Penguin Cupcakes

penguin cupcakes (500x339)

Didn’t I just post a penguin cake the other week?  You’re thinking.   Are you obsessed with penguins?   Should this blog be called, Searching for Penguins?

Well, it’s boring to decorate the same cake twice, but Little Miss Spice was asking to make penguins again.   I resorted to cupcakes this time.   Please help me if you have any ideas for next time.

I adapted the recipe from a previous attempt at cupcakes – lemon cupcakes.   The finished cupcakes were very tasty but quite dense – They could definitely stand up to some rough handling by my daughter as we were decorating them.  I decorated half and she decorated half.   The ones she decorated were a little more freestyle than the penguins.   When we ate them though, she liked  to eat the penguins and I ate the ones she decorated.

I haven’t made cupcakes very often and I don’t feel that this is The definitive vanilla cupcake recipe.   I’d like to make them a little lighter next time, so perhaps there will be a little more cupcake experimentation going on soon.

Ingredients – Makes 20

200g plain flour

200g caster sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

100g butter

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

150ml milk

To decorate

Ready to roll icing in white, yellow and black

Black icing pen

2tbsp jam

How to Make Penguin Cupcakes

1. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a bowl and rub the butter in with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.

2. Put the milk, eggs and vanilla extract in another bowl and whisk until combined.

3. Gradually pour the milk and egg into  the dry mixture, whisking as you pour.   Continue whisking until the mixture is smooth.

4. Pour the mixture into a measuring jug to make it easier to fill the cupcakes.

5. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake cases. Pour the cake batter into each case, filling each one about two thirds full.

6. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes at 180C.    Test with a cocktail stick to see if they are done.

7. Cool on a wire rack.

8. To decorate, put the jam in a bowl and heat in the microwave.   Brush it onto the top of the cupcakes to help the icing to stick.  Use it as a glue to then stick all the little bits of penguin on.

9. Start by putting a circle of white icing on each cupcake.  Next roll out the black icing and draw around the end of a spatula to cut out the shape of the penguin’s body. Then cut out squares for the penguin’s face and use your fingers to round the corners off. Finally, roll out the yellow icing and cut it up into little triangles to make the feet and beaks.   For the eyes, use the icing pen.  Or you could use tiny balls of black icing.

Rich Moist Chocolate Cake

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Some people like cake.   Some people prefer ice cream.   I am definitely a cake girl.  I love to eat cake, any cake, but that doesn’t mean I am always in the kitchen baking.  Despite my previous few posts all being about cake,  I actually don’t make that many cakes myself, but each time I make one, I want to make another, and with Easter upon us and chocolate on my mind, what better time to do some baking.

So of course when I was sent a few baking products and asked if I would like to make and a recipe on BakingMad.com I could hardly turn down the chance to have a go.  Baking Mad has a huge selection of all types of sweet and savoury baking recipes and you can search for exactly what you want to make, including specifying what ingredients you’d like to include and what ingredients you’d like to avoid, which is a really useful feature, unless you try to be too specific and then there are no results.  I also liked the fact that when reading through the method for the recipe there were extra tips you could click on for each stage, which is a really useful feature for anyone not at all confident at baking.

I chose to make a chocolate cake as I haven’t made one for a long time, well apart from a chocolate cheesecake, and with Easter coming up, it just felt like the right type of cake to make.  I was seduced by the name, rich moist chocolate cake.  It sounded like exactly the sort of cake I wanted to eat. It had good reviews, 4 stars and was described as easy. Perhaps most importantly, it looked good.   The recipe sounded interesting, containing marmelade, which I thought might give it a slight orange flavour, although I couldn’t actually taste it in the finished cake so I would just use any jam or preserve if I was making it again.

