Resignation is a piece of cake for Mr Cake

mr cake resignation cake

What a fabulous way to resign from a job that you’re not happy doing!

Chris Holmes (AKA Mr Cake) felt that he needed to pursue his dreams of being a fulltime baker rather than be be doing a job he wasn’t 100% doing. So he resigned but rather than write a letter he baked a very unique resignation cake as you can see above.

The story has gone like, well, hot cakes on the social media networks. I caught sight of it because someone on twitter had retweeted Holmes’ brother-in-law’s tweet and photo above.

I sincerely wish Chris every success for the future!

 

Chili con carne with baked beans recipe

chili con carne recipe

My wife was back at work yesterday and as our daughters were still off school we decided we’d make tea for us all. Our eldest has recently started cookery lessons at senior school and had made a vegetable chili con carne so she was head-chef! We made a meat chili con carne with baked beans. I know that not everyone adds baked bins to their chili but we do and my mum has always done too. As you can see from the photo this is very much an ad-hoc recipe! Here it is:

Chili con carne with baked beans recipe
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: CutleryDrawer
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
Minced-beef chili con carne made with kidney and baked beans.
Ingredients
  • 2 onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 portion fresh lean-minced beef
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili powder
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin baked beans
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • half tin water
Instructions
  1. Peel and chop onions and garlic
  2. Saute in large sauce pan
  3. Add minced beef and brown
  4. Add chili powder – adjust to how hot you like it
  5. Add tin of tomatoes
  6. Add tin of baked beans
  7. Wash kidney beans and add to pan
  8. Rinse tomato and baked beans tins with qtr can of water and add to pan
  9. Add tomato puree
  10. Leave to simmer for around and hour, stirring occasionally
  11. Allow to cool and flavours will merge and enhance.
  12. Serve with rice, baked potato, tortillas etc

 

Baking with the new range from Waitrose

Waitrose homebaking ingredientsWaitrose have launched a new range of baking ingredients called Cooks’ Homebaking and they kindly sent us some to try out.

As our cake tin was empty (a dreadful state of affairs!) my wife Sarah found a few spare minutes to bake a quick batch of fairy cakes. As we always do, she followed Delia’s all-in-one sponge recipe, adjusting the quantities to suit. For half the mixture she added some coffee to make some coffee cupcakes …our girls aren’t keen so they have plain sponge.

The recipe takes no time at all and if you pre-heat your oven before you get your mixing bowl out, you’ll be ready to stick the baking tray (like this one) in as soon as you’ve mixed. Give it about 20mins and they should be baked and just need to cool.

For our girls we used the icing decorations – cute little animals in a variety of bright colours. As you might expect, Waitrose haven’t added any additives to these icing decorations that are also suitable for vegetarians. There’s eight of the little chaps in a packet. For our coffee cakes we plonked a single coffee-flavoured chocolate bean on top of the butter cream icing. Again, the chocolate beans don’t contain any nasties, in fact they are 96% chocolate.

Here’s a gallery below of the fab, quick and easy cakes. And many thanks to Waitrose for sending us the baking products. You can see their complete Homebaking range right here. As we’ve now got a bottle of peppermint extract we might have a bash at making some peppermint creams next!

Middleton’s cake company not rising yet

treasure chest cakeThe cake company run by James Middleton, the brother of the Duchess of Cambridge, is not yet fully-baked and the founder has turned to his family for financial support reports suggest.

James Middleton, who has founded the Nice Cakes company, has accepted financial support from his family as he continues to develop his personalised cake company. Middleton is also behind another cake company called The Cake Kit Company that sells products via his parent’s party supplies company. It’s certainly a family affair!

To be fair to Middleton, the Nice Cakes website does indicate that the business is in its early stages. If the personalised greeting card business is anything to go by, personalised and photo cakes could yet prove to be a good market to be in?

What’s the difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie?

cottage pieSo what’s the difference between the two classic dishes cottage pie and shepherd’s pie?

