Tag Archives: Baking

Kitchen Must Have Gadgets

There is nothing quite like the smell of fresh bread in the morning but not everyone has time these days for kneading and proving, myself included. I love kitchen gadgets and if you asked me 10 years ago what my number one kitchen gadget was I would have answered “a bread maker“.

I last saw my bread maker 5 years ago when we moved from Newcastle to Warwickshire, I had always planned to replace it as soon as we moved but just never got round to it.  I now don’t have a choice but to get my hands dirty when I want the kitchen to fill with the smell of baked bread which isn’t as often as I would like.

I’ve baked a number of loafs of bread by hand over the past few years, my Olive and Walnut bread was probably my favourite, crispy on the outside and soft, fluffy and flavoursome on the inside – but it took a long time from start to finish so I’ve never made it again.


The Herby Garlic bread I made back in 2015 was a huge hit with my family, I can still remember how delicious it tasted when still warm from the oven and slathered in slated butter.  I’ve never made it since though as it was just too time consuming and my time is limited.

Herby garlic bread

There is a pattern here when it comes to making bread.  Both myself and my family love fresh bread but as I’m the one doing the cooking and I’m the one with the most limited time, it just doesn’t happen very often.

I must admit that recently I’ve been thinking about purchasing a bread maker and the one that I have my eye on is a fully automated Panasonic Bread Maker that not only bakes a standard loaf but also has settings for artisan and rustic breads and scones.  One function that’s really important to me is being able to create Pizza dough.  As a family we love homemade pizza so having a machine that can prepare the dough for me is a huge selling point.  The jam function isn’t a major “need” for me but it’s something that I would find incredibly useful especially in the months when the brambles are over producing and friends provide us with their excess rhubarb from their allotment.

Bread maker

The model I’m currently looking at is the Panasonic Automatic Bread Maker SD-2511K which retails at £149.99 and appears to offer all of the functions that I require from a bread maker.  I’d love to hear from you if you own this model.

Whilst researching bread makers I did discover that some models offer gluten free bread, pasta and cake modes which is something I’ve never seen before and it shows just how far kitchen gadgets have come on over the years, I know these machines will appeal to a lot of my friends who struggle with gluten.

Do you own a bread maker? What’s your favourite machine recipe?

*collaborative post

Black Forest Cupcakes

Black Forest Cupcakes

Black Forest Gateau instantly reminds me of my grandfather, we often used to have it for dessert on a Saturday afternoon when I was younger after eating one of his mammoth dinners, I haven’t eaten it for years so when I was cleaning out one of my kitchen cupboards last week and came across a bottle of kirsch that we got for Christmas I had a huge urge to eat a black forest gateau.

I wondered if I could somehow transfer the black forest flavours of the gateau to cupcakes instead as they seem to go down much better in the Gourmand house than a huge cake and thus my black forest cupcakes were born.

My recipe made exactly 12 delicious cupcakes (made in muffin cases) and if like me you’re a fan of the retro black forest gateau you might like to give these a try.

70g unsalted butter

170g plain flour

250g caster sugar

50g cocoa powder

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

201ml whole milk

2 large eggs

12 tinned cherries

a good glug of Kirsch

300ml whipping cream

12 glace cherries

1 square of dark chocolate for grating

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a muffin tray with muffin cases, I pulled my 6 hole tray out first so made two batches.

Beat the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt together in a mixer until they form a crumb consistency. In a jug mix the eggs and milk.  With the mixer on slow gradually add half of the liquid into the crumb mixture and speed up the mixer to medium to ensure the mixture has no lumps. Turn the speed back down and add the remaining liquid until the mixture is smooth.

black forest cupcake mixture

using an ice cream scoop place a small scoop of the mixture into the muffin cases, pop in a cherry and half a teaspoon of kirsch, add another small scoop of the mixture to cover the cherry and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until springy to the touch.

When the cakes have cooled, remove from the oven and place the cakes on to a cooling rack.

Pierce the cakes with a skewer and carefully pour about a teaspoon of the kirsch over each cake.

black forest cupcakes

Once the cakes have cooled pipe the cream onto the cakes, top with a cherry and grate over some chocolate.

