Easy Birthday Cake

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I am firm believer that anyone can bake a cake. Yes, anyone. [Read more…]

Spiced Spritz Cookies

spicedspritz-1It is that time of year to dust down the Cookie Press and get baking these cutesy cookies. Spiced with ginger, all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, these crunchy, shaped morsels shout C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S. [Read more…]

Chocolate and Lime Thumbprint Cookies

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Everyone likes a thumbprint cookie, right? So let’s talk about this Chocolate and Lime version… [Read more…]

Seeded Wholemeal Bread Fingers

breadfingers-1The good news is school is out for the kids – Yay! The not-so-good news is they are constantly hungry…

Trust me there is no lack of food in this house and the oven is on more often than not, but these kids are growing and I need to keep up!

Okay, so this is not the prettiest of bakes but these Seeded Wholemeal Bread Fingers are my solution to a  wholesome, straightforward, satisfying snack. [Read more…]

Rocky Road (aka Fridge Cake)

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Some friends have been wanting me to make Fridge Cake, or Rocky Road for sometime. So when I made this no bake treat, I had no idea that I would be giving you a little history lesson too. Interested to know where the name Rocky Road came from, ( I assume it came from the uneven finish and medley of different ingredients), I looked it up. [Read more…]

Chocolate ‘Mini Egg’ Cookies

minieggs-1I have been thinking about making these Chocolate Mini Egg Cookies for a while.

Basically, they are a double chocolate chip cookie but with sugar coated, chocolate mini eggs, as a substitute for regular chocolate chips. What is not to like?…minieggcookies-2

[Read more…]

Marshmallow Lollies

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Phew…I made it to the end of the week!

It is such a hectic time of year (for all of us, I know), my head is spinning. My children finished school today for the Christmas holidays so I can heave a sigh of relief, well, in part anyway. So for a few weeks, we have no rushed early morning starts, homework battles will subside (albeit temporarily) and my school uniform laundering takes a break. Just Christmas to focus on, right?marshlollies-2Oh, if only it were that simple! My passion for baking has totally overthrown any planning and organisation that it required for this time of year. I know from experience that it is always hectic (without the baking) but I can’t help but be in the kitchen at the moment.

Yes – I have Christmas gifts to buy and wrap, cards to write and post, gingerbread to bake, a Birthday Cake to make, preparations for my eldest daughter’s birthday this week, as well as bake, photograph and post bakes that I am desperate to share with you before Christmas. The only way I figure that I can manage it all is to ‘break it down’ into manageable tasks per day. Do you ever do that?

Anyway, I digress from these pretty, marshmallow lollies. I made these a couple of weeks back for the school fayre and I have to say they were a big hit – the kids loved them! I will be making more this weekend as I am going to add them to my daughter’s party bags and I think they will also look gorgeous, tied with ribbon, to any Christmas gift intended for a child. So appealing.

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If you are familiar with making marshmallow, these lollies are very easy to make. If not, please don’t be daunted, they are straightforward. I was a bit apprehensive about piping the marshmallow as it was my first attempt but actually it was not the sticky, messy experience I was anticipating.

This great recipe, adapted in method and quantity (if you are going to the effort of making these, in my mind, you may as well make a few more, 18 being what this recipe makes) is from ‘Sweet Things’ by Annie Briggs. This book is brilliant! And if you are stuck for a little gift idea for a keen home baker, this gem of a book would be greatly received.

I added a little more fresh vanilla than the recipe stated and it works beautifully but there is no reason why you could not use a different flavour marshmallow, or add food colourings for a different effect.

 These can be wrapped in cellophane, or bagged and stored in an airtight container. Such a lovely treat.

