13 Feb 2014

Nutella Stuffed French Toast

What better way to surprise your love on Valentines Day than with breakfast in bed.  I'm not just talking cereal and orange juice, don't even think about it.  I'm talking super tasty french toast stuffed to the brim with Nutella and strawberries.  This is the breakfast of kings, the brownie points you'll receive for this bad ass meal will keep you out of trouble for weeks!

Nutella Stuffed French Toast

2 large eggs
50ml milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large slices of bread, preferably brioche
knob of butter
Handful of strawberries, sliced
Icing sugar, for dusting

In a small bowl mix together the milk, eggs, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla.  Set aside.  Heat a large knob of butter in a large frying pan while you prepare your toast.

Spread two slices of bread with a thick slathering of Nutella and sandwich together with the plain slices.  Dip the sandwiches in the egg mixture, one by one ensuring each side is soaked in the egg mixture.  Transfer the sandwiches into the hot frying pan and cook on each side until golden brown.

Remove from the pan and scatter with the sliced strawberries before dusting with icing sugar.  Best served in bed with a mug of tea and a big kiss.

2 Feb 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

One thing about being a baker is you're always expected to supply a showstopping cake for any upcoming Birthdays.  Not that I mind baking for my nearest and dearest, the hard thing is coming up with something to top your previous offering.  That's where this off the hook chocolate peanut butter number comes in.  I'm dreading next year because this cake is going to take some topping!

I decorated the top of my cake with some leftover frosting and Miniature Reeses Pieces but it looks just as good left plain.

200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
3 large free range eggs
200g self-raising flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
100ml tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze:
250g good quality dark chocolate
3 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter
3 tablespoons of golden syrup
150ml double cream

For the frosting:
500g icing sugar
150ml full fat Philadelphia
200g smooth peanut butter
3-4 tablespoons full fat milk


Preheat the oven to 170 C.  Grease and line three 8" cake tins with baking parchment. 

Cream the butter and sugar for around 5 minutes until pale and creamy. Whisk in the eggs, one by one, until combined.  If it starts to curdle just add a table spoon of your flour while mixing.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and add to your egg mixture. Stir the dry ingredients through before adding your milk and vanilla extract.

Divide the mixture between the cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Leave to cool for ten minutes before removing from the tins and continuing to cool an a rack.

While cooling make the glaze.  In a heavy bottomed pan over a low heat melt together the chocolate, peanut butter and golden syrup until smooth and combined.  Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the double cream.  Leave to cool while you frost the cake.

To make the peanut butter frosting, beat the peanut butter with the icing sugar and cream cheese for a few minutes, adding the milk when it feels too still, you want an easily spreadable texture. Using a large pallet knife frost the middles of each cake, stacking as you go.  Frost the cakes all over, smoothing as you go.  This is a great guide to getting super smooth frosting. Leave to set for twenty minutes in the fridge.
Now the fun bit.  Once your frosting has set a little simply pour the glaze over the cake, allowing it to ooze down the side of the cake helping it along with an offset pallet knife.  Pop the cake back into the fridge for an hour before decorating the top as desired.

21 Jan 2014

Mushrooms on Toast

I know I spend a whole lot of time complaining about the weather, but damn is it cold. I've always been a cold climate kinda girl and tend to spend the whole Summer fantasising about the leaves turning brown. Well I'm over it, Winter and I are through. I'm sick of pie, fed up with hot chocolate and bored stiff of steaming bowls of soup. OK, that last one may be a lie, I'll never be bored of soup.

Did you know mushrooms are a fantastic source of vitamin D if you leave them out in the sun for an hour or two? Mind blown, right? The spongy little blighters actually generate the feel good vitamin just like we would if we took a long stroll in the sunshine. Mushrooms now remind me of a brighter time; a time where I'm sat on a terrace sipping on an ice cold glass of wine, and nibbling on juicy garlic mushrooms tumbled over a slab of toasted sourdough. In reality I'd be inside frowning at the rain, it's always raining in Newcastle. 

