21 Dec 2008


Yet another Christmas cake! Here are my cakes from the last two years of postings.

I would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and New Year. I will be back in the new year with lots more recipes and photographs.

Thank you to the scores of thousands of people from around the world, who have stopped by and looked at my blog. Also a huge thank you for leaving such generous comments.

Last weekend we went to our local coffee shop, to see if we could pick up any hints and tips in our continuing endeavour to make the perfect cup of coffee. This photograph was taken at Sadliers Coffee Lounge, which has been voted the UK's Best Coffee Shop. As a coffee lover this was the perfect start to Christmas!

14 Dec 2008


The sparkling clementines bathing in the Cointreau syrup look so pretty they can be served piled high in a glass bowl, without even considering making the cake. This is how I served them last year, and they are a very welcome dessert after all the rich food we had devoured!

The clementines are submerged in the Cointreau syrup for 24 hours before using and are simply turned now and again. The sparkling clementines in their syrup can be made in advance and popped into the freezer.

The cake was made with ready-to-eat apricots that had been simmered gently in clementine juice. A tender crumbed, moist cake that either keeps well or can be frozen. This cake is an all-in-one mixture and so no labour intensive cake making here!

This recipe is by Mary Cadogan who is now a food consultant for BBCGoodFood Magazine.


ISBN 056352149X - Page 122

Serves: 6

You will need: A buttered and base lined 20cm round cake tin.

For the cake: 100g ready-to-eat finely chopped dried apricots, 175ml clementine juice (6-8 clementines), 100g softened butter, 100g golden caster sugar, 2 eggs, 50g self-raising flour, 175g ground almonds, ½ tsp vanilla extract, 2 tbs slivered almonds, icing sugar for dusting.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4/Fan 160°C. Place the apricots in a pan with the clementine juice. Bring to the boil, then gently simmer for 5 minutes. Leave to cool.
2. Beat the butter, sugar, eggs and flour in a bowl for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, then fold in the ground almonds, vanilla and apricots along with their juices.
3. Put the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Scatter over the slivered almonds. Bake in the oven for approximately 40-50 minutes until firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out and cool on a wire rack. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container).

For the Sparkling Clementines:

8 clementines, 175g golden caster sugar, 5 tablespoons Cointreau or Grand Marnier.

1. Squeeze the juice from 2 clementines and put to one side. Peel the remaining clementines and remove all the pith, place them in a heatproof bowl.
2. Put the sugar in a saucepan with 6 tablespoons cold water. Gently heat, stirring gently until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat, stop stirring and rapidly boil until the syrup turns light caramel, about 2-4 minutes.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the clementine juice and Cointreau. Return to the heat and stir until the caramel is smooth, then pour it over the whole clementines. Turn them in the syrup, then cover with a saucer to submerge them and leave in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

To Serve: Dust the cake with icing sugar. Slice the cake and put a wedge on each plate with a clementine. Spoon the syrup over the cake and fruit. Serve with Greek yogurt.

8 Dec 2008


I thought how striking the colours were in my Apricot, Almond and Cranberry cake and with some of the leftover fruits made this granola.

The granola is full of wonderful dried fruits, nuts and seeds, also it gave me an opportunity to use some of my freshly grated coconut I have squirreled away in the freezer.

The recipe makes a huge 1.5kg, but I simply halved the original recipe and stored the granola in a large kilner jar.

This seasonal granola would be wonderful as a gift, especially if you are to be a house guest over Christmas, and I couldn't think of a better way to start Christmas day than with a bowl of jewelled granola.

The recipe also comes under another title Crunchy Nutty Muesli and is in Rachel's Favourite Food ISBN 0717138984 this can be found on page 89.

Sometime ago I made granola and this too was a runaway success. As an added bonus for all of you Nigel Slater fans, I have given the recipe for his Two-Oat Muesli in the comment box!

Well, I seem to be on a roll now using up the cranberries and apricots. Pop back in a weeks time to see what else I've made!

After many reqests here is the recipe for Crunchy Nutty Granola.

Makes 1.5kg

125g butter, 150ml runny honey, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 500g rolled oats, 50g roughly chopped pecan nuts, 150g roughly chopped hazelnuts, 75g pumpkin seeds, 75g sunflower seeds, 50g golden linseeds, 100g desiccated coconut, 300g mixed dried fruit such as dates, figs, apricots, raisins, sultanas, cranberries (the larger fruit chopped)

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas3.
2. Place the butter, honey and vanilla extract in a small saucepan on a low heat and gently melt together. Mix the oats, nuts, seeds and desiccated coconut together in a large bowl. Pour over the melted butter and honey mixture and stir really well to ensure all the dry ingredients are evenly coated.
3. Divide the mixture between two large baking trays and spread in an even layer. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays, stirring every now and then. (If you transfer it into a deep bowl at this stage, while it is still warm, it will go soggy.)
4. Once completely cool, transfer to a large bowl and stir in your choice of dried fruits. Pour into an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to two months.