21 Dec 2011


A Christmas Cake with all the usual sparkle we can safely get away with at this time of the year.

It was my first visit to Cake International at the NEC Birmingham this year and I have no idea why I have never made the trip before. Fortunately, I have a very understanding husband, who made no comments regarding my purchases, only to say, did I get everything I needed for my Christmas Cakes, bless!

Back soon.

18 Dec 2011

Iced Reindeer Christmas Cake

A Reindeer Christmas Cake for my two small grandchildren and their Mummy and Daddy! I know it's unusual for small children to like fruit cake, but they both really enjoy it.

A very easy cake to decorate using Christmas red icing, two sizes of reindeer cutters, a Christmas tree cutter, red glitter, small red and gold stars, a dusting of snowflake sprinkles, and two different ribbons. Some of the items were purchased on my day out to Cake International in Birmingham last month, and as you can see I used my time well!

Back soon!

11 Dec 2011

Nigel Slater's Coffee and Walnut Cake

Do you think Nigel will approve of the way I have decorated the cake? I am guessing not, but I fell in love with these little coffee cup chocolates and decorated my coffee and walnut cake with them instead of the usual walnuts. Well, it is coming up to Christmas...........and if it looks good and tastes good, then that's ok with me.

These coffee cups were made especially for me (well perhaps not!). Here we have cappuccino, caramel macchiato, hazelnut latte and espresso.

The cake is light and fluffy, the buttercream can be made stronger with the addition of more coffee to counteract some of the sweetness, the tiny coffee cups are perfect......it's good enough to make you forget Christmas is on the horizon!

The cake keeps well and here is the recipe:

You will need: 2 x 21cm greased sponge tins.

For the cake: 175g softened butter, 175g unrefined golden caster sugar, 65g chopped walnut pieces, 3 large eggs, 175g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas Mark 4. Beat the butter and sugar until light, pale and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time to the butter and sugar, beating well after each addition.
2. Mix the flour and baking powder together and mix gently into the cake batter. Stir the dissolved coffee into the cake mix, followed by the chopped walnuts.
3. Divide the cake mixture between the two cake tins, smooth lightly and bake for 20-25 minutes.

For the buttercream: 200g softened butter, 400g icing sugar, 2 tsp instant coffee granules, 60g walnut halves.

To make the buttercream:

1. Beat the softened butter until soft and pale, add the icing sugar and beat until soft and fluffy. Dissolve the coffee granules in 1 tbsp boiling water and then mix into the buttercream. Fold in the walnut pieces.
2. Spread one of the cakes with a third of the buttercream, then place the second sponge on top, and spread the remaining buttercream on the top, and around the sides if you wish.

28 Nov 2011

Jamie Oliver's Chocolate Love Cake with Cherries and Booze

Does the special person in your life like brownies? If so, you could make this Love Cake, a recipe from Jamie Oliver, especially for them. It has a squidgy brownie consistency, is dotted with cherries and has a boozy chocolate sauce poured over. The original recipe has crushed hazelnuts added but I like this dessert without.

Men often leave present buying until the last minute, and find it really difficult choosing presents. Why not be kind to him this Christmas and leave a list of ideas, this way at least you should get something you like. If you have a dish like mine, you can attach a craft label onto the handle with a list of your Christmas wishes!

You are possibly wondering if I have done this - the answer is no, I'm just trying to help!

The dessert is quite rich and very similar to a brownie in taste and texture. I served mine with some of the reserved chocolate sauce, and a dollop of creme fraiche, which cuts through the richness.

You will need: 9 or 10 inches ovenproof dish greased.

For the cake: 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 100g softened butter, 100g caster sugar, 1 egg, 100g self-raising flour, ½ tsp baking powder, ½ tin black cherries drained.

For the chocolate sauce: 25g butter, 142ml double cream, 75g dark chocolate broken into pieces, a splash of either brandy, rum, Amaretto or Baileys.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
2. Mix the cocoa powder with a few tablespoons of boiling water and stir until the mixture is smooth.
3. In another bowl beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the cooled cocoa mixture, egg, flour and baking flour. Mix all together and pour into the ovenproof dish. Sprinkle over the cherries and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
4. To check if the cake is ready, make sure it doesn't wobble too much then it's done, if not give it some more time in the oven.
5. To make the chocolate sauce: Place the butter in a small pan with the cream and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate pieces to the pan. Give it all a good stir and leave for 5 minutes so the hot cream can melt the chocolate. Add a splash of either brandy, rum, Amaretto or Baileys and stir until thoroughly combined.
6. Once the cake is ready, pour over the warm chocolate sauce. Any sauce that is left will reheat in the microwave.

