Octonauts Birthday Cake

Of all the cakes I’ve made over the last few years, this one was by far THE most adventurous.

When Bruiser set his heart on an Octonauts cake for his birthday I envisaged a Captain Barnacles or Kwazii face, something simple. Wriggler had other ideas. He sat on the laptop with Bruiser and googled Octonauts cake images. Bruiser picked his cake, he wanted a Gup-A cake. For those of you not familiar with the Gup-A, it is loosely based on the Anglerfish and looks like this…

…As you can see, I had my work cut out!!

After I’d spent about two weeks panicking that I would never pull it off, I began drawing some plans together, I decided how much cake I would need, what it was going to look like etc and so then began the search for the perfect colour icing!

BINGO!!

BINGO!!

In all, to ice this cake I used:
750g ready to roll Icing in Jade
250g ready to roll icing in Blue
A multi pack of coloured Icing in red, black, green and yellow.
A tub of turquoise Dragees (the small little blueish balls)

(Ordinarily I would use Lakeland for ingredients but this time I found everything I needed at Tesco Party.)

I used my recipe for The Perfect Sponge Cake and used a plain sponge on this occasion. To make sure I had more than enough cake I made eight 7inch layers!

I started by making paper templates. When Bruiser wasnt walking around the room going wacker-wacker-wacker with them (for those not familiar with wacker-wacker-wacker, that’s the sound the Gup-A makes) 😉 I placed them onto the cakes to cut around with a bread knife.  

Once the main shape was established I then started making the curved sloping shape down the sides from the top. This was a lot more difficult than I anticipated because, the sponge kept moving. I also made a cut through 2 layers at the front and removed the section of cake to make the cockpit of the Gup.

Once the shaping was complete. I used jam and butter cream in between every layer to stick them together and butter cream to stick the different parts together (see pictures). I then completely covered the cake in the remaining butter cream to form a nice smooth surface to rest the icing on. This also helps fill any gaps.

octonauts birthday cake

Now it was time for the icing. As much as I love working with icing, it still scares me. If I get it wrong, the cake is ruined. No pressure hey?!

Because I knew that there was a lot of shaping needed with the icing I used more of it and I rolled it out quite thick. Once it was the size I needed (after roughly measuring around the cake surface), I picked it up on the rolling-pin and placed it onto the cake. Using my hands I shaped it to the cake and trimmed off the bits not required. I then used my icing smoother and my hands to finish it off.

Hard part over right? Ha, no!!

I now had to make the features of the Gup to stick on the cake. I actually really enjoyed this bit.

My tools of the trade did not include any fancy icing tools (which I really should invest in) they were random objects found in most kitchen cupboards. A water bottle opening to make the windows, a fruit shoot plastic lid to make smaller holes in the windows and the eyes. A small 2.5ml medicine syringe for precisely applying the icing glue. Cocktail sticks to help make the fins and propeller stick into the cake enough. Tupperware tubs to hold bits in place while the ‘glue’ dried. I pressed the propeller of the (real) Gup-A into the yellow icing slightly to leave an imprint and then cut around it.

After a break for some tea when Hubby came home and time with the kids before putting them in bed, me and now the Hubby then cracked on. We had to complete it that night, preferably before the Birthday Fairies visited.

Hubby did the characters while I finished the cake! He used the actual toy characters as models to copy!

Can you guess what it is yet??

Can you guess what it is yet??

The attention to detail was paramount! Bruiser notices these things!

… and then there was three!… 

CAPTAIN BARNACLES

CAPTAIN BARNACLES

KWAZI

KWAZII

PESO

PESO

While Hubby did the characters, I made the finishing touches to the cake. Adding the side fins, tail fin, the windows, propeller etc. I used a mix of some of the jade icing with water as a glue to set the features onto the cake. I also used this as a glaze all over the icing. This hid away any dry cracked areas and other indiscretions and gave it a nice finished look when it had dried. I used this glue to set the dragees around the cake too while also pushing them into the icing slightly. These little bits really finished off the cake.

octonauts birthday cake octonauts birthday cake octonauts birthday cake

Once all the characters were finished and placed on the cake, Hubby made a control panel with all the buttons and levers, not forgetting the all important Octo-alert!

octonauts birthday cake

The final piece to place was the Esca on top and it was complete!

