Toffee Apple Cupcake Recipe

Inspired by the myriad of apple related produce I drooled over on my recent visit to the Bramley Apple Festival in Southwell, Nottingham I thought I would share with you the recipe for my Toffee Apple Cupcakes.

Toffee Apple Cupcakes With Sparkler

A treat to eat, these cupcakes give it a good go at being the taste of Autumn. Full of sticky caramelised apples and a gentle hint of cinnamon, they are so comforting, they may as well wrap you in a big blanket and serve you up copious amounts of hot chocolate… who do I go to to make this happen?

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Anyway, I have added some of my own animated images to help guide you along the way that also aim to show off how god damn tasty these cakes look. Tip – If you find you have leftover apple mixture like I did, it goes deliciously well with pancakes if you’re not already overwhelmed by sugar, spice and all things nice.

Toffee Apple Centre
· 
50g Butter
· 
4 Bramley Apples – cut into small chunks.
· 
2 Teaspoons Cornflour
· 
125ml Cold Water
· 
75g Dark Brown Soft Sugar
· 
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

Chopping Bramley Apples

Dissolve cornflour in water; add to the pan full of apple and stir instantly. Add in brown sugar. Cook until mixture starts to get thicker and sticky like caramel. Leave to one side to cool. 

Caramelised Apples

Cake Batter
· 
150g (5 oz) Unsalted Butter, softened
· 
150g (5 oz) Light Muscovado Sugar
· 
175g (6 oz) Self Raising Flour
· 
3 Eggs
· 
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
· 
2 Teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon

Line a 12 section muffin tray with paper cake cases. Cream the butter and sugar together and add vanilla extract. Sieve the flour and cinnamon into the mixture and add the eggs and beat with a hand-held mixer until it’s a smooth consistency. Divide the mixture evenly among the cake cases.

Toffee Apple Cupcake Mixture
Bake in a preheated oven 180c (350f) gas mark 4, for 18-20 minutes until risen and just firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 
Once cooled, core out the centre of each cake and place to one side, add the apple mixture into the cake hole and place cored sponge back inside.

Caramelised Apples In Cupcakes

Buttercream
· 
150g (5 oz) Unsalted Butter
· 
250g (8oz) Icing Sugar
· 
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
· 
Toffee/Caramel Sauce to taste

Beat butter and icing sugar until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla extract, mix and then pour in toffee/caramel sauce to taste, you could also add a little dash of colouring here if you’re after a more Autumnal look. 

Toffee Apple Cupcake Buttercream

Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes and add more caramel sauce when serving or any decoration you feel will go well with the cake such as fudge pieces. Now stuff your own cake hole. Go on. No one’s watching.

Toffee Apple Cupcakes with Caramel Sauce

Cat Photo of the Day: Rory staring out into the neighbours garden, probably planning on how he can get rid their cat à la Tony Soprano.

Rory Grey Cat
Song of the Day: Childish Gambino – Redbone / Me and Your Mama
Currently Watching: Stranger Things (S2) and Mr Robot (S3) 
Film Gif: Young Frankenstein (1974)

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Spicy Pickled Onions Video Recipe

Crunchy in texture, tangy yet sweet in taste, this recipe for spicy pickled onions comes packed with a punch and are perfect with cheese, chips or simply just for snacking on.

I was hoping to get this video recipe up before the pickling onion season was over but a neck injury meant editing for long periods for time became a bit of a struggle. Fear not, pickling doesn’t just have to stop at pickled onions and if you’re struggling to find them I’m positive this recipe will work with various pickling vegetables, shallots or sliced onions. Tasty as a winter warmer, this recipe will also work great spicing up a salad in the warmer weather  – either way, give it a go, get creative and enjoy.

