Wholemeal Cob Loaf

Hi, I’m so excited. I have a secret to share with you. 100% wholemeal bread that’s not heavy! My Wholemeal Cob Loaf is delicious, nutritious and so tasty – oh and did I mention it’s not heavy, like some 100% wholemeal loaves can be.

Wholemeal Cob Loaf - a gorgeous crust and delicious taste.
Wholemeal Cob Loaf – a gorgeous crust and delicious taste.

 

The trick, I’ve found, to make a Wholemeal Cob Loaf that ISN’T dense, is to triple prove the dough. This is most definitely a loaf that cannot be rushed. But hey, it’s not like you have to do anything while it’s proving! It’s very happy to be left alone!!! Also I used my bread maker to mix, prove, knock-back, prove etc. All I had to do was shape the final loaf. But it could easily be made by hand, with kneading and knocking back adding only a few extra minutes. Trust me it’s so worth it!

Wholemeal Cob Loaf - cutting through the top creates more crunchy crust.
Wholemeal Cob Loaf – cutting through the top creates more crunchy crust.

This Wholemeal Cob Loaf delivers massively on flavour. A deep flavoursome loaf that is part of a sandwich or toast, not just a medium for the topping or filling. Being 100% wholemeal ensures each slice is loaded with fibre and being homemade there are no artificial additives. A great tasting loaf that’s good for you. I also prefer to bake with Organic flour, so my loaf is as wholesome as it can be!

Lunch - as slice of Wholemeal Cob Loaf with Avocado, sliced Tomatoes and Strong Cheddar - delish!
Lunch – as slice of Wholemeal Cob Loaf with Avocado, sliced Tomatoes and Strong Cheddar – delish!

 

Recipe : Makes 2 Medium Wholemeal Cob Loaves (or 1 large)

450g/1lb Wholemeal Bread Flour

2tsp/1 x 7g Sachet Dried Yeast

1tbs Honey

300-350ml Water

1tsp Salt – or 1.5 tsp Maldon Sea Salt

1tbsp Butter or Olive Oil

Method : Given for bread maker/Stand mixer with dough hook.

Pour 300ml warm (body temp) water into the bowl. Add the honey and yeast. Swish around with clean fingers to mix.

Add the flour on top of the liquid mixture.

Next add the salt and butter/oil.

Set the bread maker to mix and prove the dough – the mixing cycle should last at least 10 minutes.

For a stand mixer switch on to a low/medium speed and mix for 15 minutes.In both cases check the dough, if the machne is labouring and the dough doesn’t seem soft, or it looks dry, add more water, 15ml at a time, until the dough is pliable and soft (no cracks).

The weather and flour can both influence how much water is needed. With wholemeal flour I would always err on the side of a slightly wetter dough, you don’t want to have dry bread!

With the stand mixer, after mixing place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film. When doubled in size return dough to the mixer bowl and mix again fo 15 minutes. Repeat proving and mixing process once more (total 3 proves,  3 mixes/knock backs).

If using a bread machine once the dough has been proved once, repeat the mixing (which will knock bake the dough) twice more.

Utimately this dough needs to be proved 3 times – trust me it’s worth it.

The third prove is the final prove, this is where you shape the dough.

Tip the knocked back dough onto an oiled baking sheet. Form into a round.

If baking one loaf, cover in oiled cling film and leave to double in size away from drafts.

 

For 2 loaves cut the dough in half.
For 2 loaves cut the dough in half.
Rotate the dough on the baking sheet to form a tight ball.
Rotate the dough on the baking sheet to form a tight ball.
Cut three lines through each loaf - this is optional, but does give a better crust.
Cut three lines through each loaf – this is optional, but does give a better crust.
Cover with oiled cling film - this stops the loaves socking and drying out during their final prove. Leave to prove until doubled in size.
Cover with oiled cling film – this stops the loaves sticking and drying out during their final prove. Leave to prove until doubled in size.
15 minutes before your loaves are ready, preheat your oven to it's highest setting.
15 minutes before your loaves are ready, preheat your oven to it’s highest setting

 

Preheat your oven to its highest setting 230C/gas mark 8

If you have a water sprayer (I keep one especially for bread), once the cling film is removed, spray the loaves and the inside of your oven as you put the loaves in. If not place a tin of hot water in the bottom of the oven whilst you are preheating it. The steam not only helps the dough to rise more fully before it sets, it also helps create a lovely, crisp crust.

Bake for 15-20 minutes (longer if you are baking one large loaf 30 minutes). The loaves are baked when they have a deep golden crust and sound hollow when rapped on the bottom with your knuckle. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Gorgeous, golden, healthy, Wholemeal Cob Loaf
Gorgeous, golden, healthy, Wholemeal Cob Loaf.

 

I made 2 loaves and gave one to my mum. We were both really impressed with the flavour, texture and lightness of this bread.

This is without doubt the best 100% Wholemeal bread I’ve ever made, possibly ever tasted. I used Bacheldre Organic Wholemeal Bread flour.

Please let me know if you make this bread?

