Five minutes with…The Baking Explorer

I think it is safe to say that since starting out on our baking blog experience here at 5crumbybakers, I have been bitten by the baking bug.
Hours that would normally have been spent watching soaps are now dedicated to catching up on my favourite baking blogs.
I stumbled across ‘The Baking Explorer’  blog quite some time ago now and I fell in love with it’s quirky design and delicious recipe ideas.
 Having become quite the fangirl, I got in touch with Kat, the baking explorer to spend five minutes with her to find out more about the baker.
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H: Hi Kat, What inspired you to start ‘The Baking Explorer?’
K: I decided to ‘bake along’ to The Great British Bake Off and I thought it would be a great way to record my baking.
H: What tips would you give to anybody starting out in baking?
K: Have fun, don’t be afraid to experiment, and don’t be put off if you get it wrong.
H: What is the hardest thing you have ever baked? Any huge baking disasters?
K: My biggest disaster was probably a Tarte Tatin, I burnt it so badly and it was unedible!
It was my first time making caramel and it went completely wrong.
I tried it again and got it right, which was a big relief.
Whenever I mess something up, I always have to make it again to get it right.
H: What do you think has made ‘The Baking Explorer’ so successful?
K: I’m not sure exactly, but I like to think it’s because my bakes are things people can see themselves producing at home. I don’t make unacheivable or overly perfect things and I hope that it makes me and my bakes more relatable for readers.
H:  Who is your baking inspiration?
K: I love Mary Berry! Who doesn’t?! She’s fab and I like her attitude such as taking shortcuts when needed, for example buying ready made pastry, and getting children involved in baking. She’s a wonderful lady. I also really like Stacie Stewart and John Whaite.
H: Which of your recipes has received the most attention?
K: The recipe on my blog that has received the most hits are the Custard Tarts I made for week 4 of last year’s GBBO. They were quite stressful to make, but really delicious and worth the effort!
H: What would be a piece of baking wisdom you could share with the 5 Crumby Bakers?
K: Try out new things. It’s the best way to grow your range of baking skills and experience. And to discover new delicious treats!
H: What has been the best thing about writing a baking blog?
K: There have been so many great things. Meeting other people who have the same passion for baking as me definitely comes high on the list. It’s inspiring to see what other bloggers create and also it’s lovely to receive positive feedback about my own bakes.
H: What is your favourite bake?
K: Gosh that is a tough question! It’s hard to pick as it depends what you’re in the mood for, but something I could never turn down is a slice of Coconut & Lime Loaf.
H: Where do you see your baking blog in the future?
K: I’d be so thankful if it continues to grow and I’m looking forward to seeing what opportunities come along in the future.
You can find Kat over at ‘The Baking Explorer.com’
Do you know of any fabulous baking blogs to recommend to us?
Who would you like to see us spend 5 minutes with…
Leave a comment below
And don’t forget, you can also like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter or get in touch with us at 5crumbybakers@gmail.com!
By Hollie Bradbury

