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Persian Love Cake and a Marriage Proposal

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Heavily spiced and beautifully balanced – Iranian cuisine is definitely a new interest of mine. I was lucky enough to attend a Persian dinner party on Saturday with some good friends. I was also fortunate enough to receive a marriage proposal! Of course I accepted – so this has definitely been a Valentine’s weekend to remember. In fact, it has been the best weekend I’ve had for a long time – the food was exceptional, the proposal unexpected and the hangover, well rather inevitable.

I’m not one to attend a dinner party empty handed. Of course taking wine is perfectly expectable, but whipping up a delicious, decadent dessert is even better. Given that the theme for the evening was Persian food, I set about researching some recipes and I found myself confused as to why I hadn’t discovered Iranian food sooner. It all looks so wonderfully unfamiliar and exotic – that excites me a little. There is certainly nothing boring about cardamom, saffron and rose water all rolled into the one recipe. I stumbled upon a recipe for a Persian Love Cake on the brilliant Twigg Studios blog written by Aimee Twigger. What better recipe for a Persian dinner party on Valentine’s weekend?

There is something quite wonderful about a cake decorated with crimson rose petals and bright green pistachios – it’s a real show-stopper. I couldn’t quite believe how well it complemented the Raan (roast leg of lamb in yogurt that Bryan cooked) with spiced side dishes of spinach, cauliflower, rice and potatoes.

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Our friend Bryan’s surname is Haines and we call him the Haines Manual, because he is a endless fountain of knowledge. I asked him for the Raan recipe and he bought out this book, the cover fell apart from the pages as I opened it – obviously a rather old and well used book. Bryan tells me it has many a delicious Iranian recipe – The Yoghurt Book by Arto Der Haroutunian (Syrian born). The book was first published in 1983, but I’m hoping I can find a copy online. I will have a go at the dish myself at some point and share the recipe with you, once I have photographs to go with it.

The Persian Love Cake was made with many of the same ingredients, cardamom, saffron, almonds and complemented the meal beautifully. You can view the recipe here.

I still can’t quite believe that I’m engaged – let the wedding planning commence.

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Miss Friday is back with a delicious peace offering of Blueberry Muffins

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Roll up and accept my peace offering of delicious blueberry muffins! Evidently, it’s been too long – being pregnant has turned me into a strange being. I’ve struggled with eating to be honest, and this heat hasn’t helped things much. I spent the first three months being very sick  and now I’m finding it hard to regain my old appetite. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always had more than a healthy appetite, so I guess cutting back a bit won’t hurt. I’ve certainly lost a few pounds (without the baby weight that is of course).

That said, I can’t complain really, everything seems to be going rather well at the minute and I’m slowly starting to feel like the old Miss Friday again! I only have ten weeks left until I can meet my baby and I’m rather excited about that. Between work and baby preparations, I’ve been getting back into the swing of things in the kitchen, much to Richard’s relief. I think he was becoming worried I’d lost my touch and he’d be cooking his own meals forever more. He has lost over half a stone in weight – claims it’s because I’ve not been cooking for him as much. No one likes a skinny man, so it’s about time I got back to my usual schedule and made him happy again.

I’m hoping that my absence hasn’t done too much to damage to my blogging stats. The trouble is, trying to keep up with a regular blogging schedule and working, and being pregnant is easier said than done. Although, I’ll be on maternity leave from mid August, so I hope to be able to re-establish a regular pattern of posts for you lovely people.

Seeing as I’ve been away for too long, I thought it was only fair to come with my tail between my legs and offer this Blueberry Muffin recipe as a peace offering – when you taste them I’m certain you’ll forgive me. They went down a treat with the family. Having posted a snap to my Facebook page I was then bombarded with requests “Can you make me some?” or “Oh, these look nice, can we sample them?”. It’s fair to say this recipe was a hit.

As unlikely as it is, if you’re not a blueberry muffin fan, the basic mixture can be used for many other muffin recipes, omit the blueberries and chuck in whatever takes your fancy. Why not try pecan and chocolate chip, or raspberry and white chocolate? You really could try any combination based on your preferred taste.

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Blueberry Muffins
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Baking
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Delicious blueberry muffins, perfect for breakfast or with afternoon tea. The blueberries will burst and ooze out delicious juices making these muffins look utterly irresistible!
Ingredients
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 145g caster sugar
  • 170ml semi skimmed milk
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120g fresh blueberries
Instructions
  1. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases and preheat your oven to 180⁰C (160⁰C if using a fan oven).
  2. Add all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl (except the blueberries). Mix until well combined. Gently stir in the blueberries.
  3. Divide mixture into the 12 muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes until risen and slightly golden. The blueberries will have burst and oozed out their delicious juices making these muffins look utterly irresistible!

