Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easy, delicious, reliable, wonderful no knead bread recipe from King Arthur Flour!!

 Even though I made this myself, and admittedly it's not a British pudding/dessert, I have to admit it's some of the best bread I've ever tasted...seriously, it is GOOOOOOOD and so ridiculously easy - how could I be selfish and not share!

Thank you KING ARTHUR FLOUR for this fabulous recipe!!! 

You don't have to know about yeast, or proofing, or leavening or  rising - all you have to do is weigh and measure correctly and do a bit of simple timing -

Here it is straight from the oven and waiting to be slathered with slabs of gorgeous Kate's Butter from Maine....
Here's the link to the recipe:


I do recommend doing both by weight and not volume as it's much more reliable that way - same recipe every time - no variations in how you fill your cups.

Look at the beautiful texture - and the bread is moist without being in any way soggy - the crust is crisp and browns beautifully - I use the white recipe to make 8 largish rolls as above. The bread also cuts fantastically WITHOUT any crumbs - bread crumbs drive me nuts - and it toasts like a dream!!!!

Of you pop and bake, bake, bake - let me know if you use this recipe and how it works for you -

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Strawberry Charlotte with Roses de Reims Biscuits for La Fete National!

For La Fete Nationale , or Bastille Day as we English speakers call it,  I made a Strawberry Biscuit Roses de Reims Charlotte with Glaceed Angelica gifted to me most generously by Isabelle White at Histoire Sucree - the most divine place to buy beautiful and exquisite French confections - nougat, calissons, marrons glace, the list goes on and deliciously on.
A beautiful pink boite de biscuits and gorgeous glaceed angelica. 
A close up of the candied angelica, technically known as Angelica Archangelica - what a cool name!! - I thought to myself as I beheld this delight - it reminds me of celery - and it has the stringy ribs like celery and sure enough, now I did some research, I find it is indeed called wild celery - it is a medicinal plant and is used to flavour various liqueurs including Chartreuse. The flavour is hard to describe but it is distinct and tastes particularly good when eaten with whipped cream - the combination somehow transcends the sum of the two parts. 

It is not hard to make this celebratory dessert but it is time consuming and preferably you should make it one day ahead to allow the strawberry mousse to set up nicely - I had quite the palaver making mine as the weather was atrociously humid causing great concern over fluffing of meringue/marshmallow and curdling of creams but I prevailed and everything turned out well as you can see.

To begin with you should have Roses de Reims biscuits available and if you don't have them to hand Ladyfingers will suffice in a trice - if you don't happen to have angelica either any candied fruit would be nice - whatever you think would taste well with strawberry mousse.

Let's make the cake first - just a small 6" thin disk to help be the foundation of our Charlotte - this should be made the day before to harden a little overnight and develop flavour the way cake does so well.

CAKE: Enough for one 6" shallow cake which should be buttered and floured ready for use - pre-heat oven to 350F

2oz/half a stick soft butter

2oz/ 1/2 cup white flour

2oz /scant 1/3 cup sugar

1 egg whisked lightly 

2 tablespoons cocoa powder sifted with the flour

1. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy and light.

2. Add egg in 3 goes and beat well between each addition.

3. Resift flour and cocoa powder into the batter and fold until blended.

4. Put batter into prepared pan and smooth.

5. Bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

6. Allow to cool completely and put in a tin overnight.


1lb strawberries - the best you can find - sliced 

1oz/ 1/8 cup sugar
Toss strawberries with sugar - then cook for about 20 minutes until the juices run and they start to thicken - allow to cool and then liquidize to a nice vivid red sauce.

4oz / 1/2 cup strawberry puree

3 tablespoons/ 1 1/2 ozs butter 

In the top of a double boiler melt these 2 ingredients together - allow to cool - set aside

2 egg yolks

1oz/ 1/8 cup sugar
In the top of a double boiler whisk these together until they resemble thick mayonnaise - take off the heat and continue whisking until cool - set aside
2 egg whites
5 ozs/ heaped 1/3 cup sugar
large pinch cream of tartar
  4 tablespoons hot water.

1. Put all 4 ingredients in a large bowl set over a pan of lightly simmering water - don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water or the eggs will cook.

2. Whisk like crazy until the mixture forms soft peaks, and at this point it should be quite hot to the touch making your eggs safe if you are using commercial eggs.

3. Take the bowl off the heat and keep whisking until cool and about this thick:

Whip 4 fl ozs heavy/double cream with 2 tablespoons sugar
TO ASSEMBLE MOUSSE: Fold the strawberry puree very gently into the whipped cream, then fold in the whipped egg yolks and finally the whisked egg whites - I didn't add any gelatin as I don't like to use it but it could have done with some kind of thickening agent like gelatin or agar agar, which is much trickier to use especially with dairy ingredients - I packet of unflavoured gelatin used as per manufacturers instructions would work for this amount of strawberry mousse.
6oz chocolate chips melted in the top of a double boiler.

