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Monday, 30 May 2016

Raspberry, Poppy Seed and Elderflower Cake

Happy Bank Holiday for all you UK readers! I wasn't planning on making this recipe for a post. It was a cake I created for a friend of a friend's birthday this weekend, but I thought you know what...this cake looks so beautiful (as you can probably tell, I'm very pleased with it!!) so I'll share the recipe anyway - even though I can't cut into it myself and show you the finished inside. 

I wish I could've cut into it as the flavour combination of this cake is literally me on my plate. I just love elderflower and you may remember that I had a cake this flavour for MY birthday! Elderflower reminds me of the summer and it's delicate floral flavour goes hand in hand with something that packs even more of a punch, so perfect with these jewel-like raspberries, glistening with glaze. 

I couldn't help but flourish the cake with a thyme wreath! The greenery really complements the rosy red of the raspberries and also adding a slight aromatic fragrance which matched well with the elderflower. I suppose it couldn't be more English garden/countryside themed if I tried. If you do have some thyme or even rosemary growing on your windowsill or patio I do recommend using it, (even though it's only for aesthetic purposes!!)

I'm keeping it short and simple this week (well, I call this short in comparison to my usual posts) I'm basically revising non-stop at the minute for my english language exam, but I'm on the home stretch now so not long to go. Yaay! In the meantime have a good old nosy at yet another step by step gif below... I just can't get enough of them. You could say I'm obsessed but I don't care! 

Raspberry,  Poppy  Seed  and  Elderflower  Cake


265g softened butter
170g caster sugar
4 eggs
4 tbsp elderflower cordial
300g plain flour
2 ¾ tsp baking powder
50g poppy seeds

650g icing sugar
145g softened butter
2 tbsp milk
50ml elderflower cordial

To fill:
4-5 tbsp raspberry jam

To decorate:
2 large punnets of fresh raspberries
2 tbsp raspberry jam


Preheat the oven to 175°C/ 350°F/ gas 4. Grease and line 2 x 8 inch (20cm) cake tins. 

In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, if it looks like it might split then add a couple of tablespoons of flour. Add the elderflower cordial and beat again until smooth. 

In another bowl stir together the flour, baking powder and seeds. Add this dry mix to the creamed butter mixture. Stir well to combine. 

Divide the batter between the two prepared cake tins. Level with a palette knife and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. 

Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Leave to cool completely. Meanwhile to make the buttercream, beat together half of the icing sugar with the butter, milk and elderflower cordial in an electric mixer. Once smooth add the rest of the icing sugar and beat again for several minutes until creamy. 

Once the cakes are cool slice each in half to make 4 layers in total. 

To assemble the cake, sandwich each layer with a generous spoonful of buttercream making sure to spread it out evenly, and top 1-2 tbsps of the jam - beaten first in a small bowl to make more spreadable. Completely cover the sides and top with the remaining buttercream and decorate the top with raspberries. 

To make the glaze, put 2 tbsp of jam in a small saucepan along with 1 tbsp of water and mix. Heat on a low heat until simmering. Immediately push through a sieve to remove any seeds and then brush it all over the raspberries whilst hot. Leave to set for at least 20 minutes before serving. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.
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Monday, 23 May 2016

Rhubarb and Custard Cake

Reading about rhubarb (well, to be honest mainly just looking at pretty Pinterest images ) got me thinking about how much I love these stalky vegetables and it turns out - way more than I thought I already did ( yes! They're vegetables posing as fruit!! Sneaky eh?) 

I've had my trusty Victoria crop planted for just a few years now, and it never fails to stay strong and hardy through its season - in thick and then (no pun intended there) no matter how much I yank off in need of a big batch of soon springs back with gusto, albeit producing more than I could ever need (and EAT!) 

Cooked into a variety of sweets from pies to fools to crumbles, rhubarb is soooo versatile and I believe it's underrated. It also makes an excellent condominent for savoury dishes, a more vibrant use. I'm thinking a piquant chutney alongside roasted pork, the characterful sourness makes an amazing partner for a whole host of other flavours. 

