Sunday, 27 January 2013

Moving house and other not-fun things

I don't often post non-recipe things on this blog, other than "no update this week because I'm in hospital again" - I thank every single star in the sky that that's not the purpose of this one!!

I just wanted to write a quick post as this evening I had the joy of using an electric oven for the first time! Eeeep! Where are the gas marks? How am I supposed to now which temperature to use!? It was alright, in the end...

So what's with the electric oven? Well, I moved into a new flat this weekend. My fiance and I broke up mid-December, so I'm single for the first time in 6 years, and it's weird. But my new flat is great, the kitchen is bigger, and my flatmate works overseas a lot so Peanut the cat and I get the flat to ourselves most of the time. I've only been here since Friday, and I already feel quite at home. (Baking a pie and a raspberry jam tart this evening definitely helped that feeling!) So, I do have a few recipes drafted and ready to publish, but pretty soon you'll start noticing that the work surface and background in the photos of the bakes will change. You'll also notice that I'll start including the oven temperature as well as the gas mark on my recipes, because that's what I'll be using now!

On a much more positive note, I'm very pleased to announce that next Sunday is my house-warming/return of the Disney Movie nights, so very soon there will be a new Disney blog post :-) Until then, friends,

Happy Thoughts

Pineapple and Mango Ice Cream

Welcome to the latest feature of the blog: Ice-Cream Sundays! I've been toying with this idea for a while, and figured that since it's the New Year, I might as well just give it a go! So, even though The Princess and the Cake is and will always be a baking blog, I've decided to have a little dabble in ice-cream making, and I'll be posting those ice-cream recipes here, you guessed it, on a Sunday! For now, as I'm new to ice-cream making and don't have many recipes in my repertoire (yet) this will be a monthly feature, posted on the last Sunday of every month. Maybe in the future this will increase - who knows!

What I do know, however, is that it may come across as a silly idea to launch an ice-cream feature in a month I've dedicated to healthier-than-usual recipes. Well, I'm a bit silly - but I also came up with a healthy ice-cream recipe, so we're still detoxing!

I do, however, have a confession to make. This isn't actually an ice cream - but it does have the same texture and is so tasty you'd never know you were eating a fat free, sugar-free* alternative to ice-cream!
*Sugar-free except for the sugars that occur naturally in fruit, obviously!

I invented this recipe sort of by accident during a crohns flare-up. I try not to go on about my crohns, and I'm not going to start now, so to cut a long story short I found myself re-evaluating the foods I ate, and looking for "east-to-digest" foods. Mango and pineapple came up in a list of the more easily digested fruits, so I went out and bought a load. And then realised it was fresh fruit and there was no way I'd be able to eat it all before it went off so I ended up cutting it into chunks and freezing it, and then just getting a bit out and allowing it to defrost whenever I fancied eating some. Then one evening I decided to stick some in the blender to see what happened, and what happened was yummy!

Below is enough for a one person serving, but you could make as much as you like by sticking to the 60:40 pineapple/mango ratio. Please note that this "ice-cream" cannot be re-frozen once it's blended, so you might as well eat it up all at once :-)

60g fresh pineapple
40g fresh, ripe mango

Prep time: 40 minutes
Serves: 1

  1. Cut the pineapple and mango into bite-sized chunks, place in and airtight container and freeze for 30 minutes,
  2. Remove from the freezer and put into the blender. Pulse until smooth (around 5-10 minutes)
  3. Serve and smile - it's actually good for you!

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 25 January 2013

Healthier Than Usual Brownies

It would be a lie to say this recipe was healthy, but with a few changes (and the help of an unexpected ingredient!) these brownies are much healthier than their traditional counterparts.

This recipe is based heavily on this recipe I found on BBC Good Food (I LOVE GOOD FOOD!), with a few extra changes to make the brownies even lighter! My dodgy old maths skills tell me that per brownie, there are approximately 104 calories and 3.5g fat - not too shabby for a chocolatey treat! I think this is my favourite of the healthier recipes I've posted this month, and even though I don't think the brownies tasted quite as good as normal full-fat full-sugar lots of chocolate brownies, they were still better than most store-bought brownies I've ever tried! I will definitely be coming back to this recipe again.

