Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Birthday Cake

After making the Rainbow cake for my daughter she  returned the favour and made me a birthday cake too. It was a great cake lovely and fruity and not too sweet. Here a piccy for you, if you you'd like to make your own look at her blog. Its a great blog lots of interesting stuff there so give it a gander.

Looks good don't you think

Friday, 24 August 2012

Happy Birthday to me

Well maybe my birthday tomorrow but cause I have a wonderful hubby I got my present today. Its what I'm typing this post on right now. Its a lovely new Toshiba lap top. Its so beautiful and shinny and new, bit scary but I'll get use to it. This should now mean unhindered blogging, no need to wait for the computer to become free I have my own, it's just fabulous. See I'm easily pleased.        

Thursday, 23 August 2012


Yesterday I began my seasonal jam and pickle making. I just love making my own preserves it  must be my nesting instincts coming out, but I do find it so rewarding all those lovely jars full of goodies to take you through the winter. Gosh that sounds so corny but so true. Ha, ha, ha.

 So far I have made plum, apricot  and greengage jams but still have damson and blackberry jams to make  plus when the tomatoes finally finish growing. I'm afraid the old tomatoes have been a little late this year. Cucumbers now those I've got loads of them so many I shall have to start giving them away. 

One of my champ cucumbers

Any way for all those of you out there who love jam why not try making your own it really isn't that hard. Its really just a matter of fruit and sugar plus a lot of heat. If you want to give it a whirl here is my recipe for plum jam. Please note you can substitute any fruit for the plums just look out what is on offer or pick your own. But just you  have to remember some fruits have more pectic than others. 

Pectin for those of you do not know is what makes the fruit set. Fruit like oranges, lemons, grapefruit, apples, gooseberry, loganberries and cranberries  have high levels of pectin. Whereas, strawberries, blackberries,figs,peaches pears and plums have low levels of pectin. If you have a fruit with low levels of pectin you can buy pectin from the  supermarket in liquid or powder form. This pectin additive is normally derived from apples and therefore natural and organic to use.

Anyway if you want to give it a go here's the recipe 


2kgs Plums washed and stoned
125ml lemon juice 
1 litre water
2lgs jam sugar
plus pectin ( one sachet or liquid Certo)


Clean and chop plums place in heavy based saucepan and add water and bring slowly to the boil. Cook at a simmer plums until soft. This will take about 50minutes depending on the fruit.

I always think that it looks very unpromising to begin with looks as if it will never set
Place clean washed jars into an oven set at a low heat. This will ensure when you pour hot jam into jars they will not break.
Add lemon juice and sugar. If you use powdered pectin add it with sugar. For liquid pectin follow instructions on bottle.

Gradually heat until sugar has dissolved then bring to the boil and keep at biol for 20 minutes. Then test for setting. You will find the setting point is reached by placing  a spoonful of jam on a cold plate or saucer and then using your finger see if the surface wrinkles up when you drag it through jam. If this does not happen cook for longer.

I have also found, since I make a lot of jams, a sugar thermometer is useful as it is marked with a jam setting temperature. 

Once the setting point is reached you can then remove any scum from the top  surface and then having stirred mixture  decant jams into  warmed jars. Seal jars and for 2 minutes turn jars upside down allowing fruit to settle. 
Yum yum plum jam

Then once cooled label jars and store in cool cupboard . Note jams will keep for 6-12months. When opened its best to store in the fridge.

I think jams and preserves make great gifts at Christmas.I always try to make extra jars.To make them a little fancier I  cut out fabric covers for the tops and put on fancy labels and box or basket them up with other goodies such as home made truffles. I must say they are always very well received and in the years when Ive not had time to make them up they have been missed.              

 Having also tasted some of the jam Ive got to say its really fruity this year  

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Whilst I wasn't blogging

As you know I haven't been blogging due to technical problems of late but now am back into the swing I thought I'd share some of the things I got up to. As you already know we went off to Norfolk for two weeks and  I had a go at making I rainbow cake for Bryony 

However, as well as the above Bryony and I  also went up to London. We went initially to see the Fashion exhibition at the V and A but we also thought whilst we were at it we would also try to soak up a little of the Olympic experience.

