Monday, 24 December 2012


This might seem a bit last minute, but it’s a cake my mum makes around this time of year and saves it for when we have family round after Christmas. Not sure where the recipe actually comes from, but it has a wintery feel, without screaming Christmas and that’s why I like it. Plus it’s really easy. Don’t be tempted to tuck in on Christmas day, let the flavours develop and rediscover the taste of winter after the big day.

170g soft brown sugar
115g butter
Small tin crushed pineapple
110g glace cherries
225g mixed fruit
2 large eggs
225g self raising flour

Preheat oven to 150fan/170c/3 Grease and line a deep 7inch cake tin, or you could use a loaf tin. Put all ingredients, except the eggs and flour, into a pan and bring to the boil. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes then mix in the eggs and flour.

Pour into the tin and bake at the bottom of oven for about an hour, or until a skewer entered comes out clean. When baked, leave to cool for around 5 minutes before turning out of tin and leaving to cool completely. Let the cake stand in an airtight container for at least 3 days, but if you really can’t wait it will still be nice, or if you want to leave it longer, that’s fine too.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


Sly cake is a traditional Yorkshire recipe that gets its name for appearing a boring pastry block on the outside, but slyly hiding a rich fruit filling within. I’ve spruced up this classic by make it into individual parcels, fitting for the season, and using filo pastry instead of short crust. I’ve also added another casing to the fruit, wrapping it in marzipan before masking it with the pastry. If that wasn’t enough, I also cook down the fruit with amaretto before adding flaked almonds, instead of the traditional hazelnuts. That way you get a crisp and plain looking parcel, hiding a gooey lining of marzipan, hiding a chewy and crunchy filling of rich almond-y fruit. Sly indeed.

Makes 4

100g dates 
4 tablespoons amaretto 
50g mixed fruit 
25g flaked almonds 
200g marzipan 
4 sheets of filo pastry 

Preheat oven to fan200/220c/7.
Cook the dates and amaretto on a gentle heat in a small saucepan until the dates soak up the amaretto and begin to break down. Add the mix fruit and cook for a further minute or so before taking off the heat and mixing in the almonds. The mixture should be really thick and almost solid. Pop in the fridge to cool. 

Roll out the marzipan until reasonably thin and divide into 2. Press the date mixture into 4 equal squares. Take a date box and place inside one of the halves of marzipan. Fold the marzipan round the mixture to encase it, flattening and trying to get it to a rectangular box as much as you can. Make sure the marzipan completely seals the fruit. Trim the spare marzipan from either edge of the box and re-roll this to make the third and forth cake. 

When you have 4 boxes prepare for the second wrapping. With the sheets, as when working with all filo pastry, you'll have to be quite quick. Melt a knob of butter ready to brush over the entire surface of the sheet. For one sly cake, fold the sheet length ways and inwards until a third of its size and you have a thin, tall rectangle (so the pastry is in 3 layers). Place the box at the bottom of the pastry, and then wrap it all way around, folding over from the bottom upwards. Treat the spare edges like you would a present, tucking inwards before pulling up the sides, and sealing with lots of butter. The edges will try and spring back and eventually will in the oven anyway but just push them into the box to stop them unravelling completely. Repeat until you have parcels. 

Transfer onto a baking tray, lined with greaseproof and bake for 8 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown. 


This is one of my new favourite recipes, and I’ve tried to explain it the best I can and hopefully succeeded. I really need a TV show or something to show the technique of it, if any producers are reading, I’m up for it.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


In this recipe I’ve tried to pack a lot of Christmas flavours into a speedy dessert, saving the before-hand preparation of a Christmas cake and also have an almost custard or cream in the dessert, making it a good all-rounder.

250g figs, fresh would like better but I could only get hold of dry and they worked well
100g dried mixed fruit soaked in 3 tbsp brandy
150ml double cream
150ml milk
1 cinnamon stick, snapped
4 eggs 150g sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
Preheat oven fan160°/180c/4
Lay the figs and the mixed fruit at the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle over some sugar just to coat the figs and bring out the sweetness.

