Syn Free Creamy Chicken Korma!

One of the things that is rubbish about being on a diet and trying to be good is not being able to indulge in weekend meal treats like take-aways. A curry is generally perceived as a total no-go area when you’re losing weight. Well not necessarily on Slimming World! I invested in a brilliant little book at my meeting which is full of lovely low syn curry recipes and I can’t wait to try them all out.

Keeping it simple for the first recipe attempt and picked a creamy chicken korma as our Saturday night treat this weekend. I was looking forward to this all week, and It certainly didn’t disappoint! It was a lovely simple curry recipe and tasted fantastic! In my experience low fat currys can be a real let down (e.g. Weight Watchers curry sauces from a jar, horrible and watery), but this certainly wasn’t, and I would never have guessed that there was hardly any fat in it!

This recipe serves 4, and is syn free on Slimming World Extra Easy (Free on Original, and 13.5 syns on green)

Ingredients:

Fry Light

  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 tsp crushed cardamom seeds
  • 1/4 tsp crushed cloves
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Onion, peeled & finely grated (I whizzed it in the food processor)
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp mild curry powder
  • 3 tsp peeled & finely grated root ginger
  • 3 tsp peeled & finely crushed garlic
  • 200g Can chopped tomatoes
  • 1kg skinless & boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 5 tbsp fat free natural fromage frais

Instructions

  1. Spray a large frying pan with low calorie cooking spray and place over a high heat.
  2. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom seeds, cloves, cumin seeds and onion and stir-fry for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add the ground coriander and cumin, curry powder, ginger, garlic and tomatoes and stir fry for another 3-4 minutes.
  4. Put the chicken into the pan and pour over the stock. Bring to the boil, season well, cover tightly, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer gently for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. the pan from the heat and stir in the fromage frais. Serve Immediately.

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Slimming World Pancakes!

I love pancakes! It’s ridiculous to me that they should be confined to being eaten one day a year. When looking at this recipe which I found online I figured they wouldn’t taste like pancakes, but just like a sweet omelette. However, I was wrong! These pancakes are really tasty and genuinely taste like pancakes. It may have helped that I served them up real pancake style with bananas, blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup (for a few syns!), but these really felt like a treat breakfast. They used to be classes as syn -free but the recent changes to the syn value of sweetener would make these 3 syns in total.

If you’re not a fan of sweetener or are looking for something with a lower syn value then check out my half syn pancake recipe:

Ingredients (makes 2 pancakes)

  • 6 tbsp sweetener
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • Fry Light

 Instructions

  1. Separate the egg yolk and egg white into separate bowls
  2. Add 3 tbsp of sweetener to the egg white. Using an electric mixer, whisk up the egg white until it makes stiff peaks
  3. Add the vanilla extract and the rest of the sweetener to the egg yolk and mix well.
  4. Fold the egg yolk into the egg white mixture
  5. Spray a pan with Fry Light and pour half the mixture into the pan. After a few minutes flip the pancake over,
  6. Take the pancake out a few minutes later, and repeat the cooking process with the rest of the mixture.
  7. Serve them up with your favourite pancake topping and enjoy!

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Slimming World!

After somewhat of an indulgent Christmas I am now trying to be very healthy to lose a few pounds before I get married in April! I have tried Weight Watchers in the past, but felt like I needed to try something new to get motivated and get a bit of a new lease of weight loss life.

I found that Weight Watchers could be a bit limiting and I would spend a lot of time feeling quite hungry, so I was ready to step over to the dark side and give Slimming World a try. I have a few friends at work who swore by SW and seemed to be having real success. What appealed to me was that so many food groups seemed to be ‘free’ and there is no need to weigh out foods when cooking which can make things seem harder work.

I’ve officially been joined for 2 weeks now, and have my first weigh in tomorrow night so fingers crossed for a loss! I’ve found it difficult to work out how SW works as so many of the foods which are free were high in points on WW, but I think what it boils down to is that the SW plan is just so low in fat, so that if you focus your diet on the free and ‘super’ free foods you’re barely consuming any fat.

