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.

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-15-35-30

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…

img_6457

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.

img_6264

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

img_6444     img_6447

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!

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 09.23.29

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.

IMG_4457            IMG_1183

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

 

Hello everybody!

I was asked to write a recipe or four by the Jamie Oliver gang, on the subject of a healthier type of baking…lower in sugar, no animal products and tasty as you like.

I adapted a recipe from my forthcoming book Bee’s Brilliant Biscuits for this – it uses oats and applesauce as its base ingredients and is totally vegan with no added sugar.

Here’s a snippet from the recipe, full instructions are here: http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/oaty-cookies-one-dough-four-ways/

Photography by James Lyndsay, styling by Elspeth Meston…nice work guys!

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 13.44.19  Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 11.54.04

Yes, I’m a baker, so  it stands to reason that I don’t have too much of a problem cooking with sugar, butter and gluten most of the time. However, if I can bake something delicious and full of energy that just so happens to NOT contain these things, I consider it a win all round!

We bake lots of different recipes at Bee’s Bakery,  including gluten-free, vegan or more health-conscious bakes. These oaty cookies are just the sort of baking I like to do when I’m making something for health-conscious friends, or with kids, or even when it’s just me at home. It’s important for me to have a reasonably healthy diet at home, to make up for all the broken biscuits I eat at work!

The recipe is adapted from my first recipe book, Bee’s Brilliant Biscuits, which is out early in 2016 and contains plenty of other vegan and health-conscious recipes, too.
Read more at http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/oaty-cookies-one-dough-four-ways/#t31DX3jYXtwUi3aX.99

 

 

 

Hey everyone!

We have TONS of really fun Christmas projects coming up, and we’ll need a couple of Christmas elves to help with them…

We’re looking for enthusiastic young people, with some experience of working in a catering kitchen / baking, for an immediate start – we’re based in NW10.

If you fancy baking some of the below, learning a few new tricks, working in a fun, friendly small bakery business, then drop me a line – beeberrie@gmail.com.

BeesBakery09140230 copy BeesBakery09140198 copy BeesBakery09140188 copy BeesBakery09140219 copy CHRISMAS CAKE 2 photo 1 Jamie Jammies Grazia BOOK layouts

Its nearly International Friends Day and Grazia magazine included our colourful cookies in their gift-list…

This picture is super cool! And you can order online at Etsy!

Grazia

A few months ago, I was asked by the team at Jamie Oliver to come up with a recipe for a dairy AND gluten free cookie recipe – no mean feat!

I don’t follow a particular diet eliminating any type of food, but I do steer clear of dairy some of the time, and what i love about this recipe most of all is that first of all, its delicious, but it also has certain health benefits, a winning combo in my eyes!

 

I discovered that avocado can be a fantastic alternative to butter in this context…so here’s the recipe that was published on Jamie Oliver.com

image: http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/09/feature-header22.jpg

IMG_1857

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado (when it’s skinned and de-seeded we need around 100g)
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum (optional – without this, your cookie will be crumblier)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 150g light brown soft sugar (or caster sugar)
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g gluten-free flour (any combination of the following flours will work – standard gluten-free flour, rice flour, gram flour, quinoa flour)
  • 100g roughly-chopped dark chocolate (over 70% cocoa solids should always be dairy free, but check the packet)

Method

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and line a baking tray/sheet with parchment paper. Scoop your avocado into a large bowl and mash thoroughly until it’s a smooth green goo. Once smooth, add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and beat using good old muscle power with a wooden spoon, until a nice shiny consistent wet mix forms. 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 – it’s literally like eating raw cabbage, 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, dollop evenly 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 bake for the full time, and if you like a thinner chewier cookie then spread them out more and bake for less. Press a couple of chocolate chunks into the top, then bake for around 12-15 minutes – they will still be slightly soft to the touch, but do firm up once allowed to cool


Here are some pics of my most recent wedding and party cakes! I bake everything to commission, and my designs are totally customisable. I still have a few spots available for wedding cakes for this summer, so get in touch if you’d like one! bee@bees.jessepearson.net

Bee.xx

This is a dinky little pretty thing of a birthday cake – tiers measure 6inches and 4 inches, to serve around 20 people. LOVE the yellow.

 

Bees bakery, yellow petal cake

 

 

And this pretty little rose gold inspired number was commissioned by Etsy UK – for their first ever wedding fair! Its made with edible gold sequins, and lots of beautiful paper flowers…which i particularly love…

ETSY

 

This cake is the cousin of the yellow cake, but this time for a wedding in hampstead. Made with edible flower petals, the amazing thing about this cake is that its possible to choose the shape and style of the petals. So if big and pink is your thing then great, but if tiny and blue is more your bag, then that works too – totally customisable.

pink 2

If not, just DO it!

I post lots of cool pictures, often of our cookies and cakes in progress so you’ll get lots of inside info on how the bakery works…

www.instagram.com/beesbakery

Here’s what you’re missing…

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 20.49.02