50g dark chocoalte
75g dark brown sugar
3tbsp stevia
1tsp vanilla extract
40g (2tbsp) buttermilk
1 medium egg
120g extra light mayonnaise
85g plain flour
pinch of salt
40g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes 12 brownies

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and line a square baking tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate, either in the microwave on short bursts or in a bowl over hot water, then pop this to one side to cool slightly.
  3. Stir the sugar, stevia, vanilla extract and buttermilk into the cooled chocolate until all combined. Beat the egg into the chocolate mixture, followed by the mayonnaise. The mixture should now be smooth and glossy.
  4. Sift the flour, salt, cocoa powder and baking powder into the chocolate mixture and gently fold in until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes, until firm but still a little sticky on top. 
  5. Allow the brownies to cool in the tin, then turn them out, cut into 12 and enjoy the relatively guilt-free chocolatey goodness!

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Cake'n'Bake Wednesday: Raspberry Yogurt "Cheese"cakes

January 2012 saw our lowest turn out at the Cake'n'Bake Club, mostly because people felt they had over-indulged at Christmas and needed some time off. So this year we decided to embrace the January cut-back/detox/eat-well mentality and have the theme be "Healthy New Year".

For the healthy theme, I decided to bake some mini-raspberry cheesecakes. These cheesecakes are low-fat, low-calorie, sugar-free, and cheese-free. Yep, no cheese. I shouldn't really call them cheesecakes, but "yogurt and tofu-cakes" just sounds a bit weird. Anyway, the recipe I started with was Chocolate Covered Katie's Greek Yogurt Cheesecake, but I made one or two tweaks along the way. (As a side note, I love Katie's blog - everything looks so yummy and is usually low-fat/sugar-free!) I baked my pretend-cheesecakes in a mini-muffin pan, firstly because I thought they would be easier to share this way, and secondly because I thought a bite-sized treat was more in-keeping with the month's theme! I did some very, very rough working out and found that each mini-cheesecake had 38 calories and 0.9g fat - not too shabby (although, it goes without saying that this will vary depending on the brands you use!) They didn't really taste like cheesecakes though, and if I'm honest I wouldn't make them again. They mostly tasted just like raspberry yogurt, but the stevia made them taste a little artificial. Still, it was fun to experiment and they didn't taste bad - they just didn't taste cheesecakey enough for me! :-)

Please note - you will need a blender for this recipe!

Prep time: 20-25 minutes
Cook time: 30-35 minutes
Chill: at least 2 hours, preferably overnight
Makes 24 mini-cheesecakes

100g Almond Biscotti (my recipe for home-made almond biscotti is here)
5 tbsp almond milk
Punnet of raspberries
150g silken-firm tofu
350g low-fat natural Greek yogurt
5 tbsp stevia-extract sugar alternative
15g cornflour

  1. Lightly grease a mini-muffin pan and pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4.
  2. Start by whizzing the biscotti in your blender until it's in fine crumbs. Add the almond milk, and whizz again until they combined to form a paste. Put 1tsp of the biscuit mixture into each muffin hole and press down with the back of the spoon. Pop this in the fridge whilst you prepare the "cheese" filling.
  3. Count out 24 raspberries and put these to one side. Put the tofu into your blender and puree until smooth. Add the yogurt, the remaining raspberries, the stevia and the cornflour and blend until all have combined.
  4. Spoon 2tsps of the yogurt/tofu mixture onto each biscuit base, then gently press one of the reserved raspberries on top of this. 
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until set and starting to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before popping into the fridge to set overnight.
  6. When ready to serve, carefully turn the cheesecakes out of the muffin pan. I'd recommend you try one before serving, just to make sure they are OK ;-)

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 18 January 2013

Banana Oat Muffins

This recipe is a favourite in our house, not only because it makes really delicious, moist banana muffins, but also because it's a fantastic way to use up over-ripe banana, which we always seem to have leftover at the end of the week. I'll usually make a batch of these at the weekend, then wrap them up individually in cling film once they've cooled so that I can freeze them. I have found that if I get one out in the morning and let it thaw in the cling film, it will be ready to eat with a cup of tea at lunch time!

Now, you may be thinking that these muffins don't sound particularly healthy, and you'd be right. I mean there are worse things for you, but they do contain rather a lot of fat and sugar, so why are they being posted in a month I've dedicated to healthier baking? Well, I decided to experiment with substitutes and make a reduced fat and sugar version, and a low-fat sugar-free version of this recipe, to see how they turned out. I think the original version is still the best, but the other versions are tasty too. The most interesting thing about doing this was looking at what went into the muffins and what I could use instead!

I've provided the approximate calories, fat and saturated fat content of each recipe below, so I'd also like to include a disclaimer. I am not a nutritional expert in any way, shape or form. I'm just a girl who likes cake. I worked out the calorie, fat and sat fat content of each recipe using a pen, paper and calculator and the information found on the food packets. This information could vary dependent on the brands you use, on the size of your muffin pan, and on how much you trust my math skills. Values are given as a guidance only!!


For the original (and tastiest) variety     Reduced Fat and Sugar                 Low-Fat and Sugar-Free  
125g margarine                                           50g margarine                                  3 large over-ripe bananas  
2 large over-ripe bananas                            2 large over-ripe bananas                 125g applesauce
50g caster sugar                                          75g applesauce                                75g honey
50g soft brown sugar                                   50g soft brown sugar                       2 medium eggs
1tbsp runny honey                                       50g honey                                       100g self raising flour
2 medium eggs                                            2 medium eggs                                 100g porridge oats
100g self raising flour                                  50g self raising flour
100g porridge oats                                     150g porridge oats

Calories = 284                                           Calories = 227                                  Calories = 189
Fat = 13.25g                                              Fat = 7.14g                                       Fat = 2.35g
Sat Fat = 3.35g                                          Sat Fat = 1.76g                                 Sat Fat = 0.56g

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 – 20 minutes
Makes 8 muffins
  1. If using, melt the margarine in the microwave and place to one side to cool.
  2. Preheat the over to gas mark 6, and line a muffin tray with cases.
  3. Break the bananas onto chunks, then mash them with a fork. Try to mash them up as much as you can to make sure there are no big lumps – the runnier the better!
  4. Add the sugars (if using) and all of the wet ingredients to the banana. Beat together with the fork until all of the ingredients have combined.
  5. Add the flour and the oats to the mixture, and stir with the fork until just combined.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, filling each one around ¾ full, then bake for 15-20 minutes until dark golden brown all over. Allow the muffins to cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Happy Thoughts

Friday, 11 January 2013

Almond Biscotti

You know, an Italian colleague of mine told me an interesting thing about biscotti - when she first moved to England from Italy, she went into a coffee shop, and surprised to see it sold there, asked a member of staff why they sold it. "It goes with cappuccino," she was told. It turns out that in Italy, biscotti is actually served with wine!

I first made some white chocolate and cranberry biscotti to go into my Christmas hampers back in December (I'll post that recipe soon - they were yum!), but I realised it would be a perfect recipe to re-visit in my "healthier baking" month, due to the low-fat content. This time I've switched out the chocolate and cranberries for healthy almonds! I worked out an extremely rough estimate of the fat and calorie content per piece, based on 16 pieces: 103.5 calories and 3.6g of fat - not too shabby for a snack of this tastiness! Please don't take this as a given though, I'm not a nutritionist, dietitian or mathematician for that matter, plus all of your pieces will be slightly different sizes and so the figures above will vary, I've just provided them here as a guideline.

200g plain flour
30g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
50g whole almonds
75g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50-55 minutes
Makes 16 pieces of biscotti

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  2. Put all of your dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix together. Create a well in the centre of the dry mix. Add the vanilla extract and the eggs to the well you created then start to beat with a fork, working in the dry mixture a little at a time until a rough dough forms.
  3. Knead the dough lightly by hand until it becomes smooth, then break in into two pieces. Shape both pieces of dough into a sausage shape, then place them on the prepared baking tray. Make sure to leave plenty of space in between them as they will grow!
  4. Pop the biscotti dough into the oven for 20-25 minutes until it firm to touch and just starting to turn golden brown. Remove the biscotti from the oven and allow to cool on the side for 5-10 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Leave the oven on at gas mark 4.
  5. Once the biscotti is cool enough to handle, slice into it diagonally with a serrated knife, to create pieces a little over 1cm thick. Put those pieces back onto the baking tray and bake for a further 25-30 minutes, until crispy and golden brown all over.
  6. Allow the biscotti to cool on a wire rack before tucking in!

