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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 …

Feeling Festive

Over the last few years it has become a tradition for me to make a Gingerbread House for my kids to decorate. Only two out of the three really like the taste of Gingerbread. But you see, it’s not about the Gingerbread: it’s about the sweets and icing; the edible glitter; and the fun and mess that we (they) make when decorating it. I use a BBC Good Food recipe (link at the bottom), that bakes into a tasty yet sturdy building, able to withstand a heavy handed toddler. Just remember to let the royal icing “cement” dry overnight. On a few occasions I’ve made a house, covered it in sweets, and donated it to my kids’ nursery or school. Money is easily raised by folk paying to guess how many sweets are on it. Yes, I do count them and yes, it’s a lot. If you plan to cover your Gingerbread House entirely in sweets, then make sure you buy lots of them. They probably won’t all make it on to the house. 😉 …

A 40th celebration in Pistachio, Raspberry and Rose

I shall try to keep this post brief. I should really be doing some of my Sunday chores in the house before heading out galavanting with my daughter to a Christmas craft fayre this afternoon. But I couldn’t wait to share the details of the cake that I made for my friend’s 40th birthday party last night, even if the photos are a bit ropey. I met this particular friend as a Glasgow Baking Club event at least a couple of years ago, and we share a common interest in baking and good food. She is an excellent and adventurous baker and first class cook who understands flavours very well. She wanted someone to make her special cake and charged her husband with the task of organising it with me. The only essential was that it was to be a fondant free zone. Very quickly, we came up with the idea of a Pistachio Cake filled with Raspberry and Rose Italian Meringue Buttercream and decorations of Meringues and Macarons. She had also expressed a desire …

…and then you add some more butter.

  Do you like Brioche? Do you like its buttery, rich yet light, texture in your mouth? Is it possible to improve upon Brioche? Yes, it is! And the answer is to add more butter. It doesn’t seem possible. What is more, it seems unlikely that by adding even more butter to this already rich *and* enriched dough you can make it lighter. The trick is doing it in layers, or laminating. Brioche Feuilletée is made using the same method as croissant or Danish pastry dough, or puff pastry: the dough is rolled out, folded, then chilled several times, until many layers, sheets, leaves or feuilles of alternating thin dough and butter are created. I made Brioche Feuilletée last weekend for the first time and I decided to document the process in several photographs that I would like to share with you now. Having used Michel Roux’s Brioche recipe before, and been very happy with the results, I decided to start there. This recipe makes 1.2kg (actually more than I needed) and I made it the …

When Meringue hits Chocolate

So, I haven’t posted for a wee while, and, to be honest, I had been planning this big “I love bread” post, but I haven’t found the time. And then I realised I don’t need to have life story like posts to fire up: I can make them short and sweet and simply about my latest bake. So, here I am, 6.15am on the day I am due to take my kids away on holiday and I haven’t packed yet. But I am drinking my first coffee of the day and felt I could spare fifteen minutes to type out a few lines and publish. Today’s cake is a combination of recipes and ideas, mostly from Nigella Lawson and Sweetapolita. Inside is a double helping of Nigella’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake in four layers. If you haven’t tried this recipe and you love chocolate cake then you must: it is so quick and easy, yet moist and chocolatey (though not too rich for children) and can be thrown together in under two hours, decorated and …