Hands up who got excited about the Royal Wedding last year and all the baking that happened as a result? My hand goes straight up because I certainly did. We hosted a party at our house and I was in my element planning for it and baking lots of gorgeous treats to serve my guests. Luckily, for us keen bakers there is the Queen’s Jubilee to celebrate this year which means more street parties and family gatherings to bake for. Hip, hip hooray!
In preparation for the Jubilee I started to scan the internet to see what recipes I could find to inspire me and I have to say, I have been disappointed. All I could really find was red, white and blue cupcakes or crown shaped biscuits. That’s all fine, but I was looking for something a bit more original. So I was thrilled when Appliances Online agreed to sponsor a Jubilee Baking Competition on my blog.
I am looking for any bloggers out there to make their best Jubilee themed cakes and bakes and enter them into my competition so I can create a real treasure trove of inspirational ideas. I want you to be as creative and unique as you possibly can. Anything goes! I shall do a round up post of all the entries when I announce the winner.
The judge for this competition is fellow blogger Vanessa Kimbell. Vanessa is quite an inspiration to me. Her first cookbook ‘Prepped‘ was published 6 months ago, she has her own Sunday morning radio show on BBC Northamptonshire, she runs a ‘pop up’ bakery in her front garden each Saturday with her children and she writes popular blog, ‘ Goddess on a Budget‘. I know that Vanessa has the perfect eye for judging this kind of competition and I’ve no doubt that she will pick a worthy winner.
The deadline for entries is 3rd June 2012 and one lucky winner will get £100 of Amazon vouchers, provided by Appliances Online. Think of all the lovely baking accessories or cook books you could buy for that!
Competition Rules of Entry
Main Entry – Blog post
- Your Jubilee cake or bake needs to be featured on one of your posts. Tell your readers that it is for the Homemade by Fleur, Blogging Jubilee Baking Competition with a link to this post (http://wp.me/p1UMex-o3) which tells them all about it
- You also need to mention that Appliances Online are sponsoring the competition and include this link (http://www.appliancesonline.co.uk/cookers/cookers.aspx) within the post
- Copy and paste the competition badge below and include in your blog post
- Add Homemade by Fleur as a tag on your post / page that you are submitting
- I would love you to sign up to follow my blog to find out the results and of course to see the entrants and winner, but this is not compulsory
- Feel free to like the Homemade By Fleur page and share it with others to get into the Jubilee spirit
- Follow me on twitter for competition updates @homemadebyfleur
- Post your entry on twitter mentioning me @homemadebyfleur and adding #jubileebakingcompetition
- I will retweet you and your post when I see it
- Make anything bake or cake that you wish as long as you feel it links to the Jubilee theme and have explained this in your post
- Please email your photographs (no more than 2) and a link to your post to firstname.lastname@example.org
- In that email please also include your name, although I will be listing entries by blog name on the round up
- The deadline is 3rd June 2012
- The winner will be announced a few days after the deadline, so keep you eye out!
- The judges decision is final
Vintage Jubilee Flag Biscuits
To get you all in the mood, I have come up with a Jubilee themed bake of my own. I had a lot of fun making these but the best bit was taking the photos of them on Hove beach in Sussex. I was down there last weekend and along with all the paraphernalia needed for 3 children when planning a day trip to the beach, I packed my biscuits, the mini bucket and spade (pre-filled with sand from our sandpit as I knew Hove beach had pebbles) and my camera. My husband rolled his eyes more than once as I took ages to find the right box to transport the biscuits as we were trying to get out of the door. I’m sure you can picture the scene. But it was all worth it as I love the pictures and the weather was amazing. It has turned out to be the only sunny day in the last 2 weeks, so I was very lucky. It’s a reminder in amongst all the rain that we do have some beautiful days here in England.
I used the Irresistible Chocolate Biscuit recipe from pg 183 of my new aptly named ‘Biscuit’ cookbook written by GBBO finalist from series 1 Miranda Gore Browne. It’s a great book by the way, and if you are partial to the odd biscuit or two this is definitely one to put on your birthday list. But there are plenty of other cookbooks and online recipes for a basic chocolate biscuit. You will probably find one in a book you already have. What you are looking for is one that creates a biscuit dough that you can roll out and use cutter on.
