Hi there, thank you for stopping by. This Loaf of Crunchy Seeded Bread is seriously scrumptious! It simply tastes amazing. Each mouthful filled with the taste of fresh bread, poppy, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds. It has to be tasted to be believed!!
I mixed and proved this loaf in my bread maker, but I will show you how to make this Crunchy Seeded Bread using a stand mixer and by hand as well. This really is a super easy recipe.
Recipe : Makes a small, approx 1lb loaf
260ml Water – tepid
7g Sachet Dried Yeast
1tbsp Runny Honey
450g/1lb White Flour
4tbsp Mixed Seed (I used a mixture of poppy, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin)
1tbsp Unsalted Butter – plus extra for greasing the loaf tin
1/2tsp Salt – I use Kosher, free flowing
Bowl – refers to bread maker tin, stand mixer bowl or large bowl for hand mixing.
Place the water, yeast and honey into the bowl. Swish around with clean fingers to mix. Add the flour, butter and salt. Do not add any seeds yet.
If using a bread maker set to mix and prove.
If using a stand mixer, attach a dough hook, mix for 10 minutes. Remove dough and place in a buttered bowl cover in cling film and leave until doubled in size (1-2 hours).
If hand mixing, bring all the ingredients together with your hand. Place on a very lightly floured worktop. Knead for a good 10 minutes. If the dough gets sticky, keep kneading and working it – if you add extra flour the finished bread will be dry. After a good 10 minutes kneading, the dough should have a smooth elasticity. Place the kneaded dough into a buttered bowl, cover in cling film and leave until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
Knock back the dough by gently punching the risen dough. Add 3 tbsp of the mixed seeds and knead into the dough – in the bowl, until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough, (if using a bread machine I always pop it back on a quick mix cycle for 2 mins add 3tbsp of seeds so they mix and distribute evenly through the dough).
Turn the seeded bread dough out onto a lightly floured work top. Stretch the dough out and fold each end (a third of the dough) back into the centre. Turn the dough by a quarter and repeat. Turn and repeat the folding twice more (4 times in total). This builds structure into your loaf.
Into a buttered 2lb (8″Lx 4″W x 5″D) place your shaped loaf. Lightly brush the surface with water and sprinkle over the remaining tablespoon of mixed seeds, pressing them lightly into the top of the dough.
Cover with a clean cotton tea towel and place in a draught free place until doubled in size – 1-2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan).
Place the proved dough into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. The bread should be a dark golden brown and sound hollow when knocked, with your knuckle in the base. I actually turn my loaf straight out into the oven rack to crisp up the base whilst I quickly wash the loaf tin up – CAREFUL THE TIN IS VERY HOT!!
Remove the CrunchySeeded Bread from the oven, remove from the tin (if not already done) and place on a cooling rack.
Breathe in deeply. It doesn’t matter how many times I bake bread, the smell is amazing!!
Now you have to wait until the loaf is cooled, or only just warm. If you try to cut through the bread when it’s hot it’ll just go squishy. It’s worth the wait – I promise!
Allowing the bread to cool makes the crumb lighter and helps the loaf keep it’s shape.
Yummy, scrummy a big bite for my rumbly tummy!
This Crunchy Seeded Bread is perfect for toast ( I know I said that about Oat White Bread – I can have two favourites?!), dunking in soup, eating with Chilli – in fact this bread is perfect for any occasion which requires bread! So I guess you could call this a maintenance loaf – perfect for feasting and sharing!
Hi there everybody, thanks for stopping by to take a look at these delicious , Raspberry Almond Muffins. Ideal with a mug of steaming coffee for Breakfast, Elevensies, Mid Afternoon Snack, or anytime your tummy rumbles and your next meal is too far away!!
What I love about these Raspberry AlmondMuffins is they aren’t too sweet, they are proper muffins, dense and moist. Each mouthful filled with the tartness of Fresh Raspberries and the sweet crunch of the flaked Almonds!
This recipe is very easy, you can use fresh or frozen Raspberries (defrosted) and from start to finish these can be made and baked in half an hour!
Whisk or beat the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy. I used an electric whisk, you’ll see why as you read through the recipe!
Add the eggs slowly, one at a time, until they are fully incorporated in the batter. The eggs MUST be room temp for the mixture not to curdle (curdling makes a slightly heavier muffin/cake ). If the mixture starts to curdle add in a tablespoon of your flour, whisk away and watch as your mixture comes, beautifully together again!
Next add the salt, vanilla and almond extracts and half of your raspberries (along with any juice, if using defrosted, frozen raspberries). Whisk until thoroughly combined and enjoy the pretty, natural pink colour!!
Now add the ground almonds, flour and baking powder.
I now switch to a spoon and finish mixing the batter by hand. Using the folding technique I mix until the batter is just combined.
Place 18 Muffin/Cupcake cases in Muffin tins. Then using an ice cream scoop (or 2 spoons) fill each Muffin case with a scoopful of Raspberry and Almond Muffin batter (if using spoons fill the cases halfway).
