Tag Archives: gingerbread

Gingerbread Cheesecake Squares

The flavours of gingerbread instantly remind me of the festive season. While gingerbread houses (or even Gingerbread Ovens) might be traditional, why not put a spin on your classic gingerbread by turning it into these Gingerbread Cheesecake Squares?

Funnily enough this recipe was the result of a bit of gingerbread dough that I left too long in the fridge. As I began to knead it between my hands to warm up, it just crumbled away into pieces. It was at this point that I thought it resembled a shortbread mixture rather than gingerbread biscuit dough and immediately I had the idea to crumble it into the base of a tin, bake it and pour over some cheesecake mixture to make little squares.

This recipe is also perfect for making cutout gingerbread biscuits and gingerbread houses. You will only need to chill the dough for 20 – 30 minutes instead of hours in this case. The longer chilling ‘dries’ out the dough, making it crumbly and impossible to roll out but making it ideal for these cheesecake squares. This means you can also make the dough ahead of time!

To add a decorative element, I remove some of the cheesecake mixture and add food colouring to it. This small amount of mixture requires just a single egg yolk. The addition of yellow colouring emphasises the egg yolk colour and helps to create an attractive design. The mixture is too fluid to swirl properly but it doesn’t bleed and run either, allowing you to create a random pattern on the surface.

The backdrops used in these photos was the Farmhouse backdrop from Backdrops By Lucy – read my review of their product by clicking here!

For the Gingerbread Base:

125g margarine

100g granulated sugar

50g golden syrup

300g plain flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Cheesecake mixture:

250g cream cheese

75g granulated sugar

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp mixed spice

1 tbsp plain flour

Pinch of ground nutmeg

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs, 1 egg separated

Yellow food colouring

In a pan over a medium heat, melt the margarine, sugar and syrup until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is even. Remove the pan from the heat, leave to sit for 1 minute before adding the pre-weighed and measured dried ingredients into the pan and stirring until it forms a dough which is aromatic and fragrant, soft but not sticky and a deep brown colour.

On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc and wrap well in clingfilm. Freeze for 2 hours until very firm and then leave in the fridge overnight or up to 2 days.

When you are ready to make the cheesecake squares, preheat the oven to 190°C. Take a square of baking parchment larger than a 20cm square tin. Grease the tin and flip it over. Fold the parchment into 4 and place the point of the square at the centre of the bottom of the pan and cut from the corner inwards until you feel the pan. Open up, push into the tin and it should line the tin perfectly.

Take the dough from the fridge and crumble it up into a mixing bowl. The pieces should all be various sizes, ranging from large chunks to small pieces to fine crumbs. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and use your hand to press the gingerbread into a single layer, pressing right into the corners until even.

Prick the surface of the gingerbread with a fork and bake for around 20 – 30 minutes or until the base is set on the surface and golden around the edges. Leave to cool completely.

Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C.

Prepare the cheesecake by beating together the cream cheese and sugar by hand until smooth. Sift over the dry ingredients and fold to incorporate. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Remove about 50g of the mixture and place into a separate smaller bowl. To the larger bowl, add the whole egg plus 1 egg white and beat to combine until even. To the smaller bowl, add the egg yolk and some food colouring to make it a vibrant yellow colour.

Pour the non-coloured cheesecake mixture over the cooled gingerbread base. It should be fairly liquid and it may run down the sides of the gingerbread base slightly too – this is to be expected. Slowly spoon over the yellow cheesecake mixture randomly so it creates a nice pattern.

Bake the cheesecake for about 25 minutes or until the surface is lightly browned, golden at the edges and wobbles just slightly in the very centre. Leave the cheesecake to cool fully in the tin before slicing into 16 squares.

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My Review of 2016

2016 was a tragic year for all, with the deaths of legends in the entertainment industry such as Victoria Wood, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, Sir Terry Wogan, David Bowie (and the list goes on and on!) and we also cannot forget about the huge changes in the futures of the UK with Brexit and the USA with the election of Donald Trump as President. And whilst we cannot forget how bad the year has been for so many, I can’t help but think that on a personal level, the year of 2016 has been a positive year of change for me!

