National baking week with Tesco
This week is national baking week, and to celebrate we got Sophie to try out some of Tesco’s Halloween bakes in preparation for Halloween on the 31st.
Here is how she got on:
I started by looking through the recipes on Tesco’s website to pick out some of the Halloween bakes they had.
One thing I thought was great about the variety was that some of the recipes involved already baked cakes, meaning all you need to worry about is the decoration (perfect for busy family life).
Here is an example of a ready made, ready to decorate recipe:
Dreadful drip cake
This easy Halloween cake recipe is ideal for a last-minute party as it’s simply a matter of decorating two ready-made Victoria sponge cakes with black icing and this slimy white chocolate ‘drip’. The black and green icings create a dramatic effect that guests will love, and it tastes delicious too.
- 2 Tesco Finest Victoria sponges
- 150g unsalted butter
- 300g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 2 x 250g packs ready-to-roll black icing
- For the drip icing
- 300g white chocolate, finely chopped
- 150ml double cream
- 1 x 10g tube green gel food colour
- Put 1 sponge cake on a 22cm cake board (see Tip below to cover the board with icing). Cut around the other sponge so it has a diameter of 10cm and set to one side. To make the buttercream, put the butter in a bowl and gradually beat in the icing sugar until combined. Spread the buttercream over both sponges (keeping them separate) to cover and smooth with a palette knife.
- To cover the large cake with the black icing, roll out a 17cm circle on nonstick baking paper (you will need about 120g of icing for this). Brush very sparingly with a little cold water. Place on top of the cake, wet side down, and trim away any overhang, reserving the trimmings. Measure the height and circumference of the cake and roll enough icing to create a rectangle of that size. Brush it very sparingly with water and stick the wet side to the side of the cake. Smooth the sides gently with a plastic cake smoother or your hands. Repeat with the remaining black icing to cover the small cake, making a 10cm circle for the top.
- Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a pan over a medium heat until bubbles just begin to form, then pour over the chocolate in the bowl and stir. Leave to cool for 5 mins, then stir in food colour until smooth and bright green. Leave to cool to almost room temperature.
- Pour or pipe the green icing onto the cakes, letting it drip down the sides. Leave to set slightly, then put the smaller sponge on top. Use a skewer to hold the cakes in place, if necessary.
Tip: To cover the cake board, roll out an extra 250g black icing and stick it on with icing sugar mixed with water. Trim, leave to dry, then place the cake on top. To cut icing cleanly, use a pizza cutter and ruler.
But.. seeing at its national baking week I thought I had better choose some recipes that include actual baking. So, I chose to bake the red velvet broken glass cupcakes (without the glass, will explain later) and Spooky gingerbread men.
I started by heading to Tesco and picking up all the ingredients I needed:
Then I started with the cupcakes.
I followed the recipe… almost completely. But I did end up putting a bit of red food colouring into the cake mix to make extra red!
The recipe was really easy to follow, and they rose really well (I did get uneven cupcakes, but that was my lack of dividing skills).
To decorate I also changed the recipe slightly as I figured red food colouring would be just as good as the frozen raspberries, albeit slightly less healthy.
I mixed the icing together and then piped it on with a spiral effect, and then mixed the red food colouring with a bit of icing sugar and water and the dripped it over the icing to make the blood effect.
Now…about the glass shards. Unfortunately it would appear that at the time of shopping for the ingredients EVERYWHERE was out of clear mints. So these cupcakes had to go without the exciting centrepieces.
Here is what they should have looked like (along with the recipe):
- 250g (8oz) plain flour
- 40g (1 1/2oz) cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 150g (5oz) caster sugar
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- 200ml (1/3pt) milk
- 250g (8oz) cooked beetroot, grated
- 90g (3 1/4oz) butter, softened
- 200g icing sugar, sifted
- 200g (7oz) lighter cream cheese
- 2 x 200g packs clear mints
- 200g (7oz) fresh or frozen raspberries
- Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Beat together the eggs, caster sugar, sunflower oil and milk, and then mix in the grated beetroot. Fold the wet mixture into the dry ingredients.
- Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes, until springy to the touch. Allow to cool.
- While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Beat together the butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy then fold in the cream cheese. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
- For the ‘broken glass’, unwrap the mints and put into a heavy based pan. Heat over a very gentle heat until melted, then pour onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper and allow to harden. Break gently with the end of a rolling pin to create the effect of broken glass. To make the ‘blood’, push the raspberries through a sieve and discard the seeds.
- To assemble, spread the frosting over each cupcake, push a few bits of ‘broken glass’ into each one and finally drizzle with a little of the raspberry purée.
I then went on to make the spooky gingerbread men.
When following this recipe I didn’t end up using a food processor, simply because I don’t own one, but found when the butter was soft enough I had no problem hand mixing. It probably took a little longer than it would have done, but I got the same outcome eventually.
Also, when cutting out the shapes I re-discovered a tiny cat cutter that I had stored away, so used the offcuts to make little black cats.
The cooking instructions said 10-12 minutes, but I actually found that it took about 13/14 minutes (although that is most likely down to my oven’s performance).
Once they were all cooked I set them aside for about 20 minutes and then started decorating.
To decorate the cats, I rolled out ready made black icing, and used the same cat cutter to cut out the shape. I then used a little icing sugar to stick the icing to the gingerbread, and used some yellow food colouring and icing sugar to create yellow eyes (this was more difficult than I anticipated, and ended up with lots of cross-eyed and one eyed cats).
For the gingerbread men I made icing out of icing sugar and water, and used a piping bag to decorate. If I was doing this over, I would have bought the icing pens that come with smaller nibs as I struggled slightly with neatness as the hole I was piping through was a bit too large.
Here is how they ended up looking (whoops):
And here is how they are supposed to look, along with the recipe:
- 350g (12oz) plain flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 125g (4oz) butter, cubed
- 175g (6oz) light muscovado sugar
- 1 egg
- 4 tbsp golden syrup
- decorations, such as writing icing, royal icing, coloured pearls, mini razzle dazzles and mocha beansMethod
- Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Line two baking trays with nonstick baking paper. In a food processor, mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon. Add the butter and pulse until it has been incorporated. Add the sugar and pulse a further 3-4 times.
- In a bowl, whisk together the egg and golden syrup with a fork. Pour it into the food processor and whizz until the mixture comes together in sticky clumps. (Alternatively, put the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers. Mix in the remaining ingredients with a wooden spoon, before bringing the gingerbread dough together by hand.) Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in clingfilm; chill for 30 minutes.
- On a large sheet of lightly floured, nonstick baking paper, roll out half the dough to roughly the thickness of a pound coin. Using a 14cm gingerbread man cutter, stamp out 7 shapes. Arrange on one of the prepared trays and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Once the biscuits have cooled, add sugar decorations and icing in the design of your choosing. Leave to set before serving.
On reflection, I found both of these recipes really easy to follow and enjoyed creating these bakes. But… if I was to be creating any of these Halloween treats for family and friends for a party, I would most definitely but the cakes ready to decorate. This is purely because I do not have massive faith in my baking abilities, and would be much happier serving up something I know if of a high standard, rather than risking a bad bake.