Saturday, 31 December 2011

Polly's Fridge Bars (and New Year's Resolutions)

Let me just start off by saying, don't bake with your sister. Just don't do it. She's even messier than I am, she is incapable of doing even the simplest of things and she can be a real pain.

These aren't her recipe, the recipe is from Hummingbird bakery but I'm still going to call them 'Polly's Fridge Bars'

400g unsalted butter
200ml golden syrup
100g cocoa powder
800g digestive biscuits, broken into small chunks
200g raisins (we didn't put these in. Raisins are gross)

You will also need a 33 x 25 x 5-cm baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper

1.  Put the butter, golden syrup and cocoa powder in a large saucepan over medium heat and heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally

2. Put the biscuit chunks and raisins (if using) in a large bowl and pour in the chocolate mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until everything is well mixed and the biscuits are evenly dispersed.

3. Press this mixture in to the prepared baking tray, using a tablespoon to flatten and compress it.

4. Refrigerate for a couple of hours, or overnight if possible.

It was a no-bake bake! It's a super simple recipe, and the outcome is alright too! It also goes absolutely perfect with a cup of tea. It's a thumbs up from me!

So that's it. Another year over. They always seem to fly by, and I always manage to make promises and commitments that I never seem to keep. But I have lot's of things I want to achieve in 2012, baking related and others not-so, and keeping a list is the easiest way of remembering them. I'll hopefully revisit this list at this time next year (assuming we're all alive and the world doesn't end)

1. Make macaroons. I've been dying to do this for ages.

2. Raise £2000 for my World Challenge expedition to Madagascar

3. Sort my skin out once and for all. It's been three years now and I want better than this

4. Use my Battenburg cake tin!

5. Perfect my piping technique. It still needs lot's of work :/

6. Watch more French movies, they are simply the best thing ever.


That's not too much to ask, right?

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year's Eve and an even better 2012!!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Gingerbread Cupcakes

I can't seem to get over my post-Christmas depression, so I have baked even more festive goodies to keep me in the Christmas spirit. Also, I had countless Christmas themed cupcake cases, and the thought of keeping them until next December filled me with dread.

I've noticed that the last three things I've baked have been gingerbread bakes. I'm a bit gingerbread-ed out now!

140g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
60g black treacle
60g golden syrup
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
310g plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
240ml hot milk

For the frosting:

600g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter
250g full-fat cream cheese (Philidelphia)
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Christmas themed shapes, to decorate

1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190C. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy.

2.  Add the treacle, golden syrup, eggs and egg yolks and continue mixing until all ingredients are evenly combined.

3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture, mixing on a low speed and adding in two or three batches, alternating with the hot milk. Continue to mix until the batter is smooth.

4. Divide the batter between the muffin cases, filling each one two-thirds. Pop in the oven and bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until risen and springy to the touch. Allow to cool in the tin for a short while, then remove to a wire rack to cool down completely while you prepare the frosting.

5. Slowly whisk the icing sugar with the butter until no large lumps of butter remain and the mixture is sandy in consistency. Add the cream cheese and mix on a medium-to-high speed until the frosting is light, fluffy and smooth. Stir in the lemon zest by hand.

I have come to the conclusion that I am such a fail at separating eggs. I wasn't put on this earth to separate eggs. Many helpless eggs were harmed in the making of this cupcake.

Success! Some festive cupcake cases have been used AND I am over my post-Christmas depression!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Sticky Gingerbread Puddings

Oh Delia. How I love you so. If I were poetic in any way, I would write a poem about her, titled 'An Ode to Delia Smith'. Sadly, poetry is not one of my strong points, so my dreams of writing a Delia-inspired poem cannot be fufilled. But that doesn't detract from my love of Delia Smith!!

As you may have guessed, this is a Delia Smith recipe. Instead of the usual Sticky Toffee Pudding, we mixed it up and made 'Sticky Gingerbread Puddings with Ginger Wine and Brandy Sauce' from 'Delia Smith's Winter Collection' (we have all the Delia books in the family. If I hadn't mentioned before, I'm a big fan).

Serves 8
110g preserved ginger in syrup
175g self-raising flour
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 level tsp baking powder
3/4 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
75g soft butter
110g molasses sugar
1 tbsp black treacle
1 heaped teaspon freshly grated ginger
175g Bramley apple, peeled, cored and chopped small
175ml warm water

For the Ginger Wine and Brandy Sauce
175g soft dark brown sugar
110g unsalted butter
4 tbsp ginger wine
2 tbsp brandy
2 pieces preserved ginger, chopped small

Yes, that's a lot of ingredients, and some of them can't be found easily. But as I said before, it's Delia. And she's worth it.

