Winner! Best Food and Drink Blog North Award for Aroundtheworldin80bakes

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I still cannot believe it. I was stunned when I found out that Foodie Sarah had nominated me for the Blog North Awards for the best food and drink blog. (Thank you very much Sarah!).  I was ecstatic to discover that I had been shortlisted from 400 other nominated northern blogs down to 5. So I almost hit the floor when I heard my name announced as the winner of the Best Food and Drink Blog at the awards ceremony in Manchester last week!

I had toyed with the idea of going to the awards but thought that I would never in a million years actually win as the other shortlisted blogs are really fantastic.
I really recommend having a read of the wonderful food and drink blogs
Northern Food
Squidbeak
Offally Good
Little Red Courguette

And also the other categories too!

I came to the conclusion that I would go along for the sheer delight and experience of being shortlisted and to visit my friends Josh and Mark too. BEST DECISION EVER.

I merrily jumped in the car straight from work and flew down the motorway, through torrential rain and lightening, in the merry bliss of enjoying an amazing experience, with the car packed full of international baked goods to share with the boys. It wasn’t until I hit the one way system in Manchester that my tummy did a little flip. (I should also note that this is the furthest I’ve ever driven by myself before, ever! )

We were treated to some wonderful readings from other shortlisted bloggers, my favourite being Victory Garden a Hudderfield postie with a very entertaining blog of his observations of northern folk encountered en route. It wasn’t until the second interval that I started to feel a bit nervous….

The brilliant Culture Vulturess , who I’ve been following on twitter for quite some time, announced the winner of the Food and Drink Blog award and I did a little squeak and staggered down the staircase and up on to the stage, to babble my thanks and amazement at winning. I’m not entirely sure what came out of my mouth at this point but I know I thanked everyone, A LOT. And then my legs realised that I was on stage, speaking in public and momentarily refused to work to get me back down the stairs and off the stage. Once I regained the use of my limbs, I trotted off in a happy haze clutching my winners envelope, with a £50 cheque, a year’s web hosting and a winners badge to adorn my blog.

Me, on stage babbling a few words

Wow! Can you tell how OVER THE MOON I am??! It still feels like a dream and I’m still (almost a week later) smiling very widely. Who would have thought a year ago that I would be half way around the world in 80 bakes  and the winner of a Blog North Award?? I could never have dreamed this would happen.

I cannot thank you all enough. Thank you for reading, thank you for voting, thank you encouraging me! Thank you for sampling my sometimes bizarre and experimental cakes!

Thank you for a memorable and inspiring evening. I thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed and intimate event and had the opportunity to listen and chat to some very talented people! I am such a lucky girl.

I came away even more excited to continue blogging and baking and to complete my challenge. Bring on the next 39 bakes!

Just in case you want to know more about the awards you can find more details on the blognorth website here.

Also just in case you would like to see there’s a little article on my blog award on Sky Tyne & Wear website and Chris Evans gave me a little mention this morning on his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show (36 minutes in – thanks Mam!)

37. Moroccan Basboosa (Semolina Slice)

Basboosa Baby

Lauren of Arabia

J’adore Morocco, the heat, the people, the beauty, the adventures into the Sahara and camping out under the stars. The food and desserts are amazing. I ate many a tagine and honey soaked sweets when we visited Marrakesh.

into the desert we go

Food Heaven

Having purchased the worlds largest bag of semolina I needed a recipe to put it to good use. I have vaguely horrific memories of semolina pudding every day for as part of of our school dinners and me disliking it so much I pretended to sneeze into my bowl so I could have it removed. But the dinner nannies soon wised up to my rouse and refused to let me get away with refusing semolina.

Thankfully my taste palette has refined somewhat since I was 6years old. I now even eat peas and broccoli!

Basboosa all lined up and ready to go

Basboosa is a middle Eastern dessert and seems to be from Morocco and Egypt too. It reminds me of Baklava which I love and you may remember me attempting to make from scratch…

Thankfully Basboosa doesn’t involve the shelling of hundreds of pistachios or the creation of millions of layers of paper thin filo pastry! This is one quick bake the I will be definitely repeating in the future!

