Italian Home Baking by Gino D'Acampo (a book over view)

Just a few words on a new book! I have been looking at Gino's books for a while and wasn't sure which one to get if any. Then he came out with a baking book. Well timed* as baking has become popular!

This book is mostly bread, but that is a good thing. I was drooling just thinking of home made bread dipped in olive oil and vinegar!

When my friend Ricki and I used to make weekend trips to the twin cities^ we'd always go to the Minneapolis Art Institute. ^^ The cafe' was as expected over priced, but worth it! We'd get a sandwich a side of bread to dip in our olive oil and vinegar and for dessert it was a must to have crème' burlee.

It was where I had my first ever crème' burlee. I probably should have saved this story for when I make crème' brulee for the first time, but this book is what brought on this memory so here it is.

This book has some sweet stuff, but it is mostly savory which sets it apart from my other bakery books. I can’t wait to share with everyone what I make from it!

*I say it is more then a coincidence
^Minneapolis/St. Paul

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake!!

taken from Tea with Bea by Bea Vo

Pre-heat the oven to 125*C/240*F/gas 1

for the base:
600g gingernut biscuits/cookies
75g-100g unsalted butter, melted

Turn the cookies into fine crumbs. There are numerous ways to do this: putting in a bag and smashing with a rolling pin (very therapeutic) or the way I did in a food processor!
Add the melted butter slowly. The amount will vary. Test by squeezing a bit in your hand making a ball, then releasing your hand. The mixture should hold it’s shape, but fall apart when slightly touched. Add more butter or crumb depending on your results. Too buttery and it’ll be too hard, not enough it will disappear into the cheesecake!
Press down into your prepared cake tin (25cm/10in cake pan greased and base lined)

for the cheesecake
100g/ ½ cup caster/superfine sugar
110g/ ½ cup dark brown soft sugar
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground all spice
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
700g/1lb. 9oz cream cheese
3 eggs
3 tbsp whipping cream
2 tbsp Bourbon
425g/15oz can of pumpkin puree

Put the sugar, all the spices and the vanilla extract into a large mixing bowl and stir until combined. Beat in the cream cheese until sugar is dissolved.
Add the eggs one at a time beating slowly but thoroughly until adding the next.
Stir in the whipping cream and Bourbon. Fold in the pumpkin puree until well combined.
Pour into prepared tin with gingernut crust and bake for 1 hour until the middle is slightly jiggly and the top doesn’t look shiny or wet any more.
When done remove from oven and cool at room temperature for 1 hour before putting in the fridge over night.
Remove cheesecake from cake tin and prepare to top!! 

for the topping
300ml/1 1/3 cups whipping cream
60g/2/3 cup icing/confectioner’s sugar
75g/3oz. crystallized ginger, chopped
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted

Put the cream and icing sugar in a bowl and whisk to soft peaks, easier done with an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, but an electric whisk would do the job!
Spread the whipped cream casually over the cheesecake and top with ginger and pumpkin seeds!!

As you can see I didn’t have any crystallized ginger so I just used pumpkin seeds, un-toasted pumpkin seeds. Oops. I didn’t check with the book after baking. It would have been way better toasted! I used some caramel (canned) to top it off as well!

As you’ll also notice, by the pictures, I don’t own an 10in cake pan so I made 2x8inch ones. I think it would have been better as one thick cheesecake, but this was good too!! I need to expand my tins and pans and baking sheets.
It’s the first recipe I’ve made from Bea’s and I’m not disappointed. There are so many gorgeous looking cakes in this book that I don’t know where to start. With the holiday season upon us I’m going to try and get some Christmas themed treats out before hand! A few ideas: peppermint brownies, eggnog cupcakes and gingerbread cookies! I also have at least 3 birthday cakes to make in the next 3 weeks! I’m going to be busy! It is that time of year!!

