Sunday, 7 September 2014


After 2 years of creating recipes and blogging them every single week, I feel like this project has come to an end. I’ve achieved what I wanted to, an online cookbook which has over 100 recipes, and ones that I’ll continue to make and be proud of. This past month I’ve been mega busy finishing my MA, whilst working and volunteering and trying to create a recipe started to feel like another thing I had to keep up with, another deadline to meet, and that’s not what I wanted from this. I’ve since finished my MA and I’m now looking for a full time job, so I feel like soon I’ll (hopefully) be onto a different stage in life. It’s not to say I won’t blog again in the future, I’m already considering setting blog pages for The Ginger Bread Dad, or the The Ginger Bread Grandad.

A massive thank you for your support, I’ve met some great cyber friends along the way and I’ll keep open the twitter account so I can still admire your food ventures and occasionally tweet what I’m eating without the pressure of crafting a recipe out of it. This site will also stay open and exist as the online cookbook that I wanted it to be. Getting my recipe published in olive, and winning ‘Best Young Blogger’ at the 2013 ‘Blog North Awards’ amongst my greatest achievements in life. I will also greatly miss pretending to be a 1950s film star.


Wil- formerly The Ginger Bread Lad 
Blogger Tricks

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


If you haven’t had Russian slice before then you haven’t live. It’s a dense, boozy cake, usually made with the left over bits of other cakes and squashed together with some rum and jam. It’s hard to find recipes for it anywhere really, I don’t really think there is an exact one, and the existing ones I came across all used stale, bought cake. Not wanting to have any chemicals or preservatives in something I’d like to call homemade, I decided to make it completely from scratch, with a plain vanilla and chocolate sponge (from the same batter) that I leave out for about a day to dry up before reviving with the booze and topping with icing. I’m proud to say that I’ve created and mastered my own recipe for a homemade Russian slice.

250g butter, room temp
250g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
250g self raising flour
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp cocoa powder
A few splashes of milk (if necessary)
5 tbsp dark rum
3 tbsp apricot jam

For the Icing
8 tbsp icing sugar
4 tbsp dark rum
About 2 squares of dark chocolate

Preheat oven to fan160/180c/4. Grease 2 loaf tins with butter then dust with icing sugar.
Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Alternate adding the eggs and flour, whilst mixing, until you have a thick cake batter. Add the vanilla extract and then loosen the batter with some milk if it seems too thick. Pour half of this mixture into one of the tins. Add the cocoa powder to the other half, stir well and then pour this into the other tin. Bake both for about 35-40 minutes, until risen and springy. Turn both of the cakes out onto a wire rack and leave to cool. Leave these here, covered with a little kitchen paper, overnight and longer to dry out.

Line a loaf tin with cling film, going both ways and leaving excess over the edges.
Once the cakes are dry break them up randomly into a large mixing bowl. Pour over the rum and apricot jam and mix well (with your hands) until you have a dense and wet mixture. Press the mixture firmly into the loaf tin, levelling it out and then covering with the excess cling film. Take another loaf tin and fill with weights (or anything heavy-jam jars work) and place on top of the cake to weigh it down. Refrigerate overnight for the cake to set and the flavours develop.

Once the cake is ready, remove the weight but leave in the tin to ice. Mix together the icing sugar and rum until you have a thick icing then pour over the cake and spread out. Melt the chocolate for a minute in the microwave and spoon over in lines (in one direction) over the icing. Take a toothpick or a knife and drag the icing in lines backwards and forwards in the other direction to give you a feathered affect. Pop back in the fridge for the icing to set before removing from the tin with the cling film, slicing and enjoying this boozy, underrated and 100% homemade treat.  

Monday, 4 August 2014


When I’ve been in cafes lately I’ve noticed that the vegan cake that I’ve been daring to try is loads better than the normal varieties. They have more interesting flavours, are more fudgy and coming with less guilt (especially for me since my brother is a vegan). I wondered how they could possibly achieve this and, without examining existing recipes that much, I did what I do with all the vegan recipes I make: experiment. I put in banana instead of eggs and coconut oil instead of butter, two ingredients which, if you think about it, add a much more distinctive flavour. I weighed the banana like you weigh eggs when concocting a recipe then worked on other ingredients from there, adding lime to zest things up. I expected a massive disaster. What I actually got was one of the finest cakes I’ve ever made. It’s a miracle. Veganism wins.

1 medium-large ripe banana (about 250g with the skin on)
8 tbsp coconut oil
200g golden caster sugar
250g self raising flour
Zest and juice of 2 limes

Heat the oven to fan180/200c/6.
Grease a loaf tine with a little bit of coconut oil and then dust it with a little bit of flour.

Mush the banana into a paste-like consistency in a large bowl. Add the coconut oil and whip together with the banana. Stir in the sugar and then the flour until you have a thick cake batter. Zest in the limes then squeeze in juice to thin out the batter. Stir well then pour into tin and bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack. I’d say serve with coffee but if you want a full-on vegan health experience have it with some boiling water and lemon. 

Saturday, 26 July 2014


I will admit that my last blondie recipe (strawberry blondes) wasn’t really a blondie, delicious nonetheless, but not really a blondie. It didn’t have the density, that chewiness that blondies have. I will also admit that I thought blondies were called that because they used white chocolate and after eating quite a lot of them on my coffee break at uni and researching, I realised its because of the soft brown sugar. Weird how you use a darker sugar and it gets called a lighter name (my excuse for not knowing).  So this recipe is all about capturing that. It’s a blondie recipe at its simplest, the only addition being a browning of the butter to give an even deeper, richer flavour.  

