Thursday, 26 February 2015


I have been making this cake for over 40 years, I reckon! It is so easy, a child can easily make it and my daughter cut her baking teeth with it, many many moons ago. It is soft and spongey with the most scrumptious flavour and keeps well for a few days, not that you will need to. I always ice it and top with assorted nuts. The mix of banana and nuts along with the sugar hit, goes perfectly.

Pre heat your fan over to 150C and grease and line the bottom of a 8 inch spring form tin.

6 oz softened butter
6 oz caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
3 medium ripe bananas - I used 2 very large ones. Or you may need 4 smaller ones.
3 tablespoons milk 
1½ teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
9 oz SR flour
3 eggs
icing sugar and assorted nuts

Very easy, using the creaming method. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, add the beaten eggs, one at a time [I also use a teaspoon of the flour with each egg].
Mash the bananas with a fork then add to the mix. Dissolve the bicarb in the milk, then add that too, along with the flour. Mix well and place in your prepared tin. Bake for approx 1 hour. I usually turn the oven down to about 140C after 45 mins. How easy is that?

Make up the icing, using just water or along with a drop of rum. Pour over the top of the cooled cake, then top with nuts. For the above cake I used blanched hazelnuts, flaked almonds and brazils. Very handy to use up left over packets in your cupboard. Just delicious. One of my family favourites! I never tire of making it and they never tire of eating it!

Sunday, 22 February 2015


Another iconic traditional Cornish recipe whose roots are lost in the memories of our forebears, but this version stems from the older folk of Newlyn East - and that was in the 1920s! But they reckoned it was taught by the Phoenicians when they mined here. Who knows? But it is surely evidence of their influence. Squabs were originally pigeons [sometimes cormorants were also used] but these were replaced by mutton a long long time ago…..

I am using my 1920s book, of course, and the ingredients “are according to size of the pie”.  I made a fairly small one - see photos on my Blog, feeding 2 or 3.

I could not get “mutton chops, with bones and fat removed” :)  so plumped for lamb leg steaks. The recipe also suggested boiling the bones for stock. I used a stock pot!

You need - Lamb, Apples, Onions, Currants, brown sugar, mixed spice, salt, stock. Pastry for crust.

I quartered and sliced a medium onion, peeled and quartered 2 apples and tossed them in lemon juice to keep their colour. Then assembled the rest.

In your pie dish, place a layer of lamb, a layer of sliced apples. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Then a layer of onions. Season well - I also used fresh ground pepper as well as sea salt.
Then a layer of currants, sprinkling over a little mixed spice. Another layer of lamb and finish with another layer of apples. Season once more and pour over some stock.

I do not have a “slow fire”  with which to boil the dish uncovered for 1½ hours. Maybe they needed that long because the mutton may have been tough! I popped my pie into my oven uncovered for 45 mins at 150 deg C.

Then I took out of my freezer a portion of Easy Peasy Puff Pastry [as used in Figgy ‘obbin].

The ingredients are a strange mix, I must admit and I have no idea what it will taste like, but as I type the smell is wonderful! 

I prepare and roll out the crust to top the squab pie, but allow the pie to cool for 15 mins before placing the pastry. Pop a slit in the centre then bake for about 30-40 mins at 200 C.
The book said 1 hour but these days our puff pastry cooks more quickly in our hot ovens.

This dish tasted very different, and a strange mix of sweet and savoury! My ‘guinea pigs” tucked in, [I served it with mashed potatoes and green beans] and thought it very unusual, the sweet ingredients overpowered the lamb and onions but not unpleasantly so, my husband who has a sweet tooth enjoyed it!

Thursday, 19 February 2015


The title is a misnomer and there is no coffee in the ingredients - rather, it is a cake made to eat with a cup of coffee. This wonderful tray bake is taken from the cookbook ‘United Cakes of America’ and as promised, from time to time I will bake some of the recipes for you. All very different from our usual, English/Cornish cakes! I do enjoy baking something different now and then!! European settlers took their traditional recipes with them, when they settled in America and this type of cake is a mix from Germany, Netherlands and Scandinavia whose folk settled on the east coast.

If you live in Cornwall this would be great for The Great Cornish Cake Bake Day on the 6th May! In aid of the Children’s Hospice. Get organising and baking!

Grease a 9” x 13” tin, at least 2 inches deep. I also placed strips of parchment that hang over the sides to help lift out. Preheat your fan oven at 150C.

The cake is prepared in 3 parts:

The filling:
4 oz light soft brown sugar
2 oz caster sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
pinches of salt and ginger
4 oz chopped walnuts
Just combine the whole and set aside.

The streusel topping:
3 oz soft light brown sugar
2 oz caster
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
Pinches of salt and ginger
2 oz butter
2 oz plain flour
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and rub in the butter, until even. Set aside.

The Cake:
4 oz butter
12 oz caster
3 oz light soft brown sugar
3 large eggs
4 fluid oz milk
4 oz sour cream
15 oz plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt

Cream the butter and sugar until evenly mixed [with a mixer is easiest], add the eggs, one at a time. You will need to keep scraping the sides down. Then alternately add the wet and dry ingredients until everything is incorporated. Mix well for another 30 seconds.

Tip half of the mixture in the bottom of your prepared pan, then carefully spread over the filling, then very carefully place little dobs of the cake mix over the filling and spread out with a knife, without disturbing the filling. Finally tip over the streusel topping. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the cake bounces back when poked. Cool in the tin for 5-10 mins then carefully lift out. What a delicious bite!

Sunday, 15 February 2015


This is another recipe from the Gwinear Parish recipe booklet. And a most unusual recipe as well! It is incredibly light and zesty, and fat free, not to mention absolutely delicious! I took this photo and within a couple of hours it had disappeared.

4½ Self Raising Flour 
1½ teaspoons of baking powder

Sift the above and set aside for a moment.

In a smallish bowl place:
3 egg yolks [I used large]
5 oz caster sugar
4 tablespoons of cold water
1 tablespoons of grated orange zest [I used one very large orange]
1 teaspoon lemon essence [I used a few drops of lemon extract - much stronger]

Whisk the above at high speed until well blended and light and airy. 3 - 4 mins.
Fold the flour into this mixture, very carefully, by hand.

In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks until stiff along with:
¼ teaspoon of cream of tartar 
½ a teaspoon of salt. 

Then carefully fold the other mixture into the egg whites, using a cutting motion, ensuring you don’t knock back any of the air.

Pour the mixture into an UNGREASED 8 x 8 x 2 inch tin. [my square tin is 9 x 9, so I used that]. Bake in a preheated fan oven 165C for about 25 mins until firm to the touch.

Now comes the really weird bit….. Invert the cake tin over 2 tins of the same height [see pic on my Blog] until cold. Just holding it suspended by the sides or corners. I presume this is to stop it sinking and retain as much air as possible in the cake. It really works!!

When cold, turn it over and loosen the sides with a sharp knife to remove. I used a bendy spatula to loosen the base which came clean away.

Ice with orange butter icing or just grated orange. Or even whipped cream. Whatever!!

Cut into squares to serve. Just lovely. My next post will be another, very different, tray bake from the US!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


This old traditional recipe is taken from the Gwinear Parish recipe booklet, although I have seen and heard of similar dishes used by our forebears. One alternative used mixed vegetables only, like carrots and swede, along with onion as a cheaper alternative. Still tasty, I am sure. Our ancestors knew how to feed a family and they did love bacon. When I served this to my husband he immediately recalled the taste from his childhood as a dish his mother and grandmother used to make, although he commented that the bacon was thicker then. His family were farmers and they would have cured their own bacon, then taken off slices to their own liking.

Make a suet pastry:
6 oz plain flour
3 oz shredded suet [our ancestors would have grated it from a whole piece]
Salt and fresh ground pepper
A little cold water to mix a soft, but not sticky dough

On a lightly floured surface, roll this out into a rectangle, approx ¼ inch thick, then trim any excess. 

Meanwhile, take a large ish onion and finely chop, then fry off until soft and browned on the edges, then cool.

Along the pastry, widthwise, [see pic on my Blog] lay slices of lean streaky bacon [about 8 oz], then cover with the cooled onion. Season well with lots of fresh ground pepper and add some chopped parsley if you wish. I am sure our forebears would have!

