home made cakes for special days and elevenses

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Random Recipes #9 - Thai Cucumber Cups

This month's Random Recipes Challenge from the lovely Dom at Belleau Kitchen  takes me away from my baking comfort zone and into the unfamiliar world of Thai cuisine. Those of us who contributed to the September challenge were paired up and asked to provide each other with a random recipe. We each had to count our recipe books and ask our partners to randomly pick a book by number, and a page from the book to identify the recipe.

I was paired with Phil from As Strong as Soup, whose blog was new to me, but I am now a keen follower. I counted a total of 46 cook books on my shelves and duly reported back to Phil, with my fingers crossed for a lovely cake recipe.

Phil clearly has quite an imagination as his method for selecting my recipe was most unusual. He divided the serial number of his new lawnmower by its price and then by the frequency of the radio station he was listening to and came up with the number 11. Number 11 was not a baking book, but 'Complete Thai Cooking' by Carol Bowen, Cara Hobday and Sue Ashworth. We picked this book up years ago in a cheap bookshop in Plymouth. Whilst I am not particularly familiar with it, my husband does produce some mean curried noodles using this book, so I still had hope for something good. As I am a vegetarian I was hoping for something that I could eat as I am not in the habit of cooking fancy meat dishes for my husband. I can roast a chicken but it doesn't get much more exciting than that.

Phil came up with a very elaborate means of identifying a page number, using the track listings from various albums he had been listening to that day. I followed Phil's instructions and turned to page 79 with much anticipation, only to find a recipe for Filled Cucumber Cups. At least it was vegetarian.

This recipe involved carving pretty shapes from chunks of cucmber and filling them with a tasty mix of peanuts, lime juice, shallots, chilli and not much else. It also recommended filling cherry tomatoes with the same peanut mix. I thought it sounded a bit dull so I made a few sweetcorn fritters from another page in the book to accompany the cucumber cups, and ended up with a very tasty little plate of Thai starters.

This is a recipe I would never have chosen, which I guess is the point of the Random Recipes challenge. So thank you Dom and Phil, as I thoroughly enjoyed my Thai Cucumber Cups!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Rainbow Fairy Cake - Evie's Birthday Part 2

Today was party day. 30 kids in a massive play gym to celebrate Evie's 6th birthday, (and a husband with even more enthusiasm for somersaults than the kids) . Everyone had a great time, but we are now all shattered. I think this birthday is finally finished.

Evie chose Rainbow Fairy for the theme of her birthday cake, as it is the name of the solo she dances at the festivals. I was very nervous about whether or not my rainbow would stand up, but it did and all was well.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Malteser Cake - Evie's Birthday Part 1

My daughter turned six on Sunday, and though her party is not until next weekend, we could not let the day go by without celebrating. Once swimming lessons and lunch were out of the way we hit the disco, hosted by Dusty, a giant dog.

Once we had exhausted our moves we headed home for a birthday tea with the kids' cousins. This, of course, required a cake. I wanted to keep it simple as the 'real' cake is for next weekend, so we opted for a marble cake covered in Maltesters and Chocolate Fingers. Evie did a lot of the baking herself and was very pleased with the marble effect produced by her 'blobbing'. As far as I could tell there weren't even any bits of eggshell in there. Good work Evie.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Baby Shower Cupcakes

Seeing Astral's recent baby shower post on her blog, The Art of Being Perfect, has reminded me that I have some baby shower cupcakes of my own to post. I made these for a friend at work who is a total red velvet freak and would eat them every day if only she could. Her friend's baby shower gave her perfect excuse to eat a few more. The girls kindly sent me some pictures as I forgot to take any!   

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Nigella's Gleaming Maple Cheesecake

It seems that I am totally hooked on Nigella's cheescakes. I have now found another of her cheesecake recipes that I absolutely love. This one comes from the Nigella Christmas book. It is not a book I own but the recipe is easy enough to find online. I would highly recommend a Google search, as this cheesecake was delicious. The maple syrup is tasty without being overpowering or sickly sweet (unlike my porridge last week when I was a little heavy handed with the maple), and the pecans in the biscuit base are the perfect complement.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Chocolate Crackles from the Great British Bake Off Book

A lovely friend gave me the new GBBO book for my birthday, and this week I have christened it. In other words I have tested a couple of recipes and covered the appropriate pages in smudges of butter and splodges of egg. Whilst I am not a particularly messy baker I can't deny that my cookbooks are a touch grubby. You can spot my favourite recipes as the pages of the book will be stuck together. So my lovely new, shiny Bake Off book is a little less pristine now that I have baked both the strawberry and white chocolate cake and the chocolate crackles.

The book is laid out well with different categories to reflect the themes of each episode of the show. It is full of useful technical tips from Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, and makes for a pretty good read. I would have liked to have seen more pictures of the food as a lot of the recipes are not illustrated. It is usually the photo of the finished product that inspires me to bake something, so for me the book is lacking a little here. 

The two recipes I tried were both successful. Unfortunately the strawberry and white chocolate cake was demolished before I could take any pictures, but I will be making it again some time so will post  pictures then. I also was looking for something easy to bake with my daughter, and picked out the recipe for chocolate crackles. These are not to be confused with chocolate rice crispy cakes (or chocolate crackolates as we called them), which I believe are known as chocolate crackles in Australia. These are chocolate biscuits coated in icing sugar that crack during cooking to reveal the dark chocolate inside.  

These were delicious and very moreish! It was a great recipe to bake with Evie as there was plenty she could do. She also loved the way the little balls of powdered dough changed shape during cooking to become pretty, cracked biscuits. We will definitely be making this one again as well. Next though, I think we will try one of the bread recipes or maybe Holly's delicous looking cheese and onion pie.