A Craft in the Life: Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight is definitely one of all time favourite sweets! The deliciously soft, blush pink rosy squares coated in powdery icing sugar and cornflour, always reminds me of family holidays abroad and Christmases at home. I have wanted to make my own for a very long time, and after being inspired by the latest episode of Sweets Made Simple I decided to give it ago 🙂

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Turkish Delight

You will need:

Sunflower Oil for Greasing

3 oz /90g Cornflour (Plus 2 Tbsps for coating)

2 Tbsps Icing Sugar

1lb 6 oz /750g Caster Sugar

1 Tsp Cream of Tartar

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

1 Tsp Rose Water

Pink Gel Food Colouring

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Let’s get started!

  • Grease a 17cm x 17cm tin with sunflower oil and line with cling film (Make sure to also lightly grease the top of the clingfilm too).
  • Mix together 2 tbsps of cornflour and icing sugar in a small bowl. Sift a few tbsps over the greased clingfilm to coat and return the excess to the bowl.

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  • Combine the caster sugar, lemon juice and half the cream of tartar in a medium sized heavy based saucepan and add 350ml water.
  • Over a medium heat, dissolve the sugar then bring to the boil. Insert a sugar thermometer into the sugar syrup, and heat gently until it reads 125ºC/257ºF.

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  • Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  • In another medium sized heavy based saucepan, combine the cornflour, remaining cream of tartar and 400ml water.
  • Whisk together until smooth then bring to the boil until the mixture thickens rapidly turning into a thick, white paste.

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  • Simmer for 15 seconds then carefully pour one quarter of the hot syrup into the pan while whisking constantly.
  • Add the remaining hot syrup in three batches, whisking continuously to prevent it sticking on the bottom of the pan and to ensure the mixture is smooth and lump free.

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  • Bring back to the boil and cook gently over a low heat for around 30 minutes, stirring continuously, until thick and glossy.
  • Take the pan off the heat, pour into a large mixing bowl before adding a dash of pink food colouring and the rose water.

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  • Beat until smooth then pour into the prepared tin, ensuring it is spread level.
  • Allow to cool completely, before covering with clingfilm and chilling overnight in the fridge.
  • Tip the saved cornflour/icing sugar mixture onto a large baking tray, then turn out the set Turkish delight and carefully remove the clingfilm off the bottom.
  • Using a lightly greased knife cut into squares, dusting each piece in cornflour/icing sugar mix as you go.
  • You are all done 🙂

I decided to only make pastel pink rose flavoured Turkish Delight, as this was my first attempt! Although it did take a while I was surprised at how relatively easy it was to make. The most difficult parts were simultaneously pouring the hot syrup and whisking, and then continuously stirring for 30 minutes. However, it is completely worth it for the soft, smooth jelly texture of the final sweet.

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As well as flavouring the Turkish Delight lemon instead of rose, you can also add pistachios/almonds for an interesting combination of smooth/sweet and crunchy/savoury. The final dusted pieces can be kept for up to 10 days between grease proof paper in an air tight container. You can leave the pieces plain or you could coat each piece partly or completely in melted chocolate. If you are as much of a lover of Turkish Delight as I am, definitely try out this recipe!

A Craft in the Life…

A Craft in the Life: Coconut and Courgette Soup

Over the last few weeks me and my mum have brought back several varieties of courgettes from volunteering at Cogges Manor Farm in Witney. The walled garden is currently packed full of courgette and marrow plants, covering the plots with their large green leaves, bright orange flowers with green and yellow courgettes hanging off twisted vines. In order to use up all the courgettes we now have in the fridge, I decided to make a large batch of Coconut and Courgette Soup. This soup is one my family’s favourites, as the combination of soft courgette and sweet coconut milk gives a refreshing and very moreish flavour 🙂

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Coconut and Courgette Soup

You will need:

2.2lb /1kg Courgettes (Around 8) or Marrows

Salt

1 Large Onion, Chopped (Either white or Red)

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tsp Grated Fresh Ginger

2 Garlic Cloves, Crushed

2 Tbsps Chopped Basil and Mint

1L /35 fl oz Vegetable Stock

250ml /8½ fl oz Coconut Milk

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Let’s get started!