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Marshmallow Lollies

Makes 18 Lollies

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp. cornflour
  • 3 tbsp. icing sugar
  • 525g granulated sugar
  • 225ml water
  • 2 tbsp. golden syrup, or liquid glucose
  • 9 leaves of gelatine
  • 3 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. caster sugar
  • 1 pod of vanilla bean seeds, or 1 1/5 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 60g dark chocolate
  • 60g white chocolate
  • Sprinkles
  • 18 lolly/cake pop sticks

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the cornflour and icing sugar. Prepare three baking trays by lining with baking parchment and sieve the cornflour and icing sugar mixture quite evenly over the baking parchment. (Ensure you have some left for sprinkling over the lollies). Equally space the lolly sticks on the trays, six per tray.
  2. Place the granulated sugar, water and golden syrup (or liquid glucose) into a saucepan and add the 225ml of water. Over a medium heat dissolve the sugar. Bring the syrup to the boil and add a sugar thermometer to the pan. Allow the syrup to boil until it reaches 120 degrees C - this is actually between 'soft' and 'hard' ball on the sugar thermometer. It will probably take 10-15 minutes to reach this temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, fill a bowl with cold water. Add the gelatine leaves, one at a time, to the bowl and ensure they are all submerged. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, add the egg whites, salt and 2 tbsp. of caster sugar. As the syrup approaches the correct temperature, start to whisk the egg whites. Once the correct temperature is reached, with the mixer on a slow speed, pour the hot syrup into the whisked egg whites. Take one leaf of gelatine at a time, squeeze out excess water and put into the hot syrup/egg white mixture, all whilst constantly mixing. Repeat with every sheet of gelatine. Continue to whisk, at high speed, until the mallow becomes thick and shiny, about 10 minutes.
  5. Prepare two, large disposable piping bags with nozzles of your choice (I used a star and plain nozzle). Fill both piping bags with the mallow mixture. Pipe spirals over one end of the lolly sticks, so forming the lollies. When you have finished piping, twist the sticks into the marshmallow to ensure that they hold. Sieve some further cornflour/icing sugar mixture over the lollies. Allow the lollies to cool/set completely, approximately 6 hours or overnight.
  6. Place the dark chocolate, broken into chunks into a small sandwich/plastic bag. Do the same with the white chocolate. Place both bags of chocolate into a small bowl of hot water. Allow the chocolate to melt in the bags. Snip a small hole in the bags and drizzle the chocolate over the lollies. Quickly scatter sprinkles over the chocolate before it sets. Allow to set further.
  7. Store in a airtight container.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/marshmallow-lollies/

Source: Method and quantity adapted from Annie Rigg’s ‘Sweet Things’

 

 

Blackberry and Apple Flapjacks

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These fruity flapjacks are homework ‘fuel’ for the whole family.

We are now in our second full week back at school and the carefree summer holidays are a bit of  a distant memory. After school, homework is order of the day – spellings, maths, reading, times tables with two weary children, plus a keen two year old eager to join the fray. It is not just the children that need a pick-me-up snack…I need it!

These chewy, fruit flapjacks hit the spot. (Indeed, even my husband has commented that I need to stop making these – I have made three batches – as they taste too good).

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To be honest, I have never been a huge flapjack fan. They can so easily be dry, too hard, too greasy or just too sickly sweet. I think these have the potential to convert any flapjack cynic.

Yes, slightly more labour intensive as the fresh fruit is layered between two layers of flapjack, they are still quick and easy to make. So what makes these special? They are light, chewy, a little moist as a result of the fresh fruit content yet have a ‘crunch’ thanks to the addition of rice and buckwheat porridge flakes, in addition to the regular oats. I have used unrefined brown sugar and either, agave or golden syrup. Use whichever you have in the cupboard. I have also added a little salt to give that lovely salty/sweet aftertaste.

blackappleflapjack-1-2Not only do these taste good, but I think they look pretty. A great way to use the end of season blackberries and of course, all those apples that are abundant at the moment.

Enjoy!

