Archive for the Seasonal food Category

Zombie Gingerdead Men

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , on 02/12/2012 by libbyplummer
Zombie Gingerbread Men

Zombie Gingerbread Men

Not content with cobbling together a Spotify Christmas playlist, and turning my flat into a cut-price winter wonderland with the aid of two pieces of tinsel and a preposterously tiny Christmas tree, today I attempted to get into the festive spirit by making some gingerbread zombies. ‘Gingerdead Men’, if you will – inspired by Zombie Christmas – the new yuletide tune from Emmy the Great and Ash’s Tim Wheeler (video below).

Fancy making your own? Of course you do. It’s not hard. All you’ll need is a gingerbread man cutter and the simple recipe below.

Obviously you can decorate your biscuits in any way you see fit, but I chose to make mine into zombies. I clearly had too much time on my hands today as I made some into scared-looking gingerbread men as well. Then I took pictures of the zombie biscuits stalking and eating the scared gingerbread man. A cry for help, some might say.

What you’ll need:
350g/12oz plain flour (sieved)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
100g/4oz butter (softened)
175g/6oz light brown sugar
1 large egg
4 tbsp golden syrup

Icing for decoration – I couldn’t be arsed to make any so I used pre-bought stuff from Sainsburys

What to do:

Combine the flour, bicarb and ginger in a big mixing bowl then throw in the butter and rub the mixture together with your fingertips until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Next, mix in the sugar. In a different bowl, whisk together the egg and the golden syrup then pour into the flour mixture.

Use your hands to form the ingredients into a dough, adding a small of amount of flour if it feels a bit too sticky and not-very ‘dough-like’. Divide the dough into two large blobs and flatten into discs. Wrap them in clingfilm and bung in the fridge for at least an hour.

Zombie Gingerdead Men

Zombie Gingerdead Men

Preheat the oven to 190°/170° (fan oven)/375°F/gas mark 5. Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking parchment. This should prevent it from sticking and means that you don’t have to add any more flour.

Roll out to a thickness of about 4mm and cut out your shapes. Place on a lined baking sheet (leaving plenty of room between each biscuit) and stick in the oven for 12 minutes until the biscuits begin to turn golden brown at the edges. Leave to cool on the baking tray for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Zombie Gingerdead Men

Zombie Gingerdead Men

Wait until the biccies are completely cool before you start icing, or it won’t stick. I used pre-bought icing tubes for the decoration, or you can make your own royal icing if you prefer.

Zombie Gingerdead Men

Zombie Gingerdead Men

Update: Tim Wheeler from Ash says these are “amazing!”. Oh yeah.

Tim Wheeler

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Pop Art Halloween Brownies

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , on 14/10/2012 by libbyplummer

Pop Art Halloween Brownies

It’s nearly Halloween! Like any other time of year on London Baking, that means tenuously themed baked goods. This cakey creation is based on my usual brownie recipe with a colourful twist.

Without wishing to sound too much like an utter ponce, the colours of the toppings were in fact inspired by a painting (pretentious? Moi?). The piece of art in question is Andy Warhol’s witch print which I saw up close and personal on a recent visit to Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Andy Warhol witch

I really can’t be arsed to write out the recipe again, so I’ll just link to my Judge Fudge Brownie recipe – it’s exactly the same, just without the fudge. For the pop art topping, read on…

What you’ll need:
200g white chocolate
Food colouring

Pop Art Halloween Brownies

What to do:
Firstly decide how many colours you want to use (or you can can just use the choc in its natural white state). I wanted three colours, so I divided the bar into three. So far, so easy. For each colour, you need to break up the chocolate into pieces and drop into a bain-marie (that’s a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, to you and me).

Once the chocolate is melted, you can add as much colouring as you like. The laws of chemistry mean that a water-based colour won’t mix with the chocolate very well. I used gel colours, but to get the best shades, tinting powder is probably the most effective.

Pop Art Halloween Brownies

Once you’ve got your chosen shade, simply get a dollop of chocolate on a large spoon and drizzle over the cake. Obviously you’ll need to repeat this as many times as you’ve got colours. Once it’s completely set (bung it in the fridge to speed things up), cut into slices and scoff.

London Baking: best of 2011

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31/12/2011 by libbyplummer

End of year blog posts tend to be lazy and self-serving and in keeping with tradition, this one is no exception. It’s basically a hastily constructed round-up of my favourite London Baking blog posts from 2011, with some nice piccies along the way. A fitting tribute to the last year or simply a piece of cakey propaganda? It’s up to you.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! Let’s do it all again next year.

Irn Bru cupcakes for Burns Night:

Irn Bru cupcake

Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Rings:

Rock 'n' Roll Party Rings

Cakes for Japan raises £2,000:

Cakes for Japan cakes

Anarchy in the UK cupcakes for the Royal Wedding:

Royal wedding cupcakes

London Baking Batterberg cake:

London Baking Battenberg

Han Solo in Carbonite chocolates:

Han Solo in carbonite chocolate

Kendo Nagasaki cake pops:

Kendo Nagasaki cake pops

Peanut butter plectrum biscuits:

Smashing Pumpkin cupcakes:

Smashing pumpkin cupcakes

‘Razor Blades in Candy’ red velvet cake:

Razor blades in candy red velvet cake

Syrian Victoria sponge cake:

Syrian Victoria sponge

Star Wars Holiday Special chocolate and brandy buttercream cupcakes:

Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes

Happy new year!

