Gluten-free apple and pear mini loaf cakes with custard cream icing

Makes:  24 mini loaves


For the Apple and Pear Puree

  • 2 tart eating apples (such as Braeburns)
  • 2 pears
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons caster sugar

For the Cakes

  • 1 splash of vegetable oil or butter to grease tin
  • 8 large eggs
  • 325 grams ground almonds
  • 275 grams caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the icing:

  • 100g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp custard powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 600ml double cream

You will need:

2 x 12 hole mini loaf tins
Piping bag and star nozzle


  1. The icing will need to chill in the fridge overnight, so make it the day before you want to serve the cakes. Sift the icing sugar and custard powder into a large bowl, add the vanilla extract and 4 tbsp of the cream, then whisk until smooth.
  2. Tip the remaining cream into a medium saucepan and heat gently until small bubbles start to appear around the edges of the pan – the cream should be hot, but not boiling. Gradually pour this into the bowl with the custard powder mix, whisking all the time. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat. Cook gently for 4-6 mins, stirring all the time, until the mixture has thickened and the custard powder has dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and cover the surface directly with cling film. Leave to cool, then chill overnight.
  3. Peel, core and chop the apples and pears roughly. Put them in a saucepan with the lemon juice and sugar and bring the pan to a bubble over a medium heat. Cover the pan and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until you can mash the fruit to a rough puree with a wooden spoon or fork. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4/180ºC/350ºF.  Grease the tins.
  5. Add the eggs, ground almonds, caster sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the cooled puree and mix either with a handheld whisk or with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer.
  6. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 15-20 minutes until the sponges are golden and spring back when lightly pressed.
  7. Leave to cool in the tins for a couple of minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. When the loaves are cool, whip the chilled custard cream icing to soft peaks, then transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. If the mixture is too stiff to pipe, pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until it is soft enough to whip.  Holding the bag at a 45 degree angle, pipe some icing onto each loaf using a zigzagging motion.

Gluten free blood orange and pomegranate tart


For the pastry:
375g plain gluten free flour, sifted
250g butter, cut into cubes
125g caster sugar
1 egg
2-4 tbsp water

For the filling:
200g caster sugar
Juice and zest of 3 blood oranges
2 free range eggs, plus 6 yolks
200g butter, cubed

For the topping:
3 blood oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds
60g pomegranate seeds
1 tbsp demerara sugar

You will need:
A 23cm tart tin
Cooks’ blowtorch
Baking parchment


  1. To make the pastry, rub the flour and butter together until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.  Mix in the caster sugar and then, using your hand, mix in the egg and enough of the water to ensure that the mixture comes together as a dough.
  2. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.  Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured sheet of baking parchment so that the pastry is around 1 inch bigger than your tin.  Using the rolling pin and the parchment carefully lift the pastry and drape it over the tin.  Press it into the tin and patch up any holes or gaps. Trim the excess pastry. (The pastry is very delicate so don’t worry about having to patch it up – once you’ve filled the tart no one will know!).
  4. Bake for 20 minutes until golden and baked through.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin whilst you make the filling.
  5. Whisk the sugar, orange juice and zest, eggs and egg yolks together in a bowl until well combined. (The leftover egg whites can be frozen and used later for meringues or macarons).
  6. Add the butter and set over a pan of simmering water. (Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water.)
  7. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the butter has melted and the mixture has thickened.
  8. Pour the mixture into the cooled pastry case and set aside to cool.  Once the filling has cooled put the tart in the fridge until it has set.
  9. Arrange the orange slices and pomegranate seeds on the cooled tart and sprinkle over the demerara sugar.
  10. Using a cooks’ blowtorch (or, if you don’t have one, a hot grill), heat the sugar until caramelised.
  11. Cut yourself a large slice and enjoy!

Happy New Year!

Happy 2017 everybody! I have had a lovely Christmas and New Year filled with family, friends and food.   One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to develop and write some recipes of my own and so for the last few weeks I have been working on some exciting new recipes to share with you all.

