Almond and Morello Cherry Bundt Cake

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Hello there, thank you to everyone who has been reading and leaving comments on my blogs. I’m hoping you love this Almond and MoreIlo Cherry Bundt Cake Recipe?

A moist, cooked cake, with a scrumptious Morello Cherry centre!!!!
A moist, cooked cake, with a scrumptious Morello Cherry centre!!!!

I hope, to all those of you who have been leaving helpful comments, especially regarding targeting more people to read my blog, thank you.  However I will only approve and reply to one of each blog.  I get a lot of identical blog comments!

I’m very happy to steadily build my site, confidence and readership numbers. I know SEO (site exposure optimisation!) is important to a lot of people and I respect that.

My website and blog is a creative outlet for me (especially as I am bed-bound for days on end – not asking for sympathy).  I enjoy life and as part of that cooking, baking and most importantly having fun and sharing.  So the very act of
sharing my recipes, ideas, thoughts, beliefs through my website and blog, is, I suppose, practising what I’m preaching (without the preaching, more chatting really!).

Talking of sharing, my lovely mummy recently bought me a small Bundt pan from Aldi.  I hadn’t used it until today and although there were a few things I learnt from my first go, it wasn’t half bad!  The cake turned out (literally) extremely well – was a bit worried bout that bit and it tasted good.  So all in all a success.  Thanks mummy xx.

Just in case you’ve not seen one before, I took a couple of pics to show you what my Bundt tin looks like!

The inside of my Bundt tin!
The inside of my Bundt tin!
The outside of the Bundt tin - showing the moulded shape the cake will have once cooked.
The outside of the Bundt tin – showing the moulded shape the cake will have once cooked.

My Bundt tin is quite small, but perfect for the recipe I used.  It’s dimensions are approx  6.5″ wide x 3.5″ deep.  You can buy all different sizes of pan: the common theme is that the pan has a moulded shape, to give a decorative finish to the cake and a central tube, allowing the inside of the cake to be cooked thoroughly (& allowing the finished cake to be filled with cream, fruit, patisserie creme or any number of delicious fillings).

A straight sided, round, flat bottomed tin, is an Angel Cake Tin.  These are for making an entirely different type of cake (Angel cake!), where, when cooling, the tin is inverted (turned upside down) until the cake is completely cool.  Don’t worry it’s on my birthday/Christmas/I must have this else my life will not be incomplete list!!!!!!

So my first attempt making an Almond and Morello Cherry Bundt Cake (as seen in the following photos) went something like this:

Firstly in the excitement – bare with, it’s the lil things in life that I enjoy – of taking all the wrapping/instructions etc off, I didn’t read them, so I could wash my new tin ready for use, I realised  I had no idea if the tin is non-stick!  It looked non-stick (please don’t ask me to describe?).  But I thought I’d play it safe and butter it.  Straightforward yes?  Nope!!

The beautiful shaped cakes mean the Bundt tin has lots of dents, curves, nooks & crannies.  Buttering a loaf tin with 5 straight sides is a breeze, how do I butter this gazillion sided round tin (being round does that mean it can’t have gazillions of sides?  Answers on a postcard……

Aha, a moment of pure inspiration, I’d melt the butter & brush it on with a pastry brush.  Genius!!!!

Me buttering the gazillion sided Bundt tin with melted butter.  Seriously you'd have thought I'd invented the wheel.......
Me buttering the gazillion sided Bundt tin with melted butter. Seriously you’d have thought I’d invented the wheel…….

Feeling very smug and having an excess of melted butter, I also buttered my loaf tin this way today!  Very satisfying to see a smooth(ish) layer of butter cooling in both tins!

Next it was time to decide what cake to bake?  I’ve seen some beautiful chocolate marble cakes made in Bundt tins, on Google images, but to be honest after all the chocolatey cakes made for birthdays recently, I wanted to think outside the box, or Bundt tin in this case!

So I thought I’d ‘try’ an Almond flavoured sponge.  A flavour that goes down well with all the family & crucially my official taste tester ‘the Green goddess’!

Good start but bit boring, so I had a peek in my cupboards & plucked out (the cupboards aren’t chickens in case you wondered!!) Almond flakes & Morello Cherry Jam – super.

Recipe : Almond and Morello Cherry Bundt Cake:

6oz  Unsalted Butter – room temp

6oz  Caster Sugar

Pinch of Salt (I use Kosher- no extra additives,  but  ground sea-salt is fine)

3  Large Eggs – room temp (pref free range)

1/4  teaspoon Almond Extract

1  teaspoon Vanilla Extract

6oz  Self Raising White Flour

2oz  Flaked Almonds (lightly toasted)

4  tablespoons Morello Cherry Jam

Method:

Preheat the oven to 175C (160C fan gas mark 3).

Cream the sugar & butter together using a wooden spoon or electric whisk until pale and creamy.

Add the salt, vanilla & Almond extract.  Mix well.

Crack the eggs into a separate bowl. Add one half  of the flour and 2 eggs, gently mix until almost combined.  Add the remaining egg & flour.  Gently mix until the mixture is completely combined.

Using a desert spoon place spoonfuls of the cake batter into the bottom of the Bundt tin.  Using the spoon spread the mixture so that it covers the bottom of the Bundt tin.  Building the batter up slightly towards the centre and outside edge.  This creates a dip where the filling will go.

Making the dip in the batter should stop the jam from reaching the tin sides, causing the cake to stick.
Making the dip in the batter should stop the jam from reaching the tin sides, causing the cake to stick.

Sprinkle half the toasted Almond flakes on top of the batter.

I didn't toast my Almonds - but I will next time!
I didn’t toast my Almonds – but I will next time!

Next using a small teaspoon, carefully spoon the jam into the centre dip of the cake batter, taking care not to touch the sides.  Smooth the jam out carefully.

I'm pretty sure if the jam spreads to the edges, no amount if ingeniously buttered tin will stop the cake from sticking!!!!
I’m pretty sure if the jam spreads to the edges, no amount if ingeniously buttered tin will stop the cake from sticking!!!!

Sprinkle the last of the flake almonds over the jam, then dollop the remaining cake batter over the top, ensuring as you smooth it out you don’t press the jam toward the sides of the tin.

The cake batter completely encases the jam.
The cake batter completely encases the jam.

Place the Bundt tin in the preheated oven for an hour.  The cake will look cooked approximately 15 minutes before it is, however the centre will not be cooked through.  Continue cooking until the cake has cooked for 1hr 5 mins.

Remove the Bundt tin from the oven and place on a cooling rack.  It is important to let the cake cool completely in the tin.

Looks like I guessed the right quantities for this Bundt tin!!
Looks like I guessed the right quantities for this Bundt tin!!

When the cake feels completely cool, including the centre,  turn the cake out onto a pretty plate.

Or baking rack, will explain later!!!!
Or baking rack, will explain later!!!!

Now you can pop the kettle on (obviously I don’t mean you wear it just, fill & switch on!!!!!), then slice into this beautiful cake.

The jam is contained within the cake and it looks scrummy!
The jam is contained within the cake and it looks scrummy!

I popped the slice above round to my Green goddess friend who wasn’t feeling quite the ticket.  It was received with thanks and thoroughly enjoyed.

See, I had fun making this and sharing with a wonderful friend, who sat with a cuppa, feasted and enjoyed (before my children & hubby came home & almost demolished the rest!).

Now what really happened:

The cake  was removed from the oven after 45 mins.  It was left until slightly warm & turned out onto a cooling rack (don’t ask me why? It seemed like a good idea at the time!!!!).

I then took the photo of the turned out cake, thankfully!!  When I looked closely I realise the centre of the cake wasn’t completely cooked – whoops!

I turned the oven back on, tried to place the Bundt cake on a baking sheet, in doing so part of the cake collapsed – about a portion.  So I attempted to squish the cake together, popped back in the oven & cooked for a further 15-20 mins until the centre was just cooked.

