Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Sword in the Scone

Disney Classic # 18 - The Sword in the Stone

OK, I have to confess that I'm cheating a little bit with this one. Originally I was going to try to make a cake in the shape of an anvil sitting on a rock, and I was going to make a cookie sword and stick it in. Then I would have asked the One True King to remove the cookie sword so we could eat the cake, it would have been amazing. However, back in August (yes... I plan these cakes far too far in advance! Actually, I keep a list of my ideas, if and when they pop into my head. Sometimes I'll have a cake planned for months, sometimes I don't come up with anything until the day before. It's just how it goes!) Anyways, back in August I was watching The Great British Bake Off and one of the challenges was to make Paul Hollywood's scones, and I thought "I haven't made scones for years! I'd really like to make some scones." So I set about trying to think of which Disney film I could bake scones for. And that's when it hit me - the sword in the scone!! (Hahah)

You see, my reasoning is that scones do look a little bit like rocks, so if I could figure out how to stick a sword into each one then people would (hopefully) recognise the image from the movie. Also - in case you need further convincing - The Sword in the Stone is based on the legend of King Arthur. Whilst many of the tales of King Arthur vary, his castle Camelot is thought by many to have been located in Cornwall. Not only that, but Arthur's mother was the Duchess of Cornwall. Anyone who's ever been to Cornwall knows that you can't take 5 steps without coming across somewhere that sells cream tea (aka scones and cream).

In the end, my rational for choosing scones actually linked into the film pretty well (much better than some of my other ideas where I've really had to clutch at straws!) - I guess I just did it a bit backwards this time, choosing the film to match the dessert rather than the dessert to match the film. Oops. I still think it counts though...

Afternoon tea, anyone?

Anyway, I decided not to use Paul Hollywood's recipe, because it has eggs in it, and I've never made scones with egg before and I think that's a little weird, especially as most other recipes don't use egg either. Not that I'm questioning Paul Hollywood, I just don't fancy eggy scones. So I made a variation (or three) of the recipe I found here. (Good old BBC Good Food!) I ended up making three batches of scones: some plain scones; some raisin scones (at the request of my Mr.) and some chocolate chip scones (because these are my favourite and they're not sold ANYWHERE - serve with a little butter, yum yum yum!)

The recipe posted below can be used for all 3 types of scones (just add raisins/chocolate chips/anything else you fancy putting in where applicable,) and produces a batch of 6.

Prep time: 5-10 mins         Cook time: 10-12 mins       Serves: 6


275g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
tsp baking powder
65g margarine
3tbsp caster sugar (plus extra for sugar crusting)
135ml milk
1 tsp lemon juice
1 egg to glaze
Optional - 60g raisins, sultanas, cherries, dried apricot, chocolate chips or anything else you fancy putting inside the scones!

Whipped cream and jam to serve

  1. Heat the oven to gas mark 7 and place the baking tray you plan to use into the oven to heat up.
  2. Tip the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl, and then tip in the margarine. Rub the ingredients together with your fingers until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the sugar to the crumb-like mixture, and mix in with you hands. Add any dried fruits or chocolates to the mixtures at this stage.
  4. Heat the milk in the microwave for around 30 seconds until warm, but not hot. Add the lemon juice to the milk and set this to one side for a few minutes.
  5. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk. Mix these together using a cutlery knife until they combine to make a wet dough, being careful not to overwork.
  6. Scatter flour over the work surface and tip the dough out onto it. Sprinkle a little more flour on top of the dough. Fold the dough over itself 2-3 times until it becomes smooth, again being careful not to overwork. Pat the dough out (it's better to pat than to use a rolling pin) to around 3cm thick.
  7. Using a cutter of your choice, cut scones out of the dough. Tip - do not twist your cutter as this seals the sides of the dough and may prevent your scones from rising.
  8. In a small bowl, beat the egg for glazing. In another small bowl, place some caster sugar. Dip each scone firstly into the egg, and secondly into the caster sugar, before placing carefully onto the warm baking tray. Tip - try to keep the egg only on the top of the scone, if it runs down the sides it may prevent the scones from rising.
  9. Bake the scones in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.
  10. The scones can be served warm or allowed to cool before serving, and are best eaten on the day of baking. Will keep for 1-2days in an airtight container, but they won't be as melt-in-your-mouth-soft as the day of baking!

