Gingerbread Biscuit Christmas Tree Decorations

As part of my Christmas baking plans I thought I would make some gingerbread tree decorations.

I love gingerbread; it is one of my favourite biscuits. The only problem with that is I find it hard to only eat one at a time. I usually discover I have eaten three in a row without realising it!

I have tried various gingerbread recipes over the years but this is by far my favourite.

Recipe

400g Plain Flour

1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

2tsp Ground Ginger

2tsp Cinnamon

1tsp Ground Nutmeg

½tsp Allspice

180g Salted Butter (softened)

125g Light Brown Sugar

125g Treacle

1 egg

Method

  1. Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda and all spices into a bowl. I don’t sift this but you can.
  2. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream together. I use a paddle attachment on the freestanding mixer. You could also use a handheld whisk.
  3. Once light and fluffy add the egg and treacle*. Scrape down the sides to ensure a through mix
  4. Add the flour mixture slowly on a slow speed (unless you fancy doing a ghost impression for the post man who invariably turns up at this point wanting a signature!). Ensure you scrape down the sides.
  5. Once a dough has been formed take it out of the mixture and wrap it in clingfilm. Place this in the fridge for 4-6 hours to fully rest. If you want to rest it for less time split the mixture into ¾ portions. Once it is hard it is ready for rolling.
  6. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  7. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper. I use baking spray to secure this to the tray but I don’t spray the top of the paper where the biscuits will be.
  8. On a floured surface roll out the dough to about 1/2cm thick.
  9. Cut into desired shapes. I used round, holly leaves and snowflakes for this bake.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes.
  11. Leave the biscuits to cool for a few minutes then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

*I have never worked out the best way to measure this out. However, what I do is place the treacle pot on my scales (digital will be easiest to do this with). I then ‘tare’ the amount so it shows as zero. I slowly spoon out the treacle bit by bit until the amount shows ‘-125g’. I don’t know if this is right but it seemed logical to me and it seems to work.

This makes a really dark gingerbread, which I personally prefer but I know lots of people prefer a lighter gingerbread. In this instance I would simply replace the treacle with golden syrup. The amounts required are roughly the same.

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To decorate I have used Royal Icing. You could also use Candy Melts if you preferred and they would work just as well.

Royal Icing

660g Icing Sugar, sifted

20g Pasturised Egg White Powder (or 4 egg whites)

½tsp Cream of Tartar

Method

  1. Prepare the egg white powder as per instructions. Usually this is mix with 50mls of water per 10g. But please double check.
  2. Mix in the powder until no lumps left and there is a think layer of bubbles.
  3. Put in the mixer with the cream of tartar and start whisking.
  4. If using egg white place these in the mixer and whisk until frothy with the cream of tartar.
  5. Slowly add in the sifted icing sugar a tablespoon at a time, ensuring it is well combined after each addition.
  6. Mix on a medium speed for 15-20 minutes until bright white and stiff with a smooth texture.

For these decorations I used the royal icing in stiff and flood consistency. I don’t line the shapes before flooding. I simply use a scribing tool to bring the icing slightly closer to the edge if I need in small circular movements. This also removes any air bubbles that you do not want! To combine the water I use a spray to ensure I don’t add too much at once. For the stiff consistency I was looking for a toothpaste type mixture. For the flood consistency much more water is required. This is also referred to as 20 second consistency because when all the water is mixed in if you draw a line through the mixture (and into it) with a knife or skewer this line should disappear without a trace at 20 seconds. Not before or after.

If you add too much water then the best and only way to effectively thicken the icing again is to add more of the stiff royal icing. Simply adding icing sugar will make it grainy.

Once the biscuits are iced I leave them out over night to set or for at least four hours.

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For the colours I used:

Red: Squires Kitchen in ‘Poppy’

Green: Sugarflair in ‘Holly’

I also tinted some white icing with Squires Kitchen Teddy Brown, which I then painted with edible gold lustre.

To make the lustre into a paintable liquid add some alcohol to the dust. The reason you use alcohol is alcohol evaporates really quickly so it doesn’t dissolve the icing like water would. I like to use vodka because it is flavour and colourless so it doesn’t alter anything.

I added some silver ball dragees to the snowflakes and so silver lustre dust to make them a little sparkly.

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Oh and because I totally forgot to say I made the holes for the ribbon in the snowflakes and baubles using a straw from one of the girls sippy cups when I cut out the dough! I think any large straw would work. The holes did close up a little during baking which I expected but they were still large enough for a thin ribbon to fit through.

The final product: Ta Dah! (Ok, I know I’ve already put picture above but just pretend this is a grand reveal for me… Please.)

