Monday, 14 January 2013

Me 'vs' Macarons

Yes - you did read me right - I said 'Macarons' and not 'Macaroons'.  Apparently there's a difference - I've only just learnt this myself recently from a fellow local baker (I say baker, but it seems that she's actual more of a culinary artist!) who's VERY passionate about the difference between a macaron and a macaroon.

So - basically, a 'macaroon' is one of those sticky, sweet coconut concoctions that usually have a piece of rice paper on the bottom of them.  You know the ones?  Sometimes drizzled with chocolate too and widely available in most supermarkets LOL!  A 'macaron' is the round, chic looking morsel originally from the patisseries of Paris I think, which would look at home on the cake tray at tea at the Ritz (I'm guessing - haven't made it there yet!), but which is also now becoming available in the supermarkets.

I've made macarons once before.  Well, they were less 'chic' and more 'Starship Enterprise', and resulted in more bad language than any of my cupcakes have ever done before.  Well, except perhaps my early chocolate disasters, but let's not go there eh? >;o)  But, on Sunday I helped organise a baby shower for a very dear friend, and when talking about food, she asked me to make some macarons.  I did warn her that it would depend on how they turned out as to whether they'd make an appearance, but let's face it - who's going to mess with a nearly-8-months-pregnant lady ???!!!  So there was I on Saturday.  Ingredients assembled, equipment at the ready, sanity intact.  Everything started so well.  I had watched Lorraine Pascal do macarons on her 'Baking Made Easy' programme that week, and she made it look so straightforward.  So I have her recipe next to me and off we go.  Well.  Apparently you need 3 arms to do this - there was I trying to whisk egg whites to a 'medium peak' (HOW are you supposed to measure these things??), which simultaneously stirring sugar and water over the heat making sure it didn't go above 115C, then adding the ingredients all together.  So far so good.  First batch prepared and ready for the oven.  Now Lorraine says to cook them with the oven door partly open.  EPIC FAIL!  Of course this means that the oven can't hold it's heat and they don't cook properly, then when you figure this out and shut the door, the little buggers burn!  Me-0, Bin-1.  Thank goodness I have another batch.  Oven door shut.  Watching them like a hawk.  Ta Dahhhhhh!

Not perfect by any means, but they certainly went down a storm and tasted OK apparently!  Maybe I'll try them again.  But maybe after a glass of wine next time ;)

Sunday, 6 January 2013

It's not supposed to look like that .......

I know, I know ....... you wait an eternity for a blog post and 2 come along in the same day!  What can I say - it'll probably be a few days until I have something interesting to write about again so I'm making the most of it! :)

It's a Sunday.  The last day of the school Christmas holidays (for me anyway - Ms Stardust is off school tomorrow on an inset day) so a family day full of warmth was required.  I've been LOVING a Facebook page called Baking Hot Christmas since it was launched, and bookmarked a recipe they featured from 'Pink Lemonade Bakery' called 'Toffee Apple Cinnamon Cake'.   When I saw it my tummy immediately went 'Mmmmmmmmm', and I've been meaning to try it ever since.  For reference, this is what it's *supposed* to look like .....

So I followed all the instructions, put a paper liner in my new Pampered Chef loaf baker (mmmmmm - I have to admit to having a bit of a PC obsession..... but I digress ..... ) and tipped the mixture into the liner.  I had to admit at this point that I might have had too many apples.  The recipe didn't actually give a weight, it just said '2 cooking apples', and mine looked like they might have come from the land of giants!  But I thought it would be ok ..... Hmmmmm ...... maybe not.

The recipe states to put it in the oven for 1 hour.  Well, an hour goes by and it's still gooey in the middle, so it goes back in for another 20 minutes, then another 10 minutes.  The skewer is clear in parts and not so clear in others, but I figure that it might be hitting apple so leave it to cool.  About 20 mins later I get it out of the stone, and all of a sudden it starts making a bid for freedom - it's not cooked!!!  ARGH!!  So I throw it back into the oven, but forget about it *cue swearing* and don't get it out until 30 minutes later.  Needless to say it was somewhat toasty on the top.  But at least it kind of holds its' shape.  Unfortunately when I cut it, it's more like a pudding than a lovely cake.  Oh well.  That's what custard is for !!

And yes, I will share the evidence of my failure with you - why not!  Answers on a postcard as to what went so wrong are greatly appreciated!

Happy Baking :)
K x 

2013 - New Year ..... New Start

Happy New Year!

So, it's January 2013, and the first time I've logged into my blog since July which is shocking!  I will be sitting myself on the naughty step later with a large glass of Bailey's, but in the meantime, here's my promise for 2013 - I will try harder!  Try harder at baking more outside of my comfort zone (utilising some of the 20+ recipe books sitting on the shelf looking at me everyday with their pretty pictures and intact spines!), at updating my website, at promoting my cupcakes and at rambling away about it all on here!

So here's to a new start - cheers!  And to start it off - here's the first order of the new year, some pretty pink Christening cupcakes :)

K xxx