These Strawberry Lemonade Cakes Taste Like Sunshine and Holidays

Gluten free options

I’m not even going to try and pretend that I’m not crazy in love with these cupcakes! I had my character, Olivia Kent, bake these in The Cake Maker’s Wish because I found recipes online and thought they would be amazing. But… when I went to make them, I found them seriously lacking in flavour. It was so disappointing. I love the intensity of lemon meringue pie and lemon curd so I wasn’t going to have a bar of that! I changed the recipes to jack up the flavours, big time. Now, they burst with lemon and the seductive aroma and flavour of strawberries. Every mouthful inspires hope and happiness, perfect as a winter warmer to chase away the blues.

 

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I’m not going to lie, though: these are not quick to make. But, oh, they are worth it, especially for a special occasion.

Ingredients

Cake Part 1

  • 125g butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • zest of three lemons
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cake Part 2

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose plain flour (or gluten free plain flour)
  • 3 Tb arrowroot or cornflour (check that it’s gluten free cornflour if you want them GF)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (check specs for GF)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Strawberry Buttercream

  • 250g butter
  • 500g pure icing sugar (check specs for GF)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh strawberries (hulled)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

(Note: These quantities will make more than enough buttercream for your cupcakes. You can reduce these quantities if you wish, keeping the ration of 2:1 for icing sugar to butter, or freeze the excess and use later for biscuits or a loaf cake of some sort. I always figure that if I’m making something I might as well make a lot of it to freeze some for later.)

Method

Cake preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan forced) and line your cupcake trays with paper. (This batch will make approximately 16 cupcakes.)
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat your butter and lemon zest, then add in the sugar and beat again until well mixed and fluffy. Add the egg whites and vanilla and beat to combine.
  3. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients of ‘Cake Part 2’ together, then add half of it to the butter mixture, mix to combine, then add half the sour cream, mix to combine, then repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and sour cream. Finally, add the lemon juice and beat again to form a batter.
  4. Fill your cupcake papers to 2/3 full and put them into the oven. The cakes will take 20-25 minutes, give or take. (I have a slow oven and mine took 30 mins.)

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Strawberry preparation

  1. Place your strawberries into a blender and blitz until consistent.
  2. Transfer the strawberries into a small pot and heat on the stove until they are gently boiling, stirring often. Continue to cook them until they have reduced down to approximate the colour and consistency of tomato sauce.
  3. Cool the sauce before adding it to the buttercream, otherwise it will melt the butter. (Putting it in the fridge is helpful.)

 

Buttercream preparation

  1. Make sure your icing sugar is as free of lumps as possible. You may need to dry beat it first. (Bashing it on the kitchen bench also helps!)
  2. Beat your butter, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Add approximately three tablespoons of the strawberry sauce and beat until combined.
  3. You may like to use a piping bag to pipe the cream or simply spoon it on! If you wish, you might like to decorate your cupcakes with extra strawberries or edible flowers for an added touch of beauty.

 

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Enjoy! These really are divine 🙂

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Josephine Moon’s Rustic Apple Crumble Recipe (with Gluten Free Option)

I don’t know about you but I’m a total sucker for anything with baked apples in it. This recipe is a winner because it can be made gluten free and with a few tweaks it can even slide into the realm of being healthy. (Yep, I’ve eaten it for breakfast.)

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What I love about this recipe is that it is so flexible. In fact because I wanted to share this recipe so much, I had to force myself to write it down as I went because I usually make it up on the spot.

One of the opening scenes in The Cake Maker’s Wish involves an illicit apple crumble (you’ll have to read it to find out why that one is illicit!) and was inspired by my own trip to the Cotswolds in 2015.

This is a generous dish because you really do have the flexibility to make it all your own and I’ll leave you some notes on some suggested variations. Ready to get baking? Here we go.

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Josephine Moon’s Rustic Apple Crumble (gluten free optional)

Ingredients

  • 6-8 apples (a mixture of varieties is perfectly fine, and leaving the skin on adds nutritional value and the ‘rustic’ vibe… also, it saves time!)
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 100g butter
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (make sure they’re certified gluten free if you want it to be GF)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup plain flour (or GF all purpose flour blend)
  • 1/4 cup sultanas (or cranberries, or other dried fruit)
  • 1/4 cup nuts, chopped roughly (walnuts are traditional but equally I have used pecans or almonds)
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (or nutmeg, or both) to taste
  • drizzle of maple syrup (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C (170C fan forced). Locate your cooking pot. I use a 25cm round cast iron pot with lid.
  2. Cut your apples into quarters to remove the core, then slice into approximately even slices (maybe 1-2mm wide). Layer them roughly into your pot, sprinkle with cinnamon, and add the tablespoon of water, which will give them a bit of steam to begin with.
  3. Combine your butter, sugar, oats, almond meal and flour into a bowl and work with your fingers to create sticky crumbles.
  4. Spread your sultanas and nuts over the top.
  5. Distribute your crumble topping evenly over the top and drizzle with maple syrup, if using.
  6. Place the lid on the pot and slide it into your pre-warmed oven for 15 minutes. Then remove the lid and leave to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes (depending on your oven) or until golden brown and apples are tender.
  7. Serve with cream, ice cream or yoghurt. Enjoy!

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Tips for healthier versions

  • Add chia seeds and/or coconut shreds to the crumble topping–this makes it worthy of being a breakfast food in my opinion 🙂
  • Reduce or even eliminate the sugar. I have made this with no sugar and you’d be amazed how much sweetness is in the apples already.
  • Choose plain, unsweetened yoghurt as your topping of choice.

