Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Birthday biscuits

For most people, today is Boxing Day. Not here. Today is my Dad's birthday. My family is always together today so we go to a local National Trust garden, Wakehurst place, home of one of the most spectacular Christmas trees. As always, today we went for our walk and to see the tree, despite the rain and cold. 

When I got home I made batch of cheese biscuits. I made one batch a couple of days ago for my parents' Christmas hamper using Stilton, rather than cheddar. They didn't last long.

Cheese biscuits
125g plain flour
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp soft brown sugar
100g soft, unsalted butter
25g parmesan 
100g cheddar cheese
A splash of water
1. Put the flour, pepper and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter and crumble the cheese in to the mix. Using your fingertips, mix all the ingredients together. Use a splash of water to bind it all together and make a dough. If you use Stilton, you won't need the water.
2. Roll the dough into a log on a floured surface. Roll the log in sesame seeds, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 1-2 hours.
3. Preheat the oven to 170. Using a sharp knife, cut discs of the dough, about 5mm thick. Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for 15-17minutes until golden brown. 

Ta da!

This batch didn't last very long as that plate is now empty. 

So, Happy Birthday Dad! (I know you'll read this at some point.) Although your jokes are terrible, I love you very much. I will bake more savoury things for you, I promise X Bo

Merry Christmas to all & Happy Birthday Dad! 

Monday, 24 December 2012


This Saturday all my friends & I gathered at my wonderful friend's flat where we had a turkey with all the trimmings, expertly cooked by Elisa & Jamie. We exchanged presents, including all of our Secret Santa gifts.

And now I can finally reveal my secret foodie gift recipes! I gave all my friends & colleagues at work one of these handmade presents. Yes, even the labels! 

Maple Toffee Vodka
400g hard toffee sweets (Wethers Originals or similar) 
200ml maple syrup
1L vodka
1. Put the toffee sweets and syrup into a large pan. Melt until the sweets have melted. 
2. Transfer to a bowl. Slowly add the vodka. Leave to infuse for 24 hours. 
3. Pass through a sieve, then pour into sterilised bottles. 

The bottles of vodka I gave out on Saturday were opened and sampled right there in front of me!

Gingerbread Mix jars 
100g light brown sugar
175g plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1. Sieve all the ingredients together. Spoon into 500ml jars. 
2. Attach a cookie cutter and label with the instructions written on it:
Mix the contents of this jar with 100g melted butter & 1 large egg. Chill and roll out. Stamp           out the cookies using this cutter. Bake at 170 for 12-15 minutes. 

My wonderful friend Imi sent me a picture of her successful biscuits!

Homemade Chocolates
Obviously this recipe will work with any kind of chocolate, the original recipe was designed for white chocolate. When I made a batch to give as presents I made both white & milk chocolate truffle centres and then coated them in white, milk and dark chocolate.
Ingredients for the truffles
250g chocolate 
100ml double cream
25g soft unsalted butter 
For the coating
200g chocolate 
1. To make the truffle centres,  start by chopping the chocolate finely. Put the chocolate, cream and butter in a pan. Put on a low heat and stir until melted. Pour into a bowl or tin and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours until firmly set. 
2. Roll the mixture into small balls. I used a melon baller and a teaspoon. Chill for 1 hour. 
3. Melt the remaining chocolate and one by one, coat the truffles in the chocolate. Chill until needed. 

I put my truffles in small paper cases inside the boxes. 

I have been told they were very nice and I have a sneaky feeling that a lot of the boxes I gave my friends are now empty... 

I also received some amazing presents so a big thank you to Ben, Cat, Becky, Will & Elisa for my baking themed gifts! 

Have yourself a merry little Christmas and I will see you again in 2013! X Bo 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Gingerbread house

On a rare day off from work I decided to attempt to make a gingerbread house, attempt being the operative word! 

I will post the recipe I was following below. Basically, it all fell apart when I tried to put the roof on. I used the templates in the back of the GBBO cook book. 

