Recipe: Coffee & Walnut Cupcakes

Over summer I had a *massive* craving for coffee ice-cream. It’s a flavour I absolutely love, but avoid making or buying as W doesn’t react well to caffeine – and believe me nor do I when he keeps me up all night after having some! When I finally got round to grabbing some coffee, we had the classic British problem of ‘it went cold’ and so ice-cream went out of the window and these cupcakes were born.

 photo Coffee Walnut Cupcakes_zpstohzuo5f.jpg photo Coffee Walnut Cupcakes 15_zpsde4gi9re.jpgCoffee and Walnut is a classic sandwich cake combination, but I wanted to keep these a little daintier. I find cupcakes are far easier for sharing at the office too! These cupcakes are light, fluffy, full of coffee flavour, topped off with a delicious vanilla buttercream – giving a really creamy finish that reminds me of fancy coffee drinks. They are quite strong on the coffee front, as I used plenty of coffee grounds (Illy is my brand of choice, gifted as part of my Degustabox collaboration) – however keeping the topping coffee-free ensures, for me at least, they aren’t too strong. A perfect coffee hit, but not bitter or overpowering. Perfect as an afternoon snack!

 photo Coffee Walnut Cupcakes 9_zpsmhb8dmtv.jpgRecipe (makes 9 cupcakes)

  • 100g soft butter, at room temperature
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp instant coffee, mixed with 100ml/3½fl oz boiling water, then cooled
  • 25g walnuts, chopped, plus more for topping
  • For the frosting – 200g mascarpone, 2 tbsp golden caster sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract

Line a  bun tin with 9 fairy cake cases. Beat the butter and sugar together, then add the egg in gradually, beating well. Add the flour and fold in, followed by around 4 tsp of the coffee and a pinch of salt until creamy. Stir through the chopped walnuts, then evenly spoon the mix into the cases. Bake for at 180C for around 20 minutes, then allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, pop the mascarpone, vanilla and the sugar into a large bowl, then beat together. Spread a dollop of the frosting onto the top of each cake, then finish with some more walnuts. Enjoy – though don’t do as I did and enjoy as an evening snack at gone 10pm!
 photo Coffee Walnut Cupcakes 7_zps2asjutb4.jpg photo Coffee Walnut Cupcakes 14_zpsr2997ttr.jpg

Are you a fan of cupcakes, or do you prefer a slice of a larger cake? 

Recipe: Cheesy Courgette & Spinach Muffins

Yet another courgette recipe from me! I just can’t get enough of this vegetable, so versatile and great for bulking out dishes and adding a little bit more towards your five-a-day.

 photo Cheesy Courgette Muffins_zpsjhp3wsfg.jpgThese muffins are the perfect rainy day snack. Best served warm (I zap in the microwave at work), they’re delicious split in half and spread with salted butter, or perfect alongside some soup. Having said that they do work quite nicely at room temperature along with a platter of cured meat, more cheese and some salad, so they’d be great for a picnic. I can imagine them being a hit with children too, just maybe grate the courgette finely and chop the spinach really well if they’re particularly veg-phobic!

 photo Cheesy Courgette Muffins 5_zpsdeuqun4z.jpg photo Cheesy Courgette Muffins 17_zpswy7jwulf.jpgUnfortunately this recipe doesn’t use a *huge* amount of courgette so it won’t be that great if you’ve got a glut of it in your garden, but it does use around 1 small one and the muffins freeze well for a couple of months which helps!

 photo Cheesy Courgette Muffins 21_zps0hog0daz.jpg photo Cheesy Courgette Muffins 27_zpssqnywgbp.jpg photo Cheesy Courgette Muffins 19_zps2kp3vbat.jpgRecipe – makes 12 muffins

  • 125g courgette
  • 50g feta cheese
  • 75g cheddar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 75g baby spinach
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp dried herbs, I used a mix of basil and oregano
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, for sprinkling

Coarsely grate the courgette into a large mixing bowl. Crumble the feta into the bowl and sprinkle over 75g grated cheddar. Roughly chop the spinach, and add along with the flour, baking powder, salt, herbs and plenty of black pepper. Beat the milk and eggs together then stir into the bowl; lightly mix until everything is just combined. Spoon into the muffin cases (around 2 tbsp in each) and sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds and extra cheese.

