Thursday, 3 November 2016

Monkey Dunkey Brioche - aka Resistance is Futile

I have one very dodgy photo of the Monkey Dunkey Bread.  I highly doubt that Marie will be bringing this photo to this weeks baking round up...

Lucky it was on the plate

The Monkey Dunkey brioche is totally amazing, incredible and, despite the dubious photo, completely edible.  Far too edible.  This is the reason I stopped baking for a year.  Rose comes up with these recipes which make resistance completely futile and blood sugars spike.

I mistakenly made this in April 2015, when we were meant to be making the caramel rolls.  I loved it then, I love it even more now.  

The entire method was better explained back in April 2015.  When clearly I had more time than I do this week.  The great thing about this recipe is that it is in many parts.  Which kind of fits with my life.  Baking time is slotted in around life.  I commenced the starter on Friday evening and these were pulled out of the oven on Sunday night as the boys were going to bed.  I gave one to Isaac as he was about to get into bed (caramel and chocolate before bed - what could go wrong).  His response was "That was amazing!  What was that?"  and then promptly headed downstairs for more.  I have to agree, it is hard to stop at one caramel coated ball.  Sigh.

There was just one averted disaster in this bake.  I used the wrong yeast - not the fast acting yeast.  Which I slowly realised as my brioche dough slowly failed to rise...  After two hours of very little growth, I just added the requisite amount of fast acting yeast into the dough and it was all went perfectly from then on in.

I did make a double batch of the dough so I can remake the caramel roll things this weekend.  Elastic waisted trousers here I come.

This weeks bake is Prune Preserves in a swiss roll with caramel whipped cream.  Or something.  Either way I don't think this will be a series of minutes snatched over the weekend, so life might have to take a secondary position this weekend whilst baking stakes centre stage.  I think I will invite the neighbours around for tea and prunes. 

And because we are so light on photos this week, a gratuitous photo of the autumn leaves.

N x

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Brandy Snap Cannoli

Brandy Snap Cannoli not out of a packet

Brandy snaps were the thing my paternal grandmother always presented at family pot luck dinners.  I was always impressed and excited to see the plastic wrapped plate of brandy snaps filled with cream.  Seriously - how did she get them so crispy and with all those lacy holes.  I have to admit to being a whole lot less impressed as a baking adult when I realised that these amazing creations were the result of opening a packet of mass produced brandy snaps and filling them with whipped cream.  Well, I *think* she at least whipped the cream herself.  Let's not shatter any more illusions of my childhood.  It would appear that I am quite judgemental in my old age...

And whilst it may seem as though I whip up a batch of these every other week, this is my second only attempt.  Mine were definitely not the lacy confection of my grandmother's "makings".  Mine were definitely, as Mary Berry would say, "informal" - which basically means rustically homemade.

The actual brandy snap mix is a one pot wonder of sugar, golden syrup, butter all melted together and then mixed with ginger, flour and surprisingly enough, brandy.  I can't quite recall the exact method.  I was multi tasking making a tiramisu (Rose's Heavenly Cake recipe) for Chris's birthday. 

I then spooned the mix onto the baking sheet, allowing a lot of room for expansion.  Rose recommends 2 - 2 1/4 inch rounds.  I think I would have preferred a weight.  Because for the last tray, my mix had solidified quite a bit and the 2 inch rounds were considerably taller and consequently they were giant brandy snaps.  No one complained though.

2 inches?
During the baking process the mix effectively boils, and because of the lack of flour/copious amounts of sugar it produces the lacy effect.  Except if you have a thick mixture.  Which I clearly did, because my brandy snaps were more akin to a crocheted afghan blanket, rather than anything approaching lace.  I am not sure how I could have got a thinner mix - add less flour?  Boil the mix less? Add water?  Add more brandy?  I think add more brandy - no losers there.

Once the brandy snaps are cool enough to touch, they are then wrapped around an appropriately sized dowel.  I improvised.
Are you just pleased to see me?
The handle of the wooden spoon wedged into the drawer.  Given the sturdiness of my brandy snap, I ended up just hand rolling them into the tubular shape, and so long as they cooled seam side down, they all stayed rolled and didn't flatten.  So there are some upsides to having sturdier mix.

