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Thursday, 31 March 2016

Little Honey, Orange and Pistachio Cakes

I like pistachios. I like pistachios a lot!! I think I'd  have to put pistachios within the top three of mt favourite nuts list...(if that even exists as a thing? ) And for that reason you'll often find me putting pistachios into whatever I bake as much as possible. 

These little beauties (are supposed to be little by the way) and are a bit like madeleines - for a dessert
it's best to serve 2 per person, but they're actually best eaten on the day anyway, so get em' all eaten quick!! They've got a kinda Middle-Eastern style thing'y going on, and  makes a lovely light dessert served with lightly whipped cream, more chopped pistachios and a bit of orange zest - the perfect end to a three-course meal. 

Just be sure to grease your mini muffin tin holes ( fairy cake tin) really well because they don't require a muffin case and so you may have to get out your palette knife out after they're baked and give a quick release round the sides whilst still warm; all depending on how non-stick your tin is to be honest. Mine is quite old now, so it needed it. Well loved and well used from the good old classic fairy cake days - I remember those days fondly. When that's all my baking skills could just about fathom, adorned with shed loads of gooey glacé icing of course, and how could we forget those hundreds and thousands... I remember when Barbie had a special edition! As you can imagine, they were ever so exciting for my eight year old self at the time. Who could blame me either? What's not to love about pretty pink flower sprinkles? Exactly.  

Just before I go onto the recipe I'd like to quickly add that I'm on the shortlist for this year's Pink Lady Food Photographer of The Year competition, with my entry being in the young 15-17 category. If you enjoy my food photography and would be kind enough to pop on over to this link and hit the vote button for 'Frances Cope' (that's me!) You'll have to scroll right down to the bottom as us young'ens are last! It's for the People's Choice Award 2016 and my entry is a Handful Of Raspberries, I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks! :) 

Little Honey,  Orange  and  Pistachio  Cakes

Makes 12

Recipe slightly adapted from 'delicious magazine online'


75g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
2 medium free-range eggs
40g caster sugar
3 tbsp clear honey (orange blossom is best), plus extra to serve
75g plain flour
40g pistachios, chopped, plus extra to serve
1 orange
Double cream to serve


Preheat the oven to 190°C/ 375°F/gas 5. Grease 12 x 25ml mini muffin tins (fairy cake tin). Melt the butter and set aside to cool. 

Using an electric hand mixer, whisk the eggs, caster sugar and honey until the mixture is very thick. When lifted out, the beaters should leave a trail that sits on the surface for a few seconds - ribbon stage. 

In batches, sift the flour on to the egg mixture and fold in gently. Carefully fold in the pistachios, orange zest and cooled melted butter. Fill the muffin tins with the mixture and bake for 8-10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack. Squeeze the juice from the orange all over the cakes and leave to soak in for a few minutes. Serve with lightly whipped cream on the side, a sprinkle of the pistachios and some drizzled honey. Best eaten on the day, although you can store them at room temperature in an air tight container. 

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Saturday, 26 March 2016

Quick Orange Caramel and Cinnamon Portuguese Tarts

Happy Easter everyone! I bring you these tasty portuguese tarts (instead of a chocolate egg), but they are rather 'easter' ish with the hot cross bun flavors of cinnamon and orange. These tarts are perfect for when you've got a pack of ready made puff pastry in the fridge and you don't know what to do with it. When flicking through my old Jamie's 30 Minute Meals book I came across his recipe for quick portuguese tarts and was interested to try this rendition made with crème fraîche instead of the tradish' custard method and topped with an orange caramel. Mmmmmm!!!

I didn't quite manage to bash 'em out in 30 minutes (disappointedly) but nonetheless they were quick to do, and were ready to eat in under an hour. Still very impressive, well I think so! I'd forgotten how great his 30 minute meals book was to be honest, I'll definitely be revisiting it to try out some recipes I've never actually got round to making before. 

