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THE WORLD’S MOST DISTRESSING GINGERBREAD MEN

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This week, we’re very excited to have Stuart Heritage (of Luv & Hat fame) as our guest blogger; especially as he is now a proper foodie with his own food blog and everything. Personally, we think that trumps the small fact that he writes for The Guardian.

So without further ado, I’ll hand you over to the very capable creator of the world’s most distressing gingerbread men…

If one thing characterised the summer of 2012, it was the gingerbread man. To mark the Queen’s jubilee, Sainsbury’s launched Mr & Mrs Jubilee – a pair of upsettingly malformed, boggle-eyed, jizzy-looking gingerbread arseholes. Then, for the Olympics, Sainsbury’s launched Mr & Mrs Sport – the same malformed, boggle-eyed, jizzy-looking gingerbread arseholes as before, but wearing medals. They made me proud to be British.

So, to continue the golden spirit of the summer, I decided to make my own gingerbread men. And because I made them, they’d obviously be much better than anything those supermarket dicks could come up with. Right?

HOW TO MAKE GINGERBREAD MEN

STEP ONE – Combine a load of gingerbread ingredients (like these) in a bowl. Decide that you don’t actually want to make 20 gingerbread men, so half all the quantities. End up putting way too much of some stuff and way too little of other stuff in because maths has never been your strong point. Dump it all onto some clingfilm.

STEP TWO – Roll the dough out until it’s the same thickness as a pound coin. Put in the fridge and plan to leave for two hours. Get bored after ten minutes and remove from the fridge.

STEP THREE – Realise that you don’t actually own a gingerbread man cutter. Attempt to cut the shape of a gingerbread man out of the dough with a knife. Fail hopelessly because you messed up the quantities of the ingredients and the dough’s still warm. This wouldn’t have happened if you’d just followed the instructions. But oh no, you think you’re better than that, don’t you?

STEP FOUR – Instead, just kind of hamfistedly fling a load of gingerbread men together limb by limb like some sort of awful surgeon who wasn’t hugged enough as a child or whatever. Do your best to ignore the fact that they look like little shiny poos because you’ll have to eat them soon. Bake at 180 C for ten minutes.

STEP FIVE – Forget that the gingerbread men will spread out in the oven. Stare at your wodge of mangled gingerbread for a couple of minutes, realise that you shouldn’t have taken the piss out of Sainsbury’s as much as you did because gingerbread men are actually quite hard. Briefly toy with the idea of inventing the gingerbread human centipede. Remember that you’re writing this as a guest post and that you should be on your best behaviour. Cut them apart with a knife.

STEP SIX – After spending about 20 minutes working out where the head is, ice sad faces on your pathetic mangled gingerbread stumps, and give them Smarties for buttons. Even though they don’t have hands. Or any discernible limbs to speak of. Maybe they’ve got a helper who does their buttons up or something. Look, shut up.

STEP SEVEN – Repeat for as many gingerbread men as you’ve made.

STEP EIGHT – Apologise to the readers of Kitchen Bitching, who are probably used to a better standard of cook than you, you jumped-up bimbo.

Swizzels Matlow’s sugary spooktacular

As a self-confessed sugar addict, it probably came as no surprise to Carrie (Queen Bitch) that I promptly volunteered myself (before she had time to elect anybody else) to sample the latest offering from British confectionery giant Swizzels Matlow Ltd. With Halloween looming darkly around the corner, they’ve brought out a whole host of spooky themed sweets to delight trick or treaters — and I wasn’t about to miss out!

So when this lot arrived in the post, I felt suitably smug in snapping them up.

(They don’t come complete with spooky tree background – sorry)

Along with Swizzels Matlow’s trademark Love Hearts, Drumsticks, Fizzers, New Refreshers and Fruity Pops, there was also a big bag (and a huge tub) of Halloween themed treats that would be perfect for a party — including Trick or Treat Lolly Mix, Monster Treats and Spooky Treat or Trick Mix. The Mega Drumsticks have also undergone a Halloween makeover with black and orange wrappers, while Double Dips have transformed by moonlight into Spooky Dips, with a blackcurrant flavour that leaves your tongue black. Frightful!

The creepy packaging makes Swizzels Matlow’s latest range perfect for Halloween, so I’d thoroughly recommend stocking up on them now before the supermarkets sell out in anticipation of Wednesday night’s scarefest.

But because I couldn’t wait that long, I decided to whip up some gory jam-filled cupcakes (it’s supposed to look like blood, ok?)

