Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This is such a fun retro cake, but until lockdown happened I’d never tried it before. Once I’d perfected my recipe I couldn’t stop making it. When I see the pretty pineapple and glace cherry topping makes me happy. The cake itself consists of a vanilla sponge, I add a little allspice to my cake for a Caribbean twist. The sponge is then topped with pineapple rings and glace cherries, and a buttery caramelised sugar syrup.

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Pineapple upside down cake is super easy to make and all the beauty of the presentation comes from how it is put together before it is baked. A layer of creamed butter and sugar is first spread on the bottom of the cake tin. The pineapple rings and glace cherries are then arranged on top of this sugar-butter mixture – you can have fun with this bit, but usually the glace cherry halves are placed in the centre of the pineapple rings. Next, the cake batter is poured on top. After the cake is baked it is then turned out onto a plate or cake stand, and voila – the pineapple and cherries now form a pretty topping.


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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Pineapple Rings: Forms the main topping of the cake and adds a slight fruity flavour to the sponge.
  • Glace Cherries: These are more decorative than for flavour.
  • Butter, Sugar, Eggs, Flour: General sponge cake ingredients.
  • Ground Allspice: Not a traditional ingredient in pineapple upside down cake, but it works really well with pineapple.

How To Make Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Step One: Pre-heat your oven to 160 °C fan (180 °C/350 °F/Gas Mark 4).

Step Two: Cream 50 g unsalted butter with 50 g caster sugar and spread this mixture on the bottom of a 18 cm cake tin.

Step Three: Arrange 6 pineapple rings on top of the butter sugar mixture. I overlap the rings in a circle. Add a 6 glace cherry halves to the centre of each of the pineapple rings such that the dome of the cherry faces down. If space permits add an additional glace cherry half to the centre of the pineapple ring circle.

Step Four: In the meantime make the cake batter. Cream together 100 g butter and 80 g caster sugar until pale and fluffy.

Step Five: Whisk in 2 medium eggs and 1 tsp vanilla essence.

Step Six: Sift in 100 g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/8 tsp ground allspice, then fold it in to the wet ingredients.

Step Seven: Pour the batter into the cake tin over the pineapple and glace cherries.

Step Eight: Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Step Nine: Allow the cake to cool in the cake tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a plate or a cake stand.

How To Serve Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  • This cake can be served warm or cold. It is perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tips for Making Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  • It is best to make this cake using a fixed bottom cake tin. However, if all you have is a loose bottom tin then be sure to place it on a baking tray as some of the butter-sugar syrup may leak.
  • Allow the cake to cool down for around 10 minutes before turning it out onto a plate or cake stand.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe


Serves:
8
Preparation Time:
10 minutes
Cooking Time:
45 – 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

for the topping:

  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 6 pineapple rings
  • 7 glace cherry halves

for the sponge cake:

  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 80 g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 100 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 °C fan (180 °C/350 °F/Gas Mark 4).
  2. Cream the butter and sugar and spread this mixture on the bottom of a 18 cm cake tin.
  3. Arrange the pineapple rings and glace cherries on top of the butter-sugar mixture.
  4. In the meantime make the cake batter. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale an fluffy.
  5. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla essence.
  6. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and allspice, then fold it in to the wet ingredients.
  7. Pour the batter into the cake tin over the pineapple and glace cherries.
  8. Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Allow the cake to cool in the cake tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a plate or a cake stand.

NOTES

  • If using a loose bottom cake tin, place it on a baking tray during baking as the butter syrup may leak.

Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake

This chocolate and cherry cake consists of multiple layers of chocolate sponge separated by layers of cherry jam and fresh cream. It’s super easy to make. The sponge can be made ahead and the cake can be assembled in a few minutes prior to eating. You can top it with additional cream, a sprinkling of cocoa powder and fresh stemmed cherries for a cute rustic look. It’s sure to impress at any tea party.

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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Self-raising flour: This gives the cake a light texture and gives it the right amount of rise as it bakes.
  • Cocoa Powder: Use good quality cocoa powder.
  • Cherry Jam: I use Hartley’s Best Black Cherry Jam
  • Cream: Whipped double cream works well. However I prefer to use Elmlea Plant Double Cream.

