Seasonal Bakes #1- The Plum Crumble Cake

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Is it just me or does it feel like Autumn is here already? I spied this recipe in the freebie Waitrose Weekend magazine a couple of weeks ago and finally made it last weekend- it’s a good’un and perfect for a day spent inside hiding from the rain and grey skies (find the recipe here). Although an easy bake, it did create a fair bit of washing up, and if you also live with a nut allergy sufferer I can confirm that the recipe is fine if you just omit the almonds from the topping. Enjoy!

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Hot Cross Buns

Happy Easter- I hope you’re had a lovely weekend. I’ve spent a lot of time with friends, family and generally recharging my batteries after a few hectic months, which has been bliss. I’m only back at work for 3 days this week and then off for a week in sunnier climes which I am counting down to.

Yesterday I made my first attempt at homemade Hot Cross Buns. They were really easy, and better yet, delicious.

If you also want to give them a go, here’s how… Continue reading

Sunday Bakes #1

I’ve realised recently that my usual Sunday morning repetoire is not the most productive. Chris golfs most weekends, teeing off at 7:00 and isn’t back until nearly noon, so I have a tendency to embrace my inner sloth and lounge around until finally getting up just before he gets home. Whilst I might think I need the sleep, actually I then feel behind and groggy all day and never really get anything done.

Last weekend, I realised that if I lie in a little bit I really can have the best of both worlds- a decent amount of sleep AND get something done. I love baking, but it’s something I tend not to bother with- in a household of two and with one of us on a diet there’s not a lot of cake we can get through between us. So, Sundays are perfect for me to indulge my inner Nigella and also for then distributing said cakes to both our offices the next day- it’s win-win, surely?

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5 Ways With Mince Pies

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Most of us love a traditional shortcrust mince pie at this time of year, but if you’re looking for something a bit different, I’ve rounded up a few different ideas:

Shortcrust mince pies- the traditional and best. I like to make my own shortcrust pastry to this Jamie recipe, then once cut and in the tins, I add ready-made mincemeat, top with a lid or a star of pastry and bake for 15-20 mins at 200C in a fan oven.

Puff pastry mincemeat swirls– super easy to throw together in a hurry, try this recipe for starters.

Puff pastry mince pies– another idea, these are a flakier, more indulgent pie.

Filo mincemeat parcels– try this recipe for a lighter, crunchier mincemeat treat.

The non-mincemeat festive pie– I love these Pear and Cranberry tarts- delicious.

Cake Suitable for Guy Fawkes’ Night

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Today, I’m sharing my all-time favourite cake recipe. Being lucky enough to have an Autumn birthday, I’ve requested this as a birthday cake from my Mum year after year. It’s the most non-birthday cake cake ever, but is delicious, and so easy to make. The hardest part (purely because of the faff) is the peeling and chopping up of the apples. I’ve made up a batch of this for both Chris and I to take to work tomorrow, it’s so autumnal and perfect for Guy Fawkes’ Night. Continue reading

Gooseberry Sorbet

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I’m afraid life has run away with me and I’m behind on this one. I suspect most people’s supplies of gooseberries are long gone, but if you have some snuck away in your freezer, I urge you to give this a go- pretty simple and utterly delicious. After having had a lovely gooseberry ice cream at Mum’s the week before, when she handed me with a punnet of allotment surplus, I decided to give sorbet a go. I love stewed gooseberries, but Chris won’t touch them so I decided to make something that might satisfy his sweet tooth!

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The gooseberries Mum had grown were these lovely red dessert ones, but the recipe I found online is for the regular green ones. I tried out this recipe from Cook Your Dream and it was easy peasy. The only hassle is remembering to agitate the mixture often enough!

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Have you ever made your own sorbet? Is it something you’d like to try?

