Monday, 17 December 2012

Gingerbread houses

After looking at other attempts at Gingerbread Houses I decided I wanted to give it a go. My initial idea was to make 16, yes I said 16 mini ones some being able to perch on mugs as gifts to give out at a Christnas meal on Saturday night. Well lets just say that didn't quite go to plan. I looked at so many different templates, sizes etc and different methods of making gingerbread dough. I ended up going with the melting method cutting out some mini templates of my own.
The dough seemed okay after chilling overnight then baking although I'd say was edging towards the hard side of gingerbread cookies. The real trouble started trying to actually get the houses to glue together without collapsing walls. I used Royal Icing and put it liberally on the sides to join the pieces and more or less ended up holding the houses to get them to set and hoping for the best. My attempts were very messy and I totally lost the will to make them perfect. My initial notion of hand piped tiles also feel down as my pre bought tube of icing proved difficult to use and in the end I stuck on small chocolates and sweets using the icing rather than have any elaborate detailing.

So in the end I ended up with 4 very rugged looking houses - that I have shameful photographed before. If I ever attempt a gingerbread house again I think I'll stick to one larger one - take more time over the building stage and enlist some help!
I look forward to looking at other attempts and am sure my little houses will be put to shame with some of he fantastic creations ! That being said I've given these out with warnings to dunk in a hot drink before hand as I think they run the risk of being a little hard.

I'm posting this to the Turquoise Lemons gingerbread link- up ! One of the many fab blogs I enjoy reading


Festive photos

So I've fell by the wayside again with blogging here but thought that it was time to post some of my recent excursions and bakes. I've started an illustration course and blog so thats been taking up a lot of my time but I found time to visit Copenhagen and took some great shots of the Christmas markets in Tivoli Gardens.
Although I don't think blogging regularly is for me, I still love and am inspired by the ever increasing number of them and am entering this photo to the Tinned Tomatoes Festive Photo round-up!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Crumble cake

Well, its been a while folks. I've been working on a commission to illustrate a kids story/ poem which has been taking up a lot of my time but has been really enjoyable. Whilst my website learning/ design stuff has taken a bit of a back seat I have still managed to make some goodies recently. I made this crumble cake for mothers day and then made a traybake version for a charity bakesale. I made two for mothers day one using rhubarb and strawberry, the other apple and strawberry. The first tin I used was a deep sided 18cm the second a sandwich tin 20cm which seemed to work slightly better and came out the loose bottomed tin a lot easier. Either way they have all tasted delicious and firm up once cooked and are lovely served with tea or as a dessert. The apple and strawberry combo worked really well and the recipe I used was adapted from lots of crumble cake recipes but using my old faithful crumble topping recipe (the topping recipes I'd looked at seemed to have unusual ratios of sugar, flour to butter.

85g Flour
2 eggs
85g Caster Sugar
Mixture of fruits strawberries, apples, rhubarb, blackberries work well (about 400g)

Topping – makes enough for a cake and a crumble can half

4oz (115g) flour
2 oz butter (50g)
2 oz sugar (50g) we used light muscovado

Preheat oven to 160° oven (fan). Cream the butter and the sugar . Add the eggs then fold in the flour and a pinch of salt – add some milk if needs be to make a dropping consistency. Put into a 20cm sandwich or cake tin ( loose bottomed helps).

Cut the apples into wedges , slice strawberries (with the rhubarb we stewed it slightly in the first cake for about 10 minutes then drained some of the juices, but on reflection it might have been better to use dry rhubarb cut into bite size pieces as the first cake seemed to look a bit wetter at the bottom.)

Mix the fruit with a bit of sugar about 1tbsp of caster or light muscovado sugar. Lay over sponge mix. Bake at 160° oven for about 25 minutes.
Make crumble topping then place on top of cake and finish with a last sprinkling of sugar. Return to the oven for a further 20 – 25 minutes.  Leave in tin to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from cake and allow to cool on wire rack. The cake tastes lovely slightly warm from the oven but left to cool will firm up nicely and goes lovely with some tea.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Eden moon art - coming soon...

So after much debate I've finally found a direction for my creativity! It all started a few weeks back when my friend had a baby and I decided to create a personalised illustration for the babys nursery. I throughly enjoyed getting back to some sketching/ painting and picked a nice mount and frame to present the gift.
My friend was delighted with the gift and it got me thinking that perhaps I could sell some of my illustrations as prints to be mounted.
I'll be offering a range of prints which can be personalised (with child's name, DOB etc) and depending on how that takes off also plan to offer a range of personalised wedding sketches.
I'm slightly apprehensive but nothing to lose! I plan to still use this blog for foodie related things but all art work etc will be through my site - which is a work in progress so keep checking back for updates!

Monday, 23 January 2012


It was my birthday last week and this weekend I had some friends round for a joint birthday get together/ baby shower for my friend who was due to give birth last Thursday!

