Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Dairy free cranberry and chocolate muffins

No milk in the fridge .... fear not ... you can still make muffins without milk. 
If I say without milk, that doesn't mean you need substitute stuff like soya milk or oat milk.  
You can actually make muffins simply using water instead of milk.   
I recently discovered that I could bake cake without eggs and milk when I tried to make vegan cupcakes. When I found there was no milk in my fridge, I thought to myself I still could make muffins using water like I made vegan cupcakes the other day.  :)
I used an egg as I had some eggs in the fridge. So, these muffins are dairy free but not totally vegan. 
They have a lovely chocolaty flavour and very light.  


  • 200g plain flour (if you use self raising flour, no need to add baking powder) 
  • 150g sugar
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼  tsp Salt
  • 100ml water 
  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • Vanilla extract
  • 120g fresh cranberries 


  1. Preheat oven to 200 C / Gas 6 and add paper cases to a muffin tray.
  1. Measure out flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix the dried ingredients well.
  1. Measure water and oil in a large measuring jug. Add egg and vanilla, then whisk well.
  1.  Add the wet mixture (3) into the dry mixture (2).  Stir until just combined (mixture will be lumpy).        Do NOT over mix!
  1. Gently fold in cranberries.
  1. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Believe it or not, these are "vegan friendly" cupcakes. I was searching for a cake recipe for my vegan friend and found a recipe which is totally egg-free and dairy-free.   This recipe doesn't require any unusual ingredients. I call this "absolutely cupboard ingredients cake".   I wasn't sure how the cupcakes would turn out as the recipe seemed to be too simple.   However, I was pleasantly surprised by the result.
These cupcakes are really moist, soft, light and full of flavour.   You wouldn't believe these are totally egg and daily free. I made cupcakes, but this recipe would also work as a sponge base for any decorated cake. When you bake it in a cake tin, it just bakes for longer.  
I put crushed walnuts on top before baking them.  Lovely. :)


  • 200g (7 oz) self-raising flour 
  • 200g (7 oz) caster sugar
  • 4 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 250ml (8 floz) water

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C / gas 4. Lightly grease a 13x23cm loaf tin or a 20cm round cake tin.                 If you make cupcakes, prepare muffin cases.  
  2. Sieve together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add oil, vanilla, lemon juice and water. Mix together until smooth.
  3. Pour into prepared tin or muffin cases and bake for 40 minutes for cake tin or 20 minutes for cupcakes. Check it's cooked by inserting a skewer. If it's clean on withdrawl then it's cooked.
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Apple and cranberry tarte tatin

Yes, this is really red, isn't it?  I didn't use any food colouring at all.
This beautiful ruby red naturally came from cranberries. I stocked up lots of fresh cranberries in my freezer after post-Christmas shopping.   Cranberries did not only add this beautiful colour but also added a lovely tangy flavour to my usual apple tarte tatin.
You can imagine my excitement when I turned it upside down on the plate.   What a wonderful surprise. :) 
Anyway, having warm dessert is a treat on a snowy day like today.

I filled the gaps with frozen cranberries straight from the freezer. My rough-puff pastry looking promising.

It makes a lovely dessert with creme fraiche. 

For the pastry
· 100g/4oz plain flour
· 50g/2oz butter (in a block) salted butter would be better for sharpening the flavour
· 25g/1oz lard (in a block) 
For the caramel
· 175g/6oz granulated sugar 
For the topping
· 3-4 red dessert apples
· some fresh cranberries to fill the gap
To finish
         · 50g/2oz caster sugar and lemon juice

Preparation method
1.    First make the pastry. Freeze the butter and lard until very cold.

2.    Measure the flour into a bowl and grate the butter and lard into the flour. Use a knife to coat the butter and lard in the flour. Add 4-5 tbsp cold water and mix to a firm dough until it comes together.

3.    Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface to a rectangle. Fold one third down and then fold the bottom third up and over the top fold. Turn it 90 degrees (a quarter turn) and repeat the rolling and folding. Set aside, covered, in the fridge for 20 minutes. Repeat the rolling, folding and chilling twice more so you have a total of four folds and turns.

4.    Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

5.    For the caramel, place the granulated sugar and 6 tbsp water into a stainless steel pan. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and there are no granules. Remove the spoon and increase the heat. Boil until a golden straw colour and immediately pour into a 23cm/9in fixed-base deep sponge sandwich tin. Don’t let it get too dark or it will be bitter – this is very important!  

6.    For the topping, core the apples, then cut into thick slices. Arrange a layer over the caramel in the tin in a circular pattern – start from the outside of the tin and work inwards. Fill the gaps with cranberries.

