Chewy Apple and Fig Cookies

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

The lovely people over at Nothing But sent me some of their freeze-dried goodies to try. I set myself the challenge of using the Apple and Fig mix in a yummy baked recipe, and here we are! These wholesome, fruity cookies are just what the doctor ordered (quite literally, my GP has a sweet tooth). The Nothing But freeze dried apple and fig mix, along with the honey, give these cookies a very satisfying chew indeed. Filling and extremely moreish, I dare you to only eat one!

Chewy Apple and Fig Cookies
Makes about 30

100g (4oz) margarine (I always use Vitalite as it’s dairy-free and brilliant!)
175g (6 oz) soft dark brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
150g (5oz) self-raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate soda
125g (4 oz) rolled oats
150g (5 oz) dessicated coconut
1 tsp ground cinnamon
24g (2x 12g bag) Nothing But Apple and Fig mix
1 egg, beaten

  1. Grease two baking sheets and preheat oven to 180°c, 165°c fan oven (350°F).
  2. Melt margarine, sugar and honey over a low heat, stirring every now and then to combine. Leave aside to cool.Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
  3. Mix flour, bicarbonate, oats, dessicated coconut, cinnamon and dried fruit in a big bowl.Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
  4. Add melted ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir. Add the egg and continue to stir until ingredients are well combined.Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
  5. Spoon up a small amount of mixture and roll in your hands until you have a ball the size of a small plum (yes I definitely had trouble trying to think of how to describe the size, please see the picture below!).Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
  6. Pop the balls onto the trays, spread slightly apart so they don’t end up as one massive cookie. As delightful as that sounds, they really aren’t easy to take to work and show off like that! Press down on each with a fork.Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until browning. Cool on the tray for five minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Now, pop the kettle on, make some tea and enjoy a few of these with your feet up! Any spares, keep in an airtight container. Even for a serial snacker like me this is quite a big batch and I do usually have some spare. Sometimes I post some to far flung friends.
  9. Why not snap a shot (you know you want to!) and tag it #amysbakes on Instagram or Twitter so I can see your delicious wee creations!Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

 

Advertisements

Pink Peppercorn Chocolate Cake

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

So a couple of months back Baking Fresh very kindly sent me one of their baking boxes to try! It had all the dry ingredients I would need to make this Pink Peppercorn and Chocolate cake. I tweaked the recipe (as always!) but will detail the original recipe and add in my tweaks as we go. This chocolate cake is a photographer’s dream, the contrast of the chocolate and the bright pink peppercorns is just beautiful. Thank you to Baking Fresh for letting me share this lovely recipe!
Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Sponge

100g butter
110g light brown sugar
2 eggs
110g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1sp ground pink peppercorns
30g cocoa powder

Filling (I didn’t make a filling at all)

200g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter
40g cocoa powder
1 tsp ground peppercorns
40 ml whole milk

Ganache

125g dark chocolate
125g double cream
1 tsp pink peppercorns

  1. Grease and baseline a 23cm loose bottomed tin. So here is my main recipe tweak, I used the beautiful Nordicware Heritage bundt tin instead of the recommended 23cm loose bottomed tin. It is just such a gorgeous tin, I couldn’t resist!
  2. For the sponge, cream the butter and brown sugar. Once light and fluffy gradually add the beaten egg beating well.
  3. Fold in the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and ground peppercorns. Pop mixture into the tin and bake for 15 mins. Cool a little before transferring to a cooling rack.
  4. I didn’t make any filling because I had opted for the Bundt tin. To make the butter cream filling combine butter and icing sugar. Then add the milk, cocoa powder and ground peppercorns and beat well.
  5. If you are using the filling slice the cake into two layers, spread the filling and then sandwich.
  6. For the ganache (very photogenic for all you avid instagrammers!), melt chocolate with the cream in a heat proof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir occasionally.
  7. Pour ganache over cake and then sprinkle the lightly crushed peppercorns on the top. Chill to allow the ganache to set. Ta dah! You now have a gorgeous spicy chocolate cake with pretty wee pink jewels scattered on top.
  8. Snap a shot (you know you want to!) and tag it #amysbakes on Instagram or Twitter so I can see your wee beauty!

Easter egg macarons

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Hello! I thought I was would scribble down the recipe I used for my Easter egg shaped macarons. I started with this Delicious Magazine Round Macarons recipe and got tweaking. Firstly, I scaled it down. Their recipe makes 20 pairs, I just wanted to try them out so I divided the recipe by 3 and added my flavour and colour making about 6 pairs. I will detail my version of the recipe below, but feel free just to use the original recipe!

