Food in October

The clocks have fallen back, the heating is on and we're just a few weeks away from Christmas. Sorry to say the 'C' word already, but its time to get festive. Starting with pumpkins and cinnamon, rolling onto to some toffee apples, toasted marshmallows and then head first into mulled wine and pigs in blankets.

I don't think I've ever had such a seasonal month in terms of recipes on the blog. How about a spiced pumpkin bundt or a Hogwarts Halloween feast with Harry's treacle tarts, butterbeer cupcakes and pumpkin pasties.

Its been a relatively quiet month, plenty of time to catch up on sleep and read through a few piles of recipe books.

At the start of the month I popped over to the Cake and Bake Show at the Excel. I'd never been on the Emirates Air Line before so was a nice way of travelling over the river and seeing the sights. The Cake show was packed full of some truly impressive bakes for their annual competition. This year's theme was children's stories. This Hogwarts cake was hands down my favourite, can I have it for my birthday please? And I'm just going to slip in here I'm so excited to have gotten my mitts on some Cursed Child tickets for next year!

Sunday mornings are perfect spent mooching around Colombia Road Flower Market finding some seasonal blooms and sipping coffee in the sunshine. I couldn't resist coming home with some new succulents and some hydrangea's that are still going strong 3 weeks on. 

I was sent these Nothing But snacks to try. I'd seen them before in Whole Foods so was curious to try them. Fruit and veggies are chopped up and freeze dried and nothing else is added to these handy packs. They're an acquired taste I feel, but some of the flavours are absolutely great. I loved the strawberry & banana ones and the pineapple & grape too. I wasn't so keen on the veggie ones as I've got a terrible sweet tooth but will definitely try some baking ones with the fruit ones.

Surprise surprise, some more buns. This time I went to On the Bab with Mike and Persephone and loved their fried chicken buns and kimchi. They had their very own beer dispenser and I had a Sojito, a mojito made with Korean Soju. With restaurants in Marylebone, Shoreditch and Covent Garden their buns are all over town. 

Another month has passed and another burger under my belt. Frankie took me and Flick to Counter in Vauxhall and we loved their Parisienne burger. Caramelised onion, bacon and a huge wedge of brie, incredible! Check out Frankie's review for scallops and raw onion.

I've taken to making a lot of granola of late, I love making bigger clusters to snack on at my desk. Breakfast all day long anyone? I melt 80g of honey with 1tbsp of coconut in a pan. Stir in a pinch of salt, 1tsp vanilla extract, 360g rolled oats and 1 beaten egg white. Spread out clumps onto a tray, scatter over some chopped nuts, sultanas and desiccated coconut and bake at 150 degrees for 20-30 minutes until golden. But go wild and add whatever you fancy.

And now, onto creating some bonfire night recipes!

Recipe: Spiced Pumpkin Bundt with Cream Cheese Frosting

There's only so long you can go without making a bundt. 'Almost' the most easygoing and fuss-free cake going (only trumped by a loaf cake). You give the ingredients a little mix then let it do its thing whilst it basks in the oven. I love that I can even fit some washing up and a browse through Instagram with a coffee in whilst its baking!

And, if you haven't seen enough pumpkin recently, then here's some more!

Super moist with warming spices and not too sweet. The cream cheese frosting is my favourite too. The perfect 'grown-up' cake that you can get away with having generous slices...pumpkins are vegetables after all. 

Spiced pumpkin bundt cake with cream cheese frosting
(adapted from Martha Stewart)

Spiced pumpkin bundt cake:

275g unsalted butter, softened
600g soft light brown sugar
4 eggs
560g plain flour, plus extra for the bundt tin
4tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp salt
2tbsp speculoos mix (recipe here, alternatively use a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger)
200ml buttermilk
1 tin of Libby's pumpkin puree
  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Lightly grease a bundt tin, dust with flour and shake off any excess.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spice mix and give a quick shuffle with a whisk to get rid of any clumps.
  5. Back to the batter! On a slow speed, continue to mix alternating between a few dollops of buttermilk and the flour mix until everything is incorporated.
  6. Gently fold in the pumpkin by hand.
  7. Pour into the bundt tin, two thirds of the way up the tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 50-55 minutes. A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.
  8. Leave on a wire rack to cool.
Spiced cream cheese frosting:
(yields enough to frost at least a dozen cupcakes or one bundt cake)

