Tag Archives: Biscuit

Christmas: 12 favourite festive cakes and bakes

I was chatting about baking to a mum in the playground yesterday, we discovered a shared love of fairly unusual continental recipes, the kind Paul and Pru would give to Bake Off contestants to try and baffle them into submission. It got me thinking about some of my favourite things I’ve baked and blogged, so I thought I’d choose 12 of our favourite festive cakes, bakes and makes and give them another airing.

I promise you they’re all easy, I lack the patience, time and skill to do anything too fancy and time consuming; but they’re all delicious.

Mincemeat Flapjack

One of the most enduring and classic flavours of Christmas is mincemeat. Mince pies are an undeniable Christmas classic, but I’ve been throwing mincemeat into cakes and vol au vents for a few years now. It’s too good an ingredient just to use in little pies. So I baked a hearty batch of mincemeat flapjack and they all but disappeared in an afternoon. They’re simple, they’re filling and most of all, they’re delicious.

12 of our favourite festive cakes, bakes and makes

Lebkuchen Cake 

Traditionally a moreish soft biscuit, I decided to attempt a German Lebkuchen Cake with considerable success. The recipe is easier than it looks to make and the results are truly scrumptious. It’s one of our favourite festive cakes!

12 of our favourite festive cakes, bakes and makes

Danish Butter Cookies

Because to me, and other children of the 80’s, Danish Butter Cookies are forever linked to Christmas, it’s at this time of year I tend to make them the most. A batch of cookies neatly wrapped in brown paper, or in a decorative bag or box make a lovely little edible gift for someone.

Christmas Recipe: Danish Butter Biscuits

Joulutorttu

Traditionally Joulutorttu are made with puff pastry and a special Finnish prune jam. However I made mine with a Christmas preserve, but it does need a good firm set jam. Try plum or prune conserve for authenticity. They look a bit tricky to make, but it’s ready-roll puff pastry and jam and  a bit of arty twisting of the pastry.

Joulutorttu

Chocolate Dipped Candied Orange Slices

I like to make a big batch of these chocolate dipped candied orange slices at Christmas and give little bags of them as presents for people. They’re also a really nice treat to take away on holiday to nibble with a nice glass of good red wine in the evening.

Recipe: Chocolate Dipped Candied Orange Slices

Mincemeat Filo Rolls

I do love mince pies, but sadly the pastry doesn’t love me. Instead of the usual shortcrust pastry pies, I make these alternative mince pies, with filo pastry and in the style of a spring roll. These Mincemeat Filo Rolls were really, really lovely.

Easy Christmas Recipe: Mincemeat Filo Rolls

Mulled Cider Jellies

Sometimes, and this is not very often, I mull too much cider and I’ll have some left. Sure, I could heat it up again later, but I fancied making something different with it. I thought I’d make some Mulled Cider Jellies. It turns out they make a really interesting, different and delicious festive dessert. You could make them just as well with apple juice if you’re serving them to children or people who don’t drink alcohol. It’s a very pretty dessert and just a bit different.

Christmas Recipe: Mulled Cider Jellies

Christmas Pudding Ice Cream

This is an incredibly easy dessert, imagine a rich vanilla ice cream topped with Courvoisier soaked festive fruits. It’s utterly delicious, you can whip it up the night before, or make it up to a month ahead of the big day. It is delicious, incredibly simple and uses only four ingredients. I think we’ve found a winner!

12 of our favourite festive cakes, bakes and makes

Sticky Ginger Sponge Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

I love a bit of ginger cake and at this time of year it’s a lovely warming bake to make for the family. It’s sticky and spicy and you can dress it up for Christmas, or dress it down for every day cake eating if you prefer. This sticky ginger sponge cake with cinnamon frosting is special enough to serve for an occasion, or you could glitz it up a bit more and serve it as an alternative Christmas cake. It’s about as easy as can be.

Easy Recipe: Sticky Ginger Sponge Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

Cranberry and Pomegranate Jelly

Puddings at Christmas time can be a bit on the heavy side. All that booze soaked fruit and extra thick cream can get a bit much; plus if you’re feeding the whole family, Christmas pudding is not a universally popular choice. What is always, always popular is jelly. This is a jelly that everyone in the family can enjoy – cranberry and pomegranate jelly!

Recipe: Cranberry and Pomegranate Jelly

Peppermint Bark Buttons

Homemade treats make for really lovely gifts at Christmas. These Peppermint Bark Buttons are really fun to make and they’re delicious too.

Homemade Gifts: Peppermint Bark Buttons

Cinnamon & Raisin Shortbread

I originally created this shortbread recipe in 2013 in celebration of the Great British Bake Off; it’s been a favourite ever since. Cinnamon and raisin are a great combination and this lovely crumbly shortbread is a great bake all year round.

Recipe: Cinnamon & Raisin Shortbread

So that’s my little round up of my 12 of our favourite festive cakes, bakes and makes. What are your favourite favourite festive cakes, bakes or makes?

12 of our favourite festive cakes, bakes and makes

Recipe: Grasmere Style Gingerbread biscuits

Back in September we visited Keswick in the Lake District for the weekend. We had a very lovely time and as we headed home, we ambled through the Lake District, stopping off at a few places. One of those places was the popular village of Grasmere, famous for its delicious Grasmere gingerbread.

Grasmere gingerbread is very special. It is firmer than any other kind of gingerbread I’ve ever had and it’s full of ginger and spice. It’s got mixed peel running through it and a crumbly topping like nothing I’ve ever eaten. It is one of my favourite things in the world.

Recipe: Grasmere Gingerbread biscuits

The original recipe is very closely guarded secret, but I’ve been baking my own version at home for a few years now. It’s not quite as firm or as crumbly as the proper Grasmere gingerbread, but it’s a good almost Grasmere gingerbread and it fills the gaps between visits to Grasmere to stock up on this treat.

Grasmere style Gingerbread

Ingredients:

225g self-raising flour
75g golden caster sugar
3 teaspoons of ground ginger
Pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of golden syrup
2 eggs
50g mixed peel, chopped
Granulated sugar, to sprinkle over the top

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 170°. Mix the flour, caster sugar, ginger and salt in a bowl. Melt the butter and golden syrup in a small pan, once melted, take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Take your eggs and separate the yolks, beat the yolks and slowly add them to the cooled syrup and butter. Whisk well. Tip this into the dry mix and combine. Set aside the whites of the eggs for later.

Take your mixed peel and chop it up into tiny pieces. Stir this through the mixture.

Grease a Swiss roll tin, spread the mixture in the pan making sure it’s even all over. Brush the top of the gingerbread with some of the egg whites and sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top, use as much or as little as you like. I used about 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown all over. As it is cooling, with a sharp knife cut it into rectangles in the tin and leave to cool. Once fully cool you should be able to cut the biscuits easily across these lines with a knife.

Recipe: Grasmere Gingerbread biscuits

Proper Grasmere gingerbread is then portioned up and wrapped in greaseproof paper. This would be a lovely way to wrap up your gingerbread, especially if you’re going to give it as a gift, perhaps at Christmas.

These are lovely gingerbread biscuits, but they’re not quite as lovely as the originals. If you’re ever visiting Grasmere in the Lake District, I urge you to visit the tiny gingerbread shop by the church. Just follow your nose and you’ll soon find it!

Recipe: Grasmere Style Gingerbread biscuits

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like to try these Crumbly Cranachan Shortbread with Whisky rounds.

Grasmere Style Gingerbread biscuits

Recipe: Crumbly Cranachan Shortbread with Whisky

Cranachan is a traditional Scottish pudding, usually made with whipped cream, whisky, honey and fresh raspberries, with toasted oatmeal soaked overnight in a little bit of whisky. Whilst my Cranachan Shortbread recipe isn’t faithful to the original, it is considerably inspired by this Caledonian classic.

This Cranachan Shortbread recipe is a beautifully short and crumbly whisky shortbread, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with dried, crushed raspberries. It’s a biscuit and a half and a real Scottish inspired treat.

Recipe: Crumbly Cranachan Shortbread with Whisky

Dried raspberries are available, but hard to find. Unsuccessful, I ended up drying my own in a very low oven for many, many hours. I then crushed them in a pestle and mortar. I was pleasantly surprised with how they turned out, they didn’t smell especially powerful, but they certainly packed a flavour punch. They’d be great sprinkled on all kinds of cakes and desserts.

Cranachan Shortbread with whisky

Ingredients:
225g butter
130g caster sugar
350g plain flour
3 tablespoons of whisky
Caster sugar for sprinkling
100g milk chocolate
1 punnet of raspberries, dried

Recipe: Crumbly Cranachan Shortbread with Whisky

Method:
Pre-heat your oven to 180. You’ll need to have a couple of baking trays covered with greaseproof paper ready.

In a mixing bowl, thoroughly beat the butter and sugar together. Once fluffy, add the whisky and little by little add the plain flour. Mix with a wooden spoon as best you can. Try not to overwork it too much or the dough will go gluey.

I find the following method tidier and it stops you manhandling the dough too much. Once the shortbread dough is almost mixed, tip it out onto a large sheet of greaseproof paper; bring the dough together with your hands and then fold the paper in half with the mixture sandwiched in between.

With a rolling-pin, roll it out so it’s about 5mm thick and cut into rounds. I used a glass for this and carefully lifted each shortbread biscuit onto the baking tray. You should get around 18 shortbread biscuits out of the dough. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar over each round.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes. Keep an eye on the shortbread, they still need to be pale and not brown. Once they’re baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack.

Whilst the shortbread biscuits are cooling, melt the chocolate over a bain marie. Once melted, dip each shortbread into the chocolate and half coat it, put your biscuit back on the greaseproof paper and sprinkle the dried raspberries. Try to resist eating your shortbread until the chocolate has set.

Enjoy with a cup of tea or a wee dram if you’re so inclined! Sláinte!

If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, you might also like this Haggis, potato cake & poached egg stack or these delicious haggis pasties.

Recipe: Crumbly Cranachan Shortbread with Whisky

Recipe: Cinnamon & Raisin Shortbread

If you’re a novice baker, biscuits and shortbread are a great place. Biscuits are fairly easy. They don’t need to be light and fluffy and they don’t need to rise. The one thing I can successfully bake,which usually gets stacks of compliments is shortbread. I usually bake plain or lavender shortbread but I’ve decided to mix things up and bake a cinnamon and raisin shortbread instead.

I inherited the basic shortbread recipe from my Grandma who was a cook and a pastry chef. She used to make fantastic puddings. I’ve taken her shortbread recipe and added a few other ingredients. I’m really pleased with the results, they’re a buttery, short, crumbly shortbread with a lovely cinnamon and raisin twist!

Recipe: Cinnamon & Raisin Shortbread

Cinnamon and Raisin Shortbread

Ingredients:
225g butter
130g caster sugar
350g plain flour
3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
50g raisins
Caster sugar for sprinkling

Method:
Pre-heat your oven to 180. You’ll need to have a couple of baking trays covered with greaseproof paper ready.

Rub the butter and sugar together with your fingers or using a food mixer. Then lightly rub in the flour and the cinnamon with a wooden spoon (I do this in stages to avoid a flour cloud in the kitchen). Add the raisins and mix through the dough.

I find the following method tidier and it stops you manhandling the dough too much. Once the cinnamon and raisin shortbread dough is almost together; tip it out onto a large sheet of greaseproof paper. Bring the dough together with your hands and then fold the paper in half with the mixture sandwiched in between.

With a rolling-pin, roll it out between the sheets of paper, so it’s about 5mm thick and cut into rounds. I used a glass for this and carefully lifted each cinnamon and raisin shortbread biscuit onto the baking tray. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar over each round.

I managed to get 18 large shortbread rounds out of the dough and I got another 18 mini round shortbreads too. Bake the mini rounds for just 10 minutes, they’re lovely with a cup of tea and their mini size makes them seem much fancier.

Bake the large shortbread rounds in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes. Keep an eye on the shortbread, they don’t really want to brown. Once they’re baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack.

Recipe: Cinnamon & Raisin Shortbread

Shortbread can be a tricky beast, you don’t want your shortbread to brown, it needs to be pale in not over-baked. It’s tricky to see these shortbreads brown as the cinnamon makes them darker to begin with. Different ovens cook differently and I’ve found different butters behave differently too. So it’s best to keep having a peek. You want it to still be pale, but cooked through. You don’t want to dry it out and over-bake either.

Try if you can (I failed) not to gobble one down while they’re still hotter than the surface of the sun. Once cool, enjoy with a streaming mug of tea. They can happily be stored in an airtight tin for a few days, if they last that long.

Recipe: Cinnamon & Raisin Shortbread

These shortbreads were a massive hit, they were loved by all. I was cautious with the cinnamon as not everyone likes it. I think next time I’d put more cinnamon, but it depends how much of a fan of this spice you are. If you’re not sure how much you want to add, you can always taste the raw dough and add more if you think it needs it.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like my recipe for Crumbly Cranachan Shortbread with Whisky.

Recipe: Cinnamon & Raisin Shortbread