Monthly Archives: November 2015

Handmade Gifts and Perfect Pompoms!

Delicious Handmade Gifts Made Easy 

The festive season is almost upon us and soon we will be feverishly shopping, wrapping and delivering gifts.

Whilst we’re visiting friends (and furtively swapping children’s gifts from the car boot) I like to take a little something scrumptious, beautifully wrapped, of course.

This year I have been inspired
by the Dairy Diary to make
these fabulous Napoleons.

Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to make Napoleons

How to make Napoleons




Time 1½ hrs
Makes 8-10 slices
Calories 513 Fat 18.3g of which 7.4g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians


For the pastry
Ready-rolled frozen puff pastry 2 x 375g packets, thawed

For the pastry cream
Egg yolks 3
Caster sugar 200g (7oz)
Plain flour 50g (2oz)
Cornflour 25g (1oz)
Milk 500ml (18fl oz)
Vanilla extract ½ tsp

For the glacé icing
Vanilla extract ¼ tsp
Icing sugar 225g (8oz), sifted

For the chocolate drizzle
Dark chocolate


25g (1oz) Baking sheets and/or trays
Baking paper
Cling film
Icing pen or piping bag



Secrets of pastry cream

Pastry cream or crème pâtissière is a thick custard sauce used in open fruit tarts and in many small pastry delicacies.

The recipe here uses cornflour to thicken the sauce; many recipes use custard powder instead. Both work well, but custard powder will give a yellow finish, whereas cornflour gives a cream-coloured result. Cook the sauce until it is really thick.


Making the pastry layers

1 Preheat oven to 220°C(200°fan)/425°F/Gas 7. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Lay unrolled puff pastry sheets on prepared baking sheets, and prick them all over with a fork. Lay another baking sheet on top of each sheet of pastry. You may need to do this in batches.

2 Bake for 18–23 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Carefully remove pastry onto a rack to cool. Cut each sheet in half and trim edges. You will have one spare piece.


Making the pastry cream

3 Beat egg yolks and sugar until white, add flour and cornflour and mix well. Add ¼ of milk to loosen mixture. Put remaining milk and vanilla extract into a pan and bring to boil. Pour onto eggs, stir well, return to heat and cook, stirring, until mixture thickens. Transfer to a bowl. Cover surface with cling film and cool completely without stirring.


Making the glacé icing

4 Add vanilla extract to icing sugar and whisk in boiled water, spoon by spoon, until you get a good spreading consistency.


Creating the Napoleons

5 Lay one sheet of cooked pastry onto a board and spread it with a thick layer of pastry cream. Lay a second sheet of pastry on top and spread on another layer of pastry cream.

6 Put on final layer of pastry and spread with an even layer of glacé icing.

7 Melt chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and put it into an icing pen or piping bag with a fine nozzle. Draw horizontal chocolate lines at regular intervals over surface of the icing.

8 Take a metal skewer and lightly drag it diagonally across lines to make an attractive pattern. Leave to set before slicing carefully with a sharp knife into individual servings.


These exquisite pastries are taken from the 2016 Dairy Diary available now.



 the perfect paper pompomAnd these will go into a cake
box  adorned with a decorative
pompom  (these are also fabulous
for decorating your home for
the Christmas season).





How to Make the Perfect Paper Pompom



Why not send me a photo of your pompoms?







Win a very special Christmas Baking Set

Win Christmas Baking Set app


Win a very special Christmas Baking Set

Dairy Diary is offering you the chance to win a very special Christmas Baking Set including our most-wanted Christmas baking products.

  • Hand-engraved wooden rolling pin which
    cleverly embosses a Christmas tree design
    onto pastry, biscuits or icing
  • Denby Heritage Pavilion mixing bowl
  • Handmade wooden spoon
  • Dairy Diary 2016


Good luck.