What you will need:
- 8-10 rectangle chocolate biscuits
- Some royal icing (I used 250g (half a pack) of the royal icing sugar mixed with water and it was enough)
- Approx 100g white fondant icing
- Red and blue food colour (I used my new India Tree natural food colouring for these and thought they were great)
- Pencil (not too sharp) ruler and greaseproof paper
- 4 icing containers/bottles or bags
- 4 icing tips, I used 2 x PME 2 tips for the piping icing and 2 x PME 4 tips for the flood icing
- 8-10 Lollipop sticks
How to make:
- The first thing I did was draw around the rectangle cookie cutter I used to make the biscuits onto greaseproof paper and cut it out. I then drew on the central cross from the Union Jack followed by the rest of the flag, but but I found that I only really needed the central cross as a guide and the rest of the flag I did freehand
- Next I made my royal icing. Follow the back of the pack with regards to the amount of water needed. Aim to have it fairly stiff, but soft enough to pass through a PME 2 icing tip and holds its shape with out any problems
- Divide icing into 4 small bowls. Put two bowls aside then add a little bit more water to the remaining two bowls. You are aiming for the consistency of custard. This is your flood icing and is what you will use to ‘colour in’ your flag. The other two bowls contain your piping icing which is what you will use to pipe the flag pattern onto your biscuit
- Colour 1 piping and 1 flood icing red/pink and 1 piping and 1 flood icing blue then fill the piping icing into the icing bottles or bags that have the PME 2 tip and the flood icing into the icing bottles or bags with the PME 4 tip
- Roll out your fondant icing (not too thick) and use your rectangle cookie cutter again to cut out rectangles of fondant and stick these onto your biscuits with a little bit of royal icing (I just scraped out the last bits from the bowl I mixed my royal icing in to do this)
Icing your biscuit step by step
- Take your greaseproof paper flag and place on top of the fondant. Use your not too sharp pencil to imprint the central Union Jack cross onto the fondant
- Pipe the pink/red central cross onto the fondant and then add the 4 diagonal lines that come out from the centre of the flag using the PME 2 tip and piping icing
- Now add the blue triangles onto the flag using the PME 2 tip and piping icing
- Fill in the cross and diagonal strips with pink/red flood icing and the blue triangles with blue flood icing using the PME 4 tip
- Leave your biscuits to dry for a couple of hours then stick your lollipop stick on the back with any remaining royal icing and leave to dry over night
- Cover your royal icing with a clean damp j cloth to stop it from drying out at any point
- Don’t cut your biscuits too thick. I think I did mine too thick, and consequently they were a bit on the heavy side as it was tricky getting the lollipop sticks to hold
- Sticking these in a bucket is a great idea for a centrepiece at your Jubilee party but these flags can decorate cakes, desserts, or if making mini ones, you could use as cupcake toppers
- To make mini flags all you need to do is make smaller flags. You could use the thinner wooden coffee stirrer as the flag pole instead of a lollipop stick giving you the perfect excuse to go for a coffee. See how Maision Cupcake has used them here
HAPPY BAKING EVERYONE!
I am increasingly becoming quite a fan of Nigella Lawson. No matter what people think of her silk clad midnight snacks there is no doubt that she is quite an inspiration and I’m sure her recipes have created many new foodies. By coincidence, her cookbook ‘Feast’ arrived today. I ordered it due to my growing curiosity about Nigella. The only other Nigella cookbook I have is her Christmas one but some how I felt I was missing out. I’ve had a quick flick though ‘Feast’ and I’m quite excited about getting into bed tonight to read more. Sad I know, but that is perfect bedtime reading for me.
The other reason I have become more interested in Nigella is of course is because I was been lucky enough to briefly meet her a couple of months ago when filming for Baking Mad. I’m also going to be hosting the Forever Nigella blog challenge in June run by Sarah who writes the fantastic Maison Cupcake blog which I am very excited about so watch this space for more details on that.
So for all these reasons I thought that featuring and reviewing one of her recipes on my blog would be very fitting.
This month Vanilla Frost is hosting Forever Nigella for Sarah and the theme is ‘spring’. So the other night I had a look through some online Nigella recipes and came across one for Red Prawn and Mango Curry. It was the addition of mango and the colourful ingredients that made it feel very springtime to me, and in my opinion a great curry recipe is worth it’s weight in gold so I thought I would give it a go.
