Thursday, 29 November 2012

Guest Blog : Accidental Baking Champion

This is my first guest blog and something a bit different :) I will publish the recipe shortly but for now hear from a baker's better half....

'As the end of 2011 approached, my girlfriend boldly announced her new year's resolutions every couple of days (I think, to make sure we couldn't forget them and could hold her to account). One of those resolutions was to start a baking blog. I've known Ruth since 2008 and she's always spoken about wanting to have cafe, specifically to have a cafe specialising in sweet, baked, deliciousness. Countless times she has presented me with her creations; marvelous cakes, dainty macaroons, crumbly biscuits, warming tarts and of course the dazzling cupcakes. It's hard work having to try and keep it all off the waistline, but I know (trust me - I really do know) how hard she works to make everything she does the best it can be, as all skilled perfectionists do. I'm very proud of her and when she got her current job as a full time baker I was really overjoyed. It's boosted her confidence massively and given her a great new lease of life so thanks for being part of that and reading her blog!

All that said - I have NO idea why she does it. I understand I'm guesting on a baking blog here, but I really don't get what makes people bake. The mess, the time, the's mental! With that I think i should get on and talk about my own baking experience, what took me there, and where I'm going with it now (I think you can already guess that part).

A few weeks ago one of those pan-office emails went out about "The Great *************** Bake-Off". It was around the time The great British Bake-Off was in full swing, and was being arranged by one of the sales team. It invited everybody from the 150 strong events staff to submit a bake of any kind that would be judged, with prizes to be awarded in the following categories:

- Best Looking Bake
- Most Original Bake
- Best Technical Bake
- Best Overall Bake (I think this is a sort of judgment on general pretty/yumminess)

Our team, which sits seperately from most of the company briefly discussed entering. For no other reason than I thought it would be lazy not to, seeing as I know, oh too well, how our cupboards are clogged with all the ingredients and instruments i could possibly need, I piped up, declaring that I would enter and make some cupcakes. Of course, this initial verbal commitment didn't actually mean that I'd do it (or so I thought). So I went about repeating it and thought that eventually I'd just casually make up a reason that I couldn't. However, as it drew closer i realised that I was now in danger of letting people down, particularly the three ladies I work closest with, who were not going to let me off.

So, now comfortable with actually having to do it, I decided on Salted Caramel cupcakes, which Ruth had given me a few weeks earlier and were just delicious. Ruth had some caramel left over from being a prop at her latest market stall and the rest of the general cakey-ness was all in the house already so I didn't even have to go shopping - amazing!

The bake-off judging was on a Friday morning so the Thursday night before I settled down and began following Ruth's recipe to the book. I've not baked, let alone written about it before so my style might be a bit unorthodox but here we go:

MIXING - Fun Rating 6/10

I took sugar and butter (equal weights) and sort of mashed them together which took a little while but was strangely pleasurable. Then I put in some eggs and was left with a yellow mixture. I sieved in flour until it looked like cake mixture. Then I added a tin of caramel and salted the mixture to taste. I wasn't sure what it was supposed to taste like - but I just put in quite a lot of salt and it sort of always tasted good so I thought it would be okay.

SPOONING - Fun Rating 5/10

I spooned the mix into regular cupcake tins. I enjoyed trying to make sure they were all the same size but Ruth didn't seem to think it mattered.

BAKING - Fun Rating 2/10

This doesn't really involve doing anything, except for remembering when to take the cakes out which I did quite well. The oven was around 170 degrees C. Whilst I did that I made the salted caramel buttercream to ice the cakes with.


This was by far the worst bit. I had to cream some butter which actually was just a bit frustrating and quite painful. Once that was done, I had to add icing sugar, using and electric whisk to mix it all together. Again, I added a tin of caramel and salted the icing to taste. This was a terrible job as the whisk just chucked icing all over me every now and again.

