Tag Archives: baking

Week 7: 23rd February – Raspberry Buttermilk Sponge

I got back to baking basics this weekend with a sure fire crowd pleaser from my baking repertoire. We were visiting my grandparents’ house on Sunday for my Nanny’s birthday so I set my alarm to get up extra early and bake them a fresh raspberry sponge. I’ve made this cake a few times before and it always turns out deliciously moist and fluffy so I thought it would be a good way to get back on the horse after a couple of bake-free weeks.

I got the recipe originally from the GBBO Everyday book but have since adapted it for raspberries and it’s sometimes difficult to find good quality British blackberries in the supermarket and raspberries have a similar effect.

nanny cake

150g fresh blackberries/raspberries
125g softened butter
175g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium eggs (free range of course!)
100ml buttermilk
200g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar

Preheat to 180 degrees.

If you’re always ill prepared like me, you’ll almost always have a big rock of butter straight from the fridge which is less than ideal when a recipe asks from softened… but if you cut off chunks to your desired weight and place them in a little bowl, microwave for 10 seconds (absolutely not a second more!) and then give a stir, then pop in for another 10 seconds and stir again. This should give perfect ‘softened butter’ consistency without melting it down to an oil slick.

Scrape this into a big mixing bowl (preferably with a silicone spatula if you have one – if you don’t have one you should buy one! Mine is from Cath Kidston, pic below) and using an electric hand mixer, combine with the caster sugar for a couple of minutes until fluffy. If you don’t have an electric mixer do not fear, just beat using brute strength!


Beat your eggs in a mugs or a bowl and add half to the mixture along with your vanilla extract. Again use your mixer to combine before adding the other half. Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl down before each addition.

Now put away your electric mixer – you’ll be folding from here on in. Add a rough third of buttermilk and fold – the mixture my appear curdled and split but this isn’t a problem, just roll with it. Not add a third of the flour and fold in too. Continue until all the buttermilk and flour is combined with the rest of the mixture. Now you’ll notice it no longer looks curdle and split but lovely and creamy and delicious and ready to bake!

Line a 20cm tin (spring-form or loose bottomed at the very least) spoon in your mixture and spread evenly with the back of your dampened spatula. Stud with fresh raspberries or blackberries or both by pressing them down to that they just peep out of the surface. Now sprinkle on the golden caster sugar evenly.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 35 minutes and check with a skewer. If it comes out wet and coated in sticky mixture, return to the oven and continue to check at 5 minute intervals until the skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven, slide a palette knife around the edge of your sponge and release from your tin onto a wire cooling rack. DONE!


January Baking Round-Up

So far my new year’s resolutions are off to a racing start. I’ve surpassed my weekly baking goals and managed not to eat too much of it… and I’ve been going to the gym at the same time to try and counteract the extra calories from the taste testing and licking of many bowls and spoons. See below for a recap of my January bakes and makes along with recipes. Enjoy!

Toffee Fudge Cake

Coconut and Lime Cake
Sticky Toffee Loaf with Fudge Icing
Peanut Butter Biscuits
Apricot Crumble Muffins
Dark Chocolate and Almond Birthday Cake
Homemade Lemon Curd
Traditional Madeira
Oat and Raisin Cookies
Brazil Nut Brownies

Week 5: 2nd of February – Lancaster Lemon Tart

Delia describes this tart as a ‘first cousin’ to the Bakewell, and that is exactly what it is. It’s also a perfect opportunity for me to us some more of my homemade lemon curd!

As a child, I used to go camping every year to the Peak District. We’d spend the days gambolling up and down dales and wandering about picturesque villages. One of these villages was Buxton, famous for its beautiful spring water and I’d take a little bottle to fill and drink it straight from the ground. Another was Bakewell, renowned for its tarts and a childhood favourite of mine. I remember the day so clearly that we went to the bakery that supposedly made the first ever Bakewell tart; I waited with baited breath while my mum approached with a huge slab of some brown coloured thing on a plate. It didn’t look like Mr Kipling’s… I took a big bite and… OH THE DISAPPOINTMENT! I can almost feel it now. it was nothing like what I’d been used to having at my grandparents’ house, spilling with jam and covered in sweet fondant icing. This was simply an almond sponge in a pasty case. But as I’ve grown older and wiser I’ve actually come to prefer the traditional subtler Bakewell tart, but am still to make my own.

