Apple Square with Toffee Sauce

Gosh its been a long old summer! Its still 24 degrees here in the South of France but soon I will be returning to the UK where it is damp, chilly and a little foggy apparently! (Hahaha 😉 )

On my return I will be starting a new venture, a little company called Free Range Kitchen. Through this, you lovely people can actually have me come to your house (!) and cook you dinner. Or help you cook something you’ve been wanting to learn, or even just fill up your fridge or freezer with yummy delightful dinners!

Autumn in a cake

Autumn in a cake

On that note, I have been testing out lots of new recipes for my sample menus and this is just one of the many puddings that will be on offer during the Autumn.

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Pumpkin Coffee Cake

…with brown sugar glaze.

How good does that last bit sound?!

I still haven’t found a muffin pan. I have the most amazing little pirate cupcake cases and paper pirates on sticks to put in them…

Thank you Father Christmas!

Thank you Father Christmas!

…and I can’t bake with them because apparently no one in Malta bakes cupcakes! Gah! This means I still haven’t tried these. Which makes me a little bit sad.

So until then I shall make tray bakes instead. Which makes me happy, yay!

I may have mentioned before how much I like pumpkin? And that even if the Maltese don’t do cupcakes, they sure do pumpkin – there is tons of it and its super cheap. AND you can buy it in segments!

A little small for Cinderella's carriage...lets eat it instead

A little small for Cinderella’s carriage…lets eat it instead

I usually make coffee cake as a go to sponge as Victoria sponge can just be a little too tame for me. And the OH has a serious thing for coffee too.

A tasty pear

A tasty pear

The following is a combination of the two above, kind of a sponge cake but also kind of a fruit loaf. But square, and with brown sugar glaze on top.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

250g pumpkin puree, 200g self raising flour, 150g light brown sugar, 100g butter, 2 eggs, 1.5 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp instant coffee

Brown Sugar Crumb: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup plain flour, 4 tbsp melted butter (I know I normally hate cups but this is a ratio thing and not weight so is not sooo important)

Brown Sugar Glaze: 100g brown sugar, 50g granulated sugar, 1 tsp ground ginger, 75ml extra thick double cream

First make the pumpkin puree. This is best done in large batches and can be frozen or used in other things such as pasta sauces, or gnocchi. Roast the pumpkin in large slices until the flesh is soft enough to mash with a fork. Using a food processor, blend the pumpkin until very smooth, adding a little water if necessary to keep it moist. Weigh out 300g for this recipe, then pop the rest in the fridge for later, or label and freeze.

Line a brownie pan with greaseproof and lightly grease with butter. Heat the oven to 180 C. Cream 100g butter with 150g of light brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Don’t worry if it splits, it’ll come together again when the flour is added. Fold in the flour and baking powder, incorporating plenty of air. Mix the instant coffee into the pumpkin puree then fold into the cake batter until just combined. Pour mix into the brownie pan.

To make the brown sugar crumb mix together 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour and melted butter. Use fingers to sprinkle over the top of the batter in the pan.

Try to wait until its cooked before you eat it huh?!

Try to wait until its cooked before you eat it huh?!

Bake at 180 C for approximately 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

For the glaze, combine the other 100g brown sugar, 50g granulated sugar, 1 tsp all spice, and the double cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.

When cake is finished baking, poke holes in the top with a skewer. Pour the glaze over the cake, making sure to cover it all. Serve it warm with vanilla ice cream and remember to thank me for your sugar coma when you can’t get to the gym 🙂

Sticky Ginger Loaf Cake

When I was at school I claimed to be allergic to gingerbread men…Just gingerbread men, not gluten or ginger or eggs or dairy but the baked good itself. Daft.

Later in life, I attempted to make gingerbread men for a fundraiser for children’s charities in Mongolia. I got relegated to dipping the truffles in chocolate after so many failed attempts I was threatening our budget. I forgot the sugar, I forgot the men (as in I left them on the front line and they all died in the fiery furnace that was ‘Nam, I mean, the oven…dun dun duuuhhhh!!), I added too much baking soda and they turned into gingerbread ‘Michelin’ men. I failed.

So when the OH suggested I make him some gingerbread I was a little nervous. Thank goodness, he actually meant a ginger loaf, like the McVities Jamaican Ginger Cake or the old fashioned English sticky ginger loaf. Phew!! Cake I can do. I will not get dumped for spending our whole week’s food budget on failed men…

Not a gingerbread man...

Not a gingerbread man…

I loaf making loaves…sorry. Here is a recent experiment that turned out to be an awesome loaf, and I regularly make banana bread as it is delicious, and wholesome, for breakfast (elevenses, afternoon tea, supper, midnight snacks…). This one would even make a good Christmas gift in a hamper as the longer you leave it the stickier it gets and it’ll last for ages if its sealed in a tin after opening. That or you could fill the house with the smell of spicey ginger goodness before everyone turns up on Christmas Eve for sherry and mince-pies, it would make a rather nice addition to the mince-pies I think.

