Snickerdoodles

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Well, its been a busy week, with riding lessons, nurse and hospital appointments,meeting up with friends, parents visiting, friends visiting and watching rugger ( what else!) oh and the dreaded thesis work continues albeit at a very slow pace.

A very close old school friend was visiting relatives nearby, so we took the opportunity of only being 40 minutes away from each other, as opposed to 3 1/2 hours away, to meet up for a gossip, lunch and a wee spot of shopping. We had agreed I would pick her up and have a coffee  ( or a fly cup) with her lovely Granddad, who I haven’t seen for about 18 years, his partner and my friends daughter, before heading out for the day.

Oh, how times have changed, as our get togethers used to consist of copious amounts of alcohol ( some unidentifiable), singing loudly and out of tune , losing a purse or contents of a bag, then heading to the latest opening local pub for the most awesome cheese toasties in the world!

Anyhoo, given that I was invited for a cuppa I thought it would be nice to bring along some home baking, and I thought Snickerdoodles would be a good choice.

Snickerdoodles are not a common biscuit ( or cookie or whatever you call them) in Scotland, with most people I have made these for having never even heard of them, let alone tasted them. Despite this, everyone I have made them for, has loved them, both adults and children.

The good thing about Snickerdoodles is that they are so simple to make and the ingredients are ones that you will have on hand in your store cupboard already.  The dough does need to chill for an hour, so overall they do take about 1 hour and 40 mins to make, but its not an excessive amount of time by any stretch of the imagination.

Also the name Snickerdoodle… is it just the child in me that thinks this name is funny? What does this name even mean?

This is my go to snickerdoodle recipe . I’m not sure where it came from, it simply appeared in my recipe book scribbled in pink ink and covered with the remnants of snickerdoodle ingredients.

Ingredients- (makes about 12 Snickerdoodles).

Cookie: 113 grams of butter ( only Scottish Organic butter will do for me!), 112 grams of granulated sugar, 55 grams of brown sugar, 1 egg ( organic or when I can’t get this I use local), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 210 grams of plain flour ( Scottish farm milled), 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.

Topping: 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Cream the butter and both the brown and granulated sugars together ( but not the 2 tablespoons of sugar indicated in the topping section of the ingredients). Then add the egg and the vanilla and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar and mix. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Gather the dough into a ball, cover in cellophane or wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

At this point for me it was 7:30am, and I was still in my jammies, so my hour was spent showering, drying and straightening hair, applying make up, eventually deciding what to wear and dressing…. funny how an hour goes by so quickly! Maybe you can spend your hour doing something more exciting.

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Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.

Combine the 2 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon for the topping in a separate bowl.

Pinch about 2 tablespoons of dough from the ball of dough and roll into a small ball. Then roll the ball into the sugar/ cinnamon mix to cover and place on a lined baking tray.

Bake for between 14- 18 minutes or until golden brown. In my oven it takes the whole 18 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes and then move to a cooling rack.

 

 

 

Farmhouse Fruit Cake

I recently purchased a couple of new ( well new to me, they were actually described as used, hence the cheap price I got them for) cookbooks. One of which was the “Yeo Valleys Great British Farmhouse” cookbook by Sarah Mayor which contains traditional recipes made as she was growing up on the family farm as well as recipes made today in their staff / conference venue restaurant.

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How cute is this cover with the cartoon cow and carrots!

 

I noted there was a recipe for Farmhouse Fruit cake, and given that I love fruit cake/loaf, and so does my hubby, I knew I had to give this recipe a go.

Ingredients

550 grams of mixed fruit ( I used a mixture of raisins, sultanas, cranberries, mixed peel, dates and apricots, but you could use whatever you had one hand), 120ml of boiling water, 450 grams of Self Raising flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of mixed spice, a large pinch of salt, 300 grams of soft butter, 300 grams of caster sugar, 4 medium eggs, 200mls of whole milk and 2 teaspoons of brown sugar ( although the recipe states demerara however I didn’t have any).

Add the mixed fruit to a bowl and add the hot water. Stir together and leave for 1 hour, going back and stirring occasionally.  After 1 hour, place the fruit onto a tea towel and dry. Beware it will cover your towel with a gunky brown mess!  Photo evidence below.

Then add the fruit to a dry bowl and add two tablespoons from the 450 grams of flour and stir to combine.