I removed the cake from the oven, allowed to cool until barely warm, cut the slightly collapsed portion out (which I feasted on with a cup of tea!). Then I sliced my friends portion and popped it round to her (2 doors down).

So I’ve adjusted adjusted the cooking time to 1hr-1hr10 mins.  If the top of the cake – which will become the bottom when turned out – is browning too quickly just cover with aluminium foil, removing 5 mins before the cake is completely cooked, so that your cake does not have a soggy bottom!

The cake was rescued, tasted yummy and was feasted on & shared with family & friends.

Until next time keep sharing, you will be  surprised how much it makes YOU smile and it’s FUN!

Sammie x

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Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova

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Hello, I’m writing this blog with fond memories of our week spent in the heart of Devon during half term. This Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova was made, at the barn, with minimal equipment and only my memory for the recipe! I’d call that a challenge!!

Fresh fruit dessert embellished with a vase of pink roses to one side.
Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova

Holiday Baking:

Physically it was a bit of a struggle for me, but that was more than compensated by the time we spent as a family. Hanging out together, all 5 of us on a trampoline ( trust me I wasn’t jumping !!!!) that I thought was going to collapse at any second. Taking turns to row around the pond. Discovering semi-wild farm cats and their kittens in the hay barn – sooo cute. Spending time with our Devon family’s, both in church and on the farm. Yet most of all being together Feasting and Having Fun!!!!!

Fresh fruit topped meringue slice served with a pot of tea and flowers
A slice of Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova.

Firstly I have to give complete credit to Nigella for inspiring this scrumptious Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova.

Whilst staying in our gorgeous Barn in the middle of nowhere Pip had invited us to share a meal with her and her wonderful hubby Sailor Man and their daughter Leggy Lou!

Pip would be cooking Lasagne and I offered to do pudding!!

We’ve been staying on the same farm, in the same barn at least 10 years. I was pretty confident, given the restricted equipment available in the barn, that  I could ‘easily’ whip up a Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova!!

This is one of those puds that not only has the WOW factor visually but tastes even better than it looks. So simple to do then?

FF Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova
Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova a delicious combination of flavours.

While out shopping I remembered ALL the ingredients (I may have made this a few dozen times before!). Although I couldn’t remember the quantities!

Back at the farm, in a rare moment of actually being able to get a signal, I successfully popped onto Nigella’s website  and got the recipe.  Fortunately I had not forgotten anything – boy was I relieved!!

Recipe:  Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova serves 8

You will need a good sized baking sheet that can take a 30cm diameter circle of meringue, lined with parchment paper.

6  Egg whites. (Preferably free range) at room temp

300g  Caster Sugar

3 tbsp Cocoa Powder (not drinking chocolate)

1 tsp Balsamic vinegar (your just gonna have to trust me on this one???!!)

50g  Chopped Dark (70%) Chocolate + an extra 25g Dark (70%) Chocolate chopped very fine, for sprinkling over before serving

450ml Double Cream

300g – 500g Raspberries – Fresh if possible. I have used decent thawed frozen ones in the midst of winter and it worked – Waitrose sell good quality frozen berries

Method:  Preheat the your oven to 200C/180C fan (350F, gas mark 4).

Making The Chocolate Pavlova:

First of all,  if you have any kind of electric whisk PLEASE use it. You can see from the photo below that I did not have one and it was VERY HARD WORK!!!

Oh yes - I whisked 6 egg whites using a rotary whisk!!! Gone are the bingo wings!!!!
Oh yes – I whisked 6 egg whites using a rotary whisk!!! Gone are the bingo wings!!!

Once the egg whites form stiff, satin peaks slowly add the caster sugar and keep whisking. Oh the joy, what was already a hard job became much more difficult as the sugar mixed into the whites. The mixture will become much thicker.

Once all the sugar is fully incorporated whisk until the meringue mixture is glossy, satiny and holds a stiff peak!

Next add the sieved cocoa, chopped chocolate and balsamic vinegar (stay with my guys it’s really worth it in the end!!!)

I'm not a big sifter?(I am a big sister!!!!!), but cocoa really does need a god old sift to remove any lumps!!
I’m not a big sifter?(I am a big sister!!!!!), but cocoa really does need a god old sift to remove any lumps!!

Using a metal spoon gently fold in the chocolate, cocoa and balsamic vinegar until the ingredients are fully combined. This was challenging for me, as you can see from the photos I’d used a straight sided, flat bottomed casserole dish as a mixing bowl!

Still I’m nothing if not adaptable!

When at home I draw round a 12″ (30cm) round cake tin, with pencil, on to parchment paper. On holiday I had to ‘guesstimate’!

Flip the paper over, so that the pencil marking is on the underside. At this point, you can attach the parchment to the baking sheet with little dobs of meringue mixture. These act like glue and stop the paper moving around.

Using the drawn circle as a guide, gently pile on the meringue mixture into the centre using a metal spoon. Use a palette knife (or butter knife if on hols!!!) to gently spread the mixture into an even circle shape approx 30cm across.

I’ve found it helps the cooked Pavlova not to crack if you build the sides up slightly so the centre is approx 1-2cm lower than the edge. It doesn’t matter if it does crack as later on you will be smothering it in whipped cream and raspberries! Using your knife smooth out the centre and create swirls around the outside of the Pavlova. Let your creative, fun side run free!! It’s soo much fun and you can swirl to your hearts content!

The lighting was beautiful in the barn and it makes the Pavlova look sooo pretty x
The lighting was beautiful in the barn and it makes the Pavlova look sooo pretty x

Place the beautiful Pavlova on the middle shelf of the preheated oven (180C – 350F or gas mark 4), immediately turn the oven temperature down to 150C (300F gas mark  2) and bake for  1, 1/4 – 1, 1/2 hours.

If you are confident about the eggs you have used, gather the children around the bowl and let them lick the bowl clean. Make sure you have a little taste too. It’s GORGEOUS.  I think it tastes like the lightest chocolate mousse.  You are eating raw egg so please do not taste if you are pregnant, unwell or elderly. Also I wouldn’t let my children taste it when they were very young.  Our youngest is 12 now so he was allowed to try some!

The Pavlova is cooked when the outside looks lovely and crisp and you can see the dark, fudgey inside through the natural small cracks in the surface.

Turn the oven off and leave to cool completely in the oven.

Once the Pavlova is completely cool remove from the oven and peel off the Parchment paper (I’ve never yet had one stick using Parchment, if you use greaseproof paper I can’t guarantee it will peel off as easily).

Place the Pavlova on a flat cake stand, cake board or metal tray if that’s all you have to hand!!

Whip the cream until thickened but still floppy (adding a teaspoon of caster sugar if you prefer to sweeten the cream) and smother the top of the Pavlova with it leaving a cream free edge.

Just waiting to be adorned.
Just waiting to be adorned.

Tumble (or carefully place it’s your choice!) the raspberries over the cream topped Pavlova.

Now finally sprinkle over the remaining 25g (about a tablespoon) of finely chopped dark chocolate.

 

Soo beautiful, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating!!!
Soo beautiful,Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova. the proof of the pudding is in the eating!!!

We shared this with our dinner hosts who were extremely complimentary about the combination of flavours, but mostly the hidden, almost brownie like middle of the Pavlova. The contrast between the crunchy outer layer, the sublime tartness of raspberry enveloped in velvety whipped cream and then the surprise, almost fudgey centre with nubs of chocolate work to create a TASTE SENSATION! Thank you Nigella for inspiring this recipe.

FF Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova
Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova the perfect sweet treat to take to take to someone’s house.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova you may also like these:

Lemon Lime Meringue Pie

FF Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova
Lemon Lime Meringue Pie

Raspberry Topped Lemon Curd Pavlova 

FF Raspberry Chocolate Pavlova
Raspberry Topped Lemon Curd Pavlova

Pavlova the perfect dessert for Sharing, Feasting and Having Fun!

