Saturday, 31 March 2012

Oliver Makes Toffee Popcorn

Got children ? Get them involved with you in the kitchen.

My little boy, Oliver is 3yo and loves helping Mummy in the kitchen.  He adores baking (especially sifting flour) and peeling vegetables. Another favourite is getting to make omlet for his tea. The blue eggs from our cream legbar hen are his favourite and he has now got the hang of cracking them properly without just squashing the whole thing in his hands after breaking the shell.

Recently, we made toffee popcorn. He had such fun watching it pop through the glass lid in the pan. So much so, that we made another batch at his request the next morning. He took it to nursery for "Show and Tell" to share with his class. It was a horrid rainy day, so the kids got to watch a short film and eat their popcorn. Oliver's teacher said the kids had a blast !

Anyway - here is a first YouTube tutorial by Oliver. All you need is some popcorn kernels, a little oil, butter and golden syrup.

Enjoy x

Having Fun With Simple Cake Pops !

I've got a lot of blog catching up to do !

The last few weeks have been really tough with a horrendous work load, but finally the new website at is live. It went online yesterday afternoon.

Though not yet complete, it's functional and up and running with a lot of new features. I need to continue to work on it, so missing images etc will be appearing over the course of the next week or so as I get them all added. Once it's completed, I can then start to add some more new stuff which I might decide to tease you all with on the blog first.

Well - I decided to have a play at some cake pops a few weeks ago. Actually - I couldn't have told you HOW long ago it was until I took a look at the youtube upload date - so I can only guess it was around 3rd March.

I used this silicone bakeware mould - our 15 cell semi sphere which is only £4.25 and will easily roll up and store in a kitchen drawer.

My intention had been to made a standard sponge mix ( 175g each of butter, self raising flour, sugar and 3 whole eggs), but I'd made macarons a day or so before and had 5 yolks sitting in the fridge. Instead, I used 1 whole egg  plus 5 yolks and some milk to loosen it up a bit.

Worked really well and made a really rich cake.

Typically, it was a project I STARTED at almost 3am, and also created a dodgy YouTube video of the process which you can view further down.

Just the thing for two little friends on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Oliver and Zach adored these ones with coloured chocolate beans. I'd taken a plain coated cake pop and stuck the beans on with little dots of extra candy melt. Made for enormous cake pops and took them an eternity to pick (and eat) all those chocolate beans !

A very late night making cake pops at an unsociable hour made every minute worthwhile when these two got their hands on the goodies. There was a lot of excitement and shrieking !

Hmm - you get the idea. It worked really well, but the lighting was dire with these low energy lightbulbs and videoing yourself never works very well ....

Sarah-Jane Nash -

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Apple Strudel Confession.....

I adapted the recipe below from the Hairy Biker's most recent book. If you have not already watched it - do tune in to their latest television series. Last week's episode was in Norway and hilariously funny... as well as showing some amazing places and baking. It's got to be the best thing on tv right now. The book looks pretty good too.

Flicking through the book, I found a strudel recipe which reminded me of a really funny family story (from when I was a little girl) that I must get mum to share !

Recipe Adapted from : The Hairy Biker's Big Book of Baking

6 sheets of filo pastry
approx 800g peeled and sliced eating apples (prepared weight)
50g breadcrumbs
90g caster sugar
70g raisins
2tsp cinnamon
60g melted butter

Preheat oven to 160 deg fan.

Mix sliced apples, sugar and raisins together and set aside.

Lay out a sheet of filo on top of a silicone rolling / work mat. Brush all over with melted butter and repeat with remaining filo sheets.

Scatter the bread crumbs over the top of the stack of filo sheets. Lay the apple / raisin mix on top.

Reduce the juices in the bottom of the bowl from the apples to a syrup and drizzle over the top. It's too good to waste !

Using the mat, roll up like a swiss roll. Place on top of a baking tray and bake for approx 40 minutes until crisp.

Dust liberally with icing sugar before slicing. 

Sarah-Jane Nash, March 2012

The Embarrassing Strudel

Once upon a time, (and this is a TRUE story!) many years ago, our little family of 4 were holidaying in Tenneriffe. We were living in a holiday flat at the top of a really steep hill (NOT called Los Gigantes for nothing!). Every morning we toddled down a couple of hundred steps to the village, and every morning, to help us get back up the steps again, we partook of some 'goodies' from the patisserie to fortify us on the way back up.

