My friend M recently posted on Instagram about some chocolate chip cookies she made. M is a regular baker with high standards so when she raved about them I decided that I better try them myself to check if they lived up to the hype. They did. I did the 24 hour “prove” of the cookies as suggested and I think it made a difference to the outcome. So if you need these cookies for a specific day make sure to start them off at least the day before.Read more…
When I was a child growing up my mum always made our birthday cakes. She’s extremely creative and they were really elaborate affairs. There were trains, tractors, princesses, umbrellas, monsters… my brother even had one based on the band U2. I am nowhere near as skilled or patient as my mum is but I really wanted to make Little O’s birthday cake. With some help from Pinterest and a recipe from my mum that I adapted, I think I pulled off something passable that pretty much anyone with a couple of hours of spare time could manage. The sponge cake method used here is an oldie but a goodie and makes a really light fluffy cake.
Being back at work means a willing audience to try out my baking on. I didn’t do much baking on maternity leave because it’s quite challenging with a little person constantly needing your attention but also because Mr O is not particularly interested in sweet things and with nowhere to take what I have created, I end up eating far too much of it myself… or ending up chucking bits away once they’ve passed their prime. As Easter is around the corner I decided to to some themed baking for my colleagues.
Growing up in South Africa, you wouldn’t think we were very good at wintery food. However in Johannesburg, where I grew up, while the winter days are sunny and warm by Northern European standards, the temperature drops dramatically at night and it can get very chilly. One of my favourite wintery things that my mum used to make was warm baked puddings, always served with lashings of cold custard, which Mr O finds bizarre.
When our friend N (who is also South Afircan), visited a couple of weekends ago I decided to make a classic baked pudding to warm our cockles and he confirmed that cold custard was definitely the way to go. It must be a South African thing.
This pudding is named after some chap called Jan Ellis. I have no idea who he is but it has a subtle spicy, slightly orangey flavour and it took me right back to my childhood.
About a week ago when I was in Tesco buying essentials (nappies, bread, milk), I also came across a packet of salted caramel pretzel tiffin squares. These, of course, also counted as essential so I brought them home for Mr O and I to enjoy and they were glorious. I decided to make a sort of attempt to recreate them and although my version doesn’t have a caramel element they’re still pretty tasty… and very easy.
Since Little O was born I have had a lot less time to bake. It can be tricky enough to put up essential meals without finding the time for any extra bits. However recently he’s a lot more able to play on his own for periods of time or under Mr O’s supervision so when the urge struck me on Sunday I decided to go for it. I picked this recipe because Mr O particularly likes raspberries and coconut and he’s been raving about them ever since.
Over the weekend Mr O and I invited around his best friend, Mr H, Mr H’s brother and their wives and kids to join us for a BBQ in our garden. I asked Mr O what I should make for a dessert and he said key lime pie. I have never made key lime pie and he’s never eaten it but he liked the sound of it so I took to my recipes and found one to make. It turned out to be a great success and even though we had ice lollies for the kids they all wanted to get in on the pie! If you get the chance to make this it’s packed with zesty lime flavours that are lovely and refreshing. It is worth mentioning though that there is a lot of cooling and refrigeration time so if you are going to make this you need to start relatively early the day before you want to eat it.
In a few weeks the team of developers I have been working with for the past six months will move onto a new project and a new Product Owner, which means they will no longer be my crew. I am really sad about this since I have had so much fun working with them. I think they’re quite sad too… mostly because the endless supply of my baking experiments is coming to an end. With this in mind I wasn’t surprised that the last time I asked them to add something to a piece of work they asked me what I was going to make them. These were my latest piece of bribery.
Creme Eggs are one of my favourite things about Easter. I mean it’s probably overkill that they’re already in the shops in January considering that Easter is like the last weekend of March but I’m not exactly complaining. If these sweet, gooey treats weren’t enough on their own, it’s become a little bit of a trend to combine them with other things… just to bring the heart attack that much closer… like brownies and OMG these are literally crack like. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Around this time of year tins of Celebrations start to appear around offices all over Britain. For the uninitiated Celebrations combine together mini versions of popular chocolate bars as little candies into a giant tin and once you open it to have to keep eating them until you have a pile of wrappers and you feel sick. It’s a festive tradition. Everyone has their favourite. In my office no one ever wants the Bounty ones, which works out great for me because they’re both Mr O and my favourites so they’re the first to disappear in our house. Bounties have a sweet coconut centres and are covered in either milk or dark chocolate and they are delicious. These cookies come from the ever awesome Jane’s Patisserie under a slightly different moniker but they tasted so much like Bounties to me that I have renamed them Bounty cookies. So if like me, you love the combination of chocolate and coconut I would highly recommend these.
As much as I love experimenting with flavours, sometimes the most classic things are the best and there really is something very special about a simple vanilla cupcake. Of course when you go classic and simple it is essential to get things just right so finding a good recipe that not only gives you a light and delicious cake but is also really easy is essential. Recently I have been closely following (and drooling) over the posts on Jane’s Patisserie so decided to give her vanilla cupcakes a go. Mine were nowhere near as pretty as hers but the flavour and texture were amazing. Thank you, Jane!
As I think I have mentioned, I started a new job last week although I had been doing parts of the new role for a couple of weeks before I officially started. As a Product Owner, which is what they call me now, I work with a team of developers who undertake the work for the project I am developing. It’s a very collaborate type of working and part of what I have to do is ensure that they buy into what I want to do and actually want to commit to the work. We do loads of sessions called “backlogs” where we look at all the things we have to build and make sure that everyone is on the same page. Backlogs are very interesting but they can be really intense so to keeps things flowing along to and to show my team how much I appreciate them I have started bringing home baked treats including these spicy cookies that have become known as “backlog biscuits”. I must pre-warn you that they are rather moreish so if you’re keeping your eye on your diet like I am it can be hard to stop after just one!