Chocolate Bark

2015-06-20 09.15.35Your favourite chocolate sprinkled with some of your favourite flavours – what’s not to love?

This is almost not a recipe, but more of an assembly of ingredients which makes it perfect for people of all cooking abilities. It is also extremely easy to adapt the recipe depending on what you like.

I initially made this for Father’s Day (yes it has taken me a while to write this post!) for mine and Rien’s Dad’s. I’ve never gone crazy on Mother’s and Father’s Day but I like to do something thoughtful. Instead of just buying our the Dad’s chocolate, I decided to make them Chocolate Bark.

My Dad’s chocolate of choice is always dark chocolate. I added flavours I know he likes and would go really well with the dark chocolate; cashews, sea salt and chilli flakes. Add as much or little as you like, my Dad likes chilli so I added quite a generous sprinkle.

Rien’s Dad has a major weakness for Galaxy so I knew I had to use that. Unlike the dark chocolate, I added different chocolates I knew Rien’s Dad likes such as Malteasers and Minstrels as I wasn’t as sure of what flavours he would like. I finished it by adding some mini fudge pieces and gold sprinkles.

  1. Melt 400g of your chosen chocolate in a bowl set over simmering water – make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl and you stir the chocolate occasionally

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  1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Once the chocolate has completely melted, pour it onto the lined baking tray and spread until it is the thickness you would like
  2. Add any toppings/flavourings you want onto the chocolate and then put in the fridge for a couple of hours until set

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  1. Once hard, break the chocolate into shards and enjoy!

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I put the chocolate in cellophane bags and tied with some ribbon to make them look good but also manly!

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Stilton, Apple & Walnut Salad

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A delicious salad with salty stilton, crunchy walnuts and sweet, crisp apples. The perfect accompaniment to any BBQ or as a light lunch. I don’t like walnuts, or stilton – well I didn’t think I did until I tried this salad!

We were invited to one of Rien’s colleagues, Gordon’s, house for a BBQ. The weather that week had been lovely, but in true British weather fashion there were showers all day. It was quite amusing to see Rien out there amongst the other men BBQ-ing under and umbrella. Rien perfectly cooked the burgers so I was very impressed, he can now be trusted with the BBQ when we eventually get one in our new house.

Gordon’s wife, Cicely, made a range of delicious salads with one of them being this Stilton, Apple and Walnut salad. As I said I didn’t think I liked walnuts and stilton until I tried this salad. It looked so appealing I had to give it a try and I was definitely pleased I did. Separately I’m not still not sure how much I would like the flavours, but when you combine them they really compliment each other. The dressing is also unusual but really adds to the flavours and helps make the salad so delicious.

The day after the BBQ I tried googling for the recipe but couldn’t find anything that included the ingredients Cicely mentioned. I gave in and asked Rien to see if he could get the recipe for me. After days of almost constant nagging, he finally asked for the recipe. I’m not sure whether Cicely found the recipe somewhere or whether she has made it up and adapted it, but it is great. Her recommendation is to eat it with a pork burger in a lovely fluffy roll as the apple works brilliantly with the pork.

I know this salad won’t be for everyone, but I do recommend giving it a go because it just might surprise you! The salad is best eaten on the day as the acid wilts the leaves slightly.

1 bag of mixed rocket, watercress and spinach salad
3 apples
juice of half a lemon
150g chopped walnuts
150g stilton 
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

  1. Core the apples and chop into bite size chunks. Put in a bowl and add the lemon juice, stir to coat. The lemon juice will stop the apples from turning brown

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  1. In a large bowl, add the lettuce. Add the chopped walnuts and crumble chunks of stilton into the bowl
  2. In a separate small bowl, mix together the olive oil, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper – not too much salt as the stilton adds saltiness. Give the dressing a taste and add more oil, syrup or vinegar to adjust the sweetness/sharpness, remember the lemon juice with the apples will add some extra acidity

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  1. Add the apples and dressing just before serving and mix

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Eton Mess

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Crisp meringues with a squidgy centre covered in deliciously smooth whipped cream and topped with juicy strawberries. This dessert is perfect for early summer when British strawberries are at their best.

