pumpkin & spice bites

I’m going to ignore the current holiday. I already showed you how I celebrated it on cupcakes. That’s all you get.

Instead of something red & covered in love & hearts, I’m sharing something orange & filled with pumpkin. Bite sized, more-ish snacks for those of us who will be silently protesting the holiday by watching zombie flicks on the couch & stuffing our faces full of these.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against love, or holidays. I love both actually. I’m not even against valentines day. I just don’t feel like celebrating it this year. Maybe next year, ay?

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gingerbread star christmas trees

Well the title is certainly a mouth full. Unfortunately these are every bit as complicated as they sound. No part is particularly hard… but it is all very time-consuming.

This is what they look like. I’m showing you these first so you don’t get discouraged by what’s to come….

All this time I’ve been posting up pictures of designs & all the while leaving out the most important bit. There is a reason for that… I just can’t bring myself to be that long-winded. Also, photographing the process requires me to stop what I’m doing & repeatedly wash my hands, photograph, & repeat.

I’m sharing these today though because they are totally worth it. Maybe I should begin though. First, you need to start with a good gingerbread recipe. The one I used came from a book called Cookie Swap. Make it as per the directions & cut out 40 star cookies. You will need 5 different sizes of stars, 8 star cookies of each size. This will make you 4  christmas trees.

Right, then you need to make royal icing (again, from cookie swap) & bring it to lining consistency & tint it light green. This is the consistency where when you drag a spoon through the icing it takes several seconds before the line disappears. You’re going to want to draw a start out line around the edge of each cookie. (if you notice, my lines aren’t consistent, this was because I thinned it too much.
Once the cookies have all been outlined, you then want to thin the icing to flooding consistency. This means that when you drag a spoon through the icing, it only takes half a second or so for the lines to disappear. Once that has been done, fill in the cookies. Again, as you can see in the picture above, my icing wasn’t quite thin enough. You can see that from the distinction between the filling & the lining. (if you want to see what proper lining icing looks like, check out the gingerbread men from this post)

Next, make some white icing to lining consistency & draw on the lines.
After, tint some more lining icing to dark green & draw on the dots.
Finally, once the cookies are dry, brush on some copper luster dust.
Last but not least, assemble the trees. You’ll need a little more icing to act as glue. You’re going to use two of each size star to make the trees.

And VOILA!!! I’m exhausted just reliving it. Still, they are beautiful aren’t they. I’m kicking myself for all the pictures being taken with my phone…. still, better these than none at all.

Now for the recipes.

– nickey

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traditional pumpkin pie

I’ve got two sets of pictures for everyone today. The first was the pumpkin pie I made at home for mel & I. Pretty standard, nothing too out of the ordinary.

The second time I made this though, was for an order at work. Now, I know the first pie looks pretty, but at the bakery I don’t want things to just look pretty, I want them to look professional. This is why I did something funky with the crust. Shame I didn’t have a proper camera with me for it. Still, the basic recipe is exactly the same. The only real difference here, is that the second pie shell took me double the time to assemble, was completely worth it though. Unfortunately I wasn’t around to see the customers face, but my boss gave me some pretty good feed back.

Here you can see the assembly of the shell, not too complicated. Below is what it looked like filled & baked.

Pretty neat huh?

– nickey

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carrot cake with cream cheese icing

I don’t know if I want to share this recipe.

Like, I’m really struggling to justify spilling my secret weapon.

If I were to be challenged to a cake bake-off, this carrot, walnut & coconut cake would be hiding waiting to pop out at the last moment & steal the gold.

It’s that good.

Sometimes, I realize that by sitting & writing a blog, I’m putting all of Mel & my best kept secrets out there for the world to see. In moments like those I panic a little & think about pulling the plug on the whole operation. I think I’m a bit like my grandfather in that respect. And his mother come to think about it. Both of them at one point in their lives (or several times over if you want to go into details) were asked to give recipes to books or publications, and both of them neglected to put in at least one key ingredient. They were sneaky about it though, they left out ingredients that no one would ever think to add.

Yea, that’s right, my family did that. The thing is, their recipes are the kind that are worth being sneaky over. At some point I’m going to have to fly to New Orleans & spend a good few weeks with my grandfather in the kitchen, it’s the only way I’m ever going to get his secrets.

So, you see why I struggle with sharing sometimes? It’s not my fault I swear, it’s genetics. Genetics are to blame here & only genetics.

Clearly though I’m living proof that you can go against the grain, of go against what’s been ingrained rather. What ever the case may be. So, I plug on, keep the site up & running, & today, today I’m sharing my own personal secret weapon.

The dirty secret behind my secret weapons is, that it’s not even mine… oh dear lord the shame. It’s all out in the open now, no going back.

This carrot cake recipe came out of the ottolenghi cookbook. I never needed to make an alteration because it was perfect as is. The only thing I change is that sometimes I like to double the batter, triple the cream & turn it into a 3 layered cake with lots of cream between layers. Other than that, I know when I’m looking at perfection. So, on that note, I would just like to say…. from the depths of my heart, thank you Mr. Ottolenghi for sharing with us perfection.

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ghosts & pumpkins, just enough creepy before halloween

I had so many recipes planned to share with you this week, but things change. This happened instead…

Technically, living in Greece means we don’t celebrate Halloween, nobody actually knows what Halloween is here. Lucky for me though, I work in a bakery owned by an English woman with a flair for creativity, & her son who went to school in the US. Both of these things, mean that the day before yesterday I got to make ghost meringues, pumpkin spice pumpkin shaped cookies, & carve actual pumpkins.

Who else can say they get to do that at work?

If I didn’t say it before, I’m saying it now…. I love my job. If my job was a man, I’d take it out to dinner, hit it over the head with a mallet, & then marry it before it had a chance to say “no”.

Please don’t let my oddities scare anyone away… I’m being extra creepy in the spirit of Halloween. In fact if I’m being completely honest, I haven’t been this excited for Halloween in a really long time.

Right, we will be starting with the ghost meringues, they are the easiest to make & also need almost two hours in the oven. It’s best to start them first so that you can work on other things whilst they bake.

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