Chocolate Chip Cookies

| Recipe

read more
This week I did a Snapchat tutorial for these Chocolate Chip Cookies and I got such a great response, lots of followers made the cookies and sent me photos of their creations. But the worst thing about Snapchat of course is that it disappears in 24 hours (I should maybe look at trying Facebook Live for tutorials) and I’ve had so many requests for the recipe from people who missed it so here it is! This is a very straightforward recipe that we use for the café and a great one to make with the kids.

Preheat your oven to 175C and have ready a non-stick oven tray or a tray lined with parchment paper.

150g soft butter – it must be room temperature and please use real butter, not margarine
125g soft light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
a drop of vanilla extract
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
300g plain white flour
1/4 teaspoon bread soda
Lots of chocolate chips – at least 100g (or alternatives – see below*)

You can use a food mixer or mix by hand if you have strong arms! In a bowl mix together the soft butter and the sugars until well blended. Add in the vanilla and the eggs and mix again until the eggs are absorbed into the mix.
Add the flour and bread soda and mix until the flour is just incorporated. You don’t want to overmix at this stage as the cookies will be tough. I sometimes stop the mixer just before the last of the flour disappears and finish the mixing by hand. Then add in copious amounts of chocolate chips and mix together.

*I prefer to use dark chocolate chips, but you can use milk or white chocolate, chop up a chocolate bar if you don’t have chips, You can also add nuts such as peanuts, macadamia, pecans, whatever takes your fancy. Another favourite with the kids is to use smarties or M&M’s instead of the chocolate chips. 

Take a potato/ice cream scoop and scoop mounds of cookie dough onto the oven tray. Leave plenty of space between the cookies to allow expansion and no matter how tempting it is, DO NOT FLATTEN THE DOUGH MOUNDS!!
Add some extra chocolate chips on top of the cookies (or whatever filling you are using) and place them in the centre of the pre-heated oven baking for 15 minutes. The cookies will spread and rise in the oven, but when you take them out after the cooking time the dough will still be soft and the cookies will deflate somewhat. This is normal. Leave them on the tray for about 5 minutes and then carefully transfer to a cooling rack with a spatula or fish slice (something wide and flat!) As the cookies cool they will crisp on the outside but will remain soft and chewy in the centre.

These are at their most delicious eaten whist still slightly warm but they will keep for several days in an airtight tin or jar – but don’t store them until they are completely cold first.

If you bake them, let me know! I hope you enjoy them x

1 Comment

Laois Business Awards 2017

| Business

Read More

The inaugural Laois Business Awards were held in the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel on 28th April. I couldn’t attend because it was the night before my wedding and I was a little busy!!

I heard it was a great night celebrating fantastic Laois businesses and of course I would have loved to have been part of it. I was delighted to win the e-commerce award – that really added to the wedding celebrations! – and thankfully Cian from Ortus Technology (who my brother Ryan works for) collected my award on my behalf.

The striking trophy was designed by Alan Meredith of Alan Meredith Studio. The trophy is sculpted from an apple tree grown at Emo Court, which is extra special to me as my Grandad is from Emo. I had got to know Alan through the IBYE competition earlier this year so it’s really nice that I now have a piece of his work.

I’d like to thank Laois County Council, Laois Local Enterprise Office, AIB Bank and Laois Nationalist for selecting me as a winner. I know there was stiff competition and everyone nominated is a winner in my eyes. Congratulations to all the other winners and nominees. It’s great to see that business is thriving in Laois.

Save

Save

0 comments

Your wedding cake – your choice!

| Weddings

read more

Your wedding cake is a focal point at your reception, on view the moment your guests enter the reception room. Family and friends look forward to the point after the meal where you cut the cake together, symbolising your union.  The wedding photographer’s favourite image (although truthfully this photo is usually taken before the guests are in the room!) it is none-the-less the classic wedding moment, the traditional cutting of the cake photo that friends and family love to capture. So what should you consider when you are choosing your wedding cake?