Savory Muffins: Polenta and Cheese!!

taken from 100 Magnificent Muffins & Scones by Felicity Barnum-Bobb

150g/6oz plain flour
150g/6oz polenta/corn meal
2 tsp golden caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp coarsely ground black peppercorns
50g/2oz Parmesan Cheese, grated
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
225ml/8fl oz skimmed milk
60ml/4 tbsp light olive oil

  1. Pre-heat oven 220*C/475*F/gas 7
  2. Dry whisk the flour, polenta, sugar, salt, baking powder, and ground peppercorns…. basically all the dry ingredients
  3. Add 25g of the Parmesan cheese the rest will be used as topping
  4. Mix the eggs, milk and olive oil with a fork.
  5. Pour wet into dry and gently stir to combine.
  6. Divide equally into 6-9 muffin cases and top with remaining cheese.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes until well risen and firm

These turned out really good!! I timed it perfectly and put them straight in after the chicken came out. They really need to be eaten warm. I tried one the next day and it wasn’t so great. Most muffins need to be eaten on the day! They did stick to the casing so this may be a time I recommend silicone muffin case.
You may be thinking my Thanksgiving plate might be looking a bit on the skinny side, first off I am on a diet, second the plates are bigger then normal plates and last I had seconds! ;0) Tomorrow I'll be posting the best part dessert!! Pumpkin Cheesecake!

Cake Pans for Kids

I picked up some of these fun cake tins at Dunhelm for 99p each! Bargain! You can always get them online! (no longer available online) Can't wait to make some cakes with my Mini Baker's. We have the dog, elephant, lion and frog! I should go back and get the monkey and maybe the train or all of them! ;0)

Happy Thanksgiving!!

It's an odd sort of holiday.^ I mean making peace with the Native Americans, but it wasn't really such a good deal for them was it?* But it's in the past so what we have is an excuse to eat a lot!! It’s supposed to be a day when we are grateful/thankful for the good things in our lives.

When I was little I hated it when people suggested we say what we're thankful for out loud because I never said anything that wasn't generic. The food on the table, family, friends etc... Now as an adult there are numerous things I can say I am truly grateful/thankful for. Yet, they are still pretty much generic. I'm thankful for all my loved ones, especially my two healthy kids and my husband who provides for us. I'm thankful that we can afford to have a thanksgiving dinner. Financial wise things might be tight sometimes, but we've never gone with out our basic necessities- food, clothes, or shelter. For that I am extremely thankful.

So, today even though I am living abroad in the United Kingdom I am making a Thanksgiving Dinner. It's going to be a little lighter as we'll be eating at 6 o'clock!! It's not a day off here!

Our Menu:
Beer Butt Chicken (taken from Jaime's America)
Sweet Potato Mash
Steamed Veg
Polenta and Cheese Muffins (taken from 100 Magnificent Muffins and Scones)
and last but not least...... Pumpkin Cheesecake (taken from Tea with Bea)
I'll be posting the muffins and cheesecake this weekend!

Note: Reading the Daily Mail, in an attempt to win a Dream Winter Cottage, I came across this article 'Thank you replaced by Cheers...' and thought it was appropriate for today!

*Addams Family Values!!

Cakes, Chocolate, Bears OH MY!

All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray
This is a perfect book for those who are starting out in cake making. Gray starts the reader out with the basics including how to read and interpret recipes. The recipes get more in depth and complicated as the book progresses. I borrowed the Brown Sugar Pound Cake for National Bundt Day early this week and the cake was a hit! The recipe I am trying to find an excuse to make is the Heaven and Hell cake. It's angel food cake and devil's chocolate cake layered together with a peanut mousse. I also have to admit while looking through the book it was this recipe that made up my mind when deciding to add it to my collection!!* I picked this up for a bargain at Home Sense, my new favorite store!

Adventures with Chocolate by Paul A. Young

When I went on my first Bakery Tour of London we walked by one of Paul A. Young's shops in Soho. I saw this book in the window and was tempted to go in, but didn't.** I thoroughly regret that now after reading this book. The book almost literally takes you on an adventure. It describes where chocolate comes from and how that determines how chocolate tastes. Not to put anyone off, but if you were to take a class in chocolate this would be your textbook. It is very informative with lots of recipes to drool over. I will be trying my hand at some of these soon!! I also picked this up at Home Sense (for a bargain) after recognizing it from the shop window in Soho. I'm glad I did!

Paddington's Cookery Book

This I ordered for my mini bakers, from The Book People. It's a very cute little book! Lots of recipes sweet and savory! Lots of Marmalade recipes not just sandwiches!! This book would make any Paddington fan happy!! My daughter already has a few recipes book marked! She's my picky eater so maybe she'll actually eat something she's picked out and helped make!