For the final finish, pop a raspberry (or two – depending how many you have) on the top of each mound of batter.
Next evenly sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of the uncooked Muffins, very gently pressing them into the batter.
Place the muffin tins into the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if they turn a darker, golden colour than vanilla cupcakes – these Muffins have whole Raspberries whisked into a batter that is 50% ground Almonds (instead of 100% flour) the darker colour means they’re cooked!!!
Gorgeous, crunchy on the outside, soft and moist inside. The perfect balance of sweet and tart.
Hi there, how are you today? These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are so easy to make and are perfect for weekend breakfast with a large mug of Coffee! They truly define the meaning of Lazy Weekend Breakfast Feasting.
Obviously, you don’t have to restrict eating these at breakfast time or just at the weekend – although, as scrummy as they are, I wouldn’t recommend having them everyday! These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are treats, in fact I had them for my birthday brekkie last year (& that was mid week!).
This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself. After following her recipe a few times I fiddled with it a bit. The buns were scrummy, but I wanted Pecan nuts inside my buns and preferred the use of Sultanas. I also changed the ratio of ingredients, as I changed from American cup measures to Metric weight. I was extremely pleased with the results, I hope you will be to and this easy recipe will inspire you to have a go at making these buns!
Firstly, I should say that these Sticky Sultana Pecan Buns are made upside down! That is, they are very similar, in method, to an upside down cake – meaning that you place a brown sugar/butter mixture along with Pecan nuts into the bottom of a deep muffin/cupcake tin, place the buns in top and then when cooked turn the buns out so the bottom of the bun becomes the top!
Don’t worry! It’s not as confusing as it sounds and I am ALWAYS amazed that the buns turn out perfectly, they never stick and always look so impressive for such little effort. In fact it really is a Ta Dah moment (I imagine a drumroll in my head!) that never ceases to amaze me and I always end up with a huge smile on my face!
Just aquick note : A proper deep muffin/cupcake tin must be used for this recipe. A bun/fairy cake tin is too shallow, not only will it be too small for your buns, but you’ll also end up with butter dripping all over your oven. I also place a baking sheet, a little larger than my cupcake tin, on the rack below, just in case any butter bubbles up and drips over – soo much easier to clean than the whole oven!!
Recipe : Makes 12Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns
For the Topping:
150g/5oz Butter – unsalted and softened
75g/3oz Light, Soft Brown Sugar
100g/4oz Pecan Nuts – roughly chopped
For the Buns :
450g/1lb Pack Shop Bought All Butter Puff Pastry
1tbsp Butter – melted
1 1/2tsp Cinnamon
150g/5oz Light, Soft Brown Sugar
100g/4oz Pecan Nuts – roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 200C (185C fan).
Firstly, for the topping of the buns mix the softened butter and sugar until well combined.
Using a teaspoon (not a teaspoon measure) scoop 1/2 a teaspoon of the butter/sugar mixture and place into the bottom of the muffin tin, repeating 11 more times.
Next, divide the 100g of Pecan nuts between each of the muffin cups, placing them on top of the sugar/butter mixture. Remember, although this is going into the bottom of the tin, when turned out this will become the topping of the Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns!
Now for the Buns :
Lightly dust the worktop with plain, white flour. Roll out the all butter puff pastry, with a floured rolling pin. You need a square shape that is approx 34 x 34cm.
Next, trim the top and bottom of the pastry square and brush with the melted butter. Then sprinkle the sugar evenly over the whole of the square.
Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly over the sugar layer.
Now you can sprinkle firstly the Sultanas and the the chopped Pecan nuts, so they cover the pastry evenly.
Starting at the front edge of the pastry, evenly roll over the edge of the pastry, tucking it under itself ( not too tightly). Then proceed to roll until you have a log shape, with the join underneath.
Next, using a sharp knife, mark the middle of the log. Then mark each half of the log in the middle. Now divide each marked section into 3 separate pieces. You should now have 12 buns!
Carefully place each bun, cut side up, on top of the butter/sugar/Pecan mixture in the muffin tin. Squish a little bit if needed and don’t worry if a little of the filling falls out in transit, you can always pop errant Pecans and Sultanas into any gaps once all the buns are in the muffin tin!
Place the tin into a preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. The Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are cooked when the pastry is golden and puffed.
I just love to watch them bubbling and breath in their cinnamon scent when they first come out of the oven – it’s the little things in life that give me most pleasure!!!!!
Wait a few (3 ish but no longer than 5) minutes, then wearing oven gloves place a baking sheet (that is at least the same size as your muffin tin) over the top of the muffin tin and turn over. I promise the buns will drop out! Remove the muffin tin and stare in amazement at your gorgeous Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns– all 12 of them!! See I told you, they really are easy and they turn out every single time.
Leave to cool – remember all that bubbling and sizzling was butter and sugar boiling very hot!!