 

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Raspberry & Coconut Celebration Cake

It’s the truth universally acknowledged that it isn’t a birthday without a cake, and I’ve been hard at work creating the perfect celebration cake. The combination of coconut and raspberries is something I adore and here it works beautifully. I’ve made coconut and raspberry cupcakes a few times, which are delicious, but a birthday calls for one big cake, rather than lots of individual ones. I hope you’ll agree that the cake looks really impressive. I guess this doesn’t have to be just a birthday cake recipe, you could make this cake over the Christmas time too.

I’ve used two layers of cake, but you could always cut the two cakes into four if you wanted more layers. My boyfriend was disappointed that I made this cake for my auntie. He moaned that I always make other people the ‘really nice ones’ – so I guess I’ll have to make another one soon. Coconut is his favourite!

You might have noticed that the ingredient quantities are quite large, that’s because I wanted a very large cake, a smaller one just wouldn’t have looked as good – and probably wouldn’t have been enough to go around.

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Raspberry & Coconut Celebration Cake
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Coconut & Raspberry Celebration Cake
Cuisine: Desserts
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
The perfect Birthday cake (for adults)!
Ingredients
  • For the cake:
  • 220g butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 110g desiccated coconut
  • 440g self raising flour
  • Splash of milk
  • For the icing:
  • 125g softened butter
  • 300g cream cheese (I used light/low-fat)
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g flaked coconut (or desiccated if you can’t find flaked)
  • 300g of raspberries
  • 100g of blueberries (optional)
  • About 4 heaped tbsp raspberry conserve (or jam)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C and line two 20cm round cake tins (using greaseproof paper) and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, vanilla extract and milk. Fold in the coconut and flour.
  3. Pour the cake mixture evenly between the two tins and pop into the oven for 30 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
  4. Once the cakes are cooked, turn them out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
  5. Meanwhile, make the icing by creaming the butter, vanilla extract, cream cheese and icing sugar together in a bowl.
  6. Once the cakes have cooled completely, spread one with the raspberry jam and the other with a little of the cream cheese icing, sandwich the two cakes together. Then using the rest of the icing, ice the cake using a pallet knife, remember to do the sides too.
  7. Using your hands start to press the flaked coconut all over the cake, ensuring that the whole thing is covered. Then dip each raspberry into the icing and place on top of the cake until the top is completely covered, scatter over the blueberries if using.

 

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Gingerbread Muffins

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I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to post this recipe just yet, I mean it is only the beginning of November, but seeing as Food Network are already showing festive specials and my Facebook news feed is filling up with all things Christmas I decided that it isn’t too early after all. So this is a recipe for those of you who (like me) don’t mind Christmas being shoved at you from early November. We are big on Christmas in my house, in fact we love it, from wrapping gifts, choosing a massive Christmas tree and decorating it to baking some delicious goodies, we know how to celebrate the festive season.

In some respects Christmas has come early to our house anyway, I’ve baked about two hundred mince pies over the last week to give away as samples at a Christmas open day and have already taken lots of orders for them. I’m certainly going to have a busy December.

Apart from the obvious mince pies, there are some things you just associate with Christmas and gingerbread is definitely one of them. The aromatic blend of mixed spice; cinnamon and ground ginger give the kind of warmth only Christmas could, which makes them perfect for Christmas morning. They will make the whole house smell magical and the dry ingredients can be weighed out the night before – so you only need spend minutes whisking in the wet ingredients on Christmas morning. Let’s face it, we all have plenty to do Christmas morning without running around making muffins.

They make wonderful gifts for friends; package them up into pretty wicker baskets with beautiful red ribbons. But, whether you decide to eat them yourself or give them away to a lucky friend, they absolutely must be served with a pot of freshly brewed tea to really appreciate them.

This recipe makes 12 scrumptious muffins, but I’ve found that making two batches is sensible as they seem to disappear rather quickly. The children really seemed to enjoy them, which I imagine is because they taste like a gingerbread man, only in muffin form.

Gingerbread Muffins
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Cakes
Cuisine: Festive
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 250g softened butter
  • 220g dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200ml milk
  • 250g self raising flour, sifted
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy, and then add the vanilla extract.
  3. Add the spices, salt, milk and eggs, whisk for a couple of minutes until combined.
  4. Slowly add the flour whisking until combined into the mixture. It will be quite thick (this is normal). Evenly spoon the mixture into the muffin cases.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, leave to cool and dust with icing sugar.

