A Bake in the Life: Gingerbread Traybake

This gingerbread traybake is definitely a childhood favourite of mine! My mum would bake it a lot especially around autumn and winter time, so the smell of it baking always reminds me of Christmas. Another one of my favourite gingerbread recipes is for Gingerbread Muffins, however the consistency of the batter is much thinner resulting in a lighter more syrupy muffin. In comparison, this recipe is more of a traditional gingerbread, dark brown, treacly and spotted with pieces of crystallised ginger which works well with sweet icing drizzled on top – delicious and very moreish! 🙂

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Gingerbread Traybake

You will need:

For the cake

10 oz/275g Golden Syrup

10 oz/275g Black Treacle

8 oz/225g Light Brown Sugar

8 oz/225g Butter/Margarine

1 lb/450g Self Raising Flour

2 tsp Mixed Spice

2 tsp Ground Ginger

2 oz/50g Crystallised Ginger Pieces

4 Eggs

1 tbsps Milk

For the icing

8 oz/225g Icing Sugar

2 tbsps Water

2 oz/50g Crystallised Ginger Pieces to decorate

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Let’s get started!

  • Preheat your oven to 160ºC/Gas Mark 3/325ºF. Grease and line a 12 x 9 in (30 x 23 cm) roasting tin with grease proof/ baking paper (This recipe does make quite a large traybake, so if you want to make a smaller cake I would half the recipe to start with and see how much batter it takes to fill your desired tin).
  • Measure the syrup, treacle, sugar and butter/margarine into a large saucepan and heat gently until melted together (Be sure to heat the ingredients slowly, or allow to cool once melted to prevent a lumpy batter).

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  • Sift together the flour and spices into a large mixing bowl, pour the cooled wet mixture into the bowl and add the crystallised ginger pieces.

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  • Beat together the eggs and milk in a mixing jug before combining with the batter and beating until smooth and lump free (I decided to use an electric hand mixer to ensure a very smooth batter).
  • Pour into the prepared tin and bake in your pre heated oven for 45-50 minutes until well risen and a skewer comes out clean from the centre of the traybake.

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  • Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out and continuing to cool on a wire rack.
  • Prepare the icing by shifting the icing sugar into a bowl and adding water a tbsp at a time until smooth but not so runny that it just runs off the edge of the cake.

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  • Once the traybake is cool spoon the icing over the top, sprinkle with crystallised ginger pieces to decorate and leave to set.
  • You are all done 🙂

I love this gingerbread so much I could eat the whole traybake! The combination of treacle, mixed spice and ground ginger baking in the oven always smells amazing. The final gingerbread is dark brown in colour, sticky on top and has a delicious spiced flavour that tastes good with vanilla ice cream 🙂 You can of course leave it plain, but I decided to top the traybake with plain icing sprinkled with crystallised ginger pieces which I think looks great and gives an extra sweet ginger flavour. Try not to be too put off by the rather excessive amounts of golden syrup and treacle in this recipe, it really is worth it for the amazing taste of this gingerbread – definitely try it out!

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A Bake in the Life…

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A Bake in the Life: Pecan Pie

For me there is nothing better than making someone happy with baking, so whenever I am asked I love to take requests! Often these requests end up being recipes I have wanted to try for some time but haven’t had the chance, therefore it’s great to finally to have a reason. This pecan pie was a request from friends in my lab at university and as it involved making my own shortcrust pastry (which I have become slightly crazy about…) I was happy to oblige!

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Pecan Pie

You will need:

For the shortcrust pastry

6 oz/175g Plain Flour

2½ oz/75g Chilled Butter

2 tbsp Cold Water

For the filling

50g Caster Sugar

85g Golden Syrup

85g Maple Syrup

2 Beaten Eggs

Pinch of Salt

½ tsp Vanilla Flavouring/Extract

150g Roughly Chopped Pecans

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Let’s get started!

  • To make the pastry, combine the flour and butter using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 2 tbsp of cold water and begin to pull the mixture together into a ball, if needed add the final tbsp to form a soft dough.

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  • Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface large enough to line a 20cm/8in flan tin. Press the pastry gently into the tin ensuring it lays smoothly against the fluted sides.

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  • Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6.
  • Once chilled, line the pastry case with foil and fill with baking beans (If you don’t have any you can always use rice, beans or pulses – as long as they are dry and heavy enough to prevent the pastry from puffing up!). Blind bake for 15 minutes, then remove the beans/foil and continue to bake for 5 minute to dry out the centre of the base.

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  • While the pastry case is cooking, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add both the syrups and continue to beat together until combined.

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  • Gradually add the beaten eggs, salt and vanilla whisking until smooth.
  • Stir in the roughly chopped pecans and set aside.