Serve warm with nothing but a hot drink of your choice, sit back, relax and smile!
These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are perfect for breakfast, brunch, mid afternoon coffee. I think these are at their most delicious shared with friends & family who unexpectedly pop round! These are best served warm, so pop in a 140C oven whilst the kettle boils and serve with a steaming cup of coffee and a smile!
These scrummy Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns keep well in an airtight container for up to 5 days. They can also be frozen for up to 1 month. When needed, remove from freezer, place on a baking sheet and allow to defrost (this doesn’t take long 1-2 hrs depending on the room temperature), refresh and warm in a 180C oven for 5 minutes and serve.
I really hope that you give the Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns a try as not only are they easy to make, they are scrumptious and everyone who tries them has a big smile on their face!!!
Hello, how are you today? If you’ve taken a look at my blog before, you might have noticed that I rather like Cookies, ooh and Biscuits (is there a difference??)! This recipe for Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies started forming in my brain last week – but I was out of oats. I’m very glad I ordered some with my shopping cos these Cookies are scrumptiously moreish!!
I like to play around with textures as well as tastes and with these Crumbly Oaty Cookies you also get nice nuggets of Apricot which have a lovely chewy texture. The addition of Demerera sugar also adds a very slight toffee taste and extra crunch. So all good then!
The first batch of Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies were made and baked. My special friend and chief taste tester agreed to the arduous task of tasting them – it’s a tough job, but she manages!!! They were given a thumbs up!! Obviously I had to try one as well and they are scrummy, plus with fruit and oats in them they must be good for you. Well that’s my theory anyhow!!
In a bowl cream the butter and sugars together, ideally with an electric whisk (by hand with a wooden spoon is fine, just ensure the mixture is well beaten.
Add the egg yolk, vanilla extract and salt to the mixture and beat in well. Take the dried Apricots and chop them roughly into small 1/2cm pieces. You want the pieces of Apricot small enough so that they distribute evenly throughout the cookie dough, but big enough to be golden nuggets of chewy fruit that contrast with the crumbly cookie texture.
Into the bowl add the oats, flour and place the chopped apricots on top. Mix together until just combined.
Scoop a desert spoonful of the cookie dough and shape into a ball using your hands. I placed 6 cookie dough balls on both of the baking trays I used. Obviously the bigger the ball, the larger the cooked cookie will be!
Note : Unless you are confident that your baking trays are non stick, it’s best to line them with parchment paper.
Lightly press down on the dough balls, to flatten them into an even round shape. Place the baking trays in the I’ve and cook for 15-25 minutes until golden brown on the bottom (see photo). Again the cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of your cookies.
If the bottom is not golden (as above) return your cookies to the oven for an extra couple of minutes. The first tray I got out of the oven looked fine, however, when I tried to turn the cookie over to check the underneath, it completely fell apart – I put the tray bake in the oven for an extra 5 minutes and the photo above shows the result!
When cooked properly, even whilst still warm, the cookie will hold it’s shape, allowing you to check the underside. Leave the cookies to cool completely on the baking tray.
Whilst cooling, ring a friend, or your mum, or someone you’ve been meaning to invite round for ages. Pop the kettle on, quickly clean up (vacuum, throw some bleach down the loo, anti bac wipe the cat…..). No, no, no!! Whoever you’ve invited round doesn’t want to see you (and the cat!) frazzled to within an inch of your life. Relax. Put on some whale music if necessary (although if you need that you might want to invite so and so tomorrow – just saying!!!).
Enjoy feasting and having a good natter, with a friend, over Apricot Oat Crumble Cookies. Have fun catching up and sharing in each other’s news. One of the most precious gifts you can give is your time. We all feel loved and valued when others take time out of their busy schedules to share part of their day with us!
I know, because my sister – who is the best sis in the world – took time out of her day for me today. Thanks babes, love you with all my heart xx.
Hi there, as I look out of the window I can see it’s ‘Cloudy – with more than a chance of Meatballs, for dinner!’ I know, very bad joke but I couldn’t resist. The same way I couldn’t resist making Meatballs today after seeing someone cook them on TV yesterday!!!
I haven’t a clue which, if any, recipe they were following, these Herb Meatballs in a super Simple Tomato Sauce are my own creation! Let’s hope they are a hit with the family, when served with spaghetti later? Oh who am I kidding? Hunger default status is always STARVING with our family when Meatballs are on the menu!!
I’ve used a combination of beef mince and pork sausage meat for these little Meatballs. I have made them using all beef, but I find them a bit heavy (even using breadcrumbs & egg to lighten them). I’ve also made Turkey meatballs, but that’s a whole kettle of fish ( not that they contain fish!)!!!!!
Just aquick note : There is a bit of prep work involved in making these meatballs, but the tomato sauce is so quick it really takes no longer than making a bolognaise sauce and the meatballs really do make a delicious change – so I think it’s worth it? If you try this recipe I’d love to know how get on?
Recipe : This serves 6-8 hungry people!
