Rosehip Jelly

Recently I’ve been following The Great British Bake Off series on TV and have been trying to attempt some of the baking challenges myself. I love the programme and have been caught up in all the baking excitement along with so many others. Sadly the series ended last week but the bakers were brilliant and Nancy became the Bake Off champion. Her calm and collected approach along with her experience and baking talent just gave her the edge in a tightly fought Final.

Back in my kitchen, reality has meant that I can’t keep up with all the baking challenges as I would like to. For one thing we just can’t eat all the cakes produced quickly enough. (I know that’s shocking – who can’t eat cake?)So last week, despite dreaming of Entremets and Baklava bakes, I’ve had a slight detour.

I’ve often wanted to pick Rosehips and make a syrup or jelly. They are like ripe red jewels covering rose bushes once resplendent in blooming roses. You can find them in hedge rows and often unwanted in friends and neighbours gardens as I did, as well as in your own garden. Rosehips are overlooked but are very rich in vitamin C and the syrup was often used as a tonic in years gone by. It was surprisingly easy to make a delicious jelly and so that I didn’t feel too bad about slipping behind with my Great British Bake Off challenges I attempted a Fig and Toasted Hazelnut Wholemeal Loaf. The recipe was taken from ‘The Great British Bake Off – Big Book of Baking’. I’m past caring what Paul Hollywood would think of my bread-making attempts – this recipe should be tried at home as it was scrumptious with a selection of cheeses. The Rosehip jelly went rather well with it toasted. :)

To make Rosehip jelly I ‘topped and tailed’ the rosehips (just cutting off the stalk and tip) and soaked them in cold water, then washed them well. I put them in a large pan along with two whole lemons roughly chopped (include pips).

I then added 1 litre of water, brought the pan to the boil then simmered gently for about two hours until all the fruit was soft. I then removed the pan from the heat and mashed down all the fruit to a pulp using a potato masher, then left the mixture in the pan, covered overnight. It’s difficult to give exact quantities when making something like this as you don’t know how many Rosehips you are likely to collect. I only had a small amount so 1 litre of water was plenty to cook the fruit in adequately but more can be added after the fruit is mashed down if necessary.

The next day the fruit needs to be sieved so that you end up with just liquid and no pulp. You can squeeze it through a muslin cloth or push it through a sieve – try to get out all the juice. You will need to measure the resulting liquid.

I added the equivalent grams in granulated sugar as there were mls of liquid and put this all in the large pan. It needs to be heated gently at first, stirring to dissolve all the sugar and then boiled. The mixture needs to be boiled until setting to a jelly. Mine took about 20 minutes, rapidly boiling without stirring. To test when it might be ready I put a saucer in the freezer to cool, then drop a little of the mixture onto it – you can see if its setting by pushing it with your finger, When it is setting, take the pan off the heat and pour the jelly into sterilised jars. It should set well as although Rosehips contain very little pectin the lemons (especially the pips) will have added enough.

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Great British Bake Off Advanced Dough

Episode 8 of The Great British Bake Off saw the bakers challenged with ‘Advanced Dough’. Paul Hollywood boasted of having made 30,000-40,000 doughnuts and officially became King of all doughnut makers; Nancy used a microwave to prove her dough; and the Technical Challenge was once again a bake which most people had never heard of never mind baked – Povitica.

I an still on Beginners Dough stage never mind Advanced but after my successful attempt at Paul’s Ciabatta’s I was up for the challenge. I chose to make a Swedish Tea Ring like Richard but I followed a recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Big Book Of Baking. I altered the filling by using 2 tablespoons of fruity mincemeat, 2 tablespoons of orange marmalade mixed with the juice of 1 orange. I then brushed the top liberally with an orange and lemon syrup as soon as it came out of the oven. I left it to cool and the drizzled lemon icing over the top, made with a teaspoon of lemon juice and icing sugar.

I’m not sure how Paul Hollywood would have judged my attempt but it tasted scrummy – a bit like a fruity Lardy Cake :)

Richard’s Fruity Swedish Tea Ring recipe is here. 

