Apple, raisin and cinnamon pancakes

apple cinnamon and raisin pancakes3

The world and his wife are going crazy for crepes at the moment, and we’re no exception here at Chez Bangers where pancakes are always a regular feature on our menus.

Just in time for tomorrow’s Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day, I thought I’d share with you my apple, cinnamon and raisin pancake recipe, which is one of our favourite weekend breakfasts and very quick and easy to rustle up. Continue reading “Apple, raisin and cinnamon pancakes”

Spiced plum and apple compote

plums and apples

It’s that time of year when fresh fruit and vegetables are in glorious abundance. I really should be pickling and preserving, and I fully intend to soon, but for the moment most of our fruit seems to be making its way into compotes of one kind or another.

spiced plum and apple compote

Fruit compotes are such an easy way to transform a huge pile of fresh fruit into a luscious bowlful of sweet, saucy pleasure. Make lots, as it keeps in the fridge for a few days. Simply tuck into your compote just as it comes or serve with creme fraiche or yoghurt for a delicious and healthy desert. My family’s favourite way to eat it is layered with thick, creamy Greek yoghurt and homemade granola for a light yet satisfying breakfast.

We’re enjoying vast volumes of plum and apple compote, making the most of fruit from our own and friends’ trees. Plums and apples both work terribly well combined with strong spice flavours; in this recipe, I’ve used star anise, cinnamon and vanilla. It really is heavenly. You’ll frequently find me surreptitiously tucking into it straight from the bowl in the fridge when no-one else is looking.

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Spiced plum and apple compote

400g plums, stoned and roughly chopped
2 or 3 eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped
juice of 1 orange
½ tsp cinnamon
1 star anise
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
4 tbsp demerara sugar

Place the ingredients in a medium saucepan, give it all a good stir and bring to a gentle simmer over a medium heat. Cook for around 10 to 15 minutes until the fruit is soft and just beginning to break up. Leave to cool and remove the star anise before serving.

spiced plum and apple compote3

This compote is my entry into the #AgaInspiredRecipes challenge hosted by Rix Petroleum. The theme this month is cooking with plums.

The Spice Trail: your favourite cinnamon recipes

Cinnamon Collage

Used by the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians and mentioned several times in the Bible, our love of cinnamon dates back many centuries. And judging by the dishes entered into December’s celebration of cinnamon in The Spice Trail, it is clear this spice is as popular as ever.

So let’s see what culinary delights we have waiting for us on The Spice Trail this month, starting with some very tempting savoury dishes…

lamb meatballs

Spicy(ish) Lamb Meatballs from Mamacook

These warming meatballs from Heidi at Mamacook feature cinnamon, coriander and paprika and get an extra spicy kick from a touch of harissa and are sure to be a big hit with all the family. Although Heidi does suggest you might want to up the harissa if there won’t be any little ones joining you for dinner.

cinnamon butternut squash and chicken stew

Cinnamon Butternut Squash and Chicken Stew from Recipes From a Pantry

When this stew is cooking, Bintu from Recipe from a Pantry says it inspires a follow-your-nose-to-the-smell-and-bury-your-face-in-it moment and I totally believe her. This looks like my kind of temple food; a dish that tastes good and does you good. And you just know, one bowlful won’t be enough.

leftover turkey chilli

Leftover Turkey Chilli from Recipes From a Pantry

Perfect for these post-Christmas days, this turkey chilli (a second entry from Bintu at Recipes From a Pantry) is low on calories, tasty, easy and cheap as chips, using leftovers and store cupboard staples like chickpeas and beans. A wonderfully healthy winter warmer as an antidote to all that festive gluttony.


Low Calorie Rogan Josh from London Unattached

This tempting Rogan Josh from Fiona at London Unattached is another timely recipe for those looking to cut down on a few calories in the New Year. Coming in at only 350 calories a portion, this curry would be perfect for a 5:2 diet fast day. Low on calories it might be, but it’s definitely big on flavour.


