Apple & Blackberry Loaf Cake

After a long, hot summer, cooler weather is finally upon us and I’m pretty relieved to be able to turn on the oven without fear of accidentally cooking ourselves in our apartment/furnace. No doubt I will be complaining about the bitter cold in the weeks to come, but for now I’m embracing the fall feels with this simple loaf cake 😀

I love that this recipe celebrates the end of summer with the last of the ripe, sweet blackberries, and the beginning of autumn with the crisp, tart apples. It’s a lovely bake that’s quick to whip together and can be kept in an airtight container for 2-3 days afterwards (if you have the self-control not to eat it all once it comes out the oven!).

This is another delicious loaf cake (see here for another autumn loaf and here for an indulgent dessert loaf) that I’ve added to my recipe book 😋 The apples keep the cake moist and lightly sweet. Feel free to add more spice if you prefer, and substitute the caster sugar with honey for a healthier bake!

Ingredients

  • 160 g butter, melted
  • 160 g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 rounded tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 225 g self-raising flour
  • 2 eating apples (I used Braeburn)
  • 70 g blackberries

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C / 140°C fan / 320°F.
  2. Line your loaf tin with parchment paper, and grease with butter (if needed).
  3. Beat together the melted butter and sugar, and add the eggs into the mixture one by one. Gently whisk until the mixture is pale and creamy.
  4. Add the Greek yoghurt and cinnamon.
  5. Sift the flour into the mixture and fold together.
  6. Chop the apples into small pieces (0.5cm cubes) and combine with the batter.
  7. Pour one-third of the batter into the loaf tin and dot with half the blackberries. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining blackberries before filling up the loaf tin.
  8. Smooth out the top of the mixture.
  9. If you wish, make a crumble topping using cold butter, flour, cinnamon and demerara sugar and sprinkle over the top of the loaf.
  10. Bake for 1 hour 5 mins at 160°C / 140°C fan / 320°F. For the remaining 15 mins, increase the temperature to 180°C / 160°C fan / 350°F.
  11. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  12. Enjoy!

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Raspberry Jam Muffins

Summer is finally here! I’m so excited for lazy weekends in the park and on the beach, easy excuses to eat ice cream all the time, sweet fresh berries… 😀

But before it gets too hot in my flat, I thought I’d do some light summer baking and these fluffy raspberry jam muffins were perfect! These are great for breakfast or as a snack – they are surprisingly addictive, especially when warm, so try not to eat all of them in one go (as I almost did!).

Ingredients (makes 14 small muffins)

  • 140 g golden caster sugar
  • 200 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100 ml natural yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 140 g butter, melted
  • 14 tsp seedless raspberry jam

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C / 170°C fan / 375°F.
  2. Line your cupcake/muffin tin with paper cases.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, bicarb) together.
  4. Lightly whisk the eggs, and mix with the yogurt and vanilla.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and add in the melted butter.
  6. Gently fold everything together.
  7. Fill each muffin case halfway with batter, add a tsp of raspberry jam and top up with more batter.
  8. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
  9. Leave to cool and enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from bbcgoodfood.com)

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Hot Cross Buns x French Toast

Happy Easter all! Long four-day weekends call for lie-ins and brunch 😀 Here’s a delightfully quick recipe you can whip up with ingredients you’ll probably already have lying around, and it transforms your average hot cross bun into something incredible.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 hot cross buns
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 ml milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 80 g frozen berries (I used raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Icing sugar
  • Maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180°C fan / 390°F.
  2. Lightly whisk together the eggs, milk and a pinch of cinnamon.
  3. Cut a pocket into the side of each hot cross bun, and stuff with a handful of frozen berries. Don’t go overboard otherwise the berries will leak out!
  4. Dip the buns into the eggy mixture and allow to soak.
  5. Melt butter in a frying pan on a medium heat.
  6. Fry the buns for 1 minute on each side, or until each side is golden brown.
  7. Pop the buns into the oven for 8-10 minutes until it is heated throughout.
  8. Serve with generous lashings of maple syrup, more berries and other toppings of your choice.