Good Luck!

23 Nov 2011

Gordon Ramsay's Apple & Pear Crumble Tart

A perfect tart for Christmas! With notes of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg - apples, pears, a delicious layer of almond frangipane, crisp pastry and a crumble topping.

I'm not too happy about sweet pastry when you have lot's of sweetness in a recipe, it's just too much and sugar overload. A well made shortcrust pastry base, baked blind until crisp is my preferred method.

I can't see any reason why this tart shouldn't freeze successfully, it can be sliced into portions when it is fridge cold and then put in the freezer. It also heats up successfully in the microwave. The tart is a real winner and will feed a crowd too. Simply serve with ice cream or pouring cream.

Gordon Ramsay has given us some fabulous recipes for desserts and this apple, pear and almond frangipane tart with a crumble topping is amazing.

The recipe is what I call high faff but it can be made in stages to lighten the faff element. I used my dicing gadget to make perfect dice of apples and pears because my knife skills are too clumsy to do this and I would probably end up in A&E!

Serves: 8

You will need: 34cm x 11cm oblong tin greased.

Filling: 4 Braeburn apples peeled and diced, 4 pears peeled and diced, a large pinch of ground ginger and cinnamon, a grating of nutmeg, 25g butter, juice of half a lemon.

Crumble: 160g unsalted butter, 2tbsp soft brown sugar, 150g plain flour, 80g demerara sugar, 25g roasted chopped hazelnuts.

Almond Frangipane: 50g butter, 50g icing sugar, 1 egg, 10g flour, 50g ground almonds.

Pastry: 220g plain flour, 50g lard, 50g butter, 3tbsp cold water

1. For the pastry: Put the flour, lard and butter in a food processor, blitz until breadcrumbs, add the cold water and process until the mixture comes together. Tip onto cling film, form into a flattened circle. Cover with clingwrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Roll out the pastry, line the tin and bake blind using Delia's method.
3. To make the frangipane: Cream the butter and icing sugar together, slowly mix in the egg, flour and ground almonds. Chill for 2 hours before using.
4. To make the filling: toss the diced fruit in lemon juice to stop them browning. Take the fruit and mix with the spices. Heat a knob of the butter until foaming, then add the fruit and toss for about 30 seconds. Add the soft brown sugar and cook until the fruit is soft, but not broken down. Cool.
5. To make the crumble: Rub the remaining butter into the flour and stir in the demerara sugar and hazelnuts. Fill the tart with the frangipane, then fruit, and top with the crumble mix.
6. Heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°F/Gas 4. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

13 Nov 2011

Christmas Individual Fruit and Grand Marnier Trifles

These trifles are easily put together and all you need is a bag of frozen berries from the freezer and you are part way to assembling a delicious trifle. The recipe is fairly low fat but is easily tweaked, bought custard can be used instead of making it yourself, also whipped cream can be used instead of the yogurt. Mr W and I enjoyed this low fat trifle and surprisingly didn't miss using cream for the topping.

The original recipe was fruit overload (as in the photograph), and in this instance you can definitely have too much of a good thing. You can never have too much Grand Marnier though.

Serves: 4

For the custard:
3 free-range egg yolks, 25g caster sugar, 1dsp cornflour, 300ml semi-skimmed milk, dash vanilla extract.

For the trifle:
4 slices of Madeira cake or trifle sponges, 4 tablespoons Grand Marnier, 200g mixed half thawed frozen berries, 200g Organic Greek Style Yogurt, 3tbsp sifted icing sugar, 1tsp vanilla extract, few extra berries to decorate.

1. For the custard: mix together the egg yolks with the caster sugar and cornflour. Heat the milk in a pan and when it is hot stir into the egg mixture, then pour into a clean saucepan and stir over a moderate heat until thickened. Add the vanilla extract, pour into a bowl and cover the clingfilm to prevent a skin forming, leave to cool.
2. Put the cake slices in the bottom of each glass, then drizzle over the liqueur. Divide the berries between them, then whisk the custard again and spoon over the berries and cake. In a separate bowl, mix together the yogurt, sugar and vanilla then spoon over the top. Leave in the fridge for the flavours to get to know each other. Decorate with a few extra berries.

1 Nov 2011

Christmas Chocolate Cupcakes

It's coming up to that time of year again! These happy little men are surrounded by snow and a dusting of silver glitter.

