Cooking With Charl

Amateur home cook, with a love for baking and all things garlic :)


This is my ‘better late than never’ gingerbread recipe. It featured in my christmas post, which shows the shortbread and gingerbread star cookies I gave as gifts for Christmas. Although gingerbread is traditionally a christmas thing, it’s good all year round, and ginger is fantastic for settling a funny tummy!

You will need

350g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g butter
175g light soft brown sugar
1 egg
4 tbsp golden syrup


  • Place flour, bicarb, ginger and cinnamon into a food processor, add the butter and mix until the mix looks like breadcrumbs.
  • If you don’t have a food processor rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the sugar.
  • Mix the egg and golden syrup together and add to the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Mix either by hand or in a processor until the mixture clumps together into a ball.
  • Knead the mixture to bring it all together and form a ball, refrigerate for around 20 mins.
  • Roll out the dough and cut whatever shapes you like! I like to make small stars as they are good as gifts and great for the biscuit tin!
  • Traditionally, people like to cut men out of the dough, which is great for children to decorate!
  • Preheat the oven to 180c/gm 4 and grease baking trays, greaseproof paper always works best 🙂
  • Place cut out shapes on the baking trays and place in the fridge for 30 mins (this helps maintain the shape when cooking).
  • Bake in the oven for 10-12 mins for stars and 12-15 for gingerbread men.
  • When baked, the cookies should be slightly darker in colour and may still be a little soft but will harden when cooling.
  • When cooled decorate however you wish 🙂


I hope this recipe inspires you to make gingerbread whatever time if year!

Happy baking 🙂

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Cupcakes (basic recipe)

This recipe is especially for my friend Ali , she likes to bake but always cheats with cake mixes! (Much to my disgust! Lol) I’ve told her how easy it is to make cupcakes from scratch and thought I’d post it on here for others to have a look 🙂

This recipe can easily be doubled or used as a basic Victoria sponge recipe if divided between 2 shallow cake tins.

You will need

(Makes 6 large cupcakes)

110g self raising flour ( for plain flour add 2 tsp baking powder)
100g unsalted softened butter
100g caster sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
2tbsp milk


There are so many techniques that people use for sponge, I find the all in one method works well for a basic sponge. I have included 2 techniques in this recipe 🙂

The ‘all in one’ method

  • Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix with an electric mixer until well combined

The creaming method

  • Place butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix until light and creamy.
  • Gradually mix in the egg and vanilla.
  • Fold in the flour (and baking powder if using plain flour) a little at a time.
  • When mixture seems to appear stiff add the milk and then continue to add the flour.


Separate into 6 muffin cases and bake in a preheated oven at 180c gm4 for 15-20 mins until cakes spring back when touched.



150g butter
300g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp milk

Whisk all ingredients together until light and fluffy, start slowly making sure icing sugar doesn’t fly everywhere.

Using a star shaped nozzle, fill a piping bag with the buttercream frosting and pipe swirls on top on cooled cupcakes starting from the outside working into the middle.


I will be doing separate posts for other cupcakes as I tend to bake a few different types, these are just 2 of my favourite recipes that I bake. You can get many different decorations now from the supermarket such as stars, silver balls, glitter etc which make a simple cake look special! Fantastic given as a gift 🙂

Vanilla chocolate marble cupcakes (picture)

  • Make cupcake batter as normal, when well combined split the mixture into two equal portions and mix 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder into one half.
  • One teaspoon at a time, fill the cupcake cases with alternate chocolate and vanilla batter until 3/4 full.
  • Take a teaspoon handle and gently swirl the 2 mixtures together in the cases, careful not to over mix.
  • Bake as normal 180c gm 4 for 15-20 mins
  • For the chocolate frosting I just add a teaspoon of cocoa powder into the basic buttercream frosting.

Sticky jam cupcakes

  • Make basic cupcake batter.
  • Put 2 teaspoons of batter in each cupcake case and make a small dip in the middle.
  • Place a teaspoon of jam in the middle of each cupcake and then continue to fill with remaining batter.
  • Bake as normal 180c gm4 for 15-20 mins, when cool decorate with buttercream frosting
  • As I say this is my fool proof cupcake recipe that I always fall back on, and once you’ve mastered this you can become quite inventive with flavours and frostings.

Happy baking 🙂

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Chilli con carne/chilli beef tacos winter warmer :)

It’s the start of the year, it’s cold, dark and depressing! So I decided to make some chilli to warm everyone up! This recipe doubles as chilli beef tacos all you need to do is reduce it longer to create a thicker sauce. (Also, I leave out the beans for tacos!)

You will need

500g lean mince beef
2 cans plum tomatoes
2 beef stock cubes
4 onions
4 garlic cloves
1tsp ground corriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2tsp ground chilli powder
2tsp smoked paprika
1tsp paprika
2tsp mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
Can of red kidney beans (chilli con carne version)

To serve
Plain boiled rice (90g rice per person)
12 taco shells


  • Brown the mince in a hot saucepan, no oil needed, tip away any excess fat.
  • Add chopped onions and garlic, I like to use a garlic crusher, it saves so much time in the kitchen as you don’t need to peel the garlic! Just pop it in and crush! It’s my ‘can’t live without’ kitchen tool.


