Amazing Cakes #29: Fondant Fancies

When you hear the name Fondant Fancies you immediately think of Mr Kipling’s yellow, chocolate and pink creations. Or if you live in Yorkshire like me, you might have even tasted the delectable version which Betty’s creates. I must admit I find Fondant Fancies too sweet and sickly, even though I’ve got a sweet tooth. The other week I met my friend at Betty’s and while she had a Fondant Fancy, I tucked into a Fat Rascal! Her Fondant Fancy looked so pretty though, with the icing and delicate pink flowers.

Last Thursday and Friday were my main baking days for SmartCookieSam as I had had my Mum up here visiting. I had an afternoon tea order as well as some brownies and shortbread to go out to customers. I thought of what I could maybe offer as an option on my afternoon teas and Fondant Fancies came into my head. Although I don’t really like eating them, there are plenty of people who do.

For Fondant Fancies you start off by baking a square shaped sponge cake. I did this in one of my square tins I use for my brownies, etc. It was a simple sponge, delicately flavoured with lemon.

As soon as I started baking, I realised I had not got any marzipan in. I only tend to have marzipan in around Christmas for my Christmas cakes and also at Easter for Simnel Cake. I’d been to do my shop the day before and completely forgot. Luckily later on that day I was heading out to the post office to ship my brownies and shortbread and the village shop it was attached to has a wonderful array of baking products. Phew!

After the sponge came out of the oven and I was home after my post office run, I removed the sponge from the tin. It had to be cooled but it was so hot in my kitchen that nothing was cooling down.

To the sponge I added a layer of apricot jam and then a layer of the marzipan on the top. The marzipan was very sticky to work with and my hands felt so hot. I had to dust the surfaces very thickly with icing sugar to stop the marzipan from sticking to it when I was rolling it out. I then put it on top of the sponge and trimmed round the edges of it.

The next job was to make up a batch of buttercream. This buttercream needed to be put in the fridge to harden up slightly but this didn’t work because as soon as I got it out of the fridge it became runny again.

The sponge cake was then cut into 16 equal squares and on top of each square I put a blob of buttercream. This blob is to create the little hump you get in the middle of a traditional fondant fancy.

Of course when you are tired, you misread recipes. This one being a complicated recipe with zillions of steps should have been read carefully and I didn’t. I was meant to put the cakes into the fridge to harden up again for 20 minutes but I didn’t. This then made the next steps more tricky. I had to crumb coat each of the four sides of the fondant fancies with the rest of the buttercream. This was very awkward. How do you hold the blinking things and ensure that they are all covered without getting your hands covered in more buttercream?

Now for another complicated part. The recipe asked for roll out fondant icing or sugar paste which to make runny you have to put in a mixer with water to make it runny. I felt this made it extremely messy and didn’t give the effect I wanted. I wondered whether I should have bought some fondant icing sugar instead and coloured it with food colouring. I started off trying to colour the pink icing first. It took ages to get even a hint of pink with the food colouring I have at the moment (a mixed box of Wilton food colours, which to be honest I’m not a fan of, compared to the likes of Sugarflair, etc.) The cakes from not been hard enough through not being in the fridge, were difficult to hold and the icing just went everywhere. It was meant to pour over the cakes but it didn’t. It was too thick despite me following how much water to add to the icing. I tried spreading it with a small pallette knife but that made it even messier!

Then I tried to colour the rest of the icing yellow. Unfortunately the yellow in my food colouring set doesn’t bring the icing out a deliciate pastel yellow, it came out as this flourescent, lurid yellow like you would have on a high-viz vest! You’d be able to spot it from the International Space Station. By this time I had given up caring and so long as I’d got the bloody things iced and all the stuff cleared up, I didn’t care what colour it was.

Finally, I used some left over lemon drizzle icing for the pink fondant fancies which seemed to pipe on ok through my plastic bottle. But the melted chocolate was having none of it and just wouldn’t go through the hole. It just clogged up the whole time.

There’s a couple of lessons to be learned here: Don’t make Fondant Fancies when you are short of time or are tired. Always read the recipe and use ready made fondant icing sugar, not sugarpaste watered down.

I did taste one of the Fondant Fancies and it was sooooooo sickly sweet. Not my favourite bake to eat or to make, I’m afraid.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #28: Mint Chocolate Roulade

Baking roulades and Swiss Rolls always fills me with dread. They look fiddly and messy whenever I make them and the filling never looks neat when I roll them up. Or the actual sponge cracks so much.

