Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Everyone's talking about the latest trend on the 'cake runway' these days - otherwise known as 'cakepops'. At first these heavenly little balls on a stick look like something only the most professional of chefs could conjure up, but I'll show you that it is actually one of the easiest (and fun!) things to create. Get your kids, nieces and nephews involved during one of those cold, dreary, and boring school holiday days and and have a feast!

MAKES 35 CAKEPOPS (Chocolate and Vanilla)



3 large eggs
100g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
170g self-raising flour
70g cocoa powder

FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING (taken from the Hummingbird Bakery)

150g icing sugar, sifted
25g unsalted butter, at room temperature
65g cream cheese


100g good quality milk chocolate
100g good quality dark chocolate


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line two sandwich cake pans with parchment paper.

Combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating continuously.

Add the vanilla extract, baking powder and self raising flour and mix until combined.

Pour half of the mixture into one of the cake pans and add cocoa powder to the rest and mix well. Pour the chocolate cake mixture into the other cake pan and place both pans into the oven for 15-20 mins until cooked.

Allow the cakes to cool completely (this should take around one hour.)

In the meantime make the cream cheese frosting by whisking together the butter and icing sugar. Once combined, add the cream cheese and beat on slow speed until fully combined - do not overbeat the mixture as it may become runny and too thin.

Once the cakes have cooled crumble them into two separate bowls and divide the cream cheese frosting into both bowls (this should be around 2 tablespoons).

This is where it all gets a bit messy...

Start to combine the mixtures with your hands and make balls, around 2cm big and push a lollipop stick through each ball. I found the best way to keep them standing tall and not on their heads was to poke the sticks through a colander so that all of the cakepops are standing upright.

Place the cakepops in the fridge overnight, or for two hours in the freezer.

Once the cakepops are firm make the chocolate syrup to coat the cakepops by breaking up the chocolate and placing in a glass bowl. Pour hot water into a metal pan and make a bain-marie. Place the glass bowl on top of the pan with hot water (making sure the bowl doesn't touch the base of the pan) and allow the chocolate to melt. Stir gently. This should take no more than 5 minutes.

Once the chocolate has melted start dipping and decorating your cakepops with all sorts of interesting sprinkles and iced gems!

Stem Ginger Cookies

I first came across this recipe a few years ago on a web site called Culinary Bazaar. I am so glad that I was smart enough to print out the recipe at the time because the web site no longer exists, and I can't find the recipe anywhere online to give credit where credit is indeed due. I have adapted the original recipe ever so slightly, but it still has the same gorgeous rich but subtle taste of the ginger I made for the very first time. I made a fresh batch a couple of weeks ago and believe me they were gone within 48 hours... they truly are the most delicious little winter treats no one can resist!



2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tspn ground ginger
1/4 tspn ground cinnamon
1/4 tspn ground cardamom
1/4 tspn ground cloves
1 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup cinammon sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten
4 tbspn black treacle
1 tspn freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup crystallised stem ginger, chopped


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C and line two large baking trays with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the egg, treacle and lemon juice and mix well.

Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices until the mixture comes together and then add the crystallised ginger.

Roll into 2cm balls and roll into the cinnamon sugar.

Place on baking sheet and press very slightly. Keep a 2cm gap between all the cookies as they will expand.

Bake for around 10-15 minutes - do not over cook, they will still be soft when you take them out of the oven but will harden during the cooling process.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Brilliant Little Panasonic SD-2501

Waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread really is a treat, and with so many breadmakers on the market it is hard to choose one that really does all that it says it does on the box. With the Panasonic SD-2501 you can however be sure that you're getting a great deal. Having used the SD-255 in the past I was keen to see how different this newer model really was - and I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

Aesthetically, the new Panasonic SD-2501 has a slightly leaner casing and is visually more appealing than the frumpy old SD-255, so it stands taller and looks a lot nicer than the older model (especially if you invest in the SDZB-2502, which has a sleek stainless steel body.) Apart from all the old tricks it is famous for, the newer model boasts the ability to create gluten-free and brioche loaf at the touch of a button, which is something you can't do with the old model, so that definitely makes life easier. You can also make your own fresh jam and compote. The breadmaker also has a speciality bread  function, allowing you to make rye and spelt loaves, and even comes with a separate blade (which you can also do with the SD-255.) What I love about these breadmakers though is the ability to effortlessly mix and knead dough, it even allows you to knead traditional 'chapatti' flour at the touch of a button, so making fresh chapattis is no longer a laborious task!

But I suppose the thing that really makes this breadmaker a cut above the rest is that the non-stick pan and blade are both coated with diamond particles, which makes the coating much more scratch resistant and increases the longevity of the product than other breadmakers, and is super easy to clean.

All in all a great buy and one that no kitchen should be without! Find it on Amazon today!

My favourite recipe at the moment is the Brioche loaf, so here is the recipe, with of course a few additions!



1 1/4 teaspoon yeast
400g strong white bread flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
1 large egg, beaten
180ml water
50g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
70g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes - to add after 55 minutes of kneading
100g raisins - to add after 55 minutes of kneading


Place the yeast into the pan first. Then add the flour, sugars, salt, milk, water and eggs along with the 50g of butter.

Select Menu 11 and press start.

After 55 minutes the machine will beep for 3 minutes - you must open the bread pan and add the additional butter and raisins at this time (if you don't have time to do this then you can add the additional 70g of butter and raisins with the mixture at the beginning, but the quality of the loaf will be different.)

Three hours later empty the loaf tin (be careful to use oven mitts!) and enjoy warm brioche spread with some lovely homemade jam or even butter!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Coffee and honey cupcakes

These days I am big on coffee; in whatever form I can possibly find it. It's probably not a very healthy thing to have lots of cups of coffee a day but you can substitute that craving for a coffee cupcake instead. They're really simple to make and they're better than having a cup loaded with caffeine!



170g wholewheat self raising flour (or white)
1 tablespoon wheatgerm
100ml rapeseed oil (or 100g unsalted butter)
100ml honey (or maple syrup, I find maple syrup gives it a deeper, more caramel-like taste)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon fresh coffee (or 1/2 tablespoon granules, diluted in a little water)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
100g cranberries (optional)
50g pecans, chopped, to decorate (optional)


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C and line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.

Whisk together the eggs and oil until light and fluffy. Then slowly pour in the honey. Add the vanilla and coffee. Once combined add the self-raising flour, baking powder and wheatgerm and combine until the mixture comes together.

If you are adding the cranberries add now with a wooden spoon.

Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases and sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Cool and serve with vanilla ice cream (and of course, this bit is optional!)

* Wheatgerm is an excellent source of Vitamin E and B vitamins (folic acid in particular), Magnesium, Calcium and Phosphorus.
* High in Vitamin C, Cranberries are an excellent source of antioxidants which are essential to combating free radicals in the body.

Friday, 11 March 2011

mini chocolate cake

I sometimes struggle with that post-dinner urge to have something sweet but don't like the thought of eating something from the local shop, especially when I am sure that I can make something better myself! The smell of a freshly baked cake really is something else. So last night I came up with a smaller version of my usual chocolate sandwich cake, with cream. Instead, this recipe is a quick alternative which serves four, or two very sweet-toothed individuals (believe me, this cake is so light and airy that you really won't be able to stop yourself!)

SERVES 2 - 4


80g wholemeal self-raising flour (or ordinary self-raising flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
30ml honey (or 30g caster sugar)
30ml rapeseed oil (or 30g unsalted butter)
1 egg, beaten
50g milk chocolate / dark chocolate drops
* If you are using the caster sugar and butter option you may have to add a dash of soya milk (or semi-skimmed milk) in order to make the batter moist.


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C and line a small cake tin with parchment paper.