Sugar and water to bubble into a syrup

I began with the syrup. Unfortunately I didn’t have an orange flower water so I ad libbed and utilised the lemon and orange extracts I have in my cupboard. I think rose water would work just as well too.

The key to this bake is sugar. And LOTS of it. The syrup requires a lot of simmering to reduce it to about 2 cups worth but it still seemed very watery to me. I put faith in my Marks and Spencer recipe and hoped for the best.

1 KG of semolina!!!

While the pan bubbled merrily on the stove I measured out 1kilogram (yes 1 KG!) of ground semolina! (I checked about 4 times that I had read this right as it seems like a massive amount and just about fitted into my biggest mixing bowl!

Precariously full bowl of sandy semolina

Adding in the sugar the mixing bowl was precariously full and could only be mixed with my bare hands, a spoon would just have tipped things over the edge completely!

Butter and milk on the stove

Then to gently warm the milk and butter on the stove until the butter melts completely.

Thoroughly melted butter and milk

Once it’s thoroughly melted (and hopefully a little less frothy than mine) it’s  ready to add to the semolina. This was a delicate process. There didn’t seem to be enough liquid to bring the dry semolina and sugar together into a paste at all.

Bind us together – oh butter sugar and semolina

Nevertheless I perservered and gingerly (the milk was a bit hot) took to mixing it by hand again until lo and behold I had a semolina paste!

Pastey Semolina

Tipping the bowl upside down into my greased and lined deep baking dish the semolina required a little coaxing to flatten it out completely into all the corners.

bowl shaped semolina paste – into the tray you go

Once it was relatively flat I smoothed the surface with a wet hand and squashed it down into the tin to avoid any bubbles or gaps in the bake.

Flattened and smoothed semolina

Taking the syrup off the stove  (I added a dash more orange extract as I realised I had added it too early and it may have mostly evaporated…) popped it into the fridge to chill it, ready for it’s next job.

Syrupy and ready for a good chilling

With a sharp unserated knife I attempted to score the semolina into equally sized diamond shapes (this befuddled my brain somewhat so I ended up with all sorts of shapes and sizes).

Zig zags in the semolina (supposedly diamond shaped)

I popped the tray in the oven then quickly realised I forgot to pop the almonds onto each diamond! Quick as a flash I studded each piece with a blanched almond and threw it back in the oven.

Studded Semolina – check out those blanched almonds (better late than never)

Then a cup of tea and a spot of Mary Poppins is all you need to do whilst the bakes for an hour and a half! (Mary Poppins is optional but it was choice du jour)

Soaked in Syrup

Once the semolina is golden brown and firm to touch it’s ready for a final slice with sharp knife and a good drowning in chilled orange syrup. I poured half of the very liquid syrup over the baked semolina and worried that it was a bit too much! It definitely required a break for absorption! Half an hour later I poured the rest of the syrup over and let the Basboosa relax and take it’s time to drink up the sweet orange flavour.

Totally soaked basboosa

Once it’s all absorbed it’s ready for eating! I REALLY loved this bake. It’s baklava-esque and shortbread-ey. Just the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea. It has quite a distinctive crumbly texture which some may not enjoy, I suppose it could be a bit dry if you didn’t pour all of the syrup over it too.

But as it’s a wheat derivative it has CARBS and is full of SUGAR so this is a perfect pre run treat. (I’m now running what I had always considered to be beyond my wildest dreams… 10 miles! Who’da thunk it? Admittedly this was by accident as I got hopelessly lost one afternoon/evening but I now know that I can do it! And I now have a freezer stocked full of this sugary pick me up.)

Basboosa Baby

This recipe makes a LOT of Basboosa, about 23 pieces – or more if you cut it into smaller pieces. It is very sweet so you probably don’t need a huge slice but it also keeps really well. Once the syrup crystalises it has a lovely glittery sugary crunchy top too. 🙂

I hope you like it as much as me!

