Thursday, 1 October 2015


This summer I discovered these heavenly sweet rolls in Finland where I also learned that Finns love cardamom as much as I do.  On my first day at the breakfast buffet I tried a bit of everything I wasn't sure about and discovered Voisilmapulla - Butter Eye Buns.  They are a sugary sweet bread, a cross between brioche and bath buns with a warming flavour of cardamom. Butter because they are packed with the stuff and eye because of the dimple in the middle which is filled with even more butter.

Don't be scared of the amount of melted butter you have to knead in, a bit like focaccia, you think it's never going to happen, but it does and it's what gives it a light airy texture. I used my freestanding mixer to start it off then finish it by hand.

I've sprinkled mine with sugar nibs but that's optional, I know they're not easy to get in shops here - you could try the internet. We had them with and without in Finland. In the recipe it says 2 tsp of cardamom but you could add more depending on how much you like the stuff, I put 3 in the next time I made them.

This is the recipe my Finnish friend Linda gave me, it makes 18 healthy sized buns, don't worry they freeze well and if you're going to go to the effort of making them, why not make lots. I divided mine in half and made a loaf too which we had toasted with cinnamon butter.

550g Milk, warmed
175g Sugar
2 Eggs
900g Strong White Bread Flour
2 Heaped tsp Ground Cardamom
20g Dried Yeast
200g Butter, melted

50g Butter
1tbsp Sugar
Egg Wash to glaze
Sugar Nibs to finish (optional)

Warm the milk and sugar till the sugar has just dissolved, you don't want it boiling. Now add the eggs and whisk together.

In a large bowl or free standing mixer combine the flour, cardamom and yeast.  Slowly stir in the milk.  If you're doing this by hand, use a knife till it starts to come together.  Once the milk is completely combined with the flour, pour in the melted butter.

This is where it gets really messy, there is a lot of squelching before it starts to resemble the smooth sticky dough you are aiming for.  Once all the butter is incorporated into the dough start kneading.  It will be sticky but try not to add flour,  dust your hands lightly with flour instead.  I always knead for 10 minutes to ensure a good result.

Divide the dough in two and place into floured bowls, cover with cling film or a shower cap and leave  in a warm place to prove for 1 hour.

Once the dough has doubled in size, knock it back and divide into 100g balls.  Shape them and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment with enough room to rise again.  Cover the buns with a clean dry tea towel and leave for 30-45 minutes to prove again.

Whilst they are proving, melt the remaining butter and sugar and leave to one side.  To finish the buns (no pun intended) press a deep dimple into each using your thumb, it will spring back a little, then fill with the melted butter, brush over with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar nibs if using them.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200C / 180C fan for 15-20 minutes.

Hyvää ruokahalua  Xx

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


This recipe is for those thick american style pancakes that go so well with bacon but I’ve combined the two to make a dipper already to be dunked into maple syrup.

Now I understand that the idea of sweet and savoury is not everyones cup of tea but these are really worth a go. If you feel you can’t cope with the idea, these fluffy buttermilk pancakes are just as good without the bacon and served with your usual topping, fresh fruit, honey or chocolate spread.

200g Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
30g Sugar
2 Eggs
30g Melted Butter
284 ml Buttermilk
100g Milk
14 Streaky Bacon Rashers

Put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda sugar in a large mixing bowl and combine.  Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs.  Using a fork mix in the eggs then add the melted butter.

Once they are mixed in stir in the buttermilk using a whisk.  When you have made a smooth batter whisk in the milk to loosen it a little. I pour my batter into an old sauce bottle with a wide opening to help control the flow of batter, I find it a lot easier than a ladle or jug. Leave the batter to one side while you cook the bacon.

You can grill the bacon or heat the oven 180C/160 fan.  Lay the bacon rashers out on a baking tray lined with parchment and cook for 15 minutes till browned and slightly crisp.  Heat a non-stick frying pan and brush lightly with oil.


Pour 2 strips of batter into the pan then lay a rasher of bacon on top, drizzle a little more batter over the bacon and cook for 2 minutes then flip over and cook for a further minute.  

Keep warm whilst you cook the remaining dippers and serve with maple syrup


Wednesday, 2 September 2015


I get asked to review such a variety of  products and tend to say no but to be honest I really wanted this book so jumped at the chance and it didn't disappoint. I am a fan of MasterChef and in 2014 when Sophie Thompson was crowned champion, she became one of my favourite celebrity winners, she came across as lovely as her cooking. I was so pleased to find that she has produced a book of her family's recipes, and they really are from all of her family.

Sophie was a joy to watch with her relaxed and imaginative style of cooking and the book reflects the same sense of cosy homeliness giving you lots of family photos, stories and anecdotes along with the recipes. With titles like 'Uncle Bridget's Pickled Onions', yes, Uncle Bridget and 'Megsies Whim Wham' you get introduced to her family and friends through food.

Much to my husbands irritation I can't sit and do nothing so in the evening when I'm slumped in front of the telly I tend to be making lists (a girl thing I think) flicking through the latest foodie magazine or crafting some sort of what not.  Reading cookery books is another favourite, looking for inspiration for next weeks dinner.  Sophie's book was packed with possibilities and the issue was what to cook first.

In the end that honour went to Very Lemony Almond & Polenta Cake.  It instructs you to cool in the tin but I don't think it ever actually got cold before it was polished off.  In the end I had to make another just to check it was as good cold as warm - it was.  There are some cakes that I call untidy cakes, by which I mean that every time you pass it you find you just have to cut a slice off to neaten it up a bit. I found myself having to neaten it rather a lot and often.

Sophie's recipes are all easy to follow and without complicated or hard to get ingredients.  I also tried the Orange & Ginger Chicken with Coriander Rice, not just because it sounded tasty but I also had all the ingredients in.  It was a resounding 'keep that recipe' from the whole family.

With so much success I tried Sophie's own Meat Loaf.  It makes enough for 8 so we had it hot with roast potatoes and savoy cabbage then on another day, cold with pickles as Sophie recommends.  Another triumph.

Reading Sophie's recipes and about her family makes you warm to her even more, it's always such a shame when you meet someone you admire or look up to and they let you down but after looking through this family album you really do feel like you've just met her and want to be invited round to supper.

Sophie is a gifted and resourceful cook with an infectious enthusiasm for food and 'My Family Kitchen' is just what it says on the tin (or cover),  packed with recipes that are sure to become everyone's own family favourites.


Serves 8-10
150g Polenta
150g Ground Almonds
150g Caster Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
200g Soft Butter, plus extra for greasing
3 Large Eggs
Zest & Juice of 3 Large Lemons
100g Icing Sugar, sifted
20g Flaked Almonds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan Gas 4. Lightly grease and base line a 20cm springform cake tin.

Place the polenta, ground almonds, caster sugar, baking powder and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Blitz together for about 30 seconds to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, whizzing after each one to incorporate well. Add the lemon zest and whizz again for about 20 seconds. (If you don't have a food processor you can of course do all of this by hand using a large mixing bowl and spoon).

Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and coming away slightly from the edges of the tin. 

Meanwhile mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice (about 100ml) in a bowl and whisk together until smooth. When the cake comes out of the oven, use  skewer to make holes all over the top of the cake and, whilst still warm, pour your lemony syrup over the top.

Scatter over the toasted flaked almonds, while the cake is still sticky, and leave to cool in the tin. Remove from the tin when cold and serve. 

Recipe reproduced by permission of the publisher

Watch Sophie cook her Sweet & Sour Pork

Buy Sophie's book here