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Sticky Apple-filled Cinnamon Buns

“My Anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hon…”
Easy Apple Cinnamon Buns - The Cardiff Cwtch

So, I’ve gotten a bit obsessed with Conspiracy Theory Podcasts. I know, I know! See, my favourite women’s history podcast (Queens, in case you’re wondering – it’s completely brilliant) is kind of between episodes at the moment and so I went hunting for something else to listen to on the morning dog walk (read: muddy trudge in the drizzle to the local park). I found an episode about Amelia Earhart and conspiracy theories concerning her disappearance (THE WOMAN JUST VANISHED) and woops! I kind of fell down a hole. But you know what? They’re kind of perfect listening for gloomy Autumn days and even darker nights in. A bit of history, a lot of mystery… and, sometimes – yeah – a heavy helping of nonsense.

But what do Conspiracy Theory Podcasts have to do Cinnamon Buns, I hear you asking. Absolutely nothing. Except for the fact that they seem to be soundtracking most of my cooking and baking at the moment. For example, as I was baking these very sticky buns the other day, I was listening to a couple of episodes talking about how the Sugar Industry for a long time secretly fiddled scientific studies to throw the blame on fat for Heart Disease instead of sugar. If you’ve got any recommendations on podcasts, I’d love to hear them; I’m always looking for something new to listen to in between episodes of The High Low and Queens. 🙂

Anyway, Cinnamon Buns! I mentioned last week that I’m a big fan of sticky buns in all their forms, but the cinnamon variety are a favourite of mine – especially this time of year. I usually pick up one on my weekly shop as a treat to scoff with a cup of tea when I get back, but I hadn’t quite cracked making them myself. Historically, I’m not the best at baking bread; I’m impatient when it comes to kneading the dough, and even though I’ve got a bread maker to do all the hard work for me – the instant yeast it requires never really creates the pillow-soft dough I’m after. Then last year I started experimenting with Dried Active Yeast and had a bit of a breakthrough on the whole process of making homemade bread when I made this Halloumi Loaf (HEAVEN). Having got the knack of kneading and proving, I moved straight on to buns and finally managed to put together an easy Cinnamon Bun recipe that worked (thanks to The Guardian Food How-To section – always a great place to start when you’re looking to develop your own twist on a classic recipe). A sweet, springy dough perfect for rolling around the sticky cinnamon filling. These doughy buns however, are a little bit extra thanks to the added apple – an easy addition that gives the buns a little something special. Top with whatever topping you fancy – whether that’s cream cheese frosting, sugar glaze, or the cinnamon-spiced icing I went for here – and scoff ideally within a couple of days. As with most homemade bakes, they’re best scoffed fresh out of the oven. 🙂

Apple filled Cinnamon Rolls easy - The Cardiff Cwtch

Sticky Apple-filled Cinnamon Buns

Sticky, doughy and full of cinnamon-spiced apple pie filling. What’s not to like?
Ingredients
  •  3 apples (any variety you fancy)
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 300 ml whole milk
  • 15g dried active yeast
  • 50g melted butter (cooled)
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 420g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Pie Filling - The Cardiff Cwtch
Method
  1. First things first, make the filling. Peel and finely chop the apples – then boil them in water for about 20 minutes, until they’re soft. Get rid of the water, then mash them. Stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon, then set aside and leave to cool.
  2. Gently bring the milk to the boil with the ground cardamom. Pour into a mixing bowl, leave it to cool slightly (down to about 37°C) and then sprinkle in the yeast. Put the bowl somewhere warm (I like to pop mine in the airing cupboard!) until the yeast has dissolved and activated (you should see some bubbles or foam forming over the surface of the milk).
  3. Next, stir in the melted butter, sugar and egg.
  4. Gradually pour in the flour and salt, mixing together to make a sticky dough.
  5. Next, knead the dough. If you’ve got a fancy dough hook on your mixer, use that – if not, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves to get to work. I don’t like to add anymore flour, so the dough will be really sticky and impossible to work with at first – but stick at it (stick being the operative word!) and slowly everything will come together to create a smooth, pliable, stretchy dough.
  6. Pop it into a clean, lightly-greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and then leave the dough to double in size in a warm place for about an hour.
  7. Set the oven to 200°C.
  8. Next, roll out the dough into a rectangle about a centimetre thick – then spread with the apple filling. Roll it tightly into a sausage shape, then cut into six equally sized buns. Place the buns into a lined, deep baking tray. Bake for 25 minutes until well-risen and golden, then leave to cool.
  9. Top with cream cheese frosting or icing, then scoff! 🙂
Easy Cinnamon Bun Recipe with Apple Filling - The Cardiff Cwtch

