ForeverNigella #22 Food To Cherish Your Loved Ones- Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes


Hi!  This is the very first time I have linked up with the Forever Nigella online blog hop and I think it is a fab idea.  This month’s Forever Nigella is hosted by Recipe Junkie and The Attack of the Custard Creams and is organised by Sarah of MaisonCupcake.

I was intrigued to know what Forever Nigella was as I looked through my Twitter feed the other week and just had to investigate. As a huge Nigella fan who has all of her recipe books, I was keen to have a go at taking part in the hop!

These chocolate cherry cupcakes are a gorgeous decadent treat for adults and children alike.
These chocolate cherry cupcakes are a gorgeous decadent treat for adults and children alike.

This month’s theme is “Food To Cherish Your Loved Ones” and I admit I found it difficult to choose one recipe. I first stumbled upon Nigella when her Domestic Goddess book was published a few years back. My children were still very young then and I found the book was a comfort to me, enabling me to bake food I loved for the ones I loved at a time when my confidence was at an all time low. By baking I felt as if I was actually achieving something worthy, that not only my immediate family liked but others did too.  They were fairly simple to decorate and I loved the fact that they looked expensive, decadent and classy but without too much decoration.  Over the years I have baked this recipe time and time again for coffee mornings, for family and for friends.

My well spattered and messy copy of Nigella's  "How To Be A Domestic Goddess"
My well spattered and messy copy of Nigella’s “How To Be A Domestic Goddess”

As soon as I decided to bake the Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes for the blog hop I thought, great, that’s fine I have all the ingredients in.  Nigella’s recipe also specifies natural glace cherries, which sadly I did not have. I had the garish retro red ones but at least they were cherries even though I prefer the natural ones!  I only had to buy in a jar of Morello cherry jam when I was out shopping.  As the jam itself was well over £2 for a 300g jar this is not a cheap recipe to make but it is worth it for a special occasion.  It also requires real plain melted chocolate and double cream so it does bump up the cost, unfortunately.

I decided to bake the chocolate cupcakes on Tuesday afternoon after I had finished all my other jobs and walked my dog.  It was a miserable, wet afternoon and I just longed to be back in my kitchen with my apron on.  On went the oven and out came the cupcake cases.  Nigella’s photo in the book shows her chocolate cupcakes to perfection with plain white cases.  I had a look in my box and had some union jack muffin cases which I had bought in a pack from Waitrose a couple of weeks ago.  I thought they would contrast perfectly against the dark chocolate colour.

Once these were ready, I got out the ingredients.  I did not melt my chocolate and butter in a glass bowl over a simmering pan of water but instead melted them in the microwave, checking every 20 seconds. This worked well for me. While I was nipping backwards and forwards to the microwave I weighed out the other ingredients: self raising flour, sugar. baking powder, free range eggs and finally folding in a whole jar of morello cherry jam!  This gave the cupcake mixture an unusual lilac colour which was gorgeous. Sadly it didn’t stay that colour for long as I then folded in the chocolate and butter mixture.  It smelt heavenly and didn’t take long to mix up.

Meanwhile, while this was going on, my two children had arrived in off the school bus and were desperate to know what I was baking. I told them I was making chocolate cherry cupcakes and they immediately said “Can we have one?”. The plan was to give my husband and two children a cupcake each and the other 9 in the batch would be taken into work the following day to share with my work colleagues.  Sadly my children would have to wait until they had baked, had cooled and iced before they could eat one.

The cupcakes were then put into the oven and I then started prepping some veg for tea and putting washing away upstairs.  The cupcakes were due to take 20-25 minutes in the oven but I checked after 20 as my fan oven can be on the quick side. They were fine so out they came and onto a cooling rack.  While they were cooling I made the icing which was like a chocolate ganache.  It was simply plain chocolate and double cream heated together.  It smelled gorgeous and I couldn’t resist taking a mouthful from a teaspoon!

Once the cupcakes were cooled I got on with the decorating. I had to work quickly before the chocolate set on the cupcakes and then added a whole cherry to each one.  I had rinsed the cherries first though.

