Cranberry crumble muffins

I'm sure it's everyone's 'using up leftovers' time this week, and I'd bought some cranberries and not used them. We love muffins and just to make them a bit different, I added some crumble mix on the top. I saw a chef doing this on one of the food programmes. They called it 'streusel topping' and I don't know if it's different from the run-of-the-mill crumble topping?
I used my usual muffin recipe and added the cranberries and some mixed spice.
This is my tried and tested muffin recipe, gathered from a friend in the US.

I'm not sure why, but I seem to make a different number of muffins each time I use the recipe! Today I made 11.

225g plain flour
100g caster sugar]
2 tspns baking powder
1 heaped tspn mixed spice

1/2 tspn salt
1 egg
250ml milk
120ml sunflower oil [ I usually use rapeseed, but only had sunflower left ]

Preheat oven 200C/400F/gas6

Either grease a muffin tin or put paper cases into the holes.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Mix the milk, egg and oil together in a jug then add to the dry ingredients - just stir it gently and don't overmix.
Spoon the mixture into the cases or into the tin filling them nearly full.
For the topping I used 50g plain flour and 25g butter rubbed together and 1 tbspn of soft brown sugar added to the mixture. I then sprinkled a little on top of each muffin.
Bake for 15-20 mins till golden.
Cool on a wire rack.

A very Happy New Year. xx

ps My lovely dil bought me a cake stand as one of my Christmas pressies. I love it.


Christmas biscuits

I haven't been well, so not posted on here for a while, but I have been baking. My dil is German and gave me the recipes for her Christmas biscuits and I made a selection of them.

This is the recipe for the melt-in-the-mouth vanilla crescents which are on the top layer of the cake stand.

Preheat oven 175C and grease 2 baking sheets.
200g flour
80g caster sugar
175g butter
2 egg yolks
100g ground almonds
1 tspn vanilla essence
6 tbspn vanilla sugar

Mix the flour, sugar, butter and egg yolks together then add the ground almonds and the vanilla esence.
Bring the mixture together with your hands and cut in into 4. Roll out each quarter and put in the fridge for 1/2 and hour. Cut the dough into small strips then loop each strip into a crescent.
Bake for 10 mins till light brown then roll in the vanilla sugar. Cool on a wire rack.

Christmas stars

Preheat oven 100C then 75C. Grease a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

3 egg whites
250g caster sugar
1 tbspn vanilla sugar
1 tspn cinnamon
350g ground almonds

Beat the egg whites till stiff and add the caster sugar.
Take out 3 tbspns to save for the top of the biscuits.
Mix the vanilla sugar, cinnamon and ground almonds together and add to the egg white mixture a little at a time. Make the mixture into a ball and put into a polythene bag. Roll the mixture in the bag till about 1/2 cm thick and a square shape.
Remove from bag and cut out star shapes. Brush the tops of the stars with the reserved egg white.
Put into the middle of the oevn for 15mins then turn heat down for about 30 mins. The mixture should be white, not yellow or brown - if the latter, turn the heat down. Cool on a wire rack.


Lemony almond mincemeat tartlets

We are great mince pie fans, so I'm always on the lookout for a different version. Found this recipe in a Christmas pull-out from 'Prima' magagazine [from the 80s I think!] . It uses ground almonds in the pastry and it's made in a similar way to one of my favourite small cakes,Welsh cheese cake; by this I mean that you have the pastry shell, then a layer of mincemeat, then the lemon cake layer. In the Welsh cheese cake you'd have the pastry, then jam,  then cake.

This recipe makes 36 pies, but thought this was too many for us,so I halved the recipe, taking the measures to the nearest gram. This is the full recipe.

The pastry:
275g plain flour
75g icing sugar
1 tspn cinnamon
175g butter
50g ground almonds
1 egg yolk
45ml milk

450g jar mincemeat

For the cake filling:
Posted by Picasa115g butter or margarine
115g caster sugar
175g sr flour
2 large eggs
grated rind of a lemon

115g icing sugar
15ml lemon juice

Preheat oven 190C/375F/gas 5

Make the pastry by putting the flour and cinnamon in a bowl and rubbing in the butter. Add the ground almonds then mix in the egg and milk to make a soft dough. Chill the dough in the fridge for half an hour, wrapped in cling film. Then roll out the dough and cut out 36 circles to line bun tins. Put a teaspoonful of mincemeat in each pastry case.

Make the cake by beating all the ingredients together till nice and smooth. It's just a good old sponge mixture.Spoon on top of the mincemeat then smooth the tops. Bake for 20-30 mins till golden. Cool on a wire rack.

I'm not sure that I'd have bothered about the icing if my dil hadn't been here and wanted to do it! I'd have happy with some sifted icing sugar on top. So she did the fancy lines on top by mixing the icing sugar and lemon juice and putting it into an icing bag with a small hole cut out of one corner.

