Sunday, 22 April 2012


GUINNESS, a popular Irish stout and one of the most successful beer brands worldwide, being brewed in almost 50 countries and sold in 100.
I often use it in the filling for my steak and stout pies but this week I saw a recipe for a chocolate and guinnes cake. Bit like chilli and chocolate I was curious to see what it would taste like in a cake rather than a main dish.

4oz Butter (Room Temperature)
8oz Light Muscovado Sugar
6oz Plain Flour
2oz Cocoa Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Bicarbonate Of Soda
3Free Range Eggs (Beaten)
7Floz Guinness

Cream the butter and sugar together then whisk in the eggs gradually. Sieve all the dry ingredients into the bowl and mix in. Finally whisk in the Guinness.
Line an 8ins cake tin with greaseproof paper, add the mixture and bake in a pre-heated oven 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for approx 30-40mins.
Turn the cake out on a cooling rack and whilst cooling make a buttercream for the top.
*Top Tip*  As a guideline, quantities for basic buttercream is double icing sugar to butter.
In this recipe I used 5oz butter to 10oz icing sugar. Beat the butter til soft then beat in the icing sugar. Add a couple tsps of milk if required to loosen the mixture.
Spread over the cooled cake and use a fork to pattern through the mixture.

Cut yourself a slice and enjoy this dark, rich chocolate sponge.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Homemade Custard

Ok, hands up who has a jar of Bird's Custard in their store cupboard??
I must confess, up until i started working at Skylark Farm i had only ever made Bird's Custard or worse just bought a tin!!!

But now that i work on a free range egg farm it is imperative that i use our fresh eggs in as many dishes as possible.

And i cant believe how easy fresh custard actually is to make!
You will need:
1 Pint Hot Milk
2floz Single Cream
1tsp Vanilla Extract
4 Egg Yolks
1oz Caster Sugar
2 tsp Cornflour
Place the egg yolks,caster sugar,cornflour and vanilla in a pan and mix to a paste.
Whisk in your hot milk.
Put your pan on the stove and bring to boil, whisking continuously. Simmer for 1 minute and remove from heat.
Stir in your cream.

Serve hot or cold.
Hope you found this recipe interesting and dont forget to keep your egg whites and use them to make the meringues in my Strawberry Meringue stack recipe
Please feel free to comment on any of my posts.


SO summer is coming and strawberries are appearing on the shelf at Skylark Farm shop. Thinking cap on for me again and looking at the tub of egg whites i have in the fridge i think MERINGUES!
Even though these take a while to cook in the oven they are an easy dessert to make and very effective to look at. The meringues can be made in advance a day or 2 before you need them.
So to make 8 stacks i used:
4 Egg Whites
8oz Caster Sugar
3ozs Dark or Milk Chocolate (depending on preference)
10-12 Large Strawberries
8Floz Double Cream

First whisk the egg whites. Make sure both the bowl and whisk are dry and completely grease-free. If you drop any yolk at all into the whites when seperating your eggs, scoop it out with a piece of shell, as even the tiniest amount of yolk will prevent the eggs from whisking.

Whisk until very thick and form firm peaks. If you are not sure whether they are ready, turn the bowl upside down- if they stay put then they're ready!!!

*Top Tip* Egg whites whisk to a greater volume when at room temperature.

Gradually whisk in the sugar an ounze at a time. It may seem a slow process but it creates a thick meringue.

Spoon the meringue into a piping bag. I then pipe in a long row, side to side, about 2 1/2 ins wide on greaseproof paper, the length of my baking tray, as shown in the photo below.

Set your oven to 100C/220F/Gas Mark 1/4 and bake for an hour and half. Turn off your oven and leave the meringue inside until the oven has cooled.
Divide the meringue rows into 16 equal pieces and cut.
Whisk the cream until stiff and pipe or just spread a layer onto each meringue piece.
Slice the strawberries and lay on top of the cream.
Melt your chocolate, and using a teaspoon, flick it in an erratic manner over all the strawberries.
Each stack is made of 2 meringue slices so sit 8 pieces on top of the other 8.
Dust with icing sugar for effect and serve.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Cappuccino Coffee

I am not a coffee drinker but i was really interested this week to observe the coffee making process at Skylark Farm. Most cafes just have a regular filter coffee machine on the counter and pour coffee as and when needed. Here at Skylark, each cup of illy coffee served is individually prepared to order making it the freshest coffee in town!

illy coffees, founded in in 1933 by Francesco Illy, are blended from arabica beans from multiple sources. The grounds are packaged in steel canisters and pressurized with an inert gas rather than air.

A Cappuccino is an approximately 150 ml (5 oz) beverage, starting with equal parts espresso and milk, each 30 ml (1 oz). The foaming action creates the additional volume.

So how do we make it?
First dispose of old/used coffee.

Clean out any residue left with a brush.

Pull lever to release required amount of freshly ground coffee.

Press down on the ground coffee firmly in the handle so it filters through slowly, creating the illy flavour. The slower it filters through the stronger the flavour.

Insert your "handle" into the machine and press the correct button for large or regular coffee.

Shake your chocolate canister over the shot of coffee.

Heat the milk until doubled in size, creamy and silky.

Bang the milk on the side to remove the bigger bubbles, producing a smoother milk.

Pour milk on quickly.

And enjoy with maybe a slice of Rocky Road from the cake counter!

You can find out more information on illy coffee and the company's products on their website HERE.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Sticky Toffee Pudding

What better way to finish off Sunday Lunch at Skylark Farm than a big helping of Sticky Toffee Pudding. A very popular addition to our dessert list at present and not too complicated to make. Give it a go at home with this lovely recipe i found on the BBC food website.

For The Pudding
150g/5oz dates, stones removed, chopped
250ml/9floz Hot water
1Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
60g/2 1/4 oz butter, softened
60g/2 1/4 oz Caster Sugar
2 Free Range Eggs
150g/5oz Self Raising Flour

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/370F/Gas 4
2. Mix the dates, bicarbonate of soda and the water together in a bowl and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
4.Still stirring the butter mixture, gradually add the eggs, making sure they are well mixed in.
5. Still stirring, gradually add the flour, then add the date mixture.
6. Pour the mixture into a 20cm/8in square cake tin. Bake in the oven for 35-40 mins or until cooked through.

For The Toffee Sauce
200g/7oz Butter
400g/14oz Brown Sugar
Tsp Vanilla Essence
250ml/9floz Double Cream

1. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat.
2. Add the brown sugar, vanilla essence and cream and stir well. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Portion the pudding and pour the hot sauce over.
Serve with custard, cream or ice cream.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Chocolate Sponge with Chocolate Sauce

If you are like me and always look for a chocolate option on the dessert menu after your main course you will love this easy but tasty chocolate sponge topped with chocolate sauce.

8oz Margerine
8oz Caster Sugar
4 Large Free Range Eggs
6 1/2oz Self Raising Flour
1 1/2oz Cocoa Powder

1. Cream the margerine and sugar.
2.Beat in the egggs.
3. Add the flour and cocoa powder. Mix well.
4. Line a 8ins cake tin with greaseproof paper and add your mixture.
5. Bake in a pre heated oven 180C/350F/Gas mark 4 for about 25 mins.

12floz Milk
1oz Butter
4 Tbsp Sugar
4Tbsp Cocoa
2Tbsp Cream
1 1/2 Tbsp Cornflour
1Tsp Vanilla Essence

1. Blend milk, sugar, cocoa, and cornflour to a paste.
2. Boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
3. Remove from stove, add butter and stir until it melts and blends.
4. Add vanilla essence and cream and stir well.
Serve with cream, custard or ice cream.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Wild Boar Sausage and Red Wine Casserole

It's important to promote produce in the cafe that is sold in the farm shop at Skylark Farm.
As i looked through the chiller this week my eyes caught sight of Wild Boar Sausages and i thought they would be tasty in a casserole with maybe a touch of red wine. And i was right!!!

So i fried off the sausages in a pan with a small amount of oil until browned all over, then removed from the pan and set aside. At the same time i put on some new potatoes to boil and chopped some carrots and an onion.
In the sausage pan i added my onion and carrots and cooked on a medium heat for 5 minutes until golden. Reducing the heat i sprinkled about an ounze of plain flour in the pan and cooked for a further 2 minutes. I poured a good amount of red wine in the pan and topped up with some beef stock. The 2 together probably equated to about a pint of fluid. I had some tomato puree in the pantry so i added 3or4 tbsps of that too. I brought the mixture to the boil stirring until the sauce was smooth, then simmered until thickened. To the pan i added my sausages (sliced) and some thyme, salt and pepper.

I transfered my mixture to a heatproof dish, sliced up my cooked new potatoes and layered them on top.

I then baked in the oven for about 20minutes on 180C.

Serve hot from the pan with mashed potatoes and peas.

Very popular on the specials board and extremely tasty!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Glazed Gammon

Sunday lunches are starting to become quite popular at Skylark Farmhouse Cafe.
We began a few weeks ago and offered the choice of beef or pork but, since mother's day, have now introduced a 3rd choice - Glazed Gammon.
Very easy to cook and with the right ingredients added to the saucepan a very tasty meat eaten hot or cold.

**First put your 4kg gammon joint in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and skim off the scum that comes to the surface. Simmer for 30 minutes then drain off the water. Cover with fresh water and add a 10oz bottle of cider, couple of chopped apples, a chopped onion, few sprigs of thyme and about 20 cloves.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 3hrs.
** Remove the gammon from the liquid and peel off the rind. Score the fat into diamond shapes and drizzle warm golden syrup or honey over the top then sprinkle about 4tbsps of demerara sugar over. Roast in an oven 200 C/400 F/Gas Mark 6, basting occasionally with the cooking liquid for 20 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

** Top Tip** with your left over cooking liquid. Blend with some cooked peas for a tasty Pea and Ham Soup.