Thursday, 26 November 2009

Time to Ice THE cake??

Is it? Is it? Is it?
It has been sitting in the tin for about 5 weeks now.
Fruit steepd for hours in alcohol at the pre-cooking stage...
All families have there own secret recipes so i won't 'share' mine with you, unless you beg. Molasses! i have weird memories of this blackest, gloopiest, strangest of treacle-like substances. I like my cake to have a real heaviness to it - density! - blackness.
Lots of fruit. Definately no nuts in this cake for me. NO glace cherries (sorry, they are a pet hate of mine but i don't want to cause Glace lovers any offence)

Slowly, i have added Amaretto to the well wrapped Cake, sat in it's tin, waiting patiently...
I am not a great Amaretto fan (what am i saying? not at all 'a fan' in fact) but all the girls in my family love it so i thought i'd give it a try.

SO..... Is it time to Ice the Christmas Cake yet? Is it? Is it? Is it? A

Advent starts next week........ !!!! :)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Pretty Sugar Cookies....x

I thought I had temporarily lost my cooking 'mojo', then I realised that actually I was just in holding....waiting to be allowed to cook all things Christmassy! And be allowed to tell you all about it, without seeming unbearably cheerful and mistletoey! Well it is practically December now, so I warn you now, hold on to your sleigh bells!

I LOVE CHRISTMAS........ESPECIALLY the COOKING!(me last Christmas day, up to my elbows in trifle....a happy MrsB!)

This is the recipe I used to make freezer cookies. Brilliant for impromptu (and therefore spontaneous, fun and your chance to look uber sorted!) visits over Christmas! You just take out the roll of dough, allow to soften a little and slice in 2cm thick rounds, sling in the oven......cue wafting, warm, inviting baking homey aromas!

I am in love with these! They are ridiculously easy to make, they bake a treat and can be adapted in a ma-zillion ways and most importantly they are PRETTY!(these are Martha Stewarts......Simply Gorgeous!)
So I began a little Christmas decorating in the kitchen....Put on my boys, the Christmas Crooners (Dean, Frank, Louis, Bing....first name terms!)Got out my Christmas recipes notebook and began a-googling! Now most Sugar Cookie recipes come in American measurements....
which makes me do this....chew pencils, frown and take off my shoes (to count my toes.....the maths is beyond me!) SO my dear friends, I located this lovely UK, maths-dyslexic friendly recipe! Simples!


125g Caster Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla flavouring

150g Salted Butter, diced

225g Plain Flour, sifted

Get out the Christmas mixing bowl! Rub the butter into the flour, till it resembles bread crumbs. Add in the sugar and vanilla extract and then using your hands bring together into a ball. Done!
Now if you fancy being creative, you can add different flavourings, instead of the vanilla, and add colour! So I split my mix in half, added vanilla to one half and peppermint to another. The minty half had a few drops of red colouring added too. Hee hee!
On a well floured surface roll out your dough into a rectangle. I was not as precise about this as Ole Martha was (who advises the use of a bench scraper to make sides even....oh Lordy!) My thinking being it matters not what the ends look like, they are going to bake and be munched and it will only be two cookies that are less than perfect.

Roll out your coloured dough and place on top. Martha uses egg white as glue at this point. Again being a bit slap dash, I did not! It worked fine! I used rolled over the top of both and that did the job!
Roll up.
Wrap up. Pop in freezer. Wait. Pretend some friends have arrived, take out of freezer let soften up a little slice into 2cm thick rounds, bake in moderate oven till golden, let cool.......munch! Plan next colour/ flavour combos!
Merry Christmas BAKING!x

Sunday, 8 November 2009

A Gingerbread Tradition!

This is, in my opinion, The Best Gingerbread Recipe!That is, it is the best, if you:a) have children, it is so simple to make and all the stages are possible for little handsb) you don't like working with sticky, troublesome doughs (which many I have tried have been!)
c) your impatient like me and can't be doing with waiting for dough to firm up overnight...I want to play NOW!
d) you want to make Christmas tree decs...this dough is pliable, rolls thinly and holds its shape well as you pass it over to the baking tray! When baked it seems to stay harder and not go soft and fall off the string (again this is experience talking....I don't know the science-y bit as to why)
I make this every December with my little B's, the afternoon after the tree arrives....oooooooooh the excitement! It smells lovely, cooks to a beautiful colour, it is a joy to make with little hands and I have presumptuous faith that it will become a Christmas tradition in your household too!INGREDIENTS
350g / 12oz plain flour

175g / 6oz light soft brown sugar

100g / 4oz butter

1 medium egg

4 tablespoons of golden syrup

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon of ground ginger

Put the flour, butter, ground ginger and bicarbonate of soda in a mixing bowl. Mix it all together with fingertips until crumbly. Add sugar, syrup and egg and mix until it forms a firm pastry mix.

I place in fridge wrapped in clingfilm, for about half an hour, but it is not absolutely necessary! Roll out on a well floured surface! Have fun! Men, women and children, houses, hearts, horses, we have had ducks, trucks, trees and trains!

PLace on a baking tray in bake for 15 minutes in a 180 C oven!
Have fun decorating too, with icing, hundreds and thousands, chocolate buttons, edible glitter, silver balls, you name it! Start your own Gingerbread traditions!


Monday, 2 November 2009

I got a Bread Maker Machine!!!

Forgive the photos - the nights are drawing in and light seems scarce...
so, BREAD MAKER! it isn't actually mine. On the last visit to my parents house, i just grabbed it. My dad hasn't used it for a while so i put it under one arm and exited the building...... my dad caught me, with one foot out of the front door, but i convinced him - THIS machine needed a temporary new home. It is really versatile and the number of functions it has.... woah! Baking / half bake / knead / Raisin and nut dispenser... the list goes on.

I started with a basic loaf. I think this macine and i will need to get to know each other over time. I am not sure which the best recipes are or 'settings' that will suit me better.
Excellent fun though! i lurve a new gadget - MrsB turned in her kitchen when i told her and began some long talk about the "joy of kneading bread" / "traditions" etc... i love her and i'm sure she is right, but.... i have fresh bread in 1h 56mins and it tastes YUMMY!
I put a few bags together of the dry ingredients ready to just add whenever i liked instead of getting all the ingredients out EACH time i wanted a loaf.... i am super organised liked that :)

My first loaf: not bad.... needed more salt. A lighter crust setting. I prefer nuts and seeds in my bread. BUT.... overall, not bad.

Do not doubt me cookery friends, when i tell you..... there is plenty more where that came from!!
p.s. A general hit with the FishFamily and my dad did get a loaf made especially for him too.