Monday, 30 December 2013

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot cake cupcakes are perfect for any occasion, this occasion being Christmas of course! I used the Hummingbird Bakery Carrot Cake recipe for these which I separated into individual cupcake cases.

Unlike usual cupcake recipes, which use butter, carrot cake requires (sunflower) oil. So to begin; add the oil, light brown sugar and eggs together. Once combined, add in the vanilla extract and dry ingredients (plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger & salt). Followed by the grated carrot.

Then place them into the oven until they are golden brown, and leave to cool before icing. 

The carrot cake frosting is taken from Lorraine Pascale's carrot cake recipe which is made using icing sugar, butter, lemon zest, vanilla extract and cream cheese. I also tend to add in some of the lemon juice too for extra flavour.  

Once combined, you can begin spreading the icing on top of the cupcakes before adding the decorations. Normally I would decorate them with miniature white chocolate carrots (which you can find in Sainsburys), but as it is Christmas, it only felt right to use a few santas and reindeers instead.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Biscuits

Making and decorating Christmas biscuits is my favourite pre-Christmas activity. The BBC Food recipe I use makes vanilla biscuits but to make them taste more Christmassy I add mixed spice.

Cream the butter and sugar together, add the egg and vanilla essence (and mixed spice) until combined. Then add in the flour to form the dough. 

Then you can raid the cupboard for Christmas cutters you probably last used when you were five years old.

Then once they have cooled on a wire rack its time to start decorating!

...And tah-dah, with a touch of glitter and some icing, you've got Christmas biscuits!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Glittery Mince Pies

For me, mince pies are like turkey, I only really eat them because it's Christmas. Nonetheless I make them every year as they are a favourite in our household, especially when they're fresh out the oven.

You will find hundreds of different recipes online for mince pies but I prefer the most simple recipes that require the least amount of faff as they tend to be the yummiest. This Paul Hollywood recipe is just that.


Making pastry is much easier that people expect, simply combine all the ingredients: flour, butter, sugar and an egg together and add a small amount of cold water until a dough forms. Then once you've wrapped it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge to chill, you can make the filling.

However, I must admit I didn't make the mincemeat this year as I ran out of time, so instead I popped the pastry into the freezer for a short amount of time before rolling it out. Once you have cut the circles out of the pastry and lined the moulds, you can fill them with mincemeat and place a star on the top (to show off all the yummy mince meat underneath).

Once nicely browned, they can be taken out of the oven and sprinkled with lots of glitter to make them look even more Christmassy (you can now buy edible glitter from most supermarkets).

As I was giving these as gifts I placed them in bags and tied them with a bow.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Gingerbread House

This year I decided it was time to try and make my own gingerbread house. Whilst making the gingerbread was simple, constructing the house itself was not so easy.

To make the gingerbread: crumble the butter and flour together, then add in the remaining dry ingredients (ginger, mixed spice, light brown sugar and bicarbonate of soda) and finally the whisked egg and golden syrup to form a dough.

Once rolled out (to the thickness of 2 x £1 coins), use this template to cut out the six pieces (two of each) needed to make your house. To make stain glass windows, simply make a round hole big enough to fit a hard boiled sweet in the middle (this will melt as the gingerbread bakes). 


Remember that when you take them out of the oven, they may not seem done after 8-10 minutes but they will firm up as they cool down. And then once you've made a mixture of icing sugar and water, you can begin gluing the four sides together before putting the roof on top. Then you should be left with something like this...

Ok, so maybe not. But this was the one I made last year with the help of Ikea's flat pack.

This is the one I really made, before this happened...

Unfortunately I could only stick a few smarties on before it collapsed, but nonetheless it still tasted just as good!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've seen several recipes for peanut butter and chocolate cookies on Pinterest recently, all of which look delicious but as most of them are American recipes the measurements are in cups. 

So instead I searched for a UK recipe and found a BBCFood one which I added dark chocolate chips too.

This is another recipe that requires very little ingredients and even less effort as it is a 'shove it all in at once and mix' recipe. 

Once you've combined all the ingredients into a dough, roll it into walnut size balls. 

As you place the dough balls on the baking tray, squish them down with the palm of your hand to make them flat on the tray. 

Pop them in the oven and in no time at all you'll have a fresh batch of peanut butter and chocolate cookies.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Duffins (doughnut-muffin hybrid)

Duffins (doughnut-muffins) are just one of the many hybrids to come from the cronut craze (croissant-doughnut). The best way to describe it is; a soft doughy muffin but with a jam centre and sugar coating.

For the batter: combine the dry ingredients (plain flour, sugar and baking power) together, add in the melted butter and then the wet ingredients (yogurt, eggs and vanilla essence).

Spoon a tablespoon of batter (I did a tablespoon and a half to make sure there was enough to stop the jam from leaking through the bottom) in each buttered cupcake mould. Then add a teaspoon of jam in the centre of each one.

Use the rest of the batter to fill each one up, making sure the jam is completely covered. 

They should be lightly golden when they're ready. I'd recommend taking them out and placing them on the worktop upside down as it will stop any jam leaking out (as you can see there are a few that have thin bottoms).

Once they are all out of the tin, you can begin rolling them in sugar. It's best to do this whilst they are still hot as more sugar will stick to them.

Then they're ready to eat. Perfect served warm.