another charity bake sale...

so im on holiday :D which is lovely as i look to have chosen a great week off, the sun is shining and my sun glasses are out!

sadly though before finishing work, we were told that one of our regulars had passed away.
he had a rare genetic disorder called friedreich's ataxia and he had gone down hill over the last 8 weeks.

the funeral is next thursday so a group of us are going to go and pay our respects, he was a lovely man.

his mother was his carer and she took him out every day. she's asked that no one donates flowers, but instead donates money to the friedreich's ataxia charity as that would be what he wanted.

so yesterday i got out my mixing bowls and set to work making some baked goods to sell to raise some money for the charity.

these are lemon meringue cupcakes, i was a bit unsure about these at first as i haven't had much lucky with meringue before but they came out perfectly and were delicious! i will post the recipe later in the week.

i also decided to use up my chocolate covered coffee beans from Hotel chocolat and made Espresso cupcakes. again i was a bit worried they may be a tad strong but my god they were good!

and finally...i almost wet myself the other day when i realised that waitrose sell pumpkin puree! i have been looking for it for months and could only find it on really expensive american sweet shop websites. but this was a steal! 
i went ahead and made pumpkin cheesecake. now i know what you are thinking..."Pumpkin cheesecake..really!?" was goooooooooood!

i was expecting to take a lot of it home after the bake sale because its pumpkin but also because i rushed it at midnight whilst buzzing after eating an espresso cupcake (to check it tasted good obviously...)

to my amazement everything sold!

the bake sale itself raised £61! im fully chuffed and i'm so happy i did it for such a great cause.

i decided to treat myself, after all the sun was shining and i had done my good deed for the day. so i got myself a few bottles of wine to enjoy over the week.. (one bottles already gone so i apologise for any shlurring/typos...hic..)

mount riley is a lovely easy drink shall we call it? one that you can sip on without thinking its wine.

also as i am so into my cooking at the moment i decided to treat myself to "Kitchen" by Nigella Lawson. i have been watching her programs on TV a lot recently and find myself making sex noises when wrong but so right...ummm!

one last thing before i leave you in peace...someone tweeted this on thursday and i literally wet myself and just had to share it.. the tweet was something like "Tomorrow..." and then the picture... brilliant!

"blush" orange cheesecake part two

so as you may have guessed i decided to leave the cheesecake for two days as i find that it tastes much better if you wait! so this is part two, which is actually really easy.
ingredients you will need are 

100ml of orange juice, squeezed from the oranges you used.
2 leaves of gelatine. 

first off roll the oranges around under your hand on a work surface. this helps to release the juices and makes them easier to squeeze. i did this over a sieve just to catch all the unwanted pith/pips.

place the orange juice into a sauce pan and warm it up slightly over a low heat.

whilst the orange juice is warming up gently, place the gelatine leaves into some cold water until soft. the gelatine i used recommended a soak time of 5 minutes.

next up drain the water from the gelatine and keep hold of the leaves. remove the sauce pan from the heat and drop the leaves into the warm liquid. stir it around until the leaves are completely disolved and then allow the mixture to cool slightly. i transfered mine into a pyrex measuring jug as the pan was quite hot.

once that has chilled slightly remove your cheesecake from the fridge and pour the mixture over the top, ensuring you quickly move the liquid across the top as it starts to set almost instantly.

mine had a bit of a fat lip around the edge so it didnt quite look as perfect as i was hoping, but you get the jist from the above picture.
place the cheesecake back into the fridge for one hour to allowed the jelly to completely set.

after the jelly has set remove it from the fridge and carefully tease it away from the edges of the tin with a palette knife.

hopefully you should then have one yummy looking cheesecake!
for a first attempt at a baked cheesecake i dont think i did to badly. next time i would spend a little more time making sure it is flat on the top to avoid the jelly forming a bit of a puddle in the centre.

the only thing left to do now is to invite round your friends or family, make a pot of tea and slice this bad boy open. if its made correctly i can guarantee you will be surrounded by people going UMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM! 

my auntie came up for a cup of tea with mum and i, we polished off a fair chunk. she even took some home for later.

leave a comment if you try this recipe and let me know how it goes! 

