Torrijas (Spanish Style French Toast) & 6 weeks to go!

I don´t know whether Torrijas is classed as a cake or a dessert but it´s definitely one of my favourite Spanish cakes or desserts and they are very typical and traditional at Easter time, so I also decided to enter it in the Easter Cake Bake blog event over at A Slice of Cherry Pie (if you click on the above link you will find out all the details about this event and how to enter).

I had a bash at making Torrijas once before and wasn´t very successful.I think it´s because I didn´t buy the right kind of bread (apparently this is the main secret to making perfect Torrijas)and also I put too much bread to soak in not enough milk, so they didn´t get wet enough so this year I thought I´d give it another try. I used Mil Postres recipe for torrijas as a basis for making my torrijas and this time they turned out perfectly and were absolutely delicious (even if I do say so myself!). My mum did the frying though as she didn´t want any hot oil to spit out onto my pregnant belly!

Ingredients (makes 8 to serve 4 people)

8 slices of special bread for torrijas (if you can´t get this bread, you could use brioche, milk bread, French baguette or even normal sandwich bread, however it is important that it is thickly sliced)
1/2 litre (just over 3/4 pt) of milk
100g sugar
1/2 cinnamon stick
peel of 1/2 lemon
2 eggs, beaten
abundant sunflower oil for frying
extra sugar & ground cinnamon (for dusting)


1. Place milk, sugar, cinnamon stick and lemon peel in a pan and heat until warm and milk becomes infused with the flavours. Do not allow milk to boil.
2. When milk has cooled, strain the milk through a sieve and put bread in milk and leave for some minutes (about 10-15) until bread has soaked up the majority of the milk. (as pictured below)

3. Dip bread in beaten eggs and then fry in abundant sunflower oil until golden on both sides.

4. Drain torrijas on kitchen roll to get rid of excess oil.
5. Mix sugar and cinnamon (I eyeballed the amount but there was definitely more cinnamon than sugar as I love cinnamon!)together and then dip the torrijas in sugar & cinnamon mix to coat them on both sides.

We put them in the fridge and ate them the following morning for breakfast.Yummy!

Anyway, the weeks are flying by and I am counting them down...there are only 6 more weeks (well 5 after this week finishes) till I give birth, which I´m looking forward to,well, maybe not the actual birth! ; ) and it´s all very exciting. I´m not sure how consistent my blogging will be up to and after the birth but hopefully will find some time to blog & bake or cook!


Sedgemoor Easter Cake

More Easter baking that I haven´t had time to get round to blogging as my parents were visiting during the Easter hols! I´d never heard of Sedgemoor Easter Cake before but came across this recipe in an old cookbook (I don´t remember which one, either Miss Read´s Country Cooking or Country Cooking) and thought they sounded pretty tasty! Sedgemoor Easter Cake? I hear you cry. I don´t know why it´s called Easter Cake as it actually looks more like a biscuit!Whether you choose to call it a cake or a biscuit, it´s pretty darn good either way! Sedgemoor Easter Cakes originate from the southwest of England and were very traditional on Easter Sunday where they were given in threes to represent the Holy Trinity.

Here´s the recipe I used:

Ingredients (makes about 12)

4 oz plain flour
2 oz butter (at room temperature)
2 oz caster (superfine) sugar
1 egg
2 oz currants
1/4 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp brandy (I didn´t have any brandy so used Amaretto, which was just as tasty!)


1. Rub butter into flour with your fingertips as if making pastry.
2.Add sugar, currants, spice and cinnamon and combine well.
3. Beat egg with the brandy (or in this case Amaretto) and stir into dry ingredients till well mixed.
4. I found the dough quite sticky so kept adding a little flour till it appeared to be the right consistency.
5. Roll out to about 1/2 inch thick, using a round biscuit cutter cut out biscuits and place on greased baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC (350ºF) for 15-20 mins, depending on your oven.

I really enjoyed these biscuits and will definitely be making them again. Next year I also want to try making my first Simnel Cake as I love marzipan and will be able to eat marzipan next year!


