SmartCookieSam is Back!

It’s been a few months dear readers as I mentioned in my previous posts. But I haven’t missed out on baking, just been too pre-occupied to write my blog. I have really enjoyed what I did bake, though and thought I’d share what I’d made over the past few months. I think the piece de resistance just has to be the two cheesecakes I enjoyed making, although I have the lovely, talented Jane’s Patisserie to thank for the recipe!

My son loves my shortbread and over the summer I experimented with adding different flavours to my standard shortbread. We tried mini Twix bites for one of the recipes.

I used to love Tutti Frutti Ice Cream. Haven’t seen it around for years. So I googled recipes for ideas of what to include in it. I then used the basis of the Sugar and Crumbs’ ice cream recipe with biscotti flavoured icing sugar, different types of dried fruit and pistachio nuts. It was heaven in a bowl!

We went on holiday to Iceland in July 2019. While in a supermarket in Reykjavik I found a packet of hazelnut M&Ms, a variety I had not even seen before. I chose to bake a batch of chocolate and hazelnut sandwich cookies using the M&Ms and some Nutella sandwiched in the middle. I have never seen a batch of cookies disappear so fast!

Over the summer I joined in #TwitterBakeAlong when I could. This Lemon Curd Layer cake was one such cake I made. The icing was flavoured with Sugar and Crumbs’ Lemon Drizzle Icing Sugar and I put some Mercers of York Lemon Curd in the middle of it.

Back in August 2019 at the start of The Great British Bake Off, I joined in the first #GBBOTwitterBakealong with a Fruit cake bundt. I chose to use my Crown Bundt pan and found a lovely fruit cake recipe in a bundt recipe book I bought in Canada last year.

For Cake Week in The Great British Bake Off, the contestants were asked to bake Angel Cakes for their Technical Bake. I started off by baking the Genoise sponge in three different colours and flavours. The sponge turned out like rubber. I was so disappointed. I then decided to try again, but this time with a triple layered all-in-one sponge method cake. I thought it looked brilliant until I tried to take it to work and found it was too high to fit in my cake tin! I had to slice it up and put it on its side!

During September it was quiet for baking, although we had a bake sale at the nursery where I work. I baked some vanilla cupcakes with different sugar decorations on, such as llamas, cacti and butterflies. I also made salted caramel cupcakes and used Sugar and Crumbs’ Salted Caramel Icing sugar in my buttercream. To decorate these, I found some cute autumnal woodland animal sugar shapes.

One of my work mates was celebrating a special birthday so I chose to bring some cupcakes into work. I baked a dozen prosecco and another dozen chocolate mint cupcakes and decorated them with the appropriate flavour buttercream again using Sugar and Crumbs’ Icing Sugar. Please note: I’ve mentioned Sugar and Crumbs a lot here! I don’t work for the company, I just love their icing sugars and cocoa powders!

In October 2019 it was my daughter’s 22nd birthday! She didn’t want a birthday cake but asked for a cheesecake instead. I looked on the internet for inspiration and found a fantastic recipe on Jane’s Patisserie’s website for a Bailey’s Cheesecake. Normally I only buy Baileys at Christmas so I had to buy a bottle there and then. Thankfully Morrisons had a special offer on for a litre bottle that week. I topped the cheesecake with cream swirls, fudge pieces and some glitzy chocolate bits and golden star decorations from Cake Angels. My daughter totally loved the cheesecake.

In November I was very busy but had time to bake some Pudsey Bear themed cupcakes and cookies for our work Children In Need Bake Sale. I didn’t have enough time to colour up the icing beyond red so Pudsey looked like he did in the very beginning where his scarf just had red spots on! The cake toppers and cupcake cases I used came from Lakeland Ltd along with the cookie cutter which I have had for several years now!

In the middle of November I also got to make a giant vanilla cupcake for a birthday. The recipient loves peanut M&Ms, so I decorated the cake with those.

When I had some leftover oranges, I found a recipe in one of Mary Berry’s books for a spiced orange layer cake. I adapted this to turn it into a chocolate layer cake. This ended up going to work for my work mates to share with their tea and coffee.

I also had left over lemons to use up so again looked for inspiration from Mary Berry. I made her Lemon Drizzle Traybake recipe and topped this with a lemon glace icing. I had a go at a feather design on top of the traybake. It was a bit runny but the cakes still tasted delicious, or so I was told!

After having a glut of apples, I also looked to Mary Berry (again) and baked her Apple and Almond Dessert cake for pudding. We had it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream after our Sunday roast at the end of November. As there was only Mr SmartCookieSam and I at home to eat it, I put the rest into a box to freeze.