Afternoon Tea Treats: Queen Victoria Crowns

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I like to call these miniature cakes, Queen Victoria Crowns as they look like a royal crown when baked and decorated with a sprinkle of icing sugar.
They are ultimately a scaled down version of the classic victoria sponge cake.
(You can read all about the history of these delicious creamy cakes in THIS POST)
This afternoon I am treating my friends to a crown or two.
Shhhh don’t tell anybody but I cheated a little to save time and bought a Victoria sponge mix.
It saves a lot of time if you need to whip these up in a hurry and doesn’t leave you with lots of baking ingredients that you aren’t likely to use up again.
If unlike me you are being a good baker and not cheating, for your sponge mix, you will need:
– 2 large free range eggs
– 4oz self raising flour
-4oz caster sugar
-4oz salted butter
(1/2tablespoon of baking powder if using a food processor to mix it all up)
-1tsp vanilla extract.
If you are naughty and cheating like me you will need:
-A Victoria Sponge ready made mix
-120ml of milk
– 2 eggs
– 100g of Unsalted butter to get your sponge mix going!
You will also need:
– Small tin cans (preferably the ones you get sweetcorn in)
The number of cans you need depends on how many cakes you want to make in one batch.
– Tinfoil to wrap around the bottom of the tin.
(Step 1)
Prepare your sponge mix first.
If you’re making your sponge by hand, you will need to: Cream your butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and stir in your vanilla extract. Then fold in the flour using a large (metal) spoon. (Note: no extra baking powder.) If you’re using a food processor, Pop your butter, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla & baking powder into your blitzer. Make sure the ‘stopper’ is removed, so the air can get in. Turn it on and blend until you have a smooth batter.
Or if like me you are following the instructions from your pre made mix.
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(Step 2)
Using a tin opener take off the bottoms of your cans and wrap in tinfoil.
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(Step 3)
 Spoon a little under half of the sponge mixture into your tin cans.
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(Step 4)
Pop into a preheaded oven at around 175-180c.
Once your tins are in do not open the door for 15 minutes as your sponge will drop.
After 15 minutes, open the door and pop a skewer through the middle of the cake.
If the skewer comes out clean and not sticky you are ready to let them cool, if not pop them back in the oven for another five minutes or so.
While your cakes are cooling
It’s onto making the buttercream filling..
It is best to make buttercream if you are not going to be digging into your cakes on the day you baked them as buttercream lasts longer than fresh double cream.
(Step 5)
 Mix 100g of unsalted butter along with your icing mix.
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(Step 6)
 Once your little cakes are cool, take off the tinfoil and use a knife to cut around the bottoms to get your little cake out.
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They can be a little tall so trim a small amount from the bottoms and then cut the buns in half.
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Now for the decorating fun!
(Step 7)
Add your buttercream to one side and any jam of your choice to the other side and sandwich them together!
And finally, dust with icing sugar!
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What do you think?
What occasion would you bake these for?
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By Hollie Bradbury

What happened to baking: Hobby or necessity?

By Hollie Bradbury
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Many, many centuries ago, the first evidence of baking occurred when humans took wild grass grains and soaked them in water before mashing them into a broth like paste. The paste was then cooked on a flat, hot rock with the result resembling a bread like substance.

And just like that Baking was born.

Baking holds special significance in a number of culture’s, In Victorian Britain, when the Duchess of Bedford, Anna Russell grew tired of the sinking feeling which afflicted her every afternoon at around 4 o’clock ..she asked for a tray of tea, bread and butter, and freshly baked cakes to be brought to her room. Once she had formed the habit she found she couldn’t break it, so spread the word among her friends instead. As the century progressed, afternoon tea became increasingly elaborate with more adventurous sweet treats added to the tray.

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These days a visit to a coffee shop isn’t complete without a slither of cake.

It is fascinating how just knowing the right temperature or the right quantity can create a masterpiece.

I always describe myself as a better taster than a baker so amongst a tray of cucumber sandwiches and freshly baked scones I took five minutes this afternoon to chat with my baking hero my Grandma, who has been whipping up delights in the kitchen for as long as I can remember.

There isn’t anything she hasn’t baked, whether it’s simple jam tarts or elaborate birthday cakes.

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Between bites we dig out some old recipe books and talk all things baking from a time gone by.

As we sit around the table I pick up a very fragile recipe book named ‘Naughty but Nice’’, it is backed with a sunny yellow cover and art deco style font, my Grandma smiles: “Ah yes, this is a baking book that myself and a group of other young women collated to raise money for the church. Inside there are all kinds of baking recipes, It was nice to be apart of a baking community, there was a a bit of competition though.”

I ask my Grandma why people aren’t as interested in baking as she was when she was a young girl: “People just don’t bake as much anymore because it can be so time consuming, often it is nowadays cheaper to buy ready made cakes and sweet treats as opposed to forking out for all of the ingredients and equipment to start baking from scratch.”

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“Back in my day baking was a necessity, you simply had to work out how to make something tasty from miss matched ingredients, there were these shops called ‘scoop stores’, inside there were barrels and barrels of baking ingredients and you could take a container and fill it as high as you could pack it, I guess now you can just head to the supermarket and buy everything in packets.”

“These days more and more people bake as a hobby, it’s gotten quite fashionable hasn’t it? I like to watch the Great British bake-off, they bake some classics on there, my favourite thing to bake is pineapple upside down cake, or scones because they’re quick and easy.”

My memory’s of baking with Grandma are fond, when I was little I would be her assitant and was always allowed to lick the spoon.

Do you have any memories of baking with your Grandma? Leave a comment below.

 

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