My grandmother only ever filled her brand snaps with whipped cream.  Rose pushed the boat out with the cannoli cream.  I have to say I have a fairly soft spot for cannoli (always plural).  That filling, the crispy shell, heaven.  I have never ever tried to make cannoli - that is a big investment in cannoli moulds and fat for frying let alone the risk of third degree burns.

Except Rose's cannoli cream isn't the usual creme patisserie.  Instead it is crème pat adulterated (and I do believe that is the correct usage of the word) with  soaked currants and dried cherries, mascarpone cream, Cointreau (instead of Grand Marnier) and whipped cream.  The crème patisserie was absolutely incredible.  Instead of dividing an egg in half I just doubled the ingredients.  Why do things by halves? 

Crème Patisserie.  True Love.
I could have happily just filled the brandy snaps right there and then.  It would have saved me from *testing* that the crème patisserie had cooled to the right temperature.  Especially given I seemed to have *forgotten* how to use the thermometer and instead I was forced to eat teaspoons at a time.  Apparently the time between hot and perfect folding temperature is approximately 122 grams of crème patisserie.  Double the recipe to then eat half - genius.  Fat, sugar compromised genius, but genius non the less.

Sour Cherry injury
The dried cherries were cut into quarter inch bits, which resulted in a scissor injury.  I think I will use a knife next time or some kind of dried cherry vice.  Bracing myself through the pain, the cut up cherries and the currants and reduced with whisky (or brandy), sugar and orange zest.  Once cooled, this was folded through the mascarpone.  I am not sure how mascarpone is in the rest of the world, but I have found it highly susceptible to over whipping.  So I just folded the fruit mix into the mascarpone by hand, rather than pulling out the mixer.  Then the crème patisserie is folded in to create enough mix to fill double the number of brandy snaps you actually have.

I was faffing about in the drawer trying to find a tip big enough to pipe the filling.  As luck would have it, I selected a large star tip.  It would be dishonest of me to say that I purposefully chose this size because I anticipated that the chunky fruit would get caught by anything smaller.  Let's just say that sometimes the baking gods smile.  I only filled four brandy snaps, figuring that the kids wouldn't like the cream given the dead flies (currants) and lingering weirdness of the booze.  I was correct with two out of the three.

Thumbs up
Isaac ate three out of the four with no complaints about either lumps or booze.  I ate one, with complaints about lumps and booze - I definitely prefer the plain crème patisserie.  The remaining brandy snaps have been eaten without filling by the little boys and with filling by Isaac.

While I won't make the filling again, I will definitely be making the crème patisserie and the brandy snaps.  And I think even the little boys would happily eat that combination.

Tiramisu and Brandy Snap Cannoli
Next week monkey dunkey something or other brioche bun thingy what what.  I have baked this in error and lord alive it was the best baking stuff up I have ever made.  I will be baking it again this weekend... 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Araxi Lemon Tart

Overbaked but not burned...

I was literally clapping my hands together with childlike glee at this week's recipe.  About four weeks ago we hosted a dinner party for our breeder friends (those kindred sleep deprived baby obsessed souls whom we befriended whilst expecting our first born over eight years ago).  I am crazily ambitious when planning any event, I won't bore you with the original menu compared to the scaled back menu.  My originally envisaged selection of tarts for dessert were scaled back from plural to singular.   Happily, I decreased the number after I had made two batches of *almost* the very pastry required for this weeks bake.  I say *almost* because as I read through Marie's post I realised that there was no lemon zest in my already prepared pastry.  I can't even pretend that I gave this more than a passing "oh, well".

Assuming you have pastry in the fridge this recipe is a complete doddle.  The most difficult thing is squeezing the lemons.  Particularly if your lemons are almost bereft of juice.  Particularly if the juiceless lemons take so long to cut and juice that your scales turn off and you weren't paying attention to the weight before they turned off so you have to wildly guess how much lemon juice you have already tipped into the cake mixer.  Sigh.  I think it was roughly right.  Maybe a bit more right than wrong as the final result was quite lip puckeringly tart.