200g cream cheese, room temperature
50g unsalted butter, softened
350g icing sugar, sifted
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp speculoos spice mix (recipe here, alternatively use cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger)
  1. In a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth. This will ensure there's no lumps in the finished frosting. 
  2. Continue to beat whilst adding the cream cheese and icing sugar, a little at a time on a low speed.
  3. Finally add the vanilla and spice and beat until incorporated. The mix will be nice and thick for frosting, but add a splash of mix if you want to be able to drizzle over the bundt a little more.
To finish, tip the bundt out onto a serving plate. If the bundt isn't flat on the bottom, you may want to slice a little off with a serrated knife to level it. I decorated mine with a big drizzle of the frosting and blitzed the chopped off bottom pieces to crumbs and scattered on top.

Jeremy Pang's 15 Minute Noodles: Pad Thai

I love noodles. Who doesn't? But when it comes to making a quick meal at home I tend to make the same old rice noodles with a few lashings of soy and chilli. Nothing too exciting.

When Lucy recommended me to try one of Jeremy Pang's new 15 minute noodle kits from the School of Wok, I was interested to see just how much flavour a boxed kit could have. And especially to see whether I could get a little inspiration for super speedy weekday dinners.

Within the range there's 6 different flavours, and so far Tesco is stocking 3 of them: the pad thai, singapore noodles and chow mein. Grab a kit, add some meat and/or veg and there's your meal. You can follow Jeremy's instructions or just throw caution to the wind and add in what you like.

I tried my hand at making a pad thai in 15 minutes at home. 

To start, ho fun noodles are soaked in boiling water. Then over to the wok to stir fry some egg, garlic and beansprouts. The kit called for prawns, but I used chicken. Stir fry the lot until the chicken starts to brown.

Next up, add the seasoning then tamarind and lime sauce and stir through. Throw in the noodles and give everything a good toss around the wok till everything's mixed.

To serve, squeeze over a lime and sprinkle over some chopped peanuts.

I loved how Jeremy presents each step in the form of a wok clock. To ensure this really is a super speedy 15 minute meal, lay out all ingredients in the order of when you'll need them. Start at 12 o' clock with the egg and work your way round the ingredients. Simple!

Another great tip was soaking the noodles and any vegetables you want before hand in boiling water. This way, by the time the protein is cooked the noodles and vegetables will have softened. When you add them to the wok, they'll only need a few minutes before being ready. Surely that must shave off a good few minutes alone. 

This pad thai had such a huge burst of flavour, sweet tamarind, zingy lime and crunchy peanuts. And how long did it take you may ask? 14 minutes and 52 seconds!

Tried and tested, I can't wait to try the rest of the 15 minute noodle kits now.

School of Wok kindly sent me a kit to try out. I did not receive payment for this post and all opinions are my own.

Hogwart's Halloween Feast: Treacle Tarts, Pumpkin Pasties & Butterbeer Cupcakes

"By the time Hallowe'en arrived, Harry was regretting his rash promise to go to the deathday party. The rest of the school was happily anticipating their Hallowe'en feast; the Great Hall had been decorated with the usual live bats, Rubeus Hagrid's vast pumpkins had been carved into lanterns large enough for three men to sit in, and there were rumours that Albus Dumbledore had booked a troupe of dancing skeletons for the entertainment."
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

There's no use hiding just how much I love Harry Potter. I've queued up at midnight for book editions to be released, had DVD marathons and visited the Leavesden Studios umpteen times. And if you're not a Harry Potter fan, chances are you won't be reading this and will never know how to make the best pumpkin pasties of your life.

But, guys, Harry Potter is for life, not just Halloween. 

So in order to preserve these recipes from the Hogwart's Halloween feast, Flick and I hopped on the Floo Network for supplies in Diagon Alley (via Flick's kitchen) and here they are...

In absence of Hagrid's pumpkins and a troupe of dancing skeletons, Flick did her best to keep me entertained with cups of tea, some singing and some regular dancing. She's multi-talented you know.