Bring the cream and milk to boil in a small saucepan with the cinnamon stick and then remove from the heat. Leave to cool then remove the cinnamon stick. Beat together the eggs and sugar until well aerated then fold in the flour. Pour the cream and milk into the egg mixture and whisk well before pouring over the figs and mixed fruit and baking for 30 minutes.

When ready, the clafoutis should have set but still maintain a slight wobble. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

In other news, any vegetarian readers, or non for that matter, might be interested in my friend’s blog Two Fat Vegetarians. I met Anthea, one of the bloggers, on my food writing course and she asked me to write a dessert recipe for the blog, so I chose churros with chilli chocolate sauce, check it out.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


Along with salt and black pepper, tiger bread is my favourite form of loaf. Once it’s out, I end up eating enough to fill a tiger. I’ve been finding it hard to find recipes which strike the balance between the crackled top and the nutty flavour of the baked in store supermarket loafs so I’ve decided to take it on myself. Here I’m using just my basic white loaf recipe, with toasted sesame oil instead of butter for the nutty taste, and have based the paste recipe on Lorraine Pascale’s take on the bread, her crackled top loaf, but adding sesame oil to this as well. Here’s the weird part. I really like the flavoursome chewiness of the supermarket loafs beneath the crusty top so before I add the tiger paste to the bread, I brush it over with marmite to get this, as well as more of the distinguished tiger loaf flavour. I suppose tiger bread is just as much as a love/hate thing anyway.

500g strong white bread flour
1½ tsp salt
1 sachet action dry yeast
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Around 300ml warm water

For the Tiger Paste
50g rice flour
1 tsp sugar A
 pinch of salt
½ tsp yeast
2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Put the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl, keeping the salt and yeast separate so that the yeast doesn’t die. Mix in the butter and slowly begin to add the water, until you get a rough sticky dough. The wetter the better.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead for around 10 minutes, pushing the dough away from you whilst folding it in on itself. Once the dough is smooth, soft and slowly springs back when touched, form into a ball and place into a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film that has been rubbed with oil and leave to rise in a warm place for around an hour. Next to a radiator, in the sun or the airing cupboard are my favourite rising places.

In the meantime make the tiger paste. Mix all of the ingredients then add about 50ml of warm water to make it into a paste. It will look like wet sand at this point, but it will work its magic later. Set to one side.

Once the dough has doubled in size, take your fist and punch the dough to release the air. Knead once more for a couple of minutes then shape into an oval, or any variation of loaf shape you want. Transfer to a baking sheet, cover with the same cling film then leave to rise once more for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size again.

Within this time preheat the oven at fan 200°/220c/8, putting a small, empty baking tray in the bottom. Once the dough has risen, drizzle generously with the marmite in tiger-like stripes then rub all over with the tiger paste, which will also help distribute the marmite. Add cold water to the empty baking tray to create steam which allows the bread to rise before forming a crust. Bake the bread for around 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crackled and the bottom sounds hallow when tapped.

Mine actually came out with a tiger print; normally tiger bread actually looks more giraffe-like. I’d love to say I did it on purpose, but who knows, yours might come out like that too and I can claim I did.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


This recipe takes inspiration from a lot of things I learnt/made on the food writing course I went on it September. First off, it’s basically a sweet version of a puff pastry quiche tart we made for the vegetarians on a night when my team made traditional steak and ale pie for tea. Back then I was taught to make proper puff pastry, here I’m opting for rough puff, mainly for time but also for the thickness of the pastry. I won’t judge if you’d prefer to buy puff though to make this recipe even quicker, or if you want to make proper puff, you’ll feel like you’ve achieved something massive if you do. When I was at Arvon, the lady who taught me to make puff pastry also introduced me to Barbados cream. It’s a mixture of lightly whipped double cream and Greek yogurt, which seems pretty normal, until it’s topped with Demerara sugar. Then something weird happens. Over a short period of time in the fridge, the sugar seems to melt almost and you get a marbled affect of a sweet liquid running through the cream. Don’t ask me how it happens, I haven’t got a clue. I just know it’s cool. You have to use a golden unrefined or brown sugar for it though, which I always use anyway. Funnily enough, the sugar I use is actually called ‘Barbados sugar’ and I buy it for 50p a bag at my local home bargains (seriously). Anyway, I put all of these things together, including the fact we also made poached pears on my cooking night, and created my Brandy Pear tart with Brandy spiked Barbados cream.

