Categories
Cakes Craft Inspiration Tutorial

Coffee.Cake.Create – a new crafting experience in Northamptonshire

Heads up, Northamptonshire! There’s a brand new craft experience in town. Every Thursday (10:30-15:00), the mezzanine floor of The Emporium at Nene Court is the home to Coffee.Cake.Create.

Coffee.Cake.Create

So, what’s it all about? Basically, it’s a regular event where you can turn up, make something and enjoy a delicious cake and a hot drink. There’s a menu for the crafts, with 4 to choose from and a variety of skill levels and project times. You’ll get everything you need to make your chosen project, use of tools and a handy set of instructions; but never fear, the resident craft captain (that’s me, by the way) will be on hand to help if you need it.

Nene Court Emporium

If you’ve never been to The Emprium, here’s the deal: it’s the home of handmade in Northamptonshire. Situated within Nene Court, the shop houses 30+ makers, artists and crafters in the downstairs area, while upstairs is a space where various workshops are held, as well as Coffee.Cake.Create.

Next door to the shop is the Garden Deli, a marvellous little cafe that has an outdoor space as well as a new expanded seating area right in The Emporium. This is where the delicious cakes and hot drinks come from for Coffee.Cake.Create; the price you pay for a project includes a drink (up to the value of £3) plus any piece of cake. So, once you’ve chosen and paid for your project at The Emporium, it’s just a few steps through to the Deli where you can order your items – they’ll then be brought up to you so you can sit back, relax and do your project in your own time.

It’s a great thing to do with a couple of friends, for some time out from your day, or to learn a new skill. You could even hold a Coffee.Cake.Create. party, hen do or event – it doesn’t have to be in the day time! Contact me for more info, or follow the link below. The menu is set for September (see below), with new crafts, specials and festive-themed makes coming later in the year. Hope to see you there one Thursday!

More info? Directions? Head to The Emporium Facebook page.

 

Categories
Baking Tutorial

Weekend baking – raspberry puff pastry parcels

After making a puff pastry topped pie Saturday night, I found myself in a rare situation: I had some leftover pastry. I’d bought a sheet of ready rolled puff pastry and so had a nice even rectangle- quite a substantial piece. What to do with it?

As we have autumn raspberries in the garden, currently ripe for the picking, it made sense to do something with those. My good friend Google came up with lots of recipe suggestions, so I took the bits I wanted and created some delicious raspberry filled parcels.

Raspberry parcel

If you fancy making them, here’s what you’ll need:
Ready rolled puff pastry
Fresh raspberries (roughly a handful will make 2)
Cream cheese
Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to about 175 C.

First, I divided the pastry in two even(ish) rectangles. If you’re using a whole sheet of puff pastry, you’ll probably get 4-6 parcels out of it, depending how big you want to make them. Cover a baking tray with baking paper and but the pastry rectangles on there.
You’ll need a good dollop of cream cheese to go in each of these- mix this in a bowl with a table spoon of icing sugar. Taste, and add more if you want it sweeter. Once I was happy, I spread the cream cheese mixture onto the bottom half of each rectangle.

Pastry squares

On top of this, I put my fresh raspberries. Mine were straight from the garden- it was raining and some were really very ripe, so they do look a bit soft!

Raspberries

Next, I folded the tops over. I’d read a lot of recipes that said to use and egg wash round the edges, to help stick them together. But Martha Stewart’s recipe for turnovers just calls for water, and if that’s good enough for Martha it’s good enough for me! So, a bit of water round the edges, fold them carefully and press together firmly. I was a bit fancy and went round the edge with a fork. I let these rest in the fridge for a bit, and sprinkled icing sugar over the top before popping them in the oven.

Pre oven  parcels

These took about 35 mins. Keep an eye on them though- when they’re nicely puffed up and golden on top, they’re ready! The insides will be very hot for a while. I counteracted this by serving with a nice shot of ice cold limoncello, straight from the freezer. This was a perfect match!

