Recipe: Almond Biscuits

plate of amarettiFew of us can resist a biscuit, and after a morning hard at work in the garden (boy, it’s chilly out there) I came in to make a nice cuppa and indulge in a biscuit, but sadly the tin was empty. It seems I have been neglecting the baking this week!

If you need a quick biscuit fix, these definitely fit the bill and they fall into the category of “store cupboard standby” as I always have the ingredients to hand. You can have a batch ready to serve within half an hour of switching on the oven, which is just what I needed today.

I am reluctant to call them Amaretti, the ones I’ve eaten in Italy have a more bitter almond taste to them, At best, these are a soft, chewy version similar to the soft Amaretti Morbidi you sometimes find in Italian restaurants. Crisp and brown on the outside they hold up well to a quick dunk. They are also great to serve with ice cream or as the basis for a trifle.

You can find the recipe here. Best of all they’re naturally gluten and dairy free and low in fat so please most people.

Recipe: Chocolate Brownies

These Brownies take hardly any time at all to make. I usually have the ingredients in the store cupboard, so I can whip up a  batch whenever  we need a sugar / chocolate hit.

These are busy times here at “Todhunter Towers”, lots of exciting changes and news to share … not just yet …. but soon….

Meanwhile, enjoy these Brownies as much as the recipients did.

Chocolate Brownies:

Preheat oven to gas mark 4 (or equivalent)

Melt 100g unsalted butter in a pan Once melted pour into a mixing bowl containing 50g Fairtrade cocoa powder, 50g self raising flour,  250g caster sugar, 10ml of pure vanilla extract  and 2 beaten eggs. Mix until all combined. Pour into a lined, 6 inch square baking tin and bake for approx 30 mins. Leave to cool for 5 mins before turning out onto a cooling rack. They should be soft but not runny in the centre. Cut into squares and store in an airtight tin. For extra “oomph” try adding chocolate chips or chopped nuts just before baking.

PS: This recipe originally came from the Radio Time. About 25 years ago I tore out the recipe, back then it called for 2 oz margarine and 8 oz of sugar – we’ve weaned ourselves off the sugar a bit and only eat “real” butter, but if you don’t find my recipe sweet enough try adding more!

Bake:Goats Cheese Tarts

As promised, here is the recipe for the simple tarts I made last week for my “Girls’ Night In”:


To make 24 you will need

250g plain flour

125g salted butter

Ice cold water to bind

2 logs of soft goats cheese (I use Delamere Dairy, because it’s local and we like it!)

Chopped walnuts


Make the shortcrust pastry. I must admit for things like these quick tarts I use the food processor. Simply pop the flour and butter in the processor, pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, add the ice cold water through the feed tube a few drops at a time until the pastry is combined but not soggy. It’s impossible to give an exact quantity, it depends on the flour you use, the temperature of your kitchen and so many other factors that it’s really down to experience. Knead the pastry quickly on a floured board then put in the fridge to cool and relax.*

Roll out the pastry on a floured board, use a large cutter or glass to cut circles into pastry and use these to line the bun trays. I like to put a paper cake case in each tart and weigh down with lentils or beans, then after 20 minutes resting in the fridge I bake them blind in a hot oven for about 10 minutes (or until the pastry looks dry but not browned).

Remove the paper cases and lentils. Pop slices of cheese in each tart, top with chopped walnuts and bake in a hot oven for about 15 – 20 minutes or until the cheese has just begun to brown.

These will last for a few days in the fridge and freeze well too. Though in our house they rarely make it to a storage tin as Mr T and the Teen will happily gobble them up straight from the oven if I let them!
* There some great baking and pastry tips on BBC’s Get Baking

Quick Bake: Butter Biscuits

A little treat, made for Mr T and the teen this week. 3 simple ingredients which most of us have in the  store cupboard. You can add any flavours you like. I used vanilla, but these taste equally good topped with nuts, chocolate chips or dried cranberries as in the photo.

Simply combine 100g very soft butter with 50g caster sugar and 150g of self raising flour. Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence. Once the mixture forms a ball, roll into 2 “logs” and chill for half an hour (or freeze until needed). Slice into discs approx 5mm wide and place wide apart on a greased baking tray. Bake at gas mark 4, they should be ready in 15 – 20 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling tray. I made these with my brownies last week and they thought they were fab!

Hope you enjoy them – this batch made 24 – which should last the family a day or two!

Home Made Naan Breads

Mr T is working in Scotland at the moment, so Friday  nights we celebrate his homecoming with lamb curry and naan bread. These are  easy to make, so I’m sharing the recipe with you so you can impress your friends – and wow your kids – they love watching the breads puff up like magic!