These little pies are really delicious. A great Christmas offering. Next time I'll make the full 36, just with icing sugar on top!


Walnut, raisin and cheese teabread

I have a friend coming to stay for a few days and have been baking in preparation for her visit. I've made a spice cake, some muffins and wanted something else a bit different to have with a cup of tea.
I decided that a savoury teabread would be unusual, and found this recipe in an old cookery book called 'Cakes, breads and gateaux'.

350g sr flour
1/2tspn salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1 level tspn dry mustard
75g butter or margarine
90g mature Cheddar, grated finely [keep 15g for the topping]
75g raisins
65g chopped walnuts [keep 15g for the topping]
1 beaten egg
250ml milk
Preheat oven 180C/350F.gas4

Grease and line a large loaf tin - 200g.
Sieve the flour, salt, cayenne and mustard together into a bowl, then add the fat and rub it in.
Stir in 75g of the grated cheese, raisins and 50g of the walnuts.
Mix the egg into the milk then add it to the mixture and beat well.
Put into the tin and level the top.
Mix the rest of the walnuts and cheese together and sprinkle over the top of the mixture.
Bake for about 1-11/4 hours till golden.
Cool on a wire rack and serve sliced with some good butter.

The texture and flavour was very good. Not sure if I liked the raisins; maybe I'd use a different fruit next time.
The crunchy topping was a good contrast to the loaf.


Food Bloggers Unplugged

I've been tagged by Suelle of Mainly Baking to join in 'Food Bloggers Unplugged'. This was the idea of Susan at A little bit of heaven on a plate to get to know something about other food bloggers.

Here goes:

1.What, or who inspired you to start a blog?

I was living in France, a bit homesick, and started my blog for my family and friends to read about some of the things I was cooking and baking. It made me feel closer to them.

2. Who is your foodie inspiration?

My inspiration was my mother; she was a superb cook and her speciality was baking. I helped her from a small child, filling tarts, rolling pastry, weighing ingredients. I especially remember my birthday parties, as my friends always talked about the great bakes Mum made - chocolate eclairs, iced slices, fondant cakes etc.

3. Your greasiest batter-splattered food/drink book is?

It's Marguerite Patten's 'Every Day Cookbook'. I was given this as a present [together with her 'Book of Cakes and Baking'] and I used it regularly when I was first married in the late 60s. It's rather old fashioned now, but I still use a few recipes from it.

4. Tell us about the best thing you've ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?

Living in France for 7 years, I ate some great food, but my most memorable thing is a stew with wild boar which we ate with our neighbours. He was a keen hunter and his wife did justice to what he caught. The flavours in the stew were so delicious, but Nadine refused to divulge her great-grandmother's recipe!

 5. Another food blogger's table you'd like to eat at?

There are several food blogs I really like, but my favourite one is The caked crusader. I love the variety of cakes she makes and her knowledge of baking.I enjoy learning about the history of cakes too.

6. What is the kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year [money no object of course]?

I'd love a new breadmaker, as my old one's not doing its job properly! I'd like a top of the range one this time, as the one I have was bought in my local Lidl in France and has been well used.

7. Who taught you to cook?

I wasn't really taught to cook; I learnt by watching and helping Mum. I did go to evening classes when I was a keen new bride, and learnt to make a wider range of food. We had an inspirational tutor who'd been a cookery demonstrator for British Gas!

8. I'm coming to you for dinner. What's your signature dish?

I make a great coq au vin! But you'd probably only have it once, as I keep a notebook and jot down what I give people to eat, so hopefully they don't get the same thing twice!

9. What is your guilty food pleasure?

Nutella - on toast, in a sandwich, any how!

10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn.

I love eating raw Brussel sprouts! Haven't tried them with Nutella yet - mmm, an idea!

I have to tag 5 other food bloggers so I've chosen:

Anna at At Anna's Kitchen table
Phil at As strong as soup
Jean at Baking in franglais
BG at Brownieville Girl
Kate at It's the Norm

There's no obligation for you to join in if you don't want to.


Cranberry and apple crumble pie

One of out favourite desserts is a crumble, so thought I'd try out this recipe as it's a crumble pie.

175g oats
150g plain flour
125g brown sugar
1/2tspn bicarbonate of soda
175g butter or margarine, melted
2 large cooking apples, peeles, cored and sliced
75g dried cranberries
1 tspn cinnamon
1 tbspn lemon juice

Preheat oven 190C/375F/gas5

Grease a 20cm springform cake tin or metal pie dish.

Mix together the oats, flour, sugar and bicarb. in a bowl then stir in the melted fat. Mix together well.

Press 2/3 of this mix into the bottom and sides of the tin or dish.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together - the apples, cranberries lemon juice and cinnamon. Spoon this into the crumble base keeping away from the sides of the tin or dish.
Starting at the edge and working into the middle, cover with the rest of the crumble. Then firm around the edges to seal the top to the sides.
Bake for 30 mins till golden.

