Bun in the Oven

foodie adventure though conception and beyond

Rocky road brownies


Now whether you are trying to conceive or actually pregnant, some times you just need a treat. And if you are gonna do it, do it properly. At work last week we were part of Macmillan’s World’s Largest Coffee Morning. For this all the staff were asked to bake cakes to be given away for a donation. These were the most indulant thing I could think of, and went down a storm!


120 g 70% dark chocolate, snapped into small pieces

113 g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

200g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean extract

2 lg eggs

95 g plain flour, sieved

1/4 tsp salt


85 grams dark chocolate chips

250 ml miniature marshmallows

3 hobnob biscuits


Preheat oven to 165C and place rack in centre of oven. Butter a 20 cm square baking pan. 

Melt the chocolate and butter in a large stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar.

Next, whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Finally, stir in the flour and salt.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle the brownies with the chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows and crumbled biscuits.

Return the brownies to the oven and bake for about 5 minutes, or just until the marshmallows start to melt. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. 

Makes 9 large brownies or 18 small.

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Creamy Blackberry and Bilberry Tart

For those times when you just need a desert, whether it is a family gathering, or a special meal for you and your spouse, this pie is a simple and tasty desert which is full of bilberries (you may know them as blueberries, which are high in antioxidents whiich are fantastic for women who are trying to conciece, or are already pregnant. I got this recipe from a friend who moved to Canada last year and has found that she loves to bake. I have reduced the size of the pie from her original recipe, and added a few little twists to make it mine, but I would like to thank her, as I think this is a true gem of a recipe, which is why I am sharing it with you!


Infued Sugar;

10g fennel  seeds

10g dried juniper berries

zest of 1 lemon

160g caster sugar.


Shortcrust Pastry;

190 g plain white flour

2 pinches of salt

115 g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

90 ml ice water


Blackberry syrup;

100g blackberries

10g infused sugar

20ml water


200 g fresh blueberries

 9 inch loose based cake or pie tin

For the Custard:

100 g infused sugar

20 g white flour

pinch of salt 

1 egg, beaten

60 g sour cream

For the Topping:

50 g infused sugar

30 g plain flour

30 g unsalted butter

Infused Sugar;

I usually have a box of this sat on my baking shelf, it keeps really well and is a lovely addition to many cakes and pastries. It is very simple. Zest 1 lemon into a motor, and add the fennel seeds and dried juniper berried. Grind up, and once it is a fine power, add a teaspoon of sugar, continue to grind, this should soak up the oils that they have produced. Then mix with the rest of the sugar and store in a jar or airtight container at least overnight before use.

Shortcrust pastry.

I love making pastry, but I understand that not everyone can  or wants to. So if you want to buy pre-made pastry, please make sure it is all butter variety.

The first thing with shortcrust pastry is to make sure the butter is properly chilled, along with the water needed. Weigh out the ingredients, and Sift the flour into a large bowl.  Take the butter and cut into small pieces and coat each in the flour. Handle the butter as little as possible. You do not want it to melt.

So now you have little pieces of butter coated in flour. With both hands, take the pieces and squeeze and drop back into the flour. Do this until the mixture starts to look like breadcrumbs. It should be a fine crumb, and this is the point you can start adding the water. Do it a little at a time until it forms a smooth paste. Do not over work it. As soon as it looks right, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for  an hour.

Melt a small amount of butter, an using a pastry brush, butter the tin and chill for 10 minutes. When the pastry is ready, take out of the cling film, and warm slightly with your hands, this stops the edges splitting when you roll is out. Dust a flat surface lightly with flour, and with a rolling pin,  roll it out to about 1/2cm thickness. To make sure it is large enough place your tin on top, and make sure the is at least 7cm all the way around. roll it up on the rolling pin, and unroll it over the cake tin. Carefully push the pastry around the tin, making sure there are no cracks or splits. If this does happen, wet the edge of the crack with water, and using some of the excess pastry patch it, and smooth. Once the tin is lined put back in the fridge of 30 minutes.

