Posted in Baking Day, Recipes

Apple and Blackberry Pudding

Pudding.  There’s something about that word that conjures up comfort.  Something you’ll be hankering as Autumn envelops you bringing darker evenings, cooler air and while you sleep a sprinkling of frost may even be dusting your doorstep.  I can’t get enough of apple in desserts at this time of year; crumbles, tarts and yes oh yes please, pudding.  This would be epic after a long Sunday lunch or an evening of entertainment and something sure to send the recipients over that edge into blissful food coma.

Apple and blackberry pudding

There are some blackberry stragglers still clung to the hedgerows if you get a chance to look or you’ll find them with fruit in the supermarket and those cooking apples are still abundant and inexpensive.  The battery mixture of this almost forms a cake but with all the moistness of the fruit it will never dry into sponginess but will remain sumptuously soft and yielding.  As moist as it already is I do recommend that you take it to the next level and serve with some softly whipped fresh cream.
Apple and blackberry pudding

Apple and Blackberry Pudding : (Serves 9)

You will need:
175g unsalted butter
250ml carton whipping cream
225g caster sugar
3 eggs
400g cooking apples (2 large or 3 medium)
300g plain flour
300g blackberries
Butter to grease the dish
Preheat the oven to 180oC/Gas Mark 6 and grease a baking/pudding dish 25x25cm with butter.
Heat the butter and cream together in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Leave to cool a little.
Whisk the caster sugar and the eggs together for a few minutes until thick and set aside.
Prepare the fruit by coring, peeling and slicing the apples into rings, and washing the blackberries.
Add the butter and cream mixture to the eggs and sugar mixture, and whisk together.
Gently fold in the sifted flour to make a thick batter.
Pour the mixture into the baking dish and push in the apple rings.
Scatter the blackberries over the top and push some of them down into the batter.
Bake for 45–50 minutes and test the mixture with a skewer – if it comes away clean the cake is cooked.
Great served hot, straight from the oven, with some cream.

Enjoy! Sheila.

Posted in Baking Day, Recipes

Breakfast Muffins

Apple & Raisin Wholemeal Breakfast Muffins
Breakfast Muffin

Look at that.  You can see those chunks of apple peaking out at you can’t you?  Now is the time.  Autumn is here full of its ‘mellow fruitfulness’ and none so mellow as those wind-fallen apples currently waiting to be gathered – but hurry they won’t hang around for long! Cooking apples are at giveaway prices at the moment – I got 6 Irish Bramley Apples for 49c last weekend.  These muffins only needed two of those so I’ve plans to stew some others to put on top of porridge with cinnamon in the mornings – if you haven’t tried that it’s an unreal combination.  Dessert for breakfast.  Nothing like a little sweetness to wake you up and a little hit of warming spice.  If you can’t find ‘mixed-spice’ for these muffins you can just use cinnamon instead.  I do hope you get to try them.

tray of breakfast muffins
Breakfast muffins on wire tray
Makes 12 to 14
You will need:
350g extra coarse whole-wheat flour or any whole-wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
150g light brown sugar, plus extra for sprinkling ( or any type sugar)
Good handful of raisins
2 eggs, beaten
200ml natural yoghurt
4 tbsp sunflower oil
2 apples (bramley cooking apples is what i used, other eating apples like pink lady etc. work well too)
Preheat a fan oven to 160°C.
Line a 12-hole muffin tray with muffin cases.
Mix the flour, baking powder and mixed spice in a bowl, then add the brown sugar and the raisins.
Make a well in the centre and add the beaten eggs, natural yoghurt and sunflower oil.
Mix together with a wooden spoon until just combined.
Peel and core the apples, then cut into small cubes and stir them through the muffin mixture.
Spoon the batter into the cases, crumble a little extra brown sugar on top of each one and bake in the oven for 35 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Enjoy! , Sheila

