Chocolate & Caramel Flapjack Bars

image

I deliberated whether to post this recipe or not because I wasn’t happy with the pictures. I’m still restricted to using my camera phone and taking a half decent picture can be challenging at times! But then I thought, why am I letting my frustrations get in the way of posting what is a lovely recipe? Sometimes I’m a little too hard on myself.

These flapjack bars are quite delectable. A chewy, buttery flapjack topped with gooey, soft caramel and a layer of chocolate. Messy to eat but very, very yummy.

Chocolate and Caramel Flapjack Bars Adapted from BBC Good Food

200g butter
200g demerara sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
350g rolled oats
One Tin of Caramel (dulce de leche)
200g Plain or milk chocolate
1 Tbsp sunflower oil

Preheat oven to 160C. Grease and line a 22cm square tin.

Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup together in a large pan. Once melted, stir in the oats. Pour into the lined tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the flapjack feels quite firm and looks golden. Do bear in mind that the flapjack will firm up quite a bit while cooling, so a little give when you prod the mixture is ok!

Leave to cool for at least two hours. Once completely cold pour over the tinned caramel and spread out. Place in the fridge for an hour to set.

Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water and stir in the oil. Remove the flapjack from the fridge and pour over the chocolate. Place in the fridge. Once the chocolate has set, cut into bars.

image

Blood Orange Syrup Loaf Cake

image

I do realise I’ve gone slightly overboard on the orange theme this past month. This will be the last citrus themed post for a while, I promise!

image

But aren’t blood oranges pretty? They cheer me up just looking at them. I still haven’t come across any really vibrant,ruby red varieties so far though!

image

This cake is so gorgeous to look at and tastes lovely. It’s a variation of one of my all time favourite cakes – Nigella’s lemon syrup loaf cake.

The candied oranges are entirely optional of course, but I just adore the way they look, sitting brightly on top of the cake. Believe me, the sight of this cake in your kitchen is a lovely antidote to all this dull, grey weather we’ve been having lately.

Blood Orange syrup loaf cake
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s “How to be a domestic goddess”

175g caster sugar
Zest of one blood orange
150g soft butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
175g self raising flour
3 tablespoons milk

For the syrup:

100g icing sugar
About 4 tablespoons orange juice

Butter and line a 1lb loaf tin. Rub the orange zest into the sugar until the fragrance of orange is aromatic. Add the soft butter and beat until very light and fluffy. Slowly add the beaten eggs. Fold in the flour and milk until you have a smooth batter. Pour into your loaf tin and bake for 40-50 minutes or until well risen and golden.

While the cake is baking, you can get on with making the syrup. Simply place the icing sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan and heat gently until the icing sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Once the cake is out of the oven, carefully pierce it all over with a skewer going right to the bottom. Then take your orange syrup and pour it all over the cake, making sure the middle and sides have had a good soaking of syrup. Leave to cool before removing from the tin and peeling off the paper.

Icing drizzle (optional)

75-100g Icing sugar
About half of the juice of one orange

Simply mix together until you have a smooth, thickish icing.

For the candied oranges, wash and dry your orange thoroughly. Slice into thin slices, as thin as you can manage. Take 120ml water and 100g sugar and place in a medium pan. Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Gently place your orange slices in the pan. Gently simmer for about 20 minutes, turning each oranges slice after about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the pan and don’t let it get too hot! The orange slices will be very sticky once ready, so carefully remove them from the pan with tongs (silicone ones are useful here) and place on baking parchment.

image

image

Date & Walnut Scones

image

I decided to have a sort out of my baking cupboard this morning and found several half opened packets of bits and pieces including dates and walnuts. The obvious thing to make would have been a date and walnut loaf, but since I only made that very tempting peanut butter cake yesterday we so don’t need anymore cake in the house!

I’ve always had a fondness for dates. I tend to buy lots of them over Christmas time because they remind me of my grandad. He loved them and when we went shopping he would always buy a couple of boxes of sweet, sticky dates from the greengrocers for us to share.Happy times :-)

So I decided to try some scones and here is the result. They turned out pretty good – the dates add a lovely toffee like chew against the crunch of the walnuts.