Obviously the biggest change of my 2016 is that I’ve now started my maths degree at Nottingham University, some 160 miles from my home back down in Essex. Starting this new chapter in my life was incredibly daunting; why wouldn’t I be scared at the prospect of sharing a flat with 4 other people whom I’d never met before and living and fending for myself! It wasn’t all fine and dandy, and neither did I expect it to be, but I didn’t expect the first drama about the washing up to happen in the first few weeks!

And maybe that’s my own fault. I’d created this utopian idea in my head of what university would be like and sharing a flat would be like; we’d all take turns taking the bins out, cleaning the kitchen and share a 6 pint bottle of milk and put ourselves on a rota of who bought the next 6 pints. And it was as far from this as possible.

I ended up doing the bins pretty much exclusively, I soon got pretty fed up of seeing the washing up pile up at the side of the sink day after day and our fridge wasn’t the right temperature – my Thermapen thermometer got to 11˚C; the normal temperature for refrigerators is between 0 – 5˚C, something I acknowledged in my complaint email!

My first month of university was fraught with hating my flat with its faulty fridges, a smelly hoover and a heater which smelt of burning whenever I turned it on. I sought solace in Facetiming my family back home each night after work and they were always on hand to offer advice, even on the most basic things like how to boil an egg! By this time too, I’d made a close knit group of friends in my flat, in my ‘halls’ and on my course. I honestly think that without them, I wouldn’t be enjoying university as much as I currently am, although having said that I should really be revising for my January exams right now!

The friends I’d made were all integral (well I might as well start doing some maths revision!) to making my first semester at Nottingham and if it wasn’t for them dragging me out on bar crawls and getting me tickets for clubs, I wouldn’t have had as much fun as I did in the last month of my first term. But of course it wasn’t without its drama and unfortunately some of the people I thought I was friends with turned out to think differently. Despite this, my real friends were all on hand to talk it through with me and if I ever did want to drop in on my friends in my accommodation, they were just a text and a 2 minute walk away.

Oh and they replaced our fridge, cleaned the hoover and the burning smell went away!

University has definitely changed who I am, even in the space of 3 months. I’ve gained an appreciation for the value of money and not that’s just because I am a student. Controlling my spending and budgeting has helped keep my weekly average spend down and perhaps the tight spend on money is just a small piece of the puzzle that has contributed to me losing 23lbs since the day I moved to Nottingham back in September, which puzzles me frankly because to lose 23lbs in the space of under 3 months is quite ridiculous but also offers perspective on how bad my diet was and just what little exercise I did; even the walk from campus back to my accommodation is a fraction under 2 miles and I’d walked that on so many occasions when the buses were full (curse the 903 hopper bus!).

During the first term, I also joined Blogsoc, the university’s blogging society. I walked in to my first workshop, expecting to learn so much about blogging but it was at this point that I realised how much I already knew having had the blog for 3 years and I was able to share my knowledge and experiences with fellow students, both new and well versed in blogging. I’m going to include some of their links at the end of this review of 2016 because I love reading their blogs!


My attitude to my blog changed this year. I think I said this last year but I definitely took blogging more seriously, creating my #fdbloggerfriends series which is still ongoing, and I blogged 13 recipes for the 12 Days of Christmas which went down a storm! With university, I have a lot more time to bake and blog then I did at home and that’s certainly resulted in putting more effort into the blog and posting more often than usual (even if that means my poor friends have to try more of my bakes). I also took the plunge to enter the UK Blog Awards 2016.


A quick peek at my blog stats and I see that I posted 118 new posts this year. Not all of them were recipes and not all of them were baking related but it’s still a huge achievement. The 5 most viewed new recipe posts of 2016 were as follows:


  1. Day 3 of 12: Lidl’s Favorina Spiced Biscuit Spread Review
  2. Romaine Lettuce Kimchi
  3. Trying the Technical: Coconut Viennese Whirls in 80 minutes
  4. Glazed Lemon Almond Cake
  5. Vanilla and Chocolate Marble Traybake


I feel safe in the knowledge my blog is growing and getting read since my most viewed new recipe post of 2016 was one which was posted a mere 3 and a half weeks ago. What’s more, it ranks 3rd in my 3 most viewed posts of 2016!

