The Higgidy Cookbook

Quercus Books have just published The Higgidy Cookbook by Camilla Stephens. I bought it the day it came out and have drooled over the pages since. Now you’ve got a chance to do the same as I have a copy to give away.

The Higgidy Cookbook is full of recipes – 100 to be precise – for pies and so much more.While a few of the pies and tarts don’t have visuals, there’s a lot of end pictures in there – and where I’ve loved previous cookbooks for breaking down each process, for this one all you truly need to know is how to make a good pastry and a good filling and have the right guidance. This book does all that.

The Higgidy Cookbook is broken into sections – Simple Suppers, Party Pies, Quirky Quiches and Tempting Tarts, Pudding Pies and Sweet Treats, and Easy Extras & Perfect Pastry. On the last chapter we may have mistaken some Sticky Onions for Portugese Custard Tarts – they look pretty similar! (though obviously taste different)

Being one who doesn’t like to wait, tonight I decided to try one of the pies – the Strawberry and Apricot Freeform Tart – which starts with the most tempting of sentences:  ‘This is a great recipe for novice bakers and enthusiasts alike’ – plus it looks pretty awesome too.

The Higgidy Cookbook

Being as weight-conscious (and cost-conscious) as I am, I bought Sainsburys Basics strawberries (two packs, £1.50 each), a tin of Apricots (£1ish?) and added some dried ones. I still didn’t have enough fruit to make up the 500g I needed, so added two pears which worked.

Essentially, you make your pastry, leave it to chill for thirty minutes then roll out and put into a dish, bake for 45-50 minutes and voila, you have your dish.

I found the instructions really clear and simple to follow. We were missing one ingredient (cornflour) and I didn’t substitute with anything else which left the tart oozing with juice but not ruined which was a relief. H says “it’s the best tart ever” and Shaun thinks “it’s pretty awesome”. Me? I’m quite pleased it wasn’t a disaster in any way! The pastry was crispy and well cooked, the fruit warm and tangy. The best bit? You can use fruit which is going a bit soft for this too!

I was offered a chance to review The Higgidy Cookbook, but as I intended to anyway and bought it, I am instead offering the copy as a giveaway. Answer one simple question, then there’s a few additional things you can do via Rafflecopter to gain some extra entries. UK residents only please, and the closing date is two weeks today, the 8th October 2013.

All entries will be checked to make sure the rules were followed, as it’s unfair to say you’ve commented and to not leave one, and one winner will be sent a copy of The Higgidy Cookbook from the PR company. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make, Bake, Cupcake from Parragon’s Love Food Range

Make, Bake, Cupcake is a wonderful visual book of cupcake goodness. A treasure trove of all the cupcakes you’ve thought about baking made easy. Every page is a feast for the eyes, with straightforward instructions how to make your cake.

Make, Bake, Cupcake

Make, Bake, Cupcake is one of my favourite books right now. There are so many varieties of cupcake recipes in there – ice cream cones, squashed witches, brains, and the one we made last week, the Chocolate and Stout variety.

I really love how the book breaks down the kind of cupcakes into sections, so you can bake for an occasion – Cocktails and Mocktails, Feisty Flavours, Fun & Frosted, Scary Cute and Hidden Surprises. Each type of frosting has clear instructions so you know which one applies to your cake.

As far as the recipe goes, it was really straightforward to follow, but we have one problem – our meringue icing turned into a nightmare. We couldn’t get to the shops to buy more eggs and the mixture wouldn’t thicken, I’m sure something we’d done wrong. It would be handy to have a guide what to do when it goes wrong (and fortunately after a lot of googling Shaun found a video, and stayed up until 1am to fix it) – I’m sure it’s probably just for meringue icing as it’s tricky anyway. If, like us, you’re doing them for a reason then have a practice run beforehand!

Make, Bake, Cupcake

We made two lots as our cakes were for the Great Beggars Bake Off at work – raising money for Missing People. Do feel free to donate as well, although I can’t give you a cake.

Chocolate and Stout Cupcakes from Make, Bake, Cupcake

My workmates all said the cakes were delicious, and considering there had been a week of cakes so they could potentially be cake-d out, that’s a good thing! Over the coming weeks we’re going to try more recipes from here, the Popcorn Cupcakes look interesting (a good one for movie night maybe!), and the halloween ones look like loads of fun – squashed witches, ghosts and cobwebs – marvellous!

Make, Bake, Cupcake from Parragon Books

Make, Bake, Cupcake is available now (and a good price at Amazon), and is published by Parragon as part of their Love Food range. I received my copy as I am one of Parragon’s Book Buddies. I’ve already had several friends gushing over the pages – it’s the kind of book you want to make what’s inside rather than feel like you can’t. Who’s up for some brain cupcakes next then? Hehehe…

Birthday Cookies

H had her fourth birthday party yesterday, and one thing I had in mind to make was birthday cookies.

