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The latest season of that BBC One Baking Show has ended and Selasi wasn’t crowned the winner, much to the dismay of half the UK population. The show as we know it will be no more as it up sticks to Channel 4 from next year. Goodbye Mary and the comedic duo Mel and Sue. Hello to a plethora of adverts right at the crucial moment we found out who is going home. Boo. 

Alas, cake always makes things better and what better way to commiserate by getting your bake on.

I’m not the biggest chocolate cake fan, however, I have all the time in the world for Gâteau Fondant au Chocolat. I first came across it in a little pâtisserie near my dad’s apartment in Paris. It was love at first bite and is a cake I can never resist. 

It is a dense gooey cake in the middle with a crispy top, perfect warm with some ice cream on top. Even better, with limited ingredients and effort, you don’t need to be Mary Berry in the kitchen.

I’ve made this cake at home numerous times and now you can too, just save me a slice!

Who doesn’t love a bit of jam on toast? It’s the perfect snack with a cup of coffee when it’s miserable outside. Something even better than toast is the use of jam in baked goods. To celebrate the launch of Mackays new Hand Stirred Conserves range, available exclusively within Asda stores across the UK, I went on a baking frenzy. With Strawberry, Raspberry and Cherry jam at the ready, I created Pear & Cherry Tarts and Pistachio & Raspberry Jam Cookies. Not wanting to miss out, my mom decided to make a Swiss Roll and Bakewell Tart Slices. It’s safe to say that we’re now full of sweet jammy goodness!

Founded in 1938, Mackays is a Scottish based company specialising in preserves (that’s jam to you & me!), curds and marmalade. They source all their strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants from the berry fields in eastern Scotland. Other than the fact, the berries are local, the temperate climate in Scotland allows for the fruit to be grown for longer, resulting in stronger flavours. In each batch of jam, whole berries are used which are mixed along with sugar and slowly boiled in traditional copper pans allowing the flavours to be released before gradually setting.

Before we could bake with the three different varieties of jam, we had to taste them. The Strawberry jam had a lovely sweet flavour to it and when spreading, it had a silky consistency. In each spoonful, whole strawberry pulp was found which is a rarity in a lot of jams you purchase in supermarkets, especially from reasonable priced ones. The Raspberry jam had a slightly thicker consistency and wasn’t as sweet as the strawberry, but that’s due to the natural tartness from the fruit. Once again, lovely whole raspberries were in the jam which I loved. The thickest of the jams was the cherry. Although I love eating cherries, I dislike cherry flavourings but the cherry jam, for me, was surprisingly nice. You didn’t get a fake cherry taste like you do in a lot of cherry products and for me, this was my favourite.

Once we tasted the jam, the fun was about to start!

I made a similar Jam Cookie (click for the recipe) before back in 2009 but instead of using walnuts and strawberry jam, I used pistachios and raspberry jam. The cookies turn out similar to shortbread but with the added crunch of the nuts. They are very quick to make and taste delicious, if I do say so myself. Grab a glass of milk and enjoy them!

Pistachio and Raspberry Jam Cookies

I wish I could say that the Bakewell Tart was our own recipe, but no one can do it better than good ‘ol Mary Berry. We missed out the almond extract due to forgetting to buy it and we didn’t bother with the icing on top, instead we added more almonds. It turned out really good. The tart was soft, flavourful and decadent. Once you have one slice, you want another!

Bakewell Tart Slice with Raspberry Jam

To make the Swiss Roll, we used a recipe from The Glasgow Cookery Book that my mom has had since she was in the Dough School in Glasgow. A similar recipe is on the Delicious Magazine website. We used Strawberry jam in the recipe. The trick is to roll it as soon as it’s out the oven so that it doesn’t crack. If at first you don’t succeed, well…. just pick up a fork and eat it anyway!

Swiss Roll with Strawberry Jam

The Pear & Cherry Tarts are the simplest thing to make and can be whipped up in under 10 minutes, well…. add another 10 minutes of fidgeting around, trying to find your knife and trying to not slice your fingers off. With only 5 ingredients, you can get a wonderful warm tart that is perfect with a scoop of ice cream for added wonderfulness.

