Monday, 19 April 2010

52 Weeks of Baking - Week Three

I decided for week 3 to bake French Macaroons. I have never had a French macaroon before but I've seen pictures of them on the web and they look fab. I have also read that they can be tricky to get right. Personally, I like a challenge but I do find it hard following recipes to the letter.
Looking through several recipes and learning the difference between the Italian and French method. I took stock, got my ingredients and was rearing to go. 
Alas, problems before I had even started -
  1. I bought a bag of 100g ground almond, the recipe required 125g -  Ooops!
  2. Wasn't sure if confectioner or fine sugar was the same as icing sugar
  3. Didn't get any cream of tartar
  4. Used 3 egg whites, the recipe asked for a 100g of egg white
  5. Had no egg white powder
I followed the recipe, I found ages ago but cant remember the link. I think I might have scaled it down for a quick read. So if anyone recognises this recipe, could you let me Know so I can post the link tanx.
below is the recipe I used:
125g. almond powder

225g. icing sugar sifted
100g. egg whites 
5 g     egg white powder
1/4    tsp cream of tartar
70g.  granulated or caster sugar

  1. pulse icing sugar and almonds in food processor and sift
  2. whisk eggs with egg powder and cream of tartar till white & foamy
  3. keep mixing whites on high speed until the eggs increase in size and soft peaks form
  4. add sugar a tablespoon at a time but drop it in slowly, mix well.
  5. add the dry ingredients
  6. fill pastry bag with a medium plain nozzle and pipe small balls onto a baking tray lined with parchment. 
  7. leave out to dry for 20 mins. 
  8. bake at 150 degrees for 13 mins.
I have included some pictures below 
I had this crazy idea to bake the macaroons in cupcake paper, don't ask!  
I tested one of the baked macaroon after the required baking time and it had develop a hard shell but was mushy inside. I've never had a macaroon before so couldn't tell if this was OK.  
Then I baked it for a few more minutes, big mistake, the colour looked burnt on the outside. 
The middle was very sticky and came apart. The colour looked better on the inside
I managed to sandwich two halves together and got them looking a bit presentable. However, they were yummy but a bit too sweet for me but the kids loved them [I think its the sugar talking ;D]
I will definitely try to bake macaroons again. I might substitute the almond nuts as I'm not big on almonds or try these recipes below.

Mini Pistachio and Chocolate Macaroons
Creme Brulee French Almond Macaroons 

Fig-Pecan Macaroons: 

Pecan Macaroons:                                                                                                                                                 

I would love to hear all about your French Macaroon successes or disasters or if you have tried any of the recipes listed above. Till then, take care and God bless ;D

Monday, 12 April 2010

Vintage inspired Textile Jewellery Workshop

I'm really excited that I finally get to teach this workshop. Although I already teach Silversmithing, PMC [Precious Metal Clay] and Wire Jewellery. I've always wanted to teach this.

I look forward to planning the lessons and making up samples of work. There's so much inspiration out there, the problem is deciding what to teach within that 5 weeks. 

Textile Jewellery Workshop

11 May - 14 June 2010
10:00 12:00noon
5 weeks
St Faiths Adult Education
Kent, United Kingdom
This workshop will introduce a range of jewellery making techniques for both beginners and experience crafters. 
Learn how to use fabrics /textiles, lace, ribbons etc combined with basic jewellery techniques to make your own brooches, earrings, necklaces and bracelets etc using recycled and vintage materials.

Tutorial - Doily Bowl

I was surfing the web a while ago and came across bowls made from doilies.

I don't have the patience to knit one so I had this idea to use pre-existing doilies and some fabric stiffener. So that is exactly what I did.
There's how I did it.
What you'll need
  • A doily
  • Fabric stiffener
  • Embellishments
  • A bowl for draping
I poured a small amount of fabric stiffener in old container, I didn't want the bowl to be too stiff so I added a bit of water.

I dipped the doily in the mixture and then I draped the doily over the back of my bowl and allowed it to dry overnight.
If you are worried about to getting glue all over the bowl, cover the back in cling film [good luck with that!!!;)]. 
Once my bowl was dry, I cut out a small circle of fabric or card and stuck it to the bottom of the doily bowl.Then I laced a matching ribbon through the lacy edge.

Here's a link to a more detailed tutorial on how to transform a doily into a pretty bowl.

