Saturday, 29 August 2015

GDBO week 4 - Desserts and the top item on any cat's wish list

So it's dessert week! And really not the best week for me to start a diet.... oh well! The signature challenge this week is 24 Crème Brûlée that must be made without a torch; luckily I don't have a torch so I won't be tempted to cheat :P I found it harder this week to decide on a variation of crème brûlée as I have had it drilled into me by my crème brûlée loving mother that they are best as they come as long as they are hot! Having looked at some ideas here I decided on an almost traditional White Chocolate Crème Brûlée as I use any excuse to get chocolate in there! I used this recipe as a basis for my creation. I decided only to make 4 ramekins for our GDBO party as I knew there would be at least one other dessert on offer (which btw sounds amazing) and there wouldn't be enough mouths to eat up 24! (Also there is that diet thing again.... but the plus side of crème brûlée is the lack of raw cake mixture to "test".)
A genius idea to deal with the different rate of sugar caramelisation :P
Inspecting the handy work
I haven't quite nailed the caramalisation yet, we tried it with both brown sugar and normal caster sugar and I think the normal caster sugar is the best for giving the crisp top.

The other dessert we had was a White Chocolate and Whisky Croissant Butter Pudding. It was amazing!!! Here's the recipe if anyone wants to try it :)

It was a good week on GBBO with many yummy desserts. I was sad to see Sandy go as she is such a fun person to watch but I do think it was the right decision for the baking. I was not so keen on the choice of star baker, for 1) I think they shouldn't be keep the same person for that many weeks! It is only week 4 and 2) I don't think that Ian's cheesecakes were 'not savoury' as requested! In my book Szechuan peppercorn cheesecake, a pecan salted caramel and rosemary cheesecake, and an apple and tarragon cheesecake are far too close to savory for him to get star baker! I think there was some lovely creations and I am still very keen on Mat, Tamal and Nadiya!

My crafting this week has been to finish some monogrammed Cat blankets for my Brother and Sister-in-laws fluffies, Molly and Harry. The ones I have made previously were well received by Sherlock and my Mum's little one, Fujji, see below!
So hopefully they will enjoy them too :)
For Harry and Molly Elmore!
I also wanted to show off the beautiful cushion that my wonderful Mum made for friends of ours who are getting married today! It is only her second project but she did a beautiful job and I am so proud of her. Lets hope her creations continue :)
A wonderful wedding gift for Lisa and Jay getting married today!
Our dear kitties Sherlock and Moriarty have just about forgiven us for their cattery stay last weekend, they have been incredibily cute and affectionate, although I think Mori is taking measures to stop us going away again!
I just love this picture of our little detective checking who is coming in the house from her viewpoint!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

GDBO week 3 - Bread and a little mystery...

Before I start I'll say I am not a bread maker! I have watched the bread week episode of the GBBO after having my attempt at a quick bread... mistake #1. The moment I heard Paul Hollywood say the important thing in a quick bread is that the baking soda and the acid from the buttermilk is what makes the bread rise.... I remembered the moment in the kitchen, oh we don't have lemon juice, oh well milk will be fine.... Also I definitely didn't get the memo about free form so mine was just lobbed in a tin - Sorry Mary and Paul!

I have to say though I have learnt a valuable lesson that Paul Hollywood can be useful as well as mean and also that if you are baking something completely new, maybe try it after the appropriate episode of the GBBO. I am thinking that perhaps the Great Didcot Bake Off needs moving to later in the week :P

Still really scary though!!
So  my idea was to make a quick bread, like the signature challenge on the Bake Off, and use sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, parma ham and basil. The idea was good, inspired by this recipe. And the taste was good but the rise did not happen!!! Next time I will definitely use the vital acid. Paul Hollywood, I am sorry, in future I will follow your rules.

I have to say I am not sad about Dorret's departure, I was worried about Mat for a minute there though! Glad to see Tamal has stepped up and what about that Lion. AMAZING. Well done Paul!

We've had a bit of fun this week as well doing a Murder Mystery dinner that I was given for my Birthday. It was the Curse of the Mummy and set in 1932 so there was so brilliant character names and costume opportunities! It was great to see everyone make such an effort and I have never laughed so hard at accents.

The mysterious gang... before the murderer strikes!
Me playing Heidi Veppen with the local Mr Fixit Ahmed Ahbooboo
A little bit of costume swapping..
I also made a dessert that was Egyptian themed, sadly I forgot to take a photo before everyone tucked in! It was a nice dessert but an incredible amount of sugar in it so I won't be making it regularly. Was good to try something different though, the recipe I used was included in the kit and the name was Basbousa.

This is what it is supposed to look like:

I'm just going to leave this gem here...
My favourite picture of the night... I think Major Dick Payne has turned somewhat Wario here

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

GDBO - Biscuit week and a very grown up 30th party!

It was a very busy week for creating, making and crafting last week! I'll start with an update on the GDBO. As you'll probably know it was biscuit week. Sadly there wasn't many of us available for a bake off party last week so I spent my Wednesday busy with baking and crafting while watching the Bake Off. I decided again to try my hand at the Signature challenge (I see a pattern emerging here!) and make my first biscotti. I decided to combine a number of ideas from recipes I have found via Pinterest. Look here for the originals: Orange Cantuccini, Almond and Lemon Biscotti and Easy Vanilla Biscotti.

I decided to make orange, almond, cranberry and nutmeg biscotti, dipped in white chocolate. There wasn't 24, they weren't all identical and they didn't look so attractive so Paul wouldn't have been so happy with them. However, I'd like to see the Bake Off competitors manage to make theirs whilst hanging up the washing, feeding two cats and also watching the programme along with other things.

