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! 🙂

Tagliatelle Arrabiata

Mamma mia, itsa slightly spicy pasta…
Tagliatelle Arrabiata - The Cardiff Cwtch

I’ve said it before, but I tend to steer clear when it comes to cooking pasta at home (…and yet I’ve got a whole cupboard full of dried pasta…). Why? Because it’s TOO HARD, and I’m too fussy. Anyone who says that Italian Food is one of the easiest foods to make at home has never eaten great pasta. FACT. The truth is that I can never seem to replicate the simple perfection of really great pasta in my own kitchen. I’m convinced that it’s the culinary version of Natural Look Makeup; sure, it looks simple – but actually, it takes time and skill to pull off. So I don’t bother trying… much.

The problem is that I really love eating pasta (who the hell doesn’t? My husband, that’s who. Weirdo.); I really want to be able to eat it at home. So occasionally, I give it a go and sometimes – whaddya know – I get it right. Or as close to right as possible without having three generations of Italian passata pulsing through your veins. Slightly spicy, slightly sweet; the sneaky ingredient in this cupboard-ingredients friendly Tagliatelle Arrabiata is baby food. Not kidding. Turns out that puréed carrot does a really great job of balancing out the acidity of the chopped, tinned baby tomatoes. Clever huh? And so easy!

Tagliatelle Arrabiata - The Cardiff Cwtch
Tagliatelle Arrabiata (serves 2)
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste (no need to peel and chop garlic, yay!)
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 100g roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 3 chilli peppers, diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 70g carrot purée
  • 250g chopped, tinned cherry tomatos
  • tagliatelle (fresh or dried, you decide)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly chopped basil to serve
Tagliatelle Arrabiata - The Cardiff Cwtch
Method
  1. Pour the olive oil into a deep frying pan, and gently heat up on a medium heat. Add the garlic paste and then fry the diced onion until soft and translucent. Stir in the tomato paste.
  2. Throw in the chopped chilli peppers and the roasted red peppers (I like to use the pre-roasted ones that you get in a jar because they’re usually preserved in a mix of water, grape musk and red wine vinegar that’ll slightly sweeten the sauce – cool tip).
  3. Pour in the chopped tomatos and puréed carrot and stir. Bring to the boil, then simmer on a low heat for twenty minutes to reduce a little.
  4. While you’re waiting, cook up your tagliatelle.
  5. Toss the tagliatelle in the sauce, season and serve with fresh basil leaves.
Tagliatelle Arrabiata - The Cardiff Cwtch

Have a lovely week! 🍝

*Strawberry and Gruyere Summer Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

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So here’s the thing.  I’m not a massive fan of salads – in fact, I’m not really a fan AT ALL(Great start, I know…)  I’m a big kid at heart, I need to be tricked into getting those greens; I’ll eat them, but there’s got to be a lil’ something-something tossed between the leaves to bring me to the table.

This (kind of Wimbledon-inspired!) Strawberry and Gruyere Summer Salad is really easy to make and really hits the spot served up for an al fresco lunch or alongside a barbecue.  Fresh, sweet and creamy – with a sour, zingy edge thanks to the added raspberry vinaigrette – the strawberries really steal the show on this one, provided you pick the best the season has to offer.  British strawberries really are in their peak season at the moment and these “Red Diamond Strawbs” from my friends at Marks and Spencer are quite possibly the juiciest I’ve ever tasted; their sweet scent filled my car on the short drive back from my local M&S Food and perfumed my fridge and kitchen all weekend!  Get them while you can! 🙂

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Strawberry and Gruyere Summer Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 150g Strawberries, sliced
  • Italian Peppery Leaf Salad (spinach, lettuce, rocket)
  • 50g Gruyere Cheese, shaved (use a potato peeler 😉 )

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 150g raspberries (I used M&S’s Sapphire Raspberries)
  • 25ml balsamic vinegar
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • a handful of basil leaves
  1. To make the vinaigrette, blitz together the raspberries, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and basil until smooth.
  2. Assemble your salad, then drizzle the vinaigrette over the top and sprinkle with the shaved gruyere. Easy!

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Have a great week! 🍓🍓🍓

*This post contains gifted items from Marks and Spencer, to find out more about what that means click here to read my disclaimer.

Chilli Mac & Cheese

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Happy Monday (and Happy 1st of July!)!  Here’s a recipe to bookmark for later, because – well – firstly, Mac & Cheese isn’t exactly the kind of thing to be scoffing in the middle of summer, is it?  It definitely falls under the category of cold weather comfort food; it’s perfect for gloomy, November night’s in rather than a sticky, July suppers scoffed alfresco – right?  (Although, honestly my appetite knows no season, and – besides – you never know when the Welsh Weather’s going to trip you up…) And secondly, it’s two recipes in one!  Definitely one to keep up your sleeve. 😉

Chilli is one of my absolute favourite meals to make because it’s a one pot wonder that’s easy to whip up mid week when I’m feeling too tired to cook and tempted to reach for that takeaway menu.  It’s also perfect for batch cooking; the recipe makes more than enough to sort both one dinner and a couple of lunches for the week.  Make it meaty with beef mince if you like, but I actually prefer the veggie version using Quorn Mince.  I’ll usually serve it up with some rice, grated cheese and sour cream (my husband likes to add a couple of crushed nachos to his too for some extra crunch), but it’s also pretty fabulous served up on a bed of gooey, super-cheesy Mac and Cheese.

