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

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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Ticky Toffee Time

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I love getting invited to dinner. I love meeting up with my friends. I love gossiping over lovely meals. I love getting new meal ideas and recipes. I love drinking ( well in my case now drinking non-alcoholic beers and wines).I also love making food for friends, so whenever my hubbie and I get invited for dinner I always offer to make something to bring along, whether its a starter, side or dessert.

We were invited to our friends house for dinner the other night I immediately offered my dessert making services, which was quickly, and I think gratefully accepted.  I then realised that this dessert was not going to be as straight forward as it usually is. This was because as one of our party of friends has a lot of food intolerances, one of them being ….. ……………now you will have to prepare for the shock and then once you are over the shock get ready to give him lots of sympathy as I can’t imagine not having this food in my life…………………………………………………………..he is unable to eat……. the nectar of the gods…. unable to eat…. heaven in a wrapper…… unable to enjoy Easter to its full potential….. he is unable to eat Chocolate. Yup chocolate!

He is unable to eat the component of a lot or definitely most of the desserts I can make. So, I discounted my chocolate meringue, my chocolate mouse, my Guinness cake, my chocolate orange cheesecake.

Given that I’m still new to cooking, I’m not quite an incompetent cook, but I wouldn’t say I was competent, I’d probably describe myself as more ridiculously enthusiastic but lacking in some skills, so this dessert was going to be a challenge………Challenge accepted.

I immediately thought of Pies. He should be able to have pies…. right? However, he is also unable to eat  orange, pears, plums, nectarines, apricots so that discounted using any of these fruits in a pie.

Strawberry Pretzel pie alla Pioneer woman! He can have strawberries so he should be able to have this… yeah … no he is also unable to have potato, corn, maize, soya and flours derived from this so no corn starch or corn syrup. Bye Bye Strawberry Pretzel Pie and Pecan Pie.

Apple pie!! He can have Apple Pie!Sorry, whilst I love apple pie and apple crumble I thought these were too boring for a dinner party. (However I will admit this was the backup plan).

I was at the point where I had all my recipe books out and was frantically flicking through them trying to find a recipe without any of the “no go” ingredients, when my hubby randomly mutters that he thinks he has seen our friend eat Sticky Toffee Pudding (well he actually said Ticky Toffee Pudding as this is what its know as in our house).

Now, I have made Ticky Toffee Pudding before using a Nigella recipe, and whilst hubby gave it the thumbs up, it wasn’t what we would call Ticky Toffee Pudding. The recipe used dark muscovado sugar making it taste like treacle however the pudding we think of should taste of toffee. This made me think that there may be differences between how the English make Ticky Toffee Pudding and how the Scottish make it. I would love to hear from someone if they know more about this. The bonus of the recipe was that it contained no ingredients that our friend was unable to eat.

So Ticky Toffee Pudding it was, however I now needed to either use the Nigella recipe and substitute Brown sugar instead of dark muscovado or find another recipe. Well, I then discovered a recipe that was apparently the original recipe written by the Chef who made Ticky Toffee Pudding first. Given that this recipe was supposed to have originated from a hotel called the Udny Arms in Aberdeenshire, and given that I am too originally from Aberdeenshire, I decided I needed to give it a go.

So I needed…………..    1/4 lb butter, 3/4lb caster sugar, 2 eggs, 1 lb Self Raising Flour, 8 oz dates, 1tsp bicarbonate soda, 1 tsp vanilla essence, 1 pint boiling water and also 1/2lb butter, 1lb brown sugar, 1 pint double cream for the sauce.

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Oops no butter as again its sitting softening on the window sill

 

First, cream the 1/4 lb butter and 3/4lb caster sugar together until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla. Fold in all the flour. Now I attempted to fold the flour in by hand, but it was taking ages so I placed it back onto the mixer stand. It was at this point I got worried as the mixture was dry and lumpy. Anyway I went on……..

I placed the dates and bicarbonate soda in a bowl and covered with the boiling water. The recipe stated that when the water had been absorbed to then add the dates to the butter/ sugar mixture. However, the dates didn’t really absorb the water. Did the water have to be completely absorbed? I wasn’t sure, but no more water was going to be absorbed so again with trepidation I forged ahead and dumped the dates and water into the mixture and mixed until combined.

Ahhhh haaaaa ( Alan Partridge Style), the mixture obviously needed the water/ date mixture to come together. I then added this heavenly mixture to a buttered  casserole dish, I had excess mixture as my dish only measured 10×7 so I added the remaining to two ramekins. I then placed the casserole dish into an oven at 180°C for 35 minutes. However I ended up cooking this for a further 15 minutes covered in tinfoil for the last 10 minutes to prevent it getting burnt. The ramekens took less time, about 25 minutes.

