October 20, 2013

Teatime Scones

teatime in England is immensely satisfying and altogether a simple way to warm the cockles of one's heart. The traditional scone is a staple in any Afternoon Tea; piled high with raspberry jam and clotted cream, served warm and freshly baked from the oven. 

With the awful British weather continuing, I decided that the only thing to make would be a delightful comfort food that only takes 10-15 minutes to bake and can put a smile on someone's face.

Put your feet up, read the Sunday papers and grab a cup of tea to make your afternoon tea that little bit more enjoyable..

I used Nigella's recipe for Lily's Scones, which I have found to be one of the best recipes yet. 


October 14, 2013

Salted Caramel Millionaire's Shortbread

requests were coming in thick and fast for a caramel shortbread that beat those in Pret, Eat and Cafe Nero. Demand was high and I only had one baking tray, meaning from this point forth, I may have to start bulk buying baking equipment to satisfy the needs of the sugar crazy.

This three layer delight of pretty much pure sugar was one of the best recipes I have found. The caramel set thick and gooey, the chocolate cut without splintering and the shortbread had that "je ne sais quoi" about it that meant it was melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness.

Half the batch was shipped to Leeds to delight three wonderful people, a quarter traveled into central London on the tube to find its way to the lips of colleagues and the rest was simply a home delight.

I used a cocktail stick to weave a white chocolate swirl on top and added extra salt to complement the sickly sweetness. Why not make a banana caramel and turn them into Banoffee Millionaire's Shortbread or peanuts to add another texture into the mix.


September 29, 2013

Sticky Toffee Traybake with Salted Caramel Sauce

salted caramel sauce has become my new obsession. Like Nutella, you could probably eat spoonfuls of it straight from the jar. I made an easy traybake of sticky toffee pudding that contained dark brown sugars and dates to add variety. 

I then piped a chocolate icing over the top and served warm with thick caramel and cream. This came out more like a spongey brownie than the gloopy, syrup drenched puddings you might be used to finding. A little lighter in texture and not so cavity-inducing, it was a perfect alternative to keep everyone happy.


Super Chocolatey Ice Heart Biscuits

iced biscuits not only look too good to eat, but give you the chance to play around with colours and techniques; to let your creative streak run a little wild. Although it is time-consuming and requires quite a bit of patience, I had many of the family begging me for a go at icing their own biscuits. As it happens, not all baked quite so perfectly, which meant they could get stuck in!

I made these for the one and only Prunelle Grise to say Joyeux Anniversaire in more ways than one. I must admit, it was a difficult feat trying to keep them in the box...


Street Dancing Gingerbread Men

Des bonhommes en pain d'epice ├ętaient absolument mmmm! I have finally found my one and only, absolutely scrumptious, tantalisingly mouth-watering gingerbread recipe. This dough has both ginger and cinnamon, whilst the mixed spice adds a little twist to any standard recipe.

I made these gingerbread men for a little boy's 11th birthday. The theme for his party was "street dancing" so I gave each man a baseball cap and sneakers. Stick a collared shirt on them and finish up with some bright pants (not trousers - that is far too English). 

Place each one in clear cellophane bags, seal or tie up with ribbon and then hand out as a treat at the end of the party. Voila!


Plum Cake Crumble

plum crumble could not go a-miss with the hundreds of plums we picked last weekend from our plum tree, which sadly snapped from the weight of the plums. Yes, there were that many. I used wholewheat flour and no sugar in the mix to awaken the taste buds to the flavours of frangipane instead. 

Sprinkle with a little demerara sugar and flaked almonds before whacking it in the oven and only take it out once it's golden brown on top. Mix up one pint of custard and drizzle a little extra cream on top for a warming finish to a Sunday roast.


August 27, 2013

Salted Caramel Blondies

being a "blondie" myself, I embarked on an ever so sweet and sticky mission to bake a batch of blondies to eat. I've always wanted to use salted caramel in something and here I was presented with the perfect opportunity. A gooey glaze of salted caramel peanuts and a springy spongy cake to envelop it came initially from a recipe that Prunelle Grise made one day when I was round. The recipe came from a gorgeous French book titled Un Gouter a Londres

Why not buy it and try your hand at some francais at the same time? 


August 18, 2013

Honey & Walnut Loaf

last weekend, I went to a wedding and stayed in a very cosy B&B where the owners were bee-keepers. Having sampled their own home-made honey for breakfast, this weekend I wanted to bake something simply sweet, so I chose a Honey & Walnut Loaf.

Still warm from the oven, I served this up after a Sunday roast with dollops of whipped vanilla cream - the perfect end to a truly relaxing weekend.

I substituted caster sugar for soft dark brown sugar to give the cake a caramel flavour. Give it a go yourself and mix in light brown or muscavado sugar instead. Pecans are also a great alternative to walnuts. 


August 11, 2013

Strawberry Tart

strawberries are a classic British fruit to be eaten on a hot summer day; both refreshing and juicy, they can be whipped up with cream, meringues or in this case, a creme patissiere. Pour une jolie femme francaise, j'ai fait cette gaterie pour son anniversaire aujourd'hui. C'est une surprise merveilleuse! 

Make a sweet pastry and add in some almonds for flavouring, then whisk up your creme patissiere (perfect for those that aren't over keen on cream!) and top with the very best strawberries you can find! 


August 05, 2013

Spiced Bundt Cake

inspired by the window display of The Cafe Royal at the bottom of Regent's Street of bundt cakes in all shapes and sizes, I altered a spiced pound cake recipe to make my own.

Delicious with an afternoon cup of tea, this bundt cake is both moist and has a slight crunch to the outer edge. I added lemon zest instead of extract, 100ml of yoghurt instead of milk and missed out the cloves..


July 21, 2013

Blueberry & Peach Crumble Ice Cream

i scream for ice cream, we all scream for ice cream. At the first ray of sunshine breaking through British clouds, the whimsical tune of an ice cream van will have children screaming for lollies of all sorts and throwing tantrums when they are declined a 99 flake. 

And even into your twenties, thirties and beyond, the mention of ice cream on a hot summer day will take you back to your childhood, when the melting trickle of sweet cream goes running down your hand only to leave you with sticky fingers that no amount of wet wipes can get rid of. 

I took this 31C opportunity to make my own, with a fantastic recipe from Debbie Major. I also especially wanted to photograph my petites cuilleres en bois along with a delightfully crotcheted basket that was given to me by the exceptionally talented blogger Prunelle Grise

Embrace summer and make as many flavours as you desire. Serve in cones, with wafers or in retro stripey tubs and make the most of the scorching weather before the rain returns.

Use this basic recipe and your imagination to add whatever extras you see fit!


July 20, 2013

Chocolate & Orange Sables

decadent cocoa nibs and crunchy hazelnuts make these sables irresistible. For a more bitter (and less guilty) bite of the biscuit, use 70% dark chocolate when you dip, rather than milk. The orange zest gives them a perky pick-me-up, whilst the variety of textures compliment each other perfectly. As for ingredients, you can find cocoa nibs in most health-food stores and online.

Time for a cuppa..


July 10, 2013

Orange, Almond & Yoghurt Loaf

believe me, this is the best teatime loaf I have ever tasted. Simple, quick and easy to make, it is the perfect afternoon treat! Putting a tiny dollop of yoghurt in the sponge keeps it moist and rich, whilst the orange zest gives it a tang and livens things up.

I took this to our summer street party, where I won the cake competition, judged by a lovely lady who owns a cafe where I live. Who would have thought something so simple could be so utterly delicious. In her own words "this loaf would be just perfect with a cup of Earl Grey tea". Enjoy. 


Intense Chocolate Loaf

indulge in chocolatey goodness with this dark, moist and delightfully rich chocolate loaf. Grab yourself a glass of milk and a plate to scoff the evidence before it's too late. I like this plain but you could add in some chocolate chunks or nuts if you fancy. 

Make yours like this:


Honey & Almond Madeleines

only the best birthday present was handed over to me at the end of May...un moule a gateau pour les petites madeleines. I have been wanting to make these moist, sweet, buttery treats for such a long time, so finally, it was a real pleasure to give it my first (and best) attempt!

With a spoonful of honey (ok, 2 teaspoons to be exact), a scattering of ground almonds and the zesty peel of a lemon, they were packaged up fresh from the oven and only shipped to Monsieur Lemon Cake in Belgium. 

A couple of sneaky nibblers managed to steal a few before they were popped in the post. Seems like a 12-hole tin just wasn't enough...


May 27, 2013

Shortbread Triangles

this has to be, by far, the best shortbread recipe I have come across. I'm sure it would come as no surprise when I tell you that this bake comes from Mary Berry.

And who better to make this for than my own Grandma, whose 83rd birthday it is on Wednesday. Nostalgic visits to her house are made up of buttery lightness, sealed tightly in her 1940s biscuit tin. Who would have thought memories could taste that good?!

Try Mary Berry's Very Best Shortbread and you will have silence for the best part of 5 minutes.


Honeycomb Crunch Bars

sweet crunchy honeycomb can be so moreish, your sweet tooth won't know the difference between this bubbly, melt-in-the-mouth candy and a lump of sugar. 

Grab a pack of digestives and some raisins (at least then you feel it's almost healthy...!), a few bars of milk chocolate, golden syrup, butter and some soft brown sugar. Mix it all together and Bob's your Uncle! Complete and utter yumminess in a bar...


Brownie Roll-Out Cookies

everyone loves a good brownie, but sometimes there's no fun in making the same old thing over and over. I took this chocolatey recipe from Smitten Kitchen, packed these up and popped them in the post to surprise someone at the other end.

These are no ordinary biscuits - these taste just like brownies, only smaller and with slightly more bite. Yet, they still manage to cling on to that squidgy chew you crave from a decadent chocolate brownie. Win win. 


March 31, 2013

cinnamon and hazelnut buns

sunday easter mornings are for lounging around in toasty pyjamas, with mugs of earl grey tea in clasped hands and sunday papers sprawled across the breakfast table. what a way to start the day with warm cinnamon hazelnut buns, freshly baked and iced with a sweet cream cheese glaze...

grab a plate and take a moment to savour the soft sweet dough, whilst sipping on your mug of tea and enjoying the laid-back lifestyle the weekend should bring.

these are the scrummiest things i've tasted for a while. have a go yourself and see how many iced fingers reach for another...


easter nest chocolate cupcakes

easter is the ultimate time to bake a whole host of wonderful surprises. This recipe is great for little fingers' first attempt at baking. Make the birds nests with shredded wheat and melted chocolate, then form into rounds and place 3 sugared eggs inside. 

Top your fail-safe chocolate cupcake recipe with these nests using only the most indulgent chocolate buttercream icing and serve immediately.

The easter bunny will be happy you've given him the day off!


March 30, 2013

love buns

nigella has a saying when making these delectable treats: in another time I'd have been satisfied with calling these Valentine's Day buns but, as the saying goes, if you're going to get wet, you may as well go swimming.

You couldn't ask for more. Whip these up until the icing is a shiny, sticky mass; a mountain of stiff peaks, gleaming like a Mr. Whippy ice cream with a plasticky sheen. So tempting, you won't take your eyes off them.

The recipe can be found here.


buttercream lemon cake

indulge in a sweet, but zesty lemon cake. This is no drizzle cake. This is a full-on lemon buttercream layer cake. A firm favourite with lots of people I know, my lemon cakes are regularly requested. However, sometimes you just want to mix things up and try something new.

What could be more satisfying than sitting down with a cup of tea and a slice of this light and moreish cake? The answer = nothing. 


 valentine's jammy dodgers

surprise your loved one with a simple twist on an old classic - the jammy dodger. These creamy, snow scattered biscuits are an absolute delight to demolish. I have made this recipe before and adapted it with all-new cutters and a sprinkle of icing sugar...

