Monday, 16 April 2012

I'm back Baby! Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pie



It's been a while, hasn't it? You may be wondering where I've been, why I stopped writing my beloved blog, what happened to me. Or maybe you're not, but the answer is simple.

I went off food (cue gasps of horror from my fellow foodies).

I couldn't face the thought of cooking even to satisfy mine and my husbands basic need for nutrition, never mind for fun. I just didnt fancy anything to eat, and if I did eat, I generally felt a little bit sick. And then, when I managed to cook something worth writing about, I barely had the energy to log onto blogger nor the imagination to make it witty, entertaining or informative. My mind was completely elsewhere.

Now, all the mums out there probably have a light bulb pinging above t your heads as you realise what's going on here. Yes, you guessed it, in February I had a beautiful, beautiful Baby Boy (if I was the type to have smilies in my blog, I'd pop one in here!).

My baby boy, 7 weeks old
You may now be wondering why I didn't write about my pregnancy and how that affected my love for food and I'll be honest and say my innermost thoughts about my pregnancy were not something I wanted to share with people I didn't know. I wouldn't have minded sharing something basic and primitive; heck, my bump pictures went to everyone I knew, but that wouldn't have made nine months of blog posts. How I felt inside, my fears, my upas and down,s now that would have made some interesting posts, but it just didnt feel right. Iwas also in shock for the first eight months!! I was terrified about what was happening to me, to us. It all happened a little quickly and took me by surprise (strange really as I know all about the birds and the bees). Let me explain - last May, my husband and I thought 'maybe we should think think about starting a family'.... Baby Boy came along in February. You do that math. To say I was taken aback was an understatement and it took until I held my baby for the first time to realise what it meant to me. It meant the World then. I can't even put into words what it means to me now.

So, now you maybe wondering, given the enormity of bringing a child into the World, what on Earth made me decide to write my first post back in the world of Blogging about a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pie (I'm wondering that that myself right now as I can't abide peanut butter. I digress). Not exactly Earth shattering stuff to anyone else but it is to me. Let me explain.

Having a baby puts a strain on every single relationship you have. Your parents, your friends, your boss, but most importantly and significantly, your partner. Whilst pregnant, I read article after article telling me to be prepared for the worst to hit us. Your relationship will change, they said. You will fall of of love (albeit temporarily), they advised. You wont have time for each other, they preached. On the first point, they were (unsurprisingly) quite right. It has changed, but for us, it's for the better. The decisions we make together as parents have given us confidence in each other, the way my husband is with our little boy fills me with awe, as does his complete and utter devotion to us. I love that he gives his time to us and looks after him without being asked, or even hinted at, so I can have some time back given the all consuming nature of having a newborn. Most recently, he took our baby boy whilst telling me I had to get back to my blog. He knew how much I missed it and he let me have that time for the newborn fog to clear and re-discover my love for food.  
My Boys

A big part of cooking for me is feeding those you love and for that reason, I chose to make something I knew he would adore, as a thank you for him just being him. A massive treat , even though it's not at the top of my wish list for a pudding. But one bite of this and I wonder what I don't like about it. I think it's just the thought of the peanut butter. I hate the cloying consistancy for a start, but this delicious pie takes away that particular consistency and leaves behind that crunchy texture and gloriously peanutty taste that I have to admit, I rather like. Add to that some of the best dark chocolate, double chocolate chip cookies and a mountain of cream, and what's not to love? Just don't think about the calories (pah, who cares about Baby Weight anyway?)

I wrote once that in a years time I wanted to change my life... I didn't for a second think it would change in this way but my God, am I pleased it has.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pie
(Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook).


  • 250g double chocolate chip cookies
  • 40g unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • 160g caster suagr
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 500ml milk
  • 180g peanut butter
  • 120g dark chocolate
  • 250ml double cream
For the topping
  • 350ml double cream
  • 50g icing sugar
  • Grated dark chocolate to decorate

1. In a food processor, whizz the cookies to crumbs, before adding the butter and whizzing again to combine. Tip into a 20cm tin and push down into an even layer covering the base of the tine, with the back of a spoon. (A springform tin gives the neatest finish, but I couldn't find mine so used a loose bottom tin. Just expect the finished product to not have such defined layers until you cut into it). Chill for 30 minutes.

2. Whilst chilling, start the filling. Mix together the egg yolks and milk and tip into a saucepan containing the cornflour and caster sugar. Place over a low heat and bring slowly to the boil, stirring all the time. As it reaches boiling point it will thicken and look like wallpaper paste, which is exactly what you are looking for. Take off the heat and stir in the peanut butter.

