Gingerbread cookies + summer? Oh yes!

End of summer. School is a week away and you’re running out of ideas.

You’ve done the puzzles, you’ve done the Lego, watched all the Hey Duggee and Gumball episodes, the trampoline is apparently boooooooring and well, something has to be done to keep the kids entertained.

So. Today the kids and I made gingerbread cookies. Yes. In August.

I know it’s traditionally made at Christmas time but hear me out:

A) they’re super easy to make

B) you get to decorate them – twice! (Shape making first, icing once cooked).

C) It’s ALL AGES FRIENDLY. Now that is something I will get behind. There aren’t a lot of activities out there that caters for ages toddler – ten year old.

D) They’re tasty! Who doesn’t like gingerbread?!

E) They’re so easy to make! (Okay, so I said this already but it deserves a repeat mention)

The recipe I use is a Swedish one. I really, really like the spice mix – so tasty, and it’s “familiar”, homely.

The cookies also do well rolled out thin and baked high and fast!

~Recipe~

Ingredients:

• 2 1/2 dl light brown sugar

• 3/4 dl *”ljus sirap” or golden syrup

• 3/4 dl water

• 150 g margarine

• 1 tbsp cinnamon

• 1 tbsp ginger

• 1 tsp clove

• about 6 dl flour (360g) (+ extra for the roll out )

• 1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate

This is what you do…

Mix the brown sugar, golden syrup and water in a pot and bring to the boil.

Take off the heat and add the margarine. Allow it to melt and add the spices.

Let it all cool without stirring.

Once cooled, add the bicarbonate and flour.

Wrap in cling film and let it cool at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

Heat your oven to 175°C.

Work your dough until it’s smooth and shiny. Don’t be shy with the extra flour but make sure you don’t add too much or they’ll up super dry and crumbly.

Roll out thin and use your cutters to creative fun shapes!

Place on a baking tray covered with

The cookies bake really quickly, about 6-8 minutes.

Can be kept in a airtight container or frozen.

Top Tip:

I always make extra dough and freeze for that emergency rainy day activity!

Love, Jess ❤️

* You can find ljus sirap (and mörk sirap) on the Ocado website or in Scandinavian specialist shops. However, Golden syrup works well here too.

Lemon Drizzle Birthday Cake

My baby girl is five years old.  Five… I can’t quite believe it.  I remember the night she came into the world.

We were getting ready to go to bed for the evening.  I laid down in bed when suddenly I felt a huge gush of water.  I was in shock and stumbled into the bathroom. It was happening! It was really happening!!

I had had back low pains all day and that “feeling”.  My goodness, I remember googling “when do you know you’re in labour?” about a million times and most of the articles simply said “you just know”.

I hate to tell you this, but it’s true. You just know.

I had an urge to walk.  I know how weird that sounds.  The back pain was very similar to period pains, but a prolonged version – it never ceased but stayed there throughout.   I told my husband I had to walk around, so us and Jackson ended up walking around the block several times.

I had planned to stay home for as long as possible but as there was meconium in the water we had to go into hospital. As a VBAC candidate and having had meconium in the water, I was set up with my very own midwife who looked after me throughout it all.  She was so caring and kind, strong and encouraging and really helped me through the rushes of pain.  I’m not going to the lie, the gas and air also helped! In all, apart from the consultant and midwifes arguing about how much syntocin to pump into my veins, the birth was pretty uneventful up until 10 centimetres.

Baby Maggie’s heart rate suddenly dropped and she and I were whisked into theatre for an emergency c-section.  I was disappointed in having had an assisted birth (since I was a VBAC girl – there is nothing wrong with a c-section birth!) but utterly delighted at the sight of our perfect baby girl.

Out came our beautiful redhead.  Caring, passionate, fearless – a one of a kind.  She’s artistic, sensitive and clever and I really couldn’t be prouder of this little girl.

Starting school last year, as a tiny little four year old, she took it all in her stride and just got on with it.  She did remarkably well, and somehow managed to keep up with her older class mates.

