Mango Vinegar Marinated Chicken and Mango Salsa

chicken and mango salsa

Since making the mango and turkey stir fry I’ve become very into mango in savoury dishes.   It goes fantastically well in a salad or salsa and is great with white meat. What I have also become addicted to in the past week is Maille Mango Vinegar, a blend of vinegar and mango puree.   It is sharp from the vinegar but sweet from the mango and is a lovely irresistable orange colour.   I love marinating chicken or turkey in it with a little olive oil before cooking on the griddle, which is exactly what I did with this recipe.

Making a homemade salsa is another sign that the seasons are changing.   It might be cold and wet at the moment but once we can get the barbecue out in the garden again, this salsa is going to be a staple.   Lovely sweet red tomatoes, cucumber and mango with a generous helping of fresh coriander, and of course more of that mango vinegar.   It made me feel that summer was on the way.   Or maybe that’s being too optimistic.

This recipe is my contribution to the Maille Culinary Challenge.   I was recently asked to chose a couple of Maille products to create recipes with and the Maille Mango Vinegar was my first choice.  Maille is well-known for producing gourmet mustards and I do love mustard in cooking but I chose the mango vinegar as I wanted to try something that at least for me was a bit new and different.   So far I’m delighted with my new discovery.

Marinade Ingredients

3 tbsp Maille Mango Vinegar

1.5 tbsp olive oil

Pinch of salt

Pinch of black pepper

2 chicken breasts

Mango Salsa Ingredients

1/2 Mango

2 tomatoes

10cm piece of cucumber

1 red chilli pepper, most of the seeds removed

2 tbsp chopped coriander

2 tbsp Maille Mango Vinegar

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Pinch of salt

Pinch of black pepper

How to Make Mango Vinegar Marinated Chicken and Mango Salsa

1. Mix up all the ingredients for the marinade.   Butterfly the chicken breasts by putting your hand on top of the breast and then carefully cutting through sideways but stopping just before you slice the breast in half.  Put the breast in the marinade.   Coat and leave to sit for at least 30 minutes.

2. Chop up all the salsa ingredients.  Put in a bowl and add the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.  Mix together and leave to sit until the rest of the meal is ready.

3. Brush a griddle pan with oil and place the chicken breasts on the griddle.   Cook on a high heat for about 4 minutes on each side, depending on how thick the meat is.

4. Serve the chicken with the salsa.   Drizzle a bit of extra mango vinegar over the top.  I also served it with some basmati rice with fresh coriander and lemon juice stirred through.




Crispy Polenta-Crusted Chicken

polenta crusted chicken (500x349)

This week l did something I have never done before and something I didn’t expect I would ever do, I bought a bag of dried polenta.   That may not sound very exciting, and it’s probably something I would never have done if I hadn’t come across the idea of using polenta in place of breadcrumbs.   You see, I don’t really like polenta.   I know some people may be reading and thinking that maybe I just haven’t had it cooked well.   That may be the case, but I have tried it in restaurants where I loved everything but the polenta.   I don’t hate it, I just don’t really enjoy it.   Give me good mashed potato any day.

I also have to admit to not coating things in breadcrumbs very often as I find the whole flour, egg, then breadcrumbs process quite messy and so I just tend to avoid it.   With this recipe, you don’t need any egg, you don’t need any flour and I found far less polenta sticking to my fingers than I do when I use breadcrumbs.   In fact, it was quite a revelation to me.   I would be very surprised now if I didn’t buy polenta again.   I used a spice mix that contained salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, coriander and nutmeg, but you could use any combination of spices that you like, or even none at all.   I also think the polenta coating would be great for homemade fish fingers, which is now one of the next plans on my  list.

Ingredients – Serves 2

2 chicken breasts

100ml buttermilk

100g polenta

1/2 tsp seasoning (I used one I often use for potato wedges)

How to Make Crispy Polenta-Crusted Chicken

1. Slice the breasts lengthways so each breast is in 3 pieces.  Put them in a bowl with the buttermilk and leave in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes or a little more.

