Category Archives: Fruit

Vegan Banoffee Pancakes

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Fluffy American Banoffee pancakes, good for breakfast or dessert! And just in time for Pancake Day!

So, you might be seeing a lot more vegan recipes on here from now on! That story is for another post though, so here you’re just going to hear me marvel about how you can still make delicious, soft and chewy American pancakes with no dairy and no eggs!

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How, I hear you say?! Well, it seems that often the best results come from using no traditional egg replacers at all, but a simple bit of added baking powder. Perhaps the end result is slightly denser than an eggy-American pancake – but, with the added banana and caramel you are honestly not going to notice or care!

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I often make these for breakfast (without the caramel, but I will admit I add a light drizzle of maple syrup at the end!) but with Pancake Day fast approaching (28th of February people, get that date in your diaries!!) I thought I would add a special sweet pancake to my blog’s collection.

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I love caramel, and as I alluded to in my Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe, and have become slightly obsessed. It just goes with everything, and at least with some banana and cinnamon in here you can *almost* trick yourself into thinking these are healthy! They are delicious though, and perfect topped with ice-cream and lashings of the caramel sauce. These would make a fantastic Pancake Day dessert!

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Amaretti & Nectarine Muffins

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An unusual, but deliciously flavoured muffin; packed with fresh nectarine and amaretti biscuits, with a generous grown up twist of Disaronno, these muffins sure do make a tasty treat!

Ok, so I’ll admit by saying these muffins were much, much, much more delicious that they look! Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I should have considered leaving some of the delicious fresh nectarine and amaretti biscuits just for the topping… I just got a bit over-keen as it all smelt so good, and before I knew it, I’d run out and it was all in the muffin mix…. you live and learn – and, remember, never judge a book by it’s cover!

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So, personal complaint about the look of the muffins being over, lets get on to the good stuff. These muffins were delicious. I adapted a muffin that was suggested for a not-so-wholesome breakfast, and turned it into a good old fashioned tea time treat. I kept a lot of the goodness in there, namely, that they’re relatively low in sugar (for a muffin – there’s a still a lot of sugar in these!) as they get a lot of sweetness from the fresh nectarine, and use yoghurt in the batter, adding a good dose of protein.

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Then, what better pairing than fresh fruit and almond? I struggle to think of a fruit I wouldn’t want to add almonds to! Nectarines, peaches, plums and berries are, however, some of my favourite fruits to combine with almonds, and the combination in these muffins is perfect. To ramp up the almond flavour, I’ve used almond flavoured non dairy yoghurt, amaretti biscuits (they also add a delightful, sweet crunch to the soft and tender crumb of the muffin) and of course a healthy dose of Disaronno liqueur.

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Black Forest Naked Cake

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A decadent, rich, and indulgent naked cake. Featuring all the best loved flavours of the old school Black Forest gateau, this cake is ideal for a crowd on a special occasion.

There are many things I love about this blog, but giving me life direction surely has to be one of them! I started this blog when I really wasn’t enjoying adult life, and slowly it has helped me piece together what I want to do. Bravely, in about 6 months time, I will become a full time baker, specialising in allergy friendly bakes. I’m so excited about this, but also slightly nervous – cue getting in as much practice as possible of big, grand cakes!

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To celebrate a weekend bash at ours with some of our closest friends, and to use the best of the seasonal flavours (hello, fresh cherries!!), this cake came to life. My fiancee loves all things chocolate, so Black Forest flavours seemed perfect to combine the best of both.

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Black Forest gateau, for those of you not in the know, is a traditional German dessert made with light chocolate sponges, doused in the cherry liqueur Kirsch, filled and topped with whipped cream and black cherries. It is both rich and light at the same time, and these days slightly reminiscent of the 80’s!

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This cake takes all the best flavours of the gateau, and brings it into 2016 in the form of a naked cake. Between the three layers of chocolate sponge is a rich buttercream, dusted with cocoa, and then topped with a sour Morello cherry jam. The top of the cake is piled high with woodland fruits, before having a cherry compote and chocolate sauce drizzled over it.

