Animal Groups

Hello all,

sophofbread here. You may have seen my animal babies post and in that post I said I was going to do a post on animal groups – so here it is…

All animals have different names when in a group. Most people agree a group of humans is called a crowd. A lot of group names come from a few hundred years ago when people wanted to add mistery and wonder to their writing. For example: a murder of crows was first coined around the 15th century when it was written a murther of crows (murther was old english for murder)A lot of the names seem really weird and there seems to be no reasoning to them! However for some the funny connections seem apparent – a gulp of swallows, a flight of butterflies or a cackle of hyenas.

There are so many different animals and so many different names for their groups, I couldn’t possibly name them all (there are a lot of websites that do if you were interested). I’ve chosen to pick a few that I think sound interesting or amusing;

  • A prickle of porcupines <—– ahh!
  • An intrusion of cockroaches
  • A smack of jellyfish
  • An army of caterpillars
  • A charm of finches
  • A crash of rhinos

Thanks for reading and see you soon.

Really Quick Heart-Shaped Bread Rolls

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Hello world, this is artybaker 🙂 These rolls are super quick, tasty and easy to make. I wouldn’t describe them as perfect just sort of rustic. I found the recipe in a recipe book ages ago, then adapted it slightly. It’s great because the rolls don’t take that long to bake and there is only one rising time, which can be as short as an hour. I decided to make them heart-shaped because I saw a picture online a while back of some heart-shaped bread and liked the look of it. Here’s how to make them:

First, dust two large, flat baking sheets with flour and set aside.

Sift some strong white bread flour into a large mixing bowl with some salt and dried yeast. Make a well in the centre.

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Then pour in some warm water and olive oil.

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Mix together with your hand to form a dough.

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Pour onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Or alternatively knead with the dough hook in an electric mixer for around 5 minutes.

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Put into a lightly floured bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a large bowl for at least 1 hour.

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Towards the end of the proving time, preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius/200 degrees Celsius fan oven/425 degrees Fahrenheit/gas 7. Then, after the time is up take the dough out of the bowl and knead briefly to get rid of large air bubbles.

Tear the dough into 12 even pieces (if you want to be really precise, you could weigh the rolls – each one should weigh about 150g (5 1/2oz).

Use a pair of scissors to chop through the top half of one of the rolls and mold the bottom half into a spike sort of shape, to make the roll the shape of a heart. Repeat with the rest of the rolls and place on the prepared trays.

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Dust with flour and bake for 35 – 40 minutes in the preheated oven. When done, the rolls should be browned and sound hollow when tapped on the base.

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The one above turned out good, but some of the others became a bit misshapen as they baked.

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Yes, that was supposed to be a heart! Leave the rolls to cool at room temperature. It may be tempting to eat them warm, but the longer you leave them the better. The structure inside improves more and more as it cools, so try and resist as long as you can!

Really Quick Heart-Shaped Bread Rolls

Ingredients: 1kg (2 1/4lb) strong white bread flour, 2 tsp salt, 20g (3/4oz) dried fast-action yeast, 600ml warm water, 2 tblsp olive oil.

Method: 1 – Start by dusting two large, flat baking trays with flour.  2 – Sift the flour, salt and yeast into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. 3 – Pour the water and olive oil into the dip in the dry ingredients, and stir with your hand until a dough is formed. 4 – Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes until smooth. Or, alternatively knead with the dough hook in an electric mixer for around 5 minutes. 5 – Put in a lightly floured bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise in a warm place for at least an hour. Towards the end of the proving time, preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius/200 degrees Celsius fan oven/425 degrees Fahrenheit/gas 7. 6 – When the dough is finished rising, knead briefly on a floured surface to get rid of any large air bubbles. 7 – Tear the dough into 12 even pieces (if you want to be really precise, you could weigh the rolls – each one should weigh about 150g (5 1/2oz). Use a pair of scissors to chop through the top half of one of the rolls and mold the bottom half into a spike sort of shape, to make the roll the shape of a heart. Repeat with the rest of the rolls and place on the prepared trays. 8 – Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until browned and, when tapped on the base, the roll should sound hollow. 9 – Leave to cool at room temperature.

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Thanks for reading!

Minibeast Hotel

Hi there, this is artybaker. I’ve been wanting to do this post for months. It’s about my Minibeast Hotel, which is basically just a homemade haven for insects and creepy crawlies.