 

Meet your cake designer
Firstly there are many options when it comes to wedding cakes. You can have one cake, several cakes, dessert table, cupcake towers, a cake made of cheese wheels – anything goes! But the as a newly engaged couple don’t have to worry about that just yet. The most important thing is that once the date of the wedding and the venue have been confirmed, that is the time to approach your preferred cake maker to see if there is availablilty on that date. As you will quickly realise photographers, bands, hairdressers, etc. can be booked months, if not years, in advance, especially in the summer months or bank holiday weekends so get in there and secure your date! Make an appointment for a consultation. Feel free to bring along pictures of cakes you like, fabric samples, colours and inspirations for your wedding. Ideas and flavours can be discussed but the final decision on the style and decoration doesn’t actually have to be fully decided until several months prior to the wedding, so there is no pressure to know exactly what cake you want a year before you are married!

Size matters
Obviously the number of guests you have will have a bearing on the size of the cake required but also consider the size of the room that your reception is in. A small cake will look completely lost in a large ballroom but a small soft-iced cake can look completely charming in a country house setting.  For very large weddings extra cutting cakes can be supplied for the kitchen, saving on the cost of extra decorated tiers on the cake.

 

Find your style
Look at the style of your venue. Is it a contemporary hotel, a country house, a converted barn? Choose a style of cake that suits the setting as well as your wedding theme.  Some venues suit sharp tall fondant covered cakes and others will suit rustic ‘naked’ cakes (cakes with no outer icing). Are there any distingushing features in the room that can be incorporated into the cake design?

Let’s talk money
Budget-wise, a fondant iced cake will be more expensive than a soft buttercream iced cake. Biscuit cake or fruit cake will be more expensive than madeira sponge cakes. However, biscuit or fruit cake will ‘go further’ than sponge cakes as they are richer and can be cut into smaller portions. Fruit cake is not as popular as it was some years ago and most of our couples opt for a bottom tier of chocolate biscuit and then the other tiers of various flavoured sponge cakes.

Sugar flowers, intricate icing designs and novelty shapes will add to the price as the time and skill it takes to make these has to be factored in to the cost. Fresh flowers can be used and are often a cheaper option than sugar flowers. We work with your florist so that the flowers match your bouquet or room flowers.

The distance the cake maker has to travel to the venue (& back!) and the time required to set up the cake table will also be included in the cake cost, however I would never recommend that you collect and set the cake up yourself. You definitely don’t want that added stress on your wedding day. A cake can be too easily damaged in transit and we have experience in handling delicate cakes and always carry supplies and spares in case of repair emergencies!

Cutting the cake
It’s often overlooked but please discuss with your wedding co-ordinator how you wish the cake to be handled after the cutting ceremony. Too often cakes are completely cut up and given out late in the evening, only for half the cake to end up uneaten in black bin bags!  You have paid a lot of money for that cake so you should get the most out of it. You can request that only half of each tier be portioned, or only specific tiers. You may be too busy on the wedding day to even get a taste of cake to it’s nice to to keep a piece of each tier to have for the following day or maybe keep a top tier to wrap and freeze for their first anniversary or a christening (please ask your cake maker if and how the cake can be preserved) Make sure you leave instructions on what is to be done with any toppers or flowers decorating the cake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save

0 comments

Lemon & Raspberry Layer Cake

| IrelandAM, Recipe

read more

I demonstrated this recipe on IrelandAm on Friday 7th April

This cake is good at any time but to make it a perfect Easter cake I decorated it with buttercream swirls – we call them rose ruffles – and added some fondant bunny ears.

Alternatively, you could top it with some mini chocolate eggs or chocolate bunnies, or leave it as it is and let the pretty ruffles steal the show!