For the Meatballs
1 Large Onion
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2lb (750g)Beef Mince (pref. less than 10% fat content)
1lb (500g) Pork Sausage meat
1 Large Garlic Clove
2 Fresh Sage Leaves (1/4tsp dried sage)
3 Fresh Thyme Sprigs (1/4tsp dried thyme)
1tsp Sea salt (1/2tsp free flowing salt)
1 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
For the Simple Tomato Sauce
2 x 400g Tinned Chopped Tomatoes
2tbsp Tomato Puree
2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme (1/4tsp dried thyme)
1/2tsp Sea salt (1/4tsp free flowing salt)
1/2tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Method : Making the Meatballs
Chop up the onion as finely as possible. Add the oil to a frying pan and sauté over a low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent, but not browned.
Set the pan aside and allow the onions to cool down. Place the minced beef, sausage meat, cooled onion, salt, pepper, minced garlic and freshly chopped (or dried) herbs.
Using a fork, gently combine all the ingredients together. I’ve found, if I squish them together using my hand (I like squishing, it’s fun – so if I could, I would!!!!) the meatballs end up too dense.
Next, scoop about a teaspoonful of mixture and lightly roll into a ball in between your hands – wet hands make the job easier! Continue until all of the meatball mixture is used up – I managed 54 meatballs!!
Heat the pan that you used for sautéing the onions on a medium heat – I didn’t add any more oil, but feel free if yours isn’t non stick. Add the meatballs so they only form one layer in the pan (overcrowding the pan means the meatballs won’t have contact with direct heat and won’t brown properly). Leave them for 1-2 minutes and then gently turn, repeating the process until the meatballs are nicely browned all over (as they were so small I found it easier to turn them in the pan using 2 desert spoons instead of tongs). Remove from the pan and place on a clean plate.
Making the Simple Tomato Sauce
Using the same pan as before, discard any remaining oil safely – it will be hot so allow to cool and wipe the pan with a handful of kitchen roll. Now add 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, refilling each tin, roughly halfway with water, swill around to catch every bit of juice a pour into the pan. Add the tomato purée, herbs, sugar,salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and leave to bubble away gently for 30-40 minute. The Simple Tomato Sauce is done!!
Place the meatballs in a large, ovenproof dish and pour over the tomato sauce. Heat through for 30-40 minutes, until piping hot and then serve with pasta, rice, crusty bread or even a salad!!
This can easily be a GLUTEN AND DAIRY FREE dish if you use sausage meat – without rusk or wheat added (I buy mine from www.graigfarmirgaincs), as no breadcrumbs or egg are added to the meatball mixture.
A delicious dish that everyone (well not vegetarians I guess) that can be shared and feasted on by friends and family!
Hi there, thank you for stopping by to take a look at my Recipe for Turkey and Leek Pie, topped with mountains of Mash. This is a fantastic recipe for using up leftover Turkey after Christmas or Thanksgiving!
The News has been awash with statistics and reports of how much food we throw away, or waste as a nation. Now I’m not suggesting you try to make a pie out of the gooey apple, fermenting at the bottom of the fruit bowl – however, lots of us eat Turkey over the holiday period and Roast Chicken (which makes a great substitute for this pie) throughout the rest of the year. This recipe will show you one, easy way to make a delicious meal with leftover Turkey!!
Yesterday we had a roasted Turkey crown for Sunday dinner. It was seriously yummy! But, I was left with one complete Turkey breast, cooked and in the fridge!!! What to do??
Today I decided to make a Turkey and Leek pie, topped with Mashed Potatoes instead of pastry. Alternative toppings for this pie could include : sliced potatoes, flaky pastry, savoury crumble topping, herbed breadcrumbs. If you try any of these please let me know how you get on?
Recipe : This Pie will serve 6 people
1 1/2 – 2 lb (750g- 1Kg) Cooked Turkey cut into 1 inch chunks
2 Medium Leeks
4 oz Butter (split in two)
1 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Vermouth or White Wine
1 tbsp Plain White Flour
1/2 of a Chicken Stock Cube
3 tbsp + extra Whole Milk
1.5 Kg Peeled Potatoes (Maris Piper/Desiree or any floury potato suitable for mashing)
2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Peel and chop the potatoes, place in a saucepan and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt, bring to the boil and then simmer until tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes, place them back into the saucepan with 2 tbsp of butter and milk. Clamp on the lid and leave off the heat for 5 minutes. Next, adding a good grinding of black pepper, mash the potatoes, set aside to cool.
Place 2tbsp of the butter and the Olive oil into a frying pan over a medium heat. Chop the leeks into small dice, rinse thoroughly, pat dry and add to the melted butter and oil in the frying pan.
Ensuring the mash reaches the edges of the pie dish will help stop the sauce from leaking out during cooking.
Add a pinch of salt and sauté over a low heat. You don’t want the leeks to colour, just to become soft and slightly translucent.
