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Kiwi Style Iced Buns

Wednesday 30 October 2013

My husband used to make the pilgrimage to our local bakery in NZ once a week for a whipped cream filled iced bun.  He begged and nagged asked me to bake some.  I hadn't baked these treats in a while so I decided to brighten up a rather cold and stormy Saturday by baking them.  

The buns are a sweet bread dough, baked then iced with strawberry flavoured icing, cut in half and filled with freshly whipped cream.  This recipe bakes 10 buns, they won't last long once they are ready to eat.

Kiwi Style Iced Buns

450g strong white bread flour
25g softened butter
25g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
300ml lukewarm milk, I used semi-skimmed
100g raisins or sultanas (optional)

350g icing sugar
1 Tblsp warm water, approximately
a couple of drops of strawberry flavouring and pink food colouring

Put the flour into a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Stir through the sugar, salt and yeast.  Add the warmed milk and mix until a soft dough forms.  Knead in a stand mixer for 5 - 7 minutes or turn out onto a work surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Knead in the raisins/sultanas, if using, then divide the dough into 10 equal portions.  Shape each portion of dough into a 15cm sausage shape.  Put the dough shapes onto a greased and lined baking tray to prove until doubled in size.  This took about an hour in a warm room.

Preheat your oven to 220C/Gas Mark 7.  Once the rolls have proved bake them for 10 - 12 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, drape a clean tea towel over the rolls which will keep the tops soft.

Once the rolls are cool make the icing.  Put the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually add enough hot water to make a fairly stiff icing paste.  Spoon the icing over the top of each bun and leave to set.  Once the icing has set cut the rolls almost in half and fill with freshly whipped cream.  Serve immediately.

Easy Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread

Tuesday 29 October 2013

I needed a quick bake for my regular Coffee Morning, we have a shared breakfast once every Half Term.  I had 90 minutes before I had to leave for work so had to think up something low faff but tasty.  I did ponder Chelsea Buns or Apple Brioche Swirls but didn't have enough time.  I used a bread dough, dipped balls of bread dough in melted butter and cinnamon sugar then plonked them into a cake tin to prove then bake.

I took the bread along to my Coffee Morning and warmed it gently in the oven before serving.  One of the lovely ladies at the coffee morning, who is Canadian, was suddenly rather excited and exclaimed "Oh my goodness, who bought along the Monkey Bread!".  I had no idea what she was on about, however a quick Google on my phone determined that my bread was similar to Monkey Bread which is largely an American breakfast bread treat.  Who knew?!

I baked this bread again and took it on the school run on Friday afternoon.  Several teachers snaffled pieces of it and my 3 children, along with those I was child minding that afternoon, devoured the rest.  I am sure that I will be baking it quite often as it is so easy to make and very moreish and tasty.

Easy Cinnamon Sugar Bread

350g strong white bread flour
40g caster sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
150ml luke warm milk, I used semi-skimmed
125g pot greek yoghurt with honey
1 medium free range egg
1 small dollop vanilla bean paste or 2 tsp vanilla extract

75g unsalted butter
80g caster sugar
1 or 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Line a 20cm springform cake in with a paper liner or grease then line the bottom with baking parchment.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a bowl.  Warm the milk in the microwave or a saucepan until luke warm.  If the milk is too hot it will kill the yeast.  Mix in the yoghurt, egg and vanilla.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the milk  mixture then mix until a soft dough forms.  Either knead in a stand mixer for 5 - 7 minutes or knead on a lightly floured surface for 10 - 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and glossy.  Try not to add extra flour to the surface when kneading, persevere through the sticky and annoying stage, keep kneading and the dough will become smooth.

Melt the butter in the microwave or in heat a saucepan on the hob until just melted.  Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.

Divide the dough into roughly 12 portions, form into balls then dip in melted butter followed by cinnamon sugar. Put the dipped balls of dough into a cake tin, don't worry about arranging them too precisely.  Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise until doubled in size.  This took about an hour in a fairly warm room.  Gently brush any remaining butter over the proved dough and sprinkle over any remaining cinnamon sugar.

Preheat your oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6.

