Time to move

Around 3 months ago, I went with my husband on a new adventure. He was starting a new job in Chicago and I was going to come with him! Very exciting, I know. I left my job, stopped baking for a while, packed up my kitchen and headed on a plane across the world.

I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was ready for a new adventure. I was ready to move on from my job role that I had, I was ready to start thinking about whether cakes were my direction in life, I also was ready to wait 3-5 months for a work visa which would mean I had the time to think it all through. Think of it like a semi retirement for someone who has worked since he was old enough to, but probably wont retire with a government pension when the time comes. (Classic millennial issue).

We arrived, met some wonderful new people, and he started work. I was left to fend for myself, so I went on walks around my new home. Lots of walks. I have walked up and down the lake side so many times, and been to the zoo (because it’s free) more times than I have ever been to a zoo before. I was worried about the zoo, as I am with most animals in captivity. On one of my (many) visits, I discovered that they actually do a lot for the city. They do research into the wildlife that live in the city, and how that impacts both city dwelling and the animals themselves. Who would have thought that in Chicago there were more than just the usual city mice and foxes. Coyotes, deer and DUCKS (bloody love ducks) are among the usual crowd living with us. I for one, find that exciting.


In my first few months, aside from walking around, I have eaten in lots of little cafes (shout out to Little Goat in Fulton Market area) and been baking up a storm in my new kitchen. If you follow my videos and have seen me baking along with the Bake Off this year, or follow my instagram or Tik Tok and seen my in between bakes- Thank you. My plan while I am here is to gain enough baking knowledge and have recipes to hand so when my Visa kicks in, I can potentially start to sell said baked goods. The “how to become self employed, start a business and take over the world” is much more complicated in the USA than in the UK- the Homemade Cottage food laws in Illinois are a minefield. It looks like I may have to hire out a shared kitchen space somewhere, I shall keep you posted on this.

We have also had visitors, my cousin and his wife came along, my dad has been to visit, and husbands parents have also come to say hello. Its been a busy few months. I went to visit my dads friends (with him) in Detroit, where their hospitality was beyond kindness. My hope is to share all my videos and pictures that I have been taking along the way- so you can see what I have been doing. Stay tuned for more.

See you soon

Colin

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Chicago Videos

Vegan Cookie Swirls

This year on the Great British Bake Off the contestants had to make Biscuit Chandeliers. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, I decided I would make one too. I thought I could make it a mixture of vegan and non vegan cookies for my varying dieted friends. Here are the Chocolate and Vanilla Swirl cookies I made.

I also took inspiration and techniques from She Who Bakes, who made swirl cookies for Valentines Day and always wanted to give it a try.


Ingredients

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400g plain flour

140g caster sugar

2&1/2tbsp corn flour

3 tbsp icing sugar/confectioners sugar

vanilla extract/flavouring

140g vegan butter (olive butter, sunflower butter etc)

50g cocoa powder

140g vegetable shortening (plus 1-2 tbsp)


Method

Into a bowl add your plain flour, caster sugar, corn flour, icing sugar and mix together. Add 1-2 tsp vanilla extract. Add in the vegan butter a little at a time, mixing together to form a loose dough. Split your mix in half. 

Into one half, add the cocoa powder. Then gradually add your vegetable shortening until it is fully combined. You may not need all the shortening, so once the dough holds together, stop putting it in, or it will be too greasy. Shape into a rough rectangle, cover in cling film and place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Into your other bowl, add 1-2 tsp vanilla extract and mix in. Then add in any remaining shortening you have or 1-2 tbsp until this combines together similar to the chocolate dough. Shape into a rough rectangle, cover in cling film and place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Once both doughs have chilled, take out and roll the chocolate dough flat to a rectangle (around 20cm wide to 30cm long) as long as its evenly 3mm thick all over thats all that matters. You will want to do this on some parchment paper instead of a floured surface. You can also use parchment paper on top to save flour and stop the rolling pin sticking, but this is up to you. 

Now take your vanilla dough and roll this flat to the same size and 3mm thick (again, if it is slightly larger, or smaller its okay, you will be cropping it down). Do this on parchment paper, like the chocolate. 

Now take your vanilla rectangle, and flip it on top of the chocolate. Take a rolling pin and lightly roll from bottom to top to make sure there are no air bubbles between them. Don’t press too hard or you will ruin your lovely evenly rolled dough.

This next part will be tricky, so go slowly, its not a race. Carefully lift up the parchment on the small end of your dough rectangle, fold over around 1-2 cm of the dough so the chocolate is now on top. This also starts off your “Swiss roll” style roll. Next, carefully pull the parchment at 90º to the counter top, using your hand to roll the dough over itself to form a spiral. Keep going (slowly) until you have rolled the dough up. If it begins to break when you are rolling, you can squeeze together the splits, as the dough should be malleable enough. 

Once you have rolled it together, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 mins-1 hour. 

Now this has cooled, take out of the fridge and chop off each end to show the even spiral design. Now cut each cookie by slicing 1cm slices down the log. 

Place your cookies onto a lined baking tray. Place this into the fridge again for 20-30 minutes. Switch your oven on to 175ºC/350ºF/Gas 4 and once this has come to temperature, put your cookies in the oven for 10-20 minutes. Check them at the 15 minute mark, by gently lifting one up. If the bottom has begun to brown, they are ready. 

Take them out, leave them to cool. If you have made these for a biscuit chandelier, while they are cooling, use a knife or a 5mm piping nozzle to cut out a hole for stringing. 

Eat and enjoy!

See you soon

Colin 

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