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Sugar cookies are the great all-rounder. Welcome wherever they go and suited to everyone’s tastes, they really are the Mr. Popular of the baking world. And with this super simple recipe, they are easier to make than ever!

A great Christmas staple, these quick, no fuss cookies are perfect for decorating and gifting this year. Whether it’s for a fun activity on Christmas eve or to wow at the Christmas party, these cookies tick every box. Show us your cookie designs in the comments or check out our favourites below for some inspiration!

Ingredients

1 Egg, large

2½ cups All-purpose flour

1 cup Confectioner's sugar

½tsp Salt

1tsp Vanilla or almond extract

2 sticks Butter, unsalted

Directions;

Empty flour into a large mixing bowl and add salt.

In a separate bowl, place butter and confectioners’ sugar. Using a wooden spoon or a whisk, combine these ingredients until they are fully blended.

Beat the egg and add it to the sugar and butter mixture, stirring until fully incorporated.

Add one teaspoon of either vanilla or almond essence (Pro tip; if you’re feeling really Christmassy, add in a drop or two of peppermint extract to really spice things up!) Make sure to full combine these ingredients.

Slowly and gradually add in the flour, stirring all the while, until mixture becomes thick and doughy.

Place dough in a zip-locked plastic bag and leave to cool in the fridge for at least three hours.

Roll dough out onto a well-floured surface and begin to cut out the shapes you want to decorate.

Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes before icing.

For Icing:

Add 1 cup of powdered sugar to 4 tablespoons of milk and stir until they make a thick liquid. Add 2 drops of vanilla, almond or peppermint extract and whatever food dye colouring you prefer. Mix until combined.

Design!

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2020 has taken a lot away from us. And yet, in some ways, it’s given us a lot too. The chance to slow down. To appreciate each other, what we have and our health. And of course, baking banana bread.

We’ve all rediscovered things in ourselves and each other that have gotten lost in the rush of routine. It’s important to carry these things through now, as we find ourselves slowly emerging from lockdown. Whether that’s your new habit of making time for yourself, appreciating the little things, or even the baking in the run up to Christmas. In fact, especially the baking.

Baking is something that brought joy during a tough time in our lives are and whipping up a batch of gingerbread cookies and icing them is definitely a perfect excuse to practice it now. Whether it’s with your kids, your friends or your flatmates, this is the perfect way to make memories and get into the Christmas spirit.

No gingerbread cutters? No problem! We’ll show you how to make your own in custom styles, using things from your kitchen cupboards!

Gingerbread Cutter Guide

What You’ll Need: Heavy-duty foil, scissors, ruler, stapler, drawing or printed template

  • Start by sketching the outline of the shape you want to make on a piece of paper. Go classic with the traditional gingerbread man or spice things up with some of our inspo ideas below!
  • Tear off a sheet of heavy-duty foil about 30cm wide. Fold it in half length-ways and crease the fold. Then lay it flat again.
  • Fold the outer edges towards that centre line and then bring those edges in two more times.
  • Finally, fold straight down the middle again, using your ruler to really flatten down the strip. Your strip of foil should be fairly thick and firm by this point.
  • Trim the foil’s ends so they are straight-edged and then insert one end into the other and staple shut.
  • Shape your foil around the template made earlier. Rounded objects like spoons or pencils can help with the curving parts! Cut away any length not needed.
  • Make gingerbread!

Gingerbread recipe

Ingredients:

225g butter                                         

250g plain flour

1 egg                                                  

180g brown sugar

2tsp ground cinnamon                        

2tsp ground ginger

1tsp ground clove                               

1 pinch salt

2tsp nutmeg

Instructions

  • Blend the butter and brown sugar together in a bowl until combined.
  • Whisk egg and add to the mixture, stirring in.
  • Add ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and clove to the mixture and combine well.
  • Add two drops of vanilla essence and combine well.
  • Mix flour in until mixture has a crumbly texture.
  • Sprinkle flour on a flat surface and dust some over your rolling pin. Transfer mixture onto floured area and roll it out.
  • Cut out your desired shapes and place on parchment or baking paper on a wide flat baking pan.
  • Cook at 175 degrees Celsius for 10-12 minutes, checking them every 5 minutes.
  • Leave to cool and decorate!

 

Here are some of our favourite designs for some inspiration. What did you make? Show us your creations below in the comments!

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This recipe is taken from the wonderful new gluten free baking book "Baking from the Heart" by Soraya Quigley also known as Cozebakes.   It's a wonderful collection of gluten free recipes for coeliacs or those with a gluten intolerance.  That said, the recipes are all so well thought out and perfected that the anyone would enjoy these recipes.   This is a wonderful gift for the baker in your life. 