3. Take half of the mixture and pour over the chocolate. Stir until the warm mixture has melted the chocolate and you have a chocolately/peanutty gloopy mass. Pour this on top of your biscuit base, smooth out and cover with cling film (push the cling film into the tin to rest of your topping. It wont stick, it will just stop a skin forming. Pop back in the fridge for another 40 minutes.

4. Cover the remaining peanut butter mixture with cling film as before and leave to cool. Once cool, whip the cream to soft peak consistency and fold into the remaining peanut mixture. Pour this on top of your chilled chocolate and pop back in the fridge for a further 50 minutes.

5. Finally, to make the topping, whip the cream together with the icing sugar, again to soft peak, and spread across the top of your pie and top with the grated chocolate.

Now, you can serve the pie straight away, but it will benefit for being in the fridge overnight. Besides, you wont fancy the pie straight away as you'll feel sick from all of the spoon licking you've just done. Don't try to tell me you didn't. I know you did.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Boys Christening Cake

OK, I realise I'm a little late with this boastful blog post, but you'll be pleased to hear it's another short but sweet entry. It's so late because I was waiting for my wonderful husband to give me the SD card for the camera on which I was sure to find some glorious pictures of my creation. But no, while I was carrying out my Godmotherly duties, he forgot. How lovely. So, All I have is this terrible picture of the case I made for my gorgeous Godson on his Christening.... It doesn't do it justice, I know....

(The Gin in the background was to sterilise the cake board.... I don't have a problem, honestly!)

Until next time...

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Baby Girl Christening Cake

It's a Girl! Actually, it was three girls for my friends sister and she asked me to make three cute christening cakes. How could I say no!?

I didn't of course, and I spent a good while over the last month or so fashioning the decorations for three identical cakes, the only difference being the flavour of each, and the names.

It was a labour of love, but just to show off, here's one of them.



And that's if from me today! This is nothing more than a post to show off something I'm proud of.... and there is another show off post tomorrow.

Until next time.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

I'm alive! And living the dream with the Ultimate Chicken Sarnie

It's been a good couple of weeks, maybe more, since I lasted posted - very unlike me. I've been a bit poorly with a kidney infection and feeling well and truly sorry for myself and, frankly, just not in the mood for food (shock, horror I hear fellow foodies exclaim!).

I'm still quite poorly but am missing my blog, so I'm taking advantage of the fact that I'm actually fancying something to eat rather than eating to basically to survive, and writing about it.

I was quite dissapointed with myself to realise that what I really, really, really wanted was a simple chicken sandwich. Not only would I not be able to write something decent about a humble sarnie, but it wouldn't satiate my desire to ramble on about the food I dream up and cook. So I got creative. What if I make the ULTIMATE chicken sandwich?

With an idea forming, I reached for the yeast and made a basic sandwich dough, made to the adapted recipe of Michel Roux Jr. that can be found here, but instead of plonking it in a loaf tin once risen and knocked back, I made a large round... what!? Now this is where the arguments start.

Is it a Muffin? Bun? Cob? Barm Cake? For arguments sake, I'm going with bread roll, but do let me know your regions variation in the comments below.

This Ultimate Sandwich was made for Sunday tea time using left over roast chicken and served four, but the possibilities are endless. Imagine this - You’re hung over. The bread is fresh and stuffed with bacon, sausage, friend egg, tomatoes, mushrooms…. Mmmm… A perfect hangover cure.

This sandwich does mean you end up with a hunk of bread from the middle of the roll that could potentially go to waste. I either make breadcrumbs and freeze, bake it to make croutons, dunk it in soup or make Nigella’s bread salad.

I know you don’t need a recipe for a sandwich, but please, indulge me. Traditional, wholesome, fresh, English. What’s not to love? Read it and weep my friends. And could you ask for more when trying to get your appetite back?

Bea’s Best Bap – My Ultimate Sandwich


Ultimate Chicken Sarnie - perfect for a pick me up or a picnic
  • Half of Michel Roux Jrs Bread recipe, shaped into a large roll, baked and cooled
  • Half a bag of spinach, rocket and water cress salad
  • 250 ml tub of crème fraiche
  • Leftover roast chicken (Mine has lemon, garlic and herbs up its bum before being covered in butter and roasted at 180 for 1 hour 20 mins for a 1.5kg bird).
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • Avocado, sliced (only if you are serving immediately)
  • 4 slices cooked smoked bacon

1. Cut the top off of the large bread roll off and dig the bread from the inside to leave you with a bowl.

2. In a food processor, whizz the salad with the crème fraiche (adding lemon juice to taste if you have some to hand). Spread a third of the mixture over the bottom of the bread.

