Friday, 19 September 2014

Fat Friday #8 September Apple Cake

I think most people have recipes that they often go back to again and again. This one is a favourite autumnal recipe that I try and make whenever I have some cooking apples available. This apple cake is also great for on the go or even better when its heated and laced with custard. 
Erg...This is just sexy...

Recipe: Makes 1 large cake  (Recipe Adapted from Cooking Up a Storm by Sam Stern

·      75g unsalted butter, softened
·      175g golden caster sugar
·      2 large eggs
·      255g plain flour, sifted 
·      2 teaspoons baking powder
·      The zest from 1 lemon

·      675g/2 large cooking apples
·      1 tablespoon orange marmalade      
·      1/2 teaspoon ground mixed spice
·      1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·      2 tablespoons whole milk
·      A little dusting of icing sugar to decorate

 Equipment:
·       1 large cake tin lined with baking paper
·       Electric mixer/hand-held electric whisk
·       Sieve
·       Peeler/Sharp knife
·       Knife
·       Tablespoon
·       Teaspoon
·       Grater
·       Wooden Spoon

 
1.  Pre heat the oven to 180c/350c/ Gas mark 4. Line the cake tin with the baking paper.
2. Peel, core and chop the apples into small chunks. 
3. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale, add the eggs and beat until all combined 
4. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into the creamed mixture and fold until combined  
5. Gently fold in the chopped apples, marmalade and lemon zest. Pour the batter into the cake tin.
6. Bake for 1 hour and test to see if the cake is cooked by prodding the middle with a clean knife. If it comes out clean, its done.
7. Place on a wire rack until completely cool and then dust a little icing sugar on top.    

Do you have go to recipes? What's your favourite autumnal recipe?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Penny's Top Ten Tips #5 Blogger Block


Can you believe its already week 5 into top ten tips? Wow!!
Its been a been great so far. We've had Graduation Week Tips, Planning the Perfect Picnic, Party Prep for Grad Balls, and How to write a Restaurant Review. This week I'm giving you my top ten tips on Blogger Block. Its like writers blog but for bloggers. You get the gist, not lets get to the list!

1. Read, read, read-
When I say this, I'm not limiting this to blogs. Magazines, newspapers, books and web articles can not only expand your views and keep you informed of the latest news, but it may provide you with some blogging ideas.

2. Join social networks-
My personal favourites are Pinterest and Bloglovin. I am so glad (and grateful) that I found these websites. Bloglovin is a great way to read all your favourite blogs in one place. Not only does it get your name out in blogosphere,  you get a reading list of all the latest posts of your favourite blogs, which provides you with some good reading and inspiration. You can also save your favourites for future reading. This applies to Pinterest, you can save recipes for further reading or just gorge on food porn for inspiration.

3. Do something outside of the comfort zone-
I'm a food blogger and its highly unusual that I do anything but blog about food. Sometimes there are exceptions, such as this top ten list, like this one! But why not do a beauty post? How about fitness? A crafty post about that awesome papermache mask that your kid did? Its your blog and you can post whatever you like.

4. I think I'd like to phone a friend Penny-
You never know a friend or family member that may have a good idea to blog about. They may even want to write a post for the blog, if they fancy a go.

5. Lists never fail-
Top ten lists (again like this) can be a blogging life saver. If you are stuck and haven't got a clue what to write about then go with a list. Favourite product list, best playlist for jogging etc. You get the gist.

6. Take a walk-
Sitting at a computer and hoping for something to pop in your head... well it can happen but often it doesn't. Switch off the computer and go for a walk. No-where special, maybe just down to the shops just to clear your head. You may find that walk will do you a world of good and it may turn out to be a eureka moment.

7. Quality not Quantity-
No matter how much writer blockage you have (is that a thing?), I think consistency is very important when running a blog. But I also think publishing something for the sake of  publishing can result in a poor quality post. Time management is the key here. Write a good decent post about something your passionate about as people can see through something that's fake or just been posted to meet a deadline.

8. Write it down-
If you have a single vague idea, don't let it escape you. Write it down somewhere your going to see it, and not on a post-it. They will go missing.

9. Pictures speak louder then words-
Looking at old photos of you and your family may spark an idea. When I came up with Two Toned Icing Cupcakes, it was really an excuse to celebrate my friend Naomi leaving the UK for an amazing job opportunity but it was by looking at old pictures of me and my friend that the idea came about. (Luckily, Naomi is back!! So yay!!!)

