Monthly Archives: August 2015

Summer Berries & Mascarpone Cake

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Light and fluffy sponge cake with delicious fresh summer berries and smooth mascarpone; the perfect cake for a summer afternoon.

My sister asked me if I could make a cake for a colleague’s birthday quite last minute. When people know you make cakes, they seem to sometimes think you do nothing else so their last minute cake request isn’t a problem. I do love baking and hate to turn people away, especially family, so I squeezed this in around the wedding taster cupcakes I was making.

My sister said she was ideally looking for a cake with fruit, so with that and knowing she doesn’t like cream or buttercream, I came up with this cake. I was very pleased with how the cake turned out and it went down extremely well and I even received my first thank you note which was incredibly kind.

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I split the batter into three tins but you can always just use two if you’d prefer. You can also use vanilla extract if you don’t have vanilla bean paste but I really like the specks of black throughout the sponge because then you know vanilla is in the cake.

For the cake
225g caster sugar
225g butter or margarine 
4 eggs
225g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp vanilla bean paste 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line 3 8inch sandwich tins
  2. Beat the sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy. Then add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each before adding the vanilla bean paste
  3. Add the flour and baking powder and mix until completely combined and then divide into the tins

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  1. Put in the oven for 17-20 minutes until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the tins before turning out and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack

For the filling
400g strawberries
300g raspberries
200g blueberries
200g mascarpone
200ml fromage frais
½ tsp vanilla bean paste

  1. Wash all of the fruit then hull and slice the strawberries
  2. Beat the mascaropone, fromage frais and vanilla until smooth and velvety

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  1. Place one of the cake layers on your cake board or plate so that what was the top is now the bottom. Spoon a third of the mascarpone mix and spread out to cover the cake. Arrange a layer of the fruit and then repeat with the next two layers of cake

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The lady that the cake was for wrote my a lovely card to say thank you for making her the cake which made my day!

Soda Bread

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Crusty bread that you can be tucking into in just over an hour – what could be better?

Week 3 of The Great British Bake Off was Bread week and the bakes were quick breads, baguettes and bread sculptures. I definitely didn’t need to bake enough bread to open my own bakery so the bread sculpture wasn’t going to happen. I was tempted by the baguettes but they sound a little tricky and time consuming they would need to wait for another time when I was less busy. I had been wanting to make Soda Bread since Rien bought me Paul Hollywood’s ‘Bread’ book for my birthday. I had gone to make it a few times and then realised I needed buttermilk and didn’t have any so decided to make something else instead.

So finally I was going to actually get round to making soda bread. I rushed into Waitrose on my way home to find an empty shelf where the buttermilk was meant to be! A lovely lady went and had a look out the back to see if they had anymore and what must have been about 5 minutes later, back she came with some. I definitely learnt my lesson to buy my ingredients before Bake Off airs! Although you can make your own buttermilk by adding 1 tbsp of lemon juice to 1 cup of milk and letting it sit for 10 minutes; I thought I better use the real deal for my first attempt at soda bread!

From watching the show, I learnt that you need to be gentle and handle the dough as little as possible. So don’t go crazy and start kneading the dough like you would when making other types of bread. It is also what makes it the easiest bread I have made because it is so simple and quick.

I was very pleased with how the bread turned out, but as it is best eaten on the day it is baked I took some of it into work the next day (I thought seeing as it came out of the oven around 9pm, the following morning counted as the same day!). They were all very grateful and complimentary – one of my colleagues even said it was divine! It was good to know it actually tasted like it should because I’ve never eaten soda bread  before.

250g plain wholemeal flour
250g plain white flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
420ml buttermilk 

  1. Put both of the flours into a large bowl along with the bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix together
  2. Add the buttermilk and mix using a wooden spoon or your hand to form a sticky dough
  3. Lightly flour the work surface and tip the dough out onto it. Gently roll and fold the dough to bring it together making sure you don’t knead it

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  1. Shape the dough into a ball by turning it around on the surface between your cupped hands and then flatten it gently with your hand

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  1. Place the loaf on a baking tray lined with baking paper and then dust the dough with white flour. Using a large knife, score the loaf deeply, dividing it into quarters. Open the scores slightly to allow the heat to get into the centre

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  1. Set the loaf aside for 30 minutes to allow the bicarbonate of soda to work. In the mean time, heat your oven to 200ºC. If you are in a rush (or just don’t want to wait!), you can bake the loaf as soon as the oven is hot
  2. Bake the loaf on the middle shelf of the oven for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown on top and pale brown at the base of the cross. The bread should sound hollow when tapped at the bottom

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  1. Allow the loaf to cool completely on a wire rack. It is best eaten on the day it is made but can keep for a day or so if needed

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Make sure you check out the rest of the Bloggers baking along as part of the #GBBOBloggers2015 by visiting

Mummy Mishaps

Mexican Sweetcorn Salad

2015-08-02 19.50.35  Slightly charred sweetcorn with a slight chilli kick and freshness from the lime juice. This makes a perfect side dish for all Mexican food and is so easy and tasty.

If you follow my blog regularly, you’ll know a couple of things about me; I’m quite fussy and I love Mexican food. I was looking for a sweetcorn side dish and this recipe caught my eye on Pinterest. As with a lot of recipes, I had to make a few adjustments like leaving out the coriander and red onion (I can’t stand coriander and don’t like raw onions – see I told you I was fussy!) After adapting the ingredients it left a fantastic side dish using one of my favourite ingredients – sweetcorn!

When I was younger, like all children I often fancied a snack when I came home from school. One of my favourite things to eat was sweetcorn straight from the tin. My love for sweetcorn is quite specific though – it has to be tinned and it has to be with added salt and sugar. Frozen sweetcorn just doesn’t cut it and although I do occasionally have corn on the cob in restaurants I like, more often than not I don’t.

