Christmas Swirls

Sweet bread rolls swirls, with a festive apple and mincemeat filling.

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It’s nearly Christmas! I can’t believe it has come round so fast!

I love Christmas, as there are so many parties and get togethers, which present the perfect excuse to bake some delicious treats, so I will be posting a LOT of christmassy recipes ūüôā

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Mince pies are the ultimate Christmas treat, but I wanted to see if I could come up with any alternatives, so I had a think and came up with mince-pie cinnamon rolls!

They make a delicious breakfast or afternoon treat, and they are a fun change from mince pies!

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Variations:¬†You could try alternative Christmas’s fillings if you don’t like mincemeat. I think a marzipan and apple filling would be delicious, or white chocolate and cranberry!

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Ingredients: Makes 12 Rolls

The Dough:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 10g salt
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 10g yeast
  • 250ml milk
  • 100g butter, melted.

The Filling:

  • 500g mincemeat
  • 1 green apple
  • 50g chopped almonds
  • 1 tbsp stem ginger

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To Make:

Warm up the milk in a small pan until it has just reached body temperature. Stir in the sugar butter and yeast.

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, making a well in the centre. Pour the milk mixture into the well and mix the dough until it begins to come together.

Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Return to the bowl, cover and leave to prove for 1 hour.

Meanwhile make the filling. Grate the apple into a large bowl and mix in the rest of the filling ingredients to form a homogeneous mixture, set aside.

Once the dough has doubled in size, turn out into a clean, floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll to stretch out into a large rectangle, about 2cm thick.

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Spoon the filling onto the rolled out dough and spread out evenly, making sure to each righto to the edges.

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Roll the dough into a long sausage shape, then cut into twelve 5cm thick rolls.

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Place on an oiled baking tray and cover. Leave to prove for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Once the rolls have proved, bake them in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and cooked though.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve while still warm for a delicious Christmas treat!

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Lemon, Mascarpone and Almond Cheesecake Crumble

Crisp pastry case, filled with a creamy mascarpone and lemon cheesecake, topped with a sweet crunchy almond brittle.

 

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For the month of November Krista & Nicole of ‚ÄúTwo Cups of Sugar.‚ÄĚchallenged us to make our own version of cheesecake crumble pie.

I was really intrigued by this daring bakers challenge, as I have never had cheesecake in a pie before, but it sounded delicious!

 

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The original recipe used a crumble topping, but I decided that I would prefer a crunchy almond topping to keep it light.

I’ve never actually made a baked cheesecake before, so I was a bit worried, but this was surprisingly easy, so I will certainly be making cheesecake again!

 

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I had a lot of fun with this challenge, so I’m looking forward the next one!

Variations: You could easily change the flavour of the cheesecake to orange or lime. Another option would be to make a chocolate baked cheesecake and top it with peanut brittle!

 

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Ingredients: Serves 10

The Pastry:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 120g butter
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp water

The Cheesecake:

  • 500g mascarpone
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • zest and juice of three lemons
  • 4tbsp ground almonds
  • 200g caster sugar

The Almond Brittle

  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 150g flaked almonds

 

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To Make:

The Pastry:

Preheat the oven to 180C, and grease a loose bottomed tart tin.

Rub the butter into the flour and icing sugar, until it forms a fine bread crumb-like consistency. Then stir in the water 1 tbsp at a time until the mixture comes together into a ball of dough.

Turn out onto a floured work surface, and roll out until half a centimeter thick. Place into the tart tin, and press into the edges. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork, and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until just beginning to turn golden brown, then remove from the oven and set aside.

Cut 12 small hearts out of the leftover pastry and stick to the edges  of the pre-baked tart case with egg wash.

The Cheesecake Filling:

Whisk together all the cheesecake ingredients in a large bowl until smooth and creamy. Pour into the tart tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until just set, there should still be a wobble in the centre when you shake the tin.

Leave to chill in the fridge for a few hours.

 

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The Almond Brittle:

Line a baking tray with oiled grease-proof paper.

Place the sugar and water in a small plan and cook over a medium heat, until the mixture forms a caramel.

Turn off the heat and stir in the almonds.

Pour onto the prepared baking tray and spread into a thin layer. leave to cool completely.

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Once cool, blitz in a small blender to a breadcrumb like consistency.

Pour over the top of the cheesecake.

Serve and enjoy!

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Red Currant Liquor

A deliciously refreshing liquor flavoured with tart and fruity red currants.

