Friday, 30 December 2011

Happy New Year and the easy peasy Cranberry and White Chocolate Party Bites

How will you be waving cheerio to 2011 and celebrating the New Year?

Joining the hundreds of thousands expected to 'ohh' and 'ahhhh' in delight at the London Eye Fireworks Display?

Perhaps getting a head start on the traditional January-hitting-the-gym-thing and running off the Christmas Pud in the annual Nos Galan Race in Mountain Ash?

Or will you be drinking your body weight in celebratory cocktails, one last hurrah before the austerity of a bleak 2012?

Maybe you'll be on the sofa, champers in one hand, a plate of reheated turkey curry in the other, watching Jools and co in the annual Hootenanny?

Quite possibly you're on the guest list for Pippa Middleton's New Year bash and fretting over what to wear to ensure your rear* looks as marginally as good as that of (quoting from the tabloids) 'her Royal Hotness'?

I'm oncall at the hospital all weekend so it'll be a woefully early night, munching on any leftovers and grieving for Christmas. Plus chomping down a few of these, which, incidentally, are the easiest peasiest homemade foodie gift you could possibly present to your party host/Pippa Middleton.

Cranberry and White Chocolate Party Bites
(makes 15)

100g white chocolate
A handful dried cranberries

1. Melt the chocolate either in short 30 second bursts in a microwave or in a bowl suspended over a pan of gently simmering water
2. Pour the chocolate into small silicone cases or moulds
3. Add a few dried cranberries on top and pop in the fridge until set

Baker's notes...
  • This are so easy I feel bad blogging about them. But as I'm too busy catching up on Christmas telly (Downton Abbey! Ab Fab! Strictly Special! The Borrowers! Dr Who!) proper baking will have to wait til the New Year
  • Have a lovely, lovely New Year celebration what ever you may be doing and all the very best for 2012.

* 14 hours may not be enough time, but you could invest in this DVD, The Perfect Pilates Bum, by Margot Campbell, credited with honing Ms Middleton's rear

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Tea Time Treats December : The Round-Up!


Earlier this month we announced our festive December Tea Time Treats theme (CHRISTMAS!!) and you responded in your droves- many, many thanks for each and every entry. Our December Tea Time Treats Table is groaning under the weight of your buttery, boozy mince pies, your classic, crumbly Christmas Cakes, your seasonal, sticky Chutneys, your brilliant, beautiful biscuits, your sugared and spiced stollens, your festive, fruity breads and your cheery, Christmassy much, much more!

Cup of tea at the ready? Here's the round-up!

First off the starting blocks my partner in crime baking challenge, none other than Karen from Lavender and Lovage! Karen has entered this wonderfully spiced and warming Christmas Morning Tea. I for one can't think of a better beverage to open all the presents with come Christmas morning.

Janice, from Farmer Girl's Kitchen made these delicious mince pies from THE recipe book of the year, Dan Lepard's Short and Sweet. No Christmas tea time table would be complete without crumbly, boozy mince pies- many thanks Janice!

Egg Nog and Cranberry and pudding!? Yes, all our Christmas wishes have come true! With thanks to Lisa at Allergy Free Vintage Cooking who has created this scrumptious Cranberry egg nog Bread Pudding. And yep, as the name suggests, this is perfect for guests with dairy, egg or gluten allergies.

Despite initial hesitation about using vegetables in cakes (a suspicion I share!), Privish from Killer on the Plate was enlightened to the finger-licking deliciousness that are Carrot, Cinnamon and Chocolate Cupcakes. Don't they look just great?

cinnamon cake

Now this time of year isn't complete without eating your entire body weight in chocolate. I've no doubt Ramkumari, from Spicy Khana agrees as she's entered this delicious and many-times-attempted-to-reach-perfection homemade chocolate into the challenge.

The second entry from the wonderful Karen at Lavender and Lovage, and part of her most enjoyable advent calender series, are these perfect sparkling orange snowflake cookies

If I could wish for anything in my stocking next year (yep, New Year hasn't arrived and I'm already planning next year's festivities), it would be these awesome Ninja Gingerbread Men Cutters, as featured by The More Than Occasional Baker. These GinjaNinjas are brilliantly fun!