Nigella's chocolate cherry cupcakes as baked from her recipe in "How To Be A Domestic Goddess"
Nigella’s chocolate cherry cupcakes as baked from her recipe in “How To Be A Domestic Goddess”

Once the cakes were decorated I thought they might be a great idea for a Comic Relief fundraiser as the cherries reminded me of red noses!

I’m pleased to say the cupcakes went down well at work and also my family tucked into them. As I’m on a diet (again) I kept away but maybe next time eh?

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Apricot Flapjacks

A couple of weeks ago I was intrigued to find a new series of cookbooks in my local supermarket.  As someone who cannot go to the shop without coming home with a magazine or yet another cookbook, I was delighted to see two little books on special offer for 99p featuring everyday brands that are in everyone’s storecupboards.  The books in question were from the brand new series “Best Loved Recipes” which takes one branded product per book and bases 30 recipes around this product.

The publisher of this series is Hachette, who say “With the Best Loved Recipe Collection those kitchen favourites are transformed into delicious dishes you will want to make time and time again,”

Their website also states :

  • 30 superb recipes in each book.
  • Each issue comes with a hardback pocket size book.
  • Each recipe is clearly laid out.
  • Mouthwatering photographs
  • The recipes are simple, yet delicious to make.

The first two books in the series which sold for a special introductory price of 99p were incredible value and featured Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.  The books were wrapped up in packaging so it was very difficult to see what recipes were featured in the books until you had bought them already!

Once I had unpacked my shopping I settled down to look at the books and to be honest I had mixed feelings about it.  The book’s title is “30 best loved recipes” but upon looking at the books it was clear that not all 30 recipes were recipes at all, merely serving suggestions.  I don’t call Fruity Breakfast Porridge  or Crumpets with golden syrup a recipe.  In the Dairy Milk book as one of my friends on Twitter pointed out, there was a recipe for Dairy Milk covered pretzels (which you can already buy in packets!)

Having said that, though I was impressed with most of the other recipes and being as I use Dairy Milk and Lyles Golden syrup a lot in my baking, I was glad of some more recipes to add to the repetoire and there were some different and unusual ideas.

Last week I was able to buy the third and fourth titles in the series at the standard price of £2.99 each, which I didn’t think was too bad a price. These were for McVities digestive biscuits and for Cathedral City Cheddar.

However, as a lover of using McVities digestive biscuits broken up in Rocky Road or crushed as a cheesecake base I was delighted to see some more recipe ideas of how to use them in baking.  Even so, to call the book “30 Best Loved Recipes” was stretching it a bit thin- a digestive biscuit with a glass of milk or with a piece of cheese is NOT a recipe!  I will be trying out the Digestive Cupcakes and the Lemon Slices though.  The Cathedral City book was also interesting although I did laugh out loud at the idea of melted cheese on top of chips!  I do like the idea of the scones and the cheese stars though.

Will I persevere with the rest of the series?  Yes, I would like to see what is coming up next, If it is a product I have in my cupboard then I will buy the book, if not, then no.  I believe there will be  Bonne Maman Jam , Smarties and Nutella books coming up to name a few.  Wonder what the Nutella one will have in it? Nutella on toast perhaps?

Anyway, as I like to try out all the recipe books I buy I had to get down and bake something from one of the Best Loved books that I’d bought so far. I decided on baking the Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Apricot Flapjacks.

The recipe itself was a simple one and ideal for a beginner in the kitchen or something to bake with the kids. I didn’t want anything too taxing as I’d had a busy day and wanted to make something quick that the children could have a piece of when they came in starving from school!

All I had to do was gently melt butter, demerera sugar and the Lyles Golden Syrup in a pan.  When this had melted I mixed in some rolled oats, chopped dried apricots, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds altogether until well combined.

Finally the mixture was pressed down into a greased and lined square loose bottomed tin and baked in the oven for about 25 minutes.

Once they had cooled down I marked the flapjacks into 12 pieces and turned them out onto a plate.  They went down very well with my children as I didn’t tell them about the extra fruit or seeds in them. It worked, by the following day all the flapjacks had gone!

Coconut and Chocolate Stripy Rose Cake

As I mentioned in a previous post about baking Fiona Cairns’ Very Lemony Crunch cake last weekend, I was absolutely over the moon to get both of her books for Christmas.  When I opened the books I was hoping and praying that the recipe for the coconut and chocolate stripy cake would be in the book.  I had sat and drooled over Fiona baking this very cake on her TV programme a couple of months back. I particularly liked the stripy effect, the delicious and delectable sounding combination of coconut and chocolate coupled with the pretty rose piping effect on the cake.

