Orange and Marzipan Mince Pies You can’t have Christmas without mince pies, they are one of the first things that start appearing in the supermarket, a real sign that Christmas is approaching. Even if it is only September. A friend of mine absolutely loves them, by the time October has come around I’m sure she has eaten her way through a few dozen already. Mince Pies make perfect December baking though, delicious, Christmassy and quick and easy to make. Perfect. We have our tree up now, and it is looking rather beautiful, sitting down with a mince pie and the lights on the tree makes me feel very Christmassy (is that a word?) indeed. These mince pies are made with orange zest incorporated into the pastry dough and a disc of marzipan inside with the mincemeat. A delicious twist to your traditional mince pie! To make these mince pies you will need (makes 12): 190g plain flour 120g cold unsalted butter (cubed) 55g caster sugar 1 egg zest of 1 orange white marzipan mincemeat milk to glaze icing sugar Start by working the butter into the flour in a bowl. Rub them together with your fingertips until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Then add the sugar and stir in. Add the finely grated zest of an orange and stir in. Add the egg to the mixture and bring together to form a dough. Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and bring together to form a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill for 2 hours. Roll out the dough out to 2-3mm thick on a floured surface. Use a large pastry cutter to cut out discs and use these to line the holes in a bun tin. Use a smaller cutter to cut out discs for the top of the pies and put these to one side. Roll out the marzipan to 3mm thickness and use a small cutter to cut out discs, put a disc into the base of each pie. Top the marzipan with a teaspoon of mincemeat. Top the pies with the pastry lids using water to seal the edges of the pastry together. Finally brush with milk to glaze and pierce holes in the top to allow the steam to release. Bake for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 200C until golden brown. Remove carefully from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack. Serve dusted with icing sugar. Delicious served warm! Enjoy! Lottie xx
Lottie’s Christmas Cake
My blog has seen two Christmases now and here are some of the Christmas bakes I have posted so far: Lebkuchen – wonderful soft, spiced German biscuits. Christmas Cupcakes – decorated with snowflakes, holly, bows and glitter. Mince Pies – a Christmas favourite with cranberries. Chocolate Yule Log – a must have at Christmas. Orange Kugelhopf Cake – a German orange cake perfect for Christmas. Gingerbread house – this has to be done every year! Stollen – fruity bread with marzipan inside, a favourite this time of year.
This year I will be posting a few of my own Christmas recipes including Christmas Cake, Almond and Orange mince pies and German stollen. The first thing that has to be made though is the Christmas Cake, if you haven’t made yours yet then make sure you do very soon as you need plenty of time to feed it with alcohol before decorating it. My Christmas Cake is packed with my favourite dried fruits including raisins, apricots and figs, as well as plenty of my favourite glacé cherries. It is lightly spiced and subtly flavoured with almond extract and chopped almonds. This recipe will make one large 8 inch cake, although I split mine to make a 6 inch cake and a couple of miniature cakes to give as gifts. I will be posting soon on ways to decorate your Christmas Cake with fruit and nuts and with marzipan and icing. Now time to get baking!
For this Christmas cake you will need (makes 1 8 inch cake):
75g glace cherries halved
50g chopped dried apricots
50g chopped dried figs
50g mixed peel
7 tbsp brandy
50g chopped almonds
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
225g unsalted butter
100g light soft brown sugar
125g dark soft brown sugar
1 tbsp black treacle
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1/4 tsp almond extract
Start 12 hours before you want to bake the cake. Put all of the dried fruit including cherries and mixed peel into a large bowl and add the brandy. Mix well, cover and leave for 12 hours.
Once the fruit has been soaked you can make the cake. Preheat the oven to 140C. Grease and line a cake tin. In a large bowl whisk the butter and sugars together. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. Gently fold the flour, salt and spices in. Now add all of the fruit, along with the nuts, treacle, zest and almond extract and fold together.