The cream cheese frosting makes a welcome change from the usual buttercream and pipes really well. If you find the frosting is a little soft just pop it into the fridge covered for a few minutes to firm up. Don't be tempted to use anything other than full fat cream cheese, I used Philadelphia, or you won't be able to pipe the swirls.

Makes: 12 cupcakes

You will need: a twelve hole muffin tin lined with muffin cases.

For the cupcakes:

100g self raising flour, 125g softened butter, 125g caster sugar, 2 medium eggs, 2 tablespoons milk, 3 level tablespoons cocoa powder

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. In a bowl beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and milk, fold in the sifted flour and cocoa powder until the mixture is smooth.
3. Divide the mixture between the cases and bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked.
4. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting

200g Philadelphia Full Fat Cream Cheese at room temperature, 400g sifted icing sugar, 70g softened butter.

1. Simply mix all the ingredients together until light and fluffy.
2. Pipe swirls on top of the cupcakes.

28 Oct 2011

Halloween Baked Toffee Apples

Toffee Apples
Let's not forget about the grownups at Halloween. This recipe is easy to prepare and looks after itself in the oven. The best part though is the rum caramel sauce poured over the apples after they come out of the oven.

Serves: 6

You will need: 25g softened unsalted butter, 25g light muscovado sugar, finely grated zest of 1 lemon plus 1 tbsp lemon juice, 30g currants, 40g raisins, 6 red eating apples, 6tbsp golden syrup, 1tbsp rum, creme fraiche to serve.

1. Beat the butter and muscovado sugar together until creamy, beat in the lemon zest and juice (the mixture will look curdled), fold in the raisins and currants. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F/Gas 4.
2. Using the tip of a sharp knife, score a circle around the middle of each apple (I didn't do this and they were still ok). Carefully cut out the apple cores using an apple corer.
3. Loosely stuff the cavities with the dried fruit to within 1cm of the top and place the apples in a baking dish spaced slightly apart. Drizzle 1 tbsp syrup over each one and bake for 45 minutes, basting every 15 minutes.
4. Transfer the apples to plates or a serving dish, spooning any loose dried fruit back inside and reserving the syrupy cooking juices in a small pan. Leave the apples to cool for 10-15 minutes.
5. Simmer the cooking juices until reduced by half and a light caramel colour, then stir in the rum. Pour the caramel sauce over the apples and serve with creme fraiche.

20 Oct 2011

Roast Pears with Star Anise, Blackberries and Lemon

Pears stained by blackberries look so pretty, but add to them a few bay leaves, star anise and cinnamon we know autumn is here. If you have any blackberries in the freezer to use up or a glut of pears, this dessert is perfect.

The recipe calls for maple syrup but at the time I made this there wasn't any in the store cupboard and so I used honey instead, the dessert was still delicious. This dessert is best eaten at room temperature.

Serves: 6

You will need: 6 ripe but firm pears, 1 small lemon, 3 tablespoons maple syrup or runny honey, 2 or 3 fresh bay leaves, 2 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 150g blackberries.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel, halve and core the pears. Place the pears in a single layer in an ovenproof dish.
2. Using a peeler, remove the skin from the lemon in strips, scatter over the pears. Juice the lemon and drizzle over the pears along with the maple syrup and 200ml of cold water.
3. Tuck the bay leaves, star anise and cinnamon stick among the pear halves and bake for 20 minutes.
4. After 20 minutes, scatter the blackberries over the pear halves and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
5. Take the pear and blackberry mixture out of the oven and turn them in the juices from the blackberries. Leave to cool.

8 Oct 2011

Individual Lemon Meringues

These individual lemon meringues are a perfect dessert, especially if you are in a hurry and haven't time to make a pastry case.

There were two lemons in the fridge and I decided to put them to good use, and for the two of us today, these were perfect. The dessert is luscious and lemony, the meringue is crisp on the outside and squashy within.

Serves 4: You will need: 12cm creme brulee dishes.

For the lemon curd:

Grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons, 300ml water, 30g cornflour, 50g caster sugar, 2 large egg yolks

For the meringue:

4 large egg whites, 200g caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
2. To make the lemon curd: Put the cornflour and sugar into a medium saucepan and gradually stir in the water. Mix to a smooth paste and then into a cloudy liquid, add the lemon zest. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time, simmer for two minutes. Add the lemon juice and stir well.
3. Put the egg yolks into a mixing bowl. Gradually pour the lemon mixture over them, stirring all the time. divide the lemon mixture between the creme brulee dishes.
4. To make the meringue: whisk the egg whites until stiff, add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until thick and glossy.
5. Using a palatte knife spread the meringue over the lemon bases. Make peaks over the top. Place in the oven for 45 minutes until golden and crisp.
6. Serve either warm at room temperature.