Black Forest cupcakes Black forest cupcakes


Plaited Milk Loaf

A milk loaf is one of those breads that is loved by every member of the Gourmand family, I love a fresh loaf of bread but I don’t always have the time to make it as Baby Gourmand is guaranteed to do something he shouldn’t while my back is turned in the kitchen.  I’ve recently taken to making this loaf rather than a typical loaf of bread as I can get Baby Gourmand to help me knead and plait it and he’s more than happy to wait while I do all of the boring bits like pour the ingredients into the bowl and stir the mixture if he knows he can participate.

Milk Loaf

To make this loaf you will need:

500g strong white bread flour
30g unsalted butter
25g caster sugar
320ml whole milk (warm)
7g sachet of instant yeast
1 tsp salt
Vegetable or coconut oil
1 egg and some extra milk for a egg wash before baking (If you have an allergy to egg just use milk)

I’m lazy and make my bread in a food mixer but you can quite easily make this by hand it just takes a little longer.

Place the butter and flour into the mixing bowl and mix until no large lumps remain. Add the salt to the left of the bowl, the sugar in the middle and the yeast to the right of the bowl. Add two thirds of the milk a little at a time, and mix on a low speed until a soft dough is formed.

Oil your work surface and knead the dough until it is soft, smooth, silky, and elastic. I tend to do it for a few minutes, let Baby Gourmand have a turn and then finish it myself. Place the dough into an oiled mixing bowl and cover loosely with cling film, leave it to rise for a couple of hours.

For some reason this dough is a champion riser, it’s almost magical going back into the kitchen to see how much the dough has grown and Baby Gourmand is always mesmerised by it. You are looking for the dough to have tripled in size.

Put the cling film covering the bowl to one side and knock back the dough as gently as possible and turn out on to an oiled work surface.  Divide the dough into three even portions, I usually let Baby Gourmand do this and as you can see by the photograph they are not even at all but he’s learning and I’m confident that one day his 3 sections will be perfect.

Squeeze your 3 pieces of dough together at one end and start folding the sides towards the centre to form your plait, again I let Baby Gourmand do this as his reward for being so

Place the plaited loaf on a lined baking tray, cover loosely again with the same oiled cling film as before, and set it aside to rise. Once the plait has at least doubled in size but not so large that it spills from the baking sheet brush gently all over with a little egg wash, and pop into an oven at 180 and bake it for 25 minutes until the crust is a dark brown colour and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.


Pin this recipe for later.

plaited milk loaf recipe



Olive And Walnut Bread

We love bread in all of its forms but artisan bread that is cooked without a tin is one of our favourites.  This olive and walnut bread was made to go with a mixed tomato and mozzarella salad and boy was it good.  I’m not great at writing down my recipes as my best dishes usually come from throwing in a little bit of this and a little bit of that so you may need to slightly adjust the measurements to get something that works for you.

Olive and Walnut Bread

To make the olive and walnut bread you will need:

400g Very strong wholemeal bread flour
250g Strong white bread flour
2tbsp light muscovado sugar
100g Walnuts chopped and toasted
100 mixed olives chopped
1½tsp Salt
1 yeast sachet
3tbsp Olive oil
450ml Warm water


I used a kitchen aid mixer with dough attachment to make this bread but you could also do it by hand if you don’t have a mixer. Combine the flour, salt, rosemary and yeast in the mixing bowl.  Add the water and oil, mix on low speed until a rough dough forms. Cover with cling film and let it rest for 10 minutes.

After the dough has rested, add the chopped olives and continue to mix until it is smooth.

Take the dough out of the mixing bowl and place on a floured surface, flatten it out with your hands, and sprinkle it with the walnuts. Knead by hand until all of the walnuts are incorporated.

Rub a clean mixing bowl with olive oil, place your bread dough in, and cover with cling film until it has doubled in size.

After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into two equal portions. Knead each portion and form into loaves.  Place your dough balls onto an oiled baking sheet.

Allow the loaves to rise for about 1 hour; preheat the oven to 180°c.

Slash the loaves 3-4 times with a knife before putting them in the oven, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until well-browned and hollow sounding when you knock on the bottom. Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes on a wire rack before slicing.

Let me know if you decide to try this recipe.


Five Ways to Make Your Kitchen the Social Hub of Your Home

When the kids get older, it can be hard to keep a sense of family in your home – especially with conflicting schedules and teenage angst. I find that being a parent of both a toddler and a teenager means that life really does get in the way of you spending quality time with the ones you love even though you live in the same house. But bringing the clan together could be easier than you think…

Here are five ways to use the busiest area in the home – the kitchen – to get the family socialising together, spending some quality time.

