Monday 26 January 2015


This is a recipe that I found in a old book belonging to my mother, although I have altered it a little over time. You can buy the roasted ground hazelnuts in Sainsbury’s baking section. The heady smell as you add them to the honey cake mix is just wonderful.

Oil, then line the bottom of a loose bottom or spring form 8” tin, at least 2” high.

6 oz softened butter
7 oz caster sugar [golden is good too]
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Beat the above until light and fluffy, then add

4 large eggs, one by one. Then 1½ tablespoons of runny honey. Any honey. I used Rowse’s Blossom, but only because that was what I had open in the cupboard.

Now fold in 4 oz plain flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder and 3½ oz roasted ground hazelnuts. [full pkt]

Tip into your prepared tin and bake for about 45 mins in your fan oven set to 160C

Cool on a rack. When it is still warm:

Brush a layer of the runny honey over the top, then scatter with some very roughly chopped hazelnuts. Cool until cold, then follow with a good drizzle of icing, made up with icing sugar and some more runny honey. A double hit of hazelnuts and a triple hit of honey.

Just delicious.

Thursday 22 January 2015


My friend Margaret, who lives in Crowlas, gave me a lovely old Parish recipe book from Gwinear and this is the first of many recipes that I will bake for you, from it’s pages. I have baked and eaten some scrummy fruit cakes in my time but this is the best!!!! It definitely is a cake for special occasions - or even afternoon tea!

Grease and line the bottom of a 8” cake tin [spring form is easiest] You can line the sides too, if you wish, but I didn’t.

You need to start off a week before you make it! In a medium sized glass bowl place:

9 oz sultanas [I used a mix of sultanas and raisins to use up packets]
7 oz currants
4 oz halved glacé cherries
3 oz chopped mixed peel
Add about 5 fl oz sherry - any sherry!! I used up some med dry amontillado and when there was still a drop left in the bottle I threw that in as well!! A bird does not fly on one wing! Mix well. Cover securely with cling film and shake a couple of times a day. Two days passed and I noticed most of the sherry had been absorbed - so I opened the cling film [the smell was wonderful!] and poured in another slug of sherry!!!! 

A week later…..
Cream together:
6 oz soft light brown sugar [or dark, but the cake will be darker than in the photo]
6 oz room temp butter
until light and fluffy - you know the routine. Add:

4 eggs, one at a time. Drain the fruit - keep the liquid though!!!

Then fold in:
4 oz SR flour
4 oz Plain flour
pinch salt
½ teaspoon mixed spice
1 oz ground almonds

Tip into your prepared tin and bake in a preheated fan oven 150 for 1 hour. Cover with foil, turn the oven down to 130 and bake for a further 1½ hours. Cool, prick well pouring over the rest of the soaking sherry! I turned it upside down and poured it over the bottom. Mmmmmmm.

If you wish you can marzipan and ice it - or just munch away. It is best left a day or two before eating. Not the cheapest of cakes to make but well worth it - trust me! The smell and taste, the texture is just so wonderful. Do it!

Sunday 18 January 2015


With this old Cornish recipe I return to my 1920s Recipe Book and as usual, I have few instructions!!

“Roast them with fennel”…. ok, but I decide to use fillets, rather than the whole fish. My husband and son in law came home a few weeks ago after a day’s fishing with loads of them! Rather than gut them, I just filleted the lot and froze them in pairs. “then make a good sauce with butter, parsley and gooseberries, all seasoned”.
That sounds easy….

“soak your mackerel, a very little, with your sauce, then serve them hot”.

 As I prepare my friend Jeny is coming for lunch. I have no fresh gooseberries in the freezer so use a tin. I used 3 mackerel fillets per person.
Take a medium roasting dish and very lightly oil the pan and put to warm in the preheated oven - 220 C

In a small saucepan, melt 2oz of butter [I also added a generous tablespoon of rapeseed oil to stop it burning], just over half the tin of gooseberries, a splash of the sauce they were in, S & P and lots of chopped parsley. I let the gooseberries cook off a little and the sauce thicken. The saved, drained fruit I will add for the last minute. I was amazed at how delicious the sauce tasted!