Bake for around 30 minutes at 180C until firm, golden and a skewer comes out cleanly. Allow to cool for 10 minutes;  then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

 photo Cheesy Courgette Muffins 20_zpsna12sqkc.jpg photo Cheesy Courgette Muffins 18_zpsdo0qnr9e.jpgI reckon you could easily switch these up. Add some extra hints of summer with some dried-tomatoes, add some finely chopped crispy bacon. I also think you could use this recipe to make a riff on cornbread – add some spices, stir through some corn and bake as normal. Yum!

Are you a fan of savoury muffins?

Recipe: Courgette & Orange Loaf Cake

I promised a recipe for this Courgette & Orange Loaf Cake a few weeks ago (when I spoke about my favourite ways to use up a courgette glut) – and here it is. In fact this is probably perfectly timed, as courgettes are still coming through, but I have noticed them starting to be a little more bitter, more ‘woolly’ and not their best. This recipe will certainly transform below-par courgettes into something delicious.

 photo Courgette Orange Loaf Cake_zps789aalfg.jpgPacked with citrus flavours (I added lemon zest as well as orange for a real zingy hit) you’d never guess this is filled with a vegetable. I mean, it’s still not a healthy cake by any means, but it is slightly less guilt-inducing! The courgette doesn’t really impact much flavour, but what it does bring to the party is an amazing texture. The loaf cake is moist and tender, but still has a good ‘cake’ feel. It’s not mushy by any means! And it also seems to taste really well, in fact it was almost even beter after a day in the fridge (I wouldn’t usually keep cakes in the fridge, but cream cheese frosting and the UK heatwave wasn’t a combination I wanted to try out!).

 photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 5_zpsn5m9gfsz.jpg photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 18_zps8bqddjvz.jpg photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 15_zpsuhv0k6uw.jpgRecipe (makes a large 900g loaf tin- though I made mine in mini-loaf tins for ease of portioning out to various offices – based on a BBC Good Food recipe)

  • 350g courgettes
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 125ml sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs
  • grated zest 2 oranges
  • grated zest 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp orange extract (we used Dr Oetker*)
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Frosting – I wasn’t too impressed with my attempt at the frosting and so won’t give the recipe, but next time I’d try this recipe

Lightly oil and line a 900g loaf tin. Finely grate the courgettes (no need to peel unless the skin is particular though), then squeeze out as much liquid as you can with your hands. I also let the grated courgettes sit in a sieve, weighted with a bowl filled with baking beans, whilst I weighed everything else out.

Stir the courgettes with the sugar, oil, eggs, zest, and orange extract, then fold in the flour and baking powder. Like with banana bread it’s really important not to overmix or the texture will be doughy and not particularly cake-like. I found the mix was particularly dry and stiff, but don’t worry as the courgettes release a lot of water as the cake cooks.

Scrape the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 minutes at 180C, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean (mine needed an extra ten minutes). Remove from the tin after a few minutes, and the cool on a wire rack. Make sure the cake is completely cool before icing with your chosen frosting.

 photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 12_zpshmh8ruae.jpg photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 3_zpscup8eypb.jpgThis Courgette & Orange Loaf went down a storm when I took it into the office – it’s actually been my most popular bake and disappeared before lunch. I was very glad I’d left a slice at home for me to enjoy later or I wouldn’t have got a look in…

Are you a fan of vegetable cakes? Would you choose to bake with courgette?

