Monday, 28 December 2009

Homemade sea salt and poppyseed crackers!

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My dad loved getting these in his stocking (Recipe from

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Who's a gal got to kiss around here to get a little SUCCESS?!

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Yes, technically this is a spoiler: I did finally succeed.  But it's the journey, not the destination, that matters.

Yeesh, this week has been rough.  I planned on making caramels for the boyfriend's families, and you all know how that went down.  Then I decided on toffee, which I was promised could be "super easy," and lemon bars, which I've made a few times and had few problems with (jest you wait, 'enry 'iggins).  Now it's the day before my birthday, and we're leaving for the States in 3 days, and today was my last chance to get the gifts to the bf's dad, so things have been escalating for a while.  And the end result is that I'm exhausted, so I'll let the photos and captions speak for themselves.

It's a long-un, so just jump to continue.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

We interrupt this scheduled post to bring you...


oh my goodness.

This is just what I needed to get over my recent mojo failings in the kitchen (more on that next post).

Monday, 7 December 2009

Easy biscuits, easy cleanup!

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And that's the best kind of recipe, in my opinion!  Although the delicious results don't hurt either:

And now, as promised, instead of writing about the biscuit-making, I'll just let the pics and captions speak for themselves.  That last post got kind of long-winded...

Normally I sift for no man, but I'd had enough mistakes to allow for a little humility.

Easy cleanup point number one: cling film instead of flour on your surface.  Easy peasy!

Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew?

Pin It Not me, apparently.  No candyman am I.

I've been trying to make candy all week.  I can't make it to my boyfriend's families houses for the holidays, so I wanted to send him with a big, pretty jar of caramels (I was going to make toffee, with chocolate and nuts, but his dad hates chocolate.  I KNOW).  I found a recipe on, which is my new favorite hunting ground because of the number of reviewers and the helpful suggestions they make about cooking time, flavors, etc.

The recipe, found here, looks really easy.  There are only 7 ingredients, and the process is basically: put all ingredients in saucepan, bring to boil over medium heat, and when a candy thermometer reads 250 (or 240, as most reviewers suggested), pop it into a greased tray to cool.  A few hours later, Bob's-yer-uncle!  Easy peasy caramels!

So far, so good.

But in this instance, even 217 reviewers and all their collective wisdom couldn't help me.  First, there was the problem of the corn syrup the recipe calls for.  They don't really do corn syrup here in the UK, so I was back to substituting.  The first time around, I used a combo of something called liquid glucose and honey.  The consistency seemed right, and I didn't think honey flavor would be a problem.  And it wasn't, although it was noticeable.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Pumpkin muffins from SK

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With delicious crusty cinnamon and sugar tops! Yumtastic.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispy Treats (or: I am a Baking Machine!!)

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Story of my life.

So I've been baking up a storm lately. In the past week alone I've made pumpkin muffins (to use up the leftover pumpkin from the bread pudding, which was a big hit, by the way), apricot muffins (to use up the dried apricots I'd been meaning to eat for months), chocolate chunk cookies, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and today I tried making mini pumpkin pies (an easy, portable way to educate my fellow MA students on the wonders of American food traditions) and these delicious-looking rice krispy treats from Smitten Kitchen. (By the way, I do realize that my photos don't hold a candle to the pics at SK or Bakerella, but in my defense I'm using a general-use digital camera from about 5 years ago, which is a good little machine but in no way compares to the real thing. Just sayin'.)

Anyway, I can hardly expect y'all to read about all those things at once, so I'll just post briefly about the rice krispy treats, and include a few photos of the other goodies (you have to see the cuteness of the minipies). Ok? Ok.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Platinum (or just as valuable) Pumpkin Bread Pudding

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The 2 most important ingredients in any pumpkin dessert.

Since it's Fall, and all, I've really been craving super Autumnal treats. So when I saw this recipe for Pumpkin Bread Pudding over at Smitten Kitchen, I jumped for joy. And it's supposed to be easy, too! What more could a girl ask, especially when she's having her first dinner party in her new flat in mere days?