Roulades are usually made without flour and fat and are whisked sponges baked in a flat rectangular cake tin. I have a new Swiss Roll tin but it gets used for all manner of things including roast potatoes. Before using it for cakes, I make sure it has been cleaned carefully and I always line it with baking parchment. With this cake being flour free, it is also gluten free.

Last Sunday I had my mum visiting for a few days and planned a roast chicken dinner followed by a dessert. Now it’s usually just Mr S and I at home on a Sunday (our daughter is at work and our son is at uni), we don’t usually do roasts for ourselves. I thought having my mum to stay was the perfect excuse to have a roast as well as a pudding after!

The Chocolate Roulade as featured in The Great British Bake Off Book Of Amazing Cakes looked stunning, yet fairly quick to bake. However, looking in my baking cupboard I didn’t have any plain/ dark chocolate left. I did have two bars of mint chocolate which I love. Whenever we go up to the Isle of Arran on holiday I buy bars of Mackies chocolate in the Co-op there. Where I live in North Yorkshire, you can get Mackies icet cream but not the chocolate. Mint is just one of the best flavours out there, I love it! So a Chocolate Mint Roulade it had to be, then!

First things first was to prepare the Swiss Roll tin for baking. As I said before, it was cleaned carefully as I didn’t want residues of olive oil on it from the last time I used it. Then I lined it with some baking paper. At the same time I also cut out another sheet of baking paper to use to help me roll up the roulade later.

I then melted the mint chocolate in the microwave carefully. The recipe said to do this on the stove in a bowl over simmering water, but I find it easier to do in a microwave if I do it in small stages. Then, in my KitchenAid I whisked egg yolks and caster sugar together until the mixture had turned into a thick type mousse.

As the eggs had had to be separated, in another bowl I whisked up the egg whites. They had to be whisked up until they were stiff peaks. These egg whites were then folded into the whisked yolks and sugar mixture. Finally I folded in some cocoa powder.

When the roulade was ready, I put it on a wire rack to cool down but left it in the tin until it was completely cool to move it. I still managed to make it crack as I got it out of the tin. Using the spare piece of baking parchment sprinkled with a little icing sugar, I turned the roulade out onto it upside down. I then filled it with whipped cream. As I kept doing this, the roulade started cracking. The instructions said that it was normal for it to crack. But the recipe book photo didn’t have the massive cracks that mine did! Upon looking at the roulade from above, it resembled a giant long poo! Tasted amazing though, and I sneaked a couple of off cuts!

The complete mixture was then poured into the tin and spread carefully so that it touched each corner of the tin. I then baked it in my fan oven at 160oC for roughly just over 20 minutes.

A recipe I think I will bake again as it was quite quick to make. I just need to work on the good old presentation.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #26: Spanish Lemon Meringue Cake.

Helena Garcia’s Spanish Lemon Meringue Cake. Recipe from The Great British Bake Off Book of Amazing Cakes.

It has been a very difficult few weeks in our family following our recent bereavement. Blogging had been going by the wayside for a while anyway as work in school and baking for SmartCookieSam’s online business has been occupying a lot of my time. It is a shame as I love trying out new recipes.

We had a family BBQ one Sunday and although when it is hot I don’t really bother with a pudding or cake. It’s just too much effort. But a recipe in the Great British Bake Off Book Of Amazing Cakes caught my eye. In the 2019 series, the lovely Helena Garcia baked a gorgeous sounding Spanish Lemon Meringue Cake which was a childhood family favourite which her grandmother used to make. It has a digestive biscuit base like a cheesecake, a filling made of condensed milk, lemon juice and egg yolks. Then topped with meringue and a final sprinkling of crushed digestive biscuits. I thought it would be perfect to serve with berries and was an ideal summer dessert.

I was a little bit rushed by the time I wanted to start the cake. We had been over to the coast for a walk on the beach with the dog and we got back later than planned. This was down to Mr S losing his glasses on the beach so we had to go back and retrace our steps while he looked for them. They must’ve got swept out to sea. So by the time we got home, it was well into the afternoon with not much time left before the BBQ was going to be started.

I got out the cake tin I needed; a 20cm springform one and got it greased and lined. When that was done, I crushed the digestive biscuits up. I couldn’t be bothered to get my food processor out so I crushed the biscuits by hand by putting them in a clear plastic freezer bag and banging them to crumbs with the end of a rolling pin. When that was done, I melted some butter and mixed it together with the crushed digestives, save for two spare tablespoonfuls which were reserved for the top of the cake to decorate it. The rest formed the base of the cake which got pressed into the tin.

