Friday, 11 December 2020

Mincemeat Xmas Tree

I am leaving you with this giant mince pie Tree as I sign off for about three weeks or so, with so much baking and cooking for my family and friends, I have no time for extra! Doesn’t it look festive? Such a simple idea for a Christmas tea centre piece! Not my idea I am afraid, I found it in an old Echo baking book. Not that I would use marge. You need shortcrust, crumbly, buttery pastry. To make this super easy, you could nip to Sainsbury’s and buy some all butter shortcrust pastry!!! But you could make your own and my version of easy shortcrust will be at the bottom. Have a great Christmas everyone, with hopes you have a super time and a Happy New Year. 2021 must get better. Stay safe and well. Laurie x

Make a simple template of a Xmas Tree. I went to Google and printed one out, then transferred it to a light card. Or perhaps you are arty [not me!] and can draw one freehand.

You will need about 1lb, or a tad more, of pastry depending on the size of your Tree. Mine was 12 inches from tip to bottom and 9 inches at its widest branches.

Mincemeat - about three-four large tablespoonfuls 

some beaten egg for the edges

icing sugar to make a little icing

coloured shiny balls, 

a little red and green fondant icing for the shiny balls

Place a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and pre heat your fan oven to 190C

Roll our your chilled pastry into 2 oblongs of just over 9 x 12 inches. Of course you can go bigger if you wish.

Place your template over the pastry oblongs and cut two Tree shapes. Place one onto your baking sheet, on top of the parchment and pop it into the oven for ten mins. Allow to cool for a few moments then brush the edges with the beaten egg and cover almost to the edges with the mincemeat.

Cover with the second Tree and make sure you seal the edges securely. I lightly pressed with a fork.

Bake for about 20-25 mins. Remove from the oven when nicely brown and allow to cool, keeping it on the parchment. I slid it carefully onto a wire rack.

Make a simple water icing - or use lemon juice.

Transfer to a serving serving dish, keeping the parchment underneath but cutting it neatly to the shape of your Tree. Spread over the icing, almost to the edges OR using a piping bag go back and forth mimicking a garland. Whatever you fancy!

Now decorate. Well, what can I suggest, feel free to do whatever you like!! Mine is a bit rough and ready, I am not artistic at all!

Enjoy!! Please forgive me if I take a few days to reply to any messages. It is a busy time of year.

My best shortcrust. here it its again……

¾ butter to plain flour. So - 8 oz flour to 5 oz COLD cubed butter. Place in a food processor, along with a tablespoonful of icing sugar and pulse a few times, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add an egg yolk and perhaps a teaspoonful of COLD water. Pulse a few times more. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and bring together, then chill for at least 15-20 mins. This should be enough for the Trees.

I use this recipe for so much. If savoury e.g. quiche, leave out the icing sugar and add salt and pepper and perhaps a little mustard powder.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Panettone Trifle

As Xmas draws near, I am going to share with you my absolutely favourite Xmas dessert, apart from Xmas Pudding. We mostly eat it on Boxing day, when we always have a house full, and at other times of the year too, like birthdays!! The pictured Trifle will feed about 15, maybe more - or just one son in law!! Yes, you John!! and before I continue, I must tell you it is wickedly expensiveI But heck, its once a year! It more or less exactly fits into a traditional footed trifle bowl. A friend passed this recipe on to me some years ago and I have been making it ever since. It can be made the day before, in fact I think it is better if you do that. If making it other times of the year, make sure you get the Panettone during the festive period - they always have long dates. I always use the classic Panettone, with the fruit and peel.

Before you start, assemble all the components in front of you. I cheat and buy ready made luxury custard pots, usually Sainsbury’s. I buy the Panettone in Lidl.

1 x large Panettone

about ⅓ of a bottle of sweet dessert wine eg marsala

1 packet of Trifle sponge fingers  [200gr packet]

Whole packet of shelled pistachios [about 160 gr +]

1 and a  ½ large pots of 600 ml Double Cream i.e. 900ml [you can use both of course]

2 x large pots of luxury ready made custard 500ml each

approx 4 trays of raspberries

Place the trifle sponges in a strong poly bag and crush. No need to be too exact]. Roughly chop the pistachios. Lightly whip the double cream - you can add a tablespoon of icing sugar if you wish].

Get a glass and taste the wine to make sure it is sweet enough! - you never know it might be gone off!

