Almond Crumble Mincemeat Traybake

If you are looking for a variation to your usual mincepies these bars are simple to make and taste delicious!

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Mincemeat Crumble Traybake

 Pastry

  • 1 egg
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 250 plain flour
  • 125g salted butter in small cubes
  • (or a packet of ready made sweet crust pastry you need around 275g)

 

Filling

  • 1 x 411g jar ready made mincemeat (or home made if you are so inclined!)
  • 1 dstp Grand Marnier/Cointreau /brandy
  • zest of one clementine

Crumble

  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 50g salted butter cubed
  • 50g almond flakes

Method

Butter and line with non stick baking parchment a 29x19cm shallow baking tray.  a quick and easy way to line your tin – Firstly butter generously this will help the baking parchment to stick and make lifting out much easier. Cut the paper so its large enough to sit in the tray and pop over the edges – again lifting out at the end will be easier. Squsih the paper into the tray, then where the corners are snip down to the base of the tray, tuck the snipped edged behind each other and hey presto!

To make the pastry put all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until it starts to come together as a dough.

Tip out and briefly knead into a ball, then pop in the fridge for half an hour in a plastic bag. Don’t skip this step it will help when you roll the pastry later.

After the half hour resting roll out half the dough on a generously floured worktop.

Keep turning the pastry to make sure it isn’t sticking and this will help keep the dough even and in a rectangle shape. Roll until it is a little bigger than your tray all round. To transfer into the tray fold each end into the middle then lift into the centre of the tray, unfold and gently press into the corners.

Don’t worry if it breaks or isn’t quite big enough, this pastry is super forgiving and you can squish it back together or use a spare bit from one end to patch up any holes!

Back into the fridge for 20mins, this will help stop the pastry shrinking too much.

Preheat the oven to 200C with a baking sheet on the oven shelf.

Make the mincemeat filling by mixing in the liqueur and the clementine zest, put on one side.

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To make the crumble topping put all the ingredients, except the almond flakes, in a large bowl and rub between your finger tips to incorporate all the ingredients together. Keep going until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and there are no lumps of butter. Stir in the flaked almonds.

If you want to make this without the nuts use 150g flour and 75g each of butter and sugar, then rub in.

Once the pastry has rested for 20mins bring out if the fridge and trim the edges of the pastry to neaten it but leave a little over hang on the edges of the tray.

Cover the bottom of the pastry with an even layer of mincemeat. Cover with the crumble mixture.

Turn the oven down to 180C and bake on the baking sheet for 30 mins or until golden brown and bubbling nicely.

Allow to cool completely and remove from the tray, cut into squares

Merry Christmas

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Millionaires Flapjacks

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A quick recipe only post for you ! I made these yummy millionaires flapjacks last night for a fireworks party with our neighbours and a twitter pals have asked for the recipe so here it is!

Millionaires Flapjacks

Ingredients

Flapjack layer

  • 190g butter
  • 190g soft brown sugar
  • 70g golden syrup
  • 375g rolled oats

Caramel layer

  • 1 tin of condensed milk
  • 115g soft brown sugar
  • 75g golden syrup
  • 175g butter
  • 1tsp sea salt flakes

Chocolate layer

  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 75g white chocolate
  • 20g butter
  • sprinkles of choice

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Grease and line a 29x19cm tin wth non stick parchment paper.

Melt the butter, syrup and brown sugar from the flapjack ingredients together in a large saucepan. When all melted stir in the oats and cover with the melted mixture. Turn into the lined tin and press down firmly and evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.

Whilst the flapjacks are baking make the caramel.

Melt all the ingredients (except the salt) together in a large pan over a medium heat, keep stirring continuously until thickens, and becomes a lovely deep caramel colour this takes 5-10mins. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt. Allow to cool.

When the flapjacks are cool spread the caramel evenly over the top. Allow to set in the fridge.

Next melt the chocolates and butter together in a microwave proof bowl by microwaving on half power for 1 minute, remove and stir then return for another minute on half power. Repeat if required for 30 second bursts. Stir well and spread evenly over the cooled caramel. Tap the tin on the work top to ‘settle’ the chocolate. Cover with sprinkles of your choice.  ( I used some autumn mix ones from this months Cake Bag subscription)Allow to set solid in the fridge, cut into squares to serve.

