Recipe share: how to make Kerry Apple Cake

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Dorset apples

Hello, autumn – the days are growing shorter, the trees are shedding their leaves onto my lawn and my neighbours are kindly leaving bags of windfall apples at their gates, free to anyone who cares to take them home.

This time last year, I shared a recipe for the very popular local Dorset Apple Cake, as made by my friend Debbie – give it a try, it’s delicious! And for 2017, here’s another recipe for an apple cake,  this time from Ireland.

Earlier this month, we took a short holiday of our own and spent a few days in Ireland – my family home and a place which is very dear to me. While we were there, I took a class at the highly recommended Dingle Cookery School and so spent the day with owner Muireann and chef Caroline, learning to make scones, traditional Irish brown soda bread, Dingle (lamb and vegetable) pies with hot water crust pastry, a locally caught fish dish with seasonal greens in a thyme dressing and finally – Kerry Apple Cake.

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Kerry Apple Cake

The cake is quite similar to the Dorset variety but has the addition, as you can see from my photo (taken on the day) of flaked almonds on the top. It’s absolutely delicious and is lovely cold or warm with some fresh whipped cream. Here’s Muireann’s recipe, shared with permission – enjoy.

You will need:

225g self-raising flour
110g sugar
110g butter, softened and cubed
4 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons of milk
1 tablespoon of Demerera sugar
25g flaked almonds

A 9″ deep greased tin

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C

Cream together the butter and sugar; beat in the eggs one at a time and add the milk. Sieve and fold in the flour. Stir in the peeled and sliced apples.

The mixture should be quite wet, like a thick batter; if a little dry, add a splash more milk.

Place in a cake tin and top with the flaked almonds and the brown sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Recipe share: Stuffed French Toast with Bananas, Honey and Almonds – a guest favourite at Sunflowers Bed and Breakfast, Gillingham, Dorset

This recipe, which currently appears on our Weekend Special Breakfasts menu, is inspired by a “traditional” (ie, made in a frying pan) French toast recipe from the mighty Jamie Oliver; his version contains pecan nuts rather than almonds and is fried, not baked.

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Stuffed French Toast with Bananas, Honey and Almonds (c) Sunflowers BnB Dorset

My ‘Sunflowers’ interpretation is made in advance, left overnight and then oven baked the following morning; it creates a beautifully light and fluffy “stuffed” dish and looks amazing when the bread starts to rise and puff up in the oven. I usually make an individual serving, as shown in the first photo, but to make it for two people, I’d make it in a 22cm diameter dish, as pictured in the second photo.

(This image shows a two person serving of my Orange Croissant Baked French Toast –  another very popular Weekend Special; please comment below if you’d like me to share this recipe!)

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Orange Croissant French Toast (c) Sunflowers BnB Dorset

Stuffed French Toast with Bananas, Honey and Almonds is extremely popular as a Weekend Special and I’ve been repeatedly asked for the recipe by both guests and social media followers, so here it is – my own version of:

Stuffed French Toast with Bananas, Honey and Almonds

Serves two

8 small slices of white sliced bread (use gluten-free bread to make this GF friendly)
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
50g flaked almonds
Honey
4 large eggs
2 cups of full fat milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Oil or butter to grease the baking dish

To serve: crème fraiche, maple syrup, fresh berries

The night before:

Select an oven-proof baking dish measuring 22cms in diameter. Use a small brush and oil or melted butter to coat the inside to prevent the bread sticking.

Take your 8 small slices of bread and spread each slice with honey.  Add the sliced banana to 4 of the slices, then sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Top each slice with a slice of bread in order to make 4 sandwiches. Cut each one into four triangles.

To make the custard: beat together 4 eggs, then add the milk and cinnamon and beat again.

Arrange the 16 mini sandwich triangles in your baking dish, then pour the egg custard mixture over, making sure that all the bread is completely covered. Use a fork to press the bread down. Cover with foil and refrigerate.

The next morning:

Remove the dish from the ‘fridge. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C fan. Remove the foil and then bake in the oven for 45 minutes, taking care in the last 15 minutes that the top of the bread doesn’t scorch – if this is looking likely, loosely cover the dish with foil.

Serve with separate small dishes of crème fraiche, maple syrup and your choice of fresh berries.

Like the look of this? Request it when you book!

Recipe share: a delicious gluten-free, dairy-free breakfast idea

One of the many businesses who call Gillingham, Dorset home is the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of the prestigious Great Taste awards (the world’s largest and most trusted food and drink awards, so a pretty Big Deal).  We are honoured to be on their preferred list of accommodation providers and we host members of their judging panel when they travel to Gillingham to blind taste test the widest range of food and drink you could possibly imagine.

