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 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

2015-02-24 19.09.03

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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Pork & Chorizo Meatballs

2015-03-04 21.27.10

This is a recipe that I made up one day. I had some pork mince that I had planned to use in a stir fry but Rien didn’t feel like that for dinner. Instead I decided to make pork meatballs and add some chorizo to make them a bit more interesting. They were really delicious and very versatile. They are great in a salad or cut up in a sandwich or wrap and taste great eaten both hot and cold. You could also make a tomato sauce and have them with pasta. Instead of shaping them into meatballs, you could make them into burgers which would be perfect for a BBQ.

I have made this recipe up so feel free to tweak it if needed to incorporate what you like and/or is in your cupboards. The below recipe makes twelve meatballs.

250g pork mince
30g panko breadcrumbs
40g chorizo
1 egg
¼ tsp ancho chilli powder
¼ tsp chipotle chilli powder
¼ tsp paprika 
Pinch of cayenne
Salt & pepper
Spray oil 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Put the pork mince in a bowl. Dice the chorizo and add to the bowl with the pork. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix until completely combined. If the mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs and if it is too dry add a little more egg. You want it to be firm enough to form balls

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  1. Pinch small golf ball sized pieces of the meat and shape them into balls using the palms of your hands

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  1. Spray a baking tray with oil and place the meatballs on the tray. Put in the oven for 20 minutes until they are golden and slightly crispy, turning half way

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Double Orange Cake

2015-03-07 18.18.52Deliciously moist cake that is light and fluffy flavoured with orange – perfect.

I first came across this cake when Mum and I visited Olney and had afternoon tea at a quaint little tearoom. They had a selection of home made cakes in a cabinet to choose from. Usually I would have been drawn to the rich chocolate brownies, but there was something about the Double Orange Cake that attracted both Mum and I.

The cake seemed quite simple, but it was really delicious. I liked it so much that when I got home I tried to look for the recipe online but couldn’t seem to find it anywhere. Rien surprised me by finding the recipe that the book was from and then buying it for me – Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. That book has become one of my favourite cookery books!

With the apricot jam, instead of having to worry about the lumps in it or sifting them out; Sainsburys sell an apricot glaze which is jam without the lumps specifically made for baking. Other shops may sell this too.

I used a 9 inch cake tin as I didn’t have an deep 8 inch tin at the time. If you use an 8 inch then yours will be a little thicker than mine. My lovely Mum has now bought me a deep inch cake tin so there is nothing stopping me now!

This cake really is delicious and I think everyone should make it! I think it is perfect for Spring/Summer when you want something light and fresh.

For the cake
175g softened butter
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs
175g self raising flour
1½  level tsp baking powder
Grated rind and juice of one large orange

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C. Grease a 20cm (8 inch) deep round cake tin and line with baking parchment
  2. Measure all of the ingredients into a bowl and beat until thoroughly mixed. Pour into the cake tin, level the surface and bake for 35 minutes until a cocktail stick comes out clean

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  1. Leave to cool in the tin for a while before turning out of the tin. Allow to cool on a wire rack

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For the topping
2 tbsp apricot jam
100g icing sugar
Finely shredded rind and juice of ½ orange

  1. Measure the apricot jam into a small pan and gently warm through. Brush over the top of the cake

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  1. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix in enough orange juice until you have a pouring consistency. Pour over the cake and gently spread out with a pallet knife

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  1. Leave to set and then decorate with the shredded orange peel

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Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Egg Custard Tarts)

2015-03-21 15.01.03

All-butter puff pastry filled with deliciously rich egg custard flavoured with vanilla is my idea of heaven – I love these!

I don’t like custard. Well I didn’t until I tried one of these! Rien’s Aunt made these at Christmas and I was reluctant to try one as I’ve never had custard and liked it before. I am incredibly glad I tried one, they were absolutely amazing. The pastry is flaky and buttery which goes perfectly with the creamy, thick egg custard.

I knew I wanted to make these for my Mum because she likes English egg custard tarts so these are perfect for her. I decided to make them for her birthday so I had a few months to wait before I made them! Since then, I have seen Patesis de Nata everywhere! They were featured in April’s issue of Good Food and were the cover recipe on Delicious. So by waiting and making these now I am right on trend!

Although both Good Food and Delicious featured a recipe, I knew I was going to use the recipe Rien’s Aunt, Carol, had given to me because I knew they were delicious. She found the recipe from the Guardian which was featured as Lucian Freud’s favourite breakfast dish. The recipe can be found here:

This recipe featured a couple of firsts for me; all-butter puff pastry and vanilla pods. The all-butter puff pastry was a little bit harder to work with than usual puff pastry because it started to almost melt whilst working with it due to the high butter content. So try to handle it as little and quickly as possible. The vanilla pod added a fantastic flavour which couldn’t have been replaced with vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste and I was excited to finally use it.

