Friday, 29 July 2011

Cookie monster

This weekend is turning out to be a bit of a baking bonanza, and we're only on Friday night! It's my dear old nan's 80th birthday celebrations on Sunday, and I have been tasked with supplying the birthday cake. Of course, me being me, I'm not just going to go out and buy one of Tesco's Finest... so that's why I've spent tonight baking two big, square victoria sponges in preparation for icing and decorating tomorrow!

The whole family are getting together for nan's birthday knees up, so - good as my birthday cakes supposedly are (I've had some excellent feedback, which is always nice!), I don't think my relatives would be too impressed if I showed up with only that to offer, considering how many goodies I've been shipping off to the office lately!

So, this evening I traipsed around the supermarket collecting enough baking ingredients to feed a small army - which is quite apt, seeing as that's what my family is equivalent too!

First on the list were the Apricot and Almond Cookies. I'd never put fruit into cookies before I baked the apple and oat Hummingbird cookies last week and they were delish, so I was pretty confident these apricot ones would be a hit. And... let's just say, I only have my own opinion so far but - two cookies down already - I wasn't wrong!

Even the cookies dough for this one tastes better than I could have imagined.

...and it literally took me all of about ten minutes to knock up! One handy hint - the recipe calls for "roughly chopped dried apricots". Rather than having to drag out one of my gorgeous, but super-heavy, chopping boards, I simply used some kitchen scissors to snip the apricot right into the dough - easy, and less washing up!

My little pink Hummingbird bible recommends that this recipe gives 10-12 cookies. Either I'm being tight with my dough-per-cookie, or the Hummingbird is being more generous than Santa on Christmas Eve, but I got 15 healthy-sized cookies out of the recipe.

Only problem is, I've already munched and rounded this 15 down to a baker's dozen... and I'm not sure the remaining 13 are going to survive until Sunday! Well, 13 is unlucky for some...

Friday, 22 July 2011

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy

I think I'm a little bit in love with the loaf recipes in the Hummingbird book - the Lemon and Poppy Seed one included. Considering I'm a bit of a cupcake junkie, this is quite a revelation! Though, I must admit, it may be down to my laziness to spend my evenings in the kitchen icing each individual little cuppycake.

The loaves are all as easy as it comes - mix everything up, whack it in a loaf tin (very Jamie Oliver!), and bake for up to an hour. See, even the baking time allows you to go away and do something else. I'm always so wary when I put cupcakes or cookies in the oven as they take no time at all to bake and tan.

The Lemon and Poppy Seed loaf was no exception. Everything went in (including Ricotta cheese - who'd'a thunked it?), and came out an hour later smelling deeelish! The deliciously tart lemon syrup was dribbled over the top and, literally, that's it!

My office guinea pigs are omitting lots of mmms - I think this is a good thing!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

An apple a day

If there's one way I recommend of getting your five-a-day, it's with the help of the Hummingbird. I haven't ventured far into the fruity-bakes territory yet with the Hummingbird's latest book, but I think these cookies may be the start of something beautiful.

I've made these Apple and Oatmeal Cookies tonight purely because I don't have the ingredients in for anything else! But, for once, my disorganisation has paid off. These, my friend, are LUSH!

Apples, oats, and a helping of cinnamon (my favourite!), trust me... perfect cookie rolled into one! I haven't gone wrong (yet) with a Hummingbird cookie, so I definitely plan to try some more very soon.

I did have one or two concerns while making these little delights - the recipe calls for light brown sugar, but I only had light brown muscavado sugar. I've used muscavado in cookies before, so was quite certain it would be fine. And it is, but I'm not sure if this might be the reason that my "dough" for more of a "mix". Regardless, the mixy dough has baked up just fine.

Another substitution was the use of Pink Lady apples instead of the Granny Smiths that the recipe asks for. The all-important taste test has proven that those little Pink Ladies are just as good as old Granny Smith in this instance!

Fifteen loooooong minutes in the oven, and I finally got my cookies. Why is it that time goes more slowly when you're looking through the oven glass? ;)

One word of warning - be careful when dolloping your dough on to the baking sheets, as if they're too close you'll end up with a merged, giant cookie. Actually, you might like to try this... :)

I'm sure my work guinea pigs will appreciate all the slaving over a hot oven I did(n't) do tonight. Or, as per usual, they'll all dive in as soon as I've sent the "help yourself" email round the office! I think that's a sign that my baking is all right...

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Losing my marbles

The title of this blog isn't really apt, but it fits these particular cupcakes so allow me a little artistic licence, if you will.

The Marbled Cupcakes are a nice twist to both the vanilla and the chocolate cupcakes because they're both in there! What could be better!?

The method is simple, and the result looks like you've put a whole load of work into the cupcakes. Ssh, just let everyone think you have... I won't tell!

I finally got around to treating myself to a proper palette knife, which the Hummingbird recommends for icing... it's a revelation! I don't think I've ever iced a dozen cupcakes so fast!

Along with KC (the Kenwood Chef I inherited, for those of you who didn't see my earlier blogs), I think PK (Palette Knife, geddit?) may be my newest best friend! I haven't quite perfected the "Hummingbird swirl" and didn't spend too long messing around with these to try as I would have lost the marbled effect and ended up with just chocolate icing, but I'm quite sure I'll get the swirl on whichever cupcakes I do next.

A moment in thyme

Now then, I'm sure we all thought it when we first got our pink bibles. Lemon and thyme loaf... really?

Oh yes. Oh really. Oh yum!

I don't have too much to say about this one... quick and easy recipe, explained perfectly step by step by the good ol' Hummingbird, and it came out the oven looking a cracker, and only got better when I poured the glistening syrup over the top of the loaf.

I didn't add any thyme to the syrup as I'm not very good at cutting it finely (every chef has a weakness!) so I used the juice of two lemons, the sugar and a little drop of water, which worked perfectly. I also forgot to decorate with a sprig of lemon thyme, but who needs the added greenery?

Now all that's left to do is enjoy (another) slice and wait for feedback tomorrow from my work buddies/guinea pigs.