Preheat your oven to 150° C and grease and line a 9 inch cake tin. My lining has a funny fold as I didn’t quite get the size of the tin right and cut the length too short, so had to add another piece to fill the gap! The recipe also advised to fold a few sheets of newspaper to create a thick band and wrap around the outside of the tin. Tie in place with some string. This is to protect the cake sides from being overly browned or burnt especially with being in the oven for a long time.

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Sift the remaining flour and the mixed spice into a bowl.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each one, however add a tablespoon of flour with each of the last two eggs.  The add half the remaining flour, half the milk, then the rest of the flour and then the rest of the milk, mixing well after each addition.

 

 

Then fold the fruit into the mix,  pour into the cake tin and sprinkle the brown sugar on top. Place in the oven.

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The recipe states to cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes, however I cooked mine for 1 hour and 30 minutes in a fan assisted oven and it was ready when I tested with a cocktail stick ( it came out clean). I would recommend keeping an eye on it but not opening the oven door too early. Never open the oven door until the cake is 3/4 of the way through the cooking time given. Opening the door early will mean the temperature will drop and the cake could collapse. Thanks Queen Delia for this brill tip!

Remove from oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes or so and remove the side of the cake tin. I left the bottom of the tin and the grease proof paper on until the cake was completely cool , then removed them.

I found that my fruit sank to the bottom despite covering them in flour. In the future I would add more flour to the mixture to see if I could make this cake mix less liquid in order to stop the fruit sinking.

This recipe makes quite a big cake, so would recommend making if you are having a lot of people over or you love fruit cake. Hubbie comes in for his lunch every day with his colleague and they both enjoy a fancy piece* or two with their cuppa tea so this will get devoured pretty quickly in our house! Or you could half the recipe and use a smaller cake tin.

*A ” fancy piece” means a cake in Scotland, actually its usually just in the North East ( Aberdeen/ Aberdeenshire) that I have found this term used and there its pronounced ” Funcee”.  However a “piece or pieces” simply means sandwiches, although I find myself dropping the ” fancy” and simply using “piece” for cake…. just to confuse you more!

Sorry for the impromptu Scots language lesson!

 

 

 

 

Fake Dan Cake

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This weekend was a busy and varied one with alot of driving and rushing about, but also a lot of fun.  On the Saturday, hubbie had a rugger game to play and we also had his cousins 21st Birthday party in the evening. On the Sunday we visited hubbie’s gran, saw some newborn lambs at his Uncles farm, as well as going to visit friends and their lovely wee baby girl.

Whilst hubbie was away at rugger on the Saturday, I had just had enough time to whip up a wee cake for our Sunday visit to friends.

Now, I wanted to make a Dan cake. Not sure why its called a Dan cake but this was a cake that our friend, who had been my hubbie’s flatmate at University, used to devour, not by the slice, but by the cake. As I recall it was basically a lemon madeira cake, in a half moon shape with thick icing on the top with a chocolate swirly pattern on top.  I have never been able to buy it in the shops since we left Uni , so I had a difficult time remembering how it actually tasted.

As I was unable to find a recipe I decided to use the basic madeira cake recipe from Nigella but added slightly more lemon juice and lemon zest and made up a basic icing topping, to make a ” Fake Dan Cake”.

Madeira cake is my dads favourite cake and I always make it, when he comes to visit or I  visit him, using this Nigella recipe. It is a really good, simple and easy recipe and I have found the cake turns out perfect each time (Oops think I just jinxed this now!).

Ingredients

240 grams of softened butter, 200 grams of caster sugar ( original recipe also states to have some extra sugar to sprinkle on top prior to going in oven, but I skipped this step as I was going to cover the top with icing), grated zest and juice of 2 lemons ( original recipe is 1 ), 3 large eggs, 210 grams of self raising flour and 90 grams of plain flour.

Topping: 125 grams of icing sugar and some cold water ( packet instructions)

Preheat oven to 170 °C. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together.

 

Add the grated lemon zest

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Add the eggs one at a time and with each egg add a tablespoon of flour and mix until combined. Add the remaining flour and the lemon juice and mix well.

 

Spoon into a loaf pan ( I still used a loaf pan even though the original cake was in a half moon shape). Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until a cocktail stick comes out clean.

Leave for about 5 minutes then remove from the loaf pan and place on a cooling rack.

Once cooled, make up some icing according to packet instructions and then drizzle on top from side to side.  So it actually looked nothing like the original Dan Cake, as it was not in a half moon shape nor did it have a thick icing layer on top and I couldn’t be 100% sure that it actually tasted like a Dan cake, but I went down very well.