Sometimes, over Christmas, in the midst of all the excitement, the indulgence and the mounds of wrapping paper, you may yearn for nothing more than sitting down with a cup of tea and Working London Mummy has baked the most perfect accompaniment: the traditional Italian Christmas classic that is Panettone. Not just Panttone though, Panettone with chocolate, clementine and walnuts. Anyone for seconds?

This next entry is surely a chocoholics dream festive bake: a Chocolate Orange Yule Log from Mari's World. Many thanks for your scrumptious entry Mari!

The baking bug has firmly bit Gary from Exploits of a Food Nut, for which we at Tea Time Treats are mightily grateful as Gary has baked this sweet, soft and juicy Saffron and Peach Cake... covered with snow!!

Sweet, spicy shortbread is the next entry, from Homemade by Fleur. These Christmas Biscuits, to be given as festive foodie gifts, will no doubt be very, very delightfully received by their recipients

Our next entry comes courtesy of Lottie's World of Cakes and Bakes (a world I would be very much at home in). Lottie has baked the delicious spicy German Christmas biscuit, Lebkuchen, thank you Lottie


You can never eat enough Mince Pies at Christmas. This is one of the many mottos of Tea Time Treats at this time of year. Just as well Cake Fairy Blog has baked these exceedingly scrumptious Cranberry and Apple Mince Pies. And how pretty are the holly tops?

And while we are all enjoying a feast of Mince Pies an excellent tip arrived from A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate who made these delicious Fruit and Nut Mince Pies. The tip? To add not one, but two generous spoonfuls of calvados. A tip we heartily agree with. It is after all Christmas!

A beautiful bake to hang on the Tea Time Treats Christmas Tree comes courtesy of Checky's Kitchen, who has baked these gorgeous Christmas Gingerbread Stars

With Marzipan not being to everyone's taste and Laura from How to Cook Good Food has come up trumps with these delightful bite-sized morsals of Stollen, sans Marzipan! Brilliant!

But for those of us who will happily munch on an entire block of marzipan, Suelle from Mainly Baking has baked these delightful Stollen bars, complete with festive green pistachios and, of course, large chunks of marzipan all the way through

These fabuslously festive and fun cupcakes have been baked by Kentish Keg-Meg; with the juicy red cheery, Rudolph sure does have his shiny nose!

A light, fluffy, yet crumbly pastry for the mince pie is the holy grail of a mince pie baker...and Angela at Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me has been using her recipe for a few years now with great success. Plus check out Angela's blinged-up pies at the end of her post!

Cranberry, raisin, macademia and cinnamon? A cookie could not be more Christmassy! With thanks to The More Than Occasional Baker for generously submitting her second entry to the Tea Time Treats Table

Helen at Fuss Free Flavours has done the hard work for us, and together with a panel of testers (possibly the most festive of panels this side of the Have I got News For You Christmas Special panel) tasted a whole range of ready made Christmas Cake mixes to decide to their favourite. Check out the results here

Delia Classic Christmas Cake - Waitrose - Slice

Phew! Is it time for a cup of tea yet? Yes? Brilliant. Because the next entry, Christmas Ale Fruit Cake, is perfect with a cuppa. And curling up on the sofa with your new Christmas cookbooks infront of a roaring fire. Plus, What I Baked this Weekend has the most brilliantly festive fact on the post that is sure to win you the final round in any Christmas Pub Quiz

Take a much loved tea time treat, add a bit of a festive twist and taa-dah! A star is born! Nope, not just Dom at Belleau Kitchen in his quest for World Domination but his fab Mincemeat Scones!

Rather than the traditional carrot to leave out for Rudolph et al, why not take a leaf from C's brilliant (cook)book and bake up these moist, festive and spicy Rudolph Flapjacks? If I were a reindeer I wouldn't leave behind a single crumb, just like C from Cake, Crumbs and Cooking's colleagues...

Choclette from the wonderful Chocolate Log Blog sent over these orange and chocolate mince pies, declared to be the 'nicest mince pies' Choclette has ever eaten, which doesn't surprise us in the slightest, not least because of the truly inspired addition of Cornish clotted cream

This next entry, a Flourless Orange Cake is described as deliciously chocolatey with fragrance of orange and a hint of spice from the addition of ginger. It comes straight from the oven of Mummy I Can Cook, aka Shu Han. And doesn't the gorgeous picture kinda make you want to lick the screen?!

Willy Wonka eat your heart out as this next recipe is a cheeky twist on the traditional mince pie: the brilliantly inventive Mince Pie Samosas! With many thanks to Lucy 'In the Sky'

Karen, from Lavender and Lovage's third entry are festive spiced fairy a jar! I would be well chuffed to see a jar or two in my stocking

And here's my entry, Christmas Fruit Cup Cakes, made to munch on the journey home for Christmas

Our first Christmassy Cake Pop entry comes courtesy of Tales of Pigling Bland and these delightfully festive Christmas Pudding Cake Pops! They look so delectable, I just don't think I'd be able to stop at one Pop...

Making mince pies for the very first time is Kiki from Kitchen of Kiki...and they tasted great! A big thank you to Kiki for entering these

A savory entry next up, perfect appetizers for a Christmas do! With thanks to Hobby Chef for these Vegetarian Nuggets


This final lovely entry is the second from Garden, Tea and Cakes- and a great gift for any festive party I'm sure you'll agree: Rice Krispie Chocolates!

Thank you again for each and every entry- its been a huge pleasure to receive all these delicious recipes!

Pop over to Karen's wonderful blog, Lavender and Lovage on the 1st January where next month's theme will be revealed.

In the meantime, we wish you a very, very Happy New Year from Tea Time Treats!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Random Recipes: Panna cotta

I'm taking a little break from the leftover turkey today, and the accompanying turkey sweats, to tuck into these Christmas Panna Cottas (Cottas? Cotties? What's the plural please?) in aid of Belleau Kitchen's Random Recipe Challenge.

This month Dom has surpassed himself with the most charitable, yet festive of themes. Summing up what Christmas is all about (kindness towards others, generosity and thoughtfulness as opposed to, say, turkey sweats) the theme is: Make Space for Some Christmas Charity. Dom has asked us to randomly select a recipe from a cookbook we never use which we are then donate to charity.

As I love all my cookbooks, and treasure them as though they are my children (yep, all 35 of 'em), the giving-away-thing was going to be a bit tricky. However, following some negotiation with the lovely Dom it was agreed that I can still enter as I explained I'd just donated to the Guardian Christmas Appeal

And this recipe comes from a book I happily snapped up earlier this year from a charity shop. Brilliant.

Christmas Panna Cotta
(adapted from the Hairy Biker's 12 Days of Christmas; makes 3)

2 gelatine sheets
250ml double cream
2 tbsps caster sugar
half a tsp ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp dark rum

1. Leave the raisins to soak in the rum for half an hour. And have a good glug of the rum yourself; it is afterall Christmas
2. Soak the gelatine according to the packet instructions until soft
3. In a small pan bring the cream, sugar and spices to the boil then simmer for 2-3 mins, gently whisking the whole time until the sugar is dissolved
4. Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine, then dissolve in a cream mixture while off the heat
5. Drain the raisins, add to the mixture
6. Share out the mixture between three ramekins or moulds and leave to cool completely before placing in the fridge to set

Baker's notes...
  • Serve with some seasonal berries for extra festive joy
  • Best eaten on the day of making, but these are perfect prepare-ahead desserts while you slump on the sofa in a blissful tipsy state, half an eye on the telly, leisurely searching for the last Purple Triangle in the almost empty tin of Roses

Friday, 23 December 2011

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Tea Time Treats: Christmas Fruit Cupcakes

Well, it is T - 48 hours to the Big Day and the excitement levels here at What Kate Baked are beyond feverish. Think small child, still believes, staying up beyond bed time and eating all the candy canes on the tree and you may just have a pretty good impression of what it is like to be me right now.

