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Archive for the ‘Spices’ Category

I couldn’t resist baking one last thing for 2020, despite it just being Rich and I for NYE I really wanted to make a Christmas log. We all love gingerbread in our house so when I saw this recipe in the Christmas Olive magazine I added it to my list of Christmas recipes. Click here to see the recipe.

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I absolutely love making and decorating our Christmas cake each year and spending the time looking at ideas of what to make. I came across this design and thought it looked really good fun. And luckily I had the opportunity to make a second cake for our friends Matt and Beckie and their two kids Ellie and Freddie as their Christmas pressie again this year, so this was the perfect excuse to make it.

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One of our favourite treats for breakfast at the weekend are homemade cinnamon buns! I’ve tried quite a few different recipes and spotted this Christmas version so thought I’d give it a go for breakfast this weekend. I have a huge jar of homemade mincemeat in the cupboard still, so this was perfect for using some of it up. Click here to read more.

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Last year after Christmas I was sitting down having a cup of tea in a rare quiet moment and thought I would browse Pinterest for a bit, I came across a lovely Christmas gnome cake and thought it looked a bit different so I would do something similar for Christmas next year. Little did I know how popular Nordic gnomes would become this year! I am sure I say this each year, but this is my favourite Christmas cake – until next year! Click here to get an insight into how I made it.

The original idea for the cake can be found here. I made my Christmas cake with two 5” fruit cakes and one 4” fruit cake and went back to using Delia’s recipe again this year. I covered them in marzipan then coloured some sugar paste pale brown. I rolled it out and cut strips that were about 5-7mm wide, I painted the tops of each strip with slightly watered down dark brown food colouring. I took one strip and starting from one end started to wind it up a bit like a snails shell, once I had reached the end I got another strip and kept going till the diameter was almost the size of the cake. I then rolled it gently with a rolling pin to flatten it a bit, then carefully placed it on top of the cake and smoothed it into place. I coloured some more sugar paste dark brown and rolled it out into a long strip big enough to wrap around the outside of the cake, then used my silicone oak mat to make the bark texture before putting it onto the cake. I then used some dark brown petal dust to add some definition.

I made the gnomes body using Rice Krispie treats which I rolled into a ball then covered with grey sugar paste. I made the hat in the same way and squashed the Rice Krispie treats around a thick florist wire that I bent into shape. I then covered it in chocolate ganache before icing it.

I made some royal icing and added some grey food colouring then began piping the beard. To get the beard effect I piped from bottom to top, without sticking the start of the piping to anything, I piped upwards in mid air then just pushed the piping bag to the bottom of the hat to complete each line. So each line was dangling down and not touching anything at the bottom. Once done I used some white sugar paste to put around the edge of the hat.

The girls absolutely love the little gnome, there was lots of shrieking from Chloe when she first saw him! Just a shame this year we can’t have friends and family round so no one will get to see it. But we are definitely going to appreciate having him sat on our sideboard this Christmas!

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We have been super busy baking at home this week! So this is the first of my Christmas baking blogs, hopefully plenty more to come. I tried to pick recipes this year that the girls could help with to keep us busy at home. These were really good fun to make and look very cool too. Click here for the recipe.

The recipe was from November’s Sainsbury’s magazine – mince pie tiffin bites. We all love rocky road in our house, so this festive version will definitely be a favourite. Here is the recipe:

Mince Pie Tiffin Bites

100g skin on almonds

85g glacé cherries, quatered

55g dried cranberries

2 tbsp brandy or orange juice

125g butter

100g golden syrup

20g cocoa

Zest of 1 orange

150g dark chocolate

275g mince pies (roughly 5)

For the topping:

200g milk chocolate

3 tbsp double cream

16 chocolate covered pretzles

8 red glacier cherries

Small amount of white and black fondant for the eyes

  • Preheat the oven to 200C (180 fan). Toast the almonds for 5-10 minutes then leave to cool.
  • Put the cherries, cranberries and brandy in a small bowl and leave to soak.
  • Line a 7” round tin with baking paper
  • Put the butter, syrup, cocoa, orange zest and a pinch of salt in a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring until melted and smooth. Stir in the chopped dark chocolate and remove from the heat, leave to melt fully.
  • Stir in the brandied fruits, toasted almonds and broken up minced pies. Tip into the lined tin, spread out and allow to cool, then chill for an hour in the fridge till set.
  • Place the chocolate and cream for the topping in a heat proof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, leave to melt, then remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Pour over the tiffin and smooth out. Allow to set.
  • Remove the tiffin from the tin and using a hot knife slice into 8 portions.
  • Melt a small amount of milk chocolate and lightly dip the top of the glacier cherry into the chocolate then stick it to the point of the slice of tiffin. Take 2 pretzels and drip the underneath of each in a small amount of chocolate and stick to the outsides of each slice of tiffin for the antlers.
  • roll out the white and black fondant and cut circles for the eyes. Using a paint brush, brush a small amount of chocolate on the back of each eye and secure in place.

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We missed last week’s technical challenge as the recipe wasn’t on the website until after the weekend so we didn’t have time. But we will catch up and make them at some point during lockdown. This weeks recipe looked really interesting, but neither Rich or I are keen on matcha so we decided to make a crepe cake half the size in case we didn’t like it! Click here to see how we got on.

I had some matcha powder left over from a wedding cake I made and hadn’t been brave enough to bake anything else with it, so this was the perfect bake to use it up. Prue’s recipe can be found here. Emily and Chloe helped make the pancake mixture, we had to add a bit of Green food colouring as the matcha I had wasn’t a very vibrant green!

I made the ganache meringue filling, it was super smooth and rich. Emily helped me assemble the crepes and did a good job of spreading out the filling and topping with the sliced strawberries. We popped it in the fridge to chill before decorating it, it looked quite pretty especially when you cut into it. Rich and I enjoyed some for pudding with some extra mango and strawberries on the side, it was actually quite yummy – apart from the dusting of matcha powder on top!

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It wouldn’t be Christmas with out something gingerbread flavoured! It’s one of my favourite Christmas flavours, so I was really keen to try this recipe from Octobers Sainsbury’s Magazine. Click here to try this yummy recipe.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI just love making and decorating Christmas cakes, so as a Christmas pressie this year for our friends Matt and Beckie and their 2 kids I decided to make them a cake again! While we were away with them in the Peak District I was looking at pictures of Christmas cakes on Pinterest and Freddie and Ellie loved all the penguin ones, so I thought that’s what I would do. I found a few designs and picked my favourite bits to design this cake. Click here to see some more photos and info on decorating it.

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I wanted to do something different for our Christmas cake this year, so decided on a big Father Christmas! I found a lovely design on Pinterest and thought I would give it a go, Emily is very excited about Father Christmas this year so I thought it was perfect. This year I am breaking from some of the traditional recipes I usually make, so the Christmas cake is a new one from October’s Sainsbury’s Magazine – clementine and chocolate, can’t wait to try it! Click here to see the recipe and more pics of the cake.

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This years build up to Christmas is going so fast we haven’t even blogged about any Christmas baking yet! That doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy doing lots. I’ve done 2 Christmas cakes and tried some new Christmassy recipes this week, so keep an eye out for photos and recipes coming soon. It wouldn’t be Christmas without Mince pies and this year I thought I would try something new, click here for this yummy recipe.

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