North Northamptonshire based food blogger who is obsessed with good food and proper cooking. I'm part of the Midlands Blogging team for the BBC Good Food Shows. This is where I share my own recipes and carry out recipe development and product reviews for brands, including food and wines. Please contact me using the link below.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Olive oil, rosemary & lemon cake

This is not originally my own recipe, but one I found on the Olive Oil Times website which was contributed by Mooney Farms.  I have merely converted it to UK measurements and detailed the methodology.  All rights therefore must be gratefully passed back to the creators.

I was kindly given 3 bottles of OL Extra Virgin Olive Oils to try.  I chose to use their Organic oil to make this cake, as it has such a light, clean scent that I thought would be perfect for use in a cake as it wouldn't be overpowering and I'm glad to say, I was right! This oil gave the cake the perfect balance of moisture & flavour whilst letting the rosemary and lemons shine through.

385g Self raising flour
1 1/2tbs Fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2tsp Baking powder
1/2tsp Bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp Salt
370g Granulated sugar
125ml Milk
2 Lemons, zested
60ml Lemon juice
1tsp Vanilla extract
3 Large eggs
150g Icing sugar
15ml Lemon juice

1. Heat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C.
2. Grease & base line a 22cm/9" springform tin.
3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, rosemary, baking powder, bi-carb and salt.
4. In a separate, medium sized bowl, place the sugar, olive oil, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and eggs.
5. Whisk together using an electric beater until smooth.
6. Pour the liquid mix into the flour mix & whisk until smooth and light (approx. 2-3 minutes).
7. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out cleanly.
8. Remove from the oven, but leave in the tin for 10 minutes.
9. Turn out onto a wire cooling rack and leave until cold.
10. For the icing, mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice until smooth.
11. Drizzle over the top of the cooled cake, allowing it to gently run over the edge & down the sides.
12. Decorate with a small sprig of fresh rosemary.
13. Serve in thin slices.

The oil was generously supplied to me by OL Extra Virgin Oils UK.  I was under no obligation to blog this recipe or to give a favourable review of their products.  The views are my own and are a genuine reflection of how I found their oil.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Clandestine Cake Club Northampton's 1st Birthday Party

For our club's first birthday party, we returned to Jeyes of Earls Barton; the venue of our inaugural meeting, where we were once again extended a warm welcome from the Jeyes family.

Our meeting was sponsored by Yorkshire Tea, who had sent our fabulously dedicated organiser, Gillian, some wonderful decorations & products to adorn our table.  These were coupled with table decorations that Jeyes had also kindly provided, along with a lovely goody bag that they had given every member.  Not only that, but Jeyes had also provided us with sandwiches and crisps to accompany our wonderful array of cakes, tea and coffee.

I'm sure you'll agree from the photos below that there were some beautiful cakes from our incredibly talented group of ladies.  There must have been in excess of 20 cakes on the tables!

A HUGE thank you has to go to our organiser, Gillian, for her continued hard work & dedication to make the Northampton branch of the Clandestine Cake Club as large and successful as it has become.

I love his photo of Gillian as it looks like she's praying to the God of Cake for another successful meeting. Her prayers were answered.

Our sponsors' products adorn the tables.

Our 'high tea' sandwiches.

Carmela's cake.

Julie's Cake.

My cake - Choccoccino Cake.

Deb's cake - such a cute inchworm!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Sour Cherry Chutney

  • 5ml Rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 x 350g jar Morello cherries in syrup
  • 50ml Balsamic vinegar
  • 50g Sultanas
  • 1 star anise

  • 1. Heat the oil and gently cook the onions for 10 minutes until transparent but not coloured.
    2. Add the cherries (including the syrup), balsamic vinegar, sultanas and star anise.
    3. Bring to the boil then simmer for 45 minutes until reduced and thickened.
    4. Serve warm as an accompaniment to pork or duck.

    You can also allow this to cool and serve with cheese, pâté or cooked meats.

