A blog for cooking and crafts

Friday, 27 November 2009

Extreme Baking Week - Thursday

Thursday, according to the plan, was supposed to be continuing with cakes and bars. However, the freezer space issues (and the fact that I am a little "baked out") meant it didn't quite go like that :-)

I had to put my car in for its MOT, so decided not to start baking, as the phone call from the garage was bound to come at exactly the wrong time, I didn't want to be caught in the middle of anything! Instead, I did some cross stitch. Four hours later...... the garage phoned, apologising for having forgotten to phone earlier! So I got a lot of stitching done, a rare luxury for me to sit and spend so much time on it. Then I picked up the car and went shopping, as I hadn't been out of the house since last Saturday!

When I got back, I made the pizza bases for tea. These were not just our ordinary pizzas though - these were highly experimental ones! A while ago I bought some baking tins from Lidl, which I thought would be ideal for party pizzas, and now was my opportunity to try them out.

Well. Ahem. I will not be doing these for the party, in fact I think my obsession with mini food has finally met its match :-) They are very fiddly to make, difficult to put toppings on as they are so narrow, half of the stuff goes over the tin! I do not want to be making 20 of these as part of my party prep! However...... they tasted wonderful, the crust turned out really well. So I think that I will (when I eventually have freezer space!) make a batch as "snack pizzas", to be pulled out for a weekend lunch or something.

I got on with some more stitching during the evening and am really pleased with my progress, though I don't think I will finish in time to get it framed for Christmas. The photos are of the piece at end of Wednesday and then Thursday.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Extreme Baking Week - Wednesday

Wednesday was cakes & bars day. First I made the remaining stuff from Tuesday's plan, the surprise pies in chocolate and jam - which I have cut in half for the photo so you can see - then the mini apple crumble pies, these last being a bit of an experiment - they came out wonderfully, really yummy.

Then on with the day's list. Chocolate chip mini muffins, tropical fruit cake, flapjacks and rice krispie bars - not very Christmassy I know, but I had re-found an old recipe I used when the kids were younger .... and they are good things to take into work, everybody loves them!

At this point there were still of couple of things on the list, but I had to have a bit of a re-evaluation, as I am running out of freezer space! There are two enormous turkeys in there, after all....... I still haven't made any of my special breads, never mind the spring rolls and more mini quiches for the big party. So Thursday will have to be spent doing just enough to fill the freezer, then I will work on making more space :-)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Extreme Baking Week - Tuesday

Tuesday was pastry day, according to my plan. But first I made the two batches of shortbread, one batch of ginger nuts and the triple choc chip biscuits from Monday's list :-) These last are supposed to have one pack each of plain, milk and white choc chips, but I couldn't find the white packs I *knew* were there somewhere.... so this batch has two plain packs instead. And yes, I found the white ones as soon as the biscuits were in the oven :-)
Then I got on with the pastry! A dozen mini cheese and onion quiches, a new recipe for me and so yummy that not all of them made it to the freezer - I will be doing another batch of those on Thursday, along with a batch with a different filling. Then came an experiment with some frozen sausagemeat stuffing (from last Christmas!) and some frozen puff pastry (also from last year!) - can you tell I don't do pastry stuff very often??? I thawed both ingredients and cut the block of stuffing in half horizontally to make two thin pieces, then cut the pastry sheet in half, laid the sausagemeat on top of one pastry half and covered with the other, sealed the edges. As usual with my puff pastry experiments the base didn't cook well and I had to turn it upside down and return to the oven for 15 minutes or so...... Well it tasted OK, but doesn't look too appealing, so no photo of that one!

