Monday, 5 October 2015

Bake With Bake Off - Chocolate Orange Tart with with White Chocolate Hearts

So the Great British Bake Off reached the semi final and in a couple of days it will be the Finals. I'm not sure who I really want to win as I like all the finalists, they have all been really entertaining in their own way too.

So who made it to the final? It's Ian, Nadiya and Tamal. Poor Flora was let go in the semi's when her chocolate creations did not meet the finals standards.

I think Nadiya has the edge to win, but Ian with his amazing flavours and Tamal who has been consistent if not perfect, well apart from his Creme Brulee, let's not forget those little masterpieces, also stand a really good chance. Three great finalists!

For this weeks bake with bake off challenge from Silver Mushroom I decided to make a chocolate tart. The souffle was just too risky and I didn't feel creative enough to make some marvellous chocolate show stopper.

Chocolate Tart with a hint of Orange and White Chocolate Hearts.


For the Pastry:

250g plain flour
pinch of salt
125g cold butter
125g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tbs cocoa powder
1tbs cold water

For the Filling:

300ml of double cream
300g dark chocolate
100g caster sugar
25g butter
1 tbs Sweet Freedom Choc Shot with Orange Spice (optional, can be replaced with tsp vanilla)

For the decoration:

100g white chocolate


I began with the decoration.
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water. 
Pour the chocolate into some heart shaped moulds and leave to set.

For the pastry, put the flour and salt into a large bowl
 add the cold butter cubed and rubbed in until the mixture represented fine breadcrumbs
stir in the sugar and the cocoa powder.
add the egg yolks and cold water and mixed to form a dough
chill the pastry in the fridge for 30 minutes.

roll the chilled pasty and line a 23cm tart/flan tin with it
bake blind for 15 minutes (with greaseproof paper and baking beans or similar)
take out the baking beans and bake for a further 5 mins.

For the filling, warm the cream and sugar in a pan on the hob until it starts to boil.
break the chocolate into chunks and add to the hot cream
add the butter and stir until it's all combined together and smooth
add the choc shot if using, or 1tsp of vanilla extract.

Fill the pastry case and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Finally add the hearts.

my daughter added a few silver balls to her slice.

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Saturday, 3 October 2015

My Sunday Photo - 4th October 2015

 You may have noticed that we had a lunar eclipse in the early hours of 28th September? Well, I didn't want to stay up all night, it was just the moon after all. So I toddled off to bed my usual time.

At around 3.15am I awoke from a very strange dream. I looked at the clock and wondered if I would be able to see the moon from my bedroom window. Too lazy to actually get out of bed I leant over and pulled the curtain back...and there right outside my window was the moon, the eclipse was just beginning. I ended up watching it for quite a while, still not leaving my bed. It was pretty captivating.

So, what about the photo? I will confess, it's the work of my other half who was perched on top of the shed for a lot of the night and he took hundreds of photos with my Samsung WB101 bridge camera. Not bad is it!


Monday, 28 September 2015

Miffy's Adventures- Win a Sensory Miffy

Wow, did you know that Miffy is 60 years old this year! She's getting a bit of a makover to appeal to future generations. Her first book was released in 1953 and over 85 million books have been released in 50 different languages. Every should have heard of Miffy.

As part of the birthday celebrations a new TV series, Miffy's Adventures Big and Small will be starting on Tiny Pop on 2nd October at 7pm.

Do you remember Miffy as a child? Have you read the books to your children? They were created by Dick Bruna, the cute little rabbit and her friends feature a primary colours and simple shapes. It's exciting to see them brought to life on the TV screen.

To celebrate the new TV show I am hosting a give away for a Miffy Sensory Toy aimed at children 6 months and over it has 14 interactive sensors which when pressed you can hear Miffy talk about parts of her body.

To enter this competition just fill in your details on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good Luck x

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Bake With Bake Off - Mokatines.

The Great British Bake off has reached the quarter finals with patisserie week.

The Signature Bake was 24 cream horns, the Technical Bake, Mary Berry's Mokatines and the Showstopper a tower of eclairs known as religieus a l'ancienne.

It was time to say goodbye to Paul after his tower of eclairs collapsed, but also he didn't quite get the sponge right in the mokatines.

So, after missing out on the baking last week I was keen to have a go this time and join in with all the other bakers and Silver Mushroom. I make eclairs quite a lot, but I didn't fancy creating an entire tower, not without a party coming up anyway. Cream horns are nice but I really fancied a try at the mokatines.

