Friday, September 20, 2013

Harvest Cake

A cake to celebrate the season and our glut of apples. Gluten and sugar free cos that's how I'm rocking right now... But still want to bake and eat cake.
Can be dairy free too very easily

Fry 3 peeled sliced eating apples in 2 tsp of butter or oil,  5 mins till soft in a sautĂ© pan that can go in the oven.add 1 tbsp honey and a punch of cinnamon.

Cake batter: 2 med eggs, pinch salt, pinch cinnamon, 11/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 4 tbsp sunflower oil, 180 g apple sauce(sugar free), about 60 g ground almonds, 50g rice flour. Mix all together till combined. Dont over mix. Add a little more ground almonds if needed to make it to a thickish but still runny batter, the texture of a good thick yogurt.

Pour batter over the apples, smooth over. Cook at 170 for 15-20 mins till golden. Loosen edges, turn over onto a plate like a tarte tatin, drizzle with honey. Delicious served warm with cream.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

No-bake PMS bars

So at a certain time of the month, the need for chocolate becomes as strong as our need for extra sleep. We women are wired for it.
Image credit:
But if we're not careful we can load up on too much sugar and feel really crappy. Also concentration can be tougher premenstrually and we can be clumsier.

I am currently not eating wheat and sugar, but I wanted a snack to get me through the tunnel of PMS - and this one takes the biscuit! A recipe that needs no chopping or baking, and minimal work, which has no added sugar, but is nutrient rich with nuts, seeds and oats, giving you the nutritional boost you need premenstrually, without the sugar rush. And most importantly a rich, dark, deep hit of chocolate.

The only part of the recipe which requires a little vigilance is the first, toasting the nuts, seeds and oats. But it only takes about 10 minutes. So have a cup of tea and sit in stillness in front of the cooker. Or set a timer!

2 cups rolled oats, not the powdery porridge ones
1 cup almonds (with skins on)
3/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
200 grams 70- 75% dark chocolate
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 packed cup pitted dates

 Pre heat the oven to 170C (fan), about 350F.

Pour the oats onto one large baking tray, and the nuts and seeds onto the other. Pop them into the hot oven. Check after 6 minutes. If the nuts smell toasty and are a little darker, take them out. Toss the oats so the ones on bottom are now on top, and pop into the oven for another 5 mins. If about 1/4 are starting to turn golden brown then you can take them out, if not, toss again and put in for another couple of minutes.

Pour the nuts,seeds, oats and salt into a steel bladed food processor and grind until gritty.

Then add the pitted dates, vanilla and chocolate (broken roughly into pieces)for another minute until it is all brown and has come together, stop once or twice to push any stray oats down into the chocolatey mush.

Pour into an 8 inch square brownie tin which is lined with baking parchment. Cut into 16 squares and chill in the fridge for an hour or so before eating.

Thanks to for the original recipe inspiration which I have adapted.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

And the winner is...

Many congratulations to Rea Halleran - who has won the pair of tickets to the Ballymaloe Garden Festival - see you there!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A GIVEAWAY that comes up smelling of roses!

Do you have a passion for roses? Then be sure to read to the end for a great giveaway... 

I make no secret of my passion for roses. Not the tight-lipped imported ones, but the big blowsy, highly scented old fashioned ones which have graced the gardens of cottages and castles for centuries. There is nothing more sensual, exotic and heavenly for me, than the scent of roses... they are my favourite flowers...

I have filled our garden with roses, light and dark pink,yellow, white... and even a rather odd lavender coloured one! But I don't celebrate them just for their visual beauty, or even their scent... but for their flavour. If you haven't discovered roses as edible magic then follow me on Pinterest and  check out my board on edible flower delights!

A couple of weeks back I shared my recipe for raspberry and rose sorbet (which resulted in a couple of friends knocking on my door asking if there was any left to sample!)

My son makes a divine rose petal lemonade. This summer I have been living off my own fairy flower tea of fresh lemon balm, rose geranium leaf and rose petals... and my favourite chocolates are... yup, you guessed it, rose creams!

Ha! I've just realised that my tea pot and tea cups and chintzy plates are all covered in roses too... ooops this is becoming a little obsessive!

I want to share my passion for roses with you in person, and offer you the chance to win a pair of tickets, to a very special event at the inaugral Ballymaloe Garden Festival in East Cork, Ireland. 

