Christmas Bakewell Tart

For my second Christmas bake I give you a British classic with a festive twist!

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Buttery shortcrust pastry, beneath layers of cherry jam, frangipane and white icing. I decorated the Bakewell with a gorgeous Christmas wreath, made form sugar paste holly leaves, glacĂ© cherry ‘berries’ and a dusting of edible glitter for a bit of Christmas sparkle.

I do have a confession, the pastry is not homemade I’m afraid! It’s been a busy few weeks with Christmas shopping and starting my new job (exiting times!) and hey, what’s wrong with taking a shortcut every now and then 🙂 If you do fancy making your own, then check out my fool-proof recipe here, it’s super easy to follow and won’t take you hours to make 🙂

Ingredients (makes an 8inch tart)

1 sheet Jus-rol ready rolled shortcrust pastry (if you fancy making your own check out my super easy recipe here)
Cherry jam

For the frangipane:
150g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp plain flour
150g ground almonds

For the icing layer:
200g icing sugar
1-2 tbsps water

Decoration
Green sugar paste
Holly shaped cutter
glacé cherries
Edible glitter

Let’s get baking…

Lightly grease an 8inch fluted tart tin with a bit of butter.

Unroll your pastry sheet and lay it across the tart tin. Trim off any extra bits and use your fingers to press the dough into the corners and sides of the tin. Be mindful that the tart will shrink whilst in the oven, so you’ll want to leave a bit of height on the edge.

Put back in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes (this will help stop it from shrinking too much). Meanwhile preheat your oven to 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

Remove your tart from the fridge and prick the base all over with a fork. Line with baking paper and fill with baking beans or rice. Bake the tart blind for 10 minutes. Take your tart out of the oven and carefully lift out the baking paper and beans. Bake for a further 10 minutes until firm and golden. Remove and leave to cool. Using a knife trim the edge of the pastry to neaten I up.

Whilst the tart is cooling, make your frangipane by first creaming together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Crack in the egg, add the almond extract and add the tablespoon of flour (this will stop the mixture from curdling), mix until fully incorporated. Finally fold in the ground almonds.

Spread a layer of jam on the tart base. Top with the frangipane mixture, spreading it out into an even layer. Return to the oven for 25-30 minutes until the top has set and has turned golden brown. Remove and leave to cool.

Once the tart has completely cooled, mix the icing sugar with 1-2 tablespoons of water until you have a thick but pourable consistency. Pour the icing onto the tart and spread out into an even layer. Leave to set completely.

Time to decorate… 

Either top with a glacé cherry or if you want to decorate your tart with a Christmas wreath like mine then stay with me and follow the next steps:

This step can be done in advance – Roll out the sugar paste until it is roughly a pound coin in thickness. Cut out roughly 20-30 holly shapes. Leave to dry out and harden.

Using icing sugar mixed with a little water, stick the holly shapes on top of the tart in a circle. Add glacĂ© cherries to the wreath for the ‘berries’. Finally dust the tart with edible glitter to give it a Christmas sparkle!

Easter Dippy Eggs & Soldiers

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The arrival of bright yellow Daffodils, warmer air and adorable newborn lambs means Spring has definitely sprung. I just love this time of the year, even more so because of Easter weekend!

Easter for me is about bringing together the whole family to celebrate the beginning of a new season and it’s exciting future. Oh and did I forget to mention the food? It’s also about eating lots & lots (& lots) of good food and chocolate!

For this blog post I wanted to create a dessert that the whole family could enjoy after Sunday lunch. These little vanilla cheesecake-filled milk chocolate eggs have a punchy lemon curd yolk and a side of lemon shortbread soldiers. Now if these fail to impress the family then I don’t know what will.

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The recipe is very easy so please try not to be put off by the length of it. You start by making your shortbread soldiers by combining flour, butter and sugar, cutting it into fingers and baking it in the oven. Then you move onto the fun part… the eggs!
Remove the tops of the eggs with a knife, fill each one with cheesecake (dead easy recipe), add a blob of lemon curd, chill in the fridge and voilĂ  you have your show stopping Easter dessert. Click here to find the recipe of HomeStyle’s food blog – Enjoy 🙂

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Cupid Love Pies

Ah Valentines Day…Single or Taken?

Who cares! Everyone knows that February 14th is just an excuse to eat loads, so Ive created these adorable mini love pies for you to indulge in. Heart shaped homemade flaky pastry (fear not – its easy peasy!) filled with sweet sticky Cherry jam and sprinkled with sparkling sugar. Now doesnt that sound delicious?

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For my top five tips to achieving flaky, buttery pastry perfection head over to my post on Home Style Online by clicking here or to skip straight to the recipe by clicking here.

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Smore’s Brownie Pie

Not a cake fan?

Well I have a show stopping alternative, perfect for any celebration… A Smore’s Brownie Pie!

