Thursday, 30 October 2014


Here are some old fashioned buns that are very tasty and stand the test of time.
They keep well too, for at least  3 or 4 days - but that is not likely!!! My cousin soaks the raisins in water that she brings to the boil, making the fruit plump and very juicy. While visiting her I asked if she ever added a drop of brandy to the liquid or used half fruit juice but she had never tried it!! Can’t see why not??? I love to build flavours so I intend to use half water and the juice of an orange, with just the merest splash of brandy. But plain water is good - after all she has been making these for an age…

Start by taking 8 oz raisins and place them in a small saucepan and just cover with some water and the juice of an orange or just plain water. See above! Gently bring to the boil, turn off the heat and allow to cool. Drain, then roughly dry on a few sheets of kitchen paper.

Makes about 20 - 22 buns

In a bowl:

1 lb SR flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon mixed spice.

Mix well. Then rub or cut in:

7 oz room temperature butter, until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.

8 oz Demerera sugar [turbinado]
Raisins - prepared

Mix well.
Bind with 2 large beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract and 1 or maybe 2 tablespoons of milk and bring together with your hand. The mix needs to be quite stiff allowing you to take rocky lumps that keep their rough shape, although they do spread a little.

Place these on a lightly oil baking sheet, well apart and bake in a fan oven 175 C for about 20-25 mins. Cool on a rack. Baking with the crunchy sugar adds a bite to the buns and the raisins are very juicy. My husband loves them!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

ORANGE & LEMON MARMALADE CAKE with a sticky marmalade glaze

Very zesty and fruity. Great with an cup of tea and freezes perfectly, this easy cake is just lovely and very light, with a hint of bitterness from the Seville Oranges.

You will need a 7” loose bottomed [preferably] spring form tin, oiled and the bottom lined.

In a saucepan melt:

2 heaped tablespoons of chunky marmalade [I used my own, made in January, when the Seville oranges were here]
5 oz butter
large handful raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

allow to cool. Meanwhile, in a bowl:

8 oz SR flour
pinch salt
pinch cinnamon
4 oz light muscovado sugar
zest of an orange
zest of a lemon

Combine well.

In a measuring jug:
The juice of the orange and half the juice of the lemon.
Milk to make up to 4 fl oz
Then add 1 beaten egg

whisk well.

Then mix all 3 together components and beat for a minute. Tip into your prepared tin and bake in a preheated fan oven 160C for about an hour, or just under, turning down to 150C for the last 20 mins approx.

Heat 2 more scant tablespoons of marmalade along with 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons icing sugar. Allow to bubble for a minute or two.

When the cake is firm to the touch and ready, take it out of the oven and immediately brush over the hot sticky glaze. Don’t concern yourself over the bits, it will add character to the cake! You can sprinkle over some demerera too, if you wish.

Cool in the tin for a little while then finish cooling on a rack as per usual. Just delicious.

A word on vanilla bean paste. I find it invaluable. It adds depth and flavour to most cakes.
Yes, it does cost about £6 but goes a very long way with a long shelf life. A keen cook’s secret ingredient! Less fiddly than scraping whole beans and a mile better than essence.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

FISH PIE from Boscastle

“Take some rock mackerel, fillet, and place in a pie dish, sprinkle breadcrumbs, then chopped suet and parsley. Repeat until the dish is full, then pour over milk and bake”

I quote from my old 1920s Cornish Recipes book. It all seems very straightforward. I am not totally sure what ‘rock” mackerel is, but am presuming ordinary mackerel.

I use whole milk, of course, as this recipe is very old and that is all they had. But I will use Vegetable Atora, although our forebears would have bought a whole piece from the butcher and chopped it themselves. Seasoning is not mentioned but I will assume they used sea salt and pepper, between each layer.

I use stale ish breadcrumbs from the end of my own loaf. I love breadmaking and never buy. My favourite everyday recipe is Paul Hollywood’s basic white. He is so good. I also like Allinson’s flour.

As I make the pie I am wondering whether to take the skin off? I think I will, along with checking for as many bones as I can. I also use the Atora sparingly, but lots of chopped parsley!  Now the baking time and oven temperature? I decide to use a hot oven [210C] and put my timer on for 30 mins., checking after 20. That was just perfect! This took 25 mins.

The result? I am eating it for my lunch! What a surprise - it was absolutely delicious! If you enjoy mackerel then you will love this! The milk had been absorbed by the breadcrumbs and fish, and the flavours merged wonderfully. Our forebears knew what they were up to!!!

The pictured small pie, enough for 2 with a salad, used 8 fillets.

Note: I imagine you could substitute a few little nobs of butter for the Atora.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Nutty Apple Date Cake

I just love this cake and have been making it for years - even when it is not Autumn!
I found it in a magazine and tried it out - perfect!! Of course, I started fiddling and adapting it to my own tastes!

Grease and line the base of a 8” spring form, loose bottomed tin. Your fan oven to 160C.

In a bowl place all your dry ingredients:

12 oz SR Flour
6 oz light muscovado sugar [essential for the taste]
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Then add:

4 oz chopped dates [I cheat and buy them already chopped]
3 oz roughly chopped hazelnuts [ok with skins on]
2 dessert apples, roughly chopped, skins on, cored.

6 oz melted butter
3 large eggs, beaten.

Finally whisk the butter and eggs together and add to the fruit mix. Mix well, then tip into your prepared tin. Level off the top.

Take a third apple and slice in circles to decorate the top, then sprinkle over some more hazelnuts, between the apple slices [I use blanched for this]. Pop this into your oven for approx 1 hour, better check after 55 mins though, until the cake is well risen and cooked. Test with a fine skewer - you know the routine. Cool on a rack.

Melt a little apricot jam or compote until hot and bubbling [in the microwave is easiest] and brush over the top of the apples and nuts for a lovely sticky glaze. Wonderful

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Autumn Sponge

Here is a very easy quick recipe! Using windfalls or any apples, readily available and cheap this time of year!! Most folk are giving them away if they have a tree! I love cakes using apples and this is the first of two of my favourites. Using simple plain ingredients to make the most delicious cake with a taste of Autumn. Slice it warm for dessert with a dollop of clotted cream! Mmmmm or custard. But equally good cold.

9 oz room temperature butter
9 oz golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract [not essence]
[or use 1 vanilla pod]
4 large beaten eggs
10 oz SR flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon [or a little more, if you like it]
3 small ish or 2 larger dessert apples [I used Cox’s], peeled and cored then cut into wedgies [cookers are good too, making a tarter taste]
demerera sugar to dredge the top

Grease, then line the base of a spring form, loose bottomed 8” tin.

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until very light and fluffy, then add the eggs, one at at time….. you know how to do that!! I like to add a teaspoon of the flour along with each egg to stop the mix curdling. Fold in the remaining flour then tip into the tin, very roughly levelling the top.

Push the apple wedgies halfway into the mix, going around the edge in a tight circle, then a few shorter ones in the inner circle, but not right in the centre. Make sure they are only pushed in about halfway. The mix will rise around the apple making a bit of a lumpy pattern. Don’t worry if it looks crowded either! The apples will soften and shrink. Sprinkle the top liberally with the cinnamon and demerera [turbinado] sugar and pop into a pre heated fan oven 160C for about an hour, maybe 5 mins more. Keep checking and test it is done with a small skewer. 

Just lovely, smells divine, so simple. And it’s in the oven in about 10 minutes!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Butternut Squash, Tomato and Sage Bake

This is just one of the best veggie dishes. Great with anything, or on it’s own and it can be prepped in advance. I will bring you more of my faves over the next few months - between cakes and Cornish recipes!!!  You need an oven proof serving dish to assemble and bake.

1 medium butternut squash, deseeded etc and the outer skin washed and at least partially removed [if the skin is good and clean, no real need].

Dice the squash into approx ½ cubes - but no bigger. Don’t worry about being exact.

