Thursday, February 20, 2014

Love...the Rustic Baker

Half term madness has set in our house. Not helped by the rain. But it is a good day to get some baking started. So in celebration of not getting onto the Great Bristish Bake Off, I am going for the sourdough starter. A challenge in itself. Making croissants a la Paul Hollywood and finally summer fruit jam and if I have enough time lemon curd. Plenty more baking later in the week as it's Youngest Ones 2nd birthday. So cake and macarons for an afternoon tea plus other goodies.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Love...the Rustic Baker Winter Collection part 1

I love Winter. All those spices, mince pies, Christmas pudding, brandy butter and lots and lots of Baileys. Yum. It is the season to grab a blanket, chuck a large measure of baileys into a glass and eat fabulous food. This was also the time of year that I received my very first Bundt tin. Be still my beating heart. I had to find a great recipe for this delicious item and so I did. Jo Wheatleys Christmas Cake. Please try it. It is delicious, so light and a great alternative to your usual cake.

I love making mince pies too. I generally use an orange pastry but this year I experimented with adding in cinnamon. This proved to be a great addition to the pastry. Additionally, I also jazz up store bought mincemeat by adding winter pimms, orange zest, dried cranberries and sometimes chopped apple. These make delicious pies. To end my Christmas feast my lovely husband bought me another bundt tin and I was finally able to make my ultimate cake, the Tunnel of Fudge Cake. It has to be eaten to be believed.

So the bakes so far this winter - with a couple of months to go - have been Mince Pies, Christmas Cake, Kugelhopf, Tunnel of Fudge, Christmas Spice Macarons, Ginger & Choclate Cookies

Love.....the Rustic Baker Autumn Collection

So Autumn or Fall for my American readers brings out my love of spices, pumpkin purée and lots of cosy food. My celebration season really starts here. From Halloween, Bonfire Night, Thanksgiving, Winter Solstice, Christmas, New Year, Valentines Day, my birthday and now Youngest Ones birthday. It is a glorious season for me and the family gets to eat my bakes. I simply love pumpkin purée. This love affair started a few years ago when I just used to make pumpkin loaf or pumpkin cupcakes but has taken me to pumpkin pies and macarons. Yum. I also sought out Southern Living magazine that my Mum sent over for me. I drooled at the gorgeous bakes and couldn't wait to experiment. Gotta love Autumn.

These are the best of the bakes this season: Croissants, Purple Meringue, Vanilla Cupcakes, Gingerbread House, Chocolate Macarons, Blackberry Apple Loaf, Millionaire Shortbread, Croissants mark 2, Apple Fantans, New York Cheesecake, Profiteroles with Vanilla Chantilly cream &  Ganache, Pumpkin Spice Macarons, Strawberry Macarons, Quorn Mince & Vegetable pie, Pumpkin Roulade, Apple pie, Halloween Cookies, Pumpkin Duffins, Townies, Chocolate Beetroot Cake, Marmalade Parkin, Pumpkin Pie. <br />

Love.....the Rustic Baker Summer Collection

I love being The Rustic Baker. I love trying new things out. I especially love and am slightly frightened by the fact that I am going to apply for the Great British Bake Off. Even if I get nowhere it's all good. So many people and I am sure that it is a tough job to find the right combination of skilled bakers. Still I have enjoyed my reseach and development phase! So by season, starting with Summer picking up from where I have left off, these are some of the best I have baked: Lemon Lime Loaf, Choc Peanut Butter Cookies, Marshmallow Fluff Flapjacks, Vegan Lemon Cake, Ginger Cake, Blackberry Pimms Summer Cupcakes, Coffee Walnut Traybake, Blackberry Apple Crumble Tart, Fruit Scones, Fudge Shortbread, Choc Cupcakes, Plaited Milk Loaf and Choc Macarons

Monday, January 6, 2014 year, new thinking, new ways......maybe

Happy New Year! The last year has been an exciting, strange, emotional and just generally an odd one! We ended the year completely poxed up. First Oldest One missed last week of term so a three week break instead of two and boy does that make a difference. Luckily Christmas got in the way so eased the pain. However Youngest One now has the pox and so we start 2014 in pox hell. Oh and a rush job on the latest homework which we have typically left till the last minute.

Last year was a great year for lots of reasons. Oldest One growing up and getting past that I've just started school look and really getting into it. I have found that school has worked its magic and mostly Oldest One is psyched to be there. Frankly the relief at having a child at school is huge. Let’s be honest for all of the joys you get from your kids, getting them to school is a major milestone to be celebrated by all. Yes there are bumps along the way such as a serious downgrading of control over your child, weird language games - our latest ones have been rhyming skanky with wanky, panky wanker and the delightful cranky wanky. The joy of suggesting to your child that silly language is just silly and they have a wider repertoire to choose from whilst trying not to collapse with laughter. We had already endured duck duck fuck fuck duckity fuckity so at least we've moved up the ladder of insults or down depending on where your personal proclivities lie.