The Birthday Cake Book by Fiona Cairns

As my collection is growing I have become more selective on which books I buy. I always want ones that come from bakeries (not sure why?) and fellow bloggers who have had the opportunity to publish a book. Anything else goes through a process. A few steps of the process: repeated recipes vs new ones, cost, and design^ and I read reviews. I look around the Internet and don't just rely on amazon or other book sites. Anyhow, my point^^ is I wasn't completely sold on this book, but it kept popping up in different places. It was after having a look at it in a store and then finding it at a great price (The Book People again!) that I caved. I'm in the middle of it and it's great! Like All Cakes Considered, it starts with easier projects progressing too more complicated ones. I'm about half way through and am thinking I bought it at the right time! I have 3 birthdays in December to bake for. I'll be using this for sure!! Fiona Cairns is now famous for designing the cake for Will and Kate's wedding! To be honest that was also a selling point. I didn't share this with many but I was totally into the wedding. I watched most of it and was very enthralled with it all! Can't wait to share anything I make from this book with all of you!

The Shelf.

Feeding my addiction is getting a little expensive, but these four books were all bought at low prices! That’s what I’m telling myself! I have 2-3 must-have books for Christmas. My New Year's Resolution (yes I know it's a bit early) will be to bake one or two things from every book before I'm allowed to buy a new bakery book or that I'm not allowed to buy any bakery books until May (my birthday). I'll figure something out! The problem is new books are being published all the time! So many books so little time!

I hope you've enjoyed reading more about the books I've been collecting! If you have any favorite bakery books you think I need to look at then please leave a comment! I love recommendations!!

*I'm sure I could have found a recipe online, but I'll use anything as an excuse to buy a book!!
**Will definitly stop in next time I'm in London!!
^I have openly admitted before that I judge books by covers. I'm a sucker for a great cover and page desgin!
^^I'll get there eventually!

Note: These are my thoughts and opinions. I am not being paid to review books. These were all purchased by me!
Resource: Home SenseQuinn's Baking Diary (heaven & hell cake), Book People , Paul A. Young, Fiona Cairns, Royal Wedding Cake

Easy Light Lemon Cupcakes!!

I started Slimming World back in September and have so far lost 11 pounds! It's been slow going and I've had some ups and downs, but I am enjoying it. I also want to prove that it's possible to make and enjoy cakes and still lose weight. I never make anything I wouldn't want to eat myself.

These cupcakes come from a Slimming World Magazine. I ripped it out so I can't be specific of which issue it was. The recipe also suggested a meringue topping, but I choose to dust a little icing sugar on top to keep the syns down!

I prefer these as mini cupcakes because the sweetener isn't as noticeable. I'm usually not a fan of artificial sweetener - it just tastes funny. I was surprised how much I enjoyed these!
They are a perfect little treat! They were very popular at my meeting tonight! :0]

Easy Light Lemon Cupcakes: 

4oz/113g (1 stick of light margarine) Flora Light, softened
8 tbsp of artificial sweetener
6oz/170g self-raising flour
4 medium eggs
1 un-waxed lemon, grate finely for zest
few drops of lemon extract

  1. Pre-heat oven 190*C/375*F/gas mark 5
  2. Line your cupcake/muffin tin
  3. Beat the spread, sweetener, flour, eggs, lemon zest and extract (all your ingredients) until smooth.
  4. Divide into cases and bake for 20-25 minutes
2 Syns - mini cupcakes
5 Syns - cupcakes

Brown Sugar Pound Cake for National Bundt Day!!!

It’s National Bundt Day!! Mary the Food Librarian has been baking bundts every day since October 17th in anticipation for today!! It has inspired me to make my very first bundt cake! It might have also been because I was promised a button exclaiming “I Like Big Bundts”?Check out Mary@The Food Librarian to find out more and to see her great bundts!!** 
taken from All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray* 

2 sticks (1 cup or 228g) of unsalted butter at room temp
½ cup shortening
16oz (2 ¼ cups) of light or dark brown sugar
½ cup sugar
5 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour aka plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

The author notes that you should take out your butter and eggs at least 1 hour before you start making your cake.