~Ta-da!~

octonauts birthday cake

octonauts birthday cake

No themed birthday is ever complete with out buns too so I made some Octonauts buns for his classmates at school. 

octonauts buns

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Bruiser LOVED his cake and he had a very Octo-Special birthday!

(the cake was octo-licious too)

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octonauts birthday cake

Baking our Christmas Cake

The other week me, Wriggler and Bruiser baked this years Christmas cake. This was the second time id baked the cake. In previous years, my Mum had always took great pleasure in baking us our yearly christmas cake but. last year I decided that I would use my Mums Christmas Cake recipe and give it a go for myself. It was a great success.

This year I wanted to get the boys involved just like my Mum did with me and my Brothers when we were children.

Both Wriggler and Bruiser love to bake and help cook so it didn’t surprise me that they were both very eager to get stuck in. In fact they took over, I barely got chance to do any of it myself!

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First of all we got the butter and sugar creamed together. Then the boys took turns to add a little spiced flour then a little egg and other liquid ingredients until they were all mixed in.

Bruiser got stuck in scraping the mixture from the sides of the bowl (taking great care not to get even a tiny bit of mixture on his fingers) before they added the fruit, one spoonful at a time;

Once all the ingredients were added, it was time to each give the mixture a hand-stir while we made our christmas wishes. This was a tradition that my Mum always did. Id always thought it was a lovely idea so this year for the first time we did it too. 

That was it, the mixture was added to the cake tin and left to slowly bake in the oven…. All that was left was to well, clean the utensils 😉

20131120-131503.jpg

While the cake matures in the coming weeks, we just need to decide how we want to decorate the cake. Last year we did Snowmen and a Christmas Tree. But, this year Wriggler has some great ideas, so watch this space!

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Spiderman Birthday Cake

Wrigglers 7th Birthday Cake

This was my second attempt at a themed birthday cake. Previously I had done Wriggler a Thundercats Cake. This year he wanted Spiderman!

spiderman cake

… and this is how I did it!

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What I used
3x 250g of Red Royal Icing
1x 250g of Black Royal Icing
Icing Smoother
Black Food Colouring
1 Medium Egg
Icing Syringe
Icing Sugar
Tape Measure
( I use the wonderful Lakeland for all my cake decoration needs. Its one of my favorite shops!)

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Wriggler loves ginger, so I baked him a lovely triple layer Ginger Sponge Cake using this recipe.

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I started off by trimming the three sponge layers, levelling them off and removing any bumps. I then trimmed the circumference of the cake to give a flat surface for the icing.

Next I prepared the butter cream for the middle of the cake using; 6oz of icing sugar mixed with 3oz of butter. I gradually creamed them together until the mixture was light and fluffy.

I covered one layer of the sponge with jam and the second with some of the butter cream.

Next it was time to prepare to ice the cake.

Firstly I covered the cake with a layer of the remaining butter cream. This helps the icing adhere to the cake and gives you a little room to move the icing slightly if it isn’t quite on right and it also helps keep the sponge moist.

I then rolled and molded the three red blocks of icing together in my hands, warming up the icing to make it more pliable. I lightly dusted the work surface with icing sugar to stop it sticking to the surface. I rolled out the icing into a circle big enough to cover the cake top sides and onto the cake board. (use a tape measure to measure the size you need) I needed 14 inch.

When you are ready; taking lots of care, use the rolling-pin to lift the icing and roll it onto the cake.

