Showing posts from December, 2010

Blogvent Day 24: Finished Gingerbread House!

Hurrah! I'm so pleased to be able to share my first gingerbread house as my final Blogvent post! I think next year I'm definitely going to make it earlier as I've literally only just finished it now, and I still have presents to wrap. It's such a good job that work let us leave at 2pm as otherwise I never would have got it done!

It's nowhere near as good as the recipe one, but for a first go I'm really happy with it. I stuffed it with marshmallows to try and keep it upright, and used royal icing (which is a bitch to beat by hand isn't it!?) to stick it together and for the roof. The chimney is a stack of fruit pastilles! I must admit I did mess up the roof a bit - went storming in, slathering icing all over it to stick on the 'tiles' then realised you were meant to dollop just a little bit of icing on each one to stick them in individually, then spoon icing on the top to look like a snowdrift. So it just looks like I ran out of roof tiles...

I also ha…

Blogvent Day 23: Under Construction...

A long long time ago now, on the 1st December, I blogged about how much I love gingerbread houses and how I'd been challenged to make one this year.

Well, that process finally got started last night as I made my gingerbread! Can you see the deliberate mistake though? Yes, there is no door, and there are no windows. Helpfully, after they'd been in the oven for about 10 minutes, a distant voice shouted, 'Did you remember to cut the door out?' Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrgh! No, no I had not remembered, and it was all I could to restrain myself from yanking it all out of the oven and hurling it into the bin! I will just have to pipe them on!

I was hoping to stick it all together today, but got bogged down with wrapping presents and getting last minute bits from Tesco, so I'm just hoping work let me go early tomorrow so that I'll have time to put it together! But whatever state it's in tomorrow, it will be the final Blogvent post! So I'd better pray I can do someth…

Blogvent Day 22: Mini Gingerbread Houses

Photo is by Chele at The Chocolate Teapot and is used with permission

These may be my favourite Christmas bake of this year! Today's Blogvent treat are these tiny gingerbread houses, small enough to perch on the side of your mug! They are by Chele at the Chocolate Teapot - who I must say is on fire with the Christmas baking! I've seen so many lovely things on her blog I probably could have got Blogvent covered without having to bake myself! See how Chele made these beauties here.

In other news, I'm hoping to get my gingerbread made tonight for my gingerbread house! I posted about it for the very first Blogvent post and I'm really hoping I can get it done for Christmas Eve. I'm not sure how well it's going to go, because I'm meant to be making templates for the pieces but have realised that the only measuring device I have in the house is an Ikea tape measure!

Blogvent Day 21: Cranberry and stem ginger buttermilk scones

Photo is by C at Cake, Crumbs and Cooking and is used with permission

Today's Blogvent treats are these yummy cranberry and stem ginger buttermilk scones, from Cake, Crumbs and Cooking.

Scones are something I've not tried to make yet and this is a recipe I'm definitely bookmarking as there are no nasty currants or sultanas lurking in them! Whenever my Grandma made a batch of scones she would always make a few plain ones for me, and these would be the perfect opportunity for me to eat some scones with a bit more flavour and without having to leave little piles on my plate of stuff I've picked out!

Check out Cakes, Crumbs and Cooking for these and more scrumptious looking treats - I've got my eye on the cinammon apple crumble cake and the ginger and spice cupcakes too - I love anything spiced, especially at this time of year!

Blogvent Day 20: Christmas Pud Cakes at last!

After posting about this recipe a couple of days ago, I was so pleased when I got a spare couple of hours inbetween Tesco, Asda, cooking a Sunday roast, and watching the Apprentice to bake these Christmas pud cakes! I'm also really pleased to be able to blog about something I've made myself again! Lovely as it is to discover and share things that others have baked, it was only making me feel more sad that I hadn't had chance to make anything myself last week.

If you do try this recipe, I'd advise leaving the custard powder out of the icing - I followed the recipe exactly but my icing turned light pink! I had to throw it out and start again, and minus the custard powder it turned out great.

