Bavarian Apple Cake

It was the big family get together for my in laws on Saturday. As there are now too many for my sil's house, she hired her church halls. We ate fish and chips as there was a chippie round the corner, and each branch of the family made a dessert or two.

I bought rather a lot of apples last week, so decided to make a recipe which my lovely German dil had given me, for a Bavarian apple cake. It's nice to have a new recipe using apples, and this one is really delicious and easy to make. The cake is in layers - a cakey layer, then jam, then a cheesecake type layer, then apples and finally almonds. It does use a fair amount of sugar, 200g, so I used Bramley apples, but any tart apples would do.

Preheat oven 220C/gas8

Grease the sides of a  20cm springform cake tin, but line the bottom with foil to prevent any mixture seeping out. Dil advised this as she's had a problem with a leaking cake!

Cream 125g butter with 75g caster sugar and 1/2 tspn vanilla extract. Add 150g plain flour and mix together -it's a crumbly mixture. Press this into the bottom of your tin, using a spoon to press it down firmly. Spread this with 3 tbspn seedless raspberry jam.

In another bowl mix 225g cream cheese [like Philly] with 50g of caster sugar, an egg and 1/2 tspn vanilla extract. Pour this batter over the jam layer.

Peel. core and slice 4 medium apples, then toss with 75g caster sugar and a good tspn of cinnamon. Make sure they're well coated, then sprinkle them over the cheese layer.

Sprinkle a handful of flaked almonds over the top then put the cake tin on a baking sheet and bake for 10mins,then reduce the temperature to 200C/gas6 and bake for 35-45 mins till the cake is golden and the cheese layer has set.

An unusual apple cake; I liked the different textures of the layers and the crunchy almonds on top. Keep and eye on the cake towards the end of cooking time, and cover it with foil if it's getting too brown.


Peppermint Bark Cookies

This is something for visiting children over Christmas. but I'm sure adults would like them too!

I've made peppermint bark for several years, but recently, looking on Pinterest, I saw that you could make cookies with a bark topping. I had to try these, as I wanted to take something for my grandchildren when we visited them yesterday.

I decided to make a shortbread type dough.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 and grease a Swiss roll tin and line with a strip of parchment paper down the middle, leaving the ends overhanging to get the cookie out of the tin.

Beat 220g butter till creamy and white, then gradually beat in 200g of caster sugar. Keep beating till it's nice and fluffy. Add 1 tspn vanilla extract and a large egg yolk and beat in. Add 240g plain flour plus a pinch of salt and slowly add to the batter till blended.

I found it easier to drop spoonfuls of this into the tin as it's a stiff mixture, then using my fingertips I pressed the dough into the tin to make a layer. Prick all over with a fork.
Bake till light golden, about 30 mins.

While base is warm and still in the tin, spread over 175g of melted dark chocolate, then top with 6 - 8 chopped up candy canes. Cool.

Melt 60g white chocolate carefully and drizzle this over the chopped candy. Chill for 30 mins till the chocolate is set.

Use the parchment paper to get the cookie out of the tin, then cut into pieces.

Not a very clear photo - sorry. Only had the one on my phone to use.

My grandchildren loved them and I put them in cellophane bags with a pretty ribbon, so they looked very festive.
They are of course, sweet, but I like the biscuit layer underneath as a contrast to the sweet topping. Will certainly make them again next year.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Choccamocca Cheesecake

Couldn't think of a good name for this cheesecake, but as it has chocolate and coffee in it I thought this name would do. It's my normal cheesecake, but with an added something. It's a rich cheesecake, just right for an occasion, so am going to make another for Boxing Day.
 It's for those who love dark chocolate and coffee.
You need a 23cm springform tin. Preheat oven to oven 160C/gas3

Make sure that the cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature.

Put 200g of chocolate digestive biscuits in a bag and crush with a rolling pin [or use a food processor].
Add 125g plus 2 tbspns of melted butter and 1/2 tspn almond essence and mix together. Press this firmly into the bottom of the tin. Put in the fridge to set.

In a bowl mix together 140g granulated sugar and 1 tspn of espresso or any other strong coffee granules [more if you want a strong coffee flavour].

Melt 250g of 70% dark chocolate and 125g of 50% dark chocolate [or milk if you prefer] in the microwave or over simmering water.

In a mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat 4 x 250g packs of cream cheese [such as Philly] together till smooth. Carefully and slowly add the melted chocolate keeping the mixer on a low speed. Pour in the sugar mixture slowly and then 3 tbspn of double cream and mix till well blended.

Again at a low speed, add 3 large eggs, one at a time and 1 tspn vanilla extract.

Pour this batter over the crumb base in the tin and bake in the oven for about 40-50 mins.Take it out when the surface of the cheesecake looks dry, but it still has a bit of a wobble. Don't overbake it.

Leave it to cool in a warmish place and leave it there for about an hour before moving to somewhere cooler to cool completely.
When it's cool, leave it overnight in the fridge to set. Before you remove it from the tin, it's a good idea to run a thin spatula around the inside to loosen it.

You can decorate the top with some chocolate curls made using a potato peeler. I used some milk chocolate - about 100g.

As I said earlier, this is a rich cheesecake, so it will feed quite a lot of people. I like the base made with chocolate digestives instead of plain ones - it doesn't really add much more chocolate flavour, but looks quite good.


Coconut Lemon Traybake

I needed a simple recipe to use up some lemons I bought, and found many versions of this uncooked tray bake [I suppose it's not really a tray bake as it's not baked, but it's made in my Delia tray bake tin!]. I played around with several recipes till I made exactly what I wanted - a good lemony flavoured  slice with a decent amount of coconut and a lemon icing. It was perfect to make with my grandsons over the w/e.

