Czech Cherry Cake

Czech cherry cake
cherry cake
Czech cherry cake

One of my favourite things about living in Dubai is that it is such a diverse international community. I have been trying to decide what to do with the blog while I am here (British seasonal and frugal food doesn’t quite fit) and I think that collecting recipes from around the world may be the answer.

To start me off my Czech friend Tereza has taught me how to make her famously delicious cherry cake. She uses a special flour which she brings over from the Czech Republic, however I have tested the recipe with ‘normal’ plain flour and it still works very well.

Tereza tells me that there are three basic types of flour in the Czech Republic:

  • fine (hladka– which is ‘normal’ white flour),
  • semi-rough (polohruba– the one in the picture, used for the Cherry Cake), and
  • rough (hrubá– close to semolina).

Give the recipe a try and let me know how you get on!

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • a drop of vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 100g plain flour
  • the zest of one Lemon
  • a couple of handfuls of frozen cherries, defrosted

Method

Don’t forget to take the cherries out of the freezer! Pre-heat the oven to 180oC.

Whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla essence, half of the sugar and the oil. Next whisk the egg whites, adding the rest of the sugar until you have ‘soft peaks’ (as though you were making meringue).

Mix together the flour and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the egg yolk mixture and fold in, adding a splash of milk until it is the consistency of thick custard.

Fold in the egg whites along with the lemon zest. The lemon smells divine!

Pour the mixture into a ceramic oven dish. Coat half of the cherries in flour so that they don’t sink too much and put them on top of the mixture, followed by the un-coated cherries.

Bake in centre of oven for 30 to 45 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting into pieces.

This wonderfully light cake can be served as a dessert with cream or with a cup of coffee.

Vegan Chestnut Stuffing Sausage Rolls

I love a guest blog post – this isn’t because I’m lazy (much), but because I love discovering and sharing other people’s recipes and writing styles. This recipe comes from the fabulously creative Kate.

Kate is, amongst other things, a Laughter Yoga teacher, a creative writer and seriously skilled at making cakes. Embracing the vegan lifestyle has, if anything, made her more creative in the kitchen and I always enjoying sampling the tasty treats she makes.

So without further ado, and in her own words (and with the help of playdough), here is Kate’s recipe for Vegan Sausage Rolls.

vegan sausage roll

So… near the start of the month I had a vegan sausage roll from Greggs (pleasant warming snack).

But then I got obsessed with sausage rolls!

I wrapped a Linda McCartney vegan sausage in pastry… also good.

Then I made my own stuffing with bagels, chestnuts, pecans, sage, dried cherries and spices and made it into this super fancy braided sausage roll based on some random video that appeared on my newsfeed. And it is the best yet!

I wrote it into my titchy recipes notebook (started in 2002!) but here it is slightly more legibly.

Day one: make the stuffing and eat some of it with some roast potatoes and veg

Day two: turn the rest into sausage rolls.

Special skills needed: adding just the right amount of water to things.

Ingredients:

(Stuffing fills a 15cm diameter, 7cm deep round oven dish)

STUFFING

  • 2x bagels
  • 200g ready to eat chestnuts
  • small handful pecans
  • 8 dried cherries (I like the Urban Fruit ones as they aren’t sweetened)
  • 6 sage leaves
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • pinch of smoked paprika
  • sprinkle of mixed pepper
  • sprinkle of mixed herbs
  • water
  • dessert spoon of vegan margarine

PASTRY

(to make three sausage rolls)

  • 180g plain flour
  • 90g vegan margarine
  • pinch of salt
  • cold water to mix

Method:

Day one:

Blend bagels, chestnuts and pecans on a low speed until they are in crumbs/small pieces. Tip into a mixing bowl.

Boil the kettle.

Preheat the oven to 180oC.

Snip cherries into thirds, add to bowl (It is possible that using a different amount of cherries cut into different fractions will also work!).

Skip idyllically into your garden to harvest some sage leaves, wash them, then rip them up and add to the bowl.

Add the spices and smush around with your fingers.

Pour a splurge of boiling water on until the texture looks like stuffing. Add the margarine on top and stir to melt it in.

Cook in an ovenproof dish for 25 minutes.