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I got the idea off the internet somewhere… can’t remember where. This is the outline plan thingy I made (although I did make this after I’d made the actual thing).

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The top layer is sheltered by a transparent plastic box – I was trying to make a mini greenhouse. I was planning to use a saw to cut out one of the sides of the box so that the bugs could fly/crawl in, but then I found a hole in the box and the plastic wasn’t exactly very strong so I used a metal rod thingy I found in the garden to knock out the side. The edges are a bit rigid, but apart from that, it worked great! (Plus it was really satisfying)

Inside I filled an old dog bowl with rain water because I wanted to satisfy as many bugs as possible – including ones that like water. And then next to that I put some sand, for a sort of mini beach feel! On top of the sand I placed an old coconut shell up-side down. It was just on a whim really. I thought they might want some dark shelter or something. . .

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Oh, and I put some large pebbles in front of that. There was no particular reason, I just wanted to supply the minibeasts with lots of different environments, then let them choose which they like best.

The next layer consists of five bits of pipe that I filled with different materials:

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From left to right: Conker shells, sawdust, grass, rocks, dry leaves.

I stuffed the third layer full of pieces of wood and sticks, in varying states of rotting. I figured woodlice would like that.

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And finally, in the bottom layer I put a plastic tray containing compost. The compost is a mixture of normal soil from the garden, compost you buy from the shop and food waste. I change the compost occasionally/regularly, putting new food waste and soil in there to decompose.

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My minibeast hotel has it’s own special place in our garden on the flowerbed. We placed an old doormat over the soil then I built the structure up with bricks and planks of wood. I painted the bricks for two reasons: 1 because it looked a bit dull without it. 2 because I thought the colours might possible attract some insects? Worth a shot.

Dougal with the minibeast hotel:

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Almost everything I used to make this was recycled, and I found almost all of it in our back garden. It’s a great way to recycle old things and help small animals. It’s also really easy (although can take a while) to make. I haven’t looked inside too thoroughly but so far I’ve found these creatures: woodlouse, millipede, slug, worm, ladybird (don’t what that wanted in there!), ant and a few other things I don’t know the names of. No signs of caterpillars of flies or anything, but it doesn’t matter. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Happy Pancake Day!

Hello peoples!! sophofbread here,

Hope you’re all feeling superb! Today is Shrove Tuesday (also known as Pancake Day). I’m not religious so today is just a great excuse for me to eat pancakes but do you know WHY today is known as pancake day? Christian’s believe Jesus made a sacrifice and fasted for 40 days in the desert. We honour his sacrifice by fasting or giving up something for 40 days (the period known as Lent). Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (tommorow). So today (Shrove Tuesday) people use up all the ingredients that won’t last for the 40 days of Lent. The main being eggs and milk (and sometimes butter) – the main ingrediants of pancakes. People can make pancakes with those ingredients needing only the addition of flour. Here’s a great and simple recipe for pancakes…

Step 1: Measure out your ingredients. You will need.

  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pint of Milk
  • 2 tablespoons of oil

This makes lots of mixture, if you’re not as hungry you can just halve the recipie.

Step 2: Sift the flour into a mixing bowl.

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Step 3: Break the eggs into the flour

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Step 4: Add the oil (2 tablespoons) and 4 tablespoons of milk.

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Step 5: Mix all that toghether.

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Step 6: Add a little bit more milk.

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Step 7: Stir that in then add a little bit more milk then stir then add a bit more milk and stir. Keep doing this till you’ve used all the milk. When you’ve used all the milk keeping stiring till it looks like this and most of the bits have gone. You may wish to use a electric mixer; I prefer doing it by hand though.

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Step 7: Pour the mixture into a utensil for pouring. They may be little bits of flour at the bottom of the bowl.

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Step 8: The fun part begins – cooking and eating pancakes!! Put a frying pan on the hob on a low heat for a about a minute (to let it heat up).  Then put some oil in it (I used a oil spray).

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Step 9: Put a little bit of the pancake mix into the pan and swirl it around quickly so it covers to whole pan. Leave that on a low-medium heat for a few minutes.