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Salted Caramel Fudge

Each weekend I can’t resist doing a little baking. Sometimes I will even bake mid-week. Depending on our plans will depend on what I make, if we are in the house all weekend I will bake something that takes a little longer to complete such as macarons or iced biscuits. On weekends that we are out or generally busy I will make something that doesn’t take much time at all. This weekend I decided to make fudge. I have never made fudge before but I knew what ingredients I needed and I knew the theory behind it all. I also knew it should only take about 10-15 minutes to make. Having decided to make Salted Caramel Fudge I found a recipe online, I naturally decided I didn’t like the recipe and made it my own way… It worked so here is what I did:

Ingredients:

1x 397g tin of Condensed Milk (Full Fat)

200g Dark Brown Sugar

100g White Chocolate

125g Lightly Salted Butter

4 tbsp. Golden Syrup

Handful of Sea Salt Flakes

Method:

  1. Prepare a baking tray with greaseproof paper
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan over a medium to low heat.
  3. Gently bring to the boil stirring continuously; ensuring all of the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Reduce to a simmer and continue to stir for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture has begun to thicken.
  5. Remove from the heat stir in the chocolate until completely melted.
  6. Pour into the baking tray.
  7. Sprinkle with the salt flakes and push lightly into the fudge mixture using a spatula or spoon so it doesn’t fall off when cooled (please be careful at this point, sugar burns are horrific). Leave to cool.
  8. Once cooled, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight if possible.
  9. Cut into equal square sizes and serve (ideally with tea or coffee…Yummy!)

It is important to keep stirring so the sugar doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry of that does happen, it will simply add a slightly bitter undertone which won’t detract from the over all finished product because of the sweet/salty nature of this fudge. Just go slow, keep the heat low and you can always increase it if needed.

I used my square brownie tin to make the squares but any baking tray with sides would do. I was desperate to use my new silicon moulds so I also made some fudge shapes (hearts, shells and stars). It was quite difficult getting the hot fudge mix into the moulds but it was worth the effort. They look super cute (the salt is on the bottom in this instance).

I made these while the girls ate their dinner. It took about 15 minutes in total (not including cooling time), if you heat the fudge mix slower than I did it may take a little while longer, but hopefully not much.

Let me know if you make these and how you get on.

Happy Baking

X

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Mummy in a Tutu

Squires Kitchen Poppy Demonstration

Earlier in the year I completed a one day sugarpaste course at Squires Kitchen International School. Squires is a kitchen shop in Farnham, Surrey and they have a cookery school located behind the shop. This is a well renowned school, which was started by a lady called Beverly Dutton in her kitchen! It is amazing what you can achieve if you set your mind to it. The School runs courses all year round and not all of the classes require previous experience. Many of them are just for fun. Find out more here. They also often run evening demonstrations and exclusive shopping experiences, which are extremely good value for money.

This week I attended their Poppy demonstration and VIP shopping experience in recognition of Armistice Day. The demonstration lasted an hour and was very easy to follow and understand. There was a camera positioned above the tutor so everyone could see clearly what she was doing. The tutor had a few ‘blue peter moments’ where she had each stage already prepared so we could see the effect we were looking for before constructing the finished product. Each attendee was given a goodie bag which was filled with baking stuff.

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After the demonstration we were shown round to the shop, which was open after hours exclusively for us with special offers on for the evening.  As my Grandma has asked me to make a Christmas themed cake for December I went and stocked up on all the things I needed for that plus a little extra.

I am already a huge fan of Squires Kitchen. Their courses are accessible to all people of all baking abilities and their tutors and staff are really friendly. I was, of course, rooting for them during Great British Bake Off: The Professionals, which they won this year. They have that trophy proudly displayed within the school. The products they make themselves such as the flower paste and food colours are of extremely high quality, where possible I will choose their SK range over another.  All of their products are available on their online shop.

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I can’t wait to attend more of their classes or demonstrations. Aside from everything I have already said it can’t be ignored that part of why I enjoyed this evening so much was because it was a chance for a little ‘me’ time. A little break from being Mummy, I even had to leave before bath time. Lucky Hubby got to do that all by himself.

I paid for this demonstration and all items for myself.  Squires did not pay me in any way for this post (in fact they don’t even know I am writing it).  I would simply like to tell you all about my fun evening.

Fireworks Biscuits

I like to mark the traditional occasions in the best way I know how… With baking!

For those who are not familiar with it November 5th in Britain is Bonfire Night.  Or otherwise known as Guy Fawkes Night.  Guy Fawkes was a man who specialised in explosives and was part of a gang in the early 1600’s who plotted to blow up Parliament. This was a religiously motivated plot and although Guy Fawkes wasn’t the mastermind or leader of the group (that was a man named Robert Catesby) he has become the most famous figurehead for the plot.  It is his face the group Anonymous use for their masks (incase you didn’t already know).  It is actually a very interesting time in history and I could go on about it but I won’t.  If you fancy reading more about the Gun Powder Plot then check out Wikipedia or The History Learning Site.

If I’m honest I find it a little strange that we still celebrate this occasion over 400 years later.  Not only do we celebrate it but we burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on top of a bonfire, which is usually made by local school children and often paraded through the streets.  This is followed by a fireworks display (in sure its symbolic) that, if your lucky, the event organisers time to music.  I can’t guarantee the music will be any good but hey ho.  Alongside this all towns and villages across the country get the joys and delights of the fun fare.  All in the interest of tradition you understand!

