22 December 2012

Zumbarons: A fantasy land of macarons {review}

Prahran market, Melbourne, is well known as the food lovers market thanks to its wide selection of stalls selling fresh fruit and veg, meat, poultry, seafood, flowers, and of course, baked goods.  On this particular Saturday morning I had a deliciously crumbly twisted pastry thing with chocolate and deliciousness everywhere.  I ate it before I remembered that I wanted to take a photo of it....

Standing in one corner of the market is the store The Essential Ingredient, overflowing with wonderful cookbooks, kitchenware and food.  I spent a fair amount of time wandering around dreamily, but most people in the store were doing the same thing.  It was here that I came across the 'Zumbarons' book by Adriano Zumbo.

At the point of purchase I'd never had a Zumbaron, but plenty of macarons.  Before I went away I got really 'into' macarons and made a few batches, with success, which never made it to the blog. 

The recipes in the book range from the standard chocolate mayonnaise macaron, to the bizarre idea of a vegemite macaron.  Well set out, with plenty of pictures and lots of explaining, the recipes seem easy enough to follow but for one aspect; they require fussy specialist ingredients.  You can't just wake up and make these babies, they demand prior planning and preparation, and a nearby specialist store.  Once I've worked out where mine is, I'm definitely keen to have a go and will post my results online, before I've eaten them...

No purchase of said book would be complete without a little tasting trip to an Adriano Zumbo patisserie in Sydney.  I popped over to visit the Manly store, on Sydney's north shore.  It took me a while to find it tucked away down a side street, with only the teeny sign above the door to tell you where it was.  I think I was expecting trumpets, banners and huge signposts....

The store itself was dinky but with plenty of flavours of zumbarons to choose from, as well as various other creations I didn't pay much attention to thanks to the friendly staff who picked up on my pommy accent straight away.  I chose salted popcorn and candy cane zumbarons and happily walked off, box in hand.

Unfortunately the heat of the day took its toll on my little zumbarons, so buy the time I got to eat them they were a little worse for wear.  But still with a crisp shell and softer centre, but the fillings had gone a bit gooey.

The candy cane was filled with a minty, jelly-like frosting.  I suspect some fancy fiddling ingredients were used to make it.  Needless to say it was delicious, but not what I expected when I bit in which was a little confusing!

The popcorn macaron tasted exactly like it should - like popcorn!  But not just any popcorn; this was as delicious as the Coles organic sweet and salted popcorn that I've been known to eat by the bag.

I will almost definitely be googling where to get my fussy ingredients so I can have a go at creating some zumbarons of my own as soon as I can!

20 December 2012

Buche de Noel

The chocolate yule log is traditionally offered as an alternative to Christmas Cake.  Whilst I love Christmas Cake, I would never knowingly turn down a deliciously chocolatey yule log and very obligingly made one this year upon request.

It just happened that the day before my mum suggested we had one, I'd watched the 'Great British Bake-Off' Christmas masterclass and seen Mary Berry's rich, cream filled buche de noel.  I had to make it.

This is the second chocolate log I've made this month, but Mary Berry's offering was infinitely more delicious than its predecessor and even after stuffing myself at Christmas dinner, I have just polished off the remaining log, straight from the tupperware box.

My only problem was that despite following the icing instructions to the t, I ran out of icing halfway down piping the cake on one side so I couldn't ice over the ends as Mary does on the tv show.  I was really annoyed by this and can't work out what went wrong?  Luckily a large ornamental poinsettia was on hand to cover up the bald spot....

Mary Berry's Buche de Noel
4 large eggs
100 g caster sugar
65 g self-raising flour
40 g cocoa powder
300 ml double cream, whipped to fill

Chocolate ganache
300 ml double cream
300 g dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks

1) Preheat the oven to 200C and grease and line a swiss roll tin; sized 33x23cm.
2) To make the sponge cream the eggs and sugar until pale, light and frothy.
3) Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and carefully fold through using a cold metal spoon until just mixed; be gentle and aware that you do not beat the air from the mixture.
4) Pour into the tin and bake for 8-10 minutes.
5) Whilst the cake is in the oven, cut a piece of baking parchment bigger than the size of the sponge and dust it with icing sugar; turn out the cooked sponge onto this, and remove the paper lining the bottom of the sponge.
6) Carefully roll the sponge up tightly; cutting a 'score' 1 inch into the sponge, across the width of it allows for easier rolling.  Allow the cake to cool all rolled up.
7) To make the icing heat the cream until you can just keep your finger in it; add the chocolate, and stir well until melted and combined.  Keep this mix in the fridge to cool for at least an hour as it needs to thicken well before use.