The answer is simple – the meat inside them is the decisive factor. Cottage pie (pictured – source: BBC Good Food) is made with minced beef and shepherd’s pie is made with minced lamb. Both pies – they’re actually not pies in the traditional sense as there’s no pastry – are typically topped with mashed potato and baked in the oven. Other ingredients can include onion, carrot, tomato, celery and garlic. You can top with cheese if you prefer or add a dash of curry powder, chillies or balsamic vinegar to spice things up a little. A spring of herbs on top of the mash can look and taste good too. We have cottage pie with gravy and it’s a fabulous dish!

Both are great, family-favourite dishes and freeze well. Ideal as a winter warmer meal …so with all this snowy weather you should be making one. Here’s a recipe for cottage pie from the BBC Good Food team.

Historically these dishes were made from the leftovers of a Sunday roast dinner. There’s also a suggestion that cottage pie was made from the slaughtered dairy cow that farmers kept for milk.

An easy way to remember which pie is made from which meat is to call it sheeperd’s pie!

What’s your favourite of the two?

Waitrose leaves Delia Smith on the shelf

Delia SmithUpmarket supermarket Waitrose announced this week that is it to end it’s marketing relationship with Delia Smith.

Known to millions of us as just Delia (pictured on the cover of one of her earliest cookery books), she has fronted several press and TV advertising campaigns for Waitrose since March 2010. While her contract with Waitrose ends next month, her celebrity chef sidekick in the adverts, Heston Blumenthal, is being retained.

Commenting upon the tie-up with Delia, Rupert Thomas, Waitrose Marketing Director said: “It has been such a fantastic experience working together and we have been really appreciative of the work Delia has done with Waitrose. We remain on very good terms and will be continuing to work closely with her until the end of February.”

I wonder if the marketing exec’s for Waitrose feel that Delia doesn’t relate to younger home cooks? While perhaps she doesn’t have the street cred of say Blumenthal, the passion of Gordon Ramsay or the seemingly global appeal of Jamie Oliver, her no-nonsense and easy-to-follow recipes must still have a place in most kitchens.

We’ve got an update version of the book pictured, though it’s still about 15 or so years old, and we still use on a regular basis. The birthday cake that I made last month is based on Delia sponge recipe and it is really easy to do. On Christmas Day her book was in use again …the timings for cooking the turkey! I can’t see ditching Delia any time soon to be honest.

How about you …do you think Delia deserves to be left on the shelf? Have your say in the comments below.

The Snowman and The Snowdog music

snowman and snowdogA quick non-cooking item of news for you all.

If you wondered who wrote the music score for tonight’s The Snowman and The Snowdog animation then I can tell you is was British composer Ilan Eshkeri and the singer/songwriter Andy Burrows. You can find out more about their collaboration right here at imediamonkey.com

We watched the animation as a family and we all enjoyed it but there’s a part of me that wishes that they hadn’t made a ‘sequel’. My wife suggested that the music sounded a similar to Cold Play. How about you?

Merry Christmas!

An easy-to-bake birthday cake

I’m no master baker and I certainly wouldn’t be selected to appear in the Great British Bake Off …but I can bake a birthday cake and you can too!

I baked a cake earlier this week for a family birthday and in order to share the process with you, I took some photos along the way. I’ve used a take on the simple all-in-one sponge recipe that Delia Smith devised – you can see that recipe right here. I covered my cake in rolled fondant icing but you can simply dust with icing sugar to make things super-easy.

Apron on, cup of tea made, hands-washed? Let’s bake…

Step One

Two things you need to check before you get started. Firstly, make sure you’ve got all the ingredients, at least for the sponge. For the butter cream, jam and icing you can go out and buy those later but you do need your sponge ingredients. Let the eggs and butter stand at room temperature for a 30mins or so as they’ll be easier to mix then. Secondly, make sure that you’ll be around when the cake needs to come out of the oven (it bakes for about 30mins).