Given the travelling we had to do on the Saturday, once the cake was ready I placed it in a cake carrier and strapped it into the back of my messy and dirty car and headed to pick up hubby from rugby.

 

Included a wee fuzzy photo of me and hubby at 21st party , smiles and red faces says it all!

Weekend. DONE!

Strawberry Shortcake (cake)

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The Easter Dinner saga continues…..

I struggled to narrow down the dessert for Easter Dinner as there are so many new recipes that I’ve found, in recipe books and from other bloggers, that I really really want to try. I now have a list of      ” Things I have to bake “ unfortunately ( or fortunately ‘cos they all look amazing and I will taste them all eventually ) the list keeps getting longer and longer!

At the end of the day, if a recipe has all good things in it then it can only taste good ( I think it was Mary Berry who said something along those lines) so really it didn’t matter which recipe was chosen for dessert as any of them would have tasted good in the end.

I ended up making Pioneer Woman’s Strawberry Shortcake cake ( although hubbie steadfastly refused to use the extra cake in the title deeming it to be redundant).

Does anyone else remember or did you also have a Strawberry Shortcake doll? This childhood toy/ memory in no way influenced my decision to make this cake!

Ingredients

Cake: 113 grams of softened butter,  1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons of sugar, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of sour cream, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cups of flour, 3 tablespoons of corn flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda.

Filling: 460 grams of British ( if in season) Strawberries, but to be honest I would use more next time to get a good thick layer in between cake layer, 3 tablespoons of sugar.

Frosting/icing: 226 grams of cream cheese, 226 grams of margarine or butter, 680 grams of icing/ powdered sugar, sifted, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon salt.

*** Please excuse my mixture of measurements and the fact I’m breaking one of the baking commandments. I use metal measuring cups and measuring spoons as I find these quick and easy, but for some things like butter, fruit, shortening I still prefer to use my old fashioned scales and use grams. ***

Preheat oven to 180° C and grease a 9 inch springform deep cake tin.

In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each egg.  Add the sour cream but don’t drop the actual metal cup measurement device into the batter like I did and doing it with a girly scream which brought hubby running through thinking I had had a horrific baking accident. So just add the sour cream and then add the vanilla and mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cornflour, salt and baking soda. Then add this dry mixture into the stand mixer bowl and mix until just combined. Pour the luscious batter into the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes or until knife or cocktail stick comes out clean. The recipe says 45- 5o, but mine was ready at 45 so the time will vary depending on your oven.

Remove the cake from the cake tin and leave to cool. However, given how hot it was I waited a little longer to remove the bottom of the cake tin.  Once cooled, cut the cake through the middle to give two layers. As you can see from the photo below, I didn’t get the knife all the way through with my first go around,so I had to go around again and it caused the funny ridge bit in the middle. However this was being covered anyway, so I wasn’t really that concerned!

Place the strawberries onto an tray and mash, then cover with the sugar, toss and leave for a  few minutes.

Then cover each cake layer with the strawberries and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

 

In the meantime make up the frosting………….

Sift the icing sugar in a large bowl and be prepared for a cloud of icing powder to cover you and your work surface. Add the icing sugar, margarine, cream cheese, vanilla and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Make sure to add your mixer guard/shield thing ( not sure its proper name ) so you avoid another icing cloud. Mix until light and fluffy. My frosting had a yellow tinge to it, I think because I used margarine, oh well it’s a pretty spring colour.

Remove the cake layers from the freezer and place one layer on a plate, then cover with the frosting, using about 1/3 of the mixture. Place the other layer on top and cover with the frosting. Then start to cover the sides of the cake with remaining frosting. I arranged a few strawberries on the top of the cake for decoration.

I must admit my cake did not look like Pioneer Woman’s cake. From the photos you can see that some of the cake and strawberries were still showing and my frosting didn’t really seem to meld well onto the side of the cake and it wasn’t very prettily done either! Oh and it was a light yellow instead of white colour. Then I decided it didn’t matter, the cake was individualistic and it tasted really good.

 As you can we made quite a dent in the cake!

 

 

 

Pretty little lemon and blueberry cake

I made this cake as I was supposed to be going into work today ( or my soon to be ex work) to say bye to my colleagues and pack up my locker and desk, however due to it being Easter Weekend tomorrow some of my colleagues took extra days off work to have an even longer holiday, so at the last minute it was decided that I would re-schedule my visit. My colleagues had demanded I bring cake  ( man, they looooovvvvveeeee cake) on my visit, so the cake was already baked and iced.   Oh well, what a pity there will be more cake for me and hubby! Score!!

