Cranberry and Mincemeat Streudel Cake

Wanted to make something Christmassy for my neighbours bake this week, and  I found some fresh cranberries in my local supermarket. These and mincemeat would be great in a cake. I found this recipe in my folder - it's from a magazine, but not sure which one!

For the cake you need: 150g soft butter, 150g caster sugar, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 100g sr flour, 100g ground almonds, 4 tbspn milk, 200g mincemeat and 200g fresh cranberries.

For the streudel topping: 25g cold butter, 75g sr flour, 1 tspn cinnamon, 75g demerara sugar, 100g pine nuts or flaked almonds.

Icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                 Line 20cm springform baking tin with baking parchment, making sure that the paper comes above the sides of the tin.

Beat the sugar and butter till light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time plus the vanilla.

Fold in the flour and ground almonds, then the milk and mix in. Add the mincemeat and cranberries and mix in gently.

Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface.

Make the streusel - rub the fat into the flour till breadcrumbs. Stir in the cinnamon and sugar.

Add the nuts and 2 tbspn water so that the topping starts to look like a crumble. If it's still very dry, add a tbspn more of water.

Scatter the crumble over the cake.

Bake for 1-11/4 hrs. Test after 1 hr, but mine took 1 hr 20 mins to bake.

Leave to cool completely in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack.

Dust with icing sugar.

Mincemeat is sweet, but the cranberries balance this . 
Sweet mincemeat, warm spices, cranberries - a lot of flavours, but they complement each other.



Chocamoka Cheesecake

Not sure if the problem is completely sorted, but at least I can post again!

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.



I'm sorry but seem to be unable to post any photos and my text goes haywire! This has all happened since I changed the look of my blog. I don't know how to rectify it! If I try and look at past posts, I get a muddled text and the photos are in words! Am ok with technology until something goes wrong. I hope business will soon return to normal!


Banana and Walnut Cupcakes

I have to confess to not being a cupcake fan. This is because I find the topping too sweet and too much! My friend loves them, so I made some for her birthday. It was yet another way of using up some very ripe bananas.

225g plain white flour
1 1/4 tspn baking powder
1/4 tspn bicarb of soda
2 ripe bananas, mashed
115g butter, softened
115g caster sugar
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 tbsp soured cream
55g walnut pieces, roughly chopped

175g butter, softened
350g icing sugar
some walnut pieces, roughly chopped

Preheat oven 190C/gas 5.               Line 2 cupcake or muffin tins with 14 paper cupcake cases 

Sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarb of soda.
Beat the butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, then stir in the mashed bananas, soured cream and walnuts. Fold in the flour mixture.
 Put the mixture into the paper cups and bake for about 25 mins until risen and firm and golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 mins before putting onto a wire rack.

Topping: beat the butter until light and fluffy, then sift in the icing sugar and mix well together. I added a little bit of vanilla extract too.
Decorate the cupcakes when cool with the icing and some chopped walnuts. 

The cupcake tasted very much like a muffin and the topping is very sweet. I'm not good at cake decoration, so my swirls wouldn't make it to GBBO! My friend was very happy, so all was well!


Chocolate Mud Cake

 I presume that this cake has its origins in the USA, as there's the famous Mississippi Mud Pie. My family love chocolate cakes, and as my son was coming to visit, I decided to make a mud cake, a recipe I'd kept for ages in my folder. 

So for the cake you need: 220g butter or margarine, 220g dark chocolate, 6 tspn instant coffee, 160ml water, 125g sr flour, 125g plain flour, 50g cocoa, 1/2 tspn bicarb, 480g caster sugar, 4 eggs, 35ml vegetable oil and 110ml sour cream

For the ganache you need: 280g good chocolate, 140ml double cream and 40g soft butter

Preheat oven 160C/gas4                         Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin

In a pan, put the chocolate, butter, coffee and water on a low heat, till chocolate has melted, then stir together.

Sift the flours, cocoa and bicarb together in a bowl and stir in the sugar. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and sour cream together.

Spoon the egg mixture and then the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together well.

Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for about an hour. Cool in tin for 10 mins then finish on a wire rack.

Ganache: pour the cream in a pan and bring to boiling over a gentle heat.

Break the chocolate up into a bowl then pour in the cream. Mix together gently. Add the butter a little at a time, then leave the mixture to thicken.

Slice the cake in half, and use half the ganache in the centre and half on the top of the cake.