As we head home today for Christmas, a car boot full of presents, warbling along to 'Driving Home for Christmas', the excitement at seeing my family increasing with every mile, we'll be tucking into one or two of these Christmas Fruit Cupcakes.

After a whole month of festive baking (and eating) this very last post before Christmas is my entry to this month's Tea Time Treats Challenge, the baking challenge hosted by myself and the lovely Karen from Lavender and Lovage. We did toy with going a bit left-field, throwing in a curve ball and puzzling everyone with Easter as the theme, but, nah, its ALL about Christmas both on What Kate Baked and over on Lavender and Lovage. Thus, this month's Tea Time Treats Challenge theme is, of course, Christmas.

It just remains for me to thank you for reading What Kate Baked this year and to wish you a most Merry, Merry Christmas.


Christmas Fruit Cupcakes

The recipe is adapted from a recipe in Good Food (December 2009)

200g dark muscovado sugar
175g butter, softened
750g luxury mixed dried fruit
2 tsp grated fresh root ginger
zest of 2 oranges and juice 1 orange
100ml brandy
85g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
3 large eggs, beaten
85g ground almonds
200g plain flour
Half a tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon 

To decorate:

400g ready made marzipan
500g ready made white fondant icing
4 tbsps warmed apricot jam
A selection of coloured fondant icings, silver balls and Christmas cutters

1. Pop the sugar, butter, dried fruit, ginger, zest and orange juice into a large pan, pour over the brandy and slowly bring to the boil, stirring regularly to melt the butter
2. Reduce the heat and bubble gently, stirring ever now and again for ten minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool for thirty minutes
3. Preheat the oven to 150C/130C fan/Gas Mark 2. Stir in the nuts, eggs and almonds into the fruit mixture, sift in the flour, baking powder and spices and stir all together
4. Scoop the cake mix into 12 muffin cases and level the tops. Bake for 40 min until golden and firm to touch. Allow to cool.
5. Roll out the fondant icing and marzipan onto a surface dusted with icing sugar and cut out 12 rounds of each approxiamatel 6 cm in diameter
6. Brush the top of each cake with the warmed jam and gently top with a marzipan round followed by a fondant round and decorate 

Baker's notes...
  • These last for up to 2 weeks stored in a cool, airtight tin
  • As always in the world of What Kate Baked, '2 weeks' really means 2 hours
  • Happy, Happy Christmas!!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Forever Festive Nigella: Christmassy Chocolate Cupcakes

I've been really good this year.

(This isn't a last minute plea to Father Christmas....Honest).

I've been really good and I've eaten every single advent calendar chocolate on the day they were supposed to be eaten.

I can't begin to tell you the willpower required. I can't count the number of times I've been over to the calander and almost opened them all. How I've resisted the chocolates twinkling away under the festive lights I don't know. I swear, in my weaker moments, the little chocolate penguins been whispering 'Eat Me. You know you want to'. 

So, as a reward for my patience and goodwill-towards-my-calendar, I made myself these Christmassy Chocolate Cupcakes. These are also in honour of the last ever Forever Nigella, hosted by Maison Cupcake.

As per the rules of this lovely, lovely challenge, I won't repeat the recipe verbatim, but these are based upon Nigella's Christmas Cupcake recipe, which is found in How to be a Domestic Goddess and also online here.

Baker's notes...
  • Rather than the royal icing topping Nigella suggests, I simply used angel and star Christmas cutters and fondant icing
  • Maybe next year I can persuade someone to buy me this advent calendar, from Harrods. It is the world's most expensive advent calendar, costing a whopping $1million. But at least I won't have the problem of thinking chocolate penguins are talking to me for 24 days... instead I'll just need to figure out how to drive a yacht. 


Sunday, 18 December 2011

What Kate Baked Christmas Carol Service and Cranberry Roulade

Welcome to the annual What Kate Baked Christmas Carol Service. You'll find your song sheets on your chairs. All together now...