I realised with a hard bumpy landing to my arse that I now exude far less control over Oldest One than previously imagined. 'Imagined' being the key. For all of my huffing and puffing I have serious lack of control than I like to think. After all I am the doyenne of practical self help books on childcare and love devouring new parenting programmes. There have been many an occasion where I took heart in the professionals’ advice but none topped the outrageous one from the Three Day Nanny. This has been a seriously sleep deprived house over the last year and I was frankly getting desperate. I watched this fab programme where the Nanny Superhero suggested blocking out the light in your kids room (despite having blackouts etc) with good old tinfoil. Yes tinfoil. I duly bought shed loads of the stuff and plastered my kids’ bedroom window with tinfoil much to the bemusement of Husband. Ta dah I said to Oldest One, you could be in a space ship! Little did I know what type of spaceship... Next afternoon we had a visit from the local police. I kid you not. Asking how long had we lived at our current address etc. It occurred to me very quickly that something was amiss - "you're here about the tinfoil aren’t you?" notice how quick I am on the uptake. I dragged the hapless cops into the kids’ room and said "blame Channel 4 and the Three Day Nanny". I hurriedly explained the situation regarding Youngest One and they left laughing. Good story for the station. Apparently some neighbour across the way were convinced they had the local drugs baron living near them despite the fact that we had to keep opening the windows to let in the light. Clearly they had not been watching Breaking Bad nor realising that in order to grow you go high(!) to the roof to evade suspicion!

It has been a year of firsts for Youngest One too. Going from not doing much to crawling, walking, laughing, pulling funny faces and saying first words. Hopefully sleep will follow soon. Youngest One is seriously funny and just loves Oldest One, following and copying but totally determined. A real streak of independence as well. It has been a joy this time round after having such a rough time with Oldest One, particularly afterwards. But you really notice the difference in parenting and I have had to pull myself up several times. Finding that delicate balance of making sure both get told off equally and that Oldest One doesn’t feel left out has been hard. Undoubtedly we have got it wrong on many levels but something must be working as Oldest One said to me the other day "I'm beginning to really like my sister". The age difference has meant some of this has been harder than expected but never look back. Just wait till Youngest One really starts talking and then let battle commence.

One of the biggest differences to me this year has been my iPad. I thought that it would make life easier especially with the blog but in some ways it has done the opposite. I realised how easy it is to connect and started seriously using facebook and sometimes twitter. But this has a downside too. My blog suffered as though I love the iPad I found it was harder to post stuff. Apps don’t always work. I can take fab photos, it’s so easy to check mail, zoom about the net and constantly stay connected. But there was no time to sit down, think and write. So today I hauled out the workhorse laptop and have started to write again. This is a definite change that I needed to make. What was also scary was that because I was more connected and how easy it was to stay connected it made me less connected with my family. How easy it was to pick up the iPad and connect elsewehere. So a resolution for me is to connect more at home and not my virtual home.

The realisation that the technology age is truly here and our kids are at the forefront of it has taken a while to sink in. I am quite an old fart in that respect. I cling onto the past and how things were done but I know that I need to stay on top of technology, use the websites and make sure I am clued up about sites like flickr,, twitter, instagram, facebook etc and work out the updated rules for my kids. We have to do this and accept that their world is more instant and so different to the one we grew up in but that for the most part the rules haven't changed. I also found that I had to defend my right to not include photos of my kids or mention them by name on sites. This is a maze of rules to be navigated. You may have noticed that I use Oldest One and Youngest One etc. This is for their benefit as I choose to write but as kids they can't consent so I have to do it for them until they are at an age to work it out themselves. Maybe there is also a small part of me that wants part of our family life not to be instant. In the end whatever works for you and your family is all good. We all have to work out what is good and bad, what works and how do we get the best from what is on offer to us in this virtual 24 hour world.

Overall 2013 has been a happy one. Meeting new friends, having laughs on nights out and finding out how many pints I can consume but that’s another story. All I can wish for other than hauling my arse back onto the 5:2 diet and letting good old Jillian Michaels crucify said lardy arse is, that my family s happy, healthy ([pox free) and peaceful this new year. I also had help from a lovely friend to update this blog, so thank you Lisa. Will probably need more help from you to make this blog be more user friendly. I also hope and pray that my application to the Great British Bake Off succeeds. Must get the damn thing in though. So expect more from me this year and definitely more from the Rustic Baker. Back with a vengeance with hopefully some wit, more tin foil with a few breads and cakes along the way. Happy New Year to you all and may 2014 bring you joy, health, peace and happiness and a shed load of cake. Best get back to the sticky back plastic, cardboard and sellotape.