I found this recipe for Lemon and blueberry drizzle cake on the Goodtoknow website and immediately decided I had to make it. Not just because lemon and blueberry is one of my favourite flavour ( try saying that 3 times fast) combos but because it looked so pretty with the pink icing and flowers scattered on top. I’m such a girl and this is definitely a girly cake, in fact it could be the ASOS of desserts.

Ingredients

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Oops forgot the butter, the lemon and the edible wafer daisies. Use your imagination and pretend they are in the photo!

 

Loaf: 125 grams butter, 125 grams caster sugar, 3 medium eggs ( I only had two large eggs left so only used two) , 175g self raising flour, an additional 1 tablespoon of flour, zest of 1 lemon, 100 grams blueberries.

Syrup: 50 grams caster sugar, 4 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Icing: 125 grams icing sugar ( powdered sugar), 1 teaspoon of blueberry converse, edible wafer daisies.

Preheat oven to 170° C. Grease and line a 2lb loaf pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and zest and mix until combined and light. Before folding in the blueberries, toss them in the additional 1 tablespoon of flour. This will help to prevent them moving to the bottom of the mixture whilst in the loaf pan ( or it should do however from the photo of a slice of the cake you can see some still sank !). Spoon the mix into the loaf pan ( and you will need to spoon as the mix isn’t that runny so you can’t pour it in). Smooth the top of the mix, make sure its evenly dispersed then cover with tinfoil. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Then uncover and cook for a further 20 minutes  or until a cocktail stick or cake tester comes out clean and the loaf is golden and springy. Please note I checked the cake after 10 minutes and it was still wet inside, so my cake did need the 20 minutes, however ovens will differ, so you may want to check after 10 minutes to be sure.

Whilst the cake is baking combine the ingredients for the syrup in a pan, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, then take off the heat. The sugar should be dissolved.

Once the cake is out the oven, spoon over the syrup and leave to cool for 30 minutes.  Then remove the cake from the tin and at this point I removed the sides of the baking paper or grease proof paper but did not remove the paper from the bottom as the cake was really quite soft. Leave to cool completely, then remove the remaining paper.

Placed the loaf on a cooling tray, but with a baking tray underneath to capture the icing.

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, then place a teaspoon of the blueberry conserve into a sieve and press/ rub the conserve through the sieve and scrape the underside of the sieve so that the conserve drops into the icing sugar. Add a few drops of water to the icing sugar and mix . You don’t want the icing sugar to be too runny but you want it to be able to flow off the sides of the loaf slightly. Spoon the mixture over the top of the loaf and then add the edible wafer daisies to decorate. Leave to set.

After the icing had set, I attempted to move the loaf from the rack onto a plate and the movement created some creases in the icing, as you can probably see from the photo at the top of the page in comparison with the photo above on the right.Oh well, I think it still looks pretty and I love that you can see the speckles of the blueberry converse in the icing too. Hubby told me I definitely had to make this cake again, so it must mean it was good!

This was such as easy recipe to make and a lovely variation on the classic lemon drizzle cake. It would definitely make a lovely addition to an Easter meal or just a cake to have on hand for visitors who will pop in for a cuppa over the weekend.  You could also vary the decoration on top, adding your own creative flare or even adding real edible flowers. The original recipe used violas brushed in egg whites and dipped with caster sugar or you could use any leftover blueberries or lemon zest sprinkled on top.

Enjoy and Happy Easter!

What will you be you be making over Easter weekend? Feel free to comment or email me your recipes or Easter cooking ideas or menus at weebluemixer@gmail.com

Currantly…….

It’s nearly Easter Weekend and this means the Easter Bunny is gonna leave me some eggs which I am allowed to gorge on until I am physically sick and no one will judge me, the clocks with go forward and I’ll lose an hour of valuable sleep, Family will come round for an Easter Sunday dinner, daffodils are in abundance and the shops are full of, not only chocolate eggs, but Hot Cross Buns in all their currant-ey, cinnamon-ey, sticky goodness.

Hot cross buns were usually eaten for breakfast on Good Friday, which sounds like an awesome breakfast to me and the only day you’d ever get away with this! The cross on them is supposed to ward off evil spirits who would make the bread go stale and if a hot cross bun is hung in the kitchen it will protect the home from evil spirits as well as ensuring all bread baked for the next year will turn out perfectly. If you’ve read my post about my Pizza dough escapades then you’ll know I need all the luck I can get!