Note: I make these in my bread maker, but you can just as easily do them by hand


1/2 tsp yeast (suitable  for bread makers)

250 g strong white flour

50 g wholemeal bread flour

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

15 g butter

2 tbs natural yoghurt

100 ml water


Lightly whisk the yoghurt into the water, put all the dry ingredients in the bread maker and add the water  mix, followed by a knob of butter.

Use the dough setting and allow the bread maker to do it’s work.

Take the dough out of the bread maker, put it in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or cling wrap. Leave to prove for an hour or two (Or, you can do as I do and make the dough the day before and put the dough in the fridge over night).

When you are ready to cook your breads, set the oven to its highest setting – and do the same with your grill – both need to be HOT. Put a baking tray in the oven. Break off pieces of dough, the size doesn’t matter, it’s personal taste how big or small you like your naan breads to be. 

Take the baking tray out of the oven, place the flat breads on the tray and return to the oven for about 5 minutes or until they have puffed up. Then move the tray to the grill to brown the breads and serve straight away.

You can flavour your naan breads before rolling out, just knead your choice of flavourings into the dough. In our house we like to add plenty of garlic and coriander.  Served cold, these taste great dipped into home made hummous.

Bake Wrecks

Have you ever seen the website “Cake Wrecks”, you really should take a look, if you are familiar with the site, you’ll understand the meaning behind today’s blog post title in a moment.

Anyway, how was your weekend? I hope you managed to enjoy some of life’s simple pleasures. We spent ours taking life slowly, friends dropped by for lunch on Saturday and on Sunday we nipped up to my pal W’s house for bacon butties. If you ever head over to Delamere Forest,  you should stop by. She does the most amazing bacon sandwiches and even more stupendous scones (I didn’t try one, but a lady on the table beside us ordered one and I had serious scone envy).

We visited W to “scrump” her redcurrant bushes, she has what can only be described as a glut, and I was more than  happy to take some off her hands. I spent the afternoon stripping berres and preparing to make redcurrant vodka, redcurrant jelly (more of those another day) and some of my favourite red berry cordial – think Ribena – but pinker!

I carefully measured out the juice, weighed the sugar and added it to the boiling liquid, poured it straight into bottles and popped off to my friend A’s for tea and a natter.

When I came back from my walk I thought a glass of cordial would be just the thing to cool off…

Oh dear … A clear case of not paying attention in the kitchen. You’ll be pleased to hear a rescue operation was mounted and I now have 6 more jars of redcurrant jelly than I was expecting. If you visit in the next couple of months, expect to go home with a jar or two. And if you feel so inclined, the cordial recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.

Whatever you’re up to, have a good week – and remember – nobody’s perfect!


Redcurrant Cordial


Redcrrants, water, granulated sugar.

Useful things: A large pan, , a large piece of muslin, a  funnel and a jug.


First of all you need make up a batch of berry juice. Do this by putting the berries (it doesn’t really matter if there are a few stalks) into a large pan and add half the volume of water to berries (eg if you have 500g of berries add 250 ml of water). Allow to come to the boil slowly, then simmer gently for 20 – 30 minutes until the berries have burst and released all their juice.

Strain the berry juice through a piece of muslin or use a jelly bag suspended over a bowl. I use a steamer lined with muslin placed over a deep saucepan. Leave the juice to drip for at least 3 hours, I leave mine overnight, just put a cover on to keep off the flies and ignore until morning. Don’t be tempted to squeeze or force the juice through as this will make the resulting jellies or cordials cloudy.

Next you’ll need to measure out your juice (carefully) and add 300g of sugar for every 500ml of cold juice. Warm gently in a pan over a low heat until all the sugar is dissolved and pour immediately into sterilised bottles. The cordial will keep for up to 3 months in a cold place (I keep mine in the fridge). Dilute with tap water or sparkling water and serve over ice. Delicious.

If you are new to preserving, I highly recommend you buy or borrow a good book on the subject. My favourite is many years old and out of print, but I’m also a big fan of the River Cottage Book of Preserving, which has some great recipes and lots of useful tips.

Recipe: Rhubarb and Custard Muffins

This recipe is given to you by request of L, who kindly voted for my blog, but said “It needs more baking”. He’s right, the blog has been a bit short on recipes lately. This mainly because “The Teen” has taken over kitchen duties and she’s not so keen to share her recipes with me – or you!

The origin of this recipe is BBC Good Food (most of my inspiration either comes form there or Nigella, if they don’t give me what I need then I tend to make something up). However, I did make a few changes, mainly as it was such a nice day and I didn’t have all the ingredients. I decided to “wing it”, the result was quite delicious. I’m sorry, you’ll have to take my word for it, my camera has had a major fail and neither Hubby nor “The Teen” are home to help me out. If you make these, send me a pic and I’ll post it here.