Unfortunately, Martha, the youngest baker, left the Bake Off Tent. It’s only when you actually attempt to bake along with some of the challenges that you realise how incredibly talented the bakers are and I’m sure Martha and her family are extremely proud.  

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Baking with a Luxury Food Hamper

…..or ‘How to turn a Luxury Food Hamper into a Christmas Party!’

I’m sorry to start talking about Christmas already but this year I’m planning to be ahead of the game. I’ve tried to do Christmas, over the years, in a variety of ways – the nonchalant last minute ‘do it all in one go’ thing, the starting at the beginning of December thing as before that you shouldn’t even mention Christmas, but the truth is I just never have enough time to do everything I’d like to. So, yes it may be extreme to start thinking about it at the end of September but I’m going to be so well organised I will, for once, have a relaxed and stress free Christmas that I can actually enjoy :)

One of the things I always have difficulty with is finding a thoughtful gift for friends and family who I won’t see over the Christmas holiday. With that in mind I was really happy to have found some lovely Christmas Hampers to order online. They are presented beautifully and are very reasonably priced and I have cheekily tried one myself just to ensure the scrumptiousness!

My White Christmas Hamper was described as ‘A beautiful fresh & fruity Prosecco is the centrepiece of this glorious basket of treats, which also includes flavoursome white chocolate pralines from Belgium, indulgent English afternoon tea and exotic French Apricots in Syrup & Monbazillac Wine. Packed with sweet and savoury items to suit every palate, White Christmas is a high quality present for friends, family or colleagues.’

It sounded delicious and as soon as it arrived I started to plan how I might use it to create a Christmas Treats Tea Party.

Inspired by the recent Great British Bake Off TV series, the French Apricots were perfect to use in a Savarin. This was baked in a Savarin tin, soaked in the syrup and finished with the fruits using a recipe adapted from this Soaked Savarin Recipe.

I used the gorgeous High Dumpsie Dearie – Pear, Plum and Apple Jam in a batch of Madaleines. These look good together with the luxury mince pies and slices of flapjack, displayed on a vintage cake stand along with some of the sweets also in the hamper. The little box of tea bags is just enough to serve lots of hot steamy tea; or for those who prefer a little alcohol, a ‘naughty’ tea can be made by adding a little Prosecco to half a teacup of cold tea!

I could have quite happily munched my way through the entire contents of the hamper alone but my Tea Party was well received and enjoyed so I had to agree it was a great way to share the deliciousness! It’s a perfect way to plan a party as you have so many ingredients to hand. I have also chosen several Hamper Gifts I will be ordering for Christmas so it’s all going to plan. I may just have another sip of my Prosecco tea :)

For Christmas Recipes see my Christmas Baking Page

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Great British Bake Off – Pastries

Week 7 on Great British Bake Off saw our intrepid bakers challenged with lots of different pastries. The competition is so fierce now that the slightest mistake made a difference and the lovely Kate had to leave the tent. These bakers are incredibly talented and my bake along challenge is no where near as challenging as what they are experiencing. The time constraints and judging would terrify me before I’d even had time to panic about the actual baking.

So my feeble attempts are just my own little challenge to myself to improve my baking. This week I attempted mini eclairs, filling them with rose flavoured crème pattissiere and topping with pink icing and strawberries.

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I also baked mini pasties which I enthusiastically overfilled. I used a pastry recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Veg book and filled them with caramelised onions, sweet potato and brie. I caramelised the onions first in a pan, then added finely chopped sweet potatoes to brown them off. I then turned off the heat and added chunks of brie which melted into the mix a little. The mixture was left to cool and then added to the middle of pastry circles (saucer sized). These were then cooked until golden brown. They were actually quite tasty even though they did overflow a bit  and were nice eaten hot or cold. :)

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Lemon Griestorte

Last week was European Cake Week on Great British Bake off. We saw Yeast Leavened Cake, Kugelhopfs, Savarins and Tortes and the final challenge was Mary Berry’s Prinsesstarta .