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Although this cake would be perfect with a coffee at tea time, it screams to be eaten as a dessert. This cake is wonderfully rich and filling, so add a side of more fresh cherries and berries for contrast.

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Apple & Frangipane Gallette

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A family sized, sharing pudding made with homemade rough puff pastry, frangipane, and sweet apple compote, served with an almond liqueur custard . All far more complicated than it sounds, this is essentially a glorified apple pie!

You know how sometimes the best things are borne from accidents? Yeah, well this was one of them – an accident I’m absolutely thrilled happened and worked! So, what was this accident, I hear you ask? I happened to have a good portion of un-used frangipane in the fridge (as you do!), and had a bit of a craving for autumnal flavours. Combined with wanting to see if I could master rough puff pastry dairy free, this dessert began to take shape.

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If you don’t fancy going the whole hog and making rough puff, you could easily substitute this for shop bought puff pastry – make the rough puff if you have the time, as I promise it’s so rewarding seeing all the layers of flakey pastry once cooked and knowing you did that! – but I’ll admit cheating with shop bought does help this dessert come together a lot faster.

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The pastry shell looks a little fancy – you could even call it free form! – but is stupidly easy. Just don’t tell your impressed guests! You simply pile the fillings into the centre of a large circle of pastry, and pull in the corners and pinch them together. Wash on a bit of egg glaze, sprinkle with sugar, and voila; perfection.

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The fillings themselves are even more special (and simple) than the pastry. Frangipane is one of the simplest fillings you could ever make (chuck in a bowl and mix kinda simple), and gives any pudding a sweet, intense, almond-y flavour. Hidden under the apple compote, it’s the perfect complimentary companion to the other flavours.

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You could serve this with any accompaniment you like, but this Amaretto & Honey Custard is just perfect.

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Hazelnut Meringue Cake

 

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What on earth is a meringue cake?! Keeping all the best features of meringue, but add in a dark, sticky,  hazelnut-y chewiness, lightened by a sweet creme patissiere filling, with refreshing thin orange slices scattered through the middle, and you sort of get the jist… As an added bonus, this dessert is gluten, wheat and dairy free!

This is not a pretty dessert. Despite its fluffy and delicate appearance, it deserves to be smashed to pieces with a fork and gobbled up in seconds. Or at least – that was how we did it! The few lucky ones who got to taste test this recipe quoted it was their favourite bake of mine ever – and coming from them, that’s something! This is especially surprising as this recipe really came about in a funny way; driven by the desire to use up 4 egg whites and half a carton of hazelnut milk, I began really having to search hard for a recipe. Turns out that recipes do not often combine egg whites and milk, but then the wonders of the hazelnut meringue cake came back to me.

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I think this was something I first saw on bake off – and I loved the idea of turning a meringue into something other than a sweet, crispy treat. Although this still retains those things we love about a good meringue, it is also darker, slightly heavier and more chewy – and therefore ever so slightly more like a cake- because it is packed full of very finely chopped hazelnut pieces.

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I have filled the meringue cake with creme patissiere – which is a fancy name for a custard thickened with cornflour. So, as we’ve been practising our custard over the last few weeks, it will be an absolute doddle (which I can promise it will be…as it’s actually easier and much harder to get wrong than custard – the cornflour stops the eggs curdling, so unless you burn it, you’ll be hard pressed to ruin it!)!

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Lastly, buy the best oranges you can and very very thinly slice the segments. By layering these onto the creme pat, before sandwiching the second meringue on top, you’ve created a light, refreshing, fruity cleanser that balances the sweetness of the rest of the dessert. It’s this secret which will keep you coming back for more until it’s all gone in one sitting!

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Apple Dessert Pancakes

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A perfect dessert pancake; light and fluffy yet more indulgent than something appropriate for breakfast. This recipe would be ideal for Pancake Day which is now just around the corner on February 9th!

I really do love Pancake Day; maybe it’s because I’m very non discriminatory – I love all food related holidays!- but a day dedicated (sort of) to pancakes, what’s not to love! That being said, I almost always do the same two types of pancakes on pancake day. A good old crepe and these Blueberry Pancakes. This year, I thought it was time to branch out, so, voila – Apple Pancakes!