You put 125ml of condensed milk in a pan with 125g butter and stir till the butter has melted. In a food processor or using a plastic bag and a rolling pin, break a 250g packet of Nice biscuits into crumbs and put into a bowl with 1 tspn of grated lemon zest, 1 tspn lemon extract and 85g dessicated coconut. Add the butter mixture and stir together till well mixed.
Line a baking tin 28x18cm with parchment paper and press the mixture in. Put in the fridge for about an hour.
Make the icing - 250g icing sugar, 3 tbspn lemon juice and 15g butter - beat together to make a smooth icing. When the slice is firm and cool, pour icing on top, spread evenly then sprinkle 2 tbspn dessicated coconut on top. Cut into squares when the icing has set.
Keep in fridge.

A nice treat - some crunch from the biscuits and a lovely soft filling with a good lemon flavour. Then a contrast with the sweet icing and coconut. 


Green Tea Financiers

I love financiers - the little French almond flavoured cakes that look like little bricks. I wondered where they got their name, so after a bit of googling it seems that they were first made in the 19th century by a Parisian pastry chef near the Parisian stock exchange, and he made them look like little gold ingots. They became popular with the financiers, hence their name. Maybe this is the true story, or maybe not? Anyway we love them. I wanted to try a different flavour, and found this idea of using green tea on a French web site - they used it in muffins, so I thought I'd try it in financiers. The recipe makes about 24 cakes, but I only made half the mixture.

200g butter
200g icing sugar
6 egg whites
80g ground almonds
80g flour
2 level tspns of tea [I used green tea but other flavours could be used]
butter for the moulds

But butter in a solid based pan and bring slowly to the boil then cook gently on a low heat till nut brown [beurre noisette]. Take off the heat and filter the butter through a fine sieve.
Beat the egg whites till frothy then add the icing sugar a little at a time. Mix the ground almonds and flour together and fold into the mixture with the tea. Mix together well. Add the butter and stir continuously till well mixed.
Put covered batter into fridge for a couple of hours.
When ready to use, preheat oven 220C/gas 8 and butter a 2x12 hole financiers or muffin tins.
Fill the holes 2/3 full then bake for 5 mins, turn temperature down to 200C/gas 6 and bake for further 10 mins. Cool in the tins.

I know they're not very inspiring to look at, but they taste really good. They have a crisp outside and a soft middle, and a the ground almonds give them a fairly dense texture. The green tea gives a subtle flavour, but you can still taste the caramelised butter.
Financiers don't keep well, so need to be eaten on the day they're made - no hardship!
A few tips from my neighbour - watch the butter when heating as it quickly burns, mix the batter as little as possible - just stir till blended. and rest the batter in the fridge before using.
You can keep the batter in the fridge, covered, for a couple of days.


Cheese and Leek Tart

Thought I'd do a savoury post for a change. Bought a bag of leeks cheaply in our local market, so decided to make a tart. I used creme fraiche as I had some left over in the fridge and I made it in a 20cm loose-bottomed flan tin; it was plenty for 2 of us, with seconds for OH.

For the sc pastry, 110g flour, 25g lard, 25g butter or margarine, 1 tbspn water. Am not going to insult you by telling you how to make pastry! Chill pastry for 30 mins then bake blind - 15mins at 180C/gas4, take out beans or rice etc then bake for 5 mins more at reduced temperature 160C/gas3.

Filling : about 200g leeks [2 medium sized], 2eggs, 200ml creme fraiche or double cream, 1 dspn chopped thyme, 80g grated strong Cheddar cheese, about 25g butter

Melt butter in a sauté pan, or any pan with a lid, Add the finely sliced leeks, cover and cook till they're soft [about 5 mins] then season them. Beat the eggs, then add the creme fraiche and thyme and beat together.
Put the leeks into the bottom of pastry case, then spoon the egg mixture over. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top. Heat a baking sheet in the oven, then bake the tart on this to prevent a soggy bottom!
Bake for 45mins or till the filling is set and the cheese is lovely and golden.

It made a nice supper with some salad and a jacket potato. You need a cheese with a good flavour or the tart would be rather bland, as there's not a lot of flavour from the leeks. Think I'd add more herbs to the egg mixture when I make it again. I could have added the leeks to the egg mixture, but wanted the leeks on the bottom so there were distinct layers. It was very tasty.


Cider Cake

Thought we'd have a change from chocolate cakes, so decided to make a traditional cider cake from Herefordshire. Doing a bit of research about cider cakes I found that this cake was baked for the annual Cider festival. Several other counties make cider, so I expect they have their own versions of the cake.Some friends brought us some local cider they'd bought there, so made use of some of it in this cake. It's a simple cake, easy to make. You could vary the spices to suit your taste, and I suppose that the type of cider you used would make a difference to the flavour.

preheat oven 180C/gas4
grease a 20 or 21cm square cake tin and line the bottom.

Cream together 125g butter and 125g caster sugar till nice and fluffy. Add 2 beaten eggs and mix well. Sift 225g sr flour with 1 tspn bicarb, 1 tspn cinnamon and 1/2 tspn ginger. Fold some of the flour into the batter then add 200ml cider. Mix together well. Fold in rest of flour and spoon into tin. Bake for 35-40 mins till golden.
Cool in tin, turn out onto a wire rack and sprinkle with some caster sugar.

Lovely moist, light texture and a good cider/apple taste, with the spices adding an extra layer of flavour. The inside of the cake was speckled - maybe the reaction between the cider and the bicarb? Anyone a food scientist?!!


Magic Chocolate Cake

I've seen various recipes and flavours for this so-called 'magic cake' on several blogs and in a woman's magazine. I liked the idea of trying a chocolate one , but I can't honestly say where the original recipe comes from, as all the blogs I looked at referred back to a different blog! I think the original idea came from  this Spanish blog .

Why is it magic, well you have one very runny batter, and when it's cooked you have a 3 layer cake. The middle layer is really a chocolate custard. The mixture is so runny that I thought I'd forgotten an ingredient [it's like a pancake batter], but having checked the various recipes, I hadn't. It's the top and bottom layers that hold the middle custard together.
Well it's something different to try!