Bring a friend to hear award winning gardener, Helen Dillon, of The Dillon Garden in Dublin, & Rory O’Connell ex-head chef of Ballymaloe House for a sensual celebration of roses. Helen will talk about growing roses and Rory will talk about the many wonderful uses of roses in the kitchen. It's on Saturday August 31st from 11.30am to 12.45pm in The Grainstore, Ballymaloe House. You will also get to meet The Queen of Puddings in the flesh - that'd be me - I'll be wearing a pink rose in my lapel!!!!

The Ballymaloe Garden Festival is dedicated to sustainable gardening, and features names like Alys Fowler, Michael Kelly, Joy Larkcom and Darina Allen who will be joined by experts on rare plants to garden design, wetland systems, urban gardening, herbal medicine, through to flower arranging and watercolour painting. There will be a family friendly fringe festival of fun and food, plant stalls, and free guided tours around the Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens. Tickets for individual events are available at the doors on the day, and day passes can be purchased from The Grainstore.

Click for a complete programme of events.

To enter the GIVEAWAY you need to:
1) LIKE the Queen of Puddings page on Facebook 
2) Share this post on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest
3) Leave a comment here or on FB to let me know you've shared.

The winner will be announced next Thursday, 22nd August by midday (BST). I will give you the tickets in person at the event! Good luck!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Any Season Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

For me the quintessential taste of summer is strawberries. And the quintessential summer treat is ice cream. So this one combines the two of them, but with the added bonus that it can be made at any time of year, because it uses frozen strawberries. These are picked and frozen in their prime, so their flavour is captured at its height. I dare anyone to guess that it was made from frozen berries. My theory is - they're going to be frozen anyway, so what's the point in paying premium prices for fresh... and then have to do the work of hulling them?

This recipe was adapted from the Ballymaloe recipe which can be found in Darina Allen's book Ballymaloe Cookery Course


500g frozen strawberries
Syrup made with 250ml water and 220g sugar. Chilled in fridge for an hour.
300 ml whipping cream
1/2 juice orange and
1/2 juice lemon


Put the sugar and water in a pan, stir to dissolve over a medium heat, remove from heat just before it boils. Chill in fridge for an hour.

Whip cream to just before soft peak stage.

Blend strawberries with cool syrup, so you have a fancy looking slush puppy! There is no need to sieve this.

Fold strawberries into cream, add lemon and orange juices. It should be slushy, so actually no need for an ice cream maker - if you have one it'll improve the texture a little.

Put into freezer tub. Stir once after an hour. Ready to eat after 2-3 hours.

Heaven served garnished with scented geranium leaves, as in the picture - the perfume from them exalts the flavour sensation!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Raspberry Rose Sorbet

Summer is well and truly here, we've been basking in a heatwave for weeks now, which is unheard of for Ireland. We have been living off ice cream, and so, after years of dithering, I finally invested in an ice cream maker. And mama are we having fun with it.

This was one of our first frozen delights. An intense ruby red sorbet which taste of pure summer. The tart juiciness of raspberries, mingling with the airy floral notes of rose. A match made in heaven.

We were looking to recreate a divine raspberry sorbet that we had whilst wandering the sweltering streets of Toulouse, France, on the first day of this month. I humbly think we bettered it!


1 pack frozen raspberries (350g) (about 4 1/2 US cups)
Sugar syrup made from 1 cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon rose water.


First make the sugar syrup, by dissolving the sugar in the water in a pan, stir until fully dissolved and almost simmering.  Cool in fridge for an hour. Put the fruit in a blender, still frozen, pour over the cooled syrup and liquidise.

If the syrup is cold and raspberries frozen you should have a slush (this is very handy if you don't have an ice cream maker). Sieve. Discard pips. Add rose water, less is more, try 1/2 teaspoon first, then add more if desired. Remember it should taste over-sweet at the moment, it will seem less sweet when frozen.

Put in cream maker, (or straight in freezer tub and take out and stir once after an hour.) It should be ready to eat after 2-3 hours.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dreams of MasterChef

I am a total MasterChef fanatic. COMPLETE. I watch them all. But not having RTE, I didn't know that there was an Irish version. Long story. Somehting to do with a brand new RTE aerial sitting in our garden for the past two years.... But I digress.