Crumbly biscuit base, topped with gooey marshmallow filled brownie mixture and finished with a drizzle of white chocolate.

If you’re fan of rich, indulgent and damn right naughty desserts then this is the bake for you. And fear not, it’s actually pretty easy to make. You can use shop bought biscuits for the base, just bash them up and add butter, and shop bought marshmallows because let’s be honest who has time to tackle that!? The brownie centre is of course my own tried and tested (and tried again!) recipe, but its a doddle I promise.
The key to this bake is all in the cooking time, you want to make sure the brownies are just done but that the top isn’t burnt in the process. So I’ve suggested checking after 20 mins and if this is the case, covering the pie with foil to protect the top, see the recipe below for more details.

Right, stop wasting time listening to my jibba jabba.. Happy Baking 🙂

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Couldn’t resist a snap of my gorgeous dog Alfie, he was so desperate for a slice but got a doggy biscuit instead 🙂

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Ingredients (makes a 8inch brownie pie)

For the base:
200g chocolate digestive biscuits
80g unsalted butter

For the brownie:
150g unsalted butter
170g good quality 70% dark chocolate
225g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
150g self-raising flour
100g mini marshmallows

For decoration:
20g white chocolate, chopped

Method

Line a 8inch springform round baking tin with greaseproof paper.

To make the base, first put the biscuits in a bowl and bash with a rolling pin until completely brushed. Now melt the butter in a separate bowl in the microwave for 10 second blasts. Pour the biscuits into the melted butter and mix together. Spoon the mixture into the tin and press with the back of a spoon to form an even layer. Refrigerate.

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Preheat the oven to 180°C. Whilst the base chills, make your brownie mixture by first melting the butter and chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of water on a low heat. Once melted leave on the side to cool. In a separate bowl whisk together the sugar and eggs until frothy. Now add in the cooled chocolate mixture and the flour and stir until you  have a thick chocolate mixture. Finally, fold in the marshmallows. Take your tin out of the fridge and pour the brownie mixture over the top of the biscuit base, spreading it out into an even layer.

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Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes* until the top has formed a crust and has started to crack. (Test the brownies by inserting a knife into the one of the edges, if it comes out clean the brownies are done.) Leave the brownie pie to completely cool before removing from the tin.

To decorate, melt the white chocolate in the microwave in 10 second blasts until smooth. Use a spoon to drizzle over the chocolate in a crisscross pattern. Slice into 8 and serve – try it warmed with ice-cream!

*check the brownie pie after 20 mins, if it’s starting to burn cover the tin with tinfoil, shiny side up, for the remaining cooking time.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Brownies

Gooey, rich, fudgy, salty, sweet and seriously indulgent. I made these brownies as a dessert for a dinner party and served them warm, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and an extra drizzle of salted caramel. One bite of these and you are in brownie heaven!

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Ingredients (makes 12 brownies)

For the brownies
150g unsalted butter (at room temp)
170g 70% dark chocolate
225g caster sugar
2 eggs (at room temp)
150g self-raising flour
100g milk chocolate chips

For the salted caramel

100g granulated sugar
42g unsalted butter, soft at room temp and cut into chunks
118g heavy cream, room temp
1/2 – 1 tsps sea salt (depending on how salty you like it)

Method

To make the salted caramel, heat the sugar on medium-high heat in a medium saucapan for about 5-10 minutes, occasionally stirring the pan in a circular motion using your hand. At first the sugar will be lumpy, but will soon melt and start turning a brownish color.

Once it becomes a dark amber hue, remove from heat immediately and stir in butter. If the mixture starts to violently bubble, do not worry this is meant to happen! Use your spatula to stir the butter and sugar until they melt together completely.

Next, pour in the heavy cream and sea salt. Use your spatula to stir until everything is combined. Place back on the stove for about a minute to remove any lumps of caramel, stir the whole time. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl and put in the fridge to thicken for a least 30 minutes.

Whislt the caramel is thickening, preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease and base line a 23cm square tin.

Begin making the brownie mixture by gently melting the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water at a low heat. Once melted leave on the side to cool. In a separate bowl whisk together the sugar and eggs. Then add in the cooled chocolate and butter mixture, the flour and the chocolate chips and fold everything together until you  have a thick chocolate mixture.

Now pour 1/2 of the brownie mixture into the prepared tin spreading it out evenly and then spoon the salted caramel on top, spreading it out but not quite to the edges (save some caramel to drizzle over later). Pour the remaining brownie mixture on top and try to seal as much of the caramel in as you can. Bake the brownies for 25-30 minutes until the top is starting to crack.

Leave to cool completely (I left mine overnight), cut into 12 squares and serve. I love these brownies warmed up in the microwave with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream and a drizzle of salted caramel…. absolute heaven!