Tag Archives: teatime

Lessons From My Mother | The Best Brownie Recipe

Lessons From My Mother | The Best Brownie Recipe

In anticipation of Mother’s Day, Debenhams is celebrating the wisdom of all mothers by continuing their What My Mum Taught Me campaign. When I was invited to contribute my own blog post, I was happy to jump on board, as applauding my Mum is something I’d like to do more on this blog (she is, after all, the main person who takes the photos of me and films my videos!).

My Mum has always been more like a best friend than a mother, and we’ve been lucky enough to always have a very close relationship. She’s been the surrogate mother to numerous friends of mine as well – everybody loves her!

When I think of the (too many to count) life lessons Mum has taught me, my mind has a tendency to wander to the kitchen. Many of my earliest memories involve standing on a stool next to her at the kitchen counter, watching what she was doing and delightedly being allowed to stir.

Lessons From My Mother | The Best Brownie Recipe

It was my Mother who introduced me to the delights of good food: her dinner parties were spoken of reverently by my parents’ friends, and throughout my childhood she tirelessly turned out meal after delicious meal. I’ve never known anyone come close to my Mum’s ability to produce an incredible dish from a seemingly barren larder (would that I had that talent), and she has the knack of making even the simplest of meals taste extra good.

As much as she has taught me how to cook and bake, my Mum also gave me the gift of hospitality. Learning from her example, I would invite friends of mine around for afternoon tea, baking my own cakes and scones from age 12. It delighted me to see people enjoy the food I prepared, and in high-school I set the tradition of movie nights with my friends, where we’d eat pizza or sushi and I would bake brownies.

Lessons From My Mother | The Best Brownie Recipe

I always made the same brownie recipe: my Mum’s, which she’d taught me from when I was big enough to crack an egg. Anyone I have ever served these brownies to has always asked for the recipe – they are that good! Delightfully, too, they are incredibly simple, but honestly, other brownies simply don’t compare. This recipe produces irresistibly gooey-on-the-inside-flaky-on-the-outside chocolatey squares that leave people crying out for more. Just as I baked these brownies all through my teens, I’ve made them all through my 20s too. They’re my go-to dessert (served still slightly warm with vanilla ice-cream), standard party food and pot-luck staple. I’ve brought them into work numerous times, and they make a terrific gift if anyone needs cheering up. The recipe is incredibly forgiving: you don’t have to be Nigella Lawson to whip this up, and you don’t need any fancy kitchen equipment either; just a wooden spoon and bowl will do!

Lessons From My Mother | The Best Brownie Recipe

To guide you step-by-step through the process of baking these, I’ve created a video (the full recipe also appears at the bottom of this page)! You can watch it here, or simply press play below:

I do hope you have a go at making these, and I’d love to see your results, so please do snap a photo and use the #mirandaskitchennotebook so I can check it out!

Here’s the recipe in a handy-dandy printable format:

The Best Brownies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
One of the best recipes my Mum has ever taught me! This makes the most delectable gooey-on-the-inside-flaky-on-the-outside brownies.

Ingredients
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 8oz butter
  • 5 eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Additional butter for greasing
  • Icing sugar (optional) to decorate
Instructions
  1. Grease a 9" square tin with butter and set the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4, 350° F)
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave (I melt it in 30-40 second bursts so as to make sure not to burn it).
  3. In a large bowl, add the sugar to the melted butter & chocolate mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Add the whisked eggs and combine, then stir in the flour and vanilla essence.
  5. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared tin and place in the oven.
  6. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes. The brownies should be flaky on the outside, but gooey on the inside, so a toothpick inserted in the middle won't come out completely clean.

 

Thank you, Mum, for always providing me with a wealth of advice, inspiration and the ability to make my own brownies! I can’t wait for many more years of cooking adventures together in the kitchen.

What lessons have you learnt from your mother? Has she passed on a favourite recipe to you? I’d love to hear what it is! Don’t forget – Mother’s Day is only a few short weeks away (March 6th), so it’s definitely time to start thinking about how to spoil her. I recommend baking these brownies and putting them into a pretty cake tin, along with a card and special gift. For inspiration, check out the Debenhams Mother’s Day page. I also love the look of their flowers – but you know me, I can never resist a pretty bouquet!

