22 November 2014

Stir up Sunday Recipes

stir up sunday 

Stir up Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent and the traditional time to bake Christmas puddings, although it's also the time to bake Christmas cakes.

Urban Fruit and Great British Chefs challenged me to make a twist on a traditional Christmas cake. I decided what was needed was a rich spicy Christmas cake without the fuss.

My cake is based on one my mum has baked for us since I was little. I changed the recipe up with a darker sugar for a more caramelised flavour, more mixed spice and I used Urban Fruit. Cheeky Cherry, Blueberry and Blackcurrant and Smashing Strawberry instead of the raisins and sultanas my mum uses.  

So how is it faff free?

It's all made in a pot.

The butter is melted with the sugar, fruit and spices, then the flour and eggs are added, before it's poured into a loaf tin. Simple.

The cake sliced beautifully and was moist, spicy and delicious, especially spread with butter. I know, I know, bur I said it was simple, not low calorie.

And now a few more Stir up Sunday recipes:

To celebrate Stir Up Sunday, there's a twitter party this Sunday 23rd November between 2pm – 4pm where you can pose any question you like to @UrbanFruit on Twitter using the hashtag #StirUpSunday.  Throw in a question or two or just follow the chat. 

Get stirring!

In the mood for more than Christmas cake? Why not spend some time this week making some homemade advent calendars. You can find some inspiration here.

Disclosure: I write for Great British Chef and was asked to promote Stir up Sunday. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

19 November 2014

Melon, Spinach and Avocado Smoothie

melon and spinach smoothie 

I'm back on my smoothies.

Did I tell you I stopped making them for just over a week and came down with a chest infection? I was struggling with the dark winter days. I was so tired and mornings were a bit of a struggle so the smoothies were given the push. It was all I could do to get us out the door in the morning.

Big mistake!

I felt even worse for not having them and then the chest infection took root.

Well I'm still hating these dark dreich days, but now I'm back on my smoothies and definitely feeling better for it.

green smoothies

This one is a new combination for me. Honeydew melon, frozen spinach and avocado are the main ingredients. I had a wee taste of the avocado when I was making it. Well you have to don't you? It was difficult not to jut scoff the lot. I really do love avocado.

The smoothie itself is smooth and mellow. The flavour is fresh and creamy but there's no kick to it. You don't taste the spinach, but the melon and avocado do come through. A real pleasure to drink.

print recipe
Melon, Spinach and Avocado Smoothie
Melon, Spinach and Avocado Smoothie
A mellow and creamy cream smoothie with a hint of sweetness.
  • ½ honeydew melon
  • 1 cube frozen spinach
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 heaped tsp hemp protein powder
  • 200 ml apple juice
  • 200 ml water
1. Remove the flesh from the melon and avocado and add to a blender jug. 2. Add the frozen spinach, hemp powder, apple juice and water. 3. Whizz until smooth, 4. If you don't have a powerful blender like my Optimum 9400 defrost the spinach first as it could burn out the motor in your blender. 5. Pour, sit back and enjoy!
Total time: Yield: 4 - 6 glasses

16 November 2014

Vanilla Cupcakes with Clotted Cream and Raspberry Jam

I'm not keen on cupcakes as a rule. A plain little cake topped with frosting, I admit they look pretty, but I find them a bit boring. A filled cupcake? Oh yes, I'm there!

I made some vanilla cupcakes to show off some of my purchases from the new Tesco  Autumn/Winter homeware range. Isn't it pretty? Far too nice to resist.

  1. Round Wood Stripe Tray - £15  
  2. Double Dipped Navy & Light Blue Side Plate - £4 
  3. 4 Denim Napkins - £4
  4. Creative Tops Jam Jar Glass - £3 
My vanilla cupcakes are a basic recipe I use that's very like a Victoria sponge batter. The same quantities of butter, sugar and flour. Very easy to remember. The other great thing about this recipe is it only makes nine cupcakes, which I think is more than enough to share.

I scooped out some of the cupcake once they were completely cool and filled them with Tesco Finest Cornish Clotted Cream and Finest Raspberry Conserve. I popped the cupcake lid back on and topped them with pipped whipped vanilla cream and finished them with a single Scottish raspberry.

Boy they were fine.

The cupcakes are back in town!

print recipe
Vanilla Cupcakes with Clotted Cream and Raspberry Jam
Vanilla Cupcakes with Clotted Cream and Raspberry Jam
Classic vanilla cupcakes filled with clotted cream and raspberry jam, then topped with piped vanilla cream and a raspberry. Sheer indulgence.
  • 125g soft, butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 9 tsp clotted cream
  • 9 tsp raspberry jam
  • 300 ml whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or some vanilla bean seeds
1. Fill 9 holes of a 12 hole muffin tray with cupcake cases. 2. Blend the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. (I used an electric hand whisk) 3. Add the vanilla, milk, eggs and flour and mix until combined. Do not over mix as this will result in a heavy cupcake. 4. Spoon cake batter into each cupcake case until about two thirds full. 5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until a skewer inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean. 6. Leave to cook on a rack. 7. Once they are totally cool, scoop out some of each cake and fill each one with a tsp of clotted cream and jam, then add a lid back on. 8. Whip the cream with vanilla and pipe onto each cupcake. 9. Top each cupcake with a raspberry.10. Enjoy.
Total time: Yield: 9 filled cupcakes

Here are a few more cupcakes for you to enjoy:

Chocolate Cupcakes - Fab Food 4 All, Roasted Beetroot and Raw Cacoa Nib Cupcakes - Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary, Banana Cupcake with Peanut Butter Frosting - Taming Twins, Beetroot and Bitter Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramelised Hazelnuts - Franglais Kitchen, Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcakes - Maison Cupcake & Toffee Apple Cupcakes - Feeding Boys and a Firefighter.


Disclosure: I developed this recipe for Tesco. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.