The year that raced past!

It most definitely does not seem like a year has passed since Joel was born! I think it’s gone quicker than Andrew’s first year went, and I think that’s because I’m so busy running around after 2 very active boys that I don’t have much chance to stop, step back and reflect. Last week, halfway through which was his birthday, was a particularly crazy week with lots going on – some the usual, some special things. It’s only in the last few days that I’ve had chance to sit down and write about the year and the birthday celebrations.

He came into the world in a very speedy manner, even faster than Andrew had for a first baby. Apart from some jaundice in the early weeks that took some patience to shift and so to wake him up, he hasn’t had a bad start in life at all. We noticed within a few weeks that he is very chilled out in personality, and has always been happy to get on with his own thing and not complain when not the centre of my attention.

I wonder how much of this is just that he is a second child, but even so, he is clearly much less dramatic about things than his older brother. I also wonder how much it helped that I have worn Joel in a sling every day for substantial amounts of time, whereas I only wore Andrew occasionally in a couple of not very comfortable carriers that we had back then. Even at a year old, I can guarantee that he’ll calm down and fall asleep in our gorgeous toddler sling, as well as be happy to travel about in it when awake.

Joel is 1

Both my boys have been very active, and Joel started to move early – by 7 months he was crawling and only a few weeks later he was cruising. He took his first unaided steps at just over 11 months, though he is so fast at crawling that he still chooses to crawl a lot of the time now at 12 months, because it’s so much more efficient than his walking at the moment. This is different from Andrew, who was never much good at crawling and as soon as he could walk at the end of 11 months, he had more incentive to than Joel does. But it won’t be long before I have 2 walking (actually running!) boys to contend with. The wannabe toddler is finally a fully fledged toddler!

His ‘talking’ is starting to sound very speech-like. We are convinced that his first word is ‘Andrew’, because he keeps saying something like ‘a-da’ (with the correct stress pattern) in the right context. Nevermind ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’, let’s get our priorities right here! Of course it’s probably because he hears this word said a lot when we repeatedly call him (to do something / not do something), for which there was no equivalent when Andrew was this age. His favourite syllable to babble is ‘da’, so ‘dadadadadada’ with a lovely intonation and rhythm is what we hear him say most often.

joel and andrew

We’re using some baby sign language with him, just like we did with Andrew. We’re concentrating on some key words like Mummy, Daddy, milk, food, drink, nappy, as well as singing songs whilst signing, such as Old MacDonald with all the animals. He hasn’t started signing back yet, but I remember it being quite a while before Andrew did too, as they all pick it up and decide to use it themselves at different rates. In general he’s far more interested in moving than communicating anyway.

His hair is really starting to grow now, and it looks like he’s going to be quite fair, just like Daddy was as a toddler. It also has a bit of a curl to it at the back and on the top, and some days, depending on how it has dried after the bath and how he’s slept on it, the curls can be really quite robust. It won’t be too long before I’ll need to snip it, but for now it looks very cute.

Joel 11 months

The one thing that everyone seems to notice and comment on about Joel, from the moment he could do it at around 6 weeks, is his smile. It doesn’t take much to elicit a smile from him, and although like any baby/toddler he has tired or sad moments when tears abound, he’s more often than not got a smile on his face – a big wide smile, again just like Daddy. Everyone says that he is a mini Daddy, and I think the smile and face in general contribute to this impression.

To celebrate this first year of his life, we had a meal out with close family at the weekend. We picked a very family friendly pub with great home cooked food in Cambridge city centre (The Cambridge Brewhouse if you’re local and interested). After we’d eaten, we headed home and later had a cup of tea and slice of birthday cake. I love baking and decoration birthday cakes, as you may have noticed from Andrew’s first and second birthdays.

Cake

For Joel’s first birthday cake I chose a racing car with a number 1 on the bonnet. I had been given a car mould a while ago and had been waiting for a special occasion to use it. The cake itself was a simple vanilla sponge cake, and I used ready coloured royal icing to roll out and decorate it, having first spread jam all over the car to make the icing stick well. It seemed to go down well with everyone including the birthday boy. I found the very centre of the cake a little dense because it’s a big volume of mixture to cook through, so when I use the mould again I will try putting more raising agent in and a little less mixture, to try and get a lighter cake in the very centre.