2. Put the polenta in a bowl and mix in the seasoning.

3. Roll the strips of chicken in the polenta to thoroughly coat with the crumb mixture.

4. Place the chicken strips on a baking tray.   Drizzle with olive oil.

5. Bake in the oven at 200C for 25 minutes.

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Turkey and Mango Stir fry and #TalkingTurkey with Phil Vickery


turkey mango stir fry 2 (700x393)

I couldn’t remember ever having cooked and blogged about a turkey recipe.   I cooked a whole turkey at Christmas, but I didn’t write about it and I don’t remember the last time I did anything else.  I even did a search of my own blog just to check there was nothing I had forgotten.  I was right.   No turkey recipes.   So this mango and turkey stir fry is very much a first for me.

But why the sudden interest in turkey?   Well, a week and a half ago I attended an event organised by British Turkey at Westminster Kingsway College.   We were treated to a cookery demonstration by Phil Vickery, the This Morning chef, as well as learning many interesting facts from the turkey farmer, Paul Kelly.   I have to admit that I felt a little embarrassed when questioned about the fact that I rarely cook with turkey and didn’t really have a good response when asked why, was it because it just wasn’t on my radar? Probably.  But why not? Apart from buying a whole bird at Christmas, turkey is usually fairly cheap and is also one of the healthiest meats around, low in fat and high in protein and B vitamins.   There is no reason not to buy it, especially as it can be used in most of the dishes that are typically cooked with chicken.   Like many people, I have a habit of buying chicken without even considering the alternatives.

One criticism often made of turkey is that it can be quite dry.   During the cookery demonstration Phil Vickery taught us the technique known as velveting, which is commonly used in Chinese cooking.  It involves marinating the strips of turkey in a mixture of starch and egg white for up to a day before cooking with it.   This forms a coating around the turkey so that when it is cooked, the juices stay in the meat and it stays lovely and moist.   I love Chinese cooking and had heard of the technique before but never used it.   After seeing how easy it is and trying it for myself though, it is definitely something I will be doing again in the future.   Both at the demonstration and at home, the turkey stayed delicious and moist.

Phil Vickery showed us 4 different flavour combinations to go with the turkey.   Each one was very quick to do.   The first one was fruit (pineapple and mango), which I have tried at home and  included my slightly adapted recipe below.   The original can be found here. The next one was spices, the third one was with prawns and the last was a sweet and sour dish.

They were all good but my favourite was the one with fruit, which is why it has been the first one that I have recreated at home.   I served it with rice noodles to make a more substantial meal.  I was actually surprised that it  was my favourite as I don’t normally pair fruit and meat together, but I think the lime juice and the mint balanced it out so it wasn’t too fruity or sweet.   I also omitted the teaspoon of sugar that Phil Vickery put in his version.

After the cookery demonstration we had a beautiful 3 course meal in the college’s fine dining Escoffier restaurant, which included more turkey.  As well as having delicious food, I felt I learnt something new and also met some lovely people.  For me, turkey won’t now just be for Christmas  and I’m looking forward to being a bit more experimental with it over the next few weeks.   Turkey thigh mince apparently makes delicious burgers and in many dishes is a great and healthier alternative to beef mince, which I use all the time.

phil vickey cooking (700x393)


Ingredients  for Turkey and Mango Stir Fry- Serves 2

For the velveting

250g turkey, cut into thin strips

1 egg white

2 tsp cornflour

1 generous tsp sesame oil

1/4 tsp salt

For the rest of the dish

1/2 mango, sliced into strips

2 slices of fresh pineapple, core removed and chopped

2 tbsp chopped mint leaves

Black pepper

Juice of 2 limes

Rice noodles – enough for 2 people

How to Make Turkey and Mango Stir Fry

1. First prepare the marinade for velveting. Add all the ingredients except the turkey to a bowl and beat with a fork until the egg white is broken up and everything is combined. Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Cover the rice noodles with boiling water.   They will probably take about 3 minutes.

