The day I met Mary Berry & Lucy Young… and their latest book Reviewed: The Complete AGA cookbook

The aga cookbook Mary Berry Lucy Young

Every now and again I get invited to a press launch and I’m not quite sure whether I need to go with my Interior Stylist head on or my cake blogger one. Most of the time there’s a cross over and it doesn’t really matter. That was exactly the case with the launch of Mary Berry and Lucy Young’s latest book collaboration The Complete Aga Cookbook, Headline

When I arrived at the launch there weren’t many bloggers there, but there also weren’t many writers so I’m thinking that one of the lovely PR girls follows CakesBakesAndCookies.com and that’s how I came to be there. To be honest I didn’t really care why I was there. I was there and so were Mary Berry and Lucy Young.Mary Berry Aga cookbook

I was beyond excited all day – a bit like a kid in a candy shop. I was determined to say hello to both of them – as you do. The event was in a great location – The Good Housekeeping Institute. All white walls and a bank of kitchen appliances – as you would expect. There were recipes from the book being passed around and of course champagne or was it prosecco?

The room was packed full of Mary and Lucy’s friends and family, people from Headline publishers, Aga people from head office, Georgia Glynn Smith the photographer and so many more. It was going to be hard but I was on a mission. 

Meeting Mary Berry and Lucy Young

First I thought I would say hello to Lucy. I interviewed her a back in April 2013 for the blog. I waited till she wasn’t talking to anyone then said “Hello, I’m EmmaMT from CakesBakesAndCookies.com” and before I could even say “I interviewed you a few years ago’ she threw her arms up in the air and with a big smile said “Ah Emma it’s so good to meet you!” She remembered me! I couldn’t believe it. I have been following her on Facebook since the interview as she’s so lovely and always has great things to say and she had noticed my ramblings on there. I was so flattered to say the least.

Lucy got called away and I found myself standing directly behind Mary Berry. She turned around and smiled then asked “So what do you do?” Just at that very moment Tim called. I mean timing!!! I declined my husband’s call – after all this was going to be my only chance We spoke for a few minutes before she too was whisked away to do her presentation – not before I grabbed a quick selfie. Well wouldn’t you?  https://www.facebook.com/lucyyoungthecook/?fref=ts

Mary and Lucy did their thank you’s and talked about the book and it was then that I realised I’d been speaking to people all night long and hadn’t even looked at the book. I headed over to the table where they were piled up and a minute later Lucy and Mary were sitting in front of me signing copies. I got one of course – Eeek! Mary Berry & Lucy Young

 

 

The Complete Aga Cookbook review

Aga cookbook

So before you switch off and think ‘but I don’t have an Aga!’ Don’t worry all the recipes in this book are suitable for ‘conventional ovens’ with oven temperatures and details of where to cook each recipe too.

If you do have an Aga and are never sure which oven to use there’s a picture of every style of Aga and what each oven is used for. Each recipe tells you how and where to cook each dish – simple stuff.

What you’ll get

The thing with Mary and Lucy’s cook books is that they are so easy to use. The ingredients are always easily available and the recipes always come out exactly as they should. This book has a lot of old favourites in it but you never get tired of them. They’re your fail safes and even though I have a few of Mary’s books I don’t think there are many duplicated recipes (I mean who minds another Victoria Sponge cake recipe? I don’t!) There’s over 150 recipes in here and as I was sitting reading through – because you don’t flick through a book like this, I found myself re-thinking what I’m planning to make for New Year’s Eve dinner. It’s mouth wateringly good.

The contents is as follows

  • Breakfast and lunch
  • Starters
  • Main courses
  • Fish
  • Poultry and game
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Beef
  • Vegetable sides
  • Pasta and Rice
  • Afternoon tea
  • Hot puddings and cold desserts

Normally I would skip straight to the back of a cook book and look at the cakes but I found myself looking at the preserving hints and tips first as I’m getting really into making Jam at the moment. Then I saw the French Onion soup recipe. That is my all time favourite soup after an absolutely freezing walk around Ground Zero after I did the New York marathon twelve years ago. Nothing warms you up like a big bowl of French onion soup.

