Sunday, 29 December 2013


Looking for rock hard biscuits that have a 70% chance of breaking your teeth?

Look no further...

The wonderfully crunchy Italian biscotti are perfect for adding to Christmas hampers.

Meant to be dunked in a good strong coffee (definitely advised to avoid dental costs), these biscuits are special in their own right, yet surprisingly easy to make.

I made two variations for hampers this Christmas using my usual biscotti recipe.

Chocolate and Pistachio Biscotti

Add 15g of Cocoa Powder, 100g of good quality chopped Dark Chocolate and 50g of Pistachio Nuts to this recipe.

Winter Spiced Fruit and Nut Biscotti

Add 1tsp of Mixed Spice, 1tsp of Cinnamon, 1tsp of Ginger, 60g of Dried Fruit (I used Cranberries and Raisins) and 40g of Chopped Nuts to this recipe.

Sunday, 20 October 2013


A healthyish take on the perfect cake for your cup of tea.
A loaf cake with texture, flavour and bite.
Ideal on it's own or slathered with a generous serving of your favourite jam. 



150g Butter/Margarine
175g Caster Sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2tsps Vanilla Essence
140g Self-Raising Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
50g Dessicated Coconut
25g Oats
100ml Creme Fraiche (I used Half Fat)

Crumb Topping:
2tbsps Oats
2tbps Coconut
2tbsps Demerera Sugar


1.  Heat your oven to 180ºC and line a 2lb loaf tin with butter and greasproof paper.

2.  Cream together the butter and the sugar until creamy and fluffy and light in colour - It's quicker and easier to do this with an electric hand whisk.

3.  Add the vanilla essence and eggs and whisk or beat until combined,

4.  Add the desiccated coconut, oats, self raising flour and baking powder to the wet mixture and beat until combined. Add the creme fraiche to the mixture and if it still feels like the batter is too heavy then add milk until it loosens.

5. Place the cake mixtures into the lined cake tin and then scatter evenly with the crumb topping mixture.

6. Place on the middle shelf of your pre-heated oven for 40-50 minutes until baked.
Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes before removing from the tin.

Sunday, 29 September 2013


Upon hearing the news of having four very hungry boys coming to stay with me last week, I knew that they would be expecting cake. As my sole cake tasters throughout university, I knew I would need to wow them with something new, so I had a dig through the cupboards to see what I could conjure up.

I decided to go on a mix of my coconut and raspberry loaf cake with my fruity bakewell sponge. The result turned out to be a delightfully moist and fluffy coconut, almond and jam sponge!


225g Butter (or Soft Margarine)
225g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
200g Self-Raising Flour
50g Dessicated Coconut
1 1/2tsp Baking Powder
2-4tbsps Milk (Only if needed to loosen the dough)
6-8tsbs of Jam (Whichever you fancy)
3-4tbsps of Flaked Almonds

1.  Heat your oven to 180ºC and line a loose-bottomed cake tin with baking paper.

2.  Cream together the butter and the sugar until creamy and fluffy and light in colour - I recommend doing this with an electric hand whisk.

3.  Add the vanilla essence and eggs and whisk or beat until combined,

4.  Add the desiccated coconut, self raising flour and baking powder to the wet mixture and beat until combined. If you're mixture feels to heavy then add 2-4 tbps of milk to the mixture to loosen the batter.

5. Place half your batter in the lined cake tin and then dot your jam all around this layer. Follow by covering this with the left of the cake batter and then sprinkle with flaked almonds

6. Place on the middle shelf of your pre-heated oven for 45-55 minutes (use a skewer or something similar to test). Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes before removing from the tin and then dust with icing sugar to serve.

Thursday, 5 September 2013


One of the most exciting things to stumble across in my veg box from Whiteley's Farm in Pudsey (courtesy of the lovely Millies! - see previous post HERE) was a bulb of delightfully potent smoked garlic. I had never come across the stuff before and was extremely excited to experiment with it. What better than to incorporate it into one of my favourite bread recipes? The trusty soda bread...

(See HERE and HERE for previous Soda Bread recipes).

Ladened with an abundance of beautifully green and fresh flat-leaf parsley, I used this as the complimenting herb in my soda bread. It's flavour really pays homage to the smoky taste of the garlic and adds a nice clean seasonal kick to the bread. Ideally though you can use a handful or two of any fresh herbs in this recipe, depending on what you have to hand or as to your preference of taste.

Smoked Garlic Soda Bread

150g Plain Flour
150g Wholemeal Flour
1 1/2tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
Pinch of Salt
250ml Buttermilk
4-6 Cloves of Smoked Garlic (Depending on how intense you want the flavour!)
1-2 handfuls of Freshly Chopped Herbs


1.  Heat your oven to 200ºC and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2.  Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and the salt.

