Sunday, October 30, 2011


This month's Random Recipe Challenge was "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours", whereby Dom paired us up and another blogger gets to choose the recipe we'll cook (have a look at Dom's instructions, it's too difficult to explain!!!).

I was incredibly lucky to be allocated Lou, from Please Do Not Feed the Animals, a seriously wonderful blog.  Lou is the sort of person that I think I shouldn't like (she has a highly satisfying career, is an outstanding baker, has a husband who cooks up a storm, her kids could grace any add campaign, they are beyond gorgeous) but jealousy aside, she is a pure pet!  On top of all those wonderful attributes Lou is also Physic - well how else do you explain a woman from Scotland choosing what I'm sure is the only haggis recipe in my whole collection - yes you read correctly - Haggis!!!!!

Lou did offer to post me over some haggis (see what I mean, such a nice person) but I thought I'd seen some in M&S and reckoned I'd have no problem - ha, it's impossible to source haggis in Ireland.  I decided to go ahead with the recipe anyway and  I reckoned that black pudding would make a good substitute (with deepest apologies to all the haggis fans out there!!), so I went ahead and cooked "Haggis, potato, bacon and apple fry-up" without the haggis.

I should have mentioned before now that my chosen book was The Really Helpful Cookbook by Ruth Watson, this is actually an excellent book - but this recipe is obviously a filler - I'd guess that she made a dinner from left-overs the night before she submitted the book and had to throw an extra recipe in there, and in it went!  If some evening you have some left over haggis (or black pudding) and potatoes in the fridge, with some bacon in there too and some apples in the fruit bowl - you could try this, otherwise I wouldn't bother.

There is no point in giving you the recipe - you just fry up some onions, garlic, potatoes (black pudding if using) in some olive oil and add some crisp apple for the last two minutes - serve with some haggis (if you have some) - easy as that. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I have been looking forward to this month's We Should Cocoa challenge - each month I have willed Choclette or Chele to nominate chilli as the companion in our monthly chocolate challenge, and it's come - and what did I do?  I chickened out - and just used Lindt Chilli Chocolate. I didn't risk chopping up some hot, hot, hot chilli and mixing it in there - I'm such a wuss!!!!

That said these mini chocolate pots, from Catherine Fulvio's wonderful book Catherine's Family Kitchen were delicious - I used chilli chocolate instead of the plain and omitted the Baileys Irish Cream (something told me that chilli and Baileys might not be the best combination possible!!!!)  The chilli chocolate gave a very slight kick to the back of your mouth - subtle and simply yummy.

Mini Chocolate Pots
adapted from Catherine Fulvio's Family Kitchen

100g        chilli chocolate
50g          butter
1              egg
1              egg yolk
2 tbsp       caster sugar
1 tbsp       ground almonds

Preheat oven to 180 C
Butter 4  or 5 espresso cups

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water
In another bowl whisk the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy
Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture
Add in the almonds
Pour the mixture into the prepared cups (up to 3/4 level) and pop into the oven
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes - they still need to be gooey in the middle.
Serve - but be careful not to burn your tongue!!

Friday, October 21, 2011


Over at the delicious What Kate Baked, Kate has challenged us to bake something tasty for her Autumnal Baking Challenge - and the fruit that screams Autumn to me are blackberries, those delicious fruits that shout "pick me, pick me" as I try to maintain some pace on my  (occasional) morning walks - I'm ashamed to tell you how many times I give up on the idea of exercise and sucumb to the call of the purple orb (actually to the call of the tart/crumble/jam that will be their final destination!!).

I came home this morning with the last of the blackberries (only a few shrivelled specimens left on the bushes now) and found Lilly Higgins' new book Make Bake Love waiting for me - I have been following Lilly's blog Stuff I Make Bake Love for ages (do take a look, you'll love it) - and what could I do but combine the morning's haul and make something from the book using my precious berries.

There are many delicious recipes to choose from (I'll do a review soon - no problem finding recipes everyone will love!) but I alighted on her Blueberry Muffins - and even if I say it myself (!) it was a great decision - the muffins are light in texture but are brim full of flavour, and the blackberries were a fantastic replacement for the blueberries.

