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Lemon marmalade Chelsea buns: GBBO week 3 - Bread week

Bread has never been my favourite thing to bake. I'm just not a patient enough person for all that kneading, and proving and waiting and making sure things are done at just the right time so they don't over-prove and collapse or under prove and remain dense.

Sure, if I had nothing to do but bake bread all day, then I 'get' that it's therapeutic kneading the dough and satisfying to make your own bread, seeing the magic of the yeast doing it's thing. But it generally doesn't fit into my busy life very well.

The only exception being sourdough - which I haven't yet mastered. But I've found it is very forgiving when left for extended periods of time and it fits into my life, rather that the other way round of me having to make my plans around it.

Sourdough didn't really lend itself well to any of this weeks bakes though. Possibly perhaps a sourdough naan bread? But I fancied making Chelsea Buns. Having made them before using my old bread maker, I knew that I could 'cheat' by making the dough in the breadmaker.

I haven't quite got to grips with my new breadmaker though. And when I say 'new' I've actually had it for 2 or 3 years but just haven't used it as much as I used to use my old one.

I tweaked the Chelsea bun recipe to make it my own so that was an added variable that I knew I was experimenting with. Leading me to wonder whether this would be my first baking fail of #GBBOBloggers2018.

But in went the ingredients and 2 hours and 20 minutes later all was looking good. 

The dough had risen brilliantly.

BUT... I'd ended up with a wet dough that was in no fit state to roll out. Because I'd used 50/50 ratio of strong white flour and stoneground wholemeal flour, I'd added extra milk and water and I guess I'd added too much as I was making it up as I went along. So I used loads more flour to help dry it out. 

To decide what flavour I would make my Chelsea Buns, I looked for inspiration in my fridge where I found a delicious lemon marmalade that granny had brought back from Italy. 

So I rolled the dough into a rectangle, brushed with melted butter, mixed together some mixed dried fruit and the lemon marmalade and spread it over the dough. I rolled the dough lengthways and used kitchen string to divide it into 12 pieces.
Into the oven at 35C proving temperature for 20 minutes covered in clingfilm and they grew to look like this.
Then they were baked at 220C for 15-20 minutes.
Then I brushed them with apricot jam mixed with a little hot water.
I was pleased that they tore apart nicely. The lemon flavour worked well but overall they tasted a bit too 'bready'. I think I could have added a lot more fruit - perhaps even soaked fruit to add more moisture. Perhaps drizzling icing on top would help with making them sweeter and more cakey? In all honesty, my sweet tooth is a lot less sweet these days so I actually quite liked them myself but I don't think they'd pass as good Chelsea Buns by anyone elses standards.

Anyhow, here's the ingredients list so I can tweak it next time to improve them:
125g strong white flour (plus loads extra for dusting as it was such a wet dough)
125g stoneground wholemeal flour
1 tsp coconut sugar
30g butter
half a teaspoon salt
1 egg
50ml milk
150ml water (I would try less water next time - perhaps 75ml to 100ml?)
1 sachet yeast (7g)

All of the above ingredients went into the bread maker to make the dough.

Then the next steps were as I've already described above. I started with 100g of the lemon marmalade, 50g of mixed dried fruit, and 15g of melted butter then added a bit more of the lemon marmalade and mixed fruit. With hindsight, I should have added even more for more sweetness and moisture.

I baked it in an 11 X 9 inch tin which was perfect to fit the 12 chelsea buns in.

Linking up with #GBBOBloggers2018 at Mummy Mishaps and Casa Costello:

Casa Costello

The Mystery Foot continues

As at 13th September 2018. Left foot smaller and with high arch. 

Left foot - high arch 'pes cavus'

Right foot. Normal size and normal arch

Fifteen months ago, Miss T's left foot started to change. In a very short space of time, it developed a high arch (pes cavus), twisted and didn't grow as the other did. Over the weeks that followed, the changes became more pronounced. She had numerous tests and scans both at Great Ormond Street Hospital and locally (x-rays, MRIs of feet and spine, nerve conduction tests, ultrasounds, more x-rays, more MRIs etc), and met with her rheumatology team, physio and podiatrist.