Unfortunately, being on a diet somewhat limits baking opportunities, therefore I am going to (temporarily) switch the focus of my blog posts to share some of the slimming world recipes which I particularly enjoy. I have found it’s such an easy eating plan, so I hope people enjoy the recipes that I post!

Christmas Chocolate Snowball Cake!

In December Bolton’s Clandestine Cake Club had the theme of ‘Jingle all the Way’. I knew straight away what Christmas themed cake I wanted to do. My Chocolate Snowball cake has become my ‘go to’ Christmas dessert recipe as I’m not a fan of Christmas pudding so this is what I usually bake.

It’s a very dense chocolate sponge with a simple vanilla buttercream. I love the contrast of the dark chocolate colour against the white topping, it’s quite impressive when you cut into it, and even though it’s a bit of a beast of a cake, it’s not too rich or sickly. I think the vanilla goes well with the chocolate sponge and stops it being too rich.

Ingredients:

For the Sponge:

  • 230g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • 170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 350g light soft brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 370g plain flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 500ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 500g icing sugar
  • 160g unsalted butter, softened
  • 50ml whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Uses two 20cm sandwich tins

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C/375 degrees F/gas mark 5. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with greaseproof paper.
  2. Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a microwave safe-safe bowl. Melt on a medium setting in 30-second bursts until completely melted. Stir well between each session. Alternatively, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until completely melted. Set the bowl aside to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, which should take 3-5 minutes using an electric hand mixer. Put the egg yolks in a separate bowl and beat them for several minutes. Slowly add the egg yolks to the creamed butter and sugar and beat well. Add the cooled chocolate to this mixture and again beat well.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a jug. Add one third of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in one third of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until tall the flour and milk have been added.
  5. In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites, with clean beaters, until soft peaks start to foam. Carefully fold the egg whites into the main batter using a metal spoon (do not beat or you will take all the air out of the mixture.) I find at this point that the batter is almost mousse like, it’s not a usual cake mixture consistency. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and bake for about 30 minutes. Insert a skewer in the centre of the cakes – it should come out clean when it’s cooked.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in their tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Peel the greaseproof paper from the bases of the cakes.
  7. Whilst the sponges are cooling make the buttercream frosting. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the butter and whisk on a low speed using an electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, until fully combined and a sandy consistency. Add the vanilla essence to the milk and pour into the butter and icing sugar while still mixing on a low speed, then increase the speed to high and whisk the frosting until light and fluffy.
  8. When the sponges are completely cooled sandwich the two layers together with the vanilla frosting and cover the top and sides generously. Use a fork to create texture on the outside of the cake.

 

I like to add a little translucent glitter over the top of the cake too as it adds a nice Christmassy shimmer!

 

Oreo Cookie Brownie!

This is a really simple recipe that has become a firm favourite in our household. It’s such a yummy moist brownie, and the Oreos are an extra little sneaky treat. Whenever I’ve made these for friends and family they’ve been well received, and I made these for the Horwich Christmas Fair cake stall, and they sold pretty well. It’s a Lorraine Pascale recipe, and I’ve found it’s consistently reliable whenever I make it.

Here’s the recipe:

Requires one 20cm square baking tin

Ingredients:

  • 165g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g dark chocolate, grated or finely chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 2 tsp vanilla extract (I tend to use the extract)
  • 165g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 154g pack of Oreo biscuits, broken into quarters

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, Gas mark 5 with the middle shelf ready. Grease the baking tin, then line with baking paper with the paper overlapping the sides a little
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the grated chocolate. Leave to stand for a few minutes until the chocolate goes soft then stir together.
  3. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla together in a large bowl until they begin to get light and fluffy. Add the sugar in two additions, whisking between each. Pour it around the side of the egg mix so as not to knock out the air that has been whisked into it. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes stiffer. Once the egg mixture is ready pour the chocolate into it, again around the sides so as not to knock the air out.
  4. Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt and a third of the oreos and stir until fully combined, then pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Scatter the remaining oreos over the top, pressing them in slightly. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. The middles should be very so slightly gooey.
  5. Leave the brownies in the tin to cool. The top will sink and crack a little. Pull the brownies out using the overlapping paper and cut the brownies into squares.

