Monday, 1 September 2014

No Waste Food Challenge August 14 Round Up

This month I have had the pleasure of guest hosting a challenge which covers a subject which is very important to me, having had the subject instilled in me from a early age.

Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary was gracious enough to let me take control of the No Waste Food Challenge and I have to say it has been brilliant to be one of the first to see all the inventiveness that goes on in the kitchen to use up what would otherwise probably have gone to waste. I hope all participants have enjoyed it too and that you are inspired by this large and wonderful collection which I can now present to you so here goes. 

Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog used up some sad looking blueberries and some rose syrup in this Summer Fruit Trifle. Packed so full of fruit it was an (almost) guilt free breakfast treat and a very successful quickly made alternative to a birthday cake. The birthday boy in question might just be requesting another trifle next year as well is my guess!
Laura from How To Cook Good Food used up some vegetable odds and ends from the fridge to go in these Okonomiyaki or Japanese Pancakes. Laura has been what I think is very brave, having tried a packet of pancake mixture without a translation so some of the flavourings were a bit of a mystery. Whatever is in them, I would really like to try them myself now though I confess I'd have to pass on the chopsticks and stick with a knife and fork.

Alida from My Little Italian Kitchen made these Stuffed Aubergines with Pasta in a Rich Tomato Sauce to use use some leftover passata. Roasted and hollowed aubergines act as little boats for a classic Italian pasta dish providing a lovely meal for a party.

Camilla at Fab Food 4 All used some gifted Mirabelle plums in this Mirabelle Plum Jam which looks so beautiful and jewel like atop a thick slice of bread and butter. Camilla recommends it both for tea time and breakfast which is a good thing as it was very popular with her husband. Scones and a cup of tea anyone?

Becky from Veghotpot made this Fresh and Herby Salsa Verde using herbs that weren't going to last much longer and has put it with a whole hosts of other foods since then. It looks so fresh and summery and flavoursome that it could be eaten straight from the bowl, a quick spoonful everytime you went in the fridge for something else. Becky provides some other useful information on soft and hard herbs and their best uses too.

Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Food For Families made this Sesame Chicken Stirfry to use up some some veg from the fridge because a new one was about to arrive. Well, I say Michelle made it but for once she got to relax with her daughters doing the cooking and her husband the washing up. A yummy meal and a night off? Perfect.

Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker made these Spiced Pumpkin and Apple Crumble Muffins to use up some leftover pumpkin puree, spare apples and the last of a bag of oats. Sweet and moist, each flavour is clear throughout - Ros even recommends adding pecans to add another texture and flavour, one which would complement those already there perfectly.

Chris from Cooking Around the World made this Pasta with Quadruple Cheese Sauce to use up some ricotta. This dish takes comfort food to the next level combining the different flavours of ricotta, gorgonzola, emmental and parmesan with the satisfaction that comes from pasta. I could be saved for those night when nothing but a huge cheesy hug will do but really any night be suit this.

Helen from Fuss Free Flavours made this fresh and zingy Green Goddess Dressing to use up some languishing corriander and parsley. It doesn't matter if you don't have either of these though because Helen recommends several alternatives saying that pretty much any fresh green herbs would perfect - perfect for those well intentioned bunches of herbs that never got fully utilised.

I made this One Pot Pumpkin and Tomato Spaghetti to use up some pumpkin puree, wine, tomatoes and herbs, without the intention of blogging the recipe but I was so pleased with it that I simply had to. Throw everything in a saucepan and ten minutes later you will have warming, rich and yes, healthy pleasure in a bowl.

My second entry this month was these Cheddar, Ale and Chive Muffins to use up some leftover ale from a slow cooker meal. It added extra depth and a certain lightness of texture to a muffin where the cheddar really came through. Fresh from the oven they were delicious but equally enjoyable cold or reheated in the microwave.

Janet from The Taste Space made these Savoury Chickpea Crumbles to use up some fridge odds and ends before  a move. Suitable as a meal on its own, as a side dish or a filling for something like a taco, the dish is ready quickly and can be adapted to suit individual tastes by using whatever spices you prefer.

Anne from Anne's Kitchen made this Spicy Chorizo Egg Fried Rice to use up some spring onions, an egg and some chorizo though notes that it's an ideal recipe for adding in what you like best or need to use up. Plus, if you use ready cooked rice it makes things even more fuss free than before. I love chorizo and have never though of adding it to fried rice but I know I will the next time I buy some.

