Friday 27 September 2013

Ready, Steady, Bake!

It can all start with a simple Victoria sponge...
When I was child my Nan would always bake me a birthday cake which would be the centre piece of my birthday party tea. I remember the shocking pink ballerina cake which was a construction worthy of an architectural award. On Christmas Eve there would be a mad midnight making of royal icing in order to form the perfect snowy peaks on the rich fruit cake. This would be accessorized with toppers dating from when my Mum and Uncle were children.

Cake decorations from across the years.
For school fairs there would be the chocolate loaf cakes topped with chocolate ganache, glacé cherries and walnuts. I have never found the recipe for this wonderful treat. The most controversial bake my Nan was famous for was the jam butties she made especially for day trips and holidays. Shortcrust pastry filled with jam with pastry lid – what's not to like? Apparently I was the only member of the family who liked them.

Always a favourite of mine - homemade pastry treats.
By the time I had left for university I had already amassed a number of recipes to take with me only to find upon my arrival at the halls of residence that the kitchens contained no ovens, just a hob and a microwave. It seems that the students were rather forgetful about turning off the ovens which resulted in a number of blow-outs. Three years of living in halls and I never got near an oven once.
The original university recipe folder with microwave pudding instructions.
So why all this nostalgia? It seems many of have fallen for the simple pleasure of home baking inspired by BBC2's Great British Bake Off. Now in its fourth series each week over 5 million viewers tune in to the watch the contestants battle it through their signature bakes, technical challenges and show-stoppers while risking disaster through under-proving bread or the dreaded soggy bottom.

We can't get enough of The Great British Bake Off, its judges and winners.
Once you've gathered together a selection of tins and utensils home baking becomes far cheaper than buying massed produced shop products. If you are going to make some gorgeous looking cakes you may as well use some great looking accessories and storage. For that essential retro feel check out Tala's 1960's inspired vintage range. With such pretty styling you won't be wanting to push them to the back of the kitchen cupboard.

You can find these Tala products plus more on the Handy Household website. Images used with permission of Handy Household.
Cooking from scratch means you know exactly what is going into your recipe. Cupcakes can be made from just the four basic ingredients of sugar, flour, butter and eggs. Adding your own flavourings is all part of the pleasure in both the creating and eating. Shopping for clothes may give you an thrill but the same can't be said for buying a packet of long-dated cake slices. It's no surprise that an old estate agents' trick to make your house seem more homely and therefore more sell-able is to have your home smelling of baking. 

One of the best smells in the world! Freshly baked bread.
So are you new to baking, starting over after a long break or is it something that you have always done? One thing's for sure – it's time to bake!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Handy Household. The views, words and opinions are my own.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

What's for Lunch? 5 Ways with Ryvita

A 'lunch' of Ryvitas
White bread sandwich or brown bread sandwich? Life doesn't have to be that dull but most days the inspiration to keep thinking up something new and tasty for lunch is a struggle. So I was rather pleased when Ryvita sent me a selection of their crisp and flat breads for me to try. As some of you may know I'm a fan of lunch items that have a long shelf life which means when making up a lunch box in the morning you are not faced with the dreaded mouldy or lack of bread situation.

My package of goodies included a toppings ideas sheet which I promptly tossed to one side so I wouldn't be influenced. Apologies if there are any duplications but here are my top five fridge raids for a tasty and quick lunch.

Original Crackerbread

Upon first inspection these do resemble cardboard but the benefit of their neutral taste is that you can jazz them up with sweet or savoury toppings. A particular favourite has been Brussels Pâté and cucumber.

Multigrain Crispbread

This is probably more what people usually think Ryvita is. It's a great base for any lunchtime topping and will take a number of strong flavours. I found some extra mature cheddar and potato salad plus some fresh chives to put on top.

Crackled Black Pepper Crispbread

It says it's Crackled Black Pepper and that's certainly what you get! This one has a bit of a kick to it. To tone it down I used some thin ham and cooling coleslaw.

Sweet Chilli Flatbread Thins

On the packet there is a picture of two red chillies with good reason as these really do breathe some fire into your throat. As an alternative to bread soldiers I had them with boiled eggs.

Multi-Seed Flatbread Thins

These have a slightly usually taste due to the mix of hemp, brown linseed, golden linseed and millet seeds. Good for smothering with cream cheese mixed with basil.

So five different types of Ryvita with five no fuss ways to eat them. All of the family have been eating these and none have been rejected, which is as good as endorsement a product can get.

Ryvita sent me the above packets for free. No payment was made for this post and the views and opinions are my own.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Clarks Honey Giveaway - Closed


I don't mind admitting that in my kitchen cupboards there are a large number of jars and packets all waiting to be made into something delicious. One item I always make sure I have is a jar of runny honey. From making marinades to baking cakes and drizzling over peaches a jar of runny honey is an essential standby ingredient. For this reason I am delighted to be able three readers a chance to win a jar of Clarks Honey.
Clarks are a fairly new name to the UK honey market but have worked hard to develop a blend that contains British honey but also keeps runny for all those cooking needs. If you think you recognize Clarks on your supermarket shelves it's probably because of their ever popular range of Maple Syrups.

How to enter

Entry via blog comment is mandatory if you don't comment then you haven't entered.
All other entry methods are optional but they will increase your chances of winning.
All entries will be verified so please do not click to say you have tweeted etc if you haven't as your entry will not count.
You can gain a bonus entry every day by tweeting about the giveaway.
There are 3 prizes available which is 1 Jar of Clarks Honey (340g) for each of the three winners frm Clarks Honey.
The giveaway is open to UK residents only.
The giveaway will close at 12:00am Wednesday 2nd October 2013.
The winner will be contacted via email by JibberJabberUK and the prize will be sent to you from Clarks Honey. 
The winner will be chosen using the Rafflecopter random number generator.
If you haven't used Rafflecopter before then please watch this quick video.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am running this giveaway on behalf of Clarks Honey. No payment was received and opinions are my own.