So it was my birthday yesterday…. And this song is more than a little appropriate….
I’m definitely feeling 22!
Anyway, birthdays only mean one thing, baking and eating lots and lots and lots and lots of cakes. I’m currently carrying around about 6lb of birthday weight. But that’s okay, because I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. Gavin bought me a big Mason Cash bowl and a spiralizer, Mom and Dad bought me box sets of Hawaii 5.0 and NCIS, my brothers bought me vouchers, recipe books and a doughnut pan (how cool?!), and my aunties all pitched in to buy me a waffle maker.
I CAN’T WAIT TO TEST OUT ALL MY GOODIES!
Before all the craziness started and the huge family BBQ began, Gavin and I sat for hours making a million and one cake pops. I didn’t even think to take pictures, I think my hands would have been too sticky anyway, but they went down an absolute treat!! I’d say around a third of the birthday weight is from carrot cake pops and chocolate fudge cake pops…. Oops!
I also baked probably one of the best yet most simple recipes I’ve come across. Whenever I bake a Victoria Sponge I sometimes find it can be a little egg-y or too vanilla-y. This recipe calls for a little zest of orange and it just creates such a deliciously light flavour – you can’t really go wrong.
After this recipe I will be posting an interesting piece about extracting and harvesting honey as well as making Blackcurrant, Strawberry & Raspberry Jam. Our field is really thriving at the moment and we’ve had such a blast harvesting the honey from our bees, as well as picking fruit for jam!
So this queen of sponges uses homemade jam, as well as freshly picked raspberries left over from when George visited (also used in my Raspberry, Almond & White Chocolate Blondies)
Spot the conveniently placed homemade jam in the background 😉
*recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver*
Queen Victoria Sponge (serves 8)
250g softened unsalted butter
250g self-raising flour
250g caster sugar
zest of 1 orange
Handful of fresh raspberries
icing sugar, for dusting
For the Jam:
a few drops of rosewater, to taste
4 tbsp raspberry jam (or homemade blackcurrant, raspberry & strawberry jam!)
For the crystallized rose petals:
1 egg white
Handful of rose petals
Sprinkle of caster sugar
For the vanilla cream:
150ml double cream
½ a vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out
2 tsp caster sugar
- Preheat oven to 190 degrees and grease/line your cake tins
- Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, ensuring you beat well after each addition. Now fold in the orange zest and flour
- Divide the mixture between your prepared tins and smooth with a spatula. Bake for around 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool a little then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool (if the cake is still warm when you assemble the jam and cream with fly off!)
- Mix a few drops of rosewater into your jam, but make sure you don’t overpower it, it’s simply to get that light flowery taste!
- For the crystallized petals: Turn the oven right down to 110°C and whisk the egg white to stiff peaks. Using a pastry brush, coat the petals on both sides and then sprinkle over your caster sugar. Shake any excess sugar off and place on a lined baking tray. Cook for around 4 minutes, until they are nice and crispy!
- Whip your cream with the vanilla seeds and sugar until you get soft peaks
- To assemble the cake: Spread the jam and then the vanilla cream over one of the cakes, throwing in some raspberries before you place the second cake on top
- Dust with icing sugar and decorate with your crystallized rose petals
I probably just had my favourite weekend. My favourite person in the whole entire world came to stay, (sorry Gavin 😉 ) my nephew George. Yes, he was George a few months before Prince George was George!
George is the chattiest, cutest, loveliest, most adorable, well-mannered, hilarious little two year old in the whole wide world. I never thought I could love a little person as much as I love him.
George also came bearing gifts; freshly picked raspberries from Linby (Nottinghamshire). As we are slowly nearing the end of the strawberry and raspberry season here in England, they were ripe and ready to munch on.
Over the past few weeks I’ve made some crackin’ fruit related baking goodies: Strawberry n’ Cream Muffins, Strawberry & White Chocolate Shortbread, Extra Thick Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes and Jumbo Raspberry Chocolate Muffins.
So I’m thinking, hmmmm, what have I not made in a while….. BROWNIES! Or rather, BLONDIES! I’m a little obsessed with white chocolate at the moment, so these really have tipped me off the edge.
I’ve been in a blondie coma for approximately 3 days now.
Simple to make, with a wonderful cake-y flavour yet moist brownie texture, these are heavenly. The almonds create a lovely crunch and subtle nutty flavour, you can’t really say no.
