How to wrap the Perfect Present

Sue from our Fakenham store shows you how to wrap the perfect present in this video >



Homemade Mincemeat and Mincemeat Cookies – Norfolk’s largest range of home furnishings

A lovely festive blog for you from Pixie Hall Cakes for homemade mincemeat and mincemeat cookies.


I’ve got a bit of a treat for you this month. I’ve got two recipes for you and they are both really easy but totally tasty!

Having covered the much loved Christmas cake last year, it was decided that a mincemeat recipe would be appropriate for this year’s festive offering. It’s a real love it or hate it thing and I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that I love it! I’ll also give you a recipe for mincemeat cookies in case you’re sick of mince pies!

I’ve been making my own mincemeat for years now and there’s really nothing quite like it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with shop bought but it just doesn’t compare to the real deal. Also, you can customise your homemade batch with whatever fruit you like so it’s guaranteed to be tasty.

Mincemeat is so traditional at this time of year. It’s full to the brim with all the dried fruit, spices and booze that we associate with Christmas. It’s fairly well known that in the 15th-17th centuries, mincemeat recipes contained actual meat along with the fruit. While this may not be to today’s tastes, it reminds me of the flavours found in Moroccan tagines. It was the Victorians who turned sweet, fruity mincemeat (along with many other things) into a yuletide treat. I’m really glad they did!

My mincemeat recipe involves cooking the mixture. This isn’t necessarily traditional but it means that the flavours really meld together and the mixture can be used immediately without the need to let the mincemeat mature. Another benefit of this is that the house will smell amazing while it’s cooking and is guaranteed to put you in the festive mood! You have a choice in the way your cook it. I use a slow cooker because it’s easy and I’m lazy. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can cook it on low in the oven. It works perfectly either way. Remember you can swap and adjust the fruits you use but make sure you keep the total weight the same.

On to the recipes

Homemade MincemeatMincemeat

450g cooking apples
115g candied peel
115g glacé cherries
115g dried apricots
115g blanched almonds
150ml rum (or brandy, sloe gin or any other spirit you fancy)
225g dried cranberries
225g sultanas
450g raisins
225g brown sugar
225g suet (I used vegetable suet)
2tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground allspice
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp nutmeg
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange

Peel, core and chop the apples, cherries, apricots and almonds. Place into the slow cooker or into a large, heatproof casserole dish.
Put 75ml of the rum and the rest of the ingredients into the pot and stir until thoroughly mixed.
If you’re using a slow cooker, cover the mixture and cook on high for 1 hour. Stir the mixture well then recover and reduce the temperature to low. Cook for a further 2 hours stirring halfway through to prevent the mincemeat from sticking to the sides of the cooker.

If you’re using the oven, preheat it to 110C. Cover your dish loosely with foil and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Once cooked, stir the rest of the rum into the mixture and leave the mixture to cool completely stirring occasionally. Once cool, spoon into sterilised jars, cover and store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.


Mincemeat Cookies

These are a quick and easy treat and will be popular with grownups and kids alike! This recipe makes around 12 cookies but scales up easily to make more should you wish to.

Mincemeat CookiesIngredients:

125g butter, melted
100g dark brown sugar
75g caster sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla
150g flour
Pinch of salt
½ tsp baking soda
12 tsp mincemeat

Preheat the oven to 180C and line 3 trays with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, sugars, egg and vanilla together until smooth.

Stir in the flour, salt and baking soda and mix until fully incorporated.

Take a walnut ball sized pice of dough (I like to use a medium ice cream scoop for this so the cookies are all the same size) and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball in the palm of your hand and place a teaspoon of mincemeat into the centre. Carefully mould the dough around the filling and seal tightly. Shape the dough into a ball again and place on the tray before very slightly flattening it. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes until puffed and golden. Allow to cool thoroughly before eating – mincemeat gets hot!


Linds Hall runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography



Mal Harradine’s Saddle Back Roast Potatoes

With the visit of Mal Harradine to Aldiss at Fakenham this weekend, we thought we would whet your appetite with his recipe for Saddle Back Roast Potatoes – in time for you to use this festive period.

