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

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 http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1039643/sausage-apple-and-leek-pie

Welsh Cakes

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Welsh Cakes are one of my friends Millie’s favourite things. She’s a bit of an expert as she has tried every Welsh Cake out there; but her favourite are from Waitrose. I knew I had a lot to live up to, but when she asked me to make them for her, I accepted the challenge!

Where better to look for a great baking recipe than the legend that is Mary Berry? Rien bought me one of her books, A Bakng Bible, after I went for afternoon tea with my Mum months ago and had the most delicious orange cake (I still need to make that!) but couldn’t find the recipe on the internet. For traditional British recipes I always look to Mary Berry first because her recipes have always been fantastic.

The weekend my Uni friends came I went a little over the top with baking. I made Reece’s Peanut Buttercup Brownies (http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=1354), Gluten-Free Sundried Tomato Bread (http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=1443), Gluten Free Apple Crumble and these Welsh Cakes. I had a lovely assistant helping me make these though.

The original recipe says to use currants, but I don’t like them as much as sultanas and raisins so I decided to use sultanas instead. It was when Zoe was cutting them out she said she thought the reason why the recipe said to use currants was because they’re smaller so might get in the way less when you’re cutting them out. Use whichever you prefer!

350g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
175g butter
115g caster sugar
100g sultanas
¾ tsp mixed spice
1 large egg
2 tbsp milk
Spray oil

  1. Add the flour and baking powder into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs

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  1. Add the sultanas, sultanas and mixed spice
  2. Beat the egg and milk together and then add to the mixture. Mix to form firm dough adding a little more milk if needed

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  1. Lightly flour your surface and roll out the dough to a thickness of approximately 5mm

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  1. Cut them out using a round cutter

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  1. Heat a frying pan on a low heat and spray with oil. Cook the Welsh Cakes on a low heat for approximately 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Make sure you don’t cook them too quickly or else they will turn brown on the outside and won’t be cooked inside

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  1. Cool on a wire rack

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You can sprinkle them with caster sugar and eat them spread with butter if you like. Or if you’re like Millie, you can eat them straight out of the pan! She told me they were even better than Waitrose which was definitely a compliment!

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Cupcakery

Thick Cream Cheese Frosting

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Cream cheese frosting is my favourite kind of frosting. It has a lovely creamy flavour that isn’t as sweet and sickly as buttercream in my opinion. But the cream cheese frosting recipes I have used before can sometimes be lumpy when the butter isn’t mixed in fully or it just becomes too runny. This recipe does not have those issues!

I don’t hide the fact I don’t like buttercream. It’s very sweet and to me just tastes like butter. People are now used to me baking cakes and cupcakes and taking them into work for everyone to enjoy without me actually eating any myself although they found it suspicious at first. You could ask why I don’t just frost all my cupcakes with cream cheese frosting but there is a very simple answer. I would eat them. If I use buttercream I get to bake which is what I love, but I also know I won’t eat the end product which is always a good thing in my constant struggle to eat better.

As I mentioned in my Funfetti Cake post, I was making a cake for a friend who also isn’t a fan of buttercream. I knew she loved the cream cheese frosting that I used on my carrot cupcakes but I knew there was no chance that would be thick enough to cover a whole cake. It tastes delicious but sometimes it is a little too runny which is why I always frost them with a large round nozzle because I’m worried any other frosting style won’t hold it’s shape. I was talking to someone on Twitter who recommended this recipe to me featured on Kerry Cook’s blog (www.kerrycooks.com). As soon as I saw Kerry had frosted a rainbow cake using her cream cheese frosting recipe, I knew this would be the perfect recipe.

This recipe does take slightly longer than other cream cheese recipes because you have to squeeze the cream cheese through muslin, but the end result is worth it. It’s the extra stage of squeezing the excess liquid from the cream cheese that makes it so thick. I can’t see that I will be going back to my old recipe!

