My go-to Fat-free White Loaf Recipe, with or without old dough.

This takes a little longer from start to finish than the easier loaf recipe I have posted before, but it is now the only one I make when the bread making urge (or necessity) comes over me.  When I really get on a roll and am making two to three loaves a week this is fantastic as from the initial batch of dough you keep a little back to go into the next loaf you make, so a very easy form of sour dough if you like.  The longer you do this type of recipe, popping the old dough into the new, cutting a little from the batch and keeping it safe in a bag until the next time(I have left it a week before now and the old dough is still good to use) the tastier your loaves will become.

My thanks to Rosa Jackson which is where I came across the recipe, I had another envy moment as she has met Dan Lepard, I would so love to have a chat with him! Her recipe is here.I always make this as one big loaf, slashed across to make a tiger style loaf. I think the more you score it the fuller the loaf becomes.  I also use Dan’s method of kneading briefly every 15 minutes or so rather than one knead.

I forgot to turn my oven down a couple of times so tried baking this loaf at a slightly lower temperature for the whole time, it works very successfully(and I think even helps the crust), so have chosen that temperature for this.

Placing a casserole dish onto a lower shelf and then filling it with cold water when the oven is hot as you put the bread in will help immeasurably with the crust, it comes as close to the baker’s ovens as you can do at home.  You will get a face full of steam, and the quicker you do this and get the door shut the better!


600g plain flour (or a mix of wholemeal and white 30:70)
1 level teaspoon salt
8g fresh yeast, or 1 teaspoon dry active yeast
400ml warm water
a little oil for the worktop and your hands, or a little extra flour for kneading

***If you are going to try incorporating old dough after this than your quantities are:

500g flour
a little less than one level teaspoon salt
330ml warm water
8g fresh yeast / 1 tsp dried yeast
your reserved old yeast


  • Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Mix the water and yeast in a jug until it has thoroughly dissolved, then add to the flour, and mix until well combined.
  • Oil or flour your work surface (I alternate depending on mood, but more often choose flouring), and turn out your dough. Knead for about thirty seconds, (add the old dough if you are using and knead it in until well incorporated) and return to the bowl, covering with a towel or wrapping with a plastic bag.
  • Knead another two times at fifteen(ish) minute intervals, for a minimum of thirty seconds, a maximum of a couple of minutes. If you want to bake regularly then take approximately 150g of dough, bag it up and pop it in the fridge. Leave a little space for growth in the bag!
  • Leave to rise for about one and a half to two hours, until the dough has doubled in size and really soft and easy to press down, you shouldn’t feel much resistance.
  • Turn out onto your work surface, and knead all the air out, then roll up your dough into a oval loaf shape, patting the edges under, and place onto a floured baking tray. With a very sharp non-serrated knife score the top of the loaf as many times as you would like, a cross is fine, I choose long scores across about one inch apart.
  • Cover again, and leave to swell for about forty five minutes, and pre-heat your oven to gas mark 7, not forgetting to put a good sized dish in on a lower shelf to heat up too for the water.
  • When the oven is hot and your bread has about halved again in size, get about a pint of cold water, open the door, pour into the dish quickly, get the bread onto the highest shelf and shut the door.
  • Bake for about forty minutes, check half way through and turn if needed. When it is a beautiful golden brown, take out, place on a cooling rack, and try to let it cool, before slicing!
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Butter free Vanilla Cupcake recipe


I’m starting a bit of a new theme with this recipe, as it’s brilliant to make with children, simple mixing, no warming or creaming because you use oil, either sunflower or a simple olive oil, I used sunflower, and these are beautifully moist and fluffy, and twice trialled now (the second being during an ESL class with a 3 and 6 year old!) We topped the second batch with homemade royal icing (VERY easy to make) we’d put a little blue into, and sprinkled them with a little edible glitter I’d bought online.  Using cup measurements also makes it really easy to do with small children and the quantities are good for explaining halves, thirds, the difference between a teaspoon and tablespoon, it’s a very effective way to learn! And the results they got to take home! Best English class ever surely? I’ve also become a little bit addicted to making cakes recently and playing with different icings, in order to continue down the path of weight loss(I’ve lost over 20 kilos in roughly 18 months, hooray to me!) I wanted to find some options other than buttercream, and then to take it further and go butterfree.  No, you can’t eat lots of these either, but they also keep well for a few days in a container.  Just go for a lovely long walk if you have 2 in one go! Also great icings I’ve found is a marshmallow one, yummy! The recipe I found said this makes 15, both times it made closer to 18 cupcakes.

