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?

Carrot cake squares

Hey guys! I’m a day late (considering I spent yesterday mainly in bed feeling sorry for myself- after cocktail making for my friend’s 21st and falling down some stairs, sober I’ll add!) but I hope how good this recipe is will make up for it.

It’s autumn now and, like it or not, the cold nights are drawing in. So my carrot cake squares are perfect for adding a little warmth.

Here’s how to make them:

Ingredients:

For the cake:

3oz light brown sugar

1 large egg

75ml sunflower oil

3oz self raising flour

2tsp ground cinnamon

100g carrots, washed, peeled and coarsely grated

50g walnuts

50g sultanas

For the icing:

4oz cream cheese

4oz icing sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190 (170 fan) and line a tin with baking parchment

2. Whisk together the sugar, eggs and oil until thick

3. Fold in the flour, cinnamon, carrots, walnuts and sultanas. Then place in the lined tin.

4. Bake for 30-35 minutes and leave to cool.

5. Beat together the icing sugar, vanilla and cream cheese

6. Cut the cooled cake into squares, top with as much or as little of the icing as you wish, top with a walnut and enjoy.

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!

The Great British Bake Off Week 6

The bakers could really filo the pressure this week, as the competition creeps closer and closer to the final, in a series that’s been handshakes aplenty, filled with glorious bakes and plenty of nail biting moments.

( You can read my thoughts on the previous weeks: The Great British Bake Off Week 1, The Great British Bake Off Week 2, The Great British Bake Off Week 3, The Great British Bake Off: Week 4 and The Great British Bake Off: Week Five)

This week, the bakers faced Pastry Week and Paul and Prue were on the hunt for the perfect puff and fantastic filo- which some of the bakers delivered.

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

The bakers

This week, I think the girls (and Rahul, as usual) stood out. I’m just annoyed that Rahul hasn’t accepted, six weeks in, that he’s actually a good baker- he needs more confidence (which reminds me of my old school reports). Briony proved she was one to watch and Ruby, minus the technical, produced her fair share of great bakes this time around (which puts me in a good position for the sweep!).

The challenges

Pastry Week began with the Signature Challenge, where the bakers were asked to make 6 samosas (three sweet and three savoury), plus a dipping sauce to accompany them.

There are a few triumphs (did I mean handshakes? Yes I did!) in the tent but a few soggy samosas spoil the bakers chances!

Next up came the Signature Challenge, where the bakers were asked to make six Puits D’Amour (nope, me neither) which are puff and choux pastries with jam and creme pat (which, to me, just sounds like the most extra breakfast pastry ever).

There were a few hiccups, with reading recipes and baking times, but some bakers managed to produce pastries the judges loved.

Finally came the Showstopper Challenge, where Paul and Prue asked the bakers to create a handshaped pie, perfect for a banquet.

This produced a variety of results including mythical creatures, actual creatures and playable croquet!

Of course many bakers struggled, either with baking time, flavours or avoiding the dreaded Soggy Bottom (whilst one baker struggled getting the parchment off, we’ve all been there!).

The result

When it came to the reveal this week, Briony was crowned Star Baker which- considering her great work so far- has been a long time coming!

The baker to leave the tent was Dan, which was a shock if you thought about his performance in previous weeks.

This week really proved that anyone could win, as I’m not really sure who to root for.

Having survived Pastry Week, the bakers will face an all new Vegan Week- how trendy?

That’s it from me, for now, but you can expect a recipe post (I’m going in the archives for this one as I haven’t baked this week, sorry!) on Sunday and I’ll be back on Wednesday for all this Bake Off.

Did you watch tonight’s episode? What did you think?

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?

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?