Friday, 15 January 2016


Rachel says:

Here's a recipe to round off the festive bunch - really, this should have gone first as it's one that can be made well ahead of time! I made this one month before Christmas, but you can make it much earlier if you plan well! So long as you keep feeding your cake with alcohol, it will keep preserved and the flavour will only get richer. Traditional Christmas cakes usually are iced with a layer of marzipan followed by a layer of royal icing, but I omitted the marzipan and used a fun fondant make from melted marshmallows. The fondant naturally took on a 'snow-capped' look, which was perfect for the festive holiday!  

Ingredients (makes 1 x 9" round cake)

500g mixed dried fruit
zest and juice of 1/2 orange
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
75ml brandy, whisky or rum
125g softened butter
100g light brown sugar
85g plain flour
50g ground almonds
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
50g flaked almonds
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

Marshmallow fondant frosting

300g white marshmallows
550g icing sugar
1 tbsp water
Small decorations - I used edible gold stars


1) Put the dried fruit, zest and juice, alcohol, butter and sugar in a large pan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Turn down and simmer for 5 minutes, before tipping the mixture into a large bowl and leaving to cool for 30 mins.

2) Heat your oven to 150C/gas mark 2/130C fan oven. and line a 9" cake tin with baking paper.

3) Add all the remaining ingredients to your fruit bowl and stir well, making sure there are no lumps or pockets of flour left. Pour the batter into your cake tin and smooth down the surface. Bake in the middle of the oven for 2 hours (your house will smell amazingly festive during this time!)

4) Remove the cake from the oven and poke holes in it with a skewer or chopstick. Leaving the cake in the tin, spoon over the top 2 tbsp of whichever alcohol you're using and let it cool completely.

5) Once cool, remove the baking paper and wrap tightly in cling film. Store in an airtight tin, taking it out every two weeks to feed it with 1-2 tbsp of alcohol. Don't feed it for the final week before serving it, to give it a chance to dry out before icing.

For the fondant

1) Over a double boiler, melt down the marshmallows with a splash of water. This will take a while, but just keep stirring to prevent catching and it will get there eventually. This can also be done in the microwave, by heating in short bursts.

2) Once smooth, stir in the icing sugar until it forms a paste.

3) Transfer the paste to the top of your cake - I used my hands, but it was very messy, so I'd advise spoons! Use a spatula or knife to create peak and swirl patterns in the fondant. Sprinkle over your decorations and tie a festive ribbon around the cake. Merry Christmas!


Rachel says:

I made my own mincemeat this year for mince pies, and although it can be quite time consuming it’s very satisfying! I made this batch in the slow cooker, although I did see recipes that don’t require any cooking time too. Unfortunately I didn’t have any allspice, which I think is actually a critical ingredient to mince pies, so don’t skip this ingredient like I did! You’ll need to leave all the ingredients to soak overnight before slow cooking, so give yourself plenty of time.

The best part of these mince pies I found was actually the pastry, which I fell in love with! It’s incredibly short, like shortbread, so takes a bit of effort squishing into the tins but is definitely worth it.

Ingredients (makes 6 mince pies)

For the mincemeat:
100g apples
50g vegetarian suet
160g mixed dried fruit
30g candied peel
60g dark brown sugar
Zest and juice from ½ orange
Zest and juice from ½ lemon
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon
20ml brandy, port or whisky (I used cognac!)

For the pastry: 
150g cold butter
235g plain flour
70g caster sugar
pinch salt
1 small egg, for glaze
brown sugar/flaked almonds, for decoration

Slow cooker
Sugar thermometer


For the mincemeat filling:

1) In a large plastic or glass bowl, mix together all the ingredients apart from whichever alcohol you're using. Cover with clingfilm and leave overnight. Pour into your slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours, stirring every hour to prevent the mixture catching.

2) Once your mixture has reached 150C on a sugar thermometer, turn off the slow cooker and leave to cool before stirring in the alcohol and decanting into sterilised jars*. (see note on sterilising below)

For the pastry:

1) Dice up the cold butter and rub it into the flour until you have a texture like breadcrumbs (this can also be done in a food processor). Mix in the sugar and a pinch of salt.

