Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Sticking with what could become a tradition – Muffins on a Sunday! Following last weeks muffins I received a comment about the Lemon Curd Muffins from the new River Cottage book – ‘Everyday’. Well that was all the encouragement I needed to get on Amazon (any excuse!!) and order it….well that and 50% off! Bargain!

These muffins are quick, easy and indulgent. I love lemon curd so I was sold from first bite!

Lemon Curd Marble Muffins (courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – River Cottage Everyday)


225g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

a good pinch of sea salt

100g caster sugar

1 medium egg

125g plain yoghurt

125ml whole milk

75g unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

150g lemon curd

Put 12 large cases into a muffin tray.

Put the flour, baking powder, salt & caster sugar in a large bowl and whisk lightly to aerate and combine.

Mix the egg, yoghurt, milk and melted butter together in a jug. Pour them into the dry ingredients and mix lightly, stopping as soon as everything is combined – it’s essential not to over-mix or you’ll get dense cakey muffins.

Add the lemon curd in 6 or 7 dollops and quickly ‘marble’ it lightly through the mixture (a couple of light stirs is really all that’s needed). If your lemon curd is a bit stiff, just add it in little blobs.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases, to three quarters fill them. Bake them in an oven preheated to 180C for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Eat on the day you bake them, ideally while still warm.



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Cookie cutter fun

Finding a good cookie recipe for cookie cutting has been a case of trial and error.  Maybe it’s just me but I find that the dough always wants to stick to the bench making the transfer to the baking tray a delicate procedure. Don’t even get me started on the Gingerbread Men – they just don’t work!! Because of this I am always on the look out for a new recipe to try thinking ‘maybe next time I will get it right’!

I found this recipe on the Cakes, Cookies & Crafts Shop website and since it is on their website I am not going to type it all over again here – link below (I haven’t figured out how to link properly yet so you will just need to copy and paste!)


UPDATE:  Thanks to Louise here is the link – Cut out Cookies recipe

I made up the dough and put it in the fridge for chilling with the best of intentions to roll and cut cookies with Izzy later in the day but time ran away on us the dough ended up chilling for over 24 hours. I think this may have had an impact on the dough – took ages for it to soften up just so we could roll it and then ended up too crumbly as well. However once they were on the tray and went in the oven all went well. To be honest I really couldn’t be bothered with icing by this stage and so they remained a plain biscuit.

Although they weren’t exactly what I was looking for I will work on my time management and try them again – less chilling and some icing may just do the trick 😉

Even so there is something about a butterfly shaped biscuit that just tastes so much better!!



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Who doesn’t love M & M’s??

For our Macmillan coffee morning I also attempted some cookies. Now I find cookies to be a bit hit and miss – my fail rate is slightly higher than my success rate!

Now I loved the idea of these cookies and I will definitely try them again but I think they need a couple of extra minutes in the oven as even after time on the wire rack they were too fragile and many broke and didn’t make it to the coffee morning!

Try them though – they look so pretty! and they taste pretty OK too 🙂

Chunky chocolate-chip cookies (courtesy of MIX – The Australian Women’s Weekly)


125g butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

275g firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

150g plain flour

35g self raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

35g cocoa powder

100g peanut M & M’s

70g mini M & M’s

75g milk chocolate melts

Preheat oven to 180C. grease 2 oven trays, line with baking paper.

Beat butter, extract, sugar & egg in small bowl with electric mixer until smooth (do not overmix). Transfer mixture to large bowl ; stir in sifted ingredients then all chocolates.

Drop level tablespooons of mixture onto trays about 5cm apart.

Bake cookies about 10 mins. Stand cookies on trays 5 minutes; transfer to wire rack to cool.


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Today was the annual Macmillan Coffee Morning and so I thought it would be a good chance to raise some money for a great cause (whoever came up with this idea at Macmillan is genius!) and ask all the girls in the office to get involved. I sent out an email to all the girls requesting cakes (baked or bought), and I know it seems a bit 1950’s of me to only send  it to the girls, but meet the guys in my office and you will totally understand. Not a baker amongst them!!

