Saturday, 30 March 2013

Extra Special Easter Cakes

It's nearly Easter and I've just finished baking my Extra Special Easter Cakes.   What makes them extra special?   They were made using the cupcake liners and Easter cake toppers sent to me by my family in America!

I couldn't wait to use them...

I especially like the blue bunny and the green rooster.

We will have the cakes for afternoon tea on Easter Sunday.

I hope you have a very Happy Easter.   Thank you Jena, Kevin, Jessica and Sara for making our Easter tea extra special!  

Friday, 29 March 2013

Bunny Napkins for Easter Tea

Here is a nifty way to dress up your Easter table, Easter Bunny Napkins.  I first saw this years ago on MARTHA STEWART'S WEBSITE .  

I've used it for every Easter tea and dinner since!  Follow this super photo tutorial from Hoosier Homemade   and you can have bunnies on your table, too!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Baking Update - Butterfly Cookies

I've just finished baking and decorating our Butterfly Cookies for Easter tea.  

Every time I use Royal Icing I make a HUGE mess.  I even have pink icing in my hair!  

I baked some bunny shaped cookies too, but they were just too weird looking for words,  so we ate them immediately.  They tasted good even if they were a bit ugly. That's the great thing about baking, you can eat your mistakes!  Back to the kitchen. Time to tidy up. 

P.S.  If you'd like to bake some chocolate cut out cookies you can find the recipe HERE

Baking Not Blogging

I know, I am a bad blogger. For the next few days I will be doing some Easter baking so things might go a bit quiet here.  

I am learning how to make the traditional Easter treat, Hot Cross Buns.  Right now there is too much bun and not enough cross. 

There are cookies to bake and decorate.

AND I must bake some cupcakes, using my extra special Easter toppers and liners!  (The ones that were in my special parcel from America)

There is so much to do and so little time.  I'd best get back to work.  

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

An Old Fashioned Easter - Vintage Cards

I am old fashioned, unashamedly so.  I love all things antique, rustic, shabby-chic and vintage, like these old Easter cards. 

I think they are charming, especially this dandy little bunny with his top hat.

This chap is more March Hare than Easter Bunny.

This rabbit looks as if he his guarding the Easter Egg rather than delivering it.

Now we know how all those Easter eggs get delivered on time.  It's a big family business!

All of these vintage Easter cards can be found by visiting THE GRAPHICS FAIRY  She has lots of vintage images you can use for FREE.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

In Search of the Perfect Scone Recipe

If you live in Britain, then you have to know how to bake scones.  They sound easy to make but they are seriously tricky.  Even the name is tricky.  Some people say scone as in cone...some say scone as in gone.   

The debate continues in Devon and Cornwall, do you put the jam on first and then the clotted cream or is it the other way around?

Should you cut the dough into individual rounds or should it be cut into wedges? 

So this is an appeal to all you scone bakers out there.   Could you please help me find the BEST scone recipe?  I'd love it if you would leave your recipe suggestions and scone baking tips on the comment section of this blog.  

In the mean time, the search goes on for the perfect scone recipe! 

Sorry about the ghastly photos...done on the fly with a flash.  I will do better, I promise!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Almost Like an Easter Egg Hunt

In the States, Easter baskets are a big deal.  Well, they were in my family and not just for the children.  My Granny gave me an Easter basket filled with candy every year until she moved to Illinois to live with my Mom and Dad and I was VERY grown up at the time!

The Easter baskets aren't that popular here in Britain but the Easter Bunny delivers HUGE chocolate eggs to the children here.  Since we are very grown up we buy our own Easter treats.  It gives the Bunny more time to take care of the children.  

It's sort of like an Easter Egg Hunt all through our house.  There's a big chocolate bunny and some eggs in the sitting room ...

And miniature baskets filled with miniature eggs on the coffee table.

All of them have signs pointing the way to the next Easter treat.

The best treats are in the big Easter basket on the hall table.  There is even a BIG golden egg just like the ones the Easter Bunny delivers.  Did you notice, I used the pink shred from my special parcel to line the big Easter basket?

Andy and I will nibble on some of the little eggs but that big one has to be saved for Easter!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Jo Wheatley's Custard Creams

Now this is a REALLY British recipe, homemade CUSTARD CREAMS .  I've seen it done on several different blogs and when I bought Jo Wheatley's book, A Passion For Baking, I knew I had to give them a try.

Ordinarily, Custard Creams are biscuits/cookies purchased ready made from the shops and look like this:

So I wasn't quite sure if I'd gotten it right.  Andy gave them a try and said they were blog-worthy.  

