My mum was in Norway recently to visit my nan so I was able to send a little shopping list with her, couldn't go too nuts though as she only had hand luggage but luckily I got the most important bits :D. Most people use vanilla extract from a bottle in baking but I don't think I have for years, In Norway you use vanilla sugar, but not as we know it here. It looks like icing sugar and is quite strong so a little goes a long way. So when you see me including it in my recipes it's mainly for my Norwegian readers as vanilla extract just isn't really used there. Don't use the vanilla sugar you sometimes get here (in Waitrose for instance) as it's actually just flavoured sugar so won't be strong enough to replace extract.
I also want to mention this gingerbread cutter. My nan there knows how much I love baking and has always set me up with important baking stuff or let me raid her endless cookbooks, and even now she saves all the recipe leaflets that comes with her magazines for me. So I thought it was really nice she sent her vintage gingerbread cutter over for me. Me and my mum have been looking for one for ourselves for years with no luck so I can't wait for a reason to use it soon - I'll find one!
When I can't get to Norway I order some from the Norwegian Seaman's Church in London - who are a great stockist for when we need a Norwegian food fix when the cupboards are bare! Another great item I asked for is pearl sugar. I've never seen it here so it's luxury for me. It's mainly used for sprinkling on top of bakes that go in the oven - the sugar doesn't melt away like normal sugar as the crystals are bigger, a bit like the biscuits you always get at Christmas. I use it a lot in my Kringle recipes - which reminds me, I must make one for Easter! I went through boxes of this stuff when making practice kringle for The Great British Bake Off audition, worth its weight in gold!
As I mentioned before Easter is around the corner (yay!), next to Christmas it is my favourite time of the year, days get longer, the air gets warmer and nearly everything comes in yellow. Not to mention the extreme amounts of chocolate that enters our house. And this year I am determined to make my own Easter eggs, I even picked up these moulds from Poundland! Amazing! One giant egg and a tray of smaller ones, perfect for a hunt...I may be a grown up but I shall still rummage around the house for chocolate eggs....oh yes I will...
This weekend has felt like the first weekend I have been able to enjoy the sun. On Saturday I went for a brief day visit to my family (pictures with niece and little brother below) in Southampton which was lovely. And on Sunday I spent the day with my mum in the Garden Centre drooling over the Easter bits including these cardboard eggs that everyone uses as Easter eggs in Norway and fill with chocolate. I also had another repeat red velvet cake pop order to make for the now newlywed couple I made the wedding cake pops for. I've forgotten how it feels to bake when the sun is beaming in so I just had to take pictures as it's normally pitch black when I get around the baking after work.