Saturday, 30 August 2014

My Favourite Madeira Cake

Sometimes simple is best. Classic buttery crumbed cake spruced up with nothing more than a favourite pretty tin and maybe a breath of icing sugar. Enter Madeira Cake. 

I've been posting a lot of bordering on over the top recipes recently. Not content with a simple Rice Krispie treat I added peanut butter and white chocolate. No courgette loaf will ever acceptable in our house without added cocoa and two lots of chocolate chunks. To my certain glee, courgettes can also be hidden in Nutella Stuffed Brownies and if they aren't devilishly chocolatey enough there is always my Overloaded Brownies. And yet there will always, always be a place in my heart for Madeira cake.

We've actually been here before. Almost a year ago I set out to find my ideal Madeira cake recipe after getting fed up with there not being a definitive one. Some used ground almonds, some used lemon zest, some extra flour, some whacking great wedges of candied citrus peel on top. I wasn't having it. Despite trying many of them over the years none came close to the M&S Madeira that Mum and I used to pick up on our shopping trips into town. Yes, a shop bought cake was more enjoyable than homemade. 

Until now.

This, for me, is it. My ideal Madeira cake recipe. The conclusion to the Madeira Cake Story if you will. A simple creaming method utilises every bit of patience a baker can give to capture as much air as possible to create a mixture that is on the point of becomming a mousse before it is baked into a crumb of feathery silk. Fresh from the oven fragility transforms to a beautiful suppleness by the time it reaches the tea table.

Sometimes all it takes is the most basic of ingredients to make something of the highest quality. Take them separately they are nothing. Take them together and they are fit to rule. Butter equates to elegance alongside the high class company of ground almonds and a hint of freshness of the lemon zest. The soft baked crust and golden hue underneath queitly, but confidently, declare that this is a cake to be enjoyed unadulterated.

No cream, no sprinkles and for probably the only time I will say this, no chocolate. Tea is the only accompaniment necessary. See? I can do traditional. Not plain and simple though. A good Madeira is anything but.

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My Favourite Madeira Cake
A true English classic. Soft buttery crumb kept moist by ground almonds, with a hint of lemon zest in this golden hued cake.
  • 175g softened butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 150g plain flour
  • 75g ground almonds
  • Splash of milk
  • Icing sugar to dust (optional)
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and grease and flour a bundt tin, making sure it reaches into all the shapes (melted butter is best for this). Alternatively line a 8" round, deep cake tin withbaking paper.2. Beat the softened butter until pale and creamy then beat in the caster sugar. Continue to cream the butter and sugar on high speed until very light and fluffy in texture, scraping down the sides periodically. Mix in the lemon zest.3. In a jug whisk the eggs and almond extract then mix in spoonful dribble at a time, thoroughly mixing in between additions. The more gradually you add the eggs, the less likely the mixture is to curdle and the more air incorporated. If it does threaten to curdle, mix in a spoonful of the measured flour.4. Sift and fold in the flour, baking powder and ground almonds in two batches using a metal spoon or spatula. Be gentle but thorough. Fold in a splash of milk to get a soft dropping consistency.5. Pour into the cake tin, smooth the top and make a small dip in the centre (or a channel in a bundt tin) with the back of a spoon to help the cake rise more evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 mins until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for half an hour or so then gently turn out and cool completely. Dust with icing sugar if you wish.

I'm linking my Madeira cake recipe to Lucy's CookBlogShare party for all types of baking over at Supergolden Bakes.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Biscuit Barrel August 14 Round Up

Goodness, how quick has August gone? Any month is going far too fast for my liking though because that makes it all the closer to my final year. 

I warn you now that I will most likely make a massive wail and fuss over final year of my Chemistry degree but I hope you will stick with my through all my moans. For now though, let us all distract ourselves with this brilliant selection of no-bake goodies.

First up is Angela from Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me with these Chewy Toffee and Salted Cashew Nut Cookies. Incredibly simple, if you are a fan of the salty/sweet combination these are certainly for you. I'm a nut fanatic at the moment after seeing how quickly they've made my nails grow and so these are a bit of a danger to have near me.

Caroline from Caroline Makes has come up with a rather delicious Strawberry Marshmallow Mousse which is ideal for these warm summer months when you want something fruity without the effort. The marshmallows add a different texture and the whole thing is something I'd probably be eagerly scraping the dish clean of because strawberries are my favourite after all.

Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker has adapted a previous recipe for these Chocolate and Peppermint Squares. I was a big fan of the original so how could I not be of this new version?  Similar to minty individual cheesecakes, a crushed Oreo based is topped with such a refreshing cream cheese mixture that I can practically taste the cooling mint already.

Kate from the Gluten Free Alchemist has managed to make marshmallows even more addictive with these Marshmallow Party Bites. Kate recommends them for childrens party but if I could make a request, I'd have them at a party of mine too - they couldn't be more fun with their dip of chocolate and coating of cheery sprinkles. 

Stuart from Cakeyboi has been very clever this month with his Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pinwheels.  The peanut butter/chocolate combination take what could also be called a health bar to a whole new level while the swirl make them so fun. Definitely one way to get extra fruit down children - if there is any left after I've been at them.

Janine from Cake of the Week has also beenmaking something which is already addictive dangerously more so with these Popcorn Squares. I'm glad a packet of popcorn ended up being forgotten because otherwise these may not have been created and the next time I have an excuse, I'm going to make these for sure. Complete with sprinkles of course.

Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary created these Triple Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites to provide a solution to the need to occupy her children when they were forced to stay indoors. The only trouble was, they were so nice, their portion were gone in now time and Elizabeth admits herself that they are very addictive.

You wouldn't think a Lemon Meringue Pie would be able to fit into a biscuit Barrel but Caroline from Caroline Makes has managed it with the individual portions of this deconstructed version. Using crushed biscuits to evoke the flavours of pastry, lemon curd, whipped cream, a mini meringue and lemony sprinkles you canbe enjoying this in mere minutes.

The Baking Explorer aka Kat made these Chocolate Truffles to use up some egg yolks that were leftover from another bake. An intense chocolate hit smooth enough to melt in your mouth, it is no surprise that these didn't last very long, expecially with the variety of finishes Kat offered. 

Rebecca from BakeNQuilt has taken a classic and turned it into a no-bake version with these No Bake Peanut Butter Blossoms. Simple ingredients come together in an oatmeal based dough finished off with a kiss of chocolate, Rebecca says the hardest part of this recipe is no eating them all in one go.

Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog made these Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispies to take on a trip to visit her peanut butter loving mother-in-law and has stated that they will be made again they were that good. The peanut butter and sweet milk chocolate is a winning combination every time and even just typing it has made me want some - any crumbly bits are property of the chef.

Helen from Family Friends Food has personalised crispy cakes by adding spices and dried fruits to make these Spiced Chocolate Fruit and Nut Crispy Cake Bites. The added health factor from the fruit and nuts may make them just that little bit more dangerous because I wouldn't feel as guilty about eating more than my fair share, even though they are so intense. I'm good with intense desserts!

I've left my own entry unitl last because embarrassingly, my own linky tool wouldn't let me add it. At least now I can present my Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats. I made these for my nephews to take with them on a long car journey but thoroughly taste tested them before hand and decided the combination of white chocolate and peanut butter is my new favourite over milk or dark chocolates. The topping is the most dangerous part because before it gets poured on top and sets it invitingly calls to be eaten as is.

That's it for another month and thank you to all those who entered. If it was possible to get hyper on sugar simply from reading about things you want to eat then I certainly would have managed it after writing this. Thankfully I can't so I can survive another month to give you a new theme in a few days time.

P.S. The Treat Petite theme was also No Bake this month so we have had some of the same entries. Why don't you pop over to Cakeyboi to see Stuart's round up and read what delicious things he has to say about them too?

Monday, 25 August 2014

Peach Jam

I'm back in slipper socks. And the oversized hand-knitted comfy monster affectionately known as the rice pudding cardigan. Unless we get a renewed late effort from the weather here in the UK that's it for summer but I couldn't let it go without making at least one batch of jam. I love the alchemical process and maybe a little bit of the danger involved too. I've made strawberry jam before, and this blackberry jam went lovely in my mini Bakewell tarts but this year I had a fancy to make peach jam so peach jam it was.
recipe for 3 ingredient peach jam no added pectin

