Man, I wish I had an excuse for the extreme amount of blog slacking that I have been doing. Unfortunately, I don’t. The funny part is that I’m still baking. A lot. I’ve made cakes, pies, cookies, and crumbles. Most of them I take photos of (although I did lose a couple in my iOS 5 update). I just don’t get around to blogging about it. Then I bake more, and have even MORE to blog about, and then I don’t, because I have to catch-up. So hopefully, this blog will catch me up for my wonderful baking, and I can get back on track.
So in no particular order:
I’ve baked about two pies in the last two months: one savory and one sweet. Living in the UK, I’ve decided to embrace the regional cuisine and work on making savory pies. I even randomly ordered a cookbook on pies from Amazon (especially because it was on sale). I’m completely addicted to cookbooks, and they are one medium I refuse to get on the Kindle. I love being able to flip through the pages and see in color the wonderful concoctions I could make. I decided on a chicken, leek, and ham pie. It looked fairly simple, and it looked like a good start. They even supplied me with a new pie dough recipe. So I whipped it up. (Unfortunately I am picture-less on this one.) It turns out that I either suck at making savory pies OR it was a terrible recipe. The filling was quite boring and the crust was just awful. Tom didn’t even eat the crust. I was mortified that I made something so horrible. I have since vowed to go back to my other crust recipe to alleviate it. The filling was not so bad; it was just a bit boring. Nothing in it to spice it up. I think if I made the pie again, I’d definitely look into adding some friend sage or thyme to recipe to improve it a bit. I’m hoping the rest of recipes aren’t as bad.
The second pie was an apple pie. I’ve recently decided to order a weekly fruit and veg box. It’s quite fun getting a selection of fruits and vegetables that I probably wouldn’t buy in the stores. It gives me the opportunity to try new things in the kitchen, which I’m always about. Anyway, one week one of the fruits were Bramley cooking apples. Not something that you can really eat on their own, so I decided to make apple pie. I was a bit concerned about the amount of apples, so I decided to add some raspberries and make an improvised pie. I looked at the recipe in my pie cookbook, and slightly adapted it (using the vodka pie crust I’ve used in the past instead of the one in the book). It really came out magnificently. (Check out the photo in the slideshow at the end.) The one thing that I’ve decided after making this pie is that I’m done with the vodka pie crust. I’ve been trying it out in a few different things, and to be honest, it’s just not as rich and decadent as the Martha Stewart recipe I usually use. I love the fact it’s easy to roll and easy to handle, but I just find it to be a bit too generic for my palate. I will definitely be doing apple pies again in the future though!
I’m not going to lie, cakes are some of my favorite things to bake. I’ve baked about four cakes in the last few months. The first was a chocolate cake. I wanted to try the chocolate birthday cake recipe from my chocolate cookbook for ages. Unfortunately, I was missing one of the key ingredients: cacao nibs. They’re practically impossible to find in the UK, but while I was out and about I found them, so I decided to throw myself a faux birthday party (as I didn’t have a real one on my actual birthday) in order to invite people over and try it. I have to say it came out very well (picture in slideshow). The cake is very different than the one from Serendipity, but not in a bad way. It’s definitely not as decadent, but there’s a white chocolate ganache on top which really adds to the flavor. I even added a few spoons of raspberry liqueur to the ganache in order to give it a hint of raspberry, and booze always helps.
Two of the cakes were chocolate beetroot cakes. I found the recipe in the back of one of the books I read, and I love beetroot so I decided to go for it. The cake was in metric, which required a scale, and the scale I previously had didn’t really work well, so I bought a new digital scale for the kitchen. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that I had to remove some parts before using it, so the first cake I made really was a bit dry. Then I got some beetroots in my fruit and veg box, so I decided to try it again. The cake was better, but it’s still a dry cake. I think it’s due to the fact that there is no oil or butter in the cake, just sour cream. It really adds a different texture. The topping for the cake was supposed to be some sort of whipped egg white thing, but I couldn’t be bothered to try, so I made two different cream cheese frostings for the two cakes. The first was covered in chopped hazelnuts, the second with slivered almonds. They’re quite tasty, but I think I might retire the recipe as there are probably better recipes out there. (Pictures in slideshow.)
Finally, I made a spiced cranberry cake. I was in the mood for something like that, and I love cranberries so I just went for it. The addition of five spice to the cake was something that I didn’t expect, but it really added a nice depth of flavor. It’s definitely a great holiday treat. (No pictures unfortunately.)
At work, we were talking about he American fixation with peanut butter. Someone mentioned that she didn’t really like peanut butter, so I decided to make some peanut butter cookies to bring into work. I went back to one of my favorite sites for recipes, smitten kitten, and used the recipe there. I liked the recipe because there was more peanut butter than butter. It sounded amazing, plus the addition of chocolate and peanut butter chips sounded great. Unfortunately, like many things in the UK, peanut butter chips are non-existent, so I went with chocolate chips and dry roasted peanuts. The cookies came out great and everyone at worked loved them. Since then, I’ve been on a bit of a peanut butter cookie obsession, and I’ve made two more batches. For the second, I did manage to find online peanut butter chips and butterscotch chips imported from America, so I bought those and used those instead of chocolate chips in the recipe. For the last batch, I made them with the chocolate and peanut butter, which I think is the best combination. However, the last batch were a bit off texturally because I accidentally added half as much butter as I should have. They still tasted great, just a bit off. (And no pictures. I know, three batches and no pictures. Stupid iphone!)
Last is a plum crumble I made. I got some plums in my box, and I saw a spiced plum crumble recipe in the pie cookbook, so I decided to make one. I wasn’t sure I’d have enough plums, so I bought some extra, and then I decided to get some blueberries and throw them in. It took longer to bake than expected, but once it was done, the flavors were great! I have to recommend crumbles because of the sheer ease of making. Since the topping is usually just a mix of flour, sugar, and butter, and it doesn’t need to be rolled into a crust, it’s incredibly easy and very tasty. I think crumbles are going to have to be something I do a bit more often when I want to make something quick and easy.