> The Beesley Buzz: October 2018

GBBO Week 9: Patisserie Week - My Free From Madeleines

I can't believe that GBBO 2018 is coming to an end - which means that sadly #gbbobloggers2018 is also coming to an end.

Yet I'm really pleased that I've managed to bake along every single week thus far.

When I saw that the signature challenge was madeleines I fist pumped the air because unlike last week's aebleskiver, this week I did actually own the right type of baking vessel needed for madeleines.

A few years ago I bought 2 Madeleine tins which you can read about here and I attempted madeleines a couple of times until I had succeeded in making them.

So it was very tempting to reblog that recipe for this week's bake along. But I actually wanted to get more use out of the madeleine tins as I haven't used them since then. So I decided to make a new batch of madeleines and I really wanted to see if I could create a recipe that was gluten free and refined sugar-free. I made a last minute decision to use coconut oil in place of butter too so they also happen to be dairy free.

Ingredients for madeleine batter:

2 eggs
60g coconut sugar
100g free from fairy plain flour
Three quarters of a teaspoon of baking powder
45g coconut oil (melted) plus extra for greasing the tin

Ingredients for the white chocolate:
Cocoa butter
Vanilla powder
Himalayan salt
Coconut milk
Set honey

Freeze dried raspberry pieces to sprinkle on top.

Ingredients for the 'milk' chocolate:
Cocoa butter
Vanilla powder
Himalayan salt
Coconut milk
Set honey
Cacao powder

Roasted chopped hazelnuts to sprinkle on top.

1. Whisk together the eggs and the coconut sugar until thick and a little fluffy. It is harder to tell when it is ready as the coconut sugar gives it a light brown colour. With regular caster sugar it would ordinarily turn "pale and fluffy".

2. Carefully fold in the flour and baking powder then fold in the coconut oil.

3. Knowing how important it is to chill the mixture after my previous experience of making madeleines I placed the bowl of batter in the fridge. Probably for around half an hour. I began to preheat the oven to 200C at this point.

What I had discovered before was that the madeleines worked better when the batter was placed in the madeleine tins and chilled in the freezer for a short while before cooking. However there was no room in my freezer to do this today. I was also conscious that coconut oil solidifies very quickly when chilled so I didn't want to risk the batter becoming solid. So the short time the batter had in the fridge worked fine.

It is a pretty cold day today so as I greased the madeleine tins with melted coconut oil, I noticed that the oil was solidifying. I dusted the trays with a little gluten free plain flour then gave each one a short chill in the fridge before adding the batter to them.

4. I placed approximately a teaspoon of the batter into each of the scallop shaped wells in the tins. I had enough batter for 21 madeleines. It is really important not to overfill them as they do expand and so you don't want them to overflow and lose their shape.

5. Place in the oven at 200c for 6-8 minutes. It can be tricky to see when they are done as both the flour (being a lovely wholesome free from flour from the Free From Fairy) and the coconut sugar both make this a brown-looking bake. So I used a skewer to test when done.

6. I was thrilled that I got the scallop imprint AND a bump! I cooled them on a cooling rack whilst making the chocolate.

To make the homemade chocolate:

1. In a bain marie melt 100g of cocoa butter (either use cocoa butter drops or chop a block of cocoa butter into small pieces first)

2. Once the cacao butter has melted remove from the heat and add 40g of set honey, a sprinkle of vanilla powder and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt. Mix well.

3. Add 60g of coconut milk using mainly the thick creamy part from a tin of coconut milk.

4. Divide the mixture into two. In one half add 15g of cacao powder. This will become the milk chocolate. I also found this needed a bit more coconut milk - approximately another 40g added to it.

5. As it was a cold day I found my chocolate was quickly solidifying before I had dipped my madeleines. If this happens, it can be easily re-melted using a bain-marie.

6. I dipped the madeleines in the chocolate - some in the milk chocolate and some in the white chocolate and sprinkled with roasted chopped hazelnuts and free-dried raspberries respectively. Then placed them on baking paper for the chocolate to set. 

I had lots of spare chocolate left so poured it into little plastic moulds to make some chocolate 'bars'.