Slice the Panettone into slices around half an inch thick. Trim off, very thinly, the dark bits. [no need really but I like to].

Start your layering. Cover the base with a layer of Panettone and sprinkle generously with Marsala. Now a layer of raspberries, making sure you place them around the edge neatly and throw a few in the middle. Now custard, then crushed sponge fingers, and a third of your nuts. Carefully cover with the whipped cream.


Cover with the last third of your Panettone, more marsala - of course, and after allowing it to soak through, cover with the last of your whipped double cream.

Now you can decorate the top with the red and green with the last of the raspberries and pistachios, the colours of Xmas.

I do hope you have a go, if you are looking for a special dessert to feed a crowd. I honestly cannot tell you how scrumptious it is.


Note: You can adjust the quantities to your taste. More cream - go for it!! Nuttier? Why not? I have tried it with strawberries, but it is not as good, but still fantastic.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Matthew’s Mincemeat Shortbread

As promised here is another mincemeat recipe, that follower Matthew sent me, after I posted the Mincemeat recipe a few weeks ago. I have since used all of those 12 jars and now have made another batch, enough to last until Xmas I hope. Hey ho. This recipe is truly scrumptious and dare I say it?, nicer than mince pies. Just

You will need a 12 x 8 inch tray bake tin. Lightly buttered and lined. Pre heat your fan oven to 180C

12 oz plain flour

8 oz cold butter

4 oz sugar [I used castor]

pinch salt

a jar of mincemeat*

Place all of the above [minus the mincemeat] in a bowl or a food processor. You can cut or rub in, or whizz. I whizzed. You need the mixture to resemble fine breadcrumbs.

Spread half of this mixture over the base of the tin and press down evenly.  I levelled off then used the palm of my hand. With a couple of dessert spoons, careful spoon little blobs of your mincemeat to cover the crumb as evenly as possible. Spread over the remainder of the crumb and lightly press with your palm and then very lightly fork the top so it’s not completely flat. 

Bake for about 25-30 mins.

Allow to cool in the tin for a while then cut into squares or slices.

How delicious, thank you Matthew. There is another similar recipe on my Blog/Page that I posted a few years back using oats and almonds. This recipe is light and very buttery. Quite different but equally delicious.

Note: I used up one whole jar, then thought it needed a tad more, using another quarter of a jar.

Another super, impressive mincemeat recipe in a week.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020


These are very simple, with a lovely big dob of mincemeat in the middle, baked, then iced and decorated with a festive motif! They look stunning and very yummy, on a plate during the build up to Christmas. Just as easy as mince pies too. I have been making them every weekend as my husband and family love them so much! I have posted them before, but the pics were in my old kitchen!

You need a 12 hole muffin tin and some Christmasy cup cake cases.

This uses an all in one method, so place it all in a bowl: How easy is that???

6 oz SR Flour

6 oz softened butter [definitely not marg]

4 oz any sugar - caster or soft light brown

1 teaspoon mixed spice - or any festive mix of your choice

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon milk

Green and red fondant icing

Icing sugar

In a medium bowl, beat all the ingredients together until light and fluffy - you all know how! Spoon a dessertspoonful of the mix into the bottom of the muffin cases, then a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat - I used my own. Then place another teaspoon of mix over the mincemeat. I carefully try to cover the fruit as best I can, but no real need to be too fussy. [¾ of mix in case, then mincemeat and the remaining ¼ on top].

Bake in a pre heated fan oven 170 C for 20 mins. Cool, then when they are cold:

Mix a small amount of icing and put a blob on each bun. Roll out a small amount of green fondant icing and cut the holly leaves, Xmas trees [whatever]  and place then on the icing. Then take tiny pieces of the red fondant and make berries.

How easy is that???

Seal your fondant blocks in any air tight container and they will keep fresh over the festive period, to use again and again.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020


Christmas Anytime Slices

I know you want more Christmas recipes and particularly using Mincemeat, so before I sign off for the festive period I will try and oblige!

This recipe is from Australia and was given to me by my cousin Jan, from Melbourne. They don’t  call it Mincemeat as we do, but Fruit Mince. The recipe also used a few ingredients that I have had to guess at the translation. I have taken lightly packed brown sugar as soft brown and firmly packed as Muscovado. Anyway it worked, and I used dark muscovado for the topping that mixes so well with the mincemeat. Mmmm the smell was so good. The recipe uses mostly cup measurements.

