Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hi, there how are you? In the mood for baking these Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies I hope???

A Tower of Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies - scrumptious
A Tower of Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies – scrumptious.

These cookies deserve some serious (only kidding!!) respect.  They are sugary crisp on the outside and gooey, meltingly, chocolately on the inside.  This is THE cookie you have been waiting for – and you didn’t even know it!!!

See I told you!! That's a large ice cream scoop - lost amongst the Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies (bet it would be nice to be that scoop??!!).
See I told you!! That’s a large ice cream scoop – lost amongst the Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies (bet it would be nice to be that scoop??!!).

I can honestly say I’ve never wanted to be an ice cream scoop before – but there’s a first time ……

That's only 8 cookies people - nearly as tall as the Eiffel Tower (artistic license allowed!!)
That’s only 8 cookies people – nearly as tall as the Eiffel Tower (artistic license allowed!!)

Did I mention that these are Giant  Chocolate Chip Cookies – oh I did and you want me to get on with the recipe – fair enough: here goes!!

Recipe:  This recipe makes 14-16 Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies.

225g/8oz  Light Brown Sugar

150g/5oz  Unsatled Butter

1  Large Egg +

1  Large Egg Yolk

2 tsp  Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Salt – free flowing

275g/10oz  Plain White Flour

1/2 tsp  Sodium Bicarbonate.

400g/14oz  Chocolate Chunks/Chips

Method :

Preheat the oven to 170C (160C fan).

In a large, microwave proof bowl, add the butter and sugar.  Place in the microwave and heat until the butter is just starting to melt : it’s very hard to give exact timings here, as it depends how cold your butter is to start, what power (wattage) your microwave is etc.  The only advice I would give is to heat it slowly, on medium.  Once butter melts in a microwave it starts to spit and bubble.  Whilst this is going to have a small impact in your recipe, it’s a real pain to have to clean out the microwave, mid baking, before the butter sets hard.  Just trying to help!!

Next get whisking and I mean you really do need an electric whisk for this.  I made these cookies a fair few times before I realised the importance of really whisking the butter and sugar together properly and then again when you add the egg, extra yolk and vanilla extract. Bi have absolutely no idea why it makes such a difference, but it does and so much for the better!

The whisked butter and sugar, ready to be whisked again with the egg and vanilla.
The whisked butter and sugar, ready to be whisked again with the egg and vanilla.
Lovely fluffy, whipped eggs/butter/sugar and vanilla - almost doubled in size.
Lovely fluffy, whipped eggs/butter/sugar and vanilla – almost doubled in size.

Whisking the eggs and vanilla extract into the butter/sugar mixture for a good 5 minutes makes all the difference to the finished cookie.

Now sift in the flour/bicarb and salt.  Then add the chocolate (I used Milk Chocolate Chunks – you may use whichever chocolate you prefer!!).  Using a spoon gently fold all the dry ingredients, including the chocolate  chunks into the whisked mixture.  I’ve found the cookie dough comes together very easily.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough - yummeeeee!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough – yummeeeee!

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (I’m sorry I just don’t get along with greaseproof paper, it always sticks!!).  Then using a large, spring operated ice cream scoop ( see 1st photo! ), proceed to scoop out 4 portions if cookie dough, well spaced apart, on each sheet.  Using damp hands, slightly flatten the dome top of each unbaked  cookie. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the biscuits have a sugary, crackled sheen, turning golden and are starting to set.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minute before placing each cookie on a baking rack.

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Then proceed as before to bake the rest of the Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies – or make smaller cookies: take a golf ball sized piece of cookie dough, roll into a ball in you hands, place on the lined baking sheet and press down lightly as before.  Bake for approx 15 minutes.  The cookie dough left, yielded 13 smaller (but NOT small) cookies.

The second batch of smaller, Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies - now there's a contradiction!
The second batch of smaller, Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies – now there’s a contradiction!

I had soooo much fun making these cookies.  The recipe was originally inspired by Nigella (thank you Ms Lawson) but I’ve adapted it over time and it is absolutely, one hundred per cent, our children’s and my Nieces favourite cookie that I bake – like ever!!!

A Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie with 2 not so smaller ones!
A Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie with 2 not so smaller ones!

The very best part of making these cookies is sharing them.  Children and the young at heart love being treated to a Supersize cookie (as the sugar content is quite a bit higher than my other cookie recipes, these don’t get baked very often – see I am a responsible mum – almost!!).

I hope that you give these Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies a try and enjoy sharing them and revelling in the smiles you see!

Sammie x

 

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Valentines Day – what Love means to me.

Hello, how are you today?  I’d like to share a few thoughts about tomorrow – Valetines Day.

Pretty swirly heart design.
Pretty swirly heart design.

Valentines Day, for me, is not about cards, flowers and all the other little love touches that surround the day – as pretty, appreciated and adorable as they are.  For me Valentines Day is a gentle reminder, to show all the people in my life that I am blessed to love, that I DO indeed love and appreciate them.

A beautiful rose, blooming in the rain!
A beautiful rose, blooming in the rain!

My hubby and I have always taught our, not so lil children, that love is a doing word.  For me a cup of tea in bed, a thank you for an every day task, 5 minutes just snuggling with my homework laden babies, fills my love tank.  There are literally thousands of ways they show us, as parents, that they love us – and I love that!!