In search of a good paella en Ciudad Real-La Arrocería de Picón

I am trying to bake and blog as much as possible while I can as when the baby is born, I´m not sure how much time I´ll have to spare on the blog. Seeing as I´m not keen on fish or seafood, paella has never been one of my favourite dishes, however I do enjoy it if it is a meat paella. The best paella is said to originate from Valencia but you can find paella throughout Spain. One of the best restaurants for paella in the Ciudad Real area is La Arrocería de Picón (unfortunately the website is only in Spanish at the moment-probably as you don´t find many foreigners or tourists around these parts!) The restaurant is located in the small rural village of Picón and is decorated in a very modern, elegant and chic manner. It is a very spacious restaurant with two eating areas, both of which have water features and with views of the countryside, which makes dining a pleasure. My husband and I went with my in-laws and we shared a paella between the four of us. I think we ordered a Valenciano paella, which contains chicken, rabbit and snails (however we ordered it without the snails for my benefit as I don´t like them) and also has red and green pepper and large white beans (fabes). Although the paella was huge we ate every last morsel and in my opinion it was the best paella I have eaten as of yet! The restaurant also serves other dishes if paella is not your cup of tea as the first time I went to this restaurant I chose lamb chops, which were also delicious.

We had room for dessert too and although the majority of the dessert menu is frozen ice cream-style products, which is a little disappointing, they have a small selection of homemade desserts. I opted for the mango cake (pictured below), which was definitely a good choice. It´s a mango mousse-like cake on a sponge cake base topped with slices of caramelized fresh mango slices. Delicious!

I thoroughly recommend visiting this restaurant if you are in the area although it tends to get very crowded at weekends so it´s better to book a table. One of the down sides about this restaurant is due to it being popular and busy, it can be very noisy and it is difficult to have a conversation.


Easter Egg Nest Cupcakes & feeling hot, hot,hot!

As Easter is rapidly approaching, there are plenty of Easter bakes I´ve been wanting to try out so hence the following recipe. We were also off to a friend´s house for dinner and I always like to take something and what could be better than cupcakes?

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day with temperatures of about 30ºC.....it seems more like summer than spring! The only thing is, I don´t feel like baking as much, what with the heat of the oven combined with the sweltering heat of the summer-I think I´ll have to start making cold desserts soon! Plus in our block of flats they are still turning on the central heating....which is a complete waste of energy and money as at 30º C, we definitely don´t need it!

This is another recipe from my cupcake calendar but is maybe not the best thing to make on a hot day as all the chocolate kept melting and ended up everywhere!

Ingredients (makes 16-18)

1 cup butter at room temperature

1 cup caster sugar

2 cups self-raising flour

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract


2 tbsp cream

4 1/2 oz chocolate, chopped

grated chocolate (a Flake would be great for this)

Cadbury´s Mini Eggs/chocolate eggs or other candy eggs (As I can´t get Mini Eggs here, I used some chocolate eggs from Lidl)


1.Line 2 muffin tins with cake cases and preheat oven to 175ºC (350ºF)

2. Place all cupcake ingredients in a large mixing bowl and using an electric hand whisk, beat for about 2-3 mins.

3. Bake for 20 mins.

4. While cupcakes are cooling, place chopped chocolate and cream in a bowl in a pan of boiling water and stir till all the chocolate has melted.

5. Decorate cupcakes with ganache, grate chocolate over the top (for the "nest") and place 2-3 mini eggs on top (I only put one egg on top as they were quite big and it looked silly with more than one egg)


Baby Bottle and Pram Decorated Biscuits & the sad news that Fabricando Delicias is closing!