Maggie  loves baking (YAY) and often wants to help me in the kitchen.  This year we made her birthday cake together – a Lemon Drizzle Cake.

This was super easy to make! She loved helping me squeeze the lemons and measuring it all up.  Definitely one to make with your kids.

Here is the recipe we used:

Maggie’s Lemon Drizzle Cake

img_5767Ingredients

  • 175g self raising flour
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 lemon, finely zested and juiced
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the buttercream

  • 75g sifted icing sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested

Method

  1. Make sure you eggs and butter are both room temperature before you start.
  2. Pre heat the oven 180 C / 160 C fan / Gas 4. Lightly grease and line the base of two 18cm (7 in) loose bottomed tins.
  3. Gently mix your dry ingredients – the flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest into the mixer bowl and mix to create a smooth batter.
  4. Add your wet ingredients – butter, eggs and finally lemon juice.
  5. Evenly distribute the batter between the tins, level with a spatula and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. While the cake is baking make the lemon drizzle syrup. Put the granulated sugar into a bowl, add the lemon juice and mix together to create the syrup.
  7. Once the cake is cooked remove from the oven and place the tins onto cooling racks. Select the best cake for the top tier and drizzle with the lemon sugar syrup. Leave the cakes to cool before removing from their tins and remove the base and lining paper, return to the cooling racks.
  8. For the buttercream icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the butter, lemon zest and about 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Beat the ingredients to create a stiff cream; add more lemon juice in small quantities to slacken the cream until it is smooth and pliable enough to spread.
  9. We tried a “naked cake” effect.  To do this – evenly spread the lemon buttercream onto the bottom cake.  Make sure it spills out over the sides. Add your top layer and gently spread the buttercream to the sides.  Keep going until the bottom and sides are somewhat covered.  Then add buttercream to the top tier. It’s much easier then it sounds and there are some brilliant “how to-“ videos on YouTube.
  10. Decorate the cake!  Maggie LOVES unicorns and I found some great DIY Unicorn festive kits on Amazon.
  11. Enjoy!

 

Love, Jess

❤️

 

Adorable Cloud Macarons

I don’t know about you guys but I’m a sucker for a Wedding, Christening, a Welcome party, Baby gender reveal party and any other joyous family occasion. I love them!

But I’m a wreck. Generally before, during and after the event.

I used to be more cynical, but since kids I can often be seen ugly crying at your events. Soz.

Our best friend sang. I cried. Photo cred: Matilda Söderström

Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, maybe it’s the hormone, maybe it’s the wine, I don’t know, but it just gets me.

Father dancing with daughter – I cry. Photo montage – I cry.

Mum speech – I cry.

Poem readings – I cry.

Puppies or babies – I cry.

Recently we celebrated our youngest addition, baby Laban, to our extended family tree. It was a wonderful party with family and friends with lots of tears (obvs) and laughter.

Camilla, my niece, bestie and Laban’s mother, is a fantastic baker and she made these adorable cloud macarons that I just had to share!

Here is the recipe:

170 g icing sugar

110 g sifted almond flour

90 g egg whites (about 3)

2 tablespoons sugar

For the Passion fruit filling:

125 g white chocolate

50 g passion fruit purée

2 teaspoons of honey

2 tablespoons double cream

Preheat your oven to 125. Sift and then mix the almond flour and icing sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites. Top tip: Make sure the bowl is clean and dry beforehand!

Add the sugar and keep whipping until smooth and glossy.

Now carefully add the almond flour and icing sugar and the food colouring (if you’re using it).

Mix until the mixture is smooth and lumpfree.

Top tip!

1. Prep your baking sheet and make sure you’ve marked the size and shape of your macaron beforehand – it’ll make it super easy and straightforward to pipe your macaroons later.

2. Have a little bowl with water next to your baking sheet for dipping your finger and gently pressing down the “ends” with!

Now pipe your macarons onto a baking sheet. Let the macarons rest 45 minutes.

