Thursday, 28 May 2015

Biscuit and cream cake

Sun shine, half term, finished writing reports...and relax :) I was looking through some recipe books and realised that I hadn't made a proper cake for a while. I have used a hummingbird bakery recipe but adapted it slightly. Hummingbird use three layers of cake but (as I have a cold and am not cycling at the moment) I have opted for two layers. They also use cookies but I thought it might be fun to try Twix bits instead. (Ok, they were supposed to be Maltesers but Tesco ran out.) Due to illness and not spreading my germs, this cake is just for me and T so I halved all of the recipe below and made a half cake. 

110g unsalted butter softened
380g caster sugar
320g plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
320 ml buttermilk
3 eggs
1/2 large packet of twix mix

1kg icing sugar, sifted
320g unsalted butter softened
500g mascarpone
1/2 large packet of Twix mix

1. Preheat the oven to 170C and line the cake tins with baking paper. Using a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar and dry ingredients until there are no lumps of butter.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and buttermilk by hand. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients while the mixer is on a medium speed. Scrape down the sides and mix again. 
3. Chop the Twix bits in half and stir into the mixture. Pour into two lined cake tins and bake for 35 minutes until the sponge bounces back when pressed. Leave to cool on a drying rack. 
4. When the cake is cool, make the icing. Using the free standing electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the icing sugar and butter on a low speed. Add one third of the mascarpone and combine until smooth. Gradually add the test of the mascarpone and until fully mixed then turn to a high speed until it is light and fluffy. 
5. Put some of the mixture on one of the cakes and sprinkle some more twix bits cut in half. Put the second cake on top. Using a palette knife, spread the rest of the frosting on top and around the sides of the cake. Finish with whole Twix bits on top. 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Bea's blueberry streusal muffins

What a windy bike ride! I have been increasing my rides for a couple of months in the hopes of doing an even in July. I have finally reached the distance but need to work on the hills! It's so nice being outside in the sunshine at this time of year - not too hot but fresh with all the lovely bluebells.

I have been a fan of Bea's of Bloomsbury for a while and keep returning to their cookbook for something delicious. I had made these streusal muffins before and they are a winner every time. Very easy to make and made extra special by the crumbly, crunchy streusal topping. They are very good with a cup of tea of with some cream on top for a pudding.

225g Plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
50 ml milk
40 ml double cream
2 eggs
65g unsalted butter
250g Blueberries

Streusal topping: -
100g plain flour
35g dark brown soft sugar
35g caster sugar
65g unsalted butter chilled and cubed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Make the streusal topping y combining all of the ingredients and rubbing them between your fingers until crumbly. Put in the fridge for 10 minutes.
2. While the streusal is in the fridge, make the muffins. Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir until well combined.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, cream and eggs. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Pour in the melted butter and fold again. 
4. Coat  the blueberries in extra flour then stir them into the mixture.
5. Fill muffin cases in a muffin tray 4/5 of the way up. The more you fill, the bigger they will be. Sprinkle the streusal mixture on top then bake for 30 minutes. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Gooey brownie pies

I enjoyed the scones so much that I decided to try another one of Glenn Cosby's recipes. When I saw 'gooey brownie pies', I looked no further! Pies and brownies, what a good combo. I've never spent much time making pastry but this was quite easy to follow and worked well. If I were to make them again then I think I would make the pastry a little thinner. These are very rich and dense (we had to eat one in two sittings - this is rare for me!) but they were delicious. Well done Glenn.

125g Plain flour
1 egg yolk
75g unsalted butter
1 tbsp water
38g Caster sugar

Brownie mix:-
80g unsalted butter
50g golden syrup
100g caster sugar
1tsp salt
150g dark chocolate in chunks
2 eggs
30g plain flour
100g dark chocolate in chunks

 1. To make the pastry, mix the butter and flour in your fingers until they form breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, egg yolk and water and bring it all together. Wrap in cling film and out in the fridge for one hour. 
2. Roll out the chilled pastry to the thickness of a pound coin. Using a 10 cm circle cutter, cut out the pastry and press against a flan tin. Repeat for a second tin. Put it back in the fridge for 20 minutes.
3. To make the brownie mixture, preheat the oven to 180C. Gently melt 80g butter in a saucepan with the golden syrup, caster sugar and salt. When the sugar has dissolved, take it off the heat and stir in 150g dark chocolate until it mixes well. Then leave to cool.
4. Beat the eggs into the chocolate mix then mix in 30g plain flour and 100g dark chocolate chunks. 
5. Fill the pastry cases with the chocolate mixture and bake for 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden. 