I offered to make some decorated biscuits for my friend´s baby's Christening for her to give as favours so this was my second practice attempt. The first attempt the biscuits turned out fine and were really tasty but the decorating was a little ham-fisted to say the least. I didn´t have proper icing bags and although I had a go at trying to make them out of baking parchment, they weren´t very successful so the icing was running out very quickly and I couldn´t really control it and they were decorated a bit messily. Last time I used this ready-made royal icing that you have to melt in boiling water but it´s quite difficult to get the right consistency plus when you are piping you burn your hands (unless I just need more practice with this frosting!). I used the biscuit recipe that we were given on the Christmas biscuit decorating course at Fabricando Delicias and in no time, whipped up the biscuits. This time I was armed with disposable icing bags and I decided to use a traditional royal icing recipe, which is made with raw egg whites. I found this much easier to use and handle and although it was a bit thick for flooding, I added a little water to get a thinner consistency, perfect to fill in the biscuits. I tried a couple of different designs for the biscuits to see which design my friend preferred. I had wanted to decorate the prams more elaborately but as it was pretty late by that time and I had run out of icing, I left them quite plain. I think they turned out quite well for a beginner and my friend seemed to like them. I´m a little confused though. Can anyone tell me if it´s ok to use royal icing with egg whites to decorate biscuits if you´re going to eat them? I saw on some British websites that this is the type of royal icing usually used, however some American websites claimed you shouldn´t use this kind of royal icing if you are going to eat it because of the risks of salmonella. Is this just Americans being overcautious? I think if I do end up making these biscuits for my friend´s baby´s Christening, I´ll just use the meringue powder recipe to be on the safe side! Unfortunately, I found out that Fabricando Delicias, the shop where I bought many of my cake decorating products and where I enjoyed and learnt a lot about cake/biscuit decorating in the three or four courses I took, are going to close their doors soon, due to lack of time and illness. This is a great shame as it means I´ll have to try and teach myself or attend courses in Madrid and it won´t be as handy as I will have to plan ahead if I want to make any fondant cakes etc as I´ll have to order the fondant or equipment online! I´d take over the shop myself if I knew anything about running a shop or a business!


Hot Cross Buns (one a penny, two a penny....)

As Easter is drawing nearer, I fancied having a bash at making some Hot Cross Buns as I really enjoy them and I can´t buy them where I live. My plan is to make them now and freeze 8 of them until Easter to have for breakfast when my parents come to visit. Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten hot (hence the name!) or toasted on Good Friday and the cross symbolizes the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

As I´ve only made bread- type recipes 3 times before and the last recipe I made was current teacakes, which are very similar to Hot Cross Buns, didn´t turn out as well as I´d have liked, I was a bit apprehensive as to how they would come out. However, not to worry, the recipe was fairly straightforward and I am quite proud of how they turned out (even if I do say so myself!). The recipe is an amalgamation between Delia Smith´s recipe in the Complete Cookery Course and a recipe I´d saved from Hello or Ok as is as follows:

Ingredients (makes 12)

1 tbsp dried yeast

450g plain flour

2 tsp caster sugar

2 tsp mixed spice (the smell as they were baking was heavenly!)

2 large eggs

Grated zest of 1 lemon 150 ml /1/4 pt warm milk

25g/1 oz butter, melted

75g/3oz currants (I actually used about 90g as didn´t have mixed peel and wasn´t adding the cherries or walnuts as recipe stated-I wanted a more traditional hot cross bun!)

4 tsp plain flour

2 tbsp honey (optional)

milk to glaze

1 tsp salt


1. Sieve plain flour and salt into large mixing bowl, then add caster sugar, mixed spice, dried yeast, currants and lemon zest and stir till combined.

2. Whisk warm milk and eggs in a measuring jug and add warm water till 300 ml/1/2 pt level is reached.

3. Add melted butter and gradually add milk and egg mixture, stirring until all the flour is well incorporated (see below) and forms a dough.

4. Knead until smooth & elastic (I found that my dough was pretty sticky so had to add a little more flour and a tiny bit of milk which I eyeballed until I had the "right" consistency!) 5. Leave for 5 mins, then knead again for 2 mins and divide into 12 equal(ish) flat "cakes". 6. Mix 4 tbsp plain flour with 3 tbsp cold water and pipe crosses on top of the buns (yes sir, I had my piping bag out again this week...I´m going to be a piping expert in no time..I wish!!!!) 7. Place on greased baking tray, brush with a little milk and cut a cross in the centre of each "cake", then cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 25 mins (be careful as although I tried a trick of spraying baking spray over the plastic wrap which I´d seen on a baking programme, it didn´t work and the plastic wrap stuck to the buns a little...maybe she used oil!)

8. Bake in a preheated oven at 220º C (425ºF) for 20-25 mins until golden brown and when you tap the bottom of the bun, you hear a hollow sound ( this time may vary depending on your oven..I had to turn my oven down to about 200ºC and only baked them for about 15mins!) 9. If you want, you can then brush them with a little honey which gives them a lovely shininess. Voíla! The finished product-great eaten hot or toasted and smothered in butter!

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