What a great idea this is! I love a crumble topping, so having a pie of it is even better! You could, of course, use any fruit you fancied.


Tyler's cinnamon squares

My favourite spice is cinnamon, so when I found this recipe I had to try it.
It comes from a very old copy of 'Home and Freezer Digest' magazine, which is sadly no more.

250g caster sugar + 2 tbspns
1tbspn + 21/2 tspns cinnamon
11/2 tspns instant coffee
175g plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
175ml milk
2 large eggs
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
140g butter, melted
Bag chocolate chips

Preheat oven 180C/350F/gas4
Grease and line a 20cm square tin.

Put the 2 tbspns of sugar, the 21/2 tspns cinnamon  and the coffee in a bowl and mix together.
In another bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, caster sugar and the cinnamon. In a third bowl beat together the milk, eggs and vanilla.
Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and beat them together.Fold in the cooled, melted butter.
Put half of the batter into the tin, smooth then sprinkle over the chocolate chips and the cinnamon sugar. Put the rest of the batter on top.
Bake for about 35 mins. Leave in tin for 15 mins then put onto a wire rack.

The cake is delicious as it is, but it's even nicer with a chocolate topping. Use your favourite ganache or whatever you fancy. I used 175g plain chocolate and 45g butter - I put them in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and then let them melt, stirring. Don't let the mixture get too hot or it won't be nice and thick to spread over the top. Swirl it over with a small palette knife.

The cake has a real cinnamon flavour and a soft texture.


Austrian cinnamon and sultana cake

100g soft margarine or softened butter
50g caster sugar
2 tbspns thick honey
225g sr flour
1 tspn baking powder
100g sultanas [or currants or raisins]
1 tspn cinnamon
150ml milk

Preheat oven 160C/325F/gas3
Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.

Beat all the ingredients together in a bowl then put the mixture into the cake tin.
Bake for 50 mins to an hour. Leave in the tin for about 20 mins then turn onto a wire rack.

A nice simple cake which has a good flavour. You can really taste the honey. It's quite a moist cake, but as it's not rich, it needs to be eaten in a couple of days. That's not a problem in this house!
I'd use more cinnamon next time and try a flavoured honey.

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Butternut squash and ginger teabread

I haven't made a teabread for a while, so as I had a butternut squash to use up, I hunted for a recipe in my folders and found this one from 'Good Food' magazine; it's also online and the recipe is here . The recipe is for pumpkin or butternut squash.

I liked the moist texture of the teabread and the flavour of the squash. It's delicious buttered - the slice in the corner of the photo is for my husband who loves butter!


Apple and almond tart

I have some apples to use up, so decided to hunt through my collection of apple recipes to find something different. This recipe is from a booklet I had many years ago in a magazine called 'Home and freezer Digest' which sadly no longer exists. I thought I'd also use this as my offering to Ruth's [of 'Pink Whisk'] October challenge -  to use apples in a recipe - which you'll find here

75g butter
175g plain flour
25g ground almonds
1 egg yolk
15ml cold water
1/4 tspn almond essence


115g plain flour
1/2 tspn mixed spice
50g butter in cubes
50g light demerara sugar
50g flaked almonds

675g cooking apples
25g sultanas

Preheat oven 190C/375F/gas5

I used a food processor to blend the flour and butter for the pastry, then stirred in the sugar and ground almonds. Whisk the egg yolk, water and almond essence together, then add them to the mixture and make into a nice soft dough. Put into the fridge for about 20 mins.

For the topping - put the flour and spice in a bowl, and rub in the butter.Add the sugar and almonds.

Roll the pastry out to fit a 23cm loose bottomed flan tin. I liked Mary Berry's advice on the GBBO masterclass last week - she took the base out of the flan tin, put it on the worktop and rolled the pastry out over it; you could see the base through the pastry so you had a good idea of the size you needed. I didn't try it! Let the pastry chill for about 1/4 hour.

Peel, core and slice the apples thinly then arrange them in circles in the pastry case. Sprinkle over the sultanas and almonds. The tart will seem very full, but the filling will drop a bit when cooking. Cover this with the topping, pressing it down lightly. Bake for 25-30 mins till top is golden and the apples are soft. Cool in tin for 10 mins. If you want, you can dust the top with icing sugar. I think it finishes it off.

We liked this very much; the contrast between the soft apple and the crunchy topping was delicious. One to add to my notebook. I also liked the slight almond flavour in the pastry.


No bake chocolate fingers

An easy, quick recipe to take over to my grandsons.

It makes 16 fingers.

Grease and line an 18cm square tin

Melt 60g butter, 1 tspn cinnamon, 3 tbspn golden syrup and 200g dark chocolate in a large saucepan.