The cake turned out really well.  It was indeed rich and moist, as the recipe said.   I didn’t cook it for quite as long as the recipe stated as it was ready after 70 minutes, but maybe my oven was little hot.  The chocolate icing was easy to make and set to just the right consistency to cover the top of the cake easily without running down the sides.  I also used a few wafer daisies to decorate it and give it a spring/Easter look.

rich moist choc cake slice & whole (640x700)

Ingredients – Serves 10 -12 Recipe from Baking Mad

150ml sunflower oil

150ml yoghurt

5 tbsp marmalade (I used rindless)

175g unrefined dark muscovado sugar (I used Billingtons)

3 free range eggs

225g white self-raising flour (I used Allinsons)

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Icing Ingredients

175g milk chocolate, broken into pieces

50g unsalted butter

How to Make Rich Moist Chocolate Cake

1. Heat the oven up to 170C or 150C fan. Grease and line a 20cm (8inch) round cake tin.

2. Put the first 5 ingredients (oil, yoghurt, marmalade, sugar and eggs) into a food mixer and beat until well combined.

3. Sift in the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda.  Beat them into the wet mixture and stop as soon as there are no dry bits left.

4. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours but be aware of how hot your oven is.  Mine was ready sooner.

5. Let the cake cool in the tin for about 10 minutes and then turn it out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. To make the icing, either put the chocolate and butter in a bowl above a pan of boiling water or put them in the microwave and microwave for 30 seconds and then 10 seconds at a time.   Keep taking it out and stirring it until all the chocolate has melted and then leave it to cool and thicken but don’t let it harden completely.

7. When the chocolate has cooled and is a thick spreading consistency, pour it on top of the cake and use a palette knife to spread it around.

Blueberry Almond Muffins

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If you ask me what my favourite flavour of muffin is, I would say blueberry.   I also love ground almond in anything, so how could I say no to making these muffins?   They are very moist inside with a slightly crisp crunchy surface on the top, almost like the top of a brownie.   I found most of the blueberries sank to the bottom, but that really wasn’t a problem.    The only thing I would warn you about, is that they are very sweet.   If you don’t have a sweet tooth, maybe these aren’t for you.   On the other hand, if you love sweet things, you will love these, and anyway, I made them quite small, so you don’t need to feel guilty.  No, not at all, not really.

I found the recipe for the blueberry almond muffins on Jane’s Adventures in Dinner, which was my Secret Recipe Club Assignment for April.    I wasn’t surprised to read that Jane had actually worked as a chef in the past as she has so many delicious recipes on her blog and the photographs to go with the recipes are amazing too.   I could quite happily have a made all sorts of lovely dishes, but I just happened to be in a dessert mood.

Ingredients – Makes 18 small muffins

4 eggs

250g caster sugar

80ml olive oil

135g ground almonds

85g self-raising flour

200g blueberries (I used frozen)

How to Make Blueberry Almond Muffins

1. Put the eggs, oil and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until the contents turn pale.

2. Fold in the rest of the ingredients gently until just combined.

3. Spoon into the muffin cases.   Bake in the oven at 180C for 25 minutes.

4. Cool on a wire rack.

If you’d like to see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made, then click on the link below:

 

I am also linking these to Tasty Tuesdays, hosted by Honest Mum.

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Mary Berry’s American Style Chocolate Cheesecake

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I love cheesecakes.  Who doesn’t?  They are up there among my favourite desserts and I am almost unable to turn one down.   Well actually, I can’t turn down a delicious fruit cheesecake or vanilla cheesecake, especially not if it has a traditional biscuit base and some berries in some form or another with it.   But wait, this is a chocolate one.  Well, sometimes you just don’t get a choice about the type of cheesecake you make.   In fact, sometimes you don’t even get a choice of which recipe to make out of the whole book.  Or even which book to use.  I should be thankful I picked a cheesecake.

If you know Dom of Belleau Kitchen’s Random Recipe challenge then you’ll understand what I’m talking about.  This month he’s teamed up with Caroline Makes and The More Than Occasional Baker for a fantastic joint challenge where Random Recipes meets Alphabakes.  I picked Mary Berry’s Baking Bible as I felt it only fair to do some baking.   I then randomly selected the 18th item in the ‘a’ section of the index, which turned out to be American Chocolate Ripple Cheesecake, something that I knew straightaway would make my lovely husband happy, but wouldn’t have been my first choice.