Cooking From: Blackberry & Custard Biscuits (Sweet by Ottolenghi)

Confession time! The actual recipe in Sweet (by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh) is for Rhubarb & Custard Biscuits and, whilst I’m sure they are utterly delicious, it just isn’t the season for rhubarb. I’ll be making them for sure next spring, but for now we’re using the very much in season (and very foragable, unless you live in London!) blackberry. We actually bought blacberries in our weekly shop, expecting the first weekend of September to be cool enough for a crumble – wrong. The heatwave made a brief (albeit slightly cooler) reappearance and so biscuits it was.

 photo Blackberry Custard Biscuits_zpsox78ji5s.jpgAnd what delicious biscuits they are. Sweet custardy biscuits, made with Bird’s custard powder so that they taste of my childhood. Tart homemade blackberry jam, beaten into buttercream and used to sandwich the biscuits. It all combines beaitfully, with the vanilla-sweetness tempering down the sharpness of the berries. It tastes like a bowl of crumble and custard, but it’s far easier to eat. Almost too easy, as the batch disappeared rather quickly…

And the other recipes in this cookbook are just as good, though I confess we’ve used it very sparingly over the year. It aims to “bring the Ottolenghi hallmarks of fresh, evocative ingredients, exotic spices and complex flavourings – including fig, rose petal, saffron, aniseed, orange blossom, pistachio and cardamom – to indulgent cakes, biscuits, tarts, puddings, cheesecakes and ice cream.” It certainly delivers, and in part that’s why we’ve not used this book as much as I’d like. Quite a few recipes seem to request more unusual ingredients, or use a more time consuming method, and quite often we bake as a random, spur-of-the-moment decision. Having tried this recipe, however, I know I need to make more of an effort to thumb through and use it more.

There are around 100 recipes, and a lot of them are very original – you’re not going to find basic brownies. Instead there’s brownies laced with tahini and halva – and as soon as I can find some halva I’ll be making them. There might not be your usual choc-chip cookies, but there are “Chocolate O Cookies” which are said to be the ultimate homemade Oreo. There’s a coffee and cardamon pound cake which sounds delicious. There’s several cheesecake recipes, many desserts we’d prepare for a dinner party (I’ve genuinely already started planning a feast for our next New Year’s Eve dinner – despite not having any guests yet!). Whilst we’ve not really used this, I can imagine it will be a book that will become well-thumbed over the years. Now I just need to get hold of some of Ottolenghi’s savoury cookbooks…

 photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 15_zpssfwr42xd.jpg photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 12_zpsqspu1gi6.jpg photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 18_zpsonjwyria.jpgRecipe (makes around 15)

  • 175g flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 65g custard powder
  • 65g icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 170g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the icing: 1 small stick of rhubarb (or 2 handfuls of blackberries – roughly 70g of fruit), 65g unsalted butter, 130g icing sugar, and 1/2 tsp lemon juice

If you making the rhubarb icing: spread pieces of rhubarb on tray and roast at 180C for 30 minutes, or until soft. Remove from oven and cool, then puree in food processor before adding butter. Add icing sugar and lemon juice and continue to process for a few minutes until it thickens. Transfer to a small bowl and let sit in the fridge to firm up. To make our blackberry filling, we popped the blackberries in a small pan with a tiny splash of water and simmered until soft, pureed, passed through a sieve to remove the pips, and then added butter and continued as per the recipe.

For the cookies, cream the butter with the flour, custard powder, icing sugar and salt on low speed til the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Increase speed to medium and beat for about 30 seconds until a dough forms. Roll dough into balls about 3cm round – they should weigh about 15g. Place on lined trays about 4cm apart. Dip the back prongs of a small fork in the extra flour and then press firmly but gently into the back of each ball so that the cookie flattens. Bake at 170C on lined baking trays for about 25 minutes, let cool on trays for about 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble, spread 15g of icing on the flat side of a cookie and sandwich with the flat side of another. The forked sides should be facing out. Store in an airtight container if you manage not to eat them immediately.

 photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 8_zpsajnh5wwy.jpg photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 20_zps78yop1qu.jpgThese we found were the perfect afternoon snack for a weekend. Lovely with a cup of tea (I’m favouring Yorkshire’s Biscuit Brew at the moment), they were light, sweet and had a really comforting taste coming from the custard powder. The biscuits really melted in the mouth too! I’m looking forward to next year’s rhubarb season when I can try the full recipe…

Have you tried any of Ottolenghi’s books? Which do you recommend? 

