Posts Tagged ‘Primrose Bakery’

One of the highlights of having Mum & Dad stay with us over the Christmas period was just doing the normal things together, like having a meal together. It’s the small things I miss about not living closer. The ability to go to your parent’s for Sunday dinner or have them over for a Saturday night takeaway is something that would be easy to take for granted but as we live many miles (and many $$$) apart it is something I will never take for granted.

I really enjoyed cooking for Mum & Dad while they were with us and as they were both laid up with injuries that was lucky!!

One chilly day Justine, Jon & Easton came to join us for lunch and so I needed to make something warming, meat free and enjoyable for adults and children alike. Macaroni Cheese seemed to tick all those boxes and so I turned to trusty reliable Jamie for a tasty recipe. I say this entry is ‘One for Dad’ as he seemed to particularly enjoy it and as he is at home now recuperating from knee surgery maybe Mum can make it for him…from me of course! Although I wish I could – another bummer about living so far away!

Another bonus of this dish is that it was a great way to get tomatoes into Izzy – no matter how we try she will not eat them in their natural form. Takes after her Uncle Dougie!!!

Tomato Macaroni Cheese (courtesy of Jamie Oliver – Jamie’s Dinners)


340g macaroni

200g bread, preferably stale, for making breadcrumbs

800g super ripe tomatoes

1 clove of garlic, peeled

2 large handfuls of fresh basil

55g sun dried tomatoes, chopped

2 anchovies

3 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

565ml single cream

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 a nutmeg, grated

400g cows milk mozzarella, broken up

a handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 200C. Get a pan of salted boiling water going and cook your macaroni according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, break your bread up, place it in the food processor and whizz up to form breadcrumbs. Set aside. Wash your tomatoes and place them in the food processor with the garlic, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies and a good pinch of salt & pepper. Whizz up for 30 seconds. Then add 2 handfuls of the Parmesan, the cream, vinegar and grated nutmeg. Whizz until smooth and season carefully to taste so it’s really yummy!

By this time your macaroni will probably be cooked, so drain it in a colander, saving some of the cooking water. Place the pasta back into the pan and pour over every last bit of the cheesy sauce. You want it to be quite loose because you’ll be surprised how quickly the sauce will disappear inside the macaroni and will look dry. So add a few spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water. Now you need to get yourself a baking dish about 8-10 cm / 3 or 4 inches deep – this could be an earthenware dish or even a shallow ovenproof pan. Pour the pasta straight into your baking dish and break the mozzarella into little pieces over the top. Mix the last handful of Parmesan with the thyme leaves and breadcrumbs and sprinkle evenly over the top of the dish. Drizzle generously with good extra virgin olive oil – this will give you a lovely crunchy topping.

Place in the preheated oven for around 15 minutes until bubbly and crispy and golden on top. Serve straight away, sprinkled with a little extra Parmesan. Best eaten with a nice salad – and you’ll love it.

Now I didn’t take any pics of this meal but I can share a pic of Nana & Poppa’s visit and also one of Easton modelling the apron and chef’s hat Mum made for him – love it!

My future son in law!!

Lastly, we also swung by Primrose Bakery and picked up a selection of cupcakes – they were better second time around. I love the Lime & Coconut and I will definitely be whipping up a batch in the not too distant future. As the Primrose Bakery cookbook now adorns my bookshelf I love tasting how it is supposed to taste – sort of like a try before you buy/ bake!

Primrose Bakery Cupcakes

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So it’s been a while since my last post. We have just had a lovely week with our good friends Jen & Steven and their beautiful girls Keira & Kayla in sunny Abu Dhabi. Just what we needed! Was wonderful to hang out and also for our girls to play together. Maybe one day they will be watching their kids play together just like Jen & I were! Was over too soon and we went from 29 degrees to 6 degrees in just 7 hours – is taking some time to adjust back to the cold! My little bit of colour lasted about 3 days!

