Monday, 29 September 2014

Monday Catch Up: Busy Week Ahead!

Its a late Monday Catch-Up, sorry about that. It's because I've had an extra long to-do list today.
So last week we covered having 10 minutes to myself to relax, I've been working on it. I'm not going to lie, its been maybe 5 minutes tops that I have to myself. I working on it.

I've been gathering bits and pieces for a Halloween party that me and Rob are throwing at the end of the month. I've also been obsessively search Pinterest for pumpkin recipes and fun Halloween food bits to serve. Its that time of year where its: pumpkin, pumpkin, PUMPKIN!!!
You know whenever you host a party, you go over the top, serve too much food and just over do the whole thing. You kind of end up so wacked out before the party even starts. This year we've planned a relaxed, chilled approach to the party, but with added tacky games. This is also the first party that me and Rob are going to host, as a couple, so we'll see how my uber organised powers are when faced with Mr Last Minute.

Also, I'm glad that I'm busy this week because more I get a reward at the end. This weekend I'm off to Earls Court for the Cake and Bake Show. I'm so buzzed for it because I'm going with my equally cake loving friend Lucy. I'm meting her there and we're going to stuff our faces, buy some cake stuff and its going to be amazing. (Last time I spent so much money....) I didn't really blog about the Cake and Bake Show in 2012 because I didn't think readers would be interested. I'm thinking of doing a follow up post on it, but what do you think?
Do you wanna see a Cake and Bake Show 2014 post?

Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 26 September 2014

Fat Friday #9 Traditional Souffle

Welcome to the start of the weekend, but before that its that time of the week! NO, NOT BATH DAY! Its Fat Friday! This week we're looking at a traditional pastry cream soufflé. I've been practicing this with my pastry class. The recipe below features a spiced crumb which is worth making a couple of days before as it can be a lot for one day. This makes a good airy dessert, and also fairly impressive sounding at dinner parties. Mind you, you still wont get 10/10 on Come Dine with Me, because you forgot to match the wine....

Recipe: Makes 4 souffles (Recipe provided by my tutor)

Pain D’Epices (French Spiced Bread):

·       125g Strong flour
·       125g Plain flour
·       20g Baking powder
·       50g sugar
·       1 teaspoon cinnamon
·       1 teaspoon nutmeg
·       1 teaspoon star anise
·       30g candied peel
·       Seeds from one Vanilla pod
·       Grated orange zest
·       Grated lemon zest
·       250g warm honey
·       125ml whole milk
·       165g (about 3) eggs

Pastry Cream/Crème Patisserie
  • 40g sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 25g soft flour
  • 30g corn flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, split

  • 4 egg whites
  • 40g sugar

  • Bowl
  • Whisk/hand-held electric whisk
  • Chopping Board
  • Saucepan
  • Knife
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Measuring Jug
  • Teaspoon
  • Tablespoon
  • Timer
  • 4 Ramekins
  • Baking sheet covered with a damp tea towel
  • Cling Film
  • Piping bag
  • Scissors
  • Blender
  • Loaf tin lined with silicone paper
Pain D’Epices Bread

1.    Preheat the oven Gas Mark 2/ 300f/150f .

2.    Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl, along with the zests, peel and vanilla seeds. Mix briefly.
3.    Add the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Place in the prepared loaf tin and bake for 40 minutes or until golden.
4.    Leave to dry for at least 24 hours or until very dry.
5.    In a blender, blend until fine breadcrumbs.
For the Pastry Cream
1.    Pour the milk in a saucepan. Add the vanilla seeds and the pod, bring the milk to the boil.  2.    Beat the sugar and egg until a pale yellow, thick and cream. Whisk in the flour and cornflour.
3.    Remove the vanilla bean from the milk, and stir ½ of the milk into the egg yolk mixture and whisk well to combine.

4.    Return the all of the mixture to a saucepan on a low heat and whisk continuously until the pastry cream is thick and yellow.

