Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Merry Christmas!!

I hope you have all had a lovely day with your family and loved ones! I certainly have - feeling very stuffed and content today.

I have a few posts that I wanted to do before Christmas but have just been too busy to get to the computer! I finally got a minute today, of all days. Everyone is snuggled up on the sofa watching Downton Abbey and snoozing so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to at least get one post out.

Every year my mum and I make Christmas cookies in honour of my Grandma. She had a great sugar cookie recipe but unfortunately it was lost after she died. We have searched high and low for a recipe that is exactly the same but, alas, we have not found a perfect one.

The perfect ones are light with a delicate sugary taste, chewy and do not bleed from the cut out shape. We used this recipe this time. They are very nice and light with the sugary taste, although not as chewy as I would have liked but still very good. My bakers recommendations:

1) Try not to roll them too thin as they won't be chewy enough. Best to roll them to 8mm thickness.
2) The shapes do bleed slightly so I recommend you don't use cutters that are too intricate.
3) I always find the longer you chill the dough to better so try to chill it over night.

Sorry for the poor quality photos, I forgot my camera so had to use my phone and the lighting wasn't very good.

We had a selection of sprinkles and water icing and put our creative hats on! Here is a selection of the ones we made in a festive scene!

They were all gobbled up over the Christmas weekend. They are light, soft and incredible more-ish. The icing makes them extra indulgent - water icing is so melt in your mouth! As you can see the icing isn't super neat because, I have to admit, I am not that patient so I can never be bothered to outline the cookie design with icing and then flood it with icing to get the prefect shape. If you make the icing thick enough and wiggle your spoon/knife/utensil around, you can usually get the right shape. Maybe not perfect but still scrummy!

I am going skiing with the boy tomorrow (super excited) and will be back on new years eve, so happy holiday season and happy baking!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

We Should Cocoa - Christmas Chocolate Orange Cake

This months christmassy We Should Cocoa is Orange.


Hosted by Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog.

Also lovely.

So many millions of combinations, so much choice..........endless possibilities!

So I went with chocolate orange cake. Adventurous? okay, not so exciting but delicious and classic right?!

I used an orange drizzle cake for extra tang and moist-ness. I substituted icing sugar for the caster sugar in the drizzle ingredients - It makes it silkier. Yum!

I made Chocolate butter cream from Crazy Cupcake Gem, but I substituted the chocolate for Terry's Chocolate Orange to make it orangey (literally the most amazing chocolate ever!). This blog is great, really super Christmas cupcake ideas!

1. Make the cake.

2. Pour over the drizzle.

3. Slather with buttercream.

4. I topped with fondant snowflakes with a pearly finish.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Tea Time Treats - Cranberry and Apple Mince Pies

Now I don't feel like I'm keeping up a truly festive blog but rest assured I have been baking away I just haven't had a chance to post it!

Christmas treat number 1:

I'm not a huge fan of mince pies.....I'm sorry to say it but I'm not. So this year I decided, to not miss out on the ultimate christmassy treat, I'd make some I would like.

I originally thought something cinamonny and chocolately, then realised I was just thinking about a mini chocolate tart (as yummy as that would be, it wasn't what I wanted)......back to the drawing board.

Fruits I like (that I can think of):

Fruits that are Christmassy:

Little bit of googling later I found this recipe from nigella.

I added 180g dried cranberries instead of the currents, raisins and just 30g cranberries.

The mincemeat came out beautifully red and tasted delicious! Yay for me enjoying a christmas treat.

I popped them in to some pastry cases following this recipe. The pastry was yummy. I used a circular cutter to make the base of my pies rather than pressing a ball of pastry like the recipe suggested, I just think this is much easier. I used my new holly leaf cutter for the topping.

 My tree!

This is my entry for Tea Time Treats run by Kate, and Karen from Lavender and Lovage. This month is hosted by the lovely Kate from Whatkatebaked and it's Christmas themed.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Rainbow Cake

Two words.