The best citrus juicer ever
This is not a lemon curd tart, it is more of a lemon cream tart.  The ingredients of sugar and eggs are beaten together with the lemon juice.  Then in a separate bowl (and I was questioning Rose the whole time - really Rose, really?! A separate bowl?  Righto, but I can't see how this is going to make *any* difference to the end product - I do have quite long one sided conversations with my recipe books when I bake) the cream is whipped to soft peaks.  Then (this is where I really ramped up the crazy talk) you fold the cream into the egg/sugar/lemon mix.  I am not sure what happened to others at this point but my softly whipped cream disintegrated back into double cream.  I am certain the next time I make this tart I will be dispensing with that step (resulting in one less bowl and whisk to wash up).  This is then put back into the fridge, for I have no idea why, for half an hour.  Dark arts clearly at work.

Half an hour is probably just to allow for cleaning up the egg shells and juiceless lemon carcasses
The rolling of the pastry is, however, total genius, I marvel at it every single time.  I am sure I have posted pictures of it on this blog previously.   If your current method of moving pastry from bench to tart tin involves a rolling pin and cursing and patching, then undertake an investigation and search this out in the archives.  Your life will be forever better, I promise.

The pastry is blind baked.  I had quite a bad crack between the wall and the base of the tart which I thought would end with my lemon cream pooling in the bottom of the oven.  Fortunately a thorough application of egg white to hot pastry sealed any leaks.


The super glue that is egg white

Into the pastry case which has cooled for three minutes (I didn't set the timer) the lemon cream is ever so carefully tipped in and then baked.  In all it baked for 35 minutes.  I think this was about 8 minutes too long.  I am guessing 8 because it was too jiggly in the middle at 20 minutes and solid and just starting to pull away from the pastry after the second batch of 15 minutes.  There is the requisite cooling period of course at which point the cracks opened up like a bad earthquake movie.  Glad the fault lines were between filling a pastry and not in the centre of the tart.

An overbaked tart.  By the time this cooled that crack between the pastry and the filling could swallow a small child.
This tart had to sit overnight so it added to other peoples waist lines rather than our own.  It was eaten at work today, with only a smallish wedge to bring home for Chris.  I think it should be eaten on the day of making; the pastry was crisp when I sliced it last night, but very soft, some might say, soggy of bottom, this afternoon.  Also,interestingly, the lemon cream had separated into two layers, the layer just above the pastry is more like a traditional lemon curd and the top layer more creamy, almost like a lemon posset.  Maybe this comes about because the cream is whipped and sits and then is mixed through again?  Dark arts indeed.  I really wish I had cut a slice last night to compare to this afternoons sampling.  This is definitely on the make again but serve whilst still warm list.

Layers - can you see them?

This weekend - brandy snap cannoli.  I am beyond excited about these things.  I predict swearing, a few burns, exploding icing bags but ultimately happiness.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Giant jammy biscuit- or some such thing

Two layers of sweet pastry bigger than your head sandwiched with a reduced raspberry jam? What is not to love. Particularly if you are 8. The perfect serving size for one apparently.

Rose gives an ominous warning - a simple and elegant recipe which requires the skill of a crafts person to achieve.  I am not ashamed to admit a little preening after this pulled out of the oven.

Despite Rose's warning, I did find this recipe pretty simple, and relatively quick.  Well, definitely quick in effort. Chilling time extends this to something that can't be knocked out quickly. Rose has you makes the biscuit first, but I think in future I would reduce the jam first because that took the longest time to cool, and protracted the time a little more.

To the biscuit.  This feels very similar to the pastry on the French orange tart.  That pastry is now my go to sweet pastry.  People swoon over that pastry.  I am feeling you it is the fastest way to a table full of compliments.  In place of the turbinado sugar I used demerrera which adds an extra crunch to the biscuit as well as imparting a very subtle caramel flavour (could be that I am imagining that last bit).  To the whizzed sugar the cold butter is added until the sugar disappears. Then flour and salt is whizzed in until pea size, then egg added until it forms slightly bigger clumps.