With halloween the week before it is pretty much just a run up to get yours and your childrens’ guts ready for a barrage of sugary treats over the next couple of months.

Anyway… Where was I? Oh yes.  Baking.  Well to commemorate this bizarre tradition I decide to make some biscuits.  Hubby requested vanilla not gingerbread (I am already trying to sneak in the Christmas flavours) so I duly obliged.  Next time I’m not going to ask him.  I wanted to make some flame or fire ones but I didn’t really have the right food colouring so they didn’t work.  Well they worked, and looked like fire, just not of the right colour.  What really worked where my Firework biscuits.

I chose to make them with black icing to help the colours stand out. Once the icing had dried over a couple of hours I piped on lines and dots of various colours using a number 1 Wilton nozzle.  To make all of the colours including I used Sugarflair gel colours:

  • Black: Liquorice
  • Purple: Violet
  • Green: Lemon/Lime
  • Blue: Baby Blue
  • Pink: Pink
  • Orange: Tangerine/Apricot

Et voila!

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Let me know what you think! And stay tuned for more baking extravaganzas… Christmas is coming after all and I have some grand plans….

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Mummy in a Tutu

My October Baking Showcase

October has been an extremely busy baking month for me.  First there was the Cake and Bake Show which certainly gave me more inspiration than I knew what to do with!  Then there was Hubby’s birthday and what is the point in having a baker for a life if she can’t make you a decent cake? So I did!  Then a friend had asked me to make her daughters birthday cake for her.  I was so flattered to be asked I was never going to say no.

So here is a round up of what I made.

First up were Chocolate and Lime Macarons.  I made green macarons and filled with with a dark chocolate ganache and a homemade lime curd in the middle. (These were really good).

 

Obviously in the interest of jumping on the blogger Halloween train I made some Halloween Biscuits.

Next up, after a suggestion from another friend, I made Gin and Elderflower Macarons.  This time they were grey macarons filled with an elderflower buttercream and a gin and tonic jelly.

 

Pinky requested pink cake… Obviously it had to be pink! So together we made some pink Vanilla Cupcakes with a Vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream.

 

Up next was Hubby’s birthday cake.  I took this opportunity to make two types of cake I had always want to try in one go.  A Sprinkle Piñata Cake.  The smarties in the middle were a huge surprise to him.  It had to be smarties as they are his favourite.

 

Lastly the birthday cake for my friends little girl.  I was given a brief of a chocolate cake and a picture of the sort of thing she wanted.  This was my interpretation and I was very please with it…. I hope my friend was too.

 

November will be filled with baking but it is unlikely to be this full….  Hopefully one day soon I will be able to bake even more than this.

Gin & Tonic Jelly

A couple of weeks ago a friend suggested gin and elderflower macarons to me.  I got very excited about the idea and after a little thought and consideration I decided the best way to do this would me to put a little jelly in the middle.  This is what I decided to make.  Naturally it made far too much for one batch of macaron so I made some individual dessert portions.  Naturally Hubby and I struggled through and ate them.

Ingredients:

3x Gelatine leaf

125g Caster sugar

80ml Gin

150ml Tonic water

3 limes

Method: 

  1. Put the gelatine leaves in a bowl with some water until they are just covered.  Leave these to soak for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put the sugar in a saucepan with 200mls of water and bring to the boil whilst stirring.
  3. Once this has boiled for about 5-10 minutes it should be nice a syrupy.  Put this to one side to cool for a few minutes.
  4. Stir in the gin, tonic and juice of 3 limes to the syrup.
  5. Decant into a jug to make it easier to pour and remove any froth.
  6. Pour into individual glasses and put into the fridge to set, at least over night is best.

Serve with a lime wedge or zest.

Next time I am going to layer the jellies, one gin and tonic and one lime.  This should jazz up its appearance and hopefully mellow the strength of the gin.

I used Tanqueray Gin for this jelly because although it has a high alcohol content it has a more delicate gin flavour than some of the cheaper brands.  Its all down to personal taste so if you prefer another brand then use that.

Look how clear it was….!

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Halloween Biscuits

As Halloween is fast approaching and my Instagram feed is fill with beautiful pictures of pumpkins and autumnal colours I decided to jump on the bandwagon and join in the best way I know how…. with baking.

For this I used my biscuit and icing recipe from my Iced Gems post.  I rested the dough in the fridge for an hour which made it much easier to roll out and I baked it for a little longer as the biscuits were a lot larger.

This was the end result:

I would make a few changes to some of the decoration next time, especially to the ghost and night scene ones but since I thought these up out of this air I was impressed with myself.

National Baking Week: Cadbury Double Decker Recipes

I will admit I wasn’t s massive chocolate lover until my second pregnancy where Flakes became a standard craving.  Now I eat chocolate all the time and I often find myself baking chocolate flavoured delights.

I was asked if I would share these recipes on the blog and since they all looked so tasty and easy to follow I was more than happy to oblige.  Let me know if any of you try these and please feel free to tag me in your pictures or blog posts.  I’d love to see how you all got on.

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