Step Two

Pre-heat your oven. You want your oven to be at the right temperature (170c) when the sponge goes in, so before you get started whack your oven on. I stuck mine on at 200c and I remembered to turn it down to 170c once it had reached temperature.

Step Three

cake tins linedLine your cake tins firstly with a light coating of butter, followed by grease-proof paper (also greased with butter). Cut two circles of grease-proof paper to cover the bases of your 7inch tins …mine went up over the sides as I used a three-egg mixture and I didn’t want it to spill over the side.

Get some butter on a folded sheet of kitchen roll and rub it over the grease-proof.

Do this and your sponges will  come out of the tin easily when baked.

Step Four

cooking margarineGet out and weigh out your ingredients for the sponge mixture.

If you weigh out the non-sticky stuff first and leave the butter/cooking margarine until last it’s easier to pour the flour and sugar into your large mixing bowl. If you want to avoid washing your scales, put the butter onto a sheet of kitchen roll.

Make sure that you’re scales are set to zero before you start weighing things out. I know from experience that if you don’t do this you’ll end up using the wrong amounts of ingredients and you resultant cake will not taste nice!

Use a sieve when you pour the self-raising flour and baking powder into the mixing bowl to sift and make it nice and airy.

Step Five

cake mixingSo you’ve got the eggs, flour, baking powder, butter and sugar in your mixing bowl. Now use you electric hand mixer and thoroughly mix.

You know when it’s ready when using a wooden spoon, get some mixture and bang your spoon on the side of the bowl …if it falls off easily then it’s ready. If it’s too thick add a teaspoon splash of tap water and mix in.

Lick the spoon if you fancy, but remember it’s not cooked yet so if you’re not keen on raw egg then maybe not.

Step Six

cake mix in tinPour the cake mixture into your two cake tins.

Use your wooden spoon or a spatula and share out the mixture.

It’s not an exact science, just go on what looks like half each and level it out.

Don’t waste your mixture, scrape out your mixing bowl with the spoon or spatula.

Spread the mixture evenly in each cake tin, trying not to get it all over the grease-proof if you’ve got it like I have (pictured).

Step Seven

cakes in ovenPlonk them in the oven on the middle shelf. Make sure your oven is at 170c and make a note of the time the cake tins went in. They’ll bake for about 30mins. Don’t keep opening the oven door until you think they’re ready.

When they look ready (they’ll be a light golden colour) to make sure you can stick a cocktail stick in the sponge and if it comes out clean then they’re done.

Step Eight

peel grease-proofTake your tins out of the oven (using a tea towel or oven gloves) and leave them for just 30 seconds. You’re now ready to carefully take the sponges out of the tins.

Have your cooling rack ready.

You might need to run a spatula around the edges of the sponges to loosen them a bit. Because my grease-proof went up the sides I didn’t need to do that.  Put the sponges upside down on the cooling rack and they should pretty easily come out of the cake tins. Carefully and slowly pull the grease-proof off. I managed to break a little bit of sponge off the edge of one of mine …taste test opportunity! Now let them cool while you do the washing up.

Step Nine

buttercreamYou’ll want some jam for the middle. I chose strawberry but use what you fancy …raspberry or apricot maybe. You’ll also need to make some butter cream too. How much buttercream is your call really. I didn’t want too much in the middle but I needed some to spread over my cake to stick the icing to (see step eleven below). Use about 4 or 5oz of butter and about 8 or 10oz of icing sugar and mix with a fork or a spoon, fork’s probably better even though I used a spoon. Use room temperature butter and sift your icing sugar (or just forget to do that like I did).

Start by mixing in half the icing sugar. When that’s mixed add the rest. Add a tiny dash of milk if it’s too thick – you want it nice and smooth. Have a taste and add more icing sugar if you want to.

Step Ten

spreading buttercreamDSC03080Spread a layer of jam on the inside of one of the two sponges using a knife or a spatula. Spread your buttercream on the other sponge and simply plonk one sponge on top of the other.

