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Introducing Breakfast Club

Breakfast lovers unite!  I’m pleased to say that I’ll be co-hosting a monthly link up called the Breakfast Club. This is the first month of the newly re-launched Breakfast Club, co-hosted by myself and Sarah from Maison Cupcake.

Originally started by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours, Breakfast Club is the place to share and celebrate the variety of things people eat for breakfast.  From sausage sandwiches and bacon butties, to waffles with berries and cream, and everything in between. If you eat it for breakfast we want you to share it with us!

Breakfast Club Blogger Link Up

You may enter up to two dishes per month. We don’t mind your dishes being entered to other events, but the post must be newly published material. All entrants participating in Breakfast Club are also offered an invite to pin to the Breakfast Club Pinterest Board.

Breakfast Club Pinterest Board

To get you going, here are some ideas of things you can enter into Breakfast Club:

Bacon and sausages
Bagels and pretzels
Breads
Breakfast bars
Brunch dishes
Cereals, granolas, mueslis
Cooked breakfasts
Egg dishes including tortillas and omelettes
French toast
Fruit based salads
Home cured meats
Home made cheeses
International breakfast dishes
Jams, curds, preserves
Kedgerees
Pancakes, crepes and blini
Pastries and muffins
Porridges
Nut butters and spreads
Scones and drop scones
Smoothies, shakes and juices
Soy milk or soy yogurt dishes
Waffles and griddled things
Toasties or things on toast
Yogurt dishes

Please publish your new post linking to the current host’s (Andrea Made With Pink) monthly announcement post, and the co- host’s blog (which this month is Sarah Maison Cupcake). If you mention either of us on Twitter (@Made_With_Pink and @MaisonCupcake) with the #BreakfastClub hashtag, we’ll try to RT as many entries as we can.

Don’t forget to include the below Breakfast Club badge in your post as well!

Breakfast Club Blogger Link Up

I’ll be posting a recap of all the entries at the end of the month.

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Breakfast Club

Breakfast lovers unite!  I’m pleased to say that I’ll be co-hosting a monthly link up called the Breakfast Club. This is the first month of the newly re-launched Breakfast Club, co-hosted by myself and Sarah from Maison Cupcake.

Originally started by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours, Breakfast Club is the place to share and celebrate the variety of things people eat for breakfast.  From sausage sandwiches and bacon butties, to waffles with berries and cream, and everything in between. If you eat it for breakfast, we want you to share it with us!

You may enter up to two dishes per month. We don’t mind your dishes being entered to other events, but the post must be newly published material. All entrants participating in Breakfast Club are also offered an invite to pin to the Breakfast Club Pinterest Board.

Breakfast Club Pinterest Board

To get you going, here are some ideas of things you can enter into Breakfast Club:

Bacon and sausages
Bagels and pretzels
Breads
Breakfast bars
Brunch dishes
Cereals, granolas, mueslis
Cooked breakfasts
Egg dishes including tortillas and omelettes
French toast
Fruit based salads
Home cured meats
Home made cheeses
International breakfast dishes
Jams, curds, preserves
Kedgerees
Pancakes, crepes and blini
Pastries and muffins
Porridges
Nut butters and spreads
Scones and drop scones
Smoothies, shakes and juices
Soy milk or soy yogurt dishes
Waffles and griddled things
Toasties or things on toast
Yogurt dishes

Please publish your new post linking to the current host’s (Andrea Made With Pink) monthly announcement post, and the co- host’s blog (which this month is Sarah Maison Cupcake). If you mention either of us on Twitter (@Made_With_Pink and @MaisonCupcake) with the #BreakfastClub hashtag, we’ll try to RT as many entries as we can.

Don’t forget to include the below Breakfast Club badge in your post as well!

Breakfast Club Blogger Link Up

The Cake and Bake Show – What I Really Thought

This past weekend finally saw the highly anticipated Cake and Bake Show come to London. The Cake and Bake Show was labeled as “the first live event dedicated to the world of cakes, breads and the art of baking.”

The show had a star studded line up of demonstrators and guest speakers set to appear including British baking royalty Marry Berry, Paul Hollywood, Mitch Turner, Eric Lanlard, Peggy Porschen and more.

I hadn’t actually planned on attending The Cake and Bake Show as I’d already attended two cake and sugarcraft shows (Squires & Cake International) earlier in the year, and acquired enough new equipment, lustre dusts and colourings to last me at least a year.  