To assemble the cake when cooled, unroll the sponge and spread the whipped cream on top; re-roll tightly.  If you want to have a branch, cut a quarter of the cake from the end at a diagonal, placing it at the side of the cake.
You can either coat the cake with a knife and decorate with a fork to make it look like a log, or pipe the icing on using a star shaped nozzle, which does look lovely!
Dust with icing sugar and eat!

Ginger Cake

At the end of November, whilst I was still in Australia, I flew up to Brisbane to spend some time with my father's side of the family who I've never met.  Its odd to meet people who share your name and ancestors but live on the other side of the world.

My great uncle Brian and I share a birthday; he turned 80 this year when I turned 25.  I arrived in Brisbane after his birthday so whilst I was staying with him and my great aunt, I wanted to make a cake, just because I could!

Brian requested a ginger cake because his mother used to make one when he was a boy and he hadn't had one since - no pressure! A look around led me to the Caked Crusader's blog and her recipe for 'Traditional Ginger Cake'. The blog of the baking superhero was one of the first baking blogs I followed when I became interested in baking , so I was pretty confident a recipe from here would be delicious!

ginger cake

One slight problem cropped up in the process however; I was shocked (not an overstatement) to discover that I couldn't get a jar of stem ginger in the supermarket in Australia. It may have been the branch I was in or this may be a national problem, but it meant no glaze for the cake and I used chopped candied ginger in the cake.  

Traditional Ginger Cake (from Caked Crusader)
225g self raising flour
4tsp ground ginger
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g unsalted butter
100g golden syrup
100g black treacle
100g light brown sugar
50g steam ginger, finely chopped
2 eggs
200ml milk

4 tbsps ginger syrup from the stem ginger jar
4 tbsps boiling water
200g icing sugar

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C and prepare a 20cm square cake tin.
2) Use the rubbing-in method to combine the dry ingredients until they have a texture like bread crumbs. You can blitz them in a food processor if you have one/are lazy/have long fingernails.
3) Heat the golden syrup, black treacle, sugar and diced ginger in a large pan over low heat until the sugar has dissolved -  there should be no visible sugar crystals. Once dissolved, raise the heat and cook for a couple more minutes before removing from the heat.
4) Carefully beat the eggs and milk into the hot syrup - being careful means be aware that the egg may scramble as the syrup is hot and that looks weird and won't taste good!
5) Beat the crumb mixture into the syrup and stir thoroughly until combined.
6) Pour into the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes.  Allow it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing - cover the cake with glazed when it is in the tin by piercing it with holes and pouring the glaze over.

We had ours sans glaze with ice cream - it lasted for over a week in tupperware!

19 November 2012

Birthday birthday birthday!!

For the past few years I've had a coffee and walnut cake as my birthday cake of choice, made by myself or my mother.  This year I fancied a change and was feeling exciting so I went for a red velvet.

I've made red velvet cupcakes from the Hummingbird bakery several times but I've never made a layer cake.  Being super fussy I knew I wanted to make a 7" cake because I like the way they look (don't ask), but the Hummingbird recipe makes a 3-layer 9" cake, larger than ideal.  I had a quick google of '7" red velvet cake' and came across Gino D'Acampo's recipe on the itv website here.  A little random, but it was delicious!

The cake came up such a vivid colour, it doesn't look like it should taste like chocolate! Traditionally, red velvet cake is iced with cream cheese frosting, but it freaks me out so I like to use white chocolate buttercream on mine.  Swiss merringue buttercream doesn't cope well in heat so I went for a delicious white chocolate buttercream I used to ice a ginger carrot cake with the recipe from Sweetapolita.

Most perplexing for me though was to have a bbq outdoors for dinner on my birthday and not have to wear a million scarves and sweaters to stay alive! 