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake at 140C. If you have made an 8 inch cake this will take approx 4 hours. A 6 inch cake will take approx 3 hours. Keep an eye on the cake and if it starts to brown to quickly put a double circle of greaseproof paper on top of it. The cake will be done when a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan for half an hour before removing it and leaving on a wire rack to cool.
Once the cake has cooled use a skewer to make small holes over the top of the cake, drizzle a couple of spoons of brandy over the top of the cake. Wrap it up and store in an airtight container. Keep feeding it with brandy like this every few days until you come to ice it.
Happy Christmas Baking!
Dark Chocolate and Pear Crumble Muffins
Apples and pears are definitely autumn fruits and work so well in creating delicious autumnal baking. Not the themed and traditional baking that we do in winter and not the pretty sponge cakes that we do in summer. Autumn allows you to really bake, no need to cover everything in swirls of icing or make fancy decorations, but to really use the great flavours that autumn gives us. It isn’t just pumpkins that you will see appearing in the supermarket at this time of year but lots of delicious apples and pears, and pears are just the perfect ingredient to bake with. They also pair amazingly well with chocolate, if you haven’t tried it before then give it a go. These muffins combine dark chocolate with sweet pears, topped off with a crumble.
To make these muffins you will need:
300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
150g golden caster sugar
1 egg (large)
1tsp vanilla extract
50g butter (melted)
2 pears (fresh or canned)
150g dark chocolate
For the crumble:
75g plain flour
50g caster sugar
Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar together. Break up the chocolate, saving a small amount to grate on the top of the muffins. Chop the pears into small chunks. Add the pear and chocolate to the flour and stir in. Measure 225ml in a measuring jug, add the egg, vanilla and melted butter and beat together. Add the liquid mix to the flour mixture and combine everything together without overmixing it. Line a muffin tray with 12 muffin cases or use squares of greaseproof paper. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, you will be able to get 12 muffins out of this mixture. Now make the crumble.
Combine the flour and butter for the crumble together in a small bowl using your fingers. Mix in the sugar. Top the muffins with a sprinkle of crumble and finish with some finely grated chocolate. Bake in the oven at 200C for 25-30minutes.
Now all that is left is to enjoy your lovely autumn baking!
Everybody loves lemon cake, you can’t go wrong with it. This makes it the perfect option to take to a social gathering, in this case I took this cake along to my amateur dramatic group Summer BBQ. That’s the other thing about lemon – a perfect lovely summery flavour. As it has been approaching the end of summer blackberries have been coming into season and their lovely tart sweetness pairs deliciously with the citrus zing of lemons. Sadly these weren’t berries that I picked brambling, but I can’t wait to get out brambling and make lots of delicious blackberry bakes! The use of blackberries in a lemon cake also creates a great visual contrast with the pale yellow of the lemon icing to the dark juicy whole blackberries hidden inside the cake.
To make this lemon and blackberry cake:
For the sponge:
200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
4 large eggs
200g self raising flour
zest of 2 lemons (unwaxed)
splash of milk
100ml lemon juice
100g caster sugar
Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat together until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each one. Add the flour and fold into the mix with a spatula or metal spoon. Fold in the lemon zest and 1 tbsp milk. Spoon the batter into 3 greased and lined 6 inch cake tins, dividing the mixture equally. Bake in a preheated oven at 175C for 15 to 20 minutes. Once baked leave in the tins to cool for 10 minutes before turning out to cool on wire racks. Meanwhile heat the lemon juice and sugar in a pan until the sugar has dissolved. Pierce the cakes with a skewer several times and brush the syrup over the cake, infusing it with the lovely lemon flavour. Leave to cool completely before icing.
250g unsalted butter
250g icing sugar
100g lemon curd
White ready to roll icing to make the daisies.
To make the icing put the butter (at room temp) and icing sugar in a bowl and beat well. Add the lemon curd and mix until well combined.
Use the icing to sandwich the layers of cake together, adding the whole blackberries in between the layers too. Use the remaining icing to cover the cake, giving it nice straight sides and finishing the top with a swirl.
