Pavlova Cake

After a bit of a break I am back on the baking and cooking! I have never tried to make a pavlova before and I have not had much success when it comes to meringue based recipes but I remained hopeful that this would be a success….

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I thought Pavlova originated from Russia but this recipe says its Australian in origin! I then had to do a quick check and it’s named after a Russian ballet dancer after her tour in Australia! I’m not sure why it’s called a pavlova cake and not just pavlova, maybe that’s just something to do with the age of this book!

I am hoping my attempt will be crispy on outside with a marshmallow texture underneath just like the description!

First off I whisked the three egg whites, I was using egg whites that I’d had in the freezer..

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Then I added the sugar slowly and then the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla, and at this point it was looking lovely and glossy..

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The mixture does look right but I felt that the more I whisked it the thinner it got! It just wasn’t a lovely thick consistency that I was going to be able to pile up! I ended up have to put out and only managed a very slight dip in the middle..

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So not sure what has gone wrong here, I do find meringue recipes quite confusing! Should it be icing sugar or caster sugar and does it matter which type of vinegar?? Then corn flour isn’t always used. Anyway I had to just carry on and left this in the oven for an hour..

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It’s feels nice and crisp on top and the paper peeled away easily, I am really hoping that the inside is going to be nice and chewy!

Next I whipped the cream..

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That was then piled on the meringue..

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Part of me wanted to use fresh fruit for this but I had a can of apricots in the cupboard so stuck with the recipe and decorated with them instead..

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Then I decorated with glace cherries..

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Finally I had managed to get some candied Angelica so I sprinkled some of that over the top..

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So was really hoping for a nice marshmallow like inside and wasn’t disappointed..

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So how does it actually taste? The meringue is surprisingly nice! It’s crunchy on the outside and then really soft like marshmallow and lovely and light. The cream is good and then fruit is nice on top. Overall I’m quite pleased with this effort!

Would I make this again? Yes I would..

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Easter Biscuits

So the schools have finished for the Easter holidays and I’m finished work now until Tuesday so we decided to do a spot of baking and these biscuits seemed very appropriate..

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My little helper got started with the mixing of the butter, sugar and egg yolk..

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Then we added the dry ingredients and fruit…

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We used about a tbsp of milk to make a nice soft dough..

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After a bit of resting we cut into shapes..

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After 10 minutes of cooking we took them out of the oven and brushed with the egg white and then sprinkled with the caster sugar..

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Then after another 10 minutes they looked nicely coloured..

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Well obviously I had try one warm from the oven and they are pretty good! Lovely and light and love the pieces of fruit in them. I do think a pinch of cinnamon or mixed spice would’ve made even better! As they are though they won’t last long!

Would I make these again? Yes, great biscuit

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Baked Mushrooms

This isn’t really a recipe, more like a suggestion, but I’m carrying on with tonight’s plan of emptying the vegetable drawer!

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I remember reading somewhere that you shouldn’t wash mushrooms, instead they should be cleaned with a mushroom brush. Unfortunately I don’t have a mushroom brush so I just wiped clean with some kitchen roll! Then it doesn’t specifically say to cut the stalks but the ones on my mushrooms were all random lengths which I thought would make it tricky to top with butter, so I trimmed them..

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Then topped with a little butter and seasoning..

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After 20 minutes in the oven they didn’t look terribly appealing and I was thinking I should’ve topped with a bit more butter..

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So tonight’s dinner was pan fried turkey with the carrot salad, tomato salad and these. I was pleasantly surprised at these, they were soft but tasted good and went really well with the turkey.

Would I make these again? Possibly, good way to use up mushrooms!!

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Carrot Salad

I was having one of those days when I am trying to empty the fridge of random things yet make an interesting dinner. Normally when the vegetable drawer is filled with the last stray bits I make a stir fry. So as well as the tomato salad I opted to try this as well..

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Like the tomato salad it’s not terribly taxing. First off I grated one large carrot..

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Then that’s plonked on top of the last of the lettuce I had in the fridge..

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I had made enough french dressing to use on this and the tomato salad, so that’s poured over and then garnished with a little parsley..

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Well this was good. It’s nothing fancy but as a carrot based side dish it’s pretty good and we ate the lot!

Would I make this again? Yes I would!

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Coffee Kisses

I love the name of this recipe, and I love coffee flavoured baked things..

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I’ve not had much success with meringue based recipes so far. I know this isn’t exactly a meringue but does involve an egg white! I have lots of bags of egg whites in the freezer and I opted to defrost just one to make half this recipe.

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First off I whisked the egg white to a stiff peak..

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Then I folded in the sugar and almonds, and it doesn’t look great at this stage, almost like porridge!

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I then literally dropped teaspoons onto the tray. I do think I need to try be a bit more refined with my cooking sometimes…

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After 15 minutes in the oven they did even out a bit..

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While they were cooling I made the icing and the filling. Both were easy enough and both have a nice strong coffee flavour, although perhaps a tad sweet!

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I probably should’ve made more of an effort when icing half of them. I just poured it over using a spoon but I have a multitude of icing utensils and am wishing I’d maybe piped it on with more of a design..

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Then I spread the other half with the filling and then sandwiched them together..

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So not the prettiest looking things but they taste fab! The icing is more like a coffee slap than a coffee kiss but I like that! The biscuits are really light and have a nice chewiness, the icing is very strong with coffee and very sweet! We all loved them, even my daughter, although after eating one I made her come for a 3 mile walk after!!

