Friday 6 December 2013

Banana Blondies

David has been busy studying for his finals this past we just HAD to bake him something to celebrate the end of all the studying and worrying and stressing and writing and everything that comes with it.  It has been hard on all of us, but that's over now.

David is a certifiable CHOC-O-HOLIC.  Chocolate doesn't stand a chance in this house, once he sniffs it out. Originally I was going to make a devils food cake covered in a rich chocolate ganache...but then I thought about how I would most likely eat loads of it and how difficult a layer cake and icing can be with a small baby who refuses to nap.  Brownies seemed like the best option...chocolatey, gooey, and quick to throw together. 

Only problem...I didn't have cocoa, or dark chocolate

I did however, have all the ingredients for Dan Lepard's Banana Blondies minus the brazil nut toffee bit (milk chocolate chips always come in handy).

Blondies for my Blondie

These Blondies are surprisingly sweet, dare I say too sweet...well possibly too sweet for me, but not for Mr. Greedy Guts.  The banana flavour is strong, actually they taste a lot like banana bread.  I don't know if I would go through all the faff of making the brazil nut toffee next time (remember...small naps) but I do think a handful of chopped macadamia nuts would make them more luxurious (not that I can afford macadamia nuts).  

I like Blondies, I like these blondies...I'm thinking about adding them to my Christmas Eve menu with ice cream...

Thursday 28 November 2013

Milk and Cookies

I've not made cookies in ages.  Mostly because they take a while going back and forth to the oven putting tray after tray in to bake (not ideal with an infant), they use a lot of butter, and SOMEONE's got to the eat them all.  However, in the run up to Christmas I do like to rustle up a few batches of some family favourites to give out as gifts and to have in the house for visitors (oh and to leave out for SANTA obviously).  

This past weekend I made a small batch of Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They are an old family favourite.  The recipe in my recipe book was copied off the package of tollhouse chips yonks ago... it is conveniently now on the web for all to use (with or without legit Tollhouse chips.)

It is near impossible to find Nestle chocolate chips here in the UK so I've settled for Sainsburys own milk chocolate chips...I couldn't tell the difference after all these years.  I halved the recipe and made them slightly smaller than suggested (perfect for little hands) so managed to squeeze 3 dozen cookies out of the mixture.  

That was Sunday, yesterday I HAD TO make another batch...

Sunday 27 October 2013

Butternut Squash Cake...practicing for Christmas (eek I know)

I had a crazy dream the other night involving a pumpkin trifle...clearly I've got pumpkin everything on the brain.  This year "fall" has really hit me, I've happily tossed aside the salads and berries and have fully embraced squashes, apples and spices.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is my favourite time of year.  

So back to the pumpkin was a gorgeous trifle (not one of my favourite desserts) made with pumpkin cake and piled high with custard and was a vision.  Since that moment I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I did a few searches on line and have only seen pumpkin trifles made with pumpkin flavoured custard (actually jell-o pudding) so I've been wracking my brain trying to come up with a few ideas.  

I've been inspired by these jam jar trifles over on Frances Quinn (the winner of Great British Bake Off)'s website.  Individual portion trifles topped with crunchy biscuits and crushed nuts...they sound (and look) heavenly.  These are destined to be my Christmas Dessert.  They have to be...they easily replace the pumpkin pie with the pumpkin cake element and they have cream and custard and biscuits and I am pretty sure they are going to be awesome...

So over the past week I have been experimenting.  

I've adapted my banana bread recipe to make a spicy butternut squash cake.  I figured roasted mashed squash was about the same consistency as mashed banana...right? So out went the banana, in went some mashed roasted squash (squished in a sieve first to get rid of the extra moisture) and then I added ginger, cinnamon and all spice to the flour mix.  It baked really nicely, is slightly denser than the banana bread usually is, but it TASTES ammmmaaazing.  

Cake Layer...CHECK 
Custard Layer....will be using Ambrosia Devon Custard (I'm not making it when all I want it thick creamy custard) 
Cream Layer...easy peasy 
Jam progress...I'm thinking stewed apples with spices 
Topping... I've changed up my gingerbread biscuit recipe using light brown sugar and some added spices.  

My tummy is grumbling just thinking about it...sigh.  I spend enough time daydreaming about it.  