Towards the end of our holiday the calorie guilt set in. The patisserie was busy, so Simon and I went to   get a seat for us all outside, while Sarah-Jane and her dad waited in the queue.
"Just a single scoop of ice cream each for us, please, and you too..... Don't go getting too fancy now - let's watch the calories today!"

It was a long wait. The shop was so busy. After a while, a waitress came out to our table, and laid down  a lot of metal jugs and bowls, along with knives and forks rolled up in napkins. Mmmmm - interesting, "I wonder what all this is for?", we thought.

A few minutes later she came back - this time with an enormous oval platter with a giant apple strudel smothered in fresh cream!
Simon and I just shook our heads and thought, "We're just having a little scoop of ice cream each, but THEY are having this enormous strudel between them! How greedy-gutsy is THAT!!!!???"

We were still waiting on Sarah-Jane and her dad coming out. There was no sign of them. They must be ordering something else too. "Let's have a taste of at this strudel! They'll never know!"

We scraped off some cream and dug out lots of great big juicy lumps of apple from the middle - just to 'TEST' it you see! We plastered the strudel back up to cover the gaping holes, licked our knives and forks clean, wrapped them back up in their napkins and sat back to wait...looking a 'picture of innocence'.

Soon after, the waitress came over, and took away all the teapots and things, and took them to another table. Great! we have more room now, and they were all empty anyway.

THEN, a BIG hefty-looking german man squeezed past us to the next table. He turned and looked at our lovely apple strudel - and said.

"ZIS VILL BE MINE!' .......and took the strudel and forks away!

Simon and I just LOOKED at each other!

Seconds later, Sarah-jane and her dad joined us with just four tiny scoops of ice cream... one each just as arranged. We couldn't even TELL them what happened as the big german was sitting behind us, tucking into the apple strudel....!!!! 
(Simon and I outside the Patisserie in Teneriffe)

Sarah-Jane - your strudel is really TINY, and you've forgotten all the lashings of fresh cream!   lol

Apple Strudel

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Chocolate Swirl Meringues - Made for Mummy

Happy Mothers Day (in the UK) to all you mummies out there !

Oliver suggested we bake today, so he helped make these amazing Chocolate swirl meringues. They honestly taste divine and are very easy to make. I dropped some in to the neighbours who seemed pleased with the box of four (shown in the back ground). There are still a few shells remaining in a tupperware box - though I doubt they will remain there for long.

This is a really simple recipe which requires amazingly minimal effort with super results. These would look quite the part on any afternoon tea cake stand !

RECIPE - makes 12.

5 egg whites
200g powdered / icing sugar
pinch of salt
100g milk chocolate

Whip the egg whites into firm peaks. Adding a pinch of salt to the whites tends to make them break down and whip up better.. Add the powdered sugar and whip to get a glossy meringue.

Melt the milk chocolate. Gently fold the milk chocolate into the meringue. You only want to about half fold it in if you wish to get a streaked effect like this.

Spoon into 24 heaps on to a silicone liner on top of a baking tray (no need to grease and flour for these), or on to a tray lined with baking paper.

Bake at 120deg  C fan oven for approx 40 > 45mins.

Allow to cool and then fill with a little fresh whipped cream.

Photo - 11/3/2012

I'm Mummy to this adorable little monkey treasure. 

Oliver is now a whole 3.1/4 years old and makes me the happiest Mummy alive. Where did the time go ? I can't believe he's growing up so quick ! Now I know why people told me it feels like you blink and miss them growing up.

My blog is our record of Oliver's childhood. Every year, a copy will be printed as a family recipe book. After all, few of us bother printing digital photos very often. I must admit it's been ages since I last printed any. This blog is basically my digital photo album and recipes I want to keep. I'm only too happy to share it with the world, but there will never be any apologies for all the family stuff / photos !

The last couple must admit that the last couple of weeks have been really tough. Sunday before last (11th March), we had a family afternoon out. We had intended going to Bressingham Steam Museum and Gardens - but on arrival, found it was shut and does not reopen until the end of this month.

