Archive for the ‘Baked Goods’ Category

Mince Pies

Simple, seasonal classic. Thanks to Delia Smith for the pastry recipe. The, half lard, half butter combination creates that beautiful flaky texture. The tinsel decoration is optional. To our American friends there is no meat in this dish despite the filling being called mincemeat. The mixture is actually chopped dried fruits sugar and spices.


Ingredients (Makes 24)

  • 350g plain flour
  • 75g lard
  • 75g butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 450g of mincemeat
  • small amount of milk
  • icing sugar


Sift the flour into a bowl with a pinch of salt, add the lard and butter in small chunks and rub the fat into the flour until you get fine crumbs. When you get to this stage, add a little water and start mixing with your hand,  keep adding a little more water and keep stirring until the dough forms a nice ball. Put the ball of dough in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 mins.

Remove from the fridge and cut the dough in half, actually 60% and 40% chunks (one for the base of the mince pies and one for the slightly smaller top.) dust a work surface with flour and roll the larger part out as thinly as you can, and use a 3inch pastry cutter to create the bases of the pies, placing them in a greased pie tin. Spoon the pre-bought mincemeat equally into the pastry bases. When that’s done, roll out the other 40% of the dough, again as thinly as possible, then cut the tops of the pies out using a inch cutter. Brush the pies with milk and bake them in a pre-heated oven for 30 mins. Leave them to cool, then dust with icing sugar. Best served at Christmas time with a cup of tea.



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Apologies reader as I don’t have much to say about this really, just a chance to drool over  what is on offer in Avila. Foolishly we didn’t try any of these delicious looking sweets while we were in there, instead opting for Yemas. Bad decision. Anyway, I’m sure you agree that these look delicious.

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Apparently one of the “Tatin” sisters dropped her apple tart on the floor, decided to serve it anyway and wrote it into culinary history. We didn’t drop this version on the floor, but honestly if we had,  would probably eaten it anyway. It is a delicious dessert. One you should definitely try. We even used pre bought pastry to save time and worked out really well. Good luck and let us know if it was a success.


  • 5 apples (of your choice) peeled, cored and sliced into quarters
  • just under a cup of sugar
  • 100g butter
  • pre-made pastry
  • a little milk


Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Then in a pan that you can put in the oven. i.e one that doesn’t have a plastic handle.

Sprinkle the sugar evenly on the bottom of the pan and then add the butter as illustrated. Put over a medium heat and the butter and the sugar will start to melt and caramelise. This should take about 4-5 minutes. Jiggle the pan around a bit to make sure that it the sugar and butter cook evenly. Now you are ready to add the apples.

Add them in a spiral, cramming them as tight as you can. Now cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes. Cut your pastry into a circle a bit bigger than your pan. Take the pan off the heat and place the pastry on top of the apples, tucking in the excess pastry as shown below.

Prick holes  in the pastry, brush it with some milk and put the pan in the oven for about 20 – 25 minutes or until the pastry is a golden brown.

When it is removed from the oven it should a bit like this.

Now it is time to flip the tarte. Be really careful as the juices from the apples and the caramel will be really hot. So, place a large plate over your pan and press down as hard as you can to create a seal. Then (wearing long sleeves) flip the plate and place on the work surface. You should have the perfect tarte. Hope so anyway!

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Made this for our friend Michelle, it’s her birthday tomorrow… The cake is a classic Victoria sponge, the toppings however come courtesy of the happy world of Haribo and copious amounts of food colouring.


for the Victoria sponge

  • 225g butter at room temperature
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g self raising flour

for the icing

  • 140g butter, softened
  • 280g  icing sugar
  • food colouring
  • 1-2 tbsp milk


for the sponge

Heat the oven to 180C. Soften the butter, mix the butter and the sugar together, gradually beat the eggs into the mixture and add the the vanilla extract. Fold the flour into the mixture. Now divide the mixture into two, and place in two greased baking trays. Cook for 20 – 25 minutes in the oven or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the icing

Blend the ingredients together (adding a little milk) until it’s smooth. Add a load of food colouring to the mixture.

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This is a side dish that I cooked to go with those burgers… Simple to do and you can add whatever spices you want. If you want to go a little hot, add more chilli… you know what I’m saying. Anyway, here’s what we did and honestly, it worked out just nice!


  • potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Course sea  salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to about 200C. Cut the potatoes into wedges. In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients. Now, mix them all around until the bowl until the potatoes are totally coated in the mixture. Cook for about an hour, turn after about half an hour.

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Carrot Cake

This a carrot cake. It is delicious.



  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pound carrots (8 to 10 medium carrots), peeled and shredded on a box grater or in a food processor (about 2 3/4 cups)
  • 2 cups pecans (1 cup finely chopped for batter, 1 cup coarsely chopped for decorating sides of cake) *Raw, non-salted and fried pecans are difficult to find in Madrid so I did not use them in my cake, although I do prefer my carrot cake to contain nuts.*

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 400 grams cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and brought to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup confectioner’s sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. You will make enough batter to make a two or three layer cake. I chose to make my two layers. Butter your cake pans and lightly dust with flour, tapping out excess.

In one bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. In another bowl, beat butter and sugars together (with a fork or with an electric hand mixer) until its light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat 3 minutes. Add vanilla, water, and carrots. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Slowly add flour mixture, then finely chopped pecans.

Scrape batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly into halves or thirds. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cakes to loosen, and turn out cakes onto rack. Turn right side up, and let cool completely.

To make the frosting, use a fork or a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese and vanilla with a mixer until creamy. Gradually add butter and beat until incorporated. Slowly add confectioner’s sugar and beat until fluffy and smooth. I tasted the frosting every so often to determine the sweetness. I prefer my cream cheese frosting to be more tangy than sweet.

Using a sharp knife, trim rounded top of 2 cakes. Place one trimmed cake, cut side up, on a serving platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over cake. Top with second trimmed cake, cut side down. Spread 1 cup frosting over cake. Top with remaining cake. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides. Gently press coarsely chopped pecans onto sides of cake. Refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 1 day, covered) before serving.

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Chocolate brownies were made due to a lack of cocoa powder in the cupboard, but to be honest, maybe a blessing in disguise. Thanks to our New York/ Chicago visitor Caitlin for the inspiration behind the chocolate melting technique. Seriously it is such a good method as all you need is a bowl and some boiling water.


  • 225g dark chocolate at least 60% cocoa
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of sugar
  • 1 1/4 all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla


First, preheat the oven to 180C (350 F). Next you need to melt the chocolate… This technique is genius (thanks again Caitlin.) Put all of your chocolate in a bowl, boil some water and pour it over the chocolate. Stir. As the chocolate melts, it will separate from the water. Now you can simply pour away the water (if a little remains in with the chocolate it won’t really matter.) In a separate small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla. Then pour in the chocolate mixture, followed by the flour mixture and whisk until combined.

Transfer liquid into well greased baking tin. Cook for about 30 minutes, but keep checking as this will vary depending on the depth of your tin.

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