I made sure the icing was pretty much central, then using the my fingers and the palm of my hand I smoothed down the icing on the top. For the sides of the cake, I lifted away the icing with my right hand while using my left hand to smooth the icing to the sides of the cake. This bit can be quite tricky, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. I trimmed off the remaining icing that wasnt required. Then using a cake smoother, I smoothed the icing in circular motions on top and around the sides. This gives it a smoother more professional finish  than using fingers alone.

Before I went any further I had a good wipe up of any left over butter cream, dusted icing sugar and generally cleaned my work space. I used a damp cloth on the cake board. The cake at this point was looking a little dusted with icing sugar so I used a baking brush and gave it a little coat of water all over. This brightened up the icing back to brilliant red.

I left the cake to one side while I prepared the icing to pipe onto the cake. I was going for a silvery colour for the web. I made the icing using; 375g icing sugar, 2 tea spoons of black food colouring and the egg white of one medium-sized egg. I mixed them together well using a spatula to get a light pliable consistency. I knew it was right when I could make spikes in the icing and they held.

I practiced lots on the work surface. This gives you an idea of how you need to hold the icing syringe or piping bag and the amount of pressure needed to keep the piping fluid.

Using a tape measure, i found the centre of the cake and made a little mark and then proceeded to mark on the cake where i wanted the web to go. I made marks at (pretending it was a clock) 12, 3, 6, 9 then 1.5, 4.5, 7.5, and finally 10.5. I then piped the icing following these markers one at a time. I did all the top web lines first then proceeded to pipe down the sides of the cake (this was very tricky) I practiced on a cake tin for this bit.

When the main outline of the web was done, I then filled it in taking care and not rushing.

Using a different nozzle on the icing syringe, I then piped ‘Happy Birthday Spiderman’ around the edge of the cake board. Again I practiced using different nozzle heads to find the best one for what I wanted.

For the huge spider in the centre of the cake, I found an image off the internet and printed it out and cut out the spider.

spiderman cake

I then rolled and played with the black icing in my hands to make it pliable as before with the red. I rolled it out over a dusting of icing sugar on a piece of grease-proof paper.

I placed the paper spider over the top of the icing and rolled over it with the rolling-pin. This then left an imprint in the icing of the spider. I cut out the spider from the icing using a very sharp knife, taking care to remove the left over icing bit by bit.

When the spider is cut out, I trimmed the grease-proof paper down so I could hold it im my hand. I then slowly slid the icing spider off the paper onto the cake taking care to place it exactly where I wanted it as there isn’t room for much movement when it was on. I positioned the spider legs where I wanted them and the smoothed the spider off generally using my fingers to give it rounded looked as opposed to ‘just cut out of icing look’ 🙂

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of this bit (I get carried away sometimes)! However you can see how I did the Cat logo for the Thundercats Cake by following this link. What I did for the cat logo is pretty much the same as the spider.

As I did with the red icing, I used a small brush to paint water onto the spider to give it none dusted in icing sugar look and a bright black glossy finish. It really made it stand out from the cake.

Ta-da!!

Ta-da!!

What do you do with all the left over icing you ask? Make cake buns for classmates or the party each decorated with a little web or spider.

spiderman buns

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My little Wriggler had a Spiderific Birthday and the cake and buns went down brilliantly!

spiderman cake

Thundercats Birthday Cake

What do you think of when you reminisce back to childhood birthdays?…  For Me and my brothers, birthday memories all included an amazing birthday cake that had been made my Mum. They ranged from animal merry-go-rounds, hansel and gretal cottages to butterflies, castles, cars and trains for my brothers. Half of the excitement of our birthdays would be about what cake we would get.

I always knew that one day I would make cakes just the same for my children. But I also knew that I had big boots to fill!

Despite my best intentions in between juggling my children, work and family home life, I never found the time before Wrigglers 6th to actually make one.  My Mum did step in for Wrigglers 2nd Birthday and made him a Roary the Racing Car cake which was just superb.

Roary the Racing Car

However becoming a stay at home Mummy after having Bruiser gave me more time and I decided that it was about time I should make a go of it.

