Gingerbread Cottage Cupcakes

Two weeks today and I’ll be basting the turkey, criss-crossing the sprouts, and getting drunk on festive spirit at the first ever hosted Christmas in our new house. I’m giddy in anticipation but need to be escorted away from my credit card and every Christmas Homeware department pronto – I’m out of control. Technically it’s an investment as we’ll be using it all for years to come, but we all know I’ll be “refreshing” with new themes next year as “Nordic Hygge” is going to be so 2016.

Gingerbread houses have adorned my Instagram and Pinterest feed over these leading weeks and I’m completely obsessed, so instead of bringing wine and flowers to a recent party, I bought Gingerbread Cottages on cupcakes.

Now don’t judge me, but although I have made these cupcakes with the real homemade gingerbread, the images seen attached are made using Lakeland’s amazing Make Your Own Gingerbread Cottage kit. It’s a long story but I needed these cupcakes baked and out for the party pronto and completely ran out of time to cut out my own templates. With no printer or cardboard at home I turned to my hero of the hour Lakeland who completely saved my bacon.

I will disclaim however how easy making your own gingerbread is, so if you fancy giving the real deal a go then see my recipe below with details on where to find a super straight forward template.

There’s no shying from the ginger with these ones so you need to be fan, however even loathers of ginger can make these and get “almost” as big a kick from the beauty of their Bavarian Cupcake village….what? I said “almost”


Makes | 12 cupcakes

Preparation time | 3 hours

Baking time | 1 hour


For the cupcakes

200g self-raising flour

200g butter, softened

200g caster sugar

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

5 drops Foodie Flavours Ginger flavouring

3 eggs

1 tbsp milk

For the Gingerbread cottages

500g plain flour

200g golden syrup

120g caster sugar

120g butter, softened

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and line a cupcake tray.

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy then add the eggs one at a time.

Drop in the ginger flavouring and in a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda and spices.

Add the flour to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined, then add the milk and stir through.

Divide the batter between all cupcake cases and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a cake tester (a tooth pick will also do) comes out clean.

Leave to cool and start on your vanilla buttercream.

Mix your butter and icing sugar together with the vanilla and mix until soft and fluffy.

Pour the buttercream into a piping bag with a swirl nozzle then pipe buttercream mounds onto each cupcake.


To make the cottages:

Begin by mixing the flour with the baking soda and leave to one side.

Heat the golden syrup, sugar and spices until melted, then add the butter and let it melt slowly into the hot mixture.

Create a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the warm mixture, combining it all together with your hands.

Knead the dough together to create a smooth dough then shape into a ball and wrap into cling film. Cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While your dough is chilling draw and cut out your templates. I found an amazing template from Sainsburys which you may also find useful.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and take your chilled dough and roll out onto a floured surface until 5mm thick.

For each cottage you need 2x Front panels, 2x side and 2 x roof. Cut round your template and lay them out onto a lined baking tray.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges, then use a palette knife to lift from the baking tray and onto the cooling rack.

Once cooled assemble your houses with royal icing and decorate as you wish.

Leave to one side for the icing to set then place a cottage on top of each cupcake with a dusting of icing sugar for good measure.

Christmas Pudding Cookies with Foodie Flavours

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So here we are, it’s 35 days till Christmas and I’ve been waiting patiently for over a week to get these out to you. The start of November may seem like a little early to be Christmas baking and while photographing these in my Kitchen liam did quite literally say “bit early for this isn’t it”, but each year Christmas literally creeps up on before I’ve had chance to pack away the decorations from the year previous so I had to give myself a head start this year.

If I had any more patience I may have been able to wait another week before publishing these, but the Cocacola advert is officially on air and well if they can start Christmas now then so can I.

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Christmas pudding is historically prepared at least 6 weeks before the big day but half my family hate it so I haven’t seen much point in making the effort even though I absolutely love it. However, when Foodie Flavours natural food flavouring sent me a box of their flavour drops including an Xmas Pudding one I couldn’t resist making my own mini Christmas Puddings in cookie form.

Now the idea was that I’d have my own batch little puddings to enjoy, but obviously Liam had a taste and decided he must actually LIKE Christmas pudding now *eye rolls* so I reluctantly shared!

Further feedback has indicated these taste better than Christmas pudding so I think I’ll claim these a triumph! Thanks Foodie Flavours!!

