Gingerbread House 2016 edition

As always, Christmas Eve is made up of me and mine making gingerbread houses. See my previous Christmas posts for recipes (although there are very many fabulous ones online). This year we also made two miniature houses for gifts as well as a gingerbread star tree. I have to say Christmas Eve is truly my favourite day during the festive period. Have a wonderful time, love and sparkles xx

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Enjoy,

Love L x

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A crochet Christmas

IMG_2460Yes, I know it’s February, but the following blankets were made as gifts for Christmas hence the title! 🙂 In fact one of these has only just been given as it was completed in January 🙂

I made these over a seven month period which sounds horrendous, however,  there is nothing I love more these days than whiling away a couple of hours in the evening with my crochet hook and some gorgeous yarn. Downside for the other half is I like the big light on to crochet which kind of kills the mood for him (especially if he is watching one of his grey swedish killing type programmes). However, he is also partial to watching Wheeler Dealers or Car SOS or similar. No mood setting needed for those 🙂 Result, happy couple 🙂

Emma's patchwork blanket

Three of these blanket patterns came from the blanket supplement found on Simply Crochet magazine issue no 33. Check out their website for details. The sampler blanket was initially inspired by this one. In fact my first few rows were following the pattern properly but then encouraged by this lovely blog I had my first go at making it up as I go along. Really happy with the result 🙂

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What I really loved about the patchwork style blankets was the conveyor belt style of crocheting I was able to do. Once I had mastered round 1, 2 or more, all I had to do was simply do another 20, 45 or in one case 104!!!! Something so very pleasing about small piles of crocheted squares or rounds that are then for the most part put together using the join as you go method. Love this way of putting a blanket together. Once you have all your bits you simply spend an afternoon or two arranging them how you want them and then a blanket will appear seemingly very very speedily. Happy Days.

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Anyway, hope you like these as much as I did.

Sampler Blanket

Sampler Blanket

 

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Enjoy,

Lx

Christmas Gingerbread 2015

IMG_2424Usually on Xmas eve (in fact every xmas eve that I can remember) we have made a Gingerbread house. This year has already looked a little different as we moved house in February, then the oldest children moved out as well. The youngest is already into her second year at Uni so things have been a little less xmassy in general 😦

So with that in mind, this year we decided that as all the children would be with us from xmas eve, we would start a new tradition of decorating the tree with homemade items as well as the gingerbread house. Well needless to say the gingerbread house is still in it’s component parts awaiting icing as well as numerous sweeties. We may finish it tomorrow, we may eat it!

Anyway, for your xmas pleasure, here are the pictures of our fabulous tree, resplendent in popcorn and cranberry tinsel, gingerbread peeps and hearts, red red ribbons, pompoms and a crochet unicow 🙂

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Merry Christmas,

Enjoy,

Lx

Christmas 2014 Gingerbread Village

Gingerbread and UnicornWell as ever,me and mine planned to build a gingerbread house for Christmas. Apologies as ever for the lateness of this post, I decided to be poorly for most of the festive season 😦

This year though after trawling through the internet I found some templates for miniature houses and decided that we would make a gingerbread village. Normally it would just be me and the offspring doing this but this year we had help from wonderful friends, Annabel, Claire and Cat. We had a wonderful morning and as you can see it was very serious work!

Serious concentration - promise everyone had fun

Serious concentration – promise, everyone had fun!

My daughter and I purchased a range of sweeties including jelly tots which seem to prove harder and harder to get hold of each year and then I spent the day before Christmas eve making the gingerbread bits. The templates I used came from Miniature Gingerbread House Template 1 and mini mini gingerbread house template 2 . You can of course google away as I did, there are plenty online.

A dusting of icing sugar

A dusting of icing sugar

I used the same recipe that is featured in my original Gingerbread House article but the BBC good food one is also pretty good (you can find that one on the first template link.

