Saturday, March 19, 2011

Delicious Carrot Cake thanks to @sophiemichell!

I have had such  a busy week which involved a wedding, a surprise 40th birthday party, St Patricks day and a joint 3rd/26th birthday party!  So hard to find the time to keep my blog updated but I  will always get around to posting my recipes eventually!
This carrot cake was so delicious that i made it two days in a row for two different parties.  I came across the recipe while watching @sophiemichell on Market Kitchen and it looked so scrumptious I had to try it.
The cinnamon syrup that goes with it is divine and although the cake is supermoist anyways the syrup adds another gooey dimension!


100gr sultanas
1 orange (juice only)
250ml sunflower oil
225gr muscovado sugar
3 large eggs
1 orange (zest only)
250gr carrots grated
225gr self raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Pecan halves to decorate


150gr mascarpone cheese
1 orange (zest only)
1 1/2 tsp orange juice
50gr icing sugar

Cinnamon syrup

220gr sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick

  • Preheat oven to 180c. Grease and line two sandwich tins.
  • Put the sultanas and orange juice in a small pot and bring to a simmer, leave for few minutes so sultanas absorb most of the juice then set aside to cool.
  • Whisk the oil and muscavado sugar together to combine then whisk in eggs one at a time.
  • Stir in the orange zest, carrots and drained sultanas.
  • Sift the flour, cinnamon, ginger and a large pinch of salt over the mixture and fold in.
  • Divide mixture between the two tins and bake for 25 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.
  • Leave in tin for ten minutes before removing onto wire racks to cool.
For the icing
  • Beat all the ingredients together until smooth.
  • Sandwich the two cakes using one third of the mixture and spread remaining on top.
  • Decorate with the pecans
For the cinnamon syrup
  • Place all ingredients in a pot with 250ml of water and stir over low heat until sugar is melted.  Simmer gently until mixture thickens, set aside.

Drizzle over with cinnamon syrup just before slicing.  It was absolutely gorgeous, definitely going to be one that i bake over and over again! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nuts about Nuts!

After reading @EnglishMums blog all about the delicious food she had ate in Mexico i could not get the idea of peanuts in a dessert out of my head! Once again i turned to Rachel Allen and her lovely recipe for Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies! These beauties are so easy to make and went down a treat after the savoury tart.


125g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g soft butter
150g crunchy peanut butter
175g light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g white chocolate, chopped


Preheat oven to 170c
Butter a 8 x 8 inch cake tin
Sift flour and baking powder
In a large bowl cream the butter and peanut butter together till very soft
Add the sugar, egg and vanilla extract and beat.
Add the flour, baking powder and chopped chocolate to form a dough
Place dough in tin and bake for 25-30 min until firm in centre
Lick bowl clean, :-)
Allow to cool in tin before cutting into squares.

I served them with home made vanilla ice cream and there was silence at the table till we were all done!

Ladies (term used loosely) Who Lunch! :-)

Since moving to Offaly almost four years ago I am lucky to have met a lovely circle of friends who all have small kids like me and we love getting together during the week to have a chat, a moan or a laugh together! It was my turn to have lunch at my house this week and i love making new things for us to try.  One of my friends is a lifelong vegetarian so i always love coming across a tasty meat free recipe that we can all enjoy.  I love browsing through my cookbooks and i came across a lovely recipe for Spinach, Potato and Goats Cheese Tart in Rachel Allens 'Bake' so i thought i would give it a bash with a few modifications!  I tried her shortcrust pastry recipe but was not happy with the end result so i went back to my usual tried and trusted savoury pastry and it was delicious!

Shortcut Pastry (enough for 2 tarts so freeze half)

500g Plain flour
250g cubed butter
Good pinch of salt
2 large eggs (beaten)
Splash of milk

Rub flour and butter together to resemble breadcrumbs.
Add salt.
Add beaten eggs and splash of milk to bring dough together.
Pat into sausage shape and place in fridge for 30 mins.
Preheat oven to 180c.
Cut slivers of pastry to line removeable base tart tin.
Bake blind in oven for 20 mins.


250g baby spinach
7 baby new potatoes
4 eggs
250ml double cream
Salt & pepper
Zest of 1/2 lemon
150g goats cheese
Few sundried tomatoes

Cook the spinach in tiny drop of water until it wilts, drain in sieve and allow to cool slightly.
Boil potatoes until just done and allow to cool so you can slice them each into four.
Whisk the eggs and add the cream, salt, pepper and the lemon zest. Whisk briefly.
Add the spinach and mix through.
Spread the potatoes over tart base and dot with the goats cheese.
Pour over cream mixture.
Place sundried tomatoes on top.
Bake for 35-40 mins till set in centre.
Leave to cool in tin for 10 mins before serving.