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Wrigglers 6th Birthday

Birthday cakes for both boys have always centered around their latest fad, be it Roary the Racing Car, Toy Story, Ben 10, SpiderMan to name a few for Wriggler. This year (2012) was no exception, he was mad on Thundercats!!

Thundercats cake

… This is how I did it:

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What I used:
2x 250g of Red Royal Icing
1x 250g of Black Royal Icing
Icing Smoother
Black Food Colouring
1 Medium Egg
Butter
Icing Syringe
Icing Sugar
Tape Measure
( I use the wonderful Lakeland for all my cake decoration needs. Its one of my favorite shops!)

I made a simple two layer sandwich sponge cake using this recipe the day before.

Firstly, I started off by trimming the sponge layers, levelling them off and removing any bumps and lumps. I then trimmed the circumference of the cake to give a flat surface for the icing.

Next I prepared the butter cream for the middle of the cake; I used, 6oz of icing sugar mixed with 3oz of butter. I gradually creamed them together until the mixture was light and fluffy.

I spread some jam on one of the cake layers and some of the butter cream on the other, then placed the 2nd half on top.

Using some of the remaining butter cream. I spread this all over the cake in a thin even layer. This acts as a great base for the icing and gives the icing a bit of maneuverability when placed on the cake in case it doesn’t quite sit right . It also helps keep the cake moist.

Next I was ready to Ice the cake. I started by rolling and moulding the red blocks of icing together in my hands, warming up the icing makes it more pliable. I lightly dusted the work surface with icing sugar to stop it sticking to the surface. I rolled out the icing into a circle big enough to cover the cake top sides and onto the cake board. (use a tape measure to measure the size you need)

When I was ready, taking lots of care, I used the rolling-pin to lift the icing and roll it onto the cake.

I made sure the icing was pretty much central, then using the my fingers and the palm of my hand I smoothed down the icing on the top. For the sides of the cake, I lifted away the icing with my right hand while using my left hand to smooth the icing to the sides of the cake. This bit can be quite tricky, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. I trimmed off the remaining icing that wasnt required. Then using a cake smoother, I smoothed the icing in circular motions on top and around the sides. This gives it a smoother more professional finish  than using fingers alone.

That was the easy part over! I next set about making the Thundercats Logo for the top of the cake! As I discovered, more planning was needed where this was concerned but I did learn from my rookie mistakes so, this is what I now recommend I do in future!

I found a logo image on the internet and printed it. I then cut it out and used it as a stencil. I rolled and played with the black icing in my hands to warm it up and make it pliable as before with the red. I rolled it out over a dusting of icing sugar on a piece of grease-proof paper.

I placed the paper cat face logo over the top of the icing and rolled over it with the rolling-pin. This left an imprint in the icing of the logo. I cut out the logo from the icing using a very sharp knife, taking care to remove the left over icing bit by bit.

When the logo was cut out, I trimmed the grease-proof paper down so I could hold it in my hand. Slowly I slid the icing logo off the paper onto the cake taking care to place it exactly where I wanted it as there isn’t room for much movement once it was on the cake. I used the paper stencil again, I placed it over the icing logo to help me reshape it and reposition any bits that needed it. I used my fingers to smooth it off generally and neaten up any rough edges to give it rounded looked as opposed to ‘just cut out of icing look’.

Once the logo was on the cake, the last bit left to do was make the icing to pipe the edging. This was a first for me! I remember playing with my Mums piping set when I was younger but, never on a cake. I recommend practicing lots on a flat surface. I tried all the different tips to see what I liked and figure out how best to pipe each one. I went with the shell tip in the end and I held the syringe at a 45-degree angle to get the best effect around the cake.

To make the icing to pipe, I used; 375g icing sugar, 2 tea spoons of black food colouring and the egg white of one medium-sized egg. I mixed them together well using a spatula to get a light pliable consistency. If it needs thickening up, add more icing sugar until its right. I didn’t quite get the right consistency for this cake however and after piping the shells they fell a little. I’ve since learnt that when you can make spikes in the icing in the bowl and they hold their shape then its right.