"When everyone had eaten as much as they could, the remains of the food faded from the plates leaving them sparkling clean as before. A moment later the puddings appeared. Blocks of ice cream in every flavour you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate eclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, jelly, rice pudding...As Harry helped himself to a treacle tart, the talk turned to their families."
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Treacle Tart
(recipe adapted from BBC Good Food, makes 4 individual tarts, or 1 medium tart)

115g plain flour
55g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 egg
45g breadcrumbs
225g golden syrup
pinch of ground ginger
zest of 1/2 a lemon and 1tbsp of lemon juice
  1. Rub together the butter and flour in a large bowl until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Stir in the egg and knead on a lightly floured work surface until the dough is smooth.
  3. Roll out to about the thickness of a pound coin and place into tart tins. Use a small ball of leftover dough to press into the edges of the tart tin. Prick the base with a fork and leave to cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Heat the oven to 190 degrees, cover the tarts with baking paper, fill with baking beans and bake blind for 10-15 minutes. The tart should be light and just starting to turn golden.
  5. For the treacle filling, mix all ingredients together. Pour into the pastry tarts and bake for 20 minutes.


"Anything from the cart, dearies?"
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 

Pumpkin Pasties
(makes 16)

390g pumpkin flesh, grated
200g gruyere, grated
1tbsp freshly chopped sage
1tbsp freshly chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, grated
dash of cream
one pack of puff pastry
1 egg yolk, beaten
  1. Heat the oven to 190 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the pumpkin flesh, 150g cheese, herbs, garlic, cream and generously season. Leave to one side.
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry to about the thickness of a pound coin. Use a round pastry cutter to cut each pasty. Pull out each of the pastry rounds so that they look more pumpkin shaped.
  3. Lay half the pumpkins onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper, leaving a little room between each.
  4. Spoon the pumpkin mix onto the middle of each pastry pumpkin leaving space round the edges to brush with beaten egg yolk.
  5. Place the pumpkin tops on, score three lines from top to bottom of each of the pumpkins to help them take their shape. Place a pumpkin seed on top for the stalk.
  6. Sprinkle on the remaining 50g of grated gruyere and bake in the oven until golden, 15-20 minutes.


"Why don't we go and have a butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks, its a bit cold, isn't it?"
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 

Butterbeer & pumpkin cupcakes
(makes a dozen)

Spiced pumpkin cupcakes:

225g pumpkin flesh, grated
1tbsp root ginger, peeled and grated
40ml buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g unsalted butter, softened
210g caster sugar
250g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees and line a cupcake tray with cupcake cases. In a stand mixer, or with a handheld whisk, mix together the pumpkin, ginger, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, butter and sugar until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices (no need to sift these).
  3. Continue to slowly beat the pumpkin mix and add in the flour mix in stages, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is well mixed.
  4. Divide between the cupcake cases and bake for 15 minutes, until golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack whilst you make the buttercream.
Butterbeer buttercream:

140g salted butter, softened
280g icing sugar, sifted
splash of full fat milk or cream
1tsp vanilla bean paste (the stronger the better)
1tsp caramel flavouring (better still, butter flavouring if you can find it)
few drops of orange colouring
  1. In a stand mixer or hand whisk, beat the butter and icing sugar slowly together until smooth. If needed, add a splash of milk or cream to loosen.
  2. Continue to beat in the flavouring and colouring until fully incorporated.
Pipe the buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes and decorate with smashed pretzels, butterscotch and any other treats you fancy. A drizzle of caramel would be great too!

And if that's not quite enough for a feast, then check out some more ideas on my Pinterest board...

"Mischief managed."

#OnkenTips Instagram Recipe Book

Whether in meals, snacks or baking, I love using yogurt to give recipes a healthy little boost. Working with Onken over the past few years has been a great way of learning about yogurt and also finding tasty alternatives to butter and milk.

Some of my favourite 'dollops of difference' for weekdays are adding yogurt to mashed potato to make it extra creamy and to make a great chicken marinade with a spoon of tikka paste mixed with yogurt. Healthy too!

Last week Onken released their #OnkenTips Cookbook, the UK's first crowdsourced Instagram cookbook. Yogurt lovers from across the country have shared their favourite ways of using Onken.

For more inspiration, the #OnkenTips Instagram Cookbook can be found online here.

Here's a sneak peak of the inside...

Whether it's my lemon and blueberry yogurt loaf, Miss Mamo's garlic bread or Nicole's yogurt satay sauce, there's some great tips in the book. Take a look for a dollop of yogurt inspiration!

This post is in collaboration with Onken.

Bake Off Bake Along: Week 10 - Chocolate, Amaretto & Morello Iced Buns

Ten whole weeks has flown by. What will we all do with our Wednesday evenings now?

