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Preview: Fairy Cake Heaven

Fairy Cake Heaven

It's all about the cake baby!!!!!

Updated: 2017-04-24T11:43:25.727+01:00


A shining star of wonderful gorgeousness


I would like to publically apologise to the shining star of wonderful gorgeousness English Mum for not having her on my blogroll. I am a shoddy fellow Irish blogger and I sincerely apologise for my oversight and extreme shoddiness!! This mistake has now been rectified!!!

I also apologise to my readers for not updating my blog aswell, I am a bad blogger and have no excuse apart from laziness! I've been baking but not updating! The last scones were gorgeous though!!! I will be back soon....................................and remember I love you all!!!

Pesto, herb n cheese scones


Now I don't often "post savoury" here but these are so good I had to share! I got an urge this morning to make scones but having a teeny bit of a cold I was too lazy and had to make do with some nasty white bread toast (that was sssssoooo good) and coffee! So after the caffeine kicked in and I'd read the March issues of Delicious and Taste Italia magazines I decided some savoury scones might in be order for lunch.

I've never made a savoury scone before, I've had them in Avoca but never actually thought about going and producing my own but now that I have the possibilities seem endless and I'm already thinking these would be nice with some olives in them, or leave out the pesto and herbs and do sundried tomato and cheese scones......................................yum!

So here's a basic soda bread recipe that can be turned into a loaf or made into scones, it can be flavoured or not and sweetened or not depending on your tastes.

(image) (image)
For the basic recipe you'll need:

450g plain white flour
1 tsp bread soda/bicarbonate of soda
400ml buttermilk
1 tsp salt

To this you can add:

1 tbsp basil pesto (you could use any pesto you want here)
1 tbsp thyme leaves finely chopped
salt and pepper (only use salt if you've not used it already above)

Preheat the oven to Gas 8/230.

Sift the flour, salt if using and bread soda into a large bowl.
Add the finely chopped thyme to the flour.
Mix the pesto into the buttermilk and add to the flour mixture.
Mix well with your hands until you have a loose sticky dough.
With floured hands turn the dough out and pat into a round. Cut into wedges or into circles with a cutter.
Bake for 10-15 mins, the bottom will sound hollow when they're done.

I really think now the possibilities are endless for this recipe, any flavours could be added to the dough adding dry ingredients to dry and wet to wet if that makes sense.


Sunshine Citrus Muffins


In an effort to inject some sunshine into a dull Saturday morning I decided to make these from one of my favourite cookery books - Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I got this book in America and it's so beautifully photographed and the recipes are fantastic taking you from the basics of dough making right through to beautiful cakes, muffins and scones. The measurements are in cups you'll need a set of these if you intend to get this book and I would definitely recommend it.Himself was still asleep when I made these and the gorgeous smell of orange and lemon wafted up the stairs and manged to wake him so he had to come downstairs, naturally to make sure everything was alright and not for a warm muffin fresh from the oven..................These smell fantastic and made the house all summery and citrusy smelling, they are also great with cheese as I discovered last night after a few wines too many!!!So you'll need:115g sugargrated zest of 1 orange300g plain flour2 1/2 tsp baking powder1/4 tsp baking sodapinch of salt (I didn't use this as I use salted butter in my baking, scandalous as that may be!)250ml freshly squeezed orange juice2 tbsp fresh lemon juice1/4 tsp lemon extract (I probably used closer to 1/2 tsp as I wasn't being overly careful pouring)4 oz butter, melted and cooled2 large eggsOptional: 150g moist raisins/sultanas (I didn't use these)So, preheat your oven to Gas 5/190c. Spray your muffin tin with spray oil or butter the molds.Rub the sugar and orange zest together (this is fantastic and makes the sugar smell A.MAZ. ING) in a large bowl. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt if using.In another bowl or jug whisk the orange and lemon juice, butter, lemon extract, and eggs together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix.Fold in the raisins/sultanas if you're using them.Spoon the mixture into the 12 muffin shapes and bake for 20 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.Serve on it's own with a giant latte or with some cheese!!!Also on a totally non-recipe related note, at the moment TK Maxx have fantastic cast iron pans and skillets for next to nothing from a range called Old Mountin so anyone who is in the market for one this might be a good time to take a look! I also got a gorgeous book called The Dairy by Leanne Kitchen (cheesetastic name or what) for €7.99 and a complete bargain as the recipes are wonderful and all surround anything dairy related and the photos are so well shot. There's a series of 4 books with 3 more after The Dairy called the Butcher, The Baker and The Greengrocer and they're already on my amazon wishlist!!![...]