1. Place the chocolate cake on your presentation plate and cover with the strawberry sauce you didn't use in the mousse.
Now dip the bottoms of the Roses de Reims biscuits or Ladyfingers one by one in the chocolate and stand smartly around the chocolate cake thus: little Stonehenge dessert :) I forgot to take a photo but I now strew some of the glaceed angelica cut into small pieces atop the puree...
Allow chocolate to cool completely - you may need to do some stone mason work to help the biscuits stand and hold the mousse thus:
When the chocolate is cooled - by the way - don't cool the chocolate in the fridge or it will cloud and look unattractive! 
Now gently pour the mousse into the centre of the roses de Reims ring you have created:
At this point I would allow the mousse to sit and gel for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.

And now for the fun cream furbelows and decorations - whip up some more sweetened cream and decorate to your hearts content, then add angelica, or glaceed/candied fruit of your choice in a pleasing pattern, and finally some nice, genteel dollops of the remaining strawberry puree - I would have added some sliced fresh strawberries too but with the humidity we have had lately the strawberries did not look good enough for decoration - the season seemed awfully short this year!!

Bonne fete mes amis Francais - s'il vous plaît excusez mon mauvais Français - from Maine, which is named after the French province of Maine 
and home to Acadian culture
 Merci beaucoup Isabelle - Patricia
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

The various colours of Wild Maine Blueberries

As you can see they're not just blue -at least not to start with - they go through a variety of delightful, mellowed shades from green and almost white through red, lilac and purple to finally end up that beautiful bloomed blue.

As you can also see in the picture above there's a reason why they used to be called Starberries - a name I think should be revived for it's romantic ring.

Blueberry barrens only bear fruit every other year - here's a link to the UMaine information on our wonderful wild berry and click on the name to visit one of our state's growers in Blue Hill, Maine: GM Allen and Son
Even navy blue and magenta...the one below I took at dusk and couldn't quite get the focus but the camera did capture the glow of these berries in the evening light:

I will have a new Blueberry recipe coming as soon as the crop is in probably around August 1st.

 I just recently created this logo for the Etsy Maine Team using a blueberry painting I did some years ago and I created a watercolour painting of the state bird, the Chickadee, especially for the logo:
This the Facebook cover above and the profile picture below:
 and a t-shirt design for the teamies to wear with pride!
And now there's an Etsy Maine Team CafePress shop too - hooray - click HERE! for t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers and so much more

 This is the original blueberry painting I scanned and used for the background - I will be making an allover print of it soon for my Spoonflower shop.
and my best shot so far of wild Maine blueberries - available as a print in my Etsy shop HERE

These cool blue delphiniums are also blooming right now - their colour always amazes me - such a pure and glistening sky blue with a hint of lavender - so very pretty
Isn't this colour palette just breathtaking with the wild daylilies:
This post is part of the Rurality Blog Hop - click the picture link to visit the other participants:
Rurality Blog Hop #22
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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Free WORLDWIDE shipping from my Society6 shop - yippeee!!

YessireeBobsyeruncle - there's free WORLDWIDE shipping, until July 14th 2013, from my Society6 online print-on-demand shop but only with this specific link:
 iPhone 5/iPod cases HERE
Samsung Galaxy 4 cases HERE when you click on this link it will show all iPhone 5 cases, click on the esign you like and then on the drop down you can see the Galaxy 4 case - thanks!!
iPad cases HERE

Posters/prints HERE
(but framed prints and stretched canvases are not eligible for free shipping)

Jolly Cards HERE
Pretty cushion/pillow covers HERE
offer not available on pillows with inserts - just on cases :)
T-shirts HERE and hoodies HERE
 If you have perused the designs over at Society6 via the product links above you still need to click THIS link to get the free shipping offer - thank!!

Happy shopping and free shipping - Patricia

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Happy Birthday America Cake!

I baked you a cake!!!

My apologies for the tardiness of this post - I do have a jolly good reason and I did in all fairness to myself actually bake and eat this cake on July 4th, which in and of itself was a feat due to amazing humidity and general stickiness here in Maine - not your usual kind of weather in our usually coolish-even-in-summer fair state. Due to said stickiness my computer decided to do a lot of jumping and jiggling about when I attempted to use either the keyboard or stylus rendering me incapable of actually writing a post - when I wrote a snippet on Facebook the cursor would jump to the middle of a sentence when I was halfway through and I kept on writing not realizing this had happened thus making my comments a bunch of even worse than usual gobbledeegook - it was a very frustrating occurrence which did not rectify itself until the humidity dropped and the air cleared and hooray here I am now all cool and dry and able to write at will - yea!!!

I found this divine recipe via Pinterest Strawberry Banana Milkshake Cake at the Hungry Rabbit and decided I wanted to make the strawberry part as the jumping off point for my Independence Day cake - I knew I wanted a pink cake with strawberries and blueberries and white icing - I was going to cover the cake with just whipped cream for the British part of this honouring of the birthday of this great nation cake but it was too humid for whipped cream, I think it would have curdled and soured as I was taking the photos so I made a marshmallow icing/frosting which I was also leery about with the atmospheric conditions but hey it turned out really well and was very easy to boot!

