Archive for Cookies

Lomography cookie cutters

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Kitchen gadgets with tags , , , , , on 10/12/2011 by libbyplummer

Lomography cookie cuttersI like biscuits and I like cameras so I was embarrassingly excited to find out that analogue photography specialist Lomography has produced a range of camera-shaped cookie cutters. The nice people at Lomo are giving away a cookie cutter with every online purchase – if you spend £120 (or USD or EUR) you get one free cutter, spend over that amount and you’ll bag yourself the entire set of eight for free.

What’s more, the Lomo chaps are running a Holiday cookie cutter competition, where you can submit your analogue cookie photos in the hope on winning some great prizes including cook books and Piggy Points to spend in the online store.

Chocolate biscuits for Halloween

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Recipes, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , on 16/10/2011 by libbyplummer

Halloween chocolate biscuitsApparently it’s Chocolate Week, so what better time to knock up some seasonal Halloween chocolate biscuits (or cookies, if you insist). I first made these last year, adapting a recipe from the Nigella Christmas book. They”re very easy to make and like many of the best recipes for chocolate cakes and biscuits, they, er,  don’t actually use any chocolate, instead sticking to the winning combo of cocoa and sugar (trust me, it’s much better). Don’t believe me? Try them for yourself…

What you’ll need:
125g unsalted butter (softened)
75g caster sugar
20g cocoa powder (sieved)
150g plain flour (sieved)
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp baking powder

For the topping:
1 tbsp (15ml) cocoa powder
90g icing sugar
30ml boiling water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Seasonal  sprinkles

Makes 12 biscuits

Halloween chocolate biscuits 2

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C (fan oven)/325°F/gas mark 3. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a Teflon baking sheet.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl, using a fork. Once mixed in, cream in the cocoa, then add the flour, bicarb and baking powder and mix until it’s all combined.

Scoop up a blob of the mixture in your hand and roll into a ball (around the same size as a walnut). Place each ball onto the baking sheet and flatten slightly using your hand. Make sure they’re well spaced apart otherwise they’ll fuse together in the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes then remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking tray for about 20 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. The biscuits will look and feel soft when they come out of the oven, but they’ll crisp up as they cool.

Halloween chocolate biscuits 3

Once they’re completely cool, you can crack on with the topping. Chuck the cocoa powder, icing sugar, water and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and stir oven a low heat until combined into a shiny mixture. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes. Next, drop a tablespoon of the topping onto the centre of each biscuit and let it dribble down the sides. Use the back of the spoon to even it out a bit if need be. Swiftly add your sprinkles before the topping dries and leave to set and you’re all done. I got my sprinkles from Target on a trip to the US, but you should be able to find them online on various sites including Amazon.

The perfect snack for grazing on while watching a horror film. Today’s choice – The Orphanage:

The Orphanage

Peanut butter plectrum biscuits

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , , on 22/08/2011 by libbyplummer

Inspired by a guitar plectrum-shaped cake that my mum made many years ago for my brother’s birthday, I decided to knock up some plectrum biscuits (that’s cookies to you, American cousins). In a nod to Elvis, who died last week in 1977, I flavoured my biccies with peanut butter, famously one of his favourite snacks.

Fender plectrums

I recently procured the Biscuiteers Book of Biscuits, which I used as a basis for this recipe. It’s the first time I’ve used the professional method of separate line and flooding icing, hence the slightly wobbly results. The recipe is a bit long-winded, but it’s all worth it in the end. Here’s what to do…

What you’ll need:

250g plain flour (sieved)
100g soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
65g salted butter (softened and diced)
65g golden syrup
1 egg
1-2 tbsp milk
65g peanut butter

For the icing:
180ml cold water
1kg royal icing sugar/mix
Whatever colours you choose (in this case, yellow, blue and black gel colours)

Plectrum biscuit and plectrum

What to do:

Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and crumble into the mixture using your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. In another bowl, lightly whisk together the egg, syrup, one tbsp of milk and the peanut butter. Tip the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together until you get a soft dough. Add a dash more milk if it feels too dry. Divide the dough in half and mould each into a flat disc before wrapping in clingfilm and popping in the fridge for at least an hour.