250g cream cheese
100g unsalted butter

400-600g icing sugar

  1. Firstly you need to drain the cream cheese to get rid of as much excess water as you can. I recommend pouring the excess liquid that settles on the top down the sink. Then scoop the cream cheese into a square of muslin and gather the cloth up and twist. Holding it over a bowl or the sink, squeeze so the liquid starts dripping out. I managed to get roughly 2 tablespoons of excess liquid out of mine. Be careful to not get carried away and squeeze too hard though or else you’ll get small pieces of cheese coming through the muslin

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  1. Put the muslin ball on some kitchen paper to let it dry further
  2. In a heatproof bowl, melt the butter in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. You want it to be incredibly soft but not completely melted. It should still be partially solid

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  1. Whisk the butter until it is completely liquid and smooth

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  1. Unwrap the cream cheese from the muslin and add it into the butter mixture. Whisk until completely combined

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  1. Using a wooden spoon, begin adding the icing sugar. Sieve roughly 150g of icing sugar into the butter mixture at a time. Keep adding icing sugar until you have a thick consistency – I used 500g until the frosting was thick enough to not fall off the spoon. At first it might look a little lumpy, but keep going and you will have the most amazing thick cream frosting

The frosting was perfect for my funfetti cake and my friend really liked it. She said it was the best cake she had ever had which is high praise indeed! Although I know lots of people love buttercream, if I had it my way I would frost all cakes with this cream cheese frosting. It really is delicious and I am glad Kerry shared such a fantastic recipe on her blog.

I’d love to hear whether you are a buttercream or cream cheese frosting fan; please leave me a comment with your favourite.

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Please check out the original thick cream cheese frosting recipe on Kerry Cook’s blog http://kerrycooks.com/foolproof-thick-cream-cheese-frosting-recipe/.

Valentine’s Cupcakes

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What better to receive on Valentine’s Day than a lovely cupcake with a red heart inside? I saw these when I was looking for ideas for Valentine’s cupcakes on Pinterest. I really love Pinterest because it is such a quick and easy way of looking and storing recipes/ideas/things you like. I use it to pin recipes that I have made and want to share and also recipes that other people have made and I want to try. I am awful at finding a recipe I want to make but then forgetting which blog or website I found it on and then I have no way of finding it again. Pinterest gives me a place to keep them all together. Its not just for recipes, I have pins for house ideas for example too.

These cupcakes were initially pinned by Lauren Conrad – not someone I would usually look to for baking ideas to be honest, but I really liked the idea. She did include a recipe on her website (www.laurenconrad.com) but I always prefer to use my usual vanilla cupcake recipe. Plus I have no idea what ‘cake flour’ is even after googling!

The cupcakes are definitely something different and a little bit special. It is great to see people’s faces when they bite into them and realise there is a heart inside. I practised the cupcakes a few weeks ago because I wanted to make sure they came out ok before I took on orders. They were a little bit of a faff at first – trying to make sure the red cake heart stayed standing when I was adding the rest of the cake mix worried me because it looked a little messy. I think this was because my cake batter looked thicker than the one used in the original recipe which is why mine didn’t maybe look as neat. When they came out of the oven though I needn’t have worried because they looked lovely. As i went on I got the hang of it and became quicker.

These would obviously be a lovely gift for Valentine’s Day but I think anyone would be chuffed to receive these at any time of year.

For the red cake
75g margarine
75g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g self raising flour
Red food colouring

  1. Preheat oven to 170ºC and line a 20x20cm square tin with baking parchment
  2. Beat the margarine and sugar together until pale and fluffy
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and slowly mix again and then add the flour and mix until combined
  4. Add enough food colouring to make the batter a bright red colour
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for approximately 14 minutes. It doesn’t matter if the cake is slightly under baked as it is going to be baked again
  6. Allow the cake to cool slightly

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  1. While you are waiting for the red cake to cool, make the plain cake batter. The recipe for this is here http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=37
  2. Once the red cake has cooled, cut out hearts using a small heart shaped cutter

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  1. Line a cupcake tin with cases and fill each case approximately ¼ full with the plain cake batter
  2. Place one red heart that you have cut out standing up in each cupcake case

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  1. Add more of the plain cake batter to each cupcake case so that it is roughly ¾ full – don’t panic if this doesn’t completely cover the red heart

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  1. Bake in the oven for 14 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely before decorating

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You want to get a nice bright red colour so it really stands out so don’t be afraid of using quite a bit of colouring. I use Wilton gel colours which give a great colour but you do need to use quite a bit. I recommend adding a little bit each time because you can always add more but you can’t remove any!

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I wanted to keep the decoration quite elegant and simple so I decided to use a large star tipped nozzle (Wilton 1M) to create a rose effect. I did this by starting in the centre of the cupcake and piping in a circular motion until I reached the edge of the cupcake. As you reach the edge if you release pressure from your piping bag and then quickly move the bag away you should get a nice clean finish. I then rolled out some red fondant icing and cut our a mini heart to add a bit of colour and to hide the end of the buttercream. The buttercream recipe I used is the same one I used in the vanilla cupcake recipe (http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=37).