I set about making the cheesecake but as I began I read the instructions and became a little doubtful about the recipe.   The list of ingredients said 1 egg but the recipe said to add the eggs one at a time.  I decided to do a little research online to check if other people had made the recipe and how many eggs they’d used.   After all, I didn’t want to ruin the whole cake.  I soon discovered that the recipe should have had 2 eggs in it.   I also discovered that most people had put over twice as much sugar in – 225g rather than 100g as my Baking Bible was telling me.   They described the cheesecake as very sweet and having a lot of sugar in it.   Now, I’m not an expert on cheesecake and how much sugar to add, but 100g of sugar to 700g of cream cheese didn’t sound like very much, especially as it contained dark chocolate which wouldn’t be so sweet anyway.  I decided to settle on a nice round 200g of sugar in the end.  I also used more biscuits in the base and upped the butter too as quite a few people said there weren’t enough biscuit crumbs to cover the base of the tin.  I was glad I had in the end as I felt I only just had enough.

The moral of the story is, you can’t always trust a bible, not even Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. On the positive side however, the cheesecake did turn out exceptionally well.   My husband loved the chocolate digestive base and the chocolate cheesecake topping was just as I wanted it to be.  It cracked on the top as it was cooling in the oven but aside from in looks in was pretty near perfect.  You may notice there’s not much of a ripple in my cheesecake. Well, I was worried I would lose the vanilla layer completely so I didn’t attempt the rippling. Maybe next time.

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Ingredients for the Base – Serves 8-10

150g plain chocolate digestive biscuits

75g butter

Ingredients for the Filling

700g cream cheese

200g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

150g chocolate

2 eggs

How to Make Mary Berry’s American Style Chocolate Cheesecake

1. Put the butter in a saucepan and heat gently to melt it.   Put the digestive biscuits in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin.   Take the pan off the heat and stir in the biscuit crumbs.

2. Press the crumbs into the bottom of a loose bottomed 20cm cake tin that has been greased.

3. Put the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave and heat gently until melted.   Keep taking it out and stirring so it doesn’t cook too much.

4. Put the cream cheese in a bowl and whisk until soft.   Add the sugar and whisk until combined.   Add the vanilla and whisk again and then the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each one.

5. Spoon about half of the mixture into the cake tin on top of the biscuit base.

6. Pour the melted chocolate into the bowl with the remainder of the cheese mixture.   Stir in well and then pour into the cake tin.

7. If you want to try and make ripples, you can use a knife to run through the mixture, swirling the two colours together.  I didn’t do this as my mixture was quite runny and I was worried I would just end up with one colour rather than the ripples I wanted.

8. Bake in the oven at 160C for an hour until the mixture is rising around the edge of the cake but still quite soft in the middle.   Turn the oven off and leave to cool in the oven.

9. When cooled, take out of the oven and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

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Banana Flavoured Turtle Cake

Turtle Cake (700x433)

This cake may look good for a beginner, although a bit amateurish if you’re an expert already, but it really is about the easiest cake you can make.   No beating of separate ingredients and then mixing together, you just throw everything in the food mixer and it’s done within a few minutes.   Ok, you do need to mash the banana with a fork first, but that should take less than a minute if the bananas are nice and soft.

I have used the same mixture and made it as a turtle but also just as a plain round cake to snack on and it really does stay lovely and moist however you choose to serve it.   It doesn’t need the icing if you’re just making it as an everyday cake for snacks.   But, because banana cakes tend to be denser than ordinary cakes, it stands up very well to being decorated, which is why it’s a great cake to consider for children’s birthdays.

You can also try and tell yourself the banana is healthy.   I’m not saying that’s not true, but in my experience, wherever cake is concerned, it’s often good to have an excuse like that lined up.   You never know when you might need it.

Ingredients

2 overripe bananas

200g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

150g sugar

150g butter, at room temperature, chopped

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

To decorate

Blue, red, green, black and white ready to roll icing

2 tbsp Jam

1-2 tbsp Icing sugar

How to Make Banana Flavoured Turtle Cake

1. Put the bananas in a bowl and mash with a fork until you get a puree.   Alternatively blend them in the food processor.

