Life, Lather & Luxuries

Rise to the challenge for World Baking Day!

May 14th, 2013 | 1 comment | permalink

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Dig out your favourite apron, dust off those scales and raid your store cupboard. World Baking Day is almost here (19 May) and encourages people to step out of their comfort zone, by choosing to bake one of the 100 cakes on the event’s website, which have been submitted by cooks from all over the globe. At no. 1 on the list, Banana Muffins are for the kitchen novices, while the show-stopping Cream Puff Cake at no. 100 is for those very brave bakers.

The Vanilla, Strawberry & Rose Victoria Sponge took my fancy (level 66), but I decided to add my own take on it. Yes, I have baked many sponge cakes in my time. However, I must confess that recently I’ve been suffering from the curse of the dreaded soggy bottom! That’s why I wanted to go back to basics. For ease, I did an all-in-one recipe and my unique twist on the cake involves a blueberry jam filling and drizzle.

 

I’m proud to say my Blueberry Jam & Drizzle Victoria Sponge was a resounding success (next stop Cream Puff Cake?). Here’s how to make it…

You’ll need…

Cake

4 eggs (weighed in their shells)

Soft margarine (same weight as the eggs)

Caster sugar (same weight as the eggs)

Self-raising (same weight as the eggs)

Drizzle and filling

Half a jar of Crabtree & Evelyn Blueberry Preserve

1 tbs margarine

2 tbs Belvoir Blueberry & Blackcurrant Cordial

50g icing sugar

A handful of rose petals (or you could use fresh blueberries)

Jam

 

Make it…

 

1. Set the oven to Gas Mark 4, 160C (fan oven), 180C or 360F. Grease and line 2 x 8inch sandwich tins.

 

2. All the cake ingredients need to weigh the same amount. First weigh the eggs in their shells. I used duck eggs fresh from the farm and they weighed 8oz, so I made sure the margarine, sugar and flower weighed 8oz, too. The beauty of using duck eggs is that they have bigger yolks and make for a delicious golden sponge.

 

3. Make life easy for yourself by doing an all-in-one cake mixture. Crack the first egg in to a small bowl to make sure it’s a good egg, and add it to a food processor, KitchenAid, or a large bowl (you’ll need an electric whisk to beat the ingredients together). Repeat until all four eggs are cracked, then add the margarine, the sugar and sieve in the flour.

 

4. Mix all the ingredients together until they are pale, light and fluffy as a day old chick!

 

5. Using a large spoon dollop the cake mixture into the tins so it’s equally distributed. Smooth over with a spatula.

 

6. Bake the cakes for 20-25 minutes until they are golden and spring back to touch.

 

7. Leave the cakes to cool in their tins and then press them out onto a wire rack for further cooling.

8. Once the cakes have reached room temperature, put one half on a lovely large plate and spread half a jar of C&E Blueberry Preserve on to it (use more if you’re feeling lavish). Place the other half of the sponge on top.

 

9. Now for the really fun part, the drizzle! Pop the margarine, icing sugar and cordial into a bowl and whisk until all of the ingredients are combined. Pour onto the center of the cake and let the drizzle work its magic. To make the Victoria sponge look super-pretty and fit for a queen, scatter rose petals on top and dust with icing sugar.

 

Will you be taking part in World Baking Day? If so, tell us all about your cakey creations in the comments box below or on Crabtree & Evelyn’s Facebook page.

 

Cake&well

Goat’s Cheese Cheesecakes with Rosemary, Thyme and Figs

April 10th, 2013 | Comments Off | permalink

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Some flavour combinations are just meant to be together – like cheese and biscuits, rosemary and thyme, and figs and honey. That’s why we decided to mix them all together in our savoury cheesecake recipe. The result is a tasty rustic treat that can be enjoyed as a starter or after dinner in place of a sweet desert.

Shake up your recipe regime by making our goat cheesecakes with rosemary, thyme and figs.

Rosemary and thyme don’t just taste delicious together in cookery – as well as being a top TV crime fighting duo, they’re also a powerful herbal combination to use in beauty products. In fact, the herbaceous heroes are key ingredients for our Gardeners range. Forget birthday cake – we’re celebrating by tucking into our goat cheesecakes with rosemary, thyme and figs. Here’s how to make them…

Ingredients

8 digestive biscuits
50g butter
1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
2 generous handfuls of thyme
1 packet of fresh mini figs
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
200g soft goat cheese
100g soft cheese
Sea salt, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice to season

You’ll also need…
4 ramekins and a food processor

Method

1. Place the digestive biscuits and rosemary into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then season with salt and pepper.

