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Christmas 2014 was good: lots of fun family time, and although having The Toddler around did mean less in the way of wine than usual it did mean more legitimate lego building. I also had a helper for lots of the Christmas baking. It was strange to think it’d be the last Festive time in our house, since …

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This week is British Pie Week, I didn’t make it up – http://www.britishpieweek.co.uk/ 

I heard of this because it was trending (unpromoted) on Twitter. Further investigation showed that it is made up and sponsored by Jus-Rol, the pastry manufacturers. The problem I have with this is NOT that a company is using an everyday dish to promote its product, but that inexperienced cooks might think they need a particular brand of pastry to make a pie – nonsense! Go experiment people! There are plenty of excellent recipe books out there in print and on the internet.

I’m buying into the spirit of the week anyway, but not with readymade pastry. I’ll be reading the Hairy Bikers Perfect Pies tonight and seeing what takes my fancy. I love pies (if you know me, this is evident at the waistline) so any week that promotes healthy and interesting cooking is fine by me, made up celebration or not!

This Christmas brought a lot of excellent presents, one of the best (and I can say this as I bought it – ha!) was the new book from the Hairy Bikers, or the Dirty Bikers as Andy insists on calling them. It is called “The Hairy Bikers’ Perfect Pies: The Ultimate Pie Bible from the Kings of Pies” and is very very awesome.

Not content with just the average pie recipe, they have savoury pies, sweet pies, potato topped pies, canapies (!) but the best category is that of hand held pie. This week, we had a go at making the humble pasty; shortcrust with a lamb and beef filling. These aren’t the best photos but the tasty goodness didn’t last long enough to take any nice ones!

So far, I can’t recomend the bikers pie book enough and so this weekend I’m planning another pie baking session, but maybe also a kinect fitness hour to balance things out 🙂

Puffle Cake Pops by squeejay
Puffle Cake Pops, a photo by squeejay on Flickr.

One of my nephews is currently obsessed with Club Penguin. If you have no idea what I’m talking about it’s a Disney thing and all you need to know is that there are some Penguins who have helpers/magic assistants called Puffles. In essence, and in the Disney merchandise mobile, Puffles are bean bags with hair.

I have long been a fan of Bakearellas Cake Pops, and made some a few years ago. I’ve got better at it though, and these are chocolate cake on the inside and chocolate coated on the outsife. The eyes are made of fondant and writing icing. The hair was done by ‘glueing’ chocolate cake decorations to the head with chocolate and then quickly dipping the pop in and out of some Wiltons Candy Melt coating, and twirling it around upside down to make spikes. They went down a treat!

Not together, I might add! This not having a job thing means I’ve had quite a but of time, even after tidying up the house, xbox and knitting. So, inspired by the current Waitrose Heston advert and my Mrs Beeton cookbook I got to work on some scotch eggs. Instead of the bacon and sausagemeat suggested by Mrs B or the pork sausage used by Heston, I mashed up some Aberdeen Angus Lorne Sausage for the filling. I also cooked the eggs until they were fully hard boiled, not runny yolked as both cooks suggest. We don’t have a deep fryer so a pan filled with oil had to do, which resulted in the finished scotches having a line around the middle of the breadcrumbs. Obviously this didn’t affect the taste, just the aesthetics.

The croissants were more of a challenge. The recipe comes from a breakfast book I have and sounds simple. Just flour, yeast, butter really. A lot of butter. Now I’ve made them, I’m a little bit put off croissants and think I’ll be cutting down. And having butter nightmares. The recipe was good, but took hours and hours. Fold, chill, leave, repeat became my mantra for about 3 hours. Then overnight resting, then morning rising then finally baking. Not a last minute recipe! I didn’t make a triangle template, which would have helped them look more criossanty in the end, but they tasted lush. Find a croissant recipe and give it a lazy weekend go! If you don’t have one in a book, then try this one here from the Domestic Goddess in Training. I haven’t tried her croissants but everything else I’ve ever tried from this site has worked splendidly.

I’ve picked up a load of good books in charity shops lately, many of them cookery and baking based. The National Trust Book of Traditional Puddings (1983) is one of them. A lot of the recipes are labour intensive or designed for large families (I don’t think the two of us could manage some of them even if we tried), so for the Saturday Experiment I choose one if the many ice cream recipes.

In the freezer is a Marmalade ice cream – consisting of eggs, lemon juice, cream, sugar and marmalade. It’ll be a few hours before its ready but looks like it’ll be worth it. You basically whisk 4 egg yolks with a tablespoon of lemon juice, add 4 tablespoons of marmalade, then 400ml of whisked double cream. Add sugar to taste, depending on how sweet the marmalade was in the first place. Fold in the egg whites that you’ve just whisked to the soft peak stage and freeze in a lidded container. Take out of the freezer every so often and mush it about with a fork to break up any ice crystals. Yummy!