Messy, but oh-so-tasty

Then painstakingly arrange them on a three-tiered cake stand, complete with spooky sweet decoration — which is not as easy as it sounds when the lollies won’t stand up!

Ok it’s wonky, but my hands were shaking from all the sugar!

In the end, I settled for shoving them into the cakes, quickly photographing, then moving on to the business in hand…

Washing them down with a nice cuppa, in my truly spooktacular skull mug (courtesy of Denise O’ Sullivan).

That’s also a skull tee – see the effort I made?

Happy Halloween.

Love Dolly xx

On the joys of baking bread!

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Guest post from Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes.

Many people seem absolutely terrified of the thought of baking their own bread, “I couldn’t possibly do that, it’s far too complicated”, or “But bread makers are so expensive so what’s the point?”

Two years ago, I felt the same way. The idea of baking my own bread came about during a chat with a friend who said his housemate had started baking his own bread and it cost about 20p a loaf. I was intrigued by this idea, especially as money was a little tight at the time (the joys of being an eternal student).

Shortly after this bread conversation I found book all about bread for only £5 in my local WH Smith’s. After a quick perusal in the shop I bought it and resolved to make a basic loaf, by hand. After having watched some bread being made during the first season of The Great British Bake Off I realised that I had two functional hands, so I might as well use them.

Bread, glorious bread

My first attempt was a cottage loaf. The dough rose nicely and I thought I had made it into the right shape. Sadly, after the second rise it had spread and looked messy and rather flat but I baked it anyway. The resulting loaf was OK, slightly under baked, but I just ate round those bits.

My second attempt was a loaf in a loaf tin. This turned out much better, so I progressed into making bread rolls. I was still using the same basic recipe for white bread and after a couple of weeks I started adding in wholemeal flour and suddenly I was completely converted to homemade bread.

My favourite standby bread recipe uses equal amounts of white and wholemeal flour. More recently I’ve been enjoying baking breads with different flavours using vegetables, herbs, spices and dried fruit, although not all together! I now bake bread twice a week — a sweet loaf with dried fruit for breakfast and a plain or savoury loaf flavoured with herbs or spices for lunches. I usually try and bake both on the same day so I only have to have the oven once — economising on fuel is always a good thing!

Nothing like kneading a good bread dough

A few tips based on things I’ve learned over the past couple of years of baking bread:

  • The amount of water in a recipe should be used as a guideline. If the dough looks dry add more water a splash at a time until the dough feels pliable but not excessively sticky. Different flours absorb different amounts of water — wholemeal is particularly thirsty, and flour can even vary between packets from the same brand.
  • Treat proving times as a guideline, as these will depend on the temperature of your kitchen and if there are any extra ingredients in the dough. Enriched doughs i.e. those containing milk, butter and eggs always take longer to rise. My first ever batch of hot cross buns this year took 3 hours! The type of water you have can also make a difference. I recently found out after moving from a soft water region to a hard water region that dough takes longer to rise if hard water is used. Always allow the dough to double in bulk before the next stage otherwise you’ll end up with something horrible that you don’t want to eat.
  • If you really want homemade bread but are short on time, make soda bread. There’s no kneading or yeast involved and it can be baked, sliced and on your plate within 45 minutes.
  • Remember that yeast is a living organism so give it the love and respect it needs. If your yeast needs to be reactivated (some dry types do) make sure you follow the instructions carefully or it just won’t work. Don’t kill your yeast by using boiling water — water should be at body temperature so when you stick your finger in the jug it shouldn’t feel hot or cold.
  • Above all, baking bread should be fun and not a chore. Kneading dough is an excellent way to work out some frustration if someone’s annoyed you — just imagine it’s their face you’re mushing up as you knead and you’ll get a good upper body work out at the same time!

Love, Jen

Jen blogs at Blue Kitchen Bakes, where she shares a whole host of utterly delicious recipes — including bread recipes if you’re now feeling inspired! She also tweets funny, lovely and delicious things at @BlueKitchenBake.

Queenie’s Ketogenic Journey Continues … Low-Carb Cheesecake Bites

Howdy chums

So, I’ve been low-carb-ing it for a little while now. Managing to keep just enough carbs in my diet to stave off any major cravings, things are running alright. I have to say it’s the no sugar thing that’s worse. Mashed cauliflower is a mean alternative to potatoes, but there’s not been anything much that has tantalised my tastebuds in the sweets department.

