Snickerdoodle Cookies

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I love exploring different flavours and recipes from around the world. I like getting a taste (literally) for other cultures and using their range of spices rather than my own comfort-zone ones.

I came across this recipe in the ‘Cake Days’ Hummingbird Bakery book this afternoon I generally never go through this book as I don’t like the lay out of the sections and how they chop and change between types of baking. But I was feeling a little Christmassy (thanks to my new Yankee candle that’s been burning for about three days, I never thought Christmas Eve could smell so good!) so I flipped through to try and find some yule-themed baking.

That’s another thing I love – Christmas baking. Every year my mum and I make an iced Christmas cake, and then we make mince pies, peppermint brownies/cupcakes, meringues to use in Eton Mess and my mum makes the most amazing Gingerbread Cake that I’ve ever tasted – it’s so soft and light but still full of flavours of Christmas. Since I’ve gotten so into baking over the last year and have finally embraced that it’s going to be my future I’m wanting to increase my seasonal repertoire – I want to try breads, gingerbread men (my only previous attempts stuck to the work surface) and these cookies will definitely be added to the list.

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These cookies are German…maybe, but they might also be from the New England region of America – no one really knows. They sound kind of German, but New England has a tradition of using whimsical names for their cookies. It doesn’t matter to me, they’re packed full of cinnamon and taste incredible.

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The rolling in the cinnamon sugar is definitely the part that brings out the flavours, without it the cookie wouldn’t have enough flavour. When they’ve been baked, they get a gorgeous crisp coating and are covered in cinnamon that melts when they touch your tongue. They’re just the right size to eat with a cup of coffee and the crunchy texture reminds me a little of biscotti. They’d be great as a nibble with a hot drink on Christmas day.

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What bakes do you make over Christmas? Are there any more you’ll be trying this year?

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Recipe adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery’s Cake Days book

(makes about 30 small cookies)

Ingredients –

For the dough:

-          60g softened butter

-          160g caster sugar

-          ¼ tsp. vanilla bean paste

-          1 egg

-          240g plain flour

-          1 tsp. baking powder

-          1/3 tsp. salt

-          ¼ tsp. cinnamon

For the coating:

-          1 ½ tbsp. caster sugar

-          1 tbsp. cinnamon

Method –

  1. Using beaters, mix together the butter, sugar and vanilla bean paste. When it begins to look like a sandy texture, add the egg until the mixture is smooth and the egg is completely incorporated.
  2. Sift the remaining ingredients into a separate bowl. Add the flour mix into the wet ingredients in three batches, mixing well between so it is incorporated. When the last batch has been mixed in use your hands to bind the mix into soft dough. Leave the ball of dough in the bowl, cover in cling film and refrigerate for 40 minutes.
  3. While the dough is cooling and firming, preheat the oven to 160°c (fan oven) and line three baking trays with greaseproof paper. Also, mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl for rolling.
  4. When cooled, pinch small amounts off of the dough, about the size of a walnut, and briefly roll in your hand to form a ball. Roll these balls in the cinnamon sugar mix until they are completely covered and place six evenly on each baking tray (I have HUGE baking trays to could place more – hence the quantity)
  5. Bake in the oven for around 14 minutes or until they are lightly golden on top but still feel a bit soft to the touch. Remove and allow to cool for a couple of minutes on the trays before transferring to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon Buns

Lately, I have been reading A LOT of books by American authors, and am I loving the cooking and baking in them or what? I always have loved American baking and cooking – I think the flavours used like cinnamon, barbeque and spices…I just think of comfort and home.

I especially love Southern food –Fried chicken, barbequed ribs and cherry pie? Hell yeah y’all.

But what I really love is cinnamon buns.

It was a Sunday, it was cold, and it was rainy. I’d been out in London on the Friday, which I totally loved but it tired me out 100%, and I’d been out bowling for a friends 18th on Saturday night so I decided to channel my homely needs and baked some gorgeous cinnamon buns. There’s something really satisfying about baking them…I think it’s the rolling up to get the beautiful spirals.

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I haven’t made cinnamon buns in a while, but the recipe I’ve included it my trusty companion from my mums recipe book – I say recipe book, but it’s really just hundreds of cut out recipes and yellowing bits of paper with recipes scrawled down on them in a folder. That’s something else really satisfying to me, using my mum’s recipes. We’re so modernised these days that so many recipes come from online and from companies recipe books – don’t get me wrong, I love finding the most amazing recipe courtesy of another blogger as much as the next person, but there’s nothing quite like using an old family recipe.