Happy Thoughts

Friday, 4 January 2013


I feel ashamed of myself. I've just gone online to check the release dates for new Disney movies this year, so I can keep my Disney Classics and Disney Pixar cake collections up to date, and I realised I've missed one!! *hangs head in shame*

I didn't realise that the Winnie the Pooh film that was released in 2011 was classified as a Disney Classic. I thought that like The Tigger Movie and Piglet's Big Movie, it was an animated film that fell outside of the Classics Collection... apparently I was wrong!

Anyway, the good news is that that means a new Disney night soon! woo! I have just this second ordered the DVD from amazon, and I've already started thinking of ideas for what I might bake (I currently have two ideas with one familiar ingredient...) so this one may be coming your way very soon.

As for the others, you can expect Wreck it Ralph shortly after it's release in February, and then Monster's University will be coming our way in July!

Until then, my friends,

Happy Thoughts

Vegan Apple Muffins

Happy New Year, friends!

Did you all over-indulge over the holiday season? I know I did! So, after spending the whole of December posting Christmas recipes, I thought it would be a good idea to have January be detox month. So, this month I'll be posting as many healthy(ish) recipes I can muster, starting with these Vegan apple muffins.

These muffins are tasty, moist and have a lovely subtle apple and almond flavour, and they are dairy free (if you want them to be!) I used sunflower spread and almond milk, so all in all these muffins are fairly healthy, but if you're not on a dairy-restricted diet, cows milk and standard margarine will work just fine. This is a recipe that Alex and I love, as once the muffins have cooled, you can wrap them tightly in cling film and then put in the freezer. If you take the muffin out of the freezer in the morning and allow it to defrost still wrapped, it will be fully thawed and ready to eat by lunch time!

60g sunflower spread (or margarine, if making the non-Vegan variety)
2 eating apples
100g soft brown sugar (plus extra for topping)
200ml almond milk (or standard milk, if non-Vegan)
2tsp baking powder
1tsp mixed spice
150g plain flour
100g wholemeal flour

Prep time: 10 – 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 – 20 minutes
Makes 9 muffins

  1. Melt the sunflower spread in the microwave for 15 seconds, then place to one side to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 and line a muffin tray with cases.
  3. Peel the apples and then grate them into a medium sized mixing bowl, (watch for those pips!)
  4. Add the sugar, milk and cooled sunflower spread to the apple and beat with a fork until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Add the baking powder, mixed spice and both flours to the bowl. Stir into the mixture with the fork until the ingredients come together to form a thick batter.
  6. Spoon the batter into the muffin cases, filling each around ¾ full. Sprinkle a little extra brown sugar over the top of each muffin, then place on the middle shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown all over.
  7. Allow the muffins to cool in the muffin pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the muffins have cooled, you can wrap them tightly in cling film and then put in the freezer. If you take the muffin out of the freezer in the morning and allow it to defrost still wrapped, it will be fully thawed and ready to eat by lunch time!

Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Cake'n'Bake Wednesday: Chocolate and Pistachio Macaroons

Happy New Year folks!

Hope you all enjoyed the festive period, and that you've fully recovered from yesterday's wine-flu!

In January 2012 Cake'n'Bake Club decided to welcome in the New Year by baking something "new", that is, something we'd never baked before. I'd wanted to have a go at making macaroons since watching them be made on The Great British Bake Off the summer before, so I thought I'd use the opportunity to try them now!

Making macaroons for the first time was a lot of fun, and even though I only made two batches I feel I learnt a lot about them, so I wanted to share some feedback/tips before the recipe. Originally, I had planned to make 4 varieties of macaroon: Vanilla, Raspberry, Chocolate and Pistachio; and I attempted the vanilla/raspberry batch first. The first thing I learnt was that ABSOLUTELY UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should liquid flavouring and colouring be added to the batter at the end of the process - all liquid colours and flavouring should be added to the egg white/meringue BEFORE the dry ingredients are mixed in. If you decide to add, for example, raspberry syrup and pink food colouring to your batter AFTER the dry ingredients have been mixed in this will complete ruin the consistency of the batter and make it un-usable.