Happy Friday everyone! 💛

Laundry Room Makeover

Spaghetti Stain Removals, but make it stylish…
Laundry Room Makeover - The Cardiff Cwtch

Well hey, it’s been a long time since I’ve done an interiors post here on the blog. A looooong time. What can I say? We got a bit… lazy. You know how it goes, you move into a new house, embark on a sort of decorating blitzkrieg – hitting one room after the next – and then you sit on it and enjoy it for a while… and then bam! Two years fly by, everything goes a bit stale and there’s still a massive hole in the wall where your puppy (who’s now no longer a puppy) charged into it at full-zoomies miles per hour (it’s on the to-do list, okay?). When we first moved in, there were rooms that we didn’t really feel the need to decorate, and so we kind of just accepted them for how they were and let them just… be for a while. Now they’re looking a bit stale and a bit boring compared to the rest of the house, and so when Sunny and I got back from Florida we made a new decorating to-do list and decided on a few rooms that we fancied giving a bit of a makeover. 🙂

Our Utility Room (/ Laundry Room / Mud Room) is straight off the kitchen and even though we use it every single day as access to our back garden, for washing clothes and sorting out Bungle when he’s come in from a muddy walk – it’s been looking more than a bit neglected. When Bungle entered our lives almost three years ago, it immediately became his space. It became his everything room, from his bed and dining room, to – oh yes – his toilet (before we finally nailed the toilet training – phew!) – and as a result the whole room started to look a bit bruised and battered. The floor was grubby, the skirting boards were muddy and the walls especially were in a right state; when Bungle learned how to open doors, he started clawing at the wall. The room literally went to the dogs (or rather, dog). Now that he’s (mostly) better behaved, we decided to give the room a fresh coat of paint and turn it from purely functional, to pretty damn snazzy!

Utility Room Makeover - The Cardiff CwtchLaundry Room Accessories - The Cardiff Cwtch

We had these large, grey metro tiles from Tops Tiles put in about a year ago when we tiled the kitchen, and I absolutely love them! They match perfectly with the grey work surface we chose when we first moved in, and look great next to the brand new (very moody) wall colour. We knew we wanted to go grey, but didn’t really anticipate going as dark as we did! The shade is called Sooty Lashes (I love it! Who comes up with paint names? What a job!) and is by Valspar at B&Q.  The pictures are actually really, really old; we bought them for the kitchen in our first flat in London and they had to come with us when we moved.  They’ll always remind me of that pokey little kitchen overlooking the muddy Thames. 🙂

I picked up the washing powder jar from IKEA’s 365 Kitchen Storage Range. Before we were using a plain plastic tupperware pot which not only looked a bit naff, but was really messy. Now I can actually keep my washing powder and liquid out on the surface for easy access!

Mud Room Dog Bed - The Cardiff CwtchLaundry Room Dog Bed

Even though Bungle sleeps upstairs on our bed now, the Utility Room is still his bedroom really, and he does like to trot off and take a nap there with “Bald Lion” (his favourite toy) whenever he’s feeling a bit antisocial or nervous. It’s his “safe space”. The gap under the counter is actually for a Tumble Dryer, but – since we don’t own one – it’s the perfect place for Bungle’s dog bed and blanket. I’ve got a basket on the counter piled with fresh blankets and towels that are just for him and are easy to access whenever we need to wipe off his muddy paws. The rug (old, from H&M Home) gives the floor a little bit more protection and makes the room just a little bit cosier for him. 🙂

Utility Room Dog Bed - The Cardiff CwtchUtility Room Decor Ideas - The Cardiff CwtchMud Room Decor Ideas - The Cardiff Cwtch

What do you think? Sunny’s been saying for a while that we need to bite the bullet and get a tumble dryer – but I’m pushing back as hard as I can because I don’t want to turf Bungle out of his den! 🙂 Have a lovely week!

10 Autumn Bakes to try This Weekend

Ten banging bakes to fuel you through a soggy Sunday on the sofa…

Batter up! Because, is there anything better than a Baking Day? Don’t answer that; the truth is that most of the time there are plenty of things I’d rather be doing than holing up in the kitchen spilling flour all over the countertops. Autumn is the exception; as soon as those leaves start falling, it’s all I want to do. It’s probably down to the weather. I mean, we’ve swapped those long summer weekends spent out and about in beer gardens and on beaches, with cold and gloomy ones where staying in and dragging the duvet downstairs onto the sofa becomes the best offer on the table. And those are the weekends I’m living for right now. Marathon lie ins followed by lazy breakfasts (check out some of my favourite brunch recipes here) and a day spent pottering about the house. Slowly crossing things off the “To Do” list in between ticking things off the “To Watch” list and baking something sweet and satisfying to curl up with a cuppa and scoff later. 

