Sinfully delicious chocolate cake...





as i mentioned earlier i'm trying to bake along side the GBBO series, partially as i would be baking something any way, but mostly to practice as i hope to enter into next years competition.

week ones episode was all about cake. i started by baking a victoria sandwich and it went down so quickly that i didn't even get a picture... apparently they liked it!

so the weekend after i finally managed to come true on my promise by making Emma a birthday cake, a belated one at that!

i decided to go for a chocolate cake with a white chocolate ganache filling. it really is an easy cake to make and i think it is probably one of the nicest i have made! 

you will need:




for the cake:
190g self-raising flour
150g caster sugar
2 level tbsp cocoa powder
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 level tsp baking powder
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 free-range eggs
150ml sunflower oil
150m milk

for the icing:
200g white chocolate
150ml double cream
125g full-fat cream cheese


the method really is simple...
pre heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 then grease and line your chosen tins. i used 2 8inch loose bottom tins.






simply sift all of the dry ingredients together and then make a well in the center. Add the syrup, eggs, oil and milk into the well and mix.



separate into 2 tins evenly and then bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake springs back when you poke it with your greedy little finger!



remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from the pans and placing on to a wire rack.



to make the icing simply break the chocolate into a bowl and then heat the double cream in a pan until its very hot (just don't let it boil).
pour the cream over the chocolate and stir, the heat from the cream will melt the chocolate. Set the mixture aside and allow it to cool slightly.

place the cream cheese into another bowl and gradually add the slightly chilled chocolate mixture. mix well until combined and then set aside to firm up.




once the icing has thickened up, build the cake...

and finally..




SCOFF!

cake wednesday transforms into bake off wednesday...

as you may well know every wednesday Fran and i battle it out at work with baked goods, filling the stomachs of our colleagues after a long evening.

the bake off has recently started and its taking the nation by storm once again. this in all honesty is the first year i've actually set it up to record, the other series i've watched snippets of...but shhhhhhh don't tell John! (i did watch that series the night before the bloggers bake day!)

i've been thinking about entering the competition myself for a little while now but i've always been a little concerned that there would be a lot of stuff i wouldn't have tried before, but as everyone at work is hooked on the show we decided to turn cake wednesday into bake off wednesday!

every tuesday night i watch the show and attempt to create something from the show on the wednesday morning to take in for my shift.






so far its going really well! the victoria sponge went down a storm,sadly i didn't get a picture of it..it went that quickly! But never fear i made another cake to show you for Emma's belated birthday. i've also tackled 2 types of bread and i have just finished a batch of madeleines.

i'm going to sort out the recipes and get them on later on today.

BRING ON THE BAKE OFF!


£1300

+£200

Total Saving
£1,500


Crab and sweetcorn soup..

...its been one of those weeks again. the kind of week where all you want to do it collapse in a heap when you get home.

today is my last day of work before a weeks holiday and i decided it was time to take action and have something warm and comforting as well as tasty and delicious.
luckily Ching He Huang took the effort out of it and posted a yummy recipe which was really quick and really tasty.






you will need:

1 litre of simmering water
2 tomatos
2 fresh corn kernels (or if tired like me, a can)
1 table spoon of vegetable bouillon
250g fresh crab meat (or canned..)
2 table spoons of light soy sauce
a pinch of ground white pepper
2 eggs
toasted sesame oil
1 table spoon of cornflour + 2 table spoons of cold water




firstly bring the water to simmering point, to me this seemed like a really alien way of starting a soup but trust me its awesome!




whilst the water is heating up cut each tomato in to 6 pieces.




once the water is simmering away, add the tomato...




if you have had a long week forget the fresh kernels of corn and go for a can! crack it open and drain the liquid..




add the corn and allow it to simmer away for 3 minutes to allow everything to soften up.



in the mean time prepare the spring onion, chopping them into small rounds. this will be used as a garnish.




after 3 minutes add the vegetable bouillon and give everything a good stir...




again if feeling lazy crack open the cans of crab meat and give them a quick fork, i found that the meat was very compact in the can so it needed to be broken up slightly...




add the crab to the soup and give it a good stir, from this point onwards everything moves quite quickly as the crab is already cooked so its just a case of heating through...

add the white pepper and light soy sauce and stir once again..




to thicken the soup you need to create a cornflour paste, mix one table spoon of cornflour with 2 tablespoons of COLD water.




whilst mixing the soup pour this mixture in, you should notice that the soup thickens almost immediately...




crack the eggs into a jug and whisk until combined...



with a fork stir the soup and gently pour in the egg mixture. you will notice that as the egg hits the soup mixture it begins to cook, forming a web like structure.

finally add the spring onions and a splash of sesame oil, grab a bowl and enjoy!




the soup takes minutes to prepare and it so delicious. once served you could even sprinkle on some toasted sesame seeds if you liked.

i would recommend this to anyone feeling a little under the weather or in need of a food hug.

give it ago, you will love it!

a little update..

