Week One Hundred & Seven-Mary Berry’s Nusskuchen & Jumbles

Week 107 and yes- I know- I am late again with the blog but today I am doing both last week’s and this weeks so will catch up so you get two for one today! I will get into the swing of this blogging again! I delved into Mary Berry’s Baking Bible looking for a birthday cake for my chief taster ( dad-in-law) and saw the Nusskuchen which is a german nut cake-perfect! The other recipe I found was Mary’s jumble biscuits.

Mary Berry's Nusskuchen

I started with the Nussskuchen cake which was quite a fiddly sponge. I had to roast the hazelnuts to remove the skins and then crush them to add to the sponge which had various stages to it. I roasted the hazelnuts and then followed Mary’s instructions to roll them together in a tea towel to remove the skins. What I hadn’t mentioned was that just before Christmas while walking my hairy hoolies on a street walk, my big lad suddenly ran across in front of me and I fell- the classic fall onto both knees and both hands and grazed my nose. I dented my ego , skinned my knees and had sore hands but picked my self up and finished the walk.

dog walking

 

I didn’t realise how much i had hurt myself until a week or two later when i was struggling to hold things in my right hand and it really hurt when  I rotated the wrist. I had it x-rayed but no break thank goodness but strained or pulled ligaments and advised to keep the thumb/wrist strapped to help it heal. This has proved to be good except for baking and removing the skins from the hazelnuts really hurt! Mary asks you to beat the sugar and butter together, beat in the egg yolks and stir in the crushed hazelnuts. Mary then asks you to dissolve a spoonful of coffee in some warm milk and add it to the mix, then fold in the flour. Mary then asks you to whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until light and fluffy then fold this into the other mix.  Put this mix into a 20cm tin and bake.

What Mary then says is that while this cake is baking, prepare the filling. Peel , core and slice some baking apples and put them in a pan with some apricot jam, lemon juice an rind and cook slowly until the apples are soft but retain their shape. Leave to cool. At this point, all was ok and I was on track. I took the sponge out of the oven and took it out of the tin. At this point I realised I had a problem. Mary asks you to cut the sponge in half. I want to know how I can do this with such a thin sponge so i did the only thing I could think of, I made another sponge- and yes, I  had to roast more hazelnuts and then remove their skins- OUCH!!! the things I do for love!

Kim's Nusskuchen sponges

 

sore hand

Finally I had 2 sponges, I added the apple and some cream to the middle and melted some chocolate for the topping with some chocolate buttons to make it a birthday cake.PHEW!

Kim's Nusskuchen cake

The second recipe was Mary Berry’s jumbles biscuits. This was an easy dough to make, one of Mary’s throw all the ingredients in a bowl and mix.

Mary Berry's Jumbles

Mary then asks you to divide the dough into 32 pieces.  As my hand was sore, i divided mine into 16 and made my biscuits a little larger. Mary suggests making the biscuits into the shape of the letter S. I did play with the idea of making them into various initials but stuck with the S shapes as it was easiest on my poor hand.

Kim's jumbles

When you read the blog, it must seem like we lurch from one accident, incident or operation to the next- sometimes it does seem like that!

I

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Week One Hundred & Six – Mary Berry’s Sticky Apricot Pudding

Week 106 and already I am behind with my blog, so much for New Year good intentions! As I have mentioned before, we still had a lot of goodies left over from Christmas and so when I dipped into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible I went hunting for a pudding that could be eaten quickly and the sticky apricot pudding seemed to fit the bill. I had actually planned to make this before Christmas but I didn’t get around to it.

Mary Berry's Sticky Apricot Pudding

This recipe was a lovely one to begin the new year. It basically involved a cake mix which was a Mary special- throw all the ingredients together and mix, pour into a pudding tin and lay the apricots on top and then pour over the melted butter and then sprinkle demerara sugar over the top. Bake in the oven for about half an hour until , in Mary’s words it becomes caramelized and brown. Mary suggests you eat it while its still warm with either cream or custard. We had a slice on its own and it was delicious.

