Coconut and Cherry Sponge Cake- Mercers of Yorkshire Cherry Jam.

Cherry and Coconut Sponge, a twist on an old retro favourite from childhood.

 A couple of years back as family circumstances changed we stopped having our traditional Sunday lunch at lunchtime.  My daughter was out at work and would miss having a Sunday lunch and the chance for us all to sit down over a roast dinner.  So our Sunday meal got moved to the early evening once she was in from work.  Because we were eating late I stopped making a Sunday pudding.  I really miss making a pudding on a Sunday as we don’t usually indulge throughout the week. It just makes it a bit more special.  This last Sunday I really wanted to test out an idea I had for a Cherry and Coconut Sponge cake using some Red Cherry Jam I had picked up at the Good Food Show a couple of weeks back.  It was baked in a bit of a rush though.  I have been running around like a headless chicken this weekend trying to get all my jobs done as it is a busy time for me at work in my day job supply teaching. I don’t want to be ironing or cleaning bathrooms when I’ve got in from work during the week, so I’ve been trying to keep on top of things.

 

Baking this cake gave me a great opportunity to use some special products like my favourite. Sugar and Crumbs icing sugars.
 

It was 2pm and I’d only just got dressed!  That makes me sound like a right lazy slob but if I don’t have to go anywhere I stay and do all my housework in my PJ’s. I ironed, cleaned the bathrooms, hoovered and dusted upstairs and by 2pm I was ready for a cup of tea and a baking session.

To bake the Coconut and Cherry Sponge Cake I adapted Lynn Hill (Founder of The Clandestine Cake Club’s) own recipe from the first Clandestine Cake Club cookbook which was published back in 2013.  This cake was wonderfully retro, the sort you grew up eating or your granny baked.  I don’t remember my Nana Mary (my Mum’s mum) baking it, though I do remember her baking lemon cake and fruit cakes.

I started by greasing and lining two 8″ diameter loose bottomed sandwich tins.  Once this was done I then weighed out some softened butter and caster sugar. This was creamed together with my hand held electric whisk.  To this I added three free range eggs, one at a time and then some self raising flour. Lynn’s original recipe calls for using vanilla extract for flavouring, but instead I used a few drops of some natural coconut extract which comes from Lakeland.  To add to the coconut flavour I also added some dessiccated coconut. The mixture was then divided between the two cake tins and put in the oven, preheated to 160oC.  After about 25 minutes when the cakes were risen and sprung back when touched, out they came to cool on the worktop.

While the cakes had been cooking I thought about how I could decorate the cake. Lynn’s original recipe used a butter and cream cheese icing which sounded delicious along with a filling of jam.  I decided to use some of my Mercers of York Cherry jam which is absolutely delicious.  Instead of the butter and cream cheese icing which I couldn’t do anyway as I didn’t have the cream cheese, I whipped up a carton of cream and to this I added some Sugar and Crumbs Natural Flavour Coconut Icing Sugar.  I got this ready and decided to go out for a run.  I’m doing the Couch To 5K app at the moment as I’m entering the Race For Life in June so I’m trying to train when I can.  An hour later, I’m back home feeling a bit tired but ready to decorate the cake.

One top of one cake I spread about 6 tbsp jam and to the other I spread about half the coconut cream mixture. These were then sandwiched together. The rest of the cream was spread on the top of the cake with a dozen glace cherries spaced around the edge. To finish off, I sprinkled desiccated coconut on top of the cake.

 

A blast from the past.. a sponge topped with dessicated coconut. I chose to use cream instead of buttercream for my icing.
  

A coconut flavour sponge, layered with cherry jam and coconut cream.

Even though the cake was meant to be a Sunday dessert treat we were far too full to eat it.  So at the time of typing it is in a box in my fridge waiting to be eaten throughout the course of the week. 

 

A perfect Sunday afternoon treat.
 

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Lemon Empire Biscuits- Mercers Of York Lemon Cheese.

 

I had a fantastic time baking while using my favourite Mercers of York cherry jam, lemon cheese and caramel sauce.
 

A couple of weeks ago when I was at the BBC Good Food Show in Harrogate I went up to the Mercers of Yorkshire stand and stocked up.  I’ve been a massive fan of their sauces, jams, marmalades and chutneys over the past couple of years or so.  Their Lemon Cheese (a bit like Lemon Curd) is absolutely divine and is easily the best out there.  To me though, I wouldn’t just put it on toast, it makes a fantastic baking ingredient.  I got my baking thinking cap on and decided to see how I could use the Lemon Cheese in a recipe.  These Lemon Empire biscuits are gorgeous and are perfect for a Springtime treat.