The girls at the pool

A day on the Corniche in Abu Dhabi

Daddy & Izzy on the beach at Aquavenutre, Dubai

Once we got back home I had to hit the grocery store as we had run out of just about everything. To be honest I just could not bear the thought this week of making lists and sticking to menus etc so I opted for an ‘off the cuff’ shop selecting a variety of random meat, veg, pasta and soup. It’s all been about quick & easy this week (fish & salad, soup, steak & stuffed mushrooms, stir fry) and so nothing much to share recipe wise.

However, just before we headed off on hols the girls at work took our colleague Carolann out for lunch to celebrate the beginning of her maternity leave. In honour of Carolann’s impending departure I decided to bake some baby themed cupcakes. Carolann knows her bundle of joy is a little boy so that meant I didn’t have to stay neutral.

I decided on lemon cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery cookbook with lemon buttercream icing. There are so many fun and varied cupcake recipes in this book – a must for any cupcake fan!

Lemon Cupcakes (courtesy of Cupcakes from The Primrose Bakery)


110g, unsalted butter, at room temperature

225g caster sugar, preferably golden

2 large eggs

150g self-raising flour, sifted

125g plain flour, sifted

90ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Tbsp sour cream

Grated zest of 1 lemon (you need 1 tsp)

Preheat the oven to 160C (fan) / 10C and line a 12 hole muffin tray with cases.

in a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is smooth, which should take 3-5 minutes using an electric hand mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition.

Combine the 2 flours in a separate bowl and combine the milk, lemon juice and sour cream in a jug. Add one-third of the flours to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in one-third of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added, incorporating the lemon zest with the last third of the flour. Don’t worry if the mixture starts to curdle: simply add another spoonful of plain flour and beat well.

Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two-thirds full. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until slightly raised and golden brown. To check they are cooked, insert a skewer in the centre of one of the cakes – it should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in their tins for about 10 mins before carefully placing on a wire rack to cool. Once they are completely cool, you can ice the cupcakes with lemon buttercream.

Lemon Buttercream Icing (courtesy of Cupcakes from The Primrose Bakery)


110g unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Grated vest of 1-2 unwaxed lemons (you need 2 tsp)

500g icing sugar, sifted

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, lemon juice, lemon zest and half the icing sugar until smooth – this can take several minutes with an electric hand mixer. Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat again until smooth and creamy. At this point I add some food colouring paste and beat again for an even colour. I would have liked a pale blue colour so note to self – next time add just a little bit at a time instead of a big lump!

Everyone seems to have a different way of icing cupcakes but I like to use a piping bag – is quick and easy. I found some cute cases on Cakes, Cookies & Crafts as well as some teeny weeny feet as decorations.

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After a busy couple of days Izzy slept until 8.15 this morning which was pure bliss – I was actually up before her and feeling refreshed. In the weekend I like to make something different from the usual cereal or toast for breakfast and with the weather turning chillier by the day I was thinking porridge. Flicking through a Bill Granger book I came across a recipe for porridge but not of the oats variety rather with rice. Interesting perhaps? Well you never know until you try so thought I would give it a shot.

Vanilla Rice Porridge with Caramelized Bananas (courtesy of Bill Granger – Everyday)


1 litre milk

3 Tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste (I don’t have this and a quick google search told me I can substitute vanilla extract)

180g arborio rice

2 bananas, thickly sliced on the diagonal

1 Tbsp soft brown sugar, plus extra to serve

1 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces

Put the milk, sugar & vanilla bean paste in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the rice and stir occasionally to prevent it sticking to the pan. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Remove from the heat and leve for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the grill to high. Put the bananas in a shallow ovenproof dish, sprinkle with brown sugar and dot with butter. Grill for 2-3 minutes, or until golden and caramelized.

To serve, spoon the rice pudding into bowls, top with banana and sprinkle with a little brown sugar.


Izzy turned her nose up straight away, without even tasting (2 year olds huh?!), in favour of Weetabix – fair play – can’t refuse that request! Even the delicious grilled bananas couldn’t tempt her!

I don’t know if I will be making it again for breakfast – it tastes good but it just feels too pudding like for breakfast. Bill even describes it as rice pudding in the body of the recipe. Saying that it would make a nice dessert so it might make a future appearance in that form!