...so as you may have noticed things have been pretty quiet on The Broke Boy recently.

i can't honestly give a reason why this is, its just been one of those months where the days seem to have merged and nothing is getting done.

i thought i would do a little update of some of the little things i have been doing with my spare time (or lack of it).




recently i have became a bit more adventurous in the kitchen, moving away from purely baking and trying my hand at roast pork. i have to say it was ruddy lovely, the crackling was amazing and the squash, carrot and leeks were cooked to perfection!




i ventured to Bath once again with Fran last thursday and we paid Jamie Oliver's italian a visit. i signed up for a gold membership card on my last visit to london so got £10 off the bill. 2 courses each for the grand sum of £28! lovely food, lovely view, lovely company, shame about the weather!




Ringo has been a very tired boy recently. i think he might have found himself a girlfriend. he is out all night and in bed all day. i found him like this in my parents bed..how cute?!




if you are walking down the road or sat on a train and see someone getting furious with their phone, its probably me! i've become so addicted to minion rush that its my go to thing at lunch time now...over food!



speaking of food, a customer at work came in with a pot of home made blackberry jelly for me the other day. now i know what you are thinking but no, it's doesn't contain any illegal substances that could knock me out...
but my god it makes a nice cake! i spread some between 2 layers of sponge and topped with some whipped double cream. beautiful!





i saw this online today and hovered my mouse over the buy button for quite some time before chickening out. the colour goes completely with my kitchen (i have the orange K mix toaster and kettle) and its a Kitchen aid..what more need be said!?! 

its just a lot of money to put out on a mixer at the moment.

on the Australia front i am still undecided as what to do. the more time i spend thinking about it the more and more i get into baking and cooking. what i really need to do is either book a plane ticket or find some way of getting some experience in a professional patisserie/kitchen.

i have been putting some feelers out with regards to work experience but no where seems to be offering kitchen experience, it all seems to be front of house. if you are reading this and can offer any kind of work experience in a kitchen please, get in touch!

and finally...

i haven't signed off a post with my savings for a little while but its about time i did...its grown a bit...

hopefully normal service will resume soon! i have some exciting recipes i want to try!



£900

+£400

Total Saving
£1,300

START THE BUS...



...but don't leave without me!

so last weekend was the bristol harbour festival. i had never been before so me and the lovely Emma (aka Boom Boom) decided we would venture up to bristol.

we got on the train with a lunch target in mind!




start the bus is an awesome little dinner tucked away by the bristol hippodrome. we have been talking about going for ages but only just got around to it.




i was extremely excited, mainly because of the chicken that Boom Boom had been going on about for months! 










the menu has lots of different options from burgers to sliders, fried chicken to macaroni cheese. with lots of sides, toppings and extras! check it out here.








 we both went for the hot and kickin' chicken. my god! it was amazing! 3 massive bits of chicken served with fluffy fries and a pot of glorious hot sauce. 
chicken is mine and Boom Booms down fall, if there is chicken on the menu we are going to order it! its a shame really as i would of liked to have tried the burgers and stuff but hey! theres always next time!

the chicken fell off the bone and was juicy and oh so tasty. the little pot of hot sauce was thrown over and it was a awesome!

i love spice but i don't like when it burns the mouth and leaves you gasping for water, i like it when you can taste the heat but the second it leaves your mouth you feel ready for more! this ticked all those boxes.

if you are in the bristol area i would recommend a trip! 





after we sucked the bones dry we headed over to queens square, grabbed a drink and watched the crowds dance around the stage. the heavens opened but if anything it made it even better!









such a wonderful atmosphere and a brilliant day with the bestie.

cannot wait for next year!









a foodies dream...

something is seriously wrong with this weather...i mean its been constantly hot for over a week...is the world ending?

anyway! this lovely weather was just what was required for a beautiful day full of food and fun!

as i mentioned a week or so ago, i was given some tickets to go to the Bristol Foodies festival! the parents and i along with my friend Fran descended upon the harbour shortly after it started!

as we entered we were greeted by a massive queue for the demonstration tickets, luckily though the people giving out the tickets were incredibly organised and we didn't have to wait long at all. we managed to get tickets to see Manisha Parmar from the great british bake off and Larkin Cen from master chef. this made me VERY excited!









the food adventure was then ours to be had! we started by wandering the entire festival to get an idea of size and what kind of stalls were about. we were greeted by glorious cakes and slices by The Ginger Bakersdelicious smoked cheese, flavoursome fudges and some vibrant macaroons which made me very jealous! (by Dimkins)







we then ventured down the steps and were greeted by pots of glorious food just waiting for us to give in to our lunch time urges, there was so much of it i don't really know where to begin.

chinese, japanese, mexican..the choices were endless! 







we decided to have a refreshing glass of pimms before deciding what to eat, as it was literally to hot to think! 

i love almost everything about pimms, i love the cooling first sip, the juicy fruit swimming around the straw and the feast that happens when you finish drinking.
the only thing i am not usually keen on is the mint. i love mint with most things but it seems wrong with pimms...it seems to over power the drink.