Bread glorious bread............


just dripping with butter................How do you like my "rendition" of the bread version of Food glorious food? I have to confess I'm a bread fiend! Any type even the nasty white sliced bread from the supermarket, as long as it's fresh or warm or toasted with butter or like this mornings breakfast dripping with lemon curd!I've made this bread a lot of times and it's the same recipe I use to make my pizza dough. It's from Jamie Oliver's first book The Naked Chef and it's such a versatile recipe with lots of possibilities for flavouring the bread if you want to. Me, I just like it fresh from the oven and don't even need to put anything on it!In saying that though have been consciously trying not to eat bread for about the last 6 months going from eating a full loaf of my favourite sliced bread Big Toast Brown every week to maybe eating only a couple of slices of the husbags beloved white sliced type and sometimes none at all! This was something I had wanted to make all week, once I got passed my lemon/citrus and pear cravings on Tuesday and Wednesday, curd and pear crumble followed these.So after all my rambling here's what to need;1lb of plain white flour, I use Tesco Organic plain flour or you could use 500g plain flour an 500g semolina flour3x 7g sachets of dried yeast1oz honey/sugar1 pint tepid water1oz saltBlend the yeast with the honey/sugar and half of the water together.Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the yeast mixture.Make a claw shape with your hand and bring the dry ingredients into the flour until all the yeast mixture is incorporated.Pour in the rest of the water and mix together, don't be afraid to add more a little at a time if it's kinda dry as different flours can vary I think and use more or less water.Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 mins until the dough has come together and is springy and smooth.Oil a large bowl (or use the one you've made the dough in washed out with warm water and the warmth will help the rising begin, tip courtesy of the domestic goddess Nigella) and put the dough in, scoring the top as this will help with the rise aswell.Cover tightly with clingfilm and leave to double in size, this will take approx an hour. I normally turn my oven on to heat at this stage as it warms underneath the bowl and again helps the gluten to develop and the dough to rise.Once the dough has doubled in size, knock it back for about a minute or so. Shape into whatever shape you want and allow to rise so it is doubled in size again.My loaf was made by shaping the dough into 5 equal sized balls and then putting them into a 10 inch springform tin, 1 in the middle and 4 around the sides so it's shaped like a flower.Once risen, bake the bread at gas 7/225C for 20-25 mins or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom (you'll need to take it out of the tin for this).Allow to cool and enjoy.We had this with an amazing chickpea soup below that's a meal in itself from the Jamie's Italy book that I'll blog about again, I've made it for my lunches this week and should get 2 days out of it. It's flavoured with rosemary and so fragrant and the best of all weight watcher friendly![...]

Apricot compote with cardamom


So my first post of 2009 is a very simple one, a lovely compote that can be used to top anything you wish, porridge (as I've done here), ice cream, yogurt, made into a fool or eaten on it's own.

We've been thinking about trying to be more frugal about things this year, it being recessionary times and all and I also need something more exciting to put on top of my porridge in the mornings at work. I eat porridge every day, 1 because it's cheap and a bag of organic oats lasts me ages and 2 cos I don't get hungry til lunchtime which is a bonus when people are nipping out to the cafe around the corner and bringing back lovely toast and bagels and coffee.

I got the Ballymaloe Cookery Course book from my favouritest cousin C a few months ago and while flicking through it at bedtime (and only having made 2 things from it so far) the other night I saw the recipe for this apricot and cardamom compote and thought it might be nice. In advance the apricots I got were semi-dried and lovely and moist, if you get fully dried ones you'll need to soak them in plenty of water overnight before you make this.

So here's what you need:

500g dried apricots (the original recipe calls for 225g but this looked like a tiny amount in the syrup so I threw in a second bag of apricots)
16 cardamom pods (again I couldn't resist tinkering with the original recipe which called for 12)
2 pints water
200g sugar (the original recipe says 200-400g but I didn't want my compote to be too sweet so used less)
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Put the water, sugar, cardamom and lemon juice into a pot and bring to the boil. Add the apricots and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Allow to cool and serve with whatever you want or else do what I did and put the apricots into jars and refrigerate. Enjoy!!

Oh and p.s I got a 50mm lens for my camera and a tripod for christmas and they're the business!! Not blowing my own horn or anything but am loving the first picture, it was a long exposure from above and it came out fantastically as my hands always shook before and I rarely could shoot any pics if the light wasn't perfect!! One of the best presents I got this year methinks!!!



I haven't been tagged in ages so heres one from Lorraine, cheers girl

Six things you don't know about me.

1. My favourite drink of all time is a Harvey Wallbanger. This is what I'll drink at home before a night out or what I'll drink on a night out.

2. I met my husband in primary school, we didn't get together until 8 years ago though!

3. I'm addicted to tea and coffee. When I gave them up before I was so grumpy and mean my friends asked me to start drinking it again so I was "me".

4. My favourite color is green.

5. I start singing christmas songs in my head in July...........every year!

6. I love jelly sweets, any type as long as they're not fizzy ones!!!

and just to add a 7th about the pictures above and below.........

7. This is Co. Clare, where my heart and soul lie. If we could sell our house and I could convince the husbag I'd be there in the morning!!!

