Month: April 2015

WIN: Pyrex bundle giveaway

WIN a Pyrex bundle giveaway

PYREX COMP

“Wowzers!” I hear you cry! Can I win all of that! Well yes you can.

Pyrex is 100 years old this year so when they asked if I would like to do a giveaway here on CakesBakesAndCookies.com I jumped at the chance. I mean what baker doesn’t love a bit of Pyrex kitchen kit?

So, what’s in the bundle?

The big bowl

I’ve had a 3.0L Pyrex Glass Bowl,small Pyrex bowl and Pyrex jug in my ‘essential’ kit for as long as I can remember. I use the large bowl to mix ALL my cake mixes in as I now use my hand held whisk for practically everything. That big bowl is the perfect size for cakes up to 10″ and you can’t say that about many mixing bowls!

The Small bowl

The small 1 litre Pyrex Bowl,  I have is so old now. It’s got a ton of scratches at the bottom where I mix eggs for omelettes and have done so since Tim and I first moved in together. So, it must be about 18 years old! Boy am I showing my age now! The thing I use it for most of all now is warming up butter. I shared this Mary Berry tip a few years ago where you place cold butter from the fridge in the bowl then add tepid water and leave it for ten minutes so the butter softens up to room temperature. My kitchen is so cold – especially in the winter so I do this for most cakes. The softer the butter the better the cake mix.

Pyrex giveaway mixing bowls

The Small Jug

The small 0.5 l Pyrex Jug is what I use to measure (no brainer really!) but I also always break my eggs into this jug when making cakes. It’s become a bit of a ritual habit for me. Do you know that when you break eggs into a glass container any tiny bits of shell that get in the mix sink to the bottom, so you can lift the jug up and look underneath to check that there aren’t any fragments lurking down there.  I used to have the big 1 litre Pyrex jug but I dropped it and was really gutted. It’s another great sized piece that has so many uses. I must replace that some time!Pyrex giveaway jug

Kitchen lab precise measure

This is a really clever device. It was new to me but since I’ve had my hands on it I’ve used it tons. The Pyrex test tube design  has this clever rubber base so it can stand up while you measure really small amounts of liquid into it so, when a cake calls for 4 tea spoons of vanilla essence you can measure them in one go. It can measure up to 50ml, 1 ½ Fl. Oz, 6 tea spoons and 3 tablespoons, handy when you’re baking big cakes. You don’t loose count when you measure in one go!

Pyrex giveaway  measuring small liquidBaking tray

I love baking trays. I don’t know any keen baker who doesn’t. You just can’t have enough of them can you? This Pyrex asimetriA BAKING TRAY  has a raised surface and is designed to give you an even distribution of heat so those cookies will all come out the same. It’s a really good size. I can get 30 cookies on just this one tray.

Pyrex giveaway - baking tray

Loaf tin

This Pyrex asimetriA Loaf tin is the only part of this bundle I haven’t baked with yet. I’m thinking about doing a long thin cheesecake with it next month with a line of cherries down the centre. What do you think? It’s not your traditional size loaf tin. It’s longer (26cm) which I really like. It gives you a point of difference… and more cake. What would you bake with one of these?

Pyrex giveaway - loaf tin

Muffin tin

This Pyrex asimetriA MUFFIN TRAY has really tall, straight sides. I’m a bit rubbish when it comes to muffins. They never seem to rise up as much as I’d like, but when I used this tin to make cupcakes a couple of weeks ago they came out really neat and even – just what I wanted. The straighter the sides of the cake wells the more professional the cakes look in my opinion.

