Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas Pudding Sundae




Well, hellooooo, did you all have a good Christmas Day?

As you read this post, I'm sure the detritus of Christmas is all around; scrumpled, hurriedly unwrapped paper decorating the living room like confetti, only half of the sparkly lights on the tree still flashing as its quite frankly too much effort to replace the batteries, a discarded tin of Roses, the unwanted coffee creams forlornly piled at the bottom and, no doubt, rather a lot of leftovers.

Here's where I can help. Especially if you have any leftover Christmas Pudding.


Christmas Pudding Sundae

200g leftover Christmas Pud
100g cranberry sauce
2 tbsp mulled wine
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsps. toasted flaked almonds
8 scoops ice cream (I used Carte D'Or Vanilla)

1. Warm through the Christmas Pudding as per the original pudding instructions and spoon between four sundae glasses or pudding bowls
2. Mix the cranberry sauce with the mulled wine and sugar in a small pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring to combine
3. Drizzle the cranberry sauce over the Christmas puddings, add a scoop of ice cream and sprinkle with the almonds
4. Serve immediately

With thanks to Carte D'Or

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Festive Foodie Wish-List: The Best Christmas Presents for the Foodie in Your Life

With just nine days left until Christmas (approximately 104 shopping hours*) I've taken all the joy/despair out of that last minute 'what on earth am I going to get the foodie in my life?!' 
panic. 

You are very welcome. 

* Totally random, made up figure.


I don't think anyone will ask for the receipt if they were to open this beautiful recipe tin on Christmas morning (dotcomgiftshop £9.99)

Keith Brymer Jones Bah Humbug Medium Mug - White

Fans of the Great British Pottery Throw Down will be 'pot-ty' about this festive mug from judge Keith Brymer Jones (£10)

Chocolate obvs isn't just for Christmas, but this scrumptious seasonal offering from Lindt certainly is; I can't imagine it lasting past Boxing Day (£8.99)


Of all the trillion* cookbooks out this year, I reckon this one is the best. Read my review here (Homemade Memories, Kate Doran £18.99)

*Another random, made up figure.

Image result for chocolate guess who

Games and Christmas go together like January and gym membership. Here's a chocolate version of the classic Guess Who? (Selfridges, £12.99)

Image result for waitrose hampers

Tick all the boxes with a Christmas Hamper from Waitrose (£24-400)

Christmas Toast Tea Towel

Someone will have drawn the short straw and have to do the washing up on Christmas day. A festive tea towel will surely help with such matters (Emma Bridgewater £10)

Image result for carluccio's panettone

Pannettone makes a great gift and this enormous, award winning offering from Carluccios is 5kg of pure candied fruit and peel (£65)

Three-month gin journey - gift certificate

In the market to get your recipient absolutely trollyed by 3pm this Christmas? This Three Month Gin Journey Subscription should do the trick (Shaken, £72)

Nordic Ware Chiffon Bundt® Cake Pan


For the baker in your family a Nordic Bake Ware Bundt Tin is always going to garner 'brownie' points (Divertimenti, from £30)

How To Cook Everything A2 Kitchen Print

Want to whip up a curry in a hurry? Can't recall how many eggs matter in a batter? This print will give you the answers to pretty much every cooking query (Paperplane Designs, £18)

Image result for bucks fizz marmalade

Bucks Fizz Marmalade. Festive toast sorted. (Fortnum and Mason, £7.95)

Buy Kikkerland Bear Hug Bottle Opener Online at johnlewis.com

And finally who doesn't need a bear hugging bottle opener in their lives? Exactly. (£9 John Lewis)

PS: I have sent this post to my husband about 34 times.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Piparkakut- Finnish Christmas Gingerbread Biscuits


Its a cliche, I know, but this really is the most wonderful time of the year. No other season can possibly compare to Christmas for the sheer indulgence, tradition and glory of festive food. In which other month does your daily fluid intake consist mostly of fizz and cocktails? Your breakfast involve advent chocolates? Turkey seem quite such a triumphant dinner?

