Let’s face it, a crunchy topping (buttered caramel pecans anyone?) makes everything better, especially these pumpkin donuts which are baked instead of fried for a delicious (and slightly healthier) treat!
Another Monday in September, another pumpkin recipe! When I see tins of pumpkin puree on the shelves (or on amazon – oops!), I stock up! My favourite ever pumpkin recipe is probably these muffins with cream cheese filling and a streusal topping – so good!
These sweet home-baked pumpkin doughnuts are scented with autumnal spices – cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. The pumpkin ensures they’re moist, and a little dense, but not heavy tasting. The doughnuts themselves aren’t too sweet at all, so I paired them with a really easy maple glaze – it’s just maple syrup, icing sugar and a little butter. The secret to a good tasting glaze is the butter – I find them too sugary and harsh when only icing sugar is used.
Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts with a Maple Glaze and Buttered Pecans – I know it doesn’t exactly sound like a simple recipe! But the doughnuts are easy and quick to bake, and both the glaze and the pecans are the work of just a few moments!
I bought myself this doughnut pan last year. I wasn’t sure how often I would really make doughnuts, but I’m here to tell you that the answer is all the time. I’ve made cinnamon sugar doughnuts, chocolate orange doughnuts and plain powdered doughnuts (and I’ve got plans for more too!). So you definitely need one. I never really considered making fried doughnuts seriously (although the idea does still float through my head every now and then!) but baked doughnuts couldn’t be easier!
You must make these for autumn – have I mentioned that pumpkin puree is now available in Tesco and online at Waitrose/Ocado too!
- 3 tbsp / 1/4 cup melted butter
- 230g / 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 60ml / 1/4 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 100g / 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 300g / 2 cups plain flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 3 tbsp very soft butter
- 300g icing sugar / 2 1/3 cups
- 150ml maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar
- 200g roughly chopped pecans
- Preheat your oven to 165C / 325F / gas mark 3. Melt a tablespoon of butter and use a pastry brush to brush it into the rings of the doughnut pan.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices, and stir in the sugar. In a separate bowl or jug, mix the pumpkin puree, eggs, vanilla bean paste and the melted butter. Gently combine the wet and dry ingredients - just until combined, like a muffin mix, you don't want to overwork this mixture. To fill your doughnut pan, use a tablespoon to drop roughly three heaped tablespoons of mixture into each hole, and then use the spoon to even it out. Bake for 10 minutes on the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven, then leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Repeat with the next batch of doughnuts (assuming you've only got one six-hole doughnut pan like me!).
- For the maple glaze: Combine the icing sugar with the maple syrup and vanilla bean paste - you should have a fairly stiff glaze. Heat the butter in the microwave until it's very soft, but not melted. Stir into the glaze - you're looking for a thick consistency similar to a thick double cream. If it's too thick, add a few drops of water.
- To glaze the doughnuts, position a cooling rack of a large sheet of parchment paper or tin foil (to catch drips). Dip the doughnuts into the glaze, swishing them about a bit until they're fully half covered. Pop them onto the cooling rack to set.
- Prepare a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine the butter, sugar, and pecans in a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat. Stirring constantly, cook until the mixture is browned, about 4-5 minutes. Pour the mixture onto the parchment paper, spreading it out fairly thinly. Allow to cool - it should be set within about 45 minutes. Then cut up and apply stickily to the tops of the doughnuts - there's no getting around it - this is a messy job!
Enjoy! I’m off to dream up more doughnut variations…!
Happy Friday friends! Today I’m bringing you a post in collaboration with Lidl to show how I put together an easy (and veggie!) feast using some sneaky shortcuts. A three-course French dinner party that takes less than an hour of your time? Yes please!
I don’t know if you have a Lidl near you, but I’ve been shopping there more over the last couple of years since I moved to Beeston – there’s one nearby. I love their fresh fruit and veggies, and I always buy my nuts there – so much better value than the other supermarkets. And their continental cheeses are to die for – (price wise and taste wise) especially the french goat’s cheese – I can never believe it’s only £1.75 (for a huge log). That’s why I was happy to say yes when they approached me about this sponsored post for their French Week – because I really do use and love their products and recommend them to friends – like my blog readers!
Lidl have just launched their French Range, which is in stores now and so I thought I’d use some of their products to show you how to put together a fancy pants dinner party in next to no time! I can be guilty of wanting to make everything from scratch (well, homemade is better!), but there are some shortcuts you can take for a meal that will still be incredibly delicious, but won’t cause you any extra weeknight stress, leaving you plenty of time for a glass of rose and catch up with your friends!