I’ve done a bit of digging through the archives and picked out some of my favourite guaranteed cosy cakes, breads and bakes to make a list of 10 Autumn Baking Ideas that are perfect for one of those lazy Autumn weekends spent indoors. This one’s set to be a washout (again, ugh!), and so whether you’re planning on a full on Baking Day or just fancy passing the time with a bit of boredom baking, why not give one of these babies a try? 🙂

Orange and Nutella Babka

I’d never heard of the utter genius that is the Babka until this time last year when they seemed to be all over social media. Stuck somewhere between cake and bread, they’re basically a pillowy, sweet dough that’s rolled with any kind of filling you fancy – from chocolate to the oh so Autumnal apple and cinnamon – and then twisted and knotted before throwing it into the baking tin, giving it it’s trademark swirls.

I’m playing around with another Babka Recipe as we speak, but for now here’s last year’s Nutella and Orange-spiced offering.

Apple Pie Cake

If you want to know what I’m up to this weekend, then here’s your answer. I’ve got a mate coming to stay and my parents popping over for a Sunday roast and so one of these Apple Pie Cakes will be going in the oven tonight. If you’re bored of bog-standard apple pies and crumbles, then this is the bake you’ve been waiting for. Sweet, cinnamon-spiced apple pie mix swirled on top of a beautifully moist buttermilk sponge, it’s quite possibly my favourite cake EVER; it’s easy to make and delicious scoffed with custard, double cream or ice cream (or even by itself!). Save now, thank me later.

Biscoff Buns

I’m a total bun-head; I love iced buns, sticky buns, cinnamon buns… My anaconda don’t want none, unless you got buns hun. Especially cinnamon buns. Phwoar. I’m still working on my recipe for whipping them up at home, but until I stumble on the perfect recipe, here’s a twist with a Biscoff filling. If you’re yet to stock your cupboard with a jar of Biscoff Spread, then you’re missing out, my friend! That delicious little saucer surfer of a biscuit is now in spread form and works beautifully on toast, in porridge, and as the filling for this tear and share tray of sticky Biscoff Buns. Yum!

Feeling Blue-berry Muffins

Sometimes it’s nice to just go back to basics and bake something simple and satisfying, right? Well you can’t go wrong with a tray of Blueberry Muffins fresh out of the oven and bleeding blueberry juice all over the shop. The added crunchy topping to these blueberry muffins give them a little something extra.

Banana Crumble Cake

Bog-standard banana bread gets a glow-up with this recipe for Banana Crumble Cake. Hands down one of my favourite recipes with its moist, banana sponge (without the dense mattress texture you sometimes get with banana bread) and crunchy cinnamon crumble topping. You’ll never want waste speckled bananas on anything else!

Chocolate and Praline Dipped Madeleines

Here’s a recipe to keep in mind for party season, when you need to take a plate of something. Madeleines are so simple to make, but add the Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline topping and you’ve got something that not only tastes delicious but looks like it took you hours to make.

(These Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline Muffins are also a winner if you’re looking for something a bit more substantial…)

Leftover Pumpkin Traybake

How many times have you gutted a pumpkin to carve and thrown out all the good stuff? How many times have I said, “I’ll make it into soup or risotto!” and still ended up throwing it all out? Well, if you fancy actually using up your pumpkin guts for once, then you can’t go wrong with this very easy Pumpkin Traybake. Full of spice and topped with a cream cheese frosting, this bake makes use of every part of the pumpkin that doesn’t get turned into a lantern for Halloween – even making use of the seeds for a crunchy topping. 🙂

Bramble Bars

We’re pretty much nearing the end of blackberry picking season now, but if you’ve still got some stored up in the freezer and don’t fancy popping them in a crumble, why not try these Bramble Bars instead? Part flapjack, part bakewell tart – they’re sandwiched with a layer of sweet, blackberry jam. Yum!

Bara Brith (Welsh Mottled Bread)

It’s never going to win any beauty contests, but there’s nothing better than a slice of hot Bara Brith smothered in butter with a cup of tea. For the uninitiated, it’s a spiced tea loaf filled with dried fruit soaked overnight in tea. Very easy to make, Bara Brith is Wales itself in bread form; traditional, homely and full of tea.

