Thursday, 31 October 2013

Toffee Apples

It's the season of witches and magic, fire and toffee so we thought you might like to have a go at making your own toffee apples. 


450g Caster Sugar
100ml Warm Water
2tbsp Liquid Glucose
1tsp Distilled Vinegar
1/2tsp Red Food Colouring
8 Small Apples

8 Lolly Sticks

  • Place the sugar, warm water, glucose and vinegar into a large saucepan. Whilst stirring, gently heat through to dissolve the sugar, do not boil at this stage.
  • Once all the sugar has dissolved, raise the heat and bring the toffee to a good rolling boil. Once dissolved, add all the remaining ingredients, turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Using a sugar or toffee thermometer boil to 140°C / 270°F This can take 10 – 20 minutes.
  • If you do not have a sugar or toffee thermometer, take a jug of cold water and once the toffee has started to thicken, drop a little of the toffee into the cold water. The toffee should solidify as it hits the water and when you remove it from the water, the toffee threads should still be slightly flexible not brittle. If the toffee is soft continue to cook.
  • While the toffee is boiling, place the apples in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for a few minutes then remove from the water and rub the apples with a tea towel and dry thoroughly. The hot water and the rubbing will remove any waxy surface from the apple. You may have to do this in two batches. Once all dried, remove the apple stalks and push in a chopstick or lolly stick.
  • Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  • Once the toffee is ready, remove from the heat and leave to stand for five minutes to let the bubbles subside. It is important to wait until all the bubbling calms dowm to create a smooth surface on the apples. Once the bubble shave stopped, add the food colouring and stir gently.
  • Working quickly, tilt the pan slightly and dip the apples into the toffee and twizzle around to completely coat the apple. Lift from the pan and allow any excess toffee to drain away. Stand the toffee apple onto the baking sheet and leave to set, around 20 minutes, longer if possible. If the toffee starts to thicken and go hard, place back on the heat and warm through but do not boil. If you are not eating the toffee apples straight away, wrap in cellophane.

Sunday, 27 October 2013


Please, please, please do not be scared of making custard! The trick is to not let it boil, that's it. The taste is amazing and it really doesn't take long to do, better still I'm going to show you how to cheat.

2 eggs
200g Caster Sugar
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1tsp Cornflour
300ml Double Cream
500ml Milk

  • Mix the eggs, sugar, cornflour and vanilla together to form a paste
  • Whisk in the milk and cream
  • Place in microwave for 2mins on full power
  • Quickly whisk
  • Return to microwave for 30 seconds and whisk again, repeating until the custard begins thicken
  • Serve
You can always prepare this beforehand, the trick is to not bring it to the boil as this will curdle it. But that's not to say you can't reheat it, in fact you will find it thickens by being warmed and then left to stand and warmed again.

See I told you it was easy, no more standing over the pan waiting patiently waiting for it to thicken ;)

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Raspberry and Chocolate Sponge

This pudding is fab because it's quick, easy and sure to be a crowd pleaser

100g butter
100g sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
100g self raising flour
25g cocoa power 
100g raspberries

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale
Add the eggs one at a time mixing all the time
Add the vanilla extract
Fold in the flour and cocoa powder until well combined
Add the raspberries but hardly mix
Turn into a pudding basin or Pyrex bowl and cover in cling film
Microwave for 10 minutes on full power
Turn onto a plate and serve with custard or cream

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Last of the Summer Pudding

As the nights start to draw in and the temperature drops we think it's time for one last fling with summer. Gather those berries and throw together a summer pudding. Goes down a treat every time!

500g Raspberries
300g Strawberries
250g Blackberries
100g Redcurrants
but in fairness it doesn't matter mix it up, use frozen if you like!
175g Caster Sugar
7 slices of bread

Wash fruit – keep strawberries separate. 
Put sugar and 3 tbsp water into a large pan. Gently heat until sugar dissolves – stir a few times. 
Bring to a boil for 1 min, then tip in the fruit (not strawberries). 
Cook for 3 mins over a low heat, stirring 2-3 times. The fruit will be softened, mostly intact and surrounded by dark red juice. Put a sieve over a bowl and tip in the fruit and juice.

Line the 1.25-litre basin with cling film as this will help you to turn out the pudding. Overlap two pieces in the middle of the bowl as it’s easier than trying to get one sheet to stick to all of the curves. Let the edges overhang by about 15cm. 
Cut the crusts off the bread. Cut 4 pieces of bread in half, a little on an angle, to give 2 lopsided rectangles per piece. Cut 2 slices into 4 triangles each and leave the final piece whole.

