Time flies when you're...

...staring a new job! It's been two whole months since my last blog post! Where has the time gone!

So let me start with the new...

I started a new job as a Regional trainer, I was to travel my neck of the woods delivering training for new systems that were to be implemented over the coming year. 
A company car was promised and it was all going really well...
Until it stopped!

Basically the system wasn't quite ready for roll out and the job has ended until January. I am still employed but I'm currently unsure as to what I will be doing over the coming months.

Because of the new job i've not had the time to bake and cook as much as I normally do but never fear! I've been on holiday this week and i've spent some time in the kitchen.






Last Sunday was the Wimbledon final and I love any excuse to have a BBQ and crack open the pimms. This year Emma came to play and we decided to go all out food wise. I made some home made Brioche burger buns for the occasion.


I used Will Torrent's brioche recipe but had to make some home made bun rings out of tin foil, Much easier than you would think!



They turned out rather well don't you think? They were beautifully buttery.




I also made some cinnamon rolls to keep myself amused! The picture doesn't do them justice but they were devoured by the family and I dropped some into my old colleagues for their morning break.



I also tried 2 recipes from Sabrina Ghayour's book "Persiana". First was her sour cherry lamb meatballs in a spiced tomato sauce. I really cannot speak highly enough of this recipe! It was bloody lush!
Also tried the Lemon Saffron Chicken which was beautiful, perfect for a warm summers evening.

As it has been so long since i've blogged or had time to go out an enjoy the food of life... (well...food..) I've decided to dedicate this entire weekend to the Bristol Foodies Festival.

You might remember I went last year and had a brilliant time, If not take a look here and see what you missed.

This years event is looking great, the winner of this years master chef (Ping Coombes) is one of the guest chefs and I cannot wait to see what she creates. She's from Bath and it will be great to see some local talent!

There is also the Master Chef street food bus! This is probably where you will find me over the entire course of the weekend!

Other demonstrations include Larkin Cen from MasterChef 2013 and Glenn Cosby from GBBO 2013. 

If you fancy coming along tickets are still on sale online or on the door over the course of the weekend.

Go on...

Eat well!



Life....

...sometimes i really wish i was more decisive!
i set myself targets or aims in life and always end up getting close to them and then changing my mind or chickening out!

an example of this would be my australian dream. i so want to go but every time i think about it i find something else to occupy my time with.

recently (with the help of this blog) some pretty amazing things have been happening in life which have confused me even further.









over the last few months i have been busy in the kitchen cooking and baking, sharing with you all via the blog and twitter. i've had some amazing comments from readers and chefs alike, including GBBO, Ching-he Huang, John Whaite and Nigel Slater.

my boss took me to a conference at work and encouraged me to follow my passion in cooking and told me to contact someone within the company to see if there was any work i could do around food. amazingly with one small email i was offered some work experience with the product development team. i just need to organise a time to go, and find myself somewhere to stay in London whilst working in the city.

after watching this years bake off i am even more determined to apply for GBBO 2014. so i've made a decision!

when the applications open i am going to take the leap and apply. if i'm lucky enough to get through then i will do my best and get as far as i can.

should i not get through i'm going to return to college and spend some of my savings doing a course in either patisserie, professional chefing...is that a word? or something along those lines.

and then finally i'll go to australia before i turn 30 and use my new skills to work my way around the country. they are crying out for chefs apparently!

so i've got my revised plan..i just need to stick to it!





Total Saving
£1,500



As promised... Egg Custard Tarts...



...what a couple of weeks its been! i seriously don't feel like i have had a single day off. work has been taking up a lot of time recently what with traveling the region to train new starters and organising a charity event (which was a HUGE success!).

the aim of the event was to get all of my colleagues to attend so that we could give them an update on whats going on within the company, raise colleague moral and also raise some money for charity. we were hoping to have at least 40 colleagues turn up to the night and we were over whelmed when 90 people turned up.

the evening was brilliant, we cooked a host of foods for the masses, i did a sampling session with some of the new lines we are going to be selling AND we raised almost £400 for Hope4Kids.

had my oven of been working we may have raised even more but sadly it decided to break 3 days before hand so i was unable to bake a single thing...ITS BEEN 3 WEEKS SINCE MY LAST BAKE!!

starting to have withdrawal symptoms now but never fear, the engineer is coming tomorrow to repair it and then i have the weekend off to bake to my hearts content.

a few weeks ago (when the oven was working) i watched the episode of bake off where they were asked to create egg custard tarts. until this point i had never actually had one, so decided to check out the recipe and give them a bash the following morning.

lucky for me i had everything i needed in the cupboard so didn't need to go shopping.

you will need:

for the sweet pastry:

165g plain flour
25g ground almonds
120g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
55g caster sugar
1 medium egg

for the custard filling:

700ml full fat milk
7 medium egg yolks at room temperature
90g caster sugar
freshly grated nutmeg







firstly you need to make the pastry. start by mixing the flour and almonds together in a large bowl.







add the butter and rub together until it resembled fine bread crumbs.



stir in the caster sugar. now i decided to try something here, rather than using normal caster sugar i decided to go for a golden caster. i wanted the pastry to go really golden and have a slight caramel taste to it.




then break the egg into the bowl. work the egg in with your fingers and bring it all together until it becomes a soft dough.





tip the mixture onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball...





