I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There are two types of people in the world – bakers and non-bakers. Bakers tend to be those with an eye for detail – the kind of people who are not at all fazed by recipes requiring “2.5 egg yolks”; who are willing to spend as much time frosting and decorating a christening cake as the child’s mother spent being pregnant; and who can write you a short essay on the relative merits of buttercream v ganache cake frosting. And then there are the rest of us – who are blissfully ignorant of the difference between (or even existence of) French and Italian meringue; who own digital scales but more often measure their dry ingredients in cups because they are too lazy to take out the scale; or who believe that if God had intended us to make our own puff pastry She would not have allowed the invention of ready-rolled puff pastry.
Oops - have I said too much??
That’s not to say that I *never* bake – it’s just that when I bake, I tend to stick to fairly straightforward projects when I do (I can safely say you will never see a croquembouche coming out of my kitchen!). So why did I find myself a week or so ago baking cookies from a book filled with the kind of meticulous baking that I usually never do? Because the book in question was written by a good friend and fellow-blogger Sarah of Maison Cupcake! Sarah is ten times the baker I’ll ever be and last year she published an adorable little book called Bake Me, I’m yours - sweet bitesize bakes ,a collection of 25 recipes for bite-sized baked goods for all ages and levels of baking expertise to enjoy. The book opens with a photo and explanation of all the basic equipment that you will need for the baking projects – a list that serves as a great guide for anybody looking to kit out their kitchen for baking. This is followed by a section of basic recipes that are used as the basis of more complicated projects later in the book; and then a series of specialist chapters on fondant fancies, mini cupcakes, cute cookies, little tiers, and petit fours.
The books is small – not exactly pocket-sized, but petite as befits a book on bitesize bakes. I loved the girly styling and colour scheme of the book to – like a tea party in print format complete with bows and polka-dots. I enjoyed Sarah’s conversational style and the very clear step by step instructions that explain each recipe – particularly the photographs for the trickier projects like fondant roses. Apprehensive bakers like me will also like the fact that some of the recipes are simpler than they appear at first glance – mini Victoria sponges for example are cupcakes cut in half and sandwiched back together with jam. Clever! Most of all, i think novice bakers will like the fact that Sarah makes everything in the book seem eminently achievable rather than impossibly fiddly. This would make a fantastic gift for a newbie baker looking to expand their repetoire into miniature party bakes.
I played it safe and chose to make Sarah’s gingerbread cookies which were easy enough for a child to make and delicious enough for an adult to devour. If you want to give them a super-indulgent twist, sandwich 2 cookies with Nutella spread for an Easter treat.
- 100g unsalted butter
- 40g caster sugar
- 40 g soft brown sugar
- 72 g golden syrup (or treacle)
- 100g plain flour plus extra for rolling
- 3ml bicarbonate of soda
- 5ml ground ginger
- 2.5ml ground cinnamon
- Melt the butter, both sugars and golden syrup/treacle together in a medium-sized saucepan. When melted, set aside.
- Sift the flour and spiced together into a large bowl. Pour the melted butter and sugar mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well to form a dough.
- Knead the dough lightly (add a few drops of water if it is too dry to come together). Divide the dough in two, wrap each half in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes (do not leave it for longer as the dough hardens too much).
- Halfway through the chilling time, pre-heat the oven to 180C. Grease baking sheets and line them with baking paper (or skip the greasing and line them with silicone baking mats).
- Sprinkle a little flour on your work surface and on your rolling pin and roll out the first half of the dough to an even 5mm thickness. Cut out your cookies using shaped cookie cutters of your choice (I found these adorable Easter themed ones on Amazon). Place then 3-4cm apart on the baking sheet as they do spread while baking.
- Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
- TIP – for a sinful treat, use Nutella spread to turn these into chocolate-ginger sandwich cookies!