Tag Archive | #recipe

Advent Calendar Day 11: A lighter Christmas Cake

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The countdown is on…. Two weeks until Christmas, three weeks until I land in Goa- what that actual all means is a little time off…. I can’t wait! It’s hard to believe that I only have one day off between now and Christmas. Ugh!

With the little time I have at the moment, I’ve realised just how useful my blog is! I’d completely forgotten about the next recipe until I was going through last years advent posts…. It’s just what I need to bring to Fiesta Friday ! I haven’t been to the virtual party for months, so hopefully this will make up for lost time. This week it’s hosted by Sadhna from herbs, spices and traditional and Natalie from kitchen, uncorked.

This recipe is for a lighter fruit cake, with less eggs, no raising agent and a smaller tin with all the same yummy ginger, spices and loads of fruit.

Ingredients :
zest and juice 1 orange
zest and juice 1 lemon
140g unsalted butter, softened
140g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
175g plain flour
100g raisins
100g dried apricots, roughly chopped
100g cranberries
100g golden sultanas
100g brazil nuts, roughly chopped
50g crystalised ginger
150ml rum
1 tsp mixed spiced
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon

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Soak all the dried fruit in the rum (or tea or apple juice) over night.

The next day add the brazil nuts and ginger.

Grease and double-line the base and sides of a deep, 15cm cake tin. Wrap a double layer of greaseproof or brown paper around the outside of the tin, too, then secure with string (with a pretty bow).

Heat oven to 160C

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy and light. Beat in the eggs gradually. In a small bowl mix the zest and juice of the orange and lemon.

Fold the flour and spices, then dried fruit, nuts and ginger into the creamed mix, followed by the juice and zest mix.

Spoon the mix into the prepared tin and bake for 30 mins, then turn oven down to 150C and bake for another 1 hr 45 mins until risen, golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool for 15 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

The cake will keep well wrapped in a cool place for up to 1 month.

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Melissa xx

Lemony Cupcakes

I’m still in my cupcake phase and I still don’t know where it came from. For years I was very against cupcakes- they’re just jazzed up versions of old fashion fairy cakes! I loved fairy cakes growing up; little cakes with chocolate chips or sultanas in…. With a blob of runny white icing running down the paper case. Delicious! So why make fancy versions, that were inevitably too sweet with way too much icing on top?

Maybe I just decided that life is too short to worry about such complicated matters, cake is still cake after all!

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Lemon Cupcakes
125 g butter, softened
200 g caster sugar
3 eggs
150 ml milk
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla
300 g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the icing
Rind of 2 lemons
1 tbsp lemon juice
175 g butter, softened
600 g icing sugar, sifted
1 bottle of Dr Oetker Violet Crystals

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Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper cases. I actually got 18 out of the mixture.

Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl for a few seconds just until mixed, then gradually add them to the creamed butter mixture, beating all the time.

Beat in the milk and lemon juice, followed by the vanilla, then sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and fold in gently to combine.

Divide the mixture between the muffin cases, filling each case about two-thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until well risen, lightly golden in colour and springy to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

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Finally mix up all the buttercream ingredients and pop into a piping bag, pipe onto cupcakes and finish off with a sprinkle of Dr Oetker’s violet crystals.

By the way, I was a little confused when the guys from Finish emailed to asked if they could send me

1x Finish Salt
1x Finish Powerball Quantam Max
1x Finish Rinse Aid
1x Finish Dishwasher Cleaner

Why? I’m a home baker that blogs about cupcakes, I’m not WHICH? magazine! Then I realised that I do bung all my bowls and utensils straight into the dishwasher once my cakes are in the oven. So I thought I’d give it a bash. Dr Doolittle read the instructions and filled the various dishwasher compartments with the various cleaners.

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I was genuinely shocked at how good the Finish Dishwasher tablets was! We normally buy own brand dishwasher tablets and am used to the dishes coming out washed. I couldn’t believe how sparkling and shiny the pots and pans were AND how clean the inside of the dishwasher was too! Who would have thought?!

Off to bake more and therefore wash more!

Melissa xx

Happy Birthday Me!

I’m another year older and for the first time, I actually feel wiser! I’ve done so much over the last year, started and new job AND started researching for my dream of having my own teashop.  No doubt the next year of my life will be just as busy and exciting. Whatever happens, I can guarantee that there’ll be cake along the way!

So what better way to celebrate than by making my own birthday cake.