This rustic dish is super simple and super fast to prepare; so chill your wine, turn the heating up and pretend it's Spring. Don't forget to activate those mushrooms first! 

Mushrooms on Toast 
Serves 2 

2 slices of parma ham 
Knob of butter 
200g mushrooms, I like a mix of wild and forestiere 
2tbsp crème fraîche 
1 large clove of garlic, crushed 
1tbsp thyme, leaves picked 
2 slices of sourdough bread 

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the ham until crisp. Leave the ham to cool on a plate lined with kitchen roll, break into large shards and set aside. Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan and add your mushrooms. Fry for two minutes then add the crème fraîche, garlic and thyme. Cook for a further five minutes or until the mushrooms are nice and soft. Meanwhile, toast your sourdough and arrange on two plates. Tumble the mushrooms over the toast and top with the parma ham.

13 Jan 2014

Coconut Raspberry Macaroons

Coconut macaroons were the treat of choice, visiting the local bakery when I was a little girl.  I'd always beg my mam for a macaroon and a meringue snake (can you remember those?) while out shopping, she'd always relent to shut me up and I'd happily trot along side her munching away in quiet glee.  In recent times the poor little blighters have fallen from grace, shoved from their English limelight by their French counterparts.  Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love French macarons but I will always have a nostalgic soft spot for the good old English version.  

 Unlike macarons, coconut macaroons are so super easy to make.  You're not fretting about the foot developing, cracking on the top or just overall failure, you just blitz and roll. 

The versions I'd have when I was small were always drizzled with chocolate with a sugar paper base.  This is because the stubborn little blighters are notorious for sticking to the baking paper; so if you do decide to make these, work fast and remove them while they're still warm.  Instead of chocolate drizzle, I followed the Smitten Kitchen in adding fresh raspberries. Although I'm sure a small dredge of chocolate wouldn't hurt.

Coconut Raspberry Macaroons
(Loosely adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

300g dessicated coconut
200g caster sugar
3 large eggs whites
100g fresh raspberries
1tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 170C and line two baking sheets with parchment.

Blitz the coconut, caster sugar and egg whites in a food processor for around one minute.  Add the raspberries and pulse until they're mostly pureed but some chunks still remain.

Using your hands, or if you like smaller cookies use an ice cream scoop, roll around 2tbsp of the mixture into small balls and place onto the prepared baking sheet.  Keep going until you've used all of the macaroon mixture, I got 16 large cookies.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until starting to brown.  Remove the cookies from the baking sheet while still warm and place on a wire rack to cool. 

9 Jan 2014

Blueberry Cinnamon Waffles

Happy 2014 everyone.  It's been a bit quiet round these parts recently and for that I can only appologise.  One of my resolutions is to try and update my trusty blog more and not be so neglectful.  It's quite difficult to get excited about baking at home when you spend all day covered in frosting, but I'm turning over a new leaf.  Reignite that passion and lets get in that kitchen!

Now, I'm not one of these girls who start  new year with the mission of losing two stone and hitting the gym with a vengeance.  I'm the exact opposite, my gym membership remains unused and the scales are shoved to the back of my cupboard.  I'm a baker for Pete's sake, you should never trust a slender baker.  Instead of green juices and flax seed I've been waking up to these amazing blueberry and cinnamon waffles.  If I'm totally honest, these waffles aren't all that terrible for you.  They contain no sugar, butter or oil and are bursting with fresh blueberries.  I guess they're almost a health food.  Plus, you get to walk around with that smug 'I've had waffles for breakfast' swagger all morning; come at me world, I've had waffles.

Blueberry and Cinnamon Waffles

250ml water
125ml sour cream
125ml fat free Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
250g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
150g blueberries, reserve some for decoration


Preheat your waffle iron (I use this one and couldn't recommend it enough).
In a large jug mix together the wet ingredients and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk together till you get a smooth batter.  

Cook on a greased waffle iron according to manufacturers recommendation, around 6 minutes for mine.  

Serve warm, pile with blueberries and drizzle with maple syrup. Feel ready to tackle the day ahead with appropriate gusto.