Monday, 22 July 2013

That Nesting bake

I seriously have not had an urge to "nest" over the last month...I mean sure everything is ready and washed and now just waiting...but I wasn't on my hands and knees cleaning the grout in the shower (that's what husbands are for).  The only strong urges I have had, recently, is to bake.  Last week I was hoping and praying that the muffins I whipped up would be the the final bake until the wee bairn arrived...but...nope.  I am now 6 days overdue and NEED baked goods in the house.  

To remedy both  my urge to bake, and my desire for homemade baked goods I decided to do something  a little bit crazy over the weekend...I made croissants...from scratch...with my own fair hands.

During one of my many hours watching Food Network over the past weeks Anna Olson dedicated a whole episode of her Bake programme to making croissants.  Having watched her make them step by step gave me the courage to actually make them at home!

I'm not sure why I have shied away from making croissants before (especially with my love for anything yeasty).  I mean legit patissiers must leave their dough to rest and proof for ages, something that might be a bit tedious for the home baker...but the recipe I followed gave the option to leave the dough to rise anywhere from 1-8 hours.

I started my dough around 6pm on Saturday and decided to leave it to rest for an hour between folds, leaving it overnight in the fridge for the final rest...before shaping it, leaving it to rest again, and then finally baking! 

I was really happy with the outcome.  I halved the recipe (although I could have easily devoured the 30 croissants the original recipe promised) so I'm not sure if my tinkering did anything to the quality of the dough.  They didn't rise as much as I would have liked, and probably could have done with a couple more minutes to really crisp up...but they are seriously buttery, flaky and delicious.  

As I type this the news is reporting that the Royal Baby is on its way...I'm a little bit jealous...but at least I've got croissants! 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Over Due

I've been at a total loss for things to do the past few days...there are two things that I want to do, Bake and Have the Baby.  I really only have control over one of those things... 

Yesterday was D-Day, and seeing as I woke up feeling no different from the night before I decided to make the most of my "free" time and whipped up a batch of Banana Hazelnut Muffins.  Using my Quick Muffin Recipe I tossed in 2 mashed bananas with the wet ingredients and about 1/3 of a cup of chopped hazelnuts.  I also sprinkled some Demerara Sugar over the tops before baking...which crisped up nicely and then promptly melted in the heat of the kitchen.

I was going to freeze some of them to snack on once the baby arrives, but at this point I am far to greedy and, really, they are so easy that I'm sure I can squeeze a batch in at some point between feeding, changing, playing, napping, cleaning (she says naively).  

Monday, 15 July 2013

Vegetable Cream Cheese

I've not been venturing far from the house these past couple of weeks.  Between the heat and my looming D-Day I haven't had the energy or the desire to do much of anything.  I've been watching a lot of The Food Network and slowly making my way though the entire Poirot discography...resulting in many a craving for pastries, art deco tea parties and frantically adjusting the symmetry in my living room. I don't have the energy to make eclairs or croissants...even though I'd happily sit down and stuff my face full of them, weep.  

On Friday (or was it Saturday?) The Barefoot Contessa whipped up a quick brunch for her and her you do...and I immediately started craving bagels and cream cheese.  Back in Canada, in my teens and twenties I used to love a trip to the bagel store to get fresh bagels and really thick and slightly tart cream cheese...siiigh 

Anyway, Ina made her publisher bagels with vegetable cream cheese and smoked salmon (drooool) and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it for...well...a day!  Luckily bagels and cream cheese were to hand (a pregnancy staple of mine) and with a little fine chopping I was well on my way to satisfying my craving.  

I mixed together half a container of plain soft cream cheese with a finely chopped small carrot, some spring onion, finely chopped cucumber, a handful of chopped coriander and salt and pepper.  Slathered very generously on toasted multi-grain bagels...this was HEAVEN.  

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Coffee Cake...quick, easy and oh so good

I love coffee know a single sponge layer covered with fruit and a streusel topping...but it isn't easy to find one here in the UK.  Thankfully, they are quick and easy to make and perfect for this *heatwave*. 

I rustled up a blueberry coffee cake this morning in less than 10 mins...although the baking took a while longer than I thought it would have (stupid oven...stupid seal...stupid stupid).  But in the end out it came just in time for a cup of coffee (decaff) with a friend from work.

The recipe is from my trusted Canadian Basics Cookbook.  I swapped out the vanilla for almond extract today (almonds and blueberries go so well together) and added a sprinkle of slivered almonds on top of the streusel for a little bit of crunch.  

There is a good chance this will the last cake I bake for a while, what with D-Day looming (one week) I am glad that it was a good one! 

Saturday, 6 July 2013

BB salad

If you happen upon the July issue of Olive Magazine look up the recipe for Broad Bean and Barley Salad.  I made it for a pot luck dinner I went to last week and it was a big hit.  Broad beans, barley, goats cheese, radishes, mint and a lemony was perfection.