Dip the whole piece of bread into the juice for a few secs just to coat. 
Push this into the bottom of the basin. 
Dip the wonky rectangular pieces one at a time and press around the basin’s sides so that they fit together neatly, alternately placing wide and narrow ends up. 
If you can’t quite fit the last piece of bread in it doesn’t matter, just trim into a triangle, dip in juice and slot in. Now spoon in the softened fruit, adding the strawberries here and there as you go.
Dip the bread triangles in juice and place on top – trim off overhang with scissors. 
Keep leftover juice for later. 
Bring cling film up and loosely seal. Put a side plate on top and weight down with cans. 
Chill for 6 hrs or overnight. 
To serve, open out cling film then put a serving plate upside-down on top and flip over. serve with leftover juice, any extra berries and cream.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Apple and Blackberry Buns

These are delicious warm and a perfect use for seasonal fruit! We have made them with apple and blackberries but you really can fill them with anything you like.

For Dough
500g Strong White Flour

300ml Warm Milk
1 Egg
1tsp Sugar
7g Fast Acting Yeast
1tsp Salt

For Filling
1 Handful of Blackberries
2 Sharp Eating Apples peeled and diced (we like granny smiths or pink ladies for this)
2tsp Cinnamon
100g Demerara Sugar

Start by making the dough, this is easiest in a food mixer with a dough hook attached. However by hand is fine, just get stuck in!

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients making sure that the yeast and salt do not touch initially
  2. Add the egg 
  3. Add the milk slowly (you may not need all of this) mixing all the time. You should end up with a soft dough that's not too sticky
  4. Kneed for 10 minutes
  5. Cover and leave to rise for an hour or until it has doubled in size
  6. Knock back the dough and roll into a rectangle about 1cm thick
  7. Sprinkle evenly with sugar and cinnamon 
  8. Spread fruit all over
  9. Roll tightly up into a long roll
  10. Cut into approx. 10 slices
  11. Place on to a baking tray with a slight gap between to allow room to grow
  12. Heat oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan/gas 6
  13. Cover with a towel and leave for half an hour to rise
  14. Bake for 20-25 minutes
  15. Enjoy!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Plum Cake

This is possibly one of the simplest cakes but gorgeous and moreish.


150g Caster Sugar + 1tbs to sprinkle at end
150g Self Raising Flour
150g Butter
3 Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Extract
6 Plums halved and stone removed

Heat oven to 200C/180ºC fan/gas 6

  1. Grease a 8" cake pan
  2. Mix everything together except the plums until well combined
  3. Turn mixture into pan and level out
  4. Dot plums throughout the mixture and sprinkle with remaining sugar
  5. Bake for 20-25 mins
  6. Can be served warm or cold but don't forget the custard!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Custard Tart

Our family love custard, so while our hens or laying so prolifically I thought I would use the opportunity to make our favourite treat. Don't be put off by Great British Bake Off, it's not as hard as it looks. Shortcrust pastry is easy to make too but let's leave that for another day ;)

500g pack shortcrust pastry
1 whole nutmeg, for grating
4 large eggs
140g golden caster sugar
300ml double cream
300ml whole milk
1tsp vanilla extract 

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. 

  1. Roll the pastry out to about 1cm thick, then grate over a dusting of nutmeg using a fine grater. 
  2. Fold the dough in half, then roll out again, to the thickness of 2 x £1 coins and large enough to line a 20cm loose-bottomed sandwich tin with some overhang. 
  3. Press the pastry into the tin (leaving the excess draped over the sides), put onto a baking sheet and chill for 10 mins. 
  4. Line the pastry with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for 20 mins, then remove beans and paper. 
  5. Bake for another 15 mins until golden and sandy all over. 
  6. Trim the edges of the tart with a sharp serrated knife. 
  7. Turn oven down to 150C/130C fan/ gas 2. 
  8. Whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. 
  9. Put the cream, milk, vanilla extract and eggs into a jug and microwave in 30 second bursts whisking in-between. Overheating will cause scrambled eggs, be warned! You want this to come to just below boiling point.
  10. Put the baking sheet onto the pulled-out oven rack, then pour in the custard, right to the top. You may not need every last drop. 
  11. Grate over a nice layer of nutmeg, then slide gently back into the oven and bake for 1 hour.
  12. When it’s ready, the tart should be set and pale golden on the top, and have just the merest tremor in the centre when you jiggle the tray. 
  13. Cool completely, then serve in slices.