Fairy Cakes

Fairy Cakes

 

These dainty little fairy cakes are very easy to make. The light sponge and delicate flavoured buttercream make them enjoyable to be eaten with your favourite cuppa.

 

Fairy Cakes
Prepares: 9 or 12 cakes
 
  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 15–18 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the sponge
  • 140g (5 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour (1 cup)
  • 115g (4 oz) butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 115g (4 oz) caster/white sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk

  • For the filling
  • 115g (4 oz) butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
  • 170g (6 oz) icing/powdered sugar (1½ cups)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • icing/powdered sugar to dust

  • Equipment
  • 12-cup bun or muffin tin lined with 9 or 12 paper baking cases. (The standard size baking cases are smaller in the U.K. and so the mixture will be enough to make 12. Being larger in North America, they will only make 9.)


  1. Method
  2. For the sponge
  3. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5)

  4. Sift the flour into a bowl and put to one side.

  5. Lightly whisk the eggs and vanilla extract together in a small bowl using a balloon whisk. Again, put to one side.

  6. Now cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy using a free-standing mixer or hand-held electric mixer.

  7. Next, gradually beat in the eggs and 2 tablespoons of the flour.

  8. Fold in the remaining flour adding the milk to make a soft consistency.

  9. Spoon into the baking cases, filling them two-thirds full.

  10. Bake for 15–18 minutes until the top of the cakes spring back when lightly touched with the tip of the finger.

  11. Leave for one minute and then remove the cakes to a cooling rack to become cold.

  12. For the buttercream filling
  13. Beat the butter until it is really soft.

  14. Slowly add half the icing/powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Then beat in the remaining sugar along with the vanilla extract until soft and creamy.

  15. To finish
  16. Cut a cone from the centre of each cake using a small pointed knife held at angle. Cut each cone in half to create two wings.

  17. Next, spoon a generous portion of buttercream into each hole and carefully place each pair of ‘wings’ on top with the cut edges facing down into the buttercream.

  18. Dust with icing/powdered sugar.

 

Lemon Surprise Pudding

This week we’ve had a couple of nights where it feels quite cool – it seems as though the time has come to say goodbye to summer and all those lovely berry desserts.

The coming of fall, although a beautiful but short season here in Ontario, will mean that winter is just around the corner. Now being a summer person, that is not my favourite time of year. It means there is often a very reluctant dog (our yellow labrador) and us to venture out on walks. The bright sunny, even snowy days, are a delight – it’s the ice and wind I could do without!

So – where I was going – it seems that it’s now time to start bringing out the fall recipes with that bit of comfort food about them. The first one we had again for supper last evening – a Lemon Surprise Pudding – which has just been added to the blog. I hope that you will want to try it.

 

Lemon Surprise Pudding

 

This Lemon Surprise Pudding makes a lovely, citrus dessert. The mixture creates a thick, very lemony sauce that is covered with a really light and airy sponge.

 

Lemon Surprise Pudding
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 35 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 2 large lemons
  • 55g (2 oz) butter, softened (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 115g (4 oz) caster/white sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 55g (2 oz) plain/cake and pastry flour (⅓ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 150ml (5 fl oz) full fat/whole milk (⅔ cup)

  • To serve
  • Double/whipping or heavy cream

  • Equipment
  • 1 litre ( 1¾ pint) (4 cups) ovenproof dish
  • roasting tin/pan


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)

  3. First, zest one of the lemons and then squeeze out the juice from both of them. The juice should yield 150 ml (5 fl oz) (⅔ cup).

  4. Cream the butter and lemon zest together in a large bowl. Then, a spoonful at a time, add the sugar, beating well between each addition, until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.

  5. Separate the eggs, putting the whites into a bowl to whip later and adding the yolks to the mixture.

  6. Next sieve the flour into a separate bowl, then add a tablespoon of flour, followed by a tablespoon of milk to the mixture. Beat well between each addition until all the flour and milk have been incorporated.

