Tag Archives: easy

Chocolate Popcorn Cake

While cakes with lots of sponge and buttercream layers may be amazing to look at, the simplest of cakes consisting of just 1 sponge layer with a glaze or topping are the ones I seem to make the most and this Chocolate Popcorn Cake is no exception!

The single chocolate cake layer gets a thin topping of my favourite chocolate glaze which sets hard – it’s the same glaze I used on my Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Mini Rolls. This adds a strong hit of chocolate flavour as well as giving the cake a wonderful crack when you slice through it! You could alternatively make a chocolate ganache and spread this on top too!

Topping the cake with a layer of my White Chocolate Confetti Popcorn is something a bit different but adds a huge amount of interest with a bright pop of colour. To stick the popcorn on, you have to work quickly as the chocolate glaze sets quickly and hard so make sure that the popcorn is broken into chunks already and on hand.

You can find the full recipe and method for making the White Chocolate Confetti Popcorn by clicking on the name.


For the sponge:

125g margarine

125g granulated sugar

2 eggs

½ tsp vanilla extract

115g self raising flour

30g cocoa powder

1 tsp instant coffee granules mixed with 3 tbsp milk

For the decoration

50g dark chocolate

15g margarine

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 batch of White Chocolate Confetti Popcorn


Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line the base and sides of a deep 20cm loose-bottomed tin with baking parchment.

In a bowl, cream together the margarine with the granulated sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and the eggs one by one, scraping down the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Sift in the self raising flour and cocoa powder and fold through until incorporated. Then beat in the coffee milk mixture until it is even and smooth.

Pour the mixture into the tin and level out the surface before baking for about 20 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean and the surface springs back when touched. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing the tin and parchment from the cake and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Prepare the White Chocolate Confetti Popcorn. Once the popcorn has set, prepare the chocolate glaze. In a microwaveable bowl, break the dark chocolate and add the margarine and golden syrup. Microwave for 30 seconds; the heat from the melted margarine and syrup should be enough to melt the chocolate too but if not, microwave for another 15 seconds. The glaze should be smooth, thick and shiny.

Working quickly, spread over most of the chocolate glaze on top of the cake and before it sets, arrange the Confetti Popcorn over the top of the cake. Leave the chocolate glaze to set at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving the cake.

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Quick Apple Lattice Pie

With the clocks going back last week, the winter nights are coming and nothing sounds more ideal than a slice of pie warm from the oven with cream or custard. I think that my Quick Apple Lattice Pie would make everyone happy!!

I’m rapidly finding that this first term of my 2nd year of uni is so demanding; I have so many classes, tutorials and lectures and I am missing way too many. My nights seem to be taken up with making notes every night so I am always trying to find ways to make quicker versions of food I want and it was apple pie this time!

Instead of stewing apples, leaving the mixture to cool and baking a large pie for an hour or so, I decided to thinly slice apples, mix them with sugar so they cook and caramelise in the oven while the pastry bakes. I find stewed apples tends to be a bit of a nonentity texture wise so thinly slicing and leaving some of the surface exposed through the lattice creates texture and bite. I add flour and line the pastry with oats to absorb liquid and prevent a raw soggy bottom.

You can use shopbought shortcrust pastry if you don’t want to make your own however there’s nothing tricky about making this pastry at all! The food processor is an essential piece of kit for making pastry in my opinion as it is so fuss free and so quick! There’s also less risk of overworking since you only need to bring it together into a ball and then it rests in the fridge before rolling out.

This lattice is very basic and by no means perfect either. I see on Bake Off that the bakers make the perfect lattice on parchment and then flip it onto the top of the pie/tart and I know that I could never do that because it wouldn’t make it in one piece so I do this lattice on top of the filling, alternating over and under the strips of pastry – the filling isn’t sticky so this shouldn’t be difficult.


For the shortcrust pastry:

250g plain flour

2 tbsp granulated sugar

125g margarine or unsalted butter, cubed

Around 40ml cold water

For the filling:

4 Pink Lady apples, cored and peeled

Juice of a lemon

50g soft light brown sugar

25g sultanas (optional)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground ginger

Pinch of ground nutmeg

¼ tsp mixed spice

1 tbsp flour

2 tbsp porridge oats (not instant)

15g margarine

Milk, for glazing

Apricot jam, for decoration

Double cream, to serve


For the pastry, combine the flour, sugar and margarine in the bowl of a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. While the food processor is running, add the cold water through the feed tube gradually until the mixture just comes together.

Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together with your hands to form a ball which is even and not sticky. Flatten into a disc and wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

For the filling, thinly slice the cored and peeled apples. Place into a bowl and squeeze over some lemon juice to stop browning. Add the sugar, dried fruit (if using), the spices and the flour and toss together with a spoon until even. Leave to sit for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Set aside a quarter of the pastry. On a lightly floured surface, roll the remaining three-quarters of pastry out to the thickness of a pound coin and line a 18cm fluted tart tin with the pastry, ensuring the pastry is tucked into the corners well. Cover the base with the porridge oats and then top with the sliced apple mixture, avoiding pouring in too much of the liquid in the bowl.

For the lattice, roll out the remaining quarter of the pastry into a rectangle which is at least as long as the tin to the same thickness. Use a knife to cut out strips of the pastry and create a lattice on top of the pie by alternating the pastry strips over and under. Use the fluted edges of the tin to trim the excess pastry.

Divide the 15g margarine between the exposed holes of the pie and then brush the pastry with milk before baking the pie for around 25 – 30 minutes until the lattice is golden brown and the apples are soft.

Brush the top of the pie with some apricot jam mixed with some boiling water. Then serve the pie warm straight from the tin with double cream or custard!

Follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and make sure to check out my most recent recipe post for Cinnamon Rolls made without measuring any ingredients!

Making Cinnamon Rolls (without measuring any ingredients!!)

Cinnamon rolls are utterly out of this world. There’s something about that slightly sweetened enriched bread dough swirled around that sweet buttery cinnamon sugar that cannot be beaten. Cinnamon rolls are a classic staple bake that everyone should make at least once but can I make them without measuring a single ingredient?

There is only one way to eat a cinnamon roll and that is peeling open the cinnamon roll starting from the outside. Inside you are left with that soft chewy bit in the very centre which is the ultimate sign of a good cinnamon roll. Usually cinnamon rolls are soft because they are baked in one tray which you then slice up; this recipe uses a 12 hole muffin tin to bake them individually, reducing the baking time but also allowing each cinnamon roll to have a fantastically sticky crust as the butter and sugar melt and ooze during baking. I finish the cinnamon rolls with a drizzle of icing.

The recipe I have chosen is much faster than your standard cinnamon roll recipe with only 45 minutes proving in total. Despite this, the finished product is soft, light and has a great texture.

I made a video showing the full stages of the recipe; check it out below! Continue reading to see the full recipe and method:

I was also told by my friends not to put raisins in my cinnamon roll and I was taken aback slightly because I had never heard of raisins being in cinnamon rolls… I genuinely didn’t know this was a thing until doing some more research and so many recipes had raisins as an optional extra at the end of the ingredient list; raisins are an unnecessary addition in my view.


400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

75g granulated sugar

½ tsp salt

1 x 7g sachet of fast action dried yeast

1 egg

55g margarine, melted

About 240ml warm water

100g margarine, plus extra for greasing

200g soft light brown sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

40g icing sugar

2-3 tsp water or milk


Add the flour to a large bowl. Place the sugar and salt on one of the bowl and add the yeast to the other side of the bowl to avoid retarding the yeast and then mix well to combine. Make a well in the centre and add the egg, melted margarine and about three-quarters of the water and use a wooden spoon to beat well until it comes together into a soft, pliable but not sticky dough, adding more liquid if necessary.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes until it is smooth. Place back into the bowl and cover with clingfilm and allow to prove for 15 – 20 minutes.

Meanwhile in a separate bowl, beat together the margarine with the light brown sugar and ground cinnamon until evenly combined and soft enough to spread.

Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin.

Knock back the dough and roll out the dough to a rectangle measuring 30cm by 23cm. Spread the cinnamon sugar margarine mixture over the dough evenly. Tightly roll up the dough starting from the longer side and then pinch together the seam to seal.

Trim the ends and then slice the dough into 12 even pieces. Place one into each hole of the muffin tin, cover with clingfilm and allow to prove for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Bake the cinnamon rolls for around 15 minutes until they are risen, golden brown and a thermometer registers 100°C when inserted to the thickest part of the roll. Remove from the tin immediately and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Meanwhile prepare the icing by mixing together the icing sugar with enough water to form a thick but runny icing (watch the video to see the consistency it should have!). Pour into a piping bag and cut off a small hole from the end. Drizzle the icing over the cinnamon rolls and leave the icing to set at room temperature.