Actually have just reread the French orange tart pastry and they are really nothing alike other than the turbinado sugar.  Good for you all to know how amazing that pastry is.

I rolled out the biscuit without the requisite chilling without any issues. Once cut into a 12 inch disk I did refrigerate both top and bottom biscuit.  I had a mad scramble to find two baking tray sheets big enough.  Once top and bottom were chilled, one was scored with the wedges with natty cut outs, assuming you had natty cutters which I do, but not in quaint tiny size. I improvised with an icing coupler for a minimalist circle.  This is then chilled for a bit longer to minimise the stress (of the baker) when executing the sandwich move.

In amongst all this rolling and chilling and cutting and chilling, a jar of seedless raspberry jam is reduced from 357 grams to 314 grams.  I was less precise with this section of the recipe... I put the jam in the pan and put it on the gas and then went to check in the boys who were ensconced in front of a particularly entertaining episode of "How to train your dragon".  Not sure how long I was distracted. Long enough to burn the bottom of the pan. But not long enough to set off the smoke alarm. It wasn't even a minor disaster. I dipped my finger in and decided it didn't taste too burned.
 No idea how much it weighed, there was enough to spread around.

Once the jam was applied, the edges painted with (sorry can't use the word moistened because I know loads of people who have the heebies from that word) water  and then the top biscuit is applied.  I am not quite sure how I did that. I think I just lifted it up and plonked it on top. Like a true crafts person.

The edges are pinched together with a fork and then rose instructs poking it all over in a radiating design. Given I couldn't see any evidence of holes in her photo I decided that was a waste of effort and opted out of that instruction.  The assembled biscuit has one more chillax before baking,

The end result was a big biscuit, resulting in great excitement. Once cut into 12 wedges, it was slightly less exciting but also meant there was no fighting to the death to see who took the biscuit.

This is the type of sandwich biscuit I like making. Only two shapes to cut and sandwich instead of endless rolling and faffing.   The biscuit was the right mix of tartness from the raspberry jam and buttery crunch from the biscuit. Note to self though - don't add salt to the mix if you are using salted butter.

I am sure this will be on the boys list for a while.  That whole "only one biscuit after school" rule just became quite promising.  Next weeks lemon araxi tart will have less fans I am guessing.

Monday, 3 October 2016

White and Dark Chocolate Marble Cheesecake

More mess than marble

As I tied on my apron, dusted off my scales and fired up the Kenwood, I felt a strong sense of Alpha Baker guilt.  I have, for some time now, recognised that I am a strong starter but a rubbish finisher.  So when Marie invited me to participate in the home stretch of the Baking Bible marathon... well, it left me feeling very conflicted.  Was I cheating?  Or was I just starting again, albeit from a different place? Or was it Marie, fuelled by evil refined sugar, luring me back into a diabetic dalliance?  

Last September I decided that satisfying my craving sugar (cake, naturally) every afternoon was not conducive to a long and healthy future.  And, surprisingly, once I realised that my sugar dressed as cake daily dosage was probably slowly killing me, it was relatively easy to give it up.   By "it", I mean refined sugar.  And then I felt, when I was baking, I was a bit on par with being a sugar dealer, so I eventually also dropped baking.  I can't say everyone was happy with this arrangement.

And coinciding with the week 7 of the 2016 season of The Great British Bake Off, here I am again.  I think I can just about trick my starter into finishing something that only goes for a few more weeks.

So this White and Dark Chocolate Marble Cheesecake is where I make my sly re entry into the Alpha Baker fold.  I was kicking myself I didn't rejoin last week when it was a Quick and Easy recipe.  Instead of the usual crushed biscuits with butter, the crust on this cheesecake was a chocolate sponge (well, Rose calls it a biscuit, but it is most definitely a sponge).