I decided that I would review based on marks out of 10 for a few set criteria. Hopefully this will make it easier for you to quickly see what I thought of it.
The total cost of ingredients where I normally shop in Ocado was £17.56. Calculating the cost based on how much of each ingredient is used the cost was £10.74 and based on the dish serving 4 people it worked out at £2.69 per person. Cheaper than your average take away ruby, so pretty good value if you ask me.
Time required to make:
The prep took me about 30 mins, but most of this was peeling and chopping the butternut squash and mango. I did not have any sweet potato so I left it out, but peeling and chopping these would have added on an extra 5 mins the the prep I would say. If you are tight on time you can buy the sweet potato and squash in a prepared pack together and save yourself half the time I would say. The only other thing to mention is that in the recipe it suggests 15 mins cooking time for the squash and potato. Mine took about 40 mins to be soft enough.
Skill level needed:
This is a great recipe for beginners. After everything has been prepared it is really just a case of putting most if it in the saucepan and letting it simmer away whilst you get on with something else.
I like the instructions. They were easy to follow and nicely formatted on the webpage.
Visual appearance of completed dish:
I could not wait to tuck into this meal. Admittedly, I picked this recipe because I thought I would like it, but it really did look scrummy. This would be a great meal to serve friends and you could make it look even nicer by serving with a bit of mango chutney, cucumber raita (my favorite) and a naan or flatbread.
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this curry. It is sweet and sour, spicy and salty and I love having flavour contradictions in the same dish. When you get mango, butternut squash and prawn in the same mouthful, it is really quite something. I was tempted to close my eyes and say, ‘Mmmmm….” but then that really would have been a bit too much like Nigella, so you will be pleased to hear I did not do this, and instead started up conversation with my husband as distraction. The level of heat and spice in this curry will be down to the red curry paste you use. I really like the Thai Taste range of pastes.
Overall, I think it is fair to say that I loved this recipe. I will certainly be making it again, and can’t wait to make it next time we have guests.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’m off to bed to do you know what!
I am also going to enter this curry into Fabulicious Food’s Family Friendly Fridays blog event. There are some great recipes entered this month so hop over and take a look if you get the chance.
I’ve just had a week away by the seaside with my family in Cornwall, and I have to say it is just what the doctor ordered. Nothing beats some quality family time. The best bit for me was our visits to the beach. Watching my children happily run around for hours building sand castles and paddling in the sea, whilst enjoying a little bit of sun on my face made me a very happy lady.
I loved being cooked for each night, but I did miss not being able to bake for a week, even though I suspect that it was probably good for me! So as soon as I had unpacked I got the ingredients out and started baking for this blog post. I was up for a bit of experimenting and here is the result.
I think the best way to describe these chocolate olive oil cupcakes with a goats cheese frosting is ‘bittersweet’, but in the best possible way. This applies to both the recipe and the final taste.
A contradiction in a cupcake? Not sure? Well let me reassure you. Remember that Paula Abdul song Opposites Attract? Here’s a verse to jog your memory…
“She makes the bed, and he steals the covers. She likes it neat, and he makes a mess. I take it easy, baby I get obsessed. She’s got the money, and he’s always broke I don’t like cigarettes, and I like to smoke. Things in common? Just ain’t one. But when we get together, we have nothin’ but fun.”
And here’s the video if you fancy a trip down memory lane. It’s worth a look if only for the cool little rap in the middle and Paula’s choice of fashion and break dancing attempts. I am a little bit embarrassed to say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching it, and caught myself at one point ‘bopping’ in my chair!
Ah, I loved that song! But the reason I’m talking about it is because the underlying message applies to my cupcakes. You may think that they won’t work because the ingredients are not ones that you might put together ordinarily, but these are quite possibly the best cupcakes I have ever made…and that is saying something.
The cupcake sponge is dark and moist (due to the olive oil) and has just enough sugar added to balance the dark chocolate, cocoa powder and coffee which are three of the main ingredients. These are not in any way bitter, I did not mean that literally, just far less sweet than your average sugar and butter laden cupcake. The word sophisticated comes to mind.
