Sunday, 24 February 2019

Banana and Poppy Seed Loaf with a  Zesty Cream Cheese topping

A really lovely loaf cake, from the WI.  So moist and utterly delicious, especially the topping. Make sure your bananas are really over ripe. The easiest all in one ever!

You will need a 2 lb loaf tin, buttered and lined with some parchment. Hang it over the sides and it will help you lift the cake out. Pre heat your fan oven to 160C

6 oz SR Flour
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoonful baking powder
2 tablespoonfuls poppy seeds
6 oz soft light brown sugar
3 beaten eggs
6 oz butter

This is so easy! In a large bowl, tip everything in and beat well. Pour into your prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour. Leave in the tin for a few minutes then cool on a rack.


6-7 oz cream cheese
2 tablespoonfuls icing sugar
zest of an orange

Mix the above together in a small bowl, then when the cake is cold, spread over the top, sprinkling over some more poppy seeds and a little more shredded zest.

Just delicious. But then you knew that, didn’t you!

Thursday, 21 February 2019


The queen of all Cornish cakes, instantly recognisable as part of Cornish culture and cuisine and much loved by everyone Cornish. Within my 1920s Cornish Recipe book by Edith Martin there are about ten versions. Years ago I discarded most, all have to be halved or quartered as our forebears made huge cakes! In the end I ended up using the recipe from the Falmouth area. But make no mistake, this cannot be rushed, and from start to finish I reckon it is close to 5 hours. Of course there is very little hands on time.

Saffron cakes are denser and heavier than buns, so they keep longer. My buns are very light and spongy. The fat content is far greater here than buns, the sugar content less too. This should make it heavier, and there is about half the quantity of yeast as well. The cake keeps very well for about 3-4 days.

While you can make one very large cake, I would rather use the quantity below and make two, using two small 1 - 1½lb loaf tins. Then freeze one. 

1 lb 2 oz strong plain flour
2 oz very finely chopped mixed peel
½ lb currants - I use at least 10oz - I hate hunt the currant
4 oz lard
3 oz butter
2 oz castor sugar 
generous pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
warm whole milk - about 9 fl oz with a teaspoon sugar
generous ½ oz fresh yeast. OR I generous heaped teaspoon Quick dried yeast, using a proper measure  [or half sachet dried ie about 4 gr].
saffron - depending on quality and how saffrony you want it.

Wrap the strands of saffron in some baking parchment and put them in a barely warm oven for 20 mins. Then, using a rolling pin crush the dried strands still in the paper, becoming powder like. I then generally add a few extra strands.

Rub the fat into the flour, salt and nutmeg, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then just add the rest of the dry ingredients, including the Dried Quick yeast if using. Mix well.

Warm the milk and a little sugar to tepid and stir in the fresh yeast if using and saffron, leaving it for a while until it starts to froth a little. Made a well in the mix and pour in the liquid, bringing it all together with your hand and then tip it onto a floured surface and begin gently kneading until the mix is smooth. Just a few minutes, maybe 5.

Cover and place in a warm spot to prove. Do not expect it to double in size, like bread or the buns. The old 1920s book suggests “put a warm plate on it and stand it in a warm place until the mixture raises the plate”. That’s all I have ever had to go on!! I leave it for a couple of hours, then kneaded again for a minute and put it in your lightly oiled loaf tin[s] to prove again for an 1 - 1½ hours. In winter, you might a tad longer.

Preheat the oven to about 160C. My old book suggests 1¼ hours for large cakes and it takes all of that.  But I turned the oven down to about 150C after half the time.  For two smaller cakes, I bake for a total of about 50-55 mins, turning down to 150C after 20-25mins. The taste test? Absolutely delicious. Quite different from buns, much heavier. The big plus is that it takes no time at all, of actual work. Then the even bigger plus is that the cake is still moist and equally delicious the following day. Day 3 - the cake it still good.

The original picture is 5 years old and my photography has improved since then, so I have re baked and taken some new pics. I am reposting and slightly adjusting the write up as I now think it better to make two cakes with that quantity.

