A Gingerbread House from the Festive BakedIn Baking Club

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As you all know, I have been a member of the BakedIn Baking Club for a while now and it never fails to impress me with the recipe each month. December’s box really really excited me! Shockingly I had never made a gingerbread house before, so as soon as I opened the box and saw an array of sweets and the recipe card I let out a little happy squeal. I had visions of Hansel and Gretel and an instant Christmassy feeling swept over me. I hadn’t been feeling particularly festive until the arrival of this box, but this really changed that!

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The box contained the recipe card, lots of different sweets, all the dry ingredients needed for the gingerbread and the icing, a butter measure, baking paper, and templates for cutting out the shapes needed to construct the house. As you can see, each packet is clearly labelled with a number. This makes following the recipe so much easier and makes it ideal to do with children. My 9 year old son Luke couldn’t wait to help me with this one! After watching some episodes of The Great British Bake Off I was a bit nervous that my gingerbread would collapse, as that seemed to be a common problem with some bakers. I needn’t have worried. Baking Club recipes are created exclusively for BakedIn by Michel Roux, so it goes without saying that they are perfect. No chance of collapse with this recipe!

Making the house with Luke was one of the highlights of the Christmas holiday. He loved decorating it most of all. The only trouble was he loved the end result so much he wouldn’t let us eat it for ages!!! Luckily it still tasted amazing when he finally agreed to breaking it up.

The house had stained glass effect windows which looked stunning when we placed a battery-operated tealight inside the house. We did originally use a little torch but the tealight looked better. Luke said it was as if there was a fire glowing inside. There might not have been a real fire but there was a definite real feeling of warmth and happiness from making this recipe. In fact, we enjoyed it so much we decided that we will make a gingerbread house every Christmas from now on. You really can’t beat the contentment that baking with your family brings.

BakedIn Baking Club is a club suitable for everyone. People who have never baked before or who are just beginning to bake will love how easy the recipes are to follow. The recipe cards have photographs of each step so you know you are on the right track. The ingredients are already weighed out for you so you don’t have to spend ages doing preparation. All the dry ingredients you will need are included so you don’t have to buy a big bag of something you might not need again for a while, meaning less waste. People who are regular bakers will enjoy being able to add the scrumptious recipes to their own repertoire.

It costs just £7.99 a month to be part of this wonderful Baking Club. That price includes postage so it is amazing value for money. If you are interested in joining it too, you can have your first box for just £4.99!

To get your first box for £4.99 click  HERE  to go to the BakedIn website and enter code TRY499 at checkout.  Happy Baking!

DISCLAIMER: I pay for my subscription and receive no compensation for writing reviews for them. All views are my own honest opinions. 

Bakedin Baking Club…. Featuring Exclusive Recipes from Michel Roux!

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August traditionally sees the start of a new series of The Great British Bake Off, and people up and down the country go baking bonkers! Everyone gets inspired to try their hand at new things, and everyone wants to be able to bake like the experts we all look up to.

One such expert we aspire to follow is the wonderful Michel Roux, known and loved worldwide as a top pastry chef and the godfather of modern cuisine.

Bakedin Baking Club is a monthly baking subscription box which sends you all the dry ingredients you need to recreate a beautiful recipe which has been exclusively developed for them by Michel Roux. Everything arrives neatly packed in a box that fits through your letterbox, and each ingredient is weighed out exactly for you and clearly labelled so there is no chance of getting it wrong. As well as the dry ingredients, you receive a very detailed recipe card which contains photographs of each stage, serving guide, and a list of any extra ingredients you will need (which only amounts to a couple of things usually), and you also receive extra bits and pieces like baking paper and skewers to check your cake is ready. They think of everything for you! August’s recipe was white chocolate and cranberry squares, so this picture shows what was included:

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It came with the detailed recipe card, caster sugar, flour, baking powder, white chocolate, cranberries, icing sugar, pistachios, a butter measure, baking paper, and a cake test skewer. Each recipe card also features a top tip from Michel Roux to go with his recipe, often a little extra way of enhancing the recipe even more. I love the fact you have the exact amount of ingredients that you need. No need to worry about how to use up the rest of a bag of an ingredient you don’t tend to use much!

