A Slice of Birthday Fun(fetti)

So, this week brought Offspring#2’s eighteenth birthday (how did that happen?!?!) and of course, that meant cake!

A lot of my cakes start with the same base recipe. It originally came from a 1963 edition of a Brownie Guide cookbook, and so far it has yet to fail me!

The Recipe

This is a ‘weight of an egg cake’, you use the same weight of all your ingredients, obviously starting with your eggs!

For this particular cake, I used half a dozen eggs, weighing a total of 365g (it is important that you weigh whole eggs! Offspring#1 once made the mistake of weighing the contents, making the mixture too runny, and ended up with more of a raspberry quiche than a sponge).

  • Cream together butter & caster sugar.
  • Add eggs, one at a time. Alternate with a spoonful of your flour between each egg.
  • Fold in a third of the remaining sieved self-raising flour, repeat with the last two thirds.
  • Stir in 80-100g brightly coloured hundreds & thousands.
  • Split the mixture equally between two greased & lined tins.
  • Bake at 180°C for approximately 25-35 minutes.
  • Remove from tins, and transfer to a cooling rack.
  • When completely cool, split each cake in half horizontally; giving you four layers.
  • Sandwich together with buttercream & jam.
  • Decorate top with piped rosettes of buttercream and sprinkle with hundreds & thousands.

          Variations

          • Coffee & Walnut : whisk in a shot of coffee before folding in the flour and replace the hundreds & thousands with chopped walnuts. Decorate with coffee buttercream & walnut halves.
          • Lemon : add lemon essence & zest before folding in the flour, flavour buttercream with lemon, replace the jam with lemon curd and sprinkle top with lemon zest.
          • Chocolate & Raspberry : sieve 50g of cocoa along with flour, replace the hundreds & thousands with freeze-dried raspberries, or frozen raspberries; fill with chocolate buttercream & raspberry jam; decorate with fresh raspberries.

          Do you have a go-to recipe that never fails you? I’d love to hear about it!

          Thanks for stopping by; now, I’m off for a cuppa & the last slice of cake. 

          Crafty xx

          [Book Review] TREAT YOURSELF! by Jessica Siskin

          TITLE: Treat Yourself!

          AUTHOR: Jessica Siskin

          PUBLISHED BY: Workman Publishing Company

          PUBLICATION DATE: 27 June 2017

          EDITION: Paperback

          GENRE: Cookery, Crafts & Hobbies, Food & Wine

          ISBN: 9780761189800

          PRICE: $14.95 (USD)

          Jessica Siskin, AKA talented food artist; and Instagram sensation; @mister_krisp, invites you to ‘Treat Yourself!’ in this beautifully photographed & easy to follow book detailing 

          “How to make 93 ridiculously fun no-bake crispy rice treats”


          About The Book

          One of the first things I noticed was the copious amount of clear photographs spread through the book. The instructions themselves are detailed yet concise and each stage is accompanied by a corresponding photo. 

          The opening chapters include an introduction from the author, explaining a bit about how and why she got into Rice Krispie Treat modelling, and detailed descriptions of the equipment and ingredients necessary. Everything is well documented, with additional links, recommendations, and hints & tips where appropriate.

          Another genius idea is that every single treat uses the same basic recipe. In the introductory part of the book, Jessica supplies us with a helpful table listing how many cups, tablespoons & drops are required to make batches of set sizes (named A-H for ease)

          Each individual​ recipe then states which size batches you need and which colouring drops are required. 

          The writing style is friendly and easy to read, chatty and full of puns, it’s like reading a letter from a friend.


          The Recipes

          The recipes themselves are laid out alphabetically; starting with Apples and a ridiculously realistic looking 11 inch tall Avocado, includes Balloons, a BBQ complete with kebabs, a dinosaur, lollipops, a piñata, a star-spangled wizard’s hat, and of course finishing up with a Zebra. 