Bake the bread for 25 minutes, I covered the top of the cake tin with non-stick baking parchment after 10 minutes to stop the top from browning too quickly.  Turn out onto on a wire rack and leave until cool enough to eat safely.

Half Term Week Meal Plan 28/10/2013 - £61

Monday 28 October 2013
I have a confession to make, on Saturday night we had a takeaway delivered for the first time in 2 years.  Our trip into town was scuppered by a bomb scare and we visited the allotment for an hour instead. After working hard in wet and windy conditions my husband demanded we head home and suggested a takeaway dinner. My 3 daughters were delighted and we ate Chinese food with chop sticks whilst watching Strictly Come Dancing. It was a brilliant evening!

We will be back sticking to our Meal Plan this week, takeaways are very expensive! It is Half Term Holiday this week for my 3 children which means they will be at home and tempted to snack their way through the week. In the holidays I try to stick to 3 main meals and 2 snacks a day when we are all home. It avoids random snacking and helps us stick to a budget.

I'll also still be using produce from our allotment. We have lots of chard, Swedes, leeks, potatoes and carrots to harvest and eat.

I've ordered plenty of fruit and we still have an apple tree providing us with apples which will save some money.  One of our snacks will be popcorn, I have stocked up on popping corn, I usually do a spiced version to liven it up. Other snacks will be homemade tea cakes, sconesflapjacks, scroggin, roasted chickpeas, or homemade bread sticks and dips.

Lunches will be soup with a homemade wholemeal bread roll or sandwiches/savoury swirls with crudites if we are out and about.  I've already made large batches of French Onion Soup and Root Vegetable Soup which are favourites of my girls.

Breakfasts will be porridge with homemade fruit compote.  We'll have pancakes or crumpets on the weekend.

Basic Soup

1 onion
1 Tblsp oil or butter
6 handfuls of chopped vegetables
1 potato or sweet potato
Enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, cook the onion in the butter or oil over a moderate heat until softened but not browned.  Add the vegetables, cover with a lid, then cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the stock and simmer with the lid off until the vegetables are very tender then remove from the heat.

Leave the soup to cool for a few mintues then blend with a stick blender until smooth.  Add a little water or stock to thin the soup if it is too thick.  Seaon to taste.  I freeze soup in a silicon muffin tray then pop out the frozen soup portions into a container or freezer bag.  Defrosting 1 or 2 portions is enough for a warming cup of soup.


Vegetable Stew with Dumplings

2 Tblsp oil
25g butter
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
2 large carrots carrots, peeled and diced
1 swede, peeled and diced
2 leeks, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp mustard
2 Tblsp plain flour
1 heaped tsp vegemite
500ml vegetable stock
400g tin haricot or butter beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper

250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
125g butter, diced
2 tsp diced mixed herbs
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

Put the oil and butter in a large flameproof casserole dish over a moderate heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, for couple of minutes.  Add the potatoes, parsnip, carrot, sweede and leeks.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring, over a moderate heat until the vegetables start to turn golden and soften slightly.  Reduce the heat slightly and ad the garlic, thyme and mustard.  Add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes, ensure the vegetables are well coated in the flour.  Add the vegetmite, stock and tinned pulses.

Bring the mixture to the boil, cover with a lid then put in the preheated oven.  Bake for 40 - 50 miutes.  Whilst the stew is cooking prepare the dumplings. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. stir in the herbs and a little salt and pepper.  Add a 1 or 2 tablespoons of water, just enough to form a stiff dough.

Divide the dough into walnut sized balls, cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge until ready to use.  When the stew has baked for 40 - 50 minutes in the oven, remove from the oven and add the dumplings. Ensure the dumplings are partially submerged in the stew.  Cover the pot with a lid and cook on the stove top/hob, over a moderate heat,  for around 20 minutes until the dumplings have risen and are golden on top.  I usually serve this stew with steamed greens.