I bake a lot at home but so far, each kit I have had has been for something I’ve never made before, which has been fantastic. The first one was THESE WHOOPIE PIES, and the next one was a scrumptious malt chocolate cake (picture at the end of this post). I can honestly say though that I will be making all of these recipes again as they were so delicious. August’s recipe was the lightest fluffiest cake with the most beautiful flavour. It was a massive hit in my house and disappeared very quickly! These kits aren’t the same as using a packet mix, where you just add water or egg to one powder mix. These kits are still baking from scratch, the only difference being that most of the ingredients have been weighed for you, like having your very own kitchen assistant. You still have the huge sense of achievement when you complete the bake, and anybody can do it and get fantastic results!

The fact that everything is labelled so clearly and the recipe has photographs of each stage makes these kits ideal to do with children. My 9 year old son looks forward to this box arriving just as much as I do! We love the surprise factor too, not knowing what yummy bake is lined up for us until we open the box.

So, who is this subscription box suitable for? I would recommend it to everyone! Parents wanting to spend quality time baking with their children, baking novices looking to learn some new skills and recipes, skilled bakers looking to further their recipe repertoire, and you can even buy a subscription as a gift for someone else. I love baking and have already learnt a lot from these kits. The way they tell you to melt chocolate in these recipes is brilliant! I’m not going to give that tip away on here, but it really does save a lot of mess and washing up and makes the potential of ruining the chocolate impossible, unlike other methods people use.

The Bakedin Baking Club costs just £7.99 a month, including delivery. That is an amazing price considering how much you get, including Michel Roux’s expertise!

If you would like to try it for yourself click  HERE  and you will receive your first box for the unbelievable price of just £1.99!!!! A huge £6 discount! That really is an offer too good to turn down. If you decide it’s not for you after trying it (highly unlikely though) you can cancel at any time, so you have nothing to lose. Happy baking! 🙂

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DISCLAIMER: I pay full price for my subscription and have not been asked to write a review. I truly love this Baking Club though and I believe in sharing information about companies/products/services I enjoy. Sharing is caring after all! All opinions expressed are my own. The link provided is part of Bakedin’s Referral programme, which anyone can take part in when they join too.  

Double Trouble Whoopie Pies… BakedIn Baking Club

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Last week I decided to join the BakedIn Baking Club, which is a monthly subscription box which helps you make scrumptious recipes created by the one and only Michel Roux. In the extremely unlikely event that you don’t know who that is, Michel is a world-famous pastry chef who is also known as the godfather of restaurant cuisine. That is one of the reasons I decided to try this box out. Michel Roux developed the recipes!!!

When you join this Club, every month you receive a box containing all the dry ingredients you need to make the recipe. Obviously things like eggs are hard to send in the post so you will need to provide a couple of basic ingredients yourself, namely chilled or liquid ingredients. Everything is weighed out for you so you don’t have to mess around weighing out lots of different things, and each ingredient is packed in a bag with a number on. The recipe card tells you what is in each numbered bag so you really can’t go wrong.

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One of the things that impressed me was they even send the baking paper you will need. This box contained 6 sheets of baking paper to bake with and 2 grip seal bags which you could use as piping bags for the buttercream. Little details like that make me happy. Another thing I loved was the Butter Me Up butter measurement guide.

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This card is to be used with standard 250g blocks of butter. When you position it next to the block, you can accurately measure out the correct weight of butter you need without having to weigh it! I tested this a few times and it was spot on. It also has a handy conversion guide on it. I shall be laminating this to make sure it stays in perfect condition.

All of the ingredients are listed on the inside of the box, with allergens in bold as required by law. It even gives nutritional information!

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Another thing I love about this Club is the fact they send your first box out within a day or two. With most subscription boxes you sign up, but you have to wait weeks until the first box is delivered. BakedIn understand you will be excited to get started so, no matter when you join, they send your first box straight out. All of these little details make you feel valued as a member.

My first box was Double Trouble Whoopie Pies. I had never made, or even eaten, a whoopie pie before, and if it hadn’t been for this box I probably never would have! I now know I have been seriously missing out! If I’m honest I wasn’t even entirely sure exactly what they were. I’m hanging my head in shame. If you’re unsure like I was, I would say they are a cross between a soft cookie and a cake, sandwiched together with a delicious filling. In this case, they were beautifully chocolatey with an extra hit of chocolate in the white chocolate buttercream. They tasted sooooo good. My Other Half and my son both tried one, which very quickly led to another, and another. They are ridiculously moreish, and I can see me becoming addicted to them!

