Dinner Lunch Puddings Tea time Uncategorized


My favourite, old fashioned pudding cake that never seems to date and is always greeted with delight. It seems that some traditions stand the test of time. Simple, sharp lemon mousse in a sandwich of unashamedly basic whisked sponge. A little bit of effort is required, but you can make it two days ahead and it freezes well, so all in all a very useful recipe to have up your sleeve.


65g caster sugar

2 large eggs, separated

1 large lemon

1 level tablespoon ground almonds

2 level tablespoons semolina

1 level tablespoons sifted plain white flour


2 large lemons, rind and juice

4 leaves gelatine

3 large eggs, separated

125g caster sugar

150ml double cream

Before you start, take an 8″ springform cake tin. Grease it and line the base and sides with baking parchment. Then grease that and dust the inside with flour and caster sugar. Shake out over the sink so it is very evenly distributed.

First make the cake. Pre-heat the oven to 180c or 170c fan.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together with the rind of the lemon until thick and pale. Fold in the ground almonds, semolina and the flour along with one tablespoon of lemon juice. Use a large metal spoon for this, it is so much better than a plastic spatula.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir a small spoonful of the white into the hold mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remainder. Spoon into the cake tin and even out the top, pushing it right into the edges of the tin. Bake for about 20 – 25 mins until firm. Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

While the cake is cooling make the mousse. Put three tablespoons of lemon juice into a small saucepan. Add a tablespoon of cold water. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water making sure the leaves are all covered. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and lemon rind until thick. Then add in the juice of the remaining lemon. You will have to carry on whisking for a while until it thickens up a bit.

Warm up the lemon juice that is set aside in the saucepan. Squeeze the gelatine out in your hands (it will now be soft). Pull the saucepan off the heat and stir the gelatine in until it has dissolved. Be very careful that the liquid is not boiling. Cool for a few minutes and then whisk into the egg yolk mixture. Whip the cream until it just holds it’s shape (the minute you see a hint of graininess stop whisking) and fold into the gelatine/egg mix. Then whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, stir a spoonful into the mix and then fold in the rest, being careful not to knock out any air.

Slice the cake into two horizontally. Re – line the cake tin with more baking parchment and put the best looking cake round into the base so that the presentation top is on the base (mine was the wrong way round in this picture, I got confused but icing sugar covers a multitude of sins).

Pour the mousse over the cake and smooth the top. Place the other cake round on top of that. The cake will probably have shrunk in from the sides, so it won’t reach right to the edge but it doesn’t matter.

Cover with a plate, or something and put into the fridge for a good few hours or overnight. Once set, take the springform sides of the tin away and peel off the paper. Then invert the cake onto your serving plate. You may need a bit of help. dust with icing sugar and decorate with edible flowers and/or berries.

Puddings Tea time Uncategorized Vegetarian


I often asked if I know a good recipe for a gluten free cake and increasingly for one that uses minimal sugar. We all seem to be more and more aware of the benefits of lowering our sugar intake. This cake certainly isn’t sugar free but uses coconut sugar instead of cane sugar. This has few real health benefits, but does retain some of the natural vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as it is unrefined. However, it cannot really be classed as much better for you than ordinary sugar. But it does have a wonderfully caramely flavour. There is a little dark brown sugar as well, just to add that extra depth of flavour but you can reduce both of these if you prefer; I am of the opinion that if you want to have cake then just have it, enjoy it and maybe don’t have it for another week or so!

A benefit of this cake is the addition of carrots, parsnips, nuts and spices. All count towards that holy grail of thirty different plant foods per week that we are told is desirable if we want to nurture our gut biome.

A traditional carrot cake has a cream cheese icing. I have used a combination of butter and soft goats cheese. The flavour is wonderful and slightly less rich. To keep the cake vegan you could use a honey and tofu icing or just serve with a dollop of coconut yoghurt. Or just plain…..this recipe is just a suggestion.


