Friday, July 29, 2011

Sweetie Invasion

A bit of background on Team Becca - I was born in one country, raised in another and presently reside in yet a third.  The rest of the team aren't quite so well-travelled, yet.  Suffice it to say, my parents live in one of my earlier countries, and brought this range of sweeties (lollies to them) with them on their current visit.  YUM!!!
On the top row we have - Musk Sticks (the mini's enjoyed these almost as much as I did), many flavours of Freddo Frogs, Chocolate Eclairs (to be fair, probably the same as the ones you get here), Allen's Strawberries and Cream soft sweets (like milk bottles, only much tastier). 
Below we see Minties (slightly harder than I remembered, like chewy taffy but mint flavoured.  Mini 1 loves, Mini 2 doesn't like mint), Jaffa's (delicious balls of orange chocolate covered in a crisp shell, like an m&m.  Both the girls adored these, Daddy barely got one!), Willy Wonka Redskins (lovely, as we'd just watched the Johnny Depp version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory about a half-dozen times.  These are like Minties in that they're hard chewy taffy but kind of raspberry flavoured.  Again, these are harder to chew than I remembered, thus not so popular with us) and finally Wizz Fizz (bags of icing sugar with fizzy sherbet - divine!!!). 
And in the middle, the classic, iconic Violet Crumble (like a Crunchie but better) and Peppermint Crisp.  Oh yes, I love these sweets!
And last but not least, some people's knights come in shining armour.  Mine come in shiny blue foil...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

An old favourite, carrot cake

We offer carrot cake as one of the standard flavours we can make, however I haven't done one for a while.  A friend has ordered one for her birthday next month, so I felt it was high time the recipe was practiced, to make sure it'd be ready.  I've made this recipe successfully a few times, but always in a large traybake tin.  So this was a new way, in a round tin for presentation.  Luckily, after my last disaster - sorry cake, I used a deep enough tin and the mix had plenty of room to rise.  And it did, beautifully.  But I feel it'll need another 10 minutes or so cooking time next time, the lower half seems less well-done than I would have liked (proof will be in the tasting tomorrow).  Annoyingly, an inserted skewer comes out clean at this stage of cooking/baking even though the cake isn't totally done.  Makes it quite tricky to judge without tasting...  I wonder what other home-bakers do??
Then it was a case of seeing how much icing the recipe made, when translated to a round layered cake.  The height of the final product was such that it could, conceivably, be layered three rather than two times.  I just did two layers, and only managed enough cream cheese with orange zest icing to do the central layer and a thick-ish one on top.  Visual reviews are positive though, which is encouraging.  Thanks!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Her favourite colour is pink

Our plan today was to try the Blueberry Cake from the first cookbook by the Hummingbird Bakery.  We had all the necessary ingredients, took them out from the fridge so they could get up to room temperature and away we went.  It needed 6 eggs, so we each added two (I did all the cracking, don't quite trust the girls with that job yet) and so on.  Daddy came in partway, to eat some chocolate wafers for a snack, and the girls lost interest in the cake at that point - ha, ha.  But they got interested again once I'd poured the mix in the tin and they got to lick the mixing bowl.  And when they saw this disaster...
Regrettably, things didn't improve much after nearly an hour.   The skewer came out clean, so I naturally assumed it was done.  It wasn't.  And worse still, we had wanted to take it with us on our visit to the great-gran and use it tomorrow for a friend's 5th birthday morning tea.
Still, I soldiered on and tried the Hummingbird's vanilla cupcake recipe but coloured the sponge pink.  Then topped it with some blue icing done not using a nozzle and made their own vanilla icing but in half quantity and coloured it apricot, and did use a nozzle.  Et voila, bonne anniversaire Monica (and no, she's not French, rather half Spanish).  So that should really say, feliz compleanos Monica!

Friday, July 15, 2011

We're back, and a little bit busy

Well, I don't know if you missed us, but we're back!  We were lucky enough to have a family (or is that Team?) holiday to sunny Mallorca, Spain for some r and r.  And sun/warmth, to be honest.  Living in east central Scotland we do know what sun is, and how it feels to be warm, but we don't get to experience it often enough.  So, we have to pay (and travel) for the privilege.  And I've got to say, it's always worth it.  The kids play in the pool daily, after us adults drag them about the interesting sights to see and make them eat 'weird' food - ah, bliss - ha ha. 

The Spanish sure know how to do good food, we loved the ensaimadas - pastries like a cinnamon danish but soft and filled with perhaps vanilla or chocolate creme, or even salami!  And the coffee, mmmmm every cafe and restaurant has a proper Gaggia-style coffee machine so we lived on cafe solo's as a daily treat (that's an espresso to you Italians, and a short black to the Aussies).  They were probably the best-priced item though, as the pound is quite poor and the Euro strong just now - shame...
As we adults only own simple mobiles, we came back to many nonsense emails, but two or three were of particular interest - orders.  I had one for collection today, for a party with the theme 'Dress like a celebrity'.  So I did red buttercream icing,(which didn't go quite red enough, so I added a swirl) with initials and a star in gold-glittered white sugarpaste, all sprinkled with more gold glitter.  These letters are kind of large, so I've ordered some smaller ones for any future needs (kid's birthday's spring to mind).

Sunday, July 03, 2011

4th of July

We've been invited to an American friend's 4th of July party tomorrow afternoon, and I'd seen an idea on the Betty Crocker website that looked fun. It used box cake mix and bought icing, but I have a sponge cake recipe that I've successfully coloured in the past.  And I think the bought icing is less tasty than my homemade, so figured I'd make my own of that too.
However... I must have not split the sponge mix into thirds correctly, as there's way more plain than blue and red, so the effect is lost.  And the colour faded loads on baking, adding to the poor effect from outside.  Then I tried to hide the cake by icing it in white and drizzling red and blue icing in stripes all around.  It seemed ok to me, but Mr Becca's face was a picture when he walked into the kitchen.  I still can't decide if he was being honest or a tad cruel in his assesment - so I added the red, white and blue stars.  It looks like fireworks, right?