Archive of ‘Baking’ category

Easy Peasy Mince Pies

I love homemade mince pies, shop bought ones are always disappointing, too much filling and horrible dry pastry. Mince pies are also very satisfying to make, they seem like a big achievement but they can be really easy.

I was given a jar of homemade mincemeat which went into these pies, it was much lovelier than shop bought – not too sweet, boozy and well spiced.

The pastry contains no liquid, just butter, flour and sugar. A lot of butter, which is what makes it stick together. The resulting pastry case is very close to shortbread but crisper and sweeter. I think these took me just over an hour to make, most of the time was spent because I had to bake in two batches.

They are not the prettiest mince pies ever, not neat but what I like to call ‘rustic’. They taste brilliant though, which is what matters!

I played around with the mincemeat, the first batch had pure mincemeat but the second I added some chopped hazlenuts and grated apple (spotted that tip on Kirstie and Phil’s Christmas) which added lovely texture and also meant I could eke out the mincemeat more.

Makes approximately 16 – 18 mince pies
adapted from BBC Good Food

225g very cold butter
350g plain flour
100g granulated or caster sugar
1 jar (about 300g) mincemeat
egg or milk to brush over tops

Add your flour to a large mixing bowl, then grate in all of your butter. Grating cold butter means that you have finer strands in your flour which allows you to incorporate it better. Rub into the flour til you have a texture like fine crumble. Mix in your sugar and start to knead into a dough, the butter will be warmer now and so you will be able to work into a dough. Try not to add any liquid as your pastry will shrink in the oven later on.
Once it starts to form knead briefly and it is ready to use.

Preaheat oven to 200c (180c fan) or gas mark 6.
Lightly grease a nonstick cup tin, you don’t have to but I wasn’t going to trust my tin entirely after last year!
To form the bottoms you can either form walnut sized pieces of dough, flatten and then spread out into each cup to form a base. Or you can roll out the dough carefully (using plenty of flour) and use pastry cutters. I found the pastry cutters a better method although a little more time consuming. Form tops using pastry cutters or small sized balls squashed out.
You can also go for a lattice effect (which may look neater than mine, I am sure) or top with chopped nuts – both of which are delicious.

Brush the tops with beaten egg or milk, bake for 20 minutes til golden brown.
Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes before taking them out of the tins.

Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes – Gluten Free

These are properly syrupy, sticky and sweet cupcakes with a lovely lemon tang – I didn’t start out intending for them to be gluten free but they are which is a great bonus! I made them by replacing the flour for ground almonds – which makes the cakes light and slightly nutty as well as gluten free.

I sprinkled the cupcakes with sugar before baking for an extra crisp top, and then drizzled them with a generous amount of syrup when the came out of the oven.

Makes 12 muffins / large cupcakes

175g unsalted butter
200g sugar
200g ground almonds
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons
1 heaped teaspoon of baking powder
3 eggs

Cream the butter and sugar together til well combined, then whisk in eggs, fold in almonds, zest and baking powder. You can add a dash of vanilla extract here too.  Spoon into cupcake cases, leaving about 1cm from the top of the case. Sprinkle each cake with sugar, be generous!

Bake in the oven for 10 – 15mins til cooked through, they will be squidger than normal cakes but they will be cooked through. They won’t rise to a dome like a flour cake either, mainly cos of the sugar topping too, but the baking powder will help them along a little bit.

for the drizzle:
juice of 2 lemons
approx 3-4 tablespoons of sugar

mix the drizzle ingredients together til you have a consistency like double cream, set aside while the cupcakes cook. as soon as the cupcakes come out prick them a few times each with a fork, and then drizzle some of the syrup over the top.

Leave to cool and then eat! These are so soft and syrupy that they make a lovely pudding with some creme fraiche or ice cream.

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

I have been a bit quiet on the food blogging front lately, I have been baking and making new things but the dark evenings are making food blogging difficult. There have been rhubarb buttermilk cakes, cupcakes, a couple of tarte tatins and the best custard ever, but sadly my camera wasn’t a guest at these baking sessions!

These cinnamon roll cupcakes are a little bit different, and I couldn’t wait to try them. So I had a day off and the light was good, perfect!

I’ve never been much of a fan of cinnamon rolls, often they are dry and the cinnamon far too over powering- and also covered in sickly icing which ruins the pastry. I always thought them hard to make because of making a dough and making them cook through just right.

I spotted a couple of cinnamon cupcake recipes whilst googling due to cravings, and they seemed easy and well… ever so cute.
It is not a cupcake as such, it is just cooked in a cupcake tin with liners. This means each roll cooks quickly and you have instant individual portions. Because the rolls are squished up nicely in the cake liner they rise upwards and you have lots of pretty little rolls.

The recipe itself is fairly easy – you need time to wait around for it to prove and rest and you need to make sure you work it to a nice soft dough. After the first prove and the first rest you spread a wonderful mix of cinnamon, lots of sugar and butter onto a rolled out rectangle. Once rolled up and chopped into pieces you prove once more and bake in the oven. The cinnamon sugar crisps up on top and inside it caramelises for a lovely gooey caramel surprise.

You will eat at least two of these in a row when they are still warm from the oven, promise you.

