Category Archives: Recipe

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

For his birthday every year I bake my son a birthday cake. Each year he presents me with a set of grand plans for the cake, and each year I tone down his idea a little to something I can manage with my limited skills. Over the years I’ve learned how to bake pretty darn good cakes, but decorating them is where I fall down. I don’t like to disappoint, so when he asked for a Pokemon birthday cake, then rattled off an extensive list of characters I decided it would be best to make a simple Pokeball design with a colourful rainbow sponge inside.

It’s actually very simple and you don’t need loads of cake decorating skills to do it. If you can roll out icing and cut shapes out with a knife, you’ve got all the skills you need.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

The finish of my cake was not perfect, but I had already spent a lot of time faffing about with the rainbow layers, and no one cared really. He was thrilled with his birthday cake, which is all that matters really.

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

You will need:

5 layers of sponge cake, rainbow coloured if you like
Vanilla buttercream, I used 2 tubs of Betty Crocker
1 packet of marzipan
2 packets of white ready to roll royal icing
Red ready to roll royal icing
Black ready to roll royal icing
Icing sugar
Water
A cake board

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

To begin with I baked the rainbow layers. I made up a double batch of my victoria sponge recipe and using a set of scales divided it into equal portions. I then mixed through a few drops of the colouring from this set of 8 food paste colours. When you do this remember that the colour darkens in the oven, so mix it a shade or two lighter than you’d like. Once baked, leave them until they’re completely cool before assembling the cake.

To stack the cake, using a palette knife put a dab of the buttercream in the centre of the cake board. If you’re using rainbow cake, decide which order your rainbow layers will go and place the bottom layer on top of the blob of buttercream. This will help to anchor your cake in place and stop it sliding about.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Spread a layer of buttercream on top of your first layer and top it with your next cake, cover that with buttercream and continue until all the layers are stacked.

Now it’s time to apply the crumb coat, which just means cover the whole of the cake in a thin layer of buttercream. This is so the cake crumbs stay where they should be and it will also help stick the marzipan to the cake. Once you’ve done this, put the cake to one side, somewhere cool.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Now it’s time to roll the marzipan out. I used icing sugar to stop it sticking to my work surface and rolling pin. Roll it out as thin as you please. My marzipan was pretty thin, but not so thin it could easily tear; perhaps about the thickness of a pound coin. You’ll need to roll out quite a big piece of marzipan to cover the cake in one go, and it might be worth measuring how much area you need to cover with a piece of string.

Lift the marzipan with the rolling pin and drape it over the cake. Use your hands to smooth it down and all over the cake. You may need to trim some of the folds back so the finish is smoother. It doesn’t matter how this layer looks because it will be covered with the royal icing, but it does need to be pretty smooth and even all over. Take your time doing this.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Now for the hardest bit. Take your white royal icing and put some to one side for later. Then roll out the rest of the icing, again using icing sugar to stop it sticking to the work top. When you’ve rolled out a piece as big as you need, brush the marzipan all over with water and carefully lift the icing onto the cake. Take as long as you need to gently smooth the icing over the cake. I find the warmth of my hands helps to smooth it out. This layer needs to be super smooth, so take your time to get it right.

After that you probably need to sit down with a cup of tea for a bit, so do that before you do the next bit.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Now it the time to turn your plain white cake into a Pokeball. Just like before, roll out the red royal icing. Take one of your cake tins and use it to trace a semi circle the size of the cake. I then used a shot glass (don’t judge me) to cut out a small semi circle on the straight edge of the icing. Brush half of the top of your cake with a little bit of water, not too much as your colours may start to run and gently press on the red semi circle of icing.

Roll out the black icing and cut out a black circle the size of a shot glass. Using a knife cut out a circle so you have a black ring. Then cut out a long strip of the black icing the diameter of the cake. Have a look at the picture below and using a dab of water fix the icing where it should be.

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Finally cut out a circle of white royal icing to sit in the black ring. Stick it in place with a dab of water and your Pokeball birthday cake is done.

It’s a really straightforward design and frankly if I can do it, I’m sure you can too!