HOWEVER! the girls that whipped this little beauty up for me must have magical powers! the mint ramped all up the flavours and made the drink incredibly refreshing. 

note to self - smash all the fruit together with the ice before adding the booze!





i have to laugh at this sign! when we arrived the festival had only just opened so it wasn't that busy (outside of the ticket line). maybe the pimms went to our heads...but Fran and i both posed by the sign at the same time doing an erotic pose... childish...NAH!

as the day went on we caught more and more people posing next to it clutching their junk... haha!






there were literally hundreds of flavour combinations on this fudge stall. Fran just couldn't resist.





had it not of been so hot i think i would of spent more time shopping for ingredients. vast amounts of salami stacked up high tempted my taste buds but the heat stopped me.




it was then time for the first demo of the day with Manisha and special guest Ryan Chong.
i don't think he expected to be called up on stage as he was stood at the back to begin with! 




they whipped up some quick scones and we all got to have a taste.
(i think Ryan was feeling the heat a little...)




after the first demo we decided we couldn't fight our urges any longer and popped down the steps once again for lunch.
we decided to go to The Quack Shack. serving up delicious duck dishes with a twist, our mouths were watering firstly from the smell and secondly from the amazing menu.




we started with some quackling, crispy duck skins...need i say any more than that? 
actually yes...it was INSANELY GOOD! i could of gone back and ordered 5 more bags, perfectly crunchy and salty...food porn!






we both then went for the shack burger. i have to say this wasn't the best burger i have ever had, but it was great to see something different!
the burger itself had an amazing flavor, the orange really complimented the burger. topped with the onion jam which gave an added sweetness to the stack and at the bottom...well... the beetroot slaw! that was something to behold! may have to give making that a go!

 


after the salty quackling we naturally needed a drink.. so we decided to get a pitcher of the good stuff...it didn't last long!





time flies when you are having fun! next up in the demo tent was Larkin Cen, finalist on master chef 2013. i was particularly excited about this as i've grown a bit of an addiction to asian inspired cooking.

i hadn't watched much of master chef so didn't really know who he was but quickly came to realise just why he was in the final. he was a genuinely nice guy with a wicked sense of humour and a real talent in the kitchen.

he prepared two dishes in the 45 minute demo.




first of all he started with seabass topped with wontons, served in a mushroom and lemongrass consommé. the smell was divine! i wanted to face plant the dish and scoff the whole thing!




secondly he prepared lamb shoulder with a home made BBQ glaze. i had never considered mixing those 2 flavours but after seeing this i cant believe i haven't seen it before!

the glaze was quick and easy to make, light soy, ketchup, worcestershire sauce and a little bit of brown sugar. when i got home i quickly whipped up a batch and smothered it on some chicken! YUM!






after the demo he let everyone go to the front and take pictures of the food and get a picture with him. i opted to stay out of the picture (i'm not photogenic on the best of days, let alone when i'm sweating like a...well....you get the idea!)

bravery came over me and i gave him one of my newly printed business cards! after that i threw them out left right and centre...if i can give one to him i can give them to anyone!




i never thought i would complain about finally getting some form of summer, but the heat really did make the day short lived. it was just to hot to stay much longer so we decided to quickly whip round the stalls and gather up some tasty treats for later.

i popped to the Dig in market stall and grabbed some peaches and plums. they were perfectly ripened and left me with a juicy face.







then it was on to the Ginger bakers. i decided to go for a delicious brownie and a scrumptious pecan and caramel shortbread!

these are the kinds of bakes i love! they have that fresh out of the oven home made feel about them yet pack a real punch in the flavour department.

if you ever see them selling there goods, don't keep walking...STOP and stuff your face..seriously you won't regret it!

i gave them a business card and asked them to let me know if they ever had any work experience available. worth an ask!



final stop was the Dimkin's Patisserie stall for some macaroons. the range of colours and flavours was insane, everyone that walked past this stall stopped and took in their beauty.

don't they look amazing?

sadly though i felt a little bit let down by them.

i went for 2 passionfruit, 1 raspberry, 1 champagne and 1 bubblegum flavour. the flavours didn't seem all that strong, there was a subtle hint but i was expecting an explosion. the texture of them was quite hard as well but this could of been because of the heat outside.


all in all it was a beautiful day and i was so pleased we managed to get there.

thanks again to the Foodies Festival organisers for the free tickets. 

if you are a foodie addict try and get to one of the events around the country. you will love it!

Multi bake day part 3...the final chapter...

so the weather didn't stop and my room/blogger den has been like a sauna, i haven't even really wanted to enter it to sleep!

its gone slightly cooler tonight though so i stole the fan from downstairs and have plonked it in front of myself to get this lovely little post done!

the final part of my day with the lovely bloggers...oh..and John of course haha!





the workshop itself is situated in greenwich, about a 10 minute walk from Cutty Sark station. as you peer out of the front door to the building you are greeted with an amazing view of the Thames, the O2 and the city.

anyway! back to the backing!




we removed the pastry from the fridge and rolled it out again but because it was so hot outside we had to take drastic action and shove it in the freezer for a little while, this helped firm the butter back up which allowed us to carry on with the final roll.

for the final roll rather than using flour we used golden caster sugar. this is what gave the palmiers the sweetness and also helped to make them golden when baking.

once we had all rolled out our individual pastry john came round with a sharp knife and chopped off any uneven edges, i squirmed at this, having a very vivid flash back to the bake off!