  7. Now, slowly add the lemon juice to the sponge mixture. It may start to curdle but that will not be a problem.

  8. Finally, whip the egg whites until they are just stiff and then lightly fold into the mixture.

  9. Generously butter the ovenproof dish and then pour in the mixture.

  10. Bring a kettle of water to the boil. Place the ovenproof dish in the roasting tin/pan and then add the boiling water to the tin/pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ovenproof dish.

  11. Bake for 35 minutes until the top begins to brown and the sponge springs back when lightly pressed with the tip of a finger.

  12. Serve immediately along with a jug of cream. Surprise! Beneath the very light and airy sponge, you’ll find a lovely, thick lemon sauce at the bottom of the dish.

 

Plum Cobbler

Plum Cobbler

 

A traditional fruit cobbler where juicy plums are baked, topped with balls of a soft dough, and sprinkled with sugar.

 

Plum Cobbler
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Preparation time: 25 minutes
  • Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 620g (1 lb 6 oz) plums (about 15)
  • 115g (4 oz) caster/white sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp) + 2 tbsp
  • 2 tsp cornflour/cornstarch
  • 170g (6 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour (1½ cups)
  • 70g (2½ oz) chilled butter, diced (¼ cup + 1 tbsp, or ⅝ stick)
  • 120ml (4 fl oz) buttermilk or whole natural yogurt (½ cup)

  • Equipment
  • 23 x 12cm (9 x 5 inches) (2 litre) ovenproof dish


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)

  3. Wash and halve plums. Remove the stones and cut the fruit into chunks, placing them in a bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of sugar and cornflour/cornstarch and toss to coat. Tip into the ovenproof dish and set aside.

  4. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles small crumbs. Mix in 70g (2½ oz) sugar. Stir through the buttermilk or yogurt until combined. A food processor does all of this in no time.

  5. Scatter balls of the dough over the plums, leaving some of the fruit exposed. The balls of dough will expand when cooked.

  6. Sprinkle the top with the remaining sugar and bake for 40 minutes until the juices are bubbling and the top is pale golden in colour.

 

Old Fashioned Rock Cakes

Old Fashioned Rock Cakes

 

Scrumptious, light and crumbly little rock cakes that are made with mixed fruits and spices.

 

Old Fashioned Rock Cakes
Prepares: 12 cakes
 
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 18 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 325g (12 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour (3 cups)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 170g (6 oz) light brown sugar (¾ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • ¼ nutmeg, grated
  • ½ tsp mixed spice (or ½ tsp made up of cinnamon, ground cloves and ground ginger)
  • 170g (6 oz) butter, softened (¾ cup, or 1½ sticks)
  • 40g (1½ oz) currants (¼ cup)
  • 40g (1½ oz) sultanas (¼ cup)
  • 40g (1½ oz) raisins (¼ cup)
  • 1 egg, large (U.K.)/ extra large (N.A.), beaten
  • 1–2 tbsp milk

  • Equipment
  • 2 baking sheets/baking trays, lined with parchment paper


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5)

  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, breaking up any lumps of sugar that cling together. Next mix in the spices.

  4. Add the butter and rub in using the fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

  5. Now stir through the dried fruits.

  6. Sprinkle the egg over the mixture and start to bind in, adding a little milk, if necessary, until a stiff dough has formed.

  7. Make 12 mounds of the dough on the baking sheets but do not smooth them out, the surface needs to look irregular.

  8. Bake in the oven for 18 minutes until they become golden brown.

  9. Remove from the oven and leave for a couple of minutes to cool a little. Transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling and then store in an airtight container.

 

White Milk Bread

White Milk Bread

 

If your day-to-day bread is used for sandwiches or for toasting, you might want to try this milk bread. It produces a softer, tighter crumb and a softer crust than breads made with water.

Bread isn’t difficult if you break the process down into 3 steps. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.