These is also a legend of a widow in London who baked hot cross buns for her only son who was due to return from sea. However, he never returned and she hung a bun from her ceiling and every year she baked and continued to hang a new bun. A pub was then built on the site of the house and named ” The Widows Son” and every year on Good Friday a Royal Navy sailor hangs a bun ( that has the year on it) from the roof as well as singing a few songs and drinking to the lost sailor.

How sad is that?

Also giving hot cross buns to friends on Good Friday will cement your friendship for the rest of the year which I think is a lovely idea. I can see why giving hot cross buns would help with this because so if you have a friend who makes awesome baked goods and gives them to you, you’ll do anything to keep them as a friend to ensure a steady supply of goodies!

To make the Hot Cross Buns I used the Pioneer Woman Recipe, but I halved the recipe to give me 12 buns instead of 24. This is not a recipe to make if you need the buns quickly as it does take a few hours, but it’s well worth it! Also a lot of the ingredients I found were store cupboard staples, so no need to buy lots of new ingredients that you may never use again!

Ingredients

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Dough: 2 cups of Organic Scottish whole milk ( or whatever you prefer to use) , 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/2 cup of Sugar, 4 1/2 cups of strong bread flour ( or all purpose flour) , 1 1/8 teaspoons of fast action dried Yeast, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/2 tablespoon of salt.

Filling: 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, a pinch of ground nutmeg, a pinch of ground allspice, 1/4 cup of raisins. The recipe stated to use Cardamom, but I didn’t have any so I didn’t use any!

Glaze: 1 egg white, 1/8 cup of Organic Scottish Whole Milk

Icing: 1 egg white, 1/8 cup of Organic Scottish Whole Milk, 2 cups of sifted powdered sugar.

In a big pan and on low heat add the milk, olive oil and sugar and stir.  Then heat the mixture until almost to a boil. Take off the heat and leave to cool for a wee bit, but so that it’s luke warm.

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Add 3 1/2 cups of flour to the milk mixture and the yeast and stir to combine into a sticky icky mess. Cover with the pan lid and leave to rise for 1 hour. I warmed the lid in the oven for a wee bit before covering the pan and left the pan on top of the oven, but not on any hot rings.

Da da, it’s magic,  it rose.

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Risen, but still sticky mixture. Looks like rice pudding!

 

Add the remaining 1 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, stir together all the filling ingredients.

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Tiny tiny pinch spoon or maybe I have giant hands!

 

Roll out the dough into a kinda rectangle shape and then sprinkle on about tablespoon of the sugar/spice mix, then cover with some of the raisins. I just guessed the amount based on what looked right! Very scientific. Then fold the sides of the dough in on itself ( fold sides into the centre to enclose the sugar/ raisin goodness) and then roll the dough into another rectangle and sprinkle with remaining sugar/ spice mix and raisins. Fold the dough again.

Make sure you have your baking trays prepped before hand i.e covered with baking paper. Then pull off bits of dough and roll into a ball. Now I was unable to get the surface completely smooth using the method described by Pioneer woman but I found rolling the ball of dough on top of the work surface using my palm kinda helped. Place the balls of dough onto the baking tray, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place.

Given my previous dilemmas with finding a warm enough place and getting the dough to rise, I decided to turn on my bottom oven and as well as my top oven, but leaving the door of the top oven open ( so really it was the grill that came on) and I placed the baking trays on top of two stools placed into front of the oven. One tray went on top of the oven, but I rotated the trays round to ensure all got a blast of heat. I ended up leaving them for 1 hour and 30 minutes as this was how long I was on the phone to my parents!

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It was a kinda crude set up, but it actually worked and the dough rose really well!! Whoop Whoop victory dance!

Preheat oven to 200°C ( well mine was already on and preheated due to the above) then  mix the ingredients for the glaze together and brush the glaze on the tops of the buns before placing them in the oven for 20 minutes. They will be a really golden brown colour. Remove from oven and tray and place on a cooling rack placed over another baking tray. This tray is to capture the icing that drips off when you ice them.

Add the ingredients for the icing in a stand mixer and mix together until smooth. Watch that the icing is not too runny , it needs to be a bit thick so that it sticks to the buns and doesn’t run all over the place but not too thick that you are unable to pipe it. Place the icing in a piping bag, then ice a cross onto the top of each bun. Leave the icing to dry for a bit, then eat or give to friends or hang in your kitchen.

 

Enjoy and Happy Easter!!