I have been pleasantly surprised with how many orders I have received for these. I’m good at coming up with ideas without actually realising how long it will take me to bake it all! I thought I would get a couple of orders, but ended up making 60 cupcakes. I definitely didn’t help myself by choosing these cupcakes as it isn’t the quickest recipe because you have to make the red cake for the hearts first. Although they took a while, I am glad I made these cupcakes because of how great they look when you bite into them.

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With a lot of help from my Mum, we handmade each cupcake box. I am so happy with how these looked because I think a nice looking box really adds to the whole look of the cupcakes. They did take us hours so I’m not sure how much longer I will be able to make them; especially as my Mum did a lot of the initial cutting while I was at work. We did have a nice time chatting away while we made them (I also got a lesson in how to use scissors…) but I think there’s only so much time Mum can cope with me for!

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Bacon Jam

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Bacon. Jam. A sweet delicious bacon-y jam. Yes it is as amazing as it sounds. I’m sure everyone will agree that bacon makes everything better… well apart from vegetarians but even they can appreciate the glory of bacon.

I’m not completely sure where  I first heard about bacon jam, I think it must have been something I stumbled across when I was browsing the internet for tasty sounding recipes. But as soon as I did see it I knew it was something I wanted to make! From what I can tell, a food truck in America called Skillet came up with the genius idea of bacon jam as a condiment for their burgers. Although they haven’t shared their recipe, a few people have tried to work out what the ingredients might be. I looked at quite a few before decided on one by Leite’s Culinaria. They all featured very similar ingredients but I wasn’t keen on adding hot sauce because I didn’t want a spicy bacon jam, so settled on this one. The original recipe can be found at http://leitesculinaria.com/82690/recipes-bacon-jam.html.

As you can imagine, the house smelled amazing as I was cooking! It isn’t the quickest recipe because it needs to simmer away to reduce and become deliciously sticky. But its perfect to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you don’t want to leave the house anyway!

These quantities make enough for me to fill three 280ml jars so it doesn’t produce a huge yield. The bacon jam then needs to be kept in the fridge for up to four weeks. It can be eaten with whatever you fancy adding a bit of bacon-y goodness to but I decided to add it to one of my handmade burgers. If you’re using it from the fridge you will just need to heat it up in a pan over a low heat for five minutes or so until it has warmed through and gone slightly darker. It goes perfectly on a burger because it adds the bacon flavour but also a rich sweetness.

680g smoked bacon, cut into a large dice
2 medium onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

¾ cup strongly brewed coffee
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup

  1.  Add the bacon to a large pan over a medium heat. Stir occasionally until the fat has rendered down and the bacon has become a light brown colour. This should take roughly 20 minutes

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  1. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with kitchen towel to allow it to drain
  2. If there is any fat left in the pan, drain off all but one tablespoon. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until the onions are translucent. This should take around 6 minutes. Make sure the heat isn’t too high or else the colours will brown instead

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  1. Add the coffee, cider vinegar, brown sugar and maple syrup and bring to the boil. Scrape the bottom of the pan to make sure you get all of the browned bits that have stuck. Add the bacon back to the pan and stir

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  1. Reduce the heat so that it is barely simmering and cook uncovered for 1 – 1½ hours or until the liquid has almost completely evaporates and turns syrupy

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  1. Let the jam cool slightly before pulsing in a food processor until it is coarsely chopped. Spoon the bacon jam into sterilised jars and keep in the fridge for up to four weeks.
  2. Rewarm the jam by gently heating it in a pan on a low heat

I didn’t take a photo of the bacon jam after it had been pulsed because to be honest it didn’t look too appealing! It went paler and almost cloudy? So if yours looks a but like that, don’t worry it hasn’t gone wrong! I also have the most ridiculously tiny food processor which isn’t even a food processor its one of those mini choppers. This meant I had to pulse mine in batches but it still worked just as well.

Bacon jam goes perfectly on my homemade burgers, the recipe is here http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=1340.

Funfetti Cake

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I was asked to make a birthday cake by Hollie for her two nieces Elli and Lyla-Kate. She said she was looking for a cake similar to a Victoria sponge and that she didn’t want buttercream because like me, she isn’t a massive fan of it. At first I was thinking of ways to make a Victoria sponge cake more exciting and appealing for little girls, but then I remembered seeing funfetti cakes on American blogs and thinking they looked great. Funfetti cakes are a moist sponge cake with sprinkles in the batter that create a lovely colourful cake. I showed Hollie and she said it was perfect, so that was the cake sorted now for the frosting!