          There are even instructions for how to make Yourself  out of Rice Krispie Treats. I repeat, MAKE YOURSELF, OUT OF RICE KRISPIE TREATS. We’ve all seen those cakes with the photo of the birthday girl/boy/dog printed on top, but imagine the look on their face when they see themselves; in all their Krispie treats glory; taking centre stage at the party! (Coincidentally, this book is published the same day Offspring#2 turns 18. I’m already looking for a suitable snapshot to utilise this idea!)

          The individual recipes are easy to follow, each step is clearly explained and any additional equipment or decorating ingredients are detailed at the beginning, alongside the required number of differently sized & coloured batches. The top of each page is also clearly marked denoting how hard each particular build is; bearing Easy, Medium or Advanced coloured banners. 

          Also included are traceable (or downloadable) templates to make moulding your shapes easier. They are easily transferable to the reverse of baking parchment, then you can set to work moulding each batch of mixture.


          How Did I Get On?

          Of course, I had to give it a try, and since I was reading this book over National Doughnut Week (6-13 May), I just had to plump for misterkrisps Donuts recipe.

           I used chocolate crispies and didn’t add colour to the mix, if I was doing this again, I would probably add brown colouring or cocoa to my mallow mix.

          I had 6 mini donut silicone moulds, so I used those. A ‘G’ Batch of mix filled those, plus I had enough left to mould 2 more by hand.

          Half were iced with melted dark chocolate before being dusted with glitter sugar & coloured sprinkles, whilst I topped the remaining four with a coat of pink candy-melts and a drizzle of milk chocolate.

          Jessica’s instructions were simple to follow and the opening chapters even include photographs of what the contents of your saucepan should look like at each stage, along with appropriate timings for a midsized batch. Speaking of which, I cannot believe how easy the cleanup was at the end; I filled my saucepan with hot soapy water whilst I put away my extra marshmallows etc and when I came back to it 5 minutes later, the remaining butter/marshmallow/crispie mix just wiped off!! 


          What Did The Victims Think?

          The Other Half: “Yummy!” and “mmmm..marshmallow-y”

          Offspring#1: “I liked them, I guess!?!”

          Offspring#2: “They were some good doughnuts” whilst simultaneously reaching for a second

          & Me? I found it a bit on the sweet side but yummy, and I’m sure I’ll be making lots more Rice Krispie Treats in the coming months!

          Rating

          I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars, as it is a real treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds! 

          Disclosure: A free ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


          As always, thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you here again soon, and in the meantime; have you tried anything from an interesting new recipe book lately, or have you got an old favourite to share? 

          Hugs,

          Crafty xx

          Happy Easter (are you sick of chocolate egg yet?)

          You know how it is…

          The kids get eleventy-billion Easter eggs and whilst everyone likes a crème egg (or 10) there’s only so many you can eat before you are sick of the sight of them (or just plain sick!).

          So you end up looking for other ways to eat them.
          Drumroll please….
          I bring you….
          EASTER CHOCOLATE BARK!!


          Super easy to make, you just melt some egg chocolate, spread it on a baking paper lined tray and sprinkle with your choice of toppings. Leave it to set before cutting or breaking into shards.

          Plus, it will keep in an airtight container for at least a week, or a month or so in the fridge.
          You can find (slightly) more indepth instructions in my Christmas Bark post.

          This batch used a base of regular egg chocolate and was topped with Smarties mini eggs plus a sprinkle of coloured sugar dots, edible glitter & some popping candy.

          I hope you give it a try, please let me know if you do!!

          Hugs,

           Crafty xx 

          Last Minute Christmas

          So…it’s less than a week to go, and our preparations are waaayyyy behind. This is nothing new. Our tree has finally gone up on Christmas Eve on more than one occasion. We are often to be found still wrapping gifts at 4 am on Christmas morning.

          But… Ya know what? My kids have never not had a Christmas yet!!