200g coarsely grated carrot and parsnip ( 160g carrot and 40g parsnip)

200ml sunflower/rapeseed oil or a combo

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarb of soda

140g coconut sugar

20g dark brown sugar

150g buckwheat flour

25g coconut flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Big pinch mixed spice

Big pinch sea salt

100g walnuts or pecans, chopped

60g sultanas/chopped apricots

2 lobes stemmed ginger in syrup, finely chopped

10ml whole milk or equivalent plant milk


150g softened butter

100g sifted icing sugar

1 tablespoon ginger syrup

125g soft French goats cheese

Rind of an orange

Walnuts to garnish

Sift dry ingredients together.  Coarsely grate the carrot and parsnip. Whisk the oil, sugar and eggs together. Beat in the dry ingredients then add the carrot, parsnip, nuts, ginger and sultanas. Loosen with milk until a soft dropping consistency. Tip into tin and smooth the top. 

Bake at 170 fan or floor of age baking oven taking care not to brown the top too much.  Add foil if necessary. 50 to 60 minutes in oven until springy on top. 

Cool in tin for ten minutes and then on a wire rack.

Beat the butter well.  Beat in the icing sugar, syrup and goats cheese. Add the orange rind (optional).  Leave in the fridge to set for a couple of hours. Split the cake in two, if you like. Sandwich the cake with the icing and spread on top. Garnish with chopped nuts.

1 8” square springform tin or a traybake pan, greased and lined.

Puddings Tea time Uncategorized

Chocolate Brownies with Tahini & Date

These came about as I have seen more and more recipes for brownies made with tahini. I love tahini and use it all the time in dressings for salads and roasted vegetables, quite apart from the obvious hummus. A little experimenting resulted in this recipe which I think is delicious, really very foolproof and open to interpretation in that you could replace the chocolate chunks with nuts and vary the vanilla flavouring – orange rind would work well, for example.

Makes about 16. You will need a shallow 9″ square tin, lined with baking parchment.

60g dark chocolate chunks (no more than 60% cocoa solids)

175g unsalted butter

100g dark muscovado sugar

175g granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons date syrup

2 tablespoons tahini paste (I use belazu)

80g cocoa powder (I use bournville)

75g ground almonds

50g plain flour (sieved)

Good pinch maldon salt

50g chopped chocolate (White and dark mix is good) or toasted nuts/chopped dates

Pre-heat the oven to about 160c (or aga baking oven)

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar until really well blended. Add the vanilla extract. Whisk the eggs well and then blend them into the chocolate mixture. Then whisk in the date syrup and the tahini paste.

Sieve the flour and cocoa powder together and fold into the chocolate mix along with the almonds and salt. Then stir in the chopped chocolate.

Pour the thick batter into your prepared cake tin. Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes until just set. It should be fairly soft but definitely not liquid!

Cool in the tin and then cut into square. Or serve warm with ice cream.

Tea time Uncategorized


Probably the favourite treat in our household is a tray of chocolate tiffin and I have made it over the years in a variety of forms. This is our latest favourite combination and although you can’t go wrong combining chocolate, butter, golden syrup and biscuits, a few judicious additions can elevate the delicious to the sublime.
This is one of those recipes that you really can play around with to your hearts content. If you don’t want to use alcohol then a dash of vanilla, strong coffee or a grating of orange rind would be ideal but I find it is good to add some sort of flavouring. Vary your nuts, or leave them out altogether; try apricots instead of prunes or perhaps put both in! Those who don’t love ginger can just leave it out. It is probably one of the most forgiving recipes you can do and one thing is for sure, it won’t last long. Some people use rich tea biscuits but I prefer digestives. The amaretti add a lovely flavour but again, use whatever you have or whatever you like. Hobnobs?!! You can’t ever go wrong with a hobnob.

Here is my recipe; feel free to ad lib at will.

