Thursday, 13 October 2016

La Dolce Vita - Italian Inspired Bakes @ Ham and Jam in Preston

Living the good life - La Dolce Vita was our theme for our recent clandestine cake club outing, Italian inspired bakes.

All the flavours of Italy where present in some amazing cakes, we love a good theme and this was one of the best (well for me anyway as I love Italian food).

Our event was kindly hosted by our lovely friends at Ham and Jam in Preston city centre, one of favourite coffee shops when in town. Please check them out if you are visiting Preston they are near the Guild Hall and the Victorian Market, you are sure of a warm welcome, the food is excellent and coffee amazing.....

We got to taste a Lemon, ricotta and polenta cake (gluten free)

A cappuccino cake

A Zucotto cake

A Tiramisu cake

A Neapolitan Cake

And finally a Lemon, Elderflower and marscapone cake

As is the norm we indulged in lots of slices of these wonderful cakes, enjoying chatting about Great British Bake off and all manner of other topics. We were joined by a new member who came to see what we are all about and we look forward to tasting her baking at the next event in a few weeks time. If you fancy joining check out the tab for the South Lancashire CCC above.

Check out our post from our previous visit to Ham and Jam 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Besan flour, banana and choc chip loaf - gluten free

Well we are still in banana cake mode here as I  hate to see them go to waste and the fruit bowl every week seems to contain at least one unloved spotty specimen. I like to ring the changes when it comes to recipes, so this recipe is another gluten free one featured bananas.

I wanted to experiment with cake making using besan flour, naturally gluten free, this earthy high protein high fibre flour is made from chickpeas and some times lentils or other beans. This flour is much more cost effective when compared with other gluten free flours and I am pleased to say produces a very tasty bake too, no hint of  lentil or chickpea at all.

Its moist and decadent and the loaf has just the right amount of sweetness and the chocolate chips provide just the right amount of chocolately flavours in every bite.

What you need
  • 2 large very ripe bananas- mashed
  • 3/4 cup of Thick live yogurt
  • 1 egg - free range
  • 1/2 cup light brown soft sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil - melted
  • 1 1/2 cups besan flour (different brands have different mixes, mine was chickpea and lentil, some are just chickpea) - above all check gluten free if required most are
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 pkt of dark chocolate chips
What you do
  • Pre heat the oven to 180c and prepare your loaf tin, either oil spray or base line a 2lb loaf tin
  • In your mixer blend the bananas, yogurt and egg, until well combined and the mixture is creamy.
  • Seive the besan flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and cinnamon on to the wet mixture, incorporate using a wire ballon whisk to retain the air in the mixture.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into your prepared tin, smooth the top
  • Place in the oven and bake for approximately 50 minutes until well risen and golden. Test with a skewer to ensure done.
  • Cool initially in the tin for 10 minutes and then remove to cool fully on a wire rack.
  • Store in an airtight tin
  • Freezes well when double wrapped

We are linking up to Love Cake this month, created and hosted at JibberJabberUk, the theme this month being in the words of the lovely Toyah "Its a Mystery !" as besan flour isn't usually used in cake baking.

                                                           Link up your recipe of the week

And recipe of the week , over on A Mummy Too

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Credit Crunch Munch Round Up - July 2016

I have been very tardy of late and I am quite late in posting the round up of all the lovely recipes entered into Credit Crunch Munch for July whilst we were hosting.

                        Credit Crunch Munch - Fab Fod 4 All

Credit Crunch Munch is the creation of Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours, as a way of sharing moneysaving or frugal recipes, which are low in cost but high in flavour and above all amazing food. Hosted both by the creators and other food bloggers in turn its a fun way of sharing recipes.

You can always find inspiration over on the Credit Crunch Munch page, for August the linky is taking a break but will be back with a bang in September,  so check out the page to find this months host.

On to our round up, all in all we had 11 lovely entries for July, not bad at all considering it the start of school holidays in the UK and lots of bloggers are away.

Our first link up was from yours truly with some pretty tasty (if I do say so myself) Lemonade Scones, ideal for a quick impromptu bake when you have guests.


