I'm very conscious that Christmas is actually now quite a while away, but I do want to share some of the lovely gifts I received - particularly as I've been able to put them to good use. The biggest theme in gifts this year seems to have been cooking, with very kind people giving me more beautiful silicone bakeware, drying racks, cookboooks, and a cupcake tower.
They've all been tried and tested, and I'm loving the additions to my cupboard. In fact, I may have to get a bigger cupboard.
These are some coffee cupcakes from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery, and a version of red velvet cupcakes... They tasted great, but I am a bit sad that I didn't find the energy to ice them - they look so much better then! Since making these, I've also been playing with my new recipe book, Rachel Allen's Easy Meals, and have made the Orange and Almond cake and Vanilla and White Chocolate baked custards. The recipes are clear and easy to follow, though I found preparation times were longer than stipulated (might be me being slow, of course!), and both worked well. I made the foolish error of allowing myself to feel rushed, and taking the cake out of the tin too soon, so it collapsed somewhat, and the syrup (which should have been condensed further) was used to stick it back together! The custards were nice - I wanted to give them a go as slightly more exciting versions of the blamanges and crème caramels that certain relatives love, and they seemed to work... but I just don't like the texture when there isn't a strong flavour to take my mind off it. I might try them again with a strong dark chocolate, and see what happens!
As I'm more often at home at the moment, I'm enjoying the ability to socialise more from here, and I'm hoping the spring will see me experimenting with new recipes (and finding more guinea pigs to share them with). The only downside to the power of baking is that I have all this cake. Is it too late to suggest that a goal for 2012 may be to develop the willpower to resist eating it all?