Run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!(Taken from the Gingerbread man song, Unknown)
If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to put up the Christmas tree, yippee! Although you can’t go wrong with baubles, tinsel and lights- I love having a sweet treat up there as well. Purple foil-wrapped Cadbury’s chocolates hanging from gold thread are a favourite in my household but this year I’m going to try making decorations out of gingerbread.
I have some wonderful cookie cutters in the shapes of snowflakes and Christmas trees and I’ve been dying to try them out. I sometimes struggle making biscuits but these have worked out really well. I hope you like them too!
350 gr. Plain flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling out.
180 gr. Light soft brown sugar
4tbsp. Golden syrup
1tsp. Bicarbonate of soda
1tsp. Ground cinnamon
2tsp. Ground ginger
Zest and juice of half an orange
200 gr Icing sugar
a little water may be necessary.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and ginger. I like mixing with a knife.
- Add the butter and use your fingertips to mix until it looks like breadcrumbs.
- Stir the sugar into the mix.
- In another bowl, (I use a measuring jug), lightly beat the egg and syrup together.
- Use the knife to mix until fully incorporated.
- Next, knead the mix with your hands, adding extra flour where necessary, to bring to a smooth ball.
- Wrap the dough in Clingfilm and leave it in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4
- Line a baking tray with baking or greaseproof paper.
- Roll the dough out to no more than half centimetre. Preferably slightly less but not too thin either.
- Using your cutter, preferably a lovely Christmas one, cut out the shapes.
- If you do intend to hang them on your Christmas tree, use a skewer to make a small hole at the top of each biscuit.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
- Leave on the tray for 10 minutes before transferring them to the cooling rack.
- To make the icing, add the icing sugar into the bowl, add the juice and zest and mix together until smooth but not runny.
- Put the icing sugar in a piping bag and decorate in a pattern of your choosing.
- I have added some edible silver balls to my biscuits- let your festive inner spirit guide you!
- The orange zest in the icing really adds a kick to the flavour of the gingerbread.
Finally in the words of THE Gingerbread Man from Shrek, ‘ Fire up the ovens, Muffin Man! We got a big order to fill.’
Laughing. Yummy Cupcakes. Getting together….. and helping familys affected by cancer (Macmillan Cancer Support)
Wow….I can’t believe it’s been so long since I wrote my last post. What have I been doing, I hear you ask!? Well to be honest, I have taken a break from baking but hopefully that will change very soon.
It all starts again with the work Bake Off today. To make the most of my recent impetus, I have decided to try a new recipe and not a tried and tested one. Do you think that is the right thing to do? Well, we shall see. It is all for a good cause; Macmillan Cancer Support – Worlds biggest coffee morning.
If the cupcakes I bake do well, I will share the recipe with you. If not, I will have to go back to the drawing board.
Today, I would like to share my vegetarian quiche recipe with you. It is easier than you may think. I hope you like it.
This recipe requires you to have at least 2 loose-based tartlet tins of around 12cm.
makes 4 small quiche’s
140 gr. rice flour
140 gr. plain flour
90 gr. butter
8-10tbsp. cold water
140 ml double cream
Salt and pepper to season
150-200 gr cheese, grated
Half a red onion
Half a medium courgette
3-4 grilled artichokes from a jar
5 small mushrooms
Half a large red pepper
Some oil for frying
- To make the pastry, mix the two flours in a large bowl, add the butter and rub into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the cold water 1 tbsp. at a time until the flour comes together to form a dough.
- Cover the dough in Clingfilm and leave in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, but longer if you have the time.
- Once the pastry is ready, divide into 4 equal pieces.
- Preheat the oven to 190C / gas 5
- Roll out each piece until it is slightly larger than your tin. I only have two tartlet tins, so I make 2 the first day and then 2 the following day.
- Lift the pastry into the dish and press into the bottom and sides.
- Trim the pastry that overlaps the dish to neaten the edges.
- Prick the bottom of the pastry several times with a fork.
- Tear off a piece of baking paper to the size of the tartlet tin and place onto the pastry. Add baking beans on top of the baking paper. If you don’t have baking beans, you can use some uncooked rice instead.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
- After the pastry case’s come out of the oven, remove the baking beans and baking paper and put the pastry in the oven for a further 5 minutes.
- Whilst the pastry is in the oven, whisk the eggs and double cream together in a big measuring jug.
- Chop up the vegetables as small as possible and lightly fry the ingredients in a frying pan until soft. You do not need to fry the tomatoes.
- Once the pastry case’s are out of the oven, add a layer of cheese so it lines the base.
- Spoon your fried veg and chopped tomatoes and fill the pastry cases to almost the top, leaving enough space to add another layer of cheese.
- Pour over the egg mixture so it fills the quiche. Leave about 5mm gap at the top.
- If you would like to put a decoration on the top, you could add slices of mushroom or tomatoes.
- Put the dishes in the oven for a further 30 minutes or until golden brown and firm to touch.
- These are great to eat cold at a picnic or heated up in the microwave to eat at work
- Add a cold carrot salad with the quiche, delicious.
Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs, with one or two a penny hot cross buns (Poor Robin’s Amanack (1733) )
Hot Choc Buns
I always like to make an effort to bake something traditional and seasonal to mark special times of year and so last Easter, I decided to try my hand at Hot Cross Buns. Only trouble is, my husband and I both can’t stand dried fruit, so as usual I opted for chocolate instead!