I served this with mixed salad leaves and leftover sundried tomatoes and it was gorgeous!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mammy Knows Best!!

When i was a child i always remember my mothers baking.  There were no fancy cakes or meringues but solid home cooking probably like the majority of other homes.  Apple tarts, fairy buns, fruit scones, victoria sponges, fruit soda bread were all regulars on the menu and of course the irish mammy special, brown bread!  My kids love buns and i have tried countless recipes but i always come back to my mams recipe because it is so easy and quick and only uses four ingredients, five if you want the chocolate version which is compulsory with my sons and husband! This is exactly the recipe you need if you dont want to go shopping specifically for ingredients as they are all store cupboard favourites.

Easy Chocolate Muffins (makes 18)

8 oz margarine
8 oz caster sugar
4 eggs
10 oz self raising flour
1 oz cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 180c.
Cream the margarine and sugar together then add one egg at a time and mix. 
Sieve flour and cocoa powder and mix lightly into wet mixture.
Spoon into muffin cases and bake in oven for 15/20 mins till skewer comes out clean.

Healthy (ish) Treat!

Like almost every woman i know i am rarely happy with my weight.  My thighs are always too squashy or my face too pudgy looking.  I am in process of losing baby weight and thankfully another 8lbs or so and i will regard myself as back to 'normal', whatever normal is! It is a constant struggle for me though but since having a baby daughter my views have changed regarding food as i know this little woman is going to be watching and copying everything i do and i want to set a good example.  It would have never been a problem for me to indulge in several buns or three slices of lovely calorie laden cake but now i limit myself to one portion of whatever i bake.  I would be racked with guilt before but now i know i can enjoy a slice and really savour it.  I just hope i can continue this way of thinking.....

I came across this recipe in the April edition of Easy Food magazine and i decided to try it, if you dont like bananas stop reading now as the flavour is very much dominated by them!

Banana Oatmeal Cookies

3 bananas mashed
120gr porridge oats
90gr raisins
75gr butter, melted
70ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180c.  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes till oats plump up.  Spoon onto a baking tray and bake for 15-20 mins.  Put on wire rack to cool.  Enjoy with lovely fresh coffee! Yummy banana goodness and ignoring the butter almost guilt free!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sweet Tooth!!

My mother is a great woman, she is 77 years of age and she acts like a young one! She loves coming to visit and spends her time playing with the kids, playing football, scooter races, on the trampoline (which i am sure is a health and safety issue!). She will try anything!!  I love when she comes because it gives me an excuse to bake some treats as she like me, loves anything sweet!

I decided to make a tart based banoffee pie.  I decided on a tart base purely because of the novelty of my new tin, sad i know! Banoffee is such an easy dessert but oh so tasty and even my husband who would rather eat a shop bought swiss roll than home baking enjoyed it! (My baking skills are wasted on this man but i live in hope that he will eventually appreciate them, :-D)

The best sweet shortcrust pastry recipe i have ever come across is Jamie Olivers and literally takes minutes by hand.

Ingredients for 2 tart cases (save one for another day)

9oz butter
7oz icing sugar
pinch of salt
1lb of plain flour
Zest of 1 lemon
Seeds from vanilla pod
4 egg yolks
2-4 tbsp of cold milk

Cream the butter, icing sugar and salt then rub in flour, vanilla seeds, lemon zest and egg yolks till it resembles bread crumbs, add milk to form dough. Pat to form a ball, touching it as little as possible.  Put in fridge for at least an hour wrapped in clingfilm.  After an hour cut into thin slices and place in a removeable base tart tin, press together to tidy. Put in freezer for at least an hour before baking in an 180c oven.  No need to place dried beans in it if it is frozen.  After 15 mins it should be lovely and golden, remove and cool on wire rack.


I tin of condensed milk, boiled into toffee sauce
500 ml of whipping cream
2/3 bananas
2 Crunchie bars

The pastry is definitely the main bulk of the work done.  I always boil up a couple of tins of condensed milk at a time as toffee sauce is so handy to have in the press, just make sure your pot does not boil dry as that will for sure end in disaster!  When tart base is cool, smear on the tin of toffee sauce all over base, slice up 2 or 3 bananas and place on toffee then lightly whip up some cream and spoon on top.  After reading Donal Skehans blog i decided to mash up a crunchie bar and place on top of the cream and it was DELICIOUS.  At this point i have to admit to a new experience of licking a pestle, most definitely a low point in my diet!!!

It went down a treat, clear plates from everyone!  My mother has just gone home on the train with the leftovers carefully placed in her bag!

All suggestions welcome on other tart recipes, maybe something chocolatey the next time!