Thursday, 27 November 2014

Treat Petite November 2014 Round Up

November is almost at it's end and as this post is published, it’s Thanksgiving Day in America. That was sort of the inspiration for the theme this month on Treat Petite.

We wanted you to think of someone who has done something special for you, been there for you – basically someone you would like to say ‘Thank You’ to and bake them something. Some played with that theme a little bit loosely (and in some cases didn’t notice a theme lol)! Still, in the spirit of the ‘Thank You’ theme I would like to thank everyone who took the time to submit their entries regardless. It really is appreciated!

 First entry we had was from Kate, The Gluten Free Alchemist who made Christmas Spiced Star Biscuits. Kate doesn't specify who they are for, but they look lovely nonetheless.

Next was Anne at Anne’s Kitchen who gave us a savoury treat in the form of Spicy Mushroom and Bean Sausage Rolls. These were made as a Thank You to her Auntie T whom, she says, is her rock.

Ros, The More Than Occasional Baker, gave us Carrot, Gingerand Rum Spice Cake. She baked a big one, but for Treat Petite, she made then into mini loaves too. These were a thank you for several people who she mentions over at her blog.

 Lucy, The Baking Queen, was getting at all festive already and made Gingerbread Friands. These were a thank you treat for her family, especially her mum and her mum’s partner.

 Laura, over at I’d Much Rather Bake Than…, made Speculaas SpicedShortbread Biscuits. She took them home for her mum as always deserves a nice treat.

Charlene at Food Glorious Food, made a quick and easy chocolate fridge cake. Charlene classes this as a traybake, so it does meet the Treat Petite criteria. All her family members ate it and were thankful to her!

Kerry at Kerry Cooks made this delicious looking Reese’sChocolate Peanut Butter Cup Fudge. It sounds heavenly. I think Kerry missed the whole part about it being a thank you for someone, so we’ll let her off!

Kerene, The Dream Baker made mini Orange Chiffon Cakes. I’ve made a big orange chiffon cake before and know how good they are. Kerene says these are a thank you to all of her readers. Not sure how she is going to get it to them though…

Choclette at the Chocolate Log Blog made Matcha Marmalade Cakes. These were a thank you to a Japanese friend of CT’s,  who invited them over to eat Sushi.

The Domestic Gothess made Quadruple Chocolate Cupcakes, they look super but I think she missed the ‘Thank You’ remit!

Next up was my offering of Maple and Walnut bagels. I made these as a Thank You to Disneyboi who has put up with me during a mad year of food blogging!

Caroline at Caroline Makes made individual Hershey’s Cookiesand Crème Pudding. I love their Cookies and Crème bars and these were made with the kisses. Caroline didn’t seem to make them as a thank you for anyone, but thought they would be good as a dessert after Thanksgiving.

 Kate the Gluten Free Alchemist also submitted these Raspberry and White Chocolate Macaron. I struggle with making macaron, so I’m very impressed. Again, Kate didn't specify if these were for anyone in particular.

 Angela at Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me made Banana and Peanut Butter Cookies a vegan treat. They look good, and were baked for her friend Linda.

The Domestic Gothess also made these White Chocolate PumpkinCinnamon Rolls with a White Chocolate Cream Cheese Glaze. They look amazing, but the Gothess is still missing that remit (and our logo)!

Lastly my Treat Petite co-host Kat at The Baking Explorer made Courgette, Linseed and Lemon Muffins. I never knew that linseed and flaxseed were the same thing! This was a thank you for her boyfriend and all the great things he does for her.

And that is November! Again, a huge thanks to everyone who takes the time to take part in Treat Petite. Stay tuned to The Baking Explorer for December’s theme soon.

Monday, 24 November 2014


flammkuchen, alsatian pizza, tarte flambee

At my work, buffets are renowned. We used to have them at the drop of a hat for any special occasion such as weddings, baby showers, folk leaving, even Halloween ones. We don’t have them quite as often as we used to now sadly, work is a very busy place and there's not as much time.

But a couple of Christmases ago (sorry for using th ‘C’ word there) one of the bosses brought in something I had never heard of before.

It was a bit like a pizza sans the tomato sauce with lots of charred onions and pancetta over it. Instead of the tomato sauce was a delicious creamy concoction I couldn’t quite place.

It was called a flammkuchen and I have been meaning to try making one ever since. Researching the flammkuchen, I discovered that it is also called a tarte flambée or simply an Alsatian pizza (nothing to do with the dog, rather Alsace in France).

