Tuesday, 29 October 2013


Besides blazing summer and snow-deep winters, this time of year is the best. The dark nights are still a novelty and made pleasant with fireworks and the smell of bonfires and the flavours of this season are top notch. Here I take the classic bonfire night treat, the toffee apple, put it into a filo pastry case and deep fry it to make the ultimate autumnal treat. You get a crisp and sugary pastry giving way to buttery stewed apples and a small touch of a rich toffee sauce. All you need now is a fire to eat them round.

A knob of butter
2 large baking apples, peeled and diced into small chunks around the core
2 tbsp soft brown sugar

For the Toffee Sauce
80g soft brown sugar
Knob of butter
A couple splashes of milk

To assemble
Filo pastry sheets, about 12 (amount will vary on how well you wrap)
A small knob of butter melted in a pan for brushing the pastry
A couple of tablespoons of unrefined sugar for rolling

Makes 6

Melt the butter in a pan then throw in the apples. Add the sugar and fry for about 7-8 minutes until soft, but the apples still hold their shape.

Make the sauce by melting the sugar and butter together in a small saucepan. Once gooey loosen with enough milk to make a thick and glossy sauce. Leave to simmer on a low heat for about 1 minute, just to make sure it’s all smooth.

Heat a deep-fat fryer to about 180° while you make the parcels. Either that or add enough oil to shallow fry in a large pan. By the time you’re with the parcels, the oil will need to be hot enough to brown a small cube of bread in 20-30 seconds.

Take the filo pastry sheets and brush all over with the butter, continuously as you go along, so that every part is covered and sticky. Cut the sheets in half and use about 4 halves layered for each parcel. Take a tablespoon of the apples and place in the centre of the sheets then top with a small amount of the toffee sauce. Wrap the filo sheets around the filling to make a sausage-like shape then pinch the ends together to seal. If there are any rips or holes, tear some of the spare pastry off, brush with butter and patch over the gaps. Don’t worry about exact sizes or how untidy they are because they tend to get roughed up a bit whilst frying anyway. 

Once you have all 6 parcels carefully drop into the hot oil, 2 at a time and fry for about 2-3 minutes, flipping in between. When golden and crisp remove from the oil, pat with a little kitchen paper then roll in the unrefined sugar. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


First things first (and you’ll probably know if you’re reading this because of my badge to the left) I WON BEST YOUNG BLOGGER AT BLOG NORTH AWARDS. I was mega shocked, and had to say a few words which consisted of shaking and looking glacially over a crowd full of people, then grinning like an idiot. Cheers to everyone who voted and the judges who described this blog as “Quirky, creative and beautifully presented, with clear and characterful writing.” I Still can’t believe it.

Moving on the recipe, my mates have been asking me to make this for a while even though they hadn’t tried it, and nor had I. They just like this season. So I went into this blind, but ever wanting to make them unique (running before I walk) decided a heavily spiced pumpkin (technically butternut squash because I had one already) would work well with chocolate pastry. Much to my surprise, as with loads of my recipes, it did. The recipe has become one of my favourites, and I'm well proud of the picture of these moody looking pies (technically tarts) too!

About 400g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped
75g unrefined sugar
A good grating of nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 eggs, beaten
A splash of milk
½  tbsp golden syrup

For the pastry
250g flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp icing sugar
125g cold butter, cut into cubes
About 75ml water

Put the pumpkin/squash in a pan with some boiling water and allow to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the cooked through and tender. Drain and allow to cool.

Make the pastry by mixing together the flour, cocoa and icing sugar then either rub in the butter or blitz, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Slowly pour in the water until the pastry just about forms then shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to fan180/200c/6. Grease any tins you desire for whatever size you want the tarts to be. I made 8 medium ones and 12 small.
Once rested, take the pastry out of the fridge to warm up a little while you prepare the filling.

Force the pumpkin/squash through a sieve so it is like a smooth purée. Add the sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon then the eggs. Mix and then loosen with the milk and golden syrup. Set to one side.  

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut to the size of the holes in the tins, rerolling and repeating until all fill, then press down to create a shell and prick the bases with a fork. Spoon in the filling to the very top of each shell and bake for about 20 minutes until the filling is cooked, but still soft to touch, and the pastry is firm. Leave to cool on a wire rack then enjoy!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


This sounds a lot more exotic than it actually is. Lately I’ve found myself opting for tiffin as my lunch time confection. To make it different myself I thought chewy crystallised ginger would go well with the dark (but not too dark) chocolate. To counteract the heat I add small candied pieces of fruit, but not the usual glace cherries or raisins. Instead I opted for chunks of dried tropical fruit which you can buy in supermarkets, making a tiffin which is rich and chewy, with bursts of sunny sweetness and kick.