Although with this particular blog recipe you could argue I've not been adventurous in the slightest here, sticking to the default that many other cooks crumble to timelessly (my pun was most definitely intended there...) However, my secret weapon beneath it all is that I've cardamom on my side. 

This moist, lightly cardamom infused sponge with a hint of vanilla for good measure as it's quite simply 'tradish', is topped with both red and green thin rhubarb stalks. I've also added custard powder and real custard within the cake batter itself and dotted on top in little clusters as well, this was in substitution of milk in a usual cake mix and it made for a more lovely light creamy texture. 

Be sure if you can't get hold of thinner rhubarb stalks to slice them in half (or even quarters as I had to do with a few of mine) or else they will sink to the bottom of the cake and you won't get to see that beautiful iridescent, pink circular pattern once baked (it would still taste damn good though!)

What I'd seen a lot of  Pinterest users do with their rhubarb cake was to sprinkle the top with some crushed sugar cubes. This adds a perfect crunch texture and harks back to a quintessentially British childhood, yet also helping to sweeten the rhubarb's piquancy. This is just a matter of personal preference and although I'd definitely recommend on adding some sugar on top, the amount is really up to you and really all depends on how tart you can take it. Also, if you're trying to cut down on your sugar intake altogether then of course the sprinkle on top can be left out.

A perfect accompaniment to this cake would be a dollop of lightly whipped cream (chantilly if you're going all out) and is equally amazing served hot or cold. Oh and one more've probably noticed that I used a tart/pie pan instead of the usual cake tin, this isn't because I forgot what I was making but just rather because I like the fluted edge it gives - those tins have more than one baked possibility you know! But if you don't have one then a regular cake tin will do. 

My recipe is inspired by this Call Me Cupcake recipe

Rhubarb  and  Custard  Cake


180g plain flour
15g custard powder ( I used Bird's brand)
1 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 tsp cardamon seeds, finely ground
100 g softened butter + extra for greasing
200g caster sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
130g thick homemade or ready store-bought custard

For the top:
170g rhubarb, washed, trimmed and cut into 7 cm pieces
4-5 tbsp custard 
4 crushed sugar cubes

To serve:
icing sugar
whipped cream if desired


Heat oven to 180°C / 350°F/ gas 4. Grease and line the base of a loose bottomed pie/tart pan or springform cake tin (22-25 cm / 8-10 inches).

Mix the flour, custard powder,  baking powder and cardamom in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Fold in the flour mixture and custard in additions, and stir with a spatula until combined. Pour the batter in the prepared pan.

Dot blobs of custard in equal distribution on top of the cake batter, then place the pieces of sliced rhubarb in a circular pattern. Sprinkle with crushed sugar cubes on top.

Bake the cake for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 150°C/ 300°F/ gas 2 and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes or until cake is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean inserted (where there's not a blob of custard mixture). 

If not planning to serve straight away, leave to cool on a wire rack and keep in an air-tight container. Dust with icing sugar when ready to serve. 
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Monday, 16 May 2016

Banana Chocolate Hazelnut Pastry Rolls

There's not much to this recipe, and by that I mean in the way of very few ingredients, plus it's not the most complex of creations. BUT that doesn't mean to say it's not delicious! ... gimme banana, gimme chocolate, gimme hazelnuts and you can't really go wrong. A true tried and tested combination that just works for all the right reasons. Along with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar and all encased with flaky puff pastry - it's an indulgent dessert that's easy enough for anyone to pull off.

It really is that simple too. I love ready rolled puff pastry! It's a god send! I'm not embarrassed to say it, no one should be considering the busy lives we all have. It makes sense to cut corners where necessary and ready bought puff pastry is one of those corners I'll gladly take. 

Just an assembly of a few simple ingredients, one by one onto the pastry sheet, then rolled up like a swiss roll. I've even provided you with a step by step guide below...  I don't often do these but I figured that for this it would be helpful for you to see for yourself, and hopefully prove that it can be done in a matter of minutes. (It looks pretty cool too!) 

