Thursday, 18 April 2019

Fruit and Walnut Tart

Yet another lovely dessert idea from the WI ladies. Super easy and failsafe. You can make it even easier if you use ready made all butter shortcrust or even buy a ready made pastry case. I made my shortcrust, which I have posted many times before and lined a medium fluted flan tin. Serve warm with lashings of clothed cream. Or custard. 

Make/buy your all butter shortcrust and line the flan tin, chill while you prep. Pre heat your fan oven to 180C

4 oz butter
6 oz soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
8 oz mixed dried fruit
2 oz chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon vinegar

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter then stir in the sugar to dissolve. Add the beaten eggs, vinegar, dried fruits and walnuts. Mix well and tip into your prepared pastry case. Bake for 30 mins.

How simple is that! Absolutely delicious too. Equally as good when cold.

Note: I have no idea why the vinegar is in the ingredients. Any ideas?

Friday, 12 April 2019

Vienna Shortcakes

While I was visiting friends and rellies “up country” recently, I met up with the family of my dear old friend Atty, who used to live in Falmouth. Atty sadly died three years ago but her cookery books and recipes live on. Over the next year or more I will be passing on many of them to you as I trawl through her books, many of them now back in Cornwall with me.

I will start off with a simple recipe, just delicious and these teatime treats can be served in two ways - with a dob of jam in the centre or with almond. I used the almond.

You will need a 12 hole bun tin and bun cases. A piping bag with a large star shape nozzle. Pre heat your fan oven to 170C. Makes 12.

In a bowl, place:

8 oz softened butter, beaten until very soft.
a little vanilla extract
3 oz icing sugar

Beat together until very soft.

6 oz plain flour
2 oz cornflour

Work the flours into the butter, then fill your piping bag.

Pipe a large round swirl into the paper cases, add a whole blanched almond or a small amount of jam in the dip in the middle, then bake for about 20 mins.

Dust with more icing sugar when almost cool. So buttery and melt in the mouth crumbly. Delish,

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Once A Year Cake

I am now passing on to you this very special recipe, kindly given to me by Chris, and this wonderful and unusual recipe was given to her by a friend who was born in Bodmin and it was her mother’s recipe, although neither knows where she found it. Chris, who lives in London, believes it is 60+ years old, maybe even more and was named “Once A Year” as it would have been very expensive to make, and I can confirm, a lot of work, especially in the prep and clearing up department! But don’t those layers look stunning? It can be used as a celebration cake as well as a family fruit cake. I left it for my husband to munch through, while away. Chris tells me it is a good keeper.

You will need 5 bowels, butter and line a 8-9” cake tin, although Chris tells me it can be made in a 8” square too. As with your Xmas cake, tie a double layer of thick brown paper around the outside of your tin.

8 oz glace cherries
8 oz almonds, blanched and cut into strips [not flaked]
the grated zest of an orange 
12 oz raisins and currants mixed
8 oz glacé pineapple. see note:
2 oz angelica
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg or Mixed spice
10 oz plain flour
8 oz  softened butter
8 oz caster sugar
6 medium eggs

Basin 1 - place your cherries, halved 
Basin 2 - place your almonds slivers with the orange zest and cinnamon 
Basin 3 - place your raisins and currants, with nutmeg or spice, stir to mix
Basin 4 - place your chopped pineapple and angelica

In a mixing bowl, cream your butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition, then fold in the flour.

Divide this mixture evenly into the 4 basins  [approx 9 oz each] and fold in.

Spread the cherry layer over the base, cover this with the almond layer, then the raisins and currants layer and finally the pineapple. Level off each layer as best you can without mixing them together. The mix is fairly stiff as each layer is stuffed with fruit!

Bake at 120C for 1 hour, then reduce the temperature to 110C for approx a further 2½ hours. I covered after the first hour. To test, is it firm to the touch? Then by inserting a fine skewer into the cake and if it comes out clean you are there!

Cool in the tin for an hour, then remove. Pierce the base with a fine skewer or needle when cold and sprinkle over 2 tablespoons brandy. Allow to dry for a short while then wrap in parchment and foil and store in a cool dry place until you need to decorate.

Or hang on for a day or so and just eat it!

Baking is gas mark 1 for 1 hour then reduce to ½.

Glacé pineapple is not freely available and when it is, very very costly. Of course you could make your own but it takes a month. I used dried pineapple, that I soaked for a few hours in a mix of runny honey and brandy. Seemed to work OK. The angelica was hard to find too so I got it online, but would imagine you could easily get it in a large supermarket.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

King Arthurs’s American Fruit Cake

Not a medieval recipe from Camelot! King Arthur is one of the main flour brands in the US and this is their recipe as sent to me by a cousin over there. You will note it uses some different fruits and ingredients, but trust me, it is absolutely lovely. In fact I will go so far as to say, it is one of the best fruit cakes I have ever made! It IS that good. It keeps for between 6-8 weeks too, and is incredibly moist. The photo here was taken 6 days after baking. The original recipe was double the size and uses an ingredient that we don’t have here - dark corn syrup, so I have used golden syrup in its place.

The Fruit: 
Place in a medium, glass or plastic bowl….
4 oz dried pineapple
5 oz raisins
2 oz dried chopped apricots
4 oz chopped dates
3 oz glacé cherries, chopped
2 oz crystallised ginger
3 fl oz brandy or rum [or fruit juice]

Mix well. Place in your microwave for 1 minute or until hot, then stir again and cool.

Pre heat your fan oven to 130C, butter and line a 8” spring form tin or a large loaf tin.

4 oz softened butter
7 oz soft dark brown sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
7½ oz plain flour [King Arthurs!]
1 dessertspoon cocoa
1½ oz golden syrup
2 fl oz cranberry juice or apple juice
4 oz chopped toasted nuts - I used hazelnuts and walnuts

Prepare your ingredients. Chop the nuts. Mix the spices, cocoa, salt and flour and sieve together.

Cream the softened butter and sugar, Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Add the syrup and juice and fold in the flour mix. Finally add the fruits, any residual juices and the nuts. Tip into your prepared tin and level off.

Bake for approx 2 hrs. The cake is done when a fine knitting needle comes out clean Cool in the tin for ten minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Now brush the warm cake with more brandy or rum. When cold wrap up and store at room temp for 6-8weeks OR leave for a few days and tuck in. I waited 4 days before I took the above photo, my husband chomping at the bit, waiting to get to it.

Note: If you are Cornish born and bred, you will probably have dozens [or more] cousins and rellies in the US, especially if they lived in the west of our County, as mine did. The siblings of great, or great great grandparents went over when the mines ran out, esp from the 1850s onwards. [or more or less greats]. I love genealogy and am a worldwide member of Ancestry so have found, visited and am in contact with dozens of them. Many come over to stay, when I show them around the home of their ancestors. Last summer my cousin Christine [from Long Island] and I sat in the kitchen, drinking tea, of a farm near Zennor built by my 7 x gg grandfather [one more for her] in 1599. Very special. What are you waiting for?

Friday, 8 March 2019

Pork and Bacon Loaf

I liked this idea as soon as I read about it in a WI book and could not wait to try it, although I have adjusted it. My husband is generally happy being a guinea pig as long as it is nothing fishy. We loved it and I served it with a herby cheesy sauce, veg and roasted baby potatoes. Left overs was equally good, cold the next day.

You will need a 1lb loaf tin [good non stick], well buttered. Pre heat your fan oven to 160C

12 oz lean pork shoulder, chopped very finely
6 oz lean back bacon, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
½ a leek, finely chopped
½ teaspoon dried sage and a pinch of dried mixed herbs
1 small beaten egg
a little sea salt and plenty of fresh ground pepper.
4 oz fresh breadcrumbs from a good loaf, left to go stale
a small eating apple, peeled and finely chopped [with a little lemon juice to stop it going brown]
2 fl oz apple juice or cider
a level tablespoon grated parmesan

Mix the meats, crumbs, onion, leeks, seasonings and herbs etc and bind the whole with the egg and cider. Tip into your prepared tin, pressing it down evenly. It should come almost to the top. Cover the mix with a little foil and find something in your cupboard to act as a weight and leave for half an hour. Cover with some buttered foil.

Bake for 1½ hours, removing the foil 15 mins before the end. Leave in the tin for a short while to settle before inverting it onto a serving plate. You can pop this under a medium grill to lightly brown if you wish. Leave to rest for ten mins before slicing. Yum Yum.

