Almond Cranberry White Chocolate Granola

Crunchy granola with flaked almonds, dried cranberries and creamy white chocolate chips. A sweet breakfast or snack to pack up and take to work with you.

I’m constantly on the search for new granola recipes. Granola is something I often bake, not just for my blog, but I will try to make it almost weekly if I get the chance.

Lately I’ve been going back to older granola recipes I have shared on previous occasions and I’ve been updating a few of those recipes. I based this new granola on my favourite vanilla almond granola, which I add a whole tablespoon of vanilla extract. I’m fully aware that all of our taste buds are completely different from one another, so feel totally free to adjust the amount of vanilla in this recipe to your own taste.

My latest granola marries flaked/slivered almonds with dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. Another addition I like to add to my granola is ground cinnamon, I absolutely can’t get enough of the warming spice flavour especially during autumn or wintertime. Again, if you don’t enjoy spices you can omit the cinnamon and if you’re not a fan of dried cranberries you can swap those for a different dried fruit instead, you could also choose to leave them out entirely or add even more chocolate chips.

So you’re wondering, how is this granola made? It couldn’t be simpler, grab yourself a large mixing bowl and give the oats, almonds and ground cinnamon a good mix together. In a small saucepan, gently heat together honey or maple syrup with oil and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened. Transport the granola mixture to a large lined baking sheet/tray and leave your oven to do the rest of the hard work.

After allowing the granola to cool, the last step is adding the dried fruit and the chocolate chips. It’s important to remember to add the chocolate chips after the granola has finished baking and has cooled otherwise the chocolate will melt!

This granola is fantastic as it requires minimal effort and the result is divine, toasty deliciousness. I’m not sure why I ever bought pre-made granola in the first place as it’s pumped full of odd ingredients (most of which I can’t even pronounce), has more fat and sugar added than needed and doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as homemade does.

I love keeping a jar of this on the kitchen countertop, sprinkle your homemade granola on ice cream or Greek yoghurt and top with fruit or simply just serve it with milk of your choice. If you’re on the lookout for some edible Christmas gifts then I think this granola will make a tasty present for someone special at Christmas, pop the freshly baked granola into jars and tie with ribbon for a sweet gift.

Ingredients:

200g (2 cups) old-fashioned/rolled oats

100g (1 cup) flaked or slivered almonds

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

75ml (5 tablespoons) honey or maple syrup

75ml (5 tablespoons) vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

80g (2/3 cup) dried cranberries

100g (1/2 cup) white chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C / 130 Fan / 300°F / Gas Mark 2.
  2. Weigh the oats out into a large mixing bowl along with the almonds and mix together with the cinnamon (if using).
  3. In a small saucepan, gently heat together the honey/maple syrup, oil and vanilla until warmed. Don’t boil this mixture.
  4. Stir together the honey/maple syrup mixture with the oats until moistened. Spread the granola out evenly on a large lined baking sheet/tray and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, give it a stir and return the granola to the oven for a further 15 minutes. After the second lot of 15 minutes is up, again remove the granola from the oven and give it a stir. Pop the granola back in the oven for another 15 minutes more to finish baking. (Granola will have baked for a total of 45 minutes before it’s ready.)
  5. Once the granola has finished baking, take it from the oven and leave it to cool. As it cools, it will get crisp, once cooled completely stir through the dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. This granola will store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe Notes:

  • Use old-fashioned/rolled oats to make this granola, unfortunately porridge oats will not work as the consistency is too powdery.
  • This time I used vegetable oil to make the granola, however, I sometimes make this granola with rapeseed oil, but coconut oil can also be used in this recipe. Honey could be substituted with maple syrup.
  • If you prefer, you can swap the cranberries for more almonds or chocolate chips. The white chocolate chips could be switched for dark or milk chocolate chips instead.
  • The baked granola will store in an airtight container or a jar for up to a fortnight (2 weeks).

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys Crispy Treats

Crispy cereal treats made using Chocolate Flavour Marshmallow Mateys. This is sponsored content. 