Birthday cookies are easy to make, you can bake tons of them and share them with the parents (parents are often overlooked when it comes to party food) and depending on allergies could be adapted for children who have nut allergies pretty easily by avoiding ready made icing.

Birthday Cookies - Finished

Here’s the recipe.

Birthday Cookies.

1 cup icing sugar

2 cups plain flour

300g unsalted butter

For the icing:

Two Sainsburys roll-it-out coloured icing blocks. Yes, I cheated.

For the decoration :

Sainsburys icing pens (various colours) and some blue sugar decoration crystals (they’re nice and sparkly like monster snot).

Birthday Cookies Ingredients

To make the cookies :

Soften the butter, add the icing sugar and stick in the food processor until blended. Add the flour. You’ll have your dough. Leave in the fridge for 20 minutes.

After that, on a floured board roll out the dough and using a cookie cutter cut your shapes. We used a number 4 from my 101 Cookie Cutters set (they didn’t have any monsters) and made approximately 60 cookies.

Bake in the oven at around 180 degrees for 10-15 minutes (we have a fan-assisted oven) – keep checking them and turn your tray around. I found the best cookies were made on the bottom shelf as they looked a nice golden shade.

birthday Cookies baked

Once out of the oven leave to cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes (just enough time for the next batch to be added).

Once your batch are cooled, get your icing. I went for ready-made as it saved me time, I used icing sugar to dust the boards and rolled them out cutting 4 shapes again, and sticking them to the cookie with water.

Birthday Cookies Iced

Once they’d dried I used more water on top and added various decorations. As it was a monster themed party I figured it could be fairly messy so broke up some chocolate buttons and added them on top, as well as writing with the icing pens.

The best thing? Almost everyone ate them so it meant we didn’t bring much home at all. There were plenty for everyone too (18 children and a few more adults).

H loved them as they were proper birthday cookies with her age on as well, and I quite enjoyed making them as it kept me calm and stopped me flapping.

I think we all win there.

This post contains an affiliate link, and the recipe was put together using several recipes online for inspiration. I wanted to avoid too much sugar and also eggs.

Delia’s Christmas Cake Baking Exercise

We bought a Delia’s ready-measured ingredients cake mixture from Waitrose last week, what with it being reduced to £5 in store. These opinions are my own, and I wasn’t paid vast sums of money to post this, nor given any freebies.


It felt a bit like we were cheating, buying it so late – but time was running out and I’d read it was fine to prepare your cake a week before the big event – so here we are. Actually, I felt like a complete fraud, but H loved helping to mix everything together, so it was extremely handy for that – and definitely a three-person job. First off, when Delia says to check the manual on your oven if it’s fan-assisted, she means it. If you then start to check once the cake is in the oven, only to find out an hour later you’ve put it on ‘defrost’, you’ve only yourself to blame (thanks, husband!). I remain guilt-free.


So, we laid out our sachets of stuff on the table, our butter we’d bought the previous day still not quite ‘really soft’ like Delia said, but we figured we’d work with it.

H sifted in the flour and spices, while I added butter, salt and eggs – and we stirred. And stirred. Oh, and a little more.

In the end, husband helped us out with the electric whisk as it was pretty tough, and our collective arms were a bit tired, which did the trick and the gloopy butter-speckled mixture resembled more of a cakey kind of thing.


After that we stirred in the pre-soaked fruit “ooooh raisins!” said H, and added the treacle. It was only then we couldn’t find our string to tie it all up in the oven, so I had to run to the shops leaving husband and H grating some orange and lemon (while listening to The Wiggles, good cooking music).

That was it. Crikey, that wasn’t too bad, and H did quite a lot to help too (we did the important bits).


So in the oven it went, the first hour was a write-off (see previous mention about checking your oven, Delia is not wrong), but actually after three and a half hours ours was ready (well, four and a half in total, so maybe the defrost setting does something). It took forever to cool, in fact, until this morning. We have some marzipan and some icing ready to go, I just need to get some jam to seal it (I’m guessing blueberry won’t do). We’ll have enough left over to make some icing snowmen to stick on top… stay tuned for a final photo…


In summary, while I think it was extremely lazy of us to take this route, getting things prepared beforehand wouldn’t have happened, so it was nice to have everything there and ready, although at a £10 regular price it’s a bit much for what you get – especially when you can end up spending another £10 or so to get the extras to go with it (brandy bumps that up a bit). I’d do it again if I was short on time, but would love to be a bit better organised and have time to be able to do it a bit more ‘properly’ in future – it’s definitely a good place to start if you’ve never made it yourself before (raises hand) – and definitely worth getting while it’s down to £5 – wonder if there’ll be further reductions next week? There were quite a few in-store….