Monday, 28 September 2015


This is another delicious recipe from my rellies in South Africa. It really is the most scrumptious cake!! It is quite large, so is easily halved. I made the full quantity as per the original recipe and had to use a 9” round tin and that was full to the brim! Half the amount in a small loaf tin would be equally as good, but adjust the timings.

Such wonderfully indulgent ingredients! No wonder it is so good!!!

Lightly oil, then line the base of your chosen size tin. I used a 9”. Preheat your fan oven to about 165C.

8 oz softened butter
11 oz caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste [or extract]
3 large eggs
15 oz SR flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 oz melted 70% cocoa solids chocolate [this is me, not the recipe!]
125 ml sour cream
3 mashed bananas [4 if small]

Cream the butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the mashed bananas, followed by the melted chocolate. Fold in the remaining dry ingredients and the sour cream, until well incorporated.

Tip into your prepared tin and bake for 1 hour or until firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for a bit before turning out.

Well, what can I say. Just brilliant.

Now I am not a fan of heavily decorated buns and cakes. The ingredients should speak for themselves without the showy decorated over sweet toppings. In my view this needs nothing except a light dusting of icing sugar, or I often use a sprinkling of flake for that extra chocolatey hit.

Thursday, 24 September 2015


About three months ago someone asked if I had this recipe? I found it in my 1920s Cornish Recipes book, so a few days ago I decided to make it, when my friend Jeny was coming for lunch.
The recipe comes from Boscastle and I will quote the ingredients and method.

4 or more mackerel [I used fillets]
2 chopped bay leaves 
6 cloves
blade of mace
spring of thyme
1 onion
10 peppercorns
salt and vinegar

“clean and prepare mackerel and arrange in a pie dish, chop the onion and parsley and sprinkle over the fish. Add other ingredients with salt to taste. Pour over sufficient vinegar to cover well and bake in a moderate oven for 40-50 minutes. When cooked, put the fish carefully on a dish and strain the vinegar over them. Leave until cold and serve”.

All this sounds very straightforward. My freezer is full of mackerel as my husband and son in law love to go off sea fishing. Last Sunday I saved all the best large fillets.

I follow the instructions. Please see photos on my Blog. But I use a shallower dish, so that the fillets are not piled up too much. I also intend to reduce the timings slightly as I think that might be for whole fish. A moderate oven is approx fan 160C. [I am a saddo with a chart inside one of my kitchen cupboards!]

I decide to boil and reduce the vinegar before spooning over the fillets too.

note: I am presuming that I should use malt vinegar. I have no blades of mace in my cupboard so left that out and used a pinch of nutmeg instead! I used one stalk of parsley and mixed peppercorns.

The end result? So soft and flavourful. I loved it. Proper old Cornish fare.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015


I found this lovely cake recipe on a scrappy piece of paper, with the [partial] recipe scrawled over it! The paper was aged and fragile and the paper was tucked in an old folder, under another old recipe. Someone must have passed it to me decades ago and then I filed it away for future use!! I have absolutely no idea who gave it to me! Luckily it is now firmly in my repertoire and my husband, who loves honey, is addicted to it already!

Lightly oil and line the base of a 8” spring form cake tin. [you could use a 9” for a slightly shallower cake, but you may have to adjust the timings] Preheat your fan over to 160C

This cake does require a certain amount of preparation! Chopping raisins is a sticky, laborious task! Hey ho!, it took me about ten minutes, in smallish batches. But is essential for the yummy sticky nutty texture of this cake! It is sooooo worth it!

8 oz softened butter
6 oz soft light brown sugar [this was my choice]
¾ cup honey
3 large eggs
12 oz plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or extract
4 oz chopped nuts [I used pecans and walnuts]
8 oz chopped raisins
a little milk to mix

The cake is made using the creaming method, but then I had to guess the cup size? Was this before the recognised measures? I decided to use the proper cup measure, but in the end only used ¾ of a cup because a whole cup seemed such a lot! I used ordinary runny honey.

After creaming the butter, vanilla and sugar. Add the beaten eggs, one at a time, beat in the honey then add the dry ingredients and finally the fruit and nuts, adding a little milk if you think it needs it. I used about 2 dessertspoonfuls.

Tip into your prepared tin and bake…. I had no timings or temperature. But plumped for fan 160C. After half an hour or so, turning down to 140C. It was just perfect and firm after 1¼ hr in total. 

Very yummy and so delish. 

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Caramalised Onion, Thyme and Goats Cheese Tart with Thyme Pastry

This is my most favourite tart and I will never tire of making or serving it. [that also means eating it!] The smell of the onions cooking with the thyme is just wonderful. I found the filling recipe in an old magazine, that I was reading while having my hair done many years ago and tore it out! If you do not want to make your own pastry, you can buy an all butter shortcrust, then add the chopped thyme while rolling out. But if you have a food processor it is so easy and it takes longer to wash the equipment afterwards than actually making the pastry.

I baked this tart in a 9” loose bottomed fluted flan tin.