Recipe: White Chocolate & Pretzel Cookies

These were dreamed up early on a Saturday morning. W was snoozing in bed, I was flicking through recipe books. I wanted to back, but I didn’t know what I wanted to bake. It had to be portable, as it was being dragged halfway across London to a BBQ. It needed to be quick and fairly easy, as I’m impatient. It needed to involve minimum baking time, as it’s far too hot in the UK right now to have your oven on for hours on end.

 photo White Choc amp Pretzel Cookies_zpsbyvwl3aj.jpg photo White Chocolate and Pretzel Cookies 25_zpsut9uyxfd.jpgCookies seemed like the obvious choice. But we *always* make cookies. And sure our cookies are delicious, but I wanted something new. Something different. Something a little unusual.

And so White Chocolate & Pretzel Cookies were born. A combination of creamy sweet white chocolate with a crunchy and salty hit from the pretzels, they skyrocketed straight into my top-cookie-spot. The sweet and salty flavours together go so well in the chewy cookie base, with the pretzels adding an amazing texture. I clearly wasn’t the only person who was a massive fan, as the 28 we took to the BBQ disappeared far too quickly, leaving only two left for us to enjoy the next day. Whoops. Basically, make a big batch.

 photo White Chocolate and Pretzel Cookies 21_zpsskyfiraa.jpg photo White Chocolate and Pretzel Cookies 23_zpswcscdcpf.jpgRecipe, makes roughly 30 large cookies (we used the same base recipe as we do for all of our cookies, it just works so well!)

  • 250g butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 250g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 415g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp hot water (plus a little more if needed)
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 250g white chocolate – chopped into big chunks
  • 150g pretzels – roughly crushed, plus some whole ones for the top

Beat the butter slightly until soft, them cream together with the two types of sugar. Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and gradually beat into the butter/sugar mix. Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the warm water, before adding to the mix along with the salt. Stir in the flour, followed by the chocolate and pretzels. Drop large spoonfuls (we used tablespoons) of the mix onto lined baking trays and roughly roll into a ball. Top each with a pretzel, pressing down lightly (don’t flatten). These cookies spread quite a lot, so avoid putting more than 5 or so on a tray.

Bake for around for 10 minutes at 180C, and allow to cool a little before transferring to a white rack to cool as much as you can bear before eating. I find these are perfect served with a glass of ice cold milk – cliched as it may be, but I do love milk and cookies!
 photo White Chocolate and Pretzel Cookies 14_zps3tttriaa.jpg

Are you a fan of sweet and salted foods?

 

Recipe: Lemon & Olive Oil Cake

Despite being a self-confession chocoholic, my go-to flavouring for a cake is lemon. There’s something about a zingy sponge, perhaps filled with a vibrant curd or topped with a crunchy drizzle glaze, that just makes my heart sing and tastebuds dance.

I usually make a lemon drizzle cake (recipe will be coming soon), but this is something a little different. This cake is smarter, it’s perfect for a dinner party dessert served with zest creme fraiche and raspberries, but it’s also delicious with a cup of tea. As it’s not too sweet, I confess I’ve also enjoyed it for a lazy weekend breakfast with some yoghurt! It’s a super moist cake with a tender crumb, a whack of lemony zing and subtle grassy flavours of olive oil.

Speaking of the olive oil, I used Terre Di San Vito*. I’ve been using this olive oil for the past month or two, and I have to say it’s good. It’s grassy and well-flavoured, without being overly harsh at the back of your throat. It makes wonderful salad dressings, and I’ve enjoyed far too much of it served simply with bread and some balsamic vinegar. Yum!

Back to the cake. It’s super simple to make, though does require some careful folding and a decent hand whisk or stand mixer. But really it’s hardly any effort at all, especially as I’ve simplified the method compared to many similar recipes I’d found – this gal ain’t got time for separating eggs and whisking whites and yolks individually!

