Recipe: Toffee & Pecan Banana Loaf Cake

This is banana bread like you’ve never had before. Banana bread on steroids. Banana bread so deliciously sticky and gooey it nearly has to be eaten with a spoon, so much so it’s definitely more cake than bread.

 photo Toffee Banana Pecan Loaf_zpsrdfxtaqw.jpgIt’s also one of my favourite bakes of all time.

Inspired by this GoodFood recipe, it’s sweet, squidgy (love that word!) and crunchy all at once, it’s extremely easy and pretty quick to make. The only difficulty and time-consuming bit is chopping the toffees – and if you use fudge instead it’s a whole lot easier. I found the best way to chop actual toffees was to warm a knife over a pan of boiling water (I was doing mashed potato for dinner at the same time!), then chop under a tea-towel to stop toffee shattering everywhere. Then everything pretty much goes into one bowl, gets a quick mix, thrown into a loaf tin, scattered with nuts and toffee and baked. The result is a pretty good looking cake, even when your toffee does sink right to the bottom.

 photo Toffee Pecan Banana Loaf6_zpsflako6rz.jpg photo Toffee Pecan Banana Loaf12_zpspxjmyuni.jpgIngredients

  • 200g mashed ripe banana (around 2 bananas – I tend to buy bananas in bulk, ripen excessively then slice and freeze)
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g butter
  • 100g/4oz toffee yogurt (I use MullerLight – just under a full pot, so the chef gets the leftovers!)
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 200g flour
  • 1&½ tsp baking powder
  • 75g pecan nuts
  • 150g chewy toffees

Roughly chop the pecans and toffees, then set aside. Mix together the bananas, eggs, butter, toffee yogurt and sugar, until well combined. Fold the flour and baking powder into the mixture, then fold in around three-quarters of the pecan nuts.
Spoon the mixture into a 900g loaf tin (greased and lined), before sprinkling on the remaining nuts and all of the toffees. Bake for around an hour at 150C until loaf risen and no longer soggy in the middle (just a skewer to test!). Cool in the tin- trust me, molten toffee is not a good thing to get on your fingers! Slice up when fully cool – and just blast in the microwave for a few seconds to warm up if serving with ice-cream.

 photo Toffee Pecan Banana Loaf15_zpsumfwa8hx.jpgI find this cake perfect for so many occasions. Stick in some candles and you’ve got one of my favourite birthday cakes. Slice up and it makes a sell-out charity bake. It’s delicious served warm with ice-cream, and I’ve had it (with and without yoghurt) for breakfast too – it’s “banana bread” after all!

Have you been baking lately?

Recipe: Chocolate, Orange & Ginger Cookies

One of my favourite festive treats (who am I kidding, I love everything festive as long as it doesn’t contain dried fruit!) is a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. The combo of zingy orange and creamy chocolate is one I’ve loved for as long as I can remember, and these cookies captured that AND took it up a notch. Adding ginger and a touch of cinnamon gave a warmth and kick to each bite that really brought these cookies to another level.

 photo Chocolate Orange Ginger Cookies_zpsqeg8azcp.jpgThis recipe came about way back at the beginning of December, when I attended an event put on by the Co-Op and Sorted Food to address the Cooking Gap. The ‘gap is basically young people showing a massive lack of cooking and food skills. Having lived in halls for a year of my university life, I totally get this – one of my housemates bought a BBQ chicken pizza from Asda, left on the kitchen side for a week, popped it in the fridge for another week, then cooked it. Didn’t smell great! I know I didn’t get much cooking skills from school (though they did teach me how to make a white sauce, so eternally grateful there!), and I didn’t do a whole lot of cooking with my mum either. For a completely self-taught 23 year old I would say my cooking skills are pretty good, but I know so many people who just don’t cook. At all. Fingers crossed the guys at Sorted manage to change that!

 photo 2016-12-06 19.27.23_zps7alwpdtd.jpg photo 2016-12-06 19.26.39_zpsblmovsag.jpg photo 2016-12-06 19.25.49_zpssocdhfwc.jpg photo 2016-12-06 19.23.48_zpsnwyiofpt.jpg photo 2016-12-06 19.09.05_zps3vpebhtj.jpg photo 2016-12-06 19.07.50_zpsovidos5h.jpg photo 2016-12-06 19.01.35_zpstdfukjww.jpgIt was a pretty fab event too. I was super-jealous of their kitchen, got a little too tipsy with Tanya and had a delicious white pizza made for me, then drizzled with honey. Bit of an odd combo, but it totally worked!