My orange, cranberry and almond biscotti
We did a taste test between a Sainsbury's taste the difference cantucci and my biscotti. Stuart decided that he preferred the texture and taste of my biscotti but it didn't have the same dunkability as the cantucci. I told him just to dunk more carefully but I think the main reason is that I was cheeky and added butter which isn't always included in traditional biscotti but I decided that I prefer less crunchy biscuits so I went for it!
Taste test :)

In other Bake Off news, I still love Mat :) also hoping Tamal will get more exciting with his creations again.

I've done well finishing off a couple of sewing gifts. I made a picture for my brother's 30th Birthday and it is basically a load of his favourite things for childhood and still now! I even had a go at printing onto fabric with my normal printer with very pleasing results. I found a tutorial for printing on fabric with freezer paper here.
A birthday picture depicting the loves of my brother through many years.
I even had some help from Stuart, he made the Ironman and Captain America badges at the bottom. I also finished the sash for my friend's Hen do. I'm really pleased with how it ended up and I decided to make a little felt hen pin as the attachment :)


The final creation of the week was my Brother's 30th Bday cake. I know how much he loves LEGO so I decided to try to make the famous amazing looking cake that is floating around the internet from professional bakers showing lego men. The cake was Red Velvet with a cheesecake layer in the middle instead of frosting. You can find the recipe I used here!


The lego was fun to construct and surprisingly quick although Sherley wondered what was going on...


I was really pleased with the final result!


My brother's actual birthday was on Saturday and we had a party for him, here are a few pics of the themed foods from superhero pizza to Star Wars snacks.

The cake looked good inside too! And tasted amazing :)
Sherlock and Moriarty wishing their Uncle a Happy 30th
Finally cake cutting :)
After a busy busy week I am having a little rest from the sewing, but only for a few days ;) I'll leave you with a little kitten selfie!

Mori and I having a wee selfie :)

Saturday, 8 August 2015

The Great Didcot Bake Off - week 1 and the Viral Squirrel Sensation

So this week was the return of GBBO and I have to say it lived up to the hype; between the alcoholic cakes, Paul's damning judgement and the mousse mistake there was lots of entertainment. I brought my offering of ginger and lime Madeira cake topped with lime buttercream and gingerbread men, and got a much better reception than if it had been Hollywood judging! We are yet to see who is the true 'Paul' of our GDBO group... I also really enjoyed the first go on my new mixer!

GDBO week 1 offering: Lime and Ginger Madeira Cake
Current favourites in the baking are Tamal and Nadiya, also Sandy for her brilliant character! Points also to Mat for having a gin and tonic Madeira cake (and also being a Fireman). The other bakers in our group didn't commit this week and we had a couple of lovely 'Sainsburys'-made additions to the cake-fest but we did enjoy a few school night (*shocking*) shots using this lovely game:
Looking forward to biscuit week next week and hoping I will have time to make something for the GDBO in between the birthday cake preparation I will be doing for my brother's 30th Birthday at the weekend :)

Along with the return of GBBO was the brilliant show - An Extra Slice. Last night I finally became an internet sensation but sadly not for my success but for my epic squirrel cake fail. Jo Brand happily announced that "Sarah from Oxford, a doctor of Physics, and her friend Caely" had made a squirrel cake. She then compared it to a real squirrel to much amusement, my family certainly had a big laugh here and it is great to know that my baking has caused people's children to fall off the sofa in hysterics.
The comparison made my An Extra Slice. Here is the facebook page link - the comments are definitely worth a read!
It's even been made into a meme thanks to one facebook user....

So it seems fame comes at a price, humiliation! But I won't be deterred :P

I've made some sewing progress this week; the sash I am making for a friend's hen do is almost done, well the hand embroidery at least.

And this brilliant little onesie that I bought for my cousin and his wife who were expecting last month. He thinks he is Batman but since their second little one is another girl I thought this addition to the onesie was appropriate :)

Batman - baby style. Who said little girls can't be superheros?!
I'm off to play some board games with a jug of Sangria with the family now, a nice warm up for next weekend's Birthday plans for the bro. I'll just leave you with this lovely picture of my Mum's cats enjoying the garden :D
Georgie and Fujji enjoying the lovely weather

Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Great Didcot Bake Off

I'm just a little bit excited about the new series of the Great British Bake Off! A friend of mine has come up with a brilliant idea to do our own competition each week and in couples we will bake something for the week's theme and bring them to judge while we watch the episode. Personally I am looking forward to three bakes to sample each week :D These has also been a suggestion of recreating any 'gates' that occur during the series so watch this space for weird and wonderful bakes and hopefully some amusing disagreements!
GBBO courtesy of the BBC
Things have been a bit hectic between completing crafts for a dear friends hen party.
The dear Bride-to-be with her personalised homemade sash!
Also the new fluffy arrival we had in back in November :) She is a dear sweet little rescue cat called Moriarty, Mori for short, and a best friend (rather than nemesis, most of the time) for Sherlock!

The new addition, Moriarty :)
Stuart and his little baby Mori

Together they have definitely 'aided' my crafting but there are still many things in progress and I really need to have a finish up summer. Hopefully some finished crafts will be appearing on the blog soon along with the updates of the Great Didcot Bake Off that we will be doing.

Double trouble: Sherlock and Moriarty
I'll sign off now so that I can make my plan for the signature bake of a Madeira cake with a twist. I'm thinking something with lime for a change and some ginger in honour of the newly graduated Dr Henderson.
Celebrating with the new Dr Henderson PhD :D