I won! I won a KitchenAid competition!

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To say I was excited by my aforementioned win was a slight understatement!

Apart from a few tenners on the Lottery and a book in a raffle, it is safe to say I’ve never won a competition that I’ve entered. But on the weekend of the 13th of February I had a lovely Facebook message.

I’d won a competition on KitchenAid’s Facebook page. Just simply being a member was enough to qualify me for entry and, lo and behold, I’d won a limited edition book!

So if you’re a KitchenAid fan, get over to their Facebook site and join.

It’s a great little community where you can share recipes and pictures of food you’ve cooked using your machine.

Here’s the link:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/KitchenAidUK/173391226031589

And thank you KitchenAid for my book – even though I’d already owned it since last year – this win made me read through it again and I’ve tried a recipe which I’ll blog about later.

Three-tier Red Velvet Cake

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Fresh on the success of my Welcome Home cake, I decided to make a Red Velvet one for my friend Erin.

One of the downsides of Army life is leaving behind good friends when your husband gets a new job – and this was one such friend.

At the weekend, I went back to Suffolk to see her and took this along with me.

It’s the same recipe as in an earlier post – except you double it the amount and split it between three 8cm pans and cook for 20-25mins.

The frosting is the cream cheese recipe, doubled again. This time I made sure the butter was at room temperature and reduced the beating time in my KitchenAid a little – perfect frosting!

I trimmed the tops of the cakes to make them sit together better and placed the cakes in my garage for a while to chill and try and reduce the amount of crumbs.

The Hummingbird Bakery use the cake tops crumbled up as decoration on their cupcakes and Red Velvet cakes but I decided to go for some icing writing – it went a little better than last time!

No Pecan, it’s a surprise!

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Ever since Charlie has been going to Afghanistan and experiencing the American ‘cook houses’ over there, he has been banging on about Pecan Pie.

I’d never tasted it, and to be honest, it didn’t really appeal. It looked far too sweet and caramel-like for my pudding tastes. I’m more of a berry/ cream/ meringue sort-of-pudding-eater.

So, after a trip to Belize recently he came home with enough corn syrup – used in all traditional Pecan Pie recipes – to make enough Americans feel like all their Thanksgivings had come at once!

Still, I couldn’t bring myself to make it but the decision was taken out of my hands yesterday – and I’m glad it was. I’m now an official Pecan Pie convert.

My Valentine’s Day pudding was Pecan Pie – made by Charlie’s fair hands and pictured above. Because he’d used all the pecans the day before when he went to a friend’s house for lunch (and I went on a boozy weekend with friends) he used walnuts but he assured me the finish and taste was practically the same.

Recipe

A 23cm pie tin (although, we only had a 25cm one, and it was just right I thought).

Oven at 170 or gas mark 3

Pie crust pastry (shop bought or homemade – 260g plain flour, 1/2tsp salt and 110g cold butter – put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you get a sandy consistency. The add cold water in dribs and drabs until a dough forms. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for 1hr)

200g castor sugar (we used granulated and it was fine.)

250ml corn syrup (I have been told you can use golden syrup as an alternative but it will affect the finished article’s flavour)

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

60g butter

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

100g pecan nuts chopped – plus extra to decorate. (We used walnuts for the second pie and the one pictured above)

Make dough, leave it to rest and then dust a clean work surface with flour and roll out the pastry to fit your dish. Leave an overhang and bake blind for about 15 mins.

Put the sugar, corn syrup and salt in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, remove from heat and leave to cool for five minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and slowly pour the warmed syrup into the eggs. You will need to keep whisking quite quickly or the eggs may scramble.

Add the butter and vanilla to the mixture and stir until blended thoroughly.

Put the chopped nuts into the pastry case and pour the syrup mixture over the top. Arrange the nuts saved for decorating around the edges. Bake for 50-6o minutes or until the pie has reached a deep caramel colour.

Below is Charlie’s first pie made with actual Pecans.

The first Pecan Pie - made with actual Pecans!

Cake-tastrophe!

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I’m a supreme control freak (ask my husband) and posting this baking disaster is making every fibre of my body approach a meltdown. But I vowed to show the ‘lows’ as well as the highs and here it is ….

Aargh, I can’t even look at it!

These were blueberry muffins for Charlie to take into work but I was absent-minded (or harassed by children, as I like to call it) and overfilled the cases.

I’d also love to show you the pecan pie muffins that I burnt just 25 minutes earlier but I threw them out straight away in a pique of rage.

Welcome home …..weeeelcome!

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My wandering (in the travelling sense) husband returned at the weekend and, as I’d just had some new heart-shaped tins delivered, I though I’d make him a cake.

I was impressed with the carrot cake the week before so decided to try another three sponge cake with cream cheese icing. This time I went for a bit of tackiness and kitsch all thrown together with frosting!

Loved the tins. The mixture didn’t stick and it gave a lovely shape.

My icing was a little disastrous. I didn’t give the butter long enough to come to room temperature and, as a result, the icing was too runny and there were tiny globules of butter that hadn’t blended in.

I also had a go at icing writing – something I’ve never done before.

I used icing sugar, red food colouring and water until it was at a thick, but runny enough to squeeze out of a ¬†disposable icing bag, consistency. I don’t think the overall result was too bad but I need more practice to get it how I would really want it.

So, what do you think – too over the top considering he’d only been gone 12 days?!

 

Cheating Cheesecake

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So …. it’s Friday night and I’m counting down the minutes until Ruby is finally in bed. Believe me, those last few minutes really do drag!

I’ve developed a sweet little recipe that will not only make those final seconds fly by but also leave a lovely lemon cheesecake to devour once my monster is in bed.

You can mess around with the ingredients to suit your taste and you don’t even have to put it in a pie dish or flan case – I’ve just made mine in a bowl.

Hurrah, it’s Friday and I’m home alone – what’s a girl to do….?!

Recipe

This is going to make one, very greedy person happy but it is enough for two. I’m going to make sure I save some for tomorrow night ….. honest.

1tbsp lemon curd

100g plain cream cheese

2tbsps icing sugar – less if you like it tangier. Start with 1tbsp and add more to taste.

7 bourbon biscuits but you could use any left in the biscuit barrel. I used 2 custard creams tonight because that’s all I had!

30-40g butter, melted.

Whizz up the biscuits in a blender or food processor until they are a fine crumb. Add to the melted butter and mix around. Press your biscuits into whatever you are making the cheesecake in.

In another bowl, put the other ingredients in and whip together with a spatula until combined.

Scrape the contents onto top of the biscuit/ butter combo and smooth.

Bung in the fridge for as long as you can leave it alone.

I defy you to resist it for at least 30 minutes!

Help For Heroes Colossal Cake Sale 2011

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Help For Heroes is a charity I feel such an affinity for.

You may – or may not – know that my husband is a serving soldier. He’s in the Army Air Corps and we’re very proud of him.

He’s been part of a few tours of Afghanistan and Iraq and, luckily, he’s managed to come home from each tour and in one piece.

Others have not been so lucky.

So, I’ve signed up to be part of the Help For Heroes Colossal Cake Sale (weblink on the side of my blog). Along with a few friends, we’re going to try to raise ¬£500. A drop in the ocean compared to what some fund-raising events make but, as a major supermarket might say, ‘Every Little Helps’!

I’m going to bake and frost and raise as much cash as I possibly can to help this brilliant charity that I hope I never have the unfortunate circumstance to need.

 

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