Baking in Malawi

So I’m back! I have been way for 10 weeks volunteering in Malawi, I was working with nursery school teachers and setting up a girls’ empowerment group. We were staying with host families in a rural village in the north of the country. I had a amazing time, it was hard work at times but great way to experience the culture of a different country.



girls group

Cooking-wise things were pretty basic, the families cooked for us in their outside kitchens over open fires or charcoal burners. The food in the host homes was simple, beans or meat usually served with rice and there was a town about 15 minutes away on the bus where we could get hold of more western foods. One treat we could get quite easily at the local shop was mandasi. They are like doughnuts and cost 20 Malawian kwacha, which is about 3p! One afternoon I had a mandasi making lesson from Mau, one of the Malawian volunteers.

malawian kitchen

They are very simple to make and will give you a taste of Malawi!






4 cups of plain flour

1 cup of sugar

2 cups of milk

1 egg

4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

vegetable oil to fry

Start by combining all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the egg and the milk. Stir together until you have a thick batter, don’t worry too much about lumps. Pour about 3cm of oil into the bottom of a pan and put it over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, it should sizzle when you add a small amount of the mixture, add large spoonfuls of the batter to the oil. Cook for a few minutes on each side until they are a golden brown colour.




Advanced dough

So I am sad to say this is going to be my last bake and my last blog post for a while. In two days I am off on an adventure; ten weeks volunteering in rural Malawi. I will be working with nursery schools to help improve the standard of education in a village called Sangilo, we will be without electricity and running water so I don’t think there will be any opportunity for baking! I am very excited, although getting more nervous as my departure approaches. It was a huge decision for me to leave my job back in July and I still don’t really know how things are going to work out for me but I am very lucky to have the support of my family and closest friends.


Anyway…lets get on with the baking! I enjoyed last week’s episode, there were disasters, with very few of the technical bakes being cooked and edible and it felt like the bakers were definitely being pushed with short time limits. The showstopper allowed the bakers to get really creative with different flavours in their doughnuts. Richard had another great week and became star baker for the forth time, although I do think Luis was equally deserving. As it’s my last blog post in a while I thought I’d go all out and this is probably one of the most decadent things I’ve made – definitely not a bake that will be happening on a regular basis; Salted Caramel and Chocolate Doughnuts. I have never made doughnuts before partly down to a fear of deep fat frying things but they weren’t too difficult and I like how a basic dough can be made into something special with different flavour combinations.


Salted Caramel and Chocolate Doughnuts

Dough ingredients

250g strong plain flour

30g caster sugar

7g fast action yeast

2 eggs

75ml water

65g softened butter

Salted caramel topping

100g caster sugar

35g butter

50ml double cream

1/2tsp salt

Chocolate filling ingredients

100g dark chocolate

150ml double cream

25g butter


Start by making the dough, this needs to be done the day before.

  1. Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Add the eggs and water, combine into a dough.
  3. Beat in the butter bit by bit.
  4. Leave the dough to rise for about an hour.
  5. Knock back (quickly knead the dough to knock out some of the air) then chill in the fridge overnight.
  6. The next day divide the dough into 50g pieces – you should get 10 and shape into balls.
  7. Put the doughnuts onto a slightly floured tray and leave to prove for about 3 hours covered with cling film.

In the mean time you can prepare the topping and filling. First make the salted caramel.

  1. Put the caster sugar in a pan and let it melt over a medium heat.
  2. When all the sugar is melted and a dark golden colour remove from the heat and beat in the butter.
  3. Add the salt and slowly add the cream.

Next the make the chocolate ganache filling.

  1. Chop the chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Heat the cream until it is just below boiling then pour it over the chocolate.
  3. Let it sit for 30 seconds then stir.
  4. Once all of the chocolate has melted into the cream add the butter and mix that in.

Next it’s time to cook the doughnuts.

  1. Preheat a deep fat fryer to 180°C or half fill a heavy saucepan with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C.
  2. When the oil is at temperate carefully transfer the doughnuts from the tray to the oil.
  3. Cook on each side for about 2 minutes in batches of two or three.
  4. Remove from the oil and place on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.
  5. Leave to cool.
  6. Transfer the chocolate filling to a piping bag or syringe and fill each doughnut with between 1 and 2 tablespoons of the filling.
  7. When all the doughnuts are all filled dip the tops in the salted caramel. (You may need to warm it up slightly.)
  8. Drizzle over some of the chocolate ganache to decorate.


