Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christmas Baking: Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes

There are approximately eleven days, fifteen hours, nine minutes and twenty eight seconds until Christmas Day.

That sentence will either fill you with a cold-sweated, panicked dread or result in a excitable yelp of 'Ding Dong!' followed by 'Merrily on High' possibly accompanied by a dance of pure, unadulterated child-like joy.

I'm firmly in the latter camp- as evidenced by my rather festive-fueled next seven days. This week I'm attending two work Christmas 'dos', two Carol services, one Christmas market, one Christmas lunch, one showing of 'It's a Wonderful Life', buying the very last of the presents, eating approximately twelve Mince Pies and fourteen satsumas, finishing off another seven days worth of advent calendar without sharing any with my husband and decorating one Christmas Cake (design yet to be confirmed; please suggest any answers on the back of a postcard Christmas Card).

And definitely tucking into one or two of these festive little cupcakes, inspired by a favourite warming drink available in most high street coffee shops this time of year:

Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:
175g unsalted butter
175g soft brown sugar
3 large eggs
175g self-raising flour
2 tsps ground ginger
0.5tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp of milk, if needed

For the frosting:

150g icing sugar
75g softened butter
2 tsp instant coffee granules mixed with 1 tbsp boiling water
Edible glitter and crystallised ginger to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Prepare the baking tray with twelve cupcake cases
2. To make the cupcakes: cream together the butter and sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a tbsp of flour if the mixture begins to curdle.
3. Sift in the flour and spices and fold together. Add the milk if needed to ensure a 'dropping' consistency'
4. Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and risen. Set aside on a cooling rack to cool
5. To make the icing: Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl and beat in the butter and coffee. Pipe over the cooled cupcakes and decorate with a little golden shimmer and crystallised ginger

Baker's notes...

  • I added a little extra Christmasssy sparkle to the top of the cupcakes with some gold shimmer from Waitrose
  • Yep, you read it right, there is 2 tsps of ground ginger in the recipe- to ensure the flavour is really enjoyed
  • The BBC have a lovely recipe for a salted caramel icing to add to their gingerbread cupcake recipe

    Tuesday, 9 December 2014

    Save The Children Christmas Jumper Day: Gingerbread Jumper Biscuits

    At this time of year, 95% of the time you'll find me (greedily) indulging in my eighth mince pie of the day, warming up another (enormous) vat of mulled wine and singing along (badly) to 'Good King Wencesles'. All the while dressed in a Christmas jumper, my uniform every December.

    And this year there's an even better excuse to wear your favourite Christmas Jumper: Save the Children are calling on everyone to 'Make the World Better With a Sweater'. This Friday, 12th December 2014, don your snazziest,  festive jumper and spread the jumper joy. 

    Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day is now in its third year and, thanks to fantastic supporters popping on their pullovers up and down the nation, they've raised more than £1.6 million to date. They're asking grown-ups for a suggested donation of £2 and schools and children for £1. The money raised will help save lives; just £2 could pay for potentially life-saving antibiotics to treat three babies with infections.

    Jumper in the wash? Get creative: Save The Children asked if I'd donate a jumper recipe and you'll find the Gingerbread Biscuit Jumper recipe right here. Other great ideas include knitting mini Christmas jumper bunting and crafting Christmas jumper cards


    Please do wear a woolly or bake a jumper biscuit and spread the jumper joy this December, all the while raising vital funds for a very important charity. Happy baking!

    Many thanks,

    Kate x

    Thursday, 4 December 2014

    Christmas Baking: Festive Almond, Orange and Pistachio Biscotti

    A couple of weeks back I was invited by Argos to film a few fun, family friendly and fabulously tasty Christmas recipes. 

    The third and final in the series are these Festive Almond, Orange and Pistachio Biscotti. The perfect festive foodie gift for all those who share my sweet tooth!

