Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Glendoe Fruit Cake.

In my University summers I work as a lodge cook in scotland where they often request fruit cake to take up onto the hill. This means that unlike most people I don't make fruit once a year but regularly so I have had plenty of opportunity to adapt and amalgamate recipes to create my own. Fruit cake recipes are very personal and easily tailored to your own taste. I don't especially like cherries so I don't put many in and replace the rest with crystallised ginger. The name for this recipe comes from one of the estates I work for which particularly likes fruit cake.

Christmas cake often has a bad reputation not only because fruit cake is very out of fashion at the moment but also because rumour says that we must make it months in advance and it still often ends up being very dry after all that time and effort. Whilst I will not dispute the fact that you can get more flavour into a cake if you have let it mature and continued to feed it with alcohol for a few weeks before icing but that does not mean that it is a compulsory stage of the process. 

This fruit cake recipe can be made and served on the same day. It fits into a nine inch round tin or an eight inch square tin. This year I made multiple fruit cakes as I put them into my christmas hampers. The square tin is good for hampers as you can cut it up to share between multiple hampers. Mary Berry suggests baking individual fruit cakes in old baked bean tins which is something I will definitely be trying in the future.

I like to decorate my cakes with fondant icing as a base than then pipe royal icing decorations over the top.

This year was the first time that I tied news paper around the cake tin whilst it baked. Having always thought that it was a waste of time I will admit that it did make sure that the cake much more evenly throughout. If you have time I would suggest it but it is not necessary but I would suggest it you don't wrap the tin then you will need to keep a closer eye to the top of the cake as it cooks.


770g Sultanas
310g Raisins
180g Currants
150g Cherries
250g Prunes
130g Mixed Peel
100g Stem Ginger
3TBSP Marmalade
1TBSP Cocoa
1TSP Mixed Spices
1TSP Cinnamon
1/2 TSP Nutmeg
1/2 TSP Ground Clove
Zest of two clementine
Zest of a lemon
1TBSP Golden Syrup
1TBSP Treacle
9fl oz Brandy

250g Butter
230g Soft Brown Sugar
4 Eggs
250G Flour
60g Self Raising Flour

Method: If you have time then put all the fruits, spices and brandy into a bowl together cover and leave over night. If you don't have time don't bother. Preheat the oven to 150c or in a two door aga use the bottom oven. Cream the butter and sugar together. Then add the eggs one at a time. Next mix in the flours and the fruit. Put the mixture into a lined tin. Bake for 3.25-3.5hrs or until a skewer comes out clean.

If you are not serving it immediately then every few days or so make small holes into the cake with a cocktail stick and spoon over more brandy to taste. 

Chilli Jam

This year I have been inspired by Vanesse Kimbell who is trying to get people to make Christmas. My mother has always been a bit of a grinch at Christmas complaining about the commercialisation of it. She threatens to cancel Christmas every year and work in a soup kitchen. I am beginning to agree with her, the celebration of the Christmas season should start no earlier than Christmas eve and end on January 6th. I hate that shops now sell Christmas decorations from August. (I am aware that I am becoming preemtively middle aged in supporting this sentiment).  I have always thought Christmas hampers were a bit naff, full of things that you would never normally choose to buy and are not quite sure what to do with. But in the spirit of making christmas I though I would make two one for a family friend and another for my father. I am only going to put things in them that I know they like and will actually use.

Makes about 3 jars.

400g cherry tomatoes
9 red peppers
9 red chillies
6 garlic cloves
a thumb-sized chunk of root ginger
700g sugar
200ml cider vinegar

Finely chop the tomatoes, peppers, chillies, garlic and ginger. Put the sugar and vinegar into a pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the tomatoes, peppers, chillies, garlic and ginger and simmer until the liquid has reduced and the mixture has a thick, sticky consistency. Bring to the boil, and cook on high for 1 minute, being careful not to let the jam boil over. Pour the jam into hot, sterilised jars; where it will keep for up to a year, or 1 month in the fridge once you've opened it.

I have already had to make a second batch as my flatmates have been hamper raiding!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Banana Muffins.

Three black bananas in the fruit bowl need I say more. This was a new recipe for me as my bananas loaf recipe makes very heavy muffins. These were extremely light and very delicious.