The people I am going to tag are:

1. Marian

2. Lynnie

3. Jen

4. Kate


5. Sarah

Give it a go people, it's always good to share on the internet with it's lack of stalkers and all ;-)


Oh cardamom how do I love thee..............


let me count the ways. It's much much more than a thousand ways I can assure you!! You may or may not know my love of all things cardamom spiced and todays recipe from Rachel Allen's book Bake is no exception!!! As I type my hands smell of cardamom and yeast and I am feeling satisfied and home-makery as I'm making bread. I always feel like this when I work with a real baker and I love watching my dough double in size and feel very proud indeed when it comes out of the oven all golden and beautiful.I must admit of late that I've been feeling rather underconfident about my baking, I went back to weight watchers a while ago and I think I must have subconsciously decided that baking is bad and that it's too much trouble to point everything. I've lost a good bit of weight, mostly for holidays, but I intend loosing more but am not being as rigid and strict with myself since we can back and am enjoying my food more as a result. So when my bread came out so well I think I got a little of my baking mojo back, the smell and the texture were divine, it's breakfast bread at it's best!!So anyway, this bread smells amazing, there's yeast as mentioned, freshly ground cardamom which smells amazing to me, I added some orange zest and am sure thart some freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon could be added this to dough too to make it more festive and christmassy, it's very easy to work with and comes together very quickly. I've never made a plaited loaf before either so this is an achievement for me and I one I will definitely return to again! This is the perfect breakfast bread, reminiscent of brioche with it's lovely eggyness and texture but much less work!Here's what you need, courtesy of Bake;125 ml/4 fl oz water75g/3 oz butter50g/2 oz plus 1 tsp of caster sugar175ml/6 fl oz warm water1 1/2 tsp dried yeast/15g or 1/2 oz fresh yeast or 1 7g sachet of fast acting yeast1 egg1/2 tsp salt1 tbsp freshly ground cardamom, I used about 40 pods as mine were kinda small but the recipe advises 28 podsgrated zest of 1 unwaxed orange600g/1 lb 6oz plain flour, siftedPlace 125ml water and the butter in a saucepan, bring to boil and then set aside in a bowl and allow to cool.Mix together the teaspoon caster sugar, 60ml of the warm water and yeast together and let stand for 5 mins until frothy.In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, the 50g caster sugar and salt together then add the remaining 115ml warm water. Mix together until combined.When the butter and water mixture is warm add the yeast mixture and the egg mixture and stir until well blended.Transfer the flour to a large bowl and make a well in the centre, pour in the yeast, egg and water mixture and mix*.*I used Rachel's technique of making a claw shape out of your hand and mixing the ingredients to a dough, it worked very well and was less messy than I find dough sometimes is. Just keep your hand stiff and go in circles in the bowl, I'm hoping this makes sense!Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 1o mins adding more flour if needed, I add 3 generous sprinklings of flour to my dough, it was smooth and pliable and felt loose after these and the 10 mins kneading.Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and allow to double in size, this could take up to 2 hours.Preheat the oven to 180/Gas 4.Knock back the dough and shape into a normal rounded loaf plait by dividing the dough into 3 and rolling each piece into a long sausage shape approx. 1 1/4 inches wide and 12 inches long. Pinch the ends together and tuck under neatly and plait the normal way. Tuck the ends in and place on an oiled baking sheet to allow double in size again.Bake for 30-35 mins until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the underside.Serve with lashing of butter and a cup o tea!!!Oh and p.s I'd like to mention a wonderful forum set up by John Maguire where us foodies can go to ask questions, there[...]

Pumpkin Muffins and my first Dorie Greenspan recipe


I woke up this morning and was desperate to bake something, anything as long as it smelled good and was warm and fresh from the oven. So sitting in bed I was looking at all my cookery books stacked up and the 2 books that I had bought in Orlando caught my eye, Baking:From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan and Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich. I've wanted these books for ages and thanks to the wonder of everything being such good value in America and the giant Barnes & Noble in Orlando I was able to get both books for way less than I could have gotten them here or even on Amazon! I also got canned pumpkin puree in amazing Walmart and was itching to use it so pumpkin muffins it was.I don't think pumpkin is used enough over here, there are so many gorgeous recipes outside soup which seems to me to be all Irish people make with pumpkin and I think there is nothing so nice as a silky smooth pumpkin pie delicately spiced and creamy. I'm hoping to make a pumpkin pie in the next 2 weeks so if and when I do I'll be putting it up here for you salivate over!!!These were a dream to make and I've used my cups as the original recipe says but weighed everything aswell to make it easier if you don't have measuring cups, these are the measurements I've come up with and I'm not saying they're right but they worked perfectly for me. The muffins are wonderfully spiced with cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg and ginger which adds a bare hint of heat on the tongue. The only changes I made were to add mixed spice instead of all spice and I didn't add any nuts or pumpkin seeds either cos the husbag wouldn't be into that.So here you are courtesy of Baking from my Home to Yours:260g/2 cups all purpose flour, I used plain organic flour from Tesco2 tsp baking powder1/2 tsp baking soda1/4 tsp salt3/4 tsp cinnamon1/2 tsp ground ginger1/4 tsp fresh nutmegpinch of mixed spice/all spice100g/8tbsp/1 stick butter100g/1/2 cup sugar, I used golden caster sugar75g/1/4 cup ligh brown sugar (packed)2 large eggs1/2 tsp vanilla extract180ml/3/4 cup pumpkin puree60ml/1/4 cup buttermilk90g/1/2 cup raisins or sultanasPreheat oven to Gas 6/approx. 200C.Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together.In a mixer at medium speed or by hand mix the butter until softened and light, add the sugar and mix well until completely combined. Add the eggs one by one and mix each one in completely before adding the next one.Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mix or fold it in gently if doing by hand, when fully incorporated add the raisins.Divide the batter between a 12 bun tray, you should have enough for 15 buns if you fill each one about 3/4 of the way up.Bake for approx 25 mins until a skewer comes out clean.[...]