 Then add 250g crushed biscuits - Nice, malted milk, digestive etc. I used just Nice biscuits and crushed them so some were left in pieces.
 Mix it all together and spread into the tin.
 Leave to cool then put into fridge to chill. Cut into fingers.

The boys loved them, but we found them too sweet even tho' I'd used dark chocolate.


Chocolate mousse tartlets

We had some of the family yesterday, and as my dil is a chocoholic, I thought I'd make these.

The recipe has been adapted from a French cookery book that my penfriend gave me years ago, but which has languished at the back of the shelf ! The book has some other great tarts to try, so will be posting more recipes. It's called simply 'Les tartes' but I can't find an author.

The recipe makes 8 tartlets.

250g  shortcrust pastry [your own or bought]
175g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2-3 tbspn water
1 tbspn butter - softened
1 tbspn cognac or cointreau [opt!]
3 eggs, separated
chocolate shavings or grated chocolate to decorate

Preheat oven 200C/gas6

Roll out the pastry and line eight 10cm tartlet moulds. Then put them in the fridge for about 15 mins.
 Line them with parchment and fill with beans and bake them 15mins; take out the beans and paper and cook them for another 5 mins; leave to cool.

Melt the chocolate over a bowl of hot water or in the microwave and leave to cool. Add the butter and mix till it's melted then add the egg yolks. Now's the time to pour in the cognac or Cointreau. Mix it all together.
Beat the whites stiffly then fold in the chocolate mixture .

Spoon the mixture into the pastry shells and put in the fridge till they're set [2-3 hours].

Before serving, sprinkle some shavings or grated chocolate on top.

I didn't add any cognac or Cointreau to the tartlets as my grandchildren would be eating them. We liked the texture of the chocolate in the filling - silky and very more-ish.


Pecan squares

As I mentioned is a previous post, my grandson has decided he'd like to bake, so I was looking through some old chiIdren's cookery books and found this recipe . I think it's a strange way to make a cake, but decided to try it anyway.
It make 12 squares.

For the bottom of the squares:

175g butter
75g icing sugar
225g plain flour


75g butter
2 tbspns golden syrup [or maple syrup]
2 tbspns milk
1 tspn vanilla essence
50g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
100g pecan nuts

Grease and line a tin 18x27 cm.
Preheat oven 180C/350F/gas4

To make the base:

Put the butter into a bowl, add the sugar and beat till fluffy. Fold in the flour. Bring the mixture into a ball.
Flour the worktop and knead the ball a few times to make it smooth. Then press the dough into the tin - using the back of a spoon helps. Bake this for about 15 mins till it's golden. Let the base cool.
Put the butter in a pan and melt over a low heat, then stir in the sugar, syrup and vanilla essence.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl, take the pan off the heat then stir in the eggs.
Pour this mixture over the cooled base and sprinkle the pecans over the topping.
Bake for about 25 mins till a dark golden colour - it should still be a little gooey in the centre.
Let it cool in the tin, then cut into 12 squares.

We all enjoyed eating them.


Chunky apple and raisin cake

I'm a great fan of apple cakes and have posted several recipes on here. This one sounded good, especially as I had some raisins to use up, and a few apples getting soft in the fruit bowl. It comes from my collection of magazine recipes, which one day I WILL organise!
The recipe added peel [which I dislike] and the grated rind of an orange, but I didn't add these as I wanted the spices to come through. I used more spice than the recipe stated as I love them!
A nice, easy cake which we ate warm, as a pudding, last night, with some creme fraiche. The cooking smell was MMMMMMMM!

75g butter or margarine
175g soft brown sugar
110g plain flour
110g wholemeal flour
2 tspns baking powder
1 tspn mixed spice
1 tspn cinnamon
2 eggs
3 or 4 apples - cooking or eating - about 550g
120g raisins

Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.
Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas4

In a bowl, mix together the flours, spices and baking powder.
Peel, core and chop the apples into little cubes, put them in a bowl and add 1 tbspn of the flour mixture and roll them in it.
In another bowl beat the sugar and butter/margarine together till it's fluffy. Beat in the eggs and gently fold in the flour mixture.
Lastly add the chopped apple and mix in. If the mixture is too dry, you can add a little milk.

Put the mixture into the tin and bake for about 40 , depending on your oven. The original recipe said to bake for an hour, but I found that mine was ready after 40 mins.
Dust the top with icing sugar.

I like the chunky texture of this cake, but OH didn't like the wholemeal flour addition.


Iced ginger and banana slices

This was going to be my offering to the 1st birthday challenge, but in my hurry to bake something, I left out the chocolate!

Having arrived back from our French holiday last night, I went over to see my grandsons this morning. Tom, who's 10, and I have started baking together, and I'd promised we could make something. We hunted through his children's baking book and found these. He loves ginger and bananas so they seemed perfect.

Here's the recipe.