 

White Milk Bread
Prepares: 1 loaf
 
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 5–10 minutes
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (3½ cups)
  • 335ml (11¾ fl oz) semi-skimmed/2% milk (warm, about 40°C/100°F) (1⅓ cups + 1 tbsp)
  • 10g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 10g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 25g (1 oz) caster sugar/fine white sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 32g (1¼ oz) unsalted butter (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)
  • olive oil for oiling the bowl and tin


  1. Method

  2. Step 1
  3. Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the milk and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the milk. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  4. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.

  5. In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, yeast, sugar, and butter.

  6. Step 2
  7. At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt, yeast, and sugar to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.

  8. Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  9. Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  10. Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  11. Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  12. The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  13. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  14. Depending on the kind of loaf you want, prepare for the shaping while you wait. If you want a classic rectangular shape as shown in the photograph, prepare a loaf tin. (For this amount of dough, I use one which measures 23.5 × 13.3 × 7cm /9¼ × 5¼ × 3 in. Lightly oil the whole of the inside to prevent the loaf sticking.) If making a natural-shaped loaf, say a cob or a boule, line a baking tray with baking parchment.

  15. Step 3
  16. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Then flatten it out into a rectangle, with a short side towards you. Lift the dough from the furthest edge and fold it down towards you about half way. Press the edge down with the heel of your hand. Turn the dough round and repeat. Then shape the dough.

  17. For the classic shape
  18. Flatten the dough into a rectangle, short side towards you, with the width about the length of the loaf tin. Roll the dough up away from you making sure that the join ends up at the bottom. Place the dough in the tin, moulding as necessary to make sure it's even along its length.

  19. For a natural shape
  20. Rotate the dough into a ball and shape appropriately. Place on the baking tray.

  21. Cover with the tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for at least another hour. You can tell when it's ready when it's doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  22. Before the end of the hour, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F (gas mark 6).

  23. Dust the top of the dough with flour and slash the top lengthways with a sharp knife. Then bake for 35–40 minutes or until nicely browned. Turn out the loaf and tap it on the bottom – it should sound hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.



  24. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated: March 10, 2017

Crêpes with Lemon and Sugar

Crêpes with Lemon and Sugar

 

A batch of crepes folded into quarters then drizzled with lemon juice and sprinkled with sugar make a very light version of the traditional English pancake.

 

Crêpes with Lemon and Sugar
Prepares: 8–10 large crêpes
 
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Standing time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: About 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 110g/4 oz plain flour/cake and pastry flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs (U.K.)/extra large eggs (N.A.)
  • 200ml/7½ fl oz semi-skimmed milk mixed with 75 ml/2½ fl oz water
  • 50g/2 oz butter

  • To serve
  • Caster sugar/fine white sugar
  • 1 lemon, halved

  • Equipment
  • A 25.5cm/10 inch heavy gauge aluminium frying pan


  1. Method
  2. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.

  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Using an electric whisk or a balloon whisk, whisk the eggs into the flour gradually adding the milk and incorporating the flour from around the edge of the bowl. Scrape any remaining flour down from around the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and whisk again until all the mixture is smooth. It should be the consistency of thin cream. Set aside for 20 minutes.

  4. Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2 and place five plates in the oven to warm.

  5. Melt the butter in the pan. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the butter into the batter and whisk it in. Pour the remainder into a small bowl and reserve it to smear the pan between cooking each crêpe using a wodge of kitchen paper.

  6. Get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to a medium setting.

  7. Use about 3 tablespoons of batter for each pancake. It is easier to measure this into a ladle or measuring cup first and use this to tip the batter into the pan in one go. Using the ladle or cup, pour the batter quickly into the centre of the pan at the same time tipping it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated. If there are any holes, just fill them in with the batter using a teaspoon. It should take less than a minute to for the underside to turn golden. Check by lifting the edge with a palette knife.

  8. Flip the pancake over with the palette knife and cook the other side until golden. This side will need less time to cook. Then slide it out of the pan onto a warmed plate.