The two day Cake and Bake Show had been sold out for weeks.  As I hadn’t intended on going I didn’t arrange for a press ticket, but then didn’t want to appear cheeky by requesting one at the last minute.  So when I got an email two weeks before the event stating that additional tickets for the Sunday show had been released, I bought one and decided that attending another cake show couldn’t hurt.  In addition to my entry ticket I also bought a “classroom” ticket to the Hand Painted Cakes session.  I’d missed out on some of the free classes at the Cake International show that allowed you to decorate cupcakes, and learn new cookie decorating techniques amongst others.  I thought that by booking a space in the classroom I would be guaranteed a seat and also be supplied with some materials to practice on during the class.  I was wrong, but I’ll come back to that part later.

First things first. I arrived at Earls Court around 10:30am, and was cheerfully ushered inside by a venue staff member.  I was really excited to see there weren’t any long lines to get in, and assumed I would be able to walk straight into the show.  Nope. Upon walking down a small flight of stairs and turning the corner my heart sank when I saw the excessively long line to enter the show.  In fact I couldn’t see then beginning of the line and I couldn’t see the end either.  I ended up waiting in line in the dimly lit basement corridors of Earls Court for nearly half an hour before I got into the show.

The crowd to see Marry Berry.  Don’t worry – you’re not the only one who can’t spot her!

When I did finally get in, I wasn’t prepared for just how busy the show would be.  It was packed.  Marry Berry was on stage doing a demonstration, but the crowds were so thick I couldn’t even see the stage.  I had no idea where to go or what to see, so I tried to find a printed map of the show I could take with me, only to discover that I would have to pay £3 for a show guide and map.  I didn’t buy it incase I needed the cash later in the day.   I walked past the stage to explore the  and ventured into the classroom area, which was quite bare and quiet compared to the main part of the show.   It was here that discovered the class I booked, wasn’t in fact an interactive class, but just a seat I’d secured in a demonstration area.  I was beyond disappointed, and genuinely felt that I’d been “had”.  Especially when I noticed non-paying onlookers watching the exact same demonstrations while standing just outside the classroom paid “VIP” area. 

To avoid paying £3 for a show guide I had to take a photo of the map on my phone. Notice the confusing floor layout

I made my way back to the main room to explore what was on show, but found the layout to be extremely confusing.  I ended up wasting a lot of time wandering around looking for specific booths, and even ended up needing directions via twitter on where the book store and signing area was.  In the end I ended up taking pictures of the classroom schedules and show layout on my iphone from one of the 3 large display boards that were scattered around the show so I’d have something to refer to because I didn’t fork over the £3 for the show guide.  

Marry Berry (a tad blurry) seconds before she was escorted away by security


Apologies for the horrific quality and lack of photos from the show, but it was so crowded I didn’t take many.

One of the “classroom” areas – £8 to sit down inside the “VIP” area, Free to stand and watch outside

I really can’t comment on the rest of the show because it was so ridiculously crowded and poorly laid out that I couldn’t muster up the energy to push my way through the crowds. In the end I spent the majority of my time waiting for and watching a couple of the smaller demonstrations, which also allowed me to sit down.  I did explore the retail stalls nearer to the end of the show once the crowds had thinned out.  The retails stalls were a lot of the same ones I’d seen at Cake International earlier in the year, but with a much smaller selection of products and mainly geared to cupcakes, and a bit of sugarcraft.  Aside from a few specialty flour sellers, I saw very little in the way of baking anything other than cupcakes.  I will say that I was very impressed with the colour range of the Squires Kitchen cupcake cases though.

I sat in on Peggy’s hand moulded rose demonstrations which was excellent

Peggy demonstrating how to make her signature “vintage bloom” sugar flowers


Negatives aside, I accomplished what I wanted to get out of the show.  I managed to purchase Edd Kimber’s new book, and have him sign it.  I even got to see Marry Berry up close before she was whisked away by her team of security (15 minutes prior to the scheduled end of her book signing I might add).  I got to sit in on two excellent flower demonstrations by Peggy Porschen and her team – both free, and in a more private setting with better lighting than the rest of the paid classrooms.  And I really did enjoy the hand painted cakes class instructed by Natasha Collins of Nevie-Pie Cakes.  I came away with a clear understanding of what materials and techniques are involved in order to create gorgeous hand painted cakes and cookies, but I only wish we would have had a chance to put some of those techniques to use on a fondant covered cookie.


Natasha’s hand painted cakes demo – she made it look sooo easy!