Bakewell Tarts

I couldn’t resist picking up a pack of Cherry Bakewell Tarts from Home Bargains the other day and – oops – I’ve already pretty much polished it off. Hey, they’re small, alright?! These homemade Bakewell Tarts are not small, but are just as moreish – plus the recipe is a snap thanks to a few short cuts. Bake at your own peril! 😉

Happy baking! Let me know what your favourite Autumn bake is in the comments section! 🙂

Easy Thai Yellow Curry

And it was all yellow…
Easy Thai Yellow Curry from Scratch - The Cardiff Cwtch

We’re wellies deep into Autumn now, aren’t we?  I mean for a start, there hasn’t been a single dog walk in the past week where I haven’t trudged back soaked right through to my knickers (note to self: stop lusting after extra af fur coats and buy an unfashionable, dorky anorak instead…), and I keep waking up in total darkness every morning thinking that it’s 3am only to discover that – oh no! – it’s 7am and waaaay past time to get up.  I sound like I’m complaining, but actually, I love dark and dingy Autumn weather.  For a start, it’s an excuse to hole up at home with the central heating whacked right the way up, and also it’s finally the season to scoff plenty of roasts, pies, puddings and crumbles with custard.  Finally!  You see, pies and roasts tend to go on a bit of a hiatus over the summer in my house because they’re just a little bit too hot and heavy, and although they make a spectacular comeback when October rolls back around, I still can’t eat them everyday and I have to mix things up midweek with something a little lighter and a little bit spicier.  And this very, very easy Thai Yellow Curry really hits the spot.

Would you believe me if I told you that this recipe came back with me from Florida?  Yep, from Florida.  There’s a fab Thai restaurant that Sunny and I love hitting up when we’re out there.  It’s a tiny place and looks nothing special from the outside, but inside – as is the case with most unassuming restaurants – they serve up some of the tastiest food I’ve ever had.  This year, my father-in-law ordered a sizzling chicken platter that had everyone salivating over the table because it came in the most stunning yellow sauce that was unlike anything any of us had ever tasted.  After twenty minutes of stealing spoonful after spoonful and scraping the plate trying to suss out the ingredients, I had to ask the waiter what the sauce was and exactly what was in it because there was absolutely no way I was leaving Florida without a shopping list.  Turns out, it was a Thai Yellow Curry Sauce – which I’d never heard of before, and has a completely different flavour to its Red and Green counterparts – the ones you can easily buy pastes for in your local supermarket.  It’s much tastier and warmer, with that particular takeaway curry sauce flavour that you’d expect from a Chinese Curry or Singapore Noodle.  It’s sweetened ever so slightly with the addition of Palm Sugar (the only ingredient that’s a little bit trickier to come by, but you can pick up a jar online from Amazon) – and that adds a unique flavour by itself.  As soon as I got back home, I set to work trying to come up with a workable recipe for whipping up a Thai Yellow Curry from scratch, using (mostly) basic ingredients from my kitchen cupboard – and I finally came up with a winner.  This Easy Thai Yellow Curry is the perfect recipe for gloomy Autumn nights in; it’s not going to win any prizes for its looks, but it’s easy peasy to make and takes less than half an hour from wok to table. It’s tasty and warming, with plenty of texture from the added fresh greens and crunchy cashew nuts.  Plus, that bright yellow sauce is bound to put a smile on your face… even after a soggy dog walk. 😉

How to Make Thai Yellow Curry without Paste - The Cardiff Cwtch

Easy Thai Yellow Curry

A little bit sweet, a little bit spicy, a little bit of what you fancy…
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 a white onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp chilli paste
  • 250g chicken breast, diced
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 2 tsp palm sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 1 lemon grass shoot, sliced finely
  • 1 green pepper sliced
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 50g cashew nuts
  • rice to serve
Easy Thai Yellow Curry Recipe - The Cardiff Cwtch
Method
  1. Get your wok smoking hot (on a medium heat), then add the oil, turmeric, curry powder, ginger paste and chilli paste. Sweat the onions, then add the diced breast.
  2. Once the chicken is cooked on the outside, pour in the coconut milk and stir until it takes on a creamy yellow colour. Stir in the palm sugar, salt and sliced lemon grass. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and leave everything to simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Just before serving, throw in the cashew nuts, green pepper and spring onions.
  4. Serve up steaming hot on a bed of rice 🙂
Thai Yellow Curry Ingredients - The Cardiff Cwtch