          So in honour of any other procrastinators out there, I am bringing you a week’s worth of Last Minute Christmas ideas; that are quick, cheap, but nonetheless amazingly impressive, and will keep your domestic goddess status intact.
          Recent weeks have been a whirlwind of events, between kids exams, concerts, nights out etc and the odd evening in needs something chocolatey to veg out in front of the telly with. But, you have all these other things needing done so can’t really justify spending hours tempering chocolate, right!?

          Well, I have the answer: 

          5-10 minutes prep time, a few ££s of ingredients and you have enough sweet treats to put yourself into a coma on the sofa AND bag some up for some rather impressive looking gifts.

          CHOCOLATE BARK

          So, just how easy is it?.. I hear you ask!?

          • Firstly, line a baking tray with paper.
          • Melt some chocolate & spread it across paper
          • Add some toppings

          SERIOUSLY!!! That’s it!!



          *For stuff like the peppermint one:

          Melt chocolate, pour onto sheet & spread out. If doing 2 layers, leave to set slightly (5 mins) before repeating with next choc.

          Immediately sprinkle with choice of topping, press in place. Allow to set, then cut or snap into shards.
          *For the cranberry & pistachio style: 

          melt choc, stir half the topping stuff through, & spread on paper, then sprinkle remaining stuff on top & press in.

          IT REALLY IS THAT EASY!!


          *Works with any type of chocolate.

          *Any toppings: dried fruits, nuts, crushed candy cane, space dust, mini marshmallows, m&ms, hundreds & thousands….
          *You can marble two chocs rather than setting in layers
          Will keep in an airtight container for a week or fridge for a month.
          What combination do you fancy? What flavour do you try? Let me know!! Comment below, or tag me on social media if you share pictures.


          See you tomorrow with another idea!

          Flippin’eck! It’s Pancake Day!!

          Pancake Day (also known as Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday; if you are so inclined) is traditionally celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday; which signals the beginning of Lent.

          Shrove, derived from the word shrive, meaning to confess; was traditionally a time for Christians to confess & serve penance (not being religious, I’m afraid we just serve pancakes!)

          Pancakes were traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday, as they used up a lot of eggs, milk & sugar; rich ingredients which were omitted from your menu for the duration of the 40-day long fast.

          image

          Of course, like so many other events throughout the calendar, the Christians weren’t the first kids on the block to celebrate it.

          Pagan festivities included eating these delicious warm round sun-like cakes in the belief that it would invoke the gods of Spring and fertility, and banish the cold dark winter months. Which sounds pretty good to me!!

          Anyway, as I mentioned, we aren’t a religious family; we do however usually make pancakes on Pancake Day.
          We used to do it when the kiddos were…well…kiddos; in fact Teen2 was a bit miffed last year that we didn’t (the fact that this was probably due to the fact that it was one of those nights where he had three social engagements between school & bed was almost definitely lost on him!) and its a tradition that has carried on.

          Usually we make thinnish crepe-like pancakes, and everyone takes a turn of flipping or tossing theirs in the pan.

          When I was young, my parents told me it was good luck if you managed to get your pancake to somersault in the air and land back flat in the pan.
          I had no basis to believe or disprove this, so decided it was most definitely true.
          Teen2 may disagree after the year he grabbed the hot pan rather than the plastic insulated handle and ended up with a trip to A&E (I know, I’m a terrible mother!) but I still stand by my belief that it is most definitely lucky.

          TOP THAT!

          After the making and the tossing, the next step is the topping.

          Usually this starts rather sensibly, with a sprinkling of sugar and a dash of lemon juice; or perhaps a spread of jam, maybe even a drizzle of honey or syrup.
          But, before long, Someone instigates nonsense and they end up covered in all sorts of things…
          Generally there is a combination featuring some (or all!) of the following…

          Nutella
          Ice cream
          Banana
          Syrup
          Cherry pie filling
          Cinnamon
          Lemon juice
          Sugar
          Whipped cream
          Jam
          Marshmallow fluff
          Chopped nuts
          Honey….

