5 Sweet Bakes for Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day!
Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Pineapple Tray Bake

As with most things right now, it feels like Mother’s Day is on hold – indefinitely. And since it’s usually accompanied by lots of blossom on the trees and those first couple of warm, sunny days – it also kind of feels like Spring itself is on hold for the time being too. My Mum sent a little message on our family whatsapp group the other day telling me and my brother to forget about cards and presents this year – that she’d much rather see us anyway, but can’t. She and my Dad went into isolation on Monday – since they’re both in their sixties (sorry Mum, but the jig is up!) and I’m honestly not sure when we’re all going to be able to crowd around a table together again. It’s all so sad and uncertain – but necessary, of course. I’ll still get to see her from the street, I guess! Plus, I think we’re planning on having a family Facetime on Sunday evening so we can all watch Race Across the World together (have you been watching it? I want the Mum and son team to win!).

Anyway, the good thing is that for a lot of us the enforced isolation doesn’t mean separation from our family – but a hell of a lot more time spent together! So, even if you’re Mum’s already driving you mental from all the extra time spent together – here are five sweet bakes to surprise her with this Mother’s Day. 💛

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Pineapple Flowers

Pineapple and Coconut Traybake

Quite possibly one of my favourite bakes ever, this Pineapple and Coconut Tray-bake is minimum effort, maximum impact – and tastes lovely too. The pineapple cake looks nothing special when it comes out of the oven, but gets a serious glow-up with a thick layer of creamy, coconut frosting, and yellow flowers made from dried coconut rounds.

I’ve even got a video of me making this cake (and Bungle scoffing half of the pineapple used to make it…) over on my IGTV.

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Chocolate Brownies Extra Gooey

Perfectly Gooey Chocolate Brownies

Who can resist a plated pyramid of Perfectly Gooey, Chocolate Brownies as big as Duplo Blocks? Not I. There are a tonne of chocolate brownie recipes out there – and I’ve tried a fair few myself – but this is my go-to. If you like your brownie with a slightly molten middle, then this is the one for you and yo momma.

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Lemon and Rose Drizzle Cake

Lemon and Rose Drizzle Cake

Everyone loves a good lemon drizzle cake; they’re a guaranteed crowd-pleaser and they’re pretty difficult to cock up. This Lemon and Rose Drizzle Cake gets a slight floral pick-me-up from some dried rose petals. The rose takes the slight bite out of the lemon – so if you’re a fan of a drizzle cake on the sweet side rather than the sour side, then this one’s for you.

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Coffe, Maple and Walnut Cake

Coffee, Maple and Walnut Cake

Yep, that’s a Father’s Day card in the shot – but this Coffee, Maple and Walnut Cake is perfect for Mums too. A hefty glug of maple syrup and some brown sugar gives it a slightly sweeter, vanilla latte kind of taste.

Cakes and Bakes for Mother's Day - The Cardiff Cwtch - Strawberry Picnic Cake

Strawberry Picnic Cake

Another one of my favourite easy bakes – this Strawberry Picnic Traybake divides up perfectly into sweet, snack-sized pink cakes. Perfect to share out between the family with a blob of whipped cream and tea and coffee after a bang-up Mother’s Day Roast. 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing Mums, soon-to-be Mums and should-be Mums out there, but most of all to my lovely mama. Stay safe everyone x

Cheat’s Sourdough Pizza

Mamma mia! No more faffing around with sourdough starters – just soft and chewy (and scoffable) pizza in a snap…
Cheat's Sourdough Pizza - The Cardiff Cwtch

Look, you can chuck whatever the hell you want on top of a pizza – pineapples, mushrooms or just plain old cheese and tomato, it doesn’t bother me – it’s the base that’s always been the deal breaker for me. It’s got to be thin and slightly crisp underneath (if you’re one of those people who are partial to deep dish then you can just go ahead and let yourself out right now). It’s got to be evenly cooked all the way through (how many times have I made pizza at home only to end up with a soggy middle?). And lastly, the crust has got to be soft and chewy – the archetype for a good sourdough pizza. The best sourdough pizza I’ve ever eaten was at Franco Manca back when I lived in London. Sunny dragged me to this tiny canteen in Brixton, shoved a menu under my nose and then quietly informed me that no other pizza would ever compare to what I was about to eat. And he was right. If you’ve ever been to Franco Manca then you’ll know they’ve got quite a small and specific menu; it’s all about stripping pizza back, using only top quality ingredients and instead of doing lots of different flavours and toppings pretty well – they do only three or four, but do them to perfection. And the sourdough base? Oh lordy.

