Great British Blog Off 2017



Week four saw a brand new category added to the Great British Bake Off Tent this year, with caramel.  Something I personally don’t cook too often; hot sugar is not a thing for the permanently accident prone to be handling too often.  However, I thoroughly enjoyed doing the bake I did, my own take on millionaires shortbread; and I figured it would be an easy task too as my time is limited this week.  But, the caramel sauce I usually make is ‘runny’ and seemingly has one essential ingredient missing, it’s water, sugar, butter and a couple of drops of vanilla.  You would think that I would actually check some recipes out (never having made it before) for the thing I am going to bake before I went shopping, right? Nope not me, I like to live on the edge!! So, after a 30 minute mare, I decided that the only thing for it was a trip back to the supermarket (where I had spent the morning) – bearing in mind it’s at least a 50 minute round trip to  ‘pop’ to a large shop for me, but I could not bank on the small local market having a tin of sweetened condensed milk (which it transpires soft setting caramel needs).  But with my brain ticking and alternatives going through my head I thought to myself “surely theres got to be an alternative, maybe coconut milk?” So iPad in hand I did a search for set caramel sauce suitable for making millionaires shortbread, and low and behold there they were, lots and lots of recipes and blogs using coconut milk and cream, hurrah! So, here it is folks millionaires shortbread made without the condensed milk. 

Banoffee Shortbread

Banoffee Caramel Shortbread


4oz/125g plain flour

1oz/30g semolina

1oz/30g cornflour

4oz/125g proper butter (really cold)

2oz/60g sugar (caster is usual but for this one is used caster and coconut sugar)

2 tins of coconut milk (just the cream, do not shake before opening, discard the ‘water’)

1 cup coconut sugar (250g/8oz)

Banana flavouring

6oz/200g dark chocolate plus some white chic chips for decorating


  1. Put oven on at 175°C.  Use a butter wrapper to just grease a suitable tin for the tray bake. (Mine is 30 x 12 cm).
  2. Put the flours into a bowl.  Cut the butter up into small cubes, add to the flours and rub in until it resembles breadcrumbs.  (I cheat and do this in the food processor for 2 reasons, don’t like stuff up my fingernails and it pains the arthritis).
  3. Stir in the sugars and, working it gently, bring it together to just form a dough. Press  this crumbly dough into the tin evenly and then pop in the fridge, or pantry to chill for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Put the biscuit base into the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden around the edges.
  5. Put the biscuit, still in its tin, back in the pantry to cool totally.
  6. Carefully open the 2 tins of coconut milk, being careful not to disturb the water underneath, remove the cream from the tins and dollop into a heavy saucepan.  Add 1 cup of coconut (or granulated) sugar, mix well and set over a medium/high heat to boil; watch it constantly and stir with a wooden spoon most of the time. Once this come to the boil turn heat down to medium/low.  IMG_1965It needs to roll boil for about 20-25 minutes now. If it rolls up to almost boiling out of the pan, simply move off the heat for a few seconds until it drops. You will notice that it gets darker and darker, and eventually will just begin to thicken; by this time it should be conker brown.  Take the pan off the heat and add 1 tsp of banana flavouring and leave somewhere cool to go completely cold.IMG_1968
  7. Pour the set caramel onto the shortbread (still in the mould) give it a sharp bang to remove bubbles, and leave for 1-2 hours in the cool, to set off.  IMG_1984
  8. Melt the dark chocolate and tip it over the caramel, smooth out then with a tap hot palette knife, smooth the surface over.  Guess what now, yup leave it for 1-2 hours to set (at room temperature).  Decorate with the white chocolate.
  9. Phew, finally you get to eat and enjoy.