The recipe card was extremely clear and easy to follow. It was a perfect way to involve my son too. He had fun finding the right pack and adding it to the mixture, and rolling the dough into ball shapes. He could really even have done this one on his own, the instructions were so well written. The card gives you baking times, preparation times, servings, skill level (this was 2 out of 5), and tells you what you will need, and what you have received in the box. There’s even a Top Tip section at the end of the recipe, written by Michel Roux.

Am I going to continue with this subscription? Definitely! Would I recommend it to others? Again, definitely! It is perfect for all skill levels, for bakers and non-bakers alike. It would make a fantastic gift too. Imagine receiving this as a housewarming present! Freshly baked goods fill a home with a wonderful aroma and so this would be perfect. The smell of chocolate lingered in my house all day after baking these!

BakedIn Baking Club costs £7.99 a month, and that includes delivery. This box cost the Club £2.57 to send. If you add on to that the cost of the packaging, then the ingredients and the little extras, and the fact you are receiving a recipe from a world famous pastry chef, I’m sure you’ll agree it is exceptional value for money.

If you are interested in joining, click HERE to receive your first box for just £1.99 including delivery, saving you £6 off the usual price! You can cancel at any time, although once you’ve tried a box I doubt cancelling will even enter your head!!

DISCLAIMER: I pay for my subscription and will continue to do so. If you join using my link though I will receive a bit of credit as part of their Referral programme, which you will also be able to take part in after you have joined should you choose to. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own, and BakedIn did not ask me to write this review. 

The Only Lemon Drizzle Cake Recipe You Will Ever Need… Cupcakes or Loaf

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Everybody loves a lemon drizzle cake. No other cake is as refreshing as a tangy lemon drizzle. My partner Del particularly loves it, as does his Mum. I’ve tried lots of different recipes to find the perfect one, and can honestly say no other comes close to Nigella Lawson’s recipe from her ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ book. I made some for Del’s mum a few years ago and she said they were so good she now can’t buy any other lemon cakes from anywhere. They are always guaranteed to put a smile on Del’s face and they are the cake that I am asked to make most of all. One lady told me that she doesn’t normally like lemon cake but she loves these. So what makes Nigella’s recipe so special? Regardless of whether you make it as cupcakes or as a loaf, the cake is so light and fluffy, deliciously tangy but sweet, and completely irresistible.

I recently made this recipe in the Nordic Ware snowflake pan and was over the moon to see it listed as a Stunning Christmas Cake on THIS WEBSITE.

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Yesterday I made it in the Nordic Ware Citrus Loaf pan and a couple of people asked for the recipe, so I thought I would put it on here.

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I wish I had come up with this recipe. It is completely foolproof, very easy to make and turns out perfectly every time. All credit to Nigella for such an amazing recipe! The recipe is for a loaf cake but I love it for cupcakes too so will put instructions for both up. Same ingredients, just different baking times. It makes one loaf cake or 12 muffin-sized cupcakes.

LEMON DRIZZLE CAKE

FOR THE CAKE

125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

175 g caster sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

175 g self raising flour, sifted

pinch of salt

4 tbsp milk

FOR THE SYRUP

juice of one and a half lemons

100 g icing sugar

FOR THE ICING GLAZE

juice of half a lemon

150 g icing sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf tin, or put cupcake cases into a 12 hole muffin tray.
  • Cream together the butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and lemon zest and beat in well.
  • Gently fold in the flour and salt until all combined, then add milk. Fold in until smooth.
  • Pour batter into loaf tin, or spoon into cupcake cases. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes for a loaf cake, or 15-20 minutes for cupcakes, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • While the cake is in the oven, prepare the syrup. Put the juice and icing sugar into a small pan and heat gently until the icing sugar has dissolved.
  • As soon as the cake is out of the oven, puncture all over with a skewer or cocktail stick. Pour the syrup over the cake while it is still in the tin. If making cupcakes,spoon 3 or 4 tsps over each cake. Leave the cake in the tin until completely cool.
  • When cool, turn out on to a serving plate. To make the icing glaze, mix the juice and icing sugar until perfectly smooth and white. Drizzle over the cake. Leave to set, then serve and enjoy!

I like to put the icing into a disposable piping bag and snip off a tiny corner and then pipe the icing on. It is very runny but gives a lovely effect and tastes wonderful.

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If making cupcakes with this recipe, there will be a lot of the icing glaze left over unless you put a thick coating on top of each cake! I tend to make 2 batches of the cakes and use the rest of the icing up on the second batch.

