Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Pistachio and Vanilla Meringues

As preparations for TSWCS 3.0 continue apace, I thought I would give you a (not so) quick and relatively simple meringue recipe! I think there are many myths surrounding meringues that are created to prevent people from trying to make their own. The first is that you need a freestanding electric whisk / mixer to get real volume. Whilst I'm sure the Kitchens of Whimsy would be forever changed if I had a 'Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer' I do find that a regular (in fact rather small) hand-held electric whisk creates adequate fluffy meringue volume from where I'm standing...

 Take 600g caster sugar and heat it in the oven at 200 degrees until the sugar is starting to dissolve slightly at the edges and your kitchen smells of candy floss (8-10 mins).
 Put 300g egg whites (preferably ones that have been left in a loosely covered bowl overnight as this will help create volume, whatever you do don;t use them straight out of the fridge!!) in a meticulously clean (I always pour boiling water over the bowl and then allow it to cool before whisking) metal bowl.
 Whip the egg whites until they begin to fluff up and at this point VERY slowly and carefully add the sugar about a fifth at a time whipping constantly until the sugar has been completely absorbed before adding more. The mixture will become very thick and begin turning into the most beautiful silky wedding-dress-white substance. When this happens KEEP GOING as it is likely you still haven't been whisking for long enough. You need to have been going for about 8-10 mins in all.
 In the last 30 seconds or so, add around a tablespoon of vanilla essence. Leave the meringue mix and take out a tray of pistachio nuts that you have chopped very finely before you began the whole process (remember mise-en-place is key!). Using two large silver spoons, scoop up a generous portion of meringue and put it in the pistachios. Pick it up with the other spoon and place on a baking paper-lined baking tray.
 Doing this is quite can always put the meringues on the tray and sprinkle the nuts on top if you need to, but the result isn;t quite as good...
 These dollops of creamy sugary delight need to cook for about two hours at a very low temperature - 100 degrees.
Best served with freshly whipped cream and some slightly sharp raspberries to cut through all that sugar!

Silver Whimsy x

Monday, 25 June 2012

Strawberry-iced Fairy Cakes

 Dear Readers,
As preparations for The Silver Whimsy Cake Stall 3.0 hot up, I thought I would tempt you with some super-easy to make fairy cakes...
125 g unsalted butter
125 g caster sugar
125 g self raising flour
2 free range organic eggs
A teaspoon of vanilla essence and 2 tablespoons of organic milk....
Then it's time for the icing...

Making the cakes...
Cream the butter and sugar together, beat in the eggs one at a time adding a spoonful of flour if the mixture begins to curdle, beat in the vanilla, sieve in the self raising flour and then fold in with a large metal spoon. Spoon into the pretty cake cases and bake in the oven for 15 mins at 170 fan assisted...
I've spent a long time trying to figure out the recipe for the best butter icing... I feel quite strongly that it is a 3:1 ratio (there's one for the mathematicians amongst you!) of icing sugar to butter. I would suggest that you sieve the icing sugar at least twice to help you beat it in, and make sure the butter has been left out all day. I think  the trick is to use summer fruits to flavour and naturally colour the icing. Once you have added your icing sugar ad butter to a large bowl, press the summer fruits into the mix and beat it all together. You may need to add a drop of milk as well, depending on how many fruits you are willing to add. 
Then for the fun bit... decorating! 

 I went for a pink heart theme with these little cakes and sprinkled over some trademark SW glitter.

 Styled in vintage tea cups and ice cream sundae cones I think they look rather pretty. 
Do come along on Sunday to try out some Silver Whimsy cakes for yourself! 
 Silver Whimsy x 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

'Issy's Milky Way'

Dear Readers,
Just a quick post. Building up to TSWCS 3.0 is a thirsty business and, in a deviation from the norm, I felt inclined to go in search of a milkshake. (Once, at university, I formed the Midnight Milkshake Association where we would search for the magical milkshake diner where the light never went out. But I digress.)
Welcome to 'Issy's Milky Way'  featuring everything you could possibly need for a recreation of a 1950s summer date!
 What better way to refresh than with a delicious, thick shake made with Marine Ices ice cream? Especially when 'Issy's Milky Way' is situated in the Camden Passage where you can spend a few minutes before or after enjoying the vintage treats and antiquities that grace the quaint street. You can also look out for Noel Fielding who we we saw walking past during our teatime treat!
 It is out of the ordinary for a 'Confessions' blog to feature a non-coffee related beverage, but with a menu like this one, how could I resist? I didn't try the cakes, but there were some promising looking brownies, and the coffees being drunk next to us looked suitably old skool.