An important person, important to me and to a lot of other British bakers I would think, was not impressed that I hadn’t tried to make macarons. At first, of course, I sulked (privately, I am British after all). But recently I gained the courage and bit the bullet, so to speak. And they weren’t that bad! My main mistake was not letting a skin form properly before baking, this is what makes macarons crack. HOWEVER, the hand-painted vine affect I went for completely disguises the cracks and will still look beautiful if you are much more patient than me and don’t have any cracks to hide!

Here is the egg shape I drew up to use, I have popped a ruler in for scale. That way if you don’t fancy drawing your own egg shape to follow you can print mine off at roughly the right scale.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Easter egg Macarons
Makes 6 macarons (12 meringues stuck together to make pairs)

60g icing sugar
45 g ground almonds
1 medium egg white
25g caster sugar
½ tsp almond flavour (you choose your flavour!)
a few drops of food dye (I used yellow)

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas mark 3. Cut a sheet of baking paper the size of your baking sheet. Using the above template, or your own egg shape, draw 12 eggs (3 rows of 4 is easiest) about 2cm apart and then flip the sheet over so you don’t eat the ink.
  2. Blitz the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor. Sieve into a bowl when the mix is very fine.
  3. In a different bowl, beat the egg white and a pinch of salt to soft peaks. I use my Kitchenaid for this (I love stand mixers).
  4. Gradually whisk the caster sugar into the egg mixture, and add your colouring and flavouring until mix is lovely thick, glossy bowl of prettiness. I went for ½ tsp of almond essence (I had to enhance the ground almond flavour, it’s just too yummy) and a few drips of Wilton’s extremely powerful food colouring in yellow. Remember, the colour will get lighter when you add the almonds and icing sugar so slightly over colour the egg mixture.
  5. Carefully fold in half of the ground almonds and icing sugar. Then add the other half, making sure to cut and fold the mix well.
  6. Once the mixture is thick and makes a ribbon on top of the mixture when you drip a spoonful back into the bowl pop it into a piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle.
  7. Pipe onto your baking paper with all the eggs on. I found the best way was to pipe the egg shape just inside the outer line of the template making a perfect slightly smaller egg, as the mix will spread a wee bit to fill the outline.
  8. Once you have piped them all slam your tray down hard on the worktop, this creates a nice ‘foot’. Leave the macarons to dry for at least 30 mins. The original recipe said 10-15 mins but it wasn’t long enough for a skin to completely form on mine. You should be able to gently touch the top of one without any mixture sticking to your finger. This should prevent cracking.
  9. When they are dry pop them in your oven for 15 mins. Take them out and let them cool.
  10. Whilst they cool you can whip up a filling to sandwich your pairs of eggs together. I went for almond buttercream but you can use whatever you like; any flavour butter cream, chocolate ganache or even Nutella! I used 50g butter, 100g icing sugar, ½ tsp almond essence and a hint of pink Wilton food dye, beaten together really well.
  11. Pipe your filling onto your cooled macarons and sandwich them! Voila! Let them buttercream set and then…it’s time for painting! If you want to that is, it can get a bit fiddly and these eggs are pretty cute on their own. I use Squires Kitchen food paint.
  12. Below is a shot of me painting cake toppers, I just wanted to show you guys an example of my workspace. I smother my desk with inspo to make sure I have something to refer to when I am painting. For the egg macarons I pretty much just followed my cracks (oops, impatience is not a virtue!) for the vines and used my wee floral notebook (see image below) to get some rough flower head shapes. Find some inspiration (googling flowers or vines is pretty good) and go have fun! Tag #amysbakes if you post a picture on Insta so I can have a wee nosey 🙂

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

McDougalls Lemon Spice Cake

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

So… this is the best lemon drizzle recipe you will ever find. I know the title says lemon spice, but that is the official title for this cake. You see, this is 100% NOT my recipe. This is a recipe that my mum cut out of a magazine or flyer and popped in her recipe box many moons ago. I was entirely unable to find the recipe when I looked for it online a while back and my lovely Mumma emailed it to me. I decided that the baking world could not continue to exist without this DELICIOUS recipe being easily accessible. You think I am being melodramatic but I’m really not. This is the best cake in the world. Below is a scanned image of the original cut out. I have typed out the recipe too, with some (probably not so wise) words of wisdom.

Screenshot_2016-02-18-11-23-46

This still my favourite cake. It is a drizzle so maybe isn’t quite as aesthetically pleasing as a big iced beauty, but boy oh boy you cannot beat this cake for flavour. The warmth of the brown sugar coupled with the zing of lemon and hint of mixed spice is just the perfect combination. Don’t believe me? Try it!

