What better way to celebrate National Baking Week than the get Sophie St Leger, who works at the WillowBrook Centre, in Bradley Stoke, to try out some ghoulish recipes at home in time for Halloween.
Here’s how she got on:
I started by looking through the recipes on Tesco’s website to pick out some of the Halloween bakes they had.
One thing I thought was great about the variety was that some of the recipes involved already baked cakes, meaning all you need to worry about is the decoration (perfect for busy family life).
But.. seeing at its national baking week I thought I had better choose some recipes that include actual baking. So, I chose to bake the red velvet broken glass cupcakes (without the glass, will explain later) and spooky gingerbread men.
Red velvet broken glass cupcakes
The cupcakes were first on my list and I went off recipe a little by adding a little red food colouring into the cake mix to blood red!
To decorate I also changed the recipe slightly as I figured red food colouring would be just as good as the frozen raspberries, albeit slightly less healthy!
I mixed the icing together and then piped it on with a spiral effect, mixing the red food colouring with a touch of icing sugar and water. A dribble over the icing gave a ghoulish blood effect!
Now…about the glass shards. Unfortunately it would appear that at the time of shopping for the ingredients EVERYWHERE was out of clear mints. So these cupcakes had to go without the exciting centrepieces.
Here is what they should have looked like (along with the recipe):
- 250g (8oz) plain flour
- 40g (1 1/2oz) cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 150g (5oz) caster sugar
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- 200ml (1/3pt) milk
- 250g (8oz) cooked beetroot, grated
- 90g (3 1/4oz) butter, softened
- 200g icing sugar, sifted
- 200g (7oz) lighter cream cheese
- 2 x 200g packs clear mints
- 200g (7oz) fresh or frozen raspberries
- Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Beat together the eggs, caster sugar, sunflower oil and milk, and then mix in the grated beetroot. Fold the wet mixture into the dry ingredients.
- Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes, until springy to the touch. Allow to cool.
- While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Beat together the butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy then fold in the cream cheese. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
- For the ‘broken glass’, unwrap the mints and put into a heavy based pan. Heat over a very gentle heat until melted, then pour onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper and allow to harden. Break gently with the end of a rolling pin to create the effect of broken glass. To make the ‘blood’, push the raspberries through a sieve and discard the seeds.
- To assemble, spread the frosting over each cupcake, push a few bits of ‘broken glass’ into each one and finally drizzle with a little of the raspberry purée.
Spooky Gingerbread Men
When following this recipe I didn’t end up using a food processor, simply because I don’t own one, but found when the butter was soft enough I had no problem hand mixing. It probably took a little longer than it would have done, but I got the same outcome eventually.
Also, when cutting out the shapes I re-discovered a tiny cat cutter that I had stored away, so used the offcuts to make little black cats.
The cooking instructions said 10-12 minutes, but I actually found that it took about 13/14 minutes – so you’ll need to judge your oven’s individual performance.
Once they were cooked I set them aside for about 20 minutes before decorating.
I rolled out ready made black icing, using the same cat cutter to cut out the shape. I then used a little icing sugar to stick the icing to the gingerbread, and some yellow food colouring and icing sugar to create yellow eyes (this was more difficult than I anticipated, and ended up with lots of cross-eyed and one eyed cats).
For the gingerbread men I made icing out of icing sugar and water, and used a piping bag to decorate. If I was doing this over, I would have bought the icing pens that come with smaller nibs as I struggled slightly with neatness as the hole I was piping through was a bit too large.
Here is how they ended up looking (whoops):
And here is how they are supposed to look, along with the recipe:
- 350g (12oz) plain flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 125g (4oz) butter, cubed
- 175g (6oz) light muscovado sugar
- 1 egg
- 4 tbsp golden syrup
- decorations, such as writing icing, royal icing, coloured pearls, mini razzle dazzles and mocha beansMethod
- Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Line two baking trays with nonstick baking paper. In a food processor, mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon. Add the butter and pulse until it has been incorporated. Add the sugar and pulse a further 3-4 times.
- In a bowl, whisk together the egg and golden syrup with a fork. Pour it into the food processor and whizz until the mixture comes together in sticky clumps. (Alternatively, put the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers. Mix in the remaining ingredients with a wooden spoon, before bringing the gingerbread dough together by hand.) Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in clingfilm; chill for 30 minutes.
- On a large sheet of lightly floured, nonstick baking paper, roll out half the dough to roughly the thickness of a pound coin. Using a 14cm gingerbread man cutter, stamp out 7 shapes. Arrange on one of the prepared trays and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Once the biscuits have cooled, add sugar decorations and icing in the design of your choosing. Leave to set before serving.
These are fun bakes that little ones will definitely enjoy, well worth serving at your upcoming Halloween parties!