5.    Place the pastry cream in a clean bowl and cover the surface with cling film. Put aside to cool and refrigerate until needed.

Preparation for the Ramekins:
1.    Chill ramekins in the fridge for as long as possible.
2.    Melt a little butter in a saucepan.
3.    Meanwhile get a tray lined with a damp teatowel ready.
4.    Using a pastry brush, brush the bottom of the ramekin and the sides using vertical strokes. Chill the ramekins in the fridge.
5.    Line the ramekins with the pain d’epices crumbs and place in the fridge until needed.

To Complete the Souffle:
1.    Whisk 400g of egg white with 20g of sugar. Continue to whisk and gradually add the remaining sugar until the egg whites are very fluffy.
2.    In a clean bowl, whisk the pastry cream to loosen.
3.    Mix the egg whites with the pastry cream until combined.
4.    Divide the mixture into the prepared ramekins using a piping bag, level with a palette knife, then pinch the sides to create an even soufflé bake.

5.    Bake at Gas Mark 4/350c/180c for 16 minutes, turning carefully once after 6 minutes they should be golden and very fluffy.

Have you tried a soufflé before? Have a great weekend and Happy Baking!

Bake On! Penny x

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Penny's Top Ten Tips #6 Moving In

Nearly the weekend is upon us. Its within grasp but for now it's only Thursday and that means Penny's Top Ten Tips. This one is close to my heart.

I left home when I was 16 but I stayed with my grandparents to study hospitality and cookery at college. I then moved away for university as a fresher! I enjoyed the experience of meeting people and introducing myself to the uni scene. However, my fun experience was cut short as a family member ended up in hospital and it was looking grim... It turned out fine and the family member made a full recovery. It was an eye opening miracle and I wasn't ready to fly the nest after that, so I moved back with my grandparents until graduation. Its only in my early twenties, that I've decided to take the plunge with Rob (the boyfriend) and move in together. I'm a total fresher* when it comes to really looking after myself, but lucky for me, I've got a very patient and supportive boyfriend. So here is my list on moving into your first rented house...
(*Doesn't mean I'm totally incompetent at looking after myself.)

1. The move won't get done in a day-
Don't be under the illusion that you will be all done with the unpacking in an afternoon. It will be a slow and gruelling process finding where your stuff is going to live and what stuff you forgot to pack... Trust me on this, don't rush the unpacking process it will take a little time, depending on how much you have, set aside a couple of hours a day to unpack a little at a time. 

2. Bring some cleaning materials-
When moving in, I cleaned the place from top to bottom. It was more like a mass sterilisation of the place. But the previous tenants left the place in a state, so we didn't have much choice. Here's the list (within the list) of cleaning products that I recommend that you take (just in case):
  • Mop and mop bucket
  • Indoor brush
  • (outdoor brush if needed)
  • White clothes
  • Washing up bowls
  • Washing up liquid
  • Bleach
  • Bleach spray
  • Window cleaner
  • Cleansing Surface Wipes
  • Scrub brush
  • Green scrub cloths
  • Toilet brush
  • Bathroom cleaner
  • Paper towels

3. Take pictures-
Make sure you take any pictures of any damages, the gas and electric meters. This is to avoid any shocking bills that you may be send, if and when you move out (This will also get your deposit back if you live student accommodation).

4. Get to know your landlord/lady-
Be polite, get their number and get to know them a little, without being a stalker. Unless its a real emergency, treat them like you would an office, call from 9-5pm Monday-Friday. Why? Because no one wants a call at 8pm at night asking how to switch the oven on. When you have an issue its alot more easier to deal with a landlord that likes you. 

5. Family Help-
If your lucky enough to have parents to help you move in, let them. Moving into a place is not the easy and taking advantage of all the help you can will save you lots of time and effort in the long run. Also they may have some knowledge about certain electrical items or how the boiler works perhaps? Its harder to explain that over the phone. 