Well, Expedia got in touch recently to ask if I'd take part in their Christmas on A Plate Challenge. This has been running throughout 2015 and challenges bloggers to create a meal or recipe based on an Expedia holiday destination. With Christmas but a length of tinsel away, I've chosen to bake a Finnish recipe. Now if you google 'Finland', 'Christmas' and 'recipes', you'll soon discover the Fins traditionally enjoy fish roe, liver and an awful lot of beetroot. Not necessarily on one plate, and all delightful I'm sure, but not for this sweet-toothed baking blogger. Then I read about these glorious Piparkakut biscuits. Crunchy, warmly spiced with ginger, clove and cinnamon, with a touch of orange zest, these make perfect presents at this time of year. These first appear around Finnish Independence Day on 6th December, giving plenty of time to perfect the biscuits before The Big Day itself.

I've been munching on these as we begin to wrap our presents, warbling along to classic Christmas tunes; all I need is an an extra large glass of glogg to truly enter the Finnish Cheistmas spirit!



Piparkakut- Finnish Christmas Gingerbread Biscuits

Makes 10-12 biscuits

75g unsalted butter
50g dark muscovado sugar
50g golden syrup
160g plain flour
0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
0.5 tsp ground clove

50g icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line 2-3 baking trays with baking parchment.
2. Over a gentle heat, melt the butter, sugar and syrup, stirring occasionally until completely melted
3. Remove from the heat and mix in the flour, bicarb and spices to form a stiff dough. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
4. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll to a thickness of around 5mm. Use a selection of festive biscuit cutters to cut out your biscuit shapes and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Bake in batched for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown
5. When completely cool decorate with the icing: sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually add a little water to form a thick paste. Pipe or spoon the icing over the biscuits



Baker's notes...

  • If you wish to hand these on your Christmas Tree, use a skewer to insert a hole into each biscuit while they are still warm. 
  • These make a great Christmas present and can be stored in an airtight tin for up to two weeks
With thanks to Expedia who gifted a voucher and hamper for writing this post.


Clementine and Cranberry Christmas Morning Muffins with Waitrose #MakesChristmas




Ding Dong Merrily On High! The festive season is so close now you can almost smell the turkey roasting, taste the Christmas pud, feel the pinch from errant Christmas tree pine needles underfoot and hear the choirs of angels (that'll be the local primary school nativity in full, warbling voice then).  

But what makes Christmas for you? Is it one of the ten million turkeys we eat on December 25th? One of the cheesy jokes in the 300 million crackers we'll collectively pull? Searching the attic for the box of dog-eared Christmas baubles to decorate one of the six million Christmas trees sold in Britain each year? What exactly might it be for you? Well, that's exactly what Waitrose are asking in their Waitrose #MakesChristmas campaign. Join in to win personalised festive gifts plus one lucky winner will receive the grand prize of the ultimate Christmas dinner for twelve people


This year Waitrose have also launched a Christmas Signature Spice Mix, used in products across the store from their fruitcake, hot chocolate and even their festive candles. And of course its the perfect sweet spice to add to your Christmas baking. Meanwhile, I've added a festive twist to bake these scrumptious Clementine and Cranberry Christmas Morning Muffins with the Signature Spice Mix.


Muffins make a tasty Christmas morning snack and shouldn't fill you up before the main turkey-filled event. Plus, for supreme ease, you can make the batter the evening before, pop it in the fridge overnight and bake in the morning.

Clementine and Cranberry Christmas Morning Muffins

100g softened butter
100g demerara sugar, plus 2 tsp for sprinkling
2 eggs
250g plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsps Waitrose Christmas Signature Spice Mix
100g dried cranberries
Zest of 2 clementines
150ml natural yogurt
2-3 tbsps milk

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Line a 12-hole deep muffin tin with muffin cases.
2. Beat the butter in a food mixer until it is very soft. Add the sugar and beat well, followed by the eggs
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spice and mix well. Stir in the cranberries and clementine zest


4. Fold half the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, followed by the yogurt and milk. Fold in the remaining dry ingredients, being careful not to overwork the mixture
5. Divide between the muffin cases and sprinkle over a little extra sugar before baking for 20 minutes or until risen and golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving

Baker's notes...

  • Key to light, fluffy muffins is creaming the butter until it becomes the consistency of mayonnaise
  • Muffins don't generally keep very well and are best eaten soon after baking



Please note Waitrose kindly sent me their spice to develop this recipe, alongside a voucher to cover ingredient costs and one of their festive hampers to enjoy

Monday, 23 November 2015

Thanksgiving Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing with match.com






The USA has given the world Cheerios, Coca-Cola, Peanut Butter Cups and Oreos. It has also given us the first man on the moon, the polio vaccination, Thanksgiving and the world's very first speed dating event (Peet's Cafe, Beverley Hills, 1998, fact fans).

