It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had the chance to bake anything, let alone blog about it. It doesn’t help that my laptop isn’t working properly and I just can’t type my posts well on my iPad. So, I know what I’ll be saving up for once Christmas is out of the way! I don’t know about you but I’m so glad November is out of the way. It’s always a really depressing month to me. Hardly any daylight and you’re travelling to and from work in the dark. I’m definitely a summer person and all I have wanted to do is to hibernate and eat comfort food. But yayy, it’s December and finally Christmas month. No organisation up until here in the SmartCookieSam house, unless you count making your Christmas pudding and soaking your dried fruit for your Christmas cake…
Which brings me to the subject of this month’s blog post themes. I’ve got out one of my Christmas recipe books (see the rather awful selfie below) and decided to bake from The Great British Bake Off Christmas this month. Not only will it be baking as in cakes and mince pies but there will be a few savoury things, foodie gifts and baked main courses to try out right up until the New Year. I’ll be attempting a recipe a day throughout Advent and in between Christmas and New Year. So watch this space to see what I try out every day.
Friday December 1st 2017.
It’s the first day of Advent and everyone in the SmartCookieSam house has an Advent Calendar, even the dog and the cat! Though our Labrador would love to trough the cat’s treats out of the calendar as well as his own!
I’ve always loved the idea of baking mini cookies to put in pockets of an Advent Calendar but until this year had never got round to it. I used the very first recipe in the Bake Off Christmas book for the basis for my very own Advent Calendar biscuits. I baked a vanilla shortbread dough and used four different type of snowflake cookie cutters. Three were of the same size but different patterns but there was also a larger cutter which would be suitable for number 25. The idea was that the cookies would adorn a tree and you would take one off the tree as each day passes, that’s if the cookies last that long in our house! Baking cookies and decorating them has always been one of my favourite sorts of baking so it was great to get creative after a busy time at work.
Baking and decorating cookies definitely did put me in a festive mood. I was nearly finished when my son got in from college and I was able to clear away the mess while enjoying a well earned gin and tonic. Now I wonder whether any cookies will be left tomorrow?
For this month’s Cooking The Books Challenge I’m a bit pushed for time as I have to concentrate all my baking into the first half of the month. The second half of the month I will be recuperating from surgery. Even though it’s only a minor procedure I’m having I still won’t be wanting to think about any sort of cooking, let alone baking. So I’ve chosen Delia’s Cakes as there are only nine recipes in this challenge and I can bake most of them for two local events which need cakes donating for a cake stall.
Last Saturday afternoon I was busy in my kitchen baking four recipes from the challenge. Our neighbouring village had it’s Spring Festival yesterday. A cafe is set up in the school hall serving teas and cakes. As my son used to go to that primary school and he had such a wonderful time in the two years that he went there, I am only too glad to support the school in any way I can even though he left in 2011! So baking a few cakes for the school cafe is the least I can do.
The recipe I chose from the Small Cakeschapter had to be something quick and easy to make as well as something appealing. In the end I chose the Iced Hidden Strawberry Cupcakes. With it not being the season for strawberries I chose raspberries instead.
All I had to do was to sift some self raising flour into my large mixing bowl. This was followed by adding all the other ingredients, such as some spreadable butter, caster sugar, eggs and some vanilla extract. This was mixed together with my hand whisk. But as I was whisking the mixture the motor suddenly made groaning noises and one of the beaters stopped spinning round. This is just typical. I have a large KitchenAid but my hubby doesn’t like it cluttering up the surface when it’s not being used so I have to put it away in a cupboard. I end up using the hand whisk but as it’s such a cheapo one which I bought at Christmas (not even 5 months!) and it’s stopped working! I took the faulty beater off and continued with one beater for another minute or so.
When that was done I got out my cupcake cases and found some silver foil ones. I thought I’d use silver ones as Delia had in the picture next to the recipe and it looked pretty against the pink icing on the cupcakes. These ones were small for cupcakes but the standard “fairy cake” size ones. Half the mixture was put inside the cases, then I pressed a whole raspberry inside, finishing off with the rest of the filling.
Into the oven went the cupcakes for about 20 minutes and out they came later all risen and golden. I let them cool and then I made up the raspberry icing. This was made by pureeing some raspberries in my blender and sieving the pips out so I was left with the juice. This was then mixed with some icing sugar. The mixture was far too stiff so I added a little milk. Then it was too runny so I added more icing sugar. When it came to decorating the top of the cupcakes the icing was quite runny but I prefer that than it looking perfect to be honest. The finishing touch was a whole raspberry and a dusting of icing sugar on the top of each cupcake.
The cupcakes were put into a plastic box ready to take down to the school the following morning but when I checked them I noticed the icing looked like it had lost its shine and was a bit wrinkly. I was disappointed with their appearance and noticed when I was down at the school only one had gone from the plate. I was concerned about whether people were put off by their appearance so when I bought my cup of tea I bought one of my cakes back so I could test it out. We also chose a slice of delicious banana cake which my mum and I shared along with half each of my cupcake. Both my mum and I thought it tasted fine and my mum said the sponge tasted nice and light. I don’t know what happened afterwards but to be fair there were a lot of different and very yummy cakes to choose from there. I just don’t know whether it was the milk which made the icing wrinkle like that, maybe I should have added water instead. Oh well, you live and learn!