Honey Madeleines

A French classic…with a twist!

This recipe takes around 15 mins to prepare and approx 10 mins to bake.

Ingredients (makes approx 16 madeleines)

  • 2 Large eggs
  • 100g Plain flour
  • 65g Caster sugar
  • 100g Margarine / butter
  • 25g Honey
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • Flaked almonds for the tops
  • Icing sugar to serve

Prep work

  1. Set the oven to 190degC (fan).
  2. Brush the madeleine tin with butter, then cool the tin in the freezer for a couple of minutes. (After cooking, this layer of butter will make the madeleines easier to pop out of the tin, and will give them a lovely brown colouring.)
  3. Repeat with another layer of butter, and leave the tin in the freezer until ready to use.
  4. Melt the butter on the hob and put to one side to cool.

Making the mixture

  1. Whisk the eggs, vanilla, sugar and honey together, ideally using an electric whisk or mixer. After a few minutes the mixture will become voluminous, pale and will look like a mousse.
  2. Sift the flour into the mixture.  Add the salt and ground almonds.
  3. Fold the flour and almond mix into the mixture with a metal spoon.
  4. Add the melted butter, a little at a time. Continue to fold until there’s no longer any streaks of butter visible.

Bake

  1. Fill the madeleine tins about 3/4 full to allow space for rising.
  2. Sprinkle flaked almonds on top of each madeleine.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes, turning after 5 minutes.
  4. When the madeleines are golden and springy, they’re ready.
  5. Tip them out onto a cooling rack.
  6. When cool, dust with icing sugar to serve.

Madeleines conjure up images of sunshine and carefree days in my mind. I like to bake delicate cakes to mark the start of spring-time.

As an added bonus, these little beauties will keep for 4 or 5 days in a tupperware tub. That way, the joy can linger for just that little bit longer.

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Inspire

I recently attended a ring making workshop. The workshop was hosted by Aimi of SilverZoo (who makes stunning handmade silver jewellery) in the studio space of the stylish (but still quirky) Geek Bothy, which is in Kemnay.

Needless to say, I loved the class immensely. I savour the chance to make things and be creative. Getting to make something which is both practical and beautiful is even better.

There were 8 attendees at the workshop, which was perfect, as there were enough of us to start a little chit-chat, but not too many so as to slow down the class when we required to take turns at completing particular tasks. The ever patient Aimi kept us on the straight and narrow throughout, and even made us a wee cup of tea as we waited for everyone to arrive.

After choosing whether to make 2 wide rings, or 3 thinner ‘stacking rings’ (I went with the stacking ring option), we started off with some basic calculations in order to work out the length of silver wire needed for each ring. There were groans of “But I’m not good at maths” and gasps of “Can I use a calculator?” from around the room. However, as you’d expect from a studio full of competent women, we sailed through the ‘sums’ section and straight onto the measuring and cutting (being sure not to injure ourselves with the the snips).

We learnt to file, match the edges, and form the ring ready for soldering. The soldering element was one of the most satisfying parts of the process; fluxing the join then popping a small square of silver over it before using the blowtorch to evenly heat the ring and allow the silver flake to flood across the connection. This formed a secure joint. The ring was next dunked in cold water to cool it down, and then placed in a warm acid bath for a couple of minutes to return its shine.

The rings were roughly filed to remove any large chunks of flux, then prised over a metal mandrel and hit with a plastic hammer to give the ring a lovely even circular shape. After shaping came more filing, followed by sanding, and then eventually polishing.

We had the option to create textures on our rings using the various patterned hammer heads which Aimi had collected. I opted for one textured ring (using a hammer face with deep set diagonal lines), then left one round-wired ring and one square-wired ring as plain but polished. When worn together they look like sister rings; part of a set, but each unique.

The couple of hours I spent in the studio that Saturday has inspired me to spend more time making things, and ultimately learning new crafts and skills. The happy glow I walked out of the Geek Bothy with lasted all weekend. Even now, every time someone asks about my rings, I beam with pride, like a 7 year old showing off their latest masterpiece.

It’s never too late to be inspired.

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Oat cakes

Traditional Scottish oat cakes are the perfect lunchtime accompaniment. I like mine with cheese, butter and onion chutney, but they are also delicious with soups and stovies.

This recipe takes around 10 mins to prepare and approx 22-24 mins to bake.

Ingredients (makes approx 18 small oat cakes)

  • Pinhead oatmeal (175g)
  • Plain flour (75g)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 pinch of salt
  • Butter (75g)
  • Cold water (approx 100ml)

Making the mixture

  1. Set the oven to 180degC (fan).
  2. Weigh the oatmeal, flour, baking powder, caster sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir to combine.
  4. Melt your butter on the hob.
  5. Add the melted butter to your dry mixture and combine thoroughly.
  6. Splash a little water into the mixture until it is wet enough to hold together.
  7. Roll out the mixture thinly onto a floured work-surface.
  8. Using a cookie cutter, cut into rounds and place on a floured metal baking tray.

Baking

  1. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 180 degrees C
  2. Bake for a further 10-12 minutes at 160 degrees C
  3. Leave to cool on a wire rack before serving.

They’re so quick and easy, you’ll never buy shop bought oat cakes again!

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Carrot Loaf Cake

Carrot cake is the best of all the cakes. (In my opinion, at least!) This loaf cake recipe is quick, easy, and most importantly – tasty!

This recipe takes around 20mins to prepare and 1 hour 15mins to bake.

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf)

  • Vegetable oil (140ml)
  • 2 eggs
  • Light brown sugar (200g)
  • Grated carrots (300g)
  • Raisins (100g)
  • Self raising flour (180g)
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp mixed spice

Icing ingredients

  • Cream cheese (180g)
  • Butter (40g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • Icing sugar (200g)
  • Zest of one lemon and one orange

Making the mixture

  1. Set the oven to 150degC (fan).
  2. First, line a standard sized loaf tin with grease proof paper and give a quick rub with a drop of oil.
  3. Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Grate the carrots.
  5. Add the oil, brown sugar, carrots and raisins into the mixing bowl and mix to combine.
  6. Sift the self raising flour into the bowl, followed by the salt, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice into the bowl.
  7. Mix thoroughly.
  8. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and place in the oven for approximately 1hr 15 minutes.
  9. Check that a skewer comes out clean and transfer to a wire rack to cool. (Keep it in the tin for the first 10 minutes before turning out onto the rack)

Prepare the icing

  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl using a metal spoon.
  2. Add the vanilla essence and half the grated zests.
  3. Sift the icing sugar and mix until the icing is smooth.
  4. Spread the icing over the cooled cake.
  5. Top with the remaining lemon zest

Make sure you store the cake somewhere cool to prevent the cream cheese icing from running or spoiling.

To be fair, it probably won’t hang around long enough to spoil – everyone will be after a slice!

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Banana Bread

Banana bread is the perfect autumnal recipe for cosy evenings at home!

This recipe takes around 20mins to prepare and 1 hours to bake.

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf)

  • Margarine (100g)
  • Caster sugar (100g)
  • Self raising flour (225g)
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 to 4 bananas (depends on size!)
  • 2tsp mixed spice

Making the mixture

  1. Set the oven to 150degC (fan).
  2. First, grease a standard sized loaf tin using a slither of margarine.
  3. Measure out the margarine and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Cream the marg and sugar together using the back of a spoon.
  5. Next, sieve the flour into the mixing bowl, followed by the baking powder and a pinch of salt.
  6. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly until completely combined. The mixture will be slightly stiff (don’t worry!)
  7. Place the bananas into a plastic bowl and mash with a fork until mushy.
  8. Beat the mashed banana into the cake batter, allowing plenty of air into the mixture, and ensuring that the banana is evenly distributed throughout.
  9. Add the mixed spice and stir well.
  10. Pour mixture into the tin & bake for approximately 1 hour until well risen and firm to the touch.

Finishing Touches

  1. Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
  2. Once cooled, cut into slices and serve.

(I recommend a large cup of tea as an accompaniment x x )

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Malteser Slice

One of my mum’s recipes… this has been super popular in our house for at least 25 years! It really never disappoints!

This recipe takes around 20mins to prepare and 3 hours to set.

Ingredients (makes 1 tray)

  • Margarine (115g)
  • Golden Syrup (3 table spoons)
  • Milk chocolate (255g)
  • White chocolate (450g)
  • Digestive biscuits (225g)
  • Maltesers (225g)

Prepping the base

  1. Measure out the margarine, syrup and milk chocolate into a Pyrex mixing bowl.
  2. Set up a “bain-marie” (that’s some boiling water in a saucepan with a glass bowl sitting on top!)
  3. Allow the chocolate mix to melt, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, crush the digestive biscuits in a food bag with a rolling pin.
  5. Lightly crush your Maltesers in a second food bag – make sure there’s a mixture of well crushed and barely crushed Maltesers.
  6. Once the chocolate has melted, add the crushed digestive biscuits to the mixing bowl and stir.
  7. Add 3/4 of the crushed Maltesers and stir once more.
  8. Lightly grease a high edged baking tray.

Completing your Malteser slice

  1. Pack your chocolatey biscuit base into the baking tray. Level and smooth the mixture as best as you can.
  2. Set up a second bain-marie with your white chocolate, mixing occasionally.
  3. Once the chocolate has fully melted, carefully pour over your biscuit base.
  4. Smooth out your white chocolate and sprinkle the remaining crushed Malteser pieces over the top of the chocolate.
  5. Transfer to the fridge to set for a couple of hours.
  6. Once set, cut into (large!) portions before serving and devouring!

This recipe is perfect for parties, bake sales and picnics! (And is so easy to make!)

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