Blueberry orange muffins

Super soft, fluffy muffins bursting with juicy blueberries and orange zest for a fruity twist!

Have you ever eaten a shop bought blueberry muffin and felt a little underwhelmed?

They can look so appealing, but all too often they are dry, lacking in flavour and you end up playing hunt the blueberry.

These muffins are the polar opposite – they are absolutely crammed with berries and full of flavour from orange zest.

I’ve made lots of blueberry muffin recipes in my time, and this is the one I go back to time and time again.

Make a batch of these beauties, pop a few in the freezer and you’ll never be tempted to buy supermarket muffins again. There is just no comparison.

Like all muffins, they are best eaten on the day of baking, but as I mentioned they do freeze beautifully for up to two months.

I can also recommend this – a day or two after baking, cut them in half, pop them under a hot grill for a few minutes, then spread with butter and some jam if you like. In fact, I highly recommend you do this!

Blueberry orange muffins

Adapted from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan

Makes 12 muffins

Equipment needed – 12 hole muffin tin lined with muffin liners or Silicone muffin pan

The grated zest and juice of one orange

Roughly 180ml buttermilk

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons honey

115g butter, melted

80g caster sugar

260g plain flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp salt

200g blueberries, fresh or frozen (unthawed)

Granulated sugar, for the topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/400F.

Pour the orange juice into a large measuring jug and pour in enough buttermilk to make 240ml (one American cup measurement). Stir in the eggs, honey and melted butter.

In another large bowl, rub the orange zest into the sugar until the sugar is damp and fragrant. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and working quickly but gently, stir together to combine. Don’t worry about lumps – they are desirable here! A lumpy batter makes light muffins. Finally, fold in the blueberries.

Spoon the mixture into your muffin tins, filling them no more than 3/4 full. Sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar if you like and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden, risen and they spring back when lightly pressed. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

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I shared this recipe over at A Mummy Too for recipe of the week

Hijacked By Twins

#CookBlogShare hosted by Monika at Everyday healthy recipes

Bake of the week, hosted by Jenny at Mummy Mishaps


Pink grapefruit drizzle cake

Pink grapefruit drizzle cake – the perfect balance between sharp and sweet!

The dreaded lurgy came into our lives last week.

We have all been affected in one way or another, but for some reason it has attached itself to me and will not let go. The sniffly cold I’ve had since New Year seemed to turn into a God awful flu like virus which left me unable to move from my bed for 3 days. Luckily I’m on holiday this week, so I have the option of hibernating from the outside world. I’ve not done that much apart from drinking lots of honey lemon and ginger tea, reading (by which I mean questionable hours scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest) and cuddling my little boy. He’s had a snuffly cold for weeks now, poor baby. I’m really starting to tire of Winter now. I never thought I’d say that. I usually embrace the Winter months – I’ve never really been a Summer person – but this one seems to have gone on forever.

Maybe my subconscious need for a little sunshine was the reason behind my decision to bake with citrus. I usually reach for lemons or oranges, but when I was out shopping a couple of weeks ago I spotted some pretty pink grapefruits. 50p for 4. At that bargain price, I couldn’t resist them.

I was dreaming of either a pink grapefruit curd filled, fluffy meringue topped tart or a zesty, syrup drenched drizzle cake. The drizzle won this time only because it was the easier option. But that tart is so on my bake list…

Back to the drizzle though. This cake is delicious. Light, fluffy and sticky with syrup. A little semolina lightens up the texture a little and brings a slight yellow sunshine colour. It’s a nice addition but by no means essential, so if you don’t have any semolina in your cupboard you could just add another 50g of flour.

It’s crucial that the syrup is cool when your pour it over the cake. If it’s hot, it will pour right through your cake and make it soggy. Not a huge disaster, but you won’t get that gorgeous sticky, sugary top that is so desirable.

pink grapefruit drizzle cake

You will need a 20cm round springform cake tin

200g caster sugar

Finely grated zest of 2 pink grapefruits

200g soft butter

4 medium eggs, beaten

150g self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

50g fine semolina

For the syrup:

80g granulated sugar

Juice of one pink grapefruit

Preheat the oven to 180C/160F. Grease and line the base of your tin with parchment.

Place the sugar and grapefruit zest in a large bowl. Using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is damp and fragrant from the zest oils. Add the butter and cream the mixture until very light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Sieve the flour, baking powder and fine semolina together and fold into the mixture. Pour into your tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the cake is golden and springs back when the top is lightly pressed.* A skewer inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack with a plate underneath to catch any drips.

*While the cake is in the oven you need to make the syrup. The syrup should be cold when you pour it over the warm cake. Place the granulated sugar and grapefruit juice in a small pan and heat gently. Let it bubble gently for a few minutes until it reduces slightly and looks syrupy. Remove from the heat and set aside for now.

