Thursday, 21 April 2016

Wild Garlic and Sundried Tomato Focaccia

This week I’ve been foraging, and I had a great find. A field full of wild garlic!! If you’ve never tried it (I hadn’t until my find), it has the aroma and taste of garlic, but isn’t at all overpowering. The strength is similar to what I taste when I buy garlic bread. To celebrate my find, I made this bread, a wild garlic and sundried tomato focaccia. The recipe is super simple if you have a stand mixer, and the end result tastes incredible (far better than any I've bought). It's great to eat on its own, or as a side dish to any Italian feast.

If you can’t find wild garlic, you can add a crushed clove of garlic and spinach leaves instead.

Makes one Focaccia

  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 sachet (14g) fast-action dried year
  • 6-8 sundried tomatoes, drained of oil and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp oil from the sundried tomatoes, plus extra for drizzling
  • 200ml warm water
  • Flakes of sea salt (fine or course)
  • Large handful of wild-garlic, chopped


1. Pour the flour into the bowl of your stand mixer. To one side of the bowl add the salt and the other side the yeast.

2. Pour in the olive oil and 50ml of the water. With the dough hook attached, begin mixing the dough on a slow speed – it will be very dry.

3. Slowly add the remaining water. Once all of the water has been added, turn the speed of the mixer up to about medium, and leave to knead for 6-8 minutes, or until when the dough looks stretchy and glossy.

4. Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for between 90 minutes and 2 hours, or until doubled in size (and when you press a finger on the dough, the dough lightly springs back). If your kitchen is cold (so the dough isn’t rising), place the bowl on another bowl/tray that has been filled with simmering water. However, make sure that the bowl does not touch the water!

5. Once doubled in size, lightly flour a work surface. Tip the dough out onto the surface, and lightly press down to flatten.

6. Add the chopped wild garlic and sundried tomato, and gently mix in by folding the bread dough over itself, pressing it down, then repeating just until the wild garlic and sundried tomato are distributed throughout the dough.

7. Shape the dough into a rectangle about 2cm thick, then place on a tray lined with baking parchment.  Cover the tray with a plastic bag or loosely with cling film. Leave to prove for one hour.

8. Preheat your oven to 220c/200c fan/ gas mark 7. Remove the cling film, and drizzle oil over the top of the focaccia. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt.

9. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden and firm to the touch.

10.This is best served warm. Lightly drizzle some oil over the focaccia before serving.
11. Enjoy!

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Monday, 11 April 2016

Churros and Chocolate Sauce


You may have seen Churros at your local foodie market. Certainly if you’ve ever been to Spain, you’ll have seen this amazing doughnut like fingers, which can be either sweet or savoury. When I’ve seen them in the UK, they’re coated in sugar and cinnamon and are amazing dipped in a warm dark chocolate sauce.

The churro is actually a whole lot simpler to make than the classic doughnut – there’s no yeast, so no proving if required, and the whole dish can be made in about an hour. This makes it a brilliant dish to whip up before you cuddle up on the sofa, or to make for your family after a busy day.

My chocolate sauce is very simple and uses cocoa powder as a base ingredient. I use this simply because quite often I don’t have chocolate in the house (I’ll admit…it’s because I’ll have eaten it all). In fact, the recipe only uses store cupboard ingredients!

My churros are a little squat compared to those seen made my professionals, but I think they taste just as good!

Makes around 24 churros


For the churros:
  • 350ml boiling water
  • 25g butter, melted
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Non-flavoured oil (such as sunflower), to half fill a saucepan

For the cinnamon sugar:
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g granulated sugar

For the chocolate sauce:
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 15g butter
  • 30g granulated or caster sugar
  • 50ml milk


1. Measure out the boiling water into a jug, and whisk in the melted butter, and vanilla extract.

2. Pour the plain flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, and briefly stir. Make a well in the middle of the bowl, and pour in the water/butter/vanilla mixture.

3. Beat the dough with a wooden spoon until smooth (this will only take a minute or so). Rest the dough for 15 minutes.

4. Make the chocolate sauce. Add the butter, sugar, cocoa and milk to a saucepan, and heat on a low heat. Stir continuously until the butter has melted, and the sauce is smooth.

5. Taste the sauce. If it is too bitter for your liking, add a little more sugar (or a touch of honey). If too sweet, add more cocoa. Heat the sauce until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, and then set aside. Warm up before serving.

6. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. The oil needs to get VERY hot, about 190C.