Very, very pleased with the end result just don’t know what we are going to do next year to top it 🙂

Gingerbread Village 2014Enjoy,

Lx

 

Really easy straightforward recipe for a Christmas Yule Log

IMG_9462I found myself watching the Bake Off Christmas Masterclass the other day with my daughter. We spent a perfect hour together with tea, cake and Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. Bliss 🙂

Mary Berry, with her effortless style walks us through a chocolate yule log. The yule log has a chocolate ganache topping, and after our first attempt at making this we decided that, although yummy ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/yule_log_15656) it was very,very rich. We thought a chocolate buttercream would make for a lighter alternative. The downside is that it is indeed lighter in colour so visually not as log like!

Anyway, this is a really easy recipe that has worked every time we have made it. Next time I may add some black cherries to the cream filling for an added yumminess.

Ingredients:

  • 65g self raising flour
  • 40g cocoa
  • 4 large eggs
  • 100g caster sugar

Filling:

  • 250 ml/300 ml double cream. Mary Berry uses 300 ml. When I made this earlier I had only 250ml left in the carton. This worked fine and I suspect 200 ml would also be enough.

Chocolate Buttercream:

  • 250g unsalted butter.
  • 100g chocolate of your choice. I used milk chocolate for this one but whatever your family likes works here. Melt this before you add it to your icing.
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste.
  • around 100g icing sugar, although I tend to add this bit by bit and then taste.
  • a little hot water.

Method:

  • Line a 33cm x 23cm swiss roll tin with baking paper. Butter it first, it helps the baking paper stick in all the right places. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk your eggs and sugar together until they have become thick and creamy. It will more than double in size too. The only way to really do this is with an electric hand mixer or a food mixer. I wouldn’t even attempt this by hand, you’ll be there all day!
  • Then sift in your flour and cocoa to the egg mixture. Fold this in gently, a metal spoon does this best. Once the mixture is an even colour (nice and chocolatey) you’ll have done it right.
  • Pour your mixture gently into your prepared tin and gently push it to the sides. If you are too rough you will knock your precious air out that you spent whisking in earlier.
  • Place in the centre of the oven and bake for around 8 minutes. The edges will start to come away from the sides of the tin and the cake will have a bounce to it when lightly pressed with your finger.
  • While your cake is baking prepare your work surface with a sheet of baking parchment that is roughly one and a half times the length of your swiss roll tin. Sprinkle this generously with icing sugar. You will be turning out your hot cake straight onto this when it is baked.
  • Peel off the baking parchment. Asbestos fingers help here! Then cut a groove about 2 centimetres from the end of your cake and then using the baking parchment roll up your swiss roll tightly and then leave to cool completely.
  • Once your log has cooled you can prepare the filling and topping.
  • Whisk the cream until it is thick and spreadable.
  • Unroll your swiss roll gently and then spread the inside with your cream. Re roll your log using baking paper again to help you.
  • Place log onto whatever you intend to serve it on.
  • Cut a section of log on the diagonal, and then place it alongside the body of the log to look like a branch. Apologies if this is phrased badly. Hope the picture helps with this.
  • For the topping, in a bowl whisk using an electric mixer, your butter until it is creamy and pale. Add icing sugar, vanilla paste and melted chocolate. Whisk together till creamy, adding a dash of hot water to this makes the mixture light and creamy. Go easy though, only a dash. Too much and your mixture will split 😦
  • You can either pipe on your chocolate icing or spread it on. I used a piping bag with a star nozzle to create the illusion “haha” of a log. However I have made this before and just used a pallet knife to cover the cake with icing and added grooves with it to give it a log effect! Whatever rocks your world. In fact if you have a small child handy, I would let them do it and then get them to find a robin (fake not real!) to perch on the top. I cannot find our robin so settled for a dusting of cocoa and edible glitter.

I do hope you enjoy making this and I promise it is much simpler and more straightforward than the instructions suggest!

