Apple Pie Cake

It’s right about this time of year that my blood starts turning to into custard because – oh yeah – it’s finally getting cold enough to scoff puddings and pies again!  I love pies, but when it comes to custard?  Meh, I’m more of a hot, strawberry blancmange kinda girl  if I’m being totally honest (I’m an 80s kid through and through, okay?).  Sunny, on the other hand, is an absolute super fan who likes to drown his desserts in the stuff and would happily drink it on its own if I let him 😉  When it comes to the dessert itself, he does love a good old apple pie or crumble but would probably admit that at the end of the day they’re just a vehicle for the custard, and as for me I get a bit bored baking the same old apple dishes every year.  So, I’ve been on a mission to come up with an apple pie that’s so damn good it upstages the custard.

Enter the apple pie cake.  There’s no crust, just a fluffy, moist sponge, with juicy, cinnamon-spiced apples and it be eaten either hot or cold – unlike old humble apple pie.  I adapted the recipe from the fantastic buttermilk plum cake I baked over the summer and came up with a keeper.  🙂

Apple Pie Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 Apples of any variety (I used Pink Lady), peeled, cored and thinly sliced into segments.
  • Juice of Half a Lemon
  • 125g Butter
  • 175g Caster Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 50g Ground Almonds
  • 100ml Buttermilk
  1. Boil your apple segments in lemon juice and water until they’re just soft enough for a knife to pierce them, then leave to cool.
  2. Set your oven to 170° and grease a 20cm open bottom cake tin.  Sprinkle with a little flour and then set aside.
  3. In your mixing bowl, cream together the butter and 125g of the sugar.  Stir in the egg.
  4. In a separate bowl sift together most of the dry ingredients; that’s the flour, baking powder, ground almonds and 1 tsp of cinnamon.  Combine with the wet ingredients.
  5. Stir in the buttermilk to make a light batter.
  6. Pour the batter into your cake tin and smooth over the surface.  Arrange the apples on top in a spiral starting about a centimeter away from the edge of the tin.  Make sure you overlap them so that when the cake rises in the oven you’re not left with any gaps.
  7. Before you pop the cake in the oven sprinkle over the remaining sugar and teaspoon of cinnamon.  Bake for 50 minutes and then serve up warm with custard or ice cream.  Add some toffee sauce to turn it into a toffee apple cake!

I honestly don’t think I’ll be baking any apple pies this year, it’ll just be this cake over and over and over again.  If you want to see me making it, check out my IGTV for the recipe in video form.  

5 Lazy Breakfasts to Try This Weekend

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Lazy weekend breakfasts and brunches are THE BEST.  I think they’re probably my favourite meal of the week and there’s a good chance that my death row meal of choice would be a big-ass brunch with all the bacon.  There’s something extra special about getting up after a long lie in, whacking on the kettle and then whipping something you wouldn’t normally have time to scoff on a weekday morning.  I know for a fact that I’ve got some leftover buttermilk in my fridge that’s destined to become a big stack of pancakes tomorrow morning and I CANNOT WAIT.  But if you’re in the mood to try something a little different this weekend, here are five lazy brunch recipes fresh from the archives. 🙂

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1. Frosties Battered French Toast

I love French Toast.  If you’ve got some stale bread (brioche, even better), milk and a couple of eggs then you’re golden.  But, let’s take it up a notch – and this is genius – once you’ve dunked your french toast into the milk and egg mix, try adding a crunchy coating by dunking it into a bowl full of crushed cereal before you fry it!  And, bada-bing bada-boom, you’ve got yourself some Battered French Toast.  I like to use Frosties, but you could literally use any cereal you fancy.  The possibilities are endless.

2. Halloumi Hash

This is one of my favourites things to have for Brinner (…breakfast for dinner – am I the only one who calls it that?) and I probably cook it at least once every couple of weeks.  Obviously the halloumi, potatoes and fried egg are non-negotiable, but as for everything else?  Add whatever you fancy or whatever you’ve got hanging about in the back of the fridge.  Cherries tomatoes on the turn?  Throw them in.  Half a red pepper?  Be rude not to.  Leftover salad?  Go for it.

3. Dutch Baby

Oh baby.  If you’ve ever wondered what might happen if you baked pancake batter instead of frying it, then wonder no more.  The result is basically one big, sweet yorkshire pudding.  The edges rise and crisp up to create a kind of bowl shape that you can fill with whatever you like.

