Leek and Potato Soup

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Hi, thanks for stopping bytoday.  I hope you are well?  As for me, I have a rotten sore throat (plus the high temperature etc that go with these horrid virus’). I need soup! Not any old soup, Leek and Potato Soup!  I love this soup, it’s the one thing I can eat when I am feeling unwell and haven’t got an appetite.  When I’m unwell this is what I feast on.

Ooh it's like a hug in a bowl. Yummy x
Ooh it’s like a hug in a bowl. Yummy x Leek and Potato Soup

So I make a big batch of this soup when I’m well, then I freeze it in single portions.  That way if I’m not feeling bril, like today, all I have to do is grab a portion out of the freezer, reheat and eat!

Recipe: Leek and Potato Soup

0.5Kg  Leeks

0.5kg  Potatoes – I’ve used King Edwards, floury potatoes work best in this recipe.

1tsp  Nutmeg – freshly grated

1/2tsp  Sea Salt – I use Maldon

1/2tsp  Black Pepper – freshly ground

1  Vegetable Stock Cube

1  Tbs  Butter – for sautéing leeks

50mls plus a little extra Double Cream

Method :

Place a large, heavy based saucepan on the hob, add the butter and melt on a slow heat.

Trim the top and bottom of the leeks.  Make a slit down the entire length of each leek.  Wash each leek thoroughly under cold water, making sure that any dirt, trapped between the layers, is washed out. (This is best done under a tap of cold running water – or you can chop the leeks, place in a bowl filled with cold water, swish about to dislodge any dirt and drain.)

Chop the leeks into roughly 1/2″ dice.

Add the chopped leeks to the melted butter in the pan.  Then add half of the salt and stir ( the salt will stop the leeks burning).  Sauté the leeks for 5-10 minutes on a medium/low heat until translucent (the dark green parts of the leek won’t change, don’t worry that’s ok!).

Sautéing the green and white parts of the leeks together, gives the finished soup a beautiful, finished colour.
Sautéing the green and white parts of the leeks together, gives the finished soup a beautiful, finished colour.

Whilst the leeks are sautéing peel and chop the potatoes (1″ dice for the potatoes).  Place the prepared potatoes into a bowl and cover with cold water.

Once the leeks are translucent add the potatoes and the water they have been stored in.  Pour over enough recently boiled water, from a kettle, until the potatoes and leeks are completely covered in liquid.

The potatoes added.
The potatoes added.

Turn the heat up and bring to a boil, immediately reduce the heat to a simmer.

Add the stock cube, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Hold back on adding the rest of the salt, stock cubes vary in their saltiness.  Better to add a the salt later, than have an over salted ruined soup!!!

Adding freshly grated nutmeg really enhances the flavour of the soup.
Adding freshly grated nutmeg really enhances the flavour of the soup.

Cook the soup on a gentle simmer for at least an hour.  This slow cooking breaks down the tough fibres found in the dark green tops of the leeks, enhancing not only the colour, but, importantly the flavour of the soup.  I’ve made this soup before leaving it to simmer happily, on a low heat, all morning.  Not only did it taste delicious, the house had a wonderful, welcoming, warm aroma!

When the soup is fully cooked it’s time to blend! There are various ways to do this:  A potato masher can be used to simply ‘mash’ the potatoes and leeks into the liquid.  This will not give the smoothness achieved by using a blender, but creates a wonderful textured soup.

 

An immersion blender is quick and allows you to control the texture of the soup.
An immersion blender is quick and allows you to control the texture of the soup.

I’ve used an immersion blender for my soup.  As can be seen from the photo, make sure you move your pan away from direct heat whilst blending.  The soup is completely blended until super smooth.

Other ways of blending including using a liquidiser or food processor.  I personally would not liquidise the soup until it has cooled.  Whatever you decide, ensure you follow the manufacturers instructions for your appliance.  Just looking out for your safety xx.

When you have your soup at the desired texture, stir in 50mls of double cream.  This makes such a difference.  If you are seriously counting the calories (or are allergic to milk products), check the soup for seasoning and eat as is.  However, I don’t skip the cream stage!!! Once this relatively small amount of cream has been added it enriches the soup, rounds out all of the flavours and takes the soup to a whole other taste experience – basically it’s worth adding the cream!!!!!

It's only 50mls of Double Cream! Go on, you're worth it!!!
It’s only 50mls of Double Cream! Go on, you’re worth it!!!