How To Make Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake

Step One: Pre-heat your oven to 160 °C fan, (180 °C conventional, 350 °F). Then grease and line two loose bottom 18 cm cake tins with baking paper. I use two of my trusty MasterClass 18 cm Deep Cake Tin.

Step Two: Add 200 g unsalted butter to a large mixing bowl, along with 200 g caster sugar and 1 tsp vanilla essence and cream them together until they are light and fluffy. I use my Russell Hobbs 24672 Desire Electric Hand Mixer.

Step Three: Add in 4 large eggs beaten a little at a time, whisking well after each addition.

Step Four: Sift in 200 g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 3 tbsp cocoa powder and fold in with a spatula.

Step Five: Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake tins. Bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Step Six: Leave cakes to cool in their tins for 10 minutes, before removing them from the tins. Place them on a wired baking rack to cool further.

Step Seven: Once the cakes have cooled down use a cake leveller, some dental floss or a long sharp knife to cut each one in half such that you end up with four layers.

Step Eight: Spread around 83 g cherry jam (approximately a third of the jam) on top of the first layer of chocolate sponge, leaving 2 cm from the edge. Top this with 50 ml whipped cream (around a quarter of the cream), then place the next layer of sponge on top. Repeat this for the next two layers of the cake.

Step Nine: Add the remaining 50 ml whipped cream to the top of the cake. Use a sieve to dust the top with 1 tsp cocoa powder, then top with 200 g fresh stemmed cherries, stems facing upwards.

How To Serve Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake

  • This is great for afternoon tea, bake sales or parties.

Tips for Making Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake

  • Ensure your butter (and eggs, if you keep your eggs in the fridge,) are at room temperature. Remove them from the fridge around an hour or an hour and a half before you’re ready to make the cake.
  • Do not over bake the sponge, as it will dry out at the edges.

Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake Recipe


Serves:
8 – 12
Preparation Time:
10 minutes
Baking Time:
20 – 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the sponge:

  • 200 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 large eggs beaten
  • 200 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder

For the filling and topping:

  • 200 ml double cream, whipped
  • 250 g cherry jam
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 200 g fresh stemmed cherries

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 °C fan, (180 °C conventional, 350 °F). Grease and line two loose bottom 18 cm cake tins. I use two MasterClass 18 cm Deep Cake Tins.
  2. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter, caster sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy. I use my Russell Hobbs 24672 Desire Electric Hand Mixer.
  3. Add the eggs in little by little, whisking after each addition.
  4. Sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, then fold in using a spatula.
  5. Divide the cake batter between the two baking tins. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the top of the cake springs back up when you press lightly on it, and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the cake tins. Allow them to cool further on a rack.
  7. When the cakes have cooled down, use a cake leveller, dental floss or a long sharp knife to cut each cake in half such that you end up with four layers.
  8. Spread a third of the jam on top of the bottom layer leaving 2 cm from the edge. Top this with a quarter of the whipped cream. Place a layer of chocolate sponge on top. Repeat this until the cake has four layers.
  9. Add the remaining whipped cream to the top of the cake. Lightly sift the cocoa powder on top and finally top with the cherries.

NOTES

  • You can alternatively use strawberry or raspberry jam for the filling and top with fresh berries.

Victoria Sponge

I remember Victoria Sponge cake being one of the first cakes I attempted to make by myself when I was younger, it’s what got me into baking. My mum had clipped the recipe out of a magazine for me and the measurements were in ounces. The outcome wasn’t too bad but it was a little bit meh – it was dense and the flavour always had a heavy eggy undertone, so I soon stopped making it.

Fast forward around seventeen years. One of my managers at work brought in the loveliest Victoria Sponge I’d ever tasted. It had the lightest texture and I soon fell in love with the cake once again. I decided to go on a quest to learn how to make it properly.

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The cake itself is easy to make and consists of a few simple ingredients, but I found that the true magic of the cake comes from the technique in which the ingredients are brought together. I will explain this in the “Tips” section below.


