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

Cupcake, Sweet

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

I was in the kitchen the other morning with the littlest baker and as she fell asleep in her bouncy chair, I thought I’d make some cupcakes.

I decided to do chocolate as I hadn’t made chocolate ones in a really long time and I’ve been a bit of a chocoholic these last few weeks (years!).  I also had a couple of bars of dark chocolate stashed in my baking cupboard so half a bar would make my chocolate chips.

When it came to icing them I thought I’d use a splash of my Moka Varnelli as its just lovely.  It goes well with any kind of cake and dark chocolate cupcakes are no exception.

I made these cupcakes in muffin cases so they are extra large and I only got 9 out of the mix but if you used normal cupcake size then you’d get at least 12 out.

Dark chocolate cupcakes

4oz SugarDark chocolate cupcakes
4oz Margarine
5oz Self Raising Flour
1 large tbsp Cocoa Powder
2 Large Eggs
75g Dark Chocolate

Tbsp Margarine
5tbsp icing sugar
1tbsp cocoa powder
Dash of Moka Varnelli (or any other flavour you fancy)

Preheat the oven to Gas 4 160c

Cream together the sugar and Margarine till it has changed to a pale white colour.

Add an egg and a tablespoon of flour, mix together then do the same with the other egg and flour. This helps the mix not to look like its splitting.

Separate into the cake cases and bake in the oven for at least 20 minutes or until the cake springs back when you gently press on it.

Once cooled whip up the buttercream ingredients together till the mixture is light and fluffy then use to top the cakes.

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.

Biscuit, Sweet

Wholemeal sandwiched biscuits

At the moment when I have time to do some baking I want to make sure my recipe is quick and easy and something that I know will work.  I would be really sad if I spent the time trying a new recipe out only for it not to work! 

This recipe isn’t one I have ever done before but it used the basic principles of 3,2,1 shortbread biscuits but with a little bit of a twist.  I looked in the cupboard to see what I had thought I would try making wholemeal biscuits instead and since I had some chocolate icing I wanted to use up, I had an idea how I might put these together. 

You could do any shape you wanted but as I wanted small cookies I only had this shape cutter.

Wholemeal sandwiched biscuits

6oz strong wholemeal flour
1oz light brown sugar
1oz caster sugar
4oz margarine
Chocolate icing (for decoration)
Chocolate spread (for filling)

Pre-heat the oven to 160c Gas Mark 4

In a bowl cream together the margarine and sugar then stir in the flour.
When the mix begins to look like breadcrumbs, turn it out onto the side and use your hands to press it together into a dough.
Try not to mix it too much at this stage – you just need it to come together.
On a floured surface, roll the dough out to about £1 coin thickness (just over a cm)
Cut out an equal number of your shapes. I managed 24 using my cutter, enough for 12 biscuits.
Line them on greaseproof paper and bake in the oven till the edges brown slighty. This may take between 10-15 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the shapes.
Let them cool on a wire rack and using the same cutter, cut enough shapes needed out of the chocolate icing. Put the chocolate icing onto half of the cookies whilst they are still hot – this causes the icing to stick to the biscuits without having to ‘glue’ them with jam.

Once they have cooled you can begin assembly.
Take two cookies, 1 with icing and 1 without and sandwich them together with chocolate spread in the middle.

Easy peasy.

Sweet, Traybake

Black Treacle Flapjack

My husband has a completely different taste in puddings and sweet food to me, so when he asked for me to make him some black treacle flapjack I was both interested and a little bit disgusted.

To me black treacle is one of them things I keep in the kitchen cupboard for the sole purpose of making my christmas cake; it has always had that unappealing black, sticky look which really doesnt scream “eat me”.  For him, he says that black treacle tastes nice.   As flapjack is also one of his other favourite snacks it must have seemed a good idea to combine them.

So I went ahead and read a little bit more into black treacle flapjack and found out that it was originally created in the 1920’s by the women’s instititute, so is something of a classic recipe.

My recipe I created may not be 100% classic but is easy to make, requires little ingredients and gives you a nice chewy flapjack.  I have to say that the flapjacks obviously do taste very strong of bitter black treacle, which gives it strange almost liquorice taste so isn’t recommended for someone with a sweet tooth.  If you are like me and prefer your flapjack very sweet then substitute the treacle for golden syrup and it will still work perfectly.

Black Treacle Flapjack

250g cheap porridge oats
100g butter
40g light brown sugar
40g dark brown sugar
2 tbsp black treacle

Pre-heat the oven to 160c

1. In a large pan melt the butter, sugar and black treacle together.
2. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the porridge oats until all of the mixture has coated them.
5. Spread onto a small/medium baking try with sides and pat down until nice and squashed in. I think my flapjack were about 2″ thick.
6. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven, and score with a palate knife. I cut mine into 8 generous peices.
8. Leave till completely cool before attempting to get it out of the tray.