Rhubarb Granita

There’s a lot of rhubarb around at the moment, but what to do when it’s a scorcher of a day and rhubarb crumble is not the most ideal dish for the menu? Why not try this gorgeous candy floss pink, icy and refreshing rhubarb granita instead? Maybe you think you’re not a rhubarb fan? Well this recipe has converted rhubarb haters after one just one taste and this frozen pud will delight everyone either in the hot weather like today or as a wonderfully interesting palette cleanser.

This granita has none of the bitter, sour stringyness you can get from a bad rhubarb dessert, instead it’s tangy, sweet but sour and really rather delightful. The tart zingy icy crystals are wonderfully refreshing and you’ll be sure to look at rhubarb in a whole new light. I added grenadine this time for added colour and a touch a sweet fruitiness but it’s still delicious without. Go on give it a go, and let me know what you think 🙂

Rhubarb Granita

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, gluten-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes enough for 4-6 portions

400g rhubarb

150g sugar

150ml water

1-2 tbsp grenadine (optional)

1. Wash the rhubarb and chop into 5cm lengths.

2. Place in a saucepan with the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and let it bubble along for up to 30 minutes until the rhubarb has completely broken down.

3. Strain through and fine sieve and let the liquid cool. Stir in the grenadine if using.

4. Place in a container and freeze until just frozen (at least a few hours in the freezer). Break up with a fork and enjoy the tart tangy icy crystals

Easy Cinnamon Bun Twists

I love an easy pastry, one of those recipes that throw a few ingredients together and end up with a superb tasty sweet treat that everyone wows over. These easy cinnamon bun twists are just that, taking only a few minutes and little skill to end up with something that’s sure to get plenty of compliments. After all, who doesn’t love the sweet combination of spiced sugar with flaky crisp pastry?

These little puff pastry twists filled with a sugar and cinnamon mixture, akin to the filling of a cinnamon bun make a drool-worthy delicious pastry. Serve them as a quick homemade easy breakfast cinnamon roll, a perfect addition to coffee time or as a dessert with a pile of berries and some cream or ice cream.

The twisting may make these pastries look fancy but it’s terribly easy – just hold both ends and twist each away from each other until you have a loose ringlet of dough. Once baked they’ll puff up into a delightful twist of deliciousness. You don’t need to add the icing but i do think it makes them seem a bit more like a cinnamon bun, and who doesn’t love a little drizzle of icing?

Easy Cinnamon Bun Twists

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 8-10

1 pack ready make puff pastry (ready rolled is easiest as you already have the required rectangle)

2 tbsp dairy-free margarine

3 tbsp caster sugar

3 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp icing sugar to dust the pastries before baking

water icing (3tbsp icing sugar mixed with 1-2 tsp water)

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade and line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment
  2. Roll out the puff pastry and spread half with the margarine, sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon
  3. Fold over and cut into 8-10 stops with the one end being held together where the join is (it’s easiest to use a pizza roller)
  4. Twist each strip into a pastry ringlet and place on the lined baking sheet. Dust with the 1tbsp icing sugar
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown.
  6. Cool and then drizzle with the water icing.

Popcorn cereal bars

Next up in the recipes from cupboard odds and ends and these stunningly delicious popcorn cereal bars.

Big S and I have been on a mission to organise our larder. It’s quite an ongoing project but we’re going from a chaotic cupboard stuffed full to the seams to beautifully tidy pantry full of stacked glass jars and neat baskets of packages. It’s so rewarding! I keep going and opening the doors and admiring our work.

In organising we’ve come across so many odds and ends and multiple packs, they all had to be put to good use. The little bag of popcorn we came across made me think of those Pret popcorn bars. Do they still exist? By no means food allergy friendly, they were quite tasty. Then I found some oats and the dregs of a box of cornflakes. These seemed to make a coherent combination.

