Friday, 30 May 2014

Treat Petite May - Round Up

This month Treat Petite celebrated World Baking Day who this year were asking 'Who will you bake for?' So anything baked for someone else or to celebrate World Baking Day was eligible!

Our first entry was from Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker who sent us a Mini Victoria Sponge which she made for her boyfriend's birthday. What a lucky guy!

Next from Kate at the Gluten Free Alchemist were Dark & Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies, which are of course gluten free. Kate made these for her family to share, and they were big fans, no wonder as they look delicious!

Although Treat Petite is all about sweet bakes, I've let Kate sneak in these gluten, dairy and yeast free White Bread Rolls. This is because Kate kindly went on a mission to make these for a friend who can't eat dairy, gluten or yeast. Not only has she managed to make bread without these three things, she has done such a nice thing for her friend!

These beautifully bright Fresh Raspberry and Pink Lemonade Cupcakes were sent in by Claire from What Claire Baked. They look so fresh and colourful, I love the appearance of them!

Corina from Searching For Spice sent over her Peanut Butter Cookies which she made with her daughter. They look perfectly baked and beautifully golden!

Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary made these yummy Boston Creme Doughnuts as a homage to her Canadian background and for her daughter who was in hospital at the time. These would surely make anyone feel better!

A new international entry from Kerene at I Am The Dream Baker with her Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. She made these using milk as she had ran out of yoghurt, and was pleased to get a great result that her friends enjoyed!

Helen from Family Friends Food sent in these cute Vanilla Apricot Almond Blondie Bites. These are made with dairy free white chocolate chips and she made these to take to her parents house, what a lovely gift!

The second entry from Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker was Raspberry & White Chocolate Cupcakes which she made for a brain tumour support group. The cupcakes look really pretty and are beautifully iced!

Helen from Casa Costello sent us these delicious looking Passion Fruit Poke Cupcakes, she used a homemade passion fruit sugar syrup to soak the sponge and really infuse the flavour. They sound so good!

This decadent Millionaire's Shortbread was sent in by Laura from I'd Much Rather Bake Than... This is a family recipe that her mum often makes. The layers look perfect, I could eat some of this right now!

Kerene from I Am The Dream Baker sent in her Lemon Glazed Vanilla Pound Cupcakes as her second entry to this month's challenge. She made these for her sister as a celebration of their sisterhood.

Choclette from the Chocolate Log Blog entered her Lactofree Raspberry, Poppyseed & White Chocolate Muffins. These are a twist on some muffins she made during a Lactofree master class with Tom Aikens.

These delicious and fresh cakes are Vanilla, Lemon Curd & Blueberry Mini Cream Cakes from Luchia at Luchia Cooks. She used a tin can to cut out and mould the cakes, very clever!

I think this is our first ever vegan entry, a Vegan Ginger Chocolate Cake from Shaheen at Allotment to Kitchen - A Seasonal Veg Table. It looks deliciously chocolatey and has a fiery hit of ginger to compliment the sweetness.

My Treat Petite co-host Stuart from Cakeyboi entered his Peanut Butter Magic Bars. Although he couldn't find out why they are called magic bars, his colleagues certainly thought they were!

Finally we have these gorgeous Chocolate & Mint Ice Cream Cupcakes from Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker. Don't they look brilliant! Such a great effect, Ros baked these for her local Macmillan Information Centre.

I wasn't able to enter this month as I have been moving house and my kitchen has been all over the place. I can't wait to get baking in my new kitchen soon! Thank you to everyone who entered this month, I have found it particularly inspiring to see how you have made things for other people. It is amazing to see the kindness and love that can be given through baking. Look out for June's challenge on Cakeyboi's blog soon!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

25% Off BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show Tickets!

Hello Explorers! So I am all moved into the new flat with my boyfriend, and everything is going great, except for the fact we have had no internet connection yet which means I have been unable to blog and generally roam the internet as much as usual. I am terribly addicted to the internet and do feel quite lost without it, especially when it stops me from sharing delicious treats with you! Well I have not come back empty handed, I come bearing a great gift for all of you!

You may remember my review of the BBC Good Food Show Winter, although I had a great time at the show, it was more for foodies as opposed to bakers. The baking section just wasnt big enough for me. Well it looks like my wish has been granted as this year BBC Good Food are launching their Bakes & Cakes Show on 25 – 27 October at BDC, Islington! And it's totally dedicated to baking!

