Wednesday, December 13, 2017

SMALL VEGAN CHRISTMAS CAKE

Small vegan Xmas cake

Fruit and sugar soaking in rum
Only himself and myself eat Christmas Cake, so I no longer make the lovely large one I used to make. This one does instead; it's a souped-up version of my Rum Brack. A non-vegan version can be made of course - substitutes in receipe.

Oven-ready


RECIPE

150ml tea
50ml dark rum or brandy
225g mixed luxury dried fruit
75g glacé cherries, halved
75g pitted dates, halved
75g brown sugar
1 tsp of NoEgg made up as per pack OR 1 beaten egg
60g melted vegan marg
125g wholegrain spelt flour
125g self raising rice flour
1tsp bread soda
1 tsp mixed spice

METHOD

- Soak the fruit, sugar, rum/whiskey and tea in a bowl - leave until cold
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Grease and line the bottom of an 8" round tin (I used a 2lb loaf tin, this time)
- Add the melted marg to the fruit mix. Stir through.
- Add the beaten egg. Stir through.
- Sieve flour, then fold in the flour, bread soda and spice
- Scrape/pour mixture into the lined tin
- Bake for 55 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean
- Cool in the tin for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack.
- Peel off paper when cool
- Wrap cake in greaseproof and store in a tin
- Prick cake with a cocktail stick and feed with a more rum/brandy once a week (if the cake lasts that long!)
- We're not marzipan or icing fans but vegan versions of both are available :)

Nollaig shona! Hapy Christmas!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

RUM HALLOWE'EN BRACK


High days and holy days, it seems, are the only times I drop by here. Despite the fact I bake EVERY Tuesday for The Great British Bake Off. Too much to do, too little time, my friends. Anyway, the new twist on my brack is rum. And it's yum! It came about because the heroine of my next novel, Becoming Belle (out Aug. 2018) eats rum cake with her father and I wanted to make it for Christmas. Hallowe'en seemed as good a time as any to try it.



I'm reducing wheat at the mo due to that stomach thing I picked up in China last year, so I've used a mixture of rice and spelt flour, but you can use any flour.



A bench, by night, on the grounds of Belle's Galway home,
Garbally Park, Ballinasloe

IRISH HALLOWE'EN BARMBRACK

RECIPE

150ml tea
50ml dark rum
225g mixed dried fruit
75g brown sugar
1 beaten egg
60g melted marg
125g wholegrain spelt flour
125g self raising rice flour
1tsp bread soda
1 tsp mixed spice

METHOD

- Soak the fruit, sugar, rum and tea in a bowl - leave until cold
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Grease and line the bottom of an 8" round tin (I used a 2lb loaf tin, this time)
- Add the melted marg to the fruit mix. Stir through.
- Add the beaten egg. Stir through.
- Sieve then fold in the flour, bread soda and spice
- Pour into the lined tin (insert wrapped coin or ring at this point, if using)
- Bake for 55 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean
- Cool in the tin for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack.

Eat plain or buttered with a cup of tea. Delish!

Friday, March 17, 2017

PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOC CHIP BUNS



Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!



I only had one egg left when I went to make buns today, so I had to find a recipe that needed just one egg. I flicked through my books and found a Snickers and Peanut Butter Mufffins recipe in Nigella's Domestic Goddess. I don't keep Snickers bars about my person, but I always have dark choc chips to hand for baking, hence the change. I also halved Nigella's recipe, to make buns rather than muffins, but it only yielded nine buns. Anyway! Here we go:

I used my Orla Kiely bowl for the day that's in it

Peanut butter & choc chip buns

INGREDIENTS

125g plain flour
3 tablespoons caster sugar
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons peanut butter
30g butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
90ml milk
50g dark choc chips

METHOD

·         Preheat oven to 200˚C
·         Line a 12-space bun tin (my mix made 9 buns)
·         Throw all the dry ingredients into a bowl, mix
·         Add the peanut butter and mix until you have a breadcrumby texture
·         Add the melted butter and egg to the milk and stir gently into the bowl
·         Mix in the chocolate chips
·         Plop the mixture into the bun cases using two spoons
·         Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until golden on top and firm to the (light) touch
·         Cool on a wire rack



Thursday, December 1, 2016

CHRISTMAS CAKE 2016


Well, last year I didn't even bother making a cake which felt wrong. The problem is the three kids don't eat Xmas cake so it's only me and himself. Anyway, I decided to make a small cake this year, so here it is. (It's my teabrack with a bit of zhuzsh.) I should mention we are not icing and/or marzipan fans here but both are easily procured or made. We cut the cake today and it's boozy and yum. Happy Advent!
Soaked fruit

With the egg and marg mixed through




Teeny brandy :)




INGREDIENTS

150ml tea
50ml brandy (plus more for dousing later)
grated rind of one orange
200g dried fruit (candied fruit, glace cherries, sultanas, raisins)
100g stoned dates, sliced in half
100g brown sugar
1 beaten egg
50g melted marg
255g wholegrain spelt flour
1 tsp bread soda
1 tsp mixed spice
flaked almonds to top (optional)