3D Christmas tree gingerbread biscuits

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , , on 18/12/2011 by libbyplummer

3D Christmas tree gingerbread biscuitsTime for more festive baking, this time in the form of a 3D Christmas tree made from star-shaped gingerbread biscuits. I used a set of 3D Christmas cookie cutters that  my dear old mum picked up for me from Lakeland, but you can always make your own templates or go freestyle if you’ve got a steady hand. After a week of Christmas booze-ups, my hands were anything but steady during the making of this intricate biscuit-based structure so I stuck to using the cutters.

Tenuous Youtube link ahoy! Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree…

What you’ll need:
350g/12oz plain flour (sieved)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
100g/4oz butter (softened)
175g/6oz light brown sugar
1 large egg
4 tbsp golden syrup

For the icing:
200g/7oz icing/confectioner’s sugar (sieved)
some not-quite-boiling water
edible glitter/sprinkles  etc for decoration

Please note: You’ll need two of each star shape. I didn’t use the largest three cutters from the set, but if you want enough dough for those as well, then double the quantities given above.

3D Christmas tree gingerbread biscuits

What to do:

Mix the flour, bicarb and ginger together in a large mixing bowl. Chuck in the butter and rub the mixture between your fingertips until it looks like fine breadcrumbs, then add the sugar and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg and golden syrup then pour onto the flour mixture and use your hands to form it into a dough. Divide the dough into two large blobs and flatten into discs. Wrap them in clingfilm and bung in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 190°/170° (fan oven)/375°F/gas mark 5. Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking parchment to prevent it from sticking. Roll out to a thickness of about 4mm and cut out your shapes. You’ll need two of each size star. Place on a lined baking sheet and stick in the oven for 12 minutes until the biscuits begin to turn golden brown at the edges. Leave to cool on the baking tray for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

3D Christmas tree gingerbread biscuits

When the biscuits are completely cool you can have a crack at the decoration. Obviously you can add whatever icing and decorations you like, but here’s what I did:

Using a fork, mix together the icing sugar with 2 tbsp of not-quite-boiling water from the kettle. Add a little more water if the icing is too thick. Spread the icing on over the smallest two stars and cover one with edible glitter and the other with festive hundreds and thousands (on nonpareils). Take each biscuit and spread a small amount of icing to the tips of the star. After icing each biscuit, sprinkle the hundreds and thousands on before the icing sets. Leave to dry for an hour or so.

Finally, it’s time to construct your tree. Place one of the largest two biscuits on whatever you intend to serve the tree on (it’s a bugger to move once it’s all put together). Add a tiny bit of leftover icing to the centre and put the second biscuit on top, turning the star so that the points create the effect of branches. Build up the rest of the tree in the same way, using the small star with the hundreds and thousands on top. Lastly, secure the glittery star on the top using a good dollop of icing.

Star Wars Holiday Special chocolate and brandy buttercream cupcakes

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/12/2011 by libbyplummer

Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes

Never heard of the Star Wars Holiday Special? Let me enlighten you. After the success of the first Star Wars film in 1977, some bright spark had the idea of producing a Christmas/Holiday-themed TV special. What could possibly go wrong? A lot, that’s what. The story sees Chewbacca trying to get home to his family to celebrate Life Day – a thinly veiled, intergalactic version of Christmas. Highlights include a musical number by Jefferson Starship, a comedy skit in the Mos Eisley cantina (starring the Golden Girls’ Bea Arthur) and a jokey scene in which Chewbacca’s wife (essentially a Wookie in an apron) attempts to cook the Life Day dinner. Oh, and Princess Leia sings a song, too. It’s every bit as preposterous as it sounds. You can find it on YouTube or ebay, if the mood takes you…

For reasons that should be entirely obvious if you’ve read the previous paragraph, the Star Wars Holiday Special was only ever broadcast once in 1978 and has never been officially released. This festive cake-based tribute to what is possibly the worst TV programme ever made is formed of chocolate cupcakes with brandy buttercream icing (the icing method is adapted from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery). I used a Star Wars cupcake decorating kit, along with a Star Wars cupcake stencil set from Williams-Sonoma to decorate mine, but obviously you can use whatever you like.

Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes

What you’ll need:
3oz/85g self-raising flour (sieved)
4 tbsp cocoa powder (sieved)
4oz/110g caster sugar (sieved)
4oz/110g margarine/unsalted butter (softened)
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp milk (any kind you like)

For the icing:
4oz/110g unsalted butter (softened)
60ml milk
2 1/2 tbsp brandy butter (a good quality one that contains actual booze is best)
1 tsp vanilla extract
17.5oz/500g icing sugar (sieved)
Cocoa powder for decoration (if using stencils)

Makes 12 cupcakes

Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 170°C/150° (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases.

Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, and sugar in a large bowl, then cream in the margarine/butter using a fork. Next, add one egg at at time, mixing with the fork after adding each one. Then, add the milk and baking powder and mix until everything is combined. Lastly, give the mixture a few stirs with a whisk to make sure that it’s nice and smooth. Using a tablespoon, bung the mixture into the cupcake cases (dividing it evenly among them, of course).

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until a cocktail stick or skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (with no runny cake mix on it). Once done, take the cakes out of the oven and leave in the tin for around 15 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes

Once the cakes are completely cool, you can crack on with the icing. Cream together half the icing sugar with the butter, milk, brandy butter and vanilla extract using a fork, until smooth. You can add a little more brandy butter if you want a stronger taste, but I found 2 1/2 tbsp to be about right. Add the rest of the icing sugar and combine until you’ve got a smooth icing. Either spread onto your cupcakes using a palette knife or use an icing bag to pipe on and add whatever decorations you have to hand. Happy Life Day!

Chocolate marshmallow cupcakes

Posted in American food, Baking, Cakes, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , , on 27/11/2011 by libbyplummer

Chocolate marshmallow cupcakesThe evenings are drawing in, there’s a chill in the air and I can no longer resist saying “yes please” when the man in Costa Coffee asks if I want marshmallows on top of my hot chocolate. This is basically a recipe for a cakey version of my child-like beverage choice, making use of some Mini Mini Marshmallows (kindly given to me by the chaps at Dr Oetker) along with some suitably autumnal orange cupcake cases. Excellent when served with hot chocolate. Or wine, as it turns out. Here’s what to do…

What you’ll need:
3oz self-raising flour (sieved)
2 tbsp cocoa powder (sieved)
4oz caster sugar (sieved)
4oz margarine/unsalted butter (softened)
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp skimmed milk (or any kind of milk you like)

For the icing:
8oz icing/confectioner’s sugar (sieved)
3.5oz unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cocoa powder (sieved)

Makes 12 cupcakes

Chocolate marshmallow cupcakes

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 170°C/150° (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases.

Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, and sugar in a large bowl, then cream in the margarine/butter using a fork. Next, add one egg at at time, mixing with the fork after adding each one. Then, add the milk and baking powder and mix until everything is combined. Lastly, give the mixture a few stirs with a whisk to make sure that it’s nice and smooth. Using a tablespoon, bung the mixture into the cupcake cases (dividing it evenly among them, of course).

Chocolate marshmallow cupcakes

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until a cocktail stick or skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (with no runny cake mix on it). Once done, take the cakes out of the oven and leave in the tin for around 15 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Once the cakes are completely cool, you can crack on with the icing. Cream the icing sugar together with the butter using a fork, then mix in the vanilla once combined. Add the cocoa and mix in until the colour is even and you’re ready to stick it in an icing bag and pipe away. Before the icing sets, add a few mini marshmallows for decoration. Couldn’t be easier.

Libby’s Pumpkin Pie recipe for Thanksgiving

Posted in American food, Baking, Pies, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , on 24/11/2011 by libbyplummer

Libby's pumpkin pureeHappy Thanksgiving! Time for turkey, back-to-back NFL games and of course, pumpkin pie. Obviously, we don’t actually celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK, but I’ll use any old excuse for some extra pudding.

I’ve named my recipe, somewhat narcissistically, after myself, as it uses Libby’s tinned pumpkin and I do like to have things with my name on (a point illustrated by my gargantuan collection of Tatty Devine name necklaces). Libby’s tinned pumpkin isn’t that easy to find in the UK, so I get mine online from the Stateside Candy Company and you can also find it at Whole Foods.

You can make the pastry yourself if you want, but I prefer to cheat and use a ready-made pie case as they’re much less likely to burn or go soggy. Enough waffling, let’s talk turkey and crack on with the recipe…

What you’ll need:
2 x ready-made pastry cases (around 8in diameter)
4oz/110g/1 cup light soft brown sugar
A good pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1 large egg
14oz/450g/4 cups canned or fresh pumpkin puree
1/4 pint/150ml/just under 3/4 cup whipping cream

What to do:
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/170°C (fan oven)/375°Fgas mark 5. If using fresh pumpkin, boil the flesh until soft and then drain. Make sure that it’s as drained as is possible, otherwise you’ll end up with far too much moisture in your mixture. Next, mash it up with a potato masher.

If you’re a lazy sod like me and you’re using tinned pumpkin, then you can skip to straight to the easy bit. Mix together the sugar, salt, cinnamon, mace and egg and beat with a fork. Once it’s all mixed in well, add the pumpkin and the cream and mix together until it’s all combined. Dollop it carefully into the two pie cases and even the mixture out with a spatula. Bung in the oven for about 35-35 mins until the filling looks slightly firm and the pastry is just beginning to go golden brown. Leave to cool. Serve on its own or top with cream (there’s usually some leftover whipping cream if you’ve bought a big enough pot).