3.  Crush the cloves of smoked garlic and chop the herbs and add this to the mixture.

4.  Add the buttermilk to the dry ingredients to form a dough and knead gently, forming the dough into a ball.

5.  Place the ball of dough onto the baking paper and then with a sharp knife, cut a cross in the top of the dough about an inch deep. Sprinkle with flour and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

Monday, 2 September 2013


It's September! Yes. For me that means Autumn is officially on it's way.
Even though we're only into day two there is definitely a cooler wind breezing about in Leeds and I love it.

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be given a veg box from the lovely local Whiteley's Farm in Pudsey. Thank you to Millies in town for providing me with the box and asking me to test out some wonderful local produce to experiment with in the kitchen. Amongst my box of wonders, including smoked garlic, romanesco broccoli, kale and flat-leaf parsley were three magnificent sticks of rhubarb.

I jumped at the chance to try out a crumble cake. A three layer wonder... something I see quite often on blogs and has always caught my eye. It's perfect for this overlap period between the last Summer days and early Autumn. In a month or so it will be proper crumbles all the way but for now in cake form it does the trick!

Rhubarb Crumble Cake

175g Butter
175g Caster Sugar
3 Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Essence
175g Self-Raising Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
1-2tbsps Milk (Only if needed to loosen the batter)

2 large sticks of Rhubarb
4tbsp Granulated Sugar

130g Butter
100g Plain Flour
30g Oatbran
3tbsp Demerera Sugar
1tsp Mixed Spice
1tsp Cinnamon
1tsp Baking Powder


1. Preheat your oven to 180 and line a 24" loose bottomed cake tin with butter and baking parchment.

2. Chop the rhubarb into inch thick slices and coat in the granulated sugar and leave to one side.

3. Now for the sponge. Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light, fluffy and pale in colour. Add the eggs and vanilla essence and continue to mix together. Fold in the flour and baking powder until all ingredients are combined into a smooth batter. If your batter is too thick then you can add some milk to loosen the mixture.

4. Spoon the cake batter into the cake tin making a nice even layer. Assemble the sugar coated rhubarb in another layer on top.

5. For the crumble topping, place all ingredients in a bowl and rub together the dry ingredients with the butter until you have a mixture that resembles bread crumbs. Place this mixture on top of the cake.

6. Bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 40-50 minutes or until baked (you can test this by inserting a skewer into the cake - if it comes out clean then the cake is baked).

7.  Lovely served warm with lashings of custard, or just on it's own cold with a good cup of Yorkshire tea!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Earlier this month, Leeds witnessed an array of grey cakes taking over the Corn Exchange in the form of a pop up shop devoted to raising mental health awareness.

The Depressed Cake Shop, as mentioned in my previous post HERE, was part of a global network of shops, founded by Miss Cakehead, aiming to sell grey coloured cakes to raise awareness of mental health issues and provide a platform for discussion.

I played event organiser for the Leeds pop up and could not have even predicted that it would have been successful as it was. With over fifteen bakers donating cakes throughout the day there was a fantastic range and variety of cakes to keep the public happy and intrigued.

We raised £536.74 from selling grey cakes, a silent auction for a picture and from external donations with all funds going to two very worth local mental health charities, Inkwell and Dial House.

I would just like to say a massive thank you to all those who participated with the event, whether it be through baking cakes, promoting the event, eating our delicious grey baked goods or through kind and generous external donations.

Photos: Mark Murphy

Sunday, 4 August 2013


A few weeks back I had the exciting ordeal of making a cake one of my much-loved lemon and poppy seed polenta cake's to be sent down to Duke Studios in Leeds for a fancy photo shoot to be featured in the August edition of the brand new and fabulous online culinary journal Food&_.
....the actual feature is listed HERE and below you can see the recipe for a delightfully moist gluten free lemon drizzle cake!
200g Unsalted Butter
200g Ground Almonds
100g Polenta
2tsp Baking Powder (Gluten-free if this is for wheat or gluten intolerant people)
50g Poppy Seeds
2 Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Essence
3tbsp Plain Yoghurt
2tbsp Lemon Juice
2-3tbsp Milk
Zest of 3 Lemons

Crunchy Lemon Glaze:
Juice of 3 Lemons
130g Icing Sugar
50g Granulated Sugar

Lemon Icing:
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
115g Icing Sugar
Poppy Seeds and Lemon Zest to Sprinkle on top of the Icing

1.  Line and grease a 9" springform cake tin with baking parchment and butter and then pre-heat your oven to 180°C.

2.  Cream the butter and sugar together with a hand mixer or standing mixer until light and fluffy and pale in colour.

3.  Add the eggs and the vanilla essence to the butter and sugar.

4.  Weight out the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder and poppy seeds and fold into the wet mixture.