Camilla from Fab Food 4 All used up some bananas to make these Banana S'mores as a quick post-BBQ pudding. The initial one was so appealing that her daughter wanted one too and it is no wonder with that boat of grilled banana turning the marshmallows and chocolate into molten enjoyment. 

Kate from The Gluten Free Alchemist made these Banana Coconut Crunch Trifles to save the early stages of biscotti recipe development from the bin.  Such a range of textures and flavours work in tandem to create something which was such a success another batch seems imminent. Doesn't the combination of chocolate, biscuits, caramel and coconut sound divine?

Linzi from Lancashire Food made this Blackberry and Rose Geranium Crumble in individual portions to use up some berries sourced from her own garden. There's something extra special about using homegrown or wild fruit in baking so amongst the fragrant compote and crunchy topping the berries are the stars of the show. What's more, the cumble is gluten free.

Kat, The Baking Explorer, used up egg yolks in these Chocolate Truffles finished four ways with either cinnmon sugar, coconut, chocolate sprinkles or hundreds and thousands. The richness of these and the intense chocolate flavour mean they will disappear very quickly so you might want to make a larger batch just in case.

Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes made these Wholemeal Vegan Banana, Blackberry and Cardamom Cakes to use up some bananas that had been forgotten about.   Needing a quick treat to watch the Great British Bake Off with these were ideal and they were finished off pretty quickly too. The second batch using Nutella and apricots sound like they will be equally, if not more, moreish when they come out of the freezer.

Becky from Mint Custard made this Monday Pie using chicken and veg leftovers but notes that all sorts of things could go in there from bacon bits to stuffing. Pies made from leftovers are my absolute favourites because you can make it something different each time and you know you will enjoy it because you like all the components in the first place, otherwise you wouldn't have bothered to save them to enjoy again!

Sudha from Spicy, Quirky and Serendipitous made this dish of Eggs with Mint and Spinach to use up some leaves she found looking rather lonely in the fridge after returning from a holiday. Add some green curry paste and ginger and Sudha proves a simple omelette can act as a vehicle for a wealth of flavours in every bite.

Elizabeth, my No Waste Food Challenge co-ordinator from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary made this Heritage Wheat Wholegrain Pizza with Summer Pesto and Grilled Vegetable to use up some remaining flour and courgettes. With this, Elizabeth managed to convince even her traditional meat and tomato pizza championing husband that vegetable grilled to perfection to bring out all their true flavours have a place on a pizza. That to me sounds like enough of an excuse to experiment some more and if this pizza is anything to go by, any subsequent version will be just as beautiful.

Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker adopted some abandoned croissants to make this Marmalade Chocolate Croissant Pudding as an alternative to traditional bread and butter. The only trouble with something that combines buttery flakiness, marmalade tang and dark chocolate hints is that it calls for a repeat pudding to be made - not a problem for my tastebuds!

Michelle from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families made this Mega Veg Pizza/Pasta Sauce to use up some vegetable that had been in the fridge for too long. Looking so bright and cheerful, yet comforting and warming at the the time, this really is a multi-tasking sauce being able to hide a variety of vegetable and suitable to use thick for a pizza or a pasta dish or thinned down as a soup.

Kelli from Food to Glow made these Beet Tops and Courgette Tartlets to use the prettily coloured leaves of beetroot. Most of us will be guilty of throwing these away or at best adding them to the compost pile but after reading Kelli's informative post about the goodness and vitamins contained therein, we really have no excuse. I really like the idea of getting as much out of a plant as possible and if you have gone to the trouble of growing the beetroot yourself, all the more reason to get back as much of the energy you have put in as possible. 

Corina from Searching for Spice gave some leeks which were starting to droop a new lease of life in these Cheddar and Leek Muffins. Light and moist with clearly present flavours, Corina deemed her first attempt at making savoury muffins a success and very tasty. Watch her blog because there might be a few other recipes on it in the future. 

Rosie from Eco-Gites of Lenault made this Marrow and Ginger Jam to put to use a courgette that had grown into a marrow, a fate which a lot of courgette growers can sympathise with. Admittedly an unusual combinaton, it should not be dismissed because the ginger adds so much. The preserve can then be enjoyed with a multitude of things - I'm tempted to try this myself and put it in a Victoria sponge without telling my mum!

Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe made this Strawberry, Halloumi and Greens Salad to use up odds and ends from various other bakes. An ideal quick meal full of refreshing ingredients to enjoy and relax with after an exhausting action packed day. I've never tried combiing strawberries with halloumi but I really want to now, especially how Johanna has served it chunky style.

Voh from Vohn's Vittles is on a mission to convince people that haggis is really worthy of ordering when eating out and enjoying at home too and made these Ulster-Scots Pasties to prove it using the leftovers of a Burn's supper i.e. haggis, turnips and potatoes. If you want to try haggis but the thought puts you off then these are the best place to start because it is well disguised, combining the traditions of two nations - the deep fried and delicious sausagemeat and potato pasties of Ireland and the haggis of Scotland. 
Vanesther from Bangers and Mash created this Griddled Squash with Feta, Mint and Chilli to prevent a glut of homegrown pattypan squash from going to waste. Vanesther says the squash didn't hold together as well as the original aubergine would have done but if anyone did notice, which I highly doubt, I don't think they would care with how delicious the dish sounds as it stands. The combination of creaminess, freshness and spice in the filling really does sound addictive.

Laura from How to Cook Good Food made this Smoky Black Bean and Chorizo Soup to use up some leftover chorizo. Warming and spicy with a subtle Mexican hint it is possible to have this soup whizzed up in little more than seven minutes. Weeknight meals are calling for this to be made.

Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker rounds us off now with this Apple, Plum and Almond Crumble Cake made using some plums that would otherwise have gone to waste because the harvest was so bountiful. Spiced with lots of different textures from the sponge mix, apple chunks, plum slices and oaty nutty crumble this is a fruity cake to enjoy as an introduction to autumn on its own or with the extra luxury of custard or cream.

Phew! That is a whole lot of entries and delicious recipes covering pretty much all meals and tastes. It just goes to prove what lovely things can be made with ingredients that could so easily be dismissed so well done to everyone for your culinary artistic skills and thank you for entering them. Thank you also once again to Elizabeth for letting me host - I've really enjoyed it and will hopefully see you all again another time. In the meantime, for Septembers entries head over to Chef Mireille's East West Realm. Have fun!

The Biscuit Barrel Challenge - September 14

Happy Birthday Biscuit Barrel! Yep, the Biscuit Barrel challenge has been going a whole year this month. I can't believe how fast the time has gone. So many wonderful entries in all this time and I've received so much support. I can't thank all those who have taken part enough.
Last months theme was no-bake with the thought that the weather would mean fewer people would want to turn their ovens on. I was just a little bit wrong on that score though because we had mostly rain and cold dreary autumnal days. No themes based on the weather this time round though so instead, with the thought that there are quite a few birthdays to celebrate this month (including my own) I'm setting the theme as....


As always, you can interpret this any way you like as long as the result can fit into a biscuit container of some description. This could mean party cupcakes, special cookies, biscuits you would serve at a birthday tea, decorated treats, maybe even just some special sprinkles if that is your type of thing. I can't wait to see what you come up with. Any doubts, just ask!
The Biscuit Barrel Challenge rules:
  1. Blog about your recipe that fits in with the theme of the month, linking back to I'd Much Rather Bake Than... Include the logo in your post and add 'The Biscuit Barrel' as a label.
  2. Follow I'd Much Rather Bake Than... using the Google Friend Connect Button.
  3. Add the link to your post to the linky tool at the bottom of the post of the month. The link up closes on the 26th.
  4. The recipe can be your own or someone else, just give credit where it is due. You can also add old posts as long as they have been updated to include the logo/link/label.
  5. You can submit as many recipes as you like and enter your recipe into as many other challenges as you wish.
  6. Don't be concerned about joining in every month. When you have time or when you feel like it is fine.
  7. If you are on Twitter tweet your link to be @MustBakeCakes and use #biscuitbarrel and I'll try to retweet those I see. I'll also pin entries onto the Biscuit Barrel board on Pinterest.
  8. Any questions feel free to ask in a comment or email at
- See more at:
The Biscuit Barrel Challenge rules:
  1. Blog about your recipe that fits in with the theme of the month, linking back to I'd Much Rather Bake Than... Include the logo in your post and add 'The Biscuit Barrel' as a label.
  2. Follow I'd Much Rather Bake Than... using the Google Friend Connect Button.
  3. Add the link to your post to the linky tool at the bottom of the post of the month. The link up closes on the 26th.
  4. The recipe can be your own or someone else, just give credit where it is due. You can also add old posts as long as they have been updated to include the logo/link/label.
  5. You can submit as many recipes as you like and enter your recipe into as many other challenges as you wish.
  6. Don't be concerned about joining in every month. When you have time or when you feel like it is fine.
  7. If you are on Twitter tweet your link to be @MustBakeCakes and use #biscuitbarrel and I'll try to retweet those I see. I'll also pin entries onto the Biscuit Barrel board on Pinterest.
  8. Any questions feel free to ask in a comment or email at