Buy this book here

These gluten free chocolate brownies are really delicious, you would not know the difference at all (I promise) and have a nice soft centre with the added bonus of chocolate drops for something extra squidgy. Warning : these are addictive and I take no responsibility at all for their deliciousness!

If you want to make this recipe a dairy free one too, then replace the margarine/butter with a dairy free spread or plant based spread.

The recipe calls for an 18cm x 27cm shallow baking tin. I used one of the Lakeland disposable foil trays so I only lined it with parchment but if you’re using a baking tin, you need to grease and line it. If you leave the parchment so there’s a little over the edge of the tin, it lifts out easily.

Bake with love

Soraya x

Gluten free brownies

Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C fan, Gas 4.

Ingredients:

225g margarine or butter (dairy free if needed)

100g caster sugar

100g brown sugar (recipe says 300g but I like to reduce if I can and this can take it)

3 large eggs, beaten

1 + 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

120g wheat & gluten free plain flour (I use Dove’s Farm)

1 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp salt

75g cocoa powder

100g good quality chocolate drops or chunks (dairy free if needed)

Method:

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract on a slower speed mixing well between each addition.

Fold in the sifted flour, xanthan gum, salt and cocoa powder until a metal spoon until it’s all well combined. Stir in three quarters of the chocolate drops/chunks.

Spoon the mix into the prepared baking tin and level off. Sprinkle the rest of the chocolate drops over the top of the mixture.

Bake for 40/43 minutes. Check the brownies and put a skewer into the middle. They are ready when the skewer comes out a little tacky. Don’t overcook them as they won’t by fudgy and brownies will always firm up as they cool.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. Once cooled, lift out and cut into squares.

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Soraya Quigley is a mum of 3 who has close family members that have special dietary needs including coeliac disease and gluten intolerance.  It was this, and the need to create delicious bakes which everyone could enjoy, that was the inspiration for new book ‘Gluten Free Baking From The Heart’ by Soraya Quigley.

It’s a wonderful baking book which is jam-packed with easy-to-follow recipes which are tried and tested.  It has taken many years to perfect as, anyone who has every tried to bake a gluten free recipe will know that it’s extremely difficult to take a non-gluten recipe and to turn it into a gluten free one.  Simple swaps just don’t work.  

The beauty of this book is that each recipe has been made and tweaked until you can create a perfect bake.  This is extremely rare in the world of cookery books where often authors pay other people to write or test their recipes – think about it – have you ever made something from a well-known baking book and it just doesn’t work despite following all of the exact steps?  That’s the reason why.  So, this book is a little gem and one that every family should have on their recipe bookshelf.

Purchase this book here.

Each recipe includes tips and useful information to deliver a superior bake.  Soraya’s inspiration to bake isn’t just because of the need to create gluten free bakes for her family.  Although she has always baked, she turned to baking as a form of therapy after losing her beautiful daughter Christine in 2011.  She progressed from baking at home to sharing her recipes on Facebook and created a baking group where she brings great joy (along with inspiration) to the group members.  The group has gone from strength to strength with more than 2,000 fans following her today.

Soraya would say that gluten free baking is not complicated or difficult but it’s her book of recipes that will make you shine.  Recipes from the book include Fudgy Brownies, Fluffy Scones, Gooey Chocolate Cake, Blueberry & Lemon Loaf Cake, Raspberry Almond Tart, Sausage Rolls and Cheese Muffins to name a few.  

‘Gluten Free Baking From The Heart’ costs €25 with €2 from the price is donated to the LauraLynn Children’s Hospice.

Shipping is free in Ireland with worldwide shipping available. 

To purchase, visit www.cozebakes.com.

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One more thing to be grateful for; The Great British Bake Off is going to be back on our screens later this year for season 11. This year’s filming came with a whole host of challenges due to COVID-19 and social distancing rules, however, show producers were determined to make it work, and we couldn’t be more excited!

The Great British Bake Off confirmed on Instagram last week that filming for their latest series has wrapped and that more news will be coming soon. Kieran Smith, Creative Director for Love Productions, the production company behind Bake Off, said in an interview with Broadcast, “So many people rely on Bake Off for work that we knew we had to work out a plan”.

Smith explained that the entire cast and crew had to isolate separately for nine days and take three tests for coronavirus, before they all formed a bubble together, isolating in a hotel rented by production in the South-East. The cast, crew, hotel staff, around 20 children, chaperones and dog walkers, all stayed in lockdown together for over six weeks of filming, in order to avoid having to social distance.

“It was a massive operation, we even [built] 12 practice kitchens for the bakers to use on their days off. It felt like the safest place in Britain,” described Smith.

Throughout the entire “gruelling” process, they only had one coronavirus scare, which turned out to be just that, nothing more than a scare. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Great British Bake Off (@britishbakeoff) on

It has also been revealed that the famous baking show will be getting a new co-host for the upcoming season, following the departure of Sandy Toksvig. Little Britain comedian, Matt Lucas is joining the show as Noel Fielding’s hosting partner. 

After having quite an intense Bake Off introduction, Smith commented, “He was practically living with the bakers. It felt like he had always been there.”

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Sharon Hearne Smith shared her go-to Easter recipe for this delicious cake. This stunning rose effect is surprisingly easy to achieve once you have a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Be sure to practice your rose making technique on a plate first but if you do make a mistake on the cake, simply lift the rose off and go again. While the recipe makes a large amount of buttercream, it is necessary to achieve this effect. It is important to use a gel and not liquid food colour to avoid watering down the buttercream. The buttercream can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance and left in the fridge, but it will harden, so remove it about 15 minutes before you need it to let it soften up.

Serves 8-10

Cake

250g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

250g caster sugar

4 large eggs

250g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 lemons

4 tsp poppy seeds

200g lemon curd

Buttercream

500g white chocolate

700g unsalted butter

700g icing sugar

Yellow gel food colour

You will need

A piping bag fitted with an open star nozzle

A homemade flower bunting, optional

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C (fan 160C), 350F, Gas Mark 4. Grease 3 x 20cm sandwich tins and line each base with a disc of parchment paper. Set aside on baking sheets.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and each with a little flour, until incorporated. Add the rest of the flour, the baking powder and poppy seeds. Finely grate the lemon zest in, squeeze in the juice and beat until well blended to a dropping consistency.

Divide the mixture evenly between the tins, levelling the tops with the back of a spoon. Bake for 20-25 minutes, swapping the tins around halfway through.

Meanwhile, make the buttercream. Snap the chocolate into a large heatproof bowl and melt either in the microwave in 30-second blasts, stirring between each go, or over a pan of simmering water, shallow enough that the water doesn’t touch the bowl. Once melted, remove and leave to cool.

Using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter in a large bowl until pale. Sift the icing sugar over in stages, combining well before adding the next. Beat in the cooled chocolate until well combined to give a smooth mixture.  Beat in enough yellow food colour to give a vibrant yellow. Cover and set aside.

Once the cakes are cooked through and just springy to the touch, remove them from the oven. Leave in the tins for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble, using a palette knife, spread 150g of buttercream on each one. Divide the lemon curd evenly between two of them, spreading it level. Stack these two on top of each other on a serving plate or cake stand and top with the remaining cake. Spread 200g of buttercream all around the sides of the cake, ensuring a smooth and even finish. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes until firm. Fill a piping bag fitted with an open star nozzle with buttercream and set aside for now.

To make a rose, start in the centre and pipe anti-clockwise around the centre to create a tight prawn like shape. Pipe the first row of roses in a single layer around the base of the cake. Then repeat the rows all the way up the side of the cake, refilling the piping bag as necessary. Finally, pipe the roses around the top of the cake, beginning on the outside and working inwards until completely covered.

If the icing is beginning to soften, set in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve topped with a homemade flower bunting if liked.

Top Tip!

Don’t let the rose icing put you off if you don’t have time or feel unable to manage it. Simply apply and smooth the icing with a palette knife. Half of the buttercream will be sufficient in this case.

With thanks to our Easter contributors

Photo Credits

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Fancy whipping up a batch of the tastiest cookies ever? Why not channel your inner Mary Berry and bake these tasty Butlers Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookies.

Drooling already? Us too.

These decadent, delicious cookies are stuffed with pieces of caramel, which, when baked, create the luxurious experience of double chocolate cookies with a chewy caramel centre. Definitely cookies for grown-ups! The recipe below makes 18 cookies.

Ingredients:

115g unsalted butter

350g soft light brown sugar

2 large eggs

55g cocoa powder, sifted

¼ tsp sea salt flakes

¾ tsp baking powder

260g plain flour

100g Butlers 40% Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel Bar, roughly chopped

100g bag of Butlers Dark Chocolate Salt Caramels, roughly chopped

Sea salt flakes, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan/350°F/Gas Mark 4) and line 3 large baking trays with parchment paper.

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and eggs. Add the cocoa powder, salt and baking powder, then stir well to combine.

Add the flour and stir until no white floury patches are left. Mix in the chopped pieces of chocolate.

Use a small 2 tbsp ice-cream scoop to portion the dough. Then make a small hollow in the centre of each scoop of dough and fill with pieces of the salt caramels. Cover the caramel with dough to seal inside.