Baking along with the TV series has been both great fun and stressful. From the time my pastry fell apart, the nuts fell off my mokatines and my frangipane literally fell out the oven. I've also gotten over my fear of making pastry, kind of, and also brioche.

I'd have like to have made something more like a showstopper for my final bake. But then again, I'm pretty sure I've said that every week. Instead, for each challenge I've tried to work on things I've never made before as a good excuse to expand my repertoire.

And so, onto the final...

I chose to make iced buns a little differently. Regular iced buns remind me of the time someone once bought supermarket iced buns into the office. They were stale, lacking in jam and the lurid icing was too cloy. And just plain miserable.

I made brioche buns, stuffed them with morello cherry jam and frosted them with my favourite chocolate and amaretto ganache. For the brioche, I used a trusty Dan Lepard recipe and the filling recipe from my last bake for the frosting.

Unfortunately I didn't quite get enough jam in and the ganache was a little difficult to work with. I wanted it to cool slightly before frosting so as not to drip down the buns too much. But then it got too cool and too firm, and therefore a little lumpy once reheated slightly.

Here's a few pointers for brioche...
  • ensure eggs and butter are at room temperature and dissolve the yeast into liquids at a warm to the touch temperature
  • its best to use regular yeast, rather than a quick rising supermarket one, and the fresher the better
  • be prepared to do a lot of mixing. For a long time you may think there's absolutely no way everything will come together to form a dough. Just keep adding small chunks of butter, bit by bit
  • when the dough is ready and has come together perfectly, it'll cling onto the dough hook of your mixer and slap the sides of the bowl
  • if kneading, the dough will feel sticky and loose. Persevere, otherwise adding more flour in will make the buns pretty tough
  • butter helps to give brioche that nice rich flavour but also helps to shape the dough. If you need to shape the dough in some elaborate fashion, chill it for a good few hours to firm up the butter and it'll be more pliable
  • the warmer your room, the quicker the dough will rise
  • although, for optimum flavour, prove overnight in the fridge and leave to stand at room temperature for two hours before baking
  • if you're making regular brioche and not frosting buns, brush the tops with egg yolk before baking for a super shiny top
And so that's it, my final Bake Off bake along recipe for the year!

Here's how I got on with the previous 9 weeks:


Thanks Amanda and Ala for hosting such a fun challenge x

Recipe: McVitie's Chocolate Digestive Cake for National Chocolate Week

Its National Chocolate Week everyone!

There's only a few wagons I'll jump on when it comes to national 'this' day and national 'that'. But chocolate? Absolutely, yes please!

This chocolate digestive cake is the perfect no-bake recipe to make after work. Leave it to set in the fridge and it'll be ready to take into the office in the morning if you're looking for extra brownie points. Failing that, it will set in less than an hour so you can have it for dinner. Because being an 'adult' means that I get to make the choices for dinner and chocolate for dinner will make my soul happy!

McVitie's Chocolate Digestive Cake

(Recipe from McVitie's, makes a 1lb loaf to serve 8)

200g Mcvitie's Digestive biscuits
110g whole pecans, roughly chopped
110g pistachio nuts, peeled
150g unsalted butter
1tbsp golden syrup
300g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
  1. In a small bowl, break half the biscuits into small pieces. Add most of the nuts, leaving some behind for garnishing the top of the cake.
  2. Melt the butter, golden syrup and chocolate in a bowl placed over a pan of barely simmering water to melt. When fully melted and smooth, add the nuts and biscuits and mix.
  3. Use cling film to line a 1lb loaf tin, leaving enough round the edges to pull the cake out once set.
  4. Halve the remaining biscuits and place a layer in the bottom of the tin. Alternate between layers of chocolate and biscuits. Slowly pour any remaining chocolate over the top.
  5. Use a sheet of greaseproof paper to cover and push down the mix firmly into the tin.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the top and leave to set in the fridge for around an hour to firm.
  7. Remove from the tin using surplus cling film and slice to serve.

There's so many variations you could make on this recipe, change the biscuits, the chocolate and nuts to whatever you've got lurking in your cupboards.

14 Perfect Recipes for Autumn

Dust off your slow cookers, mornings are now fresher than ever. And by fresh, I mean I'm considering gloves, scarves and hats already. And to get myself in the mood for apple, cinnamon and pumpkin season I've rounded up the best of Autumn recipes from the blogosphere.