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I went into making these having no idea what I was doing and only having a fairly brief recipe to guide me. A couple of times I had a few doubts and wondered whether they would turn out right. The main stage when I was a little worried was when I was pouring the custard into the pastry. On some of the tarts, the custard began seeping out so I thought these would not turn out very well. When I took them out of the oven though, I couldn’t even tell which had been the problem tarts!

One tip I would advise is when pouring, use a jug! When I was pouring the warmed cream into the egg yolks I thought it would be fine to pour from the pan – it wasn’t. If you’re anything like me, it will be far easier, and quicker, to use a jug whenever you’re pouring.

When the finished tarts first came out of the oven, they did look good but I remember thinking they didn’t look as good as Carol’s. I left them to cool and when I came back to them, the custard had settled and almost sunk down a little bit and I was very happy to see they did now look like Carol’s! So don’t panic if yours look slightly different when they first come out of the oven, they should settle and look amazing!

My Mum said these reminded her of when we were on holiday in Portugal and had Pasteis de Nata and that these were just as delicious. A couple of weeks before I made these, I went to Nandos with a friend and had one of their Pasteis de Nata. I am very pleased to say that these are far better than the ones in Nandos – don’t take my word for it, try them yourself!

If you manage to control yourself and not eat all twelve at once, store the in an airtight box. Heat them for approximately 20 seconds before you want to eat them, it definitely makes a difference and they will be as delicious as when they were warm from the oven.

Makes 12
320g pre-rolled all-butter pastry
3 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
200ml single cream
250ml whole milk
½ vanilla pod
Spray oil for greasing
Icing sugar for dusting

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Grease a 12 hole muffin tray and put in the freezer
  2. Take the pre-rolled pastry straight from the fridge and dust with icing sugar. Roll along the longest side into a tight log and cut into 12 sections

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  1. Dust each section with icing sugar and roll flat until it is roughly 11cm across. Push each round into the muffin tray, it doesn’t have to be flat around the edges as they are meant to have folds in the pastry. Put the tray in the fridge

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  1. Whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar until creamy. Mix the cornflour with a splash of milk and then whisk into the egg yolks. This looks exactly like something we used to play with as a child, its a liquid until touched and then it turns solid. You’ll know what I mean when you get to this stage!
  2. Heat the cream and milk together in a pan along with half a vanilla pod with the seeds scraped out, until almost boiling

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  1. Remove from the heat and fish out the vanilla pod, then whisk slowly into the yolks
  2. Pour the mixture back into the pan and heat gently for three minutes, stirring continuously
  3. Pour into the pastry cases and bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and dark spots appear on the custard

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  1. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the tin. Best eaten warm



Gym Bunny Mummy
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Creme Egg Cupcakes

2015-03-22 16.13.13

Delicious chocolate cupcake with a gooey Creme Egg hidden inside – the perfect cupcakes for Easter!

Easter is such a great time to bake, you can make anything Easter themed by just adding a mini egg to it! This year I have mainly been making these cupcakes and mini egg fridge cake. Like usual I gave up chocolate for lent which has not been fun as I’ve had a couple of orders for chocolate cake with ganache and even more chocolate on top.  Making these and smelling the chocolate was hard, but I managed to make them without even licking the spoon!

I read somewhere (I can’t find/remember where) from someone who had made similar cupcakes using Creme Eggs that lying the Creme Eggs down horizontally is the way forward. I assumed you would place them vertically so the egg was upright, but this makes the egg less stable so it can wobble all over the place.

These cupcakes are simple to make and have a wow factor with the Creme Egg hidden inside.

For the cupcakes (makes 12 large cupcakes):
4tbsp water, boiled
40g cocoa powder
3 eggs
175g unsalted butter
165g caster sugar
115g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC and line a cupcake tin with liners and set aside
  2. Sift the cocoa powder into a bowl and add the boiling water. Mix until it forms a thick paste and then add the remaining cake ingredients. Mix until combined

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  1. Fill the cupcake case roughly ¼ full. Smooth out using a spoon and then place a mini Creme Egg horizontally lying down in each case

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  1. Top with the remaining cake mix and bake for 10-15 minutes until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before decorating

For the frosting:
140g softened butter
280g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp milk

  1. Beat softened butter and icing sugar together
  2. Gradually add the milk until it becomes smooth and quite thick – you may not need all of the milk
  3. Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes

You can use a full sized Creme Egg if you would like but obviously this would mean it is more Creme Egg than cupcake! If you want to make them even more chocolatey you could make chocolate frosting.

When I made these the first time, I only put a small layer of the cake mix on the bottom before adding the Creme Egg. As you can see, the Creme Egg was quite close to the bottom of the cupcake. The next time I made them, I filled them roughly ¼ full as I image this would make the Creme Egg closer to the middle. There aren’t any photos of these unfortunately as I made them for an order so couldn’t start cutting into them!

