Cupcake, Sweet

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Most people don’t like the same things, like Marmite or marzipan they divide opinions; but there is one flavour you always seem to be able to rely on as a crowd pleaser and that is chocolate orange.

Just the smell of it makes me think of Christmas and for me its a happy memory. I love to buy a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and then eat it in bed on a Saturday morning over Christmas, the best bit is the middle stick after you’ve eaten the segments. Mmm.

Anyway, I digress.

I wanted to make some cakes for my cousin and thought instead of the standard vanilla I would make chocolate orange ones.
Its a really easy recipe to do but looks and tastes really good.
I decided to use some Nutella in the buttercream icing to make it more chocolatey and it worked very well.


Chocolate Orange Cupcakesimage

4oz Margarine
4oz Caster Sugar
4oz Self Raising Flour
1oz Cocoa Powder
2 Eggs
1tsp Orange Essence
Handful chocolate chips

For the icing – a very large tablespoon of margarine mixed with 3-4 tablespoons of icing sugar and 1 level tablespoon of cocoa powder. Once this has been mixed together till it is very light add a tablespoon of Nutella and a teaspoon of orange essence.

Pre heat the oven to 180c Gas 4

In a large mixing bowl, beat the margarine and sugar together till it becomes pale.

In a separate bowl combine the flour and cocoa powder.

Add one egg and a third of the flour and cocoa powder then mix in till just combined.
Do the same with the 2nd egg and flour and cocoa powder.

Stir in the remaining flour along with the orange essence and chocolate chips. You want the consistency to be a little thick but easy to stir. If it looks a little dry add a small drop of milk.

Separate into cake cases and bake in the oven for at least 20 minutes, or until you can press the top of the cakes and they spring back up.

Once cool, top with the chocolate buttercream and decorate how you like. I used gold glitter and a jelly orange slice.

Cake, Sweet

Quick apple fruit cake – my birthday cake

In our family, I am the person who always bakes birthday cakes for everyone and it is a job I love to do but this also means that I bake my own birthday cake.

Now don’t feel sad for me, I get what I want, and I’ve also been bought a fair few (I had a great hello kitty one a couple of years ago) but nothing quite beats a home made cake so I choose what I fancy and make it.

image
Happy birthday to me…

This year I a wanted a fruit cake with marzipan and icing so I used this recipe Easy Apple Fruit Cake as my base and then decorated with ivory icing. I used Ivory for no other reason than I found it in a shop for £1 for a 1000g, no special design purposes.
Then, because I was decorating my cake at night again I thought “this would look quite good with stars painted on it”. (!) Seemed like a quick and easy thing to do at the time. 21 hand painted stars later and a border, I also hand painted with hundreds of little dots, I was done. I am fairly pleased with it though it could have been a lot neater but I will blame my boredom by the end. I will definitely use this method again.

Although my birthday isn’t till tomorrow, I’ve started eating the cake already… My birthday cake, my rules! Hehe.

PS, I never write happy birthday on it, that would be weird.

Biscuit, Sweet

Half an hour to make Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

I have finally caught one of the million Spring/Summer colds going around and although I feel a tiny bit sorry for myself, I have done pretty well in being able to avoid having one for a while.
So today after getting the little-ist Baker down for her afternoon nap I wanted to do a bit of baking but nothing that took any brain power, or arm power as neither really felt up for the challenge.

A lot of people like peanut butter, including the little-ist baker so I have very recently bought it for the first time.

As it is an ingredient I don’t usually own or eat I have never really thought about using it to bake with but I wanted to make some biscuits and thought that peanut butter cookies might be an easy recipe to make. I have never even looked at a recipe for them before but I have heard about them on American shows mainly and thought that if that many people talk about them then they cant be that difficult to make; and luckily I was right.

This recipe from the brilliant chef Paul Rankin is both easy, quick and hardly uses any ingredients at all. Luckily it doesn’t make too many either as these are one cookie I won’t be touching.