The V & A was great, the costumes  were lovely  and we also got to see the Heatherwick designer exhibit which included the Olympic cauldron designs. After leaving the V & A we decided to give Harrods a brief look and then strolled down to the BT live show in Hyde Park. Boy what a fabulous atmosphere . I must say London was at its best over the Olympic period. I am just sad that we couldn't get tickets for any of the events themselves.

We saw Beth Tweddle (a sadly unsung hero of British Sport I think) get her Bronze medal then much to our surprise a message came up on screen that the Cycling pursuit team would be appearing live on stage with their medals. It was great to see a medal close up and bask a little in the obvious reflected pride the athletes had in their achievements . 

Three of the four cycling medalists
I am hoping the  Para Olympics will be just as good I have no doubt though they will be. Come on Team GB.         

Monday, 20 August 2012

Over the rainbow

Bryony had seen a rainbow cake in some shop window or magazine a while ago and had not stopped talking about it. It was fabulous she said and just what she wanted for her 20th Birthday cake this year. Well, I thought it didn't look too hard to do so why not. Foolishly therefore I agreed to take on the job. It was however much harder than I thought particularly when I ended up having to make the cake at my mums house.  My mother has never liked cooking so I found I had no weighing scales no baking tins hopeless colouring stuffs and an oven I was not only unfamiliar with but, which I discovered baked unevenly.

Despite these problems I did manage to create a cake though not exactly a rainbow I think it turned out pretty darn good. If you want to give it a try here's what you'll need

Bryony with candles blazing
525g Unsalted Butter
525 g Caster sugar
9 Eggs

3tsp Vanilla extract
525g Self raising flour
3tsp Baking powder
3tbsp Apricot jam
Food colouring rainbow colours

1Pkt Philadelphia Cheese
1kg Icing sugar

This mixture will make up all seven layers of the cake. If it is easier you can divide the mixture so you can make up 4 layers of the cake from each half of the mixture. Yes you may have noticed you get a spare layer you can eat at you leisure a sort of taster. Dividing the mixture in this way enables you to have sufficient oven space and you can reuse your tins.


Preheat oven to 180oC 3500F Gas mark 4.
Cream butter and sugar together until butter has gone pale.

Add eggs and vanilla extract.

Whisk mixture thoroughly then add flour and baking powder.

Add food colouring I recommend the gell colourings you rather than the old fashioned colouring liquids you can get from supermarkets. The gells give an intensity of colour you simply cannot get from the other food dyes. I used a mix of food dyes and found for example colours blue and green were very tricky, using the old fashioned food dyes. Indeed, once cooked both appeared to have changed in colour, the blue went greyish and the green very yellow.
Divide evenly into tins and cook for 20minutes.
Once cooked cool on a wire tray

Allow to cool then sandwich layers together in order of the colours of the rainbow. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue Indigo, Violet.

Please note due to changes in colour of cakes whilst cooking I did not get the full rainbow effect though I think the end result is still most effective.

Once the layers were assembled I covered the whole cake in the icing and then decorated the cake.

The finished cake with decoration
Showing the cross section


I think the finished result is fab even if not quite as initially intended. I hope you all like it and give it a try. I am now thinking what else I could do.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Hi I'm back

Well finally I'm back. Its just been too long, but none of really my fault. First I did have a break away, in not so sunny Norfolk as it turned out. But sadly whilst we were away the computer decided it had had enough and simply would not turn on again ..........nothing not as much as a flickering screen or a buzz or two. 

The computer guys gave it the once over and said sorry but its a new computer you need. As when buying anything new this takes time as my hubby is obliged to do research. No its a good thing but he always takes so long and the days kept passing. Finally as you can now see we have the new computer up and running and blogging will recommence shortly.