Next week we're watching the Jungle Book, and I'll be making (and serving) a juicy jungle fruits cake!

Happy Thoughts

Monday, 25 October 2010

Good news...

So after a 12 day stay in hospital, I've finally made it back home (without the need for surgery just yet)! Woop!!

What's even better is that I'm now allowed to eat again, which means Disney nights can resume! Double woop!

Hopefully there'll be no more serious illness and hospital stays for me for a long long time, and the blog can return to normal. The next recipe will be posted on Wednesday morning for your perusal!

Happy Thoughts

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Bad news...

Oh dear.

Well we had a break back in July due to my illness, and unfortunately we're going to have to take another one now. I was admitted into hospital again last Wednesday, and this time it's likely I'll be having surgery on my bowel. (Fortunately I was allowed out today on day release!)

This unfortunately means that I am being fed via a tube, so that means that whether I'm in hospital or at home there is no cake for me.

Therefore this blog will probably be quiet for a little while (I'm hoping no more than a couple of weeks, but who knows!)

Please do check back in a couple of weeks as there may well be a recipe waiting for you!

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Mamma, I'm Hungry

Disney Classic # 17 - 101 Dalmatians

After a few weeks of novelty cakes I decided it might be a good idea to go back to basics with a simple a tasty classic. (I've also had a complication with my illness, and my Dr has told me not to do anything! Well... we can't have that, so I'll compromise by keeping it simple for a few weeks. ^_^) In honour of these wonderfully spotty dogs, I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies. Unfortunately though - all of the shops in my area seem to have simultaneously sold out of dark/milk chocolate chips, so we ended up with chocolate chunk cookies instead. Still, the idea was there... and the cookies were tasty! I once read somewhere that each dalmatian puppy was animated with 32 spots. I was going to try to fit 32 chocolate chips in each cookie, but figured there'd then probably be chocolate than cookie...

You can be a champion too if you eat Kanine cookies...

This recipe is based on a recipe in my favourite cook book, BBC Good Food's 101 Cakes and Bakes. It started off as their "Smarties Cookies" recipe on page 196, but I've made a few adjustment, basically to cater to what I had in my cupbards at the time!

Prep time: 15mins        Cook time: 10-12mins per batch       Makes: 24 cookies


200g margarine
100g light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp clear honey
300g self raising flour
1tsp vanilla essence
75g milk chocolate, chopped into small chunks
50g white chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and line a flat baking tray with greaseproof paper
  2. Beat the margarine, brown sugar and caster sugar together in a bowl until light and creamy.
  3. Add the honey, vanilla essence and half of the flour and beat until well combined.
  4. Add the chocolate chunks, the chocolate chips and the rest of the flour to the bowl, and work into a dough with your hands. 
  5. Divide the dough into 24 balls. Place these well apart on the baking sheet (note - do not flatten the balls, they will spread in the oven to make a thick round cookie) and bake for 10-12 minutes until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes on the baking tray before transferring to a wire wrack to cool completely. (note - when the cookies first come out of the oven they will still be a little soft, do not worry! they will crisp up as they cool and you will be left with a delicious chewy cookie!)

Next time we're watching The Sword in the Stone, and I'll be making some yummy scones!

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

15 Layers with Pink and Blue Forget-Me-Nots!

Disney Classic # 16 -  Sleeping Beauty

Ah me. So I had another disaster - but thankfully managed to avert this one!! Originally (and up until the day before baking/serving the cake) I had planned to try out my icing techniques and create a beautifully detailed cake. It was going to be vanilla sponge, covered in white fondant icing, and topped with an image of Sleeping Beauty and Prince Phillip. Around the sides of the cake I was going to ice and/or paint images of the three good fairies, of rose bushes and thorn bushes, and a fiery silhouette of Maleficent. It would have been lovely. However - I knew that I do not posses the drawing skills required to ice a picture of Aurora/Phillip straight onto the top of the cake (the ones on the side would be fine, as they are much smaller and require less detail) - so instead I decided to create a sort of topper, by tracing the image in royal icing. I traced two of these, as I couldn't decide whether I wanted Phillip in the picture, and also just in case one of them went wrong.