 

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Autumn: the perfect season – and Jamie’s PBJ Brownies

Call me barmy, but autumn is definitely my favourite season; the sound of the rain lashing down on the window pane whist the day creeps into night, the crisp golden leaves blowing in the wind. There is something quite wonderful about this moody weather when you are tucked up in bed with the feather duvet wrapped around you, heating on and a lovely cuppa in hand. Utter bliss.
The colours of autumn really are magical, rusty orange leaves, plump pumpkins and nutty brown pine cones, in contrast to the cold weather it makes me feel all warm inside. Should the beautiful colours not be enough to make you feel warmed through, pulling on your thick woolly tights, hats and gloves will surely do the trick.
As the autumn gets into full swing I’ve many projects up my sleeve, some crafts for the kids, calving pumpkins and baking cookies for bonfire night, we will explore Bluebell Woods, which is a beautiful woodland close to our home (albeit the bluebells will be long gone), but in their place we will discover acorns, berries and squirrels jollying about. I had an idea for autumn leaf collages; they can stick the leaves together and pop them into frames for their bedroom wall, what could be better than displaying the beautiful crimson and golden leaves to mark the turning of the seasons?
But, undoubtedly, the thing I love most about this time of year is the food. Country casseroles and puffed up pies with thick bubbling gravy; what’s not to love? Richard bought me a copy of Jamie’s Comfort Food for my Birthday – perfect for this weather. Not so perfect for my Slimming World… but a few recipes here and there surely couldn’t hurt. I made Jamie’s PBJ brownies – and they are delicious… recipe below.
The other, perhaps more obvious reason, I love the autumn is that we inevitably start to see the supermarket shelves fill with mince pies and advent calendars. I smile to myself every time I hear someone groan that it’s only October and why do the supermarkets feel the need to bring Christmas to us so early. I can’t help it, I love it. It’s the anticipation of it all. I love to shop for presents, I love to wrap them and I love to set about making something delicious and festive in the kitchen.
 
This year I’d like to do lots of baking – sausage rolls, mince pies and many other delicious treats to offer friends and family over the festive season, not to mention the mulled wine! Anyhow – enough about Christmas for the time being, here is the link to the PBJ Brownie recipe. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.
 
 
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Waitrose Mini Lavender & Lemon Drizzle Cakes




Calling all cake lovers – this is a must try recipe from Waitrose. I was working for my cousin on Sunday in his butchers and delicatessen when a customer came in to buy mini loaf cases. They are such a cute product, I asked her what she planned on making – lavender and lemon drizzle cakes she said. Don’t they sound delicious! So I decided to copy her -and just look at these little beauties – they taste delicious too!

Recipe makes: 10  
 

Click here for the recipe

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Lemon Cupcakes

I had a rather eventful Saturday, baking batches of cupcakes for a charity fundraising night at my local pub. Having agreed to bake around 70 cupcakes, I was delighted that my friend Sam had offered to help me, she wanted to brush up on her baking skills and I was only too happy to share the load. We decided upon three kinds of cupcakes, lemon, chocolate and coconut and raspberry. The recipes for the coconut and raspberry and chocolate ones have featured on my blog before and can be found by clicking on the links below, so I thought I’d share the lemon cupcake recipe, which comes courtesy of Mary Berry.
The charity night was in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and we raised a wonderful £647 from the door entry, raffle and cupcakes which I think is just wonderful for a small local pub. This is the first time I’ve put my cooking skills to use supporting a charity event, and it felt great to help raise money and the feedback was really positive. I’ll certainly volunteer in future to bake for any other events.

Click here for Mary’s Lemon Cupcakes Recipe!

Raspberry & Coconut Cupcakes

 

 

Chocolate Cupcakes

 
 
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Chocolate Button Cakes



Kids love cake, fact! So, it was no surprise when I asked Max (Richard’s boy) if he wanted to make a cake, he jumped at the chance. So, I proceeded to gather all of my recipe books that contained cake and asked him to have a flick through and pick one that caught his eye. Mary Berry’s Heavenly Chocolate Cake is what he chose, splendid choice indeed I thought, especially as I already had most of the ingredients.


Having decided upon making the most calorific cake in the entire world, I realised that although I had nearly all of the ingredients, I had no cake tins – which makes cake making all the more difficult. I’m not much of a baker you see, more of a savoury cook. I did however have a muffin tin and some cake cases, these would have to suffice. Max on the other hand felt quite differently about the absence of a cake tin and decided to have a strop over it. That was until I explained that we’d still be making the same cake, but we’d be making individual ones instead of one big one. Kids ay! So with the ingredients ready, the cooking equipment in order and the mood restored we set about making these delicious little cakes.

I’ve never made a Mary Berry cake before, of course I’ve watched her on the Great British Bake Off and various other foodie programmes, but never attempted any of her recipes. They always look delicious, but aside from the fact that I’m not much of a baker, a sweet tooth is something I’m slowly beginning to lose as I get older. Harrah, there is hope for my ever expanding waistline after all.

