Four Flippin’ Good Pancake Day Ideas

pancake dayIf you don’t have pancakes in your life for the other 364 days a year then you have my sympathy. Seriously, is there anything more comforting than a crispy crepe smothered in lemon and sugar? There is not. But that’s by the by, today is the day you can shovel them in til you’re fit to pop so chop chop.

Use this basic recipe to get going and if you’re stuck for ideas today try one of these:

Strawberry and Maple Syrup 
The husbands’ favourite. A handful of fresh strawbs and a good glug of decent maple syrup. It’s a classic.pancake day

Classic lemon and sugar
Fresh lemon squeezed all over (inside and out) and be liberal with the sugar. pancake day

pancake day

Raspberries and Peanut Butter
Particularly Pip’s Maple and Peanut Butter and a good handful of fresh raspberries. Get in my belly.

pancake day

The Full Teenager
K stuffed her pancake with that Malteaser spread, mini marshmallows, maple syrup and drowned it in sugar. It’s just how she rolls*. There was no time for a photo, also it was OBSCENE! pancake day

pancake day

pancake dayMake sure you stay properly hydrated, all that flipping is hard work! We quaffed our Robinson’s squash like it was going out of fashion.  Robinsons Fruit Squash contains no added sugar which is good news for K who is already at least 96% pure sugar.pancake dayHow do you eat yours? Can you top the Full Teenager?

*rolls, pancakes. BOOM! 

This post was written in collaboration with Robinson’s Fruit Squash which we already know and love. Squash adulation and dodgy pancake flipping all my own.

FYI when the summer comes that Lemon Squash is going in a lolly tray with gin for some gin and lemon ice lollies. YES!


Super Secret Mince Pie Recipe

mince pie recipeThat I’m sharing with t’interweb.

Mince pies are delicious and comforting and, not to overstate it, all that’s good with the world. I didn’t make my own mincemeat, a little bit because you can buy excellent quality jars of the stuff (might I suggest Sainsburys Taste the Difference – not sponsored, just ruddy good mincemeat…is the most adult thing I’ve ever said) and a lot because the secret to these is in the pastry. Trust me, you’ll never make mince pies any other way ever again. I should probably confess that it’s the husbands super secret recipe, he’s a clever sausage but these are widely acknowledged to be the crispest bottomed, crumbliest topped triumph of a mince pie.

There’s still time to whip up a batch or two for your nearest and dearest before the big man comes.

For the Pastry
225g Plain Flour
80g Caster Sugar
1 Large Egg
110g Butter
1 tbsp Custard Powder (I KNOW!)

For the Mincemeat
I used pre-prepared but Bezza’s recipe is foolproof and tasty if you’re feeling all DIY.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C and lightly grease a cupcake tin.

Replace one tablespoon of the measured flour with a single tablespoon of the custard powder before making the pastry as normal – rubbing the fat into flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar.

Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each one followed by just enough milk to bind before wrapping the pastry in clingfilm and chilling til about half an hour before you need it.

Allow the pastry to warm slightly before trying to roll out.

Setting aside a third of the pastry for the pie tops, roll the remaining two thirds to 2-3mm thickness.

Using a large cookie cutter (the kind you used to make scones with your nan) cut discs of pastry and press gently into the tin.

Chuck a teaspoon of mincemeat in each one.

The medium sized cookie cutter is about perfect for the tops, roll out the set aside pastry to the same thickness and cut twelve tops.

Press lightly onto the bases and seal the edges.

Finish off with a brush of egg wash and a sprinkling of caster sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes, until golden and smelling ridiculous.

Wait before shovelling into your mouth, take my word for it.mince pie recipeApologies again for the iphone photography and for balancing a mince pie on a wreath for the purposes of this blog post. 


Bake Off Bake Along: Bread Week

briocheI abandoned biscuit week. I know, I know, it’s far too early to be willy nilly skipping bakes but biscuit making isn’t my bag. I enjoy eating them too much to resent a bad biscuit bake. Plus I was severely lacking inspiration, my best idea was iced spaniels but that’d be too far, even for me. Are we good with the excuses now? Great. To bread week.

WOAH WOAH WOAH hang on, first we need to discuss the fiasco that is GBBO. What. Is. Happening? Mel and Sue I salute you for sticking to your guns and clinging to the Beeb. Love Productions: you are greedy and you suck.