Pyrex giveaway - muffin tray

 Sandwich tins

These Pyrex asimetriA sandwich tins are probably the most useful size you can get – or at least they’re the size I use the most. So with that in mind I now have four 8″ sandwich tins. Great for layered cakes or rainbow cakes. These sit inside each other for handy storage and bake a chocolate victoria sponge cake perfectly – as I did last month. Great quality and non-stickability.Pyrex sandwich tins

 The GIVEAWAY

So, basically I have these essentials in my baking cupboard and they get a ton of regular use. So do you want some? These are all up for grabs in one lovely big giveaway bundle. You can win……

  • 1 x Large 3 litre Pyrex Mixing Bowl (rrp £4.99)
  • 1 x Small Pyrex bowl (rrp £2.99)
  • 1 x Pyrex jug (rrp £2.99)
  • 1 x Kitchen lab presice measure (rrp £6.99)
  • 1 x Baking tray (£8.99)
  • 1 x Muffin tin (£11.99)
  • 2 x round sandwich cake tins (rrp £8.99 each)
  • 1 x long loaf tin (rrp £6.99)

So that’s over £60 worth of baking goodness.

To win all you have to do is share a comment below with what you would bake using this fabulous Pyrex bundle AND enter your name into the Rafflecopter random number generator on the pink link below.

Click here to enter the  giveaway

and don’t forget to leave a comment! 
 

I wish you the best of luck

Emma x

Terms and Conditions

This Pyrex giveaway ends at 11.59pm on 21st May 2015. The prize consists of 1 x Large 3 litre Pyrex Mixing Bowl, 1 x Small Pyrex bowl, 1x Pyrex jug,1 x Kitchen lab presice measure, 1 x Baking tray, 1x Muffin tin, 2 x round sandwich cake tins,1 x long loaf tin. It is open to UK entrants only (sorry).  Leaving a blog post comment is a mandatory entry option. This prize is offered by Pyrex and is hosted on CakesBakesAndCookies.com. Please note that CakesBakesAndCookies.com is not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and that person will be notified within 7 days. The products offered for the giveaway are free of charge, no purchase necessary. I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.

Disclosure: I have not been paid for this post. Pyrex very kindly sent me this set of bakewares for review on CakesBakesAndCookies.com and will provice a duplicate set which will be sent to the giveaway winner. All thoughts and opinions are my own and are true and honest.  

Kitchen Gadget Review: The Nutribullet 600 Series

Kitchen Gadget Review: The Nutribullet 600 Series

Nutribullet review

Everyman and his wife seems to have a Nutribullet nowadays. My dad bought us one last October and I have to say that Tim and I are a little bit addicted to it (and those smoothies!) Every morning Tim’s up at the crack of dawn and whizzes up a green smoothie and leaves one in the fridge for me when I get back from my run. I don’t know how the girls don’t wake up with all that blending going on beneath them but they never do!

The Nutribullet: What’s the fuss all about?

Well, in truth the Nutribullet is just another blender but what makes it so much better than all the rest (and I’ve had a Kitchenaid blender!) is that it makes whatever you put in it really smooth. It’s simple to use and can be cleaned in less than a minute. Instant winner in our eyes. The price is also a real bargain. At around £99 it is a serious competition for all the big, expensive names out there.

It’s the simplicity of it that makes it so wantable. The Nutribullet is pretty small- so sits nicely on your kitchen worktop without taking up much space It’s quick and easy to use and therefore simple to add a daily, healthy smoothie to your diet without really impacting on your time; you can literally wash and slice up some fruit, add some water, blend, pour, drink and wash up in under 10 minutes and we can all find 10 minutes in our day to be healthier and that is why I think it’s been so popular.

What’s in the box?

We’ve got the Nutribullet 600 Series but there are other newer Nutribullet models out on the market. Ours has a 600w motor which is very powerful.

