Monthly Archives: January 2012

Cats in boxes and chocolatey superposition…

Well that is as near (or far) from any sort of physics we’ll be getting…

This weekend was all about different types of chocolate cakey things with pistachio ice cream…ok, only two things…and we bought the pistachio ice cream  *hangs head*

Chocolate Fondants

Simon asked for these for dessert on Saturday…and we all know the best way into a man’s pants is through his stomach…

fondant for a fondle

  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 40g dark chocolate
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 30g plain flour
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • dash o’ vanilla extract
  1. melt the butter and chocolate together
  2. whisk the egg and yolk, sugr and vanilla until light and moussey
  3. fold the brown goo into the creamy goo
  4. fold in the flour and cocoa
  5. pour into greased and cocoa dusted moulds…or just use silicone ones
  6. bake at 200ºC until set outside but liquid inside…it’s best to under bake and let them cool a little to strengthen the outside…we are talking about 8 minutes 
The thing about cooking fondants is to get a gooey middle; but, they need to be set enough to survive un-moulding without exploding like the last Graboid in Tremors.

still gooey...just

This is especially difficult if you’ve baked them in a muffin tin so you have six of the little bitches to turn out at once.

jiggly little whores

Chococo Crepes

Sunday brunch…oh yeah!

crepes...no real way of making them look pretty

  • 50g plain flour
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • pinch o’ salt
  • 1 egg
  • tsp caster sugar
  • 20g melted budder
  • 100ml whole milk
  • 50ml coconut milk
  • dash o’ vanilla extract
  1. sift the dry stuff
  2. whisk in the wet stuff until nice and smooth
  3. leave to rest for 30 minutes
  4. oil a pan and get flippin’!

This amount makes about five crepes which is enough for one serving (maybe…probably not).

We dolloped (gross word) with pistachio ice cream and sprinkled with crushed peanuts…then drizzled with sweetened coconut milk…yummers!

drizzled coconut milk looks a lot like erm...some other nut milk

So that was the weekend, very similar ingredients, very different outcomes!

Oh yeah, and a cat in a box…

this is my box, I am king of the whole box

cardboard-robot-cat

Advertisements

Well, I do declare! A hazelnut éclair!

Well it’s been a tough week at the bakery…real life work has been taking over our lives leading to many tears, tantrums and feet stomping…

We did manage to escape for an evening and visit some friends for food, crafts and gossip…all delicious and juicy.

Wondercat couldn’t possibly attend empty handed…well we could, but we didn’t…

Bring on the Choux!

Hazelnut Éclairs

Choux Pastry

  • 33ml water
  • 33ml cream
  • 27g unsalted budder
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • pinch o’ salt
  • 50g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  1. heat the water, cream, budder, salt and sugar in a pan until boiling
  2. take off the heat and chuck in the flour quickly and stir like bejesus!
  3. put back on the heat for about a minute, stirring until it starts to come away from the sides in a blob (this always looks slightly erotic…we really don’t know why!  maybe it’s the glistening oiliness looking like a greased up buttock…maybe we are just perverts).
  4. take off the heat again and whisk in the eggs slowly (oh yeah, beat the eggs).
  5. whack in a piping bag, leave to cool for a few minutes then pipe into little sausages…we like to pipe a sausage sat on another sausage…go crazy.
  6. bake in a pre-heated oven (oh yeah, pre-heat the oven) for about 20 minutes at 190ºC…it helps to throw some water into the bottom of the oven to get it nice and misty and help the rising.
  7. when looking nice and bronzed turn the oven down to 170ºC, turn each eclair upside down and jab it with a skewer (that word really makes us feel icky inside) or a toothpick to let out any moisture.
  8. bake for another 15 minutes or so until crisp and dry.

