Gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread cookies

These cookies are AMAZING. Warning: they are also addictive and will not last long as a result…

Miss Suzylee’s Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients:

350 g plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger (add a little more if you like a stronger taste)

1 teaspoon mixed spice (again feel free to add a little more)

100 g unsalted butter

175 g light brown sugar

3 tablespoons of golden syrup

1 large free range egg, beaten

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees c/170 degrees c for fan assisted, and line as many baking sheets as you have with baking parchment! I only have one big one and two small ones, so I had to bake the cookies in several batches.

2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and make a well in the centre.

3. Add the syrup and the egg to the well in the mixture and combine the ingredients together  until well mixed and it forms a firm dough.

4. Roll out the dough to a thickness of no more than 0.5 cm and then cut out using a cookie cutter – I used a star cutter as it was for Christmas, but you could equally use any shape you fancy. It will make a lot of cookies, but of course the number will depend on the size of cookie cutter you use (probably around 50 using a 5cm diameter star cutter).

5. Place carefully on the prepared baking sheets, prick lightly with a fork and then bake for 10-12 minutes until firm and golden. This could take a while if  you have to bake in as many batches as I did! Once golden leave on the baking sheet for 5 minutes to cool, and then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

These made a lovely gift when presented in a festive patterned cellophane bag, and should last for a few days (in theory at least, but mine were all eaten or given away as presents before then!)

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

 

Bonfire Night Parkin

IMG_2087

I love Bonfire Night – the pretty fireworks that make a whole crowd go ‘ooooohhh’, the smell of the bonfire (wood smoke is an all time favourite smell), dressing up warm and snuggly in boots and scarves and gloves and most importantly, getting to eat the traditional foods – soup, hotdogs, toffee apples, cinder toffee and my favourite, parkin.

Fireworks

Fireworks

Parkin is one of those lovely squidgy, moist cakes that taste best when you make it a few days ahead, but fresh from the oven is fine too if you’ve left it to the last minute! Its delicious on its own, but also great with custard. It has a unique texture from the oats in it, and a very strong, dark, spicy flavour – if you haven’t tried it before do it now, and home made is so much better than shop bought!

Ingredients

110g (4 oz) self-raising flour

2tbsp ground ginger (yes that’s right, tablespoons!)

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp mixed spice

75g (3oz) oatmeal (this is finer than porridge oats, closer to ReadyBrek but not quite that fine)

175g (6oz) golden syrup

50g (2oz) black treacle

110g (4 oz) unsalted butter

110g (4 oz) soft brown sugar

1 free range egg, beaten

2 tbsp milk

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 140C (120C fan)/275F/Gas 1.

2. Butter a 20cm (8 inch) square cake tin. I also part lined mine, just to make sure the bottom would come out easily but it should be okay without doing this.

3. Sieve the flour, a pinch of salt, the ginger, nutmeg and mixed spice together into a large bowl, then mix in the oatmeal.

4. Put the syrup, treacle, butter and soft brown sugar into a small saucepan and melt over a gentle heat – bring up to a simmer but do not boil.

5. Stir the treacle mixture into the flour mixture, and then mix in the beaten egg and milk to create a soft, almost pouring, consistency.

IMG_2083

6. Pour into the buttered tin and bake for 1 1/4 hours, until firm in the centre. Test with a skewer to see if it comes out clean.

IMG_2085

7. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 5-10 minutes before turning out and cutting into squares.

IMG_2089

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

Movember baking

Movember bake sale

Movember bake sale

Movember is a great cause, and even if you aren’t able to grow a mo there’s always other ways to raise money and awareness. Check out Movember United Kingdom – Home.

A bake sale is always a popular idea, in my office at least.

Not sure what I will make this year, but this is my previous offering – a cherry bakewell cupcake cheekily decorated to represent Movember! Cherry bakewell is one of my favourite dessert flavours, whether its a proper bakewell pudding, a shop made bakewell tart or these cupcakes. Next up I need to try making a cherry bakewell ice-cream…

You can find a good recipe for these cupcakes at BBC – Food – Recipes : Cherry Bakewell cupcakes. Then you have the fun bit, which is to decorate them – for a bake sale presentation is key, and I thought these chaps really looked the part! Obviously the glace cherries make a great nose, but the rest of the face is up to you – I used an icing pen with a piping nozzle, but you could use normal icing in a piping bag, or get creative!

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

Spooky halloween cupcakes!

Halloween baking collage

These were inspired by my work’s annual halloween bake sale for charity. I found that although there are lots of halloween decorating ideas out there, it is quite challenging to find any that also look like you would want to (pay money and) eat them!

My original idea was to make pumpkin cupcakes, but how to make them look seasonal? As you can see from the picture above they just looked very plain. Happily I found my solution in a silicon mould with a series of halloween themed designs – I melted dark chocolate into them, let them set and they carefully flexed them out of the mould and onto the cupcakes, and there you have it – Halloween cupcakes that still look delicious!

Chocolate halloween shapes

You can find the pumpkin cupcake recipe at Pumpkin passion cupcakes | BBC Good Food. You can also make these with butternut squash, and the taste is very much like carrot cake. The cupcakes are very moist so if you don’t have time to make the cream cheese frosting (or want to save a few calories) the cupcakes taste pretty good on their own too!