    Banoffee Shortbread

TOP TIP TIME. –  Couple of things here, I highly recommend making this over 2 days, allow your caramel to cool totally, pour over the biscuit and then leave to fully set overnight (you can see where is put my finger on mine to see if it was set, in the photo, I was concerned that it would not set enough the night before) before adorning with chocolate. Do not, like I did, then scrape the chocolate flat with a proper cold palette knife, it set instantly,  took the shine off it and made it wavy! Fill a jug with hot tap water and sit the knife in it for a minute or 2, dry it, then scrape the top over.  I like to put my chocolate in the microwave to melt, put ¾ in a bowl and melt fully then add the remaining ¼ and whisk it in with a fork, I think it makes it glossier as it cools it quicker and the whipping seems to help too.  Again when cutting the  biscuits into fingers keep it in the tin and use a hot, sharp, smooth bladed knife.

Well, this was my first foray into making caramel shortbread, not something I would usually go for, too sickly sweet for my liking but I have to say this was freaking gorgeous.  The coconut sugar gave the shortbread a caramelly taste and left pretty little brown flecks in it too.  I actually went without lunch the day I made it, after having a piece for elevenses, just so I could have another slice in the afternoon! I was already planning on going with the banana flavour before I had the panic about the caramel, but using the coconut milk just gelled it all together and the Banoffee Shortbread was created.  Heaven!

Sadly I will be unable to join in with the blog and bake next week as I am off for a week in the sun, leaving poor Mr Timothy and son to look after the farm and fend for themselves.  I did contemplate cooking a pud this weekend and blogging anyway, but it is the Misters birthday the day I get back so will be baking his cake to freeze in readiness.  A cow theme me thinks!  So fingers crossed I will get my first proper farm blog ‘September’  posted instead.  But if you want to check out this weeks’ other blogs, and next weeks for that matter, pop on over to our host blog by Jenny Paulin to see them all.








The Great British Blog Off 2017

Week Three  –  Bread


So week 3 and it’s my dreaded nemesis the monster that is bread!  I do things exactly the same each time I make bread, and sometimes I have amazing, fluffy, yumminess and the next heavy, doughy blurgh!  But undaunted, I went for 2 bakes this week as they did keep it nicely simple on Great British Bake Off with a simple, white cottage loaf and fruited teacakes. Mind you, I was ‘talking’ at the TV when they did the teacakes as virtually everyone on there baked fruit buns, and not teacakes.  They were all rounded and to me a proper teacake should be flatter, as it is made to toast (not be eaten as is like Paul and Prue did) so flat ones fit under the grill and in the toaster far better than a round one. And then, low and behold even though I squished mine just before putting them in the oven, they popped up like mushrooms all rounded and fluffy! But first folk……….



500g strong plain flour

7g/2tsp dried fast action yeast

1tsp salt

1tsp sugar

3tbs olive oil (plus more for greasing)

300ml water

small amount of sesame or poppy seeds


  1. Grease your work surface with extra oil ready for kneading on.
  2. Put the flour in a large bowl and put the yeast on one side, salt against another side and sugar against another, finally put the oil in a little hollow in the middle.  Don’t let the best touch anything until the water is added.IMG_1934
  3. Add the water in the centre and using one hand bring all the ingredients together to form a loose dough. Tip this onto your oiled board making sure to scrape out the bowl.  Knead the bread for around 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (Alternatively put all the ingredients into a mixer set with a dough hook and let it whirl for 5-6 minutes).
  4. Grease the bowl lightly and pop the dough ball back in.  Cover (oiled cling, damp tea towel, big plastic bag, plastic shower cap) and leave to double in size.
  5. Uncover, pluck it from its bowl and gently knead it out.  Cut 1/3 off and roll the dough into 2 round balls; gently flatten the larger and put the smaller ball on top.
  6. Press your thumb, index finger or handle of a wooded spoon into the centre of the upper ball right through to the board underneath (this will ensure they will stay together and form one loaf). Carefully place onto a floured or lined baking tray.
  7. Place inside a big plastic bag (full of air) at room temp and leave for approximately ½ hour.  Put the oven on at max (make sure the oven is ready when the bread has doubled in size, as if not, the dough could over-prove and literally pop like a balloon).  As soon as the oven is hot, spray with bottom with water and close the door.  Spay the bread with water and sprinkle on the seeds.  Put in the oven, turn down to 200°C and bake for approx. 35-40 mins until golden (will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom).

