Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Butternut Squash and Sausage Soup and Rustic Bacon and Cheddar Bread

I love soups and my family and I welcome a steaming bowl of home-made soup on a cold autumn’s day or evening served with your favourite crusty bread. This Butternut Squash and Sausage Soup is easy, quick and delicious. The sausages add a yummy touch and something I would never have thought to add to a bowl of soup but it works! I made some Rustic Bacon and Cheddar Bread to serve with the soup. This savoury bread is seriously easy and loaded with cheese and bacon. A delicious bread that is full of flavour and perfect to serve with soup or eaten on its own.

Butternut Squash and Sausage Soup

Serves 8-10

7 juniper berries
1 ½ tsp caraway seeds
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 small parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 small carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
6 pure pork sausages
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190oC/375oF/gas mark 5.

Crush the juniper berries and caraway seeds with a pestle and mortar. Put all the vegetables, the oil, spices and seasoning in a large roasting pan and mix with your hands until the vegetables are well coated with the oil and spices. Pop into the oven for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are golden and soft, turning over once halfway through cooking, to ensure they are evenly roasted. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Meanwhile, fry the sausages in a large pan.

Puree the vegetables with enough water to give a lovely soupy consistency and season to taste. Remove the sausages from the pan and slice them. Pour the soup into the pan, add the sausages, stir through, then reheat.

Recipe from Soups & Stews by Sophie Conran

Rustic Bacon and Cheddar Bread

Makes 1 Loaf

320g (11½ oz) plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
100g (3½ oz)Cheddar cheese, grated
100g (3½ oz) bacon lardons, cooked until just crisp in a little sunflower oil and cooled
200ml (7fl oz) milk
2 eggs
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
60ml (2fl oz) olive oil

13 x 23cm (5x9in) loaf tin

Preheat the oven to 180OC (350oF), Gas mark 4. Lightly oil and line the loaf tin with parchment paper.

Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the grated cheese and the cooled bacon lardons and mix well. Pour the milk into a large measuring jug, add the eggs, mustard and olive oil and whisk to combine.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the liquid, stirring all the time until it is fully incorporated, to form a fairly liquid dough. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 50 minutes. Remove from the tin and allow to cook for a further 10 minutes on the oven shelf to crisp up the bottom. When cooked, it will sound hollow when tapped on the base. Allow to cool on a wire rack before eating.

Recipe from Bake by Rachel Allen

Friday, 26 September 2008

Sweet Potato and Pecan Bread

Yesterday morning the postie delivered Rachel Allen’s new book called Bake, and I could hardly wait to sit down in the evening and enjoy my new book. This book is wonderful, I love it, it’s packed full of recipes that make you want to get in the kitchen and bake! For me this is sign of a truly worthwhile book and one I know I will get plenty use of. So this morning I wasted no time in starting my mission to bake from my new book. This moist Sweet Potato and Pecan Bread is a delight with it's sweet yet spicy flavours of nutmeg, mixed spice and cinnamon. One bite and you’ll want more. This robust and luscious loaf is excellent and easy to love!

Sweet Potato and Pecan Bread

Serves 12

3 eggs
150ml (¼ pint) vegetable oil
200g (7oz) soft light brown sugar
300g (11oz) sweet potato, peeled and grated
100g (3 ½oz) pecans, chopped
180g (6 ½ oz) self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp mixed spice

13 x 23cm (5 x9in) loaf tin

Preheat the oven to 150oC (300oF), Gas mark 2. Line the loaf tin with parchment paper.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the oil, sugar, grated sweet potato and chopped pecans. Sift in the dry ingredients and bring the mixture together using a wooden or metal spoon.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, smooth the surface and bake in the oven for 1-1 ¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes before removing. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

You can use walnuts instead of pecans, if you like, or add raisins or other dried fruit.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Apple and Oat Crumble~British Food Fortnight Challenge!

Antonia from Food Glorious Food is doing a fantastic blog event from the 20th September till 5th October for British Food Fortnight to celebrate the diverse range of food that Britain produces. I couldn’t wait to take part in this event as I love any excuse to cook or bake, especially traditional British classics like the Apple and Oat Crumble I have chosen. Apple crumble is one of those puddings most of us were taught in Home Economics Class at school and has remained a favourite that evokes wonderful childhood memories for me. What I love about crumbles is how versatile they are, you can use any fruit in season or chopped nuts and spices to the crumble mix and are popular during the Autumn and Winter months. This morning the postie delivered Rachel Allen’s new book, Bake (gosh I love it when the postie delivers cookbooks, it’s the best). I did have planned to make another crumble but upon flicking through my new book I came across this recipe and decided to make this one instead. This was such an easy recipe to make and a great reason to use the Bramley apples my mother in law picked from the Bramley trees she has at her country lodge in Cambridge. The adding of the oats gives this crumble a nutty flavour and crunchy texture. You can serve this with ice cream or whipped cream but my choice and without a doubt the only thing you should serve with a crumble is hot luscious custard!