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These are as deliciously easy as the blueberry variety; a simple store-cupboard ingredient list, grated apple, and a pinch of cinnamon. To top them, I’ve made some caramelised apple slices which are more than a little bit naughty. The thin slices of apple are gently caramelised in golden caster sugar and butter and by letting them cook gently, the apples get very soft, and almost jelly like. Sounds odd, but trust me it works!

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I drizzled mine with maple syrup – I’ll use any excuse to add a bit of maple syrup wherever it can go, so these pancakes were of course not going to be an exception! A small scoop of ice cream didn’t go amiss either, but this really is entirely optional. Although the pancakes themselves are sweeter than I would make for breakfast, I need the ice cream to really make it feel like dessert.

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The other great thing about these pancakes (just in case I haven’t already given you reason good enough!) is that you can do them easily for a crowd. These pancakes keep really well once baked; just put in a foil covered oven proof dish to reheat again when needed. And if there’s something I like even more than eating the pancakes, it’s sharing the day with a big group of people, all huddled round a small table, stuffed to the brim, but begging for just one more pancake!

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Chocolate Pear Pudding

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The perfect dessert when you’re in a rush or need to feed a crowd. Relying on store cupboard ingredients and a bit of oven magic, this dessert needs less than 10 minutes of your time. All you have to do is open a tin and stir…

This is a very nostalgic dessert for me. Perhaps one of the first recipes my mum ever made from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Nigella Express’ recipe book, it is one we still come back to regularly. The beauty of it is simple; a warm, self saucing chocolate sponge pudding with hot, gentle tinned pears spread throughout that requires under 10 minutes of your time. You probably have most of the ingredients in your house already – perhaps just missing the tinned pears – so do like me and start keeping a few tins handy!

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Even more than its delicious simplicity, the recipe is an absolute doddle. In true Nigella style it is a throw-it-all-in-a-bowl-and-mix-it kind of recipe. And, actually, if you have a food processor, the mixing work is done for you.

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The key to getting this dessert spot on every time in my book is to undercook it vs the original Nigella recipe. I only cook mine for 20 minutes, and this ensures that I’m left with delicious hot batter all around the pears, making this a wonderful dessert of contrasts. I get a light and fluffy sponge with some crispy outer bits, piping hot juicy pears, and around it a sauce like batter with an intense chocolate flavour. It also makes the recipe incredibly forgiving to a little bit of over or under baking!

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If I’m in the mood, I’ll sometimes go one further and actually make chocolate sauce to drizzle on top for an even more indulgent pudding. A little scoop of ice cream never goes amiss either…

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Raspberry Marshmallows

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Light as air, melt in the mouth, flavoursome Raspberry Marshmallows. These are the absolute indulgent treat; if you’ve never had a homemade marshmallow before now, then I’m begging you to try this recipe!

As I mentioned before, I’m lucky enough to have gotten engaged to my boyfriend (or I suppose Fiancé now, although neither of us can say the word with a straight face!) in October. We’ve done a fair bit of wedding planning, including booking our venue, but it was whilst searching for one that I had my very first homemade marshmallow.

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As we went from venue to venue, plied with champagne and chocolates (not dairy free, unfortunately, although of course Matt did not complain!), we were really beginning to flag. And then, at the lovely Stanwell House Hotel in Lymington, they had trays and trays of these perfectly formed, identical, pink raspberry marshmallows. They were just…. amazing. So much so that although the venue wasn’t perfect for us, I couldn’t stop myself from going on and on about how amazing it was (read: the marshmallows completely overtook my opinion of everything else!).

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After eating a homemade marshmallow, I think it will be hard to ever eat a shop bought again. These just literally melt in the mouth… they’re so light and airy, and surprisingly less sweet than usual. Don’t get me wrong – they are still by far the sweetest thing I’ve ever baked. But as they’re not as sweet as usual, you can eat more… which is definitely dangerous. The other way in which they significantly differ is flavour. There’s no way you could mistake these for anything other than raspberry flavoured; whereas those pink marshmallows you buy in the supermarket bags – any idea what flavour they are? – they’re raspberry too!

