Tag Archives: cooking

Large Raspberry or Chocolate Meringues

Large Raspberry or Chocolate Meringues

It’s bake-off time again at work, and I wanted to make something different to the usual cupcakes that most people roll out every year. It’s taken three attempts to get this meringue recipe right, but I think I’ve finally cracked it! My own recipe but based heavily on The Meringue Girls and Ottolenghi’s techniques. See here for the meringue girls website. And check out their videos in YouTube – they’re really helpful. They are my new girl crush. Both of them! And this article in the guardian is also full of great advice.

6 egg whites
Caster sugar (double the weight of your egg whites)
Dried raspberries
50g fresh raspberries for purée
100g fresh raspberries for decoration
Double cream for sandwiching together

– Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
– Separate the egg whites and weigh them
– Double this figure and weigh out that amount of caster sugar (in my case my eggs weighed 200g so I had 400g sugar)
– Put the egg whites in a food mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk until stuff peaks. I tried this with an electric hand whisk and it’s much harder work, and the results weren’t as light and fluffy. Using a food mixer makes all the difference in the world!
– Line a deep baking tray with grease proof paper and pour in the sugar, spreading evenly over the bottom. Put the tray in the oven.

– Wait until the sugar is hot and the edges are beginning to caramelise.


– Turn down the oven to 80 degrees (or lower If you can) and remove the sugar.
– Turn the food mixer back on and add the sugar a spoon at a time to the mixture, allowing each spoon to incorporate fully. The warm sugar will dissolve more quickly and create a lovely shiny mixture.
– Continue to mix until the meringue is shiny and thick and if you dip your finger in and rub it together with your thumb the mix should be warm and not grainy. It should hold its shape if you take a spoonful and not be runny (otherwise you will get flat meringues like these)

– In the meantime, crush the dried raspberries with a spoon so they are little lumps (not powder), and blitz the 50g of fresh raspberries with a hand blender, then push through a sieve to make a smooth purée.

– Take the bowl off the mixer and gently fold in the dried raspberries.
Spoon generous helpings of the mix onto baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper. I used a serving spoon; choose a spoon that corresponds to the size of the meringues you want to make. I made 18 medium meringues with the intention of sandwiching them together.


– Drizzle over a little purée onto each meringue.

– Then swirl with a cocktail stick (I used a wooden kebab skewer) to mix in slightly. The purée will darken and thicken as it bakes.

-Bake for around two hours. The idea is to slowly dry them. I then turned the oven off and left them in there to go completely cold. If you don’t like them sticky in the middle , bake for longer. When you turn them over they should be crisp on the bottom. No soggy bottoms here.
– Whisk the cream and use it to sandwich the meringues together, using the fresh raspberries as garnish.
– Eat quickly before everyone else gets their hands on them.


– To make chocolate meringues, replace the dried raspberry with 50g of chopped dark chocolate ( and fold it in gently).

– And instead of the raspberry purée, sift a small amount of cocoa over the bowl of meringue, but don’t fold it in.

– Put spoonfuls of the meringue in a baking tray

– and bake as above.


I tried a new version of these chocolate ones today. I added in a tsp of orange essence, made the chocolate more chunky and barely folded it in. I also sifted the cocoa directly over the meringues instead of into the bowl.

The meringues are whiter because the chocolate hasn’t melted so much and mixed in the mixture.

Oh my god, they are amazing! The chocolate is still in chunks (it melted into the mix previously) and you can really taste the Orange. It’s like a Terry’s chocolate orange meringue! I’m going to eat them with the raspberry ice cream I made earlier this week (recipe here).

Spicy Pumpkin Chutney


I had a large pumpkin kicking around from Halloween that didn’t get carved. Casting around for something to do with it (and not being a lover of pumpkin pie), I stumbled across this recipe. I think it’s based in a Nigella recipe.

I had way more pumpkin than they state on the recipe, so I kind of adapted it.

– 2.3kg of pumpkin (after being peeled and seeds removed), chopped into 2cm square cubes
– 4 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
– 3 onions, chopped
– 3 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
– 700g sugar (I used a mix of brown and white because I didn’t have enough brown)
– 100g sultanas (that’s all I had, could do with more)
– 70g fresh ginger, grated
– 2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp chilli powder
– 1 tsp ground cloves (original recipe had more, but I’m not a fan of cloves)
900ml cider vinegar

It’s pretty simple to make. Chop everything up, chuck it all in a pan and simmer until it’s all mushy. This amount took about 90 minutes.

Pack it into sterilised jars (I wash mine in the dishwasher then dry them in the oven at 150 degrees). Push it down to get rid of air bubbles. This amount made nine 1/2lb jars.

As with all chutneys it’s best to leave it for a while to mature. I will try a jar at Christmas (1 month) and see how it’s getting on.

It should be fine kept for about a year unopened. And I keep my chutney in the fridge once it’s opened.







Dutch Apple Pie


Many moons ago my brother owned a cafe in The Lake District.