When the cake has been out of the oven for about 10 minutes, it’s time to pour the syrup over. Using a skewer or piece of spaghetti, poke holes all over the surface of the cake. Then evenly pour the syrup over the top, letting the cake absorb all that sticky sweetness.

For the glaze, I simply mixed icing sugar and pink grapefruit juice together until I had a runny icing that coats the back of a spoon. Pour over the top of the cake and using a spoon, gently coax it over the sides.

You could of course omit the glaze and serve the cake as it is. I got a little fancy here and decorated it with a dusting of icing sugar and candied grapefruit slices. Absolutely non-essential, but pretty to look at.

I shared this cake with #CookBlogShare, the weekly link party for bloggers hosted this week by everyday healthy recipes

Hijacked By Twins
Recipe of the week, hosted by Emily A Mummy too

Bake of the week, hosted by Helen of Casa Costello and Jenny of Mummy mishaps

Dundee Cake

This Scottish cake is a true classic that has stood the test of time!

As the story goes, the Dundee cake was created in the late 1700s by the Dundee based company Keiller, as a sideline to their very successful marmalade making business. The original recipe contained only sultanas and naturally, lots of orange peel.

I’m not a big fan of peel but I love citrus, so my version of this timeless fruit cake has orange and lemon zest, plus a few spoonfuls of orange marmalade.

The original recipe didn’t include cherries, but I just love them in fruit cake so I include them. If you would rather stick to tradition, just omit them and add another 50g sultanas.

Dundee cake isn’t as rich as a Christmas fruit cake – think buttery, light sponge studded with juicy, whisky soaked dried fruits and topped with crunchy almonds. No wonder it’s still going strong – it’s a fabulous cake.

Dundee Cake

You will need:

Deep 20cm round cake tin, buttered and the bottom and sides lined with baking paper

For soaking the fruits: (optional)

75ml whisky or orange juice

175g sultanas

175g raisins

50g cherries, rinsed and halved

Place the dried fruit in a medium sized bowl and pour over the whisky or orange juice. Cover and leave to soak for a couple of hours.

150g soft butter

150g caster sugar

3 large eggs

250g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

Zest of one lemon

Zest of one orange

3 tbsp orange marmalade

50g ground almonds

50g whole blanched almonds

Preheat the oven to 180C/150C fan.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Slowly add the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Sift together the flour and baking powder and fold into the creamed mixture. Fold in the soaked dried fruits, lemon and orange zest, orange marmalade and ground almonds. Pour the mixture into your lined cake tin and decorate the top with the blanched almonds.

Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes2 hours (start checking the cake after 1 hour 30 – mine was ready after 1 hour 40) or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Fruity bran loaf

My first recipe of 2018 is a good old fashioned fruit bran loaf. If I’m totally honest, it’s the kind of thing I would have turned my nose up at as a teenager in favour of a massive piece of chocolate cake, but now I just adore a piece of squidgy fruit loaf with my cup of tea. Maybe it’s to do with the fact that we have more discerning tastes when we get older? Who knows? Who cares?

These days I just love cake in any form.

This is one of the easiest cakes you can make – you measure out all the ingredients in a teacup. Not an American cup measurement. A normal cup is fine. You don’t need to get your scales out for this recipe. Just remember – the bigger the cup, the bigger the loaf which in turn, may affect the baking time. I actually used a small mug to measure my ingredients, but it’s swings and roundabouts really.

This fruity loaf keeps well for a good few days – I’m not sure if it keeps any longer than that because mine never lasts that long! I love to eat it generously spread with butter.

Fruity bran loaf

1 cup sugar (white or brown)

1 cup mixed dried fruit – I usually use whatever I’ve got in the cupboard – raisins, sultanas, cranberries, chopped apricots and cherries are all good here

1 cup milk

1 cup bran flakes

1 cup self raising flour

Pour the sugar, dried fruit, milk and bran flakes into a large mixing bowl and stir well. Cover the bowl and leave for one hour.

When one hour has passed, preheat the oven to 180C fan 160C/gas mark 4 and lightly butter a 900g/2lb loaf tin. Sift the flour into the fruity mixture and mix gently, taking care not to overmix. Pour the mixture into the lined loaf tin and bake for 50-60 mins or until a sharp knife or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.

If you give this recipe a go, please let me know what you think! Leave a comment in the box below x

I shared this post with the link up recipe of the week at A Mummy too

Amaretto fruit cake

We are fast approaching the time of year when I begin to get ridiculously excited. I love Christmas!

I just can’t imagine Christmas without a fruit cake – if I’m totally honest one of my main reasons for making one is to fill the house with the amazing, festive smell while the cake is in the oven! I usually make elaborate plans to ice and decorate the cake, but in reality I’m never usually organised enough to actually do it. If you’re short of time, a fruit and nut topping is easy and looks so pretty.

This simmer and stir method means it isn’t totally necessary to make the cake weeks before Christmas and feed it – but you can if you want to.

It’s definitely worth taking the time to line your cake tin correctly to protect the cake during its long baking time.

