Archive for Cookies

Cakes for Japan raises £2,000

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, Out and about with tags , , , , , , , , on 21/03/2011 by libbyplummer

Cakes for Japan cakesFollowing the earthquake and tsunami that devestated parts of Japan on 11 March, blogger Miss Cakehead set about swiftly putting together the Cakes for Japan pop-up shop to raise some much-needed cash for The Red Cross to aid its efforts in the stricken area. Professional and amateur bakers joined forces to donate a range of Japan-inspired cakes and cookies for the pop-up shop, which was open for business at Maiden UK on Friday 18 March. All the goodies were sold out in just three hours, making £2,000 for charity.

Sushi cupcakes

There was a huge selection of grub on offer including sushi cake pops from Molly Bakes, cherry blossom cookies from Nevie Pie, green tea cupcakes from Leshie Loves Cake and choc chip cookies from Edd Kimber, winner of the BBC’s Great British Bake-off. Using some awesome cookie cutters from Firebox, I knocked up a few batches of Pacman gingerbread for the sale.

Cakes for Japan shop

The London event has also inspired several similar cake sales which are set to take place throughout March and April in Edinburgh, Brighton, Birmingham and Manchester. If there isn’t a Cakes for Japan event happening near you, then why not set up your own? Check out the Cakes for Japan blog for more details.

Soot Sprite cupcakes

The pictures here were all taken by me, but you can check out the official images taken by professional snapper Nathan Pask on Flickr.

Red Cross donation

Cakes for Japan

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Cakes, Out and about with tags , , , , , , , , on 13/03/2011 by libbyplummer

Cakes for Japan logoUnless you’ve been living on the moon then you’ll know all about the devestation caused in Japan by the recent earthquake and resulting tsunami. In order to support the aid agencies working in the affected area, members of The Mad Artists Tea Party and friends will be holding a pop-up shop selling Japan-inspired cakes and goodies, with all profits going to charity. The Tea Party team is currently speaking to experts to decide on the best organisation to donate the cash to. In the meantime, you can donate directly through various agencies including The Red Cross.

The Cakes for Japan pop-up shop will be at Maiden UK, Shoreditch High Street on Friday 18 March (open 11.00 to 19.00).

Find out to donate a cake here, or simply show your support by going along on the day and spending as much cash as possible.

London Baking will be donating several batches of Pac-Man gingerbread biscuits and they’ll be plenty on offer from lots of other bakers. Please do come along and get stuck in.

Via: Cakes for Japan

Best Valentine’s cakes in London

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Out and about, Seasonal food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/02/2011 by libbyplummer

Best Valentine's cakes in LondonIt’s nearly Valentine’s Day and that means more heart-shaped crap in the shops that any other time of year. Unless you’ve got the kind of partner who’s willing to splash out for a romantic trinket from Tiffany’s, then chances are you’ll be getting the textbook dozen roses or maybe a stuffed monkey toy proffering a heart emblazoned with a message like “You’re the one for me!”. Ahhhh, how sweet.

If you want something more practical, try dropping some hints for something you actually want – and what better gift than some baked goods. At least that way, you can get some enjoyment out of them and then move on to hemorrhaging cash on the next Hallmark day. Read on for some of the best cakes in London Town this Valentine’s Day…

Konditor and Cook
With six braches dotted around London, Konditor & Cook is offering plenty of special goodies for Valentine’s Day including a burning heart cake and anti-Valentine’s ‘Dodgy Jammers’, as well as its trademark Magic Cakes.

Konditor & cook Valentine's cakes

Hummingbird Bakery
Get yourself down to American-style cake shop, Hummingbird Bakery for a Box of Chocolates ( a selection of different chocolate cupcakes), a box of mini Valentine’s cakes or a heart-shaped red velvet layer cake.

Hummingbird Bakery Box of Chocolates

Lily Vanilli
Kooky baker Lily Vanilli is offering her red velvet Bleeding Heart cakes for people to send to their loved one this Valentine’s Day and the great thing is that 20% of the proceeds go to cancer charity Trekstock.

Lily Vanilli Bleeding Heart cakes

Primrose Bakery
Well known for its seasonal twists on cupcakes, the Primrose Bakery has pulled out all the stops for its Valentine’s collection with these awesomely kitsch cupcakes.

Primrose Bakery

Molly Bakes
Cake pop maker extraordinaire Molly Bakes will be offering a selection of handmade cake pops and cupcakes at Maiden in hipster central Shoreditch and you can even get a personliased message for just 50p extra.

Molly Bakes

Crumbs and Doilies
South London-based C&D offers boxes of cupcakes for all the big holidays and its Valentine’s selection is suitably covered in sugary lovehearts. Each box contains a mixture of vanilla, chocolate and vanilla rose cupcakes.

