Recipe for Rhubarb Crumble Cake

Thank you to Linds at Pixie Hall Cakes for this fabulously seasonal recipe for Rhubarb Crumble Cake…

 

I love this time of year as there are lots of tasty things coming into season. I try to bake with seasonal ingredients as it means that everything is super tasty if it’s at its peak and also, it means that recipes are special if they’re only available at a certain time of year. I have a customer who keeps asking me about a certain apple cake I made in the autumn and whether I have it with me. I don’t. It’ll be back next autumn. You’ve got to leave people wanting more!

So this month I have used one of my favourite ingredients and it’s now in season and available all over the place (in case it’s not growing in your garden). It’s rhubarb! I know it’s a bit old fashioned but it’s super tasty and really quite versatile. It’s delicious in a pie (my mum makes an amazing rhubarb meringue pie which might be a recipe for another post) and makes a perfect crumble. I use the crumble idea to make a crumble cake which I think is a perfect combination! The rhubarb is paired with almond and vanilla for a subtle sweetness and a crumble topping is added to the cake before baking. The top goes crisp and crunchy while the cake is tender, moist and studded with tart rhubarb. It really is delicious!

Rhubarb Crumble Cake

Ingredients:

For the topping:

1tbsp cold butter

2tbsp self raising flour

1tbsp Demerara sugar

2tbsp chopped almonds

 

For the cake:

100g butter

200g sugar

3 eggs

100g plain yogurt

1tsp vanilla extract

1/2tsp almond extract

200g self raising flour

225g rhubarb, trimmed and finely sliced

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C then grease and line an 8 inch round pan.

To make the topping, put the butter and flour in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir the sugar and almonds through the mixture and set aside.

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition.

Add the yogurt along with the vanilla and almond extracts into the bowl and continue beating until smooth.

Fold the flour carefully into the batter until it is combined, then gently stir though most of the rhubarb.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, scatter with remaining rhubarb and then sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the top.

Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean and the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed.

Allow to cool in the tin before transferring to a serving plate. This is (unsurprisingly) delicious served with custard or vanilla ice cream.

 

Linds Bestwicke runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography

 

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Top Tips for Sweet Dreams

Are you getting a good night’s sleep?

If not, your bed could be to blame. As we spend up to a third of our lives in the land of nod, it’s worth taking the time to make the right choice. The team at Aldiss share their tips…

Are you moving or setting up home for the first time? Perhaps your bed is starting to feel uncomfortable – or, even worse, springs are starting to stick out. If so, you might be considering buying a new bed. There’s a massive range our there, but the mattress is definitely the place to start as this will provide you with the comfort and support you need for a restful night’s sleep. To really find out which one is best for you, you need to visit a store that sells beds and spend some time lying on the different types of mattresses – just try not to fall asleep!

Main types of mattress

Open Coil

Open Coil Mattress A popular choice for mattresses as they are often at the entry price level. The springs  in this mattress are set out in rows, linked together by a spiral wire. This method of  construction helps to spread body weight across the mattress. By using differing  thicknesses of wire in the springs, mattresses can give firm, medium or soft levels of  support.

Pocketed

Pocketed Springs As the name suggests, the springs in these mattresses are contained in a fabric pocket.The  spring count can run into the thousands and sometimes for double layers. The key advantage  of the pocket sprung mattress is that each spring can work in isolation, giving the correct level  of support across the body and reduced roll together when the bed is shared.

Memory Foam

Memory Foam The term memory foam doesn’t mean the bed remembers your body shape, rather the material  reverts back to its original shape after being used. This type of mattress has been proven to  significantly reduce sleep movement ans reduces pressure on key points of contact such as  shoulders, back and hips. Foam has the added benefit of being resistant to dust mites and other  allergens.

Bed base options

Bed Frames

Bed frames create the focal point of a bedroom. Whether wood, metal or upholstered the variety is endless, enabling you to complement traditional or contemporary interiors. Bed frames provide support for the mattress as well as being decorative, therefore it is important you try your chosen mattress with the frame to achieve your ideal level of comfort.

Divans

Divans are a practical choice and provide optimum support for the mattress. They are particularly useful when they come with drawers or as an ottoman base to provide extra storage. Look out for hi tech extras such as ipod docks and built in lighting.

Divan Bed

Expert Advice

You are the only person who can tell if a bed is comfortable, but you can seek advice from trained members of staff who can help narrow down the initial selection. Buy for correct support and comfort for your weight and build and not just for the firmness of the mattress. When trying out a bed, wear comfortable clothing, remove any outdoor wear and lie in your normal sleeping position for quite a long time – at least five minutes.

Aldiss sell a wide range of beds and our expert team are always on hand to help you choose one that is right for you.

Denise Tollyfield’s recipe for chicken with red wine and wild mushrooms

Denise Tollyfield is a cookery presenter and food stylist. She was finalist on Gordon Ramsay’s F Word for Channel 4 and has worked alongside James Martin, Simon Rimmer and Brian Turner.