Most people know the basics of making jam. In short, boil equal weights of chopped fruit and sugar with bit of pectin until it reaches 105 C and pour into sterilised jars. Easy. Now this is where I get a bit touchy and go against so many foodie experts. You do not need to add pectin or use that much sugar. Being a chemist (in training, final year starts in September) and having spent the last year doing research into pectins and other food based polysaccharides, I am adamant on this. Even fruits with a lower pectin content don't need it adding. The key is to extract the fruits own pectin and make that work hard instead of spending your money on expensive jam sugar. Promise.
recipe for 3 ingredient peach jam no added pectin

If the mmmmmmm-ness (totally a word) of the jams I've made isn't proof enough for you then let me point you in the direction of this post from one of my favourite blogs and then this one too. To summarise, the pectin dissolves out of the plant cell walls and into the fruit juice released when the fruit is cut. Then the sugar marches in and helps to rebuild the structure where necessary so water can be trapped after the acid (in the form of lemon juice) neutralises the negative charges in the structure which repel the pieces of the structure which need to invade each others personal space for the gel to form. Jam = best tasting gel ever.
recipe for 3 ingredient peach jam no added pectin

I could explain where exactly these negative charges occur but that would involve diagrams and lengthy explanations of hairy and smooth regions, what the difference is between alpha and beta 1,4-GalA is and the gelling requirements of high and low methylated pectins. This is a baking blog after all, not a journal article. I've done one of those. They're only interesting in their own unique circumstances. It is sufficient to say that the best way of getting that pectin out of the fruit is to leave it to sit for a while. Mix it with the sugar and leave it alone. Just like this.
recipe for 3 ingredient peach jam no added pectin

I have spent a daft amount of lab time extracting pectin from melons so even though it looks like nothing is happening, I know the right stuff is going on. You could add more sugar but you don't need to. Granted it will mean boiling time will be shorter as you will reach the right sugar concentration faster but really, save yourself the cost. Think about it, jams have been made for centuries to preserve fruit when refrigeration and freezing methods weren't available. Sugar used to be mega expensive and only for the rich so the poorer folk who needed to preserve all they could for as long as possible would have used the minimum amount they could get away with. I swear it tastes better this way too. More fruity and less saccharine sweet. More mmmmmmm-ness.
recipe for 3 ingredient peach jam no added pectin

Spread it on toast, put it into a tart or bake it into muffins. There are so many uses for jam. This one is refreshingly flavoured with a beautiful hit of fruit and all the sensations of the bright summer months that peaches evoke. One final note. My jam is so dark because I didn't peel the peaches. Feel free to get rid of the skin though if you prefer but I should warn you that the skin is where a lot of the important pectin resides alongside the good for you fibre. I really hate jams with massive lumps of fruit in but after mushing up the peach chunks as part of the process the skin isn't a bother at all. It adds something more to the flavour I think. That's another promise.

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Peach Jam
Summery, fruity and sweet. An ideal way to make summer stretch into the months ahead. Ideal for breakfasts and baked goods alike.
  • 1kg peaches, stones removed and roughly diced
  • 430g granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
1. Stir toghether the diced fruit and the sugar in a large saucepan and set aside for about an hour. Use this time to sterilise a few jars by washing them in hot soapy water, rinsing in clean water then heating in an oven at about 140 C for 20 mins or so.2. Place a saucer in the fridge and bring the fruit mixture to a bowl and maintain for 10 mins over a high heat, stirring frequently so nothing burns at the bottom.3. Add the lemon juice and mash the fruit to your desired level of chunkiness with a potato masher. Boil for a while longer, again stirring very frequently, until the jam reaches 105 C on a sugar thermometer. A confirmation test, or if you don't have a thermometer is to remove fromthe heat, place a tsp of jam on the cold saucer and put back in the fridge for half a minute. Push a finger through it and if it wrinkles it is ready. If not, boil and stir some more.4. Once ready, pour or scoop the jam into your sterilised jars right to the top and cover with discs of baking or waxed paper. Screw on the lids and leave to cool completely.

I'm just in time to squeeze this into Shaheen's Vegetable Palette challenge over at Allotment 2 Kitchen where the theme is mellow yellow and orange. Before the concentration of colour in the jam making process the shades found in peaches make this recipe ideal. 

Friday, 22 August 2014

Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Courgette Brownies

Another brownie recipe so soon after these beauties? I'm really pleased with how well they've done because they were received so well outside of cyberspace too. Before 9:15 am too no less. These brownies are just as chocolatey but in a different way. It must be the courgettes. They work wonders for enhancing other flavours and I swear you won't be able to taste veg (technically fruit) in your dessert. Please trust me on this. Why would I lie about cake?