Two more words. 

Super. Exciting.

I made this cake for Charlotte's birthday and It was requested a while a go.

I used this vanilla cake recipe although I would recommend, if you want to make this cake, that you don't choose a combination cake recipe (where you fold in whisked egg whites at the end) as you have to mix the food colourings in quite a bit and you loose the air from the egg whites. I had the rather tricky job of measuring out all batter before the eggs then weighing the eggs so I got an even amount in each bowl. 

School girl error.

Soooooo this cake is actually not that difficult, although looks impressive so pretend to your friends it was. 

1. Weigh your mixing bowl and make a note of the weight.
2. Make your vanilla cake batter.
3. Weigh the bowl with the batter. Minus the bowl weight to get the weight of your batter.
4. Divide this by six.
5. Measure each portion into your six bowls.
6. Remember the rainbow - Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and, for this purpose, Purple)
6. Mix in lots of food colouring - the brighter the better!
7. Grease and line two 8in round tins with baking paper.
8. In one tin pour in the batters, in the middle of the tin, one at a time, in the following order:
9. In the second tin do the same in this order:

10. Bake for however long the recipe states, then remove from the oven and leave to cool.


Make the icing.

Pomegranate and Lemon buttercream

230g butter
250g icing sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 drop pomegranate oil
pinch of salt
Colouring (I used claret gel colour - gel is best as it doesn't change the consistency of the icing too much)

1. Cream butter and sugar together.
2. Stir in lemon juice, oil and salt
3. Whisk with an electric whisk for 5 mins until deliciously fluffy

Note: Usually I wouldn't use something as difficult to find as flavoured oil, but they really are great, you only need the smallest amount for an explosion of flavour.


1. Put one cake on a flat surface and cut off the dome to make the cake flat. The best way to do this is to hold a serrated knife parallel to the cake where you would like to cut. Hold it firmly. Put pressure on the knife and rotate the cake in to it. Do this to both cakes.

Here is a useful video:

2. Turn your first cake over so the perfectly flat part is on the top. Cover the top with icing and sandwich the other cake on top. Cover the whole cake with a thin layer of icing and put in the fridge for as long as possible, min 40 minutes.
3. Take the cake out of the fridge and cover in buttercream. By putting the cake in the fridge with a thin layer of buttercream you are making sure you stop the crumbs of the cake making your buttercream ugly.

Anyway if I haven't explained that well just search it on youtube, there are some great videos on how to layer cakes.

Happy Rainbows.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Random Recipes does No Croutons Required - Get Better Soup

So I was ill this weekend and I was so disappointed because I was suppose to go to Norwich for a weekend with the girls, Oli and Rosie. Instead I was stuck on the sofa with a swollen neck looking like a chipmunk! I guess the silver lining was that I got to watch lots of girly films and harry potter (!) and got away with whatever I wanted by telling the boy "but i'm sick".

As I was going away this weekend I didn't think I would have time to participate in Dom's Random recipe challenge this month. He has teamed up with Jac from Tinned Tomatoes (who you have met on my blog before in this post and this one) and her challenge no croutons required. The challenge this month is soup!

Random Recipes #10 - November

Being ill made this challenge perfect for me, and I had time to do it. So here is my recipe for "Get Better Soup". I didn't 100% follow the rules, but my excuse is that I don't have a cookbook with a soup recipe in, so I googled soup and the first thing that came up was a roast tomato soup. I didn't have all the ingredients for this and wanted to get in as many veg as I could to boost my immune system! So I roughly followed the recipe and chucked in every other veg I had in the fridge....randomly. Hope that counts!
This makes 6 bowls of soup:

6 tomatoes
2 carrots, peeled
2 onion
1 leek, chopped
3 mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic
parsley, diced
chicken stock
2 tbsp balsamic vinger

1. Put the tomatoes, whole onions, carrots and garlic together in a baking tray. Drizzle with oil, salt and pepper and roast for 35 mins at 180C
2. Meanwhile make up the stock and cook the mushrooms and leek in it.
3. Take the roasted veg out of the oven. Put everything in a big pot/blender. Chuck in the parlsey, salt, pepper, other herb and balsamic vinegar in.