Just the most fabulous bake. Enjoy. But be patient.

Note: I now often use saffron powder and bring it back from Spain or there is a fab spice shop just inside Borough market if you are visiting London. I love Borough Market, great for foodies.

Monday, 18 February 2019


This “new” classic Cornish recipe was invented in 1970 by James Kittow, the excellent butcher from Fowey. There has been a Kittows in the town since 1880 and their Hogs Pudding is just wonderful. James Kittow originally layered up the potato and hogs pudding and topped it with Heinz salad cream, the acidity giving it a pickle kick but eventually it evolved into what you see below after a suggestion by Jim Prentiss, landlord of The Rashleigh Arms, Polkerris.  I have to thank Richard Kittow for his help, although obviously they are not going to give me the exact recipe, but after tasting it, I mostly knew what it was all about. I used Kittow’s Hogs Pudding, of course, King Edward Potatoes [or a good floury potato] and the cheese absolutely has to be Vintage Davidstow cheddar, I was told!

I will give you the quantities I used for a dish 8” x 6”, over 2” deep. But it will depend on the size of your dish, how many you are feeding etc. Butter your dish generously and pre heat your fan oven to 180C. 

7 or 8  small ish King Edward Potatoes, peeled and sliced - just under the depth of a £1 coin
Kittow’s Hogs Pudding, sliced into about 30 thin slices
A mix of red, yellow and green peppers, finely sliced long ways - about 1½ peppers in total
150 ml carton Double Cream 
150ml milk
a teaspoonful vegetable bouillon powder or similar 
Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper
the merest smidgen of garlic [if you wish]
Vintage Davidstow cheddar, grated

Peel and slice your potatoes [a mandolin makes this easy] and place in some water to stop them going black, add a dash of lemon juice too. Dry the slices on some kitchen paper or a clean tea towel.

Using perhaps a third of each pepper, slice them in long lengths very finely, then I gently fried them in a small amount of butter, to soften. Set aside.

Slice your Hogs Pudding.

Make the “sauce”: While simmering the potato slices, stir now and then to avoid them sticking together or sticking to the bottom of the pan. 

In a medium, wide pan. gently warm the cream. Rinse out the carton with the same quantity of  milk, then add that to the pan, season with plenty of fresh ground pepper and sea salt, the vegetable stock powder and I added a small pinch of garlic powder. When hot, carefully tip in about a half of your sliced potato and simmer very gently for about 6-7 mins. Remove the potato slices from the cream with a slotted spoon, place about two thirds of it in the bottom of your prepared dish. Layer over half of the fried peppers, then half of the Hogs Pudding. Cover with the rest of the potato in the pan. Press firmly down. Put that pan back on the heat and tip in the other half of the potato slices and simmer again for 6-7 mins.

Now back to your dish and spread over the remainder of the peppers and another layer of the Hogs Pudding. Press down again. Remove the other half of your sliced potato from the cream sauce and arrange over the top of the second layer of Hogs Pudding. No need to be exact and tidy with the slices, I just arranged until they were about even. 

Now add a tad more grated cheese to the remainder of the sauce, you want it fairly thick. You do not need the bake to be runny and the potato will already have absorbed a fair amount of the liquid. There should not be too much left as the potato absorbs quite a bit. Pour over, allowing it to trickle down the edges. Season the top of the potato slices to your taste and sprinkle over the grated Davidstow cheddar.

Bake for about 45 mins, until golden brown and bubbling away and the potatoes soft. Cool for 10-15 mins before serving. OR better yet, allow to go cold and re heat. Yum. The potatoes are simply Dauphinoise style and they are always better next time round! A bit like stew. But I have wondered if Kittows add a dash of clotted cream to the dish!?

Just absolutely delicious, as anyone from Fowey will attest! While I was there several came in for a lunchtime slice and Richard Kittow warms it in the microwave for customers.