I have almost perfected my first – Gluten Free Orange and Pomegranate tart – so keep your eyes peeled for the recipe which will be uploaded soon!

Speak soon and happy baking!

Katherine xx

Victoria Sponge with a twist

Sometimes I love going back to basics and I think that you can’t beat a simple Victoria Sponge.  But sometimes it’s fun to give classics a little twist and that is what I’ve done here.

A few weeks ago a friend gave me a big bag of rhubarb from his garden and I used it to make a lovely rhubarb and vanilla jam from the Good Food website ( Although there are more traditional fruits that spring to mind when I think of summer, I thought that the tart rhubarb would be a lovely contrast to the sweet sponge.


225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder

For the filling and topping;
Rhubarb jam
300ml double cream
Icing sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat your oven to 180C / Fan 160C /gas mark 4. Lightly grease and line two loose-bottom 20cm (8 inch) tins.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and baking powder into a large bowl and beat for about 2 minutes until just blended (if beating by hand you may need to beat for slightly longer).
  3. Divide the mixture between the two tins and smooth out the tops with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula. (Some people like to weigh the tins to make sure both have the same amount of mixture in. I don’t have the patience for this so I just do it by eye and if the sponges aren’t quite the same size I tell myself it looks rustic and homemade!).
  4. Bake the sponges for about 25 minutes until risen and golden (TIP- every oven is different so the baking time for any recipe should be a guide only. Get to know your own oven and adjust timings accordingly. My oven is super efficient so I always bake for at least 5 minutes less than the recipe says. One good way to tell if your cake is cooked is to push gently on the top of the cake with your finger – if it is done the cake will spring back).
  5. Leave the sponges to cool in the tins slightly and then run a blunt knife round the edge of the tins to loosen the cake and then turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack (TIP – I always place my loose-bottom tins onto an upturned glass. This means you can use the balls of both hands to gently push down on either side of the tin to release the cake).  Peel off the grease- proof paper and leave the cakes to cool completely.
  6. When the cakes are cool, choose the cake with the best looking top then place the other cake top down onto your serving plate or stand.  Spread the jam onto the sponge. I haven’t specified how much you need as it’s really personal preference. I used about half a large jar as I like a lot of filling in my cakes! Whip the cream until it is stiff enough to be spread and then spread this on top of the jam. Again, I was very generous with the cream as I love the look of cream oozing out of a cake but put in as much as you like.
  7. Put the other cake on top and sprinkle with some icing sugar to serve.  I served my cake with lots of lovely fresh fruit which was fabulous but the cake is so delicious it can definitely be served on it’s own.


April challenge – Bread

April Challenge – Bread

I am not a big bread maker. When I do make time for it I love the process of proving and kneading but I often find that I just don’t have the time to dedicate to making a decent loaf.  As my year doesn’t show any sign of slowing down and so I needed a quick bread recipe to try for this month’s.  Flicking through Paul Hollywood’s book “Bread” I found a recipe for Pitta breads. This dough has 5 ingredients and only requires one prove – perfect!


250g strong white bread flour
5g salt
7g fast-action dried yeast
20g nigella or black onion seeds (I could not find these and so I left them out)
160ml cool water
2tsp olive oil

Makes 4-6 pittas


  1. Put the flour into a large bowl and add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the nigella seeds, pour in 120ml of the water and add the 2tsp oil.  Mix the ingredients together using the fingers of one hand.  Add the remaining water a little at a time until you have a smooth, soft dough and you’ve picked up all of the flour from the sides of the bowl.  You may not need all of the water. (TIP – when adding the water add a tiny bit at a time, even the smallest amount of water can make all the difference to the dough).
  1. Pour a little oil onto a work surface and place the dough onto it. Knead for 5-10 minutes until you have a smooth, elastic dough (TIP – I “cheated” here and used the dough hook setting of my kitchen aid. Kneading by hand is fun but this certainly saved me some time and energy! 5 minutes on a medium speed did the trick).
  1. When the dough is soft, smooth and stretchy, shape it into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl.


