Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Pain au chocolat

1lb Strong plain white flour
7g Sachet easy blend yeast
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
300ml Tepid water
10oz Butter
4oz Chocolate
Egg yolk

Mix together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Make a well in the centre, add the 
milk and 2oz butter cut into small pieces. Mix to a sticky dough and kneed on a 
floured surface for 2-3 mins.

Cover with cling film and leave until doubled in size. Knock back the dough, cover
 and leave to rise again. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1cm thick. Spread the
 remaining butter over two-thirds of the dough.

Fold the unbuttered third of the dough over the butter and remaining third on 
top. Press the edges gently together to seal the butter. Turn the dough 90 
degrees, roll out again and fold into thirds. Wrap and chill for one hour. Roll out 
the dough to 3mm thick. Trim the edges and cut each rectangle into 8 neat pieces. 
Lay the strips of chocolate side by side on each piece close to one end, working 
from this end, roll each piece into a loose sausage shape. Arrange on a lined baking
 tray. Cover with a cloth and leave to rise for one hour.

Preheat oven to 230C/450F/Gas 8. brush the tops of the pastries with beaten 
egg yolk and bake them for 3 mins. Reduce the temperature to 190C/375F/Gas 5
 and continue to bake for 15 mins.


Cheese scones

9oz Self raising flour
2oz Butter
Pinch of salt
6oz Cheese (grated)
150ml Milk
1 Egg yolk
Extra cheese to grate on top

Preheat oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.

Mix together the flour, butter, salt, cheese and milk until the dough comes into a ball.

Roll out your dough on a floured surface and using a round cutter, cut out 
some circles and place on your prepared baking trays. Whisk the egg yolk
and brush the tops of the circles with egg.

Grate some cheese and place a small amount on top of each circle.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 mins.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sunday fun

What exciting adventure did we get up too on a sunday well this week!

 CJ decided we should make pizzas

We had some McDougalls  pizza base mix you only add water so quick and easy
and you have your pizza dough.

Next out came the tomato puree to spread onto our pizza bases. 

Add some grated cheese 

Time to raid the fridge to see what exciting toppings we can add to our pizzas.
Pepperoni is always our fave topping and luckily we had some. 

We found some sausages too so we took them apart added some mixed herbs
 and garlic and for the grown ups some chilli powder added to them, make them 
into little balls and added those to the pizza. Bake in oven for 30 - 35 mins.

H.G.WELLS - Genius


Herbert George Wells was born on 21st September 1866 in the then small market 
town of Bromley in Kent. His father, Joseph Wells owned a small business in the town 
centre selling china ware and cricket bats. He was formerly a professional gardener
 and county cricketer, who was renowned for his fast paced bowling. But those days 
of leather against willow were cut short after he broke his leg. The house from where 
he ran his business was known as Atlas House, and the hub for family life was the 
cramped kitchen basement underneath the shop itself.

    Young Herbert was already showing great academic promise, but by the age of 
thirteen his family had broken up, forcing him to go out and earn his own living. By
 now his father was bankrupt and his mother had  gone off to become resident 
housekeeper at Uppark.A Sussex country house where she had been formally 
employed as a lady's maid before her marriage to Joseph.

     Herbert was taken out of school to follow his two older brothers into the drapery
 trade. After being briefly employed as a pupil-teacher and a pharmacist's assistant, in 
1881 he was given an apprenticeship to a large department store in Southsea, 
Hampshire. This was not a happy period in his life and he used the experiences in two
 future novels of his Kipps (1905) and The History of Mr Polly (1910).

    1883, Wells obtained a teaching assistant post at Midhurst Grammar School,Sussex
. It soon became apparent that H.G.Wells was a born teacher, as many of his books 
would show. He was taught biology and zoology by T.H.Huxley, a friend and supporter
 of Charles Darwin and one of the Victorian era's most influential scientific thinkers.