  • The power base. This is the base part which sits on your worktop. It’s easy to clean and heavy enough to sit still while your blending. The small size means that you can tuck it into a corner out of sight if you want to.
  • 1 x extraction blade (that’s the smoothie maker bit to me and you!) It’s made from high quality stainless steel that never needs sharpening. It’s pretty easy to clean and can be put in the dishwasher but it takes seconds to wash by hand so get yourself one of those bristle pan cleaners.
  • 1 x milling blade– super grinder. Also made from always sharp stainless steel, You can use this blade to grind up nuts, oats, grains or fresh herbs and even coffee beans.
  • 1 x tall cup. This is the one we use most mornings and it makes plenty for us to share. There is a ‘Max’ line on the side and this is the max for both fruit and/or veg and liquids.
  • 2 x short cups.These are really handy as you can take a smoothie to work or store some for later. I also use these when making the Naked bars – as seen in the recipe below. When storing smoothies for later on in the day remember that all that goodness found in preparing fresh drinks begins to deteriorate after 45 minutes so wherever possible try and drink your smoothie straight away. My thinking is that if I leave it a few hours at least I’m drinking fruit and not Dr Pepper!
  • 1 handled lip ring. Great for when you take your smoothie on the go. Ours hasn’t left the cupboard!
  • 1 regular lip ring. Again- hasn’t left the cupboard! I prefer to drink from glass.
  • 2 stay fresh resealable lids. Invaluable if you want to prepare ahead or store in the fridge. Or if you want to travel with one.
  • 1 x user manual Now when it comes to manuals and guide books I tend to give them a quick once over but this one is probably the best I have ever seen. It’s literally jam packed with information, loads of great recipes and facts and ideas. Tim and I both read it cover to cover as soon as the Nutribullet landed in our kitchen. It explains exactly how to build on basics of a healthy diet. How to make a nutritionally balanced smoothie. There’s even a “program’ (aka a diet) to follow. The recipe ideas include ‘protein powerhouse, the immune booster, toxin cleansing blast and vita berry blast.’ There’s even room at the back for notes and planner so you can record what you ate and when.
  • 1 x Pocket nutritionist. This is another great read especially if you don’t know what the benefits are to each fruit and vegetable. I thought I knew but I learnt a lot reading this. There’s also a guide on how to select the best produce.

5 Great facts about the Nutribullet

  1. You can crush ice in it.
  2. You can turn granulated sugar into caster or even icing sugar with the milling blade
  3. It makes great soups and sauces.
  4. You can blend vegetables and hide them in the kids foods without them noticing.
  5. You can use frozen fruits to make summer shakes all year long.

My favorite smoothie / milkshake recipe

(aka getting your kids to eat their greens)

Although I enjoy the traditional green smoothies, the milkshakes I make with the Nutribullet are a bit more kid friendly. To start with they don’t look too brown or green which in my house is a no-no to getting the kids interested in drinking them. But they just taste like milkshake so no-one really knows that they’re getting 3 of their 5 a day in one delicious hit.

Nutribullet: smoothieIngredients

  • Handful of spinach
  • ½ – 1 mango – make sure it’s ripe
  • 1 banana – the ones with brown spots are sweeter and blend the best
  • Almond milk up to the ‘max’ line. You could also mix this with water.
  1. Place all the ingredients in the Nutribullet starting with the spinach then screw on the lid tightly. Blend for 20-30 seconds until all the spinach is well incorporated and you can’t see any green specs.
  2. Pour into a tall glass add a straw and enjoy!

Naked bars

These are so easy to make and I totally love them. I’m sure they’re super fattening with all the nuts and seeds but they do contain the healthy oils so I’m not counting them! They’re great cut into little bars or small squares so you can pop  them into your mouth when you’re feeling peckish. As they’re so sweet they give you that 4pm sugar hit we all crave without the guilt!

Anything goes with these bars. As long as you stick to a 50/50 ratio. 50% soft dried fruit that will hold together the other 50% of dry nuts and seeds. Just weight them to check.

