Cherry and Dark Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns  1

Hot cross buns are a major Easter tradition here in the UK. The cross, which symbolises the crucifixion, means that they are traditionally consumed on Good Friday. Every year the supermarkets are jam-packed full of every type you can imagine, from super sophisticated, generously sized buns, (supposedly designed by Heston Blumenthal) to regular own brand, slightly sad and flat looking buns. Whatever the type, if I get through the Easter period without consuming at least one, I always regret it.

Hot Cross Buns 2

Hot cross buns, for the uninitiated, should be sweet, sticky and light, with a good helping of dried fruit and fragrant spices. Best served split through the middle, lightly toasted and slavered in butter, they should be soft, fluffy and warm in the middle and slightly crisp on the outside.

Hot Cross Buns 3

Sadly, shop bought buns don’t always deliver on this score, so I decided it was time to brave the complicated process of making my own. The secret to light and fluffy buns is leaving the dough to rise and prove 3 times, this makes the cooking process take roughly 4 hours, but trust me, it’s worth it. And who doesn’t love a spring morning in the kitchen, baking up a storm? (continue reading…)

Simple Carrot & Coriander Salad

Carrot coriander salad 1

 

Today’s post is all about simplicity. Sometimes simplicity is the key when it comes to good, wholesome food. Today, with a flight to New York looming in the very near future, I feel the need for something simple and comforting. The combination of carrot and coriander seems like it fits the bill.

Carrot coriander salad 3

 

Crunchy, tangy and refreshing, I scoffed this salad alongside a left over Kale Pesto, Olive and Mozzarella Pizza Roll. The flavours weren’t the best match in the world, but I threw caution to the wind and didn’t regret it. (continue reading…)

Kale Pesto, Olive & Mozzarella Pizza Rolls

Kale Pesto Pizza Rolls 1

Why is it that whenever I try to cut down on my wheat consumption I am assailed with amazing wheat based recipes at every turn! This week it was Joy The Baker and her fabulous pepperoni pizza rolls that got under my skin and wouldn’t let me rest until I’d put my own spin on the recipe.

Kale Pesto Pizza Rolls 2

To justify making these pizza rolls, I decided to fool myself into believing they were healthy by thoroughly injecting them with kale.  I recently discovered the joys of homemade pesto and it turns out that the kale variety, whilst being full of lovely vitamins, tastes incredible. I was worried that without the basil something would be lacking, but the flavour is just as distinctive and works perfectly with the mozzarella and olives.

Kale Pesto Pizza Rolls 3

These pizza rolls are marvellous served warm from the oven, crispy on the outside and super soft and saucy in the middle. And what’s more, they only take about an hour to prepare so you can even whip them up for a quick post-work supper! (continue reading…)

Spiced Duck, Mango & Pomegranate Salad

Duck salad 1

Oh my goodness, spring has, for once, arrived early here in the UK! In celebration of the sunshine I officially declare the commencement of salad season!

Duck salad 2

What better way to kick things off than with this gorgeously spicy and fruity duck salad. To my mind, there are few better combinations in the world than meat and fruit, except perhaps fragrant spices and fruit and this salad provides the very best of both of those combinations.

Duck salad 3

Spicy, crispy skinned duck, cool, juicy mango and crunchy, sweet pomegranate seeds are the main protagonists, accompanied by soft, baby leaf salad, radishes, avocado and the occasional hit of fresh coriander. It’s basically all of my favourite things on one plate and I just can’t get enough of it. (continue reading…)

Battenberg Cake

Battenberg Cake 1

Back in the olden days, whenever I paid a visit to my Nan and Gramp in Cheltenham, there were certain foodstuffs I was guaranteed to enjoy. Items that were surefire crowd pleasers in the under 10 category, namely Dairylea triangles, tiny boxes of Kellogg’s cereals (aka the variety pack) and, best of all, battenberg cake.

Battenberg Cake 2

I developed highly prescriptive methods to be utilised when eating each of these treats. Dairylea triangles must always be consumed in pairs, one thinly spread in a sandwich, cut into neat quarters and one meticulously removed from its tinfoil wrapper and nibbled delicately. The cereal should be consumed dry, straight from the box and by the handful, usually whilst watching cartoons on a Saturday morning.

The Battenberg Ritual

But my favourite ritual involved the battenberg. A single, chunky slice would carefully be peeled, preferably in one perfect sliver of marzipan. Only then could the squares be separated and eaten one at a time, in alternating colours of pink and yellow. People who bite straight into a slice of battenburg frankly freak me out, how can they not know how wrong that is? Admittedly, I may missing out on the combination of flavours that biting off a corner would provide, but I do love a routine. (continue reading…)

Apple & Chilli Chutney

Apple & Chilli Chutney 1

Until today, I’d always lived up to my scaredy cat name and been more than a little terrified of making preserves.  It wasn’t so much making the chutney or jam itself, more the whole process of sterilising jars and keeping everything scrupulously clean.  It always seemed like such a palaver and I was sure I’d mess it up, scold myself with boiling water and  produce a preserve that didn’t last five minutes, rendering the whole thing pointless.