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Back in July I started to make some summer fruit liquors, among them was a red currant liquor, which has been developing for the last 12 weeks, and which I finally got to bottle and taste this week!

The flavour of this liquor is absolutely delicious, and dare I say it, better than the sloe and elderberry liquor I made last year! The red currants have given the liquor a really juicy, summery taste which I love, I’m sad that I only made one batch as I’m sure I will have finished it in no time.

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This is not a liquor to be mixed, as it is perfect served neat over ice.

I will include the beginning stages of the recipe again in this post. If you can get your hands on some red currants then I can really recommend that you try this recipe!

Variations: I think adding some other flavours to this liquor could work nicely, I would like to try adding some lemon or orange peel to the berries.

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Ingredients: Makes around 900ml:

  • 700g red currants
  • 750ml vodka
  • 200g sugar

To Make:

Weigh out 700g of red currants, wash and transfer to a large kilner jar.

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Muddle the red currants in the jar, to release their juices, then add the sugar.

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Pour over the vodka and shake to infuse. Leave in a cool dark place for 3 months, shaking every few days.

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Three months later…..

Sieve the redcurrant flavoured vodka into a clean pan, and discard the red currants.

Use a funnel to pour the liquor into a sterilised glass bottle. Seal, label and store in a cool dark place.

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You can use the liquor immediately, but it will only improve with age.

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Chai Spiced Creme Brulee

Thick creamy egg custard flavoured with chai spiced tea, and dark chocolate, topped with a crunchy layer of caramel. 

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This is my Fourth (belated) Bake-Off post! In the 4th bake-off episode the bakers made desserts and one of the challenges was creme brulee. I absolutely LOVE creme brulee but I’ve never been brave enough to try making it myself, so I thought it would be a good excuse to be brave and give it a go!

I made these for my family when I was at home for the weekend, and they just wanted an original creme brulee, so that’s what I did for most of mine. But I wanted to try a different flavour, so I made a dark chocolate chai creme brulee as well, which was really delicious, so I definitely recommend it!

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I think these were actually ¬†quite easy to make! Mine took a long time in the oven, but I think that is because I filled the tray with cold water rather than hot. My first attempt at the caramel topping didn’t go to well either, as I just tried sprinkling caster sugar over and doing all the caramelisation under the grill, but the finish was very uneven.

On the bake off, one of the contestants caramelised the sugar first, then blended it back into a sugar like consistency and only then sprinkled it over the creme brulee and cooked it under the grill, I tried this and it worked SO much better, so I recommend you do the same if you try these out!

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I will be bringing these along to Fiesta Friday#84 this week hosted by Angie and co-hosted by Effie @ Food Daydreaming and Steffi @ Ginger & Bread. Happy Friday everyone!

Variations: There are so many different flavor combinations you could do with a creme brulee, I would like to try a fruit version, like a passion fruit curd at the bottom.

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Ingredients: Makes Eight 150ml Pots

  • 500ml double cream
  • 150ml full fat milk
  • 7 large eggs
  • vanilla¬†essence
  • chai tea bags (optional)
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 175g caster sugar

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To Make:

Preheat the oven to fan 160C. Sit eight 150ml ramekins in a deep roasting tin and pour in hot water, until it reaches halfway up the ramekins.

Combine the milk and cream in a large pan, and heat gently until bubbles just begin to appear at the side. Meanwhile whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

Very slowly, pour the yolk mixture into the hot cream, mixing continuously, stir in the vanilla essence.

Pour the custard into the ramekins, and bake in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes. The creme brulees will be ready when there is a very slight wobble in the middle. Remove from the oven and chill down in the fridge.

Chai: Make a dark chocolate ganache by meting the dark chocolate in 100ml of double cream. Pour this into the bottom of the ramekins. While the milk is heating up, infuse with one teabag/pot.

The Topping:

Weigh out 100g caster sugar in a small pan, and heat until it forms a caramel. pour onto a baking sheet lined with grease-proof paper and leave to cool.

Break up the cooled caramel and place in a small blender and blitz to a fine powder.

Pour 1tsp of the blended caramel on top of each creme brulee and smooth out, covering the entire surface. Cook under the grill until the caramel has turned dark brown and bubbly. Remove from the grill and chill in the fridge before serving.

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Greek Pork, Home-made Tzatziki and Pitta

Juicy pork shoulder steaks, marinated in oregano, lemon and garlic. Served with fresh tzatziki and delicious home made pitta.

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This is one of my favourite summer weekend meals, and it’s even better if you can cook the meat on a BBQ!