He's coming to get you!



after we had all been trimmed, we folded the pastry in half length ways and then flattened it back out again, this gave us a guide for folding.
we then folded the edges over and repeated until both sides met in the middle.
after slicing them with a sharp knife we placed them on a baking tray and popped them in the oven.




i was very impressed with how they came out! beautifully golden and puffed up yet keeping the glorious shape.




they tasted beautiful, the buttery pastry and the sweetness of the golden sugar was perfect. i have to say i think i prefer the savoury variety but i am more of a savoury person (even if i do bake a lot of sweet stuff!!!)


this really brings an end to a brilliant day, it was the most fun i have had in a long time and it was so nice to meet new people that had similar interests. i went feeling quite nervous but came out feeling extremely confident and ready to give lots of new bakes i had previously been scared to try a go!

John has something about him that really made the experience, he was so down to earth and a genuinely nice guy!


he kindly personalised his book for me and presented us all with some goodie bags...

the bags contained 2 types of vanilla (paste and extract), 4 flavouring extracts (Lemon + Almond extract, Rose + Orange Blossom water) and 4 types of sugar (dark muscovado, light muscovado, golden caster and golden icing). the bag also had a le creuset bake wear guide and a signed recipe.
i was not expecting this kind of generosity, although i did have my eye on one of the mixers...*cough cough*

finally here are the rest of the questions i asked John during the Q+A:



me: What are your favourite flavour combinations?

John: That's too tricky a question. My flavour combination always depends on my mood, but I've just done a recipe for a fig, 
stilton and quince pizza which really is delicious.

me: If you were to be stranded on a tropical island which was equipped with a fully functioning kitchen, what one item would you take with you from your own and why?

John: My KitchenAid - I can beat, mix and knead with one machine. But I'd have to be able to fashion a baking sheet from some scrap metal.

me: Other than writing the second book, what are you currently working on?

John: I'm currently on a six month break from Le Cordon Bleu so that I am able to concentrate on the second book. But I'm also doing baking classes in Greenwich, and bits of TV work here and there.

me: Cronut or Dosant?

John: Cronut sounds better. 

me:You mentioned that you are on break from Le Cordon Bleu, How are you finding the experience and what exactly are you doing there?

John: Le Cordon Bleu is fabulously French. We learn the fundamental French techniques of Patisserie and Baking, and then we can apply those to our own experiments and our own baking. It is intense and heavy going, but I really do love it.

me: People often talk about the science behind baking but i prefer to think of it as "the magic of baking". Are there any books that you recommend to get a real understanding of the art other than the usual recipe books?

John: The best books that I use are: Ratio by Michael Rhulman, and On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee.

me: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

John: Hopefully having written a good number of cook books, and with a successful patisserie. Touch wood.

me: What can you tell us about The Great British bake off application process?

John: It's long, intense, nerve wracking. There are a number of stages, from phone calls, to interviews, and even a Psycho analysis!

me: Do you require a personal assistant/food taster? as I would be willing to do this for free...haha

John: HAHA. You'd get sick of my bossiness! 


I'd like to give John a massive round of applause for not only giving a great class and teaching us all something, but also for coping with a group of questioning bloggers. 

thank you so much for making it a brilliant day John and i look forward to booking more classes with you in the future.

a list of Johns classes can be found here. i would highly recommend them to anyone who is interested in baking, at any level! i plan on booking to go to the christmas ginger bread house workshop! sounds amazing!


as i mentioned before i will be going over each recipe in detail on the blog over the next few weeks. 

i hope you have enjoyed reading!


 




Multi bake day...part two...


where was i....ah yes!




BUBBLES!





so next we moved onto the macaroons! for health and safety reasons John prepped the italian meringue and divided it up between the class.

we started off with ground almonds and icing sugar which had been blitzed together in a food processor.





we then added the italian meringue and began to fold the ingredients together(the french call this macaronage). one of the tips given by John was that folding ingredients doesn't have to be a slow process, its actually better if you are quick. once the ingredients came together we added the colouring of our choice. i tried to go for orange to match the top of the blog, but sadly it turned out more peach than orange!
we then continued to fold until the mixture fell of the spatula like "magma".

we then popped it into a piping bag and snipped off the end.

after piping out blobs of the mixture we went crazy and slammed the sheet down on the unit a few times! (this helps remove any large air pockets within the meringue..we didn't do it because we were drunk...although i did giggle..) next you dip your finger in a little water and push down any points that may of formed from the piping..or as John said.."Are you going to come over here and tweek your nipples?"...i had heard he had a wicked sense of humour but i didn't realise it was almost identical to my own.

they took roughly 12 minutes in the oven, opening the oven rapidly every 4 minutes to release some of the heat.








once they were done we removed them from the oven and allowed them to cool. mean while we put together a buttercream and flavoured it to our liking, i decided to go for orange blossom and it was very tasty!

a tip John gave me for butter cream was to use the K beater on a free standing mixer to bring the icing sugar and butter together, and then to switch to the whisk attachment to really whip the icing! i will have to give this a go when i make a birthday cake on thursday.

once the macaroons had cooled we peeled the paper away from them and placed them in pairs, matching the size and shape.

we then piped a small amount of butter cream onto one half of the macaroons and then gently sandwiched them together!





this was the one item i was most nervous about, they are notoriously difficult to make and i have never attempted them before. thankfully they turned out really well and i was so pleased with them!

there is something highly satisfying about making macaroons...i cant quite put my finger on what that is but i think its because they are well known for being difficult, when they turn out right they are really worth the effort! i look forward to making them again this week (so much so i have already been to the shop and stocked up on ingredients).





heres a line up of the different colours, sizes and shapes from the class, not bad eh?!


rather than posting in depth recipes with these posts i have decided to do them separately over the next few weeks, otherwise i could be sat at this computer for hours and with this heat...i dont think i can bare it!


part 3 will be up over the next few days so keep checking back! 