Making the blackberry syrup;

I’m very lucky, I have wild blackberries in my garden, which grow over form my neighbours garden. So I am able to go outside and pick these bad boys 🙂

But most grocers, markets and supermarkets will stock them in August – October if you can’t get them wild.

To make the syrup, heat the water in a pan, and desolve the sugar into it. Add the blackberries, and heat until it is all gooey and and soft. Press through a sieve, so that you have a smooth syrup. If you think it is to thick, thin it with a little boiling water.

With a pastry brush, spread this evenly over the pastry base.

Next sprinkle the bilberries in a single layer over the base and place back into the fridge.

To make the custard;

Sieve the flour and sugar into a bowl. Add  The salt. Whisk you egg and add to bowl with the sour cream. Fold all together until you have a smooth custard. Pour this over the bilberries until totally covered.

To make the topping;

This is quite simalar to the method used to make the pastry. Sieve the flour and infused sugar, add chilled butter cut into small pieces, and make into the a bread crumb like consistency. Sprinkle onto the top of the tart, and if you want, carefully draw patterns in the crumbs.

Place into a preheated oven at 175c for 55minutes or until the crumbs are browned.

Place on cooling rack. When cool, trim edges with a knife and carefully remove from the tin. Let completely cool before putting in an air tight container in fridge until needed.

Serve with frozen yogurt, or my favourite, Alpro Blackberry yogurt!

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Blog of the Week; Local kitchen

bruschetta risotto


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Blog of the week; In the pursuit of more



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Gok Cooks Chinese; Super speedy noodles

Talk about good timing, last night on Channel 4 was one of my favourite cookery shows – Gok Cooks Chinese; and today the spinach and spring onions in my veg patch were ready to harvest! I was inspired to make his super speedy pork and ginger noodles. Rather then going out and buying the recommended pork tenderloin, I had decided to use left over chicken from the fridge, and to add the spinach and sesame seeds for extra folic acid.
For those who don’t know, Gok Wan is an English fashion consultant, author and television presenter. He is of chinese/british origin, and he was brought up in Leicester. His father is a chef, and has been a huge influence on him. Most famous for his fashion programmes; “How to Look Good Naked” and “Gok’s Fashion Fix” this is his first adventure into the world of food. The book is available at most good book shops, and the tv show is on Monday evening, and on 4OD.

Gok Wan lighter b&w

  • 2oog shredded chichen ( I used left over chicken from the weekend roast)
  • Neutral oil such as groundnut, for frying
  • 3cm knob of ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  •  1 tbsp Chinese shrimp paste (replace with 1 tbsp dried shrimp, soaked and ground if unavailable) – use more if you like a stronger taste
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce, or to taste
  • ½ tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
  • 400g fresh thin egg noodles
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely julienned
  • 1 spring onions, trimmed and finely julienned
  • Handful of fresh spinach roughly chopped.
  • Sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds to garnish
  1. Heat a pan of water and when boiling, drop the noodles in, after 3 minutes, drain noodles and set aside.
  2.  Prepare your spring onions, spinach and carrots. Finely chop the garlic, chilli and ginger. If you are using fresh meat then stir fry for a couple of minutes in a little bit of oil. If using left over meat, then heat up in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  3. Heat the wok over a high heat and add a dash of oil. Add the ginger, chilli and garlic and stir-fry for 20 seconds until softened a little. Add the shrimp paste (or soaked ground dried shrimp if using) and continue to stir-fry until aromatic – about 2 minutes.
  4. Add a glug of water to create a sauce. Add the soy sauce and fish sauce (you may not need the fish sauce, depending on how strong your brand of fish paste is) and cook for 10 seconds then adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. Separate the noodles and toss through the wok for a minute to warm through and coat in the sauce. Then add the meat and stir through quickly to warm. Toss in the spinach and let it wilt a little. Once warm, remove from the heat and garnish with the raw carrot and spring onion. Season with a couple of drops of sesame oil and serve garnished with sesame seeds.

Gok cooks Chinese, catch up on 4od

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