When life gives you lemons make lemon drizzle cake. This classic bake is sure to put a smile on your face.

What could be nicer than a classic lemon drizzle cake? A bite of the soft sponge cake brings the tang of lemon and the crunch of sugar. Perfect with a cup of tea to brighten up an afternoon.

Classic lemon drizzle cake

I haven’t made a lemon drizzle cake for ages. My last attempt at a drizzle cake was a lovely raspberry and blackberry drizzle cake which was perfect to use up my bumper raspberry crop. On finding that I had three lemons that I had to use up I thought a lemon drizzle cake would be perfect. Don’t you hate it when you have to buy a bag of lemons when you only need to use one? It did give me an excuse to make cake though and that is never a bad thing. Normally I would make lemon and sultana biscuits but they only need one lemon.

A classic lemon drizzle cake

Before I could make a lemon drizzle cake I had to find a recipe. Searching on-line I found several recipes for lemon drizzle cake. Strangely one of these requires one and half eggs. I am still trying to work out how you measure half an egg. Is there some gadget that slices an egg neatly in half that I am missing from my life? Even more weird how did someone discover that the recipe tastes best with one and a half eggs? I mean who would even try this? It is mind boggling.

When I need a classic recipe I always have a look though my gran’s cookbooks. I inherited a number of books from her. Some of these have strange names like the Radiation Cookbook and they take you back into the past. The recipes are substantial and use a lot of ingredients that are not so familiar today. Inside each of these books my gran has inserted hand written notes of recipes that she tried and liked. Some of these are cryptic with just a name and list of ingredients. Others have more detail but none have pictures. Looking though these I found a recipe for lemon drizzle cake. I have fond memories of eating this and other home made cakes with my gran when we went to visit. I thought I would try it for myself.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake Recipe

A classic lemon drizzle cake is really easy to make. It starts with a basic sponge recipe. To make a basic sponge take the weight of an egg and add the same weight in flour, butter and sugar the. To make a bigger cake you can double and triple the amounts. It is an easy way to remember how to make a sponge without a recipe book. The secret to a lemon drizzle cake adding the lemon drizzle whilst the cake is still warm. Mix together some lemon juice and caster sugar until it is smooth. Let the cake sit for a few minutes when you remove it from the oven. Holes should then be made in the cake with a skewer and pour on the drizzle. The holes allow the drizzle to sink into the centre of the cake spreading the lemon heaven all though it.
Lemon Drizzle Cake

recipe title=”Lemon Drizzle Cake” servings=”8″ time=”1 hr” difficulty=”easy” image=”http://www.dragonsandfairydust.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/lemon-drizzle-2-1.jpg” description=”A light sponge drizzled with lemon and sugar to make a lovely tangy cake”]

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 170g (6 oz) self raising flour
  • 170g (6 oz) caster sugar
  • 170g (6oz) butter
  • Zest of two lemons

For the drizzle

  • Juice of two lemons
  • 110g (4 oz) caster sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, Gas Mark 4
  2. Grease a loaf tin
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
  4. Add the flour, eggs and lemon zest and mix
  5. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin
  6. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until a skewer put in the middle comes out clean
  7. Mix together the sugar and lemon juice for the drizzle
  8. Make holes in the cake with a skewer
  9. Pour the drizzle over the top
  10. Leave to cool
[/recipe]

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Classic lemon drizzle cake. Soft sponge with a lemon glaze drizzled over the top.

 

When was the last time you made lemon drizzle cake? Why not make some today?

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Simnel Muffins are a twist on simnel cake. These lightly spiced muffins with a marzipan layer make a perfect Easter treat.

Springtime brings sunshine and colour. The flowers are now in bloom and mornings are no longer dark. Lighter mornings are full of birdsong. You may even catch a glimpse of bird gathering twigs as they build their nests. The world is coming back to life. According to Anglo-Saxon tradition Spring comes because the Goddess of Spring, Eostre, returns to Earth. Feasts were held in her honour and many of our Easter traditions stem from these times.

Simmel cake is an Easter time fruit cake, make with a layer of marzipan in the middle and a marzipan topping. The simnel cake always has eleven marzipan balls on the top. These represent the disciples, minus Judas who betrayed Jesus.  There are many legends surrounding the origin of Simnel cakes. One of these is that they were gifts to mums on Mothering Sunday. They are a traditional Springtime treat.  While Simnel cake is delicious, fruit cake does take a while to make. These Simnel Muffins give you all the taste of a Simnel cake but take less time to make. They are the perfect Easter treat.