Multi Bake Day...Part one..

i am finding it very difficult to put into words just how amazing yesterday actually was, but i will give it ago.

for those of you that are not aware, yesterday i attended a food bloggers multi bake day with John Whaite (winner of the great british bake off 2012)

the day started off by getting up stupidly early to get the 7.32am train to london. i hauled myself out of bed and quickly remembered by my alarm was going off at an unearthly hour! suddenly the time didn't matter and i was ready to leave in what felt like minutes.

the train was on time (well...5 minutes late but thats good right?) and first class was almost empty. 

i arrived in london shortly before 10am and made my way to convent garden for an early lunch at the newly opened 
Shake Shack...but more on that tomorrow!





the class was held at the Vanilla workshop in Greenwich, this little gem of a kitchen is hidden away down an ally way with spectacular views of the thames and the O2.

i arrived just in time but lucky for me i was only the 3rd person to arrive! apparently following directions is not a strong suit of a food blogger! we all managed to get slightly lost.

John welcomed us all as if we were close friends, he seemed completely at ease and at home in the kitchen.

the others arrived and we had a quick introduction and then we got on with the baking! starting with the rough puff pastry for the Palmiers.

the heat in the kitchen was insane! we all began to melt simultaneously. 4 ovens on full whack and the amazing weather made it quite tricky to work with the pastry, we had to move quickly!




after rolling out the pastry for the first time we popped it in the fridge and cracked on with the madeleine mixture. for this we worked in pairs



this is Joanne. this lovely lady had a wicked sense of humour and was a pleasure to work with!

she got a new camera to bring with her and sadly hadn't read the online manual before coming! never the less the camera was brilliant and all she had to do was point and shoot! little bit jealous!






we mixed all the ingredients together in the correct fashion and proceeded to divide the mixture into 2 piping bags.




we then placed those in the fridge to thicken up a bit. according to John this is the french method and i would have to agree with him that it does make them a lot easier to divide amongst the tray.







it was then time for a little break and everyone got to talking about their own blogs and we all began badgering John with a relentless stream of questions.




most of the questions on the day were little things that came up in conversation and to remember all of it is beyond me! lucky for me though John held a Q+A via e-mail before the event, i think had we have asked all the email questions on the day he would of needed more than coffee!

me: If you could only bake one more thing, what would it be?

John: It would have to be something really indulgent, like croissants or my chocolate brownies (which are the best)

me: What was your favourite Bake off experience(other than winning)?

John: My favourite part was all behind the scenes: meeting up with my friends every weekend and going for dinner and drinks in Bristol. 

me: If there was one bake off challenge you could go back and redo, which would it be?

John: My Stollen - I couldn't get it right on the day, but I know it is so delicious when done right!

me: What advise would you give to someone who has completed a degree but wants to move into a career in baking without any qualifications in that field?

John: Experience - work in bakeries at stupid o'clock and see if you can get a real taste for it. You can never truly know what you want to do without experiencing it first.

me: What about baking tempted you away from Law?

John: I'm greedy! No, because I have artistic flair but can't express it in any other way than through food. And also because baking and cooking are the things I enjoy the most.



shortly after the break and the chatter a cork was popped and we all indulged in a glass of bubbly...i think John might have needed it!



once the madeleine mixture had cooled down we removed it from the fridge and pipped it down the centre of the tray. a little while later these little babies were pulled out of the oven, beautifully golden and the smell and taste of vanilla was out of this world!





Johns partner Paul was at hand yesterday to re fill our drinks and tidy up after us! he even popped to the shop for more bubbly! what a star!

this post is going to be a long one! its Pimms o'clock anyway now to celebrate Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, so part two will be up tomorrow...keep your eyes peeled!


Bristol Foodies Festival...

...so things keep getting better and better!




i have been thinking about buying some tickets for me and the family to the Bristol Foodies Festival on the harbor side for a few months now but we were a bit unsure as to weither my parents would be in the area to go.

they have now decided that yes they will so i started looking into the different tickets.

i eventually decided that i would get a VIP ticket for myself and normal tickets for my parents are they weren't quite as excited for the chef theatre as i was.

this morning i turned on the computer to book the tickets but before i did so i decided to check twitter.

@foodiesfestival had tweeted asking any keen photographers to email them to get their hands on some free press passes.

i thought i would be a little bit cheeky and tweeted them asking if they were looking for any food bloggers and they asked me to email them...

...who knew my little blog could get me free passes!




its going to be a fun filled day full of food, drink and hopefully sun!


obviously my passion is baking and i am really looking forward to all the different cupcake stalls! hopefully it will be a really inspiring day and i hope to come back full of ideas and ready to try new things!







yummy!

i'm really looking forward to some of the cake and bake theatre's including the chocolate truffle masterclass by Coeur De Xocolat and the Sugar craft demo by Ann Pickard


contestant of the great british bake off Manisha Parmar will also be at the festival and will be giving bakery hints and tips! 2 contestants in one week! what more could i want!

the festival runs in bristol from friday the 12th of july until sunday the 14th and the tickets are actually a really good price...