7.    Roll out the pastry to a round, slightly bigger than the tin. Cover the apples and tuck the edges of the pastry down around the apples. Make a small cross in the top of the pastry to let the steam out.

8.    Bake for about 40 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden-brown and the apples are soft.

9.    To finish, before turning the tarte out, tip the juices from the tin into a saucepan. Add the caster sugar and lemon juice and boil until syrupy.

10. Turn the tarte tatin out onto a plate and spoon the syrup over the apples. Serve with cream or crème fraîche.

       Do not wash-up the sauce pan which was used for making caramel. Use the sauce pan to make glaze!  Add sugar, lemon juice and some juices from the tarte tatin to the sauce pan which has leftover hardened caramel. 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Super Low-fat Chocolate Brownies

Here they are. Very chocolaty and really sticky but, believe it or not, "low-fat" chocolate brownies.
I posted this unbelievable mayonnaise chocolate brownies recipe before but here is a slightly amended version after trying it several times. These chocolate brownies can be made in a round tin and turned out as a cake.
It's also delicious with a drop of creme fraiche, for a dessert. :)

  • 100g dark chocolate , 70% cocoa solids, chopped into small pieces
  • 100g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (or baking powder which I prefer)
  • 120g golden caster sugar
  • 60g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½  Tbsp milk and a little drop of lemon juice (approx. ¼ tsp)
  • 1 egg
  • 120g “reduced fat” mayonnaise

  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Pour enough water into a small pan to one-third fill it. Bring to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat. Put the chopped chocolate into a large bowl that will fit snugly over the pan without touching the water. Sit the pan over the water (still off the heat) and leave the chocolate to melt slowly for a few mins, stirring occasionally until it has melted evenly. Remove the bowl from the pan, then let the chocolate cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, lightly oil and base-line a 19cm square cake tin that is 5cm deep. Combine the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda (or baking powder which I prefer). Using a wooden spoon, stir both the sugars into the cooled chocolate with vanilla, milk and tiny drop of lemon juice. Stir in 1 tbsp warm water. Break and beat in the egg, then stir in the mayonnaise just until smooth and glossy. Sift over the flour and cocoa mix, then gently fold in with a spatula without overmixing.
  3. Pour the mixture into the tin, then gently and evenly spread it into the corners. Bake for 30 mins. When a skewer is inserted into the middle, it should come out with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it. If cooked too long, the mix will dry out; not long enough and it can sink. Leave in the tin until completely cold, then loosen the sides with a round-bladed knife. Turn out onto a board, peel off the lining paper and cut into 12 squares.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

very moist dessert cupcakes

These lovely cupcakes are really light, soft, moist and juicy. You can use different fruit like chopped apples, pears etc., but I found mixed berries are just so brilliant. :)  I love these cupcakes with creme fraiche for dessert.  Or decorating them with buttercream would be nice .... but a bit naughty, perhaps ...
I added the recipe for the buttercream in case you fancy it.

Ingredients (approx. 10 cupcakes)
  • 6 oz plain flour  (or self raising flour) 
  • 6 oz caster sugar
  • 6 oz low-fat spread (or butter if you prefer)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (if you use plain flour, but not if you use self raising flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120g frozen mixed berries (or fresh ones if you have them) 

  1. Put all ingredients (except the berries) in a bowl and whisk up with an electric whisk. The mixture should have a dropping consistency. Add a bit more milk to get the right consistency.
  2. Fold the berries into the cake mixture very gently not to break the berries.
  3. Pour the mixture into cupcake cases that are placed in the tin.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes in the preheated oven (180c). 
  5. When the cupcakes are baked, leave then in the tin for a few minutes and then take them out to cool.
  6. Cupcakes are ready to be decorated with butter cream, cream cheese or creme fraiche.  

Basic buttercream icing ingredients  
  • 140g / 5 oz  butter softened 
  • 280g / 10 oz icing sugar 
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk
  • a few drops of food colouring 
  1. Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. 
  2. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar and one tablespoon of the milk and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth. Beat in the milk, if necessary, to loosen the mixture.
  3. Stir in the food colouring until well combined.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

"seriously lemony" lemon Drizzle cupcakes

Lots of people are having nasty colds at this time of year. My very good friend had one and she said she would be off work and staying in bed. Poor thing. :(   Fortunately, I'm ok so far, so I decided to make little cupcakes to cheer her up.   These are "seriously lemony" cupcakes which contain lots of vitamin C which, I hope, helps her to fight the cold.  I posted "lemon drizzle muffins" in this blog before, but these are "lemon drizzle cupcakes" ... yes, different. I understand that muffins and cupcakes are different things. Muffins tend to use a liquid form of fat like vegetable oil whereas cupcakes likely require a solid form of fat like butter or margarine. 
So, here are my cupcakes filled with a lot of lemony moisture. Ahhhh, seriously good. 