Next add 1 tbsp of flour, stirring so the chopped leeks are covered in the flour. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes – this will ensure the finished sauce doesn’t have a floury flavour.
Add a splash of Vermouth or white wine (if you prefer to not use alcohol, just skip this stage). Mix thoroughly over a low heat, cooking for a couple of minutes – this stops the finished sauce from tasting floury! Next add a good splash (30-40mls) of milk.
Crumble in half of a chicken stock cube. When fully incorporated into the sauce, have a quick taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to season. Next strip 2 fresh Thyme sprigs and add the Thyme leaves to the leek sauce. Set to one side and allow to cool.
Cut the cold, cooked Turkey (or chicken) into 1 inch chunks and place into a pie dish. Cover the Turkey with the leek sauce.
Now you can cover the Turkey/Leek mixture with mountains of Mashed Potato. Pile the mash up high and then, using a fork, ruffle up the surface (this will ensure an extra crunchy topping when cooked!).
At this stage the Turkey and Leek Pie can be wrapped in cling film and placed in the fridge for a couple of days until needed. Or double wrapped in cling and popped into the freezer for up to one month – defrost overnight in the fridge before reheating.
To cook the pie, preheat the oven to 190C (175C fan), place the pie dish on a baking sheet. Place in the middle of the oven and cook for 1hour, until bubbling around the sides, golden and crunchy on top and piping hot all the way through.
The ultimate winter comfort food Turkey and Leek Pie, perfect for sharing and sure to put a smile on the face of those who try it!!!!!!
Until next time I hope I’ve inspired you to get creative with leftovers, smile and have fun.
Hello, I hope you are having a good day. Why do I love baking?
Firstly and above all other reasons, I find it really relaxing. I’m constantly amazed that I really can have a batch of cookies, a cake or loaf of breadbaking in the oven in literally minutes!
Secondly I’m always surprised when recipes turn out well. I’m not sure why this is – as I do have a tendancy to ‘interprete’ recipes, as opposed to following them strictly.
Thirdly, I have learnt, over the many years of baking and cooking to trust my nose. Following on from my bad habit if not entirely following recipes to the letter, I also very rarely time things as they are baking or cooking! I know, sooo bad. But, since I’ve started my blog I’m getting better. It’s a work in progress!!!!
Next (fourthly didn’t sound quite right?!) I love the smell emanating from the oven as something is nearing it’s cooked stage. In fact it is this very thing that stops me from timing how long something takes to bake. My nose alerts me, with alarming accuracy!
As with planting a seed, caring and watering the plant that grows, then picking the produce or flowers, so too, in all types of cookery and baking, the ‘magic’ of turning a wet, lumpy mess into moist, delicious muffins never, ever fails to thrill me. Yes I make mistakes, but I am all the better for it, tweaking ingredients, methods etc. It’s fun!!
Once cooked, cooled and sliced looks like this…,.
Baking and cooking allow me to explore the creative side of my nature and I am never short of taste testers who give me the honest feedback I value.
Lastly and following on from the previous point, I get to share! l love the reaction from anyone I share my food with, whether it be the latest homemade ice cream flavour, devoured by our children and their cousins, or an individual portion of lasagne, given to one of my best friends, after a days serious walking (we’re talking 6-10miles here people!!!), knowing, she not only doesn’t have to think about what to have for dinner, but half an hour in the oven and a home cooked meal is ready.
Sharing is such an important part of who I am and so it naturally translates to my baking and cooking.
Many people’s diet is restricted by the fact that they live alone. If I’m making a Chilli for five of us it’s not any bother to make it for 6 people and it is always greatly appreciated.
None more so than by me. The week following our eldest daughter’s birth, neither my husband or I cooked. Family and friends brought round a main meal, everyday of that week. Now I can honestly say we’ve probably tried every single type of Shepherds pie ever made! But do you know what? To a nursing mum (me) and a severely sleep deprived couple, who had absolutely no idea of what parenting was all about, each evening meal was truly wonderful. I was constantly hungry and my gorgeous hubby has never, ever been a fan of cooking and our needs were met.
I have never forgotten the love and practical kindness shown to us, during the earliest days of parenthood (where bathing the baby would take over an hour – I’m not joking!!!).
My aim is to now show that same practical love to others and in doing so encourage others to also share.
It’s amazing how many people you can make smile, just because you take a moment to notice them and share with them!
Hello, thank you for stopping by to take a peek at my blog and the recipe for these scrumptious Almond and Cranberry Cookies.
Just because Cranberries are naturally in season over the holiday period, doesn’t mean you can’t use the dried version any time of the year!
Dried cranberries have a sweet/tart flavour and work wonderfully well in these cookies as they are not too sweet. Most supermarkets stock Craisins (by Ocean Spray) otherwise I’ve found reliable stockists of dried Cranberries on Amazon/eBay.