125g butter
150g golden syrup
100g light muscovado sugar
2 bananas
2 eggs
2 tbspns milk
250g sr flour
2 tspns ground ginger
1/2 tspn bicarb. of soda

200g icing sugar
5-6 tspns water
hundreds and thousands/sugar strands [or anything else you fancy] to sprinkle on top

Grease and line a 18x28cm roasting tin.
Preheat oven 180C/350F/gas4

Put the butter, syrup and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently till melted. Take off the heat.
Peel and mash the bananas with a fork.
Beat the eggs and milk together.
Mix the flour, ginger and bicarb together in a bowl, then add to the butter mixture with the bananas and beat till smooth.
Add the egg and milk and mix again.
Pour into the tin.
Bake for 20-25 mins till it's golden and risen. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins then put onto a wire rack.

Make the icing - mix the water and sieved icing sugar to make a good, spreadable icing. Pour it over the cooled cake and smooth it flat. Sprinkle over the sugar strands and leave the icing to set.
When set, cut the cake into 16 slices.

It was great fun to make, especially the icing and sprinkles - mess everywhere, but a very happy grandson!
The other boys enjoyed eating them .


Holiday time

We're off to France for 3 weeks, so no posts for a while.

After crossing via the Tunnel, we're heading down to near Tours, where we've booked a lovely chambre d'hote for the night.


                                     Then we're off down to the Pyrenees, to stay with friends in their pretty village.

We're going  into Spain for a few days with them.

Then we head back up north west to where we used to live. Again we'll stay with friends, and also visit our former neighbours and more friends.

This is the river at the bottom of our friends' garden, and they're in their punt, the local 'barque'.

Then we head back up to the Tunnel, staying in another chambre d'hote en route

then home!


Oaty banana muffins

Is it just me, or do bananas ripen more quickly nowadays? I always seen to have a few overripe ones in the fruit bowl. Then, what do do with them? Have made banana muffins before, but not with oats and walnuts.
They're not as 'cakey' tasting as my normal muffin recipe,but are substantial and great with a cuppa! They'd be good for breakfast too.
The recipes makes 12 muffins.
100g oats
200g plain flour
11/2 tspn baking powder
cinnamon to taste [opt]
1 tson bicarb. of soda
little salt
100g light brown sugar
4 ripe bananas
1 large beaten egg
60g melted butter or oil [I used rapeseed]
75g chopped walnuts
Preheat oven 180C/gas4
Grease a 12 hole muffin tin, or line with paper cases.
Put the flour, oats, baking powder, bicarb., salt and sugar in a bowl and mix together. I then mixed in a tbspn of cinnamon as I love it!
Mash up the bananas in another bowl and add the egg, butter or oil and the walnuts. Mix this together and add to the dry ingredients. Mix together gently - don't overmix or the muffins will be hard.
Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for 20-25 mins. Cool on a wire rack.


English biscuits

These biscuits are a French recipe given to me by my neighbour when we lived there. Not sure why they're called 'English' biscuits! My grandsons are coming today and they love these. My neighbour always uses half plain flour and half potato flour, but as I couldn't find any potato flour, I used all plain flour. Also the recipe uses some cooking chocolate as well as some with praline in it. I used good milk chocolate instead of the cooking chocolate. They seem to have a better selection of good cooking chocolate in France.
 The recipe makes about 30 biscuits
4 eggs, separated
pinch of salt
100g caster sugar
1 lemon
75g potato flour
75g plain flour
100g cooking chocolate
100g chocolate with praline 
Preheat oven 200C/gas 6/400F
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat the egg yolks in a bowl with the salt and sugar till they whiten. Wash the lemon, grate its zest, then juice it. Add the juice and zest to the egg yolks.
Beat the egg whites till firm and add to the yolks' mixture.Mix the flours in carefully .
Put tablespoons of the mixture onto the baking sheet, spacing well. Make them into little rounds with a spoon.
Bake for about 10 mins and let the biscuits cool on a wire rack.
Melt the chocolates together then dip the biscuits half way.


Poppyseed cake

I've been reading a book about Eastern Europe and have become interested in itscooking, especially cakes.
This cake is made without flour, and the only hard work is whizzing the poppyseeds in a food processor or grinder, or even grinding them in a pestle and mortar.

4 eggs separated
125g butter, softened
grated rind of a lemon
100g icing sugar
2 tbspns cocoa powder
50g caster sugar
160g ground poppy seeds
 icing sugar for the top of the cake

Preheat oven 180C/gas4
Grease a 24cm round cake tin.

Beat the butter, egg yolks, lemon rind and icing sugar with an electric beater or stand mixer till thick and smooth. Fold in the cocoa and mix together.
Beat the egg whites till frothy, then sprinkle in the caster sugar and carry on beating till the whites are thick and shiny.
Mix the ground poppyseeds into the eggyolk mixture, then add the egg whites mixture and mix together very gently.
Spoon mixture into the tin.
Bake for about 55 mins. Let the cake cool in the tin.
When it's cold, take the cake out and sieve icing sugar over the top. I put a paper doily on top and sieved over this.