Whatever it’s called it was good. A basic pizza dough topped with a mix of cream and crème fraiche as the sauce and then the thinly sliced onion on top and pancetta or bacon lardons scattered over. It’s then placed in the oven and baked at a very high temperature for only 12 to 15 minutes. That’s it.

The onions do crisp and caramelise, which I like, but if you prefer not quite so dark onions, take the flammkuchen out of the oven when they start to turn.

flammkuchen, alsatian pizza, tarte flambee

Although not traditional, I decided to add homemade dried baby plum tomatoes on top for a bit of sweetness.

To make these I simply chopped a punnet of the tomatoes in my brand new Grape and Tomato Slicing Guide from OXO Good Grips. This tool is going to be used so much in my kitchen. You pop your tomatoes in the device and with a serrated knife slice through loads of tomatoes in one fell swoop. 

courtesy of
I love it as it saves so much time. As the name suggests it can also be used for grapes, but any small fruit or veg, such as pitted olives or those wee South African gooseberries for example. The walls of the ‘chamber’ move to accommodate thicker or thinner items and it all comes apart so it can be washed thoroughly.

To make these tomatoes I always start the night before.  I pre-heated my oven to it’s highest temperature (250C in my case) and scattered the tomatoes on a baking tray, cut side up and sprinkled with salt and drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar. Place the tray in the oven for 5 minutes at the high temp, then turn the oven off. Leave the tomatoes overnight and in the morning they are little shrivelled sweet beauties. All the flavours condense and I knew they would be a great addition on top of the flammkuchen.

Now on to the star of the show…

print recipe

Like pizza, but less tomatoey!
Adapted from
  • 300 grams strong white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 180 ml warm water
  • 1 ½ teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 200 grams crème fraÎche
  • 4 tablesoons double cream
  • to taste, salt, pepper and nutmeg
  • 1 large red onion
  • 75 grams bacon lardons or pancetta cubes
  • 50 grams oven roasted tomatoes
Make the dough firstly, by activating the yeast. Mix a couple of teaspoons of the warm water with the yeast. Let it sit for a minute or two and in the meantime mix the flour, salt. Add the yeast, rest of the water and the olive oil and mix by hand until a dough forms. Turn it onto a floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let it prove for 1 hour. After the hour knead the dough again for a few minutes and divide into two balls. Let these prove for another 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to its highest setting and place a pizza stone or an upturned baking tray in the oven to heat up. Mix the crème fraÎche and cream then season to taste with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Slice the onion into thin slices. Take each dough ball and roll out as thin as you can. Spread half the cream mix on each pizza, almost to the edges, and sprinkle each with half the sliced onion, half the bacon and half the tomatoes. Carefully place each pizza on a piece of greaseproof paper and place on the heated stone or tray, baking in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden and the onions have crisped. Remove from oven and then slide off the greaseproof paper. Slice into edible pieces and enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 flammkuchen

Disclosure Statement: I received the tomato slicing guide free to review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

That's What I Call New #3

Today I am away bringing you a few new items from my kitchen, in my feature 'That’s What I Call New'.

This is the third instalment and I have been sent a few of these, free to try out and some that I have purchased myself and love, so wanted to share with you!

Firstly we have these healthier Get Fruity bars I was sent to try out. They are made from fruit and oats and come in at around 135 to 145 calories each. There are three varieties to choose from – Juicy Apricot, Orange and Ginger, Moist Mixed Berry and Scrumptious Strawberry.

I took these into work for a wee sampling session and the results were varied. Some folk did not like the grainy texture and others didn’t mind them. But overall, no-one was blown away by them. My own thoughts were, they were okay, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase them if I was in the mood for a healthy break snack.

If you fancy giving them a try they have a stockist locator on their website, but unfortunately there is nowhere near me (i.e. Scotland) currently! You can pick them up on Amazon or Ocado however for about £2.80 for a box of four.

Next I was sent a pdf copy of the new Total Greek Yoghurt Cook book by Sophie Michell. I haven’t had a chance to try any recipes from it yet, but I do use Total yoghurt a lot in my baking. The book itself is split into ‘Small Plates and Soups’, ‘Main Plates’ and ‘Sweet Plates, Shakes & Smoothies’.
There is lots of inspiration in these pages and I particularly like the look of the Lemon and Blueberry Trifle which I may give a go over the festive season. The book is available on Amazon at £15.19 for a hardback copy.