Also do you use your bread maker to do the hard work and then finish the loaves off in the oven, or is it just me??

if you enjoyed making this recipe how about trying these:

Wholemeal Loaf

Farmhouse White Loaf

Sammie x

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Blueberry Banana Superfood Smoothies

Hello lovely people, thank you for stopping by to read my blog. I really do appreciate each and everyone of you. So I thought I’d share my latest Summer cool down drink with you – Blueberry Banana Superfood Smoothies. A fabulously tasty way of recharging your system.

Blueberry Banana Superfood Smoothies - that gorgeous colour is enough to make you smile.
Blueberry Banana Superfood Smoothies – that gorgeous colour is enough to make you smile.

 

Why Superfoods? Blueberries are full of antioxidants and are known to be good for your nervous system and brain. Bananas are high in Vitamin C, fibre and can help regulate blood sugar levels. They can also help with mood enhancement. These fruits have many other positive affects on the body, especially when eaten raw, which is how they are in the Blueberry Banana Superfood Smoothies.

Blueberry Banana Superfood Smoothies - cool, delicious and gorgeous.
Blueberry Banana Superfood Smoothies – cool, delicious and gorgeous.

 

If you’re craving something sweet, as I was and don’t want to dive into a tub of chocolate ice cream, then these Blueberry Banana Superfood Smoothies will fix that craving and do your body good at the same time. Yes there is ice cream and whole milk in this recipe, you can totally switch this recipe up and use frozen low fat yoghurt and skimmed milk. The bananas will still give the smoothie a creamy taste.

So good for you - time to slurp up one of these Blueberry Banana Superfood Smoothies!
So good for you – time to slurp up one of these Blueberry Banana Superfood Smoothies!

 

I was actually really surprised that these smoothies didn’t need extra sweetening, considering the amount of blueberries added. Sometimes blueberries can be a but tart, but the sweetness of the bananas offsets this, leaving the perfect balance. I’ve used frozen blueberries but fresh are fine. To keep the cold in the smoothie just break the bananas up, pop in a bag and freeze.

Using bought frozen fruits keeps the cost down and gives them a longer use-by date. However, I have raspberries growing in our garden and if we have loads I would definitely put them in smoothies. Just do whatever works for you! We’re pretty chilled about things like that, bit like the smoothies!!!!!

Recipe :

400g/14oz Frozen Blueberries

3 Large Ripe Bananas

250ml Whole Milk

4 Large Scoops Vanilla Ice Cream – approx 1/2pint – 300ml

Method :

Peel the bananas, break into pieces and add to a liquidiser. Add the frozen blueberries, ice cream and milk.

Time to whizz up the ingredients.
Time to whizz up the ingredients.
Look at THAT colour! If the mixture is too thick add more milk. Whizz up and then pour.
Look at THAT colour! If the mixture is too thick add more milk. Whizz up and then pour.
Aah Blueberry Banana Superfood Smoothies - sip, relax and chill x
Aah Blueberry Banana Superfood Smoothies – sip, relax and chill x

 

I really hope you try this smoothie. Relax, chill out and know those Blueberries and Bananas are doing you good on the inside.

Let me know if you switch up the fruit combo and how it turns out.

Obviously I’d like you too try this one first, but hey it’s Summer, I’m chilled with your choices.

Also Raspberry Banana Ice Cream Smoothies

 

Sammie x

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Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake

Hello lovelies, if you’ve got the Monday, back to work blues, or just fancy cake, then I have the ultimate solution, my Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake.

Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake - light and moist.
Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake – light and moist.

 

This Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake is so beautiful thanks to the Bundt tin moulding and the delicious topping of chocolate and toasted hazelnuts. It is so easy to make and delicious to eat!

Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake - delicious!
Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake – delicious!

 

Making this cake was only my second attempt at using a Bundt tin. I gotta tell you, I love them!!! The beautiful moulding of the finished cake makes it look way more professional than I could take credit for. I also made sure I used a skewer to check the cake was cooked through (something I never normally do). The only potential problem with using a Bundt tin, is that it’s hard to specify a size, for example if I’m baking a cake in a regular cake tin I can give you it’s dimensions, with a Bundt tin that’s not possible. It’s all curved and moulded, with a hole in the middle!!! Fortunately the tin I used had a 6 cup measurement mark on the outside. So I just kinda winged it with the ingredient quantities and prayed for the best – and it worked!

Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake - what's not to like?
Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake – what’s not to like?

 

Recipe :

175g/6oz Caster Sugar

175g/6oz Unsalted Butter – room temp

Pinch of Salt

1tsp Vanilla Extract

3 Large Eggs – free range if poss

100g/4oz Blanched Hazelnuts

100g/4oz Plain White Flour

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

3 tbsp Cocoa Powder

50ml/2fl oz Whole Milk

150g Milk Chocolate – I used Green&Blacks

Method : Preheat oven to 180C/165C fan

Thoroughly grease the Bundt tin with butter.
Thoroughly grease the Bundt tin with butter.
In a bowl thoroughly whisk/beat the sugar, salt and butter, until light and creamy.
In a bowl thoroughly whisk/beat the sugar, salt and butter, until light and creamy.

 

Take half of the hazelnuts and process/chop them until they are very fine – similar to ground almonds.

Into the bowl add the eggs, chopped hazelnuts and sift in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
Into the bowl add the eggs, chopped hazelnuts,milk and sift in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
Whisk/beat until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Whisk/beat until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

 

Using a rubber spatula give the cake batter a couple of good stirs to ensure all the ingredients, especially at the bottom of the bowl, are combined.