3. Layer the chicken and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, spread another third of the crème fraiche mixture over the tomatoes and finish by layering the avocado and finally, the bacon.

4. Place the ‘lid’ back on the bread bowl and carve into wedges.

Enjoy!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

For The Love of Nutella - Chocolate and Hazlenut Muffins

Nutella, nothing makes my heart warmer, my teeth stickier. It's my not-so-guilty secret and I'll let you into another secret. A confession, if you will.  


Imagine this.  It's a bad day at work and thankfully I'm working from home and it's about 5.25pm when I'm thinking about packing up and going for a walk. The phone rings. Last call of the day, I tell myself, then I'm off.

So I answer it and the shouting begins. Let me be clear, it wasn't at me as such, more in my general direction about the general state of the World in which we work, but clearly it's all my fault. Throw in world hunger and poverty and we'd have had the full set, apparently. Much as I tried to get a word in edgeways, it was never going to happen so, I put the phone on speaker and raided the cupboards to dig out my trusty jar of Nutella and a very big spoon.  I sat back down and I ate. I ate, listened (ish) and took responsibility as I consoled myself in the depths of the nutty, silky, so-bad-it's-good jar of spread. I don't know how much I got through but needless to say that 1kg jar of Nutella didn't last the household very much longer. And it hadn't been open for long before my 'episode' either.

Nutella-gate 1 with Tess

I know.  It's bad, but worse is that, this wasn't my first time. The first time this happened I wasn't alone. It wasn't even sparked by the need to console myself. This time it wasn't personal. This time it was a joint effort. I hate to name and shame, but my friend Tess and I got through a whole 1 KG jar. In one night.

It all started with a few drinks one sunny day in Dusseldorf. That German beer is strong and by the time it came to get ready to go out for dinner, frankly, we just couldn't be bothered and decided to make the most of the weather with a barbecue on Tessa's sunny balcony. We went off in search of meat and along the way, we found waffles and, 'Oh Look, Nutella! Wouldn't they be lovely together!', we exclaimed? (Waffles and Nutella that is, not meat and Nutella... although.... - another day, another post). And would you know, the 1kg pot was on offer and it seemed daft not to. And that's always how it starts.


Along with our meat, waffles and Nutella, we grabbed a couple of bottles of wine and sensibly had a lovely meat barbecue. Not so sensibly, we dismissed the waffles with the flick of a wrist and hit the Nutella with a spoon, while we sat on the balcony, talking, laughing, eating, drinking.  

We Ate. The Whole. Blimmin. Thing.

But what can you do? We all have our weaknesses. And Nutella's mine!

So when I was flicking through the new Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book and clumsily dropped it, I just had to make the Hazlenut and Chocolate Cupcakes the booked opened at as it hit the floor.  Surely it was a sign?

So the recipe below is not mine.  It's adapted from the book (and only ever so slightly changed to be fair).  They are cupcakes in the book but to all intents and purposes these are muffins in my mind, and muffins they shall be.

And how indulgent a muffin can you get!? I think they are actually made of magic - certainly my husband thought so when he couldn't figure out how the squidgy Nutella got in the middle of the muffiin in the first place (tut, roll eyes. Men.)  And please, please serve these warm - the Nutella is gorgeously runny then.

Please don't judge me.  I licked the spoon.  And the bowl.  And ate four in one go.

To save my soul from Fat Camp, I made only six (otherwise I'd have eaten more), and the recipe below reflects this.  

Chocolate and Hazlenut Muffins



  • 150g plain flour
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 125ml whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 40g melted butter
  • 75g Nutella
  • 15g hazelnuts, left whole of chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180 and line a muffin tin with cases

2. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a mixer, with the paddle attached,

3. Whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla in a jug and, with the mixer on slow, add the wet ingredients into the dry. Scrape the bowl with a spatula to catch all the ingredients then mix on medium - high until combined. Add the butter and mix a little more.

4. Add 40g of Nutella to the batter and mix thoroughly.

5. Spoon the batter into the cases until a quarter full. Put a teaspoon of the remaining Nutella in each case, on top of the batter and then add the remaining batter so each case is 2/3s full.

