Eton Mess Cheesecake

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If you’re a fan of being British it truly is a weekend to celebrate: the start of the Euro 2016 football championships with England, Wales and Northern Ireland all being represented (let’s not dwell on England’s result too much) and the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations this weekend with Trooping the Colour yesterday and The Patron’s Lunch today. It’s a weekend to feel proud of all that’s good about our country. Yesterday we were off to a barbecue with some of my husband’s friends to watch the England game. Of course I offered to make a dessert and opted for this Eton Mess cheesecake. I first found this recipe when I was looking for recipe for an Eton Mess sponge cake which I made back in April when it was the Queen’s proper birthday for our school tea party.
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Pear and white chocolate muffin loaf

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I literally made this weeks ago. I have been terrible at keeping on top of my blog posts – I blame it on my Moonwalk training taking over! Anyway, along with the Italian pear almond cake I made in my last post I also made this pear and white chocolate muffin loaf. I had originally seen it posted on Twitter and after a little bit of research I managed to find the recipe on Facebook. Pears are usually combined with dark or milk chocolate so this makes a nice alternative. The cake is lovely and moist and packed full of fruit and chocolate.
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Custard Cream Blondies

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Following on from my last post of Oreo brownies I decided to give another biscuit-based bake a go. I’d seen this recipe on the Olive magazine website for custard cream blondies and thought it looked interesting. I am currently in training for the 2016 London Moonwalk and thought these would make a good post-5 mile training walk reward.
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Cranberry and white chocolate muffins

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This week has felt like a very long week so I decided yesterday that we were in need of some sugar at work today to help sustain us all through the last day of the week. I decided on this recipe as I had some leftover cranberries that had been loitering in the fridge since before the New Year. Cranberries and white chocolate are a perfect combination as the sweetness of the chocolate balances the sourness of the cranberries. I’ve made other white chocolate and cranberry recipes before including these very popular white chocolate and cranberry cookies and the bundt I made last week. These were very popular with both mine and Mr Birdie’s work colleagues. I have to say I wasn’t overly fussed by them but everyone else loved them (with one of my work friends declaring that they would marry me because of them!)
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Cranberry bundt cake with white chocolate glaze

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So it was back to work this week after two weeks of being a lady of leisure. To help ease my colleagues and I back into work I decided cake was needed. As I had some cranberries that needed using I opted to make this cranberry bundt cake. Last year I made this glazed cranberry lemon bundt around the same time as I had some cranberries left over after Christmas. I found this recipe online and as with a lot of bundt recipes it is American so the quantities are in cups. I’ve included some conversions but if you’re in need of some more precise amounts you might find this website useful.
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Cranberry & white chocolate shortbread

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Ah the holidays. I had planned to do so much baking. Mary Berry’s seeded breadsticks. Squidgy pear and chocolate cake. Carrot cake cupcakes with pineapple cream cheese frosting. Then I was ill. And the thought of food – one of my most favourite things in the world became my least favourite thing. Even the thought of baking. It has been a sorry old week in the Little Birdie household. Only now am I beginning to feel like facing food again.

I did however manage to make these shortbread on Thursday. I was visiting my lovely friend Kathryn who is allergic to egg so needed something biscuity without any egg – shortbread was the perfect solution. I had spotted this recipe in this month’s Good Food magazine and knew I wanted to give it a go so Thursday seemed like a good time. This is a Mary Berry recipe. It’s only the second time I’ve made shortbread and I have to say it wasn’t a complete success. It was a little crumbly and didn’t quite look like the picture. My husband was horrified at the inclusion of semonlina (having honed his baking skills working in the kitchen of a National Trust property he likes to think he knows what he’s talking about!) and was insistent that only flour, butter and sugar should be used! The semonlina is used to give the shortbread a crunch.

They are however tasty and go very nicely with a cup of tea or coffee. This recipe will make 8 wedges that will keep for up to a week in an airtight container or will freeze for 2 months (defrost at room temperature).
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Strawberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake

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My Dad has been visiting this weekend. The last time I made my Dad a cheesecake it was a bit of a disaster (forever to be known as the baked rhubarb omelette incident). I’m happy to say today’s cheesecake was much more a success. This was meant to be a Ferrero Rocher cheesecake from May’s issue of Good Food magazine. Off we went to the brand new Waitrose near us (I am worried by just how excited I was in there – they have a patisserie and you get a free coffee – what more could you want?) to purchase the ingredients. After purchasing most of the ingredients we then went to the local greengrocers where we bought a huge box of strawberries for a pound. It was then decided that perhaps a strawberry cheesecake would be a better use of ingredients. After a quick trawl of the Internet I found this recipe on the Baking Mad website for a white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake.

This recipe will serve 12 and needs a 20cm or 23cm springform tin. It’s easy to make and doesn’t take too long (I managed to make it in about an hour). It does take a while to chill (minimum 4 hours – overnight is ideal) so it will need to be made in advance.
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Christmas Is Coming Part 1 – Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies

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Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat…so it must be time for some Christmas inspired recipes! This time last year I became a bit obsessed with cranberry based cookie recipes. As December is now here I felt it was time to revisit some of these recipes. These cookies are from ‘The Hummingbird Bakery’ Cake Days book. I’ve made these once before and liked the flavour combination. We enjoyed these today when we made a Starbucks pit-stop with friends on the way to a christening in Tunbridge Wells. I plan to post a few more cranberry based recipes over the next weeks so keep your eyes peeled!

I had intended to try out this recipe for macadamia and cranberry American cookies from the BBC Good Food website however when I saw the price of macadamia nuts in Tesco yesterday (£4.20 for a 250 gram bag!) I decided to think again. This is an easy recipe that you can make in one bowl – just be careful to not over bake them. I am still getting to know my oven and found they quickly went a little too brown and lost their chewiness. They would make a lovely festive gift for someone wrapped in cellophane or in a box and decorated with some festive ribbon. This recipe will make 10-12 cookies.
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White chocolate and raspberry melting cake

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This cake was meant to be an entry for a John Whaite Book Club competition (and also dessert for a gathering with some of my teacher friends) but as you will discover if you read on, it ended up in no fit state to be photographed…

There were many lessons I learnt when making this cake…
1) Always use the correct size cake tins – if it says 20cm it means 20cm! Sadly I don’t own any 20cm tins. I own 18.5cm tins and 23cm tins. I opted for the 23cm tins thinking this would be better but sadly not! I ended up with large almost flat sponges.
2) Check your self-raising flour is in date Mine was best before June which I think may have contributed towards my flat sponges.
3) If it says the ganache filling will take a long time to thicken it means it will take a long time to thicken.
4) If your judgement is telling you not to try to assemble the cake don’t do it! I thought about taking the sponges and ganache separately and assembling it when needed but stupidly thought it would be ok. It wasn’t – the ganache wasn’t thick enough and spilled out everywhere. The cake started to slip and slide around in my car and due to some unexpected breaking ended up in pieces. It was essentially a cake jigsaw puzzle that I had to arrange into something resembling a cake when I arrived at my friends house. Luckily I have some lovely friends who said it still looked delicious :-)

I wasn’t going to post this but actually it was a big hit and when it was sliced into pieces it didn’t actually look too bad (if you looked at it in a creative way!) and a blog post was requested by my friends. Sadly I only had my phone with me so the pictures of the end result aren’t great. If you are brave enough to attempt this (and not as silly as me and don’t make the same mistakes I did) you can find the recipe here on John Whaite’s Facebook page.
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