As we race into the 2nd year of Joel’s life, I’m glad that I could take this time to reflect on how he is a very healthy and happy little boy with a lovely personality and a gorgeous smile. We are very blessed, and thank God for him.

Courgette and apple cake – #GBBO inspired

This week the Great British Bake Off was all about unconventional baking – using flours that are wheat- or gluten-free, and using no dairy ingredients (like butter or milk). The final round saw the contestants bake a showstopper cake that was completely dairy free and contained a vegetable. They went for butternut squash, carrot or beetroot between them.

As we had a courgette in the veg box this week, and as I’ve been meaning to bake a courgette cake for some time now, I decided that this would be a great time to do it! We also had some cooking apples given to us by one of Tom’s work colleagues who has a glut of them in her garden, so I thought I’d combine the two in a cake with some spices too.

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I googled some courgette cake recipes and adapted one from BBC Good Food (I never follow a recipe exactly, and I wanted to add apple anyway). It came out very well, and actually rose more than I thought it might, given that vegetable cakes can be quite stodgy. It tastes like a fruit cake, but is lovely and moist from the grated courgette and apple. My boys all approved!

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 85g soft brown sugar
  • 1 medium courgette, grated
  • 1 cooking apple, grated
    • (combined weight of courgette and apple around 350-400g)
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 150g sultanas

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (fan) and prepare a cake tin (grease and line if necessary – I use a silicone mould that doesn’t need this).
  2. Mix the oil, sugar and eggs together in a bowl, then add the grated fruit and veg.
  3. In another, larger bowl, mix the flour, spices, baking powder and sultanas until evenly distributed.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well combined.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin/mould and bake for about an hour (vegetable cakes, according to Mary Berry herself, take longer to bake than ordinary cakes), until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
  7. Eat as fresh as possible – you can also freeze this.

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Tasty veg pie with puff crust – #GBBO inspired

This week the Great British Bake Off was all about pastry. It’s not something I bake all the time, but I’m less afraid of it than I once was (after I’d had a bit of a disastrous apple pie with sweet pastry that just went everywhere!), so I like the opportunity to practice and prove to myself that I can in fact do it!

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One of the challenges on the GBBO this week involved puff pastry. Now proper puff pastry takes a long time to make – as Paul Hollywood himself emphasised, it needs a lot of time to get it right. But there is a quick, cheat’s method that gives puffy pastry (even if not as superior a puff as the real McCoy) in much more manageable time frames. So this is what I decided to do for dinner on Sunday night. For once I didn’t choose a sweet bake (I know, shocking), because we had some lovely veg that I thought would work well in a nice hearty pie, and when I mentioned to Tom that I was thinking of making a ‘hearty pie’, he said ‘Oh yes, I like anything hearty, do something hearty, yes please’. Still veggie, of course, so maybe not hearty as some avid carnivores might think of the word, but nonetheless tasty and perfect for an Autumn evening.

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Here’s the recipe, including how to make the rough puff pastry, which I roughly followed from Delia, just played around with quantities and added pepper.

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 450g plain flour
  • black pepper
  • cold water

Filling

  • half a suede
  • about a quarter of a white cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 4 button mushrooms
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml hot stock
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • few drops of tabasco
  • olive oil