So that’s it from me for now, I will be back  from my trip in the middle of December so I will be back blogging then with some Christmas treats. Bit annoyed that I am going to miss the GBBO final, but I really hope you have enjoyed me baking and blogging along!

Kouign amann

This week’s pastry episode was one of my favourite in this series, there were some interesting signature savoury parcels, lots of tasty looking show stopping eclairs and everyone was on an even footing with the technical bake. None of the bakers had heard of kouign amann and neither had I before watching the episode. Making something you have never heard of, tasted or even seen must have been a real challenge for the contestants especially with Paul’s ambiguous instructions.

kouign amann

I decided to have a go at making the kouign amann, with a name that translates to butter (amann) cake (kouign), who could resist! They do take a bit of work and are definitely not quick but if you have a bit of pastry making experience they are pretty straight forward and the buttery, caramelised flakiness is definitely worth it!

kouign amann

Two tips; make sure you keep a track of how many turns you do and make sure you chill the dough in between. And a note about the butter – in my research I found some recipes using salted and some using unsalted, I went for salted because I love the combination of sweet caramelised and salty flavours. I found a great guide to making them here  
, which has loads of photos to guide you through the folding and rolling.

kouign amann

Kouign amann


300g strong plain flour, plus a bit extra for rolling out

5g fast action yeast

200ml warm water

25g melted butter

250g cold salted butter

100g caster sugar

  1. Put the flour in a bowl, add the yeast then pour in the water and melted butter.
  2. Combine the ingredients either using your hands or a mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  3. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
  4. Leave to rise for an hour.
  5. Put the butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper and bash it with a rolling pin until it’s just less than a centimetre thick then put it back in the fridge.
  6. Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a square a couple of centimetres bigger than your butter.
  7. Place the chilled butter diagonally on the dough and fold the corners over the butter into the centre. It should look like an envelope.
  8. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, fold the bottom third of the dough up and the top third down so you have three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for half an hour.
  9. Repeat step 8 two more times, chilling for half an hour after each.
  10. Roll the dough out into a rectangle and sprinkle with the sugar then fold into thirds again.
  11. Again roll the dough out into a rectangle, working quickly so that the sugar doesn’t dissolve into the dough.
  12. Cut the rectangle into 12 squares, bring the corners of each square together and put them in a greased muffin tin.
  13. Sprinkle them with a bit more sugar and then leave to rise for half an hour.
  14. Bake in an oven preheated to 200°C/Gas 7 for between 30 and 40 minutes, the pastries should be quite dark and caramelised.
  15. Enjoy the pastries warm out of the oven or allow them to cool.

It is quite a time consuming recipe, but it is worth it, your house will smell like a French boulangerie! If you want you can chill the dough overnight after you have finished the turns but before you add the sugar.

kouign amann



Baking for Malawi

In two weeks time I will be in Malawi, I am going to be taking part in a 10 week volunteer project working with nursery schools in a rural part of Malawi. I am going with an organisation called Lattitude and it’s part of the ICS programme. I’ve had to do some fundraising and what better way to do that than make cake! My parents very kindly let me take over their house to hold a coffee morning and afternoon tea. Lots of people came along and supported me and I ended up raising over £200, thank you! It was great to see so many people and tell them all about what I am going to be doing over in Malawi.


I made cherry cake, lemon and poppy seed loaf, scones, flapjacks and four different types of cupcake (chocolate, vanilla, lemon meringue and bakewell tart)! I didn’t get to take many photos but I thought I’d share the ones I did take   on here, if you want recipes comment below and I will write another post with recipes.


If you would like to find out more about what I am doing in Malawi or donate you can go to my JustGiving page. If you’d like to find out more about ICS click here, my experience of the ICS programme has been great so far and if you are aged 18-25 and want to do some volunteer work I would definitely recommend it.


