Thursday, 28 June 2012

A Baking wash-out!

Rain, rain go away, come back another day!

Here in the Back of beyond, like many parts of our green and pleasant isle, it has done nothing but rain for weeks and this is causing havoc with my baking and Master Vander-Cave's sporting fixtures. Both of the Vander-Cave males are heavily involved with the local cricket team which is causing frayed tempers, tearful disappointments and a generally despondent air around the house as match after match has been cancelled due to rain or a water logged wicket.

Last Season!
As disappointing as this is for the boys, for me it is a triple disappointment. Not only do I not get a quiet Sunday morning,  my baking for the cricket tea doesn't disappear from the house (meaning my diet goes to pot for another week) and I have to put up with a grumpy faced boy complaining that he is "never going to get a match at this rate!"
This week it had been a double dose of rain stops play with cricket being cancelled and the school sports day/fete being postponed, equalling lots of baking not leaving my kitchen. For the fete I had made a tray bake lemon drizzle cake, only 20 portions to get through then!

The crunchy topping is sublime!
My waist band cannot cope with this amount of cake and as Mr V-C doesn't partake of lemon cakes (they're just not chocolate) I ended up sending half of it to school for the teachers. Always good to be kind to the teachers!

Today I have learnt from this lesson and have produced some very scrummy chocolate cornflake cakes for tomorrows cricket tea. So if plan A doesn't work out I know that plan B definitely will (all the cakes being eaten before I get a look in, they are chocolate after all!)

Mary Berry's Lemon Drizzle Cake
225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
275g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
4 tbsp milk
2 lemons, grated zest only (preferably unwaxed)

For the crunchy topping;
175g granulated sugar
2 lemons, juice only

Cut a rectangle of non-stick baking parchment to fit the base and sides of a 30 x 23 x 4 cm roasting tin. Grease the tin and line with the paper, pushing it neatly into the corners of the tin. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Measure all the ingredients for the tray bake into a large bowl and beat well for about 2 minutes, until well blended.

Turn the mixture into the prepared tin, scraping the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula to remove all of the mixture.

Level the top gently with the back of the spatula.

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and is beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes then lift it out of the tin while still in its lining paper.

Carefully remove the paper and put the tray bake onto a wire rack placed over a tray

To make the crunchy topping, mix the lemon juice and granulated sugar in a small bowl to give a runny consistency. Spoon this mixture evenly over the tray bake whilst it is still just warm. Cut into squares when cold and store in an airtight tin.

So simple but delicious!

Chocolate Cornflake cakes
75g butter
6tbsp golden syrup
150g chocolate (use your favourite dark or milk)
120g cornflakes

Gently melt the butter, syrup and chocolate in a small, heavy pan. Stir in the cornflakes. Place spoonfuls of the mixture into cake cases in a fairy cake tray leave to set in the refrigerator.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Fabulous Fridge Cake by Becky

At our recent Jubilee celebrations a tin of the most scrumptious chocolate fridge cake appeared on the Jubilee tea table. It was truly divine, chocolatey, biscuity heaven. Of course I asked around but no one seemed to know who had made this little bit of heaven.  I decided that I needed this recipe in my life so put out an email to the village, after a few non starters the lovely Becky stepped forward and owned up to producing the amazing treat. Thankfully she agreed to share her recipe with me so I could make it and share it here. The recipe originated from Lorraine Pascal's Home cooking made easy. I have no experience of this book, but after making these I may be tempted to add it to my groaning recipe book shelf!

I will admit I tweaked the recipe slightly by adding raisins to the mixture because I like them with chocolate. Be warned this is very rich and not one for dieting!!!

Chocolate Fridge Cake
400g of good quality chocolate, I used 200g each of dark and milk, broken into pieces
125g butter
250g digestives
2 dollops of golden syrup
135g maltesers
50g raisins

Melt the butter over a low heat then add the chocolate and syrup. Stir until all is melted. Take off the heat, add the biscuits and maltesers until evenly mixed. Put into a lined brownie tin, 20cm square, I used a silicone tin which didn't need lining, and place in the fridge for couple of hours or until set.  Remove from the tin and cut into 18 squares.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Jubilee Back of Beyond style

The spit roast

 The organisations for the village celebration of the Jubilee have been going on for some time. We are very lucky to have some wonderfully community minded villagers who come together to create memorable events for the village. Everything was sorted for the Jubilee, an evening party on Sunday night with music from every year of the Queen's reign and a whole lamb roast.  A mini Olympics with Maypole dancing and children's tea party on Monday afternoon.  The only element not arranged was the weather. Thankfully, a contingency plan involving one of the farm barns had been planned  A team of villagers including Mr Vander-Cave gave most of Sunday over to cleaning and decorating the barn whilst the bakers in the village created a range of nibbles and sweet treats to go along with the magnificent whole lamb that was cooked on a spit roast for the event.
After 5hrs cooking!

Chocolate dipped strawberries
My contribution to the evening event was chocolate dipped strawberries and a tangy lemon and lime cheesecake, both of which were very easy to make but tasted divine. Because chocolate dipped strawberries are basically 2 ingredients, chocolate and strawberries, it is important to have really tasty strawberries, none of those horrible El Santa variety that frequent the supermarket chain's shelves. Go for locally produced if possible and really fresh. We are lucky to have a local picking farm with some of the best strawberries I have ever tasted.

On Mr V-C's hand painted tray!
All you need is a large punnet of strawberries and 200g of dark finest chocolate. Wash the strawberries and pat them dry. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Once melted dip the Strawberries into the chocolate covering the strawberry all over quickly place on a baking tray covered with cling film. Refrigerate immediately to stop the chocolate developing a bloom. Once set peel the strawberries off the tray and display on a serving plate.We used an old tray that Mr V-C painted with a union flag to give festive air.

The cheesecake I made is a very old recipe given to me by one of my bosses back when I was nannying.  I think it originated from a Sainsburys cookery book but don't quote me on that!

Tangy Cheesecake
50g butter, melted
200g ginger biscuits, finely crushed
1 can of condensed milk
225g full fat cream cheese
grated rind and juice of one lemon and one lime
150ml double cream

You will also need a 20cm loose based cake tin.

Combine the butter, ginger biscuits and 2 tablespoons of the condensed milk. Press this into the base of the cake tin, making an even, well compressed layer.

Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until softened and smooth.

Gradually beat in the remaining condensed milk, lime and lemon juices and rind. Beat until well combined and starting to thicken.

Beat the double cream until thick (do not over beat, the mixture should leave a whisk trail but not be grainy looking)

Fold the cream into the cheese mixture then pour over the biscuit base. Smooth out if necessary. Place in the fridge until set, usually around 4hrs.

Remove from the tin and serve.

By the time I got a photo it was almost half gone!

On Monday it was all about the children so it had to be cupcakes with Jubilee decorations. I used the Hummingbird bakery vanilla cupcake recipe (which is given on an earlier post) and got creative with the decorations. I bought on Ebay a selection of Jubilee decorations, edible jubilee butterflies and red, white and blue sprinkles. I then used some red food paste painted down one side of  the inside of a disposable icing bag to make the red swirled effect buttercream.
The Maypole

Jubilee cupcakes
After the Maypole dancing, kids versus adults football match, an array of sports day style races and a whole village photo to mark the occasion, the Jubilee tea and refreshments were just what was required by all.