3. Heat a little oil in a wok and add the turkey.   Cook, stirring until the turkey is cooked through.   Pour a little of the lime juice over as the turkey is cooking.

4. Add the pineapple and mango and stir until it is heated through.  Stir in the mint leaves and the extra lime juice at the end.

5. Drain the noodles and serve the stir fry over the noodles.   If the noodles are ready first then stir a little sesame oil through them to stop them from sticking.

I am linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum and Made with Love Mondays at Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/ Luv.


Salmon Marinated in Ketchup and Indian Spices

ketchup salmon (700x539)

I’m always looking for new ways of serving fish.   I love the fact that because there are so many types of fish, it never becomes boring.   There’s always something new to discover, either a new fish or a new way of cooking it. Well, this dish just uses salmon, which is not unusual, but what is different for me is mixing spices in with ketchup to form a marinade.  I came across the idea on Goan Imports and knew straightaway that using ketchup as a base for the marinade was something I wanted to try.

I’ll admit that normally I’m not a big fan of ketchup.   I like it with chips and I use it when making barbecue sauce, but apart from that, I don’t really consider using it.   I tend to think of it as a kid’s thing.   My daughter loves ketchup though, and maybe that was why the recipe I saw caught my eye.

Now, even if you’re not a big fan of ketchup either, the balsamic vinegar and Indian spices completely change the dish from just salmon and ketchup.   In fact, even if you don’t like ketchup, you might like this, and if you are still determined not to get the ketchup out, I’m sure you could swap it for tomato puree.

Or maybe you couldn’t care either way whether this uses ketchup.   Maybe you’re just looking for a quick and tasty way of cooking salmon and getting dinner on the table so you can relax after a long hard day.   Well, this is perfect for that too.   It takes just moments to mix together the marinade and although you then have to wait for the oven to heat up and the fish to cook, it’s still a relatively quick and definitely easy dish to cook.

Ingredients – serves 2

2 pieces of salmon

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Black pepper

How to Make Salmon Marinated in Ketchup and Indian Spices

1. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade and taste it.   Spread it on both sides of the fish and leave for at least 30 minutes.

2. Wrap the salmon in a tin foil parcel and bake in the oven at 180C for about 15 minutes.

I am linking this to Four Seasons Food, which has the theme Something Fishy for March. Four Seasons Food is hosted by Delicieux and Eat Your Veg. I am also linking to Sweet and Savoury Sundays.

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Basil, Mozzarella and Sundried Tomato Ravioli with Sunflower Seed Pesto

basil & sundried tomato ravioli with sunflower seed pesto (500x384)You can sometimes get lovely ravioli in restaurants, but if I’m ever tempted and buy them in the supermarket I’m always disappointed.   The fillings just taste the same, whatever they are supposed to be.   I’ve attempted making ravioli in the past, but without a pasta machine, even if the flavours were good, I found it hard to get the pasta dough thin enough.

Now that I have my pasta machine, and the fact that my daughter loves to play with some of the dough as I make the rest of it into proper pasta we can eat, ravioli is definitely something I’ll be making more of.    I kept the filling really simple for these – just a small piece of mozzarella, a piece of sundried tomato and fresh basil in each one.   I knew the flavours would go together and the sundried tomato is a strong enough taste to come through the sauce afterwards.

The pesto is really simple to make too – just whizz everything up in the food processor.  I used sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts this time, but I find any nuts or seeds are delicious.   If I was serving the pesto with an unfilled pasta I would have drained the pasta and then returned it to the pan (with a little of the water) and stirred in the pesto to warm it through.   As my ravioli were quite thin and homemade, I was worried that doing that might make some of them split so I just drizzled it over the top.   It was definitely a success and I’m now looking forward to my next pasta-making experiment too!