Sammie x

 

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Victoria Sponge Cake

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Victoria Sponge Cake, light, buttery, golden sponges sandwiched together with homemade raspberry jam. A simple recipe that yields a completely knockout cake both in flavour and looks. And as you master this recipe, you will forever be asked to “bring THAT cake” when gathering with friends and family. Because, put simply, this is a cake for feasting.

Jam and cream filled sponge cake on a pretty plate decorated with little roses.

Since a Victoria Sponge Cake is two identical sponge cakes put together with a slather of jam (and whipped cream if desired) in the middle, it is a great starting point for any baking journey. Because there are no complicated decorating techniques, or steps in the method, the finished cake is all about two things. First of all taste; good quality ingredients are key, butter should not be substituted with margarine. Also, texture; a light sponge is a direct result of not over mixing the cake batter.

Sliced cake showing the freshly made jam between the golden sponges.
Victoria Sponge Cake

Raspberry jam lends a sweet, slightly tart, intense fruit flavour against the buttery, vanilla sponge. While a good quality bought jam is fine to use, making fresh jam adds an additional edge. Since it requires very little time to make I really urge you to try it. Finally, with a light touch and using great quality ingredients the finished result is the Queen of all cakes. I say Queen as this cake is named after Queen Victoria herself.

Victoria Sponge Cake

Recipe: Victoria Sponge Cake serves 8-10

2 x 20cm (8in)  greased loose bottom cake tins, the base of each lined with baking parchment.

225g/8oz Caster Sugar plus 1/2 tsp for dusting the finished cake

225g/8oz Unsalted Butter – room temp

1/4 tsp Sea Salt – I use Maldon

4 Large Free Range Eggs  – room temp

225g/8oz Self Raising White Flour or equivalent weight Plain White Flour plus 1.5 tsp baking powder

2 tsp  Vanilla Extract I use – Nielsen-Massey

Fresh Raspberry Jam use 5 tablespoons of good quality jam if not making from scratch

Juice of 1 Lemon approximately 30mls

225g/8oz Fresh or Frozen Raspberries  – I used frozen from  Waitrose

225g/8oz Sugar

Optional – 300ml Whipped Cream (double or heavy cream)

Method: Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan oven, gas mark 4, 350F.

Making the cake sponges

  • First of all thoroughly grease with butter, both cake tins and line the base with baking parchment.
  • Place the sugar, butter and salt into a large bowl. Whisk the ingredients together until pale and fluffy – if using a stand mixer use the paddle attachment.
  • Rub a little of the mixture between your fore finger and thumb.  If no grittiness is felt the sugar is well mixed into the butter.
  • Next add the eggs and vanilla extract. Add 1 tablespoon of the flour and whisk together for 30 seconds to combine.
  • Sift the flour (and baking powder if required) into the bowl.
  • Whisk the ingredients together until just combined. Over whisking, or beating will develop the flour’s gluten, resulting in a tough, baked cake.
FF Victoria Sponge Cake
Making the cake batter.
  • Spoon the cake batter into the prepared tins, dividing evenly between the two. If wanted weigh equal quantities of cake batter into the tins.
  • Smooth the top of the batter with a spoon.
FF Victoria Sponge Cake
Prepared cake batter in the tins, ready to be baked.
  • Place the tins into the centre of the oven (centre and lower shelf if they cannot fit on one shelf).
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden in colour. The cakes are baked when the top springs back when lightly pressed.
  • As soon as the cakes are baked remove from the oven and place the tins on a cooling rack.
  • Allow each cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutesbefore turning out, top of the cake uppermost and placing directly on to a cooling rack.
FF Victoria Sponge Cake
Golden sponges cooling.

Making the fresh raspberry jam

While the cakes are cooking make the raspberry jam:

  • Into a large, heavy bottomed saucepan add the lemon juice, raspberries and sugar.
  • Also place 2 small plates or saucers into the fridge to chill.
  • Stir the ingredients together with a wooden spoon and bring up to a simmer on a low heat.
  • As soon as the sugar is dissolved increase the heat to bring the jam up to a rolling boil – bubbling vigorously but not over the sides of the pan.
  • Stir to ensure the jam does not stick. Take care as the jam will be very HOT.
  • After 5 minutes at a rolling boil spoon a few drops of hot jam on to one of the chilled plates. Allow to cool for a minute. Using your finger, push one side of the jam, if it wrinkles up the jam is ready; it has reached setting point. Should the jam not wrinkle continue cooking for a further 2 minutes and test again.
FF Victoria Sponge Cake
Freshly made Raspberry Jam for the Victoria Sponge Cake.
  • As soon as the jam has reached setting point remove the pan from the heat.
  • Pour the very hot jam into a heatproof bowl and set aside to cool.
FF Victoria Sponge Cake
Freshly made raspberry jam.

Assembling the cake

  • To assemble the Victoria Sponge Cake ensure both sponges and the raspberry jam are cold.
  • Carefully peel the baking parchment away from both sponges.
  • Place a sponge, flat side up on to a plate or board.
  • Spoon all of the jam on to the flat sponge and spread almost to the edge. Also, add a layer of whipped cream if desired.
  • Place the second sponge, flat side down, on top of the jam covered bottom sponge.
  • Finish with a light dusting of caster sugar on the top of the cake.
Victoria Sponge Cake filled with freshly made raspberry jam.

Serve this cake sliced with a good quality, fresh made cup of tea. Alternatively a glass of champagne for a special occasion compliments both the event and cake.

Store in an airtight container and eat within 5 days. Always refrigerate the cake when adding cream and also during warm weather.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Victoria Sponge Cake with fresh raspberry jam filling you may also like these:

Raspberry and Cream Giant Doughnut

Raspberry And Cream Baked Giant Doughnut with pink drizzle icing a small white sugar ball decorations.
Raspberry And Cream Giant Doughnut

Strawberry Sweetheart Cake

Heart shaped cake covered in piped buttercream roses and decorated with mini edible pink hearts.
Strawberry Sweetheart Cake

Strawberries And Cream Cake

Strawberries And Cream Cake,
Strawberries And Cream Cake

While this cake may be easy to make, learning to master a simple recipe and make it well is the foundation to becoming a great cook and baker. Since cake decorating and presentation are of no importance if the product being served and shared does not taste appealing. And flavour always comes first in any feast. Never more so than when the feast is marking a special occasion. Because, friends and family bring out the flavour even further, as my long held belief shows that food shared always tastes better.

So, whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing and sharing your feast.

Sammie xx

No part of this post may be reproduced or duplicated without the written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

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Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes!!

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Well a very good day to you. The storm has finally cleared the UK and I sincerely hope you survived it unscathed?  If you are sleep deprived, due to the banging, blowing and crashing howls of wind a Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes may be just what you need to help you get through the day with a smile!

Fudgey, chocolate icing with hearts, stars and gold dragee balls!
Fudgey, chocolate icing with hearts, stars and gold dragee balls!

Nature’s beauty can be mesmerisingly beautiful, but we should never underestimate it’s force or ruthlessness and ability to deprive us all of a good nights sleep!

CUPCAKES!!!!!
I’ve posted lots of pics, now I give you the recipe:

Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes (makes 18)

You will need:

2 x 12 Deep Muffin Tins (not shallow fairy cake tins)

18 Cupcake liners (I’ve used brown ‘tulip’ liners – plain white ones look good with chocolate, but the choice is yours!)

Recipe : Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes – makes 18

10oz Unsalted Butter (at room temp)

10oz Dark Brown Muscavado Sugar

2tsp Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Salt (I use Kosher)

5 Large Eggs (Pref Free Range – at room temp)

3oz Cocoa Powder (NOT hot chocolate powder)

7oz Self Raising White Flour

3-4tbsp Whole Milk (at room temp)

6oz Milk Chocolate Chunks or Chips

Large bowl & an electric whisk (it really makes creaming the sugar & butter bearable!!!!)

Method :

PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 175C (160C Fan Oven).

Line the muffin tins with 18 cupcake cases.

Pretty tulip cases, worth the extra effort!!!
Pretty tulip cases, worth the extra effort!!!

Firstly place the butter and treacly dark sugar into a large bowl (of stand mixer, if using, with the paddle mixer attached).

No lumps here!!!!!
No lumps here!!!!!

Unless you are ready for a serious workout I really recommend using an electric whisk to beat the sugar/butter mixture. It will take a while (approx 5-10 mins) for the mixture to become smooth and fluffy.

Next add the punch of salt& vanilla extract and beat the whole mixture until thoroughly combined.

Now if you want to switch to a wooden spoon for mixing you can. Using an electric whisk/beater is also ok, just make sure you don’t over mix once the flour is added, otherwise you won’t have light, cupcakes.

Add 2 of the eggs (I always crack them into a separate bowl first, no one wants crunchy cupcakes!!!) and a third of the cocoa/flour (sifted). Gently mix until almost incorporated.

Repeat this process again.

Callebaut milk chocolate chunks take this cupcake to another level of scrumptiousness!!!!!!!
Callebaut milk chocolate chunks take this cupcake to another level of scrumptiousness!!!!!!!

Now add the last egg and mix gently. Then add the last of the flour/cocoa & the chocolate chunks/chips. Fold these ingredients in gently adding 1 tablespoon at a time to loosen the mixture and allow all the ingredients to mix thoroughly and have a slightly wet dropping consistency.

The cake batter should look like this, ready to scoop!!
The cake batter should look like this, ready to scoop!!

I use an ice cream scoop to evenly fill the cupcake cases. But you could always use 2 desert spoons. Just ensure an equal amount of mixture is placed into each case. This ensures that all the cupcakes will be cooked evenly & in the same amount of time.

Using an ice cream scoop to portion the cupcake batter.
Using an ice cream scoop to portion the cupcake batter.
Centre the scoop above the cake liner.
Centre the scoop above the cake liner.
Squeeze the scoop & release the batter into the case!!!
Squeeze the scoop & release the batter into the case!!!

Cook for approx 20 minutes. The cupcakes are cooked when lightly pressed in the middle and the cake springs back.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5-10 mins until cool enough to transfer to a cooling rack.
NOTE: if using the tulip style cupcake cases, I’ve found it best to leave the cupcakes to COMPLETELY COOL IN THE TIN. The paper cases will then adhere to the cupcakes when removed from the tin.

I left these cupcakes to cool completely in the tin.
I left these cupcakes to cool completely in the tin.

These chocolate chunk cupcakes are then perfect to serve unadorned!

However if making for a special occasion or just because, you can ice or top them with whatever you like!!

I’ve used Betty Crocker’s Chocolate Fudge Icing (which I’ve found is easier to apply using 2 teaspoons, rather than piping, when using the tulip cupcake wrappers. I’ve then sprinkled a variety of gold sugar balls, white chocolate stars, glitter, even rice paper figurines.

Fudgey, chocolate icing with hearts, stars and gold dragee balls!
Fudgey, chocolate icing with hearts, stars and gold dragee balls!

Melted chocolate drizzled over the top, or half double cream/half chocolate melted together in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water), creates a chocolate ganache. If using ordinary (not tulip) cases the cupcakes can then be dipped into the ganache, covering the entire surface of the cupcake. This will then cool to a soft, fudgey consistency, whereas melted chocolate on its own will harden on cooling.

Ganache dipped cupcakes with a sparkly addition of gold dragee balls.
Ganache dipped cupcakes with a sparkly addition of gold dragee balls.

You can then sprinkle & adorn to your hearts content. Although left without the sprinkles these cupcakes still look gorgeous & scrummy.

Now it’s time to share!!

I invested in some individual clear, plastic cupcake holders, which not only allow the cupcakes to be transported easily but also allow the recipient to clearly see their gift. I have also popped the cupcakes into cellophane bags tied with rafia. This also looks beautiful, but is more fiddly & you have to be careful not to get any of the icing on the inside of the bag, as it spoils the look.

If you want to make someone smile, or you know someone who needs cheering up, this recipe is FOOLPROOF.

When I give a gift, especially one I’ve made, I’m NOT looking to be basked in thanks & glory for what I’ve given. I want the recipient to feel special. To know that they’ve been thought of & know that they are special to me.

I’ve received gifts that are more about the giver than the recipient & although I’m always thankful, somehow, if the giver is looking to be showered with praise, the gift feels soulless.

In my world GIFTS SHOULD ALWAYS BE ABOUT THE RECIPIENT NOT THE GIVER.

Don’t get me wrong a thank you is nice, but other than that I’m not seeking praise. I really try to think of who I am giving to & what their likes & preferences are. In doing this I must disregard what I want and focus on others.

Some people like a big fuss & that’s fine. They like attention & they enjoy being the centre of it. So when giving them a gift I know they don’t mind if it’s in a roomful of people. They enjoy celebrating in a big way.

Others are quieter. They would be mortified at the notion of being centre of attention. That is fine too. So the gift will be given quietly, without pomp & circumstance. Because it’s not about the giver but the recipient.

If you’ve taken the time, love & care to make something for someone, give equal thought to how you will give it to them.

Nobody, especially me, gets it right all the time! But we can all try, me included.

A well meant gift, given in a thoughtful way says you care.

Have fun trying the cupcakes. If you want to make fewer a rough guide is 1 egg/2oz butter/1 1/2oz self raising white flour/1/2oz cocoa powder.

I’d love to hear how you get on, so please leave a comment?

In the mean time have lots of fun, feasting and sharing!!

Sammie x

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Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread

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Bread is something that I really enjoy making. Flour, yeast, salt and water, combined and worked, create a bread with real taste. Add in a few extra flavours and the possibilities are endless. Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread is an incredibly easy, yet packed with flavour bread. Perfect for making at home.

FF Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread
Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread.

This week in our house is all about birthdays. Our Lil Man will be 12 this week, it’s also my Sister’s birthday in the same week. Definitely time for Feasting, Celebrating and Fun! Covert baking operations during the day – ready for surprises on their special days. Ooh I love a celebration – well that is as long as I’m not the center of attention!

Fortunately, shyness is not something our son could ever be accused of having. His enthusiasm and passion for life is infectious and wonderful to see. He waits all year for his birthday and the night before, without fail, he reaches ‘ready to explode’ status!Christmas is the same for him, times a gazillion!I adore his passion & zest for life, even if at times it can be exhausting and overwhelming.

So, to make life a bit easier on myself today, I grabbed a previously, made and frozen Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne  from the freezer last night and left it to defrost in the fridge overnight. Yes, I confess to feeling a tiny little bit smug.
Since I have a bread maker that makes my life (in the world of bread baking), so much easier, I decided to whip up a couple of these GARLIC ROSEMARY FOCACCIA BREAD.  Also, as this is such a reliable and easy recipe, I decided to share it with you.

Even with 4 Garlic bulbs added to the bread mixture & the same sprinkled on top, this Focaccia only has a mild Garlic taste.
Even with 4 Garlic bulbs added to the bread mixture & the same sprinkled on top, this Focaccia only has a mild Garlic taste.

GARLIC ROSEMARY FOCACCIA BREAD: makes 2 loaves.

You will need 2 x lightly oiled 8×8″ square tins ( with at least 2″ depth), or – 1 larger oiled baking tray (2″ deep) to bake one large focaccia.

Recipe: Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread 

1lb Strong Plain White Flour – I use Shipton Mill

300ml Warm (hand hot) Water

1 x 7g Sachet, Easy Blend Yeast

2 tbs Olive Oil (plus extra for drizzling over bread, oiling baking tins & cling film)

7g Sea Salt – I use Maldon

Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper for top of the bread

2 tbs Fresh Rosemary – finely chopped

8 Garlic Bulbs (4 for bread mixture, 4 for topping the bread).

Method: Preheat oven to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7

When using a bread maker or stand mixer:

Place the warm water into the pan or bowl of the device you are using, making sure the dough hook is attached to the stand mixer.

Sprinkle over the sachet of dried, activated yeast and swish about with clean fingers to mix.

Next place the flour on top of the liquid mixture. Add the oil and salt.

Now add 1 tbs of the finely chopped Rosemary and salt.

Mince most of the Rosemary finely, allowing a few whole & half leaves to remain so they can be seen in the bread!
Mince most of the Rosemary finely, allowing a few whole & half leaves to remain so they can be seen in the bread!

Add in four minced bulbs of garlic. I’m a very big fan of my garlic press (no peeling or chopping), but you may chop, process, squish with the back of your knife. Please don’t write in with other methods for finely mincing garlic, just be happy that you’re innovative.

Now mix & prove (if using a bread maker). With a stand mixer, attach the dough hook & mix for 8-10 minutes, until the dough has a silky, stretchy, elasticity about it.

If kneading by hand, bring all the ingredients together and work (knead) the dough until you can feel the change, when the dough again stretches easily and feels silky to touch – a good way to check that the dough has been worked enough is that it should be hard to tear.

Shape the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl, then turn the ball over, so the top has an oily layer & cover tightly with cling film. Place in a warm draught free place until doubled in size (about an hour).

Prepare the baking tins (or large tin if only using one) by placing some oil in the tin (approx 1tsp for a smaller tin).  Then using your fingers or a piece of kitchen towel completely cover the inside of the tin with a light slick if oil. When doing this by hand, your nails also benefit from a cuticle treatment.
Talking of fingers, if you have long nails it’s probably easier to apply the oil with the kitchen cloth. It also probably means you look after your hands and nails may not need a quick, olive oil cuticle treatment. Just saying, I NEED the treatment.

If using a bread machine switch on to knead cycle to knock the dough back for a minute. With the dough in the bowl, remove the cling film & gently punch down (enjoy the soft enveloping feeling!)the dough to knock out the air bubbles and gently knead by hand for 2 minutes.

Half the focaccia dough.
Half the focaccia dough.

Divide the dough in two (or leave whole if making a larger Focaccia) using a sharp knife or a dough cutter.
Place half the dough into each tin (or all into one tin).

NOW is the absolutely BEST thing about making this type of bread. If you loved making mud pies when you where younger, or maybe still do, you’re going to LOVE this next bit.
Using your the heel of your hand, gradually press the dough out until it reaches the edges of the tin and is roughly the same thickness across the tin.

Check out my dimples!!!!
Check out my dimples!!!!

Next using your fingers, have great fun making lots & lots & lots of dimples in the dough – to give it the classic focaccia look.
Can you tell how much I really love that part? So much fun!
Drizzle a little olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt flakes, the rest of the finely minced Rosemary, a grinding of pepper and the rest of the garlic. Split over 2 tins if making 2 Focaccia loves.

Lightly oil some cling film:
TOP TIP: Using a clean wet cloth wipe some of your work surface so that it is damp. When laying your cling film over the top it will lay flat and not attempt to attach itself to itself, you, or random kitchen objects. You can then easily spread a light coating of oil over the cling using your hands, or a pastry brush.
I know there’s oil in the dough, the tin has been oiled, you’ve just drizzled oil on top of the focaccia – JUST TRUST ME!

Most of the time you could get away with not oiling the cling, but and it’s happened to me, it WON’T EVER STICK if you oil the cling!

The risen dough does lose some of the dimply effect - so if you want more dimples, repeat the process!!!!
The risen dough does lose some of the dimply effect – so if you want more dimples, repeat the process!!!!

Cover the top of the tin with the oiled cling (so it’s airtight) and leave in a warm, draught free place until doubled in size. Alternatively,  place the dough in the fridge. While it will take longer to rise, the bread will develop a lovely flavour, due to the slow prove. It’s your dough, so, do whatever you fancy.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT TIP – I have successfully risen the dough slowly in the fridge, completely forgotten about it, so it quadruples in size. Knock it back by recreating the dimpled effect, as before, left to rise and it’s turned out fine.
Bake the focaccia in a preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until a golden colour and still quite soft. The base should sound hollow when rapped with a knuckle.

Once baked, remove from the oven, take a deep breath, the smell is intoxicating. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, run round the outside with a palette knife until you can feel the loaf easing from the tin. Turn the bread out and place on to a cooling rack. Repeat with second tin.

Please dunk me in some scrummy soup, pasta sauce or sausage casserole?
Please dunk me in some scrummy soup, pasta sauce or sausage casserole?

The Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread will be marshmallowy soft & is fine to serve warm as is. Or cool, wrap in foil and freeze for up to one month.
If you prefer a slight crust to your focaccia, 10 mins before serving, place the bread directly on to the rack of a preheated oven (as for baking the dough) for 5 – 10 minutes, depending on how crusty you like it.
Because this bread is thinner than a loaf, you can cut or tear the bread whilst still warm.

FF Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread
Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread baked as a whole.

This bread goes with any dish you would normally serve garlic bread with. It also goes fantastically well with soup. Spicy vegetable, leek and potato are especially good with this bread. It is ideal for dunking!
One Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread is plenty for our family of five, so I wrap in foil and freeze the other one.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread you may also like these:

Tomato Thyme Garlic Focaccia

FF Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread
Tomato Thyme Garlic Focaccia Bread.

Easy Crusty Baguettes

FF Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread
Easy Crusty Baguettes.

Garlic Cheese Bombs

FF Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread
Garlic Cheese Bombs

I really hope you give this recipe a try. You can vary the herbs. I’ve used Thyme, Oregano and SHOCK/HORROR dried mixed herbs. Ooh I’m such a rebel! But seriously, it works better with the woodier herbs (rather than parsley/fennel) mentioned. Since I find that soft herbs are better mixed with butter and oil, then slathered into a baguette/ciabatta (part bake baguettes work well for this!).
Until next time, I hope you have fun giving this recipe a go and enjoy feasting with whoever you share it with.

See you soon. Sammie xx

No part of this blog post may be replicated without written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

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Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies!!!

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If you like chocolate cookies & love the taste of Mars Bars – you will totally flip out over these Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies!!
I could keep you in suspense no longer.

Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies
Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies

I may have mentioned my particular preference for a cookie with my cuppa? This combined with my natural curiosity led to these Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies being made.
But, if I’m going to completely truthful, I had an ulterior motive for making them!! More on that later.

Soooo Delicious
Soooo Delicious

I do apologise I have not yet said hello & good morning to you. I hope you are well today & encourage you to read yesterday’s blog: more food for the soul, than for our tummies & definitely way more important. I hope it makes you think, question, wonder & seek.
Today the rain is lashing down, giving the gardens a well needed dousing. Tomorrow the sun is supposed to shine, YAY! Sunshine always seems to make people seem brighter & happier – listen to me! English & talking about the weather – I’m a stereotype!!!!
I promised you my reason for the ulterior motive behind these cookie. Well…… I also made PEANUT BUTTER SNICKERS COOKIES which I absolutely lurve – I will post that recipe soon!
Making the Chocolate  Mars Bar Cookies keeps my lil kiddly winks away from the Snickers Cookies! They prefer chocolate Cookies over any other!!!
I know, I know I go on about sharing & I do. I really do! I shared the Snickers Cookies with my special QC friend!

Recipe : CHOCOLATE MARS BAR COOKIES – makes approx 28-32

You will need 2 x Baking Sheets (lined with parchment paper, even if non stick)

5oz  Dark Brown Sugar (light brown is fine if that’s what you have to hand)

8oz  Unsalted Butter – room temp

1/4  tsp Salt

1  Large Egg Yolk (pref Free Range)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

3oz  Cocoa Powder

7oz  Plain White Flour

3-4  Mars Bars – chopped

Method :

Preheat the oven to 180C (165C fan)

The gorgeous dark brown sugar gives these cookies a fudgier flavour!!!!!!
The gorgeous dark brown sugar gives these cookies a fudgier flavour!!!!!!

Place the sugar, butter & salt into a bowl. Whisk or beat until light & fluffy.
Add in the egg yolk & Vanilla Extract. Whisk or beat until fully incorporated into the butter/sugar mixture.

Naughty - I didn't sift my flour/cocoa - whoops!!!!
Naughty – I didn’t sift my flour/cocoa – whoops!!!!

Next add the flour & cocoa ( you can sift them in if you prefer) & the chopped Mars Bars (don’t try to sift them – just trying to be helpful!!!!).
Slowly mix until all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated together – it is inevitable that during this time the chunks of Mars Bar break up a bit, DON’T WORRY!!! This just adds to the gooey texture of the cookies!

Gooey, chocolatey, cookie dough!!!!!
Gooey, chocolatey, cookie dough!!!!!

Take a desert spoonful of the mixture and roll into a ball using your hands. The ball should be approx 1″ across, add or take away cookie dough to get the right size.

Cookie dough balls, ready to be lightly squished!!!
Cookie dough balls, ready to be lightly squished!!!

Make 16 balls, as above & place 8 on each cookie sheet, evenly spaced as they will spread on baking.
With clean hands use your fingers to gently flatten each ball.
Place in the preheated oven & cook for 10-13 mins (depending on size of cookies & oven).

Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies!!!!
Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies!!!!

WITH THE REMAINING COOKIE DOUGH: Place onto a long piece of cling film, gently roll into a log shape.

Cookie dough log removed from fridge & left to warm for 20 mins before slicing.
Cookie dough log removed from fridge & left to warm for 20 mins before slicing.

Wrap thoroughly in the cling film & refrigerate for up to 4 days, double wrap & freeze for up to one month. When ready to use, thaw in the fridge, overnight, if previously frozen, then remove from the fridge 15-30 minutes before slicing into 1/4″ thick discs.

Bake as follows :

With cocoa in the dough mixture it can be difficult to tell when the cookies are cooked: Firstly, don’t be surprised if some of the Mars Bar chunks burst from the edge of the cookie & bubble away – this is fine. They will easily come away from the parchment paper when cooled (hence the need for parchment paper, so you don’t have to use a knife to scrape your non stick baking sheets!!!).
The cookies will be set around the edge & although still soft to the touch (they will harden in cooling) each cookie will have a fixed shape & have a dull surface (not shiny where the butter & sugar are still baking).
It’s very hard to give an exact cooking time for these cookies due to the inherent variations of the cookie size & different ovens.
My suggestion would be to remove them from the oven if they fulfil the above criteria & to DEFINITELY not cook them for longer than 13 mins.
The large proportion of Cocoa will result in a dry, claggy, stick to the roof of your mouth Cookie if over cooked.
Better to have a soft chewy, slightly undercooked Cookie.
Remember Cookies are not like cakes! Once cooled & hardened if you feel they really are too undercooked, pop them back into the preheated oven for a couple more minutes. This should finish their cooking!

Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies, made for sharing!
Chocolate Mars Bar Cookies, made for sharing!

These cookies are at their best the next day after making (I’m sorry) but they still taste good once cooled!!
They make excellent gifts: Pop a few in a cellophane bag, tie with a pretty ribbon or rafia, or place in a pretty tin for a larger gift.
We don’t have to wait for special occasions like birthdays or Christmas (although these are always good opportunities to share & give).

Have you ever been surprised by a gift, just because someone wanted to show you they cared? If not, why not start a new tradition?
I know of a church, in Devon, who buy lots of Easter eggs & give them out to the businesses of their small town as a thank you, for the services the businesses supply to the townsfolk throughout the year!!! What an amazing idea!
Sharing is contagious! Now what I am ABSOLUTELY NOT saying is that we should give to receive. Only that by giving & sharing we are showing others & they in turn may go on to share.

A SHARING REVOLUTION : imagine the difference & smiles that would generate?

Everyone SHARING FEASTING AND HAVING FUN!

Sammie x

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What a feast we had!!

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If I were a fairy, this cake would be my home xx
If I were a fairy, this cake would be my home xx

Hi there. I really do hope that you are having a good day? If not I hope tomorrow is better for you.

As for me, eldest daughter is having  a sleepover tonight with some friends. So of  course we’ve had plenty of fun and feasting- although  how much sleep is had tonight I can only guess at!!

They are all lovely girls and all four of their birthdays are near each other, so I thought it would be nice to make them all a special cupcake,

Sharing their birthday celebrations together, with a pretty cupcake tower
Sharing their birthday celebrations together, with a pretty cupcake tower!!

Now before I get into the feasting frivolities, I feel it is necessary to share with you my love of fairy lights. They add such sparkle to a room. With one flick of the switch a nice room becomes a magical party room. And they make me smile, especially when I see them reflected in a mirror. It’s like an extra bonus (buy one get one free!!!). I feel so much better having shared that as it will help to further explain my other love……

Sparkles, whether it is a shimmering, sun lit sea scape, or a harsh overnight frost followed by a sun lit, clear blue sky. The way the ice crystals sparkle under the bright low sun  & spiders webs, beautifully defined by the ice crystals, look like something straight out of an Enid Blyton fairy story.

But sparkles, although enchanting in nature, can also be used to turn a pretty cupcake, into a spectacular one. I’m talking edible glitter here people & the world – my world – loves to sprinkle a little glitter whenever the occasion allows ( I satisfy myself with a daily application of sparkly lip gloss – & I’m happy about that!!).  Christmas (as well as properly remembering & giving thanks to God for the birth of his son Jesus) sees me in my element, totally immersed in fairy lights, tinsel, baubles & pots & pots of glitter – edible or otherwise.

Anyhow back to this blog! Here’s a couple of photos of the vanilla & chocolate cupcakes (I’m proud of the restraint I showed whilst decorating them!!!!

Chocolate, but sparkly & classy!!
Chocolate, but sparkly & classy!!

So I made a couple of pizzas (thank you Mr Bread machine), some coleslaw, garlic bread – with fresh Thyme – my fav so far, well today, baked oven potato wedges, cocktail sausages & sausage rolls ( the last 3 cooked from a packet – I know my limits!!), added a couple of dips, crisps & crudités & the feast was complete. The hungry teenagers got stuck in!!

Many hands make pizza disappear quickly!!!!
Many hands make pizza disappear quickly!!!!

And I’m not sure I have ever heard so much laughter, seen such happy faces or seen pizza disappear quite so quickly. It made me glad and thankful.

Thankful that I am married to a man who loves me sooo deeply, flaws an all. Thankful that we have 3 beautiful, loving, caring & thoughtful children. The BEST family anyone could ever hope for & secure in the knowledge that we are loved by the best man who ever walked this earth, Jesus.

He is our strength & our refuge. It is only by being full up & constantly refilled with His unending love that we can deal with daily challenges & still smile. Thank you Lord.

I hope that you too know my friend Jesus, He IS the smile that lives in my heart.

If you don’t know Him & the Vast love & forgiveness He has for you, please leave a comment & I will get back to you with more info?

Thank you for taking time to read my blog. I’m not very tech savvy & everything I have written & photographed on my phone!!!!

Until next time, & I say this as much to myself as you, try to react in a kind, considerate way the next time someone puts an obstacle in your path & if you can smile through it, all the better xx

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Blueberry And Lemon Muffins

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Welcome to Feasting is Fun and these fruity Blueberry And Lemon Muffins. Made using a whole lemon, zest and juice and packed full of blueberries. Ideal for packed lunches, picnics or afternoon tea. Most importantly these muffins are perfect eaten any time of the day. Although, as always, they taste better when shared.

FF Blueberry And Lemon Muffins
Blueberry And Lemon Muffins

Since I’ve been thinking about the names that different foods are given, for example, Buffalo wings, the name totally confuses me. You see Buffalos don’t have wings, well not the ones I’ve ever seen on television or in books. Now wait for it, this is going to come as a massive surprise,  they are in fact Chicken Wings. Also, as far as I’m aware, Moussaka doesn’t have Moose in it or Mousse! Bell peppers don’t go ding a ling a ding, when shaken. I’m pretty sure Horseradish doesn’t have horse in it. Such is the English language, if you think of any more please post them in the comments box?

FF Blueberry And Lemon Muffins
Blueberry And Lemon Muffins

Well I can guarantee that these Blueberry And Lemon Muffins definitely have both Lemon and Blueberries in them. Now although I call these muffins, they aren’t proper muffins in the strictest sense,  but they’re not cupcakes either. So I settled on muffins, you know that whole thing with the English Language?  It doesn’t really matter, all you need to know is that they are good.

So good in fact that place two Blueberry Lemon Muffins in a bowl, whilst still warm and slather with custard, or cream, or both. Then dig in!

Recipe : Blueberry And Lemon Muffins makes 12

175g/6oz Unsalted Butter – room temperature

175g/6oz Caster Sugar

1/4 tsp Sea Salt – I use Maldon

3 Large Free Range Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla Extract – I use Nielsen-Massey

100g/4oz Buttermilk

175g/6oz Fresh Blueberries rinsed and dried

1 Unwaxed Lemon zest and juice – zest first and then squeeze out the juice

175g/6oz Plain White Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

Method : Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan, 375F, gas mark 5

  • First of all place 12 large muffin cases into a deep muffin tin.
  • Place the sugar, salt and butter into a large bowl and whisk together until pale and creamy.
  • Add the eggs, vanilla extract, buttermilk and juice of one lemon.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into the same bowl.
  • Whisk together until just combined. Over mixing will cause the muffins to be tough.
  • Keep back 12 blueberries for topping the muffins.
  • Add the lemon zest and remaining blueberries to the batter and fold in gently using a large metal spoon.
FF Blueberry And Lemon Muffins
Making the Blueberry And Lemon Muffin batter.
  • Spoon the batter into the muffin cases, dividing equally.
  • Top each muffin with a fresh blueberry.
  • Place the muffin tin into the oven centre and bake for 20-30 minutes.
  • The muffins are baked when golden and spring back from a light touch. An inserted skewer will come out clean of batter, with some blueberry juices attached.
FF Blueberry And Lemon Muffins
Filling the muffin cases and baking them.
  • As soon as the muffins are baked remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the tin and place on to a cooling rack.
  • Leave to cool completely, or until just warm.
Blueberry And Lemon Muffins
Blueberry And Lemon Muffins

Now arrange nicely and take a photo. Email this photo to five friends, put the kettle on and see who arrives!

Blueberry And Lemon Muffins
Blueberry And Lemon Muffins

These muffins are at their best, just warm. Since each blueberry, when cooked forms it’s own little pod of jam throughout the muffin. Seriously yummy and very hard to stop at one, two, three….. Remember they’re for sharing.

Enjoy. While reminding yourself that blueberries are a ‘super food’  and there’s a whole lemon in the recipe, happily kid yourself that the feast before you is good for you. Since it is packed with Vitamin C.

Store cold muffins in an airtight container and eat within three days.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Blueberry And Lemon Muffins then you may also like these:

Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Muffins

FF Blueberry And Lemon Muffins
Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Muffins

Spiced Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

FF Blueberry And Lemon Muffins
Spiced Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

Double Strawberry Almond Muffins

FF Blueberry And Lemon Muffins
Double Strawberry Almond Muffins

 

A fantastic recipe to make with children who will wolf them down as quick as they are cool enough to eat. With big jammy, smiling faces and wide eyes begging you to make another batch for them to share at school. Go on – it’s fun!

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing and sharing your feast.

Sammie xx

No part of this post may be reproduced or duplicated without the written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

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Amazing Apple Pie

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Hi, how are you today? It’s Sunday, traditionally the day of rest. Since not everyone gets to stay at home, I have a treat for you. Either to make for your family and loved ones when then come in from work, any day of the week, or just because it is so delicious. A dessert that will make you want to go for a brisk walk afterwards, or snuggle up on the sofa and have a nap. Here is my Amazing Apple Pie.

FF Amazing Apple Pie
Amazing Apple Pie

Rest and relaxation is so important. More so nowadays in our 24/7 world. While life, with work/children/DIY/etc. can sometimes feel as though we are chasing our tails. It is important to take time to stop and rest. Turn off our electrical devices, mentally switch off from all the tasks still to be ‘done’ and simply be. Whether that be playing a board game, reading a book or going for a walk. Rest is good for our mind, body and soul.

I will let you into a secret, once you’ve finished your list of things that MUST be done, guess what? More ‘jobs’ will miraculously appear! So if we take a few hours, or even a whole day to chill out, rest, or spend time doing something, that in itself is relaxing, we will feel soo much better. And be ready to face the world and all the demands that are placed on us.

We were created to work and be fruitful (no pun intended on the Amazing Apple Pie) but also to rest.

FF Amazing Apple Pie
Amazing Apple Pie

Obviously I’m aware many, many people cannot rest on a Sunday. Our Doctors and Nurses, who do such a fantastic job of treating and looking after sick people, don’t just down tools and stop because it’s Sunday. There are millions of people who, without their commitment to providing our security, ensuring our power supplies continue, indeed run our government and many, many more dedicated professions who work around the clock. Far too many to mention here – who ensure the smooth running & care of the population of our Great United Kingdom. To them I give my heartfelt thanks. Just think, Vicars don’t get Sunday off.

Rest doesn’t have to mean just plopping down in front of the telly, although if that’s how you chill out, go for it! Personally I love gardening, gentle gardening, pottering. Planting a few bulbs, deadheading, a little light pruning, nothing that causes me to beak out in a sweat and lands me on the sofa for 3 days, simply because I’ve overdone it. That is not rest, I’ve learned the hard way!

Baking is right up there with gardening as a form of relaxation for me. Gentle pastry making, not frenetic mid-week meal cooking, followed by mums taxi running one child to piano, my lil man to scouts, not to mention the impossible task of getting a filthy rugby kit washed, dried, ironed and ready by the next day. I don’t even own a tumble drier!

FF Amazing Apple Pie
Amazing Apple Pie served with Luxury Homemade Vanilla Bean Custard.

So to my recipe for scrumptious Amazing Apple Pie: am I stressed Noooo. I find the whole process relaxing – if you find that strange – that’s ok. You do what you must to relax, I bake or garden!!!!

You will need a 9-10″ glass pie dish ( the glass really does make a difference – the bottom of the pie doesn’t go soggy – don’t know why – but glass seems to conduct the heat better, resulting in a pie that is baked evenly on the bottom as well as the top! Anyhow it works!!!

Recipe: Amazing Apple Pie serves 6

For the pastry:

350g/12 oz Plain White Flour

1/4 tsp Sea Salt – I use Maldon

75g/3oz Unsalted Butter – cold & cubed

75g/3oz Vegetable Shortening – cold & cubed (or broken into similar sized chunks as the butter) I use Trex

1 Free Range Egg, whisked with 1 tbs of water – for egg wash

1tbsp Demerera Sugar – I use Billingtons

For the filling:

600g/1lb 4oz weight of peeled Apples – Tart varieties (such as Granny Smiths, or cooking apples such as Bramleys) are best, but windfalls of any variety can be used

2 tbs Corn flour also called corn starch

1 Large Lemon – juiced

2 tbs Vanilla sugar or caster sugar & 1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Nutmeg

Method: Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan, 400F, gas mark 6

To make the pastry:

Place all the ingredients into a bowl (of stand mixer if using, with paddle attachment), using a pastry cutter, or your fingers, quickly rub/cut/blend the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles lumpy breadcrumbs – pea sized pieces of fat should still be visible.

Add enough cold water – 1 tbs at a time until the pastry JUST comes together, stirring with a butter or palette knife. Just as the mixture starts to clump go in with your hands and gently & quickly bring the clumps together into a ball.

Place the pastry onto some cling film, pat out to form a disc & then cut the disc in half, reshape each half back into a disc. Wrap each half in cling & place in the fridge for at least 30 mins to allow the pastry to relax.

NOTE : Whilst the pastry is resting you can prepare the filling – see below.

Once the pastry has rested remove it from the fridge & place 1 disc on a clean floured surface. With a lightly floured rolling pin start rolling, using even outward motion & turning the disc, adding small amounts of flour so that the pastry doesn’t stick.