Shopping List

44 items: £61.13

Packets and Cereals
1x   Mornflake Superfast Oats (2Kg)                                                       £2.08
1x   ASDA Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg)                       80p
2x   ASDA Wholemeal Bread Flour (1.5Kg)                                             £2.52
1x   ASDA Smartprice Plain White Flour (1.5Kg)                                      45p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg)                                    45p
1x   Jus Rol Puff Pastry Block (500g)                                                     £1.00
1x   ASDA Long Grain White Rice (1Kg)                                                  £1.38
1x   Great Scot Red Split Lentils (500g)                                                  £1.28
1x   Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g)                    65p
1x   Great Scot Chick Peas (500g)                                                          95p
1x   Cook Italian Wholewheat Spaghetti (500g)                                        £1.00
1x   Cook Italian Wholewheat Fusilli (500g)                                              £1.00

2x   ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                                       £1.50
1x   ASDA Whitefish Fillets (500g)                                                          £2.00

Tins, Jars and Cooking
2x   ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g)                                   68p
1x   ASDA Borlotti Beans in Water (290g)                                               48p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Sweetcorn (326g)                                                 35p
1x   ASDA Organic Cannellini Beans (400g)                                             70p
1x   ASDA Organic Butter Beans in Water (400g)                                     70p
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Vegetable Stock Cubes (12x10g)                   78p
1x   ASDA Tomato and Chunky Vegetable Pasta Sauce (500g)                £1.00

Dairy and Eggs
1x   ASDA Free Range Medium Eggs (12)                                              £1.98 
2x   ASDA Smartprice Low Fat Natural Yogurt (500g)                              £1.18 
2x   ASDA Rich and Creamy Unsalted Butter British (250g)                      £2.00 

Fruit and Vegetables

1x   ASDA Smartprice Sultanas (500g)                                                    84p
2x   ASDA Brown Onions (1.1Kg)                                                           £1.50
15   ASDA Bananas (Approx 170g)                                                         £1.73
13   ASDA Royal Gala Apples (Approx 160g)                                          £3.33
2     ASDA Parsnips (Approx 250g)                                                        74.5p
2     ASDA Butternut Squash (Approx 850g)                                            £1.62
2     ASDA Sweet Potatoes (Approx 460g)                                              £1.18
2x   ASDA Whole Cucumber                                                                  £1.00
2x   ASDA Celery                                                                                  £1.78
1x   ASDA Trimmed Leeks (500g)                                                           £1.00
2x   ASDA Baking Potatoes (2.5Kg)                                                       £2.80
1x   ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g)                                                    £1.68
1x   ASDA Courgettes (3)                                                                       £1.00
3     ASDA Swede Portion by Weight (100g)                                            36p
2x   ASDA Carrots (1.2Kg)                                                                     £2.00
1x   ASDA Medium Navel Oranges (1Kg)                                                £1.50
2x   ASDA Smartprice Pears (500g)                                                        £1.58

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x   ASDA Butcher's Selection British Beef Mince (500g)                         £2.00
1x   ASDA Butcher's Selection Boneless Chicken Thigh Fillets (515g)       £3.58
1x   ASDA Honey Roast Carver Ham (425g)                                            £3.00
Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery website My Supermarket and are correct as of 27th October 2013.  Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

As usual I compared the price of my shopping using My Supermarket.  Our shopping cost £61.13 from Asda on 27/10/13, had I shopped elsewhere my shopping would've cost £63.19 from Tesco or £68.54 from Sainsbury's.

Don't forget to check out all the other fab Meal Plans over on 

Mini Carrot Cakes

Monday 21 October 2013
You can make these in muffin tins or mini loaf tins, either way they are a delicious treat with a cuppa for morning or afternoon tea and a great addition to packed lunches.  I decided not to ice them but you could use a glace or cream cheese icing if you wanted to.  If you're putting these in school lunches, please bear in mind that some schools do not allow nuts due to allergy concerns so omit the walnuts if that is the case.

300g self raising flour
50g plain flour
50g rolled oats
50g walnuts, finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp mixed spice
100g light soft brown sugar
2 large carrots, grated
4 Tblsp/60ml runny honey or golden syrup
2 medium free range eggs
250ml buttermilk or natural yoghurt
80ml oil
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases or use disposable mini loaf tins as I did.

