Sprinkles and buttercream frosting

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A few weeks a go I had a jolly evening, I trundled down to the City creek shopping centre – this is quite new and contains a little stream – well a creek that runs through with trout in, obviously. The roof is retractable so depending on the weather you can be indoors or outdoors. there are also multiple fountains and wood fires where you can sit and while away a few hours. regardless of the actual shops this place is a treat in itself.

I signed up to a cake decorating class. I’ve done a few classes in the past and always figure practising decorating skills, picking up new tips and spending a few hours of talking about cake is time well spent.

The class didn’t disappoint we talked about cake construction, and pesky crumbs, the perfect butter cream and how to frost a cake to make it look smooth and petty. we then set about putting this into practice.

Sadly I still need to practice lots on this, although I’m pretty handy now with a palette knife and can make a good consistency of butter cream – the secret, lots of butter and sugar!!! lots of beating!! My decoration still isn’t quite the neat finish I’m after, I’m also out of practice. On the plus side this means more baking and more cake eating!

A few things I learnt, if you really want  a great finish then do a crumb coat first. Make sure your crumb coat is quite thin. If your cake is super crumbly freeze or refrigerate it as chilled cake is easier to work with. Use complimentary colours. I use gel colours for icing – and almost anything else now, I find these give a better colour and finish. and if in doubt sprinkles fix everything!!

I’m still getting to grips with baking in this climate. The altitude does crazy things to cooking times, everything is dryer and raising agents do weird things. Any advise of adjusting recipes for altitude would be extremely helpful! Let me know in the comments.

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Pickle, pies and lemon curd

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I had a bit of a baking marathon last weekend. Mostly because Kiwi and I really wanted a pork pie and watching the latest series of the Great British Bakeoff has got my fingers itching to make some new cakes. First up I finally got around to making some pork pies, I’ve not really used hot water crust pastry before, and it was surprisingly easy to work with, although in hindsight I would have kneaded it for longer. I used Paul Hollywood’s recipe, and found it rather successful! I swapped bacon for choritzo, and used cut up normal eggs instead of quails eggs, because who has quails eggs lying around?! It took me a while to find some lard in the supermarket – it was with oils and shortening, whereas I had been looking next to the butter! I doubled the recipe and found it relatively simple to follow. The pies turned out pretty tasty and didn’t last all that long.

I also used up all of the apples I had picked last week, and made 6 jars of apple chutney. I thought I’d use a recipe form the Edmond’s cook book (recipe below), which although quite sweet tasted good, and will go well with cheese and a ploughman’s lunch.

Lastly I intended to make some pear butter with the extra pears I picked, I still intend to, but instead I made lemon curd. Because lemon curd is delicious. I ended up making a hybrid lemon and lime curd as I had lot of limes that needed using up. I struggled to find many recipes or reviews of at would happen if I added in lime, but I can happily say the end result was brilliant! Now I need to figure out what to make to use up all of the curd, before I eat it all out of the jar. Any suggestions let me know in the comments!

Lemon & Lime curd

300ml citrus juice, 4-5 beaten eggs, 200g butter, 500-600g sugar

Melt butter, sugar, juice and zest if using. once dissolved, beat in eggs cooking and stirring until thick. sieve and jar.

New Zealand apple chutney

2kg apples (or other fruit), 500g chopped onion, 1 cup raisins/currants, 1 cove garlic, 1 cup chopped dates, 3 cups sugar (brown), malt vinegar, salt, pepper, cloves, ginger.

Put everything into a pan, cover with vinegar, cook until soft, stir in sugar, boil until jam-like.

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Scrumping and pickle

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One thing I would usually look forward to this time of year is the imminent arrival of autumn, complete with beautiful leaves, crunching around parks and hunting for damsons , blackberries and any other hedgerow delights. Since moving to Utah I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled, when the Mormons first settled SLC the soil was either really fertile or they worked incredibly hard to make it so. Along many streets there are fruit trees, and remnants of old orchards. Mostly apples, some plums, and a few peach trees. I’ve seen a few apricots growing in peoples gardens but not too many available for picking.

Whilst consulting the googlewebs for possible fruit locations I first came across this amazing website, falling fruit, which lists free fruit foraging spots all over the world. Awesome! This lead me to find the green urban lunchbox. A local scheme that lists volunteer fruit picking events, often in community veg patches or orchards or peoples excess fruit trees. The idea is that you sign up for an event, go help for a few hours to pick fruit or whatever, then you keep a third – for free! give a third to food banks and a third to the owner. Win win win. I loved the idea of this and signed up for a few events. So far I’ve already picked pears, plums and apples, and am looking forward to some more fresh produce. The picking is interesting and I’ve now learnt some different types of apple trees and how to use an apple picker.

More excitingly I’ve been looking at what to do with my hoards of hard picked fruits. Since seeing a picture on fb the other day of a cheese and Branston pickle sandwich, I’ve wanted one sooooo badly! I am fortunate to have found an English imports shop down the road – twirls, scones, monster munch, clotted cream, proper tea and other awesome delights although the pickle is incredibly pricey. I thought I’d test out some of my chutney recipes and start research pickle ones to try my hand at making some. This weekend is set to be another scorcher but I’ll be spending some time in my kitchen pickling some apples. Any one have any good chutney recipes please do share!

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Key lime pie

 

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Happy Easter! I hope you are having a fun day with family, chocolate and a delicious meal! We are currently down South – more to follow! But just before we left I had a bit of a baking sessions. Inspired by a recent trip to Chicago, where we finally sampled some specialities of the area, deep dish pizza – yum! and american key lime pie. The key lime pie was utterly delicious, so I had a go at making one!

Little did I know the key ingredient is a can or two of condensed milk. And of course limes! I love limes, they go wonderfully with mango – trust me they do! Chicken satay, as a salad dressing and on pancakes. So I’m excited to be adding a limy dessert to my repertoire. Continue reading

Hot cross buns… why hello Easter

wpid-20150330_163211.jpgEaster feels very early this year it’s snuck up on me whilst spring is teasing with the warmer weather. This year it feels even less spring like due to the lack of Easter eggs at every shop I visit. In the UK Easter eggs pop out the second the Christmas decorations go away. It’s a little overkill, but as a complete and utter chocoholic this makes me happy. Earlier this year there was a fracas regarding the shrinking of Cadbury’s cream eggs and a change in the middle! What were you thinking Cadbury’s? I am still extremely disappointed. Continue reading