My verdict? - my version is not quite as spicy, although very very similar. The original had more potatoes and less Hogs Pudding.  But very good, in fact delicious. To be honest I preferred more hogs pudding

Note: please accept my apologies if I have spelt anyone’s name wrong. I hope any followers from the Fowey area will give me their opinions!

Note 2: Try not to use large potatoes, you need the slices to be fairly small. I have a Oxo Good Grips mandolin and used the middle setting.

ps - you can order Kittows Hogs Pudding online

another ps - those eagle eyed amongst you will notice there are no green peppers in the bake as stated. I went to the fridge when making the Bake and found I was out. Hey ho

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Cornflake Tart

A week or two ago we were chatting over the card table, as you do, talking about old recipes and the subject of school dinners came up, then moved on to Cornflake Tarts. Well, that was a blast from the past. Of course, it would never be served these days, with the high sugar content, but as a treat… why not? Going through my old books, I came across this recipe, which I adapted slightly. My husband absolutely loved it, jammy and so crisp, he immediately remembered eating it before. I have a feeling I will be making it again before long……

You will need a large Swiss Roll tin about 13” x 9” and pre heat your oven to 200C

The pastry base:
8 oz plain flour
4 oz butter
a dessertspoonful icing sugar

Place the above in a medium mixing bowl and rub the butter in, until it resembles breadcrumbs, then bind with a little very cold water. Bring together, give it a light knead then chill for a mo.

Roll out your pastry then line your Swiss Roll tin and trim the edges. Place a sheet of baking parchment over the pastry, that you have lightly pricked and fill with baking beans. Bake for around 15 mins, remove the parchment and beans, then return to the oven for 8-10 mins until nicely light brown. Cool for ten mins.

Turn your oven down to 170C

Jam of your choice, but I used Strawberry conserve. Spread evenly over the pastry base.


In a small saucepan melt over a low heat:

4 oz each of sugar, butter and golden syrup. Use the sugar of your choice, I used half golden caster and half soft light brown. But light muscovado would be brilliant too, adding a depth of flavour.

In a large mixing bowl place 8 oz cornflakes and pour over the buttery mix, stirring carefully until all the flakes are covered, then tip into the tin, over the jam.

Spread evenly and press down with the back of a tablespoon. A sticky job if you use your hand!

Bake for a further 10-12 mins, then cool before cutting into squares.

Just delicious.

More notes: You can vary the tart by using different jams and sugars. Even more scrummy served with a dollop of clotted cream.

Too large? Halve the ingredients to use in a round 8” flan tin. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Lemon Curd and Cherry Fingers

An old friend gave me this recipe many moons ago…… I love Lemon Curd! Very easy and simply delicious. You can cut this into about 20-24 “fingers”, or squares if you prefer.

You will need a Swiss Roll tin about 13” x 7” lightly buttered and lined with a long sheet of parchment, hanging over the long ends to help you lift it out. Pre heat your fan oven to 190C initially.

6 oz plain flour
1 tablespoonful icing sugar
3 oz mixed lard and butter

5 tablespoonfuls of good Lemon Curd
4 oz butter
4 oz caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
4 oz SR flour
4 oz glacé cherries, finely chopped
2 teaspoonfuls lemon zest

In a medium bowl rub the fats into the flour and icing sugar. Then add about 2-3 tablespoonfuls cold water and mix well to make a firm dough. Place in the fridge for 15 mins.
Roll out your pastry thinly on a floured surface and line the base and sides of your tin. [easily patched if necessary] Trim the edges neatly and then spread over the lemon curd. Chill again for a mo…..

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs, one at a time then finally fold in the flour and finely chopped cherries and zest. Spread this carefully over the curd. The mixture is fairly stiff so take little teaspoonful dobs of the mix and place evenly over and just flatten the tops. As it bakes it will merge. Trust me!

Bake for 10 minutes before turning down to 160C then continue baking for another 20-25 mins until top is firm and golden. Leave in the tin to firm up for 20 mins then lift onto a rack. Cool then cut into fingers.

Yum. Oh my!!! I just love these.

Note: I used Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Lemon Curd, but it is also very easy to make.