Now to work on the filling. The filling was a simple mix of lemon juice, egg yolks and condensed milk mixed together and then poured on the top of the base. Then onto the topping: I used the egg whites used after separating the yolks out to make the filling as well as some caster sugar to make the meringue. I whipped the egg whites up until the meringues formed stiff peaks and then folded in the caster sugar bit by bit. The meringue was then spooned onto the top of the cake. For a final touch the remaining digestive crumbs were spooned in the tin before baking.

The oven had been preheated since I had started getting the ingredients together and I put the cake in the oven for roughly about 25 minutes. After about this time it came out of the oven and was left to cool in the tin for 30 minutes. I found that my cake cracked slightly and that it looked a bit unappetising but that didn’t put us off it.

I’m pleased to say the cake went down extremely well and a couple of family members even had seconds. One even picked at the crumbs off it! There were some leftovers for the next day (I sneaked a piece when I got in from work!)

I think that the Lemon Meringue Cake would work well with other flavours, such as lime and ginger or coconut. I might test this out in the coming weeks, so watch this space!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam! xx

Amazing Cakes #20: Vegan Marble Cake

It’s been about three weeks since I baked this cake.  I wanted to try out another recipe from The Big Book of Amazing Cakes but not to make anything which would be time consuming and fiddly to do. I wanted something which would double up like a pudding with a scoop of ice cream.

Looking through the book, I found a perfect recipe for a Vegan Marble Cake in the Free From chapter.  This would work out perfectly for me as I had a lot of dairy free spread to use up and was very low on eggs before going to the supermarket.  Although I am not vegan, I try out lots of vegan recipes and both my children have lactose intolerance so we have oat milk in the house. To be honest I have been trying to cut down on dairy too recently and I now have oat milk in my porridge and coffee.  Just wish I could manage it in my tea. 

Baking the Vegan Marble Cake was a good excuse to get out one of my Nordicware bundt pans.  The accompanying illustration to the recipe shows the cake baked in the Jubilee pan which is pretty but I chose my Harlequin one instead to make a change. 

The cake was simple to make.  I had to put soya milk mixed together with a spoonful of apple cider vinegar in a jug and left for a few minutes to curdle or react.  But I chose to use oat milk instead as we didn’t have soya.  No idea whether this made a difference or not!

I then beat together some caster sugar, the dairy free spread and some vanilla extract with my hand held mixer.  The curdled oat milk got added to it followed by some sifted self raising flour and some baking powder. 



After this was all mixed together, I got another bowl out and put about one third of the mixture into it.  To this I added some cocoa powder. 

The recipe suggested using two separate piping bags and piping both the vanilla and chocolate mixtures into the tin carefully.  I didn’t want to waste two of my piping bags so I just spooned the mixture into the bundt tin instead.  I guess it didn’t look as neat but the marble effect was still there!

The cake went into the oven at 180oC fan but I was concerned at the baking time.  Most times when I bake using my bundt pans, the cakes tend to take about 45 minutes to an hour.  This recipe stated 25 minutes. I checked the cake after 25 minutes and it was still raw in places! I ended up keeping it in the oven for 45 minutes.  I wonder if anyone else has had this happen to them if they have baked the recipe?



We were far too full to eat cake after our Sunday roast so I cut the cake up and put it into a tin.  It got eaten over the next week and was a real pick me up with a cup of tea or coffee when I fancied the munchies getting in from work.

I’ll definitely bake this again.

Happy Baking!
Love Sam xx

Chocolate Drip Cake: Amazing Cakes #12

It was my daughter’s birthday back in October. It had been a strange couple of weeks for us and her birthday coincided with her last day of self isolation. I had originally planned her cake for her weeks ago and had bought ingredients and the decorations well in advance. Had I known, I wouldn’t have baked such an extravagant and massive cake!

I’ve seen lots of these fancy drip cakes around and although I bake lots of cakes it has been a while since I have made any celebration cakes. Making a drip cake is something I’d always wanted to have a go at but never had chance to do. So even though my daughter said “Don’t make me a massive cake, Mum!”, what did her mother do? Make a massive cake!