3 Oct 2011


These mini carrot cakes were an excuse to dust off my mini loaf tins which I haven't used for a while. The cakes are deliciously moist with background notes of cinnamon and ground ginger and the lemon cream cheese icing compliments the cake well.

You will need: 20 mini loaf tins lightly greased (5cm x 10cm) or two mini loaf pans.

175g brown sugar, 250ml vegetable oil, 4 large eggs, 200g plain flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 250g grated carrot, 50g chopped pecan nuts plus extra for decoration, 80g sultanas, 125ml crushed pineapple.

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Place the greased mini loaf tins onto a baking tray. Beat together the sugar, eggs and oil for 5 minutes until fluffy.
2. Sift the dry ingredients and add to the sugar, oil and egg mixture, together with the grated carrots, nuts, pineapple and sultanas.
3. Mix everything together and pour into the loaf tins.
4. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

You will need:
60g softened unsalted butter, 250g icing sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 80g cream cheese, grated zest of 1 lemon

Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat together until the icing is light and fluffy. Spread the icing over the cooled cakes, decorate with extra pecans.

11 Sept 2011

Giant Chocolate Buttons Cupcakes - National Cupcake Week 12-18 September 2011

It's National Cupcake Week and I decided to make some very easy chocolate cupcakes and decorate them with giant chocolate buttons.

The Giant Chocolate Buttons are from Marks and Spencer and look like real buttons. They come in a fabulous box with a real button attached, all of the buttons are in individual wrappers to stop the chocolate getting marked. Brilliant product.

I am not going to take any credit for the idea of using these buttons because the lady who owns my local coffee shop makes cupcakes topped with these, so lets say, I just borrowed the idea. I know she won't mind and will be flattered that I went home and made some too.

I have been having some problems with cupcake cases from one of the large supermarkets getting squashed in my muffin tin. By this, I mean when the cupcakes have been removed from the tin the concertina's on the cupcake cases have squashed themselves into the baked cupcake, it doesn't happen to all of them though. I think this is because the cupcake cases are too large for the tin. It isn't a problem that I have encountered before. Has anyone else had any problems with cupcake cases or am I on my own with this problem?

Happy Cupcake Week!

4 Sept 2011

Lin, Pain d'Espices & Chocolat

I would like to introduce you to a blog that is written by a lady who lives in France - Lin, Pain d'Espices & Chocolat which translates to Linen, Gingerbread & Chocolate. I have corresponded with Veronique, the writer of the blog, for some time now. It was from her love of reading English Literature, and Sussex Pond Pudding being mentioned in the book Veronique was currently reading, that she did an Internet search to see what the pudding was and found my blog, because I have a couple of postings on here for Sussex Pond Pudding. By coincidence, Veronique used to be a French teacher at the same school in London where my daughter is now a teacher!

The blog covers food, interiors, travel, film, novels, photography and her love for the UK and beyond. No tickets or travel required, click on the link to take a look at this beautiful blog Lin, Pain d'Espices & Chocolat.

2 Sept 2011

Raspberry, Blueberry and Lime Drizzle Cake

This cake is definitely one I will be making time and time again and I can't believe it has taken me so long to get round to making it.

It's full of fruity goodness and is a cake cum dessert bake. The lime drizzle is fresh and tangy, so it's a win, win bake.

I used frozen fruit and it worked perfectly, a tip here is not to stir frozen fruit into the cake mix or you will end up with streaked batter. I always put the batter into the lined tin and then simply put the fruit on top and press it down.

When it's cooled down cut into slices and put in the freezer for cake or dessert time!

The recipe is from the BBC Good Food website who, as always, bring us the most amazing bakes.

I know that there has been a lot in the press lately regarding obesity but it's everything in moderation. Although there are a number of sweet bakes on my website, I don't eat cake all day long:( My intake of cake is confined to one piece of cake in the evening with a cup of coffee, this ritual seems to take place at around 9 pm each evening and I am non the worse for this, because cake makes me happy! Most of the bakes on my website can be cut into sensible size portions and frozen, then thawed either in the microwave or at room temperature.

Happy baking and enjoy!

31 Aug 2011

Spatchcock Chicken with Lemon, Oregano and Paprika and Crunchy Rice Salad

My husband is brilliant at cooking a barbecue and will cook outside for us in all weathers, providing there is a glass of wine to hand! The weather was a bit gloomy last Sunday but he cooked such a fabulous meal for us it didn't matter. I am sorry but you will all have to find yourself an 'all weathers' man for yourself, mines definitely taken!