Kims sticky apricot pudding

Our hairy hoolie who gave us such stress with his unexpected torsion and emergency operation just before Christmas is well on the road to a full recovery. This was a massive relief to us, this photo below was when we had just collected him on Christmas Eve and he was still really sleepy from the anesthetic and the painkilling drugs but having him alive and back with us. was the best Christmas present we could have had!

poorly hairy hoolie

A few people have been asking for clearer pictures of the stable I made for my nativity characters, if you re-visit that blog entry, I have added some more photos for you that show more of the detail.

It’s been a funny old year!!!!

Isn’t it funny, we get to every New Year’s Eve and wish each other a happy new year and then say “Let’s hope this year is better than the last….” Well you’ve got 365 days in which to try and ensure that it IS better than the last, but ultimately something has probably happened within the year that makes us say that same sentence year in, year out…. Well in our case, I really do hope that 2015 is better than the last few years!!!

The start of 2014 was thankfully quiet and just like any other, until we got to Easter and Kim having to go in for yet more surgery, but thankfully it was all successful and it’s benefits are slowly being felt.

The summer was pretty uneventful and just enjoyed the many hot days that we had, although some of them were a little too hot for our two long haired German Shepherds who were happy to lay in the lounge in front of two fans blowing at full tilt.

Then we got into Autumn and a visit to my mother-in-law (Kim’s mum) which was hot and I do mean HOT!!! That’s what happens when you end up dropping a freshly boiled kettle and cooking yourself; A whole new meaning to boil in the bag, but thankfully after a visit to a couple of burns units and a month of pain, I have healed incredibly well and didn’t require any skin grafting, thank god.

Before I come to more recent times, I’m sure a few readers have thought how come their blog is called Lullingstone Photography when the majority of posts are about Kim’s baking? Well just like people, a blog grows and develops over time and in fact can end up becoming quite a different entity to what you first envisaged. The same is true for our blog and this year I plan on splitting our blog so that one can concentrate on Kim’s baking and non photographic posts whilst the other is purely about photography. This does mean though that I actually need to get my camera out, dust it off and start shooting more images. If truth be told, I can’t remember the last time I actually pressed the shutter and have spent a good part of the year learning, in depth, Photoshop CC and finally getting to grips with Adobe Lightroom. It’s been a year of learning and the majority of the photographs that I have actually put through post production have been Kim’s work, so I look forward to the next 12 months and actually seeing what I can do.

Now I come to the end of 2014!!! We normally alternate each Christmas between staying at home or going and spending Christmas with Kim’s mum. This year it was the turn of Kim’s mum and so we departed for Somerset on the Tuesday before Christmas. After a very smooth and uneventful run down it was inevitable for us that something was going to happen and it most certainly did when we pulled up outside the house and I couldn’t get out the car!!!! It had nothing to do with mother-in-law jokes or not wanting to be there, but because my back had gone and I just couldn’t move OUCH!!! After taking some pain relief and giving plenty of time for it to work, we had the choice of either leaving me in the car over Christmas or having to call for an ambulance. Even my dear wife agreed that we should opt for the latter!!! LOL. So I get carted off to A&E and given some tablets as apparently falling down a flight of stairs on your back three months earlier can actually bruise your coccyx and there is nothing that can be done about that.

So I’m finally home and in my mother-in-law house and we’re ready to celebrate Christmas…. Yippee!!! HOLD ON, don’t be pleased for us just yet…. So I’ve been home a few hours and our two German Shepherds have been fed and we’re all sitting chatting and watching TV, when our dogs ask to go in the garden to the loo. It’s at this point I realise that my big lad isn’t at all right and behaving very oddly.

He was trying to vomit but producing nothing and his stomach was distended and rock hard. Thankfully Kim and I knew he had all the signs of a Gastric Torsion (GDV) / bloat (click here for information on torsions) and immediately contacted an emergency vet. Eight minutes later and he’s seeing this lovely lady vet, Beth Hayman at Delaware Veterinary Group, who examines him and with ultrasound confirms what we suspected. We will do a separate post about gastric torsions over the next month once I’ve done further research. In short, Beth gets him into theatre and starts emergency surgery. Whilst it was cold and dark outside, Kim and I sat together in the empty waiting room tears a plenty and just praying for him to be ok. After the longest hour of our lives, we got the best news ever… Our hairy hoolie had survived the operation and was, snoring his head off in a recovery crate!!!! Beth Hayman was amazing and kept us updated every step of the way.

