Tag Archives: fruit

Wedding Cake Ideas

May 4th is my cousin’s wedding day. It’s been in the diary for ages and is suddenly on the horizon. Luckily I’ve almost finished making my dress, so my next challenge is the cake. No, I don’t have to make the actual wedding cake, thank god! The pressure of making someone a wedding cake or dress would kill me. I will never do it.

Instead, inspired by the popular BBC TV show with a very similar name, Jo is hosting The Great Wedding Bake Off. The invite requests that everyone who wants to enter brings a baked pudding or cake, then everyone can try them and vote for their favourite. It’s an awesome idea and one that suggests we shouldn’t be expecting too traditional a wedding day next week!


I’ve been through pretty much all of my baking books, I’ve trawled my Pinterest boards, various blogs I follow and Googled every type of ‘celebration cake’ I could think of and here is my short list. I’m off to Band of Bakers 1st birthday party next Thursday and the theme is celebration cake, so I will get a chance to practice it before the wedding competition on the Saturday!


Top row (l-r):
1. Dobos Torte from Smitten Kitchen or Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book.
2. Torta Alla Gianduia from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess.
3. French Fraisier Cake from Food Lover’s Odyssey.

Middle row (l-r):
4. Butterscotch Nut Gateau from the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book.
5. Swedish Prinsesstårta Cake from Donal Skehan or Signe Johansen’s Scandilicious Baking.
6. Bitter Chocolate Orange Cake from Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Tooth.

Bottom row (l-r):
7. Pistachio Angel Cake from the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book.
8. Gateau Moka aux Amandes from Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book.
9. Baumtorte/Baumkuchen German Tree Cake from Global Table Adventure.


Candied Orange Peel

In my continuing task to use or preserve the oranges that we’ve collected from our Abel & Cole box I decided to try candying orange peel. This is the sort of thing I would usually stay well away from, it just seems too fiddly and will I actually ever use the candied oranges? Or will they just waste away, staring at me mournfully every time I open the fridge?


After some research I could see it’s not a difficult process it just needs a little time. There are lots of recipes around and in the end I settled for this recipe on Leite’s Culinaria by Carole Bloom. I had 8 small and slightly dodgy looking oranges to use and I didn’t have any orange liqueur so I used brandy instead because, well why not?

To make the candied orange peel, you cut the oranges up into fine slices, with some flesh attached, this stops the pith becoming too bitter. You then boil them for 5 minutes 3 times, each time refreshing the water and heating it from cold. Then you remove any leftover flesh, which is a bit of a faff, before mixing them with the sugar and brandy and cooking for an hour and a half over a low heat to allow them to fully soften and absorb all the sugar.


A couple of my orange’s had really thin skin purely because they were old, but by the end of the third 5 minute boil you couldn’t tell which of the peel was from these oranges as they’d really bulked out. I was worried that the oranges being old was going to be a problem, but actually I think this is a great way to use up any oranges that have been forgotten about and have got a bit ropey.


I rolled the cooked peel, hot out of the pan, in sugar which gives them a crunch. I did this in batches so some of the peel cooked for longer, meaning the syrup turned into more of a caramel giving the later peels a bit more of a snap. Both the softer and the more carmelised peel is really tasty, but it’s something to be aware of if you want them all to be the same consistency, you’d need to tip them all out of the pan at once, which I can imagine being quite messy and would probably waste a lot of sugar, something I tried to avoid. I’ve been keeping these in a tub in the fridge and The Boy & I keep stealing a couple whenever we fancy something sweet, so I needn’t have worried about them going to waste. I think they’re also going to make great cake decoration, perhaps combined with a certain blood orange curd.


I’ve already been thinking about these for this year’s Christmas presents, perhaps cooked down with spices in the brandy syrup then dipped in dark chocolate. April’s a bit early for this really isn’t it? I’d better make a note of it somewhere and come back to it later in the year.