The sugar and butter in the filling means that they bubble beautifully in the oven and when you open it, you get the most amazing waft of sugary-cinnamony-doughy warm air. I just find them so comforting in these autumnal months.

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Even though it’s totally acceptable to use cinnamon in food at any time of the year, I think it really tastes best in the autumn and the lead up to Christmas and for our friends over the pond, Thanksgiving. The smell alone brought my mum and dad to the kitchen asking if they were ready yet…actually, my dad was continually asking about them until I was done.

Who doesn’t like a good cinnamon bun?!

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I’ve been trying to perfect this cinnamon bun recipe for a while, the first few times I made them they came out with the crust just a bit too hard and the buns just not quite soft enough – but I think I’ve finally cracked it now. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

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(Also, can I just point out that this is my best photography yet! Wahooooo!)

Ingredients

For the filling –

  • 100g softened butter
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g light brown sugar

For the dough –

  • 375g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 200ml milk

For the glaze –

  • 75g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp warm water (you might need less)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 210°c gas oven/230°c fan/Gas Mark 6-7. Grease and flour a large oven proof dish – I’ve used a casserole dish for this before, but I used a Pyrex deep dish this time and it came out great.
  2. Prepare the filling by creaming the butter and cinnamon together until soft. Add the brown sugar and beat until really light and fluffy. Set aside, but not in the fridge as it needs to be soft.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Add the caster sugar, and then add the butter. Rub with your fingertips until it forms a breadcrumbs consistency. Make a well in the centre.
  4. In another bowl or jug, whisk the egg and milk together. Pour most of the liquid into the well, but not all, leave about 60ml. Use your hand like a claw and mix in one direction until the dough comes together – you may or may not need to add more liquid to the dry ingredients but the dough should form a ball but be soft and slightly sticky.
  5. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and dust with flour. Roll out the dough until it is about 35cm x 25cm rectangle and 2cm thick – don’t worry too much about getting an exact rectangle!
  6. Spread the filling all over the rectangular dough with a palette knife. With the widest end facing you, roll the dough into a long log – don’t panic about this, it should roll just fine and it not, use a palette knife to gently ease it off the surface. Cut the log eleven times to make twelve buns and place them cut side up into the dish.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes, and then reduce the temperature to 180° and bake for a further 20 minutes. They should have risen and be a lovely golden brown colour. They also should have joined into a cluster.
  8. Allow to stand for a few minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack to chill. Once chilled, drizzle with the glaze and cut into individual buns.
  9. Enjoy!

Paprika, Cheese and Bacon Muffins

I think winter has truly arrived. It rained today, it was 9°c, and it was really windy.

Sigh.

As its Sunday, my baking day, I wanted to make something really warming and homely that will taste really good curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea.

Thus, the paprika, cheese and bacon muffin was born.

ingredients

I really like the flavours that cheese and bacon create together. I used a mature cheddar in the recipe and a smoky thick cut bacon. I really think the two set each other off. Paprika, by far, is my favourite spice. My family go to a place in Spain which is really authentically Spanish. That might sound stupid, Spain is Spain right?

Wrong.

We go to a little village an hour South of Alicante called Los Alcazares and it really is traditionally Spanish. There aren’t any chain restaurants, there are no high rise apartment blocks and you have to speak quite a lot of Spanish. The restaurants there are all tiny little tapas bars that change their dishes regularly depending on what catch comes in from the fishing boats and there are fantastic tavernas selling traditional Spanish food like Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce), Tortilla Española (‘Spanish omelette’, an egg omelette packed full of potatoes and onions) and Pulpo á feira (Octopus sprinkled with sea salt and paprika). When we went there last at Easter, we picked up some traditional Spanish smoky paprika – I really wanted to use it today to create a really smoky undertone in the muffins.

Because it was so cold and rainy outside, I really wanted to create some flavours that make you think of warmth and sunshine and foreign cuisine.

beforeandafter

The texture of these muffins is soft, yet the bacon and the cheese chunks pack a punch when it comes to flavours; the wholegrain mustard really helps to bring out the cheddar. The paprika sprinkled on top gives them a beautiful golden brown colour when baked.

These taste amazing fresh out of the oven, but they’re equally as good the next day as the flavours develop.