He’s a particularly friendly chap, and visitors would come in just to chat to him. One year a Dutch couple came in every day of their week long holiday. When they returned home they sent him a special pie tin and a recipe for Dutch apple pie. The pie was a massive hit in the cafe. It was about 3 inches deep and we served it hot with cream or ice cream.

In the mists of time the recipe has been lost, but I made it so many times I half remember how to do it.

My cutie as pie daughter and I picked a load of apples at RHS Wisley the other day, so I decided to have a go at making my own version of the famous pie.

The original pie was really deep amd made with a sweet pastry crust, but feeling a bit lazy, I just bought some jus roll frozen short crust pastry and made it a normal pie size. If you are feeling adventurous make some sweet pastry (pâté sucre?) and use a deep springform tin.

Peel, core and slice some cooking apples. I used about 5, and i wish i had done another one. Over estimate what you think you will need as there is nothing worse than a skinny pie. Chuck them in your chosen pie dish as you slice them if you want to know how many you need. Then add at least one more (they shrink!).

Mix together some sugar and cinnamon (as much or as little as you like). I guess I used a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon.


Put a layer of apples in a bowl and sprinkle over some of the sugar.


Keep on layering like this until all of your apples are used up.


Cover with clingfilm and leave to rest. A couple of hours or ideally overnight. The idea is to let the sugar infuse with the apple and to draw out a lot of the juice.

Get a handful of sultanas (as much or little as you like) and put in a bowl. Pour over some rum or other delicious alcohol. I used cherry brandy this time. Cover with clingfilm and leave overnight.



The next day drain the apple and the sultanas. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Roll out your pastry and fill your pie dish.

Layer in the apples and sultanas. Then top with a pastry crust. On the original version we used thin strands of pasty twisted in a lattice over the top. But this time I just did a normal rolled out top.

Glaze with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Cut two holes in the top for the steam to escape through. Cook at 200 degrees for about half an hour. Reduce to 180 if it looks like the top is catching but you don’t think it’s cooked. Poke a knife through one of the slits in the top to check the apple is cooked.


Serve hot with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream. This will be one of the best apple pies you have ever tasted. I guarantee it. And no soggy bottoms.

Chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting


A quick post to share the delicious cupcakes I just made to celebrate the 9th birthday of my nephew Gordon and 5th birthday of my Niece Farrah.

As they live up North we don’t get to see them that often, so I always try and coincide my visits close to somebody’s birthday. With 2 of my 3 siblings, 6 nieces and nephews and 2
parents all living close to each other, it’s not that difficult!

We’re off to a scarecrow festival at Wray in Lancashire tomorrow (see here), all 13 of us. We’re having a picnic,so I’ve made some cakes to celebrate the birthdays.

I’m at my Mum’s so don’t have access to my massive collection of cookery books, therefore I googled and found some good recipes on the BBC website.

The cupcakes one is here

I used self raising instead of plain flour, omitted the baking powder and added orange zest.

For the frosting I used 280g butter, 500g icing sugar and the juice of one orange. I used some of it and them added a bit more juice about 100g more icing sugar and about 20g of cocoa.

It was great to try out my new icing set from Lakeland. The bag is quite small, but the nozzle I used was great. I’ve never iced cupcakes like this, but I reckon I did ok.

I made decorations by piping melted chocolate. The decorations represent the birthday kids names and ages.

They taste yummy, and I will definitely use this recipe again as the cake is lovely and moist.

Oops one missin



Rhubarb Jam


It’s February! And that can mean only one thing. Yes. Early Rhubarb! That gorgeous, skinny, bright pink stuff that is grown in the dark in the Yorkshire rhubarb triangle between Wakefield, Leeds and Bradford.

Now I love rhubarb, I love the colour, the taste and even the funny stringy texture. And when I saw some in the lovely Priory Farm shop I bought it without knowing what I would do with it. Having just made a load of marmalade my preserving stuff was still hanging around, and I realised I had never made rhubarb jam, so why not give it a try?

Naturally I went straight to Pam Corbin’s River Cottage preserves book and used her recipe. It really is amazing, and I wholeheartedly recommend it as the only preserving book you will ever need.

And naturally I didn’t pay attention and made a bit of a hash of it. But it turned out ok in the end! In fact, I bought some more rhubarb when I saw it in Sainsbury’s, and it turned out perfectly second time around.

I used 500g of rhubarb, about 400g of preserving sugar, juice of 1 orange.
Well in reality I used 1 kg of sugar, but that’s because I’m a fool and thought there was 500g in the packet not 1kg!

It’s pretty simple to do. Just chop the rhubarb into chunks.

And layer with the sugar in a preserving pan (layer of sugar on top and bottom).


Note that this is where I added too much sugar, but I didn’t twig until later.

Pour over the orange juice and leave overnight.

The next day I realised my sugar error and took out half of it and added a bit more juice. Of course being sensible, you don’t have to do this!

Slowly bring it to the boil and give a bit of a stir. Try not to break the rhubarb up too much.

Then rolling boil for about 5 minutes until setting point is reached.