Method

  1. Put the flour into a large bowl and grind quite a bit of black pepper into it (depending on your taste).
  2. Cut the butter into chunks and toss into the flour and pepper mix, just coating them with the flour.
  3. Pour the cold water, a little at a time, into the flour and butter and use your hands to bring it together into a dough. Don’t work it too much, just enough to bring it together.
  4. Shape it into a brick on a floured board, then roll it out into a rectangle that is almost twice as long as it is wide.
  5. Then fold it into thirds, bringing the left outside edge into the centre and then the same with the right, so that they overlap, and press down with the rolling pin so that the layers stick.
  6. Rest it for a few minutes, probably a good time to chop the veg, then roll the pastry (which should be back in a brick shape) into a rectangle again, followed by the folding into thirds like you did before.
  7. Leave it to rest again, and then do the same rolling and folding as before. After this third roll and fold, place in cling film in the fridge until you’re ready to use it for the pie lid later.
  8. To make the filling, chop the veg into chunks (as fine or as chunky as you like, though cooking times will vary according to size of chunk), and heat some olive oil in a large saucepan.
  9. Brown the onion, suede, cabbage and mushrooms in the saucepan for about 5-10 minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, hot stock and cornflour.
  10. Bring to a simmer and cook for about another 10 minutes until thickened.
  11. Add some tabasco to taste.
  12. Leave in the pan until you’re ready to assemble the pie.
  13. About 40 mins before you want to eat, transfer the filling to a large rectangular oven dish and spread around evenly.
  14. Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll out to just the right size to cover the filling, and press it down onto the filling gently.
  15. Prick the pastry lid with a fork several times to allow any steam to escape when baking.
  16. Bake in a hot oven 220 C (fan) for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is nicely browned and puffy.
  17. Serve immediately.

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Fruity almondy chocolatey fridge cake

This week’s bake off was all about biscuits, including a tray bake in the first round. I’m quite a fan of tray bakes like flapjack and tiffin / chocolate fridge cake type things, so this was a great excuse to be inspired and make something simple but yummy this weekend. I went for a chocolatey fridge ‘bake’ (technically not baking but 2 of the contestants did this kind of thing too so I feel it counts). The basic mix comprises chocolate, margarine and honey (which I always use instead of syrup), and then I added various flavours and textures – biscuits and maltesers for crunch, and marzipan and mixed dried berries for a fruity-almond flavour.

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It worked out very well, even though I haven’t tried this particular combination before. You don’t need a very big slice as it’s quite rich, but lovely as a treat with a cuppa tea. I don’t think it shows much technical finesse, but I don’t have much time for technical baking with all the sewing I’m choosing to do right now. So if you fancy having a go at something easy, here’s the recipe….

Ingredients

  • 200g plain chocolate
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 100g margarine
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 100g maltesers
  • 100g mixed dried berries
  • 6 rich tea biscuits
  • 200g marzipan

Method

  1. Line a rectangular dish with greaseproof paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate, margarine and honey in a bowl, either in the microwave or over a pan of boiling water.
  3. Chop up the marzipan into chunks, and break up the biscuits into smallish rough pieces.
  4. Add the maltesers, berries, biscuits and marzipan to the chocolate mixture and mix until well combined.
  5. Put the mixture into the dish and spread out until it reaches the sides and is evenly spread.
  6. Chill in the fridge until nicely set.
  7. Cut into squares/rectangles – use a sharp knife dipped in freshly boiled water to make it easier to cut through the chocolate.

Toffee apple pie

This week the Great British bake off was all about pies. I don’t very often bake pies, usually just if I have a social occasion to bake a pudding for, or I buy the ready made pastry to do a quick savoury one. So this was a good opportunity to be inspired and bake a fruit pie as the contestants did in round 1.

I decided to go simple: a classic apple pie with a slight twist – cooking the apples in butter and brown sugar to give them a caramel/toffee flavour, with a dash of cinnamon. The pastry is a plain shortcrust, so overall the pie isn’t too sweet. I’ve made this quite a few times before, but not for a while. I know Tom loves a good fruit pie, and would have them more often if he could, so I knew this bake would go down well. Andrew also got very excited about having some – the boys usually have fruit and natural yoghurt for pudding, so it was a treat to have a small piece of apple pie on a Saturday night after tea. Not that they would have noticed, but the bake was good enough to avoid the infamous soggy bottom!

Apple pie

Here’s the recipe, which only has 8 ingredients, it really is that simple! Just make sure that you work with cold hands for the pastry, and don’t overwork it. If you like custard or cream, this would work well with one of those, but I’m not a fan of either on my puddings, and I like this just as it is.