Combine the flours, oats, walnuts (if using), mixed spice, light soft brown sugar and carrots in a large bowl.  Stir to mix well.

In a jug mix together the honey or golden syrup, eggs, buttermilk or yoghurt, oil and vanilla.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the liquid ingredients into it.  Mix until just combined, do not overmix as your muffins will end up heavy and tough.

Spoon the mixture evenly into the paper muffin cases or mini loaf tins.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a muffin/mini loaf comes out clean with no crumbs sticking to it.

If making muffins, cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  If making mini loaves in disposable liners, leave to cool in the cases on a wire rack.  Ice these if you wish but we found that a dusting of icing sugar was sufficient.

I am entering these delicious morsels into Alphabakes, hoted alternately by The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes.  Ros is hosting this month and the letter is C.

I am also entering these Mini Carrot Cakes into One Ingredient hosted alternately by Nazima at Franglais Kitchen and Laura at How to cook good food.  Laura is hosting this month and the ingredient is Walnuts.

Banana Breakfast Muffins

I do like a tasty way to use up over-ripe bananas and make these muffins often as they use ingredients I nearly always have available.  If you don't have buttermilk or yoghurt, measure out 125ml of milk and add a teaspoon of lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon of white wine vinegar and leave to sit for 5 - 10 minutes before using in the recipe.

These delicious morsels are great for a breakfast on the go treat, an energy boost after school or a solution to the late afternoon energy slump.  They have a decent amount of fibre and fruit so would also make a good addition to packed lunches.

180g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
200g rolled oats or 5 wheat biscuits (crushed)
100g light soft brown sugar
100g sultanas or dried apricots
3 medium sized over-ripe bananas, mashed
125ml buttermilk or natural yoghurt
80ml oil
1 medium free range egg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan, and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.  

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking paper, ground cinnamon, oats or crushed wheat biscuits, light soft brown sugar and sultanas.  

Combine the mashed banana, buttermilk or yoghurt, oil, egg and vanilla extract in a jug.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients.  Mix until just combined, do not overmix or your muffins will be tough and heavy.

Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cases then bake for around 20 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean and free from crumbs.  Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  You can drizzle a little honey over the top of the muffins whilst they are still warm if you like.

Edible Homework - Gingerbread and Swiss Roll Castle

Sunday 20 October 2013
My youngest turned 7 last week and I shall blog about her birthday cake, which she designed and planned, separately.  She loves to bake!  Her topic homework was to create a castle using whichever method she chose.  Obviously she wanted to bake and make a castle, no cardboard models for her.  I may have screamed inwardly for a moment at the prospect of creating an edible castle and carrying it to school, however, I was swayed by her determination and her carefully designed and labelled plan for the project.

I was determined that my 7yo would make it herself, with minimal help from me.  If she wanted to create a grand design from gingerbread then it would be her work and not mine.  I helped her by using the oven but other than that all the work has been her own.  She made the gingerbread dough, Swiss rolls, chocolate ganache and royal icing.  She covered the Swiss rolls in ganache, piped the icing to construct the castle then made and stuck on all the sugarpaste leaves herself.  We are both very proud of her efforts! 

7yo created her own template for the gingerbread walls

The 'brick' pattern was created by rolling over a cooling rack rested on top of the dough.

The entrance door was made using thin biscuits inserted into the gingerbread doorway before baking.

7yo was very proud of her castle but thought it looked too plain and needed decorating

She cut various leaves out of sugarpaste and stuck them to the castle using a tiny smudge of royal icing

The finished Masterpiece! 
Cooking is such a fun activity to share as a family. Lots of ways to encourage learning as well with weighing, measuring, gross and fine motor skills all put to good use when baking. The best bit of course is eating what is baked, this castle is destined for my 7yo's Year 2 class tomorrow morning. That will be me walking along trying to avoid the torrential rain or anything else that might damage it.  I hope the class and teacher like it!

As seen on the front page of BBC News!