Our next link up came from the lovely Shaheen who blogs at Allotment to Kitchen with Simple tumeric potatoes with fava bean and carrot chilli, a colourful tasty dish to accompany a hearty vegan chilli.


Our entry from Fab Food 4 All is some very summery Lemon and Elderflower curd cupcakes a perfect seasonal bake, ideal for afternoon tea or a summer picnic.

                                                       Lemon & Elderflower Cupcakes - Fab Food 4 All

Next we have a delicious fish dish of Crispy Grilled Mackerel with lemon and garlic from Family, Friends, Food. Wonderfully healthy and a perfect dish for alfresco eating.

                                                                 We love the crispy, smoky skin & juicy, flavourful flesh of this delicious grilled mackerel! Packed with Omega 3, it's a healthy family favourite dinner.

EasypeasyFoodie joined in the fun with a Kale and Red Onion Dhal with buckwheat recipe, a tasty looking easy recipe perfect for the Sirt Diet.

                                                       Kale and Red Onion Dhal with Buckwheat

Camilla of Fab Food 4 All brought us another seasonal recipe perfect for sipping in a summer garden, a refreshing Old fashioned Lemonade recipe

                                               Old Fashioned Lemonade - Fab Food 4 All

Our next recipe is for Smoky Tofu Sandwiches from The Taste Space, this sustaining healthy sandwich looks amazing.

                                             Smoky Tofu Sandwiches

Our lovely linky party was then joined by Ren Behan with Kasza and lentil salad with griddled courgette and halloumi.  The beautiful dish sums up what makes for wonderful summer eating.

                                                             Kasza Courgette Salad

The Veg Hog linked up with some very interesting Potato Spelt rolls, cleverly using some leftover roast potatoes in the recipe.


Roast Chicken and a Country walk shared with us a fab recipe for Quickest leftover chicken stir fry, which would make a great supper recipe when you need to get food on the table fast.

                                                    Quickest Leftover Chicken Stir Fry

Our final recipe is for a Smoky Butternut Squash soup from The Improving Cook , frugally made in the slow cooker.

                                                                 The Improving Cook- Slow Cooker Smoky Butternut Squash Soup

So that's all folks for this month and remember Credit Crunch Munch will be back in September.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Off to the Tower ! - Afternoon Tea at Hoghton Tower

It's not often you get invited to Afternoon Tea at a castle (well a Tower actually but what passes for a castle around these parts and very castle like too), reputed to be the location of where King James knighted his "Sir" loin of beef, the ancestral home to the De Hoghton family in situated on a rise in rolling Lancashire countryside just outside Preston, Chorley and Blackburn. Hoghton Tower and its grounds have magnificent views of the surrounding area and the venue plays host to many and varied events throughout the year including a very popular "Merchants of Hoghton Tower" farmers market.

We were recently invited to the relaunch of their Vaio tearoom (vaio due to the decoration on the walls of the tea room), the new Manager has carefully sourced lots of local producers for the tea room and the emphasis is definitely on a traditional English afternoon tea and tea time favourites.

We dined in splendour, sipping bubbles and being entertained by a string quartet, the canapes delicious and appetizing.

I particularly loved the abundant floral displays featuring garden and wild flowers, perfectly in keeping with the country castle ambiance of the venue.

The tea room also serves a selection of platters, the Tower platter being for the meat eater and featuring pies, meats and homemade chutneys. The Seafood platter celebrating some great local seafood all sourced carefully from local producers, many of which attend the Merchants event on a regular basis.

The tea room also have a "picnic menu" if you wish to organise a special celebration and will happily quote for outside and event catering as well.

Featuring cakes from Lathams of Broughton, homemade scones and cake of the week, there is a sweet treat to delight all.

Local bakers "All you knead" are supplying bread and baked goods, ice cream is being sourced from Mrs Dowsons just down the road. Cheese from Leagrams cheese.

Hoghton Tower is a great place for a visit and is bursting with history, I have enjoyed many visits over the years and you can even hold your wedding here.

We were  also featured in an Article in LEP , our local County paper in connection with the event.

Hoghton Tower

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Double chocolate banana bread, great way of using overripe bananas.

