Monday, 31 August 2015

GBBO 2015 - Dessert Week

I've finally caught up with Bake Off having lagged behind with Bread Week. It was Dessert week this time and I had the choice between Creme Brulee, something that can only be described as a meringue mountain, and a stack of three baked cheesecakes. After much deliberation (and lamenting of the dietary requirements of my parents) I went with the stack of cheesecakes. I chose this recipe (minus the topping) and this is how they looked:

Here they are, three cheesecakes, cooling down from a spell in the oven.

Here is the littlest one, out of its case and ready for eating. Looks a bit like a custard tart here.

And to complete the challenge - here is my stack of 3, helpfully modelled by my parents!

My lemon cheesecakes turned out to be delicious! My mum and dad totally approved of them because they weren't too sweet, and the flavours were just right. I didn't formally stack the cheesecakes because we couldn't possibly eat all three of these bad boys, so I delivered one of them to my friend who happens to live down the road (hello Becky!). We completely devoured the tiny one just beforehand. I'll have the massive one to work through tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to it!

I've never made a baked cheesecake before, so I'm really pleased with how these turned out. Next time I will find a non-fluted cake case to bake my cheesecake in, for authenticity. Right now, I'm just pleased I managed to get the wobble right, and make my first batch of cheesecakes! Yaaay! :)

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Adventures with the Lams

My cousin Karen, who came over last year, and her family came over from Hong Kong to the UK for a crazy British adventure. And what an adventure it has been! They invited me to be part of most of their adventure (while my parents waited for baby Lucas to arrive) and it was really exciting! Here are some photo highlights of their adventure:

Here we are, in Ramsbottom, posing with a lovely postbox.

Here we are on the Llandudno Pier. That's Kudos and Kalin - peas in a pod until they're chalk and cheese.

Here's me, excited to be on top of the Great Orme.

Here are the Lams - Karen, Kalin, Kudos and Kelvin.

Here's my favourite photo from their whole trip. The beach at Llandudno.

Here we are in Oxford - this is outside Christchurch College.

Here's me and my little niece, hanging out and chatting.

Oh my, here I am at Warner Bros Studios for the Making of Harry Potter. To say that I was excited is an understatement. I got a little emotional, actually. It was awesome.

We went to London and went on a boat trip. This is an awesome pic.

Here's my roomie, Kalin while I was in London with the Lams. And that's Tower Bridge.

Here are the two monkeys on their phones. Always on their phones. Even when sat under a beautiful fake tree in the lobby of a lovely hotel.

Lots of great adventures with these four lovely people.

Oh man, we had a lot of fun and covered a lot of ground. Not chronicled by photo here includes a session at Go Ape, a session at Jumpnation, a theatre trip to see Phantom of the Opera and a visit to Blackpool, Chester and Bath. The Lams also went to York on their own and throughout the journey bought lots of things! Oh! And they also got to meet little Lucas! 

They left yesterday, and I have now finally caught up on work enough to sit down and reflect on our adventure. I really hope the Lams enjoyed their first family visit to the UK. The weather wasn't always kind, but the people were. We ate loads of things, saw loads of things, laughed about everything and had a great time together. I certainly had an awesome time, so I hope they go home with lots of good memories too! It was great to get to know this part of my family, especially the children - may there be many more opportunities for fun in the future! Thank you for visiting!

I will be seeing these four wonderful people in just under two months time on my next adventure with Pop-Up Adventure Play! I will be visiting them in Hong Kong and doing some work too! Yaaay! :)

Hoorah for the Lams, and hoorah for adventures everywhere!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

GBBO 2015 - Bread Week

I was most definitely late with this week's Bake Off bake. I haven't been at home (I've been adventuring!) so I've had no access to kitchens for a while. I decided to rectify the situation by avoiding the next episode in the series until I had done my baking, so today, I baked me a yeast-free free-standing loaf.

This is a simple soda bread that took less than an hour to make overall!

I'm really surprised at how well this loaf turned out - crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. I had basically no time to prepare and was stood in the supermarket guessing what ingredients I needed. I opted for the simple soda bread because I wanted to know what the bake looked like before I started messing about with the flavours. I'm pleasantly surprised at how bread like it is, and also how quick it was to make! I shall be doing more of these in the future!

Yay for soda bread, and yay for having a few vague instincts about baking, at last! :)

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Hello Little Lucas

Let it be known that today, just before it turned into tomorrow, a new little person was born into my family. I'm now a proud Auntie to my new little nephew, Lucas Mui.

Yes, I am still sending postcards, but I will have to confess, August got a little muddled up. I sent at least one every day, but I'm not sure how many exactly. Ha.

Little Lucas was almost 2 weeks late and definitely didn't want out. My sister went through a 20-hour labour which is epic really. He's here now, and Mum and Baby are doing well. The Dad is also excellent if not a little sleepy. More Lucas posts soon!

Monday, 17 August 2015

GBBO 2015 - Biscuit Week

I left it a little late this week to do my Bake Off bake for biscuit week, but I've just managed it, and it was really successful. This week, I have made a batch of biscotti!

I've never made biscuits like this before, but it wasn't too difficult. It just took a while because I don't have an electric whisk so I had to hand whisk the initial mixture.

They came out really nicely, crispy with a good crunch.

I'm pretty chuffed about this week's bake - they were pretty darn yummy, and I'm glad it actually worked! It was hazelnut and chocolate biscotti based on this recipe but I reckon next time I could put more chocolate and nuts in. As it stood, there wasn't really enough to go around so they were a little unevenly distributed. Mum and Dad enjoyed them, so that's always good! Now to find some coffee drinkers to enjoy my new bake with their beverage!

It's been a ridiculously busy week but I will blog about it soon. For now, please enjoy my most recent bake! Hoorah! :) 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

GBBO 2015 - Cake Week

Yes indeed, it is time for the Great British Bake Off and my friends and I are hoping to do one bake a week following the theme of each program in this series, just like we did last year! The first week is always cake week so I selected madeira cake as my first bake. 

So this is very similar to my usual cakes except for it having a tighter structure and lemon zest running through it. It also has a higher rise due to the increased amount of flour in it, so the cake "cracks" on the surface when it's ready. I used this recipe for my madeira, but skipped the syrup and frosting to allow for the 'rentals and their special dietary needs. Here's what my madeira looked like:
 
There it is, my citrus madeira that has lemon and orange zest in it. It has quite an impressive crack!

And sliced through it is impressive too! Nice a pale inside with a good brown outside. Yaaay! :)

This tasted lovely, nice and fresh! The outside was a little crispy too so contrasted nicely with the soft inside. I think I'll gladly make this type of sponge again! :) Mum and Dad approved too because it's not a very sweet cake. Thumbs up all round I think!

So there we go - week 1 of Great British Bake Off 2015. Who knows what the coming week will bring. And I have visitors from afar who might help me too! Stay tuned! :)