Friday, 17 November 2017

Gluten Free Chocolate and Hazelnut Cakes with Amaretto Prunes

Isn’t it funny that the most common reaction to the word ‘prune’ is one of distaste and disgust. Perhaps it is a historical thing, because honestly I don’t know how one can fail to love them. All sweet and soft and jammy they are soooooooo delicious and brilliant in cakes or muffins. Here I’ve steeped them in amaretto overnight before folding them through a cheeky chocolate and hazelnut batter. Ooh ooh, did I mention this one is also gluten free? Huzzah!

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus overnight steeping time)
Baking time: 60 Mins
175g Soft Prunes (Roughly chopped)
50ml Amaretto
175g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
200g Golden Caster Sugar
4 Large Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Extract
200g Ground Toasted Hazelnuts
2tbsp Cocoa Powder (Plus extra for dusting)
1tsp Baking Powder
150g Dark Chocolate (Roughly Chopped)

The night before you want to bake this pour the Amaretto over the chopped prunes, cover and leave to steep overnight.

The next day preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a 20cm deep, loose bottomed baking tin with baking paper, or one of those handy cake tin liners. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time along with the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl mix together the hazelnuts, cocoa powder and baking powder, then add to the wet ingredients and mix to a smooth, consistent batter. Fold through the chocolate, along with the prunes and steeping liquor, then spoon into your prepared tin.

Bake in the centre of the oven for around 60 minutes, until the cake has risen and a 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 leave to cool in the tin. Once cool carefully remove from the tin and give a final dusting of cocoa powder. Done!

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Almond and Sultana Muffins

I admit, I only really made these muffins as I had an idle hour to fill. However, they were rather well received, so thought I’d better share the recipe! The best thing about this one is it’s versatility and you have free reign to tinker as you see fit. I’ve gone with sultanas and finished with flaked almonds, but you could use other fruits and nuts, chocolate chips or even really naughty things like chunks of toffee or smarties!

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking Time: 30-35 Mins
110g Ground Almonds
50g Wholemeal Self Raising Flour
1/2tsp Baking Powder
150g Light Soft Brown Sugar
125ml Vegetable Oil
2 Large Eggs (Beaten)
1/2tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2tsp Almond Extract
1/2tsp Orange Extract
200g Sultanas
A handful of Flaked Almonds

Let us begin. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a muffin tray with nine paper cases. In a large mixing bowl mix together the ground almonds, flour and baking powder, then add the sugar and repeat. Make a large well in the middle, then pour in the oil, eggs and extracts. Mix to combine, getting right to the bottom of the bowl, then fold through the sultanas.

Spoon the batter equally into your cases and scatter the flaked almonds over each. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 30-35 minutes, until a sharp knife inserted into one of the muffins comes out clean. When you are happy that the muffins are baked remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes. This just allows the muffins to firm up a bit as the tray cools. Transfer each muffin carefully to a wire rack to cool and your work is done!

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!