Grease a deep, loose bottomed 23cm round cake tin and line the base and sides with non stick baking paper. Cut out a circle of baking paper, using the base of your tin as a template. To line the sides, cut a strip of baking paper a little longer than the circumference of the tin and about 3 inches higher. Fold it 1 inch along its length, then using scissors make little snips up to the fold line, making a fringe along the length. It should now fit snugly inside the cake tin. Finally, fit your circle over the top, covering the fringe.

Amaretto fruit cake

200g dried figs, chopped
300g sultanas
350g raisins
200g glace cherries, rinsed, dried and halved
50g crystallized ginger, chopped (optional)
125ml Amaretto, plus extra for soaking the cake
300g butter
250g dark brown sugar
Zest and juice of 1 large Orange
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons treacle
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
5 medium eggs
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
30g flaked almonds


3-4 tablespoons apricot jam
250g mixed fruit and nuts such as apricots, glace cherries, cranberries, crystallized ginger, Brazil nuts, pecans, pistachios

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2.

Place the dried fruits in a large saucepan with the Amaretto, butter, sugar, Orange zest and juice, lemon zest, treacle, cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg. Gently bring to a simmer, stirring, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes. I’ve often done this in advance and left it overnight. When you’re ready to bake the cake, pour the soaked fruit mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, then stir in the flour, baking powder, ground almonds and flaked almonds. Stir until everything is well combined. Pour into the lined tin and bake for 2 1/2 – 3 hours or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin. When the cake is cold, poke a few holes in the cake, drizzle with a little Amaretto, then wrap in baking paper and store in an airtight container.

If you’re decorating the cake with the fruit and nut topping, warm the apricot jam in a small pan over a low heat. If there are any lumps of fruit, strain through a sieve.
Brush the top of the cake with some jam, then stick the fruit and nuts onto the cake. Carefully brush the fruit and nuts with the remaining jam to add a lovely shine.

Malted Fruit and banana Loaf

The past couple of weeks have been a bit fraught. I ended up going to hospital not once, but four times due to a few complications (baby and I are fine thankfully  – they are just keeping a close eye on me because I lost my first baby very late in pregnancy) and I had to stay in for a couple of days last week as a precaution. I have to say though, the staff at the hospital are absolutely amazing and I can’t praise them enough. They did a fantastic job of calming my nerves and comforting me when I was taken through via an ambulance last Tuesday night. Honestly, where would we be without our NHS? I actually dread to think…

So needless to say, things have been pretty quiet on the cooking/baking front. The housework is being severely neglected. I’m sure my ironing pile contains clothes that we’d forgotten we owned we haven’t seen them in that long, and I just have piles of stuff.

Everywhere. Boys are so messy!

But I’ve been told to rest as much as I can, so I’m trying my hardest to turn a blind eye. To be fair, my eldest has been hoovering daily (one of my bug bears is dirty carpets – normally if I see a speck of dirt I’m out with the hoover) and they’ve both been taking their dirty washing/cups/plates downstairs and helping Dad wash up. They are trying!

I made this fruit loaf just before one of my longer hospital visits. It’s packed full of goodness and is fat free. So in other words, it’s a health food! If you can overlook the golden syrup 😉

Malted fruit and banana loaf

100g malt extract

100g golden syrup

100ml milk

75g dried dates, roughly chopped

75g sultanas or raisins

225g self raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of salt

1 medium egg, lightly beaten

1 ripe banana, mashed

Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the malt extract, golden syrup and milk in a saucepan. Stir over a gentle heat until the mixture is hot and all of the ingredients are well combined. Remove from the heat and add the dates and raisins/sultanas.

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the fruit mixture, egg and mashed banana. Stir the mixture until everything is well combined and no pockets of flour remain. Spoon into a greased and lined 1 litre loaf tin (approx 20x10cm) and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

Leave to cool completely in the tin. This fruit loaf will last for about a week – if it isn’t devoured by then!

Plum amaretti crumble cake


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!


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!)

Black forest cake


Bake off is back!!

Yay!!! 😀

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.


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!

Maple iced fruit loaf


It’s half term holiday this week and I’m also on holiday from work (yay!)

Unfortunately the weather forecast isn’t looking too promising, so over the next few days I’ll be catching up on chores (boring but has to be done), blogging, making dens with my boys, baking and hopefully start watching American Horror Story season 4. While eating this gorgeous berry studded fruit loaf, of course! I just had to try a piece with Moose Maple butter for breakfast this morning….Ohhhh my it was SO good. Believe me when I say if you’re a maple syrup fan, you NEED this butter in your life!

This fruit loaf is packed full of juicy cranberries, cherries and blueberries and is totally delicious.

