Christmas baking

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It’s that time of year again, where baking actually takes over from knitting, I’ve made Christmas puddings and am now baking cakes, I need to make four in total so it takes a while! Then they need to be covered in marzipan and icing and finally decorated, the picture is of a previous years cake because I’m a bit behind and still need to cook two more oh and also make some mince pies!

Knitting hasn’t been completely forgotten though, I’m making a few hats for gifts at the moment and working on some new designs for next year, but for the next week or so I will continue my baking frenzy!

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Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes

I haven’t shared a cakey recipe in ages so here’s a new one. Chocolate brownie cupcakes are currently one of our favourites, they’re quick and easy to make and taste great. The recipe makes 12 cakes.

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Ingredients:

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 90g butter
  • 200g dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 140g plain flour

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180c / 350f / gas mark 4 and place 12 cake cases in a muffin tin.

Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan and heat gently until melted, stir until smooth and leave to cool for 5mins.

Put the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat until light and smooth.

Stir in the flour, then add the melted chocolate mixture and stir until combined.

Spoon the mixture in to the cake cases.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, the cakes should be cooked on top but still have a slight wobble.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely (although they do taste great whilst still warm too!)

 

Baked Chocolate Cheesecake

Baked cheesecake is great, you don’t need gelatine, it’s easy to make and needs little preparation. Serve with warm chocolate sauce and whipped cream for a decadent desert or with red berries or a raspberry coulis.

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Ingredients:

250g digestive biscuits (graham crackers)

80g butter

400g cream cheese

200g caster sugar

3 eggs

200g dark chocolate

1tsp vanilla extract

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160c / 325f / gas 3.

Crush the digestive biscuits, melt the butter and mix together. Press into a 20cm / 8″ loose bottomed tin and set aside.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a simmering saucepan of water, leave to cool slightly.

Place the cream cheese, caster sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and well blended. Add the melted chocolate and beat again until combined.

Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, beating lightly until thoroughly combined.

Pour the mixture over the biscuit base.

Bake the cheesecake in the centre of the oven for 45 mins, the centre of the cheesecake should be almost set, but still have a slight wobble to it.

Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

 

Jam tarts

Another great recipe for making with your children, jam tarts are simple and tasty. These tarts are made with a basic pastry, don’t worry about chilling the pastry before rolling out, just don’t over handle it.  Any jam will work, just use whatever you have in the fridge/cupboard.  This recipe will make approx 15 tarts depending on how thinly you roll out the pastry.

 

 

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Ingredients:

170g self raising flour

85g cold butter

3tbsp cold water

15 heaped tsp jam

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4.

Chop the butter in to small cubes and place in a bowl with the flour. Using your hands rub the butter and flour together until it resembles bread crumbs.

Stir the water in one tbsp at a time to form a not too sticky dough.

On a lightly floured surface gently roll out the dough (not too thinly) and using a cutter cut out approx 15 circles.

Place the pastry circles in a shallow bun tin and add a heaped teaspoon of jam to each one (not too much jam or it will ooze everywhere)

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30mins or until the pastry is golden brown.

Remove the tarts from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

 

 

Chocolate oaties

These are great biscuits to make with your kids, it’s a simple recipe and it really doesn’t matter what they look like. They’re also an excellent energy food, perfect for lunchboxes. This recipe will make approx 16 – 20 biscuits depending on how big you want them.

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Ingredients:

110g butter, softened

110g light brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

2tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g rolled oats

125g plain flour

1 heaped tbsp cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

200g chocolate chips

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 180c/350f/gas 4 and lightly grease two baking trays.

Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla extract and beat again until blended.

Add the oats, flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and stir well until thoroughly combined. Finally stir in the chocolate chips.

Place dessertspoon fulls of the biscuit mix on to the baking trays and flatten them slightly with the back of the spoon.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15mins or until they are firm and have risen slightly.

Let them cool on the baking trays for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Back to reality

 

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We’ve been on holiday, the weather was good, we did lots of paddling, visited a farm, ate too much and relaxed as much as is possible with two small children, I even got a sheep to pose for me!050

Now we’re back home and there’s no school for six weeks. I have all these plans for tidying and decorating and I’ve loads of knitting ideas swimming around my head, I just need to find the time to get everything done! I’ve been wracking my brain for great crafty ideas to do with my boys, they’re 3 and 8, we’re going to do some painting tomorrow and they also want to make paper aeroplanes, any other great ideas will be appreciated!

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I’ve also been working on some simple cake and biscuit recipes that are easy for children to help make, so far we’ve made jam tarts, chocolate tiffin squares and chocolate oaties, all have been scoffed rather quickly so am taking that as a success! I’ll add recipes on here soon.

As to tidying and decorating, well I sorted out my yarn stash on Sunday, it’s a lot less of a mess and i even found yarn that I’d forgotten I owned (which was great!) I’ve also decided to get rid of a load of yarn that I know I wont use, it seems kinda daft to hang on to stuff that is never going to be knitted by me.

041I’ve even managed to squeeze a bit of knitting time in, I’m working on autumnal hats, which when its 25c outside feels a bit odd, but the way I’m going by the time it starts to get cooler everyone i know will have a hand knitted hat. Oh and I’ll be releasing my new tee pattern this weekend.

Boiled Fruit Cake

I love rich fruit cake, it’s one of my favourite Christmas foods, but a good fruit cake takes hours to bake and then needs to be left to mature. This boiled version is great for when you really want fruit cake right now, the cooking time is quite short, but it still results in a wonderfully moist cake. Use any dried fruit, I used a mixture of currents, sultanas and raisins.

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Ingredients:

  • 500g mixed dried fruit
  • 120g light brown sugar
  • 225g butter or margarine
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinammon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 pint milk
  • 350g self raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g glace cherries, washed and chopped.
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 160c / 140c fan / gas mark 3. Grease and line an 8″ cake tin.

Place the mixed fruit, sugar, margarine, spices and milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil stirring well to ensure that the margarine melts. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Once cooler add the washed and chopped cherries, beaten eggs, flour and bicarbonate of soda and mix well.

Pour the mix in to the cake tin and cook in the centre of the oven for approx 1 hour  – 1 hour 30mins or until well risen and a skewer inserted in to the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for at least 15mins before removing from the tin and leaving to cool completely on a rack, or do as we do and eat a huge slice while still warm!