    In 1891 he married his cousin Isabel Wells,but it wasn't to last as they had very little 
and common and Wells fell in love with one of his students Amy Catherine Robbins. 
They started living together in 1893, and married two years later when his divorce 
came through.

    It was during his years as a biology teacher, that Herbert began to make his way into
 becoming a writer and a journalist. His first book was Textbook of Biology (1893). Ill 
health finally forced Herbert to retire from the teaching profession. By luck he was in 
high demand for writing short stories and humorous essays for the newspapers and 
magazines of the time.

 From his student days, Herbert had been working on and off on a story about time
 travel and a possible future for the human race. After many redrafts and a lot of
support from poet and editor W.E.Henley, The Time Machine (1895) was written 
and the success was instantaneous. While it was running as a magazine serial, 
 Wells was being called a 'man of genius'.  Now there was a ready market for his 
works of fiction: five novels were written between 1896-1901 including The 
Invisible man. The War of the Worlds and The First Men in the Moon.

      As the twentieth century began, Herbert George Wells was an established author 
both here and in America. His books were even being translated into Russian, French, 
German and Spanish and several other European languages.By now he had over taken 
French author Jules Verne in the popularity stakes. But Wells wanted to be more than
just boys' adventure novelist, and Love and Mr Lewisham (1900) was his first stab at 
realistic fiction, although with comic inclinations it reflected his own experiences as a 
student and as a teacher.

      Wells was a prophetic writer with a social and political message throughout his works.
His success as an author brought about great changes in his life, and ill health had forced 
him to leave London in exchange for the Kent coast in 1898. He had a house built 
overlooking the English channel at Sandgate.

     Ann Veronica (1909) was a prime example of controversial yet topical fiction, covering 
such issues as women's rights, sexual equality and contemporary morals.

       The Outline of History (1920) and A Short History of the World (1922) were written 
to draw attention to the lessons to be learned from the First World War. Wells saw history
 as a 'race between education and catastrophe'.

      The same concerns led to his future history novel The Shape of Things to Come (1933) 
which contained dire warnings about the inevitable outbreak and consequences of the 
Second World War.

    He worked for a brief spell for the Ministry of Propaganda in 1918, producing a memo
 on the aims of war  that would anticipate the setting up of the League of Nations.

      In 1922 and 1923 he stood for Parliament as a Labour candidate. He sought to try to
 influence world leaders including two American Presidents. He had two meetings in the 
Kremlin with Lenin in 1920 and later with Josef Stalin in 1934. Both were publicized on a
 global scale.

      1933 saw him elected as President of International PEN, the writers organization 
campaigning for intellectual freedom.It was the same year the Nazis publicly burnt his 
books and he was banned from visiting Fascist Italy.

     H.G.Wells became convinced that nothing less than global unity would be needed if 
humanity was not to destroy itself. In several of his books he outlined his theories of world 
citizenship and a world government.

      As the Second World War dawned, Wells felt that his warnings had gone unheeded 
and his efforts for peace were nothing more than a failure.His last great campaign for 
international support, was for Human rights.The proposal, set out in his Penguin special The
 Rights of Man (1940) helped to bring about the United Nations declaration of 1948.His 
last book Mind at the End of its Tether (1945) was a despairing bleak work in its prospects
 for the future of mankind.

    H.G.Wells died at Hanover Terrace on 13th August 1946. In total he had written some
 150 books and pamphlets.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Gingerbread cupcakes

250g Butter
150g Soft dark brown sugar
3 Eggs
150g Self raising flour
1 tsp Ground ginger
tsp Ground cinnamon
½ Pinch nutmeg
1 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 180C/ Gas 4. Prepare 12 cupcake cases in a cupcake tray.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

Gradually mix the eggs into the butter mixture alternating with flour. Add the 
remaining flour, spices and milk and stir well.

Divide the mixture between the 12 cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 mins 
or until springy to the touch.