FILLING - Fun Rating 6/10

I punched some holes in the cakes (which had cooled first) using a little device that Ruth has. Again, she mentioned i didn't have to be so precise but I actually thought that was quite fun. I filled the holes with yet more caramel, to give the cupcakes a delicious "melty" centre.

ICING - Fun Rating 7/10

I piped the icing onto the cupcakes and though it took me a while to get used to the required technique, I eventually managed to make them all look pretty good (in my opinion!). This was enjoyable because I was allowed to be precise. I sprinkled some edible glitter on the top and broke up some DIME bars to place on the top, sticking up jaggedly.

I boxed up the cakes and took them to work in the morning. To my surprise, people were genuinely shocked and many thought I'd just bought them from Hummingbird or something. I actually had a meeting that morning in St Pauls so I had to leave the office and walked there because it was a really nice day. I tubed back to the office and when I arrived I was desperate for the loo so I went into the Gents. A workmate came in as I was washing my hands and blithely announced that I'd just missed "my presentation'. I asked if I'd won something and he announced I'd won "Best Cake or something".

I was pretty pleased to have won, and when I went to the part of the office where people had gathered to purchase the goods (this was a charity bake off of course!) I quickly had it confirmed that I'd won Best Overall Bake. I was presented with a framed certificate (now proudly displayed on my desk) and generally with the congratulations and good-will of the office. It was a bit weird because I had never baked before but now I'd actually baked something good and been recognised!

Of course, now I get to the part of the blog about where I'll be taking my baking from now on. To be honest, I don't really want to bake again, It turned out that none of my team had actually got any of my cakes as they'd been hoovered up too quickly. So I made them some more the week after the bake-off (exactly the same) but this was more stressful and less enjoyable than the first time and that is enough for me.

I love Ruth's baking and she will always be able to provide me with doughy sweetness so I feel no burden to continue or develop my skills. If you are an amateur or professional baker, hats off to you. Not only do you create delicious food but I know from experience you do it even though it's hard and boring!

Thanks for reading, and for supporting Mixing Bowl Magic!'

Monday, 19 November 2012

J is for Jazzies

I love Jazzies. They seem kind of kitsch and retro and they remind me of being a kid! What's not to love about something that transports you back to the excitement of sprinkles?! Oh and they're chocolate :)

One of the most popular cupcakes at the shop is the 'Jazzy Marble'. It's a marble cake with two tone buttercream and Jazzies on top and it flies of the shelves and into bellies :)

I had some chocolate cupcakes left over from baking the Halloween cake so I decided to create giant Jazzies in cake form for this month's Alphabakes challenge.

I piped a large blob of chocolate frosting onto each cupcake. I then dipped each cupcake into a bowl of sprinkles. Move the cupcake around in the bowl until most of the top if the cupcake is covered. You can then use the palm of your hand to smooth the sprinkles and make sure all the cake is covered. To finish it off I used a little bit of the buttercream to stick a white Jazzy on top of the cupcake.

A very simple idea but I think actually rather effective and tasty :)

Alphabakes is hosted by Caroline Makes and The More Than Occassional Baker and November's host is Caroline from Caroline Makes.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

A life of cupcakes....

It's now almost two months since I took a considerable pay cut and acquired an early morning commute out of London to bake cupcakes for a living. It has been a big change, I am very tired and my figure is fast deteriorating as I struggle to eat well and rarely get to the gym. It is a struggle financially and I will be sad to leave the little patch of south London which we have come to love. However all this is more than worth it to do something I love!

Before I started this job I had never covered a cake in fondant icing, in fact I rarely worked with sugarpaste at all. My focus has always been on flavours rather than decoration as you can probably tell if you've read my blog!

Since starting this job I have covered 4 celebration cakes, not to mention countless giant cupcakes; I have made first wedding cake (which was the first fruit cake I had ever made!) as well as wedding cupcake towers for every weekend I've been there. I've made my first cupcake bouquets, made 1000+ cupcakes in a day (same day as the wedding cake!) and even taught myself to make sugarpaste roses.