Posted in Baking Day, Recipes

Black Cherry Gateaux

Mother’s Day is a week away and if you’re stuck for funds a homemade cake is always a welcome and special gift.  Combining chocolate, cherries, liquor and cream makes this a grown-up cake that everyone will enjoy.
chocolate cake
With six children our days and weeks are very busy and time appears to fly by.  It was so lovely to wake up this Sunday morning to a beautiful crisp blue spring sky and the knowledge that I didn’t have to drive anywhere today other than to get supplies for dinner and tomorrow’s school lunches.  Sunday generally either means a huge fry-up brunch and a lighter tea later in the evening or a Sunday roast.  Today was a day for a beef roast and I was also in the mood for baking and we all dug into this delicious Black Cherry Gateaux with extra cream, cherries and syrup for dessert.
chocolate cake
chocolate cake
chocolate cake
chocolate cake
chocolate cake
chocolate cake
chocolate cake

The bases will bake in 35 minutes and will need 30 minutes to cool them before decorating.
Black Cherry Gateaux.
You will need:
For The Cake You Will Need:
2 tbsp cocoa powder
5 tbsp hot water
200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
200g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
For Decorating:
1 tin black cherries
100ml kirsch or creme de cassis (I use the latter)
125g caster sugar
150ml whipping cream
2 bars chocolate 70% cocoa solids
Icing sugar for dusting.
Preheat the fan oven to 170C.  Grease two round 8 or 9cm cake tins with some butter and line the base of each with a round of parchment paper.
Mix the cocoa powder with warm water to make a thick chocolatey paste and leave to cool.
Mix the flour and baking powder together and set aside.
Use an electric mixer to soften the butter and then add the caster sugar and beat well.
Add one egg to the mix then some flour and continue doing so until all eggs and flour/baking powder are added and mixed.
Finally mix in the chocolatey paste then divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for 30-35 minutes, (test with a skewer to see if baked)
Remove cakes from tins and allow to cool on a wire rack before decorating.
To Decorate:
While the cake are baking strain the liquid from the cherries into a saucepan and mix in the caster sugar and the liquor.
Mix well and bring to the boil and simmer for around 5 minutes until reduced by about half and thickening to a nice syrupy consistency.
Pour the syrup into a jug and allow it to cool.
Whip the cream.
Once the cakes are completely cool break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bowl in the microwave for a minute or two mixing well to make a nice chocolate sauce.
Once the cake has completely cooled top one of the cakes with a good dollop of cream and scatter the cherries on top.
Pour over a generous drizzling of the cherry sauce then top with the second cake.
Pour over most of the melted chocolate, top with a few cherries and then dust lightly with a little icing sugar.  Serve with extra cream and syrup.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Baking Day

Blackberry & Apple Loaf Cake

September is probably my favourite month of the year and not just because it is when my birthday falls. It’s the beginning of the new school year, a time when many people decide to take courses, a time to buy a new notebook and write out a plan. The days are still bright and it is a time of abundant harvest. Hedgerows are heaving now and it’s the last chance to forage and gather juicy, ripe blackberries.

lackberry & Apple Jam by Denis Kiely

For a number of years my husband has become a seasonal blackberry and apple jam maker. The berries are picked by his Uncle Paddy and stored for collection by his mother Kitty. He called to her a couple of days ago and indulged in her delicious blackberry pie before collecting his blackberries for jam making.

Kitty's Blackberry Pie
Kitty’s Blackberry Pie

Blackberries are rinsed and joined by chopped up cooking apple and caster sugar in a large saucepan where they simmer and bubble together merrily until he decides it is time. Jars of every shape and size are gathered and sterilized and he then proudly dispenses his jam. How lovely to see these richly filled jars lined up and glistening like the deepest jewels.

The jam will be used as a straightforward jam of course but we will also use it bulked up with more apple to make pies and crumbles. I couldn’t wait to test it out and today I used it to make this deliciously moist Blackberry & Apple Loaf Cake. It cuts beautifully and is perfect with a cup of tea… and while you’re waiting for the tea to brew you could vote for Gimme The Recipe to reach to Irish Blog Awards 2015 Finals – go on, go on, go on, go on, go on.

The vibrancy of the mixture is so beautiful it’s almost a shame to cook it.

Blackberry & Apple Loaf Cake Mixture

I hope your September is going well for you and that you’ll get to enjoy all that Autumn’s harvests have to offer.

