Recipes...Yum!

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Wet Nelly Pudding

Posted by me on November 27, 2016 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (1)


As a dirty ‘suv-er-ner’ I am familiar with good old fashioned, rib sticking bread puddin’s (my Dad, especially, makes a mean one!) rich with dried fruit and spices and normally soaked in cold tea or water then baked and served hot with creamy vanilla custard or cold (my favourite) with a dusting of granulated sugar. It was popular in the war years in London and the home counties as bread was un-rationed and a little sugar and spice and dried fruit (when these were unavailable it was made with a dollop of marmalade or hedgerow fruit) and went a long way to filling hungry tummies, it was definitely poor man food and filled the boots after a long day working in the factories, docks or fields .

As a migrant to the North West of England I have never seen or heard of a regional version until yesterday when Hubby and I visited the 15th century, Tudor, Speke Hall in Liverpool.

To my amazement they sell an old, local ‘Scouse’ Speciality known as Wet Nelly, soaked overnight in milk but with familiar fruit and spices.

After a little research I discovered that it can also be served in a pastry crust (top and bottom), and is named after a similar cake or pudding known as a Nelson cake. As the North West of England has a plethora of pastry based puds I decided to forgo the shortcrust and keep it simple but revise the dried fruits and spices it probably would have originally been made from.

Here is my version with dried prunes, apricots, mixed citrus peel and dates and rich with the aromas of fresh orange, cinnamon and cloves as well as a generous slug of spiced dark rum, delicious…….

What you need

800g day old, brown bread ( I used an 800g uncut loaf)

100g butter

150g soft dark brown sugar

500mls milk

150mls sour cream

100mls dark spiced rum

200g dried, ready to eat prunes, chopped

200g dried ready to eat apricots, chopped

100g dried mixed peel

100g dried chopped dates

Grated zest of 2 large oranges

½ teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

3 medium eggs

A little granulated sugar to dust once cooked

What you do

Start by slicing the (un-crusted ) bread into 1” thick slices then break it into 1” rough chunks, place into a large bowl.

Place the milk and butter into a saucepan and warm until the butter melts, add the sour cream and rum then pour it over the chunked up bread, cover and leave to soften for 3 hours.

Once the bread has softened and soaked up all the liquid preheat the oven to 160c for a fan assisted oven (180c for a regular oven) then add the remaining ingredients and beat well to combine (I love to squish it all with my hand, it’s very therapeutic and makes sure there are no lumps of dry bread anywhere)

Once mulched together tip into a dish so that it is at least 1 ½”-2” deep and place in the preheated oven, bake for 1 ¼- 1 ½ hours or until the pudding is springy when pushed.

Sprinkle with a little granulated sugar

Serve hot with custard or cold with a nice cup of tea


 Speke Hall, Liverpool on a very cold and foggy November morning....

Cheddar cheese and apple chutney scotch eggs

Posted by me on November 4, 2016 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)


Ok, so I know these aren't baked but baked-schmaked they are so damn good who is complaining.... perfect when eaten in the garden on a lovely warm summers day with a nice cold half of cider.....

What you need

400g good quality pork sausage meat

60g vintage mature cheddar cheese, grated

50g good quality apple chutney

½ level teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 large eggs, boiled for 8 minutes then chilled under running water

To coat

1 ½ thick slices of day old bread, blitzed to a fine crumb in a food processor

3 tablespoons plain flour

1 egg, beaten

Vegetable oil to fry

What you do

Combine the sausage meat, grated cheese, apple chutney and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl and mix well with your hands.

Divide into four equal portions and shape each into a round, flat circle approximately 12cm wide, wrap around the hard boiled eggs and shape into neat oval shapes completely enclosing the egg.

Roll the sausage covered eggs in the flour followed by the beaten egg and then finally the fine bread crumbs. Leave to chill in the fridge for half an hour.

Heat oil to 160c and deep fry the scotch eggs for 8-10 minutes until the outside coating is golden brown and the sausage meat is cooked.

Drain on kitchen paper and serve warm or cold

 


Maids of honour tartlets

Posted by me on November 4, 2016 at 5:35 AM Comments comments (0)


One day (so legend has it) Henry the Eighth was strolling through Hampton palace and happened upon Anne Boleyn and her girlfriends eating these tasty little pastries from a silver dish, now Henry was so enthused by them that he decreed that only the royal household should be allowed to wrap their diamond encrusted gnashers around their pastry, almond and orange filling that he selfishly locked the recipe away in an iron box in Richmond Palace. A couple of hundred years later the recipe eventually leaked out (Old Henry was six foot under so he didn’t care) and they started to be made and sold in the town of Richmond in Surrey, hence ever more they became known as Maids of honour after Anne and her ladies…. History lesson over!

Now there are many varieties of these decidedly Royal pastries, originally the recipe called for curds (who can be bothered curdling fresh warm milk with the juices from a calves stomach for twenty four hours….ummmnn hands up!!!) and orange flower water but all the later recipes I have found contain three basic ingredients, puff pastry lemon or orange and ground almonds.

So after a few taste tests I have devised the tastiest Maids of honour for your delectation and delight, you might not be a queenly maid eating them but you sure will feel honourable if you can stop yourself eating the whole plate. Enjoy….

What you will need

500g readymade puff pastry

180g ground almonds

75g caster sugar

½ teaspoon salt

3 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon natural lemon essence

Zest of 1 large orange

4 tablespoons sour cream

1 ½ tablespoons plain flour

120g good quality lemon curd ( don’t be tempted to buy the fluorescent yellow cheap stuff, splash out and buy a really good quality ones that actually tastes of lemons and butter)

You will also need a 12 hole shallow holed bun tin (not a muffin tin the holes are too deep)

What you do

Preheat the oven to 190c (180c for fan ovens)

Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a pound coin and cut 18 circles out with a 78mm cutter (about 3 ½”;) line the holes in your baking tin.

Fill the pastry shells with a teaspoon of lemon curd (don’t overfill or it will ooze out and spoil the look of your tarts)

Now mix everything else together in a bowl until well combined and then spoon a heaped teaspoon of the mixture on top of the lemon curd. Place into the oven and cook for between 15-18 minutes until the puff pastry is well risen and the almond filling has puffed up and is golden brown, remove to a wire rack and leave to cool, meanwhile repeat the process with the remaining 6 pastry circles….

Now put your feet up on the chaise longue, invite the girls around for a plate of these and a good gossip and imagine that you are royalty personified.

 

Blueberry, orange and almond cake

Posted by me on November 3, 2016 at 5:20 AM Comments comments (0)


I would like to think of this sexy little number as a bit of a posh totty Battunburg with layers instead of squares but still under its customary mantle of gorgeous golden marzipan... bursting with zingy orange and fresh blueberries its the perfect cake for afternoon tea.