6. Sprinkle over the chopped nuts and bake for 25-30 minutes until they are risen and bounce back when pressed.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Let Us Eat Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes, and the Story of a Beautiful Wedding

I love the summer. I love lovely summer weddings, even more lovely when they are for your brother-in-law and his gorgeous fiancée-now-wife. They are even more lovely (if it were possible) when they are held in France in the beautiful countryside of Brittany, Dinard to be precise. And that's where I've been and explains my lack of blogging and tweeting. I'm sorry, but then I did have a good reason.  I was eating cake and drinking champagne.

And so with a lovely summer wedding comes a blog post. 


Dave & Barbara
What was't so lovely was the weather, which was just as temperamental as it is here in Blighty (I was quite pleased that it's not just us afterall!). My word did it rain. It rained when we got off the plane, as we were driving through Brittany, as we were climbing the steps into tree houses (yes, you read that right - although hubs and I were in a hotel room - relief! Running Water! I'm not a girl that takes kindly to camping in a tree).  It rained as we ate a wonderful dinner in a creperie with our friends and family.... but as the owner of the hotel said that night, 'for every rain drop that falls today, it will not fall tomorrow'. Was he going to be right?

It seemed so; we woke the following day to clear blue skies and glorious sunshine. Would it hold so Dave and Babs would get the French countryside wedding they dreamed of?

The wedding in the Town Hall of Dinard was followed by a marriage ceremony in the local church, only a five minute walk away.   Yes, you are guessing right dear reader.  It rained as we were leaving the town hall. Actually, It THREW it down. I had no cover, no brollie, no cardi - but I was soon warmed by the sight of Barbara walking down the aisle; what a sight! A Babs was beautiful bride, looking stunning and chic.  The rain slowed and held off throughout the most beautiful wedding ceremony I've been to, and we were warmed by the thought of these two people celebrating their love, committing themselves and growing old together. The rain that threatened the rest of the day ceased to matter.

The rain came back as we drove to the reception venue but it became clear that someone was looking over this pair. The sky cleared as they got out of the car and the sun shone for their photographs. And the guests? Well, we were soon warmed through with the wonderful fare laid on for us.

Sushi, Prawns, Squid, Oh My!
Champagne, Cocktails, Oysters, Oh My!

Champagne at the reception
And that was just to start whilst mingling with other guests looking at the frankly stunning table settings, resplendent with pink and white flowers intertwined through the spokes of vintage bird cages, with little pots of strawberry jam made by the brides mother for favours (needless to say, I cleared the tables of leftover jam the next morning!)

Champagne soaked, we took our seats for the Wedding Breakfast of Veal, and we munched our way through mountains of fresh French bread. Yes, yes, it was delicious, but I was impatient for the cheese that was to follow. Oh how I love cheese. Brie, goats and emmental cheese were served with yet more fresh bread. For the first time that day, I was quiet as I munched and savoured. So. Good. Finally, Wedding cake and fruit rounded off a delicious meal. The slice of cake I ate was almost embarrassingly large. But not quite embarrassingly enough as I polished the lot off, complete with an icing rose..... I was sure my dress would split.

So there you have it, the tale of a Wedding in France where the rain didn't dampen our spirits and the beautiful couple had the time of their lives.

And I ate cake.

Speaking of cake (seamless link), I was chuffed to see that Random Recipes this month from Dom at Bealleau Kitchen was to randomly choose a recipe from the cookery book most recently given to you as a gift. What wonderful luck it was that it was my birthday in May and my gorgeous friend, Ellen, gave me the new offering from The Hummingbird Bakery 'Cake Days' as a part of my gift (thanks Love, it's gorgeous!).

My way of choosing randomly is to flick the book and get my hubs to shout 'STOP'.  It was at this point that I happened across these delicately beautiful looking Raspberry Trifle cupcakes, leaving hubs grinning - trifle is his favourite. I then managed to drop the book and it fell open on the Chocolate Hazelnut cupcakes. Oh what a shame! Clearly, in the spirit of the challenge, I had to make both! Any excuse eh?

So we'll start with the trifle cupcakes, not only because they were first I randomly chose, but because they go beautifully with the pink and vintage colour scheme at Dave and Barbara's wedding.

Congratulations Darlings x

Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes

Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes

This recipe is adapted from 'The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days'.  I made a couple of changes from the original recipe. I can't help myself.  In addition, the recipe below makes 6.  The original recipe makes 12.  

