Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Pancakes.

PEANUT BUTTER CUP PANCAKES. Mmmmmhummmm. That's right. And not Reese's Cups IN pancakes...actual peanut butter cup pancakes. Like...a layer of chocolate pancake and a layer of peanut butter pancake IN ONE PANCAKE. I'm quite excited about this discovery...can you tell?

I can't really claim it as my very own Christopher Columbus, someone had been there before me. But also like Christopher Columbus, I'm going to pretend like I've discovered the best thing ever and I should get allll the credit. 

I think these would make really great dessert pancakes with ice cream and chocolate sauce...otherwise make sure you've got a realllllly busy day of running around ahead of you so as to feel justified in sprinkling chopped up actual Reese's Cups on the pancakes.....

Or maybe you had a really busy day yesterday and you need a reward today, or perhaps you've got a hardcore day tomorrow and you need sustenance in preparation, or maybe it's your birthday, or your friends birthday....whatever, just make sure you make these, chuck chocolate at them and have a bloomin' good time. With Love and Cake.

Peanut Butter Pancakes
A few notes:
  • This is just my recipe for peanut butter pancakes split in half and cocoa added to one half. You could add cocoa to the whole thing and just have chocolate peanut butter pancakes without the layering and save a bowl.
  • I served mine with butter and the chopped Reese's Cups but I can imagine they would be scrumptious with Nutella or even chocolate sauce and ice cream.

Makes about 10, depending on how big you want them
You will need

A non-stick frying pan

250g self-raising Flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 heaped tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp cocoa

  • Get your pan on a medium heat.
  • Pop the flour, sugar and baking powder into a bowl and give everything a stir.
  • Now whisk in the milk and egg, followed by the p. butter. You'll have quite a thick, stiff batter.
  • Now add half the batter to another bowl and stir the cocoa into one of the halves...adding a little milk if it gets too stiff to manage.
  • If you want a little help with non-stickness, grease your pan with a bit of butter.
  • Now spoon heaped tablespoons of the chocolate batter into the pan and on top of each add about the same amount of peanut butter batter.
  • Cook for a few minutes and when bubbles start to show on the up-facing surface, give the pancake a flip and cook for another few mins.
  • Keep in a warm oven while you get on with the rest.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I'm having one of those annoying days today where I feel tired and grumpy for absolutely no reason whatsoever...I slept good and I just did a clever internet thing where I downloaded an update for my digital radio which I've been meaning to do for see, life is good, but all I really want to do is sit in a ball and watch Gilmore Girls all day long with a hot water bottle on my knee (though I won't lie I am doing the hot water bottle thing right now anyway).

It's probs because of the poopey weather we've had this week which has got in the way of my total denial that summer is over. HOWEVER, I've just realised that I've already waffled on about the weather for multiple posts already and it's still only September so I really should just shut up and accept that I live in Scotland or move to somewhere in the Indian Ocean.....I'll decide later.

In the mean time I think the answer is cookies. Chocolate chip cookies of course because what else is more cheering? And please don't get me wrong with the whole coconut oil thing...I am nooooooot putting it in biscuits because I've decided it's time to join a commune and grow my own hemp...I'm using it because I bought a big jar of it a while ago to play with and I've mostly been slathering it on my poorly feet when they're angry at me for making them run too far....turns out that doesn't actually use a huge amount, so I thought I'd give it a go in the kitchen. Using it as a butter substitute, as in spreading on toast, doesn't seem right because I LOVE BUTTER and why would you want to meddle with the alchemy of melty butter on toast, but I did fancy having a go at adding the subtle coconutty scent to a spot of baking.

Turns out it's not so subtle and those who are lucky enough to get offered one of these delights will know your ploy before they've even tasted it...but I like it...and if it helps you to go down the hemp route you can definitely convince yourself that you're saving our health by eating the cookies. So if you've got the blues, weather induced or not, make these...or move to Mauritius. With Love and Cake.

Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies.
adapted from lots o' different recipes for the internets

A few notes:
  • If you don't have any coconut oil and don't fancy purchasing then just replace it with butter or hop over to this recipe which are the best chocolate chip recipes evs.
  • You could also twiddle and fiddle with the chocolate here...I use chopped chocolate rather than chocolate chips because it's better chocolate but you use what ever you fancy...white chocolate would be fabby I'm sure.
Makes about 15
You will need

2 x baking sheets, greased

150g coconut oil
190g soft brown sugar
90g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
295g plain flour
pinch salt
200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 180˚c.
  • Beat the coconut oil and two types of sugar until fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla.
  • Fold in the flour, salt and chocolate so you have a stiff dough.
  • Dollop tablespoonfuls of dough onto your baking sheet, leaving a good couple of centimetres between each one for the cookies to expand.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until bronze around the edges but still soft in the centre; don't worry about them being underdone, it'll mean they're nice and soft.
  • Leave the cookies to firm up on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Caramel Apple Cake.

Uh come the apples. It's all over. I love apples, I do, but what I don't love is how they signal that it's all down hill from more strawbs, no more watermelon, raspberries are just a figment of the imagination....until it's time for rhubarb kicks in in spring....and I don't even like rhubarb.

Yes, of course, there's pears too, which are yummers, and all the sticky dried fruits of the festive season, but I proper LOVE fruit, and having no choice for half the year is not my fav.

The cheer up answer? Caaaake...OBVS. I'll just have to spend the dark months concocting all sorts of non-boring apple delights to keep the fruit excitement....seems like a plan. And here seems like a good place to start...and it's not just cake, we have appley sponge, plus buttery apples, plus creamy yoghurt PLUSPLUPLUS the most velvety caramel there ever was. Perhaps we'll make it through the apple season after all. With Love and Cake.

Caramel Apple Cake.
Adapted from a delicious. magazine recipe

A few notes:
  • This recipe is for a THREE LAYERED CAKE. I stole away one of the layers to take to a friend and kept the too other layers to show all you lovely peeps (thought she wouldn't appreciate a slice already hacked out of the cake I was to hand over), but I will keep the recipe written as for 3 layers because that's how I made it and you don't want to be faffing around dividing eggs and such malarky. 
  • Here's how the cake is layered (I sometimes find it easier to comprehend a recipe when you know basically what your making....)

You will need

3 x 20cm loose based cake tins, greased and bottoms lined

For the sponges
4 eating apples (I used cox), peeled, cored and chopped roughly
390g caster sugar
375g butter, at room temp
5 eggs
385g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt

For the filling
4 eating apples (again, I used cox), peeled, cored and sliced
50g caster sugar
70g butter
350ml thick yoghurt

For the caramel
75g butter 
50g soft light brown sugar 
50g caster sugar
50g golden syrup
20g icing sugar
220ml double cream
big pinch salt

  • First we'll make the sponges, and to start off we make a purée out of the apples. Pop the chopped apples in a small saucepan with 50g of the caster sugar and 100ml of water.
  • Heat over a high heat until they've broken down to a fairly smooth purée, hopefully this'll take about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the apples from the pan and leave to cool completely.
  • Preheat the oven to 170˚c.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric hand whisk until pale and creamy.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time followed by the cooked apple.
  • Sift over the flour, baking powder and salt then fold in gently.
  • Divide the mixture evenly between your cake tins and bake for 30 minutes or until they are bronzed and firm in the centre.
  • Leave to cool in the tins until cool enough to handle, then turn them out and leave to cool completely...and I mean completely.
  • Now we make the filling. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and throw in the apples, sugar and butter.
  • Cook, stirring regularly, for around 15 minutes, or until the apples are soft and shiny and just starting to properly caramelise around the edges.
  • When they're done, remove the apples from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.
  • Now we make the caramel. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar. 
  • Bring to a simmer and let lightly bubble away for 7-8 minutes so it turn a proper toffee colour.
  • Pour the caramel into a bowl to allow to cool.
  • When everything is at room temperature, it's assembly time. Place one sponge layer on your serving dish and top with half of the yoghurt, then half of the apples, then drizzle over a tablespoon or so of caramel.
  • Set the next sponge layer on top and top that with the rest of the yoghurt, apples and another drizzle of caramel.
  • Finally add the last sponge layer and pour over the rest of the caramel, allowing to to dribble down the sides. 
  • Oh My....