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Curly’s Cooking’s 1st Birthday!

Curly’s Cooking is 1 year old!

I can’t believe it was year ago that I posted my first blog post – it has flown by! I started this blog as a way of recording recipes I had found/adapted with the hope that someone might look at it from time to time. If you would have told me that a year into blogging, I would have received over 15,000 views I wouldn’t have believed you. I know compared to other blogs this won’t sound like very many, but I am chuffed!

This blog has turned baking and cooking from a hobby into almost an obsession. I am constantly thinking about what I’m going to make next. I feel uneasy if I haven’t baked something or cooked something interesting in a few days. When I get back from a holiday, one of my first thoughts is what I’m going to make first.

As well as my food skills and knowledge, my photography has improved too. Thanks to help from Greedy Betty and looking at other people’s blogs, I am started to understand what makes a good food photograph more. Don’t get me wrong I still have plenty of room for improvement, but I am going in the right direction!

I’m going to share with you a few of my favourite posts from the past year as well as my most viewed post. It was hard to pick just a few but here they are!

Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread 2

One of my favourite recipes from the last year is Money Bread. It is one of the bakes I took along to Greedy Betty’s photography session. I don’t make it often because it is so big and not the healthiest of recipes, but it is absolutely amazing. I love the pieces that have remained hidden in the middle and are soft and fluffy.

Pulled Pork

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Over the last couple of years, pork has become my favourite meat. This recipe is a delicious way of cooking pork that gives it a great flavour as well as making it very tender. Although it takes a while to cook, there is very little prep needed for such a great result.

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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These are my most popular cupcakes which I have made countless times this year. You can’t have carrot cupcakes without cream cheese frosting in my opinion. I definitely recommend everyone to give these a go.

New York Cheesecake 

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My most viewed blog post is for New York Cheesecake. It has had over 4000 views alone which is nearly ten times more than my next post popular post. I took a recipe found on BBC Good Food’s website and worded it in an easier to follow, clearer way. I have received lots of comments thanking me for my version which is always nice.

I’d love to hear which blog posts have been your favourite, so please leave me a comment.

Thank you to everyone who has visited my blog over the last year. Bring on year 2!

Curly x

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Bakewell Slices

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My Mum has been asking me to make Bakewell Slices for months. She had one from Pret A Manger a while ago and thought it was delicious so she asked me if I could make them for her. I thought Mother’s Day was the perfect time to make them for her, but it did mean keeping her waiting for a while!

I had tried to throw her off the scent by telling her I had made her cupcakes. She does like my cupcakes, but like me isn’t really a fan of buttercream so it wouldn’t be the best thing to make her for Mother’s Day. When I went over to my parent’s house on Mother’s Day, I gave Mum the box and said “here are your cupcakes”. When she opened the box and saw the Bakewell Slices her face lit up, she looked so happy! It was so lovely to see her so excited, I don’t think I could have got her a present she would have liked more. She ate one in seconds and said how tasty it was and she even joked and said Dad would be lucky if she let him have one!

Mum did say she hadn’t expected me to make my own pastry, but this was so simple and quick I thought it would be more fuss to use pre-made pastry! Feel free to use pre-made shortcrust pastry if you find this easier.

Mary advised to use roughly four tablespoons of jam but at the same time said to be generous. I didn’t actually measure the jam out, I just used enough to make a good thick layer which turned out to be about half a jar. The last thing I would have wanted would be a thin layer of jam!

A tip for this recipe is to dot the sponge mix around instead of adding it all in one area. Then using a spatula, spread it out carefully making sure you don’t mix the jam in with the sponge mix. It may look a little messy when you’ve finished but don’t worry after it has baked it will look great.

 For the shortcrust pastry
175g plain flour
75g butter 
2 – 3 tbsp cold water 

For the sponge 
100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
175g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
½ tsp almond extract 

To finish
Approximately 4 tbsp raspberry jam
Flaked almonds to sprinkle on top

  1.  Start by making the pastry. Measure the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
  2. Add enough water to form a soft dough. Add it gradually because you might not need to add all three tablespoons

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  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Roll the dough out on a slightly floured surface and line the bottom of the tin with it

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  1. Measure all of the sponge ingredients into a bowl and beat until all of the ingredients are combined
  2. Spread the pastry with the raspberry jam and then top with the sponge mix and spread out making sure you completely cover the jam

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  1. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the cake has shrunk from the sides of the tin and springs back when you press the centre with your finger

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  1. Leave to cool in the tin and then turn out and cut into slices

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I can’t remember eating that many Bakewell Slices to be honest but after making this recipe, I will definitely be making them time and time again. The recipe was simple and quicker than I thought it would be. I really loved the three layers; the cake was light an fluffy followed by a lovely layer of raspberry jam and finished with a layer of pastry.