Apple and Oat Crumble

Serves 6

3-4 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into big chunks
1 tbsp water
2-3 tbsp caster sugar

For the crumble
150g (5oz) plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
75g (3oz) butter, chilled and cubed
25g (1oz) porridge oats
75g (3oz) soft light brown sugar

1 litre (1 ¾ pint) pie dish or six ramekins

Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF), Gas mark 4.
Place the apples, water and sugar into a saucepan set over a gentle heat and cook, stirring every minute or so to prevent it sticking, for approximately 10 minutes or until the apples become a soft pulp. Taste and add more sugar if necessary. Transfer into the pie dish or six ramekins and allow to cool slightly.

Next, make the crumble. Place the flour and cinnamon (if using) in a large bowl, add the butter and, using your fingertips, rub it in until the mixture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs. (Don’t rub in too much or the crumble will not be crunchy). Add the oats and sugar and mix to combine, and bake for 15 minutes for small crumbles or 30-40 minutes for a large one until cooked and golden. Serve warm with custard, whipped cream or ice cream.

There' s nothing so yummy as a humble crumble!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Introducing Ollie!

Last month I promised some pics of my new baby Kitten Ollie that my gorgeous hubby bought me for my birthday. I went to visit him on Saturday and his doing well and has grown a little since I last saw him. As he is a registered pedigree British Shorthair Cream by pedigree laws you cannot take them home till they are 13 weeks and believe me it's been a long month waiting!! But I will be picking Ollie up next week on Wednesday and I'm counting the days down till I can bring him home, I can’t wait!

Pic of Ollie with my son Jake

Beautiful Site Award

I have been awarded with the Beautiful Site Award by my dear friend Rosie from Rosie Bakes a "Peace" of Cake. Thanks so much Rosie, you made my day!

I would like to pass this award onto the following blogs:

Erica at Oh my! Apple Pie!
Happy Cook at My Kitchen Treasures
Antonia at Food, Glorious Food!
Margaret at Kitchen Delights
Airy Fairy at Airy Fairy Cupcakes

Please pass the award on!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Blackberry and Cinnamon Yogurt Loaf

I live for the weekends and spending time with my hubby and son. Today has been everything I enjoy about the weekends. Hubby and I started our day off by visiting one of our local National Trust places for a nice long walk and done some blackberry picking on our way home. On arrival home I had a new and exciting recipe lined up from a new book (Good Housekeeping Easy to Make Cakes & Bakes) I picked up from the National Trust shop to use with my freshly picked blackberries. This loaf cake was quick, easy and the aroma while baking was divine. The combination of blackberries, cinnamon, and lemon flavours worked wonderfully to produce this moist loaf cake that you can enjoy anytime of the day!

Blackberry and Cinnamon Yogurt Loaf

125ml (4fl oz) sunflower oil, plus extra to grease
175g (6oz) plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ ground cinnamon
200g (7oz) fresh or frozen blackberries
125g (4oz) golden caster sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
125ml (4fl oz) Greek Yogurt
3 medium eggs, beaten
Icing sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 190oC/170oC fan oven/Gas mark 5. Grease and baseline a 900g/2lb loaf tin.

Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl, add the blackberries and toss to coat. Make a well in the centre.

In another bowl, whisk together the caster sugar, oil, lemon zest and juice, yogurt and eggs. Pour into the well of the flour mixture and stir.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, level the surface and bake for 55 minutes (cover lightly with foil if the top is browning too quickly) or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave in the tin to cool. Remove from the tin and dust with icing sugar.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Blueberry and Apple Loaf Cake

Do you have a recipe that is a family favourite and one that you have made so many times you’ve lost count? Well I’d like to share this favourite tried and tested recipe with you. I’ve baked this so many times and is beyond a doubt a much-loved favourite with my hubby. This morning I decided to bake him this cake to have when he comes home from work this evening, his work schedule lately has been hectic and he's looking forward to a relaxing weekend. What better way to start than with some home-baked goodness! This loaf can only be described as a simple but delightfully delicious combination of blueberry and apple within a tender and crumbly sponge.

Blueberry and Apple Loaf Cake

125g chilled butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
225g self-raising flour
175g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2-3tbsp milk
2 large eating apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
125g blueberries
2 tbsp apricot jam (I used marmalade)

Preheat the oven to 190oC/fan 170oC/gas 5. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line with baking paper or a paper loaf tin liner. Sieve the flour into a food processor with a pinch of salt and add the butter. Whizz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, eggs and milk and whiz again to make a smooth mixture. Pour half the cake mixture into the loaf tin, then scatter with half the apples and half the blueberries. Pour over the remaining cake mixture, then scatter with the remaining fruit. Bake for 1 hour, or until risen and firm. To test it, insert a skewer into the centre- it should come out clean. Put the apricot jam into a small bowl and microwave the jam on high for 20 seconds to melt. Brush the glaze over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Award Time

Reeni from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice has given me this great award and I feel so honoured, thanks so much! If you haven't visited her blog then do so, she has an inspiring blog and the cutest cat called Moon.