Ingredients for Pasta -this recipe uses about 1/3 of the finished pasta

300g tipo ’00′ flour

3 eggs

1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for Pasta Filling

1 ball mozzarella

3 sundried tomatoes – use more if you want a stronger taste

About 5 basil leaves

Ingredients for the Pesto

28g bunch of basil (minus the leaves used for the pasta filling)

2 tbsp sunflower seeds

1 small garlic clove (or half a larger one)



Extra virgin olive oil

About 2 tbsp Grana Padana or Parmesan, grated

How to Make the Pasta

This post on homemade tagliatelle explains the first steps of how to make the pasta.

Once the pasta has been rolled as thinly as you want it (I stopped at setting 7 on the pasta machine), use a biscuit cutter to cut out rounds about 5cm in diameter.  Put them on a floured board to stop them sticking together.

Take about half the pasta rounds and top with the filling. Brush with water around the outside and then pinch together with another piece of dough to keep the filling inside.   Avoid leaving air inside and be careful that there are no gaps where the filling can escape. Put on another floured board until ready to cook.

How to Make the Sunflower Seed Pesto

1. Put the sunflower seeds in a dry frying pan and toast gently until going a slightly golden colour.   They can burn very quickly though so keep shaking the pan and take them out as soon as they look toasted.  Leave to cool.

2. Put all the ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor and blitz until fairly smooth.   Taste and adjust any of the seasonings if necessary.   If it’s too thick add a little extra oil until you get the consistency you want.

Finishing off the Dish

1. Boil some water in a large saucepan and when it comes to the boil, drop in the ravioli.   They will cook in about 3 minutes.  Lift them out with a slotted spoon when ready and divide between 2 plates.

2. Drizzle the pesto over the top of the ravioli.   Top with extra cheese if you want.

I am linking this to Tinned Tomatoes’  Pasta Please event, hosted this month by Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.  The theme this month is tomatoes.  I am also linking to Lets Cook with Seeds, hosted by Simply Sensational Food.  Finally I am linking to Made with Love Mondays at Javelin Warrior’s Cooking with Luv.

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Beef Noodle Soup

Beef Noodle Soup


This year I’ve been trying to cook more larger pieces of meat and save the leftovers for more meals.   Of course, sometimes this means we are just tempted to eat more on the first night, but it also means that I am being a little more economical and more creative with leftovers.

We had slowcooked beef brisket a couple of nights ago and after having some of the leftovers for lunch, there wasn’t much left.   I needed a meal that would make a little bit of beef go a long way, and that is exactly what a soup can do.   I sliced the beef very thinly against the grain along with about 4 times the quantity of vegetables and the finished soup didn’t make us feel like we were being short-changed at all.  I made this just for 2 people but it is easy to increase the quantities and it is the perfect dish to make when you don’t have very much meat but want to feed a crowd.

The vegetables can be varied.   I was also trying to use up what was left in the fridge, which is why there was just a very small amount of red onion in the soup. Don’t feel you have to add onion – I would have added a couple of spring onions if I’d had them.  I also had half a yellow pepper and half a red pepper leftover from another meal, which is why they went in, but use whatever coloured peppers you like.   Because the soup is not cooked for very long, the chillis will not lose much of their heat so you may need to remove some of the seeds.   I like hot food so I usually leave them in, but this will be extremely hot if you leave all of them in.   It’s up to you.

Ingredients – Serves 2

100g leftover beef brisket, thinly sliced

2 nests of dry noodles

1 carrot, sliced thinly with a potato peeler

5 mushrooms, sliced

1 pepper – or halves of 2 different coloured peppers, cut into strips

1/4 red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, cut into batons

1 chilli pepper – some of the seeds removed, sliced

Juice of 1/2 lime

400ml beef stock

How to Make Beef Noodle Soup

1. Prepare all the vegetables.

2. Pour boiling water onto the noodles and cook according to the packet instructions.

3. At the same time bring the stock to the boil and add all the rest of the ingredients, apart from a few slices of chilli to garnish with.   Cook for about 2 minutes.  Stir in the lime juice at the end.

4. Drain and divide the cooked noodles between two bowls.   Top with the stock and vegetable/beef mixture.

This is a very quick meal to make so I’m linking to Speedy Suppers, hosted by Dinner with Crayons and Feeding Boys and also Family Foodies, hosted by Eat your Veg and Bangers & Mash, which is for meals under 30 minutes this month.  As this soup is a great way to use up leftovers I am linking it to the No Waste Food Challenge, run by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary hosted this month by Cooking around the World.  I am also linking to Extra Veg, hosted by Utterly Scrummy Food for Families and Fuss Free Flavours as this is packed full of vegetables.

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Black Bean Burgers

Black bean veggie burgers 1 (500x341)

I wish black beans were easier to get here.   I was going to use tinned beans for these burgers but the supermarket didn’t have any.   That almost meant a change of plan but luckily I found the ends of a packet of dried black beans in a cupboard at home.   Now, that’s probably a good thing and because I knew the day before that I was going to make these burgers, it was easy to just put the beans to soak.   Normally meals with beans tend to be things I make when I haven’t done any planning and so having a bag of dried beans in the cupboard is no help at all.   Not to mention the fact that I then forget I have them!

So why did I need to make these black bean burgers?   Well, this month my Secret Recipe Club assignment was It Bakes Me Happy and although it sounds like it’s just a baking blog, Emily has loads of lovely savoury recipes too.   I am of course always on the lookout for recipes that my little girl might like to eat and this is a very family friendly recipe.  It’s packed with healthy beans and vegetables and because it’s a burger and I fried it (in only a little oil of course) it gets lovely crispy bits on the outside.   And who doesn’t love crispy bits?  My husband, who generally prefers meat in a burger, was actually disappointed I hadn’t made him an extra one.

The main change I made to the recipe was to add an egg as I found the mixture wouldn’t bind together without it and the burgers just kept crumbling apart.   I also added more herbs, but that could be because I was using more beans.   I wasn’t sure as the size of the tin wasn’t given in the original recipe. I served the burgers in homemade breadrolls with homemade potato wedges and a little salad too.   To see the original recipe then go to It Bakes Me Happy.

Ingredients – Makes 4

200g dried black beans

1 courgette, grated

1 carrot, grated

1/2 an onion, finely sliced

1 egg, beaten a little

1/2 tsp basil

1/2 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp garlic powder

Black Pepper


How to Make Black Bean Veggie Burgers

1. The night before, cover the beans in plenty of water and leave to soak.   Drain and cover in clean water in the morning until you’re ready to start cooking the beans.

2. Put the beans in a saucepan and cover with clean water again.  Bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes and then lower the heat a little and continue to cook for another hour.  The beans should be a little soft and squash between your fingers when you test them.  If they are too hard, cook them for a bit longer.

3. Grate the carrot, courgette and onion finely.   Put in a large bowl and add the seasonings.

4. When the beans are cooked, drain them and either mash with a fork or blend them in a food processor.   Add them to the grated vegetables.

5. Mix all the ingredients with your hands and form them into burgers.   Put them on a plate and put it in the fridge to rest before cooking them.

6. Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the burgers on each side for about 4 minutes until they crisp up.

Click on the link below to see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made:

I’m also linking to Tasty Tuesdays.



Traditional Fruit Scones

Fruit scone (500x281)

When I was a child my mum used to make fruit scones and I always though they were a bit boring.   Of course, that was because I preferred cake.   I didn’t dislike them, but if I had a choice, I would have chosen something else.  And if I was going to have a scone, I preferred a cheese one.

Some things do change though.   I decided to have a go at these and chose to follow a recipe just slightly adapted from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible.  I knew I could trust Mary Berry and if anyone’s scones would be worth eating it would be hers.   I was right.   The scones were lovely – just right for an afternoon snack.   In fact,  I’m even thinking of making them again, and making double the quantity so I can freeze some.  After all, they are one of the easiest recipes you can make.

