Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Gifts, back of beyond style!

Every year as well making christmas cakes and Puddings as gifts  I try and make something yummy for my work colleagues.  Last year I made Shortbread that was such a hit I had to give out the recipe, which I know has been used by at least one of my colleagues. This year I decided to have a go at Sophie Dahl's peanut butter fudge which  looked really easy to make. I can happily report that it was dead simple to make and is really delicious, although a bit sickly if eaten in large quantities.

Peanut butter fudge
  • 125g/4½oz butter
  • 500g/1lb 2oz dark brown sugar
  • 120ml/4fl oz milk
  • 250g/9oz crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds only
  • 300g/10½oz icing sugar

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Stir in the brown sugar and milk, and bring to the boil for 2-3 minutes, without stirring.
  3. Remove from the heat, and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla seeds.
  4. Place the icing sugar in a large bowl, and pour the hot butter and sugar mixture on top. Using a wooden spoon, beat the mixture until smooth.
  5. Pour into a 20cm/8in square baking tray, and set aside to cool slightly, then place in the fridge to chill completely.
  6. Cut the fudge into squares with a sharp knife, turn out of the tin and store in an airtight container.

I finally finished decorating the three remaining Christmas cakes this afternoon. My decorating is always simple ( mainly because my decorating skills are very amateur) but I think quite effective. They now await packaging either in festive patterned cellophane or in a box made by my very clever husband.

The Gluten free Christmas cake

    Thursday, 15 December 2011

    Feeling festive!

    Here in the back of beyond Christmas seems to be very close and I am feeling slightly unorganised. I'm not really sure where the last three weeks have gone. I know I have been busy with work, and baking, and socialising, but last time I looked I'm sure it was December the 1st!

    Out of the four Christmas cakes I made, this is the only one that is decorated and has been delivered to a  fellow Christmas cake fan as his Christmas present. I am planning to marzipan the others this weekend and then ice them midweek.
    Last weekend we had the village Christmas party and Panto. This is a strictly village affair with everyone bringing a bottle and a plate of food to share. The Panto is the mastermind of  our resident ex actor who writes and directs an enthusiastic bunch of amateur thespians in a traditional Pantomime with lots of in jokes about the village and it's residents. Considering the food is an ad hoc affair the spread is always impressive. My "plate" was slightly more than a plates worth as I produced 24 Christmas themed cupcakes. I found red, white and green sprinkles in Morrison's along with green and red cake cases. Needless to say the cupcakes disappeared very quickly.

    On Monday night my son and I decided to make some gingerbread snowmen. My son has been going to cookery class after school and now fancies himself as something of a chef. He was very keen to complete this recipe all by himself, so with only a small amount of input from me he turned out a pretty impressive batch of gingerbread snow men and other Christmas related biscuits. The recipe came from the BBC good food website and was really easy to make with the use of a food processor.

    Gingerbread snowmen

    350g/12oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
    1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    2 tsp ground ginger
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    125g/4½oz butter
    175g/6oz light soft brown sugar
    1 free-range egg
    4 tbsp golden syrup

    To decorate
    writing icing
    cake decorations

    1.Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.

    2.Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together.
    Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
    3.Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

    4.Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them. For hanging as decorations, use a skewer to make a small hole in the top of each biscuit.

    5.Bake for 12 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When cooled decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations.