Friday 28 March 2014

Brit Decor: Bakes/ Rum Truffle Crackles

All Images / Mike Ahern

Rum Truffle Crackles

Happy weekend everyone, well nearly! I have rustled up the perfect remedy for those chilly nights when you need a little bite of comfort food to accompany a nice warm drink. Of course, you know me by now, this is another quick and easy recipe for those of us who are pushed for time (just a little).

Not only do these taste great with their crunchy sweet exteriors and soft chocolatey inners, I think they look  really cool too. I love the cracked texture which is accentuated by the frosty white icing sugar coating. Compact and bite sized - almost too easy to eat!

100g Caster sugar
30g Cocoa powder
90g Plain flour
30g Unsalted butter
50g Icing sugar
1/2 tsp Baking powder
10ml Rum
1 Egg

How to make
Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper. In a bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder. Then mix in the butter to form a breadcrumb-type consistency.

In a separate bowl, mix the rum and the egg together before adding this to the breadcrumb mixture. Combine all the ingredients together to form a dough before wrapping this in cling film and placing in your fridge for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 180oc. Now roll the chilled dough into small 4cm balls. Tip the icing sugar onto a plate and roll each ball around it until fully coated. Transfer the balls to the trays and bake for 10 minutes. Yum!

Monday 24 March 2014

Brit Decor: Weekend/

All Images / Mike Ahern

What an amazing weekend! Why? Because on Saturday I received an incredible gift from my dear old Gramp; his old 1930's Kodak folding Brownie Six-20 to be precise. This camera captured history, travelled with him to Egypt during his time serving in the Royal Airforce, recorded the growth of our family and has now ended up in my hands - how cool is that? 

I absolutely love everything about this vintage compact camera, from the concertina lense to the old scratched leather carry case, there is something very special about the entire process of releasing the latch and unfolding the lense, as opposed to the super-fast convenience of simply pressing a button on a camera phone. 

I can also vividly recall sitting with my Gran and going through the many white bordered photos that this camera produced, each photo had its own story, which made it all seem so magical. However, I confess that my knowledge about this camera is very limited but I am hoping to be able to continue the family story and use it to take some photos of my own, so if anyone knows if I can still even buy film for this model and get it processed, I'd love to hear from you!

So did anything special happen to make your weekend amazing?

Friday 21 March 2014

Brit Decor: Bakes/ Berry Messy Cake

All images / Mike Ahern

Berry Messy Cake
Even though we are a long way from Summer here in the UK, last weekend I couldn't help but feel several huge strides closer to those long sunny days! A phone call from my folks announcing that they would be popping over to the cottage for afternoon tea in the garden, sent the kitchen into a hive of hurried activity. Luckily, the sunshine came to the rescue by providing my inspiration; a simple summer sponge cake. Sponges are so easy to whip up and bake and with limited time for decorating, this cake offers all the sweet treats with minimal effort. My kind of bake!

For the sponge
200g softened butter (softened)
200g self-raising flour
200g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1tsp baking powder
2tsp milk

For the filling
150g unsalted butter (softened)
200g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2tsp hot water
5tsp good quality blueberry jam

For the topping
A sprinkling of dried cranberries
Dusting of icing sugar

How to make
Preheat the Oven to 180oc. Grease two 20cm sandwich tins and line with non-stick baking paper.
Beat the eggs before adding the flour, sugar, baking powder and a drop of milk. Mix these ingredients together until you have a smooth batter.

Evenly divide the batter between the two tins and place in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until the sponges are a beautiful golden colour (the sight of these always makes me smile and feel very homely!).  Empty both sponges onto a wire rack to cool.

To make the filling, place the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and mix together until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla extract and the hot water and continue to beat all the ingredients together.

Spread the blueberry jam over the base of one sponge and then add the buttercream filling on top, be as messy as you like and don't spend to long smoothing out the fillings! Then, simply place the second sponge on top and lightly press downwards, allow the filling to ooze out a little. For the topping, dust with icing sugar and sprinkle over some dried cranberries. This recipe is easily adaptable to your own choice of berries.

Will you be baking this weekend?

Friday 14 March 2014

Brit Decor: Bakes/ Contrast Crunches

All images / Mike Ahern

Contrast Crunch Biscuit Dips

Late one afternoon this week and with the sun still shining,  I rushed home in the mood for a bake-off! After a hard day's work, I love to sink into the sofa with a cuppa but sometimes those precious moments of unwinding just need that little something extra...

These biscuits are thin, crunchy and utterly delicious! Feel free to dunk in your tea or simply savour the flavours and textures on their own. The rolled oats create a lovely biscuit crunch texture, whilst the contrasting silky smooth white chocolate adds a touch of decadence to these bite-sized teatime treats.


1 tsp Nutella
1 tsp treacle
50g rolled oats
45g plain flour
80g unsalted butter
200g good quality white chocolate
1/4 tsp of salt
1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g dark brown sugar

How to make:

Preheat the oven to 170oc/Gas mark 3 & line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper. Bring the butter to the boil in a saucepan before adding the sugar. Reduce to medium heat and keep stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved. Then reduce the heat to 'low' and add the Nutella and treacle. Once these ingredients have melted, add the vanilla and the bicarbonate of soda. Remove from the heat.

Add and mix in the flour, oats and salt to create a thick fudge-like consistency. Divide the mixture and roll into small balls. Once these are placed onto the baking trays, flatten the balls to a thickness of around 2-3mm and make sure they are spaced approximately 4cm apart. Bake for around 8-10 minutes but keep a close eye on these wafer thin bites as they will burn very quickly!

Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Melt the chocolate and leave this to cool slightly before dipping each biscuit and then allow to set.

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