It was as I was making this sponge that I realised how much I had missed baking along with the Alpha Bakers.  Left to my own devices, I would never have made this cheesecake.  I mean seriously, chocolate sponge and two different fillings?  With sugar? Never.  On reflection, maybe I am not such a strong starter either...  So, to the sponge.  I can't remember if I have ever made a sponge like this before, certainly not in this size, because I had to use the solid shelf from the oven as my cake tray.  
The shelf from my oven aka sponge roll tin

The sponge was really quite simple to make.  The old cocoa mixed with boiling water trick.  
Cadburys vs Green & Black Cocoa (in that order)
Then lots of egg yolks are beaten with a few egg whites until they triple in volume (another amazing trick), fold in the oft sifted flour and then fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.  Predictably, I misread the recipe and it wasn't until I was ready to fold in the egg whites that I realised my cake mix was looking decidedly vanilla instead of chocolate...
Photo: Photo:
Three bowls instead of two

This is what marbling should look like...
Some hasty, yet delicate folding sorted it all out and I don't think I lost too much volume from the sponge.  Once it was cooled and cut and wodged into the cake tin, no one would be able to detect any mishap.  Can I just say, as a child of the metric system, 1 3/4 inches is a weird concept.  I now realise, looking at my ruler that 3/4 inch is not that weird, but 2 inches is way easier and is it turns out, a better height to contain all that filling.  So my sponge was cut into two inch strips, not 1/3/4.

Strips cut 2 inches thick

Perfect!  Luckily this is all covered by cream cheese.
The filling was not as complicated as Rose's preamble made out.  Rose talks about making two separate fillings to then marble.  In reality it is a single mix divided into two batches with either melted white chocolate or melted dark chocolate mixed in.  One key learning is to ensure that the cream cheese/cream/egg/sugar filling is at the advised temperature.   Otherwise when you mix the warm chocolate with cold filling you get chocolate chip, instead of chocolate cream.   It wasn't a bitter experience, just annoying.

Pretty sure those choc chips are not meant to be there (only a small amount of swearing)

 The filling is then poured into the cake tin, encased in a silicon cake tin.  Trust me, as a veteran of the water bath cheesecake, the aluminium foil around the cake tin never works.  Invest a few pounds/dollars in a silcone cake pan (can't be called a tin really, can it?) and you will save a lot of soggy bottom cheesecake, not to mention reduce your foil footprint on the planet.
The actual hardest thing about the cheesecake was the faffing marbling.  So, apparently you scoop and lift?  What an awful mess.
After an hour or so baking out it comes, looking less that perfect.  I don't think the recipe said to top it with any disguise... but then again they probably did proper marbling instead of my unattractive brown splodge.  Mary Berry would be definitely telling me it looked unfinished.  I am definitely not getting called up to GBBO anytime soon.


The overall verdict?  It was a very good cheesecake, however not sure I could differentiate the white chocolate at all, perhaps it is a bit like the dreamy creamy frosting and the white chocolate just provides the right sweetness and mellowness?  I did reduce the sugar in the filling from 200grams to 150 grams and if I made it again I would probably reduce it further to 100 grams.  All who tried it, liked it, no one went back for seconds though.  I am not sure if that is because I have ranted too long and hard about the evils of sugar, or if one slice is enough, or they really didn't like it so much and were just being polite...  Either way, the boys will finish it off tomorrow and I can guarantee they will be looking for more.

I am definitely baking in for the next four items...  insulin and stretchy trousers on pre order. 

Monday, 31 August 2015

Lemon Drizzle Cake

A solitary photo of this house's most popular cake
(Lacking top icing in this shot!)
Here you go Granny Vicki!

This lemon drizzle cake is Isaac and his best friend's favourite cake.  Fortunately it is also quick and easy.  All care, no responsibility on this recipe.  I have read it a few times and expanded on the method (mine is literally a list of ingredients... and an oven temperature)

Cake Ingredients
145 grams unbleached flour
55 grams ground almonds
1 + 3/4 teaspoons of baking powder
pinch of salt
zest of one lemon
120 grams natural unsweetened full fat yoghurt (I always use greek set)
200 grams caster/super fine sugar
150 grams eggs (usually 3)
95 grams vegetable oil

30 grams icing/powdered sugar
60 grams lemon juice (freshly squeezed usually just the one lemon from above)

Icing Glaze
110 grams icing/powdered sugar
45 grams lemon juice (freshly squeezed)

Bonus optional points - Lemon Curd Mascarpone Filling

250 grams mascarpone cheese
70 grams of lemon curd

Line the base of a 9 inch cake tin with parchment/baking paper and preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, almonds, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.

