Friday 29 August 2014

BRIT DECOR: BAKES / Baked Custard

All Images / Mike Ahern

Brit Decor, baked custard? No my friends, the blog hasn't been hijacked and it's still very much under the control of my own 21st century editorial hands!

This simple and rather old-fashioned bake came to me in an unexpected flicker of inspiration whilst watching one of my favourite old Miss Marple movies, Murder She Said. Shot in black & white in the 1960's and starring the indomitable Margaret Rutherford, these films are among some of my favourite and reflect a very different Britain. So, you know when you have one of those gloomy, rainy days and feel like the only feasible thing to do is find a cosy corner and stay indoors? Well that's often a Miss Marple day for me!

Anyway, in this particular film, the buoyant Miss Marple whipped out a dish of baked custard from an oven and this was to be my inspired bake from the past. The sight of the baked nutmeg topping and the warm tones of the egg custard is a real heart-warming dish, particularly on a wash-out of a day. 

300ml cream
250ml milk
120g caster sugar
3 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
Ground nutmeg (sprinkle)

How to make:
Preheat your oven to 180oc. In a bowl,  whisk together the sugar and eggs before adding the cream, milk and vanilla extract. Once the mixture has been nicely whisked together (light hand workout!) pour into an ovenproof dish. Then sit the dish in a larger tray half-filled with hot water and place in the oven for around 35 minutes until golden on top. One of my easiest bakes yet!

Serve warm for the full comfort factor.

Friday 15 August 2014

Brit Decor: Geo Pots #2

All images / Mike Ahern

The Brit Decor HQ redecoration works at the cottage have been moving at a snail's pace recently, with tantalising bursts of progress squeezed in whenever I've had a moment or two to spare. Thankfully, I am now at the final stages of the design process and the really fun part; accessorising! 

Whenever decorating I love to add my own handmade touches to give the scheme a personal and unique touch. Sometimes it can be the smallest of detailing but importantly, I know it's there. In this case I was pondering over desktop accessories - the scheme needed something light and simple so I turned to a previous Brit Decor 'make' project; my Geo pots. This time around I opted for an off-white card to mimic the detailing on my origami lampshade which will also feature in the new room scheme. For an added twist and a focal point, I broke out my letter stamping set (I so heart the hand-printed look). A personalised geo pot would also make a great gift don't you think?!

I am really looking forward to sharing the final room scheme with you! It shouldn't be long now...

Friday 8 August 2014

Brit Decor: Bakes/ Chocolate Raspberry Cake

All images/ Mike Ahern

What to do on a welcome break from the world of work? Of course comfort food is always high up on my list of priorities and a cake is a great item to have in the house for those unexpected visits from friends seeking chat and a cuppa. So cake it was but it needed to have a Summery twist too, which is the reason I decided it had to be a chocolate raspberry sponge cake. 

The sweet cream cheese frosting with raspberry flavouring offers a perfect partnering for the rich velvety chocolate cake. The pale pink frosting also looks so innocent against the darker sponge, creating a striking colour contrast. We have to get our colouring right, don't we?

(For the sponge)
180g Caster sugar
175g Unsalted butter
120g Self-raising flour
60g Cocoa powder
1tsp Baking powder
3 Large eggs

(For the frosting)
190g Icing sugar
130g Cream cheese
2tsp Raspberry jam
2-3 drops of pink food colouring
Dried raspberry pieces

How to make
Preheat the oven to 190oC and grease two 20cm baking tins. Begin by mixing together the butter and sugar until creamy. Next mix in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt - add the eggs one at a time until all the ingredients have combined and you have a thick creamy batter. Evenly divide the batter into the two tins before placing in the oven for around 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and then leave to cool.

For the frosting, place the cream cheese in a bowl then add the icing sugar along with 2-3 drops of pink food colouring, blend these together until smooth. Spread some of the frosting over the bottom layer of cake before placing the second layer on top, then repeat with the top layer. I chose to sprinkle some dried raspberry pieces over the frosting but you could try some dark chocolate pieces if you are feeling uber-indulgent!

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