  1. Cover and leave to rise until the dough has doubled in size – at least 1 hour. Then heat your oven to 220°C (or higher) and put two baking trays inside to heat up.
  1. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock back by folding the dough in on itself repeatedly until all the air is knocked out. Divide the dough into 4-6 equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball.  Flatten each ball with your finger tips, then roll into an oval 5mm-1cm thick.


  1. Take the hot trays from the oven, dust with flour and lay the pittas on them. (When putting the trays back in the oven, don’t forget they are hot!).  Bake for 5-10 minutes until the breads puff up and just start to take on a hint of colour.
  1. Wrap the pittas in a cloth to trap the steam and keep them soft, then leave to cool. They are best eaten on the same day or they can be frozen.

I would never have guessed how easy it would be to make pittas from scratch. For some reason I had always thought they would be much more complicated.


Next time you fancy some lovely fresh bread but find yourself a bit pushed for time why not whip up a batch of these lovely pittas. They tasted delicious still warm from the oven!

I have been inspired by Bake Off Crème de la Crème so next month I am going to attempt patisserie!

Happy Baking!



March Challenge – Pastry

Phew! I don’t know about you guys but I can’t believe that we are almost at the end of April already! I completely missed February. I finally have a bit of time to catch up with you all and update you about my March challenge- better late than never! (I did do my February challenge – Cake Week – I just didn’t blog about it, promise! You can see the pictures on my Instagram and Facebook). I will be tackling bread this month for my April challenge and will upload the blog next week!

I tackled pastry in March and stepped out of my comfort zone by attempting gluten free pastry. Here is how I got on making a red pepper and goat’s cheese gluten free tart:


For the savoury crust
280g plain white gluten free flour
1tsp xantham gum (can be found in most large supermarkets)
1/2 tsp salt
125g unsalted butter, diced and chilled
1/2 to 3/4 cup ice cold water

For the filling
3 red peppers
1 garlic glove, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
200g goats’ cheese, sliced
3 eggs, beaten
150ml natural Greek yogurt (I used soya yoghurt)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, xantham gum and salt until well combined.

2. Add the butter and cut in the butter using either a pastry cutter or two knives to cut repeatedly into the mixture until the mixture resembles sand.

3. Add 125ml water to the mixture slowly. Cover your hands in flour and bring the mixture together with your hands. It will be flaky and probably sticky but keep adding water a little bit at a time and make sure your hands are floured and the dough will eventually come together.

4. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it in cling film. Chill for about an hour.

5. Lightly butter a 23cm shallow tart tin.

6. Put the pastry between two sheets of cling film and roll out to 2in larger than your tin. Remove the cling film from one side of the pastry and then pick up the pastry and drape it over the tin. Peel away the cling film and gently ease the pastry into position, lifting the edge of the pastry and pressing firmly into place with your fingertips.

7. Run a rolling pin over the top of the tin to trim off the excess pastry.

8. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes until golden brown (NB. Don’t line the pastry with baking paper and baking beans – the paper will stick to the pastry and you will spend ages trying to surgically remove the paper with a knife…). Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

9. Whilst the pastry is baking, cut the peppers into quarters and remove the seeds. Place the peppers in a roasting tray with the garlic and drizzle with oil. Roasted at 180C (fan 160C, 350F/gas mark 4) for 20 minutes or until the peppers are soft. Put to one side and leave the oven on.

10. Cook the onion in a saucepan over a low heat for 5 minutes then add the balsamic vinegar. Cook for a further 5 minutes until the vinegar has reduced and the onion is the texture of marmalade.

11. Spread this evenly over the bottom of the pastry case and arrange the peppers on top (pack them tightly but leave some gaps as you want the topping to sink through). Follow this with the slices of goats’ cheese.

