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This year I had a request from Emily for a reindeer Christmas cake. So I had a look on Pinterest for a few ideas and came across a cute cake that I thought looked great so I adapted it slightly. Click here to see this fun cake.

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I love stollen, so this recipe using the stollen flavours in a cupcake sounded really yummy. I knew I wouldn’t have time to decorate cupcakes this year so these are perfect. Click <!–morehere to try this Christmassy cupcake recipe.–>

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I found the recipe on the Lakeland website and decided to make mini cupcakes rather than big ones as they are perfect size to add to the box of goodies for Emily’s nursery staff. The recipe can be found here and is also below.

For the cupcakes

• 185g self-raising flour

• ½ tsp baking powder

• 40g ground almonds

• 1 tsp mixed spice

• 125g butter, at room temperature

• 110g light brown sugar

• 3 eggs, beaten

• 1 tsp vanilla extract

• 60g mixed peel

• 60g pistachios, chopped

• 30g cranberries

• 30g raisins

• 1 tbsp amaretto

• 85g marzipan

• Icing sugar, for dusting

• 30g flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas 3. Line the bun tin with cupcake cases.

Sift the flour into a medium bowl. Stir in the baking powder, ground almonds and mixed spice, and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, then the flour mixture. Stir in the mixed peel, pistachios, cranberries, raisins and amaretto, and mix until well combined.

Roll out the marzipan on a work surface very lightly dusted with icing sugar until it is about 2mm thick. Cut out 12 discs using a 5cm Dia. cutter.

Divide the cake mixture into two even parts. Split one part between the cupcake cases, filling each about one-third full, then top with a marzipan disc. Add the remaining cake mixture on top of the discs, filling each case to two-thirds full. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds.

Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until well risen. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

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I’ve been desperate to do some Christmas baking, but haven’t found much time with Christmas prep and having a 3 year old a new born baby! So this week while Emily was at nursery I made some time to try a few new Christmas recipes. This one looked nice and easy and perfect as a Christmas pressie for Emily’s hard working nursery staff along with a few other goodies. And of course a few slices for us too! Click here to have a look at this recipe.

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I didn’t get round to uploading any photos of last years ginger bread house but anyone that’s been to our house in the last year will have seen it! It’s been on the sideboard as a permanent feature all year! There’s no chance we’ll eat it now, but it makes a great Christmas decoration and having had baby Chloe just three weeks ago there certainly won’t be time to make one this year! Click <!–morehere to see more photos of my magical house.–>

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Our Dad used to call Emma Sugar Plum as a nickname when we were little so we both enjoy making and baking things with a sugar plum theme. I found a photo of an unusual shaped gingerbread house on Pinterest (found here) and used this as my inspiration for the design. It wasn’t an easy shape to assemble but having made a template from cardboard I knew it would work.

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I kept the roof separate and turned it upside down to add the purple sweets on each corner, so that when I turned it the right was up the sweets were hanging down. For the circular biscuits I iced them and sprinkled them with granulated sugar which I had mixed with green petal dust to give it a subtle green colour. The rest of the decoration was fun, I found lots of purple and green sweets and stuck them on in various patterns to create a pretty house.

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A couple of years ago we hosted Christmas with my sister-in-law, hubby and our nephew, I wanted to make a chocolate log but really wanted to make something slightly different. One of my favourite flavours is chocolate orange which feels like quite a Christmassy flavour, so I adapted a chocolate log recipe and this was the result! Click here to find out more.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust over a month ago it was Emily’s 3rd Birthday. Being a typical 3 year old she was changing her mind every day about what kind of party and cake she wanted, slightly tricky when trying to plan things! Her favourite cuddly toy is her panda and so when I suggested that she had a panda themed party and cake, she seemed very excited and the idea stuck, phew! She takes after both her Aunties with her love of pandas. She asked for the cake to have a Mummy panda, a Daddy panda and and Emily panda on as well as some bamboo, so I did a bit of research and came up with a design. Click here to take a look at the panda cake.

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PB062198.JPGCan’t believe the bake off is over again for another year! It’s been another great series and I’ve really enjoyed watching it. I am quite relieved there are no more technical challenges though! I haven’t enjoyed them as much as previous years as some of them have been a bit obscure and required special equipment which has made trying the recipes at home a bit more challenging. I was tempted to get Rich to have a go at this one on the BBQ, but decided against it! I used the grill and a griddle pan instead. Click here to see how I got on with the final challenge.

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