5.  At this point fold in the lemon zest, lemon juice and yoghurt. Mix it until it is all evenly combined. If the mixture feels quite stiff then add between 1-3tbsp of milk to loosen it.

6.  Place the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes until firm in the middle.

7.  Whilst the cake is still in the oven, prepare the crunchy lemon glaze mixture. Once the cake is removed from the oven, whilst still hot, prick the cke several times with a skewer and top with the crunchy lemon glaze using a pastry brush or pallet knife.

8. Leave to cool and refrigerate over night. Before serving top with the lemon icing and top with poppy seeds and lemon zest.

Photography and Styling: Jonathan Finch and Katy Lanceley

Thursday, 1 August 2013


I've been super busy with any spare time organising The Depressed Cake Shop pop up event for Leeds which will take place this Sunday 4th August from 10.30-4pm at the Leeds Corn Exchange.

The Depressed Cake Shop is part of a global network of shops, founded by Miss Cakehead, selling grey coloured cakes and cakes which represent mood to raise awareness of mental health issues and provide a platform for discussion.

One in four people will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives, a key theme will be also be reflected in many of the cakes designs.

The symptoms of depression can be complex – and vary widely – and so will the cakes on sale, many aiming to visually represent mental illness. This will be a cake shop like nothing else seen before, the grey sad looking but delicious tasting cakes powerfully demonstrating the effects of depression.

Cakes on sale at the Leeds Corn Exchange will include cakes and baked goods fitting within the theme, baked by over fifteen local bakers, both professional and non-professional taking part in the event. 100% of sales from each and every cake will be donated to Inkwell and Dial House, two very important and worthy mental health charities within Leeds.

Many of our cakes will also be made by those with personal experiences of depression, using baking as a way of expressing their struggles with, and experiences of, the illness. 

For more information on the event please see below:

It would be great to have your support - See you Sunday!

Thursday, 18 July 2013


Last Friday saw the launch of the brand new culinary resource and online journal FOOD&_.

I knew it would be impressive with such a great team working towards the launch.
A Leeds-based initative too, this is something close to home and absolutely lovely to see.

You can check out the website here, which hosts features, photo essays and recipes from all interesting avenues from various destinations all over the world.

I was lucky enough to attend the secret gathering launch party they put on last Saturday, styled and hosted by the brilliant Lord Whitney in their Leeds studio. Food and booze courtesy of the local lovelies Friends of Ham and Leeds Bread Co-op, I was spoilt rotten! Pictures are shown below.

Thanks for having me Food&_ and I look forward to your next series of features and perhaps a future collaboration!

Styling: Lord Whitney

Sunday, 19 May 2013



A Jamaican ginger bread loaf never lasts very long when I'm around so I thought I'd attempt to make my own. What better though than to put a Northern twang on it by making a batch of Yorkshire's very own Parkin. Parkin is made with treacle and oatmeal, giving it its own special flavour. I however did not have any oatmeal in so I used a mix of oats and oatbran for more texture. As always I like to add my own little twist to my cakes and decided to add some marmalade to the cake and to also add a generous glaze of sticky and syrupy marmalade on top. Extra YUM!



125g Golden Syrup
100g Treacle
2tbsp Marmalade
100g Soft Brown Sugar
190g Plain Flour
1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
2tsp Ground Ginger
1tsp Cinnamon or Mixed Spice
100g Butter
200g of Medium Oatmeal/Oats/Oatbran
1 Egg
1tsp Vanilla Essence
100ml Milk

Sticky Topping:
2tbsp Marmalade
2tbsp Golden Syrup
1tbsp Treacle
2tbsp Icing Sugar


1. Preheat your oven to 170 and grease and line a square or rectangular deep cake tin.

2. Place the syrup, treacle, marmalade and sugar into a pan on a low heat until melted. Leave to cool.

3. In a bowl, sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon/mixed spice and then rub the butter into the mixture. Stir the oatmeal into the mixture. Add the melted ingredients, the egg and the milk and stir until combined.

4. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and place on the middle shelf of your oven to bake for 50-60 minutes.

5. When the cake is baked. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Place all the ingredients for the sticky topping into a pan and warm on a low heat. When the mixture thickens, remove from the heat and brush all over the exposed surface areas of the cake. Leave to set before eating.