Simple Blood Orange Curd

The Boy and I get our fresh fruit and vegetables delivered every week from Abel & Cole. Using up the vegetables is easy & in summer we eat a lot of fruit, but in winter we just aren’t very good at getting through all the fruit. Over the last couple of months we have got oranges, blood oranges or satsumas every single week and we’ve clearly got very tired of them because they’ve been building up in the fruitbowl. I hate wasting food, so this week I decided to experiment with a few different recipes to use up as many of them as possible.


The usual method for preserving a glut of oranges is marmalade, but if I’m honest I’m not a big fan. However I am a huge fan of lemon curd, so my first idea was to adapt a simple lemon curd recipe to create an orange curd. When I looked at my fruit bowl I had about 4 blood oranges lurking in the pile that looked a little past their best so I thought I’d use these up first.


While researching methods I could see that most recipes mixed the curd in a bowl over a pan of water, most strained the mixture through a sieve, and then some called for the mixture to be poured into sterilised jars while hot and others just instruct for the mixture to be left to cool in the bowl. I decided to use Dan Lepard’s easy lemon curd recipe from Short & Sweet. The recipe takes a bit of a shortcut and mixes the curd directly in a saucepan, the mixture is then strained and left to cool. I put most of the mixture into a sterilised jar while hot and what was left over I let cool and put into tupperware in the fridge, I just have to make sure I use this batch first.


Obviously as soon as it had cooled enough, I spread it on toast to try it. The initially the taste is sweet, rich and buttery and then the sharpness from the blood orange cuts through it. My blood oranges weren’t even that fresh and flavour is still fantastic. If you made this when the oranges were fresher it would be even more zingy.


I’ve got a few other orange preserving recipes to try this week, so if you like citrus, keep checking back!

Easy Blood Orange Curd
Adapted from Dan Lepard’s East Lemon Curd from Short & Sweet.
Makes about 400-450g.

5 large egg yolks
1 large egg
finely grated zest of 3 blood oranges
125ml blood orange juice
150g caster sugar
225g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

If you are planning to keep the curd in jars, wash the jars in very hot water or in a dishwasher on high. Place in the oven on a very low temperature to dry out. Wash the lids in very hot water and leave them in the very hot water until needed. If you’re reusing jars, cut some greaseproof paper circles to go between the curd & the lid. If you don’t want to faff with jars, you can store the curd in a tub in the fridge instead, but it won’t keep as long.

Place the egg yolks, egg, zest, juice and caster sugar in a saucepan over a low-moderate heat and whisk until combined. Then add the butter & stir with a wooden or plastic spoon (metal can spoilt the flavour), until melted. Keep heating until it starts to boil, gently stirring the whole time to prevent it catching on the bottom.

As it starts to boil, remove from the heat and retrieve the jars from the oven if you’re using them. Pour through a sieve into a clean mixing bowl, pressing down the mixture to make sure all the juice is through. Then, if you are just going to keep the curd in tupperware, you can just let it cool in the mixing bowl before transferring it to your container & then into the fridge. Or, if you’re using jars, pour it into the jar while hot, place a greaseproof circle on top of the curd and twist on the lid. Leave to cool before storing in the fridge.

Jarred, the curd should last a month or two, but once opened or if storing in a tub then it should last about a week.

Spiced Stout Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

It is the season for hot cross buns and as the season is short we must make the most of it! My current sourdough obsession meant that making a sourdough hot cross bun was a no-brainer, it had to be attempted. After trawling through all my books and my usual internet haunts I settled on Dan Lepard’s spiced stout hot cross buns as my base recipe to adapt.