Raspberry, Almond & White Chocolate Blondies (makes around 20)
200g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
200g caster sugar
200g unsalted butter, softened
30g flaked almonds (I crushed them a little)
150g white chocolate chunks
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and grease your baking tin
- Sift the flour and salt into a small bowl and set aside
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
- Gradually add one egg at a time along with a spoonful of flour
- Add the remaining flour and vanilla extract, until fully combined
- Gently fold in the almonds, white chocolate and raspberries – don’t be afraid of the mixture going pink and streaky from the raspberries – this adds to the appearance!
- Spoon into your tray and bake in the oven for around minutes
- Cool on a wire rack and then remove from tin – ENJOY!
As I look in my fridge this morning, all I can see is the buttermilk I bought, sitting, waiting patiently to be used. Bought specifically for scones (recipe will be up soon – I do love a good plain buttermilk scone), I now have some left over. Hmmmm what can I use with buttermilk. Obvious suggestions would be bread or cakes, but at the moment I’m enjoying baking with natural greek yogurt, and I don’t fancy anything too big or fancy……
I think if I could pick one thing to eat for the rest of my life…. It might just be pancakes. Weirdly enough they’ve never made it to my blog; they are just a standard part of my week and I never really use a specific recipe anyway – I always improvise when it comes to measuring. In fact it’s probably one of the only things I make where I leave it down to guess work. I know stateside you guys like to have ‘em small and thick, us Brits tend to have ‘em big and thin.
There is genuinely nothing better than a pancake for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner, or snack… served with fruit, or chocolate, or syrup, or lemon, or sugar, or Nutella….. I could go on.
As much as I love love love pancakes, I’ve never really branched out and tried different types of recipes, I always go by the standard of flour, eggs and milk.
No matter what happens, I always have those three things in my fridge. I also know they are no hassle at all for me and my boyfriend – gluten-free flour and lactose free milk and we’re sorted.
But the buttermilk was staring me down, and I thought, well I really should try something different. These cake-y, extra thick, strawberry pancakes are just heavenly. Simple to make, and even simpler to munch on. They are very similar to Scotch pancakes (has anyone stateside tried these?!), which takes me straight back to childhood.
As always you can swap strawberries with pretty much any fruit you prefer, and go wild, adding chocolate chips, sprinkles etc etc. And if you don’t happen to have buttermilk in your fridge staring you down – an easy substitute would be to mix 250ml milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice. Yes, it really is as easy as that!
Perfect for lazy Sunday mornings ❤
For more recipes to fit the strawberry season that has finally hit England, check out my new section under Country Girl Heart called Seasonal Favourites – we’ve got Strawberry & White Chocolate Shortbread, Strawberry n’ Cream Muffins and Strawberry Swirl Cupcakes.
Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes (makes around 6)
140g plain flour
35g granulated sugar
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
220ml buttermilk, (splash more, if necessary)
45g melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
Handful roughly chopped strawberries
- In a large bowl, stir the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together
- In a measuring jug add the buttermilk, egg, oil/melted butter and vanilla extract and whisk to combine
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and whisk until just combined (if it’s too thick splash a little more buttermilk in)
- Spray your pan with cooking oil and set over a medium-high heat
- Scoop your batter into the pan (for this recipe I like to have smaller and thicker pancakes, but size is completely optional)
- Sprinkle a few strawberries onto each pancake and cook for around 2 minutes – I usually double check if the side is golden brown before attempting to flip
- Flip carefully and cook second side until golden brown, around 2 ½ minutes
- Serve with butter, jam, maple syrup, butterscotch golden syrup (mmmmm my favourite at the moment) and so on
- If you don’t manage to munch all these up, they keep in the fridge for around 2 days (with a quick zap in the toaster to warm up)
Now the last time I made shortbread I baked my Chocolate, Orange & Caraway Shortbread. They were so moreish and disappeared pretty fast. I found that they had a biscuit/cookie texture, which actually worked out extremely well.
However today I want to try a different method (creaming the butter and sugar together and then adding the flour – rather than rubbing the butter into the flour and sugar). I also want these to be a little more dense and creamy, thus I’m adding more butter and sugar this time, as well as some cornflour to thicken up the dough.
