Gluten free hot cross bun cupcakes

Easter is almost upon us and what better way to enjoy the occasion than with a traditional hot cross bun? If you have a gluten allergy, you’ll find yourself sadly missing out on their spiced deliciousness. We’ve got our guest blogger Samantha Pidoux on hand to save the day with these scrumptious gluten free hot cross bun cupcakes! Take it away Sam…

GF hot cross buns Co-op

Gluten free hot cross bun cupcakes are an alternative to traditional hot cross buns.

I have had a couple of unsuccessful attempts earlier this month with making gluten free hot cross buns. My two attempts both ended up in the bin and after a few tears I decided that I was not going to be defeated, and I decided to put all of the ingredients into a cupcake.

I am pleased to say that these were much more of a success and because I used brown sugar it gave the cake a nice golden colour and once baked the cake had a nice caramel undertone to it.

Ingredients:
200g gluten free self raising flour
200g baking butter
200g light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon xantham gum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or essence
50g mixed peel
150g sultanas
zest from one lemon
2-teaspoons mixed spice
1-teaspoon cinnamon

For the topping:
2 tablespoons apricot jam
4 tablespoons of icing sugar
1 – 2 tablespoons of water

Method

  1. Place 12 muffin cases into a muffin tray.
  2. Pre-heat an oven to 200°C / 393 °F / gas mark 6. In a bowl cream the sugar and the butter until pale. You will find the easier if you use a hand whisk or an electric mixer.
  3. Once the butter and sugar are creamed together add the vanilla and mix. Then add one egg at a time and fully mix in before adding another.
  4. Add the flour and xantham gum and mix until all combined. Don’t over mix. I have found that over mixing makes the flour denser. Now add the spices and lemon zest and mix. Add the sultanas and mixed peel and stir into the cake mix.
  5. Use either a desert spoon or an ice cream scoop to fill each muffin case. Place into the oven and cook for approximately 20 minutes. Your cakes should be a dark golden in colour and spring back at you when you touch the top of them. You can test to see if they are ready by pricking them with a knife. If the knife comes out clean, they are done.
  6. Place the cakes on a cooling rack. While the cakes are hot, using a pastry brush, brush on the apricot jam and then leave to cool.
  7. Once the cakes are cool, you can now decorate with the cross. In a bowl mix the icing sugar with a little water. You want to make a very thick paste. You should only need 1 tablespoon of water. If it is not all coming together then add a teaspoon of water. Once mixed into a thick paste, transfer into a piping bag and pipe onto the top a cross. Leave the icing to set.

Enjoy your gluten free hot cross bun cupcake with either a cup of tea of coffee.

Happy Easter and happy gluten free baking!

By Samantha Pidoux

Britannia rule the seas

Britannia

Once known as the gateway to the Empire, Southampton has been home to many famous boats.

From the Mayflower which carried the first settlers to the New World in 1620, to the first cruise liners of the steam age, it’s a natural home for the Britannia, a new ship in the great British tradition.

State-of-the-art-facilities are complemented by thoughtful design, exceptional entertainment and gourmet dining to sate even the hungriest holiday-maker.

As well as 13 restaurants and cafes, the ship boasts another 13 bars – and that’s just the start of the foodie delights available on board.

Celebrity chef James Martin is the face of the cookery classes, while wine expert Olly Smith has his own bar, The Glass House, and Marco Pierre White hosts gala dinners at sea.

Cruisers will be able to sample cuisine from India in Sindhu, the restaurant of Michelin star winner Atul Kochhar, or head to the Market Café for a lighter bite. Here, Master Pâtissier, Eric Lanlard, has brought together French style patisserie and charcuterie with Spanish tapas and speciality breads sure to delight your taste buds.

The ship also plays host to four swimming pools across 15 decks – including one that’s just for adults. An art collection on-board is valued at £1million, while each cabin also features bespoke artwork from British talent, continuing the theme of refined luxury.

A live lounge features bands and comedians, before the venue is transformed into a buzzing nightclub. Meanwhile live deck shows, dance lessons and theatre are just some of the other entertainment options on board, so there’s never a dull moment.

If you’d like to be one of the first on board this sparkling new ship you can register your interest in upcoming cruises here.

Mother’s Day: Bargain or blowout?

We’ve got loads of treats in store this week to make Mum feel really special, so don’t panic if you still need a last minute prezzie! We’ve rounded up some of the best options, whether you want to splash the cash or save some pennies:

Fun and floral

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Blowout: Our fabulous florists at the Birchwood Centre in Lincoln can create a hand-tied bouquet just for your mum, the perfect way to show how much you care.

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Bargain: Watching the pennies? Not a problem, you can still say it with flowers with these beautiful carnations, available in our food stores…

Going off with a bang…

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Blowout: Everyone loves fizz and mums are no exception, splash the cash on this Piper Heidsieck champers and make her feel like a real superstar.

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Bargain: No fear if cash is tighter; just grab a bottle of Processo. It takes just as good as the ‘good stuff’ but doesn’t got the earth.

Have your cake and eat it

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Blowout: What better way to show your affection than with cake? If you’re lucky, she might even share… This beautifully decorated lemon cake is tasty and pretty, so spoil your mum with a teatime treat.

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Bargain: Low on funds? Our Truly Irresistable carrot cake tastes delicious but will leave plenty in your purse for flowers and a card too!

Remember, you can get 10x dividend on flowers from our florists and 10x dividend on chocs, cards and flowers from our food stores until Sunday 15th of March to treat yourself too! More here: bit.ly/mum10x 

Get away this Easter

Spring is in the air and everyone’s looking forward to a four day Easter weekend – what better way to spend it than by getting away?

With no school for two whole weeks, kids will certainly be kept busy during a trip to Butlins. Meet a host of cute baby animals at the Spring Farmyard, exclusive to Easter, and get stuck into sports and activities including Splash Waterworld, Bonnie Bear’s Easter Bonnet Parade and an Easter Egg Hunt!

If you fancy going a little further afield, treat little ones to a magical break at Euro Disney in Paris. Say hello to Mickey, Minnie and friends and explore five fairytale lands with 52 top attractions. And the Magical Kingdom isn’t as far away as you think – get there in under three hours on the Eurostar.

Try out your navigation skills with a boating holiday on the Norfolk Broads. Kick back and relax as you leisurely pass windmills and moor up at the odd pub for refreshment during 125 miles of rivers and lakes.

York is one of Britain’s most beautiful cities. Spend the long weekend exploring interesting museums and historical sights including the stunning Minster. This city is also packed with great shops and restaurants to keep you entertained.

Easter heralds the start of the camping season so why not head off for the weekend? If it’s still a little chilly at this time of year, set your sights on Feather Down Farms which has luxury spacious fixed tents with heaters and proper beds at farms across the UK.

Blow the cobwebs away with a seaside getaway in Cornwall or Devon. Superbreak has some great cottages and B&Bs to choose from so you can opt for a romantic house for two right on the cliff or invite the whole family.

Even better if you book a UK break with your local Lincolnshire Co-op travel agent before 31st March you’ll get 3x dividend back!

National Pie Week: Bake or Buy?

At Lincolnshire co-op we love pie, whether it’s meat or veggie, sweet or savoury. This week is National Pie Week, and what better way to celebrate than with a pie that’s stuffed full of local goodness?