4. Blend in the blender or with a hand blender. Add more water until it reaches the consistency you are happy with.
5. Eat or slurp!

I had this soup on two days:

Day one - I added some wholegrain rice, I just love rice in soup.

Day two - I didn't add rice but topped with toasted wholegrain bread and cheese (obviously in full on feeling sorry for myself mood!)

Feeling much better now and am already planning another weekend to make up for the lost one!

Friday, 25 November 2011

We Should Cocoa - Roast Goose with Apples and Cocoa

I mentioned my thanksgiving meal in my last post, which was delicious but you may have notice I didn't elaborate on the Goose recipe. That is because it is my We Should Cocoa entry this month.

Chele from Chocolate Teapot is hosting this month's We Should Cocoa and she challenged us to make something with cocoa and apples! I didn't have a lot of time this month. I had originally planned to make apple and chocolate Mille -feuille but I'll have to make that another time, instead I decided to double up my thanksgiving meal with the challenge. I got this roast Goose recipe from but I added two teaspoons of cocoa to the spice rub. The Goose is stuffed with fried apples and covered in a spice rub with cocoa. You could taste the cocoa on the skin (yum!) and the goose meat had an overall spicy taste.

Here is all the food on the plate, covered in gravy!

Just as a side note, this is the weird fused mushroom I used for the green bean casserole.

Was too busy eating the Goose so forgot to take a pic before it was carved is one after.

 Do you like my new wintery placemats? They are in red felt with cut out stars. I also sprinkled on some felt snowflakes, cute huh?

These are from the new plate set my mum got me for the "festive season". I don't have too much room for them but I love festive stuff!

So be thankful today, in fact all weekend, and tell at least two people you love that you love them because   this holiday reminds us to be thankful for what we are blessed with x

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving - Pecan Pie

Happy Thanksgiving y'all

As you've probably noticed I am English but something I don't think I have shared is that my mum is American. We used to celebrate 4th July when I was younger but haven't for a few years and as my mum doesn't really enjoy cooking she hasn't gone in for Thanksgiving.

This year I decided I wanted to have another excuse to eat yummy food celebrate my other roots!

My Thanksgiving menu

Deviled eggs

Goose with cocoa and apple

Green bean casserole (I added mushrooms and a tbsp of soy sauce to this)
Sweet potato and nutmeg
Mash potato
Caramelised onion and leek stuffing (I added two leeks to this recipe and swapped the chives and thyme for fresh parsley)

Pecan Pie with clotted cream ice cream - The recipe can be found on here (I'm sorry there aren't more photos, I got distracted eating it)

I took a half day off at work and prepared the food before the boy got home and my parents came over. I had to carry the 6.5kg goose home from the butchers and it was heavy! It was fun making all the food but hard work and me and the boy will be eating goose for a long time. I had goose and mushroom risotto tonight ;o)

My mum sang a Thanksgiving song which was the highlight of the meal! Hope your having a lovely day with your family and loved ones.


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Purple Blueberry Cupcakes - "Paint it Purple" campaign

This weekend I had a cupcake party and made a batch of purple cupcakes with the girls (esp Alice, Bec and Cat). 

Why purple?

I am taking part in the annual "paint in purple" campaign to help paint the internet purple and in turn raise awareness about violence against women. The campaign also raises funds for The Pixel Project which is "an innovative virtual volunteer-led non profit organisation using social media and online strategies to turbo-charge global awareness about violence against women while raising funds and volunteer power for the cause."

They raise money through purple cupcake bake sales (yum) and "Paint it Purple" parties. They emailed me and asked me if I would like to contribute a purple cupcake to their "Paint it Purple" cupcake recipe gallery and of course I accepted. Hopefully my cupcake recipe and photos, including others, with inspire people to have cupcake bake sales and give them recipes to try.