I'm used to eating bakes made with alternative flours and alternatives to sugar so to me they tasted great. But the kids said they would prefer normal madeleines. They did taste a teeny bit 'dry' so would be perfect with a jam, coulis or curd to eat with them for added moisture. Or if you're not too worried about sugar content then a drizzle made with icing sugar in place of the chocolate would probably add more moisture to them.

Overall I was thrilled with how they turned out because I had no idea if this recipe would work as I made it up as I went along!

Linking up with Mummy Mishaps and Casa Costello for #GBBObloggers2018 and #GBBOBakeoftheweek:

Mummy Mishaps

Word of the Week: Received

I’ve really been looking forward to word of the week this week – I found myself pondering at various points through the week which word I would choose. It’s not as easy as it sounds – a sentence is easier, perhaps even a couple of words but to pick a single word to best summarise the whole week is actually quite tricky. But I guess that is kind of the point.

So I’ve chosen the word ‘Received’ as it reflects a few things that have happened this week:

I'd received a message from the young person who has set up the Kidzathritis instagram page wanting to feature Miss T's story. Of course we said yes as it is so great to connect with others who share our same drive for raising awareness that children can suffer from arthritis too. You can see the post featuring Miss T and read a bit of her story here.

I’ve received several parcels for orders – I’m trying CBD oil to see if it helps my back pain and I received that in the post this week as well as herbal meds put together by my herbalist to help my thyroid as recent blood test showed up showing hypothyroidism but I don’t want to go onto conventional meds for it.

I also received my latest order of Gluten-free flour from The Free From Fairy. A lot of my cooking and baking is Gluten-free as this is my favourite gluten-free flour to use as it is a really wholesome mix of flours and saves me from having to have a cupboard full of different flours to mix my own flours together. The only time I’m really reluctant to bake with gluten-free flour is when it is bake off season.

Because I’m not a very confident baker I tend to stick to conventional more traditional recipes when I’m attempting GBBO inspired bakes. So lately I’ve been baking with regular flour – I will be glad to get back to a bit more gluten-free baking now my latest order of GF flour has arrived.

I also received my second book review on Amazon – another lovely positive one so that made my day! My book has now raised over £100 for Juvenile Arthritis Research so I am really pleased about that. Just as importantly everyone who has heard about it or bought a copy will also now have an awareness that children can get arthritis too – and that awareness aspect is also so important which I talked about in Word of the Week last week.

I also received an invite to the Banging Bloggers Lunch at Three Little Birds in Clapham. More about that coming soon! 

So that's my word that sums up my week the best: Received. I'm looking forward to popping over to Raisie Bay and see what everyone else's word is this week:


The Godiva Masterpiece Banquet

These are the last few photos on my phone from September 2017 that I wanted to get onto the blog.

I'd won tickets to the Godiva Masterpiece Banquet which was to be held at a secret location in London. They would only reveal the location on the day of the booking via a text at 3pm.

For me, not living in London, this was slightly trickier to plan as I like to know my exact route and location before I set off. However I have to confess that it did add to the excitement.

We were asked to wear black, white and with a hint of gold. I wore my black dress with gold sandals and a gold scarf.

No-one knew quite what to expect- we'd been told to expect the unexpected.

Me and one of my besties headed to London. We entered into a room that looked like an art studio or art gallery with huge picture frames and "living" pictures inside them. 

We were then seated at long tables alongside other diners.
The evening was themed around "the shapes, tastes and stories behind the new Godiva Masterpieces collection; the Heart, the Shell and the Lion.
For the first course the room took on a red colour and it was themed around the Heart. 

The next course consisted of beautifully presented seafood inspired by the "Shell" and the room was transformed to look blue and underwater-like.

Then there was desert themed like the "Lion" - I had taken more photos but have since deleted them as they were too blurry with the dimmed lighting. 

It was definitely a fun immersive experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. Well done to Godiva and Gingerline events for putting this event together.

Diggerland - another post from September 2017

Another post with photos from last year to clear some space on my phone...

Although I love to regularly enter competitions, Richard is less likely to do so. So when he has a win it feels very special.

Last year he won a family ticket to Diggerland via the Burnished Chaos blog. The ticket could be used at any of the Diggerland locations so we headed to Diggerland Kent one September day.

We had visited previously when the boys were younger but this was Miss T's first visit.