When the circle looks wide enough to fill the pie dish, will a small amount of over lap, place the pastry into the UNGREASED pie dish, so that the excess pastry drapes slightly over the edges of the pie dish.

Please don’t worry,  if you have followed the recipe & are using a glass pie dish IT DOES NOT need greasing. There is enough fat in the pastry for it not to stick. If you have used a different type of pie dish I would play it safe & butter it first.

For the filling:

Peel, core and quarter the Apples. Slice the quarters into 3.

Place the prepared apples into a bowl and pour over the lemon juice, cornflour, sugar and spices. Using clean hands toss the apples so that each piece is covered in the lemony, gooey mixture.

Place the apple mixture onto the pastry base.

Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the outside edge of the pastry with egg wash.

Remove the 2nd pastry disc and roll out as before, ensuring when placed on top, the circle of pastry slightly overlaps the top of the pie.

Using a sharp knife carefully trim the excess pastry. Then either using a fork or your forefinger and thumb, press the lid of the pastry to seal it around the rim to the bottom layer.

FF Amazing Apple Pie
Creating an Amazing Apple Pie

Make a few snips in the top of the pastry, to allow any steam to escape.

If you want to be creative, make leaves, berries, whatever you want to decorate the top of the pie, making sure you don’t cover the slits in the pastry up. I just happen to have a mini apple shaped cutter that I couldn’t resist using on this pie.

FF Amazing Apple Pie
Decorated with Pastry apples and leaves, this Amazing Apple Pie is ready for the oven.

Brush the top of the Amazing Apple Pie with egg wash and then sprinkle the Demerera Sugar over the top of the pie. This adds an extra crunch and very mild toffee flavour. Put the pie dish onto a baking sheet and place in a preheated oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes. The pie is cooked when it is a gorgeous golden colour, on top and underneath.

Remove from the oven and let the pie rest for 15 minutes, this will make it easier to slice.

 

FF Amazing Apple Pie
Amazing Apple Pie 

I like to serve this Amazing Apple Pie with Luxury Homemade Vanilla Bean Custard, cream, vanilla ice cream (or all of them!!!!) and a big smile. Wait for a minute and you will, in the moment of the first mouthful become the most popular, loved person in the room.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Amazing Apple Pie you may also like these:

Autumn Apple Almond Cake

FF Amazing Apple Pie
Autumn Apple Almond Cake

Iced Bakewell Tart

FF Amazing Apple Pie
Iced Bakewell Tart option for un iced version too.

Blackberry Nectarine Tart

FF Amazing Apple Pie
Blackberry Nectarine Tart

This pie cries out to be shared with family, friends and loved ones alike. It’s also worth considering popping across the road to the gentleman who recently lost his wife and sharing a slice of pie with him.

Sometimes, when we are stumped by what to say, our actions can convey more than words ever could.

Until next time, challenge yourself to share with someone who is outside of your comfort zone. You may just make somebody else smile?

Sammie xx

No part of this post may be reproduced or duplicated without the written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

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Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole

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Since we are a family of five, make ahead meals really are helpful when life gets busy. And if the recipe can be made in one pot and I am eternally grateful. My Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole ticks both boxes. Either bubbling away on the hob, or  in the oven, it’s aroma fills the house with a warm spicy scent. Almost like a warm hug welcoming you home.

FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole

Why I love Autumn

Before we get on with the recipe, I wanted to share my thoughts. Autumn, or Fall as it’s called in the States is my favourite season. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Summer, in fact, I like all the seasons. Much as the glorious, unending sunshine places like California offer, I simply love the change in seasons we enjoy here in England. Read Autumn The Most Beautiful Season.

While there is something about, at first, the almost subtle change in weather, usually towards the end of August/beginning of September where I live. Whether it’s the deep, deep green of the leaves on the trees, or the rustle as the wind blows through the drying out leaves. Followed by the gorgeous change, through deepest red to fiery orange and a last nod to the daily lowering of the sun in the sky, as the leaves turn yellow. And confetti, like fluttering of the leaves on a blowy day. Likewise the ravages of an adorned tree, ripped overnight of its leafy covering, by a violent storm.

Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole served with crusty bread.

The welcoming warmth of sunshine. Especially on a clear, frosty, day. Also, there is something to be said though for darker, rain and wind filled days, snuggled up on the sofa, the smell of a spicy casserole, gently bubbling away in the oven. And puddings! A must, some may say essential,  during the colder months.

Creating a cheap meal using quality  products

Since first making this dish it has evolved to the final recipe given here. While most of the ingredients are relatively cheap, it is essential to use good quality sausages. Pale, flabby pink sausages will simply disintegrate during the long cooking process. So adding quality pork sausages enhances  the overall flavour of the dish. Especially as one packet will feed up to six people.

FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole
Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole an easy one pan meal.

You will need a large ( 4 litre) ovenproof casserole dish, or bigger if doubling the recipe to feed a crowd.

Recipe: Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole serves 4 – 6

1 Large Onion – chopped into small dice

1 Aubergine – chopped into 1/2″ cubes

450g/1lb Good Quality Sausages each sausage chopped into 4 pieces – I use Graig Farm Sausages

2 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin of baked beans

2 x 400g butter beans – strained & rinsed with cold water

4 individual bulbs of garlic – minced

1 chilli (or 1tsp chilli flakes) finely chopped

200mls of red wine I use Claret( or 100ml Port – any type except Tawny)

2 tbs tomato puree

1/2tsp Celery Seeds

3/4tsp Fennel Seeds

Handful of fresh parsley chopped and added after serving

Freshly Ground Black Pepper to season.

Note: Having made this dish many times, it has never needed the addition of salt.

Method: Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan, gas mark 4

Assembling the casserole

  • First of all place the onion, aubergine and sausages in the casserole dish Andrew pour over the red wine or Port.
  • Add both tins of tomatoes, then half fill each tin with cold water, swirl around so that you get all of the tomato juices left inside the tin and pour over the casserole.
  • Next tip in the baked beans and swirl the tin with water as before, pouring into the dish, then add the rinsed butter beans.
  • Add the tomato purée, minced garlic, chilli, celery seeds, fennel seeds and a good grinding of black pepper
  • If needed add more cold water until all the ingredients are just covered with liquid. Making sure there is still a good inch between the liquid and the top of the casserole dish.
FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole
Making the casserole.
  • Place the lid (or cover tightly with tin foil) on to the dish and place in the oven.
  • Cook at 180C for 1/2 hour then reduce the heat to 140C/120C fan, gas mark 1, very low oven temperature.
  • Leave to cook for 3 hours. Check and top up with recently boiled water so that the ingredients are just covered with liquid again.
  • Clamp on the lid (or foil) and return to the oven for 2 more hours. You can repeat the liquid adding throughout the day, the longer this casserole cooks the better it tastes!
  • The Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole will be cooked after 5 1/2 hours.
  • Serve in bowls, sprinkled with freshly chopped parsley for fresh, grassy, Vitamin C filled flavour.
FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole
Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole

Finally add fresh crusty bread for dunking in the spicy juices.

Leftovers can be chilled, portioned into individual freezer bags and frozen for up to 3 months.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole you may also like these:

Slow Roasted Cider Pork

FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole
Slow Roasted Cider Pork.

Creamy Tomato Spinach Chicken Pasta

FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole
Creamy Tomato Spinach Chicken Pasta

Chunky Chilli

FF Spicy Sausage Bean Casserole
Chunky Chilli

 

I have wonderful memories attached to making this meal. While on holiday in Devon I wanted to make a meal for friends. Cooking dinner for our hosts resulted in more people being added to the guest list during the day. So extra beans, tomatoes and wine added, we sat happily around their big oak table, enjoying good food and most importantly, great company. Friendships were forged as conversation flowed. Most importantly, it was a feast to remember.

Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing your feast.

Sammie xx

No part of this post may be reproduced without the written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.

 

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