Since then we have kept a very close eye on him as one of us has been with him at all times, even throughout the night we take it in turns at utilising our veterinary nursing skills!!! LOL.

So tomorrow is 10 days post-op and so the fun can begin as his usual vet will have the pleasure in removing his sutures which will most definitely be fun…. I wish his usual vet the utmost luck, she’s going to need it!!!!

It’s times like this that we appreciate our friends and family more; Our dogs are most definitely family to us. That being said, that one night at a veterinary practice in Somerset sadly made me realise one thing, how I’m going to feel the day I lose my big lad, how much it’s going to hit me and what on earth am I going to do without him? Thankfully that event has been put back for, what I hope will be, a good few years yet.

We’ve been through a lot over our time together, but we face everything together and our love strengthens and deepens. What’s the old saying about things making one stronger?

Kim will do a separate end of year baking blog shortly as I’m most definitely NOT qualified to do that on her behalf. We are not sure when the next bake will be seeing we are still munching our way through chocolates, Christmas pudding and Christmas cake!!!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has visited our blog and read our posts over the past twelve months…. With your help, you have all made 2014 the most successful yet with some 47,000 views…. WOW!!!

We wish you all a VERY Happy and Prosperous New Year and may 2015 be a great year for you all….

Week One Hundred & Five – Mary Berry’s Pineapple & Cherry Cake

Week 105 and this blog is a little late- nothing new as this time of year brings other pressures! I delved with pleasure into Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and came up with this lovely tea loaf type bake. The recipe was one of Mary’s throw all the ingredients together and mix. The only tricky bit was washing the syrup off the cherries, cutting them into quarters and drying them. The pineapple came out of a tin. I  mixed it all together, lined a loaf tin with a liner from the 99p shop and put it in the oven and set the timer.

Mary Berry's Pineapple & Cherry Loaf

When the timer pinged, I checked the loaf and the skewer test came out clean. I left it to cool in the tin. I took my photo then cut it in half and sent half to the chief testers. Mary does tell you to keep it in the fridge as it will go moldy in a tin in a warm kitchen.

Kim's pineapple & cherry loaf

I can now reveal my finished Christmas cakes as those who are getting them should have received them by now so here are some photos of the mini victorian christmas cakes in the boxes I found in the £ shop and the tiny christmas cakes I made in the silicone moulds and then sandwiched together with marzipan and iced. I didn’t get these boxes from the £ shop but on ebay. I had such fun printing our labels too but my kitchen up until this weekend looked like an Elf factory!

Christmas cake gift Kim's victorian christmas cake

 

Kim's packaging Kim's mini christmas cakes

Well hubby and I will do a seasonal blog shortly but from kimsideas, I would like to wish you all season’s greetings for this time of year.

seasons greetings

I hope for all those of you who celebrate that you don’t end up spending pretty much all of one day wrapping as I did this year- I can’t help it- I love wrapping the presents and making them look pretty but is it exhausting!

stressy wrapping!

Week One Hundred & Four- Mary Berry’s Tiny Fruit Cakes & Victorian Christmas Cake

Week 104 and this week was a feat of organisation -for my annual Christmas cake bake fest! I dipped into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible and found the final two christmas type cake recipes and I started on Friday night weighing out all the fruit and soaking it in various alcohols including brandy and port!

On Saturday morning, I took the two hairy hoolies to the park while the ground was still frosty so I didn’t bring them back too wet and  muddy and then rolled up my sleeves and set off. In the kitchen I have an old CD player and my Cd of choice for baking for the last few months has been Robbie Wiliams “swing both ways” and this week was no exception. I just love this CD and find myself dancing and singing while baking, much to the amusement of the hairy hoolies and my hubby! Any how, back to the bake. I started with Mary Berry’s tiny fruit cakes, and made 4 x the amount Mary states in her recipe as each year I make christmas cakes as gifts. Once the fruit had been soaked, Mary asks you to put all the rest of the ingredients in and mix it all together.

