Friday, 29 May 2015


Doesn’t this sound weird? But beetroot is great in cakes, making them moist with a lovely colour. This is so good and very easy, although I will admit to it being a little messy! I do hope you will not be put off by the title and have a go. My daughter reckons this is one of the most delicious cakes ever. The recipe is from my folder collection but I have several versions of cakes using beetroot. I might make another, one day! As well as some made with carrot and courgettes. All great in cakes.

Lightly oil a 2lb loaf tin and line the bottom with some parchment. I also add a long strip to hang over the sides to help lift it out. Preheat your fan oven to 160C.

You will need about 9 oz of fresh cooked beetroot, cooled, peeled, then grated.
This is the messy bit. I had 3 medium sized beetroot, that I had boiled for 1½ hours and they came to 8½ oz after peeling.

8 oz self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
mixed spice to your own taste - I used ½ a teaspoonful, but more is good too
scant 8 fl oz sunflower oil
8 oz golden caster
4 large eggs, beaten
4 oz sultanas

In a mixing bowl place the flour, BP and spice then stir in the grated beetroot and toss it all around.

In a large jug, mix the oil, sugar and eggs and lightly whisk together. This is best using a hand electric whisk. Then pour it into the flour and beetroot along with the sultanas. Mix well then tip into your prepared tin. Pop this into the oven for about an hour and ten minutes, turning the oven down slightly if browning too much.

How easy is that? Smells wonderful. Tastes amazing too.

Monday, 25 May 2015


A sort of Cornish delicacy! These scrummy little tarts are called by several names in other parts of the country but here in Cornwall they are always Congress Tarts. Then there is the debate about whether they have coconut in them or not. From what I have heard and read, either is good! It’s up to you. Our tarts in Cornwall often have thin crosses across the almond mixture, cut from the pastry.

While it is OK to use bought sweet shortcrust pastry these days, nothing is so satisfying as making your own! I use a food processor, which is a doddle. So I will start off with the 
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry recipe. This is a little rich and quite crumbly, so must be handled with a little care. But it is light and delicious. 

Pastry, especially shortcrust, needs a cool atmosphere and cold hands. Cold ingredients too. And it must not be over handled or it will be tough. Make it just before you need it and do not make a large batch as it will be too difficult to handle.

Makes 12

In a bowl or a processor, place:
8 oz plain flour
large pinch of salt
1 tablespoon icing sugar

Pulse for 5 or 6 seconds.

4 oz chilled butter, roughly cut into little cubes. Pulse for a few more seconds, or cut in.
Add 1 large egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of chilled water. Pulse until it just forms into a ball.

Transfer to a surface and lightly knead, until it is just about smooth. Roll into a little ball then chill for an hour. Take it out of the fridge and bring to room temperature for 10 mins before using.

I start off by dividing the ball of pastry up into portions. Then you only roll out the piece once, reducing handling. You need it fairly thin [I think the depth of a £1 coin] but this pastry will patch very easily and do not worry as it will not show when it is baked! Line your bun tins with the pastry, using a plain or fluted cutter, then chill again.  Roll out some of the remainder and cut into thin little strips for the crosses. This is easiest with a clean ruler and sharp knife.

Cover the bottom of the tarts with some Raspberry jam, a large teaspoonful - seedless or ordinary? Decisions, decisions. More pics on my Blog.

In a small bowl, place:

3 oz ground almonds
3 oz self raising flour
3 oz caster sugar
3 oz very soft, almost melted, butter
almond essence
2 small beaten eggs
flaked almonds to scatter, if you wish. I didn’t this time

Mix it all together, then cover the jam with a large heaped teaspoonful, making sure no jam is showing through. Some folk often scatter a few almond flakes at this point. Finally put on the crosses and bake in your preheated fan oven at 180C for about 20mins.

Note: in olden days, ground almond was very expensive and so the quantity was often halved or substituted with ground rice. I haven’t used that, but many of my older likers may remember their mother using it. So, if you would like a taste of the past, then by all means use half ground almonds and half ground rice.

Another note: Some also incorporate a little desiccated coconut into the almond mix. There are so many variations!

There is ample pastry here and I had some left over to make jam tarts!