Thursday 24 October 2013

Peanut butter cups and a little pumpkin

I love peanut butter... FACT.  In fact I not only LOVE peanut butter I have become a bit of a peanut butter snob.  It is sad, it is horrible, but it is the disgusting truth.  I can't help myself, and every time I open my big fat peanut buttery mouth to spout off why I prefer smooth over crunchy and KRAFT above all other brands I feel a small part of me cringe.  I love it so much, but I rarely bake with it.  Mostly because peanut butter is pretty expensive here in the UK, and also because the jars are so darn dinky.  Seriously, it is near impossible to find anything larger than 500grams...I just can't bring myself to spend money on buying multiple jars of peanut butter to make cookies, or brownies or whatever.  Actually, when I think about it I am a little bit of a peanut butter hoarder.  My parents bring jars of Kraft over when they come a visit and I squirrel it away, rationing out each jar and slyly watching David out of the corner of my eye when he slathers it on his toast...tut tut.  

Anyway, I suppose MOTHERHOOD has softened me and I am more willing to share and indulge and...well...use my luscious, creamy, oh so delicious peanut butter to make something other than peanut butter and banana sandwiches and when Sue over at The View From Great Island shared a link on her facebook page for Homemade Peanut Butter Cups from the gorgeous Food52 I couldn't resist going out to the shops to buy milk chocolate and having a go.  

Reese Peanut Butter Cups are one of my all time favourite chocolate treats.  They are the one treat I would trade any amount of halloween candy for...they are my ultimate.  And now that I have tried making my own at home, I know that I can easily satisfy the cravings that always seem to appear at this time of year. 

I only made half the recipe (I wasn't about to sacrifice A CUP of my cherished Kraft PB) and it really did make plenty.  I used Kraft Smooth peanut butter and didn't add the extra salt suggested...oh and I used milk chocolate to make them as close to the real deal as possible.  BUT I would totally suggest making them with dark chocolate and the added salt flaked on top for a more adult treat...totally decadent! 

Happy Halloween xx

Monday 14 October 2013

Butternut Squash Tart for Thanksgiving

We were invited to a proper Canadian Thanksgiving feast this year ... some folks we met through our antenatal classes have had a Canadian friend visiting over the last week and she wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving ... and they invited us along.  I offered to bring the pumpkin pie (any excuse).  Unfortunately, life with a little monster means that sometimes plans have to be cancelled at the last minute.  After 2 very busy social days Lyra found it very difficult to nap at all yesterday morning and only finally closed her eyes after much protest 20 mins before we were supposed to leave the house for the party.  I could't face waking her up and getting ready and then walking to our friends' house ... so I had to cancel.  It was sad, but it is part of having a new-ish baby.  They understood ... 

And ... as they pointed out ... even though I was missing out on the turkey and trimmings at least I could still have pie! Thank goodness for that! I love pumpkin pie, I love the texture, I love the spices, I love the mountain of whipped cream plopped on top ... I love it all and while tinned pumpkin is becoming easier to find here in Edinburgh I still prefer to make it with butternut squash.  The flavour is slightly mellower, I think ... plus it is so easy (ok, not as easy as opening a tin...but still pretty easy).  

I like to buy a squash that is just over 1kg, I cut it in half length wise, scoop out the seeds, place it cut side down on a roasting tray and then roast untill super soft.  Then all I do is use a fork to scrape the flesh out of one half, mash it up a bit and let it cool while I get the rest of the filling/tart shell ready. 

I use a 2cm deep flan ring with a loose bottom and find that the flesh from half a squash is enough (it usually measures just over a cup of mashed squash).  It might not be a traditional pie plate, but I like the daintiness of the fluted edge when it comes out of the tin.  Yesterday I used shop bought pastry (did you read the bit about the new baby?) to make everything a bit easier, and it was.  

While the squash is cooling and the tart base is blind baking I mixed up 2 medium eggs, 50g of light brown sugar, 100ml evaporated milk, 60ml maple syrup (or golden), and some spices: 3/4tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp all spice, 1/4 tsp ginger, and a good grating of nutmeg...oh and pinch of salt.  Once the tart base was ready I blended the squash in with the rest of the filling, poured it into the base, topped with pastry maple leaves and baked at 150 for about 45 mins (until set).  

It really is so so so easy.  I've mashed up the other half of the squash and put it in the freezer for Christmas (if I can wait that long).  