Maple Iced fruit loaf
Makes two large loaves

550g strong white flour
10g salt
10g fast action (instant) yeast
40g soft butter
50g sugar
3 medium eggs, plus one beaten egg to glaze
160ml full fat milk, warmed
100-150ml cool water
250g dried cherries and berries – I used a bag of cinnamon dusted cherries, cranberries and blueberries from the Co-operative but you could use any dried fruit you like.
1/2 tsp dried cinnamon

For the Maple icing

100g icing sugar
2-3 tbsp maple syrup

Place the flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and yeast, keeping them at separate sides of the bowl (adding them directly on top of each other can kill the yeast).

Add the soft butter, sugar, eggs, milk and 100ml water. Switch on the mixer and mix at slow speed. Slowly add more water if the dough looks a bit dry – it should be soft and quite sticky. Mix on medium for 5 minutes until the dough is very soft and elastic. Add your dried fruit and cinnamon and mix again for a couple of minutes.

Cover the bowl with cling and leave to rise for 1-2 hours or until at least doubled in size. At this stage you could actually put the dough in the fridge and leave it to slowly prove overnight, but make sure you let it come to room temperature before you shape it.

Line two baking trays with baking paper and preheat the oven to 200C.

Tip out the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently fold inwards repeatedly until all the air is knocked out. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Place on the baking tray. Cover with lightly oiled cling film or a large plastic bag and leave to prove for 45 minutes -1 hour, or until the dough has at least doubled in size and springs back quickly when prodded lightly. Glaze each loaf with beaten egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the icing, stir together the icing sugar and maple syrup until you have a pourable icing. You might need to add some more maple syrup so keep it close to hand. Pour the icing over the cooled loaves and leave to set.

Blood Orange Blossom Cake


I have such a thing for blood oranges at the moment. I’ve been eating them in salads, finding excuses to bake with them and eating them just as they are. The juices drip down my front and on more than one occasion I have unknowingly walked around in public with a great big pinky-red stain down my top. Oops.

I’ve tried a few blood orange cakes – such as this one I made last year – but the one I’m sharing with you today is my new favourite. The honey soaked orange slices that adorn the top of the cake look so beautiful it is a cake worthy of the name showstopper but with none of the hard work. It’s quite similar to a Nigella Lawson cake I used to make a few years ago in that a whole cooked orange is pureed and added to the cake batter. This method produces a really moist, flavourful cake with an unusual but lovely texture.

Annoyingly the blood oranges I used for this cake weren’t the vivid colour I was looking for – and of course it was sod’s law that the ones I bought the week after I made this cake were really vibrant and red.

Blood orange blossom cake

Adapted from “Blood orange blossom and pomegranate cake” in BBC Good Food Magazine February 2015

3 blood oranges
250g soft butter
50g honey plus 2 tbsp
300g caster sugar
200g Self raising flour
100g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tbsp orange blossom water
150g Greek yoghurt

Place one of the oranges in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until the orange is really soft. Remove from the oven and once it has cooled a little, cut in half and remove the seeds.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 22cm round tin with butter. Drizzle 2 tbsp of honey over the base of the tin, then slice the remaining two oranges quite thinly and arrange in the tin.

Puree the cooked orange in a food processor. Beat together the soft butter, sugar, flour, almonds, baking powder, eggs, 1 tbsp orange blossom water and Greek yoghurt until the batter is smooth. Stir in the pureed orange and pour the orange flecked batter into the tin, being careful not to dislodge the orange slices.

Bake for 55-60 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn upside down on a plate.

For the syrup:

100g Sugar
Juice of one blood orange
1tsp orange blossom water

Place the ingredients in a small pan. Slowly bring to the boil, turn down the heat and allow the mixture to bubble for a few minutes until it becomes syrupy. Pour a little of this syrup over the cake but save the rest for serving later with Greek Yoghurt or vanilla ice cream.



I linked this recipe over at A Mummy Too for Recipe of the week.

Cherry, Pecan and Ginger Christmas Pudding for Stir Up Sunday


I have to admit, I’ve never made Christmas pudding before but this year I really fancied giving it a go. Christmas pudding brings back fond memories of my Gran. She would make one nearly every Christmas especially for the two of us because we loved it so much. I always enjoyed mine with pouring cream, although these days I’m all about the brandy butter or something else I discovered a couple of years ago – egg nog cream!

This recipe is very loosely based on my Gran’s. I hope she wouldn’t mind that I’ve taken great liberties with her original recipe! I’ve replaced the mixed peel (which I’ve never been a fan of) with crystallised ginger. I don’t remember my Gran ever using cherries in her recipe, but I’ve used them in abundance here purely because I’m a bit of a cherry freak. I couldn’t resist throwing in some pecans because I adore them.

I’ve gone for a double hit of ginger in the form of both stem and crystallised. If you think this is a little OTT for your taste, then I would leave out the Crystallised ginger. But I love the stuff and I’m kind of a more is more gal!

