Cakes & Bakes: Honey almond brittle biscuits

Home-made honey almond brittle biscuits and cup of tea | H is for Home #recipe #biscuits

As with many of you out there, there’s been severe lurgy in the H is for Home household this week. Well to be honest, we’ve contracted a succession of bugs stretching back 2 months at least – one after another, sometimes overlapping. And that’s after not having had a sniff of a cold for the previous 5 years. It’s certainly been quite a grim winter. When you’re feeling under the weather, any baking has to be quick and easy. These honey almond brittle biscuits seemed like the perfect answer today.

Spooning honey almond brittle biscuit mixture on to a lined baking tray | H is fo rHome

The preparation was literally a ten minute job – and they then less than ten minutes to bake. A small price to pay for some delicious home-baked biscuits.

Home-made honey almond brittle biscuits | H is for Home #recipe #biscuits

And they were indeed delicious. The almonds and honey were a very good combination. There are lots of other potential ingredients to experiment with – peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans and coconut to name but a few. The biscuits were a lovely blend of soft gooey centres and crisp, crunchy edges. A little treat is always nice when your feeling sorry for yourself !

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Honey almond brittle biscuits
  1. 15g/½oz butter
  2. 15g/½oz double cream
  3. 75g/2⅔oz honey
  4. 35g/1oz caster sugar
  5. ⅛ tsp salt
  6. ½tsp lemon juice
  7. 25g/⅗oz plain flour
  8. 100g/3½oz flaked almondsHome-made honey almond brittle biscuits ingredients
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  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan on a low heat
  2. Stir in the cream, honey, sugar, salt, lemon juice and flour, until combined
  3. Add the almonds and stir to combine
  4. Spoon teaspoonfuls of the mix on to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Give each one lots of room as they spread out quite a bit while cooking
  5. Flatten slightly with the back of a wet spoon
  6. Bake at 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 for seven minutes
  7. Cool on a wire rack before eating
Adapted from The Guardian Food & Drink
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Vegan lemon meringue pie

Slice of home-made vegan lemon meringue pie | H is for Home #recipe #vegan #lemon #meringue #aquafaba

We’re more than halfway through January – did you make (or break) any new year’s resolutions? We’ve been having a ‘Dry January’ and other people may be having a ‘Veganuary’. I’ve been vegetarian for 30 years (and vegan at one point) so I thought that the former would be much more of a goal. Nevertheless, I thought I should try a vegan Cakes & Bakes dish to say that I got into the whole January swing!

Vegan pastry pie base | H is for Home

This lemon meringue pie is surprisingly completely vegan. No butter in the pastry, no eggs or gelatine in the filling and no eggs in the meringue. Brilliant!

cooked chickpeas in a saucepan | H is for Home bowl of cooked chickpeas with measuring jug of aquafaba | H is for Home

Despite being veggie for most of my life, I’ve only recently heard about aquafaba. It’s a versatile egg substitute that was ‘discovered’ by a French chef in 2014. It’s the cooking liquor from (usually) white beans such as butter beans, chickpeas or cannellini beans. If you’re using tinned, buy ones that are unsalted. If you’re making your own, it’s not the water that you soak dried beans in – that contains toxins and gets discarded – you use the water in which the beans have been boiled. I made my own and used the ‘discarded’ chickpeas to make a batch of hummus.

Vegan lemon meringue pie filling | H is for Home

Many of the vegan lemon meringue pie recipes I found on the ‘net included a pinch of turmeric; I obliged but found the resulting filling to be on the orange side and resembled pumpkin pie. It didn’t affect the flavour, however. If preferred, you could use a tiny amount of yellow food colouring.

Vegan aquafaba meringue | H is for Home

Making the meringue was a bit tricky. I think I under-whipped my first batch as the lovely peaks softened and sank in the oven. Some people prefer to pipe the mixture on to a lined baking sheet and cooking it separately. I did this with some of the leftover mixture and I couldn’t tell the difference from egg white meringue! It was soft and gooey and cracked when I broke into it.

Vegan lemon meringue pie | H is for Home

I quickly & carefully blow-torched the top before it went into the oven on the lowest setting for at least 2 hours. This seemed to help it keep its shape. If you go with latter cooking method, The meringue doesn’t get as cooked thoroughly and will sink and begin to liquefy. It will be best eaten on the day you make it.

