Sunday, 25 May 2008


I made one of my favourite things today – gingerbread. Not only is it really yummy but cutting the shapes and decorating them is fun too.

This is a slightly odd biscuit/cookie since it is made differently in every country. Traditionally in northern Europe it’s a softer biscuit, and further south it’s a more like a ginger snap. In the 1600’s Nuremberg’s (in Germany) Lebkuchen was so good it was used as currency to pay the city’s taxes!
While gingerbread men (and women) are commonly made, a popular use around Christmas time is making gingerbread houses. Inspiring the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, there are some amazing creations. Here’s my favourite; I love that the decorations is almost all icing. The ‘snow’ on the roof is particularly good.

It’s from the The Gingerbread Book, Ed. Allen D. Bragdon, New York: Arco Publishing, 1984. I actually intended to make one myself for the first time last Christmas, but was too busy. I’m definitely doing this year though.

My recipe is another school book source. It makes biscuits that are quite soft, but can be made crispy by leaving them in the oven for another few minutes.

350g Plain flour
110g Margarine
175g Demerara sugar
4 tbsp Golden Syrup
1 Lightly beaten egg
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 tsp Ginger
1 tsp Cinnamon

1) Preheat the oven to 190 C and grease two baking trays
2) Mix flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon
3) Rub in the margarine, or mix in a food processor until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs
4) Stir in the sugar
5) Beat the golden syrup into the egg. If you dip the spoon into hot water, it’ll come off the spoon really easily.
6) Add this to the dry mixture and knead into a dough. It’ll seem too dry but will come together.
Normal dough on the left, treacle on the right
7) Roll out and cut out shapes.

8) Bake for around 12-15 minutes.

There’s a lot of ways to vary this recipe to suit your tastes.
Here I made half with the normal golden syrup, and half with treacle to see what would happen. What came out was a stronger molasses flavour and less gingery. Personally I prefer the original version, but would definitely make these again.

The recipe above is the basic one, but I normally add another teaspoon of ginger as I like the strong taste.

Changing the type of sugar also alters the outcome. I used Demerara, which gives quite a coarse texture and lets the ginger come through. Using dark brown sugar will give a finer texture, but might overwhelm the ginger flavour. It really depends what you like.
Here's my crowd shot

I just did a few quick decorations with chocolate and sugarpaste, but the only limit is your imagination :) ‘Hair’ can be chocolate sprinkles, desiccated coconut, chocolate or raisins.

I made a few ‘old school’ ones.
And my brother's inspiration 'Ninjabread'

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Banana Bread

As we had some bananas which were getting too ripe to eat, I did what I usually do and made banana bread. There are loads of other different recipes, which include milk, strong flour etc... but this is a nice quick, simple version that I got from my old school cookery book and have been using ever since.

75g margarine
75g sugar
100g self raising flour
1 egg
1 ripe banana

1) Grease a 2 lb loaf tin and preheat the oven to ~180 C
2) Cream the sugar and margarine
3) Mix in flour
4) Mash a banana with a fork and stir into the mixture.
5) Turn out into the tin and bake for about half an hour
I made 2 quantities to use up the bananas, but I have put the doubled mixture into one tin before and made a bigger loaf. Just leave it in for an extra 5-10 minutes.
Also, I used 2 x 3lb loaf tins this time so it would be easier to halve the mixture (I don't have 2 smaller tins), but I reccomend using th size given in the recipe.
It is tempting to eat it as soon as it comes out of the oven, and while it's really tasty it doesn't cut well; in fact it falls apart. To get decent slices, just let it cool down.
This freezes quite well too, though not for more than 3 months.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

I just wanted to say thanks to Ruth over at for giving me the "i love you this much award." That's so sweet of you!

Friday, 9 May 2008


I got some new sugarpaste colours and tools, so thought I'd play with them. I practised roses, and tried out my rose leaf plunger cutter.

Also, I made these little guys:

I'm not sure why penguins, it's just what i felt like. The pound coin is to show the size. This is my favourite one, he looks so cute!

I used an edible food colouring pen for the pupils of the eyes. This is a brilliant invention which saves so much fiddling about, I'll definately be buying a few more colours.


I had some egg whites left over from the pastry of the jam tart, and wanted to use them up, so made macaroons. Here's the recipe I used:

rice paper
2 egg whites
225g / 8 oz caster sugar
175g / 6 oz ground almonds
chocolate for decorating

1) Heat oven to 180 C
2) Line 2 baking trays with rice paper
3) Whisk eggs whites until stiff
4) Gently fold in egg whites and ground almonds
5) Put into a large piping bag with a 1cm/half inch plain nozzle and pipe fingers 7.5 cm /3 in long. Keep separated on the tray as they expand a lot.
6) Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
7) Remove excess paper and cool on a wire rack before decorating.
Here's how mine turned out:
The monster shapes and sizes are because I didn't have the right size piping nozzle, so just shaped them on the tray with my hands; I was a bit generous with the quantities. Also, I couldn't get hold of rice paper, so just used greaseproof/baking paper and removed it all.
They were nice and crispy on the outside, but chewy in the middle. I'm not exactly sure how they were supposed to turn out, but I liked them :)

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Jam Tart

This pudding nearly turned into a disaster. I started with the pastry recipe from my Mary Berry book for glazed fruit tarts. Unfortunately when I went to roll it out it was really sticky and I needed to add a lot more plain flour to get a workable dough. I managed to save it though/

We do have a lattice cutter to create the top, but I always find this too fiddly, so I cut the remaining pastry into strips and wove them into the diamond pattern.

For best results finish with tea and custard :)

Birthday Cake

Ooops, it's been a while since I blogged last, and I'll probably have to abandon it for a few weeks yet as I've been too busy to bake recently. Come the summer though, I promise loads of content :)
One of the things keeping me occupied was my birthday, and I luckily didn't have to make my cake. It was bought from Marks and Spencer, one of their yummy madeira birthday cakes. i know it's a kids cake (and I'm in my 20's) but I loved it.

I couldn't bear to eat the fairy until the cake was gone, though that wasn't very long!