4. Hair of the Dog Shakshuka

I call this Hair of the Dog Shakshuka due to the generous glug of vodka stirred into the herby tomato passata that makes up the foundation of this cosy breakfast.  There are literally hundreds of ways to make shakshuka, but all of them end with a very runny, very dunk-able egg (or eggs!) swimming in the middle.  It’s an easy one pot breakfast to share.  Yum!

5. Parfait Pots

If you’re not a fan of heavy brunches or putting in some time in the kitchen on the weekend, then this one’s for you.  Yoghurt Parfait Pots are basically sweet yoghurt pots topped with fruit and granola.  You can whip them up the night before and then just add the toppings before you’re ready to eat them.  The perfect breakfast to take back to bed with a massive mug and a magazine. 🙂

What’s your favorite weekend brunch? 🍳

A Stress-Free Sunday Night Dinner with La Belle Assiette

I love getting my friends and family over for dinner.  You know me, I’m a right Monica Geller; “I’m always the hostess!”  It’s stressful, but it’s the kind of stress I feed off of (literally!).  I love setting the table up, deciding what cook for everyone and then serving it up.  But more than anything else I love having all my favourite people around my kitchen table.  My only problem with the whole hosting game is that I’m constantly having to leave that table to go check on the food, top up drinks and then… ugh, clean everything up.  I keep having to disappear in the middle of one of my Dad’s stories, or the latest TV and movie tip-off from my brother and that, my friends, is the worst part of always being the hostess.  Sometimes it’d be nice to just sit at that same table and soak up a Sunday night dinner with the family without having to actually serve it myself.

I thought I’d have to win a Grammy or the lottery to be able to hire a private chef, and since my singing’s only shower-worthy and I can’t remember the last time I won anything on the lottery – I thought I was way off.  But it’s actually more affordable than you’d think!  La Belle Assiette is a website that allows you to hire local chefs and caterers to come and serve a meal in your home with prices starting from as little as £39 a head.  Chefs call up and discuss the menu with you beforehand – taking into consideration any special dietary requirements or fussy eaters you might have – and then they buy all the ingredients, cook the meal and – better yet – clean up afterwards!  So, when an email popped into my inbox asking whether I fancied opening up my little kitchen for the night to local chef, Manveer Holloway, how could I possibly refuse? 🙂


I’m a bit possessive of my kitchen – I always kick people out when I’m cooking, so I wasn’t quite sure what it was going to be like having a stranger come and use my cheap old pans and crusty oven (I did have a panic the night before that nothing was chef-clean enough and scrubbed until my arm almost fell off), but Manveer was friendly and professional right from the get go.  He arrived a few hours before dinner to set up and prepare the food and got right down to it!  I could just sit back and wait for my guests to arrive.  But I didn’t do that, it felt strange not mucking in!  So I went and had a chat with Manveer instead, asking him about his experience in the catering industry and the six months he spent working on the tiny channel island of Aldernay.

The meal kicked off at eight with some bread and olives on the table, followed by a starter of Tikka Marinated Chicken, pickled cue and courgettes (which were absolutely stunning) and mint raita.  And for my Mum, who only eats fish and vegetables; wild mushroom arancini, pea shoots and truffle oil.


When Manveer called me a few weeks before the meal to discuss the menu, he suggested rump of lamb for a main course.  Now, I’m not normally a huge fan of lamb, but I knew that Sunny, my Dad and my brother would be all over it – so I said yes!  Turns out, I hadn’t really given lamb a chance because the lamb Manveer cooked was absolutely delicious! Accompanied with rosemary and garlic mash, pea and butternut puree, fresh leek and red wine sauce it was probably the nicest Sunday Dinner to ever grace my kitchen table!



While we feasted on lamb, my Mum polished off a fillet of seabass with sauteed potatoes, spiced tomato sauce, tempura broccoli and cauliflower florets.  I was amazed how Manveer perfectly timed two very different meals, cooking the fish to perfection while keeping the lamb tender.

To finish off, we had a deconstructed lemon tart with candied lemon peel, limoncello jelly and earl grey syrup (which I loved so much I had to try making myself!).  While we all ate and chatted, Manveer worked hard to get the kitchen back clean and in working order.

What can I say?  The whole night was a total treat from start to finish!  If you’re looking to host a dinner party with a difference then I’d definitely check out La Belle Assiette – your guests will be nattering about it for months!