    Saturday, 4 May 2013

    Choccoccino Cake

    This is my recipe I devised for World Baking Day which takes place on 19th May 2013.  I was invited to be one of 100 Ambassadors worldwide to take part.  We were ranked in terms of 'bravability'. You can find my recipe at no.62. Please join me and 'Bake Brave'

    115g Dark brown sugar
    55g Caster sugar
    170g Stork margarine
    15ml Camp coffee
    2.5ml Beau Cappuccino flavouring
    3 medium eggs
    170g Self raising flour
    5ml Baking powder
    170g Dark chocolate chips
    125ml Double cream
    115g Dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
    55g Milk chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
    2.5ml Beau Cappuccino flavouring

    1. Heat the oven to 180C
    2. Grease a 20cm (8") round springform tin & line the base with baking parchment.
    3. Cream the Stork margarine with the sugars until light & fluffy.
    4. Sift together the flour & baking powder and set aside.
    5. To the sugar & margarine mixture, add the Camp coffee, cappuccino flavouring, one egg and 1tbs of the flour mixture & beat well.
    6. Add the second egg and another 1tbs of flour. Beat well.
    7. Add the final egg and a further 1tbs of flour then beat well until mixed.
    8. Gently fold in the remaining flour until combined.
    9. Add the chocolate drops and mix in lightly with only a few gentle stirs.
    10. Pour into your prepared tin, level the top and bake in the middle shelf of your oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out cleanly.
    11. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes to cool, then remove from the tin and place on a cooling rack until cold.
    12. Whilst the cake is in the oven cooking, heat the double cream in a saucepan until just below boiling point.
    13. Pour the hot cream onto your dark & milk chocolate chips and leave to stand for 2 minutes.
    14. Beat the cream & chocolate mixture until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
    15. Place in the fridge to cool & set.
    16. When the cake is cold, place it onto your serving plate.
    17. Spread the cooled ganache over the top of your cake thickly.

    Friday, 3 May 2013

    Peanut Butter Fudge

    This is not for dieters, but it is for lovers of peanut butter & fudge. It's also incredibly easy to make. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool and set before you cut and eat it!

    110g Salted butter
    475g Soft Brown sugar
    125ml Milk
    200g Crunchy peanut butter (you can substitute smooth if you prefer)
    5ml/1tsp Vanilla extract
    425g Icing sugar

    1. Melt butter over medium heat.
    2. Stir in the brown sugar and milk.
    3. Bring to the boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
    4. Sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl.
    5. Remove the butter/sugar/milk mixture from the heat.
    6. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla extract.
    7. Pour over icing sugar in a large mixing bowl.
    8. Beat until smooth, then pour into a 20cm square baking dish.
    9. Chill until firm and then cut into squares.

    Thursday, 2 May 2013

    Mastering the Art of Matching Chocolate & Coffee

    Two things every girl loves; good quality chocolate and fresh, wonderful coffee. I was invited to an event to learn the art of pairing chocolate and fresh coffee in one of the private dining rooms of Kettners in Soho, London where we were guided by Master Chocolatier Stefan Bruderer of Lindt & Sprüngli Chocolate and Expert Barrister Robert Henry along with the De'Longhi Primadonna S range of coffee machines

    We were given tips on how to properly 'taste' the coffee which included slurping(!) from the cup, tasting the chocolate, allowing it to melt onto the tongue, then to take another drink from your cup. It's amazing how different the coffees taste when infused with the warm, melted chocolate. The flavours of both just come to life in your mouth! I admit that I'm not a lover of Espresso; in fact I'm more of a creamy latte kind of girl. However Robert tried his best to convert me and taught me when to drink it and how to taste the coffee. I will openly admit that my view of it has now changed, but it's still a bit too strong for me.

    Stefan didn't have to convince me of my love for Lindt & Sprüngli chocolate however, as I'm already a very big fan. From their Excellence range of Extra Creamy milk and their White Vanilla, through their flavours of blueberry, strawberry, orange, chilli or sea salt to the rich darkness of their 70, 85 or even 90% Cocoa.

    We were introduced to several types and varieties of coffee from different parts of the world, from Cambodia to Bolivia and from Brazil to Ethiopia. We were taught how the caffeine was removed from coffee to become decaf which is so popular today. Surprisingly the Espresso coffees we were introduced to were all decaf, but they were rich in taste and left nothing out.

    It's amazing how the different types of coffee, with their distinct flavours pair differently (and perfectly) with the different types and flavours of chocolate. For example, the White Vanilla paired beautifully with an Ethiopian Long Black, whilst a Brazilian Cerrado Decaf Espresso matched the Excellence dark chocolate with a hint of sea salt incredibly well.

    The De'Longhi Primadonna S coffee machine is an amazing piece of equipment which grinds the beans and produces your different coffees, and includes a 'personal' preference setting to remember just how you love your coffee. Sadly though, however much I would absolutely love one of these machines (which incidentally are available exclusively at Harrods or in John Lewis), at £1195.00, it's a little out of my budget.

    With thanks to Stefan, Robert, Lindt & Sprüngli, De'Longhi and the teams at Kettners & Clarion Communications for a very lovely & informative evening. With thanks to all the coffee & caffeine for a sleep free night too!

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