Hi! Welcome to my blog. I am a major foodie, with a haphazard cooking philosophy, currently making that transition from cooking and baking for friends and family to 'wonder if I could make this my career'. Follow me for recipes, the outcomes of a few experiments, and general lovely foodiness. Opinions, reviews and recommendations are all my own.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

August's Feel Good Food Round Up: Ginger

I chose Ginger for this month's Feel Good Food not just because of its amazing nutritional properties, but because it comes in so many different forms that I knew we would get a really varied range of dishes entered, and my goodness you all didn't disappoint! We have cakes, crumbles and sweet treats, curries and tagines, chicken, pork and seafood dishes as well as some great veggie options, and even a chutney! Thanks to all who took the time to link in, I promise your tastebuds will be tingling when you've finished reading this!

Vegetable and Chickpea Tagine

The first entry is from a challenge newcomer The Flaming Potato. I'm so pleased that they chose Feel Good Food as the first challenge to enter, and this Vegetable and Chickpea Tagine looks mouthwateringly delicious, packed with all kinds of healthy ingredients not to mention a good helping of fresh root ginger. 

Crystallised Ginger Biscuits

Our second entry came from Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker, this time with crystallised ginger in these Crystallised Ginger Biscuits. I love the added square of chocolate on top of the biscuits, which Ros says is her favourite part!

Sticky Ginger and Chilli Chicken

This is one of my posts, a Sticky Ginger and Chilli Chicken made using Mackays Spiced Ginger Preserve to make a sticky glaze for the meat - really quick and really tasty this one!

Mango Curry Chickpea Salad

Janet from The Taste Space entered this tantalising Mango Curry Chickpea Salad. This is also such a quick and easy recipe, with deep spices and sweet mango, all wrapped up in crisp lettuce leaves, perfect for a hot summer day.

Red Kidney Bean Burger

Elizabeth of Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary never fails to tempt me with her fabulous photography, and this Red Kidney Bean Burger is no exception! Packed with beans, cheese, potato and all sorts of amazing spices, you definitely wouldn't miss the meat in these!

Sticky Ginger Cake

Caroline over at Caroline Makes sounds like the perfect journey companion, especially as she took the time to prepare these Sticky Ginger Cake squares to take on a long journey! Adapted from a Nigella recipes, these cakes look lovely and moist and packed full of flavour.


Elizabeth from The Law Students Cookbook took her disappointment in a packet of store-bought Gingersnaps, and turned it into these beauties! These gingersnaps are gingery but not to hot, and crisp but not break-your-teeth hard. They sound perfect to me!

Four awesome recipes now from Eat Properly that really showcase the versatility of ginger across a range of dishes, both sweet and savoury. Check out Spicy Quadruple Ginger Cupcakes, Prawn and Sweet Potato CurrySouth Indian Style Chicken Soup, and Slow Cooked Crispy Chinese Belly Pork - there's plenty here to plan a three course dinner around ginger! Thank you so much for taking the time to link back these great posts from the archives, that Chicken Soup is right at the top of my bookmarks!

Spiced Banana Nut Muffins

A sweet treat now in the form of Spiced Banana Nut Muffins from Jenny at What Jenny Baked. Originally made for a healthy addition to a BBQ, I imagine that these would also make a great breakfast on the run, or be just perfect with an afternoon cup of tea.

Sweet Chilli Chutney

The lovely Ness over at Jibber Jabber posted this fab Sweet Chilli Chutney on behalf of her Mum, dubbed the Chutney Queen! This is a really fruity recipe, utilising a punnet of nectarines that needed using, and a great accompaniment to all these summer BBQ's as demonstrated above.

Ginger Peach Crisp

A second great entry next from Caroline Makes, this scrumptious Ginger Peach Crisp with fresh peaches and an almond crumble topping this is perfect pick me up food.

Oaty Ginger and Plum Crumble

Another yummy crumble now from Shaheen over at Allotment to Kitchen this time with fresh plums in this Oaty Ginger and Plum Crumble. There's s good dose of stem ginger in this recipe, and I love the rolled oat crumble topping for some extra texture and goodness.

