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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

Easter Mini Egg Caramel Pavlova

Easter mini egg caramel pavlova

A couple of years ago I visited the inaugural South of England Food & Drink Festival. It was one of the best foodie days out my husband and I had ever had. The atmosphere was so family friendly, the food stalls were great, and the indoor country market was full of local organic suppliers.  While we were there we met a couple of local organic egg farmers.  We couldn’t believe what great value their organic eggs were, so we went home with a few dozen which we quickly used up.

As the weeks passed by we completely forgot the name of the egg farmers (and the name of the food festival!), so we really had no idea where we could go to purchase more of their eggs.

Fast forward a couple of years, my husband and I were at watching Jamie & Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast on TV.   They were featuring a segment about food that goes to waste because supermarkets won’t sell it.  And all because it’s just a little bit funny looking!  Jamie and Jimmy visited an organic egg farm in Sussex that sold tiny little pullet eggs (these are the tiny first eggs hens start laying) to the public because the supermarkets won’t buy them because they’re too little. My husband realised that the egg farm that they were visiting just happened to be the same egg farm that we bought our eggs from at the food show a couple of years earlier.

The Macs Farm pullet eggs

Success! Thanks to Jamie & Jimmy we were able find out that the egg farm was only about a 40 minute drive away.  A few weeks later we headed down to The Macs Farm to buy some eggs!  There are several different grades of eggs that The Macs Farm sells.  The majority of the eggs they sell to the public are the imperfect ones that the supermarkets won’t buy. Eggs that aren’t uniform in size or colour, or ones with wrinkly shells (which I’m told are laid by older hens).  They also sell grade A eggs which are the same ones that you can buy in the supermarket.  We ended up purchasing about 12 dozen eggs that day because they were such good value. Yes, 12 dozen! Did I mention we go through a lot of eggs???

The Macs Farm pullet eggs

Buying eggs straight from the farm is much more economical than buying them from the supermarket.  A tray of 30 organic free range eggs will cost you £3.50 from The Macs Farm.  30 organic free range eggs from Tesco would cost you £9.75!

After getting home from The Macs Farm I was inspired to use some of my eggs to create a new dessert for the upcoming Easter holidays.

Easter mini egg caramel pavlova

My Easter mini egg caramel Pavlova showcases beautiful fluffy clouds of egg white meringue, sandwiched between layers of whipped cream and dulce de leche caramel, all topped off with a pile of delicious chocolatey cadbury mini eggs. And we all know that no Easter is complete without chocolate mini eggs.

Easter mini egg caramel pavlova

I really loved this pavlova.  It’s so light and fluffy, and it won’t leave you feeling overly full after an indulgent Easter lunch.  The added bonus is it’s super duper simple to make and assemble.

I used the Meringue Girls recipe for my pavlova discs, and I’ve always found to be pretty much fail proof. The key to the meringue recipe is to double the amount of sugar to egg whites.

Easter mini egg caramel pavlova

Easter Mini Egg Caramel Pavlova

Ingredients:

150g egg whites (roughly 3 egg whites)
300g castor sugar (must be double the weight of egg whites)
250ml whipped double cream
1-2 Tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 can Carnation caramel
300g chocolate mini eggs (half of them chopped or crushed).

Instructions:

1. Line a shallow baking dish with parchment paper, pour in the sugar and bake for about 5 minutes at 200°C (400°F) until the edges just begin to melt.
2. Meanwhile, pour the egg whites into the bowl of your stand mixer (make sure it’s clean & grease free). Using the whisk attachment, whisk on low speed allowing bubbles to form, increase to high and continue whisking until stiff peaks form. Egg whites should be stiff enough that you can turn the bowl upside down without the egg whites falling out.
3. Remove the sugar from the oven and begin whisking again at high speed. Add the sugar to the egg whites one big spoonful at a time. Once all the sugar is added, continue to whisk for 5 – 7 minutes, or until all the sugar is dissolved. You should be able to rub the mixture between your fingers and not feel any grit from the sugar, and it forms a smooth shiny peak on the tip of your finger.
4. Reduce the oven temperature to 100°C (200°F). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and trace four 6 inch circles on the paper (two on each paper). Place a dab of meringue on the bottom corners the parchment, and press down so the paper sticks to the pan.
5. Spoon equal amounts of the meringue mixture into each of the four circles. Use a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the meringue mixture evenly around the circle to form flat meringue discs.
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the meringue discs can easily be lifted off the parchment paper with their bases in tact. Let cool completely. The meringues discs can easily be stored in an airtight container will keep for up to two weeks.

