Jolly Gingerbread 

Another Bake Off challenge, but instead of building a structure with gingerbread, we decided to make cookies instead. We used the recipe from Rosie Daykin’s “Butter Celebrates” because it is easier for us to use a Canadian recipe, and her little guys looked super cute. 

Melt 1/2 molasses/treacle, 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp ground ginger in a double boiler/ bain marie. Add 1/2 tsp baking soda and stir. Remove the bowl from the heat when it bubbles. 

Put 3/4 cup room temperature butter in the bowl of a mixer and pour the molasses mixture over. Mix on medium until everything is blended and has cooled down a bit. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, and mix between each one. Slowly add 3 3/4 cups all purpose/plain flour. We had at least 1/4 cup flour left and the dough was very dry. I added some water to it. 

Roll out the dough to 1/4″ thick. Cut out whatever shapes you like. 

Bake at 350F for 10 minutes or more if you like them crunchy. Cool completely before icing.

 We used Royal icing. 

We waited until my friend came for a cup of tea before we tried them. Three thumbs up! They are really tasty, soft and not too sweet. Then I sent some to our neighbours and we still have lots. We made about 24 shapes. Apparently, they will keep for two weeks in an airtight container. 

If these don’t cheer you up with their bright colours and fun shapes, then I don’t know what would🙂

Happy baking!

Cheryl and Becky 

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If I remember correctly, only one person got this Technical Challenge right on the GBBO. This is Paul Hollywood’s Focaccia. It looks simple enough but the dough was tricky to work with. Take 500g bread flour, add 2 sachets of instant yeast and salt. Add 2 tbsp olive oil and 300ml cool water. Make a dough. Slowly add another 100ml water to the dough. This water made the dough, wet and lumpy. It really looked like a disaster. Anyway, we kept stretching and folding with a bit of oil on our hands until it looked a bit better. Then we kneaded as normal. Hey, presto! We had a smooth, light dough. We covered it and let it rise for about 2 hours. 

We cut it in half and put one half in a bag in the freezer. The other half was pressed into a 30cm x 20cm baking tin, which we don’t have here, so we used the next size up. 

The recipe said to leave it to rise uncovered. I don’t think that was a great idea as it formed a skin and didn’t rise very much in almost 2 hours. Sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt. Bake at 220C/425F for 25 minutes. I checked at 20 minutes and it was well done. It didn’t look that good but we cut it open anyway. 

Surprisingly, it looked pretty good inside. We grabbed some balsamic vinegar, olive oil and some cheese and dug in. It tasted really delicious! It was light and spongy. 

I think we would make this again because we really like these kinds of meals. It was way better than store bought focaccia even though we thought it hadn’t risen very much. I would maybe make it into a smaller shape and cover it for at least half of the second rise. 

Happy baking!

Cheryl and Becky 

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Nutella Meringues 

This is Bake Off challenge number 25. We were going to make simple meringues from one of the Bake Off cookbooks until we saw this recipe for Baci Meringues! This recipe is from “Meringue” by Linda K Jackson and Jennifer Evans Gardner. We made 10 meringues with 1 egg white and a quarter cup of sugar. How amazing is that?! 

Beat 2 Egg whites with a tiny amount of cream of tartar to soft peaks. Slowly add 1cup sugar while beating. Beat on high until peaks are stiff. You can stir in 1 1/2 cups of ground hazelnuts and 1 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa. We don’t have easy access to hazelnuts and we wanted to make a small amount so we left them out. Adjust the sugar level to half if you do that. 

If you feel like being fancy you can use an icing bag to pipe swirls onto baking parchment. The recipe just says to use a teaspoon which we did. Make sure the parchment paper is on a baking sheet and bake at 200F for 90 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in there until cool.

Spread with yummy Nutella! 

These are so good! Light as air and full of chocolatey nutty flavour. 

Happy baking!

Cheryl and Becky 

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Chickpea, Spinach & Mushroom Wellington 

This recipe comes from the GBBO Showstoppers book. The recipe covers two pages, which I am not going to reproduce here. This is a puff pastry recipe which we have not used until now. 

First you make a duxelles. Becky chopped an onion, a clove of garlic and 1/2 lb mushrooms in the food processor. Then she fried the mixture in some butter over a low heat and when it was cooked and dry she put it to one side to cool. 

At the same time, I made 3 herb pancakes/crepes from eggs, flour, milk and chopped parsley and thyme. At this point I could happily have filled the crepes with the duxelles, poured a bernaise sauce over the lot and baked it.  Yum! But we didn’t. We covered everything and left it to cool. 

Then we went to see Trolls.