Chocolate and Ginger Pecan Pie

Laura from I'd Much Rather Bake Than... linked up this awesome Chocolate and Ginger Pecan Pie, just wow! I'm so glad I've found her blog, and will absolutely be trying this recipe over the autumn months!

Sticky Ginger Lemon Drizzle Cake

Last but by no means least, Kat from The Baking Explorer linked up with this beautiful Sticky Ginger Lemon Drizzle Cake. The zingy combination of lemon and ginger sounds perfect, and I can just imagine tucking into a slice of this cake with a steaming mug of tea and savouring every mouthful.

Thanks again to everyone who linked up this month and provided this amazing list of tasty dishes. Check back on the 1st September to find out what ingredient I eventually settle on (all suggestions are welcome below if there are any special ingredients you'd like to see in the future?) 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Paul Hollywood's English Muffins - GBBO Technical Challenge Two

I was quite intrigued to see that this week's technical challenge on The Great British Bake Off was English Muffins. I've been making these myself for the last few months, and have found them pretty straight forward to make, so I was curious to see Paul's recipe and how it differed to the one I've become attached to. 

Muffins are made from an enriched dough, and the Paul Hollywood recipe uses butter and milk to do this, a variation from the natural yoghurt version I have been making. You can find Paul's recipe on the BBC Food website here

Paul Hollywood English Muffins - Butter and Milk Enriched Dough

I found Paul's recipe easier in the execution, all the ingredients in one bowl and mix, then knead, however it makes for a very wet dough that is difficult to knead. In the end, I had to attack mine with dough hooks attached to my hand whisk. The dough proved well enough, but after cutting the circles out the muffins proved sideways rather than upwards, leaving some very large but slightly flat muffins.

Paul Hollywood English Muffin - Butter and Milk Enriched Dough

Overall both Gary and I agreed that we preferred the taste of the original recipe we were used to, although these were still of course much nicer than shop bought. I really think that the natural yoghurt gives an extra depth of flavour to the muffins, and that will always be my preferred recipe, though I may use Paul's as a back up if I don't have any yoghurt to hand.

English Muffins - Natural Yoghurt Enhanced Dough

I am re-posting my muffin recipe from a few months ago here, as it is my preferred way of making them.


7 grams fast action yeast
125 ml tepid water
75 grams natural yoghurt
225 grams strong white bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
handful of semolina

  • In a medium sized bowl, dissolve the yeast in about half of the water. Add the remaining water and the natural yoghurt, and mix well until smooth and combined. 
  • Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the salt and quickly stir. 
  • Pour the liquid mixture into the flour, and mix together to make a dough.
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead well for 5 - 10 minutes until a smooth pliable dough is formed. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to prove for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. 
  • Turn the dough back out on the surface, and knead quickly to knock back. Roll the dough out to about 2 cm thick, and cut out rounds about 3 inches wide. Knead the offcuts back together, re-roll and continue to cut out rounds until all the dough has been used. 
  • Place the rounds on a lightly floured baking tray, sprinkle the semolina over the tops, cover, and leave again to rise for about 40 minutes.
  • Heat a little oil in a large frying pan. Place the muffins in the pan, and cook for about 7 minutes on both sides. Keep the heat down low so as not to burn the outside of the muffins before the inside cooks. 
  • Set aside to cool. These muffins can be kept for a couple of days in an airtight container, just halve and toast and they are ready to eat. 

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Mary Berry's Angel Food Cake - GBBO Technical Challenge One

Forget the start of the new football season. Forget that The X Factor returns to screens next weekend. Forget the release date of that big summer blockbuster. Because, in our community, there is only one date that matters - the launch of this years series of The Great British Bake Off.

On Tuesday of this week the show kicked off in spectacular style, as we all expected it to. This year, I will be blogging my thoughts along with the show for By Book Or By Cook, the marketing department for Orion Books cookery department. You can read my review of the first episode here. Check back every week to for the latest episode review. 

