January 26, 2018


pistachio rose and lime cake

Nick made this cake for a CCC event last year.  It’s a Rachel Allen recipe from her book of a few years ago called “Bake”.  Looking at the front page of the book I see that it has £2.49 written in pencil, which means that it was one of my charity shop purchases, although I don’t remember which one or when I bought it, but it’s in brand new condition.  A bargain.

This was one of those moist, almost gooey cakes with an indulgent texture due to the addition of ground almonds and the good soaking with the syrup which contains lime juice and rosewater.  I am nervous of rosewater and 1-2 tablespoons sounds like a lot so I urged Nick to try just the one and it seemed to me to be just right.

pistachio rose and lime cake2

Unfortunately I forgot to take a good picture of the cake, especially after it was cut, which is a shame because the texture was lovely and it kept well.  I liked it a lot and thought it tasted rather “exotic” due to the rosewater and the pistachios.  It didn’t look very glamorous, rather plain in fact, especially alongside some of the rather elaborately iced cakes on the table at the CCC meeting, but its unpretentious appearance hid sophisticated flavours.  Definitely one to surprise and impress.

The recipe appears in several places on the internet if you want to see it, one of which is here.  The other book I have where it makes an appearance is “World’s Best Cakes” by Roger Pizey.


225g self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

75g ground almonds

100g caster sugar

2 eggs

50g (1 tblsp) runny honey

250ml natural yoghurt

150ml sunflower oil

finely grated zest of 1 lime

For the topping

150ml water

100g caster sugar

juice of 1 lime

1-2 tblsp rosewater (we used just one and it seemed to be enough)

50g pistachios, roughly chopped

rose petals (optional)


Line the base and sides of a 22cm springform tin with baking paper.  Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl, add the almonds and sugar and mix together.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, honey, yoghurt, oil and lime zest.  Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, add the egg mixture and whisk together until combined.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for about 50 minutes until done.  Cool in the tin for 20 minutes.

While the cake is cooling make the syrup by boiling the water and sugar in a small pan for about 5 minutes until it is reduced by half.  Add the lime juice, remove from the heat to cool and then add the rosewater to taste.

Make fine holes in the top of the still warm cake and spoon the syrup over.  Scatter with the chopped pistachios and add a few rose petals for decoration just before serving if you like.

Cuts into 10-12 slices.

January 23, 2018


I have made a hummingbird cake many times for our Children in Need cake stall at work and they always sold well.  The recipe I used was in one of those Australian Woman’s Weekly books but this time I was in France and the book in the UK so I hunted around for another recipe and found one by Mary Berry that I liked the look of.

The cake is of Southern US origin and contains bananas, pineapple, nuts and spices, producing a very moist cake with a slightly open crumb, almost muffin like in texture.

However, it keeps much better than a batch of muffins!  Mine was filled and iced with the traditional cream cheese icing but I also spread the bottom cake with a good layer of pineapple jam before adding the cream cheese and sandwiching the two layers together – just for extra pineapple flavour and sweetness - and it worked very well.  I decorated mine with sugar flowers, dried banana slices and some Galaxy chocolate gold coloured mini eggs.  
The recipe comes from the book Mary Berry Everyday and you can see it here.

(This post was published using Blogger, which I gave up on years ago in favour of Windows Live Writer, then Open Live Writer which now also seems to be misbehaving.
I don't like using Blogger as it often plays up but for now it will have to do.)

250g self raising flour
250g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
50g chopped walnuts
2 large ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 432g tin pineapple chunks, drained and finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
175 ml sunflower oil

For the icing
100g softened butter
175g full fat cream cheese
300g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 tblsp pineapple jam (optional)
Sugar flowers, dried banana slices and chocolate eggs to decorate.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk6.  Butter and line the base of two 20cm sandwich tins.
Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl.  Add the sugar and chopped nuts and mix together.
In another bowl, mix together the bananas, pineapple, eggs, oil and vanilla.  Add this to the flour mixture and stir to combine, avoiding over mixing as with muffins.
Divide the mixture between the two tins, level the top and bake for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden.  Cool in the tins.
To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the remaining ingredients (except for the jam if using) and beat with an electric whisk until smooth.  Put in the fridge to chill until the cakes are cool.
Put one cake upside down on a cake stand or plate, spread with jam if using and spread about half of the icing on top.  Add the other cake, the right way up and spread the second half of the icing over the top.
Decorate with your chosen decorations.
Cuts into 10-12 slices.

January 7, 2018

BANANA AND CARDAMOM CAKE and my new kitchen.

banana and cardamom cake2
My weight loss diet, a rotten cold/flu over Christmas and our new kitchen nightmare notwithstanding, I was desperate to bake a cake in my new oven, in my new kitchen and could resist no longer.
banana and cardamom cake
I had spotted a recipe in my latest addition to my bookshelf “The Christmas Chronicles” by Nigel Slater, which was my Christmas present.
For the last two Christmases we have been operating a “Secret Santa” method of giving presents and I have to say that it has been a great success.  There are really only five of us on my side of the family that exchange gifts, and by setting a fairly low limit and just giving one thing secretly, we all get something we want and nobody ends up spending loads of money they can’t afford on stuff that nobody needs.  I wished for this book and so it appeared on Christmas Day, from Santa.  I genuinely have no idea which one of my family bought it for me!
I like Nigel Slater.  There is something about him that I find extremely endearing yet ever so slightly odd, but I love his more recent TV programmes.  I love the way he seems to cook ad lib according to what he has in the fridge or garden and it all looks delicious.  It’s an effortless style of cooking that I wish I could emulate, although I dare say that much of it is more carefully planned than it looks, but even so, it comes across as sophisticatedly rustic in a relaxed kind of way.  I also rather like his kitchen.
new kitchennew kitchen2
Speaking of which, I now have my new kitchen.  Getting it done turned out to be a nightmare but we ended up with the kitchen we wanted so that’s all that matters I suppose.
new kitchen3new kitchen4
It isn’t finished.  There is still some painting to do and a new floor to put down.  A lot of the tiling will have to be redone as it’s absolutely terrible – I could have made a better job of it myself - and the tap dribbles, apparently because that design of tap dribbles – sometimes.  Which is very odd because we have the exactly same style of tap in our French kitchen and it dribbleth not!  (Another battle to fight.)
new kitchen5
new kitchen7
But we love the kitchen warts and all and it will be finished before too long.  We didn’t go for fancy gadgets and gizmos, just good quality appliances and lots of cabinets to store all our stuff in such a way as we don’t have to fight to get things out of the cupboards.  The colour is described as grey but in fact it’s a very pale and subtle sage green.
new kitchen6
We have put our most noisy appliances, the washing machine and tumble drier, in the back porch, converting it into a utility room – or “futility room” as I read recently, which amused me no end and I shall refer to it as the FR from now on!  The long awaited dishwasher is one of the built in appliances in the kitchen and it is amazingly quiet – how things have improved since we last bought one – I have to really listen hard to decide if I actually switched it on.
Anyway, I was desperate to make a cake in my brand new AEG oven and could wait no longer!
Nigel Slater’s recipes can be a bit wordy and not always easy to follow but I followed it to the letter and the cake was a great success.  I have rewritten the recipe according to what I used and the way I went about it.
banana and cardamom cake3banana and cardamom cake4
It had an excellent texture and flavour – except that I’m not entirely convinced about the cardamom.  I’m tempted to think that it would have been even better with a more traditional addition of say ginger or cinnamon.  The cardamom made it florally fragrant which I’m not sure is my cup of Earl Grey, but because it is otherwise so good I will definitely make it again.  The crunchy topping was lovely but I might replace the cardamom with some cinnamon in the batter next time.
(Maybe I was put off by the fact that I can’t get past the thought that the little seeds inside a cardamom pod look alarmingly like mouse droppings!)
You can see the original recipe here.
banana and cardamom cake5
3 medium bananas (about 375g when peeled)
1 tblsp lemon juice
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
90g golden caster sugar
90g light muscovado sugar
2 eggs
4 tblsp groundnut oil
For the topping
10 cardamom pods
2 tblsp golden caster sugar
Break open the cardamom pods and crush the seeds to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle.  Add the 2 tblsp caster sugar and mix together, set aside.
Break the bananas into chunks into a bowl and mash them with a fork, leaving them fairly lumpy rather than turning them into mush.  Stir in the lemon juice and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 170°C / 150° fan / gas mk 3-4.  Butter and line the base of a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper.*
Put the two sugars into a large bowl with the eggs and beat with an electric whisk for 3-4 minutes until light and creamy.  Add half the oil and whisk again, repeat with the other half.
Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and fold in.  Add the mashed bananas and fold in.
Pour into the tin and sprinkle the cardamom mixture on top.  Bake for 35-45 minutes until done.  Cool in the tin before turning out.
*The original recipe states a 20cm square tin and bake for 35 minutes, but I wanted a round cake.
Cuts into 10-12 slices.

January 6, 2018


marmalade yoghurt cake

My brother made this cake for a CCC event when he was staying with us on holiday in France last year.  I can’t quite remember why he chose this particular recipe, but we were all pleased that he did.  It was easy to make, turned out exactly like the picture on the website and tasted delicious.

marmalade yoghurt cake2

I thought that now would be a good time to post about it, this being the marmalade making season (although I have never made any myself) and many people being ready to bake something a bit less rich and less Christmassy .  You can see the original here.


125g full fat Greek yoghurt

50ml vegetable oil

zest of 1 lemon

zest of 1 orange

3 eggs

125g caster sugar

200g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

75g marmalade

1 tbsp orange juice


Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk4.  Butter and line a 1lb loaf tin or use a paper liner.

Beat together the yoghurt, oil zests and eggs in a large bowl until light and frothy.  Sift in the flour and baking powder, add the sugar and mix until just combined.

Spoon into the tin and bake for about 45 minutes until done.  Remove from the oven.

Whilst the cake is cooling slightly, warm the marmalade and orange juice in a small pan until the marmalade melts.  Pour over the still warm cake and leave to cool completely in the tin.

Remove when cold and cut in thick slices.

Cuts into 8-10 slices.