The French week products are available just for the next few days – I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there tend to be different products in all the time based on different countries – I got some Italian blueberry balsamic glaze at a recent one for under £2 that was delicious! Complete salad life changer! That’s one of the things that impressed me the most when putting together the food for this post – a French themed offer could mean some mass produced croissants, but these products really do have the provenance to back them up!
The champagne: AOP Brut Rose
I much prefer Rose champagne – it’s fruitier and more fun somehow! This one (shown above) is £16.99 and is part of Lidl’s new wine cellar range.
Starter: Baked Brie with freshly baked French bread
To bake your brie, just pop it on a baking tray and into a hot oven (about 170C) for 8-10 minutes. It should be oozey, but not melting. Serve with chopped fresh apple, crackers and french bread. The baguette is a bake-at-home one (John-Pierre) which takes under ten minutes in the oven and tastes great – it has that real artisan baguette look and taste.
(A whole wheel of brie is under £3, and the baguettes 55p. Which means you could feed 6-8 people this starter for under a fiver!).
Main: Veggie Cassoulet with parmesan
You can buy huge tins of cassoulet in Lidl, but as a veggie I decided to make my own! It’s packed full of hearty autumnal veggies like butternut squash and sweet potato, and I used Linda McCartney veggie sausages, which are cheaper in Lidl all the time than when they’re on offer in Tesco (£1.35 for 6 – I buy a lot of veggie products and they can be pricey, so I notice the difference!).
This was a really yummy, filling and different autumn meal – I’d definitely make it again! I used this recipe and loved the crunchy cheesey breadcrumbs on top! It’s delicious with (yet more!) French bread!
Dessert: Gateau au Chocolat with raspberries
Gasp, a cake mix! I know! While a boxed cake wouldn’t normally be my first choice, I’m not averse to using them in some situations – as long as the taste is good! In fact, I used to ABSOLUTELY love Green’s chocolate brownie mix, they were the best brownies ever. I still look for them in the supermarket even though it seems to have been discontinued years ago!
I was really impressed with this one (I wouldn’t be recommending it to you otherwise!). The ingredients are pretty much what you’d put in if you were baking it from scratch, but it really does save time – you just put it into the mixer and add in 150g of butter and four eggs, mix it for a few minutes and then put it into the oven.
The resulting cake is soo chocolatey, and the cocoa nibs and chocolate flakes give it a really interesting texture. Normally you’d bake the gateau for 35 minutes until cooked through with a slightly squidgy middle, but I baked for a shorter 25 minutes for a really impressive fondant like finish. It tastes like the gooey-est chocolate brownie ever. With raspberries or some other zesty fruit, it’s a pretty impressive dessert, and not one anyone will guess you’ve only spent three minutes on it… and of course, it’s so much more economical than making brownies from scratch – this mix was just £1.49!
Coffee: With madeleines and macarons
This is basically second dessert, but hey, you know me! End of meal coffee (or tea in my case!) should always come with something small and sweet to nibble. The madeleines are absolutely delicious, with a really soft tender crumb, and a rich, buttery taste. I’ve never made madeleines myself but these taste incredibly close to homemade in my opinion. Warmed up slightly in the oven and dusted with icing sugar? I’m pretty sure no one will guess you didn’t make them. They’re £1.49 for a packet which has about 10-12 in. They’re all individually wrapped too, so they’re a handy portion controlled treat to have around for cake-aholics (like me!).
The macarons were also really tasty – they’re impressive, perfect little bite-sized treats and the pistachio flavour is to die for. As someone who has tried and failed to make impressive looking macarons, these good value store-bought versions are really useful – they can cost a fortune from other retailers! They’re £2.99 for a box of 12.
Annnnnd I don’t need to eat for a week!
Do you shop at Lidl? What do you think of them?
Happy Wednesday! It’s the season five quarter final. This week is ‘advanced dough week’, which isn’t the catchiest name for the challenge but hey ho!
First up, the contestants make an enriched yeasted dough, which is a loaf with added egg, sugar and often milk too. Martha makes a giant round plum bread and Richard makes a traditional Swedish tea ring. All the bakers do well, although Nancy makes an enemy for life of Paul by microwaving her dough to help it prove as Luis looks on nervously.
The technical challenge is up, and it turns out Povitica - a slightly strange looking walnut and chocolate bread (mmm nutella style!) is pretty much the same type of eastern European bread that Chetna chose to make this morning!
Only Chetna knows the secret of the long cooking time of the long-snake like bread, and the other contestants are too busy watching Nancy for clues for what to do. Nancy, alas, has no idea.
Judgement time on the weird chocolate and walnut bread – Luis is judged first, and Paul calls out his chunky filling and underbaking. Nancy’s bread is completely raw (she’s going home, surely??). Chetna’s up for judging next and her bread is pronounced ‘good’ by the judges. Martha’s bread is raw too – oh no! Richard’s is last to be judged, and his bread it underdone too. Chetna comes out on top!