So it was awesome when everyone (except one – who is a right misery!) bought in a plateful of goodies to sell. There was rocky road, flapjacks, lemon loaf, about 4 different types of cupcakes, cookies, doughnuts and brownies. A right sugar smorgasboard so needless to say that within an hour there was a considerable sugar high spreading throughout the office. One of my colleagues, Carol, was happy to admit that she was not a baker and years ago this had been confirmed by her effort at rock cakes when she mistakenly substituted salt for sugar. Well turned out great for us as Carol had purchased home made cupcakes from a lady in the next village – they were beautiful and looked amazing. I didn’t get a chance to try one as they went like hot cakes!! I have looked up the cupcake lady online – Janes Cupcakes – so if you are ever looking for a supplier check her out.

Word spread quickly around the building and we had colleagues from other departments and floors coming to visit us in support of Macmillan. Not only was it great to raise money for an important cause but there was a fantastic sense of comraderie in the office. People were laughing and joking with each other and the atmosphere was fun so Macmillan were not the only ones to benefit.

So, how much did our team of ladies raise? Well I was hoping that we might make 50-100 pounds and our final total was 216.95!! How awesome is that!!! There was no set donation and so all this was raised through the generosity of all my colleagues!

So, what did we (James & I presented a joint effort!) make? Well there is a bit of funny story here… Yesterday morning I went to work and was chatting away with Louise who was despairing over her baking efforts the night before  and I was reassuring her that one of my efforts had gone in the bin so I was not having much luck either. We continued moaning and then I mentioned that I had made lemon loaf…well ends up Louise had made the same thing from the same book – total coincidence!! Made us both feel so much better….must have been the recipe then 😉 Louise salvaged hers and iced it (and it was yum!) but my issue was the lemon syrup for the top as I failed to taste before pouring it all over – like sunlight liquid! yuck!!!

So anyway, that was our failed attempt so we reverted back to our tried and tested cupcakes from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook….All I can tell you is that they smelt good and they were complimented but I never tried them – too full from tasting everyone elses efforts!! I made the Pumpkin cupcakes and James very kindly whipped up Strawberry Cheesecake cupcakes. We also made Chocolate cookies that are filled with M & M’s and Peanut M & M’s – this was half a success but still delicious and so we will be working on this one.


Pumpkin Cupcakes (courtesy of Tarek Malouf – The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

Makes 12


120g plain flour

140g caster sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra to decorate

a pinch of salt

40g unsalted butter, at room temperature

120ml whole milk

2 eggs

200g tinned pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 170C. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with paddle attachment (or use a hand held electric whisk) and beat on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

Gradually pour in the milk and beat until well mixed. Add the eggs to the mix and beat well (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Stir in the pumpkin puree by hand until evenly dispersed.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until 2/3 full and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 mins, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched.

Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. When cupcakes are cold, spoon the cream cheese frosting on top and finish with a light sprinkling of cinnamon.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes (courtesy of Tarek Malouf – The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

Makes 12


120g plain flour

140g caster sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

40g unsalted butter, at room temperature

120ml whole milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

12 large strawberries, chopped into small pieces

200g digestive biscuits

Preheat the oven to 170C. Put the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder & butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a hand held electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

Pour in the milk & vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until all the ingredients are well mixed (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Add the egg and beat well for a few minutes to ensure the ingredients are well incorporated.

Divide the chopped strawberries between the paper cases. Spoon the cupcake mixture on top until 2/3 full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Roughly break up the digestive biscuits and put them in the food processor. Process until finely ground. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the cream cheese frosting on top and finish with a sprinkling of finely ground of biscuits.

Cream Cheese Frosting (courtesy of Tarek Malouf – The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

Makes enough for 12 cupcakes


300g icing sugar, sifted

50g unsalted butter, at room temperature

125g cream cheese, cold

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a hand held electric whisk) until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light & fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Do not over beat, as it can quickly become runny.

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Well it all started well!! Izzy and I got up this morning and decided to indulge in a little baking. We have been meaning to bake a tin full of cookies to take over to all the lovely ladies at nursery so this morning seems like a good time to get started!

I still have a cupboard full of flour, sugar, butter etc from recent baking so it’s time to use it up! Plus Amy gave me a really cute wee book called Cookie Magic for my birthday that is full of scrumptious recipes.