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Step 10: There are a couple of ways to check if a pancake is reading for flipping. My personal favourite is to look at it (sounds obvious!).  Using the spatchelor lift the edge up and grab it with your finger. This one isn’t ready. When it’s ready it will have little brown spots or be fully brown (depending on the heat your hob is on).

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Step 11: Flipping! Holding the handle shake the pan until the pancake starts to move around. Flick it towards you and lift it up then catch it. You may need some practice.

Step 12: Leave the other side to cook – it may take less time as the pan will have warmed up by now. Then serve…

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The topping I like is the classic lemon juice and sugar (granulated).

This mixure will make at least 10 pancakes.

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Thanks to artybaker for taking some of the pictures! Hope you enjoy the rest of your day, make it a good one! 🙂

Chocolate Truffle Tart

Hi, artybaker here 🙂

I have a confession to make: I don’t make tarts nearly often enough, considering how tasty they are. In fact, I think this is only about the second tart I’ve ever made. The first was a plain chocolate tart with chocolate pastry. Nice, but a bit too rich (if that’s possible). Anyway, this is my Chocolate Truffle Tart:

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It’s made with sweet pastry, then the filling is a chocolate truffle mixture. It is topped with a layer of white chocolate and then a pattern of dark chocolate on top. Here’s how it’s done…

First, it’s the pastry. I’ve tried making chocolate pastry before by taking away some of the flour and replacing it with cocoa powder, but it tasted too bitter and the cocoa flavour was too strong. True, I could have tried it again and decreased the amount of cocoa, but, I didn’t think plain pastry would be too bad with this tart and I didn’t want it to be too chocolatey. So I stuck with a sweet pastry recipe I got from a recipe book.

Start by preheating the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/180 degrees Celsius fan oven/400 degrees Fahrenheit/gas 6 and greasing  a 28 cm (11 in) round tart tin with butter. Make sure the tin has a removable base too.

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Sift plain flour and icing sugar into a bowl (I didn’t sieve them – and payed for it later with endless minutes of trying to get rid of lumps of icing sugar).

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Tear the margarine into pieces and rub it into the flour and icing sugar until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

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Add one beaten egg and, if necessary a tablespoon or two of water. Mix until a ball of dough is formed and knead this until smooth on a floured surface.

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Place this ball of dough on the base of your greased tin.

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Roll out until the pastry is bigger than the size of the tin base by about 4 – 5 cm.

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Now, fold the edges loosely into the middle.

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Put this inside the tin edging, fold the over hangings over the sides, and press it into the flutes with a spare bit of pastry.

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Line the pastry with some greaseproof paper or baking parchment and pour some baking beans in. These will stop the base rising up and prevent the sides falling in (you will need more than I used; ideally enough to cover the entire surface, I just don’t have enough).

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Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven then remove the paper and baking beans.

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Trim the edges with a sharp knife and return to the oven for another 10 – 15 minutes. Eat or throw away the scraps.

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After the pastry has finished cooking remove the outer rim and transfer to the fridge.

Now for the filling. It’s not baked because it’s a chocolate truffle recipe – hence the name. I got the idea because I was planning to just make truffles, then decided to go one step further and make a tart.

First, melt 450g (1 lb) of dark chocolate with 50g (1 3/4 oz) of margarine in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water.

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Then add single cream and egg yolks.

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Take off the heat and pour into the pastry case. Smooth down with a palette knife.

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Chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

The topping is white chocolate with a pattern of dark chocolate on top. It looks a bit like a spider’s web, which wasn’t the best of planning from me, seeing as it’s about as far away from Halloween as you can get. But, I did it because I wanted to finally get the ‘feathering’ effect right. I’ve tried it many times and have never had much success, until now! Woo hoo!

Melt 200g (7oz) white chocolate like you did with the chocolate and butter for the filling.

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Spread this evenly over the top of the tart.

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Now melt some dark chocolate and drizzle or pipe over the white chocolate in a pattern of circles getting bigger from the inside out.

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Use a cocktail stick to make the decoration look like a spiders web. Start from the dot in the middle and drag the stick towards the outside slowly.

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And that’s done! You can eat it straight away or leave it at room temperature for a while for the chocolate on top to set slightly. If you put it in the fridge the chocolate will crack when you try to cut it.

I was going to write the recipe here, but honestly, I just want to get this post done and out of the way! If you want me to post it please comment and I will happily do it 🙂

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Thanks for reading 😉