Tea Towel Furoshiki An Eco Friendly way to Gift Wrap for Christmas

This publish become added to you in partnership with SpoonflowerI love to provide handmade at Christmas, however the reality is except you begin your gift making early, it’s clean to run out of time as soon as December rolls round.I’ve got the best answer for a completely unique hand-crafted present which is great practical too – TEA TOWELS!these aren’t your simple

aren’t your simple vintage uninteresting tea towels although, they are like mini works of artwork. With Spoonflower you may order fabric to be revealed together with your choice of designs from hundreds of indie designers or you can even create a layout yourself. It doesn’t take long to hem the
home made gift.but tea towels aren’t just beneficial for washing up, I’ve framed a few truly pretty ones to hang on my wall, and they make remarkable eco pleasant wrapping too.inspired with the aid of Furishiki, jap fabric wrapping, I’ve hemmed up a group of tea towels and used them to wrap some small presents. It’s doubling up
the pleasure with zero gift wrapping rubbish to throw away.I chose 6 designs that felt festive and summery with a retro twist. every layout is printed on a fats region of Linen Cotton Canvas ultra fabric.From Left to proper – top Row: 2021 in the Kitchen Calendar through Ottomanbrim, Themos Teatowel through Andrea Lauren, Rabbits by way of lizmytinger. backside Row: Kitchen buddies via Anda, Crustaceans tea towel by
lizmytinger. backside Row: Kitchen buddies via Anda, Crustaceans tea towel by way of Andrea Lauren, Swedish Pancakes through maja_a.i will’t pick just one favorite, however I’m quite enamored with the seafood teatowel, and the Kitchen pals calendar.the way to make a Tea TowelYou will want:1 fats zone of Linen Cotton Canvas extremely fabric (or alternative).Scissors or Rotary Cutter, Ruler and
Ruler and reducing matIronSewing machineDenim needle (optionally available)Rolled hem foot (non-obligatory)Matching sewing threadGeneral stitching suppliesHow to:1. Order a tea towel fats area design from Spoonflower and wait patiently for it to reach. instead you could use a material out of your stash (cotton drill is a superb choice).2. If the tea towel can be for personal use, supply it a wash. in case you are making for a present,
it a wash. in case you are making for a present, you can need to pass this step as a few darker designs can fade barely. as soon as dry deliver it a terrific press.three. square off the rims with a rotary cutter and ruler. eco friendly gifts, you can additionally use scissors.four. Use your Rolled hem stitching gadget foot to make a narrow rolled hem at the lengthy aspects of
hem stitching gadget foot to make a narrow rolled hem at the lengthy aspects of the tea towel. The small hem requires much less fabric so your tea towel doesn’t come to be too slender.Tip: i discovered the Linen Cotton Canvas ultra material pretty robust and a bit difficult to sew as soon as there were a few layers. A denim needle helped pierce all of the fabric cleanly.5. Press a

layers. A denim needle helped pierce all of the fabric cleanly.5. Press a double fold hem at the top and backside of the tea towel (short facets). about 1cm ought to be best. stitch down and press to finish.Now you’ve made a Tea Towel!Tea Towel Furoshiki – An Eco pleasant way to gift Wrap for ChristmasNow comes the fun element, the usage of the gift you’ve simply made to wrap any
fun element, the usage of the gift you’ve simply made to wrap any other present. It’s like gift giving inception. mind Blown!conventional furoshiki cloths are big, square and made from pretty thin material, which makes them very adaptable to wrap and carry nearly anything. With a tea towel you are more limited with wrapping patterns, however with the assist of some yarn, string and twine, I’ve
assist of some yarn, string and twine, I’ve managed to wrap six small items in specific and interesting methods.check this Furoshiki Wrapping manual PDF by means of the japanese Ministry of the environment.right here are the gifts I’ve wrapped, can you select which is which?I’ve come up with my own wrapping styles, to first-class fit every gift and fabric layout.Bon Bon WrapPerfect for cylindrical presents and a completely festive manner to wrap a Christmas present.simply
fabric layout.Bon Bon WrapPerfect for cylindrical presents and a completely festive manner to wrap a Christmas present.simply region the object on one in every of the quick sides, roll up and tie off every end with a ribbon.Wine Bottle WrapStand your bottle up in the center of the tea towel and pull up the edges to accumulate across the neck of the bottle.
the neck of the bottle. Fasten with a ribbon or cord.Envelope WrapPerfect for a e-book, small dish, or any flat rectangular item.area the item on considered one of the fast edges and fold inside the lengthy facets. Roll up and tie with a wire to lock. I’ve used my handmade candy cane material cord.Envelope
however location the object diagonally in a single corner.container WrapPerfect for small packing containers or tins.location field in center of tea towel with the instantly sides of the field aligned to the corners of the material. firstly pull up cloth on 2 contrary corners and tuck in over container, then tie
field you must have sufficient cloth to make a knot. Use a ribbon, rubber band or string to lock the corners if wrapping a larger box. I’ve delivered pom poms for added fun instances!i hope I’ve stimulated you to make your very own particular tea towels and use them as

