I love a good Christmas fruitcake, which makes me deeply uncool, right? Wrong, stooges! Let me be clear though, I’m talking about my Christmas cake – a lighter, tastier, more-sponge-less-fruit Christmas cake.

I’m not going to be shy about this one – the recipe is utter genius, and every fruitcake-hater I’ve ever tried it out on concedes that it’s good. It has beautiful plump pieces of easily identifiable delicious dried fruits, not miscellaneous clumps of bitter, black-coloured maybe-raisins and something-like-sultanas that stick to your fillings and make your jaw ache.

Some traditions are sacred though. I do like it with a bit of rustic marzipan icing on top, and I insist on a dusting of icing sugar and a selection of random plastic Christmas figurines to jazz it up – I’ve got a Santa, half a sleigh, some trees and a deer. Failing that, you can use a good Royal icing like on Jamie Magazine’s gluten-free cake to make a snow-scape on the top.

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Baking preserved fruit into a cake is said to have originated around the Twelfth night celebration. This is the night before the last day of Christmas celebrations according to the Christian faith, and often a “Twelfth cake” was made to celebrate, incorporating any leftover Christmas pudding into the cake mix. Over time, as exotic fruits became more readily available, fruit cakes became more elaborate and often used as table centerpieces, with their decorations becoming more glamorous – think sugar-frosted whole fruits and satin ribbons.

Historically throughout Europe, dried fruit has been used in many bakes, not just Christmas cakes – for example German stollen or Italian panforte could be described as versions of a cake with added candied fruit. In the Caribbean, black cake is a still popular cake made with dried fruit soaked in rum, often over a long period of time, making for a really dark, rich and heavy cake. Mine’s not quite as intense as this – in fact it could really be called “Fruitcake for sissies” – but when it tastes this good who cares?

Merry Christmas from Bee’s bakery!

Bee’s unbelievable Christmas cake recipe

First, some tips:

  1. This recipe is really forgiving, so choose fruits that you love, as the final cake will still be a cracker! Go heavy on the apricots and cherries if you want a lighter, fresher-tasting cake, or go heavy on the figs and prunes if you fancy a rich, darker cake.
  2. Leave enough time to soak your fruits overnight before making and baking – it makes all the difference.
  3. Store your fruitcake wrapped in parchment and then foil – it’ll keep for around six weeks in a clean tin.
  4. Don’t feel you need to feed your cake with alcohol – by pre-soaking the fruit and choosing lighter and more flavoursome fruits, there’s no need to add extra the booze, in my opinion.

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons of liquid – for example a mixture of orange and cranberry juice, cool black earl grey tea or if you’re super keen, brandy or another spirit
  • 900g dried fancy fruits like apricots, dates figs, prunes, glacé cherries, dried blueberries, and candied peel, chopped into 1cm pieces.
  • 500g of your choice of dried vine fruits like blackcurrants, raisins, sultanas (those giant California flame raisins are great) or cranberries – lots of different colours are greatThe zest and juice of a large orange
and a big lemon
  • 350g soft butter, at room temperature
  • 300g of soft brown sugar – a combination of light brown and darker muscovado works well –again, use more of the former if you want a light sponge, and more of the latter if you want a bit more colour.
  • 5 large free-range eggs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 150g shelled and roughly chopped nuts – I especially love pecans, but hazelnuts or almonds are good too, and less expensive.
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 350g plain flour (a mixture of white and wholemeal is great)

The night before you bake your cake, warm your liquid by simmering in a small pan (do not boil it), then pour over all of your dried fruit and zest in a bowl. Mix thoroughly and leave to cool and soak overnight – your fruit will be juicy and plump in the morning – perfect for baking. Leave your butter out of the fridge overnight too, to soften up.

On the day, pre-heat your oven to 160°C/325°F and double-line a round 20cm baking tin with parchment, leaving a couple of cm sticking out of the top. Combine your soft butter with the sugars in a food mixer or, if you’re working on toning up your biceps, go for it by mixing by hand in a large bowl. Cream until a light fluffy mixture forms – it’ll be lighter in colour than what you started with – the fluffier the better.

Crack in the eggs one at a time, with a little spoonful of the almonds each time to stop the mixture curdling. Once combined, add in the flour, baking powder and the remainder of the ground almonds, plus the nuts, and mix until just combined. Then add in the pre-soaked fruit – there shouldn’t be much liquid left at the bottom of the bowl, but do add in any dribbles that are left. Mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is combined.