Jacki’s Moroccan Lamb Tagine from Jacki

Next up is this beautiful lamb tagine from Jacki, with whom you’ll often find me chatting on Twitter about food and Aga cookery. Jacki doesn’t blog herself but I was more than happy to feature her one-pot-wonder of a recipe here on Bangers & Mash.

slow roast lamb

Slow Roast Lamb with Chicory & Winter Vegetables from Bangers & Mash

We have another dish bringing together that perfect partnership of lamb and cinnamon, this time in the form of an Ottolenghi-inspired warm salad with slow roast shoulder of lamb accompanied by roast chicory, swede, carrot and parsnip. The deliciously sweet and sour dressing is created from honey, lemon, cinnamon and pomegranate molasses for a surprisingly sunny winter salad.

And now let us turn our attention to your sweet cinnamon creations…

Parsnip Cake

Low Sugar Parsnip Cake from Mamacook

I adore parsnip cake and it’s a great way to use up the surplus I often find results from veg boxes at this time of year. This recipe from Heidi at Mamacook looks like the perfect one to try out on my children, particularly as it’s fairly low in the sugar stakes and an excellent source of fibre too. Not quite one of your five-a-day perhaps, but not far off…

apple pancakes

Wholemeal Apple Pancakes from Mamacook

We often make drop scones on the Aga for breakfast but I think next time we might be giving these apple pancakes from Mamacook a whirl instead. Apple and cinnamon is of course a match made in heaven, and drizzled with a little honey I reckon these pancakes would be just perfect for a lazy Sunday brunch.

speculoos shortbread

Speculoos Shortbread from Blue Kitchen Bakes

I was thrilled when Jen from Blue Kitchen Bakes’ email dropped into my inbox with her recipe for Speculoos Shortbread, including how to make your own Speculoos spice mix from scratch. I have been addicted to Speculoos since picking up a jar of confiture de speculoos in France last summer, and I’m very pleased to now be able to make my own spice mix. And I think the first thing I’ll be baking with it is a big batch of this scrummy shortbread.


Christmas Trifle from How to Cook Good Food

Christmas just isn’t Christmas for me without a good trifle. And this trifle from Laura at How to Cook Good Food looks like a very good trifle indeed, packed full of gorgeous fruits and spices in the form of dates, apricots, caramel clementines, vanilla and cinnamon. It is also an excellent way to use up leftover Christmas cake.

butternut squash muffins

Butternut Squash Muffins from Recipes From a Pantry

These pretty muffins from Bintu at Recipes From a Pantry are an absolute breeze to bake, and made even easier because you don’t have to peel the squash. Result! A lovely baked treat for breakfast or at teatime and an ideal way to sneak a little vegetable matter into little people.


Mince Pies with Spinach Pastry from Veggie Desserts

I have only recently discovered Kate’s blog, Veggie Desserts, and I absolutely love it. Kate freely admits she is obsessed with using vegetables in her desserts, and the veggies aren’t hidden either but instead stand out, loud and proud. As in this sweet little mince pies with their pastry cases in an intriguing shade of green. Yes, the pastry features spinach. Not something that would ever have occurred to me, but certainly something I will be trying very soon.

choc orange brownie

Chocolate Brownies with a Hint of Orange & Cinnamon from Cook Eat Write

Just how temptingly moist and delicious do these brownies from Stacey at Cook Eat Write look? I just want to reach into the screen and grab one. Or two. Oh, go on then, I’ll take the lot…


Cinnamon Raisin Focaccia from The Lass in the Apron

Focaccia is one of my favourite breads but I’ve never made a sweet version before, and this recipe from Alexandra aka The Lass in the Apron makes me want to bake some. Right now. Sugar and spice and all things nice – in a bread. Just heavenly, I say.

festive fruit pies

Festive Fruit Pies from Utterly Scrummy

If you’re not keen on traditional mince pies, these dainty fruit pies from Michelle at Utterly Scrummy are the pies for you. Filled with apples, pears, plums and cranberries and spiced with cinnamon and vanilla, these are a much lighter take on the traditional mince pie but look just as delicious.