...then flatten the ball with your fingers so it forms a disc. wrap with cling film and stick it in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
have a tidy up, make a coffee and prepare the cutter you are going to use.



after 30 minutes remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out on a floured worktop. the recipe i used calls for the pastry to be rolled to 5mm thickness, however when i made my first batch i found that going that thin made it very tricky to handle so i went slightly thicker and made 10 cases rather than 12.

once rolled use an 11cm fluted round cutter and stamp out discs, carefully ease them into a muffin tin. as you can tell from the picture above i didn't have any fluted cutters so i went for a cutter than looks like it fell out of the 1980s, but it worked a treat!

place the muffin tin into the fridge to allow the pastry to cool back down. preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6.





to make the custard gently heat the milk in a pan until just below the boiling point...









whilst the milk is warming, whisk together the eggs and caster sugar until it becomes pale and creamy. such a lovely colour!
again for the custard i used golden caster sugar to add a little colour.




pour the warm milk onto the egg mixture whilst whisking, you want to do this slowly in a steady stream. whisk until the mixture is smooth with tiny little bubbles.

pour this mixture into a pouring jug, it makes the process of adding to the pastry a whole lot easier!

i found that this recipe makes ALOT of custard and i was left with half of what was made. i used the left overs to make bread pudding but you could probably double the pastry and make 2 batches in one.





remove the muffin tin from the fridge and place on the oven shelf, then pour the custard mixture into each case, going as high as you can without it going over the edges of the pastry.
grate the nutmeg over the top of each tart and then close the oven door and bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4 and continue to bake for another 10 minutes.










the next task is to be patient! one of the biggest mistakes made on the bake off was attempting to remove the tarts from the tray before they had cooled. leave them alone on a wire rack for AT LEAST 30 minutes before even attempting to remove them.

when i posted the picture above on twitter in the morning GBBO actually retweeted me and said "Will they survive the scooping?"...



...i'm happy to say they did! and they were beautiful. the custard was perfectly done, with a slight wobble. the pastry although dark (because of the sugar used) was perfectly baked and had a caramel butter taste.

needless to say they didn't last long!




Lurpak actually shared my tarts on their Facebook page whilst they were running their pastry competition, i really thank them for that! a real confidence boost.

Challenge accepted: Petits Fours...

continuing the bake off theme, my next challenge was to create some petits fours.
i've made my fair share of madeleines before so this left like quite an easy one to do and i event managed to kill 2 birds with one stone! not only did this cover the bake of the week but it was also John Whaite's book club bake, so i entered it into a competition.




i was concentrating so hard on getting everything right with these that i completely forgot to take pictures of me making them, perhaps i shall revisit this at a later date.
the book club competition asked for you to create a bunch of John's rose madeleines. 




the recipe calls for them to be dipped in pink fondant and then drizzled with white chocolate. Personally i have to be in the right mood for white chocolate and this was not one of those times so i went for dark chocolate instead. i quite like the bold lines! has a bit more of an impact.







 i took lots of photos and entered them into the competition. sadly i didn't win the prize but i did win something...




...i won the prize of being able to eat them! SCORE!


Bread...a baffling thing...

...the next bake on my list was bread! now rather than following the technical challenge of the GBBO i felt i needed to do something much simpler.

i have never tried to make bread before but have always wanted to give it ago.

my first attempt was a successful failure. the bread itself was baked perfectly and the flavour was amazing BUT the ruddy thing stuck to the paper... i blame Paul Hollywood as it was one of his recipes and he didn't tell me to grease the paper...rude!

so this time i decided to stick to the baker that i knew would give full instructions *cough*

i went for John Whaite's "perfection in a plain loaf" recipe.

for this you will need:

500g strong white flour
10g salt
20g sugar
10g fast action yeast
100ml milk
240ml tepid water
40g unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil




start by mixing the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl.




next add the yeast and mix it through...

as this was my second attempt at bread i decided to use my mixer with a dough attachment. (follow your mixers instructions if also planning on using the dough hook as it does say a maximum speed)




stir together the milk, water and butter in a jug and then turn on the mixer to the required speed. slowly add the liquid and allow the mixer to knead the dough for 6 minutes.





place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover the bowl with cling film, place to one side to rise for one hour or until doubled in size. (or if you are lucky like me, shove it in the oven with the prove function on..who knew it had that! not me!)




as you can see, after an hour it is a beast! tip it out and knock the dough back (this delates it so don't worry if it looses some of its beastliness!)





roll the dough into a sausage shape the size of the loaf tin you own. i only had 2 small tins so split the dough in half at this point...i made a bit of a mess also...

cover the tin(s) with cling film and set aside until doubled in size once again. 

Preheat the oven to 200ºc/Gas 6. once the dough is risen pop in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the bread makes a hollow sound when tipped out and tapped on the bottom.








and there you have it, a lovely white loaf!

what ever you do, do not ask me any questions about bread...as i really have no idea! its baffling!



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!