Monday, 30 March 2015

Hot-Cross Bun Cupcakes

Every year I post my hot cross bun recipe as is to be used to bake my entry into my family’s annual, tightly fought, hot-cross bake off challenge. As usual I have been trialling out a number of different recipes so that I am fully prepared for the traditional Good Friday antics. But from a blogging point of view I thought I would try something a little different for an additional Easter based baking adventures. Luckily inspiration came in the form of this cup-cake recipe from BBC Good Food. With a little tweaking (the addition of buttermilk instead of the thickened milk used by GF and a bucket load more spice than suggested) these little cakes with cream cheese icing crosses turned out really well. The subtle (or not so subtle) spiciness of the cakes really was reminiscent of the cousin to these treats…proper hot cross buns! But these make a great Easter substitution especially if you have a little bit of a sweet tooth.


100ml buttermilk
175g butter
175g plain flour
1 ½ tspns baking powder
175g golden caster sugar
2tsp mixed spice
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp ginger
100g ground almonds
3 eggs
Zest ½ orange
100g raisins
1 medium eating apple, grated


Zest ½ orange
50g cream cheese
75g icing sugar
25g softened butter
½ tspn mixed spice
Makes approx. 16

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / GM4 and line a muffin tin with paper cake cases.

Mix the flour, baking powder, spices, sugar and almonds together in a large bowl.

Melt the butter and once cooled slightly towards room temperature beat the eggs, orange zest and buttermilk and butter all together.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and beat together until combined. Then fold in the raisins and grated apple.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tins, distributing the mixture evenly between each of the cupcake cases.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes until the cakes are golden and firm to the touch.

Allow the cakes to cool and in the meantime make the icing by beating together the cream cheese, icing sugar, butter, zest and spice. And then pipe the icing across the buns in the traditional cross shape.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

No Churn Birthday Cake Ice Cream

So cake batter ice cream is a thing!! I first discovered this nearly a decade ago now when I was lucky enough to spend a little bit of time in San Francisco. I generally find it very difficult to walk past an ice cream parlour…if encountered I am more than likely to wander inside to sample some delicious frozen treats. This occurred during one sunny San Franciscan day, and on that occasion I was drawn towards the birthday cake ice cream. A base of cake batter ice cream (resembling the uncooked cake mix that clings to the wooden spoon following a baking session and that is always fought over in my household) with sprinkles and chocolate chips smooshed in for that extra ‘birthday’ flare. And so a decade later I decided to make my own, using cake mix powder to add that all important flavour again with the addition of chocolate and sprinkles to save them having to be added later. And this delicious, childhood memory inducing treat, packed with chocolate chips fits perfectly with the Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream theme this month where Kavey Eats have teamed up with Choclette for some chocolaty frozen goodness!


100g egg whites (approx. 3 egg whites)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
310g caster sugar
100ml water

Seeds scraped from ½ vanilla pod
300ml double cream
100g vanilla cake mix
50g white choc chips
50g dark choc chips
A generous shake of hundreds and thousands.

A sugar thermometer is also needed

To make the meringue;

Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer whisk the egg whites in a large, clean bowl until they start to look foamy. At this point add the cream of tartar and continue to whisk until the egg whites form stiff peaks (this means that if you lift the mixer out of the mixture a peak should form and it won’t collapse or ‘wilt’ once the mixer/whisk is removed….check out Delia for more info!)

Place the sugar and water into a large saucepan and place over a medium heat. Swirl the saucepan gently (but don’t actually stir the mixture) until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear.

Stick your thermometer into the mixture, raise the heat and allow the mixture bubble rapidly until 112 °C / 234 °F is reached.

Remove the sugar syrup from the heat.

Begin beating the egg white mixture again and slowly (and very carefully) begin to pour the sugar syrup into the egg white mix, beating all of the time. Once all of the syrup is added continue to beat the mixture for another 10 minutes or so until the mixture has cooled and has a nice glossy finish.

Stop beating and set to one side (this is the Italian meringue done)

For the birthday cake element;

Scrape the seed from the vanilla pod and transfer to another large bowl along with the cream.

Beat the mixture with an electric hand mix until it has doubled in volume and is light and fluffy. Stir in the cake mixture until fully combined with the cream (if it becomes a little too thick to stir at this point just add a dash of milk to loosen slightly). Then fold in the chocolate chips and hundreds and thousands (or other ice cream type sprinkle).