It’s best to eat them soon after they come out of the oven, so the butter melts in.   If they go cold, just pop them in the microwave for a few seconds and they’ll taste freshly baked again.  You can eat them cold, but they’re just so much nicer warm.

I am linking them to Blogging around the World at Cooking around the World.  The country this month is Great Britain. I am also linking to Made with Love Mondays, hosted by Javelin Warrior and Bake of the Week at Casa Costello.

Ingredients – Makes about 12

225g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

50g room-temperature butter, cubed

25g caster sugar

50g sultanas or raisins

1 egg

Approx 70ml milk

How to Make Fruit Scones

1. Put the flour and baking powder in a large bowl.  Add the butter and rub it in with your fingers until it is like breadcrumbs.

2. Mix in the sugar and raisins.

3. Break the egg into a measuring jug and beat it lightly then add enough milk to make up 150ml.

4. Pour the milk and egg into the bowl with the flour and mix with a metal spoon or knife until it forms a soft dough.

5. Sprinkle some flour onto the work surface and knead the dough gently for a minute until it is smooth.

6. Roll the dough out to about 1.5cm thick.   Then use a round biscuit cutter to cut out the scones.   Put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.   Bake in the oven at 200C for about 10 minutes.

7. Cool the scones on a wire rack and serve with butter and jam.

fruit scones on tray (500x326)

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Slow Cooked Pork in Tonkatsu Sauce (Japanese Barbecue Sauce)

pulled pork tonkatsu on pancake (500x342)

I may have mentioned this before, so I’m sorry that I’m saying it again, but pork can be a very very boring meat. Of course, if you like eating the crackling from a joint of roast pork, then I can see that that makes it more interesting, but not being a fan of crackling myself, I’ve never really enjoyed eating pork as a roast dinner.   However, slow cooked with herbs, spices and various condiments, pork suddenly becomes a much more interesting dinner prospect.   My favourite way to eat it is slowcooked in homemade barbecue sauce.   The sauce has to be homemade as I find bought barbecue sauces far too sweet and in fact for years I thought I didn’t like barbecue sauce because of that.

When Janice at Farmersgirl kitchen announced that the theme for this month’s Slow Cooker Challenge would be barbecue I was actually a little disappointed.  I already have a favourite slow cooker barbecue pork recipe (which I also often make with chicken) and I have already shared it here.   I would just have to experiment with something else.   I don’t know much about Japanese food but I did know that they have a type of barbecue sauce.   I read quite a few recipes and got ideas from here and there when coming up with the recipe.   I know that the pomegranate molasses is probably not found in many Japanese tonkatsu sauces, but it does add a sweet-sourness that goes well in this particular sauce.

In Japan, tonkatsu sauce would normally be served as a side dish for dipping breaded pork into rather than for cooking a whole joint of pork like this so this whole meal is definitely not a traditional Japanese dish.   I actually made this around pancake day and so served the pork wrapped in pancakes.   Of course, wrapped in any type of bread would also be lovely or even with rice.  I actually put the leftovers in some quesadillas the next day.

I am also linking to The Spice Trail, which features ginger this month.  It is hosted by Bangers & Mash.

Ingredients – Serves 4-8

4 tbsp ketchup

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine

2 tbsp worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp pomegranite molasses

1 tsp mustard

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 small knob of ginger, finely chopped or grated

1 kg piece of pork

2 tsp cornflour

How to Make Slow Cooked Pork in Tonkatsu Sauce

1. Remove as much of the outside fat as you can from the pork.   There will still be plenty of fat in the pork and it will stay very moist as it cooks.