Recipe : Makes 20 – 30 cookies
5 oz Caster Sugar
8 oz Unsalted Butter (at room temp)
1/4 tsp Salt (I use Kosher – no additives)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Almond Extract
1 Large Egg Yolk (free range if possible)
2 oz Ground Almonds
8 oz. Plain White Flour
4 oz Dried Cranberries
2 oz Flaked Almonds
Preheat the oven to 160C fan ((175C conventional oven).
Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper (if the trays aren’t non stick).
Cream together the butter, sugar and salt, using either an electric whisk (much easier!!) or wooden spoon, until pale and smooth to touch (rub a little of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger, it should not feel grainy).
Whisk/beat in the Egg Yolk, Vanilla and Almond extracts.
I now always switch to a spoon for mixing the dry ingredients, this way I can ‘feel’ when everything is combined and avoid overworking the flour (this can lead to tough cookies).
Add the Plain White Flour, Ground Almonds, Dried Cranberries and Flaked Almonds. Mix until all the ingredients are just combined.
Using a teaspoon form small balls (the size of large marbles) of the mixture, approx 12-14 balls – this will use approx half of the mixture.
Place the cookie dough balls, spaced evenly, onto the baking sheets. Lightly press the balls to form 1/4 inch thick disc.
Put both baking trays into the preheated oven and cook for 18-25 mins. They are cooked when they have turned a light, golden colour. Do not expect the cookies to be hard, they will firm up on cooling.
Leave to cool fully on the baking tray.
With the remaining cookie dough, wipe your worktop with a clean cloth and place at least 14 inches of cling film onto the worktop. Where the worktop is damp it will anchor the cling film in place!!
Place the cookie dough onto the cling film, form into a roll (approx 1 1/2 inch diameter). Wrap with the cling film and place in the fridge, it will keep fresh for up to one week. Or you can place in the freezer for up to one month.
Defrost the dough overnight in the fridge. To bake, preheat the oven and remove the dough log 20 minutes before slicing – this allows the dough to warm slightly and will help stop the cookies cracking when being cut.
Slice 1/4 inch (1cm) discs from the dough log, place on baking sheets as before and bake for 18-25 minutes. The time will vary depending on the diameter and thickness of your cookies.
Again they are cooked when lightly golden. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.
These cookies make lovely gifts. Pack a few up in a cellophane bag, tied with a pretty ribbon, reuse a Christmas chocolate tin and fill with Cookies, or pop some into a Kilner jar!
Not only are these so easy to make, you can keep the dough stored in the fridge to whip out when unexpected guests arrive and have freshly baked cookies, ready to share with a smile and a cuppa!
Hello, big apologies for not posting recently. Birthdays (mine included!!!), Christmas preparation, children breaking up from school, flu bugs etc have simply left me with zero time to write. So I thought I’d let you Meet OurPenguins!
But I’m back and have been up since 4.30 this morning – so I thought I’d finally get round to icing our Christmas cake. I had already iced and decorated and delivered my parents – in – law’s cake, but not had the time, or energy to do ours!
So their cake was my second attempt at fondant icing. The bottom of the cake wasn’t brilliant so a silver ribbon secured with a pearl pin covered all my mistakes and my Ma and Pa – in – law were delighted!! It must be said, I have yet to meet anybody who loves Christmas cake as much as they do, so it’ll be interesting to see if it has made it all the way to Spain!!!!!
Today I woke up early and popped downstairs, in the beautiful, peaceful, quiet of a sleeping house and set about decorating our cake and more importantly, giving our Penguins and Snowman a playground!
I will take you through, step by step, the fun I had decorating this years Christmas cake.
For the cake recipe itself, please see
Recipes: Christmas Cake.
For the smaller cake, I used half the cake mixture. Both cakes were covered in marzipan and the fondant in exactly the same way – although the smaller cake obviously used less!! The smaller cake, being only my second attempt at fondant icing, wasn’t finished very neatly at the bottom, where the cake meets the board. This was solved by the addition of a pretty, silver ribbon, strategically placed around the rim of the cake and secured with a pearl topped pin!!!!
PREPARING THE CAKE :
Place your Cake onto the cake board (not the cake stand as I did initially and then got myself covered in jam as I realised my mistake and transferred it to the board!!!!).
Heat approx 3 large tablespoons of apricot jam in a saucepan, on a low heat, until the jam is slightly runny. At this stage you can then sieve the jam to remove any lumps. I didn’t bother as the jam I’d bought was fairly smooth – and it was 5am and I really couldn’t be bothered!!! But feel free to sieve if you want to – remember, it’s just there as a ‘glue’ for the Marzipan to stick to, so no one will see it!!!!
Warm over a low heat until the jam just starts to loosen and become more liquid.
Next, using a pastry brush, completely slather the top and sides of the cake with the jam. Don’t worry if some drips on the board as this can be wiped off later. It really is important to cover the cake thoroughly as the jam will act as the ‘glue’ to which the marzipan sticks.