You can use any remaining blackberries around the outside of the cake and use some fondant icing to make some daisies to finish off the top of the cake. Then you can enjoy!
And for those of you that don’t know I am very excited that I have a recipe published in the Macmillan Cancer ‘Little Book of Treats‘. You can buy it for £4 in Marks and Spencer Cafes and support a fantastic cause, it is a lovely book with lots and lots of delicious recipes inside. You could also host a Macmillan Coffee morning, for more information visit the website.
This was something new for me, croissants have been on my ‘to bake’ list for a long time but it is only very recently that I have got round to giving them a go. I am so glad I did, home made croissants are so much better than shop bought ones! I was so pleased with how they turned out. Even my sister, a true croissant connoisseur said she loved them. They may take time, they aren’t something you can just whip up, but that time that you invest in them is really worth it. When you see them puff up and crisp up in the oven and the smell of freshly baked croissants fills your kitchen, trust me, you will be filled with a sense of pride. I treated my family to a bank holiday breakfast in the garden and baked them chocolate orange croissants and raspberry almond croissants served with fresh orange juice. The recipe here is for the chocolate orange croissants. For the basic croissant dough I used Paul Hollywood‘s recipe and technique from his book How to Bake, it worked very well. Once you can make the basic dough then you can jazz them up however you want!
To make Chocolate Orange Croissants you will need:
500g strong white bread flour
80g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
300g cold unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate
3 tsp orange extract
Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add the water and combine. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is quite stiff. Put the dough in a bowl dusted with flour, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
Roll out the dough on a surface dusted with flour, to a rectangle approx 60cm by 20cm and 1cm thick. Use a rolling pin to flatten the butter out to cover a rectangle approx 40cm by 20cm (2/3rds of your croissant dough). Put the butter on top of the bottom 2/3rds of the dough. Fold the top of the dough over the butter. Cut off the rest of the butter you can see and put it on top of the folded dough. Now fold the bottom 1/3rd of dough up on top. Wrap lightly in cling film and leave the dough to chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
Take the dough out of the fridge and dust the work surface with flour. With the short end facing you roll the dough into a 60 by 20cm rectangle again. Fold the top third down and then the bottom 3rd up. Wrap loosely again and chill for another hour. Do this twice more: roll out, fold and chill for 1 hour.
Now leave the dough in the fridge overnight, you will find in the morning that it has puffed up and risen.
While your dough is chilling make the chocolate sticks for the filling. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once melted add the orange extract. Add a little at a time until you get the strength of flavour you want. Spread the chocolate out onto a piece of greaseproof paper and leave to cool overnight. In the morning cut into sticks.
In the morning roll the dough out again on a floured surface, this time to a rectangle approx 40cm by 30cm, 7mm thick. Divide the dough in 2 lengthways and cut triangles from each strip with a 12cm wide base (approx 12 triangles in total).
Take a triangle, hold down the base and pull slightly on the point to lengthen it. Put 2 chocolate sticks at the base of the triangle and roll it up. Bend the ends of the croissant in slightly. Put the rolled croissants on baking trays lined with greaseproof paper and leave at room temp for 1-2 hours to rise.
Brush the croissants with beaten egg and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Now it is finally time to enjoy them! Serve with a sprinkle of orange zest and a glass of fresh orange!
I have entered this into November’s Alpha Bakes Challenge – this month’s letter is O!
I have been busy starting work recently and loving it so far! I have however also managed to fit in lots of baking as well – macarons, cakes for BBQs, desserts for dinner parties..lots to come! Sometimes though I really just fancy baking something savoury and today is time for one of those savoury blog posts. If I want to bake something that is quick I often turn to scones, but when I fancy making a loaf of bread that is speedy then I always turn to soda bread. Ilove it, so easy to make, so delicious and you can jazz it up by adding what you like to it! In this case I opted to make a white soda bread with cheddar cheese and dried figs (something I had in my cupboard after making this fruit cake with figs!) and it really, really works – scrumptious! Try it sliced, served warm and spread with butter ….. mmmmm! Give it a try!
