Monthly Archives: November 2015

Christmas Mince Pies!

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Homemade Christmas treats are one of my favourite things about this season. However, sometimes you just want a quick fix – especially when dealing with allergy friendly food, as pretty much everything tends to be homemade! These mince pies are made using shop bought cheat ingredients, with a few added extras to really make them special.

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Mince pies – I still find the name so unappealing, even though it has been many years since I got over that and discovered the world of mince pies. Despite the fact that the ‘mince’ it is talking about here is a sweetened dried fruit mix, I can’t help but picture beef mince… every time!

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Unfortunately for me, I discovered the joy of mince pies before I gave up dairy, and I still remember one Christmas going completely without as I struggled to find any tasty dairy free varieties, and I definitely felt I didn’t have the time to make them. When you look for mince pie recipes, they tend to be from scratch, making the mince meat, then the pastry, then baking. Quite frankly, who has got time for that, especially around Christmas?!

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So lo and behold this ‘recipe’ with only 2 core ingredients for mince pies. Yes, it is thoroughly cheating, but if at the end you are left with a much superior product to any dairy free mince pies you can find, so much the better! At a minimum, these can take 10 minutes to make, plus 20 minutes to bake. I’ve added in some extra ingredients to make these mince pies really scream of Christmas, but they are entirely optional and still  ridiculously quick.

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Filed under Christmas, Fruit, Pastry

Lemon Layer Cake

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Simple, luscious Lemon Cake – a simple sponge recipe perfect for a laid back treat, or decorated for an occasion. Drizzled with lemon juice, the sponges are extra moist, which means it’s perfect to make a day or two in advance!

Unlike a lot of my recipe posts which are inspired by whatever I fancy baking at the time, this one came about for a very specific reason. As I mentioned, my boyfriend and I have just come back from an amazing holiday in Australia, but what I didn’t tell you at the time was that we got engaged!

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Since we’ve been back, life’s been even more busy and hectic than before (although certainly in a good way!) and so it was an absolute relief for us to be invited away for the weekend by a friend. I thought a celebration cake was more than appropriate to make – and using one of my favourite flavours, this luscious Lemon Layer cake came about.

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This cake uses my usual sponge recipe but with a real punch of lemon in the sponge and the buttercream. Not only full of lemon zest, I’ve also smothered the sponges in lemon juice before cooling and covering in buttercream. The purpose of this was two fold – 1) I was making the cake the day before serving, which means it can be difficult to still have that ‘freshly baked’ texture, and 2) who doesn’t love a good, moist (sorry, I know lots of people hate the word, but it’s just so appropriate!) sponge cake.

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I suppose the process of adding lemon juice to a sponge is hardly new – it is exactly what you would do with a lemon drizzle, just minus the sugar. I think since coming back from holiday I have continued to be conscious of my sugar intake (thanks Jamie O!) and there will be more on this soon!

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So for now, I hope you can enjoy this cake and I hope your buttercream covering goes smoother than mine (the pun was certainly intended here – I’m still very much working on my decorating skills!). With the holiday season fast approaching, you never know when you too might need a quick celebration cake up your sleeve!

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Fruit Scones

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Light, crumbly, fruit scones – packed full of sultanas, these scones only need a light spread of jam and a teaspoon of your favourite jam to achieve perfection. This reliable Delia recipe has been a family favourite for many years and never fails to delight.

So, I’m going to put it out there – my favourite time of the day to eat a scone is for breakfast. Now, I know what you’re all thinking. That is more than a little bit strange! In Britain, scones are a traditional afternoon tea treat. However, many moons ago my mother, who comes from Belgium, thought she would try and learn to make scones (she’s an absolute expert, and I have to admit hers always come out better than mine!). Her trusty Delia book did not give any indication of when these should be eaten, and so she made them for breakfast. And although it may not be conventional, it’s no more odd than eating a croissant and jam before 9am!

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You can of course still eat these at tea time – I tend to make mine as ‘mini’ scones, so you get to feel naughty and eat more than one – but I really consider them an any time of day treat. And as these scones have a generous amount of sultanas in them, you can kid yourself into thinking they count as one of your 5 a day!