Day two:

Preheat the oven to 200oC

Make the pastry. Rub margarine into flour and salt. Tip a little cold water in until you get a dough, then roll it out and cut it into thirds. Top tip: don’t go back and forth over your pastry like a steamroller, just push it one way at a time then it won’t go tough.

Place a chunk of stuffing in the middle of each rectangle.

I didn’t have the opportunity to make another batch of pastry to demonstrate the braiding technique… but I did have some play dough and giant chalks (see below images for a step by step guide. ed).

Please do not consume chalk or play dough in a moment of confusion.

Cut the pastry in diagonal lines, wet the edges, braid it and do something rustic with the ends (or find a slightly more detailed tutorial if you aren’t a fan of super chunky pastry!).

Cook for 25 minutes.

Enjoy the wodge-tastic January comfort food goodness! Smile and then you can ingest your chestnuts in jest. Sausage ROTFL. Ha!

😋

braided sausage roll

vegan sausage roll

 

Kitty’s Cereal Bar Recipe

I am notoriously bad at eating breakfast, but one of these with a cup of tea in the morning gets me going. Not the healthiest of breakfasts, but at least there are slow-release sugars to keep me going for a while as well as the sugar and syrup. The proportions are based upon my favourite flapjack / oat slice recipe but with half the amount of sugar.

cereal bar

Ingredients

  • 4oz / 110g Dark Soft Brown Sugar
  • 8 oz / 220g Butter
  • 2 rounded dessertspoon Golden Syrup
  • 8 oz / 220g Oats
  • 2 oz / 55g Bran Flakes
  • 2 oz / 55g Rice Crispies
  • heaped teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • generous handful of Dates
  • generous handful of Chopped Nuts, I used brazil nuts. Pecans or walnuts would also be good.

Note, you can substitute in different types of cereal depending on what you have in the cupboard – as long as the total dry ingredients adds up to 12 oz / 350g. If you want to add flaked almonds I would advise including them as a proportion of the dry ingredients rather than substituting them for other nuts, otherwise they will dry out the mixture.

Method

Line a square tin (8 inches approx) with greaseproof paper, and preheat the oven to 150oC.

In a large pan, gently melt the butter, syrup and sugar. When melted add the ginger, fruit and nuts followed by the dry ingredients. Mix well and then put in the prepared tin, flattening it with the back of a spoon.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes. When it is cooked, let it cool in the tin before turning it onto a board and chopping it into squares.

cereal bar

Breakfast Muffins

Breakfast Muffins

These Breakfast Muffins are perfect for people who (like me) are awful at eating breakfast. They are small yet filling, cheap and easy to make.
breakfast muffins
One of the things which Steve and I struggled with when I started the Basic Kitchen project was what to do for breakfast. I have to say that breakfast isn’t my strong point at the best of times – it is my least favourite meal of the day, but if I don’t eat it I am miserable.

The solution came from Steve’s all time favourite recipe book, published in 1984 by the New Zealand Girl Guides – not something you can pick up in you local bookshop I’m afraid. One of the good things about using this book for the Basic Kitchen project is that it uses cups, so scales are not required. We did of course have to add a muffin tin to our collection of basic utensils, but it was well worth it considering that they are so cheap to make.
girl guides cook book
The book contains two versions of Bran Muffins – one of which is in the section on cooking for big events and asks you to mix in a ‘large bucket’, the other makes a rather more sensible number of muffins! Over the last few weeks I have tried both recipes, adapted and doctored them depending on what I have in the cupboard, and come up with the version below. The original recipes are at the bottom of the post – a big thank-you to the ladies who originally contributed the recipes to the book, and to the New Zealand Girl Guides who gave me permission to publish them here.

When we made the ‘mix in a bucket’ version a few weeks ago Steve calculated that they cost 7p a muffin. I haven’t calculated how much the recipe below costs, because my pregnancy brain is rebelling!

This recipe is fantastic for using up cereal which is going a little soft – a common occurrence for me since I don’t like breakfast very much! In the last few weeks I have made the muffins with ‘All-bran’ and with bran flakes which already had dried fruit added to it. I found that bran flakes needed a bit of crunching up before using.
bran muffins
Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 heaped teaspoon instant coffee (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons golden syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar (optional – I leave this out if I have included sugary dried fruit such as prunes, if I do add it I use dark sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of bran
  • a handful of dried fruit (something sticky and sweet such as prunes or dates work well)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180oC.