Now to the cookies. Soft in the middle, crisp at the edges, sweet, spicy, filling and a good chocolatey hit. Pretty much the perfect cookie…

 photo Chocolate Orange Ginger Cookies24_zpsdooclw9s.jpg photo Chocolate Orange Ginger Cookies23_zpszebjbask.jpg photo Chocolate Orange Ginger Cookies22_zpsml0ot5ok.jpgIngredients

  • 50g candied ginger
  • 50g dark chocolate chips
  • 1 orange (zested, plus half of the juice)
  • 60g butter
  • 90ml sunflower oil
  • 180g soft brown sugar
  • 50g honey
  • 1 egg
  • 0.5tsp baking powder
  • 0.5tsp ground cinnamon
  • 0.5tsp ground ginger
  • 120g plain flour
  • 240g porridge oats

 

Place a clean large mixing bowl on a set of scales and reset the scales to zero using the tare function.

Add the butter, oil, sugar, orange juice and honey to a bowl, then crack in the egg and beat together until light and creamy. Add the vanilla, baking powder, and ground spices to the mixture; beat evenly to combine. Add the flour and the oats, stir, then add in your candied ginger, chocolate and orange zest. Mix everything together well.

Spoon blobs of about a tablespoon of the mixture onto baking trays (line with greasepoof). Roll into a ball and flatten slightly, but leave plenty of space between them as I found they did spread slightly. I also found the mix realllyyyyy sticky, so keeping my fingers damp helped here! Bake for 12-15 minutes at 175C until they are golden around the edges, cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 photo Chocolate Orange Ginger Cookies25_zpsbxo1wmj1.jpgI’m not ashamed (well, maybe a little) to admit that I ate them for breakfast. Though they are perfect with an afternoon cuppa too. Or a post-dinner snack. Or just because…

What’s your favourite type of cookie? Do you think the cooking gap is important to address?

Recipe: Baked Cinnamon Doughnuts

This is a recipe I really, really wish I hadn’t discovered. This is not the way I wanted to start recipes posts of 2017.

 photo Baked Cinnamon Doughnuts_zpslmuhqtrz.jpgI wanted to start with a good fresh salad, or a zingy stir-fry. Something colourful, healthy, crisp, full of nutrients. Instead I’m posting about dougnuts. Which I absolutely insist must be dunked into Nutella. I’m sorry.

Don’t get me wrong, these are delicious. But my greedy tummy does not need to know that I can whip up doughnuts in just half an hour, with storecupboard ingredients. It makes Friday-night Movie-nights all the more gluttonous. And all the more yummy. That said, these are oven-baked. No frying. No oil. That’s got to count for something, right?!

Soft and moist, spiced with warmth from cinnamon, I like these dipped into a melted pot of Nutella. There’s just something so magical about the combination of chocolate, hazelnut and cinnamon; I could eat them all day.

 photo Baked Cinnamon Doughnuts 7_zpseecdwzej.jpg photo Baked Cinnamon Doughnuts 15_zpsr20jyy93.jpgIngredients

  • 225g plain flour
  • 200g sugar (I like to use a combination of caster and light brown sugar in these)
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 300ml milk
  • 25g butter, melted

Mix together the flour, sugars, baking powder, and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and melted butter. Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until combined – but be careful not to overmix! Spoon or pipe the batter into dounght pans (I used silicone ones – if you have regular ones then grease them lightly first), filling each one a little more than three-quarters full.