10 Things Every City Needs

What makes an urban centre genuinely exceptional? take a look at out my list of 10 things every city needs under to discover!10. Pedestrian friendly Public areasSidewalk patios and pedestrian simplest streets and buying centres are superb additions to any city locale.  They permit us to enjoy the outdoors, go to local businesses without problems, and gather with our buddies.9. Arts & way

of each urban centre is a colourful arts and tradition scene.  this will take many bureaucracy, both in solid cultural hubs such as public libraries, museums, and galleries, but also inside the diverse events that the city places on, or that participants of the network create.  these occasions offer a discussion board to explicit creativity and precise ideas, they permit humans to meet and mingle, and they
also have a good time all of the one of a kind cultural agencies in the network, making the metropolis energetic and welcoming!8. network Gardens & neighborhood Agriculturenetwork gardens advantage us in a variety of ways.  They provide nearby, convenient and coffee-fee meals for the neighbourhood, strengthens bonds among network contributors, and presents a healthful distraction from bustling
to get together and share their testimonies and knowledge with one another.  moreover, nearby agriculture brings external meals systems again into the coronary heart of the town, and gives opportunity land makes use of, further enhancing the cityscape.7. motorbike & Pedestrian Infrastructuremultiplied bike and pedestrian infrastructure are an crucial a part of any suitable city network.  First, they
that can relieve the already overladen avenue and subway structures that we’ve got nowadays.  biking or taking walks is also suitable for our health, and not being locked in a car increases our likelihood of interacting with our neighbours and traveling local agencies, growing a experience of network and bolstering nearby economy.  And most
our own safety, because the 21 pedestrian deaths and three bicycle owner deaths on Toronto streets in this summer time alone have proved.6. community Centres/meeting placesregularly unnoticed, community centres offer outreach for low-profits and newcomer businesses while setting up sturdy community ties.  additionally they provide precise programming for sports, arts, way of life and extra.  community centres additionally represent a socializing enjoy for the aged and different demographics that may not in any
demographics that may not in any other case exist.  they’re hubs for civic engagement and community engagement, and a amazing area to find out local information and organizations.five. inexperienced areasimilarly to network gardens, towns want parks and committed green spaces for exercise and relaxation.  Urbanites be afflicted by a loss of exposure to nature, which damages no longer most effective our physical fitness but our intellectual well being as properly.  Of

being as properly.  Of path, green spaces come in all shapes and sizes: conservation regions, parks and parkettes, courtyards, inexperienced roofs and more.  the flexibility of greenery makes inexperienced area a surprisingly underrated thing of urban existence, one which could easily be progressed.four. reliable Transit systemTransit is literally what continues a city moving. 
errands, the charge, comfort and efficiency of public transportation consequences us all.  whilst a metropolis’s transit systems stops, the city cannot function.three. properly Balanced Neighbourhood improvementmixed-use urban improvement slows expansion and creates greater habitable neighbourhoods.  these small microcosms offer area for living, running, and buying multi function.  This creates greater walkable groups (like discussed above!).  A well
age and tradition, to support residents in all degrees of her existence.2. devoted network Leadersnetwork leaders that interact with their ingredients are much more likely to be privy to particular neighborhood issues and wishes.  without devoted leaders to symbolize each neighbourhood’s person needs in city council and different boards misaligned city planning will result.  A grass-roots method to growing neighbourhoods around their population, preserving nearby background while planning
planning for the destiny will provide lots better outcomes than simply catering to the buzzwords of the time.1. Engaged citizensWhy are engaged citizens #1 on this list? because with out them, the entirety else is meaningless.  you can have incredible infrastructure, public areas, and all the services you need, however it doesn’t mean a lot if no person’s the use of it.  For each metropolis to characteristic and cater to the wishes of its
and cater to the wishes of its human beings, the ones human beings need to be engaged and concerned.  They want to apprehend what’s taking place in their city, realize what assets are available to them, and be a part of the choice making procedure! And what takes place after they do is something awesome.Did I cowl the whole thing for your list?  when you have some
other ideas, allow me recognize within the comments!function photo courtesy of Peter Morgan. percentage this:click on to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)click to share on fb (Opens in new window)click on to percentage on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)click to proportion on Tumblr (Opens in new window)click on
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Mincemeat puff pastry swirls | The Proof of the Pudding