Nana Brid's Mincemeat


So for my second post of the day I present to you my grandmothers mincemeat recipe. Now I may not eat Christmas cake or pudding but I love mince pies, hot, cold, on their own or smothered in brandy butter or cream. Divine. Last year I made mincemeat that was lovely but I can't remember what recipe I used. I don't really need a recipe to make this and it's easy to take ideas for flavourings etc from books etc but they all seem to contain apples and dried fruit.

So here's what you'll need, Igot 3 standard size jam jars out of the recipe and a 1 litre Le Parfait preserving jar which is a lot, you could easily halve the recipe either if you didn't want so much and it'll make a lovely edible gift too. The measurements are a bit all over the place with pounds and ounces but work with me................

2 lbs cooking apples
1 lb raisins
1/2 lb sultanas/currants
4oz butter
1/2 lb brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mace (I couldn't find ground mace anywhere so ground my own)
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
3 dessertspoons golden syrup, you could use honey here either I'm sure
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 pint cider, I used an organic cider from our local shop but you could use any brand you like
1 tbsp sherry/brandy or whiskey

Peel and core the apples and chop into cubes. Add apples and all other ingredients to a large pot and mix well.. Bring to the boil and simmer for 40 mins. Allow to cool slightly and put into jars.

I sterilise my jars in the dishwasher taking them out when they're hot, you could also do this in the oven I'm sure but the dishwasher is nearliest the easiest option.

I'll be making mince pies closer to Christmas and brandy butter to go with them!!!


Christmas is a comin'


and with 53 days to go (WOOHOO) it's time to be making puddings and cakes and mincemeat so they have time to mature and the flavours to develop!This is my first post of the weekend, I can almost hear the shock as I've been so neglectful of my blog for the last few months, I even missed my 1 year blogiversary!!! But now I am back on the blogging wagon and rearing to go.Christmas pudding is one the things I remember from growing up that meant Christmas was coming, the dark evenings and my mother mixing everything in her mixing bowl and the can or bottle of Guinness which reminds me so much of my paternal grandfather who used to drink it. This year we're not bothering with cake just pudding as I don't eat either and the husbag loves pudding, so much in fact he'd eat all 3 that this recipe makes!!!!My recipe is inspired by the Avoca recipe but I've made some changes with the spices and the fruit using dried cranberries instead of currants cos I don't like them and also some dates and figs in place of half the raisins. I've added 1/2 tsp ground ginger aswell as mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg. And basically stuck to everything else.So here goes, Christmas pudding inspired by AvocaThe recipe should make 3 2 pint puddings plus a little bit over which filled 2 3'inch individual pudding moulds.450g sultanas450g dried cranberries110g dates, chopped110g figs, chopped230g raisins110g glace cherries, I used yellow ones from my local fruit shop but you can use any colour110g mixed peel (revolting suff I know but who am I to mess with tradition?)225g chopped almonds450g brown sugar, I used a mix of demerera and muscovado275g breadcrumbs, I used brown bread275g self-raising flour350g butter, melted6 medium eggs, beatenzest and juice of 2 oranges1 small can of Guinness, 330ml2 tsp mixed spice1/2 tsp cinnamon1 tsp nutmeg1/2 tsp gingerAdd the fruit to the bowl, mix well and then add the sugarm breadcrumbs, lour, spices and almonds. Mix well and make a well in the centre. Add the melted butter, eggs, orange juice and zest and the Guinness. Mix well so there are no dry ingredients in the bottom of the bowl. If the mixture is a little dry add a couple of tablespoons of milk or more orange juice. Spoon into the pudding bowls and cover with the lid. Steam for 4-5 hours. When cold you can drizzle whickey or brandy over the pudding. On christmas day, steam the pudding for another hour and serve with brandy/rum butter or cream.YUM!!!I didn't think I'd have pics of this until Christmas but himself was making the "are you not letting me have pudding til christmas??" face and the puppydog eves I couldn't refuse and managed to snap a quick shot before the pudding was snatched away from me, being a non pudding eater it's very nice aswell, there's a slight bite from the almonds and it's lovely a moist.[...]

Another missing DB Challenge


I've been in Florida for the last 2 weeks so no challenge for me again unfortunately, I'll share some pics of Daytona Beach and Disney though, just to keep you going until I get back on the blogging wagon!!!