So here is the recipe for JO WHEATLEY'S Custard Creams :

100 grams unsalted butter, softened
50 grams caster sugar
100 grams plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
25 grams custard powder
25 grams cornflour

Beat the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy.  Sift the flour, custard powder and cornflour into the creamed butter mixture.  Stir until until you have a smooth dough.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 170C/325F and line a baking sheet with baking paper. 

When the dough had chilled, dust your work surface  and rolling pin with flour and roll the dough out to a thickness of 3-4mm.  Using a cookie cutter or the rim of a small drinking glass, cut out the biscuits.  Place the biscuit shapes on the lined baking tray and return the tray to the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.

Bake the biscuits for about 10-12 minutes until the they are a light golden colour and firm.  Let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before cooling them completely on a wire rack.  

To make the filling, simply beat the following ingredients together:

150 grams icing sugar
45 grams unsalted butter, softened
20 grams custard powder
3 teaspoons milk

Place a dollop of filling on one biscuit and top with another to make a biscuit sandwich.  To keep the biscuits crisp and crunchy, keep them in an airtight container and fill the biscuits JUST before serving.  

Homemade Custard Creams and a pot of tea make very British treat! Cheers!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Rainy Day Kitty

March is said to come in like lion.  Well, it's certainly lived up to it's reputation the past two days!  The weather has been ghastly, rain lashing down and the wind blowing a wild gale.

Most of us are eagerly awaiting Spring, but no one is more impatient with the weather than the little Dust Bunny.

He doesn't mind cold weather.  His thick coat keeps most of the cold at bay.

But he gets quite grumpy when it rains!  It makes his fur spikey.....

And the fur between his toes gets mucky!

Worst of all, he can't patrol his patch in the allotments.  

As we all know, too much rain is boring!

Sometimes the best thing to do is get your blankie and have a nap on the sofa while the rain beats against the windowpane.  I am sure he is dreaming of a sunny Spring day.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Sweetheart Cakes - Cake Just for Two

This could be the most romantic recipe I've ever shown you.  This recipe makes two little cakes, perfect for that special occasion when it's just the two of you, dining by candlelight.  

It could be romantic...but in reality, it's an exercise in damage limitation!  I love cake and the bigger the cake I bake, the more cake I eat. 

So if I bake only two little cakes, the most I can possibly eat is two little cakes.    But let's pretend we are feeling romantic.  Here's what you will need to make Sweetheart Cakes:

5 Tablespoons self-rising flour
4 Tablespoons caster sugar (white sugar)
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil  
3 Tablespoons plain yogurt or milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium egg

Preheat the oven, 350F/180C, and oil the inside of two ramekins or small oven proof dishes.  

Place all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and beat them with a fork until the batter is smooth and well mixed. 

Divide the cake batter equally between the two ramekins and bake for about 15-20 minutes.  Begin testing the cakes after about 12 minutes.  The baking time will vary according to the size and shape of your baking dishes.  

Let the cakes cool for a few minutes before dusting them with icing sugar.  You can serve them with ice cream and caramel sauce, a bit of pouring cream, or a splash of custard.  If you are really greedy, like me, you can just eat them while they are still warm!  I love chocolate cake, it's all so romantic!

The Parcel - Part II

Yesterday I received a special package in the Post, remember?  Well, as you know, I don't do sponsored blog posts or endorsements.  BUT....

I thought you might be interested in seeing more lovely party supplies, like these from SHOP SWEET LULU   They even have a blog where you can learn how to make your own crafty party decorations.   Take a look by clicking on this link :  SWEET LULU's BLOG

Thanks again to my sister-n-law, Jena, and Sweet Lulu for sending me a charming surprise by post.  

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Parcel in the Post

There was a thunderous knock on the front door early this morning.  It made me jump and the little Dust Bunny went scuttling for cover.   It was Postman Pat in his red van delivering a parcel.  

I leaned out of the bedroom window, yes I was still in my Pj's, and asked him to leave the box on the step.   Andy gets a lot of packages delivered to the house but this one wasn't for him.  It was for ME!  

I could tell by the label the parcel was from my family in America.   I was so excited I could hardly get the box open.  It was filled with lovely pink shredded paper. 

Look what was inside!  Everything I need for an extra special Easter tea party!

These are my favourite colours!  

I can't wait to use them!

And inside there was a note...

I most certainly can use these!  Thank you SO much Jena, Kevin, Jessica and Sara! It was very kind of you to send this parcel.  I LOVE IT and YOU! 

P.S.  This note has another VERY important message on it.  Life is what YOU make it.   : )