I ate one curled up on the sofa with my cats, and we then proceeded to have a photo-shoot. Baking and cats, can the world get any better? Just add paprika.

kittys

Paprika, Cheese and Bacon Muffins (makes 12 medium sized muffins)

Ingredients –

-        3 rashers of smoky thick cut bacon

-        90g cheddar cheese, 50g chopped into chunks and the rest grated

-        175g self-raising flour

-        1tsp baking powder

-        1tsp wholegrain mustard

-        1tsp smoky paprika, plus extra for sprinkling

-        2 eggs

-        85g butter, melted

-        200ml milk

-        Salt and pepper to season

Method –

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c/ fan oven 160°/gas mark 4. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with cases.
  2. Chop the bacon into chunk and fry in a pan until completely cooked through and crisp. Top onto some kitchen paper and pat to get rid of any grease. Cut and grate the cheese.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, paprika, salt and pepper into a bowl and create a well in the centre. Whisk the milk, eggs, melted butter and mustard in a jug and then pour into the dry ingredients. Mix until well incorporated but the mix will be slightly lumpy.
  4. Add the crispy bacon and the cheese chunk and stir until incorporated. The mix will be very wet, don’t panic.
  5. Divide the mix between the twelve muffin cases. Sprinkle the top with a bit of paprika and then sprinkle with grated cheese – be generous! Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes until the spring back and have a golden brown top.
  6. These muffins taste great from the oven while they are still warm, but can be eaten when cool too.

Enjoy and adios. xx

Jam packed cake weekend!

This post is a little different to what I’d normally do, but I really wanted to show you all a few pictures of some cakes I did a few weeks ago. It was my busiest few days I’ve had yet – I did my first tiered cake, my first giant cupcake, a chocolate birthday cake AND went to the Cake and Bake Show in London (but more on that another day!)

It was such a joy to do and I enjoyed it so much!

The Thursday before was Will’s brother Richard’s 17th birthday so of course he had to have a cake! I didn’t want to do anything fussy for him and I wanted to try something without fondant and that was full of flavour. So Richard got a Chocolate Victoria Sponge Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream.

richcake

I promise you the cake stand isn’t a Christmas one, it just looks like it. Don’t judge me.

But Richard was chuffed to bits with it and if I say so myself, it was YUMMY. It was really moist and not at all heavy, and the buttercream actually tasted of vanilla – result!

Definitely will be making that again.

Thursday was also the day I baked my cakes for the tiered birthday cake for Sunday – I personally have a three day rule on baking; a day to firm up, a day to cover and let the fondant set, and then last day I’ll decorate and travel it!

9 o’clock at night saw me FINALLY finish baking an 8 inch and a 10 inch vanilla Madeira cake, I was very very happy with the turn out. It rose like a monster!

prebake

Then on Saturday I went to the Cake and Bake Show in London with my mum – but more to come on this at a later date! It was fantastic though, I would definitely recommend going!

Then Sunday came, and I was quite frankly petrified. I had to travel it down to Bristol, stack it (FIRST TIME!) and then what if they didn’t like it? It was for the grandson of my godparents and they were having a 2nd birthday party with his little friend, I was so nervous!

AAAAAAAAAAAH.

It was fine though, trust me to panic. I finished it in the morning – filling it with vanilla bean buttercream and fondant-ing (is that a word?) it before travelling it down to Bristol, with my dad driving very VERY carefully! My heart only just handled it.

stripespots

I stacked it when I got there, with everyone around me, and they absolutely loved it! It was so lovely and satisfying to see the little boys reaching out for the lions that I’d also out loads of my time into (seriously, these YouTube videos are AMAZINGLY helpful) and then everyone digging into the cake and saying they enjoyed it – it only made me realise just how much I want to do this forever!

And it got there in one piece – thank you dad for some great driving.

Monday arrived and along came the giant cupcake.

My lovely auntie gave me some silicon bake ware a few weeks ago, so for her birthday I wanted to make her the giant cup cake from the set – and it was a triumph!

I did a chocolate Madeira recipe that I made up and it didn’t fail (!!!!) and did a fondant base with vanilla buttercream frosting and decorated it with pearls and glitter – it was so pretty and girly!

cupcake

The only problem we encountered was HOW ON EARTH DO YOU CUT IT?

We ended up with humongous slices that were impossible to eat – anyone have any suggestions?

But overall it was as fantastic weekend and I really enjoyed doing all the cakes. It was lovely to see people appreciating and loving what I do and I was thoroughly encouraged that I am definitely going into the right field. I guess all I can do is thank my family so much for letting me experiment on them with my cakes.