  • Peel, de seed and chop the courgettes/marrows into 2cm chunks.
  • Put them into a colander, sprinkle with salt and let them drain for 30 minutes to get rid of the excess water, then pat them dry with a tea towel/kitchen paper.

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  • In a large stock/soup pot, fry the onion gently in oil until softened.
  • Add the ginger and garlic, along with the salted courgettes, basil and mint.
  • Pour over half the stock and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

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  • Once the courgettes are soft, remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Blend in a food processor and return to the pot with the rest of the stock and coconut milk, then simmer for 5 minutes.

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  • Season to taste then serve topped with extra chopped basil/mint.
  • You are all done 🙂

This Coconut and Courgette Soup definitely works well as a summer soup, due to it’s light, refreshing flavour and bright green colour. The recipe makes a large batch of soup which you can store in the fridge for 2-3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Make sure to test the soup before you add any final seasoning, as salting the courgettes before cooking can be enough salt. I love the addition of the coconut milk in this soup, as it gives a delicious creamy taste which is really complemented by the mint and basil. Definitely try it out 🙂

A Craft in the Life…

A Bake in the Life: Chocolate Marbled Cheesecake Muffins

Cake tends not to last very long in my house, so I am always looking out for quick and delicious recipes that are easy to eat or pack for lunches at work. This basic chocolate muffin recipe is one of my favourites and muffins are the perfect portable cake! The addition of bicarbonate of soda gives them a light texture, and the simple recipe means you can adapt the muffins according to your own tastes 🙂 I chose to combine the original chocolate muffin with a cream cheese marbled filing along with white chocolate chips to create these Chocolate Marbled Cheesecake Muffins.

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Chocolate Marbled Cheesecake Muffins

You will need:

9 oz/255g Self Raising Flour

½ Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

½ Tsp Salt

5 oz/ 150g Caster Sugar

3 Tbsps Cocoa Powder

1 Egg

8 fl oz/ 240ml Milk

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

3 fl oz/ 90ml Vegetable Oil

3 oz/85g White Chocolate Chips

4 oz/110g Cream Cheese

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Let’s get started!

  • Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 5/190ºC/375ºF and line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases.
  • Begin by combining cream cheese and 3 tbsps of caster sugar together in a bowl, set aside.

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  • In a large bowl sift together flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, sugar and cocoa powder, add the chocolate chips.

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  • Beat together the egg, milk, vegetable and vanilla in a measuring jug.
  • Pour all the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until combined.

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  • Fill up each muffin case about half full with batter, drop about a teaspoon of the cream cheese/caster sugar filling on top and then finish with the remaining chocolate batter.

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  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen and the tops spring back to the touch.
  • Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
  • You are all done! 🙂August 2014 056

I’m really pleased with how these muffins turned out! The light chocolate is complemented well with the soft cream cheese and sweet white chocolate. When you break open the muffin, the beautiful marbled layers become visible as do the chocolate chips. While the bicarbonate keeps the muffins light and airy, the cream cheese ensures they stay moist and moreish. If you like you could top them with a matching cream cheese frosting, however this could be a little messy so you could always just use a light dusting of icing sugar 🙂

A Bake in the Life…

A Bake in the Life: Chocolate Orange Swiss Roll

After watching the first episode in the new series of the Great British Bake Off, I was inspired to make my own version of a Swiss Roll! I decided to use a basic chocolate swiss roll recipe from Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book and adapt it with the addition of orange. Using 4 eggs gives the chocolate sponge a really light texture, and the filling can be changed depending on your favourite flavours or on what ever you have in the cupboard. I decided on using orange extract for a good flavour, mandarin oranges for sweetness and candied peel for decoration 🙂

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Chocolate Orange Swiss Roll

You will need:

4 Eggs

4 oz/100g Caster Sugar

2½ oz/65g Self Raising Flour

1½ oz/40g Cocoa Powder

2 Tbsp Orange Marmalade

10 fl oz/300ml Double Cream

1 Tsp Orange Extract

1 Tin Mandarin Orange

A few pieces of candied orange peel and icing sugar to decorate

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Let’s get started!

  • Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 7/220ºC/425ºF, grease and line a 13 x 9 in (33 x 23 cm) swiss roll tin with grease proof/baking paper.
  • Whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until light and frothy.

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  • Sift the flour and cocoa into the mixture and carefully fold until fully combined.

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  • Turn the mixture out into the prepared tin, ensuring it’s level before baking for about 10 minutes until the sponge springs back when touched.

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  • While the cake is cooking, place a piece of non-stick baking paper a little bigger than the size of the tin on the work surface and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Turn the cake onto the sugared paper and peel the paper off the bottom of the cake.
  • Roll the cake firmly from one end, with the paper inside and leave to cool.

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  • While the cake is cooling, warm the marmalade gently to make it easier to spread, drain the mandarins and pat dry on kitchen paper.
  • Whip the double cream until light and fluffy, then add the orange extract.

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  • Carefully unroll the cooled cake, remove the paper and spread with the warmed marmalade and whipped cream.

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  • Lay the mandarins over the whipped cream, then gently re roll in the paper and leave to set in the fridge for an hour.

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  • When ready to serve remove from the paper, sieve over some icing sugar and top with a few pieces of candied orange peel.
  • You are all done 🙂

I really like how the slightly bitter flavour of the cocoa powder and marmalade is well balanced with the sweet orange cream and juicy mandarins. I decided to top the finished swiss roll with a dusting of icing sugar and thin pieces of candied orange peel. It is easy to change this recipe to suit your own tastes, whether that’s a vanilla sponge instead of chocolate, raspberries instead of mandarins or jam over marmalade!

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Rolling the swiss roll is definitely the most difficult part, as if you let the sponge cool too much before rolling it into shape it may not hold it’s roll or it may crack. Roll slowly, while the sponge is still warm and with the grease proof paper underneath to ensure a good shape, and make sure the roll is fully cooled before adding the filling. I also found that chilling the swiss roll after filling it helps it to hold it’s shape! If you do have problems just sieve over some icing sugar to hide the cracks or cover with some buttercream icing – nobody will mind as long as it tastes delicious (Unless it’s Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood of course!) 🙂

A Bake in the Life…

A Day in the Life: Osterley Park and House, Jersey Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, UK

As my family have been members of the National Trust for a number of years it can be quite a challenge to find somewhere new to visit that is reasonably nearby so we aren’t travelling for hours to get there! Although London isn’t actually that far away from my house in Oxfordshire I haven’t had the chance to visit many of the National Trust properties in the surrounding areas. So with an empty Sunday looming we decided to travel slightly further than usual to visit the beautiful Georgian country estate of Osterley, in west London.

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Osterley Park and House

In order to reach Osterley we traveled by car along the A40 and then M40 towards London, heading onto Jersey Road in Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4RB. From my house it took around an hour and a half before we reached the long winding drive up to the estate. Parking is free for National Trust members (£4 for non members), and looks out over the beautiful surrounding parkland which is open for visitors to explore all year round.

Osterley began life as a red brick Tutor house, built in 1576 for the banker Sir Thomas Gresham, who entertained Queen Elizabeth I there at least twice. The nearby stable block was also built during this time, and can still be found on the Osterley estate as a visitor cafe. In 1712, the wealthy goldsmith, banker and property developer Sir Francis Child I (1642-1714) (Owner of the Child & Co bank, who later became Mayor of London and a Member of Parliament) acquired the house but unfortunately never lived in it. Child & Co banking premises were originally based at 1 Fleet Street next to the gateway, known as Temple Bar, and depicted in a fascinating painting hanging in the long hallway. The bank’s premises, now part of Royal Bank of Scotland, are still there today.