Pokemon Pokeball Birthday CakePokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

If you enjoyed this you might also like to try and make these birthday cakes –

How to make a Pokemon Pokeball Birthday Cake

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Last year I treated myself to a bundt tin and I’ve been baking the prettiest cakes in the world in it ever since. My current favourite bake is a Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt and it’s one I take along as an offering whenever a cake is required. It’s really easy, looks as pretty as a picture and it tastes fantastic. This cake also gives people the impression I’m a much better baker than I really am, it’s just a foolproof recipe and a fancy tin.

Lemon drizzle is an absolute classic and one which has been a staple of mine for a few years now. Everyone loves a lemon drizzle, but this version with blueberries really takes it up a notch.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Ingredients

250g caster sugar
250g softened butter
4 eggs
250g self-raising flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
Juice of 1 lemon
250g fresh blueberries

For the icing –

150g icing sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, plus juice of half of the lemon

How to make your Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt:

Pre-heat the oven to 190° and liberally grease your bundt tin with melted butter.

Beat your butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, eggs, flour, baking powder and lemon zest and juice and give them a really good mix. Add the fresh blueberries and stir in gently.

Pour the mixture into your bundt tin. Smooth the top of the batter and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Once baked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes.

Once cool, turn out onto a suitable plate or cake stand and make up the drizzle icing. Do not even attempt to drizzle the icing on until the cake is fully cooled.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the lemon juice and zest. I like a thicker drizzle, so add the lemon juice a teaspoon at a time until you get the consistency you want.

Prick your cake all over with a skewer and carefully spoon your icing over, try to get some of it down the little holes in your cake. Leave it in a cool place for the icing to set a little, then serve with a pot of tea.

It’s as light as a feather and an absolutely fabulous spring bake. If you don’t have a bunt tin, you can always bake it in a regular cake tin, just adjust the cooking time as you see fit.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to try this lemon and ginger drizzle cake.

Recipe: Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Bundt

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with blackberry sauce

Last year Brockmans Gin asked me to come up with a recipe using gin. Now I’m the kind of girl who will happily slosh a glug of gin into almost any recipe which demands a bit of white wine, so this was an assignment I was very happy to try. After some serious consideration, I decided that a whole Camembert baked with gin, garlic and herbs, served with crusty bread and a fruity sauce which matched the gin would be the way to go, and boy was I right!

The recipe is really simple, and if you don’t fancy making the sauce, then maybe try a dollop or two of cranberry sauce instead.

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Ingredients:

1 whole Camembert in a wooden box
Sprig of thyme
1 clove of garlic, crushed
½ tablespoon of Gin, I used Brockmans
Pepper, freshly ground
For the sauce
1 tablespoon of water
100g fresh blackberries
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
Pepper, freshly ground

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 200°. Unwrap your Camembert and put back in the wooden box. Carefully cut a circle out of the top of the cheese rind and scatter a crushed clove of garlic, a good amount of thyme leaves and a grind or two of black pepper on top of the cheese. Carefully add your gin and replace the lid. Loosely cover the Camembert in foil and put in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes until it’s gone wobbly in the middle.

While your Camembert is baking, put 100g of fresh juicy blackberries in a saucepan. Add the water and sugar and cook on a low heat, stirring regularly until the blackberries have softened and are starting to collapse. At this point, add the balsamic vinegar and the black pepper. Taste and add more seasoning or sugar if you need to depending on how sweet your blackberries are. Once cooked, pour into a small dish and leave to cool a little.

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Once your Camembert is cooked, carefully take it out of the oven and place the cheese in its wooden box on a platter; garnish with a couple of sprigs of thyme and serve with your warm blackberry sauce and crusty bread. A gin and tonic on the side is entirely optional!

A whole baked Camembert makes for a lovely lunch to share with friends. This gin soaked version is a real treat for a gin lover. Don’t skimp on the crusty bread, it is just what this melty dish of cheese and fruity sauce needs.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like this Baked Russet Squire Crusty Bread Bowl I made.

Recipe: Gin baked Camembert with fresh blackberry sauce

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Every year in March and April, the hedgerows and lanes hereabouts are abundant with wild garlic. When the wind blows in the right direction, we get a gentle whiff of garlic and off I go with a paper bag to collect a few leaves to cook with. One of my favourite ways to use it is in wild garlic and parmesan scones, which go really well with soup, or as a savoury snack with some good butter.

Of course when you’re foraging it pays to know a little of what you’re doing. Wild garlic can look pretty similar to other plants, some of which may be poisonous, but you can generally tell what is and isn’t wild garlic by the smell, which is, well, garlicky.

When you go foraging it’s important not to pick too much of anything. Take just what you need and save the rest for the wildlife or other foragers. If you’re foraging for wild garlic, you don’t need much anyway. It’s pretty pungent and a few leaves go quite a long way. I tend to try to pick the younger leaves in spots where I think (hope) dogs haven’t been. I always wash my wild garlic leaves before I use them anyway. You can find out more about wild garlic here.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

These wild garlic and parmesan scones are very delicious. They’re everything you want from a savory scone. I sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on the top which makes them extra delicious. This recipe makes about 8 big scones, though you could cut them smaller if you prefer.

Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Ingredients:

125g butter
450g self-raising flour
50g finely grated parmesan cheese
5 wild garlic leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Big pinch of salt
Milk to mix, I used about 1/3 pint
Rock salt

How to make Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones:

Pre-heat your oven to 190° and put a sheet of baking parchment on a large baking tray.

In a large bowl rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the parmesan, wild garlic, bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt and toss together. Little by little add the milk, mixing with your hands until it makes a soft dough.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and pat or roll it until it’s 1.5-2cm thick. I usually shape the dough and pat it down with my hands because it gives a slightly more rustic finish which I like. Cut the dough into rounds, don’t twist the cutter because this can prevent the scone from rising.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Put the cut scones on the baking tray, brush them with milk and if you like sprinkle a pinch of rock salt on the top of each one. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they’re nice a brown and hollow when you tap them underneath.

Serve hot from the oven with lashings of butter, or with soup or a ploughman’s lunch.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like these blueberry and buttermilk scones.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Recipe: Easy Mini Egg Cookies

I know it doesn’t sound likely, but it is possible to get too many Easter eggs. This year we’ve somehow managed to stockpile all of the mini eggs in South Manchester. In an effort to do something slightly different with them, other than just eat the whole bag in one sitting, we baked a batch (or two) of mini egg cookies. And by ‘eck, they were tasty!

These cookies are a lovely thing to bake over Easter with children. You might have to double up on the recipe though, because the cookie dough seems to mysteriously disappear whenever I bake these with the small boy!

Recipe: Easy Mini Egg Cookies

Easy Mini Egg Cookies

Ingredients (makes 15 cookies)
125g butter, softened
100g soft brown sugar
125g caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
100g Cadbury Mini Eggs, chopped up
225g self-raising flour

Method
Preheat your oven to 180°C.

In a large bowl cream your butter and the two sugars. Once they are well combined, add the egg, chopped up pieces of mini eggs. Tip in the flour and keep mixing until it forms your cookie dough.

Take a baking sheet and either grease the sheet well or cover with a piece of baking parchment (I used baking parchment). Using a set of scales, take the dough and weigh into 40g balls, this helps ensure all your cookies are the same size.

Place the dough balls on the baking sheet making sure there is room for them to spread out. You might need to use two or more baking sheets. Squash each dough ball down a little with the back of a fork.

Recipe: Easy Mini Egg Cookies

Bake the cookies in your pre-heated oven for 10 minutes until they’re just turning golden round the edges. Remove from the oven and leave them on the baking sheet to firm up for a few minutes before putting them on a wire cooling rack.

Leave your cookies to cool for as long as you can stand to. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk. They’re really very, very good and the perfect way to use up any leftover mini eggs, should that ever be a thing in your house!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like to try these salted peanut and caramel cookies.

Recipe: Easy Mini Egg Cookies

Recipe: Orange Upside Down Polenta Cake

This week I decided to make an orange polenta cake, but I had a bag of oranges which needed using, so I made this Orange Upside Down Polenta Cake. Polenta cakes are among my favourite kinds of cakes, they’ve got a different texture; slightly gritty but moist and they’re quite filling too.

I was wistfully looking at the photographs of the rhubarb upside down cake I made last year and remembering how great it was. It was so great it made me want to grow more rhubarb so I could make it more often. Upside down cakes seem pretty old fashioned, but they’re really wonderful and can make an attractive centrepiece for an afternoon tea spread.

Recipe: Orange Upside Down Polenta Cake

If you’re making this recipe you could remove the peel from the oranges and cut them into slices, laying them on the bottom of the cake tin. I wanted to make a batch of orange syrup, so I decided to make a bumper batch of my candied orange slices and used those as the top (or bottom) of my Orange Upside Down Polenta Cake.

Orange Upside Down Polenta Cake

Ingredients:

For the topping:
Zest and juice of two oranges
50g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
4 drops of Spice Drops Orange Zest Extract

For the cake:
250g butter or margarine
250g caster sugar
4 eggs
150g polenta
2 teaspoons of baking powder
200g plain flour
Zest  of two oranges and juice of one orange
8 drops of Spice Drops Orange Zest Extract

Recipe: Orange Upside Down Polenta Cake

How to make an Orange Upside Down Polenta Cake

Pre-heat your oven to 170° and line an 8 inch cake tin with baking paper.

In a small saucepan, melt the 50g of butter and sugar together. Zest two oranges and add the zest and the spice drops if you’re using them (they just boost the orange flavour). Once melted leave to cool for a few minutes, then pour into the bottom of your cake tin. Peel and slice the two zested oranges and arrange them artfully on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy, add the eggs and mix thoroughly. Add the rest of the cake ingredients and mix well to form a smooth cake batter. Carefully pour the batter over the top of the orange layer and smooth off the top.

Put the cake in the oven for 50-60 minutes until it is cooked through. Check with a skewer to make sure it’s cooked properly. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack in the tin. Once it’s cooled for around an hour, take a plate and carefully flip the cake out of the tin, so the bottom of the cake is now the top. Remove any baking paper and leave to cool properly.

This Orange Upside Down Polenta Cake is lovely. Like I said, I topped mine with my candied orange slices, but it would be quicker and probably just as tasty if you used orange slices without the peel. It’s not a quick bake, but it is really easy and one I’ll be baking again and again.

Recipe: Orange Upside Down Polenta Cake

Easter Treats: Peppermint Crunch Slices

Peppermint Crunch is one of the things I remember from school. A couple of times a month the dinner ladies would make trays of peppermint crunch for pudding, it was a highlight. Last year we visited Keswick Market and a local bakery had a stall selling cakes and tray bakes, lo and behold there was the Peppermint Crunch I used to love as a child. I bought some, shared it with the boys and I’ve been wanting to make my own ever since.

Easter Treats: Peppermint Crunch Slices

Last week Beech’s Fine Chocolates sent me some mini chocolate Easter eggs to try out. When I got them and I saw there was a mint crisp flavour, I knew exactly what I was going to do with them. This is how this Easter version of the Peppermint Crunch Slice was born.

If you love mint, you will love Peppermint Crunch slices. They are easy to make, but there are a few steps and you need to factor in chilling time. It’s a nice thing to make with kids too. Top with some Dark Chocolate Mint Crisp Mini Eggs and you’ve got yourself a minty treat and a half!

Peppermint Crunch Slices

Ingredients:

For the base:
130g plain flour
80g desiccated coconut
25g cornflakes, crushed
90g golden caster sugar
30g cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
200g unsalted butter or baking margarine
1 tsp vanilla extract

Peppermint Layer:
200g icing sugar, sifted
35ml milk
8 – 10 drops of Peppermint Extract Spice Drops (I use Holy Lama)

Chocolate Layer:
200g milk chocolate (or dark if you prefer)
70ml milk
80g icing sugar, sifted

Easter Treats: Peppermint Crunch Slices

How to make Peppermint Crunch Slices:

Pre-heat your oven to 180° and grease and line a high sided baking tray, I used this one.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together, remember to sift the cocoa powder and the flour. Melt the butter or margarine (this took about 45 seconds in my microwave, but keep an eye on it) and pour it into the dry mix, add the vanilla and mix everything together. Tip it into your lined baking tin (if you put baking paper on the bottom it will come out easier) and press down with the back of a metal spoon. Make sure it’s all well compacted. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the baking tin. Once it’s cool you can make the peppermint layer. Mix the sifted icing sugar, milk and peppermint drops in a bowl until smooth. It wants to be a fairly firm mix, because you don’t want it oozing out of the sides when you take it out of the tin. Taste the mix and add more peppermint if you think it needs it. Pour the peppermint mixture over the top of your base and smooth out as best you can. I did my best then shook the pan to help it level out. Put this in the fridge for at least half an hour to firm up.

Once the peppermint layer has chilled, you can turn your attention to the chocolate layer. This is pretty easy, you can either melt your chocolate in a bain marie, or very carefully in the microwave. If you’re doing it in the microwave, tread carefully as it’s very easy to over do it and the chocolate could go grainy.

Melt the chocolate, stir in the sifted icing sugar and add the milk and mix well. Pour over the top of the peppermint layer and smooth over. I used a knife to mark lines where I would cut it into slices once it was set. Using these lines as a guide, I placed a mint egg half on the top of each of these slices. Put the peppermint crunch in the fridge for at least an hour to set.

Easter Treats: Peppermint Crunch Slices

When you’re ready to eat it, carefully remove the peppermint crunch from the tin and with a sharp knife, cut it into slices. Serve with a big mug of coffee and enjoy this school dinner classic!

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to try this Cornflake Tart recipe.

Easter Treats: Peppermint Crunch Slices

Brilliant Bakes: Green Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake has cornered the market in coloured cakes. It’s delicious, but why should Red Velvet have all the fun? This week I’ve been playing around with a recipe for Green Velvet Cake – just like Red Velvet, but green and just the thing for St Patrick’s Day.

Green cake might not be the first thing you think of if you’re baking for a celebration, but it’s certainly eye-catching and it’s absolutely a talking point. It tastes just like red velvet cake, but it’s green. It looks like it should be mint flavoured, if you want to add a few drops of peppermint flavouring then you could do.

Brilliant Bakes: Green Velvet Cake

I made some chocolate shamrocks and decorated my green velvet cake with them. It’s a very simple but effective way to decorate a cake and I’d recommend even novice bakers give it a try.

Green Velvet Cake

Ingredients:

2 eggs
235mls vegetable oil
235mls buttermilk
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Green food colouring
320g self-raising flour
260g caster sugar
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the frosting:
250g cream cheese
250g icing sugar, sifted
110g unsalted butter

How to make Green Velvet Cake:

Pre-heat your oven to 180° and grease and line 3 8 inch cake tins.

Pour the eggs, oil, buttermilk, vinegar and vanilla into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add a few drops of food colouring ad then sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking powder into the bowl, mix well. Check you’re happy with the colour, if not, add a few more drops of colouring. Remember the shade will darken as it cooks, so don’t make the green too dark.

Pour the green cake batter into the three prepared cake tins. I usually weigh them to make sure they are more or less the same size.

Put the cakes in the oven for 18-20 minutes, until they’re cooked through. Once they’re baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a baking rack.

While they’re cooling you can make the frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy, carefully sift in the icing sugar and combine well. Put the frosting in the fridge to firm up a little before using.

Brilliant Bakes: Green Velvet Cake

To put the green velvet cake together, level out the top of each cake by trimming off the top with a serrated knife, this is so they stack neater. Put a smear of icing on the bottom of your cake stand and put your first cake layer on, dollop on some frosting onto the top, spread it evenly over the layer and put the next cake on top of that. Frost the top of that layer, then turn the final cake upside down, so the top of the cake is absolutely flat. Cover the whole cake and sides with the remainder of the frosting and smooth it all over.

Decorate it however you like. I was making my green velvet cake for St Patrick’s Day, so I made chocolate shamrocks using a Cake Decor Milk Chocolate Writer tube which I’d found in Morrisons. It was really simple to use, I just made the shapes on baking paper, left them to set, peeled them off and put them on the cake. So simple and it looks pretty good too.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like my Turkish Delight Cake.

Brilliant Bakes: Green Velvet Cake

Frugal Recipe: Slow Cooker Root Vegetable Stew

My husband is a yellow sticker bargain ninja. He’s forever coming home with bargains he’s found at the supermarket, some things go straight in the freezer, but fresh fruit and vegetables need to be used within a day or two.

This week he came home with two packets of  Mixed Roasting Vegetables from the Co-op which should have been £1.50 each, but were reduced to 83p each. The packs contained a small swede, 3 carrots, 2 parsnips and two medium sized onions. They were crying out to be used in a stew, so that’s what I did.

There was quite a lot of chopping involved in this stew, and I threw in some lentils and a leek I already had which was beginning to see better days. The result was so tasty and hearty that I’ll be making it again. It was a giant stew, which filled my slow cooker to the brim and took 8 hours to cook.

Frugal Recipe: Slow Cooker Root Vegetable Stew

It fed our family for three meals. I made stew and dumplings, I turned it into a pie and I just served it as stew with mashed potato. I even managed to freeze a portion for a rainy day.

This recipe uses two of the packs of vegetables, but you can half the quantities of everything if you want to make a smaller stew. With the yellow sticker bargain, I reckon I made this huge stew for around £3.

Slow Cooker Root Vegetable Stew

Ingredients:

2 medium sized onions, chopped
1 leek, sliced
1 tablespoon of oil, whatever you have
2 small swedes, diced
2 parsnips
3 carrots
2 large potatoes
75g  red lentils, rinsed
2.5 pints of vegetable stock (made with a stock cube)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
1 tablespoon of mixed herbs
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of sugar
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon of tomato ketchup

How to make your Slow Cooker Root Vegetable Stew

Chop you onions and cook them in half a tablespoon of oil until they are soft. Add them to the slow cooker when soft. Slice your leek and fry that until tender in the rest of the oil. Add the garlic towards the end of cooking and stir that through for a few minutes, when that’s cooked, tip the leeks and garlic into the slow cooker.

Peel and chop your swedes, carrots, parsnips and potatoes into similar sized pieces and add to the slow cooker.

Switch your slow cooker onto high and add the stock, chopped tomatoes, lentils and the rest of the ingredients. Put the lid on and cook until all the root vegetables are soft, for me this took 8 hours.

Once the vegetables are cooked, taste the stew and add more seasoning if you think it needs it. Stir through and serve however you want.

Frugal Recipe: Slow Cooker Root Vegetable Stew

My favourite way we had the stew was with dumplings. It was just the most perfect warming, hearty meal and I know I’ll be craving stew and dumplings now every time the temperature dips. My husband loved the pie, which was just a dish of the stew, which I stirred a tablespoon of vegetable gravy granules through and topped with a puff pastry lid. But it’s just as good served with a pile of buttery mash.

If you enjoyed this, you might like to try these slow cooker recipes:

Frugal Recipe: Slow Cooker Root Vegetable Stew

Teatime Recipe: Anglesey Cake

Sadly the days where the nation stopped for afternoon tea are behind us. I like baking cakes, so most weekends we do make time for a slice of cake and a mug of our favourite brew. With St David’s Day coming up I baked an Anglesey Cake, I do like to bake seasonally if I can.

Anglesey Cake is not especially well known. Anglesey Cake is darkened with treacle so it appears much richer than it is was often serves at weddings where the families were too poor to afford a proper wedding cake. It’s a light fruit cake which is fairly cheap to make and just the thing to serve for afternoon tea.

Teatime Recipe: Anglesey Cake

It’s certainly very easy to make, it rises well and looks a treat on the table. It would be a good bake for the novice baker to try.

Anglesey Cake

Ingredients:

100g butter or margarine
75g soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons of black treacle
1 egg
275g self raising flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
200ml milk
100g raisins
75g currants

Teatime Recipe: Anglesey Cake

How to make Anglesey Cake:

Pre-heat your oven to 180° and grease a deep cake tin (I used an 8 inch tin). I also lined my cake tin with baking parchment for good measure.

Cream the butter or margarine with the sugar. Once it’s light and fluffy, add the egg and treacle and combine. Sift the flour, ginger and mixed spice into the mix and gently mix into a thick batter.

Stir the bicarb into the milk and whisk until it is fully dissolved, gradually stir this into the cake mixture, add the dried fruit and make sure the cake mix is well combined. Pour the cake batter into the cake tin and bake for 50-60 minutes.

Once it’s baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool. The cake is best baked 24 hour hours before you plan to eat it. It’s nice served plain with a good strong cup of tea, but I like it with some nice crumbly cheese like Caerphilly. Fruit cake and cheese is a traditional combination, believe it or not.

Whether you’re baking this as a St David’s Day treat, or just because you like the look of it, it’s a lovely light fruit cake which won’t break the bank to bake. Happy St David’s Day!

If you enjoyed this, you might also like my “works every time” Victoria Sponge Recipe.

Teatime Recipe: Anglesey Cake