You will need an approx 12 x 8 inch tray bake tin, lightly greased then lined with parchment. Pre heat your fan oven to 170C


3 oz of softened butter

⅓ of a cup of soft brown sugar

1 cup of plain flour

Beat the butter and sugar til light and creamy then work in the flour. Press evenly onto the base of your tray bake pan. The back of a spoon makes it easy. Bake for about 10 mins.


The topping:

2 large eggs

½ cup light or dark muscovado sugar

1 teaspoonful vanilla extract

1 tablespoonful plain flour

½ teaspoonful baking powder

1½ cups of desiccated coconut

1 cup of Mincemeat [use a good one! or your own]

1 tablespoonful brandy

juice of half a lemon

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla til slightly thicker and frothy. Fold in the flour, coconut, bp and Mincemeat plus the brandy and mix well.

Spread over the base and level off. Sprinkle over the lemon juice and bake for about 25 mins until firm.

Cool in the tin for a short while then lift out using the parchment and slice.

Dust with icing sugar to serve. With clotted cream of course!

Yum yum.

Thanks Jan x

Note: Jan named them “anytime” because they were too delicious to only bake at Xmas.

Friday, 6 November 2020


[Toasted] Tea Cakes 

I love a toasted tea cake, don’t you? Warm and dripping with butter of course. They are incredibly easy and if you have a food mixer with a dough hook, little effort. The baked tea cakes freeze like a dream [as soon as they are cold], then pop them into your microwave for a few seconds to defrost for a just baked teacake to toast. This recipe is from an old WI book, so you know it will be good, although after the first bake I did adapt it a little.

Makes 5-6 large teacakes, easily doubled. [a half is a large portion!]

4 oz butter, just melted but not hot

5 fl oz whole milk

1 egg

1 lb strong white bread flour

2 oz caster sugar

pinch salt

3 teaspoonfuls dried [quick] yeast [or 1 oz fresh]

about 3-4 oz of dried fruit of your choice. I used sultanas

In a basin, or jug, whisk together the melted butter, egg and milk. Set aside for a mo.

In a large bowl [or the bowl of your food mixer], place the flour, dried yeast, sugar and salt. Make a well and add the milk mix. Mix well and knead until smooth - about 10 mins. Cover and leave to rise until at least double in size. This may well take up to two hours.

Turn onto a floured surface and knock back, adding the fruit and knead to mix. Roll out the dough until it is about ½ an inch thick. Using a large plain cutter of around 4 inches in diameter, plus a sharp knife, cut out your teacakes and place them on a buttered baking sheet to rise once more for about 50-60 mins. After I cut mine, I rolled each one a little more as the WI booked suggested the size 4-6 inch diameter. I felt 6” was a little too large. It is handy to note here that if you add too much fruit it is difficult to cut into rounds.

Pre heat your fan oven to about 200C

Bake for 18-20 mins. Oh my, the smell is wonderful. Allow to go completely cold, cut in half, toast and butter, then tuck in. Heaven on a plate for afternoon tea.

Note: In the WI book where I originally found this recipe they suggest you brush the hot teacakes, when they come out of the oven, with a milk and sugar syrup. But I think it makes them far too sticky and it is just not necessary. But up to you.

Monday, 2 November 2020


Sage Topped Chicken Casserole in a Sour Cream and Sherry sauce.

Well, what a mouthful for such a delicious, easy Chicken casserole. Can be made ahead and reheated. I was researching old recipes and found this in one of my many recipe folders, on a crumpled scrap of paper. It sounded delish and wondered why I had never tried it? Wonder no more!! The title was not as above, but Fave Chicken Casserole. Very boring for such a super dish.

You could make your own sage stuffing, without adding the liquid, but for ease, I bought Sainsburys Taste The Difference Wild Sage, Roasted Shallot and Lemon packet stuffing.

Serves 4. Pre heat your fan oven to 190C. You will need a shallow ish, ovenproof serving dish, greased lightly.

4 chicken breasts [I used skinless]

1 packet of sage and onion stuffing mix

some broccoli or similar veg [the chicken will sit on this]

[I used a packet of tenderstem]

2 oz butter

1 oz plain flour

¾ pint of good chicken stock [nothing wrong with a little good stock pot]

4 fl oz of sour cream

3 tablespoonfuls sherry [I used a sweet sherry]

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

4 oz grated mature cheddar

Coat your chicken breasts in the stuffing crumbs and place then in the ovenproof dish. Cover tightly with a lid or foil and roast for about 35-40 mins.