If you’re not a fan of oreos, you can substitute them for toasted walnuts, pecans or sprinkle the brownies with honeycomb. I may mix it up and try some other variations in the future, but I’m still not bored with the oreos yet as they’re so yummy!

I couldn’t resist posting the below pic which was taken at the Horwich Christmas Fair of my brownie on the cake stall! I’m pleased with how awesome it looks! Puts my food photography to shame!

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Horwich Christmas fair & Christmas Candy Cane Cupcakes!

Earlier this year I got involved in a Summer Fair which had been Co-organised by my friend and Clandestine Cake Club organiser (@dollybakes www.dollybakes.co.uk) to raise money for the Bolton Neo Natal unit. So when there was talk of a Christmas Fair, I was tripping over myself to volunteer to help out again!  The Horwich Christmas fair took place yesterday, and It was a fantastic event to be involved in. I think the final figure is still to be released, but I believe we raised over £1000 for such a fantastic cause!

My task for the day was to run the cake stall, where we asked local baking enthusiasts to  donate some of their produce for us to sell. Of course as a keen baker myself I felt it important to donate a variety of tasty treats myself and it being Christmas, it was only appropriate to do something festive themed. To my trusty Hummingbird Cake Days book I turned, knowing there would be something which would fit the bill. I selected the Candy Cane cupcakes as they seemed a good Christmassy choice of cupcake flavour, and I’m a fan of duo colour frosting swirl designs. I had been given a recommendation on how to do two colours in one piping bag which is different to how I would usually do it so I was keen to give that a try as well. I’m pleased with how the cupcakes turned out, they looked fantastic and tasted lovely, very festive. Here’s the recipe:

Makes 12-16 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the sponge:

  • 80g unsalted butter, softened
  • 280g caster sugar 240g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 240ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 large eggs

For the Frosting:

  • 500g Icing Sugar
  • 160g unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tsp Peppermint Essence
  • 50ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp christmas red food colouring
  • Transparent sugar/glitter for sprinkling

One or 2 12 hole deep muffin tins & piping bag with a medium-sized nozzle.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C, gas mark 5, and line a muffin tin with muffin cases
  2. Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment, slowly whisk together the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Place the milk in a jug with the vanilla essence, add the eggs and whisk together by hand. Pour three quarters of the whisked milk and eggs into the dry ingredients and mix on a low speed to combine. Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until smooth and thick. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining milk mixture and keep mixing on a medium speed until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth once again.
  4. Spoon the batter into the muffin cases, filling each one up to two-thirds. If any batter is left, use it to fill up more cases in the other tin. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until well risen and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tray for a few minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely before you add the frosting.
  5. Using the electric whisk or the freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the icing sugar with the butter and peppermint essence on a low speed until the mixture is sandy in consistency, with no large lumps of butter left in the bowl.
  6. Gradually add the milk and slowly mix until incorporated, then increase the speed to high and whisk until light and fluffy. Divide the frosting into two, leaving one as it is and mixing the food colouring into the second batch.
  7. Lay a large segment of cling film on a flat surface and spoon one of the batches of frosting onto it creating a long log of frosting. Roll it up with the cling film, then do the same with the other batch of frosting so you have two logs of the same thickness and length. Wrap both the logs side by side with another sheet of cling film and snip off one end of the cling film and drop the log into your piping bag. When you pipe, from the edge of the cupcake into the centre the two colours should come out side by side creating the candy cane effect. Then sprinkle with the glitter/transparent sugar.