To assemble the pavlova:

1. In a medium bowl, combine the double cream, icing sugar and vanilla, and whip until soft peaks form.
2. Spoon a large dollop of cream onto a cake plate, and place a meringue disc on top. (The cream will help to prevent the pavlova from sliding around). Spoon a thick layer of the whipped cream on top of the meringue disc, and then drop the caramel in even dollops overtop of the cream.
3. Repeat step 2 until placing the last disc on top. Spoon the remaining cream on top to the final disc, and top with chocolate mini eggs. Serve immediately.

Any remaining pavlova can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for a day or two, but the crispness of the pavlova will begin to diminish.

Easter mini egg caramel pavlova

Easter mini egg caramel pavlova

And because my Easter mini egg caramel Pavlova has chocolate mini eggs on top, I’m submitting it to a couple of foodie blogger linkups this month with the theme of chocolate.

Simply Eggcellent hosted by Dom over at Belleau Kitchen

Simply eggcellent

Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen from Lavendar and Lovage, and Jane from the Hedgecombers

teatime treats

Creative Eclairs

How to make eclairs

A few years ago, and a few months after I started this blog I also started to use Google Analytics.  There was a lot to learn, but I enjoyed seeing that my baking and blogging efforts were actually being viewed by people all around the world. It was really neat to see the number of people visiting my blog each day, as well as where they came from.  My inner geek was starting to emerge!
 
I’ll always remember when I first began to notice that people were visiting my blog after being directed to it from another blog.  Not only were people reading my blog, but they liked it enough to actually link to it!  One of the very first people to link to my blog was Ruth Clemens who writes the baking blog The Pink Whisk.  I started following Ruth’s blog after that, and it wasn’t long after that I realised that not only did Ruth write her blog The Pink Whisk, but she also appeared on my TV screen each week in the very first season of The Great British Bake Off.
 
 
Over the next few weeks I was captivated by Ruth’s creations on the Great British Bake Off, so it came as no surprise when she was crowned runner up in the very first season.  Ruth’s bakes were so different from all the other contestants, they were polished and extremely creative.  Ruth’s creativeness and her passion for baking, combined with her charming personality have allowed her to publish a string of successful baking books, the most recent  titled Creative Eclairs focuses exclusively on Eclairs, and choux pastry creations. 
 
 
 
I’ll always have a soft spot for Ruth, so I was thrilled when I received a preview copy of Creative Eclairs to review.  The book is wonderfully written, and includes loads of clear and detailed step by step photographs – something I don’t think enough recipe books include.  The real highlight of the book are the recipes themselves.  There are so many unique flavour combinations to choose from, you’ll be able to make a new one each week for at least 6 months!  Just have a look at the recipe index pages below.
 
 
I couldn’t wait to try my hand at making eclairs.  With so many different flavours to choose from it was too hard to choose just, so I opted for two instead – original vanilla creme patisserie and the mocha creme patisserie.  Both fillings were so easy to make, and tasted absolutely delicious.  I had to restrain myself to make sure I din’t eat the whole lot with a spoon!
 
How to make eclairs
I will admit that I didn’t have instant success with the choux pastry recipe though.  Ruth’s recipe calls for 4 eggs to be used in the choux pastry, but I found that my choux dough was far too runny once the 4th egg was added, even with chilling.  This resulted in flat eclairs that deflated once out of the oven.  Luckily I had the step by step photos from the book to refer to.  It was clear that piped dough in the photos was much thicker and stiffer than mine, so I tried again using only 3 eggs.  This resulted in a choux dough that was much closer in consistency to the dough pictured in the book.  I ran into a similar problem the first time I tried to make choux pastry  last year to use in my Religiuese.  I combined the instructions in Creative Eclairs together with my previous choux learnings, and I was thrilled with the way my eclairs turned out.  They were absolutely delicious, and I can’t wait to try a new flavour combination.  
 
How to make eclairs

Vanilla Eclairs

Recipe by Ruth Clemens from the book Creative Eclairs
Adaptations are shown in pink.
 

Vanilla Crème Patissière

 
Ingredients
 
600ml (20fl oz) Whole Milk 
Seeds scraped from 1 Vanilla Pod, 5ml (1 tsp) vanilla bean paste or 5ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract 
100g (31⁄2oz) caster (superfine) sugar 
4 large egg yolks 
50g (13/4oz) cornflour (cornstarch)
 
Directions:
 
1. In a large jug whisk together the egg yolks and caster (superfine) sugar until the mixture is light and foamy. Add the cornflour and whisk again until of an even consistency. Set to one side.
 