Chocolate Gingerbread Christmas Decorations from Eat Your Veg

These edible decorations from Louisa at Eat Your Veg are incredibly cute and would be such a fun activity to do with the kids in the run up to Christmas. And I know just how much my little ones would appreciate the addition of chocolate to the gingerbread too. Sounds scrummy!

cranberry cinnamon swiss roll

Cranberry & Cinnamon Swiss Roll from Blue Kitchen Bakes

Surely nothing sings out Christmas more than cranberries, and this Swiss roll from Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes provides a lovely lighter alternative to all the chocolate and richness at this time of year. And the sponge also features more of Jen’s Speculoos spice mix – wonderful!

snowflake tear and share iced buns

Snowflake Tear and Share Iced Buns from Bangers & Mash

Another festive bake up next, this time from me. Here’s my very easy to make tear and share iced buns, flavoured with a touch of cinnamon and lemon, shaped into a simple snowflake design, and sprinkled lovingly with a little confectioner’s glitter. A big hit this Christmas with my two daughters.

gingerbread cupcakes

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting from The More Than Occasional Baker

Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker brings us these cute gingerbread cupcakes next. Decorated with pretty little Christmas decorations and topped with a yummy cream cheese frosting flavoured with golden syrup and cinnamon, these cakes are guaranteed to be a big hit with little people.

christmas cupcakes

Christmas Cupcakes from Caroline Makes

Next up we have some more lovely Christmas cupcakes, this time from Caroline at Caroline Makes, which she baked for her company’s annual employees’ children party. The cakes are beautifully simple, flavoured with brown sugar and cinnamon and topped with a simple buttercream.

spiced plum and apple eton mess

Spiced Plum & Apple Eton Mess from Bangers & Mash

I made this festive version of an Eton Mess for our family gathering on Boxing Day and it got an all round thumbs up as an alternative to the traditional trifle I’d usually make. The stewed plum and apple is gently flavoured with cinnamon and star anise, and swirled into whipped cream along with crunchy-but-slightly-chewy chunks of meringue.

cinnamon and date cake

Cinnamon and Date Cake from The More Than Occasional Baker

Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker is back with more festive baking – this time a tasty cinnamon and date cake which is extremely simple to make but is guaranteed to impress your guests. The dates give the cake a scrumptious sweet stickiness which, according to Ros, most importantly “does not taste like dates”!

christmas cinnamon shortbread2

Christmas Cinnamon Shortbread from Caroline Makes

Another entry from Caroline at Caroline Makes who brings us a batch of her Christmas cinnamon shortbread. These would make a perfect edible Christmas gift, and are particularly suitable for diabetics as they are very low in sugar.

chocolate cinnamon rolls

Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls from Caroline Makes

Yet more sweet treats from Caroline at Caroline Makes as she shares her third entry – chocolate cinnamon rolls. These lovely sticky, chocolately rolls would make a wonderfully luxurious breakfast or why not try them for a delicious dessert?

chewy oatmeal cran raisin pecan cookies

Chewy Oatmeal Cran-Raisin Pecan Cookies from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary

Next we have some irresistible gluten-free cookies from Elizabeth over at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. She baked these beauties for her dance teacher who happens to be gluten intolerant and can never usually eat the cakes brought in to share at her weekly ballroom dance class. They also proved very popular with Elizabeth’s youngest who kept stealing them off the rack while they were cooling. I can see why!


Spiced Stollen Tray Bake from How to Cook Good Food

I’ve wanted to make stollen for ages now, and with this next entry I think I might have discovered the perfect recipe to try. This spiced stollen tray bake comes from Laura at How to Cook Good Food. It’s a fantastic last-minute festive bake, much lighter than the traditional Christmas cake, and filled with marzipan and spices it just has Christmas written all over it.

Orange Shortbread

Orange and Cinnamon White Chocolate Shortbread from Chocolate Log Blog

Next we have another festive shortbread recipe, this time from the very creative Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog. She flavours her shortbread with orange, cinnamon and white chocolate for a fabulously zingy, spicy Christmassy treat, although I don’t think I’ll be waiting until next Christmas to give this recipe a whirl.


Poached Pears with White Chocolate Cream from My Golden Pear

Doesn’t this dessert look just divine? I always think poached pears are a very sophisticated sort of pudding, and this entry from Angela at My Golden Pear certainly looks the height of sophistication in my eyes. The pears are poached in red wine, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and served with a brandy snap tuile filled with white chocolate cream. Dreamy.


