Gingerbread cookie kits

 

P1110475

 

This past Christmas we decided to make up gifts for some of Munchkin’s teachers at garderie and for a few friends. I wanted to steer clear of mason jars as, honestly, I’m a little over them. I love them as vases etc, but they’re everywhere now. I decided to come up with something a little different.

I selected a recipe (Liberty London Girls fabulous gingerbread cookies – you can find my adapted GF version here) and I got to working out how to package it. Only problem was, this recipe required wet ingredients and a number of steps of different dry ingredients. Logically I probably should have found a different recipe. But I was determined.

 

P1110458

 

So I found some cellophane bags and some little zip lock ones. Weighed out all the ingredients and packaged them up. This was the result. My husband thought it looked hilarious and advised it looked like I was giving out illicit drugs. And the mixed up spice mix looked hideous!

 

P1110284

 

I’d picked up a few other bits and bobs to put into the gift bags. Jars of sugar pearls and some sweet little Christmas decorations. I decided to fill the Christmas ornament with little packets of sugar pearls and sprinkles, you can find the tutorial on how I put them together here.

 

P1110294

 

But overall it still looked a bit boring. So I designed a wrapper and stickers to make it all a bit more cohesive. I’ve included the design for the wrappers and stickers in a PDF for you to download below. One is Christmas themed and the other has a little gingerbread man on the front – so easily used for any reason, not just the festive season!

So to make them up, you need:

  • An A3 print of the pdf template on normal printer weight paper
  • Some adhesive (I use double-sided tape, but you could easily use any form of paper glue)
  • Optional: I printed the numbered stickers onto adhesive labels and cut them out, rather than use glue
  • Two 18×30 cm cellophane bags
  • One 75 x 90 mm zip log bag
  • A jar that holds 100 ml (I purchased mine from the jam making section in my local grocery store)
  • Oh and the ingredients for the cookies!

 

P1110368

 

Weigh out your ingredients. Note: This recipe omits the lemon rind from the original.

For jar number one – weigh out:

  • 1.5 tablespoons of treacle (33 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons of golden syrup (63 grams
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

And don’t stir it up! It looks like delicious smelling mud if you do so. Put the spices on the top, and I suggest adding the treacle to the bottom (as it is heaviest and will settle on the bottom anyway I learned this the hard way)

 

P1110376

 

In packet number two weigh out 115 grams of brown sugar into one of your 18x30cm cellophane bags and seal up with tape. I was unable to find brown sugar without resorting to mail order in Switzerland and so substituted raw sugar.

In packet number three put 3/4 of a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda into the small ziplock bag.

Into packet number four weigh out 335 grams of flour (use GF flour mix and add the guar gum to this packet if you’re making up the gluten-free version).

 

P1110345

To make the packets, cut out the templates provided.

 

P1110349

And lightly score along the faint dotted lines. This makes it much easier to fold the packet and to get a neat finish.

Roll and glue down the side seam marked on the template to create a paper ‘tube’.

 

P1110351

Fold in the sides of the bottom as shown.

 

P1110355

And on the under flap (the one without a logo) fold the top under about 1 centimeter. This makes it much easier to assemble.

 

P1110419

Add double-sided tape or glue to the logo flap and stick down as shown above. You’ll need to put your hand into the packet to push down the two inside flaps created.

 

P1110362

Then add the numbered stickers to your packets.

 

P1110379

Place packets 2, 4 and four into the paper wrapper.

 

P1110423

Fold the top of the bag at the light score marks and roll the top of the bag down, glueing it into place. And you’re done!

 

P1110386

Read more

Fresh flowers & bees; a 1st birthday cake

 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 
A few weeks ago we celebrated Munchkin’s first birthday with two splendid parties. For the first I made a Miffy themed birthday cake and for the second, we went with a fresh flowers and bees theme. For each cake, I made up a gluten-free vanilla butter-cake with a swiss meringue buttercream. Once you taste Swiss meringue buttercream, no frosting will ever taste as good! It’s silky smooth and, due to the addition of the egg white, is not as heavy or sweet as a traditional buttercream frosting.

I figured, if Munchkin was going to have her first cake, it should be a good one!
 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 
For the bee themed party, I made a naked cake decorated with a wild array of flowers. All designed to be perfectly imperfect! This went against the grain a little, as I love a perfect, smooth finish. At one point, just as the urge to ‘fix’ the cake became overwhelming, my husband took it away from me and demanded I not touch it again! At the time, I found this extremely frustrating. But looking back at the photos, I love it. It was just what I wanted.
 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 
I made up a whole heap of little bees with modelling chocolate and put them on floristry wire, then nestled them in amongst the cake and the flower arrangements.

To arrange the flowers, I wrapped each stem in multiple layers of floristry tape and pushed them into a 1cm thick disk of modelling chocolate that was set on top of the frosted cake.

Then, I added on simple little white candle. And it was finished! I adore the result. What do you think?
 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 

BASIC BUTTER CAKE

For Munchkin’s birthday cake, I made three batches of the butter cake (and the swiss meringue buttercream). One for each tier, and baked it in a 28cm diameter tin.

 

Ingredients

 

  • 125 grams of unsalted butter
  • 150 grams of caster sugar
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 210 grams of Schar Patisserie mix C or your preferred gluten-free flour mix
  • 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 130 ml of milk

 

Method
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Lightly butter and flour baking tin.
  2. Cream butter, sugar and until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at at time, beating well after each.
  4. Add sifted flour alternatively with milk until just combined.
  5. Spread into a prepared pan. This quantity fills: 2x 18cm shallow cake pans or one deep.
  6. When skewer comes out of cake clean, it’s cooked (approximately 40 minutes). If you’re cooking your cake in a thin layer like I did, it will only take about 12 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning out on wire rack to cool completely.