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Free From Cake

Usually when I’m asked to make a ‘free from’ cake it means no gluten, maybe no dairy or perhaps no eggs all of which are do-able and there are lots of recipes online to use. However for this cake I was asked to make it, processed sugars free, dairy free, low in saturated fats and ideally with no white flour. Not an easy task lots of recipes offered one or two of these options but I couldn’t find one that did all of the above. Luckily I could use eggs and was allowed either almonds or pistachios so I decided to try to combine a few ideas and come up with my own recipe. My first try was lovely on first eat but didn’t last and needed to be a bit sweeter. However a few tweaks later and I managed to find a recipe that would hold as a big cake and work in mini form too.

So here it is, my Olive oil and Almond chocolate cake!

Olive oil and Almond chocolate cake 

Ingredients

150g spelt flour

50g ground almonds

25g cacao powder

1 1/2tsp baking powder

pinch salt

175ml olive oil

3 eggs

200g date syrup

Filling/topping

1-2 ripe avocados

50ml maple syrup

50g cacao powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Method

Grease and line two 6 inch tins with olive oil and greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 150C.

Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk together to combine and get rid of any lumps.

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Put the eggs and date syrup together into a stand mixer and whisk until pale and thickened. this can take a good 10 minutes!

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Gradually add the oil in a continuos stream whilst whisking until combined.

Fold on the dry ingredients until all combined.

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Share the mixture between the two tins, bake for 25 mins or until a cocktail stick comes out clean.

Turn out onto a cooling try and allow to become room temperature.

To make the filling, mash the avocado add the syrup, vanilla and cacao powder mix in well, blend with a stick blender to make completely smooth, add more syrup and cacao powder if needed.

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Fill and top the cake with the ‘frosting’, I decorated my cake with dried flowers.

I managed to scale this recipe up for a celebration cake and some mini cupcakes too.

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Afternoon Tea

We all love the luxury of going out for afternoon tea don’t we? But you can just as easily create afternoon tea yourself at home. BBC Good Food magazine recently asked me for my top shopping tips that will help you make afternoon tea at home to celebrate Afternoon Tea week (14-20 August).

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This is my version of afternoon tea together with links to easy recipes, we enjoyed ours to celebrate my eldest daughters birthday recently.

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So what did we have? Firstly I steered clear of the standard sandwich offerings, the closest I got were salmon and cream cheese pin wheels made using large flour tortillas spread with cream cheese layered up with smoked salmon then rolled tightly. I popped them in the fridge for half an hour to set firm before slicing into ‘wheels’. Perfect bite size and lighter than a traditional sandwich.

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My family love a sausage roll and these ones using caramelised onion sausages and ready made puff pastry were done in no time, remember to roll the pastry thinly, cut with a sharp knife and glaze with egg before baking.

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Next on the savoury front were some goats cheese and sticky onion squares. Again using shop bought puff pastry, some simple caramelised red onion and soft goats cheese. I based my recipe on this BBC Good Food one, just making one whole tart (half a packet of puff pastry) which I cut into squares.

The focaccia is my own basic focaccia recipe, topped with black olives, sunblush tomatoes and crumbled feta just before it goes in the oven.

Focaccia

Ingredients
300g Strong bread flour
5 g salt
7g sachet fast action yeast
1tbsp olive oil , plus extra for kneading
240ml tepid water

To finish
Black Olives, sunblush tomatoes, feta

Method
Weigh the strong flour into a large bowl, on one side place the yeast on the other place the salt. Don’t mix until you have everything else ready.
Stir in the tepid water. You can tell if the water is the right temperature as you will not be able to feel it being either warmer or cooler than your finger!
Add the 1 tbsp of olive oil and stir in well. You should have have a very sticky dough, add a little more water if it isn’t sticking to your hands!
Drizzle some oil onto your work bench and your hands then using a dough scraper empty the dough onto the worktop.
Knead with one hand for 10 minutes (set yourself a timer its longer than you think!!)
The dough will be very wet so keep scraping back into the centre and from your hand using the dough scraper. I find a circular motion works well for such a wet dough.
Return to an oiled bowl for 1 hour to prove.
When doubled in size, preheat the oven to 220C.
Turn the dough into an oiled tray (18X 30cm). Do this by using the scraper and ‘pour’ the dough into the tin.
With wet fingers ease the dough to the shape of the tin, trying not to knock out too much of the air.
Leave to rise for a 45mins.
When doubled in size again, using and oiled finger make indentations in the dough in lines to get the traditional focaccia dimples.
Cut the olives in half and chop up the tomatoes, sprinkle over the top and finish with some crumbled feta. Drizzle with olive oil from the sunblush tomato pot.
Reduce the oven temperature to 210C and bake for 20 – 30mins until risen and golden
When cooked remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with a little more salt to taste.

