Tag Archives: delia smith

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!

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!

Midweek Meal: Pork Stroganoff with Three Mustards

Over the Christmas period I was staying a my boyfriend’s Mum’s house (Mummo) down in Brighton. After 3 days of solidly eating nothing but turkey we all needed a bit of a rest, so one evening she cooked us up a really quite and easy Stroganoff. I always though stroganoffs were something you had to leave to cook slowly and would therefore only be a weekend option, but I was wrong. Last week I found this excellent Delia recipe online that we tried on Sunday evening and it was ready in 20minutes so it definitely qualifies as a midweek meal as well as a winter warmer!

The recipe: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cuisine/european/english/pork-stroganoff-with-three-mustards.html

Now I know 3 mustards sounds excessive, but it is imperative in my opinion that you use them all. We get through mustard like it’s going out of fashion n my house so we always have a big stock of it in the fridge and some standby jars in the cupboard, but if you don’t keep a full stock of mustard at home, I urge you to buy all three if you want to try this dish out. You will not regret it.

We used pork loin medallions cut into thin strips – it was 300g as opposed to the 350g that Delia suggests but this was more than enough, and we bulked it out with some extra mushrooms. Here you’ll see in this ‘big man portion’ we accompanied it with garlic and rosemary roasted baby new potatoes (super simple to do – I’ll add a mini recipe below) and a rocket salad, but I imagine it would go equally well with mash, rice or even a jacket if you wanted to whip this up super quick midweek.

strogIf you want to try with our potatoes (best for the weekend as they can take about an hour) buy a bag of salad potatoes – any kind will do. I like the tinier the better as you get more crispy skin but an Anya (the little knobbly ones) work really well too cut into rounds. Cut them into halves and boil for 15mins or so in well salted water. In the meantime, heat a roasting tray with about 2 tablespoons of sun/olive oil in a hot oven (about 200degrees). Drain your potatoes and drop carefully into the hot oil, throw in a few crushed whole garlic cloves in their skins and a handful of freshly picked rosemary. Crunch sea salt flakes all over and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper and toss it all together before returning to the oven. You can leave them in for as long as you like – I find that about 25 minutes is best to give them a lovely crispy outside.

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 

Paul Hollywood, Delia Smith, Peyton & Byrne, GBBO: My Favourite Baking Books!

What I like to do is pick a book and stick with it. if you buy a load of different baking books you’ll find that you end up using none of them. Believe me, I’ve made this mistake in the past and now have dozens gathering dust in my hall where I’ve baked maybe only 1 or 2 recipes from them and moved on to another book. Amazon give you a good glimpse inside most books so you can get an idea of what’s on offer but the best thing to do is just go into an old fashioned bookstore and have a look through. If you work in an office that has regular visits from The Book People, then you’re in luck as they always have vast arrays of cookery books that are usually at least half price.

Peyton and Byrne’s ‘British Baking’ is a beautiful book full of lovely traditional cake and biscuit recipes that range from really quick and simple to REALLY difficult. RECOMMEND AS COFFEE TABLE BOOK. DO try and make the fig rolls. DON’T try the black forest gateau unless you’re really brave (mine looked dope, tasted wack).

Black forest gateux

Paul Hollywood’s ‘How To Bake’ is great for those with a savoury tooth – more of a bread and pies type book than cakes and biscuits but great for potential male bakers! RECOMMEND FOR BLOKES. DO try the Flamiche. DON’T try the homemade sour dough unless you can put up with your house smelling of yeast for a few weeks.

‘Delia’s Cakes’ is the latest addition to my cookery book shelf. It’s full of recipes that are really simple to follow, but not always that simple to pull off. Great for those who sometimes find instructions a bit tricky as Delia’s writing is really black and white. RECOMMEND TO NEW BAKERS. DO try the lime and coconut cake for something a bit different. DON’T try the chocolate and almond cake unless you have time and arm muscles to do A LOT of grating.

Coconut and Lime Cake

‘Great British Bake Off: Everyday’ is a lovely book, especially if you’re a fan of the show and you’ll recognise most of the bakes from it. Contains a good range of sweet a savoury but also some really tricky stuff that you probably won’t ever end up doing! RECOMMEND TO ADVENTUROUS AND FANS OF THE SHOW. DO try the raspberry crumble shortbread. DON’T try the allotment cake; it’s just silly.

Whichever camp you fall into, I would definitely recommend choosing a strategy…

If you think you fit into the category of ‘occasional baker’ I suggest that you tear up a piece of A4 paper into about 20-30 strips, flick through and mark all of the recipes that you’d like to eventually have a go at in your chosen book. You can colour the tips with a highlighter to distinguish sweet or savoury. This way you avoid the ‘recipe book porn’ session that is bound to ensue if you pick a book cleanly from your shelf with no idea what you’re going to make. I have several books that are marked in this way, so when I want to make something I can pick it up and flick straight to a page with something yummy looking on it.

If you see yourself as a potential ‘dedicated baker’ or if you’re just incredibly regimented and obsessively organised like me you can use my latest strategy. Buy yourself a cheap notebook (I’ve got a pukka pad) and label the first 12 pages with the months of the year. Next you’ll need a postit pad and your chosen recipe book. Flick through the book at random and stick a postit note on each page with a date range (I’ve used weeks so it’s used 52 recipes from my book). As you stick a postit into the book, note the page number and date range in your note pad. Obviously feel free to skip over recipes that you don’t like the look of or miss weeks where you think you might not have enough time for baking. You can also slot special recipes into your note pad too from other books for occasions like birthdays, Easter, Christmas etc. I’ve even scheduled world-cup-cakes in for June! You need to be pretty well disciplined to stick to this method but don’t feel guilty if you fall slack now and again. You also have to be able to resist eating cake and biscuits all the time which is a tougher ask but if you have a hungry bunch of work colleagues who deserve the odd treat you can offload your makes pretty easily. There will be recipes in the book left over so use the bookmark and highlight technique on these and if you ever feel like making something extra, these are your go-to recipes.

Stick a postit on the page of the bake you’ve just made with notes for next time. You can comment on how successful it was and possible variations for your next try. My postit notes include – YUK! Do not try again, Could do with a bit less time in the oven, Make more icing next time, and Perfect! Don’t change a thing! Such a simple tip but it’s a great way to remember what works and what doesn’t.