My prayers were answered because yes, there it was on page 140 of Fiona Cairns’ second book “The Birthday Cake Book”. Now for a perfect occasion to make it!

Yesterday I was meant to be running a Clandestine Cake Club event for my local group, Knaresborough and Ripon.  Sadly, that was not to be due to the snow and I had to make the decision to cancel the event. I had already made the cake though so in the end it became our Sunday lunch pudding much to the delight of my family who were worried they wouldn’t get any leftovers!

So, how did I try to replicate this stunning looking cake?

Here’s how I did it.

On Friday afternoon I set to by making the actual cake itself.  Or rather you had to make two separate cakes, one chocolate and one coconut flavoured.  They were sliced into strips and placed back together in stripes, sandwiched together with coconut cream cheese icing and then finished with a layer of coconut cream and then on top the pretty roses.

Two 20cm round sandwich tins were buttered and lined carefully as I weighed out the ingredients.  I chose to use my KitchenAid mixer to mix up the ingredients with the beater attached because that is what I had seen Fiona do on the programme.  Before I weighed out all of the ingredients I made a quick cocoa powder paste which was used to flavour the chocolate sponge part of the cake. This cooled rapidly as the rest of the ingredients were weighed out.

The dried ingredients (flour and baking powder) were carefully sifted into the mixing bowl, followed by very soft butter, beaten free range eggs, caster sugar and vanilla extract.  This formed a basic sponge which was beaten together until well combined.

Once this was ready I separated out the mixture into two equal halves. To one half I added the cocoa paste, the other I folded in creamed coconut.  Both mixtures were carefully added to their respective tins and baked in the oven for about 30 minutes. This is the scary time for me as I always forget to set the timer or I’m distracted by something else going on!

Half an hour later and the cakes were out of the oven and cooling on the top waiting to be turned out of the tin onto a rack. It was getting towards tea time and I was glad I could put the cakes aside to get on with our dinner of sausage and mash.  At the same time I was getting cancellation emails and ladies texting me wondering if the Clandestine Cake Club event was going to be cancelled, so out came the red wine as soon as my hubby came home.

After dinner I carefully sliced each cake into five strips and exchanged them so that each cake became stripy. Fiona suggests putting one away in the freezer for another time, this is not practical for me as I have a small freezer which is always full! I had to use the cake there and then and make two of them!

Overnight we had had more snow but I still persevered with finishing off the cake. I decided to leave it cut overnight to settle, then decided to start on the coconut cream frosting.

The coconut cream frosting was creamed coconut, full fat Philadelphia cheese (nothing else gives the perfect creamy finish), icing sugar and some vanilla extract simply mixed together. As a  huge lover of everything coconut I was so tempted to grab a massive spoon and dig in.  It spread easily on the pieces of cake which needed to be sandwiched together.  Once I had sandwiched the cake pieces together, the top and sides had to be dealt with.  I can’t say my finish was perfectly neat as I didn’t have a lot of time.

The cakes were put in the fridge to make them firm up for an hour. In this time this was when I realised that I had to bite the bullet and cancel the event, so emails had to be written, texts had to be sent and phonecalls had to be made. As with Mastermind the saying “I’ve started so I’ll finished” sprang to mind so I mixed up the chocolate buttercream and prepared a large piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle ready to make the chocolate rose pattern on top.

I really enjoyed piping the roses on the cake, this I did not find difficult as I am used to piping roses on top of cupcakes.  It made a simple, yet effective cake decoration.  I wish I could have finished the cake off with some white or gold edible glitter!

Chocolate 028

Here is the cake in all it’s glory before it was cut up and secondly cut up to reveal the chocolate and coconut stripes.


Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Cranberry and White Chocolate Muffins

I love muffins and can’t get enough of them.  I find them easy to chuck together and all my family like them. I don’t make them as often as I would like though I used to make them loads before I went back to work six years ago.  They were useful for the kids’ packed lunches or for taking on picnics as well as some even tasted great at breakfast time.

