Summer Tray Baked chicken

This delicious and easy dinner is based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe with a few small tweaks. 

See the original recipe here:

The main changes I made are:

  •  The removal of garlic (not kind to my stomach).
  • The addition of more tomatoes and courgettes.
  • White onion (mainly because I didn’t have red).
  • An extra half tablespoon of oil (I used rapeseed as it’s more temperature stable than olive oil).
  • A little extra balsamic vinegar.
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce.
  • Dried thyme instead of fresh.
  • 1 chopped up lime.


  • Lots of cherry or large tomatoes (chop cherry in two or leave small ones whole and chop large ones into quarters).
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1/2 – 3/4 red pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 yellow pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 orange pepper
  • 1 – 2 chopped up courgettes
  • 6 chicken thighs , skin off, bone out
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons rapeseed oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lime

The method is so simple:

  1. Chop up all the veggies into chunks and chuck them into a roasting tin.

  • Quarter the onion and place that in too.
  • Add the chicken thighs and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.
  • Add the oil, balsamic and soy sauce and stir well with a spoon until everything is well covered.
  • Chop the lime into quarters and squeeze over the top. Pop each quarter in the tray too. 
  • If you have time pop it in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight.
  • Before roasting spread out so the chicken isn’t covered by the veggies and is flat rather than folded over.
  • Preheat oven to 180C and roast for an hour basting about every 15 minutes.
  • This can be served in many ways with salad, rice, pasta but our favourite way us with roasted new potatoes. This recipe is great: .
  • Tonight I tried roasted hassleback new potatoes
  • Advertisements

    End of term cupcakes

    I have taught the most wonderful class for the last two years so I wanted to create something special for them.

    I created a cupcake for each of their interests. Most I knew but a few I had to ask. 

    An edible pen was my best friend with lots of these but below I’ve listed tge steps for each one.

    Dino – free formed from coloured fondant.

    Fox – Circle cutter for the base and a circle of lighter fondant then cut with the same circle cutter to get the face shape. Ears cuts with a knife and eyes and nose rolled from black fondant. 

    Book – I rolled out fondant and left it about 10 mins to harden a little. I cut out a book shape with a knife and the repeated that with the white fondant using the first one as a template. I cut the white ones slightly smaller and curled the edges a little then used an edible pen to add the writing.

    Lego – made a day or 2 before with a little gumpaste added. For the brick I rolled it thick and left to harden a little and then used a knife to cut and sharpen the edges. For the tops, I rolled a tube of fondant and cut into slices and glue to the top with sugar and water glue. The lego man was hand formed.

    Fairy – She was made a few days before the harden the wings. I folded gumpaste in half and cut out the shape of the wings with a knife. I then placed it to dry with kitchen roll under it so the wings didn’t flatten. The fairy was made by hand then placed on. Finally she was painted with a mix of gold lustre and vodka (when it dries the alcohol evaporates).

    Dogs – A large circle cuttet of one colour and a smaller circle cutter for the muzzle. The nose and eyes were rolled out of black fondant. The ‘smile’ was drawn on with an. edible pen. The ears were cut freehand with a knife. The tongue was a small rolled ball of fondant swished into shape. 

    Hedgehog – Dark brown fondant cut with a circle cutter. Light brown fondant cut with a circle cutter laid on top of each other and cut with the top of a medium heart cutter. The two matching sections were then laid together on the buttercream. The eyes and nose were rolled balls of black fondant. The spikes were made by repeated snipping the dark brown fondant with sharp scissors. 

    Unicorns – The ears and horns were prepared a few days before out of gumpaste so they could harden.  The ears were balls of fondant squished into circles between thumb and finger and folded together at each end. One end was pressed to give a sharper point. They were wet slightly inside and sprinkled with edible gold glitter.  The horns were a thin rolled out string of gumpaste folded in the middle and twisted/wound together tightly. One end was pushed onto a flat surface to flatten and the other pinched into a point. Once dry they were painted with gold lustre and vodka (see note above). On the day I cut a white fondant circle with a circle cutter and used an edible pen to draw the eye lashes. I then got a piping bag and painted 3 diffetent colours of food colouring in stripes down the inside of the bag. I then put the buttercream in and piped until the colour showed. I then piped tiny swirls on top and pushed the horn and ears in. 

    Spiderman – I cut a red circle with a circle cutter. The eyes were small circles made by squishing a fondant ball and cutting in half. The web was added with edible pen.

    Darth Maul – very similar to spider man but the eyes and forehead detail were cut from black and white fondant the rest was edible pen. 

    Train – I used a train cutter and rolled the black really thin. I cut another train in black and cut out and pasted on the black sections. The details were habd cut and pasted on.

    Parkour symbol – this was drawn with the edible pen.

    Footballs – a white fondant circle and pentagons cut with a knife the pasted on.