I was a bit annoyed that I got specks of the cake in the icing, but I think that was in my haste to get the icing on before it got too congealed! They were pretty heavy going - very chocolately! - and I had to pick out the cherries, but apart from that they were yummy! I'd definite…

Blogvent Day 19: Crumbly cinnamon and chocolate squares

Day 19 and sadly nothing I've baked myself yet again! This was another recipe I had earmarked for Christmas as it doesn't feature mincemeat, but I'm going to have to hold on to it until next year due to tin-related and time-related issues!

The recipe is from the BBC Good Food book 101 Teatime Treats and while I'm on the subject, I can't recommend these dinky little BBC books enough! I've used so many recipes from them, most of which are available on the BBC Good Food website aswell. They've been perfect for me, being relatively new to cooking and baking - all the recipes are straight forward and they normally turn out how they are supposed to, if you follow them properly!

Anyway, advertising spiel over, as this recipe isn't online, I will post below:

175g/6oz butter, at room temperature, cubed
200g/8oz golden caster sugar
175g/6oz plain flour
3 eggs
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp baking powder

100g/4oz plain chocolate, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
100g/4oz light musco…

Blogvent Day 18: Christmas Pud Cupcakes

I'm very late today with my Blogventing, Mike was laughing at me that I've been so good all week despite being stressed with my new job, and the first day I'm off, I forget all about it!

I was hoping to make these this weekend, plus a whole load of other Christmassy treats too, but I went to Asda to get supplies and got so stressed in making sure we got the Christmas food (how can Asda run completely out of spuds?!) that it was too much to think about baking supplies aswell! On the upside, I did get some ace festive cheeses :)

Anyway, the recipe for these cupcakes is here (good ole BBC Good Food again!)

Blogvent Day 17: Gingerbread Men

Photo by Kara at butter hearts sugar and used with permission

Are these or are these not the best gingerbread men you've ever seen? Today's Blogvent post is these gingerbread men that I saw on a fabulous blog I have just discovered - butter hearts sugar.

I love anything gingerbread man related, but I fell in love with these instantly because they reminded me of those Fred & Ginger birthday cards you can get - I went through a brief obsession with them and used to buy them for everyone because I thought they were hilarious, but then I kept thinking I must've bought people the same one twice at some point. I've since moved on to the 'Violent Veg' ones, which always have me rolling in the aisles at Clintons!

Anyway, I digress! Despite loving gingerbread men so much, I have yet to bake them myself! I am definitely going to follow Kara's recipe when I get myself a decent sized gingerbread man cutter.

Visit butter hearts sugar for more lovely looking and beautifu…

Blogvent Day 16: Starry toffee cake squares

I'm one of those weird people who doesn't seem to like any kind of Christmassy food. Mince pies, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding - bleurgh!

I'm sure there must be others like me out there, so I've been trying to find some recipes for little festive bites to have as an alternative to all that fruity rubbish!

I think these starry toffee cake squares from BBC Good Food will do the trick! I'm even all ready with the right tin, so I hope to be able to make these in the next few weeks. The recipe is available online here.

Blogvent Day 15: Spiced chocolate cake

Today I'm bring you another item from my baking wishlist - look at this beauty I came across in the Sainsbury's magazine!

Chocolate! Ginger! Cinammon! Decorative stars! It basically features all the greats, and looks amazing too, but the only thing stopping me from making it this year was the fact that I didn't have the right tin - sounds like a lame excuse, but I'm having to build up my baking paraphernalia slowly and often I end up picking recipes based on whether I've got the right tins. I'm sure I could have done this in a different tin, but I'm not clever enough yet to know what that tin should be and whether I should make any adjustments to the measurements. Plus, I just don't think this would be the same if it wasn't in a jolly ring shape...!

The recipe is available online here.

Blogvent Day 14: Chocolate Stars with Nuts & Cranberries

Unfortunately, for the next couple of weeks this blog is mostly going to be 'here is what I wish I'd been baking...'! This is the first example - a recipe I saw in the December issue of the Good to Know Recipes magazine.

