Archive for Recipes

Blanka Pound Cake

Posted in American food, Baking, Cakes, Recipes with tags , , , , , on 21/07/2013 by libbyplummer

Blanka Pound CakeBlanka: “Would anybody like some pound cake?”

Ryu: “I’d like some pound cake”.

Ever since Street Fighter aficionado Pete sent me this Blanka Makes Pound Cake YouTube video the other day, I’ve thought of little else but pound cake.

Suffice to say, the joke only works if you’re familiar with Ryu’s Hurricane Kick sound effect from the Street Fighter games – which I am, it being one of only about five games that I’m able to play with any kind of socially acceptable dexterity.

Apparently Ryu is actually saying Tatsumaki Senpu Kyaku, but it does sound remarkably like something to do with pound cake…

Just in case you’re not schooled in the ways of baked goods, pound cake is popular in the US, particularly the south. The traditional recipe calls for a pound each of sugar, butter, flour and eggs, hence the name. Incredibly, 4 March is National Pound Cake Day in the US.

Blanks Makes Pound Cake

The fact that this particular version as got turmeric in it sounds a bit weird and gives it a slightly yellow colour, but DON’T PANIC. I can assure you it’s very pleasant with a tasty cup of tea (or coffee, if you insist).

Enough chat, here’s the recipe (not sure where it originates from, it’s the one my mum always uses)…

What you’ll need:
200g/8oz unsalted butter (at room temp)
325g/13oz caster sugar
5 large eggs
250g/10oz plain flour (sieved)
2 tbsp cornflour
1/2 tsp fine salt
1/2 tsp ground mace
pinch of turmeric

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 160°C /140°C  (fan oven)/325°F/Gas mark 3. Grease and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper. Cream the sugar and butter together in a big bowl, using a fork. Once it’s all mixed together, add the eggs one at at time, mixing each one in as you go. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Dollop the whole lot into the tin and smooth over the top with a spatula. Bake for 1 hour and 10 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (my oven took about 1 hour 20 minutes). Once it’s out the oven, leave in the tin for about 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool. Game Over.

C-3PO Sugar Skull Chocolate Chili Biscuits

Posted in Baking, Biscuits with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 06/05/2013 by libbyplummer

C-3PO Sugar SkullsIt’s been a while since I’ve had any spare time for preposterously themed baked goods, but fear not – it’s a bank holiday here in the UK and while everyone else is out in the sun, I’m spending some quality time in my kitchen because I know how to have a good time. Yes, sir.

Star Wars Day (‘May the 4th be with you…’) seemed like a good time to pick up the Darth Vader spatula again. This isn’t the first time time I’ve employed Star Wars as a theme for confectionery – I’ve previously made Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes, Star Wars shortbread and Han Solo in carbonite chocolates to name a few.

This time? I’ve gone one better and gone for a May the 4th/Cinco de Mayo mash-up. The result? C-3PO Sugar Skull Chili Chocolate Biscuits. You heard.

Obvisouly the sugar skulls are usually linked to the Mexican Day of the Dead festival (Dia De Muertos) on 1 and 2 November, rather than Cinco de May (on 5 May), but why let the facts get in the way of a good biscuit, eh? (On a side note – did you know that Mexico has a festival with the unimprovable name of Night of the Radishes? You do now).

Sugar Skulls


Back to the biscuits (or cookies, if you’re of the American persuasion). I adapted the the Super Chocolatey Biscuits recipe from the Biscuiteers Book of Biscuits and followed their guidelines for icing. The whole ‘line’ and ‘flooding’ icing system is a bit of a palaver, and a process that I’ve only used twice before on my peanut butter plectrum biscuits and Kendo Nagasaki biscuits, but it does give a good result.

I used one of my three (yes, three) sets of Williams Sonoma Star Wars cookie cutters to cut out the C-3PO faces, but you can always but them out with a knife.

C-3PO Sugar Skulls

What you’ll need:
For the biscuits:

275g plain flour (sieved)
100g self raising flour (sieved)
75g cocoa powder (sieved)
125g granulated sugar
1 tsp chili powder (as hot as you dare)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
125g salted butter, diced
125g golden syrup
1 large egg, beaten
For the icing:
450g (plus 50g spare) royal icing sugar
75ml cold water
Coloured icing gel

What to do:
For the biscuits:
Mix the sieved flours, cocoa powder, sugar, chili powder and cayenne pepper into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub the ingredients together until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Next, make a well in the middle and add the egg and golden syrup and mix together into a dough. Add a touch more golden syrup if it’s too dry to form a dough. Divide into two or three balls, squash flat into large discs, wrap in clingfilm and bung in the fridge for an hour or so.