 Back to baking now though,  TSWCS 3.0 preparations never end!
Magic and milkshakes,
Whimsy x
PS Check out my silver glitter nail polish in the pic above! Fashion Joy!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Lemon Drizzle Cake - a firm family favourite

When I was little, my grand parents lived abroad and the most magical thing was getting to see them and eating my Grandma's lemon drizzle cake - it was (and still is, really) my favourite cake. She would always make hers round and the smell of it, just out of the oven, permeating her flat along with the general aroma of chicken soup is a Proustian memory. 

Years and years later, I use her cake tins (thrust upon me when I went round with a lemon drizzle loaf for her), but I make mine in a loaf shape and follow Nigella's recipe (Grandma never did give me hers). 

The smell of it baking is the same though, and always brings back those memories. 

You will need:
Pre-heated oven at 180 degrees / 170 degrees fan assisted / gas mark 4
125 g unsalted butter (pref organic)
175g fair trade caster suagr
2 large free range organic eggs
the zest of one lemon (pref unwaxed or you're eating chemicals)
175g self raising flour
4 tablespoons of milk
The juice of 1 and a half lemons
100g icing sugar
You will also need a buttered and lined cake tin. I know it's a hassle but it is essential and worth the effort. Some people love lining cake tins. I do not. 
 First you need to cream the sugar and butter together. Top tip; have a packet of butter that you leave out of the fridge ready for baking. This way creaming butter and sugar will be ten million ties easier. (As regular readers know, I do everything by hand as I don't have a magimix so thinking in advance is essential!)
 Then, add the eggs one at a time, beating in well, along with the lemon zest. Be generous on the lemon zest front and adapt according to the size of your lemon - if your cake mixture does not smell lemony you must add more!

Next, sift the flour into the mixture and fold in with a large metal spoon. When 'The Kitchener' opened in NW6, I went and bought two WONDERFULLY large Alice-esque metal spoons that truly changed my baking. Up until that point I had somehow been managing to fold in using tablespoons?! I actually don't know how my cakes ever rose...

Once the flour has been thoroughly (but gently) folded in, add the milk and fold in til it's soft dropping consistency.

You should have an extremely smooth, creamy coloured mixture.
 Pop the cake in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 40-45 mins. I normally check at 40 as it turns very quickly. It should be well risen and a cake skewer will come out clean when it's done.
 Ten mins before the cooking time is up, begin to make the syrup. (Aside: My friend Sonja bought me this amazing lemon squeezer when she discovered I squeezed oranges by pushing them through a sieve...!!!! This, along with the large silver metal spoons, has made making a lemon drizzle cake a billion times more straightforward!)
 Squeeze one and a half lemons and add to a small pan along with 100g icing sugar. Heat very very gently until the sugar dissolves. Don't stir it, but you can swizzle the cake skewer across the bottom of the pan if it needs a little help to get going...
 Now for the fun bit! As soon as the cake is out of the oven, pierce it all over with the cake skewer. Make sure you cover all angles as the syrup needs to cover the whole cake.
 Pur the syrup into the holes and watch the surface of the cake begin to sheen. Leave to cool completely in the tin (which should be on a wire cooling tray) before taking out. Your kitchen will be smelling heavenly by this point.
 Once cooled you can, if you like, ice it with a simple icing sugar and lemon glaze. It doesn't really need this, but I suppose it makes it look more 'finished' if you like and helps it to last longer. This cake will last for a very long time though - it stays moist because of the lemon drizzle - and you can change the lemons to oranges or whatever takes your fancy if you happen to have extra citrus fruit in the house.
A quintessential British summertime afternoon tea treat. Yum! 
Fondest fancies, 
Silver Whimsy x 
PS Coming to a Jester Festival near you soon! 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Back to Baking... Chocolate Chip Cookies (featuring alliteration)

Dearest Readers, 
Well, as promised I am back and baking!

This is a super-easy recipe for the super-softest-squidgiest-srcummiest (told ya there'd be alliteration) chocolate chip cookies on the planet. It's a fail safe recipe for one of those 'I desperately need something sweet and home made' moments, but when you don't completely fancy baking and icing a cake. 
That's the beauty of cookies; once they're made they're ready to be eaten. 

So. Without further a do, how to make Chocolate Chip Cookies in Six Simple Steps. 
(Are you enjoying the alliteration?)

The all important ingredients. 
What you need: 

100g best quality (pref Green & Blacks) dark chocolate or a mixture of dark and milk depending on how sweet you can take it! 
125g unsalted butter, gently melted
100g caster sugar
75g soft brown sugar
1 organic, free range egg
vanilla extract to taste (I use half a teaspoon)
150g plain flour]
1/2 a teaspoon of baking powder (preferably magic)
An oven at 180 (fan assisted, 190 not fan assisted)

Step One: Mise en place, mise en place, mise en place! 
Heat the oven, weigh out all your ingredients, melt the butter, line your baking sheets. 