I feel like Mac and Cheese gets a bit of a bad rap from all those cardboard microwave versions (bleugh!).  I mean it only takes a little extra effort to make it yourself, and it tastes so much better!  Especially if you use the right kind of cheese.  Lucky for me, the guys from Dragon Wales (who make my favourite vintage cheddar – my fridge is always stocked with a block!) sent me a lovely little hamper full of their brand new range of cheeses, including a Maple Smoked Cheddar that was born to make the smokiest, creamiest cheese sauce for Mac and Cheese. 👌

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Chilli Mac & Cheese (serves 2 – with plenty for leftovers!)

Ingredients

For the Chilli:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 350g mince (sure, beef’s traditional, but I personally love Quorn mince)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp chipotle paste
  • 500g tomato passata
  • 225g black beans
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ancho chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp runny honey
  • chopped fresh coriander
  • salt and pepper to season

For the Mac & Cheese:

  • 100g macaroni
  • 100g cheddar cheese, grated (I really like Dragon’s new *Maple-Smoked Cheddar)
  • 100g butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 200ml milk
  • salt and pepper to season
  1. To make the chilli, heat up your olive oil in a deep pan – then add the diced red onions and fry on a medium heat until they’re glossy.  Add the garlic and fry for one minute.
  2. Next, add the mince and fry it for a couple of minutes until brown, then add the bell pepper and black beans.  Add the chipotle paste, honey and passata and stir until combined.  
  3. Season the chilli with the paprika, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper and chilli flakes – then turn down the heat, whack on the lid and allow the chilli to simmer for twenty five minutes.  If it’s looking a little dry, pour in a little cold water.
  4. Once it’s cooked, you can stop there, season it with salt and pepper and serve it up with some fresh coriander, rice and sour cream… or you can keep the lid on and whip up some Mac and Cheese to scoff it with! 😉
  5. To make the Mac and Cheese, first get your macaroni boiling with some salt.  While it’s cooking, grab a fresh saucepan and gently heat the butter until it’s melted.  Next, add the flour and whisk to make a roux (fancy-pants term which basically means a sauce base). 
  6. Keeping the heat down low, slowly pour in the milk and whisk until everything’s combined.  Add the grated cheddar, season and stir to make a lovely, thick and cheesy sauce. 😉
  7. Stir in the cooked (and drained!) macaroni, then serve up with the chilli and fresh coriander.  Yum!

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Have a great week everyone!  And thanks to Dragon Wales for the lovely cheese!  💛💛💛

*This post isn’t sponsored, but contains gifted items.  To find out more about what this means and to read my disclaimer, click here.

Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream

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Okay, I’m well aware that it hasn’t exactly been “Ice Cream Weather” recently (it’s been so wet and windy here in Wales the past couple of weeks that I’ve had to dig my winter coat back out of storage)… so let’s call this post aspirational, shall we?  Mind you, I grew up slurping down Joe’s Icecream cwtched-up in the back of the car with my Mum and Mamgu parked up on the front in Mumbles in the dead of winter so I can’t say the weather’s ever really stopped me, so…

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that making ice cream is difficult – or that you need a special machine to do it – because they’re having you on (and trying to stop you from creating your own never ending supply of the good stuff…).  There are a lot of complicated recipes out there that involve creating the custard base with eggs, or stirring the mixture every hour as it freezes (ugh)… but this recipe?  It’s EASY.  Too easy, in fact.  All you need is some double cream and condensed milk, and with some restrained whipping you’ll have yourself a simple ice cream base that freezes like a dream (no need to break your wrist when it comes to scooping!) and can be flavoured any way you like it.

Since the weather’s been a bit… autumnal, I added some marshmallow fluff and toasted marshmallows to mine to make this Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream – which I bet would be absolutely awesome served up between two cookies as a kind of Smores Ice Cream Sarnie.  Yum! 😉

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Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 600ml double cream
  • 400ml sweetened, condensed milk
  • 100g marshmallow fluff
  • 200g large marshmallows (plus a few more to serve!)
  1. This recipe is so easy, it’s practically criminal.  To make the ice cream base – grab a mixing bowl and whip up your double cream (whip it good) until it’s nice and thick and forming stiff peaks (if the cream becomes foamy and starts to separate then you’ve whipped too much!).  
  2. Pour in the marshmallow fluff and condensed milk and whip until everything’s combined.
  3. Next, toast your marshmallows.  It’s completely up to you how you do it; you can either pop them in the oven under the grill until they start to brown and bubble, or you can (carefully!) scorch them with a blow torch.  Set them aside for a few minutes to cool down – then mix them into your ice cream!
  4. Pour the ice cream into tubs, then freeze for at least five hours.  Serve up in cones, or between a couple of cookies (yum!) or over grilled peaches with a couple of scorched marshmallows and toasted nuts on top. 🙂

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Have a great week!