Since then (and since moving far away from Franco Manca…) I’ve been desperately trying to come up with a sourdough pizza dupe that I can make at home. Trouble is, it’s near impossible to replicate that soft and chewy texture and crisp underside without a proper pizza oven. Still, I wanted to see if I could find a way around that slight handicap. I’ve tried sourdough starters (too much faff), I’ve tried pizza stones, I’ve tried about fifty different doughs, and I have stretched and tossed (behave) until my arms have ached… Have I ever come anywhere close to replicating that pillowy soft vehicle for cheese and tomato? Have I heck. Until now! It’s pretty damn close, and pretty damn good. Even better, it doesn’t involve keeping a jar of flour, water and yeast alive for at least a week beforehand (I mean I have a dog, I don’t need another pet to feed), nor does it require any vigorous stretching or acrobatic throwing. Just some light kneading, an hour to prove and that’s it. Part cook it on a hot skillet to crisp up the base, and then finish it off under the grill. Easy. 🙂

Sourdough Pizza without a Sourdough Starter - The Cardiff Cwtch

Cheat’s Sourdough Pizza

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1 tsp dried active yeast*
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 75ml warm water
  • 200ml warm semi skimmed milk
  • 150ml plain yogurt
  • 50ml sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • olive oil

*make sure you use dried active yeast instead of instant yeast for this recipe – it creates a softer, chewier dough with a better rise.

For the toppings:

  • Tomato Passata
  • Mozzarella
  • Handful of chopped basil leaves
Easy Sourdough Pizza - No Sourdough Starter - The Cardiff Cwtch - Chewy Pizza Base
Method
  1. Pour the warm water and honey into a large mixing bowl, and then stir in the yeast. Leave the yeast to activate for ten minutes (you should start to see tiny pin-prick bubbles across the surface of the water or a slight brown foam when it’s ready).
  2. Next, stir in the warm milk, yogurt, sour cream, salt and flour. Stir together to create a sticky (very sticky!) dough. Oil your hands with some of the olive oil, then turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. It’ll be sticky, it’ll be messy – but persevere with it, it’ll be worth it in the end!
  3. Pop the dough into a lightly oil bowl, cover with clingfilm, and then leave somewhere warm for an hour until doubled in size.
  4. Split the dough (this recipe creates plenty of it, so wrap tightly whatever you’re not going to use with clingfilm and stick it in the fridge) and then turn it out onto a floured surface. No need to stretch it or work it, just roll it out thinly into whatever shape of pizza you’re going for.
  5. Heat up a frying pan, or flat skillet until it’s burning hot. Lightly brush one side of the pizza with olive oil, then place face down onto the frying pan. Heat for a couple of minutes on one side, and then lightly brush with oil and flip it. You’ll know when to flip because bubbles will start to rise on the surface of the dough as it cooks. Cook for no more than a minute and then take it off the heat.
  6. Spread the tomato passata across the bubbled side of the pizza, followed by the mozzarella (as well as whatever other toppings you fancy), then cook it under the grill in the oven for about 3-5 minutes until the cheese starts to bubble. Sprinkle with basil, then scoff!

Have a lovely week! 🍕🍕🍕

Simple Sunday Morning Oat Loaf

…for an absolutely banging Beans on Toast…
Simple Sunday Morning Oat Loaf - Bread Recipes - The Cardiff Cwtch

Seriously, is there anything better than a steaming plate of beans on toast? Especially this time of year when it’s grim and gloomy, and you get home in the dark and the drizzle and you just can’t be bothered to cook and the Chinese Takeaway is bloody closed (ours takes a three week long break every January on a count of Chinese New Year – EXACTLY when I need them the most – the nerve!)… For breakfast, lunch or brinner (not a typo – that’s “breakfast for dinner” for the uninitiated – you’re welcome btw), it’s always a winner when you’re in a pinch and just can’t be arsed to cook anything else.