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Ginger scones

A couple of weeks back we went to a food festival in a nearby small town and started to watch the food demonstration. We thought, that guy looks familiar... it was Glenn Cosby from last year's Great British Bake Off! He was just as friendly and entertaining as he was on the show. We watched him make some ginger scones with grapefruit and ginger curd using limited cooking resources but somehow, they tasted great. I was inspired so I bought is book and here we have my version of his scones. I used crystallised ginger rather than stem ginger as we had it in the cupboard already. They are delicious when they are still warm from the oven, perfect for a chilly day like today. He cut them in an unconventional square shape which could be changed into a circle. The idea is that it needs to be handled as little as possible to  get a good rise. 

Ingredients: -
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
100 ml milk
1 egg
5 pieces of crystallised ginger chopped roughly into small pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the butter and rub between your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar and ginger.
2. Mix the egg and milk in a separate bowl. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and combine with your fingers. This is a sticky mixture! 
3. Sprinkle flour on a surface and transfer the mixture onto it. Spread out the mixture so that it is 3cm thick. Use a sharp knife to cut it into squares (size depending on your preference).
4. Put the squared onto a greased tray and cook for 10-15 minutes (depending on size). 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

St John's bakery donuts

After trying Crosstown donuts, I thought it would only be fair to try another donut to give a comparison. While at Maltby Street Market, there was a St john's bakery store selling just that. there were too choices; butterscotch or classic vanilla. We opted for the latter an it was a good choice. The dough was slightly sweet, so you knew it was pudding, and had a thin crisp to the outer layer form frying. This was the perfect donut texture and, I think better than Crosstown's with no crispy edge and less sweet dough. The vanilla centre was plentiful and has a decent vanilla flavour proven with the visible vanilla pod seeds. Great inside and out, a winner far.
Sty John's has a respectable name in London and is more known for it's bread. A strong contender with puddings as well it seems.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Cheese Truck

We had another trip to Maltby Street market yesterday in london and ,somehow, it seems to expanding! There were more stalls and people than we had seen before and some new food to try. The newest stall was from 'The Cheese Truck'. Not actually a truck yesterday but they do travel around in one. They offered three assortments of cheese in sandwiches - cheddar, stilton and goats cheese. The cheddar looked deliciously gooey and stringy. I opted for goats cheese with honey and walnuts. It was cooked on a late with a weight on top and turned into the creamiest cheese with a hint of sweet form the honey ad a subtle crunch from the walnuts. Just the right amount of ingredients. It was a real treat. Next time I would go for cheddar and onion - I had cheese envy as I watch others string the melted cheddar away as they took a bite...

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Fluffy victoria sponge

The Easter holidays go so quickly! We had a great trip to the Cotswolds - such beautiful countryside and a good time of year to see all the little lambs springing about and chasing each other. We have also been in the stressful process of house buying...a long waiting game but we will excited to move in (fingers crossed it all goes well!).

After eating a lot of chocolate, I have chosen a classic victoria sponge. A more spring like pudding due the lightness and fresh strawberry taste. (I tend to use jam but you could use real strawberries.) I have always followed the same recipe but, as it didn't rise so well last time, I have used a Great British bake Off recipe. It cam out pretty well, nice and light and fluffy. The book used real strawberries and mascarpone filling but I prefer jam and butter icing for extra sweetness.

Ingredients: -
180g unsalted butter (room temperature)
180g caster sugar
3 eggs
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
180g self raising flour
1 tbsp warm tap water

Butter icing:
250g icing sugar
80g softened butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Jam (any flavour)

1. Heat the oven to 180C. Put the butter in a mixing bowl and beat with a spoon until creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar one tablespoon at a time.
2. Put the eggs and vanilla in a separate jug and beat with a fork. gradually add the mixture into the butter mix, scraping down the sides as you go. Before the last addition of egg, add in one tablespoon of flour to stop the mixture from curdling.
3. Sift the rest of the flour into the mixture and fold in with a plastic spatula. Add the warm water after 3 folds and continue until you can no longer see flour.