  

To bake the biscuits I used a simple roll out cookie recipe and added the grated zest of a lemon to it.

Makes 16 cookies (32 cookies sandwiched together)

200g unsalted butter

200g caster sugar

400g plain flour

1 large free range egg, beaten

Grated zest of one lemon.

  • First, preheat your oven to 160Oc (my oven is electric and fan assisted), then weigh out all your ingredients. Cut the butter up into small cubes and add the sugar and flour to the bowl. Gently rub the mixture together until you get fine breadcrumbs. Add the grated lemon zest.
  • Make a well in the centre of the bowl and add the beaten egg to it.  Mix this together to form a ball of dough, first with a round bladed knife and then with your hands. When you have the ball of dough, wrap it up in cling film and chill for about half an hour in the fridge.
  • Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out to the thickness of a pound coin. Cut rounds of dough with a 6cm diameter circular cutter.  Gather up the scraps and reroll out the dough until it is used up.
  • Put the biscuit rounds on flat baking trays which have been lined with baking parchment. Make sure they are well spaced apart. I usually put 6 biscuits on a tray at a time.  They might need to be baked in batches.  This usually takes around ten minutes.
  • Once the biscuits have been out of the oven for about 5 minutes, I remove them from the trays and put them on a wire rack to finish cooling off.

To decorate the biscuits I sandwiched them together with the Mercers Lemon Cheese.  Once this was done then I made up a simple lemon glace icing.  This was done with 250g sifted icing sugar and about 3 tbsp water to achieve the right spreading consistency. To continue with the lemon theme I added a couple of drops of yellow food colouring to give it a delicate yellow flavour. Over the years I’ve made many mistakes when colouring icing getting a bit heavy handed with the colouring and ending up with something you would be blinded by! Thankfully by using  SugarFlair pastes and a cocktail stick dabbing the paste in bit by bit, things end up looking a lot better.  Finally, I spread the icing carefully on the top of the biscuits and finished them off with a sprinkling of hundreds and thousands.

 

I love sprinkles and hundreds and thousands but despite cleaning and hoovering up, I’m. still finding them all over the floor!
  

A zesty lemon shortbread recipe sandwiched together with Mercers Lemon Cheese and topped with a lemon glace icing and hundreds and thousands.

I love Empire Biscuits, especially the ones with cherries on top and couldn’t get enough of them on holiday in Scotland a couple of years ago.  They tasted fantastic and I came home wanting to bake some myself.  This lemon version went down very well at home and I must admit I caved in and ate one with a cup of tea after I went out running. Well, I did need the energy I suppose.  I only used half the jar of the Lemon Cheese so the rest went in the cupboard for my family to have on toast.

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

My Day At The BBC Good Food Show Harrogate 2016.

A few weeks back I was asked if I would like to join the Community Blogger team for this year’s Good Food Show in Harrogate. I jumped at the chance. It is the show’s third year running in Harrogate and to me, virtually on my doorstep living in North Yorkshire.  I have been posting about some of the wonderful local producers that were going to be exhibiting this year and was also looking forward to discovering new things.

The show this year ran from Friday 8th to Sunday 10th April but I chose to go along on the Friday and took my husband along as my guest.  He’s never been to the Good Food Show before, I’ve usually gone with friends.  I was in a hurry to get to Harrogate for 9am as I wanted to be there to see Tom Kerridge opening the show. Luckily as it was the school holidays traffic into town and along Wetherby Road was fine. Normally it’s a nightmare but parking for us in the Victoria multistorey and a walk down the road to the HIC was fine for us and we got there just in time.  Unfortunately I missed taking a photo of Tom Kerridge cutting the ribbon as I was waiting to pick up my pass. Still I managed to sneak a couple of photos of him throughout the day.

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Wandering around at 9am was much more pleasurable than fighting off the crowds later. It meant you could go up to stall holders and chat with them. I had a lovely chat with Phil and Helena who run York and Dulgent Fudge who I had discovered through my friend Sharon on her blog Humbug’s House.  I was very impressed with the fudge and bought two flavours to try out. Do look out for their Blue Cheese, Apple and Walnut Fudge, which the first time ever that I have come across a savoury fudge and it sounds funny but believe me it works!

I treated myself to two gorgeous bags of fudge and deliberately chose flavours my kids wouldn’t like so they wouldn’t be tempted to nick them! Aren’t I a mean Mum?