Paul Rankin’s Peanut Butter Cookies

I used smooth peanut butter as I don’t have crunchy in and the batter for the mix seemed to come out very well. I am thinking about trying these again but substituting one spoon of flour for cocoa powder and the peanut butter for Nutella.

Quiche/Flan, Sweet

Home made Anise (aniseed) extract

A few months ago I was reading through my Italian cookie cookbook and found there were quite a few recipes which use aniseed extract.

Great, my husband loves aniseed and liquorice flavoured things so I thought it would be a lovely treat for him to make him something with these flavours and I began to look about in shops for aniseed or anise extract to use.  Unfortunately, it seemed to be a very elusive product to buy in a store, so much so that the only way I was going to get it was to buy online or make my own.  Usually I’m a big fan of online shopping as you can always get what you need at a cheap price, but this time I found I was having difficulty. There were two problems: there weren’t many shops selling and the shops that did sell it only sold in bulk orders.  I was left with only one viable option and that was to make it myself.  Luckily I had bought some star anise a while ago from Stratford upon Avon which I always thought would come in handy (but I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with it).  Making it was very simple just add star anise and vodka and ta-dah, you’re own extract after waiting just 3 months.  What?! 3 MONTHS! I’m not exactly the most patient person but I had no choice so in July I bottled it up and waited…until October.  If you’ve been following my life you’ll realise that October was a pretty eventful month as my baby decided it was time to make her appearance into the world.  Unsurprisingly, I never got round to using my extract until now, 6 months after I started it.

I decided to make some Italian anise cookies with it for my husband and I’m really pleased with it. I’m glad after all that time it was worth the wait.


Anise/Aniseed extract Half fill a small air tight jar with Star Anise then pour enough good quality vodka to cover them completely.  Put the lid on and leave for at least 3 months.  Every week (ish) give the jar a gentle shake but do not open till its ready. Its useful to write the date on you started it so you don’t forget.


Anise and Almond CookiesItalian Anise and Almond cookies I used this fab recipe to make the cookies –   Anise and Almond Cookies  They are very authentic Italian in their taste and look very home made when finished, but I think that’s what gives them charm.  I made the cookies without the flavour, then split the batch into two and added the aniseed extract to half and flavoured the other half with Almond. The pink ones are Anise and the purple ones with glitter are Almond.

Biscuit, Sweet

A gingerbread house alternative – 3 generations bake

Last year my parents bought me a gingerbread house mould as a present but unfortunately it was too near to Christmas for me to have the time to make one so this year my dad phoned me up and asked if I wanted to come round with the littlest happy baker and we’d bake the gingerbread house together.

My dad said he doesn’t like gingerbread, and i’m not particularly keen so we decided to make a gingerbread house out of non-gingerbread!  As my husband calls it a …house.

My dad suggested we try using shortbread but I thought this might be brittle so I decided we would just use a gingerbread recipe and instead of the ginger we would substitute it for cinnamon and I would make the roof out of shortbread to see if it is ok to use.  I am glad that in the end we went for a majority gingerbread mix because the shortbread was very heavy and brittle, like I thought.

My dad did get a little bored at one point and took the littlest baker out for a drive whilst I finished off baking the roof.

I left the decorating and building of the house to my dad, who was armed with white chocolate buttons and a bag of Harribo.  I think in my dads head he was going to make a really cool looking house with puffing smoke and windows – just like he had seen on the fabulous baker brothers christmas special program – what he actually made was this:

Alternative Gingerbread House

Well, the decorating is a little wonky but we had a good laugh making it and the good news is that today when we eat it, it should taste lovely.

We will definitely have to try again next year as it was lots of fun to do and not too difficult to make and the littlest baker likes the look of it (she’s wearing her Italy football shirt)

Alice admiring house


Alternative Gingerbread House

I used Rachel Allens’ recipe which can be found here for the walls – Gingerbread House and substituted the ground ginger for two tsp cinnamon and 1tsp Nutmeg

I used my 3,2,1 shortbread recipe for the roof