Gingerbread, Bramble & Lemon Trifle from Vohn’s Vittles

I really can’t wait to try this trifle recipe from Vohn at Vohn’s Vittles which has homemade gingerbread soaked in brandy at the base – what a marvellous idea. It also features layers of bramble jelly, lemon curd and lashings of whipped cream. This definitely sounds like my kind of trifle.

mulled cider

Mulled Cider from Bangers & Mash

Last up is my recipe for mulled cider, which includes chilli and black peppercorns for a spicy kick. I’m not all that keen on mulled wine but in recent years have developed a real fondness for mulled cider – must be due to having lived in the West Country so long!

And the winner is…

So there you have it – a brilliant collection of sensational cinnamon recipes – sweet, savoury and festive. Thank you all so much for sharing in this month’s Spice Trail. But as ever there can only be one winner. With such a high standard of entries this month it was a tough call, but December’s winner is…


Kate from Veggie Desserts for her amazing Mince Pies with Spinach Pastry, which I’m sure you’ll agree were such an imaginative and original entry.

Kate wins an amazing Tasting for Two voucher from the good people at Buyagift.


With this tasting experience, Kate and her chosen companion will get to discover a whole world of new tastes, textures and exciting flavour combinations. From sweet or savoury, great British grub or international cuisine, there’s a great selection for her to choose from – including refined afternoon teas, olive oil tasting, sushi making, cookery classes, brewery tours and wine tasting experiences. I can’t wait to hear what you go for, Kate!

So congratulations once again to Kate, and thank you to everyone who took part in The Spice Trail this month. Watch this space for news of January’s challenge.

Happy new year everyone and here’s to a super tasty 2014!

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Slow roast shoulder of lamb with chicory and winter vegetables

slow roast lamb

I am very partial to slow roasting large joints of meat. I cook with an Aga and so, of course, slow cooking goes with the territory. Lamb, in particular, lends itself to slow cooking; the fat melts down deliciously, flavouring the tender, juicy meat so wonderfully.

slow roast lamb

This warm salad was inspired by a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi, which brings together shredded shoulder of lamb with roast chicory, raddiccio and figs. I have played with the ingredients a little to adapt the recipe to the contents of a winter vegetable box – sadly no fresh figs in there at this time of year. So instead, my version features roast parsnip, carrot and swede along with the chicory; all perfect partners for roast lamb with their caramelised sweetness.

slow roast lamb

With plenty of fresh herbs in there and an incredible, slightly sweet and sour dressing with lemon, honey, cinnamon and pomegranate molasses, I think this warm lamb salad would be a wonderful dish to serve your family and friends this New Year.

Slow roast shoulder of lamb with chicory and winter vegetables

Serves 4-5 (including plenty of leftover lamb for naughty late night sandwiches!)

1.5kg shoulder of lamb, on the bone
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp dried mint
1½ tbsp fresh thyme, picked
1 head of garlic, cut in half widthways
2 parsnips, peeled, halved and quartered lengthways
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
half a swede, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 chicories, halved lengthways
2 tbsp honey
4 large sprigs of rosemary
4 stems of sage
20g rocket
salt and pepper

For the dressing:

70ml olive oil
90ml lemon juice
1½ tbsp honey
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

If you are using a conventional oven, preheat to 150ºC / gas mark 2.

Place the lamb in a roasting tray and rub all over with a tablespoonful of the olive oil, lemon juice, mint, thyme, and a generous grind of salt and pepper.

Pop the garlic halves next to the lamb, cut side down, and cover the tray with foil.

If you’re cooking in an Aga, roast in the middle of the top oven for 20 minutes, before transferring to the simmering oven for 5 hours, regularly basting the meat with the cooking juices.

Otherwise, roast in a conventional oven at 150ºC for 5 hours, again regularly basting the meat.

When it is completely tender and the meat falls away from the bone easily, remove the lamb from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Shred into bite size pieces, discarding any fatty bits. Cover and keep warm.