I know I've already given you a bunch of courgette recipes but I'm having so much fun experimenting that I can't help myself. There's been these wonderful muffins, this double chocolate loaf and on the savoury side these cheddar and spring onion fritters. I've also got a delicious flan to come and several other cakes, and let's not forget the recipes I've tried but my family devoured too quickly for me to photograph, but for now let's focus on these brownies.

They aren't based on my usual recipe like these overloaded brownies. Nor are they born out of these other ultra fudgy  gluten free brownies. They are still wonderful and one which I'll no doubt adapt for a different gluten free purpose at some point but these brownies are something else. The final in my trio of go-to recipes for brownies for different occasions and additions.

Mum described them as mousse like. And fudgy. That's practically an oxymoron I know but it's true. They have the decadent fudgy depth that everybody loves in a brownie and yet a moussey pudding texture that stops them from being heavy. The chocolate flavour is created by the cocoa powder used in the mixture and boosted by the melted chocolate to create something which is full bodied and proud to say so. There is no hint of weakness about these. The hand cut chunks of chocolate scattered on top give another texture in each bite and did I happen to mention they are stuffed with pockets of Nutella?

You can eat these and feel like you are being the naughtiest person in the world. Every sensation they ignite is the epitome of indulgence and get here is the really surprising thing. They healthy than your average brownie. Yes, way.

Less melted chocolate, less fat (and unsaturated fat too), a little less sugar and no eggs. And not a hint of the truth! You don't miss any of these things. The only thing you will miss is the brownies themselves when they are gone too quick. Whoever created the original recipe deserves a medal, making something suitable for egg allergy sufferers that so many egg eaters have taken and adapted as their own. The mixture feels wrong and weird to work with but it works. Oh it works so well. If you haven't got a glut of courgettes to use up then I urge you to get to the shops to buy some fast.

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Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Courgette Brownies
A wonderfully fudgy, very chocolatey brownie to use up some of those courgettes (zucchini) in the most delicious of ways.
  • Nutella
  • 90g + 50g (separately) dark chocolate e.g. Bournville, chopped
  • 60ml oil
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated courgette
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
1. Scoop 9 teaspoonfuls of Nutella onto a baking paper lined tray and place in the fridge or freezer to set.2. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and line a 8" baking tray with baking paper. Melt the 90g chocolate and leave to cool slightly.3. Whisk in the oil, sugar and vanilla then mix in the grated courgette. It will seem stiff but perservere - it works.4. Sift in the flour and cocoa and mix to combine. The mixture will seem dry but keep going, it will come together. Spread out and level in the lined tray. Place a Nutella scoop in the centre of where each square will be and push down so they are covered. Scatter over the chocolate chunks.5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 mins. Go slightly longer if you prefer brownies firmer. Remove and cool completely in the tin on a wire rack then carefully remove and slice into 9 squares.

I'm so pleased with these brownies that I hope other people will be too so I'm sharing them with CookBlogShare run by Lucy at Supergolden Bakes.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014


I remember the day we got you. A hyperactive joyful bundle of fur, ready and trying to greet everyone you came across. Downy fluff exploding everywhere. At four and a half months you still had the pillowy soft coat of a puppy with no trace of the coarseness that often marks an older specimen of your breed. That coarseness never came. I thought you were the ugliest dog I had ever seen. Massive plodding paws and needles for teeth, a yard long tongue lolling because you were exhausting yourself with your enthusiasm for everything. I was determined not to love you yet within thirty seconds of Dad leading you out of the kennels and letting you into the car I had an arm round you in a cuddle. That was all the permission you needed to lick your kisses right round my face, sticking your tongue in my mouth when I tried to rid myself of the hairs you were being so generous with. That wasn't pleasant but I laughed anyway.

I remember how on the way home you wouldn't lie down. You jumped all over the back seat, all over me. Whining ensued. You took a short break to be sick down my favourite coat. 

I remember how we couldn't think of a name for you but were certain that your first name of Tess wasn't you at all. 

I remember those first few days of you arriving home, when it was just me and you. I remember your excited greeting, tail going wild when I came downstairs in the morning like you had been waiting for me all night. I remember when you drank my milk from the glass I had put on the carpet by my feet. No Cass, I wasn't sharing. 

