Monday, 29 February 2016

Poppy Seed Naan Breads

Have you ever wanted to make your own Indian feast? I’m no spice expert but I have a pretty solid recipe to make the perfect naan bread. This recipe makes 8 good sized naans – I use a frying pan to cook the naans so you’re a little limited as to how big the naan can be – if you want massive family-size naan breads, you could use something like a paella pan :D If you do that, please send me a picture! That’d be amazing.

Makes 8 naan breads

  • 1 sachet (7g) fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 150ml warm water
  • 300g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75g natural full-fat yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted, plus extra to brush over
  • 20g poppy seeds


1. In a small bowl, pour in the yeast. Activate the yeast by adding the sugar and two tablespoons of the warm water. Whisk to dissolve the sugar/yeast and leave until bubbles begin to form on the top of the mixture. This should take about 5-10 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

2. Whisk the yoghurt into the yeast mixture.

3. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the yoghurt/yeast mixture and melted butter. Use a spoon to bring the flour into the well, then use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball.

4. Lightly dust a surface with flour, and knead the dough for 5-8 minutes. It will go from being very rough to smooth and glossy.

5. Lightly oil  a large bowl, and place your dough in. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for 90 minutes – 2 hours. My kitchen gets very cold, so if yours does too, here’s a tip – place the bowl on top of a tin/tray containing boiling water. However DO NOT let the bowl touch the water!

6. Once the dough has at least doubled in size, dust your work surface with flour and tip the dough out. You should see lots of air pockets in the dough. Knock out the air from the dough, by pressing the dough out into a rough rectangle shape.

7. Split the dough into eight pieces. Start heating your frying pan (it needs to get very hot) – do not oil the pan.

8. Take your first eighth of dough. Flour a rolling pin, then roll the dough out to a teardrop shape (or as close as you can manage – mine never end up perfect!). After a few rolls with the rolling pin, turn the naan 90 degrees to make sure it hasn’t stuck to your surface. Roll the dough out until it is about 1/2 mm thick.

9. Carefully transfer to your pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side – you will see big bubbles forming in the dough. Turn the naan bread over and cook for another 3 minutes until the first side has large brown patches. Transfer to a wire rack.

10. Repeat with the other dough balls.

11. When ready to serve, heat your oven to 200c/180c fan/gas mark 6. Brush the top of the naan breads with melted butter and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Place in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until they are warm.

12. Enjoy! 

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Monday, 22 February 2016

Vanilla Cupcakes and White Chocolate Ganache Roses

I adore buttercream and have been using it for a while to pipe onto cakes/cupcakes. However, I recently got asked to make cupcakes for a hen party, and was told that the bride hated buttercream. I needed to work out a delicious frosting that would look beautiful on a cupcake. After many attempts I found the fool proof recipe for a pipeable white chocolate ganache. The flavour is amazingly rich and chocolatey, it has a truffle-like texture, and the ganache pipes like a dream! It's even simpler to pipe than buttercream in some regards, as the consistency is always perfect (unlike buttercream, which can easily be too firm or loose).

I used a 2D nozzle to pipe roses on my vanilla cupcakes. Piping roses is a doddle, so don’t be scared.

This is a 2D nozzle

If you want to make more/less cupcakes, there are some really easy ratios I use when making both the cupcakes and ganache* – the recipe below makes 12 cupcakes. 
These fill bun cases rather than muffin cases! If you want the bigger cupcakes, double the recipe.

Bun cases (left) vs muffin cases (right)

Makes 12 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:
  • 150g margarine (such as Stork)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

For the ganache:
  • 200g white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 122g double cream


1. Make the ganache. In a saucepan heat the double cream until bubbles are beginning to form around the edges of the pan.

2. Tip the white chocolate (cut into small chunks) into the pan. Swirl the pan so that the chocolate is completely coated, then cover with a lid. Leave for 5 minutes.

3. Take the lid off the pan, and stir the ganache until all of the chocolate has melted and incorporated with the double cream. Pour into a bowl, cover with Clingfilm and refrigerate for at least one hour.

4. Make the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c/gas mark 4. Place bun cases in a bun/muffin tray.

5. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour and vanilla, and quickly fold in, until no more flour can be seen.

6. Place spoonful’s of mixture into the bun cases – try to fill them to about halfway.

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until springy to the touch, and a skewer inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.

8. Remove cupcakes from the tray onto a wire rack, and leave to cool.

9. Check on the ganache. When the bowl is tilted, no ganache should move (i.e. it has set). If it has reached this stage, remove from the fridge and leave at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Not doing this makes the ganache very prone to splitting.