Nutribullet: naked barsIngredients

  • 45g (⅓ cup) almonds
  • 40g (¼ cup) mixed seeds – I use flax, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin
  • 60g (½ cup) pecans
  • 75g (½ cup) dried or fresh dates
  • 100g((½ cup) dried apricots
  1. Start by milling all the nuts and seeds together using the milling blade and one of the small cups. You may need to stop every 10 seconds to shake up the contents as the moisture in the nuts makes them clump and you want to ensure there aren’t too many large pieces (unless that’s the texture you’re looking for). The end result should be the consistency of ground almonds.
  2. Add the dried fruit to the milled nuts and seeds, screw the milling blade back onto the cup and mill again. This will take 2-3 grinds. Again you may need to shake the cup a little to ensure all the ingredients are combined.
  3. Line a bowl with cling film then press the ingredients into the bottom of it using the back of a spoon. Make the top as smooth and flat as possible. Cover the top with cling film then leave to chill in the fridge.
  4. When ready to eat cut into bar shapes or squares and serve. You can wrap individual ones up for packed lunches or do what I do and just snack straight from the fridge! Yummarge!

 

Tim’s Green smoothie recipe

So, this is what I’m greeted with each morning. An old Nutella glass (complete with those handy white lids) full of goodness. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “You drink that!? It looks like pond water!” And you’re right. It does. The green nature of these smoothies mean that they look less than appetising but you have to trust me when I say they taste delicious.

Nutribullet:  green smoothie

 Ingredients

  • Handful of spinach
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Handful of strawberries
  • ½ apple – cored – the seeds are dangerous to eat
  • ½ pear – stalk removed
  • ½ banana
  1. Place the spinach in the large cup first then add the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Fill with water up to the max line and blend for 30 seconds.
  3. Pour and drink.

Some people who have seen me post my smoothies on Instagram  and twitter have asked how we get them smooth. It’s just a case of getting the balance right. There needs to be plenty of water in a smoothie for it to be really smooth. We keep the fruit/veg contents lower than the max line and make sure there’s enough water to blitz it to pieces. If you want a thicker consistency just add items like banana, mango or avocado.

The Video review

Here’s a short video review I shot with the lovely photographer Oliver Gordon back in February. It shows the Nutribullet in action. Take a look and let me know what you think.

So thanks for stopping by. Do you have a Nutribullet? I’d love to hear what your favorite recipes are. Just share them below in the comments.

EmmaMT

x

Disclaimer: This review is completely my own thoughts and opinions. I was not sent the Nutribullet to test and would like to say a massive thank you to the Poopah for giving this one to us. We love it. 

 

FAQ: Do you have a 10″ Madeira cake recipe?

FAQ: Do you have a 10″ Madeira cake recipe?Madeira_cake_recipe

Yes I do, but boy do people seem to be having problems with it! It got to the point where I was starting to think there was something wrong with it. Readers were having cakes with soggy middles and deep dark crusts on the outside. There were massive domes and sunken middles. I was perplexed! So, I decided to double check the recipe. It came out perfectly. So here’s a post dedicated to exactly what I do to make my 10″ Madeira cake a success  – literally step by step.

Double check the size of your tin.

The first thing I did was measure the volume of water my 10″ cake could take. Previously I found it could hold 4000ml but I decided to try it with a little less – 3700ml. The reason for this is that when I make a larger cake the more mix in the tin the heavier the cake is. When I use a little less mix the cake seems to rise more. This was the case with this cake. Just removing 300ml of cake ingredients to this cake made all the difference.

Line and wrap your cake tin and chill it out!

I have always lined my cake tins using silicon paper and vegetable oil – to make it stick to the sides. Oil gives the cake a much softer finish. I know some people like a crust and if that’s the case keep using butter to grease your tins.

Once lined I wrap the cake tin with a strip of silicon paper tied with natural string. You can read more about this here. As you can see from the top photo, I use the same paper over and over and it still works well.

A new trick I recently read about was to chill the cake tin once it is lined. This further stops the outside of the cake from baking too quickly. I left mine in the fridge for 30 minutes before I filled it with cake mix and baked it.

10" Madeira cake recipeThe 10″ Madeira cake recipe

  • 235g butter at room temperature
  • 235g margarine at room temperature
  • 620g caster sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla essence
  • 9 eggs large eggs at room temperature
  • 700g plain flour sieved
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 150ml hot water

Sugar syrup

  • 100ml water
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

How to make the 10″ Madeira cake.