The goats cheese frosting is the sweet part. Both in taste and surprise. The goats cheese works well sweetened and actually makes a mighty fine frosting. Yes you do have to like the taste of goats cheese to start with, but I was genuinely impressed. It’s different, and that is partly why I like it so much.
The inspiration for these cupcakes is two fold. The first is this month’s ‘We Should Cocoa‘ blog challenge hosted by Chocolette, who shares it with Chele from Chocolate Teapot blog. Always trying to keep us on our toes, the challenge was to blog a recipe which had chocolate and cheese in it. In all honesty I did panic a bit when I read this. But in actual fact it’s not so bad, and I doubt I would have made these special little cupcakes if it had not been for the WSC challenge.
The second inspiration was from an American blog that I found whilst looking for chocolate and cheese recipes. It’s called the Vanilla Bean Blog and it is a lovely blog to visit if you have a spare 5 mins. The only problem is that all the recipes are in American cup measurements. Having converted this one I now realise what a nightmare it is. Converting cups to grams depends on what is in the cup, so it all got a bit complicated especially as I was halving the recipe too. Anyway, with a few educated guesses and an new IPad app to help me convert I was more than a little relieved to pull a beautiful set of dark moist cupcakes from my oven.
These are most certainly worth a go!
Chocolate olive oil cupcakes with a goats cheese frosting
What you will need:
- 50g dark chocolate cut into small pieces
- 175ml hot coffee (I used decaffeinated filter coffee)
- 85g cocoa powder
- 250g caster sugar
- 2 regular eggs
- 315g plain flour
- 80ml olive oil
- 180ml buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp of fine sea salt
- 1 tsp bicarb of soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (I used my homemade one for the first time)
- 20 cupcake cases (I use the foil ones as they are sturdier and old their shape better)
Makes approx 20 cupcakes
Goats cheese frosting
- 30g soft unsalted butter
- 50g cream cheese
- 50g soft goats cheese (one without the rind which looks a bit like cream cheese)
- 1 tsp vanilla paste (not extract as too much liquid for the frosting then)
- 250g icing sugar (I used natural golden icing sugar which gave the frosting its caramel colour, but it would be fine to use normal icing sugar too)
- 50g chopped walnuts for decoration
How to Make:
- Preheat oven to 190c/375f/gas 5
- Put the chocolate, cocoa powder and hot coffee in a bowl together, stir and leave to melt
- In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, bicarb of soda, baking powder and salt. In a second bowl whisk up the eggs in an electric mixer for about 3-4 mins until light and fluffy
- Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla and melted chocolate mixture to the eggs mixing until well combined
- Then add the remainder of the dry ingredients to the mix half at a time and mix with the beater until just combined
- Fill your cupcake cases until 2/3 full. I over filled one and it took another few minutes to cook so it is worth taking your time to get this bit right
- Bake in the oven for 14-15 mins. Test with a knife which should come out clean. If not put back in the oven for another couple of minutes
- Once baked, leave in tin for 10 mins then transfer to a cooling wrack
- To make the frosting beat the butter until softened then add the cheeses and vanilla paste. Mix for about 3 mins until smooth
- Then add the icing sugar bit by bit and beat for about 8-10 mins as this will result in a super smooth frosting. This frosting is not as stiff as butter cream so can’t be piped onto the cupcakes
- Using a palette knife smooth over the frosting onto each of the cupcakes and sprinkle with chopped walnuts
My blog is 6 months old on the 10th April! It only seems like yesterday that I was sitting on this very same chair at my computer wondering if I should take the plunge and start my own blog. I was scared. Mostly of opening up a window into my life for others to see. What would people think of me? What if nobody read my blog? Why would anyone want to read about me? But deep down I had a bubble of excitement. I could imagine how wonderful it would feel to inspire others to bake and maybe people would like what I write and enjoy reading it! So I went for it and it’s safe to say I have not looked back.
In the 6 months of writing my blog, I feel like I have come so far. I had no idea how much fun it would be or how I would feel writing about something I love in my own way without any rules. I have had unwavering encouragement from my family and friends and I have made so many new friends both online and face to face. There is a fantastic blogging community out there which is incredibly supportive, and I have loved becoming part of this. Planning my posts, baking, photographing what I have made and writing about it is now a very important part of my week. People often ask me where I want to go with this blog, and although I can’t give a precise answer, I do know that it is a fabulous adventure which keeps getting better and I am thoroughly enjoying the ride.
