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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Happy All Hallows Eve

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It’s been a little quiet over here on the blog lately, Namely we have been busy enjoying the last of the summer days, and adventuring with a friend who came over from the UK for a holiday. The seasons have quickly changed and autumn is here, and I dare say #winteriscoming. This morning the mountains had the first proper dusting of snow on them, which is great as so far October has been a warm one, and I’m itching to go ski-ing and welcome my jeans back into my life. Not that I’m complaining. 20+ degrees at the end of October – yes please. Normally I’d just about be putting the heating on having lived in all my jumpers for the last month.

Kiwi and I have been busy carving pumpkins, entertaining our furries, settling into Utah and just enjoying the little things in life. We did however have an epic road trip taking us pretty much over the whole of Utah -It’s an awesome state, more to follow on this shortly.

I’ve been busy baking, Halloween cupcakes, pork pies, banana bread and lots of veggie soup. This weekend the clocks also go back so I’m gearing up for full hibernation. But first its Halloween. I’ve been enjoying walking along some of the neighbourhood and seeing pumpkins and ghouls everywhere. There are some impressive spooky houses.

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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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The good bits #6

wpid-eg_20150323125026927.jpgWhoop whoop, this series of posts came about as a way to mark the number of months I’ve been in the USA! They also serve to take a moment to look back and reflect on what I’ve been up to. Too often we are so busy living life we barely get a  chance to stop and breath, and even when we do we are often looking for the next thing and focusing on other goals. Whilst its always great to prepare, we do not always give ourselves the time to look back, to consider what we’ve already achieved and to take time to just be. Continue reading

French Market

On a recent trip to Downtown Chicago I visited the local French market. A lovely walk 5 mins from the main downtown area, led me to a huge train station with a wonderful market hidden inside. Its really quiet outside then suddenly you walk in to a bustling space filled with amazing smells. When you walk in you see these little beauties, so many colours of macaroons and delicious cake! there are plenty of fresh fruit and veg and local produce, as well as a cafe, and crepes and cheese. The cheese counter was magnificent with the best selection I’ve seen yet. Afterwards you can take a stroll along the river walk way enjoying all the tasty treats!

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