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

          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!!

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          Jam & Cream

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          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.

          Chili & Ginger Salmon

          I think you’ve probably worked out by now that my cooking & baking is more ‘a bit of this and a handful of that’ and less exact weights and measures.

          I enjoy cooking convoluted and complicated dishes on occasion but really, if that’s what you are looking for, there are at least a million and one other (more professional!) places you can find those recipes. On here, I’m all about quick, easy & tasty. It’s very rare you’ll find anything that takes longer than half an hour. If it does, it’s time spent cooking away; doing it’s own thing and leaving you to do something else 😀

          So, without further ado, here’s my recipe for chili & ginger salmon; on the table in under half an hour…

          Ingredients for 4

          • 4 salmon fillets
          • 3-5 spring onions
          • 3 cloves garlic
          • 1-2 chilies
          • 1″ piece of ginger
          • 1 lime
          • Soy sauce
          • 1 1/2 cups rice
          • Rice vinegar
          IMG_20150723_192154843_HDR

          These ingredients add amazing flavours to the salmon.

          1. Rinse some rice & leave it to soak.
          2. Preheat oven to 350F/180/170C fan/Gas Mark 5.
          3. Lightly oil some foil (double the length of a baking tray).
          4. Lay salmon fillets in the centre of the foil, skin side down.
          5. Chop the spring onion, garlic, ginger & chilies; and sprinkle on top.
          6. Squeeze over the juice of 1/2 a lime, shake on around a tablespoon of soy sauce and add the grated zest of the lime.

            Ready to go in the oven.

            Ready to go in the oven.

          7.  Loosely wrap the foil over & seal the edges.Pop in the oven for 15-18 minutes.
          8.  Drain & rinse rice and put in pot with 3 cups of water. Bring to the boil & then simmer for 15 minutes.
          9. When all the water has evaporated, turn off the heat and add juice from the other 1/2 of the lime & 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar. Replace the lid, give the pot a shake & set aside while you remove the salmon from the oven.
          10. Serve immediately, with your choice of vegetables.
          Enjoy!

          Enjoy!

          Do you have a favourite quick & easy recipe? Please share in the comments! Also, I’d love to hear if you try this recipe.

          Thanks for reading! Xx

          3-ingredient Brownie OR How-To-Cheat-at-Baking

          I can’t actually remember where we stumbled on the original recipe for these, so if anyone knows, please give me a shout.

          IMG_20150722_234354782

          We tweaked it a bit until it was as quick an easy as possible. These measurements work for us but you may want to tweak it further to your own personal taste.

          Essentially, it is some sort of hybrid between a brownie, a cake and a fondant; and in terms of number of ingredients & taste & look (i.e. it can actually pass as a ‘real’ cake or puddingy dessert) it beats our previous quick fix chocolate mug cake recipe hands down. Yes, it takes slightly longer but really, if you were making individual mug cakes for more than two of you; it’s about the same. Plus, whilst you make not want to plonk down a microwave mug cake at the end of a dinner party; you could totally get away with serving this!

          1. Preheat oven to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 5
          2. Grab a 400g jar of chocolate spread, some plain flour & 2 eggs
          3. 3. Put between 3/4 & 1 cup of flour in the bowl (around 100-125g)
          Between 3/4 & 1 cup of plain flour. I used 1 this time and felt it could have done with a little less.

          I used 1 full cup this time and felt it could have done with a little less.

          4. Add 2 eggs. Just crack them straight in, there’s no need to pre-beat.

          IMG_20150722_221534172

          5. Scoop out the contents of the jar. (Go on, lick the spoon, no-one will know)

          IMG_20150722_221720738

          6. Whisk it together. It doesn’t have to be smooth.

          7. Spread it into a baking tin.

          IMG_20150722_222155534

          At this point I thought “Hey, ya know what might work???”

          ...so I stirred a good sprinkle of freeze-dried raspberry in... I know, it's breaking the rules & I'm now making 4-ingredient brownies; but hey, that's how I roll.

          …so I stirred in a good sprinkle of freeze-dried raspberries…
          I know! It’s breaking the rules & I’m now making 4-ingredient brownies. But, Hey; that’s how I roll.

          8. (or 9. depending on whether you cheated too). Pop in the oven for 15-18 minutes. 15 if you’ve spread it out in a long tray, nearer 20 if it’s in a smaller one, and therefore thicker.

          A skewer inserted in the middle should come out cleanish

          This was mine after 20 minutes. It was still pretty wet at 15, but i wish i had taken it out at 18.

          This was mine after 20 minutes. It was still pretty wet at 15, but i wish i had taken it out at 18.

          Allow to cool before cutting into slices (if you can!)

          IMG_20150722_234104944

          IMG_20150722_234243990

          VARIATIONS: 

          • Try different flavours of choc spread. We usually use chocolate hazelnut; but you could try chocolate orange, chocolate caramel, white chocolate…

          Or try adding a handful of :

          • Chocolate chips
          • Nuts
          • Dried fruit
          • Fudge pieces
          • Freeze-dried raspberry/ strawberry
          • Mini Marshmallows

          CONFESSION TIME:

          This is going to sound like such a cop-out, but we actually used this as Birthday Cake recently! Teen2 was in a play at our local Repertory Theatre the night before & night of his 16th birthday, which fell on a Saturday. We were going out for a family meal at a Chinese buffet restaurant in the afternoon, he was planning on taking cake-cake for pre-show and was heading out for pizza with friends later; so the idea of baking another ‘proper’ cake for during the day seemed kinda silly. I made one of these, dusted it with cocoa & icing sugar, and we used that. It was amazing!! It was just nicely gooey in the centre and actually felt quite decadent served with a dollop of cream! IMG_20150627_170614650