Don't worry, I've got your back x x x
Don’t worry, I’ve got your back x x x

As a family we watch out for each other.  Making time in our fast paced 24/7 world says, you are important to me.  We aren’t perfect, but we are trying.  Recently during our eldest daughter’s exams, her younger sister bought her a little something (usually chocolate – the universal language of love with teenage girls, in fact most girls!!) for everyday she had an exam.  She was showing her big sis love, telling her how proud she was of her and recognising how hard she had worked.  That no matter what, she would always be there for her.  As a mum my heart melted.

Taking time to paint/decorate someone's nails is FUN and shows you love them!!
Taking time to paint/decorate someone’s nails is FUN and shows you love them!!

Our lil man gets up before everyone else at the weekend and feeds our cat and dog.  A small act of love that means we get a lay-in!  My gorgeous hubby brings me a cup of tea, in bed each morning through the work week, I feel loved.  When I have a rotten migraine he holds back my hair, if I’m being sick, I KNOW I am loved.

I married my best friend x x x
I married my best friend x x

I have said before that I enjoy cooking for other people, especially as a way of showing them that they are loved, appreciated, valued and important in my life.  This is not restricted to our immediate family of 5, but our parents, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews and honorary family members.  It’s nice to feel special but it’s AMAZING to make someone feel loved.

One of my favourite ways to show love!
One of my favourite ways to show love!

So I guess what I’m saying is that, true love is in the giving and receiving.  When God created Adam, He said “It is not good for man to be alone” and created Eve, from Adam as his helpmate/partner/wife/friend. He gave Adam a person to love – not just God himself.

Heart tree
Heart tree X

So while I love the opportunity to whip up a batch of heart shaped shortbread for family and loved ones on Valentines Day and cook a special dinner for us as a family, really I see Valentines Day as a reminder, to me, to be more loving, show more affection (I’m not really the most ‘cuddly person’) but others are, so I’m working on that. I prefer to do the giving rather than receiving, but others want to show me their love too!  Love is not fixed. It’s adapting to others needs whilst still retaining a sense of who you are – cos that’s why you’re loved!!

So Happy Valentines Day to you all.
So Happy Valentines Day to you all.

I wish everyone of you a Happy Valentines Day, where, no matter how hard you try, you are loved more than you love.  May your Valentines Day be showered by little hearts of love, may you KNOW the truest love of all – Jesus. Let your heart be filled with His Love, Mercy, Forgiveness, Grace and Life, that you too can say, for sure “I am loved, just as I am”.

Love Sammie xx

 

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Lovin Bloglovin’ and Pintrest

Hi there, how are you today? I’m finally on some social media websites! And I’m Lovin Bloglovin’ and Pinterest!

If you've got a blog you need some Bloglovin'
If you’ve got a blog you need some Bloglovin’

It’s a great social community/networking site, where you can only join if you have a blog.  You are then able to search other blogs, by category – for example : Food and Drink, Lifestyle, Beauty, Animals amongst many others.

I stumbled across Bloglovin’ whilst searching for other blog sites that were  food/recipe based.  Bloglovin’ seems to have a really positive vibe – lots of encouragement and replies to comments.  A really good, supportive community.  So I joined and I can now be found as ‘Sammie’ on Bloglovin’.

 

Me on Bloglovin'.  As well as my blogs you can see who I follow, what recipes I have saved etc.
Me on Bloglovin’. As well as my blogs you can see who I follow, what recipes I have saved etc.

 

Also I’ve got myself on Pinterest @sammiefeasting.  This is another great site, where you can create boards (a bit like designers have mood boards), of all your favourite things.  So for me, I can pin photos of my love of nature, this world and our universe.  Recipes, colours, shoes (I’m a girl!!!) absolutely anything.  It’s good fun and a way of showing more of who you are, as a person through pictures.

I have to say it is a bit addictive – I never tire of looking at snow scenes or cute animals, so I limit how much time I spend ‘pinning’.  I use it as a brilliant source of inspiration, not just for cooking/baking, but colours, textures, light – oooh look I’m getting all creative now!!!!

Definitely worth taking a look at though!

Find an image/quote/photo you like, create a board and Pin it!!!
Find an image/quote/photo you like, create a board and Pin it!!!

Some of my boards on Pintrest!

Each board gets a different title and has a variety of images pinned to it - I love my 'Just Cos' board!
Each board gets a different title and has a variety of images pinned to it – I love my ‘Just Cos’ board!

I hope you get a chance to check out both sites. They are full of inspiration and most importantly FUN!!

Sammie x

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Nutella and Hazelnut Covered Chocolate Marble Cake

Hi there, I hope there is something in your day today that makes you smile.  I’m definitely smiling because I’ve made this luscious, moist Nutella and Hazelnut Covered Chocolate Marble Cake!

Nutella and Hazelnut covered, light and moist, Chocolate Marble Cake.
Nutella and Hazelnut covered, light and moist, Chocolate Marble Cake.

Yep I’m back to baking, after being out of action for a few weeks with horrid Migraines – soooo frustrating, painful and boring – but today I did it.  I finally got to remake the cake that I teased you about (see Teasers!!!) and as Nutella has been on special offer, I won’t get blasted by the children, for depleting their Nutella supply!!!

Chocolate and Vanilla Cake Swirled together. Seriously luscious!
Chocolate and Vanilla Cake Swirled together. Seriously luscious!

I will be totally honest, the only other time I made this cake, I ate it 3 days in a row for lunch!! Something about the moistness of the cake, the Nutella topping and roasted hazelnuts just got me, good and proper!!

I should mention, given the number of times I’ve mentioned Nutella, that this is not a paid promotion.  It’s just Nutella is such an easy frosting for a cake and this particular combo is especially yummy.

Recipe :  Makes one 9 inch cake.

12oz/350g  White Caster Sugar

12oz/350g  Unsalted Butter – room temp

1/4tsp  Salt – I use Kosher (additive free)

2tsp  Vanilla Extract

6  Large Eggs – pref free range

240mls/8fl oz  Buttermilk

12oz/350g  White Self Raising Flour

3oz/75g  Cocoa Powder

5-6  Heaped Tablespoons of Nutella

4oz/100g  Blanched Hazelnuts

Method :

Preheat the oven to 170C (155C fan).

Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl and cream together using an electric whisk (or stand mixer with paddle attachment). This actually takes a good 5 mins to get a really pale, light and fluffy mixture (so unless you want a thorough workout I don’t suggest you do this by hand!!).

Pale and fluffy!!
Pale and fluffy!!

Next add the vanilla extract, salt and 1 egg. Whisk until combined.  Then continuing to whisk gradually add the rest of the eggs, slowly, one at a time, until they have all been added.  If it looks like your mixture is going to curdle -DON’T PANIC!!- add one tablespoon of Self Raising Flour and the mixture will come back together.  Now sigh with relief!!!’

All eggs added and no curdling - I added a tablespoon of flour, just in case!!!
All eggs added and no curdling – I added a tablespoon of flour, just in case!!!

Add the flour and partly mix in, then add the buttermilk (it’s worth giving the container a good shake, as the buttermilk can settle).  Complete the mixing, by folding in the part blended flour mixture and the buttercream.  Watch in amazement as the batter takes on a mousse like consistency!

This St Ivel buttermilk is the only one I could find!
This St Ivel buttermilk is the only one I could find!
A lovely mousse type batter, that is really light and airy - and easy to stir!!
A lovely mousse type batter, that is really light and airy – and easy to stir!!

If my batter looks a bit pinky/orange, it’s  because the eggs I used had very orange yolks!!

In a separate bowl (I suggest that you use a larger one than I did!!!) add the cocoa powder.  Place half of your vanilla cake batter on top of the cocoa and whisk until blended – I did try mixing by hand, but it was hopeless as the bowl was too small!

Cocoa.
Cocoa.
Place half the batter mixture on top.
Place half the batter mixture on top.
And whisk!!!
And whisk!!!

This chocolate batter tastes yummy!

Next, in a buttered and parchment lined (only on the base) 9 inch, springform cake pan, it’s time to get creative with dolloping your two cake batters.

First I dolloped chocolate cake batter.
First I dolloped chocolate cake batter.
Then I added vanilla..,
Then I added vanilla..,
Finishing with the rest of the chocolate.
Finishing with the rest of the chocolate.

Then using a butter knife I swirled the two batters together.  What you’re aiming for is a rippled effect – but there’s no precise way to do it – just don’t get carried away over swirling, as you’ll end up mixing the two batters together!

Swirling finished, now level off the cake top.
Swirling finished, now level off the cake top.

Place the cake in the preheated oven and bake for an hour.  The cake is cooked when it is firm to touch and does not wobble underneath the set top.  You can also insert a skewer, when it comes out clean the cake is cooked.

Put the cooked cake, still in it’s tin onto a baking rack and leave to cool, in it’s tin for 15 minutes.  After 15 mins unclip the springform tin and remove the tin, leaving the cake on the tin base to cool.

Don't worry if there are a few cracks on the top. These will close as the cake cools.
Don’t worry if there are a few cracks on the top. These will close as the cake cools.

Whilst the cake is cooling, lightly toast the hazelnuts.  Place the hazelnuts into a dry frying pan and toast over a high heat for approx. 5 minutes.  Toasting the hazelnuts brings out the wonderful oils and flavour. Once the hazelnuts are toasted remove from the pan and place in a bowl to cool.

Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan over a high heat.
Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan over a high heat.
Once toasted the hazelnuts turn a gorgeous golden colour.
Once toasted the hazelnuts turn a gorgeous golden colour.

As I mentioned, any cracks in the top of the cake will close on cooling, but don’t worry, the top is going to be covered in Nutella!!!!!  Yummy!

Place the cake on a cake stand/board or plate.  Place 5-6 tablespoons of Nutella onto the top of the cake.  Spread the Nutella over the top of the cake right up to the edges – I used an off set spatula to do this.

Sorry, you do have to spread the Nutella as it doesn't set.
Sorry, you do have to spread the Nutella as it doesn’t set.
Nutella is so easy to spread!
Nutella is so easy to spread!
Oooh scrummy, this Nutella covered cake looks ready to eat - but we can add a final touch!
Oooh scrummy, this Nutella covered cake looks ready to eat – but we can add a final touch!

Time to get creative with the toasted hazelnuts!  You can place them randomly or in a pattern on top of the Nutella.  Once finished you finally have a Nutella and Hazelnut Covered Chocolate Marble Cake.

Nutella and Hazelnut Covered Chocolate Marble Cake.
Nutella and Hazelnut Covered Chocolate Marble Cake.

So scrumptious looking and the perfect cake for sharing.  Also the Nutella doesn’t set so invite a friend/neighbour round, or the whole family and pop the kettle on.  This cake is ready for slicing, so enjoy!

Remember food always tastes better when it’s shared.

Sammie x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Double Chocolate Chunk Mint Cupcakes.

Hi there, I hope you are having a good day and hopefully this recipe for Double Chocolate Chunk Mint Cupcakes will make you smile and encourage you to get baking!!!!

So late (7.30pm – that’s late for me!) the other night, I was in bed and our lil man popped his head round the door and said “Mummy it’s the school bake sale tomorrow.  Do we have anything that I can take in?”.  Looking at me with his angelic, freckled face and gorgeous green eyes, hopeful, expectant.  Mummy’s can sort anything out, at a moments notice – can’t they????

Well of course we can!  Improvisation is one of the most important parenting tools any mum or dad learns.

So, fortunately my cupboards are groaning under the weight of baking ingredients at the mo, due to being unwell over Christmas – see there’s a silver lining to every dark cloud!  If I was going to bake I was definitely going to blog about it.  Only problem with that is, have already posted Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes (chocolate cupcakes guaranteed to sell and make the most money!), I needed a different chocolate recipe.  So I invented a new recipe on the spot – Double Chocolate Chunk Mint Cupcakes!

They look and taste soooo good!
Double Chocolate Chunk Mint Cupcakes. They look and taste soooo good!

Given my desire to get back to bed ASAP I decided not to frost these cupcakes. Sprinkling each individual cupcake top with chopped up crunchy after dinner mints turned out better than I hoped for.  The crunchy mint chocolate shards didn’t melt, or lose their shape and once cooled provided an excellent topping in itself!  Ditching the frosting also made it much easier for my lil man to transport these scrumptious (WHAT?? – of course we had to try them!!!) cupcakes to school.

Recipe : Makes 33-36 Cupcakes

1lb/450g  Unsalted Butter – at room temp

1lb/450g  Light Soft Brown Sugar

8 Eggs – Large, room temp – pref free range

2tsp. Vanilla Extract

1tsp. Peppermint Extract

1/4tsp. Salt – I use Kosher (free flowing and additive free)

12oz/350g White Self Raising Flour

4oz/100g  Cocoa Powder

8oz/225g  Milk Chocolate Chunks (or chips)

4oz/100g  Dark Mint Chocolate

Method :

Preheat oven to 190C (175C fan).

Place the butter and sugar into a large bowl and whisk (using an electric whisk, or beater paddle in a stand mixer) until completely combined (this is called creaming) and light and fluffy in texture.

A mix of sugars. Dark and light brown and white caster - it was late and it was the best I could do!!!!
A mix of sugars. Dark and light brown and white caster – it was late and it was the best I could do!!!!
It all whisked up beautifully - breathed sigh of relief!!!!
It all whisked up beautifully – breathes sigh of relief!!!!

Add the vanilla/peppermint extracts and the salt. Whisk in thoroughly.  Now add the eggs, one at a time, whisking between each addition – I break each egg into a separate bowl before adding it to the mixture –  it helps keep any errant eggshell out of the batter.  If the eggs are at room temp then the batter shouldn’t curdle, however, if it does start to curdle just add 1 tablespoon of your flour and the mixture will come back together again.

All 8 eggs whisked in and no curdling! I was relieved.
All 8 eggs whisked in and no curdling! I was relieved.

Next sift in the flour and cocoa powder.  Fold this in using a spoon/spatula, using a gentle figure-of-eight movement rotating the bowl to ensure the flour/cocoa become fully incorporated. The idea is to keep the mixture light and not lose too much of the trapped air from the whisked in eggs.

Add the milk chocolate chunks and fold these into the Cupcake batter so they are evenly distributed.

This mixture looks, smells and tastes scrumptious!
This mixture looks, smells and tastes scrumptious!

Line you cupcake/muffin tin with cupcake cases and using an ice cream scoop, fill the  cases 3/4 full (one scoop full).  Remember I’m not frosting these cupcakes so I want them to have a nice rounded top!

Ready....
Ready….
Squeeze.....
Squeeze…..
Plop! The exact amount of batter drops into the cupcake case - brilliant - and quick - and much less messy than using 2 spoons!
Plop! The exact amount of batter drops into the cupcake case – brilliant – and quick – and much less messy than using 2 spoons!

Sprinkle the crunchy, dark mint chocolate shards over the top of each uncooked cupcake, pushing slightly into the batter.

Ready for the oven!
Ready for the oven!

Bake the cupcakes for 15-20 mins depending on your oven.  I usually test if cupcakes are cooked by lightly pressing in the middle and if it springs back it’s cooked.   I DON’T suggest you do this – I did, forgetting there would be melted chocolate on the top – OUCH!!  So, when the Double Chocolate Chunk Mint Cupcakes are risen, with a nice dome shape, lightly press the SIDE of the cupcake top.  If firm remove the cupcakes from the oven, if it’s still a bit sticky and wobbly, leave them in the oven for 3-5 minutes until firm and then remove.

Leave to cool for a good 5 minutes before removing to cool on a baking rack.
Leave to cool for a good 5 minutes before removing to cool on a baking rack.

If you’ve only got a couple of cupcake tins you can pop them on the garden bench to speed up the cooling process, so you can decant the cupcakes, wash the tins, get the next batch in the oven and get back to bed!!!!

Come on babies, cool quickly please?
Come on babies, cool quickly please?

When the cupcakes are all cool, pack into an airtight container, cupcake box for school bake sale or place one on a plate pour a glass of milk and take it up to bed to enjoy!!!!

All Double Chocolate Chunk Mint Cupcakes were sold out in 2 minutes the next day, raising £10 for the charity Mencap!!!

The fun bits……..

Who needs a dishwasher......
Who needs a dishwasher……
When you have chocolate loving children
When you have chocolate loving children

You could easily halve this recipe, should you not have a cake sale to bake for, or, here’s a thought – use the recipe, as is, and surprise someone with a tin/box/plateful of scrummy cupcakes!!

Remember Food Tastes Better When It’s Shared. Happy Feasting!

Sammie x

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Crunchy Seeded Bread

Hi there, thank you for stopping by.  This Loaf of Crunchy Seeded Bread is seriously scrumptious! It simply tastes amazing. Each mouthful filled with the taste of fresh bread, poppy, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds. It has to be tasted to be believed!!

Golden, crunchy, seeded bread.
Golden, crunchy, seeded bread.

I mixed and proved this loaf in my bread maker, but I will show you how to make this Crunchy Seeded Bread using a stand mixer and by hand as well.  This really is a super easy recipe.

Recipe : Makes a small, approx 1lb loaf

260ml  Water – tepid

7g  Sachet Dried Yeast

1tbsp  Runny Honey

450g/1lb  White Flour

4tbsp  Mixed Seed (I used a mixture of poppy, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin)

1tbsp  Unsalted Butter – plus extra for greasing the loaf tin

1/2tsp  Salt – I use Kosher, free flowing

Method :

Bowl – refers to bread maker tin, stand mixer bowl or large bowl for hand mixing.

Place the water, yeast and honey into the bowl.  Swish around with clean fingers to mix.  Add the flour, butter and salt. Do not add any seeds yet.

If using a bread maker set to mix and prove.

If using a stand mixer, attach a dough hook, mix for 10 minutes.  Remove dough and place in a buttered bowl cover in cling film and leave until doubled in size (1-2 hours).

If hand mixing, bring all the ingredients together with your hand.  Place on a very lightly floured worktop.  Knead for a good 10 minutes.  If the dough gets sticky, keep kneading and working it – if you add extra flour the finished bread will be dry.  After a good 10 minutes kneading, the dough should have a smooth elasticity.  Place the kneaded dough into a buttered bowl, cover in cling film and leave until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.

Knock back the dough by gently punching the risen dough.  Add 3 tbsp of the mixed seeds and knead into the dough – in the bowl, until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough, (if using a bread machine I always pop it back on a quick mix cycle for 2 mins add 3tbsp of seeds so they mix and distribute evenly through the dough).

Turn the seeded bread dough out onto a lightly floured work top. Stretch the dough out and fold each end (a third of the dough) back into the centre. Turn the dough by a quarter and repeat. Turn and repeat the folding twice more (4 times in total).  This builds structure into your loaf.

Into a buttered 2lb (8″Lx 4″W x 5″D) place your shaped loaf.  Lightly brush the surface with water and sprinkle over the remaining tablespoon of mixed seeds, pressing them lightly into the top of the dough.

Cover with a clean cotton tea towel and place in a draught free place until doubled in size – 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan).

Place the proved dough into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.  The bread should be a dark golden brown and sound hollow when knocked, with your knuckle in the base.  I actually turn my loaf straight out into the oven rack to crisp up the base whilst I quickly wash the loaf tin up – CAREFUL THE TIN IS VERY HOT!!

Remove the Crunchy Seeded Bread from the oven, remove from the tin (if not already done) and place on a cooling rack.

Breathe in deeply.  It doesn’t matter how many times I bake bread, the smell is amazing!!

Now you have to wait until the loaf is cooled, or only just warm. If you try to cut through the bread when it’s hot it’ll just go squishy.  It’s worth the wait – I promise!

Bring me butter and jam - NOW!!!
Bring me butter and jam – NOW!!!

Allowing the bread to cool makes the crumb lighter and helps the loaf keep it’s shape.

 

Toasting takes this bread to another level!!
Toasting takes this bread to another level!!

Yummy, scrummy a big bite for my rumbly tummy!

You have to taste this to believe it!
You have to taste this to believe it!

This Crunchy Seeded Bread is perfect for toast ( I know I said that about Oat White Bread – I can have two favourites?!), dunking in soup, eating with Chilli – in fact this bread is perfect for any occasion which requires bread!  So I guess you could call this a  maintenance loaf – perfect for feasting and sharing!

For other bread recipes you might like these?

Wholemeal Cob Loaf   Bread Baked The Easy Way                                               Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia Bread 

 

Sammie x

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Raspberry Almond Muffins

Hi there everybody, thanks for stopping by to take a look at these delicious , Raspberry Almond Muffins. Ideal with a mug of steaming coffee for Breakfast, Elevensies, Mid Afternoon Snack, or anytime your tummy rumbles and your next meal is too far away!!

Crunchy flaked almonds hide the moist, raspberry and almond muffin!
Crunchy flaked almonds hide the moist, raspberry and almond muffin!

What I love about these Raspberry Almond Muffins is they aren’t too sweet, they are proper muffins, dense and moist. Each mouthful filled with the tartness of Fresh Raspberries and the sweet crunch of the flaked Almonds!

Just dive right in. So scrumptious!
Just dive right in. So scrumptious!

This recipe is very easy, you can use fresh or frozen Raspberries (defrosted) and from start to finish these can be made and baked in half an hour!

Recipe : Makes18 Muffins

8 oz:250g  Unsalted Butter – room temp

8 oz/250g  Caster Sugar

4 Large Eggs – pref free range

1/4 tsp  Salt – free flowing (I use Kosher)

1/4tsp  Almond Extract

1 tsp  Vanilla Extract

4 oz/125g  Fresh Raspberries (or frozen raspberries defrosted.

