Monday, 17 September 2012

Steamed Pudding

I got a slow cooker and have been making the usual casseroles and stews but fancied doing some baking! I tried a few recipes and found this one good, especially as the pudding bowl size was actually the same as mine.

Instead of using a traditional steamer I put mine in a slow cooker half full of warm water overnight (7 hours) on low. It probably could have been taken out sooner but this turned out well for me. I found in my previous attempts a real difficulty in knowing when it was ready. I expected it to be dry like a sponge but as long as it's not liquid, it 'sets' when it cools.

I also used light brown sugar which gave it a lovely caramel taste. Perfect warm with custard, yum.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Tiny fruit cakes

You may have seen my earlier Tiny Christmas Cakes post, well they're all decorated and ready for eating on Sunday.

There's such a variety of ways to decorate a Christmas Cake and doing them this way I got to do them all!

You could leave plain and just have a decorative glace fruit topping and a little cellophane:

Or traditional Royal Icing:

Some fondant icing for those who prefer their teeth intact:

Beyond the simple by taking a plain iced white cake, indenting some lines to resemble brickwork and and arch you get an igloo. So simple by with a great effect. Finish off with some sugarpaste penguins to complete:

As not everyone likes fruit cake, a small amount of chocolate madeira batter and some chocolate flavoured teddy-bear coloured icing makes these little puddings:

The smaller cakes are harder to cover in fondant, and finger prints more noticeable but a good way to practice skills. I'm definately doing this next year, not loads of cake left over and plently of scope for my imagination!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Goodies

Phew, so I got carried away this Christmas and got into a baking frenzy, some new things, some old favourites. I'll be blogging the new ones so stay tuned!

Anyway here is just a sample of the

-2 Gingerbread Christmas Trees

-6 Tiny fruit cakes

-2 Tiny chocolate Madeira cakes

-Chocolate covered ginger shortbread

-2 batches of mince pies

I used my standard gingerbread recipe to make two gingerbread christmas trees. This used different sizes of star cutter and stacked. I iced them individually then used a small blob of icing to stick them together. It'll probably be quite messy to eat but looks nice. The silver dragees finish it off though they are tricky to stick on. I used the end of a knife to put icing on each star tip, it would be a much cleaner finish to pipe it.

There's a lot of variety with this idea, I've seen green ones with coloured sprinkles etc, or you could use licorice laces as tinsel and decorate it, all it needs is a bit of imagination.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Paris Buns

Another Home Bakery favourite it seems old-fashioned bakeries are the only places that still make these. One Saturday and 4 bakeries later the only one that sold them had sold out. Most looked at me bemusedly, another told me to come back at Easter.

Anyway if you're still in the dark Paris Buns are decidedly not French and apparently a sweet bread popular in Ireland and Scotland, especially with the poor!

The recipe is actually the same as for snowballs.

9oz sr flour
4oz butter/margarine
4oz caster sugar
2oz raisins/sultanas
3 eggs
1tsp baking powder

To decorate:
Rock sugar
Chocolate (optional)

1) Mix the sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy
2) Add the eggs, one at a time until well combined
3) Stir in the flour, baking powder and sultanas
4) Drop spoonfulls of the mixture onto a greased baking sheet, leaving room to spread
5) Sprinkle the rock salt on the top in the centre
6) Bake for 10-15 min at 220C
7) When completely cool dip the bases in chocolate and leave to dry

I've put the chocolate in as optional as persoanlly I think it takes away from the bun and always preferred a plain one. You also get variants without sulatana which I always remember my mum thinking she had been lucky enough to get before having to pick them all out.

No pics unfortunately, I'll have to update next time I mak them

Saturday, 29 October 2011


I have a feeling these are called something else everywhere else as finding a recipe online came up with lots of interesting but completely different recipes. This is a family one and produces quite a similar result to the shop bought ones. If you've never had them they're light, drier sponge, sandwiched with jam and with an icing and coconut covering. Sounds weird but is lovely. A drink (tea being perfect) is reccommended due to the dryness and coconut.