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Vegan lemon meringue pie
Yields 1
For the pastry
  1. 200g/7oz plain flour
  2. 70g/2½oz 'tant pour tant' (35g/1¼oz icing sugar + 35g/1¼oz ground almonds)
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 100g/3½oz very cold vegetable spread (e.g. soya, olive) or coconut oil
For the lemon pie filling
  1. 550ml/19fl oz milk substitute (e.g. soya, almond, hazelnut, cashew, coconut, oat, rice)
  2. 80g/2¾oz custard powder (Bird's is vegan)
  3. zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  4. 125ml lemon juice
  5. 100g/3½oz caster sugar
  6. small pinch of turmeric
For the meringue
  1. 125ml/4⅓fl oz aquafaba
  2. 1 tsp cream of tartar
  3. 110g/3¾oz caster sugar
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extractHome-made vegan lemon meringue pie ingredients
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For the pastry
  1. Put the flour, icing sugar, ground almonds and salt in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to combine
  2. Add the butter and pulse again until the mixture begins to get lumpy - like dry scrambled eggs
  3. Empty the pastry on to 2 lengths of cling film layered one over the other at right angles
  4. Bring the dough together into a ball by lifting & bringing together the 4 ends of the cling film. Flatten and chill in the fridge for an hour
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6
  6. Once chilled, generously flour a work surface and roll out the dough to ½cm thick
  7. Line the pie dish with the pastry so that it has some overlap all the way around.
  8. Put a length of parchment paper on top of the pastry and fill the pie dish with baking beans
  9. Blind bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges begin to turn golden brown
  10. Remove from the oven, remove the beans and parchment paper and allow the pie case to cool
For the lemon pie filling
  1. Combine ⅓ of the milk with the custard powder, sugar and turmeric
  2. Whisk to remove any lumps
  3. Pour into a saucepan with the remaining milk and lemon zest
  4. Heat, stirring constantly, until the custard begins to thicken
  5. Add the lemon juice, and continue to stir until it thickens further
  6. Pour the lemon mixture into the pastry case and allow to cool and solidify while you make the meringue
For the meringue
  1. Preheat the oven to 90ºC/200ºF/gas mark ¼
  2. Using a stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment or an electric hand whisk (on a high setting), beat the aquafaba for 5 minutes
  3. Add the cream of tartar and beat again until soft peaks begin to form
  4. Add the vanilla extract and continue beating for a few seconds
  5. Add the sugar, in stages, one tablespoon at a time, continuing to whisk on the high setting
  6. Continue whisking until you reach the stiff peak stage - this could take 10-20 minutes
  7. Spoon or pipe the meringue evenly over the top of the pie filling
  8. At this stage, you can (if you have one) carefully blowtorch the top of the meringue to get attractive brown bits
  9. Bake in the oven for 2 hours
  10. Allow to cool completely before slicing & serving
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Ginger stout loaf

Home-made ginger stout loaf sliced | H is for Home

I’ve made a few ginger cakes before, however, this ginger stout loaf is probably the most moist, treacly, dark and delicious of them all!

Porter and black treacle mixture in a saucepan | H is for Home

I’ve had a couple of bottles of Hatherwood Purple Panther porter in the fridge since before Christmas. I’ve not tried them yet, we’re having a Dry January… does cooking with alcohol count as breaking the fast? I’ve only used about a quarter of the bottle, so I’m wondering how to use the leftovers… baking-wise. I’ve used it in the past in chocolate cake and bread, so perhaps something different this time. What do you recommend?

Jar of Opies stem ginger in syrup | H is for Home Mixing bowl with sugars and chopped ginger | H is for Home

I’ve halved the original recipe, which is a Bundt cake that serves 12. It called for 3 large eggs. How do you halve 3 eggs? Well, I whisked up the 3 eggs and poured half of the mixture into the batter. I used the other half in a frittata for lunch… waste not, want not!

Ginger stout loaf batter in a lined loaf tin | H is for Home Cooked ginger stout loaf in a lined loaf tin | H is for Home

We’ve had lots of cold, damp, misty, murky weather of late. This rich, warming cake – served alongside a nice strong cup of tea – or with some piping hot custard – is the perfect antidote.

Click here to save the recipe to Pinterest if you want to try the recipe soon!