Serve the buns warm (reheat in the microwave for 15-20 seconds) with a cup of tea or coffee.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and make sure to check out my most recent recipe post for a Semi-Naked Cake which was also made without measuring any ingredients!

Giant Linzer Cookie and Linzer Sandwich Cookies

Named after the city of Linz in Austria, Linzertorte is said to be the oldest cake in the world dating back to a Veronese recipe from 1653. Its popularity rose after being taken over to Milwaukee by an Austrian traveller. The linzer cookie is a derivative of the linzertorte made by cutting out shapes of a cookie dough similar to the pastry of the linzertorte, topping with jam and placing another cookie on top with a hole missing to expose the filling like the lattice design on a traditional linzertorte. I love the German translation of the linzer cookie, they are Linzer Augen, literally Linzer Eyes!

Linzertorte pastry is flavoured with lemon zest, cinnamon and ground hazelnuts but this recipe uses ground almonds which are much easier to find and compliment the lemon well. The important step in this recipe is to chill the biscuit dough before rolling out and after cutting out – chilling is required for the dough before rolling as it is impossible to roll this dough out without chilling so this dough can be made in advance; chilling is required after cutting out to help maintain the shape of the linzer cookies so they don’t spread much which could ruin the appearance since the 2 cookie halves must be identical in shape!

One little trick I like to do is add the lemon zest in the creaming process. The friction from the granulated sugar releases the oils in the lemon zest adding much more flavour to the dough and it distributes it much more evenly too!

The filling I use is a good quality strawberry conserve. Of course you can use any other flavour beside strawberry however I like the strong contrast of the jam from the dusted icing sugar on top which is so visually pleasing! Blueberry jam would work fantastically with the lemon and almond flavour in the biscuits and would be a great colour.

So you might see these and think they are very similar to jammy dodgers – they are essentially the same thing! The great thing about the linzer cookies is that you don’t have to stick to the traditional round shape, you can make them into whatever shape you want to suit any occasion – I chose to go for the cupcake shape to keep the baking theme going! Just make sure that you have a smaller cutter to cut out the hole for the top linzer cookie to expose the filling. I think it looks more attractive if the hole is the same shape as the cookie itself but it doesn’t have to be!

I made a Giant Linzer Cookie as well as Linzer Sandwich Cookies and the quantity of dough stated below is enough to make a 10in giant cookie and 7 sandwich cookies and plenty of leftover too. I would make a large batch of this dough and freeze what you don’t use so that it is on hand whenever you need cookie dough however you can just halve the dough if you want.

Make sure to also check out my other biscuit recipes like my Dark Chocolate and Black Sesame Biscuits, my Homemade Custard Creams and my Gingerbread Oven Showstopper!


250g margarine

250g granulated sugar

Zest of 1 large lemon

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

500g plain flour

300g ground almonds

2 tsp baking powder

200g good quality strawberry conserve

Icing sugar, to dust


For the cookie dough, cream together the margarine with the sugar and lemon zest until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg until combined. Sift in the flour and baking powder and add in the ground almonds and use a spatula to fold in the dry ingredients until a soft but not sticky dough forms. Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a disc and wrap in clingfilm and chill for 90 minutes or even overnight.

Preheat the oven to 160˚C. Line some baking trays with baking parchment.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the cookie dough to 5mm thickness, rotating the dough every so often so it doesn’t stick to the surface.

For the Giant Linzer Cookie:

Remove the base from a 10in loose bottomed fluted tart tin. Use the tart tin to cut out a disc of the linzer cookie dough. Slide the base of the tin under the cookie and move to the lined baking tray. Refrigerate for 15 minutes meanwhile repeat the same process to cut out a second disc. On one disc, use a large shaped cutter to remove some dough for the hole in the centre of the top cookie – this cookie can act as the base for one sandwich cookie! I like to take the centres from the Linzer Sandwich Cookies and place them on top to continue the theme.

Bake the base linzer cookie for around 14 – 16 minutes until the cookie is golden brown on the surface and around the edges and feels set. Leave the cookie to cool on the tray for 10 minutes before carefully transporting to a cooling rack.

Bake the top linzer cookie for around 12 minutes until it is golden brown and set. While the cookie is still warm, take the same cutter you used for the hole and press again to remove any excess dough from where the cookie spread in the oven. Leave the cookie to cool on the tray completely. Once cool, dust lightly with icing sugar. [Excuse the slight crack, that was me trying to move it to the cooling rack]

To fill, turn the base of the Giant Cookie over on your serving dish or cake stand and spread over a good generous layer of the conserve, leaving a slight border. Then place the dusted top cookie on the base to make a Giant Linzer Cookie.