Pear and Cherry Jam Tarts

Pear & Cherry Tarts

Ingredients

  • 1 box of Jus Rol Puff Pastry
  • 1 jar of Mackays Morello Cherry Jam
  • 1 tin of Del Monte Pear Halves in Juice, sliced into quarters or keep whole if you wish
  • 1 tbsp Cinammon sugar (or mix 1 tsp of Powdered Cinnamon with 1 tbsp Caster Sugar)
  • 1 tbsp Butter, melted

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C (Gas Mark 4 / 350°F)
  2. Roll out the ready made puff pastry and divide into equal rectangles
  3. Brush the edges of the pastry with the melted butter and then place the rectangles onto a non-stick baking tray (or line a baking tray with some non-stick baking parchment)
  4. Scoop a tablespoon of Cherry Jam into the middle of each rectangle and pat down ensuring there is approx a 1.5cm border on each side
  5. Place the sliced pears on top of the jam, overlapping one another. Ensuring you do not place them near the border. Sprinkle the Cinammon sugar on top.
  6. Bake in the oven for approx 15 minutes or until golden brown.
http://ananyah.com/2014/08/11/baking-with-mackays-hand-stirred-conserves-range/
  

This was a rather bumper post but I had to showcase the different varieties of jam in all of their glory. Now who is for a tart? Have you tried baking with jam before? How did it work out for you? What’s your favourite thing to make with jam?

Mackays Hand Stirred Conserves Range

Disclaimer: The Hand Stirred Conserves range was given to me by Mackays for review. Whilst the jam was complimentary, I was under no obligation to write a positive review and my comments reflect my true experience tasting and baking with the jam.

My obsession with all things pistachio continues, this time in the form of my favourite little bundle of joys… macarons. I’ve been eating these for years and the benefit of having a dad who lives in Paris means that I frequently get hand delivered boxes of them. This makes me happy. Sure there are places nowadays in Glasgow that sell macarons but I’ve found that they aren’t quite the same. They are either too bland, too chewy or have been frozen beforehand. Not good for this macaron monster.

One of my Christmas presents from Ross was a 3 hour Macaron Masterclass at The Cookery School, one of the most perfect gifts ever. During the class I learnt the tricks to getting the perfect egg white peaks and how to get the perfect pied (foot). After taking on board what I learnt and making a few vanilla and chocolate macarons in class, it was time to go it alone at home.

It was a little tricky getting the colouring just right for the shells. Next time, I need to add some more to make it darker as when baked in the oven they became a lot lighter than how they looked pre-cooked. It’s all about trial and error with these pesky things.

However, they turned out superb, if I do say so myself.

Pistachio Macarons

Ingredients

    For Macarons
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 25g pistachio nuts, finely ground, plus 2 tbsp finely chopped to decorate
  • 115g icing sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 50g caster sugar
  • green food colouring paste or liquid
  • For Filling
  • 55g unsalted butter, softened
  • green food colouring paste or liquid
  • 115g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp pistachio nuts, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Place the ground almonds, ground pistachio nuts and icing sugar in a food processor and process for 15 seconds until well mixed and then transfer into a bowl.
  2. Line two baking sheets with baking paper or a silicon mat.
  3. Place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until holding soft peaks (turn the bowl upside down and they should stay still). Gradually whisk in the caster sugar to make a firm, glossy meringue. Whisk in enough food colouring to give a pale green colour.
  4. Using a spatula, fold the almond mixture into the meringue one third at a time. When all the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, continue to cut and fold the mixture until it forms a shiny batter with a thick, ribbon-like consistency.
  5. Pour the mixture into a piping bag fitting with a 1cm plain nozzle. Pipe 32 small rounds onto the baking sheets. Tap the baking sheet firmly onto a work surface to remove any air bubbles. Sprinkle over the chopped pistachos. Leave at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 160°c/Gas Mark 3.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then carefully peel the macarons off the baking paper. Leave to cool completely.
  7. To make the filling, beat the butter and a little food colouring in a bowl. Gradually beat in the icing sugar until smooth and creamy. Stir in the pistachio nuts. Use to sandwich pairs of macarons together.
http://ananyah.com/2014/07/15/pistachio-macarons/

Pancake Day, to me, is one of the greatest days of the year. To make it oh so much better, Ross & I decided to make Pistachio Pancakes. I adore anything pistachio based, I even have pistachio shower gel! We didn’t originally set out to make these pancakes, but when I had some leftover pistachios and some green food colouring… it was fate.

They turned out delicious, so delicious I ate more for breakfast the morning after! Next time though, I think I’d add more food colouring as they were a little “too” light in colour. But don’t they sure look pretty?

