Friday, 18 March 2016

Light Sultana Cake

Variations of this recipe have been around forever, it is such a wonderful standby fruit cake.  I tweaked it to my own tastes many years ago. The fruit is lush and moist after soaking in the tea overnight and it keeps well for at least two weeks in an airtight tin. Well, I have been told it does, but in my house there would be little chance of that happening.

You do need to think ahead and soak your sultanas the day before.

1 lb bag of sultanas [500gr]
HOT black tea

Place the sultanas in a bowl and cover with the hot tea. [this is where I often add a splash of something alcoholic too] Drain before using, if there is any liquid left. There won’t be a lot.

Butter and line an 8” spring form tin and preheat your fan oven to 130C

7 oz softened butter
4 oz caster sugar
4 oz soft light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste [or extract]
the zest of an orange

10 oz plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon mixed spice [more if you wish]

4 large eggs, beaten
a little milk or buttermilk, if necessary. I used about 2 tablespoons

demerera sugar for sprinkling [turbinado]

Cream the butter and sugars, vanilla and zest until light and fluffy. By hand or in a mixer. You don’t need me to tell you this!  Gradually add the beaten eggs, along with a teaspoonful of the flour with each addition. Fold in the dry ingredients and lastly add the sultanas. Mix with a little milk, if too stiff. You need a nice soft dropping consistency.

Tip into your prepared tin, sprinkle over a little demerera and bake for around 2½ hours, until firm to the touch. Cover with some paper or foil for the last hour. I turn down to about 125C then as well.

Cool in the tin for a short time then turn out onto a rack. Best to not cut it until the next day. If you like fruit cakes, I absolutely guarantee you will love it.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Tomato and Walnut Cake

Yes, you did read that correctly. The base of this delicious cake is condensed tomato soup, although once baked you would never know. We all know that other veggies make great moist yummy cakes, especially if you have tried my other parsnip and beetroot recipes. I have yet to post my version of the carrot cake [I have never tasted better] but for those who follow my efforts - trust me, have a go and don't be put off!!!! It tastes absolutely wonderful.  I took the photo as close as I could get to the cake, to show you the moist texture. It keeps well too.

I have used a bundt tin and do love them, it is a shame they are so underused in the UK. Cakes are so easy to slice using a Bundt and you can be quite inventive when decorating. I bought mine in Sainsburys and use it a lot. But an ordinary spring form tin would be just as good.

Pre heat your fan oven to 160C, then butter well a bundt tin, then sprinkle some flour over the butter and tap out the excess. Mine is 10” in diameter.  [a 9” loose bottom tin would be just as good, but line the base] or a couple of 8” sponge tins, and fill the middle afterwards.

In a bowl place:

4 oz softened butter
10 oz caster sugar

Cream the two, it is so much easier in a mixer, but by hand is fine. While that is creaming, assemble your dry ingredients.

8 oz plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3-4 oz finely chopped walnuts
1 egg
1 can condensed tomato soup 
[Batchelors in Asda 79p]

Add the beaten egg, then alternate the soup and dry ingredients a bit at a time.
Finally, fold in the nuts. Tip into your prepared tin and bake for about 45-50 mins, until just firm to the touch. [if using smaller sponge tins, reduce the baking time] Carefully remove from the tin and cool on a rack.

Meanwhile, make a topping.

I have before used a cream cheese and icing sugar topping mixed with some orange juice and covered the cake. 

But now I have used a simple drizzle, made with icing sugar along with some lemon juice and some more chopped walnuts.

Just delicious.

A friend, who used to live in Scotland has given me a fruit cake recipe using as the base, fresh chopped green tomatoes.  Can’t wait to try that, but it will have to wait until the end of the summer. Another veggie cake soon. This time with Sweet Potatoes.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Buttermilk Courgette Loaf

You may have heard me mention that I love yeast cookery, savoury breads too. This ticks every box and is so easy and delicious. Courgettes grate in seconds and are so good in both cakes, scones and breads. [and the new spaghetti, made with a spiralizer]. I dare not make this too often and cannot stop eating it, until it is gone.

In your mixer bowl, with a dough hook [or in a medium mixing bowl if you have muscles and knead by hand], place:

14 oz strong white bread flour
2 oz wholemeal bread flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoonful salt
1½ oz softened butter
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon Marigold vegetable bouillon [or similar veggie cube]]
1 medium grated courgette - about 6 oz [do not squeeze out the water]
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
6 tablespoons buttermilk
2 fl oz warm water

Knead for about ten minutes, then cover and put to rise in a warm spot in a lightly oiled bowl. Should be about  an hour or two, [this took 1½ hr] depending on the time of year and room temp. You all know this. Knock back and shape into a nice round, then place on a oiled baking sheet. When nicely risen again, brush the top with a mix of buttermilk and water, 

then in a small dish, mix:

a small teaspoon wholemeal flour
very large pinch sea salt flakes OR
Cornish Sea Salt - Chilli Salt. [very very yummy]
fresh ground black pepper

Mix together, then generously sprinkle over the top, then make two large slashes to form a X with a very sharp knife or lamé.

Bake the loaf in your pre heated fan oven 200C for about 35 mins, until nicely browned and the bottom sounds hollow.

Eaten barely warm with lashing of butter…….. Oh my. Just as good with some cheese.
Great as rolls too, but adjust the baking time.

Sunday, 6 March 2016


I made these delicious seasonal treats yesterday. They unfortunately disappeared in the blink of an eye but I did mange to hold my husband off until I took this photo!

I use my grandmother’s base yeast recipe. The same that has been tried and tested for over a hundred years, for saffron and yeast buns, with a few variations.  My mother used this recipe before me and my daughter carries on. I have posted the saffron and yeast before and I know many you have made them, since I started my Blog two and a half years ago.

So here is the Easter version! Makes about 12-14 x 3oz buns. Please feel free to adjust/add the spices and differ the fruit. Dried mixed fruit is good as well and I sometimes use that.

This recipe is very easy to double and triple [whole bag of flour]. The buns freeze like a dream, but you must freeze them as soon as they are cold. I put about half a dozen in a poly bag. Defrost each bun for a couple of mins in a microwave and you would swear it had just been baked.

In a medium mixing bowl, place:

1 lb strong plain bread flour
2 oz lard
2 oz butter
pinch of salt
1 - 1½ teaspoon mixed spice [you choose]

Rub the fats in until they disappear, then add:

about 4 oz caster sugar. By all means use less if you wish.
4 oz currants
2-3 oz finely chopped mixed peel
the zest of an orange

Meanwhile, in a jug:

9 fl oz warm water
a teaspoon sugar
1 sachet of dried yeast [or 1 oz fresh]

Allow the yeast to start its work, then when it starts to go frothy, make a well in the centre of your flour mix and combine the two, firstly using a knife, then your hand.

Transfer to a floured surface and lightly knead until smooth, two or three mins.

Cover the bowl and leave to rise in a warm spot. Timing will depend on the temperature. But around an hour or a little more.

Divide the mixture into about 12 [I use scales to get even sizes] and lightly shape, turning the ends underneath. Place them on a lightly buttered baking sheet and cover, then allow to rise once more.

Pre heat your fan over to 190C

The crosses. When risen, make a paste out of 2 oz plain flour and enough cold water to make a thick paste. Fill a piping bag with a small round nozzle and carefully add the crosses thinly.
Alternatively, just make a large X slash, with a sharpened knife or lamé.

Bake for about 20 mins. Allow to cool a little on a rack. To glaze or not to glaze? Do you want them sticky or not? 

There are many types but the easiest and my favourite is just brush on runny honey while the buns are still hot. But use it fairly sparingly.

Just yummy.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016


This is an absolutely delicious cake that you can make in a 2lb loaf tin or a 7” round spring form tin. I love the flavour and sharpness of the lime, that gives this cake a zesty taste. I found the recipe many years ago in a magazine [I think it originally came from Carnation] and is an ‘all in one” cake too, so is done in minutes.

Lightly oil and line your preferred tin with parchment. If a loaf tin, leave plenty hanging over to help you lift it out.

Pre heat your fan oven to 160C

6 oz softened butter
6 oz caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
250g tin of condensed milk
2 heaped tablespoons desiccated coconut
grated zest and juice of a lime + a second for top [if using]
6 oz SR flour

Tip all of the above into a medium mixing bowl and whisk or beat together for a couple of minutes A hand electric whisk is best.

Then pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for about an hour, but check after 50 mins. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then lift onto a rack.

Make an icing to decorate, when cool.

Zest the second lime. 

Mix icing sugar and the juice of the second lime [for extra zest], until you have a soft dropping consistency.  Drizzle over, then decorate with the zest.

Very most and fruity. Delicious. Keeps well for a few days too.