4 oz/125g  Ground Almonds

4 oz/125g. Self Raising White Flour

1/2 tsp  Baking Powder

4 oz/125g  Flaked Almonds

Method : Preheat oven to 175C (160C fan)

Whisk or beat the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy. I used an electric whisk, you’ll see why as you read through the recipe!

Add the eggs slowly, one at a time, until they are fully incorporated in the batter. The eggs MUST be room temp for the mixture not to curdle (curdling makes a slightly heavier muffin/cake ). If the mixture starts to curdle add in a tablespoon of your flour, whisk away and watch as your mixture comes, beautifully together again!

Next add the salt, vanilla and almond extracts and half of your raspberries (along with any juice, if using defrosted, frozen raspberries). Whisk until thoroughly combined and enjoy the pretty, natural pink colour!!

Oh, just wait - pink is just a whisk away!!!!
Oh, just wait – pink is just a whisk away!!!!

Now add the ground almonds, flour and baking powder.

That pink's so pretty- oh did I already mention that????
That pink’s so pretty- oh did I already mention that????

I now switch to a spoon and finish mixing the batter by hand. Using the folding technique I mix until the batter is just combined.

So pretty and yummy, I just couldn't resist a taste!!
So pretty and yummy, I just couldn’t resist a taste!!

Place 18 Muffin/Cupcake cases in Muffin tins.  Then using an ice cream scoop (or 2 spoons) fill each Muffin case with a scoopful of Raspberry and Almond Muffin batter (if using spoons fill the cases halfway).

An ice cream scoop provides just the right amount of batter!
An ice cream scoop provides just the right amount of batter!
Using a scoop fills the cases in next to no time!
Using a scoop fills the cases in next to no time!

For the final finish, pop a raspberry (or two – depending how many you have) on the top of each mound of batter.

They look a bit like noses!!!
They look a bit like noses!!!

Next evenly sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of the uncooked Muffins, very gently pressing them into the batter.

When cooked the flaked almonds will hide the tart, crimson raspberry beneath!!
When cooked the flaked almonds will hide the tart, crimson raspberry beneath!!

Place the muffin tins into the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if they turn a darker, golden colour than vanilla cupcakes – these Muffins have whole Raspberries whisked into a batter that is 50% ground Almonds  (instead of 100% flour) the darker colour means they’re cooked!!!

So pretty and yummy, you just have to share these!
So pretty and yummy, you just have to share these!

Gorgeous, crunchy on the outside, soft and moist inside. The perfect balance of sweet and tart.

Definitely feasting food, made to share!

 

 

 

 

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Showing Sharing Loving Caring

Hi everyone how are you? I hope you are enjoying the start to 2015.  My theme and aim for this year is Showing Sharing Loving Caring. It’s really the essence of why I set up this blog. Showing Love through Sharing, Caring enough to spend time, whether it’s family, friends, neighbours or someone new.

I know for some however, that  Christmas, the New Year and Winter in general can be a really tough time. So wherever you are I’m sending you a big, warm hug. Life can be very tough and it’s during these tough times that we need to show love and be shown love more than ever.

Now I can’t physically visit every single person and sit, listen and spend time with them. But we can all take time to show love to one person, outside of our family and friendship group.

Am I freaking you out or scaring you yet? Yes. Good!!! We can all get comfortable in our own lives, which I  do understand are busier than ever. Even though we have time saving gadgets galore, we still live in a ‘time pressed’ society.

It is still our choice though how we spend our time, what we prioritise as important and those things that are less important. For me my life has no meaning if I don’t show love. That can mean spending time listening whilst someone unburdens their heart. Or no words, just a big warm hug. I also love to cook or bake for people.

Sharing is central to who I am. Once I made a very simple Victoria Sponge Cake for an elderly couple, one of whom had just spent time in hospital. Their faces broke into huge smiles at this surprise gift, but more importantly they felt loved and cared for.

Reach out, you may be surprised by the results!
Reach out, you may be surprised by the results!

I’m most definitely not trying to portray myself as some perfect Saint. I am a pretty normal, fun loving, individual – just like so many other people. So I really want to encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and reach out to just one person, who you wouldn’t normally interact with.

A cup of tea, cookie and natter can become a feast. A feast of time! There is no greater gift, than the gift of love. As a Christian I have the gift of love inside me. God’s love. He has shown me limitless love through His Son JESUS. I am completely accepted and loved for who I am and because of that great love, I want to share love.

We can all have the love of Jesus in our lives – see ‘Important Stuff!!!’ for more information and help, you can also leave a comment (I can reply and do not have to publish your comment if you preference privacy).

I am very blessed to have a wonderful, loving family, the best friends anyone could ever hope for and I love them all. One of my favourite things is a family get together, where we always have the best feasts! Not only do we feast on delicious food, but also on each other’s company. We laugh, smile, share and love.

Feasting does not have to be in large groups. Sharing a bowl of soup with a lonely neighbour, can itself be a feast. How about inviting someone who is on their own for Sunday lunch? Or, slicing up a cake that is left over from a celebration and popping a slice or two round to your neighbours?

Having fun making my pics look pretty!
Having fun making my pics look pretty!

The excitement and sense of fun, before delivering a meal or slice of cake is priceless. You can have all the money you need, but it will never bring you the happiness and peace that sharing caring and loving bring.

So I encourage both you and myself to be greater at sharing and showing love during 2015. Your life will be enriched as you start Showing Sharing Loving Caring and of course Feasting and having Fun.

Sammie x

 

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Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns

Hi there, how are you today?  These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are so easy to make and are perfect for weekend breakfast with a large mug of Coffee!  They truly define the meaning of Lazy Weekend Breakfast Feasting.

Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns www.feastingisfun.com
Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns www.feastingisfun.com

Obviously, you don’t have to restrict eating these at breakfast time or just at the weekend – although, as scrummy as they are, I wouldn’t recommend having them everyday! These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are treats, in fact I had them for my birthday brekkie last year (& that was mid week!).

This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself.  After following her recipe a few times I fiddled with it a bit.  The buns were scrummy, but I wanted Pecan nuts inside my buns and preferred the use of Sultanas.  I also changed the ratio of ingredients, as I changed from American cup measures to Metric weight.  I was extremely pleased with the results, I hope you will be to and this easy recipe will inspire you to have a go at making these buns!

Pecan Sultana Sticky Buns www.feastingisfun.com
Pecan Sultana Sticky Buns www.feastingisfun.com

Firstly, I should say that these Sticky Sultana Pecan Buns are made upside down!  That is, they are very similar, in method, to an upside down cake – meaning that you place a brown sugar/butter mixture along with Pecan nuts into the bottom of a deep muffin/cupcake tin, place the buns in top and then when cooked turn the buns out so the bottom of the bun becomes the top!

Don’t worry!  It’s not as confusing as it sounds and I am ALWAYS amazed that the buns turn out perfectly, they never stick and always look so impressive for such little effort.  In fact it really is a Ta Dah moment (I imagine a drumroll in my head!) that never ceases to amaze me and I always end up with a huge smile on my face!

Just a quick note : A proper deep muffin/cupcake tin must be used for this recipe.  A bun/fairy cake tin is too shallow, not only will it be too small for your buns, but you’ll also end up with butter dripping all over your oven.  I also place a baking sheet, a little larger than my cupcake tin, on the rack below, just in case any butter bubbles up and drips over – soo much easier to clean than the whole oven!!

Recipe : Makes 12 Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns

For the Topping:

150g/5oz  Butter – unsalted and softened

75g/3oz Light, Soft Brown Sugar

100g/4oz Pecan Nuts – roughly chopped

For the Buns :

450g/1lb Pack Shop Bought All Butter Puff Pastry

1tbsp  Butter – melted

1 1/2tsp  Cinnamon

150g/5oz Light, Soft Brown Sugar

250g/9oz  Sultanas

100g/4oz Pecan Nuts – roughly chopped

Method :

Preheat the oven to 200C (185C fan).

Firstly, for the topping of the buns mix the softened butter and sugar until well combined.

Using a teaspoon (not a teaspoon measure) scoop 1/2 a teaspoon of the butter/sugar mixture and place into the bottom of the muffin tin, repeating 11 more times.

1/2 a teaspoon is just enough!
1/2 a teaspoon is just enough!
Each muffin cup has a dollop of the sugar/butter mixture!
Each muffin cup has a dollop of the sugar/butter mixture!

Next, divide the 100g of Pecan nuts between each of the muffin cups, placing them on top of the sugar/butter mixture.  Remember, although this is going into the bottom of the tin, when turned out this will become the topping of the Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns!

The Pecan nuts become caramelised, golden and sticky during cooking. Yummy!!
The Pecan nuts become caramelised, golden and sticky during cooking. Yummy!!

Now for the Buns :

Lightly dust the worktop with plain, white flour.  Roll out the all butter puff pastry, with a floured rolling pin. You need a square shape that is approx 34 x 34cm.

All butter pastry really is essential as it adds to the flaky, buttery flavour of the buns.
All butter pastry really is essential as it adds to the flaky, buttery flavour of the buns.

Next, trim the top and bottom of the pastry square and brush with the melted butter.  Then sprinkle the sugar evenly over the whole of the square.

Don't worry about the odd few lumps in the sugar, they'll just add to the stickiness of the buns!!
Don’t worry about the odd few lumps in the sugar, they’ll just add to the stickiness of the buns!!

Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly over the sugar layer.

The smell of cinnamon fills the house when these buns are baking.
The smell of cinnamon fills the house when these buns are baking.

Now you can sprinkle firstly the Sultanas and the the chopped Pecan nuts, so they cover the pastry evenly.

Nice and evenly spread, now it's time to get a-rolling!!!
Nice and evenly spread, now it’s time to get a-rolling!!!

Starting at the front edge of the pastry, evenly roll over the edge of the pastry, tucking it under itself ( not too tightly). Then proceed to roll until you have a log shape, with the join underneath.

A nice even roll along the front edge of the pastry.
A nice even roll along the front edge of the pastry.
Keep rolling so the pastry is an even log shape.
Keep rolling so the pastry is an even log shape.
Trim the side edges of the log.
Trim the side edges of the log.

Next, using a sharp knife, mark the middle of the log. Then mark each half of the log in the middle. Now divide each marked section into 3 separate pieces. You should now have 12 buns!

Use a very sharp knife to slice through each section - so you get a nice clean edge to each bun.
Use a very sharp knife to slice through each section – so you get a nice clean edge to each bun.

Carefully place each bun, cut side up, on top of the butter/sugar/Pecan mixture in the muffin tin. Squish a little bit if needed and don’t worry if a little of the filling falls out in transit, you can always pop errant Pecans and Sultanas into any gaps once all the buns are in the muffin tin!

