October 13, 2018


cherry pie3

Our cherry trees did really well this year, producing a lot of fruit, so I looked through my cook books for a recipe for cherry pie and chose one from “Say it with cake” by Ed Kimber, a former GBBO winner. 

The end result was reminiscent of the pies and crumbles I used to make years ago using those tins of cherry pie filling – only much, much better. 

cherry pie2

The only faffy part of making this pie is stoning all the cherries, a process that is made only slightly easier by the use of my not very efficient cherry stoner.  After half an hour and when beginning to lose the will to live, I wondered whether I should just leave the stones in but remembered that a mouthful of stones takes away the joy of most fruit puddings so soldiered on.

cherry pie

I did find a recipe for cherry pie by Ed on the internet here, but it’s not quite the same as the one in the book, suggesting that he’s tinkered with the original recipe.  This one was delicious and I would definitely make it again.

Probably next year when the cherry tree is groaning under the weight of fruit again!  Speaking of which, I really should have done this post when cherries were in season and easily available fresh in the shops – but you could use frozen ones and make it at any time of year, with the added advantage that you then wouldn’t have to spend hours removing all the stones!


For the filling

200g caster sugar

800g fresh or frozen pitted cherries

zest and juice of 1 lemon

45g cornflour

For the pastry

400g plain flour

1 tsp salt

2 tblsp caster sugar

200g cold unsalted butter

Also, 1 medium egg, beaten with 1 tblsp water for the egg wash.


Put the sugar, 600g of the cherries and the lemon zest into a large pan over medium heat.  Mix the cornflour to a paste with the lemon juice and add to the pan when the cherries start to release their juice.  Bring to the boil gently and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until thickened.  Remove from the heat and add the remaining cherries.  Set aside to cool while you make the pastry.

Make the pastry in the usual way, divide into two portions, one slightly larger than the other and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk 6.  Grease a 23cm pie dish or plate.

Roll out the larger piece of pastry to a bit bigger than the dish and drape it over, pressing into the base.  Trim so the overhang is about 2.5cm all the way round. 

Roll the other piece of pastry and cut into strips 2.5cm wide. 

*The recipe at this point says to chill the pastry again but I didn’t have time. 

Tip the cherry filling into the pie.  Brush the edges with egg wash and lay the strips of pastry over the top in a lattice pattern.  Brush again and fold the overlap in so that it covers the edges of the strips.  Crimp the edges together with finger and thumb.  Brush the pastry all over with egg wash and bake for 40-45 minutes until the pastry is browned and the filling bubbling.

Serves 6-8

October 11, 2018



This is one of those desserts that might not look much but it tasted divine.  I love a good clafoutis and over the years have tried several different recipes for the batter and various fruits.  In fact I once came close to writing a post called “a tale of two clafoutis” which compared two different recipes, one of them by Raymond Blanc – and he should know how to make a good one - but it got forgotten and the photos remain in my “posts that never quite happened” file.


This recipe comes from an M&S booking called “Baking” which I think was a Christmas present many years ago.  I have had success with a few of the recipes from it and I have a hunch that it’s from the Australian Woman’s Weekly stable of cookery books.

When it comes to fruit puddings I’m more of a “chuck it in the dish and add a topping” kind of cook so the idea of caramelising the apples in a pan first seemed like a step too far but it was absolutely worth it.


The quantities made a huge pudding and in fact I kept some of the apples and the batter aside rather than overfill the dish.  I also thought it might not be a good idea to pour all of the caramel in either so I also reserved some of that to pour over a second pudding later.  I’m looking forward to making a small mixed fruit clafoutis with the reserved fruit and batter later today.


And here it is, clafoutis revisited.  I used the few reserved apple wedges, one nectarine and two apricots, poured over the reserved caramel (about a tablespoonful) and batter and baked for 30 minutes.  Delicious!  It also proves that a dessert doesn’t have to be glamorous to be really yummy!


For the fruit

6 medium dessert apples (900g)

50g unsalted butter

110g light muscovado sugar

For the batter

50g plain flour

50g self raising flour

75g caster sugar

4 eggs, beaten lightly

160ml milk

160ml cream (I used Elmlee light double cream)

80g unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract


Grease a large, shallowish 2.5 litre baking dish.  Preheat the oven to 200° C / 180° fan.

For the fruit, peel and halve the apples.  Remove the cores with a melon baller or sharp knife and cut each half into four wedges.

Melt the 50g butter in a large, deep frying pan, add the apples and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until lightly browned.  Add the brown sugar and continue cooking for 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens. 

Tip the fruit into the dish and leave to cool for 5 minutes.

Make the batter while the fruit is cooling by sifting the flours into a large bowl.  Add the caster sugar and mix together.  Gradually whisk in the remaining batter ingredients with a balloon whisk, until smooth, and pour over the fruit.

Bake for 40 minutes.  Serve warm with pouring or whipped cream.  Dust with icing sugar before serving if you like.

Serves 6.