Things I used to make Basboosa…

  • 1 kg ground semolina
  • 2 1/2 cups of sugar (550g)
  • 1 cup milk (250ml)
  • 125g butter
  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds (40g)

Syrup

  • 3 cups water (750ml)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 and 1/2 cups sugar ((330g)
  • 2 teaspoons of orange extract  (or Orange blossom water/rose water)
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon extract

Equipment

  • one 20cm x 30cm x 5cm baking tray
  • oven at 140 degrees c (fan assisted oven) 160degrees C normal oven

 

35. Merry Christmas! Stollen – Germany

Ok, ok, this may have been a long time coming (or perhaps I’m just ultra organised for this coming  prepared for Christmas)  BUT now it’s Summer it makes perfect sense to stop by Germany for a spot of Christmas Stollen. My wonderful baking friend Julie over at Sweetgum Bakery sent me a copy of her Patisserie course workbook (all the way from Australia I may add) which had this delicious recipe. I love this  book. It teaches you the techniques to create beautiful ‘bakery products for Patissiers’ including pastries and breads. I have already had a good go at a few things like  pretty dinner rolls pretending to be a real Patissier. This Stollen recipe  encompasses everything that I love about Christmas. Marzipan, spice, RUM and dried fruit. What’s not to love??

Stollen is for life, not just for Christmas

A stollen is a sweet, rich yeast dough laced with almond paste (or marzipan) and studded with dried fruit. Perfect for your Christmas celebrations (or any tea table al year round! Why deny yourself something so gorgeous just because it’s not December?!)  I may start just eating this all year round. I bet you could also make smaller Stollen buns or a Stollen Crown loaf, or a Stollen plait, or Stollen cupcakes! I might be getting carried away but the possibilities are endless.

Stollen is a traditional European dish which originated in Germany. You can vary the filling depending on your mood (or what’s in your cupboards) with flaked almonds, poppyseeds, or sultanas and candied peel. Whatever you prefer! Apparently you can also purchase Stollen tins to help keep the traditional shape during baking, but I am yet to find one. Although I’m sure it would be a wise investment indeed as I think mine spread a little on the baking sheet, but this didn’t stop it tasting lovely.

It’s always a good idea to pre soak your sultanas in a generous slosh of rum overnight to plump them up and enhance their flavour. It also adds to the festivities.

As with any yeast based dough it requires some proving time so make sure you have some time to spend with your Stollen. The recipe calls for compressed yeast. I was using instant dried yeast so adapted the method to suit.

Yeasty flour

Mix the 20g of  flour, 7g instant yeast (normally when I make a loaf of bread 500g of flour requires 7g of instant yeast so I used 1 sachet of Hovis instant yeast) and milk (200g)  together. Mix together then leave to prove for 20 mins in a warm place.

Yeasty batter

Add the rest of the flour (380g) to the mix along with an egg, lemon zest, lemon extract and sugar (100g). Mix all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film. Leave in a warm place to prove until it’s doubled in size

Buttery yeasty batter

Add the butter and mix it in until it becomes clear.

Proving time

Cover and leave the dough to prove again in a warm place, for an hour or so until it has doubled in size.

Dough has definitely doubled in size!

Knock back the dough and mix the sultanas, mixed peel (and optional nuts) in carefully, so as to not break the skins of the dried fruit.

Mixed Fruit

I used sultanas and cranberries (what I had in the cupboard!)

Fold in the fruit

Leave the dough to prove again for another half an hour, whilst you prepare the marzipan filling.

Making Marzipan Filling

Taking shop bought marzipan (120g) add the lemon zest and  an egg yolk and mix together to create a firm paste.

Marzipan paste

Divide the marzipan into 3 and roll into 3 long ‘logs’ (about 30cms long). I found my marzipan was a bit on the sticky side at this point so arranged it onto a sheet of cling film and rolled it inside the clingfilm. This made it a bit easier to move into the fridge to let it firm up a bit more.

Marzipan logs

Chilled Marzipan Logs

Take the dough and roll it out lightly with a rolling pin, into a rectangular shape. Aproximately 30cm long and 15 cms wide.