Chocolate crispy treats have been one of my favourite recipes to make since I was little and had first stepped into the kitchen. My mum would always allow my sister and I to make crispy treats as they’re easy and fun to make. These chocolaty treats are great to make with kids because the ingredients don’t cost too much and don’t require any need to switch on an oven. The latter of which is always convenient in summertime when it’s too hot and all you want to prepare is no-bake recipes.

I recently received a few Malt-O-Meal cereals to taste test and create a recipe with. Included were Marshmallow Mateys, Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys and Waffle Crisp. I’ve tasted all three cereals I was sent and they were all really wonderful in their own way. The Marshmallow Mateys and Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys consist of cereal puffs and have rainbow coloured marshmallows added. The Waffle Crisp cereal tasted exactly like crunchy mini waffles soaked in maple syrup.

Chocolate Flavour Marshmallow Mateys 

When considering different recipes and ideas, I decided that I wanted the cereal to be the star of the show. Using the chocolate cereal to make crispy treats sprung straight to my mind. This is a great recipe to do with the kids before heading back to school and is a good idea for picnics or lunch boxes.

This recipe is so simple, so here goes:

Once you have the cereal in a large mixing bowl, melt the chocolate over a bain-marie (double boiler) or in the microwave in 20-second intervals. Be careful and make sure you keep a watchful eye on the chocolate until it has melted. I don’t tend to add any butter, golden syrup or marshmallows to my crispy treat mixture as I don’t really think you need to add them. I prefer my crispy treats to be crunchy and chocolaty and taste purely of chocolate. I’ve never had any problem with them being too hard by not adding any of the additional ingredients I mentioned above.

Once the chocolate is melted, add that to the cereal and stir until all the cereal is fully coated. Evenly distribute the chocolaty cereal mixture into 12 paper cupcake cases/liners – I picked pretty polka dot cases, anything patterned looks really nice when you’re presenting these crispy treats. You’ll find using the cupcake cases/liners makes removing the cakes far more easier too.

Before the chocolate sets, finish by decorating each cake with as many Marshmallow Mateys as you like. Set them in the fridge and then devour them!

(Makes 12)

Ingredients:

200g dark or milk chocolate (or a combination of both)

150g Chocolate Flavour Marshmallow Mateys cereal, separated from the marshmallows

Marshmallow Mateys, for decoration

Method:

  1. Line a 12-hole cupcake/muffin tin with 12 paper cases/liners. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt gently over a pan of gently simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water) or melt in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  2. Mix the melted chocolate with the cereal until the cereal is completely coated in the chocolate.
  3. Divide the mixture between the paper cases and decorate with the marshmallows. Chill in the fridge for an hour until set. Crispy treats will store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, however they’re best eaten fresh.

Recipe adapted from Easter Chocolate Nest Cakes

Enjoy!

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Cyprus Snapshots

I’ve just recently got back after spending a fortnight holidaying in the Mediterranean on the island of Cyprus. This wasn’t my first visit to this beautiful country, I’ve previously shared a blog post with pictures from our last visit two summers ago and before that I’d already visited Cyprus on two other occasions before starting this blog. Here I’ve put together a collection of my favourite snapshots from my time away. It was yet another fun and memorable trip to a destination that’s very close to my heart.

Panorama viewpoint looking down on Paphos

Our journey to Cyprus started early (wakeup call was 1:45am), I only managed a few hours sleep before we headed to the airport and I think this was due to excitement! Once we boarded our flight, four and half hours later we landed in Cyprus to be welcomed with predicted sunny and warm weather. After collecting our suitcases and sorting out our car hire we departed the airport and drove to our villa.

We stayed in Argaka, a small village located near the town of Polis. This is my third visit to Argaka, the village is barely touched by tourism and that’s what appeals most to me. It’s a great place to get an experience of Cypriot life.

Before arriving at our villa we stopped off at Limni Pier where we ate lunch and took in some breathtaking views and the deep blue sea. Upon arrival at the villa we were totally blown away, we had our own private beach just outside the villa (the perks of not saying in a complex), a pool and even a tennis court – my sister and I both made good use of these to work off the ice cream we ate and the scrumptious galaktoboureko (Greek semolina custard pie with syrup) the villa owner, Savvas, brought round for us on the first night. The sweet pie was very delicious and successfully devoured in less than 24 hours!