It's a delicious cake, but one slice is enough! I expected it to be very sweet because of the amount of sugar, but it isn't. It has a lovely soft texture.

 In the recipe it says you could use peppermint extract instead of the coffee to make a chocolate mint cake, or orange extract and orange zest for a chocolate orange cake.

I asked my daughter in law to take a photo of it, but sorry it's a bit blurry, and I don't know what the black lines are there for!


Clafoutis aux Cerises

 One of my favourite French desserts is a Clafoutis. It's usually made with cherries, and the question is whether to leave the stones in or take them out! I've read that leaving them in adds flavour, but I don't like finding stones in my dessert so I always take them out. I like to add some vanilla extract too.

So for the Clafoutis you need:

500g cherries [stoned]

300ml milk

125g flour

100g caster sugar

3 eggs

20g butter [to butter dish]

pinch salt

icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven 180C/gas5                         Grease a 23cm flan dish

In a bowl sprinkle 50g of the sugar over the cherries and leave aside.

Break the eggs and beat them together. Add the flour, rest of the sugar, a tspn of vanilla extract and the milk. Beat well to make a batter. Add a pinch of salt.

Put the cherries in a layer in the base of the dish and pour over the batter. Bake for 35-40 mins till set.

When cool, sift some icing sugar over the top.

My daughter in law helped me. You can use other fruit such as apricots, plums or apples. I love the contrast between the cherries and the smooth batter. It has just a hint of vanilla.


Peach and Semolina Bake


I had to repost this as my computer went a bit haywire! Sorry if your comment has disappeared!

I was  looking for something in my tins cupboard when I found a large tin of peaches hidden at the back. I remembered a recipe that my friend used to make so decided to make it. It’s an unusual recipe in that it uses semolina and crème fraîche , and is cooked on top of the cooker.

You need:                                                          traybake tin

large tin of peaches in syrup, 

250ml syrup from the tin, 

250ml milk

,100g crème fraîche

  75g semolina

 mint sprigs to decorate


Drain the peaches and keep 250ml of the syrup. Cut the peaches into 1/4s.

Heat the milk and syrup in a pan till boiling then add the semolina and cook on gentle heat for 15mins, stirring all the time.

Whip the crème fraîche till thick then add to the pan. Mix together gently. Stir in the peach slices.

Grease the cake tin then pour in the mixture. leave to cool then put into the fridge to set.

 Unmould onto a plate and decorate with sprigs of mint.

Gâteau de semoule aux pêches

 The cake has a lovely soft texture with the juicy pieces of peach. Will try it with pears or maybe plums. Would make a good dessert too with cream of ice cream.


Squidgy Lemon-Ginger Cake

My son and family were coming at last, and I wanted to make a cake. My daughter in law loves ginger, so I found this great recipe on the BBC Good Food site.


It's a lovely cake, easy to make, and the fresh ginger cuts through the sticky sweetness of the sugar and dates.

It's a dense and sticky cake with great flavours. I didn't use the suggested candied lemon peel or the coffee crystals to decorate the top. I just used the white chocolate. It's great as a cake, but would also make a great dessert with cream or ice cream [minus the chocolate topping maybe?]


Blueberry Lemon Yoghurt Cake

There was a special offer on British blueberries at my local supermarket, so I bought several punnets.
 I love them for breakfast, in muffins and in one of my favourite cakes, blueberry lemon yoghurt cake.
Watching Monty last week, he said to pick any lemons that were ripe, so this gave me the lemon for 
my cake. It's an easy cake to make too.

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

you need:
125g softened butter,150g caster sugar, 175g sr flour, 100g Greek yoghurt, 3 eggs, grated zest of 1
 large lemon, 
130g blueberries
For the icing:
100g icing sugar, juice of the lemon
Cream the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy.
Add the flour, yoghurt and eggs and beat together.
Stir in the lemon zest.
Spoon half of the batter into the tin. Mix most of the blueberries into the rest of the batter then spoon onto
 the mixture in the tin. Sprinkle the leftover fruit onto the batter. Spoon into the tin.
Bake for about 45 mins. Check to see it isn't browning too much, and if it is, cover top with foil.
Cool on a wire rack.

Icing: mix the icing sugar with enough lemon juice to make a thick but not too stiff icing. Drizzle over the 
cake when cool.

The reason I put half the batter in the cake tin and mix the blueberries in to the top half
 is that when I mixed the fruit into the whole mix, they always went to the bottom!
It's a soft, moist cake with a nice lemon flavour. You get little bursts of blueberry, and the icing gives another
 layer. A good cake to have with an afternoon cuppa!