In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk the honey and oil together, then add the egg. Whisk until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Then add the self-raising flour, salt, baking powder, cocoa powder and whisk until the batter comes together. Stir in the chocolate drops.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 20 minutes.

Cool and dust with icing sugar. Serve with strawberries and single cream!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

pancake day without the pounds

I love fluffy American pancakes, who doesn't? They're so filling and yet strangely uplifting that one is never really enough. Here's my version of those feel-good delights, which are great fun to make with the kids.

Also, if you don't already have wholemeal plain flour in your pantry don't worry, use plain flour and just remember to buy some next time you go grocery shopping - it really does make all the difference to the whole family.



100g plain wholemeal flour
30g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup, or half and half)
140ml soya milk (or buttermilk or semi skimmed milk, whichever you prefer!)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil (or olive oil)


Sift the flours, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. In separate jug or bowl beat the egg, and then whisk in the milk, honey and oil.

Heat a non-stick pan and brush with a little oil. Then, using a small ladle, pour the batter onto the pan (you should be able to get three small pancakes in at the same time). To avoid the pancakes getting cold, place a warm plate in the oven and keep the pancakes in there until the rest are ready.

Serve with maple syrup and fruit... and maybe even a little whipped cream for a more indulgent breakfast. Milk chocolate drops sprinkled on top are also a favourite with kids!

* Wholemeal / wholewheat flour contains more nutrients than white plain flour, which extracts around 60% of the nutrients when bleached, including bran, which is very important for the body as it contains vitamins B1, B2, B3 and folic acid, calcium, phosphorous, zinc, copper and iron - that's a whole load of vitamins! The fiber in wholemeal can also help maintain a healthy body weight.
* Honey has numerous health benefits, including acting as an antioxidant, anti-bacterial agent and can give a boost to the immune system.

Monday, 7 March 2011

flu buster soup - spicy roasted red pepper, butternut squash and spring green soup

With most of the family unwell this week I decided to make something which was packed in as many immune boosting vitamins as possible. My task was made easier because everyone in my house loves soup, so what better way to give them all that they need to get better!



3 tablespoons palm oil (or olive oil)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of fresh garlic, sliced in half
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, finely sliced
1 tomato, washed and chopped
1 red pepper (bell pepper), washed and chopped
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced, and washed
3 cups of spring greens, chopped and washed
500 mls chicken stock (or vegetable stock will also do)
1 green chilli (you can add more if you can take it slightly hotter)
A handful of fresh mint leaves, washed and chopped
A handful of fresh corriander leaves, washed and chopped
The juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground corriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Roasted red peppers

Turn on the grill to high heat. In a non-stick pan pour a little oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon crushed corriander and a little black pepper. Then add the red peppers and mix together. Put this under the grill for ten minutes, making sure you turn them over half way. Once they are slightly dark around the edges they are ready. Take from under the grill and leave to cool.


Saute the onions until golden, then add the garlic and ginger. Then add the tomatoes and all of the spices and fry until the mixture comes together. Then add the butternut squash and saute for five minutes. Then add the roasted red peppers and saute for a further five minutes. Then add the chicken stock and bring the boil. Once it has boiled turn down the heat, cover and leave to simmer for 20 minutes or until the squash quite literally begins to squash and the water thickens. Then add the fresh corriander, mint, green chilli, spring greens and lemon juice. Cook for 5 minutes - make sure you do not cook the spring greens for longer than five minutes otherwise they will start to develop a rank smell and flavour.

Take the pan off the heat and put into a blender (you can also use a food processor, it works just as well but a little more bitsy) and blend. Pour back into the pan and cover for 5 minutes.

Serve with warm, toasted bread.

* One red pepper contains more vitamin C than an orange, and also has a substantial amount of beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant and is converted into vitamin A once absorbed by the body. Vitamin A helps to fight of viral infections, and is also great for the eyes.
* Butternut squash is another great source for vitamin A and C and is also good as an antioxidant.
* Spring greens have a substantial amount of vitamin C and are a good source of folic acid.