There are a couple of other recipes on this site for spatchcock chicken - Spatchcock Chicken with Gremolata and a recipe by Nigella Lawson Spatchcock Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary, I couldn't choose a favourite because I enjoy them all equally.

I had already skewered the chicken and then decided to cook the chicken under a brick, which is simply a brick (or similar heavy weight) wrapped in a double layer of foil and placed on top of the spatchcock chicken to weigh it down and to ensure more of the surface area is in direct contact with the cooking surface. It's best to oil the foil otherwise it tends to stick to the chicken skin.

To spatchcock a chicken:
Sit the chicken breast-side down on a clean work surface. Using poultry shears or a good pair of kitchen scissors,cut along the centre back of the chicken, running from thigh to wing on each side and removing the backbone from tail to neck. Open up the chicken and flatten by pushing down hard on the breastbone. Secure in position with metal skewers running from thigh to opposite wing.

Only a few ingredients are required for this recipe and if you can find a brick to use so much the better.

You will need:

1 whole spatchcock chicken, 1-2 tsp olive oil, grated zest of 1 lemon plus juice of 2 lemons, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon dried oregano

1. Put the oil, lemon zest and juice, paprika, salt and black pepper into a bowl and mix together.
2. Put the chicken into a large freezer bag and pour in the marinade to coat the chicken. Marinate for 1 hour.
3. Heat the barbecue until hot. Sprinkle the oregano liberally all over the chicken and cook for 40-50 minutes until golden and cooked through. Remove to a plate and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Serve with a lovely Crunchy Salad.

You will need:

175g basmati and wild rice, 50g raisins, zest and juice 1 lime, 6 tbsp olive oil, 1 deseeded and chopped red chilli, 6 sliced spring onions, 1 deseeded and chopped red pepper, 4 celery sticks scrubbed and chopped, 1 red-skinned apple cored and chopped.

1. Cook the rice according to the instructions on the pack until tender. Strain the rice and cool by running cold water over. Drain well.
2. Whisk together the lime zest and juice and the olive oil, season with salt and ground black pepper.
3. Tip the cooled rice into a bowl and stir in the dressing followed by the rest of the ingredients. Keep in the fridge.

A nice glass of bubbly!

12 Aug 2011

Jamie Oliver's Cauliflower Cheese

Jamie has given an old favourite a makeover and for me, this is the best and easiest recipe ever. No messing about making a cheese sauce anymore, the sauce is made from a pot of creme fraiche into which a good amount of cheddar cheese is added.

The topping is simply breadcrumbs mixed with some olive oil, smoked streaky bacon and rosemary leaves. The cauliflower cheese in the photograph is topped only with breadcrumbs and olive oil.

It might not be the most photogenic dish on here, but oh my goodness, does it taste good!

Taken from Ministry of Food

Serves: 4-6

You will need: 1 large cauliflower, leaves picked from 2 sprigs rosemary, 4 anchovy fillets (not in this house though!), 400ml creme fraiche, 200g grated Cheddar cheese, 4 slices of bread, 1 rasher smoked streaky bacon, extra virgin olive oil, salt and black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
2. Break the cauliflower into small pieces and add to a pan of boiling water with a pinch of salt and boil for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander.
3. Chop up the anchovy fillets and put them into a bowl with the creme fraiche. Stir in 100g Cheddar cheese and season with salt and pepper.
4. Pour a lug of extra virgin olive oil into a food processor and add the 4 slices of bread with the crusts left on, the rasher of smoked bacon and the rosemary leaves. Whiz until you have breadcrumbs.
5. Place the cauliflower into a medium size baking dish, spoon over the sauce, sprinkle over the remaining 100g Cheddar cheese and top with the breadcrumb mixture.
6. Cook for 45 minutes until golden, crisp and bubbling.

6 Aug 2011

Shortbread and Berry Tartlets

This is a three ingredient, but fabulous summer dessert. All I did was to take a box of Marks & Spencer All Butter Shortbread Thins and spread them with a sugarfree raspberry jam and then topped them with raspberries I had picked from my garden. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy an effortless red berry dessert just perfect for this time of the year.

19 Jul 2011


Jamie's recipe for pork belly is my favourite and one I have cooked since his book, Cook With Jamie, was released in 2006.

This is an easy, no fail recipe, and only requires the best pork you can afford. The pork in Jamie's recipe is cooked on a bed of fennel but if you don't want to use the fresh fennel then the pork will still taste fabulous.

