September 22, 2015



My brother Colin and his daughter Joanna came to stay with us in France for ten days in August.  They are both keen and accomplished cooks.  Jo, who is not quite eighteen yet, made some delicious meals for us, including a ratatouille pasta bake and a mushroom risotto.  She also enjoys baking cakes and one of the things she made was a tray of rhubarb flapjack.

jo's flapjacks

Having discovered the jars of rhubarb compote on French supermarket shelves, we always now keep some in.  The French seemingly must eat a lot of compote.  You can find jars and tins of all many varieties, the most popular being apple, but there is always a good supply of rhubarb and apricot as well.

Last Christmas Jo gave me a jar of flapjack mix for a present, using her recipe, for me to bake myself.   They were her original apricot flapjacks using dried fruit and were delicious.  These flapjacks are a variation on that recipe.

jo's flapjacks2jo's flapjacks3

It makes a tray of gorgeous chewy flapjack with a layer of rhubarb in the middle.  Jo used to make the apricot version most weekends when she worked in a local café and apparently they always sold out early.  I can see why!

jo's flapjacks4


This month’s Alphabakes Challenge is the letter ‘J’, organised by Caroline of Caroline Makes and Ros of The more than occasional baker.  You can see the details here.

Jo’s rhubarb flapjacks


75g plain flour*

200g butter

125g muscovado sugar**

3½ tsp honey or golden syrup

150g porridge oats

A few tblsp fruit compote or dried fruit puréed


Grease a 20 x 15cm baking tin. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan.

Mix the flour and oats together in a large bowl.

Put the butter into a small saucepan, add the sugar and honey and heat gently until they are all melted together.

Mix the wet and dry ingredients until combined.

Spoon half of the mixture into the tin and spread it out. Spread a thin layer of the fruit compote on top. Spoon the rest of the flapjack mixture over that and spread out evenly.***

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden on top and firm to the touch.

Turn out carefully onto a wire rack, so that the flapjack doesn’t break apart. Cut into the size of slice you want when it is just warm to the touch.

Serve warm with custard, or cold.

*Wholemeal flour would also work.

**Caster sugar may also work.

***If the fruit is very runny, put the tray in the fridge for it to firm up and warm the flapjack topping in the microwave to make the spreading easier.

Cuts into 6-10 pieces, depending on how large you like them.

September 17, 2015


chocolate beetroot cake

For our last Clandestine Cake Club meeting in the Loire the theme was “guess the mystery ingredient”.  Putting weird vegetables and odd spices in a cake is common place these days.  Parsnips, carrots, courgettes and other unlikely things were unheard of when I started baking properly (as a grown up) in the 70’s.  Nowadays there are plenty of recipes around to include something out of the ordinary.

I decided to make a cake I’ve had a hankering to bake for quite some time.  It first appeared in Dom’s Bellau Kitchen blog here and he recently made it again and decorated it even more fabulously here.*

chocolate beetroot cake2chocolate beetroot cake3

I stuck to Dom’s recipe apart from the fact that I increased the amount of apple and reduced the amount of beetroot.  The theory being that I would label my cake as a chocolate beetroot cake, as I thought the beetroot might be an easy guess, leaving the apple as the “mystery ingredient”. 

I was wrong!  Both the beetroot and the apple were impossible to detect in the cake and nobody guessed it.  It was however beautifully moist and incredibly chocolatey.  I would guess that you could disguise anything with that amount of chocolate in a cake – it would be a very good contender for a murder mystery!

chocolate beetroot cake4

I didn’t quite achieve the depth of pink in the icing of Dom’s cakes, even after adding a splash of pink colouring, but it looked very pretty all the same.  Definitely a cake I shall be making again.

My one tip to add to the recipe is that if you put a dinner plate under the cooling rack when you drizzle the melted chocolate over the cake, any that runs off can be spooned up and drizzled again.

mystery 8

There were, as always, some splendid cakes on the table at the Loire Valley CCC meeting and you can read all about that here.


I am being really cheeky this month and sending Dom’s own cake to his monthly “simply eggcellent” challenge, which this month is “cakes”!  You can see the details here.  Well, he asked for it really, didn’t he, n’est-ce-pas?!


*One of the original links has disappeared so, in case they both disappear, here is the recipe:

For the cake

250g plain chocolate, broken into chunks

3 large eggs

200g light muscovado (or light soft brown) sugar

100ml sunflower oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g self raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

50g ground almonds

200g raw beetroot finely grated and squeezed to remove most of the juice (reserve the juice)

200g dessert apples, finely grated

For the icing

100g icing sugar

100g cream cheese

50g plain chocolate, melted


Preheat the oven to 170C /150 fan.  Prepare a large ring or Bundt tin using the method here.

Melt the plain chocolate either in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, or in a microwave.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and oil until smooth.  Stir in the vanilla then fold in the dry ingredients.

Add the beetroot, apple and melted chocolate and fold in.

Transfer the mixture to the tin and bake for 40-60 minutes.  Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out carefully onto a wire rack.

Make sure the cake is completely cool before icing.

To make the icing, beat together the cream cheese and icing sugar, adding enough of the reserved beetroot juice to get a nice pink colour (or use some pink food colouring).

Pour the pink icing over the cake and when it's set drizzle with melted chocolate.

Cuts into 18-20 slices.