Pre-heat the oven to 350*F or 180*C or gas mark 4
Line your 10 inch tube pan or cake pan or bundt pan like I did! I didn’t line my bundt pan I just sprayed and floured it!
  1. Cream your butter and shortening on medium speed
  2. Combine your sugars
  3. Then add the sugars half a cup at a time, beating 1-2 minutes in between cups
  4. Add the eggs one at a time and same as before beat 1-2 mins in between
  5. Dry whisk your flour and baking powder together (easier then sifting)
  6. Then alternate the flour and milk (Melissa notes add 1 cup of dry ingredients for every 1/3 cup wet) on a low speed. All of us bakers know that you don’t want to add flour then mix on med/high because flour will be everywhere!!
  7. Once it’s all added speed up your mixing for about a minute.
  8. Add the vanilla.
  9. Fold in the pecans.
  10. Bake for 70 minutes. I only needed 60 minutes but I used a bundt pan not a tube pan so might be why there is a difference.
  11. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and carefully flip out! 

I sprinkled mine with icing sugar! It is very tasty!!  Oh and do not skip out on the pecans... in fact I’d add more!! :0)

*That’s right I told you I had an addiction in an earlier post and like most addicts I try to hide it. So, I hid this book on my shelf hoping no one would notice. ;0)
**Pun intended!!

Note: With day light fading my pictures have to resort to indoor lighting. Boo. I apologize for the just okay pictures!!
Resource: Bundt's and Nordic Ware and Home Sense and Amazon UK and Amazon USA

Book Signing with The David's from Outsider Tart!!

David, me, David

To Lisa- Remember there are no mistakes in baking only things you eat in private! Happy Baking David & David
I can't even tell you how excited (nervous) I was about getting my book signed!! We (my family and friend Lauren) got to Oxford around noon. We then had lunch in the covered market and finished with a Ben's Cookie*!! My husband a chocoholic had the Triple Chocolate Cookie, the girls had a chocolate chip cookie and I choose the peanut butter cookie! Yum!!

Then right at two we made our way to Waterstone's! The girls were happily reading books downstairs in the kids section when they made an announcement that the David's were ready and waiting!!

I waited my turn in line** and hoped my nerves didn't show. You'll soon discover how fruitless that was!! Lauren and my husband wanted me to tell them that I traveled all the way from America to meet them. I was like no that's silly but what I did come out with was "I came all the way from Reading!!" For those of you who don't know how far Reading is from's 30 minutes. Not very far.***There was a little more chit chat and then I was asked if the book was being made out to anyone. I replied with "yeah me" to which I had the response of "...and your name is..."^ Yeah, it's was one of those moments for me. Lauren, bless her, was holding in her laughter!! She was, of course, a good photographer^^  and she agreed that the whoopie pie on sample was very good! Mini Baker and Baby Baker thoroughly enjoyed a sugar cookie! Over all it was a very nice day out and I got my book signed!!

Not only do I think you should get their book, I also think you should visit them at their bakery!!

*I added a photo of me at Ben's to my about me page! 
**The que.
***I wasn't nervous. I know it might be silly to be nervous. I know they are just people too. It's just that I do get nervous around people I admire and respect. I don't want to make a fool of myself! A bit late for that!! ;0]
^Have I told you I'm blond?
^^See above picture!

Golden Pumpkin Loaf!!

Golden Pumpkin Loaf from Baked in America by David Lesniak & David Muniz (Outsider Tart)
I started my Outsider Tart weekend by baking this pumpkin loaf from their book. It was very good. If I do say so myself! After reading an expat website* it informed me that Waitrose carry canned pumpkin! Knowing that there are several pumpkin recipes I want to try I grabbed 4 cans** to start with.
This is where my first can went with no regrets!! 
This loaf is full of cranberries and walnuts and is very moist. I like it with a thin layer of butter or you could have a layer of cream cheese on it. Once again I'm not sharing the recipe as my list of recipes from this book grows!! I can't urge you enough to go get it!! It's a great book!!
If you can't remember I made Snickers Brownies, Chocolate Snicker Doodles, Sugar Saucers, the Cinnamon Loaf, and last but not least the Blackout Cake! And now this of course!!

*Although if you google "canned pumpkin UK" it comes up with all sorts of links all saying that Waitrose carry canned pumpkin.
**One link about canned pumpkin said that Waitrose tend to run out! Another reason I bought 4!

Transformer's Birthday Cake!!

My sister, Indiana Baker, made this for her son Carter's 7th birthday!!
Turned out really well!! Wish I had been there!!

I just made a two layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Wiltons fondant tinted black with the Autobots symbol in Wiltons yellow sugar sheet...all edible! ~Indiana Baker

Resource: for the Autobot symbol click here!