Vanilla M & M cupcakes

4oz Butter
4oz Caster sugar
4oz Self raising flour
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla extract
M & M's

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Prepare 12 cake cases in a cupcake tin

Whisk the butter and sugar until of a creamy texture. Add 1 egg and 1 spoonful
 of flour mixing well, repeat with the other egg. Add the remaining flour and stir 
well. Fold in the M & M's. 

Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases and bake in the oven for
15-20 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Custard tart

Pastry Ingredients
225g Plain flour
Zest of 1 lemon
150g Butter
1 Egg + 1 yolk
Pinch of salt

Rub the flour, salt, lemon zest and butter together until it forms fine crumbs. 
Gradually stir in the egg and yolk to form a soft, but not sticky, dough.  
Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 170C/Gas 3. Roll out the dough and use a 20cm deep flan tin,
Line with baking parchment and baking beans and bake blind for 10 mins or until
pale golden and beginning to set. Remove the lining and bake for a further 5 mins.
Leave to cool.

Filling Ingredients
9 Egg yolks
85g Caster sugar
500ml double cream

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Pour in the cream, then pass through
a sieve into a pan. Set over a low heat and heat to 38C on a thermometer.
Pour into the tart case and bake on 130C/Gas 1 for 40 mins or until the 
custard has set, with a slight wobble to the centre. Dust the surface with 
nutmeg and leave to cool.


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Lord of the Flies by William Golding Review

Written in the 1950's this book does make a compelling read.An Atomic War. 
An aircraft carrying children from English Public Schools away from the war is
 shot down by enemy fire somewhere over the Pacific.

   The children ages 6-12yrs find themselves stranded and abandoned on an 
unpopulated tropical island without any adult supervision. The environment 
on this tropical paradise doesn't really pose as a real challenge for the boys,
due to the abundance of fruit, nuts,flowers and plenty of fresh water as well 
as a generally warm stable climate.

   At first the boys try to keep a sense of reason and order while at the same
 time have some fun before they are rescued by the adults.Ralph and another
 boy nick name "Piggy" are two of the central characters who have a constant
 sense of logic and reason throughout the book and their main priority is to 
build a fire on the highest point of the island hoping that a passing ship will see
 the smoke and come to their rescue, and to keep the fire alight.

   Ralph is appointed as leader of the boys through a democratic vote, 
however Jack another older boy with an instant dislike for 'Piggy' doesn't like 
not being the leader. So he forms a hunting party as there are wild pigs on the
 island. To kill a pig will give them meat.

   Eventually Jack and his followers split from Ralph and the others and soon 
become obsessed with hunting and killing and the ritual they create around the
 kill. This will lead to the accidental death of one boy and the deliberate death
 of another and the attempted murder of Ralph.

   Ralph's life is only saved from the 'savages' by the timely arrival of a passing
 ship who saw the smoke and came to investigate.

   The book while being an adventure story does also explore the darker side
 of humanity and leaves much to be discussed and debated.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Olympic Torch

Well it finally happened! 

The Olympic torch relay finally came to us today bringing with it a little bit of 
colour to an otherwise bleak and very grey day. The route actually came right 
past our front door.

 I was lucky enough to get my photo taken with one of the torch bearers while
 he waited for the other guy who was actually carrying the flame to catch up!

There was a small convoy of vehicles with entertainment on board to keep the crowds
 in good spirits too. As well as a Police escort to clear the way.

Chocolate & orangeade layer cake

12oz Self raising flour
12oz Butter
12oz Caster sugar
6 eggs
1oz Cocoa powder
200g Plain chocolate

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. line and grease three 6 inch cake tins.

Whisk the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add 1 egg and a spoonful of flour and mix well, repeat with the remaining eggs.
Add the remaining flour, cocoa powder and chocolate and mix well.