1 large echalion shallot - or 2 medium
3 medium tomatoes or a doz cherry [or mixed types]
about 10 fresh sage leaves, chopped
small pot of double cream
a handful of fresh breadcrumbs
1 oz grated cheddar or mozzarella [I like the latter]
2 oz feta cheese [or goats cheese if you prefer]
1 teaspoon fresh parmesan
Rapeseed or olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Before you start cooking take your pot of double cream [150ml] and place ¾ of the chopped sage into it and heat it in the microwave on med high for a minute or so until hot. Allow the flavours to infuse and cool. [or use a small saucepan].

Heat a large pan with the oil [I love rapeseed] and fry off the squash until the edges have started to soften and colour.  Tip into your dish. Now chop the shallot and quickly fry in the pan. Mix with the squash. Chop the toms and add to the mix. Season well, especially pepper.

Tip the sagey cream over the veg, making sure the sage bits are evenly distributed.  Sprinkle over the grated cheese, parmesan, then crumble the feta, then the remainder of the chopped sage, then sprinkle over some breadcrumbs. More pepper! You can decorate with a few whole leaves too. This will sit quite happily in a fridge now for an hour or two until you bake it. Lots of pics on my Blog!

Pop into a preheated fan oven at 180 C for about three quarters of an hour. Allow to cool a bit before serving. My daughter loves it cold too.

I used a mix of different tomatoes from my greenhouse [red and gold] and my sage bush this year is a variagated variety. Looks a bit different but great taste.

This recipe can be easily doubled or trebled for a party.

I adapted it from a recipe I saw in the Good Food mag some years ago, although it now bears little resemblance to the original.

Monday, 6 October 2014


I have just returned from a trip, that included a visit to Lincoln, the home of my paternal great grandfather. His youngest son, my grandfather, met a Cornish lady and then settled in Stithians. I wanted to walk in his and his family’s footsteps. Lincolnshire Plum Bread is the most popular regional sweet dish from that area and as soon as I had time I wanted to try it!  This recipe is taken from a local book I purchased while in the lovely old city. A Taste of Lincolnshire.

The plums in the recipe are in their dried form - prunes!

This makes 2 small loaves: [easily halved for 1 loaf in a 1lb loaf tin]

1lb Strong Plain flour
pinch of salt
½ oz easy blend dried yeast 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
4 tablespoons caster sugar
2 beaten eggs
4 oz melted butter
4 oz warm milk
8 oz prunes cut into smaller pieces
2 oz sultanas
2 oz currants

Mix together the milk, eggs, melted butter, yeast, sugar, salt and spices. Add the flour and work the mix until it forms a soft dough. Knead until it is smooth and pliable.
Place in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and put to rise until double in size. [ish] Knock back and knead again, adding all the fruit until it is evenly distributed. Place in a lightly greased loaf tin and put to rise once more, until double in size.

Note: the rises are slower than for bread. 

Place in preheated oven 190C Mark 5  [175C for your/my fan oven]  for about 35-40 mins, taking the loaf out of the tin and putting it back in the oven for a further 5 mins. [I turned my oven down to 160C for this] Serve in slices, spread with butter. 

Just delicious - quite different from our Saffron Cake!! The spice combination coloured the dough and blended perfectly with the fruit for a different taste! I really enjoyed it! Not Cornish, of course!!!

Thursday, 2 October 2014


Mmmmmmm, so lush, rich and scrumptious. This cake is quite special. I found it ten or fifteen years ago in a newspaper and have made and shared it ever since. It freezes very well too! I do love cakes in the freezer, ready for guests arriving or when I am busy.

You need a 9” springform tin, oiled and the bottom lined. Your fan oven preheated to 160C

8 oz room temperature butter
8 oz caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 large beaten eggs
6 oz mascarpone
8 tablespoons milk
8 oz SR flour
4 oz desiccated coconut
6 oz glace cherries, halved or quartered

Cream the butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy - you know the drill!
Add the beaten eggs, one at a time, then the mascarpone and half of the milk [use a proper measure]. 

Now fold in the flour and the coconut and enough of the remaining milk until you have a soft dropping consistency. Then finally the cherries.

Tip into your prepared tin and roughly level off.  Bake for 1 - 1¼ hours

Just a perfect cake. I do not think it particularly needs decorating but you can if you wish!!
I often sprinkle a little more coconut over the top before popping into the oven. Whatever.