So when I was on my holliers in sunny Barcelona, I smugly said I was going to do NO work. Especially not checking emails, as he scrolls through his work emails on the i -phone.

"Not even one from MasterChef?" my hubby says to me, knowing just what  fan I am. "No!" says I, "Of course I don't have one from MasterChef. You're just trying to break me. To get me to check my emails so I can't win the smugness award."

"No he says, you really do, you have an email from MasterChef Ireland."

The conversation goes backwards and forwards like this. Until he starts to read it.

"Dear Lucy..."
OMG!!!! I've won, I've won.... my brain goes... forgetting the logical bit about how I had never entered, nor been in any stage of the comp, so how could I win.

But they contacted me. Personally. To ask me, to tell you that YOU can apply for the next series. So I thought I would. Just in case you're as big a fan as me... and have a functional RTE aerial!!

Are you an amazing amateur cook with a passion for food?
Do you dream of pursuing that passion and possibly changing your life?
Have you got what it takes to impress in the MasterChef kitchen?
If so, we want to hear from you!
Don’t miss out, APPLY NOW for the chance to become the next MasterChef Ireland Champion and win a cash prize of €25,000!

Application deadline is 22nd July 2013
For more information and to apply go to:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Lucy Loves... Cupcakes

OK, let's talk cupcakes. The baking sensation which defined the noughties, turning us all from grown ups into born again children with a sprinkling of edible glitter and golden dragees.

I am not a huge fan of style-over-substance cupcakes, as you will have noticed of this blog. My decoration is sweet and simple. I know I have admitted before about my terror of piping bags! For me taste is king, but I do appreciate the artistry that goes into the most exquisite examples... though I'd feel guilty actually eating one... almost like eating someone's painting, or child... (weird, no idea where THAT came from!!)  And surely guilt is supposed to come after, not before?!

This is my red velvet with white chocolate cream cheese frosting.

On my Cupcake Heaven  Pinterest board I have plenty from both camps, from stunning peacock adorned ones, to the divine sounding Vanilla Chai with cinnamon buttercream, and the pistachio pudding ones that are on my to-do list as a matter of urgency! Do check them out and follow my board.

What is your favourite cupcake? Do you have any tips to get over my piping terror? Do share them below and inspire me!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thick and chewy American choc chip cookies

These are the real deal. Thick and satisfying. Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. And quick and easy to bake - they don't need chilling before they are baked. They are my new perfect!

I added 80g toasted chopped walnuts to the child-free half of the batch. Toasted hazelnuts or pecans would be yummy too.

These are adapted from Nigella Lawson's Kitchen. They are lower in sugar, and chocolate than hers, and use choc chunks rather than chips. And salt... Must have salt!

150g melted butter, cooled slightly
120g soft brown sugar
80g white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 fridge cold egg and 1fridge cold egg yolk
300g plain white flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
200g bar milk chocolate, chopped into chunks

Makes 24 large cookies
Preheat fan oven 160C

Pop eggs in the freezer if you don't normally keep them in the fridge.

Whilst the butter is melting (I put it in a small bowl into the preheating oven, along with the nuts on a baking tray - but keep an eye on both!)  Put the sugars in a large mixing bowl and de lump the light brown sugar by rubbing together with your fingers. Leave the butter to cool for 2-3 minutes. Pour into the bowl with the sugar and whist with an electric whisk. Then add the egg and yolk and vanilla, whisk until smooth.

Add flour, salt and sieve in bicarbonate of soda making sure there are no lumps. Fold in with a spatula. Then fold in chocolate chunks and nuts if using.

Scoop out with  an ice cream scoop onto lined baking sheets. Do NOT flatten these mounds! This should make 2 sheets of 12. Unless you have an oven where they can cook side by side it is better to bake one at a time. They also keep in the fridge uncooked for a few days. Or you can also freeze the uncooked dough, scooped out and frozen on a tray, then transfered into a bag when frozen.

Cook 15 mins. Checking every couple of minutes after 10 mins. It's better for them to be on the under, rather than over done side. Try to restrain yourself to less than 4... especially if you have been nibbling on the dough - these are addictive... you have been warned!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Buttermilk blueberry cake

Tender, light, easy as pie to make...and eat. Seems plain... Everyone had seconds and thirds.  Finished in one sitting.

Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cake Bible. Hers is a plain cake, mine builds on one that I used to love at the Stephen Pearce cafe. And it's a great way to use up spare buttermilk. It was eaten so fast I didn't get a chance to take a pic - so here's how it should look...

Image from BBC Good Food.

200g plain flour
180g caster sugar
110g butter
1 tbsp baking powder
4 egg yolks
140ml buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 punnet blueberries (120g) 1/3 reserved

150g icing sugar, perhaps more to taste and till correct texture
120g cream cheese
40g unsalted butter, very soft
Reserved blueberries

Bake for 30-40 mins at 170 c
9 inch spring form tin

Using electric whisk, whisk butter into dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients together and add slowly.
Beating all the time. Pour into lined tin. Cook till golden on top and cooked through. Cool thoroughly before icing.

To make icing beat icing sugar and butter. Carefully mix in cream cheese, do not overmix. Decorate with remaining blueberries.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

GIVE AWAY!!! Tickets to Food Blogging and Self Publishing events at LitFest this weekend!

It’s all go here, hence the quiet.

I have just submitted the manuscript for my third book to my publishers, and now this weekend we have the long-awaited Ballymaloe LitFest, all my culinary super-heroes, and me, on my backdoor step! Well OK, not literally, but almost!

So on Saturday morning I will be leading a workshop on Food Writing for the Digital Generationalongside Caroline Hennessy, co founder of the Irish Food Bloggers Association; Aoife Carrigy, freelance food journalist and lecturer and Michael Kelly, founder of GIY Ireland. So if you want to get a behind-the-scenes scoop on how blogging works, what’s hot in food writing now and ask us your questions, then do come along.

Straight after that I will be introducing Michelle Darmody of the Cake CafĂ© in Dublin who will be talking about another hot topic – What’s the Big Deal? Going the Self publishing Route. As a self-published author myself, who has transitioned to the mainstream, I will be helping to field questions from aspiring authors, so do come along and pick our brains.

I will of course have signed copies of my books available to buy!!

And as a special treat I have a pair of tickets to each event available for you to win. Leave a comment below letting me know which you want to win.

You must be able to travel to Co. Cork on Saturday for the event.
Entries close at midnight tonight, Thursday May 2nd, British Summer Time. Winners will contacted by email tomorrow morning, so be sure to choose a commenting option which provides us with your email address.
The prize is a ticket for you and a friend, for the stated event, either 
  •  Food Writing for the Digital Generation 
  • OR
  • What’s the Big Deal, Going the Self publishing Route. 

The prize does not include travel or accommodation, remember I was only joking about it being on my doorstep – I do not expect to find you outside my front door on Saturday with your suitcase in hand!!

I really look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Little Pieces of Heaven (aka mini donuts)

You know when your 7-year-old puts something into his mouth and groans "Ohhhhhhh! Pieces of heaven!" that you have just scored major mama-points!

We have had quite enough healthy baking on this blog recently. So these are full-fat donuts - no parsnip or butternut squash in sight. 

For some reason I always thought donuts were difficult. Needing yeast and rising time and specialist equipment. Which is why I was so chuffed with my earlier Instant Donut recipe. But these. These are as good as the best donuts I have ever eaten, sold by a man on the streets of Dorchester. We had some this Easter, which my daughters adored a much as me, so I know my taste memory is not dusty. These truly earn their moniker. They are nothing short of heaven.

If your only experience of donuts is shop bought jam filled. Then let me kindly and gently say: YOU HAVE NEVER LIVED UNTIL YOU HAVE EATEN A FRESH, HOT DONUT!

And these, with three kids under 8 helping were done from first weighing out, to first donut in mouth in ten minutes. 

THEY ARE SO EASY. So I demand that you try them. NOW!!!! And then come back here and kiss me!

They are adapted from The Hummingbird Cafes's latest book Home Sweet Home - they make them to go on jam filled cupcakes - I say WHY? And they roll them in cinnamon sugar - again WHY?

So here we go. After a write up like that, I now require your trust. I know what follows looks like a sloppy scone mix. It is. But holy mother of all things wonderful, it makes donuts that will take you straight to paradise.