200g (7 oz) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large bananas, mashed
150g (5 oz) caster sugar
1 egg
75g (2 1/2 oz) butter, soft


Preheat the oven to 180C or roasting oven with a cold shelf. This makes 12. Combine mashed bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter in a large bowl. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.

Black Bottom Cupcakes.

I thought that I would give these ago having tried one at my favourite haunt Cuckoos Bakery. I found the recipe which I followed on Mandy Mortimer's blog. Mine do not look like hers! I think the issue I came across is the cream cheese, here in Britain it must be softer than the American stuff. My cheese cake part pooled out as  a single runny layer over the top of the chocolate mixture rather than sitting as a lump in the centre of the chocolate batter. But they tasted delicious anyway even if they were slightly scruffy. I did find it difficult to tell when they were cooked as you had to stick a skewer through the cheese cake topping.

Cheesecake Filling:

225g Cream Cheese
1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
60g Dark Chocolate Chips (optional)

Chocolate Sponge:

1 1/2 cups Plain Flour
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 cup Cocoa
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Water
1/3 cup Sunflower/Canola/Vegetable Oil
1 Tbsp White Vinegar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract


Preheat oven to 180°C or roasting oven with a cold shelf. This makes 12. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, egg & vanilla then beat until combined. Mix in chocolate chips if you're adding them.

Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Stir to combine and mix until smooth.

Divide chocolate batter evenly between cupcake liners. Drop a spoonful of the cheesecake batter on to the chocolate batter in the middle. Bake for 20-25 mins. 

Friday, 25 November 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies.

This weekend is the Durham Black Tie Reeling Ball which like the ball in Edinburgh last weekend I was meant to be going to. However having broken my arm very badly in the summer I am still banned from all types of sport. So last night I put my essay off for a while longer and made a batch of these to send down to Durham. The recipe made about two dozen unfortunately only one dozen survived to this morning. I don't have much hope that the rest will make it to their destination intact. Nina and Lally this is what they looked like and if they don't turn up you know who to blame! I would also appreciate it if someone could bring my one boot which Nina accidentally packed in her suitcase back with them.

1 1/2 cups Flour.
1/2 tsp Baking powder
3/4 tsp Salt
150g Butter
1/2 cup Light brown sugar
1/2 cup Granulated sugar
1 Large egg
2tsp Vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Chocolate chips
1 cup of nuts (optional) 


Oven to 190C or second set of runners in roasting oven you maybe ok without a cold shelf but I would just watch them.
Cream the butter and sugars together, then beat in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients followed by the chocolate and nuts. Roll the dough into balls about 1-1 1/2 inches across and bake for 10-12 minutes. Don't put them too close as these do spread.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies.

This post is dedicated to Alice who is as Mabs would say a babe as she edits my essays. I made these to reward myself this afternoon after handing in 3000 words on newsprint in the 1640s fascinating or not as the case maybe. I am atrocious at making cookies as mine always spread to far and are never chewy so I thought I would start my quest for reliable cookies recipes with these. I must say that mine did not look as perfect as The Cultural dish's ones but they recipe worked perfectly and they tasted delicious.


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
100g butter, unsalted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar-1 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup salted, dry roasted peanuts.

Preheat oven to 180C or the second runners with a cold shelf in the roasting oven of the aga. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the peanut butter until fully incorporated. Mix in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients a little at a time until fully combined. Once the batter is well combined, stir in the peanuts.

Roll the dough into ping pong ball sized rounds about an 1 inch to 1.5 inches across. Press each cookie dough ball down with a fork to create a crisscross design. If the fork sticks to the dough you can dip it in cold water before pressing it down onto the dough, this works really well. I did not get a very defined criss cross pattern as it was broken up by the peanuts next time I would chop the nuts to the same size as the pieces in the peanut butter.

Bake until the cookies puff up and the edges are slightly browned (9-11) minutes, and make sure to rotate the pan halfway through. Be aware that the cookies will not look fully baked when done, so do not overcook them.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Easy Sticky Buns.