  1. Giant Ben’s Cookies
  2. Should cooking be compulsory for secondary school students under 18?
  3. Day 3 of 12: Lidl’s Favorina Spiced Biscuit Spread Review


And of course I have my personal favourite posts from this year.

Making a Gingerbread Oven Showstopper

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I’d always wanted to make my own gingerbread house and after watching Biscuit Week of Bake Off and the showstopper challenge to create a 3D gingerbread biscuit story, I was lying in bed and suddenly had a brainwave to create an oven which was baking gingerbread out of gingerbread. And yes, I am that sort of person. I’ll agree that it’s not the most professional looking bake I’ve ever done (more on that in a bit) but it’s a personal baking milestone for me since I challenged myself to do something that I’ve never done before (I hadn’t even baked gingerbread biscuits before!) and it’s also the first time that I used a ruler in my baking!

Salted Caramel, White Chocolate and Lemon Savarins


Again I was inspired by Bake Off for this bake. Back in Patisserie Week of Series 7, the technical challenge was to make a savarin and I didn’t really fancy baking a large one so I fused together the concept of rum baba and savarin to invent my savarins. The dough has lemon zest in it and is soaked in a sticky citrus syrup and then drizzled with salted caramel and white chocolate. It’s rather gilding the lily to have 2 different drizzles however the flavours all worked together and it’s also one of the best looking bakes I think that I have ever done. Okay so maybe they were slightly underproved and maybe Paul Hollywood wouldn’t have liked my crumb structure but I am proud of these little savarins.

All 12 Days of Christmas

Okay maybe it’s a bit of a cheat to say that 13 posts are my favourite but my 12 Days of Christmas series was incredibly successful (I mean just look at how Day 3 did!) and apart from daily blogging in Hong Kong whilst on holiday, it’s the most extensive amount of recipe blogging and I managed to finish the series on schedule, which I think is an achievement considering the work I was also having to do.

I think my personal favourite of the 12 Days series has to be my Christmas Present Cake. It was my first time doing a fondant covered cake and I have to say that it seemed to go pretty well, with only a few minor cracks which I covered up with more fondant. And whilst I won’t be doing another fondant cake for a while, it’s something to add to my repertoire of techniques.

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In 2017, I want to use Instagram more. I’ve been trying hard to get into Instagram and posting pictures on my page hasn’t yet become second nature to me however I’m gradually getting used to it. Growth on Instagram is also notoriously harder than on Twitter so reaching 500 followers by the end of 2017 is going to be my goal.

Talking of growth, I think my following on Twitter has plateaued and I certainly do not want to be one of those accounts who follows thousands of people only to unfollow them in the next week, so finding a way to increase my following will be the challenge!

Let me know in the comments which of my 118 new posts of 2016 was your favourite. Make sure to also check out my fellow Nottingham Blogsoc bloggers too!

Day 8 of 12: Gingerbread Hazelnut Latte Biscotti

If you’ve been following my 12 Days of Christmas series (and I can’t believe that we’re here on Day 8 already, the time has flown by!), you know that I’ve been a bit obsessed with making biscotti; I’ve already made White Chocolate and Cranberry Crunch Biscuits and Red Velvet Hazelnut Biscotti for Days 4 and 5 respectively.

And I think they’ve become such a favourite of mine to make because they are so simple to make, even without the aid of an electric mixer, something which I’ve had to adapt to here at uni! What’s more, just 1 egg white can make 12 of these biscotti, which means that they are a fantastic recipe to make if you want to make edible gifts this year.


Biscotti are often served alongside coffee and I was inspired by Starbucks’ Gingerbread Latte to fuse the two together to make Gingerbread Hazelnut Latte Biscotti. These biscotti are lightly spiced with festive spices and has a delicate hint of coffee too.