Bake for 10 minutes at 180C, or until firm to the touch and light golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then carefully remove from the pan – I found my first batch tore quite a bit due to not letting them cool enough, so be patient!

 photo Baked Cinnamon Doughnuts 11_zpsziiiud0z.jpgIf you want to be ultra-indulgent (and let’s face it, if you’re making brownies you might as well go hard or go home…), I recommend covering in a cinnamon-spiked sugar. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in an 8-inch saute pan. Combine 150g sugar and plenty of cinnamon in a small bowl. Dip each doughnut first in the butter and then in the cinnamon sugar. Dip into Nutella. Eat. Done.

Have you ever made doughnuts? What have you been eating recently?

Recipe: S’mores Brownies

Yup, S’mores brownies. I’ll pause for a second to let that sink in.

smores-browniesS’mores brownies. Super fudgy chocolate brownies (with milk chocolate chips, because chocolate), baked on a digestive biscuit crust and topped with toasted mini marshmallows.

S’mores have been a major love of mine since my Girl Guide days. Contrary to popular belief, we never went camping camping, and our weekly base was in the town centre. That didn’t stop us having fire pits in the church-hall courtyard, and s’mores always made an appearance. We tended to go for the easy option of setting fire to toasting marshmallows and sandwiching between chocolate-covered digestive biscuits, though I’ve since discovered that spreading digestives with nutella is a rather delicious alternative. These brownies pretty much recreate those s’mores, but in a bigger and slightly more convenient way for eating in a ladylike fashion.

 photo Smores Brownie 3_zpsblhgp7ea.jpg photo Smores Brownie 6_zpsvzlee95q.jpgI was originally invited by The Co-Op to do some spooky Halloween-themed baking, but a migraine put an end to that so we compromised on Bonfire Bakes instead – just as well as the marshmallows instead the box were crying out for a flame and some chocolate. With the inclusion of a free-from brownie mix, we set about recreating one of our favourite Autumnal treats.

The buttery biscuit base of these s’more brownies  is crispy and crumbly – and the flakes of sea salt running through (which was originally a total accident, I meant to grab the finely milled stuff) break things up, stopping it from being too sweet. Whilst we used a mix for the brownie layer, you could easily use any of your favourite recipes (even lighten it up with my lower-fat mayonnaise brownies – old post alert!). Last year W first created a s’more brownie and added a good measure of whisky to the brownies before baking, definitely worth a try… You underbake the brownies, even more so than usual, popping a good layer of mashmallows and then baking for a few minutes longer. If you liked the scorched effect, pop under the grill or a blowtorch for a few seconds too. Yum.

 photo Smores Brownie 1_zpshdmpguq3.jpg photo Smores Brownie 19_zpskt1ljroc.jpgIngredients

  • For the crust: 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, 8 digestives, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/3 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • For the brownies: use your favourite recipe designed for a 20cm square pan
  • A bag of mini marshmallows (around 100-150g)

To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 160°C and line an 20x20cm pan. Melt the butter in a small pan. Crush the biscuits (I find using a mini food processor the quickiest and tidiest way, though bashing with a rolling pin will always be a great stress reliever!), then mix with the sugar and salt. Pour in the melted butter and stir until well combined. Pour into the lined pan, and press evenly along the bottom and sides – the amounts here make for quite a thin base, but increase the proportions if you want more of a crunch. Bake for around 18-20 minutes until lightly golden and staring to crisp. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

To make the brownies: Increase the oven temperature to 180°C and prepare the brownie layer. As I said, we were lazy and used a mix but just go for your favourite recipe, adding whisky if you fancy. Pour the batter over the crust and spread out evenly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes depending on how gooey you like your brownies.