Gobble Gobble Gobble 

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Empire Biscuits and takeout goodies from Dalkeith

Last week a friend of mine popped by for a visit and to cuddle Little Miss Perfect and brought us a whole bag full of baked goodies from The Wee Bakehouse in Dalkeith.  Brownies, tray bakes, soda bread and Empire biscuits.  Actually she brought one of each goodie and we cut them in half so that we could try a little bit of everything...except the Empire Biscuits.  She brought two of those.  She has a bit of a weakness when it comes to Empire Biscuits and...well...there was no way she was going to share (I don't blame her).  

This week Little Miss Perfect is 2 months old and because I am determined to celebrate every month with something sweet I thought I'd try my hand at making some Empire Biscuits. I used James Morton's recipe and it couldn't have been easier.  

I filled the biscuits with rhubarb and ginger jam and put a dollop of really thick icing on top, instead of completely covering them.  Of course I had to make mummy and mini sized, it wouldn't be fair if I didn't.  

Sunday 22 September 2013

Blueberry Lemon Drizzle Muffins

I am typing this with a sleeping baby attached to my chest.  I probably should be doing some laundry or  making the bed but when she's sleeping I like to do something for me...besides there is no telling how long she will sleep for... 

Wednesday morning Lyra and I whipped up a batch of Blueberry Lemon Drizzle Muffins.  Using my Quick Anytime Muffin recipe I added some lemon zest in with the wet ingredients and then, once baked and slightly cooled, slathered them with a lemony icing sugar topping.  

These muffins are great without the drizzle but sometimes I think it adds a little something special to jazz up my morning (or anytime) treats.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Macarons and some respite

My mum has come to stay with us for a month.  She is cooking and cleaning and cuddling and today she gave me some time to play with the macaron set she brought me.

I've never been brave enough to make macarons before. I am terrified of piping and I was under the impression that they were a real faff to make.  I'm not saying that every shell turned out perfectly, but for a first attempt I was really pleased with myself.  

The kit my mum brought  me is a silicone sheet that has little circles on it to help make the shells uniform.  It also comes with a fancy schmancy silicone piping set and a recipe book.  I had seen the set in some shops a while back and was skeptical, but I was actually really pleased with how everything worked out.  

I made vanilla macarons with a dark chocolate ganache filling. It took a while...luckily the baby sat happily in her bouncy chair in the kitchen while I finished off filling the shells...and in the end I have been converted.  Also, I had a pretty horrible macaron (made by a professional pastry chef) at an afternoon tea I went to last week so the fact that mine tasted and looked a billion times better has really boosted my confidence.  

Friday 9 August 2013

A Wee Scone

mama scone and baby scone 

I am so happy that I finally feel human enough to sit down and blog again...and I've even managed to get into the kitchen! That's right...our wee scone has finally arrived.

Just over 2 weeks ago we welcomed our gorgeous little girl into the world.  It was tough and we needed a few extra days in hospital, but we are home now and settled.  My mum has come to visit/help out for the next few weeks...allowing me time to close my eyes and also to bake (cinnamon and mixed fruit scones).  

I hope that it won't be too long before I get a chance to write again.  

Monday 22 July 2013

That Nesting bake

I seriously have not had an urge to "nest" over the last month...I mean sure everything is ready and washed and now just waiting...but I wasn't on my hands and knees cleaning the grout in the shower (that's what husbands are for).  The only strong urges I have had, recently, is to bake.  Last week I was hoping and praying that the muffins I whipped up would be the the final bake until the wee bairn arrived...but...nope.  I am now 6 days overdue and NEED baked goods in the house.  

To remedy both  my urge to bake, and my desire for homemade baked goods I decided to do something  a little bit crazy over the weekend...I made croissants...from scratch...with my own fair hands.

During one of my many hours watching Food Network over the past weeks Anna Olson dedicated a whole episode of her Bake programme to making croissants.  Having watched her make them step by step gave me the courage to actually make them at home!

I'm not sure why I have shied away from making croissants before (especially with my love for anything yeasty).  I mean legit patissiers must leave their dough to rest and proof for ages, something that might be a bit tedious for the home baker...but the recipe I followed gave the option to leave the dough to rise anywhere from 1-8 hours.

I started my dough around 6pm on Saturday and decided to leave it to rest for an hour between folds, leaving it overnight in the fridge for the final rest...before shaping it, leaving it to rest again, and then finally baking! 