Ok, now we’re ready for bread week.

In a vain attempt to make up for my biscuit badness and reaching peak revision procrastination, I went a bit nuclear for bread week attempting Paul Hollywood’s bloomer (maaaatron) and a Nutella brioche.

The husband is really really good at bread so I assumed at least a basic level of skill would have been passed to me through osmosis or something. Yeah…

SO the brioche.brioche


briocheI used this recipe as a basis but threw caution to the wind with the filling: not because I, a baking newbie, genuinely thought she could bake brioche better than someone who named their blog after actual brioche, simply because I genuinely believe one can never have enough Nutella, amiright? I am right.briocheInstead I rolled the dough as instructed, covered it liberally with Nutella warmed *just* enough to be spreadable, a good scattering of chopped hazelnuts and chocolate chips and rolled it like a Swiss roll and popped it into a greased lined loaf tin. Again I ignored the recipe and didn’t turn it into a pull apart bread, that’s just not the way I roll. BOOM. Thanks, I’ll be here all week. In reality the dough was just too wet and I didn’t feel confident enough to start chopping it up and moving it about.

We’ve got a fancy ‘proving’ setting on the new oven but the minimum temp was just a bit too hot for the butter in the brioche so I set it to 30C and as soon as it proved enough to peep over the top of the tin, in it went to bake for 25 minutes at 180C. It was parfait. I wasn’t sure I should wing it or deviate from a quite clear recipe but this came out pretty well in the end, moist (bleurgh) enough, tasty and baked so well it got a ‘good bake’ from the old fella.

bloomerFor my next trick I went for the bloomer. I followed this recipe to a t but fell foul of the proving oven again. It more than doubled on the second prove but I’m not experienced enough with bread to really know what effect an over prove has on the outcome? Answers on a postcard (or just in the comments will do). Again this one was not too shabby at all, good and golden and the crust was crunchy and delicious. Following the instructions precisely baked it to perfection, it wasn’t doughy at all and well aerated << this feels like a proper baker term and I feel weird using it. Like the first time I swore in front of my mum.

I ate chunks of the bloomer still warm from the oven, smothered in butter and dipped into a steaming big bowl of stew. And I’ve made another one since.

5 things I’ve learnt about baking bread:
1. It’s nowhere near as hard as I thought it would be.
2. I could be really flukey but it didn’t need me to be as precise as other bakes which is often where I fall down.
3. There really isn’t much better in life than the smell of baking bread.
4. It’s really addictive. The baking, the eating. All of it.
5. Just as I cannot juggle lemons, nor can I juggle a pre-packed Hovis and two garlic and coriander naans.bread week

Go find all the other bakers on Amanda’s Link Up . GO GO GO.


The Bake Off Bake Along Week 1: Lemon and Cointreau Drizzle Cake

lemon and cointreau drizzle cakeLike the rest of humanity I did an excited little wee when GBBO bulldozed back into my life. I confess that my first thought was ‘why would you ever make Jaffa Cakes?’ and then like a millisecond later ‘ooh ooh OOOOOH maybe I could join in with Amanda and Ala‘s Bake Along in my faaancy new kitchen‘.  Yes, yes I can.

Each week I’ll be choosing one of the signature, technical or showstopper challenges and doing my best to create something edible to fit the bill. For week one it was drizzles, jaffas or mirror cakes. I had to Google mirror cakes and I didn’t really fancy ruining Jaffa Cakes for myself for life so I give you the Lemon and Cointreau Drizzle Cake. I love a lemon drizzle and the Cointreau is a nod to Bezza and nans the world over. Hey Michelle, 1979 called – it wants its liqueur back.

There may also have been the smallest element of starting off easy, I’m not a natural baker, it’s all just a bit too precise isn’t it? I’m definitely from the school of chuck it all in and pray bakers. I’m also a dance for the cakes sort, like Val I suspect. I was quite sure I’d be team Selasi but Val, I keep thinking about Val.


Lemon and Cointreau Drizzle Cake

You’ll need
225g caster sugar
225g softened butter
225g self-raising flour
Four eggs
zest of 1 lemon

100g sugar
juice of 2 lemons
2 capfuls of Cointreau

Preheat the oven to 160C fan and line a loaf tin.

lemon and cointreau drizzle cakeCream together the butter and sugar til pale and fluffy (this has also been used to describe me).

lemon and cointreau drizzle cakeAdd the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next.