For the Cake
  • 40g soft unsalted butter
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 large egg

For the Filling and Topping
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 15g plain flour
  • 15g cornflour
  • 100ml double cream
  • 12 fresh raspberries
  • 50g raspberry jam

Note: the first 6 ingredients of the 'Filling and topping ingredients make a custard.  You could cheat and buy ready made fresh custard... which when I make these again I will do. 

1. Preheat the oven to 180 and line a cupcake tin with cupcake wrappers.

2. With the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt on a slow speed until the ingredients are mixed and look like breadcrumbs.

3. In a jug, whisk together the milk, vanilla, and eggs by hand and pour 3/4 into the dry ingredients with the mixer on a slow speed.  Once incorporated add the rest of the liquid. scrape the sides of the mixer bowl with a spatula to make sure it is all mixed and beat until combined and smooth.

4. Divide between the cases and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden and bounce back when pressed.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.

5. If you are making your own custard, place the milk and vanilla in saucepan and bring to the boil.  Meanwhile, mix the egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornflour to make a paste, adding a little hot milk to thin if needed.

6. When the milk has boiled, remove from the heat and mix 2 tablespoons of milk with the egg mixture and then pour it all back into the remaining milk.  Return to the heat and bring to the boil, whisking continuously and continue to boil for another minute to cook the flours.  Pour the custard into a bowl and leave until cool covered with cling film (about 40 minutes).

7.  Nearly there. Beat the cooled custard to get rid of any lumps and in a separate bowl, whisk the cream until soft peaks.  Fold the whipped cream into the custard.

8. Make a hollow about 2cm across and 3cm deep in the cakes, keeping the cut out sponge.  Place a raspberry in each hole, top with half a tsp of jam and half a tsp of the custard mixture.  Trim the cake and place back in the hole so it is level with the rest of the cake.  Top with a swirl of the custard frosting and top with a fresh raspberry.

Enjoy!

Let Us Eat Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes, and the Story of a Beautiful Wedding

I love the summer. I love lovely summer weddings, even more lovely when they are for your brother-in-law and his gorgeous fiancée-now-wife. They are even more lovely (if it were possible) when they are held in France in the beautiful countryside of Brittany, Dinard to be precise. And that's where I've been and explains my lack of blogging and tweeting. I'm sorry, but then I did have a good reason.  I was eating cake and drinking champagne.

And so with a lovely summer wedding comes a blog post. 


Dave & Barbara
What was't so lovely was the weather, which was just as temperamental as it is here in Blighty (I was quite pleased that it's not just us afterall!). My word did it rain. It rained when we got off the plane, as we were driving through Brittany, as we were climbing the steps into tree houses (yes, you read that right - although hubs and I were in a hotel room - relief! Running Water! I'm not a girl that takes kindly to camping in a tree).  It rained as we ate a wonderful dinner in a creperie with our friends and family.... but as the owner of the hotel said that night, 'for every rain drop that falls today, it will not fall tomorrow'. Was he going to be right?

It seemed so; we woke the following day to clear blue skies and glorious sunshine. Would it hold so Dave and Babs would get the French countryside wedding they dreamed of?

The wedding in the Town Hall of Dinard was followed by a marriage ceremony in the local church, only a five minute walk away.   Yes, you are guessing right dear reader.  It rained as we were leaving the town hall. Actually, It THREW it down. I had no cover, no brollie, no cardi - but I was soon warmed by the sight of Barbara walking down the aisle; what a sight! A Babs was beautiful bride, looking stunning and chic.  The rain slowed and held off throughout the most beautiful wedding ceremony I've been to, and we were warmed by the thought of these two people celebrating their love, committing themselves and growing old together. The rain that threatened the rest of the day ceased to matter.

The rain came back as we drove to the reception venue but it became clear that someone was looking over this pair. The sky cleared as they got out of the car and the sun shone for their photographs. And the guests? Well, we were soon warmed through with the wonderful fare laid on for us.

Sushi, Prawns, Squid, Oh My!
Champagne, Cocktails, Oysters, Oh My!

Champagne at the reception
And that was just to start whilst mingling with other guests looking at the frankly stunning table settings, resplendent with pink and white flowers intertwined through the spokes of vintage bird cages, with little pots of strawberry jam made by the brides mother for favours (needless to say, I cleared the tables of leftover jam the next morning!)