I was really happy with the outcome.  I halved the recipe (although I could have easily devoured the 30 croissants the original recipe promised) so I'm not sure if my tinkering did anything to the quality of the dough.  They didn't rise as much as I would have liked, and probably could have done with a couple more minutes to really crisp up...but they are seriously buttery, flaky and delicious.  

As I type this the news is reporting that the Royal Baby is on its way...I'm a little bit jealous...but at least I've got croissants! 

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Over Due

I've been at a total loss for things to do the past few days...there are two things that I want to do, Bake and Have the Baby.  I really only have control over one of those things... 

Yesterday was D-Day, and seeing as I woke up feeling no different from the night before I decided to make the most of my "free" time and whipped up a batch of Banana Hazelnut Muffins.  Using my Quick Muffin Recipe I tossed in 2 mashed bananas with the wet ingredients and about 1/3 of a cup of chopped hazelnuts.  I also sprinkled some Demerara Sugar over the tops before baking...which crisped up nicely and then promptly melted in the heat of the kitchen.

I was going to freeze some of them to snack on once the baby arrives, but at this point I am far to greedy and, really, they are so easy that I'm sure I can squeeze a batch in at some point between feeding, changing, playing, napping, cleaning (she says naively).  

Monday 15 July 2013

Vegetable Cream Cheese

I've not been venturing far from the house these past couple of weeks.  Between the heat and my looming D-Day I haven't had the energy or the desire to do much of anything.  I've been watching a lot of The Food Network and slowly making my way though the entire Poirot discography...resulting in many a craving for pastries, art deco tea parties and frantically adjusting the symmetry in my living room. I don't have the energy to make eclairs or croissants...even though I'd happily sit down and stuff my face full of them, weep.  

On Friday (or was it Saturday?) The Barefoot Contessa whipped up a quick brunch for her and her you do...and I immediately started craving bagels and cream cheese.  Back in Canada, in my teens and twenties I used to love a trip to the bagel store to get fresh bagels and really thick and slightly tart cream cheese...siiigh 

Anyway, Ina made her publisher bagels with vegetable cream cheese and smoked salmon (drooool) and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it for...well...a day!  Luckily bagels and cream cheese were to hand (a pregnancy staple of mine) and with a little fine chopping I was well on my way to satisfying my craving.  

I mixed together half a container of plain soft cream cheese with a finely chopped small carrot, some spring onion, finely chopped cucumber, a handful of chopped coriander and salt and pepper.  Slathered very generously on toasted multi-grain bagels...this was HEAVEN.  

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Coffee Cake...quick, easy and oh so good

I love coffee know a single sponge layer covered with fruit and a streusel topping...but it isn't easy to find one here in the UK.  Thankfully, they are quick and easy to make and perfect for this *heatwave*. 

I rustled up a blueberry coffee cake this morning in less than 10 mins...although the baking took a while longer than I thought it would have (stupid oven...stupid seal...stupid stupid).  But in the end out it came just in time for a cup of coffee (decaff) with a friend from work.

The recipe is from my trusted Canadian Basics Cookbook.  I swapped out the vanilla for almond extract today (almonds and blueberries go so well together) and added a sprinkle of slivered almonds on top of the streusel for a little bit of crunch.  

There is a good chance this will the last cake I bake for a while, what with D-Day looming (one week) I am glad that it was a good one! 

Saturday 6 July 2013

BB salad

If you happen upon the July issue of Olive Magazine look up the recipe for Broad Bean and Barley Salad.  I made it for a pot luck dinner I went to last week and it was a big hit.  Broad beans, barley, goats cheese, radishes, mint and a lemony was perfection.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Slow Ferment

Still Baking This Bun

3 weeks left in the oven 

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Pear and Walnut Scones

When I was contacted by Fruitdrop a couple of weeks ago to see if I would like to try one of their fruit boxes I just couldn't wait to get creating (and devouring all the fruit of course...very good for the bump).  I knew I wanted to make some sort of scone, something that would come together easily...but that would be something a little bit different.  I didn't know what fruit I was going to receive so I had to wait and see.  

When I saw that there were pears in the fruit box I knew they were destined for the scone recipe.  These scones are sweet but could easily be savoury.  Pear and Walnut are a classic combination and add a subtle sweetness. I used my basic scone recipe (why mess with a good thing) and added chopped pear and's as easy as that.  

