Blackberry Crumble Cake

I’m definitely not a gardener, but we do have some fruit bushes growing in our garden and this recipe is a great way of using up blackberries.

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Blackberry Crumble Cake

225g butter (50g for the top and 175g for the cake)
75g plain flour
2 heaped tbsp Demerara sugar
175g caster sugar
175g self-raising flour
3 large free range eggs
100g blackberries

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

2. Make the Crumble topping by dicing 50g butter and rubbing it into the plain flour and demerara sugar, until the texture is sandy.

3. In a separate bowl or mixer, combine the remaining butter with the caster sugar, self-raising flour and the eggs. When the mixture is well combined, gently stir in the blackberries. Tip the mixture into the cake tin. Top with the Crumble topping.

4. Bake in the centre of the oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer entered into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

I made this as a gift, but came up with a cunning plan to make a mini loaf cake as well as the full sized one, so I could have a taster portion!

 

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Muhammara, maybe?

This is my adaptation of muhummara dip, which I love to order in our local Lebanese restaurant. Mine is more of a store-cupboard version than a strictly authentic one.

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Muhammara dip

75g walnuts (I’ve substituted hazelnuts before when I ran out of walnuts)
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 roasted red peppers
3 heaped tablespoons of breadcrumbs
2 heaped tablespoons of tomato puree
2 tablespoons of honey (if you’re being authentic, you should go in search of pomegranate molasses, but honey isn’t a bad substitute)
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
A squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

1. Roast the nuts and cumin seeds in the oven for up to 5 minutes at 180°C until the nuts are just starting to brown. (If you are roasting the peppers, you could put them in the oven first, as they’ll take about 30 minutes to roast, alternatively you can grill them.)

2. Blitz the walnuts, cumin seeds and peppers in a food processor.

3. Add the other ingredients to the food processor. Blitz until smooth. I only add a splash of olive oil, but up to 2 tablespoons would work here.

Indulgent Croissant Pudding

I love bread and butter pudding, whether in it’s most traditional form or modernised with trendy ingredients like Brioche or sour cherries. My go-to recipes are Nigella Lawson’s Caramel Crossaint Pudding or Gizzi Erskine’s Bailey’s Chocolate Croissant  Butter Pudding from Gizzi’s Kitchen Magic. Both recipes feel rather extravagant, but you can never have too much of a great thing, right?! And it was that sort of thinking that led me to combining the flavourings, so my latest effort contains Bailey’s, caramel and white chocolate the chunks.

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Indulgent Croissant Pudding (serves 4)

100g caster sugar
30ml water
3 croissants
25g white chocolate, cut into small chunks
250ml milk (or double cream if you’re feeling super extravagant)
3 eggs, beaten
50ml Baileys liqueur

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Add the sugar and water to a saucepan and swirl them together. Heat over a medium heat without stirring. After 3 minutes or so of bubbling away it will darken to a golden colour.
3. While it’s bubbling away, tear the croissants up and put them in a small ovenproof dish with the chocolate chunks.
4. Whisk the milk into the caramel; be very careful as the mixture will bubble up. Add the eggs and the Baileys and whisk well to combine.
5. Pour the custard mixture over the croissants and make sure it covers it well, turning the pieces if necessary. Let it sit for 10 minutes to soak up the custard.
6. Bake for 20 minutes.
7. It is, of course, traditional to serve with more custard.

Cake it to the limit 🎂

I’ve been a baking machine over the last few weeks. We had a wedding in the family, and the bride and groom asked guests to bring cakes for a ‘cake-off’ and I made this toffee apple cake.

 

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There was also an event at work  where we were asked to provide cakes. I made this lemon and almond cake, which went down a storm and tasted fabulous, but was a little crumbly when trying to cut into slices.

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My final contribution was a chocolate mint marble cake.

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Chocolate Mint Marble Cake

175g butter at room temperature
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs
175g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder
Peppermint extract
Green food colouring

Glacé icing
100g icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa
75g chocolate mint bubble-style chocolate bar

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a deep 20cm baking tin with baking parchment.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs in one at a time.