Thursday, 21 May 2015


This is a very very old dish and when I came across the recipe in a little book, found that it was well over a hundred years old [pre1908, probably around 1890] then when I gave it to my husband for his evening meal, he immediately said that he recalled the taste and had eaten it as a child. It uses up left over roast pork, so would have been a Monday supper dish [wasn’t Mondays washing day??].

I will give you the quantities for two people.

Cold Roast Pork slices - quite thinly sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
½ teaspoon plain flour
¼ teaspoon dried sage
1 dessertspoon vinegar
¼ - ½  pint brown stock [I used a beef stock pot]
1 apple finely chopped

Fry the onion and sage in a little oil [the recipe suggested dripping] until nicely brown. Season and add the flour and vinegar [I have no idea why there is vinegar in the recipe!!] Stir to thicken, then add the made up stock, then the apple and finally the pork slices.
Simmer for 30 mins.

It was incredibly delicious! I might add, the pork was even tastier than plain roast with veg!
I will be making this regularly from now on! I love old recipes.

History Note: This recipe came from a little Lemco book, lent to me by Marlene from Falmouth. I Googled Lemco and found out it was the original name for Oxo and before the Lemco brand was introduced it belonged to an company in Uruguay called the Liebig Extract Meat Co., established in 1865. This company developed beef stock as we know it today.

Lemco became Oxo in 1908, so the little book is pre that date. The Lemco name was used for 24 years. So the book was printed after 1884.

Sunday, 17 May 2015


This lovely recipe was given to me by my friend Margaret, who lives in Crowlas and it came to her from her great aunt Beattie from Paul, near Mousehole. Beattie [Jordon] has long since passed away but her recipe lives on.

In a saucepan place:
4 oz butter
8 oz mixed fruit - anything you want
a cup of strong black tea

gently bring to the boil then set aside until almost cold. Add:

8 oz SR flour
4 oz sugar - anything you fancy. Caster or light soft brown.
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 large egg

Mix well and pour into a prepared tin. I lined the bottom and used a 6 inch round.
Bake in a preheated oven 150 deg C for 1 ¼ hours.

A really yummy moist fruit cake, with an unusual flavour. Thank you Margaret.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015


I love cakes made with apple. This is another cake from one of my clippings folders, collected many years ago. It really is a lovely cake and is very good eaten warm, as a dessert, if you wish, with lots of clotted cream! Custard is good too. It is a good keeper and stays soft and moist for several days.

Preheat your fan oven to 160C and lightly grease and line the base of an 8” cake tin. You can use a 7” and the cake will be a little deeper. Just increase the timing.

You will need about 6 oz of grated apple - this is about one very large Bramley cooker.
So 2 smaller ones, but always a cooker type. When grating, use a small bowl with a little lemon juice, plus you do release a fair amount of apple juice, so give it a little squeeze before adding to the cake mixture. 

6 oz butter, softened
6  oz golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
6 oz self raising flour
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
a little milk, if necessary

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy - you all know this routine! Add the beaten eggs, one at a time, along with a little flour with each addition to stop it curdling. Add your grated apple, then the flour and cinnamon and mix well. If you think it is too stiff add a drop or two of milk. I think this often depends on the size of your eggs. I didn’t need to.

Tip the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for about 50-55 mins, until just firm to the touch. Lovely. Such an amazing cinnamon smell as you take it out of the oven! Comforting and homely.

Leave in the tin for ten to fifteen minutes, then cool on a rack. Just dust with icing sugar, it needs nothing else.

I do hope you enjoy this wonderfully soft cake. 

Saturday, 9 May 2015


This is so scrummy and very easy to make. It is tasty warm or cold and easy to reheat if you want to make it beforehand. I just pop it into a microwave. How can just a few ingredients taste so good? If you have a nifty mandolin the dish is a doddle. But in the olden days you would have had to have a sharp knife and a good eye! I have an Oxo Good Grips one and use it for so much. You can get them in Lakeland for a few pounds. See the photo on my Blog.

Butter well an 8” tin - but not a loose bottom one. Not too deep either. Preheat your fan oven to about 175C

You will need about 3lbs of King Edward potatoes or similar. They must be the floury type.

Peel the potatoes, then thinly slice them. You will end up with well over 2lbs.

