Look what just arrived for my Christmas tree shoot for tomorrow! Two bags of Peggy Porschen goodies. To say I was excited was an understatement.
Amongst all the boxes of Christmas trees, fairy lights and mountains of baubles sit these two pretty bags. I couldn’t resist having a quick peek at what was inside. They truly are the most beautifully iced biscuits. I just had to share them with you!
You can only buy the cookies in the Parlour, unfortunately they aren’t sold on line so you’ll have to make your own.
Luckily, Peggy does sell the cutters. How cute are these? They start at just £3.25 for the drop bauble cutter and go up to £14.95 for the giant snowflake cookie cutter. They’d make great gifts for the girls teachers for Christmas! If only they didn’t have to go back to the shop after the shoot.
Visit www.peggyporschen.com to see all the other gorgeous gifts ideas and cookie cutters they sell as well as the classes you can take. If anyone wants to tell Tim about the beautiful pink Milk Glass cake stand that I have my eye on for Channuka I would be very grateful!
Have you ever tried to measure really small amounts of liquid, sugar, almond essence or alcohol before? It can be tricky can’t it? Measuring jugs nearly always start at 50ml or 100ml. What if you need 30ml of brandy? Or you have tripled a recipe and need 6 teaspoons of vanilla essence? I know you can just measure it out individually, but wouldn’t it be easier to just pour and measure in one go? Well now you can.
Last night I was on a cake propping mission at Sainsburys for a photo shoot I am doing this week and I seemed to wander away from the flour and eggs and found myself in the kitchenware department. I had popped into the Savercentre in Sydenham which is their flagship store so this section is pretty large and there is a lot to whet your appetite. It took all my will power not to buy another sieve/spatula/cookie cutter!
No sooner did I see this shot glass than it was in my basket. It’s by Eddingtons. It has four measurements on the sides (as you can see in the photos) teaspoons, tablespoons, ounces and millilitres. It’s a steal at just £3! I bought one for my mum at the same time as we have often discussed this mini measuring dilemma. I used to use the girls baby bottles when they were little and no longer needed them as they had small measures on the side, but they’re long gone now.
This little glass made me very happy. What’s the saying” Simple things amuse simple people!” I rest my case!
With the half term school holidays coming up I thought now was a good a time as any to share with you my latest budget baking find! Wilkinson’s have a really great baking section with all sorts of spatulas, mixing bowls, icing bags with a choice of nozzles and this fab box of cookie cutters all at really low, low prices.
I’m a big believer in letting kids make a mess in the kitchen and especially when baking. My two certainly do that. Actually they make a mess everywhere in the house, every day but that’s another story! We decided that it was time to make their favorite Vanilla Cookies.
This box of 24 cutters doesn’t contain the usual shapes and designs you’d expect to find. It’s got a dog, bird, santa, butterfly, horse, fish, music note, rabbit and cat- to mention just a few! I thought I should explain what shapes they are as it’s hard to tell from the photo above once Darcey got her hands on the royal icing and sprinkles!
Once baked you can see how there are imprints on some of the cookies so that you can follow the lines for icing details on them. I have to admit that some of these cookie cutters have quite narrow parts, like dogs tails and legs, which are pretty tricky for little hands to cut out cookies without loosing a limb, especially once the dough had been rolled out a few times and was no longer cold. The up side to this is that that’s where mum’s get to step in and have a play too!
To say Beau and Darcey went a little OTT with the decoration is an understatement, but they loved making the cookies and liked eating them even more!
Now it’s your turn. I have an extra set of these cookie cutters to giveaway. All you have to do it leave a comment over on the Cakes, Bakes and Cookies Facebook page as to why you should be the winner of these cutters and icing set. The winner will be chosen on Friday 12th October 2012. Good luck bakers.
Last week I had a big shaped cake to make for a friend who I hadn’t seen in ages. She had seen my posts on Cakes, Bakes and Cookies facebook pages and wanted me to make her son’s 6th birthday cake (more on that next week). Everything went wrong! I needed to make three individual cakes for the design and I ran out of loads of ingredients when the first cake flopped. It flopped BIG TIME! The 6″ cake was more pancake than Madeira cake! And that was just the first small cake.
After discovering that my back-up cupboard was bare. How did that happen? I took a third trip to the supermarket and got the vanilla essence I needed for the buttercream. I haven’t had to buy vanilla essence for ages as my mum bought me a catering size one 500ml! which as you can imagine lasted a lifetime and I was also given one of these bottles of Nielsen- Massey Vanilla extract at a press launch. Now that stuff is expensive but the taste makes it well worth while, so I kept it for special cakes.