You need:

4 eggs at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 tbspn water
125g butter
70g flour
45g cocoa
pinch salt
500ml full fat milk
few drops lemon juice

Preheat oven 160C/gas3
Grease a round 20/22 cm cake tin.
Melt the butter over simmering water or in a microwave and keep warm. Warm the milk.
Separate the eggs and beat the yolks, sugar and water for a few mins. Add the warm butter and carry on beating.
Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together and add to the batter, beating all the time.
Add the warm milk and beat well.
Wash and dry your beaters then whisk the egg whites and a few drops of lemon juice till firm. Add a spoonful to the batter and beat in, then fold in the rest carefully, a little at a time, using a spatula.
Spoon into the tin and bake for about 50 mins.
The middle will wobble [jiggle someone called it] a bit, and it will stay like this even when cold.
Leave the cake to cool before taking out of the tin. Sprinkle with some cocoa and keep in the fridge.

You can just about see 3 layers in the photo - the bottom layer is very thin, then you have the middle custard-type layer and a cakey top layer.
It's not too sweet and it melts in your mouth. One of the blogs said that the magic was when you bite into it - not sure if I agree with this, but it is a different sort of cake.
A few tips from people on the various blogs - if you use a stand mixer, beat the milk in by hand or the mixture splatters everywhere! The egg whites can look curdled when you've mixed them in, so just make sure that you've not left any big chunks.
Not an easy cake to get out of the tin - can crack easily.
One person just put all the mixture in a blender, but her cake looked like a custard tart, so maybe not a good idea!
If you're not put off by all these comments, it's an interesting cake to try. Oh, last thing, you need to keep it in the fridge!


Chocolate and peanut butter cake

My stepson and family came for the day this week, and we have a tradition of having a nice cake for afternoon tea. I've mentioned my lovely German dil before, and she really is a superb baker [ her profession is in catering], so I try and make something new each time they come.
I decided on a chocolate cake, but with something different as filling. I found a jar of peanut butter in the cupboard – perfect - and is something I know we all like. I know it's calorific, but it's a special cake for an occasion.

200g sr flour
1 tspn baking powder
150g caster sugar
150g butter
200g dark chocolate
100ml milk

250g peanut butter [smooth, but if you wanted a different texture, crunchy]
100g butter
100g icing sugar

Preheat oven 180C Grease and baseline 2x20cm cake tins

Melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the eggs and sugar till light and frothy. Add the milk and gradually mix in the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Spoon into the cake tins and bake for about 20 mins. Cool on a wire rack.
For the filling – beat the 2 butters and icing sugar together for 2-3 mins to get a good icing consistency. Add a little more icing sugar if you think it needs to be a bit thicker.
Cut the 2 sponges horizontally. Put the first one on a plate and spread ¼ of the icing over, top with the next sponge and do the same, then the 3rd and finally top with the 4th sponge. Spread the last of the icing on top.

My dil took the photo, and you can tell she's used to taking more professional looking ones than I do!
It was a great success, and because the icing is spread between the 4 cakes, it wasn't too much. Cake had a good chocolate taste and a soft texture. I liked the contrast between the cake and the creamy peanut butter filling. A good cake to have for afternoon tea.


Broyés de Poitou

This recipe is a speciality of the region we lived in in France, Poitou Charentes. You can find them in the region's supermarkets and they can be small, as these are, or be one large biscuit. They're not really biscuits, more of a biscake! Whatever you call them, they're delicious. This is the traditional recipe from a local baker.

Beat together 250g unsalted butter and 250g of sugar till light and creamy. Add a beaten egg and mix together then fold in 500g plain flour with 1 tspn baking powder and 1 tspn salt added and mix together till you get a ball. If you need it, add a few drops of water. It's easier to use a mixer.
Wrap the ball in clingfilm and put in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight, to firm up the dough.

Preheat oven hot - 210C/gas7
Cover 2 baking sheets with baking parchment or silicone sheets.

Take the dough out of the fridge and bring to room temperature.
 Roll out dough and using a 7cm fluted cutter, cut out the biscuits and put them on a baking sheet. Make the traditional pattern on the top [see photo] - I used the edge of a clean ruler.
Make a wash by beating an egg yolk with a little water, and paint the biscuits twice.
Bake for 15 mins till golden. Leave on tray to cool a little as they will still be softish and difficult to handle. They'll firm up when they're cool.

If you want to make one large biscuit, roll the dough out a little more than for the small ones. Using a template cut it into a 16cm round; make the pattern and brush with egg wash. Bake for 20-25 mins till golden.

You can see the pattern on the biscuits. This photo is one my friend took and has kindly let me use.
The biscuits have a crunchy texture and a lovely buttery flavour. You could add some vanilla or almond essence to the mixture, but I prefer to keep them traditional.


A Lebanese Cake

And now for something completely different!
I love Lebanese food; I knew little about it till we lived in France and made friends with a Lebanese couple. I love their use of spices, sumac, z'atar, dried mint, 7 spices etc, and I love falafel, houmous [sp?] and tabbouleh.
 I've long had a love-hate relationship with tahina or tahini, sesame seed paste, but was given this recipe for using it in a cake by our Lebanese friend, and I really liked the result. You could use peanut butter instead, and I think it would work really well, but the tahini makes a really rich, flavoursome cake.

Preheat oven 180C/gas 4.
Grease a 24cm cake tin well and sprinkle with 3 tbspn sesame seeds.

Beat 250ml tahini in a large bowl with 165g caster sugar, 40g light brown sugar and grated zest of 2 oranges till mixture is thick and creamy. Add the juice from the 2 oranges and 200g thick plain yoghurt and mix well.
Fold in 375g sr flour, 1/2 tspn salt, 1 tspn mixed spice, 100g chopped pistachio nuts, 3 tbspn sesame seeds and 6 chopped stoned dates. Mix throughly till everything is well combined.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 45 mins till golden and firm.
Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

I decorated it with some more orange zest. It's a rich cake with a dense texture - a great accompaniment to a cuppa or to have as a pudding with some creme fraiche, cream or ice cream.
It's difficult to describe the flavour of tahini - I think it's an interesting flavour, a bit nutty, slightly bitter and it's creamy.
If you want to know how it's made, have a look  here .
It's certainly a different flavour to my usual cakes, but it's one to have occasionally, when you feel the need for something different.


