Pastry, Sweet

Crumbly sweet shortcrust pastry – my mom’s recipe.

I think I have said before but my mom is the person who makes the best pastry in the world so when I helped my dad out with some Christmas baking, I was pleased to see my mom had left the recipe for sweet shortcrust pastry.

I looked online this morning for a good recipe but I couldn’t settle on one that I felt was right.  Pastry is one of them things that either works really well and is lovely and crumbly, or it tastes of rubber.

My mom’s recipe isn’t suitable for everyone as it contains lard, but I think this is what makes it taste so good.  I remember my mom being really worried a couple of years ago that there was going to be a lard shortage near Christmas so she panicked and we ended up having loads in the fridge.  I think it took her ages to get through it all and the great lard shortage didn’t seem to happen on such a grand scale as my mom worried about, probably because she is one of only a few people who actually buys it!

Anyway, with the pastry I made both mince pies and apple pies.  The apple pies are for my little sister (little being 25 years old) who doesn’t like mincemeat.  I used a mincemeat jar I have been saving for a while, it has dark chocolate in.  My dad, being “the official mince pie straight out of the oven tester”, said he couldn’t taste any different to normal – maybe it wasn’t really worth saving.

My mom’s crumbly sweet shortcrust pastry

8oz plain flourMince and Apple Pies
8oz Self raising flour
6oz Margarine
2oz Lard
3tbsp Sugar
1 medium egg beaten
1tbsp Milk
1-2tbsp Water (if needed)

In a bowl put the flour, margarine, sugar and lard and mix until looks like bread crumbs.
Beat the egg and milk together in a separate bowl and combine to the other mix. It should start to hold together as a dough, if a little dry add a couple of tbsp of water.

To use, try not to ‘play’ with it too much, by rolling it out over and over again, as this adds extra flour and can make it a little tough but it is a pretty durable pastry so great for kids to use.

*I use mom instead of mum as I am from a place near to the Black Country which tends to have a little bit of the accent in there without having a complete ‘Yam Yam’ accent.

**Not sure what a Yam Yam is… Understanding Yam Yam

Food Ramblings

Inspiration needed for a baker with no artistic talent, who needs to decorate a Christmas cake.

After finally making my Christmas cake and feeding it with a lot of alcohol in a short period of time, I’m now stuck with the dilemma of how to decorate it.

Last year was quite easy as I had been to a cake decorating course and we made our decoration ready to put on; unfortunately, this year I’m on my own.

I have basic skills with regard to my artistic talents.
You know those people who say they aren’t very good at drawing but are actually fantastic? Yep?  … well, I’m not one of them.
I’m in the realm of making snowmen, penguins and anything else that a 5 year old can design.

I do have a skill of being able to ice a cake extremely quickly and quite well (I was the fastest in our class!) but I’m not sure what to put on it.

I have gel colours, glitter, shapes, cutters, modelling tools, and my new addition of silver spray… all I need are some ideas.


Muffin, Sweet

Cherry and white chocolate muffins

A few days ago me and my husband were shopping in TK Maxx and they often have quite a few bits of really good baking stuff there. This time they had these muffin cases with little snowmen on them. I do have a love of cupcake and muffin cases and the prettier the better – so I had to buy them.

Since I bought them home I had an idea that I wanted to make white chocolate muffins and as I had left over cherries from my Christmas cake I thought these would go nice in them.

I don’t often need an excuse to bake but as me and my husband were going out with my sister and brother-in-law, my brother in laws mom very kindly offered to babysit the smallest little baker. I decided this would be a good occasion to bake some of these muffins as I could make them as a present to say thank you.

If you make this recipe you have to remember that muffins aren’t like cupcakes where they are very light, these make quite a dense cake which is perfect with a nice hot cuppa tea or coffee.

Cherry and white chocolate muffins

This recipe makes 6 gigantic, 8 big, 10 good size or 12 small muffins – I actually made 15 this time!

300g (10.5oz) plain flourWhite Chocolate Cherry muffins
75g (3oz) caster sugar
4 tsp baking powder
2 medium size eggs
225ml (8fl.oz) milk
110g (4oz) butter or margarine
1 tsp Vanilla Extract 75g
100g white cooking chocolate
3/4 pot of Glace Cherries

Preheat oven to 200C, Gas Mark 6

In a bowl put all of your dry ingredients, these are flour, sugar and baking powder. Mix your butter/margarine into the dry ingredients till all of the butter is blended in.

In a separate bowl measure your milk and vanilla then beat into the milk the two eggs.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir till they just come together to make a sticky mix then stir in the chopped chocolate and cherries.  Remember at this stage not to overwork the mix.

Separate your mix into however many muffins cases you like, making sure you fill them about 2/3rds of the way up the cases.

Bake in the oven till a skewer comes out clean. The time needed to cook them will depend on the size, use this as a guide and always bake for 20 minutes before opening the oven door: Small (12) – 20 – 25 Minutes Good size (10) – 25 – 30 Minutes Big (8) 35-40 Minutes Gigantic (6) 40 – 45 Minutes

Let them cool on a wire rack, the bottoms will feel a little soft when hot but they will set when cooled.

I dusted these with icing sugar afterwards… walking in a winter wonderland.

Cupcake, Sweet

Winter cupcakes

After yesterdays disastrous baking attempt which was going to be my Christmas cake, I wanted to bake something – anything!  I wanted to feel that I can still bake so I decided on cupcakes, simple, easy and you can’t go wrong.

I wanted to make a nice winter warming cupcake so I chose the ingredients which make me feel warm and snuggly – rum favouring, cinnamon and nutmeg.
I use rum flavour as I don’t actually like the taste of rum the drink.  I’ve tried both dark and white rum and neither of them taste how the rum in rum truffles does. I was very disappointed when I realised.

Although these flavours also remind me of Christmas, they can’t be Christmas cupcakes yet because I haven’t put my tree up!
The countdown is on till it goes up though – 4 days to go.

As I write this I’m eating one of the cupcakes and I deem it to be a light, fluffy, baking success. Hurray!

Winter cupcakes

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes (uk use fairy cake wrappers for correct size)

4oz Sugar
4oz Margarine
5.5oz Self Raising Flour
2 large eggs
75oz Dried Mixed Fruit
1tsp Cinnamon
1/2tsp Nutmeg
1tsp rum flavour

Pre-heat the oven to 160c Gas Mark 4

In a bowl cream together the margarine and sugar till light and fluffy then add the rum flavour.
Mix together the flour with the cinnamon and nutmeg.
Add 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of flour into the creamed mix and stir till just combined.
Do the same with the 2nd egg with 1 tablespoon of flour then add the leftover flour and stir till smooth.
Mix in the fruit.
Separate the mix into 12 pretty cases and bake in the oven for at least 20 mins.

When they have cooled then decorate however you like. I used fondant icing, blue glitter and some snowflake sugar shapes.

Food Ramblings

Lost down the rabbit hole…

I am sorry that I have been away for the last month with no post updates but I do have a very good excuse – I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Alice.

As you can imagine, sleep more than baking has been important and I dont really know where the time has gone!  It has also been quite an exciting time for me and my husband and hopefully when things settle down a bit more then I can bake away again.

I am already looking forward to the time when our new happy little baker will be able to join me in the kitchen, then maybe I can also work on a cookbook for children.

In the mean time, please bear with me and I will try to update as much as I can with any new baking I get chance to do – especially with Christmas coming up I will want to get some baking done as it is my favourite time of the year, family, presents and the best food…whats not to love?