Would I make these again? Yes, I’d make them smaller with maybe less icing next time..

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Quick Bread – 2

Earlier this year I made the quick bread-1 which turned out really weird looking but was good enough for toast and croutons!

This is a slightly different recipe but is also ready in under an hour..

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I opted to make with self raising flour, and it didn’t seem like much fat to the amount of flour..

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Then I added the egg and milk and I did end up using all the milk. The resulting dough is soft..

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So it says to knead very lightly so that’s what I did! I know there’s a whole science thing about making bread and activating gluten I think, but as this has no yeast I’m wondering if less kneading is best? I just gently kneaded for about 5 minutes until it was looking smooth..

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So I decided I was going to be a bit fancy and opted to make it into a plait..

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Then I brushed with milk before putting in the oven..

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After the full 35 minutes it looked nicely browned and has risen a bit..

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It does look a bit weird on top, again I’m pretty sure there’s a scientific reaction type explanation for that!!

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I left to cool ever so slighty before I had to test it..

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It is nice and soft inside and does have a bit of a crust, which I quite like! Warm with butter it is great! Overall it’s quick, easy and decent enough loaf of bread.

Would I make this again? Yes, great to be able to have a loaf of bread in less than an hour…

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Patio Salad

This isn’t a salad I’ve heard of and did wonder if it’s a real recipe! I found a few references to other patio salad recipes and just about every one had a differnt list of ingredients! Anyway I was looking for something quick for dinner and thought this sounded nice..

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As far as I’m aware tuna only comes in one size can! I definitely didn’t think 3 olives was enough, we love olives in this house so I more than doubled that..

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I diced the potatoes first and then put into boil, then I added the beans for the last few minutes. I didn’t need to cut the beans as they were pretty much already in 4 inch pieces..

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Once the potatoes and beans were cooked I put them into a dish..

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I only had cherry tomatoes, which I actually think are better for this! So I used about a cup of them and halved before mixing with the potatoes and beans..

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Then I put on the tuna and olive mix..

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Then I poured over the dressing..

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Then I garnished slightly randomly with the chicory..

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My daughters face was a picture when she saw this was for tea, but after tasting it she loved it and was another plate scraped clean dinner!! I loved it as well, I had served it with the potatoes and beans still warm which was nice. The flavours altogether are just great and I could’ve quite happily eaten the lot!

Would I make this again? Yes..

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Cucumber Salad

Not a very exciting sounding recipe this one but I had half a cucumber in the fridge that needed using and we were having fishcakes for tea so thought this would go well with that..

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So not too much involved in this, it’s just chopping a cucumber and then making the dressing!

I opted to leave the skin on the cucumber, and the dressing is simply salt, pepper, mustard, sugar, vinegar and oil. It’s the same french dressing recipe I’ve shared a few times, dead easy and ready in minutes..

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Then after 15 minutes it’s sprinkled with a decent amount of parsley…

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So that’s it! Served on the side with some fishcakes and broccoli…

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Well this is rather lovely! I think you can’t go wrong with a french dressing and I do like it quite sharp so I didn’t add the full 2 tbsps of oil. Does make a simple cucumber much more interetsing!!

Would I make this again? Yes, super easy and delicious..

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Fruit Cake

This is the second fruit cake from the same chapter. The first one was in the plain cakes section which are made by the rubbing in method. This one is in the one stage section..

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It does say that you need a special margarine, so not knowing what superfine or blue band are I decided stork would have to do and so I was making this fruit cake in the all in one method.

I’m liking that this has a good amount of mixed spice..

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Then this cake has a lot more fruit..

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I had opted to use a mixture of raisins, currants, sultanas and mixed peel.

So it’s all just mixed together..

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It does seem like a long cooking time, and I did keep checking on it after an hour but I did have it in the oven for pretty much the full hour and three quarters..

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It does have a nice flat top, which is good if it’s being coverd with marzipan and fondant, but I’m not too sure why! I’ve heard of a few tips to make sure you get a flat topped cake but I didn’t use any of them making this!

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So how does this compare to the first fruit cake? Well I preferrd this but think that’s due to the mixed spice and more fruit. It is quite a crumbly cake but I do really like it..

Would I make this again? Yup!
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Orange Gingerbread

I loved the everyday gingerbread that I made a couple of weeks ago so was looking forward to trying this…

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The recipe varies in a few ways, obviously this one has orange in it but it also has no syrup, less ginger and less liquid, so was hoping it was still going to turn out just as good.

First off I measured out the dry ingredients, this does have some cinnamon as well but was tempted to throw in a little extra ginger..

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This method varies as well, the other gingerbread involved warming all the wet ingredients then mixing into the dry, but this starts with rubbing the fat into the dry ingredients..

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Still no idea what differnce it makes! Then I added the orange bits and peices..

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Then in went the treacle..

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Then I added the rest of the ingredients and I did add some milk..

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After an hour I checked on this and it was definitely ready, in fact I thought it had maybe been in too long..

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The house does smell pretty amazing while this is cooking!!

Once it had cooled slightly I cut into squares..

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Well texturely this is very different to the everyday gingerbread, it’s much lighter which I didn’t really think is a good thing! I want my gingerbread sticky!!

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Taste wise it is nice, not gingery enough in my opinion and also the orange flavour isn’t as strong as I’d hoped. It is good with a cup of tea but just not as fab as the everyday gingerbread!

Would I make this again? Possibly..

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