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When Sir Francis Child II died (1684-1740) the renovation work at Osterley was taken on by his brother and heir, Robert Child (1674-1721). Alongside his younger brothers Francis Child III (1735-63) and Samual Child (1693-1752), Robert continued the family’s banking firm and acquired many of the lacquar and japanned items of furniture found in the house today through his participation in the East India trade. In 1761, Francis Child III employed one of the most fashionable architects in England, Robert Adam (1728-92), to transform Osterley into what Horace Walpole (1717-97) would later describe as the ‘palace of palaces’. Adam soon began redesigning Osterley into a breathtaking retreat from nearby London in which the Child family could entertain and impress their guests. Once his designs and exterior work were complete Adam set about transforming Osterley’s ground floor rooms into ‘show rooms’ which truly encapsulated the family’s wealth, from intricate metal door knobs to detailed hand painted ceilings. Today the house is as it would have looked in the 1780’s, including an opulent domed state bed which Adam designed himself.

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In 1782 unbeknown to Robert Child and Sarah Jodrell their only beloved daughter, Sarah Anne Child (1764-93) eloped with John Fane (10th Earl of Westmorland) to Gretna Green. Her parents were less than pleased with the match, as they had hoped Sarah Anne would marry a commoner who might take on the Child family name. When Robert Child died two months later (some say of a broken heart), his modified will wrote Sarah Anne and the Westmorlands out of the Child fortune and placed all his belongings, including Osterley, in trust to his future first granddaughter, Lady Sarah Sophia Fane (1785-1867). In 1804 Lady Sarah Sophia Fane, know also by Regency society as ‘Queen Sarah’, married George-Villiers (5th Earl of Jersey), and so Osterley passed into the Jersey family. Her new husband’s mother was Frances Villiers (Countess of Jersey, also known as Lady Jersey), one of the more notorious mistresses of King George IV, when he was Prince of Wales.

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The Jersey family continued to use Osterley regularly for entertaining, except between 1870 and 1883, when the house was leased to the Dowager Duchess of Cleveland. However in 1923, George Francis Child Villiers (9th Earl of Jersey) (1910-98) inherited the Osterley estate and deciding not to live there, opened it up to the public in 1939. During World War II it was used as a school for the Home Guard and in 1947 served as a convalescence home for injured airmen. In 1949, Osterley was acquired by the National Trust and it’s doors opened to the public in 1953.

Parkland

We decided to have some lunch in the benched picnic area nearby the car park before heading up to the house. From here there are beautiful views across the lake and parkland, as well as the resident waterfowl. Walking up the tree lined driveway, passing the long lake on your left and open grassland on the right, the grand red brick Georgian house suddenly comes into view. The Osterley estate offers a quiet retreat, only a stones-throw from London and it is easy to see how it would have impressed guests visiting the Child family! It also has hundreds of acres of parkland to explore as well as a Park Run every Saturday morning at 9am. The grassed lawn in front of the house was full of families enjoying the beautiful weather and parkland, and we were lucky enough to see a heron catching fish in the lake 🙂

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House

On reaching the house, large stone steps lead you up to the ‘transparent’ portico, boasting large pillars and ionic capitals. It is really amazing to be able to enter the house through the main front entrance, passing under the intricately decorated ceiling and straight into the Entrance Hall (Designed in 1767 and completed in 1773). The Entrance Hall is very muted in colour, decorated in soft grey and white, with a beautiful tiled floor and large Mediterranean style statues and urns.

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From here we were directed into the Long Gallery, which still has it’s original wooden floor and is decorated in light jade green. After a welcome talk from one of the guides (Which I would definitely recommend!) we were able to explore the house on our own. The Long Gallery is filled with many interesting paintings and mirrors, as well as Asian items of furniture brought to Osterley as a result of the Child family’s participation in the East India trade. I particularly enjoyed the tall Chinese porcelain dragon lidded vases (mid 18th century) and the ornate ivory Chinese carved items, including a pleasure barge (mid-eighteenth-century) and multilevel platter would have been placed on the table of the guest of honour.

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Heading left, we passed through four more rooms, including: The Drawing room, The Tapestry room, The Bed Chamber and finally The Etruscan room. Every room is opulently designed but each have their own particular style, which makes them fascinating to explore! The drawing room is a light, airy room decorated with green/gold wallpaper and furniture, below an incredible ceiling design of pink, blue, and gold ostrich feathers set in an oval among octagonal coffers. Notably described by Horace Walpole as ‘worthy of Eve before the fall’. Currently several pictures on loan from the Earldom of Jersey trust are on display in this room, including: The Dobson self-portrait (1611-46), portraits of Robert Child and Sarah Child neé Jodrell, later Countess Ducie (c.1740-93), and The Music Lesson by Sir Peter Lely. The carpet in this room was made by Thomas Moore, to reflect the ceiling design.

