Spooky bakes are fun and not just for Halloween, says former Great British Bake Off contestant Helena Garcia, who has a book to prove it called The Wicked Baker
Unfortunately this year, thanks to the spectre of Covid-19, Halloween will be different but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be magical.
Carve that pumpkin or turnip then pick up former Great British Bake Off contestant, Helena Garcia’s debut cookbook, The Wicked Baker for inspiration.
She hopes Halloween will be an opportunity for people to get creative, but is adamant there’s no need to restrict spooky baking just to October 31.
“Horror movies or mystery movies don’t just come out at Halloween!” she points out.
“Having a bit of a lark with baking – be it in the construction or the decorating – is what’s key.
“That’s the funnest bit,” she says. “You can bake a cake just to eat it, or make something out of it that you will enjoy and be really proud of.”
The Wicked Baker: Cakes And Treats To Die For by Helena Garcia, photography by Patricia Niven, is published by Quadrille, priced £12.99.
- 450g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1¾ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 165g dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 230g golden syrup, maple syrup or molasses
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the royal icing:
- 3 egg whites
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 600g icing sugar, sifted
- Blue and pink food colouring
- Cocoa powder
- Black, red and green edible ink pens
- Red powder food colour
- Sift the flour, salt and spices into a large bowl and set aside.
- Mix the butter, sugar and egg together in another bowl. Add the syrup and vanilla and continue to mix. Add in the dry ingredients and combine until smooth.
- Divide the dough in half and wrap in cling-film pressing down to create two discs. Refrigerate for three hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/180 fan/Gas Mark 6 and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Roll out the first disc of dough on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick.
- Draw the silhouette of the twins on a piece of paper and use it as a template.
- Use it to cut out six cookies; place on a baking tray and bake for 7-10 minutes.
- Repeat with the second batch of dough.Make sure all are fully cooled before icing.
- For the royal icing: Whisk the egg whites until frothy, then stir in the vanilla extract.
- Slowly add the icing sugar, mixing until fully incorporated.
- Dye small amounts of the icing pink/blue and brown.
- Decorate each twin by outlining the dress with piped blue royal icing, then filling in the outline. Use white icing for the lacy details.
- Leave to dry, then pipe on the pink belt and buttons, and brown hair.
Pipe the eyes in white and draw the eyelashes with the black edible ink pen.
- Draw the mouth with the red pen and finish the faces with a dust of red-coloured powder on the cheeks.
- Leave to dry completely before adding the lace on the belt with white icing, the shoes with black pen, and green irises and black dots on the eyeballs.
Cousin Itt baklava
- 200g shelled pistachios, chopped
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 450g kataifi dough, thawed
- 4 tbsp butter or vegan spread, melted
For the syrup:
- 300ml water
- 450g granulated sugar
- Peel of ½ a clementine
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Small amount of gingerbread dough
- Boiled sweets, crushed
- Black fondant icing
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190C/170 fan/Gas Mark 5 and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Pulse the pistachios, cinnamon and cloves in a food processor a few times to combine all the ingredients.
- Unroll the kataifi dough and using a sharp knife, divide it into four portions. Take one portion and pull the strands apart to make them fluffy, then brush a little melted butter onto one half of the portion. Spoon one-quarter of the pistachio mixture on the bottom portion and fold the other half over.
- Shape with your hands to get a rough cone-like structure.
- Repeat the process with the rest of the dough, then place all four on a tray and cook in the oven for 40 minutes or until the pastry is crispy.
- Heat the water, sugar, clementine peel and cinnamon stick together in a pan over a medium heat.
- Once the sugar dissolves, simmer for three to four minutes.
- As soon as the pastries are ready, remove them from the oven and ladle the syrup over the top of each one.
- Make 4 sets of glasses frames using gingerbread dough.
- Place the glasses frames on a lined baking tray, then fill the inner circle with crushed boiled sweets and bake in the oven for seven minutes or until the sweets melt to form ‘glass’.
- Mould four bowler hats by hand using black fondant icing.
- To attach the glasses, melt some more crushed boiled sweets in the oven and use them as glue, but do not touch the molten sweets with your bare skin!
More for Halloween…