Monday, 12 December 2011

On sweet things...


In between all the sewing, there's been a lot of baking going on in our house. My daughter recently bought The Great British Bake Off Cookbook; a book which she took to bed with her for several nights, so captivating were its pages! She's made several things from it, but when we had some friends coming over for dinner one evening, I snaffled it away for myself and made these chocolate and pistachio smothered brandy snaps.


I hadn't made brandy snaps before and they were featured as Mary Berry's 'Technical Challenge' in the book. There's a lovely process to make them: starting with making the mixture, then baking small flattened balls of it in the oven in small batches....


...before unpeeling the cooked mixture from the tray and wrapping it around an oiled wooden handle before it cools.


And finally, once hard, they can be dipped in melted chocolate and rolled in crushed pistachio pieces. They were simpler and far more fun to make than I'd expected, however, I made them again this weekend and, distracted by having lots of people in the room, I forgot to flatten the balls down and they didn't look as appealing as these ones, so perhaps I had some beginner's luck the first time.


However, taste wise, I'm not sure that the recipe for the Wholemeal Honey Cake that Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall shares in his Guardian column can be beaten - my daughter made this a few weeks ago on Nancy's recommendation and it is a cake that left a grown man nearly weeping with happiness as he ate it. I have bought her the River Cottage Cakes handbook as one of her Christmas gifts on the basis of how well loved this cake was (the recipe was devised by River Cottage's head chef).

In amongst other things there may have also been some chocolate mice...


And some stained glass window biscuits - again, made by my daughter.


Have you found yourself carried along in a floury frenzy of Christmas baking? This time of year always makes me feel particularly kitcheny...

Florence x

17 comments:

  1. That honey wholemeal cake makes me want to weep with happiness too - so glad it has made you all as happy as it made us!

    As well as that, and brandy snaps too, we've been baking apricot flapjacks, lemon bars and a great many mince pies. This cold wintry weather is perfect to hide away in the kitchen with flour, sugar and eggs.

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  2. Not until I read this post, but now I am filled with a need to do some baking, especially that cake which sounds amazing! My mum always made brandy snaps at Christmas and they were something of a tradition, of course being the 90's she filled them with squirty cream from a can. Yum!

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  3. Mmmmm all of these things look delicious. I would rather fancy a chocolate mouse dunked in a mug of tea right now.

    I just stumbled across your blog, it instantly made me smile, I used to read a series of books about a girl called Flossie Teacake when I was younger :-D

    Cute blog

    http://lovelettersandsnippets.blogspot.com/

    xxxx

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  4. You wicked woman Florence! Just as I was contemplating how NOT to eat this xmas, you show me that cake. I am now half way out the door on my way to the shop to get some ingredients .. sigh ...

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  5. I love that she took the book to bed with her - that is soooo something I would have done as a kid :)
    I had to make brandy snaps for a school project once...it didn't go well. I thought a cup of butter meant a cup of melted butter. Apparently it does not... If you find you have too many sweets yo can send some my way :)

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  6. I have found myself sewing less since the start of December, with panettone and stollen to make as Christmas presents, the (now) traditional gingerbread house I make with my son and we have to do stained glass biscuits too for him to share with his class mates before Wednesday.
    I love it. The trouble is I have to do quality control and eat it too!

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  7. Oh, they all look delicious!! I haven't done any Christmas baking yet but I may have to start tomorrow, right after I get my tree up and decorated!

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  8. When we were little my sister didn't like Christmas pudding or Christmas cake (in fact I think she had something against cooked fruit??) and insisted on having brandy snaps and satsumas every year as her Christmas day dessert. You've just made me think of making her some brandy snaps as a gift... Zebra-girl seems to be developing some very impressive baking skills!

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  9. I actually only ever use wholemeal flour for baking. I make chocolate muffins with it and they are delicious and rich. Wholegrain flour makes delicious cakes with lovely flavour and texture in my opinion, so I am not surprised that this cake tastes good. As a vegetarian though I am not too keen on using honey so I try and avoid it. Although it is not actually seen as a non vegetarian food I know.

    I made brandy snaps as a child and they were fun, looking at the lovely things your daughter has made I'm sure she would be able to do them too. Just a little supervision as they are hot. I have never made stain glass window biscuits and have always wanted to. These look very pretty. I think your daughter is becoming a very good cook!

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  10. Those brandy snaps look wicked good, and the chocolate mice - perfect gifts for little ones!

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  11. It makes me hungry just looking at these.

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  12. Mmm i love a baking post! This all looks very lovely, I'm going to check out the British bake-off book (wonderful that your daughter cant put it down!) and the Hugh cake, well, that is right up my alley! Off to investigate...

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  13. I used to read the Flossie Teacakes books when I was younger too!

    I've been making the stained glass window biscuits with the girls. We did Christmas tree shaped ones with lots of windows in that we then hung on the tree.

    Taking a cookery book to bed is also the sort of thing I used to do as a child. I used to take Jane Asher cake books out from the library and pore over them at home. I never made any of them but I loved looking at the pictures!

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  14. Everything you and your daughter have made looks delightful! We are firing up the ovens for Christmas baking here as well; we might have to try something new!

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  15. I really must read things more carefully.
    I thought you said that Hugh's honey cake could not be EATEN, then went on that it made someone cry, and I thought it must be bad. Then I saw the 'with happiness' part and had to re-read it!

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  16. Wow, I never thought to make brandy snaps! This post has made me so hungry...x

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  17. I love brandy snaps. They go nicely with whipped cream and strawberries. Cute mice too.

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Florence x