2. Put all the ingredients in a bowl or food mixer and whisk until you get a smooth batter.

3. Grease and line the cake tins.   I used a 14cm and a 21cm hemisphere cake tin but you could just use an ordinary round 20cm tin.   Put the batter in the cake tins.  Rest the tins on metal biscuit cutters so that the tins balance.    Bake in the oven at 160C for 40 minutes for the small cake and an hour for the larger one.

4. Turn out onto a metal rack to cool the cakes completely before beginning to decorate them.

5. Heat the jam the microwave so it goes runny.   Put the cakes on a cake board and brush the jam thinly over the top of the cakes.

6. Sprinkle icing sugar over the work surface.  Roll out the green icing and cover the head.  Then roll out the blue icing for the body and the feet.   Roll the red icing between your hands to make long thin sausage shapes and then make the markings on the turtle’s back, as well as the mouth.  Roll out a little white and black icing to make the eyes.   If the icing doesn’t stick, just dab a little jam on the back.

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I am also linking to Made From Pinterest and Sweet and Savoury Sundays.

Penguin Cake

My daughter has an obsession with cats and penguins.   They are her two favourite animals and if she lost her cat and penguin soft toys it would be a disaster.   Before Christmas I bought some round hemisphere cake tins with the idea of possibly making a turtle cake (one of her favourite animals at that time).   Well I still haven’t made a turtle cake, although that might change soon, but I did recently decide I could make a penguin cake and so I bought the icing to be prepared.   I told her we would make a penguin cake one day and she didn’t forget.   The next afternoon I asked her what she wanted to do and she replied, ‘Make a penguin’.   The day had come a little sooner than I expected.

We mixed up the cake batter and baked the cakes.   Unfortunately, there was no time to finish decorating them.   We had to wait until the next day.   I told here we were going to make the penguin and she went and got her little rolling pin and biscuit cutters.   While she played with some of the icing, I got on and decorated the cake.

She might not be quite 2 yet, but she was quite impressed, at least I like to think so.  She might not have liked the banana and chocolate chip bars, but she did like this cake, minus the icing.   All that work and I’m not keen on icing either so we both pull most of it off and throw it away!  The fun is in the decorating anyway.

The good thing about this recipe is that it makes quite a dense cake that is ideal for decorating and you could just use the same mixture to make a round or square cake and then cut shapes out of it.  Although it’s quite dense it is also very moist and bakes evenly from the sides right to the middle, there were no dry bits around the edge as you can get with some recipes.  It is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Buttermilk Birthday Cake and you can find the original recipe here.

I am linking this to Tea Time Treats, hosted by The Hedgecombers and Lavender and Lovage.  The theme this month is decorative cakes.   As this is my first attempt at using hemisphere pans, ready to roll icing and making a penguin cake I am linking to Mimi’s Mummy’s Blog which is hosting Our Growing Edge started by Bunny Eats Design, which is an event that encourages you to try new things. I am also linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

penguin cake (421x500)

Ingredients

250g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking  powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

100ml low fat yoghurt

100ml semi-skimmed milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs

200g caster sugar

125g butter

To decorate

3 tbsp Jam

White, black and yellow ready to roll icing

Icing sugar – to dust the rolling pin and table when rolling out the icing

How to Make a Penguin Cake

1. Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl.  Also mix the flour and milk together in a small measuring jug.

2. Soften the butter a little in the microwave or leave it out of the fridge to bring to room temperature.   Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together.

3. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat between each one.   Add a third of the flour mixture and a third of the yoghurt/milk mixture in three batches, beating after each addition.

4. Butter the inside of 2 hemisphere cake tins. I used a 14cm one and a 21cm one.   Fill each one about 2/3 full with the cake batter and put on a baking tray.   Rest each one on top of a round metal biscuit cutter so they stay still.