...£12 for adults and £38 for VIP.

the festival is also at different locations throughout the summer, check here for more info!
ill make sure to take lots of pictures and report back to you with what i find... if i take a minute to stop eating that is! 





Oui Oui...

in two days time i will be in london baking and making yummy things with John Whaites. i recently found out that Emily and Bea will be attending as well!

as i have never made any of the goodies before i decided it might be a good idea to give them a go!


i decided to try Madeleine's! the madeleine or petite madeleine is a traditional small cake from Commercy and Liverdun, two communes of the Lorraine region in northeastern France, AKA yummy!

i stuck to Johns recipe for rose water but decided against the fondant. insad I went for a simple rose water icing using icing sugar, water and rose water.

considering i have never made these before im really pleased with how they turn out! they looked perfect and they tasted amazing!


in the morning i will be trying mushroom and parmasan rough puff pastry palmiers


on a slightly different note the final fundraising amount for cancer research was £266! id like to say a special thanks to all those who supported by buying the cupcakes and making the day such a success!

 

baking for a cure...


the bake sale was a success! took time to create all of the baked goods but was totally worth it.

in the end i decided to go for cherryade cupcakes, earl grey cupcakes and PB+J pinwheel cookies.



i nipped out tuesday morning and got all the ingredients today for a mammoth day of baking.



by the end of tuesday i had 72 cherryade made and ready to be decorated.




wednesday morning i made 2 rolls of pinwheel cookies and popped them in the fridge ready to be baked freshly shortly before the bake sale. i then made 32 earl grey cupcakes and began to ice them all!




thursday morning i was half expecting a mad rush to get everything decorated and finished off but it was actually very chilled. 




cookies baked, cupcakes decorated i made my way to work to begin the sale.




i decided the earl grey cupcakes (top) needed a topper, so i purchased a selection of miniature biscuits for people to select and put on top. the first bake sale go'er went for a jammy dodger earl grey cupcake and a cherryade cupcake (bottom).

the middle cupcake was made by my colleague pauline, vanilla topeed with a pink butterfly.



when i left after 4 hours the bucket was rammed with cash and we had made over £175 selling half of the cupcakes.

i'm not sure what the grand total is yet but i will find out tomorrow and let you all know.

i was so pleased to be part of such an amazing event, its a charity that is very close to my heart.

this one was for you both, Auntie Jean and Auntie Sue.



Threadless.com


now its time to put my feet up and have a nice cup of tea!

p.s how appropriate is the t-shirt?! just had to buy it!

Ask John a Question...

...next saturday i am going to a bloggers multi bake day with John Whaite....



its a disturbing fact but i am so excited i could wee! the chance to see a winner of the great british bake off in action and the opportunity to ask questions!

the only trouble is...what do i ask???


whilst i bake myself into oblivion getting ready for thursdays charity bake sale why dont you leave some questions as a comment below for me to ask him, i can then try and ask him as many as possible for you!




a cause close to my heart...

last week i was asked to create some pink cakes for a fund raising event at work. the event is taking place as we have a colleague returning to work after being treated for cancer. all money raised will be donated to Cancer Research UK.






they asked me to think of some ideas for baked goods that i could sell, including a pink cupcake.
i've decided to go for cherryade cupcakes, they went down really well last time i did a charity bake sale. they have ordered 120 of these.
lucky for me they are paying me 50p per cupcake to cover the ingredient cost and they are also paying me to stay at home part of the day on Wednesday to give me some time to bake.




the plan is to bake all of the cupcakes on Tuesday ready to be decorated on the morning of the bake sale. hopefully i will be able to make some peanut butter pinwheels in advance as they are easily stored and can be baked shortly before the sale.

 



i also have LOTS of creme eggs left over from easter which i need to use before July so i hope to make some brownies if time allows!

 


in other news!
i have entered the above cake into a competition! i was wondering if you guys would VOTE FOR ME?

click on the Link and go to the facebook competition APP. the cake is titled "Mad Hatters Tea Party Topsy Turvy Birthday Cake"

the people with the most votes get to the next round of the competition and the judges then decide on a winner. the prize is a Kitchen Aid Mixer


thanks in advance guys!


wok on...

...in the kitchen!
dad was away with work the other day and as usual mum and i were trying to decide on something to have for dinner.
lucky for us Ching was on hand (in book form) to guide the way to a delicious meal!

we decided to go for a chicken and cashew nut chow mein and let me tell you...it was YUM!

for the chicken
1 free-range egg
1 tbsp cornflour
pinch sea salt
500g skinless chicken breast fillets, sliced
300ml groundnut oil

for the stir fry
1 onion, sliced
1 yellow pepper, de-seeded, sliced into strips
1 red pepper, de-seeded, sliced into strips
1 carrot, peeled and cut into stripes
3 tbsp chicken stock
2-3 tbsp light soy sauce
2 large spring onions, sliced
4 tbsp roasted cashew nuts
sea salt and ground white pepper
ready cooked egg noodles
 

start by mixing the egg, cornflour and salt in a bowl until combined. at this stage my experimentation head took over and i decided to mix in a small amount of Chinese 5 spice. this is completely optional but i found it gave the chicken a bit of warmth!

pour this over the chicken and make sure to get every little bit of the chicken covered.

