Christmas gingerbread manger

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Me and my littlepoppits had a blast making this. It’s not perfect but hey who cares! Oh and the cookies went in 60(seconds)x

Grab yourself:

  • 225g/8oz butter, softened
  • 140g/5oz caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g/9oz plain flour
  • 25g/1oz cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped stem ginger
  • template for manger size desired
  • ready rolled icing, edible decorations, nativity figures, christmas cookie cutters

How too: (pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375ºF/Gas mark 5)

  • Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon, then beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes
  • roll out your dough and cut to your desired template. Make christmas cookies with any leftover dough
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes. Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes, then carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  • apply icing to your cake plate and your gingerbread and assemble your manger. Wrap up with pretty paper and your good to go!

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lemon meringue cake

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I’ve been meaning to make this cake for years but somehow my littlehorrorspoppits have always seemed to get in the way need me!

You see I reckon that when you make meringue, you need a clear kitchen and that goes for kids too, because in my house everyone gets splattered, by meringue that is!

To be precise it was 2010 when I discovered this cake in an extract from EAT ME! by Xanthe Milton. Anyways here’s how I made it.

Grab yourself:

  • 3 unwaxed lemons
  • 200g softened butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 250g self-raising flour sifted
  • 6tbsp milk

for the meringue:

  • 2 medium egg whites
  • 100g caster sugar

for the filling:

  • 250g tub mascarpone
  • 2tbsp sifted icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • half a 450g jar of lemon curd

How too:

  • preheat your oven to 160c/140c fan/gas 2½. Line the bases of 2 x 20cm sandwich     cake tins (about 5 cm deep) with nonstick paper. Grate the zest from the lemons and put in a bowl with the other cake ingredients. Beat together with an electric hand whisk for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Spoon into the tins and level the tops.
  • Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then add the sugar a teaspoon at a time and whisk on highest setting after each addition until the meringue is stiff. Spoon half the mixture over each cake and spread to within 2cm of the edges. Swirl the meringue with the tip of a knife.
  • Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes until the meringue is crisp and golden and the cake is firm. Test by inserting a fine skewer through the meringue-if just a few crumbs stick to the skewer, the cake is ready.
  • Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn each cake out onto a folded tea towel and then again onto a wire rack so meringue faces up. (this is tricky but if the meringue does crack, dust with icing sugar). Leave to cool completely. The cakes will keep for up to 2 days in an airtight tin at this stage.
  • When ready, beat together the mascarpone and sugar. Put spoonfuls of lemon curd over the mascarpone and swirl together. Set one cake on a serving plate and spread with the filling. Top with the other cake and dust lightly with icing sugar.

Gobbble up and enjoy, share if you must!

Eggs to use up? try these forgotten cookies

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To be honest with my three little chooks I don’t have this problem, but hey I don’t need an excuse to make these little beauties!

I’ve got an a lovely book on keeping chickens (Beginner’s guide to keeping chickens by Lee Faber) and in it some lovely egg recipes to share with you. These are small meringue cookies with a hint of chocolate which last about 5 minutes with my lot!

I’ve gotta be honest it took me a few goes to get these right and things got pretty messy! But after a little tweak to the original recipe they came out right!

Grab yourself:

2 egg whites

4 oz caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

pinch of salt

6 oz white chocolate chopped into small pieces

How to:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4). Cover two baking sheets with aluminium foil.

Get a large mixing bowl and put your egg whites in (you can’t have the slightest hint of yolk or it goes wrong!) using an electric hand whisk on its highest setting whisk the egg whites until firm but not dry. Now you need to add the sugar, but do this a teaspoon at a time and after each addition whisk in thoroughly on the highest setting. When the meringue is glossy and forming stiff peaks and is glossy you are done!

Add your salt and vanilla essence and very carefully fold in your chopped chocolate.

Drop 24 teaspoons of the mixture onto your baking sheets and place in your oven. Turn oven off immediately, and leave for 6 hours.

Then behold a plate of yummy cookies awaits!

Sweetie Cakes

Aside

This is a yummy addition to any birthday party table and is really very simple to make.

Choose an attractive plate to fit your occasion and get some sticky icing ready (this will stick your sweets together). Bag yourself some marshmallows and get stacking.

I find marshmallows work best and I usually add other sweets to the top and sides depending on the look I want. The picture here is a very simple one, which is lovely added to the top of a birthday cake. They also look great with some lovely floristry paper wrapped around and tied with ribbon, which also keeps them fresh.

My little poppits go mad for these and I’m sure yours will too!