I’ve had Eton Mess many times before, but I don’t think I have ever had with home made meringues. Although they take a bit of time to cook, they’re quite simple to make and are definitely worth the effort. This is the perfect pudding for the summer because you don’t have to spend hours in a hot kitchen and you can make the meringues in advance and assemble later.

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I presented these in two different ways; he first was adding the whipped cream, strawberries and crushed meringues to a bowl and combining. The second way was to add each layer each ingredient in the bowl. This was definitely the best looking option but feel free to present it however you like!

For the meringues
4 large egg whites at room temperature 
115g caster sugar
115g icing sugar 

  1. Preheat the oven to 110ºC/ 100ºC fab. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper or non stick liners. Do not use greaseproof paper as meringue can stick to it!
  2. Add the egg whites to the bowl of your mixer with the whisk attachment and beat them on a medium speed until they are fluffy and stand up in stiff peaks

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  1. Turn the speed up higher and add the caster sugar a spoonful at a time waiting a few seconds between adding the next spoonful. Once all of the caster sugar has been added the egg whites should look thick and glossy

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  1. Sift one third of the icing sugar into the egg whites and gently fold in with a large metal spoon. Continue to add the rest of the icing sugar a third at a time, folding it in as you go. The egg whites should now look smooth and full of air. Be careful not to over mix

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  1. Dollop dessert spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking trays making sure you leave a small gap between each meringue. You can either smooth the meringues with the back of the spoon or leave them in rough mounds

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  1. Bake for 1½ – 1¾ hours in a fan oven and 1¼ hours in a standard oven. They are done when they sound crisp and hollow when tapped underneath and are a pale golden colour

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  1. Leave to cool completely on the trays. The meringues will keep in an airtight container for 2 weeks so although you might want to eat them all, you don’t have to!

300ml double cream
300g strawberries

  1. Pour the double cream into the bowl of your mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on a slow to medium speed for a couple of minutes. You are looking for it to become thicker but not loose its smooth texture. It is better to keep stopping the mixer and checking on it rather than over whipping the cream!
  2. Hull the strawberries and cut them into pieces
  3. Crush the meringues and assemble the dish by either mixing the ingredients together in a bowl or by layer the ingredients separately into your serving dish

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Gym Bunny Mummy
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Soft Bread Rolls – Ted’s Rolls

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Nothing is better than freshly baked bread and these rolls are perfectly soft and fluffy making them great with anything.

I came across these rolls on Twitter. Lots of people I follow would talk about Ted’s Rolls over and over again. The original recipe was created by Sarah James on her blog Tales From The Kitchen Shed. I was initially drawn to make these rolls by the lovely photos people were posting of them, but it was after reading her blog post that I knew I had to make these. These aren’t just a great recipe, there is a lovely story behind how she adapted the recipe over time to create a soft fluffy roll that her ill father-in-law, Ted, could eat. Please visit her blog to read the full story –  http://www.talesfromthekitchenshed.com/2014/04/everyday-bread-rolls-teds-rolls/.

Another reason I think you should check out this recipe on Tales From the Kitchen Shed is that Sarah has written the recipe so clearly and has some great tips. As you can see from my blog posts, I like to include photos of the whole process and not just the end result. I really like that Sarah does this on her blog too because it isn’t something you see as often as I would like!

I’d made bread rolls before, and even have a blog post with a lovely recipe but they are for crispy rolls. I do love a crispy roll, but they’re not necessarily the type of roll I would like to eat everyday. For an everyday roll, I prefer soft and fluffy rolls which is exactly what these Ted’s rolls are.

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I made a batch of these rolls (16 – 18 rolls) which we ate over the course of the weekend, we made lovely rolls to take on a picnic and also gave a couple away to my brother-in-law’s family. I was chuffed that the bread expert (Rien) liked them and I got some lovely comments from Dom’s family.