Lemon Spice Cake

100g butter or margarine (4 oz) (super easy to do dairy free with margarine, I use Vitalite!)
100g soft brown sugar (4 oz)
150g McDougalls self-raising flour (any brand will obviously be fine!)
½ tsp mixed spice
2 eggs
Rind and juice of one lemon
75g caster sugar (3oz)

1. Grease and line an 18cm square or 20.5cm round cake tin. I doubled the cake recipe and multiplied the drizzle (lemon juice and caster sugar) by 1.5 to make a 25cm x 20cm x 3.5cm deep (10” x 8” x 1 ¾”) tray bake using Lakeland’s brownie pan.

2. Warm the fat and brown sugar in a pan.

3. Stir in lemon rind, flour, spice and egg

4. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes at 180°c/350°F/Gas mark. I’m pretty sure this recipe was written before fan ovens were all the rage, I took my fan oven down to about 165°c.

5. Mix lemon juice and caster sugar and pour over warm cake. Allow to cool in the tin.

6. If you guys make this recipe feel free to use the tag #amysbakes on Instagram on Twitter so I can see your bakes 🙂 I really hope you love it as much as I do!

Lovely Lavender Shortbread

 

Processed with VSCO with acg preset
My gran (Nanny) has always used lavender toiletries, so the smell always reminds me of her. I moved from Essex to Scotland with my parents when I had just turned 9. My Nanny lived next door to us in Essex and my heart broke when we left her behind. She is your stereo-typical gran; round and cuddly with short white curled hair and a very sweet tooth. She always spoiled me rotten when I was wee, and to this day (I’m almost 22) she still sends me a hand-written note and monthly pocket money. I used to go to her flat every Saturday morning, where she would feed me sweets and let me watch as much TV as I wanted. If it was sunny we would take my dollies out and play in the park at the back of her building.Processed with VSCO with acg preset

To say I miss her would be an understatement, Essex is a long way from Edinburgh! Knowing she is getting older makes my heart ache. She always tells people this story about me when I was little. We were walking to the shops one day and we must have been chatting about age (I can only have been about 5 years old but I have always been an old soul!). Anyway, the story goes that I turned to my Nanny and said “you’ll live ‘til you’re 90, Nanny!”. I’m sure at the time that seemed like a lifetime away. Nanny seems to have adopted this as prophecy; Amy said it so it must be true! She turns 90 in May and I now wish I had told her she would live forever.

I created this recipe for my Nanny. I usually bring her back some dried lavender in some form or other from Croatia in the summer. However, this year I just didn’t. I’m not sure why but on returning home I spotted my Mum’s lavender in full bloom. Perfect! I decided I would dry my own and the make some lavender shortbread to send down to Nanny.

IMG_20150817_172655

The first recipe I tried used ground rice. I am not a fan of shortbread with ground rice, too crunchy and I always fear for my teeth. No, cornflour shortbread was the way forwards. Eventually I came up with the following recipe. I hope you like it, Nanny certainly does; she ate the whole box in one day last time I sent them to her! Below is a photo of us from last spring, my Dad was ready to take a nice shot and Nan cheekily reaches for her half pint, making me giggle!

Processed with VSCO with b5 preset

Lavender Shortbread
Makes 18 5.5cm crinkle cut rounds (some of my images are off heart-shaped biscuits, I like to mix it up a bit!)

Ingredients
60g caster sugar
2 dried lavender heads (nothing that has been sprayed with bad stuff!)
110g unsalted butter (a wee bit soft)
110g plain flour
60g cornflour
half a pinch of salt
some caster sugar and dried lavender flowers for sprinkling

  1. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Blitz sugar and the lavender flowers (stripped from the stalks) in a food processor until the lavender is in very small shreds.
  2. Beat butter and sugar together (I do this in my mixer, I’m afraid I just don’t have the muscles!). Add flour, cornflour and salt and stir until mix looks like breadcrumbs.
  3. Use your hands to pull the mixture together and knead until it forms a dough. Wrap the dough up and stick it in the fridge for a wee while. About 30 minutes will suffice, any longer and it’s like trying to roll out a brick.
  4. Preheat oven at 170° fan/ 190° conventional/ Gas mark 5. Roll out the dough until about 5mm thick and cut out as many rounds as you can in the one go. Squish any remaining dough back together and re-roll and cut. If I am honest after one re-roll I tend to give up, there is only a wee bit left and my Mum always taught me to handle shortbread dough as little as possible once chilled.
  5. Put all rounds on the lined tray and pop into your oven for about 10 minutes, or until goldening. Whip them out, sprinkle with some caster sugar and leave to cool on the tray for a wee bit before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully.
  6. Optional step, snap a pic and share with me on Instagram or Twitter using the tag #amysbakes 🙂 Enjoy!

