Oh hey, would you look at that, Monday swung back around. *eyeroll* Although actually, I’m kind of relieved. It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the Cwtch household; Sunny’s been travelling non-stop with his work, I’ve pretty much been chained to the computer and then last Friday, Bungle went into the vets for an “operation” – if y’know what I mean – which meant a whole weekend of staying in and keeping his head out of his crotch. Fun times! So, needless to say, we’ve been kind of running on empty – as have a lot of people I’ve spoken to. It’s funny; it seems like the crossover between March and April’s been a little manic for everyone.
I had one of those blue days last week where everything just got on top of me and I needed to take ten. Usually when that happens I like to do a little baking to de-stress, but I wasn’t in the mood to do anything too complicated. Sometimes, it’s nice to go back to the basics and bake something easy but satisfying. Turns out we had a whole punnet of blueberries sitting in the fridge (they were supposed to be for porridge, but it had been Frosties kinda week…) and so I thought I’d whip up some Blueberry Muffins to see me through the rest of the week! They’re stupidly simple and adapted from a recipe I found on the Red Magazine website just before Christmas – except that my batch have a little cinnamon and some extra crunch with the added granola and demerara sugar topping. Yum!
Feeling Blue-Berry Muffins (makes 12)
- 100g caster sugar
- 150g butter (room temperature)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- pinch of salt
- 250g self raising flour
- 100ml milk
- 200g blueberries
- 50g granola (click here for my recipe)
- 50g demerara sugar
- Set your oven to 180°C and line a muffin tray with lightly greased cases (I like to use the 1 calorie spray because it makes things easier 😉 ).
- In a mixing bowl, cream together your butter and caster sugar – then beat in the eggs until the mix is nice and fluffy.
- Next, gently fold in the flour little by little – alternating with the milk. Finally, stir in the blueberries (I like my muffins gooey and full of fruit, so I used a loooooot of blueberries, but feel free to dial it back a little if that’s not your jam), cinnamon and salt.
- Spoon the mixture into your muffin cases, then sprinkle each one with a generous helping of granola and demerara sugar. Bake for 20 minutes.
Have a great week! 🙂
Fudge is one of those things that I’ve always wanted to try making but, ugh, TOO MUCH EFFORT! I mean, the traditional way of doing things involves heating up butter and sugar to an exact temperature and using a sugar thermometer and a lot of faffing around, and – like I said – EFFORT. I felt like for my first time I didn’t want to take on more than I could handle – so I cheated and used condensed milk. It’s still definitely one of those recipes that needs 100% focus and attention (no scrolling instagram or twitter while you’re stirring!), but it’s much easier and – providing you let the sugar dissolve completely – makes a really creamy fudge.
I usually bake Welshcakes on St David’s Day, but honestly, the ladies at Bakestones in Cardiff Market knock mine right off the board. They’re so good! So this year I decided to make this Welshcake Batter Fudge. It’s not the prettiest looking fudge around (just like Welshcakes aren’t exactly the prettiest cakes), but tastes just like the real deal thanks to the sultanas and a hint of mixed spice. 🙂
Welsh Cake Batter Fudge
- one 397g can of condensed milk
- 150g sultanas
- 2 tsp of mixed spice
- 120g butter
- 450g demerara sugar
- pinch of sea salt
- Pour the condensed milk, mixed spice, butter and sugar into a deep, non-stick saucepan and stir slowly on a low heat until all the ingredients have combined and the sugar has completely dissolved. If you move too quickly to step two, then you’ll get a grainy fudge.
- Get a bowl, fill it with ice cold water and keep it nearby for the next step. Crank the heat a little and bring the mixture to the boil – stirring constantly and simmering for around ten minutes. You want the fudge to reach its “soft ball” stage, which is when you’re going to stop boiling it and bring it off the heat. The time it takes to reach this stage is going to vary, so either test it with a sugar thermometer (you want the fudge to hit 118°C), or get a spoon and drop a little into your bowl of cold water. If the fudge is ready, it should ball and set, but remain a little squidgy when you squeeze it between your fingertips.