We recently met a judge who was here to judge the “free from” category of foods and as she was herself gluten-free and her  travelling companion was dairy-free,  so was my breakfast offering!  Here’s the overnight oats dish I made for them – quantities used may vary, based on the containers that you use, but this is what I did for two portions.  The great thing with this recipe is that it can be flexed so many ways, based on people’s preferences; use regular oats instead of gluten-free,  cow’s milk yoghurt instead of soya or coconut, switch around the fruits.

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Gluten and dairy-free overnight oats

Gluten and Dairy-Free Overnight Oats – serves 2

60g gluten-free oatmeal
200ml vanilla flavoured soya yoghurt
150g mixed berries, with a few reserved for decoration

Method: the night before, take two tall glass containers (I used sundae glasses) and fill them with layers of yoghurt, oats and fruit, ending with a layer of yoghurt. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The following morning,  remove from the ‘fridge about an hour before you wish to serve or eat the dish. Top with a layer of fresh fruit and perhaps a sprinkle of cinnamon.

I was delighted that our guests loved it and they kindly left us this feedback:

We stayed at Sunflowers Bed & Breakfast Dorset for one night and were impressed with such high standards and the warm welcome. Thanks for going to so much trouble to cater for our gluten free and dairy free diets. A magnificent breakfast! We know where to stay when we return to Dorset!

Do you also have special dietary needs or preferences? No problem – just let us know when you book and we’ll happily cater for you – right down to the chocolates and treats we provide in the guest rooms.

Recipe share: Granola and Yoghurt Fruit Tart from the Dorset Dairy Co

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Photo credit – The Dorset Dairy Co

This weekend, we’ll be hosting several members of the same family who are all visiting Gillingham, Dorset in order to attend a 90th birthday party – isn’t that wonderful?

As always, my thoughts are turning towards ideas for my Special Sunday Breakfast and I think I’m going to make this lovely looking Granola and Yoghurt Fruit Tart, as created by our friends Alex and Dan at the nearby Dorset Dairy Co – doesn’t it look delicious?  I’ll probably top mine with blueberries, raspberries and strawberries – watch this space and look out for photos on our social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).

The ingredients for the granola tart are:

350g granola
5 tablespoons melted butter
60 ml honey
640g of the Dorset Dairy Co’s answer to Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fresh fruit, to top

And you can read the rest of the recipe here,  as well as lots of other delicious ways to use Dorset’s answer to Greek yoghurt in your cooking.

One tip I picked up from cookery guru Mary Berry as an easy way to combine all the ingredients to make a crumb (or granola) crust: use a large plastic bag! So for this recipe, I plan to add the granola to a bag and then bash it around a bit with a rolling pin to get the granola “chunks” to a more uniform size. I’ll then add the butter, honey and other ingredients to the bag and get everything coated before using the crumb mix to make the tart case.

FreetoBookDoes this recipe sound good to you? Make your booking online today and request it as part of your Dorset breakfast!

Book directly with us for the best prices when you visit Gillingham, Dorset!

FreetoBookWe are delighted to be able to share with you the news that we are now able to take online booking reservations through our site! Simply click the link that you’ll find on every page to see which rooms are available for your dates and how much your proposed stay will cost you.  You can even choose to add on optional extras,  such as a full cooked Dorset breakfast, weekday use of the hot tub or accommodation for your dog.

We also now take credit card bookings online and we guarantee that you will always get the best price by booking directly with us – as well as lots of little extras. Our reviews often refer to the “special little touches” that we love to share with our guests and you can look forward to experiencing some if not all of the following on your directly booked visit to ‘Sunflowers’:

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Feedback from recent guest Tracey
  • A welcome drink upon arrival (tea, coffee etc), served with cake or biscuits (sometimes home-made – I love to bake!)
  • A wide choice of local teas and coffees on your in-room amenity tray
  • Bottled water
  • Chocolates
  • Fresh flowers in your room
  • One of our legendary ‘Special Sunday Breakfasts’ (if you’re here on a Sunday – although I did recently magic up a Special MONDAY Breakfast for regular returning guest Jordan!)
  • Breakfast options including dairy free, low carb and gluten free items upon request
  • Complimentary Prosecco if you’re celebrating – plus a card

Sunflowers Dorset_Prosecco in the hot tub

  • Fluffy pool towels and robes to use in the hot tub, and plastic drinkware for you to use on the legendary floating drinks tray
  • If you choose to eat in one evening, we’ll happily set the guest dining table for you with plates, glasses, napkins and candles: just ask
  • A guest fridge (stocked with fresh cow’s milk for your use – soya or almond milks also available)
  • A range of DVDs, toys and books for use by our mini guests (plus a stair gate, landing night light and in-room blackout blinds)
  • Complimentary dog treats for our canine visitors.

