Monday, 21 July 2014

The Art of Baking Blind - Book Review

We don’t often write reviews for books but when we do they are always recipe books, not novels. So we were intrigued and enticed when we were introduced to a baking novel for the first time. The whole concept seemed pretty strange to us and we couldn't imagine what the plot could be. We just loved the beautiful turquoise and pink cover!

You can buy the book here - The Art of Baking Blind

First of all we’ll give you a brief introduction on the author Sarah Vaughan. Sarah has always had a fascination in writing from a very young age and ended up working for The Guardian as a news reporter before her big break as a published author. And so the journey of ‘The Art of Baking Blind’ began…

The book itself runs two story-lines which are intertwined and linked but at the same time kept somewhat separate. The first storyline follows the life of a famous and extremely talented Mrs Eaden. Kathleen Eaden’s character is very much the 1960’s version of the likes of Nigella Lawson. A domestic goddess and wife of a supermarket magnate George Eaden. Determined to keep up the persona of the perfect housewife and fulfil her husband’s dreams of a large family.

After the icon of the Eaden and Sons supermarket chain, Kathleen Eaden passed away the family business decides to start the search for the new Mrs Eaden, a face to represent all the store’s key values and portray in image to match that of Mrs Eaden. This is where the story starts to intertwine.

The search for the new Mrs Eaden takes the form of a competition, much of which readers will see similarities in popular baking competitions such as The Great British Bake-Off and similar shows. This storyline introduces a selection of new characters all with their own stories to tell, all with their own secrets they are often hiding behind persona's of perfection.

You will find snip-its of Kathleen Eaden’s famous book ‘The Art of Baking’ throughout this novel perfectly placed into the storyline. This really adds to the overall feel of the book. You can tell that the author, Sarah loves baking herself as this book is written for someone with a love of baking as well as the excitement and competitiveness of a competition.

Just like a cake this book has many layers, and characters to savour and enjoy. Can you call a book delicious, yummy or even mouth-watering? Perhaps you can for this book.

We wait with anticipation for the next book by Sarah Vaughan!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Mothers Cake

With fond memories of going to Mothers or Grandma's  house we decided to write a recipe to remind us of these occasions. This cake is sweet and delicate fragrance which can be altered by using lavender extract or another floral extract alternatively it could be left out altogether for a more plain and traditional basic bundt cake.

The Ingredients:
240g Butter
450g Silver Spoon® Caster Sugar
2tsp Nielsen Massey Vanilla Extract
0.5tsp Jasmine Extract (or similar)
4 Eggs
360 NEILL'S® Self Raising Flour
250ml Milk
0.5tsp Baking Powder

The Topping:
300g Silver Spoon® Icing Sugar
3tsp Warm Water
A few drops of colouring

Recommended Equipment:
Food Mixer (Recommended Bosch MUM46A1)
Stellar James Martin Loose Bottomed Square Cake Tin
Pyrex Mixing Bowls
Heston Blumenthal Dual Platform Precision Scale

The How-To: 
Preheat oven to 170c.
Grease a large bundt tin or liberally spray with non stick baking spray.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer for at least 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Beat in the vanilla extract and jasmine extract.
Beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined.

Transfer the batter to a large mixing bowl.

Sieve in the flour and baking powder alternating with the milk until all ingredients are combined.

Pour into the prepared bundt tin ensuring the mixture is evenly distributed so it rises evenly.

Bake in the centre of the over for 50-55 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Dont worry too much if the top of the bundt cake is a little dark. This can be trimmed off slightly when preparing the cake when it cools. This often happens with bundt cakes.
Allow to cool for 15 mins in the cake tin before loosening around the edges and transferring onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
When the cake is almost cool you can start preparing the icing topping.
Mix the icing sugar and warm water in a bowl until smooth and no lumps. You can thicken or thin the mixture as required but for this cake I prefer the icing to be thicker for presentation reasons.
Mix in the colouring to obtain the colour you desire.
Allow the icing to set. The cake can then be stored in an airtight container for 3-5 days. 

You're Done!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Strawberry Lemon Cake

With summer well upon us now and fresh strawberries in all the shops we decided to write a wonderful summer cake recipe using them. This cake is fantastic with either fresh cream or custard. This cake isnt all about the looks and presentation its about the flavours inside. With fresh lemon zest included in the recipe this makes for a wonderful fresh summery flavour along with the sweetness of the ripe strawberries.

We used our new Stellar James Martin loose bottomed square cake tin as its the perfect size for this recipe. The non stick coating works extra well when combined with some of our trusty cake release spray. This is a push up loose bottomed tin opposed to the ones with a clip on the side. It worked well for us with no leakages.

The Ingredients:
75g  Butter
190g Silver Spoon® Caster Sugar
3tbsp Honey
1 Egg
1tsp Nielsen Massey Vanilla Extract
1tbsp Lemon Zest
210g NEILL'S® Plain Flour
0.5tsp Bicarbonate Soda
0.5tsp Baking Powder
0.5tsp Salt
150ml Milk
200g Strawberries
Billingtons® Demerara Sugar for Sprinkling

Recommended Equipment:
Food Mixer (Recommended Bosch MUM46A1)
Stellar James Martin Loose Bottomed Square Cake Tin
Pyrex Mixing Bowls
Heston Blumenthal Dual Platform Precision Scale

The How-To:
Preheat oven to 170c.
Prepare the cake tin by lightly greasing or coating with cake release spray. (20cmx20cm cake tin is perfect size).
Add the butter, sugar and honey to a mixer and beat until smooth and creamy.

Beat in the egg.
Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl sieve the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture alternating with the milk until all ingredients are combined.

Pour the batter into the cake tin.
Take the 200g of strawberries, remove the stalks and cut in half.
Place these halves onto the top of the cake batter and lightly press down. Sprinkle with demerara sugar. The strawberries will gradually sink into the cake during baking but dont worry that intentional.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 55-60 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean without any uncooked cake batter on it.
Allow to cool for 15 mins in the tin before turning out to cool completely.

Serve dusted with icing sugar. Delicious with fresh cream or custard.

You're Done!