Sunday Snacks

Sunday morning was busy busy busy. It was a gorgeous sunny morning, so hubby took the opportunity to clean the gutters and do the garden ……..all before 11am!

Since he had been so busy, for his mid morning snack I decided to make him some marmalade muffins. I think this is a Pioneer Woman recipe, I say think because the recipe was hastily scribbled on a used piece of scrap paper, lengthways, sideways, upside down and “filed” in my recipe book, but had no name for reference.

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I hope the original notes weren’t important. Whatever they are they don’t ring any bell to me!

 

I halved the recipe as, as much as we love muffins eating 24 by ourselves is a bit much. Actually we would probably have seen this as a challenge and scoffed the lot, which would make me sick. Not hubby though as he has a stomach of steel!

Half the mixture gives 12 muffins.

Ingredients

2 cups of plain flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon of Baking Powder, 1/4 stick of butter ( about 30 grams)  1/8 stick of Trex Shortening (15 grams),  1 cup of Marmalade. I used thick cut to get lovely big chunks in the muffins, but you can use any kind you prefer.  1/2 cup of Orange Juice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 beaten eggs ( I used 1 large and 1 medium cos I’m crazy like that!).

Topping- 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/8 cup of brown sugar ( I just measured half of my 1/4 cup as I don’t have an 1/8 of a cup measure handy, in fact I’m not sure you get them!?), 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 tablespoon melted butter and a pinch of salt.

Preheat oven to 190 °C.  Spray muffins tins with cooking spray.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the 1/4 cup of sugar and mix. Add the butter and Trex and use a pastry cutter to combine.

In a separate bowl, add the marmalade, orange juice and vanilla and whisk. Add these wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, barely combine. Drizzle in the beaten eggs. Fill the muffin tins with this mixture, fill them about 3/4 full. Before placing in the oven, make up the topping.

Mix the 1/4 cup sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and mix. Drizzle in the melted butter and again mix.. Add the topping to the top of the unbaked mixture in the tins. I covered most of the top surface of each muffin. Pop in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and a cocktail stick comes out clean.  Leave for a few minutes until they are cool enough to take out the  tins and place on cooling racks.

 

These are delicious warm with a cuppa tea. I spread mine with some Lemon Curd. Yummy. They certainly set us up for the next spring task of planting seeds and plants. We planted some corn, mint, rosemary, lavender, coriander and sunflowers.

 

St Patricks Day Shenanigans

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Mini Guinness Cake and Peppermint Shortbread slices

 

I’m not Irish myself, but hubbies family have vague Irish roots, with his great grandfather ( he thinks, he can’t remember how any Greats!)  migrating to Scotland back in the day. Although, not much is known about the family history in Ireland or even about possible existing family members on the old Emerald Isle. Doesn’t stop him being the brunt of my Irish jokes though!

Its always fun to celebrate this day, the Irish certainly know how to party and in my younger University days we would head to the nearest Irish pub for some drink, music, dancing and overall good craic. I would often come home with green glasses, leprechaun hats and Shamrock headpieces. Nowadays its more sedate, with baking or cooking an Irish dish or Irish inspired dish.

I made Guinness Cake not that long ago, however hubby wanted this again as he loves this cake, could have something to do with the alcohol!  Definitely Irish in his blood, well to be honest that could also be the Scottish part of him too!  Instead of making a 9 inch cake  I poured the batter into muffin cases to make wee Guinness cakes/ muffins. In a preheated oven (180 C ) bake for 18 minutes or until skewer came out clean. I also used fairy cake cases , which were smaller than the muffin cases and took 15 minutes to bake.  Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tins then remove and place on cooling rack. Once completely cool, use the same recipe for frosting a 9 inch Guinness cake.

Apparently 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed today, wonder how many Guinness cakes will be eaten?

 

I also decided to make some Peppermint Shortbread Slices, purely because of the gorgeous green colour, which I thought was very appropriate for St Patricks day.

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Gooey-ooey ness!

 

Ingredients

Base Layer– 125 grams softened butter, 175 grams self raising flour, 50 grams caster sugar- this is the base I use for millionaire shortbread.

Mint Layer-114 grams margarine or softened butter, 300 grams powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk or water or even cream, 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract and couple of drops of green food colouring ( will depend of what shade of green you are going for). I like a thick gooey mint layer, but if you don’t then you could reduce the recipe measurements.

Topping– 60 grams of butter and 100 grams of milk cooking chocolate ( more or less depending on your love of chocolate, as long as it covers the mix). Dark chocolate is also delicious with the mint.