The Goods: 

– If you’re willing to brave the crowds, you had the chance to get up close and personal with your favourite celebrity bakers.
– There looked like there was a lot to keep kids occupied (cupcake decorating, demo watching, etc)
– If you were looking for funky cupcake cases there were TONS available
– There were some excellent free demonstrations, although seating was very limited
– The retail stalls allowed you to see and purchase physical products rather than ordering them online. 
– The Book People were selling a great range of recipe books at online prices – I was thrilled that I was able to purchase Edd’s book for £10 rather than the £19 cover price

The Bads:

– Tired venue and very confusing layout. It was also very poorly lit.
– Too much focus on cupcakes
– The lines for the bathrooms were crazy long.  I had my first drink of the day at 3pm in order to avoid having to go to the bathroom
– Ticketed demonstrations were easily watched by onlookers for free & we weren’t given the opportunity to practice what we learnt.
– The crowds.  I’d recommend the organisers look to extend future shows to 3 days
– There was a lack of actual cake & snacks that were available to purchase and eat on the spot.  The venue cafe actually ran out of sandwiches, so all the was available to eat were crisps and brownies that weren’t even supplied by any of the independent businesses involved with the show.  I ended up spending £4.10 on a small glass bottle of pepsi and a bag of crisps.

Top Tips:

– Bring cash – a lot of the independent stalls only accept cash
– If your making larger purchases, ask the stalls to keep them behind the counter for you (with your name firmly secured on them to ensure they’re not re-sold!) until you’re ready to leave
– Wear comfortable shoes and light clothing
– Bring your own water bottle, and a light snack in your handbag
– Arrive early (and I mean early!) to ensure you bag a good seat for any of the free demonstrations
– Go with a plan of what you want to see, and when & where they’ll be appearing in order to avoid wandering around aimlessly

I really hope the organisers of the Cake and Bake Show will take all of the reviews that are being discussed and blogged about at the moment into consideration in preparation of the next Cake and Bake Show this April Manchester.

So what about you guys?  Did you go to the Cake and Bake Show?  What did you think?

Visiting The 2011 London Real Food Festival

What do you get when you combine fabulous wine, organic olive oils, spicy chorizo, local cheeses, gluten free brownies and adorable little baby lambs all together all under one roof?  The 4th annual London Real Food Festival that’s what!  Yesterday I attended day 3 of the 4 day event, and I had a fabulous time wandering around the festival exploring and chatting to the nearly 250 exhibitors who were showcasing their products.  It was great to see such a wide variety of food products on show, many of which were either organic or free range.


Almost every stall was giving away free samples of their food, so of course I had to take full advantage of them!  The first thing I stopped to try were some delicious handmade chocolates by Sciolti.  Their award winning chocolates use natural and locally sourced ingredients such as fruit, flowers and cream.  I tried their Kir Royal chocolate and it was delicious!  The filling was so smooth, and full of black current flavour.  I wish I would have remembered to go back and buy a selection of them to take home.  If you do get the chance to sample their chocolates I highly recommend them!


Next I stopped by My Sweet Tooth Factory and sampled some of their Oreo cheesecake squares which were really tasty.  They were also selling a variety of cupcakes and a really really nice and moist looking Red Velvet Cake – which I didn’t try, but really wish I did.  I wasn’t familiar with My Sweet Tooth Factory before today, but I was told they sell their cakes on Sundays at the Brick Lane Market.  

One of the things I was pleasantly surprised with was the Chocolate Fudge from The Old Chapel Fudge Company (their website is currently under construction).  Back home in Canada I used to love fudge, but since moving to the UK I haven’t been able to find fudge like we had back home.  Most of the fudge I’ve tried over here has been extremely sweet and rather dry and crumbly – and I’ll admit I usually end up throwing it out after a bite or two.  But not this time.  The Chocolate Fudge I tried had a rich and dense consistency, and was probably the closest thing to North American fudge I’ve tasted since living in the UK.  If you’re not a fan of chocolate fudge, don’t worry because The Old Chapel Fudge Company had a wide variety of flavours to choose from.


There were so many delicious foods on offer at the Real Food Fest, so I was really thankful for all the samples that were being given out – there was no way I could eat more than 1 or 2 full sized portions.  After wandering around and stopping off to eat one of the best hamburgers I’ve had in a long time (sorry – can’t remember the name of the place!) it was time to explore more of the baking stalls.  

One of the first things that caught my eye after lunch was the most amazing looking Rich Chocolate Tart from The Pudding Stop.  This thing was seriously good!  It had the richest smoothest chocolate filling, but still somehow managed to taste light as air and not heavy at all.  If you manage to make it down to the last day of the Real Food Festival tomorrow I’d definitely recommend trying this one!  