I also made some chocolate cupcakes and decided to have a go at ‘web’ pattern icing – deceptively simple but I made life difficult for myself by deciding to try it with melted chocolate! The general idea is to ice one colour with fairly wet icing or melted chocolate, and then pipe concentric circles of another colour on top. You then take a skewer/toothpick and draw it through the circles, from the inside out at regular intervals to create a web effect, as shown to varying degrees of success of success below! The problem I had was that the melted dark chocolate was too runny to pipe, and the melted white chocolate wasn’t runny enough to pipe! SO maybe I will try it with icing next time…

Halloween cupcakes

Halloween cupcakes

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

Raspberry and coconut cupcakes

raspberry and coconut cupcakes

raspberry and coconut cupcakes

I had a lot of coconut to use before moving house, and given the heat this summer I thought fruit rather than chocolate would be the best combination this time, hence these rather pretty looking cupcakes! Astonishingly there is no food colouring used at all, it is all natural from the raspberries.

Ingredients:

  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 140g butter, softened
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 140g raspberries, fresh or frozen

Icing:

  • 280g icing sugar
  • 85g butter, softened
  • 4 tbsp raspberry coulis, or mashed raspberries
  • a little desiccated or shredded coconut, to decorate

 

finished cupcakes

finished cupcakes

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas mark 5. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Beat all of the ingredients together except the raspberries in a large bowl for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  2. Gently stir in the raspberries and then divide the batter between the paper cases, they may look fuller than usual, this is fine.

    raw cupcake

    raw cupcake

  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, then transfer to a cooling rack.

    raspberry icing

    raspberry icing

  4. Make the icing by beating the icing sugar, butter and raspberries together for 4-5 minutes then either pipe or spread on the cupcakes with a palette knife, then sprinkle coconut on top.
    raspberry icing

    raspberry icing

     

    (all photo credits miss suzylee)

F is for…Frangipane cake

F is for…Frangipane cake

F is for…Frangipane cake

I was struggling with F… I’m trying to save fruit cake for ‘xmas cake’ and I made fudge cupcakes recently so didn’t want to replicate that so soon. In despair I asked the other half for a suggestion and he immediately said ‘frangipane’, so here we have it! I smothered it in raspberry puree icing for an extra burst of flavour and decorated with fresh raspberries, but you could easily leave off the icing and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or ice cream etc… The raspberry icing is a great use of natural colour and flavour, and the cake is also gluten free.

Ingredients:

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 30g cornflour
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 16 raspberries

Icing:

  • 85g butter, softened
  • 280g icing sugar
  • approx 4 tbsp raspberries, mashed
dry ingredients

adding the dry ingredients

Method:

1. Grease and line a 20cm by 20cm (8 inch by 8 inch) square tin. Preheat the oven to 180c / 160 c fan/ gas mark 4.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until it’s pale and fluffy.

3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the almonds, cornflour and zest.

4. Pour the batter into the tin and spread it evenly with a palette knife. Push the raspberries into the batter.

raw cake

raw cake

 

5. Bake for around 25 minutes, or until the top is golden and the cake is cooked through and springs back when touched.

6. Leave in the tin to cool completely, then transfer to a cooling rack.

cooked cake

cooked cake

7. Beat the icing ingredients together for 4-5 minutes (you will see the colour go a bit paler as air is incorporated into it), then top the cooled cake using a palette knife or spatula.

I think this may become a new favourite recipe…

finished cake

finished cake

(all photo credits miss suzylee)

Skinny blueberry cupcakes

skinny blueberry cupcakes

skinny blueberry cupcakes

 

I am not generally a fan of ‘healthy’ versions of delicious foods. I’d rather just have the full blown version as its meant to be, and just try not to have it too often! However there are some recipes that do really work, and these cupcakes are a good example. A lot of the ‘healthiness’ is from not topping them with a mountain of buttercream, which although it looks impressive often doesn’t taste as great as good old basic lemon icing which goes on here. It also uses vegetable oil rather than butter, like my autumn favourite pumpkin cupcake recipe.

Ingredients:

200g/7oz self raising flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

75g/3oz golden caster sugar

100g/3½oz blueberries

1 lemon, zest finely grated

2 free-range eggs

150ml/¼ pint low-fat natural yoghurt

2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk

50ml/2fl oz sunflower oil

For the icing:

100g/3½oz icing sugar

4 tsp fresh lemon juice

cupcakes

cupcakes

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line a 12-hole deep muffin tin with some non-stick paper cases.
  2. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and stir in the sugar, blueberries and lemon zest. Make a well in the centre. Beat the eggs with a large whisk until smooth, then beat in the yoghurt, milk and oil until well combined. Stir into the flour mixture with a large metal spoon until very lightly mixed.
  3. Divide the batter between the paper cases. Bake in the centre of the oven for 16–18 minutes or until the cupcakes are well risen and golden brown. Do not overcook, or they will be very dry. Transfer them to a wire rack and leave to cool.
  4. To make the lemon icing, mix the icing sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth and runny. Using a spoon, drizzle the icing over the cupcakes and leave to set for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Also I have discovered by accident that these taste AMAZING with a dollop of mascarpone on top – defeats the point of the ‘healthy’ recipe I appreciate, but delicious all the same!

(all photo credits miss suzylee)