Monday, 31 December 2012

Christmas chelsea buns

I know it is not just me who is in love with the great British bake off. The baked treats, Paul and Marry and of course the words of wisdom from Mel and Sue!

I was very excited to watch the Christmas special and whilst I wanted everything (and I do not even like Christmas pudding) I especially loved the idea of Paul's Christmas Chelsea bun. In case you missed the show this is a savoury Chelsea bun filled with your Christmas leftovers, turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce!

I did not change the recipe at all, who tweaks with a masterpiece? It can be found here.

It was easy to do, and assembly was fun!

It was very pretty to look at.

And most importantly it tasted absolutely delicious, I know for a fact I will not be able to wait till next Christmas and the leftovers it brings to make these again. I will have to engineer the leftovers specially!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Orange tuile biscuits

Hello, hope everybody had a fantastic Christmas! Do you still have lots of festivities planned? Maybe a dinner party or elegant NYE dinner? If so these little tuile biscuits will go down a treat with an elegant dessert not to mention impress your guests.

Orange tuile biscuits

makes ~28

2 egg whites
125g caster sugar
75g butter
zest of 2 oranges
75g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN. Gently warm the butter until it has melted. Grate in the orange zest and set aside to cool.

Whisk the egg whites with half the sugar until soft peaks form. Continue whisking and gradually add the remaining sugar, whisk until firm peaks form. Whisk in the cooled melted butter. Gently fold in the flour.

Place a heaped teaspoon of the mix onto a non stick or well greased baking sheet and, using the back of a spoon, spread into a circle about 10cm in diameter. The circle will be very thin. I would do no more than four per sheet and make sure that they are spaced well apart.

Bake in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes until they a golden brown around the edges, watch the like a hawk, they will burn very quickly

When done remove from the oven. Working quickly remove them from the baking sheet, using a palette knife, and mould around a rolling pin. Repeat for all the biscuits.

If the last ones firm up before they are removed pop the sheet back in the oven for 30 seconds to soften them.

When they are firm, it will only take a minute, remove from the rolling pin and place on a wire rack to cool. Best eaten the day they are made, for maximum crunch, but they can be stored in an airtight container.


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Iced Christmas cake with home-made marzipan

A few weeks ago I told you about how I had made mini Christmas cakes in Kilner jars. Well the time had come to decorate them all ready for a hamper.

First I made home made marzipan, the recipe can be found here. I did substitute the vanilla for a drop of almond extract though.

I rolled my marzipan out to the thickness of a pound coin, and cut out a circle the same size as my cake. I glued it to my cake using warmed raspberry jam. I know traditionally it is meant to be apricot but raspberry is what I had in the fridge.

I then left the marzipan to dry out for two days, this is very important with fresh marzipan.

I then rolled out ready made white icing, again to the thickness of a pound coin and 'glued' it to the marzipan with a little sterile water.

For added decoration I cut out a star from the icing and dusted it in edible gold shimmer, I then glued this to the top of the cake and sealed the jar.

The cake should keep for one to two months.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Mince pies

So it turns out I do like mince pies! A while back I commented how I was confused that I did not like them as I like pastry and dried fruit. I made my own mincemeat and below is the pastry recipe I used. This pastry is lovely, short, crisp and buttery, not at all soft and mushy like some shop bought mice pies.

Mince pies

makes 6-9 depending on size

90g butter
110g plain flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
egg yolk
1-3 tablespoons ice cold water


Pulse the butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and egg yolk and pulse again. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time, and pulse until until the dough comes together, I have made this pastry a couple of times and always have needed 2 tablespoons of water, but it will depend on the butter you use and the size of the egg yolk.

Gather the dough and wrap in clingfilm, chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C FAN. Spray or butter cupcake tins and add a strip of greaseproof paper, this will make removing your mince pies a doddle.