October 10, 2018


mini muffins

Whenever I find myself eating a scrumptious mini muffin at a friend’s house I make a mental note to make them more often myself.  The trouble is, I feel I need the right occasion.  With friends coming round for the afternoon I felt that both cake and savoury nibbles were called for and a batch of mini muffins seemed just the right thing.

I used my pear and goat’s cheese recipe that you can see here and adapted it for what I had in the fridge.  On this occasion I therefore made mushroom, bacon and onion mini muffins and they went down a treat.

mini muffins2

As I was filling the holes in the mini muffin tin I realised I had been more generous with the mixture than usual and it would probably not stretch to a second 24 hole tin.  Then I remembered my 12 hole tin which was a charity shop find from last year.  It was apparently brand new as it had no sign of wear and tear or previous use (so many things in charity shops seem to be on the shelf sporting a few bits of the previous owner’s last meal – yuk) and for 50p it was a real bargain.  I knew it would come in handy eventually.

mini muffins3

This basic recipe is very useful and can be adapted for lots of different fillings.  It makes a light and fluffy little muffin, just right for a one or two-bite mouthful and very moreish.

They are best eaten on the day they are made but will freeze well if you simply put them in a bag.  Defrost thoroughly and warm gently for a few minutes in a low oven (140 C) before serving.


280g plain flour

1 tblsp baking powder

a large pinch of salt

black pepper

2 medium eggs

250 ml milk

6 tblsp sunflower oil

a 100g pack of smoked lardons

4-5 medium sized mushrooms

1 small onion

a handful of grated Emmental cheese (optional)


Chop the onion and mushrooms and add with the lardons to a frying pan.  Cook until the lardons are cooked.  You may or may not want to add a little oil, depending on how fatty the lardons are.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 180°fan/ gas mk 6.  Grease two 24-hole mini muffin tins.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.  Stir in the cooked lardons etc.  Season with salt and pepper and mix together.

Lightly beat the eggs and mix with the milk and oil.  Add to the other ingredients and mix until just combined.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins.  Scatter the grated cheese over the top.

Bake for about 15 minutes until risen, golden and firm to the touch.  Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 36-48 mini muffins (depending on how well you fill the holes).

October 8, 2018

A TALE OF TWO APPLE CAKES and that thing about the icing again.

scrumpy cake

For our cake club meeting last month I decided to try a recipe that I had had my eye on for quite a while.  It’s called “country apple cake” and you can see it on the BBC Good Food website here. For the meeting I called it “scrumpy apple cake” because the apples in it were scrumped from a friend’s garden.  (Actually she invited me round to pick them but that’s by the by.)

scrumpy cake3

The recipe had intrigued me because it contains chocolate in the form of cocoa powder as well as spices and of course the apples.  Having found my coffee apple cake a great success I assumed this would be just as good, but what a disappointment.  It had a lovely texture and held together well for a cake containing plenty of chunks of apple but the flavour was extremely bland.

I had my doubts when I licked the spoon after putting it in the oven so I attempted to perk up the finished cake by adding a cream cheese topping and some apple leaves and chocolate raisins for decoration.  Unfortunately even that was not enough to rescue a really average cake.  Another recipe I should revisit and tweak?………maybe, one day when I have run out of recipes to try……..although it did have a lovely texture.

apple and apricot cake

Now enter stage left, this cake to a recipe by Mary Berry.  She calls it “American apple and apricot cake” and it appears on the internet in numerous places as well as in her “Baking Bible” and “100 cakes and bakes”.

apple and apricot cake4

In my quest to find the perfect apple cake recipe, this would have to be the strongest contender so far.  It was dead easy to make, essentially an all-in-one method.  I snipped the dried apricots quite roughly and sliced the apples directly from my hand into the cake mixture. 

apple and apricot cake3

My cake sank a bit in the middle but tasted divine.  The combination of apricots, apples and almonds is one that really works well it seems – and in fact most of the almond flavour comes from a splash of almond essence rather than ground almonds.

apple and apricot cake5

I don’t know what it is about it that makes it “American” but I would just call it “apple, apricot and almond cake”.

Mary suggests it’s best served warm but I served it at room temperature and didn’t fall apart like some apple cakes do.  It kept well in a tin for a couple of days, too.  Definitely a cake I shall be making again and again.

Apple, apricot and almond cake


250g self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

225g caster sugar

2 eggs

½ tsp almond extract

150g butter, melted

225g apples, peeled*

100g ready to eat dried apricots

25g flaked almonds


Preheat the oven to 160 C / 140 Fan / gas mk 3.  Butter and line the base of a 20cm round loose bottomed tin.

Put all the ingredients except for the fruit into a large bowl and mix well together to combine then beat for one minute.  Snip the apricots and slice the apples into the bowl and gently mix them in.  Spoon into the tin and level the top.  Sprinkle over the almonds and bake for 1-1½ hours until done. 

Cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

*The recipe says cooking apples but I used some more of my scrumped dessert apples from my friend’s tree and they were fine.

Cuts into 10-12 slices.