 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

 

Ingredients
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 150 grams of caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 260 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes

 

Method
      1. Place egg whites, sugar and a pinch of salt into a heat proof bowl and place it over a saucepan of simmering water. Ensure that the water doesn’t touch the  bottom of the bowl. Whisk the mixture over the simmering water until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot to the touch.
      2. Remove the bowl from heat and using an electric mixer, beat until the mixture is cool, fluffy and glossy. At this point your mixture should be able to form stiff peaks. This takes about 10 minutes.
      3. Add the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Mixing well after each addition until all of the butter has been added and your buttercream is smooth.

 

First birthday cake - fresh flowers, modelling chocolate bees

 

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

 

One of the most talked about parts of Munchkin’s birthday party were the cookies we gave away as gifts. My wonderfully talented friend Nikki from Toute Sweet took some time out with her friend Summer from The Sweet Life, who is also a very talented cookie decorator, to make these stunning cookies.

I adapted Nikki’s sugar cookie recipe (gifted to me at Christmas with a bottle of her delicious homemade vanilla essence) and baked a batch of cookies. She then took my gift box template design (more info on those in the next few weeks) and garnered inspiration from this amazing cookie design to come up with these!  They fit the theme, invitations and gift boxes perfectly.

 

Munchkin's first birthday

 

Unfortunately I couldn’t get them wrapped and into the boxes without damaging some of the wings as they sit up from the cookie; and so decided to wrap them loosely in cellophane bags and to gift them separately. But this worked splendidly as it gave everyone ample opportunity to have a good look at them. They’re just beautiful!

Here’s the adapted recipe, for those of you who like me, love sugar cookies but can’t eat them due to health reasons. The cookies are slightly more crumbly than a normal glutenous sugar cookie, but when they were fresh out of the oven had a lovely snap! Just keep them in an air tight container and they should maintain their crispness.

 

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

 

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

 

Ingredients
  • 500 grams of unsalted butter
  • 40 grams of caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 15ml of vanilla essence
  • 700 grams of Schaer patisserie mix C or your preferred gluten-free flour mix
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

 

Method
  • Cream the butter and sugar together.
  • Add eggs and vanilla, beating well after each addition.
  • Sift all of the dry ingredients together.
  • Add the flour mixture slowly, until well combined. But try to avoid over-mixing.
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for half an hour.
  • Roll cooled dough between pieces of baking paper. I used 3mm rolling guides to ensure an even thickness.
  • Place in the freezer for half an hour, ensuring it’s flat.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  • Taking the rolled from the freezer, quickly cut out into the shapes you want, lying out on new pieces of baking paper. And place cookies back into the freezer for ten minutes.
  • Take cookies directly from the freezer and place in the oven. The baking of frozen cookies ensures that they keep their shape and don’t spread. The batch I didn’t freeze spread more than I was happy with.
  • Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until edges are a light golden brown.
  • Take the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray, don’t try to remove them from the baking paper until cooled or they’ll crumble. The cookies become much firmer as they cool.
  • Decorate to your hearts desire!

 

 

Gift box photo by Hayley Hay

Munchkin’s first, first birthday party

Munchkin's first first birthday

Munchkin’s birthday isn’t for nine days, but her grandparents are here in Switzerland at the moment. So we decided to have a little party before the big one with friends next weekend. It just so happened to coincide with Australian Father’s Day, so we’ve had double the reason to celebrate!

Munchkin's first first birthday

I made a little gluten-free, organic, vanilla butter cake made with rapadura sugar and swiss meringue buttercream. Then I topped it with a Miffy plaque and candle I’d made out of modelling chocolate. Munchkin adores books and Miffy is currently one of her favourites.

Munchkin's first first birthday

For decoration I bought a couple of helium filled balloons and a cute little number one that were all anchored with some streamers.

So Munchkin, after her nap, was greeted with this… (along with four very excited family members)

Munchkin's first first birthday

She loved it!

Munchkin's first first birthday

After the prerequisite off-key singing, Munchkin was presented with her first ever piece of cake.

Munchkin's first first birthday

Devoured with almost no mess, I’m assuming this means it was liked!

Munchkin's first first birthday

Our little party was perfect and we’ve had a gorgeous day!
I’ve now got to get back to work for next weeks party!

 

Gluten-free in and around Lausanne

gluten-free-celiac-disease

 

Hello all! Just a quick heads up. If you don’t live in (or have an intention to visit) Lausanne in Switzerland and have an intolerance to gluten this post is probably not going to be of any interest to you. So maybe go grab a coffee and I’ll see you soon! I’ve a cook cake box tutorial I’ll post just as soon as I can.

However if you do live in Canton Vaud and are intolerant to gluten, or have a loved one who is… this may be of interest.

One of the most common email requests I’ve been getting is from lovely ladies and gents in Lausanne asking where to find gluten-free products. I’ve sent out an email list of my favourite places more times than I can count! So I’ve decided to post it here on the blog.

 

Cully

Cafe Sonja

Quite possibly the best gluten-free cakes, tarts, biscuits, chocolate eclairs and quiches I have ever had. The tea room is fabulous and their biscuits are now being stocked in Globus in Lausanne. In Winter, their hot chocolate is by far and away the most delicious and decadent experience I’ve had in Switzerland. And that’s saying something coming from a country where the main dish is steaming bowls of rich, hot cheese followed by double cream smothered meringues for dessert!

 

Morges

Laurent et Magalie

This recently opened health food store has a great selection of GF foods and cake/ biscuit mixes. Whilst not cheap, their Marlette cake mixes are the only ones I’ll use. They’re organic and delicious. They also stock Sonja-Sante breads and cookies. So definitely worth visiting if you’re in the neighbourhood.

  Read more