Disclosure: as thanks for this post, Debenhams is sending my Mum a bottle of champagne, as she most definitely deserves the finer things in life! 

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Gooey Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Brownies

Gooey Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Brownies - the perfect Halloween treat!

If you fancy a halloween twist on a classic sweet treat, then I absolutely recommend making these gooey pumpkin and cream cheese brownies. They’re great on their own as an afternoon pick-me-up, or I’m sure they would be a popular choice at a Halloween gathering. I served some squares with vanilla ice-cream for dessert at a recent dinner party, and I have to say it was a pretty yummy combination!

Gooey Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Brownies - the perfect Halloween treat!

What’s your favourite Halloween treat?

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Pumpkin and Maple Syrup Cupcakes

Pumpkin and Maple Syrup Cupcakes - click through to get the recipe!

I’m off on the train to Hastings with my Mum and an old friend from Uni tomorrow, and I thought it would be rather nice to bring along something yummy for the journey (not least because it was my birthday on Wednesday, and I feel entitled to eat cake for the rest of the week!). In the autumn, I take any excuse I can get to add pumpkin to a recipe, so it’s hardly a surprise that I decided on pumpkin cupcakes with a maple syrup frosting. These cakes are dense and moist, but not overly sweet, so the icing provides a pleasant contrast.

Pumpkin and Maple Syrup Cupcakes - click through to get the recipe!Pumpkin and Maple Syrup Cupcakes - click through to get the recipe!

Have you made pumpkin cupcakes before? What’s your favourite cupcake flavour?

Pumpkin and Maple Syrup Cupcakes
Author: 
Serves: 10 cupcakes
 
These pumpkin cupcakes are moist and delicious and would be perfect served at an autumnal tea party!

Ingredients
For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) canned pumpkin purée
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
For the icing:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 21/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180° C. Brush or spray the top of 10 muffin tins with vegetable oil and line them with 10 cupcake liners.
  2. Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.
  3. Divide the batter among the prepared tins (I use a level 2¼-inch ice cream scoop) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, make the icing.
  5. Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the maple syrup, vanilla, and confectioners' sugar and continue beating until the mixture is well combined and smooth.

 

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Celebration Malteser Cake

celebrationcake_6

My Dad loves Maltesers, and as they’re not very readily available in the States, he likes to make the most of visits to the UK to get his fix of this chocolatey treat. I wanted to bake a cake to enjoy on his last full day in London, and I decided that a Malteser cake would be entirely appropriate. I tweaked a Mary Berry recipe and was fully satisfied with the results: the cake looked (and tasted!) suitably decadent for a fun tea party and was easy to pull together.

Children would adore this cake as well, and it would make an excellent choice for a birthday party. There’s something about a malteser-topped cake that speaks to the inner child in all of us, though, so this is bound to be a favourite amongst adults as well (and is a guaranteed hit amongst any North American relatives you may have!).

celebrationcake_2 celebrationcake_3 celebrationcake_4 maltesercake

Here’s the recipe – enjoy!

Celebration Malteser Cake
Author: 
 
A cake to delight children and adults alike!

Ingredients
For the cake:
  • 30g malted chocolate powder
  • 30g cocoa butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g butter, softened (plus some extra for greasing)
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 tablespoons espresso
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 eggs
For the icing:
  • 3 tablespoons malted chocolate drink powder
  • 1 1/1 tablespoons hot milk
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 250g icing sugar (plus some extra for dusting)
  • 50g dark chocolate (at least 50% cocoa solids), melted
  • 1 tablespoon hot espresso (I mix 1 tsp ground espresso powder with 1 tbsp boiling water)
  • about 20 Maltesers to decorate
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C fan. Grease and line with baking paper two 20cm (8 in) round tins.
  2. Measure the malted chocolate drink powder and cocoa powder into a large bowl, pour over 2 tablespoons of espresso and mix to a paste. Add the remaining cake ingredients and beat until smooth.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly between the two prepared tins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Set the cakes aside the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then remove them and allow to cool completely.
  4. For the icing, measure the malted chocolate drink powder into a bowl, add the hot milk and mix until smooth. Add the butter, icing sugar and melted chocolate and mix again until smooth, then add the hot espresso.
  5. To assemble, place one cake on a plate and spread over half the icing. Sandwich the other cake on top and spread the remaining icing over it. To create a swirl effect, use the tip of a rounded palette knife and swirl it through the icing from the centre to the edge of the cake. Arrange the maltesers over the top and finally dust with a little icing sugar.

