Saturday, 31 October 2009

Halloween Cake

Lovely sponge with orange icing, decorated with a few sweeties and some plastic tat.
The eyes are bouncy balls.

And it's green inside!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The easiest biscuits in the world.

These are Delia's oat crunch biscuits.

It probably takes longer to open a packet of hobnobs than to mix these up and pop them in the oven.

And they are yummy!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Yoda jacket

I finished knitting this for Poppy last night. It's going to be one of her Christmas presents.

I have a weakness for vareigated yarn, and I really like the self patterning wool I've used for this. I've got enough left to make a matching hat too.

I got the pattern from this blog and it was really easy. I like that it is a unisex design. I think the sizing would be just right for 6-12 months. My yarn was aran weight and I used 5mm needles so that it would knit a little bigger. My daughter is a small 16 month old, it fits now and I think it will fit for a while yet.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Christmas Pudding

Soak 175g raisins, 175g currants, 175g sultanas, 50g mixed peel, 140g glace cherries, 50g whole almonds, 1 medium carrot (grated) and the zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon in 150ml of brandy and 50ml of Grand Marnier.
Leave overnight.

In a large bowl mix 175g light muscovado sugar, 175g fresh white breadcrumbs, 125g self raising flour, 1tsp mixed spice and a little nutmeg.
Add the soaked fruit, 175g grated butter and 2 beaten eggs.

Stir all together and make a wish!

This makes enough for a 1.5l pudding dish. Grease the dish, put a circle of greaseproof paper in the bottom and press the mixture down, making a dip in the middle.

I decided to make 2 smaller puddings.

Put a greaseproof circle on the top, then cover with a double layer of greasproof and a layer of foil. Tie some string around and make a string handle.

One large pudding needs to steam in a pan of water, or in the oven in a roasting tin of water for 6 hours. Don't let the water all dry up.

I cooked mine (remember mine are 0.75l each)  in my slow cooker on full power - I filled it halfway with water - for 9 hours and it has come out just perfect!!
I just want to stick a sprig of holly in it and eat it now with a big blob of hot custard!!

Once cooled the pudding will store in a cool, dry cupboard for up to a year.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Clementine marmalade

This is my first foray into preserves and it was easy peasy.

You need 2lb of clementines (or you could use a mix of clementines and tangerines) which you wash, remove the stalks, cut in half and remove any pips. Then blitz them in the food processor, not completely smooth, but until the shreds of skin are small enough to make the marmalade to your liking.

Put it all in a large saucepan with a pint and a half of water and the juice of two lemons. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.

Add 1 kg of granulated sugar, stir and bring to a rolling boil. Stir regularly, keeping at this rolling boil until it has thickened and begun to get to setting point. This took about an hour for me.

Cool a little in the pan, then stir to make sure the bits are evenly mixed through and pour into sterilised jars.

Sympathy card

My friend asked me to make her a sympathy card for a man. It was really difficult, but this is what I've ended up with. I decided to keep it simple with just some printed papers, a ribbon and a little heart shaped brad. I did the word with rubber stamp letters.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Choc dipped mini viennese fingers

More biscuit practice...


Three out of three children can't be wrong.

Christmas cards - prototypes #5, #6 and #7

Found a pack of papers I must have bought ages ago in a sale!
I quite like the one on the right, and it was pretty simple to make, just a rectangle with a die cut star and some ribbon.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Christmas cards - prototypes #3 and #4

I quite like the bright colours on this one.

I wish I'd glued fewer snowflakes on this one.
The "Let it snow" is a rubber stamp which I've coloured in a bit.

I also made two really quick birthday cards while I had all my stuff out. The furry flowers were from the kid's craft section in Wilkinson's.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Piping practice

Made a little batch of chocolate cupcakes and piped on some buttercream icing. Topped off with a little chunk of homemade fudge. I do love making things pretty!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Macadamia, chocolate and brandy Christmas cake

This is a recipe I got from Prima magazine last year. It's really delicious and not quite as heavy as traditional Christmas cake.

You will need a 9" cake tin, greased and lined with a double layer of greaseproof paper about an inch higher than the tin. Wrap the outside with newspaper.