          …and anything else He thinks he would get away with!!

          image

          If I remember correctly; this monstrosity contained ice cream, hazelnut chocolate spread, sliced banana, chocolate syrup, whipped cream & chopped nuts; a few years back.

          THIS YEAR, WE TOSSED TRADITION

          This year, instead of our usual large thin pancakes; we had Scotch Pancakes.
          This was not a decision made through some patriotic fervour; in actual fact, I was running low on flour after making a couple of batches of pizza recently.

          image

          TheTeens were suitably impressed that their mum actually knew how to make Scotch Pancakes, something normally just bought and eaten from supermarket packets and; after revering me as a living god; polished off *some*

          MY SUPER EASY SCOTCH PANCAKE RECIPE

          Ingredients:

          200g Self-raising Flour
          100g Caster Sugar
          Pinch Salt
          2 Eggs
          120ml Milk

          (If you don’t have SR flour, replace with 200g plain and add 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder)

          How To:

          Sieve flour, sugar, salt (& baking powder if using) into a bowl.
          Make a well in the middle, crack in the eggs, add the milk, and mix.

          The batter will be thicker than a regular pancake batter, but not as dense as a cake batter.

          image

          Allow to stand for 20 minutes then heat a lightly greased frying pan over a medium heat.

          Drop a tablespoon of batter onto the pan for each pancake. You will fit 2-4 in a regular size pan.

          image

          Once the top has evenly bubbled, flip them over

          image

          Repeat until you have used all the batter.

          You can keep them warm on a tray in a low-heated oven, whilst you finish cooking the rest.

          Ready to eat? Time for TOPPINGS!!

          image

          Jam & Cream

          image

          Marshmallow fluff

          image

          Butter

          Yuuuummmm!!!

          image

          They made me do extras, so they could have some for breakfast tomorrow (totally against the rules of Lent)

          Do you have any Pancake Day traditions?
          Perhaps a favourite pancake recipe or topping?
          Please share! And, as always, thanks for stopping by!
          Hugs,
          The Crafty Lass
          xXx

          Carrot Cake

          Whilst tidying out the fridge prior to going shopping, I realized we had a surfeit of carrots (Like 2 kilo bags).

          I think the problem was heading to Tesco around 9pm one night and grabbing a bunch of reduced to clear veg….carrots were 5p, pairs of avocados 2p (we’ve been eating homemade guacamole by the bucketload).

          Anyway, as we also had a glut of walnuts (thanks to a previous haul of reductions!) I quickly concluded that a Carrot Cake was definitely the way to go.

          As it turned out there were still carrots left, so I popped the remainder through the food processor with the other veg that was lurking in the salad drawer, a few chillis, & a chunk of ginger and rustled up a pot of Asian-inspired soup.

          Now, usually I’m a weigher rather than a measurer. This may surprise you, given my proclivity for quick & easy shortcuts, but I just prefer scales to cups.
          My digital kitchen scales are ancient, I think I bought them the summer we moved in here (15 years ago) and I use them ALL the time; for cooking, baking, checking postage.
          The batteries have been a bit iffy recently and up until now I’ve got away with taking them out & giving them a quick rub (WHY does that work? Is there actual legitimate science behind it? Or is it just MAJYK?)

          Finally, today they just wouldnt start up; and unsurprisingly; the particular batteries it needed were the one type we didn’t have, so I found myself converting my metric amounts into cups – which felt pretty weird, as normally I’m doing it the other way round!

