The Biscuit Pose – when yoga met baking

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‘Why don’t you write a blog post about yoga and baking?’ the message came through from my closest friend. I was immediately imagining my yoga mat adorned with cupcakes. It could certainly act as an incentive to get closer to the floor or at the very least a snack mid way through.

In December I had been her last minute plus one on yoga retreat. Previous to this I had done one yoga class, but I jumped at the chance. It turned out to be a weekend where every emotion under the sun was felt, the most inspirational yoga teacher was met and yoga became part of my daily life. And then there was the food, we ate like kings for the duration of the weekend. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and an afternoon tea, it was like being on holiday with my family where it’s a running joke that you never go without food for more than a couple of hours. After the first dinner of roasted sweet potato topped with vegetarian chilli, there was a mutual joy of anticipation of the next meal and the sharing of this food together. One of the reasons I love baking/cooking is being able to then share the bounty with those around me. Food has a wonderful way of bringing people together, there were almost moments of silence around the table when the food stole the show and the appreciation was shown in smiles and glances between us.

 

I hadn’t anticipated that Yoga would become a daily practice for me, but it has. Since January I started following Yoga with Adriene and have been joining in daily with her monthly calendars. Why? For the very same reason I bake, it gives me headspace, be it 20 mins on an hour, this is time where I can effectively zone out of my surroundings and have some me time. In a group, on my own, or as I practiced yesterday with Mini M watching me on the sofa, he didn’t want to join in but I spied him raising his arms with me and by the end he was almost asleep, yoga by proxy! Yoga has given me a greater self awareness, identifying how we’re feeling in what can often be a hectic day and allowing time just to be with ourselves can never be underestimated.
I combined yoga and baking recently by making my some affirmation biscuits. Sometimes we all need that little bit of extra encouragement, someone or something reassuring us, a few words can make all the difference. In my case making the affirmation edible made complete sense, I could have my words and eat them!

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Self care may be the buzzwords of 2018 but don’t let that you put you off. I’m fully embracing it, why would we not want to look after ourselves. If you find something that makes you happy, embrace it, love it, make time for it.

 

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I love this quote from Cleo Wade

 

 

 

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Aldi – Time to adopt the brace position

I know, I’m late to the game on this. Aldi has been recommended to me countless times, but here’s the truth. I’m a Tesco delivery kinda gal. I’m quite happy with someone picking my products and kudos to Tesco, all their drivers are lovely, I’ve never once had a grumpy one.

Let me broach the main stumbling block….the aldi tills, the true meaning of fight or flight right there, but more on this later.

Let’s move on to the reason I found myself in Aldi this morning. I’d love to tell you it was all down to the recommendations, everyone says it’s cheaper and good produce. But it was none of the above. The entire reason is because I’ve become addicted to these:

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I was given some last week and I ate the last one and the addict in me couldn’t cope with the prospect of no more.

It wasn’t my first trip, I’ve been a couple of times before but only for a handful of things (self preservation at the checkout) but today on a whim, clearly I just want to live a little, I decide to do my weekly shop and get the ingredients for Christmas cake and pudding.

I go prepared, pound in my pocket for the trolley and bags for life at the ready (already feeling like a winner) and in I go. I was surprised how easy it was to navigate, I could easily find everything I wanted and the prices were definitely cheaper than Tesco for the majority of the items. When it came to the Christmas cake ingredients, Aldi won hands down, much cheaper in their  dried fruit and brown sugars.

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Everything on the list done and I realise I haven’t got the stollen (epic fail on the list front) with background anxiety knowing the tills are an ever looming presence, I approach the Christmas food aisle.

Stollen found, I head to to the till, goods out, bags ready. I’m going for the ‘I can do this’ look. In my head I’m expecting the worst, food overflowing off the packing section, I’ve adopted the ‘brace brace’ position and there is an announcement on the tannoy ‘could two members of staff please go to aisle 9 we have a new packer situation, I repeat a new packer situation’.
I start off well, food into bags, after the 5th item I quickly realise this is not going to work, food is already piling up. The aldi cashiers have superpowers, they are the fastest scanners ever. I’m imagining that there is a secret code at interviews, you’re either a superhero scanner or not. Perhaps they have daily arm workouts…I digress.