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Before I started looking at homemade marshmallow recipes, I wasn’t really sure what was in them. When you look at the back of a shop bought packet, the ingredients are really a little vague. Proper marshmallows are egg white, sugar, gelatine, and flavouring – and are simpler to make than I thought. I’m not going to pretend that this is a super simple bake as it definitely requires a sugar thermometer and ideally a free standing mixer or second pair of hands. It also requires multitasking – they key to perfect marshmallows is getting your egg whites and sugar syrup ready at the same time. Even I will admit that I failed miserably on this at the first time – my egg whites got way over whipped, so I had to bin them and start again… whoops!

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I would definitely advise making these for a large group (or take the rest into the office!) as it makes a surprisingly huge amount from only two eggs, and this will help reduce the risk of eating them all… something I did seriously have to think about! I now daydream about the many other possible flavours I could make, so watch this space for more!

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Cranberry & Pistachio Biscotti

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A delicious, Christmas-y bake! Of course these would be appropriate at any time of year, but adorned with red and green jewels, it is hard not to associate these with Christmas! These would make an ideal last minute gift or treat for unexpected visitors!

So Christmas is very almost here, and I’m breaking with tradition of a Sunday post to give you an early present! These Cranberry and Pistachio biscotti are the perfect thing if you are still in need of a present for someone. I promise they’re fool proof, and the great thing is if you don’t have cranberries or pistachios, then you can easily substitute them for another fruit and nut combination.

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December always flies by, and this year has been no exception. I’m therefore really quite pleased with myself for having made the plethora of home baked gifts this year. That was what inspired this post – I wanted to make a Christmas worthy biscotti. Biscotti in Italian literally means twice baked, and in Italy, there is no association with Christmas at all. However, here in the UK, biscotti have become a sort of ‘only at Christmas time treat’, and to be honest, I can see why! Versatile in the sense you can use lots of different flavourings (read – whatever you have lying around the house!) and they last really well. They can easily go a week in an air tight tin with no issues at all, which is also partly what makes them such a great gift to give.

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I decided to use cranberries and pistachios for flavours here – there I was thinking “how original” until I googled it and found everyone has already done it! But, original idea or not, this is a great flavour combination. The slightly sweet and soft pistachios contrast with the sharp cranberries; the small amount of orange zest just lifts the whole biscuit and makes it perfect to go alongside a black tea or coffee (or do like the Italians and dip them in wine!!).

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So, if you find yourself in need of a simple bake with household ingredients, or worse still, need a quick present you can rustle up for an unexpected visitor, look no further! I can promise these will be ever so gratefully received.

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Merry Christmas!

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Baked Apples

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A delicious, healthy, low sugar dessert perfect for using whatever you have around the house. Stuffed with pecans, sultanas and cinnamon, the maple syrup and butter filling turns into a beautiful caramel sauce. 

The third and last of my healthy baking series are these simple baked apples. This is one of my favourite desserts all year round as it is so quick and involves things that I pretty much always have around the house. Plus, it is genuinely healthy (as far as you can have a healthy dessert of course!) because they are low in sugar and count as 1 of your 5 a day!

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I use maple syrup as the sugar in this recipe; you could use any sugar, but I personally love the flavour of maple syrup. Nothing compares in my book! Plus, as an unrefined sugar, it is marginally better for you that using refined white caster sugar… but let’s be honest – the choice should be all about the flavour (especially if it’s got base!). As the recipe also uses sultanas (you could use any dried fruit really) and a sweet eating apple, you don’t need to add much maple syrup at all. The dessert is already quite sweet on it’s own, making it a perfect weekday evening treat.

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If that doesn’t tempt you enough, then let me tell you that honestly the hardest bit of this dessert is cutting the centre out of the apples, which can be done with a small sharp knife or an apple corer if you’re lazy, like me. That really is as hard as it gets! Once this is done, all that is left is mixing the remaining ingredients and stuffing the centre, and then baking. Easy!

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My recipe uses sultanas, pecans and cinnamon – which is just perfect at this time of year when the warming spices infiltrate your house as the apples bake. But you could make these at any time of year, with anything you have in the cupboards really! Vanilla works well with walnuts and cranberries; or use pistachios and raisins. Really anything goes!

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