Plectrums

Once chilled, unwrap the dough and place between two sheets of parchment before rolling out to 5mm thickness. Keeping the paper on, put the dough back in the fridge for about 20 minutes (on a baking tray or chopping board). While the dough is in the fridge, pre-heat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan oven)/350°F/gas mark 4. After chilling again, you’re ready to cut out your shapes, either using ready-made cutters or your own templates. To make your own, just draw or trace your design onto a piece of parchment and then stick this a spare piece of card and cut out. You can then bung this on top of you rolled-out dough and cut round it using a sharp knife. Place the shapes on a lined baking tray, leaving plenty of room between each biscuit. Cook for 14 minutes or so (you may need more time, depending on your oven). The biscuits are ready when they start to turn golden brown around the edges. Once out of the oven, transfer to a wire rack and make sure that they’re completely cool before icing, or it won’t stick.

Plectrum biscuits

For the icing:
Chuck the water in a large bowl, then add 900g of the royal icing sugar and whisk together until the icing is roughly the same consistency as toothpaste. You might need to add more icing sugar if it’s not thick enough. For this recipe, you’ll need to save three small bowls of icing at this stage – two for making the outlines and one of the Fender writing. Colour one blue, one yellow and one black, by adding tiny amounts of colouring at a time and mixing in with a fork until you get the colour you want. Take the first outline colour, bung in a disposable icing bag and snip the end to make a small hole. Pipe the outline of a plectrum around the edges of half of your biscuits, making sure that you join the ends up to create a tiny wall of icing. Do the same with the blue icing. Next divide the remaining icing from your original bowl into two parts. This will be your flooding icing, so you need to colour each bowl to match the yellow and blue outline icing. Once done, spoon carefully into the middle of each biscuit and smooth out to the edges using a cocktail stick. Leave to dry.

Colour the third tiny bowl (that you saved earlier) with black colouring, pop into an icing bag and snip of a small section at the end. You might want to practice writing the Fender logo in a piece of parchment before you have a crack at icing your biscuits.

Finally, return your biscuits to a baking tray and place in very cool oven – about 50-70°C/120-160°F/gas mark1/2-3. This may sound like utter madness, but it actually helps to restore the biscuits’ crunch, which can be softed by the moisture in the icing.

You might also like these Elvis peanut butter chip biscuits that I made earlier this year.

Bake-off at The Boogaloo

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, Events, Out and about with tags , , , , , , , on 07/08/2011 by libbyplummer

Bake-off at The BoogalooAfter a successful launch in July, Holly and Poppy Presents will be holding a second bake-off at  The Boogaloo in North London. The event will take place on Sunday 14 August and the crew are looking for new stall holders as well as keen bakers to enter the bake-off. Here’s the winner of the last bake-off – Dion Gray with her red velvet cake:

Bake-off at The Boogaloo July winner

For more information, contact holly@hollychaves.com or check out the Facebook event page.

Bake-off at The Boogaloo flyer

Via: Holly and Poppy presents

Cakey Perry afternoon tea

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, Events, Out and about with tags , , , , , , , , , on 03/08/2011 by libbyplummer

Katy Perry cupcakeMy chums and I had high hopes for the recent Cakey Perry afternoon tea and we weren’t disappointed. Created by Miss Cakehead, whose previous projects include the Cakes for Japan pop-up shop, the world’s first 18+ cake shop and the Will & Cake royal wedding pop-up shop, the event ran over three days at Prangsta in SE London and was inspired by Katy Perry’s California Gurls video.

Cakey Perry cake

First up, Miss Cakehead herself made sure that we had plenty of refreshments in the form of toffee-flavoured vodka topped up with ginger beer (a surprisingly moreish concoction), before presenting us with a round of scones decorated with green glace cherries, complete with clotted cream and jam.

Cupcake-stuffed strawberry

Phase one complete, we moved onto cupcake-stuffed strawberries before sampling the mini Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg cupcakes. After a short rest we moved onto heart-shaped biscuits with candy floss before completing our sugary feast with a massive slab of awesome rainbow cake from Leshie Loves Cake.

Leshie Loves Cake rainbow cake

We couldn’t finish it all, so we ended up taking the rest away with us, along with some rainbow-cake push pops and a doughnut-shaped cake pop from Molly Bakes.