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Chocolate Celebration Cake

Ingredients:
200g good-quality plain chocolate, chopped
200g butter
100ml water
125g self-raising flour
125g plain four
25g cocoa powder
200g light muscovado sugar
200g golden caster sugar
3 free-range eggs
75ml/2½fl oz crème fraîche

For the vanilla buttercream icing:
100g unsalted butter, softened
200g icing sugar
vanilla
milk, to loosen

For the topping:
200g dark chocolate
100g butter
40ml tblsp water
1 punnet of strawberries

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Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease and line two 8in sandwich tins.

Melt the chocolate, butter and water together in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, sift the flours and cocoa powder into a bowl and mix in the muscovado and caster sugar.

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Beat the eggs and crème fraîche together in a separate bowl, then beat in the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour mixture until smooth.

Divide the cake batter between the tins and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, for the vanilla buttercream, beat the butter in a bowl until soft, then gradually beat in the icing sugar. Add the vanilla  and add a few drops of milk if the mixture is a little stiff.

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For the ganache I used the recipe on the back of the Dr Oetker Extra Dark Chocolate pack.

Put 200g chopped Dr. Oetker 90% Chocolate into a heatproof bowl with 100g unsalted butter and 40ml water. Put over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until melted. Remove from the water and cool for about 20 minutes to thicken.

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Put a cake on a wire rack over a large plate. Spoon ganache over the top, letting it run down the sides. Tap the wire rack to smooth the surface.

Finally, I covered the top of the cake with a punnet of fresh strawberries.

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I’ve been spoilt rotten with cards, presents and flowers. I’m truly blessed.

Melissa xx

Apple and Blackberry Oaty Muffins

Sometimes I do try to bake a little cleaner, I don’t always use tonnes of sugar and chocolate! These little Apple and Blackberry Oat Muffins are based on an a Rachel Allen recipe in which she uses apples and sugar to make a fresh apple sauce.

400 apple sauce- puréed apples in a jar!
100ml Sunflower Oil
75g Porridge Oats
225g Plain Flour (sifted)
3tsp Baking Powder
36 Blackberries

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Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper cases. Pour the apple puree into a bowl and stir in the oil and oats. Sift in the flour and baking pour and fold gently.

Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and place three or four blackberries on top of each muffin.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and lightly springy to the touch. Cool in the tin for five minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool.

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So they didn’t rise very much and the texture was a bit odd but otherwise they were delicious!

Melissa xx

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

It’s been a whole month since I last wrote or posted anything.

Life has been extremely busy.

The new job is taking up my time- far too much of my time, if I’m honest. Don’t get me wrong, I love it but I seem to have abandoned everything else. That’s not ok. So, sitting at the kitchen table, with a cuppa and a pile of books… I’m back!

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August was bonkers. We had lots of visitors, so in between work I managed to do a bit of baking. I wish I had time to bake more often. I find myself commuting to work dreaming of baking. Life is so hard!!!

One of the quick, easy recipes I used this summer was from the Cooks Academy in Dublin. Their White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake has been a favourite recipe at the school for the last ten years. It’s the perfect dessert for entertaining and thanks to Tim, Vanessa and Darina I pulled it off!

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

Ingredients:
180g ginger nut biscuits
50g butter, melted
400g cream cheese
60g caster sugar
½ lemon, zested, and juiced
300g good quality white chocolate, chopped
300ml fresh cream, stiffly whipped
250g fresh raspberries

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Method:
Crush the biscuits in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, until they resemble breadcrumbs.  Stir the melted butter thoroughly into the biscuits.  Press into the base of a greased 20cm tin and chill in the fridge for 10 mins until the base is slightly hardened. 

Using an electric whisk, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and juice, until smooth.  

Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.  Once melted, slowly pour the chocolate into the beaten ingredients, whisking as you do so.  Fold in the whipped cream. 

To assemble the cheesecake, scatter half the raspberries over the biscuit base and pour half the cream filling over.  Repeat with the remaining raspberries and filling and level the top with the back of a spoon.  Leave to chill in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

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If you fancy doing a short course at the Cooks Academy too, they are offering 20% off on their website until Friday 4th September.

Melissa xx

Tribute to Selma-Ambassador Cupcakes

This is the post from December last year that was inspired by Selma. She inspired and helped me a lot. When I first joined Twitter she gave me LOADS of advice with what to do and how to get notice. She was like a blogging Mummy. I’m going to miss her. I’m posting this, along with lots of others at the special addition of this weeks Fiesta Friday and to Selma’s blog .