 

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Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe | Miranda's Notebook

My Mum has been making this recipe for peanut butter cookies for as long as I can remember. It’s now a favourite of mine too: the recipe only takes about 5 minutes to pull together, and the cookies are quick to bake as well as to cool – perfect for when you’re in a rush.

American baking is my ultimate comfort food, and curling up on the couch with a magazine and one of these biscuits is the perfect pick-me-up after a week of flu!

Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe | Miranda's Notebook

Peanut Butter Cookies
Prep time: 
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Total time: 
 
These peanut butter cookies can be thrown together in a few minutes and are the perfect treat.

Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup peanut butter (I used chunky, but you can use smooth if preferred)
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 cup flour
Instructions
  1. Set oven to 175° C (155° Fan) and lightly grease two cookie sheets.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Drop the mixture by teaspoonfuls onto the greased cookie sheets.
  4. Lightly press the balls of cookie dough down with a floured fork in 2 directions.
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned (the cookies will firm up more when cooling, so don't worry if they still seem squidgy).
  6. Place the biscuits on a wire rack and allow to cool.

 

What’s your favourite comfort food?

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The World’s Easiest Cake

orangeloaf

I had to share this recipe with you all, as it’s one of my very favourite cakes, and I happened to make it twice over the weekend. I first shared this recipe on an old joint blog I used to write, Old Fashioned Girls, and one of its former readers, Merenia, reminded me of its existence on twitter the other day (great to hear you like it so much, Merenia!). This is probably the easiest cake recipe you’ll ever come across, as essentially all you do is throw the (minimal) ingredients in a bowl, give them a stir and then bung the cake tin in the oven. Definitely my kind of recipe!

I brought this cake to a dinner party as a ‘thank you’ for my friend on Friday, and then I baked it again to serve to a friend who came for tea on Saturday (freezing the leftovers to bring along to a picnic on Friday). It’s definitely a cake for many occasions! Without further ado, then, here’s the recipe:

Easy Madeira Cake
Prep time: 
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Serves: 4
 
The world's easiest cake!

Ingredients
  • 180g self-raising flour
  • 150g caster sugar (plus some to decorate)
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp Grand Marnier (optional)
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 150 ° Fan (170°C) and grease and base-line a 1lb loaf tin.
  2. Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix until just smooth (be careful not to over mix). Pour the batter into the prepared tin, level the top and sprinkle with sugar.
  3. Bake for about an hour, or until risen and firm to the touch (for me, it took 45 minutes to bake). Leave to rest in the tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool and sprinkling more sugar on top.

I also often make this recipe with the zest and juice of 1 lemon, rather than an orange, and then I replace the teaspoon of Grand Marnier with a teaspoon of limoncello. Both versions are rather scrumptious! This cake is light and moist and goes especially well with a nice cup of tea and a good book (or friend to chat with).

What’s your favourite easy cake recipe? Are you a fan of nice plain cakes like me, or do you generally prefer something a little fancier?

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Iced Honey Cake Recipe

honeycake1

There are some recipes that are with you a lifetime. My Mum has been making this iced honey cake for as long as I can remember, and, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been helping her make it. I loved the job of drizzling icing over the cake at the end, as well as crushing the pecans with a rolling pin and plastic bag.

These days, I enjoy making this cake to serve with afternoon tea, or I especially savour it in the morning, with a cup of tea or coffee. It’s also a perfect cake to slice up and bring to picnics. I’m bringing this one along for a work-related picnic early this week.

honeycake2 honeycake3

Do you have any favourite recipes from your childhood?

Iced Honey Cake Recipe
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Serves 6
 
A light, tasty cake perfect to serve with coffee in the morning or to bring to a picnic.

