Sunday, 15 October 2017

Dairy Free Rose and Cherry Cake

One of the (many) things I love about food is its ability to transport you to far reaching and exotic places, be it the Asia, South America or in this case, the Middle East. This dairy free cake is heady with rose, but taken to the next level with hints of lemon and little jewels of cherry. On the subject of the cherries, I know they are no longer particularly seasonal, hence why I've used tinned. However, the syrup from the tin also serves as a sweet steeping liquor for the top of the cake. So why not leave the grey and the dreary behind and have a cheeky baking holiday? I promise you won't be disappointed. ;-)

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 60 Mins
5 Large Eggs
200g Golden Caster Sugar
1tsp Rose Water
The Zest of 2 Unwaxed Lemons
The Juice of 1 Lemon
200g Ground Almonds
50g S/R Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
454g Tin of Cherries in Light Syrup
3-4tbsp Icing Sugar

I use a full 20cm cake tin liner for this recipe and I would advise you to do the same, as the batter is quite liquid. So grab one and line a deep, 20cm loose bottomed baking tin. At the same time preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs and caster sugar until just frothy, then add the rose, lemon zest and juice and keep whisking. Fold through the ground almonds, then sift in the flour and baking powder and do the same until evenly combined. Pour the batter into the tin and even to the edges.

Drain the cherries, retaining the liquor. Scatter the cherries on top of the batter and press gently into the surface. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 60 minutes, until a skewer or sharp knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven and set to one side whilst you prepare the steeping liquor.

Add 3 tbsp of icing sugar to the cherry syrup and whisk together. It should have a very light syrup consistency. If not add another teabelspoon and do the same. Stab a sharp knife into the top of cake, around halfway down and all over the surface, then spoon over the syrup. You want the surface to be completely sodden with syrup. Leave in the tin to cool completely and the cake is ready to serve. Boom!

Monday, 2 October 2017

Granola

It's fair to say that I have become somewhat obsessed with making (and subsequently eating) my own granola recently. It's not that it's any cheaper to do it, or obviously any easier than buying a packet from the supermarket (although still very easy), it's just so much more delicious and a surprisingly fleixible platform to be creative with flavour and texture combinations.

All you really need is some oats, a little oil and some sweet syrup and from there you can let your own tastes and temptations take over. In this recipe I've also added some cocoa powder and peanut powder (which is like powdered peanut butter), as well as vanilla and almond extract, but there's no reason why you couldn't go for some spice instead, or some citrus zest or extract. I've also kept it pretty generic with the dried fruit, nuts and seeds but if you prefer things more exotic, feel free to go wild with dried papaya or coconut, banana chips or even a handul of chopped dark chocolate!

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 25-30 Mins
25ml Rapeseed Oil
75ml Maple Syrup
75ml Runny Honey
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1tsp Almond Extract
300g Jumbo Rolled Oats
1tbsp Cocoa Powder
2tbsp Peanut Powder
350g Dried Fruit, Roughly Chopped Nuts and Seeds (I'll leave the ratio up to you

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3 and line a large flat baking tray with baking paper. Add the oil, syrup, honey and extracts to a large, heatproof mixing bowl (it will become apparent why in due course) and stir together. As an aside, although I like the flavour of honey and maple syrup together the main reason I use half and half is because maple syrup is so darn expensive!

Add the oats, powders and any nuts to the wet ingredients, then mix together to combine. Make sure you get right to the bottom of the bowl when doing this. Scatter the mixture over the baking paper and bake in the centre of the oven for around 12-15 minutes.

When the oats are just starting to colour remove them from the oven and tip back into your bowl. Add the seeds and fruit and mix through. Scatter evenly again over the baking paper and return to the oven for a further 12-15 minutes, until the oats and nuts are a toasty golden brown.

Once you're happy the granola is baked leave to cool on the tray, before tipping into an airtight container. It should keep for a fair few weeks like that, not that it ever lasts that long in my house!

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Wholemeal Carrot and Rose Muffins

I may well post a little recap of my recent gastrotour at some point soon, but needless to say it was not only a wonderfully delicious experience, but highly inspirational. As is often the case though it's the little moments that more often than not make the biggest impression.

