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Gingerbread Biscuits

Gingerbread is a real Christmas biscuit, the smell of it wafting through the house is magical! Any item of food that can be decorated without constraint is a winner in my child’s eyes so we decided to bake some Christmas treats that Zoe could get creative with.

Decorated Gingerbread Treats

Gingerbread biscuits gleefully decorated by my 4 year old

Ingredients:

  • 75g soft light brown sugar
  • 75g butter softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons of golden syrup
  • 250g of plain cream flour
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

You will also need some shape cutters

To Prepare:

Cream the butter with an electric hand mixer until soft and then gradually add the sugar and cream until light and well mixed together. Add the bicarbonate of soda, golden syrup, and the egg and continue to mix .

Sift the flour, ginger, and cinnamon into the bowl and mix well using a spoon or a K mixer if using an electric kitchen machine.
Knead the mixture into a ball, then wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

To Bake:

Preheat the oven to 180°

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until quite thin, not too thin though, it’s nice to have a little weight on them. Using the cutters that you have, (we used gingerbread man and Christmas shapes) cut out the shapes that you wish to have. Place the shapes on a baking sheet covered baking tray and put in the oven for about 15 minutes turning the tray halfway through.

Once the Gingerbread shapes are baked, place them on a wire rack to cool.

Gingerbread Biscuits

Gingerbread Biscuits

To Decorate:

I found some glitter icing gel in the supermarket today so decided to give them a try but my opinion is simple white icing tastes much better. We also used some smarties and coloured balls but you could decorate with  whatever you have in your pantry or my preference, don’t decorate at all, which may not go down too well if you have a budding artist helping you.

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Vanilla Biscuits with a Raspberry Filling

This recipe uses the Vanilla Biscuit Recipe from a previous post and a divine raspberry filling, both come from separate recipes in The Great British Bake Off Book

Vanilla & Raspberry Biscuits

Vanilla & Raspberry Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 large free range egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 450g plain flour
  • Good pinch of salt

You will also need mixed shaped cutters and a smaller one to make a whole in the middle. 2 baking sheets lined with baking paper.

To Bake:

Beat the butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar.

In a small bowl beat the egg and vanilla together with a fork until frothy, then gradually beat into the butter mixture. Sift the flour and salt into the bowl and work them into the butter mixture with your hands to make a shortbread–like dough. Bring the dough together into a ball, then flatten to a thick disk. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes until firm enough to roll out.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured worked up to 4mm thickness.Cut out shapes using floured biscuit cutter, then use the smaller cutter on half of the shapes, then gather up the trimmings into a ball and re-roll and repeat. Arrange the shapes well apart on lined baking sheets and chill for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Bake for about 12 minutes until a pale gold colour. If necessary rotate the baking sheets halfway through baking so the biscuits colour evenly. Leave the biscuits to cool on the baking sheet, then carefully peel from the lining paper.

For the filling:

  • 200g of raspberries
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

To make the filling, put the raspberries, cornflour and caster sugar into a medium-sized pan. Set over medium heat and stir gently onto the juices start to run and the fruit softens. Bring to the boil and simmer for two minutes, stirring, until thick. Pour into a heat proof bowl and leave to cool.

To assemble, spread the cold raspberry filling over the uncut biscuits, then top each with a cut out shape. Dust with icing sugar. Once filled, eat the biscuits the same day. The unfilled biscuits can be stored in a air-tight tin for up to 4 days, and the filling can be kept covered in the fridge for 4 days.

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Vanilla Biscuits

We bought some cute biscuit cutters and decided to test them out on my favourite biscuit recipe. The recipe is from The Great British Bake Off Book.

Vanilla Biscuits

Vanilla Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • One large free range egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 450g plain flour
  • Good pinch of salt

To Bake:

Beat the butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar.

In a small bowl beat the egg and vanilla together with a fork until frothy, then gradually beat into the butter mixture. Sift the flour and salt into the bowl and work them into the butter mixture with your hands to make a shortbread–like dough. Bring the dough together into a ball, then flatten to a thick disk. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes until firm enough to roll out.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured worked up to 4mm thickness.Using floured biscuit cutters, cut out shapes and then gather up the trimmings into a ball and re-roll and cut more shapes. Arrange the shapes well apart on lined baking sheets and chill for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Bake for about 12 minutes until a pale gold colour. If necessary rotate the baking sheets halfway through baking so the biscuits colour evenly. Leave the biscuits to cool on the baking sheet, then carefully peel from the lining paper.

7

Olive Oil Bread

This is a lovely, easy to make white loaf. I first saw this recipe on BBC’s Good Food by Mary Cadogan. It was such an easy recipe and it tasted so good that I never looked anywhere else for my perfect white loaf.

Olive Oil Bread

A lovely white loaf

Ingredients:

  • 7g sachet easy-blend yeast
  • 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

You will also need a kitchen mixing machine and a dough hook.

To Bake:

Add the flour to a large mixing bowl, then stir on the yeast. Add the salt and sugar.

Pour 100ml boiling water in to a jug and top up with cold water to make 300ml. Add the oil.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid all at once. Mix quickly using a dough hook, when the dough is smooth, cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to rest for 1hr. The dough is ready when it springs back when you press it with your finger.

Heat oven to 220C.

Tip dough onto a floured surface, knead to remove air bubbles. Shape into a round, place on an oiled baking sheet and slash top with sharp knife making 3 diagonal lines. Cover and rise for 30 mins. Uncover and bake for 30-35 mins until browned and crisp.

