Friday, 27 April 2012

April Tea Time Treats Round-Up!

It's the end of April and that means one thing: yep, the round-up of all the terrific Tea Time Treats Easter entries! We've been 'ohhing' and 'ahhing' over your super Simnel Cakes, heavenly Hot Cross Buns, crackin' chocolaty creations and egg-cellent Easter treats...

I'm not sure what the cake to work ratio (cake : work) is where you work, but I want to work at The Kitchen Maid's workplace where they recently held a hot cross bun bake-off! Now that's a Head Judge role I'd happily exchange my right kidney for... Lucy baked this scrumptious Hot Cross Bun loaf, described as having 'all the flavour and aroma of a bun but without the guilt'

Thought Gingerbread Houses were just for Christmas? Think again! The perfect project for Easter weekend, for all the family, and one that would make a marvellous centrepiece to any Easter Tea Time treats table is this gorgeous Gingerbread House from Jude from A Trifle Rushed. Jude has also included a great step-by-step guide to building (and decorating) the house. I'd be very happy to provide a step-by-step guide to eating it!

Jude also very kindly sent us a second entry, these delightful Easter Cupcakes- no doubt a huge hit with her daughter's schoolfriends!

How absolutely adorable are these cute chicks? Sitting atop Hungry Hinny's (aka Natalie) Easter Chick Orange and Almond Flourless Cupcakes? Almost too cute to possibly think about scoffing. I said 'almost' as they are made from marzipan and there aint' no way I'm passing up marzipan no matter how perfectly pretty the chicks are....

You'll have to forgive me, I'm going to have to pop in a second picture. Look there's loads of them! Awww!

From cutie-pie chicks to their mischievousness mates... a few comments on Helen from Fuss Free Flavour's inspired alternative to the traditional shredded-wheat nests suggested the chicks looked a little naughty as they perch on top of these mighty fine Easter Meringue Nests with Jelly Bean Eggs 

Jelly Belly Easter Nests

This next entry, a cracking and ever so clever idea, are these Easter Eggs with a Twist from The More Than Occasional Baker. Ros has baked rainbow coloured cakes inside egg shells. That's right- cake in egg shells! Easter-Cake-Eggs! Genius! 

Under the Blue Gum Tree has baked us these delightful Easter Nest Cupcakes- delicious Vanilla Cupcakes with perfect little nests balancing daintily on top! And despite two of the key ingredients not being available in South Africa, Claire valiantly baked on, with a little help from her sister and an inspired alternative to the traditional Shredded Wheat!

A true Easter treat classic comes courtesy of Janice from Farmer Girl's Kitchen who has baked these Chocolate Krispie Easter Nests. Perfect, I'm sure you'll agree for little (and big!) kids! And how prettily are they presented in the beautiful basket?

A terrific twist on the traditional is this super Simnel Slice from Makey-Cakey. Ruth also has a very enviable workplace- they have a cake rota! I need to be having words with my team manager methinks!

This next Tea Time Treat entry involves the heavenly combination of chocolate, amaretti, chocolate, double cream, coffee, hazelnuts and more chocolate! When I caught sight of this only one word, with possibly too many syllables sprung to mind: 'Hellllllllooooooooooo'! With many thanks to Snowy from Cookbooks Galore for this Easter Chocolate and Coffee Layer Cake

We have another bake-off! Yep, Angela from Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me and her sister spent the lovely long Easter Weekend baking up a storm in the kitchen with these mouthwatering Hot Cross Buns. And the conclusion? That homebaked Hot Cross Buns are always winners!

This next entry is inspired by Easter celebrations in Russia. The Kulich is a light, fruity Easter bread, similar to Pannettone, usually baked in tall cyclindrical tins. Galina from Chez Maximka improvised beautifully with baked bean tins! 

And from Russia to Somerset! Fiona from London Unattached has baked these Somerset Cakes, described as a tasty combination between a spiced shortbread biscuit and a rock cake. In her post, Fiona explores the fascinating history behind these scrumptious seasonal cakes

somerset easter cakes

Although Suelle from Mainly Baking was disappointed with her Hot Cross Buns, finding the buns to be dry and dense, she described the flavour as being excellent! Suelle's received lots of brilliant advice and suggestions from the blogging community on her blog about the buns!


Another really interesting and well-worth-a-read post arrived from The Past on a Plate: Sand Cake! This comes complete with the delicious sounding cream cheese frosting with candied fruit and nut. Lauren writes all about vintage and horical recipes in the context of films or books.

