Monthly Archives: May 2015

Pistachio & Vanilla Cake

2015-04-04 13.11.26

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.


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

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.


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 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


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


Gym Bunny Mummy

Rosemary & Salt Fougasse

2015-05-04 13.10.46

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

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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