Lemon drizzle muffins

There’s plenty of things in life that make us sour: uni work deadlines, events in our lives, what we see/hear on the news, even the typical British weather. Of course, with this recipe, I encourage you to embrace your sour side. Plus, these lemon drizzle muffins are ideal for curling up with a book (maybe one you might have missed this summer).

Lemon drizzle 1

Here’s how a few simple ingredients make these:

Ingredients:

For the muffins:

300g self raising flour

100g butter

80g caster sugar

2 eggs

225ml milk

1tsp vanilla extract

1 lemon zest

Lemon curd (optional)

For the icing:

100g icing sugar

Lemon

Method:

  1. Line a muffin tin with paper cases and preheat the oven to 200/gas mark 6.
  2.  Place the flour and butter into a bowl and rub together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  3. Add sugar and mix well, then add whisked eggs and milk to the mixture, then aand mix until combined.
  4. Place the mixture into muffin cases and (if you want) add a teaspoon of lemon curd to the mix and even out with the cake mixture.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, then get on with the icing: combine the icing sugar with the lemon
  6. Top your cooled muffins with the icing and enjoy!

Here’s how they turned out:

What have you been baking this week?

Spooky chocolate brownies

Hello! I know Halloween has well and truly ended, in place of loud fireworks, Christmas cups and the inevitable two month build up to one day (I’m probably only being cynical considering the fact I’ll be getting through deadlines over Christmas!) but that won’t stop me posting my spooky brownies.

[Plus, the person who predicted the Bake Off result last week, which I mentioned in my blog on the Great British Bake Off final, will probably be happy to see this one.. and I’d definitely encourage them (and YOU, the person reading this) to give these a go!]

I know, I know, “what makes them so spooky, Jen?”. These aren’t normal brownies, really. They’re not possessed by a ghost or cursed by a witch, but- for a little spooky touch- I scattered a few M&Ms into the mix which not only added a brilliant crunch, they also gave the brownies an even more chocolatey flavour.

Of course, those of you who’ve been following me since the beginning (I’m so glad you are!) will know I’ve posted Chocolate brownies before. So, in a way, I am repeating myself but- with the Halloween version- there were a few tweaks I’ll have to make clear.

Ingredients:

140g dark brown sugar (I didn’t have any light brown to hand, but using this sugar actually produced richer, fudgier brownies so- if that’s how you like yours- dark brown sugar is the way to go!)

2 large eggs

100g butter

100g chocolate (I used half dark chocolate, half milk)

100g plain flour

Red, yellow, orange and brown M&Ms (though other spooky sweets would work here, too. A friend suggested Reece’s Pieces which I think would be incredible!)

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 170/180 and line a square tin with baking parchment.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of water then leave to cool.

3. Whisk together the butter and sugar until the mix is incorporated (by using dark brown sugar the mixture isn’t as pale as my first version of brownies was).

4. Add eggs and the chocolate mixture and fold together until combined.

5. Add the flour until the mixture is incorporated, then place the mixture in the lined tin, scatter your chosen spooky sweets evenly over the mix (don’t press them in, just leave them on top) and bake for 20 minutes (I found these ones took a little longer, so it might be a matter of taking them out and putting them back in again).

6. Leave to chill and, once chilled, cut into slices and enjoy.

I baked these for a Halloween social at uni and the people who were there (plus my family afterwards, as there wasn’t many people at the event) loved them. Even though I have a trusty brownie recipe (thanks Mum), the addition of dark brown sugar to the usual mix produced rich brownies that were so intense and fudgy I couldn’t resist another piece! Plus, the M&Ms made them even nicer somehow and it was really interesting to see the pop of colour at the top (not to mention, this recipe can easily be tweaked so you can add whatever chocolate you like to it).

Today’s a busy posting day (just because I didn’t want to miss the window for posting Halloween stuff, with Christmas rearing its ugly head) so, later on, you can expect the latest instalment of my “Dissertation Diaries”. I’ll let you into a secret….I’ve made progress so, if that means anything, I think I deserve a brownie!

Halloween cupcakes and spiderweb shortbread

Hey guys!

Considering it’s not long at all until Halloween, I thought I’d post not one but TWO spooky treats you just have to make this year and, trust me, they’re scary good!

Whether you’re hosting a Halloween party, looking for something to do with the kids or just in need of a treat for a Halloween movie marathon, these two recipes are ideal for whatever you’ve got planned.

I’ll start with the Halloween cupcakes first. Delicious chocolate cupcakes, just a little buttercream with a spooky marshmallow character on top, what more could you want?

Of course, you can customise the cupcakes how ever you like: change the flavour (red velvet would be a particularly spooky choice) or the decoration (I’m dying to try out the new chocolate decorating pens I’ve seen dotted around the shops!).