For the base, preheat oven to 190° C. Mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sieve the flour and then mix into the butter/ sugar. Press this into a greased baking tray (I used a 10 x 7 tray) and place in oven for 12 minutes until golden. Leave to cool.

Please ignore my tiny yet scary hand!

Alternatively, you could use a digestive or graham cracker and butter base, like you would for cheese cake. Or crushed cornflakes with self raising flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar and melted butter mixed together and baked in the oven. This is apparently the traditional Scottish way of making peppermint slices, not really sure they is anything traditional about it! A brownie base would work well too.

For the Mint frosting layer, I use Margarine as I cannot get the butter soft enough so when mixed with icing sugar it actually becomes smooth. I always end up with butter lumps! #bakingproblems #Firstworldproblems #toooldtoohashtag

However,you can use butter if this is your preference, just make sure its softened. Mix the Margarine, powdered sugar, milk or water or cream ( what ever you are using), peppermint extract and food colouring together until smooth and consistent colour. Scrape down the edges of the bowl as you go to make sure all combined.

Pour the gloriously green mint mixture over the top of your base, smooth and then place in fridge to set. It is imperative to ” test” the green mint mixture, cos nothing that colour could taste good, so scrape the mixing bowl clean to satisfy yourself that is fit for human consumption! Nom, nom , nom, nom……….

Melt the butter and the chocolate over a bain-marie. Pour over the top of the mint mixture and leave to set. When pouring over, work quick to smooth the chocolate evenly as the mint layer is cold so the chocolate will start to harden quicker.  Once set, cut into squares. The base crumbled slightly when cut from the tin. In the future, I would line the tin with grease proof paper to see if this helped. The slices are best kept in the fridge, as you can probably see from the photos they are a bit gooey. It’s not the most perfect cake, it’s gooey, crumbly and you will require a plate, but it tastes delicious.

Happy St Patricks Day and may the luck of the Irish be with you!

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Simply Pear-fect!

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” O flower of Scotland…….”

 

This weekend was all about rugby rugby rugby in our household, well to be honest most weekends during rugger season our household is all about the rugby however this weekend was worse than usual as 1) Hubby attended rugby games on Friday 2) Hubby played rugger with his team on the Sat and won some shield or cup or something which means they are going into the semi final for something else [ whoop whoop, victory dance] 3) Six Nations matches watched on TV England vs Wales and Ireland Vs Italy and finally  (saving the best for last) 4) a trip to Murrayfield on Sunday to watch Scotland win against France [Whoop Whoop, victory dance] ……………………think I’m all whooped out!

As a result, there was little time to make meals this weekend so Saturday nights supper consisted of fresh pasta bought from the supermarket. The Shock, the Horror, I should be banned from all food blogs!!  Well, wait until you hear about what I made for dessert.

I always keep tinned cans of fruit in the cupboard as these can easily be turned into a yummy dessert, very quickly.  No, not just dumping them in a bowl and serving with ice cream cira 1970’s, think more Steel Magnolias and Cuppa Cuppa Cake.

Tin of Fruit cocktail with juice, a cup flour and a cup of sugar mixed together in a bowl, dumped into a greased oven proof dish and cooked until golden brown and bubbling! Aces!

Not the most sophisticated dessert, definitely not for those that don’t like super sweet desserts and I know many will wonder, why not just use fresh fruit. What’s the point of this dessert? Well, the point is that I can keep a couple of tins on hand to make a quick dessert, no need to go out to the shop to buy fresh fruit, and no need to then prepare fruit and I always have something on hand to be able to whip up a simple, hassle free dessert. This is a “not planned and I don’t have time” dessert.

Nigella even uses tinned pears and if it’s good enough for Nigella, then its good enough for me. Pioneer Woman also makes a Dump cake  using tinned fruit and again, good enough for Ree, good enough for me ( Wow poetry!) and of course, Dolly Parton’s character,Truvy in Steel Magnolias gives the original seal of approval. If you haven’t watched this movie, you gotta, go do it now!

Since I had tinned pears I made Nigella’s Chocolate Pear Pudding, which has slightly more ingredients than Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa cake, but still ones I keep on hand in the store cupboard and still a very easy recipe.  Although with this recipe you can use any tinned fruit you have, peaches, pineapple, rhubarb, apples, even black cherry fruit filling would work well with the chocolate.

Ingredients

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Butter is missing as its softening on top of the radiator.