2) Combine the pastry into a ball without adding water - there should be enough butter in the mixture for it to hold together. You can leave it in the fridge to chill until you're ready to use it.

3) Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6/fan 180C and grease your baking tray.

4) Spoon around 1 tablespoon of pastry into each pie hole and press into the shape of the base, using your fingers. Make sure there aren't any gaps by pressing extra pastry in where necessary - but ensure you leave enough pastry dough for the lids.

5) Fill your pies 2/3rds full with mincemeat.

6) Using the remaining dough, make small balls and flatten them between your hands to make the pie lids. You don't need to seal the lids on as they should stick on their own.

7) Beat your egg and brush over the tops of the pies - sprinkle over a dusting of brown sugar and flaked almonds.

8) Bake for 20 minutes in the centre of the oven, until golden. Leave them to cool completely before removing from the tin - they will become more resistant as they cool down, and you'll be left with amazing, crumbly, melt in the mouth mince pies!

*To sterilise your jars, you can put them in the dishwasher or wash with hot soapy water, then place on a baking sheet and put in the oven on the lowest setting until they're completely dry.


Rachel says:

Making chocolate at home is super quick, easy and you can choose how expensive it has to be! The recipe below uses a 1:1 cocoa butter & coconut oil ratio, but I also experimented with using all coconut oil, and all butter. The coconut oil lends a lovely light taste to the chocolate, and a less greasy texture than all butter. Cocoa butter is the best ingredient to use, but can be quite expensive – hence the 50/50 split!

I bought a chocolate mould from Amazon, but prior to that I lined a baking tray with cling film –anything that will lie flat while the chocolate sets should be just fine! The benefit to the chocolate mould of course is getting the nice squares or decoration. Definitely use a whisk during the cooking process – otherwise you might end up with lumps. 

Ingredients (makes 2 x 200g bars chocolate)

30g cocoa butter
35g coconut oil
75g icing sugar
25g milk powder
30g cocoa powder*

* The real trick here is to ensure you get good quality cocoa powder (not hot chocolate) – I used Green & Blacks.


1) Create a double boiler using a large glass bowl – make sure the bottom doesn’t touch the water in the pan.
      2) Add your cocoa butter & coconut oil to the bowl, and stir occasionally until it’s completely melted
      3) Add icing sugar and whisk until dissolved
      4) Add the milk powder and cocoa, and whisk until dissolved.

e    5) Remove from the heat and pour into your mould. Leave to cool, then transfer to the fridge and chill until set (this should take 2 hours) 

Thursday, 7 January 2016


Rachel says:

I handmade all my Christmas gifts for family this year (under the misguided idea that I would save a few pennies!) but had a lot of fun doing it. They went down a treat and it was great to have a reason to try out recipes that I wouldn’t ordinarily go for. This lebkuchen had a lovely soft, dark spiced flavour that became richer over the Christmas period (and I think the only reason they lasted so long was because we were all at festive maximum stomach capacity). Don’t be put off by the amount of honey in the recipe, it’s where the chewiness lies!

Ingredients (makes around 40 cookies)

100g butter
250g honey (for a darker flavour, try 125ml treacle, 125ml honey)
120g brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger powder
½ tsp clove powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
2 tsp cocoa powder
440g plain flour

  1) Add the butter, brown sugar, honey to a small saucepan and stir often until the sugar has dissolved – around 5 mins.
   2) Meanwhile, add all the other remaining ingredients to a large bowl.

   3) Tip the contents of your saucepan into this mixture, and give it a good stir with a wooden spoon until everything is incorporated.

   4) The batter will be quite warm – leave it to cool down for an hour (don’t put it in the fridge)

   5) Preheat the oven to 180C/160 fan/gas mark 4 and line two trays with baking paper.

   6) On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1cm and cut out the gingerbread with your cookie cutters (or un upturned glass if you don’t have any!) If the dough is too sticky, add a small amount of flour and knead until it’s malleable.

    7) Bake your cookies for 9-10 minutes – they will be slightly soft to touch, but will harden up once they’re out of the oven. They will expand slightly too so don’t crowd them on the trays. 