I had half a savoy cabbage and decided I will serve it with the fish, finely shredded, heating a small stir fry pan with a dash of rapeseed oil [olive oil is good too].

Time to bring it all together. I placed the fillets, skin side down in the very hot roasting pan, seasoned well with some finely chopped fennel, sea salt and fresh ground pepper and popped them into the oven. I started the cabbage as well, seasoning, then stir frying and turning for a few minutes.

After 6 or 7 mins I brushed some of the sauce, as instructed, over the fish and placed them back into the oven for 2 or 3 more mins. [all depending on the size of the fillets]. See pics on my Blog.

I assembled the dish by piling some cabbage on a plate, placing 3 fillets over the top along with a little more gooseberry sauce, plus some more on the side.

I was pleasantly surprised, no - more than that! It was delicious! The dish was just so tasty and the gooseberry sauce complimented the mackerel perfectly. Our forebears knew what they were doing. Mackerel and gooseberries - a perfect combination.

Note: I used a can of Princess Gooseberries in syrup. 300g [drained weight 145g]
If you use fresh gooseberries then you will need to add some sugar to the sauce.

Wednesday 14 January 2015


Jam Cream Tea and Thunder and Lightening

In bygone days a Cornish Cream Tea did NOT consist of Scones. Our Forebears used splits.

A soft milky bread, light as a feather and perfect with jam and clotted cream. As children we loved Thunder & Lightning - Golden Syrup and Clotted Cream, as seen on the right. These days Strawberry Jam is mostly used for Cream Teas but even our later forebears would have made jam with fruits that were on the hedgerows - like Blackberry! Strawberry would have been a real luxury.
For 20 splits: [they freeze like a dream]

1½ lb Strong Plain Flour [Bread Flour]
3 oz lard
1 level teaspoon salt
¾ pint milk [I used semi skimmed, but in olden days it would have been whole milk]
about 12 - 14 grams of Dried Active Yeast. That's 2 sachets. [or 1½ oz of fresh]
1 teaspoon sugar

Rub the fat into the flour and salt, until it has disappeared.

Meanwhile warm the milk to barely tepid with the sugar, and then whisk in the yeast. Allow to start working until frothy, then pour into the flour mix and bring together. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and start to knead. This will take approx 8 - 10 mins until smooth and the dough jumps back after poking your finger in it. Or, like me with arthritic fingers, you can use a machine with a dough hook!! Cover with lightly oiled cling film, then leave and go off to do your shopping! When it is doubled in size [depends on the temperature of the room - these took just over an hour in my warm kitchen], tip back onto the surface and knead again to knock out the air. Divide into 20. - just over 2 oz each. I use a digital flat scale with a plate on top to weigh. Shape into splits and place on lightly oiled baking sheet. Put to rise again for about 30 mins.  Bake in a hot fan oven - 190 deg C for about 15 mins. Cool on a rack then enjoy!!!

In Cornwall, the jam or treacle [as we call Golden Syrup] goes on the bottom and the clotted cream on top! Over The Tamar they might do it differently!!!

For more photos and details of baking go to my Blog.

Saturday 10 January 2015


This exceedingly delicious cake was given to me by Ramona, a lovely German lady, who is a friend of my cousin’s in Dusseldorf. It is in metric quantities and I have typed the approx imperial beside it, but for accuracy I used the metric version! I baked it in a Bundt tin [available in any kitchen shop], although it is fine in a ordinary 9” or 10” springform tin. Then finishing it off with a little extra melted Chilli chocolate! You can’t have enough of the stuff.

Butter your tin well, then preheat your fan oven to 170C

250 gr room temp butter - 8oz
200 gr peanut butter - 7oz
400 gr caster sugar - 14oz

Beat until light, creamy and soft. Add

5 large eggs, one by one, with a little of the flour, then add the remainder of the dry ingredients:

230 gr plain flour - just over 7oz
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk, if needed

Divide the mixture into 2 bowls [don’t worry if it is not exact]

Into one half, mix in 100gr [4oz] melted dark chocolate - 70% cocoa solids
Into the other half add 50 gr [2oz] baking chocolate chips

Tip both mixtures into your Bundt tin, alternately, spoonful by spoonful, trying not to mix the halves. Then vaguely level and create a rough marble pattern with the handle of a spoon or something similar.

Bake for approx 60-70 mins, I turned it down to 160C after 50 mins. Carefully turn it out and cool on a rack. When cool drizzle over a little more melted chocolate. I used chilli choc!


Monday 5 January 2015


These little gems are a true taste of Cornwall. Steeped in the history of our County, they were made and sold at local Fairs and by women on stalls in the streets. Original Cornish street food! A kind of gingerbread, they keep well in an airtight container.

4 oz Plain Flour
2 oz butter [don't even think of using that horrible m word]
a pinch of salt
Rub in the butter until completely gone and like fine breadcrumbs

Very very finely chopped mixed peel [M&S’s are brilliant]
1 level teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda
1 level teaspoon Baking Powder
large pinch of Mixed Spice
1 heaped teaspoon of Ground Ginger  [more if you wish]

then bind with 2 fluid oz of warmed Golden Syrup.
You may use part syrup and part treacle but I find the taste of treacle too overpowering. Some folk add considerably more ginger, but I like to keep the taste subtle.

I use ¾ oz of dough for each biscuit and find this just right. Roll between the palms of both hands into a little ball, then flatten slightly and place well apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 200 deg C for about 15 mins, turning occasionally making sure they brown evenly. Cool on a rack. Scrummy.

Thursday 1 January 2015


Let’s start the New Year with a pasty! For all my new likers of 2014, especially those who live away from these shores! It’s all on my Blog, along with loads of pics. I stopped and cleaned my hands as often as possible to take photos at every stage to help those of you who have never made one! The three pasties I made [2 large 1 small] used a basic rough puff pastry mix. 12 oz plain flour, 3 oz lard and 3 oz hard marg, half rubbed in ie not too finely, salt and a little very cold water. Then rest for at least an hour in the fridge before using.
You will realise the pasties are pretty large but my husband would think I had lost my marbles if I gave him a small one!

Swede - chipped finely 
Potato  - ditto
Leek - quartered longwise and sliced
Onion, finely chopped.
Skirt beef, finely chopped. 
[Pork too, occasionally. I used one large pork loin steak and left the small amount of fat in]
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
Plain flour to dredge.
Generally parsley too, but I forgot to buy it!! It’s fine without!
Colloquially, when parsley is used its a grass pasty!

As a child my mother made pork pasties too and they were delicious, so I have made one of those as well!! I have been asking around about variations and many folk fondly remember  mashed potato pasties!!! Seventy or eighty [or more] years ago lots of folk could not afford skirt regularly and if you had to feed a growing family…. So I thought I would try them as well. I mashed 2 potatoes with a little butter, then stirred in a very finely chopped and fried shallot [in flavourful rapeseed oil], S&P and a little grated nutmeg. This is my version but I cannot believe that our forebears would not have used onion and the commonly used spice, to add flavour.

Before you start, take the pastry out of the fridge for about 20 mins before rolling.
Assemble all your prepared ingredients around you and turn the oven to very very hot.
This sets the pastry, then there is less chance of it coming apart - or smiling! Grease a baking tray. Then start.

Roll your pastry out to the approx size you want, rolling evenly and making sure the edges are even and not thin. Brush the whole of the outside inch with a little beaten egg or milk. As in the photos place a rolling pin halfway under the crust to give you the sharp D edge. Assemble in order, swede on the bottom, potato, leek, meat, onion, parsley, flour.
I season well at least twice, once about halfway through and again on top of the onion.
Twist the whole pasty so the D is in front of you and close over so the edges are meeting. Press together then take the pin away. Crimp. Lift onto the prepared baking tray, put a little hole in the top for the steam and brush with beaten egg or milk. The egg is shinier.

Bake for about ¾ hour to 1 hour, according to size. After the first ten mins turn the oven back to about 190 Deg C.
I hope the photos explain every stage. Good luck, if you have never tried them before.
I loved the mashed potato pasty - great for cocktail pasties and a canape. Thanks to Joyce for her reminisences. Make sure the mash is cold before you add it to the pastry and bake for a shorter time.

Happy New Year!