Fill the Bundt tin with the cake batter, smoothing out the surface.
Fill the Bundt tin with the cake batter, smoothing out the surface.

 

Place the Bundt tin in the centre of the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. The cake is cooked when an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Once cooked remove the cake from the oven.

Allow the Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake to cool in the tin for 10 mins.
Allow the Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake to cool in the tin for 10 mins.
Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake - soo pretty!
Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake – soo pretty!

 

Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Lightly chop the remaining hazelnuts and dry roast them, on a baking sheet for 5 minutes, after removing the cake from the oven. Remove and allow to cool.

To decorate the cake :

Break up the milk chocolate and melt either over a double boiler or in a microwave.
Break up the milk chocolate and melt either over a double boiler or in a microwave.
Remove the chocolate before it has fully melted and continually stir, allowing the residual heat to melt all of the chocolate.
Remove the chocolate before it has fully melted and continually stir, allowing the residual heat to melt all of the chocolate.
Pour the melted chocolate around the top of the cake. The chocolate will naturally flow down the sides and into the middle of the cake - yum!
Pour the melted chocolate around the top of the cake. The chocolate will naturally flow down the sides and into the middle of the cake – yum!
Milk chocolate topped Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake.
Milk chocolate topped Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake.

 

Next sprinkle the toasted chopped hazelnuts over the top of the cake. Now all you have to wait for is the chocolate to set – enough time to pop the kettle on, phone a friend and get ready to dive in and enjoy!!

Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake - slices into portions perfectly.
Chocolate Hazelnut Bundt Cake – slices into portions perfectly.

 

I really am so pleased with this cake, it’s scrumptious and easy – what more could you ask for??

Do you know a way of measuring Bundt Tins??

Sammie x

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Super Light Scones

Hi there, I hope wherever you are the sun is shining on you today. Here in Kent it is beautifully sunny, with a light breeze. Perfect Summer weather. In fact it inspired me to bake Super Light Scones for breakfast this morning.

Super Light Scones with Strawberries, Strawberry Jan and Clotted Cream.
Super Light Scones with Strawberries, Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream.

 

I don’t make a habit of making scones every morning – in fact, as a general rule I don’t like scones!! Well at least the heavy, dense prepackaged ones from the supermarket. I don’t know why, they’re just not my thing. But, it’s Summer and scones with clotted cream and jam are a MUST! Oh and the clotted cream has to be Rodda’s from Cornwall!

Super Light Scones, super easy to make and even easier to eat with a dollop of Rodda's clotted cream!
Super Light Scones, super easy to make and even easier to eat with a dollop of Rodda’s clotted cream!

 

This probably sounds crazy, but I trawled through at least 8 cookbooks this morning, as well as looking online, but I just couldn’t find a recipe I was happy with. So I came up with my own!! And it worked!! I watch enough Food Network UK to have picked up some tips along the way and the Green Goddess (my friend, but unbiased taste tester) gave them the thumbs up – although she would have preferred them a little sweeter. Just trying to keep it honest round here!!

Super Light Scones - the quintessential British cream tea.
Super Light Scones – the quintessential British cream tea.

 

I had these Super Light Scones for my breakfast. They are soooo light with soft flaky layers inside. I didn’t even use a knife to cut them open, they pulled beautifully apart. I now like scones – these ones!!

 

Super Light Scones - so light they just pull apart. Delicious!
Super Light Scones – so light they just pull apart. Delicious!

 

If you are not in the UK and wish to have the British cream tea experience, but can’t get hold of clotted cream, Mascapone would make a good substitute. Or book a holiday to the UK and stay in Dorset, Devon or Cornwall – cream tea’s are readily available, although, I admit, it’s probably a long way to come for a cup of English tea and a cream scone – or maybe not??

Super Light Scones - a very proper English Cream Tea - delish!
Super Light Scones – a very proper English Cream Tea – delish!

Recipe : Makes Approx 20 Super Light Scones

450g/1lb Plain White Flour

3tsp Baking Powder

1/4tsp Salt

50g/2oz Cold Unsalted Butter

25g/1oz Vegetable Shortening

2tbsp Caster Sugar

250mls/9fl oz Cold Whole Milk

3tbsp Milk – for brushing on top of scones

Method : Preheat oven to 220C/200C fan

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the butter and shortening, use a pastry cutter, or your fingers to work the fat into the flour.
Add the butter and shortening, use a pastry cutter, or your fingers to work the fat into the flour.
Small pea sized lumps of fat should be present in the mixture.
Small pea sized lumps of fat should be present in the mixture.

 

Add the sugar and stir through to mix. Make a well in the middle of the mixture, pour in the milk and stir together using a butter knife (ordinary eating knife).

Stir until the mixture just comes together.
Stir until the mixture just comes together.
Tip the scone dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
Tip the scone dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
Bring the dough together with your hands. Gently pat the dough out to approx 2.5cm thickness. The less you handle the dough the lighter the scones will be.
Bring the dough together with your hands. Gently pat the dough out to approx 2.5cm thickness. The less you handle the dough the lighter the scones will be.