(Recipe adapted from Sainsbury’s)

Sweet Potato & Walnut Loaf Cake

I missed the whole pumpkin dessert bandwagon when Halloween rolled around, but then I thought, why not use another orange-y vegetable instead? Sweet potatoes are one of my favourite root vegetable and I love how brightly coloured they are.

Back in Hong Kong, my mum always used to buy these amazing little Japanese purple sweet potatoes, but I haven’t yet been able to find a variety as moist and with such an intense flavour as those in the UK. These sweet taters were so delicious that there was a cafe dedicated to making sweet potato soft serves 😀

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Unfortunately, I think this place is now closed, but if I’m able to source some really good sweet potatoes from somewhere, I may give a go at making some purple ice cream too!

Anyway, back to this cake – since other vegetables have worked well in bakes (carrot, pumpkin and even courgette!), using sweet potato also made sense. I’ve adapted my recipe from the one I found here, mainly in cutting down the amount of sugar and upping the spices.

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Ingredients

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (you’ll need 200 g of its cooked weight)
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 120 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200 g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 50 ml water
  • For the topping:
    • 80 g walnuts
    • 1 tbsp caster sugar
    • 1/2 tsp mixed spice

Directions

  1. Cook the sweet potatoes (either in a microwave for 8 mins or until soft, or in a steamer), scoop out the flesh and mash. Leave to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / 350°F.
  3. Line your loaf tin with parchment paper.
  4. Whisk together sugar and oil, adding one egg at a time and mixing well.
  5. Add vanilla extract.
  6. In a separate bowl, sift flour and combine with baking powder and spices.
  7. Add a third of the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, adding a splash of water in between mixes, until all the ingredients have been folded together.
  8. Stir in the mashed sweet potato.
  9. Pour the cake batter into the loaf tin and top with the walnut, sugar and spice mix.
  10. Bake for an hour, or until a skewer comes out clean.

This loaf cake turned out to be really tasty! As I cut down on the sugar, it is only lightly sweet and delicious with a cup of tea. The cake is more like a pound cake than a sponge but it isn’t uncomfortably dense, and the walnut topping adds a great contrast in the textures. All in all, another lovely cake for the cooler autumn season 🙂

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Maple, Cinnamon and Pecan Granola

Granola and yogurt is my favourite quick, go-to breakfast when I haven’t prepared anything beforehand (like my bircher muesli)! It’s filling, tasty and I like the contrast between the creamy yogurt and the crunchy oats. But for years, I’ve just been buying my granola from the supermarket and haven’t given much thought into what’s actually in the breakfast that I’ve been chowing down every day.

After a search for some recipes online, I found out that making your own granola couldn’t be easier! It’s one of those wonderful recipes which don’t require much measuring-out, and you can basically mix everything together and throw it into the oven to work its magic. It’s also super customisable so you can really go wild with what you add to your oat mixture. I’ve gone for a more nuts-and-seeds based granola with an autumnal note in the combination of maple syrup, buttery pecans and cinnamon.

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Ingredients

  • 300 g rolled oats
  • 50 g sunflower seeds
  • 50 g pumpkin seeds
  • 100 g flaked almonds
  • 100 g pecans
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 85 ml maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C / 140°C fan / 320°F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients together; mix the dry ingredients together; then combine.
  4. If the mixture is looking too dry, add a tbsp more oil or sweetener, depending on your taste preferences (see tips below).
  5. Tip the granola mix onto the baking sheets and spread evenly.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the granola is crisp and golden brown. Give the mixture a stir every 10-15 minutes to ensure that everything bakes evenly and that the edges don’t get burnt.
  7. Let the granola cool before serving with milk / yogurt / on top of ice cream / on its own as a snack / how ever you like!