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Blackcurrant and Thyme Thumbprint Cookies.

Did I tell you that this summer has been the summer that I've got excited about gardening? Last year I had a dabble and produced the odd strawberry and a haul of tomatoes that didn't ripen....but this year, THIS year, I've sewn the seeds, filled watering can after watering can, bought one of those plastic mini greenhouse thingies and have even got Gardeners' World set on series record. I love Monty.

Little sister thinks it's hilarious and has spent most of the summer sarcastically asking how my hanging basket is doing while sniggering down the phone. THANKS for the support.

It's a bit of a weird and scary hobby for me though, because it's not like cooking and baking which I've done forever and know a whole heap about and understand enough to know when recipes need to be followed exactly and when I can tweak and twiddle and know that as long as I follow the fundamental rules all will work out in the end. This is all new and scary and even when I think I'm following all the rules I find out more rules that I didn't know about or I do do all the things I'm supposed to and things still go wrong and my squash gets mildew. Nightmare.

I guess it's all good and about learning and exploring like I must have done in the kitchen in the just takes a while longer in the garden because you've got to wait around for seasons and such like. Anyway, one of the things I learnt from a recent Gardeners' World (I feel like I should take notes there's so much that what watching cooking shows feels like to new cooks?) was that I should cut back my thyme so it makes new, non-woody growth which is preferable for cooking....and like a good little new gardener I did what I was told. This meant I had heaps of the stuff to use up though...hence these little beauties. Don't feel like you have to grown your own though, that magical supermarket place has done all the work for you. Enjoy. With Love and Cake.

Thyme and Blackcurrant Thumbprint Biscuits.
adapted from a recipe by My Darking Lemon Thyme

A few note:
  • The thyme I used was freshly in, I left the bunch I cut from my garden hang around on a plate for a week or could happily use fresh from a packet or pot from a supermarket or your garden...just don't use the jarred dried stuff.
  • You could actually not even use thyme at all, or maybe you'd like to experiment and mix it up with rosemary and marmalade or whatever other combination floats your boat.
  • These whizzed up in my food processor in no time, but feel free to cream the butter and sugar by hand or with an electric whisk and stir the rest in with a spoon.
Makes 10-12
You will need

1 x baking sheet, greased

125g butter, at room temperature
50g caster sugar
2 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp vanilla extract
105g plain flour
50g cornflour
1/2 tsp baking powder
35g ground almonds
about 2 tbsp blackcurrant jam

  • Preheat the oven to 180˚c.
  • Cream together the butter, caster sugar, thyme and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the flour, cornflour, baking powder and ground almonds and bring together to a crumbly dough.
  • Pull off about 1/2 tablespoonfulls of dough at a time and shape into balls.
  • Press lightly onto your prepared baking sheet.
  • Flour your thumb and press into the middle of each biscuit, leaving a slight impression.
  • Fill each little hole with a teaspoon or so of jam.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until just starting to darken around the edges.
  • Leave to firm up on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Hearty Tart.

This isn't officially called Hearty's just the title of the article that I got the recipe from and I've been calling it that in my head ever since I've been meaning to make it. Apparently it's really called 'North Country Tart' which is a ruuuuubbish name is you ask sounds a bit north-racist and I'm pretty sure the people who invented the Bakewell would contest the fact that this is the one and only north country tart. So yes, I renamed it. 

Not that it's actually very hearty...I think of 'hearty' as meaning a bit stodge and stick to your ribs, which while great in its place, is not the right description here...this tart is actually a tad more elegant than that thank you very much. 