CHICKEN WITH RED WINE & WILD MUSHROOMS

Denise Tollyfield's chicken with red wine and wild mushrooms

Serves 4

Preheat oven to gas 4/ 180c/ 160 fan

4 x chicken joints (bone in breasts are good for this dish), skinned

2 tblsp rapeseed oil

1 x large onion, peeled & chopped

2 x cloves garlic, peeled & minced

1 tsp paprika

1 tblsp plain flour

200ml robust red wine

200ml hot chicken stock

1 tblsp tomato puree

2 x bay leaves

1 tsp herbes de provence

Seasoning

150g mixed wild mushrooms, wiped clean

Parsley to garnish

 

You will need a Denby cast iron casserole dish

1. Heat the oil in a large cast iron casserole.

2.Coat the chicken pieces in the paprika and 1 tblsp of the flour then fry in the hot oil for a couple of minutes to brown.

3. Add the onion and garlic and continue to saute for a few minutes.

4. Add the mushrooms and saute lightly then add the remaining flour.

5. Stir well in the pan then add the wine. Let it bubble up for a minute then add the stock, bay leaves, tomato puree seasoning & herbes de provence.

6. Cover with a lid and place in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until the chicken is tender.

7. Garnish with parsley and serve straight away with saute potatoes.

Recipe for Easter Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Aldiss.com – Norfolk’s largest range of home furnishings

Indulge in a spot of Easter baking with the children with these carrot cake cupcakes from Pixie Hall Cakes

Easter Cupckaes

There were lots of possibilities for this month’s recipe. With mothers’ day and St Patrick’s Day close together we could have had something pretty and flowery or something with Guinness or Baileys or lots of green. As you can see, I didn’t go for any of that (maybe next year!) and so, with Easter just around the corner, I thought I’d give you this great recipe for carrot cake cupcakes.

Carrot cake reminds me of Easter, spring and of my dad. It’s his favourite. I don’t actually make it very often (I’m a terrible daughter) so I made sure he got some of these when I’d made them. They have his seal of approval.

These are perfect to make with the kids. The cake recipe is slightly unusual (in the UK at least) in that it uses measuring cups rather than weight measures. I use cup measures all the time and would recommend purchasing a set if you intend to gather recipes from the internet. The vast majority of American recipes will use cups to measure the ingredients and there’s no easy way to convert from volume to weight measures. Aldiss has some gorgeous bright measuring cups.

The cupcakes are easy to make, the cream cheese topping is delicious and they are super easy to decorate. I used chocolate bunnies on mine but feel free to use whatever sweeties you like to make these beautiful.

Ingredients:

For the cakes

2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup plain yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrots (2 to 3 medium carrots)

 

For the frosting (from BBC Food)

150g softened butter

45g caster sugar

300g cream cheese (room temperature)

1/2 tsp vanilla

 

To decorate

Sprinkles

Chocolate bunnies

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, oil, sugars, yoghurt and vanilla together until smooth and well combined.

In another bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Fold this gently into the egg mixture until just combined.

Add in the carrots and stir through carefully until evenly combined.

Divide the cake mixture evenly between the cases and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden, risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and free from crumbs.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.

To make the frosting, cream the sugar, vanilla and butter together until light and fluffy. You can do this by hand or with an electric beater/mixer. Beat in the cream cheese until smooth.

Spread the icing onto the cupcakes using a butter knife or palette knife. Pour your sprinkles into a shallow dish and the roll the edges of the frosted cupcakes into them to stick to the edges. Top with a chocolate bunny or other festive decoration.

 

Linds Bestwicke runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography

 

Get juicing with Mal Harradine

Aldiss.com – Norfolk’s largest range of home furnishings

Mal Harradine

Juicing is a tasty and easy way to get your five a day,

says TV presenter and food writer Mal Harradine.

 

The days of twisting half an orange on a plastic juicer and being rewarded with a thimble full of juice for all your efforts have thankfully long gone.

The new generation of electric juicers whizz up delicious concoctions in seconds with little mess – and the machines are easy to clean.

Tower Vitablend in Cream

With more and more emphasis being placed on healthy eating, juicing is an easy way to help you get your five a day, plus, you know exactly what is going in – just pure, fresh ingredients and only natural sugars.

There are many juicers available, so the key is to decide on your budget and what you need from your machine before you go shopping.

Mal’s Tips

1.  Encourage children to make their own concoctions and they will soon be eating fruit and vegetables they might not touch otherwise.

2.  Leave the skins on your fruit and veggies where you can, as this is where many of the important nutrients are contained.

3.  Experiment with different combinations and find your favourites – you will be amazed at what tastes good.

Iced carrot & apple juice

For a refreshing drink packed full of vitamins and goodness, pour the juice over ice cubes or put in the juice and take to school, work or the gym so it’s still chilled when you are ready to drink!

3 carrots, washed

2 apples

1 orange, peeled

Ice cubes

 

Valentine’s Day Recipe for Heart Biscuits

Aldiss.com – Norfolk’s largest range of home furnishings

Love is in the air this Valentine’s with this recipe for heart biscuits from Pixie Hall Cakes

Valentines Heart Cookies

Ah February, this month is full of love and cuddling up on the cold, dark evenings and hoping that spring will soon arrive. There are snowdrops peeking through the frosty grass in the church yard and spring bulbs are just showing their bright green stems in the garden. It’s nearly here! Not too much longer!