Another thing that got my attention was the fabulous looking cupcake display from Sweet Things.  And after reading rave reviews about their cupcakes yesterday by I Heart Cupcakes, I decided that this would be the only cupcake I would try at the festival as I absolutely hate wasting money on bad cupcakes!  Sweet things sell loads of other yummy treats beside cupcakes, and they also have a large selection of wheat free cakes.  I bought one of the last regular vanilla cupcakes they had left.  It was very nice, and had a really yummy icing on top that I’m pretty sure was  swiss meringue.  


Finally I stopped by to see Caroline who owns and operates the fabulous Sugar Grain which specialise in gluten free and wheat free products.  I’d met Caroline once before at a food blogging event, and she was so lovely I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her and her products since!  Sugar Grain have a stall at Borough Market, and I’ve been wanting to stop by and sample some of her products for ages but just never got the chance until today.  I had a hard time choosing what to try, but I opted for the award winning Raspberry and White Chocolate Chunk Brownie and I’m so glad I did.  That thing was seriously good!  And I’m not just saying that to be nice!  The brownie was so nice and moist, and had a rich chocolate flavour bursting with fresh raspberries.  If I hadn’t have waited until I left the Real Food Festival to try it I would have gone back and bought a second one.  


There was no way I could stop and sample everything without physically exploding (or going totally broke), but there were a few other things that caught my eye, although I don’t remember the the names of companies who were selling them.

Giant meringues 

Savoury macarons accompanied by your choice of cheese

And of course there were sweet macarons too!

If you’re looking for something to do today – Sunday May 8th, then I’d definitely suggest visiting the Real Food Festival.  There are loads of different foods and products available, and don’t worry they’re not all sweet!  Like I mentioned before, there was a wide variety of meats, cheeses, fish, olive oils, spices, cereals, breads, fresh vegetables etc.  You name it, they have it!  And bring your kids too because they had the most adorable little baby lambs on display courtesy of the Real Farm Lambing School in Scotland. 

Cute!

This was my first visit the Real Food Festival and I had a great time exploring and trying all of the different products that were available. I will definitely be back again next year!  If you do manage to stop by today, and if I would recommend one thing for you to try it would be Sugar Grain’s award winning Raspberry and White Chocolate Chunk Brownie.  Simply divine!

Oh No. It’s That Strange Vegetable Pie Again!

I had originally intended to have this post ready for Canadian Thanksgiving way back in October, but I never got around to making my pumpkin pie. Until now. Coincidentally, just in time for American Thanksgiving. I had been wanting to make pumpkin pie for ages, which required numerous phone calls home to mom for the recipe since I’d never made it before. I’ve been on a bit of a pumpkin kick lately (you’ll see what I mean over the next week or so!), and I really wanted to make a pumpkin pie so I could introduce it to all my UK friends who’d never had it before. You see, pumpkin pie is a very typical fall / autumn dessert in North America, and is traditionally served at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I remember my first autumn in the UK – I wanted to make a batch of my favourite pumpkin spice cupcakes, but I couldn’t find any canned pumpkin. It just doesn’t exist here unless you can get to one of the few places in London that carry imported American foods such as Whole Foods. But don’t worry – I have a solution for that!

When you mention pumpkin to people here in the UK, they tend to think of things like pumpkin risotto or pumpkin ravioli. You know, savoury things. Definitely not sweet things like pies, cakes, muffins, brownies or breads. I think we North Americans have a real knack for turning absolutely everything imaginable into some kind of sweet dessert or cake.

And as I mentioned in my post here the other day, I’ve found that most people in the UK don’t like overly sweet things. And because pumpkin pie isn’t too sweet, I’m pretty sure that people here in the UK would really like it if they got a chance to try it. But…. I didn’t know for sure, so I decided to turn my pumpkin pie into a pumpkin tart since a tart would have less pumpkin filling in it than the regular pie version. See…..

To make my pumpkin tart I cheated and used a pre-made pastry crust. I just couldn’t be bothered to make one from scratch. Why? Well, because I’d already spent a bunch of time making my own fresh pumpkin puree to use in my pie. I was going to use a can of Libby’s pumpkin puree (as shown in my picture below), but changed my mind at the last minute and decided to go with a fresh puree. Making your own pumpkin puree definitely takes a bit of time, but it’s really easy to do – I’ll explain below. In addition to a pie crust and pumpkin puree, you’ll also need some evaporated milk, eggs, sugar and a few spices.

Oh, and make sure you don’t throw away those pumpkin seeds! They make a fantastic little snack or garnish for your pie! 

Pumpkin Pie 

The following recipe is for a full 9″ pie. I’d recommend halving the recipe if you plan on making a tart like I did. I made the full recipe, and got the large rectangular tart above, 2 smaller individual heart tartlettes, and a 4″ round that was approx 2 inches deep.

