All posts filed under: christmas

Pistachio and Cherry Tiffin

I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that this is some great bake, or indeed, a new idea. I got the inspiration from a coffee chain’s pistachio and amaretti tiffin, but decided to recreate it with my own additions. As with all tiffin, it is very, very simple and a (excluding the amaretto soaked cherries) great thing to make with the kids. It would also make a lovely Christmas gift or addition to serve with coffee at the end of a meal. Ingredients: 100g Dried Cherries (chopped roughly) 40ml of Amaretto 225g Butter 45g Golden Syrup 50g Cocoa Powder 250g Amaretti 50g Pistachios, chopped 200g Milk Chocolate 100g Dark Chocolate Extra Pistachios, freeze Dried Cherries or sprinkles to decorate. Begin a day or two before you want to make the tiffin by soaking the dried cherries in the amaretto. The cherries will plump up and taste delicious. Line an 8′ square baking tray. Melt the butter and golden syrup in a saucepan over a gentle heat. Crush the amaretti biscuits fairly finely, then stir through …

Chocolate and Hazelnut Torte

This is a recipe that I have adapted from one of my favourites from delicious magazine. After the first time that I made it I switched the chocolate ganache for whipped cream on top, which I felt balanced the dark chocolate of the cake better still. I also crush amaretti biscuits and scattered them over the top also.   Then recently I had the idea of making it with hazelnuts and Frangelico instead of almonds and Amaretto. It worked very well, but it could easily be adapted for whatever alcohol you prefer. I think Marsala would be especially delicious and would be a nod to Tiramisu, especially if you folded some mascarpone through the cream and dusted the whole thing with cocoa powder. Ingredients: 200g Of Butter 200g of Dark Chocolate 150g of Ground Hazelnuts 6 Medium Eggs 180g of Caster Sugar 50ml of Frangelico liqueur To finish: 300g Double Cream 30g of Icing Sugar 30ml of Frangelico 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla 40g of Roughly Chopped Hazelnuts (any kind of other decoration you fancy, perhaps …

Pumpkin, Apple & Pecan Bundt

It’s that time of year again when I get obsessed with all things autumnal, and, in terms of baking, I love spices like cinnamon, ginger and cardamom, and to use apples, pears, and nuts as key ingredients. Of course, I have succumbed to the American invasion of pumpkin, and love to bake with it during the months leading up to Christmas. It used to be near impossible to get canned pumpkin in the UK, but it is slowly becoming easier to find. When I do find it, however, I tend to stock up, just in case. I decided to make another bundt cake recipe that I could top with another favourite ingredients of mine, maple butter. If you cannot get any, simple make an icing with equal parts maple syrup and icing sugar. So, this is a *big* cake. Don’t make it for just you and your friend having coffee together. I used a large bundt tin. I suppose you could half all of the ingredients and make it in a smaller bundt tin, a …

Speculaas Snowflakes

There is no lengthy introduction to this recipe. I was given Gingerbread Wonderland for Christmas last year, but never got round to making any of the recipes in the book. Then I was recommended The Speculaas Spice Company later in the year. I decided to order some of their Speculaas spice blend in Autumn and to make Speculaas biscuits as gifts for my kids’ teachers for Christmas. Steven, from The Speculass Spice Company, included a lot useful information about the spice blend, including a recipe. Their website has even more recipes. But I decided to make a new recipe with elements from their recipe and with those in Gingerbread Wonderland, and here it is. Ingredients: 100g of Butter 150g of Light Muscovado Sugar 1 Medium Egg The zest of half an Orange 200g of Plain Flour 1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Powder 3 Teaspoons of Speculass Spice Mix 50g of Ground Almonds Cream the butter and sugar until paler and fluffy. Add the egg with a dessert spoon of flour, and the orange zest, and mix thoroughly. Mix all the dry ingredients …

Apple and Cranberry Snowflake Pies

The creation of these came about entirely from the purchase of the snowflake pie mould from Lakeland. Initially, I thought about making regular mince pies with it, then I thought it might be nice to make something equally Christmassy but slightly lighter. I came up with apple and cranberry and the combination, with some Christmas spice, works very well, and would make a great alternative to those who don’t like traditional mincemeat. Ingredients for the filling: 1 Large Bramley Apple (about 250g once peeled, cored and chopped) 50g of Dried Cranberries (soaked overnight in 20g of Vanilla Vodka or orange juice) 100g of Light Brown Sugar 15g of Butter 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract 1/2 Teaspoon of Mixed Spice 1 Stick of Cinnamon 1 Heaped Teaspoon of Plain Flour Zest of an Orange Soak the dried cranberries overnight in the vodka or orange juice to allow them to plump up. Chop the apple into small pieces and combine all the ingredients, except the plain flour, in a large pan and heat on medium. Cook the apple …