Molly Bakes doughnut cake pop

All of the food was fantastic (with my personal favourite being the rainbow cake), and the venue’s decorations – including a Love Heart sweet encrusted table and exquisitely painted biscuits from Nevie-Pie cakes – were also superb.

Cakey Perry cake

I probably should have snapped more pictures and taken the time to use the correct settings rather than the autofocus, but frankly, I was far too busy quaffing vodka and snaffling cakes. Our sugar-heavy afternoon was rounded off neatly with a sharpener in the boozer. Special praise goes to Smithy for requesting a wine list in the Hobgoblin pub. Strangely, the barman found this somewhat amusing.

The Lily Vanilli Bakery

Posted in Baking, Cakes, English food, Out and about, Savoury with tags , , , , , , on 19/07/2011 by libbyplummer

Lily Vanilli bakewellsAt the weekend me and my chums set off for a mince around the markets of East London, with the primary objective of sampling some of the goods from the new bakery run by kooky baker and author of A Zombie Ate My Cupcake, Lily Vanilli.

Lily Vanilli Bakery cakes

Situated just off the famous Columbia Road flower market, the new shop sells a small range of treats, with the menu varying every week. The bakery itself is quite small but the shabby chic decor gives it a very cosy feel and we were jammy enough to grab a few seats in the corner without needing to wait.

Having all skipped breakfast and trudged through the rain from the tube station – the freshly baked sausage rolls were first on our hit list. This was no Greggs-style porcine product – it was a crispy, golden roll made with top quality sausage meat from none other than The Ginger Pig. Thankfully for pescetarian Kat, there was also a NOsage roll on offer.

Lily Vanilli Bakery sausage roll

Not content with a much-needed brunch we ordered cakes for afters – between us we opted for the Victoria sponge with fresh berries, a slice of the passionfruit, almond and poppyseed cake and a buttercream-topped cupcake.

Lily Vanilli Bakery cakes

Kate, Kat and I are all camera-toting, cake-loving wordsmiths so we’d all taken photos of our food for blogging purposes faster than you can say “what the hell are those three nutters in the corner doing”. The food was all fantastic, so I’ll definitely be returning to sample some more of the grub and if you haven’t been yet, then I highly recommend a visit.

Lily Vanilli Bakery cupcakes

The Lily Vanilli Bakery is at 6, The Courtyard, Ezra Street, London, E2 7RG and is open every Sunday 8.30am-4.30pm.

Renshaw debuts home baking range

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, Out and about with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 21/06/2011 by libbyplummer

Renshaw Simplymelt
Professonal baking supplier Renshaw – which has been in business since since 1898 – has launched its very first range for home bakers and I was invited along for a sneak preview and to sample some of the goods.

The new range comprises four products – my personal favourite being the Simplymelt flavoured toppings (£1.39), which can be melted in the bag in a microwave and used for pouring over shortbreads, flapjacks and crispy cakes. It also looks ideal for decorating cake pops without having to bugger about melting chocolate or candy melts on the hob. There are five flavours – white chocolate, milk chocolate, toffee, strawberry and yoghurt – most of which I tried and found to be dangerously tasty.

Renshaw cake pops

The range also includes Ready to Roll Coloured Icing (£1.25), which comes in black, red, green, pink, blue and yellow, along with Snip & Swirl ready to pipe icing (£2.49) – available in strawberry, chocolate and vanilla – and edible icing ribbon (£2.49), which is perfect for making fancy borders on celebration cakes.

Renshaw home baking range

The baking supplier has also launched Renshaw Juniors for kids which includes Magic Melting Icing (£2.09) which comes in raspberry, blackcurrant or tropical flavours along with coloured sugardough (£2.59) and flavoured sugardough (£1.99) which is basically edible Play-doh.

Renshaw cupcakes

Alongside the new range, Renshaw also launched the mybakes.co.uk website for keen bakers and you can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.