We try and be so much more than just somewhere to sleep and I’m always keen to think of new ways to improve and offer an even better bed and breakfast experience – so do please check out the new direct booking facility and come and see for yourselves!  If you’re in the UK – we have two more long Bank Holiday weekends coming up and some availability over those dates; why not check us out and make a booking? We’d love to meet you.

Celebrating Easter in Gillingham, Dorset – with a very special recipe for Easter biscuits

Today’s very seasonal recipe share is from one of my very favourite members of the Dorset Farmers’ Market gang – Lizzie the Baking Bird.  Lizzie pops up on assorted Fridays and Saturdays each month and sells her delicious food at markets in places like Sherborne, Wimborne, Dorchester and Bridport,  as well as at various Dorset foodie events throughout the summer. Check out her website for details of where you can be like me and stalk her in order to buy her goodies.

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Photo by Lizzie the Baking Bird, with thanks

So, what are Easter biscuits? They’re made all over the UK but I’d never really encountered them until I moved to Dorset. Traditionally, they are served after church on Easter Sunday, and are presented in a bundle of three biscuits to represent the Holy Trinity. They are eaten alongside hot cross buns, Simnel cake and chocolate eggs as part of British Easter festivities. Easter feasting comes at the end of Lent, so the taste of rich foods is supposed to come as a treat. Similar biscuits eaten before Lent commences are known as Lenten biscuits, and are made to use up eggs and sugar in the way that the Shrove Tuesday pancake does.

As with recipes for lardy cake and other regional delicacies, there are more country-wide variations than there are days in Lent, so perhaps this is a recipe with a central ‘theme’, but for which there are unlimited variations. The theme is spice and fruit. All Easter biscuits are spiced, either through a small addition of mixed spice or ground cinnamon. The fruit is either solely currants, or can be mixed dried fruit, as used here.

Here is Lizzie the Baking Bird’s recipe,  for those of you not lucky enough to be able to buy them from her in person.  Thank you, Lizzie. Happy Easter!

Lizzie the Baking Bird’s Easter Biscuits

Makes c. 12-15 large biscuits

150g butter
125g caster sugar
Grated zest of one lemon
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon mixed spice
250g plain flour
40g mixed fruit
Egg white and caster sugar for finishing

Preheat oven to gas mark 4/180C

Beat the softened butter with the caster sugar. Add the lemon zest and beat again. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until incorporated.

Add the flour and mixed spice and beat until just incorporated and then pop the fruit in and mix again.

Lightly flour the work surface and pop the dough in the centre. Roll out to approximately 5 mm thickness.

“I do re-roll the leftovers!! So repeat the rolling and cutting.”

Cut out the biscuits (typically, they are c. 7cm square) and place on a baking tray.

Glaze the top with egg white and sprinkle a little caster sugar over.

Put in the oven for approximately 15 minutes and pull them out when they are slightly firm and just turning brown.

Allow to cool completely before transferring to an airtight tin to keep.

Recipe share: Lorraine Pascale’s blueberry and limoncello drizzle cake

British Summer Time 2017 has now arrived in Gillingham, Dorset – hurrah for longer days and lots of delicious, fresh, local produce, including berries, asparagus and new potatoes.

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Home made limoncello

I’m always on the look out for new-to-me cake recipes and so I was delighted to see this recipe by TV cook Lorraine Pascale shared in local paper the Dorset Echo; I love to cook with fruit and I am still working my way through what feels like gallons of home made limoncello as made and bottled by me before Christmas!

The ingredients for the blueberry and limoncello drizzle cake are:

For the sponge:
Spray oil
125g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
100g ‘Greek’ yogurt (I’ll be using the Dorset version from my friends at The Dorset Dairy Company)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
250g self-raising flour
4 egg whites
2tsp baking powder
½tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of two unwaxed lemons
200g blueberries

For the topping:
50g icing sugar, sifted
2tbsp limoncello (or lemon juice)

And the remainder of the recipe is available on the Dorset Echo’s site.

Let me know if you like the sound of the cake and I promise to bake it for you when you come and stay at ‘Sunflowers’!

Recipe share: A Warm Salad of Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas (vegan)

welcome-to-sunflowers-dorsetHere’s our new leaflet, which sums up in one handy piece of A5 exactly what you can expect to see and find when you stay here at ‘Sunflowers’ – what do you think?  It was designed and printed for me by graphic designer wizard Kevin of Wyke Print Solutions and I am really pleased with it!  Please feel free to right click on the image and save a copy.