For the rough puff pastry
250g plain flour
Pinch of salt
250g cold butter 
100ml cold water
1 tsp icing sugar

For the filling 
Around 5-6 pears
4 eggs
2 tbsp sugar
A generous shot of Brandy

For the Barbados Cream 
150ml double cream
200g Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp Brandy
2 tbsp unrefined golden sugar

Mix flour and salt in a bowl then add the butter in rough little chunks, nothing too precise because you want the odd larger piece in the pastry to give the puff. Roughly rub the butter into the flour, until a mixture which resembles part breadcrumbs part flour-coated butter chunks is formed. Make a well in the centre and add the water. Mix in with a cold knife until you get a dough. Transfer onto a piece of cling film then shape into a ball with this. Leave to cool in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Once cooled, leave the dough to warm for about 5 minutes then roll out on the cling-film (good, mess reducing tip), mainly lengthways until tripled in size. You’ll need lots of flour at the ready because the exposed butter in the pastry sticks a lot. Imagine the dough in thirds and fold the first one over the middle, and the remaining one over this. Do a quarter turn so that the layers are facing you (these are called book ends and you should always roll in this way) then roll out in one, long ways direction until tripled in size (mainly length) again. Fold as before, wrap in the cling film then leave to cool again for at least 30 minutes. I knocked this out the night before, with emphasis on rough, so it cooled over night.

Preheat oven 200fan/200c/7
Line a rectangle baking tray and roll out the pastry to fit this. Transfer onto tray and fold over then pinch the edges to makes the walls of the tart. Prick the base then dust all over with icing sugar. Bake for around 15 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up.

In the meantime peal the pears and slice in half. Remove the tougher flesh from the centre with a teaspoon and if possible, cut the halved pears in half again. You might want to poach the pears in some sugar and water for 5 minutes to soften, depending on whether you want a crunch or not. Beat the eggs and milk together with the sugar then add the generous slosh of brandy.

When the tart base has baked, arrange the pears on top and pour around with the egg mixture. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until the egg-like custard is firmly set and the pears are just starting to brown.

Whilst the tart is baking, make the Barbados cream by whipping the double cream until it just begins to leave a ripple then add the Greek yoghurt and Brandy, mixing these in well. Sprinkle the unrefined sugar on top of the cream and leave in fridge until the magic happens, when the sugar seems to melts. When the tart is baked, leave to cool for 10 minutes or so before dusting with icing sugar and serving with the sugar mottled Barbados cream.

The sugar on the cream goes darker and melts more the longer you leave it, or if you use brown sugar because of the molasses in it. I'm highly impatient and couldn't wait to take the picture and that's why it looks quite light.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Churros are brilliant little things. They’re sort of like eating a doughnut without the fuss of the preparation and with the fun on dunking. Churros tend to come rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with a dark chocolate sauce, a winning combination, but you can get this recipe anywhere so I thought I’d give a new take on them, serving them with a vanilla fudge sauce (not a chocolaty fudge one) . You could say I’ve tried to make these Mexican/Spanish treats more English, I like to think I’ve made them more fitting for this time of the year. There something about the traditional churros which screams blazing sun and this is what makes them unbeatable. But let’s be honest, there’s only going to be about 10 days in the whole English year the sun blazes, so for the cold days here’s my vanilla fudge take.
Having said all this, I was asked to guest blog for my friend’s blog Having said all this, I was asked to guest blog for my friend’s blog Two Fat Vegetarians so I chose to swing completely the other way and add more heat to the churros by serving them with a chilli chocolate sauce (with real chilli seeds). The recipe is here.

