Wednesday, November 20, 2013

James Martin's Orange Curd Pudding

Recently I have been adding to my cookery book collection every time I go into my local charity shop - but I've had to stop as I've run out of space on my shelves! One of my last purchases was James Martin's Desserts - James Martin is regularly seen on Saturday Kitchen on the BBC which I do like to watch when I get the chance. I liked the look of his 'fresh orange curd pudding' which looked quite cake-like in consistency and perfect for a cold day. It's also very simple to make.

Serves 4

You need:

300ml orange juice

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

60g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

90g caster sugar

4 eggs, separated

70g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

160ml milk

Preheat oven to 180C and butter the sides of a 1-litre ovenproof bowl. Put the orange juice and lemon juice in a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer until reduced by half, then set aside to cool.

In a bowl, beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest, then gradually mix in the egg yolks.

Fold in the flour and baking powder. Then stir in the orange and lemon juice and the milk.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and gradually fold into the mixture.

Pour the mixture into your greased bowl and stand it in a roasting tin. Pour boiling water into the tin so it comes half way up the side of the bowl.

Bake in the oven for about an hour - check in the last ten minutes to make sure the top isn't getting too brown. You can cover the dish with foil to stop the top burning if necessary.

Serve the pudding hot. You can sprinkle the top with icing sugar and it would also work well with custard. The texture is like a doughy cake with an intense citrus hit - it was really nice.

I'm entering this in Alphabakes, the blog challenge I host with Ros of the More Than Occasional Baker, as the letter we have chosen this month is O.

The theme for this month's Calendar Cakes, hosted by Laura of Laura Loves Cakes and Rachel at Dollybakes, is puddings, so I am sending them my orange curd pudding as well.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Shoe theme birthday party

Last year I had a birthday party with a shoe theme. I wanted to write a post pulling all the ideas together but have only just gotten around to it. It's a fun theme that could easily be adapted for children or adults - after all, who doesn't have a favourite pair of heels, whether they are Start-Rite pink patents or Manolo Blahniks?

My birthday cake had a shoe theme; I decided to make a two-tier pink polka dot cake with a pair of shoes on top (obviously you could make it in any colour). If I did it again I would make a rectangular cake that looks like a shoe box and put the pair of shoes on top. I made the shoes in a cake decorating class; you can see how I did it here.

I also made some filled chocolates in the shape of shoes and handbags

Finally I made some White Russian cupcakes, using cupcake wrappers with a shoe print. I cut out shoe shapes from fondant using a mini cutter and placed these on top of the cake.

As one of my friends is vegan, I also made some vegan chocolate cupcakes and distinguished them with a green shoe on top using the same cutter.

Shoe cookies would be great for a shoe themed party as well; you can bake simple sugar cookies or shortbread and use a cookie cutter, then either decorate the shoes yourself or get your guests to decorate them when they arrive. This would be good fun as an activity at a children's party, though it could get rather messy, so you should provide your guests with aprons!

Maybe you could also make some choux buns - shoe buns - get it?

Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker came to my birthday party and made these amazing shoe cupcakes. Hop over to her blog and see how she did it!

I also asked my guests to wear their most fabulous and funky shoes and one friend in particular, Sandra, didn't let me down - she arrived in bright red sequinned high heels.

I wanted an activity for my guests to enjoy and came across this shoe quiz online. You can download the questions and print out question and answer sheets, and get the answers by making a small donation to the Multiple Sclerosis society. There are three different quizzes on this website so there is something for everyone. A shoe-themed prize is also a good idea!

If your party is for adults, don't forget the cocktails - how about a Moscow Mule, or a Singapore Sling-back?