Yule Log

 

Enjoy,

 

Lx

 

Gingerbread house 2013!! love my fabulous kids :)

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Enjoy,

Love Lx

Photos by my son’s girlfriend, the amazing photographer Jas Poole  http://www.jasminepoole.co.uk/ check out her site. Smazing 🙂

P.S Do please note the gingerbread Tardis in front of the house and sporting it’s very own light 🙂

Christmas Gingerbread House Countdown :)

Beginning to add detailEvery year on Christmas Eve ( well every year for about the last decade) we have made a gingerbread house, watched a cheesy xmas movie and eaten yummy treats. This year we want to change it up a little. My son’s girlfriend suggested that we make a TARDIS. “OK”, can do that methinks, it is after all a box and as long as she doesn’t want it bigger on the inside I think we will be fine.

What I would like to do though is something a bit more adventurous in gingerbread architecture. I was thinking that a hobbit type house might be cool or perhaps go for it and maybe do a gingerbread Guggenheim Museum. We could do our house in gingerbread, actually really like that idea. Decisions, decisions. Will add to this post once I have settled on an idea 🙂

Meanwhile, here are the pictures from last years effort 🙂

Enjoy,

Lx

Finished result

Gingerbread House – Awesome 2012 edition

Have had a truly wonderful Christmas Eve. As always I made a gingerbread house and decorated it with the help of the offspring. This year we had the added help of the firstborn’s girlfriend, Jas Poole. who is an excellent photographer as well as being creative with a jelly tot! (check out her website here  http://www.jasminepoole.co.uk/)

I hope you feel inspired to have a go, I really can’t think of a nicer way to spend the day.

Enjoy Lx
Unadorned Gingerbread House

Beginning to add detail
Finished result

Vanilla fudge – scrummy

Have decided to make fudge this afternoon, mainly as a thank you to our lovely neighbours. I suspect I may have to make another batch or two to take to work and leave for the offspring.

The recipe that I have used and not messed with at all, as it is pretty perfect is from the River Cottage Every Day book ( buy it, tis awesome and splendiferous )

Right first things first, you do need one item of specialist equipment. Panic not, it’s easy to find and use. Sugar Thermometer – essential and can be bought from a good kitchen type shop, not too expensive. I got mine from my local fabulous kitcheny type shopomobob . Love the shop, it is filled to the rafters with all the things I need and many I do not!! Plus if you ever need help the ladies who work there are super knowledgable and helpful. The other useful item will be an electric hand whisk, not essential but the end bit of the method will be a bit laborious without one (although could be considered a mini cardio workout if necessary!!)

Ingredients:

  • 300g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • 100g unsalted butter cut up into chunks
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Method:

  • According to the river cottage book you need to lightly oil a 15 x 22 cm baking dish. I forgot to oil my dish once and the fudge stil lifted out beautifully once it was chilled. Patience here is the key, if you try and lift it to soon it won’t come out neatly.
  • In a heavy base pan put your cream, sugar, syrup and butter. Make sure that these ingredients only go a third of the way up the pan as once this mixture is boiling it will bubble up a fair bit. Heat these ingredients together stirring all the time over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved and the butter melted.
  • STOP stirring and place your sugar thermometer into your pan. Crank up the heat and watch closely. Once your thermometer hits 116 degrees C, take it off the heat and leave alone for 10 minutes.
  • Ok, now you will need an electric whisk for this bit. The mixture needs to be whisked until the fudge becomes thick and slightly grainy. This can take up to 10 minutes but so far every time I have done this it has taken only a couple of minutes.
  • Pour your fudge mix into your prepared dish, spread it evenly and then place in a fridge for a good 3 hours to firm up. When the fudge is still on the warm side you can mark out your squares to be cut up later but it is fairly easy to chop so worry not if you forget.
  • Once your squares are cut up, pop them into an air tight container and keep them in the fridge. Try not to eat them all on the first day, you will feel sick. Best to share them 🙂

Enjoy

Lx

P.S Although this recipe is fine and dandy and needs no messing. I did in fact mess with it a bit as my available ingredients were not quite as prescribed, so I replaced part of the sugar with fruit sugar and replaced the vanilla extract with vanilla bean paste. I think the vanilla bean paste definitely adds a certain something something. I am looking forward to making a rum and raisin version. Lx