Raspberry parcel

Raspberry puff pastry parcels, limoncello on the side- a perfect Sunday evening treat!

Categories
Baking Cakes Tutorial

Weekend baking – birthday piñata cake!

I saw this wonderful piñata cake on domestic sluttery a little while back. As the husband is a sweet fanatic, I just had to try and make it!

I went for half the quantities they did, as, actually, there weren’t going to be that many cake eaters – this was mainly to see my husbands face light up when he cut open the cake and saw all the sweeties. This seemed like a great plan at the time.

Basic sponge cake recipe:
6 oz caster sugar
6 oz unsalted butter (room temperature)
3 eggs (beaten, room temperature)
6 oz self raising flour

Line two 20cm tins and preheat the oven to 180ºC
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. And the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour. If the mixture is a little thick, add a small amount of milk until it reaches a dropping consistency.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 mins.

Ta da!

Oh. Hm. My cakes never did rise very well!
The idea was to hollow out a bit of each cake and fill with sweets. But if, like me, your cake didn’t turn out quite right, there is a solution:

Cut up the cake and use jam and butter icing or frosting to build cake walls in which to put the sweets:


Then use the rest of the butter icing or frosting to cover up anything that needs covering up:

I made cake balls from the left over bits of cake, coated them in chocolate, and used them to try and make it look a bit more exciting on the outside:

Piñata time!

Categories
Baking Cakes Chocolates Craft Notebooks Paper

Street Party!

The Craft Fantastic have not one but two stalls at this! One selling delicious cakes, chocolates and cookies and the other selling a whole heap of paper goodies. It’s all for a good cause so if you’re around Northampton August 31st then please stop by and see us.

Spread the word people 🙂

Categories
Baking Cakes

Weekend baking – Happy Birthday to me!

Pink strawberry flavour cupcakes, cream cheese frosting and good old sprinkles.

Categories
Baking Chocolates

Weekend baking – coffee walnut whips

Simple to make and tasty. Kind of like making truffles; coat the moulds, make the filling (in this case, coffee mixed with sugar and heated, then poured over chopped choc and mixed till smooth) then pour into the set cases. When the filling is set and the top coat put on, smoosh a walnut half on.

Recipe taken from Miss Hope’s Chocolate Box.

Categories
Baking Craft Inspiration

Weekly Inspiration- Halloween makes and bakes

Last year I made these wonderful origami bats to grace the front porch for our Halloween party:

Sadly, this year we’re too busy to do anything other than maybe carve an obligatory pumpkin for the garden, so I thought I’d round up some of the best makes and bakes I’ve found online.

  • Eeek! Mini pumpkins


This is so simple but I think it looks great! Check out the how-to here.

  • Spider cupcakes

You can easily turn cupcakes into spooky spiders with the help of some liquorice for the legs and candy for the eyes! There are loads of different ideas out there, here are a few of my favourite pictures to help you decorate your own:

  • Halloween Up-cycled

Out of all of these great eco-friendly spooky craft projects, I think this plastic skull is my favourite:


There’s a simpler version here using milk cartons. I’m sure you don’t need that fancy schmancy machine.

  • Monster Brownies


Something else simple, effective and adaptable! Sometimes all you need is an idea and it can get you going. Check out monster brownies and out here.

Categories
Baking Chocolates Inspiration

National Chocolate Week(ly) Inspiration

Note that we need one, but now everyone has the perfect excuse to buy and eat chocolate. It’s National Chocolate Week! It’s even listed on a website of National Awareness Days. Which means it’s important.

You can visit the Chocolate Week website here for any events happening in your area- there are some good ones!

If you’re feeling in an adventurous mood, why not check out some chocolaty recipes? I’ve picked out some of my favourites to inspire you:

  • Chilli Hot Chocolate

A really simple thing to do and totally delicious! Just heat chilli with the milk, so it infuses and you get a nice kick. Here’s a good simple recipe from Waitrose that can easily be adapted to taste.

