Strawberry Milkshake Traybake.

Strawberry Milkshake Traybake as made for an event in my local village hall.

A couple of weeks back we had an event in my local village hall.  I was asked to bake a couple of things to take along.  I was surprised to be asked as it was an evening event.  Usually cakes and bakes are meant to be eaten during the day but not alongside wine and nibbles.  I presumed this was because there would be children there.

So with this in mind I got baking one Saturday afternoon.  I started with some flapjacks, then some Oreo Cookie Brownies and then decided to make a traybake.  Traybakes, to me are perfect for big gatherings as they take no time at all to prepare and a little goes a long way. I thought a plain vanilla sponge would go down well and thought about a suitable topping.

I went completely overboard with the heart shaped sprinkles and the purple edible glitter.
Traybakes always go down well- a little always goes a long way.
I also baked flapjacks, which go down well with people of all ages.

I use a lot of Sugar and Crumbs’ natural flavoured icing sugars and their cocoa powders.  Every now and again I get a few packets and stock up, trying out new flavours.  Or I go back and repeat buy flavours I know everyone loves. This is what happened with their Strawberry Milkshake flavour.  Last year I tried making some cupcakes with strawberry milkshake flavour buttercream. This time I decided to make up some buttercream and put it on the top of the traybake.  I also had some pastel coloured heart sprinkles and some edible glitter to finish off the decorations.

As expected the traybake went down well with the children and not so much with the adults.  After all, who wants to eat cake with wine?  I had also eaten my dinner quite late that afternoon and was still full up from then. There were a few bits left. I was still happy with the result though and will make another traybake like this another time for a coffee morning.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Slimming World Low Syn Christmas Star Cookies.

A few weeks ago I had a wake up call.  It came about the time when I was sorting out some clothes and realised that about two thirds of the items in my wardrobe were far too tight for me.  Trousers with zips that wouldn’t do up, buttons that wouldn’t do up and with gaping holes on my work shirts. Not to mention several dresses and skirts that made my stomach look like I was 6 months pregnant.  My baby is 16 years old!  I also saw several unflattering photos of me taken over the summer where I looked like a beached whale.  All I can say is at least I wasn’t in a bikini on them. I’m not classed as obese but well within the overweight category.  I blame my love of baking but if I don’t bake, I’m not tempted. Trouble is, I love baking and if I don’t do it, I feel I’m missing out. After a couple of attempts at Weightwatchers recently and feeling like I’ve not got anywhere, I decided to try Slimming World. I needed something new and with interesting recipes to motivate me and my family to eat what I cook.

So far in the past 3 weeks I have lost 5.5lbs. This, to me who takes ages even to lose a pound was a real motivator for me.  Not only that but I’ve really enjoyed going to my local group, everyone is so friendly and warm.

Yesterday in group was the launch of Countdown To Christmas and we were asked to bring Syn Free or low Syn Christmas nibbles for a taster session to our group.  I looked on the Slimming World Website for inspiration and came across some ideas for biscuits including a star shaped almond cookie. I was sceptical about baking cookies from a Slimming World recipe as I can’t stand using artificial sweeteners and low fat spreads in baking.  Not only is the taste different, the texture is strange and it’s just not what my baking is all about.  So I tried baking these biscuits with trepidation…eeeeekkk!

Yesterday afternoon I was in a rush after getting in from work late.  Thankfully there were no distractions so I got all the ingredients out and started on the cookies.  I mixed all the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, Canderel, Flora Cuisine and eggs all together to form a smooth dough.  The dough felt more like bread dough than a cookie dough and was a bit springy and like elastic.  It felt strange.  I don’t tend to put raising agents in my roll out cookies, unless it’s gingerbread and I felt as if I couldn’t get the dough thin enough. Also I didn’t want it rising up like pastry or a cake in the oven.

As the cookies were meant to be bite size ones I couldn’t use the normal star shape I use for cookies. Instead I used the second smallest one out of a 3D gingerbread tree set, which gave the perfect size for a nibble.  The recipe said I could get 48 biscuits, I lost count but there were definitely more than 48 there.

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I kept a close watch on the oven as the cookies would bake quickly.  I gave them about 8-10 minutes at about 160oC in my fan oven.  They did expand and rise quite a bit.