Tropical Chocolate Cake

I seem to be making a lot of chocolate cakes lately, but this one is a bit different in that it has tropical flavours and ingredients.
 I found the recipe in a booklet I picked up at a food fair, and it's a cake I've been meaning to try. I found a bottle of rum in the back of the cupboard, and as well as my using it for Flognarde, a recipe you can find on  Phil's blog 'As Strong As Soup' , I'm going to use some in this cake [opt].
The tropical part comes from the creamed coconut, pineapple and dessicated coconut.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 and grease and line a 20cm springform tin.

For the cake:

Cream together 100g soft butter and 200g caster sugar till pale and fluffy.
Stir in 60g melted chocolate and 2 egg yolks. Sift together 175g sr flour and 1 tspn mixed spice, then fold these into the batter with 4 tbspn creamed coconut, 3 tbspn milk and 1 tbspn rum [or you could use pineapple juice].
Beat the egg whites till stiff then gently fold them into the batter. Add 1 tbspn dessicated coconut and mix together.
Spoon into your tin and bake for about 45 mins till golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

For the topping:

Whip 150ml double cream and pipe onto the cake, anyway you fancy. Decorate the cream with some pineapple chunks from a 200g tin [drained].


The flavour of the coconut comes through well, but is not overpowering. Nice soft texture and a hint of rum. Topping finished off the cake nicely, and the pineapple chunks gave it another texture. An unusual cake, and one I'll make again.


Chocolate Coffee Meringue Cake

The filling and icing on this cake is delicious - something special. It's a French recipe for a cake we made on a cookery course whilst I was living there. I needed a special cake for my daughter's birthday, and she loves coffee and chocolate so this fitted the bill as it's a chocolate cake with coffee filling and icing.
It takes a bit of time to make as there are several stages, but I think it's worth the effort.

For the cake: you need 125g of dark chocolate, 150g butter,125g caster sugar, 4 eggs, 75g flour and 1 tspn baking powder and 75g ground almonds.

For the icing and filling you need 150g butter, 125g icing sugar, 2 egg whites, 1 tspn instant coffee and 1 tbspn warm water.

Preheat oven 150C/gas 2 or 3  - it's baked in quite a cool oven.
Grease and base line a 20cm springform tin.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks and caster sugar till white and fluffy. Add the chocolate mixture, flour and baking powder and ground almonds and mix well. Whisk the 4 egg whites into stiff peaks and fold carefully into the batter.
Bake for an hour then cool on a wire rack.

Filling and icing:
Mix the coffee powder and warm water together then add 25g of the butter and mix together.
Put the egg whites in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk them with the icing sugar to get a firm meringue. Take pan off the heat and add the coffee mixture and gently mix together.Cream the rest of the butter [125g] then add, a little a time, to the meringue mixture. Put the bowl in the fridge for at least an hour to chill.

When the cake's cool and the meringue chilled, cut the cake into 3 rounds. Put some meringue filling on each round and assemble cake. Cover the outside of cake with the rest of the meringue mixture and put in fridge for several hours before serving.

It's a good idea to make the cake the day before you need it, and you could decorate the top with grated chocolate or chocolate curls etc or flaked almonds, but I decided to leave it plain. I bought a couple of large candles which made up her age, and lit these separately [well a lady doesn't give her age away online does she?].

The cake is nice and moist and has a great chocolate flavour.It has a soft texture which goes well with the creamy filling. The icing is very rich and the coffee gives a quite subtle flavour. You could use more coffee powder to get a more definite flavour.
Take it out of the fridge a while before you need it, so it's not too cold to eat!

Most French cake recipes I've tried just say that the cake tin you need is a 'moule à manqué', but doesn't say a size. I'm not sure if this cake tin is maybe just one size? I brought one back and it's 25cm, but not very deep. I used a deep 20cm springform tin to give the cake 3 good layers.


Danish Cake

This is my offering to the GBBO, as it's more complicated than I usually make! I'd offered to make a cake for a birthday we'd been invited to, and as my daughter was here to help me, decided to try something a bit more ambitious. It's not the official birthday cake, but just another contribution to the tea.

The recipe comes from a leaflet I picked up many years ago in a supermarket, but it doesn't say much about the origins of the cake, just that it's from Denmark. It's unusual in that it has chopped pears in it, and uses gelatine to stiffen the cream mixture for the filling. It's a 'bit of an effort' cake to make too, so one for an occasion.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Grease and line a 20cm springform tin.

Whisk 4 egg yolks with the grated zest and juice of 1 lemon and 125g of icing sugar till pale and creamy. Whisk the 4 egg whites till stiff peaks.
 Sieve 75g plain flour, 25g cornflour and 1/2 tspn baking powder together then fold into the batter with the egg whites a little at a time.
Spoon into the tin and bake for 35-40 mins. Leave in the tin for 5 mins then put on a wire rack.

Soften 2 sheets of gelatine in 30ml cold water. Lightly whip two thirds of a pot of 500ml double cream then beat in the gelatine and 2 tbspn caster sugar. Fold in contents of a large can of pears, chopped and drained, and 75g grated dark chocolate [ keeping a little back to put on the top of the cake]. Leave filling to set.

When it's cold, cut the cake into three layers. Spread each layer with the cream mixture filling and assemble the cake.
Whip the other third of the double cream, and pipe rosettes around the edge of the top. Finish with a little of the grated chocolate.

I was pleased with the finished cake and it tasted good too. The filling wasn't too sweet and had a bit of texture from the chocolate. The sponge cake was light and had a slight lemony flavour. I liked the pieces of pear as they were soft, but still kept some texture. An unusual cake, but good for an occasion, and the plate is one of a set I inherited from Mum.