Ren from Fabulicious Food has kindly sent in her Easter inspired Brownies, complete with leftover Mini Eggs. While the concept of leftover Easter sweet treats is alien to me, I definately won't be saying no to this bounty of brilliant Brownies! And how beautiful are Ren's photographs?

Despite the traditional Danish Easter table consisting of herrings, egg and aquavit, Kiki from Kitchen of Kiki unearthered a recipe for these tempting Easter Butter Cookies with Saffron

The next entry is a beautiful celebration cake- not only has Fleur from Homemade by Fleur baked this delicious Pistachio and Rose Cake with Pink Champagne Buttercream to celebrate a special family Easter, but also to celebrate being nominated for a BIB award (Brilliance in Blogging). Many congratulations Fleur!

'Perfect decadence' is how The Botanical Baker, aka Urvashi, described her gorgeous Easter Chocolate Mousse Cakes - a description I couldn't possibly agree more with!

hotel chocolat easter eggs 

Jean, from Baking in Franglais has baked this delightful (and gluten-free) Bird's Nest Cake, complete with prettily coloured layered sponges, ginger jam, mascarpone, flaked almonds and of course the delicious chocolatey eggs! Deeee-lish!

birds nest cake01

How can you possibly better a Hot Cross Bun? Nope, thats not a trick question! The answer? by making a Giant Hot Cross Bun! Just like Laura has on the brilliant How to Cook Good Food. Do you reckon each person still gets to have one each?

Sarah, from the marvellous Maison Cupcake has been busy trying out loads of fantastically fun Easter Chocolate Making sets from Lakeland. There are some great photos of her son Ted enjoying making these egg-scellent Easter treats... as well as some great photos of Ted enjoying eating them!

Lakeland Easter Chocolate Making Kits

Karen, from Lavender and Lovage, my Tea Time Treats co-host has baked not one but two wonderful entries. Firstly, this ever so pretty, and perfect to celebrate Spring, Chocolate Orange Daisy Cake. It was devoured at the very first Clandestine Cake Club in South West France! And the second entry are these Little Easter Egg Daisy Cakes, complete with possibly the best invention in the world of soft cheese ever, chocolate Philadelphia! 

Euan from Signor Biscotti was determined to perfect the cross on his Hot Cross Buns this year. And I'm sure we'd all agree that they look absolutely faultless and utterly divine. With many thanks to Euan for his very first entry into Tea Time Treats

Dom, from Belleau Kitchen has baked a Passover Cake for our now groaning Easter themed Tea Time Treats Table. The delicious combination of apple and almond means I ask only one thing of you Dom- do you do mail order?!

I absolutely adore this next entry- made with love for her children's tea, Tango Like Raindrop has baked these brilliant Easter Egg Cupcakes, complete with cake on the inside and a white chocolate egg shell!

Hannah, from Corner Cottage Bakery had four hot cross buns left over to make into a heavenly Hot Cross Bun Pudding! A super suggestion for using any remaining buns

While wondering what to do with leftover delicious handmade marzipan, Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog came up with the Easter-tastic (it IS a word...I think) Easter Brownies:

April showers are firmly banished with Gill from Tales of Pigling Bland's absolutely delightful Little Lemon Drizzle Cakes- say a big cheery 'Yes please I'll be having seconds' to these pretty floral cakes complete with lilac icing:

This next entry epitomizes Easter, gorgeous half Chocolate and Vanilla Easter Cupcakes by What I Baked This Weekend. Plus they were baked for a very good cause in aid of a work bake sale to raise money for Kids Company:

Wouldn't mind an Easter Tiffin? Nope, me neither! This next entry combines this month's theme with one of my favourite ever bakes: Tiffin! With thanks to Emma from Emma's Kitchen Diary (and her very indecisive boyfriend!)

Chocolate and chilli and sea salt and sherbet and citrus? It could only be this next scrummy entry from Smithy Craft- a Not Just For Easter Chilli Chocolate Cake!

Easter cake cut

Laura, from her aptly titled blog Laura Loves Cake has baked us these super Mini Egg Box Easter Cupcakes which she has presented perfectly in an egg box- a brilliant styling suggestion Laura for Easter!

And here's my own little entry! Easter Cakes! Here's the Simnel Cake:

That's all folks! Thank you ever so much to everyone who has baked for the Tea Time Treats table this month.