2. Place the milk and vanilla in a medium pan and heat gently until just below boiling point. Whilst whisking the egg mixture continuously, add the warmed vanilla- infused milk a little at a time until both mixtures have been fully worked together.
 
3. Transfer the mixture back to the pan and over a medium heat, whisking continuously, bring to the boil. Continue to cook the crème patissière for 2 minutes until thick and glossy.
 
4. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Contact-cover the top of the crème patissière with cling film (plastic wrap) to prevent a skin from forming, and allow to cool. Refrigerate once cooled.
 
5. When you are ready to use it, transfer the chilled crème patissière to a large bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer until it is a smooth and even consistency.
 
 

Basic Choux Pastry

 
Ingredients:
 
75ml (2 1⁄2fl oz) Water 
55ml (2fl oz) Whole Milk 
55g (2oz) Butter 
5ml (1 tsp) Vegetable or Sunflower Oil 
1⁄4 tsp Salt 
1 tsp Sugar 
100g (3 1⁄2oz) Plain (All-Purpose) Flour 
4 Large Eggs *I used 3
Sunflower or vegetable oil spray
 
Directions:
 
1. Place the water, milk, butter, oil, salt and sugar in a medium pan. Heat over a medium heat stirring frequently until the butter has melted. Bring to the boil and add the flour.  With the pan still on the heat, beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until it comes together into a ball.
 
2. Turn the heat down to low and continue to mix over the heat for 3 minutes.This helps to reduce any excess moisture and changes the paste from a rough shaggy texture to a much smoother, glossy paste. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 2 minutes to cool slightly.
 
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating the choux well after each addition until all the eggs have been incorporated. Continue to mix until the consistency returns to a smooth, glossy texture before adding the next egg.
 
When all the eggs have been incorporated, the choux pastry will be glossy with a thick, medium-firm texture.  Transfer to a bowl and cover with cling film (plastic wrap). Allow to cool fully then refrigerate for at least 1 hour. This makes the choux pastry much easier to pipe neatly.
 
4.  Once chilled, transfer the choux pastry to a piping (pastry) bag fitted with an 18mm (3⁄4in) piping nozzle (tip). A serrated pen (French style) nozzle (tip) is ideal for éclairs as it creates ridges in the piped éclairs which allow the dough to expand evenly on baking, avoiding any cracking across the top. *I couldn’t find my serrated nozzle (only the Wilton 1M tip which is too deep) so instead I ran a fork lightly down the piped eclairs. This worked great.
 
5. Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan) /180°C /350°F/ Gas Mark 4.  Pipe the choux pastry into éclairs or choux buns of the desired size using an even pressure to keep the width of each éclair the same.  Any peaks or misshapen ends can be smoothed with a dampened finger once piped.
 
6.  Spray the éclairs lightly with a vegetable or sunflower oil. This light coating prevents the crust from forming on the éclairs too early in the baking process, allows the choux pastry to expand evenly, and helps prevent the top of the finished éclair from cracking.  Bake for 40 – 50 minutes until golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
 
 
To Assemble the Eclairs:
 
1. Pierce the base of the éclair once at each end using a small piping nozzle (tip) (for larger 15cm/6in éclairs, also pierce a hole in the middle of the base).
 
2. Add the filling to a piping (pastry) bag fitted with a filling tip – these are also known as Bismarck tips or cupcake filler nozzles (tips), such as Wilton 230.
 
3. Insert the filler nozzle (tip) into the pierced hole at one end and squeeze in the filling gently. Remove the tip and place it into the hole at the opposite end and fill again, just until you see a little movement of the filling at the hole in the opposite end.
 
4. Clean off any excess filling from the base of the éclair with your fingertip or by swiping it across the lip of a small jug.
 
5. Place the warmed liquid fondant (recipe below) in a shallow open bowl – big enough to fit the length of the éclair easily.  Dip the top of the éclair into the mixture. Then with one end leading and the rest following, moving in an arc to remove it from the bowl and allow the excess to drain from one end.  
 
If you’re adding any sprinkles on top like I did, make sure to sprinkle them on immediately after dipping your eclair into the fondant before.  If you wait too long, the glaze will set and the sprinkles won’t stick. Place each éclair onto a wire rack, glazed-side up to set.
 
 

Fondant Glaze

 
Ingredients:
 
300g (10 1⁄2oz) White Sugarpaste (Fondant / ready-to-roll icing) 
30ml (2 tbsp) water
*I added a tiny amount of pink colouring, and 2 squares of white chocolate which made the fondant glaze more opaque.
 
1. Break the fondant into small pieces and place in heatproof bowl with the water. *I added my colouring and white chocolate in this step.
 