Champagne soaked, we took our seats for the Wedding Breakfast of Veal, and we munched our way through mountains of fresh French bread. Yes, yes, it was delicious, but I was impatient for the cheese that was to follow. Oh how I love cheese. Brie, goats and emmental cheese were served with yet more fresh bread. For the first time that day, I was quiet as I munched and savoured. So. Good. Finally, Wedding cake and fruit rounded off a delicious meal. The slice of cake I ate was almost embarrassingly large. But not quite embarrassingly enough as I polished the lot off, complete with an icing rose..... I was sure my dress would split.

So there you have it, the tale of a Wedding in France where the rain didn't dampen our spirits and the beautiful couple had the time of their lives.

And I ate cake.

Speaking of cake (seamless link), I was chuffed to see that Random Recipes this month from Dom at Bealleau Kitchen was to randomly choose a recipe from the cookery book most recently given to you as a gift. What wonderful luck it was that it was my birthday in May and my gorgeous friend, Ellen, gave me the new offering from The Hummingbird Bakery xxx as a part of my gift (thanks Love, it's gorgeous!).

My way of choosing randomly is to flick the book and get my hubs to shout 'STOP'.  It was at this point that I happened across these delicately beautiful looking Raspberry Trifle cupcakes, leaving hubs grinning - trifle is his favourite. I then managed to drop the book and it fell open on the Chocolate Hazelnut cupcakes. Oh what a shame! Clearly, in the spirit of the challenge, I had to make both! Any excuse eh?

So we'll start with the trifle cupcakes, not only because they were first I randomly chose, but because they go beautifully with the pink and vintage colour scheme at Dave and Barbara's wedding.

Congratulations Darlings x

Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes

Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes

This recipe is adapted from 'The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook'.  I made a couple of changes from the original recipe. I can't help myself.  In addition, the recipe below makes 6.  The original recipe makes 12.  

For the Cake
  • 40g soft unsalted butter
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 large egg

For the Filling and Topping
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 15g plain flour
  • 15g cornflour
  • 100ml double cream
  • 12 fresh raspberries
  • 50g raspberry jam

Note: the first 6 ingredients of the 'Filling and topping ingredients make a custard.  You could cheat and buy ready made fresh custard... which when I make these again I will do. 

1. Preheat the oven to 180 and line a cupcake tin with cupcake wrappers.

2. With the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt on a slow speed until the ingredients are mixed and look like breadcrumbs.

3. In a jug, whisk together the milk, vanilla, and eggs by hand and pour 3/4 into the dry ingredients with the mixer on a slow speed.  Once incorporated add the rest of the liquid. scrape the sides of the mixer bowl with a spatula to make sure it is all mixed and beat until combined and smooth.

4. Divide between the cases and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden and bounce back when pressed.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.

5. If you are making your own custard, place the milk and vanilla in saucepan and bring to the boil.  Meanwhile, mix the egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornflour to make a paste, adding a little hot milk to thin if needed.

6. When the milk has boiled, remove from the heat and mix 2 tablespoons of milk with the egg mixture and then pour it all back into the remaining milk.  Return to the heat and bring to the boil, whisking continuously and continue to boil for another minute to cook the flours.  Pour the custard into a bowl and leave until cool covered with cling film (about 40 minutes).

7.  Nearly there. Beat the cooled custard to get rid of any lumps and in a separate bowl, whisk the cream until soft peaks.  Fold the whipped cream into the custard.

8. Make a hollow about 2cm across and 3cm deep in the cakes, keeping the cut out sponge.  Place a raspberry in each hole, top with half a tsp of jam and half a tsp of the custard mixture.  Trim the cake and place back in the hole so it is level with the rest of the cake.  Top with a swirl of the custard frosting and top with a fresh raspberry.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A Berry Happy Breakfast - Part 2 - Berry Bread.

Bread. Berries. Breakfast.

Need I say more?

No, but I will - this is me after all and I don't think I've ever written a short post. 

This is the second recipe from my berry haul at the weekend, of course not including the not insubstantial amount of blueberries I ate on the way home.... ahem.  And my second entry to the Breakfast Club, ran by FussFreeFlavours and hosted by Simply Food.  Told you I like berries!

When I look at this recipe I think it's more of a cake than a bread, but to eat bread for breakfast makes me feel better than if I scoff cake first thing (mentally that is, not necessarily physically!). It doesn't have much sugar in it, the berries are sweet enough - and it's perfect for those berries that have seen better days. In fact, my major berry haul went bad quite quickly (well the strawberries and blackberries did, raspberries are still perfection in a punnet) which I guess is why they were so cheap - another reason to not feel guilty for eating cake bread for breakfast! I feel a list coming on.

