Saturday, 23 March 2013

Spring is here!!


Hey guess what, I'm expecting a baby, but then, you knew that right!! Well the realisation of this hits me every now & then and inbetween these moments I am almost unaware of this monumentous news. Crazy I know, but with my first pregnancy, everything was new & I wanted to know everything right then, right now, but this time, 6 years on and feeling more confident in myself, I know I'm capable of carrying this baby & when the time comes, I'll be ready. I suppose the term 'one in the oven' has a good feel for me, as you know, I love to bake, and once that cake is in and baking, I don't think about it again till nearer the time it's ready to come out. Well, in some ways, thats how I like to think of this pregnancy, only the final product will be better than any cake I've ever tasted. 
This week though has been one of those 'hit me' times and a need to be organised has briefly kicked in, but as is typical for me, this was not in a purchasing the all essential baby equipment style organised, no my thoughts were towards the kitchen and stocking the cupboards, frigde and freezer for the months when I won't want to, have time to or even want to think about being in there and making meals, but a family I have and a family I need to cook for. Now I know they can more than fend for themselves but why waste this time I have now to cook up a storm and get some baking done, that way at least I can avoid the occasional 'delights' my wonderful husband concocts (I didn't marry him for his culinary skills)  

So today with more snow on the cards, I rolled up my sleeves and headed for the kitchen and began, today's creations were:
Chocolate chip loaf cake

Banana and honey loaf cake

Ginger loaf cake 

Lemon drizzle tray bake

This took me just over an hour to do, that's right, 4 cakes in an hour. I think my many years of baking has taught me a style of baking I love and that's straight forward, no fuss type baking and also little tips I use to ensure I'm not frantic in the kitchen, covered in flour emptying drawers looking for a measuring spoon!!! I'll share with you my top 10 tips to stay calm in the kitchen: 

  • Always wear an apron, it saves your clothes getting mucky & bleach marks from the flour on brand new black tops ( been there!!!!) & handy for drying wet hands.

  • Use scales, I have electronic ones. Baking, in my mind is a science and using correct amounts means more good results at the end of the day.

  • Containers!!! I can't stand using bags of flour or sugar, as every time you unroll the top you get covered in a dusting of flour or sugar spills onto the work tops and then sticks to you at every opportunity.  Some baking powders come in such small containers that you can't get a measuring spoon in & you reason with yourself  that you can gently shake the powder out onto the spoon which will be ok & end up with the whole lot falling out in one great lump & into your mixture - cue one very enraged mum desperately trying to flick it back out of the bowl with the only implement to hand, a fork or other useless item ( yep, done this a few times too) I like to decant these types of dry ingredients into containers, I like to use the containers they use in our local sweet shop, she gives them away for free when empty. I also use jam jars & kilner jars, anything that is air tight and wide enough to get a spoon in. 

  • When using ingredients like honey, syrup or treacle, place the measuring spoon in hot water first before measuring out said ingredient, it'll slide off the spoon with no mess or fuss.

  • If a piece of egg shell falls into your egg mixture, the right tool for the job to get it out again is actually one of the broken halves of the eggshell itself! The jagged edge of the shell cuts through the viscous egg white, letting you scoop up the bit of shell without any fuss. (Sorry, bit scientific, promise not to go there again!!) 

  • Keep a jug of hot water nearby, it's handy for sticking in utensils you use and then can be taken out again when required and given a quick dry, otherwise you end up using lots of the same things like spoons, knives, spatulas etc

  • Always use free range eggs, I'm not saying they are of superior flavour or anything like that which I'm sure they are, but more for the welfare of the chicken. I use in excess of a dozen eggs a week, that soon mounts up over a year (624 if you're wondering!!). That's a lot of chickens laying a lot of eggs for 1 family, doesn't take much to ensure that chicken is a happy one!! 

  • Timers, use it!! I have seriously on many occasions, made a tray of brownies, set the timer, sat down, picked up my crochet and the outside world fails to exist anymore, I've even remember once thinking "mmm, what is that lovely smell, next door must be cooking something delicious" & then the the timer goes off and I remember its me that's baking 'duh', I really am that dizzy sometimes!!!!!

  • Disposable liners - they are just brilliant. No greasing tins, no complicated origami sessions trying to get parchment paper to fit to your tin, no washing up, no temptation to just not use it, resulting in cake sticking to tin, using a knife to try coax it out, scratching tin, throwing in dishwasher in a temper and then having the non stick surface eroded away, thus making tin practically useless & only good for giving daughter to use in her pretend kitchen - yep, you live & learn, my daughters kitchen will testify to this, great for making mud cakes now!!! 

And that is it, of course I would always recommend making sure you have used all the ingredients required before putting into your tin, no point baking if you've left out something important like baking powder or sugar!! Always bake because you want to and not because you have to, errors will happen, results will be effected and you'll not want to bake again. 

And now for a bit of a crochet!! 

Now, I do feel this blog is heavily becoming like a food diary,  but originally I started this blog to record my crochet makes, as well as other homemade creations, but then at the time of starting this blog, I embarked on my biggest project ever & so I'm still half way through making a granny striped blanket for my daughter. 
In hind sight, if in the first place I had got off my lazy bum and actually measured the width of my daughters bed & not guesstimated it, I would probably have finished by now, but instead I'm still on with finishing this blanket that could now probably fit our super king size, but never mind, I am absolutely loving making it, love having the vastness of it over my legs as I work on it every opportunity I get while the snow falls once again, it's a feeling of being all snugly, under my blanket, warm & cosy & that's how I hope my daughter will feels when it's eventually makes it to her bed and hopefully before this weather finally starts looking warmer!!!  

Here are just a few glimpses of my WIP and I hope I can reveal it all in it's glory very very soon!! 

Now I'm off to cling film wrap my cakes and get them safely put in the freezer before they are spied by certain members of this family, ie all of them & then back to my blanket. (ha, who am I kidding, that lemon drizzle tray bake will never make it to the freezer, never made one that has yet!!!)

Happy times in the snow to all and I'll be back soon 

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