Thursday, 29 January 2009

Brown Bread and Butter Ice Cream

The finished ice cream

Toasted breadcrumbs and sugar (I had to stop myself from scoffing all these!)

The custard and crumbs ready to put in the ice cream maker

This is an unusual ice cream from 'Apples For Jam' - using leftover bread for flavour and texture.

Breadcrumbs and brown sugar are toasted, then a custard is made with eggs, vanilla, cream and milk. Melted butter and the sugary breadcrumbs are stirred in and then it's churned in an ice cream maker.

It looks unusual - like it's wholemeal ice cream - and kind of tastes like someone has crushed up sugar cones and stirred them through. Various comments were 'it looks like soggy Weetbix', 'it tastes like muesli' and 'it's like cold porridge' - but the children did ask for seconds, so it can't be that bad!

I'm not sure if I'd make it again, but if I did I'd definitely use less sugar because I think it's too sweet. I'm glad I made this recipe though because it has helped me overcome my 'fear' of making custard (something I've always made by using custard powder) or custard based ice creams, because I now know it's not that hard!

100 g brown bread crumbs
100 g brown sugar
60 g butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
125 ml milk
355 ml cream (I used a 300 ml carton and used a bit more milk instead)

Wednesday, 28 January 2009


Pomegranate and yogurt - a great dessert for a hot day

Monday, 26 January 2009

Pizza Rossa

This is called 'La Pizza Rossa' in Apples For Jam, and the topping is a simple tomato sauce. I added a few toppings and sort of managed to keep the red theme - I added ham, cabanossi and a little cheese.

The base is exactly the same as the focaccia (see below), but instead of brushing with the oil/water/salt mixture after the second rise, a tomato topping is carefully spread over and the pizza is cooked in a hot oven for 20 mins or so until it has crisped up.

The edges were crispy and the middle was softer - if I had cooked it for longer the middle would probably have been more crispy, but I didn't want to burn the topping and I had hungry people waiting for their dinner!

Ingredients for topping:

4 tbsp olive oil
1 large garlic clove, peeled and squashed a bit
800 g tinned diced tomatoes
a few basil leaves, torn
1 tsp salt
plus I added a little sugar

Heat oil and garlic in a pan until you can smell the garlic, add the tomatoes, basil and salt and simmer rapidly for 15 mins or so until the sauce thickens.

Blueberry Buttermilk Bread

Another way to eat blueberries in a cake - this is like a big loaf-shaped muffin made with buttermilk (I think blueberries and buttermilk seem to work well together).

You combine the wet with the dry ingredients until just combined, and then cook in a lined loaf tin at 180 C for one hour.

(I undercooked mine and only cooked it for 50 mins - it needed the extra 10 mins because it's a bit squashy in the middle - I think the kitchen got a bit busy at that time and I took it out too early without thinking.)

This is the kind of cake I like - easy to make, not very sweet (I only added 3/4 cup of sugar), solid and filling.


2 cups (300 g ) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup (220 g) demarara sugar
1 punnet blueberries
1 egg, lightly beaten
60 g butter, melted
1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk

Saturday, 24 January 2009


A step-by-step guide to making focaccia!

(ingredients listed at the end)

I've made this on my blog before, but now I've included the method and some photos.

Whisk together yeast, honey, water, oil and 3 fistfuls of the flour in a bowl with a whisk or hand mixer. Leave for 20 mins, covered, in a warm place.

After 20 mins it has frothed up quite a bit.

Mix in flour and salt, then knead - or rather squish around with your hands in the bowl for 4-5 minutes - it's very sticky. (You can use dough hooks in a mixer if you prefer)

Cover and leave for about one and a half hours.
(It puffs up a lot - this photo was taken half way through the rising time. By the end of rising time it had stuck to the plate that was covering the bowl.)

Punch down the dough.

Spread as evenly as you can into an oiled baking dish (I used the one that came with my oven and I also lined it with baking paper to save on washing up). Still very sticky!

Leave to rise for 45 mins, until puffed up. Cover with towels or plastic wrap but in 'tent' fashion using jars or glasses around the tray to stop the dough sticking to its cover.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 220 C.

Make dimples with your finger, brush with a mixture of warm water, olive oil and salt.
You can top with herbs (such as rosemary) at this point if you like.

Cook for 20 - 30 mins until golden and hollow when tapped.

Lovely and crispy when still warm from the oven, but still very good the next day for sandwiches.


435 ml warm water
20 g fresh yeast (or 10 g dried)
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
600 g plain flour
1 tsp salt
To brush over the top:
1/2 cup hot water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Monday, 19 January 2009

My new kitchen timer

I've put a photo of my new Lego kitchen timer on here because it's so cool! It was sent to me by my sister Claire and her family.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Buttermilk and Apricot Crumble Cake

Not the most photogenic cake in the world!

I had some apricots and buttermilk in the fridge (both past their best), and found this recipe to use them up in a tasty way.

It's a sort of cross between a cake and a pudding, with a sponge bottom, fruity middle (you could use any soft fruit here, I imagine) and a sweet oaty topping.

First you cream the butter, sugar and egg, then add the flour, baking powder and buttermilk. Spread into a lined pan (I used a square Pyrex dish lined with a strip of baking paper) then top with chopped fruit.