(…Or blog about anything else? Hey c’mon, I’m having a slow January, alright?)

There’s always a healthy stash of tins of baked beans in my kitchen cupboard (none of that Branston nonsense; I’m a Heinz until I die kinda girl) – that’s the easy bit – it’s the bread that’s the trickier side to this duo. It’s got to be a doorstop wedge of fluffy, perfectly toasted bread to compliment a soggy slop of beans – which isn’t necessarily as readily available as it sounds. Thankfully, my husband’s taken up the only area of baking that I seriously struggle with and I’ve been finding myself drowning in homemade loaves (…definitely not complaining). Last weekend he played around with a lovely recipe fished out of an old recipe book for Oatmeal Bread – which made a pillowy soft loaf with a crispy, golden crust. As soon as I chewed down on a corner I knew it was THE weekend loaf to have on the recipe roster – perfect for sandwiches, dippy eggs and – oh yes – a banging plate of beans on toast. 🙂

Golden Retriever - The Cardiff CwtchSimple Sunday Morning Oat Loaf - Bread Recipes - The Cardiff Cwtch

Simple Sunday Morning Oat Loaf

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 170g strong, white flour
  • 85g wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 30g melted butter
  • 1 tsp clear honey
  • 15g dried active yeast
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 55g porridge oats
  • 200ml semi skimmed milk

To glaze:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp porridge oats
Simple Sunday Morning Oat Loaf - Bread Recipes - The Cardiff Cwtch
Method
  1. Gently boil the milk, then pour into a mixing bowl with the oats. Allow it to cool to about 30°C, then stir in the honey and yeast. Leave for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to do it’s thing (you should start to see tiny, pinprick bubbles – or a slight foam).
  2. Next, add the egg and melted butter (make sure it’s cooled – you don’t want to scramble your egg!). Then, sift in both the strong white flour and wholemeal flour, as well as the salt. Stir together to make a soft dough.
  3. Lightly oil your hands, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, then knead by hand for about ten minutes – or until you get a smooth, stretchy dough.
  4. Oil a mixing boil, then chuck in the dough, cover it with clingfilm and leave it somewhere warm to double in size for about an hour and a half.
  5. Lightly grease a 1 lb loaf tin. Knock back the dough, then roughly shape it into a loaf and pop it in the tin. Cover, then leave somewhere warm to rise again for another hour.
  6. Heat your oven to 220°C (fan). Glaze the surface of the loaf with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with oats. Bake for 30 minutes (after 15 minutes cover with paper if you think the crust is going to brown too much), then leave to cool before slicing up and scoffing with great big globs of butter.

Have a lovely week everyone! 🙂

Almond and Raspberry Cake

Long live The Crimbo Limbo…
Almond and Raspberry Cake - The Cardiff Cwtch

The Crimbo Limbo, Twixtmas… whatever you call it, the gap between Christmas and New Year’s a bit of a weird one, isn’t it? I used to hate it as a kid; even though there’s still the New Year celebrations to come, Christmas is officially over. All the presents around the tree are gone, the family and friends who’ve come to stay are gone too and there’s about half the Sainsbury’s Cheese Counter and a Turkey carcass shoved into the fridge. It always felt a little sad to me as a kid, but now? I LOVE IT. Fridge full of cheese? Um, yes please. Enough leftovers to save me cooking for a week? Banging. A Bond film on the TV every night? Don’t mind if I do. Cake for breakfast? Why the hell not.

