Donal Skehan

Raspberry Scones

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Scones are one of the first recipes most people learn to make in Ireland, especially if you did Home Ec. in school! What I love most about scones is that you can whip up a batch in a matter of minutes, usually with ingredients you already have in the house. I like to add fresh raspberries but you can keep the dough plain or add any berries you like. A thick layer of butter and jam is essential though!

Makes 8-10 scones
500g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
120 g butter, chilled
100 g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 large free range eggs
200ml milk, plus extra for brushing
100g fresh raspberries

Preheat the oven to 220°C, dust a large baking sheet with flour. Combine the flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl and using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles rough breadcrumbs. Add the sugar to the bowl and mix it through the crumbs.

In a measuring jug, whisk together the milk and egg until combined. Pour this into the crumb mixture and mix through with a table knife until a rough dough forms. Add the raspberries and mix it through the dough. Use your hands to push the dough together, making sure to include any mixture that’s stuck on the sides of the bowl.

Dust a clean work surface with a little flour, turn the dough out of the bowl and press into a round shape. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a thickness of 2.5cm (1in). Using a 7.5cm (3in) circular pastry cutter, cut out the scones and place on the baking sheet. Press the trimmings together, roll out and repeat the process until you have used all the dough.

Brush each scone with a little milk and sprinkle with sugar. Place in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 12-14 minutes until they have risen and turned a lovely golden-brown colour on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving warm with a little butter and jam.

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Carrot & Courgette Cake with Rosemary & Orange Crème Fraiche

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Carrot, courgette and cardamom are a wonderful combination of flavours. The cake itself is moist enough but for that extra special touch you can add the delicious rosemary & orange crème fraiche. If you want to go all out, you can make mini carrots and courgettes out of marzipan with a little orange and green food colouring and angelica root for the stalks. This cake will keep in the fridge for 3–5 days.

Serves 8
275g self-raising flour
1⁄2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom pods, split and seeds ground
275g golden caster sugar
4 large free-range eggs
250ml rapeseed oil, extra for greasing
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
200g carrots, peeled and finely grated
200g courgettes, trimmed and finely grated (squeeze out any excess moisture)

For the rosemary & orange crème fraiche:
juice of 2 oranges
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
2 small fresh rosemary sprigs
2 x 200g cartons crème fraiche
Orange zest and rosemary flowers to garnish if available.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4. Lightly oil 2 x 23cm (9in) spring-form cake tins and line the bases with parchment paper. Prepare the rosemary & orange crème fraiche. Pass the orange juice through a sieve into a small pan with half of the caster sugar and rosemary and simmer until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely, then remove the rosemary sprigs and discard. Fold into the crème fraiche, then cover and chill until needed.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and cardamom with a wooden spoon. In a stand-alone mixer (or in a large bowl, using an electric hand-held mixer), whisk together the sugar and eggs until pale and fluffy. With the mixer still on, pour the oil into the bowl, in a steady stream, and mix until it is completely incorporated, then mix in the vanilla extract.

Sift the dry ingredients into the batter and fold in with a spatula until just mixed through. Add the finely grated carrot and courgette and fold through until completely incorporated. Divide the batter between the two lined cake tins and place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Remove the cakes from the oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack. When the tins are cool enough to touch, gently release the cakes and return them to the wire rack, removing the base and parchment paper. Allow to cool completely. If one of the cakes has risen more than the other, simply cut off the excess with a bread knife so that you have a flat surface to work with. Assemble the cake by spreading one of the layers with half the rosemary & orange crème fraiche. Place the second layer on top and spread with the remaining crème fraiche. Garnish with orange zest and rosemary flowers if available. Cut into eight slices and serve on plates.

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Recipe Video: Victoria Sponge…

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Nothing says summer like strawberries and cream and a cake that combines both is a winner in my books! Light, vanilla scented sponges, layered with softly whipped cream and lashings of strawberry jam- this sponge cake is a total crowd pleaser!

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Now when you make a Victoria sandwich, there are a few key questions. Do you use strawberry or raspberry jam? Do you put cream inside or serve on the side? Do you sprinkle caster or icing sugar on the top? I like to use strawberry jam and cream to sandwich them together and finish with a light dusting of icing sugar. I let you decide how you want to serve yours!

Continue to the recipe for my Victoria Sandwich…

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Recipe Video: Irish Coffee Swirl Cake…

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This recipe makes a moist coffee swirl cake cooked in a bundt tin. If you don’t have one, you can easily make it in a springform tin, buttered and the base lined with baking parchment. The addition of a cream liqueur is optional but really adds an extra special touch to both the cake and icing.

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This coffee cake is really simple to make but is quite the showstopper when topped off with it’s gooey icing and edible gold stars. It keeps fantastically in an air tight tin, ready to be sliced and enjoyed with a cup of coffee!

Continue to the recipe for my Irish Coffee Swirl Cake…

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Recipe Video: Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf…

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What is it about lemon cakes and treats that makes them so popular? What I love most about this particular Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf is just how simple it is to prepare. I like to make a loaf, store it in a cake tin and have it at the ready for any guests who might drop in for a cup of tea!

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You can make this recipe as a plain lemon loaf and leave out the poppy seeds but I love the texture and little flecks of colour that they add. This is the perfect recipe for a first time baker to try as it really doesn’t get any easier!

Continue to the recipe for my Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf…

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Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf

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What is it about lemon cakes and treats that makes them so popular? What I love most about this particular Lemon & Poppy Seed Loaf is just how simple it is to prepare. I like to make a loaf, store it in a cake tin and have it at the ready for any guests who might drop in for a cup of tea!

Makes 1 loaf
110g wholemeal flour
110g plain flour
100ml natural yoghurt
200g caster sugar
100ml sunflower oil
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of poppy seeds
3 large eggs
Zest of 2 lemons
1⁄2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Flour to dust the tin

Lemon Icing:
110g icing sugar
3 tablespoons of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
T Grease a 2lb loaf tin (21cm x 11cm x 6cm) with butter, dust with flour or line with baking parchment and set aside.
 Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yoghurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Pour this mixture onto the dry ingredients and whisk well to incorporate. With a spatula, fold the sunflower oil into the batter, making sure it is well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean.

When the cake is done, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. This gives you time to prepare the tangy lemon icing.

Combine the sugar and lemon juice until smooth, you may need to add a drop of water or a little more icing sugar to achieve to correct consistency. Turn the cake onto a cooling rack and spoon the icing over the top of the cake allowing it to dribble down the sides. Serve in generous slices.

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Recipe Video: Ultimate Banana Bread…

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This recipe comes from my auntie Ann who spent a lot of time in America over the years and has picked up some really great US inspired recipes. This banana bread is deliciously moist and is extremely easy to throw together.

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You can add a little sliced banana on top before it goes into the oven or even stir some chopped nuts or chocolate chips through the batter! The best thing about this banana bread recipe is it is so adaptable. Whatever you add, a thick slice served with a cup of tea is a match made in heaven.

Continue to the recipe for Auntie Ann’s Ultimate Banana Bread…

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Beer and Bacon Cookies

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I’m always on the lookout for a great chocolate-chip cookie recipe, and this one is adapted from a famous New York Times recipe, which produces chewy cookies. However the difference with these little babies is the addition of candied bacon and beer! Beer & bacon all wrapped up into a cookie…What’s not to love! The dough benefits from resting overnight in the fridge and also freezes extremely well.

Makes 12
For the candied bacon
250g smocked, streaky bacon
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar

For the cookie dough
275g soft light brown sugar
225g granulated sugar
275g butter
2 large free-range eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoon of dark stout
475g plain flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
300g good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped into chunks
Sea salt

Preheat your oven to 200°C. To make the candied bacon,line a baking tray with parchment paper and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Lay the smokey bacon on top and cover with the remaining brown sugar. Place in the oven for 20 mins. Once completely cooled, slice into 2cm pieces and set aside.

In a standalone mixer with a paddle beater (or in a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer), beat the sugars and butter until light and pale. Break in the eggs one at a time, mixing between additions and pausing to scrape down the sides with a spatula. Mix in the vanilla extract and stout. Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift in the flour and baking powder. Mix with a wooden spoon until well incorporated, then mix through the chocolate chunks and bacon pieces. Bring the dough together and split into two. Place each half on a sheet of cling film, roll up and form into a thick sausage shape, sealing the ends.

Depending on how many cookies you need (the sausages make six cookies each), you can place one of the cookie-dough sausages in the freezer for another time and one in the fridge to rest overnight. The frozen dough will last up to 6 months in the freezer. Simply pop it in the fridge, or give it an extremely cautious 30-second blast in the microwave before you plan to use it. The following day, take the dough out of the fridge, unwrap and slice into six pieces. Place the slices onto a lined baking sheet and sprinkle each cookie with a little sea salt.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4. Pop in the oven to bake for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown on the edges and ever so slightly pale in the centre. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Homecooked Bakery: Orange Polenta Cake

Orange-Polenta-Cake_2 Time for another installment of Homecooked Bakery and this week's recipe is a beauty! If you have not tried baking with polenta yet, give this cake a go. It's so moist and fragrant because it's doused with a honey and rosewater syrup and the polenta gives the cake a really great texture. Then the whole cake is decorated with vibrant green pistachios and orange zest. It's incredibly easy to make and it's the one I have pulled out again and again!

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Orange Polenta Cake With Honey & Rosewater Syrup

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This fragrant and moist cake is not only visually beautiful, it also has the most delicious spiced sweet orange and honey flavour. The cake can be made gluten-free as long as you use a gluten-free baking powder. 

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Gold Dust Chocolate Cake

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This a proper show stopper of a chocolate cake and perfect for special occasions.  The edible gold powder can be bought online or in select baking stores.

Serves 8-12
Butter for greasing
350g self-raising flour
5 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300g caster sugar
4 large free-range eggs, beaten
300ml sun flower oil
300ml milk
4tbsp golden syrup

For the frosting:
60g cocoa powder
220g butter, at room temperature
450g cream cheese
375g icing sugar
1 teaspoon of edible gold powder

Preheat the oven to 170°C, grease two 23 cm cake tins with removable bases and line with parchment paper. Sift the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl of a standalone mixer. Add the sugar and mix well. Measure the wet ingredients into a measuring jug. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the contents of the jug. Beat together with the mixture until you have a smooth mixture. Spoon the cake batter into the lined tins and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before transferring to a wire rack until completely cool.  If the cakes have to much of a rise in the centre, simply cut away the imperfections with a bread knife so you have a flat top.

To make the frosting, place the butter and cream cheese in a bowl and beat for 2 minutes until combined. Then gradually sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder, using a spatula to mix through until you have a smooth, spreadable frosting. Transfer one cake to a cakestand and spread 1/4 of the frosting on top using a long offset spatula, then place the second cake on top and spread 1/3 of the remaining mixture all over the top and sides.  Place the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes.  This is known as a crumb coat which prevents crumbs getting into your final frosting and ensures a smooth finish. Remove the cake from the fridge and spread over the remaining frosting, saving a little if you wish to pipe little peaks on the top.

Dust with a little edible gold powder to finish.

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