For the Churros 
300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
a generous knob of melted butter
around 500ml boiling water
1tbsp vanilla extract
Around 1-2 litres oil for frying (I use sunflower)

For the Fudge Sauce
125g light muscavado sugar
50g butter
4 tbsp golden syrup
200ml double cream
1tsp vanilla extract

Begin by making the sauce. Heat the sugar, butter and golden syrup in a pan until melted together and glossy. Stir in the double cream and vanilla extract until and leave to heat for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously, until the sauce thickens a little. Set to one side.

To make the churros mix together the flour and baking powder then stir in the melted butter, make a well in the centre and mix in the boiling water until a thick dough forms. Add the vanilla extract and stir well.

Leave the mixture to one side and either fill a large pan one third of the way up with the oil or preheat a mini deep fat fryer (I recently purchased one, but I have to use it in the garage because my mum hates the smell of frying in the house- I’m dedicated to this recipe). To test the oil drop in a tiny piece of bread, it should brown within about 20-30 seconds if the oil is at the right temperature. When you reach this stage, transfer the churros mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star-like nozzle. Pipe the mixture straight into the hot oil, pulling the bag upwards to let the mixture fall into the oil. Be careful not to splash here, hot oil is lethal. I’d like to keep the churros in long, chunky and dunkable strips, put my limited piping bag and nozzle equipment (world’s worst piper) mean that I can only get bite size ones so I let the mixture fall quicker. Fry for about 1-2 minutes, or until floating and golden brown.

Let the churros rest on a paper towel to remove the excess oil, before dusting with icing sugar and serving with the fudge sauce. This recipe is great for having mates round because everyone can just tuck in and get a messy, which is always good.

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Everyone loves a good ginger biscuit, and it’s one of those recipes that can’t really be improved so I looked to tradition and found one of my grandma’s old recipes and here it is. I like to make these larger than normal ginger biscuits, into chunks, which obviously makes them more satisfying. Less isn’t always more. Plus, I used to be a ginger chunk when I was a baby, so these are, in a way, the confection version of me.

90g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
280g self raising flour
200g sugar
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tbsp boiling water

Preheat oven to fan170/190c/5
Grease 2 medium baking trays. Melt together butter and golden syrup in a small pan then set to one side. Mix the flour, sugar, ginger and bicarb together, making sure the ginger is well dispersed through the dry ingredients. Pour in the melted sugar and butter and mix until a thick, dry dough forms. Loosen with the boiling water.

Divide the mixture into oval, almost rugby ball shapes, pressing down a little on the tray. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until firm but maintain a little softness if pressed hard. Bake for a few minutes longer if you like your ginger biscuits really crunchy and highly dunk proof.


Monday, 5 November 2012


Another bonfire night recipe, but it is the best time of the year and this one is inspired by the 5th of November staple; toffee apples. It’s really just a new take on a sticky toffee pudding, expect it has the sweetness of apples running through the sponge as well as the dark toffee flavour of dates. To enhance the stickiness, I like to serve this with a toffee sauce which is poured over the pudding. It firms to a sticky toffee when set, but melts to a rich sauce when heated and when poured onto the apple slices which are baked on top of the pudding, you almost get a toffee apple, just with a pudding sitting underneath.

150g dates, pitted 
3-4 cooking apples, 150g of these cubed 
300ml boiling water 
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 
50g butter 
150g light brown sugar 
1 tbsp golden syrup 
2 eggs 
225g flour 

For the Sauce 
100g butter 
100g light brown sugar 
1 tbsp golden syrup 

Preheat oven at fan180/200c/6 
Grease a relatively large baking dish. Soak the dates and cubed apples in the boiling water with the bicarb for around 5 minutes. Once softened blitz the dates and apples, with half of the water, into a purée and set to one side. 

Tip- It’s always handy to have a wedge of lemon when working with apples to squeeze over when cutting, they brown in no time. 

Cream together the butter and sugar then add the golden syrup. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, before adding the flour. Once a thick batter forms, mix in the pureed date and apple. Pour this into baking dish. 