4. Divide the mixture into two 20.5 cm round tins. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden.
5. Run a blade around the edge of the tin to loosen it. Leave for a minute in the tin then transfer to a cooling rack.
6. When the sponge is cool, mix the butter, icing sugar and vanilla essence then spread over one half of the sponge. Spread jam onto the other half and put together. Dust with icing on top.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Pecan, peanut and sultana fridge cake

Spring is finally making an appearance! Not quite small jacket weather but it is lovely to see some sunshine and all the trees in bud. And with it... the easter holidays! I will enjoy the time off much more when i have done some of my school reports, but still, I am very pleased to have a break from the busy term. 

This is one of my favourite lazy recipes. It is rich and delicious and can be changed every time you make it. It is chocolate fridge cake. This time I went for pecans, peanuts and raisins giving it a combination of crunch and chewiness. I have used Gordon Ramsey's recipe as a base and it works well every time. 

Makes 16 squares. 

 Ingredients: -
100g butter
300g milk chocolate (I used a milk chocolate bar and a fruit and nut bar)
4 tbsp golden syrup
200g digestive biscuits
75g salted peanuts
75g roughly chopped pecans
75g sultanas

1. Lightly grease a square tin (I used a brownie tin) and line with greaseproof paper. Allow extra paper to cover the mixture in the fridge (and help lift it out the tin!).
2. Melt the butter, golden syrup and broken up chocolate on a low heat. Stir gently to remove once it has all melted. 
3. Break the digestives into small pieces and add in the nuts and sultanas. Mix together then pour in the melted chocolate and mix until it is all combined. 
4. Pour the mixture into the tin and press down with a wooden spoon. Cover with the overhang of paper and put in the fridge until set. 
5. Pull on the paper to help remove the fridge cake form the tin and cut into 16 pieces. 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Crosstown doughnuts

I was looking at a website for the top 5 doughnuts in London and discovered that there was one place I hadn't been to. I must have passed it loads of times but, in a rush for the station, not noticed it. 'Crosstown' donut shop is located in Piccadilly Circus station. It is a clam oasis amongst the hustle and bustle. I don't know how I haven't seen it before! The doughnuts are made fresh everyday and come in deliciously tempting flavours - it took a while to choose! You could have sea salt caramel and banana cream, creme brulee with vanilla cream, classic raspberry jam (oozing with fresh fruit), apple and pear crumble, Belgian chocolate truffle, rocky road... Not cheap at £3.50 each but they have a smooth creamy filling, bouncy soft dough and great flavour. The shop has some stalls inside and benches outside. The calming music blocks out the noise of the tube and, along with the trendy white victorian toilet tiles and wooden crates, it provides a perfect pit stop. Worth a visit!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

'Elk' bicuits

Disaster! The oven has broken! This seems to have put a hault to delicious treats but has made me creative with making dinner. It has been an interesting three weeks but I have found some dinner recipes that I will continue to use, including gumbo, potatas bravas (on the hob) and savoury pancakes filled with ricotta, leek and mushroom, filled then covered in breadcrumbs and fried.

These biscuits were so simple to make and delicious. They make look a little festive but I'm calling them 'elk' biscuits... ah hum. Ok I got this cutter from a Berlin Christmas market and hadn't had a chance to use it but i like the shape so much that calling them 'elk' makes them an all year round shape. Hehe. They make good dunkers in a cup of tea too.

Makes 20 (cutter size depending)

100g caster sugar
300g plain flour
2 eggs
2tbsp cinnamon
150g icing sugar
1/2 tsp fresh squeezed orange juice

1. Preheat the oven to 180. Mix the sugar and flour in a bowl then add in the cinnamon and stir again.
2. Make a well in the middle an fold in the eggs until just combined.
3. Using your hands, press the mixture into a ball shape and warp in cling film. put in the fridge for 15minutes until firm.
4. Roll out the mixture onto a floured surface and cut out biscuits using your favourite cutter shape. Place the biscuits onto a greased tray and put in the oven for 15 - 20minutes.
5. When the biscuits are golden brown, remove form the oven. Put on a cooling rack.
6. When the biscuits are cool then make the icing. Mix the icing sugar with a the orange juice. Spoon over each biscuit.

Very simple and much healthier than shop bought biscuits.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Delicious duffins (donut + muffin)

Half term has arrived finally! While it is not quite a week off for teachers, more a time to catch up on paper work. Still, it will be good to have a few days to relax after what felt like a long half term (was Christmas really that long ago?!). Bring on the sunshine! 

I had made these duffins (donut + muffin) before but seem to lather them in too much butter last time making them tricky to eat (even if they were still delicious). So this time, I decided to use a milk brush to put on the butter after they had cooked. The down side of this was that by the time I got to the last ones, they had cooled too much for the butter / sugar to stay on! I say, dunk away!  Another great recipe from Bea's at Bloomsbury. 

420g flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
330g caster sugar
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
375ml buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
130ml sunflower oil

Coating and filling:
250g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
1/2 jar raspberry jam

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir until combined. 
2. Spoon the mixture into muffin tray holes filling them three quarters of the way up.
3. bake for 25-30minutes until a knife pulls out clean form the middle.
4. While the muffins are cooking, melt the butter and put the sugar into a separate bowl.
5. As soon as the muffins come out of the oven, coat them in the melted butter then dip into the sugar (they are hot but you have to work quick or the sugar won't stick)
6. Put the jam into a piping bag and insert into the muffins (top is easiest but the bottom is neater).

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Chocolate ginger cupcakes

A very chilly week! A few days of snow but nothing too much. My class of 30 five to seven year olds were very excitable by it though there was sadly not enough to make a snowman or have a snow day. 

We have began a house search which seems as though it will be slow going with our budget. Not enough houses and they sell within a day or two! Crazy. We trawled through all the estate agents in three areas but not a viewing yet. I am very optimistic at this point though and cannot wait for our own little house and maybe even an actual garden (vegetable patch awaits!). 

Much deserved chocolate treats this week. I really love the chocolate and ginger combination in these hummingbird cupcakes. i have made them a few times now and they have become one of my favourites. 

Ingredients: -
70g unsalted butter
170g plain flour
250g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
210ml whole milk
2 eggs
1 tbsp chopped stem ginger

Icing: -
225g icing sugar
30g cocoa powder
75g unsalted butter
30ml whole milk
chopped stem ginger for decoration

Makes 12

1. Preheat the oven to 170g and fill the muffin tin with cases. 
2. using an electric mixer, put in the butter, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, ground ginger and salt and mix together (scraping down the sides if needed).
3. Mix the eggs and milk in a separate jug by hand then add half to the mixture into the electric mixer while it is on a low speed. Raise the speed and scrape down the sides then add the remaining half. Mix in the chopped stem ginger (I used a third of the original recipe and thought it was enough).
4. Fill the cake cases two thirds full and put in the oven for 25 minutes. Leave to cool for 2 minutes before moving to a wire rack.
5. When the cakes are completely cool, make the icing. I always use half of what the Hummingbird book says as I think too much is too sickly. using the electric mixer, mix he icing sugar, cocoa powder and softened butter on a low speed.
6. Gradually add the milk while the mixer is on then spoon onto the cakes. Spread with a palette knife to give a smooth finish. Put some chopped stem ginger on top for decoration. 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Oatmeal raisin cookies

Snow!!! I have been watching the weather with eager eyes as the snow travelled down the country. It had been promised several times but still not a flake until I opened the curtains this morning! I love snow. So magical and pretty. 

Amazingly, I still have oats left from the bag that I was trying to use up earlier in the month. I found this cookie recipe form the Bea's of Bloomsbury cook book. I had made them before and new they were good but adapted the recipe a little to, again, use up some things from the cupboard. They use coconut and just raisins but I thought the cranberries would work well. And they did. A lovely chewy cookie treat for a snowy winters day...

Ingredients: -
250g unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
250g dark brown soft sugar
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250g oats
100g raisins
50g cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. using an electric mixer, mix the butter, slat and both sugars until fluffy.
2. Add the eggs and beat until combined then add the vanilla extract and mix again.
3. Put in the bicarbonate of soda and half the flour and mix until combined, then add the rest of the flour and mix again.
4. Add the oats, cranberries and raisins and mix agin - each time mix until just combined.
5. Place a large spoon of the mixture on a lined baking tray leaving spaces between as the mix spreads during cooking. Put the tray in the fridge to firm for 5 minutes then bake for 12 minutes.
6. After removing them form the oven, let them cool for 5 minutes on the tray before moving to a wire rack. 

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Sweet peanut cupcakes

The season of colds and flu - I had fought it off so well with boroccas, orange juice and lots of fruit but I have been defeated and just want a hot water bottle and ginger tea. Hmph. On a more positive note, I am very excited to see Alt J at the O2 tonight. Recent gigs have included Chvrches at Sommerset and London Grammar in Cambridge, so the bar has been set high. Those both have an intimate gig space which adds to the atmosphere but the O2 is a great venue for a good view in a larger space. London trips also mean a walk around (in the sun today!) which has become one of my favourite things to do. A trip to the Southbank and Borough Market are the place of choice... place of the best brownies...