In other news, we recently hosted a charming gentleman who stayed with us for one night – a Sunday – and arrived so late (and in horrible winter weather) that he wasn’t readily able to source a vegan evening meal. I settled him into the guest dining room with a glass of wine and made him this warm salad of roasted cauliflower and chickpeas. When I posted the photo on my Facebook page,  lots of people asked for the recipe, so here it is.

wp-1488373921719.jpgIngredients (makes 2/3 servings)

1 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
1 large head of cauliflower, broken into even sized florets
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus  more for serving
Coarse salt, to taste
80g tahini paste
Juice of a lemon

Chopped parsley, to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Add the cauliflower florets and a pinch of the salt to a large saucepan of boiling water and cook on a high heat for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 250C/230C fan/gas 9. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  3. Remove the cauliflower from the pan with a slotted spoon and arrange on the baking tray. Drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Roast for 25 minutes, or until parts of the cauliflower have turned golden brown.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the tahini paste, 120ml water, the lemon juice and a pinch of salt, until smooth.
  5. Remove the cauliflower from the oven, cut the florets into 2 cm thick slices and place in a large serving bowl. Gently mix together the drained chickpeas, cauliflower pieces and half the tahini sauce. Serve with the rest of the sauce and a further tablespoon of olive oil.
  6. Enjoy!

I love to make and serve warm salads – let me know in the comments if you try this one out and if you can suggest other recipes!

A Dorset breakfast recipe: layered raspberry granola pots

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Breakfast – Gillingham, Dorset style!

I recently made these cute little fruity breakfast pots and posted the picture on social media – where they very quickly became one of my most popular posts. Lots of people asked for the recipe in the comments,  so here it is for you to make and enjoy at home – or to have made for you by me when you come and stay at Sunflowers!

I love to cook and really (really) enjoy making special breakfasts,  either because people are celebrating or to accommodate different dietary preferences or food allergies. I have some guests booked in for February who eat a paleo diet, so I am currently researching delicious grain and dairy-free options for them; I’ve also recently catered for vegan, nut free and low carb guests. So do please just let me know what you need when you book – and I’m sure we’ll be able to create something delicious for you.

Just to whet your appetite – here’s a few photos on Facebook of previous breakfasts.

Recipe: raspberry granola breakfast pots – serves 4

200g fresh or frozen raspberries (or your berries of choice – I think this would work beautifully with blueberries or fresh strawberries)
8 tablespoons of granola (I like to use Dorset Cereals’ version!)
250g cream cheese
100g Greek yoghurt (from the lovely Dorset Dairy Co in my case – see my blog post from last year at their launch event)
2 tablespoons of runny honey
Mint leaves, to garnish

4 ramekins or small glass dishes

Method:

  • Divide the granola equally between the four dishes.
  • Using an electric mixer, whisk together the cream cheese, yoghurt and honey. Spoon over the granola to create a lovely creamy layer, then cover each pot with cling film and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve.
  • To serve: remove the cling film and add an even layer of fresh or defrosted berries to each pot. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.

Enjoy! And feel free to request this when you book – I’d love to make it as part of your Dorset breakfast.

Happy New Year from Gillingham, Dorset!

wp-1483517050541.jpgHappy New Year! We hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Year break.

We were fully booked from December 30th and had five wonderful guests staying with us, who took advantage of our special New Year package and enjoyed  complimentary cocktails in the hot tub (I made a big jug of Poinsettias – here’s the recipe), a very special New Year’s Day breakfast (pictured: triple cheese strata, local sausages and oven roasted tomatoes) and a late check out.

Both sets of guests had dinner on New Year’s Eve at our local restaurant South Street Kitchen and came home raving about their delicious food and cocktails!

Sharon was kind enough to leave us this feedback:

We spent two nights at this lovely B&B for New Year’s and it was the best experience we’ve had. Cleo and Steve were so welcoming and the rooms made us feel right at home! The beds were very comfy and the rooms had everything you need for a pleasant stay. The breakfast was delicious, as Cleo had invested the thought and time to bring in local produce for us to try and on New Year’s Day she even made us a very yummy cooked breakfast. We were very happy to discover the beautiful, quaint town of Lyme Regis and have a nice dinner at South Street Kitchen in Gillingham, which is 10 minutes walking distance away from the B&B – which was all recommended by Cleo, for which we are very grateful.

Peggy the dog is the cutest ever and we were so pleased with how well she got on with our daughter who is two. Not only that, but Cleo even thought about providing some books, DVDs and toys for Amelie (our daughter) to enjoy. The hot tub was definitely one of the highlights of our trip – we can not fault this place in any way and will definitely be returning when Amelie is older and then she can sign the guest book too. Thank you so much again for everything, Cleo, Steve and Peggy :).

wp-1483525435233.jpgAnd the second photo for today is the guest book review in both French and Italian from Florien and Claudia!

My goal for 2017 is to continue to host lots of lovely guests from all around the world and we are off to a flying start so far; our first visitor of the new year drove here (with his dog!) from Holland and we already have guests from Portugal and Belgium booked in. So, whoever and wherever you are as you read this – here’s to a wonderful 2017 and we look forward to hearing from you when you’re ready to make your booking!