Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Choux Pastry Ring

I must admit, I had always thought that choux pastry was really hard to make, but I promise it isn't, and it's definitely worth a go.

You will need -
Half a pint of water
4oz butter or margarine
5oz plain flour (preferably bread flour)
3-4 free range eggs (beaten)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar

Preheat oven to 200C

Put the water, sugar, salt and fat in saucepan and bring to the boil.

Remove from heat, add the sieved flour and mix in with a wooden spoon.

Return to a moderate heat and stir continuously until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool - this is the really important bit, because if it is too hot it won't work.

When cool, gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well. The mixture should resemble a paste.

At this point you could shape the mixture into eclair or profiterole shapes, but as the cake was for a special occasion I decided to make a ring.

To create a ring, oil a baking tray and place large spoonfuls of the paste on to the tray in a circle shape. The spoonfuls need to be close to each other but not quite touching.

Place in a hot oven (200C) for 20-30 mins.
Allow to cool and then cut the choux pastry ring in half. Fill with whipped cream, placing the top of pastry ring back on top.

Top off with melted chocolate or icing, whichever you prefer. There should be plenty for 4-6 people.


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Chocolate Oatmeal Muffins

After buying a huge value-pack of porridge oats to make these yummy Oatmeal and Sunflower Muffins, I thought I should get on and use the rest of it up with some more tasty treats!

Of course you can never got wrong with a chocolate cake and so I bring you Chocolate Oatmeal Muffins!

You will need
0.5 cup porridge oats
0.5 cup of Flora
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup of soft brown sugar
2 free range eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp baking powder
4tbsp cocoa

Mix the rolled oats, flora and boiling water in a bowl.

Add in the beaten eggs, the sugar and the vanilla essence and mix well. It will look a bit lumpy due to the oats!

Add in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate, and cocoa. Mix well.

Spoon into muffin cases and bake at 175C for 20mins.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Banana and Cinnamon Muffins

These banana and cinnamon muffins are a wonderful warming snack for chilly winter evenings (or any other time of day!).

You will need

2 medium bananas that are past their best!
200g plain flour
0.5tsp baking powder
0.5tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp cinnamon
130g light brown sugar
1 free range egg
75g Flora

Mash the bananas and add to the sugar, egg and Flora. Mix well.

Fold in all the dry ingredients.

Spoon into 12 muffin cases and bake for 20mins at 180C.

Sprinkle over a little icing sugar to serve.

These muffins definitely have a healthier taste to them, with most of the sweetness coming from the banana. The cinnamon takes away the over-bananary taste that some banana cakes have!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Pancake Day... Scotch style!

I’m yet to meet someone who doesn’t like pancakes, but they can feel a bit of a faff. Worrying about them sticking and the inevitable flipping issues could make you want to give it a miss. If this sounds familiar you are going to love this simple Scotch Pancake (aka drop scones) recipe! It’s super fast to make and surprisingly low-cal, that’s if you can resist eating the whole batch!

You will need (makes 18)
100g self raising flour
25g caster sugar
1 free range egg
150ml milk

Chuck all your ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. I gave mine a good blast with my ancient retro Kenwood handmixer to get plenty of air in.

Oil and preheat a sturdy flat bottomed frying pan or griddle and then spoon in a dessertspoon of mixture. It should naturally form a circle of batter about 3-4 inches across and about 5mm thick.

Cook until bubbles start to rise to the surface...

And then turn with a spatula or a palette knife.

Cook for about 30 secs more until golden brown.

To serve spread a little Flora over...

Or go American by piling them high and adding a good dose of golden syrup, some warmed fruits and a generous spoonful of ice cream. Yum!

As an added bonus these Scotch pancakes can be saved to eat over the next few days, just pop in the toaster or the microwave for a few seconds to warm before serving!

Sunday, 19 February 2012


After a busy day with the chooks, especially with the snow and freezing weather making every task outside take twice the time, a quick and easy dinner is the perfect antidote. Fajitas are a real favourite and are so easy to make!

You will need - 
1 red pepper
1 large red onion
Some thinly sliced free-range chicken breasts (the amount depends on how hungry you are!)
1tsp paprika
pinch of ground cumin
1 lime
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 hot chilli pepper
A handful of mushrooms
Flour tortillas
Sour cream
Avocado (or some guacamole)
Homemade Salsa
Chedder Cheese
Fancy salad (at this time of year I buy a bag, but in the summer it's fresh-from-the-garden cut-and-come-again salad leaves!)

Add thinly sliced pepper, onion and chicken to a bowl and add in the paprika and cumin. Squeeze over the juice of half a lime and a drizzle of olive oil. Grind some black pepper over and allow to marinade for 20mins.

Fry off the marinaded mix in a pre-heated heavy bottomed pan or griddle and cook for about 6-8mins until cooked through.

Add the mushrooms and chilli and season with more spice to taste! I like it nice and hot! Before you serve squeeze over the rest of the lime juice.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave for a few seconds and serve! I'm not a fan of guacamole (I don't like the texture), but a bit of avocado goes down treat!

Chuck some of the chicken/veg mix into your tortilla and add in the salad, sour cream, salsa, avocado/guacamole, and cheese before wrapping up and eating!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Oatmeal and Sunflower Muffins

Because porridge oats sounds a bit weird to be a muffin ingredient, I'm going with the US nomenclature and calling these Oatmeal and Sunflower muffins. These are definitely a healthier option and could even be a breakfast muffin ! I'm voting to have one with a mid-morning cup of tea!

You will need -

5oz plain flour
1tbsp baking powder
4oz soft light brown sugar
5oz porridge oats
3.5oz raisins
4.5oz sunflower seeds
2 medium free range eggs
9fl oz semi-skimmed milk
6tbsp sunflower oil
1tsp vanilla extract

Mix all the dry ingredients (save 1oz of the sunflower seeds for later) together in a bowl.

Mix all the wet ingredients together and then mix into the dry ingredients. Don't over mix - it should be just combined!

Spoon into 12 muffin cases and sprinkle the remaining sunflower seeds over.

Bake for 20mins until golden brown on the top. Serve warm.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Cookie Monster Would Be Proud - Cookie Muffins

These un-assuming little muffins hide a yummy secret - they have a crunchy bottom!

Until this week I'd never eaten an Oreo, but I didn't let this deter me from making some Oreo Muffins! I chose the ones with a chocolaty filling!

You will need - (makes 16)
Oreos - one each for each muffin, plus a few extras!
10oz plain flour
1tbsp baking powder
4tbsp cocoa
4oz caster sugar
2 medium free range eggs
9fl oz semi-skimmed milk
6tbsp sunflower oil
1tsp vanilla extract

Place an Oreo into the bottom of each of your muffin cases.

Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, sugar, and baking powder together in a bowl.

Add the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and mix. (Don't over mix!)

Once mixed, crumble in the remaining Oreos (don't crumble them too fine, you want to keep a few chunks!) and then mix gently.

Spoon into the cases and bake at 200C for 15mins until the top springs back a little when gently pressed.

These Muffins are totally scrummy! You can see from the bottom that the Oreo is totally intact at the base of the cake, and the mixture envelops the cookie holding it securely in place. Yum!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Light and Fluffy Chocolate Cupcakes

This is a classic Victoria Sponge Cake recipe (from my Nanny Joan's handwritten recipe card!) but with some added cocoa to make the lightest chocolate cakes you could ever hope for!

You will need -

6oz Flora
5oz golden caster sugar
3 free range eggs
5oz self raising flour
1oz cocoa
1.5tsp baking powder

Cream the flora and the sugar together in a bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until lovely and smooth.

Spoon into 12 muffin cases and bake for 25mins a 180C.

In a vain attempt to make this a bit healthier I omitted a fancy topping with a more modest light dusting of icing sugar!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Pinkish Valentines Cakes

Valentine's is as good a reason as any to knock up some yummy cakes and with the prospect of some new silicone moulds in cute heart shapes it's too tempting not to have a go!

After a couple of not-so-successful attempts at a Red Velvet cake I decide to lower my sights and go for a all together pinker pudding.

First I took my favourite Madeleine sponge recipe and after mixing thoroughly I added about 10 drops of Dr Oetker red food colouring until I got a decidedly pinky shade. The mix was added to a heart sandwich tin and some well greased and floured and very cute heart cupcake moulds.

After baking they definitely had a pinkish tinge, but if I'm honest I think my super-fresh and amazingly coloured eggs from my lovely hens were working against me!

So undeterred, the only option was to go full-on pink with some pretty pink icing. Add water slowly to icing sugar mixing thoroughly. When it's very nearly as runny as you want it (just runny enough to run over the top of your cakes) then add a few drops of the red food colouring. Take it slowly or you'll end up with something better suited to a Halloween cake!

Then simply spoon over your cakes and add some fun sweets or cherries to top them off!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Barm Brack

While this might sound like a recipe the current US president might enjoy, it's actually a traditional, yummy tea-bread.

We used to buy this during my childhood camping holidays to wales and Mum picked up a novelty postcard with this recipe on to recreate it... all these years later it's still a favourite!

You will need -
3/4 pint of cold tea
6oz soft brown sugar
12oz mixed dried fruit
12oz self raising flour
1 free range egg

Put the fruit and the sugar in a bowl and pour over 3/4 of a pink of cold tea (no milk!!). Cover and leave to soak overnight.

Beat the egg and add to the fruit mixture along with the flour. Mix well.

Bake in a 2lb loaf mould (mine's silicone!) at 180C for 1hr 45mins

Serve thinly sliced and buttered!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Not Many Cherries Cake

This cake came about when I had a good rummage through the baking shelf of my larder. I found some ground almonds and some glace cherries , left over from making my Christmas pud.
The result a cherry cake with not many cherries, that still tasted yummy!

What you need

A deep 7 inch cake tin greased and floured
Glace cherries- as many as you can lay your hands on! Preferably 5oz, I had only 2oz
8oz self raising flour
2oz ground almonds
1.5 level teaspoons baking powder
7oz butter or flora
7oz caster sugar
4 large eggs

Cut cherries into halves , rinse excess sugar off , and dry with kitchen towel
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, then add cherries.
Turn mixture into prepared tin, cook at 150 degrees for 50 mins-1 hr until well risen, golden and firm to touch.

Then cool,slice and enjoy!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Simple Soda Bread

Bread without a bread machine can be a bit of a labour of love and not least because it takes such a long time! So for a quick addition to your meal try this soda bread recipe. My mum used to often make this for my brother and I to go along with our dinner and The A-Team on a Saturday night!

You will need -
350g Plain white flour
175g Wholemeal Self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3 tsp of dried herbs 
300ml milk

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Add the milk and mix to a pliable dough.

Knead lightly on a floured surface. Form into a round shape and place onto a oiled baking sheet.

Use a knife to mark the top into quarters.

Bake for 30-40mins at 190C

Tear into 4 portions and eat with some butter or flora while still warm!

The bread is wonderfully herby and would be perfect with soup or even curry to soak up those last bits of liquid!