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  • Once the pastry case is baked dry pour the filling into the case and bake for 10 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6.

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  • Turn the oven down to 160ºC/325ºF/Gas Mark 3 and continue to bake the pecan pie for around 20-30 minutes until golden brown with a slight wobble in the centre.
  • Leave to cool in the tin, then remove onto a serving plate.
  • You are all done! 🙂

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I am really pleased with how this pie turned out, especially as I have never made one before! I decided to use my favourite tried and tested shortcrust pastry recipe and adapt a BBC good food New England pecan pie recipe I found online. In order to fit my 20cm fluted flan tin I halved the ingredients and rather than using pecan halves I decided to coarsely chop them instead. The combination of sweet golden syrup and maple syrup with crunchy pecans is delicious! Definitely try a slice warm with vanilla ice cream 🙂

A Bake in the Life…

A Bake in the Life: Chocolate Tiffin

When I first became interested in blogging one of my main influences was a blog that one of my close friends from university started, called Newbie Science. As well as writing posts based around the world of undergraduate science and now postgraduate science journalism, Sarah also writes about her experiences of student life (Including some very delicious recipes that I have first hand experience taste testing!).

A major part of being a student is learning how to manage your finances and of course learning to save money wherever you can. As much as I love baking, sometimes it can be really expensive, especially for some of the more adventurous recipes. So myself and Sarah decided to work together to make something tasty without spending your entire student loan in one go! One recipe that is very money friendly and that is an old favourite with both of us is fridge chilled tiffin. All the ingredients are easy to find and can be changed based on what you can find, everything is also really inexpensive which is always brilliant!

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Chocolate Tiffin

½oz/10g Caster Sugar

4oz/110g Butter

4 tbsp Golden Syrup

2 tbsp Cocoa Powder

3½oz/100g Milk Chocolate

9oz/250g Digestive Biscuits

4oz/110g Glacé Cherries, Raisins, Marshmallows, Walnuts, Malted chocolate balls (Any combination of fillings you like really!)

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Let’s get started!

  • Put the biscuits into a sandwich bag and bash into varied size crumbs/bits.

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  • Add the cherries/raisins/marshmallows/walnuts/malted chocolate balls.

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  • Melt the butter, sugar, syrup, chocolate and cocoa powder in a saucepan over a low heat.

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  • Pour over the biscuit mixture and stir until combined.

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  • Tip into a lined tin and flatten down evenly (We used a loaf style tin and lined it with cling film to make it easy to remove when chilled).
  • Set in the fridge until solid (You may want to cut into slices/bars before it is too well set and this can be difficult if rock solid).

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  • If you want to you can sieve icing sugar over the slices/bars for decoration.
  • You are all done! 🙂

I really love this tiffin as not only is it easy to make but it tastes delicious. The recipe is completely variable, so you can use whatever you have – We chose to use glacé cherries, marshmallows and malted chocolate balls as that’s what I had in my cupboard. If you prefer a more biscuity tiffin you can add more digestives, or alternatively if you prefer a more chocolately tiffin you can add more milk chocolate. If you haven’t made tiffin before you definitely need to give it ago! 🙂

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A Bake in the Life…

A Bake in the Life: Pancakes

I love pancakes. I always have a problem making them the full size of the frying pan, so I usually end up with smaller ‘drop scone‘ type pancakes. Which is fine by me as I like a big stack sprinkled with sugar and dripping with golden syrup (Okay now I really want to go make some more…). Regular large pancakes can be harder to make, so these ‘drop scone’ type pancakes are great practice if like me you struggle with the larger. Adding extra milk can also help, especially when pouring batter into the frying pan, as it makes the batter thinner which allows you to get the batter to cover the pan completely.

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Pancakes

You will need:

8oz/227g Self Raising Flour

Pinch of Salt

1 tbsp Sugar

½ pint of Milk (You can use ¾ for larger/thinner pancakes that are more like crepes)

2 eggs

Butter/Oil for frying

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I can usually get around 20 ‘drop scones’ out of 1 batch, so if you can’t eat that many at once you can always store them in the fridge until later! Either eat them cold or warm up in the microwave for around 30 seconds.

Let’s get started!

  • Combine flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
  • Beat together eggs and milk in a jug. Gradually add this to the flour/salt/sugar mixture and beat until smooth.

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  • I then like to pour this mixture back into the jug, as it allows easy pouring of the mix into the frying pan.

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  • Heat the butter/oil in a non stick frying pan.
  • Pour small circles of mixture in the frying pan for ‘drop scones’, or one large circle by moving the pan to spread out the mixture out for one large pancake.

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  • Leave alone until air bubbles appear and solidify on the surface of the pancakes, then flip over and fry until brown.

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  • You are all done! 🙂

A Bake in the Life…