Tickets for the show are now ON SALE! To receive 25% off as a Baking Explorer reader, head to the BBC Good Food Bakes & Cake Show website by clicking here  and enter the promotional code EBPAR1.

Here's a bit more info about the show to get you in the mood...

The BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show, sponsored by Lexus, launches at the beautiful Business Design Centre in Islington, London from 25-27 October 2014.   Bringing the popular BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes title to life, the show will be packed with baking, bread-making and cake-crafting demonstrations, free master classes, and hundreds of products to get you baking like a pro.

PLUS!  Don't miss out on seeing your favourite baking stars, LIVE at the show!  Every full day adult ticket includes a seat for the Bakes & Cakes Theatre, where you can watch Mary Berry, Mich Turner, John Whaite, Paul Hollywood, and other expert bakers in LIVE 30 minute baking and technique demos.

Whether you're new to baking or a seasoned baking veteran, the BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show is the perfect place to meet bakers, cake-crafters and confectioners, learn new skills, and pick up all the essentials you need to develop your home baking hobby.

I'll be there and I am so excited to attend and see my baking heroes in action as well as sample some of the delicious treats! I hope to see you there too!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Neff & Event with John Whaite

A couple of weeks ago I was kindly invited by to attend a day of Afternoon Tea Delights featuring Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite. I headed down to Milton Keynes and had a wonderful day baking scones with John and several other bloggers. One of my favourite things about the day was getting to meet fellow bloggers as I have only met a couple so far and that was only recently. Some of them I hadn't heard of before, some I had, and some I read there blogs regularly. I met the very friendly Britt from She Who Bakes and Julie from Real Food Fans at the train station when I arrived. Here's what I got up to at the event...

If you haven't heard of before, they sell major domestic appliances online. They are known for excellent customer service and their same day delivery service. That's right if you order your appliance before midday you can have it the same day! They will also recycle your old appliance. Their website is interactive with user reviews and videos so you can have a full shopping experience.

One of the main brands that sell is Neff. Neff are a German brand and the UK is the second biggest market for their products. 1 in 5 ovens sold in the UK is a Neff oven. If you don't already have a Neff oven, you may be familiar with their Bake It Yourself online community. They are on all of the major social networking sites 'encouraging everyone to embrace baking'.

We started the day browsing the Neff showroom and learning about all the features of their appliances. If you watch The Great British Bake Off you will have seen their 'Slide and Hide' oven doors already, this is where the oven door slides underneath the oven when you open it so it is out of the way. But you may not know that Neff also make induction hobs, warming drawers, mini dishwashers, coffee machines and microwaves. My dream kitchen will definitely involve some of these appliances!

We then entered the cookery classroom where John Whaite and Home Economist Lynn Williams made Lemon & Poppyseed Muffins and Salmon & Watercress Tarlets. They made these bakes in order to demonstrate Neff's Circo Therm technology. This means that each rack in the oven has air circulated around it separately and so any strong smelling foods that you cook, like salmon, will not affect any more delicate bakes, such as lemon muffins, that you cook in the same oven at the same time.

One batch of muffins was baked with the salmon tarts, and the other baked alone. And sure enough, after a thorough taste test, no one could tell the difference!

I was so excited to get baking and after a demo from John on how to bake Orange & Cranberry Sconelets, we all got stuck in and made our own batch of scones. Some of the bloggers made cheese scones, and some made the fruity ones.

I made the orange and cranberry ones with Gemma from GemsMaquillage as my bench buddy. I did make a bit of a mess with my dough as it was far too wet, but after adding some more flour it sorted itself out. It did give me some insight into how The Great British Bake Off contestants must feel! Although no one was going to judge my scones, we were being filmed and photographed whilst we were baking and John visited our bench a couple of times to see how we were getting on.

We used the Neff ovens to bake our scones and mine came out looking gloriously golden and well risen. I tucked in straight away and they really were delicious. I took them into work the next day and got some amazing comments on how good they were. I hope when I make these again in my oven they are still just as good!

Finally it was time for lunch and we were presented with this amazing array of afternoon tea delights! There were some of the scones we had baked, the muffins and tartlets John and Lynn made, as well as some other tartlets and a White Chocolate & Apricot Traybake. I chatted to Lucy from Supergolden Bakes and Em from MBakes whilst we ate. I read both of their blogs a lot so it was great to meet them in person, check out their blogs for stunning photographs and delicious bakes.

My plate of goodies!

