My baking has declined massively over the past few years. The almost weekly bakes of my early twenties have reduced to making cake for my colleagues on my birthday, plus a handful of ad hoc cakes. This year I wasn’t feeling massively inspired. After looking through my ‘recipes’ Pinterest boards and rejecting most of the items, I settled on the Ultimate Vanilla cupcakes from the Cupcake Project, which I was super into about five years ago. I absolutely love their Ultimate Chocolate cupcakes.
Because the batter is very liquid, the sugar dissolved too quickly and did not produce the little neon flecks I had hoped for amongst the black-speckled vanilla cake. I also used coconut oil instead of vegetable, which was fine apart from the fact that I didn’t melt it fully. I knew the batter was too lumpy, but I couldn’t be bothered to get out my hand blender and blitz it. Mistake.
Overall, I probably would give these cupcakes a second chance. While I liked the Ultimate Vanilla Frosting (basically buttercream) from the same site, I don’t think it paired especially well with the UV cupcake. It’s just sweet on sweet. I think you need a bit of a contrasting flavour in there for balance.
My friend Anna gave me some very exciting National Trust spreads for my birthday, and I can see these being incorporated into bakes soon. If only to stop me from eating both jars by the spoonful.
I’m on a bit of a kick of making brunch at home at the moment. This is another recipe from Jamie’s Superfood, and I have to say that I really like it. It’s also a great way to use up stale bread. I used tiger bread.
I made few changes to the recipe. I used frozen blackberries rather than raspberries. I left them to defrost in the fridge overnight, sprinkled with a tablespoon of sugar. This makes the dish taste a little like blackberry pie, a specialty of my late grandma made with berries foraged every autumn.
I added a little squeeze of honey to the banana and egg ‘custard’. Because this is a diet/clean eating show (despite Jamie’s vehement protestations to the contrary), it is light on sweetness. I would rather have 50 extra calories and find a dish delicious,than 50 fewer and find it just okay.
I’ve tried two-ingredient pancakes before and found that they just taste like eggy banana. I think the combination of blitzing the mix, which means the eggs go lovely and fluffy, and having it with something makes a huge difference. I also used the full banana and two eggs to serve one, as I’m trying to get more protein in my diet.
Top tip: don’t use a knife to make the pocket in the bread as Jamie suggests. Maybe this works if you have super sharp chef knives and very fresh bread. I found that it ripped my slice into bread shreds. Scissors work much better.
I spotted this recipe on the Instagram feed of a yoga studio I frequented when I lived in west London. I was in the throes of the ‘new year, new you’ thing, so I decided to make it. Here’s how it turned out.
To be honest I don’t think I’d make this again unless I was baking for someone with specific dietary requirements. While it’s perfectly nice, it’s still quite high in calories, and I prefer my sweets to be a bit naughtier than this. If I did bake this recipe again, I would probably throw in some chopped pecans or walnuts to add to the texture.
As always, I came back from holiday wanting to cook and eat fresh, healthy food. I briefly considered doing Veganuary, but then I remembered that I will be going out to eat quite a bit in January, and I don’t like to be limited on food choices in restaurants. I will probably try going vegan for a week at some point instead.
I had been watching Jamie Oliver’s Superfood on Channel 4 and, despite my many annoyances with the show, pinned a few of the recipes that looked nicest and easiest. This is Jamie’s butternut squash daal with fried eggs.
I made a few changes. Morrison’s didn’t sell curry leaves or black mustard seeds, and they were out of coriander.
For the temper, I used garlic and chilli as specified, 1tsp English mustard, 2tsp cumin seeds and 2tsp coriander seeds. I omitted the coriander altogether. I used sweet chilli sauce in the yoghurt instead of coriander leaves, but in future I won’t bother with the yoghurt bit at all as I don’t think it adds to the dish. I also didn’t bother with the poppadoms. Instead, I served with a bigger salad and roasted cherry tomatoes.
I got seven servings from the recipe. When I take this to work, I heat up the daal in the microwave. I fry the eggs four at a time and keep two each in separate plastic containers. I only cook the eggs for about 2-3 minutes, then heat for a minute in the microwave at work. This is also the method I use when I take nasi goreng to work, and I haven’t got salmonella yet (touch wood). I also take the salad separately.
There’s nothing that makes you feel warm towards your colleagues like going on holiday for an extended period! Since I’m about to go away, I decided to bake for the last team meeting of the year, and I’ve had these chocolate and cream cheese cupcakes pinned for a while. I believe the non-PC term for these is black bottom cakes, but I decided against mentioning that in the office.
The recipe is available here. I did enjoy these cupcakes, but I found the eggless chocolate sponge a little dry and uninspiring. I DID like how easy it was to have two contrasting flavours and textures- much easier than faffing around with frosting. The little pops from the chocolate chips were lovely too. If I made these again, I would probably swap out another recipe (maybe the ultimate chocolate cupcake?) for the bottom part. However, if you’re after a quick recipe using mostly things that will always be in the store cupboard, this is a good’un.
I had enough batter for 24 mini cupcakes and four or five full-sized ones.
I try to eat well, and a big part of that is healthy snacks. I eat quite a lot of Nakd bars, and always wondered how easy it would be to make them at home. I recently tried out Deliciously Ella’s new range of energy balls, which are very tasty but also pretty expensive. I’m sure she already has a recipe online somewhere, but I just looked at the ingredients on the back and made up my own.
- 40g almonds
- 60g dates
- 2tsp nut butter
- 1/2tsp coconut oil
- 1tbsp cocoa powder
- A sprinkle of salt
Blend all the ingredients together. I just used my little hand blender.
After a while, the ingredients will start to come together.
Roll into balls. I added a little too much coconut oil, making them a bit shiny. They probably would have re-mattified once the warmth from my hands dissipated, but I decided to roll them in some cocoa powder. I was trying to trick myself into believing I am eating truffles.
This was so quick and easy! The texture is somewhere between a Nakd bar, some varieties of which have bits, and a smooth Ella ball. My little blender wasn’t able to make the nuts totally smooth. I think the taste is lovely too. I’ll definitely try out more varieties in future.