As I am of the unwavering believe that all truths can be found on the internet. I set about a little search for something sweet that wouldn’t send me spiralling into a carbfest. The result? I found a little forum (old-school!) that was for diabetics following the ketogenic diet (sorry, I can’t remember which one, so if I’ve used your recipe and not cited where I got it from I can only apologise!). Here I discovered what I thought to be the answer to all my prayers. A baked cheesecake bite recipe that look simple, easy and delicious.

Well. Actually, it was simple. It was easy. But it most definitely NOT delicious. People all over the diabetic world seemed to be making and devouring these little bites, but mine were … frankly … disgusting.

Here’s the recipe – feel free to try it for yourself. Also feel free to comment below and let me know what exactly it was that I did to end up wasting a tub of cream cheese on these little monstrosities.

Ingredients (makes six):

    • 1 tub of crea mcheese
    • 1/4 cup of sweetener
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
    • sprinkle of cocoa powder
    • 1 egg
Simple ingredients

Simple ingredients

Get cooking!

  • Blend the cream cheese and sweetener with the vanilla essence until smooth.
Canderel ...

Canderel …

  • Add the egg and blend.
Crackin'

Crackin’

Egg-cellent

Egg-cellent

    • Add the cocoa.
Just a sprinkle

Just a sprinkle

    • Pour the mixture into a cupcake tray (you’ll get six bites out of the amounts shown).
    • Bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes.
    • Leave to cool and eat.
Hmmm ....

Hmmm ….

Love, Queenie xx

Disaster has struck! Tapioca Cake no more

I am normally quite confident in the kitchen. Asian deserts, Western deserts, heck whatever you give me, I tend to be able to churn it out. So there I was doing my usual tapioca cake for a brunch thingy the next day. A tried and tested recipe…but this time it just went into the bin.

I used the same ingredients, the same amount of coconut milk and yet I was left flabbergasted at why the cake didn’t bake properly. Granted it normally is quite a shallow cake because there are no rising agents in it, but seriously? It even destroyed my cake pan!

Uh-oh

The banana leaf stuck the bottom of the pan as well as the tapioca cake itself. I’m still wondering to the best of my ability on how in the world did it end up burnt, hard and uncooked in the middle?! Bewildered was what I am. Thankfully I had backed myself up with another kind of Asian delicacy but seriously…

This just goes to show that I shouldn’t be taking Asian deserts lightly. Unlike cupcakes, pastry and all that, Asian deserts take longer to make stemming from the prepping time all the way to baking / frying / toasting / stirring it. Bah…

But once I succeed once more I shall definitely post up the success of it!

Love, Asianfoodstalker x

Asianfoodstalker is the alter-ego of Innovative Baker. She blogs here and tweets here.

The churros don’t work

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Today’s Kitchen Bitch is courtesy of Flour Von Sponge, who has been having a bit of churro related trouble.

“Churros. I can make them BUT why oh why every time I put the warm dough in a piping bag, the bag eventually balloons and split? How else am I supposed to pipe them out? If I wait for the dough to be cold, then the dough becomes too tough and won’t come out of the nozzle. Do I really have to get a reusable nylon piping bag?”

Perfect churros (Image from Wahaca, who make quite frankly AMAZING churros)

So, anyone here got any experience with making churros?

When biscuits turn to brownies

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At the last AWOT event, we met the absolutely wonderful Rachel Scotland. She’s apparently a big fan of Kitchen Bitching (Excuse me, it’s difficult to type whilst my head grows so much….there we go, stopped now) and when we invited her to submit a bitch she was more than happy to oblige.

“Ever since I was fourteen I’ve been trying to impress people with my cooking. Currently this involves inviting people to my home and trying to persuade them that I can ‘make their house a home’ by filing it with the smell of freshly baked bread or warm biscuits. The problem is that boxes of ready-mixed brownies and frozen cookie dough have been my cavalry in the battle to win peoples hearts and one gets bored of the limited variety of easily-fakeable prepackaged baked goods.

Mmmmm brownie!

This week I tried to make Brown Sugar Shortbread from The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook. (I know, I’m a geek. Let’s move on.) The book describes “a sturdy. molasses-y cookie”. You know what I got? I got a spicy-tasting brownie.

The recipe is as follows, and I followed it to the letter:

  • ½ Cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

So why did it go so wrong?

Did the moment when I got distracted and accidentally added flour before eggs really result in such a huge textural difference?”

Can anyone help? Why did this biscuit turn into a brownie?

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