Sift in the flour and add the lemon zest and mix to combine.

lemon and cointreau drizzle cakeBake for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Practice juggling lemons a bit whilst waiting.

lemon and cointreau drizzle cake

lemon and cointreau drizzle cakeRemove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Mix the drizzle ingredients together.

Use a skewer to prick holes all over the cake and pour the drizzle slowly all over the surface of the still warm cake.

lemon and cointreau drizzle cakeLeave it to cool as long as you can, de-tin and stick your face right in there.

I’d probably up the drizzle quantity next time but I’m otherwise pretty pleased with how this one turned out, the Cointreau acted as a sort of neutraliser to the acidity of the lemon and had a cracking sugary crunch on top. It was really sort of delicious, even if I do say so.

I might not be star baker, it was ridiculously simple. But simple and effective is better than inedible, under-cooked monstrosity. And I’ve preserved the virtue of the Jaffa Cake.

lemon and cointreau drizzle cakeFancy a piece?

Let me know if you’re getting involved in the Bake Off Bake Along. Details here.

For those of you who know me in the real world I can confirm that the ex-chef husband was glued to the TV and had no part in my cake. Success and gloating all my own. 


The Great Kitchen Makeover

DSC_0661The kitchen was the last bit of our house to be fixed up. It was one of those functional but UTTERLY VILE ones full of late eighties dark wood and tiles that would even offend your nan. It’s a big job though isn’t it? And a ridiculously disruptive one. I thought I was prepared but by week three of having to brave the gauntlet of South Devon laundrettes and filling up my kettle from the bath taps I was over it.  Totes worth it now though, see how pretty.

So the before and durings.

Kitchen designAnd the super swanky afters. Disclaimer: we’re fairly vanilla.

magnet kitchen

magnet kitchen We wanted something clean and bright, pretty much anything but the monstrosity that was there before. After trying out Ikea’s design service – maybe pot luck but the guy who came to look at ours did not give a flying whatsit about our home. Shame because, Ikea – and finding that Wickes created a thing of beauty for about four times the price we stumbled into Magnet on Boxing Day.  I KNOW. But we managed to get free appliances in the Boxing Day sale* so the joke’s on you watching Harry Potter in your jimjams whilst stuffing your face with leftover turkey (you lucky gits). Magnet were brilliant actually, worth a go if you’re thinking about new kitchens. They did everything we asked them to do exactly when they said they’d do it.

*‘Free appliances in the sale’ feels like an adulting mic drop. Does life get any better?DSC_0672

DSC_0682No changes were made to the dog cave other than the addition of their sexy rosette and a bit of flooring. It did not stop them being almightily suspicious of the whole thing.


imageThe footprint of the kitchen is pretty much the same. We ditched the weird extra foot or so of height on the return (technical term my friends) and made that area a bit wider to fulfil the husband’s dream of a breakfast bar. My dream was dual ovens in the cupboards so everyone was happy.image

DSC_0696The floor is the same stuff we’ve got through the lounge and hallways. I don’t know flooring but it’s called Karndean and it’s not wood and it’s not lino. It’s really hard wearing under paws.

magnet kitchenWe’re waiting for some wine racks for that bit of wall up there ^^ where the calendar is and the new – stupidly expensive – bin but it’s almost there.


Also, you must never ever tell the husband that I sat on the breakfast bar (unless you know a cracking divorce lawyer).

P.s. you’ll be pleased to know that my sunflowers are on their last legs so they’ll stop rocking up everywhere soon.

P.p.s this post is sponsored by no-one and nothing other than my own narcissistic desire to show off my new kitchen.

Where stuff’s from if you’ve got vanilla leanings too:

Bar stools – Atlantic Shopping

Prints – Bodacious Devonish artist Becky Bettesworth in £5 Ikea frames

Light Box – Asos I think, was a gift

Kettle and Toaster – John Lewis

Crockery – ASDA << the bowls are different in this one

Alphabet Mugs (obvs. And yes, the B is for Betty. And what? ) – M&S 

Bookcase – Good ol’ Ikea. Yup, it’s a Billy.

Tiles – Metro Sage

Bosch Tassimo Whatsit – Currys

Pete and Bett’s Toy Box (not sorry) – Pets At Home