If you are making this recipe in a bundt tin, pour a third of the syrup over the cake while it is still in the tin. This obviously means you are pouring it over the bottom but you want most over the top. Turn the cake out of the tin after 15 minutes, and gently spoon the remaining syrup over the top while the cake is still warm, letting it absorb before adding more.

A lot of blogs have this recipe and most say the same thing… perfect every time and you don’t need to change anything about it. I hope you like it as much as we all do!

Vandotsch Speculaas Spice Mix Review – A Log Fire on a Cold Day

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I was recently sent a sample of the vandotsch speculaas spice mix to review for the brilliant My Foodie Heaven, an online magazine featuring artisan and speciality food brands and products.

Here are a couple of recipes that I made using this gorgeous spice mix:

HONEY ROASTED CARROTS

500g carrots, peeled

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp speculaas spice mix

  • Preheat your oven to 200C. Cut the carrots in half down the length from top to bottom, then in half again so you have long quartered carrots. I like to then cut them into strips about 2.5 inches long but you can leave them as they are if you prefer.
  • Mix the honey, olive oil and speculaas spice mix together and then toss the carrots well in the mixture, ensuring the carrots have a nice coating.
  • Spread the carrots out on to a shallow baking tray and roast in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through.

These are absolutely beautiful and will be a definite part of our family Christmas dinner! This recipe serves 4, or if you’re like me and can’t resist pinching a few as you are serving them up, it serves 3. Ahem!

I grew up in South Wales in a lovely little village called Ystradgynlais. It was in the days when there were lots of family friends who you were brought up to think of as relatives, but they weren’t. One such person was a lovely little old lady who we called Granny Dub (no idea why). My fondest memory of Granny Dub was going round to her house and sitting in her kitchen as she made batch after batch of Welsh cakes, and eating them while they were still warm. (In those days, the kitchen was the heart of the house, and when you visited people you sat at the kitchen table). The smell of those Welsh cakes and the melt-in-your-mouth texture has stayed with me all these years later, and I now keep her tradition of making them for my family. I used to use mixed spice or cinnamon in them but after trying them with the speculaas mix, that’s the only way I’ll make them from now on. This recipe makes a lot, so you can just half the ingredients if you prefer.

WELSH CAKES

450g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

pinch of speculaas spice mix

110g unsalted butter

110g lard

110g seedless raisins

200g caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten

  • Milk, to mix into dough

Caster sugar, to sprinkle after cooking

  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and spice mix into a large bowl.
  • Use your fingertips to rub the butter and lard into the flour mix until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the raisins and sugar until evenly distributed, then add the egg and enough milk to form a quite stiff dough.
  • Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, to a thickness of around 1cm. and use a round cutter (about 5cm wide) to cut out the cakes.
  • Cook on a greased bakestone, griddle or heavy based frying pan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
  • Remove from heat, sprinkle with caster sugar and enjoy. Delicious warm or cold but extra yummy when warm.

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Another way I enjoyed this spice mix was to make a tasty treat using the seeds from the pumpkins we carved for Halloween. I washed and dried the seeds, then mixed 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil with 2 tsp of speculaas spice mix, tossed the seeds in it, and toasted them on a baking tray in the oven at 150C for 45 minutes. To make them even yummier I mixed a tbsp brown sugar with a pinch of Speculaas mix and tossed them in there after toasting too.

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If you’re wondering what the title for this blog post is about, that is the best way I can think of to describe this amazing Spice mix. Picture the scene… it is cold, snowy and windy outside, your car broke down and you had to walk miles in this awful weather. You’re in the middle of nowhere, and have no idea how to get home. You finally come across a little country inn, open the door and get hit by the welcoming heat of an open log fire. As you sit in front of it warming up, all your worries seem to melt away and that blissful cosy feeling takes over and you could just stay there all night. Well THAT feeling is what the Speculaas spice mix gives you. Use some in a recipe, smell its beautiful aroma as it cooks, taste the explosion of warm spices as you eat, and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Heaven 🙂 You can use it in place of cinnamon in any recipe so the possibilities are endless!

If I have tempted you to try some yourself, you can buy some or read about it HERE

Let me know what recipes you use it in!

Chocolate Concrete Recipe using Food Thoughts Finest Organic Cocoa

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I was over the moon to recently be sent some Finest Organic Cocoa from Food Thoughts. I get through A LOT of cocoa in my house… chocolate cake, brownies, cookies, and did I mention chocolate cake? If I’m honest, I have never really thought about the cocoa I usually buy. Until now, that is!