Recipe (Makes 8 generous slices, 10 more dainty ones)

  • 5 medium eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (roughly one lemon)
  • 125g plain flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 50g icing sugar, for dusting

Using stand mixer (you could do it by hand, but you’ll be exhausted afterwards), beat the eggs and sugar on high until the mixture is fluffy and has doubled in volume (it took just over 6 minutes in my KitchenAid). While the eggs and sugar are mixing, in a separate bowl measure the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest and whisk together.

Using a spatula, fold in the olive oil and lemon juice into the egg mixture, followed by the flour mixture. Fold until the flour disappears, but be careful not to overmix.

Pour the batter into a greased and lined 9 inch cake tin, and bake for 40-45 minutes at 175C until the top is a light golden brown and a skewed poked in comes out clean. Sift over some icing sugar before serving, to decorate.

Told you it was an easy cake recipe! I find this one is best eaten the day after baking, as it gets slightly more moister and almost sticky as it sits. I think it would be the perfect cake to take along to a summery BBQ…

*I received two bottles of Terre Di San Vito olive oil to promote on my Instagram page. No blog post was required, and all opinions are (as ever!) my own. No money exchanged hands in this collaboration. 

Have you ever tried baking with olive oil?

Cooking From: Homemade Pita Bread (James Morton’s Brilliant Bread)

Without a doubt, Brilliant Bread is my most recommended cookbook. It’s the one on my shelves that is well-thumbed, pages stiff with flour, faded with watermarks. If anyone, absolutely anyone, mentions baking their own bread to me I insist they purchase this book. It is quite simply the best book for bread making, both for beginners and beyond.

I could stop with the review and this post there, really, because I quite simply cannot sing James’ praises highly enough.

The writing style is a pleasure to read, it’s a book I can quite happily sit and cosy up with as much as bake from. He has such an excellent way of describing the bread-making process, in a way that’s both easy to understand but also extremely detailed. And the best bit? The majority of the recipes don’t require much, if any, kneading. Bread without having to get my hands dirty is a revelation, and this book alone is the reason I make my own bread so often.

Recipe (I get 10 pittas out of this, as I prefer mine slightly smaller, I quite often quarter or halve too for a small batch)

  • 200g strong white flour
  • 200g plain white flour
  • 8g salt
  • 8g yeast
  • 275g tepid water
  • flavourless oil for greasing

In a large bowl, weigh out the flour. With your fingers, rub in the salt at one edge of the bowl, and the sachet of dried yeast on the opposite side. Add the  water to the dry ingredients, and mix together until it forms a  dough (use your
dough to mop up any flour sticking to the side of the bowl). Cover your bowl with a damp tea towel
and rest in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

Oil the fingertips of one hand, and forcefully fold the dough in half inside the bowl. Turn the bowl a
quarter turn, and repeat until you have removed most of the air. Cover your bowl again rest the dough for another 45 minutes, whilst your oven preheats to it’s hottest temperature (around 250C).

Tip your dough out on to a lightly oiled surface and roll into a long sausage. Chop the dough into equal pieces (Jame’s suggests 8, I go for 10). Take each piece and, using a rolling pin, roll them out until they are about half a centimetre thick. Pop straight onto a baking tray and slide into the oven, turning down the temperature to 220C as soon as they are in. Bake for 8-12 minutes depending depending on how soft or crisp you like them. They should puff up into balls and are blush with a golden colour. But even if they don’t puff up, they’ll be delicious…

Other recipes inspired by Brilliant Bread are my Bagels (which I’m now desperately craving – there’s nothing better than a homemade bagel filled with pastrami and mustard!) and Focaccia.  And in short – I highly recommend that if you want to bake bread, you buy this book. You won’t regret it!

Are you a fan of baking your own bread?

Recipe: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Just before Christmas I wanted a quick and easy cookie recipe. Something that looked special, tasted amazing and was reasonably “wintery” or festive looking. Something that meant mince pie haters (ahem, me) wouldn’t feel left out at a mulled wine and mince pie gathering. I found a recipe for Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, tweaked it a bit and came up with these beauties.