Have a go yourself >>


February 10, 2013

jaffa cakes

full moon, half moon, total eclipse...jaffa cakes are rapidly scoffed in the office so therefore I decided to embark on a jaffa cake production line to satisfy the orange-jelly-lovers needs. 

They are simply too easy to eat and when homemade, I doubt they'll even last as long the packets that are devoured at work. 

This recipe is quick, simple and easy, so bake away to your heart's content!!


January 29, 2013

cranberry and hazelnut cinnamon buns

perfect for a midweek morning, the smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns will not only make mouths water, but no doubt tickle the taste buds too. For a little swing on the original, I've added dried cranberries and a generous sprinkling of chopped, roasted hazelnuts to liven the flavours. 

Wakey wakey, rise and shine! 


lemon traybake

what could be a better way than to start the day with some homemade lemon traybake?! Drizzled icing and lovely light sponge...only sent First Class by Royal Mail to my wonderful sister (and the occupants of Hessle Towers)! I used Mary Berry's classic reipe from her most beautiful book the Baking Bible.

See how her baking bible hands work here:


January 27, 2013

  apple and four berry crumble

classic desserts always go down a treat and a good crumble cannot go a-miss. Use frozen berries and sliced apple, then layer your favourite crumble topping over the juicy fruits, baking until golden. I love Delia Smith's traditional crumble recipe and served this straight up with some homemade custard. The best way to finish off a Sunday roast!


baby galettes

what should you make with left over puff pastry? More Galettes des Rois! This time only smaller and even more delicate than before. Someone from my household had three (yes, three...though I shall not name names) slices of the large one and so I therefore felt it appropriate to satisfy their need with even more yumminess...

Tuck in!


January 21, 2013

marmalade and almond loaf

sundays are for lazing around and enjoying a good breakfast with a mug of Earl Grey tea. Baking may just about come second to that (almost!) but here I have combined my love of yummy breakfast marmalade with that of a deliciously moist almond loaf.

Bake it gently and serve it with your finest cuppa. The perfect excuse to get out of bed! 


January 06, 2013

galette des rois

seeing as i adore the French culture, I decided to embark on my first ever puff pastry making experiment by celebrating the feast of Epiphany, which is a special day in France on the 6th January every year. Named after the three kings, Galette des Rois literally means "King's Cake" (not so exciting en anglais..) 

Using a simple frangipane almond paste sandwiched between two round layers of beautiful puff pastry, a dried or ceramic bean is usually hidden within the frangipane for someone to find later on. Whoever gets the slice with the bean in it is named King (or Queen) for the day. 

In France, you can now buy all sorts of decorative figurines to place inside this delicate galette. Just make sure you warn everyone to watch out for something hard, otherwise you may spend Sunday afternoon in A&E or at the dentist. 

I made my own puff pastry for this, though you can use a good-quality shop bought ready-made puff instead. 

Find the recipe in Richard Bertinet's book Pastry.


christmas rocky road

christmas is the ideal season to make an indulgent rocky road, either to give away as a gift to those you love or as a small chocolatey treat on those cold winter evenings. This recipe is from our one and only domestic goddess Nigella Lawson. Just make sure you don't let anyone allergic to nuts near these (or omit the nuts and replace with something else!). 

See how Nigella works her magic here (with a few personal alterations of my own!), then cut into perfect bite-size squares...


lemon & poppy seed loaf

a very popular request from my favourite Belgian, I decided to add poppy seeds to this loaf to change things up a bit! Easy to bake, I used a loaf tin rather than a bundt tin (which is what the recipe calls for). Choose whichever method you desire below.


traditional gingerbread men

gingerbread men seem to be a popular choice around the months of October and December. These cuties are made with a standard gingerbread recipe. A few tubes of Smarties and some icing adds character and yumminess! Use a fine paintbrush and some black food colouring to dot the eyes.


halloween gingerbread men

what could be more deliciously scary than a gingerbread man covered in iced bones....the perfect treat for little ones, this will make trick-or-treating that extra bit special. Use your favourite gingerbread recipe and then pipe the icing on once cooled.