Looking through my French cookery books for something different to bake, I came across a recipe for 'Mirlitons'.
When I googled them to find out more, they seemed to be a strange looking green vegetable from the USA, also called chayote. What happened to the cakes?

I continued googling and found out that the little Mirliton Tartlets come from around Rouen in Normandy. There were quite a few recipes for them, but they all seemed to agree that they must have an almond and egg filling with vanilla extract and orange flower water; some had cream added, so I decided to add some to give them extra flavour. Apparently it's quite an old recipe, being found in a 18th century cookery book.

They sound very similar to the Welsh cheese cakes my Mum used to make - a pastry shell, a layer of jam then a sponge topping, but there's no almonds in Mum's recipe.

They're very easy to make, as you use a ready made sheet of puff pastry.

This recipe makes about 12 tartlets.

 Preheat oven 180C/gas 4 and grease a 12 hole tartlet tin.

Roll out a sheet of puff pastry [about 240g] and cut out 12 tartlets; use these to line your tin.

Put a good tspn of jam in each tartlet - I used some raspberry jam. Then make the filling by beating together 100g ground almonds, 100g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tspn vanilla extract, and 2 tspn orange flower water. Stir in about 5 tbspn whipped double cream and mix well. Spoon this mixture into your tartlet shells, and if you want, you can put a sprinkling of flaked almonds on the tops, but I chose not to do this.
Bake for about 20 mins till they're golden brown and turn out onto a wire rack. You can eat them hot or cold. Dust with icing sugar.

I'm not really sure if I like the orange flower water flavour, which is  very distinct. I liked the contrast between the fruity jam, the almond cake mixture and the pastry base. The cream made the texture quite soft. An interesting little tartlet!


Apricot Slices

I wanted to make something quick and easy for my grandsons' visit this afternoon. This slice must come under the 'easy to make and good for you' banner, as it has oats, muesli, honey, apricots, nuts ...  and surprisingly, all three boys will eat it!. I guess it's a posh flapjack!
It's one of my friend Ann's family recipes, and we love it.

30g oats
80g dried apricots
60g muesli
40g dessicated coconut
30g almonds chopped into pieces
70g plain flour
70g demerara sugar
2 tbspn honey
2 medium eggs
140g butter

Grease a deep 20cm square cake tin.
Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Cut the apricots into smallish pieces.
In a bowl beat 140g of the softened butter with the sugar and honey. Add the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour, oats, muesli, almonds, apricot pieces and the coconut.

Mix it all together and spoon into the tin; smooth the surface and cook for 30 mins. Leave it to go cold in the tin then cut into squares. It's very filling, so I cut it into small squares.

You can keep the slices for about 4 days in a airtight container.

Lovely flavours from the mix of ingredients and a chunky texture. I used some local honey and you could taste it's flowery flavour. You could vary the dried fruit and honey for a different flavour.


Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

I wanted to make some kind of chocolate cake, and having looked through cookery books and folders I found this recipe which came from one of my neighbours in France. Four of us, all neighbours, took it in turn to host afternoon tea - the French ladies thought it was a great idea. This was one of Reneé's offerings.
I love anything made with nuts, especially hazelnuts, and it's another easy cake to make. I decided to make it in a bundt tin.

Grease a bundt mould or cake tin and preheat oven 180C/gas4

In a bowl over simmering water, melt 150g butter and 150g dark chocolate. Take bowl off and add 4 egg yolks, 175g caster sugar, 80g ground hazelnuts, 100g plain flour, 50g dark chocolate chopped up and a pinch of salt.
Beat the 4 egg whites till stiff and fold into the mixture.
Spoon into the tin and bake for 50mins. Remove from tin and cool on a wire rack.

For the icing:
Chop 100g dark chocolate and melt it over water with 50g of butter. Pour it over the warm cake and leave to set.

One trick I learnt was to put the chocolate bar in a poly bag and tap it with a rolling pin to break it up. I usually end up with bits of chocolate everywhere!

The cake has a great chocolate flavour, and you can really taste the hazelnuts. The chunks of chocolate had just about kept their texture, but then melted in your mouth. I like the easy way you decorate it - no faffing with glacé icing or buttercream - just pour the chocolate over.


Courgette and Sultana Cake

My friend gave me some courgettes and I wanted to make a cake with some of them. I had a look on the internet, but nothing really appealed, so I hunted through a couple of old baking cookery books and found a carrot cake with raisins, so adapted this. I fancied making a ring cake, but it can be made in a normal round cake tin.

Preheat oven 180C./gas4
Grease a 20cm ring mould well with butter or oil.

Beat together 125g butter and 150g caster sugar till nice and fluffy. Then add 2 beaten eggs and 2 tspn vanilla extract. Add 220g grated courgettes [about 11/2 medium courgettes] and 60g sultanas [or other dried fruit]. Mix together then fold in 225g sr flour.
Spoon into tin and smooth top. Bake for 35-40 mins till golden.
Leave cake in tin for about 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack.

I wanted a creamy topping, so made some vanilla buttercream. I wanted to try a method I'd found in a magazine; it's more complicated than the simple buttercream of icing sugar and butter, but hopefully it would taste less cloying.

Put 110g caster sugar and 85ml water in a pan and stir over a low heat till the mixture boils and the sugar's melted. Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 mins without stirring. Cool.
Beat 125g butter and 2 tspn vanilla extract together till light and fluffy, then pour in the sugar syrup, beating all the time till your mixture is smooth and fluffy.

Spread the mixture over the top and sides of your cake. I used some of the orange peel I made recently to decorate the top.

It's a moist cake, but not too moist, as you sometimes get with vegetable cakes. The topping was nothing like the usual butter cream. Yes it was sweet, but I didn't find it cloying; it was smooth and melted in your mouth. I'll use it again when I need a sweet topping. Liked the cake texture - not too dense, and  the fruit gave an added bite.


Blueberry Cake

Our little blueberry bush, in its tub in the garden, has given us nearly 3kg of fruit this year. I've frozen some, but wanted to make something quick to offer my friend when she comes round for a cuppa this afternoon. I found this recipe in an old American baking magazine and it really is quick and easy.