Gino D'Acampo's Red Velvet Cake
120 g unsalted butter
300 g caster sugar
2 eggs
20 g cocoa powder
40 ml red food colouring
1 tsp vanilla extract
240 ml sour cream
300 g plain flour
pinch bicarb soda
pinch salt

1) Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and grease and line 2 x 7" cake pans.
2) Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3) Add the eggs one and a time, beating well after each addition.
4) Beat in the food colouring and vanilla extract.
5) Fold in the sour cream.
6) Sift in the dry ingredients and fold through until well combined and the mixture is smooth.
7) Split the mixture between the 2 pans and bake for 35-40 minutes - mine took 40 minutes.

The recipe on the itv website is different to the procedure I followed, but to be honest, I couldn't be bothered to faff around making it how they suggested and I don't like whisking when the dry ingredients are added so I had a fiddle and made it my own way!

White Chocolate Buttercream - taken from Sweetapolita and makes enough to cover and ice a 10" layer cake
250 g unsalted butter
175 g white chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp almond extract
pinch of salt
750 g icing sugar

1) Cream the butter until it is soft.
2) Melt chocolate in the microwave and add to the butter, with extracts and beat through.
3) Sift in icing sugar and beat well to combine.

14 November 2012

Chocolate Summer Birthday Cake

Of all the things I’ve experienced in Australia, the fact that the seasons are backwards is what has confused and thrown me the most.  For (almost) 25 years November has been cold and dreary and suddenly I am upside down and its’ November and 30 degrees and its summer.  I’m not complaining though because strawberries are in season and they are delicious.

This means that delicious fruit can feature highly in baked goods; its’ been a long time since I baked anything so I took full advantage of a friends’ well-equipped kitchen and a recently-past birthday to take to the bowl and whip up (literally) a cake! It also gave me the perfect chance to use the sweetest plate I own; reading ‘eat cake’ across the middle the plate was given to me when I was in America in June and its’ travelled with me since!

My initial proposal of making a red-velvet cake based on the birthday boy’s sock-colour of choice; red, but this idea was shot down with the tactful phrase ‘Well, it wouldn’t be my first choice...’. 
Thus the ‘Chocolate Summer Birthday Cake’ was born.  Featuring two moist chocolate sponge rounds filled with whipped cream and strawberries and topped with chocolate-fudge icing and a craftily sliced strawberry, this cake combines the best things about summer.  Sunshine is available with prior planning.

Chocolate Cake
6 oz unsalted butter
6 oz caster sugar
3 eggs
6 oz self-raising flour minus 1 tbsp
1 tbsp cocoa powder
Glug of milk

1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease and line 2 x 7” cake rounds.
2)  Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
 3) Beat in the eggs one at a time until each is well combined.
 4) Fold in the flour and cocoa powder.
5)  Spread evenly between the 2 rounds and bake for 20 minutes.

When the rounds are cool fill with whipped heavy cream and chopped strawberries to re-create my summer dream. 

Chocolate Fudge Icing (makes enough to ice and fill an 8" layer cake)
2 oz butter 
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp cocoa powder
8 oz icing sugar

Sieve the cocoa powder and icing sugar together and beat well with the remaining ingredients.
*the icing should not run or set and is delicious*

5 June 2012

Experimental Zucchini Loaf

Having spent 4 months living in what I affectionately refer to as 'The Shack', its been a while since I've flexed my baking hands.  But today, whilst staying with a friend in Sydney, I took a long walk through the suburbs and city and took in some delicious smells from the multitude of cafes and bakeries I came across and it got me thinking.

To feed my growing obsession of baking with 'things my dad grows' I popped to the supermarket and picked up a zucchini, or in the real world, a courgette (being in Australia I couldn't actually use one from Dad's garden, but the thought is there).  I have no recipes for zucchini bread but a quick search online gave me heaps to read; the one I used is a combination of a few.

The poor little guy didn't really rise much so the loaf looks a little sad, and a lot ugly.  But once I'd sliced it open and popped some in my mouth, superficial factors were forgotten.  For an ugly little thing it tastes good!  The zucchini gives a delicate flavour and moisture to the bread, and the cinnamon and walnuts 

The texture is close, which could be improved if it had risen more, but the texture is right for a tea loaf.  I do wonder if doubling the quantity would have filled the tin better; the batter barely reached halfway and doesn't have much raising agent.  But the top hasn't risen to a dome which would have made for a much more aesthetically pleasing zucchini loaf.