Tuesday 15 October 2013
A week or so ago I had an email from a lovely lady called Michelle, who works for the BBC.  She wanted to interview me about whether £150 Cookery School lessons were worth it.  I answered all the questions as best as I could and she said she would send me a link to the article once it had been written.  I though no more of it until I received an email today with a link to the article which has extensive quotes from me, mentions my blog, and is on the front page of the BBC News Website. I kid you not!!!

The article can be found here if you fancy a read.  I am rather chuffed, not to mention stunned! 

Our Meal Plan for this week - £42

Monday 14 October 2013
Apologies for posting this Meal Plan late, I worked Sunday night and ran out of time to get everything blogged during the day.  We have a busy week this week, and my youngest turns 7yo so there will be rather a lot of cake and baking to do.

This week I've 2 evening events as well as working 2 nights, I've also got a couple of daytime meetings to attend as well.  Time is short and I need to fit in my usual bread baking and other baking around everything else.  Organisation is the key to maintaining my sanity this week.  

Breakfasts will be porridge with a piece of fruit for afters.  Much to their disgust my 3 daughters will be having school dinners this week.  I told them it will help them appreciate the packed lunches I make. ;o)

Our dinner on Tuesday has been chosen by my youngest as her Birthday Tea, each child gets to pick whatever they like (within reason) for the family dinner on their birthday.  We'll be having Birthday Cake for pudding that night so at least that is easy!

I am using chard, swedes, leeks, beans and potatoes along with broccoli and cabbage from our allotments this week.  It will save us quite a bit and I can harvest the vegetables as and when I need them which means they will be really fresh.  We are so lucky to be able to grow so much of our own food, even though it is hard work and some crops fail sometimes.


Root Vegetable Bake

You can use different types of seasonal vegetables depending on what you have available.  You could use sweet potato or butternut squash and courgette instead of carrot and potato.  If you give the carrots and potatoes a good scrub there’s no need to peel them before grating them.

1 tsp oil for greasing
4 large baking potatoes
4 or 5 carrots
2 large onions, peeled and grated or very finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Tblsp fresh rosemary, or 1 Tblsp dried
2 tsp salt
A few good grinds of black pepper
3 Tblsp oil
2 Tblsp cornflour
4 free range eggs, beaten
100g grated cheddar

Preheat your oven to 180C and grease a round or rectangular baking dish with a teaspoon of oil.  Finely grate the potatoes, carrots and onions.  This is much easier if you have a food processor, we don’t so I grate it all by hand and get my 3 daughters to help.  Line a colander with a clean teatowel and tip in the grated vegetables.  Gather up the edges of the teatowel and squeeze out as much liquid from the vegetables as you can.

Tip the vegetables into a large bowl with the crushed garlic, finely chopped rosemary, salt, pepper and oil.  Mix to combine then add the corn flour and beaten eggs.  Once again mix until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish and lightly press the top to level it.  Bake for approximately an hour or until the mixture is cooked through.  Exact cooking time will vary depending on the size of the dish and which vegetables are used.  Loosely cover the top with foil if it browns too quickly before the dish has cooked through.

Once the dish has cooked, take it out of the oven and sprinkle over the grated cheese.  Bake for a further 5 minutes to melt the cheese.  Cut into squares or slices to serve.  We will be eating ours with steamed rainbow chard from our allotment and some sausages.

Macaroni Cheese with Steamed Greens

Bacon and Chard/Spinach Pasta

500g pasta
1 large bunch of spinach or chard, washed and trimmed
225g lean bacon, rind and fat removed then sliced
4 spring onions, sliced
375ml can evaporated milk
3 tsp cornflour

Cook pasta following packet directions adding the spinach or chard for the last couple of minutes of the cooking time. Drain the pasta and chard/spinach well.

Whilst the pasta and greens are cooking, cook the bacon in a frying pan for 4-5 minutes over a medium heat. Add the spring onions and garlic cook for 2 or 3 more minutes.

Combine a little of the evaporated milk with the cornflour.  Add this mixture to the bacon, garlic and onion with the rest of the evaporated milk.  Stir over a medium heat until the mixture thickens.  Add the drained pasta and spinach/chard to the sauce in the pan and stir until heated through.  Serve topped with grated parmesan.

