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Mini gingerbread houses

mini gingerbread houses

We can’t get enough of pinning inspirational recipe images to our BakingMad.com pinterest board recently and couldn’t help but notice some really cute miniature gingerbread houses appearing on our feeds.

We really wanted to give this a try and set about creating our own mini gingerbread house recipe.

Firstly, we drew out a template for our houses and cut them out from card. (See image below for measurements)

template

The sides and roof panels are the same height and width as each other, so you could simply cut out one front panel and one side panel and use the same template multiple times to save on excess cutting out.

We made up the gingerbread dough, wrapped it in clingfilm and popped it in the fridge to chill. By chilling the dough it is easier to work with when it comes to rolling it out and cutting, otherwise you may find that the dough sticks to your rolling pin.

We then used the templates to cut out the house panels and lay them out on a baking tray lined with baking paper. You can at this stage chill in the fridge again before baking to limit the amount of spreading that may occur with your biscuits when baked.

After baking, as the biscuits had spread out a little we again used our templates to trim them back into shape. These were then left to cool on a wire rack whilst we made our royal icing.

If you want to get really creative you can colour the royal icing or even mix edible glitter in with it for an extra sparkly effect. This is then used as a glue to stick all the panels together. Don’t worry if you have a few gaps this can be filled with extra royal icing to give a snowy effect to your mini houses.

gingerbread house method

Make sure that they are fully set before perching on your delicious cup of cocoa and enjoy. Alternatively, wrap up in cellophane and ribbon and gift to your family and friends – they make great stocking fillers which can be enjoyed on Christmas morning.

Festive film night

popcorn

Call us sad, but we are super excited to hear that the Christmas edition of the Radio Times is on sale this week. We have our highlighters at the ready to flick through the pages and select our top pick of Christmas films and TV programmes, but we figured if we are going to have a festive film night then we need an equally seasonal snack to go with it.

Step forward our caramel and cinnamon popcorn!

This recipe is so simple to make and would also make a great homemade Christmas gift for any movie buffs in the family.

ingredients

We began with a few simple ingredients: butter, salt, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and the all important Billington’s unrefined dark muscovado sugar and Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract. Using a good quality dark muscovado sugar really will make all the difference to the flavour of your popcorn, giving it a lovely rich treacle flavour, however, if you prefer a lighter caramel flavour you could swap this for a light muscovado sugar.

Be careful when making up the caramel as it is extremely hot, plus a handy tip is to wash up your saucepan immediately after unless you fancy fighting with the difficult to budge caramel stuck to your pan. If you prefer a stronger festive flavour you can increase the quantity of cinnamon or even add a touch of nutmeg if preferred.

You will want to act quickly once the caramel is ready, before it sets so make sure that you have prepared your popcorn beforehand and have placed it in a large enough bowl.

popcorn 1

If you can’t wait to tuck in or your Christmas movie is about to start you can serve your popcorn straight away. Alternatively, we like to bake our popcorn in the oven to crisp up and give that warm cinema-style effect.

Now for the all important decision – which movie to watch first?? Let the movie marathon begin …

We have got Christmas all wrapped up!

sprouts present

Having recently blogged about the fabulous gifts available at BakerandMaker we are feeling rather smug with ourselves that all our Christmas gifts have been found, bought and are sat waiting to be beautifully wrapped and placed underneath the Christmas tree.

Now all we need to do is locate some beautiful gift wrap to dress up our presents and it will be ‘all stations go’ with our scissors, tape and ribbon.

Of course as we are BakingMad, we are loving all of the foodie wrapping paper available in stores right now and wanted to share with you our favourite picks.

john lewis

For an elegant foodie gift, perhaps for the grandparents, this stylish Mince Pie gift wrap from John Lewis would look beautiful underneath the Christmas tree.

£4.00 (3m)
www.johnlewis.com

notonthehighstreet

The kids are sure to love this adorable gingerbread man wrapping paper from notonthehighstreet.com almost as much as the gift inside (we do!)

£4.00 (5 sheets)
www.notonthehighstreet.com

xmas pud

This cheeky Marks and Spencer Christmas pudding wrapping paper is seriously cute and would be great to dress up a present for Mum and Dad.It is also a bargain roll with a whopping 8 metres!

£3.50 (8m)
www.marksandspencer.com

sprouts

Although not everyone is a fan of the real things served at Christmas dinner we simply cannot get enough of this fun Brussel Sprouts wrapping paper. If we could, we would get wallpaper made up of this quirky design.

£3.50 (3m)
www.paperchase.co.uk

With gift wrap this desirable we are not sure that we will even want to part with our gifts now! You will find us Christmas morning, foraging through the piles of disgarded paper to rescue this paper and ironing out for reuse next year!

For more Christmas wrapping inspiration, follow our BakingMad.com ‘wrapped up…’ board on pinterest.