Meanwhile over on this site, each week I will be tackling the technical challenge from the show. This is the section of the show where the contestants are given a bake that they haven't prepared for, with a half completed recipe to test their technical knowledge in piecing it together. 

Vanilla and Blueberry Angel Food Cake

This week, the technical challenge is Angel Food Cake. This is a type of cake made from just egg whites, sugar and flour, to form a fat free, light, fluffy cake that almost melts in the mouth. The version that Mary Berry challenged the bakers with was flavoured with lemon zest, and drizzled in a lemon curd with passion-fruit seeds. I think the inspiration for the lemon curd topping comes from the fact that the cake recipe calls for 10 egg whites, that's a lot of egg, and a lot of leftover yolk. You can find Mary Berry's exact recipe from the show is here on the BBC Food website

I already had a couple of jars of lemon curd, and didn't really fancy making more, but I really didn't fancy wasting the 10 egg yolks. The solution that I found came in the shape of this amazing product - Two Chick Liquid Egg Whites. I found mine in the ready-rolled pastry section of my local supermarket, next to the butters, and it comes in a 500ml carton, which is the equivalent of 15 medium egg whites. Perfect!

Two Chicks Liquid Egg White

Thanks to the show, and the mishaps that befell some of the contestants, I had a good idea of the pitfalls in making this cake, and combined with the fact that I had Mary's full recipe to hand, I felt pretty confident. The only area for concern was that I don't own a specialist Angel Food Cake tin, with the little feet. The tin is really important for the cake, for two reasons. One, because the egg white is the only raising agent in the cake, the tin cannot be greased, and shouldn't be non-stick, to allow the cake to stick to the sides of the tin in order to rise. And secondly, the cake has to be cooled upside down in the tin, to prevent it sinking back into itself! The closest I had was this 12" springform tin, with a bundt style insert. It'd have to do!

As I decided against the lemon curd version of the recipe, I had a look at what was in the house, and settled on a punnet of blueberries that was in the freezer. So here is my Vanilla and Blueberry Angel Food Cake, adapted from Mary Berry's recipe from the Great British Bake Off. 

Vanilla and Blueberry Angel Food Cake


333 ml liquid egg white, or 10 medium egg whites
300 grams white caster sugar
125 grams plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

300 ml double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar

200 grams blueberries
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 tbsp water


Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Sift the plain flour into a mixing bowl, and add 200 grams of the caster sugar and set aside. Put the egg whites in a large mixing bowl, and whisk with a hand whisk for around 30 seconds, or until frothy...

Add the salt, cream of tartar and the vanilla extract, and whisk again to soft peaks. You can tell the whites are at soft peak when you remove the whisk, and the whites form a little peak that doesn't quite hold its shape...

Next, add the remaining 100 grams of caster sugar a spoonful at a time, and stir into the whites by hand. Once all of the sugar has been added in, use the whisk to whip the eggs up to a firm peak, but not stiff. The mixture will turn glossy...

Sprinkle around a third of the flour and sugar mix over the top of the whipped whites, and fold in gently, making sure not to knock any of the air out of the eggs. Add the remaining flour mix, and fold through again until combined...

Transfer the mixture to the tin. Gently shake the tin to make sure that the mixture is evenly distributed and there are no air pockets. Put the tin in the oven, and bake for around 40 minutes...

Check the cake after around 30 minutes, it is ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Once the cake is cooked, remove from the oven, and then it needs to be cooled upside down to prevent it from sinking. Although my tin wasn't the right Angel Food Cake tin, the insert that converts it to a bundt tin is taller on the inside than the edges of the cake, so when I turned it upside down, the cake was suspended above the cooling rack...

Angel Food Cake cooling suspended upside down

Whilst the cake is cooling, prepare the blueberry compote. Place the blueberries, vanilla sugar and water in a pan, and cook over a gentle heat until the blueberries have broken down, and the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Transfer to a dish and set aside to cool. 

