Saturday, 24 September 2011

Soya Bran Seeded Loaf

There always seems to be some angst involved when it comes to baking bread; will it rise well?  Will the crust stay crunchy?  The inside soft and fluffy?  The great thing about this recipe is that it's super simple and always comes out great!

The added wholemeal flour, soya bran and seeds in this loaf make it a healthier alternative to plain old white bread and it's also vegan friendly too!  I love to use it to make sandwiches, but it's also delicious toasted in the mornings with a slither of butter and jam.  You can cut it into slices and freeze so there's always some around when you need it, simply defrost and you're good to go!

Soya Bran Seeded Loaf


220g self-raising wholemeal flour
230g strong white bread flour
50g plain flour
1tsp salt
50g poppy seeds
2 small handfuls of pumpkin seeds
3tbsp soya bran
300ml warm water
7g dried active yeast
2tsp sugar
2tbsp sunflower oil

In a large bowl add the flours, salt, seeds and soya bran, mix until combined.

Pour the warm water into a jug and add the yeast, sugar and oil, stir until frothy.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture.  Use your hands to bring the dough together.

Lightly dust a surface with flour and turn out the dough.  Knead for 5 minutes until the dough no longer feels sticky.

Use a teaspoon of oil to grease a loaf tin and place the dough inside.  Use your hands to press the dough firmly into the tin, ensuring it goes right into the edges.  Cover with clingfilm, top loosely with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour until it has almost doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6 and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden, the loaf should sound hollow when tapped.  Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.  When ready cut into slices and serve with lashings of creamy butter.

Belle's Top Tip
Rather than place the dough in the tin to rise, leave in an oil coated bowl instead.  When ready divide the dough into even sized balls and place on an oiled baking sheet (use two if necessary).  Bake as above and you'll have bread rolls instead, great for serving with soup or as an accompaniment with dinner.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

English Rose Apple and Berry Pies

If you're looking for a warm, tasty, fruit dessert then look no further, these pies are absolutely perfect!  Succulent chunks of apple are mixed with a variety of juicy English berries with a hint of rosewater, all encased in a buttery, sugar-crusted pastry...I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

They're so easy to make and so delicious, I'm sure you're guests, friends and family will adore them.  The recipe makes six small pies, but if you prefer you can use the exact same quantities to make one big pie instead.  Whichever you prefer I guarantee you won't have much left once everyone starts tucking in!

English Rose Apple and Berry Pies


250g plain flour
80g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 egg yolk


2 large cooking apples, peeled and cored
120g caster sugar, plus extra to sprinkle
300g frozen mixed berries
1tbsp cornflour
1tbsp rosewater
2tbsp milk
icing sugar to dust

To make the pastry; place the flour and sugar in a large bowl and mix.  Add the butter and a pinch of salt and use your fingers to rub together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Add the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of cold water and bring together with your hands until it forms a soft dough.  Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Whilst the dough is chilling cut the apples into 1cm pieces and place in a large saucepan with the sugar and 250ml of water.  Cover and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes , or until the apple begins to soften.  Add the berries to the saucepan and heat, uncovered, for about 2-3 minutes, until the berries start to release their juices.

In a small bowl add the cornflour with the rosewater and 2 tablespoons of cold water, mix until smooth.  Add the cornflour mixture to the fruit mixture and heat for a further few minutes until the mixture has thickened.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5 and grease a 6 hole muffin tin with butter.  Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out onto a lightly floured surface until it's about 3mm thick.  Use a 12cm pastry cutter to cut out six rounds and use them to line the muffin holes.  Divide the fruit mixture between the holes, being careful not to overfill them.

Bring the remaining pastry into a ball and roll out until about 2-3mm thick.  Use a 9cm pastry cutter to stamp out 6 rounds.  If you have extra pastry you can stamp out a design to top these rounds (I used small hearts).  Brush the pastry edges with water and top with the smaller circles, pressing the edges firmly together to seal.  Brush the tops with sprinkle and sprinkle generously with caster sugar.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before carefully turning out.  Dust with icing sugar and serve warm with vanilla ice-cream or a dollop of thick cream.