 

 

‘To bake’ list!

I have been such a massive fan of GBBO this year, it’s been the first series that i’ve watched and it’s safe to say that I’ve been absolutely hooked. It’s given me a bit of a nudge to try and push myself to expand my baking experience and try some new things. I treated myself to the book which accompanied the series, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the show, or even if you didn’t see it, there are some fantastic recipes in there, so give it a go!

I have found that over the past few years as my interest in baking has increased, the selection of baking books on my shelf has also expanded somewhat. If I’m honest, to the point where I’d buy a new book, flick through and pick out recipes that I wanted to try, then the book would return to the shelf, and I’d totally forget the many delicious treats that had caught my eye!

I decided that I needed to be more proactive. I am quite an organised person, and love nothing more than a list to work through to give me a bit of direction so with this in mind, I sat down, (cup of tea and slice of cake to hand of course), took out a stack of my recipe books and worked my way through, creating a ‘To Bake list’. I hadn’t realised how behind I had got, by the time I finished, I had a full A4 page list of treats to bake!

So, over the next few months, I am aiming to tick off at least one item from the list each week. I have to admit I’m a little out of order with my blog posts, as I created the list prior to baking the Zebra cake (last post) and that was one of the top items on the list! I’ll be tracking my progress through the list on here, so you can see how I get on. In fact, if you’re like me and want to get a bit more organised with your baking, why not sit down and create your own ‘to bake’ list!?

 

Zebra Cake!

I recently bought Lorraine Pascale’s new recipe book. I have her other 2 and the recipes are really yummy, both savoury and sweet. Her Oreo cookie brownie is a particular favourite in our household! So when I bought the new one I was excited to try some of her new baked goodies!

The ‘Crouching tiger, hidden zebra cake, stood out to me, as I have been hooked on this year’s Great British Bake Off, and the hidden design episode was brilliant and sparked a desire for me to try something with a cheeky surprise inside.

The finished cake looks so impressive, and while it take a little time to do the step which creates the zebra stripes, it’s actually a pretty simple recipe!

The recipe makes 12 slices and requires a 23cm springform sandwich tin.

Ingredients:

  • 250ml sunflower (or other flavourless) oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 100ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 4 medium eggs (at room temperature)
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1 orange

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (fan 160 in a fan oven), 350 degrees F, gas mark 4. Grease the bottom of the sandwich tin with a little oil, line with baking parchment and oil again. Set aside on a large baking sheet.
  2. Put the oil, sugar, milk, eggs and vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat everything together well. It is best not to use an electric whisk as it will introduce too many bubbles, which are not needed for this cake.
  3. Pour out 400ml of this mixture (or 400g as it is the same weight) into a medium bowl
  4. Sift 175g of the self-raising flour into one bowl along with 1/2 teaspoon of the baking powder. Mix well and set aside. This is your vanilla mix.
  5. Sift the remaining 125g of self-raising flour and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder into the other bowl along with the cocoa powder. Finely grate the orange zest in. mix everything together well and set aside. This is your chocolate mix.
  6. Now, put a tablespoon of the vanilla mix in the middle of the tin. Then, using a clean tablespoon, put a blob of the chocolate mix in the middle of the vanilla one. Keep doing this, alternating between vanilla and chocolate, so you form a type of ‘bulls eye’   look.

7. Each time you dollop a blob in, the whole mix will spread out on the base. By the time you have used up both of the cake mixes, they should have just reached the edge of the tin.

8. Bake in the oven for 35 minute

9. Check the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre. It should come out clean. If not, then return to the oven for another 5 minutes or so until cooked. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the tin. Then carefully remove from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

It’s a really yummy cake, and the slight orange zesty taste is lovely! It’s particularly good when it’s still slightly warm from the oven! It’s really moist & perfect with a brew!