Christmas Bakes (sung to the tune of Jingle Bells)

Christmas Bakes, Christmas Bakes,
Baking all the wayyyy....
Oh what fun it is to bake
On this cold and frosty day

Baking festive treats,
In a Christmas mould
To the party we go
Eating all the way

Timers on ovens ring
Making spirits bright
Oh what fun it is to bake a cake
(and eat it all tonight)

Christmas Bakes, Christmas Bakes,
Baking all the wayyyy....
Oh what fun it is to bake
On this cold and frosty day

O come all ye Bakers (sung to the tune of O Come all ye Faithful)

O Come, all ye bakers,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to the kitcccchhh-en
Come and behold it,
Its the Christmas Pudding!

O Come, let us eat it,
O come, let us-ss eat it,
O come, let us-sss eat it,
The Christmmmasss Pudding!


Twelve days of (Baking) Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my greedy tum asked of me: a Christmasss ree-ci-pee

On the second day of Christmas my greedy tum asked of me: two mini mincemeat puddings

On the third day of Christmas my greedy tum asked of me: three gingerbread disasters

On the fourth day of Christmas my greedy tum asked of me: four Christmas Truffles

On the fifth day of Christmas my greedy tum asked of me: five CHRISTMAS CHUTNEYSSS!

On the sixth day of Christmas my greedy tum asked of me: six Mincemeat and Pear Muffins

On the seventh day of Christmas my greedy tum asked of me: seven stollen bites

On the eighth day of Christmas my greedy tum asked of me: eight slices of roulade

One the ninth day of Christmas my greedy tum asked of me: nine orange creams

On the tenth day of Christmas my greedy tum asked of me: ten squares of spicy treacle

On the eleventh day of Christmas my greedy tum asked of me: eleven peppermint creams

On the twelfth day of Christmas my greedy tum asked of me: twelve servings of mulled wine

Thank you. And please take to your seatts and now enjoy a slice of this Cranberry Roulade

Cranberry Roulade

175g plain chocolate, broken into pieces
175g caster sugar
6 eggs, separated
2 level tbsps sieved cocoa 

For the filling:
300ml double cream
150g fresh or frozen cranberries
50g caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas Mark 4. Lightly grease a swiss roll tin and line with baking parchments.
2. Melt the chocolate slowly in a pyrex bowl over a pan of hot water. 
3. Whisk the sugar and egg yolks until light and creamy. Add the cooled chocolate and stir gently until combined
4. Whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until stiff. Stir a spoonful of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, mix gently and then fold in the remaining egg whites and the cocoa powder. 
5. Spoon into the tin and gently level the surface. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until firm to touch
6. Allow the roulade to cool in the tin before turning out onto a large piece of baking parchment, dusted with icing sugar
7. Pop the berries and sugar into a small pan with 2 tbsps of water and heat gently for 10 minutes and allow to cool. 
8. Whip the double cream and spread the cream over the roulade before adding the cranberries on top of the cream
9. Roll the roulade tightly starting with one of the shorter ends and using the baking parchment as guidance
10. Sieve icing sugar over the roulade to finish

Baker's notes...

* I write this as though Mary Berry, THE Mary Berry reads my blog

Thursday, 15 December 2011

DIY SOS: Gingerbread House Disaster

Last year, PB (pre-blogging) I made a Gingerbread House. It was ginormous, more of a mansion, and took A and I the best part of the first three months of the year to eat it.

Following the success of the mansion, this year I decided to dabble in a little property development, and attempt a miniature village.

I think I expanded too soon. After last year's heady optimism about how easy this gingerbread house lark was, this year was, in the words of Craig Revel-Horwood off of Strictly, a 'dissssassstar'. To fix this, I needed the combined efforts of Grand Designs, DIY SOS and...erm... Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen  (Come back! Your crazy shirts are forgiven!).