The symbol for The Pixel project is a white and purple ribbon. I was interested to read that purple was one of the three colours original used by the women suffrage movement and the white is to signify men and women working together to end violence. I tried to incorporate these colours in the flowers and balls (with a bit of shimmer just for fun!).

Making and eating cupcakes is always fun but to do it for a great cause is delicious and rewarding!

The "Paint it Purple" campaign is happening from 8 October – 24 November 2011. Have a look on the website if you would like to know more, or submit a recipe.

Blueberry Cupcakes

230g caster sugar
110g unsalted butter, 60g melted and 50g at room temp
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
175g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
2 large eggs, beated
75ml crème friache or sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
120 ml milk
50ml single cream

1. Preheat then oven to 170C and fill your muffin tin with muffin cases. This mixture will make 15 muffin size cupcakes.

2. Cream together the caster sugar and butter (at room temp), stir in the vanilla bean paste.
3. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Beat eggs in a separate bowl and stir in the crème friache,  vanilla essence and melted butter. Beat this mixture into the main mixture with an electric whisk. (I added some blue and red food colouring here to make the cakes purple but when cooked it didn't come out as dark but you still sort of see it)
5. Stir in the milk and cream. The mixture will be quite runny, so transfer it to a jug and pour into the muffin cases. Fill just under two thirds full.
6. Pop 3-4 blueberries (depending on how many you like) into each case and push down. I like to do it this way to get an even distribution of blueberries.
7. Bake in the centre of the oven for 16 minutes. Remove the cakes when they are golden on top and when, pierced with a skewer, it comes out clean.

Blueberry buttercream

225g butter
250g icing sugar
pinch of salt (I have discovered this tip - it takes away the too sweetness - trust me!)
3 tbsp blueberry purée (100g blueberries, tbsp sugar, 30ml water - simmer in a pan and mash with a potato masher until purée like (10-15mins))

1. Schmoosh together the butter, sugar and blueberry puree. When it is mostly combined whisk it together with an electric whisk. I do this so the icing sugar doesn't go all over my kitchen (although I secretly love breathing in the icing sugar cloud!)
2. Add the salt, whisk until fluffy.

I covered the cakes with fondant icing flowers that I made with my new cutters!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Mini Christmas Puds and a Tagine

I think it's okay to properly mention the C word now, yay Christmas!

The things I like most about Christmas:

1. The smell - delicious cinnamony, clovely, cranberry, evergreenness

2. The colours - Rich greens, deep reds, golds - lush!

3. The warmth - Cracking fires, warm house. I love coming in from the cold, unwrapping all the layers and snuggling on the sofa with a warm sweet drink.

4. Last but by no means least, the food! Smoked salmon canapes, pigs in blankets, spiced cider, herby sausage meat, roast turkey, roast ham, roast potatoes (!), onion gravy, chocolate truffles, bucks fizz, mulled wine.....sorry lost my train of thought....dribble dribble.

So this year the boy is coming to my parents for Christmas, very exciting. Usually it's just mum, dad and me eating so we have a lovely meal, but not too big, because the boy is coming there will be more food yay!

I'm not a huge Christmas pudding fan so mum and I usually have Sticky Toffee Pie instead. and dad will either get a small shop bought Christmas pud or won't get any! This year I have made two mini Christmas puddings for the boy and dad.

I followed this Delia Smith recipe. This is a slightly different recipe to usual Christmas puddings, I cooked it for two hours and have frozen it rather than feeding it with brandy each week. They are super cute half pint ones.

We had a really nice chilled out Sunday last week, this doesn't seem to happen that often! The whole day revolved around food. We had a nice fry up in the morning and spent the afternoon eating bread and cheese from the Walthamstow Framers Market. Then we went home to put on a Lamb and Apricot Tagine (inspired by the lovely Robyn at Biscuits and Blackites). I cooked the Christmas puds while waiting patiently for the tagine to cook. We cobbled it up with some coriander couscous and left over Ginger Chocolate Macaroons.