Pear and Walnut Scones


350g all purpose flour
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
113g cold butter, diced
1 egg
160ml buttermilk, milk, or single cream
90g pear, diced (not too ripe)
35g walnuts, roughly chopped

splash of milk and handful of Demerara Sugar for topping (optional)


PRE HEAT Oven to 220C

In a large bowl sift flour, baking powder, granulated sugar and salt.

Gently rub through butter until mixture resembles bread crumbs.

Toss through pear chunks and walnuts.

In a small bowl or measuring jug beat together egg and milk.  Add this to flour mixture and working quickly combine until the dough comes together.

Turn out onto lightly floured board and pat dough into a disc about 3/4 of an inch thick.

Cut out rounds (I use a 1.5inch cutter) and place on a lined baking sheet about an inch apart.

*Optional* Brush some milk (or an egg wash) over the top of each scone and generously sprinkle with Demerara Sugar.

Bake in preheated over 12-15 mins until golden on top and bottom.

Cool and enjoy.

These scones aren't overly sweet and taste great with a smear of butter and a slab of really mature cheddar.

Jazzing Up The Humble Banana Loaf

I was contacted a few weeks ago by a fruit box company to see if I'd be interested in trying a fruit box and developing a recipe (or two) for their blog.  I jumped at the chance...fruit delivered to my door...why not!? 

When we lived in Essex, David and I were part of a veg box scheme.  I loved receiving our fortnightly box and thinking up meals around whatever mystery vegetables arrived.  

This is slightly different.  Fruitdrop caters to businesses (their fruit boxes start at 50 pieces of fruit) and aren't really promoting locally sourced fruit.  They aim to inspire companies to provide healthy snacks for employees, thereby making those employees more happy, healthy, motivated and productive.  

I think it is a fabulous idea and if I worked for a private company I would totally be suggesting trialling these boxes.  You all know I am a sucker for a piece (ok hunk) of cake, but if a platter of fruit was sitting waiting in the staff room I would be equally as happy tucking into an orange.  

Our box was filled to the brim with satsumas, grapes, strawberries, plums, nectarines, apples, pears and bananas.  The soft fruit was eaten expected and a glut of bananas was left.  I had already thought about experimenting with a banana loaf recipe since most people have left over bananas and while banana loaf is the go to solution for them, it is sometimes nice to try something a little different.  

This upside down-ish banana loaf has a super sweet and sticky top (bottom?) and is very very easy to eat.  

Jazzy Banana Loaf 


For the base: 
1 perfectly ripe banana 
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar 
1 Tbsp butter

For the cake: 
350g plain flour 
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp bicarb of soda
2 largish overripe bananas
155g white sugar
160ml flavourless oil (vegetable or sunflower) 
2 eggs 


Pre-Heat oven to 160 C 
Grease a 2lb loaf tin 

Slice perfectly ripe banana into long slices, about 1/4 cm and arrange over the base of the loaf tin.  Sprinkle the dark brown sugar over the banana slices and dot with bits of butter.  Set aside. 

In a large bowl mash overripe bananas with a fork, add sugar and oil and mix until well combined. 

Add eggs one at a time and mix. 

In a separate bowl sift flour, baking powder, bicarb of soda and salt.  Add to banana mixture and stir until just combined.  

Pour over bananas in loaf tin. 

Bake 50-60 mins until golden and tester comes out clean.  

If you can force yourself to wait until the loaf is completely cooled it will slice better...if not enjoy it a little bit sloppy! 

Tuesday 28 May 2013

A Granola Breakfast Tart...that's right...Tart for Breakfast!

A few weekends ago some girlfriends from down south came up to visit.  It was an excuse to celebrate an upcoming wedding and also the arrival of my little monster.  The weather was horrible, but we made the most of it.  Luckily they had all been up before so I didn't feel the need to show them all the main touristy things...this visit was more relaxed and it basically revolved around food.  

Sunday morning I made them a lazy light breakfast, which centred around this gorgeous breakfast tart from The View From The Great Island.  A crunchy granola base topped with thick greek yoghurt and loads of fruit, it really is an excellent centre piece for a late, lazy breakfast. I made the granola base on Friday night and put the toppings on just before serving.  I wasn't as artistic or generous with the fruit as Sue was in her original post...but it was tasty nonetheless.  