1 kg strong white bread flour
3 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp instant yeast
8 tbsp rapeseed oil
Approximately 600ml lukewarm water
Spray oil

  1. Attach the dough hook to your mixer. Add the flour, salt, sugar and yeast to the bowl making a well in the middle. Add the oil and half of the water into the well
  2. Mix on the lowest speed for a couple of minutes
  3. Add the rest of the water and mix on the second speed for 8 – 10 minutes
  4. Check your dough is ready by pinching a small piece of dough off and stretching it between your fingers. Sarah calls this the window pane test as the dough is ready when it is translucent when you hold it up to the light
  5. Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover with cling film – make sure you spray with cling film with oil too. Leave the dough to prove for at least one and a half hours or until the dough has doubled in size

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  1. Lightly flour your work surface and tun the dough out onto it. Divide the dough into 90g portions which will be 16-18 balls. You can do it by eye but by weighing it you can get rolls all the same time which I think makes these rolls even more appealing

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  1. Shape each portion into balls and then place them on a greased baking tray. You must make sure that you don’t leave more than 2 ½cm between the rolls otherwise they won’t touch when baking and this is crucial for producing soft fluffy rolls. Gently press the rolls when once you’ve placed them on the tray to flatten them slightly

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  1. Cover the rolls with greased cling film and leave to prove in a warm place for 30 – 45 minutes. When the rolls are proving, preheat the oven to 200ºC
  2. Put the rolls in the oven for 25 minutes – check half way through to see if the tray needs turning if one side is browning quicker than the other
  3. To test the rolls are ready, tap the underneath and if its hollow they’re ready. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely

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Visit Tales From The Kitchen Shed for how to make the rolls without using a mixer – its just as easy!

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Rainbow Layer Cake

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Unassuming and simple from the outside, but when it’s cut into it has the most amazing layers of colour. This cake really does have the wow factor!

I’d been wanting to make this cake for a long time but hadn’t found an reason good enough to actually make it. I waited long enough and the perfect occasion came around – Rien’s brother, Daarek’s birthday. I knew this would be the perfect cake for him and I wasn’t wrong! He is always so complimentary with my cakes so I wanted to step it up for him and make him a birthday cake that was a bit special.

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The inspiration for this recipe came from a lovely blog, Kerry Cooks. Her blog was the first place I remember seeing a rainbow layer cake that actually gave you a recipe to make the cake yourself. A lot of the American recipes  use a boxed cake mix. Her blog has some fantastic tips which I was able to use and adapt slightly to create my Rainbow Layer Cake.

You may look at this cake and feel slightly scared, but there is really no need to be! You need to make sure you have the right equipment and then you’ll be fine. To make this cake as easy as possible, I bought the Easy Cake Layer Pan Set by Wilton from Lakeland. I’m sure there are plenty of places you can buy them online. One tip if you do buy these cake pans; do not believe them when they say they are non stick! I stupidly believed that they were the first time I used them to make an ombre cake and ended up with some cake getting stuck to the pans. I recommend lining the tins with baking paper to prevent this from happening. On her blog, Kerry used disposable pans which you can find in lots of supermarkets and pound shops which is a great tip if you don’t want to buy any new equipment.

The cake pan set is for 5 layers, so the recipe below will make you a 5 layered rainbow cake. Each pan is 6 inches which I think is the perfect size for this cake seeing as you are stacking 5 layers of cake with lots of buttercream. It also means each layer isn’t too thick. If I were to make this cake for myself, I would use cream cheese frosting like Kerry did. However most people, including Daarek, prefer buttercream so that is what I used.

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You also need really good gel colouring to get the fantastic vibrant colours. The liquid food colourings you can buy in supermarkets just aren’t good enough. You need concentrated gel colouring which you can buy online or in shops like Lakeland and Hobby Craft. My favourite brand to use is Wilton because they have a great range of colours an can give you really bright colours without having to use loads of it.