The perfect example of this was a phenomenal carrot and rose purée I enjoyed at Marcus at the Berkeley (https://www.marcusrestaurant.com), which has inspired me to make these little muffins in tribute. Those core two flavours are front and centre, but I've added some accents of my own which I think work beautifully too. I've also used some slightly more virtuous ingredients, which all can be picked up easily in most supermarkets. If you do struggle locating anything however, then please don't hesitate to get in touch. :-)

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 20-25 Mins
125g Unsalted Butter (softened)
100g Raw Cane Sugar with Stevia
3 Large Eggs
1tsp Rose Water
1/2tsp Almond Extract
100g Ground Almonds
125g Wholemeal Self Raising Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
150g Finely Grated Carrot
200g Sultanas
75g Pistachios (roughly chopped)
A drizzle of Runny Honey

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a 12 cup muffin tray with paper cases. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time along with the rose water and extract. Mix through the ground almonds, then repeat for the flour and baking powder. Fold in the grated carrot, followed by the sultanas and the batter is ready.

Spoon your batter equally into each paper case then top with some of the pistachios. Give the pistachios a little press to just secure them to the batter. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until risen and golden brown on top. To make sure they are baked you can insert a metal skewer or sharp knife into the middle of one of th muffins. It should come out clean.

When you are happy the muffins are baked remove from the oven, drizzle each with honey and leave for 15 minutes. Once they have cooled slightly remove from the tray and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. All done!

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Plumble


I had a hankering for a seasonal plum crumble recently, but not just any crumble. A SUPERCHARGED crumbly plum crumble. A plum crumble with crumble EVERYWHERE. So much crumble that the word crumble is no longer fit for the task. So behold, the PLUMBLE!

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 30 Mins
50g Unsalted Butter (At room temperature)
50 Ground Almonds
75g Plain Flour
100g Light Muscovado Sugar
50g Flaked Almonds
1tsp Icing Sugar
6 Large Ripe Plums

Let’s get this bad boy going! Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and grab a medium sized ovenproof dish or tin. In a large mixing bowl rub together the butter, almonds and flour, then stir through the sugar. It feel like slightly damp sand when you run it through your fingers. In a separate small bowl mix together the flaked almonds and icing sugar.

Tip half of the crumble mixture over the base of the dish and even to the edges lightly with your fingers. Halve and stone the plums, then nestle in and around the crumble mixture. Scatter the rest of the crumble mixture on top, the do the same with the dusted flaked almonds.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes, then raise the oven temperature to 220C/425F/Gas 7 for the around 5 mins, until the flaked almonds are a toasty golden brown. When you are happy the plumble is baked remove from the oven, leave for 10 minutes to cool slightly and you are ready to serve. PLUUUUMMMMMMMBLLLLLLEEE!!!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Prune Pudding

I can be quite the compulsive sort and once a recipe gets me going I find myself making different versions of it over and over. At the moment it's puddings that have piqued my interest, deliciously soft and sweet and stodgy and ALWAYS served with custard!

Prunes have quite the negative reputation, but they really are beautiful to bake with and when prepared properly almost melt into your cake mixture. I like to steep mine for 24 hours, which not only softens them but leaves you with an INCREDIBLE liquor. So what are you waiting for? ;-)

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus 24 hours steeping time)
Baking time: 70 Mins
200g Partially Rehydrated Prunes (Available in foil sachets from the supermarket)
150ml Hot Black Tea
50ml Brandy
50g Runny Honey
60g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
75g Raw Cane Sugar with Stevia
2 Large Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2tsp Almond Extract
100g Ground Almonds
50ml Milk
75g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder

The first task is to steep the prunes. Add the prunes to a bowl or container and pour over the tea, brandy and honey. Stir it all together and cover. Leave for around 24 hours to steep, stirring occasionally. 

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3, grease a 16cm pudding tin and line with baking paper. The lining is actually the hardest part of this whole recipe, so fiddly!

Cream together the butter and sugar/stevia, then beat in the eggs one at a time along with the extracts. Add the ground almonds, followed by the milk and mix together. Sift in the fLour and baking powder, then give it a final mix until you are left with a consistent batter.

Using a slotted spoon lift the prunes from the steeping liquor and fold into the pudding mixture. Pour the liquor into the prepared tin, then spoon in the pudding mixture, evening carefully to the edges. Grease a sheet of foil and cover the top of the tin with it, folding over the edge to seal. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 70 minutes, by which time a metal skewer or sharp knife should come out clean when inserted into the middle of the pudding.