Back in October, Selma made ambassador cupcakes using Ferrero Rocher chocolates for her son’s birthday. They looked so luxurious and elegant, that I tucked the idea away for Christmas….

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So fast forward two months and armed with Selma’s idea, two boxes of chocolates, some gold cupcake cases and some shimmer spray, I’m ready! I’m using my trusty chocolate cake mix instead of Selma’s, but I’ll use hers next time.

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Chocolate cupcake Ingredients:
100g butter
150g brown sugar
2 eggs
200g plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
180ml milk
1 box of Forrero Rocher

Topping:
1 can of chocolate icing
1 can gold shimmer spray
Toasted Hazelnuts
1 box of Forrero Rocher

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Line a cupcake tin with foil cases. Preheat the oven to 190°/ gas mark 5 or turn your Rayburn off! Cream the butter and sugar, then add in the eggs. Sift in all the dry ingredients and then add the milk.

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Spoon the mixture into the cases until half full. Pop a chocolate in the middle and spoon a small amount of mixture on top. Pop into the oven for 15 minutes.

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Once cooled, pipe chocolate icing on top of the cake. Then, depending on how high your icing is, place a whole chocolate on top (or a half like I did). Sprinkle with hazelnuts and spray with shimmer!!!!

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I’m bringing these delights to Angie’s for a festive fiesta friday!

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Melissa xx

Easter Simnel Cake

I was off to see my wonderful Grandparents yesterday and instead of bringing them chocolate eggs for Easter, I decided to make them a Simnel cake.

Simnel cake is a light fruit cake with almond paste or marzipan, that is toasted, and eaten during the Easter period. Conventionally eleven, or occasionally twelve, marzipan balls are used to decorate the cake, with a story that the balls represent the twelve apostles, minus Judas.

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All the recipes I found for a traditional Simnel cake seemed very heavy, like a Christmas cake. I didn’t want that. So I decided to adapt a light fruit cake recipe and top it off with marzipan.

PEAR FRUIT CAKE

Ingredients :
200g butter, softened plus extra for greasing
200g dark muscovado sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp black treacle
200g self-raising flour
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp baking powder
2 pears, grated (approx 100g each)
300g mixed sultanas and raisins
Almond paste
Apricot jam

Heat oven to 180C and line the bottom of a deep, round 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper.

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Beat the first seven ingredients together in a large bowl (electric hand- beaters are best for this), until pale and thick. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in the fruit until evenly combined.
Spoon the batter into the tin and bake for 50 mins-1 hr or until the cake is dark golden colour.

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Next, brush the top with apricot jam. Roll out almond paste and use the cake tin as a guide to cut out a circle to fit the cake. Carefully place this on top. Finally, roll 11 balls out of the left over almond paste and place on top.

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Pop the cake under a hot grill to burnish the top- KEEP AN EYE ON THE CAKE AT ALL TIMES!

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Happy Easter to everyone at Fiesta Friday!

Melissa xx

Chocolate Skillery

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Last night I attended a Chocolate Skillery evening hosted by Food and Wine Magazine in Dublin. They were showcasing the fantastic Dr Oetker chocolate products with the help of Irish chef Andrew Rudd. His establishment, Medley, was buzzing with 40 guests eager to learn more about chocolate.

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Creme Anglaise

He cooked up some fabulous chocolate treats using Dr Oetker’s chocolate which has been designed specifically for the home baker. Creamy creme patissiere with Tia Maria and silky creme anglaise both using the excellent 72% chocolate.

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Creme Pat

There are loads of fantastic recipes on the Dr Oetker website including the Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Bark and the Caramel Kiss Chocolate Brownies that I tasted last night. Andrew explained that you can add chilli pepper or sea salt to the caramel in the brownies too. You can also seperate the egg whites from the yolks when mixing into the batter to give the brownies a couple of extra days shelf life!

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Brownies

I was fascinated by the light, crunchie chocolate covered honeycomb that he made and am sharing the recipe here….

