Friday 28 February 2014

Brit Decor: Bakes / Butter Biscuit Hearts

Butter Biscuit Hearts
Whist photographing these melt-in-the-mouth cuties, it did cross my mind that perhaps this recipe would have been better suited to Valentines Day, but then again, every day should be full of love, right? So here's my own contribution to spreading the love...

250g plain flour
100g icing sugar
200g butter (cubed)
2 eggs
A pinch of salt
8tbsp jam (your choice)

Begin by preheating your oven to 170oc, then place the flour, icing sugar, butter and salt into a bowl. Rub these ingredients together to make breadcrumbs (a great finger workout!).

Add the egg yolks to your breadcrumbs and mix together to create a dough. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a thickness of approximately 0.5cm. Now apply the heart-shaped cutter.

Place half of the heart shapes onto a baking tray and cut-out 2cm holes in the centre of the remaining hearts. Now add these to the baking tray and place the entire batch in the oven for just 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Use a teaspoon to measure a small drop of jam (I prefer to use a cheaper own brand as it has the consistency of puree) and drop this onto each whole biscuit. Then gently place the other hearts, with the holes in the middle, on top. Aren't they cute!?

To finish, lightly dust with icing sugar.

Images / Mike Ahern

Friday 14 February 2014

Brit Decor: Geo Pots

All images / Mike Ahern

A fully functional and stylish desk accessory
When I received a letter from our local electricity distributor warning of a possible power interruption for up to eight hours last weekend, I initially felt cold with internet, no wi-fi, no Brit Decor bake...what would I do!? However, once I calmed down and put things into perspective, I realised that having no electricity could be a good thing, and so I started thinking about a suitable alternative project for the blog...

My newly acquired copy of the Mini Eco craft book by the lovely Kate Lilley, immediately sprung to mind. My love of geo-inspired patterns and shapes (still trending heavily in 2014) drew me to Kate's striking geometric cardboard pots and I decided that I had to have one sitting on my desk, and with no electricity required, I knew this would make the perfect project.

I decided to deviate slightly from Kate's instructions to create my own unique designs using grey card rather than brown cardboard but I still wanted to use the neon papers. The resulting contrast between the steel grey card and the electric neon interiors look equally as striking. The only downside to my customisation was the thinness of the card, which meant that glueing the edges together was virtually impossible so I had to opt for clear tape on the inside of the pots instead.

Overall I was pretty darn pleased with my crafting project and the fact that I had a fully functional and stylish desk accessory at the end of it!

For more info and templates, grab yourself a copy of Mini Eco - well worth owning if you are looking for an abundance of easy to follow crafting-meets-style projects.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday 7 February 2014

Brit Decor: Bakes / Moist Chocolate Cake

Moist Chocolate Cake

When deciding on a bake project, I tend to gravitate towards chocolate. It just has that feel-good taste that all treats should and as a baking ingredient it is the king of comfort foods. Unlike last week's pastry recipe, I was more limited for time this week so I needed to think up something which required minimal ingredients (all of which I already had in my kitchen cupboards) and minimal making time. This one certainly delivers on all of those areas!

This cake is surprisingly light and deliciously moist, even the next day, due to the use of olive oil as a substitute for milk. Aesthetically, this piece of chocolate heaven needs little dressing up and looks great laid out onto simple a white plate or cake stand. I chose to slice and serve after it had cooled (due to the photo shoot) but this cake would make a divine desert warm from the oven with some vanilla pod ice cream or custard.

75g high quality cocoa powder
125ml boiling water
2 tsp vanilla extract
125g plain flour
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
200g caster sugar
150ml olive oil
3 eggs
Icing sugar (to dust top)

1x 23cm cake tin

How to make:
Preheat the oven to 170oc / gas mark 3 and Grease the baking tin.

Sift the cocoa powder into a small jug and add the boiling water, along with the vanilla extract. Stir until you have a medium thick syrup.

In a bowl, combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and add to this the sugar, olive oil and eggs. Mix together until you have a smooth creamy texture. Then add the cocoa mixture, and again, mix until smooth.

Pour the chocolatey mixture into the baking tin and cook for approximately 35 minutes. Once cooled, lightly dust the surface of the cake with icing sugar to finish. Yes that really is all you need to do folks!

All images / Mike Ahern

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