I would like to give this award to the following 6 blogs:
Hayley at Away with the FairyCakes
Tanya at Sunday Baker
Bea at El Rincón de Bea
Ivy at Kopiaste to Greek Hospitality
Lori at The Recipe Girl
Rosie at Rosie Bakes a "Peace" of Cake

Please pass this on!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Banana Butterscotch Mini Loaf Cakes

Today I decided to make my own recipe and at the same time use my new mini loaf tin that I bought a few months back. I was going to incorporate blueberries with banana but then remembered I had a big bag of butterscotch chips in the cupboard that would be the perfect combination and so my creation was born! These pale golden mini loaves were everything I was hoping for, they are moist, succulent and packed with that luscious distinctive butterscotch flavour. All in all these are delicious and my boys love them, so that makes me a happy baker ;o)

Banana Butterscotch Mini Loaf Cakes

Makes 5 to 6 mini loaf cakes

100g unsalted butter, softened
90g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
130g self-raising flour
50g butterscotch chips
1 large banana

Preheat the oven to 180oC/fan oven 160oC. Lightly grease the tins.

Beat the butter until light. Add the sugar and beat till light and fluffy. Add one egg and sift 1 tbsp of flour. Mix in well. Add 2nd egg the same way and add 1 tsp vanilla and mix. Sift in the rest of the flour and mix well. Fold in the butterscotch chips. Cut the banana in slices. Fill the tins one third of the way up. Place slices (about 3) of banana in each tin and push down slightly. Cover each banana with the rest of the mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Blackberry and Apple Cake

Blackberry and Apple is a classic autumn combo of flavours and one you normally use in crumbles or cakes but today I’ve combined these flavours and different textures into one heavenly autumnal cake! This great recipe is by one of my favourite food writers, Nigel Slater and if you’ve never tried his recipes, this is the perfect one to start with. This cake delivers a moist almond based sponge, a layer of juicy fruits and a layer of buttery crunchy crumble! I will definitely be making this cake again and it would also make a mouth-watering pudding, with lashings of hot custard of course.

Blackberry and Apple Cake

Serves 8-10

For Cake:
150g softened butter
150g caster sugar
3 large eggs
75g plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
110g ground almonds
1 large dessert apple
150g blackberries

For Crumble:
100g cold butter
100g plain flour
110g demerara sugar
2 tbsps whole rolled oats
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Grease a 20cm loose-bottomed springform cake tin, 6cm deep and line with baking parchment.

Preheat oven to 180oC/fan oven 160oC/gas 5.

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them lightly with a fork, then add them bit by bit to the butter and sugar. If it appears to curdle, add a little flour. Mix the flour and baking powder together, and fold the flour into the butter mixture with a metal spoon, followed by the ground almonds. Spoon the batter into the cake tin and smooth the top. Core and quarter the apple then cut it into thin slices. Push the slices gently into the top of the cake. Tip the blackberries over the top. For crumble, rub the butter into the flour, then stir in the sugar, oats and cinnamon. Scatter the mixture over the top of the cake. Bake for 1 hour, and then push a skewer into the centre. It will come out slightly wet from the fruit, but should have no cake mixture on it. Leave to cool, then dust with icing sugar.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Peanut Butter Chip Muffins

Hubby and I didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night and were kept up by the inconsiderate students opposite our house having a party on a Monday night, in the end we called the local council and reported them for the noise and they came out with the police and put an end to their party (I don’t mind people having parties but these students since moving in have been having parties nonstop and some of us folk have to get up and work)! So this morning I was feeling tired and didn’t have any plans on doing any baking but I spied this easy recipe online and I got excited to use my peanut butter chips that came in my birthday goodie box from the US. These muffins are simply irresistible and as they baked in the oven the kitchen was full with the scent of peanut butter. I was expecting the sponge on these muffins to be a little dry and dense due to the peanut butter but surprisingly they are a gorgeous moist light sponge!