The products will be available at Lakeland, Hobbycraft, Morrisons, Bako BFP and Culpitts and you’ll also be able to pick them up in Asda and Tesco from August 2011. Renshaw gave me a stash of the products to try out, so I’ll be coming up with a few recipes for them in the near future…

Pacman Custard Creams

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, English food with tags , , , , , , , , on 12/06/2011 by libbyplummer

Pacman custard creams
When Edd Kimber, winner of the BBC’s Great British Bake-off series, posted a recipe for homemade Custard Creams on his blog, I knew what I’d be baking this weekend. Along with Party Rings, Bourbons, and Jammie Dodgers, the Custard Cream is a classic British biscuit and one that brings back nostalgic memories of growing up and trying to sneak another biccie from the tin.

Custard Cream
I decided to make my Custard Creams using Pacman cookie cutters from Firebox (why not, eh?) although I did also make Kimber-style rounds as well (although not quite as neat as Edd’s efforts).

Custard creams

I had a bit of trouble making the filling soft enough as I don’t have a stand mixer so I had to resort to using a bowl, a fork and brute force (plus a touch of not-quite-boiling water). It may be sacrilege to say so, but I think that they actually taste better than the real thing. Thanks, Edd!

Via: The Boy Who Bakes

Bakery County Hall

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, Out and about with tags , , , , , , , on 30/05/2011 by libbyplummer

Bakery County Hall

On Saturday I finally got round to visiting the Ray Harryhausen exhibition at the London Film Museum in County Hall on the South Bank (which I can highly recommend). After a couple of hours buggering about with film props, followed by a pizza and wine-based lunch, I suggested a visit to the Bakery Country Hall. I first heard about this place when it appeared on the I Heart Cupcakes blog, complete with some cool pics of the macaroon and cupcake-adorned cafe interior.

There was a large range of goods on offer including tarts, brownies and various layer cakes and cupcakes. I opted for the Victoria sponge, which was fantastic, while my tea party buddy went for the carrot cake which I’m reliably informed was also very tasty but could have done with a bit less of the rich icing.

Victoria sponge
A word of warning – the prices are a tad steep. In fact, they’re extremely bloody high (£5.50 for a slice of cake!). Luckily for the bakery, I’m both stupid and greedy, so I paid it anyway. However, the service was very good, the tea was nice, the cakes were lovely and it was all served on vintage china. Plus, being on the South Bank, just round the corner from the London Eye, it is a bit of tourist hotspot, so prices will inevitably be slightly marked up.

For a more detailed write-up of the bakery and some nice pictures of the decor, check out the post by @annecupcake over at I Heart Cupcakes.

Star Wars shortbread recipe

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Scottish food with tags , , , , , , , on 11/04/2011 by libbyplummer

Star Wars shortbreadI’ve been patiently waiting for my cousin to perfect her shortbread recipe so that I could try it out for myself, and it was well worth the wait. There are very few ingrediants, so it’s very simple to knock up a batch of dough in next to no time. As I still hadn’t tried out the second set of Star Wars cookie cutters that I got from Williams-Sonoma last year (yes, I have two sets), I decided to knock up some Star Wars shortbread in the shape of the Millennium Falcon (pictured), Tie Fighters, X-Wing Fighers and the Death Star. As you do.

What you’ll need:
4oz/110g softened unsalted butter
2oz/50g caster sugar
4oz/110g plain flour
2oz/50g rice flour

What to do:
First, in a large bowl, cream the butter together with the sugar with a fork. Next, add the two types of flour and mix to form a dough. Once rolled into a ball of smooth dough, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for an hour or so to chill.

Preheat the oven to 180 °C (160°, fan oven)/350 °F/gas mark 4. Next, roll the dough out to about thickness of about 0.5mm/0.25in. The dough is quite crumbly so it’s a bit of a bugger to roll out. You’ll need to be very gentle and persevere, but I promise you it’s worth it. If the dough cracks while rolling, just gently push it back together and carry on rolling with care. The trick is to handle the dough as little as you can and to make sure that both your hands and the dough are as cool as possible.

Once you’ve cut the shapes out, put them on a greased baking tray (I just use a Teflon baking sheet) and bake at 180°C (160°, fan oven)/350° degrees F/gas mark 4 for approximately 12-15 minutes or until the biscuits begin to turn golden brown around the edges.

After taking them out of the oven, leave the biscuits to cool for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Immediately after you put them on the wire rack, drench them with caster sugar (it’s best to put some newspaper underneath the rack to catch any stray sugar). Once they’re cool, you cake shake the excess sugar off and then you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll.