Date Archives October 2015

Engagement Cupcakes

Jess - Engagement cakes2


his weekend I was pleased enough to be able to indulge in creating some pretty, girlie, sweet and dainty little cupcakes for a friends engagement party! A chance to get out the edible glitter and pink sprinkles for a little celebration!

Lemon sponge topped with a rose of vanilla buttercream and all exaggeratingly sprinkled with freeze dried raspberries and edible glitter. I don’t have a sweet tooth so I’m not a huge baker as such but I do appreciate a good buttercream icing. And this piping bag vat of the creamy sweet icing was probably the best buttercream I’ve ever made. Using an unrefined icing sugar (Billington’s Golden Icing Sugar) worked a treat. Not only did it not need sieving which is always a bit of a dull and trivial kitchen chore but it has a natural honeyed molasses flavour which added a beautiful depth of flour and golden colour. Freckled with the seeds of some bursting ripe vanilla pods it sat swirled and temptingly onto of these fluffy lemon sponges.

A great party and lovely celebration! Although I seem to have volunteered to make the wedding cake now…

Makes around 60 mini cupcakes


  • 220g unsalted butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 220g self raising flour
  • 1 large 1stp baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 400g ‘Billington’s Golden icing sugar’
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • Freeze dried raspberries (optional)
  • Edible glitter optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 and line a mini muffin tray with some mini muffing cases (you can also use normal cupcake size but it will obviously make less)
  2. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one by one. Add the vanilla
  4. Sieve in the flour and baking power and stir to combine well.
  5. Finally stir in the lemon zest.
  6. Spoon about 1 tbsp of mixture into each muffin case and bake for 13-15 minutes until just golden and cooked.
  7. Remove from the tray and leave to cool. Repeat using the same tray until you have used up all the mixture. Leave all the cakes to cool completely.
  8. Meanwhile make the butter cream. Cream the butter with half the icing sugar until creamy.
  9. Cream in the vanilla seeds and the rest of the icing sugar.
  10. Add a few splashes of milk to thin out the mixture if it is a bit thick.
  11. Spoon into a piping bag with a nozzle shape of choice.
  12. When the cakes are cold, pipe the icing on top.
  13. Sprinkle with the raspberries and edible glitter if you like

Jess - Engagement cakes3


Apple Crumble Cake

Jess - Apple Crumble Cake3Jess - Apple Crumble Cake2


utumn spices! There is nothing I love more than an apple crumble overdosed with cinnamon, studded with butter chunks of crumble and drowned in (cold) Ambrosia custard. Heaven in a warm bowl on a winters evening by the fire. But with the Bake Off still dominating our papers, TV’s interview and food magazines like Slade at Christmas how could I not make a cake? With a visit to Granny planned for Sunday the excuse was inexcusable. And so the creation began. I absolutely adore this apple butter-jam which I used on various recipes such as my apple crumble ice cream. It is so richly flavoured and soothing. Cinnamon and mixed spice add a beautiful warmth and the substation here of some caramel flavoured muscavado sugar in the sponge keeps this cake amazingly moist and richly flavoured. I’ve added a hint of fresh lemon zest to the buttercream to cut through some of the sweetness and I’d suggest either using homemade granola as you can adjust the sugar levels appropriately.


  • 6 oz softened butter
  • 3 oz caster sugar
  • 3 oz light muscavado sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 6 oz self raising flour
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Apple Jam

  • 4 large crunchy apples, peeled and cubed
  • 100g light muscavado sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp each mixed spice and ground ginger
  • 1 knob butter
  • 100ml water


  • 125g butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 large handful of granola (recipe here) or baked crumble topping (recipe here)
  1. Line 2x 6 inch cake tins with parchment and preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Begin making the apple jam which can cool while you make the cake. Add the chopped apples to a saucepan and add the water. Over a low heat, bring the water to a simmer and gently soften the apples for about 10 minutes or so until the apples are soft and tender. Add a touch more water if needed. Once soft, drain the majority of the water keeping a little in the pan to enable it to puree well and add the sugar, spices and the butter. Mix and then blend thoroughly in a food processor until smooth and well combined.
  3. Tip back into the saucepan. If it is too thin (note it will thicken on cooling) heat gently on the hob for 5-10 minutes to thicken a little and reduce. Set aside to cool
  4. For the cakes, cream the butter and sugars until soft. Add the eggs one by one.
  5. Sift in the flour, cinnamon and baking powder and combine well.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tins and bake for around 30 minutes until cooked. Leave to cool in their tins once done.
  7. Meanwhile, make the buttercream by combining the butter, icing sugar and lemon zest in a food processor then spoon into a piping bag if you want to pipe this onto the cake.
  8. Once all elements are cooled, assemble the cake! It is pretty open to interpretation here. Pipe the buttercream or simply spread on top. Start however by spreading a layer of apple jam on the base layer cake. Top with butter cream.
  9. Place the second cake on top and top with another layer of apple jam. Finally, sprinkle over your homemade granola, cooked crumble or similar.
  10. Enjoy the flavours of Autumn!