Apple & Chilli Chutney 2

But then I discovered that you don’t have to boil your jars for ages in a humungous pan of water, you can actually perform the whole sterilisation process in a dishwasher on the hottest setting! I had to give it a go. All I already had the perfect beginners recipe.

Apple & Chilli Chutney 3

Back in November, I visited my sister in New York and one lunchtime she presented me with a platter of round slices of toasted french bread, smothered in melted cheddar and served up with this chutney on the side. She’d made the chutney to use up a glut of apples from an apple picking trip to upstate New York and I immediately knew this recipe had to go on the blog. However, a lack of glass jars and me constantly forgetting to order them, combined with my preserving phobia, led to a 3 month time lag. (continue reading…)

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding with Pistachio Praline

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding 1

I’m a little behind on this chia seed thing. (It is still a thing right, I haven’t missed it altogether?)

I’m not good with trends, but in my defence I bought a pack of chia seeds around 6 months ago, had no clue what to do with them and was too lazy to find out. I may have intended to adapt this granola recipe to include them, who knows, but it didn’t happen.  Until last night they were sitting, completely unloved, at the bottom of a drawer full of baking stuff.

Chia Seeds

For those of you out there who haven’t heard about these tiny, super-hyped seeds, they are apparently loaded with fibre, omega 3, calcium and protein along with lots of other nutrients and they also fight belly fat. I had to give them a go.

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding 2

Despite all of their nutritional value, the property I care about here, is their ability to produce a super creamy and decadent pudding that’s healthy but definitely doesn’t feel like a chore to eat.  When you soak the seeds in milk they become slightly jelly-like which makes for an amazing pudding. With the addition of chocolate, you’ve got yourself an amazing dessert or a cheeky little breakfast, and what’s more it’s gluten free and, if you so desire, vegan too! (continue reading…)

Gluten-Free Blueberry Polenta Cake with Lavender Syrup

Gluten Free Blueberry Lavender Polenta Cake 1

I’ve been thinking about this cake all week. Sitting at my desk, occasionally glazing over in front of my spreadsheets and dreaming of sticky, syrupy blueberry cake with a hint of lavender.

Gluten Free Blueberry Lavender Polenta Cake 2

It’s always worrying when you dwell on a recipe so much, without actually having made it, by Friday night the fear of disappointment was upon me. I already felt defeated as I started to whip up the batter and boil the syrup. The overnight wait to test the cake was almost unbearable!

Gluten Free Blueberry Lavender Polenta Cake 3

On saturday morning, after the last photograph had been taken, it was finally time for my first taste. Not to sound immodest, although I often do, but this cake blew me away, pure and simple. (continue reading…)

Vegan and Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies with Almond Butter Swirls

Vegan gluten free black bean brownies 1

When my friend Rebecca comes to stay, I pretend to be a tourist. Together we visit London zoo, art galleries and museums. We wander the streets and admire landmarks, and we also spend a lot of our time on missions to specialist shops and eateries. As Rebecca is, rather stressfully for a keen baker like me, a strict vegan.

Vegan gluten free black bean brownies 2

I’ve come to utterly love our weekends, not least because our Saturday nights are usually finished off with a cocktail or 2. So when she came to stay this weekend I felt she needed a treat, something to sustain her through our endless tourist ramblings. It was time to take on the challenge of vegan baking.

Vegan gluten free black bean brownies 3

There was only one place to go for guidance and that was the wonderful blog, Minimalist Baker. Dana features lots of vegan recipes, all tirelessly tested and tweaked, so I knew she’d see me right. And oh boy, did she! (continue reading…)

Sticky Ginger, Dark Chocolate Dipped, Flapjacks

Ginger, chocolate flapjacks 1

First thing’s first, I must apologise to anyone who clicked though to this post expecting to see some pancakes. Nope these aren’t pancakes, they’re granola bars, but as far as I’m concerned oats, butter and golden syrup = flapjack.  Sorry Americans!

Ginger, chocolate flapjacks 2

My boyfriend’s first and only attempt at baking, and in addition, the first thing he ever cooked for me,  was some coconut and apricot flapjacks. They may have crumbled into tiny shards, but they were utterly scrumptious.  Therefore, flapjacks have a special place in my heart. And then, I saw Nigel Slater dip a flapjack into melted dark chocolate and I almost fainted.

Ginger, chocolate flapjacks 3

So when one of my friends requested a tray bake that could possibly be eaten for breakfast, I knew what had to be done.  Admittedly the addition of chocolate makes these a pretty decadent breakfast but it’s only a thin coating, go on treat yourself! (continue reading…)

Eats, treats and, fingers crossed, some vaguely decent photography.

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