So the bags are done away with, food goes straight into the trolley, no order, just get it in (my organised brain is in turmoil but it’s chaotic trolley or brace position). And then after I walk as calmly as possible to the side and sort out my trolley into the bags. For those of you who can keep up and pack your bags as your food is scanned, you have my admiration and are absolute packing ninjas.

Survived, as I walk out I want to high five the shoppers going in. I’m not a high five type of person, I’m British don’t you know! Aldi has got the better of me, got a sneaky feeling i’ll be going back.

Cinnamon, Apple and Sultana Cookies

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There is something so satisfying about making cookies. They are so easy to make, you get to squidge the mixture in your hands, you get to watch as your golf ball sized bits of mixture turn into beautiful looking cookies and then you get to eat them warm out of the oven. And all of this is approximately 30 minutes, how can you resist?!

These were made for my friend who is ready to drop, I say ready, no one is ever ready but 9 months is fast approaching and the inevitable waiting game is coming to the end. I don’t make any claims that they will either help your fertility nor bring on a birth, nevertheless they are delicious and therefore ideal to while a way few hours (who I am kidding, minutes) while you eat them with an obligatory cup of tea.

This recipe is adapted from Recipes from a normal mum.

Makes 12-15

115g butter

1 tbsp golden syrup

170g self raising flour

85g caster sugar

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp cinnamon

100g sultanas

1 Apple (any kind you like) peeled, cored and cut into small chunks

  1. Preheat oven to 170 fan and line 2 baking trays with non stick baking paper.
  2. Melt the butter and golden syrup in a saucepan and then take off the heat.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir like crazy so all the ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
  4. Take small amounts of the mixture in your hands and roll into balls (approx size of a golf ball) and place on baking tray. Leave a good 3-5cm between each one as they will spread.
  5. Place in oven for 12-15min
  6. leave to cool on the baking sheet for a few mins and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Or if you’re like me, eat them warm when they are still a bit squidgy!!

 

 

 

 

 

The Baking Moose…….One Year On

The Baking Moose ……….. One year on!

Well, it’s my blogiversary and I’ll cry if I want to! And I almost did at the end of this cake. In my typical way, my lack of patience got the better of me, I wanted to transfer the cake onto the stand straight away. The cake was hot, it has warm apple puree in the middle and meringue on top. You can guess where this is going, the whole thing nearly slipped off the cake base and then to make it worse I thought I’d put it into a container and almost ended up with cake eton mess. I may not have cried but sulk I most certainly did, a hot chocolate was made, Downton Abbey put on the TV and a rather desperate cry to Mr Moose ‘Could you just please get it in the tin because I’ve had enough’

The cake that nearly made me weep!

The cake that nearly made me weep!

Am I ready to give up after a year? Hell no! There will always be errors but I loved baking when I started and I still do now and I’m not put off my lack of patience or potential disasters, it’s all part of the process. It’s only poor Mr M who gets the short straw, a grumpy Mrs M on his hands but then he does get cake on a regular basis, every cloud…….!

I thought I would share with you why I love being The baking Moose.

Online Baking Community

Bakers truly are a friendly and very supportive bunch of people. We have a love of all things baking in common. There may be competitiveness out there somewhere but I have yet to come across it. There are people who supported me right from the start who I now consider my friends and it’s only right that a coupe of people get a special mention. Melanie from Melanie’s food adventures has provided encouragement from the beginning, always giving me advice when I ask ‘what do you think of this….’ and sending me a gorgeous cake stand when she knew I hadn’t been able to get my hands on a tkmaxx special. And then there is the highly talented Jo from Every nook and cranny who not only has provided me with her baking expertise on many occasion but she creates recipes of which I have tried and tested several, all of which we have thoroughly enjoyed eating at Moose Cottage.