Christmas puddings and mincemeat planned for this weekend though! YUM!




you might have noticed that there was no wonderful blackberry tart!!!! Much to my disappointment!!During the week I had changed my mind and made a blackberry cake topped with meringue that I had seen on the cover of a magazine a few months ago, I was taking it out of the tin and IT FELL!!!! There was much screaming and gnashing of teeth but there was no salvaging it as it was smuched all over the top of my gas hob!! Thankfully I had a punnet of blackberries left so Monday night was the night, I was all set to go only to find my blackberries were gone mouldy!!! More disappointment and gnashing of teeth ensued (plus cursing m&s but I have since forgiven them as they had beautiful black Bursa figs in stock and we have them baked on top of porridge this morning) and I decided to make my big come back this week instead with a book review and some baked goods out of the book.Rachel Allen's new book was out last week (it's not out until 6th October in the UK) and I have to say I think it's her best book yet! Now Rachel (lovely name ;-)) irritates me sometimes with her slight over-exuberance but I still watch her as she's one of the better Irish tv chefs currently I think, but this is her best book yet! Entitled Bake everything in the book is baked from the most simple recipe of baked figs to puff pastry and a wonderful gingerbread house which I am so making at Christmas (I'm singing carols already in my head).This book is a lot better presented than Rachel's previous offerings in my opinion, the paper is lovely, matt and heavy, the photography is in a different vein too still being homely but more enticing focusing more on the food than the backgrounds, with the usual gratuitous Rachel shots sprinkled throughout. I've been reading through the recipes for the last few nights at bedtime and decided I had to make the Iced Orange Cake, one of 2 orange cakes in the book as I had some gorgeous organic, unwaxed oranges that I got last week and was dying to use as they smelled so wonderful and exotic.So here's what you'll need for the cake100g butter2 eggsFinely grated zest of 1 orange (I used 1 and a half as I wanted a super orangey cake)100g caster sugar100 icing sugar (I used 75g as I didn't want my cake to be too sweet)125g plain flour1 tsp baking powderPreheat the oven to 180/Gas4.Butter a 20cm springform/loose bottomed tin and line the bottom with parchment.Melt the butter over a low heat and when melted set aside.Mix the eggs, orange zest, caster and iricing sugar together until thick and fluffy.Add the melted butter and mix.Then sift in the flour and baking powder and fold together gently.Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth the top.Bake for 30-35 mins until a skewer comes out clean.I glazed my cake with a honey orange glaze using 100g icing sugar mixed with 1/2 tbsp boiling water, 1/2 tbsp orange juice and 1 tbsp honey but to be honest it was gorgeous just on it's own and would be a lovely cake to have with a cup of tea in the afternoon. My cake sunk a little in the middle but it was my own fault as I just can't leave the oven closed coming up to the end of cooking time!! Twas divine though so serve with a dollop of yogurt or cream and enjoy![...]

Tiny update


I got my blackberries today AND finally got my hands on Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan!!! Very exciting!



I'm back!!!!

My laptop is fixed, my time is my own and I'm at home watching the NFL and planning on making a seasonal tart next weekend! Smeara Dubha (or blackberries) may be included for those who don't speak Irish, thank god for Marks and Spencer and their supply of seasonal fruits!!! They had greengages a couple of weeks ago that I am interested in aswell, maybe they'll still be there come payday on Thursday but I think the season is kinda over for them, I might have to make do with some amazing figs too.

I will be posting for sure this coming weekend, I hope I haven't lost all my readers even though I know a friend my mums and my cousin have been checking in regularly (Hi Caitriona and Caroline) so even if it's just 2 people I'm happy.

See you all soon


p.s this time 3 weeks I'll be on holidays in Orlando WOOHOO!!!!


No Daring Bakers Challenge from me again


cos my laptop is broken!!! It died on Wednesday night and it currently being shipped to the makers to see what's wrong with it. All my photos and music and everything else I keep on it is gone!!! am devastated and using our 50 million year old pc to write this, it's taken about 10 mins to load the page!!!! Boo hoo hoo

On another note, the weather is nice her again so if anyone's looking for me I'll be outside. Will post my challenge if I get any of my pictures back!!!

I know I haven't been around much lately


and I apologise for my shoddiness, things should settle down a bit now. Am holding an asian inspired dinner party next weekend so am hoping for loads of pics, how does red prawn curry, butter chicken with rice and naan breads sound?

During my hiatus I've gotten Gorgeous Cakes by Annie Bell, Simple Essentials Chocolate by Donna Hay AND and ice-cream maker!!! Sorbets all round next weekend methinks!!!!!