The cake's also nice if you ice it with a simple chocolate icing of icing sugar, boiling water and cocoa.

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Chocolate and cranberry flapjacks

I haven't made flapjacks for ages. Each time, I change my original recipe and add new things; today it's cranberries and sunflower seeds.

125 gr butter
75g caster sugar
1 tbspn golden syrup
300g rolled oats
50g sunflower seeds
75g chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
50g dried cranberries

Preheat oven 180C/350F/gas4
Grease a 20cm square cake tin.
Put the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan and melt over a low heat. Mix well.
Take off the heat and add the oats and sunflower seeds. Stir until well mixed, then add the chocolate chips and cranberries.
Spoon into the cake tin and press it down well with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 25 mins.
Let it cool in the tin for a bit, then mark into 12 squares.

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Date and pecan cake

Need to finish up the bag of pecans I bought from Julian Graves, so found this recipe on an Aussie blog. I've changed it a bit. It's supposed to originate in Israel.

2 eggs
180ml honey + 2 tbspns for brushing the cake
150ml buttermilk
1 tspn vanilla essence
3 bananas - mashed
300g sr flour
1 tspn baking powder
100g light brown sugar
2 tbspns cocoa
1 tspn cinnamon
1 tspn allspice
125g butter - softened
150g dates - stoned and chopped
125g pecans - chopped

Preheat oven 180C/350F/gas 4

Grease and base line a 22cm springform cake tin.
Mix the eggs, the 180ml honey, buttermilk and vanilla essence together till smooth, then add the bananas.
Keep back 2 tbspns flour, then put the rest in a bowl with the baking powder, sugar and spices and mix well.
Add the egg mixture to the flour, and using a hand beater, mix gently, then add the butter and beat till smooth.
Mix the other 2 tbspns of flour with the dates and pecans and fold these into the mixture. Spoon into the tin and bake for about an hour.
Heat the other 2 spoons of honey and brush it over the cake while it's still warm.
The cake keeps for about 5 days in a tin.
It makes a nice dessert, warmed and served with ice cream.


Honey, raisin and carrot cake

As part of our 'trying to lose weight', I thought I'd make a healthier cake! Sounds logical to me! At the end, I decided to ice it with orange flavoured glace icing - not so healthy!
The original recipe is from an old copy of 'Woman's Weekly' magazine, but I've adapted it several times, so I think of it as my recipe now!

3 medium carrots
85g raisins
85g honey
1 tspn vanilla essence
3 eggs
125ml rapeseed oil [or any vegetable oil]
125g sr flour
125g wholemeal sr flour
1 tspn baking powder
1 heaped tspn cinnamon - if you like it, as I do!
25g soft brown sugar
2-3 tbspn milk

heat oven to 170C/325F/gas4

Grease and base line a 20cm springform cake tin.
Grate the carrots - not too finely.
Put the eggs, honey, vanilla and oil in a bowl and beat together.
Then put the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar in another bowl and mix them together.
Add the flour mixture to the egg one and mix it all together well.
Stir in the carrots and raisins and add some milk to make it a nice soft mixture.
Put into the tin and bake for 45-50 mins, middle shelf.

I just mixed the icing sugar with some orange juice to make a thickish icing.

              The cake has a nice cinnamon flavour - not too much, just there in the background.


Lemon and semolina squares

This cake is a family favourite which I rarely bake these days. Younger daughter is coming for the w/e, so thought I'd make it

55g ground almonds
170g natural yoghurt
200g caster sugar
125g melted butter
1 tspn vanilla extract
2 eggs
185g semolina
1 tspn baking powder
2 tbspn pistachios, roughly chopped

lemon syrup:
170g caster sugar
1 tspn lemon zest
1 tbspn lemon juice

Preheat oven 180C/360F/gas 4
Grease a 23cm square cake tin. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a bowl, beat the yoghurt, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs together.
Mix the baking powder and semolina together, then add to the yoghurt .

Spread the ground almonds out in a little frying pan and stir them around for about 3 mins or so on a medium heat till they've become lightly browned.

Add the almonds and pistachios to the cake mixture and mix well.
Spread it in the tin and bake for 35 mins. Test to see that the cake is cooked.

While it's baking, make the syrup by putting the the sugar, lemon zest and juice in a pan and adding 125ml water. Bring to the boil, then let it simmer for about 10 mins without stirring. Leave it to cool.

Pour the syrup over the hot cake and leave to cool in the tin.

                               Using semolina always seem to make a lighter cake.


Hazelnut sandwich

This recipe is supposed to have Romanian origins.

I've tweaked it a bit, substituting hazelnuts for the original walnuts, and making it a coffee cake, as I love the combination of hazelnuts and coffee. It's the filling that makes this different from the usual Victoria sandwich.

