Monday 24 December 2012

Recipe: Stollen

Freshly baked stollen

Do you know, I've not baked or eaten a single mince pie this year. But this morning I baked a delicious stollen and by FLIP it is lush!

I used a mish-mash of several recipes and I heartily recommend a slice of this delicious cakey-bread with a cup of tea and a lovely Christmas film; I opted for A Muppet Christmas Carol.

Freshly baked stollen



100ml milk
1 x 7g sachet of dried yeast
Good pinch of salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
225g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g mixed dried fruit*
25g flaked almonds
50g unsalted butter
1 free range egg
250g marzipan

*I used a mix of sultanas, currants, raisins, dried cranberries, candied peel and quartered glace cherries

To finish:

25g melted unsalted butter
40g icing sugar


Gently heat the milk and 50g butter in a saucepan.

Mix the dried fruit together with the vanilla extract and the mixed spice.

In a large bowl mix the flour, yeast, salt and sugar and make a well in the centre. 

Your milk and butter mixture should be warm but not hot. You should be able to hold your finger in it comfortably. When it is at this point crack the egg into the milk and butter and beat well with a fork.

Add your milk, butter and egg mixture to your flour mixture and stir to combine. Add your dried fruit, vanilla and spice mix and combine everything thoroughly. If you've got a swanky electric mixer you can do all this mixing with a dough hook. If you haven't, use a spoon and your hands like I do.

Turn your mixture out onto a well-floured surface and knead it well for about ten minutes. Yes, it is sticky. Yes, you will need to add more flour to stop the dough sticking to the kitchen. Yes, you will get messy hands but heck, enjoy it and have fun!

Transfer your dough to an oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Put the bowl in a warm place (an airing cupboard or your oven on the defrost setting is good) and leave to prove until the dough has doubled in size. This can take anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour and a half.

When the dough is all puffed up, knock it back (squish and knead the air out of it) and then turn it out onto a floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to a rough rectangle shape about 9 inches by 7 inches.

Roll your marzipan into a sausage slightly shorter than the long side of your dough rectangle. Dust the work surface with icing sugar whilst you shape the marzipan.

Place your marzipan sausage on the dough and fold the dough over it and seal the ends and the long edge by dampening them with a little water and squidging them together.

Put your stollen, seam side down, on a baking-paper-lined baking tray and gently pat back into shape if needs be. Cover the stollen with oiled clingflim.

Leave it to prove again for about thirty minutes. You don't want it to double in size but you want it to puff up a bit.

Heat your oven to 180°C (160°C for fan ovens) and then bake your stollen for about 25 to 30 minutes or until it is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

Whilst the stollen is still hot, brush it with the 25g of melted butter and then immediately sift the icing sugar over the top.

Leave to cool (but for quality control purposes do try a slice whilst it is still warm and the marzipan is all oozy) and serve sliced.

Best eaten by the twinkling light of the Christmas tree.

Saturday 22 December 2012

'Kimono', baking, baking and baking

Lampwork Glass Lentil Beads

The bright colours and stylised design on these beads remind me of Japanese kimono fabrics.

These comfy-to-wear lentils are made in translucent purple glass, dusted with purple enamel and decorated with dark brown branches and orange blooms and blossom. They are only decorated on one side so they would be lovely turned into a bracelet.

Lampwork Glass Lentil Beads

The 'Kimono' beads are for sale right now over in the usual place.

So, Christmas is nearly upon us. My fridge is empty, bar three jars of pesto, half a pint of milk, a jar of horseradish sauce and the guinea pigs' lettuce, carrot and apple. This means I have to go and do THE food shop of the year. Chris is currently in Manchester but I'm hoping he'll be home later and then the Chrimble preparations can finally start.

I've got to marzipan my cake today. I'm also going to make a stollen and some biscotti. I've been baking like a mad thing recently, with good reason; I have an audition for The Great British Bake Off in January. It was supposed to have been this week but a mix-up with a double booking by the audition venue meant that they had to postpone it. But yes, I've been baking like a crazy baking person.

Hand Raised Pie

I've made some hand-raised pies that I've been really proud of. Hot water crust pastry is a doddle to make but flipping heck, shaping it into a pie case is not easy. That ceramics module of my Art A-Level finally came in handy! This chicken and bacon pie with homemade sage and onion stuffing (which is a Mrs Beeton recipe) was my second attempt and my goodness it tasted yum!

Sour Cherry & Almond Biscotti

I have become addicted to baking sour cherry and almond biscotti.

I've also been making cinnamon bread and Chelsea buns. These ones are quite Christmassy as they contain orange and cranberries. The icing is orange too. Tell you what, though, they weren't half sweet and it's not often you hear pudding monster me utter those "too sweet" words. Nice, though.

Orange & Cranberry Chelsea Buns

So yeah, I've been drowning in baked goods. I've sent some to friends, Chris has taken some to work and I even took some to Slimming World for our little Christmas party thing. I KNOW. That makes zero sense but when you cut a pie into very small pieces and you halve slices of biscotti it becomes less naughty to eat. Or something ...

I keep thinking about what Mum would say about my baking. I honestly don't think she'd believe it. She'd find it hilarious that I'm having a go at entering a cookery competition, I know that!

Right, time to get on and DO something. I have a to-do list as long as The Nile and I need to be crossing things off it.

Have a good Saturday!