I remember when you coughed up a worm. Then licked it up and licked your lips. No way were you ever giving me kisses again. 

I remember how I was so scared you'd run off I would put you on the lead to take you out for the toilet. In the back garden. I had to make sure you got back in the house somehow, even if you did bite my feet all the while. That hurt by the way.

I remember how when I tried to teach you things you thought your name was Fetch. You never did obey me. 

I remember how you used to steal our bobbles right out of our hair. So gentle and yet so adament they shouldn't be there. But you should be given a comfy place to sit. On my lap, full on, curled up, even when you grew. It was years before that one wore off.
I remember that first Christmas. One evening of the holidays we went to watch a film with Christopher but also learned our lesson that night. You did not like housesitting. Either that or you do not like trays of two dozen eggs to remain intact on the kitchen side. And your design tastes are questionable, thinking both chairs ought to have holes in and stuffing pulled out.

Life moved on and you settled in. You bloomed into the most gorgeous dog imaginable. Gracious and majestic and ladylike. Not when you ran though. Then it was wild wolf barely tamed to a German Shepherd. You were Dad's cab companion for a while until you caused him to crash his truck. Then promptly saved his life.

The time you got knocked over was sickening. Still just a pup and they wanted to destroy you. A shattered hip and no hope. We disagreed. You were brave and held on through the pain. I'm still smug that you didn't snap at me that day in distress but did at your favourite Dad. Even after the wounds healed you bore a scar under your eye where the fur grew back a different colour. You were still a beauty and loved to hear us say so.

The years turned and we both grew up. I still loved to be with you and we had our own special ways with each other. You'd gently grasp my hand to take me to show me what you wanted. We'd play the feet game, you getting more and more rowdy but we'd continue anyway until you started to cheat. I'd make you shake hands properly, like humans do. And you soon learned that to get your own way all you had to do was present a paw and those eyes.

It was incredible how strong you were under all that beauty. A facade for lean muscles. You could, and did, knock me out of the way with a nudge of your head. Right on that pointy bit at the top of your forehead too just for good measure. It was years before Mum managed to fatten you up but even then the strength remained. You were not to be messed with. A proper Yorkshire girl.

Even though I knew I was never top on your list, I know you missed me when I went to university. At the end of every visit home you'd show your distaste by sulking when I piled my bags up to go back. I know you still loved me though. We had our own bond.

For some reason I would play with you while doing the washing up. You must have liked that because that one stuck and you would bring me your favourite toy of the day each time I had my arms in the soapy water. I couldn't say no.

Supper time was something else you stuck to but that one was Mum's fault not mine. Half on the kitchen floor and half off you would stare at us, head between your paws, until you got something. You would go back for seconds too if one of us got our supper at a different time, hoping that we wouldn't realise you'd already managed to wangle something.

When you started to get ill we took you to the vets and played all sorts of games to get your tablets down you. Each little thing we treated, sometimes with prescribed medication and sometimes with our own ways. You really didn't like the smell of tea tree oil or aloe vera.

Things carried on and we accepted you were getting older. Some days you didn't act your age in the slightest while others you did until you saw a cat or the hosepipe came out. Then you showed you had been fooling us all along. 

This summer was different though. The first time you collapsed we thought it was heatstroke and the vet agreed, even though you had the freedom to choose when to be outside or in the shade. You used that freedom too even if you did ignore all the mid-day sun warnings because you always did like to sunbathe. The second time you collapsed we put it down to heatstroke again and gave you fewer chances to go outside in the warmth. A cool floor, shady rooms and extra bowls of water were the options we gave you. The third time though it wasn't even warm, never mind hot. You didn't show any improvement along your previous timescale, being lethargic and barely moving all weekend. We got you to a different vets to get you seen to quicker and they wanted to do a scan. By that point we knew deep down it wouldn't be long but we didn't realise just how few days we had left with you.

On the Monday you had your scan. An hour appointment turned to less than twenty minutes because at the first image the vet could see such a big growth on your spleen it wasn't worth investigating further. Add to that the obvious kidney failure and severe anaemia from the blood results. I took you out of the vets amazed at the strength I could feel on the end of the lead still but knowing we had to make a decision fast. Wednesday was set as the day. By Tuesday morning we realised we couldn't make you live in so much pain for any longer and we reconciled to do it that night.