Ingredients for Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes:
1 1/4 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour (l0ok for a low protein percentage, 9-10% is great)
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil (vegetable or extra light olive oil also work)
1/2 cup buttermilk – you can substitute the buttermilk with 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice (and leaving for 5 minutes before using)


  • Line a muffin/cupcake tin with cases. Preheat your oven to 180degC, 350degF, gas mark 4.
  • In a small bowl mix all the dry ingredients. Put it to one side.
  • In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar until foamy and creamy.
  • Add the vanilla and oil and whisk well to incorporate.
  • Add half the flour mix, and mix well, then half the buttermilk, combine and repeat the process.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure every bit of flour is well mixed in.
  • Spoon approximately one and a half tablespoons of the mix into each case, and pop into the oven for roughly twelve to fourteen minutes.  The tops should be a lovely golden brown, and testing with a cocktail stick it should prick and come out clean.
  • Let them cool and ice with your favourite type!  Icings to come!
  • cupcakes
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It´s mincemeat time again, I love this so much I have to reblog it for you!


I was given the link to a blog last year for a suet free mincemeat recipe, and it was so truly scrumptious, even though I skimped a little on a couple of ingredients, namely using ordinary brandy and cider, instead of the suggested West Country cider (although a still cider would be preferable if you can get one) and Somerset Cider Brandy, which although sounding incredible are beyond my remit. As you cook this until you get an oozy amalgamation you will find you can use it as soon as it’s cold, and it keeps in sterilised jars for at least a year.  This mincemeat, combined with the sweet shortcrust pastry recipe from an edition of Delicious Magazine, will revolutionise your mince pies, and  even naysayers will find themselves sneaking back for another.  I am headed towards my sixth dozen so far this Christmas, using a mixture of traditional  and…

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The best, suet free, mincemeat recipe

I was given the link to a blog last year for a suet free mincemeat recipe, and it was so truly scrumptious, even though I skimped a little on a couple of ingredients, namely using ordinary brandy and cider, instead of the suggested West Country cider (although a still cider would be preferable if you can get one) and Somerset Cider Brandy, which although sounding incredible are beyond my remit. As you cook this until you get an oozy amalgamation you will find you can use it as soon as it’s cold, and it keeps in sterilised jars for at least a year.  This mincemeat, combined with the sweet shortcrust pastry recipe from an edition of Delicious Magazine, will revolutionise your mince pies, and  even naysayers will find themselves sneaking back for another.  I am headed towards my sixth dozen so far this Christmas, using a mixture of traditional  and Christmas shaped tops , meringue tops and iced topped frangipane, I can recommend doing a mixture of them all as variety is the spice of life! My children over the past three years of me making my own mince pies have gone from only liking the meringue style to loving them all, but only homemade, and only with a really good mincemeat, if you gave them a shopbought one they’d turn their noses up at it!

My version didn’t use cooking apples, hard to find over here, so I choose the tartest green eating apples I can find, and you’d never know the difference.

Instead of brandy you could use a dark rum, and although I love the subtlety of the spices in this for the next batch I’m going to add another half teaspoon of mixed spice and cinnamon.

Unfortunately I can’t post photos at the moment, hopefully Santa will get my netbook fixed for me! So when I can I’ll pop some up, in the mean time, here’s the link to the mincemeat, thanks so much Very Berry Handmade!

On with my slight tweak:

400ml medium cider
450g soft brown sugar
1.8 kg cooking or tart eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces.
450g currants
450g seedless raisins
100g natural glace cherries, finely chopped
100g blanched almonds, finely chopped
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp brandy, as good as you can afford

*Optional – zest and juice of an orange


  • In a large deep pan warm the cider and sugar through without boiling until the sugar has dissolved, then add the apples, followed by the dried fruit, cherries, almonds and spices, zest and juice.  Do not put the brandy or rum in at this stage!
  • Slowly bring the mixture up to the boil stirring continuously, then reduce to a low simmer, place a lid half on, and cook for between half an hour and an hour, stirring from time to time.  You’ll probably find the apples need nudging into the mix as they tend to float a little.  When you have a soft, pulp like consistency take off the heat and cool completely, before stirring in the brandy (or rum).
  • While the mincemeat is cooling get your jars ready, you will need at least four large jars, wash them, then rinse and dry in an oven on a low heat like gas mark 2.  I use a little greaseproof paper between the lid and the jar, and there is still half a jar in my fridge from last year’s batch.  Seal tightly and they should keep perfectly well in a cupboard, although if you live somewhere hot I’d possibly err on the safe side and refrigerate if you’ve any left come Spring. Once opened keep it in the fridge.