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC) It’s really important to get the oven to the right temperature. The rising domes are usually caused by the oven being too hot. Sunken cakes are from when the oven temperature is too low – or the oven door is opened too early. My oven fluctuates (especially with cakes that are in the oven for a long time like this one!) so I tend to let it drop a little to 175ºC to allow for the differences during the bake. I still get a dome but I don’t mind. It means I can see how well the cake is baked and get to eat a bit too. Who doesn’t love off cuts? The biggest problems with baking this cake seem to come from using a fan oven. It just doesn’t bake as well. I tested the recipe out using my fan and the cake tasted completely different and was really heavy. My mum who has a gas oven always has the lightest, fluffiest Madeira cake known to man – I am very jealous! So if oyu can use a non fan oven do. If you can use gas – even better. One last word on temperatures is to invest in an Oven Thermometer . I trust mine way more than I trust the dial on my oven – which has lied to me from day one!
  2. Start teh cake mix by creaming the butter and margarine together. Make sure they are seamlessly blended before adding the sugar. Beat till it’s pale and fluffy. This will take at least 3-4 minutes. The whiter it looks the fluffier it is which makes a lighter cake. 
  3. Very slowly add the eggs – a spoonful at a time. The slower you add the eggs the less chance there is of the mixture curdling. I have found that I have a much better mix if I use my very fast hand held whisk rather than my beloved Kitchenaid stand mixer. The hand held is much faster and whips it all up into a frenzy catching every last bit of cake mix whereas the stand mixer gets most of it most of the time. There’s no comparison. If the mixture does start curdling (separating and looking a bit yuck) add a spoonful of flour during mixing to stop it.
  4. Add the vanilla essence and mix again till it’s well incorporated.
  5. When it comes to adding the dry ingredients I tend to sieve the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl and have the hot water ready. Add the flour and water in three goes. This produces the fluffiest and most moist cake rather than adding all the flour then all the water. Fold them in gently and slowly. Fold until the flour is just incorporated. The less mixing and folding the more air bubbles you’ll have to make a light and fluffy cake. 
  6. Pour the mixture into the cake tin. Using the back of a spoon spread the mix throughout the tin pushing it up the sides of the tin slightly leaving a well in the middle. I leave quite a deep well and still get a dome so be brave.
  7. I have been loosely covering my cakes as soon as they go into the oven with a piece of silicon paper with a hole in the middle. If I think the paper is going to touch the cake as it rises I grease it first. The hole is to allow the steam to escape. The paper keeps the cake more flat on top. I tend to remove the paper for the last 30 minutes so it can brown up.
  8. Bake for two hours in the centre of your oven. If you have the choice place your cake on a wire rack in the oven rather than a tray. A tray will stop the heat from circulating. I remove all the unused racks from the oven when I bake. Don’t be tempted to open the oven door for the first 30 minutes. It will make the cake sink.
  9. To test if your cake is fully baked insert a skewer into the centre of the cake – always the centre as this is the last area to bake. If it comes out clean without any cake mix residue it’s ready. If there is some moist mix on the end you need to pop it back in for a few minutes more. You can also press lightly on the top of the cake with a finger. If the cake bounces back instantly you know it’s done. If it takes more than 2-3 seconds then you know it needs more.

    When a cake bakes the outer edge bakes first (as it’s against the hot metal cake tin.) For this reason when the middle of your cake is baked the sides will shrink away from the cake tin. This is another good indicator that the cake is baked.

10" Madeira cake recipeThe sugar syrup

  1. To make the sugar syrup heat the water and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes then add the flavour and leave to cool. I make my sugar syrup as soon as the cake goes into the oven then I leave it .
  2. Once your cake is removed from the oven let it sit for 5-10 minutes then use a pastry brush to brush the sugar syrup over the entire cake. You only need to cover each area of the cake once and avoid soaking the cake or you will end up with a big soggy mess not a nice moist cake. Make sure you get the edges of the cake covered as they tend to dry out the most. Some people worry that the cake will be overly sweet by adding the sugar syrup but it actually seals the cake and stops it from baking once it’s out of the oven. Don’t feel you need to use the whole amount. You will have some left over.
  3. Leave the cake to cool for a further 10-20 minutes before turning your cake out onto a rack to cool completely.