For the cakey offerings, we had meringue kisses which I make following the Meringue girls recipe.

Honey and rose madeleines made from the lovely book by Jill Colonna called Teatime in Paris. The book has lovely simple recipes like these madeleines as well as more complex french patisserie such as choux and macarons.

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The cupcakes were a Mary Berry recipe, just a standard vanilla cake really, but I filled them with a chocolate ganache using my Lakeland cupcake corer

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and topped with butter icing swirls using Sugar and Crumbs strawberry milkshake flavour icing sugar. I use and open star nozzle to achieve this look.

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Finished with a bit more chocolate ganache and some sprinkles. the overall effect was like a neopolitan ice cream, perfect for a summers day.

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The two big cakes were both lemon and elderflower flavour, both lemon cake with elderflower icing, again using the Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing sugar, one in buttercream and the other in drizzle icing.

The large tiered cake is a semi-naked one, following the method in my How I make a Naked Cake  blog post. Decorated simply using fresh edible flowers and meringues. Nationwide access to edible flowers can be found online via Maddocks Farm Organics, they will advise you of flowers in season and which varieties are safe to use on a cake. I would advise against using supermarket or florist flowers even if they are edible varieties, unless they are being sold specifically as edible in the grocery sections. My flowers this week are from a local grower There May be Bugs who uses organic techniques and is a fabulous source for me if I only need a few blooms.

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The Bundt cake followed the Build a Bundt, recipe by the queen of bundt’s Dolly Bakes. I added the zest of a lemon to the mix then once cooked I soaked it in lemon syrup. The drizzle was made with the Elderflower natural icing sugar from Sugar and Crumbs and the crystallised flowers were from the Edible Botanist and give a fab alternative to fresh flowers as they last longer on the cake but still look and taste great. A bundt tin is a great way to add style to an otherwise quite plain cake, the tins by Nordicware are amazing quality and well worth the extra that they cost. Be careful though their pretty designs can become quite addictive. Try John Lewis for the latest designs or TK Maxx for a bargain.

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No afternoon tea is complete of course without scones and clotted cream, we had ours with homemade strawberry and prosecco jam too! The clotted cream naturally has to be British family brand Roddas, and once again Mary Berry wins the day with her recipe for Devonshire scones

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This was such a lovely opportunity to get out all the best tea china and my pretty cake stands that we will definitely do it again, although I think I need to invite more people next time as we had enough food to feed the whole street!

Don’t forget to get the August issue of BBC Good Food magazine to see my article!

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A final thank you to Birgit Mons Photography for turning a rather reluctant model into some fabulous headshots for the magazine article – you really worked wonders!

All the items and suppliers I have recommended are ones I use regularly in my kitchen. I have not received any payment or goods in lieu of endorsement.

Photos and Flowers

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It has been three years now since I registered as a home baker and took on my  first commissioned cake and it has certainly led me to lots of exciting places. I have done courses with some of my cakey heroes, met many talented people through social media and then face to face, won the odd online competition, reviewed some fabulous products, developed lots of lovely recipes, the occasional  TV appearance and most importantly been part of many many peoples special celebrations.

I sometimes feel that someone will shout me out – ‘Hey you over there who thinks she can make cakes – you have no idea what you are doing most of the time – just winging it – its just you on your own in your kitchen.’ Well that is all probably true but it seems to be working and my order books looking ahead are pretty full and I still love making cakes – so I’m not complaining!

My adventure has recently taken me to new places, I met Nesan from NC Super Clubs, who runs pop up supper events all over London and also runs exclusive private catering events. Together we have designed some wonderful cakes for his events and through him I have had the pleasure of meeting some very talented event and food photographers.