Chocolatey without being too rich, soft and chewy, and so pretty to look at. They were perfect, easy to make (if not overly quick due to needing a spell in the fridge), and went down so, so well. They also kept for a good few days in an airtight container – I originally made around 80 and not unsurprisingly we couldn’t quite eat them all straight away! As an added bonus the rolled dough, without the icing sugar dusting, froze well too. I’d recommend defrosting slightly before coating and baking.

Recipe – for around 25 cookies, easy to divide and multiply

  • 2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1⁄4 cup cocoa, unsweetened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar, for rolling

In a bowl, stir together sugar and oil before blending in the cocoa powder – I find it best to do this gradually as it can go a little lumpy. Beat in egg (again, I do this gradually) followed by the vanilla and salt. Sift over the flour and baking powder, then folder the mix together. Note that the mix will be a lot more fudge-like that normal cookie dough! Pop the dough into the fridge for at least two hours.

Use teaspoons to scoop out portions of the mix, then roll into balls (they should be around 1 inch in diameter). Roll each ball in the icing sugar until fully coated, then place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. As these cookies spread, I’d avoid putting them too close together! Bake the cookies in batches at 175 for around 11-13 minutes – they will look gooey in between the cracks, but should firm up when cooled. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the trays, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy at any time of the day – we made have had these as a cheeky breakfast on my sister’s birthday!

What’s your current favourite cookie recipe?

Recipe: Rose, White Chocolate & Pistachio Layer Cake

Welcome to the first recipe of 2018! I had (utterly stupid!) anxiety about deciding which recipe should kick off 2018 here on the blog, but in the end I decided to go with cake for several reasons. One, cake. Need I say more. Two, this was one of the last bakes I made in 2017, it was delicious as my birthday cake and something a little bit different. And three – I get married this year. It’s the year I get to eat the most important cake of my life. And so here is a rather yummy cake recipe for you all.

I don’t usually make my own birthday cake – leaving it to W (he once made a frankly terrifying Caterpillar cake) or my dad (who’s created some pretty awesome ones over the years – the highlight being a four-layer ombre chocolate-caramel one for my 21st). This year, however, with the day off before and W busy at university, I decided to give it a go. I used Lucy’s book, as the bakes tend to only need one bowl and anything which results in less washing up is already a winner in my eye. Me being me, I tinkered with the recipe slightly. I made a smaller cake, used a sandwich tin, reduced the poppy seeds, upped the white chocolate and added pistachios.

The rose is definitely the strongest flavour in this cake, but it isn’t at all overpowering. The poppy seeds add a good texture, the white chocolate adds creaminess and the pistachios mellow the slight soapiness of the rose. It worked perfectly as a birthday cake (complete with candles!) but I imagine it would be wonderful for an office cake sale, or as a gift for a friend. I’m also thinking cupcake versions would be delightful!

Recipe (makes a 21cm cake, serving 8 generous slices)

  • 3 eggs
  • Self raising flour
  • Butter – some for the cake (approx 90g) and 200g for the icing
  • Margarine
  • Caster sugar
  • 25g poppy seeds
  • Rose water
  • 100g white chocolat
  • 300g icing sugar
  • Pink food colouring
  • Pistachios

Grease and line two 21cm sandwich tins. Weigh the eggs in their shells (as a heads up, it’s probably around 180g), then weigh out that amount of both self-raising flour and caster sugar. You also want to weight out half that amount of both margarine and butter.

Beat the butter and margarine together until it’s soft (this job is a lot easier if they’re at room temperature), then add the sugar and cream together until the mix is fluffy and no longer gritty. Sift in the flour, add a pinch of salt and gently fold together. Fold in the poppy seeds and 15g of rosewater, then pour into the prepared tins. Smooth the tops and bake at 180C for around 20 minutes.