One thing I have learnt in the last 6 months, is that the blogging world is full of awards. Which is a great because whilst writing a blog is a fantastic thing to do, it is also a lot of hard work behind the scenes. I have had many late nights baking, writing, formatting and organising blog posts to ensure that my blog is the best I can make it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist!
Many of these awards are based on votes from readers, and I kind of wish they weren’t as I’m just not used to canvasing for votes. However, last week I found out that I have been shortlisted out of 12,000 nominations for the ‘Tasty’ category in the Britmum’s Brilliance in Blogging awards which I am so chuffed about, I just could not keep it quiet.
So firstly I need to say a big thank you to everyone who nominated me in the first instance. It feels amazing to have made the shortlist it really does. I am 1 of 20 shortlisted blogs in this category. The next stage is to become 1 of 8 finalists which would mean an invitation to an awards ceremony in London, (and therefore a new dress) where a panel of high profile judges pick the final winner. Being a finalist would be incredible. Just having that recognition for my blog would be such an achievement and would mean lots of new and exciting exposure for my blog.
But I’m not just going to ask you to vote for me, I’m going to give you good reason to take the time and vote for me. In celebration of my blog being 6 months old and for making the Brilliance in Blogging shortlist I have created the most scrumptious celebration cake you ever did see (and taste). Inspired by my favorite summer flower, my love of pink champagne and a my very dear friend Anna (because its pink and has champers in it) I have come up with a cake that will make any celebration one to remember. I made it mini sized because that was perfect for me, and it is my celebration cake after all. But also I think there is something special and understated about making an individual sized cake for someone. It’s not over the top, yet all the effort and sentiment is still there in extremely cute proportions.
How to vote:
So here is how to vote if you would like to. Click on the BIB logo below and you will be taken to a survey monkey form. Scroll down to the ‘Tasty’ shortlist (it’s not that far down, category number 2) and click next to Homemade By Fleur. Scroll to the bottom and click submit and that’s it. A big thank you to anyone in advance who votes xxx I’ll let you know how I get on.
Recipe: Mini Pistachio and Rose Celebration Cake with Pink Champagne Buttercream
What you will need:
- 2tsp rose syrup (I used Star Kay white rose water)
- 120 ml whole milk
- 120g plain flour
- 100g sugar
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 40g unsalted butter
- 30g pistachio nuts (25g for cake, 5g for decoration on top) finely chopped. I put mine in the food processor for 1-2 mins
- 2 x 11cm sandwich cake tins greased and lined
- large metal spoon
Pink Champagne Buttercream
I prefer not to have too much buttercream on my cake, but if you like lashings of it, you might want to double these quantities.
- 40g unsalted butter
- 165g icing sugar
- 25ml pink champagne (there should be plenty left in the bottle to pour yourself a glass once you have finished the cake :-))
- Pink food colouring (optional)
- Palette knife
- 150g royal icing sugar
- 1-2 tsp water
- Pink and green food colouring (most supermarkets sell natural colours although I did not use them on this occasion)
- Small rose and leaf icing tips
- Icing bags
How to make:
- Preheat your oven to 170c/325f/gas 3
- Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter in an electric mixer and combine with a paddle attachment until thoroughly mixed in and has a sand like consistency
- Slowly add the milk, then the rose water, then the eggs
- When you have a smooth batter, fold in the chopped pistachio with a large metal spoon ( remember to save a bit for the decoration)
- Divide the batter between the two cake tins, gently smooth over and put in the oven for 25-30 mins. To check that they are done stick a knife in both cakes and it will come out clean if baked. If not, pop back in for another 5 mins
- Let the cakes cool in the tins for 5 mins, then turn out onto a cooling rack
- Whilst cooling you can make the buttercream. For this just add the icing sugar and soft butter to a bowl and start to mix with an electric mixer. Then add the champagne slowly. Once all the champagne has been added, add a few drops of pink food colouring. I just did one drop at a time as I knew I wanted a light pink. Once you are happy with the colour, continue to mix the buttercream for another 5 mins or so. This step is quite important as it stops your buttercream from being grainy and gives it a light fluffy texture
- Once your cakes are cool slice off any bumps that have risen up on the top of each sponge. Then slice each sponge in half lengthways. Then fill each layer with butter cream and build up your 4 layer cake.