Meanwhile cook the broccoli until just barely tender. Drain. Set aside for a mo. [do this just before the chicken will be ready]

Melt the butter in a small pan and thick in the flour. Take it off the heat and gradually stir in the stock. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring all the while until thickened. Stir in the cream and sherry and also season to taste.

Lift the chicken and place the broccoli stems in the base of your dish and pour over half of the sauce.  Arrange the chicken on top. Add half of the grated cheese to the other half of the sauce and pour that over the chicken. Sprinkle over the remainder of the cheese and place under a pre heated hot grill, until lightly browned and bubbling. Not too close to the top!!

Serve with any potato dish and perhaps baby carrots for a super easy delicious meal.

The scrap of paper told me it can be made ahead and stored in the fridge then re heated in a moderate oven for half an hour.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020


Lemon Ice Cake

Here is a brilliant idea for an easy peasey make ahead dessert. You will just need to take it out of the freezer about 15-20 mins before serving, cover with any soft fruit of your choice, plus a little more cream if you wish, to decorate. I found this recipe yet again in the Farmer’s Weekly collections. A veritable treasure trove of great simple recipes and ideas. I am putting one of these in my freezer for a simple Xmas dessert.

You will need a spring form 8 inch cake tin, that you have lightly oiled.

3 large eggs, separated

4 oz caster sugar

5 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoonfuls lemon zest

pinch salt

½ pint double cream

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks, set aside for a mo. Lightly whip the double cream too.  

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks until thick and creamy and then beat in the caster sugar.  Add the zest, juice and salt and continue whisking for a few seconds. Then fold in your egg whites and double cream.

Tip into your prepared tin and level off then place in your freezer. How easy is that.

When you need it, take it out of the freezer for 20 mins then carefully release the cake. Decorate as you wish and serve immediately. As you can see, I used strawberries. 

Yum yum. I love lemon and this is such a lovely light dessert following a meal.

Thursday, 22 October 2020


Crispy Coconut Squares

Well, don’t these sound and look yummy? I love this sort of bake. Another recipe taken from the old Echo booklet, with a few alterations from me. As you do! 

You will need a 7 x 11 inch tray bake tin, at leach 2 inch high. Pre heat your fan oven to 160C

In two parts: The base

6 oz SR flour

3 oz softened butter

4 oz caster sugar

In a medium bowl, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, then add the sugar. Tip not the base of your prepared tin and press down and level off - easy with the back of a spoon. Bake for 20 mins.


The topping:

6 oz light muscovado sugar

2 oz softened butter

2 large eggs

4 oz desiccated coconut

4 oz raisins or sultanas

3 oz chopped walnuts

2 oz quartered glacé cherries

2 tablespoonfuls cornflour

1 teaspoonful vanilla extract or bean paste

In a medium bowl, place the sugar, eggs and butter and beat until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well, then spoon over the partially cooked base. Return to the oven for another 25-30 mins.

Cool in the tray for a short while then cut into squares and place on a cooling rack. Wow, just lovely.

Keeps well for a few days, but that is not likely!

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Another Mincemeat Cake recipe!

Following on from my post a week or so ago, follower Chris sent me the photo of this recipe, that belonged to her mother in law. I love looking at faded scraps of paper with little gems written on them. Thank you so much Chris. There will be another mincemeat recipe in a week or two that Matthew sent to me. All these Mincemeat recipes!!! and it is no where near the festive season yet!!

The original recipe used marge, there was no method and Chris thought it might have been an “all in one” but I decided to use the creaming method. I used my own Mincemeat plus the extra cherries, even though I had plenty of cherries in my fruit mix. I loved the added cinnamon flavouring.

Pre heat your fan oven to 150C and great and line the base of a 6 or 7 inch spring form tin.

4 oz softened butter

4 oz caster sugar

2 eggs [I used large]

6 oz SR flour

1 teaspoonful cinnamon

8 oz Mincemeat

2 oz glacé cherries, chopped.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar, whisk in the eggs and then fold in the flour and then the fruit mix.

Tip into your prepared tin and bake for about 1¼ hrs [the original says 1½ hours but fan ovens cook faster these days]

Cool in the tin for a short while then transfer to a rack. Leave it for a day or so, then tuck in. 

Note: I used castor sugar but would think you could use any. I will try light muscovado the next time.

Lovely! Moist and delicious.