Christmas gift ideas for enthusiastic bakers

So you have a baker in your life but you’re not sure what to buy them. Or you are a baker and your other half keeps asking what you’d like. Our Christmas gift list is here to help. I’ve put together two gift lists, one for an enthusiastic baker who is still learning, and one for a very skilled baker. This week we’re looking at gifts for the enthusiastic baker.

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1. Gift box of macarons, Agnes de Sucre £37. Macarons are the height of baking fashion. Delicate and elegant, anyone wishing to make macarons at home needs to taste really good ones first, and these are really good.

2. Cooling racks, Lakeland, £19.99. These cooling racks are great for those that bake a lot. They are robust and easy to stack but fold flat for storage. We have these in our own kitchen!

3. Beginners flower making kit, Squires Kitchen, £46.50. This is a great starter kit for anyone who wants to start making flowers for decorating cakes. The cutters even include step by step instructions to get you started.

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4. Tea and cake tea towel, Little Mashers from Not on the high street, £7.50. A cute tea towel – perfect as a stocking filler or a secret santa gift.

5. spatula, Joseph Joseph, £9.50. This is the most used utensil in our kitchen. It’s comfortable to hold, and stiff enough that you can beat a mixture with it, but flexible enough to scrape out a bowl. I use this for everything! It also has a handy little ‘foot’ to keep the sticky end off your worktop.

6. cake stand, John Lewis, £25. Everything looks better on a cake stand, and this is a lovely one. Robust but beautiful, it’s a classic, time less cake stand that your beloved baker will be able to use for years.

7. Tetris cookie cutters, Firebox, £6.99. I love these! There are so many cookie cutters out there that are fun and interesting, but if you want to start learning to ice biscuits, these simple yet fun shapes are a great place to start.

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8. Boutique Baking, Peggy Porschen, £20.00. A great recipe book, with clear images and easy to follow instructions. The recipes cover quite simple bakes to the more complicated, including fantastic instructions on how to decorate. The bakes in this book are modern and interesting.

9. Mich Turner’s Cake Masterclass, Amazon, £17.00. Modern, stylish and clear, this book takes you through a range of cake making and decorating techniques. Perfect for those who bake but would like their finished product to be a little prettier!

10. tilting turntable, Cakes of Good Taste, £30.95. We also have this turntable in our kitchen and a good tilting turntable makes so many things so much easier!

11. Kissing squirrels tea towel, John Lewis £14.00. A very cute pair of tea towels.

Recipe: Gluten and dairy free lemon and lavender cupcakes

For the second year in a row, we were finalists in the National cupcake competition. The competition has 4 categories and this year we chose to enter three of them. Although we were only shortlisted for one category, I thought I’d still share our other entries. Our lemon and lavender cupcakes were entered into the free-from category and, before we entered, we taste tested them with a group of people. They were all very surprised when I told them that the cakes are gluten and dairy free – this is a moist, delicious, light cake.

Having said that, if you would like to make the cake with standard flour and butter you are more than welcome to!
Free from gluten and dairy lemon and lavender cupcakes 1

Lemon and lavender cupcakes free from gluten and dairy

Makes 12

Ingredients

For the cake:
175g Doves farm Gluten-free self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
175g soya margarine at room temperature
175g lavender infused caster sugar*
3 free range eggs
1 large organic unwaxed lemon (zest and juice)

For the dairy free lemon curd:
50g soya margarine
100g caster sugar
2 free range eggs
2 large organic unwaxed lemons

For the frosting:
500g lavender infused icing sugar**
150g soya margarine
100g Dairy free lemon curd
Extra lavender flowers and lemon zest for decoration

*to prepare lavender infused sugar place 175g caster sugar in a food bag with 1 tbsp of foodsafe lavender. Mix together and leave for a week, moving around occasionally. Sieve to remove the flower heads before using.

**To prepare lavender infused icing sugar, place 500g of icing sugar in a food bag with 2 tbsp of food safe lavender. Mix together and leave for a week. When you are ready to use the icing sugar, blitz it on a food processer then sieve the icing sugar to remove the larger pieces of lavender flowers.