          Ingredients

          Cake:

          • 2 cups Self-Raising Flour (250g)
          • 2 cups Caster Sugar (400g)
          • 1 tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
          • Vegetable Oil (350ml)
          • 4 eggs
          • 2 1/2 cups grated Carrots (350g)
          • 1 cup chopped Walnuts (120g)

          Frosting:

          • 1 cup Cream Cheese (225g)
          • 1/2 cup Margarine (110g)
          • 4 cups Icing Sugar (450g)
          • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
          • 1 cup chopped Walnuts (120g) (optional)

          Method

          1. Preheat oven to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4
          2. Grease & line 2x 23cm cake tins
          3. In a bowl; combine flour, sugar & cinnamon IMG_20150822_144050694
          4. Add oil & eggs IMG_20150822_145148686
          5. Stir in carrots & walnuts IMG_20150822_145846043
          6. Distribute evenly between the tins IMG_20150822_150503327
          7. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer; inserted in the centre; comes out clean
          8. Remove from oven & allow to cool
          9. To make the frosting; whisk together the cream cheese, marg, vanilla & icing sugar then incorporate the additional nuts if using IMG_20150822_214427247
          10. If your cakes are firm enough, split them both in half horizontally, giving you four layers of cake to build with (on this occasion, mine were too crumbly)
          11. Spread one cake with a generous layer of frosting before sandwiching another on top and adding another layer of frosting.
          12. Repeat, finishing with a final layer of frosting and adding your choice of decoration:
          • additional walnuts
          • Marzipan or fondant carrots
          • Grated orange zest

          Do you have a favourite recipe for using up leftover ingredients? Please share in the comments!

          Also, I’d love to hear if you try this one! 

          And perhaps yours won’t collapse like mine did…

          I wasn’t going to add this picture, but in the spirit of honesty and to show that we all have shameful disasters in the kitchen; THIS is what happened as I went to take a picture:

          IMG_20150822_222357813

          😂😂😂😂

          It still tasted fantastic though!

          IMG_20150822_231900985

          I think I might turn the rest into cake balls & coat them in melted white chocolate.

          Amazing mazes, and eating your own weight in berries…

          Today was the last day of OH’s holiday (Teen-2 & I still have one more week until we go back to school/work) so we decided to take a break from painting and head off to an annually frequented local attraction : The Maize Maze.

          Cairnie Fruit Farm & Mega Maze is situated about 15 miles away, in Cupar. We’ve been a number of times over the years and have seen it change over the years. Each season there are improvements and additions to the site and it is a very popular spot.

          The main attraction is, of course, the maze. Every year it has a different theme and this year’s is Dinosaurs. image

          image

          The maze is a lot of fun, there are 2 ‘games’ to play inside it and you can pick up a score card at the entrance. image The first is a Dino Tracker. As you make your way through the maze you come across footprint boards giving you the chance to choose a left or right path. image You note each choice, then after you leave the maze you use a special TRACK-O-GRAPH chart to find out what kind of dinosaur you tracked down. Mine was a Velociraptor!

          The other (and arguably much more fun) activity involves finding Dinosaur nests. There are 10 ‘nest’ boards, each with an eggs stamp that you add to your collector card. At the end you tot up how many of each type of egg you found. image Now, I’m not too good at leaving something like that unfinished, so it’s anybody’s guess as to how many times I had us round the same bit, looking for nests 4 & 5! image image In the end, Teen-1 wandered off & stumbled across 5, which led us to 4 in a round about way. It was hilarious!

          image

          So after the maze, we headed to the Pick Your Own part. Half an hour later, we headed home with punnets full of raspberries, gooseberries and red & blackcurrants; and tummies twice as full… image

          As if we hadn’t scoffed enough, the Teens decided Eton Mess was in order tonight…

          Quick & Easy Eton Mess

          • Double/whipping or heavy cream
          • Meringue nests or shells
          • Strawberries and/or raspberries (or other soft fruits)
          • Whip the cream until stiff
          • Crush the meringues & fold into the cream
          • Slice/chop strawberries and gently fold in the fruit
          • Serve in glass bowls, with a sprig of mint

          IMG_20150810_222908

           

          Do you enjoy Pick-Your-Own or have a favourite way to eat fruit? Please share in the comments