Well they both went wrong. The idea was that the royal icing would set, and I would be able to remove the greaseproof paper from underneath and gently place the applique/topper on top of my iced cake. However, after I finished tracing them it soon dawned on me that I had used a very very thin icing nozzle, and that would probably cause issues. I realised that the royal icing would be too long and thin to hold together, and that my toppers would probably crumble at my touch.

Whereas the fairies decide to use their magic to fix their wreck of a cake - for me that wasn't an option, so I decided to come up with a couple of back up plans. I'm clutching at straws ever so slightly, but I decided to base the cake around the scene where Briar Rose/Aurora goes out into the woods to collect berries - brilliant! Black forest gateaux!! Except that as it was very last minute I was unable to get hold of any cherries (my local shop doesn't sell them, the grocers is closed on Sundays and I didn't have time to go up to the major supermarket) so I used strawberries and raspberries instead. So it's sort of a forest berry cake - ish.

Originally I had hoped to stick to plan A and make the vanilla sponge iced lovely thing, but then I realised that I should try to handle the toppers as little as possible, which meant waiting until the cake was baked and iced before moving them, which meant I wouldn't know whether to make vanilla sponge or chocolate sponge until it was too late. Gah!! So plan B was to make the chocolate sponge, go out and buy the cherries (which ended up being strawberries and raspberries), and to place the topper on top of that (given that the topper worked...) Plan C was the same as plan B, but without the topper.

Well, coming to the end of my very long story about how we arrived at the cake we did - when I lifted the greaseproof paper from the baking sheet this happened:

So here's the recipe for plan C! Briar Rose's woodland berry* cake.

*do strawberries and raspberries even grow in woodlands? I don't know - but for the purpose of this cake, let's just pretend that when Briar Rose went out into the woods to pick berries, she picked up some strawberries and raspberries.

I've yet to come across the perfect recipe for chocolate cake. Don't get me wrong, I've never found a bad recipe for chocolate cake, I've just not come across a perfect one yet... so I'm still looking! This time round I based my cake on a recipe found here. The flavour of the chocolate cake was delicious - not too rich as some can be, but by no means not chocolate-y enough, as I've also come across before. However, the sponge was a little too crumbly for my liking, I would have preferred it to be much more moist, and the mixture did not seem to rise in the pan at all! Hence my search for the perfect chocolate cake recipe goes on... nevertheless this was a pretty tasty cake! (I'm just being extremely picky here - there were no complaints for the finished product, and everyone [except me, I was trying to be good] went back for a second slice!)

Prep time: 20mins Cook time: 25-30mins Serves: 14


150g dark chocolate
30ml milk
150g margarine
150g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
150g plain flour
50g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp cocoa powder
half a punnet of strawberries
half a punnet of raspberries
50g icing sugar
200ml double cream
white and milk chocolate, for decorating

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease and line two baking tins (of the same size!)
  2. Break the chocolate into chunks and place this and the milk into a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted and then place to one side to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the margarine and caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then fold in the chocolate mixture.
  4. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and continue to fold until all of the ingredients combine.
  5. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for around 25-30mins, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to rest for 5 minutes before removing them from their tins and leaving them to cool on a wire rack.
  6. Once the cakes have completely cooled, prepare the filling and topping. Set aside 2 strawberries and 3 raspberries for decoration. Hull and slice the the strawberries, and half the raspberries. Arrange the fruit on the bottom layer of the cake, completely covering.
  7. Whip together the double cream and icing sugar until it is thick and pillowy. Carefully spread this over the berries then place the second layer of cake on top of this.
  8. Melt a little white and a little milk chocolate and drizzle this over the cake to decorate. Place the strawberries and raspberries that were set to one side earlier in the centre of the cake.
  9. Cut into chunky slices and enjoy! (Due to the fruit/fresh cream in this cake it is best kept refrigerated and eaten the same day.)

Next time it's 101 Dalmatians, and I'll be making some chocolate chip cookies :-)

Happy Thoughts