Pistachio Pancakes

Ingredients

    Dry Ingredients:
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup ground pistachios
  • Wet Ingredients:
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, separating egg yolk from the egg white
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Green food colouring (I use Sugarflair Food Colouring Paste in Holly Green)

Method:

  1. Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Separate the eggs into separate bowls and whisk the egg whites until stiff (usually when you can turn bowl upside down without them moving)
  3. In another bowl, add the wet ingredients including the egg yolks and egg whites and gently fold them together.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Be careful not to over beat the mixture otherwise the consistency will dramatically change. The mixture should be lumpy so don't worry about trying to make it smooth. Add some food colouring with a cocktail stick and stir mixture until incorporated.
  5. In a pre-heated hot griddle pan, pour batter into the size you'd like your pancakes to be. Cook for a few minutes until bubbles start to form and the bottom is golden brown. Flip pancake and finish cooking the other side. Repeat until all the batter is used.
  6. To keep pancakes warm, have a dish towel nearby to place the pancakes in and cover over until all pancakes have been cooked.
  7. Serve pancakes with your desired toppings. Mine were (more!) ground pistachios, strawberries, bananas and lots of maple syrup!
http://ananyah.com/2014/04/02/pistachio-pancakes/

For some reason, every time I have a day off from work, I want to bake. It might be because I have a crazy stressful job & baking to me is a stress relief, not just a hobby. Every time I bake, I bake tons then give a batch to my next door neighbours & then the guys I work with. The other day I was requested to bring in some goodies as it’s been a while since I have. So, I decided to try something new…. Oreo Truffles & Banana Muffins. The result? AMAZING! I posted photos on twitter during the baking process & nearly everyone is asking for the recipe so I thought that I should get my butt into action & blog them ASAP! I hope that you all enjoy them & make them for yourself, if you do, let me know how you got on 😀

Oreo Truffles

Ingredients:
2 packs of Oreo Cookies (Morrisons in the UK are currently doing a deal on them, 49p instead of 99p, bonus!)
1 tub of Cream Cheese
300g White Chocolate, Melted

Method:
1. Crush Oreo’s using either a rolling pin or a mini food processor (I did, much easier plus I’m lazy!) and stir in softened cream cheese. Mix together well. Try & resist sticking your finger into the mixture. It’s addictive!

2. Roll the mixture into small balls with your hands (Warning! It’s messy!) and place on a baking tray which has wax paper on it to prevent sticking. Pop into the fridge for around 10-15 mins to set a little bit.

3. Melt chocolate in the microwave until melted (be careful it doesn’t burn!) and then dip balls into chocolate, tap off extra and place on the baking tray. I then used some crushed Oreo’s to sprinkle on top.

4. Leave to set & then pop into the fridge. Quick, Easy & To Die For!

Banana Muffins

Ingredients:
120g Walnuts
230g All-Purpose Flour
150g Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
115g Unsalted Butter, melted
3 Ripe Large Bananas, mashed well
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and place the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Line a 12 muffin baking tray with muffin cases.

2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nuts.

3. In a medium-sized bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. With a wooden spoon, lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined and the batter is thick and chunky. Do not over mix the batter, over mixing the batter making the muffins rubbery!

4. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins. Bake for around 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for five minutes and then remove muffins from the Baking Tray. This makes approx 12 muffins.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the urge to bake these cupcakes. I never made them before but had seen photos around the internet so I thought I’d recreate it at home. The result was AMAZING! They are so cute, I gave boxes to my friends who gave them the thumbs up. Now you can create them too 😀

Elmo & Cookie Monster Cupcakes” alt=”” title=”photo 1″ width=”500″ height=”669″ class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-4151″ />

FOR THE CUPCAKES
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs

ICING, FUR, MOUTH, NOSE & EYES
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 bottle of red and blue food coloring
Milkybar buttons
A packet of cookies (I use Oreos)
Black Icing pens (can buy at any supermarket, or use melted chocolate)
A packet of coconut shavings
Orange Peanut M&M’s for Elmo’s nose

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. line the cups of a muffin tin with paper or foil liners. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a liquid-measuring cup, mix milk and vanilla; set aside.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed, add half of dry ingredients, followed by milk-vanilla mixture, then remaining dry ingredients. Do not overmix.

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups, bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, approx 20 minutes (I timed it perfectly at 18 mins). Cool cupcakes 5 minutes in tin, then remove and cool completely on a rack before the next stage.

For the icing you will need to split this mix after making it then dye it the shade you want if making cookie monster and elmo. In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat unsalted butter, confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth. Mix in up to 1/2 cup more sugar or a few more teaspoons of milk as necessary to achieve a spreadable consistency. Makes enough for 12 cupcakes. After the icing has been made, add 1/2 the bottle of food coloring to dye it blue (and red).

For the fur, put some coconut shavings into a bowl and mix in the remainder of the food coloring to turn it blue (and red). You may need to use another bottle of food coloring depending on how many cupcakes you want to make.