Shopping List

27 items: £41.73

Packets and Cereals
 1x   Mornflake Superfast Oats (2Kg)                                         £2.08
1x   ASDA Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg)          80p
1x   ASDA Wholemeal Bread Flour (1.5Kg)                                £1.26
1x   Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g)       65p
1x   Cook Italian Wholewheat Spaghetti (500g)                           £1.00
1x   Cook Italian Wholewheat Fusilli (500g)                                 £1.00

 1x   ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                         75p

Tins, Jars and Cooking
 2x   ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g)                     68p
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Chilli Beans (290g)                           48p

Dairy and Eggs
 5x   ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                 £5.00
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Evaporated Milk (410g)                    57p
2x   ASDA Smartprice Cheddar Mature White (385g)                  £4.34

Meat, Fish and Poultry
 1x   ASDA Extra Special Pork Sausages (6 per pack - 454g)      £2.50
2x   ASDA Butcher's Selection British Beef Mince (500g)           £4.00
1x   ASDA Smartprice Smoked Back Bacon (312g)                    £1.70

Fruit and Vegetables
 15   ASDA Bananas (Approx 170g)                                           £1.73
10   ASDA Royal Gala Apples (Approx 160g)                            £2.56
10   ASDA Carrots (Approx 110g)                                             99p
1     ASDA Butternut Squash (Approx 850g)                              72.3p
1     ASDA Sweet Potatoes (Approx 460g)                                58.9p
2x   ASDA Celery                                                                     £1.78
1x   ASDA Garlic Loose                                                           30p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g)                                      £1.68
1x   ASDA Spring Onions                                                         50p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Brown Onions (2Kg)                               98p
1x   ASDA Medium Navel Oranges (1Kg)                                   £1.50
2x   ASDA Smartprice Pears (500g)                                          £1.58
Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery website My Supermarket, and are correct as of 13th October 2013.  Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

Check out other Meal Plans over on At Home With Mrs M.

Chocolate Apple Cake and Apple Mini Loaves

Friday 11 October 2013
I was sent a voucher by Sainsbury's to try out their British apples instore at the moment and create something delicious with them.  They also sent me a pack of slivered almonds.  I decided to bake a large cake for us to enjoy as an afternoon tea treat and some smaller ones for packed lunches.  I used Cox Apples for both cakes but you could use any eating apples you like.

Chocolate Apple Cake

I wanted a change from a cinnamon and apple sponge so decided to add some cocoa as an experiment.  The result was a delicious, moist cake with a hint of chocolate that worked well with the slightly tart Cox apples.

3 eating apples, grated
125g butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 large free range egg
150g cater sugar
225g plain flour
2 heaped Tblsp cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Grease and line a 23cm spingform cake tin, I use the paper liners that look like enormous muffin cases.  Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan.  Put the grated apple in a bowl then add all the other ingredients and beat, either by hand or in a mixer, until well combined. Pour the cake batter into the tin, smooth the top and sprinkle with slivered almonds if you want.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Leave the cake in the tin to cool for 5 - 10 minutes before turning out and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  

Apple Mini Loaves or Muffins

I baked these tasty morsels in disposable mini loaf tins because I had some, you could use a 12 hole muffin tin instead.  This recipe made 10 mini loaves, and would probably make 12 generously sized muffins.

190g butter, chopped
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
3 medium free range eggs
150g self-raising flour
75g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 Tblsp/75 ml milk
2 eating apples

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan.  Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases or use 10 disposable mini loaf tins.  Use a hand held electric beater or stand mixer to beat the butter,  sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy.  This usually takes me about 5 minutes.

Beat in the eggs one at a time with the mixer running if you can.  If the mixture looks like it is starting to curdle add a tablespoon or two of flour which will stabilise the mixture and it shouldn't curdle.  Sift over the flours and cinnamon then gently but thoroughly fold in followed my the milk until you have a smooth mixture.  

Peel the apples if you like then grate before folding through the cake batter.  Divide the mixture evenly amongst the mini loaf tins or lined muffin tin holes.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a mini loaf/muffin comes out clean.  Leave the muffins in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  

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