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Ta-Da!!

Thundercats cake

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No Thundercats Birthday could ever be complete without Eye of Thundera buns! 🙂

thundercats cake

Wriggler had a Thunderific Birthday and he loved his cake and buns 🙂

thundercats cake

The Perfect Sponge Cake

This little recipe for me makes the perfect sponge cake. You can tailor it to each individual taste like ginger, chocolate or lemon.

What I like about this recipe is that its very easy and there is no messing around, you literally throw everything into the bowl, mix it all together and bung it straight into the oven. What could go wrong?

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For a plain sandwich cake you will need:

5oz Self Raising Flour

5oz of soft Butter or Margarine

5oz sugar

a pinch of salt

3 large eggs

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For Chocolate Cake; substitute 4tablespoons of flour for 4tablespoons of Cocoa Powder (I use hot chocolate powder)

For Ginger Cake; add 2tablespoons of Ground Ginger

 For Lemon Cake; add the grated rind of one large Lemon

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Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas.4.

Line and grease two 7inch cake baking tins

Put all the ingredients into a bowl and stir. Beat until it is smooth for a couple of minutes by hand or with an electric mixer.

Divide the mixture evenly between the baking tins and level off each surface.

Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes.

Cool the cakes on a wire rack.

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Fill and top the cake as you desire. As you can see, I prefer to use chocolate 😀

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This sandwich cake recipe makes the perfect cake base for Birthday Cakes. Usually the two layers is sufficient but if you want more layers, double up the ingredients. Any left over cake mix can be used in paper cases to make little buns.

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Have a go, it’s a great recipe to get the kids involved too.

ps… don’t forget to lick the bowl 😉

Fruit Scones

Just for the Record, its pronounced Scone to rhyme with ‘cone’! 🙂

I always used to love my Mums scones when I was little, warm from the oven with lashings of butter and jam. On a holiday one year in Devon, we discovered Cream Tea’s and I’ve been hooked on them ever since. I think the combination of Jam with Clotted Cream makes my Mums scones even better!

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You will need;

10oz Self Raising Flour
3oz Butter
pinch of salt
3oz Sugar
3oz Saltanas/Currents/Raisins (your choice)
1 Egg
Dash of Milk
Sugar for sprinking

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Pre-heat the oven to Gas.8/230C/450F

Line and grease 3-4 baking trays

fruit scones

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl.

Add the butter and rub together to make bread like crumbs.

Add the sugar and the fruit and mix well with your fingers.

fruit scones

Make a dip in the mixture.

In a jug beat the egg with a dash of milk so you have about 10floz.

Pour this into the bowl.

Stir with a knife until you have a dough.

Lightly dust the side with flour so the dough doesn’t stick and roll out the mixture until the dough is about and inch deep.

Cut out the scones with a small cutter.

Place scones on the greased baking trays.

To glaze the scones, beat another egg with a dash of milk and use a brush to coat the top of each scone (or use your fingers) and sprinkle of a little sugar

fruit scones

Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes (turning half way).

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

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Serve and eat as desired but I believe they are best served with Jam (traditionally Strawberry Jam) and Clotted Cream for ‘Afternoon Tea’

fruit scones

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Mmmmm Delicious

Twinkle Stars

This is a lovely little biscuit recipe that my Mum would bake with me and my brothers when we were little. It’s relatively easy for little fingers and quick too so you don’t lose their attention.

Be prepared to make a mess though 😉

twinkle stars

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Recipe

6oz Self Raising Flour

Pinch of Salt

3oz Sugar

2oz Ground Almonds

(if you can’t get ground ones, use flaked almonds and blend or crush them up)

5oz Butter / Margarine

A few drops of Almond Extract

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Prepare

Pre-heat oven to 180C 375F Gas.5

Grease two baking trays

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How to Make

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl

Rub in the butter or margarine

Add the Extract and mix well.