Once we were home I made the filling with onion, garlic, red pepper, spinach and chickpeas. The recipe called for chili paste, which I’ve never heard of, so I used some chipotle and Harissa. Then you add lemon juice, yogurt and tahini or lemon juice, sour cream and peanut butter. 

Leave it to cool while you have a cup of tea or coffee. 

Then you start building. 

Roll it up and put it in the fridge while you roll out the puff pastry. Then you put your pancake roll in the centre of the pastry. Brush the edges with egg whites and roll up. Put in the fridge for an hour. 

Cut some vents in the top, brush with egg whites and bake at 220C/425F for 50 minutes. I checked ours at 38 minutes and took it out after 40 minutes. 

We both went, “Wow” when we tasted this recipe. This really is a showstopper that can be made on any of the family holidays or for a special dinner. 

Happy baking!

Cheryl and Becky 

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Leek and Cheese Pie

Number 23 of our Bake Off challenges was going to be Stilton, Potato and Caramelised Onion Pie from “GBBO How To Bake” book. We switched it to a Leek and Cheese Pie from “Real Irish Food” by David Bowers. 

Rub 150g/ 1/2 cup butter into 200g/ 2 cups plain/all purpose flour with 1 tsp salt. When it looks like crumbs add 1 egg yolk and 1-3 tbsp cold water and form a dough. Chill for 30 minutes. Peel and chop 2 medium potatoes and boil until cooked. Keep some of the cooking water. 

Slice 2 large leeks and sautĂ© in butter until soft. 

Add 2 tbsp flour and stir till combined. Then add 300 ml milk. Cook while stirring until the sauce thickens. Add 2 cups grated cheddar cheese. I think the weight depends on the cheese, probably around 150g. Season and add some nutmeg or chopped rosemary. Add the potatoes and a little of the cooking water. 

Now you can roll out half the pastry for a 9″ pie dish. Add the filling. Roll out the other half for the top. Crimp the edges, put two or more slits in the top, and brush with egg white. Bake at 180C/350F for 50-60 minutes. 

Becky and I have made this pie before and we are always impressed by it. We usually have it with a salad. 

This took two hours from start to finish. Why I decided to start at 4:30 pm I don’t know, but it was a perfect meal on a cold November night. 

Happy baking!

Cheryl and Becky 

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Colours of Nature 

This is a small friendship garden in the centre of Mississauga. It’s named after our twin city Kariya, Japan. 

Becky went to stay with her Dad for a night. She had a stressful week and needed a break. I took the opportunity to go for a relaxing walk. 

It’s like entering another world…

As you can see, we still have a lot of colour on the trees. The Japanese Maples were stunning!

Later that day I also went for a walk along the shore of Lake Ontario to chase the sunset. 

I love to walk and feel lucky to have so many beautiful places to go. I hope you all had a relaxing weekend. 


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Lemon Buns 

Here is another wonderful recipe from Paul Hollywood’s book “British Baking”. This is a recipe from Yorkshire and includes dried fruit. The buns that were sold near us, back in north Birmingham, had no fruit in them, but were iced and filled with lemon curd and chantilly cream. They were sold out before 10 am every single day! I love lemon buns. 

Put 400g of bread flour in a bowl and add 5g salt, 40g sugar, 2 x 7g sachets instant yeast, and 40g butter, diced and softened. Mix 120ml milk and slowly add 120ml water until you have a sticky dough. We didn’t use all the water. Turn out the dough onto an oiled surface and knead for at least 5 minutes or till the dough becomes smooth and is not sticky. Cover and leave to rise until doubled in size. We only made half the recipe as this amount makes 10 buns. This  dough can also be used for Devonshire Splits. 

Now you can add 100g candied lemon or 100g sultanas which are more traditional. We added raisins. Roll into a log and cut into 10 pieces. 

Roll each piece into a ball and place on a baking tray close together. Cover and leave to rise for 40 minutes until doubled in size. I checked ours after 30 minutes and they were a little over done. They were starting to go flat. Bake at 220C/425F for 15-20 minutes. This seemed very hot for buns so I checked at 13 minutes and they were quite brown. I think 400F would make more sense for the noted cooking time. 

Let them cool and then you can ice them. Mix 200g icing sugar with juice of 1 lemon, or wing it like we did because we only wanted to ice 2 buns. Dip the tops of the buns in the thick icing. See how long you can wait before eating them. We managed a whopping 5 minutes! 

They were good🙂

These simple treats are low fat and low sugar, and yet they feel like you’re eating something really special. Give them a go. 

Happy baking!

Cheryl and Becky 

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