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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Unsalted Butter: This needs to be at room temperature to prevent the mixture from splitting/curdling.
  • Caster Sugar: Most Victoria Sponge recipes call for equal parts flour, sugar and butter, however I like mine a little less sweet. Therefore I reduce the sugar by around one third, since some of the sweetness will also come from the jam filling.
  • Eggs: This binds the ingredients together. It is also important for the eggs to be at room temperature to prevent curdling.
  • Self-raising flower: This is the base ingredient of the cake. Self-raising flour gives the perfect amount of rise.

How To Make Victoria Sponge

Step One: Preheat your oven to 150 °C fan (170 °C conventional / gas mark 4 / 338 °F).

Step Two: Grease and line two 18 cm round cake tins.

Step Three: Cream together 160 g unsalted butter, 1.5 tsp vanilla extract and 110 g caster sugar until light and fluffy.

Step Four: Add 3 beaten medium eggs to the sugar, butter and vanilla mixture one tablespoon at a time, mixing well between each addition of egg.

Step Five: Sift 160 g self-raising flour on top and fold it into the mixture using a wooden spoon.

Step Six: Divide the batter between the two prepared cake tins and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake springs back when you press lightly on the top and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Step Seven: Leave the cakes to cool for five minutes before removing from the tin and removing the baking paper. Leave cakes to cool on a wire rack.

Step Eight: Spread 125 g smooth strawberry jam on top of one of the cakes then top with 50 ml whipped double cream, before placing the other cake on top. Finally, sift 1 tbsp icing sugar over the top.

How To Serve Victoria Sponge

  • Serve with tea or coffee.

Tips for Making Victoria Sponge

Follow these 4 key tips to get the best results.

  • Tip 1: Ensure that the eggs and the butter are at room temperature before making the cake batter. This stops the batter from curdling. Curdled cake batter prevents the cake from rising adequately and results in crumbly cake.
  • Tip 2: Cream the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy. It’s really worth using an electric mixer for this step. Now this doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive – I made this successfully with a simple Silver Crest hand mixer from Lidl which served me well for a number of years. However, I recently upgraded to a Russell Hobbs 24672 Desire Hand Mixer, which I love – it’s a little quieter and more compact, but is still reasonably priced.
  • Tip 3: If the mixture does start to split/curdle when the eggs are added then I fix this by putting the mixture in the microwave for about 10 seconds.
  • Tip 4: When adding the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar mixture add it in a little at a time and mix well. Around one to two tablespoons of egg at a time is ideal. The mixing in between each addition aerates the cake batter which helps to produce that light and fluffy texture when baked.
  • Tip 5: Sift the flour and fold it in to the batter gently, this helps retain the air in the cake, again for that light fluffy texture at the end.

Victoria Sponge Recipe


Serves:
8
Preparation Time:
15 minutes
Baking Time:
30 – 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the sponge cake:

  • 160 g unsalted butter
  • 110 g caster sugar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 160 g self-raising flour sifted
  • 3 medium eggs beaten

For the filling:

  • 125 g smooth strawberry jam
  • 50 ml double cream whipped
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar for dusting

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 150 °C fan (170 °C conventional / gas mark 4 / 338 °F).
  2. Grease and line two 18 cm round cake tins. I would recommend the MasterClass 18 cm Deep Cake Tin which is superb quality.
  3. Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg to the sugar, butter and vanilla mixture one tablespoon at a time, mixing well between each addition of egg.
  5. Pour the flour in and fold into the mixture using a wooden spoon.
  6. Divide the batter between the cake tins and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake springs back when you press lightly on the top and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Leave the cakes to cool for five minutes before removing from the tin and removing the baking paper. Leave cakes to cool on a wire rack.
  8. Spread jam on top of one of the cakes then top with the cream, before placing the other cake on top. Finally, sift the icing sugar over the top.

NOTES

  • Most Victoria Sponge recipes use equal parts sugar, butter and flour, but I find this too sweet. In my version I’ve reduced the sugar by about a third since the jam also adds some sweetness.
  • I use Hartley’s Seedless Strawberry Jam for the filling.
  • I’m not that big on dairy so I substitute the cream with Elmlea Plant Double Cream Alternative. It has a lovely rich creamy taste and whips really well. It also has less fat than regular double cream, if you’d like to save some calories (I know it’s cake, but if it can taste great and be healthier that’s always a win in my book).