Black & White Chocolate Cheesecake Bars


This recipe is one that immediately stood out for me from the Hummingbird Cake Days recipe book, so has been on my ‘to bake’ list for a while! However, it was seeing a post on one of the blogs I read by Little Miss Hungry (http://littlemisshungryuk.blogspot.co.uk/) that prompted me to finally get baking it.

It’s a really simple, but pretty impressive brownie/cheesecake combo. Lovely for either a treat with a cuppa or as a dessert, it would be gorgeous with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, although, in my opinion, most things are great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

I would say, that while it’s a simple recipe, it is quite time consuming as it needs chilling time between a lot of the steps, so it’s not one that you can quickly pull together, so ensure you leave yourself plenty of time.

The recipe makes 12-15 bars and uses one 23x30cm (9x12in) baking tray.

Ingredients – For the base:

  • 250g (90z) unsalted butter
  • 420g (15oz) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 380g (13oz) plain flour
  • 60g (2oz) cocoa powder
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Ingredients – For the topping:

  • 80g (3oz) white chocolate chips
  • 300g (10.5oz) full-fat cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia)
  • 60g (2oz) icing sugar
  • 1 large egg

Instructions:

  1. Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the effs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure every bit of the mixture is incorporated.
  2. Sift together the remaining ingredients, then tip these into the batter into two batches, mixing in the freestanding mixer or folding in by hand.
  3. Cut off approximately one-quarter of the dough, cover with cling film and place in the fridge. Line the baking tray with baking parchment, then press the remaining dough into the tray, it’s useful if you create a bit of a raised lip around the edge of the tin to hold in the cheesecake mixture when this is poured in later. Allow it to set in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (325F), gas mark 3.
  5. Remove the base from the fridge and bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the tin before adding the topping, but keep the oven on for cooking the finished cheesecake.
  6. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Using the electric whisk or freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and mix thoroughly, then stir the melted chocolate into the cheesecake mixture by hand.
  7. Spread the mixture on to the cooled base, then remove the reserved dough from the fridge and crumble in large pieces over the cheesecake.
  8. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the cheesecake has set, then allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge for a few hours to set. Once set, cut the cheesecake into squares or rectangles to serve.

This is best served when it’s been removed from the fridge and been able to come up to room temperature a bit. It’s quite hard when it comes straight from the fridge so I would take out at least half an hour before you intend to serve.

Apple Streusel Cake!

 

I am a big fan of apple desserts. Apple pie warm with ice-cream is one of my favourite desserts and no matter how much I’ve eaten, if that’s on the menu, I’ll find room! This cake is basically a mix between an apple crumble and a cake. In my eyes, that has to be a winner so when my parents came to visit this weekend, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl! Needless to say, it did not disappoint and turned out perfectly. I have a feeling this easy recipe will become a household favourite!

Ingredients for the sponge:

  • 60g unsalted butter, softened plus extra for greasing
  • 140g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 80ml whole milk
  • 3 granny smith apples

Ingredients for the streusel topping:

  • 70g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 40g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 70g soft light brown sugar

One 20cm diameter spring-form cake tin

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (325 degrees F) Gas mark 3, then grease the tin with butter and dust with flour
  2. First make the streusel topping. Sift the flour and the ground cinnamon into a bown. Add the butter and using your fingertips, rub the ingredients together until they resemble breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and set aside while you make the sponge batter.
  3. Using a hand-held held electric whisk or free-standing electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla essence, and mix thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt, then add half of this mixture to the creamed butter and sugar, followed by half the milk. Mix well on a medium speed after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl, then repeat with the rest of the dry ingredients and the milk. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin.
  5. Peel, core and slice the apples into quartered and each quarter into three or four slices, depending on the size of the apples. Arrange the slices in concentric circles on top of the cake batter, then sprinkle with the streusel topping, making sure it forms an even layer.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until it is golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean with no uncooked mixture sticking to it. Set aside to cool and then remove from the cake tin. This cake can be enjoyed warm or cold.