Thursday, 29 January 2015


Marshmallows have become a very popular sweet to make at home and they're well worth the effort.  The home made version are so soft and melt in the mouth.  They're the perfect gift because everyone loves them and are so impressed at your confectionary skills.

Now it's even simpler with this kit from Sainsbury's, in fact it's so simple that I gave my 11 year old son a box to make.  We drizzled his with chocolate and sprinkled some with toasted coconut, unfortunately we scoffed the lot before I could get any photos!  I did however make more with fruit layered into them.  This worked so well because the cherries and blackberries that we used cut through the sweetness of these fluffy cubes of cloudiness which enabled us to eat more without them being too rich.

My Mother used to make a pudding called Cherry Mallow Pie which used cherry pie filling and was topped with something that had melted marshmallows added to it.  Cherry pie filling is one of my guilty pleasures, added to custard it makes my favourite toasted sandwich - yes you did read that right. And of course the greatest cake of all, black forest gateaux would not be the same, in my opinion, without it.

Anyhoo, this marshmallow kit gave me an idea and here is my very simple, mostly assemble not much cooking, Cherry Mallow Pie.  I searched high and low for cherry pie filling but couldn't get it but I did find a posh jar of cherry compote full of whole morello cherries that was the perfect substitute.

300g Bourbon Biscuits
60g Butter melted

1 x 400g Jar Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Morello Cherry Compote
Dash of Kirsch (optional)
1 Sainsbury's Marshmallow Kit

Crush the bourbon biscuits in a food processor then add the melted butter and whizz together till it clumps together.  Press the biscuit into the base and sides of a deep 25cm fluted loose bottom tin and chill to harden.  

Now follow the instructions on the marshmallow kit which has everything you need in it. It's very simple and just a matter of adding water to a sugar mix and simmering it for 10 minutes then whisking up a gelatine mixture and adding the two together.

Once this is done cover the base of your pie with the cherry compote and top with the luscious mallow.  Pop it in the fridge to set, it says 2 hours but it was ready in 1 hour then decorate with grated chocolate.

You could of course toast the top with a cooks blow torch instead of grated chocolate to finish

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