While the lamb is resting, prepare the vegetables. If necessary, increase your oven to 220ºC / gas mark 7.

Place the parsnips, carrots and swede in a large bowl with 2 tablespoonfuls of olive oil, honey and a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Toss into a roasting tray together with the fresh rosemary and sage, and cook in the oven (top of the roasting oven in the Aga) for 20 minutes.

Place the chicory halves in the bowl and add another spoonful of olive oil, a little more honey and a touch more salt, and mix together. When the root vegetables have had 20 minutes, add the chicory to the roasting tray and cook for another 10 minutes, until the root veg is caramelised and the chicory is tender.

To make the dressing, simply whisk all the ingredients together and set aside.

To serve, place the rocket in a large, warmed serving dish. Scatter the roast vegetables over the top and finally cover with shredded lamb – you’ll only need about half of it. Save the rest for tomorrow.

Drizzle the dressing over the top and serve immediately.

slow roast lamb

As the dressing for this warm winter salad features a strong hint of cinnamon, I will enter it into this month’s Spice Trail challenge, which I just happen to host.

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Mulled cider with a spicy chilli kick

mulled cider

This post first appeared in the Wells Journal on Thursday 19 December 2013.

Perhaps it’s a sign my roots are now well and truly planted in the West Country but I much prefer mulled cider these days to mulled wine. Red wine, in my opinion, is best drunk as it is. Cider though is just lovely served warm with festive spices. In my version, I add chilli, peppercorns and star anise for an extra spicy kick.

I encourage you to use a traditional farmhouse cider and not some of that cheap, fizzy stuff, which Julian Temperley of the Somerset Cider Brandy Company recently described to me as “industrial cider”.

According to Temperley, the cider world has become divided between the craft ciders, where up to 20 varieties of local grown apples are pressed and blended, and these ‘industrial’ newcomers, essentially apple-flavoured alcohol, rapidly replacing the gap left by alcopops on the drinks market.

Cider has been pressed on Temperley’s farm at Burrow Hill for the past 150 years, amidst 160 acres of cider apple orchards.

More discerning cider drinkers do care about the provenance and integrity of the product. Andrew Quinlan of Orchard Pig reports a growing demand for cider “that not only tastes good but also tells a story, with strong heritage and character.” Nearly all Orchard Pig’s apples are grown locally, although Quinlan says they do “allow a few foreign ones from Dorset and Devon that make the grade.”

It’s not just us Brits who appreciate a glass of farmhouse cider. “We are truffling out new fans in far off corners of the world,” says Quinlan, “as Orchard Pig plants its trotters in places such as Finland, Australia, Holland and Singapore. All this from making my first barrel in my garden shed as a hobby in 2004!”

The Hecks family have been making farmhouse cider in Street since 1840 and they continue to use the old traditional methods of cider making to this day. This is the local cider sold in our village shop and it was one of their vintage ciders I used for this recipe.

Last week saw the funeral at Pilton Church of Frank Naish, who at 89 was Britain’s oldest cider maker, using what is thought to be the oldest cider press in the country. Temperley describes him as a fine example of a true cider maker and a wonderful ambassador for Somerset cider. Please raise a toast to Naish as you drink a cup of warming mulled cider this Christmas.

mulled cider

Mulled cider

Makes 6 to 8 cups

1 litre Somerset cider
500ml apple juice
2 tbsp honey
3 star anise
4 cloves
A few peppercorns (I used Indonesian long pepper)
1 tsp dried Ancho chilli (or any dried chilli you prefer – I like the smoky flavour of Ancho)
2 cinnamon sticks (I used cinnamon and cassia bark)

Simply place all the ingredients in a large pan and heat gently for about quarter of an hour. Do not let it come to the boil. You may need to strain it through a small sieve as you serve.

Cheers and merry Christmas!

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Cinnamon is one of the spices used in this mulled cider, and so I’m entering it into December’s Spice Trail challenge.

Spiced plum and apple Eton mess

spiced plum and apple eton mess

I enjoy a little serendipity in the kitchen. Those occasions when an accident turns into a wonderful new creation for example.