What you need

150g self raising flour

150g caster sugar, plus a little extra to decorate

150g butter

3 medium sized eggs, beaten

75g ground almonds

150g fresh blueberries, plus a few extra for decoration

1 large orange- grated zest and reserve the juice

For the frosting

75g butter

130g icing sugar plus a little extra for rolling out the marzipan

100g full fat cream cheese

Grated zest of 1 large orange ( pare two long strips off first with a peeler to use for decoration)

2-3 tablespoons of shredless orange marmalade- try and find a fruity rather than bitter marmalade

300g marzipan

What you do

2 heaped tablespoons of caster sugar for the candied orange peel

 

Preheat the oven to 160c for a fan assisted oven or 180c for a regular oven and line a small baking tin with baking paper (mine was 11"x 7")

Place the butter, grated orange zest and caster sugar into a large bowl and using an electric beater, cream together until very light in colour, soft and fluffy- this takes about 10 minutes with a hand held mixer but its really important that you put some 'welly' into this stage to prevent the mixture splitting and to give you the best rise possible).

Beat in the egg a little at a time then fold in the flour and ground almonds followed by the fresh blueberries. Finally fold in the juice of half of the orange.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, level, then bake in the preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and bounces back when pushed gently with your fingers, leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

Meanwhile make the candied orange peel by thinly slicing the strips of reserved orange peel into matchstick thick lengths. Place into a small saucepan with 100mls of water and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the zest softens then add in 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and continue simmering until nearly all the water has evaporated and you are left with syrupy strands of zest. Leave to cool in the syrup.

Cream the butter and icing sugar in a medium sized bowl with the grated zest from the remainder of the orange until light and fluffy then gently stir in the cream cheese, don’t beat it too hard or it will go very soft and floppy.

Slice lengthwise  down the middle of the cooled cake,  to make two long, thin bars and spoon the cream cheese frosting onto the base of one of the cakes, smooth with a pallet knife then top with the second bar and push down gently to even the filling out.

Spread the shredless marmalade over the top and sides then roll out the marzipan thinly until it is just big enough to cover the filled cake. Carefully pick the rolled marzipan over the back of your rolling pin and position over the cake, smooth down so it sticks to the marmalade- if you want to decorate with the trimmings, go for it!

Mark the top of the cake into triangle shaped portions then sprinkle with a little caster sugar.

Decorate with some extra blueberries and the strips of orange zest…

 

Orange and hazelnut biscotti

Posted by me on October 31, 2016 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)


Biscotti- are Italian cookies which literally translates into ‘twice baked’ and are one of the tastiest and simplest biscuits to bake as well as making a wonderful gift when placed into a pretty glass jar or cellophane bag tied with ribbon or raffia.

A ‘good’ biscotti should be crunchy but not teeth breaking or jaw crunchingly hard and the secret is to bake them for the second time at a lower heat and a slightly longer time.

I make several variations when friends are due to pop around, from coffee and pecan, chocolate and chunky hazelnut or cappuccino with two luscious layers but these Orange and hazelnut ones with an indulgent little layer of creamy, orange infused, milk chocolate are probably my all time favourite, especially when dunked into a rich dark espresso or a chilled glass of sweet dessert wine at the end of a meal.

What you need

380g self raising flour

Grated rind of two large oranges

100g flaked almonds

100g chopped hazelnuts

150g butter

230g caster sugar

½ teaspoon salt

3 medium eggs

I x Terry’s chocolate orange or 150g of orange flavoured milk chocolate

What you do

Preheat the oven to 160c for a fan oven or 180c for a regular oven and line a large baking sheet with baking paper.

This is a very ‘hands on’ recipe so don’t be afraid of getting a little messy…. Start by Placing the flour, caster sugar, salt and orange zest into a large bowl and use your hand to stir the ingredients together thoroughly, then break up the butter into large lumps and rub the mixture between your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add the flaked almonds and chopped hazelnuts and use your hand to stir again. Now break in the three eggs and either combine the mixture with your hand or start off with a fork until it starts to clump together and then use your hand at the end to form it into a fairly soft ball.

Divide the mixture into two equal sized pieces, shape into log shapes about 8” long and 1” high and place onto the prepared tray with plenty of space around and between them- they will rise and expand on baking so make sure they have lots of room to grow. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the logs are golden brown and fairly firm to the touch, then remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes (don’t walk away and forget them, they must be cut whilst still warm or they will be almost impossible to cut thinly). Turn the oven down at this point to 140c if you are using a fan assisted or 160c for a regular oven.

Once the logs have cooled down for 5 minutes cut into slices ¾ cm thick (you might find it easiest with a finely serrated bread knife) and place back onto the tray, pop the biscotti back into the oven for a further 20-30 minutes or until they are a light golden brown colour and are lovely and crisp, remove and cool on a wire rack.

Once all the biscotti are baked and cool break up the Terry’s chocolate orange into segments and place into a small heat proof bowl, melt carefully over hot, not boiling water then dip the top of one end of each biscuit in the melted chocolate, leave to set on a fresh sheet of paper.

 

Ohrid Cake (pronounced Ochrid)

Posted by me on October 25, 2016 at 5:50 AM Comments comments (0)


Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m always up for a bit of a challenge, whether its jumping 855ft off the top of a very tall building or skydiving from 15,000 feet, if it grabs my attention then I will have a go…

A few days ago one of my lovely friends asked me for a recipe for a chocolate cake that her and her partner ate recently in the town of Ohrid in Macedonia. Unfortunately there were no online recipes to be found anywhere and nothing in my vast selection of cookery books either, so with a bit of Sherlock inspired investigating and the minimum of clues (in her words it was ‘fudgey/datey/nutty with layers of sponge and mousse and covered with chocolate!’) I have recreated the cake for her, I do rather like a challenge that I can sink my teeth into….quite literally!!!

Here is my version and unless you manage to get to Ohrid in Macedonia to enjoy a big fat slice and a cup of coffee for yourself, have a go making it yourself...it’s the only chocolate version on T’internet so enjoy, or whatever it is they say in the Baltic :D

What you need

For the cake

100g caster sugar

100g baking margarine- tub is best

100g self raising flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 medium eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

For the mousse

150g plain chocolate- finely chopped

60g caster sugar

180 mls milk

4 egg yolks

Gelatine sheets to set the equivalent of ¾’s of a pint of liquid. Depending on which brand you use this could be anything from 1 ½ -3 sheets, just read the back of the box to see how many you will need

90mls double cream

For the nutty date and chocolate layer

75g chopped hazelnuts, plus a tablespoon extra for decoration

75g ground almonds

220g pitted dates- if they feel hard pop them into some boiling water for 10 minutes to soften , then drain before using.

30g cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1-2 tablespoons of shredless orange marmalade (I used a fruity rather than bitter tasting marmalade), if you don’t have marmalade, sieved apricot Jam will work equally well.