Yesterday I remembered I had some dried cranberries and some white chocolate chips in my baking stash.  I regularly make cranberry and white chocolate cookies so thought I could try the same flavour in a muffin for a change. I thought it would save my son who is going through a growth spurt at the moment from nicking all the cereal when he comes in starving from school!

If you regularly make muffins then I can’t recommend this book enough (see picture below).  I bought it several years ago in Lakeland so I am not sure whether it is still in print but it contains loads of fantastic muffin recipes with different flavours.  At the front of the book there is a recipe for basic muffins to which you can add your chosen flavour combinations.  I adapted the basic recipe and threw in 100g of white chocolate chips as well as 100g of dried cranberries as well as a teaspoonful of vanilla extract. What is also great about the book is that it gives UK measurements, not American cup sizes which was very helpful.

My favourite muffin book “Muffins Fast and Fantastic” by Susan Reimer.

The basic recipe starts off with weighing out the dry ingredients; plain flour, baking powder and sugar. You then mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl- sunflower oil and milk as well as the free range eggs. When they have been combined carefully by folding in the flour with a metal spoon I could add in the cranberries and the white chocolate bits.  The batter was quite lumpy but I have been told to expect that with muffins.

Spooning the muffin batter into the cases was another matter, I made a massive mess of it and some batter spilled. I suddenly remembered a tip that an American lady had given me a few years ago about pouring the batter into a jug so you then pour it into the cases from the jug! Makes perfect sense to me, I should have remembered it.

The muffins were ready in about 20-25 minutes and didn’t rise as much as you would expect shop bought muffins to look like but maybe it was because I didn’t over fill the cases.  They smelled gorgeous though, and within about 5 minutes my son had pinched two of them! So much for them being an after school snack for him!

Happy Baking!
Love Sam xx

Cranberry and White Chocolate Muffins, perfect with a cuppa or as a snack.

Ripon Spice Cake

As someone who has been living in Yorkshire for the past 20 years and who loves living in such a pretty part of the UK, I am always looking to bake something regional and traditional.

Before Christmas I decided to do a bit of research on looking into local and Yorkshire recipes.  Usually when you research Yorkshire baking recipes people automatically think of Parkin or Fat Rascals.  I love both of these but wanted to find other recipes which were different.  I suddenly remembered a fabulous book that was bought for me a couple of years back by my dad and step mum called “Cakes Regional And Traditional” by Julie Duff.  I have not got round to baking any recipes from it yet, although I have been looking at loads of them.

Suddenly, a recipe for Ripon Spice Cake leapt out of the page at me.  It did not come with an accompanying picture but it was clear it made 2 loaves, rather like a tea bread. It did not contain yeast or tea though.  The spice came from mace and ground mixed spice, as well as delicious flavours coming through from lemon zest, mixed fruit, cherries and citrus peel as well as ground almonds. I couldn’t wait to try it.

I was also interested in the origins of the cake, as I live about 13 miles from Ripon and it’s a city I know very well and go to a lot.  However, the author Julie Duff says in the recipe introduction that there was no local reference to the recipes when she did her research, although it features in several old recipe books. At this present time I do not know any local tearoom or cafe that serves this delicious fruit loaf cake. I might be wrong though so do correct me if I am wrong.

I noticed one ingredient I needed was mace but I did not have it. I wasn’t even sure if I had ever used it in something, is it meant to be like nutmeg? I added cinnamon to the mixture to replace the mace, not sure whether this would work or not.

All the ingredients were mixed together and placed into two greased and lined loaf tins.  The fruit did not require any presoaking and the recipe was easy to make in a quick way if you were in a hurry.

Ripon Spice Cake- a fruity loaf cake with the aroma of mace and  mixed spice and almonds.

About an hour later the cakes were ready to come out of the oven. I let them cool down and wrapped one up to take to work to share with my work colleagues. I cut up the remaining one and noticed it was quite crumbly.

The verdict? Everyone who ate a piece said it was delicious. I was a bit concerned about it being crumbly and wondered if I had cut it up too soon after coming out of the oven or whether I had mixed it properly.
Definitely one to try again.