To make the marshmallow layer: Leave the oven on. Arrange the marshmallows over the top of the part-baked brownies. Continue to bake for 5 or so minutes, until the marshmallows are melted and light brown on top and the brownies are cooked to your liking. If you fancy the more charred marshmallow taste, grill or blowtorch for another minute. Just be careful if blowtorching – a quote from W: “I didn’t notice it was on fire…”

 photo Smores Brownie 13_zps3hwewmjj.jpg photo Smores Brownie 10_zpscwioytzb.jpgThese really are utterly delicious – sweet, sticky and insanely moreish. We’ve pretty much decided that making these will become a little bit of a Bonfire night tradition, as will wrapping them up and taking them with us to watch a local fireworks display. S’mores brownies. I want s’more right now…

What’s your favourite Autumnal treat? Did you celebrate Bonfire Night?

Recipe: Chocolate & Whisky Macarons

I have to admit, when I was sixteen and a guy was trying to impress me by telling me he could bake, I was skeptical. Just sounds a little like a cheesy chat-up line, right?! Clearly he was keeper right there and then (his cookie recipe remains our favourite to this day!), because six years on he made these.

 photo Macarons_zpsximvjnww.png photo Chocolate and Whisky Macarons 4_zpsf6nrcbkr.jpgChocolate macarons. Filled with a boozy, rich, chocolatey ganache.

I know – I’m a lucky girl! These macarons are crisp on the outside, delightfully chewy on the inside – the perfect macaron. But, in my opinion at least, it’s the ganache that steals the show. Impossibly rich and chocolatey, with a real kick coming from the whisky. We’re big whisky-lovers but if you’re worried about enjoying it then feel free to cut down to just one teaspoon. Oh, and these amounts made a shit-load of ganache too – way more than you’ll need for filling the macarons. I highly suggest chilling the mix and then rolling into truffles. You can thank me later…

 photo Chocolate and Whisky Macarons 2_zpsegmjhcln.jpgIngredients (makes around 25 macarons, and plenty of ganache!)

  • 170g icing sugar
  • 160g ground almonds
  • 120ml egg whites from about 4 medium eggs, separated into 2 equal batches
  • 160g granulated sugar
  • 1/2tsp raw cacao powder (1tsp if using normal cocoa powder)
  • For the ganache: 225g dark chocolate, 140ml double cream, 2 tbsp butter, 2 tsp whisky

Mix the icing sugar, cacao powder and ground almonds together, then sieve into a large bowl, discarding any particles that stay in the sieve. Add the first batch of egg whites to the almond mixture, mix to form a thick paste and set aside.

Tip the second half of egg whites into the bowl of your KitchenAid (or a large, clean bowl with an electric mixer set up nearby). Place 50ml water and the granulated sugar into a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook until the syrup registers 110C on a sugar thermometer, then start to beat the egg whites on high speed. Once the syrup is at 118C pour it gradually into the whites, avoiding the moving whisk. Whisk on high until the mixture has cooled slightly and you have a shiny meringue mixture (soft peaks are good here). Tip the meringue onto the almond mixture and gently fold together until fully combined.

 photo Chocolate and Whisky Macarons 1_zpsgwnolysl.jpgHeat oven to 170C and line 3 baking sheets with baking parchment. Transfer the batter to a piping bag and pipe rounds (around a 50p size) onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave to rest for 30 mins (not in the fridge) – they should develop a film or skin on top. Bake for 13-15 mins, then cool for a few minutes before gently peeling the macaroons off the paper.

To make the filling, heat cream until warm (not boiling) and then add finely chopped chocolate, stirring until melted and combined. Add in the butter and whiskey and stir until combined, then let cool until thicken. Place the chocolate mix into a clean piping bag with a smaller nozzle and pipe around the edge of half the macarons. Fill the centre with more ganache and sandwich with another macaron half.

 photo Chocolate and Whisky Macarons 3_zpsekg8jkwb.jpgChocolate and whisky might seem like an odd combination, but it’s one I think really works perfectly. A slightly smoky whisky against a bitter-sweet but creamy desert is one of my ideas of perfection and these macarons take it to the next level. They are even better after a few days, when the moisture from the ganache softens the macaron a bit more, making them a little denser, a little brownie like. And they are so small, it would b a crime to have less than three at once…

What’s your favourite chocolate-y recipe?