 

Gooseberry and honey upside down cake (dairy-free)

IMG_20150701_200004
My dad loves gooseberries. For someone with such a sweet tooth I found this rather odd. Also, because our lone gooseberry bush gave us a pitiful 12 berries a year, I had never tried one to see what all the fuss is about. My mum would make a miniature one-man crumble for my dad each year. This spring we decided enough was enough. Mum moved our bush into its own luxury raised-bed in the garden. Good plan. The wee plant tripled in size and flowered away happily. It then gave us about 5kg of berries.

IMG_20150630_185603

So now I have to find ways to use them all. My mum kept some and froze them topped and tailed ready for when inspiration struck. We also gave 3kg to my boyfriend’s mum who is plotting her jam making as we speak. I decided that an upside down cake was a nice change to crumble or Eve’s pudding so that was my first bake. I have also been fiddling with a gooseberry and cranberry streusel slice recipe that I will share once I have perfected it, I feel it is missing cinnamon just now.

Gooseberry and honey upside down cake (dairy-free)

100g caster sugar
100g Vitalite (or other dairy free margarine)
100g self-rasing flour
2 eggs
300g gooseberries
8tbsp honey

1. Preheat oven to 170°c fan oven, 190°C conventional or Gas Mark 5. Grease the bottom and sides of a 20cm/8” round cake tin. Cut a circle of baking paper to fit the bottom of the tin, insert and then grease the paper also. Seems excessive but the stickiest bit of this cake will make a lot of contact with the base of the tin.
2. Cream margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and flour and beat well. I let my mixer do all the work!
3. Meanwhile, top and tail the gooseberries. (This means chop a wee bit off each end, I didn’t know this until the first time I cooked with them. I think ‘top and tail’ is pretty cute though!). Spoon the honey into the bottom of the prepared tin. Lay your gooseberries out, packed tightly together like fruity crazy paving together.
4. Spoon the sponge mixture on top of the fruit and spread until level. To make sure the sponge crust doesn’t cook too quickly I put tin foil over the cake tin for the first 20mins of cooking. Then remove foil and cook for a further 20mins. Sponge will be golden with bubbles showing and will spring back after a gentle prod.
5. Leave to cool completely before turning out. Once fully cooled, yes I’m afraid this may take hours, run a knife around the outside of the cake and turn out onto a plate. Peel of the baking paper and admire your work. I like to keep a couple of gooseberries with their leaves and twigs on to decorate the centre.
6. Optional final step, take a photo and tag it #amysbakes on Instagram or Twitter so I can see your lovely bake. Enjoy!

Yummy dairy-free orange spice biscuits (with vegan option)

IMG_20150620_155228

I am very pleased with this recipe. I had fun perfecting it and they taste fabulous. Perhaps a bit Christmassy for some people at this time of year but I am a sucker for cinnamon all year round.

IMG_20150514_194111Anyone who has read my posts before will know that I always end up with over-ripe bananas. I just can’t help it. One minute they are green the next they are black. Damn, it has happened again. So I always have bananas to experiment with. They are a brilliant egg substitute if the egg is required in the recipe for binding purposes, as it is in this recipe. You cannot taste the banana in these biscuits, which makes me feel rather sneaky and clever. No one wants all of their egg-free baking to taste of banana. Applesauce would also work in this recipe, instead of banana or egg. Goodness me, I don’t think I have typed ‘banana’ as many times in my whole life as I have in the past two minutes. Right, enough burbling from me. Now to the baking!

IMG_20150514_212816

Yummy dairy-free orange spice biscuits (with vegan option)
Makes about 30 medium sized biscuits

175g muscovado sugar
85g syrup
100g Vitalite (or another dairy-free margarine)
350g plain flour
3tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
Zest of one orange
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg OR ¼ cup of mashed banana/applesauce (you don’t taste either over the spices)

  1. Melt sugar, syrup and marge in a saucepan over a low heat.
  2. Meanwhile put a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in a small dish with a little water. Put flour, spices and zest into a bowl.
  3. Add the egg or banana, wet mixture and bicarbonate of soda and mix well. You will end up with a sticky mixture. Don’t worry, you don’t have to roll this out yet. Far too sticky!
  4. Allow mixture to cool a little and then spoon out onto cling film, wrap and leave in the fridge to cool and solidify for about an hour.
  5. Preheat oven at 170˚c fan oven, 190˚ normal oven and Gas Mark 5. Grease two baking trays.
  6. Roll out the mixture to about 5mm. It is easier to split the mixture and do the rolling out twice; there is a lot of dough!
  7. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until a rich copper colour. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes on the trays then move to a wire rack. These are lovely iced with water icing (perhaps made with the juice from your zested orange) or dipped in chocolate or even have a mess around with some fondant icing like I did on one of my many batches. You choose!
  8. Optional final step-take a photo and tag it #amysbakes on Twitter or Instagram so I can see your biscuits!