 

Happy baking!

Jo x

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9780143792017

Tuscan White Bean Soup — Recipe from Three Gold Coins

This is one of my favourite recipes that I developed while researching and writing Three Gold Coins. Perfect for these cooling nights!

Tuscan White Bean Soup

Ingredients

1 large leek (or 2 small ones)

2 garlic cloves

1 potato (I use Dutch Cream potatoes all the time, just because I love them the best)

1 parsnip

Half a head of cauliflower

1 carrot (optional… it will change the colour of your soup, but it’s a good way to use up vegetables in your crisper!)

2 cans of cannellini beans

4 cups stock (I use lamb bone broth)

Salt and pepper to taste

The leaves of a few sprigs of fresh thyme (just pick them, wash them and use your fingers to strip the sprigs)

2 Tbs lemon juice

Method

Chop all your vegetables.

  1. Fry your leek and garlic in olive oil under fragrant.
  2. Add the rest of the your chopped vegetables and mix thoroughly, allowing to cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add water just to the top of the vegetables and simmer for ten minutes.
  4. Add your stock and cook for ??
  5. Allow liquid to reduce a little if it seems to watery, otherwise proceed to blending.
  6. Blend half your soup until creamy then return to the pot. (Or blend three quarters, or even the whole lot. It depends how you like your soup.)
  7. Add your salt, pepper, thyme and lemon juice and heat through.
  8. Serve with sprigs of thyme for garnish and a side of crusty bread

Jo’s Choc-Lavender Coconut Milk ‘Nice Cream’ (Dairy and Gluten free!)

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This chocolate deliciousness is just the thing to delight your taste buds – and it’s good for you! Explore the healing power of chocolate (just like in The Chocolate Promise) with this yummy, guilt free treat. (And it should suit most people with food sensitivities, too.)

1 Can Coconut Milk (full fat)
The cream of 1 Can Coconut Cream (chilled overnight)
¼ cup cacao powder
¼ cup maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla bean powder
1-2 drops of edible lavender essential oil (you’re going to taste the lavender, so if you’re new to using essential oils in food, maybe just start with 1 drop).
  1. To get the cream from your can of coconut cream, you will have to chill it in the fridge overnight. Then open the can and scoop out the solid cream.
  2. Place all ingredients in a blender for 30-60 seconds (depending on the strength of your blender) to combine.
  3. Pour into a freezer proof container and put in freezer until frozen.
  4. Cut into squares with a knife and serve on its own, or with lavender flowers if you have them, but if not, rose petals, berries or lashings of thickened cream also look wonderful.

Creamy Valentine Chicken

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In honour of The Tuscan Feast (out in April 2018), and my recent trip to Tuscany, I’ve played with this classic Tuscan-inspired recipe for you to try.

Approx. 750g (2-4) chicken breasts (organic and free-range, please, because if you’re going to be sharing the love, let’s share it with our beautiful planet too.)
Olive oil
Two garlic cloves, minced
300mLs thickened cream
150mLs chicken stock
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1tsp dried Italian herbs (or pick a few of your favourites from your garden and chop them finely)
1½ cups baby spinach leaves
½ cup sundried tomatoes (preferably dry, not in oil)
Pasta or rice of choice to serve.
  1. Wash the chicken and cut each breast into thirds, crosswise
  2. Cook in the olive oil on a gentle heat until just brown and cooked through (no pink bits!)(Tip: I like to put the lid on the fry pan for some of the time so as to steam them a bit more than frying them. It keeps them moist. But do take the lid off towards the end to reduce the liquid till you get some lovely brown, sticky bits.)
  3. Give the minced garlic a turn in the fry pan for about a minute
  4. Pour in the cream and the stock, add your cheese and herbs, turn the heat up and bring to a simmer, stirring until it thickens.
  5. Add your sun-dried tomatoes and spinach and stir until the spinach has wilted then add your chicken back in too, giving it all another stir, raising the heat to take it back to a final simmer for a minute, lid on.
  6. Let it rest for ten minutes before serving alongside your choice of rice or pasta dish.

Bellissimo!

Josephine Moon’s Rose Iced Chai

If you’ve read The Tea Chest, you’ll know that I love chai!

This is perfect for a sultry summer’s day. It’s a chilly iced tea that’s full to the brim with deliciousness.

 

2 heaped dessert spoons loose leaf Masala chai (or good quality teabags) (or use a spice chai with no black tea if you are caffeine free)
Sweetener (e.g. sugar or honey), if you choose
2 Tbs dried rose flowers (or petals), plus extra for serving
3 tsp rosewater
Fresh lime, optional (some people are not a fan of lime juice but I love it!)
Plenty of ice

  1. Brew your chai: two heaped dessert spoons to one litre of water. Pour into a glass jug (or similar) that can go into the fridge.
  2. Add your sweetener of choice (if using) and stir until dissolved. Allow it to cool until warm.
  3. Add your dried rose flowers or petals and allow to steep in the fridge, 2-4 hours, then remove flowers/petals.
  4. Add the rose water.
  5. Now taste the brew. It will likely be very strong—it’s supposed to be! This will become your base brew.
  6. Mix half quantity of brew to half quantity of water as a guide (but feel free to adjust to your taste).
  7. Add freshly squeezed lime juice to taste (if using) and plenty of ice.
  8. Top with either fresh (spray free!) rose petals from your garden or more dried flowers.
  9. Enjoy!

Tip: Use sparkling water here for extra pizazz.
Note: You can buy edible rose flowers and petals online or in many organic/wholefood shops or from spice merchants. Rosewater can be bought off the shelf in your supermarket.