Desserts

St David’s Day Welsh Cakes
St David’s Day Welsh Cakes 731 1024 gastronome

St David’s Day Welsh Cakes

Growing up in Cardiff, no St David’s Day was complete without being sent to school with a proud daffodil pinned to my blazer, and a welsh cake wrapped in my packed lunch. Just the sight of these little cakes can give me an overwhelming feeling of Hiraeth.

If you’ve only ever tasted a supermarket-bought Welsh cake or Bakestone you could be forgiven for thinking them not terribly exciting, a little dry even. But a homemade one takes this little cake to another level, tender tasty and perfect with a warming cup of tea. Traditionally cooked on a griddle, these cakes are so quick and easy that they’re the perfect choice for cooking with little ones. Deliciously coated in sugar, they’re even more tasty the day after baking plus if kept in a cake tin they’ll last a few more days still. 

I do hope you enjoy a little taste of Wales, we’d love to see pictures of your baking x

Autumn Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Recipe by Gemma SimmoniteCourse: DessertDifficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 225g self-raising flour

  • 110g baking spread

  • 50g caster sugar

  • 50g currents/raisins or sultanas

  • 1 large free-range egg

  • 1-2 tbsp of milk

Directions

  • Rub the flour, spread, and caster sugar just as you would a crumble, when it looks like breadcrumbs add the dried fruits of choice.
  • Beat your egg with the milk and add it to the flour mixture.
  • With a knife bring the mixture together, you are looking for a soft dough, if too dry add a tiny splash more of milk – but you don’t want it to be too sticky.
  • Flour your surface, and gently roll out the dough with a rolling pin to the depth of ¼ inch thick.
  • With a fluted pastry cutter cut out rounds, rerolling when needed.
  • Heat you griddle or frying pan until medium hot, then rub some butter into the pan until well-greased.
  • Carefully cook the welsh cakes on each side for about three minutes each or until they are golden brown.
  • Pour some caster sugar into a bowl and when each cake comes off the griddle coat it in the sugar, then put on a plate to cool fully.
Peanut Butter Brownie 768 1024 Gemma Simmonite

Peanut Butter Brownie

I love the way that baking, and lockdown have become natural bed fellows. For a lot of people busy with everyday life, there just doesn’t seem to always be the time to bake. But during lockdown when time stretches out endlessly in front of us, baking provides the perfect distraction. It’s also probably the need for comfort at a difficult time, plus some much-needed distraction and a chance to be productive – after all isn’t bringing something delicious out of the oven, literally the best feeling?

Brownies are literally a great cake to start with if baking can be a little daunting, they’re very forgiving and delicious. I’ve chosen this Brownie recipe, firstly because it keeps beautifully (that’s if its not snaffled immediately!) also because it’s the Brownie we serve at Gastrono-me and have been doing for the last 8 years! I thought by posting it here, you can give it a go and get a small Gastrono-me fix whilst we’ve been forced to close over lockdown. If peanut butter is not your thing, omit that part, it will still be delicious (keep the banana in though!). We also used to fold in raspberries (frozen ones work the best) the Brownie becomes a little more delicate, but a broken brownie doesn’t really matter when it’s on one-way direction to your mouth!

Whichever way you are spending your lockdown, I hope you get to enjoy some family/you time. I know it’s incredibly difficult to only see it as a never ending time we’ve been sentenced to, but if there is one way of getting through it, it’s by punctuating your day with an achievement – this was mine today.

Remember I’d love to know how you got on with your bake, or even see your Brownie creations.

Break up the chocolate into rough pieces and add to a saucepan with the sugar and butter, then melt over a low heat, slowly mixing now and then to ensure nothing is sticking and the sugar is dissolving. When you have a nice cohesive mix, set it aside to cool a little.

In another bowl beat your eggs with the ripe mashed bananas, add this to your now cooled chocolatey mixture. Pour in your sifted self-raising flour and the baking powder. Don’t over stir, but make sure everything is combined and you have no traces of flour, little ‘nubbly’ lumps of banana are fine though.

Pour into your greased and lined 12 x 8 brownie tin.

In another bowl, mix together your melted butter, peanut butter and icing sugar. Word of warning – you will need immense willpower not to lick the spoon at this point.

Drop little dollops of the salty sweet batter over your brownie mixture and draw through with a skewer or the end of a knife. You’re going for a swirly effect, so embrace your inner artist. Finish off by sprinkling over a handful of crushed peanuts.

Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 15-20 mins, you are looking for it to have risen a little, and for the top to have set. It will still feel a little soft, unlike a spring-back ‘sponge feel’, but if inserted, a skewer should still come out cleanish, not wet. The idea of a good brownie is that it is fudgy and soft, not over baked.

This is delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream, but equally delicious cold with a cuppa. These brownies last beautifully in a tin due to the moistness of the banana. So, nothing left to do but to sit back relax.