"Wok on, oil in" as Ching would say. for this recipe i went for my trusted non stick wok because it has a flat bottom and is steadier than my new one.

allow the oil to heat to a high heat, a great test for this is to throw in a small chunk of bread, if it just sits there the oil is not hot enough, if it sends the oil into a bubbling frenzy...its ready!

next gently place the chicken into the oil, make sure to place it in away from yourself as you will find it will start to spit hot oil everywhere. i did the chicken in 3 batches as my non stick wok is quite small and i didn't want a mass blob of chicken.

once the chicken is golden remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen towel to get rid of any excess oil.

 

drain all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the wok and place back on the heat. throw in the garlic, ginger and chilli and give it a quick stir. quickly throw in the onion for a minute or so then add the peppers and carrot and stir fry until they have softened slightly. throw the chicken back in the wok and stir fry for a few minutes.

next add the chicken stock and the soy sauce, allow it to simmer for a few minutes.


at this point add the noddles, cashew nuts and a hand full of spring onion. stir fry for a few more minutes to allow the noddles to loosen up. season to taste and serve!
 

AMAZING DAY.....

....for the last couple of days i have been looking into different things baking related and otherwise.

after purchasing a copy of John Whaite's book in london (autographed as well) i decided to follow him on twitter (@Johnwhaitebakes).




shortly after following he sent out a tweet about a Food blogger multi bake day so i decided to take a look. at first i was a bit unsure because of the price and the date, i wasn't sure if i would be able to get the time of work in such short notice. however after a lot of thinking i decided i would look into going.


amazingly i found some train tickets for the total price of £59 first class return from my home town to London Paddington (booking first class singles rather than a return). I thought about staying over night on the friday and then returning home after the day of baking as it was originally due to run from 10am to 3pm.

today i had another look and sadly the hotel i usually stay in is fully booked BUT! the times had been changed to 1pm-6pm which ment i had time to travel up on saturday morning and return the same day, saving myself £65 on hotel costs.

i had gone over it all in my head and decided to go for it. 

as i went to click on the link that would take me through to purchase i realised that the price had gone down from £140 to £100! i transfered money out of my savings account instantly and clicked on the link!

you are now reading the words of the proud over of a place at a food bloggers paradise, a day with a Great British Bake Off winner!

HOORAY!

shortly after this my phone lit up and i had an email. i recognised the name as one of my followers on twitter.




the email read as follows:

XXY magazine would like to invite you to this event we are hosting on tuesday next week, at Mahiki.
We hope to see you all there at the after party in collaboration with designers Joseph Turley and L.Lipop.
Also, we were wondering if you would want to collaborate as well with us making black cupcakes/or a cake with white icing spelling XXY.
Tell us if you're interested.

i feel completely honoured to be invited and so completely gutted that i cannot make it! what a great thing to be asked to do.
i had to email back and tell him i couldn't make it due to work and travel arrangements. 

kind of feels like one of those what if moments that i will probably regret for a very long time. 

but thank you so so much Pierre


london : mother, the market and me.

...so this weekend mother and i visited london, and i have to say i really enjoyed myself...even if we did reverse roles and i some how became the parent!


we arrived 10 minutes late due to signaling errors in swindon but thats nothing to get angry about. we clambered onto the tube and made our way to Portobello Market. i had read up before planning the weekend but i was not expecting this...

as we turned the corner onto the beginning of the market we entered a sea of people, so many faces eyeing nic nacs and enjoying the glorious weather.



of course my eye was instantly drawn to the hummingbird bakery shop but i was very strong willed and stayed away! partially because of the queue but manly because i am not a fan of the cakes from their bakeries.. 

don't get me wrong the recipes are amazing but they always taste better home made. something about the bakery made ones feels like it should be a long life product.








as i wandered down the market gazing at stalls i felt myself drift off into a harry potter inspired day dream, Diagon ally was calling my name!
at university one of my favorite lessons was the letter press and i stumbled across these beautiful sets! i don't know about you but i think there is something really special about these little gems. more to them than just a computer generated piece of type, a depth if you will...

i was very tempted to buy some but they would be wasted on me.





as if by magic the stalls then became a food bloggers paradise, the house elves of the market had been hard at work creating piles of doughnuts.... 



...breads and cupcakes...




i might get shunned for saying this but i always seem to find more fresh produce in london than i do anywhere at home in somerset! maybe its just because when i am home i'd either be working or recovering from working....who knows!




the vibrant colours were enough to get my creative juices (and my saliva) flowing. i wanted to grab everything and nibble a corner off.


had this of been on the second day or closer to home i think i would of been bankrupt within 10 minutes. my obsession with food and cooking is becoming more and more...well... obsessive...
i am constantly looking for ideas and ingredients and its getting quite costly haha.

maybe i chose the wrong career path?





mum got quite excited by all the olives, bucket after bucket of tasty little morsels that take you to a land far away where the sun is shining and the clear blue sea is lapping at the perfectly white sand.








did i mention the food? THE FOOD!





i love markets and i would recommend Portobello market to anyone visiting london. all i would say is make sure that you plan it so that you go near to the time you are going to be returning home as there will be things you want to buy but cant carry around london! we missed out on a very nice chilli plant sadly because of this.

more to come tomorrow!

mother, london and I...