So, back to Sainsburys I went and grabbed one of their small bottles of vanilla essence. I only needed a drop or two as it was just to add flavour to the buttercream filling, but those drops make all the difference. I bought Madagascan Vanilla Extract from their Taste the difference range.
“Aromatic vanilla extract produced using essential oils extracted from Madagascan vanilla pods”
….. it says on the bottle. It also says it has to be stored in the fridge once it’s opened. ‘Best before June 2013’- I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. It will probably be gone before October 2012!
I wasn’t expecting it to be any different to any other budget essence. I was wrong. It is delicious. So delicious that I thought I had to share it with you guys. I don’t like buttercream that much. In truth I tend to scrape it off of cakes and just eat the sponge but I know I am in the minority there. But the buttercream I made with this extract was the best ever! I couldn’t leave it alone. I wish they sold the extract in larger bottles. 38ml isn’t going to last very long with the amount of cakes and bakes I do.
I now can’t wait to test it out on some other bakes. Who knows what it will do to a cake or a cookie! Only time will tell…. in about an hour when the cake that’s in my oven is ready to taste. Watch this space. I’ll let you know how I get on.
I love Tala. It’s so Retro it reminds me of my childhood and baking with my mum. When I think of Tala I think of their metal cone shaped measuring jug as I have one which I use to hold all my cake decorating tools. It’s way too pretty to be used just as a jug!
They have so many more products than I first realised. So, when I was asked if I would like to give a test run on their cupcake tin I obviously jumped at the chance. The tin is really sturdy. It’s professional grade and you can really tell by the weight. You know it will last and last. It washes up really well too which is a big winner for me! No nooks and crannies to get crumbs stuck in. I hate that!
Tala have kindly given me permission to share with you their Strawberry fairy cake recipe which I used for the last school cake sale. I used gluten-free flour in mine so my little friend (well actually Evie is Darcey’s school friend but she gave me such a lovely unexpected hug at Darcey’s birthday party that I think that makes her my friend too now!) could have something nice to eat too. I couldn’t tell the difference between gluten-free and not gluten-free. They were, as you would expect deeelish!
Strawberry Fairy cakes recipe
- 250g butter-at room temperature
- 250 Caster sugar
- 4 small eggs
- 310g Self Raising Flour
- 120g butter – at room temperature
- 250g icing sugar
- 6 drops of strawberry flavouring
- A little red colouring
- A little strawberry jam
Cream the butter and sugar together then beat in the eggs and flour.
Spoon into cup cake cases and place in the bun tins.
Bake for 15-20 minutes at 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. When they have cooled a little remove from the tins onto a cooling tray.
To decorate, make a strawberry butter icing by creaming together the butter, icing sugar, strawberry flavouring and colouring. I put jam into the icing too. I also made some just plain old buttercream ones as seen here (as I wasn’t sure about the gluten content in jam/food colouring etc)
When soft and well mixed, spoon into a piping bag. I used a smooth nozzle to get this effect but a star nozzle will work well too!
When the baking tin arrived I was really surprised to see the cake stand wrapped up too! I didn’t know that Tala did them. It’s so pretty that it came out for Darcey’s birthday party last week. It’s nice and sturdy so it will be making an appearance at Beau’s party in November too! Cute isn’t it?
Here they are boxed up and ready to go. I love the way cupcakes look in a box. All neat and tight and ready to be devoured!
These are seriously easy to make. Go on, give them a go!
I love a good pastry mat !
I found this pastry mat on a recent trip to IKEA. I wasn’t looking for baking stuff. I was actually buying a mattress, but you know how it is in IKEA, you go in for a box of glasses and come out £100 lighter!
I’ve been meaning to replace my pastry mats for a while now. I have this annoying habit of cutting sugarpaste on them with a scalpel and not surprisingly I slice right through the mat!
This double sided mat is made of silicon and is really easy to clean and use. It has handy weight and temperature conversion chart on one side. It also comes with a cute heart shaped spatula which has a really thin, flat end- great for picking up small cake decorations. The heart shape can be used to press into cookies or icing to make a pattern. You can also use the shapes and numbers on each side to create more decorations by icing over them, leaving them to dry and popping them onto cakes or cupcakes.
It’s a great buy!
Sockerkaka baking sheet set, £8.99, Ikea