Christmas Cookies

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After seeing how easy it is to make gingerbread men I purchased a new cookie cutter and along with some little gingerbread cookies made this sweet tree.  May have got a bit fancy with the icing baubles, it felt nicer to leave it all white rather than have smarties stuck to it. Next attempt with be smartie cookies!

– Lauren

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Blueberry Muffins

blueberry muffins

Once I attempted to make muffins without muffin cases in a shallow cupcake baking tray…as you can probably guess that turned into a messy disaster with no muffins to show. I recently attempted again to make them as I love muffins and buying four for a pound is a bargain but not when you could make 12 a little extra at home!

I have a shallow cupcake baking tray as I haven’t ever thought to buy a muffin one if I know I can’t make muffins, SO I lined each little crater with a muffin case. Made the mixture, split it between the 12 and voila! I made blueberry muffins!

The major tip I think that helped this be a success was Mary Berry suggested the mixture shouldn’t be handled too much, maybe about twenty folds maximum by hand, it should still be fairly lumpy and runny. I put complete trust into that lady and did what she said, and she was so right. I must admit I did think I was being set up for a second disaster as runny lumpy mixtures aren’t usually what you aim for in a cake mixture!

A couple of faults with these were that I followed the fruit ratio to the gram, meaning I had big juicy blueberries overpowering my muffins, although they didn’t bleed too much, there were just too many in a mouthful, so next time I will half the amount I fold in. I also feel like the muffins were shallow, even though they rose lovely. This is where a deep muffin tray might make better results as they will grow up rather than up and very very outwards!

Another tasty treat ticked off the list, I usually hate cooked fruit but in a muffin it’s quite irresistible. Now looking for suggestions for another new bake please!

Lemon Drizzle Traybake

lemon drizzle

I haven’t been on here for a while, mainly because life has been very hectic and I have just moved into my own flat with the boyfriend!! Of course, life is never too hectic for a spot of therapeutic baking!

My latest sweet treat that has been an absolute hit with myself and others is a lemon drizzle tray bake…which turned out to be a lemon drizzled massive square muffin! I got the recipe from Mary Berry of course as her traditional methods work well for me. It was also the first time I tried making a drizzle icing, so easy and simple so I am not sure why I haven’t done it before. I couldn’t resist licking the spoon either, so sugary and sweet.

It was also a first for me to use lemon zest! Normally I ignore this part of recipes and just squeeze the life out of some lemons. I thought as this was supposed to taste lemony I best follow it well, so I grated two skins of lemons, amazing! I can’t wait to give this a go with all different citrus fruits to add more taste to my future bakes.

My issue is always that I get a good rise on my bakes, it sounds so arrogant but I just follow recipes or stick to the classic ‘same weight as eggs’ method and my pots and pans can’t cater for the amounts! I always take a risk pouring all of the mixture into a tin and hope it bakes well, so next time I think I will try and split my mixture into to tins and make two bakes?

If you want to give this bake a try, you can find the delicious recipe in Mary Berry’s ‘Cookery Course’ book which is full of amazing ideas and methods. This has become a kitchen staple of mine and it was a bargain for only £9.99 from £25 in my local TK Maxx!

Blueberry and Lemon Loaf

Okay my signature bake appears to be simple muffin loaf things! My most recent bake has been a blueberry and lemon loaf.

Following my usual rule of weighing the eggs and using equal amounts of self-raising flour, sugar and a little less butter, this was so quick to mix together.

I haven’t ever used blueberries to bake with but from watching The Great British Bake Off I know they can be a right pain and prone to sinking, so I covered these in flour before carefully stirring into the mixture. Some stayed up but quite a few unfortunately sunk so I need to look into how to prevent this from happening!

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This tasted buttery and the lemon wasn’t too overpowering of the blueberries. It makes a perfect but naughty breakfast alternative!

Syrup Loaf

After the success of my Banana Bread I felt encouraged to make a syrup sponge cake/ loaf. With lots of syrup and sugar this turned out quite a hit with the family and the burnt top was quickly over looked.

Ingredients
225g self-raising flour
220g butter
225g sugar
3 eggs or an amount equivalent or near to 225g
4 tbsp golden syrup
A splash of milk!

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I never really follow set recipes, I tend to just read how other people make their tasty treats and take the bits I like and alter to suit my own baking preferences. The ingredients are nothing fancy just things I already had in the cupboard. As you can see a splash of milk is vague because whenever I follow a recipe to the word, the moment I add the milk it just turns to slush or it’s too dry still and I feel like I can’t add anymore! So using initiative helps when baking and going off course can lead to great results.

So I just threw the sugar and flour into a plastic mixing bowl, no sieve! Cut some butter and mash it in with a wooden spoon. Crack the eggs. Add the syrup. Stir with wooden spoon. I added a big drizzle of syrup too which was beautiful to look at! A splash of milk added whilst stirring.

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After about 8 minutes of stirring by hand (I don’t like the electric whisk) my mixture was ready to go! I made too much to fit into my cake tin and I have only got the one. So instead of throwing mixture away I filled the tin up (recipe for baking disaster). Carefully put on the top shelf of the oven which by the way was preheated at gas mark 4. Recommended cooking time is until you see a nice rise and slight browning on top.

If in doubt stick a knife in and out. If it’s clear you can cheer!
– my baking jingle.

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I knew the tin was too full but I got lucky and the middle cooked with only a slight crisp layer on top. Finally I drizzled more syrup over the warm top and let it sink in. I ate this warm and it was divine, I at this cold and it was also divine. I think I just like sweet syrup cake and was thankful it cooked.

2015 will see a lot more adventurous baking from me as it’s so therapeutic and a great hobby to have.

Kitchen Challenge 2015

If you have read my about me page, you will know I am trying to invest my free time into a new hobby. I’ve been trying a bit of everything and making delicious foods is something I want to be able to say I can do!

As a challenge for 2015 I hope I can make something new at least once a week that is edible, in the hope that when I fly the nest and have my own home I will be able to cook up an array of tasty treats and know I won’t go hungry.

Starters/lunch
Vegetable soup

Mains
Chicken pie
Shepard’s pie
Chicken curry

Desserts
Rainbow cupcakes
Tiffin
Baileys chocolate cake

The list will be added to as I find new ideas and I will write a post for each thing I make to keep me motivated. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I love fruit and vegetables but I’m not vegetarian. The only foods I don’t touch are anything that comes under seafood!