Friday, 18 July 2014

How much is that doggy in the window?

I'm sure you're all in shock to see me posting again so soon haha! 

This week my sister came to me and asked me if I could make her a amigurumi dog for her trainer at work, as a thank you. I was more than happy to do it and then she dropped the bombshell. She needed it finishing by the next evening and since it was quite late when she asked me it meant I had one day. ONE DAY! Now I'm sure other crocheters will agree, its possible to make something in a day if you just sit and do it and nothing else, but I felt like I didn't have time to do the little tweaks that would have made it perfect. This led to me being unhappy with the finished result and almost reluctant to hand it over. The woman who received it loved it and it got positive feedback on Instagram and Facebook, but I will always have that niggling feeling that I could have done better.

Does anyone else get this?

I originally popped up the photo on the left asking if anyone could guess what I was making. I had a few people say a snowman, which makes sense because I make a lot of snowmen at Christmas time. No one guessed that it would turn into this little puppy!

Hope you're all having  a lovely weekend x

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Baking Mad!

I haven't blogged for so long! Going back to work really knocked me for six. Things should be getting better though, I've had the doctor request shorter hours at certain times of the day :)

I have been on a massive baking drive for the last week. I love baking and, not to sound big headed, I am quite good at it. I think my baking skills far surpass my normal cooking skills, I think its because baking is more science-y. Everything has to be measured, if you just guess and throw things in it won't work. I guess something from my degree has stuck with me after all haha.

Here are the cakes I made, I'm pretty proud of them!

All of these cakes are made from the same simple sponge recipe that I use. I believe if you have a cake recipe that you like that you should stick to it and just adapt flavours and toppings. There's a couple of reasons for this
a) the recipe may have been passed down from family or friends and has sentimental value that will make you enjoy baking them
b) if you have a recipe that you like and you know works then you won't be worried about things going wrong. I'm a believer that cakes can sense stress haha.

Here are the ingredients I use to make my sponge

You might notice a lack of butter, I have found that using oil and milk instead make much fluffier cakes. I think its because all of the ingredients are either powder or liquid so mix better together. Also no need to do lots of mixing to try and cream sugar and butter together!

The first cakes I made were the peanut butter and jam ones. I have used peanut butter in cakes before so was excited to try out the peanut butter and jam combo that everyone in the USA seems to love. You can't see from the photo but there is also a peanut butter and jam filing. After the cakes had cooled I cut a circle into the top (around one of my measuring spoons) and scooped out part of the cake. I added a blob of peanut butter and a swirl of jam and then popped the bit of cake back on. The cake doesn't always sit flat afterwards but it doesn't matter and it helps with a height boost for the middle of the buttercream swirl. The buttercream is just a standard one (butter and icing sugar) with some peanut butter added and then jaw swirled on top. I used Hartley's Smooth raspberry jam in a  squeezy bottle and I will definitely use it for jammy cakes in the future. It allowed me to get the lovely swirls on the tops and also get just the right amount in the middle.

I then made some chocolate cupcakes with a strawberry baked in the middle. These were yummy because the cooked strawberry was a bit tart so made a nice contrast from the sweetness of the cake. I filled the cake cases with the majority of the cake mix and then popped in the strawberries and added more cake mix to cover them so they don't burn. I bought a punnet with lots of little strawberries in which fit perfectly in my cake but you can also cut up bigger ones into pieces.
When the cakes come out of the oven they have a little dip in the middle, this is where the strawberry has cooked and become a smaller volume but its easily hidden by the frosting. I made a standard chocolate buttercream and then added some strawberry flavouring. I thought it was a tad too sweet but everyone else loved them!

 This was just a bog standard Victoria sponge with fresh cream that I made especially for my dad. I took it round to my parents house and when I was leaving they said "You're not taking the rest of the cake are you?" They must have enjoyed it haha. The only problem I had with this was that because it was so hot the cream started melting so I was giving it a little top up as I was serving it.

Lastly I made some more chocolate cupcakes with magic stars. The ones on the left have a plain chocolate frosting and the ones on the right have a cream flavoured buttercream that I made by adding squirty cream to plain butter cream. I wanted cream on the top of them but after the Victoria sponge I was worried about them melting, I figured that incorporating buttercream would make it sturdier. It did hold up okay and I was able to pipe it but didn't come out as nice as the chocolate frosting.

That's the end of my baking spree although I already have a list of other things I want to make after discovering this blog Some of the recipes on here look amazing. I can't wait to make the flourless peanut butter brownie cookies and the chewy chocolate chip cookies. Dave has tried to put me on a baking ban for a few months - I think this is probably because we're going on holiday next month. Maybe they will have to wait until September!

Have a lovely day x