Simnel Muffins

 

Simnel Muffins

A lightly spiced batter with a hint of orange and a mixture of fruit makes up the Simnel Muffins. They have a similar taste to a light fruit cake. When you bite into them you will find a layer of marzipan which is a nice surprise.  The muffins are simple to make, it is a question of mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl. This is then put into muffin cases with a little marzipan in the centre.  Bake in the oven for thirty minutes until golden.  They are so easy to make that it would be a good recipe to get your kids to make this Easter.

Simnel muffins

When the muffins are cool you can decorate them, although they are nice eaten plain. I had some Royal icing so I put this on top of the muffins and added a few stars to make them look pretty. You could use mini eggs and make the top look like a little Easter nest. Children will also enjoy decorating the muffins. You may find that they eat more of the decorations than they use.

Premier Estates DOC Millesimato Prosecco

Simnel muffins and permier estates procecco

As it is Easter why not push the boat out and treat yourself to a bottle of prosecco? I have been trying a Premier Estates DOC Millesimato Prosecco. This drink is perfect for an Easter treat (or a treat for any special occasion). It is ideal for drinking with these simnel muffins. If you are having an Easter Sunday roast it will make the meal more special. Why not try a middle eastern inspired roast lamb for a change?

The Preimier Estates prosecco is multi-award wining and has five separate awards for quality. You can taste why when you take a sip. The crisp fresh taste with a hint of sweetness is refreshing on the tongue. There is a lovely after taste of delicate fruity flavours.  The Premier Estates DOC Millesimato Prosecco is a great price at £7.99 a bottle with free delivery if you buy six bottles or more.
Premier estates processo

The Premier Estates OC Millesimato is made using Glera grapes from Valdobbiadene in the Veneto region of North Eastern Italy. Glera grapes are the principal grape used in prosecco and these date back to Ancient Roman times. There is actually a village called Prosecco, in the suburb of Trieste. Production of prosecco began here in the 19th Century and spread though out the region. This lightly sparkling wine is perfect for an Easter celebration.

Simnel Muffins Recipe

 

Simnel Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 50mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Lightly spiced fruity muffins with a layer of marzipan inside

Ingredients

  • 250g mixed dried fruit
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • 200g marzipan

Directions

  1. Mix the dried fruit with the orange juice and zest in a bowl and leave to soak for an hour
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy
  4. Add the eggs, flour, nilk and spices and mix until smooth.
  5. Stir the fruit into the mixture
  6. Half fill the muffin cases with the batter.
  7. Divide the marzipan into 12 equal sized pieces
  8. Roll each piece into a ball and squash flat
  9. Place on top of the muffin batter
  10. Add the remaining batter on top of the marzipan in each muffin case
  11. Bake for thirty minutes until risen and golden
  12. Leave to cool and decorate.

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Simnel Muffins. These lightly spiced fruit muffins make the perfect Easter treat

 

What are you baking this Easter? Let me know below.

Linking up with the kitchen clearout linky on Madhouse Family Reviews as I finally used some ready made royal icing that has been sitting in my cupboard for ages.

kitchen clearout

I was sent the Premier Estates Prosecco in return for an honest review. I did not have to say anything nice and my opinions are my own.

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These custard tarts come from  Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a book which is an addition to the classic story where Belle finds an enchanted book in the Beast’s castle.

When was the last time you were lost in a book? A good story has the power to draw you into the pages, keeping you turning the pages until you reach the end. Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a book is one of these tales. It is an addition to the classic tale, Beauty and the Beast. In the original story, a wealthy merchant loses his ships at sea and his wealth along with them. He has to move to a farmhouse and his sons and daughters have to work for a living. Some years later he gets a message that one of his ships has returned to port. He sets off to find out what wealth he may have left, asking his children what presents they want on his return. They ask for expensive goods apart from the youngest who asks for a rose.

The merchant arrives to find the ship’s cargo taken to pay his debts. He has no money for presents. On his way home gets lost in a storm and finds the Beast’s palace where he takes shelter. The Beast looks after him well.  When he leaves the next day he sees the Beast’s gardens and picks a rose for his daughter.  The Beast is angry and wants to kill him for picking his prize rose. When he hears it is for a present he relents. The one condition is the merchant or one of his children must return and keep him company.  Beauty or Belle ends up in the castle with the Beast. The Beast is really a handsome prince who is the victim of an enchantment. Only by finding love can he be free of the spell.