I love you all eternally. You can all have free cake forever.

xxxxx

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Birthdays. The perfect excuse to bake cake. Recently, it was my dad’s birthday and his request went a little like this –

‘Megs, when you make me a cake for my birthday, I want it to have walnuts in it’.

SO, only one thing could be baked – a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

I used to HATE carrot cake. I’m pretty sure I had some really bad ones – greasy lumps of cake covered in wet frosting which just lacked in flavour really didn’t make me want to try it. And when I was little I had a bit of an issue with mixed up food (I didn’t eat shepherd’s pie, lasagne or fish pie until I was 15) so the idea of carrot’s in cake really didn’t appeal to me.

Until I started baking my own and getting brave. That’s when I discovered proper American carrot cake and cream cheese frosting.

Is it bad to make someone a birthday cake just because you know you’ll want to eat loads of it?

No. I don’t think so.

carrot cakje

Cue the Hummingbird Bakery Book. Seeing as I love a bit of American baking, this book is a godsend. Tarek Malouf is literally my idol and his shop which I went to in South Kensington in London was the mirror image of what I want my bakery to be like in the future.

A girl can dream right?

So I took their carrot cake recipe and adapted it a little to fit what my dad wanted – I added a grated apple just to pad it out and make it even more moist. I also used their Cream Cheese Frosting recipe as its really thick and looks incredible – but it was a bit sweet and sickly, so I’ve adapted that recipe too.

So I shut my dad out of the kitchen and cracked on.

An hour later…

The result was TO DIE FOR. It was moist and dense, but not too heavy and sticky. The walnuts added tiny chuinks of bitterness that totally goes with the sweet frosting and the carrot & apple. It rises like a beast so you get a decent slice.

My slices however, are about triple the size of a normal persons slice, kinda like this.

But my dad really enjoyed it, and the cake was totally gone within a few days. Which is pretty good in reflection for a family of three.

Note to five year old self: Carrots in cake do work. Trust me.

carrot cakje

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients

-          300g soft light brown sugar

-          3 eggs

-          300ml sunflower oil

-          300g self-raising flour

-          1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

-          1 tsp baking powder

-          1 tsp ground cinnamon

-          ½ tsp ground ginger

-          ½ tsp salt

-          ¼ tsp vanilla bean paste

-          3 medium carrots, grated

-          1 medium apple, grated

-          100g shelled walnuts, chopped

-          600g icing sugar

-          100g unsalted butter (please, use real butter not margarine!) at room temperature

-          400g cream cheese

-          Extra cinnamon & walnuts to decorate

Method

  1. Try and recover from the ridiculously long ingredient list
  2. Preheat the oven to 170°c/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins.
  3. Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a bowl and beat until all the ingredients are incorporated – the mixture will be very liquid and may look slightly split but don’t panic. Sieve the flour, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Gradually add to the liquid mixture, beating constantly. Add the vanilla bean paste and continue to beat until well mixed.
  4. Stir in the grated carrot, grated apple and walnuts with a wooden spoon. Be gentle with it, you don’t want to get rid of all your hard work by stirring it to death.
  5. Place evenly between the two cake tins and bake on the same shelf in the middle of the oven to 25-30 minutes – it may take longer depending on how powerful your oven is. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly in the tins before turning out too cool completely.
  6. To make the frosting put the icing sugar, butter and cream cheese in a bowl and beat until combined. You can hear when the frosting is ready, it makes a thwop sound when the paddle attachment go through it. (Thwop? Just trust me.)
  7. When the cake is cooled, place one cake side on a cake stand and add a dollop of icing to the centre. Spread, using a palette knife, nearly to the edges and then place the second cake side on top. Frost the sides first, using little at a time and adding gradually – I find it a lot easier to use a turn table. Then ice the top by adding a dollop to the centre and spreading outwards. It isn’t meant to look really neat so a bit of texture is great. Sprinkle cinnamon and chopped walnuts over the top to finish.
  8. Serve to Dad’s and watch their faces light up like a child at Christmas.

Oatmeal and Raisin Cinnamon Cookies

Suddenly, it’s turned very autumnal. For the past few days, the weather has been all dingy and there’s that horrible feeling that the sky’s about three inches off your head. Summer suddenly seems like it was a long long time ago and I just don’t think I’m ready to get rid of my sandals and start wearing my winter coat and gloves.

But, autumnal weather just brings out the baker in me.