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Vanilla Fairy Cakes

This is definitely one to do with the kids. Zoe absolutely loves helping to make these and having total control over the decoration! The recipe for the vanilla sponge is from Rachel Allen’s Food for living with a simple white icing topping.

image of Zoe and her Fairy Cakes

Zoe, so proud of her work she photo bombed this pic lol

Ingredients:

  • 75ml milk
  • 25g butter
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 125 g caster sugar

For the Icing

  • 200g Icing sugar (sifted)
  • Boiled water

To Bake:

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place cupcake cases in a bun tray. The mixture is intended to make 12 cup cakes but I make 24 smaller fairy cakes so there are more to decorate! So if you are planning to the same as me, you will need 2 bun trays.

Heat the milk in a saucepan until it almost comes to the boil, take it off the heat, add the butter and stir until it has melted in the milk. Set aside.

Sift the flour and the baking powder, add the salt. In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla bean paste with an electric hand mixer until it is light and fluffy, about 10mins. (It’s at this point that Zoe usually does some colouring while I mix) Gradually beat in the sugar until thick and moose like. Turn the speed down and blend in the flour then the milk. Stop beating as soon as it’s all mixed in.

Spoon into each paper case and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. Allow to cool slightly in the tin before moving to the wire rack and icing.  Now spooning the mixture in with two spoons is fine but I got a batter pourer and haven’t looked back, makes buns very easy to pour indeed!

Icing:

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, gradually add 4 table spoonfuls and beat with a spoon until the required texture. You may need to add more water a little at a time to get the right consistency. When ready pour on the cupcakes to cover .

Now for the fun bit:

Decorations! There are too many things to list on here to decorate but some of Zoe’s favourites are mini smarties, pink sparkles, edible flowers, multicoloured sprinkles. Let the little artists do there thing and see the pride in their little faces when they’re finished!

Decorated fairy cakes

Decorated fairy cakes

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Apple Crumble Cake

Oh I am very fussy about my apple crumble, any type of apple cake really. The thought of biting into an apple pie and feeling a crunch *shudder*

So if you like smooth apple, a spongy base with a sweet crumble on top, this is the recipe for you.

I have adapted it from a recipe for a Ballymaloe mincemeat crumble cake in Rachel Allen’s Cake book.

Yummy Apple Crumble

Yummy Apple Crumble

Ingredients:

100g butter softened, plus extra for greasing
100g soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
2 tablespoons of milk
175g self-raising flour
3 cooking apples
Icing sugar for sprinkling

For the crumble topping:
100g self-raising flour sifted
75g caster sugar
75g butter chilled and cut into 1 cm cubes

You will also need a 22cm diameter, loose bottomed cake tin with 6cm sides.

Now to Bake:

Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter the side and base of the cake tin make sure that the base of the tin is upside down so there’s no lip and the cake can easily slide off when cooked.

To make the crumble topping:

Place the flour and the caster sugar in a bowl, then add the butter and use your fingertips to rub in until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Kids love to help with this,  lots of fun and messy hands!

To make the sponge:

Cream the butter until soft in an electric food mixer and add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl with the vanilla bean paste and milk until just mixed then gradually add them to the creamed butter mixture beating all the time. Place the mixture into a large bowl and sift in the flour and fold in gently to combine.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin then using a table spoon evenly spread it over the base of the tin.

Wash and peel the apples. I like my apples to be soft with a smooth texture in my cakes so I like to grate the apples before putting it in the cake. I use an electric kitchen machine for this but if you don’t have one you could just cut the apple into thin slices. When your apples are prepared, place them evenly on top of the sponge mixture. Finally sprinkle the crumble topping on top, be sure to completely cover the apple and sponge mixture below.

Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes, if you insert a skewer into the centre of the cake it should come out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for at least 20 minutes then loosen around the edges using the dull side of a knife and removed the sides of the tin, transfer your cake onto a plate and dust with sifted icing sugar.

Serve:

I can only eat this cake warm but there are many members of my family that don’t care about the temperature. It is also lovely with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

Apple Crumble Cake

Apple Crumble Cake

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Irish Brown Soda Bread

I make this bread regularly, it is a great accompaniment to a creamy vegetable soup and I highly recommend this soup recipe  from Nessa’s Family Kitchen. I also love to toast it and top it with melted cheddar cheese.

Funny Story:

Whilst making this bread one day, Zoe was helping me pour the dry ingredients into the bowl (she was 2 at the time) and as I turned to get the buttermilk an irresistible urge seemed to come over her and she blew into the bowl!! Well needless to say a little flour bomb exploded in her face, she looked up at me in shock and I howled laughing, the poor girl was covered in flour!

Irish Brown Soda Bread

Irish Brown Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 250g extra coarse wholemeal flour
  • 250g plain white flour plus a little extra for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon bread soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 400ml buttermilk

To Bake:

Preheat the oven to 200°

Add the wholemeal flour, plain flour, salt and bread soda into a large mixing bowl, give it a little stir with a spoon, then make a well in the centre of the ingredients and pour the buttermilk into it.

Now that all the ingredients are in the bowl, it’s time to mix, I use a an electric kitchen machine with a dough hook for this but you can also hand knead it, just use a lot of flour on your hands and the surface as it’s a very wet sticky mixture.

Get a baking tray, cover it with a baking sheet and sprinkle some plain white flour on top.

Place kneaded mixture onto the middle of the tray, sprinkle with flour and shape to a round. Last thing you need to do before putting in the oven is engrave a cross on the top of the bread with a knife.

Place in the preheated oven for approx 35 minutes, you will know it is finished by tapping the bottom of the loaf, if you hear a hollow sound it’s done.