If I was at home I'd have made a few tweaks to the ingredients; for a start I'd have measured the tin I was using.....  I don't like using white flour for tea loaves, I'd rather have used wholemeal flour and demerara sugar along with the soft brown sugar I used today.  This is one loaf I will try again though.

Zucchini Loaf (makes 1 loaf)
1/2 lb grated zucchini
1 1/2 cups plain flour
pinch bicarb. of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 soft brown sugar
3/8 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1) Preheat oven to 180 degress
2) Combine flour, bicarb, baking soda and spices 
3) Mix egg, sugars, oil and vanilla extract
4) Add the zucchini and walnut to the dry mix
5) Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and fold gently with a tablespoon until the dry ingredients are just combined
6) Pour into the lined loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes.
7) When fully cooked allow the loaf to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and feel disappointed that its not beautiful
8) Leave it on the bench in your friend's kitchen so her boyfriend can eat it, but eat most of it yourself in the name of science and baking development.

22 January 2012

Cupcake Infographic

I saw this today on Twitter care of http://frugaldad.com/ and thought it was too good to not share!

Source: http://frugaldad.com This will be my last post in a while as I fly to Australia tomorrow, fingers crossed baking is a feasible past time there or my blog will be looking very quiet until mid-June! Byeeee

15 January 2012

Chocolate Eclairs

My friend Tom has been getting at me to make him some eclairs for quite a while now.  I offered to buy some from Waitrose today to delay his waiting time but he refused and insisted I had to make them myself, and soon because I'm going away in a week.  Luckily for Tom it's his birthday today AND  I've finished my dissertation so I've made him some birthday eclairs!

I used Raymond Blanc's recipe from his Kitchen secrets book that I found on the Guardian website - I watched the baking episode of the programme about 5 times when it was on last year and got a bit obsessed.  But this was my first time making choux pastry or eclairs.

These ones are beautiful, if slightly odd shaped, but lets just glaze over that.

As I'm practically perfect in every way, a la Mary Poppins, I never make mistakes, especially when I'm baking.  But if I had made a mistake, as unlikely as it is to happen, this might be what happened....

For the first batch, I may have added the egg before the pastry had cooled, thereby producing a pastry/scrambled egg combo.

For the second batch, the recipe confused me (in my defense it is written in a very basic way with all the important parts as footnotes, such as 'use 4 eggs' and the footnote reading 'you won't need them all'.  this is not easy to follow!!!) so I might have added too much egg, and then tried to compensate by adding extra flour.  This is what they look like when you bake them....

For the third batch they came out beautiful but there is a chance that I forgot Raymond's cheeky little tsp caster sugar until after I had added the flour.  But look, everybody makes mistakes.  I don't, but don't judge.

Filling them with cream was fun.  I broke a couple being over enthusiastic and tried to use my flavour injector to little success.

The chocolate icing isn't shiny like it should be because, I admit it, I did make a mistake here and I didn't use fondant icing like Raymond's recipe asks for.  Instead I used ready to roll stuff we had in the cupboard, I'm not sure its the right thing to use or not but it didn't look as pretty as it should but it did taste VERY SWEET, which I am a fan of.
ever hopeful wolfhound, who does actually like choux pastry

wrong thing to use?

Raymond Blanc's Eclairs
65ml water
65ml milk
55g unsalted butter
1 tsp caster sugar
pinch of sea salt
100g plain flour
3 medium eggs, beaten - Raymond's recipe asks for 4 then adds that you probably won't need them all to get the pastry to the right consistency, so I used 3 in my final batch 

- preheat the oven to 180 degress

1) Put the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt in a pan and bring to the boil.
2) Take off the heat and quickly stir in the flour until smooth - it makes a light dough
3) Return to the heat and stir for 1 minute more.
* LEAVE THE MIXTURE TO COOL BEFORE ADDING THE EGGS, scrambled egg doesn't work well in a pastry!
4) Add the beaten egg gradually and beat, always keeping an eye on the consistency: it should be of dropping consistency.  Rest for 5 minutes before using.
5) Using a piping bag and a 1.5cm nozzle, pipe 10 eclairs around 15cm long onto the baking trays and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.

To fill mine I used whipped double cream with 1 tbsp icing sugar added.  You could add melted dark chocolate, vanilla extract or coffee extract if you're feeling very fun.

