Cherry Bakewell Sponge Pudding

P1010038It is the season of comfort foods, and comfort puddings.  I know it won’t be long before I crave fresh vibrant salads and fruit, so I maximise the opportunity for some warmth and comfort in my cooking.

I found this recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine October 2017 issue. I love the traditional British Bakewell Tart (or Bakewell pudding) and having visited Bakewell itself, the home of this tasty pudding I have had the real thing!  Today’s pudding is a variation on the theme, but as with all the recipes I prefer to make, easy and tasty. And, of course with cherries – fruit – y’know, healthy!

This Cherry Bakewell Sponge Pudding is warm, almondy, comforting and with a nice balance of fruit to sponge topping.  You could of course, always add more fruit if you prefer that.

Personally, I would thicken the cherry sauce a little more, as I was unable to reduce it enough (without it all ending up a sticky sugary mess). But as it was, the excess liquid was absorbed by the almond sponge, and worked well.

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The sponge topping has ground almonds, and almond essence, as well as flaked almonds sprinkled over the top (maximum almond!!).

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The end result is a lovely, light almond sponge on top of the cherry filling. I would definitely make this again.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful day 🙂

 

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Jamaican Ginger & Caramel Cake

I’ve been pretty indecisive about what to bake this week.  There are a few recipes which have caught my eye, but each time I think yes, I’ll do that one, I then start questioning my decision and change my mind.  But the lure of a sticky ginger and caramel cake was strong, and so, I settled on this one.

This recipe is from Olive Magazine’s December 2017 issue.  It is one of those cakes which is “bare” on the sides, but with icing running off the top in decorative “drips”.

With rum, caramel, dark treacle, stem ginger, dates and spices on this list of ingredients, it is a lovely cake for this time of year when the weather is turning colder.

This was, purely by chance a gluten-free recipe, using gluten-free flour, but otherwise all the usual store-cupboard ingredients. It was easy enough to bake, melting together the sugars with the rum, caramel, dates and ginger and blitzing until it was smooth, before adding the butter and eggs.

Once well mixed (oh, and don’t forget to breath in deeply – that gorgeous rum, ginger and treacle…..) add to the spices and flour.  The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of ground ginger, but (and I love, love, love ginger) even that seemed excessive, so I halved the quantity.

Mix well and pour into two cake tins and bake.

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The icing is a caramel buttercream, which goes so well with the treacly ginger of the cake.  Once iced, some Caramac bars are melted with ginger syrup and poured over the top of the cake (this is where it all went wrong for me….).  My Caramac and ginger syrup seized.  I added more, and then again more, ginger syrup to loosen the mixture.  I then decided to work with that, or give up.  I spooned the Caramac mixture on the top of the cake, but there wasn’t enough – or it was just not quite liquid enough to dribble down the sides of the cake.  I conceded defeat.

The proof, however is in the tasting.  The cake is lovely, light yet rich and very gingery and the caramel buttercream compliments it perfectly.  In my opinion though, the Caramac doesn’t enhance it at all, though I suspect that’s just a matter of personal taste.

It’s not neat or pretty, I would never be a plasterer!! I found it quite difficult putting the barest amount of icing on the sides of the cake.

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Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you all a peaceful weekend 🙂

 

 

 

 

Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes

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By now you are all familiar with my complete and utter lack of any artistic talent.  I have all these amazing (AMAZING!!!) ideas in my head, but, sadly however hard I try, I am unable to make them reality.  Well, I make them reality in a way – just in a very amateurish, untalented, embarrassingly messy way.  But, equally as you know, I am not one to let this defeat me. I read loads of recipes, I am always thinking hmmmmm…..I should be able to do that…….and failing.  But, I try. That’s the important thing (at least that’s what I tell myself!).

I have been going through a massive house clear-out and in the course of this found another back issue of Cupcake Heaven magazine. I found my recipe.  Just the thought of it makes me smile, and these days, that’s good enough for me.

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Spaghetti and meatball cupcakes – yes, these had my name on them 🙂

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Unusually for me, I followed the recipe almost exactly.

I’ve always said never bake with hate in your heart. I stand by that. And baking for me is therapeutic, it is a positive, a comfort, a calming activity.  We all need more of this kind of thing in our lives.

The cupcake part of the recipe was a pretty standard plain vanilla sponge cupcake. In fact, the whole recipe was so lovely and easy.  Even the decorating part.  And you know if I can do this, anyone can!!

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And so to the decoration…..the spaghetti is vanilla buttercream.

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The meatballs are Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

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The tomato sauce is raspberry jam – and this is where my minor deviation from the recipe was, the recipe used fresh raspberries heated, reduced and sieved.

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And, finally the grated Parmesan is white chocolate. And we have the finished product!  Dear readers, I give you (drum roll…….) Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes!

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Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Apricot & Walnut Soda Bread

 

One of life’s great joys is the aroma of freshly baked bread, not to mention, that first lovely fresh slice of bread you’ve baked yourself.  I love baking my own bread, from the raw basic ingredients to the end product, it is easy, and so satisfying!  I don’t own a breadmaker – I am the breadmaker!!  I find baking generally relaxing and therapeutic, and you can’t get much more inbuilt therapy than kneading dough and feeling it transform from a lump to something magically “alive”.  To be honest, the kneading is the best part of baking bread.  Well, for me it is!  The only down side is the time it takes, because you can’t hurry a good loaf of bread.

I have wanted to bake walnut bread for ages – lovely fresh walnut bread with cheese…..heaven! But I couldn’t find the recipe I had kept and so I searched….when suddenly this one caught my eye.  Apricot & Walnut Soda Bread.  I haven’t baked soda bread before, mainly because it is best on the day of baking, and I prefer my bread to last just a bit longer than a day.  But…this one had to be tried, it would be quicker because it is not a yeasted bread, and so I persuaded myself.

Chopped dried apricots, chopped walnuts and the addition of oats to the mixture, made it a nice wholesome bread.  The dry ingredients were mixed with the fruit and nuts.

and then a mixture of milk and yoghurt was added and everything mixed gently together.  The dough seemed a bit damp to me, but I was hesitant to add more flour in case it toughened the bread, and not having made soda bread before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The mixed dough was turned out on to the baking tray, it was a bit too damp to shape neatly, never mind to make a nice neat cut across the top.  But sometimes if you just grit your teeth and pretend it’s not all going wrong, it can still work out, and so into the oven it went.

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This is the end result – I prefer to call it “rustic”……………..and the proof is always in the tasting…………

And yes, reader, it worked!  Appearances are not always everything.  It tasted good, I got the vote of approval from my Kitchen Taster, and now I have a new bread recipe to add to my repertoire.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Lime Drizzle Cupcakes

I love limes.  They look beautiful – I could happily keep a bowl of limes on the table just to look at!  But I love their taste and sharpness just as much, and they enhance so many things – giving a lovely sharp, fresh lift to savoury dishes and salads. And of course on the sweeter side – lime and coconut, candied lime zest, lime cordial (home-made of course!) and not to forget a glass of sloe gin with tonic and a few slices of lime….but, I digress!

I found a recipe for Lime Drizzle Cupcakes in an old issue of Cupcake Heaven Magazine – they credit the recipe to the book Cupcakes and Mini Cakes.  Lemon drizzle cake is heavenly, but the lure of limes was strong.  I had to try this.  I was in love before I even started.

This is one of those recipes where you fling everything in a bowl and just blitz it. Another bonus! Quick and easy, not complicated, that’s the sort of recipe I like.

I did a minor deviation from the recipe by adding some of this: P1000970

It is a wonderful sharp lime extract, and difficult to resist using 🙂

I followed the rest of the recipe exactly.  Even with hindsight, there is nothing I can tweak, it is just right.

By the time I’d done this (it really doesn’t take long – for “cupcakes in a hurry” its a great recipe to try) I began to doubt myself – it didn’t look as if there was enough batter.  The recipe says if makes 12 cupcakes, I managed 11.  Of course I could have put slightly less batter in each cupcake case……and into the oven they went.

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Once baked, the cupcakes are moved to a wire rack to cool and drizzled with a lime syrup.  I added more lime juice than the recipe stated (would you expect anything less?!) but because of this I heated the syrup to thicken it slightly.  It still turned out fine.  The cupcakes are light and have a lovely sharp lime flavour.  No embellishment needed!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Pistachio Shortbread

This is one of those recipes which turns out differently every time I make it.  Today I actually thought it would be a fail (jinxed by last week?). But no, it worked.  I got the recipe from one of the fabulous series of publications by Australian Women’s Weekly – this one entitled “Wicked Sweet Indulgences”.  How could I resist with a title like that?!

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This is where I admit I neither like, nor dislike pistachios.  But I love their pink and green colour. Well, that’s me, shallow to a T.  Show me a pretty colour and I’m yours!

Remember not to play with your food……………

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This recipe contains – apart from cake flour – rice flour, cornflour and ground almonds.  These help create a lovely, light, crumbly texture.

Beat together butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the flour, cornflour, rice flour and ground almonds.

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Mix in the chopped toasted pistachios, spoon onto the baking trays in mounds and bake.

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I was supposed to keep aside some pistachios to place on the top of the shortbread before baking, but I threw them all into the mixture.  Sometimes you just have to!!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful day 🙂

 

Cheese Scones

Before you read any further, I must warn you, this is a baking fail. Not a fail as in everyone who ate my cheese scones died a long slow agonising death….but a fail as in lack of baking success. The scones are perfectly edible, we are all still alive and healthy (relatively so anyway……) but they did not turn out the way I hoped they would. This happens.

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I have a go-to scone recipe which I use all the time. It is quick, easy, the scones are light, I’ve adapted it for sweet or savoury and it always works.  The recipe uses oil instead of butter and this results in a wetter dough, which can’t be neatly cut and shaped, but instead is dolloped from a spoon onto the baking tray.  But, looks aren’t everything!

I do from time to time wish however, that my scones looked beautiful and neat.  To do that I would need to use a different recipe.  One which uses butter, and the “rubbing in” method.  After a lengthy consultation with Aunty Google, I chose a recipe for cheese scones which had the word “ultimate” in their title.  Well, there’s a promise!

My only deviation from the recipe was to use less cheese – yes, even I can’t believe I did that.  The quantity seemed to much, and I cut it by a third.  I am glad I did, as I cannot see how the extra cheese could have worked at all.

I did the “rubbing in” bit, but, life is too short really to “rub in”, isn’t it.  So I used my handy tool equivalent (what on earth is it called? I haven’t a clue).

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Once the required breadcrumb texture had been achieved, I mixed in the grated cheese and the milk.  I began to panic….this didn’t look enough. 12 to 16 scones the recipe said….the dough was very dry and I had to add a bit more milk.  I was worried I’d add too much milk and the dough would be too wet, and I’d feel I’d have to add more flour….and, you know how it goes, we’ve all been there!

Finally I managed to get the dough to come together enough that I could pat it out on a board and cut out my scones.

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Now those (don’t look at the cracks please!) look nice and neat.  But I only managed to get 10 (medium size) scones out of the dough.  12 to 16 would have been teeny tiny midget scones…. and into the oven they went.

The colour looked fine…..but…BUT…they didn’t rise much.  Why? Baking fail alert!!!  I cut one open – very thin halves because of the lack of rise.  It looked – in my opinion – to be okay texture-wise, it was light, not heavy.  I didn’t bake bricks!  Was there still too much cheese?  I will definitely try this style recipe again, but I’ll source another recipe to see if it makes any difference.

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Still, the taste is right – lovely mature cheddar, fresh warm scone, cold salty butter….

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful day 🙂