Blackberry Muffins

225g       plain flour
1 tbsp     baking powder
75g         Demerara Sugar (I used more as the blackberries were quite sharp)
1             large egg
150ml     milk
40ml       sunflower oil
1 tsp       vanilla extract
150g       blackberries

Preheat oven to 190 C
Fill a muffin tin with 12 paper cases (I actually got 11 good sized muffins from the mix)

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
Pour the milk, oil, vanilla extract into a jug, add the egg and whisk.
Pour this mixture into the flour and mix gently, remember lumps are good!
Gently fold in the blackberries.
Divide the mixture between the paper cases and pop into the preheated oven.
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until golden and risen, and a skewer comes out clean.
Remove the muffins from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


The Cake Slice Bakers have a new book, it is The Cake Book by Tish Boyle, and it is wonderful - I can't wait to get my teeth into it (literally!), some really interesting recipes in there, along with  new versions of old favourites.

This month's recipe is perfectly seasonal, and offered the ideal recipe to use up the last of the apples from my mother's trees - they went to a good home, this cake is delicious, brim full of spices.  I'm not the biggest fan of cooked apple, when you can have crisp, crunchy and fresh apple why would you choose to have soft, sweet and tangy apple - that's not making a great argument is it? 

I had to abandon the recommended Cream Cheese Maple Frosting when my cream cheese didn't pass muster - I went back to the drawing board and just added some maple syrup to some sieved icing sugar - it matched perfectly.

Apple Cake with Maple Frosting

1 1/2 cups (181g)     plain flour
1 tsp                         baking powder
1 tsp                         ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp                      ground ginger
1/4 tsp                      ground cloves
1/4 tsp                      bread (bicarbonate of) soda
1/4 tsp                      salt
1/2 cup (113g)          softened butter
1 cup (217g)             light brown sugar
1 tsp                         vanilla extract
2                               large eggs
2/3 cup (160ml)        buttermilk
2 cups (120g)            peeled and chopped (1/2 inch pieces) Granny Smith apple (about 2 apples)
1/2 cup  (57g)           coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F)
Grease bottom and sides of a 9" square baking tin, and dust with flour.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, cannamon, cloves, ginger, bread soda and salt together in a medium bowl - set aside.
Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer beat the butter at a medium speed until creamy.
Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and creamy.
Add the vanilla extract and then the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition - remembering to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions - mix well until blended.
Stir in the apples and nuts and combine by hand.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake for  25 - 30 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean.
Cool the cake completely in the tin on a wire rack.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Eureka! I've found it, I've found the perfect chocolate cake recipe!  It's delicious, it's impressive and it's way, way less work than it looks, and did I mention it's delicious?

Two layers of chocolate sponge, two layers of creamy white chocolate and a layer of creamy dark chocolate topped by a thick layer of milk chocolate ganache - heaven in a slice.

The cake itself is just a normal chocolate sponge which you slice in two (easier than baking two seperate sponges), next drizzle over some syrup and then you melt white chocolate in one bowl, dark chocolate in another - add cream to both, slap them on cover with a simple ganache - bish bash bosh - cake perfection!

Triple-Layer Chocolate Truffle Cake
from the wonderful Avoca Cafe Cookbook 2


4             small eggs (I used 3 large)
100g       caster sugar
75g         self-raising flour
25g         cocoa


75ml        milk
20ml        brandy
20ml        honey

Chocolate Layers

225g         white chocolate
300ml        double cream

110g          dark chocolate
300ml        double cream

75ml         cream
350g         milk chocolate

Preheat oven to 180 C
Butter and line a 23cm springform cake tin

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until thick and pale
Sieve the flour and cocoa and fold into the egg mixture.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.


Put the milk, brandy and honey in a small pan and heat gently.

Assembly (first step)

When the sponge has cooled, remove it from the tin.
Line the tin with cling film (use plenty)
Cut the sponge in two across its depth
Place half the cake back in the lined tin and brush with the syrup


Melt the white chocolate with 50ml of cream in a pan over simmering water.
In another bowl melt the dark chocolate with 50ml of cream.
Allow to cool slightly.
Whip 250ml double cream and add the melted white chocolate mixture.
Whip the other 250ml cream and add the dark chocolate.