I ended up using Guinness as it was the only stout available in the miserable little supermarket I visited, but as Guinness is always delicious when combined with sugar I didn’t complain too heartily. The recipe isn’t complicated, but like all sourdough recipes it takes time for the dough to proof, so all in all they took about 24 hours to make. I made my Guinness levain and soaked the fruit overnight, then did the mixing, folding & resting during the morning, left it to proof for the afternoon under a tea towel and then baked in the evening. Another option would be to mix the levain & soaked fruit in the morning, mix the dough, fold it and rest it throughout the evening then proof the buns overnight in the fridge and bake first thing. In fact, I might use that method next time!


The resulting buns were dense and moist with a richly, spiced flavour. The kitchen smelled like Christmas after baking them, it was divine! I sold them at work to raise money for my marathon running efforts and they got thumbs up all round. If you’re not a hot cross bun convert yet, make these, toast them, smear them with butter and you’ll never look back!

I realised after making these that the Twelve Loaves challenge for March is holiday bread! What an ideal coincidence, so I’ve submitted my recipe to the collection on Cake Duchess’ blog. Do check out the other submissions too.

Spiced Stout Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Makes about 20 buns.
Based on Dan Lepard’s Spiced Stout Buns recipe.


325ml Guinness (or another brand of stout)
150g sourdough starter
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp allspice
800g strong white flour
325g raisins
175g mixed peel
200ml hot black tea
1 large egg
50g melted butter
50g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
(plus a little plain flour & extra caster sugar for the crosses & the glaze)


The night before, whisk together the Guinness & the sourdough starter in a large bowl and stir in spices and 250g of the strong white flour. In a separate bowl mix the raisins, mixed peel and the hot black tea. Cover and leave overnight, in the morning the batter will have swollen like so:


The next day, mix the egg and melted butter through the plumped up fruit, then stir into the spiced beer batter. Mix in the flour, sugar and salt and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Stretch the dough and leave at room temperature for 30 mins, covered with a clean tea towel. Stretch the dough again and leave for another 30 minutes. Take the dough out of the bowl to fold, then return it to the bowl & leave it for an hour. Fold the dough again and leave once more for around 2 hours. Now we can shape the dough.



Weigh out roughly 100g balls of dough. Roll them in your hands then pinch them into a rough boule shape. Place them on a baking tray lined with baking parchment so that each bun is just touching. I easily fit all 20 buns on one baking sheet. Leave these at room temperature, covered with a tea towel, for 3-4 hours until fully risen.


Once the buns look like they’re nearly ready, heat the oven to 180C fan. Mix a little plain flour with a little water to form a paste. The consistency needs to be soft enough to pipe, but not so runny it’s going to dribble out of the nozzle as you spoon it into the piping bag. Pipe crosses across the hot cross buns in continuous lines from one side of the baking sheet to the other. Bake these for 25 minutes until golden.


As they come out the oven, mix a tablespoon of caster sugar & a tablespoon of boiling water and brush over the buns while they’re still hot to give that traditional shiny glaze. Once cool break them apart, cut in half, toast, smear with butter and enjoy…



Strawberry Bakewell Tarts

The Lily Vanilli Sweet Tooth cookbook has been out again. Pastry is not my strong point, so I thought I’d give Lily’s shortcrust a try. She gives instructions to make it by hand, food processor & stand mixer – particularly helpful for me with my beloved Kitchen Aid. It was very easy to make up the dough and then I left it in the fridge overnight as recommended. It was a nice pastry to work with, firm & easy to roll out. Managed to avoid too many sticking to the counter disasters when rolling out, then cut out the tartlets & blind baked them.


The two recipe’s in the book are for a classic cherry and a more interesting rhubarb Bakewell tarts, but Lily does mention that they use all sorts of fruit depending on what’s in season so I didn’t let a little hitch like a lack of rhubarb or cherries hold me back. I had some strawberries in the freezer, so I used those. I cooked them down with sugar & squeezed over a little orange juice until it was jam-like and smelling delicious. Then the frangipane. Never made it before and wasn’t even 100% sure what it’s supposed to be like if I’m honest. Turns out it’s ridiculously easy to make, plus Lily’s recipe makes double the quantity needed, so the other half has been frozen for the next tart that calls for it.



