Nelly Elliott

Newcastle based blogger, mama, creative, coffee-only with my oxygen, vegan, plus-size fashion lover and feminist.


Secret Santa & Easy Gingerbread Recipe.

When I saw that the lovely Amy from Weekly Bake-Off was hosting a secret Santa on twitter I jumped at the chance to take part. In hindsight I really should of thought about how much I had to do already in the run up to Christmas and how limited my time was, but my mind was fogged by the prospect of presents!

I was really worried that my secret Santa parcel was going to be a bit naff, even as I was making the items I was doubting their worth and feeling like a pretty crappy Santa. However, once the items were decorated and packaged I stepped back and surveyed my work...

I was pretty impressed with myself! So here is what I made/bought:

Gingerbread House!

It's beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas, the decorations are up, the Christmas cakes are baked and the weather men and women are harping on about the possibility of a white Christmas. I have been very jealous listening to everyone talking about their Christmas cake decorating and looking at pictures of gorgeous Christmas cakes on pinterest. Those of us out there who don't like the traditional Christmas fruit cake need a decorating challenge don't we?

Enter the magnificent Gingerbread House! They are cute, Christmassy and a bit of a challenge to decorate. So, I decided to dust off my rolling pin and piping bag and give it a go!

My Baking Mad Casting Adventure & Recipe.

Regular readers of my blog will be aware that I recently applied to take part in the new series of Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard. I was a bit apprehensive at first and came over all self-doubty and weird so wasn't going to apply. But after lots of lovely comments, tweets, facebook messages and emails I decided to go for it. If I have learned anything this year it is that life is just too short.

Last Monday I set off on a little road trip to Leeds for the casting day. My lovely lovely sister offered to drive which was great, I love road-tripping with my sister as we spend most of it just loudly singing along to anything and everything. Plus on the way back we got to messily munch on all the leftover baked goodies. Bonus!

For my casting interview I had to take something baked along to "wow" them. I spent about 2 weeks worrying and planning what I would take. I firstly decided to take my triple threat cupcakes as they were deemed the most "wow" worthy. But when I practiced them the weekend before they didn't go to plan at all.

After having a long chat with friends I finally decided to avoid cake altogether as I imagined that everyone would be taking cake/cupcakes to casting. So, I decided to stick to my strengths and went for pastry! I love making pastry and it is the thing I probably have the most experience in if I am honest...

Feeling brave: Macarons!

I had a full day of baking planned on Sunday, mostly I was planning on making heaps of biscuits for the Food Blogger Cookie Swap, but I also wanted to try a few other things while the biscuits were cooling or in-between bakes.

The biscuit recipe (which I will post on the 12th) called for only egg yolks so I had a few egg whites going spare so I flicked through a few recipe books and online sites to see what I could come up with. I came across a recipe for Macarons which seemed on face value relatively simple.
After watching The Great British Bake Off I was frankly terrified of these little french biscuits, they seemed like the hardest thing in the world, so I never even attempted them. I must of been feeling brave because I decided to give it a go...

Now onto the recipe:

Christmas Cupcakes and Cookies

It is December the first today, officially 24 sleeps until Santa and I am pretty excited. I am a big fan of all things Christmas and some of my best childhood memories are all wrapped up in Christmas. This year is going to be slightly different as it is our first one without Mum but I am determined to make it a good one and carry on all the traditions. Most of our family traditions involve watching muppet themed Christmas movies and drinking copious amounts of wine, so it shouldn't be too hard to carry on those traditions!
I am also keen to start a few traditions of my own, it should come as no surprise that most of the ideas I have come up with so far have been baking related; gingerbread houses, homemade biscuits as gifts, cherry bakewells instead of mince pies etc...

So when I saw that Craft North East were running some Christmas themed cupcake and cookie workshops I jumped at the chance to improve my skills in a Christmassy fashion....