Friday, 29 March 2013

Rabbit-proof fence...and the giveaway prize...

I promised to share my cake with you today.  It's taken me a little longer because I had run out of KitKats (other chocolate fingers are also available ;-)) and Mr Happy Larder had to dash to the shops to get some more.  So, finally, here it is:

I hope it tastes good - fingers crossed!  I saw the KitKat fence idea a little while ago online and thought that would make the ideal decoration.  Unfortunately, I can't remember where I saw it but if I do, I will let you know.  The cake itself is just a simple chocolate sponge with a layer of chocolate ganache in the middle and on the outside.  Ganache is something I had never made before but it is very easy - it's basically just heated double cream with melted chocolate.  Once cooled you can use it to create a wonderful even glaze on a cake or leave it a little longer and it becomes pipeable and spreadable for cake decoration.  The little carrots in the picture are shop-bought, the rabbits (recognise Karl?) are made out of marzipan and the lawn is just a bit of green icing, rolled out thinly.  The ribbon came from one of my birthday presents - I knew it would come in handy one day :-).  So, all in all not a difficult cake at all but I am very pleased with the result and hope my niece and sister-in-law will be too.

I had also promised you some more details about the next giveaway.  Please remember to stop by on Monday, leave a comment and you are in with a chance to win a copy of the River Cottage Handbook BREAD.  It is an absolute gem of a book and got me into making my own bread, so I hope the winner will enjoy it as much as I do.  Also, there is a US version available, so I can get that one for the winner if preferred.

Right, time to lay the table for coffee and cake now...

Have a very happy Easter!

PS:  recipes for the chocolate sponge & ganache to follow shortly...

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Ready!

I really am not too sure where the day has gone today!  The house is now guest-ready, I have per-cooked a couple of simple meals (of the meatballs & pasta variety) and the cake is almost done.  That's probably where the time went :-).  It was my niece's birthday a couple of weeks ago and my sister-in-law's is tomorrow, so I wanted to make a cake - I hope they will like it!  I will post pictures and the recipe tomorrow so that I don't give away the surprise today :-).   I had made a rainbow cake for my other niece a little while ago, so I have to follow it with something equally nice.  It's only fair, isn't it?  

I love having guests and making all the preparations - it means that when everyone is here, there will be no stress and we can just enjoy ourselves rather than slaving away in the kitchen.  I usually make a menu plan for the visit and prepare and precook as much as possible.  It's busy and quite full-on right now but will be very relaxing over the weekend - perfect!  For now, I shall collapse on the sofa for a bit but don't forget to come back tomorrow to see the cake and also to find out more about Monday's giveaway!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Little treasures...

I was thinking this morning that every time I use one of my mum's recipes, I am only satisfied with the result if it tastes exactly like hers :-)  Even if my dish is nice - if it doesn't taste like my mum's, it's not right.  As a little girl she learned to cook and bake from watching her mother and I guess that's how it happened for me as well.  Having a mum (or dad, for that matter) in the house cooking and baking is a very good inspiration.

My mum makes the best baked cheesecake in the world!  It has a hint of vanilla to it and she sometimes puts raisins into it as well - delicious.  Her recipe uses quark (a type of soft curd cheese) and the cake is just lovely and light.  I will ask her for the recipe, so I can share it with you.

In the meantime I have one for baked mini cheesecakes that I think you will enjoy.  We found that these tasted best the day after baking which is ideal if you want to prepare something for guests in advance.  They also freeze incredibly well - just defrost and you have fresh cheesecakes.  Perfect! 

I will give you the original recipe below which uses cranberries - I replaced these with tinned cherries, cut up into small pieces and put a spoonful of cherry sauce on top (made by reducing some of the juice from the tin plus a few cherry pieces and some sugar over a medium heat).  I also used a different base for the cakes as described below.

Mhm...I could do with one of these little treasures right now...


Monday, 25 March 2013

Almost Easter...and another give-away

Hot Cross Buns...
We have just finished our dinner (fish pie - yummy!), the dog is asleep and I can finally get round to writing my blog post.  It's been a busy day - with Easter fast approaching, I am getting a few things ready for our visitors.  I am hoping the sun will come out, so we can go for walks etc - an Easter egg hunt outside might be pushing it a bit.


I have baked a batch of hot cross buns (they are a traditional Easter bread here) - I have popped these in the freezer...they will taste freshly made once defrosted and toasted.  They will be fab for our Easter breakfast :-)

Karl...
I have also made some of the decorations for our Easter cake. This is the first one, made out of marzipan (the little carrot is shop-bought & made out of chocolate).  I have named the little fellow Karl but now I am not sure I will be able to eat him.

Note to self:  never name your cake decorations if you are planning on eating them! :-)

Before I forget, I am planning another give-away to take place on Monday, 1st April (no April fools joke!).  So, if you missed out last time, please remember to visit the blog next week Monday, leave a comment on the day and I will draw the winner from all entries.  The prize is a great one which I hope you will enjoy...more details soon!

Have a great start to your week!