My first attempt was using a gluten-free recipe, which we both loved, but didn’t keep fresh for very long. This year, I opted instead for the ‘gluten-full’ version as I was keen to try my skills at kneading dough. We loved this too!
Hot Choc Buns
625 grams strong white flour
1 1/2 tsp. fast action yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
50 grams of butter plus extra butter for greasing.
275 ml milk
100 grams white chocolate
100 grams milk chocolate
1 tsp. cinnamon
For the topping
75 grams white chocolate
1 tbsp. golden syrup
1/2 tsp. of cinnamon
- Add the flour, salt, cocoa and cinnamon into a large bowl.
- Rub in the butter to the flour mixture.
- Make a well and add in the honey, sugar and yeast.
- Beat the egg and add into the mixture.
- Heat the milk in a microwave for about a minute (until it is slightly warmer than room temperature) Add the milk into the mixture and mix together to form a dough.
- On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and flatten as much as you can.
- Add half the white chocolate and milk chocolate and work into the dough.
- Flatten the dough out again and work the rest of the chocolate into the dough.
- Knead the dough for approximately 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
- Shape the dough into a ball shape.
- Grease the large bowl with butter and add the dough into the ball.
- Cover with a clean tea towel and place the bowl in a warm place for an hour to prove.
- After an hour, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knock back ((??)) the dough.
- Shape it into a ball and place back into the bowl, cover with the tea towel and leave to rise for a further 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, divide the mixture in two, roll out each of the two parts and divide each part into 6 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece into a ball and then flatten slightly to make a bun shape.
- Cover the 12 buns and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
- Grease a baking tray with butter (I greased two smaller baking trays as my oven isn’t that big) and add the buns to the tray(s).
- Completely cover the buns with cling film and leave to rise for 40 minutes Preheat the oven to 230C/gas 8. (I put my oven on about 15 minutes before I put the buns in the oven.)
- Place the buns in the oven for 10 minutes.
- While the buns are baking, place the golden syrup into a bowl and stir.
- Heat the golden syrup up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.
- As soon as the buns are ready, brush the golden syrup over the buns, then place them on a wire rack to cool.
- After they have cooled, melt the white chocolate. To melt, I chop up the chocolate, place it into a microwaveable bowl and heat for 20 seconds at a time until just melted. In between each 20 second interval, I stir the chocolate making sure the mixture does not get too hot.
- Once melted, add to a piping bag and pipe a cross on each bun.
- Leave the chocolate to set and serve!
- The buns taste good straight from the oven. But please remember to cool slightly before eating- ‘hot’ should not be taken too literally!
- If you do not like cinnamon then feel free to leave this out.
- Use dark chocolate, if you prefer it to milk. The chocolatier the better!
- The buns taste good with butter spread over them.
- The only difficult part to this recipe is the kneading of the dough as it is quite stiff.
………….No jokes please about buns in the oven!!
I always think if you cook once, you should feed twice. If you’re going to make a big chicken and vegetable soup for lunch on Monday, you stick it in the refrigerator and it’s also for Wednesday’s dinner. (Curtis Stone)
This week I decided to spend as little as possible on my weekly shop. I made an effort to use up what I could from my food cupboard/ refrigerator and create recipes using these ingredients. These cost-effective concoctions can still taste great, as well as being good for your health and your purse!
One recipe I often use towards the end of a week, is what I like to call my “soup of the week”. It is rustled up using a medley of any leftover vegetables I have in the fridge or freezer. I fry the chopped vegetables in some butter, pour in boiling water as well as any herbs I feel may go with the soup, add a stock pot, blend….et voila! I have been very fortunate with this dish as I can’t remember a time it hasn’t worked, no matter what the ingredients. This week was no exception.
Soup of the Week (serves 2-4 or maybe more, depending on how much vegetables you have left!)
Soup of the Week
2 celery sticks
2 large leeks
1/2 bag of kale
1 clove of garlic
1 chicken Knorr stock pot (vegetable stock also would work)
coriander and parsley (if fresh add 1 tbsp. of each or if dried add 1tsp. of each)
1 tbsp. butter
chives for decoration
salt and pepper to taste
- Finely chop the onion, garlic and celery into small pieces Chop the leek into small pieces and wash in a colander with the kale.
- Peel and chop the apple into small pieces.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan on a low heat.
- Once melted add all the vegetables (including the apple and garlic) and stir.
- Place the lid onto the saucepan and sweat down the vegetables for 10/15 minutes.
- Pour some boiling water over the vegetables so it just covers them.
- Add the stock pot and the herbs and bring to the boil.
- Simmer for a further 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- You can eat the soup as it is or you can blend to make a smooth consistency. You may need to add more boiling water at this point.
- To decorate I snip a couple of chives and add to the top of the soup.
- Blending can sometimes change the taste of the soup and therefore you may choose to leave it just as it is.
- I often add a can of washed and drained chickpeas to the soup for protein.
- As yet, I haven’t found a vegetable or salad ingredient that doesn’t work in this soup, including lettuce and cucumber, which taste great and add a distinctive, fresh flavour. Plus, I always seem to have these leftover!
- Sometimes your soup may not need any stock, especially if it’s packed with veg (or if you use herbs)- so try it first before you add any in.
- I always have fresh herbs in my kitchen for my cooking- I keep them in the freezer and they are just as fresh and delicious when I come to use them.
- Lastly, if you end up making more than is needed, the soup can be frozen to use at a later date.