Summer Berry Crepe Cake

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For a woman who is constantly making pancakes of sorts – thin, Scotch, puffy, buttermilk, Dutch – it would seem surprising that I have never made a Crepe Cake.

Until now.

[Read more…]

Baked Cheesecake with Gingerbread

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Ho! Ho! Ho! I bring you a somewhat belated Christmas Celebration dessert.

The week has escaped me and Christmas Eve is here before I know it. [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…]

Cranberry, White Chocolate and Orange Biscotti

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So, the 1st of December is upon us. The start of the season for giving is here. What better way to start the festivities than embarking on a super easy, but no less satisfying bake than biscotti. These Cranberry, White Chocolate and Orange Biscotti make a wonderful homemade gift for friends, family or a host.  [Read more…]

Pumpkin Crinkle Cookies

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These Pumpkin Crinkle Cookies are a seasonal version of the ever popular Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. You know how good they are and how easy they are to make. [Read more…]

Cardamom Hot Cross Buns

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Baking Hot Cross Buns every Easter Week has become a bit of a tradition in our house. For the past 6 years I have baked these buns with reasonable success. Initially, I used my trusted bread machine to provide the family with yeasted goods, to great effect, I might add.

However, with my increased baking confidence, for the past two years I have baked without the aid of a machine and used Paul Hollywood’s Hot Cross Bun recipe.  It is very straightforward and this year I have decided to adapt it to incorporate one of our family’s favourite spices – Cardamom.

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[Read more…]

Jammy Cream Biscuits

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Eek! Another heart-shaped post! Sorry but there is a small window of opportunity to use the heart-shaped cutters and ’tis the season. That said, these beauties don’t need to be heart shaped – rounds, or squares would work equally well.

The important thing about these biscuits is the taste.

Most of you will be familiar with ‘Jammy Dodgers’, a traditional British biscuit of a sandwiched, round, shortbread biscuit with a raspberry jam filling. Not surprisingly these are a family favourite and you can rarely get away eating just one.

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These Jammy Creams are a ‘nod’ to the Jammy Dodger but they do vary. These have a vanilla biscuit instead of the shortbread and in addition to your favourite jam filling, these have a creamy buttercream (yes, with a touch of double cream). Dusted with icing sugar prior to serving, these biscuits are delightfully pretty and if the truth be told, a little messy to eat but boy, do they taste good.

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Although these may look intricate, don’t be fooled. They are relatively quick to prepare; only require 30 minutes chilling (although they can be chilled overnight); chilling makes for quick and easy cutting; bake for just 10-14 minutes and only straightforward icing and filling is required.

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These are a perfect tea time treat to be enjoyed by young, or old. Serve with hot tea or a glass of milk. You have to agree they look inviting (sorry, I got carried away with my photos today!).

Baked with love for my kids – Happy Valentine’s Day x

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Jammy Cream Biscuits

Makes 15 sandwiched biscuits

Ingredients

  • 350g plain flour
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 125g granulated sugar
  • 125g salted butter, diced (I used a French butter with added course sea salt)
  • 125g golden syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 vanilla pod, or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
  • For the Filling
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste, or extract
  • 2 tbsp. double cream or whole milk
  • Jam of your choice

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, sift together both the flours and mix in the sugar.
  2. Add the cubed butter and rub in, or with a paddle attachment of a freestanding mixer, mix until you have a 'sandy' consistency.
  3. Make a well in the flour/sugar/ butter mix and add the golden syrup. In a jug, beat together the egg and vanilla. Add the egg and mix until the dough comes together. Divide the dough into two large balls.
  4. Lay some parchment paper on to the work surface. Place one of the dough balls onto the paper and flatten slightly. Top with a layer of food wrap and roll the dough between the two until the dough is an even 5mm throughout. Place the parchment and rolled dough onto a baking tray. Repeat with the second dough ball and add to the tray also (on top of the first rolled dough). Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C, or Gas mark 4.
  6. Take the chilled dough and your cutters of choice and cut the dough. Place the cut outs on a parchment lined baking tray, equally spaced and allowing for expansion during baking.
  7. Bake for 10-14 minutes until the biscuits become light golden in colour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. To make the filling, whisk together the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and double cream and mix further. Add the icing to a piping bag and pipe stars all along the edge of the base biscuit. Add approximately a teaspoon of jam to the centre and top with the biscuit with the cut out (in this case the heart shaped cut out). Gently push down. Repeat with all the remaining biscuits.
  9. Dust with icing prior to serving (optional).
  10. Store in an airtight container.
http://thecontentedbaker.com/jammy-cream-biscuits/

Source: Adapted from Harriet Hastings and Sarah Moore’s ‘Biscuiteers Book  of Iced Biscuits’.

Mince Pies with Gingerbread Crust Pastry

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I am so late with this post. I seriously can’t expect anyone to give these a try this side of Christmas 2013 (maybe Pin it for next year?)…

That said, when I was in the supermarket yesterday, stocking up on my last minute baking provisions for the next few days, I noticed they were totally sold out of ready-to-roll pastry.  There is a lot of mince pie production going on locally, I think.

If you are at all organised and have the time and inclination to give these a try, you won’t be disappointed.mincepie2

So what makes these pies special? The pastry.