This pudding came about by accident a few weeks ago when friends came over for Sunday lunch. I intended to make an impressive pavlova but managed to crack the meringue and I was forced to improvise. The broken pieces of meringue, along with the spiced, stewed fruits, were gently folded into whipped cream for a winter version of an Eton mess.

I’ve made it again since – the second time I took photographs for the blog. Instead of folding the ingredients together, I layered them in cocktail glasses for a slightly prettier and more refined dessert.

spiced plums and apples

I like bold flavours and so the plums and apples are quite heavily spiced with star anise, cinnamon and ginger. If you’re not so fond of strong spices, you may wish to hold back a little.

This mess would provide a fantastic finale to a festive meal, perhaps as an alternative to the traditional trifle.

spiced plum and apple eton mess

Spiced plum and apple Eton mess

Serves 6

For the meringue:

3 egg whites
pinch of salt
175g caster sugar
1tsp corn flour
½tsp vanilla extract

For the spiced, stewed fruit

6 red plums, stoned and quartered
4 cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
100ml water
200g caster sugar
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger

500ml double cream
80g icing sugar

Start by making the meringue.

If you don’t have an Aga, preheat the oven to 150ºC / gas mark 2.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until stiff. Gradually whisk in the caster sugar a teaspoonful at a time, and finally whisk in the corn flour and vanilla. Lay a sheet of silicone paper on a baking tray and onto dollop small evenly-sized rounds of the mixture.

If you have an Aga, put the baking tray on the floor of the roasting oven for three to four minutes, until the meringues are slightly coloured. Then move down to the floor of the simmering oven for about an hour until the meringues are firm on the outside but still a little gooey in the middle.

If you’re using a conventional oven, bake for an hour and then turn the oven off. Open the door halfway and allow the meringues to cool to remove to room temperature before removing.

For the stewed fruits, simply place all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir well and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for around 20 minutes, stirring now and again, and skimming off any froth that forms on the surface.

When the fruit is tender and the syrup has thickened, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Pour the double cream into a large bowl and sift into the icing sugar. Whip until the cream forms soft peaks.

When the fruit and meringue are completely cool, you can assemble your desserts. Break the meringues into bite-size pieces. Spoon some stewed fruit into the bottom of your bowls or glasses. Place some meringue on top and them some whipped cream. Continue until you have filled each bowl/glass. Serve chilled.

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This dish is spiced with cinnamon sticks and so I am entering it into this month’s Spice Trail challenge, which I just happen to be  hosting.


Party Food is the theme this month at Four Seasons Food, hosted by Delicieux and Eat Your Veg, and so I thought these puds would be good for a festive party.


And lastly as a very British dessert meets a very Oriental spice, I thought I’d also enter this Eton mess into December’s Fabulous Fusion Food challenge hosted by Deena Kakaya.

Snowflake tear and share iced buns

snowflake Collage

These snowflake iced buns would make a fun teatime centre piece when friends and family are gathered together over Christmas, particularly if there are children in the equation. They are very easy to make as well, and the children will love to get involved in the baking as much as the eating.

Flavoured with cinnamon and lemon and sprinkled with a tiny touch of confectioner’s glitter, the buns are sticky, sweet and wonderfully festive but without the rich heaviness of many of the cakes and puddings around at this time of year. Perfect with a cup of afternoon tea.

snowflake iced buns

This recipe is based on one I found on the Delicious website.

Snowflake tear and share iced buns

250g strong white bread flour
250g plain flour
1 sachet (7g) dried yeast
2 tsp salt
50g soft butter
2 tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
100ml semi-skimmed milk, warmed
1 egg
200ml tepid water
400g icing sugar
3-4 tbsp lemon juice
confectioner’s glitter

Sift the flours into a mixing bowl along with the yeast and salt. Make a well in the middle, and add the soft butter, sugar, cinnamon milk and egg. Bring all the ingredients together using a wooden spoon, adding the tepid water just a little at a time until you have a wet dough.

Dust your work surface with flour, and then knead your dough for a good 10 minutes until smooth and stretchy. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave in a warm place for an hour or so, until the dough has roughly doubled in size.