Belle's Top Tip
I always make more filling than I actually need, so if you find you have some left over, pour into a baking dish, use the crumble topping recipe from my "Totally Tropical Caribbean Crumble" post and make a delicious English Apple and Berry Fruit Crumble too!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Chilli Chocolate Orange Cake

I love chocolate and when it’s combined with other delicious ingredients it can be even more enticing; chocolate and mint - yummy, chocolate and banana - scrumptious, but chocolate and orange - I have to admit I’ve never been a huge fan of the combination. This, however, maybe the cake that changed all that.

This chocolate orange cake is full of subtle flavours so it’s not at all overpowering and don’t be afraid of the chilli, this again is subtle and gives it a fantastic, spicy kick. So, although I won’t be breaking into a Terry’s Chocolate Orange anytime soon, I will definitely be enjoying this wonderful cake time and time again, I hope you do too!

Chilli Chocolate Orange Cake


150g plain chocolate
1tsp chilli powder
140g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
250g self raising flour
1½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 large orange, zest and juice


300g icing sugar
25g cocoa powder
125g unsalted butter, melted
2tbsp orange juice

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4 and line a round cake tin with baking paper, grease lightly.

Place a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of water on a medium heat, ensuring the water does not touch the bowl. Place the chocolate and chilli powder in the bowl and melt, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. When melted remove from the heat and allow to cool.

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Gently stir in the cool melted chocolate and the eggs until well combined.

Sift over the flour, add the baking powder, cocoa powder, orange zest and 2 tablespoons of the orange juice. Beat together until even coloured and smooth.

The batter will be quite thick so use a rubber spatula to pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile to make the frosting; Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl. Add the melted butter and orange juice and beat until combined.

Spread the icing generously over the cake using a spatula.  Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to set then serve.

Belle's Top Tip
If you really find the chilli too much try replacing it with ground ginger instead.  Although it doesn't have the same kick it will add a warming, subtle flavour and goes well with the chocolate orange too!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Dreamy Creamy Coconut Cake

A few friends of mine have recently celebrated Eid, a Muslim festival that marks the end of the fast of Ramadan. As they missed out on my baking during Ramadan, I promised to make up for it by baking them a special celebration cake for Eid and as they are both huge fans of coconut cake this is the one I made for them.

Whether you're celebrating something special or just fancy a treat this is a great cake to have at the table; it’s moist, light, creamy and the coconut gives it a wonderful flavour. I cut the cake in half and decorated individually as it was for two people, but you can keep it as one luscious loaf if you like! I hope you enjoy baking it as much as my friends enjoyed eating it and for all those who do celebrate the Muslim festival a slightly belated…Eid Mubarak!


Dreamy Creamy Coconut Cake


175g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
1tbsp creamed coconut
3 eggs, lightly beaten
175g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
50g desiccated coconut


20g desiccated coconut
100g icing sugar
1tsp creamed coconut
a few tablespoons of cold water

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4 and line a loaf tin with baking paper, grease lightly.
In a large bowl beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and creamed coconut and beat until very pale.

Beat in eggs until well combined and sift over the flour, baking powder and pour in the desiccated coconut. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until all traces of the flour have gone.

Pour the mixture into a prepared tin, using a spatula to smooth the top, and bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the 20g desiccated coconut over. Place in the oven for about 3 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove and leave to cool.

Place the icing sugar in a bowl and mix with the cream coconut and just enough water to give a thick consistency. Spread the icing over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides and sprinkle over the toasted coconut. Leave for about 5-10 minutes for the icing to set and you're ready to serve!

Belle's Top Tip
If you like a citrus kick to your cakes you can make this a coconut and lime cake by replacing the creamed coconut in the cake and icing with a teaspoon of lime juice.  Add the zest of two limes to the cake mixture before baking and save a little to sprinkle over the icing later.