Thursday, 31 October 2013

Autumn Spiced Cookies

I promised you a recipe for halloween... so here it is! These cookies are quick and simple to whip up, and great to give out to trick or treaters! These cookies are autumnal in flavour due to the spices, and the pumpkin seeds give a lovely crunch!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 12-15 minutes
Makes 14 cookies

75g margarine
90g golden granulated sugar
50g golden syrup
1tsp vanilla extract
100g self raising flour
3tsp mixed spice
50g pumpkin seeds
50g white chocolate chips

1) pre-heat the oven to 180 and line a baking tray with grease proof paper
2) cream the margarine and sugar, then add the golden syrup and vanilla extract and continue the beat until combined.
3) fold in half of the flour and all of the mixed spice. Stir through the chocolate chips and pumpkin seeds, then add the rest of the flour to the dough.
4) split the dough into 14 pieces and roll into a rough ball in your hand. Place on the baking tray making sure you leave at least an inch between each, and pop in the oven until golden brown.
5) allow the cookies to firm up on the tray for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool
Note, when you take the cookies from the oven they'll still be super gooey! Don't worry,  they will set as they cool :-)

I'll return to weekly posts in December, but until then, my friends -

Happy thoughts

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Hello stranger!

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, hasn’t it?
I don’t actually have an excuse for this, other than not being able to find the time to commit to writing this blog over the past few months, and for that I’m very sorry! So, what’s been eating my time? Well, in July I got a new job, and in August I got a new boyfriend, and whilst I’m very fond of both of those things I have to admit that they are accountable for rather a lot of my time and energy over the past few months! I also started driving lessons this summer, and passed my test in September. I’m still learning to dance Ballroom and Latin, and recently started Boxing (I know, right!?) Not to mention all the baking I’ve been doing… because I have been doing it, I’ve just not managed to find the time to type up the recipes!
So, I’m going to spend a little time over the next month or so re-organising the blog; it needs a bit of a refresh, my recipe indexes are WAY out of date, and I have to type up some recipes! I will start posting weekly recipes again in time for Christmas (yay!), and I’m hoping to whip up a little something for you for Halloween (again, yay!) – so please bear with me!
Happy thoughts,

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Cake'n'Bake Wednesday: Meringue Ghosts

Here's the final of my "Trick or Treat" themed bakes from Cake'n'Bake Club's October 2012 meeting. I had some egg whites leftover from my pumpkin pie mixture that I needed to use up, and thought that these meringue ghosts would be a great way to do just that. And I really like baking things for Halloween. So here are my meringue ghosts!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Makes 18 ghosts

2 egg whites, room temperature
60g golden caster sugar
60g icing sugar
Coloured sugar ball decorations for the eyes

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 1, and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  2. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then add the caster sugar a little at a time, whisking well between each addition to ensure the sugar has dissolved. By the time you've whisked in all of the caster sugar, you should have a really thick, pillowy and glossy meringue.
  3. Gently fold in the icing sugar with a spatula until it's all mixed in, then spoon the meringue into a large piping bag. 
  4. Snip of the end of the piping bag and pipe hap-hazard spirals onto the baking sheet, about 2 inches tall. Carefully stick two sugar balls into each meringue pile for eyes.
  5. Bake the meringues for 1 hour 30 minutes, then turn off the oven and allow them to come to room temperature with the oven door still closed. This will ensure you have super crisp, super yummy meringues!

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Cake'n'Bake Wednesday: Mummified Mini-Pizza

Here's the second recipe I baked for Cake'n'Bake Club's October 2012 meeting - Mummified Mini-Pizzas. I ended up making quite a lot for the Halloween themed meeting, simply because I love Halloween bakes! I'd recommend eating these warm straight from the oven, as they are then REALLY tasty.

Prep time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook time: 25 - 30 minutes
Makes 16 mini pizzas


For the pizza base:
3g (1/2 packet) dried yeast
1tbsp sugar (any kind)
2 tbsp olive oil
150ml warm water

175g white bread flour
75g wholemeal bread flour
Pinch of salt

For the topping:
50g tomato puree
One red pepper
Half a bag of grated mozzarella (can also use cheese strings, but I find that grated mozzarella tastes nicer!)

