Gastronomically Terrific

January 30, 2015

Christmas garland fairy cakes

Filed under: Cake, Christmas — Tags: , — lawsonanna @ 9:58 am

Another pretty easy bake, I made these a few days before Christmas as a back-up for the days after Christmas Day when my family would still be visiting, but all the tasty Christmas food would be running low. I made them and froze them with the intention of defrosting them on Boxing Day.

As it turned out, they really weren’t needed. After Christmas Day there were plenty of cakes and chocolate in the house without the need for these to be added. So we waited, and defrosted them in January when we had friends visiting.

The cakes themselves are just simple fairy cakes with added cranberries to make them feel a little more festive. They took all of ten minutes to make and 15 minutes to bake before being put in the freezer.

The intention, before serving them, was to add icing sugar with a pattern in it, so that the cakes looked like they had holly on top. I have done this before, and it does look pretty good. However, because we were no longer serving these for a special occasion I decided not to bother. Thankfully it didn’t alter the taste of the cakes significantly – they still tasted pretty good. And at least it wasn’t more chocolate!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Fairy Cakes, Joanna Farrow, pg. 27


January 1, 2015

Redder-than-red cranberry sauce

Filed under: Christmas, freezer, main — Tags: , , — lawsonanna @ 4:45 pm

Cranberry sauce mixtureAnother recipe I made in advance and froze in preparation for Christmas Day. It’s a Nigella Christmas recipe, and incredibly simple.

You put cranberries, caster sugar, cherry brandy and water in a pan, then simmer it all together until the cranberries pop. It takes minutes to do, smells lovely and makes you feel virtuous because you haven’t just gone out and bought a jar of cranberry sauce. The hardest thing about the whole affair is finding fresh cranberries in the shop in the first place.

It was easy to get ready on Christmas Day too – I just removed it from the freezer a couple of days in advance and left it to defrost at room temperature. Five minutes before dinner was ready, I reheated it on the hob and gave it a stir to remove any lumpy bits.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pg. 119

July 12, 2014

Star-topped mince pies with homemade mincemeat

Filed under: Christmas, Sweets — Tags: , , , , — lawsonanna @ 7:09 pm

Mince pie one standingAnother odd Christmas bake for June, there were two reasons I chose to make these. Firstly, we were going on holiday with my family for a few days, and I knew there would be, and had been, loads of cake for them to eat (my dad had just retired and there had been a lot of cake on offer). So I wanted to make something that I knew they wouldn’t have eaten much of recently. I figured mince pies were a pretty good bet for June!

Secondly, I did want to do a test run of these before Christmas because I would like to make my own mince pies (I don’t normally). And not just my own mince pies, but my own mince meat as well.

I’m pleased to say, these turned out really well. The mincemeat was really easy to make, and smelt amazing. I wasn’t able to buy cranberries (it was June, after all), but the recipe worked just as well with grated cooking apple. Although I would use cranberries if I could, just because I prefer them. The pastry for the pies took a while to make, but it was worth doing. The recipe suggests you make bite size mince pies, and this did seem to work really well. It does take longer because you have to cut out more pastry pieces, and you could probably easily make standard size mince pies, but I liked the appeal of mini mince pies that you could eat in one go.

The one thing I will say about the recipe is that, as often seems to be the case with Nigella recipes, the amounts are vastly off. I made one third of the mince meat mixture and it made enough (just) for 36 small mince pies – according to the recipe it should only have been enough for about 15-20. Equally, I made half the amount of pastry mixture and it also (luckily) made enough for 36 pies; the recipe states that the full amount of mixture should make 36 mince pies. I was lucky that the amounts matched up; at least I will know for next time!

Regardless of the terrible amount judgments, this is a great recipe and worked out really well. I’d definitely be making these again – probably actually for Christmas next time though!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pgs. 186-189

February 11, 2011

Vegan Blueberry and Apple Muffins

Filed under: pudding — Tags: , , , , , — thinkingdan @ 9:43 pm

For Cake Club I decided to make Blueberry Muffins.  As we have a Vegan in our midsts it is always a good excuse to experiment.  I’m pleased I did – the normal muffins were something of a disappointment, but these quite made up for it.  Since I kind of made it up, I’ll give a full recipe (sadly no photo though).

The basic idea is that instead of eggs, the pectin from fruit can act as a setting agent.  Banana is a common option, but I opted for Apple since we had some.  Searching around on the internet, I found this recipe that was along the same idea – and didn’t require very many specialist ingredients.  I also didn’t have enough Blueberries for both recipes, so split them and made up the difference with cranberries, which worked really well.  They come out very moist, rich and delicately fluffy.

Clearly, you could replace the soy cream with real cream, and perhaps replacing a little oil with an egg would firm things up for non-vegans.  Saying  that, there really is no need – these are very tasty.

Ingredients (makes 12)

  • 2 small apples
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 250ml soy cream
  • 200ml oil (vegetable, olive, sunflower, anything will work.)
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 100g blueberries
  • 50g cranberries (dried)


  1. Cook the apple in a saucepan with the sugar until soft (adding water to prevent it drying out).  When cooked, mash lightly.  (I forgot to do this…)
  2. Mix the sugar, flour and baking powder together with the apple.  Whilst mixing, slowly add the oil and then the soy milk.  Finally add the cranberries and blueberries and mix gently.
  3. Pour into muffin cases (it is OK to fill them at least 2/3rds full.  They do rise, but will not stay as risen as ordinary muffins – I underfilled them.
  4. Bake at 200 degrees celcius for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe: Mostly my own, adapted from

Who made it: Dan

October 15, 2010

Christmas Garland Cupcakes

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , — thinkingdan @ 9:49 pm

These are fruity cupcakes, spread with apricot jam and sprinkled with icing sugar in a decorative pattern.


Christmas powered cupcakes. So what that it is only October? We're practicing!


To make about 8 fruity fairy cakes, mix:

50g margarine

50g light muscovado sugar

70g self raising flour

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

40g dried fruit (we used cranberries here)

in a bowl, spoon into paper cases and bake for 25 minutes at 180 degrees celsius (or until risen and just firm).  When cool, spread thinly with apricot jam, cut a piece of baking paper into the shape of a holly leaf and place in the middle of each cake before sprinkling with icing sugar.

These cakes clearly have the Christmas look and are pretty tasty too, though as with all cupcakes should be eaten as quickly as possible after baking.  I’m serious: they are divine for about 2 hours, amazing for a day, fine for a further day and simply tasty for another couple of days.  You wouldn’t choose food that was just “fine” over food that was “amazing” would you?  So get them down you on day one!

Mmmm, cake.

Who made it: Entirely Anna (I’ve been chastised for claiming to “assist” when all that means is licking the bowl and doing some washing up.  I’ve got to be careful unless I get punished…)

Recipe: “Fairy cakes” by Joanna Farrow, page 27.

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