Remember to also check out the first 7 Days of Christmas on my blog!!

Day 1: Dairy Milk Caramel Cupcakes

Day 2: Melted Snowman Chocolate Chip Cookies

Day 3: Lidl’s Favorina Spiced Biscuit Spread Review

Day 6: Melted Snowman Chocolate Cupcakes

Day 7: Essential Cuisine Turkey Gravy Review

1 egg white

¼ tsp cream of tartar

40g granulated sugar

½ tsp Camp Coffee essence

33g plain flour

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp mixed spice

Pinch of ground nutmeg

60g hazelnuts, chopped into rough pieces

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment, which is lightly greased.

Whisk the egg white with the cream of tartar until it is frothy. Add the sugar very gradually, whisking well between each addition until it holds stiff peaks. Add in the Camp Coffee essence and fold through until it has been evenly incorporated; it will be a very light brown colour.

Sift in the flour and spices and use a spatula to fold through the dry ingredients, scraping right down to the bottom. Add the roughly chopped hazelnuts and mix through.

Scrape out the batter onto the oiled baking parchment and flatten out to 1.5cm thick. Bake the biscuits for around 25 minutes until the surface is golden and set (by which I mean the top doesn’t give way when you touch it). Leave it to cool fully on the tray.

Preheat the oven to 160˚C. Take a serrated knife and slice the biscuits into long strips about 1cm wide and place them onto a baking tray with the cut side face up. Bake the biscuits again for a total of 15 minutes, turning them to expose the other side halfway through.


Making a Gingerbread Oven Showstopper

Inspired by The Great British Bake Off’s Biscuit Week Showstopper in which the bakers made a 3D gingerbread story containing at least 8 characters or objects, I decided to have a go at the challenge myself, by making an oven completely out of gingerbread.

My Gingerbread Oven is currently baking 10 gingerbread diamond biscuits and has already baked 12 gingerbread cupcakes which have just been iced with a gingerbread piping bag. It’s got 2 baking trays inside it, both of which are on their own oven racks which are freestanding.


And while the bakers on the show had 4 hours, I managed to do this in about 5 and a half hours. I didn’t even draw up a plan before baking my first ever batch of gingerbread biscuits, I just went along with it and worked it all out in my head and somehow it all managed to come together. I have since refined my plan and written out my measurements so that you can also construct your very own gingerbread oven.

Before you start the bake, create your templates. I recommended using white card which is sturdier than paper, easier to work with and cut out and you can write the sizes on it and what they are used for. You will require the following templates in the correct size:

  • A 17.5cm by 15cm rectangle for the oven panels
  • A 20cm by 3cm rectangle for the oven shelf holders; you might find it useful to mark 2.5cm in from each side.
  • A 9cm by 13cm rectangle for one of the oven trays
  • A 7cm by 9cm square for another of the trays
  • A 2cm by 7cm rectangle for the oven hinge
  • A triangle, 6cm high and 5cm wide; you will get the sides by measuring 2.5cm in from the base of the triangle, measuring 6cm up and joining the points to make your piping bag

To build the gingerbread oven, you will need the following of each piece (note that the additional measurement is the thickness of the gingerbread dough):

  • 5 panels, measuring 17.5cm by 15cm by 0.5cm
  • 4 oven shelf holders, measuring 20cm by 3cm by 0.5cm
  • 1 oven tray, measuring 9cm by 13cm by 0.5cm
  • 1 oven tray, measuring 7cm by 9cm by 0.5cm
  • 1 hinge, measuring 2cm by 7cm by 0.5cm
  • 1 triangle, measuring 6cm high by 5cm wide by 0.5cm thick, and a jagged effect is cut off after baking

Additional gingerbread pieces and equipment that you require are:

  • 21 gingerbread diamonds – these can be made from scraps of the dough, being rerolled to 0.5cm thick and cut at an angle of 30º from the bottom corner.
  • 11 small cupcake cutouts
  • 1 large cupcake cutout
  • 4 tall glasses – these will be used to hold up your gingerbread panels while the royal icing sets and the oven is being constructed
  • 4 piping bags
  • A clean plastic ruler
  • Small baking moulds that are around 5cm tall – these will hold your racks in place while the icing sets
  • A large serving board – I just used a large piece of cardboard covered in foil
  • A large sharp knife

You will need the templates even after you’ve cut out your shapes; gingerbread has a tendency, as with most biscuits, to spread slightly, giving your biscuits an uneven edge which makes construction impossible. So once your bring your shapes out of the oven, you need to bring back your templates and trim them back down to size. It might only be a couple of millimetres but it gives the final construction a neater finish.