175g butter
175g caster sugar
175g sr flour
1 tspn vanilla essence
3 eggs
2 tbspns coffee essence [I used Camp] or you could use instant coffee dissolved in hot water


100g ground hazelnuts
1 tbspn milk
1 tbspn rum
25g sugar

icing sugar for the top

Preheat oven 180C/350F/gas 4
Grease and line 2 x 20cm sandwich tins

Cream together the butter and sugar, add the eggs and vanilla essence and fold in the flour.
Divide the mixture between the 2 tins.
Bake for 20-25 mins till golden.
Leave to cool in the tins for about 5 mins then put the cakes onto a wire rack.

Filling - you can grind whole hazelnuts finely in a coffee grinder or, as I did, buy them ready ground.
 Mix all the filling ingredients together and use it to sandwich the 2 cakes together. Sift some icing sugar over the top.


Honey and caramel slices

Another chance to use my Wilton traybake tin!

My dil asked me to make something for her friends to have with a cuppa. I fancied making something decadent, ok then, calorific, and adapted this recipe from an Aussie woman's magazine. Had also bought a jar of local honey from a lovely local garden centre, which has a shop selling all kinds of goodies. 
Makes about 20 slices, depending on how big you cut them!

200g butter, diced
310g plain flour
115g caster sugar
2 egg yolks

2 x 400g tins condensed milk
100g butter, diced
115g honey

preheat oven 180C/350F/gas4
Lightly grease a baking tin 28x18 cm and line with baking parchment.

For the base:
Put everything into a food processor except for the egg yolks and blitz till like breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and about 2 tbspns cold water and blitz again to make a pastry ball.
Cut the pastry in half and roll out one half to fit in the base of the tin. Bake it for 12-15 mins till golden and firm when you touch it.
Wrap the other half of the pastry in clingfilm and put it in the fridge to get cold.

For the filling:
Mix the condensed milk and butter in a solid-based pan and melt the butter over a gentle heat.
Then on a medium heat let the mixture thicken for 5-8 mins, stirring all the time.
Take off the heat and add the honey. Mix together well and leave to cool.
Spread it out onto the pastry base.
Grate the rest of the pastry over the top of the caramel mixture then bake for 20-30 mins till the cake is golden coloured.
Let it cool in the tin before cutting it into slices.


Fudgy biscuits

My Mum used to make these for my children when they were little. Found the recipe the other day, so thought I'd make some for the biscuit tin. She used to make 15 biscuits out of the mixture, I only made 12!

125g sr flour
125g butter [softened]
125g caster sugar
1 tbspn cocoa
90g oats
2 tbspns coffee essence [like Camp]

Preheat oven 180C/350F/gas 4

Put the flour, cocoa and sugar in a bowl, then rub in the butter.
Add the oats and the coffee essence and mix it all together into a ball.
Make small balls of the dough and put them on a greased baking tray. I use a silicone sheet.
Flatten the balls a bit then bake them for 15 mins.
Sometimes Mum used to roll them in extra oats, but I prefer them like this.


White chocolate torte with cranberries and almonds

I first made this when we lived in France. It's a meringue mixture with an unusual combination of ingredients.

8 egg whites
200g caster sugar
250g white chocolate, chopped up
190g chopped almonds [skinned]
200g dried cranberries
40g sr flour
a little flour and fat for the cake tin

Preheat the oven 180C/350F/gas4

Lightly grease a 24cm cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment. Flour this and shake out excess.
Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks and gradually add the sugar. Keep beating till it's firm and shiny. Put the chocolate, almonds and cranberries in a bowl and mix in the flour.
Add the egg whites to the chocolate mixture in two lots.
Spoon into the tin and bake in the oven for an hour. Half way through, if the top is getting too brown, cover it with some foil.
Turn the oven off, but leave the torte inside until it's completely cold.


Crunchy topped banana cake

Baking blogs should come with a health warning  - 'Blogging is bad for your weight'!!

To use up 3 bananas that were over-ripe [they seem to ripen so quickly nowadays] I thought I'd make a cake, not a loaf this time. Then I fancied a crunchy top, so I adapted several recipes into this one.

3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
175g light brown sugar [the original recipe I used as a base had 350g sugar, which I thought was far too much]
120ml oil [I used rapeseed]
1 tspn vanilla extract
50g chopped nuts - whatever you have; I used walnuts
225g plain flour
2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
1 tspn salt

2 tbspns of sugar, flour and nuts, then rub in 1 tbspn butter.
Don't rub into fine crumbs, leave chunky.
This doesn't make a lot of topping, so next time I'll make double this amount.

Preheat oven 180C/350F/gas4

Grease a 23 cm springform tin, and line the bottom with baking paper.

Beat together the bananas, eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla.
Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix together.
Spoon into the tin and sprinkle the topping on.
Bake for about 45 mins and leave to cool in the tin.


