Wednesday 31 August 2016

Bake Day Wednesday 2016: Week 2: Biscuit week

So Bake Off started last week, and I joined in with cake week by baking a less an illustrious marble cake. Actually it was more in keeping with the show than I had planned: my white chocolate ganache was definitely more like a drizzle than icing, and as last week's signature challenge was drizzle cakes, I'm going to claim my cake as a chocolate drizzle cake!

This week is biscuit week, and I've tried out two new (to me) recipes: coffee kisses and jam thumbprint cookies, both from The Great British Bake Off: Big Book of Baking. Both recipes are pretty basic: mix flour and sugar, rub in butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then bind together with an egg and some flavouring (milk and vanilla for the thumbprint biscuits, coffee for the coffee kisses). I had fun rolling the biscuits into balls to go on the baking tray, and my son loved making thumbprints in the jammy ones (his thumbs, with their short nails, are much better suited to making thumbprints in dough than mine!).

Dough for the coffee kisses
Little thumbprints

The jam biscuit recipe specifically said not to use conserve, but that was all we had, so I was careful to only put the fruitier bits into the holes made by the thumbprints, rather than the syrup.

Sticky jam

I had a little difficulty making the filling for the coffee kisses; I needed 150g icing sugar, but only had 80g (and only realised after I had weighed the butter out), so I had to go with making less icing than was ideal.

Both sets of biscuits turned out well, and we had a lovely time making them. Turns out baking is much less stressful when everything goes to plan!

Left: jam thumbprint cookies; right: coffee kisses

Is anyone else baking along with Bake Off? If you are, I'd love you to share your bakes in the comments below.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Bake Day Wednesday 2016: Week 1: Bake Off is back!

I started this blog in 2014 to share my baking efforts, which generally coincided with The Great British Bake Off being aired in the UK on a Wednesday, hence the name. Since then the blog has evolved (read, gone off in a totally different direction), and very rarely features baking. The name still remains though, and Bake Off starts again tonight, so for the next twelve weeks this blog is heading back to its roots and will be featuring a bake every week on a Wednesday (partly so I have something delicious to eat while I'm watching Bake Off; for those of you who are here for the knitting, don't worry, that's not going to disappear).

Week one is Cake Week, and running with the theme of the show seems like a good plan, so first up, we have White and Dark Chocolate Marbled Loaf Cake. The recipe is a modification of the Mocha Marbled Loaf Cake recipe from The Great British Bake Off: How to Turn Everyday Bakes into Showstoppers, with 100g molten white chocolate added in place of the coffee, because my children are unlikely to eat anything that tastes of coffee (which is a good plan as far as my getting to eat all the cake is concerned, less good in terms of getting a quiet life). The book was a present for my 30th birthday a few years ago, and I'm not sure it's even been opened before; it definitely hasn't been used in the kitchen as it's pristine! The recipes are all a little showier than I would usually make, and I've chosen one of the simpler recipes to start with.

The cake will look like this. It will!

Making the cake was easy, and I'm sure the instructions were excellent, but I realised halfway through that I was winging it and not actually reading the recipe beyond the amounts of ingrediants required as I know how to make a basic sponge. I did make a bit of an error adding the cocoa powder - I tried creaming it with amount of milk specified, and when that didn't work I read the instructions and realised that I was meant to add the cocoa to the cake mixture, then add the milk. Oops. As a results there are a few lumps of cocoa in the chocolate portion, but not enough that anyone else will notice. The cake baked nicely enough; the crust was a little crisper than ideal, possibly because I didn't compensate for the extra sugar in the white chocolate (adding too much sugar to a cake can make the crust crispy), but we got round that by slicing the top of the cake off and eating the offcuts with custard. Yum.

Marbling: before and after cooking

The ganache was a different matter. This afternoon it was 30 degrees, and I have no idea whether this is the reason, but the ganache *would not set*. I followed the recipe exactly, and it ended up like a pouring sauce, even after full cooling. So we have marble cake with sauce. It's delicious, but not quite what I was aiming for, not terribly photogenic, and nothing like the picture. Does anyone have a better recipe for white chocolate ganache? One that sets.

Not quite what I had planned...

I'm off to enjoy Bake Off now. If anyone else is baking along with the Bake Off, say hello in the comments, I'd love to see your bakes. And Happy Baking!

Thursday 11 August 2016

Shake it up mitts

It's the summer holidays and things are crazy busy, but I have just managed to add my Shake It Up mitts pattern to my Ravelry store. And until August 18th 2016 it's available at the bargain price of £2, including VAT, where applicable.*

The original sample (above) was knitted in Aretsano yarns alpaca blend DK, a lovely cozy yarn that came in a beautiful selection of handpaiinted colourways. Unfortunately Artesano recently went into recievership, so I have knitted a second sample in Patons Extrafine Merino DK Colour (below), which has beautiful stitch definition.

This pattern will work in any DK weight yarn, and is especially good for hand dyed variegated colourways. My testers knitted some beautiful examples (below), I am espeically excited by Aleximmie's bright yellow mitts, aren't they cheerful!

Mitts in Madelinetosh DK Twist, knitted by Aleximmie. Image copyright Aleximmie.
Adina (RainFallGirl on Ravelry) knitted her test mitts in record quick time (I think she was done within 24 hours of my posting the test notice!). I really like the colours in her yarn choice (Skeino Splendid in Peacock; below).

Adina knitted her mitts in Skeino Splendid in Peacock. Image copyright RainFallGirl.
Hope you enjoy knitting your mitts. I would love to see what your finished projects, either here or on Ravelry - just link your project to the pattern page. Happy knitting!

*After this the price will increase to £3.60.