For a food lover like myself having a bakery right next door to us was fantastic, but as you can guess there was always temptation from all the delicious Cypriot and Greek treats like cakes, loukoumades (fried pastry balls soaked with honey), sweet and savoury pies such as tiropittes (flaky pastry cheese pies) and spanakopittes (cheese and spinach pies) – imagine a mini bitesize version of spanakopita.

On this trip we travelled around a bit more and visited some of the attractions we didn’t get to see previously. Below I’ve added some snapshots of what we got up to and saw this time around!

Harbour at Agios Georgios 

Agios Georgios is a village situated in the Paphos (Pafos) district of Cyprus. The church and stunning views are just a few reasons why this is one of the best places to stop off. There’s also a pottery stall which sells lovely hand-painted bowls and plates among many other things.

Stone built church of Agios Georgios in the village of Pegeia 

You might already know this, but Cyprus is known as the island of love. Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and Cyprus was her place of birth. Aphrodite’s Rock is also known as Petra tou Romiou (“Rock of the Roman”). Located between Paphos and Limassol, it’s well worth a visit and popular with tourists visiting Cyprus. A swim around the rock is definitely something you might like to tick off your bucket list, but a warning, the water is very cold!

Views at the Kourion Archaeological Site

Kourion (Curium) is an archaeological site located on the west coast of Limassol in the town of Episkopi. Here you can see an expansive collection of mosaics and monuments that date back to the Roman period and the remains of the ancient city of Kourion. Just make sure you plan a visit here before the midday heat and sun arrive and come prepared for the walk around with a hat, lots of water and sun cream!

The Troodos mountains are the largest mountain range in Cyprus. As you drive through you can see lots of different wildlife like snakes slithering across the road and you can even visit a mouffalon enclosure. Mouffalon are wild sheep native to Cyprus and other Middle-Eastern countries. The first time we went we weren’t lucky and didn’t manage to spot any mouffalon, however this time luck was on our side and I captured this picture above!

Next I’m moving onto one of the best parts of travelling to a different country, the food. Cypriot and Greek are two of my favourite cuisines. Both cuisines are similar, but they do have some differences. Cyprus is famous for halloumi, a cheese that’s made from either goat’s or ewe’s milk. It’s eaten raw or cooked in Cyprus, but I prefer it either grilled or fried and garnished with oregano and fresh lemon juice.

Cyprus is also home to several yummy treats, kattimeri is a sweet crêpe-style pancake that’s traditionally filled with sugar or honey and cinnamon. We bought these almost daily when we visited the supermarket to stock up on groceries. The pancake is quite big so we’d cut it into quarters and topped with Greek yoghurt and fresh sliced peach – I don’t think that’s how Cypriots serve the pancake, but the flavours worked well together and we turned it into a great dessert. I love these pancakes so much that I even packed one to eat on the plane journey home!

Kattimeri is a traditional Cypriot pancake

As we were self-catering we visited the supermarket to get ingredients every couple of days. We ate Greek salad every single day and it’s one of our favourite salads to eat all year round. Authentic Greek salad is simply made with refreshing cucumber, tangy red onion, juicy tomatoes, chopped bell pepper and olives can sometimes be included along with extra virgin Greek olive oil, salty feta cheese, oregano and finally, salt and pepper to season. Lunch most days consisted of a small mezze, a portion of Greek salad, pita bread or Lebanese flatbread and dips like hummus and tzatziki. We bought some tzatziki and unfortunately we were disappointed by the flavour, so I ended up making my own recipe instead.

The country also has a great street food scene. At the roadside you can grab some buttery corn the cob, souvlaki (beef, chicken or pork kebabs marinated in olive oil and oregano) and also sheftalia, which is a Cypriot lamb and pork sausage.

I already knew how well the Cypriots do sweet treats after my last visit and this time we enjoyed several delicious ice creams. There was an endless choice of ice cream flavours available at the shop where we ordered ice cream each time we were visiting Paphos, the picture below shows a scoop of chocolate stracciatella and a scoop of cookies and cream.

Ice cream definitely helped cool us down when Cyprus was experiencing a heatwave on the last few days of our holiday when temperatures soared beyond 40°C!