Preheat deep fat fryer to 160 C (medium)

Makes about 16

250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp baking powder
35g cold butter cut into cubes
35g caster sugar
1 large egg
120ml full-fat milk

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Rub in the flour with your fingertips as you would making scones until there are no lumps of butter left. 
Whisk up the milk and egg in a jug with a fork. Make a well in the flour mix, pour in the milk and egg. Mix gently with a blunt knife. 
Pour onto some lightly floured baking parchment, it will be like a loose scone dough. gently squash together with your hands (coated in flour) and pat down to 1 cm thick. 
Now either use a small cutter (about 2cm across), or take heaped teaspoon sized pieces in your hands and gently roll into balls and put onto a plate. Cook in batches of 6-8. Put them in using a spatula or deep frying implement with holes in. They take about 2 minutes on each side, you need to turn them over half way. Cook  till golden.
Take them out and drain for 1 minute on kitchen paper, before tossing in a bowl of 100g caster sugar. 

Eat and enjoy! These do not keep and must be eaten within a couple of hours, but preferably when still warm!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hot Cross Buns... with a side of Food Blogging Events

I have no time for baking I'm afraid, real life is FAR too busy... Oh except for Hot Cross Buns! How I love that seasonal treat - it's so special to make something just once a year in these times when nothing is that sacred. I couldn't find my normal recipe (from Margaret Costa's Four Seasons Cookbook, so decided to try) - and of course adapt - I just can't help myself! - Nigella's from her Feast book, that I had photocopied many years ago. You'll have to wait till next year for me to share them!! But here's a pic to whet your appetite!

I am just finishing off my third book, The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood  and will be sending it off to the publishers at the end of the month (you can see an extract from it this week over on my personal blog, Dreaming Aloud) so you'll have to excuse my relative quiet here at the mo.

But that's not all, oh no!

I have been helping Darina Allen with her blog prior to the Ballymaloe LitFest of Food and Wine which is almost upon us.

I will be on a panel on Food Writing for the Digital Generation at the LitFest, alongside Caroline Hennessy, co-founder of the Irish Food Bloggers, Michael Kelly, founder of Grow Your Own Ireland, and Aoife Carrigey of Holy Mackerel. I will also be answering questions in the next session which is all about self publishing, sonething which I've been immersed in for nearly two years now!

Then, on 18th May I will be teaching Food Blogging at Ballymaloe Cookery School - this half day course is perfect for those wanting to start out, and those who have recently started but are wanting to grow their blog.

And finally I am delighted to share that a piece of my food writing, The Taste of Cherry Blossom, has been accepted for BlogHer's new anthology entitled Roots: Where Food Comes from and Where it Takes Us, which this time focuses on Food and Traditions. It will be launched at their June conference in Chicago!

Busy times!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Soft Soul-warming Ginger Cake

It is wild and windy outside with horizontal rain. It feels more like November than March - can you believe it's nearly Easter?! I was in need of something soul-warming, and body-warming, and this ginger cake did the trick. And I love it twice as much because it's a one pot cake - there's something very satisfying about having minimal washing up after baking!

It's really soft and springy and light as a feather, surprising for so little raising agent. It's quite different to  my  more sticky, solid Jamaican Ginger cake, that I like to eat with butter - that one improves with a couple of days wrapped in foil to mature, whereas this is heaven hot from the tin. You could ice this with a simple lemon water icing if you want, as Nigella suggests in her original recipe which I adapted heavily form How to be a Domestic Goddess, but I prefer without  - and to be honest, there's way to much sugar in it to start with!

150g butter
100g dark muscavado sugar
200g golden syrup
170g black treacle
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp dried ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
250ml full fat milk
3 medium eggs, briefly beaten
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda dissolved in the milk
300 g plain flour

Preheat oven to 160 C fan.
1 swiss roll/ brownie tin (25x 15) and one large loaf tin. Or a roasting tin 30x20 (in which case you may need to cook it an extra 10 mins) lined with baking parchment.

Melt the butter, syrup, treacle, sugar, gingers and cinnamon over  a low heat. When melt removed from heat and stir in the milk and bicarb, then eggs, and finally flour. It will be a very runny batter. Pour into the lined tins and cook for 30-45 mins until light and springy, and a skewer comes out clean. Keep an eye on it after 20 mins to be sure it doesn't catch on top.