Dark and foreboding.... this is just the case, rich in chocolate flavours, you would swear it contains alcohol (it doesn't !) dense, moist and or so very moreish.

We've all experienced the guilt of overripe bananas sitting in the fruit bowl becoming progressively blacker and blacker, this recipe solves that dilemma. Based on a recipe by Smitten Kitchen this is an easy recipe and is an excellent way of using those manky bananas to their best effect.

What you need

  • 3 very ripe bananas - mashed
  • 1/2 cup butter (melted), or coconut oil. Cool slightly
  • 3/4 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp chocolate essence( I get mine from Bakery Bits)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1 cup plain flour (would probably work gluten free, but I haven't tested as yet)
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa (I always use Green and Blacks)
  • 1 pkt of dark chocolate chips / chunks
You will also require a 2lb loaf tin, oil sprayed and base lined. I prefer to use loaf tin liners

What you do
  • Pre heat your oven to 180c
  • Mix the mashed banana and butter, sugar and egg, essence in a large bowl or use a mixer.
  • Sieve in the flour, bicarb, cocoa and salt and fold until just mixed 
  • Stir in the chocolate chips and the scoop into your prepared tin
  • Level the top and place in the pre heated oven
  • Bake for 55 minutes or so until risen and tests cooked when a skewer inserted into the loaf shows its cooked through
  • Cool for 10 -15 minutes in the tin on a wire rack and then remove from tin and allow to cool fully.

We are linking up to several challenges this month

      We should Cocoa, theme this month is Anything Goes, hosted this month by Tin and Thyme.

            No waste food challenge hosted this month by Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

The Lancashire Cook Book - review and giveaway

Lancashire is a county famous for its warm and friendly welcome and now increasingly its amazing food. Meze publishing have worked with a range of chefs and food producers from across the county to compile a beautiful celebration of the amazing food that is available in my home county.

I am really lucky to have eaten at most of the venues and sampled the wares of most of  the producers and the book does a fab job showcasing the amazing array of produce that I am lucky to have on my doorstep. The compilers have also worked with and Hospitality Action, who both do great works , one is promoting visiting Lancashire (food being an important attraction) and the other working to support members of the hospitality industry who have fallen on hard times.

The eagerly awaited Lancashire Cook Book was released on June 23rd, brimming with recipes and stories from local heroes all sharing a passion for upholding Lancashire’s reputation for proper food.
This book will be number 12 in the series of regional ‘Get Stuck In’ guides by Meze Publishing, who were recently crowned Best Newcomer at the Independent Publishing Awards.

Award-winning Celebrity chef Andrew Nutter has written the foreword and his ethos sets the tone for Lancashire’s passion for first-rate local produce:
“There's never a dull moment in the life of a restaurateur but what excites me on a daily basis is the delivery of all the fabulous regional Lancashire produce - utterly inspirational - so check out the recipes"“I'm very proud to be part of the Lancashire Cook Book, firstly showcasing my flagship restaurant Nutters but secondly being able to share with you the birth of The Bird at Birtle my new gastro pub venture,” he says.
With his brill and wild garlic pesto recipe, Nutter shows how Lancashire is mixing up innovation with tradition in the most delicious way, and Preston City BID manager Mark Whittle shares his enthusiasm:
“Preston city centre has a vibrant and evolving restaurant scene; we are delighted that it has been recognised and showcased in this fantastic publication.”
BBC Radio 2’s Nigel Barden contributes his Jacob’s ladder recipe and Chadderton’s very own Simon Wood also features fresh from his 2015 MasterChef win and the release of his first book At Home with Simon Wood.
Lancashire’s independent food scene leaps off the page with entries from traditional pubs and fine dining restaurants including 2015 Good Hotel Guide’s ‘Editor’s Choice Award’ winner The Inn at Whitewell and the folks at The Catford Inn who landed themselves ‘Tourism Pub of the Year’ 2015.

