Lemon Drizzle Loaf

I cook when I’m bored. I know, I know, I do it for a job but that doesn’t stop me getting in the galley and making something just for me when I get the chance. Not that anyone seems to mind…usually I end up producing my famous Stuff Your Face chocolate brownies, named such because they were gone within minutes…and I mean minutes of coming out the oven the first time.

What do you do when you're bored?

What do you do when you’re bored?

Yesterday I made a lemon drizzle loaf. I used to make this a lot as it works well with gluten free flour, as my mum is coeliac it was my go to tea cake for when she visited. Its been a while though (France is a little bit too far for a cuppa apparently…) so I had a quick look for recipes and for once I actually tried to follow it instead of tweaking it – didn’t work. The mix came up too thick so I ended up modifying it anyway. So here’s my recipe for a lemon drizzle cake that will knock your visitors little socks off next time you have guests for tea.

Lemon Drizzle Loaf

Loaf tin 26x10cm (greased and lined), two lemons, 120g butter, 120g caster/light brown sugar, 2 eggs, 50 ml milk, 220g plain flour, 2 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

Syrup: Half a cup lemon juice (add a bit of water if your lemons aren’t too juicy), 1/4 honey, 1/4 sugar

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly, folding in plenty of air. Mix in the milk, making sure everything is well combined. Grate the zest from the two lemons and stir into the mix, juice both the lemons but only add HALF to the mixture (reserve the rest to make the drizzling syrup later). Fold in the flour and bicarbonate soda. Empty into the lined loaf tin and bake at 180 C for 35 – 40 minutes, until the top is golden and a skewer comes out clean. While its cooking, make the syrup. Mix the lemon juice, honey and sugar together in a small saucepan and heat until the edges start to go a little brown and the sugar is completely dissolved. Once cooked, use the skewer to poke loads of holes in the top. Pour the syrup over the top, a little at a time making sure it all soaks into the holes. I’ve topped mine with some toasted almonds I had lying around from lunch and then added another couple of spoons of honey for good measure.

Enjoy with a nice cup of tea as an afternoon pick me up 🙂

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Lemon, Cranberry and Poppy Seed Scones

Eeerrrrmaaagosh! I have just eaten half the batch…My thought process behind batches of things is that if I eat all of them in one go then I remove the temptation that they offer and am therefore better off. It happened with a bag of toffees yesterday, reeces pieces too. I’m holding out that its the eating session that counts i.e. lunch, rather than the calories I’m consuming…yeh right. Off to the gym then.

And they're scone!

And they’re scone!

These are really tasty. And there’s not that much butter OR sugar so they’re kind of healthy. Unless you eat them all…in one go. They make a great breakfast, if they last that long, or an afternoon snack with a coat of butter.

The cranberries look like little hidden jewels and the poppy seeds give a delightful texture too. And the lemon, well. I love lemon for the irresistible citrus tang it gives in an other wise sweet dish.

Lemon, Cranberry and Poppy Seed Scones

225g S.R. flour, 55g butter, 55g sugar, 150ml milk, 100g dried cranberries (cut in half if they’re big), juice of one lemon, zest of one lemon, 3 tbsp poppy seeds

Mix the flour, sugar and poppy seeds together in a large bowl. Using your fingers, rub the cold butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs.

Rub a dub dub

Rub a dub dub

Stir in the lemon zest and cranberries. Mix the lemon juice with the milk, it’ll curdle slightly and give you a buttermilk (slightly sour) flavour. Combine the milk and other ingredients in the bowl with a metal knife until you have a sticky batter.

Ruby Scones

Ruby Scones

Using lots of flour turn out the dough onto a clean surface and knead gently for a minute or so. Do not over work it as you’ll end up with flat scones. Press into a flat circle of about 2cm thickness and slice into eight. Place each slice on a greased baking tray and put straight into the oven at 220 C for 10-12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

*recently I’ve been having issues with burnt bottoms and I have been reliably informed that its probably the pan I’m using. Make sure you buy the right pans for the job…I am currently trying to use a pizza pan for everything and its not working very well.

Nutella Cookies

The OH thinks I have a problem…I can’t stop looking at pictures of food. Every spare minute I have he catches me looking at Pinterest, other food blogs, my food blog.

That's right dear, I only made four...

That’s right dear, I only made four…

So, yeh. I’m obsessed, so shoot me (ah, please don’t! At least not until you’ve tried these cookies?)

Nutella, flour, egg

Nutella, flour, egg

Three ingredients. That’s it. And one of them is Nutella. The other two are flour and an egg. That is it! As with the salted caramels I made for Christmas, this recipe has been floating about on Pinterest for ages and as I had a spare like, two minutes I decided to give it a whirl.

Nutella Cookies

1 cup flour, 1 cup nutella, 1 egg (that really is it…)

Mix it all together in a bowl. Make little balls about an inch across and press them flat-ish on a lined baking sheet. Even if you turn your oven on before you start it won’t be hot before these are ready to go in. They are so easy peasy!! Bake at 180 C for 7-8 minutes. They burn quick, don’t let your oven get too hot or leave them too long. Eat all of them, before the OH gets home so as to hide the evidence of your addiction…or share them, up to you.

p.s. I’m trying it with peanut butter tomorrow!

 

 

Breakfast Muffins

“Do you know the muffin pan?”

“The muffin pan?”

“The MUFFIN PAN!!”

So yeh, apparently the Maltese don’t do muffins…I even went to specialist catering shops and all I got were blank stares. How do they not know about muffins?!

After months of searching I finally found a muffin pan in a ‘everything including the kitchen sink’ kinda shop owned by an English guy. He seemed a little freaked out about just how excited I was getting over finding a muffin pan. Weirdo. Me I mean, not him.

I can use my pirate cup cake cases – Arrrrghhh! – I mean, yay!

And this is what might go in them, or some of them at least:

Banana Bread Breakfast Muffins with rum ‘coz we’rrrrre pirates, aye?!

75g melted butter, 250g self-raising flour, 115g caster sugar, 2 large ripe bananas, 2 medium eggs, 75ml milk, 50ml dark rum (optional, replace with milk), 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda, pinch of salt, ½ tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp ground nutmeg

Melt the butter and allow to cool. Mash the bananas well with the rum. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large bowl, add caster sugar and stir through. With a fork, beat together the eggs, melted butter and milk in a second bowl. Add the mashed banana and stir through. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the wet mixture, stirring roughly with a fork (don’t over mix). Set paper cases into the moulds, or grease the moulds well with a little extra oil or butter and spoon in the mixture until almost full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffins come away from the side of the pan when touched. Rest the muffin tray on a wire rack for five minutes then remove the muffins and leave on the rack for another five minutes before serving.

Bananananananana!

Bananananananana!

AND, because I am still clinically obsessed with pumpkin and the OH really enjoyed the pumpkin coffee cake I made the other day here are some pumpkin muffins inspired by this recipe from How Sweet It Is, but altered a little as I can’t get some of the ingredients in Malta…

Pumpkin Muffins

100g wholewheat flour, 100g self raising (o.k., I ran out of wholewheat so chucked some S.R. in too…), 50g oats, 250g pumpkin puree, 100g brown sugar, 50ml full fat milk, 1 tbsp grated ginger, 4 tbsp brown butter, 2 eggs, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt

Brown Sugar Crumb: 25g brown sugar, 25g plain flour, 1 tbsp melted butter (mix until crumbs come together)

Brown Sugar Glaze: 50g brown sugar, 30ml thick cream (i.e. whipping cream), 1 tsp ground ginger (mix in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until sugar is dissolved)

Mix the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk the pumpkin, ginger, eggs, milk and butter together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together until just combined with a metal spoon. Using a tablespoon, fill cupcake cases (or 3/4 fill muffin cases) with the batter. Top with the brown sugar crumb and bake for 20 minutes at 180 C. While still hot, poke holes in the cakes with a skewer and drizzle with the brown sugar glaze.

Rum break, I mean TEA! Tea break...

Rum break, I mean TEA! Tea break…

Not exactly the healthiest breakfast on the block, but definitely a warming one for chilly winter mornings! Have with your coffee before braving the outdoors, or save until elevenses to warm yourself up with.

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 🙂

Salted Caramels

I have been seeing these on Pinterest for aaaagggeess. Everyone loves them – or at least thinks the pictures are cute.

Pin, pin, pin, pin, pin!!

Pin, pin, pin, pin, pin!!

All the recipes I have found online are in the American measurement of ‘cups’ of stuff. I have a total mental block when it comes to looking at recipes in cups…it is just so imprecise! Gah! So here’s a link to a cup to gram/oz conversion page.

I am actually going to give these a go (rather than simply repinning them endlessly…) for Christmas gifts this year to supplement my favourite pistachio macaroons and possibly some chocolates/truffles using my super dooper marble board.

Simple Salted Caramels

300g sugar, 85g golden syrup, 240ml heavy cream (whipping/double cream with more than 36% butterfat), 5 tbsp butter, rock salt, vanilla essense/extract. You will also need a candy thermometre.

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then brush the paper lightly with oil, allowing the paper to drape over 2 sides. In a deep saucepan, stir together 60ml water with the sugar and golden syrup and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown color. Don’t stir – just swirl the pan to mix. Watch carefully, as it will burn quickly at the end!

In the meantime, in another pan, bring the cream, butter, and 1 teaspoon of rock salt to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.

When the sugar mixture is a warm golden color, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mix to the sugar mix. Be careful! It will bubble up violently. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 120 C on a candy thermometer. Very carefully (it’s extremely hot!) pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.

Who am I kidding, none of these are making it til Christmas...

Who am I kidding, none of these are making it til Christmas…

When the caramels are cold, lift the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Sprinkle with rock salt, cut into strips and then into small rectangles. Wrap in twists of greaseproof paper.

 

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.