Till next time,Cheerio and God bless

52 Weeks of Baking - Week Two

Polenta Strawberry Cupcakes

I thought I'll try and use an ingredient that I have always be curious about - Polenta. Never had it before but have seen many delicious recipes with of polenta. 

So after a quick search on the web, decided to try this one 
I followed the recipe then decided to modify the next batch.



Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases and heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy. Add the polenta and continue to whisk until combined. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time.

Sift in flour and baking powder, then fold in quickly with a large spoon or spatula until you have a thick batter (the mixture may look lumpy because of the polenta). Stir in the milk to loosen, then gently fold in the chopped strawberries


Divide the mixture between the paper cases, then bake for 20 mins or until golden, risen and springy to touch. Cool for a few mins, then place the cakes on a wire rack to cool completely. The cakes can now be stored in an airtight container for up to two days.

The cupcakes were scrummy but didnt go down well with my testers [my son  10yrs and twins 5yrs], I'm guessing due to the texture. 

I wonder if you can get polenta in a fine texture or just grind it, hmmm? 
The recipe turned out quite a few cupcakes so I took the rest to a friend that lives nearby.

I don't think I will be baking the Polenta Strawberry Cupcakes again but might try my version of the recipe in the distance future. 

The modifications were 1/2 cup of custard mix, a pinch of nutmeg and no strawberries [ lemon rinds or icing sugar weren't used in either recipes]

Take care and God bless 

Sunday, 11 April 2010

52 Weeks of Baking - Week One

I’ve always wanted to do a yearlong challenge so as a little project for me this year; I’m going to be doing a 52 Weeks Baking Challenge. I joined this challenge over on
It starts off in April (although I already did a few practise runs but will start posting in April)
The rules -
1) A little paragraph about the day of the baking and the experience gained that day.
2) A photo of the result
3) A link to the recipe if found on line or state where it is found, and a review of it – e.g.: if it’s good or not or if any modifications were made
4) and you can bake any day of the week of your choice.
5) You can bake anything; sweet or savoury but it must be baked in an oven!.

I will have to swap with at least 2 partners exchanging emails on Tuesdays. My personal goal is to stay the entire challenge so to keep myself motivated, I decided to choose a different ingredient each week and find a recipe or two to bake it with.

Each month I will be giving away a few super yummy items. All you have to do to be in the chance of winning is suggest a recipe that contains one of my ingredients, if your recipe gets chosen you will win a prize.
There are the ingredients for this month
Week 1 – Oreos
Week 2 – Polenta
Week 3 – Mars
Week 4 – Toffee

Week One – Let the Baking Begin!!!!
I had a dream, of Oreos and cakes so I decided to try this idea for my first week of the 52 weeks of baking challenge.
Line a cake tin with crush Oreos, pour in cake mixture and bake. 
Sounded simply enough, not quite! since it’s a made up recipe, there were a few issues to consider.
The measurements for the ingredients and most importantly the oven temperature.
Nevertheless I decided to forge ahead. The thing is, once I get an idea in my head, I wouldn't be able to concentrate on anything else until I've got it out of my system. I am sure most people will relate.

I figure I would need the same items for a basic cake mix and of course Oreos. But I wanted to add a twist add colouring to the cake mix.
There's what I did

Oreo Cake Pie 

I packet  Oreo cookie, crumbled 
3 tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup sugar
2  egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter
Egg whites whipped to soft peaks
Food colouring

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

For the crust:
Mix the chocolate cookie crumbs and the melted butter thoroughly. Press into cake pans (the kind with removable bottoms). Set aside
 ~ I made the mistake of mixing too much milk with the crumbs, the result was a gooey mess. Initially, it seemed too dry and won’t stick to the sides of the cake pan but I had to use it like that as it was the last packet of Oreos

For the filling:
Cream butter and sugar together till pale, Whisk in the milk, egg yolks and flour, alternatively until well combined.

Add the whisked egg whites and fold [but don't whisk!] till mixed well.

I decided to divide the mixture and add different colours.

Pour the cake mix into the pie crust and  bake till toothpick comes out clean. 

The cake didn’t rise with a dome top as I tampered with the oven temp and it got too hot but I was surprised that the cake rose to twice the size of the cake tin. It also took almost 40minutes to cook as well!
The cake was moist and the Oreo crust was nice and chewy! I will definitely bake this cake again just need to work out the minor problems.
Besides the kids really love it even Zyon who is the fussiest eater ever ;D

Looking forward to Week Two, till then Cheerio and God bless.