Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Spinach and cheese muffins

I decided to dabble in the savoury side for once. In fact I was getting a bit bored of smoothies for breakfast and thought muffins would make good breakfast food. I went to my trusted hummingbird bakery cookbook for a recipe and it turned out great. They're really simple to make and freeze well too! I tired the ham and cheese version which was even better in my book. 

30g butter
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
360g plain flour
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
250g cheddar cheese, grated
220ml whole milk
1 egg
130g baby spinach leaves

  • Preheat oven to 170C.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then fry the onion until cooked.
  • Set aside.
  • Put the flour, baking powder, cayenne and cheese in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the milk and egg together, then slowly pour into the flour mixture and beat with a handheld whisk until all the ingredients are well mixed. (I used a spatula)
  • Stir in the onion and spinach with a wooden spoon until evenly dispersed. 
  • Spoon the mixture into muffin cases until 2/3 full and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until deep golden and the sponge bounces back when touched.
  • Leave to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes

I was really excited when I saw that this month's We Should Cocoa Challenge is strawberries. I love strawberries especially in the summer.  I've been watching quite a bit of Top Chef Canada recently and one of the wins was with a strawberry shortcake.  I decided immediately that I wanted to make a chocolate strawberry shortcake for this month's challenge and almost ran out of time but I'm glad I made it! The dough was very easy to make but it took a while to roll and cut the dough, bake and then assemble the shortcake.  It was well worth it though as it was really delicious - chocolatey goodness in the shortcake which is a little heavy with the light freshness of fresh strawberries and cream. Perfect for summer. 

 mixing ingredients for dough

 freshly baked 

 to assemble 


Makes approximately 21
400g plain four
60g cocoa powder
4 teaspoons baking powder
120g unsalted butter, diced
120g caster sugar 
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10-12 tablespoons of milk
450g fresh strawberries
300ml double cream, whipped
icing sugar to taste (for the cream) 

  • Preheat the overn to 230C. 
  • Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder into a bowl.
  • Add the butter and rub in with the fingertips.
  • Stir in the sugar.
  • Beat the eggs with the vanilla extract and stir in.
  • Add enough milk to form a soft, but not sticky dough. 
  • Knead gently until smooth. 
  • Flour a work surface.
  • Roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick. 
  • Cut out rounds with a cookie cutter, rekneading and cutting the trimmings as necessary. 
  • Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until risen and the bases sound hollow when tapped. 
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  • Hull and slice the strawberries.
  • Whip the cream with icing sugar if desired. 
  • Place some cream on the base of a shortcake, top with slices of strawberries and top with another shortcake. 
  • Top with some cream and decorate with another strawberry slice on top.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


Here's one I made quite a few months back now but still remains in my memory. This is the perfect recipe for when you can't decide between a brownie and a cookie. It's really chocolatey with a dense brownie texture but a slight crunch of a cookie. Simple and delicious.

 melt chocolate (I added cooking chocolate as I ran out of chocolate chips) 

 brookie mixture 

 freeze for 15 mins before baking

1 tablespoon oil
approximately 5g (1 teaspoon) of butter
365g chocolate chips
2 large eggs
150g light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
60g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Melt oil, butter and chocolate chips in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. 
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract.
  • Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. 
  • In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. 
  • Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and stir until combined. 
  • Pour the batter into a shallow pan and freeze for 6 to 8 minutes until the batter sets and hardens slightly (Do not exceed 15 minutes freezing time otherwise the batter will be too frozen)
  • Preheat oven to 180C. 
  • Line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
  • Scoop out the cookie dough using a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the top looks dry and cracked. 
  • Allow to cool completely. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Frosting

This is a special birthday cake for a special friend :) It seems like P has had the longest birthday ever! (well on my blog anyway)  I made some homemade chocolate liqueur truffles and lemon meringue kisses as gifts and asked her what she wanted for a birthday cake. She loves apples (without nuts) and requested an apple crumble. However, Ottolenghi's apple and olive oil cake has been on my to bake list for a long time and I thought this is the perfect opportunity to make it.  Plus I wanted a proper cake that I could frost and decorate for her birthday rather than an apple crumble!  
If you haven't been to Ottolenghi, I would highly recommend it. The food is delicious and all their cakes and desserts are absolutely divine. My absolute favourite is the macadamia and caramel cheesecake. Absolute heaven  :) 
This cake was absolutely delicious. It was really moist and light and I love the crunch of apples. The maple syrup frosting was heavenly and I have to admit I ate all the left over frosting for breakfast and dessert the next day! 
We went to a lovely restaurant to celebrate the birthday and they were kind enough to decorate the plate with writing and fruit as shown above. I bought a really fancy candle after having seen it on the caked crusader's blog. It's really amazing (and it saved me decorating the top of the cake- it's a huge candle!)

 I cut my apples fairly large as I like to see them in the cake. 

 add apples to the batter 

 add egg whites

 ready to go in the oven 

 my new turntable from mum (thanks mum!)- it says 'have a nice day' although you can't really see it from this photo

 first layer of cake 

 spread frosting on top 

 sandwich the cakes 

 more frosting on top 

 amazing candle - musical candle with a sparkler on top and candles on the petals that rotate slowly. I bought it from amazon. 

 this might explain the candle better! 


 absolutely divine :) 

Happy Birthday P! 

For the cake
280g flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
120ml olive oil
160g caster sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
3 bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1cm pieces
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 egg whites

For the icing
100g unsalted butter
100g light muscovado sugar
85ml maple syrup
220g cream cheese

  • Preheat the oven to 170C.
  • Grease and line 2 sandwich tins
  • Sift the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl.
  • Whisk the olive oil, vanilla and sugar in an electric mixer until smooth. 
  • Whisk in the eggs, on at a time and mix until well incorporated. 
  • Stir in the apples and lemon zest and then the flour mixture.
  • Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. 
  • Fold egg whites gently into the batter. 
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared sandwich tins. 
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. 
  • Allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack. 
  • To make the frosting, beat togethr the butter, maple syrup and sugar until light and fluffy. 
  • Add in the cream cheese and continue beating until it's very smooth and light. 
  • Spread half the icing on top of the first cake and place the second cake on top. 
  • Spread the remainder of the frosting on top. 
  • Eat left over frosting - this is the best part :) 

Friday, 3 June 2011

Lemon Meringue Kisses

I first saw these on one of my favourite blogs Joy the Baker and immediately bookmarked it.  I finally got round to making them and decided it would make an excellent birthday gift for my friend P along with some lovely homemade truffles. Next post will be the birthday cake as requested by the birthday girl. Apologies for being a bit slow with blogging lately. 
These meringue kisses really taste like a dream. Unforunately, I only got to try 1/2 of one as I didn't make enough. I have to admit they were very difficult to give away as I wanted to eat them all! 
The meringue was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  This is the first time I've made my own lemon curd and I'm wondering why I've never made it before. It's really easy to make and tastes really refreshing and goes well sandwiched between 2 perfect little bites of meringue.
As before, I placed them in a really cute box which I also got from paperchase and finished it with a bow. The birthday girl was extremely pleased :) Happy birthday again P! 

 whip egg whites until stiff 

 pipe little stars. Some of them look a little messy! 

 cooking the lemon curd 

 almost there...


 cooked meringues 

 aren't they cute? 

 I love this box! 

For the meringue
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt
150g sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 90C. 
  • Line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper. 
  • Whisk egg whites in an electric mixer until foamy.
  • Add salt and increase speed to medium-high.
  • Slowly sprinkle in the sugar.
  • Continue to beat eggs until they become thick, glossy and hold stiff peaks.
  • Fold in lemon zest and vanilla extract.
  • Spoon into piping bag.
  • Pipe little stars as shown using a star tip onto the baking sheets. 
  • Using the back of a spoon, flatten out half of the stars, making them as flat as possible (for the bottom) but not necessarily making them larger. 
  • Bake for 2 hours until they are no longer sticky. 
  • Store in an airtight container. 

For the lemon curd
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
115g sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
85g butter

  • Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl and set aside.
  • In a medium pot, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, egg yolks and pinch of salt.
  • Place the pot over a medium-low heat and add the butter.
  • Stir the mixture with a whisk.  You may want to use a spatula to scrape down the edges. 
  • Cook the curd until the butter is melted and the mixture is the thickness of warm hot fudge. 
  • Remove from the heat and immediately pour into the fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl. 
  • Press through the sieve leaving any cooked egg bits in the strainer. 
  • Place curd in a sterilised jar and store in the fridge. 

To make lemon meringue kisses
  • Place 1 teaspoon of lemon curd on a 'flat' star and top with another similar sized star. 
  • Serve immediately if possible.