Thursday, 24 December 2015

Treacle and Cinnamon Festive Fudge


Here’s a very festive looking and delicious fudge recipe. Heavily spiced with cinnamon and treacle, it’s a delicious mouthful of flavour :D They remind me of the filling of a cinnamon swirl, but with more texture. If it’s not Christmas time, don’t shape the squares. They’d be great as gifts :)

Makes around 60 small fudge balls

Ingredients:

For the fudge:
  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 225g dark brown sugar
  • 110g butter
  • 120ml double cream
  • 2 tablespoons treacle
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 heaped tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the decoration:
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 50g green fondant icing
  • 50g red fondant icing


Method:

1. Grease and line a 20 x 20cm tray with non-stick baking parchment.

2. Add all of the ingredients apart from the ground cinnamon to a medium saucepan.

3. Stir continuously whilst heating until all of the sugar has dissolved – make sure that the sugar does not burn to the corners of the pan.

4. Place a sugar thermometer in the pan, and keep heating (and stirring) until the temperature is 115c/240f.

5. Remove from the heat. Pour into a stand mixer with the flat paddle attached if you have one (I’d recommend one for this next step!). Add the ground cinnamon and stir in.

6. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes, then use the stand mixer to stir the fudge (at a medium speed) until the mixture is cool – this takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes. If you don’t have a stand mixer you can do this by hand (it’s a great workout).

7. The fudge will become very thick and lose it’s glossiness. Once it has reached this stage, pour the fudge into the prepared tin, level off and leave for about 1 hour to set.

8. Cut the fudge into 60 squares. Roll each square into a sphere.

9. Make up the icing by adding a teaspoon of water to the icing and stirring. Keep adding water drop-wise, until the icing runs off a spoon but leaves a trail in the icing left behind. Pour into a piping bag.

10. Pipe splodges of white icing onto each ball – this doesn’t need to be neat. You can use a toothpick/knife to gently smooth it down the balls (to resemble the top of a Christmas pudding).

11. Roll out the green and red fondant to about 2mm thick. Use a small leaf cutter to cut out 2 leaves per fudge (alternatively for a less neat but quicker result, you can roll out tiny ovals of fondant to represent the leaves).

12. Make small spheres (only about 2-3mm wide) of the red fondant and place 2-3 on each fudge piece.

13. Stick the leaves around the berries.  Leave the icing to set (this takes about 30 minutes).

14. Enjoy!







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Monday, 21 December 2015

Gingerbread House





Here’s a recipe to bake around the festive season. A gingerbread house J It’s perfect to make a day ahead, and then have children/child-hearted friends and family to decorate.

Alternatively do all the baking and decorating yourself and have your relatives and friends in awe of your baking supremeness. Mine stayed stood up for 3 days, but I’d recommend eating it within 2 days, because of the caramel I’ve used to stick the pieces of gingerbread together. This caramel is controversial, as classically royal icing is used. However, icing takes a long time to dry, meaning you’re holding pieces of gingerbread for longer than is fun. This is also less messy, so I much prefer it.

I decorated my house with icing swirls, and for the roof they’re giant chocolate buttons! You just stick them to the roof, and dust with icing sugar, and they look just like roof tiles.

Note: If you're decorating alone, you can decorate the house before assembly, which is what I did here:




This is a really fun bake, so give it a go :D The gingerbread itself is very simple to make, and the nicest dough to work with as it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin/surface!







Ingredients:

For the gingerbread:

  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 100g golden syrup
  • 600g plain flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the decorations:

  • 2 big bags (around 130g each) giant chocolate buttons
  • 250g royal icing (I use Tate’s royal icing for speediness)
  • Smarties
  • Around 10 coloured boiled sweets (for the stain glass windows)

For the caramel:
  • 100g granulated  sugar

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/gas mark 6. Line the base of a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

2. In a large saucepan melt the butter with the brown sugar and golden syrup. Stir until all of the butter has melted.


3. Take the pan off the heat, and sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and ground ginger. Work with a spoon until a solid mass of dough is formed. Leave to cool slightly, whilst you cut out your templates.