Of course we all know it’s the strawberry season (if you have somehow managed to miss this, check out my yummy Strawberry n’ Cream Muffins – they are insane!), and so I must include some delicious fresh strawberries. Dried fruit would definitely be easier to work with in this sort of recipe, however I like a challenge and love the pinky streaks the fruit creates in these shortbreads (I’m one of those weirdos who likes imperfection)
Just a word of warning: because fresh fruit has a lot of moisture, you may need to add a little more flour to this dough when ‘knocking up’ and rolling, but don’t be afraid of a moist dough, it just means your hands will get extra messy and sticky, but your shortbread will be extra creamy and juicy when you hit a strawberry crunch!
As we all know my recipe cannot go without a little chocolate; today I’m in the mood for a creamy white chocolate chip, to complement the texture and flavour we’re going for today.
After walking round my garden and picking some fresh lavender I had a little thought of using lavender flavouring in my next batch. I really really like crisp and light flowery tastes in biscuits.
These are a big hit and are great for nibbling on a warm sunny day with a cup of Yorkshire tea (what else?!)
Strawberry & White Chocolate Shortbread (makes around 40)
200g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
Pinch of salt
75g white chocolate chips
75g finely chopped strawberries (dried fruit would work best however I used fresh – just prepare for the colour to run a little)
- Lightly grease and line your baking trays
- Cream together the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
- Sift the flour and cornflour into the bowl and then add the salt. Mix together until smooth and combined
- Add the strawberries and chocolate then gently fold
- Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead to form a soft dough
- Roll out between 2 pieces of baking parchment to around 1cm thick. Prick the dough and cut into whatever shapes you desire
- Place the shortbreads onto your trays and chill for around 45-60 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 170 degrees and bake shortbreads for around 15-20 minutes, until just golden brown. Leave on the trays for a few minutes to cool and then place on wire rack to cool completely.
- Dust with sugar and hey presto you’re in! These keep for around 5 days…. Enjoy!
Strawberry n’ Cream Muffins
I love it when you see crates full of strawberries lining the supermarkets…. it must really be summer. FINALLY!
Last year I made one of my favourite recipes – Strawberry Swirl Cupcakes – and they were delicious; super sweet and super pretty.
I don’t tend to bake with strawberries so much as I think they can be a little too sweet sometimes and don’t always hold together. I use them more for decoration i.e. plonk a strawberry on top of a cheesecake or souffle and it completely transforms the dessert into a beautiful masterpiece. Raspberries and blueberries however have that zing that works well in a lot of muffins, for example my Giant Raspberry & Chocolate Muffins and Gluten Free Chocolate & Blueberry Muffins. (note the chocolate in both these recipes, I think I have a problem?)
However I feel I have been blind to the potential of strawberries and will be baking with them more often…. I’m thinking strawberry and dark chocolate shortbread cookies next?!
Anyway, my Mom needed to take some baked goods to her church and I was nominated to bake some yummy treats. I ended up baking Strawberry n’ Cream Muffins. I had a pack of cream cheese in the fridge almost out of date…. and boy was I glad I used this as a filling. SO moist (especially from the yogurt) and SO tasty (from the fresh strawberries).
Mom came back empty handed……
Strawberry n’ Cream Muffins (makes around 12)
For the streusel:
60g light brown sugar
60g plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
50g unsalted butter, cold
For the muffins:
115g unsalted butter, softened
100g granulated sugar
50g light brown sugar
120g natural greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
220g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
Around 150-200g of fresh strawberries (I don’t tend to use frozen as the colour runs)
For the cream filling:
150g cream cheese
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
40g granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 220 degrees. Spray your muffin trays with nonstick spray
- Make the streusel: In a small bowl, toss together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter in very small pieces and mix with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs
- Make the muffins: In a medium bowl beat the softened butter until smooth and creamy. Now add the sugars and beat until creamed. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat until the mixture is completely combined.
- In a large bowl, toss together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and slowly mix with a whisk until combined (don’t worry I had a few lumps in my mixture). Finally, fold in the strawberries.
- Make the cream filling: In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add the egg yolk, vanilla extract, and sugar. Beat until combined
- Spoon 1 tablespoon of muffin batter into the muffin cups. Layer with around 1 tablespoon of cream filling, followed by another tablespoon of muffin batter. Sprinkle each muffin with streusel topping and gently press the streusel down into the muffin so it sticks
- Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 220 degrees and then lower the temperature down to 180 degrees and bake for a further 15 minutes
- Allow to cool completely and transfer to wire rack. Be careful as the cream filling makes these muffins very very moist!
- I keep my muffins in the fridge for around 5-10 days, giving them a quick 10 second blast in the microwave. So yummy!