6. Sort out the bills and suppliers-
The faster you get bills sorted, the better. No-one wants a threatening letter from the water company about that unpaid bill that you got...about 6 months ago...

7. Scope the area-
Does your area have a convenience store? A near-by doctors surgery? Its a good idea to look around your new area to see what is near you. If you haven't got much near you, get to know where the nearest public transport is. 

8. Get to know the neighbours-
I think this is quite important because if you blank your neighbours, they will blank you. What will happen if your missing post and its going next door? But you have no clue about it because you weren't nice enough to introduce yourself to your neighbours in the first place, so they can't return your letters to you! Just exchange pleasantries and see where it takes you. You may find yourself a good friend in the process.  

9. Don't forget your friends-
Once you've moved in tell your friends where you've gone by sending them a change of address cards. It might be worth throwing a house party to show off your new house and to invite your friends to party!

10. Make it your own-
Photo frames of loved ones, pillows, flowers will make your new home more, you. The more little touches you add to your house, the more it will feel like a comfortable place to live. It will take a little time for your new place to feel comfy and homey. 

How did you feel when you first moved? Do you have any tips for moving in?

Bake On! Penny x

Monday, 22 September 2014

Monday Catch Up: So I Forgot How To Relax (What?!)

Its the start of the working week for some people, most people

in fact. Its odd because my weekend has suddenly got shifted and I've got a couple of days off. Which for me never happens. Ever. I never have a moment to relax. 
I'm not going to lie and announce I'm superwoman (because that would be epic). Its more about finding a moment to sit down and relax. But always (seriously, always) I'm on the move and busy, I've sort of forgotten how to relax....Work, classes, housework, or life in general, it can get on top of me. It happens to everyone of course and they say: "Right it's time for me now."
Even when attempting to relax I'm always up to something. Either, I'm doing a quick spruce up of the coffee table or making a to do list. This has always been overlooked by most people. Except a couple of nights ago when my boyfriend (who is the king of chilling out) noticed I when I was stressed out about the housework (the housework that didn't really need to be done... until the next day...). He said that I'm so wrapped up in my stress that its no wonder I find it hard to relax or sleep. Take a break, even if its 10 minutes.
I was very defensive about it, but reflecting on it. He has a point, so thats what I've decided to do. Everyday I'm taking 10 minutes to do something for myself. He made me realise that's if your not recharged mentally, how can you balance all the other aspects of life? Thats sort of the reason why this post is short this week.
How do you relax? Do you have trouble winding down? 
Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 19 September 2014

Fat Friday #8 September Apple Cake

I think most people have recipes that they often go back to again and again. This one is a favourite autumnal recipe that I try and make whenever I have some cooking apples available. This apple cake is also great for on the go or even better when its heated and laced with custard. 
Erg...This is just sexy...

Recipe: Makes 1 large cake  (Recipe Adapted from Cooking Up a Storm by Sam Stern

·      75g unsalted butter, softened
·      175g golden caster sugar
·      2 large eggs
·      255g plain flour, sifted 
·      2 teaspoons baking powder
·      The zest from 1 lemon

·      675g/2 large cooking apples
·      1 tablespoon orange marmalade      
·      1/2 teaspoon ground mixed spice
·      1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·      2 tablespoons whole milk
·      A little dusting of icing sugar to decorate

·       1 large cake tin lined with baking paper
·       Electric mixer/hand-held electric whisk
·       Sieve
·       Peeler/Sharp knife
·       Knife
·       Tablespoon
·       Teaspoon
·       Grater
·       Wooden Spoon

1.  Pre heat the oven to 180c/350c/ Gas mark 4. Line the cake tin with the baking paper.
2. Peel, core and chop the apples into small chunks. 
3. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale, add the eggs and beat until all combined 
4. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into the creamed mixture and fold until combined  
5. Gently fold in the chopped apples, marmalade and lemon zest. Pour the batter into the cake tin.
6. Bake for 1 hour and test to see if the cake is cooked by prodding the middle with a clean knife. If it comes out clean, its done.
7. Place on a wire rack until completely cool and then dust a little icing sugar on top.    