Expanding my baking horizons

Jo has also been an inspiration to me to try new things and I have found I get a lot of pleasure from trying something different. I hadn’t gone near any bread related baking but successfully baked cinnamon buns and gained a rather worrying addiction to baking Hot Cross Buns. Don’t be scared to try new things, you might just be surprised by your efforts.

One batch of many!

One batch of many!

Facebook isn’t all bad

My newsfeed is full to the brim with foodie pages and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know there are the facebook haters out there and post reach may not always be great but I’m a fan and here’s why. I love the connection with fellow bakers and followers. I can post a pic and within minutes someone has liked it or commented and that’s a great feeling. If I can inspire one person to get in the kitchen then I’m happy.

Baking is therapeutic

Earlier this year my Dad was very ill and I baked my way through it. I have no doubt that it’s good for the soul. During this period my Dad had a 10 hour operation and I needed to be distracted. A very good friend told me in no uncertain terms that I must not even attempt the chores like ironing, I was to do something that I loved, I must bake. And so I did, Jammie dodgers, bourbons and custard creams. Baking saved me from clock watching, my mind was occupied. I know I’m not the only one, several of my baking friends have turned to baking when they need it most. Baking is comforting, both the process and the eating!

Therapy in biscuit form

Therapy in biscuit form

You never know where a wooden spoon might lead….

I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of opportunities come up this year that would never have happened before the Baking Moose. This time last year I bought a wooden spoon to mark the start of this adventure. Since then I’ve met the lovely people behind LANKYCOW and I’ve been given the opportunity to do some work in association with them.

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So what does the next year hold for The Baking Moose?

I have no idea, but I can’t wait and I hope you’ll continue to join me in my baking adventures.

Tea and Cake with Daisy May bakery

Let me introduce you to Heather, the owner of Daisy May Bakery. Since I started The baking moose, Heather has always made me laugh with her comments on my page.

Come and find out about her background and if you’ve never made a Friand before, then I strongly urge you to try this recipe.

Choice of Tea: Sainsburys Red Label. I love a cuppa. Before I had an issue with dairy, I would stew my tea to the deepest colour and add the tiniest splash of milk. Now however, it’s black, weak and unsullied.

Choice of Cake: This is a difficult one. I love cake, ALL cake but a bad chocolate cake is unforgivable. The ones in cafes and restaurants are a poor substitute and I’d rather eat dust than a bad cake or pastry. Nigella’s Chocolate fudge cake from Nigella Bites is phenomenal and never fails to deliver; three layers smeared with black cherry jam and choc fudge buttercream! Oh what I wouldn’t do for a slice right now.

Most used kitchen utensil: My large pyrex bowl. I’ve had it forever. Purloined from my mum’s kitchen when I was a student and never repatriated. I use it for everything. Marinating meat, mixing baking, its been an improvised cake tin, pudding bowl, serving dish and everything in between.

Favourite item in the kitchen: This is tricky. Used to be my hide and slide pair of Nef ovens but we moved!All of my friends will tell you I have a serious kitchen habit. Lakeland catalogue is my drug of choice, closely followed by Berts. But my favourite pair of things in the kitchen is my Kitchenaid and Kmix. I have both unashamedly and I adore them both equally.

My Go to Baking Book: Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book. I love this book so much I have two copies. Mum and I made pretty much everything in it over the last 20 years, which fills me with warm memories. The tray bakes are sensational especially the lemon drizzle, coffee and walnut and her cheese scones. I could go on… But it would be easier for you to just buy the book!

My Baking inspiration comes from: Everyone! Initially Mum and Nan who could bake the most beautiful cakes and pastry without ever using a set of scales. But now they are no longer with me I get it from everywhere. Friends, blogs, TV, magazines, what’s in the shops or mooching around online.

My Recipe for you is:

Cherry and Almond Friands. My mum loved these and I think they are simply gorgeous and a nice change from a cupcake.

185g butter

125g ground almonds

6 egg whites, beaten lightly

240g icing sugar

75g plain sugar

100g fresh/frozen and pitted cherries

1) Mix all the ingredients together except the cherries until well combined. It doesn’t have to be smooth. Butter a 12 hole friand pan or muffin tin tray and spoon mixture in abut half way to two thirds full and top with three cherries, pushing them in slightly.