This week my escapades led me to North London and a photo shoot in a professional studio kitchen with the wonderful Majella of Pavlova and Cream. London Kitchen Social is a new concept set up to encourage small food businesses to have professional shots of their food done. My shoot was part of a short slot one to one session, but they also run longer sessions that have several chefs at once creating their dishes and being photographed in the process. We had three hours so rather than bake I took a cake and decorations all ready with me.

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I wanted to choose a cake design that best showcased the style I love best, this had to mean a naked style with fresh flowers, but I also had to included a few of my beloved macarons and meringue kisses. The flavours of the cake have been inspired by the Royal Wedding cake and are lemon and elderflower. I’m not going to do the whole recipe but can direct you to my post on How I Made a Naked Cake for tips.

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I simply added some lemon zest to the basic madeira recipe that I usually use, I brushed the sponge with a lemon syrup to help keep it moist. The filling was my homemade lemon curd and elderflower buttercream, for this I made made usual buttercream but used Sugar and Crumbs natural elderflower flavoured icing sugar. This icing sugar has an intense and delicious elderflower flavour and I will certainly be using other flavours for future cakes.

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My flowers are as always from Maddocks Farm Organics, with the addition of some local elderflower blooms. I am often asked about adding flowers to cakes and it is certainly on trend at the moment. My advice is to use a reputable organic flower grower, they will be able to advise you about in-season varieties and ensure the flowers are edible.

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Supermarket and florist flowers have been sprayed with pesticides and many are toxic so in my mind have no place on a cake. For this cake, having asked for a mixed box of yellows and creams and whites Jan sent me a wonderful variety including  lilac, calendulas, pansies, dianthus and bellis daisies. All so pretty and just perfect for my cake.

When I arrived at the studio Majella was already mid shoot with Bella a passionate foody home cook, who had produced some completely delicious dishes. The day had certainly started well!

We then popped next door to an Aladdin’s cave of kitcheny props. Wow I was in heaven! A whole warehouse dedicated to crockery, cutlery, boards, candle holders, tableware and much more. I chose a ‘shabby chic’ style wooden board for the cake and Majella picked out some napkins to compliment the cake colours. Its amazing what a professional eye sees that just lift a photo from the ordinary to the very special.

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Back to the studio kitchen, it all felt very relaxed, like I was at home,  although I was explaining as I went along what I was doing so it had a slight feeling of a class/demo too.

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Having levelled and filled the cake, I like to lay out all the things I’m going to use.

 

Then it was time to start dressing it and Bella was kind enough to time lapse film me doing it which you can watch here.

 

 

The action shots for me just capture the world I go into when I’m dressing a cake, completely absorbed by what is in front of me.

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Finally however come the final shots, Majella wove her magic and these are the lovely results.

 

Bunny Bottom Carrot Cupcakes

These little cakes are a great project to make with your kids during the Easter holidays, they use a super simple carrot cake recipe and don’t need any fancy tools to make them! I have also made a few bunny faces and some easy egg nests for you to try too.

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Carrot cupcakes

Makes 12-14 large cupcake sized cakes

200g light soft brown sugar
2 eggs
200ml sunflower oil
200g plain flour
¾ tsp bicarb of soda
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamom
few drops vanilla extract
200g finely grated carrots

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 250g soft butter
  • 125g mascarpone cheese
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 125g full fat cream cheese
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

Line a muffin tin with 12-14 large cupcake cases. Preheat the oven to 180C

Measure the flour, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon, & cardamom (I love cardamom but if you don’t have any mixed spice or ground ginger works well too) into a bowl and whisk lightly together.


In another bowl beat the sugar, oil and eggs together until thoroughly combined.

Gradually add the flour mixture and beat in well.


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Fill each cupcake case up to approx. 2/3rds level.

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Bake for 20-25 mins until firm but springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire tray.

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To make the frosting, beat the butter until smooth and pale,

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add the mascarpone and beat well,

img_7359stir in the icing sugar,

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then soften the cream cheese in a different bowl with the vanilla,

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Finally add to the rest of the mixture, beat briefly until just combined keep cool until ready to use.

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Decoration

When the cakes are cool you are ready to decorate.

Bunny Bottoms:

  • Green sprinkles
  • white fondant, pink fondant
  • white mini marshmallows

Spread a thin layer of the icing over the top of the cake, then roll the edges in the sprinkles to make the ‘grass’

Fill a piping bag or plastic food bag with some icing, Don’t put too much in as it doesn’t like getting warm in your hands. Snip off the end or corner to make a hole about 1.5cm across. Hold the piping bag just above the centre of the cake and squeeze out a big blob to form the bunny bottom. Pop a mini marshmallow in the centre for the tail.