After thunder and downpours yesterday we woke to a clear sky today and so decided to head out for lunch. Wahaca opened at Canary Wharf this week and I have been desperate to introduce it to James so we headed over for some delicious Mexican street food. Can’t tell you how much I love this place at the moment! There were loads of people with kids in tow and the restaurant itself is very child friendly. Plenty of high chairs and a supply of crayons. The only thing I would like to see that is missing is a few items added to the menu that are child friendly, and I am not talking a token portion of chicken nuggets & chips – just a few modified (keep the garlic and lime but tone down the chilli) items on the current menu. I had ordered the chicken tortilla soup to share with Izzy and I had forgotten that it has quite a bite to it that was too much for her – beware that ‘lightly spiced’ on the menu does not translate to child friendly. I then tried her on the chorizo & potato quesadilla but this also had a little too much heat for 2 year old taste buds.

From Canary Wharf we took a drive to Primrose Hill on a cupcake pilgrimage to the Primrose Bakery – the book is gorgeous so let’s see if the cupcakes themselves live up to it! Izzy chose 2 pretty mini cupcakes, whereas I opted for Vanilla with Lime & Coconut Icing which was sooooo good! I will definitely be trying out this icing at home. The cake itself was a little on the dry side, still nice, but not as light as I expected. James went for the chocolate and his feedback was much the same. Still worth the trip!


From there we took a stroll to visit Aunty Amy at work and bring her a cupcake. On the way back to the car I did some celeb spotting and saw Jools Oliver with her 3 daughters – so I guess that is almost like seeing Jamie himself!

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Lately I have been on a bit of a cupcake hiatus – it was becoming a case of too much of a good thing!! So Halloween seemed as good an excuse as any to break out my box of cupcake goodies!

This may surprise you but I managed to steer myself away from the Hummingbird Bakery and turned to a new addition to my collection ‘Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery‘ – so many cupcakes, so little time….or should I say so many cupcakes, too many calories!!!

The Primrose Bakery book has a different recipe for every occasion and from the outset this book might just surpass HB in the cupcake stakes! Watch this space!

So, it’s Halloween and so obviously I flip to the Halloween section and well it was quite obvious really  – Pumpkin cupcakes!!

James had a few days away this week and so when Izzy & I got home on Thursday I said to Izzy ‘Do you want to have a bath or make cupcakes?’ –  do I even need to tell you what her answer was?!?


Child labour!

Izzy and I managed to make 2 dozen cupcakes, most of which went to her nursery teachers on Friday. Then on Friday I made another 2 dozen to take along to Harry’s Halloween party. As you may know now, I love pumpkin and so these are a winner for me!!

Pumpkin Cupcakes (courtesy of Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery – Martha Swift & Lisa Thomas)


110g unsalted butter, at room temperature

240g soft light brown sugar

2 large eggs, free range or organic

1/2 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract

100g pureed pumpkin (sold in tins)

125g self-raising flour, sifted

120g plain flour, sifted

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

125ml buttermilk (or 120ml milk mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice)

Preheat the oven to 160C and line a 12 hole muffin tray with the appropriate size cupcake cases (this is Izzy’s job).

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, which should take about 3-5 minutes using an electric hand mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin and beat until just combined.

Combine the flours, cinnamon and ginger in a bowl. Add one-third of the flours to the creamed mixture and beat until just combined. Add half of the buttermilk and beat again until just combined. Repeat these steps until all the flour and buttermilk have been added.

Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two-thirds full. Bake in the oven for about 25 mins until slightly raised and golden brown. To check they are cooked, insert a skewer in the centre of one of he cakes – it should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in their tins for about 10 minutes before placing carefully on a wire rack to cool.

Once they are completely cool, ice the cupcakes with spiced cream cheese icing and decorate with a sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg on the top or some Halloween decoration, if that’s the occasion. (I went for orange colouring and a sprinkle of silver dragees).

Spiced Cream Cheese Icing


175g cream cheese

450g icing sugar, sifted

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves

Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat well until thoroughly combined and the icing is smooth and pale.

This icing must be stored in the fridge as it contains cream cheese, but will keep well. Before re-using, let it come to room temperature and then beat again.

I always like to use a piping bag to ice the cupcakes – gives them a nice finish and is super quick too.






Happy Halloween!!



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