Looks like cookie…

These are the adventures of Buttered Crumbs, on a five year mission to seek out new comfort foods and new biscuits flavours, to boldly eat cookies….and you get the idea.

Daim bar cookies; this time using a Cornish Fairing recipe as a base. Cornish fairings have great sentimental value for me, I made them for the first time with my late Grandmother, aged ten. They are called fairings because they were traditionally sold at local fairs and were usually flavored with ginger and sometimes lemon peel. The addition of golden syrup helps to create a lovely cracked appearance on top.

Relished by Gentlemen

Much to husband’s disgust I lurve anchovies, pizza without anchovies isn’t a real pizza and there is always a bottle of Worcestershire sauce in the cupboard. Mother introduced me to Gentlemen’s Relish a.k.a Patum Peperium as a young child, so delicious, so savoury, it feels like such a grown up sophisticated treat too. You must use it sparingly though or it makes the eyes water!

Even better and possibly the most delicious thing I have ever tasted, is this recipe for  anchovy paste based on Florence Knight’s recipe in “One- a cook and her cupboard”

5 anchovy fillets

1 small clove of garlic

2 tbsp butter

25g Parmesan

½ tsp each of dried oregano and dried parsley

a sprinkle of black pepper

toast to serve

Makes enough for 4-6 slices of bread. I found this amount too small to make in a blender, it just stuck to the blades and spun round so I used a pestle and mortar. Blend or pound all ingredients together. Spread thickly on toast and brown under the grill. Good by itself or with soft boiled eggs.

anchovy paste

The boys  have successfully been turned over to the anchovy darkside.

BCBO: Chocolate party showstopper

Following small boy’s brief that a chocolate party cake should have “booze in it and be covered in sweets” (which caused eldest son great annoyance, as he disapproves of small boy using the word booze) I present you with the Irish cream chocolate fudge cake. Topped with handmade boozy truffles, sprinkles and flaky chocolate:creamfudge1I simply replaced the sour cream in my favourite chocolate fudge cake with a budget brand of Irish Cream liqueur. You could use good quality bought truffles on top, but don’t forget the sprinkles for the right level of kitsch-chic!

Cake of the month: Victoria Sponge

The winning recipe from the Buttered Crumbs Bake off (drum roll please)……

9oz (270g) golden caster sugar   Golden sugar has a better flavour than white.

6oz (180g) soft butter        You can use a butter substitute but it won’t taste as good.

3 eggs     Medium or large, it doesn’t make much of a difference.

4floz (110ml) milk   Any kind of milk will do the job, it’s about moisture not fat content or animal type! Milk substitutes will be fine too.

8oz (240g) plain flour   You get a better rise from plain flour and baking powder, self raising flour loses it’s effectiveness over time.

1½ tsp baking powder Don’t use “double action” baking powder, it has a tendency to make the cake rise too much and then deflate into a crater!

Grease and line two sandwich tins. Preheat the oven to 170°c/ 160 fan/ Gas mark 4. Using an electric whisk (if you have one) beat together the sugar and butter, then beat in the eggs one at a time.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Add half of the flour to the mixture and beat in, then add half of the milk and beat well. Repeat with the rest of the flour and milk. You could use the all in one method if you want, I just like doing it the old fashioned way.

Divide the mixture between the cake tins and bake for twenty minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a skewer poked inn the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

When completely cool sandwich together with a good quality strawberry or raspberry jam and some whipped cream or buttercream. Dust with icing sugar, dust through a stencil if you want a pretty pattern. Serves 8-12 depending on how greedy you are!

BCBO* Technical Challenge – Victoria Sponge

*Buttered Crumbs Bake Off

Strictly speaking, according to the WI (Women’s Institute) a true Victoria sandwich cake should be layered with nothing more than a good raspberry or strawberry jam and be sprinkled with caster sugar. We live however, in an age of extremes and would be disappointed without cream or buttercream in the middle. Sprinkling with icing sugar allows for creative patterns on the top.

So tonight Crumbies (may I call you Crumbies?) we will be judging between a traditional recipe Victoria sponge, a shop bought equivalent and my own sponge recipe, all sandwiched with jam and buttercream.

Bring those cakes to the judging table!