All I want for Christmas is…

group shotChristmas shopping mania is in full force already this year and if you are anything like us you will be avidly searching for the ideal present for your loved one – well look no further we have found just the place to find your perfect gift!

We came across Baker and Maker at the recent Cake and Bake show in London and totally fell in love with pretty much everything on their stall. If you are shopping for a baker or a maker then you will be spoilt for choice from their vast collection of crafty treasures.

There really is something for everyone from a chic kitchen gift to a cute stocking filler. We have whittled down our top ten favourite picks and have been lucky enough to even give some of them a test run (it was a tough job, but someone has got to do it!)

For the keen baker…
apron

‘It’s a beautiful day apron’
£24.50

We think it’s always a beautiful day when there is something baking in the kitchen and this would be a great gift for a keen baker.

measuring cup

‘Ceramic botanical measuring cups’
£18.50

We just love the pretty designs on these measuring cups, both practical and elegant.

biscuit tin

‘Biscuit tin – beasties’
£14.95

No kitchen is complete without a tin to store your freshly baked biscuits in. The woodland themed designs are so cute too.

cake slice

‘Sparkly cake slice
£12.95

We cannot get enough of these glitzy kitchen accessories – a must have for any baking diva!

tea towel

‘Retro biscuit teatowel’
£11.50

We have a secret fondness for tea towels and coincidentally biscuits so we couldn’t resist adding this to our wishlist.

Stocking fillers …

unicorn

‘Unicorn sprinkle shaker’
£7.50

This had our inner child squealing with delight – a unicorn, that dispenses sprinkles for our cakes! Every baker simply needs one of these!

spoons

‘Ceramic song bird measuring spoons’
£5.95

This baking essential has an adorable song bird design that reminds us of the twitter bird. This would be a cute gift for a teenage baker also fond of tweeting.

cutters

‘Love bird cookie cutters’
£2.95

We would love to find these in our Christmas stocking, it would also make a wonderful Secret Santa gift for a baker.

Nice biscuit coasters

Nice biscuit coasters
£14.95

We think these coasters are more than just nice, they are adorable! Perfect for any biscuit lover, just no dunking!

Something for the little chefs…

Safari cutter

‘Safari cutters’
£6.95

This would be a really fun present to introduce little ones to baking, there are four charming designs to choose from hippo, giraffe, lion and elephant.

lunch box

‘Rusty the fox lunchbox’
£4.75

We just fell in love with this sweet lunchbox and can’t think of no better way to transport our homemade bread to work.

We have decided to spread the Christmas love and share these wonderful gifts out with our Facebook and Twitter followers during the Christmas period so don’t forget to follow us on Facebook Baking Mad UK and Twitter @BakingMadUK

We are off now to finish our own Christmas shopping at www.bakerandmaker.com

Merry Christmas!

Taste of London 2014

Taste sign

Twinkling Christmas lights, the smell of mulled wine and festive food – yes, we were at the Taste of London winter show this weekend.

The beautiful Tobacco Docks were a wonderful setting for this festive event and the stands and food on offer certainly did not disappoint. We also picked up some great baking and flavour inspiration whilst we were there.

Macaroons We particularly loved these colourful and delicious macaroons from Ganache Macaron. Seeing all these delicious bitesize treats has reminded us what a great homemade gift our own Christmas macaroons are.

Note to self: add ingredients for macaroons to Christmas shopping list.

Some bakers had got really creative with the Christmas theme, there was an adorable display of Christmas elves completely crafted from chocolate which looked too good to eat.

Christmas cupcakes There were also a good selection of festive cupcakes and a rather impressive tiered Grinch cake. To make your own version of these Christmas cupcakes check out our recipe with a simple step by step guide to decorate with your favourite characters.

Christmas tree We were particularly fond of the marshmallow stands. These really would make a delicious foodie Christmas gift (hint hint Santa!) however if you aren’t lucky enough to receive these in your stocking this year, don’t get too down as we have a simple recipe to make you own.

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the show and left brimming with lots of creative ideas to spread the Christmas joy this year, we really can’t wait for the big day now.

The ultimate guide to Stir Up Sunday

stir up sunday dateOne of our favourite Christmas traditions is Stir Up Sunday – officially the first day where it is publicly acceptable to start preparing for the impending Christmas celebrations.

Stir Up Sunday is a great family tradition with everyone in the family having a chance to give the batter a mix and make a wish. Some households even place a coin (traditionally a sixpence) in the pudding which is thought to bring good luck, health and happiness in the upcoming year.

We have fond memories at BakingMad.com HQ of stirring the Christmas pudding mix as kids and making a special Christmas wish, whilst festive tunes were playing in the background – good quality family time. So, we have put together the ultimate guide to Stir Up Sunday for you all.