I  think these are best served hot straight outta the oven with the chocolate all melted, oozing out as soon as you burst into that crisp layered shell of buttery goodness. Couple that with a dollop of cream or ice cream and adorned with more chopped nuts for good measure and you've got one heck of a dessert! Naughty but nice, I think that's how I'd describe it. You know it's bad for you but every once in awhile you've got to indulge and spoil yourself and this is most definitely not a waste of calories by my count!

Banana  Chocolate  Hazelnut  Pastry  Rolls

Serves 8

Inspired by this Rachel Khoo recipe


375g pack ready rolled puff  pastry
1 egg, beaten
40g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
40g chopped, toasted hazelnuts (or other nuts if you prefer)
2 large slightly underripe bananas
75g milk chocolate (or dark chocolate if you prefer)


Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / gas 4. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. 

Lay out your ready rolled pastry sheet and brush beaten egg wash all over it to act as a glue. In a small bowl mix the sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle most of the cinnamon sugar over the pastry and then most of the nuts, making sure they're distributed evenly all over. 

Peel the bananas and bend them slightly so they're straight, place in a row near to one long side of the pastry rectangle. Next to the banana, place a row of chocolate squares. Roll it up starting at the long side with the banana and chocolate, brushing as you go with more egg wash to help it stick. Cut the roll into two equal pieces and squash the ends with your fingers to help it seal. Place the two rolls onto the prepared baking tray and brush all over with a little remaining egg wash for a glaze. Sprinkle the tops with remaning sugar and chopped nuts. 

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the pastry looks golden. The chocolate may ooze out of the ends. Slice into 8 pieces and serve. 

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Friday, 6 May 2016

Hasselback Apples with Nutty Streusel Topping

I don't quite know how I came about baking this because really, out of everything, it's rather an Autumnal recipe... with the sweet scent of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting out of the oven, it completely juxtaposes to this lovely Summery weather we've been having in the UK recently. 

I suppose I was just in the mood for something warming and comforting, which is exactly what this sweet little pudding provides! It's like apple crumble in a way - with the streusel topping giving richness and that all important crunch from the demerara sugar, walnuts and flaked almonds. 

I've only discovered what hasselback potatoes are just lately... (sorry, I'm a slow learner!) But, when I realised that you could literally do this with anything you can slice, soooo  i.e. most fruit and vegetables, I just had to give this a go! AND make it a dessert one of course!!

I feel I might have put you off the fact it's quite an Autumn/Winter' ish recipe and it's Spring (well at least here in the UK it is...) but please do make this all year round. It's perfect for any time. What the heck, go even have it for breakfast!  (I've just thought about how deliciously naughty but good this would be for breakfast, mmmm) baked breakfast apples exists as a thing so why not have streusel too?! 

I should point out that this recipe doesn't make a lot. Serving 2 ( 1⁄2 an apple each) or one generous portion - if you're really up for it. But it can easily be doubled and most of the ingredients are listed in measurements of tablespoons etc. so it's super quick and easy to do. 

Note: I would recommend serving this with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream or custard. 

Hasselback  Apples  with  Nutty  Streusel  Topping 

Makes 1 large portion or 2 smaller ones


1 dessert apple
1 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp brown sugar (light or dark is fine)
1⁄2 tsp cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp nutmeg
1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract

For the streusel topping:
30g cold butter 
4 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp demerara sugar 
1 tbsp roughly chopped walnuts
1 tbsp flaked almonds


Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F/ gas 6. Peel and slice the apple in half. Remove the stalk and use a melon baller to remove the core and pips. Use a knife to make lots of slits in both apple halves, making sure you cut down far enough but not all the way through to the other side. Place the apple halves into a small baking dish, flat side facing down. 

Mix the melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a small bowl, then brush all over the apple, letting it flood down to the bottom of the dish. Bake the apple in the oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile to make the streusel topping, cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour. Stir in the sugar and nuts. 

Once the apple have baked for 20 minutes, scatter over the streusel mixture and bake again for 15 minutes until the streusel is lightly golden. Serve straight away. 

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