The Best Air Fryer Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

I am currently embroiled in a love affair with my new air fryer (yes, I’m such a kitchen geek)! I’d wanted one of these for a couple of years now, but had always talked myself out of buying one. I thought it would be just another kitchen gadget that I’d quickly loose interest in, that would remain on my kitchen counter taking up precious space. However, I could not have been more wrong. These things are amazing! I honestly wish I had bought one sooner. Somehow they add crispness and flavour to foods even without prior marinating (and I’m the marinating queen) and all with minimal oil.

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After lots of research I decided on the Ninja AF100UK as it seemed perfect for a family of four, and I have not been disappointed. It’s really easy to use (I used it without looking at the manual) and cleaning up is easy as the pan and grilling tray are non-stick and can be popped into the dishwasher. Honestly, I’ve found a way to use it every day since it arrived and the great thing is that I can make healthier meals for my family without compromising on the taste.

One of my kids’ favourite treats are freshly fried cinnamon sugar donuts (the kind I remember getting at the fair when I was little), so I decided to have a go at making an air fryer version based on the US style biscuit dough. The donuts are so quick and easy to make and cook in 5 minutes. They are then coated in butter and dipped in delicious cinnamon sugar – the butter gives the cinnamon sugar something to cling on to. The result is a tasty light and airy sugary donut that the family can easily polish off in one sitting. And unlike the deep fried version there was no excess oil to have to somehow discard afterwards.


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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Flour: I use plain flour
  • Baking Powder: Gives the donut a light and airy texture.
  • Butter: I use unsalted butter. This helps to ensure that the texture is not too dry.
  • Milk: My milk of preference is oat milk, but this will work well with whole dairy milk too. The milk binds the ingredients together.
  • Cinnamon Sugar: Just a simple mix of caster sugar and cinnamon, but the ratio has to be correct to get that perfect fair ground donut taste.

How To Make Air Fryer Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Step One: Pre-heat your air fryer at 200 °C for 3-5 minutes.

Step Two: Add 225 g plain flour to a large mixing bowl. Add in 1 tbsp baking powder, 0.25 tsp fine sea salt, 20 g caster sugar and 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg and mix well with a wooden spoon.

Step Three: Add in 75 g unsalted butter cold and cubed and use the tips of your fingers to rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles course bread crumbs.

Step Four: Use a measuring jug to measure out 80 ml milk. Add in 1 tsp vanilla essence and stir well.

Step Five: Slowly add in the milk mixture to the flour-butter breadcrumbs. Use a wooden spoon to bring the mixture together to form a soft dough.

Step Six: Roll the dough out onto a floured surface until it is around 1 cm thick. Fold the dough into three (like how you would fold an A4 piece of paper to fit into a DL envelope). Repeat this step two more times.

Step Seven: Now roll the dough out so that it is around 1.5 cm to 2 cm thick.

Step Eight: Use a 5 cm round cookie cutter to cut out 8 donuts. Roll the remaining dough into a ball and then roll out with a rolling pin again until it is 1.5 cm to 2 cm thick and cut out a further four donuts.

Step Nine: Use a shot glass to cut out donut holes from the donuts. Reserve the donut holes.

Step Ten: Brush the tops of the donuts and donut holes with some of the 200 g melted butter. Then turn the over and brush the other side with butter. Set aside the remaining butter

Step Eleven: Add the donuts to the crisper tray of the air fryer and air fry at 200 °C for 5 minutes, turning them half way for even cooking. Then add the donut holes to the air fryer and air fry them for 3 minutes, again turn them half way. Depending on the size of your air fryer you may need to cook the donuts and donut holes in batches.

Step Twelve: Use a silicone brush to brush the tops of the donuts and donut holes with the remaining melted butter. Then turn them over and brush the other side with butter. For a more indulgent donut brush the top and bottom of the donuts with butter twice. This allows the donut to absorb more butter.

Step Thirteen: In a large bowl mix together 75 g caster sugar and 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon.

Step Fourteen: Dip the donuts into the cinnamon sugar until they are coated. Enjoy them while they are warm.