260g plain flour
   200g caster sugar
  120g butter, cubed
1 teaspoon baking powder
250ml milk
2 eggs, separated
150g fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven 180C/gas4
grease and line a 20cm square cake tin

Put the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl then rub in the butter till you have crumbs. Put 1/4 of the mixture aside to use as a topping. Add the milk and egg yolks and beat together. Whisk the whites into soft peaks then add to the mixture gently. Spoon into the tin, sprinkle with the blueberries and top with the remaining crumbs. Bake for about 30 mins till golden.


Nice soft crumb from the cake and lots of juicy blueberries. Could have it as a dessert with ice cream or cream.


Yoghurt and White Chocolate Cake

This was the second cake we made on the Baking Course I went on. It's an easy cake to make. I don't often use white chocolate as I have had some disasters when melting it, but this time it worked well. The addition of yoghurt makes this a nice moist cake, which is also light in texture.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4
Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin.

In a large bowl beat 125g butter with 110g caster sugar till light and fluffy using an electric hand mixer. Then add 2 beaten eggs and 1 tspn vanilla extract.
Melt 100g white chocolate, which has been roughly chopped, over simmering water - careful - and stir till it's melted.
Add the chocolate to the cake mixture with 125ml plain or vanilla yoghurt. Mix together gently then fold in 225g sr flour. Pour into tin and bake for 40 mins.
Leave cake in tin for 15mins then turn onto a wire rack.

For the topping:
Beat 125g cream cheese till creamy then add 60g melted white chocolate and 2 tbspn plain yoghurt. Beat together till smooth and fluffy. Spread over cooled cake and decorate with white chocolate curls.

I have to confess that we were given the chocolate shavings, but he gave us the method to make them. I wrote down notes, but think it's easier to see someone doing it, so I found this clip on You Tube.


It's a really good flavoured cake; I used vanilla yoghurt with the vanilla extract and the flavour came through. The topping was very rich but very moreish.
A special occasion cake, but a useful recipe to have. The cake itself keeps for a month in a freezer uniced, or 3 days in an airtight tin iced.


Russian Chocolate Torte

My friend and I went on a day's Baking Course this week, and this Torte was one of the things we made. In Russian it's called a Bistvitny Torte.
It's not difficult to make, but I found mixing the 2 chocolates together to make marbled chocolate quite challenging, especially making the marbling even.
 It was an interesting fun day, and we watched demonstrations of bread making and a complicated 4 layer gateau. We weren't expected to make these, but we did get to sample some of each.
We brought home the items we'd baked, and I asked if I could put the recipes on here, and was told it was ok if I wrote it in my own words. So that's what I'm doing!

What makes the torte different is that it's soaked in a brandy flavoured syrup, otherwise tbh it's a marble cake.

Preheat oven 190C/gas5
Grease a 23cm ring pan well .

Make the decorations -
Melt 25g each of dark and white chocolate.
Put a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray and put alternative spoonfuls of the chocolate on the paper, and spread together to make a thick marbled layer. Leave it to set then cut into squares then triangles.

Beat 175g margarine or butter with 175g caster sugar till nice and fluffy. Add 1 tspn vanilla extract and mix in. Add 3 beaten eggs, a bit at a time, then fold in 225g sr flour.
Divide the mixture in 2, then melt 50g dark chocolate and add it to one of the halves. Put spoonfuls of each mixture into the tin and swirl with a skewer to marble.
Bake for 30 till golden. Let cake cool in tin for few mins, then put onto wire rack to get cold.

Put 125g sugar in a pan and add 6 tbspn water and heat till sugar's dissolved. Then boil for 1-2 mins.
Take it off the heat and add 3 tbspn brandy. Leave to cool a bit, then spoon over the cake so that it soaks in. Whip 150ml double cream, put into a piping bag and pipe a swirl round the top of the cake.
Decorate with the triangles you made earlier.

Even though the marbled chocolate was challenging, it's a nice idea. As chocolate and orange go together so well, you could maybe use Cointreau instead of the brandy. If you don't want alcohol in the cake, perhaps use orange juice?
The cake's nice and moist from the syrup, with a soft texture, and the cream is a good contrast with the crunchy chocolate.
Sorry it's not a very good photo [not unusual I know!!].

We also made a couple of types of biscuits, but will post these another time.



I've mentioned my lovely German dil before, and this is one of her family recipes. I bought some Bramleys in a local market, and wanted to make some kind of dessert with them. I love apple cakes and have quite a lot of recipes for them, but this is a bit different in the way you put it together.
You get a layer of cake, then a layer of apples, sultanas, cinnamon and citrus zest, then another cake layer.

The cake mixture is more like a dough than the normal cake batter, and I found it difficult to spread the second layer over the fruit. It was quite stiff and I kept getting lumps of dough. I spread it as well as I could, but there were some sultanas poking through [unlike my dil's version, where there's not a sultana in sight - well she works in catering!]. Not a very pretty plate - I asked my OH to get a nice plate for me to put it on, and this is what he produced!

It can be a dessert or eaten as a cake for afternoon tea. We ate it warm with some ice cream.

I'm sure every German family has their own traditional apfelkuchen recipe, but we loved this one.

Preheat oven 190C/gas 5
Grease and line 20cm cake tin.

Melt 115g butter with 115g caster sugar till the sugar has melted. Then stir in 225g sr flour and a beaten egg. You'll get a soft dough, so put half of it into the bottom of the cake tin and spread it over till the bottom's covered.
Peel and core 350g Bramley apples [my dil uses Granny Smiths] and slice them finely. Put them on top of the cake mixture then top with 100g sultanas, 50g soft brown sugar, tspn cinnamon and zest of a lemon or lime.
Spread the rest of the dough on top [I found it easier to use the back of a tablespoon] and bake for about 45 mins till golden. Let the cake cool in the tin.

I used the zest of a lime, and you can really taste it. I like the texture of the cake, then the fruit and spice and then cake again. It's not a soft texture like a sponge, but half way between pastry and sponge. It has a bit of a crunch too.