I looked at the recipe for the Chocolate Drip Cake in the Great British Bake Off book Amazing Cakes to help me for quantities, etc and I adapted it to suit the ingredients I had at home at the time. The original recipe has two layers each of chocolate sponge and also of a brown butter sponge! As the brown butter sponge used a whole packet of butter which I didn’t have enough of, I chose to make this one as a Vanilla sponge but bake both sponges using Stork instead. I had a whole tub of Stork which needed using up and only enough butter for the buttercream. Also I chose to adapt the decorations. My friend Amy had bought me a tub of Cake Decor Chocolate Mirror Glaze icing in a tub which I had not used before and I thought it would be perfect on the top of the cake for the drip. Instead of homemade chocolate shards, I used Lindt Dor Salted Caramel Truffles and some honeycomb pieces. For the buttercream icing, I had to use a mixture of plain Tate and Lyle Icing Sugar with a packet of Sugar and Crumbs’ Honeycomb flavour icing sugar as I didn’t have enough plain for all the buttercream. So the chocolate cake ended up being a chocolate, salted caramel and honeycomb flavour cake!

On Sunday morning, the morning of my daughter’s actual birthday I baked the sponges and made up the buttercream. This did not take long. It wasn’t until later when I had to assemble the cake that the panic started. I see so many perfect cakes on the internet where the buttercream is so smooth. I can never get mine like that. You can also bet your bottom dollar that the moment you start piping or something is the exact moment when Mr S comes in the kitchen and wants to get something out of that very cupboard right where you are working! This time he came in asking for a cup of tea! (fit eyeroll emoji in here!)

It was as I was assembling the cake that I realised how big it actually was and why I needed 500g butter and 1kg of icing sugar in the buttercream. It also contains 200g dark chocolate and double cream which was made into a ganache and then whipped into the butter and icing sugar. Assembling the cake was fine and I put it on my larger Cath Kidston cake stand. Once it was assembled, I gave the cake a crumb coat and put it to chill in the fridge for an hour. While it was chilling I made the cup of tea and tried to clean up as best as I could.

Another coat of buttercream went on and then I spent ages smoothing it with my cake smoother before melting the pot of chocolate glaze gently in the microwave. I have seen people use plastic bottles with nozzles on for piping on the chocolate drip but I chose to use a piping bag to help me. The chocolate glaze was slightly too thick really and some of the drips didn’t look as neat as others. Once the chocolate was on then I put on the Lindt balls and sprinkled the honeycomb pieces in the middle. The finishing touch was some gold Happy Birthday lettering.

I was very pleased and proud of the cake and my daughter loved it which was the main thing. Since she has gone back to work she has taken it to share with her work mates and they enjoyed it too.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Chocolate Mocha Latte Cake

As I mentioned in my previous post Lemon Cupcakes, I was baking a couple of treats to take back into work for our first day of re-opening after lockdown.  To go along with the lemon cupcakes, I wanted to make a whole cake in a contrasting flavour.

I thought about a nice, classic Coffee and Walnut Cake but being as my workplace is a nursery I didn’t want to take anything with nuts in. Instead I found half a packet of Sugar and Crumbs Toffee Mocha icing sugar left over from when I made ice cream with it back in May.  This, I thought would go perfectly with a coffee flavoured sponge.

I also had some chocolate sprinkles which would make a perfect alternative decoration to either walnuts or coffee cocoa beans.

CHOCOLATE MOCHA LATTE CAKE

You will need two 18cm/ 7″ diameter loose bottom sandwich tins which are greased and lined.

Ingredients;
1 tbsp espresso coffee powder dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water and mixed to a paste
175g Stork or softened, unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
175g self raising flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder, sifted
3 large, free range eggs

For the icing:
100g softened butter
250g Sugar and Crumbs Toffee Mocha Icing sugar
4 tbsp hot water

Chocolate decorations or sprinkles

  • Grease and line the two sandwich tins.  I use pre-cut baking parchment circles bought from Lakeland as a shortcut!
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180oC/ 160oC fan/ 350oF / Gas Mark 4.
  • Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until well combined.
  • Spoon carefully into the tins ensuring you have an equal quantity of mixture in each tin.
  • Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  The cake is done if it springs back when touched.
  • Let the cakes cool in the tins for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • While the cake is cooling, make up the icing.
  • Whisk the butter until light and fluffy.  Add the icing sugar bit by bit, then add in the water. You should get a spreading consistency.
  • Spread half the mixture on top of one of the cakes. Put the other cake on top of it, then spread the remaining icing on the top of that. Decorate the top with the chocolate sprinkles.


Happy Baking!
Love Sam xx

 

Mickey Mouse Cupcakes and Cookies.

On Tuesday night I met up with a few of my friends over in Meanwood, Leeds at a fantastic new bar called Boot and Rally. We held a cake club event in the bar’s snug which was a great space with the perfect atmosphere. Since The Clandestine Cake Club folded in July last year we have continued to meet up.