The Thyme Pastry:
6 oz plain flour
3 oz cold butter
1 egg yolk
couple of pinches of mustard powder
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
some very finely chopped fresh thyme [no stalks, about a dessertspoonful]

Cut the butter into cubes, then tip all the ingredients into your processor along with 1 tablespoon of very cold water. Pulse for a few seconds, until it is like breadcrumbs then tip onto your lightly floured surface and bring it together into a ball, wrap in cling and chill for at least half an hour. I like just a little longer.

4 sliced onions
2 large eggs
150 ml double cream [thick cream]
finely chopped fresh Thyme - about a dessertspoonful]
Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper
150 gr soft Goats Cheese
3 or 4 whole Thyme stalks to decorate

Meanwhile, slice the four onions. Slice, do not chop. [see photo on my Blog]. Heat about 4 tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil in a large fry pan. Tip in the onions, then sprinkle over some demerera sugar [about a dessertspoonful]. On a med-low heat cook for about 45 -50  mins [slowly does it, to release those sugars], adding another large teaspoon of chopped thyme just over halfway through. Stand over the pan and just smell that aroma!!!!! Season. Set aside to cool when cooked. 

Line the flan case with the thinly rolled pastry, patch where necessary. Don’t panic if it is not perfect. It is easy to patch. Prick the base with a fork. [see photo on my Blog] Chill again in the fridge, then line with scrunched up baking parchment and baking beans and bake in a preheated fan oven 180 C for about 15 mins. Remove from the oven and take out the parchment and beans and bake for about another 5 mins.  Place the tart on a baking sheet to help you lift the eggy mix into the oven. This can be done beforehand.

Turn the oven down to about 150 C.

Tip the onions into your tart. Slice a 150 gr roll of Soft Goats Cheese and place over the onions. Whisk the eggs and cream together, season, then pour the eggy mix over the onions and cheese, sprinkle over some more fresh ground pepper [I use mixed, but with red predominant], then decorate with a few thyme stalks. Very carefully lift into the oven and cook until firm, about 25 mins.

Just yummy. Warm or cold.

Saturday, 5 September 2015


This is a very special and different cake! So soft, with such a delicious texture and flavour. This unusual recipe was given to me by a rellie on my recent travels in South Africa, hence the cinnamon! The original recipe was shown with a decorated topping but personally I do not think it needs it, a dollop of clotted cream alongside would be much nicer!! But then I am Cornish through and through. The frosting is just as unusual, so I have added it. I have made the cake twice now and used the topping on the second. My husband, who has a very sweet tooth, loved it!! You choose!

3 ½ oz oatmeal [medium]
generous ½ pint boiling water
Start off by adding the water to the oats and set aside for a while to cool and absorb all the water.

4 oz butter
9 oz soft dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
2 large eggs
7 oz SR flour
small teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
large pinch of baking powder
generous teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt

Cream the butter, vanilla and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time. Add the dry ingredients then finally the oatmeal. Mix well until the porridge is combined

Tip into your prepared large loaf tin. I place a wide piece of parchment across the short side to help lift it out. Bake for about 50-55 mins at 160C, turning down to 150 after 30 mins. Cool on a rack.

Meanwhile…. heat your grill


2 oz butter
2 fl oz evaporated milk
3 oz soft dark brown sugar
2 oz coconut 
3 oz chopped nuts. I used pecans, but only cause that is what I had, and I do like using them for baking.

Melt the milk and butter then add the sugar until melted, stirring continually until bubbling. Then add the coconut and nuts. Spread over the top of your cake and pop under the grill while still hot.

WATCH IT ALL THE TIME!!! toast until brown and very bubbly. Mine took about 4 -5 mins. But I continually checked it. I also placed it on the rack furthest from the elements.

Just absolutely delicious.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015


We all love After Eights! Once I open a box, I unfortunately can’t stop. So I never buy them!!! Except at Xmas, of course. So I got the idea of using Chocolate and Peppermint Extract to give you that wonderful flavour in a cake. I also love cakes made using oil and buttermilk. I wasn’t even sure this would work! Trust me… it does, with bells on.
Pre heat your fan oven to 160C. Lightly oil and line a 9 x 9 inch [about] square brownie tin. Leave plenty hanging over the sides to help you lift it out.
8 oz SR flour
2 oz dark cocoa powder  [Use Green and Blacks - it is so good]
1 small teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
large pinch salt
3 fl oz sunflower oil
7 oz caster sugar [I used golden caster]
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
4 fl oz buttermilk
4 fl oz strong black coffee [cooled]
1 teaspoon of Peppermint Extract. [I bought it in Asda]

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarb, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar until well combined - about 1 minute. Best to use a hand mixer for this cake. Whisk in the egg, vanilla and peppermint then continue whisking until it is paler and quite light, maybe 2 minutes. Add the buttermilk and cooled coffee, whisking on a very low speed as it will be quite runny now. Lastly, still on low speed, mix in the flour, until just combined, then continue with a metal spoon. You need to be careful as you do not want to knock out the air you have carefully whisked in! Then pour the batter into your prepared tin and pop it into the oven for about 40 mins.

Leave in the tin for a few minutes, then cool on a rack.  I inverted the cake to remove the parchment and the peppermint flavour hits you right away! You can cheat and buy a frosting in a tub or, like me, make a light chocolate Butter icing with a few more drops of the peppermint, to decorate. You could also use some After Eights, cut or broken! I don’t have a box, it’s not Xmas