Sugar High Friday #45 - Berries


and a first for me, food processor shortcrust pastry!I've been thinking about Sugar High Friday all month and had decided to make a blackberry cake topped with meringue but at the last minute we went to the organic farmers market this morning and got organic gooseberries that were freshly picked and also some organic redcurrants too. So I changed my mind about what I was going to make and decided on a gooseberry tart.In the vein of recent reminiscent posts on Helens blog I have been thinking about my grandparents a lot and particularly my maternal grandfather Michael, he was a tall and wonderful man from a small island off the southern coast of Ireland called Cape Clear (or Oileán Chléire in Irish), he became a teacher and moved to Co. Clare, where my heart lies and this is where he met my grandmother Bríd and they married, moved to Dublin and had 4 children; my mother, my aunt who is also my surrogate mother, my uncle who lives in Australia and my second uncle who lives in the south of Ireland and is a bear of a man vey like my grandfather in height and looks who I am extremely fond of.My memories of my grandfather, who died when I was quite young, are still very strong, I remember the day he died and how hard it rained, I remember him handing us biscuits that christmas from an assorted tin of biscuits which were and still are very popular in Ireland at christmas time. My main memory though is gooseberries, jam and eating them off the bush in his garden, the sharp sweetness, the lovely crunch when you bit into one and the prickly skin. I don't think I've had gooseberries since I was a child so grandad, this tart reminds me of you and how much I wish you had seen me turn into the married woman that I am today. Crap, I am also premenstrual and crying at something I don't think I've ever cried about before, so apologies if I've gotten a little deep in this post and we haven't even gotten to the recipe yet!!!Firstly, the food processor pastry which have never made before and am sure purists think is scandalous but seeing as I felt lazy it was easy and is flavoured with vanilla which will compliment the gooseberries perfectly.From Donna Hay magazine issue 38250g plain, all purpose flour1 tbsp caster sugar1/4 tsp baking powder180g cold butter, chopped80ml iced water1 tsp vanilla extractPut the flour, caster sugar and baking powder into a food processor and mix.Add the butter and process until it resembles bread crumbs.With the motor running, add the water and vanilla essence and process until it all comes together.Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 mins.For the gooseberry tart, taken from Rachel's Favourite Food for Friends by Rachel Allen:1lb of gooseberries, cleaned and de-stalked (is that a word??)100g sugar1 tbsp waterPut the gooseberries, sugar and water in a pot and heat for 4-5 mins until the gooseberries have softened. Turn off the heat and allow to cool in the syrup.Blind bake your pastry at Gas 3/160 for 15 mins then egg wash and bake for another 15 mins, I used a 14x4 inch long rectangular tart tin. Drain the gooseberries from the syrup and place them in the bottom of the tart.For the custard:250ml cream100g sugar1 tsp vanilla extract3 eggsMix the eggs, sugar and vanilla together and then add the cream. Whisk until well mixed and pour over the gooseberries. Bake for 35-40 mins until the custard is set. Allow to cool and serve with whipped cream and a berry or 2 if you have some left.This tart was gorgeous, light and custardy with a fantastic tartness from the gooseberries, the perfect combination of sweet and sour to my mind. A perfect summer tart I think, and the pastr[...]

Daring Bakers Challenge 5 - Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream


No Daring Bakers challenge this month which was Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter and I am putting the blame firmly on family and friends who love me so much they can't be without me.

Please check out the blogroll here as there are some truly gorgeous cakes out there that are too good to be missed.

Ciao rachx

HHDD#21 - Tiramisu


I am barely getting my entry in for this round of Hey Hey it's Donna Day, literally by the skin of my teeth. I've been thinking about this all month and I've had so much stuff on with family and friends that I've hardly managed to do any cooking at all.

So seeing as today is a very beautiful day and it's supposed to rain tomorrow we decided to dine al fresco tonight a.k.a sitting inside the french doors as we were too lazy to get the patio table and chairs out. So homemade beef burgers and salad with goats cheese it was followed by a very deconstructed and simple tiramisu flavoured with orange, chocolate and honey. This was gorgeous, mascarpone is so good and I managed to get organic mascarpone too, lovely organic oranges slightly reduced to make a syrup, and the best chocolate - Cadburys flake!!!

So here's what you'll need for 2 people:

12 lady fingers/savoiardi biscuits, 6 per person
125g mascarpone cheese
1 tbsp honey
juice and zest of 2 oranges
cadburys flake or similar crumbled
1tsp galliano (or vanilla extract)

Zest the 2 oranges and then juice them. Put the juice in a pot and bring to the boil. Boil the juice for 2-3 mins until thickened very slightly. Cool.
Mix the mascarpone with the honey and galliano.
Place 2 biscuits on a plate, soak with the orange syrup and top with a dollop of the mascarpone.
Place another 2 biscuits on top, soak and top with mascarpone.
Do this a third time finishing with a dollop op mascarpone.
Sprinkle with orange zest and crumbled flake.

This was gorgeous, I was marginally worried it wouldn't be but it was light and sweet and perfect to enjoy sitting in the evening sun.


Little saturday update


In the last 24 hours I've gotten the Ballymaloe Cookery Course for €16 from the bookman and the Apples for Jam and Falling Cloudberries Boxset by Tessa Kiros for €24. Best €40 I've spent in a very long time!!!!

Bargain feckin tastic!!!!!