Bring it together using your hands. (a little flour on your hands helps the mixture not stick to your fingers)

Roll out on a flat surface quite thinly

Using a star-shaped cutter, cut out the stars

Place the stars on the baking trays

Decorate the stars with what ever sprinkles your little ones want. Bruiser chose silver pearls because they are twinkly

twinkle stars

Bake in the oven for approx 15 Minutes.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

twinkle stars

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Give them a go. They’re very delicious…

and don’t forget to lick the bowl 😉

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**this recipe contains nuts**

Banana & Walnut Cake

This is a great little recipe for using up those left over; no one wants to eat; going brown and manky Bananas! There is no major cost involved as it uses ingredients found in most kitchen cupboards. Its moist, very moreish and great little treat for lunch boxes or with afternoon tea.

What do you need?

What do you need?

1lb Bananas (peeled weight)
8oz Self Raising Flour
6oz Sugar
2 Large Eggs
3oz Butter
1/4 tsp Bicarb
A pinch of Salt
4oz Chopped Walnuts

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Pre-heat the oven to 180˚c / Gas mark 5 / 350˚f.

Start by mixing together the Flour, Bicarb and Salt.

Cream together the Butter and Sugar until it is light and fluffy.

Beat the Eggs together in a cup and add a little to the Butter/Sugar mixture.

Beat in well. Add a little of the Flour mixture and stir in well.

Repeat this process alternating with the Egg and Flour until they are all mixed in well.

In another bowl, mash together to Banana’s.

Add the Chopped Walnuts to the Banana’s and stir in.

Now add the Banana and Walnut mixture to the Cake mixture and stir really well.

Pour the mixture into a greased baking loaf tin (1kg/2lb capacity).

Ready for the Oven

Ready for the Oven

Put it in the oven and cook for approximately 1-hour and 15-minutes, turning half way.

Halfway

Halfway

Use a fine skewer to check if the cake is cooked. When you remove the skewer, it should be clean. If there is still a little cake stuck to it then leave in the oven for another 5-10 minutes and repeat this process.

clean skewer

Clean Skewer

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Ta-da!

Ta-da!

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Enjoy!

Mmmm Delicious

Mmmm Delicious

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This Cake is also great served warm as a pudding with custard or pouring cream.

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Perfect Pastry

Getting your pastry right is so important to make sure that your baking gets the justice it deserves.

My Mum’s pastry was always perfect whatever it was she baked, savory or sweet. When ever I tried my hand in the kitchen it just never came out right what ever recipe I used from the various books in my Mum’s kitchen. One day she shared with me her recipe for making the ‘Perfect Pastry’ as she called it.

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Rule 1; My Mum always insisted on using Self Raising flour and not Plain Flour. She said it made a softer thicker pastry that melted in your mouth. *whispers* she was right!

Rule 2; She always insisted that you use a good quality Butter and not Margarine. 

Rule 3; Use very cold water for mixing it.

Rule 4; The colder the hands the better when handling the pastry.

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So, What do you need?

This recipe makes 8 oz of pastry, this will give you approx 24 tarts, 12 small (tart size) pies, 1 large pie! If you want less, half the ingredients or double up for more!

8 oz Self Raising Flour
4 oz Butter
75 ml of Cold Water
Pinch of Salt

If you are making a savory pie, that is all you need.

For sweet pies, add 1oz Sugar.

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Hold your hands under cold water before you start. Make sure they are dry.

Rub together the Flour and Butter with your finger tips until you have fine crumbs.

pastry crumbs

pastry crumbs

If this is a sweet pie, add the sugar and mix in again using your finger tips.

Make a well in the middle of the crumb mixture and pour in the water and stir in using a knife. Add more or less water to make sure it isn’t sticky or crumbly. It should make a lovely dough.

Pastry dough

Pastry dough

Wrap the pastry in some cling film or foil and leave it in the fridge for an hour to chill.

On removing it from the fridge, using cold hands again, knead the dough a little and then roll out on a flat surface until it is about 5-6mm think.