The aga cookbook Mary Berry Lucy YoungThere are loads of delicious looking tarts like the Lancashire cheese and rocket tart and the salmon en croute with asparagus which really looks delish. There are loads of worldly flavours throughout with recipes like pork noodle stir fry with it’s soy and rice wine vinegar flavouring and Nasi Goreng (as seen above) as well as traditionals like toad in the hole, beef lasagne and Coq au vin

The back pages

Oh yes, the best part of the book for bakers like us! Where to start? There’s tray bakes- chocolate fudge tray bake anyone? cupcakes, cherry cake, fruit cake with all the ingredients for all the sized cake tins, ‘wicked’ chocolate brownies, eclairs, bread, pear frangipane – I have to make this, double chocolate puddings (as seen below), bread and butter pudding, lime meringue roulade I could go on and on.

The aga cookbook Mary Berry Lucy YoungThe Verdict

I love this book. It has everything I need in a cookbook and doesn’t duplicate what I already have on my bookshelves. It’s the kind of book that you can’t put down. The photography and styling are beautiful, light and airy – just as they should be – I just wish I could get the same effect when I take pics for this blog. I think this book would make a great addition to anyone’s Christmas list.

The aga cookbook Mary Berry Lucy Young

 

You can get a copy of The Aga Cookbook by Mary Berry and Lucy Young on Amazon by clicking the affiliate link below 

 The Complete Aga Cookbook by Mary Berry and Lucy Young – available on Amazon

EmmaMT x

 

Disclaimer: Thank you to Headline publishing for giving me a copy of this book at the press launch and a big thank you to Mary and Lucy for signing it! All words and thoughts in this post are my own ramblings. 

Easy peasy White Chocolate cheesecake

Easy peasy White Chocolate cheesecakeWHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

Last Saturday I was out all day. I came home to an ill and bedridden Tim and Beau and a Darcey who was taking over the whole kitchen. If you’ve ever wondered how many bowls and utensils it takes to make a cheesecake when you’re nine years old I can tell you. ALL of them!

You have to give it to her though. She was bored and wanted to do something with her weekend. It wasn’t TV and it wasn’t games on the iPad so I was pretty happy, but I did get back in the nick of time. The recipes (yes plural recipes for one cake!) weren’t exactly what we had to hand. We didn’t have enough chocolate or cream cheese. We also had the wrong biscuits. Ever ingenious Darcey was going to make it work. She bashed up the snack biscuits we have for packed lunches – the individually wrapped chocolate covered bars. She didn’t turn them into fine breadcrumbs as you normally would with a cheesecake base. There were plenty of chocolatey lumps which meant the base of the cake tin wasn’t exactly covered. I switched off my perfectionism and let it go. It was after all Darcey’s cake.

cheesecake
As I got home she was just about to heat up the milk (which I had to reduce a little- like by half!) and add the chocolate. This is the kind of baking I do- make it up as you go along and take notes so you know what works and what doesn’t, but I don’t think she would ever know that. She just wanted to make a cake. By the time we had mashed the recipes together with what we had I suggested that we bake this ‘no bake’ cheesecake as it was a bit too runny and I doubt it would ever have set.

chocolate cheesecake
Once the cake was out of the oven and completely cooled Darcey covered it with chocolate which she had grated with our Cusipro grater that has this handy cover. When you turn the cover over it to the bottom it collects all the gratings. She grated milk and white chocolate and that was sprinkled over the whole cake. She didn’t stop there adding random dollops of chocolate sauce – the kind usually saved for ice-cream on top of the sprinkles. This unfortunately meant that Tim gave it the nick name of Darcey’s litter tray cheesecake. Luckily Darcey didn’t hear that and it didn’t stop him from tucking into a healthy slice of it.

The verdict?

Totally delicious! In fact it’s such a success I’ve asked Darcey to make it for our New Year’s Eve dinner. She’ll need to make it again anyway. She got really upset when it was all gone and everyone had eaten it up. I don’t thinks she quite gets that that is the desired outcome of any bake. It will come to her I’m sure. Until then I will continue to let my little one bake to her hearts content – no matter how many mash ups and books she need all at once. 

Darcey’s White Chocolate cheese cake

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Cake inspiration from Sweetapolita: Chocolate Torte Madeira Sprinkle Birthday Cake

 Chocolate Torte Madeira Sprinkle Birthday CakeSprinkle Birthday cake

Where do you get your cake inspiration from? I follow quite a lot of blogs but I only stay subscribed if they keep on delivering great inspiration month after month. If they don’t post for a few weeks I don’t really mind as when they do it’s always amazing new content and that’s how I feel about Sweetapolita. She has a very distinctive style and I always want to have a go at recreating her cakes. Her style was the inspiration for this cake. 

BeauBeau is TWELVE!!!! 

