Me vs. Cookies

Tonight after work we will be driving to the coast to stay with some friends for the weekend and nothing says ‘Thank You For Having Us’ better than home-baked cookies.

So last night, determineCookies and Milkd not to let the previous nights muffin failure discourage me, I set about making two different batches.

One of the friends is again lactose intolerant (grrrrr) so I decided that I would make one batch that she could eat, and another that was full of butter and chocolate!

First up, Oat and Raisin cookies made with corn oil rather than butter. I began with a Rachel Allen recipe but switched the butter for the same amount of oil, added a tsp of cinnamon ( I looooove cinnamon)  and a tbsp of golden syrup to make them a bit gooier.  On a healthy(ish) whim, I also decided to change the  flour to wholemeal flour. Once I’d mixed everything together, I was a bit worried that there were too many oats and the mixture was more like flapjack than cookies. Indeed, the finished result was a little more oaty than I had expected, but delicious non the less. I deemed them a success and the man agreed.

Next,  I went with a recipe from the queen of indulgence Nigella Lawson, called Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies. I stuck to the recipe pretty rigidly, except for the chocolate chips. Nigella recommends 350 grams of dark chocolate chips. For starters that seems like a hell of a lot of chocolate chips, and secondly when I tasted the mixture (you have to!!) I decided it needed a little extra sweetness. So I went with 100g of Milk Choc Chips and 100g White Choc Chips. These looked pretty fantastic when they come of the oven, and taste great too. Nigella wasn’t kidding when she named them! The only downside is that they are a little bit cakey in texture, I think I would prefer either a bit of crunch or soft gooeyness. Still, paired with a glass of milk they are pretty divine! I asked the man his opinion, but I didn’t get an answer because he was too busy munching down his second. Think that tells me all I need to know!

Now, you must be thinking, this girl does a lot of baking and eating, but not so much sweating! Well, this morning I trotted off to the gym at 7:00 for an hour of circuits including mountain climbers, jumping pulls ups, press ups, clean and presses, burpees, dynamic lunges and much more. PHEW!! It must be time for my elevenses….

Anyone got any fantastic cookie recipes? 

Me Vs. Muffin Tops

Last night, I was overcome by an urge to bake chocolate muffins. You know the giant sort you see in cafe’s, high risers if you will.  The kind of muffin which looks like it tried to squeeze itself into a size 10 case even when it knows that it’s really a size 12. Rich, super moist and deeply chocolately.

So I began the quest for the perfect recipe, starting first with my shamefully modest collection of books, and then reluctantly heading to the internet.

Finding the perfect recipe is always a challenge for me. I love baking, and I’d go as far to say that a few disasters aside I am generally pretty good at it. My offerings are always well received and disappear quickly, and requests for birthday cakes are at an all time high. Mostly though, the reason for this is that I find a good recipe and I follow it precisely. I do not yet have the skill or knowledge to create my own successful baking recipes, or to confidently make substitutions. That’s not to say that I don’t have any gut instincts at all, it’s just that I am not yet confident in them. In part, this probably comes down to not enough testing. I tend to bake for occasions – birthdays, dinner parties, baby showers etc. Which means that the pressure is on to deliver. I do not want to risk testing out my whimsical substitutions on 20 eager guests!

I already know the answer to this problem. Bake more. Test recipes. Get creative. It’s just, that there are a few things that stand in my way…

Clue number one is in the title of this blog. If  I bake cake then I eat cake. Even if it is bad cake (case in point, last night – but we’ll get on to that.)

My question is, when you live with only one other person, if the baking turns out well, what on earth do you do with 20 delicious giant chocolate muffins?! I mean, sure, I can find a place for them EASY PEASY but then there is no place for my expanding gut in my jeans!!!   Even people at work start to get fed up if you bring in cakes every week, complaining that they are getting chubbier.

And, conversely,  if they turn out badly then that brings about a whole other problem. I can’t take bad cakes into work. I can’t even bring myself to take them round to the interfering old woman who lives across the road. I don’t like wasting food as a rule anyways, but wasting green & blacks chocolate and an hour (or more) of my time feels like sacrilege!

Anyway, I digress. Back to finding this ‘perfect chocolate muffin’ recipe.

On this occasion, my usual troubles were further complicated by a lactose intolerant friend who would be visiting the following evening. So the recipe not only had to promise towering, rich, moist muffins – but also had to contain no butter or milk.

Fortunately there are many muffin recipes out there which call for corn oil in the place of butter. During my research, someone suggested substituting the milk  for coke, which would apparently give them a light but slightly gooey texture. So that was settled. There was no pressure, no one was expecting these muffins (except me!!!) so it was the perfect time to try out something a bit different. Except, then I decided to make another change too. Worried that the coke would make the muffins too sweet, I added more cocoa powder. Well actually, I doubled it. Eeeek.

Long story short(ish) they turned out terribly. The batter was not runny enough and the finished item was bitter and tough. In the interests of learning from my mistakes, both the man and I scoffed one each anyway. WHY?!?!

I knew what I needed to do, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. So I asked the man to do my dirty work, and take them straight out to the bin. SOB. The outside bin, because well (ahem) you never know…

All I know is,  there were no winners this round.

So pretty pretty please with a chocolate chip on top, I am begging someone to send me the perfect chocolate muffin recipe!

What do you do with your leftovers – good or bad? 

Tough Mudder

Last week,  my gym buddy and fellow cake loving friend suggested we take on the ‘Tough Mudder’ challenge together in June. The event in fact falls on her birthday, a factor which would likely deter most normal folk.  Well, not her. Her motivation was simple – once we had finished the 12 mile obstacle course, we could freely eat MOUNTAINS of cake, because we would have earned it.

This theory sounded right up my street and whilst in a daze – which I part attribute to dreaming of the sugary buttery goodness of birthday cake and part attribute to being mid way through a set of burpees – my initial and somewhat flippant response between gasping for air was – sure, OK!

Arriving home from my workout,  I announced my plan to the man in my life, and even suggested he should join us. His instant reaction – no thanks.

WHY NOT I ask??!!! It will be fun! We can eat lots of guilt free cake afterwards! And after a long pause….It can’t be that bad, can it?!!

I grab the laptop,  head to http://toughmudder.co.uk/ and scan through the website whilst he sits watching me. The 12 mile distance doesn’t phase me too much, I completed a half marathon last October, with relatively little pain. But then I stumble across the ‘Obstacles.’ Fire Walker. Ice Baths. Electric Shocks. Mud Mile. Trench Warfare. I needn’t go on.

My panic is interrupted by a text message…

Gym Buddy:         “Sooooo excited about Tough Mudder now!”

Me:                          “Look on the website.”

5 minutes pass before my phone flashes up with a reply.

Gym Buddy:           “OH CRAP!”

Turns out we were both us unaware as each other about what Tough Mudder actually involved. Now, I’ve done some crazy things in my time to justify eating too many sweet treats, but for me, this is one step too far. So we, ahem,  wimped out came up with a compromise! We’re going to download all of the workouts from the website, and from now until June we’re going to train as if we are going to be participating,  but come that date in June, the only thing we’ll be doing together is eating cake.

Now that’s my kind of compromise!

Has anyone out there completed a Tough Mudder? 

The beginning

The beginning

Everything has to start somewhere, and for this blog, that is right here.

This blog will be mostly about my love of baking, and subsequently eating, cake. However, a girl still has to fit into her skinny(ish) jeans and so I will also be posting  about my efforts to counteract the effects of consuming so much cake.

That’s all for today, short and sweet…just like the ‘Trillionaire Shortbread‘ I am about to devour for my elevenses!