Blood orange and strawberry smoothie

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I’ve been feeling very drained and tired lately, so in an attempt to increase my vitamin intake I bought myself a NutriNinja (thanks to my brothers and sister for giving me Lakeland vouchers for Christmas!) and I’ve been experimenting with all different kinds of smoothies and juices.

So I thought I’d share some of the more successful smoothie experiments with you in a series of mini posts ☺

Starting with….

Blood orange and strawberry smoothie

Makes one large glass for one

Juice of 2-3 blood oranges
5 large strawberries
1 banana
200ml Greek yoghurt
A little milk to thin the smoothie, if too thick

Simply blend all the ingredients together. Add a little milk if it’s too thick.

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Horlicks limited edition bundle giveaway

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Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief – we made it though January! But we all know February can also be cold and grey, which makes us want to shut out the outside world, curl up on the sofa with a blanket, a good movie or book and a warming milky drink.  So with that in mind I’ve teamed up with Horlicks to give one lucky reader some fantastic limited edition Horlicks memorabilia.

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The prize includes a Horlicks mug, storage tin, coaster and a tub of light malt chocolate Horlicks.

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Horlicks is great for those looking for an alternative afternoon cuppa to help boost energy levels! A mug of Horlicks Traditional is packed with 14 key nutrients including Vitamin B6 which contributes to the normal functioning of both the nervous and immune system and can reduce tiredness and fatigue. It is also low fat and a source of protein.


To enter the competition, all you need to do is click on the Rafflecopter link below and complete the entry options. The more options you do, the more chance you have of winning. Good luck! UK entrants only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Easiest ever Nutella cookies

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Easiest ever Nutella cookies

These Nutella cookies are so simple and easy to make and I can guarantee they won’t be around for long, especially if my boys have anything to do with it!

Makes 12-15 cookies

125g Nutella 125g condensed milk 75g plain flour 75g plain chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a baking sheet.

Place the Nutella and condensed milk in a medium bowl. Add the flour and chocolate chips and mix together with a wooden spoon. It will come together, although it might not seem like it at first! Alternatively, place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you have a shiny dough. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place on the lined baking sheet, placing them at least 2cm apart. Slightly flatten each one with the palm of your hand and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies have spread and look set around the edges. Leave to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Gingerbread loaf with orange cream cheese icing/lemon icing

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I really do love a nice, simple ginger loaf and this is a really good one! Like most gingerbread, this is best made in advance – keep it wrapped up for 2-3 days and you’ll be rewarded with a beautifully sticky, moist cake. The orange cream cheese icing/lemon icing is optional but lovely.

ginger loaf with orange cream cheese icing/lemon icing

250g self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
120g butter
110g treacle
110g golden syrup
110g dark muscavado sugar
250ml milk
1 egg, beaten
50g Crystallised or stem ginger, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.Grease and line a 900g loaf tin.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and lemon zest together in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the lemon zest, sugar and chopped crystallised ginger.

In a small pan over a low heat, melt the treacle, syrup and milk. Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature before stirring in the egg. Pour into the flour mixture, whisking thoroughly until no lumps remain and you have a smooth batter. Pour this batter into the lined tin and bake for 60-75 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the gingerbread cool completely in the tin.

ORANGE CREAM CHEESE ICING

125g full fat cream cheese
275g icing sugar, sifted
Finely grated zest of one small orange
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

OR

Lemon icing:
100g icing sugar
Juice of half or one lemon
Chopped crystallised ginger to decorate, optional

Sift the icing sugar into a medium sized bowl. Add enough lemon juice to make a thick but pourable icing. Pour over the cold cake and top with the remaining crystallised ginger, if using.

Raspberry jam filled sandwich cookies

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I absolutely love the look of these jam filled cut out cookies – you can go with any cutters that take your fancy  but I think the stars are perfect for this time of year. A thick dusting of icing sugar makes them look so festive 🎄

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Raspberry jam filled sandwich cookies

100g soft butter
100g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
225g plain flour, plus extra for sprinkling
½ tsp baking powder
Raspberry or strawberry jam for the filling

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4

Cream the butter and sugar together until combined, then beat in the egg, vanilla extract, flour and baking powder and continue mixing until it all comes together to form a soft dough.

Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes (it won’t hurt at all to leave it for up to a day.)