Yet, all this time later, no-one could explain what was going on with her 'mystery foot'. Was it a result of her juvenile arthritis (JIA), or something else? The most recent MRI showed inflammation in the bones of her foot, but suggested this may be the result of the foot being twisted, putting mechanical stress on it, and not the cause of it.

So today we got to see another specialist - this time a paediatric foot specialist. He was very thorough, very reassuring, and went through everything. We've learnt that by keeping a record of these things right here on the blog, it can help us remember and make sense of things as time goes on so this is what we have learned as a result of today...

  • Pes cavus is usually associated with a neurological cause. In around 80% of cases, the neurological cause can be found; in the remaining 20% the cause cannot be found (but may still be neurological). Working on everything he has seen, the consultant felt that at this stage a neurological issue is the most likely cause of Miss T's pes cavus.
  • Although Miss T had nerve conduction tests last year, she has not yet had a full assessment by a neurologist. So she is now being referred to one.
  • The original nerve conduction tests were normal, but some types of neurological issue do not give abnormal results - which is why Miss T needs to be seen by a neurology specialist.
  • After the neurologist is done, we will return to this consultant to have follow-ups to see if and how the foot develops over time.
So his view is that the likely cause is neurological. Seeing a neurologist will help determine if that is the case.

If it is not, then it could be down to the JIA although he said he hasn't come across this scenario of JIA causing pes cavus before. When Miss T first developed JIA, it was her left foot that was most badly affected and it took a while to get the inflammation under control. In theory, it is possible that the JIA damaged the growth plates in her left foot, which is why it is not growing properly now leading to a smaller foot and the pes cavus. 

We were previously advised that progressive casting (where the foot is stretched and set in a cast, then repeated) was an option. Today we heard that progressive casting does not usually work for a pes cavus. So, depending on how it develops and any symptoms Miss T develops (such as pain when walking), the only option to 'fix' it would be surgery. That sounds scary, but we were reassured that she doesn't need surgery at the moment.

Miss T's foot was also described again as a mystery.

So, next steps for Miss T:
  • Referral to a neurologist.
  • Return to this consultant to monitor over time.
  • If it gets worse and causes problems, consider surgery.


Living with JIA: my day (A rant! Sorry)

It's only 9.30am as I write this and once again JIA has already dominated my day. Today is not even a 'bad pain day' for Miss T . So getting up and dressed was relatively straightforward today and its just a case of remembering her routine meds. Whilst the suns still shining, I have to remember to smother her in high factor sunlotion and hope that it lasts throughout the school day. One of the side effects of her mtx injections is making her prone to sunburn.

Straight after getting Miss T to school I'm on the phone. We're still awaiting outstanding vitamin D blood test results from Great Ormond street hospital.  It took several attempts to get her core blood results a few weeks back but for some reason vitamin D results take ages.

The blood test was done on 3rd August. Still no sign of the vitamin D result. On the plus side I did get through to the person I needed to speak to straight away. I've been asked to phone back on Friday.  Initially I'd been told to ring again last week but as the results still aren't here then it's just as well I didn't.

Next it was emails trying to find out about hydrotherapy.  Miss T had been attending a local hydrotherapy pool on a weekly basis since her diagnosis of JIA 3 and a half years ago. Sadly that pool recently closed down and despite her local physio, her GOSH physio, her rheumatologist,  her local paediatric consultant and our GP all agreeing that she needs hydrotherapy, there doesn't appear to be another suitable pool to be found!!!

It's a crazy situation. I don't just mean nhs hydrotherapy,  we've been having to pay ourselves for her sessions until now and happy to keep doing so but there just aren't any suitable facilities which permit children for hydrotherapy sessions anywhere around here. It's been over a week of multiple phone calls and emails daily to try to find out if there are any other options for her.

Then it's onto next times blood tests. A phonecall to the children's ward - ive tried several times this morning and got an engaged tone. Eventually i get through only to be put through to a different number to someone who tells me to phone back again in 10 minutes. 

Time to email the community nurse to make arrangements for T's mtx injections for this Friday. A separate email next to the community nursing team secretary to order a new sharps bin as this one is getting full.

I'm conscious that we need to allow two weeks notice and I was trying to the in picking it up with the day we are there for bloods but now need to wait until I manage to get her bloods booked in before I know which date that will be.