Line a tin approx 9” square with baking parchment

350g dark chocolate
140g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons golden syrup
Good pinch maldon salt
100g raisins
50g stoned prunes
3 balls stem ginger
1 tablespoon ginger syrup from the jar
25ml brandy/rum/amaretti
50 – 100g pecan nuts (toasted) how nutty you want it is up to you
125g digestive biscuits
75g amaretti biscuits

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over barely simmering water. Once just beginning to melt, add the syrup and salt. Stir until all all blended and smooth.

Meanwhile, soak the raisins in the alcohol if you are using it. (Best left for about 20 mins). Chop the prunes and ginger (make ginger quite small). Crush the biscuits using a bag and a rolling pin. Chop the nuts into small pieces.
Once the chocolate mixture has begun to cool add the dried fruit and stir to blend. Then add the biscuits, nuts and ginger syrup. Stir it all together well and put into your prepared tins, smoothing the top. Put in the fridge to set for at least four hours. Dust with icing sugar and/or cocoa and cut into squares.

Best kept in the fridge, hence the term fridge cake but we like to call it tiffin!!

Puddings Tea time Uncategorized Vegetarian


Mince Pies are, for me one of the joys of the Christmas season. 1st December heralds the green light to start baking batches both for the freezer, ensuring that we won’t run out over the big day but also for myself and anyone who shares what could be described as a minor addiction to something not entirely healthy but oh so delicious.

If you are going to go the trouble of making your own then please do make your own mincemeat. Nothing in the shops can ever compare to the flavour and fragrance of a good homemade; I find the commercial brands far too acidic and faintly unpleasant in comparison. Mincemeat is surprisingly easy to make; some recipes call for it to be gently heated before storing in sterilised jars. Some simply stir all the ingredients together. I favour the heating option; I feel the flavours combine better and the mincemeat stores better due to the fat clinging around all the fruits. A good dollop of alcohol will help with the preserving but it is not absolutely necessary. If you prefer not to use brandy or rum then just replace with extra orange and lemon juice; the former is less acidic but I like the tang that lemon adds and so tend to hedge my bets and add some of both, in my case along with a good soaking of both brandy and amaretti liqueur.

The quality and freshness of your dried fruits is imperative. Old bags of stuff that have been open for a while won’t really cut it – like spices, best to buy just before you make your mincemeat or use from unopened packs!

Mincemeat should keep well for at least six months and improves with keeping. I often use jars that I made the year before and have never experienced any problems; on the contrary these left over jars tend to have even better flavour and a lovely mellowness about them.

Makes about 4 or 5 jars

5 sterilised jam jars

200g currants
200g plump raisins
200g sultanas
125g good quality mixed peel
125g chopped apricots/dried figs/prunes/dried cranberries/sour cherries
1 Bradley apple, peeled and finely chopped
250g dark brown sugar (or a mix of light and dark)
75g blanched almonds, finely chopped
150g suet (vegetarian or beef)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons mixed spice
Grating nutmeg
Dash of vanilla extract
2 lemons, rind and juice
1 orange, rind and juice
50ml amaretti liqueur
150ml brandy

Mix everything together in a saucepan except the brandy and amaretti. Heat gently and then cook, stirring every now and then for about fifteen minutes. The fat will melt and coat all the other ingredients. Leave to cool.

Add the brandy and amaretti, or whatever alcohol you prefer and then spoon in to sterilised jars and seal. Store in a cool place until you need it.

When ready to use, add another good grating of orange rind and some more amaretti or brandy.

Lunch Puddings Tea time


A fresh apricot is one of the joys of summer, especially if you happen to be somewhere properly hot and can rely on them being consistently flavoursome and ripe.
In this country it is a bit more hit and miss and I find myself more often than not roasting, poaching or using them, as here in a cake or tart. Cooking them really does intensify the flavour and turns even the most insipid into something special.
This easy cake makes a lovely finish to a summer lunch. It is extremely quick to make and although is something of a one day wonder can be very successfully refreshed in a hot oven in the unlikely event that there is any left over.
Those who are gluten intolerant can just use all almonds.
Serves six

140g unsalted butter, softened
140g caster sugar
70g ground almonds
70g self raising flour
Rind of an orange
Dash of vanilla extract
2 large eggs
About six ripe or almost ripe apricots, roughly chopped and stones removed.