Easy Spiced Courgette Pilaf

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Faced with a glut of Courgettes and running out of ideas? Here’s a really simple summer supper that is equally delicious served straight from the pan or chilled and served as a salad- Spiced Courgette Pilaf. To serve 4:

Dice one medium Onion (red or white) and 3 small or 2 medium Courgettes. Fry in Olive Oil until softened. Add 2 tsp Garam Masala, 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin, 1/4 tsp Ground Turmeric and 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds. Fry for a couple of minutes and then add 240g Basmati rice and stir fry until the rice looks glassy. Add 480g of water (or if you don’t want to weigh the water, double whatever the volume of rice you used) and a chicken or vegetable Stock Pot and bring to the boil. Add the lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Leave for 12 minutes, returning to stir occasionally. Once the rice is cooked, take off the heat, season, stir well and either serve immediately or cool and serve cold.

Simple Summer Salad

A really simple, refreshing salad which is perfect as either a side dish or what the recipe intended it to be- a bruschetta or crostini topping. Gorgeous. This recipe serves 4 generously.

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What do you need?

  • 1 pack Feta or salad cheese
  • 1 big handful fresh mint leaves
  • 250g frozen peas
  • 350g frozen broad beans
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

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How to make?

Cook the Broad beans and drain. Leave the cooked beans to cool, and once cooled, pop out of their skins. Whilst the beans are cooling, cook the peas and then add to the skinned beans. Lightly press on the cooked beans and peas with a potato masher to ‘bash’ them but not completely squish them into oblivion!  Stir and crumble in the feta, torn mint leaves, a good glug of olive oil and season well. Mix all together and serve atop toasted slices of bread or as a side salad. Enjoy!

Iced pick-me-up

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Happy Sunny Saturday! Isn’t this heat wave incredible- I really can’t remember the last time it was possible to have a sunny day and then go to bed with the guarantee of another perfect day tomorrow, can you? It seems like years ago.

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I don’t know about you but on a hot, summer’s morning even I can’t face my beloved hot cup of tea when it’s been so warm overnight. However, I do still need a caffeine pick-me-up especially given how lightly I sleep in this heat. So here’s a really easy summer drink recipe- iced coffee.

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Here’s how to make your coffee in 5 easy steps:

  1. Make yourself a shot of espresso (or very strong coffee if you’re using instant)
  2. Add sugar to taste and allow to dissolve
  3. Fill a glass with ice (you will need a fair bit!)
  4. Tip the hot coffee over the ice into the glass
  5. Top up with milk, mix and enjoy your ice cold coffee

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Be warned though, these are really addictive and I’ve been limiting myself to one a day over the past week.

Have you made iced coffee before? Any other ideas? I’m thinking of trying out some iced green tea later today- I shall report back if successful!

Elderflower Cordial

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I’ve missed the boat a little on this one I’m afraid. Is there anything more Summery or more British than a glass of Elderflower cordial? Pimms or Wimbledon perhaps. My Mum makes this every summer, but this year I thought I’d make my own. You might be lucky enough to still have some Elderflowers around near you, but if not- bookmark this recipe for next year!

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To make 4 litres of cordial (a lot!), you will need:

  • 2½ kg white sugar, either granulated or caster
  • 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 20 fresh elderflower heads, stalks trimmed (from a nearby, not too road polluted hedgerow!)
  • 85g citric acid (from chemists or mine came from the local health food shop)

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  • Add the sugar and 1.5 litres of water to the largest pan you own and heat gently on the hob until the sugar dissolves- don’t let this boil.
  • Whilst waiting for the syrup to form, prepare the lemons- pare the rind using a vegetable peeler, and then slice what is left into rounds.
  • Once the sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat, and add the lemons and citric acid. Clean the elderflowers of dirt, bugs and pollution by giving them a quick swirl in a bowl of cold water before adding to the syrup mixture with the thick stalks removed.
  • Stir well and leave to infuse for around 24 hours.
  • Strain the cordial through an old tea towel to remove all pieces and petals of Elderflower.
  • Transfer to clean, sterilised glass bottles, seal and refrigerate.
  • The cordial should keep in the fridge for around 6 weeks- enjoy!

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And there you have it, an easy summer drink all ready to go. I just have bottles of the stuff now!

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Thanks to a free summer drinks guide from Waitrose, I have a host of Elderflower cocktail ideas lined up, so watch this space. Trying them all will be a tough job, but someone’s got to do it…

Based on the recipe from BBC Good Food here.