Pop into warm sterilised jars (I put mine in the dishwasher and then in a 150 degree oven to sterilise them), and Bob’s your uncle.

To quote Len from Strictly. Yum yum pigs bum.

I also made some honey preserved rhubarb and some delicious rice pudding this weekend, but more of that later.

Update: I also made some in May with regular rhubarb, and this is what it looks like. Not such a lovely colour, but still yummy.


Cheats Chocolate and Orange Cookies


I love baking, but sometimes even I like to cheat and make something with minimal effort and fuss. And that is where the lovely Iris at Baked By Me comes in. She sells a great range of cookie mixes and fantastic bakeware.

My last week in my current job starts tomorrow, so I thought I would take in some cookies as a treat for my colleagues. Of course I decided this at 8.30pm in Sunday night, so I needed something quick and easy.

I always keep a packet or two of Iris’ cookie mixes in the cupboard. I decided to use the Double Chocolate one, and pimp it up with some orange zest.

After mixing some soft butter and an eg together I tipped in the contents of the mix. The chocolate chips come separately from the rest of the mix, so I put half in the mix, an saved the rest for later. I also grated in the rind of an orange.


A quick mix is all it needs, and then put walnut sized dollops on a baking tray. It’s quite sticky, but I don’t add extra flour as it makes lovely flat and slightly chewy cookies.


Bake for 8-10mins at 180.

When they’re done whip them out and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips.


Eat when cold. If you can wait that long!

A Tale of Two Marmalades


Having stumbled across the Marmalade Awards website (here) which is hosted at Dalemain in my home county of Cumbria, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and to make my own marmalade. Having made jam for over 10 years I figured how hard can it be?

A quick trawl of the Internet and my cookery books showed me that there is not much variation in ingredients, but plenty of variation in methodology.

Thanks to the lovely people in Twitterland advising that farm shops were the best source of Seville oranges, I took a quick trip to Fannys Farm Shop in Merstham to pick up 2 kilos of oranges (and indulge in a delicious scone whilst I was there)!

I also found out that they do a marmalade competition. So now I have two competitions to enter!

The recipe I used was 1kg Seville oranges, 2kg sugar and juice of 1 large lemon. Simples no?

Marmalade Number 1 – Thick Cut

My favourite preserving book is River Cottage Preserves by Pam Corbin (try making the sweet pickled damsons – they look a bit odd, but taste amazing!). So I decided follow her method – principally because it didn’t involve fiddling with bits of muslin!

First I washed and cut the oranges in half (removing the green bit at the top) and squeezed them.



I used a wooden fruit reamer and let the pips fall into a sieve.


Then I chopped up the fruit – peel, pith and all. I guess this would be classed as thick peel.


I added the peel to the juice with 2.5 litres of water and left it to soak overnight.


The next day I boiled it for about an hour and a half until the peel was soft. Then added 2kg of Demerara sugar and the lemon juice, and slowly heated it until the sugar dissolved.


Then heated it to a rolling boil until it reached setting point. This is supposed to be 105 degrees centigrade. Not that I would know as my jam thermometer is rubbish! I use the plate in the freezer approach, and occasional teaspoons of marmalade to test for set.

I filled half my jars and then added 25ml of Amaretto to the rest of the marmalade in the pan. Having tasted it, the amount of Amaretto was too small as the marmalade is very strong tasting so you can’t really taste the Amaretto.

So…..Ta da…. Here is the finished product. It tastes absolutely amazing. Bitter and sweet all at the same time.


Marmalade Number 2 – Thin Cut

Having made some thick cut marmalade I wanted to have a go at competition standard thin cut. According to lots of recipes I could do the same as the thick cut but just shred it finer. But I thought It would be difficult to get the peel very fine so I found a different method, which I will outline below.

This time I peeled the oranges with a potato peeler, leaving as much pith on the orange as possible.


Then I shredded the peel finely (it took forever – I did it in front of TV on Saturday night!).


I then laid a piece of muslin (50cm square, though I would recommend larger) over a bowl and squeezed the oranges into it, dropping the pips and discarded outlets into the muslin.


I put the shredded peel, squeezed juice and 2.5 litres of water into a bowl and added the pith and peel that I had knotted into the muslin.

(That’s actually in the pan, but you get the gist).

I then put a plate over the top to push down the muslin (and keep it under the water), and weighed it down with tins and jars. I left this overnight to soak.


The next day I boiled it for about 90 minutes to soften the peel, and then squeezed the muslin into the pan to get all of the pectin out. Then I added 2kg of white sugar and the lemon juice, heated gently until it was dissolved and then boiled it at a rolling boil.


And this is where something went wrong. For some reason the marmalade never really set, and what I have ended up with is really delicious tasting marmalade syrup!


I’m assuming it was something to do with not extracting enough pectin from the pith, but I’m not 100% sure. Some recipes treat the lemon the same as the oranges. Maybe that would boost the pectin levels. Advice would be most gratefully accepted.

I will let you know how I get in in the competitions. Obviously I will be entering the thick cut version!

Oh and see if you can spot the deliberate mistake on the labels!!