METHOD

- Soak the fruit, rind, sugar, brandy and tea in a bowl - leave overnight or for at least 4 hours
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin (ready-made liners are great and very little greasing needed!)
- Add melted marg to the fruit mix. Stir through.
- Add beaten egg. Stir through.
- Sieve in the flour, bread soda and spice
- Place mixture into the lined tin and flatten out the top
- Sprinkle with a handful of flaked almonds (if using)
- Bake for one hour, until a skewer comes out clean
- Cool in the tin for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack.
- Once cool, make holes with a skewer and pour on a few tsps of brandy
- Wrap in greaseproof paper, then tinfoil and store in an airtight tin.
- Douse with a few tsps of brandy, bottom and top of cake alternately, at one week intervals, until you want to eat it.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

EVE’S PUDDING

Eve's Pudding with Alpro Soya Custard
The finished Eve's Pudding
I am at the end of a rewrite of novel #4, Becoming Belle, and I have, as usual, got my heroine eating her way through the plot. Early in the novel, Belle's domineering mother (in an off-page moment of sweetness) makes an Eve's Pudding for Belle and her two sisters to enjoy while their parents are dining with the regiment. So, naturally, I had to make one and try it for myself :) It's research.

The cooking apples with lemon juice and sugar mixed in
I used Bramley apples because they're the best ones for this recipe. But, also, because when I was in England in August, doing final on-the-ground research for the book, we drove through the pretty village of Bramley in Surrey.


A fine Bramley (or 'Brailsford' ;))
However, it turns out Bramley apples actually originated in Nottinghamshire and were named after a butcher called Matthew Bramley. But! The apple tree was planted by a girl called Mary Ann Brailsford - Mr Bramley bought the cottage and garden where she planted her tree. So, we should be making our Eve's Pud with Brailsfords, really :)

The apples with the batter poured on
After all that, I made the pudding today for my husband's birthday, we had it with custard, and it was delicious. The apples stew together and are nicely tart-sweet, and the flaked almonds give bite.



INGREDIENTS

Filling:
3 Bramley cooking apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)
75g brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Sponge topping:
150g self-raising flour
75g butter or marg (room temp)
75g caster sugar
1 egg (beaten)
100ml milk
A handful of flaked almonds (optional)

METHOD:
  • Pre-heat oven to 180˚C
  • Grease an ovenproof dish.
  • Mix the Bramleys with the granulated sugar and lemon juice.
  • Spoon the apple mixture into the prepared dish.
  • In a bowl, beat together the flour, butter, caster sugar, egg and milk to a batter with a soft dropping consistency.
  • Spread this over the apples and sprinkle with the flaked almonds, if used.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C, bottom shelf, for 45 minutes or until sponge is golden brown.
(Cross-posted with The Hungry Veggie)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

HALLOUMI PASTA SALAD

Halloumi salad
We have been having fab weather in Ireland which means several things: holiday atmosphere prevails and eating salad is less of a chore. We're going on a picnic today with our County Offaly friends so I made a halloumi pasta salad to bring. I sampled it (natch) and it's delicious. And a really fast and simple make. I love the chargrilled halloumi in The Cedar Tree in Dublin (I dream about it) but I had a salad like this at a friend's house a couple of years ago and have been planning to make it since. At last I get around to it.

Salad ready to go to the picnic :)
If you haven't yet tried Aldi's Margaret's Loaf, please do
- award-winning, seeded, real brown bread

INGREDIENTS

300g fusilli (or whatever pasta you like)
120g halloumi
10 basil leaves, chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 garlic clove, chopped very small
olive oil (a glug for the pasta)
salt (to season pasta & finished salad)
pepper
veg oil (for frying the halloumi)

METHOD

- Cook the pasta for about 10 minutes (until it's al dente), adding the glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt at the start
- While the pasta is on, cut the halloumi into 1cm thick slices and fry on a medium heat for about 2 mins each side (it may go golden)
- Let the halloumi cool on two sheets of of kitchen roll, pat excess oil off
- Drain the pasta and leave to cool
- When the pasta is cold, mix through the quartered tomatoes, chopped basil and garlic
- Cut the halloumi pieces into quarters and mix though the pasta
- Season with salt and pepper and mix through
- Serve with green leaves, bean salad, buttered Margaret's Loaf, red wine or anything you fancy.

Summer on a plate :)


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

BALLINAHOWN TEA ROOMS

We were going to the Alice film on Saturday but first we decided to drop into the craft village at Ballinahown in Co. Offaly. The crafts area wasn't open but the tearoom was so, naturally, we had to sample their fare. I had a gorgeous berry scone, the husband had carrot cake and Junior enjoyed a blueberry muffin with ice cream. Everything very fresh and nicely presented on vintage-ish china. There's also a lovely woodland playground in the village, perfect for reading the morning papers.

Juno as Alice


Juno and Patch in the tea room

Berry scone
One of the Ballinahown craft shops