ASSEMBLY
Take the cooled down cupcake and cut a mouth shape in it in a crescent shape & take out the cake slice so that there is a hole (think fairy cake but on the side). Roughly ice the cupcake with a spoon to cover the entire cupcake then dip the iced cupcake into the coconut to add the fur. The hard bit is remembering where you made the slit so use your thumb on the casing as a guide so you remember where to slide in the cookie.

For the mouth, cut a cookie in half (or use an entire one!) and push into the dug out hole, the icing should set it in there nicely as well.

For the eyes, get your milkybar buttons and put little black icing dots on them then push them into the top of the cupcake. If need be, add some blue (or red) icing to the back of them so they don’t fall off.

For Elmo’s nose, put some icing on one side of the M&M and push into the cupcake just below the eyes.

Ingredients:
225g (8oz) unsalted butter, softened
110g (4oz) caster sugar
350g (12oz) self-raising flour
½ tsp salt
6 tbsp raspberry jam
1 tbsp icing sugar

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth, and gradually work in the flour and salt. Now bring together to form a firm dough and turn on to a lightly floured surface.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of 6mm (¼in) and using a 5cm (2in) pastry cutter, cut out 24 rounds, re-rolling the dough as necessary. Now cut holes from the middle of 12 rounds using a smaller cutter. Arrange these rounds slightly spaced apart on baking sheets lined with baking parchment and bake for about 10 minutes until risen and golden.

Allow to cool on the baking sheets and then transfer to a cooling rack. Finally sandwich the rounds together with jam and dust lightly with icing sugar just before serving.

These are quick & yummy to make plus you can have fun making different shapes. Enjoy with a glass of milk 😀

Ingredients for Dark Chocolate Cupcakes:
40g Cocoa Powder
20g Dark Chocolate, broken into pieces & melted
240ml Boiling Water
175g Self Raising Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
115g Unsalted Butter
200g Granulated White Sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Ingredients for Chocolate Fudge Frosting:
120g Dark Chocolate, broken into pieces
150g Unsalted Butter
160g Icing Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 190°c & line a muffin tray with 15 muffin cases. In a small bowl stir the boiling hot water and the cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the melted Dark Chocolate then let it cool to room temperature. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder & salt.

2. With a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat only until mixed well. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.

3. Fill each muffin cup two-thirds full with mix and bake for about 15 minutes or until risen, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing.

4. For the frosting, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. With a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the chocolate and beat on low speed until mixed well. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is smooth and glossy.

5. Ice the cupcakes anyway you wish, I used a piping bag along with a large star nozzle. Top with Chocolate Squares or Sprinkles. I put the Chocolate & Love chocolate to good use & they turned out amazing!

Cupcakes! Who doesn’t love cupcakes? They cheer you up when you’re down, give you a sugar rush when you need it most & are addictive as hell! These cupcakes are no exception, in fact they are so addictive you can’t just have one!

Cupcake Ingredients:
60g soft unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg
20g cocoa powder
40ml red food colouring
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
150g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1½ teaspoons white vinegar
Cupcake Tray filled with paper cases

Cupcake Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Put the butter and the sugar in a bowl and use a hand held electric whisk and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well mixed.

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a very thick, dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured. Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pour in half the buttermilk. Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added.

3. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.

4. Spoon a tablespoon of the mixture into the paper cases and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes until the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the cream cheese frosting on top. This recipe makes approx 20 cupcakes.

Frosting Ingredients:
300g icing sugar, sifted
50g soft unsalted butter
125g cream soft cheese

Frosting Method:
1. Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a bowl using a hand held electric whisk on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is well mixed. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy making sure you don’t over beat it

2. Frost your cupcakes with a knife or an icing bag and then top with extra toppings of your choice. I topped it with 5 different things: sprinkles, crushed oreo’s, cake crumbs, pink sugar flakes & icing balls & bunny rabbit.

Ingredients:
115g unsalted softened butter
50g granulated white sugar
1 large egg
140g all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
100g of your choice of nuts, finely chopped (I used a mini food processor to finely chop them into pieces)
A jar of your favourite flavour of jam (I choose Strawberry)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180°c. Line a baking tray with grease proof paper and set aside.

2. Cream butter and sugar using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk (separate yolk from the white) and beat until combined.

3. Siv the flour into the bowl (so there are no lumps) with the mix and a pinch of salt beating until mixed thoroughly into a dough.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy and place your choice of chopped nuts on a plate. In your hands, roll the dough into small balls. Taking one ball of the dough at a time, dip into the egg white and then roll into the nuts coating it completely. Place each ball on the baking tray and using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each ball filling the indents with 1/2 a teaspoon of jam.

5. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until brown. Once ready, remove from oven and cool down before eating. These little cookies are golden brown on out outside & taste like buttery shortbread inside, perfect with a glass of chilled milk 😀

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