2 oz softened butter
a handful of finely chopped fresh parsley 
Seasoning. For a dish like this I use sea salt flakes and fresh ground mixed pepper

Place a nice even layer of potatoes on the base of the buttered tin, [this will be the top, so I try to be a little careful with this layer!], season and then dot with butter. I think it is best if you just almost melt the butter and roughly brush some over. Sprinkle with a little of the parsley.

Repeat this a few times, [I had five layers] seasoning well, as you go, until your potato is used up. Press down each layer, when you add the potato, as you want a firm, solid “cake”. Butter the top layer and season once more, leaving out the parsley on the top, then tuck a sheet of tin foil over the tin and pop this into your oven to bake for about 30 mins. Take off the tin foil and continue for a further 30-40 mins until you think the potatoes are soft when you carefully test with a sharp knife. Check after 30 minutes though.

Leave to cool for a few minutes then place a flat, heat proof, serving plate over the top of the tin and quickly turn it over. If the bottom has not browned yet pop the cake under a hot grill for a couple of minutes. Delicious and so versatile.

Note: you can add very finely chopped shallot if you wish. You can also use fresh chopped thyme leaves or even a sprinkling of chilli flakes or powder. In fact the variations are endless. But plain is perfect too.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015


Many folk ask me which is my favourite cake - or more precisely, my husbands? He would live on cake if I let him!! When I started my Blog/FB just over eighteen months ago, this cake and the accompanying photograph was used to promote it. I have had the recipe forever but have no memory where I got it. Such a deliciously moist cake that is so easy to Bake!!  It was the first recipe I posted on my Blog and I have passed it on to many friends over the decades. Very handy for a standby as it keeps in a tin for up to 4 weeks. You start off with…….

A can of crushed Pineapple! 

Place this [Del Monte 435 g] in a large saucepan, along with
4 oz butter
1 cup of caster sugar [or golden caster]
1 lb mixed fruit
some peel and cherries to the weight of about 4 oz [or more fruit]
1 level teaspoon of cinnamon
1 level teaspoon mixed spice

Gently bring these to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 5 mins then allow to cool for about an hour, maybe a little less. [if desperate I have done it in 30 mins, but be very careful]

Now add:
2 cups of Self Raising flour
2 large beaten eggs

Tip into a prepared 8" tin or also cooks well in a 2lb loaf tin. This is often easier to slice. Whatever! I generally line the bottom as well. This recipe is so adaptable and behaves perfectly.

Bake in preheated fan oven 140 deg C for 1hour 45 mins or ten minutes longer for the loaf tin.  Check the top and turn down the temperature for last 15 mins.
Although scrummy as soon as it is cool, it does improve in a day or two.

I love using cups as a measurement and they are readily available for a pound or two. Very handy. Enjoy!

Friday, 1 May 2015


I collect recipes - most especially cakes!! I am one of those saddos with lots of folders where I store clippings, cut from papers and magazines! I must have about twenty of them by now!
This unusual cake is yet another, taken from this treasure trove of recipes. The paper is now yellowed, testament to the time it has been in there! It is deliciously rich and moist and freezes like a dream.

This cake uses an old fashioned block of dates - years ago that was the only way dates were sold! They are still available and I have used a packet here, but other types should be OK - but not those tossed in added sugar.

You will need a 1lb loaf tin, lightly greased with the bottom lined and I put strips of baking parchment into the tin and hanging over the sides to help lift it out. Preheat your fan oven to 140C.

10 oz of dates from a block
3 oz butter
grated zest from one orange
¼ pint fresh orange juice [from the orange and then I used 2 clementines. I also added as many “bits” as possible]
2 oz light muscovado sugar
4 oz self raising flour
large pinch of bicarbonate of soda
3 oz chopped walnuts or pecans - I used half each

In a medium saucepan place the dates, roughly cut up, the zest, juice, sugar and butter and slowly warm up - but do not bring to the boil. Stirring occasionally, cook until the dates are soft and the mixture resembles a soft paste. This will take about ten minutes. Allow to cool for about 20 mins.

Add the flour and bicarb, then the chopped nuts and mix well. Tip into your prepared tin and bake for about 45 mins. Cool in the tin for 15 mins, then continue on a rack.

So good. Will keep for several days in an airtight container.