Our journey into the world of Biscotti

After a couple of weeks of Biscotti madness I thought it would be good to blog about it.  It has been a fabulous experience and adventure and I got to do it all with my friend Karen from Karen’s Little Kitchen

 

As our first big bake we knew we were in for a challenge as we had to bake over 7000 Biscotti biscuits – no problem!!!  In fact it’s so easy let’s pick something that needs to be baked twice (I blame Karen for this decision!!).  The ingredients had been calculated showing us how much we needed of everything – this included 25 bags of flour and 378 eggs – this was going to be a big shop!!  I will also point out that this same week, my husband and I were getting our house ready to go on the market.  This involved de-cluttering and clearing each room, including the kitchen, so arriving home with boxes full of ingredients was going against the house clearing plan!  Luckily they would be turned into delicious Biscotti in no time!

A system quickly formed which ensured every stage of the preparation and baking was time efficient and ran smoothly, with the aim to have something in the oven at all times.  The Biscotti was all baked once before the second bake commenced as this stage requires the oven to be at a lower temperature.

The steps I took were

Round 1

  • Mix the ingredients
  • Roll into a sausage shape
  • Bake for 25-30 mins
  • Remove from oven and cool
  • Store
  • Repeat

 

Round 2

  • Spread out on tray
  • Bake for 15 minutes
  • Remove from oven and let cool
  • Turn each piece of Biscotti over
  • Bake for 15 minutes
  • Remove from oven and let cool
  • Bag and tie
  • Repeat

 

Round 3

  • Stick labels on tags
  • Cut string to size
  • Attach labels to bags
  • Pack in large box
  • Repeat!

 

There was a lot of counting involved throughout this process and I got to the stage where I was counting even when I didn’t need to!  I also noticed I was passing the day in 25 or 15 minute periods as I set the timer to start every time something was put in the oven, this caused each baking session to blur into one and time to fly by!!  However I can now bake a batch of Biscotti blindfolded!

 

For the Biscotti we had to design our own labels and we got them printed onto clear stickers that looked fantastic and professional.  I would definitely use this style of label for any future projects.

 

For delivery I loaded up the car, which took me about 20 minutes and some serious tessellation to get all the boxes into the car.  I then set off towards Keighley with the radio on and the sun shining.  I arrived at the new Gin Explorer offices with the Biscotti delivery and some homemade carrot cakes for the staff as a thank you for letting us get involved.  It was lovely to meet the team and see their new offices.  I also presented them with a bag of Biscotti off-cuts which was opened straight away and tucked in to – I was keen to remove all traces of Biscotti from the house now the order was complete!

dsc02758dsc02756 img_5546

I have really enjoyed taking on this order and working with Karen was lots of fun.  Although it was tiring at times and I had moments of Biscotti madness I would do it all again!!

 

No gluten sponge cake recipe

A while ago I was asked to make a wedding cake with a no-gluten sponge cake as one of the tiers.  I did lots of research and found a simple recipe that I liked and produced a nice tasting sponge.  However it did need developing as the sponge was rather delicate and would not allow any type of carving to be done for a shaped cake or take a lot of weight if I was required to stack them.

4 tier stacked
4 tier stacked

I have not had a lot of demand for no-gluten cakes so when the opportunity came this year to make 2 cakes I decided it was time to perfect the recipe.  I had been told that Xanthan gum could be used to make the sponge stronger and denser so I headed to Sainsbury’s and found it in the ‘free from’ range.

I used the recipe I already had and made an 8” round cake and added a teaspoon of Xanthan gum to the recipe, I added it with the dry ingredients, following the method as normal.

WOW – I was so impressed with what difference a teaspoon of something could make to the cake.  The delicious taste of the sponge was still there however now it felt like a stronger cake.  You could cut it and it didn’t fall to pieces, in fact when the cake was cut into slices you could pick the slice up and eat it, where as previously the advice would have been to grab a plate and maybe even a fork!

I made a no-gluten cake for my dad’s birthday and previously when I have made a no-gluten cake for the family there have been comments that it’s just not as good as a normal sponge, however this time they couldn’t’ tell the difference.

Miniature schnauzer
Miniature schnauzer

I also made one for my friend’s gran’s 80th birthday party and the feedback received from those who were gluten intolerant was fantastic, they said they had never tasted a no-gluten sponge cake as good as this before.

Cat cake
Cat cake

If you have a no-gluten recipe for any bake and find it lacks strength and stability, try adding a little xanthan gum to the recipe and see if this takes your recipe from tasty to perfect!

Download the recipe I use here and get baking – CLICK HERE

Chocolate Chip Cookies – delicious, addictive and easy to bake!

The first thing I can recall making that made me fall in love with baking was chocolate chip cookies.  I have memories of baking at home with my mum and making things in home economics at school, however I first made these cookies not long after I left University.  They are so easy to bake and it has always amused me that they can turn out slightly different every time you make them depending on how well they are mixed, how you put them on the baking tray or depending on what ingredients you use.