For comparison, I added the vanilla flavouring into the meringue before adding the dry ingredients, and that batter held it's shape and had a nice consistency. I added the raspberry flavouring and pink colouring after adding the dry ingredients, and... well you can see the difference.

Anyway, the second thing I learnt was that using "dry" flavourings (such as cocoa powder and ground pistachios) rather than "wet" flavourings (such as vanilla essence and raspberry syrup) made MUCH better macaroons, so in future I think I will definitely try to use dry flavourings. Joy came up with the idea to use paste flavourings, and I thought about exploring the potential of milkshake powder... but as I have tried neither suggestion I can't say which is best!

Well, I ended up throwing away all of the raspberry macaroons and half of the vanilla ones, so I'm not going to share that version of the recipe - but below is the recipe for the chocolate and pistachio varieties!

Note: this recipe makes half chocolate and half pistachio macaroons, if you'd like just one variety just amend the ingredients as necessary!

Prep time: 45 mins
Bake time: 20 mins per batch
Makes 30 macaroons (15 chocolate and 15 pistachio)


40g ground almonds
2tbsp cocoa powder
170g icing sugar
60g pistachios (I used whole but ground can also be used)
3 medium eggs
A pinch of salt
75g caster sugar
a little extra cocoa powder and ground pistachio for decoration

for the chocolate filling:
60g margarine
100g icing sugar
1tbsp cocoa powder

for the pistachio filling:
30g margarine
30g cream cheese
120g icing sugar
10g roughly chopped pistachios

  1. Line three baking trays with greaseproof paper and make sure that all of your equipment is clean and dry. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3.
  2. Tip the ground almonds, cocoa powder and 80g of the icing sugar into a blender and blend to a fine powder. Place this mixture into a bowl and put to one side.
  3. Tip the pistachio's and remaining icing sugar into the blender, and blend this to a fine powder. Place this mixture into another bowl and put to one side.
  4. Place the egg whites and pinch of salt into a large clean bowl and whisk on a high speed. Once soft peaks form add the caster sugar a little at a time, continuously whisking, until a smooth, thick and glossy meringue has formed. Put half of the meringue into a separate bowl.
  5. Take one of the bowls of meringue and gently fold in half of the chocolate dry mixture with a spatula. Once combined, fold in the remaining chocolate dry mixture, then place the chocolate mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm nozzle.
  6. Pipe 20 2cm rounds onto one of the baking trays, then lift and drop the baking tray onto the work surface a couple of time to help the mixture settle. Let the macaroons rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, or until a "skin" has formed on the top.
  7. Repeat step 5 with the remaining bowl of meringue and the pistachio dry mixture, and pipe 20 2cm rounds of pistachio batter onto the second baking tray. Again lift and drop the tray onto the work surface a couple of times, then sprinkle some ground pistachios over each macaroon for decoration before placing to one side to rest.
  8. You should have a little chocolate and a little pistachio mixture left in your piping bags. On the third baking tray, pipe 10 chocolate and 10 pistachio rounds, and tap against the work surface. Sprinkle the chocolate rounds with a little ground pistachio for decoration, and the pistachio rounds with a little cocoa powder for decoration. Leave the tray to rest with the others for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Once a "skin" has formed over the macaroon shells (you should be able to touch them lightly without any mixture sticking to your finger) place them in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for at least 10 minutes. Carefully remove each macaroon from the baking sheets using a spatula, and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Whilst the macaroons are cooling, prepare the fillings by mixing the ingredients together until a smooth paste has formed (obviously make the chocolate  filling and pistachio filling in separate bowls!), then place this into piping bags.
  11. Sandwich two chocolate shells together with chocolate filling to make 10 chocolate macaroons, then sandwich the pistachio shells with the pistachio filling to make another 10 macaroons. You should be left with the chocolate shells with ground pistachios on, and the pistachio shells with the cocoa powder - these will be you "vice versa" macaroons. Sandwich the pistachio shells with chocolate filling, and the chocolate shells with pistachio filling - you should end up with 5 of each.
  12. Pick up the most appetising looking one, take a big bite and marvel at the crunchy, gooey, sweetness!
Happy Thoughts