Not to mention a plethora of local retailers throughout Saddleworth, Chorley, Bury and Clitheroe, such as Huntley’s Country Store whose very own Tom Wood won 2015 ‘Butcher of the Year’, the award winning Butlers Cheese and many more including Browns Butchers whose owner Chris Brown had this to say:
“At Browns we can’t wait for The Lancashire Cook Book to be released. We feel this is a wonderful stepping stone to the heart of Lancashire and what it truly offers. Being involved is a fabulous experience.”
Ian O’Reily at Gazegill Organic Farm feels just as passionate about the book’s release:
“We have always been passionate about local and sustainable food and to have this great cook book reinforces our love of local whilst highlighting the oasis that Lancashire is for food outlets and destinations, there can be few counties that can produce just about every ingredient you could wish for and at unbeatable quality.”

From Bashall Barn Farm Shop’s braised blade of beef to twice-cooked confit of duck with rabenda jus at Samlesbury Hall; Lancaster lemon tart at Barton Grange Garden Centre to blood orange cheesecake at The Yellow Tree Inn; The Lancashire Cook Book promises to deliver something for every palate.

The Lancashire Cook Book retails at just £14.95 and will be available soon in all of the businesses featured in the book as well as select local gift shops, book shops including Waterstones and online at

Just a couple of points to note Dukpond - Preston is now closed and The Yew Tree, Anglezarke is currently closed due to a fire. My only slight niggle with this gorgeous book is why when Lancashire has amazing new potatoes( in fact potatoes in general) do several recipes feature Jersey royals, which are good but not exactly local.

We are lucky enough to have one copy to giveaway to a lucky reader of this blog, your prize will be sent to you direct from Meze Publishing. Just enter via the rafflecopter link

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules for giveaway

We have one book to giveaway - , this can only be posted to UK addresses and will be sent direct from Meze Publishing.

Simply follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget above. 
To be in with a chance of winning you must complete ALL the required fields. 
All entries will be checked and verified before a winner is announced. 
You can increase your chances of winning by Tweeting on a daily basis. 
Rafflecopter will pick a random winner. 
The competition runs until the 31/07/16
If you win, you MUST send me your delivery details quickly and within 24 hours or the prize will be passed to the next person drawn. 

Please see the Terms and Conditions on the Rafflecopter widget for the rules and more information.

Some content and all photography supplied by Meze Publishing. Review copy was supplied free of charge from Meze, all thoughts, opinions are my own.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Lemonade scones

Lemonade scones, a slightly unusual recipe but a scone never the less and one that creates the prefect scone for afternoon tea in a flash. Scones in my humble opinion need to be fluffy and light and no so sweet as to be cloying when served with fruit jam, this scone has it all despite containing lemonade it fresh and light and slightly scented with lemon, a perfect accompaniment to a dollop of homemade jam.

The recipe only has three ingredients (if you use a self raising flour- 4 if you use plain and baking powder) and the science bit is that the fizzy acidic lemonade activates the baking powder in the flour to give a superior rise in the oven. And rise they do, they tower as long as you don't man handle the dough too much. Some recipes also use double cream, not something I normally have in the fridge so I use creme fraiche and it works perfectly.

What you need
  • 400g self raising flour
  • 175ml lemonade
  • 175ml creme fraiche
What you do
  • Pre heat the oven to 200c fan /220c non fan
  • Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, I use a stand mixer but you could knead together by hand
  • Turn out onto a floured surface and cut using a round cutter to desired size, I use about a 2 1/2" cutter 
  • Place on a lined baking tray and bake for approx 15 minutes until golden, the exact length of time will vary depending on the size of your scones
  • Cool on a wire rack and serve when cold with cream (clotted, double whipping , your choice) and homemade jam, curd or honey.
I have also made these scones with gluten free flour (my own mix) and they work fine, they obviously don't rise as much but they are still very tasty, more of a scone meets shortcake, they could also be made dairy free if you can get hold of a dairy free cream substitute, its already egg free so very allergy friendly all round.

Gluten free version 
I recently discovered  a half used bottle of lemonade in the back of a cupboard, past its best before date but still fizzy so  that what I used in this recipe and they turned out fine. So I am going to use this post as my link up to Credit Crunch Munch this month.

                                         Credit Crunch Munch - Fab Fod 4 All

Credit Crunch Munch is a blogger challenge created and hosted by Fab Food 4 all and Fuss Free Flavours.
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