I have recently made them for a work’s leaving do and a few different charity coffee mornings and they have been a big hit.  I have also been working on getting them to be an even shape as when selling them at a charity coffee morning I felt it was important to have them equal in size and shape.  My trick to this is to use an ice cream scope to put the mixture onto the baking tray, just sprinkle a little flour in the scope to stop the mixture sticking.

I have been asked for this recipe so thought I would add it to my crafts download page and share it will all, to encourage everyone to get baking cookies – its worth it!

Head over to the Hours of Fun crafts and hobbies page and download the recipe.

CRAFT IDEAS PAGE

Any problems with the download let me know.

addictive

Happy Baking!

Gluten free cake recipe – makes delicious cupcakes

As with reduced sugar cakes I have blogged before about gluten free cakes however I have never included a recipe.  Each time I go to make a new batch I have to search through all my recipe papers (which need organising!) and hope I find the right one to use!

I have used this recipe for both cupcakes and cakes and I have found it to produce a lovely light cake, especially the cupcakes and the last batch I made were lovely – best batch to date!

I found this recipe at www.allrecipes.co.uk click the link to visit the page.

You will need :-

150g margarine

150g caster sugar

2 drops of vanilla essence

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder (ensure it is gluten free, I use Dr Oetker)

150g gluten free self-raising flour

3 tablespoons milk.

Method:-

Cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy

Beat in the eggs and vanilla

Fold in the flour and baking powder, then add the milk.

It may seem a little sloppy but this is fine.

Spread out accross 10 cupcake cases or place in small cake tin and bake at 190 degrees C for around 15 minutes or longer if in a cake tin.  I decorated with a small simple swirl of vanilla frosting.

 

 

Reduced sugar cake recipe, perfect for a special occasion for someone with diabetes

I have blogged before about baking reduced sugar cakes for my friend however I have never included the recipe.  For the last couple of years I have had to try and locate the recipe I had used in previous years then come across three different print outs which confuses me and I have ended up guessing which one I have used.  This year I am going to include the recipe so I can refer to it whenever I need it as I have had 2 events already this year which called for reduced sugar cakes and I have a couple more dates in the diary to come.

I am not sure where I found the recipe when I did a search on the internet.  I know it is simply called diabetic cake.  You can add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the mixture however I choose not to as my dad also has to watch his salt intake.

You will need :-

2 cups of self-raising flour sifted

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder sifted

6 tablespoons of margarine

1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract/essence

1/4 teaspoon ground almond

1 cup of sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

Method :-

Cream the margarine, vanilla and almond until fluffy

Gradually add the sugar – keep beating the mixture.

Then add the egg and mix well.

Gently stir in the flour and baking powder, alternating with milk until all combined and the mixture is smooth

Split the mixture across 12 cupcake cases

Bake at approx. 170 degrees C for 20 minutes (check they are cooked by inserting a skewer/knife through the centre of one of the cupcakes and look for any mixture stuck when you pull it out)

For the topping :-

I used Low fat crème fraiche, which I beat for a short while to fluff it up slightly.  I then cut a small hole out of the top of the cupcake and filled with no added sugar raspberry jam, then smoothed a layer of the crème fraiche across the top of the cake and topped with some crushed almonds.

 

Gluten free and reduced sugar cupcakes

 

Red velvet cupcakes – a new recipe to try

I was asked to make a batch of red velvet cupcakes as a present for Kurt’s mum.  I had not made red velvet cake before so I was very exciting as I love a new challenge in the kitchen.  With being rather busy I do not often get the opportunity to try new things with my cakes so when someone orders it, I rise to the challenge and have a lot of fun with it.

I found a recipe by Nigella Lawson and headed to the mixer to get baking.

The recipe was easy to follow and I loved the comment about the amount of red colouring to use as I did wonder if I was using too much, however it assures you to add it all!  I used my Sugarflair Ruby paste colour as this was the one I had in my kit.

They baked really well and the colour was a fantastic vibrant red, so far so good! The recipe uses a cream cheese frosting but I chose to go with a vanilla frosting topping, using a piping bag to create a simple swirl then decorated with red sugar crystals.  They then got popped into a cupcake box with a red ribbon tied in a bow as the finishing touch.

Kurt’s mum loves red velvet cakes and the feedback was fantastic and we had got the red velvet cake right yeay!  A new sponge to add to our list, I just need to try it as a large cake now.

Red velvet cupcakes
Red velvet cupcakes
Red velvet cupcakes
Red velvet cupcakes

red velvet cupcakes (2)

The full recipe and method can be found at

www.nigella.com/recipes/view/red-velvet-cupcakes

You will need :-

250g plain flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

100g soft unsalted butter

200g caster sugar

1 heaped tablespoon christmas red paste food colouring

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs

175ml buttermilk

1 teaspoon cidar vinegar