Where does the time go. I’ve been writing this blog for over four years and each year my daughter’s birthday cake posts seem to come round quicker and quicker. For the first time in ages I actually can believe Beau is twelve. She is so much more happy and mature than she was last year. She’s settled into senior school really well and has a lovely group of new friends who we met for the first time on Sunday. One of them even offered to help carry over the drinks for all the gang while we were at bowling! I mean literally said “Would you like me to help you carry the drinks over“!!! How happy am I that Beau has found such polite and friendly group of girls to hang out with? VERY.Sprinkle Birthday cake

So, when it came to her birthday cake she asked for something simple, chocolatey and pretty. Gone are the days of sculpting cakes into fancy designs. In fact I can’t actually remember the last time I was asked to do that. I knew exactly which of Sweetapolita’s cake designs I was going to make. Lots of soft chocolate ganache buttercream and lots and lots of pretty sprinkles! 

Now, I would say that this cake is quick and easy to make and I am sure it is, but not when you are desperate to finish season 4 of Prison Break on Netflix and can’t stop watching it and stay up till 3am to do so! Without Netflix it would have been sooo much quicker! 

Chocolate Torte Madeira Cake 

[yumprint-recipe id=’4′]Beau and her Sprinkle Birthday cake

Happy Birthday Beau Beau Bob. We love you so much. 

Emma (a.k.a. Mamma.xxx)

Why I’m Stuck on Friands : Blueberry Friand recipe

Why I’m stuck on FriandsFriand

I absolutely adore Friands. Have you ever made them? They look like a mini cupcake or a squashed muffin but what they actually are is a little taste of heaven. Now, I know what you’re thinking – really? A taste of heaven?!?!? but bear with me.

I have a minor (read MAJOR) addiction to Dr Pepper which is an almond flavoured fizzy pop drink and marzipan is one of my all time favourite cake ingredients – especially when my mum adds it to her Madeira cake, so it’s no surprise that a little thing like a Friand floats my boat.

Friands are a little French cake made with ground almonds, icing sugar and egg whites. This Friand recipe is much more moist than a cupcake and have a beautiful, delicate texture unlike a muffin. They are more of a delicacy in my eyes. But, and that’s a big but, they like to get stuck in the tray. And when I say stuck I mean welded on – can’t get it out even with a knife, spoon or thin spatula -kind of stuck. So, when I baked these last night there was only one thing for it. Tim and I stood in the kitchen – me complaining that even though I coated the tray with plenty of oil those babies weren’t coming out. Tim – with a mouthful of dug out Friand said “They taste great to me” whilst attempting to get his next one out! So lesson learned. Make these delicate bakes in cupcake cases!!!

Needless to say, they didn’t go to waste and the little hits of blueberries were delish! Even baked in a silicon mould didn’t help keep them unstuck!Blueberry Friand recipe

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EmmaMT x

How to make easy jam: Rhubarb Jam recipe

How to make easy jam: Rhubarb Jam recipe

Rhubarb jam recipe

Have you ever made jam?

I hadn’t until recently. I thought I needed a ton of equipment- a big pan (which has been tricky since getting an induction hob!) a thermometer, special spatulas etc. But, you just don’t need them. All you need is a regular deep saucepan, a wooden spoon to stir, a plate or two for testing and a clean jar to put it in with a sealable lid and a piece of waxed paper. That’s it. The process is super simple and the ingredients list isn’t very long at all.

You can print this recipe here

How to make easy jam

This recipe yields one large jar (¾ litre) or two regular jam jar sizes

  • 445g Rhubarb
  • Juice of one unwaxed lemon
  • 225g Jam sugar (with pectin)
  1. Place 2-3 saucers in the freezer for testing the jam on later.
  2. Sterilise the jam jars. You can buy sterilising tablets and soak or submerge the jars in a pan of water and bring to the boil for 10 minutes, but if you clean and use them when they are still hot straight from the dishwasher that’s sterilised enough too.
  3. Cut the rhubarb into small pieces and place in a deep saucepan
  4. Measure the sugar and add it to the pan along with the squeezed lemon juice making sure there are no pips
  5. Add water to the ingredients till it’s just covered and place on a low heat.
  6. Once the sugar has dissolved turn the heat up so the ingredients are boiling for five minutes and the rhubarb is soft and mushy.
  7. To test if the jam is done and will set once cooled remove the pan from the heat.  Use a tea spoon to place some jam on the back of one of the saucers from the freezer. Leave it for 30 seconds then push it with your finger. If it wrinkles up it’s ready. If it doesn’t keep boiling for another five minutes and try again on a fresh plate.
  8. Once it will set add the hot jam to warm jars and cover the ingredients inside the jar with a waxed disc of paper and close the lid. The wax paper is to protect and preserve the jam till it’s ready to eat. I don’t know why I bothered with the paper as I tucked into it that night! But if you are keeping it for longer or are planning to make some as gifts then seal it up well. This helps with keeping it sterilised.
  9. Once cooled store your jam in a dark place.