Pop along to Lavender and Lovage on the 1st May to hear all about May's Tea Time Treats Challenge! 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A bounty of biscuits: Custard Creams

I one of life's List People.

I live my life by lists. Be it at work, in the supermarket or just life in general, without a list I'm simply lost. Entering a supermarket without a list is way too risky- I'll leave without any of the essentials, such as teabags or loo roll, and instead be weighed down with multipacks of Kit Kats and gin. And I'd end up spending the combined national debt of the Eurozone at our local corner shop. 

And yes, I do add things I've already done to new lists just to have the satisfaction of ticking them off.

And so I decided to make a list of All Things Baking. Subtitle: All the Baking Paraphernalia I Own

All Things Baking

34 baking books
4 spatulas (two red, one blue, one white)
12 assorted sized baking tins and trays (five silicone, six non)
2 weighing scales
14 cake tins, assorted sizes
5 aprons
1 sugar thermometer
5 packs of assorted sugar
1 large cake stand, 2 small cake stands
2 drawers of cake decorations
14 assorted biscuit cutters plus 26 alphabet cutters, 10 numerical cutters
1 pot of baking beans
2 sieves
6 assorted food colourings
3 jars of cinnamon, 1 jar of ground ginger, 1 jar of ground nutmeg, 2 jars of mixed spice, 1 jar of allspice
1 oven thermometer
3 mixing bowls
6 wooden spoons
7 teatowels

I've no doubt you must be thinking one of three things. 

Firstly: 'She needs to get out more'. 

Secondly: 'Who on earth needs five aprons!?'

Thirdly: 'She needs to get on eBay, she'd make a fortune'

This weekend's recipe are a bounty of biscuits, Custard Cream biscuits to be precise, courtesy of Nigella. I'd originally seen the recipe in Good Food magazine (April 2010) but they also feature in Nigella's book Feast.

Baker's notes...

  • These are lovely crumbly, custardy biscuits- certainly superior to shop bought custard creams
  • Nigella's recipe involves heart shaped biscuits for Valentine's, but I thought petals were more Spring-like. And so I also thought to enter these into this month's Forever Nigella blogging challenge, hosted by Lucy from Vanilla Frost
  • And do you like my new biscuit tin (that'll be number 15 then...):

Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Great Rhubarb Weekend: Cake, Crumble and Jam!

Forty eight hours baking. One bountiful crop of rhubarb. Three recipes. 

Spoons at the ready...

The first recipe is inspired by the retro sweet that is Rhubarb and Custard. My very, very first job was working in a sweet shop. In my element selling confectionery, I felt I'd reached the pinnacle of my working life by the age of thirteen- I was paid £1.90 an hour (which comfortably covered the cost of each week's Smash Hits magazine) and could eat as many sweets as I liked. I'll repeat that last bit: I could eat as many sweets as I liked. After I was employed, profits in the first quarter took a nose dive. 

Anyways, back then, boiled sweets such as Rhubarb and Custard didn't really appeal- it was the Bon Bons and Millions that I'd be munching on. But this cake version is a soft, sweet scrumptious version, dotted with creamy custard and bright, cheerful roasted rhubarb. The original recipe is from Good Food magazine May 2009 and can be found right here.

Secondly, we dug into the crumble: a comforting classic if there ever was. 

Rhubarb Crumble

500g rhubarb, diced into 3 cm chunks
110g caster sugar

150g self raising flour
90g butter, chilled
50g demerara sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
Optional: 50g chopped walnuts or almonds or oats

1. Place the rhubarb in a medium-sized baking dish and sprinkle the caster sugar over the top
2. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6. To make the crumble, rub the butter with your finger tips into the flour until it resembles bread-crumbs. Add the sugar and ginger (and optional ingredients if using) and mix together with your hands.
3. Sprinkle the crumble over the rhubarb and using the palms of your hands gently press the crumble down
4. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the rhubarb bubbling up at the sides
5. Serve warm with custard or ice cream

And to complete the trio: Rhubarb and Vanilla jam. This is a recipe that is made year after year because its simple so darn tasty. Another Good Food Magazine favourite (from February 2010) it can also be found here.

Ohh, and here are some pretty pictures of flowers from that lovely spell of sunny weather we had.

This post is being entered into not one but two brilliant blogging challenges: How to Cook Good Food and Working London Mummy's One Ingredient and Ren's Fabulicious Food Simple and In Season: