August 31, 2015

Boozy Mascarpone Marble Cake

rainy days are for staying inside, curled up on the sofa with homemade cake and a cup of tea in hand whilst you enjoy your favourite novel or classic movie on the set. Blankets are highly recommended but cosy jumpers and oversized scarfs will do just fine and a dash of warming liqueur would slip down quite nicely too in fact. The rain last night was relentless, battering the window panes and hammering upon the roof so loud that the usual delicate pitter-patter that would so occasionally soothe me to sleep was long forgotten in my startled slumber. Not to mention the fuse blowing so I was creeping around in candlelight, toes cold numb on the tiled floors. I'd like to think that this was quite exciting, however ensuring that the contents of your fridge-freezer were still edible by morning (mainly for a highly-coveted cake creation) was a feat in itself. 

However, we made it through the storm and so over peanut butter on toast (of course!), I pulled out my stash of baking books to inspire today's bake. Carrot cake, hummingbird cake, walnut loaf, banana bread; I just didn't feel like any of it and besides in this weather, tea was an essential requirement to pep me up. Earl grey tea and honey loaf - perfect, except you had to soak the tea and honey overnight for which I did not have time for (this bake will happen soon though)! So I came across a recipe that fit the bill but that I fancied alternating just slightly to make it that little more exciting for a bank holiday Monday. 

It had been an absolute age since I last made a marble cake and although I went for the traditional "chocolate and vanilla" batter mix, a slip of the hand and in fell the Baileys...whoops! So here's my take on what I like to call my "Boozy Mascarpone Marble Cake". Adding mascarpone gives the batter a rich and indulgent flavour that you'll need on a day like today. I'd give it a whirl if I were you.


August 29, 2015

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies with Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunks
dreams are made of peanut butter, salted caramel and chocolate. Marshmallows and candy floss can take a day off - they are overrated anyway. I had wanted to make these refined sugar and gluten free cookies for so long, I thought the day may never come. The quest for falling upon the ultimate organic salted caramel chocolate was, well, near impossible here in the UK and so I trawled the internet, the likes of Holland & Barratt, Planet Organic, Wholefoods, independent delicatessens and raided cupboards in sheer desperation for the holy grail of raw sweet goodness. And eventually, when I came across something remotely similar to what the recipe called for, I pounced.

Now, I feel like I'm cheating you if I tell you these are "healthy". Though the recipe calls for sugar-substitutes, we are still using chocolate, albeit containing high-quality cacao and organically certified ingredients. So even though these are the better-for-your-belly alternative to your regular Dairy Milk, remember that willpower is required to prevent you from scoffing the lot. Really? Us? Eat the lot? Ha!

Recently, I fell off the exercise/healthy-eating band wagon and I feel awful for it. But I think I full on face-planted for these cookies. It's going to take me a while to pick myself off the floor, let's be honest here. Three of my favourite things jumbled into one mouthful of yum, how could i say no? They take next to no time to make, you just need to take a trip to your local wholefoods store for a few kitchen-cupboard basics. You'll pay a little extra for some of the refined ingredients, but believe me, they will last you! 

So, what are you waiting for? 


August 24, 2015

Peanut Butter

spread the love! I'm talking the love for peanut butter; that delicious i-could-eat-you-absolutely-anywhere spread. The please-don't-compare-me-to-marmite sort of spread. I mean, how could you when it's entirely irresistible?! AND there is absolutely nothing to hate whatsoever!? 

I recently asked my Dad to purchase some peanut butter in the weekly shop and was shocked to discover that he had committed the number one crime, an absolute sin to peanut butter lovers. He bought Sunpat. GASP. Yes, with all those E numbers and artificial flavourings. How could he... Now, I have to say I'm rather picky when it comes to my peanut butter, but who in their right mind would eat Sunpat on toast?

If you're going to eat peanut butter, you have to do it right. Peanuts and salt. That's literally it. An American told me just that in fact and we have been sharing recommendations across our desks at work for the last nine months now. At 4pm daily, the waft of peanuts fills the office from our desks and we have a banana and rice cakes at the ready to fuel our bodies for our evening gym sessions. Packed with protein, peanut butter is a hidden gem. However, it is also packed with saturated fat so moderation is key! Difficult I know when this stuff is addictive. 

This recipe is a slight variation on peanuts and salt but I like to think of it as an indulgence rather than an everyday afternoon snack. Save it for the weekends, when, as you throw open the garden doors and have your newspaper tucked under one arm, you can enjoy the last of the summer whilst eating your toast and peanut butter. Pure and utter satisfaction.


August 10, 2015

Cherry, Almond and Yoghurt-Topped Toast

just when you thought breakfast couldn't get any better, along came the crème de la crème of weekend delectables... with a cherry on top (literally)! I kid you not, this was DIVINE. Sacrificing my much-loved working week breakfast favourite of yoghurt, blueberries, honey and almonds, I constructed something so glossy and irresistible that many wouldn't dare combine: toast and yoghurt. Toast and yoghurt? Yes, that's right - an entirely odd (yet entirely delicious) amalgamation of what should, in most people's minds, be two separate morning dishes.

When I was younger, one of my favourite books was The Very Hungry Caterpillar. A classic children's novel, I know. And that caterpillar ate everything. "On Saturday, he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon." (Carle, Eric. 1969. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. UK: Hamish Hamilton.) Now I may not have eaten as much as him, but if the very hungry caterpillar liked cherries, then I was sure I would too. Trips to the local grocers became ever more frequent as I begged my parents to buy two, then four, then six pounds of cherries on each subsequent outing, most of the bag disappearing before we'd even reached the front door. 

So when once again, we had cherries in the house, I made sure I enjoyed them as best possible. Admittedly, pitting them took a while but it made that breakfast so mouth-watering it was worth waiting for. Stick a slice of wholegrain granary bread into the toaster and toast until it's browned evenly, then stand in a toast rack until cool. This is one of my best tips for crunchy toast, otherwise it ends up soggy on your plate from the condensation. Once cool, spread Greek yoghurt on top, throw over your pitted, halved fresh cherries, drizzle with honey and scatter with toasted flaked almonds. Grab yourself your morning coffee and you're set for the day.