Friday, 15 December 2017

Liz P’s Hummingbird Cake

A delicious and different fruity cake, extremely moist and full of tropical flavours. This recipe was given to me some time ago by a Bridge friend, who lives in Truro, although the recipe originates from Australia or the US, I believe. Thanks Liz for this scrumptious recipe, it is virtually all in one and is a doddle to make, great as a dessert and freezes like a dream. Ticks every box for me. Brilliant as a Xmas dessert!

Liz suggested making it in a 23cm [9 inch] square tin, so that is what I have generally done, but it is equally good in a round, as I have done here.

Butter and line the base of your tin and pre heat your fan oven to 160C

450 gr tin of crushed pineapple, drained as best as you can.
¼ of a cup of the reserved syrup
3 oz gr SR flour
5 oz gr plain flour
½ teaspoonful bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoonful cinnamon
½ teaspoonful ground ginger
7 oz soft light brown sugar
2 oz desiccated coconut
1 cup mashed over ripe banana 
2 large beaten eggs
6 fl oz sunflower oil

Sift the flour and spices in a large mixing bowl. Add the drained pineapple, syrup, coconut, banana, eggs and oil. Mix well and pour into your prepared tin. Done!

Bake for approx 50 mins, checking the top is not browning, if so turn the temperature down a tad.

Cool then decorate with this lovely frosting:

3 oz soft cream cheese
1 oz softened butter
1 teaspoonful vanilla extract
8 oz icing sugar
a little coconut if you wish
grated lemon for the top [I also use a teaspoonful of the juice with the icing sugar] a little lemon zest over the top.

Mix together and roughly cover the top, using a spoon to make little troughs. Just scrumptious.

Monday, 11 December 2017


Wow, I love this, slathered with butter, of course. Us Cornish have always eaten it and didn’t we call it yuma? I am not sure if that is the correct spelling though. It is surprisingly easy to make, in fact it’s a doddle, but needs maturing before biting into the soft, malty, sticky, fruity dough. Mmmmmm. And the smell, oh my word.

You will need a small loaf tin, buttered, with parchment up the sides and hanging over. This will help lift it out as well. 

Pre heat your fan oven to 160C

9 tablespoons malt extract [135gr]
2 tablespoons treacle
2 oz soft dark brown sugar
150ml strong black cold tea
8-9 oz dried fruit. Raisins, figs, even better, soft prunes
9 oz flour - half plain, half wholemeal [no need to be exact]
3 tsp baking powder
large pinch salt

Mix together the wet ingredients and sugar, in a medium bowl, then add your choice of dried fruit. If using prunes or figs [lovely] chop them into raisin size pieces. This will happily soak for an hour or two.

Stir the flours, salt and and baking powder into this fruit mix and stir well to make a soft gloopy dough. Tip into your prepared tin and bake for about an hour.

Cool, then wrap in baking parchment and place in an airtight container and leave for at least three days!!!! The top may sink, a little - don’t worry!! it is supposed to.

Slice, butter, enjoy. Is there anything better?

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Caramel Nut Cake

A very different, delicious and impressive cake, using a strange ish method, I have taken it from the 1970’s Talking About Cakes. Making the caramel is quite tricky but OK if you take your time and follow the simple rules. But trust, me it is worth it, for this scrumptious cake.

Line a 8 in loose bottom spring form cake tin and pre heat your fan oven to 160C

⅓ of a cup of soft dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons very hot water

Cake mix:
6 oz butter, softened
10 oz caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
3 eggs
12 oz plain flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
1¼ cups milk, pref whole milk
½ cup chopped walnuts

Start off by making the caramel. Put the soft brown sugar in a small saucepan and on your lowest setting, heat gently until liquid. No need to stir but it will take 10-15 mins. Do not turn up the temp! Stir in the hot water, adding it gradually [and carefully] and when all dissolved and bubbly, set aside to cool. This sounds easier than it is. As you add the water [over the heat still] it will go lumpy. Keep stirring and it will eventually turn into a smooth, glorious thick caramel. It will cool fairly quickly, so get the creaming done before you add the water., as well as everything else assembled.

Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and then gradually beat in the cooled caramel, along with the whisked eggs. Then add the flour and BP alternatively with the milk until well mixed and finally the nuts. Tip into your prepared tin and bake for apron 1¼ hours, maybe a fraction more. If too brown turn down after an hour. Cool on a rack.

Fudge Icing:
2 teacups soft light brown sugar
½ cup milk
1 oz butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

When the cake is cooled prepare the fudge icing. Place the sugar, milk and butter in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring all the time, until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and let it bubble away until a little piece, when tested will form a soft ball. [this will be about ten mins - but there is no need to stir constantly]. Add the vanilla and beat until it thickens, cool for a bit then ice the cake. Decorate with walnut halves if you wish or sprinkle with chopped walnuts, as I have done..

Just delicious and very special. Worth the effort!!

Saturday, 2 December 2017


Don’t be scared of Choux pastry. It is dead easy and very quick, especially for nibbles. This is a post war recipe from a book entitled The Art of  Cooking, issued in the early 1950s by Stork margarine. There are some great recipes in the book, but these days we would use butter, of course. I rarely, if ever use margarine now. Great party or picnic food, or just to eat. If you follow this, you cannot go wrong, trust me.

CHOUX pastry: This recipe makes 2 doz cheese buns or similar. I often make ½ the mixture. From start to baking takes less than ten mins.