Divide the mixture equally between your 3 prepared tins and bake in the oven for
30-35 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre come out clean. when cooked
 leave to stand for 10 mins before turning out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Orangeade icing Ingredients
8oz cream cheese
5floz Orangeade
4oz Butter (Trex)
1.9lb Icing sugar

Cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy then add the orangeade
and icing sugar and whisk until of a creamy texture.

Spread some of the icing over the top of one cake.

Place another cake on top of the iced surface and ice the top of this cake then put the
 remaining cake on the top

Cover the outside and top with the remaining icing.

Decorate with grated chocolate we used Orange Aero


Monday, 16 July 2012

Chocolate chip cookie dough brownies

Brownie Ingredients
5oz White chocolate
80g Butter
50g Sugar
100g Light brown sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla extract
120g Plain flour
¼ tbsp Baking powder
¼ tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease a 8 inch x 8 inch cake tin.

In a saucepan gently heat the butter and chocolate stirring constantly until smooth. 

Remove from then heat and stir in the sugars.

Whisk the eggs and vanilla and add to the saucepan mixture stirring until smooth. 
Add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir until it has just incorporated. Pour 
into your prepared tin

Bake for 25-30 mins until a skewer when inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Transfer tin to a wire rack to cool.

Ingredients cookie dough
60g Butter
2 tbsp Sugar
50g Light brown sugar
1 tbsp Milk
60g Flour
Pinch salt
100g White chocolate chips

Beat together the butter and a sugar until fluffy, add milk and vanilla and mix well.
Add flour and salt and mix until incorporated. Stir in the white chocolate chips.

Spread the cookie mixture evenly on top of the brownie. Decorate with melted
 white chocolate. Put in the fridge for 30 mins or until set. 


Cut into individual size pieces to serve.


Saturday, 14 July 2012

White chocolate layer cake

330g Plain flour
1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp Salt
225g Butter
450g Caster sugar
225ml Buttermilk
2 tsp Vanilla extract
6 Egg whites
1 tsp Cream of tartar 

Preheat oven to 180C.350F/Gas 4 and grease and line 3 6 inch cake tins.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.

Beat the butter with 330g sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add a little 
flour at a time to the mixture alternating with the buttermilk and beating well after
 each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

Whisk the egg whites in a bowl with an electric mixer until foamy. Add the cream of 
tartar and whisk to form soft peaks. Gradually whisk in the remaining sugar, until stiff.

Gently fold the egg mixture into the flour. Pour the mixture into the three cake tins 
making sure to divide it evenly. Bake for 30-35 mins or until a skewer inserted into
 the centre comes out cleanly. Cool in the tins for 10 mins before turning out onto
 a cooling rack to cool.

Icing Ingredients
350g White chocolate
675g cream cheese
75g Butter (Trex)
1 tsp Vanilla extract
750g Icing sugar

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from 
the heat and cool until lukewarm.

Whisk the cream cheese, butter and vanilla into the melted chocolate with an electric 
whisk until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and whisk until smooth and thick.

Sandwich the cakes together using the white chocolate filling.

Then using the rest of the chocolate filling spread over the rest of the cake.

To decorate use a vegetable peeler to scrape thin curls from chocolate 
and place on the cake.


Chocolate cake

6oz Butter
6oz Caster sugar
3 eggs
3 tbsp Golden syrup
8oz Self raising flour
1½oz Cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 18C/350F/Gas 4. Line and grease two 6 inch cake tins

Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and whisk to a creamy texture.

Gradually beat in the eggs. Stir in the syrup. Sift the flour and cocoa powder in a bowl, 
then fold into mixture. Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared cake tins and bake
 for 30-35 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Leave for 5 mins before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool.

Icing Ingredients
600g Chocolate cream cheese
230g Icing sugar
120g Trex (Butter)

Combine all ingredients to of a fluffy consistency.

Spread your icing evenly on top of one of the cakes and place the other on top.

Cover the rest of the cake with the remaining icing evenly and decorate with sweets.