There is no yeast in this recipe either, but I don't believe you need yeast to make a cake bread (See bacon and cheese bread here). What do you think?

To be fair, it's irrelevant; it was gorgeous for breakfast with a cup of string tea and yes, I'll admit it, I dunked. Who wouldn't? It was still warm and slathered with salted butter, which ended up creating a little film on my tea. Sounds gross. It wasn't. I guess the guilt factor evens out the health factor of A Berry Happy Breakfast - Part 1. Everything in moderation I say!

So, enjoy baking this cake bread... then please, please enjoy eating, guilt free as a Sunday morning treat (or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday....)

Look at that. A short post after all.

Berry Bread

Breakfast Berry Bread... Cake... Bread.
Whatever!

  • 250g plain flour
  • 150g vanilla sugar (or add the seeds of 1 pod)
  • 200g chopped nuts (I used walnuts and pecans, very roughly chopped)
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 40g butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 200ml milk
  • 150g mixed berries, chopped to the size of a raspberry if needs be.

1. Pre heat the oven to 180 and line a loaf tin (min is approx 8" long).
2. In a bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients to combine.

3. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk all the wet ingredients with a fork before pouring into the dry ingredients and mixing until combined.

4. Stir in the berries.

5. Bake in the oven for 50 - 60 minutes until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean
6. Eat warm


OK, I realise this second to last instruction makes it a cake. I give in.

Enjoy anyway!

Monday, 13 June 2011

It's a Berry Happy Breakfast! Part 1 of 3 - Berry Breakfast Trifle

One of the best thing I've found about blogging are the Events and Challenges other bloggers have devised (and I may do my own one day - who knows!?) because they challenge you to try new things and blog about recipes you wouldn't normally blog about. And that's why FussFreeFlavours Breakfast Club challenge is one I look forward to - My brekkies are generally boring - and when I saw that this months host 'Simply Food' had chosen Berries for their theme, I jumped with joy. I love 'em!

Juicy, tender, sweet, in season, and most excitingly, LOCAL! Best of all this adds up to CHEAP! Sadly, this also meant I went a bit mad at the grocers at the weekend and bought:
  • 3 punnets of juicy, shiny red strawberries, 
  • 2 large punnets of dusky dark pink raspberries, 
  • 3 punnets of juicy blackberries 
  • 2 punnets of blueberries. 

That's a lot of berry goodness.  And how much did I pay!? Well, if I'd have been in Sainsburys, I would have closed my eyes at the check out and just handed over my credit card. But no need with my local grocer, as the whole lot came to a very tidy £6.50! That won't get you far in Sainsbury's I tell thee.

As I walked home (feeling rather sumg... again), I began to think about recipes as I picked away at my purchases, munching my way home. There would be a lot of berry goodness in my kitchen that afternoon (hence why this post is Part 1 of 3)!

I'll save the other two for later in the week, but I planned a gorgeous breakfast for hubs and I of Berry Breakfast Trifle followed by Blueberry Pancakes.

I got home and unpacked my shopping, planning to make the pancake batter to rest overnight and... oh dear.   I'd eaten ALL of the blueberries (except a sorry looking few left in the punnet that I quickly wolfed down when I saw them - does anyone else feel sorry for foods left behind so have to gobble them immediately? Or is it just an excuse for gluttony?).

I digress. But the pancake idea fell as flat as a.. well a pancake.  So, we are left with just a Berry Breakfast Trifle.  Not a bad consolation prize bad though - it was a real treat and a half, a healthy one at that. Perfect for healthy breakfasts that look like you've put a lot effort into - they look great. The only downside I can see to these gorgeous breakfast treats is that you can't make them in advance - if you do, you get gooey granola, and no one wants gooey granola.

This recipe uses my Gorgeously Good Granola (available for sale on Etsy too, I'll have you know!), so make a big batch and it'll last you the week (or just buy some of mine - yum!)

Berry Breakfast Trifle


Berry Breakfast Trifle



  • One big handful of Granola per person (do you like my precision here?)
  • Selection of juicy berries, large ones chopped. (I used raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. Sadly not blueberries).
  • A large pot of natural yoghurt (you'll need 150g-200g per person
  • Drizzle of honey

1. In a large glass (I used a chunky wine glass, but squat tumblers would looks fantastic), put roughly 2cm of granola in the bottom. Top with yoghurt (just a small dollop) and sprinkle generously with berries.