When you’re ready to bake the cookies, sprinkle your work surface with flour, place the dough on it and sprinkle a little more flour on top. Roll out to a thickness of about 5mm.

Cut into shapes of your choice – I  used a 7cm round cutter and a 3cm star for the cut outs. Don’t do what I did the first time I made these – I got carried away and cut stars out on all of my cookies, forgetting I needed half of them whole!! Oops!  Place the shapes on a lined baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes or until quite firm and lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then carefully remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cookies have completely cooled, spread a little jam over each one of the whole cookies, then place the cookie with the star cut-out on top. Liberally dust with icing sugar.

Terrys chocolate orange cheesecake

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December 1st!! The countdown to the big day has officially begun and I’m celebrating with a very easy and delicious no bake chocolate orange cheesecake.

I converted two supposed cheesecake haters with this one. I really hope you love it too!

Terry’s chocolate orange cheesecake

150g butter
280g chocolate orange digestives, crushed to fine crumbs
450g full fat philadelphia cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g icing sugar
Finely grated zest of one large orange
200ml double cream
1 (or 2 if you want lots of chocolate orangey goodness OR for extra pieces to snack on while you’re slaving away making this….just saying ;))Terrys chocolate orange (keep about 10 neat looking pieces for decorating the top, roughly chop the rest for the filling)

Melt the butter in a saucepan and tip in the crushed biscuits. Stir until the biscuits are completely coated in butter and resemble damp sand. Tip into a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin and press down evenly. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling, whip together the cream cheese, vanilla, icing sugar and orange zest. In a separate bowl, lightly whip the double cream to very soft peaks. Fold the cream into the cream cheese mixture. Finally, fold in chopped chocolate orange. Pour the cheesecake filling over the biscuit base. Pop back in the fridge to set for at least five hours or preferably overnight. The last time I made this I only lasted 3 hours before cutting…needless to say it wasn’t set properly! It was still delicious but a little runny. When the cheesecake is set and you are ready to serve it, decorate with the reserved chocolate orange segments/melted chocolate. If you didn’t eat them while waiting for the cheesecake to set. I didn’t do that myself by the way. Nope. Not at all………

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Gingerbread latte cake

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I am a huge fan of gingerbread. Especially gingerbread lattes. I just can’t help it, I find them irresistible. I frequent Starbucks more often in December than I do any other time of the year – I’ve got to have my gingerbread lattes! But my obsession doesn’t end with visiting coffee shops – I buy the syrup and make it at home (which is much kinder on the purse!)

It was only a matter of time before I turned my favourite festive drink into a cake. This three layer cake is full of warming winter spices and just a hint of coffee. The caramel biscuit icing is from this months Christmas BBC Good Food magazine. The only thing I changed was substitute some of the cream cheese for mascarpone because I had some that needed using up.

Gingerbread latte cake
Inspired and apapted from “Gingerbread cake with caramel biscuit icing” from BBC Good Food Magazine

225g soft butter
375g light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tbsp treacle
375g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
300ml tub sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 heaped tsp coffee granules, dissolved in 50ml boiling water (leave to cool a little before using)

Grease and base line three 20cm loose-bottomed cake tins. If your tins are shallower than 4cm, line the sides with a baking paper collar.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C/Gas 4. Using an electric mixer/whisk, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the treacle.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices. Stir the sour cream, vanilla and cooled coffee together in a jug. Fold the spiced flour and sour cream coffee mixture into the creamed mixture, alternating until all the ingredients are incorporated and you have a smooth batter. Divide the batter between the tins and bake for 25-30 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes come out clean. Cool the cakes in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Once the cakes are completely cool (and if you don’t need to ice them straightaway) wrap in cling film and store for up to 4 days, or they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

The recipe for the caramel biscuit icing can be found right here – I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s not cheap to make, but for a treat it’s definitely worth it!

Pistachio, cranberry and white chocolate biscotti

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I can’t believe it’s only one month until Christmas.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so unorganised. I have bought and tucked away a few small gifts but that’s about it. At least I have plenty of wrapping paper – my local supermarket were selling it off for 2p a roll back in January! I can never resist a bargain.

I’m telling myself it will somehow all fall into place the way it always does…

In the meantime, I’m officially declaring it the run up to the festive season over here. Foodie wise, at least. I can’t help but get completely caught up it in all – bring on the gingerbread lattes, clementines, those beautiful boxes of jewel like shiny fruit and nuts, panettone, marzipan filled stollen, and gingerbread reindeers.