  • Next, add the beef stock cubes and all of the dry herbs and spices and mix well over heat for 1-2 minutes, careful not to burn the spices!


  • Lastly add the plum tomatoes and a can of water, break up the tomatoes in the pan with a wooden spoon, leave to simmer for at least an hour.


For chilli

  • Add the kidney beans after the tomatoes and water and leave to simmer in the sauce.
  • For me, I usually simmer for around 1 hour to create a nice ooozy sauce to pour over hot rice

For tacos

  • Leave the beans out if the mix, and simmer for around 1 1/2 hours until the sauce is almost dry, being careful not to burn it!
  • Serve in warm taco shells with lettuce and cheese 🙂




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It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

After having a really busy day at work and a boring night ahead, what else was I going to do but bake? So I thought is share with you a picture of my manic kitchen full of biscuits, 345 to be exact! Now I just need someone to eat them all! Gift bags at the ready 🙂

(Gingerbread recipe will follow!)

Merry Christmas 🙂



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Waiting patiently

Was browsing through old photos and came across this delightful picture of one of my friends dogs, yoshi waiting on my mat in the kitchen for the latest bake 🙂 he’s always sniffing around for treats and always appreciates all the cooking that goes on in our home whenever he comes round!


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My Christmas Shortbread

This year I have decided to make little shortbread gifts for friends and family for Christmas, I have already made 2 batches and they don’t stay around for long! They are super easy to make and the recipe can be easily doubled.

Makes around 60 stars

  • – 170g plain flour
  • – 70g sugar
  • – 120g butter


  • – If using a food processor mix all ingredients together until well combined and starts to create a ball.
  • – If the butter is cold it will form a breadcrumb like texture, if you tip this out onto a clean working surface and start to work it together, the heat from your hand will help soften the butter and form a ball.
  • – If you do not own a food processor rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, when well combined add the sugar and repeat step 2.
  • – Flour a clean work surface and roll out the dough to around 1/2 cm thickness for crisp biscuits.
  • – You can then cut the shortbread into any shape you like, I like to use a small star cutter as it works great for guests or packaging up for little gifts! (cutter from wilkinsons)


  • – Cut out your stars and place onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Any left over dough form back together with your hands, roll out and cut more stars!!
  • – When all stars are cut, places baking trays into the fridge and chill for 30 mins.
  • – Preheat oven to gm4/160 fan/ and bake for 10-12 mins.
  • – When cooked the shortbread will start to bubble on top, and be a very light golden brown.
  • – When ready leave to cool on the tray as the biscuits will be quite soft still (they will harden as they cool)
  • – Remove and place on a wire cooling rack and sprinkle with sugar while still warm.


I have some cute little bags I like to put these in to give to people at Christmas. These polythene bags are easily found online.


I always make more for the biscuit tin! Not that I get many, everyone gets to them before I do 😦

I hope you like my recipe 🙂
Merry Christmas!!!!


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Tomato Bruschetta


Starting off simple,

I came across these lovely looking tomatoes and couldn’t resist! These various tomatoes can be quite difficult to find and ordinary red salad tomatoes or cherry tomatoes work just as well but does not deliver the vibrant burst of colour, I found mine on the off chance whilst wondering around lidl! They are slightly more expensive than standard tomatoes but definitely worth a try, my personal favorites are the ones that look like little watermelons 🙂

This dish looks and is very simple but Ive learnt a few tricks that make it that little bit special!

  • Firstly get your hands on some ciabatta bread, I like to use the indiviual ones. Cut in half length ways and drizzle all sides with olive oil.
  • Heat up a griddle pan until smoking hot and place the ciabatta soft side up straight onto the bars.
  • Whilst ciabatta is toasting, cut tomatoes into various shapes, (i like it to look quite rustic!) and place in a bowl, add, a few chopped basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  • If using standard salad tomatoes my advice would be to peel them, to do this boil the kettle and score the underside of the tomaotes with a cross (not the end that attactched to the vine) place in a bowl and cover them in boiling water, leave for 2-4 mins then blast them in cold water to stop the cooking process. Now the outer skin should just peel straight off.
  • Keep an eye on the ciabatta turning once, you want nice bar marks on the bread but be careful not to burn it!
  • Once ciabatta is toasted on both sides take off the heat. Take a garlic clove, cut the end off and rub the garlic over the hot toasted bread, this makes the world of difference and I NEVER leave this step out!
  • Finally spoon over the tomatoes and drizzle and juices and oil left over in the bowl over the bruschetta.

As I said this is a very simple dish to create and its what I love to eat as a snack, if your as mad on garlic as I am then you can crush half a clove directly into the tomatoes when seasoning for an extra garlicky hit!

I hope you enjoy my first proper post 🙂



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Welcome to Cooking With Charl :)

Welcome to Cooking With Charl,

I decided to start a home cooking/baking blog, as I spend all my free time in the kitchen and when looking for new recipes I have found quite a few blogs very helpful so I thought I could return the favour!

Hopefully I will inspire others to get in the kitchen and get creative!

I have been cooking from an early age helping mom out and creating a mess! Since then, cooking is my one and only hobby, I do a lot of general home cooking for me and the other half and for for friends, but my passion is baking! I plan to share all sorts of recipes that I have tried and tested, along with adaptations of my own.

I hope you enjoy reading this!


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