Here’s how a few simple ingredients make these delicious cupcakes:

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

110g butter

1tbsp cocoa powder

110g self-raising flour

110g caster sugar

2 eggs

For the decoration:

1 bag of marshmallows

Food colouring (red, yellow and green)

Black decorating icing

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 170c and line a cupcake tin with cases.

2. Combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Next, add the eggs until light and fluffy.

4. Once combined, add the cocoa powder and flour, mix until combined.

5. Bake for 15-17 minutes and allow to cool.

6. For the decoration, combine the yellow and red food colouring and coat some of your marshmallows then draw on eyes, nose and a mouth plus a stalk at the top of your marshmallow- there you have a pumpkin! For your zombies, coat the marshmallows in the green food colouring and draw on the eyes, nose, mouth and stitches with the decorating icing. For ghosts, draw on the eyes and mouth. To stick the marshmallows on your cakes, you can make a buttercream or use icing (depending on how much time you have)!

Here’s how they turned out:

Last Halloween I went a bit baking crazy (probably to substitute being “too old” to go trick-or-treating) so, as well as the cupcakes, I made spiderwebbed shortbread.

Unfortunately, I ran out of the black icing when I came to make these so, as a result, I created red and green spiderwebs (which are super cool, if you ask me!).

Here’s how a few ingredients make these spidey shortbreads:

Ingredients:

87.5g butter

90g caster sugar

135g plain flour

Green and red icing (though you can obviously use black!)

Method:

1. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then add in the flour and mix slowly until they come together.

2. Turn the mixture out onto a workshop and roll out the dough until it’s about 5cm thick (TIP: Flour your surface so the dough doesn’t stick, now that’d be scary!) then put in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.

3. Preheat your oven to 170c and cut your dough into circles using a cutter (though you can use a glass, as I did).

4. Bake the shortbread for 12-15 minutes, then leave to cool.

5. Once cooled, decorate by piping the cobweb shape on the shortbread (they don’t have to be perfect!) and enjoy.

Here’s how they turned out:

I’ll be baking for this year’s Halloween celebrations, too, so no doubt pictures (and recipes) will be up on my blog next week. What will you be baking this Halloween/ what’s your favourite thing to make for this occasion?

Shortbread biscuits

Hey guys! I hope you had a great weekend, whatever you’ve been up to. I spent mine getting uni work done (being a week in not only terrified me, it actually made me productive!) and celebrating my 21st birthday with family- my sister and I were shocked to see our Auntie (who lives in Spain) had got a flight over to surprise us on our birthday, so it was such a great time!

I’ve made this recipe a few times over the years (Christmas is a go-to time for these, and the Christmas tree cutters!) and I thought I’d give them a go this week. A little bit more difficult than my pretty basic Butterfly cakes recipe from last week, but nothing too crazy!

Here’s how a few simple ingredients make these little stars (other shapes are available):

Ingredients:

125g butter softened

55g caster sugar

180g plain flour

Melted chocolate to decorate (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190/375F/ Gas Mark 5

2. Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth

3. Stir in the flour to get a smooth dough

4. Turn the mix onto a smooth , floured surface and gently roll out until the dough is 1cm thick (or your desired thickness, everyone’s different after all!)

5. Using your shape cutter (I used a star shape, but you really can use whatever shape you like), cut the dough into shapes and place on the baking tray (you can chill them in the fridge for a bit if you like, but I skipped this step and they were still good)

6. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes (or until golden brown) and (if you wish) decorate with melted chocolate and set aside to cool.

That’s me, for now, but (as always) I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off. So stay tuned!

Have any of you been baking this weekend?

The Great British Bake Off: Week 4

We’re four weeks into the current series of The Great British Bake Off and so far there’s been plenty of Hollywood handshakes, heavenly (and hellish) bakes and heatwaves in the Bake Off tent.

(You can read my thoughts on the previous weeks here: Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3)

This week the bakers faced Dessert Week, so still stressed- only backwards!

DISCLAIMER: SPOILERS FOR THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF, SERIES NINE EPISODE FOUR, AHEAD!

The bakers

This week, the boys impressed. As usual, Rahul was unaware (and completely modest) of how good he actually is. Jon brought colour to the tent with (another of) his mad shirts (and a tutu when he presented his Showstopper) as well as great flavours and brilliant bakes. Dan, who I’m tipping to win at the moment (sorry Ruby!), showed the judges (and the other bakers) that he’s one to watch- again earning himself the coveted Hollywood handshake.

The challenges

Dessert Week began with the Signature Challenge, in which the nine remaining bakers were asked to make a roulade with a perfect swirl and a melt-in-the-mouth meringue.

