Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Fresh Blueberry Squares

These blueberry squares are light, sweet and luscious. They make for a wonderful breakfast, dessert accompanied by cream or an afternoon snack with your tea/coffee. The recipe is from yet another of my newest books (yep courtesy of Amazon), The New Good Cake Book by Diana Dalsass. A book full of mouth-watering recipes, from sumptuous cakes to reduced-fat cakes and sections on biscotti, bar cakes, and cakes for special occasions. The only down-side to this book is the lack of photos but the recipes are simple and sometimes I like the idea of picturing in my head what a cake will look like as I read the recipe!

Fresh Blueberry Squares

¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened

3 eggs (large)
1 cup sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 ¾ cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups blueberries, rinsed and dried

To make the topping. In a small bowl, using your fingertips, mix together all the topping ingredients until crumbly. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350oF/180oC.

Grease and flour a 9” x 13” baking pan.

To make the cake, in a large bowl, beat the eggs. Gradually beat in the sugar until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Beat in the melted butter, then the vanilla and buttermilk.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the egg mixture, stirring until the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the blueberries over the batter. Sprinkle the topping over the berries.

Bake the cake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool. Once cooled cut into squares.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Baked Chicken with Cashew Nut Rice

Tonights meal consisted of oven baked seasoned chicken breast with an all time family favourite of cashew nut rice. This rice dish has so many wonderfully combined flavours, such as turmeric, ginger, coriander, cayenne pepper and lemon. What I love about making this dish is after an initial simmering of 15 minutes, the dish is finished off baked in the oven for 30 minutes, leaving me some time to sit back and catch up on blogging or the afternoon tv soaps. This rice is very versatile, personally I have used it as a stuffing for chicken, hot side dish and is just as nice served cold for a buffet/BBQ.

Cashew Nut Rice

2 tbsp olive oil (I only use 1 tbsp)
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 medium red (bell) pepper, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, crushed
125g/1/2 cup basmati rice
350ml/1 1/2 cups hot chicken stock
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 ground coriander
pinch of cayenne pepper
90g/1/2 cup salted cashew nuts

Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion, red pepper and garlic and cook gently for 4-5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil. Add the stock, bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients to the rice. Season well. Spoon the rice into a greased ovenproof dish and cover with foil.

Bake in a preheated oven 190oC/375oF/Gas mark 5, for 30 minutes and serve.

Apple Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting

There is nothing better than the post man delivering a package from Amazon with new and exciting cookbooks. This morning I was the lucky recipient of such a package, after my latest instalment of Amazon late night shopping! One of the books I received is Bars & Squares more than 200 recipes by Jill Snider and where I found this great recipe. The book is packed full of recipe after recipe of amazing sweet delights, it is definitely a book that will encourage you to get in the kitchen and bake. I have already seen so many recipes that I want to try but this recipe really caught my attention, blondies with apples just sounded amazing and brown sugar frosting!! Who could resist? I am sure they are going to be a big hit in our home.

Apple Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting


2/3 cup butter, softened

2 cups packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup chopped peeled apples

3/4 cup chopped walnuts (i did not add nuts)

1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Brown Sugar Frosting:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup milk or cream

2 cups confectioner's sugar


In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture on low speed, mixing until blended. Stir in apples, cinnamon and nuts, mixing well. Spread evenly in greased 9x13 pan.Bake in Preheated oven at 350 degrees until set and golden, 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on rack.

Brown Sugar Frosting:

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring mixture just to a boil then remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm. Stir in the confectioner's sugar, mixing until smooth. Spread evenly over bar. Let stand until frosting is firm enough to cut. Cut into bars or squares.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Marbled Banana Bundt Cake

I wanted to share this pic of my beautiful Madison sleeping, he has such a purr-fect life!

I walked into the kitchen this morning and took one look at the ripe bananas in the fruit bowl and they were screaming out, Banana Cake! I had some sour cream in the fridge too so I decided to search online for a cake combining both ingredients, it didn’t take me long and I found this yummy recipe on Baking Bites. I love Bundt cakes; they make an everyday plain cake look elegant and perfect for this marbled effect cake! The cake has a light moist texture, from the wonderful combination of the sour cream and bananas, with the chocolate adding even more of a perfect balance of flavours. This is definitely a great cake to whip up when ripe bananas are screaming to be used.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Fudge Granola Bars

I recently became the lucky owner of The Best of Better Baking.com Book by Marcy Goldman (thanks to Amazon!). The book features 175 recipes, all fail-safe and each one delicious. I came across the recipe for Fudge Granola Bars and immediately was mesmerized by the long list of wonderful ingredients, only imagining what a delicious granola bar would be born. I couldn’t have been more right, I’ve made granola bars before but these are really something special! The only ingredient I was missing was sesame seeds but nonetheless these bars are so more-ish and filling but best of all they are full of fudgy chocolate goodness!

Fudge Granola Bars

Makes 12-16 bars

½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
⅓ cup honey
⅓ cup of firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups granola
5 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, chopped
½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup chopped dates or dried cranberries
⅓ cup chocolate-covered raisins
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
⅔ cup whole pecans
2 ½ ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 350oF/180oC. Line the bottom of a 7 by 11-inch brownie pan or a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper and spray the paper with non-stick cooking spray. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir the butter, honey, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla together. Stir in the granola, chopped chocolate, coconut, dates/cranberries, raisins, cinnamon, salt, cocoa, flour, sesame seeds, and pecans until blended. Pat the mixture into the prepared pan. Place the pan on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake on the lower shelf of the oven for 20-24 minutes, or until the top seems set, the edges seem dry, and the centre is just a bit jiggly. Let cool completely on a wire rack, then freeze or refrigerate for 1 hour. Cut into squares. Drizzle with melted chocolate and let the chocolate set (or refrigerate to set the chocolate).

Monday, 12 May 2008

I Love You This Much Award!

I have been passed on this really lovely award from my special friend Rosie from Rosie Bakes a Peace of Cake. Thank you so much Rosie, I'm so touched and I love you just as much! You've been a really good friend to me and I can always count on you. If you have not had the pleasure of visiting Rosie's blog then I urge you to pay a visit, she is one very creative, talented lady! Her cakes and bakes will have you drooling.

In my eyes everyone who takes time to visit my blog and leave such kind comments is worthy, so please feel free to add this award to your blog as a token of my affection for your time! I am choosing the following blogs:
Gigi at Gigi Cakes

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Biscuity Lime Pie

Looks like summer has arrived and with that arrives BBQ season! This evening we are having our first BBQ of the year, with my father in law coming over. I know he loves his cakes and desserts and although I have been suffering with a cold and generally feeling run down this week, I didn’t want to let him down and not have a home-baked dessert waiting for him. I remember coming across this recipe a while back on the BBC Good Food website, perfect for a quick and easy dessert when short on time and energy. This pie has a wonderful mixture of a ginger nut biscuit base, combined with a zingy citrus topping to get your taste buds tingling. I have a feeling my father in law won’t be leaving this evening without a doggie bag (Tupperware).
I have linked the recipe below!

Biscuity Lime Pie

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Blueberry-Buttermilk Bundt Cake

Why is it when you need a recipe including a given ingredient, in my case today with buttermilk you can never find one? I had a pot of buttermilk sitting in the fridge that needed using by the end of today and hating to see food go to waste I set about hunting down a recipe. My friend Google helped me in my search and it came up with this wonderful recipe from Epicurious. Whilst reading the list of ingredients and the reviews I knew this was the one. The cake was easy and quick to make and not much preparation involved, which was ideal for me as this cake was a last minute decision after having a busy day with dinner yet to be made. I did however have a little baking disaster, (sure won’t be the last) and I should have gone with instincts but my excitement took over. I took the cake out of the pan as instructed in the recipe but only to find this was the wrong decision. A combination of still too warm and a ring of blueberries close to the surface making the sponge break away on removal of the tin!! The cake itself is a gorgeous light fluffy moist cake with a lot of flavour and I will definitely be making this cake again. But will not make the same mistake next time. If you would like to re-create this delicious cake, the link for the recipe is below.

Blueberry-Buttermilk Bundt Cake

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Banana Chocolate Flapjacks

Finally looks like summer has arrived and gone are the wet miserable days. I spent a lot of time in my garden this bank holiday weekend, enjoying the warm sunny weather whilst hubby done gardening. So it seems like ages since I last did any baking. This morning I decided to bake another favourite flapjack recipe, Banana Flapjacks with dark choc chips. These flapjacks are not as chewy but moister due to the banana, giving these a different but lovely texture. If you have any bananas going ripe in the fruit bowl, these are the perfect excuse to do some easy, simple and quick baking!

Banana Flapjacks

125g unsalted butter

85g light muscovado sugar

2 tablespoons golden syrup

350g porridge oats

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 medium-sized ripe bananas, mashed

100g dark choc chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and lightly butter a 23 x 33cm/9 x 13 in swiss roll tin (I used a 23cm/9inch square cake tin and lined it with baking paper).Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a bowl in the microwave (or in a pan over a very low heat), then tip in the oats, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Once combined, stir into the bananas and combine well (add choc chips and combine), then tip into the prepared tin, smoothing the surface with the back of a metal spoon.Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are turning golden brown and it feels fairly firm all over.Remove and cut into bars while hot, then leave in the tin until cold before transferring to a wire rack.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Introducing Sweet and Simple Bakes

Sweet and Simple Bakes is a new and exciting blog that has been started by Rosie from Baking Cakes Galore and myself. Our blog will be aimed at newbie bakers or bakers who just love to bake and want to participate in the fun each month. If you would like to be part of our new venture please visit Sweet and Simple Bakes for more details. Hope to see you there!