I started “celebrating” the Jubilee last year back in a freezing cold and wet December when I did a photo shoot for Talking Tables. I made a gazillion cupcakes for the shoot as they have so many gorgeous ranges and tons and tons of really cool cakestands – you know the one’s that are made of the ultra strong cardboard that slot together.
I had to set up a street party scene outside with mis-matched chairs and their fab goodies like the bunting, tablecloth, crowns, cake thrones, flags and these Jubilee cake pop tops complete with Buck house, guards, Queenie and Prince Philip and of course the corgis. I completely love them! Aren’t they cute?
It was at this point that I re-fell in love with Victoria Sponge cakes. I made this one from my Mary Berry Baking Bible and it’s fantastic as it not only tastes amazing but it’s bigger than most recipes. A door step wedge of cake is what I like!
Here I am with the photographer’s assistant Henry on another of the shots. I can’t tell you how challenging it is to shoot summer in the middle of winter! This range is really summery and it was dark and gloomy all day and pitch black by 4pm! Tomorrow I am starting a week long shoot with Talking Tables again, only this time we will be shooting Christmas ranges- so roaring fires on the hottest day of the year!
The main Street Party shot took a while to get set up. All of a sudden our lovely photographer Oliver Gordon got me to get everything in place really quickly as he said it was about to rain. ” No, it’ll be all right” I said. I always say this and guess what? 30 seconds after he took the final shot it tipped it down! We had to race to get everything inside really quickly. Rain drops on a dusted Victoria Sponge cake does not make for a nice shot!
Looking at the end result you would never know that it rained so soon afterwards. It looks like a lovely bright summers day doesn’t it. Let’s hope it’s this summery for the big day next week!
My favorite pieces of baking equipment have to be the ones that work hard for their money. Some are just plain essential like my cookie lifter (I use that all the time for baking, icing you name it!) so when I saw this ‘Eazistore’ baking set I knew it was going to be a winner!
I’ve been a fan of Stellar products ever since my lovely cousin Adam gave us a set of their stainless steel saucepans when we got married. I only stopped using them last year (that’s 13 years later!) because we now have a new induction hob that they won’t work on. I can’t bring myself to throw them out. They’re in perfect condition!
Anyway, I digress. This five piece set is brilliant because not only is it non-stick (so essential with my baking!) but it has everything that you need – whether you’re a new home owner or an established cook/baker, all in one neat package. It all fits into one large roaster tin so there’s no need to find a ton of storage space or if you’re me, make loads of noise digging out the piece you need whilst clattering around in your baking cupboard!
So what’s in it?
The top tier is a roasting rack and a cooling tray
Tier two is a baking tray
Tier three is a baking sheet – cookies at the ready!
Tier four is a really great and very deep muffin tin. So what I needed. 12 all in one go! Yay
The fith and final tier is the roaster tray which I have already made chocolate brownies in. (yep it was a big one!)
The set is good for up to 240°C, Gas mark 9, can be popped in the dishwasher and has a lifetime guarantee to “be free from defects in material and workmanship under normal household use. The non stick coatings are guaranteed for 5 years”
Yesterday I popped along to the Waitrose Spring/Summer 2012 press launch. The invite said “Come and see our new indoor and outdoor homewares and you’ll have a chance to taste all our new summer food” Who can resist an offer like that?
I can’t wait till the products are on sale (which will be just after Easter) to share them with you, so here’s a sneaky peek at what they had on show!
The new picnic ranges are really cute with fab little pots with lids (I love a lidded pot. Don’t get me started on Lock and Lock’s), pretty melamine cups and plates all in lovely ice cream shades, but it was the ceramic wares that I completely fell in love with!
I’ve accidentally started a bit of a collection of these ceramic style measuring spoons. They look so ‘Old School’. At home I put them in jugs and have them out on show. I know I’d break them otherwise. I’m way too heavy handed. These pink spot ones are really sweet.
