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Archive for the ‘Egg’ Category

In my last post I mentioned that I had recently received some cupcake cases and Easter picks in a gift, from the Baking Mad website. Yesterday I decided it was time to press them into use:

I pinched an excellent recipe from Karen Burns Booth (of the beautiful Lavender and Lovage website), courtesy of a cookbook I got at Christmas. Karen’s cakes feature on the front cover of the book:

Her recipe is for Karen’s Little Chocolate and Violet Fancies which end up looking like the above, quite exquisite. This is her recipe:

Mine weren’t quite up to Karen’s high standard, and as I wanted to use my new cake cases and Easter picks, they ended up looking like this:

I didn’t have any violets or violet sugar, and I fancied using Earl Grey tea, so I tweaked the recipe and ended up with Earl Grey Chocolate Buns.

From my youth I remember that my mum always called this sort of individual cake a ‘bun’, as opposed to a ‘fairy cake’ or a ‘cupcake’ (I don’t think that word was known in Scotland until fairly recently) or indeed a ‘muffin’ (which, to Brits, is something quite different from the large cakey delight known across the pond).

A few days ago, before I had decided to borrow Karen’s recipe, I was thinking about what sort of cakes to put into my new cake cases and liked the idea of making them chocolate flavoured, but with a little surprise inside.

When I saw these creme filled chocolate eggs in my local supermarket, I thought they’d do for the surprise:

It seemed a pity to remove the pretty foil wrappings, but I don’t think they’d have improved the taste of the cakes:

After putting cake mix into a batch of cake cases I squidged an egg into each one:

Then I stuck another blob of cake mix on top of each egg:

I put too much cake mix in each cake case and so the buns overflowed a bit:

To my mind there’s nothing wrong with a cake that’s a bit on the large side, so I acceped their burgeoning girths, slapped on the icing and threw on a scattering of decorations while whistling a merry tune:

Once the icing was on I planted plant Easter flags and declared the cakes ready for consumption:

I was interested to see how the creme filled eggs inside might have been affected by baking, and was pleased to find that they had remained intact:

The creme was still very much as it had been in its pre-baked condition, and the thin chocolate outer layer had begun to melt nicely:

I made a total of 16 cakes using the recipe above. Most of them have gone into the freezer, where I hope they will survive all right with their ganache icing, but if they come out looking a bit the worse for wear I could perhaps bung them into an ovenproof dish and make them into a hot chocolate pudding.

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There is a small town in Scotland called Doune (pronounced ‘doon’, as in Lorna Doone).

My delightful assistant and I tootled down to Doune recently, to do a bit of tearoom research, and noticed some mugs in a shop bearing the legend ‘Doune, Perthshire’.

This surprised me because I had no idea Doune was in Perthshire. It’s only a few miles from Stirling and I had always assumed it was in Stirlingshire. When I got home I checked up on this and discovered that although Doune does indeed (geographically speaking) reside in Stirlingshire and is administered by Stirling District Council, its postal address puts it in Perthshire. Curious.

My reason for mentioning all this is that I deliberately left Doune out of my tearoom guidebook to Perthshire, but that is not because it doesn’t have an excellent tearoom, because it does.

I didn’t take many photos inside the tearoom because it was rather busy, but I did snap a delicious home-made quiche. There were two different quiches on offer and we both plumped for the roasted vegetable option, which came with a side salad, potato salad and French bread:

It was extremely good, the quiche just melting in the mouth (I suspect it had been made with cream), and it provided sufficient energy for a mosey around the town afterwards.

Doune is an attractive little place with some lovely buildings. These houses can be found on one of the side streets off the main street:

The town has a number of shops, including some surprises, such as this one (you don’t often see independent mapmakers’ shops in Scotland these days):

We enjoyed ambling through the backstreets, looking at burgeoning gardens and interesting features:

We were particularly interested in a wooden gate at the top of some well-worn stone steps. The wall only came part of the way up the gate on either side, and was the entrance to somebody’s garden, as my delightful assistant discovered after climbing the steps and peeping over the wall:

Some of the houses appeared to be getting swallowed by their gardens:

One particularly splendid, previously ecclesiastical, building had been split down the middle and made into two houses (the split occurs between the two arches at the bottom). I would be very interested to take a look inside:

Some decades ago there was a railway line running through Doune, but the only vestige now remaining is the well kept Station House:

I don’t know if they’re discernible from this picture or not (you might need to click on the photo and then click again to enlarge), but on this gate there were various creatures and plants, including a tortoise at the right hand side of the middle crosspiece and several little mushrooms and insects along the crosspiece:

Just beyond Station House there is a new housing development, and we were surprised to find a nature reserve, complete with swans, tucked away amongst the buildings:

Prior to the 1970s this area housed a sand and gravel quarry, but has now been made into a wildlife reserve containing several ponds and bird hides:

When we ventured down to the water’s edge, the swans and their cygnets came over to say hello:

As we walked alongside the main pond we noticed that quite a few of the trees had keeled over and were now growing out into the pond more horizontally than one might expect. It made me think of Amazonian swamps:

When the sun shone, the reserve looked beautiful in its lushness:

I had been under the impression that bracket fungi only grew on dead trees, but there were several live trees covered in fungi in the reserve:

After our walk round Doune Ponds, we headed back to the car, sadly too late to partake of tea at the tearoom we’d lunched in, as it had closed by that time. However, I knew of another place nearby that stayed open a bit later, and so we headed off there for a little refreshment.

The first tearoom had been offering Lady Grey tea, and I had been thinking about this during our walk and getting myself very much in the mood for some. I had virtually no hopes for the second place having Lady Grey because it is quite an unusual tea to find in tearooms and I had no memory of having seen it there before. Imagine my utter delight when I discovered that they did indeed have Lady Grey!

My delightful assistant had ordinary black tea, and we shared a rather solid, but agreeably lemony, lemon drizzle cake:

I can imagine this being a bit of a nightmare to dust, but the tearoom’s lampstand made from stacked teacups and saucers added a nice touch to the surroundings:

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I’m glad that rabbits are such a big part of Easter because it gives me an excuse to dedicate a post to them.

I’ve always been fond of rabbits. I used to draw them all the time as a child, and they’re still one of my favourite doodles.

Earlier this year I received a beautiful birthday card from my dear parents:

I also got a calendar for Christmas which is full of rabbits. These two little gems appeared in March and fairly brightened up my month:

Along with my drawings of rabbits as a child, I used to write stories about them. According to the date on the back of this piece of paper (my parents are very good at putting dates on things), it was done in spring 1977, when I was 5. The translation is: “I saw a rabbit in the forest, it was jumping, it was furry, it was very nice”:

He’s now retired, but in his working life my dad was an astronomer and worked at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.  He used to bring box-loads of what we called ‘computer paper’ home with him from the office for us to draw on. It came in perforated sheets with holes along the top and green stripes on the back.

In June 1977 I made use of some of this paper to write the following story, and draw a one-eyed rabbit filled with flowers to illustrate it. The translation would appear to be: “I saw a rabbit in my garden. I like the rabbit, it was furry, it was running all over the place. I want it as a pet, mummy said that I could have it. I had it for a pet.”:

On the other side of the paper I drew a jolly little dancing rabbit:

Yesterday there were three small Lindt bunnies playing round this wooden drawered ornament:

This morning they were outside having a serious discussion in the grass:

Very fittingly for Easter, my April calendar page depicts this delightful little rabbit with two eggs that are not that much smaller than the bunny itself:

Happy Easter!

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