Line a rectangular baking pan (approx 35cm X 12cm) with baking parchment.
Pre-heat oven to 180 or 170 fan. Or baking oven of an aga.

Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the orange rind and vanilla. Whisk the eggs and beat them in one by one taking care not to curdle the mix. A little flour/almond added at the same time will help.

Whisk the flour and almonds together and fold into the mixture. Spread evenly in the prepared tin and sprinkle the apricots over the top.

Bake for about 40 – 45 mins until golden brown and springy to the touch.

Cool on a wire rack. It is easiest to just leave it on the baking parchment but I take it out of the tin.

Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or at room temperature with cream, Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche. 91B507F7-D1B2-47E1-9C05-B28C5A1C31D9

Puddings Tea time Uncategorized


Its a pretty miserable time of year – Spring seems rather far off and the Christmas celebrations are a distant memory, the only reminder being stray pine needles that seem to take up permanent residence under the sofa and the occasional discovery of a forgotten stocking filler.
Lent looms in February and so quite honestly I think we can all be forgiven for indulging in the occasional treat. A homely slice of cake comes under my mantra or ‘all things in moderation’ and as long as you don’t tuck into the whole thing in one go, or perhaps just save it for the weekend I look upon it as a medicinal necessity! Especially if like us you are spending a lot of time clearing garden debris, making bonfires and generally getting rid of the old to make way for the new that is presumably even as I type gearing itself up to pop up over the next few months.
This cake is perfect for this. It’s dense, delicious and keeps for ages in a tin. It can be used as a pudding, with perhaps a toffee sauce, ice cream or just some cream whipped up with orange rind and ginger syrup. Or it is just as good plain, with a dusting of icing sugar (that feels sensible and less indulgent) or with a generous spread of orange & ginger butter icing on top. I particularly like to use the organic, unsulphured dark apricots that don’t look nearly as exciting as the bright day-glo orange variety but my goodness, they certainly deliver on flavour and I think make for a far more interesting and sophisticated flavour. You can vary the date/apricot/ginger combination to suit what you have available.

Serves up to 10

Preheat oven to 170 fan

280g organic apricots
100g good quality stoned dates
3 balls stem ginger from a jar
300ml boiling water
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
90g softened unsalted butter
175g dark brown sugar (or light if you prefer, or a mix of the two)
Rind of one orange
3 large free range eggs
110g wholemeal plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
110g self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch sea salt

Line a 9″/23cm springform tin with baking parchment.

Put the apricots and dates into a heatproof bowl with the bicarbonate of soda and pour the boiling water over. Leave to sit for five or ten minutes. Add the ginger and then blitz in a food processor until pureed but still lumpy.

Cream the butter with the sugar until pale and creamy and add the orange rind.
Add in the eggs, one by one. Whisk the flours, baking powder and spices together with a balloon whisk and then fold into the butter/egg mix along with a pinch of salt. Fold in the apricots, dates etc.

Turn into the prepared tin and bake for about fifty minutes until risen and a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Either eat as it is, enjoy with some ginger and orange cream (simply whisk some ginger syrup and orange rind into some double cream until lightly whipped) or spread this butter icing on top.


100g unsalted softened butter
175g icing sugar, sifted
rind one orange
2 tablespoon ginger syrup from a jar

Whisk the butter well until really well whipped and creamy. Continue whisking in the icing sugar and really well blended and then add in the orange rind and ginger syrup. Spread over the top of the cake and finish with some finely chopped stem ginger, if liked.