Have a lovely week everyone! 💛

Easy Carrot Cake Traybake

An easy autumn traybake that’s full of spice and topped with everything nice…
The Cardiff Cwtch: How to Bake Carrot Cake from Scratch

So, I came across a tweet a while back that posed a very important question to the world:  “If you could delete ONE type of cake for the remainder of eternity, what would it be?”  My answer to that one was Carrot Cake, and apparently it was the wrong answer because I immediately got told where to get off.  Look, it’s not that I hate carrot cake, it’s just that I had a really bad experience with a Costco Carrot Cake that put me off enjoying a slice for close to a decade.  Yeah.  It really was that bad.  It was just too sweet.  Not so much the cake itself, but the thick layer of cream cheese frosting on top made my fillings scream and by the time I was three bites in I was gagging and had to walk away.  I had to walk away from cake.  From CAKE!  I mean, that should be a crime, right?  I’ve avoided Carrot Cake and all its incarnations ever since.

I think the problem is that there are so many different recipes out there and – despite it generally being a very easy cake to make – there are so many different elements and additions that it’s got the potential to be absolutely to die for… or completely disastrous.  I mean, beyond the standard grated carrots added to the batter, some recipes suggest adding sultanas and other dried fruits (including pineapple, I’ve heard), some suggest nuts (should it be walnuts, or pecans?), and then there’s the all important spice mix – should you just stick to cinnamon, or spice things up a bit (ha ha) with a few more?  Don’t even get me started on the all important cream cheese frosting!

Anyway, recently I ate some really, really good Carrot Cake out in the States (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; they do Fall Cakes and Traybakes so much better out there than we do here in the UK), and I was willing to admit that I might have got this one wrong – that Carrot Cake shouldn’t be banished off the face of the planet.  So I decided to try making my own from scratch – complete with the dreaded Cream Cheese Frosting – to see if I could be convinced to fall back in love with Carrot Cake.  I researched a few recipes and came up with this very easy Carrot Cake Traybake. 🙂

The Cardiff Cwtch: Easy Carrot Cake TraybakeThe Cardiff Cwtch: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese and Buttercream Frosting
How to Store Carrot Cake

The problem with Carrot Cake is the frosting.  The cream cheese isn’t going last more than a couple of days sitting out on a counter, even if the cake is covered.  A Tray bake makes things a little easier because you can section off the slices, easily pop them into an airtight container and then store them in the fridge for up a week, or sneak a couple into the freezer to enjoy at a later date. 😉

The Cardiff Cwtch: Cosy Slice of Carrot Cake with a Cuppa and a Pupper!

Easy Carrot Cake Traybake

…cut off a corner and get cosy with a cuppa…
Cake Ingredients
  • 150g unsalted butter, melted
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml milk
  • 200g carrots, peeled and grated
  • 100g pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
Cream Cheese frosting
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cornflour
The Cardiff Cwtch: Carrot Cake with Buttercream Leaves
Method
  1. Grease and line a rectangular baking tray, then set your oven to 180°C.
  2. Grab a mixing bowl and stir together your melted butter and sugar, then stir in the eggs. Whisk everything until it’s nice and foamy, this should add in a little extra air to give your carrot cake a boost as it bakes.
  3. Next, fold in the flour, baking powder and spices – but make sure you don’t knock out the air you whisked in during step number two. Finally stir in the grated carrots and chopped pecans, then pour the mixture into the baking tin. Bake for 30 minutes, and then leave to cool.
  4. To make the cream cheese frosting, whip together the ingredients until smooth and then pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up a little – it’ll save you trying to frost the cake with runny cream cheese!
  5. You could just leave it at that! There are so many different ways to decorate a carrot cake, but I fancied topping mine with these buttercream autumn leaves. All I did was piped some coloured buttercream onto baking paper in the shape of maple leaves (easier said than done!), refrigerated them until they set and then used them to finish off the cake. 🙂
The Cardiff Cwtch: Easy Carrot Cake Traybake with Cream Cheese and Cinnamon Frosting

So what do you reckon? Is carrot cake truly deserving of the title slot for best cake on the planet, because I’m still not convinced! When it’s good (and not from Costco) it’s lovely, don’t get me wrong, but I still wouldn’t pick it over a door wedge slice of this apple pie cake. What’s your favourite cake?  And, if you could banish one type of cake to the pits of hell, which would it be? ❥