At long last…

It took a while, but I got there in the end with this recipe and beautifully detailed cake. It wasn’t so much the cake recipe, which I adapted from the Nordicware recipe card that came with the Snowflake tin, but getting it out of the damn tin. I had an idea to adapt the almond cake recipe by adding some dried cherries soaked in Amaretto (which, by the way, are awesome on their own). It just felt more festive. Once I had fiddled with the batter amount and worked out the optimum quantity of cherries and soaking liquid, I thought it would be easy to pop the cake straight out using homemade goop (it works on other bundt and detailed pans). But this was not to be. This pan is on a different scale of difficulty to remove cake from. I made it again, coating far more liberally with goop: fail. Then I looked on the internet for advice and it said you should only use a small amount on detailed pans like this, so …

Happy Hogmanay

We have several traditions surrounding Hogmanay, or New Year’s Eve, in Scotland, many of which revolve around food or drink. One such tradition is the consumption of Shortbread. I suspect it was made available at The Bells at midnight to soak up the whisky being knocked back. But, as a nation, we are known for our buttery, short biscuit the world over. Who hasn’t been given a garishly coloured tartan tin of the stuff from someone who has visited our dear land? I don’t really like the stuff. Well, the stuff in the tins and packages. Homemade is an entirely different beast, and everyone has their own recipe and preferences. Most Scots will add rice flour or corn flour to their shortbread mixture. I am not one of them: I find it makes the biscuit too claggy when I eat it and it sticks to the roof of my mouth. My shortbread contains only three ingredients: One of the things that got me into making shortbread was coming across the prettiest of Shortbread moulds that …

If It Ain’t Broke.

I have a confession to make. I am one of those mums. Yes, the mums that make and bake gifts for their kids’ teachers. But please don’t think for a second that it is because I want to show off or compete with other parents: it’s just what I do. I make and bake for everyone and anyone that I feel gratitude or friendship or love for. And I always feel an enormous debt to my children’s teachers and to all the other support staff at their school because I think they do a wonderful job teaching, caring for, guiding, supporting and encouraging my three, very individual, offspring. Maybe the teachers would prefer cash in hand, or a shopping voucher, but I can’t bring myself to do that. Perhaps it is selfish of me to indulge in my own passion when it should really be about what they would like. But I enjoy planning, baking and packaging these gifts, and my kids have come to expect it too. Last year, I was very short of …

Cool, Pale and Festive

I think that the last thing anybody needs to be doing just before Christmas is designing and executing an elaborate Christmas Cake. If, like me, you find yourself spending lots of time with all other manner of christmas preparations, including exquisitely fiddly home made treats for the kids’ school Christmas Fayre or as gifts for their teachers, then run out of quality time to enjoy making a beautiful centre piece cake for your own family, you need to have an easy and quick design up your sleeve. I am a firm believer of less is often more, especially when it comes to cake design. Simple and elegant is often the way to go and, although that doesn’t always mean quick, in this case it does. I have come up with a cool coloured and pale silhouette cake design that really is very simple to carry out. If you have a warmer or bolder colour scheme, this design could easily be adapted to blend in. I coloured the icing a pale blue/grey using a combination of …

Winter Berries and sparkle

I know I’ve written this before, but I really mean it this time. This *is* a short post. I just wanted to share some images from something that I baked and decorated this weekend, especially as it’s a departure for me from cake. I also chose to decorate it with a nod to the visual themes of winter berries and sparkle. Some of you might be thinking ahead to Christmas and be looking for decorative ideas, and I thought this might inspire one or two of you. Ages ago a girl that I went to school with asked if I’d make a cake for her sister’s birthday this weekend. As it got closer to firming up ideas she confessed that her sister doesn’t actually like cake. After some discussion we settled on a baked cheesecake. Of course, I had to make it as celebratory and beautiful as a birthday cake. Seeing as the season has well and truly changed to winter here in Scotland, I felt completely justified in picking up some edible silver leaf …