Hazelnut Cream

  • 30g Hazelnut butter
  • 200ml Double cream
  • 50g icing sugar

whisk it all up until light and soft and billowy…DO NOT OVER WHISK!  Over whisked cream in a desert is like opening a nice big gift to have a midget pop out the box and kick you in the groin…stop whisking before you think you’ve whisked enough to be on the safe side (we said whisk along then, and also “midget” which I think may be a bad word these days?!)

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 part chocolate (the good shit)
  • 1 part cream

I will give no quantities as we like to have a pile left over to gorge on and rub all over ourselves like a piggy in shit (sorry), I’d say about 75ml/g of each should do if you are a normal person.

  1. melt the chocolate
  2. heat the cream until just bubbling
  3. stir the two together
  4. leave to cool and thicken for about 10 minutes then give a quick whisk to lighten it a bit

Assembly

Not very difficult…

  1. cut the tops off the éclairs 
  2. pipe the cream in using a large star tip
  3. pop the top back on
  4. pipe the ganache on using a basket weave nozzle going back on yourself every inch or so to create a shell pattern (fancy)

And you’re done!  Munch away!

we do love a creamy bulge

 

These are actually very nice and light enough that you can eat about three and still tell yourself you’ve eaten mostly air.

the side boob shot

 

The hazelnut filling is delicately flavoured and light…not claggy like peanut butter.

They went down well with our friends and Simon enjoyed a couple as well…despite his assertion he wasn’t going to eat any.

ready to transport...energize Mr O'Brian

 

ripple...another disgusting word

 

Now back to the dull work of working at the weekend…

Laters kids!

新年快樂 Wondercat rides the dragon

Gong Hei Fat Choi!  It is the start of the Chinese Spring Festival!  Chinese New Year!

Mykie is half Chinese.  Usually he doesn’t give a monkeys about his heritage…but if there’s food involved…

Wondercat was hosting “Come Dine With Me” so we decided to combine this with New Year and cook a FEAST!

Here’s a run down of what we made:

  • Char siu bao
  • Nai wong bao
  • Dou sha bao
  • Nian gao
  • Char Siu Pork
  • Crispy Belly Pork
  • Honey Chili Ribs
  • Sweet Ribs
  • Kung Pao Chicken
  • Garlic ginger broccoli
  • Rice
  • Noodles

and we cheated a bit and bought…

  • Siu mai
  • Har gau
  • Crispy duck
  • Duck spring rolls

It’s fair to say we were busy all day!

All the savoury stuff turned out fine…better than fine, the char siu pork and belly pork were delightful!

Maybe we made too much food for five people?

We had a bit of an issue with the bao! Used far, far, faaaaaaaar too much dough and ended up with space hoppers!  They were nowhere near as good as shop bought ones…back to the drawing board!

bao wow!

The nian gao was good…we didn’t have glutinous rice flour in so ground our own out of arborio rice (how’s that for ingenuity)!  We added home made red bean paste and dusted with gold dust.

We made little sweet versions

always remember to shake out the air bubbles...we forgot

and “lucky coins”

penny pincher

Here’s to a prosperous year of the dragon! Grrrrr! (that was a dragon noise BTW)

Wondercat Detectives: The case of the vanishing sugar

Over the weekend we baked a cake, a hazelnut and honey cake topped with spun sugar…or did we?

So, D & D were coming over for dinner and Wondercat was in charge of dessert.  We had a few ideas in mind, after fingering through a few of the new books than Santa brought us, he Maple and Pecan Cake from the Hummingbird Bakery “Cake Days” caught our eye; As we’ve been wanting to investigate their sponge recipe (it includes less budder more milk) for a while it seamed as good a time as any…(oh yeah, we say “budder” now…sounds tastier)

Hazelnut Honey Cake

we do enjoy a sticky nut

So we used the Hummingbird sponge recipe with a nut change, a maple/honey switcharoo and a splash of vanilla extract