When it comes to icing cakes I think it is definitely worth investing in a cake turntable. This allows you to smoothly turn the cake backwards and forwards when you’re decorating it which is a huge help! I also use a large off-set spatula to apply the buttercream to the cake holding it at a 90° angle. A spatula dipped in hot water and then dried is a great way of getting a smooth finish on your cake. There are lots of different techniques and ways people find help them, but this is what works for me.

What I like most about this recipe is this one cake mix will make enough for all 5 layers so you don’t have to faff around making different mixes. An obviously that it looks pretty amazing!

For the cake 
225g butter or margarine
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

225g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan. Line you cake pans
  2. Add the butter and sugar to your bowl and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time starting on a low speed and increasing it after each egg has been added. I find this helps incorporate the eggs better. Add the vanilla and mix again before finally adding the flour and baking powder
  3. Split the cake mix equally into 5 different bowls. I do this by weighing my mixer bowl when its empty and then taking this away from the weight when it has the finished cake mix in. I then divide this by 5. You can do it by eye but I prefer to be exact as this will help make even layers
  4. Colour each bowl of cake mix a different colour – I coloured mine red, orange, yellow, green and blue but feel free to use whatever colours you like. Start with a small amount of colouring as a little bit goes a long way. You an always add more and make it brighter but you can’t make it lighter again!

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  1. Pour each bowl of coloured cake mix into your prepared tins and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. They’re done when a cocktail stick comes out clean

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  1. Allow the cakes to cool slightly in the pans before turning out onto a wire rack and let them cool completely

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  1. Once completely cooled, level the cakes so that they stack more evenly. I do this with a cake wire which allows you to cut a clean level line using a serrated wire. You can use a knife but I find this works better and reduces the risk of making a mistake! I set the cake wire to the height of the cake that needs the most cut off it to make it level. You’re looking to take the smallest amount of cake off to make the cake flat

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  1. Once the cakes are leveled, you’re ready for the buttercream!

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For the buttercream
420g unsalted butter
840g icing sugar
4 – 6 tbsp milk

  1. Mix the butter and icing sugar together until pale and smooth. Add enough milk until it is a smooth spreadable consistency
  2. Starting with the blue layer, place one layer onto your cake board and then add a generous layer of buttercream. Repeat with all 5 layers

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  1. Once all of the layers are stacked, it is time to apply the crumb coat. This locks all of the crumbs in place so that the final layer of buttercream is smooth and crumb-free. Do this by applying a thin layer of buttercream to cover the whole cake. At this stage it doesn’t have to look pretty. After you’ve applied your crumb coat, but in the fridge for at least 30 minutes for it to set slightly

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  1. Once the crumb coat has become firm to the touch, you can now apply the final layer of buttercream. Make sure you use quite a generous amount of buttercream and take your time!

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  1. You can decorate the cake however you would like. I chose to keep it completely plain on the outside and made some bunting to stick in the top

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Make sure you check out Kerry’s blog http://kerrycooks.com/easy-6-layer-rainbow-cake-step-by-step/

Apologies for the photos not being the best, I always find it hard to take photos of cakes I have made for people. And I can’t take my usual kit with me!

Gym Bunny Mummy
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Strawberry Pavlova

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Marshmallowy in the centre with crisp and chewy edges piled high with whipped cream and delicious fruit. Now if that doesn’t scream perfect summer desert to you, I don’t know what will!

I decided to make a pavlova after a trip to Borough Market where I bought the most delicious looking strawberries. I instantly thought they would make a perfect topping to pavlova. It also meant I got to use the whisk attachment to my mixer which I have rarely used. Feel free to make this recipe by hand, but I would really recommend using an electric whisk if possible to avoid your arm seriously aching! Then you won’t be able to lift the fork to your mouth to eat it!