But not too elegant don't worry, I mean, there's jam and coconut for goodness sake...very much a kids party kind of the best of way of course.'s actually a bit of a doddle to put together; as long as you've got your pastry situation down then you're covered, there's not even any blind baking. Plus, I don't think you even have to be a tart to make it. With Love and Cake.

Hearty Tart.
recipe adapted from delicious. magazine

A few notes:
  • Apparently the original type of jam used here is raspberry, but I like strawberry better so that's what I used, like the rebel that I am....not...but you use whatever you fancy...I think blueberry might be really yummers with the coconut.
  • Having coconut in the pastry is extra lovely if you're a fan, but if you have a tried and tested pastry recipe that you love do feel free to use that instead.
  • Yep...pastry = food processor but, as ever, you can definitely make it by hand if that's what works for you. Just rub in the butter with your finger tips and bring the dough together by hand.
Serves 8
You will need

1 x 20cm tart tin, greased

For the pastry
150g plain flour
75g butter
30g desiccated coconut
1 1/2 tbsp icing sugar
1 egg yolk (save the white for the filling)

For the filling
100g butter 
50g caster sugar
50g golden syrup
175g desiccated coconut
25g ground almonds
1 egg
about 1/2 jar strawberry jam

  • First things first let's make the pastry. Chuck the flour and butter into your food processor and whixx to the texture of breadcrumbs. 
  • Add the coconut and icing sugar and pulse to combine.
  • Whisk the egg yolk with 2 tbsp of water and add about half the mixture to the food processor. Pulse and add enough of the rest of the yolk to allow the mixture to start to clump together into a smooth dough.
  • Form the dough into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for about half an hour.
  • Roll the pastry out to a size big enough to line your tart tin with a fairly big overhang.
  • Line the tart tin, leaving the overhang as it is, and prick the base all over with a fork. Set the tart tin on a baking sheet and pop in the fridge while you get on with the filling.
  • Preheat the oven to 180˚c.
  • Put the butter, caster sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan and heat gently so the butter melts and sugar dissolves.
  • Stir in the coconut, egg, left over egg white and set aside to cool.
  • Spread the jam over the bottom of the pastry case and top that with the coconut filling.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is bronze and firm.
  • Leave until cool enough to handle before trimming the excess pastry off and turning out of the tin.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Coconut Shortbread.

I'm having a bit of a coconut thing. Forgive me, I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, in fact I think of it as something that is quite divisive, but I love it's chalky texture and mellow taste and I think it's the time of year that is meaning it's making more of a appearance in my kitchen than is regular.

You see, it's dark by 9 o clock now, and it's time to plant bulbs and people start actually knowing how far away (or not) Christmas is. And while it a most beautiful day up here on the east coast of Scotland and I am in fact sitting under a layer of factor 15, I just know what is round the corner and how much I don't want it to be.

I therefore must be subconsciously filling my kitchen with summer for as long as possible before it gets to be allllllll about apples and cinnamon and not much else. And there is not much that feels more summery and holidayish than roasty toasty me anyway. I mean...hellooooo palm trees.

So I'm sorry if it's not one of your faves...but if someone offers you one of these don't immediately turn it down, because the taste is not too in your face coconutty and the texture is really lovely and crisp. Aaaaand I promise that for the time being I only have one more coconut recipe left for you for didn't think I was finished yet did you...but after that I'm done I promise....besides, I've run out of the good stuff. With Love and Cake. 

Coconut Shortbread.
adapted from the very pretty Eat Me!