In another bowl (or stand mixer if you are feeling energetic enough to get your stand mixer out, but not energetic enough to whisk by hand) mix together the yoghurt, sugar, eggs and vegetable oil until it comes together in a homogenous mix.  Basically mix until the oil is no longer sitting on the surface.

Fold the flour mix into the wet ingredients until it is blended (about 30 seconds with a stand mixer, about two minutes by hand) - it won't be totally smooth, but nor should you have any big lumps or dry bits.

Bake in a 9 inch cake pan for 15 minutes, turn the pan and then bake for a further 10 - 15 minutes.  It will be baked when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry.

Allow to stand in the tin for 10 minutes, and make the syrup.

Bring the lemon juice and the icing sugar to the boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from the heat.

Remove the cake from the tin to a cake rack.  Poke the top and the bottom with the toothpick, this will allow the syrup to penetrate more deeply in the cake.  Divide the syrup in half and brush half on the bottom of the cake and half on the top of the cake.  It pays to do the bottom first and then flip the cake to do the top.  Once the syrup is applied the surface becomes a sticky and sometimes adheres to the cake rack.

Make the icing glaze.  Sift the icing sugar into a bowl.  Make a well in the centre and add the lemon juice.  Mix until you have a smooth consistency.

Finally ice the top of the cake.  Pour onto the cake - I usually just tip and angle the cake to let gravity complete the job.

If you have made two cakes or you want to serve the cake with more calories, then you can fill it with the Lemon Mascarpone filling, or just serve the cream on the side.  To make the filling, fold the lemon curd into the mascarpone cheese - it is easier to do this if the mascarpone isn't straight from the fridge - 30 minutes is usually enough.  Definitely do not use the stand mixer to mix this - I found to my peril that beating mascarpone cheese will end in tears.   Taste the mix and add more depending on your lemon curd and personal taste.

And can you please text me with your address so I can send Isaac around to yours...

Flaky Cream Cheese Scones

So, that was quite a while between posts.  I am not going to do my usual post catch up where I post an entry for all the weeks I missed all on one day.  Probably because my baking hasn't been entirely aligned with the Alpha Bakers.  Who knew summer would be full of loads more things than baking to someone other than Marie's schedule.

I think I am going to best remember July and August 2015 as the summer of Lemon Drizzle.  Isaac has a serious cake crush on Lemon Drizzle, it was his birthday cake way back in July, it was our annual glamping cake and then I think I have made it every second week since.  It also prompted the new purchase of the microplane lemon zester and relegation to the bottom of the drawer for the old one.

I think I am now back to scheduled programming.  There was no request for Lemon Drizzle this weekend which cleared the way for the Flaky Cream Cheese Scones.  I have never been brilliant at scones.  Usually pretty simple - flour, fat, milk, baking powder, a bit of salt and then a light touch.  I think it was the last ingredient that always failed me.  And also, you need to know your dough.

This is when I wish that my parents hadn't moved thousands of miles from my Grandmother.  Knowing exactly when the dough is right means that you have to make a lot of scones.  And the best way to make a lot of scones is to live on a farm and have a big family and random workers to feed.  Scones were always on the "menu" for soup lunches, post dinner dessert and smoko for the shearing crews and other farm workers.  I am not sure my grandmother was ever in pursuit of the best scone: the scone was the standby staple to feed a peckish crowd, just a vehicle for slabs of butter and jam, cream only if you were being a bit posh.  Cream was for cake, not for scones.  I am not sure if that is a New Zealand thing, or just a thing about living on a farm miles from the nearest store.  