- When it’s ready, take the fudge off the heat and pour in the sultanas. Stir them into the fudge and keep beating until it starts to thicken up and set. Pour it into a square, lined baking tin and sprinkle with sea salt. Leave it to cool before cutting it into squares. 🙂
Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus, pawb! (Happy St David’s Day, everyone!) 💛
Firmly on the Blood Orange bandwagon and no sign of jumping off. Sorry not sorry. How was your Valentine’s Day? Did you celebrate? Do you celebrate? I didn’t even get a card, you guys. Sunny was really busy working in London all day, and to be honest we don’t really celebrate it. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t just a teeny bit jealous when I watched one of my lovely neighbours squealing over the massive bouquet that turned up on her doorstep… but whatever! Although, to be fair, Sunny did take me to the opera over the weekend, and since he was willing to sit next to me and endure three hours of Mozart being screamed at him, I think we can call it even… Also, he never gets a chance to buy me flowers because I’m always buying them for myself! 😉
I guess it’s those little gestures all year round that really count, right? Like, Sunny always walks Bungle on a Saturday morning so I can have a lie in. He always lets me have the extra cream egg when we buy three (not that he’d really have much choice on that one…). He de-ices my car and fills up the screen-wash when it’s running low, and he knows how to pull me out of a rut. My little gestures tend to be food-related; I’m a total feeder. Last week I made this really easy upside down cake and topped it with blood oranges. It’s sticky and sweet, and if you choose the juiciest blood oranges then you’ll get the prettiest topping. The hardest part is making the caramel – but really, as long as you’re not tempted to stir, it’s a doddle. 🙂
Blood Orange Caramel Upside Down Cake
- 2 Ripe Blood Oranges, thinly sliced
- 125g Butter
- 125g Caster Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 100g Plain Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 50g Ground Almonds
- 100ml Buttermilk
For the Caramel:
- 150g caster sugar
- 75g butter
- pinch of salt
- 100ml of water
- Set your oven to 170° and grease a silicon baking tin (I used a heart shaped one because, Valentines Day!) – it’ll make things easier when it comes to flipping the cake. Sprinkle with a little flour and then set aside.
- Make the caramel by putting your caster sugar in a saucepan with water. Bring it to the boil on a medium heat without stirring (don’t be tempted!). Once the sugar has all dissolved and the mixture has started to turn a lovely tawny, amber colour – stir in your butter. As soon as the butter has melted in, pour the caramel into the bottom of your cake tin. Now, evenly layer your orange segments on top.
- Hard part’s over! Now to make the cake, you’re going to cream together the butter and the sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir in the egg.
- Now, in a separate bowl sift together most of your dry ingredients; that’s the flour, baking powder and ground almonds. Combine with the wet ingredients.
- Stir in the buttermilk to make a light batter, and then pour it into the tin over the orange and caramel base. Smooth over the top, then bake for 30 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Leave to cool.
- When you’re ready to serve, flip your cake so the caramel and orange base is on top. Serve with cream… 🙂
Have a great week! ♡
Happy Saint Dwynwen’s Day! Or, for the uninitiated, Welsh Valentines Day! I went into a little bit more detail on why exactly we celebrate Valentines Day a little earlier than the rest of the world here in Wales in this post (along with a little recipe for Blood Orange Doughnuts 🙂 ) – but it’s basically a Game of Thrones-esque story about a time when Kings had 24 daughters and princesses routinely ran off into the woods and turned their lovers into blocks of ice. As you do. 😉
For me, I celebrate it in much the same way I’d celebrate Valentines Day; I hunt down a non-soppy card and hand it to him first thing in the morning along with something sweet that I’ve baked. This year we’re heading off on a little road trip for the weekend so I wanted to make something bite-sized that we can scoff in the car – so I made these sweet little Palmiers filled with Nutella. They’re as easy to make as rolling some puff pastry and cracking open a jar of Nutella (something I’m very, very good at…) and almost look like hearts… well, I tried! 🙂
Mini Nutella Palmiers
- Ready-made Puff Pastry
- Plenty of Nutella
- Icing Sugar
- Roll out your puff pastry until it’s about half a centimeter thick and then cut off the rough edges so your sheet is shaped like a rectangle. Thinly spread (and rarely do I use the word “thinly spread” when Nutella is concerned…) your Nutella over the sheet, making sure you go right up to the edges.