Then serve yourself up a big bowl, with a little extra swirl of cream, should you desire and enjoy.

Yummy, soothing, smooth, velvety Leek and Potato Soup.
Yummy, soothing, smooth, velvety Leek and Potato Soup.

A warming feast to enjoy in the colder months.  Excellent for soothing sore throats.

This soup freezes very well for up to 3 months.  Pour into single serving, freezer proof plastic containers.  Perfect for sharing if one of your friends or family members fall ill.  Once frozen it is very portable, so a bowlful of homemade soup is just a quick drive away!

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Leek And Potato Soup you may also like these:

Warming Winter Vegetable Soup 

FF Leek And Potato Soup
Warming Winter Vegetable Soup

Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Soup 

FF Leek And Potato Soup
Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Soup

Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup 

FF Leek And Potato Soup
Creamy Low Fat Mushroom Soup

 

See even simple easy soup can be shared.

Sammie x

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Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Hi there, thank you for stopping by to read my blog.  Cookies are always a welcome treat, whether eaten here at home, or shared amongst fiends. Today, both our Post Lady and shopping delivery man both took parcels of the cookies away with them. I hope it inspires you to try this recipe for Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookieshave fun and share your feasting with others.

FF Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

Walnuts are healthy?

So walnuts?  Just done a little bit of research and it seems they are very good for you.  The BBC report I read claimed that, out of the most commonly eaten nuts, Walnuts had twice the number of antioxidants in them compared to the other nuts tested. Well I’m not going to argue with the Beeb. Also, in truth, I don’t really know what antioxidants are, or what they do. Yet it seems they are good to have in your body.

FF Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Now some, could say these cookies are a ‘health food’ based on this evidence. Although I couldn’t possibly make such a claim! What I do believe and feel quite strongly about is this: As part of a healthy balanced diet, a couple of homemade cookies are better for you than eating lots of processed,especially low fat, low calorie, so called diet food products. Containing a myriad of stabilisers, hidden sugars, mould growth inhibitors etc, all so they can have a longer shelf life in the shops.

Anyway enough of my opinions on food. Because what really counts and makes it worthwhile baking is taste and texture. And yes these cookies hit the spot on both counts! The recipe came about as I had run out of normal plain white flour, so I had to improvise. Fortunately for me it worked, with both variations of the recipe being equally tasty.

Recipe: Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies makes 30 approximately

225g/8oz  Unsalted Butter softened to room temperature

150g/5oz  Caster Sugar

1/4tsp  Sea Salt – I use Maldon

1  Large Egg Yolk – room temp and pref free range.

1 tsp Vanilla Extract – I use Nielsen-Massey

175g/6oz  Walnuts

225g/8oz Plain White Flour, or alternatively 175g/6oz 00 White Flour plus 50g/2oz  Corn Flour

6oz  Milk Chocolate Chunks or Chips – I use Callebaut

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

Making the cookie dough:

  • First of all add the butter, sugar and salt to a large bowl.
  • Using an electric whisk, or wooden spoon, cream the butter, sugar and salt together until pale and fluffy.  The usual check can be applied, which is to rub a small amount of the creamed mixture between your forefinger and thumb, if no grittiness is felt the sugar is completely combined with the butter.

TIP:  This is an important part of creating a Cookie with fab texture. When I first started baking, I would mix the butter and sugar together until combined.  My cookies were okay. Then one day when following a Nigella recipe, that I’d made before I actually whisked the butter and sugar (as stated in the recipe – sorry Nigella for neglecting that bit before) and not only did the Cookies turn out much better, but the mixture made any extra 4 Cookies!

  • Next whisk/beat in the egg yolk and Vanilla Extract until fully incorporated.
  • Take 50g/2oz of walnuts and process in a food processor (or alternatively a mini chopper) to a similar consistency as ground almonds.
  • Add the processed walnuts and either plain white flour, or  corn flour and 00 white flour to the creamed mixture.
  • Now add the chocolate chunks and the remaining 100g/4oz roughly chopped walnuts.
  • Use a spoon gently mix until all the ingredients are combined.
  • Lay some cling film on top of a damp work top – see Super Easy Shortbread Cookies for detailed photos. Place half the mixture on to it and form a log shape.  Wrap in the cling film and refrigerate.  Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  • Finally, chill in the fridge for at least an hour, however the wrapped dough log can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Baking the cookies:

  • When ready to bake remove the dough log from the fridge and leave at room temp for 10-15mins to warm up slightly.
  • While the dough is warming preheat the oven
  • Use a sharp knife slice the dough log into 3/4cm discs – each log should yield 10-15 Cookies.
  • Place the cookie discs on to the baking sheet spaced evenly apart.
FF Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies ready for the oven.
  • Place the baking trays, spaced evenly apart, into the preheated oven.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating and turning the baking trays halfway through baking.
  • When baked the cookies are a golden colour.
  • As soon as the cookies are baked remove from the oven.
FF Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Perfectly baked Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies.
  • Allow to cool on the baking trays until completely cooled.
FF Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies great with a cappuccino.

