Date, Apricot and Brazil Loaf Cake

This cake is another result of a baking cupboard sort out. I had some brazils, apricots and dates to use up, but not enough of each to use on their own. I love loaf cakes, and just took out the mixed dried fruit from the recipe I usually use in this cake, and added my store cupboard finds.

140g soft margarine
2 large eggs
250g self raising flour
60ml milk
140g caster sugar – reserve 1-2tbspn for cake topping
125g each of dried apricots and pitted dates - each piece cut into 3
65g chopped brazil nuts
1 level tspn mixed spice 
  Preheat oven 150C/Gas 2  Grease and line a 900g loaf tin. 
 Cream margarine and sugar together until soft and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs to the mixture a little at a time and one by one, mixing well . 
Put the fruit and nuts into a bowl and add 2 or 3 tbspn of the flour to coat the fruit and nuts. Sieve the rest of the flour and the mixed spice into the cake mixture.  Fold the fruit and nuts into the mixture as well. Add the milk and gently mix in.
Spoon into the tin and smooth the top then sprinkle over the reserved sugar.

A good cake for afternoon tea with a cuppa. Nice chunks of fruit and nuts, and a soft texture to the cake.

Raspberry and Chocolate Cake

My daughter loves dark chocolate and raspberries, and as she was coming up for the weekend, I found this recipe in my scrapbook which was perfect for her.

I know raspberries aren't in season, and I know you could use frozen ones, but I found some at a reasonable price in my local market.

For the cake you need: 

250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
200g butter
1 tspn instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tbspn hot water
5 eggs
100g caster sugar
75g plain flour
100g raspberries 

Preheat oven 170C/gas3                    Grease and line a 20cm springform tin

In a saucepan, put the chocolate, butter and coffee and heat over a low heat till melted and glossy.
In  a bowl beat the eggs till pale and fluffy.  Pour in the chocolate mixture, add the flour and fold together gently.
Pour this batter into the tin and sprinkle the raspberries over the top. Bake for about 40 mins till the cake is firm.

This cake is good with a cuppa, but also makes a nice dessert. It's very rich and 'chocolatey', so a small slice is enough! It's good hot or cold. I like the contrast between the squidgy cake and the soft raspberries.

Lovely eaten warm or cold!


Chicken and Leek Pie

As it's National Pie Week, I thought I'd post a pie recipe that's one of my family's favourites.

The leeks are a belated homage to St David's Day [I did make Welsh cakes and have daffodils!]. It's an easy pie to make as you use ready made puff pastry. 

So for 6 people you need: 

2 tbspn oil - I used rapeseed
6 skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes
2 medium leeks - sliced
4 tbspn white wine [opt]
15g butter
1 tbspn plain flour
750ml milk
1 chicken stock cube
s & p
500g butter puff pastry
1 egg to brush top of pie

Preheat oven 200C/gas6           23 x30 cm pie dish

Heat 1 tbspn of the oil in a pan and add the chicken. Brown all over then take out.
Add the other tbspn of oil [and the wine if you're using it] and then cook the leeks till tender [and the wine has evaporated].
Melt the butter in another pan then stir in the flour to make a paste. Add the milk a bit at a time, stirring continuously till the sauce gets thicker.
Add the chicken and leeks to the sauce, crumble in the stock cube or add a Knorr chicken stock pot and season with the s& p. Cover and simmer for about 10 mins over a low heat.
Roll out the puff pastry and line a 23 x30 cm tin, keeping pastry back for the top.
Spoon the filling into the tin and cover with the rest of the pastry. 
Bake for about 15-20 mins till the pastry has risen and is golden.

I used my favourite enamel pie dish. You could add herbs to the chicken and leeks, or sliced mushrooms, but we like it as in the above recipe. It's tasty, and there's a good contrast between the creamy filling and the crunchy pastry.

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