Fruit and Spice Loaf

A quick post, as the recipe is online.

Another good recipe for a teabread - just fancied making one to have with a cuppa.

 I changed a few things in the recipe - I used 'Quatre Epices', a French spice mix which has cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, and the cloves and nutmeg give the cake a lovely spicy musky  flavour. I also used dark muscovado sugar as I didn't have any of the light. There's marmalade in it and I used a thick cut, but cut the pieces of peel into small bits. The wholemeal flour makes it quite a dense cake, but the flavours are great, and we enjoyed a slice with some butter.
I think if I made it again, I would use part wholemeal and part white flour for a better texture.
At least the fruit didn't sink to the bottom this time!

 This is the recipe, on the Baking Mad site.


Peaches and Cream Fairy Cakes

I have to say that I'm not a fan of the American type cupcakes with lots of sickly icing on top, but these are upmarket fairy cakes.
 Peaches were on offer in the local supermarket, so thought I'd try using them in a small cake for a change. The recipe makes 20 cakes.

You need 2x12 hole greased  bun tins [not muffin tins- you need the ones you make jam tarts or mince pies in] or you can cook 2 batches of the cakes. You need 2 ripe peaches with stones taken out and cut into 40 thin slices - you need a good sharp knife!

Preheat oven 180C/gas4       You can use paper cases in the tins if you want.

Beat 225g soft butter with 225g caster sugar using a hand beater, till nice and creamy.
Add 4 eggs a bit at a time, then fold in 250g sr flour; add 3 tbspn sour cream or crème fraiche [and 2 tbspn peach or apricot jam if you want a more fruity flavour] and mix in. Spoon into the cases or tins and put 2 peach slices on top of each cake and bake for 15-20 mins till golden and firm.

Put cakes on a wire rack. Heat 1 tbspn peach or apricot jam with 1 tbspn lemon juice in a pan till the jam's melted, then brush this over the top of each cake while they're still warm. Let them cool on the rack.

A nice treat for my grandsons yesterday. The creme fraiche made them nice and moist, and the peach slices were soft but not too sweet. The original recipe had some jam added in with the cream, but I decided to just use some to brush over the tops.


Honey and Coconut Cake

I had some dessicated coconut in the cupboard, so decided to make another cake. I also had a lovely pot of local honey bought in a recent farmer's market, so would use this too. I found a lot of recipes online for a honey cake, but they weren't exactly what I wanted.
This recipe is a mixture of bits of several recipes I've used before.

Grease and line a 200g loaf tin.
Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Beat 125g butter with 100g brown sugar till nice and creamy; then add 2 beaten eggs, 1 tspn vanilla extract and 60ml honey. Add 25g dessicated coconut and mix in. Fold in 250g sr flour, 1 tspn nutmeg, 1/2 tspn cinnamon and 1/4 tspn allspice. Stir in 125ml milk and mix gently till smooth.
Pour into the tin and bake for 30 mins. Leave in tin for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack.

Cream cheese and honey icing:

Beat 125g cream cheese [like Philly] till creamy, then add 75g sieved icing sugar and 1 tbspn honey. Beat together till smooth and fluffy.

Spread icing over cake and sprinkle with some extra nutmeg.

You could add more coconut if you want, but I really wanted the honey flavour to shine. Lovely mix of spices, giving the cake another layer. It's got a fairly dense texture, but is still moist. The icing gives it that finishing touch - it's fairly sweet, but not cloying like some butter creams.


Banana flapjacks

Seem to have had a lot of very ripe bananas lately. Am a bit fed up with banana loaves and cakes, but was given a recipe booklet recently about Fairtrade bananas, made up with recipes given by some of our church members. We love flapjacks, so banana ones seemed a great idea. I made them in a swiss roll tin, as we like them thin, but if you prefer thicker ones, use a square cake tin instead.

125g butter
85g light brown sugar
2 tbspn syrup
350g oats
1/2tspn baking powder
1 tspn cinnamon
2 medium ripe bananas

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Grease a Swiss roll tin  23 x 33cm or a 20cm square cake tin

Melt butter, sugar and syrup in microwave or on hob.
Add oats, baking powder and cinnamon then add mashed bananas.
Spoon in tin and smooth top with back of a spoon.
Bake 20-25 mins till golden and firm.
Cut into bars while hot then cool in tin.
I made 15 bars.

We really liked the added texture of the banana, but they are a soft flapjack, not a crisp one. I'll certainly make them again - it's good to have something else to do with ripe bananas.


Lime, Walnut and Date Tray Bake.

Bought a bundle of cookery magazines from a charity shop the other day, and this recipe was in an Australian one. I like traybakes.
The bake has lots of good things in it - dessicated coconut, lime zest, walnuts, dates, and it's easy to make. The biggest problem was changing the Aussie cups into grams. The cake turned out fine, so I must have my conversions fairly accurate!

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Grease and line a rectangular tin about 28 x 8 cm.

For the cake:
Put 150g flour, 110g caster sugar, 85g dessicated coconut, finely grated zest of 1 lime [you'll need another lime if you're going to make the candied lime peel, 150g chopped dates and 60g chopped walnuts into a bowl. Stir together.
Add 180g melted butter and mix together; then add 1 egg [lightly beaten] and stir together. Press this mixture into your tin and bake for 20 mins till golden.
Leave in tin for 5 mins then turn out onto wire rack.

For the lime Icing:
Put 225g icing sugar in a bowl with 15 melted butter and 1-2 tbspn lime juice. Mix together and spread over cool cake. Leave to set then cut into squares.

Make some candied lime peel - peel rind off 1 lime with a potato peeler and cut it into thin slices. Put 110g of caster sugar in a pan with 60ml of water. Add lime rind and stir over low heat till sugar has dissolved. Simmer uncovered, without stirring for 5 mins. Drain on wire rack and use it to decorate the tray bake.