Pour the mixture into your cake tin until it’s 3/4 full and ensure the top of the mix is flat, so you get a nice evenly-topped cake. Depending on your mix you might have lots left over, so just make another smaller cake or lots of little Christmas cupcakes.

Bake for one hour, then turn the cake around (in case your oven has any hot spots), reduce the temperature to 150ºC/300ºF and bake for another hour. Check the cake to see whether it’s done by inserting a skewer or the tip of a thin-bladed knife – when its done, there might be a couple of crumbs sticking to the knife, but there should be no raw mixture. It might need up to another 30 minutes depending on your mixture.

Leave the cake to cool inside the tin so that it keeps its shape, and when ready to serve, either dust a little bit of icing sugar on the top, or cover in marzipan and decorate however you like best! It also keeps really well, so I tend to bake my Christmas cake in early December before things go completely mad at the Bakery with Christmas orders.

These are my favourite new creation – a “healthier” dark chocolate vegan brownie, that you make in a nutribullet (or magimix, or with a stick blender, or potato masher…)

I’m a massive fan of learning new tricks when baking, and this recipe definitely ticks that box…

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For me, the most important thing in baking is the TASTE. Baked goods have to be delicious, better even, than your favourite indulgent version – otherwise, what’s the point?  For me, my favourite brownie ever is the Ottolenghi hazlenut brownies, which taste incredible.

Baked goods need to taste good, but, if they then have a secret, healthier or different ingredient combination, then this is what makes them truly “better”. These brownies are vegan, which is great for many reasons, gluten free, great for coeliacs or those with IBS, dairy free, great for lactose intolerant people like my friend Kate, and made with beans, great if you love beans.

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So here, with great pleasure, because these bean brownies are really lush indeed, is the recipe!

The only piece of kit that you need is a blender, or a chopper, a masher, or something, anything that will blitz your black beans into a smooth, speckledy paste…oh and a bowl, a spoon, some scales…agh you get it…Bee.xx

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Bee’s vegan black bean nutribullet brownies

Ingredients:

400g tinned ready to cook black beans (or pre-soaked and cooked black beans, which take forever to prepare but are much cheaper)

2 tbsp ground flax seeds, mixed with 6 tbsp hot water to a thick gooey paste

70g brown sugar (or coconut sugar)

80g cocoa powder (or about 70g raw cacao)

80g dark chocolate, chips or finely chopped (dairy free if needed, save some for the top!)

60g maple syrup / honey (obvs not vegan)

3 tbsp melted coconut / olive / vegetable oil

1 tsp good quality vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

1 large pinch of sea salt (optional, for the top)

2-3 tbsp warm peanut butter (optional, for beautiful drizzling)

Recipe:

Throw the beans, oil, flax mush and vanilla extract into your blender / nutribullet (I used the 900W version with the giant cup thing) / magi mix and blitz until you have a smooth speckled paste. You can do this by hand, but you’d need to very finely chop the beans up to ensure there are no bean skins in your teeth after eating – which takes forever.

Add the rest of the ingredients (barring the choc chips) into the mix, and blitz again until well combined. If the mixture is too thick to mix, add a splash of non-dairy milk and blitz again.

Pour / scrape / dollop your mix into a lined brownie pan, I used a 20cm x 30cm pan, and spread evenly. Pour on your peanut butter and sprinkle the salt and a few choc chips on top. Bake at 160 degrees celcius for around 30 – 40 mins, when a knife tip will still come out gooey, but that’s what you want, right?

Allow to cool, and enjoy.

Bee’s Bakery wedding cakes are in VOGUE!

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Here’s what they said:

If you are going to gild the lily, you might as well do it on your wedding day, when even flourish is imbued with sentiment. This more-is-more philosophy can be applied to everything: invites, venue decorations, table settings, favors, and even the tiered and layered cake that, ideally, tastes as good as it looks. While marvels can be created with fondant icing and sugar flowers, a cake adorned with fresh-cut blooms cannot be beat. Few confections are more photogenic, whether edible flowers are mixed into the frosting (see slide 10), placed posylike at the top (slide 17), or cascaded down the tiers (slide 19). Another option is to order an extra flower girl’s crown—for the cake.

This awesome recipe is from my first cookery book – Bee’s Brilliant biscuits, and is such a delicious recipe, I’m so happy to share it!

Image credit: Sisley White

Image credit: Sisley White

The dough (or goo, a more accurate description) uses mushed up avocado as the base, so its creamy, smooth, with a  lovely gooey consistency, but without using animal products. The mixture can be made with gluten free flour, and is dairy free too, if you use vegan / very dark chocolate in it (some dark chocolates still contain milk solids).