The final part of the day was a Q&A session with John Whaite. One of the first questions was what was his favourite bake and he said he likes simple things like scones and a Victoria sponge. However his favourite recipe from his book is the Fig, Pecan & Orange Bundt. For comfort food John will always turn to Chocolate Mud Cake or bread. He named his baking heroes as Richard Bertinet and Nigel Slater.

He told us all about his new chocolate range called The Hungry Dog. After a 9 month course in chocolate making, John loves chocolate work and the intense flavours you can infuse in chocolate. All of the chocolates are completely hand made and have a limited availability. John also revealed that he will be opening a cookery school called John Whaite's Kitchen in Wigan soon on his family's farm, where he will do a range of classes. I am very excited about this and it's great that he's opening it up North!

John said that blogs are places a lot of ideas originate from and it was great to hear how he thinks professional chefs are inspired by bloggers like us. We received a goodie bag at the end of the day which included one of John's books. His second book is pictured above, but I swapped it with Julie from Real Food Fans for a signed copy of his first book (because she already owned it). John told us that he writes recipes by first of all thinking about what chapters he wants in his book, then thinking about what would go in those chapters, and finally creating the recipes themselves. It was interesting to learn about his creative process.

It was such a great day and I must recommend you check out the ao at home blog, as well as the blogs mentioned above and Fork & Good, The Spicy Pear and KB Eats.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Apricot Bakewell Slices

I am moving flats soon and trying to use up some of the many baking ingredients I have lying around (there are a lot of them!) This recipe was a great way to use up three of those things: apricot jam, flaked almonds and ground almonds. They are also a great traybake recipe, perfect for bake sales! I took these into work for a bake sale we did recently to raise money for Key 103's Cash for Kids. They are a Manchester based charity that help out children in the local area, I think it's a fantastic cause and it's great to take part in raising money for the local community. If you want to know more about Cash for Kids, click here. And if you want to know how to make these yummy Apricot Bakewell Slices, read on...

You can buy a 375g pack of shortcrust pastry if you like, but making it is so simple and much cheaper! I rubbed 100g butter into 225g plain flour and 1 tsp salt.

I added 2 1/2 tbsp cold water and brought the mixture together to form a dough. I wrapped it in cling film and chilled for 30 minutes. Simple!

I rolled the pastry out to fit my lined baking tin and pricked it with a fork. I chilled it again for 20 minutes.

I baked the pastry on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 10 minutes.

To make the sponge I first creamed 200g butter and 200g golden caster sugar together.

I whisked in 4 beaten eggs and 1/2 tsp almond extract, and folded in 100g ground almonds and 100g self raising flour.

Using a brush I spread the apricot jam over the pastry. You can use any kind of jam you like with this recipe, whatever needs using up in your fridge!

I spooned the sponge over the top and gently spread it out. A final sprinkling of flaked almonds and it was ready to go in the oven.

After 35 minutes baked on 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 it was a lovely golden brown.

I cut it into appropriate sized pieces, and froze them as I made them a few days before the bake sale. They froze really well (as most baked goods do). I didn't get much feedback on them, but the tray they were on emptied out pretty quickly! I also managed to sneak a slice and it was very tasty! I think these would benefit from a drizzle of icing on top too next time I make them.

I am entering this bake into this month's Credit Crunch Munch, ran by Camilla at Fab Food 4 All and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and this month hosted by Gingey Bites as I used up some ingredients I had in my cupboard and fridge to make it.

I am also entering these into Bake of the Week hosted by Helen at Casa Costello.

print recipe

Apricot Bakewell Slices
  • 300g Butter
  • 225g Plain flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 1/2 tbsp Cold water
  • 200g Golden caster sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 tsp Almond extract
  • 100g Self raising flour
  • 100g Ground almonds
  • 1 jar of Apricot Jam
  • A handful of Flaked almonds
To make the pastry rub 100g of the butter into the plain flour and saltAdd the cold water and bring the mixture together to form a dough. Wrap it in cling film and chill for 30 minutesRoll the pastry out to fit your baking tin, lined the tin and place the pastry in it, then prick it with a fork. Chill it again for 20 minutesBake the pastry on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 10 minutesTo make the sponge cream 200g of the butter and the golden caster sugar togetherWhisk in the eggs and almond extract, then fold in the ground almonds and self raising flourSpread the apricot jam over the pastrySpoon the sponge batter over the top and gently spread it out. Sprinkle the flaked almonds all over the topBake on 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for 35 minutes until golden brown. Once completely cool, drizzle with icing if desired, then slice into squares

Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food.