Tag Archives: baking

Bake: Pumpkin & Spice sugar buns

love an ornamental gourd

Autumn sees the return of a most versatile root veg, the humble pumpkin/squash/gourd. Each year I have a little word with myself and promise not to get over excited when the gourds finally hit the stores, and yet, every year come October I have a veritable collection. So far this year I have managed to restrain myself to just the above, along with several butternuts that were of course purely for recipe development purposes and not because I need as many pumpkins as I can possibly lay hands on to deck my halls.

Yes, we’re big fans of pumpkins here at make, do and spend. We hold an annual pumpkin carving party which usually involves good food, friends and some outrageous pumpkin creativity. Highlights of which include last years winner Walter White, enchanted forest scenes and my personal favourite, the bread bus which was born out of a Narborough Rd wide pumpkin shortage!

pumpkin carving party

So theres always quite a bit of pumpkin to be eaten at this time of year and it lends itself particularly well to sweet treats. I’ll be eating these little buns for breakfast this week, these are my kind of comfort food. At this time of year enriched buttery doughs are what I crave, particularly when combined with dark sugar and spice!

To Make 12 Pumpkin and spice sugar buns you will need

  • 430g strong bread flour
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 7g salt
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 1 medium egg
  • 10g yeast
  • 150ml whole milk
  • 130g pumpkin puree- this is around half a pumpkin squash, roasted to the below method

for the filling

  • 30g butter at room temporature
  • 2 tbls dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbls ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbls ground ginger

for maple and cream cheese topping

  • 150g cream cheese
  • 30g maple syrup

how to roast pumpkin

To make the pumpkin puree pre-heat an oven to 180°C and cut the pumpkin into chunks leaving the skin on. place in a roasting tray and pour about 1/2 an inch of water into the base- this will add steam to the roasting process and help break down the fibers of the pumpkin. Roast the pumpkin for around 20-30 minutes until soft. Allow too cool, then peel off the skins and puree using a  blender.

To make the dough warm the milk to blood temp, so it’s cool enough to comfortably hold your little finger in for a few seconds. Add the yeast, stir until both are well combined and set aside.

Place the flour, pumpkin puree, salt, sugar, butter and egg into the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment. Start the mixer on a slow speed and stream in the yeast and milk mixture slowly until all the ingredients come together to form a dough, turn the mixer up a little and knead the dough for around 5 minutes so the butter is well incorporated and the dough smooth and shiny. Allow the dough to prove for 1 hr or so until doubled in size.


Once proved transfer the dough to a well floured surface and roll the dough into a rectangle measuring around 30cm x 55cm.

dot the butter across the surface of the dough then sprinkle over the sugar and spices.

Starting with the long edge roll the dough tightly into a long sausage then divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.

cinnamon buns rolled

Lightly grease a muffin tin with butter or non stick baking spray and place each bun into the tray, cut side up so the swirl of the sugar and spice is visible, allow the dough to prove for a further 30 minutes and pre-heat oven to 160°C. once the buns have doubled in size transfer to the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and the buns make a hollow sound when tapped on the base

just baked

Allow to cool whilst preparing the cream cheese topping, in a mixing bowl combine both the cream cheese and maple syrup and fold together. place a spoonfull of the topping over each bun and smooth with the back of a spoon.

for the frosting 3

What are your favourite pumpkin recipes?

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Make: Elderflower sugar

elderflower foraging

I was convinced I would miss the Elderflower season this year. I’ve just returned from travelling round Italy for a week and on my departure from the UK the elderflowers were already in full bloom, In Italy the elder was beginning to turn to berries. I’d tried not to think about them too much for fear of disappointment. Today I drove past a quiet little hedgerow that I know to have an amass of elder. I allowed myself a quick look to see if there were any left and was delighted to find that these lacey white flowers are in full bloom still. Armed with scissors and a basket I was just a few snips away from my hoard.

In a bid to eek out the elderflower season a little longer I decided upon a delightfully simple way to preserve the heady, floral fragrance of elderflower. If you fancy a little elderflower foraging yourself then go quickly as the season is almost at an end!

A few notes on picking elderflowers, go early in the morning on a dry day before the bugs start to decend and the flowers loose their scent as the day wears on. Elderflowers growing alongside busy roads will take on the roadside fumes, so try and track down elder growing on quiet country roads or public footpaths. And my top foraging tip, always pick above waist (dog wee) height.

remove the flowers

Elderflower sugar Ingredients

  • 250g caster or granulated sugar
  • 3-4 heads of elderflower

To prepare the elderflower, shake the heads to remove any bugs then wash well in cold water and allow to dry completely. Remove the flowers from the stalks and mix together with the sugar. The sugar will last for a couple of months if stored in an airtight container. Before using, run the sugar through a fine sieve to remove the flowers.

Elderflower sugar is perfect for baking with, consider cherry and elderflower loaf cakes or lemon and elderflower syrups into gin based cocktails, all summer long.

elderflower sugar 1

store in a kilner jar

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MAKE: Allotment Lemonade and Loaf Cake

Today we have a guest post from the lovely Ruth from Clarendon Spark – we’re a little late in posting it (oops!) but hopefully you’ll still be able to find the ingredients in season…


I live a literal stone’s throw from Queens Road Allotments in Clarendon Park in the south of Leicester. I’ve been fascinated by the allotments since I moved to the area and couldn’t wait for the opportunity to get a peek inside, so I jumped at the chance to pop along to their open day and produce sale.

I was immediately captivated by the place and spent over an hour exploring the plots, taking photos and talking to the allotmenteers. You can find out more about this little oasis of green tranquility in my article, Queens Road Allotments, over on my Clarendon Spark blog.

I came away from the produce sale with a bumper crop of goodies and I was determined to do them justice with some tasty makes that really capture the late summer season.

These two recipes are simple, speedy, and a great way to showcase a glut of gorgeous home-grown ingredients…

MAKE: Blackberry Lemonade

Blackberry bushes were everywhere at the allotments, growing in between all the plots and bursting with glossy ripe fruit. This timely recipe is simplicity itself but the result is super tasty and seriously refreshing. Serve your lemonade in jam jars for extra hipster points and garnish with plenty of ice, fresh lemon slices and whole blackberries.

If you want to make it boozy you can add a few glugs of vodka to the mix and you’ve got yourself a homemade blackberry lemonade cocktail.


You will need:

  • 20-30 blackberries
  • Juice from 3 lemons
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Still or sparkling mineral water.

What to do:

  • Simmer the lemon juice and the sugar together in a pan over a low heat for about five minutes until the sugar has dissolved, then leave the mixture to cool
  • Add the blackberries and blend the whole lot together then strain it through a sieve
  • Pop the ‘cordial’ in a jug along with some ice and add water until the drink is your preferred strength.

BAKE: Apple, Plum and Courgette Loaf Cake

I’m a big fan of simple loaf-style cakes which have a slightly savoury feel to them.

Using wholewheat self-raising flour in this recipe gives the resulting cake a satisfying bready quality, and a hefty slice with a mug of tea makes for a substantial mid-afternoon pick-me-up. If you prefer, you can use white self-raising flour instead and drizzle a bit of citrusy icing over the top for an altogether more delicate dessert.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can use pretty much any combination of fruits and vegetables depending on what’s in season and what you have to hand. The addition of mixed spice gives the whole cake a warm, spicy, slightly autumnal flavour.

I was a little too impatient to scoff my cake and cut it while it was still warm which is why it looks a bit scruffy on the photo – leaving it to cool completely will give you a neater looking slice!


You will need:

  • 70g apple, grated
  • 70g plum, grated
  • 70g courgette, grated
  • 250g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp mixed spice.

What to do:

  • Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin
  • Beat the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, bicarb and mixed spice together, then stir in the grated fruit (yes – it really is that easy!)
  • Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.


These incredibly straightforward, rustic recipes are such a great way of showing off home-grown fruit and veg, and knowing that the key ingredients I used had been loving produced just across the road made me extra proud when sharing these makes.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I have and that they prove a great showcase for your own home-grown hand-picked harvest.

Thanks Ruth! And just a reminder you can find more of her words and pictures over at Clarendon Spark

And for another idea about how to use up blackberries with an adult twist, take a look at E’s Blackberry Gin recipe

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Looking back: Febuary

A little look at what we were up to this time last year……

We were busy Making…..

heart garland


lemon meringue layer cake

And Organising…..


Also, B wangled an exclusive interview with Richard III!

And TWO years ago… 

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Do: Cakes and trains – Part 2


As with any organisation the Clandestine Cake Club has its rules, the main one being – you must make a proper cake!

No muffins, no cupcakes, no brownies – but something you can slice into and share

Founder Lynn Hill explained her theory is sharing cake is a social exercise

People linger around the cakes making their selections, cutting pieces for each other, chatting over recipes… in a way that wouldn’t happen if you just picked up a muffin or two and sat down


And – as Lynn also pointed out – making an amazing cake and watching people enjoy it makes you (and them!) feel pretty happy…

As we found on Saturday when we took along our lemon meringue cake to Waterstones in Loughborough for their CCC recipe book launch!


It was lovely chatting with passing shoppers about baking, while they tucked into a slice of the many tasty cakes on offer and leaved through the book

The Loughborough bakers had really put on an amazing spread to tempt people towards the stand…

IMG_9924collage cake 2


Obviously we couldn’t resist tasting a few of the cakes too – all delicious, but we decided our favourite was the cardamon cherry cake made by Anne Currie

And then before we knew it, it was back to the Great Central Railway for us – to catch the last train home to Leicester (at 3.45pm!)


collage train2

A lovely, lovely day

Do you prefer big cakes to little cupcakes? Are you a member of any cake clubs? Is train really the best way to travel? Tell us all about it!

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