50g dark chocolate
150g milk chocolate
80g butter

1 tbsp golden syrup
110g candied fruit pieces (I used 55g pineapple and 55g papaya)
55g crystallised ginger, chopped into little chunks

For the topping
150g dark chocolate
50g milk chocolate
A small knob of butter
1 tbsp golden syrup

Line a 20x20cm brownie tin.
Begin by melting the dark and milk chocolate together with the butter in a bowl over a pan of boiling water (a bain-marie). Once melted add the golden syrup to make glossy then throw in the fruit pieces and ginger. Stir in until coated and the mixture becomes sticky then spoon into the tin. Spread the chocolate coated fruit and ginger across the tin making sure you press down and level out.

Use the same bowl and pan for the topping. Melt together all of the ingredients until rich and glossy then pour over the base. Tip the tin around so the melted chocolate covers the chunky base then put in the fridge to set. It should take about 2 hours. Once set, cut the tiffin into 12 pieces. I like to do them in little triangular wedges.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


My mam recently brought home a bag packed full of tiny quinces from someone she knows. I was thinking that there is a lack of recipes which make quinces their focus so I thought I’d put them in a crumble. A handful of quince flesh was all I had to show for half an hour’s worth of peeling, chopping and a sliced finger nail. So I bulked it up with other crumble favourites and let the quinces serve as an occasional fragrant pop. But I didn’t let the quinces get entirely lost. I bypassed the peeling and chopping by chucking the rest of them in a pan, boiling up until stewed and then making a syrup out of them. The syrup is mega powerful; it whacks you at the back of the throat with its tartness, so I recommend serving the sweet and warming crumble with ice-cream and then pouring over to liven things up.

The juice of 1 lemon
350g quinces     
5 apples     
2 pears
85g sugar
Crumble Topping
160g flour
100g unrefined sugar (it adds more crunch)
75g cold butter

Quince Syrup
450g quinces
150g sugar
Splash of vanilla
Pinch cinnamon
40g butter

Preheat oven to fan180/200/6
Squeeze lemon juice into the pan you’re going to stew the fruit in to stop browning. Peel and chop the quinces around the core, and then do the same for the apples and pears. Bring to boil with the sugar and about 100ml water and stew until the fruit just beings to strew. Take off the heat and set to one side while you make the topping.

Rub all of the topping ingredients together in a bowl until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Pour the fruit into an oven proof dish then sprinkle over the crumble topping, and even out slightly. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and crisp on the top.

In the meantime make the syrup. Put all the quinces, as they are in a large pan and pour over 400ml water. Bring to boil and strew for about 15 minutes until they break down and turn syrup-like. Take off the heat and strain through a sieve into another pan, pushing all of the juice/flavour out of the quinces. Add the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon to the quince liquid and bring to boil. Keep simmering until it starts to thicken then add the butter to make glossy. Once thick take off the heat. Leave to cool slightly and serve with crumble. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


Lately I’ve been starting the posts with food writing news and I do have some more, but I want the blog to stay true to what I first intended, and so I have the best recipe to fit my humble baking theme. This is a recipe my mam asked me to make, and I’d never actually had it before. Making curds seemed daunting at first, but it was actually ridiculously easy, and put in a tart, absolutely delicious. It’s hard to describe the flavour; it’s homely and tastes like proper old fashioned baking, even though those two things aren’t flavours at all. Most curd tart recipes contain raisins, but I thought something with a little more flavour which would provide a sharp pop against the rich curd filling would suit better, so I add blueberries. This is a Yorkshire classic for a reason.

In terms of the exciting news, my local Tesco/Costa café have asked me to do a demonstration night where I can sell mini books of my recipes. Crazy.
1 litre full fat milk
The juice of one lemon
100g butter, room temperature
100g unrefined sugar
75g blueberries

For the Pastry
200g flour
100g butter
2 tbsp icing sugar
About 200ml cold water, give or take a little
Make the curds by gently heating the milk, and once it reaches a steady boil add the lemon juice. Turn down the heat and watch the curds form, you can gently stir to help steady it along. Once you have lumps floating in liquid take off the heat and leave to cool. Drain the liquid (which is the whey) through a tea towel over a container so that you catch the curds in the tea towel and can keep the whey. Allow to strain in the fridge over night.
Make the pastry by blitzing the flour, butter and icing sugar, 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.

Preheat the oven to fan160/180c/4. Grease a fluted tart tin.
Take the curds out of the fridge ready to make the filling. Keep the whey for making anything which requires buttermilk as it has the same sort of flavour. Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then mix in the eggs. Add the curds to this mixture and beat well to break up any larger lumps. The mixture won’t look attractive but will taste delicious when baked. Add the blueberries and mix to disperse. Set to one side.
Take the pastry out of the fridge and leave to warm up for 5 minutes then roll out on a floured surface. Transfer the rolled pastry onto the tart tin. Pull a little bit of the pastry from the bits that hang over and use it to press the pastry fully into the tart tin. Take a sharp knife and trim off the edges then collect these off cuts together and freeze, or make something else like jam tarts now.
Pour the curd mixture into the pastry case and level out. Bake for 40 minutes towards the bottom of the oven until golden brown and firm, and the pastry is cooked. Leave to cool a little and either eat now, or cool completely and pop in the fridge. I find it tastes better after a night in the fridge as the flavours develop.