These cakes, as well as being devilishly chocolaty and delicious, are somewhat light, which I can only imagine comes from whisking the egg whites and folding them in – the part of the recipe I insisted on helping with, for fear of losing all the air and ending up with a rather dense cake, or dense cakes even. If you’re a chocolate fan you’ll simply rejoice at the thought of a chocolate cake with chocolate fudge icing and Cadbury’s chocolate buttons on the top (an addition Max and I felt was essential).

I’ve included Mary’s recipe below, but we obviously changed a couple of aspects, either way I guarantee you’ll end up with a delicious chocolate cake. 

Cuts into 8 slices (615 cals each)

Ingredients

* 125g butter, plus extra for greasing
* 200g plain dark chocolate, broken into pieces
* 2 tbsp water
* 3 eggs, separated
* 125g caster sugar
* 90g self-raising flour
* 60g ground almonds
* 60g butter
* 30g cocoa powder
* 3 tbsp milk
* 250g icing sugar, sifted
* White chocolate curls to decorate

Method

1. Lightly butter a deep 20cm cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.

2. Put the chocolate into a heatproof bowl with the butter and water. Put the bowl over a pan of hot water and heat gently, stirring, until the mixture has melted. Cool.

3. Combine the egg yolks and caster sugar in a large bowl and whisk together with an electric whisk until fluffy and very light in colour. Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture. Carefully fold in the flour and ground almonds.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into the sponge mixture, gently but thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (160°C fan, Gas 4) for 50 minutes or until well risen and firm to the touch.

5. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes, turn out on to a wire rack, and peel off the lining paper. Cool completely.

6. Make the fudge icing: melt the butter in a pan, add the cocoa powder, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the milk and icing sugar. Beat well until smooth. Leave to cool until thickened.

7. Split the cake in half horizontally and sandwich the layers together with half of the fudge icing. With a palette knife, spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with white chocolate curls.

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Raspberry & Coconut Cupcakes

Much like last week, I find myself writing a Friday post on a Thursday. But, essentially it’s Friday due to the Bank Holiday, which brings me to bid you all a very happy Easter. I’ll hopefully have an interesting post for you next week as I’m off camping this weekend. I know, I’m totally mad in this weather, but I was watching the snow from my window the other day and suddenly had a craving for a nice sausage casserole so I’ll be making sure I’m prepped for that on my little trip, that’s sure to keep my body warm and spirit high.
Anyhow, enough about this dreadful weather. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m really not much of a baker, but when I read about these little beauties I couldn’t resist trying my hand at them. I think you’ll agree, they are rather cute and make for an impressive looking cupcake. I know, I know, cupcakes I hear you moan. They are so last year, or the year before for that matter, but who cares? And anyway, I’ve never been one for ‘on trend’; I make what I want, when I want.
Raspberries and coconut are two of my favourite things, so when I heard about them being used together, in a cupcake, let’s just say it was one of those vivacious moments. This recipe is a mixture of a few I’ve found floating around the internet, I first read about them over at a blog I love to read Emily’s Recipes & Reviews, definitely worth a view by the way. Despite her fine looking recipe, I wasn’t feeling adventurous enough to embark on making the icing with egg whites, call me a lazy cook if you will, but I decided to look for an alternative, the alternative being butter icing.
With this recipe, I loved the idea that you place raspberries in with the cake mixture meaning that when you bite into the cupcake you get the sweetness from the icing and delicious sponge that completely off sets the sharpness of the raspberries. Make sure you save the prettiest raspberries for the decoration.
Happy Easter everyone.
Makes 12 cupcakes
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
40g unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
120ml coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
200g of raspberries (you’ll need 48 in total)
For the icing and decoration:
80g unsalted butter, softened
25ml coconut milk
250g icing sugar
25g desiccated coconut
12 raspberries
         
Preheat the oven to 170°C and place the paper cases into a muffin tray.
Add the flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, salt in a bowl and use an electric mixer to mix until light and fluffy, or mix it by hand if you’ve enough will power in you. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut milk and vanilla extract; beat into the flour mixture until well combined.  Add the egg and ensure it’s mixed well.
Add three raspberries to each of the paper cases then spoon the cupcake mix over the top until almost full and bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until light, spongy and golden brown in colour. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tin and then transfer to a wire rack to cool fully.
To make the icing: Beat the icing sugar and butter together using an electric mixer until well mixed. Turn the mixer down to a slow speed and gradually add the coconut milk. Once the milk has been fully added, turn up to high speed and continue beating for a further 5-10 minutes until the icing is very soft and fluffy.
Spoon the icing onto the cooled cupcakes and top each one with desiccated coconut and a raspberry.