Halloween Treats

Oh what a night! I have taken it upon myself to prolong the Great British Bake-off  on Tuesday evenings. If you’ve ever watched it you’ll know there are three bakes. My night was no exception. Ready, set….. bake!!

I started with the technical challenge. Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie…

… with a pecan shortcrust pastry. For the pastry you’ll need:

  • 85g plain flour
  • 30g crushed/bashed pecans
  • 55g cool unsalted butter, diced
  • 25g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp cold water
Put the pecans in a food bag and bash with a rolling pin until most are crushed but not too finely.
 
Place the nuts into a bowl with the flour and cold butter cubes and rub in until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
 
 
Add enough cold water to  gather the crumbs into a soft dough. Don’t over-mix. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out on a floured surface.
 
 
This amount of pastry should be enough to line a 9″ flan tin.
 
 
Blind bake in the oven for 10-15 mins at 200C. Meanwhile mix up your filling.
 
 
I changed the recipe slightly by adding ginger preserve. I wanted stem ginger instead of ground but couldn’t find it at the supermarket so settle for the jammy stuff instead.
 
The added sugar in the preserve meant that I reduced the total sugar by 2oz and I also split it 50-50 between caster and light brown muscovado.
 
 
I did stick with the two eggs and evaporated milk.
 
 
Once all mixed up, I poured the filling into the case and put back in the oven at 180C for 40 mins until the filling is set, but still slightly wobbly in the centre.
 
Ta da!!

Signature Bake

I had a little pumpkin mixture that I couldn’t quite fit in the pie case so I improvised and made a few pumpkin and pecan cupcakes.

I added 2oz flour and 2oz of butter to about 6oz of pumpkin mixture with the chopped pecan nuts thrown in too. I also folded in 2 stiff peak egg whites as a binding and raising agent for good luck. Completely thinking on my feet. Mixed it all up until I was happy with the consistency and poured into cupcake cases. I put these in the oven above the pie for about 15-20mins. I had a quick taste of one when it came out the oven to make sure it was up to standard. They were a little moist but still good so I thought it was worthwhile topping them with a cream cheese frosting. (Just cream cheese and icing sugar mixed to your taste.)

Although you may want to use these measurements instead:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sift before measuring
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup left over pumpkin pie filling
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

And finally my showstopper….

Lemon Meringue Cupcake Ghosts

Ok ok mine looked a bit more like this…

And with his jacket on…

I mixed together a standard victoria sponge batter; that’s 4 oz of butter, sugar and flour with 2 eggs.

I then poured a little of the batter into cupcake cases.

Laid a a little teaspoon of lemon curd on top…

…before topping with more batter…

Easy, peasy!

The meringue was a lot harder to make and would only recommend that you do this if you have a free-standing whip-machine. I only have a handheld whisk which gave up halfway through so I had to resort to manual labour. No need for Boxercise after that. It’s an Italian meringue recipe which gives you a more marshmallow-y texture. To make yours:

  • 250g/9oz sugar
  • 120g/4½oz golden syrup
  • 4 free-range eggs, whites only

Place the sugar, golden syrup and four tablespoons of water into a large saucepan. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Bring the sugar syrup to the boil and cook for about 5-6 minutes until the syrup reaches 115C/239F when measured with a sugar thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat.

While the syrup is boiling, in a large bowl whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed.

Then, with the mixer on a low speed, pour in the sugar syrup in a thin steady stream – be careful not to pour the syrup onto the beaters as it may splash onto your hands.

Once all the syrup has been added increase the speed of the mixer and mix for about 10 minutes until the icing is completely cool, thick and glossy.

Do not skimp on the whipping or your icing will be too soft and your ghosts will sag. I put mine in the oven once piped to strengthen them.

Place the icing into a piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle. Pipe a circle of icing onto each cupcake. Then, holding the bag upright over the centre of the cake, pipe a tall mound of icing, then quickly pull the tip away to form a small peak on the top. Add chocolate strands or chocolate chips as eyes.

So what do you think Paul Hollywood?

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