   8) Once cooled, you can decorate the lebkuchen any way you like. I made a simple white icing using icing sugar & water and brushed it over some – others I brushed with melted dark chocolate and sprinkled over edible stars. Enjoy! 

Friday, 6 November 2015


Laura says:

It's been a very long time since I've made a yeast-rising bread (even longer than the great Pudcast hiatus of 2011-2015).

I feel silly admitting it but I absolutely guessed and improvised my way through this, right down to not even using real measurements. But that shows how actually not scary and forgiving bread making can actually be!

And it's even gluten free. You can adapt to make it gluten-filled by replacing the rice flour with a 50/50 mix of wheat-white flour, and skipping the xanthan gum. Keep the flax though- flax is great.


1/2 cup warm water
1 packet yeast
pinch of sugar

1 cup brown rice flour (or wheat flour)
1 cup gluten free flour blend, like Bob's Red Mill (or whilte flour)
1 cup flax meal
2 tbsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp salt

2 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup buttermilk (or unsweetened nondairy milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice)
1/2 cup olive oil

chopped nuts / dried berries / herbs / cheese / whatever you feel like throwing into this bread, optional

1) Mix yeast, water, sugar, set aside. The trick to this part is using water that is neither too hot, or too cold, and keeping it somewhere warmish until it foams up.

2) Mix dry ingredients. Stir in wet ingredients, starting with eggs and ending with oil. Then add yeast. If you're using the gluten free flours, dough should be slightly sticky, and you only need to stir the dough for 3 minutes to activate the yeast-- kneading not necessary. If you are using regular flour, dough should not be sticky, so add more white flour until it is dry to the touch.

3) set in an oiled dutch oven or bread pan, cover with towels and let rise for 30 minutes.

4) Bake at 375 until golden brown, about 30 minutes. I kept the dutch oven lid on while baking.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015


Laura says:

This cake was for a fellow black cat lover and good friend. Months ago she hosted a party and I brought a banana brownie cake with peanut butter ganache. She requested the same exact cake for her birthday, except I went a step further and made peanut butter ganache AND chocolate coconut mousse. I also attempted to make a from scratch brownie that would rival my usual go-to, the Ghiradelli Double Chocolate kind (spoiler alert, these brownies are BETTER).

This brownie recipe is easy, too! It passes the one bowl test, and more importantly, the crinkly top chewy fudgy test. And yep, better than the boxed stuff. They don't need the frosting, but the recipes for those are listed below, and good news- they are easy too!

Chocolate chip brownies


1/2 cup (115 g) butter
8 oz (228 g) semi-sweet or dark chocolate, either chopped or in chip form (quality counts but these were still delicious using store brand chocolate chips so... you do you)
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 g) brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 banana, mashed (optional)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (80 g) all purpose flour
1 cup (180 g) semi sweet or dark chocolate, either chopped or in chip form

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F / 180 C / gas mark 4

2) Melt the butter and 8 oz chocolate. Let cool, whisk together with sugar.  Add eggs one at a time and continue whisking. Add vanilla, banana, cocoa powder and salt.

3) Fold in flour. Add chocolate chips. Pour into a prepared 8x8 or 9x9 pan and bake for 35-40 minutes (but check them! my oven is always a little faster and they were done after 30).

If you want to go a step further and make the ganache and the mousse:

Peanut butter ganache

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut oil

Melt, cool, spread on cake. Stick in the freezer until it hardens.

Chocolate coconut mousse

1 can coconut cream (the extra thick kind- if not available, use canned coconut milk but leave out some of the water)
3 tbsp peanut butter
6 tbsp cocoa powder
sugar, until desired sweetness

Whip with a hand blender until it gets nice and fluffy. I find it spreads easier on cakes if you freeze it for an hour first.

Friday, 30 October 2015


A great way to put candy corn to good use

Laura says:

I found this recipe somewhere on pinterest, listed as "homemade butterfingers" and tried it out last fall as and have been dreaming of it ever since. It's like a butterfinger... without that annoying, stuck-in-your-teeth quality. This time around I decided to add pretzels for some salt and crunch.