Raymond Blanc's Glaze
200g fondant icing
12g cocoa powder
1-2 tsp water

1) Gently warm the fondant; to hot and it will lose it's glaze, possibly what happened to mine.
2) Stir in the cocoa powder and water until combined.
3) Dip each eclair in to cover the top; I had to use a knife to spread my topping as it was too thick to dip.

Other recipes use dark chocolate and heavy cream as a topping.

14 January 2012

Mixed nut, chocolate and jam loaf

I reached a point today where I went a bit weird.  By weird I mean, the words I was writing ceased to make sense, I got a bit twitchy (had been sitting down for hours) and I started to sing to the cat.  Shortly after this began, the cat left and I started to wonder about the state of my sanity.  Coming to the conclusion that I needed a break I took myself into the kitchen to make a mess under the guise of baking.

I have some mixed nuts in the cupboard, good sources of protein you see, and like the taste of baked nuts like in the flappy no j's I made the other day so wanted to use them in a tea loaf.  Then the weirdness came back and, as I was creaming the margarine and sugar, i decided adding jam would be fun.  I made a tea loaf from the Hummingbird Bakery book a while ago and all I really remember about it was that the jam tasted sweet and it fell apart in the tin.  So I added jam to mine, then added more when I'd mixed everything together because i panicked and it looked a bit dry.

The end result actually looks like a loaf and smells so good.  Unfortunately I had a fluff-brain moment when I set the timer and when it went off  I forgot how long I'd set it for so when I sliced the loaf it I discovered that it is slightly underbaked inside, MUST LEARN TO PAY MORE ATTENTION, expect if its my dissertation....

It does taste good though, and also like its good for you.  I love the taste of wholemeal flour so this is a winner for me, it can obviously be made with white flour but then you can't justify eating is as part of a 'healthy' diet, honestly.  The taste of the jam is very light, but is there, I did put some nutella on one slice because I couldn't resist it but the loaf itself does taste a bit nutella-esque because of the baked nuts and chocolate-combo.

Look at the nuts and seeds!! So healthy (looking).  Shame it's sort of collapsed a bit where I grabbed it so tight to slice it before it had cooled down properly

In my quest to avoid my dissertation I have adopted many tactics, varying from taking up knitting (no I haven't finished the jumper yet) to becoming obsessed with the gym.  As my dissertation is about social media I've justified spending a LOT of time on Twitter and came across the #teatimetreats challenge hosted by Kate at http://whatkatebaked.blogspot.com/ and Karen at http://lavenderandlovage.blogspot.com/ here http://lavenderandlovage.blogspot.com/2012/01/new-tea-time-treats-january-challenge.html

Nut, chocolate and jam tea loaf
75g soft light brown sugar
75g margarine
1 medium egg
2tbsp strawberry jam
225g wholemeal self-raising flour
75g mixed nuts, chopped up
probably 75g dark chocolate, chopped up roughly
I poured some seed mix from Tesco into mine because I was overexcited, just to see what it was like

- grease and line a 1lb loaf tin and preheat the oven to 180

1) Cream the butter, sugar and jam.
2) Eat some jam
3) Beat in the egg
4) Sitr in the flour and accessories
5) Eat some jam and chocolate
6) Pour into the tin and bake for longer than 30 minutes, check after 30 and guess, but do remember how long it's been in BEFORE you check it.
7) Eat it and feel virtuous
8) Wonder if you did really have time to go to the gym today and maybe you should be doing work instead of baking and blogging about it.
9) Decide it's fine, but in future, there's no need to write quite so much.....

12 January 2012

Flappy J's masqueraded as health food

As I have 10 days till I leave the chilly UK and fly to Australia, where I assume I will be wearing slightly fewer layers of clothing, I've been trying (and failing) to be healthier in my diet.  And in-line with this, I have given my flappy j's a makeover of sorts to try and justify enjoying the odd 4 as a snack, every day, twice a day.

The prunes and cheeky agave nectar in the bars make them super sweet but in a feels-good-for-you-sort-of-way, thanks very much.  They're the sort of thing you'd find in the healthy bit of a good supermarket!  But they are a bit crumbly, they did harden when I let them cool though, I'm just impatient and want to try things straight away.