5. Bake the cakes in the oven at 160C.   I found the smaller one needed 25 minutes and the larger one 45 minutes.   Keep testing with a metal skewer in the middle of the cake until it comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in the cake tins for a while and then turn them out onto a metal rack to finish cooling.

6. When you are ready to start decorating, slice off the bottom of the cake  that will have risen up during baking. Heat the jam in the microwave and brush it onto the cakes where you are going to put the icing.   Cover each one completely in white icing first and then roll out the black icing and cut out the shapes you need for the rest of the head, the sides, the eyes and the wings. Finally make the beak and feet with the yellow icing.

Notes for making this cake in a standard round tin

The mixture for this cake can also be made in a 23cm round tin. Follow steps 1-3 above. Line the tin with baking paper.   Heat the oven to 180C and bake for approximately 30 minutes.   Decorate any way you like.

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Individual Blueberry Upside Down Chocolate Cakes

I’ve found a new dessert to fall in love with this week – blueberry upside down chocolate cakes.   I made 4 and I’ve eaten 2 and I just know that I am going to be making them again and again.   There are not many puddings like that.   Oh I’ve had lots of nice puddings and desserts, but however tasty they are, the challenge of making something I’ve never made before usually wins out over making something again, especially as I can easily go quite a few weeks without making anything sweet at all.   Along with chocolate fondants and crème brûlée, these puddings are not going to become one of the ones that gets forgotten about in a few weeks.   I promise you I will be making them again.

I was searching for ideas for an upside down cake when I came across the recipe on Foodess and I knew straightaway that here was a recipe that just had to be made.   I adapted them a little and changed the fruit from raspberries to blueberries and also converted the quantities into grams.  There is a lot of cocoa as well as chocolate in the cake mixture which gives the cakes a very dark rich chocolaty taste, but because of the blueberries they are also very sweet, moist and jammy.   We had them served warm with ice-cream the first day and then just reheated the two that were left over for a minute in the microwave and they were just as good. You could use any berries for these and another time I would love to try them with raspberries as they were in the original recipe.

But, coming back to the idea of upside down cakes, I have two lovely upside down cake recipes that I have made more than once, blackberry upside down cake and banana upside down cake, but as Alphabakes, hosted by The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, has the letter, U this month, I wanted to try another variation and that’s what led me to this recipe.

Blueberry chocolate upside down cake (500x390)

Ingredients – Serves 4

2 cups blueberries, either fresh or frozen ones that have been defrosted and drained of excess liquid

140g + 8 tsp soft brown sugar

60g butter

55g dark chocolate

85g plain flour

65g cocoa powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 egg yolks

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

160ml buttermilk

How to Make Blueberry Upside Down Chocolate Cakes

1. Butter the insides of 4 ramekins.   Sprinkle 2 tsp of sugar in the bottom of each one and then divide the blueberries between them.

2. Melt the chocolate, either in a bowl above some hot water or in the microwave.   Put it aside to cool.

3. Put the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl and give them a quick stir.

4. Put the butter and 140g of sugar in another bowl and beat until it starts to go pale and fluffy.   Then beat in the egg yolks, vanilla extract and  chocolate.

5. Tip a third of the flour mixture into the sugar and butter and beat together.   Add half the buttermilk and beat.   Add half the remaining flour.   Beat again.   Add the rest of the buttermilk.   Beat.  Finally add the remaining flour and beat the mixture for a couple of minutes.

6. Divide the mixture between the 4 ramekins.   Bake in the oven at 175C for 25-30 minutes.   Test with a skewer to see when they are done.

7. Put the ramekins on a wire rack to cool a little before turning them out.  Serve warm with ice-cream or cream.

blueberry chocolate upside down cake in ramekins (500x327) (2)

 

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Chocolate Caramel Whoopie Pies

I don’t think I’d ever had a whoopie pie until making these ones.   I wasn’t even sure exactly what they were meant to be like, apart from knowing what they looked like.   Even so, I’d heard of them and seen them online and they were one of those things I’d always thought I’d like to try one day, both eating and making.   I was therefore delighted when I picked them for this month’s Random Recipes and We Should Cocoa.