    Festive Almond, Orange and Pistachio Biscotti

    200g plain flour
    50g ground almonds
    2 level tsp baking powder
    2 tsp mixed spice
    150g caster sugar 
    Zest of 1 orange
    2 eggs, beaten
    50g flaked almonds
    50g shelled pistachios
    50g candied orange peel

    1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
    2. Put the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, spice and sugar in a large bowl and mix together. Stir in the zest and beaten eggs and, using your hands, bring the dough together. Knead the dough until well combined- it will initially appear very dry but will soon combine together. Work in the almonds, pistachios and peel.
    3. Divide the dough into two and roll each ball into a long sausage shape. Place on the baking sheets and bake for 25-30 minutes until risen and firm to touch. Remove from the oven and, after a few minutes, once cool enough to handle, cut the dough into 1 cm biscuits, on the diagonal. 
    4. Turn the oven down to 140C/120Cfan/Gas Mark 1. Lay the biscuits flat and bake for a further fifteen minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the biscuits over and bake for another 15 minutes. The biscuits will be golden and dry. 
    5. Once cooled completely, store in an airtight box for up to a month

    These videos were produced in association with Argos. Many of the equipment used on-set can be found at Argos, including a range of electric cookers, including integrated appliances, the Dualit toaster and even the cheery apron.

    This post is in collaboration with Argos. 

    Tuesday, 2 December 2014

    Christmas Baking: Christmas Tree Chocolate Brownies

    A couple of weeks back I was invited by Argos to film a few fun, family friendly and fabulously tasty Christmas recipes. 

    The second in the series are these Christmas Tree Chocolate Brownies

    Chocolate Brownie Christmas Trees

    For the Brownie Trees:
    100g unsalted butter
    150g dark chocolate
    100g caster sugar
    150g dark muscovado sugar
    2 large eggs
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    100g plain flour
    30g cocoa powder
    0.5tsp baking powder

    To decorate:
    100g icing sugar, sifted
    Few drops of green food colouring
    Selection of candy decorations
    12 Candy canes

    1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4. Line a 20cm round tin with baking parchment
    2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring regularly
    3. Whisk the eggs until pale and fluffy. Add the sugars and whisk until the mixture thickens and the sugars have dissolved. Fold in the melted chocolate and vanilla extract
    4. Sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and fold until the mixture is smooth
    5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes. There should be a light, springy crust on top but avoid overcooking; the centre should remain gooey. Once cooled, cut into eight slices/ triangles to form the Christmas Trees
    6. Sift the icing sugar with enough water and a few drops of food colouring to create a thin paste. Pipe or spoon across the cakes. Sprinkle with the candy decorations and insert a candy cane into each ‘tree’ to form a trunk

    Happy festive baking!

    The videos were produced in association with Argos. The equipment used on-set can be found at Argos: Dualit toasters, spacious larder fridgesbuilt-in integrated appliances like these practical and easy-to-access ovens.

    This post was produced in association with Argos

    Monday, 24 November 2014

    Chocolate Christmas Pudding Biscuits for Waitrose #bakeitforward

    It's not too early to start Christmas baking is it? No? You're sure? Good. Tis the season to be jolly merrily baking as the carolers, I'm quite certain, will soon start caroling. 

    I reckon as soon as the Christmas adverts have become water-cooler discussions, work Christmas do dates have been set and school assemblies are full of Nativity auditions then my festive biscuit cutters can be dusted down. 

    Talking of Christmas adverts, one of my favourite (well, it is baking themed) is the Waitrose ad, which follows the story of Ellie, a school girl baking gingerbread for her school fete. As part of the campaign, Waitrose are calling on budding bakers across the UK to bake something sweet to share with others during this season of goodwill. To take part bake something special for a friend, share your photos using the #BakeItForward hashtag and nominate them to do the same. There is lots of great baking inspiration and festive recipes on the Waitrose website. Every day Waitrose will surprising people involved with festive treats, including hampers and bottles of champagne.

    As part of #bakeitforward Waitrose invited me to bake something special. As if I need an excuse to bake some Christmassy treats! I baked these warmly spiced Christmas Pudding biscuits, studded with boozy dried fruit and covered in indulgent dark chocolate for my sister, who loves Christmas just as much as I do!