Add about a third of the cream to the Italian meringue and gently fold in until well combined. Continue adding the rest of the cream to the meringue bit by bit until well combined (but try not to overmix the mixture at the point). Transfer to a freezer proof container and bung in the freezer overnight (there is no need to churn or mix the ice cream once in the freezer).

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Pomegranate pulled aubergines

It’s been a little while since I blogged a savoury recipe. In fact it has just been a while since I blogged about anything, but I thought my first post for the New Year would be a vegetarian treat. Back in October (really shows how far behind I am at blogging) I had a pre-Halloween dinner party and for most of my guests served up a slow cooked ‘pulled’ lamb and pomegranate dish alongside roasted feta and pumpkin. I did, however, have one vegetarian guest so needed a lamb alternative. Pulled pork and lamb are pretty popular at the moment. But is it possible to ‘pull’ a vegetable? Well I decided to give it a go! First of all which vegetable to choose…well it needed to be something pretty sturdy  that could put up with a long slow cooking process. An aubergine seemed the perfect candidate for this and so slow cooked pomegranate ‘pulled’ aubergine was born.

P.S. It is very difficult to take a flattering photo of a sweet and sticky heap of pulled aubergine, but don’t let the below photo put you off trying this recipe, it is delicious honest!!

Serves 2

1 large aubergine
120ml pomegranate juice
½ tablespoon honey
1 lemon
2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried cumin
Salt and pepper to season

Start by charring your aubergine. If you have a gas burner place the aubergine over a medium gas flame, turning regularly until all of the skin is blistered and charred. Alternatively place the aubergine under a grill, again turning regularly until the skin is charred all over. This process can take a while but be patient as this produces a great smokey flavour in the aubergine.

Allow the aubergine to cool a little before peeling off the skin. Then pull the aubergine into thick strips.

Place the aubergine strips in an oven proof dish and add the cinnamon, oregano, cumin and salt and pepper and ensure the aubergine is evenly covered in the spice mix.

Mix together the pomegranate juice, honey, zest and juice from the lemon and the crushed garlic. Pour over the aubergine and place in an oven at 180°. Bake for 40 minutes, basting the aubergine half way through the cooking to ensure it is evenly coasted in the sticky pomegranate sauce.

After the cooking the sauce should be thorough reduced and be a thick sticky sauce.

This is great served with pomegranate couscous and roasted pumpkin and feta.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Mince pie and custard cupcakes

Christmas really is fast approaching and I am already in residence on my parents’ sofa, drinking copious amounts of tea/mulled cider/champagne and scoffing chocolates/biscuits/mince pies. And lets face it Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a good mince pie. I actually indulged in my first of the season back at the beginning of December after a visit to Betty’s in York, and it was deliciously light and full of festive flavour. Feeling that it may be hard to beat I decided to follow in the tradition of previous years (when I used mincemeat in Danish pastries and cookies) and came up with a slightly alternative Christmas treat. When deciding on what to do with the stash of mincemeat in the cupboards I was inspired by the obvious accompaniment of custard….and so the mince pie and custard cupcake was born.

For the cake
200g caster sugar
225g butter
200g plain flour
3 tablespoons custard powder
Seeds from half a vanilla pod
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
½ jar (approx. 200g) mincemeat (or you could make your own!!)
For the icing
 200g icing sugar
3 tablespoons custard powder
1 tablespoon skimmed milk powder
200ml double cream
300 ml milk
Seeds from half a vanilla pod
50g butter

For the cakes set the oven to 180°C / 350°F / GM4. Line a cup cake tin with cupcake cases (this recipe makes approx. 15 medium sized cupcakes).

Beat the caster sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs and the vanilla seeds. Finally gradually fold in all of the dry ingredients until well combined. If the mixture seems a little dry and stiff at this point stir in the milk.

Divide half of the mixture between the prepared cake cases. Then take the mincemeat and dollop a teaspoon full into the cake cases, on top of the sponge mixture already in the tins. 

Finally top the mincemeat with the remaining cake mixture so that the mincemeat is covered by cake mixture.

Transfer the cakes to the oven for twenty minutes until lightly golden in colour and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before icing.

In the mean time you can make the icing…mix half of the icing sugar with the custard powder, milk powder, vanilla seeds and 2 tablespoons of the milk in a heatproof jug. Stir together to make a smooth, thick paste.

Meanwhile heat the remaining milk and cream together in a large saucepan and place over a gentle heat until the mixture begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and pour the warm milk mixture into the jug, whisking as you do so until the custard paste in fully mixed into the milk.