2 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (recipe to follow) 

or the 5 following spices (but not both) 

1 ¾ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp salt

1 ¼ cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 ½ cups (325g)  canned pumpkin (fresh pumpkin recipe to follow)
1 large can (370ml – approx 2 ½ small UK cans) undiluted evaporated milk
1 unbaked pie crust

1. Preheat oven to 425ºF (230ºC). In a large bowl mix the spices, salt and sugar together. Add in the eggs, pumpkin and evaporated milk and beat until well mixed.

2. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch unbaked pie crust and at 425ºF (230ºC) for 15 minutes*, then reduce the heat to 350ºF (175ºC) and continue to bake for about 40* minutes until the edges are slightly puffed and a knife inserted into pie mixture comes out clean. Cool and serve with whipped cream.

*Because my tart wasn’t as deep as a regular pie, I baked mine for 10 minutes at 425ºF (230ºC), and then baked for a further 25-30 minutes at 350ºF (175ºC). 

Pumpkin Puree 

1 medium pumpkin – sugar pumpkins work well for this

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the “guts” and seeds (save the seeds to roast later – see recipe below). Place the pumpkin halves onto a baking sheet with the skin sides up and roast them in the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until the flesh is soft and tender.

2. Let the pumpkin cool for 10 minutes and then scoop out the pumpkin flesh into a large bowl. Using an immersion hand blender, puree the pumpkin until it’s nice and smooth.

3. Line a large strainer/colander with a clean fabric kitchen/tea towel, and place the whole thing in the since or in another bowl. Pour the pumpkin puree into the towel lined strainer and let it sit for 10 minutes to cool. Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, gather the corners of the towel so the pumpkin sits in a little sack. Start twisting the towel so that the water from the pumpkin begins to come out from the bottom of the towel. A LOT OF WATER WILL COME OUT. Keep on twisting the towel and squeezing the pumpkin until most of the water has been removed from the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be more of a solid pack consistency which is a bit hard to describe, but it should have the same consistency as normal canned pumpkin – see my photo below.

**The pumpkin I used was a 5lb (2.25kg) pumpkin before I removed the insides. After roasting and pureeing the flesh I managed to squeeze out exactly 3 cups (750ml) of liquid from the pumpkin, which then left me with exactly 1 ½ cups  (325g) of fresh pumpkin puree – just enough for the pie! 

Pumpkin Pie Spice 

In North America they sell pre-mixed jars of pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice is basically just a pre-made blend of the individual spices that are called for in a pumpkin pie. I make my own using the recipe below. I use it in a lot of different recipes, and it’s far easier than getting out a half dozen spice jars each time.

You’ll need:

An old empty spice jar, or other small container

3 Tbsp + 2 tsp Cinnamon
2 ¾ tsp Ground Nutmeg
2 ¾ tsp Ground Ginger
1 ½ tsp Ground Cloves

In a small bowl, whisk all of the spices together and transfer the blend into your old spice jar. Make sure you label your jar as “Pumpkin Spice” to avoid getting it mixed up with the other spices! That’s it. Simple! (Note: I don’t use All Spice in my Pumpkin Pie Spice, but I did use it in my pie). 

Candied Pumpkin Seeds 

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

3 Tbsp caster sugar (divided in half)
pinch of salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 Tbsp melted butter

1. Preheat your oven to 300ºF (155ºC). Wash the pumpkin seeds in a strainer or colander so they’re clean and free of any “pumpkin guts”. Pat them dry using a paper towel and spread them on a greased pan. Place them in the oven for about 45 mins, stirring every 10-15 mins. They should be crisp and a very light golden colour when done.

2. In a small bowl, combine 1½ Tbsp sugar together with the salt and pumpkin pie spice – set aside. In a non-stick pan, melt the butter and the remaining 1½ Tbsp sugar together over medium high heat for a minute or two until the sugar and butter are melted together – make sure the heat isn’t too high so it doesn’t burn! Dump in your pumpkin seeds, and stir so they’re all coated with the butter & sugar mixture. Once they’re all coated, sprinkle the remaining sugar & spice mixture over the pumpkin seeds, and continue to stir them in the hot pan until the sugar has melted and coated all of the seeds. This should only take a minute or two. Spread them back on your greased pan that you used for roasting them, and allow to cook before eating.

There ya go! Homemade pumpkin pie! Easy to make, and you don’t need to go out and find canned pumpkin if you don’t want to.

Oh, and if you can’t find a fresh pumpkin you can make the same pumpkin pie recipe using

butternut squash instead, although you may need 2 or 3 to get enough squash puree.