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In comparison, the tapestry room is a dark, candle lit (In order to protect the delicate tapestries!) red room decorated with Boucher-Neilson Gobelins tapestries (1775). The bed chamber room again returns to a light yet opulent style, with the main focus taken entirely by the elaborate domed bed, designed by Adam himself. I particularly enjoyed looking up inside the bed frame at it’s interior, which unsurprisingly is as beautifully decorated as the exterior.

Finally, the Etruscan room displays a similar ornate feel but with a contrasting style, delicately painted from floor to ceiling and completed in 1778. This room remains of special interest as the only surviving example of a style which was initiated by Adam and subsequently widely copied. Four other Etruscan rooms designed by him elsewhere have unfortunately disappeared.

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From here we turned left down a long hallway painted in a similar colour scheme to the long gallery, lined with several pictures of Child family members, including a painting attributed to John Collett (1725-80) of the Child & Co bank premises which are immediately to the left of Temple Bar in London. We spend quite a bit of time carefully looking at all the interesting characters in the painting! This led us back to the entrance hall, which we crossed to explore the eating room, decorated in a combination of pink and jade green. I particularly liked the mosaic side tables, intricately decorated with flowers.

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Heading back into the hallway, we passed the breathtaking green and white staircase decorated with large pillars, hanging lanterns and painted ceiling. The library, designed in 1766 and completed in 1773, is decorated lightly, and lined with white painted Ionic bookcases (Including a secret door!). Finally we visited the breakfast room (Originally yellow) which is currently being renovated after being re painted grey when it was used as one of the sets for the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.

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Heading upstairs, we explored a few others rooms, decorated in a more modest style (As they weren’t meant for show, but family living), including: The Guest room and The Lady’s Dressing room. Finally we headed down to the basement to explore the servants quarters, including: The Kitchen, Store rooms and House Keeper’s office. I particularly enjoyed seeing a set of comedic drawings, a recreation of a spinning top game and the large traditional oven. We ended up playing the spinning top game for a while, and after a quite a few goes we managed to get the hang of it and knock over several of the wooden pegs!

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Gardens

Once we had finished exploring, we headed around the back of the house to climb the beautiful white sweeping staircase and look out across the parkland. Turning right we followed the gravel park into the main gardens behind the old Tudor stable block, starting with the walled vegetables and flower gardens. The sun was shining and Mrs Child’s flower garden was filled with tons of bright blooming flowers covered in butterflies and bees. The vegetable part of the walled garden was planted up with brightly coloured chard, lettuces and fennel, with lots of wild flowers throughout which worked really well. Surrounding the plots were fruit trees laden with delicious looking plums and apples. Out of the walled garden, we followed the gravel path around the large Temple Lawn covered in deck chairs for visitors to sit in and enjoy the sunshine, as well as admiring Adam’s iconic Temple of Pan summer house. Finally we looked at The Oriental Plane tree, which was brought over from Turkey or Iran and planted in 1755!

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I really enjoyed my visit to Osterley! The journey didn’t take too long, and thankfully there was relatively no traffic. As me and my family are National Trust members we got in to the parkland, gardens and house for free, while for non members admission is £9.25 for adults, £4.65 for children and £22.95 for a family, which makes Osterley one of the more expensive properties I have visited. Despite this, Osterley definitely offers plenty to see and do for the cost (For me the house itself is purely worth it on it’s own!). The house is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but open the rest of the week along with the gardens, parkland (8am to 7.30pm) and shop/tea room from 11am to 5pm. We brought our own picnic to enjoy in the parkland, however if you wanted to buy some lunch the Stables Cafe has a selection of hot/cold lunches, cakes and cream teas! I would love to visit again around, especially around Christmas time, as if Osterley is decorated anywhere near as beautifully as Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire it would be an even more breathtaking visit 🙂

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A Day in the Life…