 

Using a straight sided, floured, 2 inch deep cutter, press straight down through the scone dough. Do not twist the cookie cutter as you press down as this will affect the rise on your scones. Cut out as many scones as possible then collect the pieces of dough together, pat out and cut out more scones until the dough is used up.

Place the cut out scones onto a non stick baking sheet, or line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Place the cut out scones onto a non stick baking sheet, or line a baking tray with parchment paper.

 

Lightly brush the top of each scone with milk. Try to avoid the milk dripping down the side of the scone - as this affects the rise of the scone.
Lightly brush the top of each scone with milk. Try to avoid the milk dripping down the side of the scone – as this affects the rise of the scone.

 

Place your scones into the oven and bake for 12-14 minutes. They are cooked when well risen and lightly golden in colour. Once cooked remove from the oven and transfer the scones to a baking rack to cool.

Delicious Super Light Scones - cooling!
Delicious Super Light Scones – cooling!

 

Once cooled, split in half and slather on your favourite jam. For added indulgence add a dollop of clotted cream and some sliced fruit. Enjoy with a refreshing cup of tea.

These are a great treat and perfect for Fathers Day – you could use a larger cutter, just add a couple of minutes onto the baking time.

Most Dads just want to know they are loved. Making or baking them a gift is such a personal way to say I LOVE YOU.

What jam and fruit combo do you like with your scones?

Sammie x

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Quiche Lorraine

Hi there, I was bestowed a great honour from my Mummy yesterday, who is herself, the best Quiche maker, ever – in my opinion. On seeing my Quiche Lorraine she said “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.

Quiche Lorraine - approved by mum!
Quiche Lorraine – approved by mum!

 

I used a combination of bacon and lardons (cos that’s what I had in the freezer & I’m trying to clear it out). So you get lovely chunks as well as pieces of delicious smoked bacon throughout the Quiche. Leftover cooked Gammon at Christmas, or indeed any other time of the year, works fabulously well in this Quiche Lorraine. Just chop into chunks and use in place of the bacon, the beauty being no pre-cooking is required!

Quiche Lorraine - delicious with baby new potatoes and salad!
Quiche Lorraine – delicious!

 

Sooo I made the pastry for this Quiche myself, but, umm, well let’s just say, I’m gonna leave that for another post. Which I know doesn’t help you, as you need pastry for this recipe. I’m sorry. Really I am. Either use your go-to shortcrust pastry recipe, or buy it!! Just know you’ll need 450g/1lb. I promise I will post my recipe ASAP.

Quiche Lorraine - scrummy with salad and a jacket potato.
Quiche Lorraine – scrummy with salad and a jacket potato.

 

Quiche Lorraine is also perfect, portable, picnic food. It’s Summer and one of the best parts, when it’s warm and the sun is shining, is to gather together with family and friends and eat al fresco! The beach, park, even hanging out in someone’s garden, everyone pitching in with the food and drink, sharing. Such the  best times.

Recipe : Makes 1 x 25cm/10″  Quiche Lorraine

450g/1lb Shortcrust Pastry

8 Large Eggs

125ml/4.5fl oz Whole Milk

300g/11oz Smoked Bacon/Lardons – cooked and cooled on kitchen paper

175g/6oz Sharp Cheddar – grated

1/2tsp Ground Black Pepper

Method : Preheat oven to 200C/185C fan.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to approx 16″ across. This will ensure it fits easily inside the Quiche tin, without stretching.

If using a ceramic dish, grease thoroughly with butter before lining with pastry. For tins I don’t find it necessary, but grease if you’re worried about the pastry sticking.

Transfer the pastry by rolling it around the rolling pin and then carefully unrolling over the Quiche tin.
Transfer the pastry by rolling it around the rolling pin and then carefully unrolling over the Quiche tin.

 

I always place my quiche tin on a baking sheet. Gently press the pastry into the sides and bottom of the tin. Then using the rolling pin, roll it over the top of the tin. This creates a clean finish to the pastry. If using a ceramic dish, neatly trim off the excess pastry with a knife.

Nice neat pastry finish.
Nice neat pastry finish.

 

Next doc the pastry at the bottom of the tin with a fork. This will stop the pastry from rising up when baked.

Place parchment paper onto the pastry and fill with baking beans or ceramic balls. These keep the pastry from collapsing during the blind baking.
Place parchment paper onto the pastry and fill with baking beans or ceramic balls. These keep the pastry from collapsing during the blind baking.

 

Place the quiche tin into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and discard the parchment paper and baking beans. Return to the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

The pastry case is now part baked. This ensures the egg mixture will not seep into the pastry. The quiche will have a crisp bottom, when fully cooked.
The pastry case is now part baked. This ensures the egg mixture will not seep into the pastry. The quiche will have a crisp bottom, when fully cooked.
Whilst the pastry case is cooling gather the other ingredients together.
Whilst the pastry case is cooling gather the other ingredients together.

 

Add a good grinding of black pepper to the eggs and milk, then whisk together.

Sprinkle the cooked bacon evenly over the pastry base.
Sprinkle the cooked bacon evenly over the pastry base.
Then do the same with the grated cheese.
Then do the same with the grated cheese.

Slowly pour the egg mixture into the centre of the quiche, making sure that it doesn't flow over the top of the pastry.