3. Add the flour and baking powder and gently mix in. Divide the mixture into two. For the mint mixture, stir in a few drops of peppermint essence and the green food colouring. For the chocolate mixture, blend the cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon of boiling water. Stir well into a smooth paste. Thoroughly fold this into the cake mixture.

4. Add the two sets of mixture to the tin in a random fashion to make the marble effect. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Ensure the cake is cooked through and is well risen before removing from the oven. Allow to cool. Remove the baking parchment from around the cake.

5. Once the cake is completely cold, you ice the cake. To make the glacé icing, mix the icing sugar, cocoa and 1 tablespoon of hot water thoroughly to make a smooth paste. Pour over the top of the cake. Crumble the bubbly mint chocolate bar and use to decorate the top of the cake, covering the icing.

(I forgot to take a picture of the cake when sliced to show you the inside, but it’s definitely worth the effort for the fun effect.)

Mexican bean balls in a spicy-sweet sauce

These red kidney bean balls in sauce are fantastic serve with rice and topped with some grated cheese.

Mexican Bean Balls in Spicy-Sweet sauce (serves 2-3)

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Bean balls
400g tin of Red Kidney Beans, drained.
2 heaped tablespoons of breadcrumbs
1 egg
5 spring onions
1 tsp dried oregano

Sauce
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 onion, finely chopped
400g passata
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 heaped teaspoon mild chilli powder
1 heaped teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 large sweet potato, cut into small chunks, optional

1. Start by making the kidney bean balls. I usually cook them in the oven, but you could fry them if you prefer. If you’re baking them, preheat the oven to 180°C. In a food processor, pulse together all the ingredients for the bean balls. Roll them into walnut sized balls. Bake them in the oven for 10-12 minutes (or fry them).

2. Meanwhile, you can start making the sauce. Fry the onion and garlic in a pan until soft. Add the passata, sugar, chilli powder and paprika and stir well. For a more substantial sauce add some chopped sweet potato chunks. Cover the sauce and allow to simmer away for 20 minutes. Stir through the coriander.

3. To serve, top the cooked balls with the sauce. This is great served with rice and a topping of cheese.

Harissa style spice blend

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I already have an overflowing herb and spice cupboard, so I’m usually reluctant to add new jars if I think I can recreate the flavours using things I’ve already got. This is my attempt at a Harissa style spice mix. The picture shows the layers of ingredients and makes me smile as it reminds me of a childhood holiday to the Isle of White where my sister and I made souvenirs by layering the 7 different coloured sands in various glass containers. Before using, the layers will need muddling together by stirring, shaking, or ideally grinding in a pestle and mortar. Harissa paste is made with red peppers but I had to substitute that for dried tomato powder as that was what I had in the cupboard!

4 tsp dried tomato powder
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp dried coriander
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp chilli flakes
Pinch of salt, pepper and dried mint

Stir all the ingredients together.

This is great used as a flavouring for roasted potatoes.

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Cheesy Potato and Aspragus Puffs

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These are great for a party snack or for a side dish to accompany your lunch or breakfast. You can experiment with adding different things in place of the asparagus.

Cheesy Potato and Asparagus Puffs (makes 12)

500g potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
8 asparagus spears
2 medium free range eggs
50g grated cheddar cheese
25g butter
3 tbsp milk

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

2. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin. Make sure you do it really well, these ones take a bit of manuoevering to get them out of the tin!

3. Bring the potatoes to the boil and simmer for around 15 minutes until soft.

4. Meanwhile cook the asparagus anyway you choose, I usually steam or cook it in a skillet on the hob. Cut the asparagus into 1 cm long pieces.

5. Seperate two eggs. Whip the whites until fluffy and set to one side.

6. When they are cooked, drain the potatoes well and mash thoroughly.

7. Mix the cheese, asparagus, milk, butter and egg yolks into the potato until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in the whisked egg whites.

8. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

9. On removing the tray from the oven, run a knife around the edge of each puff to ease it away from the tin, but wait until they have cooled before extracting them.