I love this time of year. That aromatic, gorgeous smell of fruit cake baking at home, puts you in that Christmas spirit. My husband is not a fan of fruit cake, but the smell of it baking in the oven, he just loves. Those fruity, cinnamon, nutmeg aromas that it releases. And I’m sure you will agree with me, on how delicious and juicy, the Spanish lemons and oranges are!! What better way to make a fruit cake, with such fresh ingredients. I’m just in awe of the stunning trees with the biggest and brightest colours I’ve seen. My favourite place to eat is in Estepona square, or Marbella, Plaza de los Naranjos (oranges). You can sit in the square surrounded by orange trees. What better way to have lunch or coffee with fresh aromas. Mmmmmm…..
Ok let’s get back to fruit cake! As we have just mentioned the fruit here is too good to waste. So grate off the lemon and orange zest. And squeeze those juices and let’s use it to soak your fruit for your cake in.
There are a few watch outs when baking a fruit cake. Especially when we don’t always bake one throughout the year. In the past, where I have got it wrong, I ended up either with a dry fruit cake or a cake with fruit all on the bottom, or the outside being baked more than the inside. Causing a raw middle or the sides to be over baked that the raisins got burnt!
To help prevent these problems, you need to take time not to forget a few vital preparation steps. Such as:
1. To prevent the mixed fruit drying out. Heat to the boil and simmer the mixed fruit with brandy or tea (for a non-alcoholic cake), for about 10 minutes. I add the lemon and orange juices and the zest to this too. Leave over night ideally or till cooled before you mix in with the cake mixture.
2. To help the cake bake at the right temperature throughout. Tie a damp cloth around your baking tin. This helps prevent the outside getting over baked.
3. Put a heating core in the middle of your tin, before adding the mixture. This helps heat your cake mixture evenly, throughout the tin. Preventing the middle of the cake being under baked compared to the outside.
4. Take the time to cut out baking parchment to put on the bottom and sides of your tin. As you will need to cool the cake in the tin later. So makes it a lot easier to take out after.
5. To prevent the fruit sinking to the bottom of the cake. Dust the fruit with flour just before you mix it in with the mixture.
6. That beautiful spice to your cake. If you can’t find mixed spices (I had this problem at the store). So I mixed up some ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon). And added bay leaves to the boiling fruit mixture.
7. Once your cake is cooled. Make a few holes on top with a toothpick. Wrap it in baking parchment and then foil. Feeding the cake with 2 tsp of brandy or strong tea once a week. Keep in an airtight container. Do not feed it for 24 hours before you want to cover with royal icing. This will prevent the icing from getting moist.
I am sure there are many other top tips on baking a fruit cake. Please share with me yours.
Here is the fruit cake recipe I use with apples as well!
200g plain flour
200g brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
2tsp vanilla extract
1tsp almond extract
1 juice of a lemon juice and grated zest
1 juice of an orange and grated zest
300g mixed fruit (sultanas, raisins)
2 apples grated
100ml tea or brandy
1. In a pot add fruit, orange and lemon juice and zest (strain the juices through a sieve, to avoid pips going into the pot). Add the tea or brandy and a couple of bay leaves. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool overnight.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius fan. Prepare your 20cm baking tin with grease proof paper, heating core and wrap the tin in a damp dishcloth or newspaper.
3. Mix the butter and sugar. Once mixed add the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between.
4. Dust the fruit with flour. This is such an important step!!
5. Add the rest of the flour, spices, vanilla and almond extract. Mix well.
6. Spoon in the fruit mixture carefully.
7. Pour into the baking tin. Put in the oven for 50 minutes to an hour. Until the centre of the cake is baked.
8. Leave in the baking tin till cooled. Once cool take out of the tin. Wrap in baking paper and then foil. Prick a few holes on top and feed the cake with 2 tsp of brandy or tea once a week.
Ready to enjoy for Christmas 😍
At first sight, this chocolatey cake looks so naughty. Simmer down 😃 you can enjoy, without worrying so much. Oh no…. too much sugar….. too much butter…… With the increase in children parties. It has become more important to find recipes that have less butter, sugar and substitutes for nuts. And yet to find a cake that is still tasty and moist. My sister-in-law said she had tried baking healthy cakes for my nieces. But each time they tried it they were not convinced, it was tasty enough to substitute for a “cake” 😜. Then my mum mentioned, she had gone to a party, and couldn’t believe how good a courgette and walnut cake tasted. So here goes, I put it to the test, slightly dubious to start with. But OMG I will never doubt the courgette again!