Mary Berry's tiny fruit cakes

Mary suggests you use small cake tins or used baked bean tins but as I already had something in mind, I used two silicone moulds to put the cake mix in …but can’t tell you much more at the moment as they will become presents but I will take pictures and reveal all after Christmas.

Kim's tiny fruit cakes

The second recipe I used was Mary Berry’s Victorian Christmas Cake which again was an all in one recipe and I used 2 small spring form cake tins instead of the one larger one that Mary suggests. The difference with this recipe is that it involves pineapple in the cake which is unusual. This recipe made four small cakes …and again, sorry but photos to follow after christmas!

Mary Berry's Victorian Christmas Cake

We had to phone the chief tester to inform him that there was no bake this week for testing, the reaction was hilarious!

sulking

I have watched this year’s “I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here” avidly. It’s my guilty pleasure and great fun to watch. I must say that I was pleased that Jake and Foggy were the final two and I didn’t mind who won  as I was pleased for them both! I don’t  watch the X Factor so I didn’t know who Jake was but he came across as a lovely guy who was very thoughtful. I had heard of Carl Fogerty and he was more patient than I imagined.

I also had time this weekend between batches of cake making to put up  my christmas decorations. Our tree is always decorated with ornaments that we have collected over the time hubby and I have been together and we always buy a new one each year. This year it was a mini rolling pin to celebrate my ongoing baking challenge! On my mantelpiece I always have a little nativity scene which is a little set given to me one christmas by my mum and dad and it came from Woolworths way before it closed when you could get some amazing things all under one roof! For a while now, I had wanted a stable for my nativity figures but every one I found was either way too big or way too expensive so I decided to make one myself….. I don’t think I did too bad a job!

Kim's stableinterior stable viewbasic stable viewside stable viewStable viewKim's stable

Week One Hundred & Three- Mary Berry’s American Spiced Carrot Traybake

Week 103 here already, it only seems like 2 minutes of so since my last blog (in fact it was only that long as I have been behind in blogs and so am trying to catch up!)

As I had some of the Borrowdale Teabread left from last week, I decided to only do one bake this week and next week’s bakes will be shh -christmas cakes (!) so I delved into Mary Berry
‘s Baking Bible and found this delightful sounding recipe for American Spiced Carrot Traybake.

Mary Berry's American Spiced Carrot Traybake

Mary asks you to weigh out all the dry ingredients first which I did and then add each of the wet ingredients one at a time and mix well in between. I used my trusty food processor for this and it did a great job.

The hairy hoolies were most attentive while I was grating the carrots as carrots are one of their most favourite treats – and yes, they got the end bits that i didn’t grate ! I mixed the wet ingredients one at a time and then poured the mix into a tray bake tin ( Lakeland- my favourite shop- don’t think I have mentioned that before?!) I then popped this in the oven and left it to bake for an hour.

When the pinger went I got the traybake out and it smelled lovely. I left it to cool for a short while then transferred it to a cooling rack.

The topping was soft cheese, honey and lemon juice with chopped nuts on the top. I must admit that carrot cake is one of my favourite cakes and Mary’s twist on americanising this is lovely.

Kim's American Spiced Carrot Traybake

It will be all hands to deck next week as I have big plans to cook all my christmas cakes and put up the decorations so it will be very festive in our house next week!

christmas stress

Week Sixty Three – Mary Berry’s Date & Cherry Butter Bars

After a few weeks of not baking for my challenge of baking every recipe in Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible, it felt a little strange to get her book out again and look for something easy to ease myself back into this. This recipe is one of her tray bakes and as I had cherries and dates left over from Christmas baking , it seemed like a good one to re start the challenge.

Mary Berry's Date & Cherry Butter Bars

Mary asks you to rub the butter into the flour to make breadcrumb like texture, then add the chopped cherries and dates, some caster sugar and an egg. Bring it all together into a dough like ball and press it into a tray bake tin. Place it in a pre warmed oven for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, mark it into bars with a sharp knife and return it to the oven for another 10 minutes or until the bars are a lovely golden colour. Score through the bars again and allow to cool in the tin.

Kim's Date & Cherry Butter Bars

Once cool, keep in an airtight tin.

A quick and easy to get me back in the Mary Berry challenge saddle!