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

Beauty and the beast: Lost in a book by Jennifer Donnelly

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a book follows on from the animated movie. Belle is living in the Beast’s castle along with the Beast and his servants. The Beast’s servants are victims to the same spell as the Beast. They have been turned into animated objects,  a candelabra, a clock, a teapot and teacup. They will stay this way forever unless the Beast finds love before the last petal on the rose falls off. Death and love are watching and have a wager on outcome. Love is convinced Belle will win the heart of the Beast. Death will do her best to ensure this doesn’t happen.

At the start of the book, the Beast has given Belle his library as a gift. Bookish Belle is delighted and is on a mission to clean the dirty and dusty library to make it a place she can escape to. With the help of the servants, she begins dusting and cleaning. Even the Beast helps and we get a glimpse of his softer side. Soon Belle uncovers a hidden room which contains an enchanted book, Nevermore. She soon finds she can escape into the book and enter a perfect world, where she can leave her lonely world behind. She meets a countess who promises to show her the world. Little does she know the book has been put here by Death and soon Belle will find she is unable to escape the book.

The story is well written and pulls you in. The characters are enchanting and the interactions between them are realistic. There are a number of humorous as well as touching scenes.   The Beast does his best to win Belle over without being able to tell her why he is keeping her there. We get great glimpses of his character through the book. It is a great read and you wonder if Belle will escape from Nevermore right to the end.

Portuguese Custard Tarts

Whenever I read a book I am always on the look out for food references like this boiled cake from Ghost Moth. Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book did not disappoint. There are a few references to food which caught my eye. The first was a reference to beignets. The Beast took Belle out skating on the frozen river as a surprise. He had arranged some food for her as part of the surprise and they had a lovely day together having fun.

Three familiar figures were busy setting up a small collapsible table with a steaming pot of hot chocolate, cup and saucers and a platter of beignets.

Beignets are square sweet French doughnuts with no hole in the middle which are traditionally served for breakfast in New Orleans. The recipe calls for a deep fryer which I don’t have. Looking for more food references I came across one for custard tarts. Belle found these whilst eating out in Nevermore.

A waiter arrived immediately bearing porcelain cups as thin as eggshells. Among them were small pink teacakes with candied rose petals on top. Marzipan hearts with sugared violets. Candied chestnuts. Cream Puffs. Tiny Custard Tarts. Belle thought them almost too pretty to eat.

There was plenty to choose from in that paragraph but I chose to make Portuguese custard tarts or pastiéis de nata. These are a traditional dessert with a rich egg custard in a crispy puff pastry that are a delight to eat.

Custard Tarts

 

Making Portugese Custard Tarts

These Portugese Custard Tarts take time to make but it is time well spent. The rich custard inside the flaky pastry is a treat that will please all. They are so nice it is hard to stop at eating one. Set aside a Sunday afternoon and take the time to make them. There are two parts to the custard tarts. The first part is making the puff pastry. If you are a great baker you can make the pastry from scratch. Life is too short to make pastry so I chose to use ready rolled puff pastry. It is easy to chop the roll into segments and flatten them into muffin tins to make a base. This gives you time to concentrate on making the rich custard.

The custard does take time to make but it is worth it. The taste is much richer than shop bought and it brings the tarts to life. There are a few steps to making this custard. Warming the milk with some cinnamon and lemon peel to add a little flavour. Making a sugar syrup and whisking it into the milk mixture. Finally, whisk the milk and sugar mixture into the egg yolks to make the rich yellow custard. Pour the custard into the tarts and the oven will do the work of setting it inside the tart. The only problem is waiting for them to cool. They look so tempting you will want to eat them straight away.

Portugese custard tart recipe

Portuguese Custard Tarts

  • Servings: 22
  • Time: 50 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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A fresh, light, Italian-inspired pasta recipe perfect for a late summer dinner.