Slowly pour the egg mixture into the centre of the quiche, ensuring it doesn’t flow over the edge if the pastry.

Reduce the oven temp by 10C. Place the Quiche Lorraine in the oven and bake for 20-25 mins until set and golden. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Quiche Lorraine - golden, bacon and cheese quiche. Utterly delicious.
Quiche Lorraine – golden, bacon and cheese quiche. Utterly delicious.

 

This Quiche is so versatile. It can be packed up for lunch, a picnic, or as part of a meal with an endless choice of sides.

Where is your favourite place for a picnic?

Sammie x

 

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Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars

Hi and thank you for dropping by. I have a delightful treat for you today, my – Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars.

Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars - totally delicious!
Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars – totally delicious!

 

The other day I spotted a jar of Lemon Curd (unopened) in the cupboard. My brain started whirring with all the possibilities of how I could incorporate the Lemon Curd into my next bake. I didn’t fancy making pastry, let’s be honest, sometimes it seems like too much effort – even though it is really easy – anyhow, wasn’t feeling the pastry thing. Then I thought about a cake, but that wasn’t doing it for me either, I must’ve been having a funny day? Then I thought shortbread. But not as a biscuit, as a base. Yippee, I was finally getting somewhere. Everything good so far, shortbread base, slathered with lemon curd and then oats. Wasn’t quite sure how I was going to use them in the topping, just knew I needed oats – and that’s how these Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars were born!

Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars - these did not last long in our house!
Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars – these did not last long in our house!

 

With the oat topping I decided to keep back a quarter of the shortbread dough and then crumble with the oats and pray that it would work – am not joking. It did! Although in all honesty, the bars were quite crumbly when I cut them up. Next time I would leave the whole tray bake intact, for at least a few hours, or even better overnight. The Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars had firmed up beautifully by the next day.

Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars - shortbread covered in lemon curd, then topped with oat crumble.
Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars – shortbread covered in lemon curd, then topped with oat crumble.

 

Recipe : Makes 12 bars

225g/8oz Unsalted Butter – room temp

150g/5oz Caster Sugar

1/4tsp Salt

1tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Large Egg Yolk – room temp

275g/10oz Plain White Flour

310g/11oz Jar Lemon Curd

175g/6oz Rolled Oats – not quick cook

Method : Preheat oven to 185C/170C fan

Butter and line with parchment paper a 30cm x 20cm (12″ x 8″) at least 4cm (1.5″) deep tin.

Into a large bowl whisk the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract, whisk until fully incorporated.

Next add the flour and stir with a spoon until just combined.

This is how your shortbread dough should look.
This is how your shortbread dough should look.

 

Reserve a quarter of the shortbread dough (for the topping).

Using the remaining shortbread dough, press lightly into the pan, so it forms an even layer.
Using the remaining shortbread dough, press lightly into the tin, so it forms an even layer.

 

Pop the tin into the oven for 10 minutes. This will form a light crust on, but not fully cook, the shortbread. After 10 minutes remove from the oven.

Immediately start spooning the Lemon Curd over the shortbread base
Immediately start spooning the Lemon Curd over the shortbread base.
Cover the entire shortbread base, just inside the edge.
Cover the entire shortbread base, just inside the edge.

 

Set to one side whilst you make the oat topping.

Add the oats to the remaining shortbread dough.
Add the oats to the remaining shortbread dough.
Using your fingers rub the buttery shortbread dough through the oats until you have an even crumble mix.
Using your fingers rub the buttery shortbread dough through the oats until you have an even crumble mix.
Starting at one corner sprinkle the oat crumble topping...
Starting at one corner sprinkle the oat crumble topping…
...until the entire top is covered. Very gently press down on the topping to slightly compact it.
…until the entire top is covered. Very gently press down on the topping to slightly compact it.

 

Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the oat topping is golden in colour, then remove from oven.

Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars - allow to cool completely in the pan.
Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars – allow to cool completely in the tin.

 

Once completely cooled, cut lengthways down the middle of the bake. Then cut into bars. Remove and store in an airtight container.

Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars - pre-cooking the shortbread layer ensures it is cooked through with a lovely golden bottom.
Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars – pre-cooking the shortbread layer ensures it is cooked through with a lovely golden bottom.

 

I really cannot emphasise how gorgeous these Oat Topped Lemon Bars are. The buttery shortbread, topped with good, tangy, lemon curd and then the crunch from the oat crumble topping.

Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars - it's a layer thing - it just works in THE most delicious way!
Oat Topped Lemon Shortbread Bars – it’s a layer thing – it just works in THE most delicious way!

 

Everyone who has tried these has loved them! That’s definitely a winner in my book (or blog!!!).

Perfect for sharing!

Please let me know what you think?

Sammie x

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Raspberry Banana Ice Cream Smoothies

Hi, it’s Friday – YAY. I have the perfect, cooling down drink, especially if you are  under exam pressure in hot weather. Or just fancy a delicious, fruit packed drink at the end of a long week. Let me introduce you to my Raspberry Banana Ice Cream Smoothies!

Raspberry Banana Ice Cream Smoothies - the perfect way to cool down in a hot day.
Raspberry Banana Ice Cream Smoothies – the perfect way to cool down on a hot day.

 

Only 4 ingredients are needed to make this yummy, thick, ice cream smoothie. I made these for us last night, after the children had finished another long, hot day, at school, sitting exams. They absolutely loved them, as did I – obviously I have to check what I make just to ensure it tastes good/won’t poison them/cos I wanted to!!!!!

Raspberry Banana Ice Cream Smoothies - pretty, pink, cool, drink!
Raspberry Banana Ice Cream Smoothies – pretty, pink, cool, drink!i

 

This ice cream smoothie is the perfect treat during a long day of revision, after returning home from school or the office – any reason to celebrate Friday!!!

Now let’s get on with how to make this luscious smoothie!

This Raspberry Banana Ice Cream Smoothie may just be my favourite flavour yet!
This Raspberry Banana Ice Cream Smoothie may just be my favourite flavour yet!

Recipe : Makes 4 Large Smoothies

3 Ripe Bananas

300g/11oz Frozen Raspberries

500ml/1 pint Vanilla Ice Cream

250ml/1/2 pint Milk – I used. Whole milk

Break up the bananas and place in a blender. Add the frozen raspberries, ice cream and milk - then BLITZ until completely smooth.
Break up the bananas and place in a blender. Add the frozen raspberries, ice cream and milk – then BLITZ until completely smooth.

 

Pour your Raspberry Banana Ice Cream Smoothies into tall glasses, add a straw and slurp!

One very happy child, slurping his smoothie!!
 One very happy child, slurping his smoothie!!

 

These really are delicious, using frozen raspberries is much cheaper, however if you have an abundance of fresh berries, by all means use them.

I’m already thinking of other flavour combos – do you have any suggestions?

Sammie x

 

 

 

 

 

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Bakewell Cupcakes

Hello people, do I have the perfect picnic Cupcake for you to make and enjoy this sunny day here in the UK today – I think so? Let me introduce the delicious Bakewell Cupcake. All the yumminess of Bakewell Tart in Cupcake form.

Bakewell Cupcakes, best eaten outside in the sunshine!
Bakewell Cupcakes, best eaten outside in the sunshine!

 

Now I love Bakewell Tart, the raspberry jam layer, enveloped in an Almond sponge or frangipane, so I set about turning one of my favourite tarts into a cupcake. Hence the Bakewell Cupcake was born.

Bakewell Cupcakes, perfect for a picnic in the park.
Bakewell Cupcakes, perfect for a picnic in the park.

 

You have to admit, these cupcakes even look cheerful  – maybe it’s the bright red cherry on top of the Almond glaze?  When you bite into these Bakewell Cupcakes your mouth is filled with an assortment of tastes and textures! The hidden Raspberry jam and Almond flakes in the centre are a wonderful surprise!

Bakewell Cupcakes - pretty and delicious!
Bakewell Cupcakes – pretty and delicious!

 

The use of flaked Almonds in the centre is two-fold, firstly they provided a delightful crunch, secondly they stop the Raspberry jam from sinking to the bottom of the cupcake. So when you bite through the glorious Almond glaze into the moist cupcake sponge, your mouth is then filled with tart Raspberry Jam and crunchy Almond flakes. The perfect cupcake balance!

Bakewell Cupcakes - with Raspberry Jam and Flaked Almond centre.
Bakewell Cupcakes – with Raspberry Jam and Flaked Almond centre.

 

Now enough of me telling you how scrummy these are, let’s get on with how to make them!!

Recipe : Makes 18 cupcakes

18 Cupcake Cases

225g/8oz Unsalted Butter – at room temp.

225g/8oz Caster Sugar

1/4tsp Salt

4 Large Eggs – pref free range

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2tsp Almond Extract

225g/8oz Self Raising White Flour

1/2 Jar Raspberry Jam

175g/6oz Flaked Almonds

For the topping:

400g/14oz Icing Sugar

1/2tsp Almond Extract

18 Red Glace Cherries

Method :

Preheat Oven to 175C/160C (fan).

Line muffin tins with the cupcake cases.

Add the butter, sugar and salt to a large bowl.

Whisk together until light and fluffy. Then add the Vanilla and Almond Extract. Whisk to combine.
Whisk together until light and fluffy. Then add the Vanilla and Almond Extract. Whisk to combine.
Add half the flour and 2 eggs, whisk together to combine.
Add half the flour and 2 eggs, whisk together to combine.

Add the remaining flour and eggs, whisk until combined.

Light, fluffy, Almond flavoured cake batter.
Light, fluffy, Almond flavoured cake batter.
Place approx 1 teaspoonful of the batter into the bottom of each cupcake case.
Place approx 1 teaspoonful of the batter into the bottom of each cupcake case.
I used the end of a desert spoon as it was easier! Continue until each case has cake batter in the bottom.
I used the end of a desert spoon as it was easier! Continue until each case has cake batter in the bottom.
Add a good pinch of flaked Almonds to each case, pressing the cake batter flat as you add them.
Add a good pinch of flaked Almonds to each case, pressing the cake batter flat as you add them.
Place 1/2 a teaspoon of raspberry jam on top of the Almonds.
Place 1/2 a teaspoon of raspberry jam on top of the Almonds.
When the jam has been added then place a heaped teaspoon of cake better on top.
When the jam has been added then place a heaped teaspoon of cake better on top.
The batter will naturally spread out during the cooking process, sealing in the hidden jam centre!
The batter will naturally spread out during the cooking process, sealing in the hidden jam centre!

