FRUIT OF THE MONTH-DAMSONS…

Damsons make delicious jam, gin and mixed with apple for a tasty crumble. Or, how about this role-poly doughnut pudding with custard from Delicious Magazine.

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Damsons offer great health benefits as they have a good sauce of Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, E, K and high in Vitamin C which can all help support a healthy immune system.

They are a blue-black fruit that look like small plums. The wild varieties are extremely tart so not something you would pick and wasps love them.

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11 TIPS ON USING EGGS IN YOUR BAKING…

1. If you add a beaten egg slowly to your batter mix it prevents the batter from becoming too stiff.

2. Always use eggs at room temperature when baking with them.

3. Eggs will whip more easily if left for 10 minutes in cold water before breaking.

4. Place the egg in a bowl of water, if it sinks and lies on its side, it’s fresh. If it sinks and stands large-end up, it’s on the turn so use within a couple of days. If it floats, bin it, as it’s gone off.

5. If you weigh four whole eggs in their shells, then whatever the weight is, that’s how much each of flour, sugar and butter you should add. This will ensure an delicious cake every time.

6. If you’re making soft meringue for a pie topping, say, for our Classic Lemon Meringue Pie, add a teaspoon of cornflour to your sugar. It’ll aid in absorbing any extra water the sugar will attract.

7. To make sure the essence you use adds flavour to the whole cake, mix it into the egg before adding the egg to the mixture.

8. Eggs will stay fresher longer if you store them pointed end down.

9. If you forgot to get your eggs out for baking then just pop them into a bowl and cover with hot water. Take them out after a couple of minutes and use for baking as normal.

10. To separate eggs for baking, tap the shell against the side of a mixing bowl to crack, then break open, letting the white run out into the bowl and holding the yolk in one half of shell. Tip the yolk backwards and forwards from shell to shell to let all the white run into the bowl.

11. When you’re making sponge cakes, beat the eggs together in a jug and add to the butter and sugar mixture gradually, whisking well between additions. If the mixture looks like it’s going to curdle, add a spoonful of the weighed flour and beat again until smooth.

TEN HEALTHY BAKING TIPS…

Simple changes to make your baking a little bit more healthy.

1.Avocado – Use this healthy fat to make a frosting, pudding, or replace butter in recipes for cakes, brownies, bread, and other baked goods.

2. Apple Sauce – Use this instead of oil adding unsweetened applesauce into those moist baked treats.

3. Fitness Magazine suggest paying a little extra for high-quality products, like premium chocolate and pure vanilla extract, can pay off. “More-flavorful ingredients make you less likely to miss any calories you’ve cut,” says Kim Macy, the pastry chef at Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona

4. Beets add sweetness and moisture without taking away from the flavor,” says pastry chef Marisa Churchill, the author of Sweet & Skinny. Add two-thirds of a cup of finely grated raw beets to brownie batter and you can reduce the sugar by a quarter cup.

5. Another one from Fitness Magazine is for a lighter spin on cream cheese frosting, which is typically made with full-fat cream cheese and butter, beat together with an eight-ounce block of reduced-fat cream cheese, one cup of powdered sugar, and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. The fluffy icing contains a mere 59 calories and three grams of fat per tablespoon.

6. Eat This also says when you’re baking try substituting the recommended oil or fat in the recipe with Greek yogurt. You won’t lose any flavor and still have plenty of moisture in the consistency.

7. The British Heart Foundation says using an unsaturated spread instead of butter has more benefits than simply reducing the amount of saturated fat: it actually gives a lighter texture, especially if you’re making an all-in-one sponge cake.

8. They also point out that try using a drizzle of glacé (water) icing rather than butter icing for cake toppings. Or, a light sprinkle of icing sugar may be all you need to give your bake the final touch.

9. Eat Right suggest you try a Whole-Grain Flour. White whole-wheat flour can be substituted one-for-one for all-purpose flour in most recipes. You also can replace up to half the all-purpose flour in a recipe with a whole-grain flour without making any major adjustments to the recipe.

10.  Sainsbury’s tip is if you significantly reduce the sugar in a cake, try adding naturally sweet spices such as cinnamon, mixed spice, and vanilla, says Inman, or drizzle a small amount of honey or maple syrup over the top when serving. ‘It fools you into believing it is sweeter than it is,’ explains Bourke.

7 QUICK TIPS ON BAKING CAKES…

  1. When baking shortbread cookies, substitute half of your plain flour with cornflour. It gives them a really nice taste.
  2. Before icing a cake, sprinkle the top with some flour, this will stop the icing from running down over the edges of the cake.
  3. To make sure the essence you use adds flavour to the whole cake, mix it into the egg before adding the egg to the mixture.
  4. Don’t crowd the oven with Baking tins. The pans should never touch each other or the sides of the oven or be placed over or under each other on the racks.
  5. Grease pans using a piece of paper towel, rub a small amount of shortening, butter or margarine evenly over the bottom and on sides of pans if directed. A small amount of pan spray may be used and spread over the pan, also using the paper towel technique.
  6. Prevent sharp edges on muffins, bar cookies by greasing the muffin cups or pans only on the bottom and halfway up the sides so the batter is higher than the grease line. This is one time you might not want to use a pan spray.
  7. To test for doneness in cakes, quick breads and bar cookies, use a toothpick inserted in the center. The toothpick should come out clean and dry or have only a few crumbs clinging to it.

For more great tips on baking check out my book on Amazon.

A Little Book On Tea, Cake and Chocolate: TEA pairings, TEA and chocolate, TEA and its health benefits plus over 100 tips on BAKING cakes.

5 LAST MINUTE FOODIE GIFTS FOR FATHER’S DAY…

Personalised Chocolates For Foodie Dads

If you’re stuck for something to buy for Father’s Day then here are a few last minute popular foodie gifts you can buy that special Dad. The personalised foodie chocolate above is from Not On The High Street and is £9.95 by Chocolate By Cocoapod Chocolate.

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For the cheese lover this Award-winning cheesemonger Andy Swinscoe of The Courtyard Dairy has created a gift box with Father’s Day in mind.The Strong & Mature Cheese selection includes outstanding old winchester, a 20-month-old powerful cheddar/gouda cross; spicy bleu des causses; tunworth, Britain’s rival to the best French camembert; and intense saint oswald. £26.50,

Morrisons

For the cookie lover, just pop down to Morrisons and personalise a giant cookie with your loving message at Morrisons stores nationwide. Choose from chocolate chip, white chocolate or double chocolate. £5

Finally how about an Olive Magazine subscription. Get him a monthly dose of the best recipes, restaurant trends and travel inspiration delivered through the letterbox, so your favourite food lovers can always stay ahead of the game. The food gift that keeps on giving, for just £32.99 for 13 issues

A guide to whiskies tea towel, Father's Day

For any whisky lover then how about this unique guide to whiskies tea towel.

From bourbons to ryes and malts, this tea towel covered with whisky trivia is perfect for those scotch loving dads. It’s almost too useful to use, so hang it on your wall and learn about the differences between Japanese and Canadian whisky before mixing a Manhattan. £10