Muffnuts and Orange, Walnut and Rosemary Muffins

Am still doing my weekly bake for my kind neighbours, so decided to make something different this week, muffins. There’s been a lot of hype on Facebook about Muffnuts or Donkins! They’re a doughnut muffin. I just had to try them. Decided also to make one of my favourite muffins, using some rosemary from the garden and walnuts . So 2 for the price of 1 today!


It makes 6.            Preheat oven 180C/gas 4

200g sr flour, 100g caster sugar, 125ml milk, 85ml sunflower oil, 1egg and 1 tspn vanilla extract
Jam, Nutella or other filling of choice

Topping : 75g melted butter and 100g granulated sugar

Mix milk, oil, egg and vanilla together in a bowl. In another bowl mix flour and sugar.  Add the milk mixture to the flour, gently. No problem if there are some lumps. Don’t over mix!

Put 6 muffin cases into a muffin tin or grease 6 holes in the tin.
Fill half the case with batter then add a heaped teaspoon of jam or Nutella or Biscoff. Add more mixture till case or hole is nearly full.

Bake 20 mins.

Melt 75g butter in the microwave and put granulated sugar in a shallow dish.

Remove muffins from tin and whilst warm, dip top in melted butter then sugar. Cool on wire rack.

Ate one warm and it was delicious. A lovely soft texture and the contrast of the filling and then the crunchy topping. Will be making these again and maybe trying adding cocoa to the flour mix. 

Orange, walnut and rosemary muffins

It makes 12.     Preheat oven 200C/gas 6.  Grease a 12 hole muffin tin or use paper cases.

280g plain flour, 1tbspn baking powder, 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda, 115g caster sugar, 70g roughly chopped walnuts, 2 eggs, 250ml natural yoghurt, 6 tbspn sunflower oil, finely grated zest of 2 medium oranges, 1 tbspn finely chopped rosemary leaves plus extra sprigs.

Icing: 175g icing sugar, 3-4 tspn fresh orange juice, finely grated zest of 1/2 orange

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and bicarbonate. Stir in sugar and walnuts.
In another bowl beat eggs,  then beat in yoghurt, oil, orange rind and rosemary. Make a Well in the middle and add the egg mixture. Stir together gently but don’t over mix.
Spoon into the cases or holes in tin and bake for 20 mins till golden.
Cool on a wire rack. 

Make the icing - sift icing sugar into a bowl. Add the orange juice and rind and stir till smooth and thick enough to coat back of a spoon.
Spoon icing over each muffin and top with small sprig of rosemary. Leave to set for about 30 mins.

I love rosemary. These muffins have a good soft texture from the yoghurt. They have hints of orange and then a hint of rosemary. I love this combination. The icing gives them a luxury finish, but the rosemary sprig is just a decoration - you're not expected to eat it!


Gargouillau, a French Pear Cake

Since lock down started, I have been baking every week to share with my lovely neighbour who gets some shopping for me. I decided this week I wasn't going to make just a cake, but a cake that can also be a dessert. In the fruit bowl were some ripe pears, so I made my favourite pear recipe, a French one from Creuse, Gargouillau.

You need for the cake: 150g butter, 150g caster sugar, grated zest 1/2 lemon, 2 eggs, 350g plain flour, 2 tspn baking powder and 8 tbspn milk
You also need: 600g pears, ripe but not soggy and 50g butter, extra sugar and cinnamon/icing sugar

Preheat oven 200C/gas6        Grease a 25cm springform tin and line the base with greaseproof                                                            paper,lightly greased

Cream the butter and sugar, add the lemon zest and mix in. Add the eggs gradually. Fold in the flour, baking powder and 6 tbspn of the milk. Stir in the rest of the milk.

Peel the pears, cut in half lengthwise, remove the core with a teaspoon and cut cross wise into 1cm thick slices.

Spread 1/4 of the batter over the bottom of the tin, then add a layer of 1/3 of the pear slices, pressing them lightly into the batter. Do this twice more ending up with a layer of batter. Dot the top with the extra 50g butter. 

Bake on the lower shelf for about 45 mins.

Release the cake from the tin and let cool. Sprinkle a mixture of caster sugar and cinnamon over the top then cut into portions and serve freshly baked as a dessert, or dusted with icing sugar as a cake with maybe some whipped cream.

I love the textures in this cake, the soft pear and the layers of cake. It freezes well too. My neighbour loved it!