Place the cookie dough balls on a baking tray, making sure to leave space between them so the cookies can spread while baking, and sprinkle each one with sea salt flakes as desired.

Bake for 10–12 minutes, then allow to cool on the tray on a wire rack.

 

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Fruity, fudgey, creamy, chocolatey… No-bake desserts are full of flavours and they are so handy to make when you don't feel like turning on the oven – or if you don't have one…

With these tasty recipes, no need to have your Mam's baking skills to whip up something delicious for you and your friends.

1. Lemon cream pie

2. Cranberry pistachio fudge

3. Snickers slices

4. Strawberry tiramisu

5. Chocolate mousse

6. Cannoli cones

7. Turtle chocolate fudge

8. Raspberry amaretto semifreddo

 

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If you can't drink Guinness, why not dive into it in cake-form?

This cake is made of Guinness and will be perfect as a Paddy's Day treat. 

Guinness pint cake

Ingredients

  • 250ml Guinness
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 150g sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 275g plain flour
  • 2½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 100ml double cream, lightly whipped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Preheat an oven to 180°C.

Melt the butter and the Guinness in a pan over low heat. Add the sugar, vanilla extract and cocoa powder and mix well until smooth.

Whisk the eggs and sour cream together, add the Guinness mixture, then finally add the flour and baking powder and mix well. 

Divide between Guinness glasses so they are about ¾ full. Place on a tray and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until risen and cooked through. Allow to cool completely.

Place all the icing ingredients into a bowl and beat until smooth and fluffy. Level off the top of the cakes and spoon the frosting onto the top of each cake so they look like a proper pint. Enjoy!

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What's better than a delicious chocolate chip cookie?

A GIANT chocolate chip cookie!

Because it's Thursday we have all deserved a treat at that stage, we are sharing with you our ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe. We made a huge one this time but if you want, you can cut the dough into 12 equal size portions, roll it into balls and place on a baking sheet. The cooking time will be reduced to 12 minutes.

ENJOY!

hungry lizzie mcguire GIF

Ingredients

  • 250g flour

  • 100g white sugar

  • 100g brown sugar

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 125g butter, melted

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 150g chocolate, chopped (milk, dark, white, whatever you prefer!)

  • If the butter is unsalted, add 1/2 tsp salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients (flour, sugars, baking powder). Add the beaten egg, vanilla extract and melted butter, mix well, then stir in chocolate and combine.

Using your hands, press the dough together to create a patty.

Spread the dough on a lined baking sheet and bake the giant cookie for about 20 minutes. Remove from the sheet (don't worry if it looks very soft in the middle, it will harden) and let cool.

Pour yourself a glass of milk, and devour the whole bloody thing.

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If your Instagram feed is to be believed, your circle of friends are one step away from opening their own pastry café.

We mean, who are we to question the origin of a plate of scones uploaded to one mate's Insta or the real person behind the brownies they have us drooling over?

So, it turns out we're actually a nation of big fat chancers.

According to recent research conducted by Dr. Oetker Baking, we might be a dab hand at the humble Rice Crispie bun, but that is where our talents seem to come to an end.

The research established that over half of respondents rated their own baking skills as just 'average' at best, with 95% wishing they could be a better baker.

If you fall into this camp, it might be worth stepping up to the The Dr. Oetker Faker to Baker challenge.

The five-week Facebook campaign was designed to help the Irish population hone their baking skills, create memories, and even earn prizes along the way, and by following weekly video tutorials on Dr. Oetker Baking’s Facebook page, participants can learn to bake like a pro in five weeks.

So what do you need to do?

Well, to enter the challenge, you need to follow the tutorial and post a photo of your tasty creation, using the hashtag #FakerToBaker on the Dr. Oetker Baking Facebook page. 

Five weekly winners will receive a Dr. Oetker Baking Hamper filled to the brim with baking goods.

And it doesn't stop there!

The public will then vote on these photos to crown the Ultimate Faker to Baker, who will receive their very own KitchenAid.

People, it's go-time!

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Cupcakes have always been one of our fave treats, but there's nothing worse than buying or baking really stodgy, dense ones.

Three bites in and you're full (and not feeling so great, either).

However, Delish has created a hack to make your cupcakes light and fluffy… and it involves our favourite alcohol.

It notes that adding soda to your mixture has been a longtime hack, so why not try prosecco?

Well, its bakers did and it worked a treat. They said, "the end result is even lighter and fluffier than any cake we've ever had before." Score.

If you fancy adding a splash of prosecco into your cakes, take a look at the how-to video above.

And have a little tipple while baking, we won't tell.

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