It gets bigger and more spookatacular every year so grab your pumpkins, make sure you’ve got the food colouring in and get your Halloween bake on!
Some of the best recipes out there are American and many of them use pumpkin spice and/or pumpkin puree – and if you’ve ever tried to get these in in the UK, it’s sometimes not as easy as you think. You can online but don’t expect to walk into a British supermarket and find them a-plenty just yet. So here are two ghoulishly brilliant substitutions.
How to make your own pumpkin spice:
All you need is these 5 spices – ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cloves. That’s it!
Mix two teaspoons of cinnamon, with one teaspoon of nutmeg and ginger and half a teaspoon of allspice and cloves and you’ve got yourself enough pumpkin spice for most recipes. It’s really flavoursome and gives biscuits and cakes a warm, seasonal taste.
What can you substitute pumpkin puree with?
Whilst scooping out a pumpkin is part of the Halloween lore, most of us discard the innards as they are stringy and full of seeds. Whilst you can buy cans of pumpkin puree to make your American style pumpkin pie, or cake or biscuits, online (we’ve still to track it down on a supermarket shelf) it may be easier to use either butternut squash or sweet potato. Roast either vegetable, or a combination, cool and puree in a food processor or blender until smooth and you’ve got an easy, ready-to-hand alternative.
Handling biscuit dough and achieving the shapes you want
To get those Halloween ghosts, bats or pumpkins cut neatly, rolling out the entire dough can be tricky as biscuit dough gets sticky and warms up quickly. Instead, keep it in the fridge and take out golf-ball sized bits at a time, pressing it flat on a piece of parchment paper – to avoid it sticking to the worktop – and press out your shape individually. This process makes it far easier to get the shape you’ve just cut out as you can peel the excess dough away from the sides.
If you don’t have the cookie cutter you want, draw the shape on some cardboard, cut it out and place it lightly on top of the dough. Trace around the edges with something like a tooth pick, remove, then cut out with a small knife.
Using food colouring
The scary season is all about purples, oranges, blacks and greens with a little ‘blood’ thrown in for good, macabre measure. Opt for liquid gel colouring in tubes as this consistency doesn’t dry your batter out, like powdered colouring can or thin it out like liquid colouring might.
One of the best methods for tinting buttercream is adding a little of your food colour along with any extracts or essences you are using for that particular recipe. For buttercream, colours will deepen over time as they dry, so it’s better to stop at a shade or two lighter than needed. For Royal icing, colours will lighten as it dries, so it’s better to make it a shade or two darker than you need. Food colouring tends to bake lighter, certainly for cakes, so bear that in mind when adding your colour.
How to ice biscuits
Have you ever despaired at your freakishly messy treats and wondered how to achieve smooth, spectral-white ghost biscuits? Well, fear not, my Halloween friend.
Find a Royal icing recipe and use it to make a wall by outlining the shape of your biscuit. The icing should be the texture of toothpaste and sets hard in about 5 minutes. Make sure that you join up your trail to form an unbroken wall around the shape you need. Then add a bit of water to the same icing, pop it in a clear plastic squeezy bottle and fill it in!
If you don’t have a squeezy bottle to hand, buy a bottle of drip icing from the supermarket and reuse it. They are, of course, such a handy size.
So get creative this Halloween and magic up some incredible bakes. Using spelt flour instead of all-purpose is a nifty way of adding a few more nutrients into your sweet bakes. Grab a bag of our Super White Spelt Flour now from our shop and check out our autumnal recipes too.