This recipe is mummies dreams come true. Instead of butter it has olive oil. Instead of nuts for extra flavour, you can use orange zest. It reminds me of Terry’s orange chocolate. And the ingredient that brings it all together, is a courgette. After trying this recipe, you may feel like I do. Why are courgettes underused in cakes???? It gives the cake a beautiful moistness and what’s more your friends will never know you used it, if disguised in chocolate 😋
400g Courgette (1 medium)
175ml Olive oil
2 tsp Vanilla essence
50g Cocoa powder
300g Caster sugar
350g self raising flour
1tsp Orange zest
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius fan and grease a baking tray.
2. Take off the skin of the courgette and grate.
3. Mix olive oil, sugar, egg, vanilla essence, courgette and orange zest together
4. Mix the flour and cocoa powder together.
5. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix well.
6. Put into the baking tray and bake for 40-50 minutes or until baked.
Meringues used to always be one of my fears to make. Just because, I’m terrible with being extra careful in splitting the egg whites from the yolk. But my husband loves a good Eton mess. So I had no choice but to give it a go. Between my friend, from University and I, we tested out all the tricks on the internet. And shared the learns on What’sApp. And guess what?? It turned out, it’s not actually hard! You just need to use the little tricks. See the troubleshooting guide below. It should give you a crunchy meringue, soft and chewy in the centre. With beautiful shapes that hold. At the end, you will spend most of your time deciding how you want to eat them. My friend loves hers with cream and a berry sauce. I love a mini bite of Eton mess or a great way to top a cupcake!!
3 egg whites
115g caster sugar
1 tsp Vanilla essence (orange zest/ drop of colouring)
1 tsp Cornflour
Troubleshooting guide to good meringues
1. Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Celsius.
2. Use half a lemon to wipe clean your mixing bowl. The acid breaks down any fat deposits on the bowl. This step is so important to help the meringue whisk to form peaks.
3. Using fresh eggs, will help the meringues to keep shape. Crack each egg putting the egg white into a separate bowl. This is to ensure no yolk is mixed in. When you are happy with it, pour into your clean mixing bowl.
4. Whisk the egg whites on a slow speed till they form peaks.
5. Take your time with this step. With half the sugar, add a spoon at a time to the egg white. Increasing the speed. Adding too much sugar, too quick will loose your beautiful peaks. Whisk in the rest of the sugar. Then add a little more lemon juice to help stabilise the mixture.
6. Add the cornflour. This helps give that chewy centre. 😋
7. Add a little vanilla essence and of orange zest or a little colouring.
8. On a baking tray put a dab of meringue mix in the corners. Putting baking parchment on top. This prevents the parchment moving when you pipe shapes.
9. Put the mixture into a piping bag with your favourite nozzle. Pipe away all your friends favourite shapes and sizes.
10. Put in the oven for an hour at 120 degrees Celsius and then lower to 90 degrees Celsius for another 30 minutes.
11. Essential step.
Pour a cup of tea and relax.
12. They will be ready when they lift off the baking parchment and you can tap the bottom.
Merigues now less stressful to make!
Please tell me it’s not just me! My little one is just too fast for me. I just took my eye off him for a few seconds and the next thing I know, he’s managed to grab the salty Ritz box…. crackers all over the the floor and he’s happily munching away 😫. I felt so bad seeing, those little eyes so sad, when I took them out of his hands. He started trying to grab the crumbs off the floor. When I grabbed his hands he tried to push his face against the floor, to try and lick any crumbs. So I was on a mission, to find him a healthy biscuit. Having just come to Spain. I have struggled to find in the shops, handheld food like rice cakes or biscuits for him. In London and Norway, it was so easy to find great baby snacks. Everyone said go to Morrisons in Gibraltar, but I haven’t had the chance to go. I tried Iceland in Marbella. They had so many amazing British food, including a massive aisle for tea 😃. But the baby section, was literally a sad little one module.
So I decided to look into biscuits to bake for him. I managed to find loads made of just plain flour, butter and cheese. But I still wanted to find something more healthy. And then finally, after two days of googling. I found this amazing recipe. It’s so simple, quick and full off oats, apples and bananas. I have even made it with pear instead of apples. Not only that, you can go organic.
My little one can get the sweetness from the apple and bananas, flavours from the vanilla and cinnamon and crunch from the oats! Giving him an energy boost.
Such a win win… happy baby… happy mummy 😍
1 and 1/2 cups thin rolled oats
2 ripe bananas
1/4 cup of puréed apples
A sprinkle of cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1. Turn the oven onto 175 degrees Celsius. And line a tray with baking parchment.
2. In a food processor grind the oats to form a powder. Mix in the cinnamon. And then mix in the mashed banana, pureed apple and vanilla extract.
3. Make handheld biscuits, I make them into oblong shaped ones. You know how your little one prefers to hold onto food. Use the shape easiest for them to eat.
4. Pop them onto the tray and bake for 10 minutes. Turn them over and then bake for another 5-10 minutes till golden brown.