I have adapted Jamie's recipe slightly, the tarts have cinnamon sprinkled between the layers of pastry and in the custard too along with the zest of an orange. Then, the caramel to top it all off, is flavoured with the juice of an orange, made with that instead of your usual water sugar syrup. Oh and I made the recipe to give 12 tarts instead of 6, who wants just 6 tarts?! They'd be gone in a flash. 

Note: To clean your pan after making the caramel, boil a kettle ready and then once you've emptied the pan, quickly pour in boiling water and put it back onto the heat to dissolve those annoyingly hard bits of caramel left which won't budge. 

Quick  Orange Caramel and  Cinnamon  Portuguese  Tarts


Makes 12 tarts
plain flour for dusting
500g pack of ready made puff pastry
few good pinches ground cinnamon
10 tbsp caster sugar
flavourless oil spray for greasing
250ml crème fraîche
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large orange


Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F/ gas 6. Dust a work surface with flour and then roll out your pastry to a rough rectangle measuring approx 30 x 40 cm. Sprinkle over a a few good pinches of cinnamon and a tbsp of sugar. Roll up the pastry starting at one long side to the other, into a swiss roll shape tightly. Cut into 12 equal sized rounds. 

Grease a 12 hole muffin tin with oil spray and then press each pastry round into the tin, cut side up so you can see the swirl, then use your fingers to mold and push the pastry into the sides of the muffin hole, stretching the pastry until the bottom is flat and the pastry comes up the sides to the top. Put the pastry cases into the oven to bake for 10 mins. Then take the tin out of the oven and with a small teaspoon, push the puffed up pastry back to the sides and bottom to make room for the filling. Put them back into the oven to bake again for another 2 minutes until lightly golden. 

Meanwhile, to make the filling put the crème fraîche, eggs, vanilla, 2 tbsp sugar, a few pinches of cinnamon and the zest of an orange into a large jug and whisk till well combined. Once the pastry cases have cooked, take them out of the oven and slowly pour in the custard mixture into the cases, being careful not to overfill them or spill any down the sides. 

Return the pastry cases back to the oven to bake for 10 minutes. When the tarts have a few minutes left to cook make the caramel. 

Put a small metal saucepan on a high heat and squeeze in the juice of the zested orange, add 7 tbsp of sugar and leave to dissolve and bubble. Keep an eye on the caramel and don't be tempted to stir it, only swirl the pan. Once the mixture begins to bubble less and turns to a light golden straw colour it's done and lift the pan off the heat immediately. 

Carefully remove the tarts from the tin using a palette knife and leave them to cool on a wire rack. Pour over a little hot caramel onto each tart, leave the tarts to cool down and set. They're best eaten on the day of the making, store in the fridge in an airtight container. 

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Friday, 11 March 2016

Earl Grey, Orange and Elderflower Cake (My Birthday Cake!)

In case you haven't gathered from the title of this post - it was my birthday recently! One week ago to be precise... the biggie - 18!! This was my birthday cake which I requested my friend Ellen to make for me, because let's be honest, who wants to make their own birthday cake?! (it's a bit on the sad side if you ask me, I know, I know, I've made it in the past for myself but this year I just wasn't feeling it.) Anyway, me and Ellen have this deal where she makes mine if I'll make hers, and she's also 18 in June so I think we're on even par when it comes to making an equally impressive cake for a rather momentous celebration. 

The flowers give this simple naked cake an elegant touch with a sense of 'spring is here!' feel to it, which is quite the opposite to what it actually felt like given the huge amount of snow that fell on my birthday, putting almost a stop to all celebrations I had planned for the weekend. Ironic eh? (It always snows on my birthday - without fail every year, whether it's a foot deep or a slight dusting, you can count on it!) 

The flavours in this cake are spring-like too, with floral notes of elderflower in the icing and a zesty kick of orange together with the tea gives the impression that your drinking lady grey which altogether was perfectly light way to finish a meal! 

Due to the time of year, Ellen couldn't actually source elderflowers which would have made sense to decorate the cake with given that it's in the icing, so instead she picked a mixture of roses and white elderflower look alikes, but anything that you fancy would go well, just pick what's in season and that's not poisonous of course! 