Date & Walnut Scones
Makes around eight, depending on the size of your cutter

150g self raising flour
75g wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp salt (only if using unsalted butter)
1/2-1 tsp mixed spice
50g butter
50g light brown sugar
50g dates, chopped
25g walnuts, chopped fairly finely
150ml milk

Sieve the flour and salt (if using) into a bowl. Stir in the brown sugar, dates and walnuts. Pour in the milk and mix to a soft dough. I’m always cautious of overmixing when making scones so I use my hands and stop mixing as soon as the mixture comes together. Then I tip the mixture out on to a floured work surface and lightly fold the dough over on itself a few times until smooth. Pat out into a round, about 1 inch thick. Using your cutter, cut into rounds. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. By that time they should be well risen, golden and smelling lovely!

image

Peanut Butter Cake

image

Sometimes you see a recipe that makes you think, I need to make that asap! This cake was one of those recipes. My lovely friend Anna of Anna’s Kitchen Table made this gorgeous peanut butter cake and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I was doing pretty well this week, not eating chocolate, eating fruit every day, drinking more water.

But I just cannot turn down anything that involves peanut butter. I can’t do it. You know Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter cup ice cream? It’s in my top ten favourite things in the whole world.

So I just had to make it to get it out of my head.

So I did and it did not disappoint. This is one luscious cake! But with peanut butter, dulce de leche (tinned caramel), milk chocolate, caramel peanuts and Reeces pieces how could it be anything but amazing?

Resistance is futile.

image

Get the recipe here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/10499/peanut-butter-cake

“Bung it in” spiced vegetable soup

image

This afternoon I felt tired, cold and achy. When I feel this way I almost always crave soup. The boys were having mini naans with the leftover curry sauce I’d made the night before. They would eat naans every night if they could get away with it!

Warming, spicy comfort in a bowl. It certainly made me feel better. I also felt good about the fact that I used up a load of veg that had been sitting unused and unloved in my veg box :-)

“Bung it in” spiced vegetable soup

Whatever veg you may have lying around – a quick rummage through my veg box this evening discovered a butternut squash, one sweet potato and six carrots that had seen better days.
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
Drizzle of oil
Approx 1 litre of vegetable stock

Chop up your veg into chunks and throw in a roasting tin. Sprinkle over the ground cumin, coriander and a good grinding of black pepper. Drizzle over the oil and give the tin a little shake to evenly coat the veg in the spices and oil. Roast at 200C for around an hour or until the veg is soft.  Pour into a large pan and add 1 litre of vegetable stock. Blitz everything together with a stick blender. Simmer for five minutes then taste for seasoning. You could add a little extra cumin at this stage if you like.  For the finishing touch I added a swirl of natural yoghurt and a sprinkling of chilli flakes.

Credit-Crunch-Munch-Just-Pic

I’m sending this recipe over to Camilla at Fab Food 4 all and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours for credit crunch munch.

Sour Cream Banana Bundt cake

image

It suddenly dawned on me this morning that I hadn’t done any proper baking this week. Which is so not like me when I’m on holiday! But what I have done is spend some much needed quality time with my lovely hubby. It’s been a wonderful week and I’ll be quite sad when we have to go back to the daily grind next week. But then again, those bills won’t pay themselves so we will just have to get on with it!

So while I was having my coffee this morning I noticed the four brown speckled bananas sitting on the counter beside my bread bin. Good excuse to make a banana loaf, I thought to myself. But what I’ve really fancied making for a while now is a Bundt cake, so I pulled my trusty Bundt tin out of the cupboard and began making Dorie Greenspan’s classic banana Bundt cake.

This cake is pretty plain, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. When I make banana cake I usually add a whole array of other ingredients, such as nuts, chocolate chips or spices like cinnamon or nutmeg. This cake has none of those, although there’s nothing to stop you doing so if you so desired.

The high sour cream content ends up giving the cake a beautifully tender crumb. Absolutely lovely to eat.

The lemon icing glaze sets this cake off.perfectly, but you could add a pretty dusting of icing sugar instead.

Sour Cream Banana Bundt Cake Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking from my home to yours”

450g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
200g unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 very ripe Brown bananas, mashed
240ml sour cream or plain yogurt

Icing Glaze

100g icing sugar
juice of about 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 180C.

Butter your Bundt tin very well, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies of the tin. Or you could use cake release spray (I love the stuff!)