COVERING WITH MARZIPAN :
Unfortunately Marzipan isn’t as flexible as fondant icing. It has a tendency to tear when rolled into a large disc and draped over the cake, which is the method I use for fondant. As the marzipan will be covered by the fondant icing, I use a different method!
Firstly make sure that you have the cake tin in which you baked you cake to hand. This will be used as a template for the top of the cake and a rough guide for the sides.
On a clean board or worktop place a light dusting of icing sugar, also dust your rolling pin. Take the Marzipan out of the packet (I used a 500g packet each for both cakes. My in- laws love marzipan so I just rolled there’s thicker! Lightly dust your hands with icing sugar a gently knead the marzipan so that it becomes softer and more pliable. As a guide at this point I divide the marzipan into 2 equal balls.
Roll out the first ball, taking care to make sue the marzipan does not become stuck to the worktop. When it looks roughly the size of the top of the cake place the cake tin on top of the marzipan. If it’s not quite big enough roll a little more until you have just over the size of the cake tin. Then using the cake tin as a template, place on top and cut around with a knife.
Using the rolling pin to drape the marzipan over, place the marzipan disc on top of the sticky cake.
Don’t Worry – if the disc isn’t centralised the jam will make it easy to slide the marzipan into the correct position!!!
Next shape the I the half of the marzipan into a square and roll until youhave a long strip of marzipan, using the side of the cake tin as a guide. It’s very hard to get an even length, but don’t worry you then just trim the sides before placing the strip of marzipan around the side of the cake.
If there are any small gaps, use the off cut pieces of marzipan to fill them.
COVERING THE CAKE WITH FONDANT ICING :
Now that the cake is covered in marzipan, the hard bit is over!!! Covering with fondant is going to be a doddle!!!
Firstly, completely clear and wipe down your worktop or board and rolling pin. When you’re working with white fondant, the tiniest speck of anything will show up – that said DON’T STRESS!! Decorations can always be used to hide the odd speck!!
To cover the large cake I used 750g of White Fondant icing.
Knead the fondant with hands lightly dusted in icing sugar. When nice and pliable form into a ball.
Pat the ball into an even disc shape. Using your rolling pin, roll outwards from the centre of the disc, turning the disc by a quarter before rolling again. Ensure there is plenty of icing sugar on the worktop so that the fondant moves freely.
Using the cake tin, again, as a guide, roll out the fondant so that it is wide enough to cover the top and sides of the cake, allowing a good extra couple of centimetres all round to allow for the added marzipan layer.
If you prefer to be more exact with your measurements, add the width ( diameter = D) of the tin plus 2 x the height (H) of the tin plus 2cm.
D + (2 x H) + 2cm = Total width of rolled fondant.
Ensure all measurements use the same unit ie – cm.
Use your rolling pin to drape the fondant over and carefully centralise over the top of the cake. Moving swiftly drape the fondant over the cake.
Note: if the fondant tears badly, remove and start again – the thickness should be that of a £1 coin. Too thick and the fondant will be too heavy and tear, too thin and the fondant will not be strong enough to take the weight of draping.
Working swiftly, use your hands to smooth the fondant over the top and sides of the cake. I found I almost had to ‘tuck in’ the sides of the cake. There will be excess around the sides, just keep smoothing and gradually a beautiful smooth, snow coloured, cake will begin to appear!
Using a small, sharp knife, cut away the excess fondant from the base leaving a good 1-2 cm of excess attached. Pat and tuck this fondant until the side of the cake is completely covered and using the fondant press down to form a seal with the cake board. This will help to keep your cake fresher for longer. However if, like me with the smaller cake, you have an uneven finish around the base, remember you can always cover it with ribbon!!!!
DECORATING YOUR ICED CAKE:
Now the real fun begins!!!
For the smaller cake I cut out a shooting star, using a cutter dusted with icing sugar. I dipped my finger in warm water and dampened the back of the shooting star, this allowed me to ‘stick’ it to the top of the cake. Then using edible glue I outlined the star with silver dragée balls. An elegant and travel friendly decoration (thanks Delia for the inspiration!).
PENGUINS AND SNOWFLAKES :
Seeing as I decided to go ‘off piste’ with my icing this year – usually I use Royal Icing but on a whim, I decided to live dangerously and opt for Fondant. Chuckle you may, but given that one of the Christmas cakes was a gift and I’d actually only ever used Fondant icing once before, I would say that counts as dangerous. But then I like to live life on the edge!!!!!
Seriously, or not, though, is bought the 6 super cute Penguins, The Snowman and for some strange, whimsical reason, thought it’d be fun to have the Penguins skating on an iced lake with The Snowman watching over. That was as organised as I got with the decoration!!!!
So at 6am Christmas Eve my vague idea started to take shape. Firstly I took a blob (approx 70g) of pale blue fondant, kneaded it until soft and formed it into a rough ball shape. Then I rolled it out, a little haphazardly! The shape you see on the cake is literally the shape I ended up with!!!