  9. Continue until all the batter is used. Overlap the pancakes on the warmed plate as you go, keeping them warm in the oven covered loosely with foil.

  10. Serve with some juice of the lemon squeezed over the pancake and a generous sprinkling of sugar. They can then be rolled or folded into quarters.

 

Soda Bread

Soda Bread

 

Soda bread is delicious in its own right with soup or stews, with cheese, or just spread with butter. And it’s also a quick and easy solution if you want a homemade bread and you suddenly find you’re out of yeast.

 

Soda Bread
 
  • Preparation time: About 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) plain white/cake & pastry flour* (3½ cups)
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
  • 400ml (14 fl oz) buttermilk (1⅔ cups)


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and then stir in the buttermilk. Once all the flour has been taken up by the liquid, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured worktop, fold it in on itself a few times and shape it into a ball. It doesn’t need kneading.

  4. Place on the baking tray and flatten it slightly. Then cut a cross deeply into the dough, almost cutting it into quarters. A deep cut is essential to get the heat into the loaf. Lightly dust with flour.

  5. Bake for 30 minutes until nicely browned. Turn over the loaf and tap it on the bottom – it should sound hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

  6. Soda bread doesn’t keep as well as yeast bread, so either eat the same day or freeze.



  7. *An alternative is to use 250g/9 oz plain/cake & pastry flour and 250g/9 oz wholemeal/whole wheat flour (shown above)

Updated: March 10, 2017

Simple White Bread

Simple White Bread

 

A basic white bread to start with, if you’re just getting into baking.

Bread isn’t difficult if you break the process down into 3 steps. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.

 

Simple White Bread
 
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 5–10 minutes
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (3½ cups)
  • 10g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 10g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 30g (1 oz) unsalted butter (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)
  • 325ml (11 fl oz) water (1⅓ cups)
  • olive oil for oiling the bowl and tin


  1. Method

  2. Step 1
  3. Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the water. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  4. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.

  5. In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, yeast, and butter.

  6. Step 2
  7. At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt and yeast to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.

  8. Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  9. Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  10. Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  11. Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  12. The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  13. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  14. Depending on the kind of loaf you want, prepare for the shaping while you wait. If you want a classic rectangular shape as shown in the photograph, prepare a loaf tin. (For this amount of dough, I use one which measures 23.5 × 13.3 × 7cm /9¼ × 5¼ × 3 in. Lightly oil the whole of the inside to prevent the loaf sticking.) If making a natural-shaped loaf, say a cob or a boule, line a baking tray with baking parchment.

  15. Step 3
  16. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Then flatten it out into a rectangle, with a short side towards you. Lift the dough from the furthest edge and fold it down towards you about half way. Press the edge down with the heel of your hand. Turn the dough round and repeat. Then shape the dough.

  17. For the classic shape
  18. Flatten the dough into a rectangle, short side towards you, with the width about the length of the loaf tin. Roll the dough up away from you making sure that the join ends up at the bottom. Place the dough in the tin, moulding as necessary to make sure it's even along its length.

  19. For a natural shape
  20. Rotate the dough into a ball and shape appropriately. Place on the baking tray.

  21. Cover with the tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for at least another hour. You can tell when it's ready when it's doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  22. Before the end of the hour, preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F (gas mark 8).

  23. Dust the top of the dough with flour and slash the top lengthways with a sharp knife. Add about 250ml/½ pint of boiling water to a roasting tray and place it on a rack at the bottom of the oven to create some steam (this makes the crust crisper). Then bake for 20 minutes, turning the oven down to 200°C/400°F (gas mark 6) for a further 20 minutes, or until nicely browned. Turn out the loaf and tap it on the bottom – it should sound hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.



  24. Tip
  25. Many recipes recommend using warm water to make the yeast work more quickly. However, the flavour is improved if the process takes place more slowly. I use water at room temperature or even a little cooler.

  26. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated: March 10, 2017