Dinner Lunch Puddings Tea time Uncategorized Vegetarian


Serves Eight

3 cooking apples
2 lemons
50g dark brown soft sugar
150g light muscovado sugar
150g softened butter
2 large eggs
85g plain flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 heaped teaspoon mixed spice
100g ground almonds
30g butter
25g dark brown sugar
50g flaked almonds

Pre heat oven to 180c

Line a 23cm springform tin with baking parchment.

Peel, core and chop the apples. Put into an oven proof dish,grate over the zest of one lemon and add the juice of two. Sprinkle over 50g of dark brown sugar and cover with baking parchment. Bake for 20 minutes until the fruit is soft. Leave to cool.

Cream the butter with the light brown sugar. Add the beaten eggs a little at a time until well mixed in. Whisk the flour and baking powder together with the mixed spice and ground almonds. Fold into the butter mix and then lightly mix in the apple.

Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for thirty minutes. Five minutes before this time is up melt the 30g butter with the 25g dark brown sugar and mix in the flaked almonds. Spread over the top of the cake and bake for a further fifteen to twenty minutes until springy to the touch. Cool in the tin or serve warm, but not hot.

Ginger ice cream is good with this or double cream.


Tea time Uncategorized Vegetarian


Makes 10

225g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
50g unsalted butter
25g caster sugar
1 egg
Approx 100ml milk

Pre-heat the oven to 220c

Measure the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and whisk together.

Cut the cold butter into cubes and add to the flour. Rub in well using your fingertips and keeping it well aerated. The mix will eventually resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add the caster sugar.

Whisk the egg in a measuring jug and add milk until you have 150ml. Pour most of it into the flour mixture and using a knife, cut this way and that until you have a soft dough. You will have some milk and egg left over but just use enough until the dough is nice and soft but not too sticky.

Knead briefly on a very lightly floured work surface. Then gently roll out until about 2cm thick. Have a greased baking tray ready. Use a 2″ cutter and cut out rounds of the dough. Place on the tray. Keep the same way up all the time as you will get a much better rise.

Once they are all on the tray, brush the tops with some of the rest of the milk and egg. Bake for ten minutes or until they are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Cool on a wire rack if you aren’t eating them straight away, warm! Top with clotted or whipped double cream and your favourite jam.

This recipe is a Mary Berry one and I have never found a better way to make scones.


Tea time Uncategorized


I recently spent some time helping out a few of the lovely nannies from Freckles Childcare Agency with some cooking skills. This cake was one of the recipes we made and I only wish I had come across it before. It is the model of simplicity – just throw everything in a bowl, whisk well and pop in the oven. Less than half a hour later you have a scrumptious cake, light as a feather and all that remains to do is the fun of whipping up an indulgent cream cheese icing. It’s a great recipe to have up your sleeve for those times when you want a really yummy cake but don’t have a lot of time to make one.

How you finish it is up to you but I suspect that no one will burst into tears at the sight of some good old fashioned chocolate flake liberally adorning the top. Alternatively, just fill the centre and finish with a sensible dusting of icing sugar.

This recipe uses an American cup measure – if you don’t have one a medium sized mug will do.

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 large egg


300g icing sugar, sieved
125g cream cheese (use philadelphia as it holds up better, some go a bit soft)
50g softened unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
(If you are icing the top of the cake as well you may like to make a bit more icing, eg 400g icing sugar, 175g cream cheese and 70g butter)

Pre-heat the oven to 180c

Grease and line two 8″ sandwich tins

Measure all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Whisk well until the mix is smooth. Divide evenly between the two tins.

Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until the cake is springy to the touch.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins.

While the cakes are cooling, whisk the icing ingredients together. If you like you could add cocoa powder to make a chocolate icing.

Either fill just the middle of the cake or use the icing to fill both the centre and put on the top. Sprinkle over crumbled chocolate flakes (two is about right) or dust the top of the cake with icing sugar.