Friday, 28 December 2012

Prosciutto, rocket and chestnut mushroom salad

I love Italian food so here's a salad inspired by Italy, we make this mainly when the rocket from the garden is growing like mad, but it can be made anytime of year if you can get hold of some nice fresh peppery rocket.

  • Fresh Rocket, a good handful per portion
  • Chestnut mushrooms - finely sliced
  • Parma Ham or air dried prosciutto
  • Parmesan or Grando Padano - grated finely
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Good quality matured balsamic vinegar
  • Serve on a plate with the rocket in the centre
  • Parma ham around the plate, ripped in to large pieces
  • Scatter the mushrooms randomly across the salad
  • Grate the cheese across the whole dish
  • Sprinkle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Delicious, served with goats cheese bruschetta or plain bruschetta, you'll have amazing depths of flavours.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas Sticky Buns

Now first things first, I can't claim credit for this bake, in the last few months Mr Lancashire Food has been developing his bread baking skills and these yummy festive buns are his first forage into the world of enriched  dough. Based on a chelsea bun recipe with the fruity hit being provided in this case by mincemeat and extra stickiness by spiced sugar butter ( granulated sugar mixed with ground cinnamon and ground allspice). They are delicious.

  • 300g strong white bread flour 
  • 50g light soft brown sugar 
  • 1 egg - free range please
  • 40g melted salted butter (cooled)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 7g dried yeast 
  • Mincemeat - approx 1 large jar 
  • Butter (soft) mixed with spiced sugar
  • Warm water (blood heat) - approx 100-150ml ( all depends on the flour)
  • First mix the flour, sugar, salt, melted butter, and egg in a large bowl, with your hands until it is well mixed.
  • Now mix the dried yeast and approx 100ml of the warm water into your mixture
  • Mix this with your hands until you have a soft sticky dough ( add more water if needed), now knead for about 10 minutes on a floured surface until your dough is soft and elastic.
  • Now leave in a covered bowl to prove and double in size, this may take several hours depending on the temperature of your room
  • One doubled in size , gently stretch out into an approximate square approx 12" by 12"
  • Spread your dough with the mincemeat , make sure you go all the way to the edges
  • Roll up your dough in to a large sausage shape, cut into slices approx 1 1/2" thick
  • Place in a baking tray, choose a container which will fit the slices snuggly. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for another 30 mins
  • Pre heat your oven to 170c 
  • When you are ready to bake your buns dot the top of each buns with the spicy  sugar butter 
  • Bake until well risen and browned , checking your buns are baked through
  • Leave to cool initially in the tin
  • Then cool on a wire tray
Delicious and very very moreish, if you want snow on your buns sprinkle with icing sugar or alternatively drizzle with water icing. You could also play around with the spices you use in the spicy butter too.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Chocolate chestnut brownies

After baking with chestnut in my last clandestine cake club cake post, I had both some puree and whole chestnut leftover. I love chocolate brownies so I thought I would mix the two, the resultant bake is a lovely festive treat and is great with a coffee, not at all nutty more of an aromatically moist crumbly treat enhanced by adding the chestnut.


  • 140g dark chocolate (approx 50% cocoa solids or more)
  • 200g approx chestnut puree ( I blitzed my leftovers)
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 170g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs - free range
  • 100g butter
  • Drop of milk to loosen mix if necessary
  • Preheat your oven to 170c fan / 180c nornal oven, line a deep square or oblong baking tin, approx 20cm square ish
  • Melt chocolate and butter in bowl in the warming oven
  • Mix your eggs and sugar and whisk until ribbony and volume increased
  • Cool slightly your chocolate and butter mix , then mix with your egg mixture and all your other ingredients, adding a little milk if necessary.
  • Pour into the prepared tin
  • Bake for approx 15- 20 minutes until cooked but still slightly moist in the middle
  • Remove from oven and fully cool in the tin
  • Cut in to chunks and dust with icing sugar, if you are feeling very festive you could use gold spray or edible glitter too.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Quick and easy mincemeat christmas cake

Want to have a home baked Christmas cake for your festive celebrations, but you've left it too late !
Over the years I have made various versions of mincemeat cakes when this predicament has occurred in our household, the mincemeat is a quick way to provide the moist fruitiness needed for celebration cakes, this recipe is by far the easiest I have tried. The other thing that is good about this recipe is that it doesn't actually require as long a bake unlike a traditional fruit cake.

I 'll cover decorating later in the post but first lets bake the cake.

