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Friday 9 December 2011

All I Want For Christmas: Bake it Pretty

These are my favourite gifts to give to anyone who's keen to get crafty in the kitchen, or for the baker who has everything...

Sugarflair is something that I've discovered in the past year or two, though I also see supermarkets are doing their own brands now too.
These highly concentrated pots of gel based colouring are great for use in frostings, sugar craft and even to dye dough or sponge mixtures. They can be mixed to create new colours too. They're great because they don't water down your mixture and affect consistency like the liquid food colourings can. Buy them from £2 per 25g pot, or you could splash out on this set with cream, melon, paprika, claret, baby blue, grape violet, liquorice, dark brown, poppy red and Christmas green for £19 + shipping.

Cupcake cases

When buying cupcake cases, do try to look out for the Swedish greaseproof ones.  They're literally made of stronger stuff -  often you find that cheaper patterned cases look very pretty when they're in the packet but once they are filled with rich buttery cupcake mixture, the fat simply bleeds into the paper and makes it greasily translucent and obscures the pretty design. Hopefully that could never happen with these amazing pink Moomin muffin cases, £4.95 for 20. If you're feeling very generous, fill a large glass storage jar with cases for a pretty display too.

Edd Kimber, winner of the original Great British Bake Off,  teaches macaron making masterclasses once a month at the Miele Gallery in London. During the three hour session (£80.15 with booking fee which includes nibbles and bubbly) Edd will demonstrate perfect macaron making technique and then put your through your paces. You'll leave with your own creations and also some that Edd's made for you - no passing his off as your own... ok we won't tell!

If London isn't practical, Edd's book is available from Amazon for a bargainous £9 at the moment.  It's filled not only with amazing cookie, pastry and cake recipes, but also delicious treats such as homemade ice-cream.

Laura Santini's "Alchemical Larder" from her Easy Tasty Magic range was one of the most original Christmas gifts I received last year. It's a collection of tiny jars filled with all kinds of exotic ingredients.

Bakers will have immediate ideas for what to do with Mediterranean lavender, cacao nibs and nutmeg, but I've also crushed Grains of Paradise and pressed them into the dough to pep up butter cookies.  If you're daring, use a smidgen of super hot Devil's Penis chilli to give chocolate recipes some oomph!

Available from Harvey Nichols, £25.

Pie funnels are placed in the middle of your pie dish to help steam to escape during baking, and to stop pastry from going soggy. You usually see ceramic ones which are shiny blackbirds but I like these fun silicon ones in bright colours, £8.25 from Divertimenti. You could team it with a Christmas pie dish from John Lewis which is pretty enough to use all year around.

And finally an idea for a cute little stocking filler. Lakeland have lots of ideas but one of the most useful things I've got in my kitchen is this bowl scraper, £2.99. It's from their 'I Can Cook' range i.e. it's aimed at kids, but it's the perfect size for scraping out small measuring cups filled with gooey treacle or Golden Syrup, and it's survived many a trip through the dishwasher without a single nick or scrape.

So what are you hoping Santa will leave in your kitchen this Christmas?


  1. I was tempted by the Laura Santinni larder - pretty!

    She also sells crazy glitter alcohol sprays.

    I've already bought Mr Kimber's book!

  2. I have one of those bowl scrapers (in red) and it is possibly one of my favourite ever kitchen utensils!

  3. Of course I expect you to have tested *all* of Laura Santini's magical potions by now ;)

  4. Fantastic list...I love the little jars full of exotic ingredients, what a fab gift! I know a few people this will be perfect for! Thank you!

  5. Oooo that Alchemical Larder is awesome... I know someone who's going to get an extra Christmas pressie now! Its perfect for them!

  6. Does anyone know where I can get the Alchemical larder from? Tried Harvey Nicks and it appears to have gone.


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