  • 120g soft budder (mmm…budder)
  • 400g caster sugar (yes, this seamed a lot to us too)
  • 360g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 360ml whole milk
  • 40ml honey
  • 3 large eggs
  • 100g chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (the good shit)
  1. mix budder, sugar, flour, bp and salt until crumby
  2. separately mix milk, honey, vanilla and eggs
  3. stir the two bowls of stuff together
  4. stir through the nutty nut nuts
  5. the book splits the batter into three 8 inch layers at 170ºC for 20-25 minutes…we whacked everything into a deep 8 inch tin and baked at 160ºC for just over an hour (until our cake probulator reached 210ºf (for some reason we always cook in Celsius but set the probe in Fahrenheit, dunno why, it’s a mystery (well not really))) *Wondercat: master of bracket craft* (but we don’t know what these ones [] or {} are all about)

So cake done, time to throw the book down and free style!

We filled the cake with a loose textured budder-cream *giggles* made with this stuff in place of budder (so is it really a budder-cream after all? *still giggling…no one else probably is*), icing sugar and a bit of whipped double cream to lighten.  We don’t have measurements, we just winged it until it tasted and felt right…there was a lot of tasting.

We covered the cake in a honey cream Chantilly which was pretty much just whipped double cream sweetened with honey and a little icing sugar to stabilise.

a cake with stuff on the inside and different stuff on the outside

Right, the basic cake scaffolding was in place, time for a bit of decoration! Some smashed up hazelnuts to cover the top, a flurry of piped cream around the edges and to finish, a nest of spun sugar (with a touch of honey) encasing caramelised hazelnuts…

like angel hair...if angels had sticky grossness on their heads...and were real

The sugar work was easy enough; we made a ridiculous amount of mess in the kitchen and managed to get a few sugar splinters (whoever thought an injury could be sooooo delicious?) and burns, and hot caramel in our ear????!?!?!!! We put the cake in the fridge as we went about the rest of our day (which is code for “play Skyrim”).  A few hours before dinner we realised a few blog pics should be taken…”That’s funny? I’m sure the sugar work was taller and more impressive before?”.  Snappy snap snap, pics taken, but we were puzzled by the shrinking sugar.  Just before dinner we checked again…IT WAS ALL GONE! GONE!  There was no sign of it! Not even a sticky puddle of remains (oh God! We’ve gone to our bad “The Snowman” place again).

see! all gone! and not even a hat, scarf and nose tangerine left behind

It’s not really a mystery, We bet you all know what actually happened to the sugar in the slightly moist fridge atmosphere… That’s right, it was aliens.  Aliens came down from the sky, got in the kitchen window whilst we were playing Skyrim and stole all our sugar…how fucking rude.

Alien abducted sugar aside, the cake was quite nice.  The sponge was lovely and moist (we think we may run a head to head “Vicky Sponge” vs “Hummingbird Milk Sponge” in the next few weeks), the filing and topping worked well, maybe they were a little on the sweet side TBH.  Slight concern with the crushed un-skinned hazelnuts on top giving a slight bitter taste…next time we’ll use blanched nuts.

hazelnut skins...our flavour nemesis...or maybe that was also extraterrestrial

So that’s the mystery of the vanishing sugar…the strands were demonstrably sharp enough to pierce human skin (splinter ouchies), the aliens saw this and decided to steal them for their nefarious human probing experiments…

the big gash wasn't the aliens, that was us

In your face Benedict Cumberbatch…in. your. face.

A perky bread pep rally

OK, all these bread trials with Gloria Bubbles has made us doubt our bread baking abilities…

So we ran up a little batch o’ buns just to remind ourselves we know how to do bread!

tight little buns

We ran around with a pair of them pretending they were jiggly boobies, shoulder shimmying at Simon…whilst making sexy noises (If speaking in a high pitched voice shouting “oooh, oooh, would you look at these lovely breasts” count as sexy noises).

A for effort, B for cup size

we should have added nipples

We feel better now…

 

Gloria’s Fruity Frolics: Experiment 2: A whole lotta Gloria!