We started off with Choc Chip Shortbread and Izzy was a great help kneading in the choc chips……and picking them out to sneakily pop them in her mouth……cheeky girl!

Kneading the shortbread dough............

Kneading the shortbread dough............

........and picking out the choc chips!

........and picking out the choc chips!

Chocolate Chip Shortbread (courtesy of Cookie Magic – Kate Shirazi)


250g butter, shortened

50g caster sugar

250g plain flour

125g cornflour

50g chunky chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Cream the butter & sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Sift the flour & cornflour on to the butter mixture and mix until you have a lovely smooth dough. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the dough and knead in until the chocolate is evenly distributed.

Roll out a sheet of cling film, tip the dough onto it, then form the dough into a fat sausage and wrap up tightly. Leave to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Remove the roll of dough from it’s cling film and slice into rounds. Place the rounds on your lined baking sheets and bake for about 30 minutes untl they are pale golden. Leave the shortbread to cool on wire racks.

Have been pretty pleased with how these turned out – buttery and crumbly – got to be a good sign!


Next on the agenda were Ginger biscuits – not such a success – even after 2 attempts!! I think I heaped the teaspoons of ginger and the tablespoons of golden syrup a little too much and then combined with being a teeny weeny bit burnt the first attempt was a flop. Only option? try again! However second time around wasn’t much better as this time they were too crumbly and did not cook well. Will have to work on this one before sharing the recipe.

Onto, Anzac biscuits (a kiwi favourite) and I really liked the way they turned out but they didn’t spread as I would have expected. The taste test proved otherwise – a bit bland and floury. Revisiting the recipe I could see why – gggrrrr I forgot to add the sugar!!! What an amateur!! I am going to share this recipe as apart from my own stupidity I think it would have been perfect! Won’t be making another batch today but will try again one day soon – MUST READ RECIPE PROPERLY!!!!

Anzac Biscuits (courtesy of Cookie Magic – Kate Shirazi)


100g r0lled oats

150g plain flour

100g soft light brown sugar

50g desiccated cocnut

115g butter

2 Tbsp golden syrup

1 Tbsp hot water

1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Mix the oats, flour, sugar (don’t forget the sugar!!) and coconut in a large bowl. Heat the butter and golden syrup gently until the butter has melted.

In another the bowl, mix the hot water and baking soda together and add the mixture to the pan of butter and golden syrup. Watch out for forth-central, then tip the whole lot on top of the oat mixture and stir away. Plop dessertspoonfuls (this didn’t work for me and I rolled into balls and pressed down) of the mixture onto your baking sheets, allowing a little space between them as they spread and flatten slightly. Bake for about 10 minutes until golden.

Let the biscuits cool and set on the baking sheets for a few minutes before lifting them onto wire racks to cool completely.

Look good, taste rubbish!

Look good, taste rubbish!

Just for interest I have copied some history regarding the Anzac biscuit from http://www.anzacday.org.au………..

During World War 1, the wives, mothers and girlfriends of the Australian soldiers were concerned for the nutritional value of the food being supplied to their men. Here was a problem. Any food they sent to the fighting men had to be carried in the ships of the Merchant Navy. Most of these were lucky to maintain a speed of ten knots (18.5 kilometers per hour). Most had no refrigerated facilities, so any food sent had to be able to remain edible after periods in excess of two months. A body of women came up with the answer – a biscuit with all the nutritional value possible. The basis was a Scottish recipe using rolled oats. These oats were used extensively in Scotland, especially for a heavy porridge that helped counteract the extremely cold climate.

The ingredients they used were: rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup or treacle, bi-carbonate of soda and boiling water. All these items did not readily spoil. At first the biscuits were called Soldiers’ Biscuits, but after the landing on Gallipoli, they were renamed ANZAC Biscuits.

A point of interest is the lack of eggs to bind the ANZAC biscuit mixture together. Because of the war, many of the poultry farmers had joined the services, thus, eggs were scarce. The binding agent for the biscuits was golden syrup or treacle. Eggs that were sent long distances were coated with a product called ke peg (like Vaseline) then packed in air tight containers filled with sand to cushion the eggs and keep out the air.