Serve with a smile and you favourite drink.

Keep baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

If you have enjoyed this recipe for Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies then you may also enjoy these:

Extreme Chocolate Cookies

FF Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Extreme Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Christmas Pudding Cookies

FF Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Chocolate Christmas Pudding Cookies.

Walnut Fig Oat Cookies

FF Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Walnut Fig Oat Cookies

 

If you know someone who’s nuts about nuts, especially walnuts, now is the time to share. Stack a few cookies in cellophane bags,  tie with a pretty ribbon or some raffia and give as a gift. Alternatively, pack a tin full of cookies as a gift to family, friends or new neighbours. Whatever you do, sharing these cookies is an absolute must.

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

Sammie xx

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

 

 

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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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Autumn The Most Beautiful Season

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Now there’s a question. Is Autumn The Most Beautiful Season?  The landscape becomes swathed in golds, red, crimson, every shade of yellow under the sun, which back lights the scene with its low, but still bright and warm presence in a pale blue sky.

Unexpected light, filtering through, defining the boughs and branches of trees previously concealed by their heavy adornment of late summer, deep green leaves.  Dappling light where shade had prevailed through the long summer months.

The vibrant green grass contrasts with tired, rusty oak leaves.
The vibrant green grass contrasts with tired, rusty oak leaves. Autumn has arrived.

I truly love Autumn.  The wind, the rain, the unexpected warm sunny day.  No longer Summer, but not the bleak or dark of winter.  The light plays reflective, hypnotic tricks on a pond, where ducks can still splish, splash and swim before Jack Frost freezes their playground and slipping and sliding prevail.

Can you spot the three white ducks?
Can you spot the three white ducks?

I love all seasons but Autumn colours draw me to them.  They are the natural palette of my wardrobe and suit my skin tone.  Earthy rusts, just the right side of shocking orange,  khaki greens call out to me from the countryside as well as the clothes rail.

Stunning.
Stunning. Autumn The Most Beautiful Season.

Warm soups, hearty casseroles, proper puddings.  My body naturally craves comforting food as the sun dips in the skies and the night time temperature falls away.  In the same way Summer demands cool, crisp salads, ice creams and long drinks packed with ice.  Autumn asks, gently at first, for an extra layer of clothing – removed during the midday warmth, but much needed come dusk – family feasting around a large table, torn bread, ready for dunking into thick, hearty soup.  Everyone chatting with ruddy cheeks aglow from the warmth of their surroundings.

Yes, I love Autumn.  Slow cooked Pot Roasts, simmering away, filling our home with inviting aromas. Apple and Blackberry Pie with ice cream AND custard! Big Sunday (sometimes Monday & Tuesday!) roasts walked off on a crisp afternoon, followed by a Baileys Coffee, snuggling on the sofa and watching a family film.

The tantalising hint of Christmas near, but far enough away not to worry.  Autumn feels very relaxed.  Even after a hefty storm, where trees are left bare and the landscape changed, overnight, still calm returns.

Jack Frost makes an appearance, but it’s beauty outweighs it’s inconvenience.  Spiders webs outlined in crisp white detail, look like still life.  Crisp, sharp outlines on the tips of leaves, portraying their beauty by the definition given.

Feathery fronds of ice crystals on the top of my car - breath taking.
Feathery fronds of ice crystals on the top of my car – breath taking.

We all seem to live such busy, hectic lives.  A week is now 24/7.  Even our language is shortened to describe the frenetic pace of life.  Autumn is no less busy, the squirrels are busy stashing and hoarding acorns and nuts to see them through the Winter.  Hedgehogs prepare to hibernate.  Some people celebrate the years harvest, giving thanks to God for His provision.