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There’s nothing better than coming home to a cup of tea and a freshly baked cookie. And a cinnamon cookie, packed with oatmeal and raisins is just that little bit better.

And when I sprinkled them with Demerara sugar…because what’s a cinnamon cookie with brown sugar in it without the luxury of a bit of crunchy sugar on top, they got up to DEFCON 5 on the indulgent scale.

I’ve got to say, the smell of cinnamon cookies wafting through the house made me feel a little bit better about everything.

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And can I just say, I am a total photography amateur, and people always go on about natural light and how amazing it is. I’ve always (obliviously) brushed it off and then wondered why my photos look all glary and unnatural.

Well hey presto, I used natural light today and I they came out good.

Three cheers for me!

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Oatmeal and Raisin Cinnamon Cookies

Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery

Ingredients

  • 270g butter
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 160g dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 380g self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 110g porridge oats
  • 225g raisins

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°c. Line four baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. Weigh out and sieve the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into a bowl so they are ready to add with the eggs.
  3. Put the butter and the sugars in a bowl and mix with beaters until they form a fluffy and light consistency. Add the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the flour mixture with each so the mixture doesn’t curdle. Beat until it is all combined. Add the vanilla essence and beat once more.
  4. Mix the oats with the rest of the flour and put it in with the butter mixture. Beat until it forms a smooth dough but do not over beat it as it can become tough and form a tough cookie (‘you’re one tough cookie!’ haha!) Stir in the raisins with a wooden spoon.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out even balls onto the baking trays and ensure they are evenly spaced out. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown but the middle still looks slightly pale. Don’t worry if they seem raw in the middle when you take them out – the trick to a soft cookie is to take them out early as they continue cooking.
  6. Leave to cool before removing from the greaseproof paper and eat curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea.

Strawberry and White Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

Summer, to me, means going to ‘pick your own’ farms and picking as many strawberries as you can carry. I never had the chance to do this much as a kid, so this summer I dragged Will with me to Millet’s Farm in Abingdon.

Still acting like a child at seventeen – yep!

tunnel

It was a perfect day, just right for strawberry picking. So after having a delicious ice cream while sitting in the sun – I had sticky toffee and Will had strawberries & cream, we went off and starting picking our strawberries; a positively knee-trembling-with-excitement prospect for me.

There were children everywhere, parents everywhere and strawberries everywhere! They also do pick your own raspberries, gooseberries, rhubarb, cherries, blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, broad beans, runner beans…need I go on?

Cue the embarrassing shots of me and Will picking strawberries – got to say, these aren’t the most flattering of us. We were just so over excited with the prospect of fresh strawberries! – well I was anyways.

megwill

In the end, we picked just under a kilo of the sweet and juicy things. But then, I was faced with a problem. What was I going to do with a kilo of strawberries?

Make a cheesecake of course! And seeing as Will is an absolute white chocolate fiend, AND he bought me the strawberries, I figured it would be perfect to make one that combined the two.

Man after my heart aye?

strawbs

Hey presto, the white chocolate and strawberry mousse cheesecake was born.

The good thing about this cheesecake is its really light (like a mousse, nice one Megan), which I know sometimes all you want is a thick and creamy cheesecake which coats the spoon, but in the summer heat, this is still creamy YET it doesn’t have you reaching for the water.

It’s just perfect.

And it used up 500g of the strawberries – result.

cheesecake

P.S. I apologise for the poor food shots. Will and my family got their hands on it before I could get to my camera.

 

 

Strawberry and White Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food

Ingredients

-          300g digestive biscuits

-          150g butter, melted

-          400g white chocolate

-          500g strawberries

-          300g tub of full fat cheese

-          200ml double cream

Method

  1. Crush the biscuits into a fine crumb but some bits can still be a bit chunky still. You can do this by either using a rolling pin or using a food processor. Add the melted butter and mix well. Tip into a 20cm lined, loose bottomed, spring form cake tin and smooth down with either the back of a spoon or your hands. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Melt 375g of the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the water isn’t touching the bottom of the glass bowl or the chocolate may seize (when the chocolate goes grainy). Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Take out a few of the strawberries and set aside. Blitz the remaining strawberries in a food processer until they are very smooth. Combine the cream cheese and the double cream, add the blitzed strawberries and beat until smooth, creamy and thick. Add the melted chocolate and beat again. Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.
  4. Halve the remaining strawberries and place on top in a nice pattern. Melt the remaining 25g of chocolate and drizzle over the top.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to be served – if it lasts that long without someone eating it.