Flattened sticky fruity dough

Arrange the chilled marzipan logs in the centre of the flattened dough and fold the edges of the dough over to enclose the marzipan. Seal the edges of the dough.

Arranged Marzipan Logs

Place the dough, sealed edge down, onto a baking sheet greased and lined with greaseproof paper. Allow the dough to prove for the final time. Then bake for 25 minutes at 200 degrees C.

Sealed and shaped stollen

Once it’s baked place on a wire rack to cool. While it’s still warm pour the melted butter over the top of the loaf. This step may feel a bit on the odd side, as when pouring a cup of melted over the Herman the German Friendship Cake  but believe me it’s utterly delicious.

Straight out the oven Stollen

After a day the butter seeps into all  of the available sweet dough crevices and infuses the Stollen with a gorgeous buttery moisture. It also helps to stop it from going stale so it can keep for a week (if you can bear to hang on to it for that long).

Soaked in butter Stollen

When it has cooled completely dust the Stollen with a generous dose of icing sugar, for added Christmas magic and sweetness. (It also helps to keep your fingers from getting all buttery and greasy.

Snowy Stollen

One of my friends told me this was her favourite bake so far in the aroundtheworldin80bakes challenge. I have to agree. I love the gooey marzipan layer sandwiched into the dough and I love the plump and juicy sultanas.

Snowy sliced Stollen

Although I think my dough didn’t rise quite as much as it should have, as it spread out on the baking sheet, it was most definitely worth the effort. To help spread the Stollen love and festive cheer I chopped it up into Stollen bites and took a batch to work and it quickly disappeared. A good sign indeed!

Stollen Bites

Does it feel like Christmas yet??

Extreme Stollen Close Up

yum yum yum

Just in case you would like to have a go here’s what I used to create this German Stollen

To make the initial yeast paste

  • Strong plain flour (20g) –
  • Instant yeast (7g)
  • Milk at 30 degrees C (200g)

Yeast Dough (add the yeast paste to)

  • Sugar (100g)
  • Lemon zest (1/4 tsp)
  • Lemon extract (1g)
  • Butter (100g)
  • Strong Plain Flour (380g)
  • 1 egg
  • salt 3g

The Fruity Filling

  • Sultanas (pre soaked in a slosh of rum) (120g)
  • Mixed peel (25g)

The Marzipan Filling

  • Marzipan (120g)
  • 1/2 egg yolk
  • Lemon zest (1/4 tsp)

The Final Topping

  • Butter (melted) 40g
  • Icing Sugar (40g)

In an English Country Garden! Clandestine Cake Club – Lavender and Coconut Madeira Cake

Following on from my disastrous Lavender and Coconut Bibingka Cake attempt I had  one evening left before the Clandestine Cake Club to create a new and English Country Garden themed cake… I toyed with the idea of a rose flavoured bundt and earl grey tea and then fell upon the idea of a Lavender and Coconut Madeira Cake instead! Normally a citrusy based sponge cake I reckoned I could substitute some ingredients and make my own recipe… Dangerous and experimental with a very short time limit? Sounds good to me!

Emergency Lavender and Coconut Madeira Cake

Unfortunately I can’t count this towards my aroundtheworldin80bakes challenge as I have already baked SO much from England. Despite it’s continental name, Madeira Cake is actually from England. It’s a typical afternoon tea type of sponge cake and one of my favourites! The sponge in the Lamingtons that I made earlier is very similar to a madeira sponge. I love it’s moistness and I think (shock horror) I prefer it to a Victoria Sponge which (when I make it) can be a bit on the dry side.

Funnily enough Madeira cake and Madelines seemed to be very popular when I was in China. I ate rather a lot with my green tea!

Lavender and Coconut Madeira Cake (I can’t spell Madeira in this picture and this was my fourth attempt!)

I used a basic Marguerite Patten recipe and adapted it, replacing the lemon and orange zests with lavender sugar. I used the leftover lavender infused sugar (as mentioned in my last post) to add the lavender to the madeira recipe. I also substituted the milk for coconut milk and steeped some dried lavender in the milk for good measure while I whisked the butter and sugar together.