On testing it’s actually a stunning combo – toasty oats for a flapjack feel, cornflakes for the cereal taste and texture and popcorn for salty, sweet chewy hits. These bars have been declared delicious and already made twice! I urge you to make a batch for the week ahead – you’ll have a very happy family/friends 😀

Popcorn Cereal Bars

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, peanut-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 8-10 big bars, 16-20 small bites

50g oats, toasted

50g cornflakes

17g popcorn

80g caster sugar

120g golden syrup

60g Biscoff spread

85g dairy-free dark chocolate

  1. Spread the oats onto a baking sheet and bake in a medium hot oven (180 degrees centigrade) for 15 minutes until toasty
  2. Melt together the sugar, syrup and Biscoff spread until you have a thick smooth mixture. Stir in 15g of the chocolate.
  3. Stir in the oats, cornflakes and popcorn mix until everything is coated in the rich caramel sauce
  4. Press into a loaf tin lined with parchment. I used a 2lb loaf tin which is perfect for the amount quoted about. If you want to make more, double the quantities and use a standard square baking tin.
  5. Place in the fridge or a cool place to set.
  6. Melt the remaining 70g chocolate and drizzle over, leave to set.
  7. Cut into bars or squares.

Cupboard raid cookies

I’m really into baking with what’s to hand at the moment. Restrictions maybe easing here but I think I’ve gotten used to not just nipping to the shops whenever I fancy, and instead fully planning before each shop. But despite meal planning, more often than not an idea strikes and I don’t have the ingredients in, then I’m in a pickle! So to avoid disappointment I’ll take the other approach of opening the pantry doors and seeing what’s around. More often than not some interesting combination can be dreamt up on the hoof. That’s where these cookies come from, a good amount of time staring into the open larder and coming up with plans! We often seem to have bits and bobs of a variety of snacks hanging around and that made me think of Compost Cookies.

Compost cookies are very popular in the USA and the Milk Bar version seems particularly popular (at least on the social media channels I follow) but they’re not familiar in the UK. Compost Cookies are basically a cookie at which you’ve thrown in everything lurking in the kitchen cupboards, resulting in soft cookies studded with salty and sweet morsels with interesting textures. I’m not so keen on the term compost cookie, it doesn’t sound too appetising to me, hence my version ‘the cupboard raid cookie’ (well at least I think the name was concocted by me!)

You could add almost any snack like ingredient to this recipe but I’ve opted for pretzels (salty crunch), salted crisps (more salt), oats (substance), chocolate chips and crushed up biscuits (sweet crunch). I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out, crisps in cookies does sound like a step too far, but they are actually pretty delicious with the sweet salty crunchy ingredients really adding to the flavour profile. Go on have a rummage and see what you come up with 🙂

Cupboard Raid Cookies

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 12

110g dairy-free margarine

100g caster sugar

80g soft brown sugar

1 tbsp cornflour

1 tbsp dairy-free milk

1 tsp essence of choice (caramel or vanilla work well)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

225g plain flour

40g assorted chocolate chips

20g broken pretzels

20g salted crisps

20g oats

20g crushed biscuits

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Centigrade (160 degrees Centigrade fan). Line two cookie sheets with baking paper
  2. Cream together the margarine and sugars until light and fluffy.
  3. Whisk in the cornflour, milk and essence.
  4. Sift in the flour, salt and baking powder and stir to make a soft but not sticky dough. Stir in the chocolate chips. Then very gently fold in the other additions (remember you can add whatever you like!)
  5. Roll into golf ball sized rounds and slightly flatten. I like to press a pretzels piece into the top of each one.
  6. Place spread apart onto the baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes until turning slightly golden around the edges. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets until they’ve firmed up and then move to a wire rack to enjoy.
  7. These will last for a good few days in a sealed container.

Venus Beach Cafes, Devon

After probably the longest winter in living memory the restrictions in the UK are starting to be relaxed and suddenly we don’t need to stay at home, or more recently stay local. We live in a particularly beautiful area but sometimes you also really feel the need to widen your horizons, and particularly get a bit of sea air!

By a fluke of luck we had a mini-break booked in Salcombe, South Devon to start on the 12th April, the day self-catering holidays were first allowed. Boy, were we lucky! We’d only booked it up as we’d been in October just before the November lockdown and had the most horrifically wet and stormy weather and we really wanted to go back and see what Salcombe had to offer. Luckily for us 3 nights were available (the only available dates until October 2021!) and so back in November we snapped them up. For a while it didn’t look like we’d go, but fate was smiling down on us and all the dates slotted into place and we got our holiday! It was so fabulous to go away, enjoy some beautiful beaches and the cute winding streets of the town.