Blackberry & Apple Loaf Cake Baked

Blackberry & Apple Loaf Cake Sliced

Blackberry & Apple Loaf Cake Slice

Blackberry & Apple Loaf Cake

You will need:
75g unsalted butter plus extra to grease loaf tin
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
250g self-raising flour
1 jar (350g approx.) thick-set blackberry & apple jam
Preheat a fan oven to 180C
Grease a loaf tin with butter and line the base with a long piece of baking paper.
Cream together the butter and caster sugar with an electric mixer.
Then beat in half the beaten egg and half the flour followed by the remaining egg and flour.
The mixture is quite heavy and thick so use a wooden spoon to stir in the blackberry & apple jam until evenly distributed.
Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake in the hot oven for 40 minutes.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and to cool fully (if you can wait) until cutting as it will cut better.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Baking Day, Recipes

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake
Why not make your next weekend special for no reason other than you deserve to have some delicious cake every now and then.  I like to sneak some chopped raspberries into the cake mixture for extra moistness and we all fight to lick the icing bowl and spoons.  While you really ought not to eat raw cake mixture I always do and beaters and spatulas become lollipops.  The cake mixture contains a full bar of chocolate as does the rich chocolate butter icing making this a very chocolatey chocolate cake.
While the pictures below are very similar, I couldn’t choose between them or leave any out, after all one can never have enough cake.

Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake

You will need:
150g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate
200g caster sugar
200g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
12 raspberries for cake mix
Raspberries to decorate
Blueberries to decorate
Chocolate icing (see below), fresh cream and raspberry jam to decorate
You will need – for Rich Chocolate Butter Icing:
100g dark chocolate (70%)
250g icing sugar
25g unsalted butter (approximately 1 heaped tbsp.)
3 tbsp hot water

Method for Chocolate Cake:
Preheat the fan oven to 170oC/Gas mark 5.
Grease and line two round cake tins (20cm or 8”) with a little butter and parchment paper.
Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar together.
Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave and mix in with the butter and sugar.
Sift the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl and set aside.
Beat the eggs in a bowl and add about a third to the butter and sugar mix followed by about a third of the flour. Continue adding the egg and flour alternating until all are added. Mix in 12 roughly chopped raspberries and mix well.
Divide the mixture between the two cake tins.
Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes, testing with a skewer to see if baked, if any wet mixture clings to the skewer return to the oven for a further 5 minutes and test again.
Allow the cakes to cool for ten minutes or so before removing from tins to cool on wire rack tray before icing.

Method for Rich Chocolate Butter Icing :
100g dark chocolate (70%)
250g icing sugar
25g unsalted butter (approximately 1 heaped tbsp.)
3 tbsp hot water
Break up the chocolate into a bowl and microwave it on low power for 1 to 2 minutes until melted.
Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in the melted chocolate.
Add the butter and hot water and beat well with a wooden spoon until smooth.
Keep beating as you add in the hot water to make a smooth icing.

Layer some raspberry jam and freshly whipped cream to sandwich the cake together.
Pour the chocolate butter icing over the top and use a spatula to smooth over and down the sides of the cake.
Decorate with fresh berries.
Chocolate Cake

Indulge & Enjoy.
‘Til next time, Sheila

Posted in Baking Day, Recipes

Chocolate Chip, Cranberry & Peanut Butter Loaf Cake

Choc Chip Loaf Cake 1January was one long month, I just couldn’t get to the end of it quickly enough.  The endless confetti of plastic windowed envelopes gliding in through my letter box on a chilly breeze; there was no mistaking these as straggling greeting cards, these were bills! Reminders of the excesses of the holiday period.  You’ll be more prepared next year though won’t you?  You’ll save a bit so you will.  Won’t we all!  Meanwhile hollow pledges aren’t going to stall the direct debits so it’s time for a stocktake of your freezer and cupboards.  What on earth is lurking in there and what indeed is it waiting for?  I know I’ve some frozen pastry sheets for just-in-case visitor moments so I’m going to pull those out and fill them for supper one of these fine evenings.
Choc Chip Loaf Cake
Choc Chip Loaf Cake 3
Choc Chip
In the meanwhile a little bit of comfort.  I hadn’t baked for ages and there’s nothing like the smell particularly when it’s so rare.  The dried cranberries plump up really sweetly in a buttery cake and keeping the chocolate chunks nice and big make a slice of this a welcome wintery weather treat.
Choc Chip Loaf and Slice
Choc Chip slice
Chocolate Chip, Cranberry & Peanut Butter Loaf Cake
You will need:
150g butter
5 tbsp crunch peanut butter
175g brown sugar
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
200g good quality chocolate (2 bars, I go for >75%)
60g dried cranberries
Grease a loaf tin with butter and line the base with a strip of baking paper.
Pre-heat the fan oven to 180C
Beat the butter and brown sugar together
Beat in one egg followed by half the flour and baking powder
Beat in the remaining egg and flour
Stir in the crunchy peanut butter, dried cranberries and the chocolate cut into large chunks
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until nicely browned on the outside
Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin, allow to cool further on a wire tray.
‘Til next time, Sheila