Peanut Butter Brownie

Recipe by Gemma SimmoniteCourse: Desserts
Servings

8

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

25

minutes
Calorieskcal

Ingredients

  • 300g soft brown sugar

  • 150g dark chocolate – 70% cocoa solids at least

  • 150g salted butter

  • 3 large free-range eggs

  • 3 ripe mashed bananas

  • 110g sifted self-raising flour

  • 1tsp baking powder

  • For peanut butter batter:
  • 35g melted butter

  • 40g icing sugar

  • 120g peanut butter

  • A handful of salted peanuts for topping

Directions

  • Break up the chocolate into rough pieces and add to a saucepan with the sugar and butter, then melt over a low heat, slowly mixing now and then to ensure nothing is sticking and the sugar is dissolving. When you have a nice cohesive mix, set it aside to cool a little.
  • In another bowl beat your eggs with the ripe mashed bananas, add this to your now cooled chocolatey mixture. Pour in your sifted self-raising flour and the baking powder. Don’t over stir, but make sure everything is combined and you have no traces of flour, little ‘nubbly’ lumps of banana are fine though.
  • Pour into your greased and lined 12 x 8 brownie tin.
  • In another bowl, mix together your melted butter, peanut butter and icing sugar. Word of warning – you will need immense willpower not to lick the spoon at this point.
  • Drop little dollops of the salty sweet batter over your brownie mixture and draw through with a skewer or the end of a knife. You’re going for a swirly effect, so embrace your inner artist. Finish off by sprinkling over a handful of crushed peanuts.
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 15-20 mins, you are looking for it to have risen a little, and for the top to have set. It will still feel a little soft, unlike a spring-back ‘sponge feel’, but if inserted, a skewer should still come out cleanish, not wet. The idea of a good brownie is that it is fudgy and soft, not over baked.
  • This is delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream, but equally delicious cold with a cuppa. These brownies last beautifully in a tin due to the moistness of the banana. So, nothing left to do but to sit back relax.

 

Autumn Pumpkin Spice Muffins 1024 702 gastronome

Autumn Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Autumn has always been my very favourite season; in fact, I don’t think I could live in a country that didn’t produce a technicolour autumn.

There’s just something so special about digging out a cosy sweater and taking a long walk to admire the riot of gold and scarlet hues of the changing trees. Coming in from the cold requires hot drinks, and something delicious to eat, and these delicious spiced muffins are the perfect treat. They are super easy, and literally taste like autumn thanks to the addition of pumpkin, and the warming spices and nuts. You can buy pumpkin puree in tins, thanks to our American cousins, but if not available in your supermarket, simply boil prepared cubes of pumpkin or butternut squash (you won’t notice the difference!) until till tender, then blitz in a food processor.

What I absolutely adore abouts muffins, is that they’re completely acceptable to eat at any time of the day, unlike most cakes. These pumpkin ones are especially delicious for breakfast. Simply warm briefly in the oven, and your kitchen will become instantly cosy and full of intoxicating baking aromas, especially welcome on a chilly October morning.

However busy day to day life gets, I urge you take a moment to watch the Autumn wonder that is effortlessly going on around you. Take a deep breath and know that you’re a part of that change, that enriching passing of time. Just a beat taken to acknowledge nature’s last burst of vibrancy will fill you with something great. I leave you with a favourite poem of mine by the late US Poet Mary Oliver who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is inspired by nature, rather than the human world, and stems from her lifelong passion for solitary walks in nature. This poem I think embodies Autumn’s reoccurring melancholic miracle.

Autumn Song by Mary Oliver

Don’t you imagine the leaves dream now
how comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of the air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees, especially those with
mossy hollows, are beginning to look for

the birds that will come—six, a dozen—to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
stiffens and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its long blue shadows. The wind wags
its many tails. And in the evening
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

Autumn Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Recipe by Gemma SimmoniteCourse: DessertDifficulty: Easy
Makes 10 – 12Muffins
Cooking time

18

minutes

Ingredients

  • 255g Plain Flour

  • 1tsp baking powder

  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 1 tsp mixed spice

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 150g granulated sugar

  • 1 large free-range egg

  • 100ml semi-skimmed milk

  • 45ml honey

  • 100g cooked pureed pumpkin

  • 90ml vegetable oil

  • 50g sultanas

  • 50g chopped nuts (reserve a little for topping) – I used pistachios and cashews

  • Crunchy Sugar Topping
  • 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar

  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter

  • More nuts for sprinkling

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 200c, 180c fan or gas mark 5-6
  • In a large bowl sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, spices and sugar.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg with the fork, add the milk, oil, honey, and pumpkin puree and stir to combine.
  • Pour all of the liquid mix into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined and there aren’t any flour traces visible. On the last few stirs, add the sultanas. Remember a good muffin mix is a lumpy mix!
  • Spoon the muffin mixture into the prepared cases, fill over half full to ensure a well risen and full muffin.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the tops spring back, or a toothpick comes out clean.