Monthly Archives: October 2015

1 Year Birthday!

Wow… I just can’t believe it’s been a year already! It has just gone by so fast! But to move on from dwelling over how quickly time is going, it has been an amazing year. I can’t believe looking back at my first few posts how far my blog has come. How many more people are reading. How much better my photographs are! How many more baking skills I have. How many more dairy free success we’ve had.

Without blubbering on too long, THANK YOU to all of you who read this. Thank you for coming back and following. Thank you for your amazing comments and support. It’s been a blast!

To celebrate, I thought I’d recap my journey a bit – with a countdown of 5 of my personal favourite recipes posted so far.

Thank you again, and here goes!!!

5. My very first post! Coffee and Walnut cupcakes. Genuinely one of my favourite cakes – ever. It’s just so hard to beat. I love it so much, this is the cake I ask my boyfriend to make me for my birthday almost every year! Also love the photos – my iPhone did me well!

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4. My most-viewed recipe (which still surprises me!) – Lemon & Blueberry Loaf Cake! What I like about this cake is how easy it is. Like a jazzed up lemon drizzle, it is low effort, quite quick and really delivers on taste. Love that when I baked it almost ALL the blueberries sank to the bottom because I forgot to roll them in flour… duh!

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3. Christmas Chelsea buns – these are a personal favourite because they are just so deliciously festive. I loved making these to take into work before Christmas last year. They disappeared so quickly and everyone love them, so I was happy! I’d really like to work on making more sweet, enriched bread doughs next year. Perhaps a new New Years resolution?!

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2.5. Because I just couldn’t pick 5!!!! This delicious Apple & Blueberry Frangipane Tart is another personal favourite. I’ve made it several times since, and it’s always just as delicious. I’m particularly proud of it because it was part of my New Year’s resolution for this year to learn how to make pastry. And this one just nails it, every time.

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2. In almost the top spot – My Healthy Granola! I love this recipe partly because it is different to the other many sweet bakes on here, and also because it’s a life staple in our house. I make it regularly, and often take it into work as a healthy snack. I also really love this photo. I think I can say it was this photo that made me want to learn more about photography and food styling.

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And 1………Pavlova! I knew before I started this post that this would be number 1. Pavlova is something I have really, really missed, and so gave me such personal satisfaction to know that I’d cracked it. And really, without the blog, I don’t know if I would have spent as much time researching and looking for alternatives to cream. I think it just would have been one of those things which I accepted I would never eat again, and so I really have to thank this blog and all of you for making sure that didn’t happen!

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Amaretti and Raspberry Brownies

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For Meg…

The chocolatiest, moistest, most delicious, decadent brownies ever. With fresh raspberries and crumbled amaretti biscuits, it takes the humble brownie to a whole new level of awesomeness.

We went up to stay with my brother and his girlfriend, Meg, for the weekend in their new house. I asked if they had any baking requests, and Meg told me all about these brownies. They originate from Jamie’s Italian, and Meg described them as the best brownie she had ever eaten. Well, challenge accepted!

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Moist from tons of chocolate and fresh raspberries, these are gooey to the max making them ideal for dessert. Almonds and raspberries are a classic, delicious combination; added to rich chocolate, all the flavours are enhanced and it creates the most decadent brownies. I love raspberries (in case you didn’t already notice from my many raspberry related posts!) and they pair brilliantly with dark chocolate. This recipe is no exception – the tart raspberries cut through the sweetness, leaving you feeling as though there is always room for another piece…

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I know I said in my last brownie post that there was no need to ever look for another brownie recipe, but even the most brilliant people can admit when they were wrong! For a dessert brownie this recipe really is fantastic, as it is much gooey-er than my go to recipe. This is from a lot of melted chocolate in the mix, whereas my usual recipe relies on it’s chocolate hit from cocoa powder. This definitely makes them a lot richer, and makes them feel more dessert like.

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I’m pleased to say these rivalled Jamie O’s (or at least, Meg said they did – having never tried them myself I, of course, could not possibly comment!). And so, challenge accepted, challenge won!

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Plum & Almond Custard Tart

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An elegant and deceptively easy dessert. An almond pastry case with juicy plum jewels set in a delicious, smooth and creamy almond milk custard. Delicious on it’s own, or served with ice cream or stewed fruits.

I really do love and believe in eating seasonally, and this dessert is no exception. At this time of year, when the berry season has drawn to a close and the stoned fruits are beginning to end, I don’t think there is anything better than baked fruits. Not only does it bring out their sweetness and flavour, it smells as it bakes festive and fills you with warmth. What a perfect way to welcome to cooler seasons that are approaching!