I asked my Twitter followers for frosting ideas and they came up with some fantastic suggestions. Someone suggested cream cheese frosting which I knew Hollie would love because she is a little bit obsessed with my carrot cupcakes which have cream cheese frosting. My only concern was that cream cheese frosting can be a little sloppy (I tried thinking of a better word but sloppy fits!) which really isn’t something you want when you’re trying to frost a whole cake. Someone pointed me towards a fantastic blog which made the most delicious and thick cream cheese frosting which was perfect! That recipe will follow in another post.

There are lots of different recipes for funfetti cakes on American blogs. When I was looking at some, one thing I found was just how many blogs were trying to encourage people to ‘ditch the box mix’. Now I know people here in the UK might reach for box mixes if they’re baking with children as a shortcut, but I really don’t think we must use box mixes as much as Americans because I don’t remember seeing that many in the supermarkets. To be honest, making a cake like this is so simple  and the taste will be so much better I can’t see why anyone would ever want to use a cake mix.

The recipe I decided to use is from one of my favourite American blogs – Sally’s Baking Addiction. She is a self confessed sprinkle addict who even had sprinkles on her wedding cake. So in my opinion there was no one better to provide a funfetti cake recipe. Before making a funfetti cake, I didn’t realise there was a difference between the types of sprinkles! The long thin strips we used to call hundreds and thousands growing up are generally referred to as sprinkles. Then you have the small coloured balls which are called nonpareils which I tend to use more, especially for decorating, because I prefer how they look. This recipe requires sprinkles as the nonpareils bleed their colour.

Sally’s blog is great because the measurements come in both cups and grams. Although I don’t mind using cup measurements, I always prefer to use grams because I feel that way I am more accurate. Another thing I liked about her recipe was that she gave tips on how to adapt the mix to make different cakes. The recipe on her blog was for one cake, but I was looking for a layer cake. Following her tips, I doubled the recipe which made enough batter for two 8 inch had some  left over to make a few cupcakes. The original recipe can be found at http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/03/19/easy-homemade-funfetti-cake/.
The recipe below is the quantity to make the layer cake with a few cupcakes. 

For the cake
420g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
230g unsalted butter, melted
300g granulated sugar
100g light brown sugar
2 large eggs
120g greek yogurt
360ml milk 
1 tbsp vanilla extract
180g sprinkles (not nonpareils)

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line two 8 inch loose bottomed cake tins
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt
  3. In another microwave safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. When the butter is melted, whisk in both sugars until there are no lumps left

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  1. Whisk the eggs, yogurt, milk and vanilla extract into the butter and sugar mix
  2. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth
  3. Gently stir in the sprinkles being careful not to overmix because the sprinkles will bleed their colour

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  1. Pour the mix into the two prepared cake tins so that the batter comes half way up the sides of the tin. Put any remaining batter into cupcake cases

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  1. Bake in the oven for 33-37 minutes (mine took 35 minutes – the cupcakes took 17 minutes). After 20 mins, cover the cakes loosely with foil to stop the cake becoming too brown. The cake is done when a cocktail stick comes out clean
  2. Allow to cool completely before adding the frosting

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Usually when I bake a cake for an order I don’t get to try the finished cake. With this recipe because there was enough batter left for a few cupcakes, I was able to have a taste. The cake was deliciously moist and had I loved the little flecks of colour throughout. I really loved this cake so I can see definitely becoming a regular go-to recipe! It was lovely to hear from Hollie that this cake was the most amazing cake she has ever had and she wishes she had ordered a three layered cake because she only got one slice. She has also told me everyday since that she can’t stop thinking about the cake. Now if that isn’t a happy customer I don’t know what is!

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Slow-Fried Potatoes with Thyme and Brie

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This recipe is from one of the first cookery books I had growing up – ‘Real Food’ by Nigel Slater and is packed with delicious, comfort food recipes.

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It isn’t due to excessive scanning for recipes that the book looks a little worse for wear. We rescued a border collie called Tom who was an amazing dog, but had a few special tendencies. Sometimes when we went out and he was left alone he took his anxiety out on the post, the cookery books in the kitchen or once when I left my bedroom door open; my school books. My parent’s had to write a letter to my Business Studies teacher, who was also the Headmistress, explaining that our dog had actually eaten my homework!

Somehow Tom managed to leave the recipes in tact so I have still been able to use it. I was in Tesco the other day and I saw a new revamped version of the book. Obviously it didn’t look like my book at all! I won’t replace my book though, it always makes me think of Tom who only left us last year.