Madeira cake slice - recipe

I made this cake and decided not to cover it or cut it in half and fill with butter cream. One of my favorite ways to enjoy Madeira cake is by the slice with a lovely dollop of raspberry jam. I cut this one in half and froze one side while we ate the rest. This is a pretty big cake so it was a good test of how long it tasted good for. I always advise to have eaten a cake that has been decorated (and therefore sealed) within a week of baking. This cake sat on a plate in my kitchen loosely covered with a piece of silver foil for 10 days – slowly getting smaller and smaller. On the 10th day it was getting a bit stale but right up till then a spread of jam and it was great with a cup of tea!

Why Sugar syrup works

Another benefit to adding sugar syrup to a cake – which I hadn’t realised before is that it gives the cake crust a lovely sweet flavoured crunch. Not a hard crunch – just a gentle one. I actually looked forward to eating that part as much as I did the soft sponge. Nice surprise!

I think a lovely thin slice is perfect. Beau does not! After asking if she could have a slice this is what she cut and filled for herself! I could have made four servings from that giant slice. And before you ask- yes she ate the lot! Growing girl! Beau's big slice!!!

I hope this helps with some of your Madeira cake queries.

Happy baking

EmmaMT

x

Darcey’s Easter nests

Darcey’s Easter Nests

Easter nests - CAkesBakesAndCookies.com

Last week Darcey came home from Cubs having made these really cute Easter Nests. They take literally 10 minutes to make, twenty minutes to harden up and just seconds to devour.

My mini chef

She’s becoming a bit of a whiz in the Kitchen of late. A few weekends ago she asked if she could make lunch for everyone. I said yes – thinking that a round of sandwiches were on their way and told her that I would be down to the kitchen in five minutes. By the time I arrived she had already boiled water ready for noodles and had made her favorite “red sauce” (Sweet and Sour – made by mixing tomato puree and soy sauce in heated up honey). I need to get to that kitchen a lot quicker!

So, when she asked on the first day of the Easter holidays if she could make some more Easter nests I knew what was coming.

Mum, where’s that glass bowl” was the first question by which time the white chocolate had already been broken into tiny pieces – I’m sure a few were missing! She loves cooking and baking and is really confident in the kitchen. I’m just glad that when she now want’s to make me a cup of mint tea she uses the kettle and not the hot tap for water! EAster Nest

Easter Nests

The main keys to baking with kids is to let them have fun. Let them make a mess and most importantly in my case- let go of perfectionism. I just let her go for it. I think she had fun. Just look at that super cheesy grin. Happiness personified!

Ingredients

Makes 6 nests

  • 125g white /milk/dark chocolate broken up into small pieces- the choice is yours
  • 2 shredded wheat
  • mini eggs – ours were from M&S

EAster Nest

  1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heat proof bowl over a  saucepan of simmering water until completely melted.
  2. In another bowl crunch and crush the shredded wheat into small twig like pieces.
  3. Pour the chocolate over the shredded wheat and stir until the Shredded wheat is completely covered.
  4. Spoon the mixture into paper cupcake cases. We placed ours in a cupcake baking tin so they would keep their shape. Make a well in the middle.
  5. Position the mini eggs in the centre and leave to harden for twenty minutes.
  6. Munch through them. Nom, Nom, Nommmmm!

Darcey wanted white chocolate nests; as that’s her favorite, but really anything goes. I think using Shredded Wheat is ingenious. Not only do they look more twiggy but they taste great. Move over cornflake cakes. You have officially been replaced!

EAster Nest

All that’s left to say is I hope you have a fantastic Easter with tons of chocolate and masses of family fun time.

Bye for now

EmmaMT

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