Once the cake has cooled, slide a knife around the inner and outer edges to release the sides. Use a pallet knife to release the top of the cake from the base. This was the only problem I encountered with my tin, as the scalloped design was a little tricky to release without the tin being greased, therefore some of the top of the cake cake away, but not in any great catastrophe...

Whisk the double cream and icing sugar together until thickened to soft peaks, the coat the top and sides of the cake, smoothing over with a pallet knife...

Spoon the cooled blueberry compote over the top of the cake, and refrigerate until set...

This cake is so light and fluffy, Paul described it as tasting like marshmallow on Tuesday's show and he was absolutely right! I've never eaten an Angel Food Cake before, and this is like no cake I've ever tasted, but my goodness is it good! Because it's so light, you can have a good hearty slice and it doesn't sit heavy at all. The vanilla and blueberry combination is always good, and the tartness of the blueberry compote here is the perfect balance to the sweet cream and fluffy vanilla cake. I will definitely be experimenting with Angel Food Cake more in the future!

Monday, 19 August 2013

No-Bake Amaretto Cheesecake

This is a really simple no-bake cheesecake recipe that packs a punch, and tastes so much more complex than it really is. I made this recently for a girly night in, and it went down a storm! Amaretti biscuits and lashings of sweet amaretto liqueur paired with creamy soft cheese work so well together, this creation has gone straight to the top of my favourites list and I will be making this again and again! 


For the base;

200g amaretti biscuits
7 teaspoons amaretto liqueur
50g butter

For the cheesecake filling;

300g cream cheese
50g icing sugar
3 tablespoons amaretto
150ml double cream


First make the biscuit base. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat, then set aside. Crush the amaretti biscuits either using a food processor or with a rolling pin.

Add the melted butter and the amaretto and stir through so that all of the biscuit crumbs are evenly coated.

Spread the biscuit mixture into an 8 inch tin (preferably loose bottomed as it will be easier to remove) and press down firmly to form a solid base. Place in the fridge and chill for an hour until set. 

Next make the cheesecake filling. Put the cream cheese, amaretto and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat together. Then add the double cream, and whisk the mixture until combined and the cream has thickened. The mixture should hold a stiff peak. Transfer the cheesecake mixture to the tin with the set base.

Spread the mixture evenly across the base, making sure there are no air pockets. Level the top, and return to the fridge for at least 3 hours to set firm. 

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the tin to release the cheesecake, and remove from the tin. Transfer to a plate to serve. 

This cheesecake is thick, and creamy, with the sweetness coming from the amaretto liqueur instead of too much sugar. The base is more moist than a normal digestive biscuit base due to the structure of the amaretti biscuits and the added amaretto. 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

What I've Been Up To Lately...

I've been a little absent from my keyboard for the last few weeks, so I thought I'd write a little post to show you what I've been up to lately. As you know, cake decorating is kind of my baby. I have a business idea and plan in the back of my mind, and I'm hopeful that within the next 18 months to 2 years I will be in a position to get the wheels in motion. 

I've always known that it's going to take a little while to get a professional cake business off the ground. The main issue I have at the moment is that we live in a rented property that's not ideal to run a business from. Rather then forcing the issue, my plan is to spend a couple of years building a portfolio of designs, getting plenty of practice, and learning from my mistakes, whilst at the same time saving towards our own place that will of course be cake business perfect! 

It's a solid plan - each cake teaches me a few new lessons in how to (or not to) do things. My rule is that I will make cakes for friends and family, at the cost of ingredients. I get to develop my skills and portfolio, they get a cake. The hard part now seems to be being strong enough to stay firmly on the right path. Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and it would be very easy to get carried away on people's enthusiasm, however until I am ready to deal with Environmental Health and the Tax Man I have to keep things strictly to friends and family. 

Anyway, here is a little round up of the projects that have kept me away from my blog the last few weeks...

This little fella had a back story. The recipient of the cake is apparently very proud of his lawn, but has to battle with the kid's rabbit who likes to run around eating the flower beds! 

I made this cake right in the middle of the big heatwave, and learned a very important lesson - fondant melts quickly in the heat, and buttercream melts even quicker! Getting the grass stripes to stay put whilst I positioned the next was nigh on impossible, but we got there in the end. In the absence of an air conditioned kitchen, I very much learned that when it's hot, do cake decorating in the middle of the night! 

Next up was this remake of the classic Sex Pistols album cover 'Never Mind The Bo****ks'. A few changes in wording to make it kid friendly, and we have a birthday cake for an old school punk fan! 

This was a last minute creation for a friend who lives a great distance away, and came about 2 months after her birthday, hence the belated message! Wicked the Musical has a lot of significance for her so it was nice to work the theme into this cake. We went for an overall theme of Elphaba, the wicked witch, but added a little sparkle with stars and pink glitter to capture a little of the essence of Glinda! 

This Hello Kitty cake was one of my favourites to make, maybe something to do with my inner ballerina princess? Re-creating such a recognisable character was a little daunting as there is no real room for error, and children are of course the most discerning of judges, so some careful planning and stencilling was needed to make sure that Kitty came out just right! 

I loved everything about making this Skittles cake, including all the extra Skittles that just had to be eaten (I may have been slightly buzzing on e-numbers by the end). My facebook page went wild for this design when I posted it - by far one of the most popular to date I think! 

This weekend I've made a serious amount of cakes, seven to be exact! Four were little samplers for my brother's oldest friends for their wedding next year. This was the first of the other three, a simple white chocolate and strawberry cake for my friend's birthday (her favourite) after which we went for Chinese food and beers! I decorated this one with some simple fondant roses in bright colours and a little gift tag. 

Peppa Pig was a last minute request from my brother for a kids party he was going to with his girlfriend. As I reside in a kid free house I don't have much knowledge of Peppa and her friends if I'm honest, but trusty google led the way on this one, and I had a message telling me she was a big hit!

And last but by no means least, this Sheffield United cake has just been picked up by an old friend for her partner's birthday this week. 

So there we are! Another eight cakes to add to my growing picture gallery, and hopefully you can see why I have had to neglect you all recently! I promise however that there is a recipe coming soon for an epic Amaretto Cheesecake that will make all things right again! Happy Sunday one and all, I'm off to find some wine! xx

Thursday, 1 August 2013

August's Feel Good Food Challenge

This month's key ingredient for Feel Good Food was one of the original contenders for the first challenge back in June. I chose it because it comes in so many different forms, has so many different uses in cooking and baking, and of course, most importantly, has so many health benefits.

I am of course, talking about GINGER. Be it freshly grated ginger root, ground ginger, crystallised or pickled ginger, this month, I want your ginger recipes please! 

To encourage you, some of the linked health benefits to ginger include;
  • Ginger contains a number of compounds that aid gastrointestinal functions including digestion
  • A recent study indicates that daily consumption of ginger can ease muscle pain associated with exercise
  • Some studies have shown ginger to be very effective in reducing nausea linked to seasickness, pregnancy and even nausea brought on by chemotherapy
The rules are as follows;
  • Recipes should be submitted by midnight on the 28th. 
  • Recipes do not need to be calorie controlled, but wherever possible, try to use wholemeal carbohydrates (flour, pasta, rice etc) to make them as nutritious as possible.
  • You can enter as many recipes into the challenge as you like, the more the merrier. Existing posts are welcome, as long as they contain the chosen ingredient and have been updated to include a link back to this challenge.
  • Recipes can be your own or someone else's, but if you do use an existing recipe please credit the source.
  • Posts must contain the Feel Good Food logo above, be tagged with Feel Good Food, and contain a link back to this site. 
  • Once your post is live, you can add the URL to the linky tool at the bottom of the page. Alternatively, email me a copy of the URL link to kickatthepantrydoor@gmail.com so that I know it is there, and I can include it in the round up at the end of the month. 
  • If you are on Twitter, tweet me the link at @ThePantryDoor1, using the hashtag #FeelGoodFood and I will retweet as well.