This cranberry studded, orange scented biscotti would make a gorgeous gift, wrapped up in Christmassy cellophane. The lucky recipients favourite coffee or hot chocolate to enjoy with the biscotti would be perfect.

Let the festive baking begin!

Pistachio, cranberry and white chocolate biscotti

Makes about 25 little biscotti

250g plain flour
150g caster sugar
Zest of two clementines or one large orange
100g dried cranberries
75g pistachio nuts
100g white chocolate chunks or chips
2 medium eggs
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp orange blossom water (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4.

Place the flour, sugar, orange zest, cranberries, pistachios and white chocolate chunks in a large bowl. Beat the egg, milk and orange blossom water (if using) together and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix together until you have a soft dough (I use my stand mixer but I’ve done this with my hands.) When the dough has come together, cut it in half.

Line two baking trays with parchment. Place it on your work surface and tip one half of the dough out on top of the paper. Pat it out into a log shape, about 25cm long. Flatten to about 3cm thick.
Repeat with the other half of the dough. Bake the logs for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cutter board. Turn down the oven to 150C. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut into 2-3cm slices. Return to the baking tray, cut side up and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Butternut squash & Thyme macaroni cheese

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I think it’s safe to say that Winter has definitely arrived. Time to dig out those scarves, hats and gloves. Gingerbread lattes are in Starbucks. The Christmas tv adverts have started and the shops are full of Christmas goodies. Why does it always come around so fast?

For me, this time of year is all about comfort food. Pies, hearty soups and stews. Meals don’t come much more comforting than this butternut squash macaroni cheese.

Butternut squash & thyme macaroni cheese
Serves 4

One butternut squash, peeled and cut into small chunks
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked from the stalks
450g Macaroni
20g butter
One onion, peeled and sliced
50g plain flour
60g butter
1 1/2 litres milk
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly grated nutmeg
250g cheddar cheese, grated
50g parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the butternut squash cubes in a roasting tin, drizzle with a little olive oil and throw over most of the thyme leaves.
Roast for 20 minutes or until the squash is soft.

While the squash is roasting, cook the macaroni in a large pan of boiling water. When the pasta is just cooked, drain and set aside.

For the onion, melt the 20g butter in a small saucepan over a low to medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook gently until soft and tranceulent.

For the sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the flour, stirring to make a roux. Take the pan off the heat and slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. When the mixture is smooth, place back on the heat and stir constantly until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the mustard, nutmeg, 1/2 tsp salt, 200g of the cheddar cheese and parmesan. Stir until the sauce is smooth.

Return the drained pasta to the saucepan and add the roasted butternut squash, onion and cheese sauce. Stir gently and transfer to a large casserole or gratin dish. Sprinkle with a final grating of parmesan and the 25g remaining cheese. Scatter with thyme leaves and transfer to the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the macaroni is bubbling.

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WIN tickets to the BBC Good Food show this Winter!

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***COMPETITION NOW CLOSED****

I will announce the winner tonight 8pm!

How would you like to go to the BBC Good Food show this winter and see Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry, James Martin and Michel Roux Jr to name a few?

The lovely people behind the shows have offered me a pair of tickets to give away to one of you lucky lot!  You can even choose which show you would rather attend – London (13-15th November) Birmingham NEC (26-29 November) or Glasgow (6-8th November).

Please note that Saturday tickets are NOT included in the competition.

To enter all you need to do is post a comment below and state which show you would most like to attend if you win.

Here are links to each of the shows:

https://www.bbcgoodfoodshowlondon.com/

https://www.bbcgoodfoodshowwinter.com/

https://www.bbcgoodfoodshowscotland.com/

Good luck!

*******COMPETITION ENDS 12am Sunday 25th October*****

Plum amaretti crumble cake

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One of my favourite things about Autumn is all of the seasonal fruit around this time of year – apples, figs, pears and plums are all perfect for baking homely cakes. You know the kind I mean – a cake that could be served alongside a cup of coffee on a rainy afternoon or for pudding, with lashings of custard. This recipe is that kind of cake. The sponge is really moist with the addition of Greek yoghurt and ground almonds, topped with ripe juicy plums and finished off with a layer of buttery amarreti crumble. It’s a gorgeous Autumal bake!