This is the tastiest belly pork ever, it is coated in a mixture of bashed up fennel seeds and salt and after an hour or so a bottle of white wine is added to the roasting tin. Long slow cooking is also the secret to perfect belly pork and not one to be rushed, as with all good things!

I always score the pork myself because invariably the meat has never been scored very well, even though I always buy it from the butcher. We have a huge meat knife hidden away in the cupboard, which is a bit scary, but it makes easy work of scoring meat.

You will fall in love with this recipe, just as I have, and your kitchen will be full of the most beautiful aroma's. I know once tried there will be no turning back.....

Here is the original recipe, for the two of us I mostly buy a 1.5kg joint because I like to have some leftovers.

Serves: 6-8

2kg pork belly on the bone, 2 tablespoons fennel seeds, sea salt and black pepper. 4 fennel bulbs, each cut into sixths, herby tops removed and reserved, small bunch fresh thyme leaves picked, 5 unpeeled cloves of garlic, olive oil, bottle of white wine

1. Preheat the oven to its maximum temperature. Score the skin of the pork.
2. In a pestle and mortar bash up the fennel seeds with a tablespoon of salt until you have a powder, then massage into the scores of the skin.
3. In a roasting tin toss the fresh fennel with the thyme, garlic, a good splash of oil and some salt and pepper. Place the pork belly into the preheated oven. After 10 minutes turn the oven down to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3 and roast the pork for a further hour.
4. When the hour is up, take the tray out of the oven, pour away any excess fat, add the white wine and pop back in the oven for another hour.
5. Remove the fennel and keep warm whilst you put the pork back in for a final hour until the skin is golden and crisp and the meat is melt in the mouth tender. If the wine evaporates during the cooking time, add a splash more wine or water to loosen and make a light gravy.
6. Let the pork rest for 10 minutes. Carve into large chunks and serve with gravy and the fennel.


16 Jul 2011

Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans Cupcakes

It seems that once I get a theme going, I just don't know when to stop. Not so long ago, it was cupcakes and flowers and now it is cupcakes and chocolate.

Mr W and I went on a shopping spree for cake toppings and to make the cupcakes even more calorific, I have a box overflowing with wonderful chocolate cake toppings. The great thing about this theme is, I/we get to eat any decorations that are left over.

I made a vanilla cake base, piped with buttercream and simply topped them with these fabulous chocolate covered coffee beans from Waitrose.

You will need: A muffin tin lined with 12 cupcake cases

115g softened butter, 115g caster sugar, 115g self raising flour, 2 eggs, 1-2 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1. Beat together the butter and caster sugar until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs slowly to the mixture, together with the vanilla extract and milk. Fold in the flour.
2. Divide the batter between 12 cupcake cases and cook in a preheated oven 180°C for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Buttercream Icing

250g unsalted butter, 500g icing sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon hot water

Simply mix all the ingredients together until light and fluffy.

14 Jul 2011

Peach and Raspberry Slice

Another Bill Granger recipe taken from his book, Bill Granger Every Day, there are so many great recipes you are spoilt for choice.

It's always good to cook with fruits that are in season, the raspberries were freshly picked from my garden, unfortunately the same can't be said about the peaches.

This is an unusual recipe and I kept my fingers crossed it would work out. Fortunately, it never let me down - the base is sticky with a cake layer on top. This is quite sweet and I would recommend cutting down on the sugar. The slice kept well in the fridge.

You will need: 20 x 30 cm greased and lined tin but a smaller tin will give you a thicker cake layer.

185g plain flour, 1½ teaspoons baking powder, plus ½ teaspoon extra, 125g chilled and cubed butter, 115g soft brown sugar, 115g caster sugar, 3 peeled and sliced peaches, 90g raspberries, 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract, 1 lightly beaten egg, 185ml milk

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line the tin.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in both of the sugars. Press half the mixture over the base of the tin. Lay the peaches over the top and sprinkle over the raspberries.
3. Add the vanilla extract, the extra baking powder, egg and milk to the rest of the base mixture and stir well. Pour evenly over the top of the peaches and raspberries and bake for 1 hour. Cool in the tray, then cut into squares.

To peel peaches: score a cross in the skin with a sharp knife, then blanch the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, refresh in cold water and peel the skin away from the cross.

10 Jul 2011

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

I couldn't resist buying a box of White Chocolate Raspberries dusted with freeze dried raspberries, from Marks & Spencer, this beautifully designed box sold them to me immediately.

I could have just eaten the lot, but I decided to top some cupcakes with them and share the remainder with my husband, I would have felt guilty forever if I hadn't saved him any chocolates.

