Friday, 30 October 2009

Breadstick Bones

I surfed a lot for ideas for Halloween food, and somewhere came across a picture of breadstick bones.  I think it was an american site and they used a pack of Pilsbury breadstick dough to make them with.  Well, that simply wasn't good enough, was it?  No!  So I surfed until I found a nice looking breadstick recipe on  I followed the instructions pretty much, though I skipped the middle proofing as it seemed a bit excessive to have 3 proofings!  To actually make the bones, I rolled each piece of dough (recipe divided into 32) into a string about 8" long, then tied a knot in both ends to achieve the boney shape.

It was only when I was almost finished that I realised I'd missed an opportunity to make some skull shaped ones as well, and stick olives in for eyes and mouth.  Oh year!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Haunted Gingerbread House

Last year at Yule we made a gingerbread house, and whilst we were looking on the internet for inspiration I came across some really cool looking haunted gingerbread houses that people had made for Halloween.  So I was determined that in 2009 we would have one of these too.  So here we are, a week prior to our party, and I was ready to make it.  I found the excellent recipe and instructions we'd used to make the house last year (fantastic for first timers!  Although note that this makes enough dough for two houses in my experience.) and then went looking for some sites/blogs or hopefully templates to make our own.  But alas, other than this incredible house, I couldn't find anything that I liked.  Most of the haunted houses turned out to be from a kit (boo!) and in any case didn't quite look like what I wanted.  So I decided to be very brave and make my own.

I started out with a sketch of the house as I wanted it, then made templates so I could do check my measurements.  It looks pretty good I thought, so I went ahead and baked the gingerbread.  The baking part went smoothly (other than losing the corner to one piece) and I soon had some royal icing made and ready to put it all together.  Which is where it went awry!  I hadn't even thought what effect the food colouring would have on the icing, but I can now pass on the lesson that you cannot colour royal icing with regular food colouring.  Apparently you need special gel or paste colours instead.  If you add regular food colouring to the icing it just goes horrendously runny.  I made a second batch of icing, didn't colour it and voila, the house was put together.  Phew!

Day two was decorating day, out came the bags of Halloween sweets and the many packs of writing and coloured icing that we have in the cupboard.  We decorate a few apricots up as Jack-o-Lanterns, propped chocolate skeletons up by past cauldrons and generally had a grand old time decorating the house.  It was a family affair, with my (almost) 3 year old contributing as well as my SO and myself.  Fun!  The jars I'd used to prop up the walls had left some marks on the board, and this encouraged our creativity to find more ideas to put on the board and cover them up.  My personal favourites are the eyes in the cauldron, and the witches legs sticking out from under the house a la Wizard of Oz that my SO made.

The white royal icing was painted over with food colouring to blend it in with the halloween theme, and the imperfections really don't matter on a haunted house in the same way that they do with a Yule one.  We've got a great centerpiece for our Halloween Party food next weekend (so more blogging to come as we create those!)

Monday, 12 October 2009


My little boy, almost 3 years old, was watching CBeebies today when the new program 'I can cook' came on.  It's a good idea for a show, with a presenter and some kids making something to eat together; todays recipe was Easy Peasy Pizza (all the recipes from the series can be found here)  I quite fancied a pizza for lunch myself, so told my son he could make his own lunch which he was very excited about.  He loves to cook, and we quite often make cakes together on rainy days.

But if he was making his own pizza, what were his Dad and I going to eat?  Pizza seemed a sensible idea so we could share some of the prep, so to begin with I made a batch of gluten free flat bread, not quite as cooked as I would normally make it if I were eating it by itself.  I mixed up some pizza sauce with tomato puree, garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar diluted with water to the right consistency and spread that over the bread.  Then I added my toppings (today we had courgettes and red peppers) and finished with cheese.

Both pizzas went in the oven together and cooked for 10-15 minutes before we had a feast before our very eyes!

Now I think that looks pretty tasty considering it was made by an (almost) 3 year old!

I can testify that the adult version was really good though :)

Saturday, 10 October 2009

More cupcakes

I will, I promise, post about something other than naturally gluten free cupcakes soon.  It's just been the kind of week where comfort food was needed and boy do these cakes fit the bill.  Warm from the oven they are delightfully marzipan-ny and even cold (and the next day, they've never lasted longer than that!) they are a joy to the mouth.  For those of you who don't have to forgo wheat you probably won't understand me waxing lyrical about cakes you can eat the next day any more than you would have understood my rapture about the flat bread recipe, but believe me; the GF cakes that you can buy in the shops are dry and flavourless, often over sweet to compensate and don't last so to be able to home bake something so wonderful is a real treat.

Today I experimented with putting chocolate chips in, but the thin batter won't support them (I had tried with cherries a few days ago which wasn't a success either!) so I think these are going to be the kind of cake you flavour (or perhaps fill) rather than add things to.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Cupcakes take 2

To make 6 muffin case size cakes:

4 ounces of soft cheese
4 ounces of caster sugar
4 ounces of ground almonds
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

Cream the cheese and sugar together, then add eggs, almonds and baking powder and mix to a smooth batter.  Pour into cases and bake at Gas Mark 3 for 20-25 minutes.

These were far better in texture than the previous attempt, not greasy at all but deliciously moist.  What's more they were even better the next day, whereas making GF cupcakes with GF flour I've found they need to be eaten the day they're made (not just an excuse for gluttony, honest!)  I'm sure they can be improved on though, any suggestions?