The flatbreads are really easy to make, but totally worth it, as you just can’t buy anything like it! Shop bought pitta breads or wraps are just not the same.

I use pork shoulder steaks with this recipe because they are cheap and they stay nice and juicy. You could use loin but I always find it a bit dry!

This is a great recipe to make for a larger number of people as the flatbreads and tzatziki can be made in advance, so all you have left to do is cook the pork!

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Ingredients: Serves Two 

Pork Shoulder Steaks:

  • 2 pork shoulder steaks
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 lemon – zest and juice
  • handful of fresh oregano
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • olive oil

The Flat Breads:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250ml water
  • 10g fast action yeast
  • 10g salt

The Tzatziki:

  • 300g greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 a cucumber, grated
  • 1/4 clove of garlic
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt

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To Make:

The Flat Breads:

Combine all ingredients for the dough in a bowl, mix until they come together and form a rough ball.

Turn out onto a work surface, and knead for 5-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Test the dough is ready by pressing it with your finger, it should spring back if the gluten has been worked enough.

Return to the bowl, cover with cling film, and leave to prove for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.

After the dough has proved, turn it out onto a work surface and knock back, to remove any large air bubbles.

Weigh out 100g pieces of dough, and form into tight balls (allow 1-2 per person), leave to rest on the side for 30 minutes

Roll out each piece of dough until thin, and stretch into circular disks.

Fry each flatbread a large frying pan for a few minutes either side, until the edges have puffed up and the dough is cooked through.

The Pork:

Combine all ingredients except the pork in a small blender with a splash of water and blitz to a smooth paste.

Flatten the pork shoulder steaks with a meat hammer or rolling pin, then transfer to a large bowl and coat in the blended marinade. Leave to infuse for a few hours or overnight.

Place a saute pan with a lid over a high heat, and add a lug of olive oil. Once hot add the pork shoulder steaks, cover and cook on either side for 4 minutes, then for 1 more minute either side. Remove from the heat and leave to rest for five minutes.

The Tzatziki:

Grate the cucumber into a bowl, then add the garlic, cucumber, vinegar, yogurt and a pinch of salt. Mix to combine, then taste to check it doesn’t need more vinegar or salt.

Serving:

Slice to pork shoulder into thin slithers on the diagonal, and serve with a good dollop of tzatziki and a flatbread.

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German Strawberry Cake

Light ladyfinger sponges, sandwiched together with sweet, vanillary creme patisserie, topped with fresh strawberries and jelly, coated in freshly whipped cream and toasted almonds.

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Strawberry cake is one of my must have desserts when I’m holiday in Germany. It’s such a lovely summery cake to have after a long walk!

I’ve been trying to recreate it at home for a few years now, but I never felt like I had quite got it right. But now I am a bit more experienced in different techniques, I thought I’d try again. And this time I think I’ve finally nailled it!

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I think the key to this dessert is making the sponge really light, so the cake is not stodgy or dense under all the cream and fruit.

I found the jelly topping the most difficult part of this dessert. First time round I had a bit of a disaster when I took it out of the fridge to early and it collapsed! So I would recommend making up the jelly with more gelatine or less water so that it sets very firmly. I used half the amount of water suggested on the packaging the second time round, and it came out really well.

As my family enjoyed this cake so much I thought I would bring it along to Fiesta Friday #75 hosted by  and co-hosted by Josette @ thebrookcook and Julie @ Hostess at Heart. Happy Friday everyone!

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Variations: You could use a different summer fruit for the top of the cake, raspberries or cherries would be really good. You could also exchange the creme patisserie for whipped cream and strawberry jam, to make this a bit simpler to make!

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Ingredients: Serves 8-10

The Ladyfinger Sponge:

  • 4 eggs
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 120g plain flour

Creme Patisserie:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • 1tbsp cornflour
  • 220ml full fat milk

Strawberry topping:

  • 12 strawberries, sliced lengthways
  • 1 sachet of strawberry quick jel or strawberry jelly.

Coating:

  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 100g toasted flaked almonds

Equipment:

  • spring form or loose bottomed cake tin
  • piping bag with star shaped nozzle

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To Make:

The Ladyfinger Sponges:

Preheat the oven to 180C and line three baking trays with greaseproof paper. Draw three circles on the grease proof paper, the same size as your loose bottomed or spring form cake tin.

Separate the egg yolks and egg whites. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then add 80g caster sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form.

Whisk together the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar until pale and fluffy. Pour into the egg whites  and fold in. Then fold in the flour.

Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a circular nozzle. Pipe 3 large circles of batter ono the baking trays, within the lines of the drawn on circles.

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Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown, leave to cool on a wire rack before assembling.

The Creme Patisserie:

Heat the milk over a medium heat until almost boiling. Meanwhile whisk together the eggs, sugar and flours in a large bowl until it forms a smooth paste.

Pour the hot milk over the paste bit at a time, whisking continuously, until completely combined. Return the mixture to the pan, and cook over a medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken.

Remove from the heat and pour back into the bowl. Stir in 1tbsp of butter until melted and combined.

Cover the top of the mixture with clingfilm and chill completely in the fridge before using.

The Strawberry Topping:

Place one of the sponges back into the cake tin, and arrange a layer of strawberries on top, in an overlapping radial pattern.

Make up the jelly according to the packet instructions (Try to use less water/more gelatine to make sure it sets firmly – I used half the amount of suggested water), and leave to cool for 10 minutes, then pour over the strawberries. Leave to set completely in the fridge.

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Assembling:

Place one of the sponges on a cake stand and spread over half the creme patisserie, then place on the second sponge, and spread over the rest of the creme patisserie. take the strawberry layer out of the fridge, and carefully slide this on top of the sponges.

Whip the double cream until stiff peaks form, then use a pallet knife to spread a layer around the sides of the cake. Then coat the outside of the cake with a layer of toasted almonds.

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Spoon the rest of the double cream into a clean piping bag with a star shaped nozzle, and pipe a ring of stars around the top and bottom of the cake.

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Cut into 8-10 slices and serve!

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Peach & Pecan Crumble Pie Bars

Buttery, shortbread base, topped with slices of sweet peaches, covered in a nutty, oaty, pecan crumble.

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Peaches are finally in season, so I couldn’t resist buying a few punnets for some baking!

I loved the idea of making a peach pie, but I wanted to do something a bit less complex, and that could be sliced up and given away more easily, so I decided to make peach pie bars.

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To add a bit more flavour to my bake,I decided to add a pecan crumble topping, which gives a lovely nutty flavour and crunchy texture to the pie bars.

These were a delicious hot dessert, and even good just sliced up cold! If your looking for the flavour of a pie without the effort then I recommend these!

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I will be bringing my peach pie bars to Fiesta Friday#74 this week, hosted by , Loretta @ Safari Of The Mind and Caroline @ Caroline’s Cooking.

Happy Friday!

Variations: You could use any fruit in these bars, apple or pear would be good, and you could add some berries!

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Ingredients: Makes 15 slices

Shortbread:

  • 250g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 350g plain flour

Peaches:

  • 4-5 peaches, peeled, stoned and sliced

Pecan crumble:

  • 150g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 300g flour
  • 1 handful of porridge oats
  • 50g crushed pecans

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To Make:

The Shortbread:

Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and line a rectangular brownie dish.

Rub together the butter, flour and sugar to form a breadcrumb-like consistency.

Press the mixture into the baking dish, covering the entire area.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.

The Peach Filling:

Lay the sliced peaches over the top of the shortbread, until completely covered, return to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.

The Crumble Topping:

Rub together the butter, sugar and flour to form a breadcrumb like consistency. Then stir through the oats and pecans.

Pour the crumble mixture over the peaches and make sure they are completely covered.

Return to the oven for another 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

Leave to cool slightly, then remove from the tin and slice into 12-15 squares.

Serve warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

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Potato Cakes

Deliciously fluffy, chewy patties of potato, fried in butter for a crispy finish.

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Potato Cakes were one of my favourite snacks when I was younger, especially when they were covered in baked beans and cheese.

I have always wanted to make them, but never actually got round to it. This weekend I was trying to think of something savoury to bake, and my boyfriend requested that I tried to make potato cakes like his grandma used to make them, so I had to give it a go!

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I had a look online and saw that the recipe was really very simple, just mashed potato, egg, butter and flour!

I made half of my potato cakes plain, and the for the other half I added some grated cheddar cheese and chives, for a bit of extra flavour.

These potato cakes taste really good, and they are great as a snack or as part of a meal. Next time I’m making mash potato, I will definitely make extra so that I can do a batch of potato cakes!

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Variations: you could mix in whatever you want to the potato cake mix. I think some little chunks of bacon would be great, or some onions.