BAKE IT: This recipe features local beef, beer, cheese, eggs and oil – which sounds like the perfect excuse to have seconds, if you ask us…

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SERVES: 4 Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus chilling time

Cooking time: 25 minutes

1 tbsp local rapeseed oil
200g shallots, halved
200g mushrooms, sliced
600g Lincolnshire Quality sirloin steak, cut in chunks
2 tbsp flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 tsp mixed dried herbs
300ml Tom Woods Lincoln Gold ale
1 tsp brown sugar
1 bay leaf

for the pastry
25g butter
25g white fat
200g plain flour
100g Lincolnshire Poacher cheese, grated
Lincolnshire egg, beaten, to glaze

1. For the pastry: rub the butter and white fat into the flour and season with a little salt and pepper. Stir in the cheese and 2-3 tbsp cold water – just enough to bring the dough together. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the shallots and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Toss the steak pieces in the flour and add to the pan. Cook until browned all over, then add the herbs, ale, sugar and bay leaf. Bring to the boil, simmer for a minute and remove from the heat. Cool slightly and transfer to individual pie dishes.

3. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/fan 160°C. Roll out the pastry to fit the tops of the pie dishes. Make three holes in the top of each to release the steam. Re-roll the pastry trimmings and cut holly leaves for the tops. Brush with the egg and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

BUY IT: If you’re short on time, pick up a delicious Pocklingtons steak pie from the chilled section of your local Lincolnshire Co-op food store. They’re made locally in Withern and use as many local ingredients as possible – from Batemans Victory Ale, brewed in Wainfleet, to flour grown on the Lincolnshire Wolds.

Stokes Fairtrade coffee

We’re always big supporters of Fairtrade but Fairtrade Fortnight calls for a little more celebration. We’ve welcomed a new local coffee to our shelves created by Lincoln firm Stokes. Though it uses Fairtrade beans and is produced locally, the thing that makes this blend really special is that it was chosen by our members!

At Lincolnshire Show last summer, dividend card holders voted for their favourite flavours and then Stokes created the blend especially for them.

Members’ Choice is a smooth medium roast, perfect for all day drinking. It’s a blend of Fairtrade Arabica beans from Colombia, Honduras and Bolivia.

Try it for yourself! From 23rd February to 8th March Lincolnshire Co-op members will bag 10x dividend on Fairtrade products plus 12x dividend on our new Members’ Choice coffee.

Coffee – the facts:

  • Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages.
  • 80 per cent of coffee is produced by 25 million smallholders.
  • Around 125 million people worldwide depend on coffee for their livelihoods.
  • Coffee is the most valuable and widely traded tropical agricultural product.
  • It’s a tricky business, Global coffee production varies from year to year according to weather conditions, disease and other factors.
  • This price changes wildly which has significant consequences for those who depend on coffee for their livelihood. It makes it difficult for growers to predict their income for the coming season and budget for their household and farming needs.
  • Coffee beans pass hands through growers, traders, processors, exporters, roaster and retailers before the consumer. Most farmers have little idea of where their coffee goes or what price it ends up selling for.
  • Fairtrade was started in response to the dire struggles of Mexican coffee farmers following the collapse of world coffee prices in the late 1980s.
  • With Fairtrade, certified coffee producer organisations are guaranteed to receive at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price for their coffee, which aims to cover their costs of production and act as a safety net when market prices fall below a sustainable level.
  • Through their producer organisations, farmers also receive the additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community improvements and must use at least 25 per cent of it to enhance productivity and quality, for example by investing in processing facilities.

Fairtrade gooey coffee brownies

These treats are an interesting twist on a classic, and they’re so quick and easy that there’s no excuse not to try them! Get the kids involved and teach them why Fairtrade is so important for so many people across the world while you’re whipping up a tasty bake!

brownies

Makes 12

Ingredients:

200g Co-op Fairtrade dark chocolate
175g unsalted butter
325g Fairtrade caster sugar
160g plain flour
3 eggs from our love local range
Fairtrade icing sugar to dust
3 tsp Co-op Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Columbian Coffee
50g chopped walnuts

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.
  2. Melt together chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in instant coffee, which will dissolve in the butter and chocolate. Add in sugar and flour and stir until well incorporated, then add eggs and mix until thick and lump-free.
  4. Stir in the chopped pieces of walnut.
  5. Pour the mixture into a greased baking tray (33cm x 23cm) and bake in your preheated oven until it is cooked, but not dry – around 25-30 minutes. Leave to cool then dust with icing sugar or serve in a sundae with some Dennetts ice cream from our Love Local range.