I am really pleased with this new recipe. It’s going to be my festive go-to recipe for whipping up a last minute sweet treat from now on. Basically, it’s a mince pie in disguise, and one that is even easier to make and store (which is really saying something, since mince pies aren’t exactly the trickiest kitchen task and don’t take up an awfully lot of room in the freezer). This mincemeat-packed pastry is the most efficient use of freezer space and can be put together in a matter of minutes. I used shop-bought puff pastry for this recipe because it’s all about convenience, but if you have time on your hands you can always make yours from scratch.

If you’re organised and already have homemade mincemeat ready to use then it will be perfect in this recipe. If not, then you can buy lovely mincemeat in the supermarkets, and we’ll perk it up with some orange zest, fresh pear and obligatory Christmas spirit anyway.

Ingredients (makes 24 pastries) 300g mincemeat 1 orange Splash of brandy 2 ripe pears 1 lemon

500g all-butter puff pastry

Mango ice-cream with raspberry ripple | The Proof of the Pudding


Happy New Year from Proof of the Pudding! Or is it bad form to wish you that when January is already nearly over? January can be a hard month, especially where I live as we know there are still a couple of months of dark mornings and evenings to get through, and if we’re to get a bad snow storm this year then it’s yet to come (EDIT: I spoke to soon, it seems this weekend is our first of the season). Sometimes you feel ready to jump into January with gusto: stocking up the cupboards, fridge and fruit bowl with healthy foods, pulling on your gym gear to work off that Christmas dinner and diving back into work at 9am on Monday morning, to-do list at the ready. But sometimes it takes a few sluggish days, or even weeks, to get back into a routine and not want to rush home every evening and immediately get your pyjamas on. However your January started, I hope it’s ending well. Let’s all look forward to February and longer days and Pancake Tuesday!

Now I’m not going to try and pretend that this is in any way a healthy recipe (see double cream and sugar), but it’s certainly refreshing and might be a welcome change from all that trifle and chocolate and Christmas pudding. This is also a satisfyingly straightforward ice-cream recipe which doesn’t require you to have an ice-cream maker (although if you do then by all means use it). The freeze-blend-freeze method ensures that the ice crystals are broken up and gives a smooth texture. Make sure you buy very ripe mangos for this recipe, for both texture and flavour. The squishier the better really. In particular, if you can find alphonso mangos these have an incredible, sweet flavour.

One year ago:
– Minestrone soup
– Courgette antipasto rolls

Ingredients 3 large ripe mangos (approximately 1kg) 300ml double cream 100g caster sugar ¼ tsp vanilla extract (optional)

50g frozen raspberries, defrosted

Beef shin and mushroom casserole | The Proof of the Pudding


Happy New Year gorgeous readers! I hope your festive break was filled to the brim with your favourite people, your favourite food and drink, and your favourite films, music, books and games. I know mine certainly was, and so much more. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much. You know that kind of laughter that makes your stomach and throat hurt and your breathing difficult? Yeah, that.

And so now it is January. The fruit bowl has been piled high, the vegetable drawer in the fridge is stuffed full and gym memberships have been renewed with gusto. I have just discovered Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga and what a revelation it is. I had forgotten how amazing just a short yoga practice every day is, plus there is the bonus that Adriene is an absolute babe. Serious babe crush going on.

But on the other hand, we are still in the depths of winter. The days may be getting gradually longer, but it really doesn’t feel like it right now. So let’s all agree that we still need some comfort food every now and then, yeah? We can stick to stir-fry and steamed vegetables and baked fish during the week, but on a Sunday night let’s snuggle up together on the sofa, wearing our comfiest pyjamas, with steaming bowls of stew and glasses of red wine. Cheers to that.