We all went with you into that room. It took two lots of sedatives to calm you down because outside of the home you were acting like your normal hyper, I-want-to-love-everbody-and-sniff-every-object self. That was the hardest part, seeing you so full of life and energy but knowing that your quality of life was in fact nil. How could we force you to live any longer when each time the growth bled you were being tortured from the inside? Which would be the time when it bled and didn't stop until it sucked all the life out of you slowly and painfully?

While the sedatives were taking hold we fussed you like our fussing alone could make you healthy again. Hugs and kisses all round, each one of use so covered in fur it looked like we hadn't changed our clothes in days. I convinced myself that you didn't know because I thought it would be easier that way yet it appeared that just before you went semi-unconscious you came to see each of us in turn like a final goodbye while you still could. 

When you slumped we all crouched around you barely giving the vet and the nurse room to do their job. Still we carried on fussing and murmuring how good and beautiful you were. Not one word was a lie.

By this time your blood vessels were so collapsed it took so many attempts to get the catheter in that I lost count. You were stubborn to the last. Despite the distress this was causing the vet and then the nurse when she tried, they both remained calm and gentle, not wanting to cause you any more discomfort. Then the vile yellow fluid went in and you died.

Through the sobs and tears we said our last goodbyes and I felt you grow cold. It was a struggle to leave you laying there when such a short time ago we had led you in still pulling on the lead like you were eager to go on an adventure. We wanted to take care of you, clean you up ourselves and take you home, not leave it to someone else. How could we be sure they would treat you with the respect you deserved, give the care you needed?

Then we waited. We didn't know how long it would take to have you back with us and in the meantime we kept seeing you in the garden and in the hall. We heard your groans and sighs throughout the day. Except we didn't. You were gone.

No longer do we need to put things on the chairs when we go out so you can't climb in them. No longer do we need to trip over toys and remember to refill your water dish. We have nobody to remind us of where the keys are if we don't open the door quick enough in the morning, nor that 4pm has arrived and we haven't yet opened that bag of food. 

No longer do I need to pull off the straggly bits of bacon and let them go cold while we eat our Sunday bacon cobs. No longer do I need to make sure that 23rd November is celebrated with a special treat and a candle. No longer will I have a friend while I shed the chicken carcass of its meat.

We have no reason to squeak the toys in shops now to see which is the toughest and we can go for walks if we wish that don't involve having our arms wrenched from their sockets. We can sit down for a cup of tea without having to jump straight back up to get a treat from the cupboard to avoid a burning glare. 

I have nobody to come for walks down the village with me when I'm at home in the summer and nobody to tell to look after Mum and Dad when I return to university after a visit. I don't need to dog sit any more when Mum and Dad go to Dorset.

Mum will have to do all the digging in the garden herself now and Dad will have to work in the garage on his own.

In time we will no longer need to hoover practically every day though we will be finding random clumps of your fluff for months to come. The French doors can be washed and stay clean for more than thirty seconds and the walls won't have a grimy stripe next to your favourite spots. 

It was right that I was with you in the car when we took you to the vets that one last time just as I was with you when we brought you home. I'll always be thankful that I got to be with you in your final moments.

Now your ashes are back and I can't accept that such a big dog can be reduced to so little. It isn't you in that box. It can't be. You have too much fur and life to fit in anything like it.

It took nearly a week to have you back home with us. Bringing you through the front door again eased the hurt of having to leave you in that room, but only a little. There is still your hole in our lives which can never be filled and have instead got to learn to live with.

Thank you Cassie for loving us unconditionally and looking after us so well. You were so much. Intelligent, faithful, funny, beautiful and so many other things that cannot be said but simply felt. You will always be loved, always be missed but never, ever forgotten. Goodnight Cassie. Go find a big stick. I'll see you on the other side. 

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie treats. Quick, simple, just a few ingredients and something I should not be allowed to make. Ever. Fortunately for my taste buds I am not quite strong enough to declare that I am never making them again, like I did over strawberries after making this Strawberry Dacquiri Traybake. I'm simply stating that I shouldn't make them. But you know, I do a lot of things I shouldn't and most of them involve sugar.