Have I mentioned cake stands recently? Being an Interior Stylist I am allowed to have an obsession with cake stands. Tim thinks I’ve stopped buying them as I have nine! I don’t…. I have a LOT more, but don’t tell him! These new ones at Waitrose are really beautiful. I love the spot design throughout their bakeware range, it really works on these stands. The scalloped edge is a really nice touch. Yep, I’ll have to sneak one in without him noticing!
I’ve seen quite a few of these ripple edged pie dishes at launches recently. They’re a great design and are also a really good size usually they’re too small. I also love the mixing bowl. More mixing bowls should come with a handle and spout. Very pretty yet practical.
The whole range is called ‘Sweet Sundae’ and comes in both baby pink and blue and has within the collection bowls, flan dishes, cake tins, cutters, whisks, colander, jugs, tea towels, spatulas and loads more.
I can’t finish off this post without giving a quick mention to the deserts that are going to be available from late June – I didn’t try all of them (really!) but I will say that the retro puds – especially the Tapioca one are deeelish.
There is also a new Waitrose cook book that Amanda, the lovely Waitrose PR is going to send me so I can share one of their recipes with you. I’m really looking forward to that, so watch this space!
I was very fortunate a few weeks ago to receive an email asking if I would like to review some Cartmel puddings here on Cakes, Bakes and Cookies. They wanted me to be on their Pudding Panel. When you receive an email like that on a Friday afternoon (and you’re hungry!) it’s very hard to say no. I mean let’s face it who doesn’t like pudding.
The lovely PR told me all about the Cartmel brand, which started life in a small village shop back in 1988 (more to come on that in a future post). She told me she wanted to send some of their best known puddings for me to taste. Of course I jumped at the chance. That was when she told me about the sticky toffee pudding which they are best known for. Now, I don’t think I have mentioned on here before , but I don’t actually like toffee or fudge, or caramel! But I thought I would still try them out and get the kids and Tim involved. That way if it was a bit too ‘toffee’ for me I would still know how good they were.
The box arrived on Friday and it contained the Sticky toffee pudding, sticky toffee apple crumble and their sticky toffee sauce. Crumble is one of my all time favorite puddings, so I was really looking forward to giving this a go.
The Cartmel sticky toffee pudding
Saturday lunch time I popped both puddings onto a baking tray and watched them bubble in the oven. Let me tell you the house smelt divine!
The Sticky toffee pudding was the first to come out. It was bubbling away with all that gooey toffee sauce on the top.
I popped a slice in each bowl. The actual sponge pudding is really soft and sticky, you know the kind where the serving spoon get’s clogged up with all the toffee-ness, and the sauce just oozes over the top? I love it when you first put the serving spoon in and all that steam escapes.
I thought I’d give the serving spoon a quick taste. It was gooood! So I tucked into the bowl and I have to say I loved it. I was expecting to find the toffee taste too strong but it was delicious and I finished the whole serving!
Beau and Darcey also really liked it. Beau wouldn’t take the spoon out of her mouth for me to take her picture. She wasn’t going to stop eating for anyone!
The Cartmel Sticky Toffee Apple Crumble
Then it was time for the apple crumble to come out of the oven. Having liked the toffee pudding I was expecting great things from the crumble. I was not disappointed! The crumble has a lovely light oaty texture to it and the toffee on the apples adds to the flavour. When I make crumble I add cinnamon to the apples to give it an extra warming feeling, and the toffee has exactly the same effect. I seriously couldn’t leave it alone. Tim walked in to the kitchen to taste his Sticky Toffee pudding (he looooves toffee!) and when he saw the crumble I selfishly said “ I don’t need you to test this one” He tucked into his pud, not even waiting to sit down to eat it and then it was gone!
The crumble on the other hand was kept to one side, he he he! The girls had finished theirs and had run off to play, Tim was in weekend DIY mode, so I had the crumble all to myself.
It’s at this point that I should mention that I had made the girls their lunch and was about to make mine when the oven timer went off. After a bowl of sticky toffee pudding and then a bowl of sticky toffee apple crumble – with ice cream, I realized that I had completely forgotten to have any lunch! Oh well never mind.