12. Mix the eggs and yoghurt together and season well with salt and pepper. Place the tart on a baking tray then pour the egg mixture evenly over the filling.

13. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the tart is set and golden. Garnish with parsley and top with some spare peppers if you wish.

Gluten Free Tart (March)

This was my first attempt at gluten free pastry and (except the minor surgery with the baking parchment) I am so pleased with how it turned out.

Happy baking!

Katherine xx

Gluten Free Chicken, Bacon & Mushroom Pie

After a busy few weeks (including a trip to China for the hubby!) we decided that a roast just seemed like too much effort this Easter Sunday. We wanted something warming since Storm Katie was in full swing outside (we had sunshine, hail and rain in the space of an hour!) and so we decided on a pie and roast potatoes with lashings of gravy – yum!



For the savoury crust:

280g plain white gluten free flour
1tsp xantham gum (can be found in most large supermarkets)
1/2 tsp salt
125g unsalted butter, diced and chilled
1/2 to 3/4 cup ice cold water
1 egg, beaten

For the filling:

50g butter
1 medium leek, trimmed and sliced
50g plain white gluten free flour
300ml milk
300ml hot chicken stock
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
150ml white wine
500g chicken breasts, diced


  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, xantham gum and salt until well combined.
  2. Add the butter and cut it in using either a pastry cutter or two knives to cut repeatedly into the mixture until the mixture resembles sand.
  3. Add 125ml water to the mixture slowly. Cover your hands in flour and bring the mixture together with your hands. It will be flaky and probably sticky but keep adding water a little bit at a time and make sure your hands are floured and the dough will eventually come together.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it in cling film. Chill for about an hour.
  5. Lightly butter a 18cm shallow tart tin.
  6. Put the pastry between two sheets of cling film and roll out to 2in larger than your tin. Remove the cling film from one side of the pastry and then pick up the pastry and drape it over the tin. Peel away the cling film and gently ease the pastry into position, lifting the edge of the pastry and pressing firmly into place with your fingertips.
  7. Run a rolling pin over the top of the tin to trim off the excess pastry. Keep this to make the pie lid.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C fan (200C /Gas 6) for 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  9. Melt the butter in a pan. Add the leeks and fry over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the chicken and bacon and fry until the chicken is sealed.
  10. Slowly increase the heat and then add the wine, cooking until the wine has reduced. Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes.
  11. Mix the flour with a little of the milk in a small bowl to make a smooth paste and add to the pan. Stir through and then add the remaining milk and stock. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time until the sauce is thickened and smooth.
  12. Add the mustard and season with pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly before pouring into the blind baked pastry case (if you have any mixture left over, it goes really well with pasta!).
  13. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut out a lid slightly larger than the pie tin.
  14. Brush the top of the pastry case with some of the beaten egg and place the lid on top, pressing down gently. Take care to handle the pastry very gently as it is more delicate than normal pastry. If you’re feeling fancy you can crimp the edges and decorate the top with pastry leaves or other shapes.
  15. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg (again, be gentle to avoid ripping the pastry) and create a small steam hole in the middle of the pie (using a skewer or sharp knife).
    Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes until the pastry is golden.
  16. I served the pie with roast potatoes and fresh veg and some chicken gravy. Just perfect for a blustery Easter Sunday!


I would love to hear from you if you make this recipe!

Happy Baking!


Tea Cakes

As you lovely people may know, the hubby and I moved house a few months ago and in the move I discovered a brand new silicone tea cake mould, still with the packaging on and everything! So, to avoid risking giving my husband further ammunition in his “you have too much baking stuff” conversation I set about putting the mould to use!

I used a recipe from the GBBO “How to Turn Everyday Bakes into Showstoppers” book, but put a little twist in to liven it up a bit. I was a bit apprehensive about this bake (who could forget the stressful episode in Series 3 when the bakers attempted chocolate teacakes on one of the hottest days of the year?!) but I was pleasantly surprised about how straightforward the recipe was. You just need to be prepared to put in a bit of time as there are several steps that require a bit of waiting whilst chocolate sets etc.