Well, I'll tell you one thing: a girl could ask for a little more forethought. Of course, in my conniption of excitement over the purported ease and deliciousness of said dessert, I forgot how hard it can be to find pumpkin in England.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

American Style Hot Apple Cider in the UK

Pin It For any other Americans out there in the UK who are really missing their non-fizzy, non-alcoholic, hot and delicious mulled cider, I finally have a (reasonable) solution: Clive's Mulled Apple Juice, available at Waitrose.

It's basically cold apple cider, mulled with all the usual spices, meaning all you need to do is pour it into a mug and pop it into the microwave, then close your eyes and shut the double-glazed windows and set a small piece of wood on fire* and it's just like standing in the middle of a pumpkin patch on a brisk Fall day! Well, almost.

Anyway, I highly recommend Clive's. It made my Fall just that little bit more bearable over here. And if you're mad about cinnamon, like I am, you can always add a stick to pump up the spice factor.

*I am so not responsible for you setting your house on fire.

UPDATE!  I now have a recipe on the blog for making hot apple cider yourself!  It's better than Clive's, and super easy (and anyway I've had a hard time finding Clive's this year).  

Friday, 23 October 2009

A little substitution... and bibbity boppity boo!

Pin It Baking over here can be trying. Not only are the conversions a bitch (my recipes now have temps in both Fahrenheit and Celsius, and ingredients in cups and grams), and the ovens electric and therefore highly varied, but there's also the matter of being a poor student.

Point the first: poor. Meaning I don't have the money for such indulgences as a Kitchenaid mixer, or even a Cuisinart like my mom has at home (Hi Cuisinart, baby, I miss you!), or even such small luxuries as different sizes of pan/sheet/dish in which to bake.

Point the second: student. Which not only reiterates the poverty, but also means I'm here for a limited time, which makes any investment I could feasibly make seem like a stupid waste of money, since I can take very little back with me across the Atlantic.

So why do I keep trying? Because baking makes me happy.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Snickerdoodles in our new flat

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We moved into our new flat over 6 weeks ago, but the new, working replacement for our broken oven only arrived last week. So I'm sure you can imagine how much I'd been dying to bake, and the fact that I was denied only made me fantasize harder about tarts and pies and cookies and cakes.

So when the new oven was installed, I immediately started thinking about what would be my christening baked good. I settled on Snickerdoodles, because the cookies here all seem a little too sweet for my taste, and i just wanted something cinnamon-y and soft and subtle, without chocolate (I know, blasphemy).

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Sooooo, a bit more of a wait...

Pin It We moved into our new flat 2 and a half weeks ago, thrilled to have a kitchen with enough space for my boyfriend's culinary forays and my baking obsession, only to find that our oven is broken and the hob knobs (ha, only British people will get that pun) have had all the info scrubbed off them. So I've had to put off baking for a little longer, and for now we're just making pasta etc by feel (literally, we turn on one of the knobs, then hover a hand over the hob to feel where the pot should go), which is a bit dangerous but works.

Hopefully we'll get our new oven soon, and I can start spending all my (little) money on silicone baking trays! I'll keep you apprised.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Watch this space!

Pin It I'm back in London and ready to bake! Or I will be, once we get into our new flat. Oh, electric 'hobs', how I haven't missed you...

Monday, 26 January 2009

Cupcakes in Cali

Pin It My sister and I have always shared a love for crafts and Martha-Stewart-y activities, but the difference between us is that she actually plans (and pays for) said activities. Usually all I have to do is show up. It's one of the things I like best about her.

Now that she has a three-year-old son, she's more nutso than ever about this stuff; she pretends it's for him, but we all know better. The other weekend we found ourselves in the same place at the same time, which is unusual for us, and I agreed to do some cupcake baking/decorating. She had bought this book:

At first glance, I assumed we'd fail miserably to re-create any of the decorations pictured in the book, but the author promised that all the cupcakes can be re-created by anybody, without special tools (just plastic baggies, canned frosting, and a lot of strange props). So we gave it a whirl.