Birthday Crafting

Today is my husband’s birthday so we can finally give him all the things we’ve been making this week.

Alice made him a card in her own special style! I think he’ll love it when he gets home from work later. The envelope is a complete delight and makes absolutely no sense to anyone that hasn’t read ‘Danger in Everywhere’.

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And later it will be time for cake too! I made this sponge sandwich yesterday. It’s a simple all-in-one sponge mix with cocoa powder and Alice and I filled it with peanut butter! We then topped it with chocolate spread and flaked almonds (we’ll put a candle on it after tea tonight).

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I don’t think it’s my best ever cake and I’m really not sure about the peanut butter. I think this could end up very dry, so we might be eating it with ice cream.

I’ve also made a batch of biscuits which he’s already got and taken to work. I hope they go down well amongst his colleagues.

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And here’s my card. It took me ages to find some inspitation for this one. I’ve done so many bike racing cards over the last few years I wanted to do something different. I struggled to find a picture of a camera, so went with his other interest – red wine!

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So Happy Birthday Mr B.

Have a great day
x

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School Holiday Baking

Well it’s been a tough first week or so of the school holidays.  It’s not much fun hobbling around with an equaliser boot when you have an active seven year old wanting to get out and do things.  Fortunately we’ve had some mixed weather here so we’ve had to stay in and concentrate on indoor activities.

I felt quiet good today so decided we could spend some time in the kitchen making some yummy treats to share with friends and family.  So we started with our trusted all-in-one sponge recipe from Delia Smith, to which we added some raisins, chocolate chips, cocoa powder and mini marshmallows.

P1250130We didn’t have any golden syrup or chocolate digestives so we couldn’t make any rocky road tray bake, so these mini cakes made up for it and are our version of a rocky road style muffin!  They certainly tasted chocolatey and went very nicely with a cup of tea.

Wile these were cooling we decided to make some scones and biscuits.  The simple Easter biscuit recipe was brought out and modified slightly as I didn’t have any lemons to zest.  I rolled out the dough a bit thicker than normal, so it made a few less biscuits than usual, but they tasted great straight from the oven and only took nine minutes!

P1250127I thought it would be nice to make some chocolate chip scones too as they didn’t take very long and could be ready to go in the oven by the time the biscuits had baked.  Not a big batch, only eight this time, but again lovely with some butter and a cup of tea.

All-in-all a good afternoon’s work and very tasty.  Time for a cuppa and a cake with a rest with my foot up now I think.

Happy crafting
x

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Early Christmas Baking

Now that the Christmas holidays have started it’s time to get into the spirit of things and do a spot of festive baking. It’s very therapeutic to get out the mincemeat and make up some tasty treats. I decided to begin with a batch of my mincemeat parcels. They are so tasty and make a lovely alternative to a mince pie. I have a number of packs of frozen filo pastry in the freezer that need to be used, so this was an ideal quick bake.

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After the parcels were finished, I enlisted Alice to make some festive ginger biscuits that we could share with friends and family over the holidays. The recipe we have is in a little Hello Kitty Christmas book that we bought for Alice a few years ago. It’s a really simple recipe and makes absolutely loads of biscuit dough. We chose some different Christmassy cutters and set about making the biscuits.

It was a good job there was loads of dough because I had a minor moment with my oven and completely burned the first two batches! I forgot just how fast my oven is when I’m baking. Anyway, we still managed to make about 60 or so biscuits for sharing. Alice’s favourite part of the baking process is the decorating, and we used plenty of icing pens, hundreds and thousands, and other little Christmassy bits from my cupboard.

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Once finished we took some round to the neighbours, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

Happy crafting
x

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Holiday Baking

This weekend we were invited to a friend’s annual summer barbecue party. As usual they were providing all the food, so I suggested I would take something for dessert as they hadn’t decided on anything yet! So it was an early start and out with the baking things.

I thought about scones, but settled on a Victoria Sandwich and some biscuits. I didn’t know how many people would be there so I needed something easy to divide up.

As I was going to be pushed for time, I decided on the all-in-one sponge mix from my Delia Smith book. I started with the basic vanilla sponge, splitting the mixture across two cake tins.

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As I still had plenty of ingredients left, I thought I ‘d make another sponge, chocolate this time. I also added some extra chocolate chips to the mixture. I have watched quite a few baking shows recently (being a fan of cake is great with the GBBO back again for another series), and have picked up the tip of rolling fruit in flour before adding it to a mixture so that it doesn’t sink when baking. So I rolled the chocolate chips in flour before adding them to the mixture. It certainly seemed to work as they were pretty evenly distributed in the sponge. Again I decided to make this into a sandwich cake and split the mixture across two tins.