I have set out the recipe and method below and put in my hints and tips based on my experience of baking these lovely little teacakes.


For the shells:
400g dark chocolate (*see tip below*)

I used 85% cocoa solids which worked well with the sweetness of the marshmallow, however I found it slightly too bitter for my personal taste and so next time I would probably use either plain chocolate or a mix of dark and milk chocolate.

For the biscuit base:
50g plain wholemeal flour
50g plain flour
good pinch of salt
½ tsp baking powder
25g caster sugar
25g unsalted butter, at room temperature (diced)
1 tbsp milk

For the marshmallow:
3 free-range egg whites, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
½ tsp salt
½ seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod

I added the zest of one large orange to the marshmallow mix to give it a bit of extra zing!

1 x 7.5cm plain round cutter
1 baking sheet, slightly greased
6 hole (7.5cm) silicone semi dome chocolate mould
Baking paper
2 x disposable piping bags

I found that using the same size cutter as the chocolate mould meant that the biscuits were slightly too large to fit comfortably on the base of the teacakes. I would suggest either re-cutting the biscuits as they come out of the oven or using a slightly smaller cutter than your mould.

1. Break up 300g of the chocolate and melt it. Leave to cool and firm up slightly

It’s a good idea to transfer the chocolate to a cold bowl, as leaving it in the bowl you used to melt the chocolate will slow down the cooling process.

2. Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flours, salt, baking powder and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in until the mixture resembles fine crumbs, then add the milk and work the mixture until the dough comes together to make a smooth ball of dough.

If the dough is still a bit dry, just add a little bit more milk until it comes together.

3. Turn out onto a lightly floured worktop and roll out to about 5mm thick. Using the round cutter, cut out 6 discs, re-rolling the trimmings if necessary. Arrange slightly apart on the prepared baking sheet and prick each biscuit a couple of times with a fork. Chill for 10-15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas 3.

4. Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes until firm and just starting to colour around the edges – don’t let them get too dark or they will taste bitter. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

5. Wipe out the semi-dome mould with kitchen paper, then pour about 1 tablespoon of chocolate in each hole. Spread with the back of the spoon, and tip and swirl for several minutes, so the holes are completely covered (be careful when swirling one hole that the chocolate doesn’t pour out of the other holes!) – the domes need enough chocolate to be sturdy but should be thin enough to bite through easily. Take your time doing this, to allow the chocolate to thicken up so it doesn’t settle in the base of the holes. Leave to set (but not in the fridge).


I spread the chocolate out and then left it for a few minutes next to an open window to harden up slightly and then used a spoon to re-spread the chocolate that had settled back into the base.

6. Dip the cooled biscuits in the remaining melted chocolate to cover completely and evenly (or brush chocolate over them), then place them uneven side down on a sheet of baking paper. Leave to set.


7. To make the marshmallow, put all of the ingredients into a large heatproof mixing bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk with a hand-held electric mixer on full power for 6-8 minutes until you have a bowl of thick, glossy, silky-smooth and very stiff meringue (rather like Italian Meringue). It needs to be stiff enough to pipe. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk for a few more minutes until the meringue has cooled. Leave it until it is completely cold, then spoon into one of the piping bags.


When filling piping bags, to avoid mess, I put my piping bags into a clean glass and fold down the edges then fill them and roll the edges back up.

8. Melt the remaining 100g chocolate as before. Spoon into the other piping bag and turn up the tip so the chocolate doesn’t set hard; stand it in a glass until it has cooled and firmed up to piping consistency.

9. To assemble the teacakes, peel the biscuits off the paper and lay them, flat side down, on a clean sheet of baking paper. Snip the end off the piping bag containing the marshmallow to make a 2cm opening, then pipe the marshmallow into each chocolate dome to fill it level with the rim.