Combine the topping ingredients in a bowl and spoon over the top of the fruit.

Bake at 200 C for 45 min (test with skewer) and cool before serving. Goes well with custard, especially if you find cooked apricot a bit tart. I think some cooked apple would be nice in the winter.

100 g caster sugar
1 egg
60 g butter (soft)
160 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
50 ml buttermilk
300 g chopped apricots or other fruit
100 ml buttermilk
50 g rolled oats
50 g ground almonds or walnuts
80 g brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon

(adapted from 'The Passionate Cook' blog)

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Orange Juice and Olive Oil Cake

The uncrumbly side of the cake

Another recipe from 'Apples for Jam' - this cake uses olive oil instead of butter, and orange juice for flavouring, so I think it's pretty good for you (and I added cream for calcium!)

It's not the most straightforward cake to make, but as long as you have 2 large bowls and a hand-mixer, it's pretty easy.

First you whisk up the egg whites in a bowl until firm, then put them in the fridge until you need them, if it's a warm day.

In the other bowl, whip up the yolks and vanilla until foamy, whisk in the caster and brown sugars, then gradually whisk in the olive oil. Add the flour, baking powder, and orange juice and zest, then beat it all together until smooth. Gently fold in the egg whites and pour the cake mix into a 22 cm springform tin. Cook at 180 C for 35 mins until the top is crusty.

In the book, the cake is topped with pine nuts, but I topped mine with some semolina and demarara sugar which gave a good crusty topping. I think flaked almonds would work well too.

I had a bit of trouble getting the cake out of the pan and it crumbled on one side which was a bit annoying, so it's best to wait until it's cool and firm to get it out of its pan. I also had a problem with my #!@$ oven which decided to turn itself off while the cake was cooking (it has a dodgy timer which does its own thing sometimes). The cake turned out fine though. Phew! A light, orangey sponge cake with a crunchy topping that works really well as a dessert. Would go very well with fruit and ice cream too.

2 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
125 g caster sugar
25 g brown sugar
100 ml olive oil
200 g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
125 ml orange juice, freshly squeezed, and zest of half orange

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

These cookies are from 'Feast' by Nigella Lawson, and are very nice! I reduce the amount of sugar to avoid them being too sweet, because the choc chips add a lot of sweetness.

You cream together the butter and sugar, beat in the egg and vanilla, then the combined flour, baking powder, salt and oats. Stir in the cranberries, nuts and choc chips.

Cook tablespoonfuls of the mixture on a lined baking tray at 180 C for 15 min or until tinged with gold.

140 g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
75 g rolled oats
125 g soft unsalted butter
50 - 75 g brown sugar
70 - 100 g caster sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
75 g dried cranberries
50 g pecans, chopped
100 g white choc chips

Part of today's lunch - bread rolls (from the bread shop), apricots, cookies (as above) and blueberry buttermilk cake.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

I've made this recipe before, with strawberries (here) and today I used blueberries instead. Delicious! Blueberries definitely are the fruit to use rather than strawberries because they melt into the cake so well.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Orange Cornmeal Cake

This is a cake recipe from 'Forever Summer' and it's the sort of cake that's supposed to be eaten as a pudding, for example with fruit and cream.

It's easy to make - beat soft butter until it's light, beat in caster sugar, egg, plain yogurt, orange juice and zest (and orange oil if you have some) - then fold in polenta (cornmeal), flour and baking powder. I made half the recipe and cooked it in a loaf pan lined with a strip of baking paper.

It's a soft, puddingy cake, which adds a light, orangey-buttery flavour to a bowl of fruit and cream or yogurt. It also has a slight crunch because of the polenta. We've been having hot weather here lately, so it's perfect for dessert or afternoon tea.

I have a similar recipe from an Italian cookbook which uses oil and no orange, which I'll be trying soon.

250 g soft unsalted butter
175 g caster sugar
4 eggs
60 ml plain yogurt
zest of one orange, juice of half
half tsp orange oil if you have it (I found just the juice and zest was a strong enough flavour)
125 g fine (yellow) cornmeal/polenta
50 g plain flour
1 and a half tsp baking powder
To serve: mixed summer berries, and creme fraiche, marscapone or whipped cream

Sunday, 4 January 2009


We were having pasta with Bolognese sauce tonight, so I decided to try making focaccia to go with it. I followed the recipe for focaccia from 'Apples for Jam' which uses normal plain flour instead of bread flour, and I wasn't quite sure how it would work out, but decided to go with it.

Making the focaccia was very similar to making normal bread, with slight variations. The yeast frothed up more to start with, and the dough was much stickier so had to be kneaded (or squished around) in the bowl. It puffed up a lot after being left to rise, and then had to be spread gently into a pan before being proved. Then after making dents in the surface, I brushed it with a salt/oil/hot water mix before cooking it.

It was really lovely bread, and went well with the Bolognese - especially when topped with some butter, garlic and herbs!

Easy to make, although a little more time-comsuming to make than a normal loaf. It had a crispness to it which I assume would be lost slightly if bread flour was used, and the amount of ingredients made a large slab (about 25 x 35 cm) - about twice as much as the 5 of us needed for our meal.

435 ml warm water
20 g fresh yeast (or 10 g dried)
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
600 g plain flour