How To Serve Air Fryer Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

  • Air Fryer donuts are definitely best served warm.
  • You can even make a chocolate dipping sauce for the donuts by mixing some Nutella with milk until it is the right consistency for dipping.

Tips for Making Air Fryer Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

  • Open the air fryer and check on the donuts regularly when air frying the donuts. You want the donuts to go brown, but not to be overcooked as they will dry out.
  • When brushing the donuts with butter really try to ensure that all the surfaces of the donuts are coated with butter, especially the holes. Really get your silicon brush in there.
  • Double brushing the donuts with butter once they are cooked enhances gives the donuts more flavour and also gives the cinnamon sugar more to cling on to.

Air Fryer Cinnamon Sugar Donuts Recipe


Makes:
12 donuts and
12 donut holes
Preparation Time:
15 minutes
Cooking Time:
3 – 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the donuts:

  • 235 g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 0.25 tsp fine sea salt
  • 20 g caster sugar
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 75 g unsalted butter cold and cubed
  • 80 ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract        
  • 1 medium egg beaten

For greasing the donuts before and after air frying:

  • 200 g melted butter

For the cinnamon sugar coating:

  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat air fryer to 200 °C for 3-5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and nutmeg.
  3. Add in the cold butter and use your finger tips to work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles course breadcrumbs.
  4. In a jug or cup mix together the milk and the vanilla essence.
  5. Slowly pour this milk mixture into the breadcrumbs mixture and use a wooden spoon to bring it together into a dough.
  6. Place the dough onto a floured surface and roll it out until it is around 1 cm thick. Fold the dough in 3 (like how you would fold an A4 sheet of paper if you were trying to fit it into a DL envelope). Roll out the dough again and repeat this twice.
  7. Now roll the dough out so that it is around 1.5 – 2 cm thick . Use a round cookie cutter to cut out 8 donuts. Roll the remaining dough into a ball and re-roll it out until it is 1.5 – 2 cm thick. Cut a further four donuts out.
  8. Brush the tops and bottoms of the donuts and donut holes with some of the melted butter.
  9. Place the donuts and donut holes onto the crisper try the air fryer. Cook the donuts for 5 minutes and the donut holes for 3 minutes. Turn them half way. You may need to air fry them in batches depending on the size of your air fryer.
  10. Brush the tops and bottoms of the donuts and donut holes with melted butter. You can brush them with butter twice for extra flavour.
  11. Make the cinnamon sugar by combining the sugar and the cinnamon. Dip the donuts and donut holes into the cinnamon sugar until they are coated.

NOTES

  • These are best devoured while they are warm.
  • Don’t over cook as they will get hard.

Vegan Hot Chocolate

In keeping with my theme of hygge for January (and as a nod to Vaganuary), there’s nothing more cosy than indulging in a hot chocolate and a slice of cake on the sofa whilst snuggled under a warm blanket. Here is my favourite hot chocolate recipe – it’s rich, smooth and vegan. It’s really quick and easy to make and requires only 4 ingredients.

Now, I’m not actually vegan, and I don’t think I ever will be (since I love meat so much), however I do recognise and value the health and environmental benefits of plant based foods. For these reasons I started incorporating vegan dishes into my diet. And I actually believe that some vegan foods actually taste better than their animal product containing counterparts. A prime example is the vegan hot chocolate recipe. It’s so creamy and delicious, and all without the dairy!

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Vegan Hot Chocolate Recipe

Makes: 1 mug
Preparation Time: 1 minute
Heating Time: 1-1.5 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • oat milk

METHOD

  1. Add the cocoa powder, brown sugar and cinnamon to a microwavable mug and mix well.
  2. Add a few drops of milk and mix well to make a paste. Keep adding the milk a few drops at a time until the paste starts to thin out. Then stir in the rest of the milk.
  3. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir and enjoy!

NOTES

  • If making hot chocolate for a number of people then just multiply the quantities by the number of mugs required. Add the dry ingredients to a sauce pan and mix well before gradually adding in the oat milk and mixing well. Heat on a low-medium heat for around 3-4 minutes. Do not let it boil.
  • Serve topped with plant based whipped cream – I love whipping up some Elmlea Double Plant Cream Alternative. Mini marshmallows are also preferable.
  • I would recommend Oatly oat drink as a non-dairy alternative to milk as it doesn’t curdle like some oat milks do and it doesn’t have the strong taste that you often get with coconut or nut-based milks.