Showstopper time, and the contestants are making doughnuts! All of the flavour combinations sound absolutely delicious! Disaster strikes along the way for Martha, who overproves her cupcakes, leaving them flat. Richard injects his doughnuts with jam like an expert surgeon, and Nancy draws incredibly cute little faces on her (also very flat looking) doughnuts.
Judging time for Richard, who’s made Toffee apple and rhubarb custard doughnuts. Paul calls them ‘cracking’ and ‘professional’. Nancy is up next with her limoncello and chocolate doughnuts, which are a bit overcooked. She once again talks back to Paul – I can understand her point of view but I’m not sure being lippy will get her anywhere.
Martha is completely honest with the judges that her doughnuts are overproved – they still look pretty delicious! They taste really good, but they’ve fallen short in other ways. Chetna’s doughnuts are also a bit too thin, but taste good.
Luis is last to be judged, and he wins Mary over with his Bailey’s doughnuts whereas Paul love the mojito and raspberry version!
Richard is crowned star baker for the FOURTH time (is that a record? Does Richard have the whole series in the bag?) and going home is…Martha! I felt really confident it would be Nancy – She’s been far patchier and less consistent all along. Martha is incredibly gracious and lovely about going home but it’s definitely not the decision I would have made!
Recipes from this week’s episode
- Luis’s Black Forest Rolls
- Richard’s Toffee Apple Doughnuts
- Swedish Tea Ring
- Raspberry Mojito Doughnuts
Great British Bake Off links from around the web
- People are complaining that bake-off has become too innuendo – packed
- Jordan did an interview right here on this blog, talking about his time in the Bake-off!
See you next week!
You guys know how excited I was when I was finally able to share the news that my lovely and talented friend Jordan was a contestant on this year’s Great British Bake-Off! The standard of contestants was incredibly high this year, and Jordan went home in week three. Now he’s here to give us the inside scoop on what it’s really like applying to the Bake-Off, and getting your fifteen minutes of fame!
Tell us about applying to the bake-off – when did you first decide to apply and what was the process like?
Well like most people reading this, it all started out with a love for the show itself. Now I was never the baker in the household, I left that task to my girlfriend. After the first season started though, I thought that I might like to try to “bake along” with the show. I tackled each week’s technical challenges with the reasoning being that I would go into each with the same amount of knowledge as the bakers on TV. As the season finished I found that I had quite a love of baking in general and I would look forward to each weekend when I could dedicate some time to the kitchen. I would put each bake (or at least the more successful ones) onto Facebook and deliver slices to nearby friends and neighbours. As my baking improved I started to get more and more people telling me that I should apply for “that baking show on the telly”.
By the time season 3 finished I started to feel cocky with confidence. I downloaded the application form from the website and, almost instantly, terrified myself. If you have ever seen a copy, you will know why. It is full of very detailed questions on you best types of cake, pastry, biscuits, pies and the like, wanting to know exactly how you came upon the idea and both successful and un-successful attempts at each. I decided that maybe, now knowing what the BBC were looking for, I should take another year to work on these skills.
Season 4 came around and showcased the likes of Frances, Ruby, Kimberly and Co. I can remember watching Frances’s bread sticks, complete with big matchbox case, and thinking “phew, bullet dodged there”! You would have thought that this would have been enough to put me off for life but, hounded by friends and family, I yet again downloaded the application form for Season 5.
It was as complex as before but this time I started at it with gusto, filling in a good ¾ of it. I then promptly forgot about it (maybe on purpose). A few months pass and my girlfriend reminds me that I still haven’t finished it. By this point I was sure the application date was over and I had escaped for another year. This was not to be. My girlfriend checked the official website to find that the application date had been extended and I still had another few days to apply!
I finished the application and sent it off, thinking that would be the last of it. The rest, well I suppose that is common knowledge now. Suffice to say that there were lots of phone calls that then lead to lots of visits to London to deliver cake I had made at home, smile on my face and trying to impress! I was very aware that, although this is a baking show, you can’t be dull as dishwater or it won’t make good telly! I played my natural boisterous character to the max, talking to as many people as possible and not shying away from any cameras. I’ve always referred to myself as the world’s most extrovert introvert. I will always be the first throw myself into the mix and try and get to know people although, quite often, I would much rather be the quiet one in the background. Like I say though, you want to be on TV, you need to play a character. Even if that character is just an extension of your real self.
I had to make myself available at a moment’s notice as sometimes I would be getting a call on a Wednesday evening to travel to London on the following Friday, taking a few bakes with me in the process. It was a frantic time! The application process was great fun though, if anything I would say it was my favourite part of the whole show. I got to meet some amazing people and have some good fun times.