 

Ingredients

360g self raising flour
360g caster sugar
360g room temperature butter


6 eggs
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 punnet fresh raspberries
Raspberry jam for filling

Buttercream Icing
800g icing sugar
400g soft butter
Vanilla extract
Food colouring (optional)

Method

  • Preheat oven to 175C
  • Grease and line 3 x 8” sandwich tins
  • In a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer and bowl, mix the flour, sugar, butter and eggs at medium speed until well combined.
  • Add the lemon zest and mix through. Gently fold the raspberries into the mix by hand.
  • Divide the mix between the three 8″ tins and bake for approximately 25 minutes until well risen and browned.
  • When slightly cooled, remove from the tins to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the buttercream, place the icing sugar, room temperature butter and a drop of vanilla extract into the mixer and starting at a low speed mix until combined and then slowly increase the speed and whip for 4-5 mins to create a soft creamy buttercream. Add colouring if required and mix well.

To assemble the cake, trim the top of the layers if necessary. Place the first layer on your serving plate and spread on an even layer of jam followed by a layer of buttercream. Top with the next sponge layer and repeat, placing the top layer of sponge upside down to give a flat top.

Once the cake is filled lightly coat the outside of the sponge with a thin layer of icing (crumbcoating) to seal in any loose crumbs. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up and make it easier to finish with the final layer of icing.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle (a 1M nozzle is good) with the rest of the icing and starting from the bottom of the cake pipe large swirls in rows all over the cake.

Save

6 Comments

12 baking tips for better cakes

| Bakery Life

Read More

Baking can be a case of trial and error. I’ve had many a baking disaster in my time. With practice you will get better and here are a few basic tips and tricks to help you along.

 

 

 

 

  1. Preheat the oven. Before you start baking check the recipe for the correct oven temperature and turn on your oven.
  2. Use room temperature ingredients. Leave out eggs and butter at least 1/2 hour before starting to bake to allow them to come to room temperature. Your ingredients will combine so much easier when they are all at the same temperature.
  3. Check that baking powder is in date and still active. A simple thing to overlook, stale baking powder won’t raise your cake! You can check the freshness by mixing a teaspoon of baking powder in a couple of tablespoons of water. If it fizzes up it should be OK. Be very careful measuring baking powder – too much and the cake will rise up and fall!
  4. Use the best ingredients for the best flavour. Use real butter and free range eggs. Vanilla extract is better than vanilla essence.
  5. Use correct measuring tools. So many recipes go wrong because the ingredients haven’t been measured or weighed properly. Buy a set of measuring spoons and a kitchen scales for exact measuring. Guessing by using a spoon from your cutlery drawer is not a good idea.
  6. Line the cake tin correctly. There’s nothing as frustrating as a beautifully baked cake that won’t come out of the tin, or leaves half the cake behind when you turn it out. Use greaseproof or parchment paper to line the tin, or brush melted butter all over the inside of the tin and sprinkle in some sifted flour tapping the tin to cover all the butter and coat the tin, then tip out the excess.
  7. Use the correct size tin for the recipe. Recipes have been carefully tested so use the exact tin required. Using a smaller tin will result in a deeper cake that will need longer baking, perhaps at a lower temperature. A larger tin will result in a shallower cake that will bake more quickly and could dry out.
  8. Put the mixed cake into the oven immediately. Leaving the mixed cake to sit while waiting for the oven to heat, or putting the cake into a cold oven will affect the raising ingredients in the cake.
  9. Do not open the oven door while the cake is baking! Opening the door before the cake is set may cause the cake to collapse as the rush of cold air rapidly reduces the oven temperature.
  10. To test if the cake is baked see if the cake has come away from the sides of the tin and feels firm and should spring back when you press lightly on top. It should be an even golden brown on top. You can test the inside with a thin skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Please don’t stab the cake with a knife!
  11. If you want to decorate a cake for a special occasion bake the day before. Cool, then wrap in clingfilm leaving it at room temperature to rest. This will firm up the sponge so it won’t fall apart when it comes to filling and decorating. You can brush the cake layers with sugar syrup for extra moistness before decorating. (sugar syrup: place equal quantities of water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar. Add a few drops of vanilla. Leave to cool and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.)
  12. Finally, do not store a sponge cake in the fridge – unless it is a fresh cream cake. A fridge will make the cake stale quicker (the same happens to bread). Store in an airtight container at room temperature and it will be fine for 2-3 days.

 

Save

Save

0 comments