Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Moist, easy, one step cake. So full of intense flavour and you can easily tart it up for a special occasion. But I just mix up some icing and pour it over…. I cannot tell you how yummy it is. You will just have to try it! I have been baking it for years and have passed it on to so many friends…..

You will need a food processor or large blender

Take 1 juicy orange. [it should weigh about 6 - 7 oz] not one of those very thick skinned ones.  Chop the two nobbly ends off and then quarter it roughly, making sure you don’t lose any of the juices. Ditch any pips.

Put the orange in the food processor and blitz until it is mush. Skin - everything.

6 oz SR flour
6 oz caster or light muscovado [ for a darker even yummier cake]
6 oz soft butter [do not THINK of using marg]
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 oz ground almonds 
3 eggs.

This is your basic 6 6 6 3, sponge mix, I know.

Blitz until smooth - just a few seconds.
Tip into a prepared 9 inch tin - I line the base of a springform.

Bake at 170 deg C in your fan oven for approx 30 minutes.
Cool and decorate. It is just great dusted with icing sugar, or ice it and grate some orange zest over. You could of course go OTT and use fresh cream and orange slices for a special dessert.

I used light muscovado.

Saturday, 22 February 2014


This is as close as we get to basic Cornish peasant food, probably eaten in some form for hundreds of years. I have no idea what the term “Kiddley” means, although I have heard it may mean kettle. I have seen many versions of this “recipe” but I believe it always starts off with the basic onion broth and bread chunks, then each family would add their own touches of seasoning and herbs. I have even heard of marigolds being added.

My old book has a few versions but I go with the one that suggests I boil several onions.
I opted for about a mid size pan, half full of cold water and added a large onion, split, a red onion and a couple of echalion shallots. You will not get a lot of flavour by boiling this for half an hour. Surely our ancestors would have a crock over the fire simmering for days…. So I started 24 hours beforehand, simmering and reducing the onions until bed time then started again in the morning, planning to eat the Broth for lunch. 

I bake my own bread, so I cut off a very thick slice and very lightly toasted it and cut it into large chunks. I went into the garden in the pouring rain and picked some chives [the things I do for this Blog] and chopped them along with some parsley.

The pan of onions had turned into a thick gloopy mush and I strained the liquid into a basin, pushing through the goodness and flavour of the onions. The liquid was a mid brown colour and smelt quite good.

I took a basin to serve the Broth [unfortunately I do not have an old china one] and tipped in the bread chunks, seasoned them well with lashing of pepper [as suggested] and salt.
I poured over the strained onion broth and generously sprinkled over the herbs.

The taste test? I ate it all. Quite flavourful and tasty. The broth soaked in the bread, making it lovely and oniony. I would not like to live on it, but all in all - not bad. Would be better if I added a veggie stock pot. But that would be cheating.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


I love Burgers - Homemade ones, that are thick and juicy, with lashings of fresh herbs, well seasoned, 100% beef [maybe just a little chopped shallot too] with just a little egg to bind. Well done on the outside [very hot pan] and just cooked inside. Perfect. For ages I was looking for a perfect bun. My nephew John was bringing his girlfriend to visit us in Cornwall just before Xmas and so I set about researching and baking. I was going to bake the perfect burger bun.

I thought that a Brioche type, made with egg and slower to rise, should be my base. They are so soft, should be a little sweet too. So, I did a little experimenting…..

1 lb Strong Plain Flour
2 scant teaspoons fine sea salt
1½ oz room temp, softened butter

3 tablespoons tepid milk
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 sachet of fast action yeast [or 2 teaspoons if from a tub, using a proper measure]
1 large egg, beaten

Sesame seeds for the topping
another egg for brushing

In a bowl, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Meanwhile put the milk, sugar and yeast in a jug along with 8 fl oz of tepid water and mix. Leave it, until it starts frothing, then add to the flour along with the beaten egg and bring it all together. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead. The mix is pretty sticky but try not to add too much more flour. Less flour used, the softer the buns. So just use the barest amount to stop the dough sticking to the worktop, it will take a good 9-10 mins of kneading, until smooth and when you poke it with your finger the dough bounces back slightly. Or if you are lucky enough to have a KichenAid or similar, let the machine do the work. Return it to your bowl and cover it with cling film and put in a warm spot, until double in size. [Between 1 - 2 hours]

Now weigh the dough and decide what size buns you want. This will make about 8, BUT if you are making BIG burgers [I like 5 - 6 oz] and are loading it with everything but the kitchen sink then go for 6! Get a calculator and divide by 6 [or 8] and cut the dough. Give each piece of dough a light knead and shape into a lovely round ball then place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, giving room for each to rise again without touching. Set to rise once more, covered with lightly oiled cling film. About an hour.  Then brush with another beaten egg and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds. Put a dish of water on the bottom self, set the oven to 200 deg C. Bake for about 15 mins, until golden brown. Will freeze and can easily be doubled. Just wonderful and well worth the effort for a special meal.