Paratha Roti

I love bread and pretty much anything full of carbs (though I really do try hard to to make sure I eat in moderation – so difficult). I’ve been experimenting with flat breads such as naan and tortillas, but I’m really loving roti at the moment, especially the Trinidadian-style paratha roti which also goes by the edgy name of “buss up shut”. This flat bread is soft but is super flaky. It is normally eaten with meat or lentil curries as the flaky texture of the roti makes it perfect for dipping into sauces. In Trinidad the colloquial term “buss up shut” refers a shirt that worn and torn up, the texture of the flaky parathas looks similar to this, hence the alias of “buss up shut” when referring to the roti.

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Rotis are surprisingly made from only a few basic ingredients that you’re already likely to have in your kitchen: flour, water, sugar , salt, oil, baking powder and butter. It is the technique when making the dough that produces the flakiness. In essence the dough is rolled out flat and brushed with butter before being rolled into a special cone shape and left to rest. Prior to cooking these dough cones are rolled out flat. It is the layers of dough separated by the butter that produces the flakes.


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Paratha Roti Recipe

Makes: 8 rotis
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 450 g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp caster sugar
  • 220 ml water
  • 115 g butter melted

METHOD

  1. In a large bowl add the flour, baking powder, oil, salt and sugar and mix well.
  2. Add the water in use your hands to form a dough. Knead it in the bowl for 2-3 minutes. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into eight balls.
  4. On a floured surface use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a thin circle approximately 27-28 cm in diameter.
  5. Brush the top surface of the dough circle with some of the melted butter and then lightly sprinkle some flour on top.
  6. Cut a radial slit from the centre of the dough circle to the edge. Take the dough at one edge of the slit and roll the dough into a tall cone enveloping the buttered surface. Place the cone on a plate and push inwards the peak of the cone.
  7. Repeat steps 4 to 6 for the remaining dough balls. Cover with clingfilm and leave these slightly flattened dough cones to rest for a further 30 minutes.
  8. On a low-medium heat brush the base of a frying pan with butter. Roll one of the dough cones out on a floured surface such that it forms a 28 cm diameter circle again. I use a Tefal frying pan for this, click here for more details.
  9. Place on the frying pan and brush the top surface with melted butter. Allow it to cook for around 3 minutes until it begins to puff up. Flip it over and allow the roti to cook for a further 3 minutes.
  10. Repeat steps 8 to 9 for the remaining dough cones.

NOTES

  • Serve with lentils or a curry.
  • These are also ideal for making wraps.

Banana Bread

I know I’m a bit late to the banana bread party (everyone seemed to be baking banana bread during quarantine/lockdown!), but I found myself making banana bread today and wanted to share my favourite go-to recipe. This banana bread is so quick and easy to make – it can be prepared in less than 10 minutes! The result is a moist banana bread that is not overly sweet. It’s ideal as a snack, but because it is less sweet than some versions it’s also really good for breakfast spread with Nutella.

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Banana Bread Recipe

Makes: 1 loaf
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Baking: 45-50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 115 g unsalted butter melted, plus extra for greasing the loaf tin
  • 3 medium bananas mashed
  • 2 large eggs beaten at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp almond essence
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 240 g plain flour

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 °C fan (190 °C conventional). Grease a 2lb (23 cm x 13 cm) loaf tin with unsalted butter.
  2. Pour the butter into a large bowl and mix in the bananas eggs, vanilla essence and almond essence.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and flour.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients one third at a time and mixing well.
  5. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean
  6. Leave to cool in the loaf tin for 5 minutes before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack.

NOTES

  • This is delicious served warm.
  • Great for breakfast spread with chocolate spread.

Siopao (Filipino Sweet Steamed Buns)

Siopao has to be one of my ultimate favourite Filipino snacks. It is essentially the Filipino adaptation of the Chinese barbecue pork bun (“char siu bao”). It consists of a sweet bread-like dough filled with a saucy barbecue or hoisin-style meat. The bun is steamed in a Chinese bamboo steamer resulting in a light and fluffy white bun that is slightly glossy on the outside.

