Monday, 17 December 2007

Christmas Gingerbread Biscuits

Only 8 more days to go! 'Holidays are coming...'

My sister-in-laws came to stay over the weekend and wanted to make gingerbread biscuits to hand out as favours at her christmas party so I used a slightly different recipe from last time. We had great fun making them and a great weekend catching up together.

I found this recipe easier to follow than the first one I tried. I found the recipe in the bbcgoodfood magazine that Saff gave me (thanks!). It really is quite simple to follow and doesn't take up to much christmas shopping time!

All you need is:
125g/4.5oz unsalted butter
100g/4oz dark muscovado sugar
3.5tbsp golden syrup
300g plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

icing sugar, silver balls and sprinkles to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4. Take a small pan and slowly melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan over a low heat. Take a medium bowl and sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger, mix all together and then pour the melted butter mixture in with it and stir until all the flour is covered. It should form a stiff dough but if it doesn't quite come together add a small splash of water.

Roll out the mixture on a clean surface using a rolling pin and use christmas shapes to cut out shapes. I used a star, a snowman and a tree. Place them onto a large tray covered in baking paper and place them into the oven for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave them to cool before decorating!
I used plain icing sugar mixed with water to make thick white icing and used a knife to smarten up the edges. My sisters then decorated them with sprinkles, silver balls and coloured icing!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Christmas Countdown

I can't believe how close it is to christmas, i've still got so many presents to buy, cards to write, things left to bake! I love this time of year when it's bitter cold outside and everyone hurries around the shops all wrapped up warm in coats, hats and scarfs. I love the feel of christmas and the excitment and I'm so excited to home and visit all my friends and family! Ooooh the countdowns on....

Monday, 10 December 2007

Christmas Cupcakes

You all know how much I love baking cupcakes, well i couldn't resist the urge to make christmas cupcakes. My sister in law bought me these amazing christmas red, white and green sprinkles. Some are shaped like mini candy canes and the other ones are snowflakes! I love the red and green colour against the clean crisp white of the icing, the contrast is great! I used a normal victoria sponge recipe for the sponge (see previous post) and vanilla icing. While the icing was still wet I dipped them into the sprinkles that I had poured onto different plates. I'm thinking of trying to make mini fruit cake cupcakes next week but with all these christmas partys and nights out will have the time?! I'm of to make mince pies now, yum!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

White chocolate and cranberry cookies

These christmas cookies taste like christmas heaven! They are just so sweet and the hint of white and red make these the perfect christmas treat! You can easily munch your way through 5 or 6 while watching christmas films by the fire (if only I had a fire, mmm!)

All you need is:
110g/4oz unsalted butter
110g/4oz golden sugar
110g/4oz light muscovado sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
170g/6oz plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
150g/5oz white chocolate cut into small pieces
85g/3oz dried cranberries

Make sure (as always) you preheat the oven to 190c/375f/gas mark 5. In a medium bowl beat the butter together with the caster sugar and the muscovado sugar. In a seperate bowl beat the egg together with the vanilla extract using a fork. Pour this into the other bowl and mix it together. Add the flour, baking powder and saltand blend all the ingrediants together. Finally add in the cranberries and white chocolate and mix again!

Line 2 large baking trays with grease proof paper and use your hands to shape the dough into little balls and place them on the tray leaving plenty of space for them spread. Bake for about 10 minutes in the oven and then leave them to cool. After a few minutes transfer them to a wire rack!

The recipe is taken from the BBC food website and it should make about 35 cookies. They should be crisp around the outside and chewy and gooey on the inside. Ooooh I can't believe it's nearly christmas; my husband has gone out to buy a tree.....

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Christmas Ginger Biscuits

I love making christmas biscuits and as I was attending my friends dinner party I decided to make some to take along with me! They are great to make with kids over the festive season!

You will need:
65g/2oz butter
50g/2oz soft brown sugar
4tbsp golden syrup
150g/5.25oz plain flour (sieved) and extra for dusting
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

ready made icing from a tube or you can use icing made from icing sugar
edible silver balls to decorate

Preheat the oven before you start to 180c/350f/Gas Mark 4. Take a medium bowl and beat the sugar and the butter together, you can do this using an electric whisk but I used a wooden spoon! Once the mixture looks pale and fluffly add the golden syrup, flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda and beat together. You may want to use your hands once you've mixed everything in to form a dough. Wrap it in clingfilm and place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Dust the surface with a little flour and roll out the dough. Use christmas cutters to cut out shapes and place on a baking tray covered with grease proof paper. Do this until all the dough is used up and then place them in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow them to cool for a few minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack.

Once they are completly cooled you can begin to decorate them with whatever you like! I used icing made from icing sugar, water and vanilla extract, tube icing in white, green and red and silver balls to give them a real christmas effect!

I think these would make lovely christmas presents wrapped up in boxes tied with lots of ribbon! My friends enjoyed eating them and I think you will to! I followed this recipe from one I found on the BBC food website, there are some great ideas on there for cooking christmas dinner and other great christmas food!

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Apple and pear Crumble

This isn't really part of my christmas baking but I thought I would do a quick post about one of my favourite puddings - apple and pear crumble! It makes a lovely warm hearty dessert on a cold winter's afternoon and is great to serve when the family are round especially with dollops of custard or cream!

I used:

2 large cooking apples
1 jar of home grown pears in syrup
125-150g (4-5oz) sugar
200g (7oz) plain Flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g (3.5oz) butter, chopped into small squares
25-50g (1-2oz) porridge oats

Heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4.

Wash, peel and core the baking apples and slice them thinly with a sharp knife. Lay them in an over proof dish overlapping each other and them place the pears and syrup on top.

Sieve the flour and baking powder together into a bowl and then rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and the oats and mix well. Spread this mixture over the top of the fruit and even it out.

Place it into the oven for about 30 minutes until it is a lovely brown colour and a gorgeous smell is filling your kitchen. Serve it into bowls while it is still hot and cover with custard, cream or if you dare ice cream!

You could add a bit of christmas cheer to this dish by adding sultanas or cranberries and sprinking some cinammon over.

Today I am of to make christmas cookies using white chocolate and cranberries. Then I am off out into the cold day to start christmas shopping. Oxford street here I come....