I can prove I meant to make them - you can see my little sticky label on the top of the page! These got bumped down the list though because they needed to set in a container, which means that they'll probably end up setting all unevenly as the fridge is quite small, and things tend to end up balanced precariously on top of each other! They actually look quite simple to make and I love white chocolate, which would balance out the nuts and cranberries which I'm not so keen on!

Hopefully next Christmas I'll have a bigger fridge and I can give them a go! The recipe is available online here.

Blogvent Day 13: Christmassy Cake Pops

Today's Christmassy baking treat is from Charlotte's Cupcakes! I love these little reindeer cake pops and you can visit Charlotte's blog to see some cute snowman ones too, aswell as lots of other yummy cakes she has been baking. The recipe that Charlotte used is available on the Bakerella website here.

I love the idea of cake on a stick but my only worry is that one bite wouldn't be enough and I'd have to eat the whole lot!

Blogvent Day 12: Peppermint creams

I'm a bit late today with my blogvent post, but better late than never!

We were having some friends around today and I wanted to make something a bit different from the usual mince pies to have with a brew after lunch. I saw the recipe in the latest Good to Know Recipes magazine - can't find it online, so I will post below!

They are so simple to make, but very messy and quite fiddly! It took me ages to get the consistency right to roll out the mixture - basically I had to add a lot more icing sugar than the recipe suggested, but that might have been me being a bit over zealous with the peppermint extract and so it was too runny because of that. Anyway, it was worth the faffing!

115g icing sugar
55g condensed milk
few drops of peppermint extract
25g plain chocolate, melted

1. Gradually mix together the icing sugar and condensed milk in a bowl. Mix in a few drops of peppermint extract.
2. Knead the mixture until smooth and firm, and roll out to 5mm thickness. Cut into shapes with a smal…

Blogvent Day 11: Mincemeat Swirls

I stumbled across this recipe here when searching online for Christmas recipes - I was mainly looking for quick, easy ideas for things I could rustle up for last minute guests or if I was pushed for time.

They should have been perfect! Here is the recipe (original can be found here)...

Ready rolled puff pastry
About 1.5 of 411g jars of mincemeat
1 egg, beaten

1. Grease a couple of baking sheets and preheat oven to 220c.
2. Unroll the puff pastry with the long side closest to you and spread the mincemeat all over, leaving about an inch gap at the side closest to you.
3. Start at the far side, and roll the pastry towards you, Swiss roll style.
4. Brush the inch gap you left with the egg and seal.
5. Turn the roll so that the seal is at the bottom and slice into about 1cm slices.
6. Place on the baking sheets and bake for about 15 mins, until golden.

I ended up leaving mine in too long as I was getting ready to go out, and then I should have taken them off the baking sheets straight away, but I lef…

Blogvent Day 10: Better gingerbread cupcakes!

Photo is by Ruth at The Pink Whisk and used with permission

Oh how much do I wish I had waited a bit longer before making my gingerbread cupcakes, after I saw this recipe this morning!

The Pink Whisk has today posted a recipe for gingerbread cupcakes which looks a million times better than the one I used, and the little gingerbread men decorations are so cute! See the recipe here.

I really want to have a go at these myself but they may have to wait until next year - I found out yesterday that I am finally starting my new job on Monday and so I don't think I am going to have time to do anything much else other than drool over lovely things that others have baked now!

Visit The Pink Whisk for lots more lovely Christmas recipes!

Also I am really happy to say that I won the prize for the November Bake It Club at Cooking, Cakes and Children with my attempt at the Chocolate Fudgy pudding! I will definitely have to make sure there is time to bake some Christmassy biscuits with my cutters! Tha…

Blogvent Day 9: Gingerbread Latte

I'm new to the Starbucks gingerbread latte love - I only discovered it this year, so it appears I have been missing out! After having one and becoming hooked, I decided to have a look online to see if there were any recipes out there. And there were!