I had a real notion to make pavlova but must admit was a little apprehensive that it would sink, crack too much etc. The recipes I looked at also seemed to vary in the cooking time so I played it by ear and settled on 1 hour 20 minutes given that I used a lower oven setting than some recipes.

I couldn't decide how best to decorate/ serve - I had considered nutella , chocolate or butterscotch sauce but settled on a lighter whipped cream , strawberry and kiwi combo to make sure the taste of the sweet slightly chewy meringue came through.

That being said this turned out a real winner with one of my friends going back for her fourth portion :)

Along with my friend I also made some whoopie pies which I'll post later.


4 egg whites

225g golden caster sugar

1 tsp cornflour

1 tsp white wine vinegar

vanilla essence/ extract

284ml carton double or whipping cream

1 lemon , zested

fruit of choice for topping, strawberries, kiwi etc

1 tbsp icing sugar

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Cover a baking sheet with baking parchment. Whisk the egg whites with electric beaters until they just form stiff and shiny peaks. Gradually add the sugar a couple of tablespoons at a time and whisk really well between each addition. When all of the sugar is used up continue whisking for 3-4 minutes or until the meringue is stiff and glossy and stands up in peaks, then whisk in the cornflour and vinegar.
Spoon the mixture onto the baking parchment and use a palette knife to make a circle about 20cm in diameter. Put in the oven, turn the temperature down to 120C/fan 100C/gas ½ and cook for about 1½ hours. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue inside until completely cold. I made this the night before and left in the oven overnight. 
Whip the cream with a bit of icing sugar to sweeten . Cut and display fruit on top. Serve with more cream, sauce or fruit if desired.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone! I've never been a lover of New Year and this year was a very quiet one with a few visits and catch- ups with family and friends. I've always wanted to attend a really nice party perhaps in a country house something like a ceilidh but so far have never had the chance  (perhaps one year!).
Anyhow the New Year has got me thinking about the changes I want to make and the things I want to achieve for the year ahead and the future.
First off I finally purchased a new phone a htc salsa. For someone who loves the internet and technology I was never really into phones and was apprehensive about a touch screen. So far I've loving it and can't believe how easy it is to access the internet, send messages and catch up on facebook !
I'm also considering making this blog about all things creative and not just food related. I'd love to try get my work shown more and maybe see if I could get a job in something more creative or perhaps secure a few commissions? ( I'm being optomistic - its only the 2nd January after all!).
For now heres a sketch I did from my new Dowton Abbey book.

Saturday, 24 December 2011


Last year I made some cinnamon biscotti to give as Christmas gifts and wanted some biscuit type thing to make to give this year. I made a batch of biscotti but after a bit too much googling I decided to adapt last years recipe and omit the butter given that traditional biscotti is butter free. Any how I thought it all looked rather nice but when my mum tried it later she declared it not fit to give as it was likely to break everyones teeth!
Now as much as I love my mum she is no baking / biscotti expert and after trying it myself softened when drunk with a hot drink I thought it tasted lovely.
However, my confidence in giving the biscotti was somewhat dented so when I came across this recipe on the Pink Whisk for Lebkuchen I thought it would be worth a try as it seemed like it would last a few days after baking (which was pretty crucial when giving food as gifts) and in general I love anything with a cinnamon spicy taste.
When I made this I'd already spent the morning on my Christmas cakes, then made biscotti so I wasn't totally paying attention and forgot to add a few ingredients - ie the almonds and substituted the honey in the original receipt for golden syrup. That being said these turned out pretty well - and I was delighted when a few people commented they were the perfect texture for Lebkuchen ( which I must admit I had no real idea what it should be like, although apparently a little soft is just right!).
I put them in presentation bags to give as gifts, tied with some ribbon and a homemade/ designed gift tag ( more on this later) and in the end I was pretty pleased with my efforts.
My recipe adapted from The Pink Whisk

85ml golden syrup
115g dark brown sugar
30g butter
225g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg, beaten
To ice:
25g icing sugar sifted
2 tsp water
Makes 24 biscuits.

Place the syrup, sugar and butter in a pan. Heat until butter and sugar have melted then remove. Sift together flour, spice and bicarbonate of soda. Beat the egg in a small cup, then add 1/2 of the flour mix and 1/2 of the eff and mix well. Then add the remaining flour and egg. Pur the dough into a bag and chill in the fridge for a few hours.
Remove from fridge and roll to about 5mm thick - I used quite a bit of flour on my work surface.
Preheat oven to 160c Fan/180c/Gas Mark 4. Cut out your biscuits with cutters or flattened into rounds.
Bake in the oven for about 8 minutes till golden brown. Leave to cool on tray to firm up.
Make up water icing then brush over biscuits. Apply a second layer of icing if desired. I think these would also be nice with a litte chocolate on one layer.