You will need
A Deep Pan With a Lid
2kg Pickling Onions
Salt
Malt Pickling Vinegar (I used Sarson’s Vinegar)
Two Red Chilli’s
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tablespoon of Pickling Spices per 600ml of Vinegar
2 Tablespoons of Juniper Berries
A Bay Leaf for Each Jar
2 Cinnamon Sticks
4 Tablespoons of Light Brown Sugar
1.4 Litres of Malt Pickling Vinegar

Extras you can add 
Cloves, peppercorns, chilli flakes

Day one
Top and tail the pickling onions and put them in a deep pan.

Boil the kettle and fill pan to cover the onions, wait 30 minutes so that the skin peels off with ease. If you’re feeling brave, feel free to skip this stage and peel the onions as you would normally, although it might be handy to have some tissues nearby just in case. 

Drained of water, put onions back into the pan and cover with salt. Add cold water to make a brine and leave overnight. Brining them might seem like a pain but I assure you it’s worth the wait, especially for the crunch you’ll get from the onions. Be sure to put the lid on the pan at this point otherwise your kitchen will stink.

Day two
Get someone to pull the lid off the pan and watch them wince at the strong smell, laugh at them and then drain the onions and leave to one side.

Chop your red chilli’s into slices and crush the cloves of garlic, as I knew how many jars I was filling I chopped them evenly so each jar would have equal amounts. Add them to a pan deep enough to hold 1.4 litres of malt pickling vinegar as well as the ingredients. 

Measure out 4 tablespoons of pickling spices and 2 tablespoons of juniper berries. Crush two sticks of cinnamon and take a bay leaf for each jar, add these to the pan. Finally, add 4 tablespoons of light brown sugar, which will help balance out the sharp flavours.

At this point you could also add a teaspoon of cloves and peppercorns as well as some chilli flakes for a more intense flavour.

Add the pickling vinegar to the pan and leave on a medium heat. Bring the vinegar and spices to a gentle boil and be sure the sugar has dissolved before taking it off to cool. Cooling may take a couple of hours, I had to leave mine until the next day because filming the recipe took longer than I had expected so in that time I ensured my onions were covered with cold water again to remain fresh.

Before creating jars of pickled goodness, you will need to sterilise the jars just before filling them. Pre heat the oven to 160-180ºC and clean out the jars in hot soapy water, place them upside down, without drying them, on a roasting or baking tray and pop them in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Once the jars are safe and germ free, it’s now time to add the onions. It’s best to do this in layers, so I added a bottom layer of onions then added the vinegar and a spoonful of spices and repeated this until the jar was nearly full. Be sure to add all the spices to the jars because this is where all the flavour will come from. You could also add some chilli flakes at this stage if you enjoy the heat. 

Leave the jars in a cool place and wait up to 6 weeks, some recipes say up to 2 weeks but I find 6 weeks is the perfect time because the spices get to stew and mature.

As I had some vinegar left over I added it to a bottle to use as vinegar in other recipes but you could also experiment and pickle some other vegetables if you fancied it. 

Halloween Gingerbread at Birds Bakery (Nottingham)

Birds Bakery have entered the spirit of halloween with their ghostly, ghastly treats and I couldn’t be happier. Seasonal occasions for me are always that little bit sweeter as they create a personal favourite of mine, a seasonally themed chocolate covered, gingerbread biscuit, which for Halloween are Ghost and Pumpkin shaped.

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At first bite, the biscuit, which is thick and golden in appearance has a nice crunch to it, one that crumbles away in your mouth and still keeps your teeth intact, unlike some of the more thinner, harder gingerbread biscuits that take your strongest teeth to break into. 

Instantly upon tasting, you can feel the warmth of the ginger spice hug and tug at your tastebuds, which for a Halloween themed biscuit is perfect for the autumnal weather we’ve been having. For some reason and I’m not sure if it was just the biscuit I bought but I felt that the Pumpkin packed more of a punch with the heat, which I really enjoyed.

ghost

The chocolate that covered both biscuits had more of a white chocolate taste to the Ghost Biscuit that wasn’t as prominent on the Pumpkin Biscuit, where it lacked that milky flavour but had more of a sweeter taste. Still delicious, I found that being dipped in chocolate meant that it cooled down that ginger hit with every bite.

