The Perfect Picnic

In preparation for the beginning of the bake-off and in true British summer style, my friends and I decided to have a picnic. We are all relatively unfussy lovers of all things edible so there was no end of picnic possibilities. There was plenty of hummus, veggie sticks, and ripe plum tomatoes, a tapas picnic of sorts.2014-08-06 19.12.09 There was, however, a centerpiece- the star of the show, a deliciously cheesy, spinach, bacon, mushroom and feta quiche. Quite the mouthful.

The bacon and mushrooms are not part of the original recipe but we decided to go all out and it was no mistake. Some sun dried tomatoes wouldn’t go amiss either.2014-08-06 19.24.06

So, let’s start with mains and perhaps if you keep reading you’ll find a dessert to follow.

  • 100g butter (if you’re using bacon this is not necessary)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 275g frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 100g mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 200g feta, crumbled
  • 200g mild Cheddar cheese, grated
  • Salt and freshly pepper to taste
  • Shortcrust pastry for a 23cm (9in) dish
  • (I used shop bought for the first time ever! Time was of the essence, use your
  • own recipe or try this one)
  • 4 eggs
  • 250ml milk

Preheat the oven to 190C

Roll out your pastry enough to cover the pie dish with some overhang, keeping in mind it will shrink as it cooks.

Cut the bacon into small pieces and add to the frying pan along with a knob of butter, perhaps 20g if you’re a stickler for precision, cook over a medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes.

Add the finely chopped onions and sauté until soft, add the garlic last as it’s most likely to burn.

Let the flavours come together for a couple of minutes over a low heat before adding the mushrooms and spinach.

In the meantime beat the eggs, add the milk, some salt and pepper and beat further to combine.

Check your veg, continue to cook until most of the water has evaporated, then add the crumbled feta and half of the cheddar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the mix from the pan into the prepared pastry case then, pour over the milk and egg mixture, allow the two to combine.

Stick it on the oven, removing after the first 15 minutes to sprinkle the remaining cheddar on top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes more, the quiche is done when there’s only a very slight wobble in the middle – like a cheesecake. 2014-08-06 18.39.55

Leave to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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Once we’d had our fill of carrot sticks and quiche it was just about 8 o’clock. Now, no picnic is complete without cake and by the time the bake-off started we had all settled down, cuppa in hand and a slice on our laps. It was the perfect combination of a quintessential apple crumble and bright summer fruits.2014-08-06 20.44.57 Light, in every sense of the word, but not without that dense-ness necessary to hold the berries in place and leave you just satisfied. The perfect way to end the picnic and, considering the theme was cake, start the bake-off!

 Preheat the oven to 180C

Grease and line a loaf tin

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 175g muscovado sugar
  • 175g butter
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2tbsp demerara sugar
  • 1 small eating apple
  • 2 large eggs
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 125g blackberries
  • 125g raspberries

Start by rubbing together the flour, sugar and butter just like you’re making a crumble topping or pastry. Make sure all the butter is rubbed through and you have a sandy texture.

Measure out 5 tbsp. of the flour, butter and sugar mix, into a separate bowl. To those 5 tbsp. add the cinnamon and demerara sugar, leave aside for now.

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Grate your orange zest finely, and the apple down to the core – don’t worry about peeling it.

Beat the eggs and then stir in the zest and grated apple.

Add the teaspoon of baking powder to the dry ingredients followed by the wet egg mixture. Stir with a light hand, gentle but quick, until the mixture is just combined and drops easily from the spoon. 2014-08-04 21.06.59 2014-08-04 21.26.38

Fold in 3/4 of the berries try not to break them.

Spoon the mixture into the tin, level off and place the rest of the berries on top. Finally, scatter the crumble mixture over to cover them.

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Bake for 1hr 15 – 1hr20 mins.

Check after 50 minutes and cover the cake with tinfoil to stop it burning.

When finished a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean. Allow it to cool for 30 minutes in the tin before transferring to a wire rack.

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Et voila!

If you intend to follow suit, you’ve time to whip up both these delicious treats in time for the second episode tomorrow evening.

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Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake

Sometimes baking doesn’t quite go as planned. If you’ve been watching the Great Sports Relief Bake Off you’ll know all too well what I’m talking about. For us everyday bakers not every moment is a Mary Berry one!


Generally my birthday bakes are the standard crowd pleaser, chocolate. I’ve done carrot once and a black forest gateau but lemon drizzle AND vegan was a whole new venture.  I’d recommend not using rice milk for this, you’ll discover why further down this post. I’d also recommend reading about my mishaps before giving this one a go!

For the cake:

  •  250ml soya milk
(I used rice milk)
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 200g sugar
  • 75ml vegetable oil
juice of one lemon
  • zest of two lemons

Preheat the oven to 180C

Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper (DON’T use butter if you’re keeping this vegan)

Whisk the milk with the vinegar until it curdles, becoming thick (this didn’t happen for me and I would not recommend using rice milk for this recipe)

Grate the zest from the lemons and squeeze the juice of one into a separate bowl

Add the oil, lemon zest and sugar to the bowl with the lemon juice in it and mix well

Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix to combine

Pour the mix into the prepared tin and bake for 40 -50 mins until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.



I was concerned from the off when the milk I was using didn’t curdle as the recipe stated it should (this is apparently what gives the cake a fluffy texture). A quick browse of the Internet informed me that rice milk doesn’t tend to curdle and get thick like soya, but rest assured the recipe would work.  I remained skeptical. Though my skepticism waned a little as I watched the cake rise spectacularly in the oven, it was soon to return.

For the drizzle:

  • 1 lemon
  • 75g caster sugar


Mix the caster sugar and lemon juice in a bowl

Prick the cake all over with a toothpick (whilst still warm and in the tin)

Drizzle the lemon and sugar all over the cake

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 25 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

I was probably a little over-zealous with my poking holes into the cake. I didn’t have a toothpick so I used a knife and think I pulled too much causing it to collapse, never mind I covered that by drowning it in lemon icing as you can see below:


Really I should have named this post ‘Lemon Drowned Cake’.


The cake fell almost as spectacularly as it rose and looks more like a lemon brick.  The texture was quite dense, a little bit like fudgy lemon brownies, which I’ll attribute to the lack of curdling in my milk. I personally wasn’t very keen and wouldn’t attempt this again this with rice milk – I don’t think the fat content of it is quite right.  If you decide to try this, I hope you have more luck than I do!

Original recipe from:

Avoiding a Soggy Bottom for 2014.

I’ve been off the baking/blogging scene for a while, enjoying far too much sunshine and good food. There was absolutely no need for excess goodies in our house around Christmastime and there seemed to be no end to them! I’ve been sent back to Leeds with about a kilo of Christmas cake by my Dad because he claims he and Mum would never eat the whole thing themselves. What lies, he loves Christmas cake as much as I do and I’m well over halfway through this quarter in under a week. That’s not a complaint though, I’m savouring every slice! All the Christmas yumminess aside, the point of this was to share one of my favourite, baking related, presents this year:


My friends know me far too well. I read it on the plane home and finished it all in one go. As well as baking tips it explains a lot of the technicalities of baking and gives loads of history on how the recipes we use today were adapted and developed. It’s not for everyone but if you enjoy baking it’s most definitely worth a read! I did try a custard recipe and wasn’t too keen (post to come) but I’ll be trying out some more for sure. So that’s to come and I’ve also just kicked off the new year with some biscuits. I’m not quite sure how my resolution to kick my serious sugar habit is going to get on with my baking addiction, the two hardly complement each other. Oh well, challenge accepted.

Hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas and 2014 is off to a good start!