Ingredients

  • 500ml whole milk
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 70g plain flour
  • 485g caster sugar
  • 200ml water
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 packets of ready rolled puff pastry

Directions

  1. Grease two 12 hole muffin tins well with butter
  2. Place the tins in the fridge while you prepare the custard
  3. Add the milk to the pan with the lemon and cinnamon. Heat until simmering.
  4. Let the milk cool then sieve to remove the lemon zest.
  5. Place the flour in a bowl and add a third of the milk. Mix to make a paste
  6. Heat the rest of the milk in a pan and add the flour mixture.
  7. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly and cook for a few minutes until it thickens
  8. Remove from the heat
  9. Put the sugar and water into a pan.
  10. Heat gently until the sugar melts then bring to the boil. Heat until it reaches 108C
  11. Whisk the sugar syrup into the milk mixture until it is all combined
  12. Put the egg yolks into a bowl
  13. Pour the milk mixture though a sieve into the eggs little by little, whisking all the time
  14. Set aside and preheat the oven to 250C Gas 9
  15. Unroll the pastry, remove the lining sheet and roll back up
  16. Cut each roll into eleven discs
  17. Press each disc into a muffin tin with the circles upward and press into the tin to form the tart base
  18. Pour the custard into the pastry
  19. Place in the top of the oven for 15 minutes until the pastry is golden

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Portugese Custard Tarts - Inspired by Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donelly

 

After making this recipe you will be left with six egg whites. Don’t waste these. Use them to make meringues and Eton Mess.

Linking up with Read, Cook, Eat over on Chez Maximka as the recipe comes from a novel.

ReadCookEat

 

I was sent the book in return for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

 

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Spring is officially here. Why not celebrate its arrival with a Hummingbird Bundt Cake? The sweet flavours of pineapple and banana make the perfect Spring time treat.

If you live in the US Spring heralds the arrival of hummingbirds. These delicate and gorgeous creatures migrate back more than 500 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Many of them returning to the same gardens they previously nested in. After such a long journey the birds are hungry and looking for the nectar that sustains them. Here in the UK there are no hummingbirds in sight. We do have signs of Spring everywhere. Flowers are bursting into bloom and birds are gathering material for their nests. Bird song is an accompaniment to lighter and brighter mornings.

What could be a more apt cake for spring than a Hummingbird bundt cake? This cake is a tradition in the American South. The recipe has been appearing in American magazines since the seventies. There are many names for it, “Doctor Bird Cake,” “A Cake That Doesn’t Last,” “Tropical Treat Cake and the more popular Hummingbird cake. The original recipe probably came from Jamaica. The Red-billed streamertail, a type of hummingbird, is Jamaica’s national bird. Often known as the doctor bird because of the way it probes a flower with a long beak as if examining a patient. The bird became associated with the cake as it is so sweet with the banana and pineapple it will attract a hummingbird.

 

Hummingbird bundt cake

 

Hummingbird Bundt Cake

I love Spring, it brings a sense of renewal. The cold grey darkness of the winter is over and there is the promise of regrowth and sunny days ahead. It is a time to start getting outside more and making the most of the sunshine. Whilst is is warmer the wind can still be cold and a cup of tea with a slice of cake is a welcome afternoon treat. My baking days are a Sunday. It is a day when I have a slight chance to relax. Saturdays are for house work and the rest of the week I am at work. Sundays I like to spend in the kitchen, cooking and baking for the week ahead. When thinking of a cake that was perfect for Spring I remembered making Hummingbird Cupcakes. These light and sweet cakes were perfect for Spring. I wanted to adapt the recipe to use my bundt cake tin which has been sitting in my cupboard for ages. I made a marble bundt cake with it a long time ago. The flowery shape of the tin is perfect for a Spring treat. 

Hummingbird bundt cake

The mix of pineapple and banana in the cake makes for a wonderful moist cake which is perfect with a cup of tea. In the original hummingbird cake recipe the frosting is layered between the cake.  For the bundt cake frosting on the top is perfect. The cake is topped with a cream cheese icing and pecan nuts which give it a little crunch. The pecans are lightly toasted to enhance their taste. If you do not have pecans use walnuts instead.

Hummingbird Bundt Cake Recipe

Hummingbird

  • Servings: 10
  • Time: 1hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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A delicious cake with banana and pineapple, perfect for a Spring day

Ingredients

  • 500g pecan nuts
  • 1kg plain flour
  • 680g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 bananas
  • 400g tin crushed pineapple
  • 180ml sunflower oil
  • 1½ tsp vanilla essence

For the glaze

  • 110g cream cheese
  • 700g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essense
  • 2 tbsp milk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, Gas Mark 4
  2. Chop the pecans into small pieces. Place them in a large pan and cook for 8 minutes until toasted
  3. Mash the banana
  4. In a bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt
  5. Add the eggs, mashed bananas, pineapple, oil and vanilla and stir until smooth
  6. Grease a large bundt tin
  7. Sprinkle the pecans into the top of the bundt tin, keeping aside some for decoration
  8. Add the cake batter to the bundt tin over the pecans
  9. Cook for an hour or just over until a skewer inserted in the mixture comes out clean
  10. Leave to cool for fifteen minutes then turn the cake out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely
  11. To make the icing mix the cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla essence and 1 tbsp milk until smooth
  12. Add the remaining milk slowly whilst whisking until smooth
  13. Pour the icing over the cake and decorate with the remaining pecans.

