Friday, 11 July 2014

Brown Butter Amaretti Scones

I do not know how we ever lived in such a small flat because even now we are in a house there isn't room to swing a cat (unintentional rhyme somewhere in there). Not that I'd dare try and swing Evie. That's just suicide - Evie is not the most loving of cats FYI. The main issue is the abundance of half finished wedding crafts taking over my usual blog photo area. My photos would seem more impressive if you saw the way I had to contort myself around cardboard boxes and piles of wedding favors just to get a half decent shot. BUT it's all worth it and in six weeks my wedding project will be replaced by my tidy house project. Always gotta have a project!

I've had a mini scone project for about three months now. I've been trying to elevate the basic scone to the next level and I've hit all kinds of bumps, burns and undercooked scones along the road. I never thought I'd devote this much love and attention to a scone. But I kind of feel like I never need to make a scone again though now because I've found my happy scone place. And all I had to do was brown the butter (obvs!) and crush the mini amaretti biscuits that had been waiting patiently for a purpose since January. A purpose other than shoving six in my mouth at a time. 

I also have to point you in the direction of Marks & Spencers' apricot and amaretto jam because it's insanely good. That is completely my own opinion of the bought and paid for with my own money jam. I've been on a largely paleo diet for a couple of months now but when I cheat, I cheat with jam. And scones. Those poor paleo guys were really missing out. 

Brown Butter Amaretti Scones

makes 8 

90g unsalted butter
300g self raising flour
50g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
50g caster sugar
180ml buttermilk, plus extra to brush on top
100g amaretti biscuits, coarsely crushed
  1. First things first, brown your butter. Melt the butter in a medium sized pan over a medium heat until it starts to foam and turns a caramel colour. Keep whisking as it browns then remove from the heat when the the crackling from the foam starts to slow down.
  2. Pour into a bowl and freeze until solid. 
  3. Preheat your oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper and set aside.
  4. Cut your butter into cubes and chuck into a food processor. Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and caster sugar and pulse together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs with pea sized lumps of butter in it. 
  5. Tip into a large bowl and add the crushed amaretti biscuits. Mix into the flour/butter with your hands to distribute.
  6. Pour in your buttermilk and stir in using a rounded knife, I like to use a palette knife. When it starts to come together get in there with your hands and bring it together to form a ball.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a couple of times.
  8. Flatten the ball of dough out with your hands into a circle and then cut into triangles. If you prefer the more traditional round scone, roll the dough out and use a cutter.
  9. Place the scones onto the baking trays and brush the tops with a little leftover buttermilk. I crushed a few extra amaretti and sprinkled on top of some of the scones. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden brown. 

- I've tried these with dark brown sugar and they also tasted great
- If you don't have a food processor just rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the same consistency is reached.
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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Spiced Treacle Cake

I've just taken delivery of the rest of our wedding favors. Sadly I'm not at liberty to reveal what they are yet as we have been keeping them a surprise but they are really cool and I am SO SO excited. It's starting to get serious now. We felt like we had all the time in the world before but now there are a hundred tiny jobs to do. I spent a good hour this morning trying to work out how much PVC piping we would need from B&Q to construct our own photobooth backdrop. I've still got twenty more jars to coat in glitter and an obscene amount of crepe paper to order. Nick and I have spent most evenings perfecting the playlists and I have been honing my photoshop skills for various signs and posters.

Six months ago you could probably have accused me of not being excited enough about getting married, I definitely was, but I've always been somewhat of a last minute person. I love to plan but I might not put anything into action until the eleventh hour. I was like that with coursework at school. I work much better to tight deadlines. Now I have so many wedding ideas buzzing around in my head that I can't see how it will all come together. I have been assured that it will but it makes me a little anxious that I'll walk into the reception and it won't look how it did in my head. I'm determined not to become a bridezilla. 

When I feel that I have too many ideas I find it easiest to just stop and do something else. So I'll move Matilda and myself into the kitchen and bake. It really helps and I feel much calmer after something has gone in the oven. This cake was the product of one kitchen escape earlier this week. I am so happy with this cake. I've been trying to create an easy ginger cake for some time and I think I've nailed it. The reason it works so well is definitely the frosting. The recipe below makes more than I have used, mainly because you might like more frosting on this cake than I put on. It doesn't need much but it tastes so good with the strong treacle flavour. Perfect for the crappy turn in weather we are having.