I have spent some time googling 'low sugar flapjacks' instead of writing my literature review today, and the recipe I tried came from here, Delicious Magazine's website.  I didn't bother weighing anything I used but here is a vague idea of what I did to create these little beauties.

5oz some variety of spread
maybe 150g prunes (I didn't have any dates)
probably 2 tbsp apple juice
large squeeze of agave nectar
lots of oats, pour them in until it looks like there are enough
some seeds etc
mixed nuts chopped up

- grease and line a 7" square tray and preheat the oven to 180 degrees

1) melt the butter and agave nectar together
2) whizz the prunes and apple juice in a food processor - check the prunes have had their stones removed before you whizz them because the processor doesn't like it, I'm vague about whether mine had stones in or not
3) mix everything together and press into the tin
4) bake for 20 minutes until not burnt.

p.s. suggestions for a better name, somehow including 'flappy' are welcome

2 January 2012

The most beautiful gingerbread house ever. FACT

Last year I built the most ridiculous gingerbread house from a pack we had in the house.  I was supposed to make it look 'Christmassy' but instead managed to make it look like a hyperactive child had just thrown sweets at it, never mind the evil gingerbread snowman I made!  In the end, it looked horrific, mum got cross that I'd wasted it and the gingerbread itself wasn't even that tasty.

So this year I learnt my lesson and made one from scratch!  Well, I baked the gingerbread, my sister did the construction work whilst i ate icing.....and we decorated it together (my roof side was obviously better than hers, and the crazy paving was her idea...none of that kooky nonsense at my house!).

note the ridiculous patio doors and crazy paving that my sister insisted it needed.  I disagree, but I don't like licorice so I couldn't eat the doors.  Rest assured, the dolly mixture paving is long gone

By late Christmas day Geoff and I decided we could definitely manage to find space to eat house so he went for it with a large knife.....my idea was just to smash it but he wouldn't let.

10 days later the house is still standing, but in a very sorry state.  The roof was easily the best part.

The recipe came from Good to Know here http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/531199/festive-gingerbread-house, I'm still working so I won't write it here too.

1 January 2012

1 Million Gingerbread Biscuits.....

Gingerbread is arguably an all year round dietary requirement, and Christmas can only be made better by gingery goodness in many baked forms (my house was a BEAUT, post to follow) so I opted for easy-peasy gingerbread biscuits in what I thought were festive shapes.

I must admit that I got some ideas from Rosie Alyea's blog  (http://bit.ly/uBmtzO)  for icing my biscuits and for the little house shapes... they looked so cute when she used them as cake toppings!!

I made some angels and gave them little dark chocolate or icing dresses to wear.

..some houses...

...and some festive stars!

Be-Ro Gingerbread Recipe (makes 16 gingerbread people and 1 million little biscuits)
300g self-raising flour
3 tsp ground ginger
100g caster sugar
50g butter/margarine
3 tbsp golden syrup + extra to eat when no-ones looking
4 tbsp milk

+ decorations/icing/chocolate

1) Heat oven to 160 degrees and grease and line a baking tray.
2) Warm the sugar, butter and syrup in a pan till well mixed and add to the dry ingredients.
3) Add milk and mix to a firm consistency.
4) Tip out onto a floured surface and knead the dough well; roll out to desired thickness and cut into shapes.
5) Place on a baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden; when you first take them out they will be soft but they harden as they cool .
6) Once cooled, decorate and have fun.

Christmas Cupcakes

Christmas this year has been so busy for me with my dissertation due in early January so I've only just got round to posting about my festive baking a week later!  Needless to say, most of my produce is long gone but the taste for it is hanging around and hampering my traditional new year diet resolutions.....

At my mother's request, I produced a second batch of cupcakes to accompany the ginger and milk chocolate cakes I baked for our builders on the 23rd December.  She was after something a little different, but with a "Christmas twist" so after lengthy discussion (I was really avoiding working) and maybe a few spats because I hate zesting fruit, we settled on a spicy, cinnamony sponge with orange swiss meringue buttercream.

cinnamon cupcakes, christmas cupcakes

Our house has been in total uproar this year with building work but our new room was ready just in-time for Christmas and is the most festive looking room in the house, so against my mother's wishes, my baked goods made their way into the living room for their photo to be taken because its just so nice, look!

recipe to follow when I've written more of my dissertation than my blog.....