The recipe is easy peasy to scale up or down, about 4 x the recipe will give you enough mixture to create this super cool 5 inch round cookie cake – I filled this one with ombre vegan buttercream.

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If you happen to make too much mixture (!), then I suggest you freeze gold ball sized bits of it, and when needed / wanted, bake straight from frozen for about 15 minutes.

Let me know how you get on with the baking – remember that you need really ripe and well mashed avocados – no lumpy bits please! Tag me on instagram / twitter @beesbakery and tag it #BeesBrilliantBiscuits and I’ll regram the pics!

Bee xx

 

Bee’s Dark chocolate and avocado cookies

Ingredients (Makes six large cookies)

  • 1 large ripe avocado (when it’s skinned and de-seeded you’ll need around 110g)
  • 1 egg
  • 150 g light brown soft sugar
  • 40 g cocoa powder / 35g cacao powder
  • 40 g melted chocolate (dark or milk, if you want a dairy free cookie check the ingredients and choose a choc with no milk solids)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 50 g gluten free self raising flour (any combination of the following flours will work – rice flour, gram flour, ground almonds, soya flour, coconut flour – its good to mix up a few different types in each batch )
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum (optional –without this, your cookie will be crumblier)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 80 g roughly chopped dark chocolate (again look for no milk solids if you want a dairy free cookie)

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 170°C and line a baking tray / sheet with parchment paper.

Scoop your avocado into a large bowl and thoroughly mash until a smooth green goo is formed – no lumps please! Puree it if you have a food mixer / blender.

Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and beat with a wooden spoon using good old muscle power, until a nice shiny consistent wet mix is formed. It’ll look like a very sticky and dark coloured cake mix rather than a firm cookie dough. If you taste a little of the mixture at this point, you’ll be amazed at how “green” it tastes, but after baking, all of the vegetable taste is gone – thank goodness!

Add most of your chocolate chunks, saving some of the larger pieces to press into the top of each cookie before baking.

Using two metal spoons or an ice cream scoop, dollop roughly even sized round shaped cookies onto your baking tray – larger is always better with these ones, and they don’t spread much when baking. If you prefer a thicker fudgier cookie, pile the mix high and be prepared to bake for the full time. If you like a thinner chewier cookie then spread it out more and bake for less time. Press a couple of chocolate chunks into the top before baking.

Bake for 12-15 minutes – the cookies will still be slightly soft to the touch when done, but do firm up and go nice and gooey after cooling.

Freeze any leftover mixture for up to one month, and eat your baked cookies within 3 days otherwise they’ll go a wee bit chewy / yuck.

Tag me on instagram / twitter @beesbakery and tag it #BeesBrilliantBiscuits and I’ll regram the pics!

Bee.xx

 

The Huffington Post’s foodie-offshoot Homemade, has written a cool little article about me, my book and included a couple of recipes too, including my awesome bacon biscotti recipe!

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https://www.homemadebyyou.co.uk/recipes/baking/barbecue-bacon-biscotti

 

Here’s an excerpt:

But biscuits? Biscuits we like.

Speedy, simple, scrumptious, honest one-bowl goodness; minimal mess, maximum taste and ready in the time it takes Kanye West to tweet his way to 10 new enemies. Biscuits are the bake that needs to be revived.

Leading the charge to the biscuit tin is Bee Berrie. A microbiologist by trade, she switched petri dishes for pastel frosting in 2012, and now heads up her own bakery in London. She’s made a giant replica Kinder Egg for ITV, baked a 15-stone edible Marc Jacobs perfume bottle and shown her mad skills on telly with king of kooky chef Heston Blumenthal. With her debut biscuit cookbook out, she’s evangelical on the crumbly joy of cookies.

But according to Bee, biscuits are best. “They’re quick, easy and more versatile than cake,” she tells us. “They have short bake times, last for ages and leftover dough can be whacked in the freezer for another time.”

As for top tips, it’s all about going one of two ways: “Either pick flavours that complement each other (like chocolate and coffee), or flavours that contrast (like bacon bits and maple syrup). Rosemary works well with citrus fruits, warm spices like cardamom are a treat with butter or creamy frosting, and nut butters are brilliant with chocolate.”

And, fortunately, the biscuit train is easy to adapt to vegan/dairy-free/gluten-free needs. “I make my own blend of chickpea and rice flour for people who can’t tolerate wheat, and replace butter with avocado when I need to,” says Bee. “It works like a charm and you can’t taste the fruit at all – it just gives them a creamy texture.”