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes
Makes about 12 – 14 rolls/cupcakes

for dough
1/2 pack of instant yeast (about 3 g)
1/4 cup of  granulated sugar divided into two
1/2 cup warm milk (whole or semi skimmed)
2 tbsp melted butter
1 egg
pinch salt
2 cups of strong white bread flour
dash of cinnamon

for cinnamon sugar filling
1/2 cup of granulated or brown sugar
1 heaped tablespoon of cinnamon
approx 3 tbsp softened butter / 25g

Dissolve the yeast and half the sugar in the warm milk (whisking helps it combine), leave for 10 minutes til it is foamy.
Then add in your eggs, melted butter, rest of the sugar and the salt. Mix well then sift in your flour and cinnamon. Mix until it becomes more dough like and then knead for a few minutes til you have a soft and smooth dough. Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour to 1 hr 30 mins – until the dough has doubled in size.

After the first prove turn the dough out on to a board, roll it in to a rough rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Leave to rest uncovered for 10 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400f / 200c / gas mark 6.

Roll out your dough til it is about 1/2 in thick, you want it to be rectangular so cut off the edges to form a rectangle – you can use the trimmings to make some more rolls after the first batch.

Mix together your cinnamon sugar filling in a small bowl then spread the mixture over the rectangle, leaving about 1 cm from the edge of the dough. If you have any leave over dough trimmings leave some sugar mix to spread on that.

Carefully roll your dough and sugar mix in to a sausage shape, cut in to 12 pieces.
Fit them snugly into some cupcake cases in a cupcake tin, you want big muffin/cupcake sized tin and cases rather than small fairy cake type ones.

Cover the cupcake tin with a tea towel and leave to prove for 30 minutes.
Once proved bake in the oven for 10 minutes til the dough is cooked through and the sugar bubbling away. Keep an eye on it as the sugar can burn quickly – some of mine caught slightly because I got distracted with jewellery things 😉

Leave to cool for a bit before eating, they’ll be very hot.
You can also add in a cream cheese or simple caramel frosting, but they are just as good on their own!

Ginger Molasses Cupcakes – Happy National Cupcake Week!

Happy National Cupcake Week everyone!

I believe this week is just promotional for a baking magazine but it is a good enough excuse for me to bake cupcakes, so yay!

As the weather is getting colder and Autumn is approaching I thought I’d make something comforting and spicy. I had some muscovado molasses sugar in the cupboard and ginger seemed like a good match, a bit like sticky toffee pudding without the dates. I have iced the cupcakes with a light lemon cream frosting which goes really well against the rich sponge.

Ginger Molasses Cupcakes

 Makes 12 large cupcakes

100g butter, softened
175g dark muscovado or muscovado molasses sugar
2 eggs
dash of vanilla extract
zest of half a lemon – optional
175g self raising flour
175ml buttermilk or whole milk
1 heaped teaspoon of ground ginger – I opted for ground as I didn’t want stringy bits of fresh ginger in my cakes.

Mix together your butter and sugar until fully combined, you may need to blend it slightly to combine as the sugar is thicker and denser. Whisk in your eggs one by one using a hand whisk or an electric one. Then add in the vanilla, ginger and lemon if using.
Alternately add a small amount of your flour (sifted in) and buttermilk/milk til all of it is used up.

Fill cupcake cases up 1cm from the top, you want nice full cupcakes, and bake in a preheated medium oven for 15-20minutes until cooked through.

Light Lemon Cream Icing

Ices 12 cupcakes

100ml of double cream
juice of one lemon
3 tabelspoons of icing sugar

Whisk your cream with an electric whisk until it forms soft peaks, then slowly with a hand whisk combine in your icing sugar and lemon juice. Taste for sweetness/lemonness, add more to your taste.
Chill in the fridge until the cupcakes are ready to ice. These cupcakes are best iced just before you eat them so the cakes don’t get soggy. The icing will keep in a bowl in the fridge for a couple of days so you can ice as you go!
I topped mine with some cute little blackberries that I picked in my garden, they worked really well with the creamy gingery cupcake.

Yum! I hope you bake something yummy for national cupcake week.


ps – apologies for the quality of the pics, it is getting dark in the evenings! 🙁

Spiced One Bowl Brownies

I have encountered and made many brownie recipes, each one different from the next in technique and flavour. I like them with coffee, with nuts, even with bacon, but sometimes I want them to be quick and easy – because everyone needs brownies in a hurry sometimes.

These recipes require something which I don’t normally ever use in baking – a microwave. The butter and chocolate is melted in the microwave for a couple of minutes and then the other ingredients stirred in one by one.

I’ve adapted the recipe to include some spices (something that feels very autumnal!) – ginger, cinnamon and smoked paprika – trust me the smoked paprika is good.

I much prefer very gooey brownies but my husband prefers his more like a moist cake – these are more of a cakey brownie with a lightly crisped top. If you like gooeyness then use about 50g less of the flour.

Spiced One Bowl Brownies
adapted from all recipes

NB  – I made this recipe again but with only 75g of flour and 25g cocoa powder, it gave a gooier brownie with a crisper top, good if you like them this way!

100g good quality dark chocolate (70%), broken in to pieces
70g butter
100g sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinamonn
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Preheat your oven to 400f, 200c or gas mark 6

Put the butter and chocolate into a large microwavable bowl, microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Remove from the microwave and stir together til the chocolate is completely melted in with the butter.
Stir in sugar til combined.
Stir in your eggs one by one and then add in your vanilla.
Sift in your flour, baking powder and spices, fold in to combine.

Pour into a greased and lined, or non stick, square 9inch pan. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until just done – your knife should come out with a few crumbs when inserted – the great thing about brownies is that it isn’t a disaster if they are underdone because it equals more gooeyness!

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