It’s the one time of year where adulting officially goes out the window and – even better – nobody’s going to think any less of you for it or worry that you’ve gone a bit mad. Brilliant! I was tempted to just whack my coat on over my Christmas PJs to take Bungle for his walk this morning, but changed my mind at the last minute. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere, I guess, and for me that line falls somewhere between the neighbours seeing me in my jammies and scoffing cake for breakfast. Specifically, this Almond and Raspberry Cake – which I whipped up last minute on Christmas Eve and was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a total winner. It’s pretty enough to decorate a festive table, moist enough to last through the limbo, and slightly sour enough to be a fresh change when you’ve dipped into the tub of chocolates a few too many times. Eat it warm with fresh cream or cold for breakfast, that’s totally up to you – I won’t tell! 😉

Christmas Golden Retriever - Raspberry and Almond Cake - The Cardiff Cwtch

Almond and Raspberry Cake

Ingredients
  • 250g Raspberries
  • 125g Butter
  • 175g Caster Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 100g Self Raising Flour
  • 50g Ground Almonds
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 100ml Milk
  • 25g Flaked Almonds
Method
  1. Set your oven to 170° and grease a 20cm open bottom cake tin.  Sprinkle with a little flour and then set aside.
  2. In your mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar.  Stir in the egg.
  3. In a separate bowl sift together most of the dry ingredients; that’s the flour, ground almonds and salt.  Combine with the wet ingredients to make a very dry batter (don’t worry, it’ll come together during the next step!).
  4. Stir in the milk.
  5. Pour the batter into your cake tin and smooth over the surface.  Arrange the raspberries (hole down) on top, staring in the middle and working your way out to the edge.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, scatter with flaked almonds and powdered sugar and then serve up with cream. 🙂

Hope you’re having a lovely Crimbo Limbo/Twixtmas!

Sunny’s Orange and Cinnamon Swirl Bread

What do you get when you cross a Toasted Tea Cake with a Cinnamon Bun?

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So, my husband has decided to get into baking – more specifically, baking bread – which I am absolutely over the moon about because I love scoffing bread. Soft and doughy homemade bread? Even better. The trouble is, I’ve never been very good at baking it myself; I’m too experimental and slapdash when it comes to measurements and ingredients, and I just don’t have the patience or the muscle for kneading into being the perfect, pillowy soft dough that makes a good loaf. I feel like there’s an exact science and math to bread making that just doesn’t suit my free and flippant style in the kitchen (Maths, ew!). Sunny, though? He’s exactly the opposite; baking bread suits him perfectly. He’s logical and precise to the ounce, patient enough to follow a recipe to the letter, and he’s got the knuckles and gun-show necessary for flinging dough around.

…Enough gushing about my husband’s arms.

A couple of weekends ago he tore my kitchen apart making his first ever, sweet loaf – this Orange and Cinnamon Swirl Bread, which would make the perfect addition to any Christmas breakfast table. It’s a soft dough, but slices well – and the flavours kind of remind me of toasted tea cakes and cinnamon buns (both bread items that I absolutely love!). It’s definitely a keeper… along with the hubs. 😉

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Sunny’s Orange and Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Ingredients
  • 30g dried active yeast
  • 200ml lukewarm milk
  • 85ml smooth orange juice
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 30g soft butter
  • 550g strong white flour
  • pinch of salt
  • zest from one orange
For the filling:
  • 85g demerara sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 30g melted butter
Orange and Cinnamon Swirl Bread - The Cardiff Cwtch
Method
  1. Set up two mixing bowls. Into the first, activate the yeast with a little of the warm milk – and into the second, pour in the orange juice, butter and beaten egg with the rest of the milk. Stir the yeast gently until it’s dissolved (you should start to see a few bubbles).
  2. Into a third bowl, sift the flour with the sugar, orange zest and salt. Make a little well in the middle, then pour in the contents of the other two bowls. Stir together to make a soft, sticky dough – then turn it out onto a clean surface and knead for at least 10 minutes. (A lot people like to flour their work surface – but I don’t like adding more flour to my dough, so I just oil my hands and prepare to get a little sticky! Perseverance is key; the dough will come together!)
  3. Pop the dough into a greased bowl, cover with clingfilm or a damp (but clean!) tea towel and then leave somewhere warm to double in size for at least an hour.
  4. To make the filling, mix together the demerara sugar, cinnamon, mixed spice and melted butter.
  5. Knock back the dough and – using a little flour this time – roll it out into a rectangle. Spread the filling right to the corners, then roll tight like a swiss roll. Pop it onto a lined baking tray – seam side down, with the ends tucked under. Leave it somewhere warm to rise again for another 20 minutes or so.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes at 190°C. 🙂

Have a great week!