Ingredients: Makes 25 Small Potato Cakes

  • 1kg mashed potato (mashed with milk and butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 25g butter, melted
  • 150g plain flour plus extra for kneading
  • 2 tbsp grated cheddar cheese (optional)
  • handful of chopped chives (optional)

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To Make:

In a large bowl combine the mashed potato with the melted butter, egg and four (and the cheddar and chives if using) and mix thoroughly.

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Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead for a few minutes until it forms a doughy like consistency  Рadd more flour if it is required.

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Roll out the dough to about 1.5cm thickness, and use a cookie cutter to cut out individual potato cakes.

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Fry the potato cakes in butter, over a medium heat for about 3 minutes either side, until golden brown and crispy. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Serve warm with a good covering of butter.

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Rhubarb Jam

Sweet and sticky jam, made with tart chunks of fresh rhubarb.

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As we are now in full rhubarb season, I decided to make some rhubarb jam. I have used a recipe from the river cottage preserves book which is really simple, but works so well.

Rhubarb is one of my favourite fruits, so I have kept this jam super simple, and just used rhubarb and sugar. I can’t wait to use it in some rhubarb themed cakes!

Variations: you could add some other fruit to the rhubarb jam like raspberries or strawberries. Some orange juice would also work well, or some rose petals, thrown in at the end.

Ingredients: Makes Two 300g jars

  • 500g Rhubarb
  • 300g Jam Sugar

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To Make:

In a large pan, cover the bottom with a layer of jam sugar, then add a layer of rhubarb, followed by sugar etc. until you have used up all the rhubarb and sugar, I think I ended up with about 3 rhubarb layers.

Leave the pan for a few hours, this gives time for all the juices to come out of the rhubarb. After a few hours you should be able to see the sugar is wet with the rhubarb juices.

Cook the rhubarb over a high heat until. The chunks of rhubarb are tender and some of them begin to break down.

Check the jam is set by spooning a small amount onto a cold plate. If it sets on the plate then the jam is ready!

Pour the hot jam into sterilized jam jars and seal tightly. The jam should keep for about 6 months. Once opened store in the fridge and it will keep for a few weeks.

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Lusciously Lemony Blueberry Cake

Moist, blueberry sponge, sandwiched together with tangy lemon curd and fresh blueberries, coated in a sweet lemon buttercream.

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I have been wanting to develop my piping skills on a proper cake for quite a while now, so I decided to make time to practice at the weekend.

I had seen quite a few videos online showing how to pipe roses onto cakes, which loooked really easy, so I have tried my hand at it on this cake and I think has turned out really nicely!

I have made a very summery cake with lemon and blueberries, to celebrate blueberry season! It’s a really good flavour combination, as the sweet blueberries and tart lemon complement eachother beautifully.

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I took this into work, and people were very impressed with the decoration (and the taste of course!). This would make a great celebration cake, so I will definitely be making it again for a special occasion!

It was super simple to do, but looks really effective, so I will definitely be using this decorating method on different cakes! Maybe next time I will try two toned roses instead.

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Variations: You could use a different berry in the sponge, I think raspberry would work well. Also, you could use a different flavour for the buttercream, so lime or orange would probably taste really good!

Ingredients: Serves 8-10

The Sponge:

  • 250g butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g blueberries
  • Juice and zest of two lemons
  • 300g self raising flour

The Buttercream:

  • 250g Butter
  • Juice and zest of two lemons
  • 650g Icing Sugar

Filling & Decorating:

  • 100g fresh blueberries
  • 4 tbsp lemon curd

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To Make:

The Sponge:

Preheat the oven to 180C, grease and line two 20cm circular cake tins.

Blitz the blueberries with the lemon juice and zest in a small blender.

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In a large bowl, cream together the  butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Fold in the eggs one at a time, followed by the blueberry liquid. Finally fold in the flour.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tins, making sure each has an equal amount. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until cooked though and golden brown.

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Leave to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

The Buttercream: 

Cream together the butter, lemon juice and zest in a large bowl. Gradually add the icing sugar until it reaches a stiff, and glossy consistency.

Assembling:

Place one of the sponges on a cake stand and spread  half the lemon curd over the top, Then add a layer of lemon buttercream, followed by the remaining curd and a scattering of fresh blueberries.

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Place the second sponge on top, then coat the outside of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream.

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Spoon the rest of the buttercream into a piping bag, fitted with a star shaped nozzle. Pipe a row of dots around the base of the cake, then pipe roses all round the side of the cake  and on top. (You make the rose shape, by piping a swirl from the centre out).

Decorate with a few fresh blueberries and serve!

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