  1. Start by making your pizza dough. tip the yeast, sugar and olive oil into a jug with the warm water and stir well. Put this to one side for a few minutes to allow the yeast to start working.
  2. Tip both kinds of flour and the salt into a large mixing bowl, and mix together with your hands. Make a well in the centre of the bowl of flour and pour in your liquid mixture. Stir the flour from the sides of the bowl into the wet mixture with a fork until a rough dough forms. Tip this out onto a lightly floured surface a knead for a good 10 minutes before returning to the mixing bowl and covering with clingfilm. Leave in a warm place for an hour to prove.
  3. After an hour the bread should have double in size. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. 
  4. Tip the bread dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly for a minute or so to knock out the air. Roll the dough out to around 0.5cm, then cut circles out of it with a cookie cutter. Place these circular pizza bases onto the baking tray and bake for 10 minutes before removing from the oven to cool slightly before adding the toppings.
  5. Meanwhile, cut small "eyes" out of the red pepper. Was the pizza bases are cool enough to handle, spread a little tomato puree on each one. Give each pizza two red pepper eyes, and then arrange the grated cheese around the eyes, leaving gaps in between to look like bandages.
  6. Bake for a further 15 - 20 minutes until the cheese has melted and started to brown, and the underside of the pizza is completely cooked. Serve immediately - we don't want those Mummies to escape!

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Cake'n'Bake Wednesday: Mini Pumpkin Pies

I LOVE pumpkin pie! So when "Trick or Treat" was selected as the theme for our October 2012 meeting, I simply HAD to make pumpkin pie. I decided to make individually sized portions of pie for club as they are just that little bit easier to share.

I followed one of the other members' recipes for pastry, and so glad I did as it was my most successful attempt at making pastry to date! Long-term readers of the blog will know that pastry is my weakness...


For the pastry cases:
200g slightly salted butter, chilled and cubed.
400g plain flour
80g icing sugar
2 medium eggs, beaten

Note: you could always use store bought pastry, if you wanted to. Mary Berry said it was OK. If using store bought pastry, skip to step 3.

For the pumpkin filling:
1 large egg, plus 1 yolk
125ml double cream
200g condensed milk
220g pureed pumpkin
1tsp ground cinnamon

Makes 16 - 18 tarts, depending on the size of you pan (I made mine in a muffin pan)

  1. Start by NOT preheating the oven. You want the kitchen to be as cold as possible whilst you're making the pastry. Tip the cold, cubed butter and the flour into a large mixing bowl, and rub in between your fingers until it resembles fine bread crumbs. 
  2. Mix in the icing sugar by hand, then cut in the beaten egg with a knife until the mixture starts to come together to form a dough. Press the mixture together into a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
  3. Whilst the pastry is in the fridge, prepare your pie filling. Start by whisking the egg and egg yolk together until light and frothy. Add the cream, condensed milk, pureed pumpkin and cinnamon and continue to whisk for 3-4 minutes, until the ingredients combined to form a custard-like consistency.
  4. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, and grease a deep muffin pan.
  5. Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it lightly, before rolling out as thinly as possible. Cut circles out of the pastry and place this into the muffin pan, using the end of a rolling pin to help you push the pastry into the muffin holes. Prick the pastry cases all over with a fork, then blind bake for 15 minutes.
  6. Take the pastry cases from the oven, and carefully remove the foil and baking beans used for the blind bake. Fill each pastry case with 2tbsp of the pie filling, then return to the oven for another 30 minutes, until the pie filling is completely set (you can test with a cocktail stick, if you'd like to.) You'll noticed that the pie filling has risen into a dome shape - this will deflate as the pie cools. Don't worry, this happens to mine all of the time and as far as I can tell it's normal. At the very least - they still taste good!
  7. Allow the pies to cool in the muffin pan, then keep refrigerated.

Happy Thoughts