For the ganache

150mls double cream

100g plain chocolate- finely chopped

Edible chocolate decorations to decorate

What you do

Start by making the cake, preheat the oven to 160c for a fan assisted oven or 180c for a regular oven and line the base and sides of a 2 pint loaf tin.

Place the caster sugar, eggs, margarine, flour, baking powder, and vanilla essence into a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy then tip into the prepared tin, bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Once the cake is completely cool, slice it lengthways into 3 x 1cm thick slices ( slice the cake from the flat bottom not the top of the tin- the easiest way to slice is by popping the cooled cake into the freezer for 30 minutes to firm it up- discard the remainder of the cake- best discarded spread with some extra fruity raspberry jam and a sprinkling of dessicated coconut - ooh and a nice cup of coffee too :D )

Now make the date layer by whizzing the dates in a food processor until they are roughly chopped, add the cocoa powder, salt, ground almonds and hazelnuts and blitz again briefly, to form a firm dough. Roll out between two sheets of greaseproof paper until its 1 ½ cm thick. keep to one side until later.

Make the mousse layer by soaking the gelatine sheets in cold water until they are pliable then drain and reserve.

Place the milk into a small saucepan and bring to the boil then whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium sized bowl, pour the boiled milk over the top of the egg and sugar mixture, whisking all the time then return back to the milk pan and cook  gently, whisking all the time until the mixture thickens slightly. DO NOT LET IT BOIL!

Once the custard is slightly thickened add the soaked sheets of gelatine followed by the finely chopped plain chocolate and stir until smooth, tip into a bowl and leave to cool but not set.

Whip up the double cream until it forms soft peaks then fold into the chocolate mixture- if by any chance the chocolate mixture has set just pop the bowl into the microwave for a few seconds to warm up slightly.

Take your two pint loaf tin and rinse it out with some cold water but don’t dry, then place a sheet of cling film in it, to line it- the water will help the cling film stick to the sides.

Place a layer of sponge in the bottom, followed by half of the chocolate mousse, another layer of sponge then the remainder of the mousse. Top with your last layer of sponge.

Spread the top layer of cake with the shredless marmalade or sieved apricot jam followed by the layer of date and hazelnut paste, trim to fit the sides then place the tin into the fridge for approximately 4 hours until the mousse is set.

Remove the cake from the tin and peel off the cling film, place onto your serving plate.

To make the ganache place the double cream into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Place the finely chopped chocolate into a bowl then pour the boiled cream over the top, stir gently and carefully so you don’t incorporate any air bubbles then leave to cool for 10-20 minutes until the ganache starts to thicken slightly.

Cover the cake with ¾’s of the ganache, smoothing it over the top and sides, leave the remainder to cool until its thick enough to pipe then pipe swirls or a rope design down the centre of the cake. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped hazelnuts and decorate with the chocolate decorations.



 

Tell em' about the money....Mummy!

Posted by me on October 17, 2016 at 1:25 AM Comments comments (0)


Sometimes you just have to let your ‘INNER FREAK’ out, and Halloween seems to me the perfect excuse to have some decidedly creepy and freaky fun with my Mummy cake covered in chocolate bandages and filled with frog spawn and beetle bug frosting….

I had been thinking about this cake for days before I finally managed to get into the kitchen to create it and I wanted to ensure that it was easy enough to be made by everyone and all the ingredients and tools required were readily available. NO specialist shops required, just the baking aisle of your local supermarket.

Have some Devilishly good fun and whip up this ghoulishly, freaky Mummy surrounded by his money, BE WARNED… you will have to grab them carefully tho or he’s likely to come and get you…

Happy Halloween!

What you need

For the chocolate bandages

300g cheap white chocolate- Tesco’s is brilliant for this and less than 40p a bar

1 tube of glucose syrup (find it in the baking aisle) I use DR Oetker

For the Mummy cake

300g plain flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

300g caster sugar (divide into 2) plus a little extra for sprinkling onto a sheet of baking paper when you come to roll up your cake

50g desiccated coconut

2 very ripe bananas, the browner the better as they will give you more flavour in the cake

140g grated carrot, don’t bother peeling them, just wash and dry well and grate away

425g can pineapple chunks, drain the juice (reserve it for later) and whizz the chunks with a hand held whizzer- alternatievely if you don’t own a whizzer you can finely chop them instead

150mls vegetable oil

30mls milk

2 whole eggs

2 egg whites- keep the egg yolks for something else

For the frog spawn filling and beetle bug frosting

2 large passion fruit (or four small ones)

30g caster sugar

100mls of the reserved pineapple juice

375g mascarpone

100g icing sugar

100g butter

Grated zest of an orange plus 3 tablespoons of juice

50g milk chocolate chips

To decorate

2 x Kelloggs marshmallow squares,

A little black fondant (also known as sugar paste)

A little white fondant (also known as sugar paste)

Chocolate coins

You will also need 2 plastic forks and a sharp pair of scissors to trim them

What you do…

This isn’t a hard cake to make it just involves a few stages so start by making your modelling chocolate first.

Place the broken up chocolate into a heatproof bowl and microwave in short 15-20 second bursts, stirring every time it pings.

Once the chocolate is fully melted, add all the glucose syrup ( the easiest way is to cut the opposite end of the tube off and squeeze it out in one go, but I needed to take a photo one handed which is why I am squeezing from the proper end)

Stir gently until the mixture is just mixed and starts to look grainy, just make sure you mix it completely!

Pop the mixture into a small bag and squash it down with your hand until its about 1-2cm thick then place into the fridge to set and harden whilst you make your cake. Once it’s hard, remove from the fridge and leave at room temperature until you are ready to use it

Preheat the oven to 160c for a fan assisted oven or 180c for a regular oven and line a large baking pan with some baking paper. I used a roasting tin 35cmx30cm but anything a similar size will be perfect.

Place the flour, baking powder, HALF the caster sugar, cinnamon, salt and desiccated coconut into a large bowl.

Mash the banana and whole eggs together in a separate bowl then add the grated carrot and whizzed up pineapple.

Place the egg whites into another bowl and whisk until stiff peaks are formed, add the remaining HALF of the caster sugar and whisk again until peaks are formed and the mixture is lovely and shiny.

Mix the oil and milk together

Add the carrot and banana mix to the flour and stir well then tip in the oil and egg mixture and beat to combine, make sure there are no pockets of dry flour at this stage.

Finally, gently and carefully fold in the whisked up egg whites until the mixture is smooth and well combined, tip into the prepared tray and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes or until well risen, golden brown and the cake bounces back when gently pressed with your finger.

Remove from the oven and carefully tip the cake out onto a sheet of baking paper that has been sprinkled with a little extra caster sugar.

Carefully, loosely, roll up the cake along the LONG side so you have a long thin roll, rather than a short fat one, be careful tho’ the cake is very hot at this stage so use a clean tea towel to help you if necessary, leave to cool.

Whilst the cake is cooling- doesn’t it smell SOOOOOooooo good , prepare your frog spawn.

Put the caster sugar and 100mls of pineapple juice into a small saucepan, then cut the passion fruits in half and scoop out the seeds, adding them to the saucepan. Boil rapidly until the mixture is thickened and now measures approximately 75mls, leave to cool.

Place the butter, orange zest and icing sugar into a bowl and beat well until creamy and smooth then add the mascarpone and orange juice and beat again until just combined, don’t overbeat or the mixture will curdle at this stage.

Squash the two Kelloggs Marshmallow squares together in your hands to form a ball then make two balls out of white icing the size of a marble, two small balls out of the black fondant about the size of small peas and two more very small balls of white (a quarter of the size of the black balls)

Using your thumbs push down into the marshmallow crispy ball to form eye sockets and place the biggest white fondant ball into each indentation. Place the black ball on top, pushing down to form the pupil then position the very small white ball on top of the black- this is the light reflecting…. I formed a further small piece (marble sized into a triangle nose shape but this really isn’t necessary.

Mwah…ha…ha…. Now to put your Mummy together!

Unroll the completely cooled down cake, don’t worry about it cracking or breaking, that’s quite usual, spread with half of the mascarpone frosting followed by the chocolate chips and passion fruit puree. Roll the cake back up again using the paper to help you.

Place the cake ( you may need another pair of hands for this bit) onto your serving board, trim the top and bottom then cut a strip out to form the legs, trim the shoulders a little too. Cover the cake with the remaining mascarpone frosting, then position the head.

Take 2 plastic forks, mine were black but it really doesn’t matter what colour they are as they will be covered with chocolate bandages and using a pair of sharp scissors, cut the prongs off, half the way down their length. Insert the forks into the top of the cake near the shoulders.

Take the modelling chocolate out of the fridge if you haven’t already done so and break golf ball sized pieces off, knead each piece to soften and make it flexible (the warmer your hands the easier this job is- mine are always cold so I find this job a little harder to do.

Roll out each piece between clingfilm until it’s very thin, cover the plastic forks with separate pieces of modelling chocolate, then continue kneading, rolling and then cutting into long strips the remainder(1cm wide), positioning them on your cake to form the bandages.

Scatter the chocolate coins around your finished Mummy…

Store in a cool dry place until he’s ready to be devoured.

 

 

Grasmere Gingerbread

Posted by me on October 9, 2016 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)


An hour’s drive away up the M6 motorway from the Market town of Chorley in Lancashire (where I live) is the beautiful Cumbrian village of Grasmere, nestled amoungst the hills and mountains of some of the most picturesque scenery in the English Lake district. It is Famous for two things, the Poet William Wordsworth who lived in the village for fourteen years and proclaimed that Grasmere was “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found” and the delicious secret recipe of Grasmere Gingerbread that is sold only in the little shops that meander along the main street. Grasmere gingerbread is unique and not quite like any other gingerbread as it is really a cross between a flapjack and a shortbread but it is simplicity itself to make and tastes absolutely delicious, hubby and I used to visit Grasmere just to buy a bulk load of the yummy biscuits but now that I have devised this recipe I have saved my petrol but unfortunately not my figure as it’s so quick and easy to make and bake….

What you need

250g plain flour

250g medium cut oat bran or fine oatmeal if you can’t find oat bran

250g soft light brown sugar plus a little extra to sprinkle on the top

300g butter, melted

4 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1 level teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

What you do

Preaheat the oven to 180c or 160c for a fan oven

Line a 30cmx20cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment or silicone paper.

Sieve the flour, salt, baking powder and spices together in a large bowl, and then stir in the soft light brown sugar, oat bran and melted butter, mix well then tip the mixture into the prepared Swiss roll tin and push down gently to compact it a little. Cut the mixture into 12 equal pieces then sprinkle with the extra sugar before placing into the oven and baking for 35-40 minutes or until a light golden brown colour. Score back through the pre-cut biscuits then leave to cool in the tin.

Once the Gingerbread is completely cold you can pretend you have been for an energetic hike around the beautiful Cumbrian lakes and mountains and feel slightly virtuous as you nibble on a slice of this heavenly biscuit…. Why don’t you roll the dog in a muddy puddle and pull on your welly boots just to get the full effect, Enjoy!

 

Pammy-apple pudding

Posted by me on October 9, 2016 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)


Every autumn I create a cake or dessert that fills my soul and my tummy with a warm fuzzy feeling and the promise of nature’s bountiful harvest- crisp, juicy apples and fragrant spices. This year I decided to make a dessert and a cutting cake all in one beautiful ring of gorgeousness and it was inspired in memory and honour of my lovely Mum ‘Pammy’ who we lost very suddenly at the end of 2015.

Mum hated with a passion, two foods - cabbage and CUSTARD so some might think it strange that i have created a dessert with custard in it... funny old way to honour someone... but Mum would have loved this pudding (I wouldnt have told her the secret ingredient lol until AFTER she finished eating it) and I know she would be having a little chuckle up in heaven with my 'mean' trick....

Try and use a Bundt tin if you have one as the finished cake will look beautiful but a 10” round tin will work perfectly well.

 

What you need

275g plain flour

4 level teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 level teaspoon salt

125g caster sugar

125g butter

300g of finely diced cooking apples

200g good quality tinned custard, I used Ambrosia Devon custard

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

For the topping

1 eating apple- I used a Pink Lady apple, peeled and cored, finely diced

50g walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped

For the salted caramel sauce

50g soft dark sugar

50g double cream

30g butter

Good pinch of salt

What you do.

Preheat the oven to160c for a fan assisted oven or 180c for a regular oven then prepare your tin by sprinkling the chopped walnuts and finely diced eating apple into the bottom of the tin- I used a Bundt pan because it looks so pretty but you can easily swap the Bundt pan for a 10” round baking tin or pudding dish.

Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl. Break the butter into chunks and add to the flour then using your fingertips, rub the butter and flour together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Tip in the prepared chopped baking apples followed by the custard, eggs and vanilla essence and stir well to combine and coat all the ingredients. Dollop the mixture over the top of the apples and walnuts then place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 1 hour or until the pudding is well risen, golden brown and a skewer comes out cleanly when inserted,(this might take less time if you change the Bundt pan for a round tin or pudding dish) leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto your serving platter.

Place the butter, cream, sugar and salt into a small saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring all the time, then boil the mixture gently for 2-3 minutes until it thickens slightly. Leave to cool for five minutes then pour the sauce over the upturned pudding.

Serve warm with more custard or a big dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream. Delicious!

 

15s an Irish Institution... Traditional & caramel and toasted coconut

Posted by me on September 20, 2016 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)


If you happen to visit Northern Ireland you will find this lovely fridge cake on every tea time table and on every café menu.

It’s called a fifteen because there is almost no weighing involved, you just count out 15 of each ingredient, which is perfect if you can’t be bothered getting the weighing scales out.

I have made a traditional Fifteen and also tweaked the recipe a little and given it a caramel and toasted caramel twist which is just delicious, its up to you which version you decide to make but both are equally delicious and set to become a firm favourite

Traditional recipe

15 digestive biscuits

15 marshmallows ( I used pink and white ones which I then snipped into 4 pieces using scissors dipped into water)

15 glace cherries

200g of sweetened condensed milk (half a can)

A couple of handfuls of desiccated coconut

Caramel Fifteen with Toasted coconut

15 digestive biscuits

15 marshmallows (I used pink and white ones which I then snipped into 4 pieces using scissors dipped into water)

100g chocolate chunks, milk or plain- it’s up to you which flavour you would prefer

200g of caramel condensed milk (half a can, you can buy this already made or you can take a can of sweetened condensed milk and boil the unopened can in a pan of gently boiling water for 2 hours- take care when opening, make sure the can is completely cool before you attempt this)

1-2 tablespoons of double or whipping cream ( or milk)

A couple of good handfuls of desiccated coconut which needs to be toasted in a dry frying pan ( keep turning the coconut whilst you do this to get a lovely golden brown colour and to stop it burning)

100g milk or plain chocolate –melted in a microwave or in a small bowl over a pan of hot but not boiling water

4 or 5 pieces of fudge or toffee, cut into small chunks ( optional)

What to do

Blitz the digestive biscuits to fine crumbs in a food processor or put them in a bag and bash them with a heavy rolling pin, tip the crumbs into a large bowl and add the chopped up marshmallows and either the cherries or chocolate chunks.

Add the condensed/caramel milk (and the cream or milk if making the caramel version) and using a spoon (or even better your hand) mix the crumb mixture together until it forms a stiff paste.

For the traditional Fifteen- Lay a sheet of tinfoil on your work surface and place a sheet of cling film on the top then sprinkle with the desiccated coconut. Place the biscuit mixture on the top and form it into a log shape about 2” wide, covering the sides with more desiccated coconut. Wrap the log into a sausage shape and place into the fridge for 2-3 hours then cut into ½” thick rounds.

For the caramel Fifteeen’s divide the mixture into golf ball/ large walnut sized balls and roll each ball in the toasted coconut. Place onto a tray lined with a sheet of baking parchment and drizzle with the melted chocolate. top with the chopped up fudge or toffee if you really want to push the boat out then place into the fridge for 1-2 hours.


 

Banoffi cheesecake brownie with crispy bacon and caramel drizzle

Posted by me on June 19, 2016 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (1)


( serves 12 ) free from gluten

225g plain 70% chocolate, broken into small pieces

225g butter

200g soft light dark brown sugar

3 medium eggs

150g ground almonds

For the cheesecake swirl

180g full fat cream cheese

1 small very ripe banana (the browner and squidgier, the better the flavour)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

20g caster sugar

For the caramel drizzle

25g butter

150mls single cream

50g soft dark brown sugar

To serve

2 large firm, green (or only just ripe) bananas,

20g butter

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

2 teaspoons caster sugar

6 slices of streaky bacon pulled thinner with the back of a knife then cut in half Good quality Vanilla ice cream

Start by lining a 28cm x 18cm baking tin with baking or parchment paper and preheat the oven to 180c for a standard oven or 160c for a fan assisted

Place the broken chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl and melt in short bursts in the microwave then leave to cool for 5 minutes.

Place the soft brown sugar, 3 eggs and ground almonds into a mixing bowl and stir with a wire whisk then stir in the slightly cooled chocolate and butter mixture.

Place the cream cheese, caster sugar, mashed banana, egg and vanilla extract into a small bowl and beat well to combine then dollop alternate large spoonfuls of the brownie and cheesecake mixture into the prepared tin and place into the preheated oven.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is cracked and the brownie is a little risen and just set, it will firm up on cooling so don’t worry but this isn’t a firm brownie by any means. Cook the bacon too at this stage, place the slices of streaky bacon onto a baking tray and bake in the oven until crispy and golden brown, don’t overcook or the bacon will taste bitter. Remove from the tray, drain and cool on paper kitchen towel, reserve.

Once the brownie is baked, leave to cool down, then place the tin in the fridge for at least two hours.

Once the brownie is completely cold, cut into 12 equal sized pieces.

Make the sauce by placing the cream, butter and soft dark brown sugar into a small saucepan and bringing the mixture to the boil, cook at a rapid boil for 3-5 minutes, stirring gently, until the mixture is caramel coloured and thickened. Leave to cool.

Slice each of the bananas into 12 equal slices on the slant so that they are oval and not round in shape, melt the butter and oil in a shallow frying pan and heat until the fat is sizzling and just beginning to colour. Place the banana slices in a single layer then sprinkle with the caster sugar. Fry gently, turning once until the banana slices are golden brown on each side. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.

 

To serve.

Place a piece of brownie onto a plate and garnish with a light dusting of cocoa powder, a scoop of the vanilla ice cream, two slices of the fried banana, a slice of crispy bacon and a drizzle of the caramel.

 

White chocolate and clementine cupcakes

Posted by me on November 5, 2015 at 4:40 AM Comments comments (0)


As my favourite time of the year rapidly approaches ( where has this year gone again!!!)  I start to plan and prepare my Christmas feast for family and friends and I  always create a special cake or cookie ready for guests dropping by. This year I decided on a luscious, creamy white chocolate frosting, atop a bright red, clementine infused cake and a zingy fresh strawberry perched jauntily on the top..... Santa Clause has arrived in a very tasty fashion... If you don't like strawberries or if you dont quite have enough ( like i didnt...oops) you can always just pipe frosting on the top to resemble trees and decorate with sugar decorations,I used mini sugar gingerbread and white sugar dragees that I had in the cupboard but you can literally use anything

What you need

200g self raising flour

½ level teaspoon baking powder

200g caster sugar

100g butter

100g baking margarine

Grated zest of 4 Clementines

4 medium eggs, cracked and lightly beaten in a bowl

Few drops of red food colouring

Frosting

250g butter

200g icing sugar

200g white chocolate

16 large ripe strawberries

White chocolate stars, red and blue coloured dragees or mini sugar coated chocolate beans to decorate

What you do

Begin by preheating the oven to 180c or 160c for a fan assisted oven then line 2 x muffin tins with 16 paper muffin cases

Place the butter, margarine, caster sugar and Clementine zest in a bowl and beat until pale and fluffy then gradually beat in the eggs a little at a time , then fold in the flour, baking powder and red food colouring to give a deep red colour.

Divide the cake mixture between the 16 prepared paper cases and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until well risen and firm to the touch when pushed gently with your finger, leave to cool.

Whilst the cakes are cooling prepare the frosting by melting the chocolate in a small bowl over a pan of hot not boiling water or in a microwave (in small bursts). Leave to cool slightly but not set…

Cream the butter and icing sugar in a large bowl until very soft and fluffy then beat in the melted chocolate and continue beating until the mixture is pale and very creamy, place into a piping bag with a star nozzle attached.

Cut the strawberries just above half way up them and pipe a small swirl of frosting in each one, attach the top back on and pipe a small blob on the top for a bobble. Add two blue dragees or mini chocolate beans for eyes and a mouth

Pipe a swirl of frosting on the top of each cupcake and sprinkle with a few white chocolate stars then place a filled strawberry carefully on top.

I didn’t have quite enough strawberries for my cakes so I just piped the frosting on the top of some of my cakes to look like trees which looked really cute and were ideal as one member of my family doesn’t like strawberries…

 


Cheddar Cheese and seeded Oaty Crispbreads

Posted by me on October 29, 2015 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

If you think that Crispbreads are the cardboard tasting, diet induced slices of 'nothingness' then you really need to wrap your gnashers around homemade cheddar and multi seeded oaty crispbreads inspired by delicious Smorgasbord breads from Scandinavia, because there is absolutely nothing bland or cardboard like about these crisp, seed packed and tasty little babies...

Try them heaped with creamy butter, slabs of cheddar, smooth pate or zingy houmous, or simply with some Roll mop Herring like the Swedes,  and they are free from both dairy and eggs, if the honey was substituted for maple syrup or agave syrup they would be suitable for vegans too.

what you need

250g self raising wholemeal flour, plus extra for dusting

50g oat bran

70g mixed seeds (I used a mixture of pumpkin, sunflower, linseed and sesame seeds but you can use any variety you like) plus another 2 tablespoons for the top of the crackers

50g extra mature cheddar cheese, grated plus another 20g for the top of the crackers

1 level teaspoon sea salt

1 heaped teaspoon runny honey

30mls olive oil

175mls water

What you do....

Preheat the oven to 180c or 160c for a fan assisted oven

Place the 250g flour, into a large bowl with the oat bran, mixed seeds, sea salt and grated extra mature cheddar and mix well to distribute all the ingredients, ensuring there are no large lumps of cheese visible.

Drizzle over the olive oil and honey then the 175mls cold water and bring the mixture together into a ball with your hand, it will be sticky at this point but if you leave it for 15 minutes the extra moisture will be absorbed by the flour. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces

Sprinkle two non-stick 12” x 9” baking trays (30 x 23cm) with a little flour and then squash half the dough into a thin layer using your fingers and knuckles, sprinkling a little extra flour on top to stop the dough sticking.

Once you have an equal thin layer sprinkle with a tablespoon more of seeds, squashing them in slightly to the dough and then sprinkle with half of the extra grated cheese. Repeat with the second tray

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes until golden brown then remove the baking trays from the oven and score each into 8 equal pieces, then reduce the heat in the oven to 140c or 120c for a further 45-90 minutes or until the crispbreads are totally dry and snap when broken along the score lines.

Leave the Crispbreads to cool completely then store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Perfect with a good chunk of cheese, some glorious golden butter or some creamy pate or houmous…

 



Swedish inspired Chocolate and oat cookies

Posted by me on October 28, 2015 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (0)


Every now and then I manage to persuade my poor other half that we really need to spend a spare Sunday traipsing around a very large Swedish furniture store with hundreds of other like minded couples buying lots of stuff that ( actually in truth) we really dont need and then trying to ram it all in our car like a giant Tetris puzzle.

As a peace offering I buy a box of scrummy oat cookies that are sandwiched together with dark, rich chocolate and we scoff them on the drive home because they are just too good to wait for the comfort of a sofa.

These delicious oat and coconut cookies are crisp,buttery and slightly nutty and are the perfect antidote to traditional boring biscuits, they are extremely quick and easy to make and if stored in an airtight container will last a week but I guarantee that once you have one they really wont last that long at all....

What you need to make 25 double cookies

300g light soft brown sugar

150g oatbran ( as fine as you can get it)

50g dessicated coconut

70g self raising flour ( plus a little extra to dust)

large pinch of sea salt

1/2 level teaspoon of baking powder

1 level teaspoon of ground cinnamon

few drops of vanilla essence

170g butter

1 medium egg yolk

350g plain chocolate melted over a pan of hot not boiling water, or in short bursts in the microwave

What you do

Preheat the oven to 180c or 160c for a fan assisted oven then line three large baking sheets with baking paper

If you have a food processor this is the quickest and easiest recipe ever... just chuck all the dry ingredients into the bowl and process for a minute then add in the vanilla essence, butter and egg yolk and pulse for a few seconds to form a stiff dough.

If you dont have a food processor just place all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and then add the butter in small pieces and rub into the flour and sugar mix with your finger tips to form breadcrumbs then add in the vanilla essence and egg yolk and squash together with one hand to form a firm dough.

Lightly dust your work surface with a little flour then roll out the dough to about 3mm thick or the thickness of a £1 coin then cut out 50 x 6cm circles. Place the cut out cookies on the prepared baking trays, leaving plenty of space between them as they will spread a little and bake in the pre heated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies are a lovely golden brown colour ( dont overbake them as they will taste bitter)

Remove to a wire cooling rack and then bake the remainder of your cookies.

Once cool sandwich two cookies together with a heaped teaspoon of melted chocolate and drizzle with a little more chocolate.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.



Cinnamon and honey cracker S'Mores

Posted by me on August 10, 2015 at 4:05 AM Comments comments (0)


I am off on my holidays tomorrow to our favourite city on the planet, Las Vegas, Nevada in the good old USA (11,8,2015) and thought I would share the baking I indulged in yesterday in honour of our little excursion across the Atlantic... These bad boys are a cross between an English Digestive biscuit        ( boring!) a Rich tea biscuit (even more boring) and a child hood favourite a Wagon Wheel ( so much bigger when I was a child :D) but OH BOY boring and bland they S'mores definately aint!!!!

Squidgy marshmallow oozes between two crisp wholewheat biscuits and they are half smothered in creamy milk chocolate and a sprinkling of little white chocolate stars....

Quick and simple to make, they take minutes in a food processor or very slightly longer by hand and can be on the table in under an hour, go on get that baking apron on, you know you want to!!! x

what you need

220g wholemeal self raising flour, plus a little more to dust the work surface

55g plain flour

90g Demerara sugar

1 ½ level teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ level teaspoon sea salt

½ level teaspoon baking powder

90g butter

45mls milk

65g runny honey

1 level teaspoon vanilla extract

250g milk chocolate, chopped into small chunks

Approximately 20 marshmallows

White chocolate stars or other white chocolate decoration (optional)

What you do…

Preheat the oven to 180c or 160c for a fan assisted oven

Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, sea salt and baking powder into the bowl of a food processor and blitz for a few seconds to mix all the ingredients. Add the butter and blitz again until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (alternatively place the dry ingredients into a large bowl, mix with a wire hand whisk to mix them all together then rub the butter into the dry mixture with your fingertips until they resemble breadcrumbs).

In a small bowl mix the milk, honey and vanilla extract together then add into the flour mixture. Blitz again until the mixture comes together into a ball or use your hand to bring it together in the bowl, the mixture should be soft but not sticky, if it’s too dry add a little bit more milk.

Sprinkle your work surface with a little flour and roll out until it’s the thickness of a £1 coin or 3mm thick, cut out circles using a 5-6cm cutter and place onto a non stick tray, prick holes with the end of a skewer or use a fork then bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until the crackers are just brown around the edges, don’t over bake or they will taste bitter. Remove from the oven and allow half of the crackers to cool on the tray. Turn the remaining half of the crackers over on a tray and place a marshmallow on top then place back into the oven for a few minutes until the mallows just start to soften and swell, place a cooling cracker on the top of each one and squish down slightly, leave to cool completely.

Place the milk chocolate, broken into small pieces in a glass bowl and Melt in short bursts in the microwave or melt in a bowl over a pan of hot but not boiling water until smooth.

Dip the crackers half way into the melted milk chocolate, shake gently to remove the excess then place onto a tray lined with baking paper or parchment, sprinkle with the white chocolate stars and then leave to set.

 

Mardi Gras King Cake with cream cheese and pecan nuts

Posted by me on July 28, 2015 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)


If you happen to visit the city of New Orleans on Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday as it is affectionately known in the USA (Mardi Gras translated from the French means Fat Tuesday….) you will be mesmerised by the vibrancy, loud noise and party atmosphere of the carnival that happens at this time every year

Parades, marching bands, floats and Beautiful girls in the skimpiest of costumes dance to the loud, pulsating beat and there is food galore to tempt even the most jaded of palettes including this wonderful enriched dough cake decorated with sparkly purple ( to represent justice), green (for faith) and gold (to represent power) sugar crystals and hidden inside a small plastic toy baby. Tradition states that whoever found the baby was deemed king for the day as it represented the baby Jesus but nowadays the baby is more often said to bring good luck and prosperity for the following year.

This is my version of a King cake ( a cross betweeen a danish pastry and a cake) and because I want all my lovely friends to have good luck and prosperity in the coming year I spray a bag of jelly babies gold and then everybody gets to be king and can look forward to 365 fabulous days.

What you need

225g sour cream

60g caster sugar

25g butter

½ teaspoon sea salt

7g packet instant yeast

50mls warm water

1 medium egg

420g strong white flour (bread flour)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the filling

40g Caster sugar

200g full fat cream cheese

1 egg yolk( beaten) reserve the egg white for the icing on top

1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract or the seeds scraped out of one vanilla pod

100g pecan nuts, roughly chopped or broken

For the glaze

140g icing sugar

1 tablespoons melted butter

2 teaspoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk

Purple, green and gold coloured sugar crystals

8 yellow jelly babies (spray gold WITH Dr Oetker shimmer spray if you want to be extravagant) or a small plastic baby

What you do

HOW TO PROVE>>>Start by preheating the oven to ‘prove’ your cake. Place a bowl of boiling water into the bottom of your oven and switch it on to the lowest setting or 50c then close the door and don’t open again until you are ready to prove your dough.

Place the sour cream, sugar, butter and salt into a small saucepan and cook gently over a low heat to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar. Remove and leave to cool until it is just warm

Mix the yeast with the warm water.

Place the flour and cinnamon into a large bowl then tip in the warm sour cream mixture followed by the yeast mixture, bring it together with your hand ( don’t worry if it is sticky at this stage) and tip it out onto a clean work surface.

Knead the dough by pulling, stretching and ripping it away from you and then returning it back to the clump. Repeat as much as you can for ten minutes or until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.

Place into the bowl you used to mix in and place into the pre warmed oven TURN THE HEAT OFF NOW and DO NOT open the door for half an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Whilst the dough is proving make the cream cheese filling by mixing the cream cheese, sugar, half the beaten egg and vanilla essence together in a small bowl

Once the dough is doubled in size, remove from the oven and tip out onto a clean work surface lightly dusted with a little flour and flatten out to a rectangle 45 x 25cm then spread the cream cheese filling to within 1 ½ cm of the edges. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans and roll the dough up as you would a Swiss roll starting from the long edge so you end up with a long thin sausage.


Line a baking tray with baking paper and place the sausage onto it, forming a large ring


Repeat the stage to prove the dough once more by turning the oven back on to warm with a bowl of boiling water in the bottom then turn the heat off once the tray goes into the oven for a further 30 minutes or until once again doubled in size. Remove the tray and the bowl of water from the oven whilst you heat the oven to 200c for a standard oven and 190c for a fan assisted oven.

Bake for approximately 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown and baked all the way through.

Whilst the cake is baking make up the creamy drizzle icing by mixing all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Once baked Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes then drizzle the creamy drizzle icing all over the top and sprinkle with bands of coloured sugar crystals and the jelly babies that have been sprayed gold….. Now it’s time to party hearty Baby and let the rhythm take you….

 

Yorkshire curd tarts

Posted by me on July 26, 2015 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)


There is an unwritten law, somewhere, that you can’t go to the Gods own county of Yorkshire without sampling a freshly baked curd tart, if by any chance there isn’t such a law then there jolly well should be!

Curd tarts are the English version of a baked cheesecake, long before those pesky American’s decreed that only they know how to make a New York cheesecake, we made them in ‘old’ York in the 1700’s. Some traditional recipes called for rosewater and plenty of ground nutmeg and others for allspice but always for freshly made curds, lemon and butter.

Making curds is the simplest thing in the world to do so don’t try substituting cottage cheese for them, neither the flavour or texture will be right and these are worth the little extra effort and time involved to make these gorgeous lemon infused nommy-ness’es

What you need

For the curds

500mls full fat milk

500mls single cream

Juice of one large lemon (save the zest for the filling later, just finely grate it then store wrapped in cling film in the fridge)

For the pastry

200g plain flour

100g butter

1 tablespoon icing sugar

Good pinch of salt

1 egg yolk

A little cold water to bind the pastry together

For the filling

50g raisins

1 large egg, beaten

60g butter

60g caster sugar

What you do

Start by making the curds, you need to do this the day before.