Curry with Tilda Rice

Food, glorious food

There could be no better place to start than with food; the true focal point of the kitchen. The promise of a big, family meal is the best catalyst for getting everyone in one room. There’s also something very satisfying about everyone eating the same meal, taken from big sharing bowls in the centre of the table.

When looking for some simple meal ideas that could provide to be tasty as well as worthy of a gathering, you can find inspiration from Jamie Oliver – including a yummy veggie chilli recipe – and a great selection from Netmums that keep to a strict budget. You don’t have to spend a lot to get a family meal together, and cooking in batch can provide a selection of meals for the next week or longer if you freeze.

Cosy vs open plan

If your home has a garden or yard off the kitchen, you have the option of creating a transitioning space. Bifold doors offer the option of keeping your kitchen as a cosy haven filled with warming foods – especially good in winter – or you can open up the doors to create an open plan space where your garden and kitchen become one large area. Wrap up warm and you could have a BBQ for the family or even enjoy a small fireworks display, with enough room for extended family and friends to join in on the fun.

The ability to change up your living space is a great way to ensure that kitchen is the go-to place for the family congregating.  We have a balcony off our lounge that backs on to the kitchen window which means that in the warmer weather we can just pass dishes through the window and enjoy some alfresco dining.


Making the most of breakfast

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not make this the consistent, steady meeting time for your brood? With so many after school/work activities going on throughout the year, having a family breakfast could be the easiest option for quality family time.

Going all out with pancakes or a full English could be a little ambitious, but simply having your dining table packed full of cereals, toast and jams will be enough to entice them out of their beds and into your kitchen to fuel for the morning ahead.

And remember, time is your friend so try to prepare as much as possible in advance, especially if you fancy mixing things up a bit. This article from Buzzfeed is great for some time-saving ideas and unusual breakfast ideas.

philadelphia whipped

Gatherings to remember

It may seem as though this article is attempting to get you to bribe your children with food and fun to spend time with you, but these ideas are merely a starting point to getting everyone in one room communicating and enjoying themselves.

The fourth tip is to have regular gatherings that establish your home and your kitchen as a place to socialise and relax. You can mix it up with tea parties, garden parties, themed food nights – Mexican, French, Italian etc – or even drinks and nibbles for a cheap Saturday night in. Another great idea is to have a small buffet that leads to the main event: the dessert station. The idea of ‘make your own’ is so appealing to children and adults alike, and can be as simple as offering three or so desserts with a selection of accompaniments and toppings. A little glutinous, but definitely a crowd pleaser!

Mini Gourmand Tiramisu

Whipping up a storm

Even though we’re back to food (it is the best use of a kitchen after all), cooking, baking or learning the ropes is a great excuse to get the family together. Teach the little ones how to make cakes, or work with the older children to try out brand new recipes that excite the whole family. An afternoon in the kitchen together will provide an opportunity to make lasting memories, whether they be of burnt cupcakes or casserole triumphs!

This activity will also provide your children with the cooking skills that everyone should have when they leave home and begin feeding themselves. A few key recipes can be the difference between healthy eating and a constant dependency on the local takeaway…

*Sponsored Post

Christmas Cupcakes

I love mince pies at Christmas time so make no mistake about that, I do appreciate that not everyone shares the same mince pie appreciation as I do and it’s because of this that I decided to make these Christmas cupcakes.

Christmas Cupcakes

I wasn’t trying to disguise the fact that these cupcakes contain a little mincemeat I was merely trying to convert those who just don’t like the combination of pastry and mincemeat and offer them a cupcake alternative. I’ve seen a lot of recipes where mincemeat was combined with the cake mixture and turned into a mincemeat flavoured cupcake and that’s great but these Christmas cupcakes are a bit more special than that.

Glitter christmas cupcake

For me the cupcakes are Christmas in a case, the sponge is like delicious gingerbread which is then filled with a dollop of mincemeat and topped with a icing star sprinkled with edible glitter, you don’t get more festive than that do you!

Now I do get that there will be some people out there who just can’t stomach the thought of mincemeat but fear not you can just adapt the recipe to suit your tastes and maybe use some fruit compote or jam in replacement but do give the cupcakes a try and you may be surprised.