Saturday, 30 August 2014

My Favourite Madeira Cake

Sometimes simple is best. Classic buttery crumbed cake spruced up with nothing more than a favourite pretty tin and maybe a breath of icing sugar. Enter Madeira Cake. 

I've been posting a lot of bordering on over the top recipes recently. Not content with a simple Rice Krispie treat I added peanut butter and white chocolate. No courgette loaf will ever acceptable in our house without added cocoa and two lots of chocolate chunks. To my certain glee, courgettes can also be hidden in Nutella Stuffed Brownies and if they aren't devilishly chocolatey enough there is always my Overloaded Brownies. And yet there will always, always be a place in my heart for Madeira cake.

We've actually been here before. Almost a year ago I set out to find my ideal Madeira cake recipe after getting fed up with there not being a definitive one. Some used ground almonds, some used lemon zest, some extra flour, some whacking great wedges of candied citrus peel on top. I wasn't having it. Despite trying many of them over the years none came close to the M&S Madeira that Mum and I used to pick up on our shopping trips into town. Yes, a shop bought cake was more enjoyable than homemade. 

Until now.

This, for me, is it. My ideal Madeira cake recipe. The conclusion to the Madeira Cake Story if you will. A simple creaming method utilises every bit of patience a baker can give to capture as much air as possible to create a mixture that is on the point of becomming a mousse before it is baked into a crumb of feathery silk. Fresh from the oven fragility transforms to a beautiful suppleness by the time it reaches the tea table.

Sometimes all it takes is the most basic of ingredients to make something of the highest quality. Take them separately they are nothing. Take them together and they are fit to rule. Butter equates to elegance alongside the high class company of ground almonds and a hint of freshness of the lemon zest. The soft baked crust and golden hue underneath queitly, but confidently, declare that this is a cake to be enjoyed unadulterated.

No cream, no sprinkles and for probably the only time I will say this, no chocolate. Tea is the only accompaniment necessary. See? I can do traditional. Not plain and simple though. A good Madeira is anything but.

print recipe

My Favourite Madeira Cake
A true English classic. Soft buttery crumb kept moist by ground almonds, with a hint of lemon zest in this golden hued cake.
  • 175g softened butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 150g plain flour
  • 75g ground almonds
  • Splash of milk
  • Icing sugar to dust (optional)
1. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and grease and flour a bundt tin, making sure it reaches into all the shapes (melted butter is best for this). Alternatively line a 8" round, deep cake tin withbaking paper.2. Beat the softened butter until pale and creamy then beat in the caster sugar. Continue to cream the butter and sugar on high speed until very light and fluffy in texture, scraping down the sides periodically. Mix in the lemon zest.3. In a jug whisk the eggs and almond extract then mix in spoonful dribble at a time, thoroughly mixing in between additions. The more gradually you add the eggs, the less likely the mixture is to curdle and the more air incorporated. If it does threaten to curdle, mix in a spoonful of the measured flour.4. Sift and fold in the flour, baking powder and ground almonds in two batches using a metal spoon or spatula. Be gentle but thorough. Fold in a splash of milk to get a soft dropping consistency.5. Pour into the cake tin, smooth the top and make a small dip in the centre (or a channel in a bundt tin) with the back of a spoon to help the cake rise more evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 mins until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for half an hour or so then gently turn out and cool completely. Dust with icing sugar if you wish.

I'm linking my Madeira cake recipe to Lucy's CookBlogShare party for all types of baking over at Supergolden Bakes.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Biscuit Barrel August 14 Round Up

Goodness, how quick has August gone? Any month is going far too fast for my liking though because that makes it all the closer to my final year. 