First warm the milk, syrup and butter in a pan and dissolve the bicarb of soda and coffee into it (I just want to drink it at this stage!). Take the pan off the heat and then add the bran, crumbling it in your hands, so that it can begin to soften.

Mix the rest of the dried ingredients together, then mix in the egg and the milk mixture. Stir in the dried fruit.

Bake in the centre of the oven in lined muffin tins for approximately 15 minutes.

When cooked, remove onto a cooling rack. Once cool they can be stored in an airtight tin for up to a week.
Bran muffins

Bran Muffins

breakfast muffins

breakfast muffins

Breakfast muffins

Ginger and Coconut Flapjack

I have learned something new today – in America Flapjacks are called Oat Bars. Who knew? To make matters more confusing, an American Flapjack is a pancake.

This isn’t a pancake recipe. It is delicious. Enjoy!

Ginger and Coconut Flapjack

Ingredients

  • 3.5 oz margarine
  • 1.5 oz coconut oil
  • 8 oz soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 dessert spoons golden syrup
  • 1 oz desiccated coconut
  • 11 oz oats
  • Handful chopped crystallised ginger

Method

Preheat the oven to 150oC / 300oF.

Put the margarine, coconut oil, syrup, and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat; when melted and well combined stir in the dry ingredients.

Put the mixture into a lined square tin, flatten the top but don’t compress too much.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 – 45 minutes.

Simples.

ginger and coconut flapjack

 

Apple Sponge Cake

Apple Cake

I must say that I am enjoying Simple September so far. Receiving lots of courgettes, runner beans and apples from my parent’s garden has helped; although it does take rather a lot of imagination not to quickly get bored of courgette!

Some of you will know that I use the same basic sponge recipe for many of the cakes I make – Delia’s ‘all-in-one-sponge’ recipe. I find it incredibly versatile; sometimes I add lemon zest and then add a lemon-drizzle topping, other times I add chocolate followed by coffee icing… the possibilities are endless. Yum.

Ingredients

  • 4oz self raising flour
  • 4oz golden caster sugar
  • 4oz margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • two eating apples
  • two tablespoons demerara sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180oC.

Quarter the apples, remove the core and then cut into thin slices. Place the apple slices in the base of a round cake tin lined with greaseproof paper and sprinkle them with demerara sugar. You could also add a little sprinkle of mixed spice at this stage if you so wish.

Put the remaining ingredients into a bowl and combine well with an electric whisk. Cover the apples with the mixture and bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 25 minutes. You will recognise when it is cooked because the mixture will have shrunk away from the edges of the cake tin.

Turn the cake onto a cooling rack. When cold put the cake upside down onto a plate, so that the apple is at the top.

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apple sponge cake

Simple September

Following a very decadent summer (getting married is a good excuse!) it is time for a ‘Simple September‘.
My husband Steve and I are having a near-complete shopping-ban this month; we are combining two very well stocked kitchens into a much smaller space, plus we have been eating and drinking rather well recently and some simpler fare won’t go amiss.   The exceptions to the shopping ban will be some seasonal vegetables, onions, garlic, eggs, milk… and the occasional treat of nice cheese or meat from the reduced section of the supermarket.
As well as saving money and kitchen space, I’m hoping that Simple September will kick-start my recipe writing again after a five month hiatus (I’ve been a little distracted!).

As a reward for getting the kitchen in our new house tidy, I decided to start Simple September with a (reasonably) healthy treat; coconut and apricot flapjack. All of the flapjack I make is based around the same basic recipe which I have shared with you previously. This time, I decided to have a go at using coconut oil; I substituted it for half of the butter because I wasn’t sure how it was going to behave. I’m glad that I didn’t make the switch to coconut oil in one go because it made the mixture rather more liquid; I recovered the situation by taking it out of the oven part way through cooking and covering it with a layer of drinking chocolate followed by desiccated coconut.

A delicious mistake which I fully intend to make again!!

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