When you are happy the pudding is baked remove from the oven. Leave in the tin for about ten minutes, before turning out onto a heatproof plate, VERY carefully peeling off any baking paper. Serve with custard. :-)

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Plum and Hazelnut Pudding Cake

There is so much delicious fruit in, or just coming into season at the moment I find myself going fruit crazy! Consequently, I do on occasion have some leftover which is a great excuse to fire up the oven and get baking. This time I used some fat plums to make a pudding cake which is sooooo delicious both hot with custard as a pudding or cold as a cake. I've tried to keep it wholesome too, well relatively at least. ;-)

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus macerating time)
Baking time: 45 Mins
300g Ripe Plums (Stoned and chopped)
50g Light Muscovado Sugar
Zest and Juice of 1 Medium Orange

115g 0% Natural Yoghurt
2 Large Eggs
125g Light Muscovado Sugar
75g Wholemeal Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
100g Ground Hazelnuts

Ok, lets start with the plums. Add the plums to a large mixing bowl and cover with the sugar, along with the orange zest and juice. Cover and leave in a cool place to macerate for at least four hours (ideally overnight), stirring occasionally. 

Once the plums have macerated you can start on the pudding. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a 16cm pudding tin and line the bottom with a little disc of baking paper. In a large mixing bowl beat together the yoghurt, eggs and sugar. Add the flour and baking powder, followed by the hazelnuts then mix to a consistent batter. Add the plums, leaving behind about 3tbsp along with the macerating liquor and fold through to combine.

Add the remaining plums and liquor to the tin, then top with the cake mixture, evening to the edges. Cover with a sheet of greased foil and bake in the centre of the oven for around 45 minutes. When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven, carefully peel off the foil and leave in the tin for around ten minutes. Run a flat bladed knife around the edge of the cake to free it then turn out onto a plate, peeling off the baking paper from the top. You're all done! 

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Spiced Carrot and Hazelnut Muffins

These muffins are a great way to use up those one or two carrots we all seem to have leftover come the end of the week. The addition of ground hazelnuts (which you can purchase from that well known supermarket beginning with 'S'), warms spices and honey elevate what could be seen (by some at least) as a little uninspiring to something really rather special indeed. With regards to the raisins if you can try and find big plump flame raisins as opposed to the cheaper little bullets you definitely will notice the difference. :-)

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 25-30 Mins
100g Ground Hazelnuts
100g Wholemeal Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2tsp Ground Ginger
90g Raw Cane Sugar with Stevia
2 Large Eggs
135g Low Fat Yoghurt
2tbsp Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil
2tbsp Honey (Plus 2tbsp to drizzle)
1tsp Vanilla Extract
200g Carrots (Finely Grated)
150g Raisins

There's a fair few ingredients in this recipe, but it's still very easy to make. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a 12 cup muffin tray with paper cases. In a large bowl mix together the hazelnuts, flour, baking powder, spices and sugar. In a separate bowl (or large jug) beat together the eggs, yoghurt, oil, honey and vanilla. Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients, pour in the wet and mix to a consistent batter. Fold through the carrot and raisins until evenly combined. 

Carefully spoon the mixture into your paper cases and bake in the centre of the oven for around 25-30 minutes, until a metal skewer or sharp knife comes out clean when inserted into one of the muffins. When you are happy they are baked remove from the oven and gently transfer each muffin to a wire rack. Warm the final 2tbsp of honey to loosen, then brush over each muffin to glaze. Leave to cool and your work is done.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Dairy Free Peanut Butter Oatcakes

OK OK, as much as a try to rationalise it I think, for the moment at least I seem to have become one of those "healthy" baking types. Honestly though, it's only because despite my balanced diet and all the fitness training I try to cram in these days, I still really can't resist something cheeky after dinner!  Luckily however, with such a vast array of wholesome alternatives to traditional baking ingredients when it comes to healthy treats, I really can have my cake and eat it. Just take these soft and chewy oatcakes for instance. Wholemeal and dairy free but still blooming delicious!

