Category Archives: Fruit

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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Filed under dessert, Fruit, Gluten Free, vegan

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

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A healthy low added sugar dessert, perfect for feeding a crowd in a hurry. It’s the perfect recipe to have up your sleeve in time for Christmas!

Yes, I’m sorry – I’m joining the bandwagon and mentioning Christmas! It just doesn’t seem possible that it’s that time already, but then here we are. This recipe, and the recipes over the next few weeks are very much inspired by my holiday to Australia, and perhaps not in the way you’d expect (spoiler: No crocodile or kangaroo ingredients in sight!)

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As a baking blogger, at times it can seem quite irresponsible filling up people’s news feeds with tempting desserts and sweet bakes. I often get asked by people how do I stay slim if I eat all of this – and there’s one giant secret. A good balanced diet!! Yes, I may eat cookies, and chocolate desserts, and ice cream – but not every day. Most days, if I want a dessert I’m reaching for something smaller, healthier, and simpler, and that’s what I want to share with you all.

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Australia fits in with this because I think they’ve really nailed how to do healthy the tasty way. Particularly in Melbourne, there were so many amazing cafes and restaurants packed with people, and all serving purposefully healthy, delicious food. It really made me think about why I hadn’t shared some of these recipes before…

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This Apple Crumble may surprise you as being ‘healthy’, but actually, despite its butter and flour filled topping, it contains low added sugar. At just over 6g of sugar per portion you can have either a whole portion of crumble, or one third of a piece of these Raspberry & Amaretti Brownies… and let’s be honest. Who has just one brownie!?

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The crumble also has less flour in the topping that normal. By using a mixture of porridge oats, nuts and flour you up the nutritional content of the top, plus you get way more crunchiness – perfect for a crumble topping in my book! You could even take the healthiness of this dessert one step further and use gluten and wheat free flour instead.

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Overall, I hope you enjoy this mini series of recipes. In the run up to christmas where everywhere is filled with unhealthy food, it can be nice to have a healthier choice when you just fancy a bit of pudding….

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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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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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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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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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Lemon Meringue Pie

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Sweet, tangy Lemon Meringue Pie. Impress your family and friends with this completely homemade dessert; You don’t have to tell them it is a lot simpler than it looks! 

Lemon Meringue Pie is really quite self explanatory, but just incase you’ve never eaten one… Imagine thin, crisp, just sweet pastry, with a generous filling of tart lemon curd which makes your house smell Amazing (capital letter definitely justified!) as it bakes, and then topped with soft, pillowy meringue, with a crisp, sugary meringue-crust on the top. Sounds great, right! Now imagine just how good it tastes…

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Lemon Meringue Pie is such a classic dessert for a very good reason. The combination of the sweet meringue and pastry, heightened by the sharp lemon curd filling just makes it the perfect way to end a meal. Although sometimes it can be on the sweet side, this recipe provides just the right balance of sweet and tart flavours, giving it an appeal to all the family.

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You can make the making of Lemon Meringue Pie as complicated as you like… or we can use a few cheats to really speed it up! The first thing that will be your friend if you are in a hurry is shop bought pastry. Although perhaps not as satisfying as making your own, it sure does speed it up if you need to do this quickly. And, most of them are dairy free! It is very surprising, but read through the ingredients and often they don’t contain any milk… Just avoid the ones that shout about being ‘all butter pastry’ obviously!

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The other way to speed this up is to make your lemon curd in advance. OK – so that’s not really ‘saving’ time, as you’ve still got to make it – but Lemon Meringue Pie does not keep very well, so if you’re short on time the day you want to eat it, taking it straight from a jar you’ve previously made is a great time saver. If you do need to make some just for this pie, then take my Lemon Curd recipe and only make 1/2 the recipe (which is a generous amount for this dessert). By making it right before you bake the pie, you save time not faffing around with sterilising jars and worrying about everything being squeaky clean – we do this normally because we want to be able to keep it mould free in the fridge for some time, but here it’s going to eaten that day so we don’t need to worry!

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So give this classic dessert a go, and you’ll find this will become a family favourite to go back to time and time again.

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Vegan Coconut and Blueberry ‘Cheesecake’

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A vegan dessert that has convinced even me it is possible to replace cheesecake. Although not cheese-y in the slightest, this is a soft, creamy and fruity dessert sure to fill that cheesecake gap in your life!

OK… Let’s be honest…It can’t really be a cheesecake without cheese. So I’ve named it ‘cheesecake’ as I just couldn’t think of a more apt name for this creamy, fruity, delightful dessert. The filling is soft and light, which surprisingly comes from cashew nuts, coconut milk and coconut oil. Sometimes I think coconut can be an over-used flavour in dairy-free baking, however I loved it paired with blueberries. It is certainly a favour combination I would like to try with other things – pancakes or french toast perhaps?!