    Hamster – a light brown fondant circle cut with a circle cutter. A skin coloured section cut with a mefium heart cutter and then the bottom cut off with a circle cutter. The ears were small folded circles and the eyes and nose balls of fondant. 

    Harry Potter – the lightning scars were handcut with a knife and the glasses drawn with edible pen. The scarf was strips of fondant cut into small rectangle by slicing. I laid them next to each other alternately and pasted down. I then neatened the edge by pressing with a knife. 

    Book birthday cake

    It wasn’t the best cake I ever made as I had a bulging issue. I don’t think an hours drive and humid weather agreed with it. 

    However the friend it was for loved it. It was a cake of her favourite books so I ordered icing sheets from loveprinteat and cut out each spine, placing a little fondant underneath to give them shape. The photo and coke can were also from the icing sheets. 

    Red Wine Cupcakes

    I hate wine especially red wine. I’m sorry but it all tastes like vinegar to me. However these cupcakes tasted like wine but were yummy. There was enough grapey fruitiness for a non wine lover but enough sharp dryness for that wine flavour. I decided to try these for father’s day because dad loves red wine. They were a hit!

    I used this recipe:   but only for the icing.

     I made my standard chocolate cupcakes by making a classic Victoria sponge (weigh two eggs and measure the same in flora light, sugar and flour. Cream the sugar and butter then add eggs and flour, 1 tsp of baking powder and 1 tsp of vanilla) but subbing some of the flour for cocoa powder. My eggs weighed 140ish so I used 100 flour, 40 cocoa. I also decided to add 50g of melted dark (85%) chocolate and 50g of chopped dark choc. I used 2/3 white sugar and 1/3 dark brown sugar. This gave the cupcakes quite a dense brownie like texture. If you want lighter and fluffier I would add some buttermilk or sour cream and a few tsp of strong coffee. Possibly leave out the melted choc too. 

    This was the mix texture:

    And these were the cakes:

    The buttercream:

    I found i needed more wine than the recipe said as it reduced down very quickly. That could be because i made them in 28 degree weather though!

    I used a star tip and piped a swirl starting at the outer edge. 

    The swirl was so tall I had to doctor the cupcake box to avoid squashing them!

    The pefect father’s day treat! Yum!

    Homemade Easter Eggs

    I have wanted to try making my own cream eggs for a while and found a variety of recipes. After a bit of tweaking this is what I came up with. 

    I made three versions: cream egg, coffee egg and sweet filled (actually I did a nail varnish filled for my neice too but the container didn’t quite fit). 
    Making the shells:

    I used a silicon mould which made it very easy to get them out. I found the best method was to pour the chocolate in and then spread it around the mould with a food safe paintbrush. 

    I found 3 layers created quite a thin shell and 4 layers quite a thick shell. 

    I haven’t learnt to temper chocolate properly especially for small amounts but I did see a demonstration where they said the easiest way was to use seed chocolate to cool it down quickly having a tempering effect. This may be complete nonsense as I’ve not looked into it but it seemed to work fairly well and my chocolate dried fairly hard and shiny.

    1. Melt your chocolate on 50% power in the microwave until completely melted (I found bursts of 40, 30, 20, 15 seconds worked about right. 

    2. Chop up one square of chocolate into small pieces and pop these in the melted chocolate then stir until it has all melted. 

    3. Pour chocolate into each mould and push around the edges with a food safe paintbrush. Run a sharp knife edge across the top to remove excess.

    4. Pop in the fridge for ten minutes.

    5. If the chocolate has hardened too much, repeat the melting process above, including the chopped chocolate. Pour some more ibto the moulds and repeat as above. 

    7. Repeat for 3 or 4 layers as desired and after the last layer leave in the fridge for 30 mins.

    The fillings:

    Sweets – any you choose – I used Dolly Mixtures.

    Cream egg:

    The first recipe I saw asked for butter and this was delicious but not particularly cream egg like. I think this batch had too much vanilla too. I really liked the taste but for a more authentic cream egg flavour I found trex with just a little butter worked best and just a touch of vanilla. The picture below shows the butter version.

    1 cup corn syrup
    1/2 cup shortening (trex) or butter

    1/4 tsp vanilla

    Pinch of salt

    Roughly 2 cups sifted icing sugar

    1. Soften the butter or shortening as necessary and pop in your mixer and beat on high for a few minutes until very smooth. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and mix on medium until smooth.

    2. Add the icing sugar a little at a time on low, stopping when it is still smooth and a bit runny.

    3. Keep covered until ready to use as it develops a skin if left without a cover.

    Coffee eggs:

    Make as above but put 2 tsp instant coffee in an egg cup and add hot water. Stir until dissolved and use about 4-5 teaspoons until it has the coffee strength you like. Add more powdered sugar to thicken back to desired consistency.