Ingredients
Cake:
  • Light soft brown sugar 4 ounces
  • Room temperature unsalted butter, 5 ounces
  • Clear honey, 6 ounces
  • Water, 1 Tablespoon
  • 2 eggs
  • Self-raising flour, sifted 7 ounces
  • ¾ teaspoon mixed sweet spice (mine is from Honey & Co, but any sweet spice mix is good)
Icing:
  • Icing Sugar sifted, 4ounces
  • Clear honey, 1 Tablespoons
  • Water 1-2 Tablespoons
To Garnish:
  • Toasted and finely chopped pecans, 2 ounces
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180° regular oven (160 C° fan). Grease and base-line a 20cm (8in) square tin.
  2. Gently heat the butter, brown sugar, water and honey with the butter in a medium sized saucepan until all are melted and combined. Immediately re one from heat and beat in the eggs, spice and the sifted flour. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
  3. Bake in a preheated oven until the cake is just starting to shrink from the tin (about 30-35 mins in my fan oven, five or so minutes more in a regular one). Turn the cake onto a cake rack and remove from tin. Ice while still just warm. Mix the sieved icing sugar with the honey and water so you can trickle it with a teaspoon over the cake, allowing the icing to trickle down the sides. I like to scatter chopped, toasted pecans over the top too.
  4. Freezes very well, un-iced and keeps for several days in a cake tin!

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Strawberry Flan

Strawberry Flan |Miranda's Notebook

As you know, I love recipes that are simple, but delicious. This strawberry flan is both of those things, and is the perfect treat to enjoy whilst having a lazy afternoon flicking through books and sipping tea in the garden. It’s also a fantastic dinner party dessert and a firm favourite of mine to bring along to summer BBQs. Best of all, the flan is inexpensive to make and uses ingredients you’re likely to have in the fridge and cupboard. You can use whatever fruit is in season, or whatever you have that is lying around and needs using up!

Flans freeze very well too and thaw quickly so I often make a couple and store one unfilled in the freezer. In winter, I fill them with chocolate mousse and grate white chocolate over the top for an extra decadent but quick dessert.

Strawberry Flan | Miranda's NotebookStrawberry Flan | Miranda's NotebookStrawberry Flan | Miranda's Notebook

Do you like fruity desserts? What’s your favourite summery sweet treat?

Strawberry Sponge Flan
Author: 
Prep time: 
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Serves: 4
 
A simple, delicious summer dessert.

Ingredients
  • For the sponge flan:
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 70g soft butter
  • 70g self-raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
  • For the filling:
  • 300g strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 150ml double cream, whipped
  • ½ teaspoon gelatine powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C and grease and flour a 19 cm (7½ inch) non-stick flan tin.
  2. For this flan, everything must be at room temperature.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl and then add the sugar, soft butter, egg and vanilla essence. Beat the mixture together well for 3 minutes with an electric beater. Pour into the well greased and floured flan tin.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes (mine took 12), until the sponge is golden and springy to the touch. Allow to cool for 3 minutes in tin, then gently slip a knife between the cake and the tin and turn out onto a wire rack.
  5. Allow to cool completely, and in the meantime make the filling.
  6. Half the strawberries and rinse quickly. Leave in a bowl sprinkled with caster sugar for at least 30 minutes. Then, gently pour off the fruit syrup into a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatine on top and cook over moderate heat until gelatine has dissolved.
  7. Pour the glaze into a small bowl and cool in fridge until it starts to set. Arrange the halved strawberries on top of the sponge flan base and, once cooled, pour the glaze on top.
  8. Serve with whipped cream.

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Strawberry Milkshake Cake

Strawberry Milkshake Cake Recipe | Miranda's Notebook

Yesterday, I blogged about my top choices for Mothering Sunday gifts, but often one of the very nicest ways you can spoil your Mum is to bake her a lovely cake and have a good long chat over copious amounts of tea.