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Blackberry and Apple Flapjacks

Approximately 16 slices

Ingredients

  • 150g blackberries, rinsed
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 180g unsalted butter
  • 175g Demerara sugar
  • 275g porridge oats
  • 100g buckwheat and rice porridge (you can use rice flakes, buckwheat flakes, or a combination)
  • 1/2 teaspoon course sea salt, ground
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 150ml agave syrup or golden syrup
  • 100g Bramley apple, peeled and grated (approximately half a large apple)

Instructions

  1. Place the blackberries and caster sugar in a small saucepan and put over a gentle heat. Allow the berries to soften slightly and a syrup to form. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C, or Gas Mark 3. Prepare a 20cm square tin by lining with baking parchment.
  3. Put the butter, Demerara sugar, oats, porridge flakes, salt, water and syrup of your choice into a large heavy based saucepan and heat gently. Allow the butter to melt and the sugar to dissolve and mix thoroughly until well combined. Remove from the heat.
  4. Spoon just over half of the mixture into the prepared tin. Spread evenly with the back of a spoon, or fork, and push the mixture into the edges and corners, ensuring the mixture is level throughout the tin. With a slotted spoon, place the blackberries onto the mixture and distribute throughout. Grate the apple directly over the blackberries. Add the remaining flapjack mixture and distribute evenly, again pushing the mixture into the tin with the back of a spoon.
  5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until the top of the flapjack is a rich, golden colour. Allow to cool completely in the tin. Remove from the tin and with a sharp knife, cut into portions.
  6. Store in an airtight container.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/blackberry-and-apple-flapjacks/

Source: The Contented Baker

Mixed Berry Fruit ‘Roll Ups’

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These fruit ‘roll ups’ are a fun, homemade confection I wanted try for the children as they go back to school tomorrow.

I thought they would be great as a quick, after school pick-me-up snack but having made them, they would also be a hit at children’s parties. ( I am now thinking alternative flavour combinations for Halloween…)

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As fresh berries are still so abundant for us right now, these ‘roll ups’ are a great use of them, and a completely different way of enjoying fresh fruit.

I have used a combination of blackberries, raspberries and strawberries along with Bramley apples which form the basis of this homemade confection.

The taste of these beauties is amazing! They give a sweet, fresh, blast of rich berries so intense that you instantly want to try another. Although I intended the ‘Roll Ups’ for the children, grown ups love these as well.

The method for making these is relatively easy – basically heat the fruit, puree in a blender, sieve and spread on a baking tray. The only drawback being the drying out time. They are not ready in an instant. If you want to give these a go, I would suggest starting them late afternoon/early evening, dry them on a low oven for 4-5 hours, transfer the papered rolls to a cooling rack and return to the oven (now switched off but still warm) and leave there overnight to dry out thoroughly.

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This gorgeous snack, which I can’t rate highly enough, is also freezeable. The fact of the matter is though, that these will never make it to the freezer.

They taste so good they will be gone before school even starts.

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Mixed Berry Fruit ‘Roll Ups’

Makes approximately 25-30 Roll Ups

Ingredients

  • 400g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 300g blackberries
  • 150g raspberries
  • 150g strawberries
  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 120ml water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Place all the ingredients into a large saucepan and heat gently. Cover with lid and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove lid, stir and continue to simmer for approximately 10 minutes until the apple becomes soft.
  2. Pour the heated fruits into a food processor and blend to form a puree. Place a sieve over a large bowl and pour the puree through it, so catching some of the fruit seeds.
  3. Prepare two baking trays by lining with baking parchment. Ensure the trays have edges so that the puree will not spill over. Divide the puree equally between the two trays and spread with a palate knife so forming a thin, smooth layer.
  4. Set the oven to 80 degrees C, or Gas Mark 1/4. Place the trays in the warm oven for 4-5 hours. After that time, turn the oven off, swap the baking trays for wire cooling racks and return to the oven (which is now switched off). By transferring to cooling racks, the bottom of the 'roll ups' can dry out sufficient. Leave overnight to dry completely.
  5. Test the 'drying' by peeling the edge of the 'roll up' away from the parchment. If it peels easily it is ready.
  6. When dry, with a sharp knife, cut strips about 2cm wide across the short side of the dried puree. Repeat until all cut. Roll up the strips and serve.
  7. Store in an airtight container. Suitable for home freezing.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/mixed-berry-fruit-roll-ups/

Source: Adapted from ‘Waitrose Food Illustrated’