This month Dom at Belleau Kitchen is teaming up with Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog and so we had to pick a book that would have some chocolate recipes in and then randomly pick one of the chocolate recipes.   I chose Le Cookie by Mickael Benichou and then my mum picked number 11 which turned out to be Made-in-France Whoopies.  Salted caramel is apparently a local speciality in Brittany, where the chef who designed them comes from, but as I don’t like salted caramel and feel it completely ruins a good caramel, my ones are not salted.   I therefore couldn’t really call them Made-in-France whoopies any more and have just stuck with chocolate caramel whoopies, which describes them perfectly.   However, if you do like salted caramel, then just use salted butter instead of unsalted.

My whoopie pies are nowhere near as pretty as the ones in the book.  The mixture should have made 30 shells and 15 whole whoopie pies.   I only managed to get 16 shells and 8 whole whoopie pies out of it.   They were big and slightly uneven, but still tasted good.  The filling would also be great in a macaron and if I had to choose to make these or macarons I would probably choose macarons next time, but I definitely wouldn’t say no to having these again.

I’m also linking these to the Biscuit Barrel Challenge at I’d Much Rather Bake Than… The theme this month is chocolate. I am also linking to Angela’s homestead for Shine a Spotlight Saturday.

whoopie pie chocolate caramel (500x420)

Ingredients – Made 8 for me but the recipe said 15

6 eggs, separated

170g sugar

130g plain flour

40g cocoa powder

Ingredients for the filling

100ml single cream

100g chewy toffees + extra to decorate with

25g butter (I used unsalted.  Use salted if you want a salted caramel filling)

200g mascarpone

How to Make Chocolate Caramel Whoopie Pies

1. Put the egg whites and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until they form stiff peaks.

2. Beat the egg yolks with a fork to break them up and then fold them into the egg white mixture.

3. Sift the flour and cocoa into the bowl and fold in as well.

4. Line the baking trays with baking parchment.   I needed 4 trays and baked in 2 batches.

5. Put the mixture in a piping bag and pipe onto the baking trays, leaving about 4cm between each pie. Alternatively just use a spoon to spoon the mixture onto the trays.

6. Bake at 190C for 12 minutes.   Let the whoopie pies cool on the baking trays.

7. Start making the mascarpone caramel cream filling while the whoopie pies are baking.  Put the cream in a saucepan and heat it up.  As soon as bubbles start to form.   Add the caramels.   Let them melt into the cream, stirring gently.   As soon as they have melted, add the butter and let it also melt in.   Stir till it is smooth and then put it in a bowl.   Leave to cool a little and then put it in the fridge to cool completely.

8. When the caramel cream has completely cooled, beat in the mascarpone.   Spoon the cream onto half of the whoopie pie shell.  Add some chopped up caramels and then sandwich together with another whoopie pie shell.

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Banana and Chocolate Chip Bars

Just when I’m getting more tired would like to rest more before the next baby comes along, Little Miss Spice has decided that afternoon naps are no longer her thing.   She’s also become quite bossy, ‘Mummy sit down’, pointing at the floor next to her, ”Mummy read book’ and if she sees me with my apron on, she knows it means I won’t be giving her my full attention and starts pulling at it, demanding that I, ‘Take it off’.    Unless of course it means we are making biscuits together.   She’s very picky but she does love star-shaped biscuits and cereal bars.  Usually we make the biscuits together but we buy the cereal bars, I decided it was time to try and make some bars together, not quite as healthy as the ones she usually has, but I thought it would be a nice treat for her and for me.

I based the recipe on a recipe I found in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible in the Baking for Children chapter, but used different quantities of ingredients and different types of sugar and flour.   I thought they were lovely and sweet and gooey in the middle from the banana, and the few chocolate chips on the top went really well.   I would definitely make them again and make double the quantity.   If only…   If only Little Miss Spice had liked them. Well, the nearest she has got so far to trying them is licking one, although she did enjoy playing with the mixture and helping to make them.   Never mind.   I shouldn’t complain that she doesn’t want to eat something with sugar and chocolate in it.   I’m sure in a couple of years time I’ll be wishing she didn’t like sweet things like this.  Although hopefully by then she will agree to eat a few vegetables too.