Recipe of the Week: Chocolate Fudgey Cake

Chocolate Fudgey Cake

  • Servings: 16-20 squares
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Calories 202 per portion
Fat 11g (3g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing


  • Cocoa powder 75g (3oz)
  • Eggs 3
  • Light muscovado sugar 250g (9oz)
  • Olive oil or rapeseed oil 125ml (4fl oz)
  • Self-raising flour 150g (5oz)
  • Bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp
  • Dark chocolate 150g (5oz), broken into chunks
  • Butter 25g (1oz)
  • Milk 4 tbsp
  • Golden syrup 1 tbsp
  • Milk chocolate 50g (2oz), broken into pieces and melted in a bowl over a pan of hot water


  1. Whisk 50g (2oz) cocoa powder with 100ml (3½fl oz) boiling water in a small bowl until smooth. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and line a 33 x 22cm (13 x 9in) tray bake tin with non-stick baking paper.
  3. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, sugar and oil for 3 minutes, until smooth, using an electric whisk.
  4. Mix in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa paste. Pour into the tin and allow to settle.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the cake is risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  6. To make the icing, melt the dark chocolate with the butter in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and stir until smooth. At the same time, mix the remaining cocoa powder, milk and syrup in apan and heat until almost boiling. Whisk it into the chocolate mixture to make a glossy icing.
  7. Smooth the icing over the cake, drizzle with the milk chocolate and leave to set. Cut into squares.

To serve now: Enjoy the cakes and keep any extras in an airtight container for a few days.

To freeze: Place in rigid plastic containers in a single layer or between sheets of greaseproof paper. Cover, seal and label. Use within 2 months.

To serve from the freezer: Thaw at room temperature for about 2 hours or until defrosted.


For more recipes visit the Dairy Diary recipes website.

A Game-Changing Hot Drink Plus a Fabulous Give-Away


A Game-Changing Hot Drink
Plus a Fabulous Give-Away

Very occasionally you stumble across a game-changing new discovery.

For me, in the last 12 months, my foodie discoveries have been Chai tea, which I love to make with hot skimmed milk as a calciumtastic bedtime drink; cauliflower ‘rice’ – a tasty and nutritious carb-free side dish and comforting hot fruit infusions.

I first discovered fruit infusions on a
decadent trip to London to celebrate
my friend Kirstin’s 40th birthday.

Posh Pomelo & Melon fruit infusionWe enjoyed a spectacular ‘fashionista afternoon tea’ in the Berkley Hotel, Knightsbridge. With our fabulous array of goodies Kirstin ordered a Posh Pomelo & Melon fruit infusion as an alternative to ordinary leaf tea.

After a sneaky taste, all three of us were converts – wow. Nothing like the insipid nature of normal fruit teas, this infusion, made with dried fruits, was a revelation.

A while later our friend Gudi tracked fruit infusions down online and sent us a selection of Fr’cinni to enjoy at home.

These award winning Fr’cinnis are made using only the finest natural ingredients: air dried fruits, herbs and spices to create a taste experience like no other. Simply add 2-3 teaspoons to a cup or teapot, add hot water and drink hot or cool then chill. You can even eat the fruit afterwards.


Spice Way, who produce Fr’cinni have kindly supplied us with a fabulous selection of infusions to give away, these include: Opulent Orange Chilli, Zesty Citrus, Green Tea with Ginger & Cinnamon, Amazing Apple, Fruit Earl Grey.

To be in with a chance of winning these and a gorgeous glass teapot – perfect for one cup click below.


To find out more about Frcinni click here


And to accompany your fruit infusion why not bake this tasty teabread? Enjoy one or two slices then freeze the rest.

Banana & Sultana Loaf

Banana & Sultana Loaf

  • Servings: 8-10 slices
  • Print

Calories 176 per portion
Fat 0.4g (0g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing


  • Sultanas 225g (8oz)
  • Hot tea 300ml (½ pint)
  • Sunflower oil for brushing
  • Bananas 200g (7oz) weight with skins on
  • Light brown or caster sugar 110g (4oz)
  • Self-raising flour 225g (8oz)
  • Bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp
  • Ground cinnamon 1 tsp

Banana & Sultana Loaf Instructions

  1. Put the sultanas in a bowl and pour over the hot tea. Leave for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Lightly brush a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with a little oil and line the base with non-stick baking paper.
  3. Peel and mash the bananas in a large bowl. Add the sugar, flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon, then stir in the sultanas and tea and mix thoroughly.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the tin, level the surface and cook for about 1 hour or until well risen and a skewer comes out cleanly when inserted in the cake.

