Category: Tips & Hints

Tips & Hints – A black pepper pairing

SnackinsSurprisingly delicious: black pepper cream cheese & fruit

It’s a well-known fact among friends that I’m a weird eater – one of the ladies I went on holiday with was frequently openly baffled by what I ate, although considering one of those experiments was mussels and chocolate sauce, you can hardly blame her. But the juxtaposition of sweet and savoury is one of the best things about pairing foods, as proven by maple syrup and bacon.

So when it comes to snacking, of course I follow suit. Black pepper (light!) cream cheese (so far I’ve seen it in Morrisons and Sainsburys) goes wonderfully with apple and strawberries, keeping that 3pm lull interesting as well as virtuous.

If you’re feeling a little less saintly, Jane at The Hedge Combers made strawberry and black pepper muffins, too.

Tip of the Week – How to rescue “seized” chocolate

Seizing – or, to you and I, “Oh balls, the chocolate’s gone grainy” – happens when chocolate overheats or the cocoa powder in it absorbs water. You can bring it back for use in brownies or puddings by gently reheating it in a bain marie and adding 1 tsbp of vegetable oil, boiling water, or hot cream  for every 175g of chocolate. No more sadly spooning gritty Green & Blacks into your mouth before dashing to the shops again.

Tips & Hints – Greaseproof vs baking parchment

What’s the difference between greaseproof paper and baking parchment?

PickofTheWeekDonutsBaking parchment has been treated with silicone, so it’s non-stick, moisture-resistant and can handle high temperatures, which makes it great for baking. Greaseproof paper, on the other hand, isn’t non-stick or heat-resistant, but is fat-resistant, making it best for wrapping greasy foods such as baked goods and cheese.
Pick of the Week

It’s easy to get snowed under when browsing Pinterest by the hundreds of breads, cakes, and carefully styled homes shots, but Mel’s (The Faux Martha) doughnut board most definitely stands out among the white noise, and shows that the doughnut trend hasn’t passed quite yet.

 

Tips & Hints – Using leftover rice

TipoftheweekIt’s a well-known fact that it’s almost impossible to cook the right amount of rice. It’s also pretty well-known that reheating those mountains of rice leftovers should be avoided, since it can give you food poisoning.

I’m pretty sure the boys I lived with at uni flouted that rule, but I’m also certain they’ve eaten so many technically non-consumable things that they’re now invincible. Good job, guys.

However, for us mere mortals, it’s necessary to take precautions.

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How to bake a flat-topped cake

We’ve all been there: desperately trying to level your latest cake creation with a bread knife before stepping back and realising that, if anything, it’s more wonky than it was before, and now you’re going to have to battle with crumbs to frost the damn thing.

Or worse, attempting to stack domed cakes and fill the gaps with frosting, leading to an inevitable sponge landslide. There’s a plethora of gadgets and recommended methods for making your cake layers flat-topped and ready for stacking…but really, all you need is a bit of thread or some safety pins, and an old flannel, to create a wrap, like a headband, for your cake tin. Then, simply wet it and wring it out, wrap it around your cake tin, and cook as normal for a perfectly flat-topped cake.

How does it work? The wet towel stops the sides of the cake from getting hot, so it doesn’t bake early on – instead, the whole cake bakes at the same time, and so rises to the same height.

You might be able to buy strips for this purpose from a cookshop – but it’s worth spending a few minutes cutting and sewing, or pinning, to make something that will cost you pennies and last for ages. If you plan on making a few – for different-sized tins, for example – you may be better off cutting up a hand towel.

To make the wrap, cut your (clean!) flannel into strips as wide as the depth of your cake tin, then sew or pin them together end to end, creating a long strip of towel. Run this strip through your hands a few times to remove any fluff or loose bits of towel. Wrap this around your tin, then pin or sew it closed so it’s firmly wrapped around but loose enough to wiggle off when the cake’s done cooking. Each time you want to use it, simply wet it again – and rejoice in never having wonky layer cakes again.