Expect to see more in future!

IMG_20150403_153340LOOK, look what I have been given for my birthday! Yes, I’m 40 next month and to ease the pain my lovely mum has bought me a Kitchenaid stand mixer!

Mingo The Mixer arrived 2 hours ago and so far I have made brownies and now a white bloomer is kneading.

Diet?  What diet?  If Nigella can rock her curves then so can I!

What shall I make next?  Do I need the mincer attachment,  what about a different whisk? It’s all so exciting!

Ali x

Comfort food … Sunshine soup for a rainy day

I don’t know about you but these last couple of days of rain have had me hankering after proper food, thick warming soups, hearty stews with dumplings and of course, cake.  Lots and lots of cake.

My fridge and larder are looking a little Mother Hubbard, but it was raining and I really didn’t want to go out for more supplies.  Sometimes you just want to stay in and hibernate!  So I had a good rummage in the fridge and found a butternut squash (I found 3 actually … no idea why I had 3 in the fridge), some slightly past their best yellow peppers and a bag of onions.  Soup! That was the cry from my hungry tummy, soup with cheese scones!

‘Feed me!’ cried my belly.  ‘Bake!’ said my procrastinating head.  So I did, and rather yummy it was too.

Roast squash, pepper and onion soup

Serves 3-4

1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 2cm dice

2 or 3 yellow or red peppers chopped into large chunks

3 small or 1 large onion chopped into quarters

Olive oil

Pinch of salt to taste

1 tsp cumin seed

1 tsp smoked paprika

A 2.5 cm piece of fresh ginger, grated finely

About 1pt water


Put all the veg in a baking tray with the olive oil and spices, roast at gas mark 4/180c until all the veg has softened and is starting to go a bit toasty


When the vegetables are cooked, tip them into a saucepan, add about 1/2 pt of water and whizz up with a stick blender.  I like my pumpkin and squash soups to be velvetty smooth so I whizz until I can whizz no more ;).  Gradually add more water until you get the consistency you like, taste for seasoning and reheat gently.

I served mine with a dollop of creme fraiche and some chopped coriander.soupsquash

Cheese scones (My favourite accompaniment to homemade soup)

250g self rasing flour

75g cold butter (always proper butter, always)

125g mature cheddar cheese

125ml milk

Pinch of salt


Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl.  Cube the butter into 1cm pieces and add to the flour and salt.  Gently rub the butter into the flour with your finger tips and thumb until it looks like sharp sand with a few small pebbles.


Grate most of the cheese into the flour and butter mix, saving some for the top of your scones.  I like to use a dinner knife to stir the cheese into the flour – I find it disperses more evenly that way.

Again using the knife to mix, slowly add the milk – you may not need all of it.  You want a soft, malleable but not gloppy texture to your scone dough.  Once it has all come together, gently shape into a ball with your hands and place on a floured work surface.

Using your hands or a rolling pin, flatten the dough to roughly 2cm in depth.  Any thinner and you’ll end up with cheesy Welshcakes (ooh, now there’s a thought!).  Cut out your scones using a small circular cutter in a sharp downward motion, if you twist the cutter as you use it then the scones can sometimes rise in a rather wonky manner.  Not that I mind anything wonky and rustic looking!

You should get about 6-7 normal scones and 1 funny shaped scone from the trimmings (I always like the funny shaped one, baker’s perks you know).  Place on a lined baking tray, brush with milk and sprinkle over the remainder of the cheese and some smoked paprika if you fancy.


Bake in the centre of the oven at gas mark 4/180c for about 20 minutes until risen and golden.

Serve warm with the soup and lashings of proper butter!


An experiment

I’ve already got a very active starter bubbling away in my kitchen, made using the flour/water/grapes method and wanted to get another going to show you how it develops.  I noticed that there were instructions for a starter on the back of the flour packet so I thought I’d give that one a go to see how it compares.

starter2My current starter took about 4 days to be ready for baking with, this one suggests up to 7 days.  It’s a simple method … just 70g of flour and 70 ml of water mixed until it looks like beige gloppy stuff.  Each day you add a bit more flour and water until it starts to bubble and smell yeasty.  I’ll keep you updated with my new babies progress!

starterday1Tomorrow I’ll be making a chocolate orange loaf, and I’ll be sure to share the recipe 🙂

From flour and water…

… to the backbone of family feasting.


Sourdough Diaries

Baking is magic.  Real, tangible magic.  Take some simple ingredients, mix them together, add some heat and you have (hopefully – we all have disasters) something that looks great, tastes amazing and satisfies your soul on numerous levels.

I bake when I’m happy, I bake when I’m sad.  Baking and creating is my Prozac! I don’t often eat much of the finished food, it is the process that delights me, although given a plate of warm chocolate brownies I will disappear for a while …

Most recently I’ve discovered sourdough.  From 3 initial ingredients you can end up with a never ending variety of savoury and sweet breads, cakes and pancakes.  I started using Paul Hollywood’s recipes and they have been a brilliant success with my family of 4 hungry children.  Tomorrow I will get a new starter going so you can how it develops and becomes the most magical kitchen ingredient I’ve found.