By far the trickiest part is the oven racks, not only getting the shape but keeping them freestanding. To get the correct shape, you need to support the gingerbread in the oven and you do this using foil. Take a sheet of foil that is 20cm wide and the full length of the foil from the box. Fold it up into quarters lengthways so you end up with a long strip of foil. Place the gingerbread onto the foil and fold the foil over so the dough is concealed. Then fold up the edges, giving yourself a handle shape. These will then keep their shape in the oven when they bake as the foil is strong enough to hold it in place and when it comes to assembling, you need to rest a baking tin under the racks so they don’t collapse under gravity.


I use royal icing as my edible glue for my oven. You will often find that substitutes such as meringue powder or powdered egg whites are used because of health reasons. Once royal icing dries, it lasts a long time! It’s firm once set which gives strength to the structure. You’ll often find glycerine being added to some royal icing recipes but since this is being used for the main structure of the oven, I omit it as it would make it too soft.

My technique for icing the cupcake biscuits is based on the flooding technique, except I don’t do any flooding. Flooding is a process in which a thicker icing is piped around the border and allowed to set to create a wall which will hold in icing. A thinner icing is piped in and shaken out to cover the rest of the biscuit but will stay inside the border, giving a flawless looking piped biscuit. I copy the first part before piping in the same icing and using a cocktail stick to spread it into the gaps after shaking it from side to side.


Here are some of the other challenges that I have already tried from Bake Off 2016 so far:

Cake Week Technical: Jaffa Cakes

Biscuit Week Technical: Coconut Viennese Whirls

Gingerbread Biscuit Dough

375g margarine

300g granulated sugar – you can also use muscovado sugar!

150g golden syrup

900g plain flour

3 tsp bicarbonate of soda

6 tsp ground ginger

3 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tsp mixed spice

Royal Icing

1 egg white

250g icing sugar

2 tsp lemon juice

Water Icings

240g icing sugar, split into one 120g and two 60g portions

Red, green and pink gel food colouring pastes, I used Wilton

For the gingerbread biscuits, melt the margarine, sugar and golden syrup together either in a saucepan over a medium heat or in the microwave until most of the sugar has dissolved.

Pour it into the weighed out dried ingredients in a large bowl and either using a mixer or a rubber spatula, bring the wet and dry ingredients together until it forms the gingerbread dough which is fragrant, even, firm and not sticky and a deep brown colour. Give it a brief knead on a lightly floured surface and split the dough up into 6 even pieces. Wrap them all up in clingfilm, flatten into discs and chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Line a few baking trays with a sheet of baking parchment.

Take one portion of the dough, give it a brief knead on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to 0.5cm thick. Stop the dough from sticking by lifting it up and moving it around every so often. Use your panel template to cut out a panel, leaving room to also cut out some cupcakes. Bring the tray over to the surface and lift up your panel onto the tray. If it cracks or moves, push it back into shape and seal up the cracks.

Repeat with the rest of the dough, cutting out all of the required pieces, rerolling any scraps of dough you have. Once you fill your trays, chill them for 10 minutes before baking in the preheated oven for 8 minutes until the gingerbread has turned a darker shade of brown on the surface but isn’t burnt around the edges. Trim the panels using the sharp knife and your template to give them neat edges.

Leave them to cool on the tray completely before moving to a wire rack.