* Did you know that Parkin tastes better the longer you leave it?
3-4 days stored in an air tight container is the recommended storage time before eating but I bet you'll struggle to even keep it for a day!

Sunday, 12 May 2013


So for most of us university students, exams are already underway or will be upon us by the end of the month.

This time of year can get a bit crazy for us, the pressure of exams approaches and creeps up on you out of nowhere and all of a sudden your mind is awashed with an anxiety that just won't let you be. As a result, we end up living in the library, fueling ourselves off endless coffees and energy drinks, working til 4 or 5 in the morning and forgetting what it looks like to live a normal daily schedule.

It's not too late to get on top of things. For those of you in need... I give you my last minute and exam-week guide for getting by without having a breakdown...


#1   Organise what you have left of your revision time.  A timetable is great for this and can help you to track and monitor your progress. You should aim to do at least 5 to 6 hours per day of revision during the exam period, and if possible to do more. Try to figure out when you are at your most productive peak and slot in to revise around those times. 

#2   Avoid distractions - procrastination is inevitable but it's always best if you 'allow' for procrastination time within your day. Disconnect yourself from the internet for the time limit of your work, don't work in the library if you know it's just a social hub where all your friends will be, etc.

#3   Believe in yourself. This is key. If you know you have done the work to get the mark you deserve then you should have all faith in yourself. No one is perfect and you can only do the best that you can do.

#4   Avoid panic and placing exams out of perspective. A great tip for this is to practice mindfulness (you can view my previous blog post on this HERE) and to give yourself 'time out' where you can relax and rebuild your energy. Make sure you allow enough time for sleep too, eight hours as a minimum is essential for productive functioning.

#5   Eat well and avoid overloading on caffeine - Coffee, tea and energy drinks are all helpful in some respect but they should not become the staples of your diet. Incorporate healthy complex carbohydrates with iron-rich vegetables and good sources of protein in each meal. Eat reguarly and healthily to maintain motivation and brain power and to keep your physical and mental health working at its optimum. Be sure to keep yourself hydrated by drinking water throughout the day and if possible try to get 20 minutes of physical activity (it doesn't have to be a gym workout... a brisk walk home is fine!) into your day as well.

Saturday, 11 May 2013


Last month I received an email from MILLIES in Leeds last month asking me if I would be interested in a new project. Millies are a fab shop in the city centre which describes itself as a "fine food and local produce store". They sell locally sourced Yorkshire products and offer a wide range of interesting and delectable food stuffs (...just try their yogurt covered honeycomb  pieces and you'll see what I mean!).

Anyway - this project was to review or create recipes with some products that they were promoting or selling. First up a pot of sweet heat from the one and only THE CHILLI JAM MAN.

The Chilli Jam Man is a great little Yorkshire-based business, which has "spent years developing chilli jam recipes to tantalise and sate the tate buds". I chose to try out the extra hot (9.1% heat rating!) Bhut Jolokia Chilli Jam, which also happens to be one of the three vegetarian jams available within this range.

Upon the first little finger dip I was extremely surprised to finally find a "chilli" product that actually even I found very hot! It even gave me friend hiccups but this could have just been due to over excitement. Ha.
I instantly knew it would pair perfectly with a nice loaf of bread and an array of cheese, meats and pickles. So maverick me over here decided to put the Chilli Jam into one of my favourite bread recipes... the soda bread!

So here we have it...



200g Plain Flour
200g Wholemeal Flour
1 1/2 tsp of Bicarbonate of Soda
1/2 tsp of Salt
2-3 tbsps of Mixed Seeds (Optional)
280-300g of Buttermilk
As much of a jar of your favourite Chilli Jam that you can handle!

* Click HERE for the whole range of Jam's available from The Chilli Jam Man.


1.  Heat your oven to 200ºC and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2.  Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and the salt. At this point you can chuck in a few tablespoons of some mixed seeds, chopped nuts or any other dry ingredients of your preference.

3.  In a separate jug, mix the buttermilk with the Chilli Jam (I used about 2/3s of a pot) and then add this mixture to the dry ingredients to form a dough and knead gently, forming the dough into a ball.

3.  Place the ball of dough onto the baking paper and then with a sharp knife, cut a cross in the top of the dough about an inch deep. Sprinkle with flour and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes.


The outcome is a lovely doughy bread, quite hefty in consistency but one that can act as a suitable foundation for piling up with your favourite toppings. It packs just enough punch to give you that Chilli kick of the fiery Bhut Jolokia chilli and if it's not to your tasting you can add more or less of the pot of jam - but be warned, it's VERY hot!!

...and last but not least a MASSIVE THANK YOU to Millies and The Chilli Jam Man!