Tag Archives: Baking

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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Health(ier) Maple & Pecan Flapjacks

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A healthier flapjack recipe – just as tasty, but with no dairy, wheat, gluten or refined sugar! Although not as nutritious as a piece of fruit, there are worse things you could eat!

Flapjacks; although kind in appearance and reminiscent of school lunch boxes and picnics, they are generally not a healthy treat with so much butter and sugar. Yes, they may be oat-y, but trust me, normally, the bad definitely outweighs the good!

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This version contains no dairy (would you expect anything else?!), wheat, gluten, or refined sugars. But I’m not going to pretend that these are ‘healthy’… they do still contain good amounts of fats and sugars, but here it is about recognising that you can make a bad or a better choice in those categories. This is a great recipe when you feel you want a treat; but particularly at this time of the year when our diets tend to go out of the window slightly with the copious amounts of sweet treats and drinks, it’s good to have a choice.

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I’m a big maple syrup fan – and combined with pecan nuts, it’s flavour is intense enough not to need help from a long list of ingredients. I like to use quite a strong maple syrup – a 2 or 3 on the strength scale – which does help the flavour pack a punch, but you can of course use a lighter flavour version.

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By using just maple syrup in the recipe, we’ve avoided having any refined sugar in the recipe. Of course maple syrup is still sugar – you can’t get away from that fact – but as it contains more than just sugars in it’s make up, you eat less true sugars per gram. That doesn’t give you free reign to eat as much as you want, but again it’s about understanding how to make the better choice.

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I’m praising myself slightly too much here for making these gluten and wheat free. As most flapjacks are oat based – and oats are not wheat – most will be gluten and wheat free, technically. The important thing is if you are making this for someone with a gluten intolerance, make sure you buy gluten free oats. Most oats are produced in wheat factories, so there is a very high level of contamination. So you have been warned!

 

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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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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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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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