Ingredients

Filling

  • 2 large bramley apples
  • 50g butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

Pastry

  • 370g plain flour
  • 200g butter
  • cold water

Method

  1. First make the pastry: I usually cut the butter into chunks and put it in the freezer for 10 minutes or so to chill it before using it (except this time I left it a bit longer and it was very cold, but it still worked fine).
  2. Rub the butter and flour together in a bowl with your fingers until you have a breadcrumb consistency.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the crumbs and add a little cold water at a time, bringing the dough together with your hands until it sticks together in a firm ball but isn’t overly sticky.
  4. Leave it to rest at (cool) room temperature until you have made the filling.
  5. Peel and chop the apples into chunks.
  6. Melt the butter, sugar and cinnamon in a pan and add the apple, stirring and cooking for a few minutes until golden.
  7. Sprinkle the cornflour over the apple filling and stir in, then leave aside to cool slightly.
  8. On a floured board, cut the pastry into 2 pieces, one about 2 thirds of the dough and one about a third.
  9. Roll out the bigger piece of pastry to fit the bottom of your pie dish, and press it down into the bottom and sides.
  10. Put the filling into the pie and spread around evenly.
  11. Roll out the remaining pastry until big enough to cover the top of the pie.
  12. Press down the edges of the pastry where the bottom bit touches the top bit, using a fork to make indents around the rim, and trim off any excess pastry around the rim.
  13. Use the fork to make some holes in the lid of the pie, so that steam can escape when baking.
  14. Bake in the oven at 180ºC for about 30-40 minutes until lightly golden.
  15. Eat as fresh as possible.

Spicy millionnaire’s shortbread

This week’s Great British Bake Off was all about desserts: trifles in round 1, Iles flottants in the technical challenge, and petit fours in the show stopper round. It hasn’t been easy to bake something particularly inspired by one of these rounds this week, because I can’t stand trifle (mainly the cold custard thing going on – yuk!) and I’m not a massive fan of meringues, I mean they’re OK, but I prefer to bake things that I’m actually going to enjoy rather than just eat politely because that’s on the menu.

As I don’t have a particular occasion to bake for, or the time to spend hours on intricate designs, petit fours weren’t really something I had the energy to do either. However, a couple of the contestants did some kind of millionaire’s shortbread for one of their petit four varieties, and this inspired me to have a go. I vividly remember the first time I ever baked millionaire’s shortbread: a tin of evaporated milk had been put in the wrong place amongst the condensed milk tins in the supermarket, and I gaily poured it in to the pan without realising until later when the caramel didn’t set that I had in fact bought the wrong thing! I have made it since, and it turned out much better, but it’s not something I make very often. As Tom has had a busy week at work and still volunteered to take both boys out on Saturday morning to a Dads and toddlers group in town, I thought he would appreciate a thank you bake 🙂

Millionares shortbread

I decided to do a twist on the usual millionaires shortbread by taking a bit of the edge off the sweetness – I added cinnamon to the shortbread base and ginger to the caramel. I think these spices work well with chocolate. I can’t call them petit fours, they’re nothing like that delicate or small, but my tester approved of their taste and texture. Sadly not long after I made these I came down with a bug and haven’t felt like eating them myself, so most have gone in the freezer for when I’m better.

Ingredients

  • Biscuit base
  • 180g flour
  • 90g semolina
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 180g margarine
  • 90g sugar
  • Caramel
  • 400g tin condensed milk
  • 150g margarine
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 2tsp ginger syrup (from stem ginger jar)
  • Chocolate topping
  • 100g plain chocolate

Method

  1. Pre heat the oven to 160ºC (fan) and line an oven dish with greaseproof paper.
  2. Cream the margarine and sugar for the biscuit base in a bowl.
  3. Add the flour, semolina and cinnamon, and mix until a stiff dough forms.
  4. Press the dough into the bottom of the oven dish, and bake for about 30 minutes until lightly golden, then leave to cool.
  5. While the base is cooling, make the caramel.
  6. Melt the margarine and sugar in a pan.
  7. Add the condensed milk and ginger syrup and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.
  8. Keep at the boil for a few minutes, until the caramel starts to thicken.
  9. Allow it to cool a little before pouring over the cooled base, then leave to set in the fridge.
  10. Once cooled, melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of boiling water, and pour over the top of the caramel, spreading it out to cover all the top.
  11. Leave to cool in the fridge until set.
  12. To cut into squares, dip a sharp knife in freshly boiled water for a little while before using it to cut the chocolate – this will hopefully help it to glide through although it didn’t work every time for mine!

