Pudsey Bear Sponge with Lemon Curd Icing

I was recently asked to participate in a challenge for Baking Mad and Children in Need to make a Pudsey Bear shaped dessert. I had considered cupcake making but thought it would be too fiddly, and as baking isn’t really my strong point I thought I’d keep it simple with a sponge cake and lemon curd icing. 

Here’s the finished product! He’s actually really simple to make – just use a round cake tin and then trim off some of the baked sponge to resemble his head, and then I simply decorated with him with liquorice, white chocolate stars and mini chocolate coated balls. 

If you love baking and need some tips, why not head over to Baking Mad’s tips page? They have an absolute truckload of tips for various baking methods – cupcakes, cakes, Christmas, jam – pretty much every baking question should have an answer there!

Here’s the recipe – you’ll see it is super quick and easy to make so don’t be put off if this is your first time baking, it’s simple and if you have scales you can get it all done in about 10 minutes. 

For the sponge: 
110g grams of self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
110g grams of butter
110g caster sugar
2 eggs (medium or large)
2 drops vanilla essence

For the lemon curd: 
1 lemon (large), grate the rind and juice the lemon
75 grams of caster sugar
2 eggs (medium or large)
50 grams of butter

For the sponge: 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170°C
  2. Lightly grease round 18cm sponge tin
  3. Sift flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl
  4. Add remaining ingredients to bowl
  5. Whisk with an electric mixer until all combined
  6. Pour mixture into tin and make sure it’s level
  7. Bake for 30 minutes in the middle of the oven
  8. Cake is cooked when a skewer comes out clean
  9. Remove from oven and wait a few minutes (2-3), turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool
  10. Top with home-made lemon curd (recipe to follow)

For the lemon curd: 

  1. Place lemon rind and sugar in a bowl (heatproof)
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk lemon juice with eggs and then pour the mix over the sugar
  3. Add the butter (cut into pieces) and place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water
  4. Stir until it thickens, it will take around 15-20 minutes
  5. Allow to cool before using as filling or icing

To decorate: 
  1. Trim sponge cake to shape of Pudsey’s head
  2. Spread the cooled lemon curd icing to cover cake
  3. Decorate with liquorice, stars and mini chocolates to look like Pudsey
  4. Enjoy!

Whole Foods Market, Giffnock

For months and month you have probably been hearing about Whole Foods Market opening in Giffnock, particularly if you’re on the Southside of Glasgow. They’ve been promoting the launch heavily, so it was no surprise there was incredibly high demand for the preview tours and that the launch was packed, even at 9am on a freezing Wednesday morning.

Beautifully displayed fresh produce

If you haven’t been to America or visited a Whole Foods Market in London, you might not know what it’s all about. It’s not really like a normal supermarket, it is much more like a farmers’ market but indoors. Whole Foods Market prides itself on selling natural and organic produce of the highest standard possible. What has really impressed me about Whole Foods Market is their approach to healthy eating – it’s not dictated by counting calories, grams of fat or anything like that, it is purely promoting food which is a whole food (unrefined and unprocessed), plant strong (lots of veg!), healthy fats (like avocado) and nutrient dense. If you’re interested in the heath and nutrition side of Whole Foods Market, you can read more about the four pillars of healthy eating on their website.

The best way to store bananas apparently (I’ll have to retrieve our banana hook from the back of the cupboard in that case!)

On Monday I was lucky enough to go along for a store tour – this was a great way of seeing most of the exciting things that were in the store. I don’t have any pictures from the tour as the store wasn’t finished, but Alex from Whole Foods PR kindly sent me her photos to use, the other photos are from the opening day on Wednesday when the store was stocked.

So, the tour. Firstly we were shown (and got to sample) the guacamole which is made fresh in store every day in two type, normal and chilli. Both versions are delicious. The theme of making things fresh in store daily was really consistent through the tour and a really refreshing thing to see in a supermarket-type store.

Beauty department
I didn’t expect their to be a beauty department to be honest! They also stock nutritional supplements if you are looking for natural and organic versions of what you may be currently taking.
We then stopped off to see the in-instore healthy food specialist (what a job!) where we sampled creamed kale. I am a newfound lover of kale so really enjoyed this and will try making it home for sure. I’m pretty sure the recipe we sampled was actually coconut milk-braised greens was the recipe we sampled, not the creamed kale on the Whole Foods Market website but I could be wrong.
Famous peanut butter machine!
I picked up a tub of peanut butter (I didn’t grind it myself, I am saving that for next time) which is delicious – I had it for lunch today on a loaf of sour dough (not the whole loaf).
Fresh fish and meat – sampled smoked salmon
In the fish department we sampled some really, really lovely smoked salmon, the nicest I can remember eating, Scottish Reserve smoked salmon. I’ll definitely be getting more of this in the future.
 Heaps of fresh seafood
Even more fresh seafood

Then we came across a part of the store I did not expect – I was literally agape – a beer and wine area. Yes, that’s standard, but here you can buy a bottle (£3.69 for a pint & half sized Grolsh style bottle) and get it filled with a beer of your choice (prices ranging from £3.26 – £3.69, there are 3 to choose from. In total you’d be paying about £7 for the bottle and contents. I love this idea – it’s environmentally friendly as you can return to get your bottle filled whenever you want. And you can get wine too which is £6.99 for Spanish red or white for one litre.

Don’t fancy the take home bottle? They have plenty of regular sized beers by the bottle as well.

Opposite the beer/wine area is cheese heaven. You might have noticed that I am a total cheese addict. Due to this, I steered well clear of this section apart from taking a quick picture.

This cheese selection should come with a warning sign

Another part of the store that I knew about was the sushi area. I have eaten a lot of sushi in my life and wow, this stuff is amazing. Really, really fresh and cut generously and made in store every day. They have a really delicious brown rice sushi to try as well for something different. I picked up a packet on Wednesday morning, which I didn’t eat until around 5pm (it was refrigerated) and it was absolutely heavenly. I didn’t even expect to have such good sushi from a store. It is expensive though – I think around £7.50 for a packet.

The bakery is stocked with lots of beautifully decorated cakes/cupcakes and tarts.

If you dream of wonderfully fresh, soft baked bread that you don’t seem to be able to buy anywhere in Glasgow, then Whole Foods Market have it.

They also have a fresh juice section (juice made to order), coffees and hot drinks, as well as freshly made sandwiches and pizzas. If you want something delicious and simple for dinner, they don’t do packaged ready meals – they are all made fresh and served up straight to you from the display so you can pick and choose your combinations.

Yes, they have normal grocery aisles too

I think I’ve gushed enough about how great I think Whole Foods Market is. The only downside I can see is that some prices seem quite high, and I’m sure part of that is because the produce is organic. I don’t see that we could afford to do all our shopping there, but we will definitely be popping by on a fortnightly basis to fill up the beers and wine, as well as pick up as many healthy treats as possible. At the moment they have some really great value specials on, and they do this on a weekly basis so make sure you pop by to see what the deal of the week is!

Have you been to see Whole Foods yet? If so, what did you think?

Whole Foods Market on Urbanspoon

Ian Brown Restaurant, Giffnock, Glasgow

We’d been keen to try the relatively new Ian Brown Restaurant in Giffnock since it opened, but we hadn’t managed to get a booking. It’s very popular on the Southside, and also quite small so if you want to go for dinner, I suggest you try booking a bit in advance!
We had some Australian friends staying with us recently who got engaged, so we wanted to take them somewhere special for a celebratory dinner. I normally don’t have a problem heading into town, but perhaps it’s the colder weather, I really just wanted to go somewhere local but lovely. We were able to get a booking for dinner on a Thursday night without any problems. 
The restaurant is quite small and can seem crowded when it is full and busy as some tables are quite close together, and you might find it a challenge navigating a path to the bathroom.
We were warmly welcomed and seated right near the bar, where I could spy through to the kitchen to see that Ian Brown himself was cooking that night.   
Complimentary beetroot velouté
We were served this as a complimentary stater and it was greatly appreciated – lovely and warming with the heavenly rich taste of beetroot that I love so much. We decided to diverge from the pre-theatre menu (which is fantastically cheap – £11 for two courses or £14.50 for 3) and go a la carte. I won’t write anything about the dishes individually but here are the photos for your drooling pleasure. 
Slow braised Perthshire pigs cheek with herby polenta and Madeira sauce 

Haggis, neeps and tatties 

Roast partridge breast with saffron barley risotto and herb bisque 

Grilled Perthshire pigeon breasts on a bed of bacon and puy lentils and morel cream sauce

Seared collops of Stirlingshire venison with bramble sauce, celeriac purée, sesame seed potatoes and fried kale   

 Slow cooked Scottish shin of beef with garlic crushed potatoes, honey roasted shallots and spinach 

Courgette and cous cous parcel with red pepper sauce 

We were really full after all of that so decided against dessert. I was expecting the meals to be pricer but the entrées were around £5 and mains around £15 so I found it to be good value. Everything we ate was tasty, fresh, and the menu all seems to be locally sourced. I didn’t leave floating on cloud 9 in food heaven, but I was quite content with our meals and would recommend it to anyone looking for somewhere new to try on the Southside. I would go back to try out the pre-theatre menu as I think that is a really good value deal.