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Spiced pineapple crumble

31 January 2019

What could be more welcome in the throws of January than a taste of the tropics? I love visiting our local market at this time of year - crates of sunny citrus fruits, fluorescent pink forced rhubarb and tropical pineapple, papaya and mango bring colour and brightness to these grey winter days.

A dose of vivid colour - and flavour - is certainly welcome in the kitchen too, and there is something lifting and affirming about having a fruit bowl full of bright tropical fruits on the side at this time of year. I adore fresh pineapple - sliced up and served with a squeeze of lime, a little brown sugar and even a sprinkling of chilli flakes - but also love to cook with it for warming winter puddings. If you can't get fresh pineapple, then make this with tinned or Nature's Finest potted pineapples as I do below. Gently cooked before the topping is added, this recipe sees the pineapple transformed from sharp and acidic to sweet, jammy and fragrant.
1 small pineapple, peeled and diced, OR 1 400g pot of Nature’s Finest pineapple pieces
1 lime
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 
50g coconut sugar
60g almonds
30g wholemeal or spelt flour 
60g oats
Pinch salt
30g coconut oil
30g macadamia nuts
20g coconut flakes

Heat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan. If using fresh pineapple, cut off the rind, top and tail, then use your knife to remove any seeds from the flesh. Dice up and cut away from the core, discarding the hard middle. If using tinned or potted,  drain the pineapple, retaining 50ml of the juice. Place the pineapple and retained juice in a small pan. If using fresh pineapple, place this in the pan with 50ml of water.

Add the juice and zest of the lime, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and 30g of the coconut sugar to
the pan. Set over a low heat, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Continue cooking until the
pineapple is fragrant and well coated in the coconut sugar syrup. Remove from the heat, and
transfer to an ovenproof dish.

To make the topping, place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until ground to a fine,
sandy texture. Do not over grind - the nuts will become oily if over processed. Transfer the almonds to a large bowl. Add the remaining 20g of coconut sugar, flour, oats and salt. Whisk to combine.

Add the coconut oil. Use a fork to gently break the oil into the mixture. Once in small pieces,
use your finger tips to quickly rub the coconut oil into the flour. The mixture should look
crumbly and soft. Stir through the macadamia nuts and coconut flakes. Spread the topping over the pineapple.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the surface of the crumble is golden and the fruit is bubbling at
the sides.

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Prune, banana and cocoa nib bread {Dairy and refined sugar free}

12 January 2019

I'm pushing it a bit saying this twelve days into January - but happy new year to you all! I hope you are all back into the swing of routine and aren't giving yourselves too hard a time with new year's resolutions. I read a compelling article recently which argued that we should make resolutions for change in Spring, rather than in January, as Spring is the natural time of new beginnings and growth. Some food for thought for anyone who's already thrown the towel in, perhaps.

I feel excited and optimistic about 2019, and am doing my best to hold on to that feeling as I get bogged down by the everyday. I have a couple fun projects in the pipeline, and the festive break was a great opportunity to reflect and assess too.

While I'm not normally one for resolution, I have enjoyed eating more healthily after the Christmas deluge. I made the decision in late 2018 to gradually move towards only eating organic animal products, which has meant dramatically reducing the amount of meat and dairy that I eat day to day. I am definitely not vegan (I love cake and cream too much - and more to the point, run a wedding cake business!), but following quite a bit of research into the UK dairy and meat industries, I do want to be sustainable and conscientious in the way I buy and consume these products.

This recipe is part of the range that I developed for Nature's Finest Fruit last year (find the current batch of seasonal recipes here). I'm sharing it here now because it is naturally dairy and refined sugar free, so is a nice bake for anyone who is also changing the way they eat and cook at the moment - whether for January, Veganuary, or as a longer-term shift. Bake this vegan by substituting the eggs for chia or flax seed, or decide to spend a bit more to buy from one of the many amazing organic farms we have here in the UK.
150g Nature’s Finest prunes, drained and dried
175g pitted dates
115g boiling water
115g coconut oil, plus extra for greasing
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 large bananas
260g plain flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g cocoa nibs

Place the dates in a saucepan, then pour over the hot water. Leave to soak for 10 minutes, then blend into a purée.