This challenge produced a variety of results, a cherry liqour spiked roulade, a ‘dream’ inspired roulade and a roulade inspired by one of the bakers spending a lot of time in the Florida Keys. There was one handshake worthy offering and plenty lacking the signature swirl.

Next up came the Technical Challenge which saw the bakers make a raspberry blancmange (which I’m luckily too young to remember ever eating and, to be fair, wouldn’t want to anyway!) and 12 Langues De Chat biscuits (that’s cat’s tongue, for non-French folk like me!). This challenge put the ‘stressed’ in ‘desserts’, let me tell you! The bakers found themselves in a tailspin over the troublesome technical, with a few melting moments turning the baker’s blancmange from a wobbling wonder to a weeping wet thing- luckily some bakers had the biscuits to redeem themselves, even just a little bit! After that I probably wouldn’t attempt a blancmange, as I wouldn’t subject my parents to what they’d say should only be reserved for school dinners (or, in my Mum’s case, the dog should eat it and throw it up later!).. but I’d be tempted to make the biscuits, as they looked delicious and (to be fair) everything sounds better in French!

For the bakers final challenge, the Showstopper Challenge, the bakers were asked to make a dessert with a twist. What was the twist, I hear you ask? The twist, eager reader, was that the baker’s chosen dessert had to be hidden by a magnificent chocolate globe which the baker’s would melt (using a sauce) to reveal their dessert. Yes, it was as exciting as I make it sound! This challenge brought my stress levels (and my chance of catching diabetes through my TV screen, which I’m glad isn’t a thing) up a lot as the bakers raced to create their chocolate masterpieces. Due to the troublesome nature of chocolate, and the fact that the UK was enjoying a heatwave at the time (so writing this post looking out at a grey sky and crazy wind is even more depressing), some of the bakers found themselves in trouble- with some desserts melting before the big reveal. Other bakers triumphed in this challenge, especially in making me really hungry for chocolate and dessert…at the same time!

The result

When it came to the reveal this week, Rahul stepped down as Star Baker (for now) in favour of another man- ‘Dan The Man’, who wowed the judges and earned himself yet another Hollywood Handshake.

Of course, that wasn’t the shock of the episode. Terry, who has given varied performances so far, was too ill to compete this week. As well as meaning the episode wasn’t full of comedy gold, this had an affect on the end result as nobody (yes, nobody) went home.

This meant that the girls (mainly Karen and Briony, though Kim-Joy was in a compromising position pre-Showstopper) could breath a sigh of relief….and make sure they work extra hard next week not to be the Baker (or Bakers!) to go home!

I think, judging by this week, there’s going to be a male winner this year (the first since Series 3’s winner John Whaite). Although, anything could happen between now and the final- it’s so exciting!

Next week, the Bakers are ‘spicing up their lives’ with the tent’s first ever Spice Week.

This week, I went back to basics with butterfly wing cakes so the recipe will be up on Sunday!

What did you think of the episode?

Rocky road and flapjacks

Hey guys!

I’m back with another recipe post.

This time, I decided on celebrating the second episode of the current series of The Great British Bake Off (you can read my thoughts on the episode HERE) by making not one but two sweet treats.

To mark the second episode of GBBO, I thought I’d make rocky road (a delicious and simple treat my family and friends always request) and flapjacks (something I’d tried plenty of times before, but never made!).

Both bakes are perfect for quiet nights in, eating with a cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate or they’d make the perfect gift (that is if you can keep your hands off them, at least!).

Rocky roads take 20 minutes plus freezing time (they should be chilled for at least 2 hours). The flapjacks take 50 minutes.

Here’s how a few simple ingredients (and some of your sweet time) turn into this:

Ingredients:

200g digestive biscuits (can use other biscuits, e.g. rich tea/shortbread/chocolate digestive biscuits)

135g butter/ margarine

200g chocolate (I used 100g dark, 100g milk. Can use other types if you prefer)

2-3 tbsps golden syrup

100g mini marshmallows (these can be substituted for nuts, fruit or whatever you fancy!)

Icing sugar (to dust)

Method:

1. Line a square tin with baking parchment

2. Place the biscuits in a freezer bag or in a bowl and bash using a rolling pin until they’re broken into a mixture (everything between dust and 50p sized lumps).

3. Melt the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a pan (I usually melt these ingredients in a bowl over a pan of boiling water) until there are no lumps visible. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

4. Take the biscuits and marshmallows (plus any additional ingredients you choose to include) and stir into the chocolate mixture until everything is completely covered.