Me?  Well I look at the beauty of the ice crystal formation on my car roof and cannot begin to imagine that it evolved!  I see the beauty in a yellowing sky, heavy Cumulus clouds slowly drifting, dropping  their load as the rain lashes down.  The joy a small child (or even a grown adult) experiences crunching, welly boot clad, through piles of crisp fallen leaves, or splashing in puddles after the rain has subsided.  Watching for rainbows, will there be a pot of gold at the end?  Where is the end??

I give thanks to God the Creator, for the beauty of His Creation. For Autumn The Most Beautiful Season.

Until next time, take time to stop and admire the natural beauty around you.  It will inspire, relax, rejuvenate and calm you if you spare the time to really look.

Life is too beautiful to be lived in a rush.

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! And I’d certainly 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. And spending time with our Devon families, 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.

While 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

Tiny pinch 1/8 tsp Salt – I use Maldon 

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!

Shaping The Pavlova

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

Making The Chocolate Pavlova

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.

Decorating The Pavlova

As soon as 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!!!

Serving Dessert

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

Do certain foods bring back memories of holidays, certain dinner parties or specific dinner guests?

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

Sammie x

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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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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Important Stuff

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Good morning to all you lovely people. Whatever today holds for you I hope when you read through this blog the Important Stuff will encourage you to smile & when you smile I hope that it encourages others to smile too.

It may sound odd, but I actually believe that HAPPINESS is a choice for most of us (please don’t think I am any way mocking people who are depressed, anxious, lonely, grieving, sad & all other manner of terrible situations – I ABSOLUTELY AM NOT). When I say Happiness is a choice, what I’m mean is that during the hundreds of thousands of situations & circumstances we are in and go through in life, most of us have a choice.

FF Important Stuff
Happiness as a result of being loved.

That choice usually represents itself simply as: Do I concentrate on all the bad stuff that I’m going through at the moment, or amidst the darkness & fog that I’m in, do I try to find something Good & Positive to hold on to? I’ve said being Happy is a choice for most of us – I didn’t say it was easy! Of all the difficult circumstances that I’ve only just started to touch on, I’ve been through most & more. But I’M NOT SAD! I should be but I’m not.

 

FF Important Stuff
Sometimes you have to look past the darkness and into the light.

Some may say that’s easy for me, I have a loving family & friends: you can still be lonely in a roomful of people. Others may argue that we all naturally have periods of sadness in our lives: that is true, but it is our choice as to how long we dwell on them. Still others may say ” You don’t understand, my situation is HOPELESS & I can’t see a way out”. To those I say, I’ve been there. Whilst I may not know exactly the circumstances of your situation, I do understand what it is like to be trapped, with no clear exit route in view.

My life has never been a bed of roses, EVER! I face daily challenges and also difficult memories. Yet I still smile. I smile because amongst all the darkness I choose, to see LIGHT. Amongst all the noise I listen for the bird song. Against all the ugliness of a situation I will SEEK OUT the beauty. I make the choice to find the POSITIVE amongst the negative. Also I have HOPE. A never ending certain HOPE. I KNOW that I am LOVED.

This is THE MOST IMPORTANT STUFF you will ever read.

FF Important Stuff
The Cross in the centre, where life, love and hope are found. As the thief on the cross next to Jesus found out, it’s never too late.

A man named Jesus, a long time ago, took all the wrong doing that is in this world, all the injustice, hatred, hopelessness & sin upon HIS shoulders and died on a Cross. Naked, humiliated, despised by the very people He had come to help, Jesus knows loneliness, pain, neglect, suffering. And yet He still loved them. His love was shown when He took the place of ALL MANKIND, took all the SIN OF THE WORLD and paid the price, that we should have to pay, HE GAVE HIS LIFE, SO THAT WE MAY HAVE LIFE, IN HIM FOREVER.

Not only did He die on the Cross, for us, but HE OVERCAME DEATH WHEN HE AROSE from the dead THREE DAYS LATER. HE OVERCAME DEATH and in doing so laid a path for us to know Him. TO KNOW JESUS AND OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. Jesus said “I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH & THE LIFE. NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH THE SON”. JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD!! If we know Him, then we too can know God. HE IS OUR LOVING HEAVENLY FATHER.
THIS IS TRULY AMAZING.

Every living person on this beautiful planet IS LOVED BY GOD. Every living person, has at some time, said or done something that is wrong, the Bible calls this Sin. The penalty for Sin is Death. Whether you believe in God or not, one day every person will stand before God and be judged,  asked to give an account of themselves, their lives and their actions. You can choose not to believe this will happen, I am letting you know IT WILL.