 

2 x 415 gram tins of pears in juice, 125 grams of plain flour, 25 grams cocoa powder, 125 grams caster sugar, 150 grams soft butter, 1 teaspoon baking power, 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate soda., 2 large eggs and 2 tablespoons of vanilla.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Drain the tins of pears. You can keep the juice or syrup if you want to but it’s not necessary. My hubbie likes to pour the drained juice over the cooked pudding.

In an 8×8 inch greased oven proof dish, arrange the pears along the bottom in rows.

Then I dump all the other ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix. I just used my hand mixer and mixed until all ingredients were combined and the mix had a dropping consistency ( or until I wanted to eat the mix straight from the bowl!!)

Then spread the mix over the pears, sprinkle over some sugar and place in oven for 25-30 minutes.

Serve with cream or ice cream or chocolate sauce or the remaining pear syrup/ juice.

After an exciting game on the Sunday, singing the National Anthem, lots of shouting “SCOTLAND”, clapping, whistling , watching men in rugby shorts running around, dancing after each try and when Scotland won against France, then the tram queues, cramped trams and a car park blockage resulting in being thankful for having a SUV, I was very very very glad to go out to the Pub for supper and not have to cook.

However, dessert wasn’t on the menu at the pub as nothing took our fancy, thankfully we still had Chocolate Pear Pudding leftovers at home!! Pear-fect ending to a fab day!

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Wedding Brownies

 

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I looooovvvveeee brownies, not only because they are so yummy and contain chocolate (which makes everything taste better and life good)  but because they are so simple to make. Given that, I have about a hundred different recipes for making them (how can something so simple have so many ways to make it??) Anyway, I suppose it doesn’t matter which recipe you use as long as you enjoy them! However, I gotta say this is probably one of my very favourite brownie recipes.  This could be because of the story behind them as well as there yumminess!

You see, I got the recipe when I attended the wedding of some really good friends in the summer. The recipe, along with the dry ingredients was the wedding favour. The bride also loves these brownies, hence them being a favour. This was such a different idea for a favour and being a lover of baking and anything baking related I really loved this.

At the end of the night, we took home two packets of the ingredients to the encouragement ( although hubbie doesn’t really need much encouragement when it comes to food to tell you the truth) of the bride, groom and grooms parents. Both packets were quickly made up and devoured, however I obviously wasn’t quite in a brownie induced comma as I had the sense to keep the ingredient list that was stickered to the packaging. The recipe has now been hoarded in my recipe book and named after the couple.

Ingredients are so simple and a staple of most baking cupboards….

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250 grams of granulated sugar or Caster sugar ( whichever you have to hand)

65 grams Cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon of Salt

70 grams plain flour ( I use locally milled flour, Mungoswells)

145 grams butter ( Scottish butter, Grahams)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Eggs ( local organic eggs, Phantassie Organic produce)

Optional: Add pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts really any nuts or anything you have to hand. In fact I’ve added marshmallows to these before! You could double the recipe and put peanut butter in between the mixture in the tin. Brownies are so versatile.

Use whatever brands of butter, flour etc you prefer I have just highlighted what I normally use.

Preheat oven to about 160°c. Grease a baking pan about 8×8 inch.

Basically just mix all the ingredients together. I just dump everything into the bowl of my stand mixer then mix until all combined! No specific order or anything, easy peasy! Could be renamed ” dump brownies” or maybe not as ” dump” has a few negative connotations in Scotland!! Lets not go there…….anyway back to the recipe…..

Press into a baking tin and place into the Oven for 20 -25 minutes. Take out and leave to cool for a bit in the tray, then cut into evenly sized pieces and leave to cool further on a wire rack. I got about 12 brownies from this recipe.

This is also such as simple and quick recipe to make if you need a quick dessert item or cake to go with a cuppa tea as the preparation takes only a few minutes. I’ve never timed it, but maybe I will to see how quickly I can do this in! I made these the other day after realising we had no cakes in the house and hubby was due in for his lunch. He comes in for his lunch when he’s working close to the house ( which is most days really unless he is stuck in a tractor in a field far away!) and he has a bit, well a lot of a sweet tooth, and enjoys cake with his cuppa tea. These were just out the oven by the time he and his colleague came in, so a few got pinched straight from the tray to eat whilst still warm and gooey.

These could be served with whipped or double cream, ice cream, strawberries, raspberries or just by themselves.

Enjoy!

P.s. I would love to hear about other peoples favourite brownie recipes. Feel free to leave a comment or email me at weebluemixer@gmail.com

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