I’ve heard people talk about “Dutch processed” cocoa but wasn’t really sure what that was. I’ve now discovered that it means the cocoa has been washed in a potassium carbonate solution which reduces the cocoa’s natural acidity. A lot of people say this cocoa tastes smoother. Personally I prefer the more natural taste of chocolate, and so this Food Thoughts one is perfect. It is 100% pure natural cocoa powder, unsweetened and gluten-free. Just as nature intended. Heaven!

I wanted to try it in a recipe which relies on a very chocolatey flavour, so it had to be chocolate concrete (or chocolate crunch, depending on where you live). This was easily my favourite school dinner pudding, and remains a firm favourite family pudding today. We used to have it at school served with pink custard, which I’ve since found out was actually hot pink blancmange. Who knew? A lot of people have told me that pink custard is wrong… it has to be green mint custard. Again, it seems that it depends on where you live as to how it was served. I’ll stick with the pink though! I only found out how to make chocolate concrete a few years ago, when a lovely retired dinner lady gave me the recipe. I’m eternally grateful! I have made this recipe with both Dutch processed, and with this yummy Food Thoughts natural cocoa powder. The difference in colour hit me first. Dutch processed cocoa is a lot darker than natural, where natural is a much redder shade of brown. The main picture is using Food Thoughts cocoa. The next picture uses Dutch processed:

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I prefer the natural cocoa colour. Tastewise, I again prefer the natural cocoa. For me it tastes more chocolatey and indulgent.

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CHOCOLATE CONCRETE

155g unsalted butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

30g cocoa powder

225g self-raising flour

170g granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top

  • Preheat oven to 160C. Grease a 12 x 7 inch tin with butter.
  • Mix the sugar and melted butter together, then add the flour and cocoa powder. Mix well until you have a stiff consistency and it is all well combined. Gently mix in the beaten egg.
  • Transfer the mixture to the greased tin, press down using the back of a metal spoon and flatten the mixture firmly into the tin, making sure you press the corners down well too.
  • Dip your fingers into cold water and sprinkle lightly on top of the mixture. Bake in the top half of the oven for 45 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little bit of granulated sugar. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then cut into pieces of desired size, and cool on wire racks. This will make it harden too.
  • Serve on its own or with any flavour of custard to be transported back to your childhood school dinnertimes.

If you want to try Food Thoughts Cocoa for yourself, it is only available in Sainsburys at the moment, but they will be expanding it to more supermarkets in the future. Enjoy!

I was sent this cocoa free of charge to sample and bake with. All views are my own though as honesty is always the best policy.

Chocolate and Baileys Mousse

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Do I have a treat in store for you today!! A friend gave me this recipe a long time ago and I added a bit more Baileys and a bit more chocolate to make it extra indulgent. It is very rich so you probably wouldn’t eat as much as I put in the wine glass in the picture. Obviously I wouldn’t either of course, I just put that much in to show you…erm… what a piggy portion would look like. Ok so I might have eaten that much. Alright, alright, I did! I couldn’t resist.

This is a perfect dessert for dinner parties, or just something delicious to share with friends. It has been the sweet accompaniment to quite a few girls nights in, along with the rest of the bottle of Baileys 🙂 Here is the recipe. Using the cream and yoghurt at room temperature allows the gelatine to mix in perfectly. If you use them straight out of the fridge, the gelatine will set in stringy lumps as you fold it in, as cold temperatures strengthen it. I can tell you from personal experience, that doesn’t taste nice!!

CHOCOLATE AND BAILEYS MOUSSE

2 tsp gelatine powder/granules

2 tbsp boiling water

300 ml plain Greek yoghurt, at room temperature

300 ml double cream, at room temperature

55 g caster sugar

2 eggs, separated, and at room temperature

3 tbsp Baileys

3 chocolate Flakes, crumbled roughly, plus extra to decorate if desired

  • Place the gelatine and boiling water in a small bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water in the pan. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved. Leave to cool slightly but do not let it set.
  • Pour the yoghurt, cream, sugar and egg yolks into a large bowl and whisk together until it has thickened and the whisk leaves a soft pattern in the mixture.
  • In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Very gently fold into the cream mixture with a large spoon or spatula. Use the lightest touch possible to keep as much air in as you can.
  • Add the Baileys and the Flakes, and fold in gently. Pour the gelatine into the mixture and fold in until all combined.
  • Spoon into a large serving dish or individual glasses and chill in the fridge until set. Decorate with extra chocolate or enjoy as they are.

I know what you’re thinking… you’re welcome 🙂