Pre heat your fan oven to 180C. Prepare a well buttered baking sheet. [or two]

In a medium saucepan place:

¼ pint water
4 oz butter

Bring these just to the boil then remove from the heat, then beat in, with a wooden spoon:

5 oz sieved plain flour and a pinch of salt [and pepper] 

Return to a low heat and beat until the mixture forms a ball. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until moderately warm. [5 mins] Then beat in, one at a time:

4 eggs
[if using for a sweet dish you can add a little vanilla extract or bean paste at this point too, but not the salt and pepper of course]

You can use a piping bag to pipe the round bun shapes, but just spooning equal amounts is good too. Make sure you leave room for them to expand. They blow up like little puffs of magic.

Bake for about 30 mins then cool on a rack. When they come out of the oven pierce each one quickly with the point of a cocktail stick to let out the steam. 


8 - 12 oz cream cheese - I used Philladephia Light
2 oz very soft butter
pinch cayenne pepper [if you like it]
1-2 tablespoons warm milk, if necessary
salt and pepper
like me, you can add chopped herbs if you wish, eg esp chives.

Beat the cheese and butter together then beat in the seasonings. If very stiff add some warm milk.
Split the buns in half and fill with the cheese filling, or use a piping bag. I like them split to show the cheese and herbs.

I also like to lightly dust with smoked paprika, but there is no need.
Just scrummy, they just melt in your mouth.

NOTE: the pastry is good to fill with chocolate or cream. Just leave out seasonings.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Coconut Jam Slices

Another simple old recipe from the WI Ladies. You just know your are guaranteed a great result when using their old recipes. I am sure many of you who are from my generation will recognise this as something their Mum, Gran or Aunt made. We loved the slices and my friend Jeny who came to visit as they came out of the oven gave them 10 out of 10 and ate 3!

You will need a 12” x 9” Swiss roll tin, buttered. Pre heat your fan oven to 160C

8 oz SR flour
pinch salt
4 oz softened butter
3 oz caster sugar
1 small egg, beaten [or half a large]
3 tablespoons red, preferably raspberry, jam
4 oz desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon milk

In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour and salt, then rub in the butter, adding 1 oz of the sugar. Bind with half the egg and a little cold water, to a stiff paste. Chill for ten minutes. Roll out the pastry to line your prepared tin. The dough is soft and it is easy to spread with your hands. I used a teaspoon to neaten the edges. Spread over the jam, generously. I used three headed tablespoons.

Mix together the coconut and remaining sugar , then moisten with the milk. Sprinkle over the jam, pressing down very lightly.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes, turning the tray now and then. Cool then cut into slices. Makes approx 24.

Just so scrumptious.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Orange and Chocolate Chip Buns

Another recipe from the Ladies of the WI, circa 1960s. A lovely combination of flavours we take for granted these days, but this was almost 60 years ago! I used a 70% cocoa solids chocolate and roughly chopped it, as they would have done, making the batter full of flecks.

The recipe makes about a ten large buns [in small muffin cases]

Line your bun tin with paper cases and pre heat your fan oven to 170C

4 oz butter
4 oz caster sugar
2 egg
6 oz Self raising Flour
2 oranges, zested, one of them juiced.
4 oz Bournville Chocolate, cut into small pieces

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs. Fold in the sieved flour and finally add the chocolate, zest and enough orange juice to give a soft dropping consistency. Spoon into the baking cases and bake in your pre heated oven for 10-15 mins.

Note: I have doubled the original amounts as I realised this would make very small buns. My husband would think I had lost the plot.

While these buns were lovely as printed in the old book, I thought it might be a good idea to cut the lids off and mix a little of the remaining orange juice with some butter and icing sugar to make a filling and butterfly the lids.. Another time….

Absolutely delicious.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Old Fashioned Treacle Tart

Yes, you can probably guess this is an old WI recipe. One of my daughter’s favourite desserts. Of course, we Cornish don’t mean treacle, we mean golden syrup, but somehow it does not trip off the tongue as easily!! This old version is not as sweet as modern day tarts and I like the lemon zest undertones.

You will need an shallow 8 inch flan tin, loose bottomed is easiest of course, buttered. Pre heat your fan oven to 190C. Or for authenticity, use an old fashioned pie plate, as I have done.  The base cooks wonderfully with them.

All butter Shortcrust pastry. Bought is good, but see my own recipe at the bottom of the page.

Roll out your pastry and line your pie plate. Chill while you prepare the filling. Roll out the remainder in an oblong and cut into thin strips, ready to make a lattice pattern.

9-10 tablespoons golden syrup
3 oz fresh white breadcrumbs [from a stale loaf]
grated zest of a lemon
1 dessertspoonful lemon juice

Place the syrup in a small saucepan with the lemon zest and juice and the crumbs. Gently heat until just melted and runny. Cool.

Pour the treacle mix into the pie dish, then make a lattice pattern with the oblong pastry strips. Yes, it is fiddly and mine is not perfect. Bake for about 30 mins, turning down to 170C ten mins before the end of baking time.

Serve with lashings of custard or clotted cream - or as my husband does… use both.

Just wonderful.

Shortcrust. I never do it by hand. In a food processor, place:

8 oz plain flour, 5 oz cold butter, cubed and a tablespoon caster sugar. Pulse, until it resembles  fine breadcrumbs. Add one egg yolk and 2 tablespoons cold water. Pulse again until it comes together.  Lightly knead and place in a poly bag to chill for ten mins before using.