Creme anglaise and apple muffins

Yesterday I made some creme anglaise to have with our rhubarb crumble. There was a little left over, so this recipe was just perfect.

It makes 12 muffins

90g melted butter
300g sr flour
150g plain flour
1 tspn cinnamon [ I love it so used 2 tspns]
165g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
250ml milk
60ml creme anglaise
150g cooked apples [I used cox and chopped them up before cooking]
2 tbspn demerara sugar

preheat oven 200C/gas 6/400F

Grease a 12-holed muffin tin or use 12 muffin cases.
Mix together the butter, flours, 1/2 the cinnamon, caster sugar, egg and milk till just mixed.
Fill the cases or holes half full of the batter, then make a deepish dent in the middle and add 1 tspn creme anglaise and 2 tspns apple. Add more batter on top.
Mix the brown sugar with the rest of the cinnamon and sprinkle on top of the muffins.
Cook for about 25 mins till golden.
Leave the muffins to rest in the tin, and then put onto a wire rack.

I like the texture of the muffins with the custard and apple and then the  crunchy topping. 
I think next time I'd use my tried and tested muffin recipe* and just add the fillings and crunchy topping.

*My usual recipe is 225g plain flour, 100g caster sugar, 2 tspn baking powder, 250ml milk, 120ml vegetable oil and 1 egg. Usual method of dry and wet ingredients and they're baked at 200C/gas6 for 20 mins.


Lemon and almond tarts

I've invited an old school friend for tea tomorrow, so wanted to make something nice for her.

Found this recipe in one of my Mum's old cookery books, and as I had my dil here this afternoon, and she's doing a cake decorating class, they seemed just the thing. I've changed the ozs into grams. and it worked fine.

Makes 12 little tarts
212 g packet shortcrust pastry [I used Just Rol}
50g butter
50g caster sugar
1 large egg
59g ground almonds
drop of almond essence [not the almond flavouring]
1 rounded tbspn sr flour
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1 tspn lemon juice [I put in a bit more as I wanted them to be lemony]
150g icing sugar
drop lemon food colouring
lemon juice

Preheat oven 190C/375F/gas5

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface,and then cut out 12 rounds with a cutter to fit a bun tin.
Cream the butter and sugar then beat in the egg and ground almonds.
Stir in the almond essence, flour, lemon rind and juice.
Divide this evenly between the pastry cases and bake for 20-25 mins till the sponge is golden and the pastry is cooked.
Cool on a wire rack.
Sift 125g of the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with enough cold water to make a thick icing.
Spread over the tarts and allow to set. Leave any left over icing in the bowl.
Add the rest of the icing sugar [25g] too the bowl and mix in a little colouring and enough lemon juice to make a thick icing.
Fill a small icing bag and pipe a lattice on top of each cake. Leave to set.

There's no real need to do the yellow piping - any decoration would do, but I had my dil to do it for me!

The glass plate they're on is one of my Grandmother's. I'd forgotten all about her glass plates till I saw a similar one in a local shop, so I hunted out the box in the attic.


Chocolate and honey madeleines

Am off today to look after one of our grandsons, so decided to leave something in the cake tin for himself.

Madeleines seemed a good choice, as I brought several tins back from France, and they've remained unused.

The recipe makes 20 madeleines.

150g dark chocolate
70g butter
5 eggs, yolks and whites separated
125g caster sugar
4 tbspns honey
150g plain flour

Preheat oven 190C/375F/gas5

Melt the chocolate and butter and leave to cool.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar till they're pale and thick.
Then add the chocolate mixture, the flour and the honey, beating quickly between each one.
Beat the egg whites, but not too thickly, then add these to the mixture, folding in.
Put the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour.
Grease the tins well, as madeleines stick!
Put a heaped teaspoon of mixture into each hole.
Bake for 8-10 mins.
Let them cool for a bit in the tin, before putting them on a wire rack.


Our garden

Thought I'd have a change from baking and post a few photos of our new garden. It's a pocket handkerchief size, so haven't much room. The first thing we did was to buy a good aluminium lean-to greenhouse, so we could grow some veg. We're growing tomatoes and French beans in bags.

The beans are doing well - have lots of flowers.

We bought 4 different tomato plants, and the cherry ones seem to be ahead atm.

I grew some 'Little Gem' lettuces from seed and have planted a few in between the tomatoes.

We brought some of our plants in pots back from France with us. This rose is lovely - it has a strong perfume. Have lost its label so can't remember its name! It was given to us, in a large pot, by our neighbours. They all arrived smiling, with one pushing a wheel barrow containing the rose and several boxes of wine bottles! What lovely people, and we miss them.

This shrub was growing in the garden and I've trying to find out what it is. Now that it's got flowers, I think it's a deutzia.

We also inherited this climbing rose, which I thought was a wild one, but it's covered in flowers.

Gratin de choux-fleur

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