I'm so excited to improve on what I have learnt and develop new skills. I would love to do some kind of course so that I can get some real training but at the moment I am trying to teach myself as much as possible and learn from those around me.

Here are some examples of what I've been up to:

I want to say that two months ago I would never have imagined that I could have this job. Taking these leaps are not easy and I realise that I am fortunate in that I am young and have no mortgage or children to worry about so the risk was lower. But this whole experience has opened my eyes opportunities there are out there. I'm not special and I haven't always had the attitude of 'you can do whatever you want'; I just decided to go for it. And to be honest if it wasn't for the people around me who saw it a lot clearer than I did, I probably would have been brave enough - I am very lucky :)

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Happy Halloween!

I haven't really got into Halloween properly for a few years now - it seems to be a celebration reserved mainly for children and students. However this year is different as I have been planning cupcakes and window decorations since I started my new job 6 weeks ago.

Here are some of the cupcakes I have been making in the shop. I've seen these ghosts around a lot now and think they're really effective - I'll be making snowmen verisons for christmas. My personal favourites however though are the pumkin cupcakes which are topped with maple cream cheese frosting. It may be too sweet for some but I have a huge soft spot for maple syrup!

And I tried out some themed cake pops - not sussed out how to get the candy melts nice and smooth yet but hopefully I'll get there!

I have also been working on some Halloween creations at home. One of my friends hosted a Halloween party at the weekend so of course I promised a cake! I had wanted to make a pumpkin cake but all the delis and supermarkets within reasonable reach failed me and I had no time to order it on online so in the end I settled for a chocolate cake. I baked the cake as one and then cut into three layers and sandwiched them togethr with green buttercream. The idea was for the buttercream to create a visual contrast with the dark chocolate sponge but the buttercream had soaked into the sponge. I don't know whether this was because the buttercream was on a surface of cake that had been cake and so wasn't 'sealed'.

The fingers are made from sugarpaste with a flaked almond nail. The eyeballs are cake balls covered in candy melts and decorated with sugarpaste and food colouring. The 'blood' is a mixture of egg whites and icing sugar and red food colouring gel. It is far from perfect but considering most of the decorating was done in the dark sans icing smoother or edible glue and surrounded by what seemed to be a small party, I was pretty pleased with the final effect.

I used the same recipe for this cake which was made at the request of my boyfriend's mum for a childrens party. The skeletons are gingerbread and the spiders are again cake balls with sugarpste eyes and legs. This time I did just two layers and baked them separaely. I levelled offthe tops but turned the bottom layer upside down so that the bottoms of each cake are being sandwiched together with cream cheese frosting. I used orange frosting in another attempt to create a colour contrast - fingers crossed it has worked!

I have never been very good at the decorating side of cakes and baking and I think that this is the cake that I'm most proud of.

This is the recipe I used for both cakes. I would normally be wary of chocolate cake recipes with no actual chocolate in it but this serves well as a layered celebration cake as the buttercream and fondant keep the sponge moist. It's the recipe we use at Dixies, or at least a variation of it. It is certainly not perfect but is useful as a basic chocolate cake recipe.I'll From these quantities I made one 8 inch cake and 12 cupcakes ) I would add that I don't think this recipe is as good for cupcakes.

330g butter
330g brown sugar
330g caster sugar
250ml soured cream
12 eggs
510g self-raising flour
165g cocoa powder
4 tsp baking powder
30ml coffee

Preheat the oven to 160 C.

Cream together the butter, sugars and soured cream until well mixed and fluffy. Add in half the eggs and beat well. Mix in half the flour. Beat in the rest of the eggs and finally fold in the rest of the flour, the cocoa powder and the baking powder. Pour into a lined and greased baking tin and bake until a skewer comes out clean. Check it after 45 minutes and cover with foil if the edges look like they're catching.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Foodie Pen Pals

Tania was my foodie pen pal this month and sent me this beautiful parcel of goodies. She had told me that there were lots of farmers markets in her area so I was looking forward to trying some of her local produce and this package did not disappoint.