All the cakes to cool fully on a wire rack before making the icing. Melt the white chocolate slowly, stirring occasionally, then allow to cool for 15 minutes. You want it to be completely cooled to room temperature, without it setting. Beat the butter until soft and smooth, then add the cooled white chocolate and beat to combine. Add the icing sugar and beat together until creamy and light – I tend to do this in thirds to stop *too* much icing sugar flying everywhere. Beat in 15g of rosewater and a few drops of food colouring, before using to sandwich your cakes together and ice the top.

Roughly chop some pistachio nuts and arrange on top – you could also top with white chocolate curls, rose petals or even freeze-dried raspberries.

And that’s it – I’ve also followed the same ratios (equal weight flour/sugar/butter/eggs) for a standard Victoria sponge with success, so I’ll be forever thankful to Lucy for this method! Though I’m now obsessed with rosewater; it can be a pricey ingredient, but have a look in the World Food aisle of your local supermarket. I found a large bottle in Sainsburys for £1, whilst in the exact same store there was a much smaller bottle (in the baking aisle) for £4…

What’s your go-to cake recipe?

Recipe: Red Onion & Goat’s Cheese Quiche

Quiche was always something that intimidated me. It just seemed so complicated – baking pastry, prepping a filling, making a basic egg custard mix. A lot of work and, in all honest, I’d never enjoyed the shop-bought ones I’d tried so why bother?

Well, it would seem I’ve been missing out all this time!

When we decided a bit foolishly to cater most of our engagement party way back in Summer’16 we made two quiches (on the morning of the party). One was a Quiche Lorraine which was absolutely delicious and something I really need to make again ASAP. The other was this one. This is what started my love affair with goat’s cheese off, and what a way to begin an infatuation.

Crisp, buttery pastry (I’ll be posting a recipe soon, but you’ll be pleased to know it works just as well with ready-made, ready-rolled stuff – because sometimes life is just too short). Sweet red onions, caramelised with just a little bit of a bite. Punchy goat’s cheese. Soft and juuussssstttttt set egg filling, lightly infused with thyme and almost spicy with black pepper. Yep, it’s as delicious as it sounds.

And bonus. I discovered you don’t need to faff around making any type of custard for quiches. Game changer.

Recipe (makes 6 servings generous to eat alone with a side salad, more if serving with new potatoes or as part of a buffet – based on a Donal Skehan recipe)

  • 25g butter
  • 3 large red onions, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 300ml double cream
  • 150g soft curd goat’s cheese
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only

If you’re making your own pastry (this recipe is a good basic one) then do this first, then place in the fridge. Roll out (or use shop-bought!) and use to line a 23cm tart tin – place back in the fridge whilst you wait for the over to reach 190C. Pop a baking tin (large enough to fit the tart tin) in the oven whilst it warms. Once up to temperature, line the pastry with greasproof, fill with baking beans, pop onto the hot tray and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and greaseproof (they will be insanely hot), turn the oven down to 180C and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

To make the filling, heat the butter and a pinch of salt in your largest frying pan, add the red onions and the dried thyme and fry over a low-medium heat for 10-15 minutes until soft and caramelised. Season with plenty of black pepper, then allow to cool.

Whisk the eggs and cream together until just combined. Stir through around 25g of the goat’s cheese. Arrange the onions on the base of the pastry case, scatter over spoonfuls of the goats cheese (try and disperse this evenly, or you’ll be fighting over the cheesiest slice!) and season a little more. Gently pour the egg and cream mixture into the pastry case, sprinkle with the fresh thyme and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the filling is set. I sometimes like to be extra naughty and sprinkle a little grated parmesan over the top for the final five minutes, just to add an extra golden colour.

Allow to cool, then serve warm (not hot!) or cold. It’s wonderful on it’s own with a simple salad of leaves and raw beetroot, alongside new potatoes or simply as part of a picnic or buffet. Oh, it sits nicely in the fridge for 2-3 days so is perfect for a meat-free Monday dinner and a couple of lunches.

An indulgent recipe for sure, but what’s life without a bit of tasty, cheese goodness?!

Have you ever made your own quiche?