The whole process from pressing send on the application form to finding out I was on the show took about 4 months. It felt FAR longer!
What was the most nerve-wracking thing about being on the show? What to wear on tv? Meeting Paul and Mary? Or the actual baking?!
The baking, by far! The team at Love Productions do a wonderful job of getting everyone ready for the show, making sure we are fully aware of how the day will run and what will be expected of us. Still nothing can prepare you for the first time you step in that tent!
All the bakers are given the challenges in advance (apart from the technical) and your recipes have to be sent back and checked over by the BBC. Every baker in that tent can cook everything they planned perfectly. At home. In the tent is an entirely different scenario! The stress of having a film crew constantly watching you, not being in your own kitchen, using different ovens and equipment all got to me. Baking for me is a cathartic experience, something I do to unwind after a long day\week, not something to be rushed.
You would know the time limits you were under beforehand and you would practice at home accordingly, making sure that each could be done in the tent with a few mins to spare. That few mins soon gets eaten up on the day though when you have to answer question after question to a producer, wait for a film crew to be available to film you putting something in the oven or one of any number of bake-stopping TV things! I ran out of time on each and every challenge. Some I managed to just about get by, like my Swiss roll, but others were absolute disasters. The 3D biscuit scene sticks in my head as a particularly bad one as I was all of 25% done when they announced 1 hour left on the clock!
By the time I took my showstopper Raspberry bread out the oven at the end of week 3, I could see it was not baked but I had run out of time. There is very few things in life as frustrating as failing to make something as good as you can at home. Especially something you know can be so very, very tasty! I knew by then that my time was over for me in the tent. I had truly been out-baked!
So, who did you really prefer – Paul or Mary? Mel or Sue?
The first time we met Mary, Paul, Sue & Mel is the same for us bakers as it is for you viewers. They walk into the tent on day one and give you the first challenge. You don’t mix with them & you don’t see them outside of the challenges in the tent.
Saying that, I did absolutely love Mel. She treated me like her little brother, trying to whisper clues to technical challenges under her breath and having calming chats when it was all getting a bit too much!
Sue is the funniest person I have ever met, blisteringly cutting in her remarks to Paul! I remember her saying that a joke has lost all its punch if you repeat it so she strived to never repeat herself. This scared me a little if I’m perfectly honest as I knew she was SO much more intelligent then I and would verbally tare me into small mint-balls should I attempt to have a battle of the wits! I hope that mine, Mel and Sue’s paths will cross in the future!
As for Mary and Paul, aloof is the word that springs to mind. I can’t comment too much on them as I really didn’t get the chance to get to know them really. Paul seems like a thoroughly nice fella and an incredibly knowledgeable baker. Mary, like a very posh gran. If I ever saw them again then I would say hello but I think our conversation would probably end there!
Did you pick up any life-changing baking tips or tricks from the other contestants?
I remember three things from my time in the tent. The first is Nancy’s method of filling the inside of a cake, placing delicate dots of filling in the middle to create a beautiful effect from the outside instead of my normal technique of simply splodging it on with a pallet knife!
The second is Chetna’s Chutney from week 2. Simple ingredients cooked quickly. This is something I need to take on board as most of the time my recipes are long and involved and don’t end up tasting anywhere near as good as Chetna’s food! I would share the recipe with you. But then I would have to kill you. This one we bakers are keeping to ourselves!
The third is Luis and Kate’s bread shaping from week three. I pride myself on my bread shaping ideas but these two both had me beaten hands down! Twisted and folded back on itself, I still don’t think I have got the technique down yet. Luis use of Golf Leaf on his showstopper bread will always stick with me too. As much as I give him grief over it, I absolutely adored the pizazz element!
Filming the series must have been difficult to balance with your everyday life – how did you do it?
With great difficulty! I am fortunate that I don’t have children as I think it would have been the death of me. I tip my cap to those contestants that do have kids, I honestly have no idea how they found the time to do anything!
I regularly found myself baking until 1am before collapsing in bed, ready to get up for work again at 7am! I baked 140 savoury biscuits before week 2 so I could be sure I had the chili levels correct. Crazy times indeed! I have a very loving girlfriend who supported me the whole way through the competition, without her I don’t think I would have gotten as far as I did!
Don’t think of applying for this show unless you are happy to give a full year of your life up. I mean that in the most serious way possible. You will not have time for any other hobbies. You WILL use up every holiday hour you have for the show. The bake-off becomes your life as soon as you start the audition process. I’m glad I did it but I am ready for a holiday, that’s for sure!
How has your life changed since GBBO started being aired?