I have been meaning to make these for a while after seen Ina make them on the barefoot contessa and as we have a whole host of people coming to stay for the weekend this seemed like a good opportunity. I found the actual recipe on Gimme some oven but it is the one from the show. I love the barefoot contessa but alway baulk at cooking her recipes as although I know that they will be delicious they usually start with a whole packed of butter. I also made some double chocolate chip cookies but they did not last long enough for me to get a photo so I will have to make them again later.


1/3 cup light brown sugar.
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped in very large pieces.
1 pack puff pastry, either pre rolled or rolled to about 1/4inch thickness.
100g Butter.

2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins (optional)
12 cup muffin tin.

Preheat the oven to 200C or the second shelf of the aga roasting oven. Make sure butter is soft then mix it with the third of sugar until it is a paste. Split the mixture between the bottoms of the 12 muffin pans. Distribute the nuts between the pans on top of the sugar and butter.
Roll out the pastry. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar over the pastry with the cinnamon. At this point you can add any combination of more nuts or raisons that you fancy. Roll the pastry back up with the sugar etc inside. Next slice the roll up into 12. Place each swirl with the swirl facing up into one of the pans on top of the nuts and butter.
Bake in the oven for about 30mins. Once out of the oven leave to cool for about 5mins then up turn the whole pan. You should probably do this onto baking paper or tin foil. Some of the nuts will fall off at this point just put them back onto the top and once the sugar has cooled they will stick.

I am retrospectively entering this recipe into Tea Time Treats which is being hosted this month at Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Lola's Copper Biscuits.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011

I stumbled across this cookie swap on an american blog I'm afraid that I cannot remember which one but it is being organised Love and Olive Oil and thought that it was a fabulous idea so I entered straight away. There are two problems with this though: firstly being that I'm just a little bit of a perfectionist when it come to serving my food so I going to have to make so many batches to get three dozen I am happy with and secondly I am useless at making cookies. The always spread far to much and never end up being chewy. Oh well I suppose practice makes perfect. I thought I would start with a recipe I was given by a friend of my mothers. It was a recipe of her mothers and is apparently fail safe. Copper biscuits are essentially some where between a ginger bread and ginger snap. They have the flavour of a ginger snap but the chewy texture of a ginger bread man. If you are a biscuit dunker like me then these are the biscuits for you.
2 1/2 cups Self raising flour
1 cup Sugar
3tbsp Hot water
1tbsp Golden syrup
3oz Margarine
1 1/2 tsp Ground ginger
1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda

Pre heat the oven to 180C or in the aga the grid shelf in the bottom of the roasting oven with a cold self. Rub the margarine into the sugar and flour until you have the consistency of bread crumbs. Next add in the bicarb, ginger, golden syrup and the water. Bring together the mixture into a dough, roll the dough into walnut sized balls and put onto a baking tray. Bake for about ten minutes until golden brown.
For my christmas hampers I added chopped stem ginger to the basic recipe and then dunked them into dark chocolate.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Apple Tarte Tatin.

I made this for pudding last night as one of my flatmates little brothers is staying and she wanted to have some friends for supper so he could meet them. We don't have a metal handled frying pan in our flat which you need for this recipe as you have to pt the pan in the oven. So I improvised with a shallow Le Creuset pan, which worked well. The quantities are based on a 9inch pan I ended up using significantly more!


Enough eating apples to fill you chosen pan once they have been peeled and cored. For a nine inch pan this will be about 6 medium sized apple.
4oz unsalted butter.
3/4 cup granulated sugar. I split this half and half with soft brown sugar as I had run out of granulated.

One packet of either puff or shortcrust pastry. If you are making it yourself this is about 8oz of flours worth of pastry. I used puff but I am reliably informed that shortcrust works just as well.

Peel, core, and quarter of the apples. Melt the butter in the pan and add the sugar stir until the two are combined but don't worry about waiting for the sugar to melt. Arrange the apples, however you wish but remember you serve it flipped out so what you will see is the surface touching the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry about the gaps peel more apples if you need to. Place the pan over medium-high heat until the liquid begins to bubble. After 15-20 minutes the juice from the apples will reduce and the caramel will become a deep golden colour. Don't worry if the caramel still looks very thin at this point it will thicken as it cools. Role your pastry out until it is slightly larger than the pan. Place it on top of the fruit and tuck the edges into the pan with a knife. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until the pastry is a golden colour at 180C of for the aga the bottom rung of the top oven but watch it as you may need to put a cold shelf in. Let the tart rest for 5 minutes before flipping it out, this lets the caramel thicken slightly so when you do flip it it doesn't run off the plate but sticks to your tart.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Butterscotch and White Chocolate Blondies.

