Friday 24 August 2012

It Isn't Carrot Cake Muffins ..... It's Apple.... !

I've been stuck at home this week, and some of last week.... literally.

Mostly because my little Bogwoppit (Oliver) has been very poorly indeed with a chest infection - but latterly also due to the fact that my pick up truck died on the driveway and had to be trailered to the garage. It's looking like an expensive repair... :-(

Oliver has barely eaten in a couple of weeks - though now he's on penicillin, is starting to improve.

"All I would like is a carrot cake please Mummy"

Hmm - when your child is as miserable as this, hasn't eaten all day (it's 5pm) and requests carrot cake, what are you going to do ? Make carrot cake of course !

Well - I went to the fridge and had a root around. Stacks of vegetables - but only two carrots. Rather rubbery, shrivelled and bendy carrots at that. They weren't going to be much good to make carrot cake - now were they .....

Being as I live miles from anywhere, had a poorly little boy and no car, improvisation was the order of the day.

They smelled glorious when I took them out the oven and I glazed the tops with a little warmed honey.

As I was taking these photos, Oliver had fallen asleep. There was a noise outside and a rap on the door.

HOORAY ! The local garage had turned up unannounced  and unexpected with a courtesy car. I can go on my chocolate making course tomorrow now after all !

As they handed me the keys, I handed them a plate with 6 warm apple muffins - also unexpected and just as welcome. Smiles all round.

"Is my carrot cake ready yet Mummy?" a little voice pipes up.

"Yes Honey. Sort of......"

Basically, this is my favourite carrot cake recipe, baked into muffins... but substituting apples for the carrots. When I make carrot cake, I'd normally use orange juice and zest and some more cinnamon plus a good big handful of raisins. Otherwise, it's as below : 



280g plain flour
140g sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg
90ml apple juice - or sub with other fruit juice
360g coarsely grated apple
1 tsp vanilla essence
100ml vegetable oil

Add nuts or raisins if wished.

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

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 silicone muffin mould or tin

Use a 12 hole silicone muffin mould and line with paper cake cases / liners. The moulds and paper case are available from our online shop at

These will look rather full as below.
 Due to the huge amount of apple (or carrots if you have any) - these don't rise very much.

Bake at 175deg C fan for 20mins. Glaze with warm honey or agave nectar on removing from the oven.

Enjoy !

Apple Cider Cake with Butterscotch Glaze

This is the apple cider cake with butterscotch glaze that I made for the August meet of the Norwich Clandestine Cake Club meet. Actually - I made two.... because I wanted to play... but the other one will be a different blog post since I've had requests on my Facebook page for a tutorial !

Our venue was a secret until a couple of days before - but it turned out to be Whitlingham Hall Conservatory. The hall was originally built in 1865. About 50 houses and the hall make up a small private estate with immaculately maintained grounds which are not open to the public. It was a real honour for the cake club to be granted permission to use this as a venue.

This is a photo taken just outside the conservatory showing some of the cakes on offer.

Peek-a-boo !

Which one would you choose ! There were FAR too many to try them all...

For my cake, I used our Five Hearts Tube / Bundt Silicone Bakeware mould. A similar bundt ring mould or cake pan would do.

First of all, lightly butter and then dust with flour the inside of your cake mould. Alternatively, spray with cake release spray.

Preheat the oven to 175deg C Fan.


315g salted butter
500g sugar
500ml of cider (boil to reduce to 1 cup / 250ml approx)
375g all purpose plain flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
6 eggs

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one by one.

Mix in 1/3 of dry ingredients, followed by 1/3 of the reduced cider. Alternate adding remaining dry ingredients and cider reduction.

Bake at 175deg C Fan for approx 70mins in a greased and floured tube ring / bundt ring silicone bakeware mould or equivalent pan - until a skewer comes out clean.

For the glaze :

1 cup of sugar (250mls)
115g of butter
150ml of single cream
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Put all the glaze ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil. Stir constantly. It needs to boil for about 8 to 10 mins. Remove from the heat. Use a brush to spread half of it over the cake, covering all of the outside.

Put the remaining glaze in a small jug and leave to cool. This can be used for pouring a little extra on over each slice

WARNING - this stuff rises up high in the pan - use a medium size pan - not a tiny milk pan !