    Filling the eggs:
    1. Push the eggs out of the mould and make sure you have 2 halves that match. Annoyingly my mould has 6 halves so you only get 2 matching halves each time. 

    2. Make sure the chocolate is melted and repeat the seed chocolate process as above.

    3. Spoon your desired filling into each half. If you are doing cream eggs, then spoon a little of the filling out and mix with yellow or orange food colouring (I found one drop of each looked best). Then spoon a little of the yellow filling on top of the white. 

    4. Use the paint brush to brush melted chocolate round each edge then press together making sure it matches well. Use your finger to brush off any excess from the join. Chill in the fridge to set. 


    Sticky Toffee Cake

    A delicious moist and sticky toffee cake with caramel buttercream and toffee topping. 

    Cake ingredients:

    3 1/2 cups of plain (all purpose) flour  with 1 tbsp baking powder OR 3 1/2 cups self raising flour with 2 tsps baking powder.

    1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda).

    1/2 tsp salt.

    1/2 tsp mixed spice (allspice).

    1/2 cup rapeseed (canola) oil.

    1/2 cup melted butter.

    1/3 cup honey.

    3/4 cup golden syrup.

    2 tbsps treacle

    3/4 cup dark muscovado sugar.

    3 eggs.

    1 tsp vanilla.

    1 cup cool tea/coffee (I mixed both).

    1/4 cup dissarono (amaretto).

    3 tsp sour cream.

    10 drops of honeycomb flavour (optional).

    Treats toffee sauce.


    Preheat oven to 170C (fan)

    Top tip: weigh your mixing bowl before you begin to make it easy to weigh equal amounts into each pan. 

    1. First mix 1/2 tsp instant coffee with a small amount of water and add a teabag. Top up to 1 cup with cool water and leave to cool. 

    2. Sieve the flour, baking powder and bicarb together and mix with the other dry ingredients except the sugar. Whisk together well. 

    3. Mix the sugar and all the wet ingredients except the tea/coffee and toffee sauce whisk together will with a fork until smooth. 

    4. Pour small amounts in and mix gradually to avoid lumps. Mix in the tea and toffee sauce at the end.

    5. Line the bottom of each tin with parchment circles and grease well with margarine or butter. 

    6. Weigh the bowl and minus off the weight of the empty bowl. Divide the amount by 4. Weigh this much into each tin. 

    7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The cake is ready when the top springs back wheb touched and a knife comes out clean.

    8. Leave in the pan for 5 minutes before running a knife around and turning out.

    Toffee Buttercream:

    600g icing sugar

    165g butter

    1can carnation caramel

    1 tsp vanilla

    Treats toffee sauce


    1. Beat the butter til smooth 2-3 mins on high).

    2. Add sieved icing sugar and beat on low until ut starts to clog together.

    3. Add 4 tbsps caramel and mix on low. Keep adding tablespoons of caramel until almost at the desired consistency then add 2 tbsp treats toffee sauce. 

    4. Beat on high for 5 minutes.

    5. Spread between layers of cool cake.

    Toffee Topping:

    200ml double cream

    150g light brown sugar

    50g butter

    2tbsp golden syrup


    1. Melt together over a low heat until smooth. 

    2. Simmer for 7 minutes.

    3. Cool in a bowl placing a circle of parchment or cling film to avoid a skin forming.

    4. Mix briskly together with a spoon before spreading. I pushed some bits over the edges to get a drip effect and decorated with chopped up fudge.

    Other tips:

    The topping works well spread onto a cool cake but I found the fridge dried out the edges of the cake whilst I waited for it to cool. To solve this I mixed a couple of teaspoons of brown sugar with water abd micriwaved for 30 seconds to dissolve and create a syrup. I brushed thus on the edges and top and the returned to being lovely and moist. 


    Check patterned sponge cake

    This cake was fairly simple to make and you could use any flavour. I used sponge and chocolate sponge. You need two layers of each. It works best if they are contrasting colours.

    I used a simple sponge recipe by weighing 3 eggs and then using the same amount of flour, butter and sugar. I used half ehite and half light brown sugar in my white sponge. In the chocolate one I used half dark brown sugar and half white. I also used 1/8 cup strong coffee made up and subbed 1/3 of the flour for cocia powder. In both cakes I added 3 tablespoons of 0% greek yogurt for extra moistness (I prefer buttermilk but I didn’t have any and I don’t find the homemade version works as well). 

    Cut any domes off the top of each cake.

    Then all you have to do is use a large circle cookie cutter (or a paper guide and a knife) and a small cookie cutter and layer them together, alternating each colour. Spread buttercream between each layer. 

    I covered mine with buttercream and used it as an excuse to try out some icing effects with limited success! The check pattern turned out well though. 

    The only thing I would do differently is place a little thinned buttercream between each circle of cake as it didn’t hold together particularly well when cut.