500g raisins and sultanas
150g chopped dates (although I didn't have enough dates so I've used glace cherries and some prunes to make the quanity up!)
200ml brandy
1 tbsp black treacle

Put all of these ingredients in a large bowl, mix, and leave to soak overnight.

225g butter, softened
225g light muscovado sugar
5 eggs

Cream the butter, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
Beat the eggs in one at a time.

300g plain flour
125g ground almonds
1 heaped tsp cinnamon
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped in the food processor

Mix these ingredients in a seperate bowl.

250g macadamia nuts (although I only had 200g but it seems pretty nutty)

Add the nuts to the bowl with the fruit and brandy mixture and stir in.

Place some flour mixture and some fruit mixture into the egg mixture. Fold in carefully. repeat until the whole lot is thoroughly combined.

Pour into your cake tin and make a dip in the middle. Poke any fruit or nuts under the surface to prevent them from burning.


Bake for 2 hours at 170 degrees in a preheated oven - a skewer should come out clean.

Allow to cool a little then remove from tin to cool on a wire rack.

Once cooked and cooled prick the surface with a skewer and pour 2 tbsp brandy over the surface every 2 weeks to keep it moist. Don't overdo it or your cake will be soggy!!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The homemade version of a doner kebab...

Today was the first time I made pitta bread.

We had them for tea with mini lamb burgers...

minty yogurt dip...

...and red cabbage and carrot coleslaw.

Everything home made - I do feel pretty virtuous about that!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Chocolate and cherry oat cookies

I have decided I need to perfect my biscuit making. For some reason I've never really made cookies and things, but these were pretty easy so I'm inspired to try some more recipes.

Cream 125g unsalted butter (although I didn't have enough butter so used 75g butter and 50g margarine) with 125g caster sugar.
Add 1 egg, half tsp baking powder, 150g sifted plain flour and 125g porridge oats. Mix until evenly combined. Stir in 10g chocolate chunks and 100g choped glace cherries.
Put dessertspoonfuls of the mixture on a lined baking tray and flatten slightly. Space them out to allow for some spreading.
Bake for 12 - 15 minutes at 180 degrees. Cool on wire rack - they are soft when they come out of the oven but crisp up when cooled.

Apparently these are good for freezing, but I can't see many of them being left by the end of tomorrow!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Chocolate fudge - not for dieters.

This is my first foray into confectionery, and it is pretty good. I think I will be making up a batch for teacher's gifts closer to Christmas, and maybe for some non-weightwatching friends and relatives.

Here's the recipe. (Makes loads - about 1 1/2 lb)

In a medium, heavy based saucepan put 225g granulated sugar, 50g unsalted butter, a 397g tin of condensed milk, 1 tbsp clear honey and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves - keep stirring all the time.
Bring to the boil, and boil for 6 - 8 minutes - keep stirring all the time!
Remove pan from heat and beat in 100g grated dark chocolate until smooth and glossy.
Pour mixture into square cake tin (lined with baking parchment) and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Chop into squares. Store in an airtight container.

I've put some in an old jam jar, and it looks quite attractive. I might also try wrapping some in cellophane and tying up with ribbon.

Pickled eggs for Christmas

Now I know there is no skill is hard boiling some eggs and shoving them in a jar with some pickling vinegar, but here is my prototype pickled egg Christmas gift.

I've put them in a posh kilner jar...

added a handmade label with a picture of our chickens...
.. and tied with a ribbon.
Now, how many people do I know who like eating pickled eggs?

Monday, 5 October 2009

Christmas cards - prototypes #1 and #2

I really should have started making Christmas cards before October! 
I don't make all the cards I send, but I do need to produce about thirty. Need to get cracking really. I'm going to Crafts for Christmas at the NEC in a month's time, hopefully to return full of big plans and inspiration.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Home made bagels with Philadelphia cheese

How delicious is that?

Take some boring biscuits....

...and make them into Tiffin!

This is the only way I like to eat digestives! (Or rich tea!)

Melt 100g butter, 3 dessert spoons drinking chocolate, 1 dessert spoon caster sugar, 2 tablespoons golden syrup.
Stir in 200g bashed up boring biscuits and 100g raisins. (Actually I used 50g raisins and 50g choped prunes.)
Squash into square tin, top with melted chocolate (about 200g) and leave to set in the fridge.