Earl Grey,  Orange  and  Elderflower  Cake


For the cake:
240 ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 bags Earl Grey tea/ 2 tsp loose leaf Earl Grey tea + 1 tsp finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves
360g all-purpose/plain flour
2½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
400g caster sugar
4 large eggs
Zest of 1 orange

For the icing:
300g unsalted butter, softened
450g icing sugar, sifted
4 tbsp elderflower cordial
Zest of 1 orange

To decorate - a selction of flowers (non poisonous)


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/ gas 4. Grease and line 3 x 7 inch cake tins.

Put the milk and vanilla in a pan and heat. Once simmering add the tea, turn off the heat and  then leave to infuse for 20 mins.

Remove the tea bags (strain if using loose leaf tea) and leave to cool completely . In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, ground tea leaves, and salt, then set aside. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated, then add the orange zest.

Mix in a 1/3 of the milk and then 1/3 of the flour into the creamed butter and sugar mix. Repeat until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Equally divide the mixture between the 3 tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes. When cooked, cool the cakes in their pans for 15 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

To make the icing, beat the butter until soft then add the icing sugar a few tablespoons at a time. Add the elderflower cordial and orange zest. To ice the cakes add 1/3 of the icing onto each layer and arrange a selection of your chosen flowers on top.

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Tuesday, 1 March 2016

"Have a Cuppa!" Tea Loaf - Refined Sugar Free

I'm not one to go completely all out with this "sugar free" lifestyle thingy'. BUT, when I do come across a recipe that I might actually like, then it's well worth trying some alternatives out every once in awhile. Plus, it makes eating it feel a whole lot more satisfying knowing there's no guilt involved! A bonus of course!

I wouldn't bake something if I thought it wasn't worth it without sugar, because frankly it's a waste of good ingredients and it just won't get eaten in my house. With my last post  - beetroot cake also being refined sugar free, it seems as if it's becoming a dietary habit of mine, but I can assure you it won't... Let's face it, no matter how many other ingredients you can add to rectify the no added sugar, some things just won't turn out half as good because it's needed!! (For sweetness and texture too sometimes.)

Having said all that, this recipe doesn't need it. Thankfully. (Otherwise it would've been pointless for me to even write this recipe on here, never mind try and persuade you to make it!) The reason why it works is because there are two forms of sweetness, one coming from the fruit because it's a tea loaf, whereby British tradition requires this, otherwise it's not classed as one. The second coming from the alternative sweetener of maple syrup. (I did say it's refined sugar free, not altogether sugar free!)

This recipe is adapted from Davina Mccall's 5 Weeks to Sugar-Free [Book], where I suggested other less 'traditional' dried fruit options (below) which I used, upped the syrup quantity ever so slightly (I'm not gonna lie this was actually mistake, it poured out of the bottle way too quickly for me to handle - ooops! But it worked fine). And swapped wholemeal spelt flour for regular plain wholemeal. All of which made for a lovely, sweet, moist loaf which is great at any time of the day. Especially at breakfast (that's if it lasts a few days, and you get to that stale 'ish stage where nobody seems to eat that last end bit, this is perfect toasting time.) 

Tea  Loaf  [ Refined  Sugar  Free] 

Recipe adapted from Davina Mccall


Makes 1 loaf
350g dried fruit (I used a mixture of cranberries, raisins, golden raisins, sultanas, inca berries, cherries & blueberries)
200ml freshly brewed tea
70ml maple syrup
250g plain wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
2 eggs


Place the dried fruit in a bowl and pour over the tea and maple syrup. Leave the fruit to soak in the tea and syrup for at least a few hours and preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4/ 350°F. Line and grease a 1kg/2lb loaf tin with baking parchment. Put the flour into the bowl with the soaked fruit mixture, stir in the baking powder and mixed spice. Add the eggs. Mix everything thoroughly, then spoon into the prepared loaf tin.

Bake the tea loaf in the oven for about an hour. Remove and leave it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out and transfer it to a cooling rack. Serve thickly with lashings of butter.

I  Was  Baking  To...

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