Do you have go to recipes? What's your favourite autumnal recipe?
Bake On! Penny x

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Penny's Top Ten Tips #5 Blogger Block

Can you believe its already week 5 into top ten tips? Wow!!
Its been a been great so far. We've had Graduation Week Tips, Planning the Perfect Picnic, Party Prep for Grad Balls, and How to write a Restaurant Review. This week I'm giving you my top ten tips on Blogger Block. Its like writers blog but for bloggers. You get the gist, not lets get to the list!

1. Read, read, read-
When I say this, I'm not limiting this to blogs. Magazines, newspapers, books and web articles can not only expand your views and keep you informed of the latest news, but it may provide you with some blogging ideas.

2. Join social networks-
My personal favourites are Pinterest and Bloglovin. I am so glad (and grateful) that I found these websites. Bloglovin is a great way to read all your favourite blogs in one place. Not only does it get your name out in blogosphere,  you get a reading list of all the latest posts of your favourite blogs, which provides you with some good reading and inspiration. You can also save your favourites for future reading. This applies to Pinterest, you can save recipes for further reading or just gorge on food porn for inspiration.

3. Do something outside of the comfort zone-
I'm a food blogger and its highly unusual that I do anything but blog about food. Sometimes there are exceptions, such as this top ten list, like this one! But why not do a beauty post? How about fitness? A crafty post about that awesome papermache mask that your kid did? Its your blog and you can post whatever you like.

4. I think I'd like to phone a friend Penny-
You never know a friend or family member that may have a good idea to blog about. They may even want to write a post for the blog, if they fancy a go.

5. Lists never fail-
Top ten lists (again like this) can be a blogging life saver. If you are stuck and haven't got a clue what to write about then go with a list. Favourite product list, best playlist for jogging etc. You get the gist.

6. Take a walk-
Sitting at a computer and hoping for something to pop in your head... well it can happen but often it doesn't. Switch off the computer and go for a walk. No-where special, maybe just down to the shops just to clear your head. You may find that walk will do you a world of good and it may turn out to be a eureka moment.

7. Quality not Quantity-
No matter how much writer blockage you have (is that a thing?), I think consistency is very important when running a blog. But I also think publishing something for the sake of  publishing can result in a poor quality post. Time management is the key here. Write a good decent post about something your passionate about as people can see through something that's fake or just been posted to meet a deadline.

8. Write it down-
If you have a single vague idea, don't let it escape you. Write it down somewhere your going to see it, and not on a post-it. They will go missing.

9. Pictures speak louder then words-
Looking at old photos of you and your family may spark an idea. When I came up with Two Toned Icing Cupcakes, it was really an excuse to celebrate my friend Naomi leaving the UK for an amazing job opportunity but it was by looking at old pictures of me and my friend that the idea came about. (Luckily, Naomi is back!! So yay!!!)

10. Teamwork-
Maybe its worth writing with someone else. That is rather then you or someone else write the post by yourself, you work as a team instead.

I hope you've enjoyed this weeks Penny's Top Ten Tips.
What do you do when dreaded blogger block hits?

Bake On! Penny x

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Baking Basics 101: Rubbing in

Hello and welcome to another Baking Basics 101! This week its focusing on the rubbing in method, (please keep all jokes to the end).