Slice the remaining apples from one side to another in order to keep each slice in a full circle. Arrange the slices across the top the mixture in the dish. The idea is for each portion of the cake, you can a full, circular slice of the apple. Sprinkle the apples with sugar and bake for 30-35 minutes. 

In the meantime make the toffee sauce by melting all the ingredients together in a saucepan. Once melted, leave on a low flame for 2-3 minutes to thicken, but don’t worry if the sauce looks a little thin, it will thicken whilst it cools. 

To serve either take a slice of the cake and drizzle over the rich toffee sauce. Or you can pour the whole of the sauce over the pudding once it’s come out of the oven. The sauce will almost turn into sticky toffee because of the lack of cream, but that way you not only get toffee apple inside the cake, but one on top as well.


Tuesday, 30 October 2012


I promised I’d master my cinder toffee tart before bonfire night and here it is, early enough to be made in advance, or even for Halloween. Cinder toffee is what we call honeycomb in Yorkshire and it’s a tradition to eat it, alongside bonfire toffee, on bonfire night. I wanted to make this into a proper dessert, and chose to invent a tart with a dark caramel filling which has the taste of bonfire toffee, topped with the crisp and golden spectacle that is cinder toffee.

For the pastry
250g flour
1 tbsp icing sugar
125g cold butter, cubed
1 cold egg

For the Filling 
30g butter
40g flour
300g dark brown sugar
250ml milk
2 egg yolks
1tsp vanilla extract

Cinder Toffee 
75g sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

To make the pastry, blitz the flour, icing sugar and butter together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the egg with a fridge cold knife (I put it in the freezer for a few minutes) until a dough just about starts to form. You may need 1-2 tbsp of cold water as well, depending on the size of the egg. Turn out onto a piece of cling film, and with the cling film, squash the dough together to form a ball, then flatten a little to make it easier to roll. Pop in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

During this time preheat the oven at fan180°/200c/6. Once rested, remove the pastry from the fridge and leave to warm up a little before rolling it out on a lightly floured surface. Use the pastry to line a medium tart tin, fluting the edges with the back of a wooden spoon and pricking the base with a fork. Trim the excess pastry to fit the tin. Screw up a piece of baking paper and use it to cover the pastry base, covering above the edges of the tart dish. Fill with baking beans or rice (I actually use dried chickpeas because they were the cheapest thing I could find) and bake for 10 minutes before removing the beans and paper and baking for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown and firm. The oven can now be turned off.

In the meantime make the filling by melting the butter in a pan before adding the flour and mixing into a paste. Add the sugar, milk, egg yolks and vanilla and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring continuously until thick and glossy. Pour the filling into the baked pastry case, levelling out as much as possible. Leave to cool for around 30 minutes. 

Make the cinder toffee by mixing the golden syrup and sugar in a small pan then bring to boil and cook for around 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat and whisk in the bicarb, don’t be alarmed by the growing foam substance, this will make the air pockets in the cinder toffee. At this point, pour the molten cinder toffee straight onto the tart, teasing it towards the edges to cover the whole filling. This can be done with a knife but try to work fast because it will harden rapidly.

The cinder toffee forms a hard shell on the top of the dark caramel filling which gives a fantastic contrast in texture. To serve, bash the topping to break the surface before attempting to cut or else the filling will just ooze out from the pressure. After the first day, the cinder toffee does soften and becomes an as-equally appealing chewiness which blends well with the dark caramel.

This is one of my favourite recipes I’ve created, so don’t be put off by how unconventional it sounds, it does work.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


It’s the time of year when parkin is necessary. This recipe is for traditional parkin, not the really sticky one which people associate now (though that is equally as good) but the one which you make into a loaf, slice and then leave for 3 days before eating. The recipe here is one of my great-grandma’s which I found and converted from ounce to grams (by using old scales to new, no online-converter short cuts!) then tweaked a bit to ensure maximum moisture. I don’t know what it is about parkin that makes this time of year one of the best, teamed with the smoky bonfires and dark nights, but it defiantly is an October/November necessity.