Some happier texts to send after that making arrangements to meet up with a jia friend. So great to find someone of similar age to miss T going through the same thing. They are such great support for one another.

Household jobs to get done this morning - just the usual stuff that needs doing every day...washing up, clothes washing, putting dry clothes away. Every. Single. Day. And then it will be time to have an early lunch and get ready for work.

In between this, it's  back on the phone to get that blood test arranged. Would it really be too much to ask for them to offer to phone me when the blood results are ready or when the person who can book the blood test becomes available.

My frustration is growing that not only does Juvenile Arthritis dominate our lives directly with the impact it has on miss T's body and the medications and doctors appointments but that the inbetween times are also dominated by sorting things out.

I know that doctors, nurses, and hospital staff do their very best and are already stretched in so many ways. But So are parents of chronically ill children. 

So that was just this morning.  We also have physio exercises to fit in daily which we just didn't get a chance to do before school today. And the rest of the week includes another consultant appointment trying to get to the bottom of her mystery foot.  So evenings have been spent pulling together all her scan results, copies of reports etc to have them ready for Thursday for this new doctor to review.

I'm just feeling like an elastic band at full stretch at the moment and I know I don't have the liberty of snapping because my family need me.

Rant over!


Pear, cardamom and caramel traybake: GBBO 2018 Week 2 - cake week

I’m not that familiar with making traybakes – I haven’t worked out the ‘science’ of it – can any cake recipe be baked in a square/rectangular tin and be called a traybake? Are some types / flavours of cake better suited to being baked as a traybake? I’m clueless about it all but of the 3 GBBO challenges for cake week, the traybake seemed the most manageable for me given my track record of baking fails and disasters. 

So I decided I was going with an autumnal vibe and settled on making “An apple, salted caramel and popcorn traybake” but somehow have ended up with a “Pear, Cardamom and Caramel” traybake. 

Caramel was super easy to make and at the last moment I decided not to add salt to it so just ending up with plain caramel rather than salted caramel. I used the Salted Caramel recipe at BBC good food (but without the salt).

 Next I was going to use some of the apples I had picked, stewed and frozen from my little apple tree in the garden – but then I found I had a couple of pears lurking in the bottom of the fridge so apple became pear and just to add a bit more interest to it I ground up some cardamom seeds and added that in – about half a teaspoon.

To make ground cardamom from these green cardamom pods, I gently crushed them in a pestle and morter to remove the outer skin and then more vigorously crushed the seeds to grind them up. 

I’ve always said if heaven has a scent, it smells of cardamom! I can’t get enough of it – although I know that too much of it can end up tasting a bit overpowering and almost medicinal.
So here is the final recipe I ended up with for my Pear, cardamom and caramel traybake. 

225g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
225g caster sugar
2 large eggs
150g melted butter
2 pears
half a teaspoon ground cardamom
A sprinkle of toasted flaked almonds to add on top at the end
A drizzle of caramel sauce (see above-mentioned link to the caramel recipe I used)

1. Pre-heat oven to 140C (fan). If you don't have a fan oven then it needs 160C.
2. Grease and line your traybake tin with baking paper. I used two tins of 7.5 X 8.5 inch.
3. Mix together all of the ingredients except for the pear, flaked almonds and caramel sauce. The batter looked more of an 'oily' texture than I'm used to for cake batter - almost like the texture of choux batter. 
4. Remove the cores of the pears and dice the pear into fairly small cubes.  Add to the cake batter and this time mix in by hand. I didn't want the pear to get completely squished in the mixture but to remain as small chunks in there.
5. Divide the batter between the two tins and bake in the oven for 40 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean).
6. Leave to cool then remove from tin and drizzle with caramel sauce and sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds.  

I was curious to see if it would cut cleanly into pieces as was required on GBBO this week and thankfully on the whole I was able to get neat-ish slices. 

Having made two small traybakes rather than one large one, I took one to work and we had one at home. I don't think I've ever received such great compliments on my baking! I have to say I surprised myself at how well they turned out and how great the flavours worked together. 

After playing it safe with last weeks bake and not adding any twists or unique flavours to my Cornish Fairings last week, I felt pleased that my made up flavour combo really worked well this week! 

