Coconut Macaroons

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Making these macaroons brings back bittersweet memories for me, mainly due to use of conny onny milk (condensed milk). Conny onny was one of my Nan’s favourite foods. She would eat it with a spoon straight out of the tin or have it on butties.

Unfortunately we lost my Nan just over a year ago. She had been poorly for quite a while with vascular dementia so in many ways we lost her a while ago. Dementia is such an insidious illness, not just for the sufferers but for family and friends too. My Nan was quite a character so to see her so diminished was very hard on us. I like to think wherever she is now that she is causing her usual mayhem!

I think of my Nan every day at 6 o’clock, our scheduled phone call time, whenever I use condensed milk or see a chocolate éclair. She once had me convinced that I was losing the plot. I thought I had repeatedly forgotten  to take my homemade chocolate eclairs out of the freezer. What I hadn’t realised is that Nan had been stealing them as soon as they defrosted!

She really was quite a woman!

Ingredients

45g Plain flour

Pinch of salt

225g desiccated coconut

170ml condensed milk

1tsp vanilla extract

rice paper

a little melted chocolate (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 160 C fan
  2. Line sheets with rice paper
  3. Mix all the remaining ingredients together to make a vey thick paste
  4. Using a dessert spoon or a small ice cream scoop place heaps of mixture onto the rice paper, leaving a little space between each.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes  or until golden brown.
  6. Allow to cool on the tray.
  7. Snap off the excess rice paper around each macaroon.
  8. Drizzle with melted chocolate. 

Greek Coconut cake

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We all have those people that enter our lives, becoming firm friends then through no fault on any part drift apart. There is nothing better than rekindling those friendships years later. I have one such friend, Angela. This blog is dedicated to her.

Last Saturday, Angela hosted a Greek themed dinner party. Whilst Angela provided the main course, I provided the dessert, Baklava and Ravani or Greek Coconut cake. The meal was accompanied by several bottles of prosecco and lots of laughter. To round the evening off we put on the Sing-a-long version of Mama Mia and belted out some classics! Gimme, gimme a man after midnight will never be the same again. Not to mention Angie busting out her clubbersize moves to Voulez Vous! We might be over 40 but we know how to party!

You know it is a good night when you find yourself confronted by your son and grounded for being late home!

This cake is a light, refreshing dessert and an absolute doddle to make.

Cake Ingredients

4 eggs, separated

2 cups of margarine

2 cups of caster sugar

1 cup of plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups of desiccated coconut

2 tsp orange oil

 Syrup Ingredients

1.5 cups of icing sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

0.5 cup of water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C  / 160C fan
  2. Grease and base line a 10 inch round deep cake tin.
  3. Cream the marge and sugar together until light and fluffy
  4. Beat in the egg yolks and orange oil
  5. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with a pinch of sugar until you have stiff peaks.
  6. Fold a third of the egg whites and dry ingredients into the batter
  7. Continue until all the whites and dry ingredients are incorporated.
  8. Bake in the prepared tin for 1 -1 hour 15min or until cooked through when tested with a skewer.
  9. Allow to cool slightly in the tin.
  10. Boil all the syrup ingredients together for 5 -10 minutes or until the syrup is slightly thickened.
  11. Spoon the syrup over cake, allowing each spoonful to be absorbed into the cake. I find spreading the syrup over the cake with a pastry brush stops the syrup pooling at the edges.

This cake is gorgeous with vanilla ice cream but would work just as well with Greek yogurt.

 

 

Red Velvet and Cream Cheese Brownies

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I came across a version of this brownie many years ago and genuinely wasn’t sure what to make of it apart from the fact that I liked it. I’m not a lover of red velvet cakes as a rule but I do love cheesecake and am partial to the odd brownie. This recipe covers all of them. It always reminds me of a volcanic eruption to look at but it tastes divine!

Ingredients

6oz margarine

3oz dark chocolate, chopped

12oz caster sugar

3 free range eggs

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp red food colouring gel

10oz SR flour

05 tsp salt

12oz cream cheese (I got rid of any excess water but straining the cheese in a muslin cloth overnight)

4oz caster sugar

1 free range egg

1tsp vanilla extract.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C /160C fan
  2. Line a traybake tin with baking parchment.
  3. Melt the butter and chocolate together then allow to cool slightly.
  4. Beat the eggs, sugar, food colouring and vanilla together
  5. Add the cooled chocolate
  6. Mix in the flour and salt. The mixture should be RED
  7. Pour into the prepared tin.
  8. Beat the cheese, egg, vanilla and sugar to form a custard.
  9. Pour over the brownie mixture then swirl together with a butter knife.
  10. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

 

 

Peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes

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It has been a long time since I’ve had a minute to write a new blog. It has been a tad chaotic here. I have gone into partnership with one of my friends, Leanne, who is also one of my sugarcraft students. We have opened our own Sugarcraft school! Everything happened really quickly! From making the decision, getting the funding and then literally building our kitchen and classroom from scratch!

It has been really hard work but I love it! I have space to work on my cakes and we can teach what we what, when we want!

This little recipe is a personal favourite of mine. As I’ve mentioned before I’m not a fan of cupcakes but this one I like. The peanut butter frosting is absolutely divine!

The combination of soft, rich chocolate sponge and the salty, sweet peanut buttercream is very reminiscent of Reese’s Peanut Buttercups. Naughty but nice!

Ingredients

  • Cupcakes
  • 110g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, free range
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 75g plain flour
  • 50g good quality cocoa powder
  • 120ml milk
  • 1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
  • Peanut Butter Frosting
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 140g peanut butter (smooth is easier for piping)
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
  • a splash of milk
  1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan
  2. line a muffin tin with cupcake cases
  3. The cupcakes are made with the all in one method so shove everything in a bowl and mix together until you have a smooth batter.
  4. Use an ice-cream scoop to portion the mixture into the cupcake cakes
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool completely before icing.
  7. To make the buttercream beat all the ingredients together and mix until lovely and smooth. You may need to add a touch more milk if the icing is a little on the stiff side.

Lardy Cake

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I have lived away from my hometown, Worcester, longer than I ever lived there! I left home at 18 to go to University in Liverpool and apart from holidays I haven’t lived at home since.You would think by now I would have stopped getting homesick but that simply is not the case. I miss  my family, Worcester cathedral, walking down the Shambles, even getting stuck in the one way system! Worcester is currently severely flooded due to the River Severn and the River Teme bursting their banks. The video below shows the extent of the flooding which is shocking.

One of the silly things I miss from home is Lardy cake! I was brought up on it. There is a tiny little bakery on Broad Street that make wonderful cottage loaves and the best lardy cake in the entire world! I always buy them when I go home.

This recipe is an homage to the lardy cakes from my childhood. They are slightly different from the ones from home because they are baked a little like a Chelsea bun where as the traditional ones are made in huge slabs. They might not look the same but they certainly taste like the lardy cakes I know  and love.

As the name suggests they are traditionally made with lard but you can just as easily use a vegetable fat alternative such as Trex if you like.

If you fancy having a go at making these, do it on a day when you have plenty of time as they need to rest and prove a couple of times. They are not difficult to make, however.

Ingredients

  • 1lb strong white flour
  • 1 level tsp salt
  • 1 oz lard or Trex
  • 2oz caster sugar
  • 1 oz fresh yeast or 1 sachet of fast acting dried yeast
  • 0.5 Pt warm milk
  • 4oz raisins
  • 4oz currants
  • 4oz sultanas
  • 6oz lard
  • 6oz soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp mixed spice

Method

  1. Sieve the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl
  2. Rub in the lard.
  3. Mix together in a jug the sugar, yeast and warm milk
  4. Make a well in the flour mixture and mix in the milk to a smooth paste
  5. Transfer to a greased bowl and cover with oiled cling film.
  6. Put somewhere warm and allow to prove for 30 minutes.
  7. Knead in the fruit and allow to rest for 10 minutes, covered with the cling film.
  8. Mix together the sugar, lard and spice.
  9. Roll out the dough into a long rectangle.
  10. Spread the filling mixture over 2/3 of the dough.
  11. Fold the unfilled 1/3 into the middle and then bring the lower filled 1/3 over the top.
  12. Roll out into a rectangle again then roll into a swiss roll shape.
  13. Cut into 1 inch chunks, turn them over and place swirl side up into a lined 10 inch square cake tin.
  14. Cover with oiled cling film and allow to prove for 40 minutes
  15. Bake in a preheated oven (200C/180C fan/ gas mark 6) for 30 minutes. Check after 20 minutes and cover with foil if it is browning too much.
  16. Remove from the oven and turn out immediately onto a cooling rack.

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.

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!