Bake for about 20 minutes in the lower part of your oven.

One way of knowing they’re done is to gently lift one and if you can easily remove it from the baking paper then you’re done.

Let your macaroons cool completely.

For the filling:

Break down the chocolate into smaller pieces.

Weigh the passionfruit purée.

Heat the chocolate and passion fruit gently in pan.

Stir gently from time to time. The filling is done when the white chocolate has melted completely and the filling is smooth and glossy.

Now add your food colouring and set the mixture in your fridge for at least two hours.

Once set and you’re happy with the mixture its ready to be piped in between your macarons.

Happy Cloud

Enjoy! ❤️

Love, Jess

Syltgrottor/Thumbprint cookies

I love baking and my kids love baking.

I don’t however always love baking with the kids. Often it can be stressful, messy and chaotic.

But it CAN be enjoyable. What you need is some fool proof easy recipes and you’ll be ready for anything. Well, most things.

I go for recipes that are straightforward and that requires some kind of decorating part later. Kids are particularly ace at this part!

(Unless you’re a perfectionist like me and do find it mildly stressful too. You learn to breathe through it.)

I recently found this recipe in a Swedish magazine and it’s a winner. It’s definitely fool proof and your cookies will always turn out well! Your kids will love making these too, adding the jam and whatnot.

So as part of my Swedish, easy to make, kid friendly recipes, I’m going to kick things off with Syltgrottor (I hear they’re similar to Thumbprint cookies? Can anyone confirm?) .

Syltgrottor are a mixture between a shortbread and a Viennese type biscuit.

This recipe is a winner, and has never let me down.

***The key here is to not overwork the dough and chilling the dough before baking***

• 4 1/2 dl flour

• 1 dl caster sugar

• 1 tsp bakingpowder

• 2 tsp vanilla extract

• 200 g butter (room temp)

For the filling:

Your favourite type of jam. Recently we used Cloudberry and Wild Strawberry jam.

Recipe:

Turn your oven to 200°C. (180c if fan assisted)

Cream your butter and sugar. Once creamed, add your vanilla extract. Mix your dry ingredients in separate bowl.

Now quickly mix the ingredients until it all just comes together. (Don’t overwork the mixture!)

Let your dough rest in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.

Roll the dough into a cylinder and then pinch off and roll each small piece, (about the size of a walnut), into small balls.

Now place the gently into fairy cake tins. Make a hole in the cookie using your thumb and add your jam. Pop into your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.

Take the cookies out and let them cool on a cooling rack.

Enjoy. ❤️

Love, Jess

Walnut and Coffee Birthday Cake

We had an amazing day yesterday celebrating Brooks’ birthday.

We ventured to a new restaurant at The Grove, Hertfordshire on the Saturday (a review to follow) and on the Sunday was spent in our local park.

All in all – a lovely birthday weekend.

We’re so lucky to live in the beautiful countryside with so many parks and lakes nearby. We used to live in London for years, but once we had Jackson we decided to move further out.

It’s honestly been the best decision for us as a family. (Albeit I miss London terribly of course! Luckily it’s only a 20 minute train ride away!)

Anyway. Cake.

I tried a new cake recipe! Brooks’ favourite cake is Coffee and Walnut cake so that’s what I made. The result was super tasty and I’ve shared the recipe here:

Ingredients:

• 225g butter

• 225g caster sugar

• 4 eggs

• 50ml strong espresso coffee

• 225g self-raising flour

• about 75g walnuts

For the buttercream topping

• 125g unsalted butter (room temperature)

• 200g icing sugar

• 50ml strong espresso coffee

Decorations:

Walnut halves and any chocolate bars you like. I used Wispas, Mini Fudges, Minstrels, Ballerina cookies (Swedish cookies – similar to a Chocolate Jammy Dodger), Mini Reese’s Cups, KitKat.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

2. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until very light and pale.

3. Add the eggs one at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well to completely incorporate each egg before adding the next egg.