Beating the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy

I think the key to a maderia cake is to keep beating the butter and sugar until it becomes a lighter yellow colour and then add in one egg at a time. Whisk it all together until you think it’s ready and then beat it a bit more!

Whisking the eggs and coconut milk

Whisking the eggs and milk into the beaten butter and sugar

Fold in the sifted flour

All baked in my lovely new leak proof and non stick tin (no lining required!)

Unfortunately I got a bit carried away with the generous sprinkling of lavender sugar on the top of the cake and it dried out in the oven and cracked. I hadn’t intended on icing it at all, but the top layer crumbled away so on with the buttercream! (and no one will know the difference!)

Naked Madeira – pre cracked top

I usually enjoy my madeira cake plain with a cup of tea, especially as the edges a little more crunchy and sugary. However emergency butter cream was required and I whisked it up with another experimental addition. Coconut powder, icing sugar, blue food colouring, a little red food colouring and vanilla essence! This made the fluffiest icing that I have ever made! It was a bit touch and go for a while as my colourings ended up at grey rather than purple, so I kept adding blue until I got to lavender blue colour instead.

Lavender blue (and a sprinkle of glitter, coconut and lavender petals)

I didn’t have time for fancy piping so I plopped the icing on the cake with my palette knife and smoothed it round. Rustic looking, with a sprinkle of coconut and lavender, as Mary Berry suggests, to use a little of what’s inside the cake, on top of the cake to decorate it. I also couldn’t resist a sprinkle of glitter too…

The Cakes arriving at Cladestine Cake Club

All I had to do, was store it in the fridge over night. Then run home to collect it after work. The Clandestine Cake Club was held in the Garden Kitchen in Eldon Gardens this month. It was a fantastic venue, so light and airy!

So many gorgeous cakes to try!

The cakes were fantastic! I managed to sample, (almost) all of the cakes this time round. There were 20 bakers at this club with a guest each. I think I tried about 15 cakes! As most of them had fruit (and vegetables) in them they were quite light. I really enjoyed the English Country Garden theme.

Orange Blossom and Pistachio

I loved meeting lots of new faces at the CCC too and catching up with fellow bakers and bloggers Nelly  and Lisa (who organised the Newcastle CCC, it’s definitely worth checking out her blog!). Thankfully my cake seemed to be well received and there wasn’t a piece left at the end of the night! No one seemed to notice the cracked top that the buttercream was hiding too. I even took along my Bibingka Cake, just in case anyone wanted to try it, but there were far too many other lovely cakes to choose from, so I’m not surprised I ended up taking it home with me again!

Real Strawberries were hidden inside the giant carved cake strawberry! Delicious!

I’m looking forward to the next CCC event in July, where I will be baking something from the 18th Century for the EAT Festival! (I have no idea what I will be baking yet as google hasn’t offered many suitable recipes at the moment… all ideas are very welcome!)

 

Things I used to make Lavender and Coconut Madeira Cake…

Madeira Sponge

  • 6 0z of margarine (stork)
  • 7 oz caster sugar (infused with lavender petals)
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 oz plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • about 1 tablespoon of dried lavender petals (for the sugar infusion)
  • 2 tablespoons of light coconut milk (you can use normal milk if you prefer)
  • about 1 tsp of dried lavender petals to infuse in the coconut milk

Coconut Buttercream

  • approximately 250g stork margarine
  • as much icing sugar as required to achieve smooth pale fluffy and thick consistency (approximately 200g)
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • a generous 1-2 tbp powdered coconut milk
  • a sprinkle of dried lavender petals and desiccated coconut (and glitter)
  • blue food colouring (add as much as desired)

* This recipe was lovingly adapted from Marguerite Patten’s Luxury Madeira Cake Recipe, Everyday Food Cookbook

32. Moomins Love Berry and Cardamom Cake – Finland

I spotted the amazing Moomin Cookbook on my friend Jess’s shelf. Curious to discover what moomins eat I discovered this gorgeous recipe for lingdonberry and cardamom cake. It’s a traditional Finnish recipe, yet another country I am still yet to visit.
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Unfortunately the only place I have seen lingdonberries is Ikea and that was in jam form so I substituted to the extreme using a combination of blueberries and dried cranberries.