The secret you'll-never-guess ingredient is candy corn, guys. Candy corn! Everyone on earth except for me hates candy corn. I love eating about five pieces of it every year and then I hate it by the sixth piece. So this recipe is a great excuse to buy some, eat a little, and then melt the rest into peanut butter and make magic happen.

Whatever your feelings on candy corn are, in this recipe they become merely a supporting actor to help the peanut butter really shine. Then you coat everything with pretzels and chocolate. Most people don't even suspect that those evil little tri colored waxy devils are hiding in there.

Magic Peanut Butter Pretzel Bark


1 bag of dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 bag of candy corn, chopped up
1 jar of peanut butter
sea salt

1) Prepare a baking sheet with a liner of baking paper

2) Set up a double boiler. I use a very improper makeshift set-up of a glass bowl over a small saucepan. Fill the sauce pan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.

3) Melt bag of chocolate chips and 1 tbsp coconut oil over the double boiler, spread about half it on the baking sheet and stick into freezer to cool. The rest of the melted chocolate can sit at room temperature and probably will still be nice and melty when you need it at the end.

4) Melt one 16 oz jar of peanut butter over a double boiler. Mix in candy corn and 1 tbsp coconut oil. Stir constantly so that all clumps are out. This takes a while but keep stirring and be patient. Chopping it finely helps. Remove from double boiler and cool for a minute.

5) Remove baking sheet from freezer, scoop peanut butter candy corn mixture onto the chocolate and press down so it is flat. Press pretzels into the mixture. Drizzle remaining chocolate over top.

6) Freeze again, and once fully cooled, chop into pieces.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015


Rachel says:

This pie was inspired by a recent bank-breaking trip to Whole Foods (which trip isn't?) in which I wandered in to kill time on my lunch break and left with pumpkin beer, a pumpkin and a raw pumpkin pie pot. The raw pie totally surpassed any expectation I had of it - it was the smoothest, silkiest pumpkin filling sitting on top a little crumble of coconut, nuts and dates. I had to try and re-create it! The recipe below is something of a 'first draft' - I made a simple pumpkin pudding with almond milk rather than blending cashew nuts to make the filling, as I suspect the Whole Foods version is constructed - and I used figs for the base, whereas next time I think I'll use dates, which have a less distinctive taste. Overall though the pie was lovely and light, and I was pleased to have made a completely vegan dessert! Unfortunately, that didn't last long after the double cream made an appearance... Oops. 

Ingredients (makes one 9" pie)

For the crust
1.5 cup dried whole figs
1 cup nuts (I used cashews)
1/4 cup dried coconut
1 tablespoon oats
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger

For the filling
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
pinch salt
1 2/3 cups almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

To assemble
1 x 9" pie dish or baking tray

1) To make the filling, add the spices, sugar, salt and cornflour to a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Add pumpkin puree, stir, then add milk and stir again.

2) Place over a medium heat and slowly bring to a bubble (not a boil), whisking frequently. Once it starts to get thick, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until when you run a spoon through it, it leaves a trail.

3) Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then pour into a glass bowl and cover with cling film - you must ensure the cling film is touching the surface of the pudding, as this will prevent it forming a film.

4) Once cool, transfer to a fridge for several hours until it's completely set.

5) Meanwhile, prepare your crust. Tip the figs into your food processor and pulse until it forms a ball - then remove it to a small bowl. Add the nuts, spices, coconut and oats, and pulse until a thick meal has formed - then add back in the figs a little at a time until a 'dough' has formed.

6) Butter your pie dish, and press the dough into the bottom and up the sides until it's a uniform thickness all the way across - make sure there are no gaps. Leave to chill in the fridge.

7) When your pudding is ready, pour it into the pie crust and smooth it out with the back of a knife or spoon. Return it to the fridge to chill for a few hours or overnight. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015


Rachel says: 

I adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen (who in turn had adapted it from Baked Elements) as I found the dough far too wet to work with after my first prove! 