 

Tips when making jam

  • Always keep your equipment super clean.
  • Use the correct sugar. ‘Jam sugar’ has pectin in it which is a setting agent. Preserving sugar is something completely different.
  • If you’re not planning to eat the jam straight away it is doubly essential that the jam jars are sterile and the seal with wax paper and lid are air tight. Jams can last years if unopened.
  • Store unopened jam in a dark cupboard. Once open keep it in the fridge.
  • Keep your jam mould free for longer by not allowing sticky kids to stick knives inside the jar when it’s covered in butter (we all know they don’t mean to but goodness me!) We have a tea spoon rule for jam in our house and it lasts a lot longer now. I tell them it’s what the queen / Kate Middleton do!

How to make Rhubarb jam recipeenjoy!

EmmaMT x

How to make Challah bread: baking with mum

Challah bread baking with mumChallah recipe

Last week I went along to a challah baking day at the synagogue which was organised by my mum. I don’t tend to make bread all that often – being an impatient, quick bake a cake so I can eat it now, kind of girl. So this day was a real change for me.

There were fourteen bakers on the workshop and the ages literally spanned the generations from a two year old right up to granny ages ( I won’t divulge!)  We started out with all the ingredients measured into bowls for us and the lovely Israeli Dorit showed us what to do.

Bread dough feels so different from any other baking I do. It’s got a soft, squishiness to it. As a newbie I had no idea when to stop kneading and when to add flour, water or as was the case with one really sticky dough – oil! (yes we literally had the dough sticking to the table top then a dribble of oil and another knead and it was all together and smooth- no longer sticking anything not even our hands!)

After each stage we had to leave the dough to proove which meant tea and cakes with a good old natter while we waited. Once the Challah dough was ready Dorit showed us how to plait with three, four or more lengths. You literally just lift the right hand length then weave it under and over the other lengths. Then pic up the new right hand one and continue. The end result looked great once I had curled my plait into a circle.

Once out of the oven and smothered in honey the Challah was ready to be left to cool before eating – for once I waited! The bread was totally delicious.

You can print off this recipe here

Challah recipe

Starter:

  • 9g (2 ½ tsp) dried yeast
  • 25g (2 tbsp) sugar
  • 400ml (1 ½ cups) of warm water
  • 20g (2 tbsp) plain flour

Dough

  • 940g (6 cups) of plain flour
  • 135ml (⅓ cup) honey
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 medium egg whisked
  • 100g soft margarine

Decoration

  • 1 medium egg whisked
  • 2 tbsp honey (optional)
  • seasame seeds or poppy seeds

How to make Challah

This recipe is enough to make one whoppa of a challah or two good sized ones.

  1. In a small bowl mix the starter ingredients together with just a little of the water. Mix it into a paste before adding the rest of the water. It will become slightly frothy. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Place all the dough ingredients into a large bowl and mix with a spoon to combine then get your hands stuck in and knead it till it’s a ball of sticky-ish dough.
  3. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm room (the airing cupboard is perfect) and leave for an hour till the dough has doubled in size.
  4. BreadKnead the dough to knock the air out of it using a little olive oil if necessary. Set aside for another hour.
  5. Divide the dough into three equal balls, roll into long lengths then plait them together – tucking the ends underneath.
  6. Leave on the baking tray lined with baking paper for another 40 minutes so it rises even more.
  7. Heat your oven to 190ºC (Fan 170ºC). Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle seeds liberally over the top.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until the Challah sounds hollow when you tap it underneath.
  9. Brush honey over the top using a pastry brush as soon as the Challah comes out of the oven. Leave to cool.Challa recipe

Thanks mum for organising the Great Catford Challah bake. Everyone had a great time (and I hope we can do it again some time!)

EmmaMT x

 

p.s. A word of warning- Don’t bake bread on a Sunday evening, fall asleep in front of Downton Abbey and not hear the oven timer going off. The end result will not be good!

Burnt Challah

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