Delicious warm but keeps very well for 10 days.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Banana Coconut Cake

This cake originated from a Pinterest find from Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body. Just the idea of banana and coconut milk together sent me back to my days (pre-kids) of travelling round South East Asia where bananas and coconut milk were a staple dessert - either with tapioca, or as fritters or pancakes.

I loved the idea of the recipe, but the original one didn't quite work for me with the jarring note of almond essence. So this version I have created takes me back to South East Asia - with the soft brown sugar to remind me of the jaggery, so often used in Thai cooking - helping to add an even fudgier texture. I am going to try it next time with the grated zest of a lime in to up the tropical feel one more level!

Preheat oven to 160C (fan)
Line a 2 lb (large) loaf tin with a baking parchment liner.


3 very ripe bananas mashed
1 cup full fat coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup soft brown sugar
1/2 cup sunflower oil
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup dessicated coconut (unsweetened)

Mash the bananas well and mix in the coconut milk and vanilla. Mix together the oil and sugar with a non electric whisk, add in the eggs, and the dry ingredients, then pour over the banana mix. Mix until combined (it will be quite a runny batter).

Pour in the tin and bake for 50 mins - 1 hour. Check after 25 mins, if it is browning too fast then cover with some foil. It is ready when a skewer comes out clean.

Monday, February 18, 2013

White choc and raspberry blondies (the only butter in them is butternut squash)

I've tried a number of recipes from the super incredible Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache cookbook which specialises in vegetable cakes: parsnip vanilla fudge, chocolate aubergine cake and two sorts of butternut squash cupcakes- one flavoured with orange and the other with ginger. All have gone down swimmingly well with adults and kids alike. No one can believe they are butter free and packed with veggies.  Oh, and gluten free too!!

There has only been one not great recipe - an orange, almond and saffron sand cake. It was very, very gritty.

But today's blondies (think squidgy brownie texture but no blonde, not dark!) were out of this world. I am not even going to try to share them with my kids! They are mine, all mine. Think a blondie, mated with bakewell tart, with a heady whiff of cinnamon.

I know, I couldn't quite get my head round them and nearly left out the cinnamon - it's not a natural bedfellow with raspberries and white chocolate. But please, just trust it!

The recipe is Harry Eastwood's but I have upped the chocolate and flaked almonds, and slightly downed the raspberries as round here they come in punnets of 125g.

Preheat oven to 180C (fan).
Line and lightly grease a 22cm square brownie tin.

3 medium eggs
120g caster sugar
250g peeled, finely grated butternut squash, no seeds!!
50g rice flour
100g ground almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
150g white chocolate chopped into chunks.
125g punnet of fresh raspberries
40g flaked almonds

Whisk the sugar and eggs until quadrupled in volume and pale. Add in the finely grated squash, flour, ground almonds, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Whisk briefly to combine. Pour 2/3 of the mixture into the tin. Sprinkle over the white chocolate and raspberries. Pour the rest of the batter over, push down any raspberries and choc chunks so they are submerged and don't burn. Sprinkle ove rthe flaked almonds.

Bake for 25 mins until risen and golden brown. Keep an eye on it to make sure the nuts don't burn.

Cool in the tin for about 15 mins before cutting into 16. Delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Butternut Orange Cupcakes

OK, OK, you've been wheedling me for the recipe. So I'm sharing it in my own words.

But I need you to be clear it comes, unadulterated, from Harry Eastwood's superb book Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache. So try it. Love it. And then go straight out and buy the book! She has put a LOT of work into developing it.

These are gluten free. And butter and dairy free too if you change the butter icing for a water icing (icing sugar made into a paste with the orange juice).

Makes 12 regular size muffins

Cupcake mix

2 medium eggs
160 g caster sugar
200g butternut squash
2 tsp baking powder
100g rice flour (NOT ground rice)
100g ground almonds
1/4 tsp salt
juice and zest of 1 orange

200g icing (confectioners) sugar
75g soft unsalted butter
juice and zest of 1 orange

Preheat oven to 180C. Fill a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Using an electric whisk, beat the eggs and sugar together for 5 mins until light, creamy and quadrupled in size.

Peel the butternut squash, this uses about one third of an average size one. Remove the stringy bits and the seeds. Then start grating. By hand. Do not use a food processor. Use the finest holes on your normal box grater or Cuisipro grater. This will take some time! Do not do it in advance or it will dry out, and you need the moisture.