The most time consuming part was grinding the cardamom pods ( I lost count of how many I smashed to produce 2tsp of ground cardamom) and the cloves. I have a feeling I was a bit over enthusiastic with the addition of cloves but it added a wonderfully Christmassy aroma to the kitchen (and the final cake).

grinding cardamon and cloves

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After my pestle and mortar workout all that was left to do was mush up the berries, then beat all of the ingredients together in one bowl. Wonderfully quick and little mess too!

If I was in less of a hurry I would have used my stick blender to blitz the berries but as I was in a rush I just used the back of fork… Not the best way to mush up dried fruit. Perhaps I should have soaked the cranberries in juice beforehand.

The recipe called for a greased and dusted (with semolina) loose bottomed tart tin. I paid little attention to these directions and subsequently forgot to add a dusting of semolina to my tin. I also forgot to use the specified tin and ended up with making use of my favourite bundt tin (again!)

To compensate for the tin difference I baked the sponge for a slightly shorter period of time and when the skewer came out clean from the cake, I knew it was baked through.

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This was so much quicker and non of the hassle of lining tins with greaseproof paper. I recently indulged in a can of baking spray to grease my cake tins with (or ‘quick release spray’) as it was half price and it makes such a difference. Very quick and easy to use. Perfect for when I’m in a hurry, which is most days. No buttery fingers produced either!

I was worried that the lack of semolina in my tin would mean the cake stuck but it simply slid out as soon as I turned tin over onto my cooling rack. Effortless baking. Just how I like it, which meant I could cook tea whilst whipping this cake up simultaneously. (I just can’t stop multitasking!)

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It’s  recommended that you leave the cake for a day to develop the favours. I successfully managed to resist cutting into it all night. However I was a little worried that the cloves might be a bit overpowering in this recipe, having never baked with cardamon before I wasn’t sure what to expect….

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I loved the combination of the spices, the cloves definitely come through first with a tingly punch, while the cardamon and ginger add gentle undertones of warmth. It went well with the terrible weather we’ve been having in England recently, rain, rain and more rain along with snow in some places! But equally now the sun is shining I could merrily munch on a slice of berry and cardamon cake with a cup of tea. Spicy and fruity and moist. What could be better? No wonder the Moomins love Lingdonberry and cardamom cake!

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Things I used to make Berry and Cardamon cake.

* 2tsp baking powder
* 250g brown sugar
* 250g plain flour
* 2tsp ground ginger
* 2tsp ground cloves
* 2tsp ground cardamom seeds
* 2tsp ground cinnamon
* 50g of blueberries (pureed/mushed) – if you can find lingdonberries just use 50 g of these as a puree)
* 10g dried cranberries (pureed/mushed)
* 200ml single cream
* 2eggs
* 90g melted butter

* One bundt tin
* One oven heated to  175 degrees c
* Bake for 1 hour or until cake is cooked all the way through
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* This recipe was lovingly adapted from The Moomins Cookbook

Hello aroundtheworldin80bakes.com! Farewell princeproductions!

This week I took the plunge and invested in my little blog. I am now the proud owner of the domain http://www.aroundtheworldin80bakes.com ! 🙂

My new address

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This probably doesn’t mean a lot to anyone else but me but I feel like a technical wizz now I’ve also redirected my old domain http://www.princeproductions.wordpress.com to the new address.

I took great pleasure in typing my old address to the web browser and watching it magically transform into aroundtheworldin80bakes. Sad I know.

This means that any old links will still work and hopefully people can still find me?! The only other change is that my username is now aroundtheworldin80bakes rather than princeproductions, just in case anyone is wondering who I am when I comment on your blog.

So I’m bidding a fond farewell to princeproductions and hope you join me in welcoming in the new aroundtheworldin80bakes.com. I hope you like it. Let me know yours thoughts and as always thank you very much for reading!