magic mince pies

December 10, 2009

So…mince pies. I’m still pushing flamingo biscuits as THE festive foodstuff of 2009, but for those of you who prefer something more traditional, I have sought out a heavenly recipe. It comes to me courtesy of a very good friend, who gave the original author, Josceline Dimbleby, the following glowing recommendation when she passed it on to me:

“She was the unsung heroine of my childhood was Josceline. She managed to persuade my mother to be an adventurous cook and her reassuring words gently coaxed and held my mother’s hands as she took tentative steps into new culinary domains. Almost everything I remember liking as a child came from one of the books she wrote, mainlyΒ for Sainsbury’s, including her Christmas Book from which these mince pies are taken. My copy of the book, which I stole from my mother years ago, is a faithful festive friend.”

The Josceline Dimbleby Christmas Book is now sadly out of print, however a quick search on amazon.co.uk at the time of writing unearthed a few secondhand copies. I imagine these will be snapped up quickly though, especially at this time of year.

There are two secrets that make these pies particularly special. Firstly, CLICK TO KEEP READING…>


festive flamingos

December 6, 2009

Forget Christmas biscuits in the shapes of snowflakes, angels or stars. Enough already with the reindeer, jingle bells and holly. Candy canes and pine trees? Totally over. This year the festive period is all about flamingo-shaped biscuits. Oh yes.

While I was in Paris I picked up the cutest free magazine,Β le Bonbon, and made the serendipitous discovery of a recipe for Ginger Disco Biscuits. (No, there are no ecstasy pills here; this is much more fun than that.) Surely these were heaven-sent as the perfect vehicle for some edible glitter? And what could be better for CLICK TO KEEP READING…>


swags and frills

December 1, 2009

I know you’re on the edges of your seats waiting for my next Christmas cake update. I can sense it. It’s been a full 24 hours since the last one. Here she is then, looking not too shabby, adorned with swags and frills (well one swag so far, with three more still to do).

This is a much more traditional design than I would usually go for, but we had to master the skills for my cake class so I thought I should use them. I haven’t decided yet what to put on the top of the cake. All suggestions welcome.


plum pudding

December 1, 2009

One of my favourite things to do when I’m in need of a break from the frenetic pace of everyday life is to sit and leaf through our family’s recipe inheritance. It is a guaranteed source of inspiration and helps me to feel a connection to the past. The knowledge that CLICK TO KEEP READING…>


cake update: marzipan Monday

November 30, 2009

This is my round Christmas cake with its layer of marzipan. It’s getting there. I opted for mass-produced marzipan rather than making my own in the end <hangs head in shame>, although I did go for a premium brand so it has quite a high almond content – 36% instead of the typical 25%. By tomorrow the cake will be ready for icing – the marzipan needs to dry first, which takes at least 24 hours. In the left-hand photo you can see CLICK TO KEEP READING…>


christmas is coming…and recipe swapshop

November 26, 2009

they got a little bedraggled when I walked home from class in the rain...

I started making my Christmas cake this evening. I’ve been going to a cake decorating evening class since September; this week we made reindeer cake toppers out of sugarpaste and for the next few weeks we’ll be working on ‘swags and frills’ (yikes) and modelling winter flowers. I decided that instead of working on a polystyrene dummy I would make my own fruit cake – cue a frantic search for the perfect recipe.

For the past couple of years I have been following a very special Christmas cake recipe given to me by CLICK TO KEEP READING…>