That sounds pretty scary to me. I know I’m not perfect, yet I have nothing to worry about because;  “FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON, THAT WHOSOEVER (that’s you & me) BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT DIE BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE”. WOW! No need to be afraid now. GOD LOVES YOU SO MUCH THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON!

Who loves me?

Firstly for those of you who are lonely or feel unloved YOU ARE LOVED – GOD LOVES YOU.

FF Important Stuff
Important Stuff, each individual is accepted by God, flaws and all.

Secondly for those of you who are aimlessly walking through life, no real direction (except to go to work, pay your bills, raise your family – but somewhere inside of you, you question: Is there more to this??), JESUS SAID I AM THE WAY!! Now you can have direction – straight to God & ALL the Goodness & Love that He has for you.

Thirdly, for everyone who is searching for something. Looking for a bigger picture, but there are SO MANY religions, ideas to follow: JESUS SAID I AM THE TRUTH. You’ve found your answer. Jesus IS THE WAY TO GOD. Next, for those of you that feel hopeless, dejected, worthless: JESUS SAID I AM THE LIFE. A life lived with JESUS has HOPE, PURPOSE, WORTH.

GOD LOVES YOU SO MUCH THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON.

JESUS LOVES YOU SO MUCH THAT HE WAS WILLING TO DIE ON THE CROSS, BEARING THE PUNISHMENT WE SHOULD RECEIVE. HIS MOTIVATION – PURE LOVE FOR US AND TO DO THE WILL OF HIS FATHER.

He gave His life freely, at any point He could of spoken up in His own defense & saved Himself, but He didn’t – HE GAVE HIS LIFE FREELY.
JESUS IS THE LIGHT OF THIS WORLD.

FF Important Stuff
Jesus is the light of this world. In Him no darkness is found.

What does all this mean personally to me?

No longer do I live a life without purpose but can smile each day, even through the tough times, for I know, I AM ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN, that JESUS WHO IS THE LIFE, lives in me, by the POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Not only that, but God promises ETERNAL LIFE TO ALL (not a chosen few elite individuals). I have a lot TO SMILE ABOUT.

You too can make this choice. Indeed nothing in life is more important, God is waiting with His arms open wide for you. His desire is that you would know HOW LOVED YOU ARE. While this may sound ‘Too good to be true’,  I promise you it isn’t. God loves you whether you love Him back or not. He accepts you no matter what life you have lived, or however bad you think you are.

GOD’S GIFT OF SALVATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST IS FREE. You cannot work for it, earn or buy it. Jesus desires to be part of your life. He wants to be the SMILE IN YOUR HEART. As for me, I love my Lord JESUS with all of my heart. He has helped me, healed me, guided and protected me and saved me.

FF Important Stuff
Every caterpillar turns into a butterfly, just as everyone can turn to God and ask for forgiveness in the name of Jesus.

Important Stuff is the most important post I have written to date!

If you too would like to know JESUS as your personal Saviour and Friend, then you can pray to God now. Ask Him to forgive you for all the wrong you have done, acknowledge JESUS as God’s Son and ask Him to come into your life, to be your Lord and guide you. Ask God to reveal His love for you through the bible & to guide you to a local Christian Church that loves God, His Word (the bible), Jesus & God’s Holy Spirit.

If you prayed that prayer CONGRATULATIONS.

What to do next?

I suggest you start reading the Gospel of John, found in the New Testament part of the bible (NIV, NKJV are both very good bibles to start with, accurate & written without thee’s, thou’s & older day language – although personally the King James Bible will always be my preference!). John is the fourth book of the New Testament & before reading I suggest praying and asking God to reveal Himself to you through His Written Word.

Finally it would be lovely if you would share your experience in the comments box. If you would rather I did not make your words public, then please say so & I promise not to publish your comments. Also if you would genuinely like more information, please leave a message & I will do my best to help.

No disrespect to people of other Faiths, but I will not get drawn into time wasting arguments regarding this post, I will only answer genuine queries & politely ask that you respect this.

FF Important Stuff
Rainbows a sign of God’s promise to us.

There is NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT OR PRECIOUS THAN KNOWING JESUS AS YOUR VERY OWN LORD AND PERSONAL SAVIOUR.

IMPORTANT STUFF is and always will be THE most important post on the blog.
Thank you for reading, I pray that God will open your heart to His love.

Sammie xx

 

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