Heat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan. Grease a 1kg loaf tin with a little coconut oil, then line with a strip of baking parchment.

Add the coconut oil to the date purée, and place over a low heat, stirring until the coconut oil has melted. Remove from the heat.

Peel the bananas, and mash with a potato masher in a large mixing bowl. Add the date mixture, eggs and vanilla extract and beat to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sea salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Add to the wet mixture and beat to combine.

Slice the prunes in half, then add to the batter with the cocoa nibs and stir through. Pour the mixture into your tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour.

The banana bread is cooked when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, or with a couple cooked cake crumbs attached.

Cool the cake fully before slicing and serving. The banana bread will keep well for 4-5 days and can be toasted and served with butter for a further 2 days beyond this.

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2018, it's been real

27 December 2018

Hello! I hope you all had good Christmases. I know it can be a tough day as well as a happy one, so if you were getting through it then well done - it's not easy. If, like me, you were lucky enough to have a joyful Christmas with family and friends, then I hope you enjoyed it to the full and are feeling content and rested now that the big day is over. I love this sleepy quiet week, not only because of the lie-ins and sofa time it facilitates, but because it always gives me a welcome chance to reflect on all that I have, and feel truly thankful for it too.

2018 has been a year of highs and lows. A new home, exciting projects and celebrating joyful landmarks with our best friends (engagements, babies and more - I guess we really are grown ups now) have made this a memorable year for a lot of the right reasons. That said, I'm painfully aware that the lives we see on Instagram and on blogs such as mine are a highlights reel, as opposed to the full picture. I won't go into the sadness this year has also spelled here, but I will say that 2018 has not been all sweetness and light at all, and as such I'm definitely ready to welcome a new year and a fresh perspective in 2019.

So what have I been up to over the past 12 months? This year has been one of incredible growth for my wedding cake business - I've been lucky enough to be involved in so many big days, and am excited for what 2019 holds for my little venture. Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have already spotted that I now have a dedicated space for my wedding cakes, Here are some of my favourites from this year...

I've also worked with the amazing team at Nature's Finest Fruit to create a portfolio of seasonal recipes, which are easy, healthy and mostly quick to make. Nature's Finest share my enthusiasm for cooking seasonally, and it's been such a joy to work with them over the course of the year. Stay tuned for more fruit-based frolics in the new year!

Here on Pudding Lane, I've shared recipes for rhubarb and hazelnut mini pavlovaschocolate pistachio sable cookiesPBJ browniesdark chocolate, honey and hazelnut nougatprune and oat soda breadraspberry macaroons; blackcurrant, sloe gin and white chocolate Jaffa cakesmatcha pistachio blondiesleftover egg white brown butter and roast plum cake and tahini and dark chocolate cookies. This December, I've also shared six recipes for my DIY Christmas gift guide - check back next year for homemade festive inspiration! I've worked with some incredible brands this year, including Lakeland and Bacofoil - I still pinch myself that my little blog has led me to these kind of projects. 

Away from the blog, I've had an incredible year of travel. April saw us jet to Rome - Rob ran his first marathon in an incredible 2 hours 49 minutes, I spectated and kept cool with plenty of gelato and espresso. In July, my girlfriends and I had a blissful week in Puglia, Italy. We adored this gorgeous corner of Italy, exploring different beaches and gorging ourselves on delicious pasta and wine. We will definitely be back! In October, Rob and I dusted off our backpacks and travelled to Sri Lanka, where we packed in beaches, tea plantations, hikes and - of course - three days at the cricket in Galle, where England were playing. We even managed to wangle a little cameo on Sky Sports! Can you spot us?

And I think that's it! 2018 has definitely taught me to keep hold of the simple things, and to be thankful for all we have, as well as striving to meet goals and ambitions. With that in mind, thank YOU for reading along, for the likes and love, and for continuing to help my blog and foodie projects grow. I am so lucky to have this space and community.

Wishing you all the BEST year for 2019 - I have a good feeling about this one. Lots of love, Lucy x

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