Thursday, 29 September 2011

Toffee Apple Muffins

So remember how summer was 'over'? Apparently the weather's had different ideas and is treating us to one last blast of sunshine before everyone heads back to uni...and who am I to complain? Plus it means that I can pack away all my jumpers ready for the Oxford winter, and still have things to wear for the next few days. Excellent. So this week I've given up on work really, and have been preparing mentally and physically (packing, not working out, although I have become rather addicted to a Zumba game over the last few days) to go away again, and of course that means baking. These toasty-warm lovelies don't really go with the weather, but we had some good homegrown apples this week and I wanted to use them. And toffees.

Adapted from the 'Apple Spice Muffins' recipe in 'Muffins fast and fantastic' by Susan Reimer
9oz plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3oz caster sugar
1 egg
6oz chopped apple 
150ml milk
90ml sunflower oil (or 85g melted butter)
about 7 toffees, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees for a fan
Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and sugar in a large bowl, and in another bowl beat the egg. Stir the chopped apple, milk, and oil/butter into the egg until its all nice and eggy. 
Pour the eggy-apple mix into the flour bowl and stir, adding the toffee pieces in the final few stirs. The batter will be quite gloopy and lumpy so don't worry! 
Fill muffin cases and sprinkle with demerara or brown sugar and bake for about 25 minutes until they're golden brown. Take the muffin cases out of the tin as soon as poss, as the toffee WILL leak everywhere and if it cools you won't get the cases out at all. 
Soak the pans so no-one else sees the mess.
Enjoy the melty, spiced apply cakes.

Note the crater where some toffee was?

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Daerie Queene

See what I did there? It's like 'The Faerie Queene'...but cheese related. Was going to go for something about Cheesus, but thought that may stray too far into tasteless territory. And considering just how tasteFUL my day was yesterday, I would not want that. Not at all. And the incredibly tasty day was had at The Great British Cheese Festival at Cardiff Castle. Now my family loves a good food fair, but never before have I been to one devoted entirely to such a foodstuff. And never before have I eaten so many very different cheeses at one would be impossible to list them all but our fridge is now very well stocked with our favourites. Including an adorable little box of mini cheesecakes in all different flavours...bakewell tart cheesecake anyone? Now into my last week at home before back to university, and so many things to do! Hope everyone's weekends were brielliant 


Chaucer cheese? definitely a good thing

Sweet and savoury smooth cheeses from Sancler...heavenly.


Monday, 19 September 2011

Hazelnut-Choc-Chunk Cookies

Really, I can claim no credit for these 'crunchy on the outside, nuttily sweet and soft on the inside' beauties. The recipe is shamelessly stolen from my sisters lovely blog , the only difference being me FORGETTING to add oats. How does that happen? I love oats! So as you can see, I rolled a few of the dough balls in oats to assuage my guilt slightly. And in place of dark chocolate chunks I used some cheeky Green and Blacks Butterscotch chocolate I found in the baking cupboard. Mmmmm. And nice for a change, but next time I make these I'll revert to dark I think, to showcase the hazelnutty dough.

Sarah's Choc Chunk 
Hazelnut Oaties

8oz butter
4 oz caster sugar
5 oz dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla syrup 
5 oz plain flour 
4 oz bread flour (or just 9oz plain)
50g chopped up chocolate and hazelnuts
50g oats
Preheat the oven to 160 ish for a fan
Cream the butter and sugars together until they have a buttercream-like consistency, then add the egg and vanilla and beat again till smooth.
Sift the flour(s) into the bowl and fold in with a spoon, then add the chocolate, nuts, and oats (optional apparently)
The dough will be quite stiff. Put it in the fridge and forget about it...go have lunch, cuppa tea, tiddlywinks match, whatever you fancy just let the dough to chill a bit so your butter doesn't melt the cookies all over the place when in the oven. Then when you're ready and the dough's nicely chilled, place balls of it onto lined sheets and bake for 12-15 mins until golden.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Plumble Cake

Warm out the oven with a nice blob of cream...mmm

 Plum + Crumble = Plumble
 Makes perfect sense, see? It seems strange that I haven't done a good recipe post in a while, but then my baking recently hasn't been all that picturesque I have to admit. There were some cookies that spread and glooped everywhere, a Peanut Butter slice that just screams 'heart attack' and some failed macaroons. But nothing I was aching to blog about (these beauties aside of course.) But we ended up with quite a lot of greengages recently which were going a bit squishy, and so I decided to use these lovely little plums before they went to voila! It isn't the prettiest thing, but then Autumn baking is all about comfort complete with sweet, caramelly stewed fruit. At least in my head it is.  