Match.com are pairing Thanksgiving with Speed Dating this November, with a specially themed 'Short and Sweet' event in London on 26th November, serving our favourite American desserts. And the caterers will be baking this sweetly spiced pumpkin cake from yours truely. Not only do I love the thought of couples falling head over heels over a shared slice of cake but I really like the idea of a Thanksgiving celebration. AKA 'Christmas Day Practice Run'. More food and family, less commercialism and Christmas No 1s from the X Factor. Perhaps we could adopt Thanksgiving! Just like we've embraced Halloween in recent years but with treats all round.
 

Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing 

Serves 8-10


Ingredients


For the cake:
175g light muscovado sugar
175ml sunflower oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
140g grated pumpkin flesh
50g roughly chopped walnuts
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

For the icing:
100g softened unsalted butter
300g full fat cream cheese
100g sifted icing sugar
Zest of 1 orange
Walnut halves to decorate 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan 160C. Grease and line the base and sides of an 18cm square cake tin with baking paper
2. Place the sugar into a large mixing bowl, pour in the oil and add the eggs. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in the grated pumpkin and walnuts 
3. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, zest and spices. Lightly mix all the ingredients – resulting in a quite liquid mixture 
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40- 45 minutes, until it feels firm and springy when you press it in the centre. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing from the tin and leaving to cool on a wire rack. 
5. For the cream cheese frosting: beat together the butter, cream cheese, icing sugar and orange zest until soft, smooth and fluffy. Spread over the cooled cake and decorate with halved walnuts


Baker's notes...

Please note this is a sponsored post (www.match.com)

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Raspberry and Amaretti Biscuit Cake


Hands down, this is my favourite time of year. Mainly because an awful lot of celebration is involved. In 34 sleeps it is of course Christmas but this weekend also sees my sister and brother celebrate their birthdays. As a child, in order not to feel left out, my phenomenally kind parents would buy me a present too. It took me until the age of eighteen to stop feeling like the Queen with two birthdays a year, my official birthday in May and my unofficial one each November.  Spiffing stuff, as I'm sure Her Majesty said when she too realised she'd get to have two birthdays a year.

This year we've moved to the same city as my brother and sister. Hurrah, I get to bake them each a cake that hasn't spent two hours sweating in a tin precariously balanced on a pile of luggage on the Great Western Railway London to Cardiff train. I baked my brother a Chocolate and Coffee Battenburg Cake (his fave). It turned out to be more of a Leaning Tower of Battenburg as the baby choose the exact moment of construction to enter what we *fondly* refer to as 'The Milk Rage'. This cake was more successful, a bake that has become very much a family favourite in recent years. Its rather a perennial cake as not only is it super in the summer with fresh berries but it is the perfect cake baked with frozen fruit to use up any leftover amaretti biscuits from a festive glut.


Originally, a BBC Good Food recipe, I've adapted it somewhat over the years to the recipe below. I'm also entering this into the Tots 100/Clover #NothingArtificial challenge. With half the saturated fat of butter and simply made with buttermilk, Clover naturally adds flavour to family meals. And of course the great thing about home baking is that you know exactly what goes into your cake- no artificial nasties, no fancy E numbers or synthetic ingredients, just like Clover.

Raspberry and Amaretti Biscuit Cake



175g Clover
100g golden caster sugar
75g soft brown sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
225g plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp almond extract
100g amaretti biscuits
150g frozen raspberries or summer fruit
Icing sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 140C fan/160C/Gas Mark 3. Grease with Clover and line a loose bottomed 20cm round cake tin.



2. In a large bowl, place the Clover, sugars, eggs, flour and extract and beat together until thoroughly combined



3. Spread half of the mixture in the prepared tin and scatter with half of the biscuits and half of the fruit. Dollop over the remainder of the mixture and sprinkle with the rest of the biscuits and fruit.
4. Bake for 75-80 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean
5. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out. Once cooled, dust with icing sugar (or see below)

Baker's notes...

  • Depending on your oven, it may be worth checking the cake after 60 minutes and you may need to cover with foil to avoid the fruit catching for the remainder of the cooking time
  • Serve warm with single cream or amaretto ice cream. Alternatively, the cake can be stored for 48 hours in an airtight container
  • Frozen fruit works brilliantly this time of year in this bake
  • For more details on the Clover challenge please visit Tots 100