Let this Lancaster Lemon Tart be practise for when I finally pluck up the courage to take on the real deal.

Lemon Tart

Here is Delia’s recipe: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/desserts/tart/lancaster-lemon-tart.html
This wasn’t in ‘Delia’s Cakes’ but I decided to throw it in as an adhoc bake as I had so much curd to use up before March and I don’t often make pastry based dishes so it would present a welcome change. I did make a last minute decision to buy ready-made pastry which I know is a bit of a cop out, but making my own and the resting and chilling required is for people who have more time than me!

This is such a delicious bake – we had a sneaky slice hot from the oven and another cold after dinner!

Goats Cheese and Red Pepper Savoury Muffins

I was just flicking through some pictures on my phone and suddenly remembered these tasty treats that I must make again soon! I came across this recipe in the GBBO Everyday book last year, and I couldn’t resist having a go. I’d just started my new job at Citi and thought a good way to win favour with my new colleagues by baking them something interesting but I know that not everyone has a sweet tooth to I made raspberry shortbread and these. They went down a storm and made me lots of new friends!

cooked muffins

They make a great breakfast or you could eat one for lunch with some soup, but the best things about them in that people just aren’t used to eating a savoury muffin so everyone will be taken by surprise by how tasty they are. One guy from India who I work with had never eaten basil before and fell instantly in love with it.

Here’s the recipe I used:
100g goats’ cheese
1 medium red pepper cut into chunks
300g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Salt and pepper
Big handful of fresh basil chopped
225ml buttermilk
1 medium egg
100ml extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190°C and line a 12-hole muffin tray with cases. Crumble goats’ cheese into pieces, tear or chop your basil (not too small) and cut your pepper into chunks. I like the chunks nice and big. Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl then add the red pepper, basil and cheese and mix together.

Beat the egg, buttermilk and olive oil together in a mug or a bowl with a generous pinch of salt and a splash of cayenne pepper. Pour into your dry ingredients and mix everything to combine until you have a nice rough and chunky mixture but with no dry clusters of flour. Spoon equally into muffin cases. You’ll end up with a really lumpy mixture and don’t be put off by its chunky appearance in your muffin cases as you want these to have a really rustic look and feel.

Bake for 25-30 minutes in the centre of your preheated oven. Leave them to cool for a few minutes and then you can eat warm if you can’t wait!

My notes: a sprinkling of cayenne pepper is optional (I added to the recipe to give a little aftershock). I’d also advise to be generous with your salt as this will bring out the flavour of the goats cheese. Don’t scrimp on the basil either – this adds a lovely streak of colour beside the red peppers and of course a beautiful flavour.

prebaked muffins

Et voila, why not try these and wow your colleagues at the next charity bake sale.

Week 4: 25th of January – Brazil Nut Brownies

Now presentation-wise, these brownies did not impress when I took them from the oven. But taste-wise… WOW. These are by far the tastiest brownies I’ve ever made (although I may have over banked very slightly as they did break a bit but that could also have had something to do with using too generous a helping of brazil nuts!)

I run a monthly book club in Blackheath and I like to sometimes bring along something I’ve baked for the gang. I’m giving them my brownies tonight; I hope they like them! Here they are hidden in my bag where nobody at work can eat them…

hidden brownies

They were a hit! Book clubbers loved them, and I had one left over to take home for Rob! Two people asked for the recipe and they were described as ‘melt in the mouth’ (someone who shall not be named ate four!).

Here’s the recipe: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cuisine/exotic/american/brazil-nut-brownies.html
My recommendation would be to cut the brazil nut pieces really small. I cut my brazils into thirds as I wanted big chunks but this is what made the mixture difficult to hold together.