2. Heat gently in the microwave in short bursts, or over a pan of steaming water, stirring frequently, until the fondant melts.
 
3. Mix with an electric mixer until the consistency is smooth and even and no lumps remain.The glaze will begin to set while it cools, so use while it is still warm. It can easily be reheated to pouring consistency if it cools too quickly for use.
How to make eclairs
To celebrate the launch of Creative Eclairs a special blog hop is currently taking place.  Why not check out some of the other blogs participating to see what they made? A full list of the blogs taking place can be found here.
 
Creative Eclairs is available for early purchase now through the Stitch Craft Create website now for  £13.84, and will be available through Amazon UK here when it’s officially released the 25th of April.
 
If you’re in the USA, Creative Eclairs is available now for $12.63 though Amazon.com here 

First Tooth Cookies

There are few events in life that will change the way you look forever – I’m not talking about dying or cutting your hair, covering yourself in fake tan or makeup – none of those things are permanent.  Aside from plastic surgery or physically growing taller, the only thing I can really think of that will change the way a person will look forever is when they start to get their teeth.  And that’s exactly what has happened to my little boy. 
First Tooth Cookies
It is a momentous event you know.  No longer can I stick my finger in his little mouth and have him chew away on it – if I do that now, I might as well be sticking my finger in a rat trap.  Each time I put my finger in there to have a little feel, it’s a gamble as to whether or not it will actually come out intact.  Having a mouth full of baby teeth is like having a mouth full of little razor blades.  They’re tools that will come in handy with everyday life, but they can draw blood if you’re not careful. 
We’ve waited 9 long months for these teeth to show up.  And while many babies I knew were really struggling with their teeth, crying out in constant pain and needing dose after dose of baby pain killers, I was quite relieved and pleased to see that Jayden has gone relatively unphased by the whole teething process. 
We noticed the first bottom one appear the day after he turned 9 months.  A week later the second bottom tooth made its appearance.  I thought that was all the teeth we’d see for at least a month – the body needs to recover from these things you know.  But a week later while we were in Italy, I dipped Jayden backwards while playing with him in the sun and to my surprise I saw another new tooth – but this time on the top!  Within the next two weeks, the total number of teeth we’d see in his mouth had grown to six.  His little smile is looking quite different now – it’s hard to get used to!
So goodbye toothless gummy smiles – we will never see you again.  Instead let’s celebrate with a cookie – a cute little first tooth sugar cookie.  Well, actually let me celebrate with the cookies – Jayden gets some celebratory bread sticks and cheese.  After all, I wouldn’t want him to rot his teeth out  😉

First Tooth Cookies

First Tooth Sugar Cookies
Equipment:
Tooth Cookie Cutter
White Pearl Lustre Dust
Pink Lustre Dust
Craft Paintbrushes
Edible Black Marker Pen


Sugar Cookie Dough – recipe here
Royal Icing – recipe here, although I used a boxed mix to save time.


1.  Roll out the dough, cut, and bake your cookies according to the directions in my sugar cookie post here.  Let your cookies cool fully before you start decorating them using royal icing.


2.  To decorate, pipe the outline of the tooth in white royal icing that’s thick enough to hold it’s shape, but not too dry (you should be able to tell if your icing consistency is right if you run a knife through your bowl of icing and it comes back together in about 10 – 15 seconds).


3.  Now it’s time to flood your cookies – you can do this in two ways:  fill them immediately after you’ve piped the outline, or allow the outline to dry for several hours and then fill.  I prefer it when the outline blends in with the rest of the icing, so I flood my cookies immediately after I pipe the outline.  Give the cookie a gentle shake from side to side a few times to help smooth out the icing.  Leave the flooded cookies to dry over night.


4.  Mix approximately 1/4 teaspoon of white lustre dust together with 1.5 teaspoons of vodka, or other clear alcohol in a little dish.  Using a paintbrush of an appropriate size, dip the brush into the white lustre dust mixture and brush over top of the royal icing to give it a pearlised finish.  Let dry for 15 – 30 minutes.


5.  Use an edible black marker to draw on little faces.  Give your teeth some rosy cheeks by dipping a smaller paintbrush in a bit of the dry pink lustre dust.  Gently apply the lustre dust in a small circular motion for the rosy look.


Look at these little pearly whites all lined up in a row!  Don’t you just want to sink your teeth into them!?

First Tooth Cookies

And to announce the winner of my Sweet Paris giveaway – the winning comment is……..

Congratulations Nicola McCandless!  Please send your mailing details to me at madewithpink@gmail.com, and I’ll have a copy of Sweet Paris sent off to you!