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 12-14 Mins
60g Peanut Butter
100g Raw Cane Sugar with Stevia
60g Coconut Oil (Melted)
1 Large Egg Yolk
1/2tsp Vanilla Extract
100g Wholemeal Flour (Plus extra for rolling)
100g Jumbo Oats
1/2tsp Baking Powder
3tbsp Almond Milk

These really are a doddle to make. Begin by preheating the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and lining a large flat baking tray with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the coconut oil, egg yolk and vanilla. Add the flour, oats and baking powder, then drizzling in the milk, mix to a soft dough.

On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to around half a centimetre thick, then cut into rounds using a generous sized biscuit cutter. You should get around nine oatcakes out of this quantity of mixture. Place your oatcakes onto the baking tray, evenly spaced apart and bake in the centre of the oven for around 12-14 mins, until light golden on top and just starting to colour at the edges. 

When you are happy the oatcakes are baked remove from the oven and leave to cool for around 15 minutes on the tray. Lift the warm oatcakes from the paper and leave to cool on a wirerack. All done!


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Rummy Date and Banana Bread

I admit, I came up with this one as I was looking to use some wholemeal flour I had leftover from recent baking adventures. However, I was so pleased with the result I felt I must share it with you all. I've made banana bread many times before, but this one has a few extra special twists, such as the addition of sweet and syrupy dates, a touch of cinnamon and a heady dash of rum. I've also used light agave nectar in placed of refined sugar and no dairy, so you could say it's not so naughty but nice. ;-)

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus soaking time for the dates)
Baking time: 70-75 Mins
200g Hadrawi Dates (Or Medjool)
100g Agave Nectar (Plus a little extra to drizzle)
90ml Rum
90ml Boiling Water
215g Wholemeal Flour
2tsp Ground Cinnamon
1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1tsp Baking Powder
2 Large Eggs (Beaten)
2 Ripe Bananas (Well mashed)

For a really soft and sticky texture you'll need to soak your dates for a few hours and ideally overnight, so grab a good size bowl and something to cover it with. Remove the stones from your dates, chop roughly and add to the bowl. Drizzle in the agave, then pour over the rum and boiling water. Leave to soak for a minimum of three hours, covering when the mixture has cooled to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3 and line a 2lb loaf tin with one of those loaf tin liners you can pick up now from the supermarket. If you don't have a liner then baking paper will do just fine. Add the flour, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder to a large bowl, mix together, then make a well in the centre. Pour in the beaten eggs, along with the cooled date mixture and mix together once more. Fold through the ripe bananas, getting right to the bottom of the bowl until you are left with a consistent batter, then pour into your prepared tin.

Bake in the centre of the oven for around 70-75 minutes, until a metal skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the loaf. When you are happy the loaf is baked remove from the oven and leave in the tin for ten minutes. Carefully turn out onto a wire rack, drizzle with a final lick of agave syrup and leave to cool until ready to serve. All done.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Wholemeal (and Dairy Free) Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now I wouldn't call myself a 'healthy' baker, but as I become more educated on the impact of what I eat I find myself becoming equally more mindful when choosing the ingredients. That doesn't mean I compromise on taste or texture however, as these delicious cookies demonstrate. They may be wholemeal, dairy free and relatively low in refined sugar, but they are still sweetly satisfying and deep in flavour. Yum!

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus some chilling time)
Baking time: 15 Mins
75g Smooth Organic Peanut Butter
110g Raw Cane Sugar mixed with Stevia (Available from most supermarkets)
1 Large Egg
1tsp Vanilla Extract
75g Coconut Oil (Melted)
100g Wholemeal Flour
1/2tsp Baking Powder
75g Jumbo Oats
150g Dark Chocolate Chips
50g Toasted Flaked Almonds

This quantity of mixture will make 12 big cookies. Begin by creaming together the peanut butter and sugar, then beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla extract and coconut oil. Add the wholemeal flour, baking powder and oats, then mix to a sticky dough. Toss in the chocolate and almonds then fold through until evenly combined. Spoon the loose dough onto some cling film, wrap up and place in the fridge to chill for at least two hours.

Once the dough has firmed up the fridge preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line two large flat baking trays with baking paper. Take the dough out of the fridge and divide into twelve. Roll each portion of dough into a ball and place onto your prepared baking trays. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 15 minutes, until the dough has spread, is golden brown and just starting to darken at the edges. When you are happy the cookies are baked remove from the oven, carefully slide the paper onto a wire rack and leave the cookies to cool. They are now ready to serve, so get the kettle on!