There was a bit leftover, which I covered and ate the next day for breakfast.  Even though the granola was soft from the yoghurt it still tasted great! 

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Anniversary Cake

A colleague of David's hosted a little party for his parents' anniversary and asked if I would bake a cake.  Nothing fancy, just a sandwich sponge...something simple...was the info I was given.  I hummed and hawed over it for a while, and ended up making a lemon sponge filled with lemon curd and a lemony buttercream.  Topped with a ring of blueberries who could complain? 

The feedback was lovely...I just wish I had been able to have a bite myself!

Friday 10 May 2013

A Bundt for Charity

Did you know that if you eat cake for a good cause it is calorie free? Well it is...or so say those awesome peeps formerly known as the Edinburgh Cake Ladies and now known as the Edinburgh Bakers.  That's right...cake eaten for charity can only do you GOOD.  

This past week I joined a whole slew of keen bakers and eaters at the lovely Cafe Musa to raise a fork and some money for a local children's charity It's Good 2 Give.  Check out the official blog over at the Edinburgh Bakers website...drool over the pictures and congratulate them for a really fantastic event.  

Over 20 people pledged to bake a cake for the event and even more people pledged to eat those cakes (really hard promise to keep...)! When I pledged to bake ages ago I wasn't too sure what to still felt like the middle of winter and I wasn't sure if I would even feel up to baking what with the dinosaur growing in my tummy.  In the end I decided that I would bake an old family favourite, a Lemon Blueberry Cake.  

I love this cake.  It reminds me of summer and picking blueberries.  It is light and fresh and tastes great even after being in the fridge.  My mum makes this cake in a spring form ring pan...I don't have one of those.  I borrowed a bundt tin from a friend...made sure I greased it well and hoped and prayed for the best! 

Even though it had a few minor cracks a thick layer of lemony glaze rounded it off nicely.  You really can't go wrong with lemons and blueberries.  

Monday 29 April 2013

Baby Shower

I've been awake since 5:45 this morning...I don't know if it is baby related or the fact that the sun is shining through my rather thick curtains...either way...I'm up. Yesterday some friends threw me a lovely afternoon tea baby shower.  It was gorgeous...along the lines of the one we had before Christmas at my house...everyone brought something and we sat and chatted, ate, drank tea and whiled away the afternoon.  

The Spread, including my savoury platter with gougeres and artichoke bites

tomato and bacon tart 

cheese scones 

pea and asparagus flan 

the infamous MTB

banana cream pie

fruit scones with all the fixings

pear and ginger cake

mini cheesecakes with an Oreo and pretzel base

A truly lovely afternoon with some fantastic ladies and one of the cutest little men (3 month old Alfie) in all of Edinburgh.  

Friday 19 April 2013

Marshmallow Salad

This is one of those desserts that reminds me of long weekends in May and summer is one of my Grandma's signature dishes...and a firm family favourite.  A total doddle to throw together, it is more of an open packets and mix together kind of recipe than anything else.  

I call it Marshmallow Salad, I've heard it referred to as White Trash Salad...its proper name is Ambrosia  and hails from the Southern United States (apparently) so who knows how it came to be in my Grandma's repertoire.  All I know is it is comforting and ridiculously easy to eat.  

Basically the recipe goes something like this...drain a couple cans of fruit salad (preferably with extra cherries) and maybe a tin of mandarine oranges and some extra pineapple chunks.  Cover with a decent amount of sour cream, or in this case Creme Fraiche, sprinkle with sweetened coconut and 3 handfuls of mini marshmallows (or more).  Mix it all together and refrigerate until time to devour.  

Deliciously Trashy

Sunday 14 April 2013

Cheddar Cheese English Muffins

I can't stay away, and the purchase of a new camera (for baby snaps) means that I have been taking pictures of food again...which also means I have something new to share.  

On Friday a friend of mine told me that she was going to make some English Muffins over the weekend and even though I had just baked a batch of gooey cinnamon-y cream cheesy brownies I couldn't shake the feeling that I needed to make some too.  So, when I woke up Saturday morning I got down to the business of bread making.  