  • 1 jar of mincemeat ( ideally homemade or if buying a luxury type) - approx 400g
  • 150g butter - softened
  • 150g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 eggs - free range
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 50g glace cherries (rinsed, dried and chopped)
  • 100g currants or raisins
You will need an approx 8" round deep cake tin, ideally loose bottomed or springform, butter and line with double thickness greaseproof paper.
Preheat the oven to 160c

  • Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl or your food mixer
  • Now add all other ingredients
  • Mix throughly
  • Turn into your prepared tin, level the top
  • Bake for approx 1 1/2 hours , until tested cooked with a skewer, watch the top if browning too quickly cover with foil
  • Allow to cool slightly in tin before removing to wire rack
  • Once cool wrap with greaseproof and store in a cool dry place, until ready to decorate
Quick decoration with marzipan, regal ice and silver balls and star cutters of various sizes, I found some silver ribbon and wrapped it in some cellophane. Very festive if I do say so myself. 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

CCC No 11 - 12 Days of Christmas - Mulled wine, pear, chestnut and cinnamon cake with a chocolate chestnut ganache

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me - A Partridge in a Pear Tree !

The Theme for our festive Christmas meeting of South Lancashire Clandestine Cake is the 12 days of Christmas and we are lucky enough to be able to hold our joint festive gathering with Ribble Valley CCC at the lovely Shaw Hill Golf and Country Club.

Our sumptuous venue is probably our most opulent venue so far and we were warmly welcomed for our Christmas themed meeting, cake bakers from across the county ventured out on a cold winters night and brought a delicious range of cakes baked to our theme.

I really struggled with the theme this month but eventually settled on a mulled wine, pear, cinnamon cake with a chocolate chestnut ganache topping, wanting to try something a little different. The recipe is from the Good Food website and can be found here, I just adapted the decoration.

We had cakes for most of the 12 days, quite a few bundt ring cakes, some featuring pear, swans a swimming, geese a laying and milk cakes, as usual our membership rose to the occasion. We were also lucky enough to be entertained by choristers from Blackburn Cathedral who treated us to festive carols, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Massive thanks go to Shaw Hill for such an atmospheric location for our festive event.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Fruity Marzipan loaf cake

I'm not a great fan of the traditional Christmas fruit cake but I do like marzipan , especially when its cooked and when become a lovely morsel of moist intense almond in a bake. This bake makes a lovely light alternative for a traditional cake and its very aromatic whilst baking, you can use any combination of dried fruits the choice is yours. Its also an excellent way to use up the marzipan trimmings from icing your Christmas cake.


  • 250g dried fruits ( sultanas, raisins, cranberries, chopped apricots, currants, glace cherries, even mango pieces)
  • 2 eggs - free range please
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 150g soft butter or quality margarine
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 150ml skimmed milk
  • 100g marzipan - chopped into small pieces
Pre heat your oven to 180C , you will also need a 2lb loaf tin, oiled / buttered and base lined

  • Mix the butter, sugar and flour together in a food processor or stand mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs
  • Now add the eggs, vanilla, milk and mix until you have a loose dough
  • Now pulse in the dried fruit until just mixed
  • Spoon approx 1/2 the mixture in to your prepared tin
  • Add the marzipan in a layer before using the rest of the fruited mixture to top off the loaf
  • Smooth the top 
  • Bake for approx 60- 75 minutes, carefully testing with a skewer to see if baked through, bear in mind the marzipan
  • Allow to initially cool in the tin, then remove and let cool fully on a wire rack.

#BoothsCheers - Beef in port wine

This weeks treats from Booths for their #BoothsCheers campaign include a delightful bottle of port. Also in the box was a letter with a "secret mission" (should I choose to accept it !), to come up with a great comfort food recipe to match one of the wines being provided.

Most people associate port with stilton cheese ( but its not from Lancashire and MR LF doesn't do Blue cheese so that's out) or rich dark fruit cake, yet its quite a versatile ingredient particularly in stews and casseroles producing a deliciously rich sweet edged sauce , its also excellent with or  in a chicken liver pate, with a rich chocolate dessert or even with a good chocolate brownie. As for cheese it works well with most, I particularly like goats cheese.

In this recipe its a great subsitute for a red wine, ale or beef stock, if you think its a bit decadent to use half a bottle of port in a stew, then mix and match depending on how frugal you feel.

  • Beef skirt or beef shin- trimmed and cut into cubes (ask your butcher or Booths stock it if you ask)
  • 1 large onion - chopped fairly finely
  • 2 or 3 carrots - organic if possible as you can taste the different
  • 1/2 bottle port ( or your frugal mixture - see above)
  • Squirt of tomato ketchup
  • 6 mushrooms - sliced
  • Seasoned flour (flour , seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • Oil
  • Preheat oven to 150c
  • Tosh the cubed beef in the seasoned flour
  • Heat a little oil in frying pan or if your lucky like me your cast iron casserole dish
  • Fry off your beef in small quantities until well coloured, remove as cooked to a plate
  • Now fry off your vegetables, soften without colouring
  • Place the beef and vegetables in your casserole dish, add a squirt of tomato ketchup.
  • Pour on your port / stock and put the lid on your dish
  • Place in the oven and bake for about 1 1/2 hours , now add the mushrooms
  • Continue to bake until the vegetables are soft and the beef falls apart and the sauce reduced
  • Serve with mashed potatoes, chunky bread, rice and green vegetables
The port really makes a difference and the gravy was amazing, a delicious comfort food for #BoothsCheers

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