I tried “swirling” the marshmallow round a bit like I do when icing cupcakes and also simply holding the piping bag in the bottom of the dome and squeezing the bag and found that the latter was the most effective way of filling the domes.


10. Snip off a 2cm opening from the piping bag containing the chocolate, then carefully pipe some chocolate on the marshmallow and a ring of chocolate around the edge of each biscuit. Swiftly place a biscuit on each marshmallow-filled dome. Smooth the join with a knife then leave to set until sealed together.

As I said above, my biscuits were a bit too big and so I had to slightly peel back the silicone mould and “glue” the base to the dome with a lot of melted chocolate.

11. Very carefully remove the chocolate domes from the mould by turning the mould upside down and gently popping out the domes (as though you are removing fragile ice cubes from a tray). Store in an airtight container in a cool place, but not the fridge, and eat within 2 days.

I didn’t turn the moulds upside down but “peeled” them away from the top edge of the dome first and then gently pushed up from the bottom at the same time as peeling the mould away to get the domes out.

I thoroughly enjoyed making these teacakes (and eating them)! Let me know if you have tried this recipe or something similar and, if so, how you got on? I’m thinking about another recipe which would use white chocolate and raspberries. What other combinations do you think would work?

Happy Baking!



Great British Bake Off – 2016 Baking Challenge – January

Welcome to I Love to Bake’s first blog of 2016. Sorry it has take a while, this year really has got off to a hectic start!

As you all know I absolutely love making cakes and I use any excuse to whip up a beautiful, full sized cake. But I also love trying new things and I feel like I would love to get more experience in other types of baking.

So, with this in mind I decided I would step out of my comfort zone and expand my repertoire. I decided to take inspiration from The Great British Bake Off and will be making one thing each month from a different theme. January was “Biscuit Month” and I made Chocolate and Peanut Butter cookies and Lemon Macaroons from The Hummingbird Bakery’s Home Sweet Home book. Here’s how I got on.

Lemon Macaroons

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Grated zest of one lemon
230g icing sugar (sifted)
115g ground almonds

Makes 15-20 macaroons

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F), Gasmark 4, and line three baking trays with baking parchment.

2. Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and vanilla extract, then continue to whisk the egg whites until they are thick, white and glossy.

3. Using a rubber spatula, gently and gradually fold in the lemon zest, icing sugar and ground almonds.

4. Put the mixture into the piping bag and pipe cookies onto the prepared baking trays, each about 5cm (2in) in diameter as they will spread. (Alternatively, you can use a dessertspoon to spoon the mixture onto the trays in dollops, but your macaroons will come out less evenly shaped). Make sure to keep the cookies about 5cm (2in) apart from each other on the tray.

5. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes or until a golden colour and a nice shell has formed.

6. Allow to cool slightly and then remove from the baking sheet using a palette knife. Be careful as they can stick and easily crack. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before serving


Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookies

170g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
115g unsalted butter, softened
120g crunchy peanut butter
120g caster sugar, plus 40g extra for rolling
90g soft light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Makes 20-30 cookies

1. Preheat the oven to 170 C, Gas mark 3, and line two to three baking trays with baking parchment.

2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.

3. Using a hand-held electric whisk or a free-standing electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, peanut butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. With the speed on slow, add the dry ingredients and mix until combined and a dough is formed.

4. Put the extra caster sugar in a small bowl. Roll the dough into 4-5cm (1.5-2in) balls, and roll each ball in the caster sugar to coat. Place the dough balls onto the prepared baking trays, keeping them about 4cm (1.5-2in) apart.


5. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cookies have a crusty surface and have cracked. Cool completely before serving.


As with the lemon macaroons these cookies will continue to cook when you take them out of the oven so make sure you don’t overbake them – mine were a little crispier around the edges than I would have liked. The recipe says to wait for the cookies to cool before eating them but I have to confess that I didn’t have enough willpower – they are delicious slightly warm!