Use however you normally would at this point for what ever you are baking.

Rolled and cut pastry cases

Rolled and cut pastry cases

rolling over the pastry

Pie topping

Before placing your prepared baking in the oven, using a pastry brush on a little milk mixed with as beaten egg to the top. This gives the pastry a lovely golden colour when cooked.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Mmmmm delicious

Mmmmm delicious

Happy Months (Mince Pies)

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Christmas preparations are well under way now. Think its time I made my first lot of Mince Pie’s… or Happy Months as they were called when I was growing up.

(There is a tradition that says for each mince pie eaten over the festive period one will get a happy month in the following year)… best get eating 🙂

Last year, I used my Mum’s last ever jar of homemade Mincemeat. My Brother has carried on that tradition so this years, will made using my Brothers Mincemeat.

Happy Month Mince Pie’s

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Ingredients

(makes 8oz of pastry which makes approx 12-15 mince pies… want more, simply double the ingredients!)

8oz Self Raising Flour

4oz Butter

1oz Sugar

75ml of cold water

(my Mum always insisted on SF flour and not plain. She said it made a softer thicker pastry that melted in your mouth… she was right :))

What else

A jar of Mincemeat

1 egg beaten with a splash of milk to coat the top of the pies

A sprinkling of sugar

A little water to stick the tops on the pies

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Rub together the butter and flour and sugar in a bowl to make fine crumbs.

pastry crumbs

pastry crumbs

Add the water and sir in with a knife until you have a dough that isn’t too sticky or too crumbly.

Pastry dough

Pastry dough

Roll out the pastry on a flat surface and using the pastry cutter (i use the largest one). You will need 12-15 of the largest circles and 12-15 of the medium sized ones to top your pies.

Rolled and cut pastry cases

Rolled and cut pastry cases

Add the pastry circles to your baking tray, then add a generous amount of mincemeat to each of the pastry cases.

generously filled pastry cases

generously filled pastry cases

Next, use a little water and using your fingers cover one side of the pastry case tops and then stick them down onto the mincemeat filled pastry cases. Be sure to press down round the edge to make sure they stick together well.  Then, using your fingers again, dip them into the egg and milk mix and cover the tops of the pies evenly and sprinkle with sugar. Im quite generous with the sugar as it makes the tops of the bun quite crunchy. Once done, use some baking scissors and snip twice on the tops of the pies.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Bake in the center of a pre-heated oven for 15-20 mins or until golden on top! Then leave to cool on a wire rack.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

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Give them a go, they’re quick and simple to make and they taste delicious!

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Pumpkin Pie

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This is a very seasonal dish which my Mum would make every Halloween without fail. Its delicious.

Scary Pumpkin Pie

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~ Recipe ~

80z Shortcrust Pastry

1lb Pumpkin

2 eggs

4oz caster sugar

4tbsp milk

A pinch nutmeg

A pinch ground ginger

2tsp ground cinnamon

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Line a 9-inch flan case with the pastry. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

After removing the ‘inners’ from your pumpkin, taking care to remove the seeds and cotton woolly like inside part. Place it in a steamer or if you don’t have a steamer, between 2 dinner plates over a pan of boiling water. Steam for  15-20 minutes until tender.

Drain thoroughly and mash well in a bowl or puree with a blender. (I like to sieve it too)

Beat the eggs with the sugar and then add the pumpkin puree, the milk and the spices. Blend well.

Pour into the pastry case.

Bake in the middle of a preheated oven at gas.7/220˚c/425˚f, for 15 minutes.

Reduce the temperature to, gas.4/180˚c/350˚f and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the filling is set.

Serve warm with whipped cream

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Pumpkin Pie

Its Delicious. Give it a go.

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Mums Christmas Cake

When I think of all the amazing calorie rich indulgent Christmas treats i’ve tucked into over the years, my Mum’s Christmas cake comes to mind every time.

