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.