125g butter
200g soft light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g flour
A splash of milk (if necessary)

Makes 8 

Preheat oven to fan160/180c/4.
Line and grease a 8x8 brownie tin.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and leave to simmer for a good few minutes once fully melted. When the butter is properly bubbly keep an eye on the colour and smell, when it starts to ripple brown when stirred, and smell slightly nutty, remove from the heat. Pour the butter into a mixing bowl then add the sugar. Stir together well until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and give another mix. Finally, add the flour. Beat well until you have a thick, almost sticky batter. It should be like this, but if it is too stiff add a little splash of milk to loosen. Pour the mixture into the tin and even out.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is cracked looking but you can feel the blondie still has a firm squidgy-ness (the density is what you want). Leave to cool in the tin before removing and cutting one way 4 times, and the other way 2, so that you have 8 strips. These go perfectly with a coffee. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014


This is a mega speedy dessert, made in my favourite miniature frying pan, but if you want to make one to feed a few people just triple the recipe I’d say. It’s like a pastry-less almond-y custard tart, but filled with juicy tart apricots. A sweet frittata. It takes no time but tastes like it took a long time. Win.  

1 egg
Splash of milk
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
3 tbsp amaretto liqueur
3 apricots, sliced in half, stones removed
Tiny knob of butter and ½ tsp golden caster sugar for frying

In a small bowl mix beat together the egg, milk, sugar and 2 tbsps of the amaretto to make a smooth batter for the frittata.

Preheat the grill ready for browning the top of the frittata. Melt the butter over a low flame in a miniature frying pan with ½ tsp of sugar. Add the apricots, halved faces down first off and fry for about 20 seconds. Flip them over, so the halves are facing upwards then add 1 tbsp of the amaretto and fry for about 20-30 seconds.

Pour over the batter and swish around the pan a little. Allow to set, swishing occasionally for about 2-3 minutes until there only remains a little bit of thin batter in the pan. At this point place under the grill (leaving the handle outside) to brown, rise and set the rest of the batter. It will probably take about 1 minute to set.

Once ready, slide off the pan onto a little place and enjoy this mini sweet take on a savoury classic. 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014


I suppose this pie could be called ‘pink pie’ since the insides are all pink, but I opted for the other alliteration of ‘rhubarb and raspberry’ as the title since you also have to know what’s in there. It’s a pie that’s quite summery actually, even though most pies are autumnal/wintery. The sharpness of both of the fruits help liven this little classic up and, served with some ice cream, it makes a perfect post-dinner treat.

200g plain flour
100g cold butter
About 6 tbsp water
175g raspberries
175g rhubarb, chopped
75g golden sugar
2 extra tbsps flour
1 egg
A little extra sugar for sprinkling

Make the pastry by blitzing the flour and butter, or rubbing in by hand. Slowly add the water and mix until a dough just about forms. Transfer it onto a sheet of cling-film, wrap around and press into a ball. Chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Mix together the raspberries, chopped rhubarb, sugar and flour in a bowl then set to one side.

Heat the oven to fan170/190/5.
Once chilled, allow the pastry to warm up for 5 minutes before rolling out and using just over half to line a small pie dish. Press the pastry into the corners of the dish with a little ball of the excess pastry then take a knife around the edges of the pie to cut off any that is hanging over. Fill the now pastry-lined dish with the fruit. Re-roll the left over pastry into a circle for the lid. Lay over the top of the pie and cut away any large excess, but leave a slight overhang to turn under for sealing. Press a fork around the entire outside of the pie to seal the two pastry layers together and create a crimped look. Slice 2 holes in the centre of the pie to let the steam escape. You can make any shapes to stick on top with the left over pastry, but I crafted a ‘R + R Pie’ design, which looked rough, but quite charming.

Beat the egg with a folk then brush over the top of the pie to help give a shiny finish.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and the fruit bubbles out of the little slit. Sprinkle over some sugar to finish and serve hot. 

Monday, 30 June 2014


The words Wimbledon and Mess should not be together, since Wimbledon is the best time of the year. This is a take on an Eton mess though, using the food staple of Wimbledon at the centre: strawberries and cream. To play up to the theme I’ve also added pistachios and a little white chocolate (white and green like the tennis balls- a combination I’ve already tried to last year’s Wimbledon in ice cream here) which adds extra bursts of flavour and texture alongside the meringue. On another note, I used Scottish strawberries. That one’s for you Murray.

400ml double cream
Splash of vanilla extract
About 16 strawberries, 12 hulled, 4 left whole
1 tbsp icing sugar
4 meringue nests
100g shelled pistachios
A few squares of white chocolate

Whip the double cream until it just reaches medium peak stage. Blend the 12 hulled strawberries into a thick sauce then add the icing sugar and mix in well. Break the meringue nests into bite size pieces into the cream alongside half of the pistachios. Pour the blended strawberries into the cream, leaving a few teaspoons behind, then gently ripple through.

Divide the mixture equally between 4 wine glasses. Take the left over blended strawberries and pour a little bit onto the top of each mess so that you can do another, more defined ripple. Scatter the remainder of the pistachios on top of each. Put a slit in the bottom of the 4 whole strawberries and onto the lip of each glass. Finally, run a knife over the back on the white chocolate squares to create thin, shard like pieces and scatter over the top. A beautiful mess to enjoy in front of the tennis.