Meanwhile prepare your icings, starting with the royal icing. Place the egg white into a large clean bowl with half of the icing sugar. Beat it with a wooden spoon until all of the icing sugar is mixed in. Add the lemon juice and the second half of the icing sugar and beat again until it is thick and holds itself on the spoon. Place into a piping bag, twist the top and tie it with an elastic band.

For the water icings, gradually add water to the 3 portions of icing sugars so that you have a thick icing that can be piped. Colour one of the small icings pink for the cupcake top and colour the other one brown using red and green for the cupcake itself – you can do a light golden colour for a vanilla cake instead. Leave the larger icing white. Place all 3 into piping bags, again twisting the top and tying with an elastic band.


When you are ready to assemble your oven, start by getting your serving board ready. Cut off a 3mm hole off the end of the water icing bags and a 5mm hole off the end of the royal icing. On the base of one panel, pipe a border of the royal icing and stick it on your serving board. Leave to set while you ice the cupcakes.

With the brown icing, pipe a border around the bottom half of the cupcakes, making a jagged pattern on the top edge, to represent the cupcake case. Repeat for all 12 and allow to set. Then pipe some more of the icing inside the border and use a cocktail stick to spread it out to fill the gap and allow to set again. Then do the same for the pink icing for the buttercream. Do the same for the triangle piping bag.


To assemble the first part of the oven, take 2 of your panels and pipe icing along the bottom edges of each. Push the walls against the bottom piece and stand your glasses against the walls to hold them out. Wait until they are set.

Finish off your cupcakes by piping dots of the white icing on the pink parts of the buttercream. Use your royal icing to stick the gingerbread diamonds on the base of 4 of the mini cupcakes, which will add height. Prepare your baking trays by piping royal icing onto the base of the gingerbread diamonds and sticking onto your 2 baking trays. Decorate them with icing as you wish. Set aside.


By this time, the walls should be set, so attach the back panel by piping lines of the royal icing along the edges where it will stick and pushing firmly, again using the glasses to help prop it up while it sets.

For the oven shelves, place the baking tins on the base of the oven that are around 5cm high. Pipe icing onto the end edges of the rack and push the rack against the side panel such that it rests of the baking tin. Repeat for the other side and then pipe royal icing onto the edge facing up and stick down your larger baking tray. Then do the same for the other racks except this time they should rest on the baking tray, creating a sturdy support network. Stick the smaller baking tray on top and leave it all to set.

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Place the final panel on the top and then go over all of the edges with another line of royal icing and smooth it out to secure the structure. Decorate the oven as you see fit; I chose to cover the top and one side with the rest of the royal icing, attaching 3 diamonds to act as knobs, and the large cupcake on the top. Then I used the white water icing to create a curl pattern on the other side. I also attached the last rectangle onto the front of the oven, piping two lines to represent a hinge.


Lastly you should be able to remove the two baking tins from inside the oven and the structure should hold nicely. You can leave them in there if you wish.

And there we go, we’ve made an oven completely out of gingerbread!


Guest Post: Reindeer Cookies by Rebecca Herd

I’ve really loved how down to earth Rebecca’s Christmas recipes have been. They’re simple and something that you can do with little children across the festive period.

You can see Rebecca’s other guest posts: Ginger and Fudge Cupcakes and Star-topped Mince Pies

I love the way these turned out and how creative you can be with them. It’s completely up to you how you decide to decorate them. I went quite simple but there are endless possibilities:

Becky Reindeer BiscuitsDecorated Christmas Cookies Reindeer Cookies



250g plain flour

200g golden syrup

50g butter

1 tsp ground ginger


8 glace cherries, cut in half

30 chocolate drops

100g icing sugar

Hot water

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. For the biscuit, melt the butter and golden syrup together in a pan.
  3. Add this to the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix to form a soft dough. Chill for 1 hour.
  4. Roll out the dough and cut out using gingerbread men cutters
  5. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from tray to leave to cool.
  6. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually a small amount of water until a thick pipable paste is achieved
  7. Turn the biscuits upside down and pipe antlers, ears and a dot for each eye and nose
  8. Stick the cherry for the nose and chocolate drops for the eyes and leave to set.