Wednesday, 24 December 2014

My Mince Pies

I think everyone has their own little recipe for mince pies. Or if you're my sister and don't like mincemeat- jam pies. Get creative with the tops- I personally like a top that doesn't completely hide the filling such as a little star or a cut-out design. Go crazy, it is Christmas after all ;).


9 oz/ 225g plain flour
5 oz/ 125g butter (diced)
2 oz/ 50g icing sugar
1 egg (beaten)
Zest of an orange
Jar of mincemeat/jam (for people who don’t like mince pies)
1 egg yolk mixed with a tablespoon of cold water (for the egg wash)

1) Grease a 12 hole bun tin and set aside.

2) Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl and add the butter. Rub the butter and flour together to a breadcrumb consistency. Sieve and stir through the icing sugar, following with the orange zest. Make a well in the centre and add the beaten egg. Use a fork to begin incorporating the dough into the egg and then once it becomes too stiff to stir use your hands to form a smooth ball of dough. Wrap in cling-film and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. Now preheat your oven to 180°C/ Gas 5.

3) Halve the dough. Roll one half out to the thickness of a £1 coin and cut out 12 circular bases and put them in the tin. Roll out the other half of the dough and cut out 12 tops (you can get creative here- stars, circles..whatever you prefer)

4) Drop 1-2 teaspoons of mincemeat or jam into the bases and follow with the tops. Brush with the egg wash and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Dust liberally with icing sugar.

Mini Yule Logs

I love a yule log at Christmas. The problem however is that by the time me and my family are done with the all the other rich Christmas food (ie Christmas dinner, pudding, trifle, cheese and crackers, chocolate...) we never get round to eating this little beauty of a swiss roll. So I had a brain wave: make them mini! Let's face it, everything else at Christmas comes in excessive portions so if you have just a small slither of this yule log you don't feel like you're over-indulging. If you eat the whole of one of these logs though...that's not quite the case ;).

Ingredients (Makes 2)

2 oz/50g caster sugar
2 eggs
2 oz/50g plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Filling and icing:
10 oz/250g icing sugar
5 oz/125g soft unsalted butter (diced)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
*caster sugar for assmembly

1) Preheat oven to 180°C/ Gas 5 and grease and line a swiss roll tin.
2) Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Whisk the eggs and sugar over the heat with an electric hand-mixer until thick in consistency and doubled in volume. Take off the heat.

3) Sieve in the flour and cocoa powder and fold through the egg and sugar mixture with a metal spoon.

4) Pour the batter into the swiss roll tin. Rotate the tin to encourage the batter to spread into the corners. Bake for 10 minutes or until springy to the touch. Cut a square of greaseproof paper, set on the work surface and sprinkle with caster sugar.

5) As soon as the sponge comes out the oven roll it! Flip the sponge onto the greaseproof on the work surface, peel the paper off the sponge and starting with the long edge closest to you, roll the sponge and the greaseproof up into a tight spiral. Leave to cool.

6) Make the buttercream: Put the butter in a mixing bowl and wiz with an electric hand-mixer to soften. Gradually sieve in the icing sugar a few tablespoons at a time and whisk with a dash of milk after each addition. Take a third of the butter cream and place in another bowl, add the vanilla extract with a dash more icing sugar and mix to combine. Sieve the cocoa powder into the rest of the buttercream and whisk until incorporated.

7) Once cooled, unroll the swiss roll and spread with the vanilla butter cream. Roll back up.

8) Cut the swiss roll in half at an angle. Cut another smaller piece off the end of each piece to be the stumps of the branches. With a bit of icing adhere each stump to the logs at an angle.

9) Cover the logs with the chocolate buttercream and use a fork to make small peaks in the icing, mimicking the bark of a log. Allow the icing to set a little before dusting with icing sugar ‘snow’ and a sprig of holly if you're feeling reaaallllly festive :).
Merry Christmas!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Strawberry ‘Jaffa Cakes’

I baked these ageeeesss ago but I never got round to posting the recipe. I came across a few recipes for jaffa cakes such as this one from the BBC. It seems it's quite the thing now to try to recreate our favourite shop-bought cakes and biscuits, so I thought I'd give it a go. Partly because I wanted to try something different and also because I had no orange jelly in the house, I decided to change the orange flavour for strawberry instead. Chocolate and strawberry is always a good combination, and it doesn't fail in this situation either :).

2oz/ 50g caster sugar
2oz/50g plain flour
2 eggs
½ pack strawberry pre-packaged jelly cubes
4oz/100g dark chocolate

1) Preheat oven to 180°C/350F/ Gas 4. Cut out 12 little circles of grease-proof paper and use to line a 12 hole muffin tin.

2) Set a heat-proof bowl over a pan of just simmering water, ensuring the bowl does not touch the surface of the water. Whisk the eggs and caster sugar together until the mixture has thickened and doubled in volume (it is much easier to use an electric hand-whisk for this).

3) Take the bowl off the heat. Sieve and fold one tablespoon of flour into the batter at a time, being careful not to knock the air out too much.

4) Put one tablespoon of the batter into each muffin hole and bake for about 8-10 minutes, until golden brown and springy to the touch. Take out of the muffin tin and allow to cool.

5) Make up the jelly, reducing the amount of water required to make half the amount of jelly that a full packet would make. Line a baking tray with cling film and pour in the jelly until it reaches a depth of about 1cm. Allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge to set.

6) Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool. Use a cookie cutter smaller than the circumference of the sponges to cut circles of jelly. Place one circle of jelly onto each sponge and place on a wire rack. Spoon each cake with the chocolate, smooth to neaten up a bit and allow the chocolate to drip off the cakes (it’s a good idea to place a sheet of tin foil or cling film under the wire rack before you do this!) Allow to set and devour when necessary.