Spiced pear and dark chocolate teabread

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I have a ridiculous number of books in my house, ranging from making sugar fairies to Tietz Clinical Biochemistry! The overwhelming number, however, are cookery books, particularly baking books. I have bookcases lining the main wall in my dining room, a bookcase on the landing, one in my bedroom, one in Ben’s room, two in the spare room and even one in the attic!

The majority of my cookery books have little pieces of paper in them showing me were my favourite recipes are. This recipe is result of pinching ideas from a number of books. It is deliciously moreish, looks lovely and works equally well as a pudding with a dollop of cream.

Ingredients:

  • 6 ripe conference pears
  • 12oz SR flour
  • 9oz margarine
  • 9oz caster sugar
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 4oz dark chocolate chunks
  • 0.5 freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C /160C fan /gas mark 4. Line 2 bread tins.
  2. Peel, core and dice THREE pears.
  3. Cream the caster sugar and margarine together.
  4. Beat in the eggs
  5. Mix in the flour and spices
  6. Add the diced pear and chocolate.
  7. Peel, core and slice the remaining pears.
  8. Divide the mixture between the bread tins then place pear slices across the top.
  9. Push the slices slightly into the mixture
  10. Bake for 45-55 minutes.
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Mincemeat and Marzipan Teabread

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I guess many of you, like me, still have the odd bits left over from Christmas. The chocolates, admittedly, are long gone but I did have a large unopened jar of mincemeat  that I had intended for mince pies but then never got round to making them. Everytime I opened the cupboard door the mincemeat berated me for neglecting it! I can across this recipe in a Good Food recipe book a couple of years ago but felt it needed tinkering with so tinker I did.

The Good Food recipe called for diced marzipan but I felt it got lost during the baking so I went for a Stollen approach with a layer of marzipan running through the cake. I added a bit of spice and prettied it up with flaked almonds. The resulting cake is moist and flavour packed and gorgeous with a cuppa after a long walk with the dogs.

This recipe makes 2 x 1kg (2lb) teabreads which keep well in an airtight container but freeze well too.

Ingredients

  • 1lb self raising flour
  • 8oz cold butter
  • 6oz light brown sugar
  • 10oz marzipan
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 600g mincemeat
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 0.5tsp mixed spice
  • handful of flaked almonds

Method

  1. preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/gas mark 4
  2. Line 2 x 1kg (2lb) loaf tins
  3. Rub together the flour, butter, spices and sugar until they resemble breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the eggs and mincemeat and mix well.
  5. spoon a layer of mixture into each loaf tin.
  6. Roll out the marzipan until it is approximately 1 cm thick and add a layer to each tin. (I used the bottom of the tins as a template so that the marzipan fitted perfectly)
  7. Divide the remaining mixture between the tins.
  8. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the mixtures
  9. Bake in the oven for approximately an hour (cover with foil part way through if the cakes start to brown too quickly). Remember that when testing with a skewer the marzipan will

Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

DSCF6069Like most Mums I think that the hardest thing that I have to deal with is seeing my son in pain. Ben is 16 now and suffers from Chronic Pain syndrome. He took the very brave decision to drop back an academic school year and repeat Year 10 due to the amount of time he missed from school last year.

I am so proud of my son because not only is he keeping up with his studies and doing his GCSE examination but he is managing to do this on a few hours sleep every night, very potent medication and varying levels of pain, from bearable to not being able to walk and screaming all night long! Most people don’t realise quite what Ben has to go through on a day-to-day basis.

We don’t have much spare money, I gave up a full-time teaching job to look after him and now make wedding and celebration cakes from home. Consequently if Ben wants a treat, a meal out or a new game for his X-box, he has to wait until I have sold a cake or two.

My way of treating Ben is to let him choose what baking he wants me to do. Usually it is chocolate chip cookies but this week he asked for whoopie pies. I can’t take credit for this recipe as I found it in the Hummingbird Bakery’s “Cake Days” recipe book. I did, however, switch their natural yoghurt and milk for buttermilk as I had some that needed using up.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 75g melted margarine
  • 275g plain flour
  • 0.75 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 0.25 tsp baking powder
  • 150g chocolate chips (I used a mixture of milk and dark)

Icing 

  • 170g butter
  • 2Tbs cocoa
  • 280g icing sugar
  • 220g vanilla marshmallow fluff

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C / 150C fan
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper
  3. Beat the egg and sugar together until pale and fluffy
  4. Slowly add the buttermilk, margarine and vanilla to the eggs
  5. Add the dry ingredients
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips
  7. Heap large spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking tray, allowing plenty of room for the mixture to spread. (I used and ice cream scoop but I think it was too big as the pies were HUGE!)
  8. Bake for 10-13 min then cool on a rack.
  9. Beat the icing ingredients together then pop in the fridge to firm up a little.
  10. Use the icing to sandwich the pies together. I made 6 pies but I think 10 is a better number as mine really were massive!

A Cakewell

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As you know I do love having a bit of a play in the kitchen. It’s the scientist in me! Sometimes my experiments are a success (chocolate pizza, springs to mind!) and others less so. My intention for this cake was to make a rainbow cake for my Sugarcraft class but I discovered once I was half way through weighing everything out that the extra bag of flour that I thought was in the stock room I had actual opened 2 days before! Not to be put off and very aware that my ladies would never forgive me if I arrived to class empty-handed, I had a bit of a rethink.

I’ve made my version of Bakewell tart before and it always goes down well but I had already weighted out the ingredients for a cake. I had a bit of a brain wave and decided to combine the two. And OMG, it was bloody gorgeous”

I used a standard Victoria sponge with a frangipane middle layer sandwiched together with my home-made jumbleberry jam and decorated with traditional feathered glacé icing. If you are not confident of your feathering ability you could just as easily sprinkle flaked almonds onto the sponge mix before popping it in the oven to bake.

Ingredients

Sponge

  • 6 oz margarine
  • 6 oz caster sugar
  • 6 oz SR flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 free range eggs

Frangipane

  • 5 oz ground almonds
  • 2 oz margarine
  • 5 oz caster sugar
  • 0.25 – 0.5 tsp almond extract (I like to really taste the almonds)
  • 3 free range eggs
  • Jam of choice
  • Flaked almonds or glacé icing (4 oz icing sugar and a little water) to decorate.

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C / 160C fan / gas mark 4.
  2. Grease and line 3 x  8 inch round sandwich tins
  3. Beat all the sponge ingredients together in a mixer until smooth
  4. Divide between 2 of the tins and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
  6. Beat all the frangipane ingredients together and turn into the remaining tin
  7. Bake for 20-30 minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  8. Once the sponges and frangipane are completely cool, sandwich them together with your chosen jam and decorate with glacé icing