This is my Magic Baking Powder. It was a WONDERFUL gift from a friend - it has TRANSFORMED my baking! 
Step Two: 
Weigh the sugars together and mix them up, add the melted butter and mix with a wooden spoon. It looks like this - don't be alarmed! It gets more attractive soon...

Step Three: Add the vanilla essence and egg to the sticky, fluid sugar and butter mixture and beat together with your wooden spoon. The mixture becomes thicker and glossier.       
                       Step Four: sieve the flour and baking powder together into the mixture and then fold in quickly with a large silver spoon until just mixed. The mixture will still be slightly sloppy. 

Step Five: add the chocolate chips to the mixture and stir together. (In this batch I used a mixture of milk and dark choc.) Spoon tablespoon fulls of the mixture onto your lined baking trays and put in the oven. 

I do recommend that you aim to make each cookie the same size, as this helps with the cooking process. 

Bake for 8-10 mins, but check after 8 as they turn very quickly. They're done when your kitchen smells of cookies and there is a slightly crackled sugary finish to the golden mouthfuls of delish. 

Cookies going in the oven...

 Step Six: Take out of the oven and move on to a wire rack to cool as soon as you can! This cooling tray belonged to my Grandma and I LOVE the fact that it has squares and sometimes makes a pattern on the bottom of biscuits (more alliteration).


Fondest regards,
Whimsy x

Amusing anecdote:
I once baked these cookies for newly moved-in neighbours and went to take them round on a Sunday mid-morning. They thought I was really weird and I kept repeating my name over and over again in embarrasment but never managed to work out what their names were. So I suggest when you bake them, you keeo them and eat them all yourself! 

Sunday, 10 June 2012

'full stop.' Brick Lane's finest!

Dearest Readers of Confessions,                
Well! It has been an age, has it not, and yet so much cake has been both baked and consumed over these months - what excuse could I possibly have for not keeping you up to date with all the latest in, ummm, cake-eating and coffee-drinking? Well, aside from Jubilantics with the SIBF which mostly consisted of using gold card and double-sided sticky-tape to transform our ever-suffering cat Princess Tildred of Cumberland into HRH (see photo below) I have been busily making cake for young people as of yet uninitiated in Whimsenomics which, incidentally, appears to have taken over Europe. 

But moving swiftly on... I have returned and today come with news of a fantastic and utterly unpretentious cafe on (be prepared for a shock)  Brick Lane! Yes! It is possible for a cafe thereabouts not to be pretentious and, indeed, to be deemed worthy of a review from Whimsy! 

 The SIBF and I were escaping the Jubilee (having re-enacted the flotilla at a friends suggestion by floating Tildred on a tray in the bath) by attending an amazing FRIENDS gig at Rough Trade. But the lure of cake was too much and, after much to-ing and fro-ing we stumbled upon FULL STOP., roughly mid-way down Brick Lane. How could we resist a beautiful black-board featuring the incantation below...?

 On entering 'full stop.' the first thing one must comment on is the beautiful de-marcation of space consisting of the gorgeous vintage conservatory feel of the area towards the shop-front and the rather more sultry, sofas n papers n your dream of a place you could hide from a torrential downpour if stuck in the middle of London, towards the back.

 I was rather taken with these divine roses,
and struck by the whimsical beauty of it all! 

The next fabulous thing about 'full stop.' is that they have four variations of hot chocolate on the menu! Dearest Readers! Thant is not one, not two, not three, but four different types. I may not be brilliant at maths, but I do know that that is approximately four times more sub-genres of hot chocolate than your archetypal cafe! We went for the straightforward 'milk chocolate' variant and, oh, the joy to Whimsy when it arrived in a small glass with perfectly formed creamy froth on top AND a LONG SPOON for better drinking, stirring and sipping!

We also ordered the 'FRESHLY BAKED!' banana loaf and I was pleased to be offered it toasted - a delightful proposition on such a miserable day. In honesty, whilst I *did* enjoy eating it, I also did find it rather peculiar but not in a bad way - just in a is this completely cooked/isn't it/how much cinnammon (sp?!) is in this/what is in this/how do you make a cake with a crust and a squidgy centre?! kind of way.

Well, with that it is time to say tootle-pip for now and also to give you advance warning that TSWCS 3.0 will be taking place this year on July 1st in the usual place... 
Until next time, I'll leave you with some Brick Lane Bunting! 
Fondest Fondant Fancies, 
Silver Whimsy x  
PS Why didn't I ever start up my website? I would surely have made a fortune by now!