Ingredients (serves 2-3) 1 generous tbsp dried ceps (aka porcini mushrooms) 2 small onions, finely chopped 1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped 2-3 small carrots, cut into chunky wedges 2 medium parsnips (or in my case, one daddy, one mummy and one baby parsnip), cut into chunky wedges 350g beef shin 180g mushrooms, either cup or button Large glass of red wine 2 bay leaves 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Spiced pumpkin muffins with cream cheese frosting | The Proof of the Pudding


GUYS GUYS GUYS. IT’S ONE WEEK TIL CHRISTMAS. One week until we can stuff our faces with turkey and bacon and mince pies (though it would be totally legitimate to have started this already…), rip open beautifully wrapped presents, throw back ill-advised quantities of champagne and sherry and then cry at the last ever episode of Downton. *Sob* (WARNING: to those who know me personally, I won’t be watching this until Boxing Day so approach me with spoilers on pain of horrific death). Below, in the “One year ago” section, are some appropriately festive recipes, but for now let’s celebrate a wonderful product of the season: the pumpkin. Pumpkins are for life, not just Halloween, so make the most of their time in the shops and do some alternative Christmas baking. I’ve posted a few pumpkin recipes in the past (spiced pumpkin soup with toasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie with maple cream), so there are plenty to chose from if you really get into the pumpkin-y swing of things. The recipe for these delicately spiced and deliciously moist muffins is based onthis recipe from BBC Good Food, with just a few tweaks to quantities, spices and method. It’s very similar to a carrot cake batter, and in fact if you’re really averse to the pumpkin idea then you could do a substitution, though I encourage you to give this recipe a try as is.

While we’re on the subject, let’s clear something up: yes, “Halloween pumpkins” sold in the supermarkets are edible! Although grown specifically for carving, resulting in quite tough skin and possibly a more watery flesh and milder flavour, they are perfectly suitable for human consumption. I’ve used “Halloween pumpkins” in this recipe before and it worked like a dream, but you can get lots of different varieties of smaller pumpkins so if you see them in your local shop then give one a go (I used an Onion squash, also known as a Red Kuri squash, for this batch). You could also use butternut squash if pumpkins aren’t available.

One year ago:
– Mincemeat puff pastry swirls
– Sea salt and brandy truffles

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins) 250g coarsely grated pumpkin flesh (approx. 1 small pumpkin) 3 large eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract 175ml sunflower oil 175g soft light brown sugar 80g sultanas Zest of 1 orange 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp mixed spice ½ tsp ground ginger 200g self-raising flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

polenta | The Proof of the Pudding


Happy Birthday to me! Well, not me really, but my wee blog is turning two. How time flies. While I celebrate with a large wedge of cake (more on that in a second), let me extend a heart-felt thank you to everybody who visits my little piece of the internet. Thank you to my friends and family who still show enthusiasm for new posts, to old friends who have messaged to tell me how much they enjoyed a particular recipe, to strangers on the other side of the world who share their thoughts, and to my other half who puts up with me insisting on taking 20 pictures of our plates before he can start his dinner (although, he does get to eat all these recipes, so it’s not exactly a terrible deal…).

This week’s recipe was inspired by two different people. The first was a lovely friend who came for dinner last Wednesday and who can’t eat gluten (like, seriously, not just one of these “oh eating a loaf of bread makes me bloated”…tell me something I don’t know); so I needed a completely gluten-free pudding. To me this shouldn’t be a prerequisite to a pudding that isn’t sweet and squidgy and indulgent. Or, more importantly, it shouldn’t mean no cake.

In my quest to find a great gluten-free cake recipe I came across an old folder with an assortment of allergy-friendly baking recipes. Years ago, just after I left high school, I worked with a guy, Paul, who had severe allergies not only to gluten, but also eggs, nuts and legumes. Yup. I’m pretty sure he lived off potatoes, meat and cheese. Although, on second thoughts, that doesn’t sound too bad… Anyway, an allergy to gluten, eggs and nuts makes for an incredibly tricky baking challenge. This folder I found was a collection of various recipes, which (if memory serves correctly) I amalgamated into a few Paul-friendly bakes so that he could get in on the afternoon treats that everyone else in the office got to indulge in. Of course, poor Paul couldn’t have actually eaten this particular recipe because of the eggs and nuts, but in that folder I found a gluten-free lemon cake recipe (I have no idea where I copied it down from I’m afraid!) which used polenta and ground almonds instead of flour. I’ve changed up the lemons for oranges, since it is the season for juicy, sweet oranges and I seem to be developing a theme of orange-flavoured recipes on birthday blogs. I tweaked a few other parts of the recipe and added an orange drizzle topping. This cake is gorgeous: it’s super moist, strong with orange and has a satisfying sugary crunch on top. In fact, there is no reason to save this recipe just for coeliacs, so don’t be put off by the gluten-free billing: everyone deserves a slice of this action!