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Slowly add the beaten eggs, beating very well until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla and the mashed bananas. Fold in half the flour and all the sour cream/yoghurt. Add the remaining flour and stir lightly until the mixture is smooth. Pour into your tin and bake for 55-70 minutes or until the cake is golden brown, well risen and springs back when lightly pressed. A skewer inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean.

Leave in the tin for five minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack. Leave to cool.

When the cake is cool, mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice until you have a smooth runny-ish icing. Spoon over the top of the cake and let it fall over the curves of the Bundt :-)

image

Blood Orange Curd

image

image

January is such a bleak depressing month, but for me there is one silver lining – the seasonal produce is fantastic. There is an abundance of lovely fruit and veg to cook with – kale, cabbages and beetroot are all at their best right now and not forgetting the wonderful Seville oranges! On which there will hopefully be a post about very soon – I’m going to attempt to make marmalade this week!

However, my favourite seasonal gem has to be blood oranges. Their beautiful ruby colour draws me in, but I also love the taste – they have a slightly sour edge that is not dissimilar to grapefruit. They are especially lovely in fruit salads. Or simply on their own with some Greek yoghurt and a drizzling of honey. Having thought of this, I must go and buy some more! Yum.

I’m a huge fan of lemon curd and I”ve always wanted to try an Orange version. So last night that is just what I did! While watching Sport Relief Bake Off :-)

Their vibrant colour ends up somewhat lost once the curd is made – it doesn’t turn out as bright as you imagine, but still pretty to look at.

I have to admit I was pretty disappointed when I cut into my blood oranges. They weren’t as red and gem like as ones I’ve had in the past. But the beautiful, fresh fragrance hit me as soon I cut them open.

image

So without further ado, here is my recipe for blood orange curd. For winging the recipe I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, so if you try it do let me know what you think! I love to get feedback.

Spreading this gorgeous orange curd on fresh bread, crumpets or whatever you feel like will lift your spirits on a cold, grey January morning.

Makes two large or three small jars. To sterilize the jars, all I do is wash them (and the lids) in very hot soapy water. Give them a good scrub, rinse them, shake off the excess water and place them in a very low oven (110C) to dry. I do know a lot of people who just pop them in the dishwasher – I don’t own one but if you do then go for it!

Blood Orange Curd

Three blood oranges
One lemon
200g caster sugar
6 egg yolks and two egg whites
150g unsalted butter, cubed

Zest the oranges and lemon and squeeze the juice from them. Make sure you get as much juice as possible. Finely chop the zest.

Place the orange/lemon zest and juice, sugar and butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Melt over a low heat until all the butter has melted and everything is smooth. Very slowly add the beaten egg, a little at a time, stirring the whole time. Make sure the heat isn’t too high – you don’t want orange flavoured scrambled eggs! Once all the egg has been added, continue to stir over a low-medium heat until the curd thickens. How long it takes depends on the heat of your hob – mine took about 8 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture easily coats the back of a spoon without running down. At this stage, take the curd off the heat immediately and pour into your your sterilized jars. The curd will thicken a little more as it cools.

image

Tea Time Treats

I’m sending this recipe over to Jane at the The Hedge Combers who is hosting this month’s Lavender and Loveage tea time treats. The theme for January is eggs!

Saturday night treat meal – Steak with mushroom & Stilton sauce/Sticky Toffee Cake

image

Hello! I promised you some more dinner ideas so I’m starting off with a simple one…this is a super quick and easy steak sauce recipe to have in your repertoire, it’s really delicious and me and hubby love it! So this is what you need for two people….

25g Garlic butter
One Shallot, finely chopped
A handful of mushrooms thinly sliced
A small tub sour cream (Around 150ml)
Around 75-100g Stilton or any other blue cheese – how much you add very much depends on your personal taste

After cooking your steaks (using the same pan) melt the garlic butter. Add the chopped shallots and gently fry for five minutes until soft. Drop in the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Pour in any juices from the resting steaks. Give everything a good stir and add the sour cream, stir again and crumble in the stilton. Give the sauce a taste, season then add some more stilton if you like. You can add as little or as much as you like. Give the sauce a final stir then pour over your rested steaks :-)

image

If you have room for something sweet, may I suggest this beautiful sticky toffee cake? Unlike some sticky toffee puds, it’s quite light so it doesn’t sit too heavily on your tummy. I served this with my favourite Mackies vanilla ice cream and it was perfect :-)

image

 

Sticky Toffee Cake Adapted from The Clandestine Cake Club Book

225g dates
100ml milk
100ml water
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
120g soft butter
170g light brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1tsp vanilla extract
170g self raising flour

Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas mark 4. Grease and line a 20cm round tin.