Plaited fruity loaf, with toddler help

The second week of the Great British Bake Off was all about bread. In the final ‘show stopper’ round, the contestants had to bake a decorative loaf which would really wow the judges in terms of creativity and flavour. A few of them opted for plaits of some sort; this is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now, because I quite like plaiting my hair for fun, and I don’t have little girls to do this on! So, inspired by this round of the GBBO, I decided to bake a simple plaited loaf, with 3 strands.

OK, I know, that’s not exactly showstopper material (though perhaps marginally more impressive than the tomato loaf that the contestant who lost baked!), but I also wanted Andrew to help and have a go at feeling the dough and shaping it into the ‘sausage’ shapes with me, just like he does with his play dough – anything more complicated would have likely ended in disaster! He enjoyed himself and was happy to help me with this relatively easy loaf. Joel also got involved after we’d finished and I was about to clear up – he wanted to play with the left over flour on the board, so I let him have this ‘sensory’ play time.

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I also used something that wouldn’t be allowed on the bake off: our bread maker to mix the dough (though they are allowed general mixers, so it’s not much different 😉 ) Working with a toddler is one thing, but also hand mixing and kneading dough with him is another – he went straight to the dough handling and shaping stage with me. So it’s not exactly of bake off standard, but I like being inspired by the show each week.

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For the flavour, I went for a sweet dough, based on the hot cross bun recipe in our bread maker’s recipe booklet, except I did half white and half wholemeal flour and left out the salt. That’s why it looks a bit darker than your average hot cross bun – we didn’t burn it, honest!

It came out very well; it was approved by the boys, especially Joel as it is so soft and easy to eat without teeth, and Andrew was impressed that he got to eat something that he helped make. I think it’s a good idea to get kids into handling food in the raw and cooked states, so they can learn about how food is made from scratch, rather than everything coming out of a packet.

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Here are the ingredients that we put into the bread maker and then put it on the dough setting. Once the dough was made we took it out and cut it into 3 even parts, then shaped each part into a long strand (or sausage!), before plaiting them in a traditional ‘left over centre, right over centre’ method. We then left it to prove as a loaf for 30 minutes, before baking it for about 15 minutes at 180ºC.

1 cup = the 200ml cup that comes with the bread maker, but as long as you use the same size cup for all ingredients, it doesn’t really matter how big it is.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup melted margarine
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 2 cups white bread flour
  • 1 3/4 cups wholemeal bread flour
  • 2 tsp fast action yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins

Cupcake of the month (August): rich chocolate

It’s that time of year again when my favourite TV programme is back on – the Great British Bake Off! In fact I haven’t watched any other TV all year; we don’t have a licence because since having kids we found that we never watched TV apart from one or two things that we could get on iPlayer the day after, and the GBBO is the only thing I’ve downloaded this year. I love watching other people bake – some impressive recipes as well as some that don’t quite go as planned – just ordinary people who enjoy and have a talent for baking.

Last week, the first of several rounds until the final, was all about cake. Mmmm cake! In the third round of three, the showstopper round, the contestants had to bake a chocolate cake with chocolate decorations. Coincidentally, the cupcake for August on my cupcake calendar is a chocolate one, so I thought it would be very fitting to bake come indulgent chocolate cupcakes this week, inspired by both my calendar and the GBBO. Last year during the competition I managed to bake something each week inspired by the theme of that week; I’m not sure I will get chance every week this year, but I’ll give it a go where possible!

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These cupcakes have a very gooey, dense and fudgy consistency, and are very yummy. More of a treat for us when the boys have gone to bed than a snack for little ones! Here’s how I baked them…

Ingredients – makes 12

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 120g margarine
  • 80g brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 180g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 90ml milk
Ganache
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 90ml soured cream or creme fraiche

Method

  1. Prepare a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases, and preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan)
  2. Melt the chocolate, margarine, sugar and honey in a bowl, either in the microwave or over a pan of boiling water.
  3. Weigh the flour and cocoa powder in a large bowl and add the baking powder.
  4. Pour the molten ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix.
  5. Beat the eggs, add them to the large bowl along with the milk, and mix until well combined.
  6. Pour the mixture, which is quite runny, into the cake cases until they are about two thirds full.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, and leave to cool completely.
  8. To make the ganache, break the chocolate into chunks and melt either in the microwave or over a pan of boiling water.
  9. Stir in the soured cream or creme fraiche until smooth and thick – chill in the fridge if it’s still a little runny to help firm it up.
  10. Spread over the top of the cupcakes to finish them.