Plenty of pumpkin and sweet potato will help to defrost us a little before things get a little too festive. (Although for some, we're already there...supermarket mince pies, anyone?)

Autumn is my favourite season purely for slow cookers and batch cooking, much less hassle than summer cooking. Bintu's pumpkin pasta with toasted hazelnuts is a perfect example of a super speedy seasonal supper. Make my pumpkin chilli and store portions in the freezer ready for busy weeks. Lucy's beef daube stew is perfect to make in advance for a warming Sunday dinner.

And for some more comforting suppers? I can't wait to try Kate's oven-baked pumpkin & leek risotto, I'm too impatient to stir regular risotto constantly. Or maybe to dunk huge hunks of a buttered loaf into these super easy turmeric beans. Mac n cheese fan? Hannah has truly gone to town with this squash, sage and stilton mac n cheese with bacon.

Fancy a drink? Madeleine has the most perfect pumpkin spice latte recipe or for something a little healthier, this blackberry, fig and beetroot smoothie recipe should do the

I don't think I've mentioned how much I enjoy baking with pumpkin and sweet potato. It's such a versatile ingredient and great for moist, fluffy bakes. Try these spiced pumpkin and pecan mini cakes or sweet potato cake with marshmallow frosting. Emily is the macaron queen and came up with these perfect pumpkin spice latte guys. How amazing do they look?! 

Cate really is on fire over the last few weeks with no end of Autumn inspiration popping up on her blog. I can't wait to try this Autumn banana bread made with squash puree (and its dairy free too!). A hybrid between doughnut and muffins, duffins are a deceptively easy and super quick treat to make. Cinnamon apple duffins are perfect for lunchbox treats...or for sneaky weekend breakfasts! Speaking of treats, these pumpkin pie bars from Katie would go down well in the office.

I'm so excited for my next day off to do some baking now!

What are your favourite Autumn recipes?

Bake Off Bake Along: Week 9 - Amaretto Millionaire's Chocolate Tart

I'm just going to put it out there, chocolate week is my week. I was so excited to be let loose with a chocolate tart. The possibilities really were endless: peanut butter, chocolate bakewell and a cheesecake tart were a few of the ideas I'd had.

After my pastry disaster in week 6 I almost chickened out and bought shop-made pastry. I had to give myself a little pep talk and went with the idea that if it fell apart then at least I'd have something to write about. 

The chocolate pastry wasn't so difficult to make after all, I used a Tom Kerridge recipe. I did roll it out too thin and it fell apart when trying to place it in the tin though. So instead I opted for the ultimate cheats method...whack a big lump of pastry in the middle of a tart tin and squidge it around the corners until it resembles a tart. To Kerridge's recipe, I added a base layer of salted caramel and a malteser and white chocolate drizzle topping. 

It may not be as visually impressive as a chocolate sculpture show-stopper but this is the most decadent dessert you can possibly make. 

For the best chocolate pastry, salted caramel and chocolate ganache, follow these tips:
  • pastry can be made up to 3 days ahead and is the perfect opportunity to give it a good chill before rolling and shaping. Wrap well in clingfilm to keep dry. Once ready to use, leave out at room temperature for 20-30 minutes until its soft enough to work with.
  • alternatively, to freeze uncooked pastry, shape into a disc and wrap well. Store for up to one month in the freezer before leaving to thaw in the fridge for a day. Or to freeze an uncooked pastry tart that you've already shaped, freeze in the tin until firm enough to wrap.
  • when rolling pastry and you've got some spare, flour your work surface with cocoa powder when making chocolate pastry.
  • roll the pastry out to the thickness of a pound coin, rolling from the centre outwards and turning a quarter turn after each roll. This will ensure a nice even thickness and that the pastry doesn't stick to the work surface.
  • use the rolling pin to gently drape the rolled pastry onto and lower onto the tart tin. Gently lift edges and ease into the corners with a rolled up ball of dough, you don't want to poke any holes with your nails.
  • a good way to even out the top is to roll your rolling pin over the top of the tart tin to chop off any remaining pastry edges.
  • chill for 30 minutes before blind baking. I like to be safe and prick the base of the tart with a fork a few times, then cover with cling film or baking paper and pour over some baking beans or uncooked rice. Yes, cling film can go in the oven!
  • for the easiest guide to making salted caramel, Izy's guide has handy gifs.
  • when making ganache I always think of Ashley's video, here.

And to see how I've gotten on with the rest of the challenges...