To decorate, I mixed up a little bit of glace icing. If I hadn’t made them Slimming World friendly I would have spent ages decorating the stars covering the whole of the top with a flood and fill royal icing and lots of glitter and sprinkles.  Instead I snipped a tiny hole off the bottom of a disposable piping bag and drizzled the icing on here and there, suppose Mary Berry would have said they were “informal”! I found a few bits left in different sprinkles tubs in my baking stash which needed using up. I chucked them altogether into one big jar, shook it up and sprinkled them on the cookies. Most of the sprinkles went on the floor and not on the cookies though!

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My son tasted a couple and said they didn’t taste like normal cookies and tasted bland.  I tried one and thought they were ok. I took them along to group and they went down well. I think, though for a tiny bite they are still 3 syns. That’s still quite a lot for a little biscuit.

Will I bake them again? I’m not sure.  I would rather bake biscuits with butter and caster sugar instead of fake sweeteners and low fat spreads full of chemicals.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Mary Berry’s Marbled Chocolate Ring Cake.

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Mary Berry’s Marbled Chocolate Ring Cake as featured in her Baking Bible. Baked by me, decorated by my daughter.

Last Sunday I wanted to make a pudding for Sunday lunch.  Funnily enough it turned into an evening meal as we had a late breakfast so skipped lunch completely.  It wasn’t even going to be a chocolate based pudding, I wanted to bake the Venetian Zabaglione Cake from Delia’s Cakes.  But when you start reading the ingredients list and realise on a Sunday afternoon that you need double cream and Marsala wine, well what can you do?

So I had to choose something else.  There were two bars of plain chocolate left in my baking cupboard and a load of chocolate sprinkles.  I had the ingredients for Mary Berry’s Marbled Chocolate Ring Cake which I could bake in my bundt tin and also it was a recipe I missed off last month’s Cooking The Books Challenge due to lack of time! The cake looked so inviting I just had to have a go.  I didn’t have any extra milk chocolate for drizzling on the top so I had to make do with what was in my cupboard.  Thankfully I had a tub of chocolate sprinkles!

 Here’s how it was made:

Softened butter, caster sugar, large free range eggs, self raising flour and baking powder were weighed out into a large bowl first of all.
Softened butter, caster sugar, large free range eggs, self raising flour and baking powder were weighed out into a large bowl first of all.
In a small bowl I mixed together some cocoa powder and hot water to make a stiff paste.
In a small bowl I mixed together some cocoa powder and hot water to make a stiff paste.
The cake mix was whisked together thoroughly.
The cake mix was whisked together thoroughly.
The cake mix was spooned into my prepared tin. Afterwards the cocoa paste was dotted in and gently swirled together.
The cake mix was spooned into my prepared tin. Afterwards the cocoa paste was dotted in and gently swirled together.
After about 40 minutes the cake was brought out of the oven.  I was pleased to see the marble pattern showing!
After about 40 minutes the cake was brought out of the oven. I was pleased to see the marble pattern showing!
The cake turned out onto the cooling rack.  Thank heavens it came out of the tin without any problems sticking.
The cake turned out onto the cooling rack. Thank heavens it came out of the tin without any problems sticking.
My daughter asked if she could decorate the cake.
My daughter asked if she could decorate the cake.

My 16 year old daughter came downstairs during a break from revising for her GCSE’s and asked if she could decorate the cake.  I let her and told her to have a look in my baking cupboard for decorations instead of the milk chocolate drizzle.  I had some chocolate sprinkles in a tub and some rainbow sugar but she opted for the chocolate.  I told her Mary’s cake had the icing spread so it completely covered the cake.  She told me she just wanted to spread it on the top and it looked great with the extra bits.  I couldn’t wait to cut the cake and eat some.

It was worth the wait.  A lovely chocolatey hit without being too sweet or overpowering.  I really enjoyed it with a tablespoonful of creme fraiche.  Perfect for a family dessert or a fabulous birthday cake offering!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

A slice cut ready for pudding.  It tasted very nice with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side.
A slice cut ready for pudding. It tasted very nice with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side.
Leftovers for another day!
Leftovers for another day!