 

For the Linzer Sandwich Cookie:

Use your desired cookie cutter to cut out as many shapes from the rolled out dough as possible and place on the baking tray. Then cut out the shape of your hole on half of the cookies while on the tray (you won’t distort the shape when transporting them!). Reroll any of the offcuts no more than twice.

Chill the cookies for 15 minutes before baking the bases for 12-14 minutes and the tops for 10-12 minutes until golden brown around the edges and they feel set. Leave to cool on the trays completely. Dust the tops completely with icing sugar.

To fill the cookies, turn the bases of the cookies over and spread over a good generous layer of jam, leaving a slight border around the edge. Then take one of the dusted top cookies and sandwich together to make a Linzer Sandwich Cookie.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and make sure to check out my latest recipe post inspired by The Great British Bake Off for Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Mini Rolls!

No Churn Black Sesame Ice Cream

Inspired by Nadiya Hussain’s rhubarb ripple ice cream that she made last week on her British Food Adventure, I am fuelling my obsession with black sesame and I’m sharing my recipe for my No Churn Black Sesame Ice Cream.

The black sesame ice cream has this wonderful charcoal grey colour which I think is so visually pleasing and attractive. What’s more, you certainly don’t expect the nutty, bitter and smoky flavour of black sesame to come from this grey coloured ice cream and it’s that flavour which lingers after an initial hit of creamy sweetness.

Both Nigella and Mary as well as Nadiya have also demonstrated this no churn ice cream method on their shows and it really is so simple. Instead of using a crème anglaise base for the ice cream, double cream and condensed milk remove all the hard work of making custard and using an ice cream maker.

Condensed milk contains most of the sugar you need and because it is condensed, the moisture from the milk has been evaporated giving a creamy ice cream that doesn’t contain large ice crystals which would be good for a sorbet or a granita. Whipped double cream makes the ideal ice cream texture which is light and takes away the churning process. Golden syrup, or liquid glucose, reduces the firmness of the ice cream when set and I like to add evaporated milk for a similar reason.

If you cannot find any black sesame powder, you can make it yourself very easily – and remember it is very versatile! Buy a whole load of black sesame seeds and toast them over a medium heat in a dry pan until they are fragrant and then grind them in a food processor or blender until a fine and slightly damp powder forms. Put into a zip lock bag or an airtight container in the fridge and discard when the powder begins to lose its freshness.

Make sure to also check out my Dark Chocolate and Black Sesame Biscuits!


300ml double cream

225g condensed milk

50ml evaporated milk

4 tsp golden syrup (or liquid glucose)

50g black sesame powder

3 tsp black sesame seeds, plus extra to sprinkle


Pour all of the ingredients except for the black sesame seeds into a large bowl and whisk until it has increased in volume and become thick but does not hold soft peaks. Scrape down the bowl using a spatula and fold through the black sesame seeds.

Transfer to a plastic container, scraping down the bowl completely – don’t waste any of that black sesame goodness!! Sprinkle more black sesame seeds over the top and then put the lid on the container.

Place the container into a bag – I recommend using one that you can get at the fruit/veg section in the supermarket – and then freeze for around 6 hours or until the ice cream has set and is firm.

Serve the ice cream either in a waffle cone or in a bowl. Finish the ice cream by sprinkling over some toasted black sesame seeds.

 

Dark Chocolate and Black Sesame Biscuits

Black sesame is an ingredient commonly used in many Chinese desserts such as black sesame soup called ji ma wu (a type of tong sui, or sweet soup – I’ve got a recipe for one here!) or as a filling for mochi or tong yuen which are glutinous rice balls.

In the UK however, black sesame is much less commonly used in comparison to its white sesame counterpart and yet they are arguably more interesting an ingredient!

For a long time, black sesame was reserved only for decorating breads or to sprinkle over savoury dishes to make them more attractive and trendy-looking but as the Western world begins to become more greatly influenced by Asian cultures, black sesame has found itself becoming an ingredient found much more frequently in recipes where the black sesame is a main ingredient and not just a garnish.

You might find maverick chefs, patissiers and chocolatiers using black sesame in their tuiles, biscuits, chocolates and cakes – and that includes Iain from Bake Off who made black sesame ice cream (and threw it in the bin)! Its colour as well as its flavour is certainly what has made black sesame such an attractive ingredient; the distinctive grey colour it produces is rather wonderful and tastes completely different to how it looks! You can find my No Churn Black Sesame Ice Cream recipe by clicking on the name!