Siopao (pronounced “sio-pau“) is a popular Filipino street food. It is typically filled with pork, although there are other variations with minced chicken and mixed meats and salted duck egg as fillings. In my version I use shredded chicken. Siopao can be enjoyed pretty much any time of the day – from breakfast to a heavy snack to a light lunch. In the Philippines it is often requested as a snack by kids on their way home from school. My fussy child absolutely loves to eat siopao when she gets home from school.

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Siopao Recipe

Makes: 10 buns
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Leavening Time: 2 hours
Cooking Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

For the buns:

  • 400 g plain flour
  • 70 g sugar
  • 7 g fast acting yeast
  • 0.5 tbsp baking powder
  • 160 ml milk lukewarm
  • 80 ml water lukewarm
  • 3 tbsp butter cubed and at room temperature

For the filling:

  • 625 g chicken diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 stalks spring onion white part finely chopped
  • 1.5 tsp five spice
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 120 ml water
  • corn flour slurry (2 tbsp corn flour mixed with 80 ml water)

Additional:

  • 1-2 tbsp cooking oil for oiling the bowl and the dough
  • cornflour for flouring your work surface
  • half a small cup of water for sealing the buns
  • 10 flattened out cupcake cases
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar (used during steaming)

METHOD

  1. Prepare the dough for the buns. In a large bowl add the flour, sugar, yeast and baking powder and mix well.
  2. Add the milk and water and use a wooden spoon to start to bring the ingredients together into a dough.
  3. Mix in the butter and knead the dough using a dough hook for around 6 minutes or manually for about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl, oil the bowl and then add the dough back to the bowl. Turn the dough over to ensure it is slightly oiled all over.
  5. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave the dough to rise for around 90 minutes.
  6. Next prepare the filling. Sautee the garlic and spring onions for 3 minutes. Add in the chicken, five spice, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sugar, pepper and water. Simmer on a low-medium heat with the lid off until the sauce has reduced, around 15-20 minutes, mixing every 5 minutes to ensure that the sauce doesn’t dry out.
  7. Add the cornflour slurry and mix well until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat, use two forks to shred the meat, and then leave it to cool.
  8. Once the dough has risen divide it into 10 equal sized pieces. Use cornflour to flour your surface and roll each piece into a ball. Place the balls back in the bowl and cover with a damp clean tea towel.
  9. Working with one of the dough balls at a time roll the ball into a circle around 15 cm in diameter.
  10. Spoon some of the meat filling onto the centre of the dough circle. Dab your little finger into the water and moisten a 1 cm thick circle at the edge of the dough.
  11. Seal the bun by pulling opposite sides of the dough circle around the meat towards the centre of the circle and squeezing them together. I usually squeeze together eight opposing sides.
  12. You can then roll the bun in your hands slightly to even it out if needed. Place the bun seam side down on the cupcake case.
  13. Repeat steps 9 to 12 for each of the dough balls and until all the meat filling is used up. Place the buns on a large baking tray, cover loosely with cling film and then a tea towel and leave to leaven for a further 30 minutes.
  14. Next pour 1 litre of water and the tablespoon of vinegar into a deep frying pan or a saucepan and bring to a simmer on a medium heat. I use my favourite 28 cm Anolon Sauté Pan for this, click here for more details.
  15. Place the buns into a wooden steamer ensuring that there is 1-2 cm between each of the buns and the sides to allow them to expand as they cook. Steam the buns for 20 minutes. I use my BestCool Bamboo Steamer for this. It is a two tier steamer roughly 25 cm in diameter – one tier can comfortably hold two or three buns, so I steam the buns in two batches.
  16. Carefully remove the buns from the steamer and place them on a baking tray to cool for 5 minutes. Serve the buns while they are hot, remember to peel off the cupcake cases first.