To serve now: Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then loosen the edges and turn out, peel off the paper and slice.

To freeze: When the cake is cold, interleave the slices to be frozen with paper, then put them in a polybag, label and freeze. Use within 3 months.

To serve from the freezer: Thaw as many slices as required at room temperature for about 2 hours or until thoroughly defrosted.

Cook’s tip
You can use luxury mixed fruits in place of the sultanas, if you prefer. It tastes really good spread with a little butter.

Discover more recipes on the Dairy Diary website


#tripletested #win #competition

Recipe of the Week: Gingered Beef Casserole

The perfect comfort food. Let this casserole warm up your November weekend.

Gingered Beef Casserole

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 416 per portion
Fat 21g (4g sat) per portion
Suitable for freezing


  • Sunflower oil 1 tbsp
  • Diced stewing beef 500g (1lb 2oz)
  • Onion 1, peeled and chopped
  • Plain flour 1 tbsp
  • Ginger beer 500ml (18fl oz)
  • Beef stock 300ml (½ pint)
  • Worcestershire sauce 1 tbsp
  • English mustard 1 tsp
  • Carrots 350g (12oz), peeled, halved lengthways, thickly sliced
  • Pearl barley 110g (4oz)


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C(160°fan)/350°F/Gas 4. Heat oil in a large frying pan, add beef and fry, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add onion and fry, stirring, until meat is browned and onion has softened.
  2. Stir in flour then gradually mix in ginger beer and stock. Add Worcestershire sauce, mustard, carrots and barley, then season. Bring up to boil, stirring.
  3. Transfer to an ovenproof casserole dish, cover and bake for 2 hours until meat is tender.

Read Gingered Beef Casserole recipe on the Dairy Diary website

#recipeoftheweek #tripletested #beef #casserole


Essential Items to Keep in your Car

Essential Items to Keep in your Car this Winter

Essential Items to Keep in your Car

(and how to organise them)

Extremely cold weather is forecast and it won’t be long before de-icing the car will become part of the morning routine. So now’s the perfect time to ensure that you have all the essentials you need in your car.

It’s important to be prepared for inclement weather but also family outings can be so much easier if you’re prepared.

Rather than packing everything every
time you leave the house, have a think
about what you use on a regular basis
and keep it in the car.

Obviously there’s no point loading the car up with loads of useless clutter that weighs it down and increases your fuel consumption, but some useful bits and bobs can make life much easier!

Here’s what (and how) I pack in my car to make family life run a little more smoothly.

In the glovebox

  • Purse containing coins for car parks
  • Torch
  • Details of breakdown service and insurance (make sure you also have a copy at home)
  • Pen
  • Notebook
  • Glasses/sunglasses
  • Phone charger
  • Lipbalm

In the door/seat pockets

  • Hand sanitiser (essential post-petrol stop)
  • Ice scraper
  • Window cloth
  • Road map (if you’re retro like me and prefer it to satnav)
  • Small activity book per child
  • Ziploc Bags (for storing all sorts of bits and bobs or in case someone feels unwell)
  • Wet wipes
  • Tissues

In the boot

  • Warning triangle
  • Fluorescent vests
  • Spare tyre or equivalent
  • First aid kit
  • Re-usable shopping bags
  • Umbrella
  • Suncream
  • Towel
  • Woolly hat, gloves and pack-a-mac
  • Roll of tin foil (this may seem bizarre but tin foil can be used to wrap leftover picnics, keep you warm in a crisis, and create a temporary blackout-blind at a holiday property)
  • Picnic rug (for picnics – obviously – and also to keep little ones warm)
  • Scissors and tape
  • Hair ties, clips and hairbrush

I have found the best way of storing everything in the boot is in a sturdy basket as it doesn’t fall over or roll around when I’m driving.

I don’t keep any tools or jump leads etc. in my car as I would have no idea how to use them! In the event of a breakdown, I would always ring for roadside assistance.

Stay safe this winter.



#drivesafe #snow #ice #family

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