All ready to be popped into the preheated oven.
All ready to be popped into the preheated oven.

Place the tin into a preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. The Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are cooked when the pastry is golden and puffed.

Ooh yummy! But be careful, they will come out of oven very hot.
Ooh yummy! But be careful, they will come out of oven very hot.

I just love to watch them bubbling and breath in their cinnamon scent when they first come out of the oven – it’s the little things in life that give me most pleasure!!!!!

Wait a few (3 ish but no longer than 5) minutes, then wearing oven gloves place a baking sheet (that is at least the same size as your muffin tin) over the top of the muffin tin and turn over. I promise the buns will drop out! Remove the muffin tin and stare in amazement at your gorgeous Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns– all 12 of them!! See I told you, they really are easy and they turn out every single time.

Perfectly turned out Sticky Pecan and Sultana Buns.
Perfectly turned out Sticky Pecan and Sultana Buns.

Leave to cool – remember all that bubbling and sizzling was butter and sugar boiling very hot!!

Serve warm with nothing but a hot drink of your choice, sit back, relax and smile!

These Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns are perfect for breakfast, brunch, mid afternoon coffee. I think these are at their most delicious shared with friends & family who unexpectedly pop round! These are best served warm, so pop in a 140C oven whilst the kettle boils and serve with a steaming cup of coffee and a smile!

These scrummy Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns keep well in an airtight container for up to 5 days. They can also be frozen for up to 1 month. When needed, remove from freezer, place on a baking sheet and allow to defrost (this doesn’t take long 1-2 hrs depending on the room temperature), refresh and warm in a 180C oven for 5 minutes and serve.

Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns www.feastingisfun.com
Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns www.feastingisfun.com

I really hope that you give the Sticky Pecan Sultana Buns a try as not only are they easy to make, they are scrumptious and everyone who tries them has a big smile on their face!!!

Sammie x

 

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Fun!!

Hi there.  I hope that you are having a good day?  I’ve been pondering why, as people, we have fun? What makes popping bubble wrap feel sooo good and is so much fun to do?  Why, as fully grown adults, do we wrap up and run outside, in the middle of Winter, as soon as there’s a dusting of snow on the ground?  Then we rush to the top of the nearest hill, sit on a piece of plastic or metal and spend an entire day sliding down, walking up, sliding down, walking up –  you get the picture – and we thoroughly enjoy ourselves? Why do we need fun in our lives?

Great fun was had building this snowman!'n
Great fun was had building this snowman!’n

I can quite clearly remember the very first time our eldest daughter laughed. She laughed at something on the TV (not me or her Dad!!!!).  It was an amazing moment.  This beautiful baby girl finding fun and laughing.

Why do we laugh harder and longer at something when we are in the company of others who are laughing too?  Why do we find things funny in the first place?

Our cat was chasing his tail the other day. Every time he caught it, he gave it a lick, sat down, noticed his tail again, like it was something he had never, in his life seen before and then proceeded to turn round and round chasing it again!! It was hilarious. Our whole family were laughing at this silly, grey, pussy cat chasing his tail. I’m not sure if the cat was having fun, but we certainly were watching him!!

Our poor cat dressed up in Reindeer Antlers!!!
Our poor cat dressed up in Reindeer Antlers!!!

My hubby and I got together at a ‘Bad Taste’ fancy dress party.  He in the widest flared trousers I’d ever seen and me in red & black striped tights under some hideous hot pants!  You can imagine (or maybe you’d rather not – that’s fine) we weren’t looking our best. Yet we were having fun, looking silly!

Our lil man running with his kite - there was not a single breeze in the air - but he was having FUN!
Our lil man running with his kite – there was not a single breeze in the air – but he was having FUN!

I often look at butterflies, sunsets, twinkling stars in the night sky and wonder why I find such beauty in them? If I evolved, what purpose does beauty like this have? The same can be said of fun.  Why are we all different, finding beauty in different places and laughing at different things?

"Hey dudes, I'm totally rockin these shades!" Bud on 6 hour car journey. She's one cool cat - I mean dog!!
“Hey dudes, I’m totally rockin these shades!”
Bud on 6 hour car journey. She’s one cool cat – I mean dog!!

Jesus went for a boat ride with some of His mates, then gets out of the boat and walks on the water.  Whoa seriously fun!  I mean how much fun must that have been, not only that but one of His friends joined Him (there’s no mention of a body, surf or paddle board in the bible – just saying!).

So is this just some anomaly of Evolution?  Sitting on a trampoline whilst someone else bounces away and giggling so much that you beg them to stop, because it’s almost too much fun!! What, if we didn’t evolve – getting radical here – if we were designed, to have fun?

I know that I am a creation of God.  Designed on purpose, made with intent.  There is only one of me and trust me that’s enough!! I am unique.  My hubby and I have 3 gorgeous children who are all completely different.  Surely if we evolved then wouldn’t people be more alike?

God’s Word (the Bible) says that He “knitted us together in our mother’s womb”.  He made us and He made us all uniquely individual. When He made us, He gave us a sense of fun so that we can enjoy our lives.

So have a think about it?  Why do we like to have fun?  Why do we sometimes need to have a good old belly laugh (yes I know it releases endorphins, which in turn make us feel better)?  So yes having fun can be good for us, but it doesn’t explain the desire to have fun.

I hope that what I’ve written causes you to think and makes you smile!  During the coming week I hope that your eyes are opened to the outstanding beauty of this amazing world we live in and see the Creator in His Creation.

Sammie x

 

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