Low fat raisin and honey loaf

This is a very easy loaf to make.

300g plain flour
11/2 tspn bicarb. of soda
1/2 tspn salt
300g [10 fl oz] plain yoghurt
2 egg whites
60g raisins
2 tbspn runny honey
butter or margarine to grease the tin

Grease a 900g loaf tin.
Preheat oven 425F/210C/gas 7

Mix the flour, bicarb. and salt in a bowl. Whisk the egg whites with the yoghurt and fold into the flour.Add the raisins and honey.
Spoon into the tin and bake for 20 mins.
Cool in the tin.

This loaf has a nice light texture. I think it's better eaten warm.


Irish cream tartlets

And now for something completely different....!
This is another recipe to use up a Christmas leftover, but this time it's a small bottle of Baileys that we were given in a hamper.
We were invited for a meal to a friend's house last weekend and she'd asked me to bring something sweet to have with coffee after the meal. An unusual request, so I hunted through my cookbooks and eventually came up with these little tartlets.
I made some sweet pastry, but shortcrust would do as well. I used 175g flour etc. and this made 12 tartlets.

You need 12 little moulds or barquettes  - these are the ones I used. I bought them on a whim years ago and have never used them! I have 3 of each shape.

Line the greased moulds with the pastry and bake blind.

For the filling you need:

150g plain chocolate, melted
120ml milk
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp Baileys Irish liqueur
4 tbsp whipping cream, whipped

Chocolate shavings or cocoa to decorate.

Put the pastry shells on a baking sheet.
Brush the bottom of each shell with some melted chocolate.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the milk just to the boil.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar for about a minute, then stir in the flour. Add the hot milk, whisking all the time.
Put the pan back on the heat and cook till the custard thickens, about 2 mins, making sure you whisk all the time.
Take it off the heat and add the Baileys, then allow it to cool.
When cool, fold in the cream gently then put in the fridge till thickened - about half an hour.
Spoon the custard into a piping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle.
Pipe the mixture into the tartlet cases then put them in the fridge.
Decorate with a curl of dark chocolate.

They're rather fiiddly and time consuming, but they taste great. A special occasion recipe, but worth trying. Lovely texture to the custard, and it blends well with the cream topping.


Orange teabread

Another teabread to add to my collection - a Scandinavian one, or so I thought when I saw the name of the recipe, but it's more of a loaf cake .This comes from a book on baking I bought from a charity shop a while ago - it doesn't have an author - it's just called 'The Baking manual'.

150g butter
120g sugar
3 eggs
grated rind of 2 lemons
60ml orange juice
250g plain flour + 2 tspns baking powder
breadcrumbs to coat the tin
Fat to grease the cake tin.

You don't preheat the oven for this recipe - you put the cake mixture into a cold oven.
Grease a 900g loaf tin.

Beat the butter and sugar together till pale then add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each one.
Mix in the lemon rind, orange juice and the flour.
You sprinkle the breadcrumbs into the greased tin [ I didn't do this as I didn't want wholemeal crumbs around the cake]. The recipe didn't give an amount and I can't see any crumbs on the cake photo in the book. Seems a strange addition.
Pour the mixture into the tin and put into a cold oven then turn the oven onto 180C/gas 4.  Bake for about 45 mins.
The recipe says to turn the cake out and leave to cool under the upturned tin - not sure why?

It's a light, airy cake with a nice citrus flavour. You could ice it with an orange flavoured icing, but I kept it plain. It's good with a cup of tea, but I think it would make a nice dessert, with the addition of some fruit.


Macaroon mincemeat tarts

This recipe is another using up Christmas leftovers and this time it's some mincemeat. I wanted to make something different from mince pies and found this recipe in an old cookbook from the 70s. I'm not going to give the recipe for the shortcrust pastry - everyone has their own favourite one, or you can use Just Rol.

150g s/c pastry [that's 200g flour, 100g fat etc]
4 tbspns mincemeat
2 egg whites
75g caster sugar
75g ground almonds
15g flaked almonds
a few cherries cut in 1/4s

Preheat oven 190C/375F/gas 5

Grease a bun tin.

Roll out the pastry, cut out with a 8cm cutter and line your bun tin. [I cut out 10 cases]
Whisk the egg whites till stiff then fold in the sugar and the ground almonds.
Spoon some of the mixture on top of each tart then sprinkle with some flaked almonds. Put a piece of cherry in the middle.
Bake for about 20 mins, or until golden.

The topping is a good contrast to the soft mincemeat. A recipe to keep.


Almond thins

I had some marzipan left over from Christmas so decided to make some of these biscuits. They're fairly easy to make, have few ingredients and are delicious [but not healthy!]. The recipe is one I've used many times, and was in a free booklet that came with a Prima magazine, I think.

The recipe makes about 10 biscuits.

250g butter
100g marzipan
100g demerara sugar + little extra for sprinkling on top
250g plain flour

Preheat oven 180C/350F/gas4
Grease a baking sheet.

In a bowl, cream the butter using a mixer with a doughhook [I have a hand mixer which came with dough hooks, so I use this]. Mix in the marzipan and gradually add the sugar and flour, kneading the mixture well.

Make the dough into a roll and put in the fridge for 2-3 hours. Then roll the dough out till it's about 15mm thick, then cut it into strips 15mm x 6 cm and put these back into the fridge for 30 mins.

Put the biscuits onto your baking sheet. Makes grooves in each one using a fork, and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for 25 -30 mins.


Coconut ice and yogurt pecan fudge

One of the presents I got for Christmas was a new sugar thermometer. Ever since I was a child,  I've been interested in making sweets. My Mum used to make them, and I inherited her old thermometer. I also inherited her book 'Toffees, fudges, chocolates and sweets' by Mary Novak, and I have a battered copy of Margaret Powell's ' Sweetmaking for children'. I made sweets with my children and yesterday I made some with one of my grandsons. We made coconut ice and he helped me make yogurt pecan fudge, the latter being an excuse to use my new thermometer!

Coconut ice

My grandson wanted to make something on his own, so this is a very easy version.

6 tbspns condensed milk
275g icing sugar
175g dessicated coconut
pink food colouring

Mix together the milk and icing sugar, then stir in the coconut. The mixture will be very stiff. Divide it into 2. Colour one half with the colouring.

Grease and line a small cake tin, and put the white mixture in a layer at the bottom. Put the pink mixture on top and leave to set. Cut into bars or squares.

Yogurt pecan fudge

This fudge is different from the normal vanilla fudge; it's a bit fiddly to make but is very moreish.
The recipe makes about half a kilo of fudge.

225ml natural yoghurt [not low fat or Greek]
1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
400g soft light brown sugar
30ml golden syrup
60g unsalted butter
150g chopped and toasted pecans

Grease and line a 20cm square or round tin with parchment paper.
Put the yogurt and bicarb. in a heavy saucepan and leave for about 20 mins.
Prepare a bowl with iced water.
Add the sugar and syrup to the yoghurt mixture, put the pan over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
When the sugar's dissolved, bring to the boil then add the butter. Boil till the syrup reaches soft ball stage [114C/238F]. Take off the heat and dip ther bottom of ther pan in the iced water for a few seconds, then leave to cool till the mixture is luke warm [about 50C/122F].
Beat till creamy then add the chopped nuts. Pour into the tin and leave to completely cool - can take up to 8 hours.
Lift the fudge out using the paper and cut into pieces. Store in an airtight tin or box.

The yoghurt makes this a lighter fudge and gives it a tangy taste. Next time I'll use a square tin, as the slices I cut in the round one were rather big!

Next sweet session I want to try making toffee, so watch this space!

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