The cake club events are slightly different to the Clandestine Cake Club ones in that we are not limited to only bringing a whole cake to cut into and share. We can bring anything we like linked to the theme be it sweet or savoury or cookies or any other bake. As my first love in baking has always been cookies I enjoy doing this. This month’s theme was Mickey Mouse’s Birthday as the Disney legend is celebrating his 90th birthday this year!

Things didn’t quite go to plan when I started baking on Tuesday afternoon. I only had a limited time to bake as I had been to have my nails done in the morning and then had to fit it all in before a hospital appointment on the way over to Cake club. My original plan was to bake a chocolate Bundt cake cut in half turned upright and made to look like Mickey Mouse’s head. The cake would be covered in a chocolate ganache made from Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate spread and Mickey’s ears would be made from Oreo cookies. I would use the leftover chocolate spread as the filling for some shortbread biscuits with Mickey Mouse heads cut out in the middle.

When I started to get the ingredients out of the cupboard and fridge to start the baking I had a nasty shock. I opened the jar of chocolate spread to find three quarters of it had gone! I was so upset and angry as the only person who knew it was there was my eighteen year old son. He had been at home from work on Monday when I was working so he had obviously helped himself to it! He knew it was for my cake club cake as he saw it when I was putting the shopping away after Tesco had delivered it last Friday. It’s not the sort of thing Mr SmartCookieSam eats and my daughter is away at uni. It wasn’t me and it definitely wasn’t the dog!

So after this nasty surprise, what to do now? I looked in the cupboards and was so glad to see that I still had cocoa powder and other ingredients for cupcakes as well as some mini Oreos. For the cookies, I thought maybe I could use jam inside instead. However, I didn’t have much jam left, only honey and marmalade. Or I could hardly give my friends biscuits sandwiched together with Branston Pickle or Colman’s Mustard. I had half a jar of Peach Bellini jam left but only just enough for a few biscuits.

The shortbread cookies are a simple recipe with only four ingredients: unsalted butter, caster sugar, plain flour and an egg combined together and then chilled in the fridge for half an hour. When ready to roll, I rolled out eighteen circles and put them well spaced apart on three lined baking trays. On nine of the circles I used a small Mickey Mouse head shaped cutter to stamp out the shape in the centre of the circle. These were then baked in the oven on 160oC (fan) for about 10-12 minutes. My oven is being really inaccurate at the moment and I noticed two cookies burnt on the right hand side. One of them also snapped when I lifted it off the tray. Well that one went straight in the bin. It turned out that there were only 7 out of 9 which were ok to use. Then another one broke. It definitely wasn’t my day!

So the cupcakes had to work out better. There wasn’t enough filling in the biscuits for the chocolate spread to be used or in the ganache of a whole cake for that matter so it ended up flavouring some chocolate buttercream in some cookies and cream cupcakes with mini Oreo cookies for Mickey Mouse ears sticking up.

I used about 12 mini cookies crumbled up and stirred into the cupcake batter which was a simple chocolate one. I baked the cupcakes in some blue cases with stars in which reminded me of Mickey Mouse’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice Hat from Fantasia.

The chocolate buttercream was made with 100g melted plain chocolate and the only quarter jar of chocolate spread which was left along with icing sugar, butter and some milk. The result was quite a creamy and rich buttercream.

All finished with about half an hour spare to clean up the kitchen, tidy up, get changed, box up the cupcakes and cookies and get to the hospital for my appointment in time.

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Coffee Cake

It’s my husband’s birthday today. It’s always very difficult when there’s a birthday during the week. How do some people manage to have the day off when it’s their birthday, I don’t know. It never works out that way for me. The same goes for my hubby. We celebrated over the weekend by going out for a meal and being treated to a tour of a local craft brewery and vineyard. Yesterday we gave him his birthday presents and I baked him a cake. Mr SmartCookieSam doesn’t have a sweet tooth but he likes fruit cake, carrot cake and coffee cake. This year I chose to make him a coffee cake as I had some Coffee Nut M&Ms as well as a tub of chocolate covered coffee beans to use up.

Yesterday I had a helper in the kitchen- my mum! She had come up to stay for the weekend and offered to do the washing up! She loves baking herself, when she gets chance.

I bought these Coffee Nut M&Ms when I was in Canada last September. I’ve not seen this flavour before and thought they would be great to bake with. I actually bought two packs but the fairies had been at them and I could only find one packet in the cupboard! Funny how my son said they tasted disgusting so it must’ve been him who troughed them!