Being on the show has been a mixed bag for me. I always knew that the one part I would never enjoy would be actually being on the TV and my fears have certainly been confirmed! I have for many years considered myself to be a Marmite man, you either love me or hate me and the public’s reaction has certainly shown that I think. I have had lots of lovely messages from people and some wonderful support, especially from my home town of Nottingham. I have also had an awful lot of hate and nastiness thrown my way. Mainly for silly things like the way I talk or my, rather colourful, dress sense and hair!
I am used to this, having been bullied throughout my school years, and I vowed at the very start that I would not let it affect me. Still, it’s hard not to take it to heart when you receive your 100’th awful email of the day!
I have had the press turn up on my door, hounding me for an interview. I have had the national papers take my words and twist them to their own agenda. This, all over a bit of cake. The mind boggles.
Still, now my time in the tent is over, I find life slowly returning to a normal pace again. I am enjoying my small amount of fame round Nottingham, appearing on the local radio or the local papers weekly with recipes and baking advice. I am being lucky enough to work with some wonderful charities and local organizations, baking cake and promoting causes I hold dear to my heart. My schedule is booked for many weeks to come, all with people that want to be able to meet and greet me. For this I am stunned but very thankful.
How do you feel about baking now that the Bake-Off is over? Has it made you even more passionate than before?
The thing the Bake-Off has taught me, above all else, is how much I love to bake. This was always a starting stone for me, using the bake-off to promote myself into the baking world. I have been baking far more at home and for various events around the county and have been feeling myself get better every day.
Baking to me isn’t about being on TV or about fame and infamy. It’s about making beautiful things for those I love. I hope to continue along this path and one day have my own little bakery where I will be able to spread some baking cheer to others.
What’s your biggest tip for anyone thinking about applying for the Bake Off in the future?
Think seriously before you do. Are you able to commit yourself fully for the length of time needed? Will you be able to stand up to the pressure of having your work, which you will have put such love into, torn apart by professionals without breaking at the seams? Will you be able to handle the attention you could receive, should you get onto the show?
Above all else, do you have a good range of abilities? Simply being able to make a really good sugar-craft decorated cake will not cut it. The bake-off is not simply a cake decorating competition (not taking away from what an incredible talent that is though) but an all-round baking\cooking\decorating competition. The standard gets higher every year so you HAVE to proficient in as many skills as possible.
Did I enjoy the experience? Immensely! Would I do it again? Never in a million years!
Do you see baking becoming a bigger part of your life long term?
Baking isn’t a hobby or an interest for me anymore. Not like it used to be. Baking is now who I am. It is an integral part of my life and I aim it to stay that way for many years to come. After going through such a crazy process such as the bake-off, I will never be the same again.
I hope to start a college course soon, learning the professional skills of the craft. After that, who can say! I’ve always been a big believer in grasping at every opportunity that life hands you so I’m sure you haven’t heard the last of me yet (just no more TV shows, OK?)!
Hi! If you want big, fat, soft and chewy chocolate chunk cookies, then oh boy have you come to the right place! These are as close to cookie perfection as I’ve ever come – round, thick and soft with a delicious vanilla taste and a gorgeous texture.
The Perfect Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies are packed full of two kinds of chocolate – chips, and chunks! Having different types (milk and plain) and shapes of chocolate really helps to make a more interesting and tasty cookie – as does sprinkling a bit of sea salt on top before the dough balls go into the oven. OMG Yum!
A warning – these cookies will not last long! In fact, some of the cookie dough mysteriously disappeared too – strange! I suggest that you hide some in a place that no one will think to look!
Achieving cookie perfection does mean that we have to make sure to follow a few steps that might differ from cookie recipes that you’re used to. The most important thing to note is the chilling of the dough – it’s a must to ensure these cookies turn out great, but it does mean that they aren’t something that you can make at the last-minute – at least not with quite the same thickness. And these cookies are thick – take a look at the pictures! They’re about 2.5cm tall!
Bear in mind though that the dough balls freeze beautifully, and so it’s a fantastic idea to make a whole batch of these cookies, but only bake half, popping the other half of dough balls into the freezer for the times that an emergency cookie (or cookie dough! Have you tasted frozen cookie dough? Lordy…) craving strikes.
If you’re ready to up your cookie game, follow these steps –
- Use light brown sugar (usually called light brown muscavado sugar in the UK) alongside caster. It gives a much richer, deeper flavour and helps keep these cookies moist and soft.
- Melt your butter – I know it seems counter-intuitive, but the melted butter helps these cookies to be super chewy!