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One thing that really attracted me to this recipe was that it used what I would call proper ingredients – sometimes I find that dairy-free and vegan recipes can have all sorts of weird ingredients in them and you have no idea what they are or where to buy them from. The creaminess in this ‘cheesecake’ comes from cashew nuts and coconut milk; together, when blended, they produce the most delightful, soft and creamy textured thick paste (sounds delightful, I know, but bear with me), which when chilled has almost the same texture as cream cheese. And because cashew nuts have such a gentle flavour, it leaves room for the coconut and blueberries to stand out.

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The other thing I have to admit is that I cheated slightly for the aesthetics of the dessert. This is very unlike me, but I have to admit I added a few drops of purple food colouring into the mix. Perhaps we have different varieties of blueberries here; whereas the blueberries from the original recipe turned the ‘cheesecake’ a brilliant hue of violet, mine turned it a distinct shade of grey… So I cheated and added a tiny bit of food colouring. Let’s be honest – it’s hardly the worst crime in the world and aesthetics of a dessert are important!

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As someone who has not eaten a real cheesecake for a very long time, this ‘cheesecake’ was delicious. It really hit the spot for a sweet creamy dessert, and the buttery biscuit base reminded me of the childhood cheesecakes my mum used to make. The dessert was also surprisingly easy and didn’t require baking. Really, apart from melting butter, this was more of an assembly job! The base is frozen, and, once chilled, the blended mixture is poured on top, and then the ‘cheesecake’ is frozen. Thawed thoroughly before eating, it looses any frozen texture and tastes deliciously like a chilled dessert. It may not be a real cheesecake, but it certainly came close!

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Raspberry Celebration Cake

IMG_2344A 3 tiered celebration cake; layers of delicate lemon sponge sandwiched together with raspberry buttercream and fresh raspberries, and covered in marshmallow-like American Frosting. Ideal for a special occasion celebration.

I’ve just started reducing my hours at work to concentrate more on blogging and turning this into a full time venture, and so it only seemed appropriate for the first bake on my day off to be something fit for a celebration. This cake is just that; delightfully tall, it just shouts ‘big occasion’ and is a wonderful mix of two of my favourite flavours – lemon and raspberries.

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Raspberries are best at this time of year when in season; whether they come from the supermarket, a pick your own farm, or even just picked from a bush at the side of the road, they are delicious. The sweet and sharp flavour works really well with cakes, as the sharp contrast can break through the sweetness – it works perfectly here with the American Frosting. This recipe also uses my Raspberry Curd to flavour the buttercream, giving it a strong raspberry flavour throughout.

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American Frosting is very different to a traditional buttercream; First off, there is no butter in sight. It is essentially a very soft type of meringue. It starts off as Swiss or Italian meringue (depending on if you have a sugar thermometer; I have a recipe for both methods below) but the sugar is not heated as high, resulting in a much softer and more marshmallow-like texture.

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I was inspired by a recent episode of The Great British Bake Off to give the American Frosting a try, and just like the contestants, I found it was not the easiest thing to make. The main place I went wrong was letting it cool too much before slathering it on the cake. Unlike meringue, which you would keep whipping until cool, you need to work with this whilst it is still warm. Follow that tip and you’ll find the recipe faultless.

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Lemon Shortbreads, Coconut Milk Whipped Cream and Berries

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Crumbly, buttery lemon shortbread cups filled with whipped coconut cream and raspberry curd, and topped with fresh raspberries. A delightfully simple dessert perfect for summertime.

You know those beautifully presented, tiny patisserie-type desserts? The ones that look just so appealing, delicate, and perfect? Yeah? Well, these were an attempt! Perhaps the presentation was slightly amiss, but they definitely delivered on taste. I also loved being able to use my Raspberry Curd in these, as usually it is reserved for cakes and ice cream toppings – but it just worked so perfectly with these flavours.

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These desserts look complicated and fiddly, like you’ve spent a lot of time and effort on them – but as with lots of my baking, I can assure you that is not the case! The only real effort required for these cups are the biscuits themselves, and they are as simple as you can get; they just look more fancy (and, therefore, more effort) than a normal biscuit because of it’s shape, which just comes from baking it in a cupcake tin.

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Once the shortbread cups are baked and cooled, the only other effort is whipping the coconut cream, which one could hardly call any effort at all! They are finished off by dolloping in a teaspoon of curd and the cream, and finally by popping a fresh raspberry on top. If you haven’t already made some raspberry curd (and don’t fancy the effort), a thickened raspberry puree would work just as well. These would make an elegant ending to a dinner party, or a lighter alternative to cake at tea time.

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Filed under Biscuits & Cookies, dessert, Fruit, Sweet treats