Back to the recipe! I haven’t made this recipe for a while – definitely not in the two and a half years Rien and I have lived together. It was only after Christmas when I was looking at what was in the fridge and saw some brie that I remembered this recipe. Nigel’s original recipe says to use taleggio cheese but the first time I went to make this they didn’t have any in the supermarket so I used brie instead. It was delicious so since then I have always stuck to brie. Please feel free to use talleggio and tell me if I’ve been missing out all these years!

500g waxy new potatoes
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
50g butter
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp fresh thyme
100g brie (or taleggio)

  1. Cut the potatoes into slices approximately the width of a £1 coin
  2. In a large, shallow pan melt the butter and the oil. Once melted add the onions and fry very slowly until they are pale and golden

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  1. Next add the potatoes, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Stir to make sure everything is properly mixed and the potatoes are coated in the butter and oil. Cover the pan and leave on the lowest heat to cook slowly for 40-50 minutes. Stir them every so often to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan

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  1. Test to see if the potatoes are cooked by sticking the point of a knife into them. If the knife goes in easily, they’re done if not give them a few more minutes before testing again
  2. When the potatoes are cooked, lay slices of cheese onto the potatoes and cover with the lid for a couple of minutes to allow the cheese to melt

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This recipe makes enough for four people to have as a side dish for a main meal. It is guaranteed to be very popular so you could always do a few more potatoes encase people ask for seconds (which the will!). This is s delicious and slightly different way of having potatoes instead of normal boiled new potatoes. It does take a little bit of time, but once you’ve prepared all of the ingredients you can leave it to slowly cook away and only come back to give it a stir once in a while.

I absolutely love this recipe so I’d love to know if you try it!

 

Raspberry & Mascarpone Sponge Pudding

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This is a delicious pudding my family has been making for years. My sister first got the recipe from one of her friend’s Mum’s. Since then, we have all made it on numerous occsions. We refer to it as the raspberry pudding so I don’t know what the original name was or whether Mrs Betts found the recipe somewhere or made it up herself. But this recipe is all down to Mrs Betts so a big thank you to her for sharing this recipe.

My sister, Ally made this for pudding on Boxing Day. It was a welcome change instead of something like Christmas pudding that none of us are really that fond of. We’d had a lovely roast dinner cooked by my Mum (she cooks the best roasts) and a few hours had passed when the raspberry pudding was calling my name from the fridge. Initially it was just my brother-in-law and myself who wanted some, but after I brought his into him, Ally and my Mum soon decided they could find some room. Then when Rien remembered what we meant by raspberry pudding, he had some too. My brother-in-law then went back for another ‘small piece’ and came back with a bigger bowl than his first!

This is definitely one of my family’s favourite puddings. This time Ally used low fat mascarpone which I don’t think was intentional, but it tasted as good as it always does so is a good way to slightly lower the calories. Having said that, this isn’t a healthy pudding, but is great for special occasions as a treat.

500g mascarpone
397g condensed milk
400g sponge fingers
600g tinned raspberries in light syrup
2 tbsp Marsala or Kirsch (optional)
150g fresh raspberries
small grating of dark chocolate

  1. Mix the mascarpone and condensed milk together in a bowl or jug

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  1. Drain the tinned raspberries making sure you keep the syrup they were in and add the Marsala or Kirsch to the syrup if you’ve decided to use it
  2. Dunk the sponge fingers a couple at a time in the reserved raspberry syrup. Make sure the fingers are completely covered in the syrup. You want to give them a couple of seconds so they can absorb some of the syrup but don’t leave them in there for longer than that or else they will soak up too much and you’ll run out of syrup!

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  1. When you have a few of the sponge fingers that have absorbed some of the syrup, line them next to each other vertically in a dish roughly 23x23x5cm. Once you have covered the bottom of the dish completely with sponge fingers, scatter with half of the tinned raspberries

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  1. Pour 1/3 of the mascarpone mix on top of the sponge fingers making sure the fingers are completely covered
  2. Repeat again with another layer of soaked sponge fingers, tinned raspberries and mascarpone mix but lay the fingers horizontally

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  1. Add a third layer of soaked sponge fingers vertically in the dish. Add the final third of the mascarpone mix and spread evenly
  2. Place the fresh raspberries on the top and grate the dark chocolate using a fine grater

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  1. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to chill and then serve

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This pudding is incredibly easy – it requires no cooking or fancy equipment, just mixing, dunking and layering! This is a perfect pudding for people that aren’t very confident or don’t like recipies that are too complicated or take a while. Unfortunately as you can see, it isn’t the most beautiful of puddings when served!