A few notes:
  • I think these are best cooked until actually turning quite golden around the edges rather that keeping them snow white as you would traditional makes them extra crispy and they look more rustic and homey that way.
  • As usual, I did the food processor thing...and as usual if you can't or don't fancy dragging it out the cupboard, beat the butter and sugar with an electric hand whisk or wooden spoon. Then stir in the rest of the ingredients with a metal spoon before bringing it together gently with your hands.
  • Even with using 2 baking sheets I'm pretty sure you'll still have to bake in several batches...just a heads up.
Makes about 25 big biscuits
You will need

2 x baking sheets, greased

325g cold butter
pinch salt
150g icing sugar
75g ground almonds
75g desiccated coconut
325g flour
4-6 tbsp water

  • Preheat the oven to 160˚c.
  • Add the butter, salt and icing sugar to the bowl of your food processor and whizz to combine.
  • Pulse in the almonds, coconut and flour followed by the water, 1 tbsp at a time until the mix starts to clump together and form a dough.
  • Tip out onto a large square of clingfilm and form into a disc. Wrap in the clingfilm and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  • Roll out the dough to about the thickness of a pound coin and cut out biscuits with whatever shape you fancy really...just make sure it's about 15 cm across.
  • Transfer the shapes to your baking sheets, gather up the rest of the dough and repeat the rolling and the cutting until it's all used up.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes, checking and rotating around the oven at the halfway point.
  • When they're going golden around the edges remove from the oven and leave to firm up for 10 minutes or so before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Chocolate Beetroot Cake.

Did you know beetroot is practically magic. There are trillions of studies all about it, saying how it makes you stronger and speedier and how it makes hard things like running up hills feel less hard. Runner's World are allllways going on about it.

I think if you're, like, a proper mentalist fitty, you're supposed to do shots of the juice at exactly 18 minutes 37 seconds before you run or something...but I think that's only because most people haven't heard that it goes bloomin' great in chocolate cake. 

And that's not in a 'let's take all the goodness out of this cake because I couldn't possibly let gluten/dairy/anything actually tasty past my lips', it is just a really brilliant addition in that it adds unbeatable moistness and something a bit earthy in flavour. Fear not, there is still pleeeenty of butter and sugar and good stuff to keep you going.

So I hope for your sake that you have a Nana and Grandad that grown squillions of fruit and veggies and ring you especially to check what you might want and that you have parents that drive 500 miles to see you and deliver the could always go to a supermarket I suppose but that just doesn't seem like it would be as much fun. With Love and Cake.

Chocolate Beetroot Cake.
A Nigel Slater recipe

A few notes:
  • To cook beetroot, just chuck it in a pan of cold water, bring it to the boil and boil away until tender when you insert a knife...timings are a bit useless because beetroot vary so much in size, especially if you're using home grown stuff, but check first after 20 minutes and then every 10 minutes after that. Once cooled enough to handle the skin will rub off easily with gloved hands or a knife. 
  • You could indeed use the ready cooked stuff that comes vacuum packed in its own juice...just please oh please make sure you don't get confused and buy the pickled stuff.
  • If you don't have a food processor, you could grate the cooked beetroot finely with just an ordinary cheese grater.

You will need

1 x 20cm loose bottomed cake tinned, greased and base lined

200g dark chocolate
4 tbsp hot espresso
200g butter
135g plain flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
3 tbsp cocoa
5 eggs, separated
190g caster sugar
250g beetroot, cooked and peeled and blended to a paste in a food processor

  • Preheat your oven to 180˚c.
  • Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of just-simmering water without letting the bowl and water touch.
  • Leave to melt slowly before stirring in the coffee and butter.
  • Remove from the heat and allow the butter to slowly melt, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, mix together the flour, baking powder and cocoa and set aside.
  • In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. 
  • Fold the sugar into the egg whites and set them aside too.
  • Now beat the egg yolks in a fairly large bowl until frothy.
  • Stir the beetroot into the yolks, followed by the chocolate mixture.
  • Fold in the egg whites and finally sift over the flour mixture and fold that in too.
  • Pour the batter into your cake tin and bake for about 45 minutes, until the cake is firm and skewer comes out clean....I would have a check after 35 minutes.
  • Leave to cool in the tin before turning out and serving with whipped or pouring cream.