Friday, 27 May 2011

On trial - A white chocolate and pear Charlotte

There is a wedding in October and the bride to be wants her cake to be something a little bit different, something more relaxed for a barn wedding. She choose a picture on the net of a Charlotte cake and after much consideration I handed over a trial cake this morning. 

The colours for the wedding are aubergine and ivory and so I decided to do a white chocolate and pear cake. Not a true Charlotte which should be made with mousse but its a start and I will have another go in a few weeks.

So on went the mixer and I started with a white chocolate chip sponge.

To carry on the white chocolate theme I made a white chocolate ganache that I whipped up the next day.

And then came the layering. I used a cake ring lined with the sponge fingers, lightly dusted with icing sugar and then dipped in a light pear syrup (underside only), next came the first layer of sponge (brushed with pear syrup), ganache, a layer of pears and then another layer of sponge, ganache and finally the pears on top. 

I put the whole thing in the fridge over night and finally removed the ring and added the ribbon this morning. 

Left to get back to room temperature the ganache should soften and will hopefully taste great.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Coconut and raspberry cake

I had another little catering job yesterday that required cake. 

This is a gorgeous cake, light and made moist with the addition of the raspberries (unfortunately my raspberries sunk this time around, oh well it would still taste the same).

125g (41/2 oz) butter, softened
275g (9 3/4 oz or 1 1/4 cups) caster sugar
2 eggs
125ml (4fl oz or 1/2 cup) milk
185g (3 1/4 oz or 1 1/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
70g (2 1/2 oz or 1/1/4 cups) desiccated coconut
200g (7oz 0r 2 cups) frozen raspberries
Icing sugar to serve

Preheat the oven to 180, 350F or gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm (8 inch) cake tin.

Beat the butter and sugar using electric whisk, until pale and creamy, then beat in the eggs and milk. Fold the flour, baking powder, coconut and frozen raspberries through and spoon the batter into the tin and bake for around 1 1/2 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin, before removing. Dust with icing sugar once cold and enjoy.

The above recipe serves 8-10, but as I had to serve more I used a 9 inch tin and increased the recipe by 50%, which may account for my sunken raspberries!

Recipe taken from Marie Claire, Seasonal kitchen.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Borlotti bean and chorizo stew (with sausages)

I thought I'd share one of my favourite recipes for a Friday night. Originally made out of necessity one day from things found in the fridge, freezer and cupboard, but it was so nice I wrote it down for future use. It's one of those recipes that you can substitute anything you have and it still tastes fantastic as long as you keep to the top 4 main ingredients listed below.

So the ingredients are as follows:

1 tbl oil - I use Canola or olive oil
Red onions, cut into wedges - as many as you fancy
Garlic - 3 or more cloves - up to you, smashed not crushed
A lump of Chorizo - cut into cubes 
2 x tins or frozen Borlotti beans
1 x tin of chopped tomatoes
1 red chilli - chopped
8 sausages - of any description 

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onions, chorizo and garlic and cook until slightly tinged around the edges. Remove from the frying pan and add to a casserole dish.

 In the same pan add the sausages and brown. Add these to the casserole.

Also add the chilli, tomatoes, one drained tin of beans and one tin with the juice.

I usually have my beans cooked from dried and stored in the freezer ready for use, but this week I didn't have any and used one tin of Borlotti and one tin of Haricot. I also didn't have a fresh chilli but I do always have some chilli paste and dried flakes, so I added a bit of both (as much or as little as you like it).

Top up with water to just cover and put in a medium oven for about one and a half hours or until thickened up.

Serve in a bowl with crusty bread. 

It would also make a really delicious soup if the sausages were left out and more liquid added. 

Thursday, 19 May 2011

A last some wool work.

Finally, I have a little bit of crocheting going on.

It's my friends wedding in just 4 weeks tomorrow and not only am I starting to panic about the cake but I still don't have a firm decision on an outfit to wear. Oh well whatever I decide at least I should have a nice new wrap, I have cover up those bat wings some how!

It's a beautiful yarn and what makes it even better is that I got it in a sale for just under £2.00 a ball, instead of the usual £8.99.

I found the pattern on Ravelry - here

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Walking this week.

Bertie and I have been on a couple of really nice walks this week, starting off on Sunday at Lily Hill Park in Bracknell. Everywhere you look there are Rhododendrons and azaleas flowering, just beautiful!

Purples, reds, pinks and white.

Some with markings just like orchids.

And even eyelashes

Other flowers too but they just pale into insignificance really.

This morning we returned to our usual haunt, but what a surprise I got just as we entered the field. A young stag ran straight across our path (Not that Bertie noticed). Unfortunately I didn't have my camera ready so only managed to get a couple of pretty awful pictures, but I was so thrilled to see it. Once he was at a safe distance he just watched us very carefully, too far away for a photo opportunity, but fantastic all the same.

And then back to the flowers.

Monday, 9 May 2011

New for old.

This little cupboard has been sitting around for probably 15 years waiting for me to do something with it, so I finally pulled it out of the shed for a bit of a makeover and it was definitely the worse for wear after the years of neglect. 

So neglected in fact that it had a mouse skeleton inside.

And now - The inside

The outside

And completed with its finishing touches.

A recent buy from the auction also provided me with an opportunity to revamp a bevelled mirror.


And now.

Hopefully the mirror will now sell on Ebay!