Recipe for Saddle Back Roast Potatoes


  • 8 good sized Maris Piper potatoes
  • 2 tbsp of goose fat, melted
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of English dried mustard
  • Fresh thyme & rosemary


If your roasties are crispy on the outside but empty on the inside, try this method.

By slitting the tops of the potatoes before cooking, this allows the lovely flavours in the fat etc to be absorbed by the potato – looks pretty impressive too when they are cooked!

Serves : 4        Prep/Cooking Time : 70 mins

Tip : You can use olive or vegetable oil to douse your potatoes but goose fat gives the best results

Prepare and Roast

Cut your peeled potatoes in half longways. Par boil in salted boiling water for 5 minutes, drain.

With a sharp paring knife, slice down to 3/4 of the depth of the potato, making the slits about 2cm apart.

Place in a roasting tin, cut side down, drizzle with the goose fat, sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and a sprinkling of dried English Mustard, and the fresh thyme and rosemary

Put into a preheated oven 230°C for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200°C and cook for 35 – 45 minutes.


There are more great cooking tips and recipes at or meet the man himself at one of his regular appearances at Aldiss.

Recipe for Halloween Pinata Cookies – Norfolk’s largest range of home furnishings

This week’s guest blog is a spooooky recipe for Halloween Pinata Cookies from Pixie Hall Cakes

Halloween Pinata Cookies

I can’t quite believe that it’s October already. I also feel that I’ve been saying this every month since March. This year is disappearing before my eyes and I’m not sure I’m ready!

October for me is all about spooky. I love the dark nights that autumn brings and the chill in the air that means that winter is lurking just around the corner. I’ve been checking out all the skulls and spiders and creepy crawly things adorning the shops at the moment and I’m basically in my element. If I could have this stuff up in my house all year round, I would. Actually, I sort of do. I’m pretty sure about 75% of my belongings have skulls on them!

Aldiss asked me to pick something kid friendly and Halloween inspired for this month’s recipe and I was more than happy to oblige! I’ve been trawling Pinterest looking at all the amazing Halloween treats and wishing there were another 5 hours in each day so I could make one of each and have a super tasty Halloween party. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible so I opted for one of the latest baking trends doing the rounds at the moment and that is piñata cookies. They are really easy to make and so effective. Kids love finding the little surprises inside their cookies and can easily help with making them.

Halloween Pinata Cookies

The dough is a basic sugar cookie, it’s important to chill it thoroughly so that the cookies don’t spread during baking, that way you know your cookies will fit together. These can be made in any shapes you like but I chose some classic Halloween pumpkins and skulls for a spooky treat!

When filling the cookies, you want to choose something small enough to fit in the gap created by the middle cookie. I chose some bright blue bubblegum Millions and some tiny Halloween sprinkles made up of bats and pumpkins. Again, choose whatever you like and that will fit. There are so many options available that you can customise these to whatever theme you wish.

Halloween Pinata Cookies

On to the recipe:


220g butter, softened
170g sugar
1tsp vanilla
1 egg
400g plain flour
¼ tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
To decorate:
Food colouring
Small sweets or sprinkles of your choice
Black writing icing

In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, soda and salt to combine. Add the flour mixture a third at a time to the butter mixture, stirring thoroughly between each addition.
Divide the mixture into 2 (or however many colours you are using) and add a few drops of food colouring if appropriate (I used orange for the pumpkins). Knead the colour through the mixture until evenly distributed.
Wrap each piece of dough in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

When the dough is chilled, take one piece from the fridge and knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and pliable. Try not to overwork the mixture.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to around 3mm thickness before cutting out your shapes with your chosen cutters. Remember: Each finished cookie will take 3 cut outs to complete so make sure you count out enough. Place the cookies on to trays lined with baking parchment.

Using a sharp knife, cut a hole in the centre of a third of the cookies, these will form the hole in the centre that you put your sprinkles/sweets in. You need to make it big enough for your sweets without stretching the dough. It might be best if the kids don’t help with this step.

Bake the cookies for 7-10 minutes; keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Repeat the process for the other half of the cookie dough.

Once cold, it’s time to assemble the cookies. If you check the photos, they will show you where to place the icing and how to assemble for the next steps.