As the war drew on, many groups like the CWA (Country Women’s Association), church groups, schools and other women’s organisations devoted a great deal of time to the making of ANZAC biscuits. To ensure that the biscuits remained crisp, they were packed in used tins, such as Billy Tea tins. You can see some of these tins appearing in your supermarket as exact replicas of the ones of earlier years. Look around. The tins were airtight, thus no moisture in the air was able to soak into the biscuits and make them soft. Most people would agree there is nothing worse than a soft biscuit.

During World War 2, with refrigeration in so many Merchant Navy Ships, the biscuits were not made to any great extent. It was now possible to send a greater variety of food, like fruit cake.

ANZAC biscuits are still made today. They can also be purchased from supermarkets and specialty biscuit shops. Around ANZAC Day, these biscuits are also often used by veterans’ organisations to raise funds for the care and welfare of aged war veterans.

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Well, since we had guests for dinner there was the excuse I needed to break out TMBC again! When Isobel M turned 1 Meredith baked a Hummingbird cake and it was delicious so when I saw a Hummingbird cake in TMBC the decision was easily made!

So yummy but then I am a sucker for cream cheese icing. I don’t even want to consider how many calories are in this and I am a little worried about the half a cake that remains…..and that is after dinner, taking over a slice for Sam and sending a slice home with Patricia. I would have James take it to work but as it is Ramadan I don’t think that it is fair on the colleagues who are observing this. As there is a long weekend coming up James reckons he can make a dent in it!

Hummingbird Cake (The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook)


3 cups flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 tsp vanilla etract

2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas

1 8oz can crushed pineapple, in unsweetened juice, drained (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 160C.

Grease and lightly flour two 9 x 2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, the cinnamon, the baking soda, and the salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the oil with sugar until smooth, about 3 mins. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until light, about 1 or 2 mins. Add the vanilla extract. Add the bananas and the pineapple. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, beating after each addition until smooth. Stir in the pecans. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 40-50 mins or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

When cake has cooled, ice between the layers, then ice top and sides of cake with cream cheese icing. Garnish with pecans if desired.

Cream cheese icing


1 pound cream cheese, softened slightly, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened slightly, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

5 cups sifted icing sugar

In a medium-size bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and the butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract. Gradually add the sugar and beat until well incorporated.

The recipe says it makes enough to ice this cake but I still have a lot left in the fridge. Not sure if I will use it – maybe e a carrot cake for the girls at nursery.


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I need to go back to work!! or we are all going to be putting on huge amounts of weight!! Still healing, still in the kitchen!

The Magnolia Bakery has become a must visit when in NYC – not that I have been but boy, would I like to! It’s (apparently) the home of all things scrummy and delicious. I found on Amazon The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook (only problem is all measurements are American – mainly cups, some lbs & oz, sticks of butter (which are 113g according to Google) etc) and so I have been keen to try out a few of the recipes and see if they live up to the hype.

First up, that American classic…….COOKIES! I have found cookie (or biscuits. Depending on where you reside!) recipes to be a bit hit and miss. Many of mine have turned out too flat or too crunchy (overcooked perhaps?). After flicking through TMBC I found Oatmeal Raisin Almond Cookies – perfect! I love the combination of oat and raisin – it’s the best! The recipe makes 3 dozen cookies – so plenty for kids, coffee mornings and the nightly cup of tea. However in this instance Izzy was not overly keen but no complaints from James or I. Since I made them I have been giving them away in plastic baggies to friends and the neighbour. Our neighbour is Sam and he has been bombarded with baked goods over the last month – I always pop him over a slice of whatever is fresh out of the pven. Sam is a keen gardener and so we have been rewarded in turn with the sweetest, most delicious tomatoes. Anyway, back to the cookies…

Oatmeal Raisin Almond Cookies (courtesy of The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook)


2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 1/4 cups rolled oats

1 1/2 cups raisins

1/2 cup finely chopped toasted almonds (toast in oven for 10-15 mins at 160C, or until lightly brown and fragrant)

Preheat oven to 180C.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, the baking soda, and the salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, the vanilla extract, the almond extract and mix well. Add the oats and flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Mix in the raisins and almonds. Chill the mixture for 30 mins in the fridge before proceeding. Drop by rounds teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Bake for 15-18 mins or until lightly golden brown.

Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.


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