Jess - Apple Crumble Cake4

Gaucho Coffee-Chocolate Chilli


espite my healthy lifestyle the last few weeks have been fairly boozy. What with dinner parties, celebrations and an invitation to Kensington Palace (don’t ask), heading home to the Wiltshire countryside for some fresh air couldn’t have been a better cure this weekend. Warming crowd pleasing comfort food, dog walks and long girly catchups over coffee. Saturday evening, with the ‘forage in the pantry’ kitchen all to myself it was time to get cooking these crowd pleasers. And what could be more warming and enticingly friendly than a big bowl of chilli. Whether you eat it solo, topped with guacamole and soured cream or cheese. On mash, rice, nachos, cornbread or puffing pillowing flatbreads I’ve never met a chilli hater.

I’ve religiously used the same go-to recipe for years for my chilli (see here). With such a delicious recipe to hand I’ve never felt the need to deviate? However, with an urge to avoid the booze I decided to replace the wine with coffee. Hear me out.  And some chocolate. Please hear me out. Chocolate and coffee clearly are not a sweetener here but a subtle, earthy dark and meaningful background flavour to the slow roasted beef. If I’m honest, my true inspiration for this recipe was the newly released Doble & Bignal coffee infused dark chocolate bar. Having used this delicious chocolate in my recipes before I’m well aware of its flavour. So naturally it seemed like the perfect ingredient here. Delicious and dark. Puerto Cabello and Johe cocoa beans infused with Kilimanjaro Machare and Brazilian Rainforest coffee.

So….while my usual chilli recipe is a regular go to, this is a little deviation. No wine, slow cooked using chunks or melting beef its a lovely alternative. Oh and did I mention the chocolate!?

A variation on my all time favourite chilli recipe (see here)

Serves 4

  • 500-700g diced beef (brisket works well)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 heaped tsp each- ground cumin, coriander, chilli powder, smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large red chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 dried ancho chilli (or feel free to use poblano or chilpotle)
  • 1 tbsp muscovado sugar
  • 250ml hot strong coffee
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans, beans
  • 20g dark chocolate, grated. I used Doble & Bignall’s Coffee Infused Dark Chocolate (Must be 70% plus cocoa)
  • To serve (some suggestions)- soured cream, guacamole, cornbread, rice, grated cheese, baked potatoes, nachos, flatbreads…
  1. Start by heating a large heavy based casserole dish with a splash of oil and preheat the oven to 160°C
  2. Soak the dried chilli in the hot coffee to rehydrate.
  3. Soften the onion and pepper for 10 minutes in the casserole dish and oil. Once softened add the garlic, chopped chilli, bay leaves and the ground spices. Cook out for a few more minutes. You may need to add a touch more oil if it gets too dry.
  4. Once the dried chilli is rehydrated, remove from the coffee and chop. Add to the casserole dish with a splash of the coffee and give everything a good stir. Season well.
  5. Add the rest of the coffee, the sugar and the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the diced meat and I’ve everything a good stir. Ensure the meat is fully submerged. If not, add a touch more coffee or hot water.
  6. Bring to the simmer on the hot. Once hot, put a lid on the dish and place in the oven for 3 hours in total.
  7. After the first hour, give everything a good stir. After 2 hours, stir in the kidney beans and return to the oven. If the chilli is looking too watery remove the lid. If too thick, add a splash more water.
  8. After 3 hours remove from the oven. Use a few forks to lightly pull apart any large chunks of meat which should now be very tender. Add the grated chocolate and check the taste and seasoning. At this point the chilli can be simmered for longer on the hob or int he oven to thicken and reduce the liquid or kept warm until ready to serve with whatever side you like.

Jess - Coffee, chocolate chilli con carne