Posted in Baking Day, Recipes

Banana and Peanut Butter Bread (well it’s cake really)

Banana and Peanut Butter Bread.
Banana and Peanut Butter Bread
Yes, well you are really kidding yourself here if you think you are tucking into a healthy slice of bread.  This is an indulgent cake.  That’s not to say it isn’t healthy but if you eat the whole thing it will make you fat, as will eating an entire loaf of bread.  So just have the one slice.  If you can.  Because this is one delicious cake and you’ll have to pray that the rest of your household will save you from yourself and nibble away at it too.
Banana and Peanut Butter Bread
Banana and Peanut Butter Bread
Banana and Peanut Butter Bread
Banana and Peanut Butter Bread
Banana and Peanut Butter Bread

My sister in Melbourne tells me that banana bread is everywhere and she passed on this fabulous Donna Hay recipe (come home soon Aileen).  Donna Hay’s recipes and photographs make me cry they are so beautiful.  Go on have a look and bring a hankie.

Banana and Peanut Butter Bread (from Donna Hay – slight adaptions quantities & cooking time etc.)

You will need:
125g butter
175g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 over-ripe bananas
3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
80ml maple syrup or golden syrup
Pre-heat a fan oven 10 160oC
Line a loaf tin by greasing it with a little butter and laying a long sheet of baking paper along the bottom and up both ends (no need for paper on all sides as it will lift out if sufficiently greased)
Cream the butter and sugar together with electric mixer and add the vanilla extract.
Beat in the eggs.
Add all remaining ingredients, folding them in with a spatuala or wooden spoon rather than using the mixer as you want to gently combine everything without completely pulverising your banana and peanut butter.
Pour the mixture into a baking tin and bake for 60-70 minutes (testing with a skewer)
Cool in the tin for 20 minutes or so and then remove from tin and allow to cool on wire rack.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Baking Day

Lemon Drizzle Cake

So I’ve joined a book-club.  This means that I read one new book a month {at last I am reading again} and once a month I get to go to a friend’s house and be lavished with copious cups of tea and indulged in a selection of baked goods.  Heaven.  We all contribute and sometimes I cheat and just buy something, you know yourself there are days that are just too busy.  Last time round was a pretty busy day too but I was determined to fit in something homemade as there really is no comparison.  I needed quick, I needed simple, I needed a lemon drizzle cake.  Too flummoxed to find the scrap of paper that my own recipe is written on {I do not have the encyclopedic brain of some who can store them in their head} I turned to my failsafe source BBC Good Food and my search quickly fired back a Tana Ramsey recipe.
Lemon Drizzle Cake
Lemon Juice and sugar for drizzle
You simply bake the cake then poke holes in it and pour over a lemon and sugar syrup to soak in as it cools in the tin.  Wonderfully moist and fragrant, I can highly recommend this as a cake that can by made in a hurry with minimal fuss and attention and it cuts wonderfully.
It is pointless of me to reproduce it here as I did not change it in any way so if you click on this link it will bring you straight to Tana Ramsey’s recipe for lemon drizzle cake. {Like some of the readers who left comments on the BBC site I used the juice of the two lemons not just one and a half and I baked for 55 minutes}.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Baking Day

{Wicked} Chocolate Brownies

What does ‘Wicked’ say to you?Brownie SoloTo me it says bold, it says sinful, it says indulgent, it says chocolate.  On a food-writing course a couple of years ago, the lecturer implored us not to use the word wicked in association with chocolate.  I slid down in my chair a little when he said this as for me it was too late, by that stage my book ‘Gimme the Recipe’ was submitted and there was no turning back.  But now I’m glad that is what they are called because these really are truly wicked.  Indulgent, bold and sinful, all the bad things that makes something really good.
BrowniesPerfect for entertaining….
Brownie CloseUp…or just enjoying on their own.  I mean just look how moist they are, seeped in luscious chocolate and if that weren’t enough extra chunks bob along the top semi-melted and tipping you over to the dark side.  Indulge, enjoy!