Place the milk and cream into a non stick saucepan and bring gently to a simmer, add the lemon juice and reduce the heat to very low, stirring very gently. After a few minutes you will have a very watery opaque liquid and clumps of white curds. leave the curds to cool in the liquid then get two clean, brand new, J cloths and unfold them, place one on top of the other in a + formation then pour the curds and whey into it (its easiest if you do this bit in a bowl or you will have a very messy floor). Tie the bundle together with a bit of cling film that you have rolled into a cord or use a bit of string, then hang the J cloths in a ‘safe’ cool place to drip overnight- nowhere a cat can get its furry little paws on it! Been there, done that got the ‘fat cat’s eaten the curds T-shirt’…

When you have your curds you can start on the pastry.

Place the flour, icing sugar and pinch of salt into a bowl and break up the butter into pieces, rub the butter between your fingertips to make fine breadcrumbs then add the egg yolk and just enough water to make a firm but not dry or sticky pastry. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 170c or 150c for a fan assisted oven

Divide the pastry into 6 equal pieces and roll each out, line 6 x 10cm individual tart tins.

To make the filling, place the butter, reserved lemon zest and caster sugar into a bowl and beat together until creamy then add the beaten egg, the raisins and finally the drained curds, stir gently to combine then divide the filling between the pastry cases, smooth and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the tart is golden brown and the pastry is fully baked.

Serve warm or cold.

 

Goosnargh Biscuits

Posted by me on July 26, 2015 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)


Makes approximately 20

Lancashire is rightly proud of its baking heritage and some of the delicious cakes and biscuits that originate in the county (probably to cheer the inhabitants up from having to live with the wet and windy climate for most of the year!)

Near to the City of Preston is a small pretty village with the quaint name of Goosnargh which is renowned for its caraway seeded shortbread although unfortunately they are no longer produced commercially in the area.

Caraway has a decidedly aniseed flavour and these crisp little shortbreads were typically baked and given at Easter or Whitsun as gifts around the village.

If you love aniseed or liquorice, make a batch of these lovely little Biscuits, the caraway flavour is as warm and inviting as the people of the Red Rose county.

What you need

150g plain flour

100g butter

50g caster sugar

1 heaped teaspoon of caraway seeds

A little additional caster sugar to sprinkle on after baking

What you do

Preheat the oven to 180c, 160c for a fan oven or Gas mark 4 then line a baking tray with silicone or baking parchment.

Cream the butter, caraway seeds and sugar together in a bowl till softened and light then add the flour and mix till claggy (A Northern expression meaning large lumps) them bring the mixture together with your hand until you have a smooth, firm dough.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 3mm thick and use a ruler to cut oblongs twice as long as the width of your ruler, the amount of biscuits you get will depend on the width of the ruler you use.

Place the cut biscuits onto the tray and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until a light golden brown colour, sprinkle with the caster sugar as soon as you remove them from the oven then leave to cool on a wire rack.

It’s a real shame these biscuits are no longer available in the village as they are a lovely addition to the tea tray and make a lovely gift if placed into a pretty box and tied with ribbon.

 

An ode to a Barton slice (12 bars)

Posted by me on July 26, 2015 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (1)


Deep in the Lancashire countryside on the A6 between bustling Preston and the pretty old market town of Garstang is a fabulous garden centre (complete with cool, giant flower head urinals in the gents for the fella’s to wee elegantly into) that makes the most delicious cakes, cookies and scones. It’s one of our favourite places to visit when the Husband gets his ‘Alan Titchmarsh hat’ on and there is nothing nicer than sitting out on the café veranda overlooking the gurgling river and munching on the slab of coconut and chocolate heaven that bears the name, Barton slice.

Coconut macaroon decadently laden with dried cranberries, apricots and cherries, sitting proudly on a plain chocolate base, this is a grown up Bounty Bar with attitude and very quick and easy to make

What you need

3 egg whites

180g caster sugar

150g desiccated coconut

60g dried cranberries

60g dried apricots, chopped

60g glace cherries, halved

400g plain chocolate, broken into small chunks

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

100g milk chocolate, broken into small chunks,

What you do

Line a 30cm x 20cm tin with baking paper.

Place the broken up chocolate into a heat proof bowl and either melt over a pan of hot but not boiling water ( don’t allow the base of the bowl to touch the water) or in a microwave on short bursts then add the vegetable oil. Pour the melted chocolate into the prepared tin and level by tapping the tin gently on a work surface, leave in the fridge to set.

Preheat the oven to 160c or 140c for a fan assisted oven

Meanwhile make the topping by placing the sugar, egg white and coconut into a large non stick saucepan and warming over a low heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture should be warm but not hot… Remove from the heat and add the cranberries, chopped apricots and cherry halves, stir well to combine then spoon on top of the cooled slab of chocolate.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes then reduce the heat to 120c or 100c for a fan assisted oven for a further 15 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch, leave to cool in the tin before melting the milk chocolate and drizzling over the surface. Place in the fridge for an hour to completely chill then cut into 12 equal sized bars.

 

Cinnamon and apple Eccles cakes (makes 10)

Posted by me on July 26, 2015 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)


Here in Lancashire there is good natured rivalry between the towns of Chorley, Accrington and Eccles as to who produces the best fruit filled pastry ‘cake’. Despite being an inhabitant of the market town of Chorley, I much prefer the sugar encrusted puff pastry Eccles version compared to the plainer Chorley or Accrington short crust pastry cakes that are traditionally eaten slathered in a bit’o best butter, my Husband a true Chorley Boy doesn’t agree with me in the slightest…..

Normally filled with just currants, butter and brown sugar I have added a bit of spicy cinnamon and a generous dollop of chunky Bramley apple sauce to make a lighter, fruity filling and topped them with a flaky, crunchy sugar crust, they are divine…

What you need

500g readymade puff pastry- all butter if you can find it, it gives a much nicer taste

A little plain flour to dust the work surface whilst rolling out the pastry

200g dried mixed fruit

100g Bramley apple sauce

1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon

15g butter, melted

1 egg white

100g granulated sugar

What you do

 

Preheat the oven to 180c or 160c for a fan assisted oven and line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a small bowl combine the dried mixed fruit, cinnamon, apple sauce and melted butter, mix well to combine all the flavours

Roll out the pastry on a lightly dusted work surface until the pastry is no thinner than ½ cm thick, cut out 10 circles using a 10cm plain edged cutter, re-rolling the pastry if necessary to get 10 circles.

Place a generous heaped teaspoon of apple filling into the centre of each circle and dampen half of each pastry disc with a little cold water, pinch the pastry together into the centre to enclose the filling (they will look slightly ball shaped at this point) then turn them over so the neat surface is on the top. Roll them back out to a 10cm circle, using the cutter as a guide.

Beat the egg white in a small bowl then dip the top (neat) surface of each Eccles cake into it followed by a dip into the granulated sugar.

Place onto the prepared baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes or until the cakes are well risen, golden brown and the underside of the pastry is cooked all the way through.

Leave to cool on the tray

 


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