10. Use an electric whisk to beat the ganache into soft peaks. This will only take a few minutes.

11. If you want to two tone your cupcakes, place 2-3 tablespoons of the whipped ganache into a separate bowl. Add a small amount of food colouring (I use concentrated food gels to avoid changing the consistency of the ganache), and stir in until the colour is even throughout.

12. Prepare your piping bag. Put a 2D nozzle into the bottom of the piping bag. Up one side of the inside of the bag, stripe the coloured ganache. Go all the way from the piping nozzle to about halfway up the bag.

13. Pour in the non-coloured ganache – if you look at the bag, the majority will be white with one big line of the chosen colour. Cut the end off of the piping bag, so that the piping nozzle sticks through.

14. Starting at the cente of the cupcake, pipe a dot, and then move out in a spiral around the cupcake top. This creates the beautiful two-toned rose.

15. Decorate your cupcakes with fondant decorations, such as hearts and flowers. A sprinkle of edible glitter makes the cupcakes look even more special.

16. Enjoy!

*In terms of ratios for the cake, use 50g margarine, 50g sugar, 50g self-raising flour and 1 egg for every 4 cupcakes. For the frosting, 100g of white chocolate requires 66g of double cream.  

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Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The Perfect Cheese Accompaniment - Poppy Seed Crackers

Here’s a great recipe to have with some cheese/chutneys. Crackers aren’t hard to make, and they taste so much better than the store-bought versions. I’ve filled these with poppy seeds, but you could use sesame seeds, nuts, or even dried fruit!

My boyfriend loves cheese so in dedication of him,  I’ve made these heart shaped. You can make them whatever shape you fancy.

Makes around 15 crackers (depending on how large you want them)

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g poppy seeds
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 100ml cold water
  • 60g softened butter


1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Line the base of two large baking trays with baking parchment.

2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, poppy seeds, salt and pepper.

3. Cut the butter into chunks and rub into the mixture. Rubbing means to use the tips of your fingers to press the butter into the flour. Keep rubbing the butter in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the cold water. Use your hands to bring the mixture together. Be careful not to over-work it. If the dough isn't coming together, add a little more cold water.

5. Take half of the dough and place between two sheets of cling film. Roll out to 1-2mm thick. Cut out whatever shapes you like, and place onto a baking tray. Place the scraps into a ball and re-roll out. Cut out more crackers.

6. Repeat with the other half of the cracker mixture. Place the baking trays in the fridge for 10-20 minutes.

7. Prick the tops of the crackers all over with a fork and bake for 18-20 minutes. The crackers will feel crisp to the touch, and have a very light golden tinge. Place the crackers on a wire rack to cool.

8. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Wagon Wheels

I remember wagon wheels fondly from my childhood - two biscuit layers, sandwiched with jam and marshmallow - and of course smothered in chocolate. This weekend I really wanted to make my own, and devised this recipe - they're rich but delicious, and well worth the mess caused in the later stages of the creation.

When I created the wagon wheels the first time, I didn't have access to an electric whisk, meaning even after whisking for 15 minutes, my marshmallow was still a little thin...This meant that there was only a thin (but amazing) layer of marshmallow in the I'd very highly recommend using an electric whisk or stand mixer (with the whisk attachment)!

I also made my own quick blueberry jam - you can use any frozen fruits you like and it only takes 10 minutes to cook it. Better yet, it (nor the marshmallow) need a sugar thermometer :)

I've covered the wheels non-traditionally with dark chocolate as I know the filling is very sweet - if you're making these for children you can switch this for milk or even white chocolate.

Makes 18 wagon wheels.


For the biscuits:
  • 120g softened butter or margarine (stork)
  • 200g light soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 450g plain flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
For the marshmallow:
  • 120ml water
  • 1 packet gelatin (7g)
  • 210g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
For the jam:
  • 350g frozen blueberries
  • 75g granulated sugar
  • 75ml water
To finish:
  • 500g dark chocolate
  • 100g white chocolate


1. Make the biscuits. Preheat your oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of a large baking tray.

2. Cream together the butter/margarine and the light brown sugar with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Creaming basically means pressing the butter against the side of the bowl/into the sugar, so that the sugar is incorporated into the fat.

3. Add the eggs, vanilla, plain flour and cinnamon, and beat until all of the flour has been incorporated.

4. Line your work surface with cling film. Place about a quarter of the dough onto the cling film, and cover with another layer of cling film.

5. Roll the dough out (between the two sheets of cling film) until it is about 0.5cm thick. Cut out nine 6cm circles (I used a jam jar lid as a cutter). Place onto the baking tray.

6. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until lightly golden. Take off the baking tray and leave to cool on a wire rack. Repeat the rolling/baking process until you have used up the dough - you should have made at least 36 biscuits.

7. Make the blueberry jam. Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until all of the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is syrupy.

8. Add the frozen blueberries and heat for 5-10 minutes - the blueberries will defrost and cook down, thickening the jam. Once thickened, leave to cool.
Blitz in a blender (this thickens the jam by breaking down the blueberries fully). Leave to one side.

9. Make the marshmallow. Pour 60ml of the water into a jug, then add the gelatine. Stir in briefly with a fork then leave for 5 minutes.

10. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 60ml water with the sugar in a large pan. Keep an eye on the pan to make sure the sugar doesn't burn. Swirl the pan occasionally until all of the sugar has melted.

11. Add the water/gelatin mixture (make sure to get all of the gelatine out of the jug), and whisk into the dissolved sugar/water. Keep heating the mixture - the mixture will become very bubbly. Once bubbling, heat for 5 minutes, then leave to cool for 15-20 minutes.

12. Add the vanilla and salt, then use an electric whisk/stand mixer to whisk the marshmallow. It will go from a see-through liquid to a white solid mass that resembles whisked double cream. This will take about 10 minutes. When the whisk is removed a peak of marshmallow should remain.

13. Assemble the biscuits. Place one biscuit on a surface. Add a heaped teaspoon of marshmallow and flatten down to just inside the border of the biscuit. Add a teaspoon of jam and repeat the spreading. Top with a biscuit layer. Repeat for all other biscuits.

14. Melt 200g dark chocolate in a microwave on high heat - stir every 30 seconds. Once melted, cover the top half of the wagon wheels with the chocolate, and leave to set with the chocolate side facing towards the air.

15. Melt the remaining 300g dark chocolate. Use this to cover the sides and base of the wagon wheels. This is a messy job but fun.

16. Melt the white chocolate like the dark chocolate, but check on the chocolate every 20 seconds as it is much more likely to burn. Place in a piping bag and snip off the end to enable piping of a thin stream of the chocolate.

19. Pipe lines of white chocolate over the tops of the wagon wheels. Leave to set.

20. Enjoy!

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Monday, 1 February 2016

"Sugar-Free" Bounty Chocolates

So, I’ve been trying to bake/make healthy sweets for a while, but a lot of my attempts have fallen flat…the problem with healthy food often seems to be that it lacks flavour, or at least is not as good as the full-fat version. This recipe however is an exception! Homemade dark chocolate covering a coconut filling – the only sweetening agents are a little maple syrup and honey – so no refined sugar! I know, strictly speaking that isn’t sugar-free, but it’s a catchier title than “refined sugar-free bounty chocolates”.

The only weird ingredients you need to get are coconut oil and cocoa butter – this is available on amazon – it’s about £15 for a kilogram, but that will last you a long time!! Plus, if you don’t want to use it all for chocolate, it’s brilliant in home-made soaps (so I’ve heard).

I used a chocolate mould from Lakeland -  Using a mould will make your life a lot easier! If you don’t have a chocolate mould, you can use cake pop moulds instead for nice hemispheres. Failing that, you can be super messy and dip blobs of the coconut into the chocolate…it will still taste awesome.

Makes 12 chocolates


For the chocolate:
  • 50g cocoa butter
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 20g maple syrup (adjust to your preference of sweetness), at room temperature

For the filling:
  • 40g dessicated coconut
  • 20g coconut oil
  • 10g runny honey

1. Make the chocolate. Put 25g of the cocoa butter into a large bowl and microwave on high power, until the cocoa butter has melted. This takes longer than chocolate does, but keep an eye on it and swirl the bowl every 30 seconds or so.

2. To the bowl add 20g cocoa powder and 10g maple syrup – beat until smooth. Leave the chocolate to one side until it is spreadable.

3. Place half-teaspoonfuls of chocolate in each hole of the mould. Using the back of a spoon, spread the chocolate up the sides. Once all the cavities have been filled, check there are no missing spots, then leave to set.

4. Make the filling. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave until liquid.

5. Add the coconut and honey and use your hands to bring the mixture together. Once all of the coconut has been incorporated and the chocolate has set.

6. Add teaspoons of the coconut filling to the moulds and press down lightly – try not to overfill them.

7. Make the other half of the chocolate – I make this in two batches as otherwise the second half would have set too hard to be used. Melt 25g cocoa butter as previously, then add 20g cocoa powder and 10g maple syrup. Pour over the tops of the chocolates , and scrape off any excess chocolate.

8. Leave at room temperature for at least 1 hour to set.

9. Very carefully pop the chocolates out of the mould.

10. Enjoy!

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