The original recipe I used is available here. The quantities aren't very exact so you'd probably need to tweak it to your taste. The first go I had contained waaaay too much ginger and was a bit of a throat burner, but when I tried it today with a little less ginger and added some vanilla extract it was lovely, so the quantities I used today are below.

Makes 2
Big dollop of golden syrup (i.e. a generous tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream
Ground cinnamon

1. Put some milk in a pan (however much you like for 2 coffees) along with the golden syrup, vanilla extract and ginger and heat until steaming.
2. Make 2 cups of coffee (about half fill the cups).
3. Add the milk to the coffees, and t…

Blogvent Day 8: Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

photo is by Chele @ The Chocolate Teapotand used with kind permission

Today's Christmas treat is courtesy of Chele at the Chocolate Teapot... click on the cookie for the recipe!

I discovered Chele's blog a few days ago and thought these bad boys would be great for Blogvent. I've got candy canes left over from the box I bought for the hot chocolate and so that seems like a good enough excuse to me... and an excuse to buy some more candy canes, just in case...

Visit The Chocolate Teapot for loads more yummy recipes!

Blogvent Day 7: Gingerbread cupcakes with clementine buttercream

Mmmm. I realised the other day it's been ages since I've made any cupcakes, and since it also feels like ages since I baked anything that I would love to eat myself, I decided to treat myself to some gingerbread cupcakes.

Also it is finally a recipe that is not from some sort of BBC outlet! I found this one in the December issue of Good to Know Recipes - which I must say has loads of great Christmassy recipes for baking and food in general that are all really straightforward and look quite simple to make (perfect for me!).

Anyway, these tasted really nice and festive - just the addition of ginger and cinnamon to a normal cupcake recipe gave them a good kick, and you could really taste the clementine tang in the buttercream - yum! However, eating just one icing star turned Mike's teeth and tongue an alarming shade of blue!

The recipe for these cupcakes can be found on their website here. It's all self explanatory but my one top tip - which is probably really obvious to eve…

Blogvent Day 6: Starry Mincemeat Slices

Back to the kitchen now for today's Christmassy Blogvent bake: Starry Mincemeat Slices!

I've been doing so much Christmas baking over the past week that I'm now deliberately making things that I don't like, this being another example! This Blogvent challenge has been good though as it's been making me try out lots of the recipes that I'd earmarked for Christmas, so now I've got a good idea of the kinds of things to make sure I have in the cupboard over Christmas, what to make as prezzies for people, and what never to bother with making again (I'm looking at you, truffles!).

Anyway, this is another one that will be making another appearance over Christmas - I'm sure we'll have some family around at some point and I love making up a bit of a buffet type spread, and I can imagine this beaut featuring centre-stage on the table! Once again Good Food has come up trumps with a quick and simple recipe, which can be found here.

It does seem like a bit of a …

Blogvent Day 5: Peppermint hot chocolate

Apologies in advance for the rubbishy photos in this post; not that I claim to be an expert usually, but I just couldn't seem to be able to get a decent angle/light to take these pictures in!

A bit of a break from baking today, but still yummy and chocolatey and Christmassy I promise!

Peppermint hot chocolate! I've never made actual proper hot chocolate before, and have normally been content with Options, but after this I feel there's no going back! The recipe is here (yes yes, Good Food again!) and is really easy to chop and change depending on how many people you are catering for - I halved it and made it for myself, Mike and his friend after they had come in from the cold (although admittedly they had been playing badminton so I don't know how cold they actually were, and it probably undid all their hard work running around the court...)

I think they look really cute and festive with the candy canes hung on the sides!

Back tomorrow with another Good Food recipe and the…

Christmas Baking Carnival / Blogvent Day 4: Florentines

Florentines are another great Christmas gift idea and are so quick and easy to make, which is definitely helpful at this manic time of year! They are also great for something to have in the house for any guests that drop in during the festive season!