Assembly (part two!)

Spread half the white chocolate on the sponge in the tin.
Follow with the dark chocolate mixture.
Finish with the other half of the white chocolate mixture.
Brush the other half of the sponge with the syrup and place on top.
Cover the cake with the cling film and place in the fridge to set overnight.

To Finish

Combine the milk chocolate and cream and heat gently to melt the chocolate.
Remove the cake from the tin and spread the chocolate ganache over the top and sides.

Sit back and wait for the praise!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


The P.R. fairies must know that I need some cheering up, as I recieved a number of exciting packages over that past few weeks - Catherine Fulvio's new book (loving it so far), some yummy Skooby Dooby Doo sweeties (had to fight the kids to get near them!!) and a beautiful baking kit from Avon.

The "Avon Breast Cancer Crusade Baking Set", is part of Avon's fund raising for Breast Cancer charities, it is such a fun way to gather money for a cause that is very dear to my heart, that I am really pleased to encourage you all to participate.  The pretty kits are available from Avon representatives or online here.  The reason I am so enthusiastic about this crusade is that so many people we know recieve the dreaded diagnosis of cancer, yet so many of them come through to lead full and happy lives - how can we resist putting our hands in our pockets for such a worthy cause.  My mother has had two battles with breast cancer, and while it was not an easy time, it is just a memory now - and how much better is it to have memories of a cancer battle rather than memories of a loved one?

When I gathered all of my magazine cuttings and scribbled recipes in order to choose this months Belleau Kitchen Random Recipe Challenge I was feeling all enthusiastic - for once I was guarenteed a recipe that I'd just love - I wouldn't have cut out the recipes otherwise - right?????  Well actually I had forgotten that mid diet I often cut out recipes that promise fantastic flavours with hardly any fat/sugar, but which usually are all promise and no delivery!  Well, of course it was one of these pages that emerged from my stash - but as you know I am an honest person (!) so that is what I baked.  And I have to say "Thanks Dom" because there is no way I would have baked these little cupcakes other than because I was challenged to do so, and they are lovely - moist texture and tasty (although next time I'll add extra cocoa powder).

The light cupcakes were the perfect opportunity to use the sweet little silicone cupcake holders which come in the Avon kit (along with a pink ribbon and a heart shaped cookie cutter), and then it occured to me that I could send off a half batch of the cakes to my friends sister, who is currently undergoing chemo for breast cancer.  How perfectly whole and fitting is that?  I know that when Mum was going through her treatment she found it very difficult to be enthusiastic about food, but sometimes a little something sweet would be enough to get her through - so I hope that the cupcakes I sent over were of some small help.  Vanessa over at Prepped (she has just published a cook book - it's at the top of my wish list, looks fantastic) has decided to continue with her wonderful, heartwarming challenge Random Bakes of Kindness and these little confections are my offering - I hope it's not too cheeky to submit one lot of baking to two challenges!!!!

If you are watching the scales, I would recommend these cupcakes - they aren't huge, but they are full of flavour and I think one (or maybe two!) would be enough to keep you on the straight and narrow! 

Raspberry and Chocolate Cupcakes
from a Slimming World recipe

2              eggs
6 tbsp       caster sugar
1oz/28g    low fat margarine* (I used LowLow)
2oz/57g    self raising flour - sifted
1.5 tbsp    cocoa powder - sifted
1 tsp         vanilla extract
32            fresh raspberries **

Preheat oven to 180 C
Prepare 8 cupcake cases

Whisk the eggs, sugar and margarine* until pale and creamy.
Add the vanilla extract.
Fold in the flour and cocoa powder gently.
Place 3 raspberries** in the base of each paper/silicone cupcake holder.
Divide the cake mixture over the raspberries.
Bake 15-20 minutes until firm and springy to the touch.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

* This is the first time that I've used margarine in baking and it was fine - if you don't have any in the house I'm sure butter would work just as well and at only 28g it couldn't do too much harm to the diet!!

** I used frozen raspberries and while the cupcakes were delicious I think they would be even better had I used fresh.