First we’ll get to Valentine’s Day. I know it can be commercialised and cheesy. The shops at this time of year are full of red and pink, in anticipation for the big day. I must admit, we’re not really into Valentine’s Day in our house. I am, however, into twee baking with lots of cutesy hearts. I can’t help it! I’m a total sucker for novelty.

So, with this in mind I’ve made these heart biscuits for you this month. They take a little time to put together but they are incredibly cute. You need a really good heart cutter with crisp corners and rounded edges (mine wasn’t quite perfect so the hearts came out a little pointy at the top). You also need a little time set aside to chill the dough so that you can work with it easily. I got the idea for this recipe from Laurens Latest but changed up the recipe and method a little bit.

Ingredients:

115g softened butter

115g sugar

1 egg

½ tsp vanilla

200g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

Red food colouring

Method:

In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. You can do this by hand or with a mixer.

Add the egg and vanilla and mix again until thoroughly combined.

Stir in the flour and baking powder until a dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently until smooth.

Take one third of the dough and colour it red. You might need to use gloves for this or alternatively, pop the dough and the colouring into a sealable freezer bag and knead until thoroughly mixed.

Wrap both of the doughs in cling film and place in the fridge for around 30 minutes.

Take out the red dough and roll out thickly. Take your heart cutter and cut the dough and form the hearts into 2 stacks.

Take the plain dough and tear a couple of pieces off, roll them into sausages the same length as the heart stacks and pinch along one side to form a triangular shape. Stick these pieces in the cleft of the hearts (between the two rounded lumps at the top).

Roll out the rest of the vanilla dough and, starting at the point of the hearts, cover the outside with the dough and trim at the end. Squeeze the join together, gently round out the shape a little and pop them back in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a couple of baking sheets with baking parchment. Using a sharp knife, slice the cookie logs into disks around 1/2cm thick. Place them on the baking sheet leaving a little room for the dough to spread.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until pale golden at the edges.

Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Linds Bestwicke runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography

 

Recipe for Apple and Date Slice

Aldiss.com – Norfolk’s largest range of home furnishings

If you are still sticking to your new year’s resolution of trying to eat healthier, then this recipe for a healthier treat from Pixie Hall Cakes is for you.

So here we are in 2015! I hope you have all recovered from the festive season and things are getting back to normal. I’m sure some of you will have resolved to get healthier this year and the last thing you want to think about is cake. Sorry. As someone who spends their time making all things chocolatey, sugary and sweet; I get a lot of hate at this time of year. People are convinced that I’m out to scupper their new healthy regimes and I promise, I’m not. I just believe that a healthy diet can still include cake. Just not a whole cake and not everyday. It’s all about moderation.

Now, that being said, I have a healthier recipe for you this month. Please note I say healthiER and not healthy. There is still sugar and butter in this cake and though it is in more modest quantities than a chocolate cake it is definitely there. I still wouldn’t recommend eating the whole thing in one sitting but you shouldn’t feel guilty about enjoying a slice or 2.

My mum used to make a version of these date and apple slices when we were kids. They’re perfect for tucking into lunch boxes or for enjoying with a cup of tea mid morning (as I am doing while I write this). The mixture comes together really quickly with the use of a food processor but if you don’t have one, it’s easy to make by hand.

The wholemeal flour adds a delicious, nutty texture and flavour that you just can’t get with a refined flour and is a welcome addition. There is no sugar added to the filling so the flavour of the apples shines through and the sticky dates add a lovely chewy texture and toffee sweetness. There’s a certain simple charm to the flavours here and there wasn’t much that I changed from the ones my mum made all those years ago.

Recipe for Date and Apple Slice

Recipe for Apple and Date Slice

Ingredients

For the shortcake:

200g wholemeal flour

100g plain flour

Pinch of salt

150g butter, cubed

100g caster sugar

1 egg, beaten

2tbsp milk

 

For the filling:

2 large eating apples

1 tbsp lemon juice

100g dried dates

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 23cm square tin with baking parchment.

If you’re making these by hand:

Place the flours and salt into a large bowl and stir together, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar, egg and milk until it forms a dough.

If you’re using a food processor:

Put the flours, salt, sugar and butter into the mixer and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and milk and pulse again until a dough is formed.

Knead the dough briefly on a lightly floured surface and cut in half. Press half the mixture into the base of the tin using you fingers and make sure it is even.

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and place them into a bowl with the lemon juice. Chop the dates (I find it easiest to use scissors) into the bowl and mix together until well coated with the juice.

Spread the apples and dates over the shortcake base in an even layer. Crumble the rest of the shortcake dough over the top of the apples and gently press down. It doesn’t matter if there is some filling showing through the gaps but try and press the dough together so it holds when you slice it up later.

Bake the slices or 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool in the tin. Slice into 9 or 12 and enjoy!

 

Linds Bestwicke runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.

Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography