Raspberry Ripple Melting Moments

Raspberry ripple is beyond doubt a real taste of summer and these melting moment cookies will fit perfectly into any Jubilee or summer celebration you might be planning. These melting moments biscuits, so called due to their wonderful melt in the mouth shortbread texture, are also sometimes referred to a yo-yo biscuits.

Either way, you can’t go wrong with a sandwich biscuit especially when the filling is as delicious as this raspberry ripple cream.

These cookies are pretty enough for any tea party with their pastel pink and white, delightfully fruity raspberry ripple cream filling. Not only do they look great, and taste even better, but travel and keep well making them the perfect choice for a picnic.

Raspberry Ripple Melting Moments

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

makes about 20 sandwich biscuits

150g dairy-free margarine

65g icing sugar, sifted

1 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)

pinch of salt

55g custard powder or cornflour

175g plain flour

Freeze-dried raspberry powder (if you have it)

1.     Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 4

2.     Line 2 baking sheets with parchment

3.     Beat together the margarine, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.

4.     Sift in the flours 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. If you have the freeze-dried raspberry powder, dip the prongs of the fork into the powder before flattening the biscuits.

6.     Bake for 12 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 raspberry ripple cream. To make a ripple effect, scoop a dollop of the raspberry cream, then scoop a dollop of the vanilla onto the same spatula and swirl onto the cookie.

Raspberry Ripple Cream 

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

60g dairy-free margarine

220g icing sugar

½ tsp vanilla paste (or extract)

1 tbsp raspberry puree

1.     Make the raspberry puree coulis by pressing 50g fresh raspberries through a fine sieve.

2.     Whisk the margarine with 200 g of the icing sugar and vanilla paste until it is all incorporated. Halve the mix, and add the raspberry puree and extra 20g icing sugar to one half. Mix to make a wonderfully pink cream. Place in the fridge to firm up before using.

Savoury Herby Soda Bread

It seems to me that savoury bakes and snacks can be harder to make and source if you avoid things like eggs, milk, sesame and nuts. Maybe that’s because I’ve become more and more adept at creating interesting sweet dishes, and there’s so much variety when you take into account cakes, biscuits, breads, chocolates and sweets. Or maybe, you miss those ingredients even more in savoury items – there is certainly a reliance on cheese, nuts and seeds when you look at savoury offerings.

For savoury items, there always seems to be a point where you want more than crisps or plain crackers (of only certain varieties mind), but you want something interesting and appetising. This might be a quick snack or an exciting addition to a soup or salad for lunch, and if it can be made in a flash then that’s always a bonus.

Thinking of quick, soda bread came to mind. Bread can be the highlight of a meal or a wonderful snack to graze on whilst waiting for the main event.

This version uses curdled soya milk to replace the buttercream which gives superbly authentic results, plus a super savoury ‘cheese’ and chive vibe to fit with my craving for more savoury bakes in our repertoire. If you’ve ever made my equally delicious savoury scones you’ll be familiar with the flavour profile. 

If you like other herbs then just sub them in; rosemary and thyme would be rather nice, as would the softer parsley or chervil. The beauty of this bread is that it really is quick – you can have it made, baked and ready in about 40 minutes – perfect for those times when you find the bread bin empty!

We ate this loaf, fresh from the oven with a spicy lentil and coconut soup (a delicious Ottolenghi recipe) and then warmed up the next day as a tasty addition to a picky bits lunch. Do you have those, or is it just us when we’re trying a use up the contents of the fridge but still have an interesting lunch!

Savoury ‘Cheese’ and Chive Soda Bread

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

 makes 1 loaf

210g soya milk

15g vinegar (white wine or cider)

1 tsp marmite

300g plain flour

20g oats (plus a few more to scatter on top)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

2 tbsp chives

1 tsp dried oregano

30g dairy-free butter/margarine, cubed

40g dairy-free cheese, cubed (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Line a baking sheet with parchment
  2. Pour the milk into a jug, add the vinegar and marmite and leave to ‘sour’
  3. Place all the other ingredients except the butter and cheese into a bowl or stand mixer.
  4. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips, or using the paddle attachment.
  5. Stir the soured milk and pour into the dry mix. Bring together to a very soft dough. Stir in the cheese cubes, if using.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently knead to form a smooth ball, you’ll probably need a fair amount of flour
  7. Transfer to the lined baking sheet and sprinkle over a few more oats. Cut a deep cross in the top (this will help let the carbon dioxide created by the bicarb and cream of tartar escape in a controlled fashion). Let sit for 20 minutes, uncovered on the worktop
  8. Place in the prewarmed oven and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 170 degrees Centigrade and bake for a further 15 minutes until golden and crusty. (30 minutes baking time in total)
  9. Cool on a wire rack.

Best Ever Hot Cross Buns

Isn’t it tradition that you should eat hot cross buns on Good Friday? Well, it might be tight but you may just get these done in time!

I love making hot cross buns, i think it’s the warm spices that make the house smell heavenly whilst they’re baking. Besides, I think there is also something a bit special about seasonal bakes. You need to make the most of them whilst they’re around, so it’s hot cross buns for breakfast and tea all weekend! Ok, I know you can probably buy hot cross buns all year these days, but somehow that feels wrong – why not make them special and only make and eat them at Easter time, then you’ll appreciate them far more.

All of my hot cross bun recipes are great, have you tried the sticky toffee ones or the vanilla and spice, they’re both super special. But this recipe takes the texture and longevity up a notch. I’m using a technique i’ve recently learnt about creating a moister, brioche type dough. I’ve adapted the recipe to give a good double dosing of spice, easy measurements and an option of chocolate or sultanas (for some reason my family hate sultanas so I always have to make a choc chip version instead!) The resulting texture is so perfect, i’d definitely recommend giving these a go. Besides, the added fat gives a better shelf life and they keep loosely covered for a good 4 or 5 days (and they also freeze brilliantly). I know it’s already Good Friday, but i won’t tell anyone if you want to keep having these for the next few weeks too 😉

Best Ever Hot Cross Buns

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

Makes 18

500g strong bread flour

7g instant dried yeast

75g caster sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

340ml dairy-free milk

75g dairy-free butter (the one in paper rather than a tub)

75g chocolate, chopped or 75g sultanas

25g dried mixed peel.

  1. Place the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and spices into a bowl or a tabletop mixer bowl. Add the milk and bring to a dough. Knead for 10-20 minutes until you have a lovely elastic dough.
  2. Cut the butter into cubes and gradually knead into the dough. Make sure each bit is fully incorporated before adding the next bit. You should end up with a glossy elastic dough.
  3. Add in the chocolate/sultanas and mixed peel, make sure they’ve evenly spread.
  4. Cover with cling film and prove in the bowl for 30 minutes.
  5. Then line two baking sheets with parchment. Knock back the dough and divide into 18 even sized pieces. Roll into balls and place well spread on the baking sheets.
  6. Cover and prove at room temperature for 4-5 hours until about doubled in size.
  7. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees fan/170 degrees non-fan
  8. Make a batter for the crossed (equal flour and water) and pipe onto the top of the buns.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes until risen and golden.
  10. Remove from the oven and immediately brush with a hot sugar syrup (equal sugar and water, briefly brought to the boil)
  11. Enjoy fresh or keep loosely covered for up to 5 days.

Easter Bunny Cupcakes

Hoppy Easter! There’s not much cuter than a fun animal themed cupcakes, especially if it’s Easter bunny themed!

What could be more fun than some joyously decorated easter cupcakes, and these Easter bunnies borrowing into their cupcake burrows are sure to bring a smile to anyone who is lucky enough to be given one. I got the idea from a picture I saw online (sadly I can’t take full credit for the cute look) but have adapted this BBC Good Food idea into a Lucy’s Friendly Foods version. I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this cute addition to Easter.

As it’s Easter, it’s almost obligatory for chocolate to feature so the base of these cupcakes is a delicious rich and moist chocolate sponge – besides, in my opinion the chocolate makes it resemble a rabbit borrow, just a little bit!

I’ve made my Easter bunnies white, for some reason that seemed right, and so it’s vanilla heavy buttercream mounds garnished with fondant icing bunny feet and tails. You just need about ¼ of a pack of white fondant (Sainsbury’s own brand is may contain nuts but not peanuts, or Beau brand you can buy from Nutfree Marketplace is good for everyone)

Easter Bunny Cupcakes

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

 

Makes 6-8 cupcakes

150ml dairy-free milk

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

60g dairy-free margarine, melted

140g self-raising flour

3 tbsp cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

100g caster sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners.
  2. In a jug combine the milk, lemon juice, vanilla (if using) and bicarb. Set aside.
  3. Melt the dairy-free margarine, set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa and salt. Stir in the sugar.
  5. Pour the melted margarine into the milk mixture and give it a good stir. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together to form a smooth batter. 
  6. 2/3rds fill each cupcake liner and bake for 18-20 minutes until risen and a knife comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack.

White Vanilla Buttercream

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

enough to generously cover the 6-8 cupcakes in the recipe above

75g dairy-free butter or margarine

275g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste

½ tbsp dairy-free milk

Plus about ¼ pack fondant icing and a few drop of pink food colour

  1. Whisk the margarine until it is light and fluffy
  2. Add the icing sugar, vanilla paste and dairy-free milk and whisk until you have a light buttercream.
  3. Pipe or spread a generous amount onto the top of each cooled cupcake

To decorate: pipe or spread a mound of white buttercream  onto the middle of each cupcakes. Smooth well so it could look like a bunny bottom. Secure on two back feet (with pink toe beans for added cuteness) and a bunny tail, both of which are moulded out of fondant icing.

Pain Perdu aka French Toast

Pain perdu, French toast, gypsy toast, eggy bread – whatever you call it, this dish is a brilliant one to have in your repertoire. Basically, it’s a batter soaked stale bread made into a sweet or savoury dish, perfect for a quick breakfast, brunch, lunch, pudding or snack. Plus it’s a great way to use up some state bread, you can’t argue with a recipe that does that!

I’ve been attending a plant-based patisserie course to extend my knowledge and I’ve learnt so much, it’s been just brilliant and it’s really going to enhance my recipes 😊 

Last week we made brioche with no butter or eggs – I’ve made a brioche before but the techniques I’ve recently learnt give a much improved rich, but light result and it was the perfect bread to turn into a platter of pain perdu. Like many home baked breads, it went stale fast – making it the perfect vehicle for this new improved recipe.

Dairy-free and egg-free brioche

Don’t worry if you don’t have homemade plant-based brioche on hand (I’m sure not many people will!), any slightly stale sliced bread will do. You’d think you might miss the eggs in an ‘eggy bread’ recipe, but as the principle is soaking the bread in a batter (and pancakes work pretty well being egg-free), this recipe is equally successful. In fact, this recipe just uses some leftovers (stale bread) plus a few store cupboard essentials to combine to make a rather superior dish. If you don’t have any stale bread, just cut some slices an hour or so early and leave out to air dry and you’re good to go.

I’ve flavoured my batter with cinnamon but you don’t have to if you’d rather no spice, or vanilla would be rather lovely too. Serve your pain perdu with berries, a sprinkle of icing sugar and a squeeze of honey or syrup for a delightful quick and easy sweet treat.

Pain Perdu

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

30g flour

20g cornflour

30g caster sugar

½ tsp cinnamon (optional)

Pinch of salt

120g dairy-free milk

6-8 slices of slightly stale bread

  1. Sift the flour and cornflour into a shallow bowl, stir in the sugar, salt and cinnamon (if using).
  2. Pour in 1/3rd of the milk whisking together to make a paste, then add the rest in two further additions. This helps avoid lumps forming in the batter – you can of course add the milk in one go if you’re not so bothered about a few small lumps! Let the batter rest for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Place a frying pan on the heat to warm up.
  4. Place the bread slices in the batter, letting them soak up the batter for a couple of minutes before turning over and making sure both sides are drenched in batter.
  5. Melt a knob of vegan butter or 1 tsp of oil in the pan. Drop in a drip of the batter, if it sizzles then you’re ready to add the batter soaked bread
  6. Fry the slices until golden on each side.
  7. Serve warm, dusted with icing sugar and drizzled with syrup. A garnish of berries is also rather nice.

Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies (with or without a chocolate cream filling)

Yay, it’s Spring at last. Suddenly there’s light, warmth and colour popping up all over the place. If feels like a new start and I have this urge to add colour and flavour to my bakes.

I’ve got some exciting ideas with raspberry and lemon, but first up are these fun, extremely happy and colourful vanilla sprinkle cookies. How could a batch of these not make you smile and improve your day? Great as they are on their own, and they really are delicious, you can always make them even better with a wonderfully chocolate cream filling. Surely a filling improves any cookie, and with the sprinkle decoration and the chocolate heavy centre you’ve got a match made in heaven. These cookies do spread out quite a bit in the baking so mine are large, if you want to make small versions make the balls of dough olive sized and reduce the baking to around 8 minutes

 

Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies (with or without a chocolate cream filling)

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

 

Makes 10-12

112g dairy-free margarine

100g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste

155g plain flour

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

¼ tsp salt

Quite a lot of sprinkles – I used half a tube!

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment
  3. In a large bowl cream together the margarine, sugar and vanilla until well combined and lighter in colour.
  4. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt and mix to form a soft dough.
  5. Break off walnut sized pieces and roll in a bowl of sprinkles until totally covered
  6. Place well-spaced apart on the lined baking sheet
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until starting to turn golden.
  8. Let firm up on the baking tray and then move to a wire rack to fully cool
  9. Eat as they are or fill with the delicious chocolate cream (recipe below)

 

Chocolate Cream

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

60g dairy-free margarine

200g icing sugar

1 tsp dairy-free milk (if needed)

25g melted dairy-free chocolate

  1. Whisk the margarine  with the icing sugar until it is all incorporated, adding the milk if the mixture is too stiff.
  2. Stir in the melted chocolate.

Chocolate tiffin mousse cake – my Platinum Pudding worthy of The Queen

Have you tried my magic four ingredient chocolate mousse cake. if you haven’t you really should because it’s a fantastic showstopper made with just a few ingredients. Everyone i’ve ever served it to has loved it! So i thought I’d make a luxury version for my entry to The Platinum Pudding Competition. I was convinced it would be special enough to celebrate the Queen’s special year.

Well, sadly Fortnum’s didn’t think the same and I haven’t made it to the final. To be honest, I think they’re missing the trick, because the beauty of this recipe is that it works with any ingredients, free-from or not, and they can be bought in virtually any shop in nearly every corner of the globe. I even made it with dairy-cream and chocolate to test it out! That involved making it when no-one was home and then thoroughly sanitising the kitchen! Now that was dedication to the cause!


What could be a better, more inclusive celebratory pudding than one anyone can make, that everyone should easily be able to buy the ingredients for, and that can cater for everyone despite any dietary restrictions, and is delicious and celebratory? Well, The Queen might not benefit from this delicious pudding, but you all can. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.


The basic premise is a chocolate tiffin (allegedly one of The Queen’s favourite puddings) topped with a light mousse-like chocolate cream and then decorated with some white chocolate and glitter. In my opinion, it’s a definitely pudding fit for The Queen.


Chocolate Tiffin Mousse Cake

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


Makes one 18-20cm cake

85g dairy-free chocolate

60g dairy-free margarine or butter

2 tbsp golden syrup, honey or maple syrup

8 biscuits, roughly broken (such as digestives, ginger nuts or rich tea)

200ml (one pack) dairy-free whipping cream , I used Oatly whippable

150g dairy-free dark chocolate or 175g dairy-free milk chocolate

  1. Grease and line a springform cake tin
  2. Melt together the 85g chocolate, margarine and syrup.
  3. Roughly break the biscuits and add to the chocolate mix, stir well so they are well covered. Press into the base of the cake tin and place in the fridge to set.
  4. Whip the whipping cream on high speed for at least two minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  5. In a microwave or a Bain Marie melt the chocolate, let cool a little.
  6. Gently stir the chocolate into the cream until well combined.
  7. Pour onto the biscuit base and level off the top.
  8. Place in the fridge to set.
  9. Remove from the tin and decorate as desired.

Browns Brasserie

I’d always imagined that brasserie style restaurants would be no-go’s in the UK. This probably stems from a disastrous meal in a Brasserie Blanc when the girls were tiny and the allegedly safe meal came with a pile of buttered green beans sitting on top! That was an experience that scarred us!

Anyway, Browns Brasserie had been recommended by a fellow allergy mum and as we were having a day out in Oxford it seemed like the perfect opportunity to be brave and give somewhere new a go. Well, we were pleasantly surprised and will definitely return for another visit sometime.

 

The waiter was exceptionally good – as soon as we mentioned allergies he brought out the allergen menu and didn’t seem at all phased. He also confirmed that anything grilled would be cooked in a separate pan to ensure there was no cross contamination – this came from him, not from us asking. It was really impressive service.

The allergen info is on the glass onion app so it’s easy to peruse at home, and also simple to categorise via allergen. We’d spent a long time checking it out at home (as is often our way!) and discovered that while the menu was more limited for Little S, she could still have a variety of dishes (she avoids milk, eggs, peanuts and sesame seeds). Out of the adult mains she could have had a steak, a couple of fish dishes or a vegan curry or salad. On the children’s menu there was grilled chicken breast or tomato pasta. She opted for the grilled chicken, plus chips and peas. Big S (allergic to milk only) had the burger with no cheese. 

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience, the food was tasty and well presented and it felt a little bit more special than one of the usual allergy-safe destinations. I would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a nice meal out. 

 

The only downside was that there weren’t so many choice for me (the vegetarian) but that’s a small price to pay for a safe allergy-friendly, family-friendly meal out. A big allergy-applause to browns Brasserie from us. 😊

 

Sensational Scones

You’ve got to love scones; light, fluffy, just sweet enough and the perfect carrier for a delicious topping. No proper afternoon tea is right without a batch of warm scones, and this recipe always goes down a storm. You can even freeze them, defrost, pop into the oven for a couple of minutes and then you can have an elegant afternoon tea in a flash.

When we had our stressful tea at Pan Pacific we met Cherish Finden and she said that scones were the most difficult thing to recreate free-from. Now these aren’t gluten-free (but I know others who make them gluten-free), but I can assure you that these are just as good as a traditional scone. Go on, give them a go and let me know what you think?


The most crucial part of scone making is a light touch – you must add air whilst rubbing in the margarine and definitely no kneading! Just very lightly bring together the dough and you’ll have some sensational scones. Just add some jam and dairy-free whipped cream and you can have a sensational tea at home.


Sensational Scones

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

  • makes 10-12
    • 450g plain flour
    • 3 tsps baking powder
    • pinch of salt
    • 75g dairy-free margarine
    • 70g soft brown sugar
    • 300ml dairy-free milk
    • 1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
    • 2 tbsp Demerara or granulated sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 6
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the salt. Stir in the sugar.
  3. With your fingertips, gently rub in the dairy-free margarine until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  4. Make a well in the centre and pour in the dairy-free milk and vanilla essence (if using).
  5. Bring together to a very soft, sticky dough. Turn onto a floured surface and very gently bring together to a soft, smooth dough.
  6. Pat out with your fingers until 3 cm thick.– Cut out with a well-floured 6cm cookie cutter (or whatever size you choose)
  7. Place on an oiled and floured baking sheet. Brush the tops with dairy-free milk and sprinkle with Demerara or granulated sugar.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden on top.– Cool on a wire rack.

Tropical Granola Bars

 There’s something so handy about a cereal or granola bar, the can fit into so many situations – breakfast on the run, a quick pre-lunch snack, a picnic staple, or a post-workout refuel. As people are heading back into offices, these could be the perfect accompaniment to a sandwich in a packed lunch.

 When I used to go into an office regularly I always felt super pleased if I had a homemade packed lunch addition, rather than an additive filled less superior shop bought bar; hopefully these will make you just as pleased too 😊

This recipe is loosely based upon Yotam Ottolenghi’s Granola Bar recipe form the original ‘The Cookbook’, so you know they have good pedigree, and they have to taste delicious.

 

Tropical Granola Bars

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan, can be gluten-free if use gluten-free oats)

 Makes 8 large bars

 

22g dried cranberries or sultanas

22g dried mango, chopped

22g dried pineapple, chopped

120g oats

22g sunflower seeds

15g desiccated coconut

50g dairy-free margarine

50g golden syrup or honey

50g demerara sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

 

  1. Place the dried fruits into a bowl, cover with hot water and leave to soften for ten minutes. Then drain.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Centigrade
  3. Line a 2lb loaf tin with parchment
  4. In a bowl, mix together the oats, sunflower seeds, drained dried fruit and coconut and set aside.
  5. In a large saucepan melt together the margarine, syrup and sugar until the sugar has totally dissolved.
  6. Fold in the oat and fruit mixture, adding the salt and cinnamon. Make sure the mixture is well combined.
  7. Tip the mixture into the lined loaf tin, press down and level off.
  8. Bake for 22 minutes until starting to turn golden around the edges.
  9. Remove from the tin and cool completely before cutting into bars.
  10. These bars keep well for up to a week if placed in an airtight container.