Homemade Raspberry Jam

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

This recipe is so simple I almost feel a fraud for posting it.  But I didn't realise it could be this easy to make your very own, delicious, fresh raspberry jam!  It's amazing on toast, scones, bread...  And it only has two ingredients!  Yes, it has a lot of sugar in it, but so does jam you buy in the shop, and that jam has preservatives and ingredients I can't pronounce, too, so I'd choose this one any day.  It'll keep in an airtight jar in your fridge for a month or two.

Yield: 250ml     Time: 25 minutes


250g (1 cup*) fresh raspberries

250g (1 cup*) golden caster sugar


Heat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4.

Have a 250ml jar clean and ready to pour the jam into.

  1. Pour the raspberries and sugar into separate pie dishes.  If you have different-sized dishes like I do, use the larger one for the raspberries so that they are not piled up on top of each other.
  2. Place both dishes in the oven for 20-25 minutes until they are very hot.
  3. Remove them from the oven and pour the sugar into the raspberries.  It will begin to turn molten.  Give it a gentle stir until fully combined and then pour into the waiting jar.  Seal it and leave to cool before storing in the fridge.  It should keep well for a few weeks.


* 250g of caster sugar is equal to 1.1 US cup, whereas 1 US cup of fresh raspberries is only equivalent to 150g fresh raspberries.  I've rounded both to 1 cup of each here because so long as you have equal amounts raspberries to sugar then you should be okay.  Next time I'm in the US I will buy myself some US cups so that I can be sure of all of these conversions!

The mixture left me with a little over what would fit in my 250ml jar so I poured the rest into a mini jar.  It helped for cuter photos, too!

Source: Nigella Lawson - How to be a Domestic Goddess p346

Homemade Brioche

Friday, 11 July 2014

I used to find the idea of baking bread very daunting.  I envisaged needing to set aside an entire day so as to have the time to keep checking in on it, rolling and kneading at different points, leaving it to do its thing at others whilst I hovered anxiously nearby.

This is not one of those breads.  This is a perfect bread to get into bread making with, because it more or less just looks after itself.  I do love a self-sufficient loaf.

I threw this mixture together at 8.30 one evening, left it to chill in the fridge overnight, divided it and placed it in a tin first thing in the morning before I went out, returned two hours later to find it risen, and then put it in the oven to bake.  That's it.  It's that easy.  Yes, it takes '12 hours' to make.  But you'll be asleep for most of that if you do the overnight method, so it really takes no time at all.  Did I mention that the dough comes together in a stand mixer with a dough hook?  You don't even need to get sticky, dough-y fingers for this one!  No kneading!  What more could you ask for from a bread?

Okay, so you want it to be nice.  Butter-y and light and a touch sweet, and you want it to taste French.  Not to mention homemade and fresh.  This brioche is all of those things.  Make it.  Make it tonight, and have it for Saturday breakfast tomorrow.  Sit somewhere with nice natural light, take a bite, close your eyes and imagine you're in Paris.  Or don't.  You may love your place more than Paris, in which case that is awesome and don't ever leave.  But do make this brioche.

Yield: one loaf     Time: 12 hours


500g strong white bread flour (plus extra for dusting)
4g salt
50g caster sugar
10g fast action yeast
140ml warm full-fat milk
5 medium eggs
250g unsalted butter, softened (plus extra for greasing)

  1. Pour the flour into the bowl of your mixer, and then add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl, and the yeast to the other (don't place the salt next to the yeast as it will prevent it activating properly).
  2. Add the milk and the eggs and mix on a slow speed for 2 minutes, and then on a medium speed for 6-8 minutes until your mixture is elastic, soft and glossy.  You'll know it's elastic when you turn the mixer off as it'll retract like a living organism breathing.  I did it a couple of times, watching it, enthralled.  It may just be me, but I thought the whole process was pretty cool to watch.
  3. Add the softened butter and mix for 4-5 minutes until fully incorporated.  You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl down a couple of times!  The dough will be very soft by the end of this step.
  4. Tip the dough into a bowl (I sprinkled mine with a little flour first just in case), cover with cling film and chill overnight (or for at least 7 hours).  It should be firm and easy enough to shape.
  5. Grease a 25cm/9.8in (I used my 9in tin!) round deep cake tin.  It really does need to be a deep tin as it rises quite considerably.
  6. Take your dough out of the fridge and tip it onto a lightly floured surface.  Fold it in on itself a few times to knock out any air bubbles, and then divide into 9 equal pieces.  Place each dough ball in a 'cage' formed by your hand and the counter, and move your hand around in a quick, circular motion to create a dough ball.  Put 8 of the dough balls around the edge of your cake tin, and one in the middle (there will be gaps, but once it's been left to prove all those gaps will be filled).
  7. Cover with a clean plastic bag (I improvised with a large sandwich bag split down one seam and placed it over my cake tin, tucking under the sides), and leave to prove for 2-3 hours until the dough has risen to just above the rim of the cake tin.
  8. Heat your oven to 190C / 170C Fan / 375F / Gas Mark 5.
  9. Once the brioche has proved, remove the plastic bag and place the cake tin in the oven.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a knife in the centre comes out clean.  Be sure to do this test, as the sugar and butter in the dough causes the bread to brown before it's actually fully cooked!  Remove from the oven, take the brioche out of the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


This brioche will easily last a weekend in terms of freshness, but you can also heat it up a little in the oven if you'd like it warm.  It'll get a nice crispy edge to it!  Delicious with butter, or with Nutella.  Probably with jam, too!