1. Sainsbury’s own raspberry sponge sandwich: “Sponge sandwich filled with raspberry jam and buttercream, finished with a light sweet dusting” Containing fortified wheat wheat flour (though to be fair, all white flour in England is fortified with calcium, iron, niacin and thiamin) reconstituted egg white, rapeseed oil, palm oil, humectant (glycerine), dried egg, glucose syrup, emulsifiers (mono and diglycerides of fatty acids) and preservative (potassium sorbate). Impressively the buttercream does have butter in it but also contains glycerine, glucose syrup, cornflour, preservative and emulsifier. The “light sweet dusting” is helped along with cornflour and palm oil. All fairly typical of a supermarket cake.

2. The traditional recipe: typically made to a pound cake recipe, meaning equal amounts of fat, sugar and flour. Some people weigh the eggs, others would add two eggs to every four ounces of flour. This cake is sandwiched with homemade buttercream and Ringtons strawberry jam http://www.ringtons.co.uk/  . Dusted with icing sugar.

3. Buttered Crumbs own recipe. Sugar is a natural humectant i.e. it keeps things moist. Increasing the amount of sugar in the recipe enables the reduction of fat and eggs. The resulting sponge is lighter and less greasy tasting. The jam is homemade raspberry made with frozen raspberries bought from a local farm shop.

The judges were asked to rate each cake based on moistness, texture, taste, aftertaste and jam quality, each cake having a potential score of up to 25. Cake 1 scored between 8 and 14, one comment being “could have been worse”, the cake itself was very small and fairly ugly, being misshapen and almost entirely lacking the “light sweet dusting”. It was dry and tasteless as you would expect of a cake made with palm oil but the jam was surprisingly fruity.

Cake 2 received very positive comments: “first bite was like the joy of childhood”, and scored from 17 to 24 points. I was very disappointed by the blandness of the jam, whereas one judge preferred it to the home made (he won’t be getting any tea tonight).

One judge commented on the “powerful” vanilla taste of cake 3, which was interesting considering there was no vanilla in it! Scores ranged from 19 to 25.

Voting with a show of hands was a draw because one judge was at home with a tummy bug. When it came to adding up the numbers though, cake 3 won with a score of 134/150. I wonder what the casting vote would have been?

Blue Muffinday

Here is the recipe for Twilight Sparkle’s healthy muffins which went down a treat, they are basically an oatmeal muffin with a blueberry cheesecake filling and based an a Susan Reimer recipe. They were moist, fruity and delicious suitable for a decadent brunch or dessert.

Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins

for the muffins:

6oz (170g) plain flour

1½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

3oz (85g) rolled oats

8oz (240g) natural yogurt

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 egg

4oz of soft, light brown sugar

3fl oz vegetable oil or melted butter

2fl oz milk

for the filling:

150g/ small punnet of blueberries

juice of half a lemon

2oz sugar

3oz (85g) soft cheese, such as Philadelphia

2tbsp sugar

First of all you need to cook the blueberries. Put them in a small saucepan with the lemon juice and cook gently until soft. Mash them up a bit and stir in the sugar. Simmer gently for another five minutes then put to one side to cool.

Mix the soft cheese and the 2tbsp of sugar in a small bowl.

Makes 12 small muffins or 8 large ones. Line the muffin tin with paper cases and pre heat the oven to 180°c/160 fan/gas mark 4. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, breaking up any lumps with your fingers.Set aside.

In another bowl stir together the oats, yogurt and bicarbonate of soda. Beat in the egg, oil and milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones. Stir with a fork until just combined. NEVER OVERWORK A MUFFIN BATTER! Resist the urge to beat it, it’s not a sponge cake!

Put a spoonful of mixture into the bottom of each muffin case, put a teaspoon of blueberry sauce on top, then a teaspoon of the soft cheese. Divide the rest of the mix between the  cases covering the cheese, pop in the oven for around 20 mins, though it’s best to check after 15 mins if you are making small ones. When they are nicely browned on top they should be done. Cool on a wire rack.

When they are completely cool, make the cheesecake icing by blending 10 oz (300g) of icing sugar with 2½oz (50g) butter and 4oz (125g) of soft cheese. Stir in the remaining blueberry sauce and divide between the tops of the muffins.

Enjoy with a very large cup of tea!

blueberry muff


The Great Buttered Crumbs Bake Off

How long is it till the next series of The Great British Bake Off? Septemberish? Too long at any rate. Yes, I am a Bake Off addict and haven’t missed an episode. I love the whole feel of the show, so nostalgic-ly Britsh, Paul Hollywood’s male posturing, Mary Berry (a national treasure), Mel and Sue’s ridiculous humour and often wonder could I complete the challenges? Could I do better, or would performance anxiety give me a “soggy bottom”?