Bake Off update: no European cake this week I’m afraid because all of my baking time was taken up with the coffee morning and afternoon tea but you can see my Swedish Princess Cake I baked a few weeks ago here. I really enjoyed the pastry episode and I’m hoping to have a go at making kouign amann before this week’s episode. With me going away I’m going to miss the final but I will be baking and blogging up until I go. I don’t think there will be much opportunity for baking when I’m in Malawi so the blog will be taking a break but I will be back just before Christmas.

Pies and Tarts

Firstly, sorry for the massive break in posts! I have been mega busy, with not a lot of time to bake, so the blog has been neglected. And what a week to miss! At the end of my last post I predicted Baked Alaska dramas, and there was definitely drama. I did feel a bit sorry for Iain and his melted ice cream but I don’t think Diana deliberately sabotaged him.

This week’s episode was pies and tarts, starting off with Signature Custard Tarts, next Paul challenged the bakers to make Mini Pear Tarts in the Technical Bake and finally Showstopping Three Tiered Pies. I decided to make ‘exotic’ Tarte au Citron as a tribute to Norman! I baked mine in some very cute mini tart tins, they are only 8cm diameter and you can get soix from this recipe. You could also double the recipe and make a 25cm tart, you would need to cook it for about 15 – 20 minutes.

tarte au citron

Tarte au Citron

Pastry ingredients

125g plain flour

85g butter

10g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

1 tsp water

Lemon custard ingredients

1 egg

50g caster sugar

75ml double cream

zest and juice of 1 lemon

25g butter

  1. Rub the butter and flour together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  2. Stir in the sugar.
  3. Add the egg yolk and the water and use a knife to mix and bring the dough together.
  4. Wrap the dough up in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  5. Roll out the cool pastry on a lightly floured surface and line your tins or tin.
  6. Put the lined tins back in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4, take the tins from the fridge and line with baking paper and fill with baking beans.
  8. Bake the pastry cases for 15 minutes, taking the baking paper and baking beans out for the last 5 minutes.
  9. While the pastry cases are in the oven whisk together the egg, sugar, cream and lemon zest and juice.
  10. Melt the butter and whisk it into the filling mixture.
  11. Pour the filling into the pastry cases and bake for between 5 and 10 minutes – until the filling is set but still has a bit of wobble.
  12. Leave to cool completely and then enjoy!

tarte au citron

Tonight the bakers will be attempting European cakes, including a Swedish Princess Cake. You can have a look at my blog post about the Pricesstårta here  and see how it compares!

Bread week

This week was bread week on Great British Bake Off, this is normally one of my favourite weeks on GBBO but I didn’t think the challenges were that great this time. The Signature Bake was baking rye rolls, ciabatta was the Technical Challenge and the Showstopper was baking a filled centrepiece loaf. No eight stranded plait.

I’ve known what I wanted to bake for bread week for a while, Chocolate Krantz Cake from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s book Jerusalem. Sweet bread dough, chocolate and pecans – you can’t really go wrong. Now I will say this isn’t a bake that would fit into the 4 hour time limit the contestants had because it requires the dough to rise overnight, but I couldn’t resist!

chocolate krantz cake-1

The original recipe is for two braided loaves but to make it more of a showstopper centrepiece I shaped it into a braided ring. One thing I would suggest is chilling the dough a bit before you shape the loaf. It’s got quite a lot of butter in and in a slightly warm kitchen it went a bit squishy (yep, that’s a technical term). Popping it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so before you shape it will make it a lot easier to work with.

chocolate krantz cake-2

Chocolate Krantz Cake

Dough ingredients

530g plain flour

100g caster sugar

2 sachets (14g) dried yeast

3 free-range eggs

120ml water

150g butter, softened

oil for greasing

Filling ingredients

50g icing sugar

30g cocoa powder

130g dark chocolate

120g butter

100g pecans, roughly chopped

2 tbsp caster sugar

Syrup ingredients

130g caster sugar

80ml water

chocolate krantz cake-3

Firstly the dough, this needs to be done the day before. A stand mixer with a dough hook makes this much easier.

  1. Combine the flour, sugar and yeast in a large bowl.
  2. Add the water and eggs and mix until the dough comes together.
  3. Next add the butter bit by bit.
  4. Knead or mix the dough with the dough hook for five to ten minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Grease a bowl with the oil and transfer the dough to this bowl. Leave to rise overnight.

The next day start by preparing the filling.