 

Place the Bakewell Cupcakes into a preheated oven and bake for 15-20 mins, until the top is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Allow to cool completely before icing.
Allow to cool completely before icing.

 

To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add 1/2tsp of Almond Extract and enough water to make a thick, fluid icing. It should be able to hold a figure of eight.

Almond flavour glaze that's just the right consistency.
Almond flavour glaze that’s just the right consistency.
Use a teaspoon to cover the top of the cupcakes with the icing.
Use a teaspoon to cover the top of the cupcakes with the icing.
Now pop a cherry on top and leave to set for a couple of hours - if you can wait that long??
Now pop a cherry on top and leave to set for a couple of hours – if you can wait that long??

 

Bakewell Cupcakes are not only pretty and delicious, they also make perfect, portable, picnic food. They are ideal for sharing with friends, family or someone you know, who needs a little pick-me-up!

I hope you try my cupcake version of a traditional Bakewell Tart.

What other deserts can we turn into cupcakes?

Sammie x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers

Hello there lovely people, regular readers will know just how fond I am of Cookies! So it should come as no surprise that I also love biscuits and all variations in between. Actually what is the difference between Cookies and Biscuits? Anyway I digress – these Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers definitely fit in the biscuit category (whatever that is??!!).

Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers
Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers

 

The Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers have a light, buttery crumb, which is complemented by the high quality chocolate dipped ends. This is definitely not a biscuit that I would dunk!

Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers accompanied by Viennese Whirls!
Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers accompanied by Viennese Swirls!

 

I also made some Viennese Swirls, which had their bases dipped in chocolate. Oh my, the biscuity, chocolatey, deliciousness in the shape of a swirl. Both Viennese fingers and swirls look so pretty. I imagine them adorning high tea cake stands, alongside scones and little triangle sandwiches with their crusts cut off! Oh hang on, is that the Ritz on the phone putting in an order? As if!!!!!

Cup of tea anyone? Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers and Swirls.
Cup of tea anyone? Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers and Swirls.

 

These fingers and swirls are piped, using the largest star tip you can get your hands on! They literally take moments to cook and cool, then you can get a-dunking in the gorgeous melted chocolate. If you have children in the house you will instantly have them in the kitchen the minute you start dunking! I guarantee it!!!

In fact I made 6 swirls and 19 (so annoying that it wasn’t 20!) fingers yesterday and they’ve all gone. Next time I’ll make a double batch – or hide them!!! That kinda goes against the sharing theme of this blog – oops!  Looks like a double batch then.

Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers and Swirls - that's a lot of biscuits munched!
Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers and Swirls – that’s a lot of biscuits munched!

 

Anyway, let me show you how I made these –

Recipe : Makes Approx 30 Fingers

200g/7oz Unsalted Butter – very soft

50g/2oz Icing Sugar

15g/ 1/2oz Corn Flour (also known as corn starch)

1tsp Vanilla Extract

1/8tsp Salt

100g/4oz Self-raising White Flour

100g/4oz Plain White Flour

150g Milk Chocolate – I used Green and Black’s as it has 37% Cocoa, most chocolate bars have 20%-25%

Method : Piping bag fitted with a large star tip.

Preheat oven to 180C/165C fan.

Whisk together the very soft butter, icing sugar and salt until light and fluffy.

Note – as the finished mixture is piped, having very soft butter will make the piping easier.

Add the vanilla extract and corn flour and whisk into the butter/sugar mixture.
Add the vanilla extract and corn flour and whisk into the butter/sugar mixture.
Sift both flours into the bowl.
Sift both flours into the bowl.
Mix all the ingredients until they just come together.
Mix all the ingredients until they just come together.
Scoop the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip - I've used a disposable piping bag.
Scoop the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip – I’ve used a disposable piping bag.

Ensure your piping bag is fitted with a large star tip, Wilton #1M is ideal.

Either use parchment paper lined baking sheets or non stick – I used a combination of both.

Here’s how to pipe the Viennese Fingers in pictures –

The mixture is quite stiff! Use one hand to guide the tip and the other to apply pressure to the bag. Squeeze....
The mixture is quite stiff! Use one hand to guide the tip and the other to apply pressure to the bag. Squeeze….
Keeping the pressure on the bag, pipe slowly, in a straight line.......
Keeping the pressure on the bag, pipe slowly, in a straight line…….
Continue piping until the finger is 10cm/4" long. Release the pressure on the bag and pull the tip away.
Continue piping until the finger is 10cm/4″ long. Release the pressure on the bag and pull the tip away.
Soo pretty! Keep a piped finger's width between each one as they spread a little whilst baking.
Soo pretty! Keep a piped finger’s width between each one as they spread a little whilst baking.

Now if you fancy making the Viennese swirls, this is how you do it!

Pipe a swirl, approx 5cm/2" across.
Pipe a swirl, approx 5cm/2″ across.
Pipe inside the swirl in a circular motion, until the circle is filled in. Bring the piping tip to the centre and release the pressure.
Pipe inside the swirl in a circular motion, until the circle is filled in. Bring the piping tip to the centre and release the pressure.