...this saturday mum and i are going to london for the weekend, kind of a belated mothers day type thing!

we are traveling up first class on the train at 7.30 am and should arrive at 9.45 am.




we are going to start our weekend by hopping on the tube and visiting portobello market. this was more mum's idea that it was mine however i am really looking forward to it! i always enjoy markets are than i do being dragged around the shops. 

i am particularly looking forward to the fruit and veg stalls, it's just a shame that i won't be able to buy much because of staying in the hotel. never mind...i may sneak some fruit in!





after a busy morning of exploring the market we are heading over to Wahaca @ southbank.

i had lunch here with emma just before christmas and it was very nice! i'm looking forward to a nice beer or 6 here.





in the evening we are going to see Viva Forever. now i know what you are thinking..."haven't you already been?"...yes i have..but it was brilliant and mum wants to see it...ahem...





after a night in the hotel at Custom house we are planning on getting the Emirates skyline to the O2. we were planning on going on the London Eye but we have both done this before and want to try something new and the views from this are apparently brilliant.





we are thinking about visiting Greenwich market whilst over that way but thats not set in stone yet, there are a few other things that we want to do.



one thing that mum would really like to do is visit Buckingham palace and the surrounding area. as luck would have its the day for changing of the guard so we are going to plan on getting there around 11 am.

any recommendations would be greatly received as i can only think of things i have already done!




something i didn't have time to mention last week were these bad boys. i decided to stick to a simple recipe and make some vanilla cupcakes. the main reason was to practice pipping icing as i usually use a palette knife and swirl it.

i had lots of compliments about how these turned out but i wasn't 100% happy with them, i think its the perfectionist in me showing its ugly face again!

so... tomorrow morning before work i am going to make another batch of these but use some honey i purchased today (which has the comb inside the jar) as a sort of drizzle. i'm also going to break up the comb and put a little nugget on each cupcake...

i will update you all on how they turn out!

Australia....The big....The beautiful....The dream...

as some of you may be aware my dream is to go to australia. until recently i was unsure if this was a dream of a holiday adventure of between 3-4 weeks by myself to visit my family or a year long working holiday.
i say until recently because the more and more i thought about it the more and more i came to thinking i had nothing stopping me from taking the year to really explore.
since the thought process began i have been saving my hard earned pennies to begin the dream.

talking to people about their own travels has been a great source of advice. the main thing i have been told is to set a date in to travel and then plan for that, otherwise you may never end up going.
originally i was planning on traveling by myself but a close friend has decided she would like to come with me. we went out for a late lunch yesterday and discussed different aspects of going for a year including travel, work, accommodation and things we wanted to do.

here are a few of the things i would like to do....




on previous family holidays i have visited NSW, Queensland and parts of the Northern Territory. the obvious thing is i need to visit Western Australia!

one advantage to having family in Australia is that hopefully i will be able to stay with them for a few days to get settled into new surroundings and get on my feet (jet lag and other wise).

the best thing for me would be to fly into sydney and spend some time with my uncle and cousin Belinda.




one thing i have always regretted is not completing the harbor bridge climb. my uncle got us tickets for christmas when we were there once but because i was young and fooling i decided it was to early and to high to be climbing a bridge.


how stupid am i ?!?
this is certainly on my list!




next on my list is the great barrier reef. on a previous visit the weather was overcast and the sea was extremely choppy, that and the fact that was quite young put me off entering the water.

i would love to return to the lovely area of Port Douglas and visit the great barrier reef.





recently on BBC2 there has been a program called Australia with Simon Reeve. he introduces Australia in 2 ways, a multi cultural country on the edge of Asia and a country with amazingly diverse wildlife.

the thing that excited me most about the first episode was the indian pacific, a train that runs from Sydney to Perth. its the longest stretch of straight track in the world and travels through some amazing sights. the map above shows the route i would most like to travel. this is a very expensive way of getting from one place to another, however i am determined to do part of it at the very minimum.





during this journey i would also like to revisit the red center. in particular Uluru and Alice Springs. when i turned 18 we visited Alice springs and went quad biking, never before had i felt such a rush and been so incredibly dirty! it was like i had visited a tanning salon in Essex... TOTES!

thats all for now...
keep an eye out for more! 


a quick update...

...as you can probably tell i havent had much time to blog this last week or so. i have been at work since last tuesday and havent really done anything blog worthy.

some sad news though, which some of you may have heard about on the news if you live in somerset/bristol area.

the man who gave kindly gave me his camera collection a few weeks back sadly passed away last week. he was walking back to his boat with his wife and somehow they both ended up in the water at the harbour side. his wife managed to get out of the water but he was found the following day by the police diving team.

such a tragic accident and so very very sad.

i didn't really know Alan that well but dad went to school with him and his brother and i know he is very upset by it all.

its made me realise how quickly life can be taken away from you, but its also made me more determined to get on with my dreams and also get one of the camera's he gave me repaired to capture these amazing adventures.


more to come soon!


Alex