Ingredients for gingerbread
700g plain flour
2 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
pinch of salt
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
350g unsalted butter
300g dark muscovado sugar
8 tbsp golden syrup

4 clear boiled sweets.
2 bags of white chocolate buttons
Ingredients for royal icing
3 egg whites
few drops of lemon juice
550g icing sugar 

1. Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, mixed spice, salt and bicarb into a mixing bowl. 
2. Put the butter, sugar and syrup into a saucepan. Melt until smooth then add to the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon to form a dough.
3. Tip out onto a floured surface and knock into a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes in the fridge. 
4. Divide into five equal pieces. Start by making the two walls. These are made out of one portion. Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper. Set the template on top and cut out. Cut out windows from the wall and fill the gap with crushed boiled sweets.  Bake for 8-10 minutes at 180.  Leave to cool. 

5. Cut out the front wall of the house from one portion of rolled out dough. Cut out the window and fill with a crushed sweet again.  Also cut out a door, but don't throw it away! Bake for 8-10 minutes at 180. Make the back wall in the same way, but without a door and bake. Roll out the last two pieces and use for each roof piece, bake. 
6. Use any dough trimmings to make Christmas trees or gingerbread men! 
7. To make the royal icing, mix together egg whites and lemon juice. Gradually add the icing sugar until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and not run off. 
8. When ready to assemble, put the icing in a piping bag. Pipe a thick rope of icing down the short side of one wall piece. Place at a 90 degree angle against the front (making sure the window is facing out.) Attach the other wall in the same way. Prop a glass or jar against the walls to keep them from slipping. Attach the fourth wall in the same way. 
9. Once the icing is set, ice the door onto the front of the house. 
10. Spread icing over the roof sections and decorate with white chocolate buttons. When the base of the house is firmly set, pipe along the top of the roof and walls. Lift the roof sections into place and hold until set. Pipe along the top ridge to join the roof together. 
11. Decorate however you want and in theory... ta da! You will have a lovely gingerbread house! 

However, mine was not entirely successful! I managed to construct the base okay...

But once I tried to attach the roof panels everything started breaking and there was icing everywhere! This is as close to a fully constructed house as I could get... 
Ta da (ish)

I am determined to try again and make a proper house but for now I'm fairly pleased with my first attempt. Until next time... X Bo

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Homemade rustic pasties

Apologies for my lack of new posts lately. It's been crazy busy at work lately & when I've had some free time to bake I've usually made gingerbread! I made some more marble cupcakes for my friends to take to our pub quiz and I didn't think it was worth posting repeats! So, today I finally had some time spare so I made some very rustic pasties. 

For the pastry
225g plain flour
pinch of salt
100g butter, cubed
dash of water
For the filling
4 potatoes, cubed
2 onions, cubed
100g cheese, cubed

1. To make the pastry, put the flour & salt in a bowl. Use your fingertips to rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water. Use a knife to cut through the mix to form a dough. Chill until needed.
2. Par-boil the potato until soft and leave to cool. Fry the onions. 
3. Divide the pastry into 3. Roll out into circles. Assemble the pasties by putting some of the potato, onion and cheese in the middle of the pastry circle. Brush the edge with milk. Fold the top half of circle over and press down. Use a fork to secure the edge.
4. Preheat the oven to 180. Bake for 27-30 minutes until golden brown. 

Ta da! 

As I said, rustic! Hopefully I will have time to bake/post again soon, fingers crossed X Bo

Monday, 3 December 2012

Lucky gingerbread!

I made another batch of iced gingerbread stars to share with my friends at our weekly pub quiz. They went down very well and I think they were good luck as WE WON! 

It didn't take long for them to empty the tin... Well, bravo tonight chums and thank you for being my guinea pigs X Bo

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Bo goes to Oxford

This weekend I went to visit my sister Helen in Oxford. Her friend Ashton hosted a ceilidh to raise funds for his organisation, Clamour Sound Craft. I went along to help out and took some of my gingerbread stars for the refreshment table. They went down very well and sold out before I could take a picture! The dancing was great fun and the music was played live by Ashton and his band. It was a wonderful weekend and well worth all the hours spent on trains getting there.

One of the photos of Helen & I joining in the ceilidh 

To find out more about Clamour, click here  http://www.clamoursoundcraft.org/ X Bo