What is this process? Its using your fingers to rub a dry ingredient, such as flour, into a fat such as butter or lard. So why do you use this technique? As you rub the flour into butter, the flour gets coated in a layer of butter, which creates a sort of protective coat and this changes the texture of the end product to a crumbled texture.
  • Sieve
  • Bowl
  • Knife
  • Chopping board
  • Microave if needed
  • Fingers and Hands
1. Cut up the butter into cubes and place in a bowl, microwave the butter if its still cold.
2. Place the dry ingredients into the same bowl.
3. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour.
4. You should start seeing that the mixture is turning crumbley. This is the butter and flour combining.
Recipe that use this technique:
Apple Crumble (Oh yeah I love this recipe!!)
Soda Bread

If there's a method you'd like to learn and want me to write about, please comment below or let me know on facebook or twitter with the hashtag #bakingbasics101
Bake On! Penny x

Monday, 15 September 2014

Monday Catch Up: New Beginnings (it sounds epic right?)

Its been a little over a week since I've moved in my flat with my boyfriend. We've been getting on pretty well. I mean its going really well. Its a little surreal that we've finally moved in, like a proper couple. Like a couple of grown-ups (heh... not really Penny...). I'm not sure what to really write here because, and I know its cliché, but its going perfectly. I'm almost expecting someone to come in and burst the coupley bubble. I'm so happy and I think Robs pretty happy too. Well, he should be, hes living with a pastry chef in training!

Speaking of cheffing, I've just started my pastry course. On the first day my stomach was a concoction of excited and very intimidated. The other trainee's are really qualified and are so creative,talented and they are so friendly. Like amazingly lovely. I think its sort of jittery nerves and the fear of I'm not good enough. Is that normal? Do any of you readers get like that? I think nerves are normal. I don't think I would be human if I didn't worry. 
After that first day, I've walked away with my head held high with more friends,the talk of going to cook in a restaurant, trips to Paris and learning alot of gastro-delights. I'm thrilled and really excited. Its going to a great ride, will you join me in it?

That's it for this weeks Catch-up Monday. Stay tuned for next weeks instalment.

Bake On! Penny x

Friday, 12 September 2014

Fat Friday #8 Basic Fruit Batter

That's another week done and over with, of course you know what that means. Its Fat Friday! This week is kind of a throwback day as I've been trying to sort out loads of stuff with my pastry course and moving in my new place with my boyfriend (its been two days and we haven't killed each other...yet...) so its been hard to do something fancy and way cool. So this week you'll have to settle for Basic Fruit Batter. I first made this in my first pastry course and has been sitting idle for about a year unpublished on the blog. Oops on my half. Also I kind of felt that battering fruit was bad for you, but that was back before the time of Fat Friday*
*I'm not saying eat all fruit in batter. Please consume in moderation

Recipe: Basic Batter (My own)
·       450g plain flour
·       Pinch of salt
·       6 egg yolk
·       450ml white wine
·       90ml oil, plus extra for frying
·       Fruit of your choice (We used pineapple, apple, pear and kiwi. Kiwi was the best! Seriously, don't knock it until you try it.)
·       Bowl
·       Whisk
·       Frying pan with oil /deep fryer
·       Fork or a slotted spoon
·       Sieve
·       Jug
·       Knife
·       Chopping board
·       Plate with about 200g of sugar and 20g cinnamon 

    1. Peel the fruit, core the apples, pears etc so that it’s in rings. (Don't do this for kiwis, strawberries or other small fruit.)
2. Sieve flour into a bowl and add salt.
3. Make a well in the middle, and whisk in the eggs. Add the white wine and oil and mix well until it looks like a lumpy but wet mixture.
4.Heat up the oil in a frying pan/fryer to about 180c or until the oil is hot enough for frying. To test if it's hot enough, place a drop of batter into the oil once the batter starts to crisp and bubble, the oil is hot enough.
5. Coat the fruit with the batter, place into the hot oil and cook for 3-4 mins or until the batter has turned a golden colour. (Please be careful at this stage as there is a burn risk.)
6.Place into a plate of cinnamon sugar and roll around to coat. Serve. 

What fruit would you batter? Would you stop at fruit?
Happy Friday and Happy Baking 

Bake On! Penny x
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