Brownies are such an easy treat to assemble but the tricky part is the bake. One minute too long and you over bake, one minute too little and you end up eating them with a spoon, but either way the taste is great so enjoy the trial and error!

Week 3: 19th of January – Oatmeal & Raisin Cookies

I’m going to let you in on a secret… I don’t actually like raisins. I’ll eat them if I’m given something with them in but I’d never choose too, and in my opinion there is just nothing worse than savoury food where a raisin or a sultana rears its ugly head. Coronation Chicken is the biggest culprit for this. I’m just not a fan. But something I do love is biscuits and believe it or not, give me a biscuit with a raisin in it, and I will be your friend forever. It’s funny isn’t it, how our little brains work and say ‘no, this raisin is completely out of place in this curry’ but then ‘yum, I’m glad you put raisins in these biccies’. Anyway, I digress.

In short, I don’t usually like raisins, but I do like them in biscuits (I’d probably eat anything in a biscuit though). Note: I’ve just noticed that I’ve been prattling on in terms of ‘biscuits’ but what I made were in Delia’s words ‘cookies’. Is there a difference? If there is an explanation it would be much appreciated. I suppose in the US biscuits are those little crumbly bread rolls so they need another word for proper biscuits?

Out came ‘Delia’s Cakes’ again to look at what I’d planned to bake for the week ahead and I noticed that I had scheduled her oatmeal and raisin cookies for this week… but it was 9pm on Sunday night! It had to be done. The oven went on and my mixing bowl came out and by 10pm we had 24 oatmeal and raisin cookies cooling on the rack.

Here is Delia’s recipe: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cuisine/european/english/oat-and-raisin-cookies.html


I’m slightly ashamed to say that I didn’t quite trust Delia’s recipe… I thought it was way too heavy on the dry ingredients and when I mixed in the butter and egg I felt the mixture was far too crumbly so like the idiot I am, I defied her by adding a tablespoonish sized squirt of golden syrup to help bind my mixture but this instead just made it very sticky and harder to shape (most of it ended up stuck to my hands and the bowl) and as you can see my cookies splayed a little more than ideal so I’ve ended up with something a bit flatter than desired. Despite all this, they taste absolutely fantastic!

They actually act as a great breakfast on the move – the cereally quality leant to them by the oatmeal makes them a kind of cookie shaped cereal bar!

Week 3: 15th of January – Traditional Madeira

I really love Madeira. I know some see it as boring but if you get a good one it is such a lovely clean taste, it lets you really appreciate the quality of the sponge without bogging you down in loads of fancy flavours. My favourite way of eating Madeira is with a little spread of jam or on its own with a cup of tea. But as it’s essentially a lemon cake, it goes really well with a bit of lemon curd and well would you believe it, I made five jars of the stuff earlier this week! What are the chances?

As always I used a recipe from good old reliable ‘Delia’s Cakes’ because if anyone knows how to make the best Madeira you’d imagine it would be a close call between Delia and Mary Berry… but I think Delia would probably clinch it.

So here’s the recipe I used – it really couldn’t be simpler: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cuisine/european/english/madeira-cake.html


I followed this recipe TO THE LETTER and got a perfect result. When sifting the dry ingredients from height, don’t be put off by the big white cloud that will envelope you – it will be worth your while I promise. Due to the high sifting, this is probably the lightest sponge I’ve ever produced and it had a lovely rise.

A tip to make life easier – prepare all of your ingredients beforehand so all you have left to do is combine. By this, I mean chop and weight your butter in a dish, beat your eggs and zest your lemon in advance. The only reason I say this is that sometimes these bits can be a bit time consuming and can put you out of step with the recipe if you have to stop halfway through and start zesting and chopping. Read through the whole recipe first and prepare anything that needs preparing. Then you can follow the recipe more smoothly and easily and you’re less likely to miss a step or an ingredient out!

I served mine with a mug of hot lemon tea and a dollop of my home made lemon curd. Delicious 