Spiced Treacle Cake
(frosting recipe from Stacie Bakes by Stacie Stewart)

250g unsalted butter, softened
150g black treacle 
100g dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
zest of 1 lemon
4 medium eggs
250g self raising flour

for the frosting:
125g unsalted butter, softened
175g cream cheese
500g icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Grease and line two 18cm cake tins and preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Melt the butter with the treacle, sugar, spices and lemon zest in a pan until it starts to boil. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. 
  4. Finally, whisk in the flour until there are no lumps and the mixture is smooth. Divide between the two cake tins.
  5. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Leave to cool completely before turning out onto a wire rack.
  6. To make the frosting, beat the butter then add the cream cheese and beat for a few seconds.
  7. Sift in the icing sugar and cinnamon and mix until combined. Beat on a medium-high speed until the frosting becomes smooth and fluffy. If it looks a little runny just pop in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up.
  8. To assemble, divide each cake into two. Place the bottom layer of one on a plate and spread a good blob of frosting on top. Place the top of that cake upside down on top of the bottom layer and press down slightly. Spread frosting on top of that. 
  9. For the 3rd layer, take the top of the other cake and place upside down on top followed by more frosting. Finally, take the top layer and place that upside down so the base of that cake is facing upwards.
  10. Crumb coat the top and sides and place in the fridge for 20 minutes. Add more frosting if you like or just leave crumb coated.
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Sunday, 29 June 2014

25/52 & 26/52

212 days old.

219 days old.

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014.

Oh this has been a long long week. We only went to London on Tuesday but it feels like it was a month ago. And then, on Thursday, Matilda came down with a tummy bug and I've had a horrible cold that won't seem to go away. On Friday morning I had to get a taxi to the doctors with Matilda, with 40 minutes notice of an appointment. In the waiting room she had - how shall I put it - a poop explosion in the waiting room and so the nurse practitioner refused to touch her incase it was a bug. In the toilets, just after changing her nappy and outfit, she was then sick on herself. I stopped, burst into tears and rang Nick just vent about how hard this motherhood malarky is sometimes. I finally got her cleaned up and settled, then myself cleaned up and settled and she fell asleep in the pram so I could sit and have one flat white before we went home. I was instructed to feed her 1oz every twenty minutes, meaning I'm effectively stuck on the sofa feeding all day. It's like going back to breastfeeding. She's quite happy in herself but just isn't keeping any milk down so it's very difficult. This is the first time she's been ill really and she's never even really been a sicky baby so I feel abit like a new mum again getting to grips with a whole new set of challenges. 
Because it was such a mad week I didn't get chance to do a proper round up of my favourite links this week but I'll have some favourites for you this Friday. Hope you've all been having a lovely weekend. 
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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Cherry, Coconut and Rosewater Ice Pops [dairy free]

Blimey I've made a lot of ice lollies this week. I know there is a whole official popsicle week that loads of bloggers are involved in and this isn't a part of that but I was sent this cute little mould by Sainsbury's and this was my only recipe for this week so here you go. My lolly making plan was simple but these things never turn out quite how you plan. The original recipe I tried twice tasted amazing but was too soft so the lollies wouldn't come out of the mould attached to the stick. However, I have discovered a super easy recipe for ice cream without a machine as a result so I'm pretty happy about that. I went back to the drawing board and worked on these little beauties.

Intense lolly making aside, it's been a fairly hectic week that has involved a very quick jaunt to London to fix some wedding dress issues (I have to say, David's Bridal in Westfield Stratford were wonderful). Taking a baby to London is not something I could have done alone, I took a friend and she saved the day both by babysitting and helping with my dress. The most stressful part of taking Matilda on the tube was going from Euston to Highbury & Islington, we got on the tube and I put the pram next to a seat and sat down with Matilda. Silly me hadn't put the breaks on so at the next stop the doors on the opposite side opened and the pram started to roll out onto King's Cross station. I caught it in time but I dread to think what would have happened if we'd lost it. Lesson learnt: always put the breaks on.

Aside from being pretty special looking they taste gorgeous. I love how the sweetness of the cherries mixes with the rosewater and coconut milk. I don't like lollies that are too sweet and these are just right. If you prefer you can blend the cherries with the coconut milk, I prefer bigger chunks of fruit so I left them bigger. I've put this in the notes below but you could easily leave the sugar out to make them for kids. When Matilda is older I think it would be really fun to make lollies together in the Summer. She already sits in the kitchen with me whilst I bake so as she grows she'll be able to get more involved. Her favourite part of making these was my crazy dancing to Haim's 'Don't Save Me'.

Cherry, Coconut and Rosewater Ice Pops

makes 4-5 ice pops

200g cherries, stoned
juice of half a lemon
1x 400g can of full fat coconut milk
50g caster sugar
2 tablespoons rosewater
  1. Easy peasy! Start by simmering the cherries with the lemon juice and a little water until they go soft and dark but not completely disintegrated. You want to be able to easily crush them with a fork.
  2. In another pan, bring the coconut milk and sugar to a boil, turn off the heat and add the rosewater.
  3. Mix 1/3 of the coconut milk with the cherries. 
  4. Pour the cherry coconut mix into the moulds, filling to 2/3 full.
  5. Pop the lids on and freeze for 3 hours.
  6. Remove from the freezer, take off the lids and pour the remaining coconut milk in to the brim. 
  7. Replace the lids back on and freeze overnight.
  8. To remove easily from the moulds, run under hot water to loosen.
- If you want to make these without the sugar they will still taste lovely, and be more child friendly as well.

Thank you to Sainsbury's for sending the mould and a voucher for the ingredients.
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