Slow cooked stuffed marrows

It’s been a long time since I blogged a recipe, and a slow cooked one at that. It’s not that we haven’t been eating slow cooked meals, in fact it’s been a good thing to have on during the day in the warmer weather so I don’t have to slave over a hot stove (so to speak) in the evening, but I’ve just been sticking to our favourites rather than thinking of new things. I’ve also had plenty of nappy stuff and editing work to be getting on with, so something has to give.

A work colleague of Tom’s offered him some marrows this week, and,  after consulting me, he accepted them. I remember having marrows stuffed with minced meat and vegetables in France when I lived there for a few months, so I thought that this would be a good thing to try in the slow cooker. I wanted to make it veggie (rather than using minced turkey – I wouldn’t use minced beef anyway), so opted for a butter bean filling with other veg and herbs to add flavour.

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It turned out very well. Tom and Joel wolfed it down, Andrew was less keen, but we know he’s not a big fan of courgettes so was not impressed by the size of courgette that I put on his plate! He ate the filling at least. We have another marrow, and I think I’ll make some soup with that. Here’s the recipe for stuffing, if you fancy having a go…

Ingredients – serves 2 adults and 2 toddlers

  • 1 marrow
  • 1 tin butter beans, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 1 beef tomato
  • fresh herbs
  • 100g grated mature cheddar

Method

  1. Cut the marrow into lengths that will fit into your slow cooker (ours has a divider in the middle so I cut it into shorter bits than I would need to for a non-divided slow cooker).
  2. Half the pieces down the centre lengthways, and cut out the seeded bit in the middle.
  3. Chop the onion, mushroom and tomato into small cubes, and chop the garlic cloves finely.
  4. Roughly mash the butter beans in a large bowl, then add the chopped up other veg and stir until well combined.
  5. Fill the centre of the marrows with this filling and place in the slow cooker pot.
  6. Cook on low for 8 hours, then serve with the cheddar sprinkled on top and some fresh crusty bread on the side: delicious!

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Cupcake of the month (July): red currant

I’ve not felt like baking in this baking heat, but yesterday saw a slight reprieve in the daytime temperature around here, a mere 24 degrees, so I seized the opportunity to sneak in July’s cupcake of the month recipe.

The cakes on the calendar this month were called ‘ruby-red’ cupcakes, and required red food colouring as well as cocoa powder to make a deep red colour. However, since we had red currants in the fruit and veg box this week, I thought that I’d make the cakes red by putting red currants in instead of the food colouring – as simple as that. The photos make them look more brown, but when you bite into them, there is lots of redness!IMG 1870

I also had some union jack cupcake cases left from last summer’s olympic and jubilee festivities, and I thought why not bake some cakes with lovely local British summer fruit in them.

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They turned out very well – the recipe makes quite a dense cake, very moist and tasty, as it has natural yoghurt in it. They weren’t too sweet either, as the red currants added a sharpness and the cocoa powder a bitterness as well as the sugar to sweeten. My testers approved, which is the main thing in our house.

Ingredients – makes 12

  • 130g self-raising flour
  • 100g sugar
  • 100ml yoghurt
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g margarine
  • 80g red currants
Drizzle
  • 50g margarine
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 20g red currants

Method

  1. Prepare a muffin tray with cupcake cases, and preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan).
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until smooth and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and beat well.
  4. Add the flour and cocoa powder and mix until just combined.
  5. Add the red currants and yoghurt and mix until just combined.
  6. Spoon into the cases to about two thirds full.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, and leave to cool.
  8. Meanwhile make up the drizzle by creaming the margarine, icing sugar and red currants together – I left a few lumpier bits of red currant for texture, but most of the juice went into the drizzle.
  9. Spoon it onto the top of the cakes.
  10. Eat and enjoy as fresh as possible.