Makes 16 to 20.

You will need:
350g dark chocolate (min 55% cocoa)
275g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
200g plain flour
4 eggs
Icing sugar, to dust
Preheat the fan oven to 160oC/Gas mark 4 and lightly grease and line a baking tray with a little butter and baking parchment paper.
Break up 300g of the chocolate (reserve 50g for later) and cube the butter and melt them together in a bowl in the microwave (low power 1 to 2 minutes) or over a saucepan of warm water.
Gradually add the sugar and stir well.
Add the flour and stir well.
Lightly whisk the eggs in a bowl and then stir into the cooling chocolate mixture until smooth.
Pour the brownie mixture into the baking tray and break up the reserved 50g of chocolate and press it in here and there.
Bake for 25 minutes until the top is looking settled but the centre is still soft without being too gooey.
Leave to cool, dust with icing sugar and cut into 12 or 15 brownies depending on size of tins used.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Baking Day

Wholemeal Pesto Scones

Last weekend brought a wonderful excuse to visit Galway.  I travelled solo and met up with The Gravy Man at The G Hotel where we availed of their Fabulous Friday package which included a 3 course meal that was superb.  Only staying for one night, as the doors of the lift to the carpark closed on my departure I whispered ‘I’ll be back’ to the glimmering decadence of one of the three opulently and distinctly styled drawing rooms (thanks to the artful eye of milliner Philip Treacy).
I travelled alone on Saturday northwards in the direction of Oughterard and soon met the bustling village of Moycullen.  Here I ascended to the second floor of An Cearnog Nua and greeted by beautiful sunshine easily located the venue for my Gimme the Recipe demonstration – The Galway Cakery.  The demonstration and book signing had been organised by Anne Quinn of The Moycullen Village Bookshop who was there to look after book sales on the day.
The Galway Cakery
The Galway Cakery is a bright, spacious and tastefully decorated cafe and Henrike was a very welcoming host making me feel at ease and free to use what I liked from her kitchen as she got on with her own preparations for the day.  The demo went over very well and before I left I fortified myself with the homemade mushroom soup and the savoury scone that Henrike had very kindly included from my book on her menu for the day.
Specials BlackboardAs I gathered my things to leave I paused to take a few shots to share a little of the feel of the place and what’s on offer.
Cupcakes in BirdcageCocoroonsApple & Date SliceRocky RoadFlavoured Hot ChocolateCupcake on standI returned home with a boxful of goodies to try out and as an out and out chocoholic I have to say the journey to Moycullen was worth it for the brownies alone –  amazing.  Portion sizes at The Galway Cakery are very generous and both the brownie and the rocky road were sufficient for at least two people.
Selection of Cakes from The Galway Cakery
Here’s a snapshot of Henrike’s interpretation of my wholemeal pesto scone bites – they were deliciously moist and fortifying for the journey home.
Savoury Scone with cheese & pestoWholemeal Pesto Scones
Makes 10-12 regular sized
You will need:
300g wholemeal flour
150g plain flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp bread soda
125g unsalted butter
300ml butter milk
2 tbsp basil pesto
1 egg and milk to glaze
Preheat the fan oven to 180oC/Gas mark 6.
Lightly grease two baking trays with a little butter.
Mix the wholemeal flour and plain flour with the salt and bread soda in a large bowl.
Cut the butter into cubes and crumble together with the flour with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Make a well in the centre, pour in the buttermilk and mix well with a fork, then stir in the pesto.
When the dough is combined, flour your hands and pour the dough out onto a floured board.  As the dough is very moist there will be no kneading –  just use plenty of flour on your hands to push it, shape it into a ball and then flatten it out either with your hands or a floured rolling pin.
Flatten or roll out the dough to a thickness of approximately 2cm.
Use a medium sized round pastry cutter to cut out approximately 10-12 scones.
Place the scones on the greased baking trays and brush the tops and side with some beaten egg and milk mixed together.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until nicely risen and golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack.
Til next time, Sheila.