Knock back the dough by giving it a decent punch. Pull off small pieces of dough, approximately palm-sized and roll into the various components of your snowflake shape. You’ll need eight longish buns for the main ‘spokes’ of the snowflake and eight slightly shorter ones for the V-shapes at the end of each spoke. Don’t make them too fat; remember they will rise again. Arrange the buns, almost touching on a lined baking tray. I had extra dough left over, so I made a further six traditional shaped buns and placed these on a separate tray.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / gas mark 6.

Cover the buns with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for another hour to double in size.

Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes until risen and a beautiful golden colour. Carefully lift the snowflake onto a wire rack to cool. Don’t worry though if it does break apart. It’s easy to put it all back together on a plate before icing.

To make the lemon icing, simply sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl and mix in enough lemon juice until you get a thick but slightly runny icing. Using a tablespoon, drizzle a generous amount of icing over each bun and sprinkle over a little confectioner’s glitter for some festive sparkle. Leave for a minute or so to set, then place on a serving plate. And off you go – tear and share!

snowflake iced buns

My Spice Trail challenge for December has cinnamon as its theme, so of course I have to enter these sticky iced buns.

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The buns are great to bake with and for kids, making them ideal candidates for December’s Family Foodies hosted by Eat Your Veg, where the theme is Kids Christmas.

family-foodiesAnd as the chosen letter is X over at the Alpha Bakes challenge, hosted by The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, I think these buns would be a good entry as they are perfect for your Xmas parties.

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The Spice Trail: cooking with cinnamon

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Share your cinnamon recipes and win a Tasting Experience for two

Our next stop on The Spice Trail takes us to the world of cinnamon, one of the most evocative spices I know.

When I smell cinnamon, I immediately think of sweet, sugary things like apple pies and Danish pastries, or rich fruit cakes and mulled wine at Christmas time. But of course, cinnamon (and its close relative cassia) are also a glorious ingredient in many savoury dishes and you’ll find it widely used in Mexican, Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine.

cooking with cinnamon

So this month I’d love to hear how you like to cook with cinnamon. Share your recipe posts by 30 December and at the end of the month I’ll bring you a round-up of sensational dishes celebrating cinnamon.

Win a Tasting for Two Voucher from Buyagift

And at the end of the cinnamon challenge, one lucky winner selected by our guest judge will receive an amazing Tasting for Two voucher from the good people at Buyagift.


With this tasting experience, our lucky winner and their chosen companion will get to discover a whole world of new tastes, textures and exciting flavour combinations. Whether you love sweet or savoury, great British grub or international cuisine, there’s a great selection to choose from – including refined afternoon teas, olive oil tasting, sushi making, cookery classes, brewery tours and wine tasting experiences. What’s more they are available at a wide range of venues right across the UK.

How to enter The Spice Trail

spice trail badge squareDisplay the The Spice Trail badge (on the left and also available here) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.

You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they feature this month’s key ingredient, cinnamon – be it stick or ground, and feel free to use cassia bark as well.

Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Monday 30 December 2013.

If you tweet your post, please mention #TheSpiceTrail and me @BangerMashChat in your tweet and I’ll retweet each one I see.

Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and The Spice Trail badge. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page.

At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe and the winner this month will receive a brilliant Tasting for Two choice voucher from Buyagift. The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries.

All entries will be added to The Spice Trail Pinterest Board.

I can’t wait to see what dishes you come up with for The Spice Trail. Any questions, please tweet or email me.