- To roll your palmiers, think scroll; carefully roll each end into the middle until you’ve got what looks like a rolled up scroll. Pop it in the fridge to chill for an hour, and then cut it into rounds about a centimeter thick with a sharp knife.
- Spread the palmiers out evenly on a baking tray and then bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 220°.
- Leave to cool, then dust with icing sugar.
Happy St Dwynwen’s Day! ♡
Hands up then, who’s planning on putting their tree up this weekend? I’ve got Sunday set aside purely for de-tangling fairy lights, rummaging through our decorations (Sunny and I collect decorations from all the places we’ve travelled to) and then hoovering up pine needles. I can’t wait! But hey, it’s a knackering job innit? There’s nothing better than crashing onto the sofa afterwards with a hot cup of tea and something sweet! Well, I’ve got the perfect Christmas Decorating Fuel for you; this Orange and Nutella Babka.
I spotted a few of these on Social Media before I went off to the States on Holiday and had never heard of them before, and then I saw even more out there in supermarkets and bakeries. They’re an Eastern European invention and are basically a sweet loaf that’s stuck somewhere between bread and cake. The dough is filled with whatever sweet filling you fancy, rolled up, snipped down the middle and twisted to form swirls. It’s best eaten straight out of the oven warm; perfect for baking while you’re buried up to your neck in tinsel. 😉
Orange and Nutella Babka (makes one beast of a loaf, or two smaller loaves)
- 250g strong white flour
- 250g plain flour (and a little extra for dusting)
- 15g fresh yeast (dry active)
- 200ml soda water (a neat little trick to give your loaf a little extra rise)
- 100ml boiling water
- 2 tsp of salt
- 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 50 ml melted butter (plus a little extra for greasing)
- 1 egg (whisked)
- 1 small jar of Nutella
- Zest of one Orange
- 50g Chopped Hazelnuts
- 50g Chopped chunks of chocolate
- A little milk to wash.
- First things first, you’re going to need to activate your yeast. Pour the soda water and boiling water into a bowl. Dissolve the sugar into the water and then sprinkle over the yeast. Whisk and then leave the bowl somewhere warm for 15 minutes (I use my airing cupboard!) until the yeast begins to froth.
- Once the yeast is ready, pour in the melted butter and then add the salt, flour, cinnamon and orange zest. Stir it together to create a sticky dough. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.
- Once the dough’s been kneaded, pop in a lightly oiled bowl and leave it to prove somewhere warm for one hour.
- After an hour, the dough should have doubled in size. Turn it onto a floured surface and roll it out into a rough square shape that’s about 1cm thick. Spread the Nutella – taking it as close to the edges as possible – then sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts (hold some back to decorate) and chocolate on top. Roll it up like a swiss roll and seal each end.
- Now to shape the Babka. Take a sharp knife and cut the dough right down the middle leaving a space at the top (it should look like a pair of legs once you’re done). Take each leg and turn it so the sticky inside layers are facing upwards. Now twist one leg over the other until you get a tight plait from one end to the other – making sure you keep those inside layers facing up.
- Grease and line a loaf tin and then fill it with your twisted dough. There’s a knack to this bit; you want to make sure the ends are folded under, while the middle is on top. Cover it with a damp tea towel and leave the dough to prove for another hour.
- Set your oven to 200°. Give the surface of the babka a little wash with milk and sprinkle with a few extra chopped hazelnuts and orange zest, then bake it for 30 minutes – covering the top with foil after 15 minutes to protect those layers from burning.
- Scoff warm with some extra Nutella! 🙂
Happy Weekend (and happy decorating!)! ♡