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I’d never made pavlova, or even meringue before, so I thought it was definitely time for me to try. Most pavlovas are topped with whipped cream and then a selection of fruit. You can choose a number of different fruit that work well together or lots of one type like I did here.

Usually when I bake or make desserts I make them for other people to enjoy too so Rien and I don’t end up eating it all. However with this pavlova, over a few days we managed to eat the whole thing! It was so delicious we kept going back for more and of course the strawberries make it healthy…I can definitely see me making this a number of times over the summer, I might even share it next time! I loved the crisp chewy outside of the pavlova mixed with the soft, melt in your mouth marshmallow centre.

6 egg whites
pinch of salt
270g caster sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
2 tsp cornflour

  1. Preheat the oven to 120ºC. Draw a 8″ circle on baking paper and turn it over onto a baking tray so the pencil won’t touch the pavlova

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  1. Whisk 6 egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form

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  1. Gradually add the sugar a tablespoon at a time as this allows the sugar to disolve. Keep whisking until the egg whites are smooth and glossy with no trace of sugar

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  1. Carefully fold in the vinegar, vanilla and cornflour
  2. Dab a small amount of mix on each corner of the baking tray to secure the baking paper to the tray. Pile the mix onto the baking tray trying to keep inside the line. Shape it like a cake – you can either flatten the top for a more traditional look or spike the top for a dramatic effect

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  1. Bake in the oven for 1 to 1½ hours, you’ll know it it’s done by lightly tapping the top and it’s hard. Turn the oven off and leave the door slightly open. Leave the pavlova to cool completely

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For the topping
300ml double or whipping cream
Strawberries – as many as you like!
2 tbsp sugar 

  1. Hull the strawberries and then put roughly half of them into a bowl. Gradually add the sugar, tasting as you go until the strawberries are the perfect sweetness. Put them aside for 30 mins or so

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  1. Whip the cream using the whisk attachment (or if you’re brave, by hand) until the cream is soft but holds its shape. If you whip for too long the cream will become over whipped and not look smooth and silky

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  1. Add the whipped cream to the top of the pavlova and spread out. The strawberries with the sugar should look glossy and have a thick syrup now. Add these on top of the cream and then add the remaining hulled strawberries

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I got the recipe for the pavlova here –  http://www.theinternetchef.biz/292/how-to-make-pavlova-new-zealand-style#sthash.cFUGO1qd.dpuf

Gym Bunny Mummy
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Carnitas

2015-05-24 20.23.32I absolutely love Mexican food, it’s become my new obsession. And pork will always be my number one choice of meat.  Now I’ll be the first person to use a packet mix to season my fajitas for a quick and easy dinner (it’s one of my guilty pleasures); but you would be kidding yourself if you considered that authentic Mexican. So I started branching out using different chilli powders but came a little bit stuck when it came to looking for authentic Mexican recipes. A lot of them I came across seemed to be mixing different tins and spice mixes together which I’m sure can taste nice, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for.

For Christmas I asked for a book which I had read was meant to be one of the best for authentic Mexican dishes – Mexican The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arrote. It is a huge booked filled with different recipes from all over Mexico. Some of the ingredients aren’t going to be the easiest to come across, or may not necessarily appeal to you – grasshoppers and cactus anyone? You can find substitutes or similar alternatives for a number of ingredients though; for example the variety of fresh chillies aren’t readily available in the UK (well not where I live anyway!) so instead you can use dried chilles or chilli powders. Another simple alternative to queso fresco which is a common cheese in Mexico is feta. It is similar as is crumbly, slightly salty and is available everywhere.

I get my dried chillis, chilli powder and tortillas when at Borough Market from the Cool Chile Company stall. They sell a huge variety of Mexican cooking essentials. You can also order online from their website -http://www.coolchile.co.uk/

I really like watching Food Network; it is normally on in the background while I am writing blog posts. One program I like to watch is Diners Drive-ins and Dives (anyone else?) which is an American chef who visits restaurants around the country. I first heard of carnitas watching the program and thinking it looked delicious so I couldn’t wait to try it myself. People may think that Mexican food is all about spices and heat, but this recipe is far from that. It has no chillis in at all, instead has a delicious combination of herbs with a subtle orange flavour.