Continuing on with the experiments into fruit bread…

sepia-why do things look better in brown?

The thing about keeping a sour-dough starter (sorry, non-human baking assistant) happy is you need to feed it flour and water regularly…like every few days.  Once the novelty of  making crumpets and English muffins wears off you end up with a monstrous amount of starter!

So, Gloria had gained a few El Bees over the Christmas period (that girls a sucker for Walnut Whips and Matchmakers); after a trip to Harley St. for a touch o’ lipo she was back down to her usual size for a while (she’s like the fungus Janet Jackson).  We had three options for dealing with the excess.

1) Give it away (Merry Christmas, have a bag of slop)

2) Throw it down the drain

or 3)…

Experiment 2: Big Mama Bread

So we had a pile of Gloria’s excess erm…thighs?  We decided to see if we could just add enough flour to get to a dough consistency.  About three parts Gloria flab to one part flour; then some spices and dried fruit and stuff.

Since she was in need of a feed I guessed it would be an eating-proving combo…she had to eat fast enough to pump up the dough…fork at the ready love?

We didn’t hold up much hope for this and after a whole afternoon with not much going on, we going to chuck it and call it a day…then she began to grow!

After a knock back, shaping and second proving she’d been reclining on her fat arse by the fire for about 9 hours (lazy bitch)…baking time!

The junk from the trunk

Considering all the proving time she didn’t really do that much work…the crumb was still rather dense…but this is not too much of a tragedy for a fruit loaf…

dumps like a truck, truck, truck

Despite the total rising lethargy, she toasted well…

slavered in budder...*drool*

Unsurprisingly, when you make bread will mostly sour-dough starter, it tastes…god damn sour!  This got mixed reviews from the boys,     Mykie thought it was pretty scrummy and that the sourness was an acceptable contrast against the fruit, Simon thought it was a bit funky tasting.

Experiment 2 has been comme ci, comme ça.  We learned it’s probably best not to use a heap of hungry starter and expect good things to happen (that should probably have been obvious).

If at first (or second) you don’t succeed…eat the evidence and pretend it never happened.

Gloria’s Fruity Frolics: Experiment 1: Queen Gloria of Bubbles

Hello, you remember Gloria, right? Our new born sour-dough baby that we hatched ourselves?  We have had her in the bakery wired up and running on a tread mill for some fruit bread experiments…

Hello Boys! Like the new hair?

We have baked three fruit loaves so far and messed around with different things each time.  Sometimes we treated Gloria like a Queen and gave her everything she could want; sometimes it was a prison tickle in a cold bowl…

Experiment 1: HRH Gloria Bubbles

Gloria, Queen of...this continental sized loaf.

So, we treated her right…like a queen, queen of the yeast people.  She was well fed and watered and frothing at the mouth (that’s a good thing);  Fresh, warm with a sour yeasty smell…good for sour-dough, if she were human we’d be suggesting Canesten Combi.  Her Majesty was massaged lovingly in a classic sour-dough ratio of:

  • 1 part HRH Gloria Bubbles
  • 2 parts liquid: we bathed her in a luke warm liquid whey that had been infused overnight with Fortnum & Mason Christmas tea; a whole beaten egg and some melted butter (only the best for Lady Bubbles).
  • 3 parts strong white flour

we also provided gifts (like the wise men, as it was Christmastime) of:

  • salt (great gift)
  • cinnamon (getting better…just)
  • ground ginger (keep the receipt)
  • a bounty of raisins and sultanas (meh)
  • a generous helping of candied mixed peel (Christmas morning is fun, fun, fun at Wondercat Bakery)

This, as you may notice was an enriched bread think “festive brioche” not “vajazzled bun” (whilst we are on that subject BTW, guess what our mother bought our sisters for Christmas?? INAPPROPRIATE!!!)