Step 1 – find a yummy Christmas pudding recipe on BakingMad.com. CHECK!

Click here for our Christmas pudding recipe

Step 2 – buy your ingredients. We personally believe that using the very best quality ingredients that you can afford will turn your Christmas pudding into a real showstopper. Ingredients shot

Step 3 – check that you have got all the correct baking equipment, such as non-stick baking parchment, tin foil, kitchen string, wooden spoon and of course the pudding basin! A 1.25lt basin is perfect for a standard recipe and all these bits can be bought from good homeware stores.

Step 4 – so now comes the time to begin making your pud

[Cue the cheesy Christmas music – ‘All I want for Christmas is yoooooou……”]

TIP: It is ideal to soak your fruit overnight, however, don’t worry if you forget or don’t have the time a quick cheat tip is to place the fruit in a microwaveable bowl, pour over the liquid, cover and microwave for a few minutes to allow the fruit to absorb the liquid.

Traditionally bakers use rum or brandy to soak their fruit however you can use your favourite tipple or if you are looking for a child friendly version, replace the alcohol with fruit juice.
Follow the recipe and don’t forget to gather everyone round to make a wish (sssh it’s a secret, don’t share your wish otherwise it won’t come true!)

Once your pudding has been made store in a cool, dark place until the big day. If you have time, make extra puds (or even mini puds) as these are great homemade giftS to impress your friends and family.

ON THE BIG DAY:

Steam your pudding for several hours (as per the recipe instructions) and serve with delicious brandy butter. We even have a homemade brandy butter recipe for you to try.

Christmas Pudding image For an extra flare try flambéing your pud – once steamed turn out on to a dish with a rim to catch any excess alcohol. Pour 3-4 tablespoons of spirit (brandy, rum or whisky) into a long-handled ladle and heat over a gas hob until hot, carefully tilt the ladle over the gas flame until it sets alight. Then gently pour over the pudding (be careful not to burn your hands) and carry to the table.

[Cue the applause]

Make sure that the flames are fully out before serving and enjoy!

Bonfire night bonanza

Toffee apples Remember, remember the 5th November… childhood memories of bonfire night for the BakingMad.com team brings back happy memories of enjoying yummy sausages and toffee apples whilst watching spectacular firework displays. This year though we have decided to give the traditional toffee apple a twist with these fun lollies.

As a kid we remember enjoying the toffee more than the apples so have used cute apple cookie cutters to shape our apple slices into more manageable bitesize chunks. This is a really fun activity to do with the kids in the build up to bonfire night, plus you can always use the remaining apple in a different dish, such as apple sauce to go with your Sunday roast, so as not to waste anything.

Making the toffee will require adult supervision though as it will be extremely hot, however, once cooled down slightly, the kids can get their fingers sticky dipping their apple lollies. You could even decorate further with chocolate or sprinkles if you like.

A twist that the adults in the family might enjoy is to coat the toffee with a crumble mix to create apple crumble on a stick. Simply mix together, plain flour, unrefined light muscovado sugar, cinnamon and butter until it forms a breadcrumb like texture then dip your lollies in, whilst they are still sticky.

All that is left to do now is wrap up warm and enjoy your lollies whilst watching the sky fill up with fireworks. What better way to spend your bonfire night?

You can find our toffee apple lollies recipe here.

Behind the scenes with Eric Lanlard

Sam clapper clapper lou

We were really excited to go behind the scenes this month with Eric Lanlard whilst he was filming some yummy new ‘How to’ videos for us.

All attempts of any summer holiday diets went out of the window when we saw what was on the cards for this shoot; Comté cheese and ham savoury muffins, heirloom tomato tatin, cinnamon and banana flapjacks, pain au chocolate, salted caramel jumbo macaroons, red velvet ice cream, the list goes on…

As ever, Eric was full of beans and super excited to get ‘Baking Mad.’ The smells that were coming from the kitchen were so amazing it was times like this that we wish our ‘how to’ videos had smell-o-vision to share with you.

tomato tart

It was difficult to decide what our favourite dish was as every time we tried something new our minds were changed. The dishes looked really impressive when finished and were so simple to make. The heirloom tomato tatin was definitely top of our list of must-try recipes when we get back to our kitchen. Fresh tomatoes, wholegrain mustard, pastry…what more could you want for an alfresco summer lunch or a weekend treat?

We also enjoyed the perfect pain au chocolat. Although a lot of effort is required to make the wonderfully buttery flaky pastry you will be glad you have given it a try when you enjoy the indulgent gooey chocolate centre, still warm from the oven. Perfect with a nice hot drink – they were so moreish the crew were fighting each other for the last one.

eric shot

As you can imagine not everything runs smoothly on a video shoot – having to contend with low flying airplanes, builders drilling in the streets outside and the odd mix up of words is par for the course and today was no different with plenty of footage for the blooper reel.

