Speculoos

I’ve always loved these biscuits be it when they are called speculoos, speculaas or spekulatius. They are dark, highly spiced biscuits with a caramalised sugar taste. Traditionally they are baked in some parts of the continent for St Nicholas Eve (5th December). St Nicholas Eve is the night where, as a child, you leave your shoes by the fireplace. If you’ve been good all year you’ll wake in the morning to find a shoefull sweet treats. If you’ve been less than angelic you’ll find some sticks.

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Brussel Sprout Wreath

The halls are beginning to get decked, the high streets are adorned with lights that are switched on by minor celebrities and tomorrow is the first Sunday in advent. Every household has its own traditions over the festive season, we have many. One being that I make a wreath to hang on the door during Christmas. Over the years they have evolved from a quite traditional wreath to last year’s alternative, yet still festive, creation. Read the rest of this entry

Cold Smoking with Seasoned

Seasoned is a Midlands based cookery school run by Clare Tetley. Not only does she run a business providing  fabulous day courses throughout Derbyshire & Shropshire she has a brownie recipe to die for. I met Clare back in September 2010 when I started my business and we have worked on various projects over the last year. As Hubs has dabbled with smoking food in the past, he helped Clare road test a food smoking course that is now available through Seasoned. Both Hubs & I believe smoking has the amazing ability to transform a food. I certainly believe a bacon sarnie tastes even better if the bacon is smoked.

Essentially there are two ways of smoking food. Smoking food at home doesn’t require lots of expensive equipment. Read the rest of this entry

Red Velvet Cakes

Today Hubs leaves a company he’s been with since he graduated and is heading to the big smoke of Derby to be a big, bossy, managerial engineer kind of thing. His current workmates have been testers for my baking experiments over the years from the Beetle Cakes (that left some horrified) to not so successful bakes that, because they are blokes, were still politely inhaled.

As part of his leaving day I promised to bake anything they requested and that meant Red Velvet and Lardy Cake. Two bakes that I’ve never made, let alone tasted. While Red Velvet cake is a big trend at the moment it’s yet to hit the rolling hills of Derbyshire. The Lardy Cake disturbed me. During baking stage the lard, of which I hate the smell of in the first place, leeches out of the bread and essentially fries the bottom of the bread. Then when it’s cooling in the tin the bread soaks it back up again. Read the rest of this entry

When baking goes bad

Every once in a while things go wrong in the kitchen. Grand ideas turn into unmitigated disasters. As requested by twitter here is the blog to prove that sometimes baking does go wrong, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a learning experience and sometimes the ugliest baking tastes the best.

We won’t talk about the breadmaking class ran few weeks ago where thanks to getting distracted by chatting to the students and answering questions I managed to overknead the dough. This then turned into a lesson on what happens when you over knead dough and showed that while the dough would no longer be good for a loaf of bread, it would certainly be acceptable for pizza dough. Then there was the time I baked a banana bread as a present for a friend, I was busy and made a silly ingredient substitute leading it to cook much faster in the over, hence burnt cake. Many problems with baking can be solved with a reliable cooker, or at least using a thermometer so you know what temperature your oven is but there are times when it can be a problem with ingredients.

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Quick Cheese & Onion Rolls

As some of you know I teach cookery. In one of my roles I’m an Adult Education Tutor at evening classes of which I thoroughly enjoy. The women in one particular group have helped to shape what they would like to learn this term. They all mentioned how they wanted to master bread. Unfortunately in the 2 hour time frame it isn’t easy to make good bread from start to finish due to the rising time needed. So a few weeks ago we made Calzone as an introduction to yeasted bread making then this week we are making non-yeasted cheese & onion rolls to accompany the soup we are also making in class.

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Baked Bean Tin Christmas Cake – pt 1

Before I get chastised for writing a C*&^%$£~s post in October the organised amongst you will be beginning to prep for festive baking time. While Stir-up Sunday, when you traditionally make Christmas Pudding, isn’t until 20thNovember, now is the time to start on the cake to give it sufficient feeding time. A Christmas Cake that hasn’t been stuffed to the gills with alcohol is deemed as substandard in this house. This is the recipe I’ve used for years, and after many request to stop keeping the recipe close to my chest here it is. It’s from a 2005 edition of Prima magazine and produces a lovely moist fruit cake. Read the rest of this entry

Shiny Disco Balls (aka Rum Truffles)

On Monday I was left with the quandary of what to do with left over cake trimmings, though to be honest left over cake in this house is a rare sight. As a child I had a fondness for Rum Truffles. The best ones being from a local bakery called Mellors. These rum truffles were huge, but that could also be due to nostalgic hindsight, just like Wagon Wheels and Monster Munch used to be bigger back then. We also used to make them at home. All I could remember was that is was cake crumbs, rum essence and not much else.

At 6am Monday morning when I was trying to remember the recipe, Google was no help. No help what so ever. A thousand and one recipes for cake pops and the like and fancy truffles with all sorts of ingredients added, but nothing like the simple recipe I could barely remember. Read the rest of this entry

Beetle Forest Gateau

Those of you with entomophobia (fear of insects) may want to look away now. When I heard that the first Derby Clandestine Cake Club theme would be Trick or Treat I knew that last year’s Black Beetle Cakes would have to make a reappearance but in a slightly different form. The Clandestine Cake Club (CCC) has strict rules: no brownies, muffins, cookies pies or tarts and don’t even think of darkening the door with cupcakes. We’re talking big cakes that can serve 8-12 people. Derby’s first CCC was hosted by A Wannabe Foodie.

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Raspberry Milkshake Cheesecake

As I teach cookery I’m often left with random ingredients in the house. After last week’s class of carrot cake with cheesecake icing I was left with a load of cream cheese. Hubs dislikes, no I mean hates, cream cheese unless it is hidden and he can’t taste it. This means most savoury dishes were out and just one simple sweet dish remained; Baked Cheesecake. During the summer cookery school I ran we made mini baked cheesecakes that went down really well and it meant I would be able to use ingredients I already had in the house. Read the rest of this entry

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