9oz flour

4oz butter/margarine

4oz caster sugar

3 eggs

1tsp baking powder

To decorate:

Jam (around 1/2 jar)

Icing sugar

Dessicated coconut

Makes around 16

1) Mix the butter and sugar together until pale

2) Add the eggs in one at a time until combined

3) Stir in the flour and baking powder until well mixed

4) Draw 2in circles onto baking paper, turn drawn on side down onto a baking sheet and pipe within the circles. The circles should be well spaced as the batter will spread and if they're too close will end up joined and square. (I used a star tip as it was handy but it doesn't matter as they sort themselves out in the oven anyway)

5) Bake for 10 min at 220C until well risen and golden brown

6) Put onto a baking tray and leave to cool completely

7) Match similar 'tops' and 'bottoms' and sandwich with 1 tbsp jam each

8) Make up icing as instructed on the packet for 12 buns. Add 2 tbsp water to make it runnier as it needs to go on without tearing the cake. Dip or use a spoon to complely cover the sandwiched cake (a thin layer is enough)

9) Immediately roll in some coconut to cover

I will warn you, this gets messy! Look at the state of my kitchen, you can only imagine what my hands looked like! I can't even remember what the scissors were for.

You could reduce this a little by rolling the 'halves' in icing and coconut first then assembling once hardened, but then the jam will be more obvious and I like an as much as possible uniform look. I made a few lemon curd ones as I ran out of strawberry jam and they were nicer I think. Raspberry would be nice too.

I used a cupcake stand to display, looks cool I think and the recipe conveniently made 13 good ones and a few ...taster ones.

Tiny Christmas Cakes

Hello all, yes I know it is still October and normally I refuse all mention of the C-word until at least 1st December but some things just have to be done in advance.

In the past few years I've made an 6 or 8in cake which I've shared out between family once I could bear cutting it. That said there's always enough that people get a bit fed up so this year I have made 3 small 8oz cakes from Mary Berry's book. It seems to be here normal cake scaled down so you could divide a 6in recipe by about 8 I think.

The recipe reccommends using half tins of baked beans: exhibit A

Hmm, never thought I would be putting pictures of baked beans on a cake blog!

Careful of ring pull ones though. I forgot with all of mine and had to use the tin opener anyway as they leave a ridge inside. It was quite awkward so I'd suggest using a tin opener on the bottom to get a clean edge. Also I found the Heinz tins easier as others don't seem as sturdy and they have straight as opposed to rigded sides. You prep them as normal, I used 2 layers of baking paper.The cake recipe was fairly standard. I put some dried cranberries in to give it a Christmassy feel.

And voila, 3 8oz fruit cakes

I did like only having to wait 1 1/4 hrs and not the usual 3hrs+. They also came out really easily by pulling gently on the paper cuffs. I had had visions of taking the bottoms off with a tin opener.

I'll probably make some little madeira ones in these tins for the fruit cake haters. Now just to decide how to decorate? Do I do them matching or different, I can't decide. Any ideas?

Toffee Apple Cupcakes

Oh dear, I have been neglectful! Unfortunately trying to eat healthily and baking son't always go hand in hand. I have been in the kitchen though so will try and back date my posts over the next week.

First off to put us in the Halloween mood: Toffee apple cupcakes. I got the recipe from the book 'Eat Me' by Xanthe Milton, also where the ice cream cones came from. The book has some nice simple recipes with a twist though I find them a bit style over substance they do look impressive. It's a lovely book to flick through too.

On to business. The recipe can be found here: Essentially it is standard cupcake mixture with diced apple for the sponge. I grated my apple in to be faster. I had been a bit worried about putting the mixture into muffin cases as I normally use these quantities for buns but the apple really bulks it up and they rise beautifully.

With the toffee topping I found it hard to get hold of plain toffees and not mixed flavoured ones in supermarkets. My corner shop though had loads of these more old fashioned sweets. The trick here is not to get too impatient and to keep the temperature low. About 1 tbsp of suace for each one covered the cake, then I topped up once needed afterwards. Also get the pot cleaned while it's still warm or it'll harden on and be a nightmare to get off!

Finally pop the stick in before the toffee sets. You can put them in before you put it on, but the sticks tend to get a bit messy. I also had trouble finding lolly sticks anywhere, even my local specialist cake suppliers. I decided in the end to use wooden dowells. A 30cm dowell gives 2 lolly sized sticks and I think it looks better.

To finish off and give a little authenticity I put them in cellophane bags and twisted to seal with some sellotape. It also stops everything getting sticky if they need transported.