Canapes are so often disappointing; too small, sadly an afterthought. These are anything but.
The ultimate in surf and turf; perfectly marinated large garlicky maple scallops wrapped in salty smoked bacon and baked on toothpicks for decadent pop in your mouth canapes. You might be advised to make double. READ MORE
I’ve had lots of surreal experiences in my life. I’ve flown to Milan and back in the same day. I’ve given a talk at the BFI. I’ve been approached by Sarah Ferguson whilst eating my lunch, just so she could tell me how much she liked my T Shirt. I’ve fed Jonny Vaughan’s dog. I’ve allowed Dermot O’Leary to throw Skittles into my mouth to practise his aim. And I’ve eaten pasta and talked love with Gethin Jones. Yep, working in advertising was strange. READ MORE
Pink, pink, pink. What do we think of pink? I remember loving my one posh pink dress as a child. It had a fairytale hill scene appliqued on the front in pink gingham. But the pink dress was for best. Pink was special.
And in my early adulthood, when I was flying the feminist flag highest, pink was a colour I hated. I raged at the army of pink aimed at little girls; pink domestic drudgery toys, pink dress up uniforms for lower paid jobs than the boys, pink clothed Barbie’s with pneumatic breasts and corset tortured waspish waists. If you’d have asked me, I’d have said pink stinks. READ MORE
I have spent most of my teenage and adult life being unhappy with my weight. Is that shocking? I don’t think so. I’m female, I like my food A LOT and I like tight jeans. Add these three things together and you have the perfect recipe for a little body wise self loathing. The last time I remember being rather happy with my body was in 1995. I was 15 and a size 10. Life was good. The tight jeans were tight, but didn’t yet threaten to cut me in half at the waist.
Nineteen years later and I am battling the postnatal bulge. I managed to deliciously eat my way to 4.5 stone extra weight during this last pregnancy. Now nothing fits. The maternity clothes have no bump to hold onto. The leggings sag. The jeans fall down. The tops sadly hang over my deflated belly. I don’t recognise myself in the mirror.
I wish, wish, wish I’d appreciated my body between the years 1996 to 2013. It really wasn’t that bad. Yes, I often sported a few extra pounds, and no, I wasn’t a size 10. But really, compared to now, I was in great shape. Sigh.
Onto the recipe. Here’s a cake that almost includes one of your five a day.
420g mixed dried fruit ( I used sultanas and figs, chopped)
20g mixed peel
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
275g self raising flour
3 braeburn apples, grated with skin on (approx 285g)
10g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
For the icing:
75g soft butter
60mls maple syrup
200g cream cheese
7 pieces of crystallised ginger
First make the cake. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and grease and line 3 x 20cm cake tins.
Beat the sugar, 100mls maple syrup and 125g butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Worry not if the mixture curdles. Remove 55g of the mixed fruit and blitz in a food processor with the mixed peel and milk to make a paste. Add this along with all the other cake ingredients into the bowl and mix for a 3 or 4 minutes until everything is well combined. Split the mixture evenly between the 3 tins, level with the back of a spoon and bake for 30 minutes until golden and lightly risen.
In the meantime make the icing by beating the butter with the maple syrup until soft and combined. Add the cream cheese and beat a little more until well mixed. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes before spreading to let the icing re-solidify. (Beating cream cheese makes it very loose.)
Once the cakes are baked cool on a wire rack. Once completely cool split the icing into thirds to layer the cake together, finishing with a final third on the top. Cut 6 of the pieces of ginger in half and use to decorate around the outside. Place the last piece of ginger in the middle.
I’m a mum of 3 boys, a cookbook writer and also a finalist on the 2011 Great British Bake Off.
I’ve decided to record the recipes I use, partly to save them somewhere and partly in case someone else might like to use them...
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