"blush" orange cheesecake part one

so im on holiday from work this week and as you may know i have a love of baking. i decided that today would be the day that i got out my mixer and baked something from my new book cake days. i have to thank emma once again for this as it was a really kind birthday pressy. very thoughtful.

unfortunately when i popped into waitrose to pick up a few vital ingredients they didn't appear to have any blood oranges but never mind, i went for blush oranges instead and i have to say, snacking on one mid bake...fwahhhh what a scrummy orange!

so you will need :

220g of biscuits (i used digestives but its up to you)
100g of melted unsalted butter
as much orange zest as you can muster (i always use more zest)
700g of philly cream cheese (full fat, none of that light stuff)
100g of ricotta cheese
120g caster sugar
3 large eggs
save all the orange juice you can squeeze out of the oranges you used for zesting, this will be used in the final step (which will be posted separately)

firstly take your biscuits, dont worry if they are already broken as it wont make much difference in a second...

place the biscuits inside a bag of some sort, i used a freezer bag but anything you can seal will do.

and now for the fun part. smash the hell out of those yummy biscuits, these are not for dunking!

next take your butter and melt it. most books tell you to melt it on the hob in a pan but really, do i look like i have the time or patients for that?

time to add some zest to those biscuits, grate the zest of one blush orange and go ahead and stick that in a bowl with the biscuit. i used over a teaspoon of zest for my biscuit base as i love the flavour but zest at how you like it.

now its time to bring together the zesty biscuit with the melted butter. mix it all together until it starts to combine and form small clumps.

line a springform cake tin with parchment paper and pour in the biscuit mix. if you manage to spill any dont waste it, eat it!

spread the biscuit so that it covers the bottom of the tin and make sure its pressed down firmly to form the base of the cheesecake. go ahead and pop that in the fridge to set whilst you do the next part.

now get your mixer out, i splurged a few months ago and purchased a kenwood chef but a hand mixer will do.

put the philly, recotta and sugar into a bowl and mix until its all smooshed together nicely. then add a few teaspoons of orange zest into the mix, again it really is to your taste but i personally always use more than recommended. next chuck in one egg at a time and let that mix in with the other ingredients, kind of like a meet a greet...."hello mr philly im Alan egg, meet my sisters Mary and Pam"...oh dear....anyway....back to the cheesecake!

once thats all mixed together well remove the cake tin from the fridge and wrap the base and sides in kitchen foil, this will all make sense soon. Scoop the cheesecake mixture into the tin and spread it all about so that you have a nice even cheesecake top.

now pop that onto a baking tray and fill the baking tray with some water, enough to go about half way up the cake tin. this should stop it from drying out whilst it bakes.

place the tray into the oven for about 40 mins at 160, your oven may vary to mine so judge it yourself. just make sure that you keep an eye on it because it may split if its over cooked, you want it to start going a golden colour around the edges before you remove it.

just enough time to have a snuggle with my beautiful baby boy, Ringo. he turns one on friday, how exciting!

after 40 minutes my cheesecake was firming nicely on the edges and wibble wobbling about in the middle but it had not really gained any colour. i added 5 minutes onto the timer which was just enough time to give it a golden shimmer.

allow it to cool in the cake tin for a while before putting the whole thing into the fridge to chill. most books tell you to leave a cheesecake in the fridge for a few overs or over night. but i actually find its best to leave it for 2 days with most cheesecakes. it gives the flavours time mingle and get to know each other a bit before relaxing, the first time i made a cheese cake it was mint chocolate flavoured. i tried it on the day of making and was almost sick, 2 days later it was heavenly!

there is still one last step to this cheesecake but i cannot do that until it has fully chilled. this will be posted tomorrow hopefully so keep your eyes open for it!