I think it is fair to say that nowadays most people have heard of Diggerland - a theme park where the rides are REAL DIGGERS! It's certainly a unique concept and we've been impressed each time we have visited.
We got there nice and early ready for opening time to beat the crowds.
One of the great things about Diggerland is that it doesn't seem to have the massive queues that so many other theme parks struggle with. That is definitely a bonus knowing that queuing times are relatively short. In fact we were there early enough that for the first couple of rides we went on there were no queues at all!

It was such a fantastic day out that we all enjoyed!

Word of the Week: Audience

Image from Di Coke's Superlucky blog. I've been featured in a Q&A with Di this week!

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster of a week this week – but definitely for all the right reasons.

After what feels like forever I finally got around to finishing the book I’d been working on in little snippets of time here and there for the best part of 2 years (within that time there were whole chunks of time – the longest being around 6 months - that it didn’t even get looked at but I was conscious it was there, unfinished and waiting) so it felt good to finally get it on Amazon and ‘out there’.

It is a book about what has become my main hobby in recent years; entering competitions or ‘comping’ as it is often referred to. And whilst on the face of it, it may seem a happy light topic, the book is written within the context of certain struggles in my life too.

If I’m perfectly honest, I didn’t expect too many people to be interested in it. After all it is a relatively niche hobby amongst the general population (although in the online world I think there is a lot more awareness and involvement in comping) and to make it even more niche, it is based on my own experiences of comping, and only over a 3 year period of my life.

However, when I’ve met people who I’ve told about my hobby, many of them do take an interest in wanting to know more – so I knew it would be of interest to at least a few people. But I’ve been blown away by the kindness, comments and encouragements I’ve heard from so many people. Including my first amazon review!!

What has made a huge difference is the support of the wonderful Di Coke. Known well in the comping and blogging world, Di loves to tell others about this hobby and helps promoters run successful and engaging competitions. Di kindly wrote the foreword for my book – which was a real honour – to me she is like comping royalty so it was amazing to be able to include a foreword from such an expert in the topic.

This week Di posted a Q&A with me about my book as part of her ‘Meet the Compers’ series. That again has been incredible. Di has a huge following on social media and is so widely thought of as the go-to person when it comes to all things comping related.

Ordinarily I dislike being the centre of attention. I don't like big parties. I'm an introvert in my day-to-day life and I even think of myself as a blogging introvert as I don't like to publicise my own blog or blogposts very much. I blog for myself because I want a record of family life and memories to look back on but I'm genuinely not worried about whether a post gets one view or one thousand views.

But when it comes to sharing an important message that I care deeply about - relating to Juvenile Arthritis - then it does matter how many people that message gets out to.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Perceptions and awareness haven't changed in the past 30 years about Juvenile Arthritis. Miss T gets the same response that I did all those years ago...'I thought only old people got arthritis' and the notion that it is just a few aches and pains rather than the cruel and debilitating disease that can rob children of their ability to walk and sometimes even cause blindness with uveitis affecting their eyes - if left untreated.

I owe massive thanks to the hugely talented Neill who blogs at Gary Wasabi's Golden Luck Muscle, and who very exceedingly kindly put in many hours to edit my book. He had the wisdom to take the information I'd written about Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and stuck at the very back of the book and bring it to the front of the book. So even if you want to have a peek at the sample version which Amazon allows you to download for free, you'll understand a little about JIA and my motivation for writing the book. (With proceeds going to the Juvenile Arthritis Project, if anyone did want to buy a copy of Overcoming the Odds it can be found on Amazon here. It is available as paperback and on Kindle.)

I told you I was a blogging introvert - anyone else would have put call to action to buy the book and been shouting it from the rooftops right at the top of the blogpost. As for me, I add it inside brackets!!!

But thanks to the Q&A Di published it has meant that my book, and therefore the message about JIA has reached a far bigger audience - and I'm so grateful for that.

Reaching a bigger audience means greater awareness, greater awareness will lead to quicker diagnosis and treatment, and early treatment is so important for getting better long-term outcomes for children with JIA to prevent joint-damage and needing joint replacements later on as I needed with my hip replacement due to the irreversible JIA damage that had been caused when I was a child. 

So I've chosen my word of the week to be: Audience

Linking up with Word of the Week at its new home on Raisie Bay:


Autumn flowers

More photos from September 2017 in an attempt to clear space from my phone. These photos were taken when we visited Sissinghurst place last year.