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I found the recipe in Mary Berry’s baking bible. Yet another fantastic recipe from a a great book.

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American Pancakes

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If I have a craving for pancakes, it is always for American pancakes. They’re thick and fluffy and make a perfect breakfast accompanied with bacon and maple syrup – yum!

I first came across American pancakes when we went on a family holiday to America (obviously). Back then I don’t think it was very common for people to consider having bacon with pancakes as a lot of people associated pancakes with thin crepe style pancakes served with sweet toppings. I am a fan of a wafer thin crepe with lashings of Nutella but I think they are best left to the professionals. I had a lovely crepe when we went to Berlin last December for the Christmas Markets, they’re cooked in less than a minute and are delicious. Crepes are lovely for a treat, but I wouldn’t think of making them at home.

Since our first trip to America it has become a tradition in my family to have American pancakes and bacon for breakfast on Christmas Day; after all Christmas is all about indulging! My Mum bought an American pancake maker which plugs in and can be put on the table so the pancakes can be cooked there and then without someone being stuck in the kitchen or the pancakes getting cold. She makes the batter up and can then cook six little pancakes at the same time.

I made these on pancake day which is the perfect excuse to have breakfast for dinner. This recipe is simple and makes lovely thick and fluffy pancakes.

135g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
130ml milk
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter, melted and allowed to cool slightly
spray oil

  1.  Sift the flour, baking power, salt and caster sugar into a large bowl
  2. In a jug add the milk and egg and whisk lightly before adding the melted butter and whisking again
  3. Pour the milk mix into the flour mix and whisk until you have a smooth batter. If you have any lumps, just keep whisking until they disappear
  4. Let the batter stand for a approximately 15 minutes

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  1. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and spray with oil. When the pan is hot, add a ladle of batter to the pan. If your pan is big enough you can add two at the same time. Don’t worry if the batter seems thick, it is meant to be. When the top of the pancake begins to form small bubbles, it is ready to flip onto the other side. In total it should cook for roughly a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown. You don’t want the heat to be too high or else the pancakes will brown on the outside but not be cooked in the middle

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  1. Keep going until you have used up all of the batter. The cooked pancakes can be kept warm in a low oven or under some kitchen paper
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Sausage, Apple & Leek Pie

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It’s British Pie Week!

I love a nice comforting pie, especially when its cold. but I don’t tend to associate pies with being healthy or low in calories. I managed to make this pie for under 500 calories per portion which I thought was quite impressive as there is absolutely no compromise on taste.

As well as being low in calories, it was also quite quick and very simple. Some pies I’ve made before take a while to prep before all of the ingredients can actually get topped with pastry and put in the oven This pie has a couple of easy steps before you can put it in the oven and forget about it. To make it quicker I used a pack of ready made shortcrust pastry because I had some in the freezer. You can use the ready-rolled pastry to make it even quicker but if I had done this I would have used more pastry as it is quite thick when it is ready-rolled thick which would have meant more calories. As I was conscious of the calories, I used just enough pastry to cover my dish which meant as it cooked, the pastry shrunk slightly. This left it with a rustic look when it came out of the oven which I didn’t mind because it looked homemade. Feel free to use as much pastry as you like.

Another reason I like this recipe is that you don’t need any additional fat. By frying the sausages in the pan first, they create the fat needed to soften the leeks. It also doesn’t need any any dairy like creme fraiche to create the sauce which again cuts down on the calories and fat.

The below recipe makes enough for two portions.

4 pork sausages
2 leeks
1 apple
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
200ml vegetable stock
100g shortcrust pastry
1 egg, beaten
Salt & Pepper 

  1. Heat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan. Fry the sausages in a non stick pan on a medium heat until browned all over and then remove from the pan

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  1. If your sausages have left more than a tablespoon or so of fat, pour this off so roughly one tablespoon remains. Add the leeks and allow them to soften gently for roughly 10 minutes. As your leeks are softening peel and slice the apple and then add to the pan and cook for another minute

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  1. Stir in the flour and mustard. Pour in the stock and let it bubble for 2 minutes
  2. Slice the sausages into chunks and return them to the pan and stir. Don’t worry if they are still a little pink in the middle, they will finish off cooking in the oven

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  1. Tip everything into a large ovenproof dish and then top with the pastry. I make the pastry larger than the dish and then cut off the excess.  Brush with the beaten egg and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown

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Like I said before, the pie isn’t the prettiest because I was trying to use the smallest amount of pastry as I could. If you use more pastry, it will look a bit more uniform.

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The whole plate I made including the sides came to less than 800 calories, and that is definitely not a small plate! This pie is delicious and it doesn’t compromise on flavour at all.

The original recipe can be found at

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