- Then use a small palette knife to cover the outside of the cake with the remainder of the buttercream. I used upwards motions in the side of the cake
- Sprinkle your remaining chopped pistachio around the top of the cake, then make your royal icing by mixing the royal icing sugar and water together until it forms soft peaks. It is probably best to add the water slowly and watching the icing come together. You may need a little less or more water than I have suggested
- Divide your royal icing into two and colour one dark pink and the other one green. To make a rose I watched a couple of You Tube videos, this video is a good one. Essentially you start with the fat part of the icing tip at the bottom and pipe a small closed circle. In some videos they used a flower pin to do this, I just had my cake on a turntable and moved it round as I went. You then start to add on the petals piping 3 around on the first layer and then 4/5 on the second layer. I does not look like a rose to start with but quickly becomes recognisable. I needed a few practice goes first and I piped mine straight onto the cake when I was ready.
- To create leafs, just point the leaf tip close the rose, flat side down and pipe out some icing pulling away as you do and stop piping when it is big enough pulling high to break the icing off
- Give to someone very special and make their day x
If you are inspired by this cake you must also check out fellow blogger Cakeboule’s Tiffiany inspired champagne layer cake. It’s stunning.
I’m also going to send this over to Kate from What Kate Baked to enter the Easter themed Tea Time Treats. This challenge is shared with Karen from Lavender and Lovage. As Easter is a celebration and a time for getting together with the family I think this little cake would make a lovely addition to any table of treats over the Easter weekend.
Exciting news folks! I have my first ever blog giveaway to tell you about. The people from Natural Selection who sell a gorgeous range of dried fruit, nuts and seeds have given me a marvelous hamper of baking goodies to give to one lucky person, (RRP £49). Here’s a list of what you will get inside the hamper:
3 x packs of Dried Cranberries
3 x packs of 5 Fruit Mix
3 x packs of Crystallised Ginger
3 x packs of Cinnamon Cranberries
3 x packs Chopped Dates
2 x packs of Crimson Raisins
1 x Natural Selection branded apron
1 x rolling pin
1 x Great British Bake Off: How to Bake: The Perfect Victoria Sponge and Other Baking Secrets
Perfect for any bakers out there who like to experiment by adding dried fruit to their cakes and bakes, or if you are like me and think that yogurt sprinkled with dried fruit and seeds is the best thing since sliced bread.
Holly Bell, finalist from the Great British Bake Off who writes a blog called, ‘Recipes from a Normal Mum’ has created mini simnel cupcakes using Natural Selection products. They look super cute and it is definitely worth popping over to her blog to have a look. There is also a helpful video where Holly shows demonstrates how to make them.
Coupon Alert! – The other great news is if you ‘like’ Natural Selection Foods on Facebook, you can print off a coupon to save £1 on bags of Natural Selection products at ASDA and Sainsbury’s
How to enter:
You need to write a comment on this blog post which answers the following question:
If you were to win the Natural Selection baking goodies hamper, what would you bake using any of the ingredients from it?
And that is it. Easy peasy!
- To keep up to date with my baking adventures and hear the winner announced
- I’d love you to tweet about this giveaway. Just cut and paste the following tweet: *I’ve entered @homemadebyfleur ‘s Natural Selection Baking Goodies Hamper giveaway, http://wp.me/p1UMex-kh / *
- Finally, feel free to like my facebook page and share this giveaway with your pals
*not compulsory, just if you are feeling extra nice 🙂
- To enter you must leave a comment on this blog post before the deadline
- The deadline for this competition is 5pm on the 24th April 2012
- It is not possible to give extra points if you tweet, share or follow with regards to this giveaway
- The winner will be picked after the deadline by a random number generator
- Your number will be the order in which the comments appear below
- The winner will be announced on this blog, facebook and twitter on the 25th April 2012
- The winner will be required to provide a postal address in order for Natural Selection to send the prize
- Open to residents of the UK only
Thank you to Natural Selection for sponsoring this post and providing the prize.