Makes: 12

You will need:

115g butter at room temperature, 115g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 115g self-raising flour, 2 tablespoons milk, grated zest of 1 lemon.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
3. Sift over the flour and fold in by hand. Stir in the milk and lemon zest.
4. Spoon heaped tablespoons of batter into each paper case and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
5. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and leave to cool completely before decorating.

Buttercream Icing

This recipe isn't as rich as a normal buttercream icing because my husband finds the topping a bit much.

You will need: 167g softened butter, 500g sifted icing sugar, two tablespoons hot boiled water.

Simply whisk all the ingredients together until light and fluffy.

2 Jul 2011

Apple and Cherry Tart

This recipe is from Bill Granger Every Day. On my bookshelf there is a gap just waiting to be filled with his latest book, Bill's Basics. I have all of his other books and started buying them before he was a recognised name in this country. It was his love of breakfast and brunch that attracted me to him, and also the fact that he has the ability to even make scrambled eggs seem glamorous.

I chose to make one large tart in my tarte tatin tin, it needs to be made in a metal pie dish of some sort otherwise the underneath pastry won't cook, soggy pastry bottoms are horrid. The individual tarts are a bit fiddly because you have to line the muffin tin holes with strips of baking parchment, to lift the tarts out after they are cooked, but they are worth every minute of your time. A more cost effective way is to put the filling in a tart tin and just top with the pastry which is something I have done in the past, so one recipe and lots of different ways to make the tart.

The sweet pastry is fabulous, although I think it would be a good idea to use less sugar, the pastry rolls out easily which is always something to be grateful for. I'm not a fan of sweet pastry because it can be sugar overload especially when the filling has already had sugar added to it.

According to my husband this tart is one of the best I have ever made and everyone should like it - I think I'll make this one again because I think it did the trick, he bought me some new furniture today!

The recipe can be found here on the Good Food Channel website. A couple of things regarding this link, the photograph doesn't look like cherry pies and also the mixed spice isn't in the original recipe.

26 Jun 2011


I watched Delia on a TV advertisement making Strawberry & Vanilla Pavlova, so next time I went shopping in Waitrose, I couldn't resist picking up the Waitrose Recipe Collection card.

I always use Nigella's pavlova recipe, which for me just can't be beaten, I looked at Delia's recipe and to me it's a meringue recipe and not a pavlova recipe. A friend brought us some homegrown redcurrants, I then returned to the Waitrose Recipe Collection card and made the vanilla cream and strawberry sauce. So basically, I have paired Delia up with Nigella!

The secret to a great pavlova is to make it the evening before and then let it dry out in the cooling oven. This way you will get a crisp outside and a marshmallow inner, bliss.

The vanilla cream, which is made with fromage frais and Mascarpone set to give a firm filling. Next time I would alter the recipe yet again and use my usual filling of softly whipped cream mixed with yogurt. The pavlova was delicious except for the cream filling which my husband wasn't very keen on. You must make the strawberry sauce though because it is so very, very delicious.

Has anyone else made Delia's Strawberry & Vanilla Pavlova?

Nigella's Pavlova recipe from How to Eat.

You will need: A large baking tray lined with baking parchment.

4 large egg whites, 250g caster sugar, 2 teaspoons cornflour, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they reach the soft peak stage. Whisk in the caster sugar a third at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
Fold in the vanilla essence, cornflour and white wine vinegar.
3. Draw a 20cm circle on the baking parchment, put blobs of meringue on a baking tray, turn the greaseproof paper over and stick the baking parchment down onto the tray.
4. Spoon the meringue onto the baking parchment circle and flatten the top and smooth the sides.
5. Place in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 150°C and cook for 1¼ hours.
6. Turn the oven off and leave in the oven overnight to dry out.
7. Take the pavlova off the baking paper, fill with cream and decorate with fruit.

8 Jun 2011


My strawberries are fabulous this year and I think the squirrel has got the message at last that my strawberries belong to me and not to him!

I was very fortunate a couple of years ago and won a huge prize from Rocket Gardens which included a fruit garden, a spring and autumn vegetable garden, herbs and other garden goodies as well. I couldn't use all of the prize and I donated lots of it to my Grandson's school who have an allotment, which is supervised and run by a very keen gardener, namely the caretaker. He couldn't contain himself with excitement when I told him his school and the children were to share in my good fortune and I know they have had lots of fun with all of the plants Rocket Gardens sent to them on my behalf.

I made some lemon cupcakes, topped them with butter cream and half a strawberry - delicious.