Thursday 20 December 2012


Lampwork Glass Beads

I bought quarter of a kilo of odd-lot Vetrofond glass about five years ago. It is the palest transparent yellow but the rods are about 12mm diameter which makes it awkward to work with.

These 'Champagne' beads are the last of that glass. I've etched the beads to a velvety finish and I've included some shimmery spacers. The set is for sale in the usual place along with a few other sets.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

'Sugar Plum'

Lampwork Glass Beads

Pretty etched purple beads with twinkly mauve spacers. These are available on my Freshly Baked Beads page right now.

Thursday 13 December 2012

New Beads

Lampwork Beads

I've just added these vibrant 'Orange & Blackcurrant' beads and ...

Lampwork Beads

... these 'Ancient' ones to the Freshly Baked Beads page.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

'Jack Frost'

Etched Lampwork Glass Beads

Well, if there was ever a day to sell frosty-looking beads it is today. The garden looks like it's dusted with icing sugar, there is a chilly mist in the air and the birds on the fence are all fluffed up.

I made these beads with frosty mornings in mind; etched clear beads and shimmery silvery spacers. These are for sale in the usual place right now.

Cinnamon Bread

I'm off to make a cup of tea, grab a slice of toasted cinnamon bread (I made a loaf at the weekend and I have another one baking in the oven as I type) and settle down with some bracelet making.

Have a good Tuesday!

Sunday 9 December 2012

'Bleu', Lonelies & Tuition

Lampwork Glass Beads

I've just put these etched blue beads on the Freshly Baked Beads page along with some Lonelies.
Lampwork Glass Beads

I've also reduced the price of my pendants and charms in my Chrimbleshop to £12.00 and £10.00 respectively.

In other bead-related news, I will be teaching from 18th February through to 25th October, 2013. These are the months when my shed isn't freezing. I am in Cambridge.

If you’re an absolute beginner I am offering a four hour session. During this time we will cover the basics of beadmaking and we’ll pull stringer, make round beads and then use stringer and frit to decorate them. All materials, tea, coffee and biscuits (essential beadmaking equipment) are included in the tuition fee and obviously you will get to keep all the beads we make. The price for this four hour session is £100.00. Just email me to discuss suitable dates and times.

If you’ve done a spot of beadmaking before and you’d like to brush up on skills like stringer application, shaping and encasing then I am offering tuition at a rate of £25.00 per hour. It is entirely up to you how many hours you’d like but I’d suggest no more than five as there’s only so much beadmaking your brain can do before it gets tired. Just send me an email outlining what you’re interested in learning and for how long and we’ll arrange something.

If you’d like to book some tuition with me please send me an email.I will require a fifty percent deposit (non-refundable) at the time of booking with the remainder payable on the day of your tuition. For deposits I will accept PayPal or bank transfer.

If you'd like to give the gift of glass meltery I can provide a voucher in a card. Just email me to purchase one.

I think that's about all for now. I'm off to make some soup.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Thursday 6 December 2012


Lampwork Bead Charms

These heart, strawberry and cherry cupcake charms are available over in my Chrimbleshop right now. These are £12.00 each and are fitted with a tiny lobster clasp so they can be attached to a charm bracelet.

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Wednesday 5 December 2012


You know those little short-term lease shops that pop up in town centres at this time of year? The ones that sell massive Christmas cards, Santa hats and cheap tinsel? Well, I've just opened the glass bead version of one of those. Except there is zero tat in my shop.

So yes, my Chrimbleshop is OPEN. I'll be updating it every other day or so with beady gifts. They are one-offs, giftboxed and ready to be posted.

Lampwork Glass Pendants

I've just stocked it with a bunch of pendants. These are £15.00 each including delivery and if needs be I can supply an eighteen inch sterling silver chain for an additional £10.00.

I'm busy with bracelet orders right now and I'm making stock for my shop in between those, so do check the shop regularly for new additions.

I'm off to make myself a massive mug-o-tea now ...

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Saturday 1 December 2012

Recipe: Vanilla Chai Biscuits

Vanilla Chai Biscuits

I got my bake on today and I decided that I wanted to capture the spicy flavours of vanilla chai tea in a buttery, crumbly biscuit. I'm really pleased with the results and I thought I'd share my recipe with you in case you fancy trying them too.

Vanilla Chai Biscuits
Makes 30


225g unsalted butter (room temperature)
110g caster sugar
275g plain flour
1 vanilla pod
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cloves


Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C if using a fan oven) or gas mark 3.

Cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

Sift in the flour and the spices. Split open the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds and add these to the mix too, along with the vanilla extract.

Mix well.

Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls (about the size of a walnut) and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Make sure you leave room for the biscuits to spread as they cook. Using a fork, slightly flatten the balls of dough.

Bake in batches for 15 to 18 minutes. Oven times will vary so make sure you check them. You want them to be golden at the edges. 

Remove the biscuits from the oven and leave to stand for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.


You can buy ground cardamom but I only had cardamom pods in stock so I removed the seeds from their green casing and ground them with a pestle and mortar.

I use the tablespoon from my measuring spoon set to ensure consistent biscuit size.

Twinings Vanilla Chai Tea

The inspiration for these biscuits was Twinings Vanilla Chai tea. It comes in a beautiful Christmassy caddy and it tastes divine. The mix of festive spices with the creamy vanilla is just utter yum. (And no, I'm not being sponsored by them to say this; it is just a very lovely beverage.)

Happy baking!