2. Mix together all the other ingredients.   Taste the sauce and adjust any of the ingredients to your taste.

3. Pour the sauce over the pork and put it in the fridge to marinate for a couple of hours or even overnight.

4. Pour a little water over the pork so that it is almost submerged and then cook on low for 8-9 hours.

5. Take the pork out of the slow cooker.   Put the pan on the hob and simmer the sauce to reduce.  To thicken the sauce after it has reduced, add a couple of teaspoons of cornflour dissolved in cold water and stir.  While the sauce is reducing, shred the  pork using 2 forks.   Pour the warm sauce over the pork to serve.

pulled pork in rolled pancake (500x292)

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Penguin Cake

My daughter has an obsession with cats and penguins.   They are her two favourite animals and if she lost her cat and penguin soft toys it would be a disaster.   Before Christmas I bought some round hemisphere cake tins with the idea of possibly making a turtle cake (one of her favourite animals at that time).   Well I still haven’t made a turtle cake, although that might change soon, but I did recently decide I could make a penguin cake and so I bought the icing to be prepared.   I told her we would make a penguin cake one day and she didn’t forget.   The next afternoon I asked her what she wanted to do and she replied, ‘Make a penguin’.   The day had come a little sooner than I expected.

We mixed up the cake batter and baked the cakes.   Unfortunately, there was no time to finish decorating them.   We had to wait until the next day.   I told here we were going to make the penguin and she went and got her little rolling pin and biscuit cutters.   While she played with some of the icing, I got on and decorated the cake.

She might not be quite 2 yet, but she was quite impressed, at least I like to think so.  She might not have liked the banana and chocolate chip bars, but she did like this cake, minus the icing.   All that work and I’m not keen on icing either so we both pull most of it off and throw it away!  The fun is in the decorating anyway.

The good thing about this recipe is that it makes quite a dense cake that is ideal for decorating and you could just use the same mixture to make a round or square cake and then cut shapes out of it.  Although it’s quite dense it is also very moist and bakes evenly from the sides right to the middle, there were no dry bits around the edge as you can get with some recipes.  It is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Buttermilk Birthday Cake and you can find the original recipe here.

I am linking this to Tea Time Treats, hosted by The Hedgecombers and Lavender and Lovage.  The theme this month is decorative cakes.   As this is my first attempt at using hemisphere pans, ready to roll icing and making a penguin cake I am linking to Mimi’s Mummy’s Blog which is hosting Our Growing Edge started by Bunny Eats Design, which is an event that encourages you to try new things. I am also linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

penguin cake (421x500)


250g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking  powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

100ml low fat yoghurt

100ml semi-skimmed milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs

200g caster sugar

125g butter

To decorate

3 tbsp Jam

White, black and yellow ready to roll icing

Icing sugar – to dust the rolling pin and table when rolling out the icing

How to Make a Penguin Cake

1. Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl.  Also mix the flour and milk together in a small measuring jug.

2. Soften the butter a little in the microwave or leave it out of the fridge to bring to room temperature.   Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together.

3. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat between each one.   Add a third of the flour mixture and a third of the yoghurt/milk mixture in three batches, beating after each addition.

4. Butter the inside of 2 hemisphere cake tins. I used a 14cm one and a 21cm one.   Fill each one about 2/3 full with the cake batter and put on a baking tray.   Rest each one on top of a round metal biscuit cutter so they stay still.

5. Bake the cakes in the oven at 160C.   I found the smaller one needed 25 minutes and the larger one 45 minutes.   Keep testing with a metal skewer in the middle of the cake until it comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in the cake tins for a while and then turn them out onto a metal rack to finish cooling.

6. When you are ready to start decorating, slice off the bottom of the cake  that will have risen up during baking. Heat the jam in the microwave and brush it onto the cakes where you are going to put the icing.   Cover each one completely in white icing first and then roll out the black icing and cut out the shapes you need for the rest of the head, the sides, the eyes and the wings. Finally make the beak and feet with the yellow icing.

Notes for making this cake in a standard round tin

The mixture for this cake can also be made in a 23cm round tin. Follow steps 1-3 above. Line the tin with baking paper.   Heat the oven to 180C and bake for approximately 30 minutes.   Decorate any way you like.

Tea Time Treats