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Plum amaretti crumble cake

175g soft butter
175g caster sugar
3 Large eggs
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds
2 tsp vanilla extract
85g Greek yoghurt
6-7 ripe plums (depending on size – mine were pretty small so you might need less)

Amaretti crumble topping

50g each of butter, demerara sugar, ground almonds, plain flour and amaretti biscuits

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 22cm cake tin and baking paper. 

Make the crumble topping first – place the sugar, ground almonds and plain flour in a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Crush the amaretti biscuits in random sized pieces and stir them through the crumble mixture.

For the cake, place the butter, sugar eggs, flour, baking powder, vanilla, ground almonds and Greek yoghurt in a large bowl. Beat the ingredients together until the batter is smooth. Tip the batter into the tin and level the top. Arrange the plums cut side up over the batter, then scatter over the crumble. Bake for 1 hour or until well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack. Lovely with either cream or custard (or both, if you’re that way inclined!)

Cupcakes for MFR Cash for kids

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I’m very proud and excited to announce that Ashers Bakery are producing and selling my Highland bake off cupcake design in all their stores for a limited time!

For every cupcake sold, Ashers are donating 25p to local Inverness based charity MFR cash for kids – so by buying these cupcakes you’re helping to raise money for a very worthy cause. Eating cake while helping people at the same time – win win situation!

The cupcakes went on sale yesterday and I’ve been told they were a sell out in both stores in my local town by lunchtime, which is amazing!! They will be on sale for another two weeks so if you missed out yesterday (as I did!) there’s still plenty of time.

A huge thank you to everyone who bought them yesterday, your support means so much X

Nicola X

Nutty banana cake with browned butter maple icing and salted caramel

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If you’re looking for a healthier kind of banana cake, better stop reading now.

This banana cake is all dressed up and ready to party.

In brown butter maple icing and salted caramel. It’s not for the faint hearted! It’s very sweet so I like to add a little more salt to the salted caramel to balance it out a little.

Obviously leave the nuts out if you’re allergic, but I love the crunch and texture they give.

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Nutty banana cake with browned butter icing and salted caramel glaze
Inspired/adapted from the banana and hazelnut cake from The Meringue Girls “Everything sweet”

500g very ripe bananas, mashed
125ml vegetable oil
125g light brown sugar
2 large eggs
150g mixed nuts, chopped (I used pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts)
225g self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
A large pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line the base of two 20cm cake tins.

Sift the self raising flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Beat the oil and sugar together and beat in the eggs one at a time, beating until  well mixed. Add the vanilla extract and mashed banana. Fold in the flour and mixed nuts. Pour the batter into the cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the sponges are risen and springy.
Carefully turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Browned butter maple icing

150g butter
500g icing sugar
2-3 tbsp maple syrup

For the browned butter, start by melting the butter in a small pan. Once it’s melted, leave on a medium heat until the butter has browned and has an almost nutty smell. Measure your icing sugar out and place in a mixer with a whisk attachment fitted. With the beaters going, carefully pour the still warm butter into the icing sugar. Keep whisking – it might look a bit strange at this stage but keep going. Add one tbsp of the maple syrup and keep whisking until the icing is very light and fluffy. If it’s a little too thick, add another tbsp maple syrup.

I used this recipe for the salted caramel. Leave to cool completely (obviously!) before pouring over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides.

My Highland bake off experience

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Hello! It’s been a little quiet around here for the past week or so and here’s the reason why..

About a month ago a few of my friends tagged me in an event that was happening in Inverness called Highland bake off. It would be the very first amateur baking competition in the area. There wasn’t very much information at the start, apart from that the event was being held to raise money for local charity MFR cash for kids and would be held in a secret location in Inverness. It all sounded pretty exciting so I promptly booked my space.

When I received the information pack in the post, it confirmed the format of the competition. There would be four challenges – bake a celebration cake in 90 minutes, a batch of 12 cookies in 1 hour, your signature loaf in 2 hours and the final decorating challenge (with minimal decorating tools) which would be in front of a live audience. Eeeeeeeek!!

Time flew past with work and family life
and before I knew it I had a week to practice my baking. Gulp. I already had a good idea which recipes I was going to make so I gave them a trial run to make sure they were achievable in the time scale we had been given.

