Monday, 15 December 2014


This bread is so simple but so impressive when finished, once you know how to get the pattern you'll be coming up with all sorts of fillings.  The loaf in the first picture has red pepper pesto and pine nuts but the first one I saw was on my friend Karen Lake's face book, she'd made a Nutella loaf for her friends at work which was apparently devoured in minutes and I'm not surprised.  

I've also made the chocolate version and another with Lotus caramelised Biscuit Spread, but really sweet or savoury most things work as long as you can spread it on.  St Agur Soft Blue cheese with walnuts sprinkled on was another great version or try it with dried cranberries for a festive variation

Once your dough has had it's first rise, divide it into two equal pieces.  Roll the first one into a 10" round and place it onto your baking sheet or stone.  Spread your choice of filling on top leaving a small edge as you would a pizza.

Roll out the second piece of dough and place on top.  Now make eight equal cuts into the dough leaving a gap in the middle.  You should now have eight triangular sections.

Finally cut each of the triangles in half.  Take two adjacent sections and twist them in opposite directions twice.  Repeat till all the sections are twisted.  Cover and leave to rise for another hour then bake as usual for 15-20 minutes at 200C

Basic Bread Recipe

500g Strong White Bread Flour
14g Dried Yeast
10g Salt
50g Olive Oil
320g Warm Water

Use a freestanding mixer to form your ingredients into a dough.  Tip out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for 10 minutes.  Place back in the mixing bowl and cover with cling film or a shower cap.  Leave to rise for 1 hour.

Once the dough has doubled in size, tip it onto a lightly floured surface and form into your loaf.  Leave to rise again for another hour then bake for 15-20 minutes at 200C

Cheers Karen Xx

Monday, 17 November 2014


A few years ago now I entered the Women's Institute Cook of the Year Competition, it was in November and entrants had to create an alternative Christmas menu.  It was to be judged by Brian Turner and I had to cook the meal in front of an audience at the Good Food Show in Birmingham.

It was all very daunting but the most difficult part for me was coming up with something that could top trifle or Christmas pudding.  as far as I'm concerned they are the puddings you have on December 25th and they should not be messed with.  In the end I thought about what Brian might like and decided he's quite a traditional man with very classic taste.

My dessert was this Christmas bread and butter pudding made with mince meat and a touch of advocaat in the custard for and added yule tide touch.  It's so very comforting and cosy, he loved it.

45g Butter
8 White Bread Slices
360g Mincemeat
300g Milk
50g Double Cream
50g Advocaat
2 Eggs
2 tbsp Sugar
Cinnamon to Dust

Use some of the butter to grease the base and sides of a 2 pint oven proof dish.

Use the remaining butter to spread over the slices of bread.  Divide the mincemeat into 4 and make sandwiches with it.  Remove the crusts and cut the sandwiches into 1/4's then place them into your buttered dish.

In a jug, whisk together the milk, cream, Advocaat and eggs then pour it over the bread.  Sprinkle on the sugar and cinnamon and leave to stand for 30 minutes.  This will allow the custard to soak into the bread.

Bake in the oven at 180C for 30-40 minutes till set, brown and crunchy on top.

My winning pudding, thanks Brian Xx

Monday, 3 November 2014


These are ideal for packing away and taking with you to watch the fireworks, the apple and cinnamon give you that winter warming taste that pre-empts christmas and they are excellent with a glass of milk or hot chocolate.

I made them originally with the toffee mixed in but found that they oozed all over the baking tray so placing them on top means you don't lose all their caramel tastiness.  Fudge works just as well and are easier to cut, especially if children are making them.

Makes 12

100g Butter
150g Sugar
1 Egg
150g Plain Flour
50g Ground Almonds
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tbsp Milk
40g Dried Apple chopped
40g Soft Toffee or Fudge chopped

Line a baking sheet and heat the oven to 180C

Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the egg, flour, ground almonds, cinnamon and baking powder and mix well to combine.

Now fold in the milk and chopped apple..

Place spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheet leaving room for them to spread when cooking.  Top each mound with a few pieces of toffee then cook for 12-15 minutes or untill they are brown.