225g butter
4 tbsp black treacle
2 tbsp milk
200g flour
200g oatmeal
115g dark brown sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarb
1½ tsp ginger
2 Eggs

Preheat oven to fan160/180C/4
Line and grease a small loaf tin. Melt together butter, treacle and milk until a dark, thin syrup but don’t allow to boil. Set to one side.

Mix the remaining dry ingredients then make a well in the centre. Beat in the eggs to form a rough dough, then pour in the treacle and butter mixture. Mix into a smooth batter. Pour mixture into the tin and bake for 45minutes.

The parkin is a dark mixture and then loaf due to the black treacle so don’t be alarmed if it looks burnt in the first 5 minutes, but also be more vigilant because of this! When ready, the parkin should spring back when touched and withstand the trusty skewer test. Once baked, leave to cool for a couple of minutes in the tin before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely. Slice the parkin and store in an airtight container for 3 days for the flavors to develop (it is worth the wait), though if you’re greedy like me, no one would really notice that one slice had gone missing


Tuesday, 16 October 2012


I was going to save this recipe for a more summery time, but due to popular demand (well one person- but a significant person, Jason from last year’s bake off who shared my blog on his twitter after I shamelessly plugged it on his blog) I’m adding it now. Its a new take on the classic brownie made using the equally classic combination of strawberry and white chocolate. Being completely honest, how these came about is proper stupid. I was thinking about brownies and blondies and thought there is nothing for ginger people. Then I thought that all ginger people (including myself) go through the period of denying they’re ginger and saying ‘its strawberry blonde’… and that’s how it happened. I know it’s a completely invalid argument considering all the recipes which use ginger as a staple, like parkin which incidentally is coming next week, more fitting of the season. 
100g butter
250g white chocolate
200g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
150g plain flour
150g strawberries, hulled

Makes- 12

Preheat oven fan180°/200c/4
Line and grease a 20x20cm brownie tin Melt together butter and chocolate over a bain-marie, then transfer to a larger bowl and mix in the sugar, eggs and flour. Pour this mixture into brownie tin and set to one side.

Blend the strawberries into a liquid and pour this over the brownie mixture. Pull a skewer back and forth through the mixture until the blended strawberries create a marbled effect against the pale blonde mix.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until strawberry blondes are firm, but still maintain a little gooeyness, the best brownies are always a little underdone. Leave to cool, then cut into 12 squares and enjoy.


Wednesday, 10 October 2012


This recipe was my first ever baking invention, so for old times’ sake I thought I’d include it. It came about when I had two left over ingredients; filo pastry and buttermilk and decided to put them together into mini tarts. Although this creation was a fluke, it was a fluke to be proud of. The texture of these is interesting, the top goes almost deceivingly spongy, but below, encased in the crispness of the filo pastry, is a dense, rich filling. Appearance wise, the tarts fit in with my no-fuss philosophy, I would never mess with something that’s simple, almost pastel look reminds me of the modest treats in my local bakery. The photo attached also was my first experiment with food photography, so it’s not the best composed photo, and yep the cup is empty, but I was young and was, and still am, learning.

1 Egg 
50g butter (plus extra for melting) 
100g sugar 
1 Tablespoon of flour 
100ml buttermilk 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
A squeeze of lemon juice 
Filo Pastry Sheets 

Makes 12 

Preheat oven 170⁰ 
Beat the egg until frothy then add the butter, sugar and flour. Mix until smooth, then stir in the buttermilk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. The filling is as simple as that. Set to one side. 

With the sheets, as when working with all filo pastry, you'll have to be quite quick. Melt a knob of butter ready to brush over the sheets to make them stick together. Cut around 3-4 10x10 cm squares for each tart and layer them unequally, with the butter to create a rough star-like shape. Transfer each into a 12-hole bun case and use a small rolled up ball of wet filo pastry to press down to create room for the filling. You can trim the sides if the edges begin to take over the tin.