NOTES

  • You can use either chicken breast or thigh fillets in this recipe. If you want a more even texture then use chicken breast as it is easier to shred. I personally prefer chicken thigh fillets as the meat is more succulent.
  • The vinegar is added to the steaming water to stop the buns from becoming overly yellow in colour as they are cooked.
  • These can be made as appetizers by dividing the dough and the filling by 20 to make smaller size buns. These are also more kid friendly.
  • Tip: To get even sized buns you can weigh the risen dough, divide the weight by 10 or 20 (or however many buns you wish to produce) and then make sure that each of the pieces of dough in step 8 are this weight. Similarly you can weigh out the filling too.

Spiced Fruit Babka

This treat is ideal for the festive season. Over the past few months I’ve been seeing a lot of social media posts from my foodie friends about babkas. A babka is a type of sweet brioche-style bread rolled up with a sweet filling. It originates from Jewish communities in Poland and the Ukraine. They particularly caught my eye due to the delicate marble effect of the bread and the filling when sliced. So I had a go at making my own using Nutella and then cinnamon sugar as the filling – they were delicious, and my family devoured them really quickly. I then thought about adding a Caribbean twist to the babka and came up with this recipe for Spiced Fruit Babka. It takes as the filling the key ingredients from the traditional Jamaican Black Cake: dried fruit soaked in rum, mixed spice and almond extract.

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Now, this recipe takes a little forward planning as the dried fruit has to be soaked in alcohol for at least two days in advance in order to get the correct flavour, but it is completely worth it. The result is a soft and airy, slightly sweet bread, enveloped around jam-like layers of moist spiced boozy fruit. Irresistible when freshly baked, and perfect for an afternoon tea on these cold days.


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Spiced Fruit Babka Recipe

Makes: 2 loaves
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Macerating Time: 2 days
Baking Time: 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

for the bread:

  • 235 ml milk warmed (plus an additional 2 tbsp for egg wash)
  • 7 g fast action yeast
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 115 g unsalted butter cubed at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 530 g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 tbsp salted butter for spreading on the dough

for the filling:

  • 250 g dried fruits roughly chopped
  • 120 ml dark rum
  • 120 ml sweet sherry or port
  • 0.5 tsp mixed spice
  • 0.5 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 0.5 tsp almond extract
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Start by macerating the fruit. In a non-reactive bowl add the chopped fruit, rum and sherry and mix well. Cover with cling film and leave to macerate for 2 days.
  2. Prepare the bread. Add the milk to a mixing bowl and mix in the yeast, sugar, butter one egg and one egg yolk. The mixture will look lumpy but don’t worry about this.
  3. Mix in the flour in one quarter at a time until a dough is formed. Knead until the dough stops sticking to the sides of the bowl. Ideally use a mixer with a dough hook, I would recommend the Kitchen Aid Hand Mixer, click here for more details.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl, oil the bowl, place the dough back in the bowl and turn it over so that all sides of the dough are oiled. Cover the bowl with cling film and place a tea towel on top. Leave the dough to rise for around 2 hours.
  5. In the meantime, add the mixed spice, almond extract and vanilla extract to the macerated fruits and stir well. Blend the fruit for around 2-3 minutes until a smooth paste is formed. I used my Nutribullet for this – click here for more details.
  6. Grease two 2lb (23 cm x 13 cm) loaf tins using cooking oil. Divide the risen dough into two and reserve one half covered in a bowl for later. I would recommend the MasterClass 2lb Loaf Tin, you can click here for more details on this tin.
  7. Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is around 22 cm x 33 cm (just a little bigger than a sheet of A4 paper).
  8. Use a knife or your fingers to spread the salted butter on the top surface of the rolled out dough – take care not to pierce or tear the surface. Spread half of the spiced fruit mixture on top.
  9. Roll the dough along the long edge to form a log. It will be a bit messy, but don’t worry. Ensure that the seam is at the bottom of the log and cut the log in half along it’s length.
  10. Twist the two halves of the log together then place this in the oiled loaf tin.
  11. Repeat steps 8 to 10 with the other half of the dough.
  12. Allow both loaves to rest for around 30 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C fan (200 °C conventional oven)
  13. Make the egg wash by mixing the remaining egg white with 2 tablespoons of milk. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash.
  14. Bake the loaves in the oven for 50-55 minutes until nicely browned.
  15. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes before removing them from the tins.