  • Chocolate Fridge Cake

I remember making this a lot at Uni! Melt chocolate, mix with stuff, bung it in the fridge. Job done. Try this one out for size; again, it’s very easy to adapt.

  • Classic Chocolate Cake

An essential in any baker’s repertoire- and what better place to start than with this Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe from Nigella.

  • Chocolate marshmallow slab

Not got the time or patience to do fancy things like tempering chocolate? Check out this cheaty trick from the fantabulous Choccywoccydodah.

  • Chocolate Truffles

The first time I made truffles, I used this recipe from Waitrose- I’ve been hooked on chocolate making ever since!


Categories
Baking Chocolates Tutorial

Weekend Baking- “Florentines”

A hot, sticky September afternoon is perhaps not the best time to try making these, but I’d got it into my head that I wanted to try. So I did. I know these aren’t proper Florentines, but I couldn’t think what else to call them!

I started by tracing some circles on a sheet of baking paper. I used what I thought was a suitably sized cookie cutter:

This went onto a baking tray. I melted some chocolate and used my teeny ladle to scoop it inside the circles. If you’re careful, you should be able to dollop in a nice circle- let it stop about half a centimeter from the edge of the circle. Doing it this way meant there was room for the mixture to spread a little when I gently ‘dropped’ the tray a few times onto the work surface, to get rid of the air bubbles.

I was worried about putting too much on, but I think I got it about right! They were thin, but still substantial enough to be satisfying to bite into.

After they’d set a little but the chocolate was still nice and soft, I sprinkled on a nice mix of dried fruit and seeds. I found a little bag in Asda that had a good mix of tiny seeds, bigger seeds and different coloured dried fruits:

I left these to set in the fridge; I’d let to say it was until they were nice and firm, but I’m afraid we just couldn’t resist and tried them while they were still a little melty!

Categories
Baking Chocolates Tutorial

Weekend baking- Oreo Wonderfuls

“What shall I call those things I just made?” I asked my husband. “Oreo Wonderfuls” said he. Ok then. Since I can’t think of anything to call them, Oreo Wonderfuls it is.

I started thinking about making these after watching Lorraine Pascale make her cheaty cake pops, where she combined Oreos and chocolate spread. After a quick browse on the internet, I found lots of similar “recipes” that used cream cheese instead of the chocolate spread. This seemed like a far better idea, as we use the light version cream cheese in our house and can thus pretend that these aren’t actually that bad for you.

Basically, all you need is:

  • Oreo cookies
  • Cream cheese
  • Chocolate

And you’re good to go. You’ll need roughly twice the weight of Oreos as you do cream cheese. I used 8 oz Oreos and 4 oz cream cheese, which made 20 bite sized balls.

Ready? Go:

Put your Oreos in a food processor, blender, or bag if you don’t have either of those. It helps if you take the cookies apart first. Pulse (or bash with a rolling-pin, if you have them in a bag!) until you have fine crumbs.

And the cream cheese and blend together until you have a nice even gooey lump of deliciousness.

Put a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray or similar. Roll the mixture into little balls the size of your choosing and place them on the tray, then pop this in the freezer for a while to firm up.

While they’re in there, you can start melting your chocolate- I find it easiest to do in the microwave, but a double-boiler works too of course. You need to get it as runny as you can, but keep heating in small amounts and stirring, so you don’t over heat the chocolate.

Once it’s ready, you can start dipping! I just used a spoon and dropped the cookie ball into the chocolate, rolled it a bit then took it out- they’ll need to go back on the baking paper covered tray, by the way, so keep it handy.

When they’re all coated, you’ll need to stick them in the fridge for a while to set. If you’re feeling fancy, once they’ve been dipped you can cover them in nuts/sprinkles etc. to make them look even more exciting. Personally, I quite like the rough-coating look, so I left mine be:

These are so easy and so delicious, I think I’ll be making them quite a lot.