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Now there may be many of you who are wondering what is a scone? And is it pronounced ‘skon’ or ‘scone’ (like cone with an ‘s’ at the front). Although I can’t answer the debate on pronunciation, I can explain what a scone is! Technically, it is a type of dough enriched with eggs and butter, where you start as if you were making pastry by rubbing the butter into the flour and sugar to make crumbs. The effect creates a crumbly half bread, half pastry product – crumbly and light, a good scone should melt away in your mouth, and provide a buttery texture and taste which is perfect for lashings of jam on top.

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Traditionally scones are served with jam and clotted cream – however our dairy free version comes with a nice bit of dairy free butter. Unfortunately I think clotted cream is just one of life’s pleasures we may have to go without, but there are other upsides – no cream means you can definitely have at least 1 more scone!

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Cheat’s Chocolate Soufflé

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A simple and impressive dessert, perfect for any occasion or just because you want dessert on a Tuesday! A chocolate lover’s delight, it really needs no accompaniment other than a spoon…

Chances are if you’ve been to my house for a meal, you’ve eaten this dessert. And in all those times, with all those people, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love it. Who wouldn’t?! Imagine a small amount of the lightest, most delicate, warm chocolate sponge around the outside, and then in the middle a warm, velvety smooth, rich, liquid chocolate centre. It’s like the centre of a Lindt chocolate, but warm and somehow lighter. Just perfect in my book.

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This dessert is part soufflé, part chocolate fondant. I’ve called it a Cheat’s Chocolate Soufflé as although the ingredients and baking method are right for a soufflé, the end result (what with that gloriously rich chocolate centre oozing away) is more like a fondant. However, unlike a chocolate fondant, this dessert does not require the hair-raising moment of trying to turn it out of its tin in one piece. It’s just the dish, a spoon, and you.

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So now we’ve established what this dessert is, how can it be ‘easy’?! I promise it is… in essence, it is melted chocolate and butter mixed with egg yolks, with fluffy egg white folded in (and trust me, you can knock all the air out of your egg whites and the end result will still be fantastic) – all kid’s play really! The trickiest bit, honestly, is baking them for the first time. This is a real test of how temperature accurate your oven is. Don’t be disappointed if on the first try you’re not left with enough of the liquid centre… next time (and I promise, there will be a next time once you’ve tried it), just reduce your cooking time by 2 minutes, and I promise they’ll be perfect.

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So, if you know a chocolate lover or just need something to hit the spot, give this a go. I promise you won’t be dissapointed!

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No Knead Raspberry Breakfast Bread

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A deliciously fruity, warm bread – ideal for a weekend breakfast in bed on a cold, crisp morning. Stuffed with goodness from wholewheat flour, oats, and seeds, it will keep you going all morning long. 

So we’ve just got back from the most amazing holiday in Australia. It is definitely fair to say that we’re having a big case of the holiday blues… Coming from a wonderfully pleasant 30 degrees, blue skies and sunshine, the endless grey and drizzle back home has certainly been a bit of a shock to the senses! That being said, the trees have exploded with colour all around us whilst we’ve been away, and the leaves on the floor are just begging to be kicked around in childish delight. There are definitely upsides to an autumn at home.

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Another upside to this part of autumn is that we are in full on autumn/winter food mode. Think stews, casseroles, roast lunches, pies…. the list goes on. I think this bread fits into this category perfectly; warming and cosy, but cheery. This bread just screams to be eaten in bed – or at least pyjamas. It’s made for a lazy morning, perhaps pouring over the papers in bed with a coffee on a day when there’s no where to be. That’s my kind of weekend day!

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I’ve used raspberries as per the original recipe – they also happen to be my favourite fruit, so I’ll use them every chance I get – but you could use any kind of berries. I think mixed frozen berries would work particularly well, and they are a lot cheaper than fresh which is always a bonus!

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I’ve also included a super simple recipe for Honey Butter (think just honey… and butter). Of course you could just spread a little dairy free butter on, but it works brilliantly with the honey and it adds a little touch of luxuriousness . I think it needs a bit of sweetness to combat the wholewheat flour and seeds savoury flavours, and it really helps emphasise the raspberries.

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