To make this Cheddar and Fig White Soda Bread you will need:
300g white flour
50g porridge oats
1/2 tsp bicarb
1/2 tsp salt
250ml buttermilk (or natural yogurt)
80g grated cheddar cheese
90g (approx) chopped dried figs
Mix the 250g of the flour with the oats, bicarb and salt. Rub the butter into this mixture. Add the cheese and chopped dried figs and mix in. Finally add the buttermilk and incorporate into the dry ingredients, bringing the mixture together to form a dough. If the dough is too wet then use the remaining 50g of flour until you have a dough that you can work with. Lightly dust a surface with flour and gently knead the dough to bring it together. Place on a greased baking tray and cut a deep cross on the surface of the dough using a serrated knife. This not only looks effective once it is cooked but by cutting deeply it also helps the centre of the loaf to cook. Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for approx 45 minutes.
The next step is to enjoy a slice!
Tonight is a big night in the world of baking with the return of the Great British Bake Off. Exciting! Last year I hosted a GBBO blog challenge, you can see lots of the entries here and here. Maybe I will bring it back this year!
I have entered this into November’s Tea Time Treats Challenge – dried fruits!
Lavender and Honey Macarons
My favourite place to go at the moment has to be Mayfield Lavender in Surrey. It is just gorgeous. A huge field of purple that smells divine, just driving past it everyone turns their heads. If you haven’t stopped to have a walk through the rows and rows of lavender yet then make sure you do, you won’t want to leave and I’m sure you will be back. I can’t keep away, whether I’m just admiring the beauty of the purple plants, having a walk through the planted rows, buying bunches of lavender to make my flat smell just as wonderful as the field, doing aPilates class under a tree in the field, taking photo upon photo of the lavender or sipping a refreshing glass of delicious Lavender Lemonade. In fact I think I am due another trip there! Lavender is also a wonderful ingredient to add to your baking, a lovely light floral taste. I paired the lavender with honey to make these lovely Lavender and Honey macarons. I used Surrey Honey, a delicious local honey. The macaron shells are flavoured with the dried lavender buds on the top, this is all you need to flavour them with lavender, any more and it would be too much and I used the honey in the buttercream. The result, Lavender and Honey Macarons. I’ve also included some photos from the Lavender field at the end of this post, so scroll down to see the beautiful Mayfield Lavender.
To make these lavender macarons you will need (makes approx 20):
175g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
3 large eggs (whites only)
75g caster sugar
purple food colouring (gel or paste, not liquid)
dried lavender buds
pinch of salt
To make the honey buttercream you will need:
150g icing sugar (sifted)
75g unsalted butter
2tsp runny honey
Start by preparing a tray for the macaron shells (unless you have a macaron mat!). Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Under this I slide a sheet of paper printed with 3.5cm circles, this means I can create equally sized macarons and just slide the paper out before baking. Now make the shells. Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds into a bowl, pushing the almonds through the sieve so they are fine. If you have a food processor then give them a blitz in that. In another bowl whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until the egg whites form soft peaks. Add the caster sugar a little at a time and whisk, the egg whites should turn thick and glossy. Add the food colouring, a little goes a long way. You have to add the colour before adding the dry ingredients because you don’t want to risk overmixing at that stage.
Once you have achieved your desired colour add half of the icing sugar and ground almonds and fold in using a spatula. Add the rest of the icing sugar and almonds and fold in. Don’t over mix it, you want the mixture to fall like ribbons from the spatula, not for it to be too liquid. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag, either fitted with a 1cm nozzle or with the end of the bag snipped off. Pipe small circles of mixture onto your prepared baking tray, using the printed circles as a guide. Remove the printed paper once finished. Lift the tray off the surface and drop back down from about a 15cm height 2-3 times, this helps the macarons have a good foot. Sprinkle the top of each macaron shell with a few dried lavender buds.