A few weeks back I was sent a multi cooker from a Russian company called Redmond. I was asked if I would like to review it which I gladly agreed to. The premise of machine that can steam, fry, cook pasta, stew, slow cook, bake, make soups, quick cook rice etc. was too good to turn down.

However, when I opened the box, the ‘100 Recipes’ cookbook which was supposed to be supplied was not there. Also, the only plug that came with it was a European plug. I contacted the company asking if they provide UK plugs (as I didn’t fancy cooking with it plugged into my shaver socket!) and can I please get the promised cookbook, but to date I have had no reply. Also on the unit itself, there is a warning sticker. 

Well, presumably a warning sticker as it is in red with an exclamation mark, but it is in Russian. So I have no idea what I am being warned against. Should I get a response from Redmond, I will attempt to cook in it and let you know!

I was also contacted by a catering supply company asking if I would like to browse their online catalogue and select an item. Buy Catering carry an extensive range of catering equipment from commercial displays for baked goods, industrial equipment such as mixers, to paper cups and cutlery and utensils. It is an extensive range at a good price. I personally chose a catering thermometer which has a range of -39.9 to 149.9C. I will use this for my Christmas turkey this year and will try using it out when boiling sugar instead of my candy thermometer. Visit the website to check out the Buy Catering range.


This one I picked up in my local Sainsbury’s recently. I loved it so much, I had to tell you about it. It’s a range of concentrated fruit teas that you pour into a mug and top up with hot water. They come in Apple, Ginger and Spice ‘hotty’, Blackberry, Apple and Plum ‘hotty’, Honey and Lemon ‘hotty’ and the one I tried Rhubarb, Apple and Cinnamon ‘hotty’. It was delicious. I am not a huge fan of fruity tea bags, but this was like a hot cup of warming, spicy juice – perfect for the winter months. All drinks come in at under 28 calories too, for the health conscious among us. The bottles come in two sizes 110 ml which makes 10 drinks and retails at £2.50 and a 220 ml bottle which makes 20 drinks and retails at £3.95.

They did have a range on the shelves of concentrates for making iced teas, but they are not on the website at the moment, so may be a seasonal thing.  

Disclosure Statement: I received some of these items free to review. I was not expected to write positive reviews. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Sweet Potato and Banana Squares

biscuit base, sweet potato and banana mousse filling and cream on top

What to do if you have run out of pumpkin?

Reach for the sweet potato of course! This combination of flavours (sweet potato and banana) is something I had heard mentioned briefly on Barefoot Contessa who was baking with pumpkin instead.

I decided to have a look online and there were more pumpkin and banana flavour combos out there, rather than with sweet potato. But, heyho, give it a go! (I just boiled three chopped sweet potatoes until soft and mashed them within an inch of their life to get a good consistency for this recipe.)

This no-bake treat is like a slice of pie, in a way, with a lovely sweet mousse-like filling.

Instead of the traditional pie, I decided to make these into little squares so everyone got a piece they could pick up with their hands.

For the base, instead of a regular digestive biscuit/graham cracker crust, I used Biscoff instead to add another dimension of flavour which worked really well.

biscuit base, sweet potato and banana mousse filling and cream on top

To top things off, I went down a bit of a retro route and spread on some 'Dream Topping'. It holds it's shape and lasts longer than fresh cream would on top. But you could always add whipped cream instead.

Lastly, for a bit of tropical(ness) I sprinkled on some toasted coconut which complemented all the flavours well.

biscuit base, sweet potato and banana mousse filling and cream on top

My taste-testers (i.e. work colleagues) decided that they tasted somewhere in between a banoffee pie and carrot cake. Not bad at all, I’m sure you will agree.

Here’s how I made it (there are quite a few steps, so please be patient!)