When we visited in October we went on a day trip to Bigbury on Sea and checked out Burgh Island (famous for Agatha Christie and the setting for some of her novels) and warmed ourselves up with tea in the Venus Cafe. Warming our hands on the steaming mugs we noticed the menu looked pretty awesome for us, all allergens clearly stated, plenty of vegan/veggie options and even a selection of safe ice creams. We couldn’t resist and scoffed down Swedish Glace cornettos despite the in climate weather, and then needed to warm up again. Cue a sharing plate of some of the best chips we’ve ever tasted!

Burgh Island

Consequently we were very keen on return to the Venus cafe on this visit. It turns out there are 4 Venus cafes in the Devon area – Blackpool sands, Bigbury on Sea, East Portlemouth and Millendreath, and whilst I’ve only eaten at the Bigbury one, if the others are just as good then they’re well worth hunting out.

Luna our Cavapoo on Bigbury Beach

The Venus cafe is just what you want from a beach cafe, a good selection of ice creams, cooked breakfasts, burgers and toasties and amazing chips! We had to eat outside as that is all that is allowed right now, but what a treat. Delicious safe burgers (toastie for me) and chips followed by ice creams. We couldn’t have asked for a better beach cafe experience.

Not only is the Venus cafe allergy aware but they’re also pretty hot on sustainability, local ingredients and introducing packaging solutions that are kinder to the environment. Venus cafe, we’re big fans of you, your food and ethos, and in our experience you deserve a big allergy applause 🙂

Triple chocolate hot cross buns

My it’s been a long hard Winter! But at last things are starting to look brighter and the first signs of spring are hitting at the same time as an early Easter. It’s such a joy to see the spring flowers burst through and the first real warm sunshine of the year. It seems like a hopeful time.

Easter means plenty of hot cross buns and chocolate so why not combine both to get the best of both worlds! I really enjoy making hot cross buns, they’re pretty simple but there’s something magical about the soft dough, sweet spice and gorgeous shine.

I have a lot of flavour varieties on my site (just put hot cross buns in the search bar!) but these are particularly rich and decadent so I would urge you to give them a go. Plus the white cross on the dark chocolate dough is particularly striking!

The big question is what variety next? I’m thinking a savoury version (inspired by those cheese and marmite/cheese and chilli ones from M&S), so what this space as I’ll hopefully be able to develop it before next weekend!

Triple Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 9-12

460g strong bread flour

40g cocoa powder

1 tbsp dried yeast

3 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp mixed spice

400ml warm dairy-free milk

2 tbsps melted dairy-free margarine

100g dairy-free chocolate chips (I used a combination of milk, dark and white)

for the crosses:

2 tbsp flour

3 tbsp water

for the glaze:

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp water

  1.  In a large bowl mix together the flour, cocoa, yeast, sugar, salt and spice. Make a well in the centre and pour in the dairy-free milk and dairy-free margarine, bring together to form a dough (adding more flour if too wet, or more liquid if too dry)
  2. Knead for about 5 mins until the dough is smooth
  3. Place in a bowl and cover, leave in a warm place to double in size
  4. Knock back, knead again and then form into 9-12 even sized balls. Place well spaced on a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper
  5. Leave to rise again for 10-20 minutes
  6. Mix together the water and flour to make a paste and pipe onto the top of the buns in crosses. Bake at 190 degrees/Gas Mark 5 for 15-20 minutes until risen and the buns sound hollow
  7. Make the glaze by dissolving the sugar in the water and boiling briefly. Brush over the hot buns.
  8. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  9. These buns are best kept loosely covered or the glaze will make them go a bit soggy.

Ginger Cream Yo-Yo Biscuits

Woo hoo, it’s December! After the longest year in living memory we’re finally getting to the fun end bit. I’m going to try and add some extra cheer to this festive season (and my, we need some extra cheer this year!) with an exciting ‘12 days of Blogmas’ and a whole bunch of new delicious festive recipes.

There is something so exciting about all the baking opportunities in the lead up to Christmas – I just love making sparkly tasty treats and beautifully packaged homemade gifts. Well, who doesn’t like some extra sparkle and glitter?

Like lots of people, we’ve decided to do Christmas big time this year, all whilst remaining in our little family bubble. That means less large family gatherings and more Christmas themed food, fun games and decorating big time!!

I’m kicking off Day 1 of ‘Blogmas’ with  these delightful ginger cream yo-yo biscuits. Heavily spiced crumbly biscuits sandwiches together with a lemon scented cheesecake cream. What’s not to like with that combination? These are a perfect start to December, ideally enjoyed with a steaming hot drink and sitting by a roaring open fire.