This year instead of baking as a form of productive procrastination I am only letting myself bake when I have finished my work. I finished my dissertation proposal this afternoon so thought I would spend the evening baking a new recipe. I have read on a number of blogs about people making blondies which seem to be a white chocolate brownies. So I thought I would give them a go this recipe came of the blog jolts &jollies. This turned out to be a great recipe and one I will definitely make them again, my flatmate has already eaten six.

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
150g unsalted butter
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 180C or in a two door aga the grid shelf in the bottom of the roasting oven with a cold self. Line a 9x13 inch pan roughly the small aga roasting pan. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in large mixing bowl. To brown the butter heat it in a small pan stirring constantly until it goes a light brown colour. Then pull it off the heat and leave it cool in the pan where it will continue to get darker until it looks a bit darker than golden syrup. whisk together the eggs and browned butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Fold in the chocolate chips and spread in the pan. Bake for 30minutes until a knife comes out clean. They should still be gooey in the middle.

Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake.

It was my flatmates 21st this week and I wanted to make something slightly more interesting than sponge but did not have a huge amount of time on my hands. We also have one friend who is allergic to wheat and another nuts. So I decided to start with a chocolate roulade sponge in between which I would layer up different chocolate mousses. chocolate roulade of swiss role sponges are a great one to remember as they have no flour or fat in them.


175g/6oz plain chocolate.
175g/6oz caster sugar.
6 eggs, separated.
2 level tbsp cocoa, sieved.
33cm x 23cm (13in x 9in) Swiss roll tin I never use a tin instead I fold one out of baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Melt the chocolate slowly in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Allow to cool slightly. Place the sugar and egg yolks in a bowl and whisk with an electric whisk on a high speed until light and creamy. Add the cooled chocolate and stir until evenly blended. Whisk the egg whites in a large mixing bowl until stiff but not dry. Stir a large spoonful of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, mix gently and then fold in the remaining egg whites, then the cocoa. Mixing in the spoonful of white may seem like a waste of air but it makes it easier to fold the rest together as the mixtures will now be a more similar constancy. Pour into the prepared tin and gently level the surface. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until firm to the touch.
Chocolate mousse:

1oz dark chocolate
1 egg separated.

For the amount of sponge I had made I used 2oz and 2eggs. If I were to make this recipe again I would probably 1.5 times the sponge mixture and use three eggs. Not because there was not enough it easily fed 8-10, but because I was cutting it up to layer it. When you cut something down to size there is always an amount of wastage meaning the amount of sponge was quite tight. Melt the chocolate and allow to cool slightly. Then mix the egg yolks into the chocolate. In a separate clean bowl whisk the egg whites to a stiff peak. Fold the whites into the chocolate remembering to slacken off the chocolate as you did with the roulade. Normally you would now put the mixture into whatever you are going to serve it in and them into the fridge. If I were making this recipe for a pudding on its own the general rule is one egg and one ounce of chocolate per person.

White chocolate mousse:

90g white chocolate.
45ml milk.
1 egg white.
110ml double cream.

Melt the chocolate , stir in milk and set aside. This stops the chocolate ceasing. Whip the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the chocolate mixture until well combined.Whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks and gently fold into the chocolate mixture. This was a Nigella recipe which I had not used before it worked well for this as it was going with other dark chocolate components but it was far too sweet to be eaten on its own.

I assembled it by cutting the sponge into two squares and layering in up sponge, chocolate mouse, sponge and white chocolate mousse on the top. I had to cut squares as I had not made enough sponge but this would have been much easier to do if I had had enough to assemble it in the ring of a cake tin. I would have got a much neater finish as the mixture would have had straight sides. I also finished of the top with fresh raspberries. I will definitely make this again as a smart birthday cake or even just as a pudding. It is quite rich so is probably best served as a pudding rather than as a tea time cake. You could easily use orange chocolate for the mousse and brush grande marnier into the sponge if you wanted to make it a bit different.