Sunday, 31 May 2009

A weekend bake-a-thon

Finally I have a weekend off, and it's been time for some serious baking.

#1 Bakewell tarts.
I'd normally post the recipe, but I saw a lot whilst planning to make them, and I ended up combining various recipes, which worked out quite well. I bought some cute little mini flan tins which I've been desperate to use, and that used about half a pack of a 450g pack of ready to roll pastry from M and S. I know, I should have made my own, but I was a bit nervous. Actually, I definitely should have made my own, as the pastry fell to bits when I unrolled it, and I had to squidge it all together and then roll it anyway. I then creamed 4oz butter with 4oz golden caster sugar, beat in 2 eggs, and then added a 100g packet of ground almonds. I added a bit of SR flour to make the almonds equal the sugar and butter in weight, along with a teaspoon of almond essence to ensure it was really almondy. I didn't actually blind bake the pastry, but it doesn't seem to have gone too soggy, so I then spread the bottom of each tart with jam* and put some of the mixture in each tart tin. I had way too much mixture leftover, so I put the rest in a tin with some fresh, pitted cherries to make a kind of frangipane cake (see pic...). Anyway, here is the result which I served with cream to my lovely boyfriend as part of a special end of the week dinner.

* Jam. From the recipes that I've seen the flavour of jam can be quite controversial, and I'm not exactly sure what is traditional in Bakewell. I've done some research on the internet but haven't been able to find it out. Some people favour raspberry, but mainly because I had it in the fridge, and we like it, I used some Tiptree Morello cherry jam.

#2 Coffee and walnut cupcakes
Just a simple mix of 2oz vegetable spread, 2oz soft brown sugar, an egg, and 2oz SR with a tablespoon of Camp Coffee and 1 oz of chopped walnuts. I love Camp Coffee for adding coffee flavour to cakes. Baked in the oven for about 10 mins at 180C, and then iced with butter icing (1oz butter, 1.5 oz icing sugar, and a good slosh of camp coffee). These are for my boyfriend's packed lunches - I always make him some sort of sweet treat (cereal bars, flapjacks, lemon buns, fairy cakes, shortbread hippos...).

#3 Birthday cake for Dad.
Not the sort of thing I'd want to eat myself, but apparently this is what his Mum used to make. My Mum used to make it for him, but now I seem to have taken on that role. It's just a regular sponge, with buttercream in the filling, and water icing on the top. Really the water icing should be pink, but I don't use food colouring. Sugar overload but it's what he likes.

#4 Carrot and banana cake
Something slightly healthier perhaps?! This is a recipe from where I get a lot of my recipes. I've never made a cake using oil before and was slightly disconcerted when I poured the oil in and it just sat on top of the mixture. It took a lot of stirring to absorb, but by the time I'd bunged in the bananas and carrots etc it looked ok, but did taste a little greasy IMO. I liked the idea of combining carrots and bananas as during the last week I've had Pret's carrot cake and banana cake, both very yummy. I also just made a butter icing as I didn't want to open a whole tub of cream cheese.

It still hasn't quite satisfied my baking urges - I'm wanting to do something with rhubarb, and found this, I STILL want to make the spelt bread that Scandilicious blogged about ages ago, and now strawberries are in season I want to give this a go that I didn't get around to last summer. I think I'm going to have to do something with bananas this week as we've got some leftover, and it's been ages since I made brioche in my bread machine. And I still haven't tried Nicola's cinnamon buns. And I've got the June and July editions of BBC Good food, Olive and Delicious which are bound to have more ideas! Maybe I need an alternative career... Or maybe not if we are to retain our waistlines.

And, no, we haven't been just been doing a Marie Antoinette all weekend, it's also been a weekend of pasta eating, just because I didn't feel like slaving over a hot stove. I made a tuna and olive and chilli sauce on Friday night, with heart shaped pasta, an asparagus and basil and tomato sauce with fresh tagliatelle on Saturday, and a marinated peppers and tomato sauce, also with fresh tagliatelle for Sunday. Better come up with something else for the boyfriend on Monday as he's got to have a packed tea two nights this week which invariably means pasta salad of some description!

PS: Ooh, I've just found this recipe which looks fab - spelt rhubarb cake. I've been meaning to try spelt to see if it's gentler on my stomach so I definitely should give that a go next.

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