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While the four sponges were baking I started on some raisin biscuits, using the Easter biscuit recipe we all love. I didn’t have a lemon, so they were minus lemon zest, but they are equally as tasty.

So here’s the baking after everything came out of the oven.

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Next it was time to prepare the fillings for the sandwich cakes. My vanilla one was to have raspberry jam and vanilla buttercream, while I decided on chocolate spread and vanilla buttercream for the chocolate chip cake. I thought I had split the buttercream in half, but I obviously wasn’t paying attention as the chocolate cake ended up with twice the amount of the vanilla cake!

Anyway, I finished them both off with a dusting icing sugar, and here’s how they turned out.

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They might not win any prizes on Bake Off, but they are most definitely the best sandwich cakes I have made. And I am pleased to say they went down pretty well at the barbecue too. I managed to get sixteen slices out of each cake. Just the right size! I did manage to snaffle a piece of each and they tasted pretty good too. My daughter loved the Victoria Sandwich and Hubby loved the Chocolate Chip Sandwich – I liked them both, but then I love cake!! As it’s my husband’s birthday next week, I can see another baking session coming on, it will save on buying a cake covered in icing which he hates!

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Half Term Baking

Half Term is upon us again. We have an extra day due to staff training, so we decided to put it to good use and do some baking. My 5 year-old loves being in the kitchen, although she does lose interest after a while.

So today we did some Mum and daughter Halloween cakes and biscuits, some paw-print biscuits and I made my Christmas cake!!

We started off with a very simple all-in-one sponge mix with added cocoa powder. My daughter chose to also add chocolate buttons and mini marshmallows to the mix for extra goo! She loved measuring everything out and adding the ingredients. I have to say she’s much better at cracking eggs than I am!!

Chocolate cakes

We let them bake for about 15 minutes then put them on the side to cool on a rack while we started on the Halloween biscuits to take to a Halloween party tomorrow. These are a really simple butter biscuit recipe. Instead of using castor sugar I used a bag of spiced sugar from a spiced apple juice kit that I’d been given (there was no way I would ever make 2 gallons of spiced apple juice, so what better way to use up the sugar!) The dough needed to rest in the fridge for around 20 minutes before rolling, so to keep her attention, out came the rich tea biscuits. I made a small amount of white water icing to top each biscuit and she added giant and ordinary sized chocolate buttons to make a paw-print on each one. I think they are lovely. So effective and they taste fantastic.

Paw-print biscuits

When the biscuit dough had rested, I rolled it out and my daughter had great fun choosing the spooky shapes to use. She settled on bats, cats, stars (large and small) men and Mickey Mouse! A fun half hour of rolling and cutting followed, with me on a bungee between the table and the oven!. Here’s a peek at the first batch once they had cooked.

Halloween spiced biscuits

They have a very subtle spicy flavour to them from the sugar. Very moreish. I think they will go down well at the Halloween party.

Once all the biscuits were cooling, it was time to decorate the chocolate cakes. Buttercream was the choice, so I made a batch, splitting it in half and adding orange food colouring to one half and green colouring to the other. Very spooky! Then it was little one’s turn to get creative with the decorations, and for her, more is most definitely more!

Halloween Cakes

The overall effect is great though. Very spooky and just right for Halloween.

Happy Halloween fun
x

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Easter biscuits

It’s the school Easter holidays and, like many other parents out there, I am looking for ways to keep my daughter occupied whilst not having to spend a small fortune! There’s only so many times we can go out and about, and we need to do things around the home too. Coming up with new and interesting constructive projects for her is a challenge. Fortunately we’ve had some lovely weather, so we’ve been out in the garden, tidying borders and feeding the birds.

But the kitchen has been calling and today we have been making Easter biscuits to share with our family and friends. They are a lovely simple recipe to make, made easier still using a mixer! The main enjoyment for my 5 year old is weighing out all the ingredients, adding them to the mixer and then rolling out the dough and cutting out the biscuit shapes. Watching them bake in the oven is fascinating and then trying the first one when it’s still warm! Lovely.

Easter biscuits

The recipe I use is one I found in an Aldi magazine a few years ago, I like it’s simplicity and they taste fabulous at any time of year.

Ingedients
140g salted butter
280g self-raising flour
140g caster sugar
55g raisins
1 medium egg
grated zest of 1 lemon

Method
1. Pre-heat the oven to 190C, gas mark 5
2. Rub the cold butter into the flour well
3. Add the sugar, raisins and lemon zest and bring together gently
4. Beat the egg and add to the mixture
5. When a dough has formed, roll out to 0.5cm think and cut out with your chosen cutter
6. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked
7. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and remove from the baking tray

I don’t always use the lemon zest and they work just as well as a plain raisin biscuit.

They were delicious after dinner tonight and the rest are being shared with some friends tomorrow.

Happy baking
x

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