December 2012: Mincemeat crumble bars
It is hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner. Every year I promise to be organised and to have everything in place well ahead of time. Of course this never actually happens; I find myself running around like a woman possessed on Christmas Eve, desperately battling with Sellotape as I wrap last-minute gifts. Mince pies often find their way to the oven way past midnight, but I like to think that the delicious aroma helps Father Christmas to find our front door!
In my mind Christmas just isn't Christmas without mince pies. They have become a tradition in our house and I don't doubt that there would be shock and outrage from my family if I neglected to make at least one batch for the festive season! However, much as I love mince pies, I wanted to try something a little bit different for this recipe. To keep things simple, I thought a shortcake base would work well. It is pressed into the tin so no rolling out is required. Mincemeat had to feature in this recipe, so I decided to spread a generous layer over the buttery base along with grated marzipan (if liked). A sprinkling of crumbly streusel would finish the mincemeat bars off beautifully. This all sounded delicious in my head, but it would of course have to be tested. It's a hard life!!
I am not sure what possessed me to test this recipe with my 2-year-old little helper. He loves to bake and, as soon as he heard me utter the words butter and flour, he was sitting up at the kitchen table with his little apron on! I did have the presence of mind to grab a pen and paper to write the recipe down, but it was soon smothered in egg and rendered completely unreadable. In all the excitement we used far too much flour and, in an upsetting twist, I forgot to pre-bake the shortcake crust before covering it in mincemeat; at that moment I realised I would be testing the recipe again the following day!
The next day I waited until my little boy was in bed before trying again. I carefully wrote out the recipe as I went along, used the correct quantity of flour and even remembered to pre-bake the base. I would have felt quite chuffed with myself had I not gone on to misplace the handwritten recipe. I ended up on my hands and knees searching under furniture only to find it neatly placed on the dining room table!!
Despite my scatterbrain I am pleased to report that this recipe turned out just as I had hoped it would. It is dangerously moreish and was very quickly demolished! I would never suggest that this will replace the mince pie tradition but I may have started a mincemeat crumble bar tradition, whoops!
November 2012: Mini key lime and ginger pies
I came up with this recipe quite by accident. I'd planned to make my husband, Neil, a large key lime pie for his birthday. The pie in question had a ginger pastry, was filled with a luscious lime filling and topped with extravagant Italian meringue. It was obvious that the recipe would take some time and patience to complete; it was hard to ignore my sense of dread! I breathed a sigh of relief when I discovered the filling contained raw eggs. As I am pregnant, I would be unable to eat it and Neil doubted that he could eat the whole thing by himself!
I was left with lots of limes and couldn't bear to waste them. I decided to make my own quick and easy key lime pie and stick with a ginger theme. Instead of a pastry base which would require chilling and rolling out, I opted for a simple gingernut biscuit base. For the filling, instead of raw eggs, I used just three ingredients; limes, condensed milk and double cream. I decided against decorating with meringue or extra cream - simple is my motto in life!! I think baked goodies always look appealing in miniature form and these mini pies are no exception. It is crucial to use paper cases unless your tin has removable bases - it is very upsetting when you can't extract your beautiful little pies from the confines of the tin!
This recipe is super quick to whip up, but you must allow at least two hours for the topping to set in the fridge before serving. Although these mini pies may look almost identical to cheesecake in appearance, they will not set as firmly and will remain on the soft side; this is perfectly normal!! They should just hold their shape once the paper case is removed.
I really hope you enjoy these mini key lime and ginger pies. They are perfect to serve to family and friends for dessert. Everyone will assume you spent ages slaving over them. There is no need to correct them!!
Anneliese's top baking tip
If you bake fairly regularly it is worth paying a little more for your bakeware. Cheap tins can bow in the oven, providing an uneven bake. Investing in a few stronger and heavier tins will make such a difference to your cakes and bakes and they can last you a lifetime.
October 2012: Lemon drizzle cake
After spending 18 months baking my way through the wonderful recipes from Mary Berry's Baking Bible, I have opened my mind to other possibilities and ideas. Nothing too crazy, you understand! I wanted to begin this blog with a nice, simple, but most importantly, tasty cake. I think most of us start baking with a classic sandwich cake, so I hope this is a good place to take a first step. I'm not sure I know of anyone who doesn't enjoy a slice of lemon drizzle, so why not make it even more tempting by filling it with a luscious lemon curd and mascarpone filling?!
For me, a sandwich cake summons up an array of childhood memories. I must have made such a cake for almost every family occasion. It was either a vanilla sponge filled with strawberry jam or a chocolate version filled with a generous helping of rich chocolate butter cream. I never imagined I could venture into different flavour combinations; I stayed well within my comfort zone!
I really hope you enjoy this recipe and that you feel the urge to give it a try. Good luck!
Anneliese's top baking tip
My top tip this month is to read through the whole recipe before making a start. It is so frustrating to get halfway through a recipe only to find that you don't have all the ingredients in stock or that the dried fruit needs to soak in a brandy bath overnight. I know this from experience!!
Where to next?
- Read Anneliese's Rising to the Berry blog
- More cake recipes
- goodtoknow's cake hall of fame
- 151 delicious cupake recipes