I've had a hankering to make Rice Krispie treats or cornflake cakes for a while now but it's not the sort of thing I have much of an opportunity to make. Mum prefers traditional cakes and I can't make a whole batch for myself. Well I could but it wouldn't do me much good health wise. Satisfaction wise though oh my God yes.

It got to the end of July and enough was enough. I had to pacify my desire to make the simplest of goodies and to hell with how childish melting marshmallows and mixing in cereal is. A well made Krispie treat is a thing of beauty and as such should be celebrated. I did consider doing this by going all out overloaded brownies style but after collecting so many ideas for toppings and add-ins (thanks for stealing hours of my life Pinterest) I decided to keep things relatively simple.

Recently I've been on a peanut butter kick so I had to get some in there somehow. My first attempt was of an adapted version of Edd Kimber's Nutella & Banana Bites. They were ok but I was nowhere near happy with the photos and the peanut butter didn't come through strong enough. These were round two with the excuse that they are for my nephews to take to their new home with them. They don't need to know that I neatened up the bars several times over. By God they are good.

If peanut butter was to feature then chocolate had to too. I already knew that peanut butter and white chocolate was a good combination but after today I might even prefer it to peanut buter and milk chocolate. The topping is one I could (sort of did) spoon straight from the bowl into my mouth. I made sure not to dilute the peanut butter flavour either by adding normal butter - for once butter has no place here. Sticky, chewy, crispy, crunchy with a melting layer of pleasure on top. Peanut butter lovers can delight in the earthy indulgence infusing both layers in every bar. Peanut butter all the way.

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Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats
A childhood and adulthood favourite combines marshmallows, Rice Krispies and a lot of peanut butter to make something very, very addictive.
For the base:
  • 150g marshmallows, cut into smaller pieces
  • 100g peanute butter, smooth or crunchy as you prefer
  • 75-100g Rice Krispies (depending on how gooey you prefer)
To finish:
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped
  • 50g peanute butter, smooth or crunchy as you prefer
  • Handful of white chocolate chips
1. Grease a suitable tin or use a silicone one. Melt the marshmallows and peanut butter in the microwave, stirring periodically to combine. 2. Stir in the Rice Krispies and quickly press into your tin/silicone tray. Smooth as best as you can with a lightly oiled spatula. Leave to cool and set in the fridge.3. For the topping melt the chopped chocolate nad peanut butter together in the microwave. Pour onto the base, smooth out and sprinkle on the chocolate chips. Leave to set then cut into bars.

Both my own Biscuit Barrel challenge and Treat Petite hosted by Stuart from Cakeyboi this month, alternating with Kat from The Baking Explorer, have the theme of No Bake this month so I'm sharing these Rice Krispie treats with these. Also, Rebecca from Bake N Quilt has chosen the theme of marshmallows for We Should Cocoa which she is hosting on behalf of Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog. We must not forget the important role played by marshmallows in these!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show 20% Discount Code

Do you remember how excited I got in this post for the BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show? Well, the lovely people who organise it have given me another treat to share with you - a discount code for 20% off ticket prices! I am so looking forward to the adventure to London, and goodness knows how much sugar I will consume that day. Here's some more infor about the offer. Perhaps I'll see you there?

The BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show launches in London on 25-27th October Half term. 
Save 20% today! Simply quote 20PAR7 when you book.  Offer ends 30thth September.
Packed with baking, bread-making and cake-crafting demonstrations, free step-by-step master classes, and hundreds of essential baking products, this is the perfect place to develop your home baking hobby. 
Plus, you can watch Mary Berry, Mich Turner, John Whaite, Paul Hollywood, and more of your favourite bakers LIVE at the show! A seat in the Bakes & Cakes Theatre is included in every full day adult advance ticket.  Book yours before 30th September and save 20%!
So come on, book your tickets today and if you see an excited 20 something year old running from stall to stall with a mass of bags, come over and say hi!

20% discount code: 20PAR7

*Offer valid on Adult and Concession standard advance tickets only.  Offer ends 30.09.14.  †Standard Bakes & Cakes Theatre seat included per advance standard ticket, subject to availability. Gold seats available for £3 extra per person. All admin and transaction fees included. Ticket terms and conditions apply. Not all celebrities appear on all days, check the website for details. Information correct at time of print. Good Food® Good Food logo© BBC Worldwide.
All images and most of the text are courtesy of BBC Good Food. Opinions expressed are my own and this is not a paid post