Black sesame has a bitter, nuttier and smokier flavour compared to white sesame which are basically the same except black sesame does not have its outer hulls removed. This minute difference in the flavour means that black sesame is much more exciting an ingredient and what makes it so tasty too.

You’ll often black sesame being paired together with matcha green tea or dark chocolate as in today’s recipe for Black Sesame and Dark Chocolate Biscuits.

This follows a basic sugar cookie recipe which I finally have perfected after trying numerous recipes. If you wanted to make a basic plain cookie, simply omit the black sesame and the dark chocolate and up the sugar by 10g. You can also find my Funfetti Sugar Cookies too by clicking here. You might also want to check out my Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies, White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies and my Coffee and Vanilla Striped Biscuits! 


85g margarine

90g granulated sugar

1 egg

190g plain flour

10g black sesame seeds, plus extra to decorate

20g dark chocolate, finely grated


In a large bowl, cream together the margarine with the sugar until it is lighter in colour and the sugar has dissolved and is smooth. Add in the egg and beat well. Add in the plain flour, the black sesame seeds and the grated dark chocolate and fold through until it forms a pliable but not sticky dough.

Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 2 hours or overnight.

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180˚C. Line 2 baking trays with parchment.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the biscuit dough to 0.5cm thick, lifting up from the surface every so often so it doesn’t stick. Using a lightly floured 4cm cutter, cut out rounds of the biscuit dough and place on the lined baking tray, rerolling the offcuts no more than twice; these biscuits do not spread but will bake more evenly with space left between them for air to circulate.

Place 1 black sesame seed in the centre of each biscuit, pressing down lightly so it is embedded.

Bake the biscuits in the oven for around 11 minutes or until the edges have turned golden. Leave the biscuits on the baking tray to cool for 15 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool fully.

Sausage Stuffing Bonbons

They say that you’re obsessed with food when you start coming up with recipes and ideas at night before you go to sleep and this was certainly one of those occasions. In a moment of pure madness (and yet slight genius), I came up with my Sausage Stuffing Bonbons.

Now please bear with me, I struggled to come up with a name for these because “Sausage Balls” is too much of an innuendo for me to handle and especially if I add the word “crunchy” to it (as I did in my first draft)! I ended up calling them Sausage Stuffing Bonbons because they are little balls of sausage meat coated in a breadcrumb stuffing mix and bonbons makes them sound more playful and fun.

The idea first came to me when I wanted to try making my own Scotch eggs which soon turned into making mini Scotch eggs and then becoming Scotch eggs without an egg. Okay they are essentially a meatball however the difference between a standard meatball and my Sausage Stuffing Bonbons is that they are coated in a crunchy breadcrumb coating like a Scotch egg. Then I had a brainwave to use a sage and onion stuffing mix (which is essentially flavoured breadcrumbs) as the coating which compliments the sausage meat amazingly.

This recipe makes a pack of sausages that you get in a supermarket just a bit different with not much effort at all. These would be ideal for a party because they are so simple, cheap, fuss-free and can be made a day ahead (and baked on the day) but they also make a great little snack (if you can stop at having just a few because that stuffing coating makes these totally addictive). If you want to add a bit of extra fun, pop them on a lollipop stick and you have a savoury lollipop!


1lb (454g) Cumberland sausages

2 tbsp plain flour

40g plain flour

1 egg

3 slices of white bread

60g sage and onion stuffing mix

Dips, condiments and sauces, to serve


Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking parchment.

Squeeze out the sausage meat from the skins into a mixing bowl, adding the 2 tablespoons of plain flour and season well with salt and pepper. Use your hands to combine until it is well mixed. Form 24 balls of the sausage meat and set aside.

Place the plain flour into a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Beat together the eggs in another small bowl. In a food processor, blitz the bread into breadcrumbs and transfer to a large bowl. Then put the stuffing mix into the processor and blitz briefly until it is a fine crumb and then mix with the breadcrumbs.

Roll each ball lightly in the seasoned flour, coat in the beaten egg and then toss through the stuffing breadcrumb mixture. Place the balls onto the baking tray, leaving space in between each one.

Bake the sausage balls for around 20 – 25 minutes until the meat is cooked through and the coating is crisp and golden brown, turning halfway through. Drain the balls on kitchen paper before serving.

Serve warm alongside a variety of dips and condiments such as tomato salsa (as pictured), chutneys or relishes.