My Gingerbread house

Mary Berry inspired me to make this in time for Christmas. Check out her recipe on TGBBO Christmas special.

First I had to make templates & dig out my festive cutters.


Next I made up the recipe, it’s very thick, heavy & hot so be careful.


It dries out fast so you have to work quickly to cut out all the shapes.


Mid bake I removed the front to add crushed sweets to make stained glass windows.


When all the pieces were cooled I made the royal icing so I could start drcorating & building.



I carefully added chocolate buttons to look like tiles on the roof pieces.


Building it was tricky, but it’s beautiful when complete.


Remember to add a tealight before you put the roof on to light it up in the dark.


It will be the centre piece on my buffet table over the festive period.

Brandy infused Mince pies

Let the Christmas baking commence.

I love Christmas, I usually start around November, baking lots of goodies to deep freeze. It all keeps nicely in the freezer & lasts well into Easter.

Today I’ve made 21 mince pies. There’s always a debate with my hubby about whether it should have a full pastry top or just a small star or decorative pastry topper. He loves pastry. So this year I decided on a full top AND topper. Let’s spoil him…

I bought Aldi’s speciality version mincemeat that was infused with brandy. I wasn’t satisfied though with the amount of brandy so I added more.


I made the sweet pastry following be-ro shortcrust pastry recipe, except I switched out plain flour for SR flour instead because I prefer the more cakey texture in sweet pastry. I rolled out the dough & cut 21 large discs & put them into a greased bun tin.


I spooned the mincemeat into the discs, roughly a heaped teaspoon trying hard not to add too much, it is tempting, but it’ll just spill out onto the tray otherwise.


I used a smaller disc cutter to make the tops, then sealed them with a fork around the edges. I egg washed them & gave them their festive toppers.

20181124_124847Lastly sprinkling them with caster sugar before baking on 190° fan for about 15-17 minutes.


I enjoyed one whilst they were still warm with a cup of coffee.




Cheesy garlic sourdough bread

Been quite ill recently so not been baking much.

Today my hubby has gone out & will be going for an Indian meal later. I can’t bear the smell of garlic on him so thought if I eat it myself then I won’t be able to smell it on him.

Using Fred (my sourdough starter), 20181003_073416I weighed out 1.5 cups, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp olive oil & added enough plain flour to make a dough (around 1.5 cups).

Mixing these all together then kneading for a short while was all it needed before setting aside to double in size.

I then knocked it back & shaped it to fit my tray. I sprayed with oil spray & baked for 7 minutes on 240°. It just needs a short blast in the heat before adding the topping.

After I removed it, I added garlic in melted butter & grated mozzarella & cheddar.


I returned to a very hot oven for 7 more minutes until crispy.


Yummy & satisfying.

We had it alongside jacket potato & salad.

This is Fred!

Fred is my new yeast pet.


I figured that since I make bread so much, I’d grow my own yeast. It’s really easy, you just have to feed it weekly & keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

You feed the live yeast by stirring in flour & water & open the jar regularly so it can refresh it’s oxygen.

It takes a few days to get started, but once you’re on your way you can keep it alive forever by using it & feeding it regularly.


Fred is ready now after being fed for over a week so I shall use him today to make teacakes & a loaf of bread…

Watch this space

Loaf day

I love bread. Today felt like a bread day. The weather was naff & I felt like baking.

I always use one of Paul Hollywood’s recipes, which today was his bloomer recipe.

I mixed the ingredients & kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes, then left it to prove for 90 minutes.


After that I knocked it back, shaped it into a long rectangle & left it to prove again for another 90 minutes. Then warmed up the oven.


I chucked some cold water into a dish in the bottom of the oven because the steam creates a lovely crust & baked the bloomer for 25 minutes on 210° fan oven then turned it down to 190° fan.


It had a beautiful crust, nice flavour & the texture inside was proved & cooked perfectly.


Birthday fun

So busy this week. This last weekend disappeared in the blink of an eye. My sister & I pulled together a little family birthday celebration for our mum.

I didn’t take any progress photos of my bakes,  but I did capture the finished results.

I made her a 6 layer lemon cake. It had homemade lemon curd & buttercream inside the layers. It was delicious.


Whilst whipping up a cake, I also made some pretty vanilla cupcakes decorated with swirled buttercream & wafer flowers.


I halved the buttercream & dyed half pink just for a contrast in colour.


It was a nice celebration & family get together with food, drink, games & cake!!



Brandy raisin Chelsea buns

I couldn’t resist making these much longer. I’ve been craving Chelsea buns for weeks.

Using Paul Hollywood’s recipe, I set the dough off mixing in my Kenwood mixer, meanwhile… I set my raisins off soaking nicely in Brandy. Yum


Once the dough was mixed thoroughly, I took it out & kneaded it for 5 minutes before setting it to prove for an hour.


It doubled in size, so I rolled it out & coated it in melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon & my lovely brandy soaked raisins that I had drained & dried off with paper towel.


I rolled it up, cut it into 10 pieces & laid them down so they would touch again once proved.

They looked perfect as they went into the oven 30 minutes later.


I baked them for 20 minutes, then glazed them with warmed apricot jam & left them to cool. Once cool I decorated them with icing.

They’re so scummy & the brandy made the raisins plump & juicy. They didn’t dry out in the oven.


Annoying & messy Viennese whirls

My son wanted to make these. I managed to get the piping bag off him long enough to make a few pretty ones, but the rest are for our eyes only. He did enjoy piping them though.

Mary Berry”s recipe said beat it to death, so we did. It was so light & airy.


We piped 24 discs all shapes & sizes. No uniformity today though.


That was the fun bit over. I put them in the fridge to chill in the hope they would hold their shape in the oven instead of spreading. It kind of helped, but when taking them out of the oven they were far too crumbly. The biscuits were too short. I believe using proper butter will have worked better than stork.

After they cooled, I whipped up some butter cream & put it into a piping bag along with jam in another.


What a faff! So messy & not what I like doing. My lad enjoyed making them though.


They’re delicious, just very delicate.


Bread triumph

Paul Hollywood Cottage loaf.

This was featured in the technical challenge during bread week episode 3 on last year’s GBBO. I’ve only ever made a normal loaf which we all love. This has lard in it instead of butter & is 2 tiers. I am showing you my very first attempt at this regardless of how it turns out.

I mix the ingredients together in my mixer rather than by hand to try & reduce the time I have to knead it as it’s not easy for me. I added 3/4 of the water & set it off.


I added some more water as it mixed, but I didn’t use it all. I left it to mix for 5 minutes then turned it out & kneaded for another 5 & then put it to one side for an hour to prove.


After an hour…


I took it out & shaped it guided by the recipe & left it to prove for the second time.


After the second prove, I baked it with a water bath in the bottom of the oven.

It came out beautiful & crisp.


It was a lovely flavour & nice & soft. I think I prefer a regular white loaf with butter rather than lard.

We had it for dinner this evening with chicken soup.