Once all 12 are complete, fill each pastry case with the buttermilk mixture, being careful to not over-fill. Bake for around 10-15 minutes, laying a sheet of baking paper over the top of the tray after 5 minutes to stop the pastry from burning.
When the tarts are ready, they should be golden brown and the filling should almost look spongy on the surface, as mentioned. Leave to cool in tray for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar (I do this for the
flavour!) before serving.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


Recipes like this are really the nub of the sort of baking I particularly enjoy, and since I promised no fuss baking in the introduction, here you go. Fat rascals are sturdy, delicious, need no decoration and are ridiculously easy. When I bake these I tend to only make enough for 4 (one for each of the family), so you can enjoy them like you would if you bought a scone; a one off treat every so often. With one each you’re also not left with an overwhelming stack of cakes that end up going dry as you try to flog them to anyone who will have them. The recipe can be easily doubled, or tripled if you want more.
I make the fat rascals with a larger amount of fruit and cherries than other recipes I’ve encountered, but this keeps them from being dry as cakes like this are often too claggy. Anyway, a cake which is under fruited is always disappointing.
One last note- give me this over a cupcake any day.

100g self raising flour
50g butter
35g sugar (I always use unrefined granulated sugar)
40g mixed dry fruit
40g glace cherries
1 egg

Preheat the oven at fan 200°/220c/7
Grease a small baking sheet. Rub together flour and butter (recipes like this warrant use of hands) until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in sugar, fruit and cherries then add the egg. Stir in to form a sticky dough. Roll mixture into balls and flatten them down a little on tray.

Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown, sturdy, but not rock hard. Leave to cool on a wire rack and enjoy. It’s as easy as that.

To see me make these on video, click here.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


Don’t be fooled by the title, I’m not under any illusions that this is something my granddad ate during a shift down the pit. The mining reference comes into play due to the little pieces of honeycomb like gold nuggets amongst the earth of oats beneath the dark chocolate surface. The flavour is more sophisticated than a basic flapjack, due to the dark toffee flavour the honeycomb takes in the oven and the chocolate.
225g porridge oats
125g butter, room temperature
4 Tbsp golden syrup
75g dark chocolate, around 50g of this chopped into chunks and the rest reserved for melting

For the Honeycomb
75g caster sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat oven at fan 180°/200c/6
Line and well grease a baking sheet and begin by making the honeycomb. Mix the golden syrup and sugar in a small pan, bring to boil and cook for around 2½ minutes. Take off the heat and whisk in the bicarb, don’t be alarmed by the growing foam substance, this will make the air pockets in the honeycomb. Quickly pour this mixture onto the baking sheet and leave to stand until it hardens, this can take around 5 minutes.

In the meantime line and grease a 20x20cm brownie tin and begin the flapjack by mixing all of the ingredients until well combined. Break the hardened honeycomb into shards around roughly the same size as the chocolate and mix half of this into the flapjack. Transfer this mixture into the baking tray.

Bake for 20 minutes, putting a piece of baking paper over the top of the tray to stop the honeycomb from burning. Once baked allow to cool a little in the tray before melting the remainder of the chocolate and drizzling it messily over the flapjack. To finish, scatter over the remaining pieces of honeycomb, before lifting out of the tray and cutting into 8 squares.

Monday, 17 September 2012


Thought I’d kick off the blog with my favourite ever recipe, and one which sort of explains the blog title too. When I did food technology at school every week, without fail, we’d make bread and so I’d come home with loafs upon loafs, and sometimes crazy shapes to make them look different each week. That explains the ‘bread boy’. The second part is simpler and more underwhelming; I’m ginger. Anyway, bread really is one of the easiest, yet most rewarding things to make and if I could do it as a 14 year old boy, chances are so can you.