Gloria performed well at cranking out the bubbles.  We played Michael Bublé to help her along…his Christmas album is totally delightful BTW (we were wailing along to it for weeeeeks…Santa Buddy put a Rolex under the treeee)!  Don’t expect crazy fast proving like you get with that fast-action-fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants yeast, it takes ages to double in size;  so long, that after we’d shaped the loaf it didn’t appear risen enough before bedtime.  The next morning SHE WAS HUGE! Spread like a whore on a Harley.  We couldn’t be bothered knocking back again so we just baked the gigantic loaf of oaf.

Loaf of Oaf! Those reindeer? Actual size.

So the bread was a bit massive …

I like big bread and I can't deny...

but it was very tasty!  The crumb was fairly open and light the Christmas tea gave a yummy flavour and fragrance…and there was a slight sour-dough tang but not overpowering.

Baby Jebus fed 5000 with a loaf of bread? Pah! We could do that, hollow the remains out and sail it down the river.

Experiment 1 was a mixed bag.  Good for flavour, passable for texture…kind of disastrous for size and shape.  But hey-ho we’re only human (well, kitty cats) and half the fun of baking stuff is learning how things work (the other half is the eating).

Back to the drawing board…

(what exactly is a drawing board? a black board? who says drawing board? *we actually just googled “drawing board” and it is a thing but we’re leaving our rando rant in to demonstrate our ignorance…this is a post on learning stuff after all)

Bakers without Borders: Maple Marzipan Cookies

So last week we went over to The Vanilla Duck Bakery for dinner…

Mr Richard was hot smoking some pork belly and chicken on his home-made smoking contraption (OMG the most delicious meat EVER! Have you ever wanted to stick your face in a big hunk of meat and rub it all around? Us neither, until last week).  As the smoking thing can take anywhere from four to TWELVE hours(but worth every minute) we had a few hours to spare.  We decided to have a little bake in the Vanilla Duck’s kitchen!

Baking somewhere different with whatever you can find is such a fun challenge; like the shopping bag from Ready, Steady, Cook…or the lesser known Stump the Cook segment from The Splendid Table (go listen! Lynne Rossetto Kasper is soooo adorable, I want to hug her…lots).

Here’s what we came up with…

Maple Marzipan Cookies

  • 150g Plain Flour
  • 80g Butter
  • 80g Caster Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • Marzipan (of unknown quantity(oops))
  1. pre-heat the oven to 165ºC (or get whoever’s oven to do it for you!)
  2. rub butter into dry ingredients
  3. stir in maple syrup
  4. shape into a disk, wrap in cling and whack in the fridge for 20 mins
  5. whilst you wait, roll marzipan into Malteser size balls (you’ll need about 12 so factor this in if you are going to gobble any/many)
  6. TOP TIP: roll dough thickly (about 1cm) and cut out circles.  Though they are spreading cookies, you get a much more even spread and shape if you start from a uniform shape.
  7. get little Jack Horner and stick your thumb in each cookie to make a little nest for the marzipan balls…then stick a ball in (obv!)
  8. bake for about 13 mins

    trying to think "cookie" but our brains are screaming "eggs" and "breasts"

We didn’t leave enough room for spreadage so there was a bit of inappropriate touching going on (bad cookies, no means no).  Apart from that they were nummy! Lovely maple flavour coming through and that sticky, chewy cookie goodness that makes it super difficult not to wolf them all down (especially when you’re real hungry and can smell meat smoking).

Vanilla Duck took the pics...love that Ducky!

The wonderful thing we learned from our baking excursion is how much fun it is to bake with someone else!  The Vanilla Duck is awesome to hang out with and has so many good baking ideas!  I think there will be more collaborations in the future!

Choco-berry Tart: or, what can we throw together with stuff in the kitchen?