4. Split the dough into three of approximately the same size.

5.  Roll out the first third of dough to about 3mm thickness. Press the front template onto the dough, cut around, then move the dough carefully onto the prepared sheet. Repeat for the back of the house. Cut out the windows. 

6. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until the edges are starting to go golden. Take out of the oven, place the template on again and trim to size. Leave to cool then move to one side.

7. Whilst baking, unwrap the boiled sweets, and use a food processor or rolling pin to crush to a fine powder.

8. Once the sides have finished baking, sprinkle the crushed boiled sweets into the window holes and return to the oven for 1-2 minutes (until the sweets are bubbling). Don’t overfill the windows, or they will leak onto the walls. Repeat for the front of the house if you have put a window in. 

7. Roll out the next piece of dough, and cut out the front and back of the house. Cut out the window and door for the front piece. Bake for 7- 8 minutes. When they come out of the oven, trim to the size of the template as previously.

8. Fill in the window with the remaining crushed sweets and return to the oven for 1-2 minutes until bubbling. Take out of the oven,  and leave to cool. 

9. Roll out the final piece of dough, and cut out the roof portions. Bake for 7-8 minutes, trim to size, then leave to cool.

10. With the remnants of the dough, roll out and cut out the porch roof and walls. Bake for 7-8 minutes, trim, then leave to cool.

11. Once cool, make the caramel. In a saucepan heat up the sugar, without stirring. Keep the pan on a low heat, and swirl the pan occasionally. If any sugar crystals are on the walls of the pan, carefully brush down using a pastry brush. Leave boiling away until a medium caramel colour is achieved. Turn off the heat. If at any point the caramel has thickened too much to be used, reheat gently.

12. Make up the royal icing by adding about a teaspoon of water to the icing sugar, and beating until a thick dripping consistency is achieved – add water by drops if needed. Spread lightly onto a cake board.

13. Pour a little syrup over the base of the front of the house. Quickly stick into the board/icing.

14. Dribble the caramel down the sides and over the base of one of the sides, and stick it to the front , so that the side touches the backside of the front piece. Hold it for a few seconds until the caramel sets. Repeat for the back piece and other side.

15. Once all set, stick one half of the roof to the house by dribbling caramel over the top of that half of the house. Hold the roof on to the house for at least 20 seconds – make sure the caramel has completely set. Ideally have someone hold this roof half whilst you stick the second half to the house.

16. When sticking the second roof piece to the house, also dribble caramel onto the seam of the roof, and hold until set.

17. For the porch dab the bottoms of the porch walls with caramel then place in front of the door. At an angle, stick the porch roof to the porch walls and roof.
Once fully set it’s time to decorate!

18. Put the tiles on the roof by piping icing onto the backs of the chocolate buttons, then placing on the roof, overlapping each line.

This roof was decorated pre-assembly, but it works just
as well doing once assembled


19. Use the rest of the royal icing to pipe decorations over the rest of the cake. Embellish with smarties or other sweets.

20. Dust with icing sugar.

Enjoy!






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Friday, 18 December 2015

Hidden Design Igloo Cake



I saw this cake on a Christmas advert this year, and had to give it a go myself. It's a lemon and chocolate hidden design cake, looking from the outside like an igloo, but when you cut into it, you see the cute face of a penguin. My only regret is that I didn't have black fondant icing to make my own mini penguins (sob). 

Sorry for there not being too many pictures - I honestly expected the cake to fail completely on my first attempt...

Makes one big 23cm cake

Ingredients:

For the lemon madeira cake:
  • 175g softened butter or margarine
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 4 eggs
  • Zest from 1 lemon

For the chocolate cake:
  • 80g softened butter or margarine
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 95g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 25g ground almonds
  • Zest from 1 orange

For the filling/frosting:
  • 100g softened butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

For the marshmallow fondant:
  • 200g white marshmallows
  • 360g icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water


Method:

1. Make the lemon madeira cake. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/ gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of a 23cm circular cake tin, and place 4 paper cases into a deep muffin tin.

2. Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Fold in the self raising flour and ground almonds. As soon as no more speckles of flour can be seen, take out 4 tablespoons, and pour the rest into the prepared tin.

5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until lightly golden and there is a crack across the top of the cake. Leave in the cake tin for a few minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool fully.

6. Take 1 tablespoon of the 4 tablespoons of reserved mixture, and place in a small bowl. Add orange food colouring (concentrated gel, not the water-based liquid if possible).

7. To the remaining 3 tablespoons, add black food colouring (you may need to add quite a lot of it to get the strong black colour needed.

8. Place the orange cake mix into one of the paper cases, and divide the black mixture between the remaining three cases. Bake for 20 minutes, until firm to the touch.

9. Make the chocolate cake. This is essentially a cocoa madeira cake.  Grease and line the base of a 23cm loose bottomed cake tin. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. 

10. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

11. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder. Add the orange zest and fold in until no more flour/cocoa is visible and the mixture is a deep chocolate colour.

12. Pour into a prepared 23cm circular cake tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until springy to the touch, and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

13. Make the marshmallow fondant. In a large microwave-safe bowl, add the marshmallows and 1 tsp water. Microwave in bursts, checking every 10-20 seconds, until melted.

14. Add half of the icing sugar and stir in (you may get covered in icing sugar if you are over-zealous with the beating at first).

15. Add the other half of the icing sugar, and bring the mixture to a stiff consistency (it will feel similar to store-bought fondant, but taste 10 times better).

16. Knead until smooth, then set aside.

17. Make the buttercream. Put the softened butter in a bowl, then sift in the icing sugar. Add the lemon juice and beat until smooth. Set aside.

18. Once the cakes have baked, chill the layers for about an hour until cold.

19. Take the lemon madeira cake out of the fridge, and slice horizontally into three.

20. To the bottom layer, cut out  a circle in the centre of the cake about 5cm in diameter.

21. To the middle layer, cut out a circle roughly equidistant from the edge of the cut of the middle layer and the outside of the cake. Only make it about 2cm in diameter (see diagram).




22. Place the chocolate sponge on a cake board.

23. Spread a small layer of the buttercream on the top of the sponge, then add the bottom layer of sponge. 

24. Slice off the bottom from the orange cupcake, and press this into the  central hole made in the bottom layer.


25. Very gently, spread another layer of buttercream on the cake (try not to disturb the cake underneath). Add the middle layer of sponge.

26. Break up the black sponge into pieces and press around the circle - make sure there is a tight fit. You should have some spare black sponge (which will be used for the door).

27. Spread another thin layer of buttercream, then top with the final layer of cake.

28. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Trim the top and sides of the cake to make it rounded (like a hemisphere).

29. Spread the remaining buttercream over the cake (this will act as glue for the marshmallow fondant, as well as giving beautiful lemon flavour to the cake).

30. Roll out the fondant to about 3 mm thickness. Reserve around a 10cm square for the igloo door. Drape the rest over the cake.

31. With the reserved square, make the igloo door. Roll out the remaining fondant into a sausage shape. Curve it so it goes back on itself (it is the outline of a door). Stick to the front of the cake. Use the remaining black cupcake to fill the door in.

32. Use a blunt knife to make brick outlines on the igloo. This wasn’t my neatest work I’ll admit – next time I make it it will be pristine!


33. Dust with icing sugar.

34. Enjoy!






You could even make little penguins out of black, white and orange fondant – they’d be super cute J
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Sunday, 13 December 2015

Mulled Wine

Here's a very simple recipe to keep you going until my more complex upcoming posts. Look forward to a very special hidden design cake in the next few days ;)

Last week we went to the Manchester Christmas Markets - if you haven't been and live in the north of England, I would highly recommend going. It's my favourite Christmas market, with hundreds of stalls - so much food to choose from, and we had some delicious English, German and Italian sweets (some of which are on my list of things to bake). It was a cold day so we had some special mulled wine, and it was so fantastic we decided to make our own.

