thing about these is the fact its based on sugar moulded into a tube with cream piped into the middle... eeek! Anything besides having to cream sugar for me is scary... and difficult. Unlucky for me the following week on the Great British Bake off was a brandy snap challenge and I definitely would have appreciated the tips from the show. However I surprised myself and actually managed to pull off something that resembled the picture in the book and definitely satisfied Pixie and Lulu's love of brandy snaps.

At first I was having a lot of difficulty with these as they kept sticking to the grease proof paper when they came out of the oven and there was no way I would be able to attempt to get them around the mould. I was nearly at a point of total loss, but I then tried it without the paper... volia! They worked! (time to maybe invest in some better grease proof paper).

I was very pleased with the outcome, but some more cream would have been handy, however after listening to the critical feedback by Lady Mary Berry on the GBBO I definitely think I have a lot of room for improvement and my brandy snaps could definitely have a bit more snap.

Also an interesting fact I found out about brandy snap - they don't even have any brandy in them! Crazy! However you can put some in the cream which I definitely think will be a welcome addition to my next batch.

Happy Baking x

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes with Jam Filling

I was very excited when Melinda's (who's wedding cupcakes I did earlier this year) asked me to do some cupcakes for her 40th Birthday.. umm I mean 21st Birthday! She generally gives me a bit of a guidance of what she wants and then I get to use my 'creative input' which I'm still developing.. and hopefully improving. This time I was sent off in the direction of pastel colours and this is was the result...

Who would actually know these were gluten free and I did have one comment back that "This was my best batch yet"... I just think they forget each time.

I'm glad Melinda gets to enjoy these as well as her department, who were none the wiser that they were not only gluten free but a little lighter on the calories.

Happy Birthday Melinda and Happy Baking x

Blackberry Baking - Cupcakes & Jam

This year I was very spoilt for my birthday and by far the best surprise from Pete was a gift voucher for a trial flight in the Piper Warrior out in the English Countryside at High Wycombe Airfield. It was a lovely present which I finally got around to using a few weeks ago, however on the day it was a bit nerve racking as I haven't flown a plane since 14th April 2006. Luckily it was a fairly pleasant day with no rain and only a few clouds and the instructor even let me land it twice - I was a bit rusty I admit that.

As we were already in the countryside I had mentioned to Pete that I wanted to go berry picking. The only time I have ever gone berry picking in England was at Pick Your Own farm and so I was a bit surprised when Pete told me we would be going berry picking on the side of the road in bushes and I was clearly not dressed for this. This way of berry picking was definitely much more fun (and cheaper) and once we had filled up with about 7 litres of blackberries we were on our way.

I managed to get about 5 litres back to London and the first thing on my list was JAM!!! I have been waiting to make jam for a long time, but as berries are always so expensive for a large amount I hadn't got around to it. With this amount of berries I had to do something with them as my freezer is tiny and jam is one of my favourite things and so I was very proud of myself as it tasted delish.

Next up I decided to use a dollop of jam in some cupcakes. For the icing I pureed a handful of blackberries and added it to my butter cream icing which gave an amazing purple colour, a better colour than any of my gel's could give.

Even after filling a few jars full of jam and making cupcakes, I still have freezer full of berries at my disposal... blackberry pie anyone?

Happy Baking x

Lavender Cupcakes

I have wanted to bake some lavender cupcakes for a long time now, but like many things I get distracted by so many other amazing things I want to bake. My first problem arouse when I tried to locate the lavender (I probably didn't look very hard). I was lucky enough however for my housemate to 'borrow' some lavender from the baking cupboard at his work. It was such a lovely 'gift' and about 8 months later I got around to using it - Thanks Tom!

doesn't look to appealing
Lavender mini's

Another reason I was actually put of making these was back in May I got a selection of truffles from this small English town en route to the Lake District. Pete and I were sharing the selection in the car and when suddenly bit into what I thought was orange creme, however to me (and Pete as I still made him try it) it tasted like I was biting into a mouthful of potpourri. Nice to smell.... NOT to eat.

However this recipe for these cupcakes included using lavender which had infused into milk overnight in both the butter cream icing and the cake itself. I was pleasantly surprised that my cupcakes didn't taste like potpourri and I actually really enjoyed the flavour which was quite strong, but not overpowering. I will be making these again very soon and will hopefully look a bit more presentable.

Happy Baking x

Chocolate & Lime Cheesecake

I was very lucky last month to have my sister come stay with me for a few days in between her 2 months traveling around the world. She is training to be a chef in Brisbane and is nearly finished and of course while she was here she treated us to an amazing Mexican dinner feast.

Before she had arrived she had already put an order in for some cupcakes, however I wanted to make a proper dessert for our lovely dinner and so I couldn't not make one of my sisters favourite desserts.. Cheesecake!!

I'm not a lover of cheesecake and so she was even surprised when I told her I even had to buy the tin for the occasion. If presented with it, I will eat cheesecake, but for me that's in in and on it is better and as a huge lover of chocolate and lime I thought this would be a perfect. 

I used the recipe from the new Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, Cake Days and therefore have not written up the recipe... not that I ever do and for those who have asked.... sorry.

Is a shame I don't actually like cheesecake more as this was very easy to make and a great end to many dinners with the endless variety of flavour combinations.

A very chocolaty base
flat packed and ready to be chilled
the mixture was so limey.. you can even see the zest here

I hope my sister comes back soon... maybe if I promise endless cheesecake...

Happy Baking x