This recipe will make 12 artisan cupcakes (muffin cases) or 20 cupcakes (fairy cake cases)

To make the cupcakes you will need:
115g softened unsalted butter
100g dark brown sugar
1 egg
120ml whole milk
2 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
167g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Ready to roll icing cut into star shapes
edible glitter

1.Preheat oven to 180°C and line a cupcake tin with cake liners.
2.In a food mixer beat the butter and sugar together until soft and creamy. Beat in the egg a little at a time until combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the milk, syrup, and vanilla extract.
3.slowly pour in the dry ingredients until combined scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
4.Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full and Bake for 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
5.Allow to cool completely and scoop a piece of cake from the top centre using a teaspoon. Fill the hole with mincemeat and top with an icing star painted with edible glitter.

The cupcakes are delicious as they are but you can serve them as a dessert with cream or custard once they start to get a little stale.

Christmas cupcakes

Apple And Plum Pie

Apple pie is the perfect autumnal pudding in my opinion.  It’s usually during this time of year that people with apple trees realise they had too good a harvest and can’t find anything else to make with their bounty of apples and I’m always there opened arms ready to take any excess they might have.

Apple and Plum pie

On this occasion I used apples that I received in a vegetable box and teamed them up with some plums that had been left in the fruit bowl.  The result was a satisfying pie with sweetness and spice.

It may surprise you that I don’t use a sweet pastry when making an apple pie, I feel the inside is sweet enough and if you serve it with custard I find the pastry doesn’t need any extra sugar.

To make the pastry you will need:
675g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch of salt
175g vegetable shortening / Lard cut into cubes
225g butter cut into cubes
1 egg yolk

I prefer to make my pastry in a food processor for ease but you can make it by hand if required.  Sift the flour and salt into a food processor. Add the shortening/lard and butter cubes and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  If you’re making this by hand you need to rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the egg yolk and pulse until the mixture comes together to form a dough. If the mixture is too dry add a little water and pulse again.  If you’re making this by hand use a wooden spoon and beat in the egg yolk before bringing the mixture together by hand.

Tip the pastry out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly. Bring the pastry together in a ball, wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

To make the fruit filling you will need:
6 cooking apples peeled, cored and sliced
3 eating apples, peeled, cored and sliced
6 plums , peeled, stones removed and sliced
2 tbsp ground almonds
115g brown sugar
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
generous grating of nutmeg

Mix the ground almonds with the sugar, allspice, cinnamon and grated nutmeg. Place in a bowl and add the fruit, mix well and put to one side.

Preheat the oven to 180C
Lightly flour the work surface and rolling pin. Remove the pastry from the fridge and set aside one-third for the pie lid. Roll out the remaining pastry until it is big enough to generously fit the pie dish. Use the rolling pin to help you lift the pastry into the pie dish and gently press it into the sides, leaving any excess pastry overhanging the sides. Return to the fridge to chill for a few minutes

When chilled, remove the pastry case from the fridge and place on a baking tray. Using a slotted spoon, place the cooled fruit into the pastry case, discarding any excess liquid. Place the pie lid on top and trim to shape.

Crimp the edges to seal and cut a small hole in the middle to let any steam escape while cooking.  Glaze the top of the pie with milk and Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and crisp.

Apple Pie

Fresh Berry Scones

I’ve never made a scone that didn’t work, that’s not me showing off or blowing my own trumpet it’s just that scones are so simple to make and great to experiment with.  I’m a fan of both sweet and savoury scones and sometimes they are so good you don’t even want to cut them and apply butter because you don’t want anything to taint the flavour and that’s how I feel about these fresh berry scones.

fresh berry scones

Don’t get me wrong, these scones are delicious with a bit of butter, jam and cream but you won’t be disappointed if you eat one straight from the cooling rack.

The inspiration for these scones came from some leftover berries that were in the fridge, there wasn’t enough to use in a cake and yes I could have sprinkled them over my porridge in the morning but where is the fun in that?

I used a mixture of fresh raspberries and blueberries in these dainty little scones but you could substitute the berries with plump dried fruit or softened apple if you wish.

berry scones

To make my Fresh Berry Scones you will need:
220g self-raising flour
50g unsalted butter
20g caster sugar
150ml full fat milk
A handful of raspberries & blueberries
1 egg beaten, for glazing to give that golden finish

Pre-heat your oven to 200 °C and lightly grease a baking tray.


In a large bowl, mix together the butter and flour using your fingertips until the butter is all mixed in. Add the fruit but try not to break it up too much as you want it to retain some texture.

Once all the fruit is combined, add 2/3 of the milk and mix very gently with a wooden spoon. Work the dough as little as possible, which will ensure you get light and fluffy scones.

If the mixture looks too dry, add a little more milk, the fruit is quite wet so you may not need to add any extra.  The mixture shouldn’t be sticky or stick to the sides of the bowl, it should  form a nice lump in the middle.

Tip the scone mixture onto a floured worktop and very lightly knead together for a few seconds until it forms a round, don’t overwork it or the fruit will breakup and the scones will be tough. Press down gently till you reach a thickness of about 4cm.

Using a round cutter, cut as many circles from the dough as you can. Gather up the leftover dough and bring together into another round that you can cut more scones from placing the ones you’ve already cut onto your baking tray a good few centimeters apart.

Using the beaten egg a pastry brush, brush the top of your scones with the egg which will give a nice golden top to your scones.

Bake for about 12–15 minutes.

fresh berry scone

Serve as they are or with jam and cream.

What’s your favourite scone flavour?

Herby Garlic Bread


Don’t you just hate those moments when you’ve ran out of bread to use for lunch the next day and you also want some garlic bread but don’t have enough flour to make both a loaf and a garlic bread? I had this dilemma and figured that I would just have to do without the garlic bread. that was until I had one of those lightbulb moments and decided to make a storecupboard/fridge herby garlic bread.


To make this loaf you will need:

500g strong white bread flour

7g sachet easy-bake dried yeast

1 clove of garlic crushed

squeeze of tomato puree

sprinkle of dried herbs

handful of grated cheese

1½ tsp salt

1 tbsp soft butter

Start by mixing the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Put in the butter and rub it into the flour. Make a dip in the centre of the flour and pour in almost 300ml hand warm water and mix with a pallet knife or your hands if you prefer.  Mix in enough of the remaining water and a bit more if needed, to gather up any dry bits in the bottom of the bowl, until the mixture comes together as a soft, not too sticky, dough. Add your extras and mix well, gather it into a ball with your hands.

Knead the dough on a  lightly floured surface for 8-10 mins until it feels smooth and elastic. Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Cover with an upturned, clean, large glass bowl and leave until doubled in size, light and springy.

Knock back the dough by gently kneading. place into a loaf tin, cover with a clean dry tea towel and leave until about doubled in size.

Place in a preheated oven 180C fan and bake for 30-35 mins or until golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack. If you tap the underneath of the loaf if should be firm and sound hollow.



Enjoy smothered with salted butter.

Autumn Mornings and Cheese Scones

Autumn is here with a bang, I could have been forgiven for thinking we were having a bit of an extended summer as the weather in Warwickshire has been glorious apart from the odd day of rain. I’ve not had to wear a coat yet this morning and I’ve noticed that trees and flowers are also a little unsure about what season we’re in.

Yesterday there was no mistaking that it was Autumn, cold, windy and dull. I had the heating on for most of the day and by 3pm it was so dark in my lounge that I needed the light on to see. I don’t know about you but on a cold, wet and windy day I always crave some sort of baked goods which can sometimes prove to be difficult when you have a toddler preventing you from doing anything that doesn’t involve him.

I had enough bread so didn’t want to make that so I made the next best thing which takes very little time to bake and very little time to cook and I suppose it also takes very little time to eat too. Cheese Scones.


Not blowing my own trumpet or anything but these scones were delicious and to make them you will need:

225g Self Raising flour
1tsp baking powder
55g salted butter
100g cheese
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
80 ml of milk
Egg for glazing

You can choose to top with extra cheese but I only had 100g so couldn’t on this occasion.

Preheat your oven to 200c. Pop all of the dry ingredients into a bowl, cut the butter into cubes and mix into the dry items with your fingertips until everything resembles breadcrumbs. Sprinkle in the grated cheese and mix in. Make a well in the centre and pour in enough milk to give a soft but still firm dough using a little bit at a time.

Flour your surface and roll out the dough until 2cm thick and using a scone cutter cut out your scones. Glaze the tops with a beaten egg and bake for 15 mins or until golden brown and cooked through.