I warn you now that I will most likely make a massive wail and fuss over final year of my Chemistry degree but I hope you will stick with my through all my moans. For now though, let us all distract ourselves with this brilliant selection of no-bake goodies.

First up is Angela from Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me with these Chewy Toffee and Salted Cashew Nut Cookies. Incredibly simple, if you are a fan of the salty/sweet combination these are certainly for you. I'm a nut fanatic at the moment after seeing how quickly they've made my nails grow and so these are a bit of a danger to have near me.

Caroline from Caroline Makes has come up with a rather delicious Strawberry Marshmallow Mousse which is ideal for these warm summer months when you want something fruity without the effort. The marshmallows add a different texture and the whole thing is something I'd probably be eagerly scraping the dish clean of because strawberries are my favourite after all.

Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker has adapted a previous recipe for these Chocolate and Peppermint Squares. I was a big fan of the original so how could I not be of this new version?  Similar to minty individual cheesecakes, a crushed Oreo based is topped with such a refreshing cream cheese mixture that I can practically taste the cooling mint already.

Kate from the Gluten Free Alchemist has managed to make marshmallows even more addictive with these Marshmallow Party Bites. Kate recommends them for childrens party but if I could make a request, I'd have them at a party of mine too - they couldn't be more fun with their dip of chocolate and coating of cheery sprinkles. 

Stuart from Cakeyboi has been very clever this month with his Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pinwheels.  The peanut butter/chocolate combination take what could also be called a health bar to a whole new level while the swirl make them so fun. Definitely one way to get extra fruit down children - if there is any left after I've been at them.

Janine from Cake of the Week has also beenmaking something which is already addictive dangerously more so with these Popcorn Squares. I'm glad a packet of popcorn ended up being forgotten because otherwise these may not have been created and the next time I have an excuse, I'm going to make these for sure. Complete with sprinkles of course.

Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary created these Triple Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites to provide a solution to the need to occupy her children when they were forced to stay indoors. The only trouble was, they were so nice, their portion were gone in now time and Elizabeth admits herself that they are very addictive.

You wouldn't think a Lemon Meringue Pie would be able to fit into a biscuit Barrel but Caroline from Caroline Makes has managed it with the individual portions of this deconstructed version. Using crushed biscuits to evoke the flavours of pastry, lemon curd, whipped cream, a mini meringue and lemony sprinkles you canbe enjoying this in mere minutes.

The Baking Explorer aka Kat made these Chocolate Truffles to use up some egg yolks that were leftover from another bake. An intense chocolate hit smooth enough to melt in your mouth, it is no surprise that these didn't last very long, expecially with the variety of finishes Kat offered. 

Rebecca from BakeNQuilt has taken a classic and turned it into a no-bake version with these No Bake Peanut Butter Blossoms. Simple ingredients come together in an oatmeal based dough finished off with a kiss of chocolate, Rebecca says the hardest part of this recipe is no eating them all in one go.

Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog made these Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispies to take on a trip to visit her peanut butter loving mother-in-law and has stated that they will be made again they were that good. The peanut butter and sweet milk chocolate is a winning combination every time and even just typing it has made me want some - any crumbly bits are property of the chef.

Helen from Family Friends Food has personalised crispy cakes by adding spices and dried fruits to make these Spiced Chocolate Fruit and Nut Crispy Cake Bites. The added health factor from the fruit and nuts may make them just that little bit more dangerous because I wouldn't feel as guilty about eating more than my fair share, even though they are so intense. I'm good with intense desserts!

I've left my own entry unitl last because embarrassingly, my own linky tool wouldn't let me add it. At least now I can present my Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats. I made these for my nephews to take with them on a long car journey but thoroughly taste tested them before hand and decided the combination of white chocolate and peanut butter is my new favourite over milk or dark chocolates. The topping is the most dangerous part because before it gets poured on top and sets it invitingly calls to be eaten as is.

That's it for another month and thank you to all those who entered. If it was possible to get hyper on sugar simply from reading about things you want to eat then I certainly would have managed it after writing this. Thankfully I can't so I can survive another month to give you a new theme in a few days time.

P.S. The Treat Petite theme was also No Bake this month so we have had some of the same entries. Why don't you pop over to Cakeyboi to see Stuart's round up and read what delicious things he has to say about them too?