  1. Melt together the chocolate and butter in a bowl above a pan of simmering water.
  2. Add the icing sugar and the cocoa and beat until smooth.

Time to shape your loaf, remember my tip about chilling the dough for 20 minutes or so before you start. If you want to make two loaves split the dough and filling in half and follow the instructions below up until shaping into a ring and put into two loaf tins.

  1. Roll the dough out into a rectangle until it is about 1-1.5cm thick.
  2. Spread with the chocolate filling leaving a 2cm border around the edge.
  3. Sprinkle on the chopped pecans and the caster sugar.
  4. Roll up the dough along the long edge using a small amount of water to seal the end.
  5. Next trim the ends off and cut your rolled dough down the middle of the roll.
  6. Twist the two halves together with the cut side on top.
  7. Shape into a ring and transfer to a round loose bottomed cake tin.
  8. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise again for an hour.
  9. Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas 4 and bake for about 40 minutes.

While the cake is in the oven make the syrup.

  1. Combine the sugar and water in a pan over a medium heat.
  2. When the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is just boiling take off the heat and leave to cool.
  3. When you take the cake out of the oven use a pastry brush to cover it with the syrup, it will need a few coats.
  4. Take out of the tin and allow to cool.

chocolate krantz cake-4


Tonight it’s desserts, I’m looking forward to seeing the inevitable Baked Alaska dramas!

Grattis på födelsedagen!

Or “Happy Birthday!” for those of you whose Swedish isn’t quite up to scratch! On Monday it was my brother Will’s birthday and he was home in Cornwall from Sweden for the first time in a while. The Swedish seem to be pretty keen on their cake, even having a word, “fika” for coffee and cake. So I decided to bake Will a traditional Swedish birthday cake or a Pricesstårta. The Swedish Princess Cake consists of a fatless sponge layered with pastry cream and raspberry jam and lots of whipped cream all covered with green marzipan and finished with a pink flower.

swedish princess cake-2

I have a Swedish recipe book that Will got me a couple of years ago for Christmas so I used the recipe from there as a basis then had a look at a few others online to come up with this recipe. Most of the recipes used potato flour or potato starch in the cake but I replaced this with cornflour which is much easier to get hold of. I was planning on making the traditional pink flower out of marzipan but I couldn’t get any pink food colouring so I made one out of tissue paper instead.

swedish princess cake-3

Pricesstårta (Swedish Princess Cake)

Cake ingredients

4 eggs

225g caster sugar

70g plain flour

65g cornflour

1 tsp baking powder

Creme patisserie ingredients

4 egg yolks

65g caster sugar

30g cornflour

350ml milk

vanilla pod


300ml whipping cream

raspberry jam

pack of marzipan

green food colouring

icing sugar

Start with the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4 and line and grease a 9 inch loose bottom cake tin.
  2. Beat together the eggs and sugar until they are very pale and thick.
  3. Sift in the flours and baking powder and carefully fold into the eggs and sugar.
  4. Pour into the cake tin and bake for about 40 minutes.

While the cake is cooking make the creme patisserie:

  1. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until they are pale and golden.
  2. Whisk in the cornflour.
  3. Split the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and at the seeds and the pod to the milk in a pan.
  4. Heat the milk until it simmers.
  5. Sieve out the vanilla pod and pour half of the hot milk onto the egg mixture, whisking all the time so that the eggs don’t scramble.
  6. Add the egg and milk mixture back to the pan with the rest of the milk.
  7. Bring the creme patisserie back to the boil stirring all the time.
  8. When it has boiled pour it into a baking sheet lined with cling film.
  9. Cover with more cling film to stop a skin forming then pop in the fridge to cool.

When the cake and creme patisserie are cool:

  1. Whip the cream until it is stiff.
  2. Colour the marzipan with the food colouring and roll out.
  3. Cut the cake into three layers.
  4. Sandwich the first two cake layers together with the raspberry jam and half of the creme patisserie.
  5. Spread on the rest of the creme patisserie and add the final cake layer.
  6. Cover the whole cake with a thin layer of whipped cream then pile the rest of the cream onto the top of the cake and shape into a dome.
  7. Carefully cover with the green marzipan.
  8. Sprinkle with icing sugar and add the pink flower for decoration.

swedish princess cake-4