It took no less than seven attempts, two different types of 'icing glue', several choice,  most un-festive words and I still had what I believe they call in the trade a 'structural deficit':

In other words bloomin' house No 1 collapsed. Was my gingerbread too soft (I'd left it a day before assembling)? Was my icing not thick and 'gluey' enough? Were my walls too wonky? Was it the festive Egg Nog(s) I'd consumed?

I was about to resort to using bloomin' Pritt Stick, when I remembered that actually, often in baking, its the taste that counts. I abandoned the concept of a village of houses and while gingerbread Lawrence surveyed the damage:

(Yes, this really is a sad faced gingerbread Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen):

A and I tucked right in. The gingerbread was real tasty. And this was the recipe:

125g soft unsalted butter
75g dark muscovado sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
100ml golden syrup
375g plain flour
Half a tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
Half a tsp allspice

To decorate the house:
1 pack of royal icing sugar
2 x packets of white chocolate buttons
2 x packets of red Jelly Tots or candy sweets
Edible glitter
Icing sugar

1. Pop the butter and sugar in the food processor and whiz until light and fluffy. Add the egg and golden syrup and whiz again until smooth
2. Add the flour, bicarb, baking powder, spices and a pinch of salt and whiz a third time until it forms a soft dough
3. Knead the dough lightly for a minute or so until smooth and flatten into a disc shape, wrap in clingfilm and chill until firm
4. Make the templates:
2 x roof panels: 6.5cm x 10cm
2 x side walls: 50cm x 10cm
1 x front wall: 7.5cm x 5cm, and an extra 3.5 cm to reach the roof
1 x back wall: 7.5cm x 5cm, and an extra 3.5 cm to reach the roof
5. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas Mark 4 and line 3 large baking sheets with baking paper
6. Roll out the dough roughly 3mm thick and use a knife and the templates to cut out the roof panels and walls
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes and leave to cool
8. Then comes the fun bit....or not so fun bit in my case... Make up the royal icing according to the instructions on the side of the pack and pop in a piping bag. Pipe on the plate 'foundations' to secure the house and then along the edges of the walls and roofs to construct the house
9. When the icing has set, decorate! The white chocolate buttons/roof tiles and the red sweets are stuck down using more royal icing. When you've finished doing your best Lawrence impression, sprinkle generously with icing sugar and leave to set for at least 1 hour before devouring

Baker's notes...
  • I think I need to take some tips from the guys who constructed the World's Largest Gingerbread House. What was their secret? Cement?!
  • It was 23 foot high. I couldn't even construct a gingerbread house 23mm high. 
  • I prefer Mince Pies anyway

Baker's notes...

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Win! Cadbury's Christmas Treasure Box!

Christmas Treasure Box


'tis the season to be jolly eat your entire body weight in chocolate!

Yes! 'Tis Christmas! 

The time of year where it is quite frankly obligatory to eat more in the space of two weeks than you've eaten over the last eleven months combined. When saying 'no thanks, I won't have another slice' is considered blasphemy. When it will be thought poor form if, come January, every single pair of trousers you own aren't horribly tight. Infact, I have it on good authority that the Coalition Government, once they've sorted out the EU, unemployment and the economy will be voting to have 'Festive Gluttony' enshrined in law. Dave and Nick are particularly keen on doling out jail terms if you haven't replaced your breakfast cereal for Mince Pies by 15th December.

It is a time of year What Kate Bakes loves.

And to celebrate I've a Cadbury's Treasure Box to give away to TWO lucky readers.

Just call me Father Christmas.

To enter, simply leave me a comment below telling me which festive foodie item you'll be greedily enjoying the most this Christmas.

Small print:
  • The giveaway will close 21:00 Friday 15th December 2011 in order for the prize to reach the winners by Christmas
  • The winners will be chosen at random from the comments left below
  • All decisions are final, no correspondence will be entered into and there is no cash alternative
  • The winners will be contacted by email 
  • The description of the Treasure Box explains it is 'a great gift to share with family and friends'. What Kate Bakes is absolutely fine if the only person you share it with is...yourself.
  • Good Luck!