That resulted in a quick shopping trip to the supermarket and a impromptu picnic lunch in a nearby parkland / wood. Oliver had had an awful cold and hadn't been very well at all that week. He wanted to go out, so we figured keeping him occupied was the best idea....

We saw this little frog. I was lucky to get a photo as Oliver was keep to chase him off and make him jump !

....and some interesting fungi......

and LOTS of ladybirds....

and jumped across a series of sprung wobbly tables.

The fun however was short lived. We didn't walk far, and I carried Oliver on my shoulders back to the car. He'd developed a fever and was a fairly unhappy. A dose of Calpol and he slept on the way home.

It got worse and every 4 hours the raging fever was back. That evening was not pleasant. I spent a considerable time scraping vomit up from in between the seat cushions of the sofa and the rest of the time trying to console a very poorly small child. It's times like that when you feel so helpless.

Still. It passed after a couple of  days....

Now it's my turn. I've been coughing for a few weeks. I'm tired, been working too much and I need to go to bed. It's 2am and I think it's time for an early night. Yup - 2am is an early night in my world. A lot of things happening and I'll fill you in very soon. This year, most nights bed time is somewhere around 4am. Hmm - no wonder I'm poorly. I guess I should listen to MY mum ... do as I'm told and go to bed... right ?

A note to my Mummy - who, as you know, also reads my blog....

We may be some distance apart, but forever I hold you close in my heart and love you dearly.

Night all x

Individual Strawberry Sponge Flans

So simple - but so impressive. Easy single portion strawberry flans are quick and simple to make for a summery afternoon tea party. It's one of my favourite "pull it off in a jiffy" recipes that takes minimal thought and effort but gets everyone talking about it !

It's honestly no more than a basic 3 egg sponge mix, with a bit of whipped double cream, some fresh strawberries and some strawberry sauce to glaze and add some sweetness.

It's so easy ...... I'll even admit that the strawberry sauce is a cheat and comes from a bottle.

First of all, take one of our 4 cell mini flan moulds. Either butter the inside and dust with flour or spray with cake release. You'll need two moulds (or to bake twice) as this recipe will make 7 to 8 mini flan sponges. 

Each mini flan sponge cake is 95mm (approx 4") in diameter.


175g butter / margarine
175g caster sugar
175g plain flour
3 eggs

Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs. Mix in the flour. Add a small amount of milk (about 50ml) too loosen the mix a little.

Put into pre prepared mini flan moulds that have been placed on a baking tray then greased with butter and then dusted with flour...

Bake at approx 170deg C fan oven for about 12 > 14 minutes. Release flans from the moulds when cooled, but still warm.

Add some slightly sweetened whipped cream. Top with strawberries and strawberry ice cream sauce to glaze and you're done !

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Crumpets for Breakfast, Crumpets for Tea

Crumpets for breakfast,
Crumpets for tea
Just about anytime - that would do me !

Quintessentially English, homemade crumpets are a light year away from the factory produced ones that you can buy in supermarkets. They're a yeasted bread product with a soft texture which looks like honeycomb which begs to be slathered in butter and jam / honey.

The holes are important and it took me a few attempts to get them just right. I've learnt a lot along the way. I'd never buy shop bought crumpets now as they are so easy to make and not in the slightest rubbery.

To make them, you will need crumpet rings. I did invest in a set - but had a horrendous time trying to get them out the rings - and that resulted in a couple of nasty burns. Eventually, I found some very large silicone egg rings that did the job. Maybe need to consider making our own rings specifically for crumpets !

If you don't have rings, you can make them free-form without. They'll just be thinner and tend to be known as pikelets.


450g strong white bread flour
7g (1 sachet) bread maker yeast 
tablespoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
300ml milk
300ml water

1.1/2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda into 75ml water and 75ml milk (150ml total)

Warm the first lot of milk and water to around body temperature (lukewarm). Add to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. It's a sloppy goo - and does not resemble bread dough. I do this with a hand held electric whisk for a very short amount of time to make sure I get all the lumps out quickly.

Cover and leave in a warm place for about an hour until risen and bubbly.

Mix in the rest of the liquid and bicarbonate of soda. Leave for another 10 mins and then transfer into a pouring jug.

Pour to (approx 1/2 fill) well greased rings (preferably silicone if you don't want a nightmare getting them out) until the tops become set and then turn over .  

Serve warm with butter and honey or jam - or allow to cool and toast later.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Carrot Cake Muffins - adored by children and friends !

This recipe can easily be made into one large cake, or bakes just as well as 12 muffins / cupcakes. I think they would be best referred to as muffins since there is no creaming of butter and sugar involved. These have a very high carrot content which adds loads of natural sweetness and also keeps them very moist.

Frosting really is not required - but it's quite nice to plaster some lemon buttercream or cream cheese icing on top.

Oliver and I rattled two batches of these up a fortnight ago before work one Saturday morning. One batch was for colleagues and customers and the other lot were for a friend (Mel), her husband and kids.

You can never make too many of these. They'll keep for a couple of days in the fridge ok, or freeze well.


280g plain flour
2 tsp baking poweder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp ground cinnamon
90ml fresh orange juice
zest of an orange 
360g carrots (1/2 coarsely grated, 1/2 fine grated)
1 tsp vanilla essence
100ml vegetable oil

Add nuts or raisins if wished.

Add oil and orange juice together and mix in the egg with a fork. To this, add the grated carrot.

Sift all the dry ingredients and add wet ingredients to the bowl. Mix in roughly with a wooden spoon - only until combined. Spoon into a lined tin or paper cupcake cases in a 12 cell muffin mould or tin

For cupcakes, bake at 180deg C fan for approx 20mins,. For a large cake - same temperature in a  (but I forget how long - probably about 50 > 60 mins)

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Boudoir Biscuits and Cranberry Curd (TWO RECIPES)

Some cranberries were taunting me.  I'd bought them to make cranberry sauce just after Christmas and simply never got round to making it. There were two bags, two MONTHS out of date. The cranberries however looked really fresh still and were not wrinkled / shrivelled or squishy.

Mid February, I decided I'd better get on and make something with them fast and turned them into some vivid cranberry curd. 

Cranberry Curd

650g of fresh cranberries (makes approx 400g sieved puree)
juice and zest of 1 large orange

300g sugar
200g melted butter
 2 eggs plus 4 egg yolks

Add the orange juice and zest to the cranberries. Put in a covered saucepan and simmer until the berries burst.

Remove from heat and press the berries through a sieve to remove skins and seeds. Don't worry if some passed through. I normally sieve it again just before I jar it.

Beat the eggs and mix in the slightly warm melted butter. set aside

Put this back into the saucepan along with the sugar and start to heat through gently. Mix in the butter / egg mix over a low heat. Cook very gently (stirring all the time) on a low heat until the mixture thickens. This curd is a bit thicker than my normal as it uses puree rather than fruit juice.

Strain again through a sieve and put into warm sterilised jars.

Makes around 4 small jars.

On the same day, I also made Boudoir biscuits with a crispy sugary top - more commonly also known as LADY FINGERS and often used in making trifles and tiramisu. Yes, lady fingers are finger shaped, but I reckon there is no reason not to make them round if you want to.....

Boudoir Biscuits (adapted from

3 eggs
4 tablespoons caster sugar
6 tablespoons icing sugar
3/4 cup plain (cake) flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup caster sugar (for later)

preheat the oven to 170deg C fan

Separate the eggs.

Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks and then beat in the sugar  and vanilla until glossy. Fold in the sieved flour. Pipe fingers on to a tray lined with baking paper - or on into the circles on our Double Sided Macaron Mat like I did. Do note - this mixture doesn't spread out too much - but it will rise a fair bit.

Douse all the tops well with caster sugar. Leave for about 5 mins and then  give them a good dousing with yet more caster sugar.

Pop in the oven for around 12 > 15 minutes until turning a pale golden colour.

These are more like little crispy sugar coated plain sponge drops. They are a very fine and light sponge texture. Nothing like sponge cake !

Aren't they cute ? Leave for 5 mins to cool and then peel off the mats and finish cooling on a wore rack. Use them to nibble with a cup of tea or to make tiramusi or trifle.

Setting Sun in Norfolk, mid February

Sarah-Jane Nash -