One year ago:
– Orange and milk-chocolate celebration cakes

Two years ago:
– No-knead cardamom and cinnamon buns

Ingredients 250g butter, softened plus a little extra to grease the cake tin 250g vanilla sugar* or caster sugar 3 large eggs 100g polenta 250g ground almonds 1 tsp baking powder 2 oranges

60g icing sugar

Meatloaf | The Proof of the Pudding


It’s officially autumn. October has arrived, bringing with it darker mornings, clock changes, early Halloween decorations and the need for extra layering and a big, cosy scarf. We can complain about the weather and the darker mornings, but in the world of food there’s a lot to celebrate. Apples, figs, plums, pears, pomegranate, carrots, brussel sprouts, kale, leeks, parsnips and much more are in season and I’m hoping to pack in as many recipes as possible involving seasonal produce over the next few months. I’ve already planned some recipes involving apples, plums and carrots which I’ll post soon, but there will be plenty more to come.

Dreary weather and dark nights are also a perfect excuse for good old-fashioned comfort food. Again, I have a few recipes in mind to share with you, but we’ll kick things off with an absolute classic: meatloaf. I had never made meatloaf before, but after constant (unsubtle) hints from my other half (who never stops talking about his Grandmother’s meatloaf) I caved. I used this recipe from BBC Good Food, adding some extra ingredients for even more flavour like apple, mustard and thyme. Reviews after eating concluded that it was “very nearly as good as Grandma’s”, so I guess I’ll take that as a success…

Ingredients (cuts into 8-10 slices) 2 slices stale white bread 1 onion 1 garlic clove 1 apple Small bunch of parsley 500g pork mince 1 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp dried thyme 1 tbsp Dijon mustard 4 tbsp grated parmesan 1 egg

8-10 slices of serrano ham or prosciutto

Rhubarb curd | The Proof of the Pudding


Spring has finally arrived in Scotland! Easter weekend passed and suddenly the evenings seem longer, the temperature milder and the sun has been gracing us with its presence for weeks now. Despite the warning of a drop in temperature, and more than a drop of rain, this weekend the season has undoubtable changed and brought with it a new crop of spring produce. Every spring my mum makes a batch of lemon curd (you can find the recipe here) and seeing ruby red stalks of seasonal rhubarb inspired me to try a new twist on the recipe. I can reveal the results of this experiment now: superb.

Luckily my local gardener (dad) has a bumper harvest of both regular and forced rhubarb right now. I decided to go for the regular rhubarb for this recipe, purely based on aesthetics – I wanted a curd with a gorgeous pink colour. The initial juice from the rhubarb is an almost shocking pink, but when mixed with the butter and eggs it turns a more pastel shade. Very spring-appropriate, I think. If you have extra rhubarb and want to make something that retains the vivid pink then you can cook up the excess juice into rhubarb syrup for drinks. I’ll post a recipe in the next few days!

Ingredients (makes 1 medium-sized jar) 400g rhubarb (for leftover juice for rhubarb syrup increase to 700g) 100g butter 150g granulated sugar

3 eggs, well beaten

cinnamon | The Proof of the Pudding


This was a bit of an experimental recipe, which turned out to be absolutely gorgeous (forgive me if I blow my own trumpet on this one, but it really was a scrumptious cake: light, moist, rich, sweet and spicy). Obviously the idea comes from a pineapple upside-down cake, which has become to be regarded as somewhat of a retro cake that would fit in at a 70s themed dinner party along with prawn cocktail, cheese fondue and duck a l’orange. Now I don’t mind telling you: that sounds like a great menu to me, “retro” or not. With plums still in season they seemed like the obvious fruit choice, and they work well with festive spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. A simple vanilla sponge cake recipe made using the all-in-one method was all that was needed to top (or bottom, depending on which way round you look at it…) the fruit.

I do have a confession to make about the execution of this recipe, which will demonstrate how things in my kitchen don’t always go so smoothly (as if you needed that after mayonnaise-gate). The oven was at temperature, the cake was layered in the tin and I popped it into the oven with great anticipation. Less than five minutes later acrid black smoke was billowing from the oven as a little of the sugar and butter mixture (and presumably some juice from the plums) oozed out the bottom of the cake tin and hit the hot oven floor. At the speed of lightning I whipped the tin out, onto a baking tray and back into the oven, to prevent it getting worse. Luckily, neither the opening of the oven door at the start of baking or the smoke seemed to affect the quality of the cake in the end. SO, if anyone has any bright ideas about how to prevent this from happening do leave a comment below! For now, my advice would be to put the cake tin on a baking tray from the start or perhaps to use a cake tin that doesn’t have a loose bottom (though in this case I would grease the tin extremely well as it may be more difficult to turn out).

Ingredients 50g softened butter, plus extra for greasing 50g light soft brown sugar ½ tsp ground cinnamon ½ fresh nutmeg, grated 1 tsp vanilla extract

6-8 ripe plums

200g softened butter 200g caster sugar 200g pain flour 4 tsp baking powder 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method 1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease a 21-23cm cake tin generously with butter. 2. Cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla until smooth and well combined.

This recipe comes from my very lovely Auntie Rosie. My mum has had a hand-written copy tucked away in a folder for years, and it’s really the only go-to carrot cake recipe that you need. It’s very lightly spiced with cinnamon and comes out the oven dense, but deliciously moist thanks to the carrots and apples. A light, fluffy Victoria sponge can be absolute perfection, but sometimes your cravings call for a richer cake, one with the caramel flavour of brown sugar, the softness of cooked fruits and vegetables and small bursts of fudgy raisins throughout. The sourness of the icing on top helps to balance the sweet sponge. It’s a simple cream cheese affair, flavoured with lemon juice and, my own personal addition, orange zest.

Ingredients 115g butter 2 tbsp olive oil 250g carrots, peeled and grated 2 apples, peeled and grated 170g soft brown sugar 2 eggs 200g flour 7 tsp baking powder 1 tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp salt 115g raisins

3 tbsp milk

60g icing sugar 250g cream cheese 1 tbsp lemon juice

Zest of 1 orange

Method 1. Preheat the oven to 160C fan/180C/Gas Mark 4 and grease a 20cm cake tin with a little butter. 2. Melt the butter and mix with the olive oil.

3. Mix the fats with the sugar, eggs, and grated carrots and apples.

4. Sieve the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt) and fold into the wet mix.


5. Add the milk and raisins to the cake mixture and stir well.

6. Spoon the cake mixture into the cake tin and bake for about an hour until a skewer comes out the middle of the cake clean.

7. Turn the cake out and leave to cool while you make the icing.

8. To make the icing simply beat together the icing sugar, cream cheese, lemon juice and orange zest. Keep in the fridge until you are ready to ice the cake.

9. Once the sponge is completely cool, spoon the cream cheese frosting onto the cake and spread evenly. Leave like this, or decorate in whatever way takes your fancy: I dotted some orange food colouring gel around the top of the cake and then used a skewer to swirl it through the icing.

This carrot cake doesn’t need any extras, like cream, on the side whether it’s served up mid-afternoon or for pudding. All you need is a generous wedge of cake, and perhaps a cup of tea.

Thanks for the fabulous recipe Auntie Rosie! x


The days are getting a little shorter, the temperature has dropped a noticeable few degrees and a few tell-tale leaves are already turning brown. It’s all pointing to the inevitable fact that Autumn is creeping up on us. Perhaps we still have a few more warm September days to come, but if not we have lots to look forward to: cold mornings with hot porridge, crisp afternoons with a bowl of soup or a steaming mug of hot chocolate and evenings wrapped in a blanket while tucking in to a hearty stew or a slice of pumpkin pie. Although eating apples aren’t quite ripe yet, the cooking apple tree at my grandparents’ house was laden with a huge crop of fruit. At the weekend we helped strip the tree bare, ending up with buckets and boxes and bags of cooking apples. A traditional apple pie made with short crust pastry is a beautiful thing, but here is something just a little bit different – miniature individual apples pies made with puff pastry.