Ingredients
For the Honeycomb:
Dr. Oetker Cake Release Spray
150g Granulated Sugar
30ml Dr. Oetker Liquid Glucose
30ml Honey
Dr. Oetker Bicarbonate of Soda Sachets x 2 (2 tsp)
100g Dr. Oetker Fine Cooks’ Milk Chocolate

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Spray a deep 18cm (7inch) square cake tin with Cake Release Spray to grease. Place the sugar in a large saucepan with the Liquid Glucose, honey and 30ml (2 tbsp) of water. Heat and stir gently, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook, without stirring, for about 3 minutes until the mixture turns a deep, golden caramel.

Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the Bicarbonate of Soda thoroughly – the mixture will immediately foam in the saucepan. Quickly pour into the prepared tin whilst still foaming. Leave to cool and set and carefully remove from the tin. Put upside down on a board lined with baking parchment.

Break the chocolate into small pieces and place into a large heatproof bowl. Stand over a bowl of barely simmering water until melted. Remove from the water and cool for 10 minutes.

Pour the chocolate on top of the honeycomb. Tap the board gently so that the chocolate runs down the sides smoothly and evenly. Stand in a cool place to set – only refrigerate if the air temperature is warm and chill for 30 minutes maximum.

When the chocolate has set, cut the honeycomb into chunks using a large bladed knife. Store the honeycomb in an airtight container between layers of greaseproof paper.

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The tasting plate we were served included chocolate and pistachio bark, chocolate curls and a chocolate and caramel brownie, but my favourite by miles was the chocolate covered honeycomb!

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I had a great evening and came away with a lovely Dr Oetker chocolate goodie bag, it’ll be a very happy Easter indeed!

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Melissa xx

Pork and Fennel Burgers

Last week I watched Rory O’Connel’s new tv series ‘How To Cook Well’. He’s the co-founder of Ballymaloe cookery school.  I was mesmerised by his
Grilled Pork Burger with Fennel and Pistachios. They looked really unusal because of the mixture of flavours and textures he was using.

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I had to try them, so the night after the show aired, I did just that. They were amazing! I’d highly recommend making these burgers. I have a feeling they’ll be making an appearance at a barbecue this summer!

Ingredients:

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700g minced streaky or shoulder of pork
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1-2 chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds, roasted and ground
2 tblsp chopped coriander leaves
40g pistachio nuts, shells removed
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

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Method:
Mix all of the above ingredients together. Fry a teaspoon of the mixture to check seasoning. Adjust as necessary.

Form the mixture into burgers, either 4 large or 8 small, and chill until ready to cook.

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Heat a heavy grill pan until quite hot and pop the burgers into it. Allow to become golden brown on one side before turning. Control the heat carefully and cook the burgers, turning occasionally until fully cooked through. This takes about 15 minutes and the burgers will feel firm to the touch.

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I served mine with sweet potato wedges.

Melissa xx

Apple pastries

I wasn’t going to share this recipe because it’s embarrassingly easy, but I’ve been asked to…. I don’t have any photographs of the process so you’ll have to use your imagination!

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I had been given a bag of home grown bramley apples by a dear friend and have had great fun making pies, turnovers and chutnies. These apple turnover pastries can be made and in the oven in minutes.

Ingredients:
1.3kg/3lb Bramley apples, peeled, core removed and quartered
75g/2½oz soft light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 lemon, zest only

For the pastry:
Plain flour, for dusting
500g/1lb 2oz puff pastry
1 egg

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Roughly chop the apples into bite-sized pieces. Put them in a large saucepan with the sugar, cinnamon, ginger and three tablespoons of water. Stir together well, cover with a lid and put on a low heat to cook for about eight minutes. Then give it a stir and cook for another 8-10 minutes, or until the apples are soft but not too mushy.

Remove the apples from the heat. Finely grate the zest from the lemon over to taste, and leave to cool completely.

I used ready roll pastry and manged to get four oblongs out of each sheet; cut down the middle of both sides and arrange them on the lined baking sheet.

Crack the egg into a mug, whisk it lightly and then using a pastry brush, brush around the edge of each pastry rectangle. Then put a couple of chunks of the apple on one half of each rectangle. Then fold the other half of the pastry over the apple and use your fingers to press the edges down to seal. Press in nice and tight to the apple so everything is snug and cosy. I used a fork to crimp the edges.

Brush the pies liberally with the remaining egg and sprinkle with caster sugar and mark a hole in the top of the pastries with a sharp knife. Put them in the oven for about 25 minutes until crisp and golden brown.

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It might be Saturday, but the party will still be in full swing over at Angie’s place for Fiesta Friday!

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Melissa xx