Strawberry Rum Cheesecake

Well, it certainly has been a long time since posting though not for the lack of cooking, eating and making memories but more for the uncontrollable business of life!

Since last writing, I am so excited to announce that the fresh start on life I’ve been aiming for these last two years has finally arrived! I have now left the home of my lovely parents and moved into a little place of my own- and, if I may say so, it’s lovely!

I’ve already gone cooking crazy since living here! I’ve indulged in old favourites such as Thai Red Curry and Chicken Pathia, naturally had Josh and Stephen to visit for Wholegrain Maple Gammon, and on my first weekend here I had my parents to dinner to show my gratitude for everything they have done to support me, where we had a starter of Mojo Chicken, a main course of Beef Bourgignon and a dessert of Retox Pie.

But all those recipes are to follow soon! Last, I had my cousins Sarah and Samantha to stay and we indulged in a simple favourite- Chicken Fajitas! Sarah’s birthday passed recently on 31st May so I thought it would be nice to treat her to a favourite for dessert. Having exposed her more than once as a psychotic cheesecake thief, a strawberry cheesecake seemed the only option! And then there was this bottle of rum just lying around…

AND SO STRAWBERRY RUM CHEESE CAKE WAS BORN!!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANA!!!!

Today is my Sister’s 28th Birthday, so last weekend she was home to celebrate with the family. I’ve mentioned a keenness to develop my confidence in baking before now, so while she was out on a birthday shopping trip with my Mum I set to work making her a birthday cake to be proud of!

cakecakehana

The Chequered Neapolitan birthday cake consists of 3 sponges- one chocolate, one strawberry and one vanilla. It’s brilliant because it actually looks 1000 times more complicated than it really is, so results in you (the baker) receiving far more praise than you really deserve. I wanted to make this for her, as I have a vague child-hood memory of us seeing two-flavour version of this being made on How To (or was it The Handy Men?) when we were little, and then my Mum baking it after sufficient nagging.

You’ve seen me make the strawberry sponge before, back when I was at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, but this time I developed the recipe ever so slightly by adding a tablespoon of powdered Strawberry Milkshake mix… You know, for extra strawberry oomph!

So. Here’s how it’s all done.

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It’s outrageous how GOOD the house smells right now.

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So, today’s post was originally supposed to be something COMPLETELY different. My folks are on holiday at the minute, so I had one of my good friends from the Northampton College days to stay. She’s a pescatarian who has given up cheese for lent like an insane person. What a wonderful excuse to cook up a Salmon and Prawn Linguine!

I did just that, and it was delicious, HOWEVER we had already both consumed a reasonable amount of wine BEFORE cooking, so not only did I fail to make a note of exactly what I did, but I even forgot to put a few things in! Not one for the food blog.

So today was hangover day with Adele, and a fine day it was! We made the most of this wonderful village I now live in on what was a beautiful sunny day! We walked over fields, fed horses, sheep and ducks, found a thrilling obstacle course in Itchycoo Park (actually called Cotton Park) and ended it all with a nice salady lunch and cold drinks in the garden!

Suddenly, it’s Sunday evening and the return to reality must ensue. I’m loving my new job, but there are a few early starts that I’m adjusting to! Depending on which week you’re on, you will either start at 9:30, 8:30 or, God help me, 7:30. I should be on the late start this week, however everyone is on holiday so I’m covering some earlies!

I’m not bad with mornings, but I can suck at breakfast. I don’t tend to feel ready for it until I’m halfway to work and end up snacking on biscuits until lunch. Not healthy, and in no way wise with my Sister’s wedding round the corner! A breakfast-on-the-go would really save the day here! Solution? STRAWBERRY AND BANANA BREAKFAST SCONES!!

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Cappucino, and Super-Healthy-But-Probably-Not-Really Cake

Cappucino CakeStrawberry Cake

Over the last couple of months, I have had the absolute pleasure each Monday and Friday of volunteering at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, assisting them to organise one of their biggest events of the year; The Annual Reunion. I had such a wonderful time while I was there, and my last day came around alarmingly fast. I just had to show them a token of my appreciation, and what better way to do this than with cake!

Baking is far from being my strong point and most people are striving to be healthy in July and August, so I was up against a challenge. Finally, I came up with a couple of simple recipes that they couldn’t resist!

Super-Healthy-But-Probably-Not-Really Cake

One of your 5-a-day! Possibly. Maybe. Citation needed.

Ingredients
125g of self-raising flour
125g of caster sugar
125g of unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 punnet of strawberries

Get cakin’

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees

2. In a bowl, cream together the caster sugar and butter

3. Once smooth, beat in the two eggs

4. Sift and stir in the flour. Stir until lumpless and divine

5. Top the strawberries (cut their heads off) then destroy them in a food processor

6. Gently fold your strawberry goop into your cake mix

7. Grease your cake tin AND line the bottom with grease proof paper. This mix causes a lot of sticky when cooked!

8. Pour the cake mix into the tin and pop in the oven. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, though it may need longer due to all the moisture, so be sure to check!

9. Remove from oven and allow to cool

Icing
As I was icing two cakes, and as I’m a fiend for Buttercream Icing, I made a particularly large amount. You may find you don’t need so much!

Ingredients
250g of unsalted butter
500g of icing sugar
1 vanilla pod

Ice ice baby…

1. In a big bowl, cream up your butter

2. Sift in your icing sugar about 1/5 at a time, and stir it in ensuring you tackle any lumps!

3. Split your vanilla pod with a knife, then with a teaspoon remove all the little black seeds and add them to your mix. Josie then popped the empty pod into a bottle of Vodka, you may wish to do the same!

4. Stir in your vanilla seeds, then gloop this mixture all over your cake. To decorate, I lined the top edge with dried strawberries. Enjoy!

Cappuccino Cake

The cappuccino cake is even easier! Use the same ingredients as above, minus the strawberries. Measure out 40g of instant coffee (alter depending on your preference of strength) and blitz it up into a powder! Then, BEFORE you add the flour, add your coffee powder to the mix, stir it in and continue as normal. It needs slightly less time in the oven too- bake for about 20 minutes. Then just slather with your vanilla buttercream icing, dust with chocolate (just like a real cappuccino!) and enjoy. Who could resist that on a cloudy Monday?