Crumbs and Doilies

Miss Cakehead
If you’re after something a little different, then get yourself down to the London Dungeon on Valentine’s Day where you’ll be able to get your mitts on a human heart cake, courtesy of Miss Cakehead who’ll be giving out hearty treats to the first 100 couples to turn up.

Miss Cakehead

Cox Cookies & Cakes
This edgy Soho bakery is a joint venture between shoe designer Patrick Cox and patissier Eric Lanlard. Its Valentine’s Day menu includes Lovelace cupcakes, A Dozen Red Roses (six triple Valrhona chocolate and six Red Velvet mini cupcakes in a presentation box), as well as Love Note vanilla cupcakes, decorated with a selection of romantic and slightly more-to-the-point messages.

Cox Cookies & Cake

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Rings

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, English food, Recipes with tags , , , , , , on 06/02/2011 by libbyplummer

Rock 'n' Roll Party RingsI’ve been wanting to try out some homemade Party Rings ever since I saw a recipe for them in Kate Shirazi’s Cookie Magic book. For the uninitiated, the Party Ring is a circular British biscuit (cookie, if you’re American) made by Fox’s that comes in a variety of pastel colour combinations. First introduced in 1983, Party Rings have been a staple of children’s parties ever since and are remembered fondly by most of us that grew up in the 80s (and 90s).

Original Party Rings

The following is just my basic biscuit recipe – it’s really the fancy icing that makes them Party Rings, in this case, Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Rings, thanks to the lack of a pastel pink and purple colour scheme. You can use whatever colours you like, but I decided on black and red to match my Marshall micro amp, along with a touch of blue because, er, I like blue. Don’t be put off by the fiddly icing as it really is much easier to recreate than it looks, in fact I made these during breaks in Saturday’s two Six Nations rugby matches.

What you’ll need:

For the biscuits:
90g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt

For the icing:
300g icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
Paste food colouring

What to do:

First, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl using a fork, then beat in the egg and vanilla extract. In a seperate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and then add to the original mixture. Stir together until it’s all combined. Once all mixed in, roll the dough into a ball and wrap in clingfilm. If the dough feels a bit too sticky to be rolled out, then add a touch of flour. Leave the dough to chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C/160 degrees C (fan oven)/gas mark 4. Sprinkle some flour onto a chopping board or kitchen worktop and roll the dough out until it’s about 50mm thick, adding a touch more flour to the board as you go along to prevent it from sticking. Cut out circles of the dough, and then cut a hole in the middle of each one. I used the screwcap from a minature Jack Daniels bottle (yes, really) as it was the only thing I could find that was the right size. If you’re got a steady enough hand then you could cut the holes out freehand with a sharp knife. I also used a sharp knife to add grooves to each biscuit to match those found on the underside of the real thing. It doesn’t really make any difference to the taste, but it did kill a few minutes while I was waiting for the match to start up again.

Party Ring underside

Place the the cut-out circles (groove-side up) on a lined baking sheet (make sure they’re well spaced, or they’ll fuse together in the oven when the dough expands). I use a non-stick Teflon baking mat as it’s mega-easy to clean and can be used over and over again. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the biscuits are slightly golden around the edges and slightly soft in the middle (they’ll firm up while they cool). Once out of the oven, transfer them to a wire cooling rack and after they’re fully cooled down then you can make a start on the icing. Make sure they’re totally cool, or the icing won’t stick properly.

Party Rings with grooves

To make the glace icing, sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and add about four tablespoons of (not quite boiling) water from the kettle and mix together. If the icing is too thick, then add a bit more water (only add a tiny bit at a time). Next, separate the icing into different bowls and colour it. I use Sugarflair paste colouring as it’s much more effective than the liquid stuff. Make sure that you only add a bit at a time as you don’t need much (I use a cocktail stick and mix it in with a fork). Once coloured, you can use a knife to spread the icing on if you like, but I tend to just hold the biscuits upside down and dunk them in the bowl, a method I discovered some time ago by accidentally dropping a biscuit into the bowl. It’s best to ice the underside of the biscuits for a flat finish (i.e, the side that was on the bottom when they were in the oven). Next, take one of the contrasting colours of icing, get a decent dollop on a teaspoon and drizzle it across the biscuits in zig zags. Then, while the icing is still wet, drag a cocktail stick through the stipes you’ve made to create the marbled effect. It’s best to do a few biscuits at a time, so that the icing doesn’t dry in between.

Rock 'n' Roll Party Rings 2

Once you’re done, leave the icing to dry completely and you’re all set for your dazzling your friends with your double-tough take on a children’s party snack. Rock, and indeed, roll.

