Apple and thyme scones

I was very lucky to be taken on a trip to the Lake District for my birthday.  We ate out at Fellinis in Ambleside and the restaurant was lovely.  I ate Potato, leek and applewood smoked cheddar pastry with leek butter sauce to start and then pecan and beetroot salad, followed by brioche pudding.

When it came to dessert I was torn, and Apple and Thyme Crumble came in at a close second place. Intrigued by the idea of apple and thyme together, I decided to have a go at making apple and thyme scones.

Apple and thyme scones

Apple and Thyme Scones (Makes about 10 scones) 

1 medium Granny Smith apple
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
225g plain flour
3 level tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
50g butter, diced
50g caster sugar
150ml milk
1/2 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C.

2. Peel and core the apple and cut into small cubes.  Put them into a bowl and cover with the lemon juice to stop the apple discolouring while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into another large bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour.  Mix in the sugar, thyme and the apple. Add the milk into the dry mixture, reserving about 1 tbsp for glazing the top.

3. Mix everything together using a knife.  The dough will be soft but shouldn’t be sticky.  Roll out on a floured surface.  Use a cutter to cut the scones out.

4. Place on a lightly greased baking tray.  Brush the tops of the scones with the rest of the milk.

5. Bake for about 12 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the scones are nicely risen.

Other ideas for flavourings for scones:

Orange and dried cranberries
Apple and glace ginger or Apple and cinnamon
Cherry and ground almonds
Blueberries

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Chocolate Orange Rock Buns

When it comes to food and eating out, I often like to try something different, but I am  prepared to admit that sometimes the classics shouldn’t be messed with. I don’t think there’s much that needs changing when it comes to Rock Buns; they’re one of my favourite easy recipes when you want something comforting to eat alongside a nice cup of tea. However, I’ve recently been tempted to try something a bit different and it did make a nice change, so here’s my suggestion for Chocolate Orange Rock Buns

Chocolate Orange Rock Buns (makes 12)

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200g self raising flour
25g cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
125g butter
50g granulated sugar
115g sultanas
1 egg
Finely grated zest of ½ an orange
3 tbsp Orange juice
Demerara sugar for sprinkling

 

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and lightly oil two baking trays.

2. Soak the sultanas in 2 tbsp of the orange juice.

3. Add the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder to a bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

4. Add the sugar, egg, sultanas and any remaining juice and orange zest and mix well. The mixture needs to be stiff, but not too dry. Add a splash more orange juice if needed, only adding a little at a time.

5. Use two teaspoons to dollop the mixture in 12 rough heaps on the baking sheets, remember they are meant to look rugged! Sprinkle the Demerara sugar over the top. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

These are best eaten soon after baking.

It’s easy to make vegan rock cakes too. I just substitute vegan vegetable spread for the butter and 3 tbsp non-dairy milk for the egg.

Chocolate Caramel Cake

This started out life as a Mint Chocolate Cake from the Jamie Oliver magazine. I had such a lot of complements for my version of that cake, that I wanted to adapt it for my friend’s birthday cake, by trying a different flavour combination.

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Cake

175ml vegetable oil
425g caster sugar
3 large free range eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
375g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
500ml milk

Icing

300g caramel sauce from a jar or tin
250g butter, softened
500g icing sugar
At least 1 tbsp milk

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a line three 20cm round cake tins.

2. Mix together the oil and sugar using an electric mixer. Mix for at least one minute, until smooth.

3. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk for a further 3 minutes until the mixture is pale.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and Bicarbonate of soda. Mix the dry ingredients into the oil and sugar, along with the milk. Be careful as the mixture is quite sloppy – I’ve found it has a tendency to slosh out of the bowl!

5. Once the mixture is well combined, divide between the 3 cake tins. Bake in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes. Test to see if 5he Cake is ready by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake. If the skewer comes out clean, then it’s cooked. Allow the cakes to cool.

6. To make the icing, in an electric mixer thoroughly mix 200g caramel sauce and the butter until completely smooth. Add a splash of milk and half the icing sugar and mix together for 3 minutes. Continue to add the icing sugar as needed until you get the right spreadable consistency. If you add too much icing sugar, you can add a splash more milk.

7. Construct the cake by sandwiching the layers of cake together using a dollop of the remaining caramel and a generous amount of the icing. Use the remaining icing to cover the top and sides in your desired style. I also added some Caramac, cake crumbs and some crushed Werther’s Originals as extra decoration.

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Here’s a picture of the mint chocolate version.

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.)

Sticky marzipan and cherry buns

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Stick marzipan and cherry buns (makes 12)

150g butter
150g caster sugar
2 large free range eggs
150g self raising flour
1 tsp almond extract
75g glacé cherries, washed and halved
50g marzipan, cut into 5mm cubes

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare a bun tray by lining with bun cases.

2. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, alternating with mixing in some of the flour. Once all the flour is stirred in, add the almond extract.

4. Stir in the cherries and the marzipan pieces.

5. Divide the mixture between the bun cases. Bake for 20 mins until golden and risen.

6. If you want to ice the buns, I would suggest starting with this recipe here.  I made a wet style icing, but you can make something firmer and good for piping if you want by playing around with the volumes of ingredients.

 

Chocolate thumbprint cookies

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100g Butter, at room temperature
100g Caster Sugar
3 heaped tablespoons Cocoa powder
Pinch of Salt
1 tsp Baking powder
½ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
175g Plain flour
100g White chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

2. Cream together the sugar and the butter. Then mix in the cocoa powder until well combined.

3. Add the salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and flour and mix briskly together.

4. Prepare 2 large baking sheets by covering them in baking paper.

5. Roll the mixture into walnut sized balls and place on the baking sheets, keeping them well spaced. Press your thumb into the middle to make a indent.

6. Bake in the oven for 7-9 minutes for a chewy texture. You can leave them in longer if you want a firmer texture.

7. When you take the biscuits out of the oven, press your thumb into them again to make sure the dent remains.

8. Allow the biscuits to cool.

9. Melt the white chocolate.  I do this in the microwave, but take care to melt the chocolate gently as it can easily burn. Use the chocolate to fill the indent. Allow the chocolate to set. (If, like me you are taking these biscuits to a Lego themed event you can top them with a Lego brick modelled from modelling icing.)

This recipe is based on a recipe from A Pinch of Yum.