Try some of Bee’s recipes below and tweet us a picture when you’re done @homemade

Full article: https://www.homemadebyyou.co.uk/articles/cooking/put-down-that-lemon-drizzle-people-its-time-you-got-re-acquainted-with-baking-biscuits?preview=16012272

 

My first recipe book called Bee’s Brilliant Biscuits is OUT in the UK yippee!

(You can order it online here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1910496464 )

We had a little party to celebrate, at the most beautiful venue, Paper Mill Studios in Islington, and it was a little bit of a blast! Drinks were provided by Kamm & Sons, Dalston Cola, Joe’s Tea and Camden Hells Lager, and food, in the form of sweet and savoury biscuits (of course) was provided by my recipe book, with some additional amazing cheese from Daylesford Organic. (links below).

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We baked around 1000 biscuits for the event, with recipes ranging from our famous jammy dodgers, to our gluten and dairy free chocolate and avocado cookies, and we also had some takeaway dog treats on standby too.

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Around 110 people came, a mixture of friends and family (thanks for coming Mum), and some of my awesome kitchen neighbours too. It was great to finally meet Elaine Stocks from BBC Good Food, Felicity Cloake, and lovely to see Edd Kimber, Chetna Makan and Juliet Sear again too.

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We had a biscuit decoration workshop run by a member of my team called Gina, a giant biscuit mural that we coloured in with edible pens and put on the wall by Laura my kitchen manager. Charlie Philips, my good friend and prop stylist for the book, made an incredible biscuit piñata, which was filled with hundreds of iced gem cookies – here are some pics of it in action:

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Here are some kind words written by my Topshop events team client: wow!

BEE’S BRILLIANT BISCUITS.

“When you work in events and you go to events organised by other people, it’s hard not to critique where they’ve gone wrong and moan about what you would have done differently. I know it makes me sound like a prick but it’s often something I can’t help myself doing. Last night I went to an event that was absolutely perfect, it was organised better than I ever could have done myself and every single aspect made me smile.

Bee Berrie is is mastermind behind the Bee’s Bakery biscuit phenomenon and has been baking the best Jammy Dodgers in London since she gave up a career in science back in 2012. Bee has now branched out beyond just baking delicious little treats and is passing her skills onto the world with her amazing new book Bee’s Brilliant Biscuits. It’s no lie either, her biscuits are brilliant and I couldn’t recommend them more.”

Kamm & Sons: http://kammandsons.com

Dalston Cola: http://www.dalstoncola.co.uk

Joe’s Tea:http://joesteacompany.com

Daylesford: http://daylesford.com

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My recipe book is out on March 10th…but THIS is the first place in the UK you can get hold of a signed copy…and its a beauty:

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On Mothers Day, Sunday 6th March, I’ll be signing books, chatting to lots of you and doing a little demonstration at Daylesford Farm in Kingham, Gloucestershire at 11am…and I’d love to see you there!

Here’s a link to their page for directions and details: http://daylesford.com

Great news – my first recipe book Bee’s Brilliant Biscuits, will be stocked by the following shops across the UK:

Waterstones – UK Nationwide and online: https://www.waterstones.com/book/bees-brilliant-biscuits/bee-berrie/9781910496466

Foyles bookshop: branches in Charing Cross, Royal Festival Hall, Waterloo, Westfield http://www.foyles.co.uk

Daylesford Organic (Branches in Pimlico, Notting Hill, Marylebone, Kingham in Gloucs): http://daylesford.com/locations/

 

Amazon:http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1910496464

Dulwich Picture Gallery: http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

Australia, Booktopia: http://www.booktopia.com.au/bee-s-br…/prod9781910496466.html

USA-A-A:  http://www.amazon.com/Bees-Brilliant-Biscuits-…/…/1910496464

Yippeeeeeeee!

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Hello!

I learnt a new trick this week…how to dry out exotic fruits and make them look gorgeous on a cake…here’s a pic:

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I’ve been receiving more and more requests for edible petal cakes during the winter, and rather than source them from expensive foreign importers (who probably use all sorts of pesticides etc), I wanted to find a way to work WITH the sparse petals that I can get from my amazing grower in the UK, but boosting them with pretty hand made dried fruit.

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I dehydrated thinly sliced fruits overnight to get this affect: kiwis, apples, strawberries (my favourite), pears and carrots…and i think they look lush!

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