When you’re ready to roll, bring the dough back to room temperature and place a disc between two pieces of baking parchment and roll out with a roling pin. This means that won’t need to add any flour to stop the dough from sticking.

The dough should be about 5mm thick. Cut out your shapes and place them a fair distance apart on a non-stick baking sheet. Stick in a pre-heated oven on 170°C (150°C fan oven)/350°F/gas mark 4 for about 14-16 minutes. Then take them out of the oven and carefully transfer to a cooling rack. Make sure they’re completely cool before you start to ice them or the icing won’t stick.

C-3PO Sugar Skulls

For the icing:
Bung the water in a large bowl, then add 450g of royal icing sugar. Then whisk them together until the icing is the same sort of consistency as toothpaste. If it looks too runny – add some more icing sugar. (I ended up using the whole 500g). I added a a few drops of icing whitener at this point.

Stick a tablespoon or two into a disposable icing bag and snip of the end to make a small hole. Pipe the outline of the face around the edge of the biscuits, forming a tiny wall of icing with no gaps. Let dry for five minutes.

Next you’ll need to convert the remaining icing in the bowl into flooding icing. To do this, add a few drops of water at a time and mix in until the consistency is slightly runny, a bit like custard.

Spoon carefully into the middle of each biscuit and smooth out to the edges using the back of the spoon or a cocktail stick if you want to be precise. Leave to dry for a while.

Next, paint on the C-3PO face. I used some coloured icing gels that were kindly sent to me the nice people at Dr Oetker. I stuck a blob of each colour onto a makeshift baking parchment palette and used a fine paintbrush to draw on all the details.

I have no painting or drawing abilities whatsoever, so the finish isn’t perfect, but it’s the best I could manage with my ham-fisted artistry skillz.

The last step is to return the iced biscuits to a very cool oven – about about 50-70°C/120-160°F/gas mark1/2-3 for 30 minutes. I know it sounds bonkers, but it dries out the moisture that seeps into the biscuits from the icing and restores the crunchiness.

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

Kendo Nagasaki biscuits for Sugar Slam III

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Events, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , on 13/08/2012 by libbyplummer

Kendo Nagasaki bicsuits
Last year I entered Bake & Destroy’s wrestling-themed Sugar Slam bake-off with the world’s first Kendo Nagasaki cake pops. This year? Kendo Nagasaki matcha biscuits.

I’m referring to the British name for ‘cookies’ of course, not the rolls that our American cousins serve with gravy. You can call them cookies if you like.

As someone who grew up with the British wrestling of the 1980s rather than the more flamboyant fighters from the US, the only distinguishable characters that stand out in my mind are Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks and Kendo Nagasaki.

Kendo Nagasaki

The latter (not to be confused with an American wrestler of the same name) rarely took off his mask, but one memorable bout saw him not only being stripped of his striped camouflage by his component, but also ‘hypnotising’ the offender with an intent stare and a wave of his hands.

Entranced as we were at our young age, my brother and I still were still not entirely convinced by his magical powers.

Sadly, ITV cancelled its wrestling coverage not long after that, quite possibly as a direct result of it.

Kendo Nagasaki

Despite his Japanese-inspired moniker and his Eastern mysticism, Kendo Nagasaki was in fact an English chap from the West Midlands called Peter Thornley. Which, in a roundabout way, brings me back to baking.

This year, my entry for Sugar Slam is again inspired by the masked wrestler, with the quintessential English-ness of the plain biscuit representing Thornley and the matcha green tea flavour standing in for his mystical Japanese alter ego. I cannot believe I just wrote that sentence.

Recipe? I thought you’d never ask…

Update: Voting for the Sugar Slam III People’s Choice Award is now open – if you like my biscuits, please head over to the gallery and leave a comment. Voting closes on 27 August at 9pm CST!

What you’ll need:
350g/12oz plain flour (sieved)
100g/3.5oz self raising flour (sieved)
125g/4.5oz granulated sugar
125g/4.5oz salted butter (softened)
125g/4.5oz golden syrup
1 large egg
4 tbsp matcha green powder

For the icing:
150ml/quarter pint cold water
900g royal icing sugar (sieved)
Paste icing colourings

Kendo Nagasaki

What to do:

Mix the flours and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and use your fingertips to blend it together with the dry mix until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Once mixed in, add the egg and syrup and mix together (at first with a wooden spoon, and then with your dainty hands) until a ball of dough is formed.

Divide the dough in half and mould each into a flat disc before wrapping in clingfilm and bunging  in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan oven)/350°F/gas mark 4. Once chilled, unwrap the dough and pop it between two sheets of baking parchment and roll out to about 5mm thickness. Cut our your chosen 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. Stick 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 biccies are ready when they start to turn golden brown around the edges, at which point you need to take them out of the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Don’t even think about icing them before they’re completely cool otherwise the icing just won’t stick.

Kendo Nagasaki matcha biscuits

For the icing:
Stick the water in a bowl and then using a fork to mix the icing sugar in. Once mixed together, you need to siphon off separate bowls for as many different colours as you’re planning to use. I saved a small bowl of white mixture for the stripes, plus a small amount to colour grey for the facial features and a small amount to colour red for the outlines.

Take the outline colour ( in this case red) and pop into a disposable icing bag and snip the end to make a small hole. Pipe the outline around the edges of your biscuits, making sure that you join the ends up to create a tiny wall of icing.

The remaining icing in the original bowl will be your flooding icing, which will need to be coloured to match the outline. Once done, spoon carefully into the middle of each biscuit and smooth out to the edges using a cocktail stick. Leave to dry.

Using the same process as you used for the outline, you can use the remaining colours to pipe on the rest of the details. And then you’re done.

Recipe adapted from Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits

Ireland biscuits with Baileys buttercream

Posted in Baking, Biscuits, Events, Recipes with tags , , , , , on 12/03/2012 by libbyplummer

Ireland biscuits with Baileys buttercreamI’m not Irish. Not even remotely. But that’s no reason not to make some garish green-tinted biscuits (or cookies, if you insist) in celebration of St Patrick’s Day on 17 March, especially when there’s Bailey’s buttercream involved (last year I made whoopie pies with bright green filling).

I was given a cookie cutter set shaped like the British Isles for Christimas (thanks mum!), hence I have a cutter shaped liked the Emerald Isle. If you haven’t got one, you can just make your own template from grease-proof paper and cut around it with a knife.

Apologies for stating the bleedin’ obvious, but thanks to the Baileys, these biccies contain booze so may not be suitable for the nippers.

Ireland biscuits with Baileys buttercream 2

Makes 16-20 biscuits (8-10 when sandwiched together)

What you’ll need:

For the biscuits:
90g/3oz unsalted butter
100g/3.5oz caster sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g/70z plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Green paste food colouring

For the buttercream filling:
225g/8oz icing (confectioner’s) sugar (sieved)
100g/3.5oz softened unsalted butter
1tbsp Bailey’s Irish Cream

What to do:
First, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, using a fork. Next, beat in the egg and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and then add to the original mixture. Stir together until it’s all combined. Lastly, add some green colouring, a tiny bit at a time, until you’ve got the colour you want. Once all mixed in, roll the dough into a ball, squash into a flat disc 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. Roll out the dough between two large sheets of greaseproof paper. This avoids you having to add any more flour to stop it sticking, which can make the dough too dry. Cut out your 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). If you’re using an asymmetric shape (such as the outline of Ireland), then you’ll want to flip half of the biscuits over as you’ll be sandwiching two together to form a sandwich.

Bake for about 10-12 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 filling.

Ireland biscuits with Baileys buttercream

For the buttercream, sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl and cream in the butter using a fork. Once it’s all combined and smooth, add the Baileys and mix in. Pop into an icing bag and pipe a blog into the centre of half your biscuits (on the flat underside), then sandwich together with the remaining half (with the flat side touching the buttercream).

Finally, sit back with your ‘Oirish’ snacks, and listen to some suitably Celtic rock, like this ditty from the Dropkick Murphys. They’re not from Ireland – they’re from Massachusetts, but don’t let that stop you. It’s a good tune…

Judge Fudge brownies

Posted in Baking, Cakes, Recipes with tags , , , , , , , on 06/02/2012 by libbyplummer

Judge Fudge browniesI haven’t had much time for baking so far this year, but the snowy weather this weekend was a good excuse to stay at home nursing a mild hangover while watching DVDs and snaffling copious amounts of cake. I named these brownies, in my traditionally tenuous fashion, after the Happy Mondays’ song, Judge Fudge. I always liked the cover of the single – not sure if the words are made from paint or icing (or frosting, for our American cousins), but I like to think it was the latter…

Judge Fudge Happy Mondays

Enough chat – here’s the recipe…

What you’ll need:
250g/8.82oz unsalted butter
325g/13oz caster sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
100g/4oz plain flour (sieved)
75g/3oz cocoa (sieved)
0.5 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
Dr Oetker Fudge Chunks (2 x85g bags)

Makes 12 brownies

What to do:
Grease and line a square brownie tin (roughly 10 x 10 inches, or whatever you’ve got) and pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C (fan oven)/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and pour into a large bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix together. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture with a fork in betweeen each one. Add the sieved flour and cocoa powder (actual cocoa, not drinking chocolate), baking powder and salt and mix it all together. Finally, mix in the fudge chunks.

Pour into the tin and spread evenly using a spatula, then bung in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes. Once the cooking time’s up, remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool completely.

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!