To make the feet roll a small ball of white icing, just a little bigger than  a marble, cut in half to get two equal sized balls. Roll in your hands to make a tear drop shape. Flatten down to make the foot shape, use a blunt knife or cocktail stick to push in two indents for the paws. Make three small flattened circles for the paws then a slightly larger oval for the pad on the foot.

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Bunny faces:

  • large white marshmallows
  • pink edible glitter
  • mini white & pink marshmallows
  • chocolate fondant

Pipe a low swirl over the top of the cup cake

Cut the large marshmallow diagonally across  to make two ears then dip the cut side in the pink edible glitter.

To make the eyes cut a mini marshmallow lengthways and trim slightly, add a couple of small balls of chocolate fondant.

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For the nose and mouth, roll a thin sausage of chocolate fondant tapering each end, bend in half and curl up at the end. pop this at the bottom of the cake, make some teeth from snipped off end the white mini marshmallow you used for the eyes. Cut a pink marshmallow in half for the nose and place at the top of the mouth, add the eyes directly above the nose then finish with the ears on top.

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Nests:

  • Chocolate vermicelli strands
  • Crispy shell mini eggs

Pipe a swirl on the top of the cakes, sprinkle with the vermicelli and add the eggs! Simple!!

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Perfect for an Easter get together!

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National Popcorn Day

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Well its seems there is a day to celebrate everything so why not popcorn? National Popcorn Day is on 19th January this year so why not celebrate with cake ?

When Joe & Seph’s asked if I would make them a cake using their gourmet popcorn and caramel sauces, I of course said yes but where to start – so many yummy flavour combinations to choose from, sweet and savoury. The one that jumped out at me, thinking it would go well on a cake was the Toffee Apple Cinnamon flavour, and the sister caramel sauce sealed the deal!

I first made a toffee apple caramel cake for a wedding last year as the top tier. There are lots of recipes for apple cakes out there, but not many that will stand being layered up to make a covered cake, so I needed to play with the recipes a bit to make it all work and this is the result.

The beauty of this cake is that it doesn’t need fancy equipment either, all made in one bowl you can easily make it by hand, although I did cheat a little with my handheld electric beater. Its a wonderfully moist cake and really delicious.

Toffee Apple Popcorn Cake.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 450g light soft brown sugar
  • 105ml rapeseed oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 300ml buttermilk
  • 1.5tsp vanilla extract
  • 450g plain flour
  • 1.5tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 dessert apples (I used Braeburns)

Buttercream

  • 500g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1kg unrefined icing sugar (I use Billingtons)

Decoration

Method

Grease and line 3 x 8inch cake tins. Preheat the oven to 150C (fan).

In a large bowl beat together the sugar, oil, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla extract until smooth and well incorporated.

Sieve the flour, bicarb and cinnamon straight into the bowl and fold in until smooth.

Peel, core and chop the apples into small chunks about 1cm cubed (approx). Stir into the cake mixture.

Share the mixture between the three tins evenly, bake for 45mins or until golden brown on top and a cocktail stick comes out clean, check a couple places in case you hit a piece of apple.

Once bakes leave to sit for five mins before removing from the tins and cooling completely on a wire cooling rack.

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Whilst cooling make the buttercream.

Cube the butter and put the butter in a large bowl and beat well until it starts to lighten in colour.

Add the icing sugar and stir in gently to incorporate into the butter, add a tablespoon of hot boiled water to help incorporate the sugar.

Once the sugar clouds have subsided beat well to make it smooth. Add another tablespoon of hot boiled water to soften the mixture to make it easier to use.

To Decorate

Once the layers of cake are completely cool you can start to decorate the cake.

Firstly make some caramel with the sugar. Warm gently in pan until melted then increase the heat to form a golden brown caramel, being careful not to burn the mixture.

Take a small handful of the popcorn and bits in a food processor to make popcorn crumbs.

Fill a piping bag with buttercream, a 1cm nozzle inserted first.

Fill another piping bag with some toffee apple cinnamon caramel sauce and snip a small piece from the end of the bag.