There are loads of different recipes floating about on the web but the recipe I settled on was from Cupcakes and Small Bakes - they are just like cornflake cakes with a bit extra really! As I can't find that recipe online anywhere, I will post it below:

Makes about 25
85g/3oz cornflakes, crushed
85g/3oz toasted flaked almonds
50g/2oz dried cranberries
50g/2oz glace cherries, sliced
397g can condensed milk
140g/50z milk chocolate, melted
140g/50z white chocolate, melted

1. Preheat oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4 and line a few baking sheets with baking paper.
2. Put the cornflakes, almonds, cranberries and cherries into a bowl and then stir in the condensed milk until all the ingredients are sticky.
3. Spoon about 25 tablespoons of the mixture onto th…

Blogvent Day 3: Chocolate Truffles

Truffles were another idea I had for festive gifts after seeing a recipe in the December issue of Good Food magazine (p.163).

There were 3 flavour suggestions: candied orange, stem ginger, or coconut and cherry. I went for the orange as I *love* chocolate orange, but unfortunately I could only get candied mixed peel instead of just orange... this meant that the flavour didn't really come through and I was cursing myself for not doing the ginger ones!

The truffles were really fun to make although you probably need to set aside at least half a day to be faffing about with them - they took longer than the 2 hours stated to chill - and make sure there's lots of room in the fridge, I lost a couple of truffles through trying to shift things about! It's pretty messy business once you start scooping and rolling the truffles as they start to melt straight away, as you can see...

It was also really difficult to get the truffles looking nice and smooth - when coating them in the melted …

The Snow Day Bake Off: Mincemeat Custard Pies

We got some snow at last! As we haven't lived here long, we were doubly excited about this as we couldn't wait to see what the place would look like with a dusting. We haven't had much, but it was enough to mean that Mike was told to work from home and I had an excuse to be holed up in the kitchen!

This also seemed like a great opportunity to enter A Slice of Cherry Pie's Snow Day Bake Off, and so this is my entry.

After wandering around outside taking some photos, marvelling at how pretty everything looked and grinning from ear to ear about how much we love where we live, I made some Mincemeat Custard Pies to warm us up.

Mike wasn't sure how he felt about the mincemeat-custard combo, but eaten still warm from the oven and with a dusting of icing sugar, he was very pleasantly surprised! I can't really comment as I don't like mincemeat (!!), so I only nibbled around the edges...

The best thing about these is that they were so quick and easy to make - only taking…

Blogvent Day 2: Spiced Christmas cookies

It's not Christmas without some spiced biscuits and I found this great little recipe in one of my trusty BBC Good Food books - 101 Teatime Treats. I've scoured the BBC website for it but the exact recipe doesn't seem to be available online, so I will post below:

Makes about 24 depending on what cutter you use!
85g/3oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
100g/4oz caster sugar
1 egg - beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2tsp mixed spice
2 tbsp golden syrup
250g/9oz plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
icing sugar or granulated sugar, to decorate

1. Beat butter and sugar together until pale and then add the egg slowly, beating as you go.
2. Stir in the vanilla, spice, golden syrup, flour and baking powder. Add a bit more flour if the mixture is very sticky.
3. Shape into a flat disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for about an hour.
4. Preheat oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4 and grease a few baking sheets.
5. Roll out half the dough to the thickness of 2 £1 coins and cut out shapes wit…

Blogvent Day 1: Gingerbread Houses

For the past few years now I've drooled over the gingerbread houses in places like Selfridges and John Lewis, and this year there is a recipe in Sainsbury's magazine that my friends and family have challenged me to try...

It's quite daunting reading through the recipe (especially when you get to the page with diagrams and measurements!) but I am determined to give it a try this year.

Unfortunately, the Sainsbury's recipe doesn't seem to be available online, but here are links to other similar recipes:

Waitrose slightly fancy looking minimalist gingerbread house
Delicious magazine's quite 'busy' gingerbread house
Rachel Allen's lovely gingerbread house with gingerbread people
BBC Good Food's gingerbread house which they claim is 'moderately easy'...!

If you don't fancy making one from scratch, I have seen a few 'kits' in the shops that just need assembling. I've seen Dr Oetker kits in the supermarkets, but there are also kits av…