Food bites and other stuff


So I was a tiny bit lazy this weekend and didn't feel like posting, but do you know the guilt gets to me and I have to put something up and seeing as I can't be bothered writing out a recipe here's some foodie bites to keep you going:Firstly major news from the wonderful Kieran over at Ice Cream Ireland. Kieran and some others have managed to get funding for the 1st Annual National Irish Food Awards (Blas na hÉireann) which will be held in Dingle during the Food and Wine festival, this is amazing news and I wish them all the best, should they need a judge I am only too willing to lend my services ;-) .Secondly, Deborah has started her new blog and also Spicendipity which is a shop selling gorgeous gourmet baking and cooking mixes of which I must try come payday this week. Dying to try the Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and I definitely wouldn't mind the Luxury BBQ hamper so if anyone feels inclined to send me a present please don't be shy!?!?! tee heeI also have to tell you about the new Bugatti range that have in stock, I am totally in love with these coffee cups and saucers and they have joined my ever espanding list of "must buy" kitchen implements. They also have the new Kenwood Kmix mixer which I am majorly coveting but my Kenwood Chef outweighs it in terms of muscle so I'll be sticking with that for now methinks but a girl can dream............I bought a couple of new cookery books in Hodges Figgis sale today, Everyday by Bill Granger and Gorgeous Desserts by Annie Bell. Gorgeous Desserts is such a food porn book for me, the pictures are gorgeous and decadent and while the pics Bill's book are fabulous as always, desserts win out for me every time and I've wanted this book for ages since I saw Gorgeous Cakes in my cousins house (I will be buying this book a.s.a.p aswell), I will be heading to bed early tonight to plan what I'll be making first.I had my aunts and mam over yesterday for afternoon tea which I've wanted to do for ages. My mam passed me the cups, saucers, milk jug, sugar bowl and cake plate from my grandmothers tea set and I finally got a chance to use the cups and saucers (after a friendly Mrs. Bucket (read Bouquet) type warning about no breakages and plastic beakers beforehand) and I must say Rachel Allen, although far from my favourite tv chef, does a mean afternoon tea. I made greek almond crescent biscuits, cardamom sour cream cake and lovely scones from a couple of her books which I seem to have accumulated over the last year or so. I have to say Rachel (love the name ;-) tee hee) has really grown on me and I've made a lovely mackeral dish and honey and lemon chicken from her books in the last few weeks and I was very impressed. Her recipes are simple and taste really good and I think these books are well on the way to becoming go to books for lovely home cooked food at the weekends for me.I haven't bought anything off my "must buy" list recently, not since my creme brulee dishes which I still haven't used so this month I'm planning to buy a book stand for the kitchen and I always have trouble balancing my book and end up putting it down in eggs whites that have spilled on the counter. I'm also thinking maybe a bamboo steamer and maybe an ice-cream maker aswell as I've had to give the one I had a loan of for well over a year back. I'm thinking this one might suit my needs for now as I won't be making ice cream too often I'd say.And in that note I may love you and leave you. Today's foodie news has been brought to you by Ra[...]

Perfect profiteroles


I've been so bad not posting for the last 2 weeks and after the amazing reponse I had to my Daring Bakers Challenge, very exciting getting 50 comments and every time I got a new one I was emailing my husband at work to tell him!! I'm sure he was thinking how easily amused I am but what can ya do?!?!?!So last weekend we were in London for our second wedding anniversary (we ate in the Jamie Oliver restuarant (meh! not that it was bad I was just slightly non-plussed and I really like Jamie's books and programmes) and had the most fantastic brunch here in Covent Garden, and this weekend we were at an engagement party for some friends who got engaged on a Caribbean cruise, with the most perfect amazingly romantic proposal, so congrats to S&E we are so thrilled for you!!!The day before we went to London I was craving profiteroles, every since I made the profiteroles with the honey orange cream and cardamom icing I've been thinking about the texture of the choux pastry and the gorgeous flavours but seeing as my sister was coming for these I stuck to the traditional profiterole and filled them with sweetened cream and topped them with the most amazing chocolate sauce I got from m&s.These were fantastic, light pastry and they cooked so well, I used a different recipe to the one I used for HHDD#20 and to be honest I preferred this one, it was slightly sweet and thicker than the one I made for HHDD. I used a recipe from a chef whose pretty big in the UK, James Martin, I have his Desserts book and am falling back in love with it. I made some desserts from it at christmas and wasn't impressed at all but I've tried a couple of different things since then an got the mille feuille idea from my last post from browsing his book and he is rising in my estimation again after me being sorely disappointed with him at Christmas.So anyway, enough rambling here y'all are to make 24 generous sized profiteroles or 16 eclairs:125ml milk100g butter that's been cut into little cubes3g fine saltg caster sugar (I used golden caster sugar)150g flour, sifted4 medium eggsPreheat the oven to Gas 7/220.Put the water, milk, butter, salt and sugar into a saucepan and heat over a high heat for 1 minute stirring all the time. Take the pan off the heat and add the flour stirring all the time until the mixture is smooth.When the mixture is smooth put the pan back on the heat and stir for another minute. (The paste will poach and the water will evaporate but make sure not to let it dry out too much or it will crack when it's cooking). Add the eggs one by one mixing each one in before you add the next egg stirring well until the mixture is smoothe and silky.Spoon the mix into a piping bag and pipe the choux into whatever you are making profiteroles or eclair. Use a finger dipped in water to smoothe tops of your profiteroles.When you are putting the choux into the oven throw a cup of water into a heated baking tray, this will create steam and help the choux to rise. Open the door after about 5 mins to allow the steam to escape and wedge the door open open a small ammount.Cook for 10-20 mins depending on how big your profiteroles are or until golden brown. Mine took about 20-25 mins but my oven may have been open a but much.Fill will cream either using a piping bag or cut the choux in half and spoon in, top with melted chocolate or in my case gorgeous rich chocolate sauce. Enjoy!!![...]

