I love cookies. And one of my favourites are pecan sandies. I have an old recipe from this blog which I’ve amended slightly to make them a bit festive and turn them into Winter Walnut Cookies. These are probably the most loved cookies that I have ever made. People eat them and make lots of ‘ooh ahh’ noises, and then they are snaffled up in minutes.
My six-year old daughter, Moozles, is beyond excited at the prospect of Halloween. So this weekend we put up some decorations and did some baking. I have recently renewed my relationship with Pinterest. And after a browse, Moozles decided that these Jack Skellington cupcakes were what she wanted. There is obviously not much instruction there, so I thought I would share what we did.
Whenever I ask what kind of cake we should make, everyone asks for chocolate. So, I make my Husband’s favourite chocolate cake recipe (if I make chocolate cake for kids, I use a more kid-friendly recipe). Since my family members are chocoholics, they can handle this fudgey cake. This cake is easy to make, and easier to decorate – perfect for baking with kids.
Chocolatey Fudge Cake 175g self-raising flour 280g caster sugar 100g butter (room temperature) 3 large free-range eggs 50ml whole milk (I use Lactofree) 40g cocoa powder 6 tbsp boiling water 1 tsp baking powder Preheat oven 160C (fan-assisted)/190C. Mix all the ingredients, apart from the last three. In a separate bowl, blend the cocoa powder and the boiling water, then add to the rest of the mixture. Add the baking powder and mix. This can be baked as 12-15 cupcakes or in two 8-inch cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Leave to cool in the pan before icing. Buttercream Icing 180 icing sugar 90g butter 1/2 tsp vanilla extract Mix half the icing sugar with the rest of the ingredients. Once that is blended, add the rest of the icing sugar. I use a hand blender for icing. I use a tea towel to cover the bowl so that my kitchen isn't covered in icing sugar. Spread the icing onto the cupcakes. To decorate the cupcakes: You could use black gel food colouring to make the eyes, nose and mouth. I happened to have leftover Renshaw ready to roll icing, from Lakeland. I cut it up into bits and let Moozles add them to her cupcakes. The beauty of these cupcakes is that they do not need to look perfect.
Lemon Drizzle Cake is Husband’s third favourite kind of cake. So a couple of weeks ago, when I wanted to butter him up for something, I baked a loaf. The recipe is based on Mary Berry’s recipe, but with some tweaks. My son is barely two years old, so he was not much help. He did enjoy sucking some lemons while I did all of the work. And when Husband arrived home that evening, he was putty in my hands. Cue evil laughter.
Lemon Drizzle Cake
175g margarine/soft butter
250g caster sugar
Grated zest of 2 lemons
250g self-raising flour (sifted)
3 medium free-range eggs
4 tbsp whole milk (I use Lactofree milk because my son and I have lactose sensitivities)
1 level tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan-assisted). Grease and line 2 x 1lb loaf tins. Cream butter and sugar and mix in all ingredients. Divide between the two tins and bake for about 35 mins – test that it is ready by seeing if a toothpick comes out clean.
Let loaves cool for 10 minutes, then prick all over with a toothpick.
Mix 70g granulated sugar with the juice of one lemon. When you squeeze the lemon, it should be room-temperature. If it’s cold, cut it in half, pop into the microwave for 5-10 seconds, then you can squeeze the lemon much more easily. Spoon lemon and sugar mixture over the 2 cakes. Leave to cool in the tin.
* I take the remaining lemon and cut it into wedges, then freeze it. Perfect for adding to gin/vodka tonic, Pimms or even to some hot water.
The only thing my daughter loves more than baking cupcakes, is eating cupcakes. So when the people over at Flora asked me to bake with their new Flora Great for Baking Block and to blog about it, how could I refuse?! I was able to get the Flora baking block with my Tesco grocery delivery at the weekend. I was pleased with the price, £1.00 for a 250g block. For baking, I normally buy the Waitrose Essential block of salted butter, which costs £1.32 for a 250g block.
Though price matters, ultimately taste is what we care about in our cake-crazed household. So my six-year old daughter, Moozles, and I put on our matching aprons and began baking. I let Moozles pick what kind of cupcake and icing we made. I had her look through a couple of recipes books, but she said she wanted to make a Mary Berry recipe because Mary Berry has the best cakes. Yes, I am teaching my daughter well. Moozles chose vanilla cupcakes and chocolate buttercream icing (we are die-hard buttercream fans). The chocolate icing is a recipe I have used for years, but adapted, from the BBC cooking website. It is my favourite icing recipe.
So, how did it turn out? Both the cupcakes and icing turned out quite well. Moozles had loads of fun decorating the cupcakes. I think she did a fab job! I would like to say that my two-year old, Dubz, was helpful too. But he basically just spooned icing onto his face and tried to climb over the table to grab more. Husband, who is a proficient bowl-licker, told me that it was the best icing I had ever made. Hand on heart, he asked if I had used a new recipe or whether it was the Flora. He wasn’t kidding, he scoffed three cupcakes in about five minutes. Moozles said it was ‘delicious’ (she only had two). Who can argue with those reviews?!
Bake for 40-45 minutes. The top of the brownie should look a bit crusty. Stick a skewer in the middle and if it comes out clean then the brownie is ready. Once cooled, you can store them in an airtight container for about five days. If you are having a piece later, pop it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds for more gooey loveliness.
Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips
I came down with a cold on Wednesday night and by Thursday morning I was feeling pretty rough. I knew I would need to take a break from my healthy living as I needed a sweet pick-me-up. I have some desiccated coconut in my cupboard as I am planning to make a coconut cake soon, so I thought I’d use some of that to make a loaf cake/bread. I adapted a couple of recipes to get something not too coconutty nor too sweet. This takes 10 minutes to prepare. The loaf takes 45 minutes to bake and the muffins take 35 minutes.
200g caster sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice (fresh or not, doesn’t make a huge difference)
200g self-raising flour
5 tbsp dessicated coconut
12ml whole milk (but can use semi-skimmed) *I use lactofree milk as both my son and I are lactose-intolerantPreheat oven to 160C (fan-assisted) or 180C. I always use a tin liner so that I don’t have to worry about greasing the loaf tin. Plus, it makes it easier if you’re taking the loaf to a friend’s. I made a 1-lb loaf so that I would have extra batter to make cupcakes. Once I’ve baked the muffins, I can put them in the freezer and then defrost for last-minute visitors or treats for the kids.
1. Cream sugar and butter.
2. Add lemon juice and eggs.
3. In a separate bowl, add flour and salt.
4. Add to creamed mixture. Add milk. Add coconut.
5. Pour mixtures into one-pound loaf tin and into cupcake tin.
6. Bake loaf for 40-50 minutes. Don’t let the loaf get too dark/well done. Remove from the oven and cool.
7. Bake muffins for about 35 minutes.
1. Substitute milk for coconut milk, for more of a coconut flavour.
2. Once baked, add raspberry jam on top of the loaf then sprinkle with dessicated coconut.
3. Halfway through baking the loaf, add desiccated coconut then bake for the rest of the time.
4. Once the loaf has been baked and cooled, mix 50g sugar and the juice of one lemon (2-3 tbsp lemon juice) and drizzle over loaf.
6. Never open the oven before the very end. Opening the oven cools the temperature which affects how much time the cake requires to be cooked.