You’ll have something that pretty much looks like a cake !

In fact you’ve just made a Victoria Sandwich cake …how ace is that 🙂

 

 

 

Step Eleven

buttercream cakeNow you can ice your cake. You can simply dust it with icing sugar by putting some icing sugar in a sieve and gently tap the sieve over the cake …you don’t need much at all. However, you might want to go the extra mile and use some fondant icing.

To make the icing stick to the sponge either spread some apricot jam or buttercream over the sponge. I made extra buttercream and simply spread a thin layer of it over my cake.

 

Step Twelve

fondant icingClean and dry your work surface and dust with a little icing sugar (not flour!). Get your fondant icing and knead it to loosen it up – it works better if it’s at room temperature. Dust your rolling pin and roll out a big enough circle of icing to cover the top and side of your cake. When rolled, carefully lift it and place it centrally on top of your cake. Do your best to smooth it gently around your cake and just cut off excess icing with a knife. Some of my edging wasn’t great but I simply hid that with some ribbon pinned to the cake.

Add a cake topper such as Happy Birthday, stand back and say “I made that!”.

 

Step Thirteen

buttercream cakeGive your cake lovingly to the person intended. When complimented just say “oh, it was nothing, it didn’t really take me that long actually”.

Big slice.

Enjoy!

Recipe for all-in-one sponge cake

Recipe for all-in-one sponge cake

Author: Delia Smith
Ingredients
  • 4 oz self-raising flour
  • 4 oz margarine or butter (at room temp)
  • 4 oz caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • To make bigger sponges multiply quantities by 1.5
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 170c
  2. Grease, line and then grease two 7 inch sponge tins
  3. Sift flour and baking powder into large mixing bowl
  4. Add remaining ingredients
  5. Mix thoroughly
  6. Share mixture between two tins
  7. Bake for about 30mins
  8. Leave for just 30seconds, then remove from tins
  9. Carefully peel off greaseproof
  10. Allow to fully cool
  11. Add filling
  12. See Delia Smith for more info.

 

Is your toilet seat cleaner than your chopping board?

chopping boardAsk anyone if they’d consider chopping food on a toilet seat and they’re bound to say no. They’ll most likely say that’s unhygienic and that they would obviously prepare food on a chopping board. But they could well be wrong!

In a recent study of how bacteria spreads within the environment, scientists discovered that toilet seats are one of the cleanest things you’ll encounter in your day-to-day life. Dr Chuck Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona comments: “It’s one of the cleanest things you’ll run across in terms of micro-organisms. It’s our gold standard – there are not many things cleaner than a toilet seat when it comes to germs.”

It transpires that one of the dirtiest households items is the chopping board; usually there are about 200 times more faecal bacteria on the average cutting board than on a toilet seat, the scientists claim. Dish clothes and sponges are even worse, with about 10 million bacteria per square inch on a sponge, and a million on a dishcloth. Professor of virology John Oxford at the University of London and chair of the Hygiene Council concurs: “always the dirtiest thing by far is the kitchen sponge”.

Other everyday items that are well known for harbouring germs include:

  • kitchen fridge
  • bathroom seals
  • kitchen towels
  • telephones
  • shopping trolleys
  • bags for life

Apparently there can be more faecal material in a bag for life than in a pair of underpants …yuk!

And although the winter vomitting bug appears to back with vigour again this year, most of us seem to fend off all these hidden bacteria that are alive and well in products we use every day. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take care when preparing ingredients for your dinner tonight. Always make sure that you wash your hands after handling raw meat, fish and poultry. You should watch how you use your chopping boards – ideally use separate boards for veg, meat etc and ensure that you clean them thoroughly after use. Wash non-wooden chopping boards in your dishwasher where possible and use hot, soapy water for wooden boards, rinse and allow to dry naturally.

If you’ve read this and are now thinking that you’ve had the same board for too long then take a look at our range of quality chopping boards in our store now.