A Touch Of The Bake-Offs

Anyone else feel a little Leith at this time of year? Have you got your Prue on? Is your soggy bottom a result of amateur baking skills or more the amount of Halloween goodies you’ve inhaled, like me?

As a kid I adored baking. Many an afternoon I’d furtively flick through the 1980’s ‘Good Housekeeping’ recipe book of my mums, past the prawn cocktail and beef stroganoff to the cake and desert chapter. I’d happily knock out a scone, a cornflake ‘melting moment’ or a cheeky flapjack. I’d cream and beat to my heart’s content then force feed my offerings to the family.

I lost that passion. Maybe it was calorie avoidance, maybe lack of time or enthusiasm but Delia became a far-flung friend. Why devote an evening to baking when Tesco’s could provide you with patisserie you could only dream of creating?

Till I had Harry. And unleashed my inner Delia once more (Delia Smith for those young’uns thinking that Mary Berry has the monopoly on muffins).

I’ve loved baking with him. But we’ve come to an understanding. He’s just there to lick the bowl now. He’s become less and less engaged with the actual ‘baking’ bit and just likes to supervise the clean up operation… with his tongue.

Today I went out of my comfort zone. Firstly we went dairy-free (not full vegan). Secondly I got a little fancy, flirting with some fondant. I have to say, I’m enjoying my growing collection of seasonal cookie cutters just a little too much. We spooked up our gingerbread today and went for all the ghosty ghoulishness we could muster. Well I did. And Harry approved of the moo-less mix.

  • 350 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 125 g dairy free margarine
  • 175 g dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 60 ml golden syrup

Gingerbread was my Christmas staple so I took the dairy-free recipe and made it according to my usual method.

First I melted the marg, golden syrup and sugar together then left it to cool.

I whacked all the dry ingredients together and stirred.

In went the beaten egg and the melted mixture. I stirred it together till it formed a dough. It was really sticky so I added a little more flour and then wrapped it up in grease proof paper. I put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

After half an hour, I peeled it off the grease proof paper and then sandwiched it between two sheets and rolled it out. Saves flour everywhere and you then have baking paper for your trays.

I always tend to leave it a little too thick. The thinner you roll the dough, the more crispy. I have a mixture of crisp gingerbread and more doughy, soft biscuit. I won’t lie – either work for me.

In the oven at 170 degrees Celsius (fan oven) for 10-12 minutes. You want a good colour. Then leave to cool on a wire rack.

I bought ready coloured fondant as the majority of the biscuits required black. Once they’d cooled I rolled it super thin and cut out with the cutter shapes. Because they expand, the cut fondant fits with a little gap around the edge.

A few Halloween embellishments and Delia love, quake in your boots. Prue… the spirit of the Bake Off and Halloween is strong in me. Hardly bake-off standard but excited to bust out the snowmen and reindeers soon!

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