The next morning I had breakfast really early (Darcey wakes up at 6am EVERY day, so even Sundays are an early start for me). I always give my oven a deep clean on a Sunday morning. It’s not a nice chore to do so I thought I would reward myself with a second breakfast. Yep, you’ve guessed it. At 8am I was reheating a lovely big portion of apple crumble. All I can say is thank goodness I was at the gym a few hours later!
As to the sauce, I’ve not played with that yet. The girls want to put it on ice cream with sprinkles but I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve. Watch this space!
My next Cartmel delivery is due in April. Who knows what it will contain. There has been mention of Lemon drizzle cake, Black Forrest pudding and Raspberry sponge. Whatever it is I am very, VERY excited. Cartmel really rocks the pudding world!
Cartmel handmade puddings are made with 100% natural ingredients which are sourced from local suppliers wherever possible. They are available in various sizes from 150g (why would you restrict yourself like that?) to 730 g packs (now that’s more like it)
I love JosephJoseph,and it’s not just because they have beautiful blue eyes! JosephJoseph are twins and I have met them a couple of times at press launches. They have such a passion for design that it’s infectious. Every one of their products is a “Why didn’t someone think of that before?” item. I’ve been a fan of their clever products for a good few years now – probably because I studied Product Design at Uni and think they are great!
This baking set is really cool. It was sent to me to test and I have to say I am impressed! It consists of an Adjustable rolling-pin, Elevate pastry brush, Elevate small spatula and a kitchen timer. The whole set is so usable whether for baking or cooking and I think it’s really great value at around £40 from Josephjoseph.com – considering what you get.
Adjustable rolling pin,
This rolling pin was brought out a few years ago and I thought it was brilliant then, but it had a JospehJoseph logo on the centre which was recessed and left its mark on whatever you were rolling out. Now if you’re making cookies then it doesn’t matter, but I wanted to use it for icing which needed to be perfectly flat so it was just frustrating. So I gave my green one to my mum. She loves it! The newer version is completely flat ( no indented logo) so I can now roll out sugarpaste, dough and marzipan to my heart’s content!
The main reason that this is such an amazing piece of baking kit is the way you can remove the discs at the ends to select the depth of thickness of what you are rolling out from 2mm, 6mm, 10mm. These sizes cover most of my needs! I also like having the measures on the pin so when you need to roll out icing to cover a cake or dough to fill a pie dish, you can see how much more you need to roll out.
You can pop the discs in the dishwasher but as with all wooden rolling pins you should just wipe them with a damp cloth. If you get it soaked the water gets in and can crack.
Elevate pastry brush,
I always use a silicone pastry brush when I am greasing a cake tin. They’re great for getting into every nook and cranny and are sooooo easy to clean. They also dry quicker than the old hairy bristle types.
This design has a really nifty handle which keeps the bristles lifted off the worktop surface when you put it down. It’s also larger than most brushes, which is great for glazing. It’s heat resistant up to 340°C, so you can even use it to baste a turkey. You can also pop it in the dishwasher.
Elevate small spatula
The spatula has the same type of handle as the pastry brush (as the name would suggest!) The spatula part is nice and soft so you can really scrape out all the cake mix from a bowl. I’m a big fan of silicone. It really is the easiest material to use and clean when baking.
It’s heat resistant to 340°C which means you can use it for cooking too. Once you’ve made scrambled or fried eggs with one of these you’ll never look back!
I never used to use kitchen timers that much, I just set the clock timer on the oven, but there have been a number of times when I have needed to set two timers to run at different times, say for different batches of cookies. Since receiving this kit I’ve used the timer non-stop. I don’t know how I lived without it before. I must say that I have also been giving my girls a “10 minute tidy timer” and as it’s pink (!!!!!) they actually love it!
So to sum up, I think each of the items in this set are great on their own, but as a set they are a brilliant bit of baking kit which I know I will be using for years to come!