Ice cream in Paphos 

Cyprus is also home to a sweet treat, loukoumi and this is more commonly known to the rest of the world as Turkish delight. We got some lemon flavoured loukoumi, which was made in Geroskipou.

Geroskipou meaning “sacred garden” was the mythical sanctuary of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. The factory in Geroskipou is actually close to Aphrodite’s birthplace, Petra tou Romiou. I’ve personally never been a fan of Turkish delight, but I decided to be adventurous and give it a try. I don’t usually like anything that’s been flavoured with rosewater, so this lemon version was much more pleasant for me.

Nighttime scene along Paphos seafront

Sunset in Argaka 

Argaka on the western side of the island is the perfect place to take pictures of the sun setting. I live in the East of England so never get to see sunsets, so experiencing the sunset on holiday was special to me.

I really hope you’ve enjoyed looking through my photographs from this years holiday. Sharing travel blog posts is something I’m really passionate about and I love doing just as much as sharing recipes. If you want more travel reads, take a look at this article I wrote about Ibiza!

Thanks for reading!

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Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

Naturally coloured and flavoured strawberry buttercream made with freeze-dried strawberries. Your summer isn’t complete without a taste of these cupcakes! 

Recipe originally shared July 2015, updated June 2017. 

Fruit based buttercream is a summer favourite of mine and the yummy addition of freeze-dried strawberries creates the beautiful pink colour in this buttercream recipe I’m sharing with you. I’m personally not really into unnaturally coloured foods so often when I want to make a buttercream that’s coloured, I’d rather look for alternative ways of naturally colouring mine.

This recipe is based on a classic buttercream recipe except freeze-dried strawberries are ground to fine powder in a food processor and then the strawberry powder is incorporated into the buttercream. Incorporating freeze-dried strawberries into buttercream adds amazing natural strawberry flavour and it also tints the buttercream a faint pink colour.

To allow this strawberry buttercream to be the star of show I sat it atop a basic vanilla cupcake. Strawberry and vanilla happen to be my two favourite flavours, so combing the two had to happen sometime! My vanilla cupcake recipe is easy to make as it doesn’t require any out of the ordinary ingredients such as buttermilk or yoghurt, which are ingredients you might not happen to have in your kitchen. This vanilla cupcake recipe however uses your everyday baking store cupboard essentials such as butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour.

You might be wondering about why I choose to use freeze-dried opposed to fresh strawberries? Fresh fruit is great to use in some buttercream recipes, but strawberries in particular have a high water content so using fresh could produce a runny buttercream that’s impossible to pipe. The fruit and moisture levels are more concentrated in freeze-dried fruit compared to fresh, so when following this recipe you won’t have to be concerned that your buttercream will curdle or won’t be able to be piped.

What better way to celebrate summer and the strawberry season than with these cupcakes! They’ll be a hit at summer picnics, parties or barbecues or even served as part of an al fresco afternoon tea.

(Makes 12)

Ingredients:

Vanilla Cupcakes:

150g (2/3 cup) butter, softened

150g (3/4 cup) caster or granulated sugar

3 medium or large free range eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

150g (1 and 1/4 cups) self-raising flour, sifted – you can sub with 150g plain flour plus 2 teaspoons baking powder

Strawberry Buttercream: 

170g (3/4 cup) butter, at room temperature

12g (1 cup) freeze-dried strawberries

2 tablespoons double cream (heavy cream), chilled

230g (2 cups) icing sugar, sifted

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C Fan / 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Line a cupcake tin with 12 paper cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. To make the cupcakes: Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one along with the vanilla and mix to combine. Using a spatula or large metal spoon, gently fold in the flour and mix until just combined and no lumps of flour remain. Be gentle and try to not over mix the batter.
  3.  Now evenly distribute the cupcake batter among the cupcake liners. Bake for 20 minutes until the cupcakes are a light golden colour and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then remove from the tin and transport the cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
  4. To make the buttercream: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter on a medium-high speed for 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and using a spatula scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, continue to mix the butter for a further 3 minutes until it’s creamy and pale. In a food processor pulverise the freeze-dried strawberries until finely ground (wait for a moment to allow the air in the powder to settle). Add the strawberry powder to the creamed butter and stir through until combined. Now add the cream along with the icing sugar and again mix until incorporated. Whip the buttercream on medium speed for an additional 2 minutes, then stop the mixer and scrap down the sides and bottom of the bowl and continue to mix for another 2 minutes.
  5. Fit a large disposable piping bag with a piping tip. Fill the piping bag with the buttercream and decorate the cupcakes as desired.