- Chill – the dough before baking it. This is a must! Anywhere from 2 – 72 hours chilling time will help the flavours to deepen, and will mean that your cookies won’t spread into cookie puddles when baked. I chilled my dough for about 48 hours with these cookies. Simply tip your cookie dough onto a large rectangle of parchment paper, and bring together into a rectangle with your hands. Fold over the parchment paper and use it to roll the cookie dough into a big, fat cookie dough sausage. It’s deeply satisfying! Twist the ends of the parchment paper so your cookie dough sausage looks like a great big sweetie and pop it into the fridge until you’re ready to use!
- Form rounds of cookie dough – Once you’re almost ready to bake your cookies, remove your cookie dough sausage from the fridge, and use a sharp knife to cut into rounds that are about 2.5cm tall. The cutting motion will squish down the cookie’s a bit and make them more rectangular than round, so use your hands to shape them back into a circle shape, shaping them firmly until they’re quite tall (see pictures below). If you want prettily symmetrical and round cookies, you have to make sure your dough is completely circular – perfect cookies ain’t happening by accident!
- Freeze – I know, another step! If it’s a chilly day and your hands haven’t made the cookie dough too squishy, you can skip this step, but to guarantee reallly thick cookies, pop them into the freezer fot 10-15 minutes.
- Underbake! A scant ten minutes in the oven is all these cookies need! They won’t look done, but whip them out of the oven anyway and let them cool and firm up completely on the baking sheet.
- 175g unsalted butter
- 150g light brown sugar
- 75g caster or golden caster sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp corn flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 300g plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 250g chocolate chunks / chips or a combination of both
- plus 50g more to decorate the tops of the cookies
- Let's make our dough! Don't forget, you ideally need to chill the dough for at least 1 hour.
- First, melt your butter in a large heatproof bowl until completely liquid. Add the two kinds of sugar and beat thoroughly. Next, break in and beat in the two eggs, and then stir in the vanilla bean paste.
- In another large bowl, sift together the corn flour, baking powder, plain flour and salt, and gently stir into the butter mixture. Add in the 250g of chocolate chunks, briefly stir, and then tip onto a large rectangle of parchment paper and smush into a rectangle. Fold over the parchment paper and roll the dough until it forms a long round sausage. Twist the ends of the parchment paper so that you have a giant sweetie of cookie dough! Chill the dough in the fridge for 1 - 72 hours.
- When you're almost ready to bake, remove the dough from the fridge and use a sharp knife to cut rounds of dough about 2.5cm wide. Shape them into round, tall discs, and then pop them into the freezer to chill for 10-15 minutes while you preheat your oven to 170C/350f/gas mark 5 and line three large cookie sheets with parchment paper or non-stick baking mats.
- Just before you bake, press more chocolate chunks on top of each cookie - as many as you can fit on! And sprinkle with a little sea salt. Bake for ten minutes, until the edges are JUST starting to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool on the baking sheet (or overnight).
I’ve tried lots of things to give you really TALL, thick and chewy cookies and THIS is the foolproof method! It’s a must if you love cookies that are so soft and dough like inside and crispy on the outside!
Happy Friday, friends! Does anyone else worry how they’ll fare as a (presumably sleep-deprived) new parent, when I already struggle to get up every day and look forward to my Saturday lie in all week?!
This past weekend was a fun one – me and Lee headed to Staffordshire to visit my parents for my mums birthday. I got her a pretty star chart for the northern hemisphere in September and we went out for a day of charity shopping in Uttoxeter, which has lots and lots of charity shops. The most amazing thing I found was an authentic American diner style maple syrup pourer which was 50p!
We went for lunch at the Vintage Tea Emporium which was delicious as always, well worth a visit if you’re ever in Uttoxeter! And that evening we went to Pizza by Golly in Lichfield for dinner, who do delicious Italian food (not just pizza!). I also won two (TWO!) games of blocks and runs (a competitive and very lengthy card game with seven rounds!) after having not one any for about a year – hurrah!
For Cake Club on Sunday, I baked pumpkin doughnuts with a maple syrup glaze and caramelised pecan topping. They were very tasty, and the kittens were interested in getting their paws on some! The attendance at Cake Club was fantastic – lots of people turned out to support Maggie’s, and there were lots of autumnal bakes. For my three, I chose Erin’s Caramel Apple cheesecake (which was voted best cake!), plus a slice of Jordan’s blueberry cream cheese brioche (the bread that saw him booted out of the bake-off!) and a piece of caramel latte cake with pecans, which was very, very tasty.
I also got to try out the new Missoula Montana restaurant, which has replaced the Living Room in Nottingham. I went for lunch and tried a veggie (garden) burger in a brioche bun, which was absolutely delicious. And the fries tasted like Macdonalds, but better. But I’ve saved the most exciting thing for last, they have a breakfast menu, and they serve RED VELVET WAFFLES (yes they’re a thing!). I will be trying them most urgently, will let you know what I think!