2)Pop in the oven for 25 mins at 180 degrees. Removed when cooked through and golden brown.

3) Delicious served warm with creme fraiche or cold with a lovely cup of tea.

My Turn and Verdict: This was my first try at making and eating Friands and I LOVED them. So much so that a few days after I made some black forest ones, using the recipe above but substituting the plain icing sugar for black forest flavoured icing sugar and now I can’t wait to try different flavours. They are quick and simple to make, I was easily able to make them with my trusty sidekick (mini moose) helping with the stirring. I may just have to treat myself to a Friand tin!

Cherry and Almond

Cherry and Almond

Black Forest

Black Forest

Tea and Cake with Anneliese Giggins

I met Anneliese a few years ago at pregnancy yoga (think less yoga, more chatting!) and at the time I had no idea that she was a keen baker. I learnt later that Anneliese had baked her way through every recipe from Mary Berry’s baking bible. She wrote up her experiences on her blog Rising to the Berry. Since then she has created many recipes for goodtoknow which focuses on children and family foods and created a Facebook page called Cook, Eat and Play.

She has taken up several monthly challenges, including cooking everything from scratch where she hand lovingly chopped up tomatoes rather than buy tinned ones and fed her family of 4 for £20 a week.

In February this year she not only met but cooked for Mary Berry on the Mel and Sue show.

Choice of Tea – Good old PG tips, white with no sugar please

Choice of cake – This is tricky and I am being typically greedy and choosing two! Carrot cake and chocolate mud cake, yum!

Most used kitchen utensil – My trusty handheld electric whisk, it only cost about £15 and works very hard.

Favourite item in my kitchen – I have only just discovered cake release spray, it makes life so much easier as I hate lining tins!

My go to baking book – It HAS to be Mary Berry’s baking bible!

I bake because – I love to see others enjoying something I have made for them. Baking also soothes my frazzled soul!

My baking inspiration comes from – Mary Berry! I remember being given one of her little baking books when I was very young. I loved her traditional, simple recipes and still do now.

My recipe for you to try is – All of my baking recipes are aimed at young children so how about making these Jazzy shortbread with your little moose. I hope you like them!

Our turn – I managed to make these with mini moose between dinner and bedtime. In fact the lure of making biscuits meant he ate his dinner in double quick time! They are so easy to make and mini moose love the getting his hands in and squishing the ingredients together, and then cutting out the circles and placing on the tray.

Verdict – An easy recipe, perfect to do with little helpers and the biscuits are delicious.

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Perfecting the squidge technique!

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Chia Chocolate Balls

Chia Chocolate Balls

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My friend introduced these little morsels of loveliness to me many months ago, she always has them in her house and I love opening the jar and delving in. I only recently bought the ingredients and finally made them myself. No cooking required and you can be eating them within 10 minutes.

Now I must be clear upfront, these balls of yumminess do contain some costly ingredients but if you buy in large quantities it’s better value and makes loads. I bought the Chia seeds and raw cacao powder from Amazon.

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This recipe is adapted from Susan Jane White and if you want know to more about the goodness of chia seeds then I urge you to go and have a look on her website. I’m all for things that are good for you but they have to deliver on taste and these really do.

They are perfect for when you are feeling snackish or need a quick chocolate fix. If you’re anything like me this is all the time!

Recipe – Makes 20-30 depending on size

60ml almond butter – I use meridian

40ml maple syrup

45g milled chia seeds – I don’t buy milled ones, I use a grinder attachment and whizz them up.

4tbsp ground almonds

2 tbsp cacao powder (not to be confused with cocoa powder)

2-3tbsp Dessicated coconut

1) Mix together the almond butter and maple syrup with a fork

Step 1

Step 1

2) Add all the remaining ingredients except the coconut and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon

Step 2

Step 2

3) Make into balls, think cherry sized not golf! Roll around in the coconut to coat the outside and place in a sealable container

4) Demolish

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