These mini rhubarb and ginger cakes are totally delicious! Lovely light cakes filled with delicious rhubarb and warmth from the ginger, topped with poached rhubarb and ginger and sprinkled with a little crumble. Perfect for any coffee morning :)Read More
I can't believe how quickly the weeks are flying towards Christmas now. It seemed like everyone was digging out their Christmas spirit so early this year and then in the midst of parties, carol concerts and the seemingly neverending activities at school over the festive period, suddenly the boys are on holiday for four weeks and we're counting down to the big day.
I had a list as long as my arm of things I was going to bake this Christmas. But then, a couple of weeks ago, we had dairy, nut and egg allergies diagnosed in the family. They're not life threatening but they kind of scuppered my plans. And although I know that I will be still be baking with dairy, eggs and nuts in the future, we're just being a little more considered and restrained right now whilst we make our lifestyle choices.
But being Christmas time, we couldn't let it go by without out little gingerbread family. Whilst these Chocolate Gingerbread Men do contain butter, the rest of the ingredients are on our okay list and we made them pretty small (with a 5cm cutter) but just big enough to decorate.
The dough is really easy to make. After the butter is creamed in a mixer, all the rest of the ingredients are added in one go and combined. This is a soft dough and needs refrigerating so once I'd made and refrigerated it, I then cut out my little army and then popped them back in the fridge until I was ready to bake them the next day. To me, biscuits baked fresh are just the best when you have friends coming to visit.
You can use any cutters you like. I have a great set from Ikea with 3D stars, Christmas tree and reindeer which are lots of fun but I gave them to some adult friends to decorate before taking any photos and their creations disappeared home with their new friends! I bought some coloured icing pens and the kids just loved decorating them. Here is our little family :)
For me, Christmas just isn't the same without gingerbread and gingerbread people are such a fun way to celebrate with friends. I haven't met a child yet (and now it seems an adult too!) that doesn't love to become an artist and bring out their inner child.
Naked or decorated, these gingerbread men are just delicious. Just the right amount of chocolate throughout and then a lovely, but not overly intense, taste of ginger. I think this makes them perfect for kids but still completely moreish for adults.
And just right to enjoy with a mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows :)
Chocolate Gingerbread Men (makes around 20 x 5cm shapes)
- 125G UNSALTED BUTTER, SOFTENED
- 100G LIGHT BROWN SUGAR
- 230G GOLDEN SYRUP
- 375G PLAIN FLOUR, SIFTED
- 1 TSP BAKING SODA, SIFTED
- 25G COCOA, SIFTED
- 2 TSP GROUND GINGER
- 1 TSP PUMPKIN SPICE (you can use allspice here but I'd start with 1/2 tsp and then add to taste)
- COLOURED ICING PENS (optional)
- Beat the butter and sugar in a mixer for at least 5 minutes until pale
- Add the golden syrup, flour, baking soda, cocoa and spices and beat on low speed until combined
- Place on a sheet of baking paper and then pop another sheet on top
- Roll out the dough until around 1/2 cm thick
- Refrigerate for at least one hour so the dough has time to firm up
- Remove from the fridge and cut out your shapes - the dough will soften and get sticky quite quickly so just pop it back into the fridge if needed to firm up for 5-10 minutes
- You can either bake your shapes now or refrigerate them again until ready
- Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees
- Bake for 12 minutes for a snap to the biscuit (a couple of minutes less if you want them a little softer)
- When you remove them from the oven, the biscuits will be soft and very fragile so you need to leave them to cool down completely before handling them
- When they're cool, it's time to have some fun and decorate them - or eat them just as they are :)
So here we are in December. Who'd have thought it would come around so quickly! It kind of snuck up on us this year. We're always one of the first to put up our Christmas tree and decorations although it seems like this year everyone's ahead of the game and had them up last weekend. But we always wait until December, so this weekend is going to be jam-packed with Christmas excitement, parties, movies and yummy festive treats :)
I have been holding on to Gingerbread Marshmallows for a good few months now. I love marshmallows, love making them and especially eating them. The home-made ones are always that extra bit squidgier inside, smoother and silkier. They are simply delicious.
I started off with a few different recipes and ended up being captivated by these yummy ones from Joy The Baker, slightly mesmerised by the chocolate and crushed gingerbread biscuits adorning them. I wasn't sure I was going to go that far (but I did) and wanted to try making little gingerbread men out of them (which I did); I then got completely carried away and decided to make little gingerbread s'mores out of them (definitely glad I did). So much fun and such a sticky mess!
So making them also gave me a fantastic workout as I ran out of glucose half-way through and then had to walk the entire local area looking for more, only to find out that all the local shops have stopped selling it. You can imagine my delight at this! But then I came home, determined to find some more in my cupboard (you know that feeling when you know something you've lost is just lurking that little bit farther into the cupboard) and lo and behold, I found one last tube. A bittersweet moment - but at least I smashed my step count for the day!