print recipe

Sweet Potato and Banana Squares
Cross between carrot cake and banoffee pie!
Adapted from
  • 250 grams Biscoff type biscuits
  • 125 grams unsalted butter
  • 425 grams sweet potato, mashed
  • 125ml milk
  • 200 grams light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
  • 1 medium ripe banana, mashed
  • 125 ml double cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 pkg Dream Topping, prepared (or 250ml Double Cream)
  • 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
Line a 9”x9” square tin with foil. Crush the biscuits in a food processor until they are a fine crumb. Melt the butter in a saucepan then combine with the crushed biscuit. Transfer to the tin and cover the bottom, pressing down firmly. Place in fridge to firm, at least 2 hours. In a bowl, over a simmering pan of water, combine the milk, sweet potato, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and the nutmeg. Stir for 5 minutes until hot. Whisk the egg yolks together in another bowl and add a small amount of the sweet potato mix, to warm it up. Add the warmed egg yolks to the rest of the sweet potato mix, over the simmering water, and continue to stir for about 5 minutes until the mix is thickened. Add the gelatine to 4 tablespoons of cold water and let soften for about 5 minutes. Then add the gelatine and the mashed banana to the sweet potato mix. Combine until smooth. Allow to cool. Whisk the double cream and add the 2 tablespoons of sugar when soft peaks are formed. Keep beating until stiff peaks are reached. Fold the cream into the sweet potato mix. Pour the sweet potato mix over the child biscuit base and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight. To finish add the prepared dream topping, or whipped double cream to the top and smooth with an off-set spatula. Toast the coconut in a small frying pan until lightly golden and sprinkle over the top. Allow to chill another hour and then slice into squares. Enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 25 squares approx.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Blueberry Muffin Biscotti

I love blueberry muffins. I’m sure I’ve told you that in the past. But, back in my childhood, there was nothing blueberry in the UK at all!

I had to travel to Edinburgh into Jenner’s Food Hall before I got my hands on a large tin of blueberries, shipped from the US at some exorbitant cost!

Slowly, but gradually, blueberries did filter through into UK life. I remember blueberry Hubba Bubba (It was the 80’s), blueberry soft-drinks and thankfully Blueberry Muffins courtesy of a Mrs B Crocker and her packet mixes.

I loved those packet mixes – opening the can of little highly fragrant berries and stirring them through the prepared batter. In hindsight, the blueberries were strangely tiny, which I discovered again recently, after buying my first pack of blueberry muffin mix in a very long time.

Don’t worry, I’m not just going to whip up a batch of boxed muffins. I am making these into biscotti, the hard, crunchy biscuits which are perfect with a cuppa. I love taking boxed cake mixes and making them into other treats such as cookies or cake batter bark.

I saw a recipe on the Nestle website, which used a box of blueberry mix to make these. But they added white chocolate chips as well. How about just the packet mix, unadulterated, twice baked into a crispy cookie (for biscotti translates as twice baked, as we all know)?

Actually, in America the packet mixes must come in huge sizes. I had to severely adapt the recipe to accommodate the rather less plentiful packet sizes we get. Still, it made a lovely toasty biscuit, with all the taste you would expect from a blueberry muffin.

Here’s how it’s done:

print recipe

Blueberry Muffin Biscotti
Blueberry Muffin Flavoured Biscotti!
Adapted from Nestle
  • 1 pkg. (about 375g) Blueberry Muffin Mix (with can of blueberries inside)
  • 40 grams plain flour
  • 60 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 200 grams icing sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Drain the can of blueberries, reserving the liquid. Absorb any excess liquid from the blueberries with a piece of kitchen paper. In a bowl mix together the cake mix, flour and butter. Use your hands to rub the butter into the dry ingredients. It should resemble breadcrumbs. Add the egg and mix through until a dough forms. Add the drained blueberries and mix through, using your hands if necessary. Don’t worry if the blueberries squash up a bit. Transfer the dough onto the baking sheet and form into a thin log about 2 inches wide. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, then transfer the log onto a cooling rack, for one hour. Turn the heat down to 150C. After the hour, with a serrated knife, cut the log into slices about ¾ inch thick. On a new piece of greaseproof paper, on the baking tray, stand the slices upright and carefully place into the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. You want the pieces to slowly bake and almost toast. They should turn lightly golden brown, not burn. Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully. Mix the icing sugar with 2-3 teaspoons of the reserved liquid from the can of blueberries and mix into a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over the cooled biscotti and allow the icing to set. Enjoy your biscotto with a cuppa!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12 biscotti

I'm entering these biscotti into this month's Biscuit Barrell, hosted by Laura at I'd Much Rather Bake. The theme is winter warmers and blueberry muffins to me are so cosy and comforting and in biscuit form even more so!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Cakeyboi Radio!

Just a quickie today, I’m still getting over the horror of my radio appearance yesterday on BBC Radio Scotland’s Kitchen Café.
I’m sure you have heard of car-crash TV, but this was more like car-crash radio!
During the week I was asked if I’d like to appear on Friday’s show which was a Children in Need special. Host Clare English (above) and her producers were making cakes, as many folk were having bake-sales for Pudsey, and wanted to discuss baking on the show.

