Archive for Christmas

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

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!

Christmas cake, Caribbean-style

Posted in Cakes, Caribbean food with tags , , , , , , , on 29/12/2010 by libbyplummer

When my good pal who is also a top-notch designer knocked up the London Baking logo for me, I was certainly hoping for mates’ rates when it came to payment but my chum went one step better. His fee? One fruit cake. He obvisouly had an encouraging amount of confidence in my cooking abilities, hopefully based on the confections that I’ve brought into the office in the past, rather than a sense of politeness.

After poring over my collection of cookbooks for far too long, I eventually decided that a Levi Roots’ Caribbean Christmas Cake from his Caribbean Food Made Easy book would fit the bill perfectly. As well as the obvious fruit content, this boozy concoction also contains just over half a bottle of dark rum – always a good sign.

While many people aren’t fans of the often-dry traditional fruit cake that’s inflicted on them every year around this time (me included), this Caribbean version is a different affair altogether. As well as enough rum to sedate even the hardiest of drinkers, the cake boasts a light sponge and a glazed fruit and nut topping, rather than the sickly fondant icing.

I delivered the cake (via the pub) just before Christmas and I’m reliably informed that it was almost entirely gone by Christmas Eve, which is certainly a stamp of approval in my book.

If you’re interested in my pal’s mad design skills, check out: Remski

Belated Merry Christmas biscuits

Posted in Biscuits, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , on 27/12/2010 by libbyplummer

Using the same Nigella Lawson recipe that I used for my Halloween biscuits, I knocked up this batch of choc treats for my mate’s Christmas get-together. The recipe is from Nigella’s Christmas book and, as I mentioned in my previous post, the choctastic taste is accomplished not with chocolate, but just with cocoa and sugar. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Doing my best to inject as much festive spirit into proceedings as possible, I even used my new Gingerbread Man spatula, procured from Martha Stewart’s range in Macy’s on a recent Thanksgiving trip to the USA. (The TSA must have been in stitches when they searched my suitcase to find the aforementioned spatula along with two sets of Star Wars-themed cookie cutters, and a vast selection of patterned cupcake cakes and sprinkles). For the record, I have an embarrassingly extensive collection of seasonal spatulas. I am seeking help.