Friday, 14 February 2014


“Take some dough of bread, after it has risen”, so starts the recipe for this old Cornish cake. I love yeast cookery, so this is right up my street!

“and work in [i.e. “pitch” in] some goodness [fat]. currants and sugar. Let it rise again for a short time and bake”

That’s it. No quantities or method, of course, but by this time I am used to that! I just use my Cornish common sense and it has not let me down yet!

I made my bread as usual [1lb flour] and after the first rise, spilt it in two - one half for the Pitchy Cake and the other for a small loaf. I generally use Paul Hollywood’s basic White Loaf recipe for day to day use and find it easy and reliable. I am also very lucky to own a KitchenAid that does all my kneading for me.

Knocking back the bread, after that first rise, I flattened it as best I could, then dotted over about a good ounce or more of softened butter. Sprinkled over a large tablespoon of caster sugar and then currants to cover, probably a couple of ounces. [see photo on Blog]

I brought the ends to the middle and turned it over, making sure all the currants were sealed inside, then gave a light knead to distribute the filling, then smooth it out into a circle and placed it in a lightly oiled 6” cake tin for the second rise.

My fan oven is turned to 210 C for the bread and I presume I bake it alongside that.
I always brush the top of my loaves with cold water and dust with flour before placing it in the oven so went ahead and did that too, with a dish of cold water in the bottom of the oven to create a steamy atmosphere, then put the timer on for 30 mins as usual.

As I type, I am awaiting the result! 

Well, what do I say…. my husband popped back for lunch and ate ¾ of the cake….. [he has a dreadful sweet tooth]. Nuff said!! I will be making this regularly from now on. Why did it die out?

I think I will try it again soon, trying light brown sugar. Cannot see why not. But caster is good.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Add caption

Clotted Cream Lemon Shortbread Biscuits

Cornish fare is always so sinful and full of calories!! These biscuits, thinner than regular shortbread, are wonderful, zesty and rich. Really easy too. Makes 12 and easily doubled.

6 oz sifted plain flour
2 oz unsalted softened butter
2 oz clotted cream 
2 oz caster sugar
few drops vanilla
zest of a small lemon

topping - very very finely chopped glace lemon peel, mixed with some granulated sugar.

In a bowl place the butter, zest and cream, sugar and essence then beat for a minute or so. Gradually add the flour a little at a time, first with the wooden spoon then using your hand halfway through. Bring it all together, then place on a floured surface and roll out to under a ¼ in thick. Work it as little as possible.  Have ready a lightly buttered baking tray and I used a 2½ cookie cutter.

Place the cut biscuits in the fridge for between 20 - 30 mins to harden then lightly prick the tops with a fork and sprinkle over the chopped sugary glace lemon. Place in a preheated oven 150 deg C for 30 mins. Cool on a rack. Yum Yum.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Baked Chicory in a Ham wrap, with a cheesy sauce.

Let’s have a modern recipe for a change! I am betting very few of you have ever used Chicory as a vegetable and I was amongst you, but my friend Atty converted me!!!! I always thought it was very bitter and just a salad ingredient. But that is not true. It is delicious cooked and I love it!

The bitterness is in the core and when you take a thin slice off the bottom of the chicory, the core is exposed and with a sharp pointed knife, cut around the clearly visible ring and it pops out. Bitterness gone.

Chicory heads [often called endive].1 for a starter or lunch, 2 for a main course per person

Take off any loose outer leaves and remove the bitter core. Steam or cook the veg for about 30 mins in water with a little added lemon juice. Drain. Stand the chicory upright in a colander allowing all the moisture to leave. This is essential as you do not want watery sauce. When cool enough to handle, sprinkle over a little of the obligatory grated nutmeg, wrap each chicory in a slice of good quality baked ham, off the bone. [beware of added water and check, must be 100% ham]

Make a white sauce. Now I cannot tell you how much to make because it depends on how many you are doing. But allow ¼ pint of sauce for 2 heads. Just in case there is someone who doesn’t know how to make a roux [basic white sauce]  I will write it out for 1 pint quantity.

Melt about 1½ oz butter in a small saucepan, take off the heat and stir in 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour. Mix to a smooth paste. Gradually start adding 1 pint milk, a little at a time at first, keeping the paste smooth. I use a small wooden spoon for this but some use a whisk.
When there is no danger of lumps tip in the rest of the milk and put back on the heat, stirring all the time, until thick and bubbling. Cook through for a minute or two. This is your basic sauce. If you want it thicker add more flour, thinner less etc. Add cheese too for a cheesey sauce, mustard too.  If you can make this with your eyes closed!! - you can cook. Back to the Chicory.

Make up ¼ pint of sauce for every 2 heads. I grated in some cheddar and my usual sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Then I grated some fresh Parmesan over the top too.

Bake for about 30 mins at 200 deg C. Absolutely scrummy. Chicory tastes like a mix of white cabbage and leeks mixed together. With not the slightest hint of bitterness. Perfect with ham and cheese! Hope you try it and let me know what you think!!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014


I admit, I had never heard of this dish or - to my shame - ever heard of St Colon, the small village where it seems to have originated. St Colon lies just off the road between Indian Queens and Newquay, east of St Columb Major. Even more shameful - I had to Google it!

In my old Cornish Recipes book, they call this a “a very good supper dish”. I do not think there is any definitive recipe or quantities for the main ingredients of Potato and Onion plus seasonings.

I quote “ cut up enough raw potato to fill a frying pan”. Off I go.
When a recipe tells me to chop potato, there is only one way I would do it!!! As if I was making pasties! I am a Cornishwoman after all.

I used a large onion, sliced and quickly fried it off in a little butter and oil mix, until just coloured, then added the potato, plenty of seasoning and covered with boiling water as instructed. I used a floury potato, King Edward. Do I use half and half? I really do not know so used 1 large onion and 3 King Edwards. Then I could not resist adding some parsley - surely my ancestors would have added some herbs? [Not sure I have any ancestors from St Colon though].

I stirred it through a couple of times and left it to simmer and gently bubble away, uncovered to absorb the water. I sprinkled on some more parsley near the end and lashings of fresh ground pepper and some sea salt flakes.

The taste test? It was very good. How can you go wrong with potatoes and onion?
I will make this again and the Jowdle would be just great as a side dish with a chop, steak or chicken.  But I bet it would be even better using a little veggie stock instead of just water…..

But what does Jowdle mean? Where does this word come from? St Colon? These days, just Colon.

Sunday, 2 February 2014


A GREAT CAKE - 250 year old recipe

So reads the legend in my old Cornish Recipes book and fourth [and last] in the fruit cake mini series! This cake originates from St Mawgan on the north coast and is culled from an old recipe book dated 1763, so is over 250 years old.  Believe it or not, I have divided the quantities by 10!! The old recipe started off by telling you to take 5lb butter, brought to a cream. The tin and oven must have been HUGE!!

Of course, there is no given method, so I am winging it, as per.

8 oz butter
8 oz flour [must be plain?]
5 oz white sugar
1¼ lb currants
2/6d worth of perfume - well how do I divide that by 10!
Peel of ½ orange [zest?]
2 fl oz of Canary - this is an old sweet wine from the Canaries.
1 fl oz rosewater
4 - 5 eggs - “half ye whites”. The recipe says 43 eggs!!!!
2 oz citron

Where do I start? I think I will ditch the perfume :) and use a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Also replace the Canary with Madeira, a fortified wine that is rich and sweet so would be similar. I will use a creaming method and an 8” lined tin. I believe the separate egg whites would probably be whisked before adding [as a rising agent?]. Not the first cake [Seedy] using this method that I have baked from this book.

I creamed the butter and sugar then added 2 large beaten eggs, then the orange zest and flour and Madeira etc. The eggs I have are large, so I whisked to soft peaks a further 2 eggs, then folded them into the cake mix. Finally adding the currants and peel. I set my oven to 140 Deg C [a guess] and tipped the mix into the prepared tin with crossed fingers!

As I type, it is smelling wonderful! As stated in the recipe it has all the ingredients for a Great Cake - and very Cornish. Can’t wait.

I baked it for 2¼ hours, turning the oven down to 120 for the last 30 mins, then checked with the high tech knitting needle test. It was perfectly cooked. Not bad for a 251 year old recipe! It was a good cake - but could have done with fewer currants. I liked the lack of spices too, for a change. Nice texture and not too sweet. Could this be a forerunner of our fruit cakes today?

But how did they cook the monster original quantity? Their ovens, or ranges had little temperature control. How did they stop the outer edge getting black? I am so pleased I did not live in those days.

We return to savoury in a few days!