I was to be there as the amateur baker whilst Fiona Burrell from the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School was there as the professional.

I turned up at the studio in Dundee – during my lunchbreak at work – and soon was sitting behind the desk with a microphone in front of me and a pair of headphones on. Everyone else on the show was dotted around the country even though it sounded like we were all in the same room.

The show started and I got butterflies! And when asked questions I couldn’t actually hear myself talk because of the headphones so halfway through took one side off my ear. That was better. Sort of!

I waffled and winged my way through it and was relieved it was all over. Not sure I did much for the Children in Need appeal – well apart from 'Fanny' of Keep Calm and Fanny On donating as I had made them laugh referring to Mary Berry as having the ‘Granny Factor’. Maybe I do have latent comedic skills after all!!

So, If you really want to hear carnage on the radio (okay it wasn’t that bad) then click on this link to be transported to Kitchen Café Friday 14 November!

And details of how you can still donate to the 'Children in Need' appeal can be found over at the BBC website.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Maple & Walnut Bagels

Maple & Walnut Bagels

When I set the theme for Treat Petite this month, I had a bake in mind already.

In case you haven’t checked the theme out yet, it’s ‘Thank You’ and I’ve asked all of you to think of someone who has done you a good turn this year, been there for you, that sort of thing, all in the spirit of Thanksgiving. With that person in mind I’d like you to bake them something – Treat Petite styley.

Many moons ago, our local Sainsbury’s made maple flavoured bagels which Disneyboi absolutely adored. We would buy loads of them for that Canadian hit! Then they disappeared off the shelves without so much as a farewell.

Although it’s been many a year, we both pass by the bakery section looking for some maple bagel goodness without any joy.

With that in mind, and to say thank you to Disneyboi for putting up with me during a very mad year of food blogging (we’ve had conferences, GBBO auditions, random meetings in train stations, factory tours, interviews) I decided I would try to replicate those beloved bready O’s.

Maple & Walnut Bagels

I’ve never made bagels before, but did see them being baked on GBBO once. I remember big vats of boiling water and the bagels being plunged in like some poor defenceless lobster.

Nothing ventured however and I found a recipe on-line which I decided to tweak a little.

I added some walnuts for a bit of added crunch. I knew Disneyboi wouldn’t mind as long as there was pancake syrupy flavouring in there.

I was surprised how easy it was. The only bit half tricky was forming the shapes. I plunged my index finger in the middle of the dough ball, and twirled it around like a whirling dervish (whatever that is). And it made a circle of sorts.

Maple & Walnut Bagels

After boiling it in the water, which wasn’t too daunting after all, I popped them in the oven, out came chewy, soft, maple flavoured bagels for Disneyboi. And he loved them! Especially with a schmear of cream cheese on top.

And if you hadn't guessed these are my entry into this month's Treat Petite, hosted alternately by myself and Kat at the Baking Explorer.

print recipe

Maple Walnut Bagels
Maple flavour baked into a bagel!
Adapted from Baked By an Introvert
  • 500 grams strong bread flour
  • 2 ¼ tsp dry active yeast
  • 320 ml warm tap water
  • 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 60 ml Grade A maple syrup
  • 100 grams chopped walnuts
In the bowl of a stand mixer, place 250 grams of the flour, the yeast, sugar and warm water. Stir by hand so everything is well combined. Cover and leave to prove for 1 to 1½ hours, until it has doubled in size. Once risen, add the rest of the flour, salt, maple syrup and walnuts to the bowl and with the dough hook attached to the mixer, mix on medium slow for 10 minutes. If the mixture looks too dry and bits are left at the bottom of the bowl add water gradually until it comes together. Cover and prove again for 1 ½ to 2 hours. It will double in size. After it has proved transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead just a little. Divide into 8 equal portions and form these into balls. Cover and let prove for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, bring a pan of water to the boil. After the 20 minutes, flatten each ball slightly and push your finger through the centre of each disc. Twirl each on your finger until a bagel shape is formed. Place each bagel in the boiling water for a minute, then flip over for another minute before draining on a cooling rack. Preheat the oven to 200C and cover two baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Place 4 bagels on each sheet and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, turning once during baking, so the bottom gets browned. Leave to cool, then slice open and enjoy with a filling of your choice.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 bagels