Lightly flour a work surface and roll out your pastry to a few mm thick. Stamp out circles bigger than the bases in your cupcake tin. Stamp out an equal number of stars for the tops. Line the cases with the pastry, gently pushing it to the base and up the sides.

Fill each case with heaped teaspoons of mincemeat and top with a star. Use the leftover egg white to glaze all exposed pastry. 

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly then devour whilst warm!

If you cannot eat them all in one sitting they are lovely up to two days later gently warmed through. They may last longer than 2 days but in our house that did not happen...
These were so good a second batch has already been made... don't judge me I have spent the last 20 or so years missing out, I have a lot of catching up to do!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Rubarb and ginger Jam

I like jam but quite often it can be a little too sweet. This jam is perfect. The rhubarb adds a natural tartness and the ginger gives it warmth. If you are a ginger sceptic or have ever been put off by overpowering pure ginger jam, don't let this prevent you from trying this. It is so good I am not wanting to give it away, the original plan, and I am going to have to make more.

Thankfully it is rhubarb season now, and the forced rhubarb around at this time of year results in a beautiful sherbet pink coloured jam.

If you have never made jam before, don't be scared, this jam is neither difficult nor time consuming and the result is well worth it.

The recipe can be found on the bbc good food website and I urge you to give it a go.

Myself and the boyfriend tried some on home-made buttermilk scones and declared it truly delicious!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Sausage rolls

The sausage roll, a staple of children's parties and buffets, not to mention Christmas party food. A bad sausage roll is often tasteless and stodgy but a good one is indeed a wonderful thing. And how to guarantee you have/serve a good one? Make your own!

By making your own you can spike your sausage meat with whatever flavours you wish. Here I have used apple and sage. You can use shop bought pastry, but the one I use is so quick and easy and tastes so good it is most definitely worth the small amount of effort.

Sausage rolls also begin with 'S' so I will be entering them into this months alpha bakes.

Sausage rolls

makes 12, easily doubled

for the pastry

4oz plain flour
pinch of salt
3oz butter

for the sausage meat

225g sausage meat
1 apple, grated
small handful of chopped sage
1 egg to seal

First off make the pastry. Your butter will need to be very cold so if it feels a little soft from the fridge pop it into the freezer half an hour before you start. Place the flour into the bowl and add the salt. Grate the butter into the bowl.

Using a knife stir the butter through the flour, making sure it is well  coated. Add enough ice cold water to make a dough that cleanly leaves the side of the bowl. I used 16 tsp. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile mix the sausage meat (I used regular sausages with the skins removed), the grated apple and finely chopped sage until everything is well distributed.

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C FAN. Roll out the pastry into a rectangle and cut it into two strips. Divide the sausage meat mix into two and place down the centre of each strip.

Brush beaten egg down one side of each strip and fold the pastry over the sausage meat, pinching to seal.
Turn so that the seal is on the underside and cut each long roll into six. Snip the top with scissors  to allow steam to escape. Place the sausage rolls on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until golden and crisp. Transfer to a wire rack to fully cool.

These a very tasty and make a great lunch, they were fantastic paired with Mary Berry's Christmas chutney. I also took some to a party and they were snaffled pretty quickly. Like I said these can be flavoured how you wish, how about chilli? Or honey and mustard?

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Buttermilk Scones

The reasons I made these scones is two fold. First of all I needed a way in which to sample the rhubarb and ginger jam I had made (recipe coming soon), and secondly I realised that scones begin with 'S' which is the letter for this months alpha bakes.

These scones are very quick and easy to whip up and the result is a very light delicious scone. I will definitely be making them again.

Buttermilk scones

makes 7 small scones, maybe 4 bigger ones, easily doubled

110g self raising flour
25g cold butter, cubed
20g caster sugar
80ml buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla (extract or paste)

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C FAN. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs and then stir in the sugar. Mix the buttermilk and vanilla together and add to the bowl. Bring the dough together, starting with a fork and moving onto your hands.