Another new recipe to finish with - mini lemon surprise pies. These are made using a mini muffin tray - a pastry shell , with lemon curd in the bottom, then a sponge mix on top. Absolutely scrummy - had to prise them out of DH's hands in order to freeze them :-) I made two more lots of the sweet pastry, to make jam surprise and chocolate surprise versions, and cooked up some diced apples for mini apple pies. By then it was time to grab one of my previously frozen meals (bolognese sauce) - you don't think I am doing any actual meal cooking this week do you.......??? So the surprise and the apple pies will be baked on Wednesday.
Not a bad day, and I think I have ended it with less catch-up to do tomorrow than I did on Monday, so hey, I must be making progress!
Oh and I have been asked what on earth I am going to do with all this stuff...... We have a Christmas party every year, and the guests get a basket of biscuits to take home with them. This contain a dozen pieces each of shortbread, choc biscuits, gingernuts, vanilla fudge, choc fudge and a small Christmas cake. Four families at the party this year - so four baskets - therefore I need at least four dozen of all the above items before I even start to think about our own stuff! Oh and I have promised to bring cakes to work for Christmas ........... :-)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Extreme Baking Week - Monday

Monday was biscuit day! On the list were chocolate biscuits, ginger nuts, shortbread, oat & raisin biscuits. I also wanted to make a couple of others, time permitting, which were melt-in-the-mouth choc chip biscuits and custard creams.

Well, the choc and the oat & raisin dough were chilling in the fridge and I started on the shortbread, I needed to make 4 double batches (120 biscuits altogether). Then - disaster struck! I only had enough caster sugar to make two batches. Moral: never take just a sweeping glance into your cupboard and think "oh that'll be enough sugar". I couldn't go out to Tesco before DH got home as my car is out of MOT so I needed to use his. So, on to the next thing, which was the gingernuts, 2 double batches required, and the recipe uses demerara sugar so I was fine there. Then - disaster struck! I had run out of plain flour after the first batch. Moral: NEVER take just a sweeping glance into your cupboard ........ for anything! The custard cream and the choc chip recipes both use plain flour, so they were off the menu too :-)

So in the end, I made three batches of choc (120 biscuits), two of shortbread (60), one of gingernut (60) and one of oat & raisin (60). Oh and I finished off the mincemeat I started on Sunday and potted that up. So not a bad day, even considering disasters!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Extreme Baking Week - Sunday

I should have posted this last night, but was so tired at the end of a busy weekend! I will try to post every day from now on, hand on heart :-)

I decided to get a little headstart on the week by starting on Sunday. Mincemeat slices and small Christmas cakes, both from Delia's Christmas book. I also started off her mincemeat recipe, which will be finished off today.

Gasp - another ATC !

You don't think I am getting hooked do you? Here is the second Here Be Dragons ATC, the background is the same technique as before, in shades of blue this time. It may yet have some tiny jewels placed here and there, but not before I write on the back - I learned that lesson last time! Julia asked me what I was going to do with the first one - well I have traded it with Sy, since it's all her fault I am even doing this :-) Oh I have discovered 'ATC back' stamps ................ I bought a sheet from Tanda Stamps which includes this highly appropriate dragon design. Obviously there is no hope for me now!

I have the week off work to do my Christmas baking ..... I have decided it will be called my Extreme Baking Week .... watch this space!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A cautious step into the world of ATCs

I have to admit.... I don't really *get* ATCs. So I decided it's about time I had a serious go at doing some. Inspired by Sy, who showed me a direct to paper technique at the Debden weekend, I made some backgrounds using two different colours of chalk ink (one lightish, one dark). The light went on all over and was swirled around a bit, then the dark was swirled on the edges. Then I stamped a crackle background stamp in the darker shade over the whole lot and inked the edges with it too, for good measure!

Result: one really incredible background. I was amazed :-) For about 10 seconds, until I thought "What on earth do I put on top???"

On forums, I am known as "here be dragons", so that was my starting point. Searching among my dragon stamps (of which I have quite a few!) I found the dragon and sword stamp shown here. I stamped and embossed it and added a gem to the hilt of the sword.

The photograph doesn't really do it justice, but I am rather pleased with it and have made some more backgrounds in the same way, with different colours, which will have their own dragons :-)