10. Teamwork-
Maybe its worth writing with someone else. That is rather then you or someone else write the post by yourself, you work as a team instead.

I hope you've enjoyed this weeks Penny's Top Ten Tips.
What do you do when dreaded blogger block hits?


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Baking Basics 101: Rubbing in

Hello and welcome to another Baking Basics 101! This week its focusing on the rubbing in method, (please keep all jokes to the end).

What is this process? Its using your fingers to rub a dry ingredient, such as flour, into a fat such as butter or lard. So why do you use this technique? As you rub the flour into butter, the flour gets coated in a layer of butter, which creates a sort of protective coat and this changes the texture of the end product to a crumbled texture.
Equipment:
  • Sieve
  • Bowl
  • Knife
  • Chopping board
  • Microave if needed
  • Fingers and Hands
1. Cut up the butter into cubes and place in a bowl, microwave the butter if its still cold.
2. Place the dry ingredients into the same bowl.
3. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour.
4. You should start seeing that the mixture is turning crumbley. This is the butter and flour combining.
Recipe that use this technique:
Apple Crumble (Oh yeah I love this recipe!!)
Soda Bread

If there's a method you'd like to learn and want me to write about, please comment below or let me know on facebook or twitter with the hashtag #bakingbasics101

Monday, 15 September 2014

Monday Catch Up: New Beginnings (it sounds epic right?)


Its been a little over a week since I've moved in my flat with my boyfriend. We've been getting on pretty well. I mean its going really well. Its a little surreal that we've finally moved in, like a proper couple. Like a couple of grown-ups (heh... not really Penny...). I'm not sure what to really write here because, and I know its cliché, but its going perfectly. I'm almost expecting someone to come in and burst the coupley bubble. I'm so happy and I think Robs pretty happy too. Well, he should be, hes living with a pastry chef in training!

Speaking of cheffing, I've just started my pastry course. On the first day my stomach was a concoction of excited and very intimidated. The other trainee's are really qualified and are so creative,talented and they are so friendly. Like amazingly lovely. I think its sort of jittery nerves and the fear of I'm not good enough. Is that normal? Do any of you readers get like that? I think nerves are normal. I don't think I would be human if I didn't worry. 
After that first day, I've walked away with my head held high with more friends,the talk of going to cook in a restaurant, trips to Paris and learning alot of gastro-delights. I'm thrilled and really excited. Its going to a great ride, will you join me in it?

That's it for this weeks Catch-up Monday. Stay tuned for next weeks instalment.


Friday, 12 September 2014

Fat Friday #8 Basic Fruit Batter

That's another week done and over with, of course you know what that means. Its Fat Friday! This week is kind of a throwback day as I've been trying to sort out loads of stuff with my pastry course and moving in my new place with my boyfriend (its been two days and we haven't killed each other...yet...) so its been hard to do something fancy and way cool. So this week you'll have to settle for Basic Fruit Batter. I first made this in my first pastry course and has been sitting idle for about a year unpublished on the blog. Oops on my half. Also I kind of felt that battering fruit was bad for you, but that was back before the time of Fat Friday*
*I'm not saying eat all fruit in batter. Please consume in moderation




Recipe: Basic Batter (My own)
·       450g plain flour
·       Pinch of salt
·       6 egg yolk
·       450ml white wine
·       90ml oil, plus extra for frying
·       Fruit of your choice (We used pineapple, apple, pear and kiwi. Kiwi was the best! Seriously, don't knock it until you try it.)
Equipment:
·       Bowl
·       Whisk
·       Frying pan with oil /deep fryer
·       Fork or a slotted spoon
·       Sieve
·       Jug
·       Knife
·       Chopping board
·       Plate with about 200g of sugar and 20g cinnamon 

    1. Peel the fruit, core the apples, pears etc so that it’s in rings. (Don't do this for kiwis, strawberries or other small fruit.)
2. Sieve flour into a bowl and add salt.
3. Make a well in the middle, and whisk in the eggs. Add the white wine and oil and mix well until it looks like a lumpy but wet mixture.
4.Heat up the oil in a frying pan/fryer to about 180c or until the oil is hot enough for frying. To test if it's hot enough, place a drop of batter into the oil once the batter starts to crisp and bubble, the oil is hot enough.
5. Coat the fruit with the batter, place into the hot oil and cook for 3-4 mins or until the batter has turned a golden colour. (Please be careful at this stage as there is a burn risk.)
6.Place into a plate of cinnamon sugar and roll around to coat. Serve. 