I think my grandmother would have tutted at Rose's recipe.  Butter, flour, salt, baking powder - yes, no question.  Cream cheese, cream whipped to soft peaks - tut tut tut.  Dried cranberries or blueberries - tut tut tut tut tut!  Anyway, I didn't quite have the exact ingredients this afternoon as I readied these for tea and scone with a friend.  So I will lead you through the slight variations.

The three headed monster terrorising China Town

Charles Petillon's Heartbeat at Covent Garden - maybe more amazing whilst not trailing the three headed monster...
The three headed monster and I were in Covent Garden yesterday checking out this installation by Charles Petillon  and buying school shoes for the new school year when we happened upon a street giveaway of Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese.  I think that was the funniest thing I have seen in quite a while.  People walking along eating tubs of whipped cream cheese with a plastic spoon.  There were some very weird expressions as people realised it was a salty savoury cheese, rather than some a new Phily Ice Cream.  I think the lack of rubbish bins in London probably contributed to the number of people forced to eat the entire tub.  I just shoved my three tubs in my handbag and it was this whipped, gelatin stabilised cream cheese which ended up in my scone.  The best bit being the tub provided the perfect amount.

The other thing I didn't have was the cream.  Well, not real cream.  In the UK they have this stuff called Elmlea.  It is akin to margarine masquerading as butter.  This is fake cream, supposedly healthier for you but with so many ingredients and a shelf life to last into the next century you actually question whether the lower saturated fats are *actually* offset by the extended list of all the other rubbish.  Needless to say, I am not a fan.  The reason I end up with this pretender is because I sent my Mum, visiting here from New Zealand to buy cream.  In New Zealand there is no such thing as single cream or double cream, so I duly told Mum to buy double cream.  This counterfeit cream - dairy cream alternative sits in the cream section and it is the only one with bright packaging.  My mother, the bower bird/barracuda/magpie, spotted the word Double and ticked it off her list.  It has sat in quiet contemplation in my fridge ever since.  Given the cream wasn't going to be the main feature of these scones, I set it free.  The strangest thing is that it didn't really whip to soft peaks... until *nature* took its course after it sat on the bench for about 15 minutes at room temperature and firmed up some more...

If you are familiar with making scones, then you will be well acquainted with the method...

Cut the cream cheese into the dry ingredients with knives and then rub in the butter so it looks flaky.  Then the cranberries/blueberries are stirred in, followed by the cream whipped to soft peaks.  This then makes the scone dough.  Mine was pretty wet and sticky so I added in a bit more flour (sorry Rose!)  I gave myself permission to do this given the substitution of the wetter cream cheese and the fake cream...

Then Rose has you briefly knead the dough and then press it into a 9 inch cake tin.  Which is pretty clever really.  The thing that also struggle with when it comes to scones is how high they should be.  The 9 inch tin means that Rose keeps control of the height - clever!  Not that I am calling Rose a control freak.  Not at all.

Then into a hot oven to bake for about 20 minutes.  I went to the full 20 minutes, when I probably should have only baked to about 17 minutes.  Mine are looking a little like they spent a bit too long in the heat...

I suspect Rose would have liked them like this because they had a little crunch to them.  I think I prefer them with less crunch.  Speaking of crunch, there is a section following on from this recipe about making scone tops which Rose loves because they have more crunch...I don't get that.  For me the scone is about the pillowy softness, not the crunch.  Also, Rose, don't worry about the crunchy toppers - just bake them for 3 minutes too long!!

My friend arrived and we lamented our respective summer weight gains as we ate our way through three scones between the two of us.  In a token effort to calorie economising, we just split them  horizontally in half and topped with butter and strawberry jam and held back the cream (see how much better Elmlea is for you - it makes you not want cream!).  The final wash up of this long and rambling post is that the scones get a tick of approval.  I am not a fan of the dried cranberries mixed through - for both she and me, these would have been better to be a plumper dried fruit, like a raisin or a date or even a sultana.

Gym membership starts tomorrow.  Yes, really.  Attendance and participation at said gym to follow soon after.