I recently found this pastry recipe in a new book purchase, ‘Pie’ by Dean Brettschneider.  Oh, there are so many great recipes in here! (Expect plenty of pastry-inspired recipes in the New Year…my ‘Tarts and Pie’ sections on the blog are looking rather lacking).

As I had made some homemade mincemeat, this was the perfect opportunity to try out this gingerbread pastry – with a mince pie. I allowed my pastry to rest over night in the fridge but you really don’t have to rest it that long. It is important that it is chilled when you start to roll as it warms quickly and becomes a little sticky. As usual, I roll on a lightly floured piece of baking parchment and have some food wrap between the pastry and the rolling pin, to reduce sticking, assist rolling and minimise handling.

This pastry was very light and fragrantly spiced without being overwhelming ginger-flavoured.

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As my mincemeat is heavy on the orange flavour (infused with orange juice and Cointreau), you can imagine the smells evoked in my kitchen whilst these were baking – a fruity, citrus aroma with spicy gingerbread – for me, the ultimate seasonal smell.

At this late stage, feel free to use a shop-bought mincemeat but avoid the shop bought pies – these are so much nicer.mincepie1

So soften the butter, preheat the oven, crank up your Christmas music of choice (mine is Michael Buble) and get baking these seasonal pies.

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2014 to one and all, near and far! x

Mince Pies with Gingerbread Crust Pastry

Makes 12 Pies

Ingredients

    For the Filling
  • 350-400g* Homemade Mincemeat (see separate post), or shop-bought mincemeat
  • For the Pastry
  • 170g unsalted butter, softened
  • 85g light soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 250g spelt flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • To Finish
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp. whole milk
  • Caster sugar, for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Prepare the filling ahead if you are making 'Homemade Mincemeat'.
  2. Sift into a bowl the flour and all the spices. Set aside. In the bowl of a freestanding mixture, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and continue to mix until incorporated. Add the flour to the mixture and beat until it comes together. Do not over mix.
  3. Tip the pastry mixture onto a piece of food wrap. Wrap and mould into a flattened ball. Chill for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
  4. Once rested, pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C, or Gas Mark 3.
  5. Place the pastry onto a lightly floured piece of baking parchment. With a piece of food wrap between the pastry and the rolling pin, roll the pastry until it is about 2-3mm thick. With a cutter, cut 24 rounds. (All of mine were the same size as I used a Madeleine pan, but if you are using a regular cupcake pan, cut 12 of one size and 12 slightly smaller rounds, to form lids). You will need to gather the pastry scraps and re-roll in order to achieve this number.
  6. Place the larger of the rounds into a 12 cup muffin/cupcake pan, gently pushing the pastry into the edges. Fill each round with mincemeat.
  7. With the egg wash - beaten egg and whole milk - brush the edge of the pastry. Top the pies with the smaller round. Brush all 12 pies lids with egg wash. Make two cuts in the pastry with a sharp knife.
  8. Bake for 15-17 minutes, turning the tray half way through. Sprinkle with caster as soon as the pies come out of the oven. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
  9. Store in an airtight container.

Notes

* I have put a range for the quantity of mincemeat to be used as it can vary dependant on the depth of your cupcake pan. I used a Madeleine pan which meant mine were more shallow. Typically, a shop bought jar of mincemeat weighs 450g, or 1lb.

http://thecontentedbaker.com/mince-pies-with-gingerbread-crust-pastry/

Source: Pastry adapted from Dean Brettschneider’s ‘Pie’

 

Homemade Mincemeat

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Homemade mincemeat is easy to make and has the advantage that you can tailor-make it to your exact taste.

This version has a very citrus, orange flavour as I soaked all the fruit in freshly squeezed orange juice and Cointreau (optional).

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Stored in sterilised jars, the mincemeat should ideally be made about 4 weeks ahead of use to allow the flavours to mature and infuse. All the ingredients are mixed together and then lightly baked in a cool oven to allow the suet to gently melt, covering the fruit and preventing the apples from fermenting in the jars.

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Mincemeat is a useful store cupboard favourite. Perfect for mince pies!

Homemade Mincemeat

4 x 450g Jars

Ingredients

  • 225g vegetable suet
  • 225g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and grated
  • 125g candied peel
  • 225g sultanas
  • 225g raisins
  • 225g currants
  • 175g Demerara sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 100ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 100ml Cointreau (50ml, plus 50ml after heating)

Instructions

  1. Mix all the ingredients together (just 50ml of Cointreau at this stage) in a large bowl. Cover and leave overnight.
  2. Pour the mixture into a large, glass oven proof dish and cover with foil. Place in a cool oven, 100 degrees C, or Gas Mark 1/4 for 3 hours.
  3. Remove from the oven, allow to cool completely. Stir in the remaining Cointreau.
  4. Spoon into sterilised jars, cover with waxed discs and seal.

Notes

To sterilise the jars, wash the jars and lids in soapy water. Place upside down in the oven, directly onto the rack. Heat oven to 120 degrees C, or Gas Mark 1/4. Allow to sterilise in the oven for 30 minutes.

http://thecontentedbaker.com/homemade-mincemeat/

Source: Adapted from BBC Food Recipes. Method adapted from Delia Smith’s ‘Complete  Cookery Course’