I am linking these to Treat Petite, hosted by Cakeyboi and also The Baking Explorer.   The theme is baking for loved ones.  I am also linking to Family Foodies, hosted by Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash.   The theme is love and although my daughter didn’t really take to these, she had fun helping to make them.   Finally I am linking to Teatime Treats, hosted by Lavender and Lovage and The Hedgecombers  The theme is chocolate.

banana and chocolate chip bar2 (500x337)

Ingredients – Makes about 12 small bars

75g white self-raising flour

20g wholemeal flour

75g porridge oats

75g golden caster sugar

110g room-temperature butter, cubed

1 ripe banana

30g chocolate chips

How to Make Banana and Chocolate Chip Bars

1. Put the flour, oats and sugar in a bowl and mix together.   Add the butter and rub together with your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs.

2. Grease and line the bottom of a loose-bottomed square baking tin (18cm).  Add about 2/3 of the mixture and press it down with your fingers.

3. Slice the bananas and lay them on the oat mixture.   Top with the rest of the mixture and press down again.   Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.

4. Bake in the oven at 180C for about 25 minutes. Let them cool in the tin but run the knife through to slice them into squares while they are still warm.

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Mince Pies

So, it’s only November but I am already posting my second Christmas recipe.  Until trying these I would have said I wasn’t really that keen on mince pies.   I would eat a few every Christmas but I wouldn’t look forward to them and I wouldn’t miss them if they weren’t there.   I wouldn’t buy them, although until now, I wouldn’t have made them either.

So, what’s changed?   Well, Little Miss Spice loves play dough and she loves to make star shapes with it.   As I hadn’t done any actual baking with her, I decided that letting her cut out the tops of the mince pies would be a perfect way to introduce her to some real baking.

I chose a recipe called unbelievably easy mince pies from BBC Good Food.   Partly because of the word ‘easy’ and partly as it said the dough was very forgiving and could be thrown around a lot and would still make great biscuity pastry.   Well, maybe a less shortbready dough would have been easier.   The dough takes a lot of work to actually come together and form a dough.   I did think it wasn’t going to work as it kept just crumbling apart but eventually it did and it was definitely worth it.   The pastry is sweet and buttery and tastes like shortbread.   I even made little biscuits with the leftover dough and they were lovely just eaten as they were.  I wouldn’t call these unbelievably easy, but they were incredibly delicious.   So delicious that I will be making a few more batches and putting in the freezer for over Christmas, which means there’s still no need to go out and buy any mince pies.

If you wanted these to look a little bit more special for guests you could dust them with icing sugar, but I found them to be perfect just like this.   They are already quite sweet and rich and looking at the picture, they tasted much better than I’ve managed to make them look.

I am linking this to Bookmarked Recipes hosted by Tinned Tomatoes and the Biscuit Barrel Challenge hosted by I’d Much Rather Bake Than…

Mince pies (500x353)

Ingredients – Makes 18

350g plain flour

225g butter

Pinch of salt

100g sugar

350g mincemeat

How to Make Mince Pies

1. Chop the butter up and then rub it into the floor with your fingertips.   Add the salt and sugar and mix together.

2. Using your hands, press, knead and combine the pastry into a ball without adding any extra liquid.   Although it will keep crumbling up at first it will form a dough after a few minutes.  Just don’t give up.

3. Wrap the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest until you need it or go straight to step 4.

4. Pull off lumps of the dough and place them in the muffin tin.   Just use your thumb and fingers to press the dough down and line the tins.

5. Add a couple of teaspoons of mincemeat to each pie.

6. Roll or press the remaining pastry down and use pastry cutters to make the tops of the pies.  If you have any extra pastry left, just cut out shapes with the pastry cutters to make little shortbread biscuits.

7. Bake in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes.   If you have any extra biscuits they will cook in about 8 – 12 minutes, depending on how thick they are.