Serves approx 15.

Sarah-Jane Nash - - August 2012

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Heart and Kitty / Teddy Shaped Macarons - NEW STYLE MACARON MAT

Heart shape and Hello Kitty / Teddy bear shape macarons have always been awkward to make. If you have ever tried piping them, you'll know that the shape often distorts in baking. It's very very hard to achieve identical size and shaped macarons to pair up together. Making fancy shape macarons normally results in a few decent ones and a load you want to pretend someone else made !

This mat works in exactly the same way as our very popular original Revolutionary Double Sided Macaron Mat (that one has two sizes of circular cells). You can find many recipes using our macaron mats on this blog. The important thing is that timing when baking on these mats differ. I like to bake at 150deg C fan with the door open for 5 mins, and then a further 18 > 20 mins with the door shut. I don't bother leaving them out to wait for a skin to form - that happens anyway when you bake for 5 mins with the door open and saves a lot of hanging around.

This macaron mat has 16 cells on each side, each 60mm wide, with plenty of air space / gap around each macaron.  Each mat is 300mm x 300mm / 12" square and fits on a standard baking tray. We also make this mat in a 600 x 300mm commercial size.

Simply pipe you mix to fill the inner line, and as it relaxes, it should spread to the outer line. Use a teaspoon handle or similar to coax the mixture into the ears and point / bulbs of the heart if required. 

I find it best to pipe one tray load at a time with the hearts / kittys so I can coax the mix into the tighter areas before it starts to skin.

After piping, place two heart shaped sprinkles on tip to tip just below the ear to create a bow for Kitty. The face markings are drawn on using an edible marker after baking.

To make enough mix to bake two trays of macarons and a few extra, use 1/2 my standard recipe in the YOUTUBE tutorial.

Friday 17 August 2012

Bake A Little Sunshine - Sunflower Cupcake Bouquet

I made this pretty cupcake bouquet early this evening. To me, it just oozes sunshine. Our new green paper cupcake cases (available in mini and standard size) are a fab complimentary colour for flowery cupcakes. These work really well in cupcake bouquets.

Vanilla cupcakes - makes 12

115g butter (soft - room temperature)
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp good vanilla extract
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 rounded cup of self raising flour
1/2 cup of milk

Cream butter and sugar until white and pale. Beat in egg.

Mix in 1/2 sifted flours followed by 1/2 the milk. Repeat with remaining flour and milk.

Bake for approx 20 minutes at 170deg C, or maybe a bit less time if using a silicone bakeare muffin mould as I do.

Frost with your favourite frosting recipe and then decorate !

Vanilla frosting shown here was 125g salted butter, 4 cups sifted icing sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 cup of milk. Add some more icing sugar if desired consistency is not thick enough (mine shown here was perfect first time).

That's was enough to frost 6 cupcakes with a little left over.

I split the buttercream into two batches and coloured one lot yellow and the other lot green. An oreo went on top of  the green buttercream before three layers of petals were piped on.

Sarah-Jane Nash - - August 2012

Tuesday 14 August 2012

White Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

The original version of this recipe is by Nigella Lawson..... that says one thing - you can bet it's good !  These cookies are crispy and chewy. They're not soft. They are amazing with a cup of tea, or sandwiched with homemade vanilla ice cream.

This was the first recipe I ever baked from DOMESTIC GODDESS. I've modified it a bit to suit me over a few years and also love it made with brazil nuts in place of the pistachios. It became a birthday time recipe as it's my mum's all time cookie recipe ..... and I send them to her most birthdays. My brother has a big soft spot for these cookies too !

Ingredients : 

100g salted butter
100g caster sugar
150g soft brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
150g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g ground pistachios
50g pistachios roughtly chopped
100g pistachios (left whole)
175g white chocolate

Cream butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla then combine.

Mix in the flour and bicarb followed by nuts and chocolate.

Using slightly wet hands, roll into small balls about walnut size and put on a baking tray lined with a silicone tray liner or baking paper. 

Bake in a pre heated fan oven at 170deg for approx 10 mins until golden. Leave on tray for a few minutes to firm up before transferring to a rack to cool.

I took these cookies into work with some home made ice cream to photograph. Needless to say, it did not last long !

Colin and Richard made short work of the melting ice cream and cookies. The rest of the cookies went in the post to Mum.

Oliver and I have been making the most of the last few days of summer sunshine - after all - it's been a VERY wet summer !
On Saturday after work, we took a trip to High Lodge at Thetford Forest. There was so much for Oliver to do that we were easily occupied all afternoon. The new musical forest walk is amazing. Here is a little video we made for Nanny and Pappy.
Sunday was a beautiful day too. Daddy was out working on his car, so Oliver and Mummy went a nice long walk. Oliver had a ride on Emma's bike.
After our day out on Saturday, it was all a bit too much. After half way, I had to push Oliver on the bike..... then he pushed the bike. After a little while even that got too much....
Mummy ended up carrying both Oliver and the bike (and the camera) ! 
I must say - I was rather relieved to get home. It was a bit of a struggle....
Oliver and Mummy - 12 > 14th August 2012 -

Friday 10 August 2012

Caramelised Onion, Garlic and Rosemary Bread

This has to be my favourite bread of all time. I've been making it for the last 10 years !

It' nothing more than a basic white loaf recipe which I tarted up really - but it's moist, delicious and filling. It's amazing for open sandwiches - such as the one I had yesterday with a little butter, left over roast chicken and sea salt on top. Mmmm.

This recipe will make one 2lb loaf or 2 x 1lb loaves. We do both a 2lb silicone loaf mould and a 1lb silicone loaf mould. A common misconception is that a 2lb loaf mould needs 2lb of flour. That's NOT correct. You need to use approx 500g of flour plus appropriate amount of liquid (approx 320 > 350ml) and the total weight is around 2lb !

I usually make one batch of the recipe below and divide it into two after the first prove. I bake one half of the recipe in a 1lb silicone loaf mold. I put the other half into a roomy self seal food bag in the fridge. It's quite happy to stay in there for a couple of days - ready to be pulled out and baked as soon as I'm ready to do so.


500g of strong white bread flour
320ml water
50ml olive oil
A large sprig (about 6" / 150mm long) of fresh rosemary
2 cloves of garlic - still in the skins
2 medium sized onions
1tsp salt
2 > 3 tablespoons of white sugar
1 x 7g sachet of instant breadmaker yeast - or 1 level tablespoon Active Dried Yeast

You can make this bread recipe in a food mixer or by hand. I make it both ways - in the food mixer if I'm doing two jobs at once, or by hand if I've got plenty of time !

If you are using active dried yeast, follow the instructions on the packet and prepare it now. The stuff I use is one level tablespoon of ADY and 1 teaspoon of sugar disolved into 150ml warm water. Whisk well and set aside for approx 15 mins until foamy on top.

Put the flour in a large bowl with the salt and mix through. Top the yeast / water up to 320mls. Add this to the flour in the bowl and combine. You can then turn out and knead for a good ten minutes until smooth and silky, or use a dough hook in a food mixer for around 5 mins..

Cover with cling film and set aside for approx 45 mins or until doubled in size.

Next, put the olive oil in a pan on a low to medium heat. Add the sliced onions, rosemary and garlic in skins. Cook this slowly on a low heat until onions are translucent. Add a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a little water if required. Cook a few minutes longer until sugar has disolved and onions begin to lightly caramelise. 

Remove the rosemary and garlic. Set aside to cool.

After dough has first rise, flatten it out and add 3/4 of the sliced onions on top. Fold it over one way and then over again the other. It may be rather squishy. That's ok. Knead it in if you like, as this dough is going to have a second prove.

Once incorporated, either put into a 2lb loaf mould or divide in 2 and put one lot in a 1lb mould and the other half in a plastic bag in your fridge (to bake tomorrow or the day after).

Leave for approx 30 mins until almost doubled in size. I didn't split mine very evenly and ended up with one loaf (this one) a bit bigger than the one I baked today. 

Scatter remaining onions on top of your loaf / loaves with a few fresh rosemary leaves and some sea salt flakes.

Bake at approx 180deg C fan oven for around 30mins.

Remove from mould and allow to cool before slicing ! Enjoy :-)

Sarah-Jane Nash -