Great flavours, lovely textures - crunch from the walnuts, soft from the dates, and the lovely hint of lime. The candied lime peel gives it that extra lime kick. One to make again.
I made the peel before making the cake so it could 'set', if that's the right word. Think I'll make some candied orange and lemon peel using this method - don't like the taste of the shop bought stuff.


Chocolate and Orange Cake

I wanted to make a sandwich cake for OH's birthday, but also wanted it to look a bit different. Had a large orange to use up, so decided to use it in the cake and to decorate it.  Recently I saw a tv chef add a flake bar to a chocolate cake, so thought I'd try the same, instead of using cocoa or melted chocolate.

225sr flour
175g soft butter
175g caster sugar
grated rind of a large orange
3 eggs
2 crushed Flake bars
4 tbspn milk

100g soft butter
225g icing sugar
juice of 1/2 the orange

For the top:
1 orange divided into segments
a little crushed Flake bar

Preheat oven 170C/gas3

Grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin [or use 2 x 20cm sandwich tins]

Cream butter, sugar and orange rind together till light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the crushed Flake bars and fold in the flour alternately with the milk.
Spoon into the tin or tins, smooth top and bake for about 1-1/4 hrs till golden.
Leave in tin for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack to cool.

For the icing - beat the butter, orange juice and icing sugar together. Put it in the fridge for about 30 mins till it gets firmer.
When the cake's cold, slice it in half and fill with half the butter icing. Spread the rest of the icing on top and fork it over. Arrange the orange segments in the middle, and sprinkle some crushed Flake around the edge.

It's not really a traditional chocolate cake, but I've called it that because of the Flake in it. I like the texture the pieces of Flake give - just a bit of crunch - I thought they would melt. Nice orange flavour in the icing which reinforces the hint you get in the cake. It made a change, and OH enjoyed it.


Ginger and Apricot Loaf

Another one of my favourite loaf cake recipes. This one uses stem ginger to give a better flavour than ground ginger. I've found a similar shop to the much missed [by me anyway] Julian Graves stores, so I stocked up on walnuts and dried fruit, including apricots. This such a quick loaf to make, and you can chose whether to ice it or not. I think the recipe is a WI one, as my mil gave it to me, and she usually used their recipes.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 and grease and line a 900g loaf tin.

In a large bowl put 115g wholemeal flour, 115g plain flour, 11/2tspns baking powder, 150g soft brown sugar, 115g soft butter, pinch salt, 2 beaten eggs, zest of a lemon and 2 tbspns of milk - beat it all together with an electric hand mixer. Stir in 175g chopped dried apricots [the no soak ones] and add 3 pieces of stem ginger chopped finely together with 4 tbspns of the ginger syrup. Finely slice a 4th piece of ginger and keep for the top.
Spoon mixture into the tin, level, then arrange the 4th piece of ginger down the centre of the top.
Bake for about 1 hr or so. Mine took 75 mins, and I had to cover the top with some foil, as it was getting too brown.
Leave in tin for about 15mins then turn onto a wire rack.
I decorated the top when cool with some lemon glace icing [I used 115g icing sugar with about 1 tbspn of lemon juice].

A nice treat with a cuppa  - a lovely subtle ginger flavour and a bite from the apricots. A good combination of flavours.


Pear and Chocolate Charlotte

One of my favourite French desserts is a Charlotte, and I had a tin of pears which needed using and a recipe from a French neighbour for making a chocolate and pear one. It doesn't need cooking, just chilling.
I bought a Charlotte mould when living there, but you can use any deep cake tin.
It's simple to make and delicious.
Charlottes can also be made with bread.

You need:

a large packet of boudoir biscuits [sponge fingers] or make your own 
200ml cream
a sachet of vanilla sugar [about 1 tbspn]
large tin of pears in syrup
150g dark chocolate
4 egg yolks

Open can of pears and pour syrup into a small bowl and slice the pears. Dip the boudoir biscuits into the syrup and line a Charlotte mould with them, keeping some back for the top.

Using an electric hand beater, beat the cream and vanilla sugar together till it's thick.

Melt the chocolate over a low heat. Turn the heat off and add the egg yolks, beating together till the mixture cools. Add the cream and mix together.

Pour half this chocolate mixture into the mould over the biscuits and add half the sliced pears; cover with the rest of the chocolate mixture and finally top with a layer of the syrup-soaked boudoir biscuits.

Put in the fridge for 12 hours, then carefully unmould the Charlotte.

You can see that a Charlotte mould is curved, so made in an ordinary deep cake tin it won't look quite the same. You could use other fruit to make a Charlotte - strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, gooseberry etc The biscuits I used were quite thick, as I bought them in France, but any thinner boudoir biscuits work just as well.

There are some great Charlotte recipes here


Rhubarb and Cinnamon Muffins

A quick post as I'm off to my daughter in London till Sunday.

I made these muffins to use up the last sticks of rhubarb in the garden. I usually use oil instead of butter, but thought I'd give these a try. The recipe is from a tatty book I picked up in a charity shop, called '100 Muffins' , but it doesn't have the writer's name in it. 
150g caster sugar
280g plain flour
21/2 tspns baking powder
1 tspn cinnamon
1/2 tspn bicarb.
1/2 tpsn salt
250ml creme fraiche 
110g melted butter
2 eggs
1 tspn vanilla
150g diced rhubarb
3 tbspn caster sugar
1/2 tspn cinnamon

Preheat oven 200C/gas6             Grease a 12 hole muffin tin.

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, salt and bicarb together in a bowl. In another bowl whisk together the creme fraiche, eggs, butter and vanilla to a smooth batter. Stir the wet mixture into the dry one, but don't over mix. Stir in the rhubarb. 
Spoon the batter into the muffin tin.
 Mix the cinnamon and caster sugar and sprinkle over the muffins.
Bake for about 20 mins till golden. Cool on a wire rack.

They're very tasty - like the contrast of the crunchy top. A good use for a small amount of rhubarb.

ps thought the muffin looked good against the bright green pvc tablecloth I bought in France for the garden table!

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