Using a thin 8inch base cake card use some of the caramel to stick the balloon stick holder to the card. Pipe some buttercream around the edge of the card. Attach the balloon stick into the holder, pop the kebab stick inside to keep it all stable, then thread first layer of cake over the stick onto the card.

Pipe an even layer of buttercream on to the cake, smooth out with a spatula then pipe a swirl of the caramel sauce over, finally sprinkle on some popcorn crumbs.

Refrigerate for 10-15 mins to set. Repeat with the next layer then top with the final layer of cake.

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Make sure your cake is up right and level on top, then cover with the rest of the buttercream saving a little for some finishing off later. Try to get a nice smooth edge and top but as its covered in sauce later it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Refrigerate again for 15 mins.  Add some more sauce to your piping bag, warm the caramel sauce for 10 seconds on a defrost setting in the microwave. Drizzle the sauce round the top edge of the cake allowing it to dribble down the sides a little. Finish off by topping the cake with more sauce. I placed my cake on fondant covered cake drum and piped some little blobs round the edge to finish off around the base.

To create the pouring popcorn effect, rewarm the caramel you made earlier, you may need to keep rewarming the caramel to complete the entire stick but don’t leave it on the heat all the time or it may burn.  Work up from the base of the stick, dip the toffee apple cinnamon popcorn carefully into the caramel (I wore plastic gloves to protect my fingers) and attach to the balloon stick. Cover the entire stick. When you get to the top build up the popcorn at right angles so it appears to still be inside the bag when you pop it over the ‘flow’ of popcorn.

I needed to build up the popcorn around the base of my stick to give it some extra support. I also cut down the bag a little to fit the cake design. Finish off by covering more of the top of the cake with the rest of the popcorn, use a little buttercream to make the pieces stick to the edges of the cake.  For a final finishing touch I placed the jar onto top as though the sauce was drizzling out propping it up with a few pieces of popcorn.

Finally slice and serve this lusciously moist and super sticky cake, its a big one so make sure you invite plenty of friends!

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Thank you to Joe and Seph’s for sending me lots of yummy popcorn and caramel sauces to play with for this post.

Thank you also to Birgit Mons Photography for her time and amazing photography skills for the construction and final shots of the cake

A video clip of the cake construction can be found on my YouTube channel

Last Minute Christmas Cake

I’m a bit of a floozy when it comes to christmas cake recipes and don’t have a favourite one!

I also never get round to making one early enough to let it mature in the traditional way, truth be told I don’t even really like eating it, but my family do  – So this weekend I finally got round to making one for us! Whether it actually gets decorated is anyones guess!

This is based on a Delia Smith recipe with a few changes. I love cinnamon and cardamom so rather than the all spice in Delias recipe I have used those spices, to compliment these flavours I soaked the fruit in chai tea rather than brandy and finally I swapped the brazils and mixed nuts for almonds and pistachios. It all gives the cake a more asian inspired flavour – it might even entice me to have a slice or two over the festive period!

This cake can be made the day before you need it but will happily last two or three weeks without drying out.

Ingredients

For the pre-soaking
150ml chai tea ( I make it using a chai teabag in 150ml boiled water, leave to infuse for 5 mins)
1 x 400g jar mincemeat
110g prunes, chopped
50g glace cherries quartered – I used Billingtons morello cherries for extra flavour
175g dried mixed fruit
50 mixed peel
2 tsp chopped stem ginger
For the cake
225g Self raising flour
30g plain flour
2 level teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cardamom
150g softened butter
150g soft dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
50g chopped blanched almonds
50g chopped pistachios
zest 1 large orange and 1 lemon
For the glaze
juice the orange and lemon
equal parts sugar ( approx 150g)
Method

Measure the fruits and mincemeat into a plastic or ceramic bowl and add the chai tea liquid , teabag and all! Combine well, cover with cling film and leave overnight.

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When you are ready to make the cake, pre-heat the oven to 160C.

Double line your 8 inch tin with greasproof paper and get a large doubled over piece of brown paper that will wrap round the outside of your tin.

Measure the flours, baking powder, salt and spices into a mixing bowl, the whisk together with a hand whisk.

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In another bowl beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy then add the eggs gradually until all combined.

Fold in the flour and give a quick beat to combine.

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Fold in the pre-soaked fruit mixture, chopped nuts and the grated lemon and orange zests. Dont forget to remove the teabag!