However, after getting the dough malleable enough to roll, it resulted in super soft, squishy rolls that still managed to hold their structure and were sturdy enough to hold the filling. In my recipe below I've decreased the liquid and increased the flour measurements, however, it's always best to add flour a little at a time until you reach a perfect consistency. As with all yeasted bakes these buns are time consuming, but worth it! 

For the dough:

45g unsalted butter (split between dough & filling)
50ml milk (lukewarm) 
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
250g plain flour
25g light brown sugar
25g white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
80g pumpkin puree (about 1/3rd cup)
1 small egg
oil for greasing the bowl

For the filling:

80g muscavado sugar
25g white sugar
pinch salt 
1tsp cinnamon

For the glaze:

50g cream cheese 
1 tablespoon milk
120g icing sugar
drop of vanilla essence


1) Melt your butter in a small saucepan - you can also brown the butter at this stage for a deeper flavour (keep cooking over a medium heat until the sizzling calms down and golden bits form). Leave to cool slightly.

2) Stir yeast into the warm milk and leave for 5 minutes in a warm place (e.g. on top of your stove) to bloom. 

3) Add the flour, sugar, salt and spices to an electric mixer. Add 1/4 of the melted butter and stir until it's combined. Add the yeast/milk mixture, pumpkin puree and egg, and mix again until combined. Attach your dough hook and run for 5 minutes on low. 

4) Scrape the mixture into a large oiled bowl and cover with cling film. The mixture will be soft, but shouldn't be too loose. Leave to prove for 1 hour in a warm place. 

5) While you're waiting, grease and line a 9" round cake pan with baking paper.


6) Once your dough has visibly risen (it should have doubled in size), scoop it out onto a very well-floured surface and sprinkle the top liberally with flour. Knead lightly. It's at this stage that you may have to keep adding more and more flour to reach the correct consistency (springy, and not too wet to roll).

7) Using a rolling pin, roll your dough out into a large rectangle. It should be around half a cm thick.  


1) Mix together the filling ingredients in a small bowl. Brush your dough slab with the reserved melted butter (all the way up to the edges), and sprinkle the mixture over it, leaving a small border at each edge. This will help the buns to stick when you roll them up.

2) Now is the fun part! Starting on a long side, roll the dough up like a sausage roll, and press the opposite longest edge so it's nice and secure. Mark out quarters, then eighths on your log to help get the portions even. Using a serrated knife, slice your buns into 8. 

3) Place your buns into your prepared baking tin, sprinkle over any sugar that's escaped from the filling, cover with cling film again and leave for prove number 2 in a warm place for 45mins. 


1) Preheat the oven to 350F/Gas mark / C, and bake your buns in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes, or until puffed up and golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack. 

1) In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese and icing sugar. Gradually add the milk, stirring until the frosting is a light spreading consistency. Once the buns are cool enough, top each one with frosting.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015


Rachel says: 

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, and if I can find a way to make it more like dessert, then that's a double win. Here's a quick recipe for bircher muesli that will mean starting your day the parfait way!

Ingredients (makes 4 servings)

Any soft fruit you please (I used strawberries and a pear), chopped into inch-size pieces
150ml cranberry juice
2 cups porridge oats
Half a pear (or sweet apple) 
2 cups milk (I used soya)

1 tablespoon honey
1 tsp Greek yoghurt
Flaked almonds

1) Add the chopped soft fruit and cranberry juice to a small pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins until the juice starts to reduce and becomes slightly syrupy. Leave to cool overnight. 

2) In a bowl, grate your half apple or pear into the oats, and add the milk. Add the honey & cinnamon and give a good stir. The oats should be just about submerged in the milk. Leave to soak in the fridge overnight.

3) Once you're ready for breakfast, give the oats a good stir and add a splash more milk if you'd prefer a looser consistency. They should be soft and sweet, having absorbed the flavour of the honey and pear/apple. 

4) To assemble: spoon some of the cranberry soaked fruit mixture into a tall glass, top with a serving of soaked oats, and spoon some Greek yoghurt on top. Drizzle over the remaining soft fruit mixture and scatter some flaked almonds on top. Enjoy!

You could of course adapt this any way you like - I think adding nuts to the oats, or substituting the oats completely for muesli would work great.