This recipe doesn’t require much effort at all but benefits from slow and low cooking which is perfect for a lazy weekend. This recipe definitely lived up to my high expectations! The pork was so deliciously tender it just fell apart. I served it with a tasty sweetcorn salad (recipe to follow) which added a little bit of chilli heat.

250ml vegetable oil
1.5kg pork loin cut into bite sized pieces
½ onion
250ml milk
zest of 1 orange
small bunch of herbs (e.g rosemary, thyme)
salt and pepper 
Flour tortillas to serve

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Add the meat and the onion and cook, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes until browned all over

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  1. Remove the onion and pour in the milk and 250ml of water. Add the herbs and orange zest and season with salt and pepper. Don’t worry it will look a little bit strange at this stage!

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  1. Reduce the heat to low and cook stirring occasionally for 1½ to 2 hours until the liquid has evaporated

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  1. Remove any herb stalks and serve immediately with warm flour tortillas

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Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

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Pistachio & Vanilla Cake

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Light and fluffy sponge with the subtle flavour of pistachios and silky smooth cream cheese frosting.

I wanted to make a cake for my sister’s birthday and decided I wanted pistachios to feature as she loves them. I started looking online and found a few different recipes for pistachio cakes. I picked a Good Food recipe partly because the reviews said the final cake was tasty, but also because people had said how confusing the recipe was to follow and that ingredients had been missed out. It seemed a shame that if it was a good recipe, people may be out off making it because of a poorly written recipe. So here is my attempt at a clearer, easier to follow recipe.

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The original recipe had the cream cheese frosting and the also a praline topping. I don’t think this is an element my sister would have liked which is probably for the best seeing as the reviews weren’t very positive about that part! Feel free to give it a go yourself – here’s the original recipe http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1999/pistachio-praline-and-vanilla-cake

This cake is perfect for when you want to make a cake, but don’t want to spend hours making it and you want something a little bit more special than a Victoria Sandwich (even though they are tasty too!) I really love how the pistachios colour the sponge with flecks of pale green.

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For the cake
200g caster sugar
200g butter or margarine
4 eggs
150g self raising flour
100g de-shelled pistachios
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk

  1.  Preheat the oven to 190ºC/fan 170ºC. Line two 8 inch loose bottomed sandwich tin with parchment paper
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  3. Blitz the pistachios in a food processor until very fine and mix with the flour, sugar and baking powder. Add to the butter and sugar along with the eggs and milk and mix until combined

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  1. Divide the mixture between the two tins and smooth. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden and a cocktail stick comes out clean

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  1. Leave to cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack and letting cool completely

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For the filling
200g full fat cream cheese
100g icing sugar
A few drops of vanilla essence
A few pistachios to decorate

  1. Mix the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla essence together until smooth

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  1. As with all sandwich cakes turn one of the cakes upside down so the top is on the plate/cake board you are using to serve. Spoon half of the mixture onto the cake and spread out using  a pallet knife. Place the remaining cake on top the correct way up
  2. Spread the rest of the cream cheese mixture onto the top of the cake and sprinkle with a few pistachio nuts. I roughly blitzed these again so some were bigger than others

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I think there were a few jealous people in Nandos that day!

 

Gym Bunny Mummy
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Rosemary & Salt Fougasse

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Freshly baked bread that doesn’t only taste amazing, but looks impressive too!

I wanted to  bake some bread but to Rien’s disgust, I didn’t want to make a normal loaf or rolls (He pouted and moaned throughout the whole process because he wouldn’t be able to make a sandwich with it). I remembered a type of bread I had seen on one of Lorraine Pascale’s programmes called fougasse and thought it had looked great so decided that would be perfect.