At the end of November, I went along to my Cake Club event in Leeds. I hadn’t been to the previous one as it was when we were away on holiday. This one was held in a sugarcraft shop and we each brought something Christmassy along. I wanted to bake with my Yule Log bundt pan so I baked a Bailey’s Yule Log Bundt using Dollybakes’ recipe. Again, another way to use up the Baileys! Instead of using melted chocolate spread for the glaze, I used a mixture of chocolate ganache and Baileys.

I was asked to bake some cupcakes by one of my neighbours but had a dozen spare. I decorated them up and gave them Christmas sugar decorations. The robin was my favourite, he’s so cute!

Into December now, and this is when I got excited to try out some new ideas. I was given a box of Celebrations and normally would trough them all straightaway. In the end I took out all the Bounty ones (not everyone likes them, but I do!) and put them all into my regular brownie recipe. I was worried they might go all mushy but they didn’t. They didn’t even make it to work as my family had the lot!

In December 2019 it was great to have time to join in #TwitterBakeAlong again, especially when the theme for that week was for ginger biscuits. My take on gingerbread biscuits was to make some mini gingerbread men and also some large lattice iced hearts. I didn’t put holes in them to hang them up on the Christmas tree: I have a greedy labrador who would happily polish off the lot!

I was due at the hairdressers and then chose to make some Toasted Marshmallow cupcakes to take along to say thankyou to all at the salon for looking after me this year. I found some cute winter themed sugar decorations which I thought paired beautifully with the silver cases and the decorations. They went down really well at the hairdressers. All I hope was that there was enough to go round all the staff!

I had more Celebrations to use up, as well as a small box of Maltesers so I decided to make it into a huge tray of Rocky Road. It went into work as one of my work mates was having a birthday. The pieces were huge so people had to cut them in half!

On the Saturday before Christmas I got cracking with some foodie presents for family. Each of my three step-sisters and their families got a box of twelve cupcakes with three different flavours in. I made Malteser flavour cupcakes, followed by Salted Caramel ones as well as some gingerbread ones.

I had a small amount of Baileys left and some condensed milk as well as some chocolate with almond pieces in. This was turned into some special Christmas fudge for my step sisters and their families by using Jane’s Patisserie’s recipe. It was so easy to make in the microwave and I was so glad I didn’t have to faff with boiling and using a sugar thermometer.

I always bake a traditional Christmas fruit cake and mine was made in the middle of November. I bought all the ingredients to decorate it when Tesco had run out of marzipan apart from some ready rolled stuff. I wasn’t impressed with it. It was too thin (I like my marzipan layer to be as thick as the icing one) and was also sticky! Thankfully once the marzipan layer was on, I left it for a day to dry a little. The three dimensional Christmas roses and holly leaf design came from one of Mitch Turner ‘s books.

My son doesn’t really like mince pies so he asked if I would bake him something else to enjoy when everyone else was having mince pies. I had a large packet of Peanut Butter M&Ms which I had bought in the Duty Free shop at Keflavik airport last summer. I was surprised they hadn’t been eaten sooner. The peanut butter and chocolate traybake came from a recipe in the Canadian book Flapper Pie And A Blue Prairie Sky by Karlynn Johnson. I had made it before with Reeses Pieces.

I was working on Christmas eve so I took two treats for my work mates to enjoy with our Christmas buffet. I made some mini Christmas Puddings. They’re usually made like tiffin and with dried fruit but I left out the dried fruit and added mini fudge pieces and sprinkles to it. They were a bit lumpy but at least I could decorate them to look a little bit like puddings.

I also wanted to bake a Mint Cheesecake and again the scrumptious recipes from Jane’s Patisserie came up trumps. I absolutely adore anything with mints in it. About half the cheesecake got eaten by my work mates at our Christmas buffet. The rest got taken home and my two children ate it for their Christmas pudding instead of a traditional one.

It’s always a tradition to have a trifle for Boxing Day in our family. Most years Mr SmartCookieSam likes to make it but this year I did. I had been lucky to win a hamper of jams and marmalade from St Dalfour a week or so back. I opened the hamper and used the strawberry jam to fill the Madeira cake for the cake layers of the trifle. I cheated and bought a ready made Madeira cake when I was in Tesco. I sliced it in half horizontally, spread the jam on and then fitted it into the bottom of my trifle dish. I layered the trifle with two cartons of ready made custard, two tins of drained fruit cocktail and then topped with lashings of whipped cream. I decorated it with different coloured cherries, almond slivers and silver balls. It was absolutely delicious.

Happy New Year to all my followers and I hope 2020 brings you much joy and happiness.

Love Sam xx