Take the writing icing and ice a line just inside the edges of one cookie. Place one of the cookies with a hole in on the top and fill the gap with sprinkles. Make sure the sprinkles lie flat otherwise the top cookie won’t fit. Ice another line of frosting and add the top cookie. Decorate the front however you like and serve!

It may seem like a lot of work but actually, these are pretty easy to put together once you’ve got the process sorted. They come together quickly after the cookies are baked and kids will love to help to decorate them too.

Happy Halloween!


Linds Hall runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Recipe for American Style Pancakes – Norfolk’s largest range of home furnishings

This week’s guest blog is a recipe for American Style Pancakes from Pixie Hall Cakes

American Style Pancakes

So here we are again. The kids are back at school after a lovely long, hot summer, there’s a hint of autumn on the breeze as the cool air of the school run brings promises of falling leaves and wet walks. I’ve said it before but I really do love this time of year. The trees are starting to turn gloriously golden and red while the days are still warm. It’s gorgeous.

Before I get into all things apple, spice and pumpkin for the autumn months, I want to pay tribute to the warm summer that still lingers with us. A last hurrah if you will, to the beautiful berries that are coming to the end of their season. Here’s to the lazy weekend mornings with family and friends and the time to make a proper breakfast.

I chose these thick, American style pancakes as they are perfect at this time of year. Topped with the aforementioned berries and a drizzle of maple syrup they are a wonderful mix of sweet, tart and comforting. Of course, I couldn’t possibly limit your topping choices though. Think about chocolate or caramel sauce, bacon and eggs, bananas and cream (though not all at once). The possibilities are endless but the recipe is a good one. An easy to mix, easy to cook recipe with ingredients you may have in your cupboard already. Heat up a good, heavy frying pan or flat griddle and get to work on these impossibly fluffy, just sweet enough beauties and enjoy them with those you love.


American Style Pancakes (makes around 16 depending on size)


330g plain flour

2 tbsp baking powder

1tsp salt

225g sugar

4 eggs, beaten

450ml milk

4 tbsp butter, melted



In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In a jug, combine the eggs, milk and melted butter.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. Don’t overmix the batter, it should be a little lumpy.

Heat up your frying pan or griddle over a medium-high heat and, a ladle at a time, cook the pancakes until small bubbles form on the top, flip and then brown the other side. It might take a couple of tries to get the heat and timing down but you’ll get there.

Keep cooked pancakes warm in a low oven and serve with whatever takes your fancy.


Linds Hall runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography



In Celebration of the Bake Off – Norfolk’s largest range of home furnishings

Thank you Pixie Hall Cakes for diverting from your monthly recipe blog to enlighten us all in the ways of the bake off and inviting us to take part in one!


I can’t believe it’s been a year already. You’ve had 12 months of tasty recipes and hopefully useful tips and techniques and I’ve loved sharing them with you. Things are slightly different this month but rest assured, a new recipe will be on its way next month.

This month I want to talk about Bake Offs (I’m not sure if that’s the correct pluralisation but I’m sticking with it).

The Great British Bake Off is back on our screens which is a sure sign that summer is in full swing.  The nation collectively despairs at soggy bottoms, basks in the glory of perfectly risen cakes and swoons over beautiful and creative decoration. I do too. People assume that I must roll my eyes at the silly mistakes that contestants make (remember that bloke who used salt instead of sugar in his cake?) or huff and sigh at the way some things are put together. Honestly though, I feel for them. I’ve made stupid mistakes (I forgot the sugar in a cake quite recently) and I’m always keen to learn new skills so I will always have a nosey at the way in which people work. I love it.

While we watch these 12 lucky people strut their baking skills on TV, how do the rest of us get involved? Baking competitions have been around a lot longer than the TV show has. Country shows, village fetes and town halls have been venues for local people to show off their perfect cakes between tables of identical onions, giant marrows and perfect flowers.  People have long been entering their cakes in the hope of winning a sought after rosette. There’s something special about being able to show people what you can do and cake is such a universally loved medium that I think there’s no better way!

And so, I segue into some information for you. I am hosting a Bake Off at this year’s Fakenham Food Festival to be held at Fakenham Fair on 23rd August at the Millennium park.