(Recipe adapted from bbcgoodfood.com)

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Tips

  • The granola can now be stored in an airtight container for up to a month.
  • If you’re using more delicate ingredients (e.g. flaked coconut, dried fruit) or nuts that have already been toasted, add them in near the end when the mix only needs another 10 minutes to bake.
  • The ratio of wet to dry ingredients in this recipe means that the resulting granola is more crumb-y than chunky. If you like your granola with big oat clusters, you can:
    • Add more oil / butter / sweetener;
    • Whisk one egg white and add it to the granola mix before you bake it – apparently the proteins in the egg will bind the ingredients together (I haven’t tried this yet, but will give it a go!);
    • Don’t stir the granola too furiously while it bakes and while it cools.

I’m enjoying my homemade granola for breakfast and there are so many more nuts and seeds than I’d ever find in a store-bought granola! Seriously, it’s such a joy to be able to decide what ingredients you add and how much. I’m so excited to try different flavour combinations – let me know what you’d add to yours 🙂

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Classic Carrot Cake

Weekends are for baking so on Friday evening, I decided to make one of my favourite cakes – carrot cake! Ever since coming to the UK, I’ve become addicted to this sweet, rich dessert so I wanted to find a perfect recipe to make it at home.

I find recipes like this – where you basically dump everything into a huge bowl, mix and then bake – so satisfying and therapeutic. While I appreciate using actual technical skill to make perfect macarons, for example, sometimes after a long week, all you want is a simple, (fairly) effortless recipe. The result here is an incredibly moist and warmly spiced cake, which can be enjoyed as afternoon tea, after dinner and even for breakfast.

Usually, I love the combination of carrot cake and cream cheese icing, but I’ve opted for an icing sugar drizzle for this recipe as it keeps the cake lighter (and means that it’s more justifiable to have several servings in one sitting!).

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Ingredients

  • 160 g light brown sugar
  • 145 ml vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 160 g grated carrot
  • 100 g raisins
  • 175 g plain flour
  • 2¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange juice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / 350°F.
  2. Line your baking tin with parchment paper.
  3. Put the sugar, oil and eggs into a mixing bowl and lightly whisk until combined.
  4. Add in the grated carrot and raisins and mix gently.
  5. Sift in the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  6. Fold everything together.
  7. Transfer the carrot cake mixture into the baking tin.
  8. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes.
  9. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, and then on a wire rack.
  10. For the frosting/drizzle, beat the icing sugar and orange juice until smooth, then drizzle over the cake in any way you like!
  11. Serve and enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from bbcgoodfood.com)

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Raspberry & Maple Syrup Bircher Muesli

I often go through phases where I’m completely obsessed with and constantly craving one type of food for a few weeks at a time. In the past, it’s been banana oatmeal, pesto on bagels… and recently, it’s bircher muesli.

Bircher muesli was created by Swiss doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner as a health food for his patients. Nowadays, it’s a healthy breakfast option which is also incredibly easy to make and very customisable. It’s pretty similar to overnight oats – but Dr Bircher-Benner was way ahead of the trend, as he invented this in the 1890s!

I like to make a big batch of this on Sunday evening, which gives me breakfast for at least 4 days. It’s definitely best to keep it in the fridge for at least 6-8 hours before serving, so that the oats can soak up all the liquid ingredients to become very creamy. I think the flavours mingle and improve after a few days, though I wouldn’t keep it for any longer than 5 days.

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 100 g rolled oats
  • 120 g natural yoghurt
  • 2 apples, grated (I used braeburn, but any crisp, juicy apple will work)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 70 g frozen raspberries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • A handful of raisins
  • A splash of milk

Directions

  1. Roughly grate the apples.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together – if the mixture looks too dry, loosen with a splash of milk. The measurements above can be changed depending on your tastes – add more yoghurt / milk if you prefer a moister muesli.
  3. Keep in the fridge overnight, or for a minimum of 4 hours.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Like I said, feel free to change up the fruits you add into the mixture, or add a few handfuls of nuts for more texture! Let me know in the comments what you think – I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

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