Since I've started my new jobs the early starts have really started to wear me out and I find that my weekends are spending lying on the sofa with a film and comfort food. Tania's gift was a perfect accompaniment to my Saturday night wine - the chocolates and cheese did not last long and the chutney will be a great addditon to many a cheese and wine night!

She has a truly talented friend who makes these delicious luxury chocolates and as, Tania promised me, the sticky toffee chocolate was not as strange or sickly as it sounded - a real discovery!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Poppy Seed Bagels

Inspired by the Great British Bake Off I wanted to make bagels and at the end of my first week surrounded by cake, it was the perfect time to make something savoury! I used a recipe for regular bagels from the BBC Good Food website but apparently failed to read any of the instructions and just through everything in a bowl together. I also added poppy seeds and cracked black pepper to the dough.

Despite this slight mishap which resulted in considerably more sugar being added that the recipe called for, the bagels were fairly easy to make. the most difficult part was getting a pretty shape - enough of a hole so that it wouldn't disappear when baking, a nice ciecle and smooth surface. Needless to say I didn't wholly succeed and they certianly wren't uniform. I used the 'lassoo-ing it around your finger' method of making the hole and although this was fairly effective, I struggled to get the hole in the centre of my bagels.

Before baking I sprinkled with more poppy seeds, cracked black pepper and sea salt. This added to both the taste and appearance once baked. I must admit thsat overall I was very pleased with the bagels although next time I will baked them at a lower temperature. The recipe said 220°C and as I have a fan oven I set it to 200°C but they still cooked very quickly and were darker than I would have liked so next time I think I'll try 180°C.

Most of the poppy seed bagels I saw when searching for recipes only has them sprinkled on top but I think that including them in the actual dough gives them a lot more flavour. I have tried them on their own as a snack, with honey for breakfast and with cream cheese for lunch (as an experiment you understand - it is one of the chores of baking!). All variations were tasty and I will definitely be making bagels again soon!

I am entering these into the Alphabakes challenge hosted by Caroline Makes and The more than occasional baker. Caroline is hosting September's challenge and will post a round up on her blog at the end of the month so check it out :)

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Happy Cupcake

So it turns out that National Cupcake Week coincides with me starting work as a baker at a cupcakery. So my week has indeed involved many a cupcake - from oreos to strawberry and including gluten and dairy-free, I've not done it all but I've made a start!

Here's a little glimpse of what I've been up to:

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Marbled 'Jazzie' Cupcakes

The shop, to see more visit

It seemed only right that I bring in cupcakes for my last day in the office last week so another late night of baking produced some chocolate orange and some amaretto cupcakes. I made chocolate cupcakes by using cocoa powder and grating chocolate into the mixture and topped with orange flavoured cream cheese frosting. Generous glugs of amaretto were added to batter and buttercream for the pretty in pink cupcakes.

I'm entering these two creations into this months Calender Cakes challenge (which has the apt theme of cupcakes!) which is hosted by Dollybakes ( and Laura Loves Cakes (

So whether you've been baking or eating (or both!) I hope you've had a wonderful week of cupcakes!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sunday afternoon essentials: Scones

This post was supposed to be written a while ago but job related stress and excitement have somewhat a taken over the past week over so!

I was really happy when my boyfriend's mum asked me to bring round scones as I had actually never made them before (despite consuming a fair few!) I was also a little nervous as scones a kind of a staple that everyone who bakes should be able to whip up – failure was not an option.

I have learnt that in times of uncertainty, Mary Berry will always be there for me. Well at least her baking bible will be - unless I’ve lost it down the back of the book shelf. Flicking through the ‘bible’ there were several scone recipes but shouldn’t you can’t go wrong with Mary’s 'very best' scones with a few handfuls of sultanas thrown in to make some classic fruit scones.