Enjoy the sunny weekend.


Recipe: Rhubarb and Custard Muffins

250g stewed rhubarb (put the chopped rhubarb in a large pan, cover with water, add sugar to taste, about 75g works for me and simmer until soft. Drain off the juices before adding to the muffin mix.

150g soft brown sugar

75ml light sunflower oil

1 egg

Zest of an orange

250ml crème fraiche

300g self raising flour

8 tablespoons of Co-op ready made “fresh” custard (I suppose you could use your favourite brand, but that’s what I had in the fridge).


Set your oven gas 4.

Line a 12-hole muffin tin with  large muffin paper cases.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, oil, egg, orange zest and crème fraiche until there are no lumps and all are well mixed. Gently fold in the flour and add the rhubarb.

  1. Fill each muffin case to half way with the mixture, then  press in the centre of each muffin with a dessert spoon to make a dip. Fill each dip with a small blob of chilled custard, then gently smooth the rest of the muffin mix over the custard.*
  2. Sprinkle each muffin with a little more soft brown sugar to give a crunchy topping.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until risen and  pale golden in colour.

*The custard will ooze a little, so be careful not to overfill your muffin cases.

These muffins are best eaten warm, not straight from the oven. Alternatively allow to cool and serve chilled.

Sour Cherry Scones

This is a recipe for Sour Cherry Scones, inspired  by a recipe shared in my pilates class,you’ll have to take my word for how delicious they are, because the washed out photos don’t do them justice.

Apparently, sour cherries are not so great in home made fudge (which is the recipe on the back of the packet), but R says they are much better in a scone. R told us all about his baking of these scones during a Friday morning class and I just had to try them – he’s right – they are delicious.

So here you are –  my version – a little something for your weekend.


Sour Cherry Scones


1 bag dried sour cherries (I used Ocean Spray found in the supermarket)

200g plain flour

50g butter

1 tablespon of baking powder

a pinch of salt

1/4 pint of milk


Tip the flour, butter, salt and baking powder in a food processor and blend for 5 seconds. Add the milk and blend on a medium speed until the mixture forms a ball. Add the sour cherries and pulse gently until they are distributed through the mixture (or remove the mixture and knead in gently if you want to keep the fruit whole).

Take out of the food processor, roll into a thick, short cylinder on a floured board, cut into slices at least an inch thick.

Place on a baking tray, brush the tops with a mixture of milk and beaten egg and bake in a hot oven* (gas mark 7) for about 15 minutes.

If the scones look like they’re burning, turn the heat down for the last 5 minutes or so.

* My oven is wonderful, but cooks on the cooler side, use your judgement and if you know you need to adjust the temperature then do so.

We enjoyed these sitting in the garden over the Easter weekend, well  when I say “we”, I mean my lovely friend J and I who enjoyed an indulgent day while the menfolk hit the fells!! Needless to say, there were no leftovers for their return. We are consummate professionals when it comes to scones.

So, thanks to R for this week’s recipe – and thanks for always getting my weekend off to such a great start.

Recipe: Chocolate and Blueberry Muffins

You might have thought I’ve been neglecting my baking. Not so, it’s just I haven’t had anything new to share with you. This week I just felt the need for chocolate, but not a cake or a cookie. So I “embellished” my blueberry muffin recipe with a handful of chocolate chunks. It tasted better than it sounds, try it. You might be surprised…

Sunday Baking: Blueberry Muffins

On cold wintry, Sunday afternoons I like to bake. These muffins are a family favourite.   You can substitute the blueberries for other soft fruit, but in our house, blueberries are the most popular, although home grown rasberries come into favour in the autumn. You can use fresh or frozen.


50g unsalted butter (melted and allowed to cool slightly)

200g plain flour

2 tablespoons of baking powder

50g soft brown sugar

100g natural yoghurt

100ml milk

2 eggs (Ours are free range and mixed sizes, I tend to go for the medium sized ones – occasionally we get a double yolker – it doesn’t seem to affect the results!)

A pinch of salt

100g blueberries


Sift the flour, salt and baking powder, add the sugar and combine gently. Put the milk, yoghurt, butter and eggs in a jug and beat until combined. Fold into the dry ingredients, the batter should be lumpy, not smooth like a sponge cake. Add the blueberries and divide the mixture between 12 large bun cases.

Bake at Gas mark 6 for about 20 minutes (depending on your oven). I know it’s hard, but let them cool a little before you attempt to eat them. If you  have better self control than us, you can store them for a couple of days in an airtight tin. Best served with a mug of tea (made in the pot) in front of a log fire with the new series of Time Team on TV!!

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