Daring Bakers Challenge 4 - Danish Braid


This months Daring Bakers Challenge of a Danish Braid has been my favourite so far. I love love loved it!!!!! We made danish pastry which was something I had never done before and it was fantastically exciting to watch it take shape and then produce something as delicious as an apple strudel inspired danish braid. I also made fresh croissants which my husband was VERY excited about and croissants are one of my favourite foods all fresh and warm from the oven with a wonderful flakiness and the scent of cardamom and orange wafting through the house on the warm breeze (sounds all tropical doesn't it, not near it though just a day of no rain but no summer sunshine here in the Emerald Isle).I made a couple of changes to the recipe to make it my own but not straying too far from the original so here they are:I used 2 medium eggs and 1 egg yolk instead of 2 large eggsI added a whole tsp of cardamom as I love it so much I just couldn't help myselfI had no vanilla pods so I just used the vanilla extractI needed to add at least another 1/2 cup of flour as my dough was super sticky, this may have been due to the changing of the eggs but it all worked out fine in the end and the dough was a dream to work withI added All Spice to my apple filling as opposed to cinnamon and vanilla, for those of you who don't have All Spice as I'm not sure it it's an Irish thing or an international/european thing it's a pre-blended mix of nutmeg, cinnamon and clovesI also added 125g sultanas to my apple mixture.I used a sugar almond crunch on top of my braid as my husband thinks he "doesn't like" nuts but I use them all the time without telling him and he never leaves anything behind!!!I made my braid with the aid of the wonderful photos from Comida De Mama and found them extremely helpful in pointing me in the right direction in terms of tucking in the end etc, the YouTube video that Kelly posted was also very helpful in terms of advice in keeping the dough rectangular etc.The pastry was in a word - Divine, I love cardamom and it gave the dough (and the kitchen) the most amazing scent. I think my pastry cooked very well and was flaky and not too crispy and I could really see the layers which was pretty impressive (I thought anyway).Thank you so much to Kelly and Ben for hosting this months challenge, it's been the most enjoyable and most challenging challenge for me so far and I loved every single second of this, I will definitely be making this again as it's such a versatile dough and I even have the leftovers defrosting down stairs at the moment for todays dessert.Just to advise you, I have kitchen measuring cups and use them anytime the recipe says cups, apologies to anyone who doesn't have these to hand but as far as I know there's 8 ounces in 1 cup and I'd go with this, so after all that here's the recipe:Danish Braid inspired by Sherry Yard's The Secrets of BakingDANISH DOUGH:Makes 2-1/2 pounds doughIngredientsFor the dough (Detrempe)1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast1/2 cup whole milk1/3 cup sugarZest of 1 orange, finely grated3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped2 large eggs, chilled1/4 cup fresh orange juice3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon saltFor the butter block (Beurrage)1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter1/4 cup all-purpose flourDOUGHCombine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, oran[...]

Mini speckled chocolate cheesecakes


After last weekend cheesecake sisaster I decided it was time to try again to assuage my cheesecake craving and get the creamy hit that I was looking for. I've wanted to make a chocolate cheesecake for a while and after searching the food blog search etc I settled on Nigella's chocolate cheesecake recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess, but with a couple of changes.This is a traditional cheesecake made with eggs and cream cheese and baked in a water bath, I decided to make individual cakes as this makes sure I'm not eating a mahoosive slice and saying it's just a slice (tee hee). I used crushed chocolate bits that I whizzed in the food processor as opposed to melting the chocolate and adding it to the mix to make a swirled cheesecake like the brownies I made before. I used ginger nuts for the base instead of digestives as I like the ginger flavour is brings to the cake.I was delighted with the results, creamy and rich but with a bitter hit of chocolate and a lovely gingery flavour. I think my craving has been satisfied for now, moving onto something more exciting next which I've made already but will remain a secret until next weekend but just to tell you it was a dream to make and I love love love the new skill I've gotten though it too, dying to share with you allAnyway, enough rambling here's the recipe:125g biscuits crushed, ginger nuts or digestives work best50g butter, melted.500g creamcheese3 whole eggs3 egg yolks150g sugar175ml sour cream1tsp lime juice150 plain choclate, melted.Heat the oven to Gas 4/180 and boil a kettle full of water.Process the biscuits and mix with the butter, put this into the bottom of a 20 cm springform tin or 6 individual moulds if you have them, and chill this while you make the creamcheese mix.Whisk the creamcheese until it's smoothe, add the sugar and then the eggs one by one whisking each one in well before you add the next.Add the sour cream and lime juice.Fold in the chocolate bits and pour the mix into your tin.Put your springform tin into a large roasting tin and fill the roasting tin with water until it comes 2-3 cm's up the sides of the springform.If using a 20cm tin bake for an hour, if using individual moulds approx 20 mins.Sit on a rack to cool and dust with icing sugar when ready to serve.This was gorgeous, creamy and chocolatey and bitter all at the same, definitely one to make again. Hope you enjoy it if you try it[...]