I've make English Muffins before using Dan Lepard's cider and yoghurt muffin recipe, which involves making a ferment the night before, and then bringing that to room temperature before making the dough and then proving, proving, proving...don't get me wrong, the muffins were excellent...but I just don't have the time for that. Instead, I turned to Delia's basic recipe and adapted it slightly.  

I used a combination of white and wholemeal bread flours (300g white to 150g wholemeal) and added a sprinkle more yeast and a couple extra Tbsps of milk to help the wholemeal along.  I also added a handful of grated extra mature cheddar to make these muffins a touch more savoury. 

I use my shallow cast iron casserole to cook my muffins...and I use the helps to keep the heat and moisture in the cooking area and I think it makes the muffins rise highhhher.  Like any homemade bread these muffins do take time, and patience...but well worth the wait! 

Saturday 23 March 2013

Brown Velvet...Red Velvet Au Natural

The last few months have been pretty hectic over here in urban housewife world...we've officially moved out of our gorgeous (but totally freezing) rented flat and into our very own home.  We've been busy painting and buying furniture and trying to get things settled.  I say we...but really David has been doing most of the work because I've been busy baking...a bun! Between the new house and expecting a baby and all the organisation and work that comes with that and...oh our regular lives...I've just not had much inspiration lately.  

I can't decide if I want to stop posting altogether, or just take a break...or what. For the time being, though, I thought I'd give you a little look at the first cake baked in our new home...

I called this ridiculously heavy to carry (although light and fluffy) 3 layer monster my Brown Velvet cake.  It is, in reality, a red velvet without the food colouring.  In all honestly I had intended to make a red velvet fact I had my heart (and the baby's) set on a gorgeous 3 layer vivid red cake completely smothered in cream cheese icing...until I got to the grocery store and there was no red food dye to be seen.  Perhaps better for the baby in the long run...all those E numbers in combination with the sugar. 

Regardless, the cake turned out great.  It is terrifying baking in a new oven.  I am not happy that this oven in fan assisted with no option to turn the fan off (it is fan or grill or nothing)...but I remembered that I had read somewhere about turning the oven down 20 degrees for fan ovens (unless the temperature is given in the recipe). With fingers crossed and lots of hovering by the oven door I watched this cake rise nicely and retain it's domed top (triumph!).  A great first attempt, but I am sure disaster is lurking somewhere in the near future.  

Because all my cook books are still packed away somewhere in the many boxes crowding what will eventually becoming the nursery I used this recipe from Red Magazine online.  I liked that it used buttermilk (essential in any red velvet) and was pretty close to the Hummingbird Bakery recipe I usually use.  The recipe makes 2 20cm cakes in proper springform cake tines...not sandwich tins, so the finished cake is gigantic.  I ended up dividing the batter between 1 20cm tin and a 6 hole cupcake tin and then cutting the cake into 3 layers and saving the 6 cupcakes for the hard working David.  

Essentially *just* a chocolate cake...but totally not. 

Until Next Time...

Saturday 16 February 2013

Quick Breakfast (or anytime) Muffins: Courgette and Sultana

Things are changing around here, and a lack of free time and the loss of my baking mojo has affected my a major way.  This morning, however, as we lay in bed and David listed off the to-do list I found myself day dreaming about Courgette and Sultana muffins.  I don't know where the idea came from, I just know it was right there in my consciousness taunting me.  Thankfully, the first thing on David's list was a 45 min run (for him) leaving me with plenty of time to dust off the muffin tins and whip up a batch of muffins. 

These muffins are so simple.  They take maybe...10 mins to mix together, and about 20-25 mins to bake.  The most difficult part is letting them cool completely before devouring...well you don't have to let them cool completely, but then you might find half of the muffin still clinging to the paper is up to you, really.  

I love muffins and have found it increasingly difficult to find a really good one shop bought muffin here in Edinburgh.  Perhaps I was spoilt for choice growing up in big town Canada...but really...a good, well risen, tasty muffin is no big feat. 

My breakfast (or anytime) muffins freeze well and I often freeze 6 or 8 from a batch to enjoy either for breakfast (defrosted on the counter the night before) or for lunch (normally fully defrosted by lunch time).  The original recipe comes from my well splattered Great Canadian Basics cookbook, which I have tweaked and added to over and over again.  The baking powder might seem like a lot, but the combination of brown and white flours need that extra oompf to really get a great rise.  