    Chocolate Christmas Pudding Biscuits

    2 tsps brandy 
    50g sultanas
    50g dried cranberries
    50g mixed peel
    125g melted butter 
    125g light brown soft sugar
    1 large egg
    225g plain flour
    1 tsp mixed spice
    1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    Zest of 1 lemon
    Zest of 1 orange
    50g blanched almonds, roughly chopped

    150g dark chocolate, melted
    100g ready to roll white icing
    50g ready to roll green icing
    25g ready to roll red icing

    1. Put the sultanas, cranberries and mixed peel in a bowl with the brandy. Stir, cover with cling film and put in the fridge to steep overnight*. When ready to use, strain off any remaining liquid. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F. Grease and line two baking trays with baking paper
    2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until combined
    3. Fold in the flour, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda until a dough forms, stir in the dried fruit, zests and almonds
    4. Using a tablespoon drop rounded balls of dough onto the baking sheets, ensuring each cookie is well spaced as apart. There is no need to flatten the dough
    5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden 
    6. Once cooled, dip into the melted chocolate and place aside to set. 
    7. Use a daisy biscuit cutter to cut out the 'Christmas Pudding brandy cream' decoration from the white icing. Using a small holly cutter, cut two holly leaves for each biscuit. Form two small berries out of the red icing for each biscuit. Continue, until all are decorated.

    Happy baking! 

    Baker's notes...

    • * This is step is optional but hey, it is Christmas...
    • You can use a combination of various dried fruits and nuts, simply raid your storecupboard or use any ingredients left over from Stir Up Sunday
    • With thanks to Waitrose, who sent me a bundle of baking goodies and vouchers to partake in and promote #bakeitforward 

    Wednesday, 19 November 2014

    Christmas Baking: Mini Chocolate Christmas Pudding Bites

    A couple of weeks back I was invited by Argos to film a few fun, family friendly and fabulously tasty Christmas recipes. 

    The first in the series are these Mini Chocolate Christmas Pudding Bites. Perfect little after-dinner and party treats, they are also a very delicious way of using up any leftover Christmas Pudding this festive season.

    Mini Chocolate Christmas Pudding Bites Makes 10 

    For the bites:

    50g finely chopped dark chocolate

    175g cooled Christmas pudding
    1 tablespoon golden syrup 

    For the decoration:

    50g dark chocolate

    finely chopped 1 tsp vegetable fat e.g. ‘Trex’
    50g white ready to roll icing
    50g ready to roll red fondant icing
    50g ready to roll green fondant icing 

    1. Grease and line a baking sheet

    2. To make the bites: in a heatproof bowl suspended above a pan of simmering water gently melt the dark chocolate
    3. Crumble the cooled Christmas pudding into a large mixing bowl, add the golden syrup and stir to combine
    4. Pour in the melted dark chocolate and stir together

    5. Using a pair of disposable vinyl gloves roll small lumps of mixture into balls, approximately 1 inch in diameter and place on the prepared baking tray.
    6. Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge to firm for 20-30 minutes

    7. To decorate: in a heatproof bowl suspended above a pan of simmering water gently melt the dark chocolate together with the tablespoon of vegetable fat (this ensures a smooth dipping chocolate). Once melted, dip the firmed bites into the chocolate and place aside to set
    8. Using a small daisy flower cutter, cut out the ‘brandy sauce’ decoration, one per pudding bite. Place on top of each bite. Form three small ‘berries’ for each bite from the red fondant and two ‘holly leaves’ per bite from the green fondant and use to decorate.

    Happy festive baking!

    The videos were produced in association with Argos, who have a great range of larder fridges such as the one seen in this film. Pop back shortly for the second film in the series.

    This is a collaboration with Argos

    Sunday, 16 November 2014

    Upside Down Caramelised Pear, Chocolate and Almond Cake (Gluten-Free)

    As regular readers will know (hello Mum!) I'm rather partial to an upside down cake. Similar to a crumble cake, it saves fumbling and faffing with piping bags and ornate icings. A simple inversion of the cake tin (but do feel free to be as theatrical as you like; a 'ta-dah!' is optional) and you've a ready- decorated beautiful bake.

    This is a deliciously moist, moreish chocolatey cake with the caramelised pears adding a sweet, fruity twist.