4. Add the espresso to the mixture and stir well.

5. Add the flour and walnuts and stir well to completely combine.

6. Spoon the cake mixture into two lined and greased 20cm/8in cake tins.

7. Transfer to the oven to bake 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the cake is golden-brown.

8. Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

9. For the buttercream topping, beat the butter and icing sugar together in a small bowl until pale and light.

10. Add the espresso and mix well.

11. Spread the buttercream over the top of each cake, then place one cake on top of the other.

12. Decorate the top of the cake with walnut halves as well as all the favourite chocolate bars!

Last Day of Christmas

Happy New Year!

I took some time off writing to focus on our family. Hope you all enjoyed the holidays.

Growing up, on the last day of Christmas, we’d always go to the “Julgransplundring” – or Christmastree plunder – generally organised by our local church.

We’d dance around the tree, sing songs and eventually take the tree and all the decorations down, eat Christmas food, drink and be merry.

Any edible decoration found on the Christmas tree was game, and often there was loads hidden in the Christmas crackers.

(In Sweden we place our homemade crackers in between the tree branches. We normally fill them with sweets and small gifts.)

At home we’d also have a final Christmas feast; using up any frozen leftovers and some extra bits.

We’d smash the Gingerbread house and have that for dessert along with whatever mum had baked such as cinnamon buns and saffron buns.

What I love the most about the tradition is that it makes something that it’s rather tedious, like taking the tree and all the Christmas decorations down, fun and exciting for all the family. In fact, I’m pretty sure why we do this.

We somehow keep some of the Christmas magic going AND get help from the kids. Win win.

We had a lovely day yesterday. Maggie and I baked cinnamon buns and saffron buns and I prepared a Christmas feast comprising a chicken roast with all the trimmings as well as Jansson’s frestelse, beetroot salad, prinskorv and herring.

We have one more day off before school so we’re off down to the lakes for a quick stroll with our friends.

2019 is going to be a great year.

Edible Christmas Tree

Everyone loves a Christmas film don’t they?

But what I really look forward to is the Christmas cooking programmes. I’ve watched them all; Delia, Nigella, Jamie and Gordon – and I love them all. This year I’ve been watching Mary Berry’s Christmas Party; it’s brilliant.

And who knew there was so many ways to prepare roast potatoes?!

Anyway. Something that Nigella said in one of her Christmas specials (whilst preparing six individual poussins. As you do.), was about having people over at Christmas. She was reminiscing about her mother getting hysterical about mass catering.

“I don’t want to make myself miserable trying to keep everyone else happy. Food has to be really great to eat. But above easy on me.”

I’m with you there Nigella. We’re having people over at Christmas and I want to make tasty, yet easy to make food.

I saw an edible Christmas Tree recipe online recently and had to try it. (Honestly, any recipe with the words puff pastry, chocolate and cinnamon in it and I’m all over it).

This. Is. A. Winner.

I don’t know if I can call it a recipe, I mean it’s so easy to make! Give it a go and let me know what you think.

Here’s the recipe:

You’ll need:

2 x sheets of puff pastry

Chocolate spread

Cinnamon

Caster Sugar

100g good quality dark chocolate

1 beaten egg (for the eggwash)

Sharp knife of pizza slicer

1. Put your puff pastry on an oven tray and using your sharp knife of pizza slice cut out a Christmas Tree.

2. Lift off one of the sheets of puff pastry and put it to one side.

3. Take your chocolate spread and dollop the spread over the sheet on the oven tray. Spread it out evenly.

4. Lay the other sheet over the other and brush with egg-wash.

5. Sprinkle a good amount (about a tablespoon) of the cinnamon sugar on top.

6. Pop it into your oven for about 18 minutes.

7. Once your Christmas tree is in the oven take out your chopped chocolate. You can either heat in the microwave or over a pot of boiling water on the stove. Just make sure you don’t burn the chocolate.

8. Once out and cooled a little bit sprinkle some icing sugar on top.

9. Serve straight away

Enjoy.❤️

Love, Jess