2. Continue to layer until you have filled the glass, finishing with yoghurt, and topping with more berries, a sprinkling of granola and a drizzle of yoghurt.

And that's it! I feel a fraud calling this a recipe; let's go with an assembly, an idea to create a filling, impressive low fuss, low fat, full flavour brekkie.

Enjoy!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Spice Club Manchester

It was a cold Saturday in June (yes, June. Summer. I know.) Hubs and I made our way to North Manchester for dinner with friends. But this wasn't any old dinner with friends. We had just discovered The Spice Club, an underground Indian restaurant ran by Monica, with her mum Anita doing the cooking and brother Anjay the ever attentive Maitre'd. Opening in September 2010, The Spice Club is going strong, starting out with Clubs once a month, now increasing to once per week and always a sell out. They're now moving onto Sunday Brunches too!

Monica and her family welcome you in to their lovely home in the leafy suburbs, with introductions and a welcome drink as they show you to the large and lovely dining room, table perfectly set for dinner for 13 with a menu to guide you through the evening. A lovely touch to keep referring back to, but as we were given the dishes, Monica introduced them so we knew exactly what we were eating, how it was cooked and the traditions behind the food. But more on that later.

I always worry that, with Supper Clubs, you are in someone elses home so could feel rushed - after all of that cooking and hosting wouldn't you just want your bed? But not at The Spice Club. The evening was wonderfully relaxed and by sitting around the large table we met some truely lovely people who were enjoying the experience just as much as we were. And that's why there are no photographs in this post. So carried away were we with the evening and enjoying a shared experience, it wouldn't have felt right to whip my camera out. So I didn't.

Monica invited any foodies to have a wonder around the kitchen if they felt the need to see what was going on. How could I resist! So after our starter, an indian street snack I'd never come across before but can't wait to try again, I up and left the table expecting to find, if not panic, then a hub of activity.

I was wrong.

Monica and her mother were stood chatting, enjoying the sound of laughter coming from the other room. The plates and bowls were being heated as Monica stirred the entrees. Salivating with anticipation I fought the desire to jump on the food and chatted with Monica and Anita, not once feeling in the way, mainly because everything was prepared and they had the time to chat. I may have just stumbled upon the Actual Hostess With The Mostess (Damn it, I was going for that crown!) with the most fabulous food (ditto).

So onto the menu. I want to describe every dish but I won't, can't, do it justice. I only cook the odd curry at home keeping everything easy so I don't have any authority on the style of cooking or indeed the ingredients, but what I will say is That Was The Best Indian Meal I Have Ever Eaten. Officially.

No grease; no orange fingers; no chicken-that-could-be-other-animal; no lamb-that-probably-came-from-the-floor-of-the kebab-shop-next-door; no 'My mouth is on fire' syndrome synonymous with that 'Indian' (read 'English Lout') favourite, Vindaloo.

But we did get tender, juicy chicken slowly roasted in aromatic spices; Food cooked in olive oil; Spices so beautifully toasted the aroma was like expensive perfume filling the house; lamb so juicy, tender and flavourful we asked for seconds (and thirds. And we got them). We enjoyed traditional Indian, home-cooked fare, a delicious starter and five entrées, with salad, rice and fresh steaming chapatis followed by delicious fruity sorbets and chai cardomom tea to wash it all down with, nicely rounded off with a raspberry biscuit and an Indian sweet I wish I knew the name of.

The menu, in full, was as follows:

Welcome Drink: Fresh Orange & Mango Juice
Appetiser: Papdi Chaat
Entrées: Keema Mattar, Murgh Masala, Aloo Gobi, Sukhi Urad Dal, Raita
Dessert: Mango & Raspberry Sorbet with Mint Sugar
Cardamom Chai served with traditional Indian biscuits

All in all, a fantastic night; fantastic hosts, fantastic friends (old and new) and, most importantly, fabulous food (and the best bit? Unlike every Indian meal I've ever eaten, it's now 4 hours after eating as I type and I've not got Delhi Belly. Fabulous).

If you want a curry in Mancester, forget the Curry Mile and call Monica at The Spice Club to find out what a real Indian meal should taste like.

The Spice Club
Upcoming Events
Monica's Blog 'Spice Diary'