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This was my practice cake – chocolate raspberry ganache cake. The cake layers were soaked in Chambord liqueur, sandwiched together with chocolate buttercream, spread with chocolate ganache and topped with fresh and freeze dried raspberries.

The day of the competition arrived and I was so nervous! I was seriously thinking of pulling out of the competition the night before. But now I’m so glad I went through with it because….

I won!! I nearly fell down in shock when I heard my name. When this picture was taken I was exhausted, hungry, sweaty, covered in butter, icing sugar and dough but I was giddy with happiness! It was such a long day with quite a few hairy moments (my cakes aren’t cooling! Quick, in the fridge!! Crap, get those cookies out of the oven NOW!) but I absolutely loved it. What a amazing experience.

And the most thrilling part of the whole thing is the prize….I get to release a cookbook!

Yes, a cookbook!

I’m still having trouble processing that part! I don’t know many details yet apart from that the proceeds will go to MFR cash for kids and it will be available to buy in Waterstones and Amazon! How crazy is that??

It’s seriously a dream come true for me. I keep pinching myself in case I dreamt the whole thing!

Plus my baking designs from the final will be released in Ashers Bakery for a limited time. So exciting!

I’ll leave you with a few pictures from the bake off. I really did have the best time and met some really lovely, talented ladies. I couldn’t have gotten through the day without them.

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Cookie challenge - Popcorn, white chocolate and raspberry cookies
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Bread challenge - milk loaf

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I’ll keep you updated! xx

The perfect cheese toastie with Lactofree

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The lovely folks at Lactofree recently sent me this gorgeous hamper to help me recreate the perfect cheese toastie.

Cheese toasties happen often in this house. I’m going to put my hands up and admit that I often come home from work with the kids in tow, tired and hungry, look in the fridge for dinner inspiration and end up muttering the words “how about cheese toasties?”

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So needless to say we all had great fun creating our own cheese toasties. The only problem I had was with the toastie maker – unfortunately the catch broke! I ended up using my trusty old toastie maker Mr George Foreman which was given to us when we got married back in 2001. He’s doing pretty good for his age.

My boys stuck with their favourite cheese and ham and hubby and I tried chorizo slices and cheese which were really delicious. I added some hot yellow pepper jelly to mine which added a nice little kick. Cheese toastie heaven!

I’ve seen the Lactofree cheese in the supermarket and I have to admit I’ve never even considered buying it, but now that I’ve tried some it will definitely be going on my shopping list. It’s a lovely, full flavoured cheese and I certainly couldn’t tell that it was lacto free. If you suffer from bloating and stomach cramps after eating dairy, it’s definitely worth checking out the Lactofree range.

Lemon and lime madeira cake

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Here’s my second bake inspired by the first episode of bake off….madeira cake.

I have to confess that madeira cake always sounded a little boring and plain to me…but after one taste I was sold! It’s light, buttery and moist – anything but boring! It really is a lovely, lovely cake. Sometimes the classics are the best!

Lemon and lime madeira cake

Grease and line an 18cm round cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180c.

175g soft butter
Zest of one lemon and one small lime
175g caster sugar
225g self raising flour
50g ground almonds
3 eggs

Measure out the sugar in a large bowl and using your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is damp and fragrant.  Add the butter, flour, ground almonds and eggs and beat for one minute until the mixture is smooth. Pour into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 60 minutes or until well risen and a skewer inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing:

125g icing sugar
Juice of half a lemon or lime

Mix the icing sugar with the juice until you have a fairly thick icing that will still run off the back of a spoon. Pour over the cooled cake.

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Madeira cake - simple but lovely!

Black forest cake

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Bake off is back!!

Yay!!! :-D

As soon as I heard the bakers were making a black forest gateau for the first showstopping challenge, I had to make one. I wasn’t going to go to a huge amount of effort because no-one else in my house would be eating it – which is extremely dangerous for my hips. Luckily though, I have plenty other family and friends who were more than willing to help me eat it!

Black forest takes me right back to my childhood (I’ve spoken about this before – but please, humour me) but the kind I enjoyed as a little one was not home made but from a box found in the freezer aisle of the supermarket.
The Sara Lee gateau was the height of sophistication in the 80’s and we usually seemed to have one whenever there was a special occasion to celebrate. A jug of pouring cream was always on offer to trickle over your slice. It all felt very grown up and posh to my eight year old self.

