December 29, 2021


I have been meaning to have a second go at this cake for some time.

You can see the first time I made it and where it was not a success if you read here.  The recipe comes from the Trex website (see here) and I had made the cake as per instructions using Trex.  There were lots of good things about it but I felt it would probably be much better if made with butter.  

It was when I saw a bunch of bananas reduced to 20p just before Christmas that I thought it was time I had another try at the recipe.  Bargain.  One week later they were just right for baking with!

I was also keen to use my new Christmas cake stand.  Also a bargain.

Now I know I have more than enough cake stands already but......this one is so pretty and when it was reduced in price on the Lakeland website I thought one more wouldn't do any harm.  (I have also created a second storage place for my large collection!)  You can see it here but it's back up to full price!

I needed a few other things from Lakeland (don't you always?) so I placed the order paying extra for next day delivery, not holding out too much hope of them actually arriving in time for Christmas.  

My luck was in!  The parcel arrived the following evening but........I was hugely disappointed to find that the cake stand was faulty.

"How can that be?" I hear you say.  Well it was wonky.  Wonkiness is a common fault with cake stands.  It only takes the pedestal to be glued slightly off centre on the base of the plate and you end up with a bit of a slope.  

I'm not too fussy about a slight slope.  After all, very few of my cakes are actually perfectly level and nobody ever seems to notice a slight wonkiness but this one was miles out.  Well over half an inch across the plate.  (I know this because my other half insisted on getting out his spirit level and measuring it!)

I phoned Lakeland first thing the next morning and spoke to a very nice lady.  I have to say that Lakeland's greeting message is probably the most polite and friendly one I have ever heard.  The lady was very understanding and quick to offer a refund.  When I said what I really wanted was another cake stand she said she would despatch another and to keep the faulty one.  On Christmas Eve my replacement arrived so I hot footed it to the Hospice shop where the wonky original was received gladly.  It was priced and on sale by the time I left the shop.  Hopefully someone who doesn’t mind a cake stand a bit of a slope would have got an even greater bargain for displaying their Christmas cake.

In the end I used Stork block baking margarine not butter.  I also made the whole thing in the food processor.  It had one of those smiley face cracks when it was done.

I decorated it with the cream cheese frosting, banana chips snapped in half and chopped apricots as suggested in the recipe.

I don't think it rose as much as the last time I made it but it was yummy!

Definitely a cake recipe worth the tweaking!

For the cake

225g self raising flour

a pinch of salt

100g block margarine, chilled and cubed

100g soft light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 medium very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed

50g chopped dried apricots

1 tblsp milk

For the topping

50g softened butter

50g icing sugar, sifted

zest of ½ a lemon

100g cream cheese

a few dried banana chips and chopped apricots to decorate


Grease and line the base of a 20cm round springform cake tin.  Preheat the oven to 180C / 160 fan / gas mk 4.

Sift the flour and salt into a food processor.  Add the margarine and pulse until fine breadcrumbs appear.  Add the sugar and pulse briefly to combine.

Beat the eggs and vanilla together.  Add to the food processor and process to mix in.  Add the mashed bananas, apricots and milk and process again until mixed together.  Add more milk if the mixture seems a bit stiff.

Transfer to the prepared tin and bake for 50 - 60 minutes until done.  Cool in the tin.

To make the frosting, beat the butter, icing sugar and lemon zest together.  Beat in the cream cheese.

Spread over the top of the cake and decorate with the banana chips and choppe apricots.

Cuts into 8-10 slices.

December 16, 2021

CRANBERRY AND ORANGE BUNDT CAKE and a Happy Birthday to me!


I recently had a Big Birthday!
Unfortunately I couldn't get all seventy candles on the cake so settled for one!

For my birthday cake I fancied making a recipe I had had my eye on for a while, a cranberry and orange cake by Lynn Hill.  I decided to make it in a Bundt tin for the extra glamour.

It was done in much less time than that specified in the recipe, 55 minutes.  In fact by then it was probably slightly over baked and would have been fine after 50 minutes.  It had a very dark and crispy crust with brown speckling, as warned by Lynn in the write up, due to the very high sugar content.  I decorated it with a drizzle of icing made from 3 tablespoons of sifted icing sugar and enough orange juice to make it the right consistency to run over the sides of the cake.  That disguised the not so attractive appearance of the naked cake!

Once through the crispy crust it was superb!

The mixture was quite stiff so the cranberries didn't sink at all and were beautifully evenly distributed.  I used fewer cranberries than stated in the recipe as my punnet only contained about 220g.  It was plenty I think.

It tasted delicious, cranberry and orange being one of my favourite combinations.

It also kept well in a sealed box and the last few slices made an excellent dessert served warm with custard.  You can see the recipe here.  Apart from the tin, the cooking time, the quantity of cranberries and the addition of the icing I followed it to the letter! 

Cuts into 18-20 portions.

December 2, 2021


It was the same old story, nothing in for lunch and a rummage in the fridge required.

Things have been getting a bit fraught here.  Dealing with the affairs and care for my dad who has just turned 93 has become immensely time consuming and frustrating.  Grappling with all the pitfalls and obstacles has turned into a comedy of errors and the most difficult thing I have ever had to do.  You can read about the latest nonsense here.

The upshot is that managing our own shopping has become a bit hap hazard lately and there is often nothing instantly recognisable as a meal in the fridge.  Thank goodness for oven chips.  And wine.

To make this quiche I simply used a pack of Tesco ready made, ready rolled shortcrust pastry that I found in the freezer (and left on the side for a few hours to thaw out) and followed my general method for making a quiche which you can see here.

Whilst the pastry case was blind baking in the oven, I fried the courgette, onion, bacon and mushrooms in a little oil until softened.  I then tipped the lot into the hot pastry case, added a few slightly tired cherry tomatoes, followed by the egg mixture and a sprinkling of that much despised but loved by us finely grated Parmesan cheese.

Delicious!  Enough for two generous main meal portions.


1 pack of ready made, ready rolled shortcrust pastry

1 large courgette, sliced

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced

3 rashers of smoked back bacon, chopped or cut into strips

3 fat chestnut mushrooms, wiped and thickly sliced

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tbslp approx of grated Parmesan cheese.

3 large eggs

a dollop of Elmlea "double cream"

enough milk to make the beaten eggs and cream up to 400ml


See the link in the text!

Serves four as a main course, six as a light lunch or starter.