They look pretty simple, although I know the contestants had some bother with them. Surely that was because they only have basic instructions though? Ah, or maybe it's because it's a ridiculously fiddly recipe with lots of little components.

I used this recipe, so I'm not going to repeat it here, but I will tell you some things I learnt while baking these seemingly easy mokatines.

First, it's a genoise sponge, but not like any I've baked before, and I've baked a few. I've always used the whisking the eggs over hot water method and plain flour. I've never used cornflour. The sponge came out lovely and light and wasn't difficult to bake at all.

The coffee buttercream was easy enough for the filling.

While I was toasting the almonds I looked for a no7 star nozzle in my icing accessory box, but I only had a number 8. Be careful when toasting almonds, they burn really quick!

I don't know whether it was because I scorched a few almonds, it really wasn't many, but there didn't seem enough to cover all the cakes. I would say to use 200g rather than 100g.

Then came the creme beurre au moka. I really wasn't going to make this and just do another batch of coffee buttercream, but I did, I tried. Now, I followed the instructions carefully but I think I may have over cooked the sugar just a little as when I came to piping I kept finding crystals blocking the nozzle. I thought it would taste a bit special but to be honest it tasted like creamy coffee flavoured there's a surprise!  There was certainly not enough to ice top and bottom of all nine cakes and I found myself whisking up some coffee buttercream to finish them off...which was much nicer and easier to pipe.

Finally the fondant icing. I really cannot understand why you use fondant icing and then water it down...why not just make a coffee coloured icing at the right consistancy? I gave it a go though and it was easy enough to do. Although I didn't have dark brown food colouring.

One last word. With preparation and cooking and decoration, the whole process took me THREE HOURS. I don't think I'll be making them again.

Friday, 25 September 2015

School - The next big step!

Next year Star will be going to secondary school.
Now is the time we have to choose which school she is to go to and I've been dreading this for the following reasons.

  • She has autism
  • She has Elhers Danlos Syndrome
  • She is disabled but has no special education needs
  • It really didn't work out when my older kids went to secondary school with them both begin educated elsewhere within two years.

Going to mainstream primary school is okay. Younger kids are much more understanding of peers that are a little different. When they get to secondary school it's so different.

On the autism front, we are lucky because Star is very high functioning, she is not disruptive (mostly) and wants to learn. She takes part fully in lessons. The main problems are her immaturity, which is exacerbated by the fact that she will always be the youngest in the class anyway being August born, and her concentration, if she is not fully engaged at all times she will stop co-operating.

With her EDS she gets a lot of pain but doesn't tell anyone, which means she will suffer in silence mostly. If it gets too bad then she will get frustrated and that's when her school work will suffer. Secondary schools are much larger than primary and there are often a lot of stairs and a lot of moving around during the day. It's going to be tough on her joints. Then there are her gastro problems, which are hoping to get some help with, they could be problematic at a big school.

When a child has disabilities but no special educational needs I have found that the school finds it difficult to categorise them. Those with SEN can go into special classes, but this is not appropriate for a child who is able to compete with their peers academically. Also, Star's disabilities are, mostly, invisible, which causes more confusion on how she should be treated.

My past experiences are from more than fifteen years ago, but they are still very raw in my mind. It is so difficult when school doesn't work for your child. Obviously you want them to have a good education, but you also want them to be happy and safe in their environment. It's not good when it all goes wrong.

Last week I took Star to visit a local Secondary School. It was one she had expressed a wish to attend, so I figured that was good place to start. We spent two hours touring the school, taking part in mini-lessons and speaking to the head teacher. Star was very impressed and I felt quite happy too.

Today, I had another visit with Star's Dad in tow. We saw the school at work during a normal school day which was nice. We also had the chance to have a good chat about the future of the school and all of the worries I have about Star attending secondary school.

I was assured that the school has experience of dealing with autistic pupils from all areas of the spectrum and they were integrated into the classrooms and taught with their peers.

I was assured that because it was a small school that each individual pupil was known by staff personally and their needs always known. So if Star was having a bad day with pain or tiredness they would accommodate her by giving her extra time to get to her classes or letting her have lessons on the lower floor only. They are also in the process of building a new school which will have lifts for children who need them.

I was assured that even when the new school building was open that the school would still be a small school with a family like environment. I do think this would be better for Star, I like that the teacher's will know her and know what her difficulties are. It would be much more difficult in a larger school.

So, at the moment, I am feeling quite confident that this will be our choice of school. I am not going to make up my mind without viewing other schools, but I doubt that we will be happier anywhere else. I am currently happy for Star to continue in mainstream school, I just hope I'm making the right decision.

The Reading Residence

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