Recipe Notes:

  • Butter will need to be at room temperature for both the cupcake and buttercream recipes. Take butter out from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for an hour. You’ll know your butter is ready to start baking with if when you press your finger gently into the butter it leaves an indentation. Either salted or unsalted butter can be used, typically I always use unsalted, but this time I used salted and it worked just as well.
  • Please note humidity can affect the outcome of your buttercream. The best way of avoiding your buttercream curdling is making sure your butter isn’t too soft (follow my tip above when softening butter).
  • Freeze-dried fruit can usually be located down the baking aisle of most supermarkets or sometimes, they can also be found in some specialist bakeware shops, but if you’ve had no luck looking in store you can order over the internet.
  • If you don’t own a food processor you can crush the freeze-dried strawberries in a resealable bag using a rolling pin until they’ve reached a fine powdery consistency.
  • Cupcakes will store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If it’s humid where you live I’d recommend storing these cupcakes in the fridge and when ready to serve take the number of desired cupcakes out and allow them to sit a room temperature for a few minutes.

Enjoy!

jess

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Homemade Lemon Curd

Four ingredients and just half an hour of your time is all that’s required to make this creamy and tangy homemade lemon curd. 

Making my own curd and jam has been on my list for a long time. A few summers back I got my very own private jam-making session with my grandma, we spent the day preparing homemade plum jam and I came home with a several jars of jam to enjoy. As a food blogger a few of the recipes I test unfortunately don’t make it onto my blog. Some recipes are just a plain fail, whereas with some of the recipes I will write down and change things to do better the next time round.

Lemon curd is something I failed at miserably when I made it for the first time a couple of years ago. It was so terrible that it put me off making lemon curd until now. I used a recipe from another source and it never thickened. After standing for over an hour stirring the pot I was left with a bowl of runny lemon slop, not the creamy and thick lemon curd I’d hoped to make.

I learnt from the mistakes I have previously made when making lemon curd and now I am happy to finally have found a lemon curd recipe that works and produces beautifully tangy curd that you could eat by the spoonful.

This is recipe is one my mum handed down to me, my grandma gave my mum a cookbook and this lemon curd was from that book. The cookbook I got this recipe from is called “The Dairy Book of Home Cookery”. My mum has had this cookbook for nearly thirty years and it she’s told me this is the first cookbook she ever owned. It’s the kind of book you go to for reliable recipes that actually work and come out well.

Once opened this lemon curd with last for only about two weeks and that’s good because the recipe only fills one large jar – about 550ml worth of curd in total. It’s so addictive that you’re probably going to want to keep the entire jar just to yourself and not tell a single other person about it!

Lemon curd is fantastic served as it is, you can drizzle it over cheesecake, swap the classic raspberry/strawberry jam filling in a Victoria sponge and spread a generous layer of lemon curd instead and you could even dollop it on top of a toasted crumpet, English muffin or a stack of pancakes.

Before I forget to mention it’s also absolutely divine swirled through plain yoghurt and topped with fresh fruit. One of my go-to desserts, but truth be told all I need is a jar of this lemon curd and a spoon!

(Yields enough to fill 1 large jar – approx. 550ml)

Ingredients:

100g (4 ounces) butter, cut into small cubes

225g (8 ounces) caster or granulated sugar

3 free-range eggs plus 1 yolk, beaten

Grated zest and juice of 3 lemons

Method:

  1. Melt the butter in a medium sized heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie/double boiler). Make sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water.
  2. Add the sugar, eggs and egg yolk and lemon zest and juice.
  3. Cook gently without boiling until the curd thickens sufficiently to coat the back of a spoon. Be careful not to overheat the mixture otherwise it may curdle and separate. This recipe takes about 30 minutes to reach the correct consistency.
  4. Sieve the curd if you want and then pour the curd into sterilised jars that are still warm and cover as you would do for jam.
  5. Store the curd in a cool place, I usually leave mine in the fridge. The curd will store for up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy!