December’s entries

  1. Low Sugar Parsnip Cake from Mamacook
  2. Wholemeal Apple Pancakes from Mamacook
  3. Spicy(ish) Lamb Meatballs from Mamacook
  4. Speculoos Shortbread from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  5. Christmas Trifle from How to Cook Good Food
  6. Cinnamon Butternut Squash and Chicken Stew from Recipes From a Pantry
  7. Leftover Turkey Chilli from Recipes From a Pantry
  8. Butternut Squash Muffins from Recipes From a Pantry
  9. Mince Pies with Spinach Pastry from Veggie Desserts
  10. Cinnamon Raisin Focaccia from The Lass in the Apron
  11. Festive Fruit Pies from Utterly Scrummy
  12. Chocolate Gingerbread Christmas Decorations from Eat Your Veg
  13. Cranberry & Cinnamon Swiss Roll from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  14. Jacki’s Moroccan Lamb Tagine from Jacki
  15. Snowflake Tear and Share Iced Buns from Bangers & Mash
  16. Gingerbread Cupcakes with Golden Syrup Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting from The More Than Occasional Baker
  17. Cinnamon and Date Cake from The More Than Occasional Baker
  18. Spiced Plum & Apple Eton Mess from Bangers & Mash
  19. Chocolate Brownies with a Hint of Orange & Cinnamon from Cook Eat Write
  20. Christmas Cupcakes from Caroline Makes
  21. Christmas Cinnamon Shortbread from Caroline Makes
  22. Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls from Caroline Makes
  23. Chewy Oatmeal Cran-Raisin Pecan Cookies from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary
  24. Spiced Stollen Tray Bake from How to Cook Good Food
  25. Low Calorie Rogan Josh from London Unattached
  26. Orange and Cinnamon White Chocolate Shortbread from Chocolate Log Blog
  27. Poached Pears with White Chocolate Cream from My Golden Pear
  28. Slow Roast Lamb with Chicory & Winter Vegetables from Bangers & Mash
  29. Gingerbread, Bramble & Lemon Trifle from Vohn’s Vittles
  30. Mulled Cider from Bangers & Mash

Rhubarb cinnamon cake

rhubarb cinnamon cake

We had people over lunch on Sunday, including one friend who has diabetes. Apparently she loves puddings and is always naughty and ends up eating sugary things she shouldn’t. So I resolved to come up with a pudding suitable for diabetics. The other criteria was that it required lots of rhubarb. Ever since I mentioned at work that I’m featuring rhubarb recipes on the blog, everyone is bringing in their homegrown rhubarb for me, which is wonderful but the freezer is beginning to feel the strain.

There are lots of ideas for diabetic-friendly desserts on the Diabetes UK website. I came across an apple cinnamon cake, that I liked the sound of. It uses a sugar alternative called Splenda and wondered if it might work with rhubarb instead. My husband was not enthusiastic when I told him about the fake sugar cake, and so I decided to make two versions, one with Splenda and one with normal sugar to test whether there was any perceivable difference.

When it came to serving the cakes after our Sunday lunch (roast pork accompanied by, yes of course, a rhubarb compote), I started to wonder why I hadn’t opted for an easy, tried-and-tested pudding. But thankfully the cakes turned out well, although for some reason despite cooking them at the same time and rotating them in the oven, the two cakes were completely different colours. The Splenda cake was a lovely golden colour, while the normal sugar version was a deep brown.

And both cakes got the thumbs up. No-one could taste any significant difference between the two, including Marge, our diabetic friend, who ironically decided to have a big slice of both! It’s a very moist, squishy cake, and served warm it’s really much more of a pudding than a cake, especially when you have it with creme fraiche or ice cream as we did.

Have you baked with Splenda or some other sugar alternative? How have you found it?

rhubarb cinnamon cake with Splenda

Rhubarb Cinnamon Cake

a little oil for greasing the tin
100g plain flour
8 heaped tbsp Splenda granulated sweetener or ordinary caster sugar
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
6g baking powder
3 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp skimmed milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
75g low fat spread, melted
250g rhubarb, chopped into 3cm chunks

Preheat the oven to 200°C / Gas Mark 6. Grease a cake tin (around 23cm) with a little oil

Sift the flour into a large bowl and mix in Splenda or caster sugar, baking powder and cinnamon.

Make a well in the middle and whisk in the eggs and milk, followed by the melted low fat spread.

Gently fold in the rhubarb.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes until golden or brown (depending on what sugar you use it seems) and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Turn out onto to cooling rack and leave to cool just a touch before serving.

recipes for life

As these cakes feature rhubarb, lemon and spice I’m entering them into this month’s Recipes for Life challenge for the charity SWALLOW, which you may recall is hosted by me!


And as rhubarb is such the seasonal fruit of the moment, I’m also entering it into Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season blog event, where you are guaranteed to find a whole host of delicious seasonal delights.