Happy Baking!
Sam xx

Fiona Cairns’ Very Lemony Crunch Cake

Although I am desperately trying to lose weight to fit back into my favourite red dress I do not want to give up my love of baking. I have not been taking on as many customer orders recently as I have had a lot on with family commitments and with my day job as a teaching assistant.  However, I realised I had not baked one single thing this year so far and I always like to make a pudding for Sunday lunch.

I originally was going to try and make a Queen of Puddings from the Great British Bake Off book but Sunday morning came round and I was not in the mood for making anything complicated or difficult as it appeared on the TV programme. I had two large lemons in my fruit bowl which needed using up.

Inspiration came in the form of a new cookbook which was a Christmas present. I was lucky enough to get both Fiona Cairns’ books for Christmas after enjoying her recent fabulous TV series “The Home Of Fabulous Cakes” which was on last Autumn.

I came across a rather delicious sounding recipe the Very Lemony Crunch Cake in the first of Fiona Cairns’ books called “Bake And Decorate” it sounded very like lemon drizzle cake with a crunchy syrup topping.  My mouth watered, I had all the ingredients and I knew everyone liked it at home.  I thought I’d better get started.

So out came the ingredients: butter, caster sugar, flour, salt, free range eggs and two large unwaxed lemons.  My deep round spring form tin was buttered and lined ready for the mixture.

First of all I looked at the baking method and realised it was a whisking method to combine the ingredients. I couldn’t be bothered with all that so I opted for an all in one method in my KitchenAid mixer. I then folded in the lemon zest and the lemon juice at the end.

Into the cake tin it went and came out of the oven about half an hour later. I just loved the gorgeous lemony smell as it was baking. Towards the end of the cooking time I then prepared the sugar syrup with some more lemon juice and caster sugar. It came out a lot thicker than I expected and laid thickly on the top of the cake rather than drizzling down the side in a big mess.

Here is the result!

A slice of the Very Lemony Crunch Cake served with a spoonful of double cream.

The cake all cut up into slices.

The verdict?  It was absolutely delicious! The lemon cake was meant to be served for dessert after our Sunday roast but we couldn’t wait that long!  My daughter was so hungry after she had finished her final pantomime performance, she ate 2 slices one after the other. My son and hubby had some too and what’s more even I had a small slice even though I am meant to be on a diet!  I am writing this the day after and I can only see one a small slice left in the tin, the kids must’ve been at it again after school!  Would I make it again? You bet!

Happy Baking!
Love Sam xx

Fiona Cairn’s first book “Bake And Decorate” which was a lovely Christmas present.

Christmas 2012 At The Yorkshire Bakery

Happy New Year to you and I hope that 2013 brings you health, luck and happiness.  It has been an extremely busy time in the Smith household leading up to Christmas and I found myself not getting round to updating my blog due to the all the other things that needed doing. I had a lot of Christmas cakes and gingerbread to sort out at the end of term before Christmas Eve so my blog has taken a back seat!

Anyway, I thought I would just publish a few pictures taken in the past few weeks to name but a few.  Sadly, I managed to upload a few pictures via Twitter and Facebook via my phone which now has stopped working and has been replaced.  They never made it onto my computer- arrrggghh!  Here are a few that did get onto my computer.

Gingerbread people for stocking fillers- placed in a cellophane bag and tied with pretty ribbon.

Gingerbread stars, hearts and snowflakes- some were made with holes to hang on the tree, others put into cellophane bags and tied with ribbon.

Another way of presenting my hugely popular Rocky Road Chunks.

Some marzipan Christmas biscuits made from a recipe in the second  Great British Bake Off cookbook.  They were such a success with my tasters that I’m hoping to sell something very similar on my stalls.

Children In Need Cupcakes made for a local coffee morning using pretty spotty cupcake cases and Pudsey Bear pics from Lakeland.

Pudsey Bear shortbread cookies baked with my cutter from Lakeland  for a local Children In Need Coffee Morning.

Banana and Almond Traybake made with leftover bananas as a  treat for my family. Didn’t go down well with my children as it had almonds in it, but my hubby and I enjoyed it.

Lorraine Pascale’s Cookies and Cream Brownies baked from her first book “Baking Made Easy” using one of my son’s  favourite biscuits, Oreo cookies!

I baked a lot more besides but for some reason my computer wouldn’t let me down load any of the other photos.

Happy Baking!
Sam x