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Lemon Loaf Cake

Welcome spring with this zesty lemon loaf cake that’s similar to pound cake with its buttery taste and texture. This classy cake will make you want to skip dinner and go straight to dessert! 

I love cake and I love knowing even more that there’s a cake for every holiday or season. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate and mint, Christmas is all about candy canes and peppermint everything or gingerbread, whereas in spring and summer we celebrate all the gorgeous fresh berries and fruit that are bountiful.

This year I decided to prepare in advance for Easter and planned to bake a simple lemon cake to welcome the first day of spring in a few days time. This cake is fresh, zingy and will transport your taste buds straight into the new season. You may have figured out my love for anything lemon from my previous recipe for lemon herb rice? Since I shared a savoury recipe showcasing lemon it was now time for something sweet.

Back last summer I shared a buttermilk lemon cake that was slightly different from the one I’m sharing today because that recipe had buttermilk added the batter to keep it moist and the cake was drizzled with a simple lemon sugar icing. This time I thought it would be a nice change to bake the cake in a loaf tin as you traditionally do when you’re making pound cake. This cake is made in the same way but instead of a lemon sugar icing it just has a lemon glaze soaked into the cake whilst it’s still warm and fresh from the oven.

Another thing I kept the same as I did when I made my lemon buttermilk cake is that I made my own homemade lemon sugar. Using your fingertips you’ll rub the sugar and zest together until fragrant. Doing this enables the natural oils in the lemon to be released and your cake will have a stronger and more intense lemon flavour. This is a step I will always go to the extra effort to do as you can definitely taste the difference.

My family love serving this beautiful cake with Greek yoghurt and fresh raspberries. Eating cake with yoghurt takes my sister and I back to our childhood as this is something we would always do with leftover birthday cake for breakfast. Cake for breakfast is the absolute best!

If you prefer you can serve the cake with ice cream, pouring or whipped cream instead and top with berries or fruit of your choice. You could also try warming a slice of cake in the microwave, when it’s warm it gets all extra buttery and gooey.

(Serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

Lemon Cake:

230g (1 cup/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

250g (1 and 1/4 cups) caster or granulated sugar

2 tablespoons lemon zest – approx. 4 lemons

4 large free-range eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

210g (1 and 1/2 cups) plain/all-purpose or cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Lemon Glaze: 

100g (1/2 cup) caster or granulated sugar

60ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 160 Fan / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with parchment paper and set aside. Toss the sugar and lemon zest into a large mixing bowl. Using your fingertips rub the sugar and zest together for a minute or two until the sugar smells fragrant. Add the softened butter and beat until creamy and smooth.
  2. Next add the eggs one at a time and mix well in between each addition. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix through. Don’t be concerned at this point if the mixture looks curdled and like it’s going wrong, once you add the dry ingredients it’ll resemble more of a cake batter.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) on top of the wet mixture and then gently fold through until you have a smooth batter. Be careful not to mix the batter too much.
  4. Spread the cake batter evenly into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for 15 minutes. Now reduce the oven temperature to 170°C / 150 Fan / 325°F / Gas Mark 3. Carry on baking the cake for a further 35-45 minutes (turning around halfway through) or until a cake tester when inserted into the centre of the cake comes out completely clean without any uncooked batter remaining. After a total of 60 minutes baking mine took a further 15 minutes to finishing fully baking so my cake was in the oven for a total of 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes – much longer than the original recipe suggested).
  5. Once the cake is completely baked through remove it from the oven and set the tin over a wire rack. Meanwhile make the lemon glaze by combining the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring this mixture up to the boil and then once it’s boiling turn the heat down to low and allow it to simmer for about 2-3 minutes until thick and syrupy.
  6. Allow the cake to sit for 10 minutes then remove it from the tin. Using a toothpick poke holes all over the top and sides of the cake and brush the lemon glaze over all the cake. Leave the cake to cool to room temperature before serving. The cake will store at room temperature wrapped in clingfilm/plastic wrap or in an airtight container for up to 3 days – it may last for longer but in my house cake only seems to last more than a few days!