1 oz butter
level tablespoon plain flour,
½ teaspoon dried mustard
½ pint milk [full cream if feeling indulgent]
grated mature cheddar
chopped parsley to taste

Melt the butter in a small pan, stir in the flour to make a smooth paste, add the mustard, then the milk, whisking the whole time until coming to the boil and nicely thickened. Stir in the cheese and finely chopped parsley

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Banana and Poppy Seed Loaf with a  Zesty Cream Cheese topping

A really lovely loaf cake, from the WI.  So moist and utterly delicious, especially the topping. Make sure your bananas are really over ripe. The easiest all in one ever!

You will need a 2 lb loaf tin, buttered and lined with some parchment. Hang it over the sides and it will help you lift the cake out. Pre heat your fan oven to 160C

6 oz SR Flour
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoonful baking powder
2 tablespoonfuls poppy seeds
6 oz soft light brown sugar
3 beaten eggs
6 oz butter

This is so easy! In a large bowl, tip everything in and beat well. Pour into your prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour. Leave in the tin for a few minutes then cool on a rack.


6-7 oz cream cheese
2 tablespoonfuls icing sugar
zest of an orange

Mix the above together in a small bowl, then when the cake is cold, spread over the top, sprinkling over some more poppy seeds and a little more shredded zest.

Just delicious. But then you knew that, didn’t you!

Thursday, 21 February 2019


The queen of all Cornish cakes, instantly recognisable as part of Cornish culture and cuisine and much loved by everyone Cornish. Within my 1920s Cornish Recipe book by Edith Martin there are about ten versions. Years ago I discarded most, all have to be halved or quartered as our forebears made huge cakes! In the end I ended up using the recipe from the Falmouth area. But make no mistake, this cannot be rushed, and from start to finish I reckon it is close to 5 hours. Of course there is very little hands on time.

Saffron cakes are denser and heavier than buns, so they keep longer. My buns are very light and spongy. The fat content is far greater here than buns, the sugar content less too. This should make it heavier, and there is about half the quantity of yeast as well. The cake keeps very well for about 3-4 days.

While you can make one very large cake, I would rather use the quantity below and make two, using two small 1 - 1½lb loaf tins. Then freeze one. 

1 lb 2 oz strong plain flour
2 oz very finely chopped mixed peel
½ lb currants - I use at least 10oz - I hate hunt the currant
4 oz lard
3 oz butter
2 oz castor sugar 
generous pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
warm whole milk - about 9 fl oz with a teaspoon sugar
generous ½ oz fresh yeast. OR I generous heaped teaspoon Quick dried yeast, using a proper measure  [or half sachet dried ie about 4 gr].
saffron - depending on quality and how saffrony you want it.

Wrap the strands of saffron in some baking parchment and put them in a barely warm oven for 20 mins. Then, using a rolling pin crush the dried strands still in the paper, becoming powder like. I then generally add a few extra strands.

Rub the fat into the flour, salt and nutmeg, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then just add the rest of the dry ingredients, including the Dried Quick yeast if using. Mix well.

Warm the milk and a little sugar to tepid and stir in the fresh yeast if using and saffron, leaving it for a while until it starts to froth a little. Made a well in the mix and pour in the liquid, bringing it all together with your hand and then tip it onto a floured surface and begin gently kneading until the mix is smooth. Just a few minutes, maybe 5.

Cover and place in a warm spot to prove. Do not expect it to double in size, like bread or the buns. The old 1920s book suggests “put a warm plate on it and stand it in a warm place until the mixture raises the plate”. That’s all I have ever had to go on!! I leave it for a couple of hours, then kneaded again for a minute and put it in your lightly oiled loaf tin[s] to prove again for an 1 - 1½ hours. In winter, you might a tad longer.

Preheat the oven to about 160C. My old book suggests 1¼ hours for large cakes and it takes all of that.  But I turned the oven down to about 150C after half the time.  For two smaller cakes, I bake for a total of about 50-55 mins, turning down to 150C after 20-25mins. The taste test? Absolutely delicious. Quite different from buns, much heavier. The big plus is that it takes no time at all, of actual work. Then the even bigger plus is that the cake is still moist and equally delicious the following day. Day 3 - the cake it still good.

The original picture is 5 years old and my photography has improved since then, so I have re baked and taken some new pics. I am reposting and slightly adjusting the write up as I now think it better to make two cakes with that quantity.

Just the most fabulous bake. Enjoy. But be patient.

Note: I now often use saffron powder and bring it back from Spain or there is a fab spice shop just inside Borough market if you are visiting London. I love Borough Market, great for foodies.