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Elvis peanut butter chip biscuits

Posted in American food, Biscuits, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , , on 17/01/2011 by libbyplummer

Elvis biscuitsI have a mild obessesion with Elvis Presley. It’s not quite at the same level as that of Christian Slater’s character in True Romance ( I don’t ‘talk’ to Elvis when I’m alone), but it’s safe to say that I’m a fan. To paraphrase Elvis’ TCB motto, this weekend I set about Taking Care of Biscuits.

Firstly, to clarify – when I say biscuits, I’m referring to what the Americans call cookies, not the scone-like rolls that they serve with fried chicken and gravy. The biccies themselves are inspired by the Elvis Presley ’68 Comeback Special – the best live show ever made (well, I think so).

Elvis Comeback Special

It’s no secret that Elvis was a big fan of peanut butter (and quite a lot else besides), and that’s why I added some Reese’s baking chips to a basic vanilla biscuit recipe for my Presley-inspired concoction. These aren’t very easy to find in the UK so I get mine online at Americansweets.co.uk. If you want to make your own confectionery-based homage to the King of Rock ‘n Roll (and lets face it, who doesn’t) then read on and get stuck in.

Reese's peanut butter chips

What you’ll need:

For the biscuits:
90g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Reese’s peanut butter chips (as many as you like)

For the glace icing:
150g icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
Paste food colouring

For the royal icing:
250g icing sugar
1 large egg white
Paste food colouring
Freshly squeezed lemon juice

What to do:
First, cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the egg and vanilla extract. You can do the mixing using an electric mixer or processor or whatever if you like, but I use a wooden spoon and good ol’ fashioned elbow grease. In a seperate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and then add to the original mixture. Stir together until it’s all combined. Next, add your peanut butter chips into the mixture. You can use as many as you like, just add a small handful at a time, and see how it looks. Once all mixed in, roll the dough into a ball and wrap in clingfilm. If the dough feels a bit too sticky, then add a touch of flour. Leave the dough to chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C/160 degrees C (fan oven)/gas mark 4. Sprinkle some flour onto a chopping board or kitchen worktop and roll the dough out until it’s about 50mm thick, adding a sprinkle of flour every now and again if need be, to prevent it from sticking. Cut out your chosen shapes and place onto a lined baking sheet (make sure they’re well spaced, or they’ll fuse together in the oven when the dough expands). Bake for about 12 minutes or until the biscuits are slightly golden around the edges and slightly soft in the middle (they’ll firm up while they cool). Once out of the oven, transfer them to a wire cooling rack and after they’re fully cooled down then you can crack on with the icing.

Elvis biscuits on cooling rack

Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of (not quite boiling) water from the kettle and mix together. If the icing is too thick, then add a bit more water (only add a tiny bit at a time). Next, colour the icing. I use Sugarflair paste colouring as it’s much more effective than the liquid stuff. I add it sparingly, a bit at a time, using a cocktail stick. Once coloured, you can use a knife to spread the icing on if you like, but personally, I just hold the biscuits upside down and dunk them in the bowl – it’s much easier and gives even coverage (just like the black icing in the picture)

Once the icing has set, if you want to add some extra detail, then royal icing is your best bet. For this, simply sieve the icing sugar into a bowl, add the egg white and whisk until the mixture is really white and forms into stiff peaks. If it’s too stiff, then add a couple of drops of lemon juice. Once it’s mixed, add colouring if you fancy and then pipe away. I coloured mine red so that I could create the ‘name in lights’ effect. This royal icing recipe makes quite a bit, so you might want to scale it down if you’re not adding much detail.

And there you have it – Elvis peanut butter chip biscuits, displayed lovingly on the Comback Special tray that I bought in Vegas last year (I knew it would come in handy eventually).

Thank you, good night.

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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.

Ghirardelli choc chip shortbread

Posted in American food, Biscuits, Scottish food with tags , , , , , on 08/11/2010 by libbyplummer

Over here in the UK a lot of people think that the chocolate in the USA is terrible, and in some cases I have to agree.

Although on occasion I can be somewhat partial to the synthetically tasting stodge that is Hershey’s chocolate, I can fully understand why choc conosseurs turn their noses up at it. For those people, I would point them towards San Francisco-based choc company Ghirardelli.

On a recent holiday to San Francisco, I tried (and failed miserably) to contain my excitement on entering the well-stocked chocolate shop at Ghiradelli Square – the original site of the brand’s factory. Packed floor to ceiling with goodies, some that I had seen before elsewhere in the US, and some which seemed to be exclusive to the shop, I walked around in a daze for an embarassingly long amount of time, trying to decide what to buy. In the end I opted for an entire basket-full of treats including (but certainly not limited to) a pack of baking chips.

I decided to try them out using the choc chip shortbread recipe from Kate Shirazi’s Cookie Magic book. The results were very tasty, and extremely easy to make. I’ve still got half a bag of choc chips left over for which I must decide on a new recipe, as I can’t help but snaffle one every time I open the fridge door…