So marshmallows are super simple to make. The only downside to them is that when you make them yourself, you realise that they're not at all, even the tinsiest bit, healthy for you. But just close your eyes and will those thoughts out of your mind for the next 20 minutes!
It's important to prepare the baking tin. I use a 8 inch square tin and this makes quite thick marshmallows which are generally deeper than regular cutters - so if you want to cut them into shapes you might want to choose a bigger tin or split the marshmallows into two tins. Usually I line the tin and then lightly grease the lined paper before adding the marshmallow. Joy The Baker's recipe calls for coating the tin with oil and then a very generous layer of icing sugar, thickly applied so the sides and bottom look solid white. The marshmallow did come out fairly easily but I did have to pry the sides away which made them a little dented.
To make the marshmallow, you first put a half cup of water in a stand mixer and sprinkle the powdered gelatin on the top, leaving it for 10 minutes. When it's ready it will be a sort of yellowy sticky consistency. Meanwhile mix the caster sugar, glucose and salt in a saucepan and heat it on a medium heat until it melts. Give it a little stir. Then once the sugar is melted, turn up the heat to medium-high and leave without stirring until your thermometer reaches 240 degrees. Do keep a close eye on it and don't wander away from the stove! When the temperature is reached, turn the stand mixer onto low speed and then slowly add the sugar syrup in a long drizzle. You want to pour it in a stream somewhere between the side of the bowl and the whisk, more towards the side of the bowl if in any doubt as you must be careful the sugar doesn't hit the whisk and splatter over you - it's very hot! As you're pouring this in, gradually turn up the speed until all the sugar has been added and the mixer is working at full speed. Keep whisking for 10 minutes until the mixture has turned into a lovely white, billowy marshmallow. It looks like gooey clouds.This is the time to add your spices and vanilla. You can add whatever you like; I might be inclined to put a little less cloves in next time as that was a very prominent flavour in mine. Mix for another few minutes and then pour the marshmallow into the tin to set. If you need to smooth the surface, use a wet spatula.
After the marshmallow has set (ideally overnight) you can then decide how you want to present it. When you cut it up, either use a sharp knife that has been dipped in hot water and if you're using a cookie cutter, again pop this into hot water. Try not to get too much water all over your marshmallow as it will turn into a squidgy mess (although the upside of this is that you're compelled to eat all the messy bits then and there!)
I tried three ways: cut into regular blocks; cut into blocks and then dipped into melted chocolate and crumbled gingerbread biscuits (this was Joy The Baker's way of doing it); and then cut into little men and turned into Gingerbread Men S'mores. For the S'mores, I got a biscuit (I used a Graham's cracker but if you don't have access to these you could use, say, a gingernut biscuit istead) and heated it in the microwave for around 30 seconds - it turns soft and then working fast, you can cut it into your desired shape using a cookie cutter. So I cut my biscuit into a little man, spread him with a little dulce de leche, popped a marshmallow man on top, dipped him in chocolate and then covered him with sprinkles. Such fun! This is really your opportunity to be completely creative and make whatever you fancy.
Marshmallows are fun. Home-made ones are definitely the best. And the beauty is that there are so many different flavours with which you can experiment.
Enjoy discovering your own favourite :)
Gingerbread Marshmallows (from Joy The Baker's Bonkers Awesome Gingerbread Spiced Marshmallows)
- 1 CUP COLD WATER, SPLIT INTO 2 x 1/2 cups
- 14G POWDERED GELATIN
- 415G CASTER SUGAR
- 270G GLUCOSE
- 1/4 TSP SALT
- 2 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 1/2 TSP GROUND CINNAMON
- 1/2 TSP GROUND GINGER
- 1/4 TSP GROUND NUTMEG
- PINCH OF GROUND CLOVES
- VEGETABLE OIL TO COAT YOUR TIN
- ICING SUGAR TO COAT YOUR TIN
- Prepare your tin by coating it with vegetable oil and then cover that with icing sugar - you're looking for a thick coating so that the icing sugar looks solid white (alternatively you could line your baking tin with some greaseproof paper, lightly oiled on the inside)
- Pour 1/2 cup of water into your stand mixer and then sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the top
- Leave to stand for 10 mins
- In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar, glucose, salt and other 1/2 cup of water and heat over a medium heat until it boils giving it a mix to make sure the ingredients are dissolved
- Then using a candy thermometer, heat the mixture to 240 degrees without stirring it
- When the sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees, turn the stand mixer onto a low speed and start to pour it in a slow, steady stream into the gelatin (you're starting on a low speed so the hot mixture doesn't spatter everywhere and burn you)
- Gradually increase the speed of the mixer as you're pouring in the sugar until you're at high speed and all the sugar has been added
- Continue beating at this speed for around 10 mins until the mixture has more than doubled in size and looks like fluffy white marshmallows
- Add the vanilla extract and the spices and mix for a further 3 minutes
- Gently pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface if required with a wet spatula
- Leave to set for at least 3 hours or overnight
- When you come to cut up the marshmallow, use a hot wet knife or use a hot wet cutter to cut it into shapes
- Decorate your marshmallows as you like (some ideas are above) or enjoy them naked, just as they are :)
It started with an image of a scrummy gingerbread cake from The Boy Who Bakes on Instagram. And the fact that it's Gingerbread Month on BBC Good Food. Although I've often made Gingerbread Biscuits, I've never made a Gingerbread Cake before. So I set about to find an authentic recipe with a truly gingerbready (is that even a word?) cake - and I think I've found the one.