Ginger stout loaf
Serves 8
Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
  1. 120ml/8 fl oz stout/porter
  2. 6tbsp molasses
  3. 3tbsp ginger in syrup, chopped finely
  4. 2 medium-sized eggs, at room temperature
  5. 1tsp vanilla extract
  6. 100g/½ Muscovado sugar
  7. 100g/3½ Demerara sugar
  8. 100ml/3½ fl oz vegetable oil
  9. 125g/4½oz plain flour
  10. ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  11. ½tbsp ground ginger
  12. ½tsp cinnamon
  13. ¼ tsp ground cloves
  14. ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  15. ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  16. ¼ tsp allspice
  17. ¼ teaspoon fine sea saltHome-made ginger stout loaf ingredients
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  1. Heat oven to 175ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4
  2. Grease & line a 1kg/2lb loaf tin with parchment paper
  3. Pour the stout and molasses into a medium-sized saucepan, bring to a simmer, stirring to combine. Remove from the heat, set aside and allow to cool
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped ginger, eggs, vanilla extract, Muscovado sugar and Demerara sugar until the mixture is no longer gritty
  5. Slowly add the oil, mixing all the while
  6. Slowly add the stout mixture and mix until well combined
  7. Carefully add the dry ingredients in two parts, mixing well in between each addition.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared tin
  9. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes away clean
  10. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack
  1. Serve warm with custard or allow to cool completely before topping with cream cheese icing
Adapted from New York Times
Adapted from New York Times
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Prune tea loaf

Home-made prune tea loaf | H is for Home #recipe #prunes #tealoaf #fruitloaf #loafcake #baking

We’ve been having a busy first few days of 2018. I’ve been a bit tardy again this year with preparing & filing our tax returns so I wanted this week’s Cakes & Bakes to be quick and simple. This prune tea loaf is just the ticket!

Armagnac is the perfect pairing for prunes. However, if you prefer, you can swap this out for an equal quantity of freshly-brewed, strong black tea.

Serve warm, cut into thick slices, buttered generously accompanied by a cup of tea. After my little break, it’s back to doing the accounts!

Prune tea loaf batter in a lined baking tin| H is for Home Cooked prune tea loaf a lined baking tin| H is for Home

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Prune tea loaf
Serves 8
Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
  1. 200g/7oz prunes (Agen ones are best)
  2. 2-4 tbsp Armagnac
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 100g/3½oz brown soft sugar
  5. 250g/9oz self raising flour
  6. 75ml/2⅔fl oz milkHome-made prune the loaf ingredients
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  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325ºF/Gas mark 3
  2. Grease & line a 900g/2lb loaf tin
  3. De-stone and roughly chop the prunes and put them into a medium-sized mixing bowl
  4. Pour the Armagnac over the prunes - it should just about cover all the fruit
  5. Cover with cling flim/Saran wrap for about half an hour to allow the fruit to absorb the liquid
  6. In a measuring jug, lightly beat the eggs before adding them to the soaked prunes and any un-absorbed liquid
  7. Add the sugar and flour and combine well
  8. Mix in the milk to loosen the batter
  9. Spoon evenly into the lined loaf tin and sprinkle a little granulated sugar evenly over the top
  10. Bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes away clean
  11. Leave the loaf in its tin to cool for 5 minutes before turning it out on to a wire rack
  1. The loaf will keep for a couple of weeks (if it lasts that long!) if wrapped in baking parchment and kept in an airtight container in a cool place
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: New York maple-walnut cheesecake

Home-made New York maple walnut cheesecake | H is for Home #cheesecake #bakedcheesecake #recipe

Baked cheesecake is both Justin’s and my favourite kind of cake. I often make it for special occasions such as when we’re having people over to visit. The last time friends came to stay, I made a New York maple-walnut cheesecake. It was such a hit – with us and them – that I’ve been looking forward to making it again and sharing the recipe on here.

Making crumbs from digestive biscuits | H is for Home Digestive biscuit cheesecake base | H is for Home

I found the recipe on the New York Times website. It’s pretty similar to the one I make using a Gordon Ramsay recipe, with one… or should I say two great additions. Including maple syrup in cheesecake is delicious; Tossing and coating walnuts in hot maple syrup and then sprinkling them over the top is candied heaven on earth!

Cream cheese and maple syrup | H is for Home

I made a few little adjustments to the NYT’s original New York maple-walnut cheesecake recipe. For a start, I cut down on the quantities; much as I love cheesecake, 12 portions is too much for just the two of us. I also swapped the Graham cracker base for the more usual British version of digestive biscuit crumbs. Lastly, I doubled the amount of maple syrup in the actual cheesecake mixture as I thought the flavour was a little too subtle.

New York maple-walnut cheesecake | H is for Home

Also, the original method included an initial hot bake at 260ºC/500ºF for 15 minutes. This, I think, is to give the top of the cake a nice golden brown colour. It would have completely burnt my first attempt if I hadn’t been keeping an eye on it. This time around, I lowered the temperature and duration of this stage… it turned out perfectly!

The walnuts can be substituted for other nuts, I’d think that pecans or Brazil nuts – or both – would be wonderful.

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New York maple-walnut cheesecake
Serves 8
For the base
  1. 200g/7oz digestive biscuits (about 14 biscuits)
  2. 50g/1¾oz unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake
  1. 600g/21oz cream cheese
  2. 2tsp cornflour
  3. 200g/7oz caster sugar
  4. 120ml/4fl oz maple syrup
  5. 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  6. 60ml/2fl oz double cream
To finish
  1. 60ml/2fl oz maple syrup
  2. 1tsp cornflour
  3. 115g/4oz walnut halves Home-made New York maple walnut cheesecake ingredients
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  1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4
For the base
  1. In a bowl, grind the digestive biscuits to fine crumbs (I use the end of a rolling pin)
  2. Add the melted butter to the bowl and toss with a fork until the butter has moistened the crumb mixture
  3. Grease the sides of a 23cm/9-inch, spring-form cake tin and scatter the crumbs evenly over the pan bottom, pressing it down using the bottom of a straight-sided glass or back of a spoon
  4. Bake for 10 minutes and allow it to cool
For the cheesecake
  1. Raise the oven temperature to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until soft and fluffy (about 2 minutes)
  3. Combine the flour and the sugar and add this mixture and half of the maple syrup to the cheese in thirds, mixing after each addition
  4. Add the eggs and the yolk to the mixture, one by one, beating after each addition
  5. Add the heavy cream and mix again
  6. Pour the batter on to the cooled base and bake for 5 minutes
  7. Lower the oven to 90ºC/200ºF/Gas mark ½ and bake for a further hour
  8. Switch off the oven, leave the door ajar and allow the cheesecake cool in the oven for ½ hour
  9. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours but no more than 24
To serve
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining maple syrup over a low heat until it bubbles. Allow to simmer gently for 1 minute until it has thickened slightly
  2. Whisk in the cornstarch and turn off the heat
  3. Add the walnuts and turn to coat
  4. Spread them out on a piece of parchment paper to cool and harden into praline
  5. Sprinkle over the cheesecake
Adapted from New York Times
Adapted from New York Times
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: 24-hour sourdough loaf

Home-made 24-hour sourdough loaf | H is for Home #baking #sourdough #sourdoughbread #realbread #recipe

Someone over on our Instagram feed asked when I was going to share the recipe for the 24-hour sourdough loaf that I’d photographed. I forgot that I’d never actually blogged about it, so here it is!

Bubbling sourdough starter | H is for Home

It’s my new favourite sourdough bread recipe because it helps me plan my baking time to a tee. No more hanging around at bedtime for my bread to be ready to take out of the oven. You start at “zero hour” with a refresh of the starter and end with taking it out of the oven.

La Cloche baking dome | H is for Home

The 24 hour duration is a fairly loose timing. You can stretch or shorten the time line to suit by warming or cooling the environment of the starter and the rising dough. I like to time it so that my final prove takes place overnight. The recipe suggests refrigerating the dough for this 8-12 hour stage however, our downstairs cloakroom gets really cold at night – and the banneton takes up a lot of space – so I do the rise in there.

Sliced, home-made 24-hour sourdough loaf | H is for Home

It means I can get up in the morning, pre-heat the oven and La Cloche and enjoy lovely, fresh sourdough for breakfast!

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24-hour sourdough loaf
Yields 1
  1. 585ml/20½fl oz water at 27ºC
  2. 180g/6⅓oz 1:1 (100% hydrated) fresh sourdough starter that's been refreshed the night before and again in the morning (Hour 0)
  3. 900g/31¾oz strong white bread flour
  4. 9g/⅓oz fine sea salt
  5. a little rice flour for dusting your banneton (I can't recommend this enough!!)
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Hour 6
  1. In a bowl, whisk the warm water and starter and mix well
  2. Add the flour and salt (combined well) and mix until all the ingredients come together into a large ball
  3. Cover with cling film and let the dough rest in a cool environment for 1½ hours
Hour 8½
  1. Lift and fold your dough over, do a quarter turn of your bowl and repeat three more times. Repeat hourly 3 more times
Hour 12½
  1. Shape your dough lightly and place into a dusted banneton
  2. Cover with a shower cap or damp tea-towel and leave to prove on the side until the dough has risen by about 50%. This normally takes about 2 hours in a kitchen that is about 18-20 degrees, then transfer to the fridge for 8-12 hours
Hour 24
  1. In the morning, preheat the oven to 220ºC for 30 minutes to 1 hour before you are ready to bake with your La Cloche in the oven. The dish or La Cloche must be very hot
  2. Take the dish out of the oven and sprinkle a little flour over the bottom
  3. Put your dough into the La Cloche and slash the top of your bread using a grignette (or lame) then place the lid back on top and return to the oven as quickly as possible. Bake for 45 minutes
  4. Turn the heat down to 190ºC, remove the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes
H is for Home Harbinger