Fakenham Bake Off Poster


Fakenham Bake Off PrizeI’m inviting you to put on your pinny, whip out your whisk and get baking! There are 3 age ranges for contestants; under 10, 11-16 and 17+ (adults!) so you can get your kids baking in the summer holidays or even enter yourself. We’ve also got some fantastic prizes for the winning cakes. Aldiss have really kindly donated some of these prizes including some gorgeous Emma Bridgewater cake tins and really cute baking kits complete with a tin to store your finished treats in.



To enter; bring your entry (either 6 cupcakes or 1 whole cake) to the Bake Off Tent by 1pm on 23rd August and fill in the entry card you’re given. A panel of judges (including me!) will taste each entry and choose the winners! It’s as simple as that!

So, dust off your mixing bowls and bring out the wooden spoons. It’s time to get Fakenham baking!

Linds Hall runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Student Essentials – Norfolk’s largest range of home furnishings

So, your A-Level results are in, you got the points you needed and you’re off to Uni!

Student Room

As well as a lot of studying (ahem) there will also be a LOT of partying and one thing is for sure that in-between all the fun and socialising your room will become your haven.  So we’ve come up with some low price, practical items and tips to help you create your home away from home at Uni.


Tatum Bedding

Tatum Bedding (Double Shown)

Your room will be quite plainly decorated and pre-used… so choosing nice, new bedding is your chance to make your mark and freshen things up!

Tip: Get two sets of bed covers, one for the bed and the other for the laundry.

Tatum Single Bedding Set – £16.20

Fogarty Hotel 10.5 Tog Single Duvet – £15.75

Fogarty Cotton Deluxe Pillow Pair – £13.49

Tip: Although it may not be, a quilted protector can make your mattress feel like new.

Fogarty Supertherm Mattress Protector Single – £18



Tip:  The best single item you can have, it provides extra warmth while sitting, it can brighten up dull furniture and spread on the bed to give extra warmth at night.

Thermosoft Throw – £19.99


iLiv RugRug

Tip: Another essential item to brighten up your room and help it feel more like home.

iliv Birdhouse Bright’s Rug – £39.68



Desk Lamp

When that essay is on deadline and you are working into the night to get it finished a desk lamp will be essential to keep you focussed.

Tip: Remember to take a couple of spare bulbs with you too!

Rome Uplighter – £44.55

Leyton Desk Lamp – £27.99



What can we say! A pretty essential item if, you’re planning on washing!

Geo Hand Towel – £4.49



If you are not in halls that are catered you will, in-between the takeaways, want to cook a meal occasionally (honestly!), especially a home comfort like Spag Bol.

Tip: You can buy pans in sets of 3, 5’s or more but a frying pan and 16cm saucepan with a draining lid are all you really need for the occasional Master Chef session to impress your new friends!

Our Cook, Wine and Dine pans are just £11.25 each and are suitable for all hobs including induction!


Tumbler GlassesGlasses

A real student essential. Money will be tight so having a couple of drinks with your new room mates before you go out will make your partying budget go further.

Tip: We sell all styles of glasses but we find the most popular bought by students is the long drink or tumbler – possibly because as having a wine glass full of beer is not as good as a beer glass full of wine…

Our Symphony Brim Long Drink Glasses are just £5.99 for a pack of 6.


Toastie Maker

Never underestimate the power of a toastie to provide a warm, nourishing snack at the end of a night out or to perk you back up for brekkie the morning after.

Tip: You can also use up slices of bread that are a little too dry for a conventional sandwich. Making you food budget go further.

Breville Sandwich Toaster –  £19.99



Forks for Pot Noodles, Knives for buttering toast, small spoon for stirring tea and you’e all set!

Tip: A set of cutlery will see you through but where do all those tea spoons go?!? You can buy extra spoon from Aldiss for as little as 99p for 6.

We have a great collection of 12 piece for just £14.95.


And don’t forget…..

Can Opener – £1.35

Digital Silver Alarm clock – £4.50


We think that’s got your home essentials covered. Don’t forget your pens, pencils & notebooks – or laptop! Have a great time and enjoy your adventure!