Then the remaining ingredients, the 1/2lb butter, 1lb butter and 1 pint of double cream are placed in a saucepan over a medium heat and brought to a boil. Yummy Yummy Yummy, do not eat straight from pan as its really really hot, so allow to cool a little. SAM_5703

This was all loaded up in the car  ( wedged behind my seat) for the journey to our friends house, about 1 hours and 30 mins. It was really easy to forget that I had precious cargo and often drove slightly faster until hubby prompted me to slow down. I did not want caramel sauce all over my car.

I didn’t get pics of the Ticky Toffee whilst at my friends house, but we kept the Ramekins for ourselves ( cooks perks) and devoured them the next night. Delish! If you like toffee and incredibly sweet desserts this is the one for you.

Valentines Day, DONE.

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Guinness Cake with Strawberries and a little bit of cream ( I don’t like too much)

My hubbie and I don’t tend to celebrate Valentines day, and we rarely get each other cards and prezzies or go out for a romantic meal. We figure we can go out any other time of the year, and we don’t need a specific day to tell each other , ” I love you”.

However, this year I did ask what my hubbie wanted for supper and said I would do all the cooking.  So he decided on Pulled Pork, Crash Potatoes, Broccoli and Cauliflower bake followed by Guinness Cake. I had never made Pulled Pork or Guiness cake before so this was going to be interesting. I’m not that confident in cooking large cuts of meat, but here we go….

I used a recipe by Pioneer Woman for Spicy Dr Pepper Pulled Pork. However, I could not get a hold of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce at short notice ( I noted that you can buy this on Amazon however it would not have been delivered on time) and I trawled the internet looking for substitutes and was not really happy with substitute suggestions I found. So I decided to see what my local supermarket had to offer, but wasn’t really holding my breath as my local Tesco is pretty poor for choices. However,  I spotted a Spicy Chipotle chilli sauce by Wahaca Mexican Street food ( 150ml bottle) and decided to use this instead.

Preheat Oven to 150°C. I cut half an onion into quarters and placed it in the bottom of a dutch oven/ casserole dish, then placed a small pork loan joint on top (There was only the two of us, so this will do for 2 nights of meals for us).

Sorry, there isn’t a lot of photos taken during the cooking stage as 1) my camera was covered with chocolate from the Guinness Cake 2) the cooking of the pulled pork was pretty simple ( even for me).

I then covered the joint with some salt and black pepper then poured the chipotle chilli sauce all over the joint. I followed this with a 500ml bottle of Dr Pepper, then covered with the lid and placed in the oven.

I checked it every hour and turned every hour for about 4 hours. Half way through I added more Dr Pepper, about 250mls as the sauce was drying up a little.

After it came out of the oven I used two forks and pulled it apart ( oh and cut off the string that was holding it together you don’t want to eat that!).

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Oh my goodness how yummy is this?
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This was my husbands portion that he served himself ( I was on the phone and he couldn’t wait for me to come off the phone and serve it and make it look pretty). He is a farmer and rugby player so he does need the calories!

The Guinness Cake

I made this the night before, using a Nigella Recipe.

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Melted chocolate and butter

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Then add 250ml of Guinness  (you could probably use any stout or Ale ) to a pan along with 250 grams of butter and heat on low until butter melted.

Whisk in 75 grams of cocoa powder and 400 grams of caster sugar.

In a separate jug I mixed the 142ml sour cream, 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon of vanilla and then added to the Guinness/butter mixture.

Finally I whisked in the 275 grams flour and 2 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate soda.

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Sour cream/egg/vanilla mixture combined with chocolate/butter

I poured the mixture into a 9 inch springform pan that was greased and lined. However I did not have enough baking paper, so instead of cutting a circle piece and a separate piece for the sides I had to use one square and crunch it into the tin covering the bottom and sides. Hence the not so smooth sides of the cake that you can see!

My husband then “cleaned “the pan for me and by that I mean he sat on the sofa watching the Six Nations while scraping/ eating the chocolate/Guinness Mixture from the pan!

This was placed in the oven for 45 minutes, however after this time it wasn’t ready so I placed back in for another 7 minutes until the cake tester ( or knife) came out clean. Although when I took mine out it sagged in the middle, not sure why it does th?? Oh well, I was covering it in icing anyway so it doesn’t really matter.

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Ready for the Oven

I then left the cake to cool and started on the icing for the top.

ICING

300 grams of cream cheese, whipped in a mixing bowl, then 150 grams of icing sugar was sifted over the top of the mixture and then beaten together. 125 ml double cream was added and the mixture was again beaten together until mixture was of a consistency that I would spread on top of the cake.

This was a really simple recipe to make, even for an incompetent cook like myself and it tasted lovely and looked fairly impressive ( if I do say so myself). I would recommend this if you want an easy simple quick cake that still has a bit of wow about it

I served this cake with strawberries and cream in front of a roaring fire. Very romantic!