Makes: 12 cupcakes

You will need: A standard size 12 hole cupcake tin lined with paper cases.

125g softened butter, 125g caster sugar, 2 medium eggs, finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon, 125g self-raising flour.

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, lemon rind and juice. Fold in the flour.
3. Divide the mixture between the paper cases and bake in the centre of the oven until the cakes have risen and are just firm to the touch in the centre or bake for about 20 minutes.
4. Remove the cakes from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool.


You will need:

175g softened unsalted butter, 350g sifted icing sugar, 3 tbsp boiling water, few drops vanilla extract.

1. Beat the butter in a bowl to soften it. Add the icing sugar, boiling water and vanilla extract, and beat until the icing is very smooth and pale in colour.

23 May 2011


This classic recipe is taken from Nigel Slater's wonderful book Tender Vol II.
A Cook's Guide to the Fruit Garden.

Only three ingredients are used in this delicious recipe, lemons, sugar and cream and they produce one of the best desserts you will ever eat and perfect for a Summer's day.

Many people pass on making the dessert course and this is sometimes because of time restraints or possibly cost. This is a dessert that can be made in advance, takes ten minutes to prepare and for a cost of around £2.50 fills eight shot glasses. I bought my shot glasses from a well known discount department store and have used them time and time again. They are a crafty way to serve individual desserts and always look good on the plate.

My shortbread is a recipe by Lorraine Pascale from Baking Made Easy and you can see my posting here. The shot glass is perhaps swamped by the shortbread, but who wants a tiny piece of homemade sugary shortbread anyway.

Makes: 8 shot glass servings

500ml double cream, 150g caster sugar, 75ml lemon juice.

1. Place the cream and caster sugar into a saucepan and then bring to the boil, stir occasionally in order to dissolve the sugar. Now lower the heat and leave to bubble for approximately 3 minutes, stirring from time to time.
2. Reduce the heat enough to stop the mixture boiling over, now let it bubble enthusiastically for about 3 minutes, stirring regularly.
3. Remove from the heat, now stir in the lemon juice and leave to settle.
4. If you are using glasses leave to cool for a while and then pour into your glasses, cover with clingwrap to prevent a skin from forming.
5. Place in the fridge for a few hours before serving.


I made this shortbread to go with the Lemon Posset in the above posting. The shortbread melts in the mouth and is extremely moreish.

Shortbread is something I haven't made for a long time now and I forgot just how much better it is than shop bought. The recipe is easy to make and one that I will put on my list of recipes to return to time and time again. Dreamlike Shortbread is the recipe title and I couldn't think of a better way of describing it.

The recipe is taken from Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale.

Click here for the recipe on the BBC Food Website.

20 May 2011

Cupcakes and Sugar Sprinkles

I have recently been sent some samples of Dr. Oetker Sugar Sprinkles, Polka Dots, Citrus flavour strands, Shimmer sugar and Cake Release Spray (a new product due to be in the shops towards the end of May).

I mixed some toffee sauce into the butter cream, put a blob of toffee sauce in the centre and then sprinkled on some delicious Fudge Chunks.

Dr. Oetker can be found on Facebook or visit their online store.

Thank you Dr. Oetker

10 May 2011


Coffee and walnut cake, coffee and walnut cupcakes, both are in my top ten favourite cakes.

Some time back I was invited to the launch of Kenco Millicano. Designer Patrick Cox and Patissier Eric Lanlard teamed up with Kenco Millicano to create a Kenco Millicano 'Cake Pop'. Unfortunately, I couldn't attend because it was in London, and an evening event. I'm ok, honest, but I'm still not over missing out on this!

Kenco Millicano is a 'wholebean instant coffee': a combination of instant coffee and finely-milled Arabica coffee beans. Just perfect for making my coffee and walnut cakes.

Makes: 12

You will need: 12 hole muffin tray lined with muffin cases.

150g softened unsalted butter, 150g caster sugar, 175g self-raising flour, 3 eggs, 1 tablespoon Kenco Millicano.

1. Mix 1 tablespoon of Kenco Millicano in 1 tablespoon of boiling water. Leave to cool whilst you weigh out the other ingredients.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4.
3. Put all the cake ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat for 2 minutes until light and creamy. Divide the mixture evenly among the cake cases.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and leave to cool in the bun tray.


You will need: 150g softened unsalted butter, 250g icing sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons hot water.

1. Put the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and beat until light and smooth.
2. Add the vanilla extract and hot water, beat again.

Thank you Kenco Millicano and Mel.