This recipe has quickly become one of our favourites. As there are only two of us, I started off by making half the amount but I quickly started making the full amount so that there are left overs but more often than not we have to stop ourselves demolishing the whole lot!

680g sweetcorn (2 large tins)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp chilli powder
salt and pepper to taste
feta cheese to sprinkle on top

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the sweetcorn and let it cook until it starts to char making sure you stir it occasionally

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  1. In a bowl mix together the mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic, chilli powder, salt and pepper
  2. When the sweetcorn is nicely charred, let is cool for a couple of minutes before adding to the mayonnaise mix
  3. Keep any leftovers in the fridge for a couple of days

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Tasty Tuesdays on

Fruity Biscotti

Cat Biscotti 1 copy

Photo by Betty

Crunchy biscuits packed with fruits and nuts with a subtle hint of spice, perfect dipped in a cup of coffee.

Week 2 of GBBO is biscuit week! As with most things, I am quite fussy when it comes to biscuits. I will never be the person getting exited over a bourbon! The one biscuit I cannot resist is a chocolate caramel digestive biscuit which is strange as I’m not usually a fan of caramel. It is just not safe if they’re in the house because I do find myself eating more than I should!

The three bakes were Biscotti, Arlettes and a 3D box made of biscuits, filled with biscuits. For Christmas last year I made Fruity Biscotti as part of my Chistmas Menu but never got round to blogging about them so now was the perfect opportunity! After looking at a number of recipes I decided to make this one by Good Food because of how many different fruits and nuts were in it and it went down very well. The original recipe can be found here

One of the great things about biscotti is that you can make a batch and keep it in a airtight container for up to a month. This makes it perfect to make ahead and bring out at family occasions – particularly Christmas. They also make really lovely gifts put in cellophane bags and tied with ribbon.

350g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
250g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
grated zest of 1 orange
85g raisins
85g dried cherries
50g blanched almonds
50g shelled pistachios

  1. Heat oven to 180ºC (fan 160ºC) and line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Mix the flour, baking powder, mixed spice and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs and orange zest until it starts to form clumps. Bring the dough together with your hands – don’t worry it will be dry at first but keep kneading until there are no floury patches left in the bottom of the bowl
  2. Add the fruit and nuts and knead them into the dough making sure they are evenly distributed
  3. Lightly flour your surface and tip the dough out onto it. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and then roll each piece into a sausage approximately 30cm long. Put 2 ‘sausages’ on each tray making sure they are well apart
  4. Bake for 25-30 mins until the dough has risen and feels firm to the touch, it should still be pale at this stage. Transfer onto a wire rack and allow to cool until they are cool enough for you to touch
  5. Turn down the oven to 140ºC (fan 120ºC). Cut the dough into slices about 1 cm thick on the diagonal using a bread knife and then lay them flat on the baking tray. You can cool the biscuits at this stage and freeze them flat on the baking tray, then put into bags and frozen for 2 months
  6. Bake for another 15 mins (20 mins if from frozen), turn them over and thne bake for another 15 minutes until dry and golden
  7. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container for up to one month

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Make sure you check out the rest of the bloggers baking biscuits this week for the Great Bloggers Bake Off 2015 at http:///

Mummy Mishaps

Madeira Cake

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A close textured classic cake ideally with a dome and a crack. This cake signals the most exciting time in a baker’s year – the return of the Great British Bake Off! It also means the return of the Blogger’s Bake Along hosted by Jenny Paulin, which is something I joined in with last year and am very excited for again this year. I am due to move house towards the end of the Bake Off so I will join in for as many weeks as possible and pull a sad pouty face if instead of baking I am packing and unpacking!

Before the series started, we were treated to a preview of what the bakers would have as their first challenge in the tent. Week 1 was cake week which was a Madeira Cake, Walnut Cake and then a Black Forest Gateau. I’m not a massive fan of walnuts and didn’t fancy a Black Forest Gateau so decided to make a Madeira Cake. It also turned out that Madeira Cake is one of my Godmother’s favourite cakes and she was visiting from Aberdeen so it seemed like the obvious choice for the Bake Along.

I remember making Madeira Cake when I was a child using the recipe in my Mum’s Be-Ro book. I decided to use Mary Berry’s recipe from her Baking Bible because, well its’s Mary Berry. I didn’t realise there are ground almonds in a Madeira cake (there weren’t in the Be-Ro recipe anyway!) but because Mary Berry told me to, they went in the cake!

On the show, some of the contestants played about with the flavours but as this is such a classic cake, I decided to keep to the traditional recipe. I was pleased with how my cake turned out – I definitely had the dome shape needed and I’d go as far as saying as I had a pretty good crack in the top. I didn’t have a 7 inch cake tin so I used an 8 inch tin which is why mine may be a little shallower than usual. If you use an 8 inch tin, make sure you test the cake 5 – 10 mins earlier than the recipe suggests incase it has finished baking sooner.

175g softened butter
175 caster sugar
225g self raising flour
50g ground almonds
3 large eggs
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC or 160ºC fan. Line a 7 inch (18cm) deep cake tin with parchment paper
  2. Measure the butter, sugar, flour, ground almonds, eggs and grated lemon into a large bow and beat for approximately a minute

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  1. Tip the cake mix into the prepared tin and smooth until level

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  1. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Put the slice of citron peel on top of the cake and continue cooking for another 30-45 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean

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  1. Leave to cool in the tin for roughly 10 minutes before turning out an allowing to cool completely on a wire rack

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Mummy Mishaps
Make sure you check out Jenny’s blog, Mummy Mishaps – http:///

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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