The candy coated chocolate eyes of the ghost are enjoyable and add a different texture and chocolatey taste, whereas the red icing for the mouth adds sweetness to an otherwise creamy and ginger packed biscuit.

The Pumpkins fondant hollowed-out eyes and nose have a cocoa taste about them that add a rich bitter taste and a chewy, doughy texture. Its squiggly mouth is a smooth milk chocolate and his stalk made up of green icing, again adds sweetness. I know the main purpose for the extras on these biscuits are for decoration but they are tasty ones at that.

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I love these biscuits a lot and I miss them when they aren’t around, I almost wish Birds would make them all year round but at the same time I secretly enjoy the excitement of waiting for them to appear in the shop window. You will even find me buying the Mother’s Day biscuit in hope it will be shared on the day (thanks mum).

I have never had a disappointing experience with Birds, their products are always fresh, are never lacking in quality and are priced fair. They stick to tradition but they also try something new. So if you’re ever in an area where there is a Birds Bakery you must pop in. Now bring on the Christmas biscuits!

Find your nearest Birds here: https://birdsbakery.com/

Cat Photo of the Day: A sleepy Teepee, an expert in what I call “trapping”, which is when a cat traps you by sitting on you, looking extra cute when or while you have something important to do, rendering your task impossible or difficult to get on with.

teepee-cat

Song of the Day: The Sundays – Medicine
Currently Watching: Black Mirror (S3) Bojack Horseman (S3) and The Walking Dead (S7)

Date and Walnut Scone Video Recipe

A couple of weekends ago my mum was in the kitchen thinking of what to bake. Having talked about filming recipes in the past, she brought up the idea of filming a recipe she found for Date and Walnut Scones. Armed with a camera and very little battery life, I took to it with my mum as assistant.

Despite the stresses of low battery and very little memory space on my SD card, I really enjoyed myself, especially as it’s been a while since I’ve filmed something as I’m usually helping people film, rather than doing the filming myself.

The final video isn’t perfect but I had fun creating it and now look forward to making more and learning from the mistakes made on that days spontaneity. Enjoy! 

Bundaberg Root Beer (Bundaberg, Australia)

Growing up watching American films and TV shows on channels such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network meant that this drink was always known to me but it wasn’t something I experienced up until recently. Medicinal, caramelised and a little bit antiseptic, it comes in many variations, it’s the divider of opinions, a difficulty to describe and up there as one of my favourite drinks – it’s root beer and today it’s Australian.

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Bundaberg is a family owned business who have been brewing soft drinks since 1960. They are a business who pride themselves on a lot things, from brewing over days rather than hours to using real, locally sourced and sometimes homegrown ingredients.

Stylistically Bundaberg bottles are great and feel like a treat to have. The engraved name on the bottle and the ring pull to open it is a really nice touch and it’s these subtle differences that makes it feel as though Bundaberg have thought about every step of the process, rather than just the drink inside.

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On the bottle, it’s boasts a three day craft-brewing time as well as the instruction “INVERT BOTTLE BEFORE OPENING” this is so the real ingredients such as the herbs and spices are released into the drink before you open it.

The amount of satisfaction gained from yanking the ring pull off and hearing that little burst of carbonation makes me think I should get out more. The smell it produced, which I’m sure I could smell before opening the bottle, smells a lot like ginger beer, which is in the ingredients and quite prominent judging by the smell alone.

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When pouring the drink, I noticed it wasn’t as carbonated as it at first sounded, gladly once tasted it retained some fizziness but not in the usual canned drink sense, where it tickles your tongue and blankets your teeth. The appearance of the drink seemed darker than what I’m use to, which I assume is from the molasses used.