 We have had this tagine for ages but never used it. So glad we finally have because it was delicious and really easy to make.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

I passed my driving test!


I have no recipes or exciting pictures I just have something to share!

As you can see by the title I passed my driving test, third time lucky! Whoop!

I have some Christmas puds, a tagine and some purple cupcakes to put up so watch this space.

Happy Thursday/almost friday guys!


Sunday, 6 November 2011

Tea Time Treats - Chocolate Ginger Macaroons

Lavender Lovage and What Kate Baked have teamed up to start a new monthly challenge called Tea Time Treats - obviously the best time of the day!

This months theme, chosen by Karen from Lavender and Lovage, is GINGER and BONFIRE TREATS.

As you may have noticed, I love autumn and winter - they are my favourite seasons (minus the rain!). The food is so wholesome and rich and I love snuggling up and eating it all! So this months theme is so me. I have already made a Ginger Bundt Cake so needed to think up a new idea. I know it doesn't have to contain ginger but I really wanted it to. I haven't put up any macaroons yet so thought this was a good opportunity.

This is the second time I have made macaroons, all the horror stories from other people had put me off, but not one to shy away from a challenge I finally tried them. Now they mostly turned out fine which I was pleased with. They weren't perfectly even and a few cracked on the top. They were crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside and had feet and everything! But after making them the boy and I realised neither of us had had macaroons before so we weren't sure if they were suppose to taste like that. Either way they were all eaten so I'll just avoid making friends with a macaroon connoisseur. I made them bright pink just because I love this colour.

I used a recipe from pink whisk here, then I used the chocolate ganache recipe from here. I substituted ginger instead of orange extract. I couldn't get the ganache to harden up, to use as a filling, so in the end had to add a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of icing sugar. I'm sure you'll have better luck.

The boy and I went to dinner with my parents, sister and niece and nephew then went to my parents local firework display which was great. 25 minutes long with ohhing and ahhing all the way through. We gobbled up the macaroons whilst waiting for the show to begin.

Just before they said "yuk" - possibly a ginger macaroon was too much for immature taste buds - ah well more for me!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween - Spiced Pear Cupcake Fun!

I came home today, turned the light on and the fire alarm had fallen off the ceiling and smashed... bit strange but anyway............

move in to the living room and ALL the paintings have fallen off the walls..............

a coincidence or super creepy?? I'm going with creepy! 

I rang the boy, no answer so I ring my dad (obviously!) he says very strange but is concentrating on all the "trick or treaters" knocking at his door. I can hear them giggling and growling and it cheers me up! 

If there is a ghost living in my house I'm sure he or she is nice so, obviously over my scare, I potter off to make a Halloween chilli soup with sweet potatoes (which incidentally is yummy!).

Last Friday, after work, I ran a little Halloween cupcake decorating class. I modelled a spider, a cobweb, a ghost and a mummy. Then I let the team loose on the sweets, icing, squeezy tubes, piping bags and sprinkles. They either had a go at the ones I made or let their imagination run wild, and wild it ran!

 Here we are with all the goodies, concentrating hard!

My super quick mummy, ghost and spider (who has lost two legs)

The lovely Ros with her ghost, her son Montel would be proud!

Charlotte with her spider in a web!

My favourite! Super cute scary spider by Kinnery.

Colourful cobweb by Nicola

 Creative Diana with her grave and a dead hand sticking out.

Squished frogs by Catherine

I'm slightly speechless at this one!

It was a lot of fun and I hope the team enjoyed it!

The cupcakes underneath are spiced pear, I thought this was a nice autumnal recipe for Halloween cupcakes. They were moist yet fluffy (which is tricky to get), definitely a repeat recipe, I highly recommend them with a cream cheese icing. 

Spiced Pear Cupcakes