1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180C

2. First of all, place the pieces of preserved ginger in a food processor and turn on for 7-10 seconds. Be careful not to puree the ginger! After that sift the flour, spices, baking powder and bicarbonate into a mixing bowl.

3. Then add the eggs, butter and sugar. The way to deal with treacle is to grease the spoon first and, using a spatula or another spoon, push it into the bowl to join the rest of the ingredients.

4. Now add the freshly grated ginger, then using an electric hand whisk, whisk everything together gradually, adding the water until you have a smooth mixture. Finally fold in the apple and preserved ginger.

5. Now divide the mixture between the buttered pudding basins, stand them on a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes or until they feel firm and springy to the touch. After that remove them from the oven and let them stand for about 5 minutes, then run a small palette knife around the edges of the tin to turn them out.

6. To make the sauce, all you do is gently melt together the sugar and butter until all the granules of sugar have completely dissolved, then whisk in the ginger wine and brandy, add the chopped ginger and the sauce is then ready to serve.

It looked a bit plain with just the pudding and the sauce, so I think it can be served with either chilled cream or vanilla ice cream

It was really nice, but I'm not in a rush to make them again. I think I'll stick to the cupcakes.

Monday, 26 December 2011

The best way of spreading Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

Merry Christmas for yesterday! What an amazing day it was... Full of family, food and, of course, festive cheer!

I got lot's of things of interest, including a brand spanking new camera (perfect to take baking photos, see below), Jo Malone perfume, and THE WHOLE FREAKING HARRY POTTER COLLECTION. I'm planning a date where I can watch all eight films back to back, and I'll make some magical treats to help me through the 24 hours that it will take me.

I haven't even mentioned all the baking goodies I was given by my family (and Santa. Let's not forget Santa). The goodies I got included:
  • More piping bags and decorating nozzles
  • A Battenburg cake bake tin!! What a genius idea, I'm so so so excited to try it out!
  • Edible Rice Paper cupcake toppers with my favourite boybands face's splashed across them. Bring on Valentine's Day. I know Ella is excited to try my One Direction cupcakes
  • An icing palette knife, and various other kitchen utensils
  • Three new baking books. Two of them were from the Hummingbird bakery, and one was the Leon 'Baking & Puddings' book.

I probably got many more baking-related goodies, but I can't remind myself of what they were...

 Every year, our Christmas tree is 'alternative'. Instead of a traditional tree with lot's of baubles and tinsel, we do something slightly different. We make ginger cookies to hang on the tree, and we make tinsel out of popcorn and cranberries!

 I don't actually eat mince pies, because I can't stand raisins and other dried fruit, but I wasn't even allowed to make them this year. Apparently, according to my mum, I would 'make too much mess', so she made them herself.

Undoubtably, one of the best things about Christmas day is the mammoth feast that we call Christmas dinner. It is the one meal a year where no one can judge you for how much you eat. Every year, people around the country manage to consume mountains of food, and I am one of those people.

I don't eat Christmas pudding either, but that didn't stop me making it! Back in September, I followed the secret Burnett recipe, and made all my Christmas wishes. I'll let you know if they come true...

I hope everyone had an absolutely wonderful day, and all of your Christmas wishes come true...

With that, I am going to make myself a cup of tea, and plan lot's of bakes for the new year with all of my new recipe books.


Monday, 12 December 2011

Gingerbread Men

Happy December!! The countdown to Christmas is truly underway.

I'm far too poor to afford presents for all my friends, so I'm going to bake them all gifts instead. To kickstart things, I made some simple gingerbread. Everyone loves them, and they're super cute, so everybody wins!

140g unsalted butter
100g dark muscovado sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
350g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of sida
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Icing and other decorations

1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Line some baking sheets with baking parchment. Melt butter, sugar and syrup in a pan. Mix flour, soda, spices in a bowl. Stir in the butter mix to make a stiff-ish dough.
2. Wait until cool enough to handle, then roll out dough to about 5mm thick. Stamp out gingerbread men. Lift onto baking sheets.
3. Bake for 12 minutes until golden. Cool for 10 minutes on the sheets, then lift onto cooling racks.

I had a bit more dough left after cutting ten gingerbread men, so I made a couple of Christmas trees, just to feel that little bit more festive!

The smell and taste of ginger and cinnamon just remind me of Christmas, and I always seem to bake gingerbread at this time of the year!

Probably a few more bakes to be posted before Christmas. Man, I love this time of the year.