After last weeks trip back to Bea's of Bloomsbury, I was so impressed with the peanut cupcakes that I felt inspired to make some. I have cheated a bit though as I used the Hummingbird recipe. Hummingbird, in my opinion, have the best cupcakes recipes. They seem to come out flawless every time - perfect texture, moisture, consistency and just taste great. 

Ingredients: -
70g unsalted butter
210g plain flour
250g caster sugar
1tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
210ml whole milk
2 eggs
40g crunchy peanut butter

Icing: -
250g icing suagr
80g unsalted butter
25ml whole milk
15g crunchy peanut butter

1bar peanut brittle (or you could make your own with caster sugar and peanuts)

1. Preheat the oben to 170C and put the muffin cases in a muffin tin.
2. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix th ebutter, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until the mix is crumb like.
2. Mix the egg and milk in a separate jug then gradually pour into the mix half at a time until combined. Add the peanut butter and mix again.
3. Spoon the mix into the cases until they are two thirds full and bake for 25minutes. They will bounce back when touched if they are done.
4. When the cakes are cool, make the icing. Using the electric mixer, mix the icing suagr and butter on a slow speed. Pour in the milk while it is still mixing then turn up to full speed. Next add the peanut butter and mix again until even. 
5. Put a spoon of icing on each cake then spread with a palate knife. Crush the peanut brittle and sprinkle on top. 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Nutmeg, pecan, cranberry and chocolate flapjacks, healthy January treats!

Brr!! It is SO cold! Matters are worse when you have single glazing and a large window that won't shut in your tiny one bedroom flat! It would be worth the pain of coldness if it snowed but not a flake to be seen down here. Bah humbug! 

Last weekend I went back to Bea's of Bloomsbury (in St Pauls) and had the afternoon tea that is my first blog post. It was so good. Delicious crusty sandwich bites, passionfruit cupcakes, three types of brownie, meringue, perfect scones with thick clotted cream and jam and a sweet peanut cupcake. I'd never heard of a peanut cupcake and was pleasantly surprised - I think it may be my recipe for next week! This wasn't the traditional way to indulge in a post-Christmas January as I felt quite ill afterwards (in the too much delicious sugaryness kind of way) but I don't regret one bite. 

So, I still have a good amount of oats left therefore I have made another oat recipe. Much healthier than other recipes I have made and very adaptable to suit your mood. They took hardly any time to prepare and make (precooking) and taste great. 

Ingredients: -
1tsp nutmeg
125g honey
125g butter (melt)
125g dark brown suagr
250g oats
50g chopped pecans
50g cranberries

1. Heat the oven to 160C. Line a baking tin with baking paper (I used a brownie tin). Melt the butter inn a saucepan on a low heat. Add the sugar and honey and stir until it has dissolved.
2. Stir in the oats until the mixture is even. Then add in the nuts, nutmeg and cranberries. (You can use any nuts or dried fruit.)
3. Pour into the baking tin and flatten down with the back of a spoon. bake for 35 minutes until golden. 
4. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack. 
5. When the flapjacks are cool, put a glass bowl over some boiling water and break the chocolate into the bowl. Stir as it begins to melt. Then remove from the heat and keep stirring. Put some of the chocolate onto a spoon and drizzle over the flapjack - you don't need to be neat with this. 

I was quite pleased with this recipe. They are quite strong in nutmeg but I like that. When I make them again, I will add more nuts and dried fruit but they were delicious form the above recipe. 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Apple and cinnamon granola

After the holidays, I decided to be a bit economical and use what  we had left in the cupboards. A giant bag of oats seemed to be the large part of the cupboard space so this was the base  for a recipe. Quite a healthy base too so I thought I should keep it all healthy.

This is a simple to make recipe with a healthy end result but, when I make it again, I will double the honey and add chopped nuts and dried fruit to jazz it up. 


Ingredients: -
200g oats
20g butter
1tbsp honey
1tbsp cinnamon
1 apple grated

Method: -
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a low heat. When it is melted add in the honey and stir. 
2. Pour the oats into the butter and honey mix and stir well until all the oats are covered. 
3. Great the apple and put inot the mixture with the cinnamon. Sti again until there is an even spread of ingredients. 

4. Pour into an oven tray and spread out. Bake for 30 minutes until it is golden but shake about after 15 minutes so it doesn't all stick together. 
5. Leave to cool for 10 minutes on the tray then remove and leave to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. this lasts up to 5 days.