I was slightly unsure where to start baking – not too sure what was a Kugelhopf and what was a Savarin; and slightly unnerved by the amount of sweetness in the Tortes and Tarta’s. After a few weeks of trying to bake along with the Great British Bake Off I’m starting to struggle a bit with eating it all! I decided to try to find a lighter European Cake and found a lovely Lemon Griestorte in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible.

My Lemon Griestorte was baked following Mary’s recipe. ‘Self-Raising Flower’  has baked her way through Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and has a lovely blog post describing how to make Lemon Griestorte.

I filled my cake with a lemon, cream, mascarpone filling and added blueberries. I also piped some of the mascarpone mix onto the top of the cake to make it look pretty. The cake did need some ‘prettying’ as it was rather plain when baked and hadn’t risen very much as it has no flour. The end result however, was very scrummy. It’s a light cake with a slight graininess from the semolina and ground almonds it’s baked with. It would be very bland without a filling and the lemon, cream and mascarpone filling with blueberries was perfect. It was scrumptious without being over sweet – and would be suitable for afternoon tea as well as for a special occasion. Mary states that the cake keeps well but it would have to be stored in the fridge with this filling.

To make the filling I used 250g Mascarpone whisked together with 300g Double Cream and 4 teaspoons Lemon Extract ( I used Nielsen-Massey)until thick. For the blueberries, I made a syrup with the juice of 1 Lemon and 50g Caster Sugar – heated gently in a pan while stirring to dissolve the sugar then bring to the boil for a few minutes. When the syrup started to thicken I added a punnet of Blueberries, stirred them in so that they had a little heat and were covered in syrup, then I turned the heat off and allowed them to cool. The thick, syrupy blueberry mixture should be cooled fully before spooning onto a layer of the mascarpone mix in the middle of the cake.

A beautiful Prinsesstarta was baked by Kat at The Baking Explorer, who is also challenging herself to bake along with Great British Bake Off – it looks stunning!

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Great British Bake Off – Tarts

Week 5 on The Great British Bake Off saw the intrepid bakers challenged with pies and tarts. I decided to make a Raspberry and Lemon Custard Tart. I used Pate Sucree – a French recipe for a sweet pastry but added lemon zest to the mix. I blind baked it to provide a cooked tart base. I made crème patissiere (a French set custard) with added lemon extract and allowed this to cool before it was added to the pastry base. I then made a raspberry curd to drizzle over the top, finally adding some fresh raspberries and a dusting of icing sugar.

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Raspberry Curd Recipe

200g Raspberries

Juice 1 Lemon

225g Caster Sugar

50g Butter, melted

2 Eggs

Cook the raspberries and till soft and mushy then strain to get all the juice but leaving all the seeds behind. Then add all the other ingredients and place in a bowl or pan over another pan of boiling water. Keep the water boiling while stirring all your ingredients continuously until starting to thicken. Allow the curd to cool before using.

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Orange Marmalade Self-Saucing Pudding

Recently I have been enjoying the Great British Bake Off series and trying to join with some of the baking challenges. Week 4 saw the bakers in the Great British Bake Off tent challenged by desserts. There was some controversy as poor Iain had a pudding meltdown but I felt very sorry for him as things transpired against him. Desserts week was indeed a challenge for me although I’d expected it to be one of my easiest and I almost reached a pudding meltdown.

Things started badly as I thought I’d try Mary Berry’s Tiramisu Cake. I love Mary Berry dearly and her recipes have always turned out perfectly but I found myself asking ‘why would anyone want to make this?’ It was hideously complicated and fiddly and ended up tasting like soggy cold, excessively sweet coffee – not nice. The recipe involved baking a Swiss-roll type base, cutting it into squares which were also cut in half horizontally to create wafer thin pieces of sponge. These were then soaked in a cold coffee mixture and layered with a mascarpone and icing sugar filling. The final result was then coated completely with the sweet mascarpone, sprinkled with chocolate and decorated with chocolate swirls. I’m sorry to sound so disrespectful but it was a total waste of time and something I will never bake again:)

Self-saucing puddings were my next challenge. Chocolate Fondants – my preferred option, were out of the question as despite having a cupboard full of baking paraphernalia I didn’t have quite the right thing to bake them in. I decided to try a chocolate pudding that had the sauce at the bottom, a recipe I’d found in a magazine. The sauce did manage to find it’s way to the bottom quite successfully but was too runny and too sweet. By this point I was in no mood to attempt the dreaded Baked Alaska which resulted in Iain’s demise. In desperation for a delicious pudding I resorted to a basic Bread Pudding with Lemon and Blueberries I’d found in the new Bake Off book. At last! A pudding that was actually edible!

Still, not one to be beaten by a pudding, I devised my own self-saucing recipe. My Orange Marmalade Self-Saucing Pudding is actually yummy if I may say so myself. It put a smile back on my face anyway :)

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Orange Marmalade Self-Saucing Pudding


150g Softened Butter

150g Caster Sugar

2 Eggs + Milk to make 150ml

Zest 2 Oranges

150g Self-Raising Flour

25g Fine Semolina

1 Tablespoon Marmalade

Ingredients for Orange Sauce:-

Juice 2 Oranges

75g Granulated Sugar

125ml Water


Beat the butter and sugar together until soft and creamy.

Whisk the eggs and milk together.

Prepare a pudding basin by greasing it well. Then spread the marmalade over the bottom.

Mix the butter and sugar, eggs and milk, together with the zest, flour and semolina until all the ingredients are combined but for no more than 1 minute. Pour the mixture into the pudding basin over the marmalade. Cover the mixture and place in the fridge for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

When the pudding is ready to be baked, preheat the oven to 200c and make the sauce by combining the orange juice, sugar and water in a pan. Heat the ingredients gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar then bring to the boil for two or three minutes.

Take the pudding straight from the fridge and pour the boiling sauce directly over the top and then place into the hot oven. Bake at 200c for ten minutes then reduce the heat to 180c for about 15 minutes. The sponge will be baked and raised while the sauce will sink to the bottom and combine with the marmalade.

This is a deliciously light and moist pudding which will keep well for about three days.


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Late Summer Cookout!

We may have seen the signs of autumn creeping in, here in the UK, but summer isn’t over yet. There will still be opportunities for a late summer ‘family get together’ outside. A ‘Cookout’ or ‘Barbeque’ is always popular and I like to combine outdoor cooking with some of the elements of an Afternoon Tea party.

I was recently asked what favourite items I would want to put in a ‘Cookout Crate’ and so started to think about what essentials make a great outdoors family feast. A ‘Cookout Crate’ is an idea from Man Crates, a new company that ships ‘awesome’ gifts for men in custom wooden crates. I was intrigued by this as the men in my family are often difficult to find exciting gifts for. Man Crates have some great ideas and I love their Hickory Grill Crate which would be perfect for a man who loves a cookout. 

Here are my family’s top 5 essentials for a fun Cookout:-

1.     Beer-Can Barbequed Chicken

The men in the family love to cook outdoors and this recipe for a whole chicken cooked with beer has become a favourite!

2.     Freshly made mayonnaise

We love home-made mayo with lots of salad and it’s surprisingly simple to make!

Mayonnaise Recipe

(This recipe is adapted from other recipes I’ve seen as it contains Rapeseed Oil)

140mls Rapeseed Oil

1 Medium (very fresh) Egg Yolk

1 Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar

2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard

Pinch Salt

Whisk the egg yolk, white wine vinegar, mustard and salt together, in a food mixer. Continue to whisk while slowly trickling the oil into the mixture until it turns thick and creamy. You can add a pinch of chilli flakes or herbs to the mix at the end for added flavour.

For an extra special Potato Salad

Fry partially cooked, chopped potatoes in their skins, with sliced onions until everything is golden brown. Allow to cool and then stir in some home made mayo and a handful of chopped herbs – yum!

3.      Jasmine Tea Delight

Alcohol will often play a part in a family get together but for a lighter option here is Angel Adoree’s recipe for a lovely alcoholic iced tea:

5 green Jasmine tea bags, 4 tbsp sugar, or to taste, 750ml champagne or prosecco.

Brew the tea for 1 minute in 200ml hot water, then remove the bags, stir in the sugar and add 500ml cold water. Cool in the fridge. This can be served in pretty summer glasses or in a vintage china tea cup – simply fill half a teacup with tea, then top up with the bubbly.

4.     Home baked cake

Don’t forget a delicious home baked cake – no family get together would be complete without a deliciously moist carrot cake or a Dorset apple cake served with clotted cream.

Carrot, Date and Pecan Traybake

275g finely grated carrots

250g dates, chopped

175g pecan nuts, chopped

6 eggs

350g soft brown sugar

9 fl ozs sunflower oil

350g SR flour

Whisk eggs and sugar together until thick and creamy. Whisk in the oil slowly then add all the remaining ingredients. Bake in a shallow tin at 190 c for approximately 35-40 minutes.

5.     Fresh flowers in a jug on the table

Just because we’re outside and the men are cooking doesn’t mean we can’t have a bit of styling!

                         “I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck”

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Great British Bake Off – Bread

The Great British Bake Off ‘week three’ challenges were bread bakes. I did think about skipping this week as I’ve only ever baked one loaf of bread – a white loaf from Series 2 of Bake Off. Although it turned out well, I’ve never tried any bread since then and always prefer to bake cakes.

However, I’ve decided to challenge myself to try as many bakes as I can during this series of Great British Bake Off and so had to have a bash at Paul’s ciabatta. I managed to follow the recipe accurately and produced my own ciabatta! To my surprise it was very easy to follow and turned out well (although I don’t have to impress Paul).

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Created with Nokia Smart Cam

This is definitely a ‘bake again’ recipe so I would recommend giving it a go.

I also tried an Irish Brack from the Great British Bake Off  Big Book of Baking which goes with the series. This was absolutely delicious kept for a day or two and served sliced with butter and marmalade:)

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Great British Bake Off – Biscuits

Last week’s Great British Bake Off saw the bakers making biscuits and trying to master Mary Berry’s Technical Challenge – Florentines. I thought the Florentines looked difficult and couldn’t find a recipe that looked like Mary’s so I ‘invested’ in the new Bake Off book, ‘The Great British Bake Off Big Book Of Baking’. (Any excuse to buy another recipe book!)

Turning to the page on Florentine’s I was pleasantly surprised to find that the recipe looked fairly straightforward. I did however, still struggle a bit with getting everything quite right so would have been totally lost in the Bake Off Tent :(

Firstly, I didn’t cut my cranberries small enough. That would seem unimportant but actually the fruit in your Florentine needs to be cut very small or they don’t stick in the mixture very well when you are getting it onto the baking tray. My second hitch was while concentrating on using a teaspoon of mixture for each Florentine, dolloped onto the baking tray, I forgot that there should have been 18. I ended up with 14 and when baked they were all different sizes. How do you measure a sticky mixture accurately whilst dolloping onto a baking sheet?! Its beyond me and probably another good reason why I will never make it into that infamous baking tent.

I can’t say my chocolate melting was entirely successful either. I heated 100g it to 53c as Mary suggests and then added another 100g to melt into it, allowing it to cool to 26c. I thought I could speed up the process by placing the bowl into cold water. Don’t do it, just be patient and wait, my chocolate went hard again very rapidly. Whew! the whole thing turned out to be a bit of an ordeal. They tasted fab though so all was ok in the end but I’m not sure if I could be bothered to do them again:)

I also made some Walnut Oat Biscuits from my BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes. These were simple to make and delicious with cheese but still a bit ‘rustic’ looking, the sizes being slightly different again. My hat is well and truly taken off this week to Norman who baked a batch of absolutely perfect Farthing Biscuits – fantastic!



Walnut Oat Biscuits

Walnut Oat Biscuits

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