Unfortunately I don’t have a fluted cutter so I had to make do with a straight edged one (another thing to add to my wish list!). Overall I was fairly pleased though - I couldn't say they were uniform but they sure tasted good with raspberry jam and a dollop of cream!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

And so the adventure begins.....

Apologies for the lack of blog posts recently. It's been a big week and I am happy but emotionally and physically exhausted and overwhelmed! A week and a half ago I saw a tweet advertising a job as a baker at an independant cupcakery. Today will be my last day at my current job and on Monday I start work baking cakes.

Monday night saw a lot of buttercream and a whirlwind o icing sugar then Tuesday was a mad dash from work home to pick up my cupcakes. 1 wrong station, 1 wrong platform, a delayed train and useless cabbie later, I arrived at Dixie's Cupcakery rather flustered and clutching 12 cucpakes which - amazingly - were still in tact. I think they liked them.

Everything has happened so quickly that it is difficult to take in. I am so lucky that my current employer has been so accomodating considering I gave them 2 days (instead of 4 weeks) notice. There has been a lot of stress and worrying (meaning crying!) but in the end it's worked out so well that I feel like I need to pinch myself!

I am finding it all quite scary and surreal and i keep worrying that I won't be good enough. But I remind myself that this is what I want to do and I am so luckily to be able to do something I love for a living.

I have so many people to thank. Everyone I have told or spokend to about this
has been so supportive and that means so much. I don't want to sound too soppy but if it weren't for the encouragement of my friends and family and amazing support from my boyfriend, there is no way I would have had the guts to do this.

I don't want to ramble on - I just feel that this is a bit of a turning point for me and wanted to share it with those who are kind enough to read my blog. For now I need to get thinking of new ideas for the menu - watch this spaace!

I will leave you with a little photo of the cupakes I had to make for the interview:

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Apple and Peanut Danish Pastries

I love my Paul Hollywood book and I've been wanting to make danish pastries ever since I made the croissants (my first ever blog post!) but struggle to find the time as the dough needs to be rested overnight. But with little plans over the bank holiday weekend, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to take the plunge.

When I was younger, danish pastries were always my first choice of treat from the bakery. Provided they had my favourite that is - I remember being very specific about what flavour I wanted but cannot recall what it was - I'm sure almonds were involved..... This being my first attempt however, I decided to keep it simple and stick to the recipe. Well not exactly as I it called for apple and sultanas but I had run out of sultanas and fancied adding some nuts so replaced them with chopped peanuts. in his recipe but I had no sultanas left in the cupboard and decided to replace them with peanuts.

Making these pastries was a very enjoyable experience. I am easily pleased and there is not much I would rather do than put on a favourite tv show or podcast and potter round the flat baking. Yes perhaps I am old before my time but I'm happy!

Despite tasting delicious (even if I do say so myself!) they weren't a complete success and I'm not sure Mr Hollywood would have approved! I don't know whether our basement flat is too warm or I didn't roll it out thinly enough but they rose a lot (and out of shape) in the last rest and ended up being on the large side. So I was pleased with them but definitely need some more practice - next time I'm thinking cherry and almond...

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Foodie Pen Pals - August

Apologies for the delay in blogging again - it's been a long week! This month my foodie pen pal was Jenny who blogs at She writes a wonderful blog and is a very talented baker, cook and photographer.

Jenny had obviously looked at my blog and realised that I am a keen cake baker so sent me a parcel of baking things. I'm sure you can imagine the joy when I saw the box of baking goodies and tea - Jenny obviously knows me well!

I love poppy seeds but haven't baked with them in while so was delighted to see these included. They certainly won't last long but first I need to decide whether to bake muffins or take inspiration from The Great British Bake Off and make bagels.

I love discovering new foods through Foodie Pen Pals and I had never tried candied papaya (come to think of it I'd never tried papaya in any form). It's delicious and I'm excited to find something to use it in. I have also never used glycerine and will be rifling through my cook books to find a recipe that calls for it.

As a chocaholic the milk chocolate chunks and 80% chocolate were very welcome gifts! The chocolate bar is very dark and bitter - I think it'll be good for grating in/on things for some really intense chocolate flavour and I think some cookies might be in order!

Jenny also send me the best cupcake cases she has found and some decaf tea which will ease the guilt of my tea addiction! What a wonderful parcel to receieve and all the contents will be featuring in future blog posts.

If you are interested in/ intrigued by Foodie Pen Pals, more information can be found here:

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Toffee Apple Cake Pops

I have been meaning to take part in the AlphaBakes challenge again for a while and when I saw that this months letter was 'T' I couldn't get toffee apples out of my head! I created a Toffee Apple cake last autumn but I wanted to make something a bit different this time so I cam up with a toffee apple version of the popular cake pops.

Alphabakes is a great challenge hosted by The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes it produces a wonderful variety of recipes. Ros is hosting this month so check out the entries at The More Than Occasional Baker.


6oz butter
5oz light brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple juice
2 eggs
8oz self-raising flour
2 apples, finely chopped

8oz icing sugar
2oz butter
1 tablespoon apple juice

7oz golden caster sugar
4 tablespoons of golden syrup (I used runny honey as I had no golden syrup and this worked ok)
1 teaspoon vinegar

round lolly sticks

To make the cake cream 9oz butter and the light brown sugar. Beat in the eggs and 1 tablespoon of apple juice. Fold in the sifted flour and mix in the apple. Bake in a lined and greased cake tin for about 20 mins at 160C or until cooked through. You will be breaking the cake up so don't worry about the shape of the tin and it's better to over than under bake.

Leave the cake to cool.

Cream the butter and icing sugar then beat in the apple juice to create buttercream. Once the cake has cooled completely break it into crumbs and add to the buttercream. Mix the cake and buttercream together. Leave the mixture in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Line and grease a couple of large baking trays. Work the cake mixture ino balls as quickly as possible and place on the tray. Return the balls to the fridge.

Tip the caster sugar into a saucepan along with 100ml water. Heat for five minutes, until the sugar dissolves, then add the vinegar and golden syrup. Heat until the syrup reaches the 'hard crack' stage (if you drop a little into a bowl of cold water, it should harden instantly and you shouldn't be able to squish it)

Once the toffee is ready dip each of your lolly sticks in the caramel one at a time and stick them into a cake ball. using a teaspoon pour a tiny amount of the toffee in/round the whole thay the stick creates in the cake ball. Once you have domne this for all the cake pops, the first one will be ready to dip in the toffee. Make sure the cake ball and some of the stick are completely covered. Twist to get rid of any excess hot toffee and place back on the baking tray. - You will need to work quickly and will probably have to reheat the toffee mixture slightly.

Once all the cake pops are covered with the toffee, return the baking trays to the fridge to cool and harden.

These were definitely an experiment but worked quite well. You need to keep them in the fridge and eat them within a day or two. I was unsure about how desirable it is to snap through hard toffee for a moist cake but I actually found it enjoyable if a little unusual - I think it might be a marmite!

My main problem with the cake was that it wasn't 'apple-y' enough. Next time (I think they'll be a perfect treat for bonfire night) I will try using cooking apples as they are bigger and stronger. I'd also like to get some apple concentrate as the juice wasn't strong enough.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

'Zero Baking' Challenge

When Sarah, who blogs over at Maison Cupcake (check it out!) announced a new 'Zero-Baking Required' blogging challenge (you can find the details here) I knew it was time to make fridge cake. It's is so wonderfully simple and involves absolutely no skill or precision but it is delicious! My mum makes this a lot, especially if she is having lots of people round as it makes a cute little nibble and is a huge crowd pleaser!