Here’s my exceptionally easy recipe. You may need to alter the amount of sugar depending on your preference/the sweetness of the wine bought.

Makes around 1.5 litres

Ingredients:
  • 2 bottles red wine
  • 3 satsumas, segmented
  • 6 cloves
  • 6 cardamom pods, bruised (to open them up)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Handful of juniper berries
  • 60g sugar

Method:

1. Pour the wine into a large saucepan.

2. Add all of the other ingredients, and bring to a simmer (lightly boiling).

3. Simmer (but don’t boil!) for 20 minutes. Strain (to remove the spices).

4. Serve hot. Enjoy!
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Monday, 30 November 2015

Mince Pie Honeycomb Crunchies



Here's my first non-traditional bake for the season - combining two of my loves, mince pies and honeycomb crunchies :)
For the mincemeat, either buy a good quality jar or follow my simple recipe here

Makes 16 bars/squares

Ingredients:

For the honeycomb:

  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 75g caster or granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the chocolate:

  • 250g milk chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 120g butter

For the pastry/shortbread:

  • 60g plain flour
  • 30g cornflour
  • 60g butter
  • 30g caster sugar
To finish:
  • 150g good quality mincemeat
  • 50g white chocolate


Method:

1. Make the pastry. Preheat the oven to 170c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of a 20 x 20cm cake tin.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift in the plain and cornflour and bring the mixture together with your hands, until no more flour is visible. Shape into a ball - try not to overwork the pastry.

3. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

4. Roll out to about 1/2cm thickness and place in the cake tin - the shape doesn't matter as you will be breaking it into shards (to depict the deconstructed mince pie pastry).

The pastry before baking
5. Bake for 20 minutes until the sides are starting to go slightly golden. Take out of the oven and leave to cool fully on a wire rack.
The pastry after baking


6. Make the honeycomb. Grease and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Have a wire whisk and bicarbonate of soda close to you and a saucepan.

7. In this saucepan, heat the golden syrup and sugar together. Stir until the sugar has melted, then leave the mixture to boil (without stirring). Keep on a low-medium heat until the honeycomb mixture is becoming a deep caramel colour (about 5 minutes). Swirl the pan occasionally to prevent burnt spots from forming.

Stir whilst the sugar is melting (i.e no big lumps of sugar are visible)

Leave boiling...

Until this colour is reached


8. As soon as the deep caramel colour develops, take off the heat, add the bicarbonate of soda, and whisk. The mixture will bubble up a lot so be very careful! After around 4 whisks around the pan, pour onto the prepared baking tray.


9. Leave for 30 minutes to set.

10. Make the chocolate. In a saucepan melt the butter, golden syrup, and chocolates together. Once the mixture is smooth, take off the heat.



11. To assemble, line a sandwich box or 20x20cm cake tin with clingfilm. Break the pastry and honeycomb into shards. In a large bowl, combine the pastry and honeycomb shards and mincemeat. 

12. Pour over 2/3 of the chocolate. Stir to fully combine all of the ingredients, then pour into the prepared tin. Top with the remaining third of chocolate.

13. Cover and refrigerate for around 1 hour until set. If you are in a hurry, freezing for 15 minutes will reach the same result.

14. Melt the white chocolate by placing squares in a bowl, and microwaving in 20 second bursts (at full speed). Once melted, pour into a piping bag. Pipe horizontal lines over the mixture, then use the back of a spoon to drag lines vertically though the white chocolate. This creates the feathering effect. 

15. Refrigerate again for  10 minutes. Cut into bars/squares.



16. Enjoy!


Got any Christmas recipes you'd like me to try? Message me here or send me an email. I love baking so I'll try anything!
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