Recipe: Cheese Scones

As much as I love my mum’s classic scones, there’s something about the cheesy versions I just can’t resist. I like mine warm from the over (or zapped in the microwave), split and spread with an indecent amount of butter. I also enjoy them cold, split and filled with mustard and ham – a take on my favourite sandwich. Just typing this is making me hungry!

 photo Cheese Scones_zpszs4rfcac.png photo Cheese Scones 6_zps7wq1gfba.jpgI’m very definitely a savoury person. Sure, I love a slice of cake or a chocolate bar as much as the next person, but when I’m dreaming of food (more often than I care to admit!) it’s always the savoury options that get my tummy rumbling. A good Ploughman’s lunch, a steaming hot pasty, a plate of Welsh rarebit, I love a good hearty snack. I also can’t resist cheese straws, but perhaps that’s a recipe for another time…

The key with cheese scones is to not overload them with cheese, particularly when sprinkling the tops. Trust me, this is easier said that done! An overly cheesy scone won’t rise as well, so the final result will be a little heavy. Still delicious, but you wouldn’t want more than one – and where’s the fun in that?!

 photo Cheese Scones 2_zpsb6lzxnju.jpgThese cheese scones, made to my mum’s recipe (actually, she baked the photographed ones for our engagement party way back in August), are super cheesy without sacrificing the rise. They are also well-seasoned – I also like mine with a slight kick of spice from mustard and cayenne, though feel free to leave this out for a more classic flavour.

Ingredients

  • 8oz self raising flour
  • pinch each of salt, black pepper, mustard powder and cayenne pepper
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 2oz butter
  • 4oz cheese, plus an extra 1oz for topping – a strong mature cheddar works well, but I can’t resist Red Leicester for scones
  • 80-90 ml milk, plus extra for glazing

 photo Cheese Scones 4_zpsevssaiyc.jpgSift together the flour, seasonings and baking powder until thoroughly combined. Cut the butter (make sure it is very cold) into cubes, place in the bowl and then rub in with your fingertips until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Grate the cheese into the breadcrumb mixture and rub in until evenly distributed.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in enough milk to give a dough. Do not pour in all the milk at once as you may not need it all to get the right consistency – use a wooden spoon to stir in between additions, stopping just as the dough begins to come together. Chill the dough for 15 minutes.

Roll out the dough to approximately 2cm thick on a floured surface. Cut out the scones and then place on a lined tray. Glaze with milk and sprinkle a little cheese on the top of each scone. Bake at 190C for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. If you prefer a crispier top, bake at 200C for crunchy out and soft inner. Serve warm with butter, or cold as the bread-replacement in a sandwich lunch.

 photo Cheese Scones 1_zpsiz8ryjh3.jpgNow I have an idea: a double-scone afternoon tea. A first course of a warm cheese scone, dripping with melted butter. Then a second course of the classic scone with jam and cream. Sounds perfect to me!

Ooh, I just noticed as I scheduled this – it’s exactly two years until our wedding! The almost-ten-months since we got engaged has flown by, so I’m hoping it continues to go as quickly!

Are you a fan of cheese scones?

Recipe: Chocolate & Hazelnut Spiced Loaf

Another backdated Bake Along, this time from bread week. Now, I make a lot of bread. In fact I’m determined by the end of the year to eat as little bought bread as possible (my weakness = M&S Baguettes). Between us me and W make a damn good white loaf, decent bagels, wholemeal rolls and even pitta breads. We’re also currently attempting sourdough which is an interesting and ever-so frustrating process.

 photo Chocolate Spiced Loaf_zpsyit52po4.pngWhat we’d never tried before, however, was a sweet loaf. Inspired by Rav’s creation on GBBO (I was a little disappointed by him, I was expecting some inventive vegan recipes but apparently not!) this sweet loaf is gentle spiced, rich with chocolate and textured from hazelnuts. As it’s a two-strand braid it doesn’t require any complex plaiting skills (neither of us was up to that!), and a lot of time is spent waiting for it to prove, making it perfect for lazy Sundays – bread making is perfect for those days where you snuggle up with a film.