Another belated holiday post…we could have gotten away with this one using selective, none festive photos…but no; we will be honest and use the pic with the big ole Christmas tree…

oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how belated are your branches

So let’s set the scene *screen goes wavy, twinkly music*

  1. Mr Adam and Mr Jon where coming over for dinner and games (yes, we’re those sort of people)
  2. We are in charge of a dessert (Simon is making tuna meatballs for main)
  3. The kitchen is stuffed so full of holiday food it would make a turkey blush
  4. We were sure we could throw something together with what we had in already (and if we had to endure one more trip to a ridiculously crowded Waitrose, we’d have vomited on the Quick-Scan machine)

Say hello to Choco-berry Tart!

here's something we just threw together *strikes best domestic goddess pose*

For the crust, we had some cookie dough (from the reindeer biscuits) in the freezer. We thawed it,rolled it, baked it, cooled it…then smashed the fuck out of it with a rolling pin…then mixed the crumbs with melted butter and squished it into a tart tin (coffee ground tamper from coffee machine is awesome for this!)

crusty, a bit thick? was actually good balance of crunch to squadge

For the filling, we had been given a jar of “M&S Blackcurrant and Cassis Mousse Base” in a hamper from Granny Dot and Grandpa Mike (such a good hamper! bottle of Quady’s Elysiumin there too!) which you just stirred into whipped cream…Yes, this did fill us with shame and guilt at the thought of using shop bought stuff and passing it off as home baking has us weak at the knee and hyperventilating into a paper bag *gives a sharp look in Lorraine Pascale’s direction*.  It was fine though, better than fine actually, and we would have stopped there, but the guilt, OH THE GUILT! It gnawed at our soul! So we took some port, blackcurrant jam (homemade from the hamper, told you it was an awesome hamper!) and leaf gelatine and ran up a jelly/glaze for the top.

Finally, we shaved some white chocolate over the top, piped some left over cream from the mousse (grabs paper bag) and threw on some blackberries that we dusted with a deep red luster dust and black glitter (another guilt relieving extra step -OUT DAMN SPOT).

guilt numbing decoration

 

This was going to be a smug “baking just takes a bit of thought and you can find everything you need in the kitchen” post; but who are we trying to kid? It was bloody Christmas! If we couldn’t find shit to throw together some kind of dessert, it would be more surprising!

Tart tasted good through, and the M&S Mousse Base was actually *gags, sits down, swigs gin* damn gorgeous (much to our chagrin…and you still ain’t off the hook Ms. Pascale).

our knife always fooks up the pretty layering *googles "home laser cutter"*

What we will say is that baking doesn’t take a lot of effort or planning. It is something you can do on a whim…keep some butter, flour, sugar, eggs around and you are pretty much good to go!

We think this is the last Christmas post but we’ve seen Creme Eggs and hot cross buns for sale already so we’re not going to make any apologies if a tree pops into a shot in the next few entries.

TTFN love,

Baking Drunk on NYE: Why do we do these things?

Sooooo…after a night of revelry and much fine food, champagnes and cocktails (then span around on the Manchester Wheel) at Harvey Nichols we were for lack of a better word, fooked…

well on our merry way

What do most people do on returning home from a night out? Probably not raid the Christmas sweets (well maybe you do, I’m not judging) then bake sour-dough bread.

I think we decided fresh bread would be AMAZING to wake up to New Year’s Day (in theory this is true).

So in the battle of “drunken stupor” vs “autonomic baking abilities” it was probably just in favour of the baking…I’m sooooooooo surprised there was anything edible in the morning.

What we did find on stumbling downstairs armed with a cracking headache, one slipper and one sock at 6am (for a much needed glass of water!) was a loaf proving in a tin!!!!

the NYE elves must have made it

Still not sure how this happened but there was the scent of sesame oil in the air so we sprinkled it with some black and white sesame seeds and baked it!

well it looks like bread...

A bit dense and doughy as I’m really not sure what was involved in the making of it or what sort of rising/proving time was involved but it tasted acceptable…actually it was rather nice!

it smells like bread...

it tastes like bread! WTF!

So it appears we can actually bake with our eyes closed (or brain closed)!