5. Carefully tip the mixture into the lined tin and leave to chill for at least 2 hours.

6. When ready, cut into fingers or squares, dust with icing sugar and enjoy!

If that wasn’t enough for you, here’s how a few humble ingredients turn into this:

Ingredients:

100g butter/margarine

100g Demerara sugar

75ml Golden Syrup

A dash of vanilla extract (can use another extract, e.g almond, if you prefer)

250g rolled oats

100g chocolate (can use whatever chocolate you like, I used milk)

(I actually made a few without the chocolate, but I didn’t manage to get a nice enough picture of them unfortunately!)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a square tin with baking parchment.

2. Place the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan and heat until melted together.

3. Remove from heat, mix in the oats and your chosen extract

4. Press into the lined tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden.

5. Leave to cool until firm (should take about 5 minutes) and then cut into bars. Leave to cool completely.

6. Melt the chocolate and half dip the flapjacks in the chocolate mix. Leave to cool until set, then serve.

That’s me for now but, as always, I’ll be posting my thoughts on the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off. So, stay tuned!

Have any of you been baking this weekend?

The Great British Bake Off Week 1

Ah it’s that time again! Nothing is more British (and more enjoyable, for me at least!) than watching 12 people panic over pastries and crumble over Paul Hollywood’s icy stare…(I mean, who wouldn’t?!).

 

The Great British Bake Off is back for its ninth series (its second at its new home, Channel 4), which means we’re set for a few weeks of cake (and pastry and bread, of course) delights, frights and plenty of baking based banter.

(Can you tell I’m excited?!)

As a self confessed super fan (at least if watching every season, sometimes at least twice, and owning my very own Great British Bake Off apron- cheers Mum and Dad!- qualifies as super fan!), I thought I’d give you a breakdown of what happens each week plus my thoughts on the contestants, the bakes, the Star Baker and (in the end) the latest to leave the tent.

DISCLAIMER: SPOILERS FOR THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF, SERIES NINE EPISODE ONE, AHEAD!

The bakers

(I got Ruby in the annual Great British Bake Off sweep with my friends, so I guess if I had to pick someone to root for I guess it’d be her!).

A brand new baker’s dozen entered the tent and let me tell you I’m excited! It’s early days (obviously) but a few people stood out. As she proved, Manon (a Software Project Manager from London) had Star Baker Potential.  I was also impressed by Briony (a full time parent from Bristol), Dan (also a full time parent, from London) and [surprisingly] Terry (a retired Air Steward from West Midlands).

I sort of love Karen already, too, especially after she (having finished her Signature bake early) sat eating a packet of crisps, completely ignorant of the chaos around her!

The challenges

This week was Biscuit Week and the show began with the Signature Challenge, in which the bakers were tasked with making 24 identical ‘regional’ biscuits. This challenge produced all kinds of different results, including orange blossom flavoured biscuits, biscuits featuring (or at least they were meant to feature) lambs and Yorkshire parkin biscuits finished just in time for a celebratory packet of crisps….as you do!

The second challenge, the Technical Challenge, was actually technical as the baker’s had to make Wagon Wheels. This presented difficulties for a few bakers especially (Antony had never heard of them and Manon, despite coming third in the challenge, had trouble getting her head around the name (settling for ‘wheely wagon’ instead!)) and, to be fair, was amazed by how fiddly this bake was- part of me half expected Paul and Prue to ask the bakers to make the red wrapper from scratch, too!

(Safe to say, if I ever find myself eating a Wagon Wheel, I’ll appreciate the work that goes into it).

The final challenge, the Showstopper, was perhaps one of the hardest (especially this early) in the history of The Great British Bake Off: a biscuit selfie (how current?). This involved several layers of biscuit and icing, in the hope of depicting a memorable moment in the baker’s life. For many of the bakers, this ‘moment’ was a mountain climb (maybe they had to specify this in their application?), but a particularly memorable one was Dan’s: a less than flattering depiction of himself and his first-born child (is it a prawn? is it a pink burrito? is it a…well you decide).

The result

When it came to the nail-biting reveal, Manon (unsurprisingly) gained the accolade of Star Baker- showing the other contestants (and the viewers) she’s the one to watch…for now. Despite failing to complete her marathon (in biscuit form, at least), and failing to cement her place at the top in the other two challenges, Ruby survived the first week of the competition. The unlucky first contestant to leave the tent was Imelda, who failed to wow the judges with her offerings.

Aside from Manon, nobody (so far) screams ‘winner’…just yet. Of course, there are plenty more weeks to go.

Next week, the bakers face Cake Week.

As for me, Cake Week came early as I (expecting cake based challenges this week) baked marble cupcakes for watching the first episode with my mates [Recipe will be uploaded on Sunday, so keep a look-out!].

What did you think of the episode?