Quick Breakfast (or anytime) Muffins 

2 cups white flour (or 1 cup white, 3/4 cup brown, 1/4 wheat germ) 
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt 
1 dessert spoon baking powder
1 cup of your chosen flavour: blueberries, frozen berries, grated carrot, grated courgette, chocolate chips, sultanas (or a creative combination) 
2 eggs
1 cup milk (whatever you have) 
1/4 cup veg, sunflower or rapeseed oil 

Pre Heat oven to 200C
Line 12 hole standard muffin tin

Mix flour, sugar, salt, baking powder in large bowl
*add 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp all spice if using carrots, courgettes or sultanas*
In separate bowl combine eggs, milk and oil
Add wet ingredients to dry and fold in.
Gently fold through your chosen fruit/veg

Fill muffin cases 3/4 of the way to the top of case (about 2 TBSP) and bake on middle shelf of oven for 20-25 mins or until tester comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack and devour.

If you find the mix is very dry (could happen if you use wheat germ and brown flour because they absorb liquid quickly) add a splash more milk, or orange juice. 

Today I added about 1/3 of a cup of sultanas with 1 cup of grated courgette and then topped the muffins with a sprinkle of slivered almonds before popping them in the oven.  

What other flavours could I try? 

Sunday 27 January 2013

Banana Loaf...guilt free snacking

Bananas rarely go brown in our house.  We buy a couple of kilos every 10 days or so...and they are devoured quickly.  Last week I snuck a couple from the bowl and let the ripen in secret, in preparation for the baking of a banana loaf this weekend.  

I've got 2 recipes that I swear from my Nonna, the other a family favourite from the Beatrix Potter Cookbook.  Squirrel Nutkin's Banana Nut Loaf is perfect.  The recipe offers an option between using all white flour, or a mixture of white, whole wheat, wheat germ and oatmeal.  I love this loaf made with all white flour, it is dense and nutty and slices really well...oh and is AMAZING slathered with butter.  

I didn't have enough white flour in the cupboard so I went with the flour, wheat germ, oatmeal combination.  The oatmeal gives the loaf a completely different texture, and in combination with the wheat germ makes it seem somewhat healthier.  

Jam packed with walnuts and sultanas it makes for an excellent guilt-free snacking loaf...well until slathered with Nutella, that is.  

Friday 4 January 2013

2013 is here...a chunky cullen skink to ease us into January

After a cold, dreary and snotty December I am so happy to have made it through to 2013.  Sadly December was full of an extreme head cold and a huge lack of motivation.  The run up to Christmas did not involve its usual hype and flurry of baking, quite the opposite actually.  The big day, however, was amazing...spent with the in-laws...and before I knew it we were ringing in the new year and it was back to work for poor David.  

While 2013 is going to be an adventure of a year for us (5 weddings to attend, house hunting, my parents visiting for 3 months, a trip to Madrid, a visit to Canada and hopefully a return to University for moi) the first couple of weeks of a new year always seem daunting and that "back to work" feeling just gets me down.  I've planned our meals over the next couple of weeks to combat the blues...lots of starch (mashed potatoes in abundance) and a few more meat dishes than usual (pork chops, sausages, TACOS, chicken thighs) and while most people are detoxing I am planning on seeking comfort with Nigel Slater, my hot water bottle and a BBC drama or two. 

While grocery shopping I, on whim, picked up some smoked haddock (skinless, boneless and yes...dyed...I'm not made of money) thinking I'd make some fish cakes or something.  Yesterday after David left for work (poor guy) I took the fish out of the freezer and all of a sudden had a craving for a really thick, chunky chowder.  Something creamy, smokey and filling.  

I didn't follow a recipe, I just sort of winged it.  I knew what I wanted the finished product to look like (and taste like) so...fingers crossed...I just followed my gut (or stomach in this case).  I poached 350g of smoked haddock in 700ml of milk (with a bay leaf and a bunch of parsley stalks) and then removed the fish from the milk to cool, and discarded the bay leaf and parsley stalks.  In a big saucepan I sauteed half an onion, finely chopped, and a small leek thinly cut into half rounds.  Once softened I added about  4 medium white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes, and then the poaching milk.  I simmered that until the potatoes were soft and then added the fish in chunks and a whole heap of chopped parsley.  Served with crusty bread slathered with butter it was perfectly chunky, thick and delicious. 

I am back at work next week...

Happy 2013!