Bundaberg retains the classic medicinal taste of root beer but it isn’t as strong as some of the American versions I’ve tried. The medicinal taste I think I’m referring to is a mixture of the vine Sarsaparilla and the oil of Wintergreen known as Methyl Salicylate, an ingredient that I only realised recently is used in the toothpaste Euthymol, the least toothpaste tasting toothpaste there is and one that takes some getting use to, much like root beer.

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In comparison to the American versions I’ve tasted I would say that this has a flash of a root beer taste rather than a lingering one, this could be because of the mixture of vanilla, ginger root and liquorice root that perhaps dilutes what other root beers have, or don’t have in terms of ingredients especially natural ones. I guess you could say that this makes Bundaberg a well balanced drink because each ingredient has it’s time to shine. 

Overall Bundaberg is a delicious and unique take on root beer, I would drink it again as a treat as it was admittedly quite sweet tasting. If you’d like to try an alternative take on root beer then Bundaberg would be a great choice to go for and if you haven’t tried root beer at all, do give the American stuff a go and see what you prefer, after all you have to try root beer to get it.

Cat Photo of the Day: Here we have a rare Rory, finally caught on camera. It wasn’t an easy feat and involved holding up chicken so that he would look up at the lens. I got my photo and he got his chicken. He’s not daft.

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Song of the Day: Angel Olsen – Intern
Currently Watching: Mr Robot (S2) and The Sopranos (S2)
Gif Used: Summer Heights High

A Babbit in Babbits (Louth, Lincolnshire)

In June we decided to visit the market town of Louth in Lincolnshire. Our plan was originally to grab some breakfast, spend a couple of hours bargain hunting before moving on to our next destination, buying a parking ticket to match this intention.

Unbeknown to us, the variety of shops and market stalls Louth had meant that our original plans were scuppered as hours flew by and we managed to spend the whole day there, renewing numerous parking tickets just to discover more of what Louth had to offer.

One of the best discoveries we made was a charming little coffee shop called Babbits, where a window of treats lured us into crossing the road to drool at the feast inside. Stuffed from Breakfast we vowed to come back later on, like a pair of amateurs.

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After a few hours of rummaging through the antique shops we happened to walk by Babbits again, only this time we were filled with dread as the pile of treats that were staring back at us earlier in the day had dramatically reduced in size. It was now or never, hungry or not.

We were politely greeted by a friendly gentleman into a cosy room filled with gorgeous smells ranging from fresh ground coffee to baked goods. Still full, we decided to share some Lincolnshire Plum Bread and take something with us to enjoy at home. It was a hard choice to make but I couldn’t leave without experiencing a Babbit, which was their take on a Fat Rascal.

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A Fat Rascal is essentially a hybrid of a scone and a rock cake, it somehow manages to look like both and texturally feel like both while tasting of something new altogether. As confusing as that is, I was so glad we chose to try the Babbit as it was an absolute treat to eat and very deserving of it’s own name.

Eating the Babbit was like heating and eating up Christmas. It was filled with plenty of plump fruit, peel and subtle warming spices and wouldn’t feel out of place on a plate full of mince pies. It has crunch, caramelisation from the decorative glacier cherries as well as a lovely roasted taste from the blanched almonds that sit on top, I only wish that there were more. It’s a filling option and one that tastes glorious warm.

Babbits copy

You don’t have to take my word for how great Babbits is, go for a drink there and you’ll soon realise how popular it is by the amount of people who nip in to supply their weekends with delicious joy. It isn’t a big place so don’t be disheartened if there isn’t space as it really is worth the wait, the staff are friendly enough to chat to and despite there sometimes being a few people waiting to be seated you’re never felt pressured into eating up and leaving.

Babbits may have been one of the last places we visited on our first trip to Louth but it was the first port of call on our second visit and will be from now on, after all I do have my eye on their Treacle Scones.