Add to the egg mix, along with the other ingredients. Using a spatula stir until fully incorporated.

Spoon into the paper cases and cook for 20 mins. They are ready when risen and golden. Check after 15 mins.

Leave to cool fully before icing. At least 30 mins in a cool place.

Make the icing by whisking the butter and sugar with an electric whisk. Add all the zest, and as much juice as you can, without making it too runny. Ice and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Vegetable Cupcakes

Eating the warm, orange scented cupcake marked a milestone. A bizarre claim for a  humble cupcake. But this was no ordinary cupcake. No ma'am, it was my portal to a new world. The world of vegetable cakes!

So I have finally moved from admiring this year's favourite Christmas present, Harry Eastwood's Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache, a book full of gluten free, low fat, vegetable based cakes (see my review here) --to actually making them! That's one giant leap for womankind!

I have found it hard to get my head around them. You see, I have a weird phobia... There's lots of things that I love to eat but won't cook: chicken liver pate, seaweed dishes, and the latest addition to this list: cakes made from parsnip, turnip and aubergine. Because if I knew what was in there, then my head and taste buds would be doing battle.

And so I took a risk. Butternut based orange cup cakes. Sounds weird, right?

Grating the butternut was the downside, 20 mins hard graft on my lousy box grater (she advises doing it by hand, not in a food processor). The mix looked odd going into the cases. But coming out was fragrant and golden. Pure orange cake, nothing dodgy.

These got a universal thumbs up from assorted mamas and fussy kiddies from 2-8 year olds. No one guessed their secret. And with no butter, only two eggs and no wheat flour were nutritionally far superior to our normal cupcake recipe. Want the recipe? Then here it is!

My neighbour was so impressed, we're going to bake something together from the book next week- so we can share the grating!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Jamaican Ginger Cake

Who can resist the warm, dark stickiness of a traditional ginger cake? I find it impossible to eat less than half a loaf! I was brought up on the shop bought variety, and always presumed they would not be repeatable at home. How wrong I was. This is simplicity itself to make: melt down the sugars and butter, before stirring in the flour. As someone who has to avoid chocolate for long period because of migraines, this cake is as close as you can get to replacing the sticky goo of a great chocolate cake. It doesn't have much butter in the recipe, nor does it have an icing. So I make up for that scandalous lack of fat calories but slathering it richly in golden salty butter. This is one of those cakes that gets better after a couple of days wrapped in foil. That's if you can resist it hot out of the oven.

This recipe is adapted from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's supreme book: Everyday, which I have been cooking my way through this winter.

Preheat oven to 180C

75 g butter
100g dark brown sugar
200g golden syrup
2 tbsp the syrup from a jar of preserved stem ginger and a little more reserved for later
75 ml dark or spiced rum (I used Captain Morgans)
2 medium eggs lightly beaten
225g self raising flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
75 g preserved stem ginger (in syrup), finely chopped.

1 large loaf tin (2lbs/ 1 litre) lined with baking parchment.

Melt the butter, syrups and sugar gently in a pan. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little. Then stir in the rum, eggs and flour.

Pour into the tin and cook for 40-50mins. Check regularly after 20 mins and if it is looking like the top is getting too dark, cover it with foil. It is cooked when a skewer comes out clean.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Lucy loves...Sublime Cakes on Pinterest

Have you been bitten by the Pinterest bug?

 Me? I'm well and truly smitten! Its become my first port of call for recipes recently, my recipe books are sitting forlorn and lonely on their shelf in the kitchen gathering dust. I am a total magpie! And the best thing about Pinterest. It doesn't cost a penny... Nor does it put any inches on your hips!

Let me share some of my favourite boards with you. Starting with: Sublime Cakes... the board title says it all really!

Here I have a host of beauties stacked up ready to try:
Pistachio baklava cake
Pistachio Baklava Cake from 

Persian Love Cake
Get a load of that Persian Love Cake from

Pistachio Olive Oil Cake with Fig Compote Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting
Pistachio Olive Oil Cake with a Fig Compote from

Apple Spice Cake with Caramel Icing, Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake, Butterscotch Mascarpone Cake... I have to stop, I'm dribbling all over the keyboard!

So do check them out here and follow me! 

I'll be sharing more of my favourite boards over the coming weeks!


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