This Chocolate & Hazelnut Spiced Loaf is moist with a tender crumb, the crust is soft and sweet from the glaze, and the whole thing is fragrant with cardamon. It certainly made the flat smell good!

 photo Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Loaf 3_zpsdeipvuil.jpg photo Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Loaf 2_zpsbutlqv0w.jpgIngredients

  • 120ml milk
  • 50g sugar
  • 1½ tsp yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 275g white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground green cardamom seeds
  • 50g very soft butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 60g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 30g chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 egg yolk (we used the white to make a whisky sour cocktail…), to glaze
  • 125g sugar & 110ml water – for the sugar syrup

For the dough, combine the milk, half the sugar and the yeast in a jug. Add the egg and lightly beat to combine. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, cardamom and the remaining sugar until well combined. Add the milk mixture and combine. Knead in the bowl until you have a smooth dough – we found it to be quite a sticky dough, so cheated and popped it into our Kitchen Aid with dough-hook attachment.

Rub about 10g of the butter onto a clean work surface. Tip the dough out and knead in another 20g butter until well combined and the dough forms a smooth ball. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl and cover with cling film. Prove in a warm place until doubled in size, whilst you make the glaze. Heat the caster sugar and 112ml/3¾fl oz water in a saucepan. When the sugar has dissolved, set it aside to cool – this is the sugar syrup.

Tip the risen dough out onto the work surface and roll out into a rectangle approximately 26x35cm. Spread the remaining butter on the dough and sprinkle over the chocolate and hazelnuts. Roll it up like a sausage and pinch to seal. Slice the dough lengthways to make two strands, then pinch together at one end and tightly coil together. Transfer to a loaf tin, cover and put in a warm place to prove again until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 200C.

Whisk the egg yolk with 2 teaspoons water then brush onto the proved loaf. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden-brown – if you tap the bottom of the loaf (out of the tin) it should sound hollow. Leave to cool a little in the tin, then brush the sugar syrup onto the loaf. Remove from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

 photo Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Loaf 4_zpsyqvijrzd.jpg photo Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Loaf 5_zps75c1ztsg.jpgWe found that this took a lot of work, but it was worth it. I loved it served slightly warm with a cuppa, whilst W really enjoyed it for breakfast. I imagine it would be great toasted and spread with Nutella too! I did think that the cardamon flavour in ours was a little too strong, so I’ve reduced it in the amounts above – next time I’d also be tempted to add a little grated orange zest just to add a bit of sharpness.

Have you been baking recently? Who was your favourite GBBO contestant of 2016?

Recipe: Ginger & Lime Biscuits

Every year I say I want to do a GBBO Bake Along. Every year I fail. This year I’ve gotten part of the way. Whilst I haven’t managed to bake and blog along (hats off to those that have!), I have managed to be pretty good at baking something inspired by the show most weeks.

 photo Ginger Lime Biscuits_zpsysaa6606.pngThis bake is a bit of a mish-mash between the first two weeks; it coincided with moving week, and with baking bits all over the country it seemed like a good idea to skip the first week. We then decided to merge the slightly citrus tone from Week 1 into the Biscuits. The result was a wonderfully spicy gingerbread, with warmth from cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, half covered with a zingy-sweet lime icing. The bake of the biscuit was pretty much spot on, crunchy, a good snap, but not something that was so brittle it hurt to take a bite. A mish-mash that worked, I reckon these Ginger & Lime biscuits would, messy icing aside, definitely impress Paul & Mary!

 photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 7_zpsz61gxcoz.jpg photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 1_zpso8yocuyp.jpg photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 3_zpsbydqrlw5.jpgIngredients

  • 125g flour, plus a little extra for rolling
  • ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 60g butter
  • 85g soft brown sugar
  • 1 small egg
  • 2tbsp golden syrup
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 6tsp lime juice
  • Lime zest, to decorate

 photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 9_zpstufppxja.jpgSift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a bowl. Add the butter and rub together until the mix looks a little like breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the flour mix and stir until the mixture holds together. Tip the dough out, knead for a short time until smooth, wrap in clingfim and chill in the fridge for 15 or so minutes.