Peanut Butter Chip Muffins

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (or smooth)
2 large eggs
1 cup milk (low fat or skim is fine)
3/4 cup peanut butter chips or milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar.In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, peanut butter, eggs and milk until smooth. Pour into flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.Divide batter into your paper-lined muffin tin. Each cup should be filled to the top, not just half way up, to ensure you get a nice dome on the muffin.Bake for 17-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top of the muffin springs back when lightly pressed.Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Butterfinger Blondies

On my birthday I was the lucky recipient of a box of wonderful goodies from the US, sent by my beautiful dear friend Patty. One of the goodies was Butterfingers! I can’t begin to describe how good these bars are and after sharing one pack with my boys I had to use the other pack to bake these blondies. These are scrumptious and you can really taste the chopped butterfinger candy dotted within the sticky chewy sponge. I have a feeling they won’t last long once my boys have anything to do with them!

Butterfinger Blondies

2¼ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup butter, softened
2¼ cups brown sugar
3 large eggs
1½ tsp vanilla extract
4 regular-sized butterfinger candy bars, crushed

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 13x9-inch baking pan.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, with electric mixer at medium speed, combine butter and brown sugar.
Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth.
Stir in flour mixture and 1 cup of crushed butterfingers.
Spread in prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining crushed butterfinger bars over top of batter.
Bake 30- 35 minutes, or until the bars are a bit firm to the touch. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Apple Sour Cream Muffins

I think summer is a distant memory here in the UK, a sure sign last night when I felt cold for the first time in a while and asked hubby to get the open fire going in the living room! I love autumn and September heralds the beginning of my favourite season and everything it brings. The night's drawing in, the leaves changing colour and falling from the trees, cooking more soups, casseroles, and hot puddings. Not to mention taking long countryside walks on a Sunday, wearing jeans, jumpers, fluffy socks and my Ugg boots, lighting candles of an evening and lighting our open fire and sitting next to it with a good cookbook, cuppa and my cats by my side. Autumn also brings Halloween and Bonfire Night, which I really enjoy each year and where I have lots of fun in my kitchen baking up lots of treats. Apples are in abundance during these autumn months and there are so many delicious recipes that you can bake using the many varietys available at this time. If you ever have apples that need using up then this is the recipe! These muffins are the easiest and best Apple Sour Cream Muffins ever. A tender, moist sour cream batter which is home to chunks of diced apples and topped with a hint of cinnamon and an apple slice. Stir up these delicious muffins for a weekend breakfast or anytime you fancy your kitchen smelling like a bakery. Wishing you all a beautiful Autumn season!

Apple Sour Cream Muffins

Makes 24 muffins (but I ended up with 33)

1 cup or 2 sticks butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
3 apples, diced
1/4 cup milk

Topping (optional)
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
slices of apple

Preheat the oven at 180oC/160oC fan/400F. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy before blending in the eggs and vanilla. Sift in the dry ingredients, mix well before adding in the sour cream and blending. Fold in the diced apple by hand and add in the milk as needed if the batter is too stiff. Scoop into muffin liners. Dust with the cinnamon sugar mix and top each muffin with a slice of apple. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops of the muffins spring back when touched.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Lemon Curd Muffins

This morning I decided it was a perfect day to put one of my latest cookbooks (100 Muffins & Scones) to use and bake something new and yummy! There are many great recipes in this book which I have bookmarked to make at a later date but today I opted to bake these Lemon Curd Muffins, also remembering I had a jar of lemon curd in the cupboard to use. These were very easy and quick to make up, in fact I was thinking they would be perfect for when unexpected guests call to say they are swinging by. I love the tartness of the lemon curd topping with the flavour creeping in once more as you hit the middle of the sponge. A delectable muffin that all you lemon lovers out there would love!

Lemon Curd Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

200g/7oz self-raising flour
100g/3 ½ oz golden caster sugar
1 large egg
75ml/3fl oz sunflower oil
150ml/5fl oz milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
60ml/12 tsp lemon curd

For the sugar coating:
60ml/4 tbsp lemon curd
50g/2oz golden caster sugar

Heat the oven to 190oC/375oF/gas 5. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Sieve the flour into a bowl and stir in the sugar. In a large jug mix together the egg, sunflower oil, milk and vanilla extract using a fork. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir gently together until just combined. Put a teaspoon of mixture in the base of each paper case. Top with 1 tsp lemon curd. Top with the rest of the muffin mixture.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until risen and firm.

For the sugar coating, microwave the lemon curd on high for 1 minute until melted. Put the sugar into a shallow bowl. Brush on top of each muffin and dip the tops of each one in sugar to coat the tops.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Victoria Sandwich Cake ~ Sweet and Simple Bake!

The time has come again to show case our monthly bake over at Sweet and Simple Bakes and this month Rosie presented us with a traditional classic British recipe for Victoria Sandwich Cake. This is the simplest of cakes with its light sponge and variety of fillings. I decided to omit the buttercream or whipped double cream and opt for a simple filling of strawberry jam and finished off with a sprinkling of sugar, perfect for serving with tea or coffee!

If you would like to re-create this classic recipe, you can find the recipe here.