Let's get started shall we!
This recipe is for a 6" cake made in one layer - double for a 9" cake with two separate layers.
Do keep some blueberries and strawberries reserved for decoration.
First I made a very simple blueberry jam - I just put half a punnet of blueberries (sadly the Maine wild blueberries weren't ready yet so I used New Jersey high bush blueberries which are larger) and about 3 heaped tablespoons of sugar together in a pan and gently heated them until the berries popped and the juice thickened a bit - then I left that to cool. You can sweeten more to taste as you chose.

Next was the strawberry part:
12ozs fresh strawberries

2oz/1/4 cup sugar

1. Put these 2 ingredients in a pan and heat until the strawberries are soft and the juices are flowing.

2. Put into a strainer and press to extract all the juices.

3. Put juice back into the pan and reheat and cook down until you get 1fluid ounce/ 1/8 cup of strawberry syrup.

4. Put solids in a blender and blend until smooth, set aside.

THE CAKE: Have all your ingredients at room temperature.

3 fluid ounces/3/8cup whole milk

3 large egg whites 

 1-2 drops red food colour

4 1/2ozs/ 1 1/8 cups white flour

1 3/4 ozs/ 3/8 cup malt milk powder - I forgot to get this so I used some toasted buckwheat groats ground up in the coffee grinder

  5ozs/ 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  2 teaspoons baking powder

  1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

6 tablespoons soft, salted butter, cut into pieces - I always use Kate's.

Now here's an interesting way to make a cake I have not seen before - but it worked - thanks Hungry Rabbit

Prepare your 6" cake pan y buttering, lining with parchment and buttering and flouring ready for the batter.Have your oven at 350F

1. In a medium sized bowl whisk the strawberry syrup, milk and egg whites together until well blended.

2. In a separate bowl whisk all the dry ingredients together and then add bit by bit the soft butter - I don't have a mixer so I used two knives to 'cut' the butter into the dry mix - see this video for how to do that - keep on doing this until all the butter is cut in and the mix is pretty evenly sized.

3. Add half of the strawberry mix and blend until smooth.

4. Add rest of strawberry mix and again blend until smooth.

5. Add the red food colour if you want to make the cake a bit pinker - I added 2 drops and maybe should have added three for a bit more pink but then I also don't like the taste of red food colouring so actually I was happy with less pink and no red flavour. 

6. Pour batter into pan....
and bake for about 45 - 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. (If you do double the recipe and do it in two pans the time should be about 20-22 minutes)

7. Remove from the oven, allow to cool about 10 minutes and then take cake out of pan and put on a cooling rack until completely cold.

8. Whilst cake is cooling whip 1 cup of cream with sugar to taste and keep in the fridge until you are ready to use.

9. When the cake is completely cold cut in half horizontally.

10. Slather one half with blueberry 'jam'
11. Slather other half with strawberry 'jam':
12. Slather blueberry side with the whipped cream:
 13. Place one half on top of the other and put in the fridge whilst you make the easy peasy marshmallow frosting/icing.
Off to the fridge with you!!
I thought this was going to be really hard and also thought it may not work in the heavy humidity we were experiencing in Maine but I, happily, was wrong on both counts!! 

2 egg whites at room temperature (very important or the icing may not work half so well) 

6 ounces/ 3/4 cup sugar  - the recipe I used from an ancient British magazine said twice this amount of sugar which just seemed ridiculous so I went with the 6 ozs and it worked fine.

Large pinch of cream of tartar

2 tablespoons hot water.

1. Put all 4 ingredients in a large bowl set over a pan of lightly simmering water - don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water or the eggs will cook.

2. Whisk like crazy until the mixture forms soft peaks, and at this point it should be quite hot to the touch making your eggs safe if you are using commercial eggs.

3. Take the bowl off the heat and keep whisking until cool and about this thick:
 Isn't that beautiful?

Now take your cake out of the fridge and slather frosting on the little darling - I found the best way to do this was to pile it on the top of the cake and push it over the edge thus:
Now adorn as you see fit with your reserved blueberries and strawberries - I created a star with my strawberries and was very pleased with my self when I had finished :) 
This picture doesn't show it but the cake did come out a very pale pink
...and despite me using the buckwheat groats instead of the malted milk powder the taste was really nice - the buckwheat does give a nice toasted accent akin to a strong cereal flavour and the cake wasn't too sweet which was also good as the frosting certainly was. The frosting set very nicely and was a nice addition to this cake.

Here is my cake in front of the flag we hung for July 4th - isn't it the perfect flag for an Anglo/American couple - it is the Grand Union - the first official flag of the United States and the flag of George Washington, for whom, apparently, this cake should be made with cherries instead of strawberries - which I think would be just fine!!
I do hope everyone had a wonderful July 4th holiday and you'll consider making this cake all summer long.

The two designs I used in the background of some of these pictures are available ay my Spoonflower SHOP as fabric, wallpaper, decals and wrapping paper:
Americana Folkloric 
Americana Folkloric - HERE

Jacobean Strawberries by Patricia Shea
Jacobean Strawberries HERE 

HAPPY BAKING - if you do make this cake please consider posting your pictures on my Facebook page HERE - I'd be honoured.