I also started reading a new book this week – Love, Nina, which is really funny! And I tried out a new hairstyle, which was semi-successful, and certainly very easy to do! Oh and I discovered apple pumpkin candles in Home and Bargains! amazing.
The kittens continue to be crazy (mental is the word I use most often to descibe them!) and adorable. Milo gets better with them every day!
Oh, and the week finished with cookies… how good is that?
What do you have planned this weekend friends?
Welcome to week seven! I can’t believe that we’re well past halfway and there’s just a few weeks left of Bake-Off wednesdays!
It’s pastry week and that means a high-stress day in the tent… and I’ve heard rumours that there’s even more controversy coming our way (but seriously BBC, stop spoilering the Bake-Off).
The first challenge is to make 12 perfect savoury parcels to impress the judges with. Both Chetna and Kate are making Indian inspired parcels while Luis is making spanish style empanadas. Martha is making mini beef wellingtons which is quite original, I suppose. Richard is making lamb and sweet potato pasties (adorable baby ones!).
Richard is judged first, and his pasty’s look fabulous – he gets THREE ‘greats’ from Paul. Martha’s beef wellingtons also go down very well, while Luis’s empanadas are too big and a bit underdone. Nancy and Kate do very poorly, and Chetna’s parcels are ‘lovely’.
Oh, and Mel eats a lot of parcels!
Time for the technical challenge – it’s a kouign amann – a buttery, flaky muffin sized pastry. The recipe flummoxes the contestants, especially with regard to when to put the sugar in – Richard and Martha guess right by putting it in last. As their bakes prove, the contestants prowl the tent wondering if they’ve done it right.
Time for Paul and Mary to have their say on the kouign amann’s – there are some real variations in how they’ve turned out. Luis comes last, followed by Nancy, Chetna, Kate, Martha, and Richard is first!
Showstopper! The challenge is to produce 24 delicious, perfectly identical eclairs. We’ve got raspberry lemon meringue eclairs, neopolitan eclairs, and lavendar and blueberry eclairs… really creative, delicious flavours.
They have four hours to perfect their eclairs, but the judges
Nancy is judged first and the judges really like her eclairs, although find them slightly too sweet. Richard, the superstar, has made some homemade stairs to showcase his eclairs. They look fantastic – so even and perfectly done, and P-Holl and M-Bez like the flavours too.
Luis is up next and his peanut butter and jam eclairs are ‘different’ and ‘incredible’. Paul seems genuinely impressed as he heaps praise on a very pleased look Luis. Kate’s lemon and raspberry basil eclairs taste really good, but the presentation is a little poor. Kate laments that she’ll probably be going home as a result.
Chetna has accidentally made thirteen eclairs instead of twelve, which Mel and Sue quickly swoop away. The flavours are great, with Paul and Mary loving the different flavours. Last up is Martha, who managed to get her rhubarb and custard and bacon eclairs presented despite a battle against time. Martha gets probably her most constructive criticism yet – is there a chance she could go home?
Time for every week’s most nail-biting moment, and todays star baker is Richard for the unprecedented THIRD time. Kate is going home, true to her predictions, and Martha instantly bursts into tears, no doubt fearing she was the one leaving. Kate takes it with grace and aplomb – what a lovely lady!
Recipes from this week’s episode
Great British Bake Off links from around the web
- Mary speaks out on Bingate, saying it was no one’s fault and everyone gets on famously
- Diana has also spoken on it for the last time, saying that her conscience is clear on last week’s Extra Slice
See you next week for the counter-finals – a dangerous week of fruity bakes (and doughnuts!).
This stuff just smells like winter and the festive season! I love this time of year! But what is pumpkin pie spice? It’s a prepared product that you can buy in the US, but it’s very easy to make at home from spices you’ll probably already have on hand. Pumpkin Pie spice has kind of taken over most of America, there’s the Pumpkin Spice latte at Starbucks (I’m not a fan but you can make your own - I’m sure homemade is better!), Pumpkin Spice flavoured marshmallows, and now Pumpkin Spice Oreo’s too!
Making your own pumpkin pie spice is so simple, it’s just an easy combination of other spices! Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice to be exact. And you can adjust this recipe to your own taste – this one is heavier on the cinnamon, since I love cinnamon! So now if an American recipe calls for it, you can have some on hand ready to bake up an autumn/Christmas storm.
For the best Pumpkin Pie Spice, buy jars of cinnamon, ginger and allspice if they’ve been sitting around in your cupboard for a while, and grate your nutmeg fresh – it takes a bit longer, but it’s so worth it flavour wise.