I have only made quite basic loaves or rolls before so I was keen to expand my skills and make a shaped loaf. Although this type of bread doesn’t require a great deal of skill, it does look impressive once baked.

Rien managed to get over the fact it wasn’t a loaf by the time the fougasse came out of the oven and couldn’t wait to try some. We let it cool slightly and then tucked in – it was delicious! The crust was only slightly crisp with the great flavour of rosemary and sea salt. The bread went perfectly with some meat and cheese which I think is a lovely weekend lunch. Its safe to say Rien wasn’t disappointed and said he would look forward to me making it again.

I love the flavours of rosemary and salt, especially with bread. The recipe I used had tomatoes and onions but I decided to go with rosemary and salt as I tend to have these most of the time, but feel free to add any toppings you like. For example I’ve seen fougasse recipes with chorizo which sounds delicious and I will be trying that soon! I got the recipe for the dough from Good Food http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/335608/red-onion-cherry-tomato-and-rosemary-fougasse. I look forward to adding new flavours to the dough now I know how easy it is! Feel free to try your own flavours, I’d love to hear how you get on.

For the dough
500g strong white bread flour
7g sachet yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
350ml hand-hot water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped rosemary

  1. Mix the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and chopped rosemary together. Add the water and oil and mix to form a soft dough

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  1. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. I tend to start it in my mixer with a dough hook and then finish it by kneading my hand. When pressed, the dough should spring back when it has been kneaded enough

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  1. Put back in the bowl and cover with a clean tea towel or cling film sprayed with oil. Leave to rise for 1 hour
  2. Heat the oven to 240°C (220°C fan). Divide the dough into two and shape into long rectangles approximately 25cm long
  3. Place on a floured baking sheet and brush lightly with water. Cut one diagonal slash through the dough and then three slashes either side to give the dough leaf like markings. Open out the slashes slightly

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For the topping
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp rosemary leaves
1 tsp sea salt

  1. Scatter the salt over the bread. Dip the rosemary leaves in the oil to help the stick to the bread but also to stop them burning

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  1. Leave to rise for 15 mins, then bake for 15-20 mins until risen and golden brown

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Banana & Honey Muffins

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I always seem to have a few bananas that get forgotten about and end up getting a bit too ripe to eat. This is why I’m keen to find recipes to use them up! In my quest to find tasty, healthy muffins I looked in Lorraine Pascale’s A Lighter Way To Bake and came across her recipe for Banana and Honey Muffins. They were perfect as they were a healthy muffin that would use up my overripe bananas.

Out of all of the healthy muffins I have made, these are definitely the most moist as well being one of the lowest in calories. The bananas add the extra moistness without adding any unnecessary calories. Rien isn’t usually tempted by my healthy muffins, but he loved these. You really can’t tell that these muffins only have 176 calories each! Another great thing is that the mix makes twelve really big muffins! These are definitely one of my favourite muffins so far.

The recipe called for four bananas – one to go on the top. I only had three which is why mine don’t have the pretty decoration on top.

As with all of the muffins I make, they are perfect to freeze and then leave out to defrost overnight to make a great breakfast.

Makes 12 muffins
300g wholewheat flour 

1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
2 egg whites
200ml semi-skimmed milk
100g low-fat natural yogurt
50ml sunflower oil
2 tbsp honey 
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 overripe bananas

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan). Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cases
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together in a large bowl. Beat the egg and egg white briefly in a jug and then beat in the milk, yogurt, oil, honey and vanilla extract until smooth and completely combined
  3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry with as few stirs as possible until you get a wet, sloppy mixture

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  1. Roughly mash 3 bananas and gently fold them into the mixture

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  1. Divide the mixture into the paper cases. Peel and cut the remaining banana into 12 slices roughly ½cm thick and place one slice on top  of each of the muffins

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  1. Bake them in the oven for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean

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  1. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before leaving to cool completely on a wire rack

 

Gym Bunny Mummy
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