Thursday, 29 April 2010

Vanilla sugar cookies

I've read loads of recipes for sugar cookies so was looking forward to making my own. I actually made these initially for a friends baby shower and have just remembered that I have a batch of dough in the freezer which I need to use - (the mixture makes quite a lot of cookies). I cut out templates but next time will probably just use a standard cookie cutter / round. These went down pretty well at the shower
I tried some different toppings - rolled fondant, running icing and a thicker royal icing. Next time I think I might try dipping them in some chocolate !

• 200g unsalted butter , at room temperature

• 150g caster sugar

• 2 tsp vanilla extract

• 1 egg

• 300g plain flour , sifted

Preparation and cooking times

Ready in 1 hour

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, or use a large bowl with a hand-held electric beater. Beat in the vanilla and egg, then add the flour. Beat until smooth, remove from the bowl bringing the dough together then half and shape into discs. Wrap with clingfilm and chill for about 40 minutes until firm. Heat oven to 180/fan 160C/gas 4.

Dust the work top with flour and roll out one portion of dough to 3mm thick. Cut stars or other shapes with cutters.

Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick baking paper and lift the cookies onto it using a palette knife. Chill for 10 minutes and then bake for 10-12 minutes until just turning golden at the edges. Cool on a baking rack. When cool ice or decorate as desired.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Carrot cake

Carrot cake reminds me of visits to garden centres and I used to love it when I was younger - particularly the ones with a thick layer of buttercream frosting in the middle and on the top.
I initially tried to make a cream cheese butter frosting but - note to self - don't use low fat cream cheese as it curdles and doesn't make for tasty icing! - I quickly resorted to butter cream icing which went down a treat - although I was a little too eager to spread it on the cake and next time I'll leave the cake to cool a little first.
I baked this in my loaf pan but next time think it might be nice to try a round cake.

I got loads of compliments for this including "the best carrot cake I've ever had!" - high praise indeed!

Serves 12


180g (6½ oz) self-raising flour

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

½ tsp mixed spice

2 eggs

120 ml vegetable or sunflower oil

175g (6 oz) soft light or dark brown sugar

225g grated carrots

100g (4 oz) sultanas

Butter cream icing
75g (3 oz) softened butter

125g (4½ oz) icing sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

A few tbsp milk
You will need a 13cm x 23cm (5 in x 9 in) loaf tin, oil and line the loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas mark 2. Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl and leave aside. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, now add the oil, brown sugar, grated carrot and sultanas. Stir in all sifted dry ingredients and bring the mixture together with a wooden spoon. Turn into the prepared tin, smooth the top of the mixture and bake in the oven for 1 – 1¼ hours – middle shelf or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make The Buttercream frosting:

Beat the butter in a bowl until smooth; add the vanilla extract, slowly add the icing sugar and add a little milk to make a smooth icing. Using a palette knife, spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cooled cake. Served cut into slices.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Rolo Brownies

I’ve never tried baking brownies before and have read various recipes some of which use cocoa only and other made with chocolate. I usually prefer milk chocolate so used this for the brownies but I think if I was to make these again I’d try dark to give a richer taste.

My mum enjoyed these brownies hot with melted Nutella and ice cream while I think they tasted better the next day when they were more firm. Either way I think they turned out pretty well for my first attempt at brownies!
I’ll definitely be trying more traybakes in the future!

Rolo Brownies (makes 12)

150g (5oz) luxury Belgian plain chocolate (I used green and blacks milk and Cadburys but next time would try a dark chocolate)
110g (4oz) unsalted butter
225g (8oz) caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
75g (30z) plain flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
12 rolos / slices of mini chocolate bars or Mars celebrations*

A baking tin – roughly 25.5 x 16 x 2.5cm (10 x 6 ½ x 1in), greased and lined with greaseproof paper

Preheat the oven to 170ºC, 325ºF.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Allow to cool slightly.
Whisk the sugar, vanilla and the eggs until combined, add the melted chocolate and butter mixture and mix until smooth.