I’ve been planning to share a recipe for puff pastry with you for a while now, and pastry week on Great British Bake Off seemed like the perfect timing. Puff pastry is a scary beast for most people, and we always hear chefs telling us not to bother making it from scratch, but to buy the ready-made pastry available in the shops. Now there’s nothing wrong with using shop-bought puff pastry – it’s relatively cheap, easy to store and use and cuts down cooking by a reasonable amount of time – and I often do so. However, “rough puff pastry” is actually very, even surprisingly, straightforward to make. Granted, “proper puff pastry” is a little more complicated, but this quicker version below produces beautifully light, flaky, buttery pastry.

Ingredients (makes 12 individual pies) 190g flour Pinch of salt 125g chilled butter, cut into cubes 100ml iced water 400g cooking apples (about 4 small apples) 2 tbsp sugar 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten

Method 1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan/200C/Gas Mark 6 and lightly butter a 12-hole muffin tin. 2. Add the butter to the flour and salt and mix to coat.

3. Add 10 tbsp of the iced water, stirring with a knife to roughly combine. Add a little extra water if the mixture seems much too dry, but don’t worry that the mixture doesn’t come together completely – you need to be able to gather the mixture together with your hands, but you don’t want it to be wet.

4. Flour a surface and tip the pastry out, forming into a rough rectangle with your hands.

5. Gently roll the rectangle longer. Again, don’t be scared if the mixture cracks a little at this point, it will become smooth soon.

6. Fold the top third down on itself, and the bottom third up over this.

7. Turn the pastry 90 degrees and repeat this process of rolling and folding. Repeat a total of 4 or 5 times, until you have a lovely smooth block of pastry. Wrap in cling film and put in the freezer for 15 minutes while you make the filling. (If chilling for longer, leave it in the fridge and take out 10 minutes before you need to roll, so that it’s not too hard. This pastry can be frozen if you want to store for another day.)

8. Peel, core and chop the apples into very chunks. Mix together with the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract.

9. Remove the pastry from the freezer and roll out to a half centimetre thickness on a well-floured surface. Move quickly at this point, since the high butter content of the pastry will make it sticky and hard to work with if it gets too warm. Use a pastry cutter to cut 12 circles of pastry and gently press them into the buttered tin. Fill with a large spoon of the apples.

10. Dab a little egg around the edges of the pastry using a pastry brush to help stick the pie tops and bottoms together. Cut another 12 circles of pastry, lay them over the filling and gently press round the edges with a fork. Brush egg over the tops of the pies and make two small cuts on the top of each pie with a sharp knife to allow any steam to be released from the pies during cooking.

11. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

These can be eaten warm from the oven, or you can let them cool completely and then reheat them at 180C for about 5 minutes. They will keep in an air-tight container for a couple of days.


Serve these with cream or ice-cream for dessert, or with a cup of tea in the afternoon. This is also how I usually make mince pies at Christmas time, replacing the apples with mincemeat, but for now miniature apple pies seem like the best way to celebrate the fact that Autumn has really arrived.


Rhubarb has a fairly long and generous season, as I mentioned before when sharing my recipe for a Rhubarb Crumble. At the start of the year forced rhubarb starts to peak its golden-crowned head up, but now that spring is really upon us the dark red stalks are really coming into their prime. Now is the time to peruse the supermarket shelves or pop into your local greengrocers and grab a pile of stalks for a crumble or a pie or some simple stewed rhubarb. I’m lucky enough to have a green-fingered father who lives nearby, and received a beautiful bunch of rhubarb stalks freshly picked from his allotment two weekends ago. It was so perfectly fresh that I didn’t want to muck around with it (besides, with only two of us in the house most of the time, endless puddings and desserts can get a bit much…it’s a hard life, I know). So I stewed it up with a few complementing flavours: vanilla, cinnamon and ginger.

Ingredients 600g rhubarb (about 6 large stalks, with the ends chopped off) 150g caster sugar 2 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp ground cinnamon 2 tsp freshly grated ginger

6 tbsp water

Method 1. Chop the rhubarb into small pieces, about 2 inches long.

2. Place the rhubarb into a large pan and add the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and water. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes for a mixed consistency with some rhubarb still in whole pieces – you want a fork to easily slide through the chunks, and not meet with resistance. If you’d like a more liquid consistency then the take the cooking on for a couple more minutes, it won’t take long.

3. Eat hot or leave to cool in the pan, then transfer to a bowl or container and refrigerate.

This compote was so simple but utterly scrummy, and the ginger in particular made it wonderfully fragrant. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that we had it (the night I cooked it) on top of mini pavlovas:

All I did was follow the meringue recipe from a previous post (but without the extra flavourings and using just one egg white), shape the mixture into two large meringues and top with crème fraiche and the compote to finish. I also had the compote for breakfast every day for a week with coconut yogurt and never got bored of it:

This would be perfect on top of porridge or cereal – I did try to tempt Ross to have it on his cereal, but he has a strict No-Fruit-On-My-Cereal policy. This will keep in the fridge for a week, or you can even freeze it for later. I’m hoping for another fresh rhubarb delivery this week and am thinking about a rhubarb and strawberry pie – a match made in heaven. What’s your favourite thing to cook with rhubarb?

I’ve always been a bit scared of buns. All that kneading and proving and shaping (mainly all that kneading, jeez what a faff). So when I saw the front cover of the Guardian Cook (14 December 2013) lying innocently on the kitchen worktop I gazed longingly at the bronzed swirling buns, but resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t brave enough to attempt making them. I commented to Mother that they looked delicious and she confessed, “Hmmm yes…actually I thought that might be something that you would like to make us”. Cheeky Mother – not such an innocent Guardian Cook after all. My instant reaction was “No”, but grudgingly I had a look at the recipe and lo-and-behold no kneading! And a pretty straight forward recipe at that. Deal done.

I altered the recipe slightly – my dough needed much more time to prove and a little more time to cook than the recipe suggested; and, not only did I not have “vanilla salt” and ground cardamom at home, but I couldn’t find any at Waitrose. If those aren’t the precise ingredients that Waitrose exists for then I don’t know why it does! I also added sultanas just because.

Ingredients (Makes 7 buns)

225ml whole milk 75g butter 300g spelt flour 125g plain wholemeal flour 70g caster sugar 1-2 tsp green cardamom pods ½ tsp salt 10g fast-action dried yeast

1 medium egg, beaten

For the filling: 75g softened butter 2 tsp cinnamon 50g caster sugar ½ tsp sea salt flakes 3-5 twists of ground vanilla beans or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod

Handful of sultanas

To finish: 1 medium egg, beaten

Demerara sugar

Method

  1. Heat the butter and milk until almost boiling and remove from the heat. Leave to cool slightly.
  2. Gently bash the cardamom pods to open them up and remove the small black seeds. Violently bash these until you have a fine powder. I used a pestle and mortar, so “fine” is a generous description.
  3. Sift the flours into a large bowl. Add the salt, sugar, yeast and 1 tsp of the cardamom. Mix.
  4. Now that the milk is warm, not hot (if it is too hot it can kill the yeast) add it to the dry ingredients with your egg. Mix.
  5. The “dough” will be a thick, sticky consistency. You’ll think it’s wrong. It’s not. Cover with cling film (lightly oiled if your bowl is small, so that if the dough rises a lot it won’t stick) and leave in a warm place for anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours until the dough rises. I covered mine in a towel to keep him extra cosy.
  6. Cream the softened butter with the sugar, cinnamon, sea salt and vanilla. Resist the temptation to spread on toast and shove in gob.
  7. Tip (scrape) the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out into a rectangle which is roughly 35cm by 25cm. Spread the butter mixture all over the dough using a palette, or any other flat, knife. Sprinkle over the sultanas.
  8. Roll the dough starting from one of the long sides so you have a long sausage shape. Cut into seven pieces, leaving the seventh piece slightly smaller than the others.
  9. Butter a 23cm cake tin (with sides at least 5cm high) and place the smallest roll in the middle, pretty swirl side up. Place the remaining six evenly around this one. Leave in a warm place for anywhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour to double in size.
  10. Let’s get these buns in the oven. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and brush the buns with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 25-35 minutes until dark golden brown. If you tap the bottom of the cake tin it should sound hollow.

We had these the next morning with fresh orange juice and coffee: perfection. They would go equally well with a cup of tea mid-afternoon. Ross also suggested having them iced, or with streaky bacon and maple syrup. I’m not sure about the last idea.

These are rich, dense buns, with a satisfying, cakey texture. The flavour of the cinnamon and cardamom is beautiful, though the recipe is definitely adaptable to other combinations. I like the idea of orange zest and dark chocolate chips. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to try one of the more fiddly recipes that call for kneading. But for now, excuse me while I go polish off the last sticky crumb of these buns.