Dampen the edges and roll up loosely, like a swiss roll. Place on buttered or oiled foil, secure the top and twist the ends, to make it leak proof. [like a big, but loose, Xmas cracker], then place it in a large saucepan, with enough water to come halfway up the parcel.

Gently simmer for 2 hrs, or steam for 3 hrs, before serving with a green veg.

Taste test? My husband, unsurprisingly loved it, but I would only make this very rarely, because of the high fat content. He does love old traditional Cornish food. 

The above will serve about three or four. 

Saturday, 7 February 2015


Here is a novel idea that I picked up from my Wisconsin cousin’s FB page. She had picked it up from a friend, who had shared it, but they had used US type packet cake mixes. I will anglicize it and use a proper English type sponge topping, with a few added bits!! So delicious and such a great idea! 

You will need a large 12 hole, non stick muffin tin, well buttered. In a small saucepan heat 1oz butter and 3oz soft dark brown sugar and warm through until the butter has melted and the sugar just about dissolved. Place a teaspoon of this buttery mix in the bottom of your muffin holes.  Cut tinned pineapple slices into 4  [that have been drained well and dried on some kitchen paper], so that 2 pieces will fit into the bottom of the holes. Place half of a glacĂ© [or dried] cherry between the pineapple pieces.

In a bowl place:

6 oz butter
4 oz golden caster
6 oz self raising flour
3 eggs, beaten
teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
small teaspoon of mixed spice
1 tablespoon milk

Mix well for a couple of minutes, much easier with a hand held electric mixer. Fill each muffin hole until about ¾ full. The above quantity will make 12 large muffins. I had a small amount left over when I filled mine, but tins do vary in size.

Bake in a preheated fan oven 170C for about 25 mins. Allow to cool for a minute, then place a cooling rack over the top of the buns and quickly turn it over, then tap the bottoms with a spoon to make sure the fruit drops. 

I made these last Sunday morning and they went like a flash! Absolutely scrumptious. I am  making them again this weekend! 

Tuesday, 3 February 2015


This recipe, requested by Julie, is from my 1920s Cornish Recipes book [I am lucky enough to own a signed copy by Edith Martin], inherited from an aunt. It is a very Cornish recipe, using only currants, which is quite different. I do hope this is the cake you remember your Grandmother baking, Julie!

As usual there are few, rambling instructions, no oven temperature and even one of the basic ingredients has been omitted! So I am using my common sense to piece the jigsaw together.

The ingredients as stated are:
2 eggs, well beaten 
½ lb butter [melted]
½ lb soft dark brown sugar. The sugar has been omitted, so I guessed soft dark.
¾ lb flour [this will be plain flour] - more on this later
1½ lbs currants
½ teaspoon mixed spice
heaped teaspoon carbonate of soda [bicarb, I presume] 
½ pint warmed stout or porter [see photo on my Blog]
[read recipe for extra 4oz SR]

The method given in the book, duplicates and contradicts itself unfortunately, so I will try to decipher as best I can.

To the melted butter [but do not boil] add the sugar, eggs and porter. I decided to whisk the butter and sugar for a minute or so, before adding the eggs and porter. By now it was a very sloppy mess and I was quite concerned! Add the flour, then the remaining ingredients.
It was still very wet and I decided that it needed another 4 oz of flour, so added some SR, rather than more plain and bicarb. That improved it and looked just about normal. The recipe added that it must be mixed for ten minutes! [it looked good after 4 or 5]. 

The recipe suggests dividing it into two or three tins and bake in a moderate oven for 
2 - 2½ hours. I do not want to fiddle with 3 small tins, plus a moderate oven is fan 165C. No way, it would burn within an hour.

I tipped the lot into a oiled 9” cake tin and crossed my fingers as I placed it in my fan oven, preheated to 140C. I reduced the temperature to 130C as soon as it appeared set, about an hour. I checked after 2 hours, but reduced it again to 120C for another half an hour or so. But all ovens are different. I also loosely covered the cake with a piece of foil after an hour to stop it browning too much.

This recipe is from Tresillian, near Truro and it says that this cake will keep for a very long time.