Roll the dough out (0.5cm thickness) on a lightly floured surface. Cut out your chosen shapes (we went square, you could go traditional gingerbread men!) and place on a lined baking tray. Bake for 14-16 minutes at 175C, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.

When cooled make the icing and decorate. Simply beat together the icing sugar and lime juice until smooth, pipe/spoon onto the biscuits and scatted over the zest. Leave to set before boxing up – I didn’t and had a bit of a sticky mess the next day!

 photo Ginger amp Lime Biscuits 6_zpsozctiwdc.jpgI found these Ginger & Lime biscuits were delicious served with a cuppa – I really enjoyed taking one (or two!) to work for my 4pm pick me up. Naughty, but really rather nice…

Have you enjoyed #GBBO2016? Has it inspired you to get baking?

Recipe: Nutella-Stuffed Cookie Dough Cake

Yep. I’ll say it once more. Nutella-Stuffed Cookie Dough Cake. Doesn’t that sound like the stuff of dreams?!

 photo Giant Nutella Cookie_zpsir8no8wr.pngOne of my weaknesses is Nutella. There’s something so comforting about a spoon slowly melting into a bowl of creamy porridge or over a stack of pancakes. But it has to be proper Nutella. Over the past few years I’ve tried to (mainly) stick to cheaper supermarket varieties for budget reasons. I’ve been lucky enough to receive some Jim Jams low refined-sugar hazelnut spread. For me, nothing has come close to actual Nutella. Sure, other brands are nice enough, but they’re never quite right. They melt too thinly, don’t have a balanced a flavour, aren’t creamy enough. The biggest decider for me? Whether I can eat it by the spoon, straight out of the jar. Don’t judge…

 photo Nutella Stuffed Giant Cookie 6_zpsewsz05zy.jpg photo Nutella Stuffed Giant Cookie 8_zpsgvukjpit.jpgI’m not the only one with such a weakness for Nutella; my younger sister loves it too. And because excellent GCSE results deserve baked goods, I created this gooey, oozy, chocolatey treat a few weeks back. A Nutella-Stuffed Cookie Dough Cake. She’s not a fan of cake so I know she was worried when I said I was baking her a well-done treat, but I reckon I got this pretty much spot on. I got told I could make it again, so I must have done something right?!

Slightly reminiscent of Pizza Hut’s Cookie Dough Desert, this is crispy, chewy cookie on the outside. Gooey and molten cookie dough inner. A layer of sticky, warm Nutella to sandwich together. A sprinkling of sea salt to keep it from being too sickly. A handful of chocolate chips, because you can never have enough chocolate. We ate it on its own, but I can imagine it would be perfect with some cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

 photo Nutella Stuffed Giant Cookie 1_zpsmb9ukqcy.jpg photo Nutella Stuffed Giant Cookie 5_zps8r0kcqzs.jpgIngredients

  • 110g salted butter
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 125g plain flour
  • ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g pack chocolate chips – I used milk, but I reckon dark would work better
  • 4 tablespoons of Nutella, warmed slightly so it’s not too solid
  • ½tsp flaked sea salt

Beat the butter in a large bowl until softened, then beat in both of the sugars. Beating the butter singularly first helped to combine the mixture, I also find it reduces the chance of the batter splitting. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again until just combined. Stir through the flour and bicarb (you may want to mix them together first) but don’t overmix. Finally stir through around half of the chocolate chips.