Method

For the lemon curd:
1. Wash the lemons, then grate the zest using a fine grater into a small heat proof bowl.
2. Add the sugar and soya margarine and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water to heat gently. Make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water.
3. Juice the lemons and add the juice to the bowl of other ingredients. Stir the mixture gently with a spatula or wooden spoon.
4. Whisk the eggs together. Once the soya margarine has melted, whisk the eggs into the mixture. Whisk for a few minutes until the ingredients are well combined.
5. Leave the lemon curd to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mixture is creamy and thick enough to cover the back of a spoon.
6. Remove the lemon curd from the heat and pour into sterilised jars. Place lids on the jars while they are still warm.
7. Lemon curd should be kept in the fridge.

For the cake:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake cases.
2. Place the flour, baking powder, soya margarine, lavender sugar (sieved), eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. With an electric hand mixer blend until smooth, light and fluffy.
3. Split the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake for 14-18 minutes.
4. Bake for 18-25 minutes, depending on your oven. The cupcakes are cooked when a skewer comes out clean. Cupcakes should be taken out as soon as the centre is cooked.
5. Allow the cupcakes to cool before frosting.

For the frosting:
1. Sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl, ensuring any lavender flowers are removed.
2. Add the soya margarine and lemon curd and mix well with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy.

To assemble:
1. With a small knife, remove an inch deep cone from the top of each cupcake, starting at least 1cm in from the edge of the cupcake.
2. Fill the hole with dairy free lemon curd.
3. Attach a star nozzle to a piping bag, then fill it with the frosting and pipe on to the cupcakes, starting at the outside edge and circling inwards to seal the lemon curd in place.
4. Sprinkle with lavender flowers and fresh lemon zest

If you would like to try this recipe, why not print our lemon and lavender cupcakes recipe card.

“Do you deliver?”

“Do you deliver?” is one of the questions we are asked most often. And yes, we do.

Oh, you want to know more? Well, ok then. We hand deliver standard orders around Watford, and to any point radiating out from Watford towards Wembley, Uxbridge, Beaconsfield, Amersham, Tring, Harpenden, Hatfield, Potters bar and Barnett. Delivery for standard orders is charged at 45p per mile, each way.

If you are placing a special order over £200, like a wedding cake, then we are happy to travel further, up to a 60 minute drive each way. Your delivery charge will be included in the total price of your cake.

Are you further away? Not to worry – some of our products can be posted. Our biscuit wedding favours or boxes of 6 cupcakes can all be sent through the post. We use royal mail next day delivery to ensure they get to you while they are really fresh. The delivery price will depend on what you buy as it is calculated based on weight but for a box of 6 cupcakes it’s usually around £7 and around £20 for a box of 100 wedding favours.

You also always have the option to collect from us (except for tiered cakes that need to be assembled on site) which is free of charge.

If you have any questions about our deliveries please contact us.

An Alice in Wonderland Birthday cake extravaganza!

Last week we made an Alice in Wonderland themed cake for a 21st Birthday, however, the brief was that it should be in line with the Tim Burton vision of Alice so rather than being bright, zingy primary colours it should be a little darker, grungier, with just a hint of the corpse bride about it. We used dark reds, blacks, and bottle greens, and made sure that our characters had a slightly sinister twist to them. The cake had 3 tiers, with each tier being a different flavour and theme, so the bottom tier was a chocolate cake with decorations from the Queen of Hearts section of the book, the middle tier was all about Alice falling down the rabbit hole and was made of lemon cake, and finally the top tier was a vanilla cake that reflected the mad hatters tea party and the Cheshire Cat.

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We also received a lovely testimonial from the Mum of the Birthday girl: Thank you SO much for the wonderful Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter’s tea party cake, for my daughter Carolyn’s 21st birthday party. It was without a doubt the star of the evening and delighted and amazed all the guests. Carolyn was so overwhelmed that she almost burst into tears. You totally understood the theme and Carolyn’s personality and that was apparent in the way you “built” and decorated the cake. I cannot recommend you strongly enough and would love you to post my thanks and comments on your website as a testimonial.