Ever had that problem on a Monday morning!!!! “I need to get back into healthy mode after the weekend!!!” Last night I decided to bake homemade granola. My husband asked me….. “Why?? When we can buy it?” I don’t know about you, but I am constantly having that problem of finding a granola, that’s healthy and not too sweet and not too much oil. I have tried so many brands and still not found the right one for me.
So I finally tried to bake my own….. and OMG it’s amazing!! I just grabbed all the things I love, from my kitchen cabinets. To me granola is like making your own cocktail 😋 minus the alcohol. In this recipe I don’t use any sugar. has less sugar. Instead I use honey or maple syrup, and raisins or cranberries to naturally sweeten it. Depending on how crumbly or chunky you want your granola; will determine the quantity of olive oil. I don’t use too much just enough to give my granola a golden colour and help bind it a little.
Kid friendly! You can add whatever your little one can eat. Mine is less than 1 Years so no honey, salt or nuts for him! So I just add raisins and a touch of maple syrup to his. I love it, we can enjoy the same breakfast together 😍
This recipe is your chance to throw in your favourite organic ingredients….. mix it!…… Bake it!…. sprinkle it on Greek yoghurt! And throw in a few fresh berries! Monday morning gone from “oh noooo” to “yes to Monday’s”.
2 cups rolled organic oats
1 cup Desiccated coconut
1/4 cup Pecans & or Pistachios
2-3 tbsp Honey or maple syrup
2-3 tbsp Olive oil
1/4 cup Raisins or cranberries
1/4 cup pumpkin & or sunflower seeds
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp of vanilla essence
1. Oven on to 160 degrees celsius.
2. Combine all your ingredients and mix very well. squeeze the oats together so you get clumps.
3. Layout on a baking tray.
4. Bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown.
My husband’s Bestemor (Grandma) from Norway. Has never bought bread from a store. She only knew what’s best for her…..to make homemade bread. This recipe had never been written down. It had just always been in her head. The bread is just delicious. Nothing like what you buy in a store. It’s like that warm nostalgic bread, you get at the start of dinner, in an amazing restaurant.
A few years ago, I asked her to show me how she makes it. With the help of my mother-in-law, we wrote it down in Norwegian.
Unfortunately she was in hospital, for a period of time. So Besterfa (her husband) was at home on his own. His version of cooking is putting a frozen pizza on a frying pan 😫. So my mother-in-law and I, attempted to bake the bread for him. The feedback we got, was it didn’t taste the same, as it didn’t have enough salt 😅.
The other day my sister-in-law and I were trying to work out, what bread we could give our 8 month old babies. I remembered I had this recipe in the cupboard. We found it, luckily still readable. And tested the recipe out. With half the mixture, we didn’t add any salt and used unsalted butter (for the boys). I recommend if you do this, make a different decoration on top, so you know which one is which. My sister-in-law came up with, an extra sprinkle of sesame seeds on ours!! What a great idea 💡
So while my parents entertained the boys. We made the bread. We couldn’t believe how quick it was to mix up. Its perfect, because we didn’t have to wait for it to prove. You just put it straight into a cold oven and turn the heat up 😃. One hour later, that glorious smell of baking. Had the boys drooling over the bread. All of us stood round the bread in the kitchen, testing it out 😋.
This bread also tastes great once stored in the freezer. Just pack it in a clear food bag, and put that in a carrier bag. Take it out the night before you need it, to let it defrost…… delicious for breakfast or lunch.
1kg of plain flour
2 cups (256g) of wholemeal bread flour
1 cup (128g) of oats
4 teaspoons of sesame seeds (remove from kids bread if allergic)
2 teaspoons of salt
100g yeast live (Norwegian) or if dry yeast use quantity required for 1.4kg of flour on the packet
1. Mix together all the dry ingredients.
2. Heat 400ml milk with 500ml water to about 37 degrees.
3. In 300ml warm milk add the yeast and mix well.
4. Mix the milk and yeast into the dry ingredients. Then pour in the rest of the wet ingredients.
5. Mix till you get a dough that’s not too dry and not too sticky. If too sticky add a little more plain flour. If too dry add a little more warm water.
6. Divide the mixture into 3, and make them into bread like loaves. Place onto baking parchment on a tray. Sprinkle more sesame seeds on top. And make a few dents on the top.
7. Use salted butter to put blobs on tops and on the sides. To give them a nice golden look.
8. Place the tray in a cold oven. Turn the oven up to 180 degrees for 30 minutes. After this time turn the oven up to 200 degrees for 25 minutes.
9. Take out of the oven once you can tap it. It should give a hollow sound.
Be creative, by adding extra seeds or dried cranberries!! Enjoy!! 🤗 for breakfast, lunch or dinner!!