 

Place the swirls and fingers in the oven. Bake the fingers for 10 minutes and the swirls for 10-12 minutes. They are cooked when they have just turned golden.

Beautifully golden, cooked Viennese Fingers.
Beautifully golden, cooked Viennese Fingers.
A gorgeous, golden, Viennese Swirl.
A gorgeous, golden, Viennese Swirl.

 

Leave to cool on the baking sheets for a couple of minutes and then, using a palette knife, move the fingers and swirls to a cooling rack.

Once cooled the fingers are ready for dunking in chocolate.

Chop the chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl.
Chop the chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl.
Melt the chocolate either over a double boiler, or if you're confident in the microwave - I nuked my chocolate and it was fine.
Melt the chocolate either over a double boiler, or if you’re confident in the microwave – I nuked my chocolate and it was fine.
Dip one end of the Viennese finger in the chocolate.
Dip one end of the Viennese finger in the chocolate.
Holding the biscuit in the middle dip the other end in the chocolate.
Holding the biscuit in the middle dip the other end in the chocolate.

 

Place the Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper – DO NOT place back on the cooling rack as I did. I’ll show you why later!!!

For the swirls I used a spoon to cover the base of the swirl with melted chocolate and then left them to cool, upside down, on the cooling rack.

The swirls are fine to cool, upside down, on the rack.
The swirls are fine to cool, upside down, on the rack.

 

You now can present your Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers and Swirls!

Ah soo pretty - Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers and Swirls.
Ah soo pretty – Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers and Swirls.

 

I promised to show you what happened when I cooled the Chocolate Dipped Viennese Fingers on the cooling rack…..

Some of the biscuits stuck and broke when I tried to get them off!!!
Some of the biscuits stuck and broke when I tried to get them off!!!

 

Totally my fault and very embarrassing as my previous post stated the importance of reading through a recipe before you start. Guess what, if I’d read the recipe I’d have known to cool the chocolate dipped fingers on parchment paper. My bad!!!

Still we had fun eating the broken fingers and they were amazing! Buttery, not too sweet and with delicious chocolate on the ends!

Have you had an memorable baking mishaps??

Sammie x

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Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad.

Hi, I was thinking the other day, where would we be, in our busy lives, without Pasta? There are so many dishes you can make using Pasta and today I have Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad to share with you.

Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad - delicious, nutritious and so easy to make!
Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad – delicious, nutritious and so easy to make!

 

This dish takes no more than 30 minutes to make from start to finish! It’s full of lean chicken and crammed with crunchy veggies. In fact if you left the chicken out you could easily make this as a vegetarian dish.

Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad - crammed full of crunchy veg!
Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad – crammed full of crunchy veg!

 

Everything about this dish makes it perfect for a quick, easy, mid-week meal, or you can make it ahead, keep it in an airtight container, in the fridge for up to three days. So it’s got to be one of the easiest meals ever, prepare in advance when you have a bit of time, or cook from scratch and have it on the table in 30 minutes!

Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad - perfect for mid-week mealtimes!
Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad – perfect for mid-week mealtimes!

 

Recipe : feeds 4-6 hungry people!

500g/1lb Packet Dried Pasta – I used fusilli

500g/1lb Boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts

1  Jar ready made Pesto Sauce

150g/5oz Sugar Snap Peas

1 Small Red Onion

1 Yellow Bell Pepper

225g/8oz Cherry Tomatoes

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Optional – Fresh Basil Leaves

Method :

Fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil. Add salt and the pasta and cook according to package instructions.

In a separate pan place the chicken breasts – if very large cut in half first. Add cold water to just cover the chicken. Bring to a gentle simmer and poach for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. I take the largest piece out, cut through the thickest part with a knife and if the chicken is white – not pink, I know it is cooked.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and tip into a large bowl.

Immediately drizzle over the Olive oil and toss the pasta so that it doesn't clump together.
Immediately drizzle over the Olive oil and toss the pasta so that it doesn’t clump together.
Add the jar of pesto sauce and mix thoroughly, ensuring all the warm pasta is coated.
Add the jar of pesto sauce and mix thoroughly, ensuring all the warm pasta is coated.

 

Remove the poached chicken breasts, once cooked and place on a plate to cool slightly.

Into a pan of boiling water add the sugar snap peas and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under a cold tap to halt the cooking process.

Chop the cherry tomatoes in half, dice the red onion and yellow pepper.

Add all the veggies to the pasta.
Add all the veggies to the pasta.

 

When the chicken is cool enough to handle chop into bite sized pieces.

Add the chicken and then mix well. You now have .......
Add the chicken and then mix well. You now have …….
Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad - delicious, nutritious and so easy to make!
Chicken Pasta Pesto Salad – easy and delicious!

 

Sprinkle over fresh Basil leaves and then serve warm as is, or refrigerate for a delicious cool Summer salad on a hot day!

This salad is very versatile, you can add whatever veggies you have on hand and as I’ve said, omit the chicken and you have a delightful, vegetarian dish!

If you make this I’d love to hear how it turns out?

Does Pasta make your mealtimes easier?

Sammie x

 

 

 

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