Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Cherry Almond Loaf Cake

So, as well as making a batch of caramel shortcake this evening, I decided to attempt my first ever loaf cake. I love anything with cherries and almonds in it so went for Nigella Lawson's Cherry-Almond Loaf cake. I found this really easy to make, although I destroyed my kitchen in the process (there is butter where no person should find butter). I can't tell you how it tastes because Nigella's recipes don't exactly suit a Weight Watchers diet but at least it looks good.

200g glace cherries
250g self raising flour
225g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
2-3 drops almond essence
100g ground almonds
6 tablespoons milk

  • Preheat the oven to 170°c. Halve the cherries, wash them, pat them dry and toss them in flour.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Gradually add the beaten egg and almond essence.
  • Gently fold in flour and ground almonds.
  • Fold in cherries and then the milk.
  • Spoon mixture into loaf tin and bake for 45-60 mins (I found I needed to add an extra 10 minutes).
  • Cool cake on a wire rack

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Forest School

Every Tuesday I, along with another teacher and a couple of Rangers, take a group of pupils out on Forest School. We go to a local wood and build a fire, cook some food and then attempt to craft things out of the materials which surround us. In weeks gone by we (and when I say we, I mean mostly the pupils) have built tables, benches, a shelter, bows and arrows and have also done some nature inspired art work. A few weeks ago one of the Rangers taught me how to chop down a tree safely and we used the wood to make a surround for the camp fire. Today the Ranger helped a group of 3 pupils make the rather impressive bench you can see in the photo. I was so impressed with it that I thought I would share my rather poor camera phone picture with you. Over the next few weeks we (and by this I mean the pupils and me, yeay) will be making more benches, some tools and learning how to tie pretty knots. Hopefully I will manage to remember to take my camera with me so that I can photograph my crafty exploits.

Slightly off topic but the food today was amazing. I ate the best potato scone I have ever tasted.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Today I am making... essay.

For the past 6 months or so I have been working on the SEBD (social, emotional and behavioural difficulties) 2 module of my postgrad. All should be well, after all this is the sector I work in and therefore have much knowledge of. Not so. The essay is more than a month overdue and although my tutor doesn't seem to have a problem with it I really do. I have another essay on Modern Educational Thought due in on 18th June so I need to get this one out of the way.

So today will be spent cutting, pasting, scraping and re-doing all the components of said 3,500 word essay while attempting to entertain a 2 year old and a 5 year old. It's a craft of sorts, although I'll not bore you with pictorial evidence of the finished article.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Caramel Shortcake

Not only do I remember my mother making this when I was a child, but it is my son's favourite. Every time we go to Starbuck's (I admit it, I'm an addict) he has to have a piece of their caramel shortcake. However at £1.65 a piece I felt it was a bit pricey, and to be honest none of the shop bought stuff has tasted anywhere near as nice, so I decided to have a go myself.

200g shop bought shortbread (you can make your own but I was feeling lazy)
25 g melted butter
150g butter
150g sugar (I used caster but soft brown sugar also works well)
397g tin condensed milk
150g Cadbury's Dairy Milk

I started off by crushing the shortbread. Usually I'd do this with a rolling pin, with the shortbread in a sandwich bag but since I had neither I put the shortbread in a bowl and hit it with the bottom of a thick glass until it looked like breadcrumbs. Then I mixed in the melted butter. I lined a baking tray with greaseproof paper and tipped the mixture in, pressing it down firmly with my knuckles, before putting it in the fridge for 20 minutes to cool.

While that was cooling I put the rest of the butter and the sugar in a pan over a moderate heat. When the butter had melted I added the condensed milk. For the next 20 minutes or so I got a sore wrist from stirring the mixture continuously until it bubbled and thickened. Then I poured the caramel over the shortbread and left it to cool while I ran to the shop to buy the chocolate I'd forgotten to get earlier. I melted the chocolate in the microwave and poured it over the caramel mixture, leaving it to cool down before putting it back in the fridge for an hour or so.

This was so easy to make, and way cheaper than buying it elsewhere. I think I cut the slab into about 12 rather large pieces. Son and hubby absolutely loved it and I've now had to hide it before they eat it all and spoil their dinner.

Let's try again

So, this is attempt number 2 at starting a blog which charts my baking and various forays into the world of crafting. My last blog died a death because I just didn't have the time or energy to bake or cook from scratch. Now that my youngest is 2 I find that I have a little more time to make and bake, especially because the children enjoy helping me with whatever is on the go.

There are a number of projects floating around in my head at the moment and I hope that, with the summer holidays approaching, I will manage to transfer them from mere ideas to reality. Let's see how it goes...