I played around with an old recipe from the Crabapple Bakery that was originally intended to make Gingerbread Cupcakes. I wanted to make a Stem Ginger Bundt Cake. I've had my share of challenges removing cakes from Bundt tins in the past and scoured the web for help - stay tuned for the top tips I've gathered!
So this cake is a lovely traditional gingerbread and the wonderful ginger taste comes from both stem ginger and ground ginger. Although I'm not a fan of stem ginger, the small pieces throughout give a slight crunch and lovely pop of ginger when you take a bite. The cake itself is light in texture, although it does have a slight squidginess which is ever so delicious.
So before we make the cake, let's talk Bundt Tins. Ever had a bundt cake that just wouldn't release from its tin after baking? Or perhaps it broke apart when coming out of its tin? I have. So here are my tips that I now use. First I grease the tin with butter, wiping all over the surfaces with a good coating of room temperature butter. Then I get a pastry brush and make sure that all the little cracks and crevices are well coated too. Once the tin is very well buttered, I dust the whole tin with flour. I read somewhere that you shouldn't pour your batter into the tin in one go, but fill it with cupfuls so I did that here. And a final tip that I found on Crafty Baking was that when the cake is ready to come out of the oven, soak a towel with steaming water in the sink and place the cake (tin side touching the cloth) for 10 seconds, before turning out immediately onto a cooling rack. And it works!
Now on to the cake. The batter is made in a large saucepan where we start by melting the butter, dark muscovado sugar and treacle until the butter has melted and sugar dissolved but the mixture shouldn't boil. Once they're melted together, leave to cool for 5 minutes and then add in succession (stirring well between each addition) the milk, eggs, chopped stem ginger and sifted flour mixture, taking care not to over-mix and toughen the batter. Then pour this into the tin until it's three-quarters full and bake.
When I had a finished cake turned out and cooling on the rack, I warmed a quarter cup of maple syrup and brushed that all over the outside and then dusted the cake with icing sugar. It wasn't intended to look Christmassy but it does look like a light sprinkling of snow has passed overhead. And I have to confess that after spending the last few weeks practicing my son's Christmas choir songs for his school carol service, it's already beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
This makes a really lovely, light cake and/or dessert (I'm thinking of trying it with a little ice cream later!) with fresh pops of ginger throughout.
Personally I think it's all worth it for the smell alone when it's baking in the oven - but if you love ginger, then this is sure to be a hit :)
Stem Ginger Bundt Cake (adapted from Crabapple Bakery's Ginger Lovers' Cupcakes)
- 300G UNSALTED BUTTER
- 200G DARK MUSCOVADO SUGAR
- 160G TREACLE
- 240ML SEMI-SKIMMED MILK
- 3 EGGS, BEATEN
- 1 PIECE OF STEM GINGER, CHOPPED INTO TINY PIECES
- 400G SELF-RAISING FLOUR
- 1½ TBSP GROUND GINGER
- ¼ TSP SALT
- Grease with butter and flour your bundt tin
- Preheat the oven to 150 degrees
- In a large saucepan, gently heat the butter, sugar and treacle until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved but don't let it boil
- Once the mixture is melted and well-mixed, remove from the heat and leave to one side for 5 mins
- Sieve the flour, ginger and salt into a separate bowl
- Add the milk to the saucepan and stir until well-mixed
- Then add the eggs one at a time, ensuring that all the egg is combined well with the mixture
- Stir through the stemmed ginger
- Add the flour mixture 1 cup at a time, ensuring that the flour is well incorporated and the mixture smooth but taking care not to over-mix it
- Transfer the batter to the bundt tin one cup at a time
- Bake for around 40 mins until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean
- Just before the cake is due out of the oven, soak a tea towel with steaming hot water in the sink and place the tin on top of it (tin side touching the towel) for 10 seconds
- Then turn out the cake immediately onto a cooling rack
- Leave to cool for 10 mins and then heat a quarter cup of maple syrup for 20 seconds in the microwave
- Lightly brush the outside of the cake with the syrup
- Sieve icing sugar over the top of the cake and serve on a pretty platter (Christmas look optional!!)