Visit Babbits – 116 Eastgate, Louth, LN11 9AA

Cat Photo of the Day: Here’s Teepee being ‘helpful’ on the Babbit shoot. You might find that Teeps will feature in a lot of my photos as she loves being around people and is very easy to photograph. Rory, however, is very independent and can be quite camera shy despite his poses in previous posts.

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Song of the Day: The Chameleons – Don’t Fall
Currently Watching: The Sopranos (S1) and Rick and Morty (S1) 

Huffkins Bakery & Tearoom (Stow-on-the-Wold)

My mum and I thought we would make our trip back from Bath a little more interesting by stopping for a quick visit to the picturesque market town of Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire. Needing to be fed and watered, we decided to pop into Huffkins Bakery & Tearoom. 

Established in Burford, Huffkins Bakery & Tearoom is an independent family business, with a heritage that stretches as far back as 1890. Situated in a grade II listed Cotswold stone building, Huffkins of Stow-on-the-Wold not only looks the part in the beautiful market town but was buzzing and bustling full of people, reaffirming our choice of pit stop. 

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Having drank my body weight in breakfast tea throughout the Bath trip I decided to choose something a little different to drink from their varied loose leaf tea list, I chose the Girlie Grey, which was described as a zesty, vanilla and rosebud extravaganza. As I waited for the tea I was worried it may be too zesty, perhaps bordering on Lemsip tasting but what arrived was a pleasant surprise. Girlie Grey was a well balanced delight, you could taste the floral leaves from the rosebud but also taste the slight hints of citrus and the vanilla rounded this up beautifully. 

Despite having a sweet tooth, I am quite partial to a cheese scone so couldn’t resist it when I saw the option on the menu. Warm and golden, the hand baked scone was light, easy to cut through, soft in the middle with a cheesy and crisp top. The scone had competition however as with it came two little dishes, once with a decorative swirl of local butter and the other with Spicy Tomato & Caramelised Onion Chutney, a tomato chutney of the gods as it shall now be known. 

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It’s tangy, it’s sweet and it’s delicious. It’s reminiscent of something you would find in a curry house alongside or dare I say it, better than a mango chutney. We enjoyed it so much that when leaving we decided to recreate Huffkins at home by buying some more scones from the bakery and a jar of the Spicy Tomato & Caramelised Onion Chutney from their shop, which we have already finished, in flatbreads, on cheese and crackers, you name it. 

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Now we couldn’t leave without trying something sweet, as we did share the scone after all. Scouring the menu, the name Infamous Lardy Cake caught our eyes. According to the BBC a Lardy Cake is a traditional English tea bread that originates from Wiltshire but can also be found throughout the West Country. 

Not knowing this, we asked our very friendly and informative waiter what a Lardy Cake was and he began to explain some of the process that goes into a Huffkins secret recipe Lardy Cake. I made my decision when he uttered the words ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Melts’.

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On it’s arrival, my first thought was that it looked like a Danish Pastry, however on further inspection it was not only scorching hot but much bigger than your average pastry. Texturally the Lardy Cake is lovely, it’s doughy with a slight chew to it. Despite the syrupy remnants on the plate from the brown sugar thats melted on top, a Lardy Cake really isn’t as sweet as you’d expect it to be, so the currants dotted throughout add to the very slight sweetness it already has without making it sickly. Filling, comforting, buttery goodness – what more could you want? The Infamous Lardy Cake is probably the naughtiest of treats but a culinary experience you’d be stupid to miss. 

If you visit the lovely Stow-on-the-Wold do give Huffkins a visit, be it in their bakery, shop or tea room. Experience it in some form as you won’t regret it. Huffkins can also be found in Burford, Witney, Stratford-upon-Avon and Cheltenham. 

Cat Photo of the Day: Rory is quite camera shy so to have a close up of his eye is quite the miracle. I’d like to say I was on the ball taking this photo but It’s more likely Rory was fed up by this point and posed to get rid of me.

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Song of the Day: Julee Cruise – Floating Into The Night (Full Album)
Currently Watching: Monster (Anime) and House of Cards (S4)