Spoon it into the prepared tin, levelling the top with the back of the spoon. Wrap the tin with the brown paper and secure with a piece of string.

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Bake for 1 hour, then check the cake, if its browning quickly turn the oven down by 10 degrees and give it a little foil hat! Bake for another 1/2hr or until a skewer comes out clean from the centre.

While the cake is cooking make the glaze syrup, juice the orange and the lemon and add an equal amount of sugar to the juice, I used about 150g sugar. Place in a small thick bottomed pan and bring just to the boil dissolving all the sugar.

When the cake first comes out of the oven brush on some syrup to the top, cool the cake in the tin for 30 minutes, then remove it to a wire cooling tray place upside down to continue cooling. Brush the base of the cake with syrup too!

If you have time you can continue to brush the cake in syrup over the next few days.

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Once completely cool the cake is ready for cutting or decorating – its up to you!

I also made these as mini gift cakes which worked really well in my present Nordicware bundt tin. Just fill 2/3rds full and bake for half an hour.

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Viennese Whirl Mince Pies

I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of mince pies, or anything with lots of dried fruit in it come to that! So I’m always looking for ways to jazz them up and these hit the mark for me, delicious crisp sweet crust pastry, a bit of extra something in the mincemeat and topped with a light crumbly viennese whirl! Almost palatably – not really my family and friends tell me they are delicious!

They take a little time as the key to any pastry and biscuit work is to rest and chill to get the best results, but the methods are quick and easy. The recipe is in three parts so check right through before you start.

Makes 12

Viennese whirl mince pies with a orange liqueur filling.

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Pastry

This makes double the amount you need but it freezes well so it won’t go to waste, its a very very easy all in the food processor recipe and is so forgiving when rolling and lining the tins you will want to use it for lots of other sweet recipes.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium egg
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g unsalted butter cubed

Method

Put everything together in a food processor

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Whizz for a minute or so until it starts to form a ball of dough.

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Pop into a plastic bag and put in the fridge to chill for half an hour, don’t be tempted to skip this stage it really makes a big difference when you roll out the pastry later.

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After half an hour, roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick (I have a fancy rolling pin that helps me with that but about the the thickness just less than a pound coin is good.) Don’t try to roll all the pastry at once just do small batches at a time it makes it much easier, and use plenty of flour to stop it sticking to the work top.

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Using a 7cm circular pastry cutter cut out rounds and line a greased muffin tin (the deep ones not the jam tart ones)

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Ease the pastry gently into the tin making sure there are no air bubble and it is even round the edges.

Mincemeat filling

I don’t make my own! I use a standard supermarket own jar, a 400g jar will be plenty, and add some Grand Marnier ( about 1 or 2 dessert spoons) and extra orange zest to taste. But you can experiment with whatever you have in the back of your cupboard!

Add about 1 dessert spoon of filling to each pastry case, don’t be tempted to overfill or they will explode during cooking. Then pop these in the fridge until the topping is ready.

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Viennese Whirl topping

Ingredients

  • 150g Stork with Butter
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 150g plain flour
  • 30g cornflour
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract

Method

I specify Stork with Butter for this recipe as I find it the perfect combination of buttery flavour and the consistency you need to pipe the whirls, which then hold their shape well, but if you are a purist you can use butter just make sure it is very very soft to cream with the icing sugar.

Cream the icing sugar and Stork with Butter together until very light and fluffy. Keep going until you think it looks pale enough then beat just a little while longer to be sure!

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Stir in the flours and vanilla extract, and combine briefly until a smooth consistency is reached, don’t over beat at this point.

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Prepare a piping bag with a closed star nozzle ( I used a wilton 2D) and pop into a tall cup to transfer the mixture into.

Put this mixture into the fridge for 15/20 minutes, no longer or it will be too solid to pipe.

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When the chilling time is up take everything out of the fridge. To pipe the rosettes start in the middle and spiral out to the edges.

Ok back in the fridge time! Give the tray at least another 20mins to chill.

Preheat the oven to 180C fan.

Bake for 25-30 mins turning the tray round after 20mins to ensure an even bake (everyones oven has that annoying hotspot right?).

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins before carefully lifting out to get completely cold on a cooling tray.

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Dust with icing sugar to finish off!

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