I’ve kept things fairly simple for my version – chocolate sponge sandwiched together with whipped cream, cherry compote and topped off with a rich chocolate ganache.

Black forest cake

For the cake

200g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g cocoa powder
225g soft butter
200g caster sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
4 large eggs
150g Greek yoghurt

Grease and line two 20cm round cake tins and preheat the oven to 180c.

Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and beat together until the mixture is smooth.) I sieved the dry ingredients into the bowl of my KitchenAid, then added everything else and used my paddle beater to mix).

Pour the smooth batter into the cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until well risen and springy. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before removing and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

I used this recipe for the cherry compote and halved it. And then halved it again since I only had a smallish punnet of cherries! It was just a shame I didn’t have any kirsch or cherry brandy leftover from Christmas – it would have been really lovely in the compote.

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Fill the cooled sponges with softly whipped double cream and the cherry compote.

For the ganache, place 100ml double cream in a small pan over a medium heat. When it almost reaches a boil, take off the heat and immediately add 100g finely chopped dark chocolate. Leave for a few minutes before stirring to make sure all the chocolate has melted. Leave to thicken and cool a little before pouring over the top of the cake. Decorate with fresh cherries.

Mummy Mishaps

I’m linking this recipe up over at Mummy Mishaps for the great bloggers bake off, a blogging event which is so much fun and a brilliant excuse to bake along with The Great British bake off!

Foodie parcels update!

Here’s a wee round-up of some foodie parcels I’ve recently received in the post…I really should have posted some of these earlier but with the school holidays and all I’m afraid I’ve fallen behind a little…..bad blogger!

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Chika’s sent me some of their premium snacks to try. The smoked almonds were my favourite – they are very moreish! The plantain and gluten free chickpea crisps were very nice too – different but in a good way. They are lower in fat than normal crisps and contain no artificial additives, so you don’t have to feel guilty about eating them! You can read more about Chika’s on their website.

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It was a lovely unexpected surprise when the postman delivered a big box of VitaCoco natural coconut water – it arrived on a very warm and humid day (the day of the Wimbledon semi-final!) so it was very much appreciated. It was very refreshing straight from the fridge. My only regret? Not leaving any for the cocktail recipes I saw online using coconut water…rookie mistake! You can find VictaCoco in most supermarkets.

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Ryland Peters & Small very kindly sent me a couple of books to review – Naked cakes by Hannah Miles and The salad bowl by Nicola Graimes. I already own a few books published by Ryland Peters & small and their books are always visually stunning. I’ll be trying some recipes from both of these books soon so watch this space…

Rhubarb Curd

My Mother’s rhubarb is thriving and I seem to be reaping the benefits…over the past few weeks I’ve made jam, cake and now curd. I’ve always loved rhubarb and I’m always looking for new ways to cook with it.

My Facebook friend Frances made rhubarb curd a couple of weeks ago. It looked so good I made a mental note to try it asap.

So when I was kindly given another bag of rhubarb, I knew exactly what I was going to make!

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I love the pretty pink colour of the curd. But I must confess…I cheated and used a tiny amount of pink food colouring! You don’t have to but just be aware that the curd will probably be yellowish without it…unless you are reading this post in January and have the really vibrant pink forced rhubarb.

Rhubarb Curd

Makes one large or two small jars

450g trimmed rhubarb, cut into 2cm pieces
200g sugar
75g butter
4 tsp cornflour
3 large eggs, beaten
Pink food colouring, if using

Place the rhubarb and 50g sugar in a pan over a medium heat, cover and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring now and then until the rhubarb is soft and becomes pulpy.

Pour into a sieve set over a bowl and using a spoon, push the rhubarb through. You should end up with around 200ml juice.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Mix the cornflour with a little of the rhubarb juice. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cornflour, eggs, remaining (150G) sugar and the juice.
Place the pan back on a low heat and stir continously for 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Don’t be tempted to stop stirring. When it has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon without dripping off, take off the heat immediately. Stir in a little pink food colouring paste if you like (go easy – you shouldn’t need much.)

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Spread on toast, scones, pancakes, anything that takes your fancy! Or you could use it to sandwich a Victoria sponge together instead of jam….