The end result was a crisp pastry with a thick strawberry jam topped with light frangipane and an undertone of orange coming through the strawberries and a little zest in the frangipane. Delicious. The pastry needed to be a little thinner and pushed into the muffin moulds a little firmer but other than that I’m pretty pleased with these for a first attempt! I will definitely be making them again! And eating them with breakfast…



Scandi Banana Bread

I treated myself to Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen last autumn but I’ve only baked a couple of things from it so far. Having sent that I’ve learnt things just from those couple of uses. Like the delight of using spelt flour in cakes… delicious indeed.

We get our fruit and veg delivered every week from Abel & Cole which means that sometimes we get the same thing in consecutive weeks we end up with a stash that we need to use up, and that usually means that I need to find something to bake with them. Luckily, bananas are easy. This time I tried Signe’s banana bread.



It’s a super easy recipe where pretty much everything is combined in one go, using wholemeal flour, spelt flour & oats to create a really thick, comforting quick bread. Not too sweet (I’d add more syrup if you’re looking for more of a cake) it was perfect with a little butter. We demolished the first half of the loaf in about 15 mins and then forgot about it. A week later I retrieved it from the tin and aside from being a touch stale round the edges it was still delicious. It just needed a slightly thicker smear of butter. No complaints here.

Scandi-Banana-Bread-03 Scandi-Banana-Bread-04 Scandi-Banana-Bread-05 Scandi-Banana-Bread-06

Christmas Pudding 09

Christmas Baking : Christmas Pudding

I’ve never made a Christmas pudding before. I don’t even eat Christmas pudding, but it feels like a baking challenge that I should tackle. As always the initial challenge is choosing which recipe to follow. The two in contention were Dan Lepard‘s Simple Christmas Pudding & Nigel Slater‘s Christmas Pudding. I made Nigel’s Christmas cake last year and it was delicious, but Dan’s pudding did seem like an easier option, so I’m afraid that’s why I went for it.

So I started with a mix of raisins, cranberries, prunes & dates. When I made my Christmas cake last year I ended up with loads of dates in it, by accident really as the fruit mix I bought just had a lot of dates in. Having thought about it since I think that’s why it was so light compared to just using prunes/currants etc, so I decided to follow that idea here & use dates for 1/4 of the fruit.

Christmas Pudding 01

Then I added suet. I’ve never used suet before & to be honest I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with it, so I just mixed it in. Then I added light brown sugar, you can use dark brown for a richer pudding if you so wish.

Christmas Pudding 02

Next is plain flour, baking powder & breadcrumbs.

Christmas Pudding 03

Then I added mixed spice & nutmeg. Then almonds.

Christmas Pudding 04

A grated carrot followed by the zest & juice of an orange.

Christmas Pudding 05

Some golden syrup, but again, you can use treacle for a richer pud. Followed by 2 beaten eggs.

Christmas Pudding 06

Last ingredient is some dark ale, I used a little from a bottle of London Porter which The Boy was only too happy to finish off. And just mix them all together.

Christmas Pudding 07

I prepped a pudding basin by greasing with butter & lining the base with a small circle of greaseproof. I realised as I filled it that I had too much mixture/had bought too small pudding basins so I quickly prepped another one so I could make two puddings instead!

Christmas Pudding 08

Christmas Pudding 09

After covering them with greaseproof paper & foil and fixing in place with an elastic band, I placed one in a large pan with water, with one of the basin lids at the bottom to lift it off the bottom of the pan a little. The pan was then filled with water to about half way up the basin & I left it to boil for 3 hours. I then lifted it out & left it to cool and put the other pudding in for 3 hours!

Christmas Pudding 10

Of course, I would love to show you the finished result (I’d like to see it myself) but we’ll have to wait until Christmas Day! Fingers crossed they’ve worked!