This Strawberry Milkshake Cake is absolutely perfect for a Mother’s Day treat: it’s one of the prettiest cakes I’ve ever baked, and the delicious flavour sends me right down memory lane to when a strawberry milkshake shared with my Mum was one of my biggest treats. I have many fond memories of a particularly loved American diner in California that we went to sometimes for a burger and shake, and when I was in high-school in Switzerland, a regular after school Friday routine would be to go with my Mum (or sometimes a boyfriend or friend) to our favourite cafe in Nyon, which has the most delicious strawberry frappés anyone has ever tasted.

I’ve adapted the recipe from one in Lisa Faulkner’s new cookbook, Tea & Cake (which is gorgeous and would make a fabulous Mother’s Day gift in itself). Here’s my version:

Strawberry Milkshake Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:
300g butter, softened (plus some extra for greasing)
300g Nesquik strawberry milk powder
4 eggs
300g self-raising flour
4 tablespoons milk

For the icing:
300g butter, softened
500g icing sugar
150g Nesquik strawberry milk powder
50ml milk
Pink food colouring

To decorate:
200g strawberries, sliced (plus extra to scatter on and around the cake, if desired)

1/ Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line two 8 inch cake tins with greaseproof paper.

2/ Cream the butter and strawberry milk powder together until pink and fluffy.

3/ Add the eggs 1 by 1, alternating with a spoonful of flour, then add the remaining flour and the milk and mix to combine.

4/ Divide the mixture between the two cake tins (you can weigh them to make sure they’re even) and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes before turning them out of the tins onto wire racks to cool completely.

5/ While the cakes are cooling, make the icing by creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add 2-3 drops of pink food colouring to turn the icing a pretty pink. Mix the strawberry milk powder with the milk and add it to the icing.

6/ Sandwich the two cakes together with some of the icing and a layer of sliced strawberries, then roughly spread a thin layer of icing on top and around the cake. Place the cake in the fridge for 20 minutes to set the ‘crumb coat,’ then remove and spread the remaining icing onto the cake until it is well covered. Place strawberries on and around the cake to decorate.

7/ Enjoy whilst reminiscing over old photos with your Mum.

Strawberry Milkshake Cake Recipe | Miranda's Notebook Strawberry Milkshake Cake Recipe | Miranda's Notebook Strawberry Milkshake Cake Recipe | Miranda's Notebook Strawberry Milkshake Cake Recipe | Miranda's NotebookStrawberry Milkshake Cake Recipe | Miranda's Notebook Strawberry Milkshake Cake Recipe | Miranda's Notebook

I think my Mum is quite happy that this blog means she’s getting to have a few Mother’s Day celebrations in advance of the actual day! I promise I’ll do something nice on March 15th too, Mum!

Are you planning to bake or cook anything to celebrate Mothering Sunday? I’d love to know what if so!

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Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract | Miranda's Notebook

I love making my own vanilla extract. It’s so easy, and it’s fabulous to have plenty to hand as I use it all the time for baking. It’s much more frugal to make your own too, as tiny jars of the stuff cost a surprisingly large amount. I also like to pour some into little mason jars to give as gifts – they make super hostess or housewarming presents. Or of course, you can be very generous and give the whole lot!

I recently made up a batch, and will soon be dividing it up, keeping some for myself and ear-marking the rest for gifts. With a pretty handwritten tag and a simple sprig of flowers, a jar of homemade vanilla extract is sure to delight any of your foodie friends. Here’s the Ina Garten recipe (if you can call it a recipe – it’s so easy!) that I use:

Homemade Vanilla Extract (makes 1 large bottle)

Ingredients:

12 (I use 13, a baker’s dozen!) vanilla beans
1 bottle vodka

1/ Place the vanilla beans (if you split them lengthwise the flavour develops more quickly) into a tall mason jar and pour the bottle of vodka over top.

2/ Leave the bottle to sit at room temperature for at least a month, until the beans are soft enough to squeeze out the seeds when you cut the end. Add more vanilla beans or vodka as needed.

3/ The vanilla extract can be stored at room temperature indefinitely.

Homemade Vanilla Extract | Miranda's Notebook Homemade Vanilla Extract | Miranda's Notebook Homemade Vanilla Extract | Miranda's NotebookHave you made vanilla extract yourself before? Do you have any good ideas for homemade hostess gifts?

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