Chocolate Chunks and Courgette Loaf

There's nothing like chocolate for cheering a day up. I was given a large bar for Easter, so wanted to stretch it out by using it in a cake. I love loaf cakes, and this is one of my favourites. It uses courgettes as well as chocolate, and I just happened to have one medium sized one that needed using up. It also uses soft brown sugar, a bonus as I've no more caster sugar!

You need: 2 eggs, 80ml honey, 120ml sunflower oil, 100g soft light brown sugar, 2 tspn vanilla exctract, 1/2 tspn baking powder and 1/2 tspn bicarb, 1 heaped tspn coffee granules, 45g cocoa powder, 210g plain flour, 2 small courgettes or 1 medium grated, and 200g dark chocolate cut into chunks and divided into  2 x100g portions

Preheat oven 170C/gas4           Grease and line a 200g loaf tin

Whisk together the eggs, honey, oil, sugar and vanilla. Sift together in another bowl the flour, bicarb, baking powder, coffee and cocoa: mix together then gently add to the egg mixture. Fold in the courgettes and half the chopped chocolate.
Pour into the tin and scatter the other half of the chocolate over the top.
Bake for about an hour [N.B.turning down the heat if necessary to stop the cake burning, as I nearly had a burnt cake!]
Cool in the tin for 15 mins then finish cooling on a wire rack.

The cake is full of chocolate flavour,and I love the pockets of molten chocolate chunks.  It's lovely soft moist crumb comes from the courgettes. A different sort of chocolate cake, but one of my favourites.


Little Pecan Tartlets

In these difficult times, we’re all using up what we have in our store cupboards. Finding some pecans, a bit of golden syrup and some ground almonds made me think of a recipe I’d kept from a supermarket magazine ages ago. I had plain flour, so that would be fine for the pastry.

Preheated oven 190C/gas5.   2 x deep bun tins

Pastry: 100g plain flour, 25g caster sugar, 50g ground almonds, 85g butter, 1 egg and 2 tspn lemon juice.

Put the flour, sugar, almonds and butter in a processor and blitz till crumbs ( doesn’t take long)
Add egg and juice through the feeder tube and bring together using your hands.
You can also make the pastry in the traditional rubbing in way.
Wrap in film and put in the fridge for about 15 mins.
Roll out thinly then cut out 18 circles using a 7-8 cm cutter. Press carefully into the tins. Prick the bottoms then leave to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Filling: 70g melted butter, 50g light muscovado sugar, 2 beaten eggs, 2 tbsp golden syrup, juice of 1/2 lemon, 100g chopped pecans

Beat the butter, sugar, eggs, syrup and juice together then add the nuts. Fill the pastry cases with this mixture. Bake for 15-20 mins till golden.
Cool in the tins for 10 mins the cool on a wire rack.

These are really just small American pecan pies. They are very rich, but moreish. I like the contrast between the soft pastry and the sweet but crunchy filling. A nice treat with a cuppa or as a dessert with cream or ice cream.


Pecan, Apple and Cider Cake

Something to cheer us up in these miserable days. Was given a bottle of local cider, and had several apples needing using up, so found this recipe from an old Woman's weekly magazine.

You need:
 330ml cider, 150g melted butter, 4 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated, 2 large eggs, 150g soft brown sugar, 300g plain flour, 2 tspn bicarb, 1 tspn mixed spice, 1 tspn cinnamon, 1/2 tspn grated nutmeg, 200g raisins or sultanas and 100g roughly chopped pecans.

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

Pour cider into a pan and bring to boil. Lower the heat to simmer and let the cider reduce. You need about 100ml. Melt the butter in another pan and pour the cider over to cool a bit until just warm.

Mix the sugar and  eggs into the apples and pour in the butter and cider. Mix together.

Sift the flour and spices together then fold into the mixture. Finally add the fruit and nuts and stir together.

Pour into the cake tin and bake for about 1 hour.

Leave cake to cool in the tin for about 15 mins, then turn out to cool.

A nice cake to have with a cuppa. It has a soft crumb and as you can see, is full of fruit and nuts. I decided to have a proper cuppa with a friend and got out Mum's teaset. I think everyone had this Old English roses pattern! It keeps well in an airtight tin. You could use other fruit and different nuts. A useful recipe, rustic but very moreish!