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Hummingbird Bundt Cake. Hummingbird cake is a traditional cake from Southern America made with pineapple and banana for a delicious teatime treat

Have you ever tried hummingbird cake before? Let me know below.

 

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Carrot and apricot flapjacks are perfect for a tasty snack with a cup of tea. With a fruity punch the oats will help you feel full for longer.

Carrot and apricot flapjacks

There are certain times of day when a craving for something sweet hits. The danger time for me is around ten when I need my second cup of tea of the day. It is always tempting to accompany it with a bar of chocolate. January is a time when we start trying to eat more healthily. It is not always easy when it is cold outside. Salads are very much a summer thing. The grey cold January days are more likely to make us reach for food temptations.

Recently AO.com got in touch and asked me if I would like to try creating a healthy and delicious recipe using a Kenwood spiralizer. Having seen the fad for sprializing any vegetables that grow I was happy to give it a go. I rather like the idea of making courgette spaghetti (courgetti?) , carrot noodles (caroodles?) and other exciting dishes. Not only do they look fun to make it is great fun thinking up names for the sprialized creations. Rather than create an exotic spiralized salad I thought I would try a sweet recipe. Carrot and apricot flapjacks were the result.

Using the Kenwood spiralizer

Before doing anything else I had to have a play with the Kenwood spiralizer. It is pretty simple to use. Place the bowl at the bottom to catch the spirialized goodies. Pop in the spirialzing attachment and put the lid on. Attach the food you want to sprialize to the pusher then push it slowly down into the sprializer while it is on. Watch in amazement as ribbons of food appear in the bowl below.

Kenwood spirializer

There are two sprializing attachments so you can choose between ribbons or noodles. I experimented with a few different types of food. My first attempt at apples was a miserable failure. On reading the book I saw that you had to cut the end of the fruit or vegetable flat before adding it to the spiralizer. Once I did this the apples worked perfectly. Carrots were a great success and I got a bit over enthusiastic, making rather too many. As well as making carrot and apricot flapjacks I was able to use the excess carrot in cheese savoury sandwiches.

Carrot and Apricot flapjacks

Carrot and apricot flapjacks

Flapjacks are one of those things I make often. Usually I make fruit flapjacks like coconut and cherry flapjacks. A flapjack will fit perfectly in a lunchbox and makes a great snack with a cup of tea. Because they are full of oats they keep you full for longer. Knowing that  carrot cake works really well I thought I would try adding carrots to flapjacks. The addition of carrots makes it nice and moist as well as sweet. Adding apricots and nuts adds some nice fruitiness and a little crunch.

The carrot and apricot flapjacks are really easy to make as well. Just melt some butter and honey in a pan then add the oats, apricots, nuts and carrots into the pan. Give everything a good stir and empty the mixture into a baking tin. All you need to do then is bake and try and resist the tantalising smell coming from the oven. If you don’t have a sprializer grating the carrots will work just as well.

Carrot and apricot flapjacks recipe

 Carrot and apricot flapjacks

Carrot and apricot flapjacks
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Ingredients
  1. 2 large carrots
  2. 175g (6oz) butter
  3. 200 ml honey
  4. 150g (50z) dried apricots
  5. 30g (1oz) chopped hazelnuts
  6. 450g (12oz) porridge oats
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C Gas Mark 4
  2. Grease a small baking tray and line with baking parchment
  3. Sprialize or grate the carrots.
  4. Chop the apricots and nuts into pieces.
  5. Add the carrots, nuts and apricots to the oats.
  6. Put the honey and butter into a pan and melt
  7. Mix all the other ingredients with the melted butter and honey.
  8. Press into the baking tray
  9. Bake in the oven for around 15 - 20 minutes until golden.
  10. Cut into pieces whilst hot then leave to cool in the tin before removing
Dragons and Fairy Dust http://www.dragonsandfairydust.co.uk/
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Carrot and apricot flapjacks. A delicious and healthy treat to keep you full till lunch.

Do you have a favourite flavour flapjacks that you like to make? Let me know below.

I was sent a sprializer and the money for the ingredients to create the recipe. I was not obliged to say anything nice and my opinions are my own.

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