What fruit would you batter? Would you stop at fruit?
Happy Friday and Happy Baking 


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Penny's Top Ten Tips #4 How to Write a Restaurant Review

Its Thursday! You know what that means? Its time for Penny's Top Ten Tips! This week its: How to write a restaurant review! 

1. Know a little about the place your eating at-
You most likely do this already but check out and research your restaurant before you go. Do they have an interesting back story? What is the chefs inspirational story? (because all chefs have stories like that..) Keep a note of all of these things when writing up the review.

2. Book a window seat to maximise light-
Unless its really cold that is. By sitting near the window you'll be able to fully use natural light to your advantage when taking a picture with your smartphone or camera. By the way, turn the flash off. There's nothing more frustrating when you've got a snap happy dinner guest taking pictures using a flash. I want to see my food not little bright spots in my face.

3.Keep the palate arranging to a minimum-
Don't mess with the chefs work. Leave the plate as it is. Whether its picture perfect or otherwise, just leave the plate alone if you want an honest representation of your dish.

4. Take a notebook, pen and camera-
Obviously, so you can make some tasting notes...

5. Make notes as you go-
I'm not joking with this one. I've eaten a 3-course meal and stuffed it so fast I didn't put pen to paper and didn't make a single note. I wanted to write up a good review and couldn't remember the names of dishes or what I enjoyed the most about the experience.  

6. Aim for independent restaurants-
Again this is a no brainer but avoid branded chain restaurants such as Loch Fyne. There are some great places to dine out that are just down the road from you, just itching to be discovered!

7. Grab a dictionary-
Everyone is guilty of this. We all use repetitive words such as yummy, delicious, scrummy etc. It may take a couple of reviews to expand your vocabulary and really get into the swing of things. 

8. Be honest- not harsh or too fluffy
When I used to write reviews I was too nice and kind. I could be smacked in the back of my head with a plate in a restaurant, without an apology [its happened], had sub-par food and flat atmosphere AND I still tipped and written a decent review because I'm a soft spot... but on the other-hand, that doesn't mean I can a totally arse-butt about it! You can't then stream out really bad stuff because your outraged about your white wine being too cold.... 
It's best to keep yourself balanced and the review will remain balanced.  

9. Try something different-
Your going out for a meal, scanning the menu and do you often find yourself leaning to something comfortable and familiar? Well push the boat out and order something you can't make at home or don't normally have. This will then give you something interesting to write and hopefully, you can find a new foodie favourite. 

10. Enjoy the experience-
Try not to get too bogged down in the reviewing process. Enjoy the meal for what it is. Its a fun food review not an essay

Have you written a restaurant review? Share in comments!


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Baking Basics 101: Kneading


Its... so its time for a Baking Basics 101. This week its the method of kneading.

Kneading is a process most commonly associated with bread making. Kneading is process of stretching and, sometimes, punching the dough. Why is this done? Flour, especially bread flour, has gluten in it. The dough needs to be stretched to create an elastic dough, which is what you need to create air pockets in the bread.  This results in a light and fluffy loaf. If the dough isn't kneaded enough, the end result will be a heavy loaf of bread. No one wants that.   

Another term that you may come across is, 'knocking back'. The term that bread makers use to literarily, knock the air of the bread before the proving process. Basically kneading it again.

Why do this? By kneading the dough for a second time, it creates an even texture throughout the bread and removes the big air bubbles.

So once your bread has been left to risen
Ingredients:
  • Bread dough
  • A little flour for dusting the sides
Equipment:
  •  Your clean hands

1. Using floured hands, scrape the risen dough from the bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.

2.The process of kneading is stretching the dough, pressing it against the surface and folding it in on
 itself.

3. Knead the dough roughly for a few minutes until it looks well rounded and not as wet. It should be
soft, smooth and elastic. This is the stage when you let the bread prove until the dough has risen.

4.Knead the bread one more time and let the dough prove for the second time.

5. The dough should be ready to bake.

Recipe that use this technique:
If there's a method you'd like to learn and want me to write about, please comment below or let me know on facebook or twitter with the hashtag #bakingbasics101

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