Ginger Cream Yo-yo Biscuits

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes about 12 sandwich biscuits

150g dairy-free margarine

65g soft brown sugar

2 tsp ground ginger

pinch of salt

55g custard powder or cornflour

175g plain flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 4
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment
  3. Beat together the margarine, sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Sift in the flours, spice and salt to form a very soft, but not sticky dough.
  5. Make large marble sized balls and place on the baking sheet (try to make an even number). Flatten with the back of a fork.
  6. Bake for 15-17 minutes
  7. Cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before moving to a wire rack.
  8. Once completely cool, sandwich together with the cream.

Lemon Cheesecake Cream

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, can be soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

25g dairy-free cream cheese

40g dairy-free margarine

200g icing sugar

zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 tsp lemon juice

  1. Whisk the margarine and cream cheese with the icing sugar, zest and juice until it is all incorporated. Place in the fridge to firm up before using.

Brownies with a Biscoff Swirl

Brownies are such a popular and useful sweet treat. They work equally well as a cake, snack or a pudding; we particularly like a warmed brownie with ice cream and caramel or magic chocolate sauce – mmmmm pure pudding heaven. Since it was chocolate week on the Bake Off and brownies were one of the challenges I had to post a brownie recipe. In the show the contestants went for decorated brownies which mainly ended up too sweet and sickly. In my opinion a brownie doesn’t feed much adornment – instead it’s all about the chocolate flavour.

However, this version with a subtle Biscoff swirl manages to look gorgeous and also enhance the flavour without overpowering the chocolate. Since these brownies are extra rich and decadent with plenty of melted chocolate stirred in, the sweet Biscoff swirl works a treat, adding a smooth sweetness than plays well against the chocolate. The resulting brownies are luxurious, intensely chocolatey with a super Biscoff swirl, what could be better?

Brownies with a Biscoff Swirl

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

4 tbsp cocoa powder

150g self-raising flour

110g caster sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 tbsp flavourless oil, I use sunflower

250ml dairy-free milk

100g dairy-free chocolate, melted

4 tbsp Biscoff spread

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Line a brownie tin with parchment
  2. In a bowl, mix together the cocoa, self-raising flour, caster sugar and salt.
  3. Pour in the oil, milk and vanilla and mix to form a smooth batter
  4. Stir in the melted chocolate (this will make the batter much stiffer)
  5. Transfer to the lined brownie tin and level off.
  6. warm the Biscoff spread so it becomes runnier, dollop over the brownie batter and using the handle of a wooden spoon swirl it though
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. It should be a bit gooey looking in the middle. Cool fully in the tin before cutting into portions.

Quick fix biscoff twix

I came across this idea of making a Twix style bar and topping it with Lotus Biscoff spread rather than caramel and immediately had to make a friendly version. Twix bars are sadly missing from our free-from lives and since crunch, Biscoff and chocolate are a match made in heaven, we needed them in our lives as soon as possible. I’ve used dark chocolate as I think it contrasts better with the sweet Biscoff spread, but feel free to use your favourite kind of chocolate.

You basically make some shortbread fingers, top with a good helping of Biscoff spread and then liberally coat in chocolate – what could be simpler? You could make these in moulds for added beauty, but these bars were all about speed and there’s something cosy and comforting about the free form homemade style!

Quick Fix Biscoff Twix Bars

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes approx 20 shortbread fingers, half of which will get a Biscoff and chocolate top

  • 225g plain flour
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 150g dairy-free margarine (I used Pure sunflower)
  • 1 vanilla pod (I left it out as didn’t have one, but it’s much nicer with)
  • half a jar of biscoff spread
  • 120g dairy-free chocolate
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade
  2. Line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment
  3. Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the sugar and vanilla
  4. Add the dairy-free spread and rub in with fingers. Once it starts to combine, bring together to form a soft dough.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1cm thickness.
  6. Cut into even sized finger shapes
  7. Place on the lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Then turn the baking sheet round and bake for another 10 minutes.
  8. Once the shortbread is golden brown remove from oven. Cool on the baking sheet.
  9. Place the Biscoff spread into a piping bag and pipe a stripe onto of each finger
  10. Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie or a microwave and coat each biscoff finger with an even coating of chocolate and then leave to set