Then pour the custard back into the pan and return to the heat. Continue whisking until the custard becomes thick and glossy. Remove from the heat, transfer to a plastic tub and cover the top with a layer on cling film. Transfer to the fridge and allow to cool completely.

Once cool remove the custard mix from the fridge. Transfer to a bowl, add the remaining icing sugar and butter and whisk until thick and creamy. And now the custard icing is ready to use to decorate your cakes.

Once the cakes have been piped/smothered in icing tuck in and enjoy as an alternative to your usual mince pie.

This recipe was inspired by this cake from Nigella Lawson and this cake from BBC Good Food.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Earl Grey Chocolate Torte and Spooky Poached Pears

I really enjoy getting creative in the kitchen at Halloween and have been churning out endless quantities of bat and pumpkin shaped gingerbread biscuits this year. I also love a good blood splattered cupcake or eyeball cocktail. Earlier this week, however, I produced a slightly more grown-up autumnal feast for a few friends and after serving up some delicious roasted pumpkin and feta alongside slow roasted lamb I rounded things off with this lovely chocolate torte.

By using ground almonds instead of flour this deliciously moist chocolate cake is naturally gluten free and a little injection of earl grey prevents the cake from getting too sickly. The original torte recipe came courtesy of BBC Good Food and I only tweaked it very slightly to make it dairy free too (but go check out the original too). I was then inspired by the latest in-store Tesco magazine to decorate this delectable treat with a few spooky poached pears to add to the Halloween spirit. And it proved to be a delectable desert for some semi-sophisticated adults….although I’m sure it would go down with your common spooks and ghouls pretty well too!!


2 Earl Grey tea bags
100ml almond milk
250g dark chocolate
200g dairy free margarine
140g ground almonds
6 eggs (separated)
200g caster sugar

Heat the oven to 180°C / 360°F.

Line the bottom and sides of a 22cm diameter, loose-bottomed, cake tin with greaseproof paper ensuring the paper rises above the rim of the tin to allow the cake to rise right up.

Heat the almond milk in a heat proof jug in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds until warm. 

Split the teabags and empty the tea leaves into the milk. Set aside to infuse.

Place the chocolate and margarine in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t come in contact with the water). Once melted and fully combined remove the bowl from the heat and add the almonds, egg yolks and cooled milky tea (along with the tea leaves. Stir until combined and set aside.

In a separate, clean bowl beat the egg whites using a hand blender until soft peaks begin to form. Then add the caster sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is thick and glossy and peaks of the mixture stand on end when you remove the mixer.

Add a large spoonful of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture and gently fold together. Repeat until all of the egg whites are combined with the chocolate mix, begin careful not to overwork the mixture.

Transfer to the cake tin and bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until just firm (although there can still be a slight wobble in the middle of the cake). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the tin. This can easily be made the day before you want to eat this cake...although probably best to decorate it just prior to serving!


5 Pears (I used conference)
400ml apple juice
200g caster sugar
150g dark chocolate

On the day you are planning to eat your torte place the apple juice and sugar in a pan and place over a medium to low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.

Peel the pears and place into the simmering apple juice mixture, allow the pan to bubble away for 15 minutes before removing from the heat. All the pears to cool completely in the syrupy apple juice before you fish them out.

Meanwhile melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once melted spread the chocolate out on a greaseproof piece of paper laid out in a baking tray. With a little bit of the melted chocolate shape it into disks and small blobs for the scary pear eyes and mouths. Place somewhere cool and allow to set.


Place the torte on a plate.

Carefully pat the pears dry on a bit of kitchen roll to remove excess moisture. Using a little melted chocolate if necessary, decorate the pears with the discs of chocolate made for their mouths and eyes after removing these from the greaseproof paper.

Arrange the pears in the centre of the torte (using them all to support each other).

Using a large sharp knife slice the remaining chocolate into shards and arrange around the outside of the torte (again securing with a little melted chocolate is needed)…and voila, you are ready to impress your guests!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Ginger and Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream

This blog post is going to follow a trend of recent (or as the case may be not so recent) posts, with me apologising for not blogging for months, listing excuses centred around life getting in the way of things, then presenting an ice cream recipe. Perhaps I should just change this to an ice cream blog, it is very apparent that I have more than a slight obsession with the frozen delightful creaminess.

This time around I have modified a basic recipe from the Guardian website injecting a little warming ginger punch and swirl of blackberries to the original recipe. And what is missing from this recipe you may ask…..well there is no cream in this ice cream recipe! A custard base is made just with milk and a little additional milk powder to apparently give ‘volume without weight’.

This ice cream is great served up with a warm autumnal apple crumble, or a fig tarte tatin as I did. You never know I might even get around to posting that recipe sooner rather than later….as long as life doesn’t get in the way too much!!

Oh and I’ve submitted this to Kavey over at Kavey Eats for her Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream challenge too.


1 pint whole milk
50g skimmed milk powder
4 egg yolks
90 g caster sugar
Thumb sized piece fresh ginger

250g blackberries (I used fresh, picked from local hedgerows, but frozen will be fine)
50g sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon vodka

For the ice cream base add the milk, milk powder and 2 teaspoons of the sugar to a large saucepan. Peel the ginger, slice into a couple of chunks and add to the milk. Place the saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Once bubbling reduce the heat and allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes before removing from the heat. Set the mixture aside for 30 minutes to allow the ginger to infuse.

Place the egg yolks (you can freeze the left over egg whites for later use or could try out one of these recipes straight away to use them up; choc chunk cookies, English muffins, chocolate hazelnut ice cream) and the rest of the sugar into a large mixing bowl, and using a hand mixer, whisk for about 10 minutes until the mixture if light and airy and has increased in volume.

Reheat the milk mixture until simmering and then slowly pour into the mixing bowl with the egg mixture, continually stirring as you do so. Then return all of the mixture to the saucepan and place over a low heat, again stirring continually until the mixture begins to thicken slightly.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream tub, cover the surface with cling film (this is to help prevent a skin forming) and allow to cool completely before transferring to the freezer.

After about half an hour remove from the freezer and whizz the mixture up with a hand blender, then return to the freezer. Repeat this process three more times at 30 minute intervals.

Whilst undertaking this freeze-whizz-freeze-whizz process place the blackberries, water and sugar into a small saucepan, place over a medium heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the berries start to cook down. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before stirring through the vodka.

After the final ice cream churning swirl through the blackberry mix. Return to the freezer for a further hour before tucking in.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Tart au citron frozen yoghurt

I can't believe how quickly June has been whizzing by, July is already encroaching and this is the first blog post of the month....oops! Well I will blame a lot of birthday celebrations getting in my way. I have been celebrating one of those birthdays where the age ends in a big fat zero and to be honest I have been milking it as much as possible. As well as many lovely bubble filled celebrations shared with lots of amazingly brilliant friends I also had a great little holiday in Paris with family. And it seems I brought a little bit of Parisian sunshine back to my little corner of Norther Ireland on my return so I have been distracted from blogging in the mean time by a lot of sitting on the patio time! But whilst the sun is still shining it seems appropriate to post (yet another) frozen pudding recipe.

As a warm up to my Paris trip I had a Parisian themed dinner party with friends and to finish off the meal I cooked up a big Tart Au Citron. Another of my friends made some delicious raspberry and strawberry tarts to add to the amazing spread so despite the general deliciousness of the puddings on offer there were a few leftovers. I hate anything going to waste and as I was about to dash off on my holidays I couldn't just leave the tarts in the fridge and continue to graze on them over the coming days so thought I had best bung them in the freezer for a later date. But then I decided to get a little more creative and turn my dessert into another form of dessert...and so was born the tart au citron frozen yoghurt. If you don't have a large quantity of left over tart to bung into this dessert the delicate lemon flavour of the yoghurt mix on its own is pretty delicious. Alternatively swap the lemon curd for maple syrup and stick in apple crumble, or add biscuit or cake crumbs instead....really the possibilities are endless for left over frozen yoghurt varieties.

And Kavey over at Kavey Eats is once again running her Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream this month with a fruity theme so this recipe fits in perfectly over there too.


700g thick Greek yoghurt
100g lemon curd
50g icing sugar
250g tart au citron (chopped into small chunks) - I made mine following Michel Roux's recipe in this lovely book 

Beat the yoghurt, lemon curd and icing sugar together until fully combined. 

Transfer to a freezer proof container and freeze for 2 hours. After 2 hours remove from the freezer and beat the mixture again to brake up any ice crystals forming in the mix. Repeat this, freezing the mixture again for another 2 hours before beating to create a smooth mixture. (alternatively you can just bung the mixture into an ice cream maker).

After 2 rounds of freezing and beating fold the chinks of the lemon tart into the mixture until evenly distributed. Stick the mixture back int the freezer over night and then tuck in and enjoy.