Sticky Ginger Loaf Cake

225 g self raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 4 tsp ground ginger, 55g butter, 55g soft brown sugar, 115 ml black treacle, 115 ml golden syrup, 2 eggs beaten and mixed with milk to make 1/2 pint, pinch salt
Sticky, gooey sweetness

Sticky, gooey sweetness

Preheat oven to 180 C and grease then line a 2lb loaf tin. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, over a saucepan of boiling water, melt the butter with the sugar, treacle and golden syrup. Fold the melted mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring well to combine and then fold in the egg and milk mix. Pour into the tin and bake for about 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when poked in the middle. Eat warm with spread with butter or drowned in custard.

Pear and Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake

Named the official boat cake, I made this for elevenses one day and it all disappeared within five minutes of serving it. And to think, it was a complete trial and error made to try and make the most of some seriously squishy pears. The recipe is loosely based on my Nanny J’s banana bread recipe, but with a few changes based on the extra juicy nature of pears compared to the not so juicy banana. Excellent with a cup of tea, this cake is best served still warm from the oven (scorching hot if you just can’t wait that long!!).

A tasty pear

A tasty pear

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Sailing with the Gael

Sooo, the last few weeks have been a little manic. My season with the boat in France came to a close as the weather cooled and the boat shut down for the winter. I thought, lovely, two weeks off to enjoy some autumness in the UK before heading to Malta at the end of October. Oh no! After just two days I got a call from the OH to say I was welcome to join his boat for the last three weeks of their season, taking her from Cagliari down to Malta and then cruising about a bit for two weeks. And so my boaty cooking got an extension, with some lovely new guests to cook for, and two boys that appreciate not having to eat crisp wraps (ahem…) because they’re too busy to cook!

This post is especially for those lovely guests, with a collection of recipes that were requested after they were enjoyed on board. To start we have the hearty cous cous salad, then a big, beefy lasagne and the perfect plum crumble.

Hearty, family food - for families with heart

Hearty, family food – for families with heart

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Possibly the Best Pudding in the World

Oh, ho, ho you are in for a treat today! This is one of the most amazing puddings, EVER!! It is rich, and decadent and oh so moreish. It is warming in two different ways even, physically AND mentally, perfect for toasting your insides after a chilly winter walk and faintly reminiscent of childhood puds. It is so easy. And tasty. I’m hungry, can you tell? Everyone loves a classic, and this one has a ridiculously tasty twist. Beautiful crispy edges and a squidgey custardy middle, can you guess what it is yet?


The best pud EVER

The best pud EVER

White Chocolate and Whisky Croissant Pudding (oh yes my friends, a real treat!)

8 croissants, 125g white chocolate, 4 eggs, 450ml double cream, 250ml milk, 50ml whisky (or dark rum is nice too), vanilla pod, sugar, rhubarb jam (or apricot or marmalade).

Slice the croissants in half and lay them overlapping, cut side down in an oven proof serving dish. Scatter the chopped chocolate over them, making sure some bits get between the layers. In a bowl, mix the eggs, cream, milk and whisky with the vanilla seeds scraped from the pod, then pour the mix over the croissants. Sprinkle a little brown sugar over and a bit of grated chocolate. Bake for 30 minutes at 180 C. After 30 minutes, take it out and spoon the jam over the top, slice the vanilla pod in half and make a cross on the top (for prettiness). Bake in the oven for another 15 minutes or so.

This is a great one for slightly stale croissants, perhaps the multi pack was a bit ambitious for just one person…OR if you’re feeling adventurous, try it with brioche slices.

Luxury French Toast

The TV series Scrubs changed my life. It taught me about ‘Brinner’. Breakfast for dinner. Revolutionary.

My favourite brinner recipe is a very special eggy bread; a classic from the days of my Nanny J babysitting with a sweet and simple twist.

Peachy ;-)

Peachy 😉

Luxury French Toast

Two slices of french bread (cut diagonally for maximum soft surface area), two eggs, vanilla sugar (pop some vanilla pods that have had the seeds used into a jar of caster sugar to infuse), cinnamon, peaches, butter.

Beat the eggs with a tsp of sugar and a small amount of ground cinnamon on a plate with a lip to keep the egg in. Soak the french bread in the egg. Melt the butter in a frying pan, allowing it to foam and turn a nutty brown. Place slices of peach into the butter and sprinkle with more vanilla sugar so that they caramelise. Put the eggy bread into the pan as well, add a little more sugar and fry until golden brown on the outside. Serve the slices of peach on top of the eggy bread with a drizzle of cream and honey. It is supremely decadent to have this for breakfast, let alone dinner, so push the boat out and maybe even have a bit of ice-cream on the side – Brinning…Breakfast, Dinner, Pudding. Why not?