In between takes we particularly enjoyed taking turns to work the clapper board. ’Action!’ We even added little dance moves to each one to keep the baking mad energy going.

bobbi

After a fun, yet tiring day (even Bobbi had to have little power nap) we were so full of delicious cakes we practically had to roll home.

The new videos are now available in our ‘How to’ section so pop over and give them a watch. We hope that you enjoy them as much as we did filming them.

Here are a selection of the videos

Cinnamon and banana flapjack

Upside-heirloom-tomato-tatin

Raspberry Paris brest

Happy Baking!

food shot food shot 2 food shot 3
food shot 3

The Cake and Bake show rolls into London

Earls court

Almost the weekend and what better way to celebrate than a visit to the Cake and Bake show in Earls Court to eat my body weight in yummy cupcakes, brownies and bread! Good job I wore my stretchy jeans!

NM bottle As soon as I entered I was in awe of the gigantic Nielsen-Massey (headline sponsors) bottle on display in the foyer – I wish I had a handbag big enough to bring that home with me. Think of all the cupcakes you could make with that.

There was a whole variety of fascinating stands offering all things baking ranging from tools and ingredients to the baked delights of cookies, marshmallows, fudge – even a gormet sausage rolls and pies stand! I know what I am having for dinner tonight…

I made a beeline for the Nielsen-Massey emporium (it would be rude not to) which was beautifully filled with stunning arrays of lemon and orange trees, orchids and roses representing their range of delicious extracts. Visitors were taken on a journey to discover the many scents and flavours available. I particularly enjoyed the individual scent tests – peppermint was my favourite as it reminded me of Christmas.

NM Emporium nm emporium 2 NM EMPORIUM 3

bakeface2 After discovering Nielsen-Massey, I headed over to the Billington’s stand to share my #bakeface. There was a super fun photo booth set up inviting visitors to try a Billington’s brownie or cookie and take crazy photos of their #bakeface with their friends and family. I must say I got a little distracted with the wind machine when mine was taken (rabbit in headlights springs to mine) but it was a great momento of the day to take away.

The demonstration stages were brimming full of talented chefs and bakers that would appeal to all; Eric Landlard, John Whaite, Frances Quinn and Simon Rimmer just to name a few.

unicorn One of my highlights had to be the outrageously fabulous (and slightly bonkers) cake on display of Queen Mary Berry riding on a majestical unicorn – if you are visiting the show over the weekend this is a must!

Another great show from the Cake and Bake team and it is only the first day. If you have tickets for the weekend get there early and take advantage of all the great activities – and don’t forget to share your #bakeface to be in the chance to win a fantastic prize.

Happy Baking!!

bakeface

Here comes the bride

As a BakingMad.com bride-to-be, the thought of having a go at baking my own wedding cake both excited me and terrified me at the same time. I originally thought “so much to do, so little time” and had visions of me on the morning of my wedding adding final touches to my cake with rollers in my hair! Naked wedding cake

I have felt much more at ease though since I went behind the scenes of our latest BakingMad.com ‘how to’ video shoot with Juliet Sear. Juliet, is renowned for her gloriously stunning specialist wedding cakes available at her Fancy Nancy shop and throughout the shoot showed us some simple and beautiful decorating tips that I cannot wait to put in to practice.

The showstopper for me though was the three tier naked wedding cake that Juliet created. The tiered triple layered sponge cakes, filled with vanilla bean and strawberry and raspberry buttercream and decorated with fresh seasonal berries looked so picture perfect that I couldn’t believe just how simple it was to construct. Juliet piping

Juliet shared great tips on how layer the cakes, pipe the filling and securely stack with dowels. I particularly loved the tip to ensure an even flat cake when the sponge has baked into a dome shape in the oven. By removing the cake from the tin, then placing a thick small cake drum in the base and returning the cake inside, the sponge was then lifted above the level of the top of the tin allowing a knife to trim the excess sponge using the tin as a guide – this left me wondering why did I not think of this before?

Despite having fallen in love with the idea of a naked wedding cake, I then was swayed once more when I saw Juliet’s royal icing and buttercream piping skills. She showed us how to pipe buttercream ruffles and roses, an amazing royal icing floral lace effect and how to create realistic sugar paste roses. Now I am completely spoilt for choice with inspiring cake ideas for my big day. Lace cake

If you are looking to make a showstopper celebration, anniversary or wedding cake then all of these videos are a great place to start. Juliet really makes the unimaginable achievable – I am already planning to marry off other members of the BakingMad.com team just so that I can try out all of these cakes!

All of Juliet videos are available to watch in our how to sections or via these links.

How to make a naked wedding cake
How to decorate a wedding cake
How to decorate a cake with a buttercream effect
How to make sugar paste roses