Massive thanks to La Belle Assiette and Manveer for such an amazing evening – and to Anna from Exposure for the photographs (it was so nice to dig into a plate of food without me having to photograph it first!).

Have a great week everyone! 

Easy Singapore Noodles

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Happy September!  I don’t know about you but I’m loving that slight chill in the air; it’s getting me all excited for cosy jumpers, darker evenings spent in front of the telly and cheeky takeaways.  Speaking of which, I’m deadly serious when I say that one of the worst things about moving back to Cardiff is that the local takeaway doesn’t serve up one of my favourite ever dishes.  Back in London, along with chicken balls and sweet and sour sauce, a spicy serving of Singapore Noodles was an absolute must-order whenever I rung up our local Chinese Takeaway.  I mean yes, they’re the colour of nuclear waste and yes they’re so spicy that they’ve been known to leave my mouth numb, but I love them and was absolutely gutted when I found out that my new local doesn’t serve them.

Deciding that I absolutely couldn’t face another winter without them, I thought I’d try and make them myself, and you know what?  They’re not that difficult, and other than a couple of essential “back of the kitchen cupboard” ingredients, they can can be whipped up using a lot leftovers from your fridge.  Leftover roast chicken?  Chuck it in.  Lonely carrot?  Whack it in there.  Leftover bacon?  …Er, nope, right, there’s no such thing.  Buy some more bacon.  But hey, in less than twenty minutes they’re steaming away on the plate, which would give any local takeaway a run for its money.  😉

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Easy Singapore Noodles (serves two)

Ingredients

  • One pack of vermicelli rice noodles
  • 100g shredded roast chicken
  • 100g bacon lardons
  • 3 tsp madras curry powder
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 garlic crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 2 red chilli peppers, thinly sliced
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, finely shredded
  • Splash of vegetable oil
  1. Soak the rice noodles in a bowl of boiling water for a minute, then drain and separate.
  2. Add the soy sauce, rice wine and 2 tsp of the curry powder to the softened noodles and mix until they’re all coated and then set aside.
  3. Heat up your wok (or deep frying pan) with the vegetable oil, then add the garlic, ginger paste and the rest of the curry powder.  Fry until the kitchen starts to smell like your takeaway, then pour in the chopped chilli, pepper and carrot and fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. Now nudge them to the side of the wok and pour in the egg, letting it sit for a minute or two until you stick your spatula or spoon in and scramble it into the veg.
  5. Now add the chicken and bacon – frying until cooked through – then pour in the noodles and spring onions.  Getting everything nicely mixed together is trickier than it sounds!  
  6. Serve steaming hot with chopsticks. 🙂

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Hope you’re enjoying the first week of September whatever you’re up to!  It’s good to be back 🙂

What I Did: Sunday Lunch at Llanerch Vineyard

It was my Mum’s birthday a few weeks ago.  We’d just got back from Canada and struggled to quickly come up with a plan of where to take her on a Sunday for a chilled but fancy afternoon meal out that wasn’t going to be just a bog standard Roast.  It was also hot, like – even my knees are sweating – blazing hot, so the chance to sit outside instead of crammed into some dark and muggy corner of a restaurant would be a bonus.  And so, we booked a table at beautiful Llanerch Vineyard 🙂

Any other year it would seem absolutely ridiculous that there’s fully functional vineyard just outside of Cardiff, but apparently the usually mild and drizzly weather we (usually!) get around here is perfect for making the French and German hybrid wine (labelled “Cariad”) that Llanerch produces.  Apparently they fill up to 10,000 bottles of the stuff every year, so there you go!  Anyway, as well as offering up vineyard tours and wine tasting classes, it’s a lovely place to go for dinner or afternoon tea – especially on a Sunday when the Cariad Bistro offers up an Al Fresco Sunday lunch.



The way it works is that you can choose from either a two or three course meal with various options for starter, main and dessert.  We went for the two course option, forgoing the starters in favour of dessert (obviously!).  I went for a good old roast chicken with all the trimmings, which included fresh, seasonal vegetables, with plenty of extra ones on the side, lots of thick gravy and cauliflower cheese.  It was yum!



For dessert I went for the coconut panna cotta with mango sorbet, which was gorgeous – and perfect because I was about ready to melt by then, it was so hot outside!  But, it was a really lovely afternoon sitting out in the sunshine looking out over the vines – you could almost pretend you were in the South of France or the middle of Tuscany 🙂

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Have a great week everyone! 🙂