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Makes | 16 cookies

Preparation time | 20 minutes

Baking time | 10 minutes


100g butter

100g dark brown sugar

2 tbsp Golden syrup

1 tbsp milk

175g plain flour

2 tbsp cacao powder

2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

1 1/2 baking powder

5 drops Foodie Flavours Xmas Pudding flavouring

200g White chocolate

100g green fondant

Red cake sprinkles


Preheat the oven to 180C/160C and prepare 2 trays lined with baking paper or silicone.

In a large bowl combine the flour, cacao powder,  spices, baking powder and bicarbonate soda. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until you get breadcrumb texture. Then stir in the sugar.

Mix golden syrup with the milk until it has dissolved then add your Xmas Pudding flavouring. Add this to your flour mix and combine together with your hands to create a dough.

Break off small pieces about 7g in weight and roll into a ball. Then space them out on the trays leaving enough room for them to expand.

Bake for 10 minutes, keeping a close eye on them as they can burn quick.

Leave them on a wire rack to cool before getting on with the decoration.

For the pudding effect melt your white chocolate in a microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Let the chocolate cool a little then begin dipping half your cooled biscuits into the bowl. Tip them upside down and let the chocolate drip down slightly to create the melting effect. Leave them to one side to set.

In the meantime roll out your green fondant and using a mini leaf cutter or holly cutter if you have one cut out two leaves per cookie. If you have no cutter you can cut out triangles for a similar effect.

Stick the leaves to the top of the cookies and add a final finishing touch with two red sprinkles as the berries.

leave them all to set in the fridge or a cool room before eating.


Storage

These will store in a biscuit tin or air tight container for up to 1 week. Alternatively you can make the dough and freeze the balls then bake for 15/20 minutes.

Great British Bake Along | Mary Berry’s Jaffa Cakes

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Something happens to me when The Great British Bake off is on TV. From the Ready, Set, BAKE this bubble in the pit of my stomach begins to rise, my eyes never leave the screen and on occasions (the amount of which I’m far too embarrassed to admit) I give my own commentary on what they’re doing right and wrong… surely I can’t be the only one?

I feel the stress, I wince at the oven burn, and my heartaches when the sponge Just.Wont.Bloody.Rise. Why? Because baking is my passion and these things happen to me every god dam time I’m in the kitchen. I’m so invested in it I may as well be one of the contestants.

Hmmm one of the contestants now there’s an idea?

So as GBBO is practically going to be my life for the next 8 weeks (alongside the frantic move into my first home) I thought I would join the contestants and do a Bake Along of sorts with each week’s Technical Challenge. I can’t say I’m the only one as #JaffaCakes has been a trending topic on Instagram over the last 7 days, but if this little challenge will teach me anything it’ll be to never under estimate a technical, after all they aren’t called TECHNICAL for nothing.

If my first attempt at Mary Berry’s Jaffa Cakes is anything to go by…I’m clearly a quick learner as they are a lot more fiddly than they look.

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Disclaimer: Recipe below is by Mary Berry


Makes|12 Jaffa Cakes

Preparation time| 1 – 2 hours

Baking time| 12 minutes


130g orange jelly

150ml boiling water

Zest of 1 orange

Unsalted butter, for greasing

1 large free-range egg

25g caster sugar

25g self-raising flour

180g 70% dark chocolat


Start by breaking the jelly into pieces and place in a small bowl. Pour over the boiling water and stir until the jelly is completely dissolved. Add the orange zest, then pour into a shallow 30x20cm/12x8in tray lined in baking parchment and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4 and grease a 12-hole, shallow bun tin with butter.

For the sponge, whisk the egg and sugar together for until pale and fluffy. This is a fatless sponge so you need to create lots of air to help with the rise. For me whisking for a good 4 minutes achieved that.

Once you have the aerated mixture gently fold in the flour. Fill each well in the bun tin three-quarters full and smooth the tops. Bake for 7-9 minutes, or until well risen then leave to cool on a wire rack.

Break the chocolate into pieces then melt in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Remove the bowl from the heat and leave to cool and thicken slightly.

Turn the jelly out onto a sheet of baking parchment and cut 12 discs using a 5cm/2in round cutter. Sit one jelly disc on top of each sponge.

Spoon the cooled melted chocolate over the jelly discs. NOTE: chocolate must be cool or the jelly will begin to disintegrate. 

Using the tips of the tines of a fork or a skewer, lightly press to create a criss-cross pattern on top of the chocolate, then leave to set completely.