Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas 2015

Dear lovely Baking readers.

I wish you and your families the heartiest of Christmases filled with love and food and drink and happiness.

Lots and lots of baking love

EmmaMT

xxx

 

p.s. The recipe for this Mince pie from 2013 can be found by clicking on the image above. 

Christmas Jam recipe: The perfect gift

Christmas Jam recipeChristmas jam recipe

I love to make Christmas gifts, especially for the girls teachers. We put into the group collections but it’s always nice to add a personal something. I’m sure the teaches get inundated with home made stuff so this year I thought we’d go for something a bit different from our usual gingerbread biscuits. We made Christmas Jam. Christmas jam

The jam is really easy to make and you can substitute any fruit you don’t like for something you do. We love apricots and dates but not everyone does. As long as you keep the weight of the fruit the same you’ll get a great result.

My first attempt at jam making was back at the end of the summer with my rhubarb jam. It was so delicious and simple to make that I couldn’t wait to make some more – any excuse eh! This time I thought I’d do it the official way and with the help of Lakeland and their jam thermometer, seriously cute jam jars and some waxed circles I was ready to go.

jam making equipment Tim bought some mini jam jars for his grape jam in the summer so I only needed a few more jars to top up the numbers. I love these ‘Ball’ ones. Such a cute size and shape. The discs come in bags of 200 – so they should keep me going for a while! and the thermometer is fantastic! Not only does it have a temperature gauge in Celsius and farenheight but it also has markings for the correct temperature for other baking – jam making, sterilising temperature, frying fish or chips it even has hard crack, soft crack and firm ball temperatures marked- and before you think I’ve become a crack addict that refers to sweet making. I think fudge and caramel may be next on the list. I also like that it has a clip on the back so you can secure the thermometer onto your pan to stop it getting in the way when you’re stirring.

Christmas Jam recipe:

Christmas Jam recipe:

This recipe will make 10 mini jam jars of 135ml or 3 regular jam jars of 450ml

  • 800g mixed fruit
  • 150ml Brandy/Whisky
  • 100g dried dates
  • 100g glace cherries
  • 100g dried apricots
  • Juice and skin of 3 small oranges
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 570g Jam sugar (which contains pectin) ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 200ml orange juice
  1. Place all the dried fruit into an air tight container and cover with the alcohol. Give it a good shake so all the fruit is coated. Leave for 48 hours to infuse or longer if you have the time.
  2. Place all the fruit in a deep pan over a medium heat and cover with sugar. Add the juice from the oranges and lemon and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Cut the skins from the oranges into small slithers and chop up a bit more then add them to the pot. Place a jam thermometer in the pan to allow it to heat up with the jam. Leave it in the pan the whole time.
  4. Continue to cook for 20-30 minutes so the fruit really softens up and infuses in all the spices and juices. Stir occasionally to prevent the jam sticking to the bottom.
  5. If using a thermometer bring the jam up to 105ºC /220ºF. Once this temperature is reached the jam will set. If not using a thermometer you can test if the jam is done by placing some jam on the back of a chilled saucers you have placed in 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.
  6. To sterilise the jam jars place them in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and keep at that temperature for 10 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs.
  7. While still warm spoon the jam into the jars till it reaches the top. Place a disc of waxed paper over the top and seal with the lid. Leave to cool completely.
  8. Where to store your jam: If you press the centre of the lid down and it moves store in the fridge and eat within 1-2 months. If the top of the jam jar doesn’t move when pressed you have a good air tight seal and you can store your jam in a dark place for up to 12 months.
http://cakesbakesandcookies.com/2015/12/20/christmas-jam-recipe-the-perfect-little-gift/

So what are you making and baking for Christmas gifts this year. I’d love to know?

EmmaMT x

Disclaimer: Thank you to Lakeland for providing me with the jam jars, waxed circles and jam thermometer for this post. All thoughts, opinions and ramblings are entirely my own.

nom nom Christmas jam

 

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

[yumprint-recipe id=’2′]

EmmaMT x

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