- 6 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 4 teaspoons grated nutmeg (or ground, fresh grated is obviously better though)
- 5 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3 teaspoons ground allspice
- Combine the spices together in a bowl and mix gently. Spoon into a small clean jar or container (which is airtight) and store for the shelf life of the spices.
Let me know if you bake anything using it – I’m definitely going to be using it in cinnamon buns and other Christmas baking!
These tasty granola style bars are deliciously spiced, and packed full of wholesome oats, crunchy pecans and melty chocolate chips! They’re the perfect on the go treat for an autumn walk or day out, and even though they’re pretty good for you, the chocolate chips and pumpkin spices give them a bit of indulgence.
These Pumpkin Chocolate Oat bars are thick and chewy, but thanks to the pumpkin they stay soft and moist for days. I kept them in a tin for five days, and if I wanted to enjoy one with melty chocolate, I popped it into the microwave for about 8 seconds to warm it up slightly.
It’s true, we’re thick into pumpkin season around here and there’s no going back. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! (at least until the other most wonderful time of the year gets here).
You can make your own pureed pumpkin, but by far the easiest option is to buy it. Both Waitrose and Ocado sell it for home delivery, and you can also pick it up in large Tesco’s in the American food section – at the moment it’s £2 a can everywhere. I normally bake 2-3 baked goods (or savoury meals too like pumpkin soup or pumpkin risotto!) out of a can – I simply freeze any remaining puree from an opened can until I’m ready to use it.
- 350g / 3 1/2 cups jumbo oats
- 180g / 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
- 45g / 3 rounded tbsp melted unsalted butter
- 150g / 3/4 cup brown sugar (Don't worry if you don't have any, you can make your own! Just search brown sugar in the search bar)
- large pinch salt
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- pinch cloves
- half tsp ground ginger
- 115g / 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 80g / 1/4 cup maple syrup
- To decorate: 18 pecan halves
- Preheat oven to 160C/gas mark 4/350F and lightly grease a 9 x 9 inch pan.
- In a large bowl, combine the oats, sugar, chocolate chips, spices and salt. Next, mix the melted butter, pumpkin puree and maple syrup in another bowl or jug until combined. Mix the wet and dry ingredients thoroughly, and then tip the mixture into the baking tip. Press down firmly using the back of a spoon, and scatter (or place evenly) the pecans on top.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, or until golden brown.
You can also add dried fruits or more nuts to these bars – whatever you like!
I’m so happy they’ve started selling pumpkin in my local supermarket – I can’t see myself getting sick of pumpkin everything any time soon!
Happy Friday! I’m on holiday today visiting my family, and I am sooo happy to have a three day weekend to relax!
Last weekend, we attended a wedding in nearby town West Bridgford which was a lovely, lovely day! Pictures of the groom as a child during the best man’s speech were a highlight!
I also did a bit of baking and baking prep – I made some protein flapjacks, baked some cobweb cookies ready for Halloween (eek!) and tried to revive my sourdough starter with help from Twitter! Please let me know if you have any sourdough tips in the comments…. I’ve now fed it and it seems to be feeling better, but I’m not really sure where to go from here…
It’s been a delicious week too! I went out for lunch and had a delicious blue cheese, apple and walnut sandwich at Wired Cafe as we sent off one of our lovely workmates on maternity leave – look at these cute Cath Kidston onesies we got her as a parting gift! On Monday I was also lucky enough to have the most delicious dinner made for me by my lovely friend Lucy – veggie lasagne (with spinach), amazing garlic bread, salad and for dessert (!) – ice cream cake, in tribute to the Great British Bake Off! It was unbelievably good – and so easy to make – just a simple chocolate sponge, sandwiched together with a whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream.
The leaves are starting to change here and it’s so so lovely! I went for a run on wednesday evening around the local park and lake, and it was such a perfect evening for a run. I also saw these guys playing ping pong at one of the tables around Nottingham, it’s awesome seeing how people have taken to them.
Kitty update – Milo seems to be tolerating the kittens ever more! On that basis, we’ve decided to keep them, so we’re now a three cat family!
Oh, and this week I made these too… these are the most incredible brownies I’ve ever tasted! They are from an Ina Garten recipe I adapted to also include peanut butter chips and mini marshmallows. They were SO gooey as to be almost underbaked, but that’s how I love them. I’ll share the recipe soon!
What are you doing this weekend?
- Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts with a Maple Glaze and Buttered Pecans
- A French Dinner Party with Lidl
- Great British Bake-Off Season Five Episode Eight Recap
- Interview with Jordan Cox – Great British Bake-Off Season Five Contestant!
- The Perfect Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Snapshots from my week
- Great British Bake Off Season Five Episode Seven Recap
- How to make Pumpkin Pie Spice
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Bars
- Snapshots from my week
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