Ingredients (8-9 cupcakes) 
  • 6 oz plain flour  (or self raising flour)  
  • 6 oz caster sugar
  • 6 oz low-fat spread (or butter if you prefer)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (if you use plain flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk
  • zest of 1 lemon
      For the lemon syrup
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp sugar 

  1. Put all ingredients (except the lemon syrup) in a bowl and whisk up with an electric whisk. The mixture should have a dropping consistency. If not add a bit of milk.
  2. Pour the mixture into cupcake cases that are placed in the tin.
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes in the preheated oven (180c). 
  4. When the cupcakes are baked, leave then in the tin for a few minutes and then take them out to cool.
  5. When the cupcakes are still slightly warm, make a few holes in each cupcake and pour the lemon syrup over each one. (about 1-2 tsp each) 
  6. Let them absorb the lemon syrup. 

Monday, 7 January 2013

Roasted vegetable quiche

Making a quiche is not a quick job. Especially if you are making pastry from scratch, it takes a bit of effort. However, I really fancied making home-made quiche as today was one of those wet miserable British days. Certainly, this colourful quiche will cheer anybody up. :) 
I used aubergine as there was a bit left in my fridge, but there were mixed reviews .... I quite enjoyed the soft texture and mellow  flavour of aubergine, but some said it didn't go with the egg mixture. 
So, I may say that aubergine could be replaced with another vegetable like carrots.  
Cherry tomatoes are a must have item for this quiche. They brighten up the dish.  They also have a very sweet and tangy flavour to give extra kick to the quiche. 

Ingredients (for 20cm round loose-bottomed tin) 

  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 120g courgette sliced
  • 3 mushrooms sliced
  • ½ red pepper sliced
  • 120g aubergine sliced
  • 8-10 chetrry tomatoes cut in half
  • 3 cloves of garlic sliced
  • 1 tsp mixed dried herbs
For the egg mixture
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150ml semi-skimmed milk
  • salt and pepper 
  • 1 tsp mixed dried herbs 
 For pastry:
  • 200g plain flour
  • 50g lard
  • 50g butter (If you prefer 100% butter pastry, use 100g butter and ignore the lard)
  • pinch of salt

1.  First make the pastry. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of ice-cold water and mix to form a dough, adding an extra 1 tbsp water, if necessary.

2.  Gather the dough into a ball, then roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a 28 cm circle, about 3 mm thick. Use the pastry to line a loose-bottomed 20cm fluted flan tin, about 3 cm deep. Prick the pastry case all over with a fork, then cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.

3.  Place vegetables on a baking tray and drizzle olive oil. Sprinkle salt, pepper and dried mixed herbs. Bake the vegetables in the preheated (200°C, 400°F, gas mark 6) oven until tender. Then leave them to cool.

4.  Line the chilled pastry case with a piece of greaseproof paper and cover with baking beans. Place on the hot baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, and continue baking the pastry case for 5 minutes. Brush the bottom of the pastry case with a little of the beaten egg and bake for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the oven, leaving the baking tray inside. Reduce the oven to 190°C (375°F, gas mark 5).

5.  Beat the milk with the eggs. Add the herbs and seasoning to taste. Spread the vegetables in the pastry case. Put cherry tomatoes on top. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables.

6.  Place the quiche in the oven, on the hot baking tray, and bake for 30–40 minutes or until the filling is set. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Cranberry and apple upside-down cake

Yes, I still have some cranberries which I got when I shopped after Christmas. These bargain cranberries have a really great flavour and very fresh. I used these beauties for my good old upside-down caramel cake. 
The cake looks very cheering on a cold winter day. :) 

Ingredients  (for 19cm round cake tin)

  • 5 oz plain flour or selfraising flour 
  • 5 oz caster sugar
  • 5 oz butter or low-fat spread 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (no need if you use selfraising flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp milk 
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g cranberries
  • 1 small apple
  • for caramel: 3 oz granulated sugar + 3 tablespoon water


To make the caramel sauce: 

  • Place the granulated sugar and water into a stainless steel pan.
  • Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and there are no granules.
  • Remove the spoon and increase the heat.
  • Boil until a golden straw colour and immediately pour into a tin. 

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C.  
  2. Place cranberries and chopped apple in the cake tin when the caramel is cool and set.
  3. Put all ingredients (butter, sugar, flour, lemon juice, vanilla, eggs and milk) in a bowl.
  4. Mix with electric whisk.  
  5. Pour the mixture on top of the cranberries and chopped apple.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 30-40 minutes. When the cake cools down turn the cake tin upside down.