Place the dates in a saucepan and add the milk and water. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until all the liquid is absorbed by the dates. Remove from the heat, leave to cool for a minute then stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Leave to cool.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs gradually. Add the vanilla and cooled date mixture. Sift in the flour and fold in gently until the mixture is combined well.

Pour into the cake tin and bake for 45-55 mins or until well risen and a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Toffee Sauce

50g butter
100g light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
75ml double cream

Simply place all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until you have a gorgeous shiny sauce. Pour over the cake and serve with cream or ice cream :-)

image

image

I’m sharing these recipes over at A Mummy Too for recipe of the week.

Here’s to a few changes…

image

So…I’ve been thinking about making a few changes to this blog for some time now. I feel it has, like myself, gotten stuck in a rut lately and I want to freshen it it up a bit. I’m not talking about anything too drastic! I’ve been blogging exclusively from my phone for months now and it’s been quite limiting at times. Sure I can do the basics without any problems, but when it comes to the more complicated blog admin it’s been quite frustrating. I now have a tablet which will make things a bit easier, and give my poor phone a break!

Another frustration I’ve had lately is having no pc to upload my pictures. Again I’ve been resigned to using my phone for pictures and they haven’t been the best quality. But I’m trying my hardest to work with what I have to my best ability. If you have any tips on taking half decent food pics with a camera phone (I have a Sony Xperia and cannot get on good terms with the camera!) I’d love you to share them please! Maybe one day I will be able to splash out and treat myself to a decent DSLR -a girl has to dream, right?

I’ve been playing around with different themes but I haven’t decided which one I like best (I’m a fickle Gemini!) so you may see a few changes here and there before I make my mind up :-)

I’ve wanted to introduce more cooking to the blog for a long time. Let’s face it, one cannot live on cake alone no matter how lovely it would be ;-) I’ve posted the odd dinner recipe now and again, but expect to see a lot more in 2014. Don’t worry though – there will still be lots of baking! It’s just that I have a lot of my own dinner recipes I haven’t yet shared with you lovely readers, so watch this space :-D

I also plan to post anything that inspires me throughout the year, it doesn’t matter what it is – if I love it, I plan to share it here.

I would love to know what you think! After all, you lovely people are what keeps this little blog going :-D

If you have a blog, are you planning to make any changes for 2014?

Orange marmalade cake

image<

I have to confess something..I ate two slices of this cake for breakfast this morning.

I did go on a two hour power walk afterwards – I’m trying to sneak some exercise back into my daily routine!

After all the festive feasting, a zesty citrus cake is a nice change. As I get older I’ve noticed my tastes are changing – I have to be in a certain type of mood (usually PMT related!) to eat a rich chocolate cake, but put a lemon drizzle or tangy orange cake in front of me and I’ll devour the lot.

This cake can be made with any type of marmalade from shredless to a dark thick kind with lots of peel. I’m keeping an eye out for Seville oranges coming into season – I want to try and make marmalade this year! So hopefully there will be a post on that in the future :-)

But until then I give you orange marmalade cake – I haven’t tried this but I dare say you could forgo the icing drizzle and serve with a dollop of thick, cold Greek yoghurt. That doesn’t sound like a bad idea!

This lovely cake is adapted from a recipe by one of my favourite books, The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater.

Orange marmalade cake

200g sugar
Zest of one orange (I used a Clementine since I still have loads in the fruit bowl)
175g butter
3 eggs
175g self raising flour
3 tbsp Orange marmalade, any kind you like

Orange icing

50g icing sugar
Juice of half a small orange

Simply mix the icing sugar and juice together – if it’s too runny add more icing sugar and vice versa.

Grease and line the base of a 20cm cake tin.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Rub the orange zest into the sugar until the sugar is dampish and the fragrance of the zest is strong. This is such a great way to get good flavour in your cake! Trust me :-)  Cream the orange butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour and marmalade.

Bake for 50-55 mins or until risen, golden and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

When the cake is cold, drizzle over the orange icing. Eat!

image