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, glacé 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 glacé cherries to the wreath for the ‘berries’. Finally dust the tart with edible glitter to give it a Christmas sparkle!

Snowman Cupcakes

Well aren’t these cute!

I’ve seen a few snowman recipe ideas around and thought this year I’d give one a go. However there’s a story to tell here…keep reading if you fancy a giggle!

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My first attempt was a huge….success disaster! Photo evidence below, try not to laugh 🙂

This got me thinking, how do I make sure my snowmen don’t look like they’ve spent a week on the beach in 30 degree heat!?

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Commence phase two…

I decided to add some height using white chocolate buttercream. No melted snowmen here! Then using Mikado biscuit sticks I added some ‘twig’ arms. For the eyes and mouth, I used melted chocolate and for the noses, orange sugar paste – nope they are not real carrots carved to be miniature in size like my gran thought 🙂

For the cupcake base, I used my tried and tested vanilla sponge recipe and added white chocolate chips and cinnamon spice for extra festive flavour.

I think it’s safe to say the second attempt turned out a bit better! I have to admit it’s not the quickest/easiest one I’ve posted, but they are great fun to make and the end result is so worth it. So put on your favourite Christmas music and your tackiest festive jumper, or one you don’t mind getting covered in icing sugar, and give it a go!

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes)

For the cupcakes:

150g unsalted butter
150g golden caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsps ground cinnamon
100g white chocolate chips
1 tbsp milk (optional)

For the snowmen:

Buttercream body: 125g unsalted butter, 250g icing sugar, 150g white chocolate, 1 tbsp milk
Heads: 12 white large marshmallows
Eyes and mouths: A few squares of milk/dark chocolate
Noses: Orange sugar paste, you will only need a small amount
Arms: 1 pack Mikado biscuit sticks
Buttons: different coloured icing pens
Cocktail sticks

 

Lets get baking…

Start with the cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cupcake cases.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs and vanilla extract. Fold in the flour and cinnamon until the mixture is smooth. Now fold in the white chocolate chips. If the mixture is too thick add a tablespoon of milk to loosen it slightly.

Evenly fill the cupcake cases about 3/4 full with the mixture and bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes until golden brown on top and springy to the touch.

Whilst your cakes are cooling you can begin the decoration…

Eyes and Mouth
Melt the squares of milk/dark chocolate in the microwave in 20 second blasts. Using the tip of a cocktail stick, dot the eyes and mouth onto the marshmallows. Set aside and leave to dry.

Noses
For the noses, take a small peice of sugar paste and roll into a cone shape. Cut the end of the nose with a knife to make a sharp flat surface (this will be the end that will attach to the head). Set aside and leave to dry out and harden.

Once for the sugar paste has dried, use an icing sugar and water paste to stick the nose on to the marshmallow head. You will need to hold it in place until it feels firm.

Body
In a microwaveable bowl melt the white chocolate in 30 second blasts until smooth. Beat the butter for at least 5 minutes until really pale in colour (if you have an electric whisk use it, it will save your arms from aching!). Now sift in half the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Repeat with the remaining icing sugar. Pour the white chocolate in, add the milk, fold until the buttercream is smooth, creamy and light.

To assemble a snowman…

Start with the body
Using a piping bag with a large open circular nozzle, pipe the buttercream in a swirly motion starting from the middle and circulating outwards and upwards. If you don’t have a piping bag you can achieve something similar with a spoon, using the back to create definition.

Add the head
Place a marshmallow on top of the buttercream swirl.

And the arms
Snap a Mikado stick in half and push into each side of the buttercream.

And finally the buttons
Using the icing pens dot buttons on the body of the snowman.

Repeat this for all 12 cupcakes. If you think they’re simply too cute to eat, they will last in the fridge for up to five days or on the counter for two.