My Gran used to steam her Christmas pud on the hob in a large pan. She would place the pudding basin on top of a little tea plate and pour boiling water half way up the pan. I remember the windows being all steamed up with the condensation and the rattling noise the plate made! Today I’m going for the slow cooker method. Since I started full time work my slow cooker has really come into its own – there’s nothing better than coming home to the smell of your dinner ready and waiting for you!

Cherry, Ginger and Pecan Christmas Pudding

150g raisins
150g currants or sultanas
100g glace cherries
75g dried cherries
25g crystallised ginger, chopped small (optional)
2 balls stem ginger, chopped plus 2 tbsp of the ginger syrup
4 tbsp cherry brandy
2 tbsp ginger wine
Zest and juice of one large orange
One dessert apple, peeled cored and grated
125g soft dark brown sugar
75g pecans
75g shredded suet
75g fresh white breadcrumbs
75g self raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice

Grease a 1.5 litre pudding bowl. Preheat your slow cooker according to the manufacturers instructions.

Place the dried fruit in a large bowl and pour over the cherry brandy and ginger wine. Leave to soak for at least two hours or preferably overnight.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients and spoon into your greased pudding bowl. Smooth the surface. The mixture should be about 1 inch below the rim.
If your pudding basin has a lid, then cover the basin with a piece of baking paper and pop the lid on. If your basin doesn’t have a lid you will need to cover the top with a tin foil lid.

Now you need to make a tin foil strap if you are like me and don’t have any string in the house! Take two long strips of foil. Fold each piece into thirds lengthwise, and place one piece on top of the other to make a cross. Place your pudding basin in the centre of the strips. Lift up the straps and lower the basin into the slow cooker.


Pop the basin into the slow cooker and carefully pour enough boiling water in to reach halfway up the side of the basin. Pop the lid on and cook on high for *roughly* 8-12 hours. I say roughly because the cooking time will vary depending on your slow cooker model. I actually left my pudding to cook overnight – it was in the cooker for 15 hours in total. So don’t worry about leaving it for a few hours longer, it won’t do any harm. You may need to top up the water a couple of times during the cooking process, so you’ll need to check it very occasionally.

To reheat your Pudding on Christmas Day, simply wrap in foil and bake in the oven at 150C for about one hour OR to free up much needed oven space, preheat in the slow cooker on high using exactly the same method as above for 3-5 hours.

Pear and sticky toffee pecan cake and win a cake stand with

The lovely people over at recently sent me a gorgeous Ivory cake stand to review. It’s been getting a fair amount of use in my kitchen recently! I’ve been baking more than ever lately – maybe it’s the fact that GBBO is on, but my family don’t seem to be complaining!

Apple and blackberry sponge cake – recipe coming soon!

This cake stand is 28cm in diameter so it is big enough for a decent sized Birthday or celebration cake. It was actually the perfect size for the pear and toffee pecan cake I made at the weekend.

The scalloped edge is very pretty and I love the detail on the base. It’s a classic design that would add a touch of class to a tea and cake get together with friends and family!

This cake stand usually costs £19.99 but you could end up getting one delivered to your home absolutely free of charge because have kindly offered to do just that for one lucky reader! All you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter underneath the recipe below.

Sadly, this competition is only available to UK residents – I’m sorry!

The Competition closes on 30th September 2014.

To enter just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter link. Good luck!



Sticky pear and pecan toffee cake
Adapted from BBC Good Food Magazine, October issue

150g soft pitted dates
225g butter
125g pecans, finely chopped
2 large ripe pears, peeled, cored and chopped into 1cm pieces
200g light brown sugar
4 medium eggs
4 tbsp milk or buttermilk
300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp each ground cinnamon and mixed spice

For the topping

100g light brown sugar
25g butter
100ml double cream
50g whole pecans

Soak the dates by just covering with boiling water. Leave for 15 minutes or longer. Preheat oven to 180C and grease the inside of a 25cm Bundt tin (I swear by cake release spray)

Drain the dates, then chop very very finely, almost to a pulp. If you prefer you can use a food processor to do this – I didn’t because I don’t like extra washing up!

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Add the dates, milk, flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and spices and fold in gently until the batter is smooth. Fold in the chopped pecans and pear chunks. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out carefully and cool on a wire rack.

For the toffee topping, pour the sugar, butter and cream in a small pan. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for five minutes until slightly thickened. Stir in the whole pecans and pour over the cake.

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Chocolate courgette muffins and Cake Decor perfect swirls frosting review part three


Trying to sneak veggies into my kids these days is a daunting task. As they get older it seems to be getting more and more difficult. Courgettes are plentiful and cheap right now and I love them but sadly no-one else in my house will eat them…but when I hide them in cake…well that’s a different matter!!

I decorated some of the muffins with the perfect swirls chocoholic vanilla and truly chocoholic frosting Cake Decor kindly sent me to try. They went perfectly together! The truly chocoholic flavour was my favourite. It has a lovely taste that reminded me of chocolate fudge. My boys had great fun helping me pipe the frosting (the tubes have an attached nozzle) although they did find it a little tricky to squeeze the icing out as it was a little thick – I placed the tube in a jug of warm water which made it a bit easier.

Thank you, Cake Decor for giving me the opportunity to review your products! You can order this frosting via their website or Lakeland where right now they are reduced from £2.79 to £2.39.

Chocolate courgette muffins

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with liners.

200g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
1 1/2 baking powder
150g Sugar (any kind, I used granulated)
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
125ml vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
225g finely grated Courgette (Zucchini)
100g chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder sugar and salt.

Crack the eggs into a jug and add the oil and vanilla. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and stir lightly. Stir in the grated courgette and chocolate chips, taking care not to overmix.

Spoon the batter into the baking cases and bake for 20-25 minutes or until well risen and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from the tray and place on a wire rack to cool.



The baking cups are from the fabulous Iced Jems 🙂

Mary Berry’s banana loaf


Sometimes the simplest recipes can be exactly what’s needed. Since the new term begins tomorrow, I’ve been looking for inexpensive recipes that are ideal for popping in lunchboxes or a mid morning snack.  Pretty much every school has a strict no nuts policy now (and rightly so) so my usual banana and walnut loaf was a no-go.

I turned to the Queen of baking herself, Mrs Mary Berry. I love her recipes, she hasn’t failed me yet! This recipe is from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. It’s a very simple recipe – no nuts, no flavourings, no fancy ingredients! The key thing here is using very ripe bananas for the best flavour – the blacker the better.

As well as being great for a packed lunch, this is really good spread with butter or drizzled with honey.

Mary Berry’s banana loaf

100g soft butter
175g caster sugar
2 Large eggs
200g Self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 over ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and line a 2lb loaf tin.

Beat all of the ingredients together for two minutes until the batter is smooth and everything is well incorporated.  Pour into the tin and bake for one hour, or until well risen and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.

A Summery Pavlova of epic proportions and an accident


Summer. I kind of have a love/hate relationship with it. I would love to be a sun worshipper, but my fair complexion can’t take it. Not to mention I’m prone to getting sun stroke. it’s not much fun. So as much as I would love to lie on the beach all day when the temperature hits 22C and beyond, I tend to cover up and sit under a parasol while browsing shopping websites such as one of my favourites They currently have a Summer sale on – why not head on over and take a look? There are lots of lovely goodies at bargain prices – I love the tartan satchels and the children’s gardening sets! I have the retro glass bowls – I use them constantly and they are a steal at 3.95 for a set of five!

There’s one thing about Summer I really can enjoy with wild abandon – all the beautiful seasonal fruit. Strawberries, cherries, blackberries, peaches, raspberries. I adore them all.

In my mind, here is no finer way to showcase seasonal fruit than in a Pavlova. All that cream and fruit piled on top of the sweet meringue, crisp on the outside and marshmallow-
like softness inside – is there anything more beautiful and dreamy to eat?

Now I must confess that making this pavlova wasn’t all plain sailing. I originally made a larger version of this recipe. It was one mammoth meringue. I was so proud. Here it is before disaster struck –

The pavlova of epic proportions

And after –

Sob! 😦

I dropped it. I very nearly cried.

But I didn’t. Instead I pulled myself together and made another one. A smaller version, but maybe that was no bad thing. I think if I hadn’t dropped the first one we would have Still been eating pavlova for breakfast, lunch and dinner….

note: I halved the original recipe. Please feel free to double the ingredients if you want to have a go at the Pavlova of epic proportions, but just be aware it needs to bake for 4-5 hours. In this case you would need to draw a 20cm circle on the baking paper.

Peach Melba Pavlova

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1/2 tsp cornflour

For the topping
250ml double cream
75g Greek yoghurt
A splash of vanilla extract
1 tbsp icing sugar
2-3 ripe, juicy peaches
150g raspberries
25g icing sugar

Simply whip the cream, yoghurt, vanilla and icing sugar together until you have soft peaks.

Puree the raspberries and icing sugar together in a food processor. Sieve the puree over a bowl. Try and get as much raspberry juice as you can. Taste the puree in case it needs more icing sugar.

Preheat the oven to 150C.

line a sturdy baking tray with baking paper. Using a cake tin or similar, draw a 16cm circle in the middle. This step isn’t really essential, but I find it really helps.

Using a very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Still whisking, slowly add the sugar, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the meringue is very stiff and shiny.
Stir in the cornflour.

Pile the meringue high on to the circle, and smooth the sides with a spatula. Make a little dip in the centre. Place in the oven and immediately turn down to 120C. Bake for 2 hours. When the time is up, turn off the oven and leave the meringue to cool completely.


When the pavlova is completely cold, pile with the cream, peaches and drizzle some of that raspberry sauce over. Carry to your table with pride 🙂


In case you’re wondering, the broken pav did not go to waste. I’ll be revealing what I did with it in a day or two……;-)


Raspberry & Peach Friands


These little beauties have been causing a stir in my foodie friends circle for some time now. They are called Friands which is French for “little cake.” They seem to be extremely popular in Australia and New Zealand. They are made from egg whites and ground almonds and taste totally delicious. I’ve been feeling a bit out of the loop because I don’t own a Friand tin, but I thought why not try using muffin tins? So that’s what I did and they turned out fine – the trick is to grease the muffin tin well. I did have a small issue with the one on the bottom left of the picture above – it got a little stuck! I ate that one first – just because something doesn’t turn out perfectly in baking doesn’t mean to say it won’t taste delicious!

My cakes may not have the lovely oval Friand shape, but they do taste lovely. A proper Friand tin is on my wishlist!

Raspberry & Peach Friands
Makes around 8

5 egg whites (they should weigh around 150g in total)
150g butter, melted
75g ground almonds
180g icing sugar
50g plain flour
100g raspberries
One large ripe peach, cut into small chunks

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a Friand or muffin tin (or use cake release spray)

Lightly whisk the egg whites to combine. Add the melted butter, ground almonds, icing sugar and flour and stir well to combine. Fold in the fruit, keeping a few berries and peach chunks for placing on top of the friands. Pour the mixture into the tin, filling each hole no more than two thirds full.

Place the remaining raspberries and peaches on top of each friand and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden.

Once the Friands have cooled, dust with icing sugar.


Cherry Bakewell cupcakes and Chocolate coconut loaf cake for Sugar and Crumbs


Remember a few posts ago when I told you the fabulous Sugar and crumbs sent me some baking goodies to play with? Well I spent yesterday afternoon baking up a storm with cherry bakewell icing sugar and coconut cocoa powder. Here are the results!

I made my lovely friend Jo's cherry jam...
I don't own a cherry pitter so things got pretty messy! I'm still finding little splatters of cherry juice on my kitchen surfaces.

You’ll find the recipe for Jo’s delicious jam right here

Cherry bakewell cupcakes

150g soft butter
150g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp almond extract
100g self raising flour
75g ground almonds
Cherry jam
150g Sugar and Crumbs cherry bakewell icing sugar (I found this amount just enough to ice my twelve cupcakes.)

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Line a 12 hole tin with cupcake cases.

Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Stir in the almond extract. Fold in the self raising flour and ground almonds. Spoon the mixture into the cases, pop into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen and tinged light golden brown around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling and icing.

When the cupcakes are cold, cut out little circles of sponge in the centre of each cake (an apple corer is a very handy tool for this job!) and spoon in a little cherry jam, making sure you don’t let the jam ooze over the top. Empty the cherry bakewell icing sugar in a bowl (no need to sift – the texture is lovely and fine) and stir in a few drops of cool boiled water, a little at a time until you have a fairly thick icing. Spoon over each cupcake and top with a glace cherry.

Verdict: Lovely, light fluffy cupcakes. The cherry jam middle adds a lovely surprise. The cherry bakewell icing sugar smells exactly like, well, cherry bakewell obviously! This icing sugar is very sweet but not overpoweringly so. The almond flavour is very prominent. If you are a fan of Mr Kipling’s cherry bakewells I urge you to try this. You will love it!



Chocolate Coconut Loaf Cake
recipe adapted from The River cottage book of cakes

150g soft butter
150g caster sugar
50g Sugar and Crumbs coconut cocoa powder
150g self raising flour
2 eggs
150ml coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and line a 450g loaf tin.

Place the flour and coconut cocoa powder in a bowl. Stir in the sugar. Using a mixer, beat in the butter and eggs. Beat for one minute until the batter is smooth. Stir in the coconut milk. Pour into the tin and bake for 45-50 minutes until the the cake is risen and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.

For the chocolate glaze:

50g butter
20g Sugar and Crumbs coconut cocoa powder
1-2 tablespoons milk
150g icing sugar, sifted

Melt the butter in a medium sized pan. Add the cocoa powder and stir well. Add the milk and icing sugar. Stir very well with a mini whisk until smooth. You should a fairly thick glaze, but not too thick it isn’t spoonable. Add a little more milk or icing sugar if you need to. Cover the top of the cake with the chocolate glaze and decorate with coconut and chopped Bounty bars.

Verdict: I have to admit I wasn’t that sure how the coconut cocoa powder was going to turn out – can you really taste the coconut? The answer is a big YES. This loaf smells divine. The coconut flavour really comes through. Out of the three products I tested for Sugar and Crumbs this was definitely my favourite. I will absolutely be ordering more!


If you would like to order some goodies from Sugar and Crumbs just visit their website. You can allow follow them on Twitter @sugarandcrumbs and Facebook.

A Coconut & Lime cake for World Baking Day & a Sugar & Crumbs Product Review


Since World Baking Day is upon us and the sun didn’t make an appearance in the Scottish Highlands today (which explains the lack of natural light in my pictures today – boo!) I decided to don my pinny and do a bit of baking.

Last week Sugar and Crumbs very kindly sent me a package of baking goodies to review. This delighted me because I love trying out new products!


Coconut is one of my favourite flavours, so I decided to try the coconut and lime icing sugar first. As soon as I opened the packet a gorgeous aroma awakened my senses – the smell was heavenly! The first thing that struck me about this icing sugar was how finely textured it is – not a clump in sight!

I was delighted how well this cake turned out using the flavoured icing sugar. I will definitely be ordering some more flavours soon. They have a lovely selection on their website – I like the sound of the chilli chocolate cocoa powder!


I could have actually done with two packets of the icing sugar for this recipe – while making the cake I quickly realised that the 125g pack wasn’t going to be quite enough to generously ice my cake. I just added a further 75g normal icing sugar which made just the right amount of buttercream, no more no less! To amp the flavours up, I added the zest of half a lime and a little squeeze of lime juice to the icing. But it’s not really essential because the icing sugar provides enough zesty coconutty flavour on its own.

Come back later in the week to see what else I made with my other Sugar &amp Crumbs goodies!

Coconut and Lime sponge cake

You will need two fairly deep 20cm cake tins, buttered and lined with parchment.

250g soft butter
250g caster sugar
Zest of two limes
4 eggs, beaten
250g self raising flour
25g cornflour
175ml coconut milk
50g dessicated coconut
1 tsp coconut extract

Measure out your coconut milk in a jug and stir in the dessicated coconut and coconut extract. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Add the lime zest then slowly add the eggs, mixing well after each addition. Fold in half of the flour and cornflour, then half of the coconut mixture. Fold in the remaining flour and coconut milk mixture until the batter is smooth. Spoon into your cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown on top and spring back when lightly pressed. Leave in the tins for 10 minutes then turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.


For the coconut & lime icing

125g bag Sugar and Crumbs coconut
& lime icing sugar
75g icing sugar
150g soft unsalted butter
Zest of half a lime
A little squeeze of lime juice
25g Toasted coconut for decoration

Beat the butter until soft and creamy, then add both icing sugars, the lime zest and a few drops of lime juice and beat on high speed until very soft and fluffy.

Fancy a slice?

Thank you Sugar and Crumbs! If you would like me to test any more of your lovely products you know where I am 😉

Rhubarb & Ginger Oat Crisp


Thursday already, where are the weeks going?? This year is whizzing by at an alarming rate. Things have been so busy I’ve not had time for much baking, which is probably not a bad thing for my waistline! Recently my sister gave me some rhubarb and I had originally planned to make the gorgeous rhubarb and custard tea cake, but I really fancied making a fruit crisp. A crisp is basically an Amerian crumble. They often include oats in the recipe which I’m a big fan of, I love using oats in baking and they work particularly well in this recipe. The topping is SO good, the little crystallised ginger pieces work so well here. If you are a fan of the rhubarb ginger combination you are going to love this recipe!

This pudding would be delicious with vanilla ice cream, thick double cream or custard, but I can also confirm that it is rather nice cold! I ate a bowl of this for breakfast today with a dollop of Rachel’s Organic ginger yoghurt. It wasn’t a bad way to start the day at all!

So without further ado, I give you my recipe for rhubarb and ginger oat crisp. I prebaked the rhubarb for 10-15 minutes before adding the topping and it turned out perfect. If you wanted to I’m sure you could just crumble the topping over the raw rhubarb and bake for longer, around 40-45 minutes.

Rhubarb & Ginger Oat Crisp

900g Rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
75g vanilla caster sugar
100g plain flour
100g porridge oats
125g light brown sugar
125g butter, diced
1 1/2 tsp dried ginger (if you aren’t as much of a ginger fiend as I am cut it back to 1 tsp)
50g crystallised ginger, chopped finely (again, if you don’t want a big ginger hit cut it back to 25g)

Preheat the oven to 200C/375F /Gas 5.

Place the chopped rhubarb in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the vanilla sugar. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the rhubarb is slightly tender.

Place the flour, oats and sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the dried and crystallised ginger. Tip this mixture over the rhubarb and press down lightly, making sure the rhubarb is evenly covered.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the rhubarb is tender and the topping is nicely crisped up.

Pretty pink rhubarb!


Sultana, apricot & honey flapjacks


Flapjacks are something that my boys often ask me to make for them. They usually prefer them plain, but this time I’m hoping this fruity version will meet with their approval. They’ve been spending most of the Easter holidays out playing football, so they need some hearty snacks to keep their strength up!

Apricot, sultana & honey flapjacks

175g butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
175g demerara or light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
250g rolled oats
50g sultanas
50g chopped apricots

Grease and line a 20cm square tin. Preheat the oven to 180C.

Melt the butter, vanilla, sugar and honey in a large pan. When everything is melted together, tip in the oats and dried fruit and mix together.
Pour into the tin and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Leave until cold before cutting into squares.