To fill in the time till the next series I intend to go through each signature bake, technical challenge and showstopper from the very beginning. Bring it on!

Series 1 Episode 1: Cake

Signature bake: A signature bake should be something that say’s a lot about the kind of baker you are. Shouldn’t it also be something you have made on a regular basis (if possible), going in and making something brand new and ambitious as your signature bake, to me say’s “I’m a show off” or “I’m winging it”!

My signature bake is a raspberry sponge made to a recipe I’ve spent the last few years perfecting, filled with homemade gooseberry jelly and clotted cream (or whipped cream when clotted is unavailable) If I need to make a cake at a short notice, this is the one I’m most likely to make. The preserves and fruit can be varied according to the season (blackberries, tayberries, blueberries etc). It can also be made with frozen fruits.raspberry mixraspberry cake 1More on homemade preserves and my special sponge recipe next time, when we look at the technical challenge: Victoria sponge

My Little Brony

Brony: A fan of My Little Pony; Friendship is Magic who is outside of the “target demographic” (i.e. not an eight year old girl) Usually male aged 15-30.

Do you know a brony? Are you related to one? Maybe YOU are the kind of pony every pony should know? Some find an adult obsessed with a program for little girls creepy or disturbing (and let’s face it some of them are) but if you think about it there are worse obsessions for a young man to have, drugs/guns/pornography/famous serial killers. I knew a guy at college who was totally obsessed with Jack the Ripper, surely pastel coloured ponies giving lessons on friendship and being nice are the healthier option. I was skeptical to begin with having never been into “soppy girly stuff” as a child, but the revamped program is actually very good. The makers wanted to make sure that parents were entertained as well, as watching some programs with your child can be a chore (I can’t be in the same room as Mr Tumble) They made it so good though, it has spawned a whole sub culture based on the program.

Why not throw a party for your favourite brony, there is so much scope for invention!

I have a brony, sometimes I kinda am one too. Taking inspiration from the “mane six” (Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity and Twilight Sparkle) and their colours, we arranged a surprise tea party for Eldest Son.

*Rainbow Dash Salad: mixed leaves, tomatoes, beetroot, cucumber, grated carrot, and yellow pepper.rainbow dash saladSweet Apple Acres punch: Fill a large glass jug one third full with a mango based smoothie, add another third of cloudy apple juice, top up with strong cider (or a fizzy apple drink such as Tango). At the last minute add a swirl of grenadine syrup.

Fluttershy’s Cupcakes: A lemon cupcake iced with yellow buttercream and butterfly sprinkles.fluttershy cupcakesPinkie Pie’s: Individual tartlets filled with a pink grasshopper pie fillingpinkie pie piesRarity’s jewel biscuits: Diamond shaped biscuits with a center made from boiled sweets (like a stained glass cookie)rarityTwilight’s healthy muffins: An oatmeal muffin with a blueberry cheesecake filling and topping.blueberry muff

And some very special guests: Madame Le Fleur, Mr Turnip, Rocky and Sir Lintsalotbrony guesthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCDKguHpklM

*All recipes also suitable for eight year old girls (minus the cider)

The Great Curdling Myth

“To the making of books there is no end, and much devotion to them is wearisome to the flesh” – Solomon Ecclesiastes 12:12

This could just as easily read “to the making of cookery books there is no end”, so many books, so many authors, so much conflicting advice. Home baking is the current trend with every chef, celebrity and food writer jumping on the band wagon (hey, I liked cakes before they were fashionable!)

A lot has been said about curdled cake mixture (see picture above) which happens when the butter and/or eggs are not at the same ideal room temperature, the butter doesn’t emulsify fully and you see tiny little blobs of it in the mixture. Most of the information I have read on the subject is negative, from tips on how to “fix” the problem, to the what I consider criminal advice to chuck it out and start again. Which considering the room temperature of the kitchen isn’t likely to have changed much in the last ten minutes, will lead novice bakers to conclude that they are hopeless failures and give up.

So, let me give you the benefit of thirty years of baking experience: as long as the butter isn’t straight out of the fridge IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER!

risencakeBehold! An adequately risen cake (made from the batter in the top picture) with a moist and tender crumb.

Don’t panic! You are probably a better baker than you think, in the end it’s all about practice makes perfect.