Adapted from Paul Hollywood's 'How to Bake' p186.

Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Chickpeas and Grilled Halloumi

Friday, 4 July 2014

Long summer days and bright, warm evenings leave me wanting nothing more than a delicious bowl of quickly-thrown-together salad for supper.  It is true that it rains quite often in London, so you most definitely do not want to be spending precious hot, sunny days inside with the oven on.

Warm weather makes me realise how the weather and our eating habits are interlinked.   Come winter I'm struggling not to reach for the chocolate from underneath my cosy blanket as I pretend that boxset marathons are almost equivalent to socialising on cold, rainy evenings.  See me in the summer and I'll be snacking on fresh, ripe nectarines (I've eaten so many already this summer), spending my days outside with my non-fictional friends, and throwing together salads full of juicy, colourful vegetables.  I only really turn the oven on for cake because, let's face it, who doesn't crave cake all year round.

This salad happened by accident, but has happened many times on purpose since.  Every salad I make at the moment has peppers in it because their fresh, crunchy nature makes me inordinately happy.  Thrown together with some fancy, lightly-cooked ingredients such as halloumi, couscous and red onion and you've got a meal that looks and tastes as if it took far longer to put together than it actually did.  So go enjoy the sunshine, spend time with your favourite people, and then feed them this as you sit outside and watch the sun go down.

Serves: 4 people       Time: 45 minutes


100g couscous
150ml water
juice of 1 lemon
1 red onion
1 courgette
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 carrot
2 tablespoons olive oil
125g halloumi
1 can of chickpeas, drained
two large handfuls of baby leaf spinach
two large handfuls of rocket
pepper to season


Heat your oven to 150C.

  1. Put the couscous and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat, place a lid on the saucepan, and leave for another 5 minutes to finish cooking.  Pour in the lemon juice and stir.  Set to one side to cool.
  2. Slice the halloumi and place in a small frying pan over a medium heat.  Allow to cook in its own juices until they have evaporated and it has lightly browned, before flipping and cooking the other side.  Once browned on both sides, set aside to cool.
  3. Chop up all your vegetables and place in a deep baking tin along with the oil.  Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes until nicely roasted.
  4. Toss the roasted vegetables with the couscous in a large bowl, before adding the halloumi (torn up into pieces) and the chickpeas.  Tear up some rocket and spinach leaves and add to the mix.  Season with pepper and serve!


You could always roast the vegetables ahead of time, allow to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.  That way you won't need to turn the oven on in the evening and it will be much faster to throw everything together if you have guests round!

The complete dish stores very well in the fridge for 2-3 days and is just as tasty eaten cold - allow it time to come to room temperature, though, unless you like your food really cold!

Nutella-Filled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Saturday, 28 June 2014

If, like me, you didn't think a perfect chocolate chip cookie could get any better, then this recipe is here to prove otherwise.  It turns out stuffing the centre with a ball of fridge-chilled Nutella is the way forward.  Have a chocolate craving?  Look no further than this recipe!

It's raining today.  Of course it is, it's Glastonbury weekend.  I've never been a festival goer (I like my bed and shower too much) but having spent many, many days and nights at work standing in the middle of fields in 'waterproof' jackets that are fully saturated after six of twelve hours, I really do sympathise with everyone trying to make the most of splashing about in the mud this weekend.

Instead of doing that, I went to the gym this morning, and then for brunch with Flynn and Chris at a new American-style diner.  I had Nutella French Toast (oh my gosh), which completely and wonderfully balanced out my exercise.  It is Saturday after all.


Yield: 25-30 cookies


220g (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

165g (3/4 cup) soft brown sugar
220g (1 cup) golden caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
525g (4 cups) plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
285g (1 1/2 cups) milk chocolate chips
1 jar of Nutella, refrigerated (you'll use about half)


Heat your oven to 175C fan / 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4.

  1. Beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about three minutes.
  2. Add the egg mixture in two halves until fully incorporated.
  3. Mix in the vanilla.
  4. Stir in the flour and baking soda gently until combined.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Scoop the dough into balls.  Flatten each one in the palm of your hand, and then place a teaspoon of Nutella in the centre.  Fold the edges of the cookie dough up around the Nutella, pinching together to seal it in, and then roll it gently between the palms of your hands to form dough balls.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden around the edges.  Leave to firm up on the baking tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.  Eat hot or cold!


Adapted from Butter Baking.

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