If any of you have done or are planning to do any baking challenges I would love to know! Stay tuned for more GBBO inspired challenges – February is cake week and I am attempting a naked layer cake!

Happy Baking!

Katherine xx

How to make sugar-paste / fondant icing

I’m not a fan of sugarpaste (also known as fondant icing) so on the rare occasions when I do use it I have to confess that I usually just pop to Tesco and buy a packet, but ever since I saw Nadiya make her own sugarpaste from marshmallows on The Great British Bake Off I have been dying to try it out.

Nadiya referred to her marshmallow method as the “cheat’s” method and so I did a bit of research online to find out what the different methods were. Of course there are loads of different methods but I narrowed it down to two – the “cheat’s” method with the marshmallows and a slightly more complex method using glucose, glycerin and gelatine. I think that this method would be considered to be the more traditional method.

I decided to make a batch of each and compare them for texture and taste (well, my husband did the taste-testing!). Here’s how I got on:

Traditional Method

I used a recipe from Lindy’s cakes for the traditional sugarpaste recipe.

When I first saw the list of ingredients I was a bit intimidated and wondered if I would even be able to get hold of all of them. To my surprise I was able to get the gelatine and glucose in Tesco. I found the glycerin in Dinghams, a local cook shop in Winchester.


I decided to half the recipe as I was making two different types and this was easily done. I found that halving the recipe gave me about 600g of sugarpaste. You need between 600-700g to cover an 8 inch cake.

Step 1 of the recipe says to mix the water and gelatine until “spongy”. I would describe the texture like runny jam.

When mixing the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, don’t panic if it seems like there won’t be enough liquid- there will be trust me! This is what mine looked like after all of the liquid was first added:


Just keep stirring until it starts to come together and then finish it off with your hands (kind of like when making shortcrust pastry). I added a tiny bit of water to mine just to bring the final bits together.


Then tip it onto a surface well-dusted with icing sugar and keep kneading until it becomes firm but pliable. And there you have it, homemade sugarpaste!


The texture was perfect for covering a cake or modelling. My husband said that it was tasty but perhaps tasted slightly more like royal icing than the shop bought icing he is used to.

Marshmallow Method

This recipe is a Nigella recipe so I knew it would be easy but with good results.

The recipe calls for “shortening”. I did not know what this meant and so I had a quick look online (where would we be without Google?!) and found out that shortening is just a type of solid fat made from vegetable oils. It is called shortening because it shortens the gluten strands in wheat by adding fat. There is a good explanation of shortening at I used Trex which is available in the butter aisle in most supermarkets.

Again, I halved this recipe and it made around 500g of sugarpaste in the end.

Make sure you watch your marshmallows carefully whilst you are melting them as they do melt quickly. I found that after the second burst of 30 seconds they were pretty much there and a quick stir made sure everything was melted.


A quick word of warning here – I bought a bag of mixed pink and white marshmallows without thinking and so ended up with pink fondant! I kneaded colour into mine when it was done so it was fine but do make sure, if you want white fondant you get white marshmallows!! Tee hee…

Another word of warning – I didn’t make my well deep enough in my icing sugar and the melted marshmallows started to escape! I managed to contain it by scooping it up ad quickly mixing it in to the icing sugar but I’m sure Nigella’s way is easier!!

When I had finished mixing in the icing sugar as stated in the recipe if found that the texture was still far too marshmallowy to roll out properly or model with. I found that the trick was to keep kneading in more icing sugar to make it firmer, however I would say that the texture still wasn’t quite as good as the traditional method.


My husband again liked the taste of this batch and said he thought it was probably more like the shop bought flavour but perhaps a bit sweeter.

Overall, both methods worked well. I think I preferred the overall texture better of the traditional method but the marshmallow method is definitely a good compromise as it uses store cupboard ingredients.

Once my sugarpaste was done I had fun creating these little cuties:


I hope to have a play around making some flowers soon and will upload pictures for you all to see!

Happy Baking!

Katherine xx