Chocolate Chip Courgette Bundt Cake

I'm never too sure about veg in cakes. I quite like carrot cake, but didn't like the parsnip one my friend made, and courgettes, well I haven't really used them. So I was surprised to find that they were an ingredient in a delicious cake someone brought for a social evening recently. I asked for the recipe and this is it!

For the cake: 2 large eggs, 80ml runny honey,100g soft brown sugar, 120ml veg oil, 2 tspn vanilla extract, 100g vanilla yoghurt, 1 tspn bicarb, 1 tspn baking powder, 260g plain flour, 2 small courgettes, grated, 100g milk chocolate [chopped roughly]

Ganache: 50g milk chocolate, broken into pieces and 50ml double cream

Preheat oven 160C/gas3                       
Thoroughly grease and flour a large bundt tin  - make sure you do the corners. Put the tin on a baking tray.

Whisk the eggs, honey, sugar, oil, vanilla and yoghurt together. Squeeze any excess water out of the courgettes and add to the bowl. Mix well.

Sift the flour, bicarb and baking powder together in another bowl. Stir in the chopped chocolate.
Pour in the wet ingredients and stir till combined. Pour into the bundt tin and bake for 50-60 mins .

Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack, then turn out carefully.

When cake is cool, make the topping. Put the chocolate pieces in a bowl. Heat the cream in a pan till it just bubbles then pour over the chocolate. Leave to stand for a minute then whisk it till the chocolate has melted,

Drizzle over the cake.

This is a lovely moist cake. It has a soft crumb and the chocolate pieces still have texture. The ganache topping gives it an indulgent feel. I managed to get the cake out in one piece this time, but have had disasters before when using this tin! Make sure you spray it with cake spray thoroughly or grease and flour it well. Am going to make it in a loaf tin next.


Apricot and Almond Tart

A quick and easy recipe to use up a large tin of apricots I found in the back of my store cupboard. In season you could use fresh apricots.

You need:
a pack of shortcrust pastry [or of course, make your own]
a large tin of apricots [or 500g of fresh]
75g soft butter
75g caster sugar
75g ground almonds
1 egg
flaked almonds to decorate

Preheat oven 200C/gas6                      A 24cm tart tin

Roll the pastry out to fit the tin then put into the fridge.
Take apricots out of tin and pour off the liquid. If using fresh, wash them, remove the stones and cut in half.
Mix the butter, sugar, ground almonds and egg together to make a batter.
Pour this into the tart tin.
Arrange the apricots on top and bake for 30 mins. Take out of the oven and sprinkle flaked almonds on top then put back in oven for 5 mins.
The tart can be eaten warm or cold.

It was good eaten with some vanilla ice cream. You could use other fruits instead of apricots, maybe apples or pears.


Chocolate Galette des Rois with Frangipane

I always try and make a galette in January. You can find them in all the pastry shops and supermarkets in France, as they're made to celebrate the arrival of the Kings on January 6th. Have sadly lost all my little fèves that I collected [the little china figures that go into the galette des rois]. Whoever finds the fève is king or queen for the day and gets a crown!
Decided to make it a bit different this year and added chocolate to the frangipane.
It's so useful to have the puff pastry ready cut out into a circle, as in France, but a large dinner plate used to cut round to make the circle is fine.

You need: 2 packs of butter puff pastry, 200g dark chocolate, 125g ground almonds, 125g caster sugar, 125g soft butter, 25g plain flour, 3 eggs and 1 yolk, and 1/2 tspn almond extract

Preheat oven 200C                             A baking sheet

Beat the eggs and sugar together till light and fluffy. Add the almond extract, flour and ground almonds and mix well.
Break up the chocolate and melt in a bowl over simmering water or in a microwave, then add to the almond mixture [frangipane]. Add the butter a bit at a time, beating well.
Roll out one of the packs of puff pastry and cut into a circle. Spoon the almond mixture on, leaving a 2cm border clear round the edge and wet this border. Roll out the 2nd pack and cut another circle and cover the first one. Press the edges together firmly. Beat the egg yolk and add a few drops of milk then brush over the top of the galette.
Traditionally you make marks on the top, but this is optional. I just did a sort of crisscross pattern.
Reduce oven to 180C and bake for 20 mins till golden. Eat warm.

It is delicious, and we had it with some whipped double cream. It's very rich, but am not completely convinced that adding the chocolate improved the galette. I think I prefer it in its original form!

Gratin de choux-fleur

 I was given a medium sized cauliflower and as it's not my favourite vegetable, struggled to know what to do with it. Have kept a few Fr...