To get the coffee flavour in the cake I had to mix two tablespoonfuls of coffee powder with a tablespoonful of water. This made a great paste.

I use the all in one method for my sponges wherever possible so I put all the ingredients into the mixing bowl at the same time. I used Pure Dairy Free Baking Spread as it makes really light sponges, caster sugar, self raising flour, baking powder and free range eggs.

I had to buy a new electric mixer before Christmas and it got another outing this afternoon beating the sponge mixture together.

I then folded in the coffee paste so that it was evenly blended. Then the cake mixture was ready to be divided between two greased and lined sandwich cake tins. I used 20cm/ 8″ diameter ones. My mum had very kindly greased the tins for me. I use ready made parchment circles as they are so much less faff than drawing round the tin and cutting out the circles from a roll of baking parchment. Once the cakes had been divided equally between the tins they went straight into the oven and baked for 20-25 minutes at 160oC.

The M&Ms and chocolate covered cocoa beans I used to decorate the top of the cake with.

To prepare the coffee buttercream for the cake I needed some butter but it was a bit hard despite being out of the fridge for a couple of hours. I cut the butter up into cubes and gave it a quick blast in the microwave for about 20 seconds to take the edge off it.

Here are the finished cakes cooling on the rack. One of them had slightly cracked on it as I had poked the top of them to check if they had been cooked and whether the sponge bounced back when touched. At that time it didn’t, until I had put it back in the oven for another five minutes!

Making the buttercream was simple in that the butter was creamed first, then milk and some more coffee paste was added. Finally I carefully added some icing sugar bit by bit to the mixture. It still didn’t stop the puffs of icing sugar clouds descending all over the work top!

The cake was decorated simply by spreading half the coffee buttercream on the top of one of the cakes and then putting the second one on top. The remainder of the top was spread on the cake with a pallette knife. To finish off I put the coffee M&Ms and cocoa beans around the edge of the cake.

Mr SmartCookieSam had some champagne bottle candles on his cake. Very fitting as we had been to a vineyard tour the day before.

We lit the candles and had a piece of birthday cake with a cup of tea yesterday afternoon. The cake was delicious and there was plenty left over for Mr SmartCookieSam to take to work the next day.

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

The Great British Bake Off Christmas- Jamaican Gingerbread Loaf.

4th December 2017.

Today being a Monday I really struggled to get out of bed this morning. I’d had a good night’s sleep until something woke me up at 4.30am. That was it, I was wide awake for an hour. The alarm was due to go off at 6am but of course I drifted back off to sleep just as I’d got back into the land of Nod! Then, could I get myself moving? Course I couldn’t. I’m not a morning person at the best of times. There’s only one type of work that would get me out of bed early and that’s when I’m baking! It doesn’t seem like work to me when you’re in the kitchen with music playing in the background.

But needs must. I love being a teacher though some mornings I wish I could be beamed direct from my house to the school I’m at, especially with the horrendous traffic congestion I have round near where I live. This morning was no exception. My journey to school should have taken me 35 minutes. It took me nearer 50.

Back home this afternoon I got out the mixing bowl and scales to test out another recipe from The Great British Bake Off Christmas. I love the spicy aroma of gingerbread at any time of the year but Christmas definitely lends itself to these flavours. I was really keen to try out the Jamaican Gingerbread loaf which was a perfect way of using up some treacle left over in a tin after baking some Parkin and also putting it in my Christmas cake. The loaf is an ideal bake to have as a standby, say if you have people popping over for a cuppa and it was really easy to make.

To begin with you melt butter in a saucepan with some dark brown muscovado sugar, some treacle and some golden syrup. When this has melted you take it off the heat and leave it to cool. In another bowl you weigh out some plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger and some mixed spice. Add the melted mixture to it, along with a beaten egg and then fold in the flour mixture. Finally add in some chopped stem ginger pieces.

I always use pre made loaf tin liners which save me a lot of faffing about. The mixture was poured into the prepared loaf tin and put in the oven at about 160oC for about 45-50 minutes. Unfortunately I set the oven timer to 45 minutes but promptly forgot to switch it on. I suddenly remembered about the loaf when I could smell gingerbread coming from the kitchen. Luckily it came out of the oven just in time and although had sunk slightly in the middle, it looked wonderful.

After about an hour of cooling I cut the loaf up into 8 generous slices. It took all my willpower not to scoff a slice there and then. I boxed up the loaf and decided to take it with me to work tomorrow to leave in the staff room.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx