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Tag Archives: Baking

  • Gwyneth Paltrow's Pear and Lemon Verbena

    I was flicking through my copy of Gwyneth Paltrow’s book It’s All Good trying to find some healthy smoothie recipes for my last few weeks of pregnancy and came across another scrummy drink idea using some of our lemon verbena. I thought I would share it with you as another use for our herb!

    Pear and Lemon Verbena

    • 3 cups of water

    • ½ cup raw honey

    • 2 ½ pounds pears (about 6 pears), stemmed and seeded and cut into large pieces

    • 1 sprig of leafy lemon verbena

    • Juice of 2 lemons

    Combine the water, honey, pears and lemon verbena in a large pot set over a high heat. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, remove and discard the lemon verbena, and cover the pot. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Puree the mixture in a powerful blender in batches and pass the puree through a fine-mesh strainer or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Discard the contents of the strainer and whisk the lemon juice into the agua fresca. Serve immediately over ice.

    She also says you can add more honey if you would like it sweeter!

    Melissa, November 2014

  • Halloween Treats - Chocolate Bat Biscuits

    I was searching for some fun Halloween recipes and came across these fantastic chocolate bat biscuits on the BBC Good Food website which would look fab on the side of your mug of tea this Halloween!

    Quick and easy to make they are ideal to do with kids this half term!


    • 125g butter, softened

    • 85g icing sugar

    • 1 large egg yolk

    • 1 tsp vanilla extract

    • 1 tsp milk

    • 175g plain flour, plus extra for rolling

    • 1 tsp fine espresso-style powder coffee

    • 50g cocoa powder

    • ¼ tsp salt

    To decorate:

    • 100g bar dark or milk chocolate

    • Chocolate hundreds and thousands

    • Coloured writing icing (or make your own with 100g icing sugar, 2-4 tsp water and some colouring)


    Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy and pale, then beat in the yolk, the vanilla and milk. Sift the flour, coffee, cocoa and salt into the bowl, then mix together to make a soft dough. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap and chill for 15 mins.

    Dust the dough all over with a little flour, then roll it between two large sheets of baking parchment, to the thickness of a £1 coin. Remove the top layer of the paper, stamp shapes with an 8cm bat (or other) cutter, and carefully lift to the lined sheets using a palette knife. Re-roll the trimmings. Cut a 1.5cm x 5mm notch at the base of each bat’s body. This is about right to sit the bats on thick tumblers; if your glasses are finer-edged, make the notches thinner so that the bats stay put. Bake for 10 mins or until the biscuits feel sandy and smell rich and chocolatey. Cool on the sheets for 5 mins, then lift the cookies onto a wire rack and cool completely.

    To decorate, melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. One biscuit at a time, brush chocolate over the bat ears and wings with a small paintbrush, then cover with chocolate sprinkles. Tap off the excess. Pipe faces and fangs onto your bats, then leave to dry. Keep in an airtight container for up to a week.


    (Image courtesy of BBC Good Food Recipes)

    Melissa, October, 2014

  • Wholemeal Honeyed Hazelnut & Apricot Loaf

    To get into the Great British Bake Off mood for this evening and because I was inspired by bread week last week I thought I would share with you the recipe Rob and I tried for the first time this weekend.  It is from the Great British Bake Off book and given that bread is not something I have ever tried before it turned out rather fine! I have to say though that Rob did most of the hard work and I am enjoying eating it!

    We didn’t have apricots or hazelnuts in the flat so we changed ours to raisins and pecans and it still seemed to work well.

    Wholemeal Honeyed Hazelnut and Apricot Loaf


    • 500g stoneground wholemeal flour
    • 7g dried yeast
    • 5g salt
    • 100g ready to eat dried apricots, chopped
    • 70g hazelnuts, toasted and halved
    • 300ml milk, lukewarm
    • 1 tbsp honey


    1. Mix the flour with the yeast, apricots, hazelnuts and 5 grams of salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre.
    I have to say is particularly delicious toasted with some butter and a mug of 
    1. Pour the milk and honey into the well, then gradually work the flour into the milk to make a soft but not sticky dough. If the dough is dry and difficult to work, add a little extra milk, if the dough feels sticky and won’t hold its shape, work in a little more flour.
    I have to say is particularly delicious toasted with some butter and a mug of 
    1. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead thoroughly for 10 minutes until it feels very elastic (the dough can also be mixed and kneaded in a large food mixer – use the dough hook, and low speed, knead for 5 minutes only).
    I have to say is particularly delicious toasted with some butter and a mug of 
    1. Return the dough to the bowl, cover tightly or slip the bowl into a large plastic bag.
    I have to say is particularly delicious toasted with some butter and a mug of 
    1. Leave in a warm spot until doubled in size – about an hour.
    I have to say is particularly delicious toasted with some butter and a mug of 
    1. Punch down the dough to deflate then divide into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a sausage shape about 40cm long. Plait the 3 strands together, tuck the ends under neatly then transfer the plait to a lightly greased baking tray. Slip the tray into a large plastic bag and leave to rise until almost doubled in size, about 40 to 60 minutes – do not let the loaf get too big as it will lose definition. Meanwhile heat the oven to 200C/fan180C/ gas 6.
    I have to say is particularly delicious toasted with some butter and a mug of 
    1. Bake the loaf for about 30 minutes, until an even golden brown, and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack. Store in a cool bread bin. Best eaten within 4 days or toasted.
    I have to say is particularly delicious toasted with some butter and a mug of

    I have to say is particularly delicious toasted with some butter and a mug of black tea!

    (As you can see I have eaten half the loaf already!)

    Melissa, August 2014

  • Mmmm..... cheesecake!

    I was kindly given the Peyton and Byrne ‘British Baking’ book along with some fantastic new baking tools for my Birthday last year from Rob’s sister and I am really enjoying the ease of the recipes and I have not had any complaints from the goodies produced yet!

    The book is dedicated to British baking and the recipes take me back to fond childhood memories I have of baking with my Mum at the weekends and Sunday afternoon treats. From jam roly poly, to cupcakes and scones this book really is a must have for any kitchen.

    This weekend I needed a quick and simple desert to go with Sunday lunch and flicked through the pages and came across a baked vanilla cheesecake. Considering our guests were my brother, sister-in-law and their kids and one of his favourite deserts is cheesecake, I knew I was on to a winner.

    The preparation was quick and simple, with few ingredients and only needing an hour in the oven it was just what I needed. It could bake in the oven whilst I got ready for an evening out and I wouldn’t need to worry about rushing around the next morning before our guests arrived. When it came out the oven I was pleasantly surprised, it looked divine and Rob even said it would look good in a bakery window – high praise indeed.

    I certainly heard no complaints at Sunday lunch and using the seeds from a vanilla pod gives it a professional look and the vanilla coupled with the lemon juice gives a fuller flavour, whilst the Greek yoghurt gives it a thick consistency. What is even better is that there is still plenty left for Rob and I to enjoy this week. (I’ve even brought some into the office for Tamsin to try). I am looking forward to baking many more of the recipes in the book, especially the banana and butterscotch pudding!


    • 250 g digestive biscuits

    • 90 g unsalted butter

    • 750 g soft cream cheese

    • 125 g caster sugar

    • seeds from 1 vanilla pod

    • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

    • 100 g Greek yoghurt

    • 3 large eggs


    • Preheat oven to 170°C fan (190°C normal)

    • Crush the biscuits in a processor or bash with a rolling pin until fairly fine. Transfer to a bowl

    • Melt the butter, add to the crumbs and mix well. Then evenly press the mixture into a 20cm springform cake tin and refrigerate whilst you make the filling

    • Beat the cream cheese with the sugar, vanilla seeds and lemon juice until well combined

    • Mix in the yoghurt and then the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Then spoon this mixture on top of the cake base, evenly spreading out to the corners. Cook in the oven for 50-60 mins until set

    • Remove from the oven and set the cake aside to cool for about 10 mins. Then run a small sharp knife around the edges and unbind from the tin. When completely cool, slice and serve with a dollop of cream or ice-cream

    Tip – it tastes great the next day as a mid-afternoon snack with a cup or Luponde Black Tea.

    Baked Vanilla Cheesecake

    Melissa, May 2013

  • Baking!

    Last year I discovered The Great British Bake Off on the BBC. I stumbled across the programme whilst channel hopping one Tuesday evening and little did I know that this was going to have such an impact on my television viewing. It became my ‘guilty pleasure’. Whilst Rob would be out at five a side football every Tuesday evening, I would come home from the gym and sit with my dinner in front of the best show I had seen for a long time.

    I then decided that I would attempt to bake. Having loved baking as a child (I think mainly because baking meant that I could eat cake mix and lick the bowl) I thought that obviously I would instantly be an amazing baker. This is where I was wrong. I should mention here that I am a creature of structure and organisation and don’t particularly like mess, so you can imagine the surprise on Rob’s face when on returning home from football he found me covered in flour and surrounded by chaos. The result of my cooking ended in very poor looking iced buns.

    I pretty swiftly gave up on the baking (not the show though) until by surprise Rob gave me The Great British Bake Off recipe book. I have to say it did sit on the shelves for a good 3 months before I decided I should even attempt anything but now I have not looked back. I am a baking connoisseur! Each week or every time we have guests over (and by guests, all it takes is one more than Rob and me in the flat) I am baking for their arrival. I started small with cookies, banana and almond loaf and chocolate chilli cake before moving on to slightly more tricky things such as baked cheesecake, pistachio and carrot tray bake and mud pie.

    Loaf Cake Image

    Since starting my baking journey the next series of The Great British Bake Off began again I was hooked. Rob no longer has football on a Tuesday and he too has jumped on the bandwagon! He was even inspired to bake soda bread which was delicious. From this series I have decided to give pastry a go and possibly try some crème caramel! I will of course let you all know how I get on.

    From my experiments so far I have to say that the chocolate chilli cake makes the perfect tea time treat alongside our organic finest orthodox black tea and a cup of our organic peppermint infusion will certainly aid your digestion after a hearty slice of mud pie!

    With my birthday and Christmas over I have new baking tools and books to add to my collection and more baking is taking place than ever. 2013 is going to be a year of baking for me, although I am not sure that my waistline is going to be pleased!


    Jubilee Cake Image


    Apple Cake Image

    Melissa, January 2013

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