500g strong white bread flour
1 heaped tsp salt
1 sachet action dry yeast
A knob of butter, room temp
Around 300ml warm water

Put the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl, keeping the salt and yeast separate so that the yeast doesn’t die. Mix in the butter and slowly begin to add the water, until you get a rough sticky dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead for around 10 minutes, pushing the dough away from you whilst folding it in on itself. Once the dough is smooth, soft and slowly springs back when touched, form into a ball and place into a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film that has been rubbed with oil and leave to rise in a warm place for around an hour. Next to a radiator, in the sun or the airing cupboard are my favourite rising places.

Once the dough has doubled in size, take your fist and punch the dough to release the air. Knead once more for a couple of minutes then shape into an oval. Transfer to a baking sheet, cover with the same cling film then leave to rise once more for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size again.

Within this time preheat the oven at fan 200°/220°c/7, putting a small, empty baking tray in the bottom. Once the dough has risen, carefully rub with flour and slash with a sharp knife, diagonally across the top. Add cold water to the empty baking tray to create steam which allows the bread to rise before forming a crust.

Bake the bread for around 30 minutes, or until golden brown and the bottom sounds hallow when tapped.

Spruce it up

Not that a white loaf really needs any sprucing, but if you fancy a change, here are some ideas.

Rosemary Bread- take three large springs of fresh rosemary and finely chop the needles. Mix half in with the flour and use the other half sprinkled on the surface when kneading. That way the rosemary is well dispersed and you can see it when the bread is baked.

Salt and Pepper Bread- beat one egg and extremely generously add ground black and white pepper, about a teaspoon. Glaze this over the risen bread just before it goes in the oven and whilst sticky, cover once more with freshly ground pepper and salt. This bread has a crust with a kick.

I made basic white, rosemary and salt and pepper in mini versions, just by splitting the dough in three after kneading.


Baking has always had a part in my life, even when I was around 5 and I remember trips to our local bakery, Shelton’s, or the enduring tradition of exchanging baked goods, such as lemon cake and flapjack, over the fence to my auntie who lives at the back of my house. Our bakery Shelton’s is the epitome of the baking I enjoy; no fuss. Wonky pastries and crumbly cakes fill the tiny room, all bursting with butter cream or jam, and the high point of decoration is hundreds and thousands. Over the past few years baking has had a massive revival, saturating every market with endless television shows, stacks of recipe books in stores and the image of the cupcake adorning vast amounts of products predominantly aimed at the female market. Although this has been fantastic for a keen baker like myself, the problem I have is with the latter image. Baking has become synonymous with super-sweet cakes, piled high with garishly coloured frostings and bizarre decorations, such as edible glitter which adds absolutely nothing to the flavour. Traditional bakery style treats, such as rock buns and custard tarts, which I remember from Shelton’s, are no longer the staple products associated with baking, and the simple pleasure of these have lost out an American baking style.
This baking also seems to exclude men from the pastime, not just the process itself but also the eating. Cakes at the golf club where I work are always ordered in and I remember once opening what was labelled a ‘strawberry gateau’ to find a pile of fluorescent Barbie pink swirls with little sight of a strawberry, and then having to serve this to a room full of 40 men. The first man remarked ‘what the chuff is this’ which, in reality, actually was a clever, valid observation. Overwhelming a sponge with a coloured, sugary substance is not baking. Transforming separate ingredients into one thing is.

My own inventions follow an old style of baking where you produce what you say you will and leave it as it is. This blog will showcase these, such as my cup of tea pudding, which does exactly what it says in the title. I also want to revive traditional Yorkshire recipes, such as Fat Rascals and Parkin, in which the fantastic taste is the selling point, not the finish. This is not to say that all my recipes reject decoration and will appear in a sea of beige and brown, toppings simply will always be a key part of the flavour, and if these can be made to look attractive, they will. I have tried to ensure that all ingredients are accessible and affordable as growing up in an old miner’s town in West Yorkshire means access to fancy, expensive ingredients is limited. I hope you get from my recipes what I feel Shelton’s embodies; a simple, honest and almost forgotten style of baking.

Ps, not everything will sound this formal, I wrote it on a food writing course and it got a seal of approval from Lindsey Bareham and Lulu Grimes, had to include to just mention that!