NB. I say to cut everything into small pieces as eating apples don’t tend to break down like cooking apples, and you want each spoonful going into your mince pies to be balanced, not a big dollop of apple (or cherry, or almond) and little else! For those with nut allergies I have made this without and it is still beautiful.

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How to eat in style Camping

Blasted children, I haven’t been able to blog for ages due to the fact they seem incapable of using a PC without horrifically infecting it! Sigh.

Ah well, we’ve been  on holiday for a week in the UK and I am currently sitting here scratching on a multitude of mosquito bites having just spent a couple of days chilling in a field with my best friend, quietly congratulating ourselves that with every intrepid trip to the wilds (in this case a mere ten minute stroll from public transport, toilets, a pub and a local shop, but hey we like making life easy on ourselves!) the range of food we eat whilst there improves so much, and I thought I would share a few things that are incredibly easy to do.

There is something so satisfying about cooking over a real fire, and there are things that you can do to make cooking on a fire easy. Firstly, digging a pit for your fire helps immensely, take the rack from your barbeque at home and dig, even with a garden trowel, so that you can get really hot embers under it and not have to perch things precariously. Roughly six inches deep is enough, make sure you don’t dig too wide you can’t rest your rack on the edges though! Forget those flimsy portable barbeques you can get, there is rarely enough charcoal to cook on, if you really want  to use one grab a sack of coals so you can fill it up more.  Before I realised how much easier it is to bring a rack from home I once connected the tops of three disposables with tent pegs threaded through to make one large enough to do some decent cooking at Glastonbury, just call me Ray Mears!

If you find a spot you know is away from animals and you clean up after yourselves (and I mean really clean up after yourselves!), there are plenty of places you can camp without going to a campsite. If you choose a campsite there are a few gems scattered about the country that will let you have fires.  Google it and you´ll find a reasonable choice.  A few years ago we went to a beautiful small site called Heaven Farm in East Sussex, and I highly reccommend it. If cooking over a real fire isn´t your thing, getting a gas powered camping stove is also a very worthy addition to your kit, just don´t bother with those tiny single ones that use cans of gas, get one you connect to a gas bottle.

Equipment wise, a couple of saucepans is really all you need, a frying pan if you fancy fried eggs with your bacon with your breakfast, and tongs etc for manhandling your meat!

A few years ago at Glastonbury our group became a lot bigger than expected and I popped into the charity shops of the nearest town and found a pressure cooker for five pounds, and wow was it a great buy! It uses so much less heat to produce results, so even if you are rubbish at keeping your fire going(I do not include myself in this group!) you can still rustle something up. There were a lot of envious people wandering past wondering what smelt so good as a massive pan of vegetarian chilli came together in it! Glasto is fab for camping, Mr Eavis sells you fire logs and they are pretty darn good to cook on.  The green fields there can even result in some fresh vegetables at very reasonable prices.

The first few times you go will probably consist of easy and light(unless you´ve been lucky enough to find somewhere you can park your car close to hand!), think flavoured packets of cous cous with smoked sausage, burgers, sausages and the like, packet soups, noodles. The more you freeze and store in cold bags the longer all your food will keep, and try for long life products, bacon is cured so will sit, cool for a couple of days, and quorn or other such branded products are absolutely great, a vegetarian chilli until this last trip, has always been on the menu, with either boil in the bag rice or jacket potatoes, pricked, seasoned and given a nugget of butter, wrapped in foil and nestled in the coals. Treat corn on the cob the same way, just don’t bother with pricking them.

This last trip, however, just blew the chilli out of the water, I did a loose version of Jamie Oliver’s Venison and Mushroom Stroganoff, with some trusty boil in the bag rice, and it was amazing. I’ve made it before at home, but I think cooking over wood just completed it. There was something so apt about eating things you´d have originally sourced from nature, and I just love venison.   Yes, so I forgot parsley, and used whisky instead of brandy, and threw in a handful of halved cherry tomatoes, but this is an excellent camping dish if you have just two pans, and it’s you and your nearest and dearest. Simple, just a handful of ingredients, fairly quick to bring together, and blow your mind tasty! No photos I’m afraid as by this stage I was cooking with just a little lamp and fire to go along with! The recipe for it is here.

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Pork, mushroom and potato terrine recipe (Patatas a la Campesina)

I saw this recipe while browsing Spanish sites, it looked like perfect picnic fare, or something with a little wow factor to have for dinner with a salad on a hot day. It translates to Potatoes of the Countryside, which makes me think this is the sort of rustic and authentic food I am always in search of. In essence it is a simple, liver free terrine with bacon wrapping up all the other ingredients, and having now made it twice I will definitely be adding it to our regular appearances. Unfortunately the link no longer shows the recipe so I’m glad I translated it when I did!  I added a little garlic to the mushrooms and used fresh thyme instead of Herbs de Provence, but then I am not one to follow a recipe religiously!