Delighted to be linking up with Mummy Mishaps and Casa Costello for GBBO Bloggers 2018:
Casa Costello

GBBO 2018 - Week 1 biscuit week - Cornish Fairings

I'm so thrilled that GBBO is back! It's the one time of year I really try to get back into baking and blogging again in an attempt to join in with a few of the bakes over the coming months. 

This year, week 1 was biscuit week. With the first challenge being a regional biscuit with your own signature twist. The technical was wagon wheels which I wouldn't have a clue where to start! And the show-stopper 'a biscuit selfie set in a place special to you - involving layers of biscuit to make a 3D effect' - eek - I wasn't going to try that either.

So I stuck with the first challenge of a regional biscuit. I decided to make Cornish Fairings because we loved them so much when we first came across them on holiday in Cornwall several years ago. We fell in love with Cornwall so much that we were back again the following year  - twice in fact - staying at the wonderful Sands Hotel.

As I'd never baked these before, I wasn't brave enough to give them a personal twist of my own but did think that they would be great partly dunked in dark chocolate? or perhaps with a layer of custard cream sandwiched between them, or possibly even coffee liquer cream sandwiched inside??? So although I didn't add these twists, it gave me something to think about for next time I make them.

I used the Cornish Fairings recipe from Paul Hollywood's British Baking recipe book. I haven't written the recipe here as I haven't asked permission to and don't want to infringe any copyright but I have found it online elsewhere in case you do want to see the recipe.

I stuck closely to the recipe and even though the mixture looked dry like it might not come together, I resisted the temptation to add more milk and it did hold together just fine. The only exception to following the recipe that I made was by using my trusty Kenwood chef to blitz the dry ingredients together with the butter into a mixture resembling breadcrumbs rather than to do it by hand.

I also got very 'gbbo-ocd' with ensuring that they looked uniform in size by weighing the pieces of dough. My dough weighed 490g and so that made 25 Cornish Fairings of 20g each! (well technically it was 19 point something but I rounded to 20g) Get me - doing Maths for the sake of baking!!! (I hate maths!)

I have to admit that this is my kind of biscuit baking. Apart from getting a bit precise over making them equal (which I wouldn't normally bother to do), they are a really easy biscuit to make. There's no faffing about with chilling the dough or rolling it out or cutting shapes. Just simply roll pieces of the dough into balls and place on a baking tray and 10 minutes in the oven and they're done!

They turned out slightly thicker than I expected and slightly less crunchy. I think that by either flattening the balls slightly and/or using less golden syrup should help make them more crunchy in future.

I was really please I got the cracked-top effect which apparently is from using baking powder in the recipe.

Overall I was really pleased with them and I think they'd make a fab little gift too - just imagine them in little stacks wrapped with cellophane and ribbon. 

I'd love to try them with variations in future - I love the sound of these ones with lemon and orange peel in from the Happy Foodie or how about these ones on Great British Chefs with a gorgeous cream cheese mousse sandwiched between them. 

Massive thanks to Mummy Mishaps and Casa Costello for hosting this years GBBO Bloggers Linky! I'm so happy to see this linky back. 


My family is a band - by D aged 11

I've been trying to clear some space on my phone by deleting photos when I came across these...it was a piece of homework D was set last October after starting secondary school. 

It's so beautiful and poignant that when I realised I can upload the images straight from my phone to the blog, I wanted to capture them here. 

My family is a band. 

I am the drum kit, I keep the band in time.
My mum says I help her even when everything seems lost - like keeping in time.
My sister is the flute - she creates a beautiful tune and is very sweet, gentle but also very delicate.
She has arthritis in her legs which makes everyone tune in to her - to help her. 
My brother is the electric guitar - powerful, strong, he can stand out for being so loud. However, when a gentle tune is needed, he can help to create one. 
My dad is the acoustic guitar - he creates gentle and soft sounds. He always looks after us and always finds time for us all. 
Lastly my mum. She is the singer.  Though, truthfully, her voice isn't that great, she is the main part of a band. She keeps the family going, even if her voice can be powerful enough to knock us back sometimes.

I know how to play guitar- I've been learning since I was eight. Everybody says I play really well. I don't think so.
Everybody has always said I was always the most musically talented. Maybe it was because of this that only I could hear that the band was out of time. Only I noticed that the drum skin was ripped.