When I went to make it as a Sunday evening activity however, I realised I had not copied down my mum's recipe. Confused that I could have made such a dreadful error and unable to call her as she was on holiday in France, I did a quick google search in the hope that I might find find the recipe somewhere out there on the interweb.

There were plenty of tiffin recipes but not quite what I was looking for. So in the end I 'baked' from memory and added a few of my own touches.

I crushed 300g plain biscuits (we usually use up whatever's in the biscuit tin... if there is anything!). Melt 2oz butter and 4 tbsp golden syrup in a bigger saucepan than you think you need (!) then remove from the heat and stir I the crushed biscuits. Add 2/3 tablespoons cocoa powder and stir until it covers the mixture. Add in as many sultanas and peanuts as you fancy. (My mum usually uses sultanas and cherries in her version but I love nuts and had plenty in my baking cupboard!). I lined and greased a shallow baking tin and tipped in the mixture. I then used the back of a metal spoon to squash it down, trying to keep it an even thickness. I left it in the fridge overnight but you probably don't need to leave it for that long.

Usually I would cover the cake with melted dark chocolate but I liked the idea of having a colour contrast so decided to use white chocolate. I threw some extra peanuts into a non-stick frying pan along with some brown sugar and tossed them over a medium heat for a few minutes. I then let them cool and place them on the white chocolated whilst it was still melted. Back in the fridge until the chocolate sets et voila :)

I was pretty happy with the result. It was a bit crumbly so I think I got the proportions slightly wrong and it might have needed a bit more butter or golden syrup but considering they were all guesswork I thought they turned out ok.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Experiments with Shortbread

A while ago someone brought some rosemary shortbread into work. I tried it (of course), loved it and was inspired. I'm not a huge biscuit fan but I do love shortbread so I decided to make a few variations. I chose to make rosemary, earl grey and nut/seed.

Basic shortbread recipe:

300g plain flour
200g butter
100 caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 150 C.

Rub the plain flour and butter together with your fingers until they resemble breadcrumbs. Mix in the caster sugar using your hands.

I then separated the mixture into three bowls. To one I added the contents of two earl grey teabags and to another about 3 tablespoons of finely chopped rosemary. To the last tird add about 2 tablespoons of mixed seeds and 50g of unsalted, chopped peanuts.

Mix the ingredients into the biscuit mixture and work together until they make a dough. Roll out to about 1cm thick and cut out circles (or other shapes if you wish!) for your biscuits.

These make great presents and I'm definitely going to experiment with more flavours, time to make some lavender sugar I think.....

Monday, 13 August 2012

A morning post - fruit and seed granola

My housemate has been working ridiculously long hours this last week and as soon as she has a bit of a break I will be heading off on holiday for a few days so I thought I'd leave her something tasty :)

We are both very much breakfast people and much as we enjoy our weekend eggs and mushrooms, I thought that preparing this granola would provide a quick and tasty weekday breakfast. I would usually use nuts in this put this time I decided to stick with seeds and used a packet of pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and golden linseeds.

5oz oats
1.5 oz ground almonds
5.5oz mixed seeds/nuts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon crab apple jelly
3 teaspoons light brown sugar
3.5/4oz sultanas

Heat the oven to about 160 C.
Mix together the oats, ground almonds, seeds and sugar in a bowl. Heat the honey, jelly and oil over a low heat and stir together. Allow to cool slightly and then add to the dry ingredients along with the oil. Mix together with with your fingers and to spread it in a large, greased and lined baking tray.

Bake until all the mixture is golden brown. Remove from the oven every 5-10 mins and give the mixture a shake.

Once the granola is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it cool before adding in the sultanas and it is ready to eat!

I must admit that I could (make that do!) nibble at this all day but it also goes very well with some fresh fruit and yoghurt and you can even make up a jar of it if you're on the move.