Yesterday was mostly spent at the beach with some family and friends so having something ready I’d prepared in the morning meant  the main part of dinner was already tackled, and it looked great pride of place amongst the other tapas we had.

Lomo adobado is sold everywhere here, it is fresh pork loin marinaded in paprika, garlic and other herbs for what can be a few days, and the butcher cuts you thin slices. A good marinade recipe for making this yourself is here, and it certainly looks worth the time spent, but for most of us thinking a couple of days ahead is a bit much(although I believe even overnight marinading would be enough), so if you don’t have the time and can’t get it ready to go then normal pork loin will work equally as well.  My preference is unsmoked bacon for this, as the fillings are quite subtle and I don’t want to overpower the flavours, but feel free to use what you prefer.

Ideally this is made in a circular deep lipped oven dish, but as I don’t have one I used a large square roughly 30 x 30cm dish.  This will feed six generously. I have given approximate weights of the pork and bacon as you may use a little more or less bacon depending on how big your slices are, and the pork, you need one full layer, stretch it out if you don’t have much, overlap it if you have lots.


approx 30 slices / 400g unsmoked streaky bacon
approx 8 slices / 400g lomo adobado / thinly sliced pork loin
1 kg peeled potatoes
200 g oyster mushrooms
200 g creme fraiche
200g grated cheese
2 cloves garlic
olive oil for frying
a sprinkle of fresh thyme, or dried herbs de provence
salt and pepper


  • Boil your peeled, whole potatoes until they are still firm but cooked, about twenty minutes. Drain and leave to cool until you can touch them easily.  Cut into thin slices about 5mm thick.
  • Preheat your oven to gas mark 6, 200 degC, 400 degF.
  • Finely chop the garlic, and roughly chop the mushrooms. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and briefly cook the mushrooms with the garlic, and a little salt and pepper until they are lightly golden in colour. Place to one side and allow to cool.
  • Line your dish with bacon, making sure you leave plenty over the edges to bring over your fillings, and that you have overlapped slightly.  Reserve a few slices to ensure that you can  fully cover the top.
  •  With half the potatoes, add a layer snugly.

  • Add a generous layer of the pork slices, then spread the cooled mushrooms over the meat.
  • Add the rest of the potatoes in another layer. Spread the creme fraiche evenly, then sprinkle the cheese, and herbs, over.
  • Bring the bacon over , and use the reserved slices to fill in any gaps. The bacon will most likely shrink a little during cooking so make sure you have a good coverage.

Place into the oven for around forty five minutes until the bacon is golden. Allow to cool and then flip out onto a large board or plate so that the bottom is now the top.  I do this by putting the board on top of the oven dish and then flipping.  Eat with a lovely dressed salad, watercress is excellent with this if you can get it.

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What to do with leftover Hot Cross Buns…

Having made two batches of HCB‘s I ended up being left with nearly a dozen that were getting a bit stale (should have put some in the freezer but hey ho, this way works too!), even for toasting. So I made up an enormous dish of Bread and Butter pudding, which was delicious!

Well actually no butter, I halved each bun and smeared them with my Clementine Marmalade, before making up a litre of custard (of which I used 750ml, but I have made Bread and Butter pudding before and not made enough custard). I kept the custard lowish in fat by not putting any cream in and using semi skimmed milk only, so the biggest naughtiness was the liberal sprinkle of demerera sugar I gave it before going into the oven.

Most people won’t have nearly a dozen rolls left, so four to six rolls and a pint of custard in an oven dish will give you a good pudding for four. Use butter, or marmalade (the orange goes very well with the fruit of the buns) or jam, even chocolate spread, layer them on a slant, and once your custard is made up (use shop bought but thin it down a little if it’s the instant type or make your own-this is a good recipe and the cornflour ensures it will thicken) pour over the buns, making sure you get them all, until the level of custard is about half way up the dish. Give the buns a little push into the custard, then leave to let it soak into them for about half an hour.

Sprinkle some brown sugar over the surface before putting into a preheated oven at gas mark 6 / 200 deg C / 400 deg F, for about half an hour to forty minutes, turning once to make sure it evenly browns.

Gorgeous eaten on its own, sinful when eaten with cream or icecream, or even more custard! I worked at a Hotel where some people would have icecream, cream and custard all together over their pudding!

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