 By this time hubby had sloped off!  He was just answering a phone call so I told him I was going to the fudge stall.  When I went to find him, he had gone off. Typical, it’s like when my kids used to wander off in Toys R Us! I phoned him, phone went straight to voicemail saying he was on holiday. No use texting him “Where are you?”, he’d never reply. I left him a message. Then I get a phone call from one of the supply teaching agencies I work for with some work lined up. He phones back while I’m on the phone!  I thought well knowing my car mad petrol head husband he will be looking at the Lexus stand as they are the sponsors of the Good Food Show. He was, no surprise there then!

I couldn’t get my husband away from the Lexus stand.  Any show we go to and its always the cars he gravitates towards, bless him!

 I then went to stock up with my favourites in the Deliciously Yorkshire section: Gordon Rhodes and Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil.  It was lovely to chat with everyone on their stands and I came away with products I can’t always find locally.  We love the Gordon Rhodes spice rubs and I had run out. They are launching some new ones for the summer so I got some samples to try. More of that to come so watch this space.

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The lovely ladies from Gordon Rhodes.
Had a lovely chat with the guys on the Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil stand.  I loved cooking from their recipe book which was sent to me by the Good Food Show team.

 

I went a bit overboard on the Gordon Rhodes stand but I use their products all the time!

 

 We also stocked up on the flavoured Yorkshire Rapeseed Oils we love like chilli and ginger. We also got a garlic one  to try as well as another plain oil so I can use it in my baking.

Yorkshire Rapeseed Oils- both my husband and I love cooking with them.

 A new company caught my eye at the show. They are called Stoats, who are based in Edinburgh and make porridge oat products.  I will be writing a separate post later on but I was very impressed with what I saw.  I hadn’t realised that they had in fact been going for over ten years but it was the first time I had seen them.

As part of a Community Blogger perk we got a complimentary seat in the Supertheatre to watch Tom Kerridge’s demo.  I’ve seen Tom Kerridge on TV before and enjoy watching him though I’ve never made any of his recipes and I don’t have any of his books.  He was very entertaining and demonstrated how to make three dishes Turbot With Toasted Cucumber, Mushrooms and Radishes, Spiced Roast Rump Of Lamb With Celery and Feta, and also how to make Asparagus with a sauce which I cant remember the name of now but it looked delicious.  The dishes aren’t really what I’d cook at home, even for a special occasion.  I’ve never tried turbot though it was fascinating to see what happened to the cucumber when it cooked. I didn’t think you could cook cucumber.  I don’t really like lamb either and never cook it at home as the smell of it cooking makes me feel sick.  I did like the sound of the asparagus though, I love asparagus with hollandaise sauce so to have it with the sauce Tom Kerridge used would be a delcious alternative.

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A very blurred image of Tom Kerridge taken on my phone which is rubbish at taking pictures at events like this!
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Tom Kerridge in action at the BBC Good Food Show Supertheatre.

We were then met by the sales and press team and given a tour of the show showing selected stands including four very special producers who had been granted a Bursary Award, as well as various producers who were known as Good Food Champions.  I’m going to be writing a separate blog post about the Bursary Award winners but here are some highlights of what we saw as we walked around the show.

Tempting mini cakes and meringues on Flower and White’s stand.

The meringues from Flower and White just called for a close up shot of their very own.

Although it’s now a well established brand and you can buy Fentiman’s drinks everywhere I had to buy some of my favourites to take home.

My whole family love Heck sausages so I always stock up at the Good Food Show. I got our favourite four flavours which came in a freezer carry bag.

One of the Good Food Champions was Simple Simon’s Perfect PIes.  Many different flavours and all appeared to be made with a hot water crust pastry.

Again you can buy Mercers jam and conserves in many retail outlets in Yorkshire but I couldn’t resist stocking up on my favourite lemon curd, salted caramel and some onion marmalade.

I was very excited to see TasteCollectiv’s stand at the Good Food Show as I was lucky to get some free samples of their scrumptious Romesco and Pesto sauces a few days before the show.

Little Doone’s Award Winning range of flavoured Balsamic Vinegars.  I was taken with the garlic flavoured one.

I adored the Slingsby Rhubarb Gin.  Being a gin lover I will definitely be getting some of this in the future.

Aye Love Real Food which sold delicious handmade Scotch eggs as well as sausage rolls.

 All too soon it was time to head back home with my purse considerably lighter than it was when I got to the show that morning.  I had bought and seen some fantastic things.

I had a lovely day and really enjoyed taking part in the show as a Community Blogger.  All opinions and photos are my own.