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Plums and almonds are a classic combination; the sweet, nutty almonds provide a delicate base flavour to the dessert, so when you get a pop of bright, tart plum in your mouth nothing distracts you from the flavour. That said – the two flavours really work together. The nutty flavour gives depth to the plums, something particularly desirable when using up the last of the season’s fruits.

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I’m using one of my favourite pastry recipes for this – it originally comes from my Apple & Blueberry Frangipane Tart – but I chose it because it turns out light and short every time. It is also a very forgiving pastry. What I mean by that is if yours crumbles to pieces as you are trying to line the tin (and see my tips and tricks on lining a tin with pastry here!) you really don’t need to worry. Just using your fingers and the offcuts of pastry, you can make your pastry look almost perfect, and it really doesn’t affect the results. Now, that’s my kind of baking!

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Chocolate and Salted Caramel Buttercream Cupcakes…Autumn themed!

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Dark and moist chocolate sponge topped with a wickedly moreish salted caramel buttercream, these cupcakes are delicious. Decorated with autumnal leaves and pumpkins, they would make a wonderful special occasion treat.

I tend to make a version of these decorated cupcakes every year. As we established last week, I love autumn, and so I don’t think there’s a better excuse to go all out. I don’t make decorated cupcakes very often; decorations made of sugar paste may look delightful but are pure sugar and E numbers at the end of the day – not something we should make a habit of eating! But still, sugar lecture over, decorated cakes are perfect for celebrating a special occasion and can take a plain cake to a magical place.

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However, these are not the slightest bit plain to begin with. A light, moist, chocolatey sponge – adapted into cupcakes from my favourite cake recipe – and topped with the most amazing caramel buttercream, they are delightful all on their own. The buttercream is, I think, particularly special. You’d think a caramel buttercream would be hard to make, but it is simply made with soft brown sugar! The, deep, caramel flavours are really brought out in the buttercream, and a small pinch of salt takes it to the next level. The soft brown sugar also gives the buttercream a gentle crunch, which contrasts beautifully to the soft sponge – I can’t wait to try this buttercream with other cakes!

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So… so far, we have a moist, chocolatey sponge and the most amazing caramel buttercream. Both very simple, right? Well, the decorations are no exception to this simple trend! They may look complicated, but I promise they really aren’t and do look very effective. I’ve put some step by step instructions below, and I really would encourage you to give it a try. The secret is all in the leaf cutters you can buy for a few pounds on Amazon!

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Sugarpaste is something I’m keen to learn and develop – so I had some fun creating the autumnal scene below. Some poor teenager has been dragged down to the family allotment to help pull up the pumpkins… he’s still got quite a few to go and does not look impressed!

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Apple, Cinnamon and Walnut Cake

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The perfect tea-time cake; soft, sponge cake dotted with walnuts and sultanas, with a delicious layer of cinnamon apples running through the middle and topped off with crunchy caramelised sugar. Delightful cold for afternoon tea or warm for an autumnal dessert.

I just can’t explain how much I love this cake. I think a lot of it is to do with autumn being my favourite season (just what is there not to love about cold, crisp, sunny mornings and red leaves?!) and this cake feels extremely seasonal; even though the ingredients are around all year round in the UK, the flavours really do taste like autumn on a plate. Sweet but tart apple, fragrant and warming cinnamon, with walnuts scattered throughout it fills your house with wonderful aromas as it bakes – it instantly puts me in the mood for warm, cosy jumpers and wooly socks!

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This cake is from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, and has only been adapted to make it dairy free. It is a delicious, dark sponge with chopped walnuts and sultanas throughout, with the cinnamon apples baked in a layer in the middle of the sponge. The apples keep the cake really moist which is a welcome contrast to crunch from the walnuts. The cinnamon really brings all the flavours together in an autumnal mishmash of goodness!

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The cake also uses light muscavado sugar rather than white caster sugar, which lends a very caramel-like flavour to the sponge. Again, it really adds depth of the other warming flavours in the cake, and goes really well with the tart apple. There is also more brown sugar and walnuts on top – which when baked, does caramelise and it gives a delicious, sugary, crunchy topping. Also means this cake is really quick to prepare – no icing needed!

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This might be my favourite set of photos… Perhaps I’m swayed by my love of the beautiful autumnal colours, or the fact that it was so fun to go hunting in the New Forest for the supplies! Either way, this cake is wonderful warm or cold served as a tea time treat – or, still warm, served with a spoonful of ice cream for a delicious, warming dessert.

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Filed under cakes, dessert, Fruit