Given that we are now less than 90 sleeps away, I think it’s definitely time to get my cake on the go so its ready in time for Christmas AND I’m going to share it with you all.

This cake goes back to my great grandma and she in turn passed it on to my Mum.

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Ingredients:

8 oz of butter
8 oz natural dark muscovado sugar
1 (level) tsp black treacle
4 medium eggs
10 oz plain flour
¼ tsp salt
1 (level) tsp soluble coffee powder or essence
1 & ½ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp of ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp rum
1 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp of sherry
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp baking powder
8 oz currents
8 oz sultanas
4 oz chopped mixed peel
4 oz chopped glazed cherries
8 oz raisins
4 oz flaked almonds

All good to go!

All good to go!

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The day before you make your cake, mix all the fruit together in a bowl and add 4 tbsp of brandy, 4 tbsp of rum and 4 tbsp of sherry, more if you’d prefer 😉 Mix well and keep covered with some cling film.  Keep giving it the odd shake to keep mixing it up and leave overnight.

all the dried fruit mixed together and soaked over night in 5 tbsp of brandy, 5 tbsp of rum and 5tbsp of sherry and covered in clingfilm.

all the dried fruit mixed together and soaked over night in 5 tbsp of brandy, 5 tbsp of rum and 5 tbsp of sherry and cover in cling film.

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Prepare

Grease and line a 7-8in cake tin (square or round, your choice) with grease-proof paper.

lined and greased cake tin

(that cake tin was my Mum’s and her Nan’s!!)

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, coffee powder, mixed spice and ginger into a large bowl (this is the spiced flour).

Beat the eggs in a jug and add to it; the vanilla extract, brandy, rum and almond extract.

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Cream the fat and sugar together well and add the treacle.

Add a small amount of the egg mixture to the fat, beat well.

Add a tbsp of the spiced flour to the mixture and mix well.

Add some more egg, beat well and add a 2nd tbsp of spiced flour.

Add the rest of the egg gradually and beat well between each addition.

Add the remaining spiced flour.

Lastly add the dried fruits and almonds and mix well.

ready to add the fruit

ready to add the fruit

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Pour the mixture into the pre-prepared cake tin.

After adding the mixture to the cake tin, make a dip in the center of the mixture of about an inch. this stops the cake rising too much in the middle and thus cracking and burning.

use the spatula to create the dip

use the spatula to create the dip

Bake in the middle of a (preheated) warm oven (gas 3/325F/160C) for 1 hour.

Reduce heat to very cool (gas 1/275F/140C) for the last 2 hours checking it after one hour and every 15 minutes thereafter.

To check to see if the cake is done, you will need a fine instrument to check that it is cooked in the middle, (i use a kebab skewer) by inserting it diagonally around the center of the cake. Leave it in for a second and withdraw. If the skewer is clean then it’s cooked. If there is still some cake stuck to the skewer then return it to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes. Keep doing this until the skewer is removed clean.

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Leave to cool on a wire rack in the tin until it is cold.

Cooked and Cooling

Cooked and Cooling

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When it is cold, remove from tin and remove the grease-proof paper. Re-wrap in fresh grease-proof paper.

Cake 'fed' and ready to be wrapped up

Cake ‘fed’ and ready to be wrapped up

At this point my Mum would use the skewer and make lots of insertions all over the top of the cake going almost all the way through and then ‘feed the cake’ some brandy by pouring little amounts over the surface of the cake making sure it goes down the tiny holes and rubbing any remaining brandy over the surface to make sure it all gets absorbed. She would then repeat this process for the bottom of the cake 24-hours later. You can repeat this process as many times as you like.

Always be sure to wrap the cake in grease-proof paper well followed by foil and store in a tin for a few months until you are ready to decorate. Do not wrap in foil on its own as the alcohol reacts with the alcohol.

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Fancy decorating the cake??

Christmas Cake

check out my post on decorating your cake by clicking this link

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Then sit back and relax with a slice….

slice of cake

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Don’t forget to wear your Santa Hat while you make it 🙂

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