Leave the macarons at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes to form a skin. You should be able to lightly touch them without the mixture sticking to your finger. Bake in a preheated oven at 160C for 15 minutes and leave to cool on the tray. Now make the honey buttercream. Beat together the butter and icing sugar in a bowl until smooth, add the honey and beat well. Once the macaron shells are completely cool fill a piping bag with the buttercream and pipe a circle of buttercream onto the bottom of half of the macarons. Sandwich them together and they are ready to enjoy!
And now for some photos of the beautiful Mayfield Lavender fields:
Strawberries are everywhere at the moment, made famous by Wimbledon’s strawberries and cream, they are the perfect summer fruit. Therefore also the perfect fruit to use in your baking this summer! I can’t seem to get enough of strawberries right now but chocolate and strawberry are a perfect combination.
I finished University recently, finished 6 years of medical school and had a lovely graduation day (you can see a picture of me on my graduation day below) earlier this month at Royal Festival Hall as well as a graduation ball at the Tower of London. A fantastic end to an amazing 6 years! During my last placement I had promised my class that I would bake them something and bring it in, I made them 12 of these strawberry and chocolate cupcakes and 12 orange and lemon cupcakes and then transported them across London in my amazing 24 cupcake carrier! These cupcakes are chocolate sponge iced with a strawberry cream cheese frosting topped with a strawberry and a drizzle of melted chocolate.
For the cupcakes I based the chocolate cupcake recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook as I find this Hummingbird recipe works very well every time, it is also a lovely moist chocolate cake. I used it in my very first blog post – Black Forest Cupcakes and also for these Christmas cupcakes. This time I adjusted the measurements of the ingredients to give a slightly bigger cupcake.
To make 12 cupcakes you will need:
150g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
210g caster sugar
2.5 tsps baking powder
pinch of salt
60g unsalted butter (softened slightly)
180ml whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and butter in a bowl and beat slowly until the mixture looks sandy. You can do this with your fingers if you prefer, rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients. Whisk the milk, eggs and vanilla together and pour half of this into the flour mix in the bowl. Beat well before adding the remaining milk and egg mix and beating again until well combined. The mixture should be smooth. Pour or spoon the mixture into the prepared cupcake cakes until about two thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 180C. When they are done they should be bouncy to touch. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
To make the strawberry cream cheese frosting (I used this recently without the strawberry on some vanilla and raspberry cupcakes) you will need:
200g unsalted butter (softened)
200g cream cheese
500g icing sugar (sifted)
3 tbsp strawberry purée (made from fresh strawberries)
pink food colouring (I use the Sugarflair pastes)
Start by making the strawberry purée with a handful of fresh strawberries. There is no need to cook the strawberries first, using a food processor purée the strawberries. If you don’t have a food processor or blender just use an electric hand whisk. Once you have made a purée push it through a fine sieve to remove the little strawberry seeds that coat the strawberries on the outside.
Beat together the butter and icing sugar until well combined and then add the cream cheese and beat well. Finally add the strawberry puree and pink food colouring until you get your desired colour. If you are using the pastes, a little goes a long way. Beat well but don’t over mix or the frosting will go runny. If this happens you can add more icing sugar or you can leave the frosting in the fridge to firm up so that you can pipe it.
Now it is time to assemble the cupcakes! Use a piping bag fitted with your favourite nozzle (I used the Wilton 1M to create a Mr Whippy style swirl) to pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. Top each cake with half a strawberry and drizzle with melted chocolate. Leave the chocolate to set before serving. Enjoy some lovely fruity, summery cupcakes!
And here is a picture of me with my siblings on my graduation day, it was such a lovely day and a great way to end 6 years. Hope you like the shoes! On to the next chapter!
PS. I am entering these fruity cupcakes into this month’s Tea Time Treats and this month’s Calendar Cakes as theme for both is fruit! Tea Time Treats is hosted by Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked. Calendar Cakes is hosted by Laura Loves Cakes and Dolly Bakes.