Add half of the cookie dough to a 20cm dish lined with baking paper – make sure the dish is relatively deep as I found mine rose rather more than I expected! Spoon over the nutella (having it melted slightly makes this a lot easier) and spread over the cookie dough base. Scatter with a little sea salt. Top with the remaining dough, scatter over the rest of the chocolate chips and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C, then cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes more. I found this timing gave me the perfect gooey cookie, but cook for longer if you fancy a harder, more fully-baked cookie ‘pizza.’ To reheat the next day, cover with foil and pop in the oven (120C) for around 10-15 minutes. This remelts the nutella, increases the gooeyness and makes it just as good as the first day. Dangerous I know!

 photo Nutella Stuffed Giant Cookie 11_zpsehx6epo1.jpg photo Nutella Stuffed Giant Cookie 9_zpsizj51sdt.jpgAnd though this is pretty much perfect as it is, I’m tempted to try a peanut butter version soon. Or a smores cookie dough cake, complete with melted marshmallows…

Are you a Nutella fan? What’s your favourite way to eat it – in a baked good, on toast or just by the spoonful…?

Recipe: Mum’s Classic English Scones

First off, it’s a scone, pronounced s-cone. As in police cone. Not a s-con.

 photo Mums Classic Scones_zpsffpxbynw.jpgNow that’s cleared up, it’s onto my mum’s scone recipe. Whilst my mum isn’t a massive baker, there are some things she does really, really well. I’ve yet to try a Pear & Raspberry crumble as good as my mums, her Victoria Sponges are far more reliable than mine, and then there’s her scones. The first thing I asked her to make for our engagement party. You’ve had my dad’s recipe for his Malteser Blondies, now it’s mums turn.

And these are well worth waiting for. A good outer crust, soft within and just the right side of crumbly, these are my perfect scone. They virtually split themselves, are light enough to not be overwhelming when piled with clotted cream, just sweet enough to taste good without contrasting the (raspberry) jam. So yep, the perfect scone. Even better served warm enough for the cream to melt into the scone…

 photo Classic Scones 2_zpsvxob2bsy.jpgIngredients

  • 8oz flour (self-raising works best)
  • 2oz butter
  • 1oz sugar
  • 5fl oz full fat ‘blue’ milk

Tip the flour into a large bowl, and stir through a pinch of finely ground table salt. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir through the sugar, then use a knife to stir in the milk – you will end up with a soft dough. Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly – don’t overwork as this makes the scones tough to eat, and they will also fail to rise. Pat or roll out to  2cm thickness. Stamp out rounds (we use a 5cm cutter) and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Repeat to use up all the dough.

Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk. Bake for at 200C 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack and serve with jam and clotted cream.

 photo Classic Scones 1_zpsakujf7l6.jpgThis amount make a good eight scones if you like them on the large size, or perhaps 12 more dainty sized afternoon-tea portions. Apologies for the imperial measurements, that’s just what my mum sticks to – she will even convert recipes from metric to imperial!

Whilst we’re talking about baking, who’s been enjoying good old Bake Off?! #GBBO time of the year is definitely the best time of year, I’ve even marked my work diary as ‘busy’ from 5pm on Wednesdays so I know I’ll be back/cooked/washed up in time for a cuddle up on the sofa with a baked good or two. I’m attempting a bit of a bake-long (though unfortunately I’m not able to blog-along due to time constraints – it has resulted in some epic recipes though!) but baking can be SO expensive. Luckily  voucherbox.co.uk has created the Great British Save Off, a weekly price comparison of GBBO recipes and the best value supermarket to buy ingredients from each week. This makes it so easy to save a few pennies here and there (batter week’s cheapest store was ASDA) – making it possible to do even more baking. Can’t go wrong really…

*Post in collaboration with voucherbox, all opinions are my own, apart from the recipe with is (of course!) my mums!

Are you are fan of scones? Where’s the best scone you’ve ever had – I’m desperate for afternoon tea recommendations in London!