Millionaire Shortbread

This was my first time making Millionaire Shortbread and I would say it was a success!

Every time I'm at a coffee shop that has these in their display I have to have one! One of my favorite places to get a square of Millionaire Shortbread is from a cafe in Windsor called Cinnamon Cafe.

It also has the best Chai Tea Latte ever! Okay maybe not ever, but it's better then Starbucks and I love me a Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks!

adapted from Home Bake by Eric Lanlard

~ 175g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus a little extra for greasing
~ 250g plain flour
~ 85g caster sugar

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180*F (fan 160*C/350*F/gas mark 4)
  2. Lightly grease your pan. Lanlard says to use a 33 x 22cm (13 x 9in) Swiss roll tin. I used my silicone (I hate it) 9x9 in pan because I don’t have the other size. To grease it I just use the butter package easy peasy!
  3. Mix the flour and sugar together.
  4. Rub in the butter (with your hands! I love this part) until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  5. Knead the mixture until it looks like dough.
  6. Press mixture into the prepared pan.
  7. Prick the shortbread lightly with a fork.
  8. Bake for about 20minutes or until firm to the touch and very lightly browned.
  9. Cool in tin/pan whatever it is you used.

~ 100g unsalted butter
~ 100g light muscovado sugar
~ 750g condensed milk

  1. Put all the ingredients into a pan and heat gently until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Bring to a boil, stirring all the time.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes. Mixture should thicken slightly.
  4. Pour over shortbread.
Note: I found this a little confusing. Low heat, high heat, low heat and so on. It’s what I did, but I burnt it. I think my pan was too thin. I knew it was burning because after a stir I had some flecks in the mixture. Those shouldn’t be there it should be smooth and clear. It was usable though because I noticed it. Still tastes good….pan may take a bit to clean out though!!

caramel layer
~ 200g milk or dark chocolate, broken into pieces

  1. Melt the chocolate
  2. Pour over caramel covered shortbread
Note: Everyone has different ways of melting chocolate. I always tend to use a glass bowl in a pan of simmering water. Before the chocolate is fully melted I remove it from the heat letting the hot chocolate do the rest of the melting. Hope that makes sense. Some people use the microwave. Use whatever method works for you!!

top layer chocolate

resource: Eric Lanlard

Who's Baking What?

Chocolate Cake: Made by Alix

  Vanilla Cupcakes: Made by Bijal

 Browies: Made by Lisa (me)

 Red Velvet Cupcakes: Made by Kate, Alex, Emily & Olivia

What do you think??

I have been searching for a new blog title for a while. I like American Baker in England, but since there is another blog with a similar title I wanted to change it. I wanted it to be my own.
So, after weeks and days of deep thought this is what came to me! With the new title I thought it would do good to have a new look as well!! I hope you all like it!!

Let me know by taking part in my poll on the side bar!!

Coconut and Raspberry Cupcakes!!

Based on Love Bakery’s Raspberry and Coconut Cupcakes

Coconut & Raspberry Cupcakes 

125g  unsalted butter, room temperature
125g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
125g self-rising flour
½ tsp baking powder
3 tbsp coconut milk

Preheat Oven 180*C/350*F/Gas Mark 4
Cream the butter and sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy
Add eggs one at a time until combined
Mix in the flour and baking powder until combined
Add in the coconut milk and mix well
Scoop the batter into your cupcake cases and bake for 25 minutes

80g unsalted butter, room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
250g icing sugar, sifted
5 tsp coconut milk or more

Cream the butter and vanilla until light and fluffy
Add the icing sugar and coconut milk and mix until well blended
Add more coconut milk by the tsp if you prefer a lighter icing
Chill in the fridge until ready to use

Filling and Toppings: 
Raspberry Jam
Coconut Chips or desiccated coconut

I used an apple corer to take out the center of my cupcakes
Then put 1-2 tsp of raspberry jam into the center and put the cored out piece back on top.
Frost the cupcakes however you like either by piping or spatula. I used a butter knife.
Top with 1 or more raspberries and sprinkle with coconut. I would have preferred using coconut chips, but my local grocery store doesn’t stock them and I couldn’t be bothered with a special trip to town. Coconut chips are easily located at any health food store! Chips will soak up moisture so be sure to not top until serving!