 And imagine my suprise to find a wonderfully similar-ish looking cake on one of my baking-blog-crushes Desserts for Breakfasts  posted just today! Although her photos are incredible and the whole thing is a far more elegant homage to these 'ugly green plums' as they're named on her blog...

Plumble Cake
Adapted from ‘Good Housekeeping’ magazine Oct 2011 (despite the fact it is September, I never understand why magazines insist on doing that)

100g butter
50g dark brown soft sugar
150g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
100g sour cream
200g self raising flour
6 greengages and a large plum, chopped into wedges

For Crumble topping
50g butter
50g Demerara sugar
100g flour
(or any crumble topping of your choice)

Preheat oven to 160 for a fan oven and line a baking tray. Beat the butter and sugars with a whisk or electric whisk (this time, shock horror, I actually whisked it by hand, and it ended up lovely and light…victory!) until it’s nice, creamy and non-grainy looking.
Then gradually whisk in the eggs and sour cream (it may curdle a tiny bit but don’t worry, the flour will take care of that) Fold in the flour till no more lumps show, then spoon it into the baking tray. 
Lay the greengage and plum slices on top in a completely non-necessary pretty pattern (optional) then sprinkle the crumble topping over the whole thing. Bake for around 40 minutes until golden on the top and smelling deliciously fruity.  

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Summer Adventure #4 and a bit more...Art at Rococo

So it isn't really summer anymore, but I'm still on vacation till october so the 'Summer Adventures' series will continue. But the increasingly autumnal feel in the air does justify me posting these two pieces from the woods of Rococo Gardens. Firstly an adorably rustic set of chairs, bench and Noughts and Crosses set that we happened upon completely without ceremony in the middle of their Bluebell Woodland Walk

 And a bit further on was my favourite sculpture in the whole Gardens, 'Conkers' by Pete Higgs. It doesn't really need much explaining and brought a huge smile to everyone who passed it. Definitely an ambassador for a great autumn tradition and a fantastic piece of art to boot. 

Best. Conker.Match. Ever.
This week seems to have flown away with me, and I can't think of what I've been doing!Last saturday was a fantastic day out at the Organic Food Fair in Bristol (although sadly I didn't take any pictures as I was too busy eating the samples) topped off with lunch at the Pieminster Cafe and a possible sighting of Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall. Me and Sarah maintain it was definitely his curly back of the head and as no one else we know was there to disprove it, it was him. With that, working a few days a week ,seeing my brother's play again and stewing piles and piles of apples (you know it's autumn when...) I think that's my week done!

Friday, 2 September 2011

Summer Adventure # 4 ; Rococo Gardens

Note mother and father sneaking into the scene...
For our Bank Holiday outing, mum, dad and I visited the beautiful Rococo Gardens in Painswick. I remembered bits of this garden so vividly from various trips throughout childhood, so I knew that I just had to go back sometime soon. Obviously being a bank holiday during the summer it was fairly busy with families, but still seemed tranquil (and I did manage a few sneaky no-person shots) and it was actually lovely to see young children enjoying the garden and it's fantastic follies as I had. Plus there were some excellent views of the surrounding countryside and local Manor House, a woodland walk, a little cafe with delicious homemade cakes (me and mother shared a toffee tiffin and one of the best brownies I have had in a while; and that's saying something) fruit and veg patches, a's quite amazing what is crammed into this little jewel of a place! Plus there were a load of sculptures exhibited around the garden, some of which were pure genius so may have to post a few of my favourites from those!

Looking forward to the weekend, hopefully the weather's going to stay nice so I can keep the summer wardrobe going for as long as possible, and I'm going to a food festival with my lovely sister (and fellow blogger at Zenzeroni) in Bristol. Can't wait! I predict eating my weight in tasters and revelling in the gastro-nerdiness...

Wouldn't be a proper day out without a literary reference...
Painswick House