7. Place the dough in a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. I used a Wilton M1 nozzle, but you could use a smaller star nozzle if you want, or be creative and use a completely different nozzle entirely (if at all).

8. Holding the churro dough mixture vertically above the pan, pipe around 5-10cm of dough into the oil, then cut the churro from the rest of the dough using scissors. I found that if I piped too much dough the churro ended up bending – if anyone has tips about that, I’d love to hear them!

9. The oil will bubble up a lot, so be very careful. Cook the churros for around a minute (they will rise to the top of the oil), then carefully turn over and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute, until the churros are a light brown all over. Take out of the oil and place on kitchen towel to drain.

10. Repeat with the remaining dough. I found I could get around 5-6 churros in the pan at once.

11. Make the cinnamon sugar by mixing the cinnamon and granulated sugar in a large bowl.

12. Toss the warm churros in the cinnamon sugar.

13. Serve immediately with the warmed chocolate sauce (for dunking).

14. Enjoy!

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Monday, 4 April 2016

Sticky Toffee Cake

Here’s a cross between a sticky toffee pudding and a sweet cake. Two layers of date-y sponge, filled with a salted caramel toffee sauce-buttercream, and topped with more salted caramel feathered on top of the cake. It tastes amazing, and will keep for at least a week, provided it’s kept in an airtight tin. 
Also, apologies that the picture is a tad rubbish...I'm having some lighting issues in my house at the moment...I'll improve! If you have any good food photography tips, send me an email - :)

Makes one 20cm cake


For the cake:
  • 200g dates, chopped
  • 240ml weak black tea
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 25g dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g butter
  • 1 tbsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 160g self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt

For the salted toffee sauce:
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 30g butter
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 125ml double cream

For the buttercream:
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder

To finish:
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 50g walnuts or pecans, optional


1. Make the cake. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Grease a 20cm springform cake tin, and dust the base and sides with flour.

2. In a saucepan add the chopped dates, black tea and bicarbonate of soda. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes until softened. Use a blender to mix the dates/tea into a thick sauce. Leave to one side to cool.

3. Melt the 100g of butter for the cake.

4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, golden syrup and vanilla together for a few minutes, until all of the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has become pale and slightly thicker.

5. Whisk in the melted butter into the eggy mix. Fold the dry ingredients and pureed dates into the mix until no more flour speckles can be seen. Pour into the prepared cake tin.

6. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, and the cake is coming away from the sides of the tin.

7. Whilst the cake is baking, make the toffee sauce. Place all of the ingredients, except for the cream into a non-stick saucepan. Place on a low heat, and stir constantly until all of the butter has melted.

8. Add the double cream (the mix will bubble up a little at this stage), and heat for another 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

9. Once the cake is out of the oven, prick the surface with a fork and pour over around a third of the toffee sauce. Leave the cake to cool.

10. Whilst the cake is cooling, make the buttercream. Cream the butter and icing sugar together. If it is too stiff, add a few drops of hot water. Beat the buttercream until it is smooth but very thick. 

11. Split into two bowls. To the first bowl add 2 tbsp of the reserved toffee caramel sauce, and stir in. If it becomes too loose, add more icing sugar. You want the buttercream to be spreadable (similar to how margarine melts I guess). To the second bowl add a few more drops of boiling water to get the buttercream spreadable.

12. Assemble the cake. Carefully, using a serrated knife, slice the cake horizontally into two even layers.

13. Place the first half on a cake board. Drizzle over around 3 teaspoons of the remaining toffee sauce, then top with the buttercream that had the toffee sauce added to it. Level with a palette knife.

14. Add the second layer of cake. Drizzle over around 3tsp of the remaining toffee sauce, then top with the buttercream that had NO toffee sauce in it. Smooth on the top and down the sides of the cake.

15, Fill a piping bag with the last of the toffee sauce. Cut the bag around 1/2cm up, then pipe horizontal lines across the cake. With a toothpick (or the back of a spoon), run through the horizontal lines, back and forth, to create the feathered pattern.

16. To finish, make caramel by heating the granulated sugar in a saucepan. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn. You can swirl the pan, but don’t stir it! 

17. Prepare a tin with baking parchment. Once the caramel is a light brown sugar, take off the heat and add the nuts (optional). Swirl the caramel over the nuts, if using, then pour onto the tray. Leave to cool.

18. Decorate the cake with the caramel shards.

19. Enjoy!

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