Sift over the flour, baking powder and stir to combine.
Pour into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Place the Rolos/ chocolate pieces at even intervals in the batter so that when you cut each brownies will contain a piece. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 30 – 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out with a moist crumb. Cool then cut into 12 pieces.

* I used a combination of Rolos and slices of Mars Bar. I actually placed half the mixture in the tin then added the chocolates then topped with remaining mixture. The Rolos seemed to sink slightly to the bottom of the brownies and a few of the Mars ones sank.

Product Review - Milka Daim

Milka Daim - 45g , 240 cals per bar

Apparently this bar has been around for a while in the 100g format but has just hit the shelves in the new 45g format. On first looks this appears quite a substantial bar and when opening you get the lovely sweet smell of milka chocolate which is broken into 6 chunks. The chunks are a lot deeper than those from the 100g bar format and the crunchy sweet daim complements the milka chocolate brillantly. Each bite was very satisfying – a definite must try for milka and daim fans.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Dorset Cereals Chocolate Granola with Macademia Nuts

Calories – 263 per 40g serving with 125ml milk

Being a huge cereal lover I’m not sure why I’ve not tried a lot of the Dorset cereals. I think the main reason is that a lot of them tend to have nuts in the cereal mix which I’m not totally keen on unless they can’t be detected in the taste.

I do however like my granolas and the idea of a chocolate version sounded pretty delicious and reminded me that I must get back to eating one of my old breakfast cereal favourites – The Marks and Spencer Triple Chocolate Crunch.
Anyway, I couldn’t track down the Dorset granola in any of my local supermarkets but with a bit of luck I won a competition from Dorset which included 3 boxes of each of the chocolate & macadamia nuts and the chocolate with coconut version.

The chocolate taste from this Granola is pretty intense and this is no surprise given that it uses dark chocolate along with oats, sunflower seeds and barley flakes. It’s really very good although for my liking there was slightly too many nuts (although I did manage to pick some of the larger pieces out). I did find it a little heavy going though and thought that it tasted best when mixed with other slightly lighter cereals. Its also pretty high in calories and tastes almost dessert like but overall I’d say this is a pretty tasty breakfast option.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Sultana Fruit Cake recipe

This recipe was my first attempt at making a fruit cake in my newly purchased loaf pan. It’s really easy to make and turned pretty good. My gran loved it and it also freezes really well once cooled. It actually tastes better a few days later and becomes easier to slice.

1 egg
1 cup of sugar (light brown used about 150g)
1 cup of water (about 210ml)
2 cups of sultanas (200g)

2 cups of self raising flour (just less than this about 200g)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

3 oz butter/margarine

Preheat oven to 160 degrees – lightly grease the loaf tin with butter or low fat spray.
In a large saucepan bring to the boil over a medium heat the sultanas, water, sugar, butter and spices. This should take about 5 minutes until bubbling.
Leave to cool until lukewarm then add the lightly beaten egg, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and flour.

Mix well then add to prepared loaf pan. Bake in the oven for 45 – 60 minutes or until a skewer/ knife comes out clean (probably takes about 50 minutes).Cover and store for a few days before serving – wrap in foil or airtight container.
Can also be served with butter, jam or Nutella – Yum ! Yum !

Please bear with me on the photograph front  - I'm going to try learn how to take better photos!

Sunday, 18 April 2010


Hello and welcome my first official post. Let me introduce myself - I'm a 20 something living in Scotland.
Over the last few years I've become a bit obsessed with reading other peoples blogs and have finally got round to starting my own.
I've always been a pretty creative person and have my own website where you can view my handmade cards / work.  I'm a keen vegetarian and have recently become something of an amateur baker and hope to share my efforts with you as I try new technques and ideas. I also love finding new products and hope to share my views. A bit of a dreamer I hope to one day have my own business - perhaps a small cafe with homebaking which sells handmade gifts.
I welcome all comments and look forward to joining the blogging community.