2. Melt the butter and combine it into the biscuit base mixture.

3. Equally distribute the herby biscuit crumbs into the ramekins, press down firmly with the back of a spoon and refrigerate. We like our base to be dense, but you could add less biscuits and more cheese, if you wish.

4. Top and tail the figs and cut them in half. Place them in an oven dish (face up), drizzle with honey/maple syrup, and scatter with thyme leaves. Bake for at least 20 minutes at 200C until soft and sweet.

5. Whizz the goat cheese and soft cheese together in a food processor with a handful of thyme leaves. Season the cheese with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

6. Take the ramekins out of the fridge and spoon the goat cheese and herb mixture on top.

7. Transfer the figs and any syrup from their baking into a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth compote.

8. Refrigerate the goat cheesecakes for at least 20 minutes before serving. If you want to be fancy, decorate them with a sprig of rosemary and scatter with thyme leaves.

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If you like the idea of this recipe, take a look at our previous recipe for lavender scones.

 

 

Mix things up for ‘Stir up’ Sunday

November 23rd, 2012 | 146 comments | permalink

 

Stir up’ Sunday is the traditional day to make your Christmas pudding and this year it falls on November 25. Get your wooden spoon, festive apron and two pence piece ready – it’s Christmas pudding time.

 

Read on for some fascinating facts on the jolly British pud, and an alternative recipe for those who are booked up on Sunday…

 

Meaty issues

The origins of the Christmas pudding date back to the Middle Ages, when they contained chopped poultry, pheasant, rabbit and partridge. During the 15th century it’s incarnation was similar to a stodgy porridge-type mixture containing mixed meat, vegetables and dried fruit. In its early years it was known as ‘plum pottage’ even though there weren’t any plums in it. Confusing, eh?

 

Perfect pud

Traditionally, Christmas pudding should have exactly thirteen ingredients, to represent Christ and his twelve apostles. You must use a wooden spoon and stir the mixture from east to west – this is to honour the three wise men, who came to Bethlehem from the east. Every member of the family should stir the mixture and make a wish.

 

Fortune telling 

Being romantic types, the Victorians introduced the tradition of putting charms in the pudding to foretell the future. A silver coin represented health, wealth and happiness, while a ring heralded marriage. A women who found a thimble was apparently destined for a year of spinsterhood, and if a man found a button he’d supposedly be set for 12 months of bachelorhood. If you’re adding charms, make sure you sterilise them in boiling water before adding to them to the mixture – and warn your guests to chew with caution!

 

Not everyone loves Christmas pudding. So for an alternative sweet treat, why not serve up festive pancakes on December 25? Delicious Abra ca Debora pancakes are one of our store cupboard essentials – especially over the holiday season. Plus, they have a delicious homemade taste, so no one will suspect you’ve taken a short cut.

 

Here’s our three-step recipe for…

Griddled pear pancakes with sloe gin

 

Ingredients

6 sweet Abra ca Debora pancakes

3 red pears, sliced

A knob of butter

A sprinkle of cloves

Tsp. cinnamon

A fine grating of nutmeg

A glug of sloe gin

Ice cream or crème fraîche to serve

 

Method:

1) Melt the butter in a griddle pan and add the pears and the spices. Griddle for about 4-5 minutes. Slosh in some sloe gin before you take the pan off the heat.

2) Microwave the six pancakes together for about two minutes until they are warm. Or heat them up individually in the pan for an extra spicy sweet flavour.

3) Discard the cloves and layer the pears on the pancakes. Serve with crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream – and an optional cheeky shot of sloe gin.

 

COMPETITION

Now here’s another treat for you… We’re giving away a flipping lovely Abra ca Debora hamper full of pancakes and ingredients to make delicious toppings with. To be in with a chance of winning, simply share your favourite festive pancake topping ideas in the comments box below.

Terms & conditions

By entering this competition you are agreeing for your name to be posted to Crabtree & Evelyn Ltd’s social media pages (Facebook/Twitter/Blog). If you do not wish for this information to be shared please state this.  One winner will be selected by a panel of judges; they will receive the hamper of pancakes.  Hamper and ingredients may differ from those pictured. Crabtree & Evelyn Ltd reserve the right to alter or end the competition at any time. The competition is open to UK residents only. Competition ends on the 1st December 2012