Lightly flour a work surface and pat the dough out to ~3cm thick. Stamp out rounds. Re pat the dough trimmings and stamp out the rest. 

Place the scones on a baking sheet and if you wish glaze with buttermilk, or an egg-wash  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes util golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy smothered with jam and cream! 

Mary Berry's Christmas Chutney

Now I know chutney is not baked or necessarily sweet but this recipe is from the queen of baking herself, Marry Berry. And so I am adding it to my blog.

I think that the reason its called Christmas chutney is that it goes well with leftover turkey, ham or cheeses, none of the ingredients themselves are particularly christmassy.

Mary Berry's Christmas chutney

makes two small jars

300g tomatoes
1 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
1/2 small aubergine
230g onion
115g granulated or caster sugar
100ml white wine vinegar
tsp salt
tsp coriander seeds, crushed
tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Peel the skins from the tomatoes. You can do this by scoring a cross at one end and placing them in boiling water for a minute, the skin should peel away easily. 

Chop the tomatoes, peppers, aubergine and onion. Pop into a large saucepan and, on a low heat, bring to the boil. You have read that correctly, no extra liquid is needed, the vegetables will release enough by themselves. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally  until the vegetables are tender.

Tip the sugar, white wine vinegar, salt, crushed coriander seeds, paprika and cayenne pepper into the pen.and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, continue to boil for 30 minutes until a chunky chutney consistency has been reached and all the watery liquid has evaporated. Make sure you stir from time to time, especially towards the end of cooking time to prevent the chutney catching on the pan base.

Spoon the chutney into sterile jars and seal while hot. 

Ideally leave this to mature for 4 weeks. The one I am giving as a gift will have matured but the spare one I cracked into after 1 week. Mind you it was still absolutely amazing, I had it in a sandwich with leftover roast chicken and it was the most fantastic lunch!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Chocolate truffle cupcakes

As mentioned in a previous post we have two books in this months cupcake book club.

This is my bake from the first book 'Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe' by Jenny Colgan.

In the book these are called double chocolate cupcakes. I have called them chocolate truffle cupcakes as they are very dark, chocolately and quite dense. Certainly an adult chocolate cupcake.

I have paired them with a light and creamy white chocolate frosting, the perfect contrast to the dark cake.

Chocolate truffle cupcakes

makes 6 (I had to do some serious maths, by my reckoning the recipe Jenny supplies would make 300!)

For the cakes
90g good quality dark chocolate
50ml double cream
1 egg
35g caster sugar
30g plain flour
tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder

For the frosting
60g butter
125g icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk
50g white chocolate

Place the dark chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted, set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk the egg and sugar until doubled in volume. Gradually add the chocolate and cream, mixing well. Add the flour,cocoa powder and baking powder and fold in.

Divide the mix evenly between baking cases and bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

In the meantime make the frosting. Melt the white chocolate, in a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water, and set aside to cool.

Beat the butter with the icing sugar and milk for 5 minutes until very light and creamy. Add in the cooled white chocolate and beat until incorporated. Make sure the chocolate is nice and cool or it will melt your frosting, 

Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cakes and enjoy!

Saturday, 8 December 2012


I am confused, I should like mince pies. I like pastry, I like dried fruit, I like spices.  And yet the mystery remains, I do not like them.

I have decided to investigate this. I suspect that it may be that I was given mediocre shop bought ones and this has put me off. I haven't tried one in years.

I am going to make my own home-made mincemeat and then make my own mince pies. I have to put some thought into what pastry to use but I shall cross that bridge when I come to it, I have time, my mincemeat will need a little while to mature.

I had a look round at various recipes and below is my interpretation using what I like.


small bramley apple
130g raisins
130g sultanas
40g stoned dates, chopped
50g almonds, chopped
150g suet
250g brown sugar
tsp mixed spice
tsp cinnamon
fresh grating of nutmeg
Zest and juice of a small lemon
Zest and juice of half an orange
50ml brandy

Put the raisins, sultanas, dates, almonds, suet, sugar and spices into a bowl and mix. Peel and grate the apple then add this to the bowl along with the citrus juice and brandy, Give the whole thing a good mix.

Leave overnight, giving a good stir every now and then. By morning it will be slightly darker and lovely and sticky.

 Pack into sterile jars and leave to mature for two weeks and then its good to go!
Odds and sods jars collected through the year!
I know I say leave for two weeks but I will be making a trial run of mince pies next weekend!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Spicy peacekeeper cookies

This month we get a bumper two books for the cupcake book club. 'Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe' and Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe, both by Jenny Colgan.

I plan to make something from both books. These are from the Christmas book and made at the special request of my boyfriend. He loves this sort of biscuit and as soon as he knew about them they had to be made! To be fair I like this sort of biscuit too, and I have dates left over from making Christmas cakes which need using. Still have plenty left though so need to put my thinking cap on to use them up!

I have adapted the recipe only ever so slightly. I am not convinced that 14g of walnuts is right, it may be a typo and I have taken it to actually be 145g. Whether I am right or not remains to be seen.

Peacekeeper spice cookies (adapted from Jenny Colgan, Christmas at the cupcake Cafe)

makes 34

110g butter
100g light brown sugar
118g treacle
egg yolk
tablespoon soured cream
375g plain flour
tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
tsp ginger
tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
50g raisins or sultanas
50g walnuts, roughly chopped
50g dried dates, roughly chopped

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the treacle, egg yolk and soured cream and mix until well incorporated. 

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing well after each addition.

Finally add the dried fruits and nuts and blend well. 

Chill the dough for 1/2 hour to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 160C/140C FAN and grease baking sheets, I did not grease mine but I know that it is very super non stick. 

Roll out the dough ~1cm thick and stamp out rounds.
This dough rolls beautifully!
 Cook for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden.  Using a palette knife transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and allow to cool fully.

Wow, I halved the recipe and still have ended up with 34 biscuits! Its a good job that they are delicious. They are spicy and light with lovely textures from the fruit. These would definitely cheer anyone up and keep the peace.
So many cookies!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Spicy gingerbread men

One of my pet hates is being tempted into buying a gingerbread man and then tasting nothing, not even a smidgen of ginger. I don't really like it when they are iced either, for me its all about spice and warmth not sugary sweetness.

I love gingerbread men so very much, I am terribly unrestrained if I have them in the house, but now its December it feels the perfect time to bake these spicy little biscuits.

Some basic recipes have egg in , some do not. I do not know if this would make a huge difference to texture, so in the interests of research, and not because I want to eat ALL the gingerbread men, I am going to try a few batches. Below is my egg-less version of gingerbread, good if you have no eggs in the house or have an allergy.

Gingerbread men

makes 8, depends on cutter size, recipe easily doubled

70g butter
30g treacle
50g light brown sugar
170g plain flour 
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
balls of stem ginger chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of the syrup
raisins to decorate (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN and lightly grease a baking sheet, unless you know that yours is super non stick, then this is not necessary.

Gently warm the butter, treacle and sugar until melted.

Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and stem ginger together in a bowl. Add the stem ginger syrup to the melted mix. Mix the wet and dry ingredients, press together until a dough is formed.

Lightly flour a surface and roll out the dough, it may crumble a little, just push it together with your hands. Stamp out the men, re-rolling the trimmings until all the dough is used up. Press chopped raisins into the dough as eyes and buttons if you like. 

Cook in the preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, depending on size. Keep an eye on them, they will catch very quickly.

Leave to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes then carefully transfer to a wire rack.

Once cool the men can be decorated with royal icing or melted chocolate if you wish.

These were really nice and warming gingerbread men, I will keep the spicing the same in the next batch and compare the textures of an egg and egg-less batter.
My ugliest googly eyed ginger bread man, I felt sorry for him, so ate him first!
p.s. sorry not many pictures, camera was charging!