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Lately I’ve been absolutely loving my new kitchenware from Leila’s General Store. I love this denim apron with its cute pineapple design and I’m also enjoying baking using my silicone spatula. If you like the look of these items you can get a 20% discount using the code “whatjessicabaked” (excluding electronics and gift cards). This discount code is valid until 23rd of April on leilasgeneralstore.com!

Enjoy!

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Lemon Herb Rice

This one-pot rice pilaf is bursting with Mediterranean flavours! Baked and then garnished with herbs and lemon just before serving – you’ll want to eat this tasty rice straight from the pot!

lemon-herb-rice.png

I love that in food there are memories. Tasting a certain food can transport you back and allow you to reminisce about somewhere you travelled to or a time you really enjoyed and have fond memories of.

That’s exactly what this recipe does for me.

I first had a taste of rice very similar to this a number of years ago on holiday on one of my first visits to the glorious Mediterranean island of Cyprus. My family and I would visit this one restaurant a couple of times during our trip, the restaurant specialised in souvlaki which consists of various meats and vegetables grilled on a barbecue. Each diner received a massive plate that included a jacket potato, souvlaki meat of your choice such as beef, chicken or pork, a corn on the cob and a small portion of rice. The rice wasn’t just boring plain boiled rice it was incredibly buttery and rich in sensational flavours.

Greek is one of the many cuisines I really enjoy. A few of my personal Greek food favourites include spanakopita, tzatziki and tiropitakia – we used to buy these from bakeries on the way to the beach and would sit eating these amazing cheesy pastries whilst feeling the gentle sea breeze and sun on us. Just thinking of that I’d desperately like to be transported back there right now!

Wave goodbye to the winter blues by making this rice, it’s sure to bring a touch sunshine to your day!

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

30g/2 tablespoons butter

Drizzle of olive oil

1 medium white onion, diced

2-3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced

1-2 dried or fresh bay leaves, torn – tearing the leaves releases the flavour

450g (2 cups) long grain rice

900ml (4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock

Zest from half a large lemon and a squeeze of the juice

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Few sprigs each of fresh thyme and rosemary, finely chopped

Small handful of fresh parsley (approx. 2-3 tablespoons), finely chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Fan / 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6. In a large ovenproof saucepan over a medium heat melt one tablespoon of the butter and the oil.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves and a touch of salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes until soft and translucent – you don’t want this to colour too much.
  3. Now add the rice and stir until all the grains of rice are moistened by the butter. Then add the stock, cover the saucepan with a lid and allow it to come up to the boil.
  4. Once boiling take off the heat and place in the oven to braise for 15-20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is completely cooked through.
  5. Add the chopped herbs, lemon zest and a generous squeeze of the juice and season with extra salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Leave the rice with the lid on and allow the flavours to develop for about 5-10 minutes prior to serving. Garnish the rice with extra chopped parsley if desired.
  7. Rice is best served straight away or at room temperature. Don’t reheat rice more than once. If you’re reheating it check temperature has reached at least 75°C before consuming.

Recipe Notes:

  • If your saucepan lid is not ovenproof then you can cook this rice in a dish covered with tin/aluminium foil.
  • If you’re planning to make this rice dairy-free you can substitute the butter for a dairy-free alternative or just use oil.
  • I’ve tested this recipe out a few times and I’ve found adding the zest from half a large lemon adds more than enough lemon flavour without being overpowering. If you want you can add the zest of the whole lemon if you’re a lemon lover!
  • This rice doesn’t have to the braised in the oven you can cook it by boiling it the stove top instead if you’d prefer to do that. I baked it as this is how I was taught how to cook the best rice at culinary school. Just check how long your rice needs to cook, each brand can cook differently. There’s nothing nice about overcooked rice and you won’t want this rice to be the texture of rice pudding!
  • Rice can be eaten on its own but it’s also great served with chicken or fish such as salmon or prawns/shrimp.
  • This recipe will typically serve 4-6 people generously but it can serve up to 8 smaller portions.

Enjoy!

jess

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