Then using 3 different sizes of snowflake, plunge cutters (designed for sugar craft) I cut out different sizes of snowflakes. I attached them and the blue, ice lake using edible glue.
NOTE : Use icing sugar to dust your cutters to prevent the fondant from sticking – it only took me half a dozen goes before I realised this!!!!
I placed the snowflakes in an irregular pattern around the side of the cake, allowing some of the smaller snowflakes to edge the top, some falling over the edge. As the lake was an irregular shape, visually I think this worked better than a regular pattern.
I mixed up a thick paste of icing powder, a teaspoon of meringue powder and a little water, to make royal icing. This would ensure the Penguins and Snowman stuck firmly to the cake and board.
Using a small knife I pasted a small amount of the Royal icing to the base of the Snowman and Penguins and placed them on the cake. Honestly this was the best bit! As I was adding the Penguins they all seemed to have their own little personalities. Yes I know we are talking about inedible cake decorations – just look at their little faces and you will see what I mean!
Overall the cake, in my opinion, just has a balance to it. Whilst it isn’t symmetrical it is balanced, but most of all FUN! I’m so glad you got to Meet Our Penguins!
Most of all, I would like to wish everyone a Happy, Peaceful Christmas and Fun, Exciting 2015. Sammie xxxxx
Today’s activities have been dictated by the weather!!! Actually not such a bad thing. I decided originally to make jam today, however it’s not raining and will be later on today, tomorrow, the next day, so on and so forth. Jam is most definitely a wet weather activity at this time of year – especially as I hadn’t yet put my Daffodil bulbs and Viola plants into the front garden flower bed.
I had actually resigned myself (given the very sorry state the Viola plants were in) to not being able to get this last bit of gardening done this year. My back has been playing up and as long as I’m up and about my priority for any given day is to try and get dinner sorted – in the morning, if possible, as my pain levels increase during the day. Also if I can get a wash load on that’s a bonus.
I know it sounds pathetic, but that simply is how it is. I always try and focus on the positive aspects of the day. If I started to look too closely as what I’ve not achieved I think that could lead me into a downward spiral – and that’s not the person I chose to be. Don’t get me wrong, there are days (weeks) that are harder than others and it does occasionally get me down, but I’m an optimistic person by nature, so I chose to look at the good things in my life.
I’m loved, more than I could ever imagine by The Most Amazing God, I have a wonderful family who also love and accept me. Friends that love and accept me despite my inability to be reliable or commit properly to something. I have a lot to be thankful for.
So today was the day for jam making, Except the weather’s good and jam can be made on rainy days!! I didn’t abort all cooking attempts though and decided to see whether some ‘left over’ chocolate covered Brazil nuts would make nice cookies? Oh yeah they do!!
Double Chocolate Brazil Nut Cookies
5oz Dark Brown Muscavado Sugar
8oz Unsalted Butter – room temp
1 Egg yolk – pref free range
1tsp Vanilla Extract
6oz Plain White Flour
2oz Cocoa Powder
2oz Shelled Brazil Nuts – chopped finely, to the same consistency of ground almonds
6oz Chocolate Covered Brazil Nuts
(or 3oz Shelled Brazil Nuts and 3oz Milk Chocolate Chunks)
Preheat the oven to 175C (160C fan)
Place the sugar and butter into a large bowl (I’ve used a clear glass jug as it’s easy to check that all the dry ingredient have been mixed in, later on).
Whisk (or beat vigorously) the butter and sugar together until completely combined and paler in colour. Whisk in the egg yolk, salt and vanilla extract.
Now take the 2oz of shelled Brazil nuts and either using a mini-chopper or food processor, chop finely until it has the same texture of ground almonds. Add these finely chopped nuts, the cocoa and the flour to the bowl.
Now chop the chocolate covered Brazil nuts roughly (do the same for plain Brazils if using).
Add the roughly chopped Brazils and gently mix all the dry ingredients into the sugar/butter mix. Make sure you combine all the dry ingredients that have dropped to the bottom of the bowl. Once everything is combined STOP!! If you overwork the mixture the dough will become tough and will affect the finished cookie.
Next, using a desert spoon and eating knife, drop golf ball sized dollops of the cookie dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Dampen your hand and gently press down on the cookie dough to slightly flatten it. This mixture is very sticky so you may need to rinse your hands, in cold water, in between squishing the cookie dough.
Place in the preheated oven and cook for 20-25 minutes. Keep a close eye on your cookies whilst cooking, it’s much harder to tell if chocolate cookies are burnt by sight!! the cookies are ready when the tops have a sugary, slightly shiny surface. When cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely and firm up on the baking sheet.
It’s time to pop the kettle on!!! Place the cold cookies in an airtight container, or pop a few into cellophane bags tied with pretty ribbon and give as gifts
I’m sharing mine with my official ‘Taste Tester’ the Green Goddess, whose honest feedback and encouragement is invaluable.
It really is so much more fun sharing what you’ve baked with others – and they enjoy it too!!