Top Tip: Keep it local and substitute the instant coffee for some of our new member’s choice blend of Fairtrade coffee from Stokes!

Fairtrade banana choc-chip cookies

These cookies are choc-full of lovely Fairtrade ingredients including bananas, chocolate and sugar. That means that the people who produce them are paid a fair price for their goods – so they’re a naughty treat you can feel good about!

Even better they’re super simple, so why not get your kids involved in baking a batch?

cookies

You will need:

220g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
A pinch of bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
113g butter
100g Fairtrade caster sugar
35g Fairtrade brown sugar
1 egg from our Love Local range
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
125g mashed Fairtrade banana
175g Fairtrade milk chocolate, chopped up into small pieces

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, caster sugar and dark brown sugar, then beat in an egg.
  3. Sieve in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Stir in the vanilla essence and mashed banana, then fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Drop tablespoonfuls of the mixture on to greased baking trays, making sure to leave plenty of room between the cookies.
  6. Bake for 11-13 mins or until golden, then remove from the tray and leave to cool on a rack.

Say it right this Valentines’s Day

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there’s still time to think about how you’ll say “I love you” this year. Our florists have given us the lowdown on their top three bouquets to send the right message to whomever you want to surprise.

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Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just about your partner, it’s also a good excuse to cheer up your bestie or show your gran you care. Treat them with a beautifully simple hand tied bunch of fresh flowers as a sweet gesture, this could be from as little as £10-£15.

If you want your bunch to say something more, bump up your budget with a £25 posey of petals and a single red rose nestled in the centre. It won’t break the bank and it won’t break any hearts either.

For that truly special someone, show that they’re your one and only with a glorious hand tied bouquet of fresh flowers including three red roses. Traditionally giving three roses means ‘I love you’, the other flowers that come with them are just a bonus! At around £40, you’ll be number one on V-day with this option.

You can give something and get something back this Valentine’s Day with 10x dividend at our Florists ‘til Saturday 14th Feb 2015. Click here to visit our website…

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“I care…”

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“Something more…”

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“My one and only…”

Sweet treats and indulgent dinners…

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – and we think that applies to women too! Win your sweetheart’s affections with some lovely local products, perfect to serve up this Valentine’s Day.Valentines_Day_Chocolates_from_2005

Breakfast in bed

Woo your beau with a fabulous breakfast in bed – and what better start to the day than a yummy bacon sandwich? Our Lincolnshire Quality bacon is born and reared in the county, which means you’re supporting local producers as well as playing cupid! For a lighter option, try a slice of Gadsby’s bread, baked in Newark, with Jenny’s Jam a local spread made in Lincoln.

 Table for two

Restaurants on Valentine’s Day can be over-crowded and over-priced, so show them you care with a lovingly home cooked meal. Keep it classic with a local sirloin steak, buttery mash and a healthy dollop of Lymn Bank Farm’s Caramelised Red Onion chutney, washed down with fruity wine from Peaks Top Farm near Grimsby.

For a veggie option try a tasty vegetable curry made with Scunthorpe’s favourite Mr Huda’s curry paste – you’ll blow their socks off one way or another!

 Sweet treats

For an indulgent dessert, why not treat someone you love to a slice of tasty elderflower and lime cheesecake, featuring Belvoir cordial? There’s no baking involved, so it’s a quick and easy pudding.

Alternatively, try a luxurious white chocolate cake for a twist on a classic that’s sure to wow. It’s made with Fairtrade chocolate, meaning producers are paid a fair price for their goods.

There are plenty more recipes in the food section, so check them out to come up with your perfect Valentine’s Day menu, full of locally sourced goodness!