Allow to cool before slicing.


TOP TIPS – don’t rush the rising time, you need the dough to double and it won’t always happen in the magic hour, factors like the weather, air temperature, heating etc will alter how long this will take.   You don’t need to have a warming drawer but it will be quicker, roughly 45 minutes, on a warm dry day it will take around 60 minutes in a room, on a wet day, longer time is needed.  keeping it covered and away from draughts will also help with the rise.  Don’t panic if it takes a while, slow risen loaves usually taste better anyway. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, if you can stick your finger in and the hole does not fill up or, if you flatten the end of the dough a little, twist it fully round and let go and it uncurls, then it’s ready.  Don’t be tempted to add more flour if your dough is a wee bit wet and sticky at the start, a wetter dough will rise better. Finally I strongly recommend investing in some clear plastic shower caps (pound shop!!) and some large transparent bin bags (supermarket) if you do a lot of baking, they come in handy for quite a bit.

Fruited Teacakes


You will need the following:

300ml milk

50g butter

500g bread flour

75g castor sugar

7g dry fast action yeast

1tsp salt

1tsp cinnamon

1 medium to large egg

150g mixed dried fruit (your favourite)

2-3 tbs marmalade

2-3 tbs honey

What you need to do:

  1. Gently heat the milk and butter (microwave or pan) until the butter just melts, leave to cool slightly.
  2. To a large bowl add the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and cinnamon making sure that nothing touches the yeast.  Put the egg in an indent in the centre.
  3. Using your fingers, break up the egg with one hand then add in the liquid with the other and stir everything together to from a wet, sticky dough.  Tip out onto an oiled work surface and knead well for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Your dough should be smooth, elastic and less sticky.  Now spread the dough out to a rough, thinnish rectangle and evenly spread the dried fruit across it.  Roll up in a sausage shape and knead for a minute or 2 until the fruit is well combined into the dough.  Grease the bowl and cover.  Set aside to double in size.IMG_1940
  5. Once the dough has grown,  tip back out onto the work surface and gently knead for a minute.  Divide into 12-13 even sized pieces and roll into balls.  Flatten each ball slightly and space them out on 2 baking sheets.  Put them inside large clear bags and set aside to double in size.
  6. Put the oven on at 200°C ready for when the teacakes have more or less doubled in size.  Once they are, put in the oven and bake for approx. 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven.
  7. Just heat the marmalade and honey (pan or microwave) and using a heatproof pastry brush glaze your teacakes. Carefully transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.  Split and toast, enjoy with lashing of butter.IMG_1957

TIP TIME. –  not really much left to say on the bake but, a note on the fruit.  For those who either know me, or follow my recipes you will know by now I loathe, despise, no dare I say hate currents, raisins and dried peel.  So in my teacakes there are dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries a little mango and finally just a smidge of pineapple, use what you like best.  If any of the fruit you use is really, really hard (like what my pineapple was) then chop it up small and add a tablespoon of orange juice.  I don’t like to pre-glaze my sweet buns as you run into the ‘caramelised’ Russian roulette game – is it getting too well done, but not cooked in the middle – stress.  So glazing afterwards means you just wait for the buns to get golden, plus it adds a lovely orangey note to the teacakes. The other thing to note is the rising time, remember, it differs from day to day. These bad boys took nearly 4 hours from start to finish so make sure you leave enough time in your day.

I was a wee bit disappointed, as I mentioned earlier with the fact that my teacakes rose a little too much (I know, madness!), however, both Mr T and the teenage Stepson commented on how nice the bread was – high praise indeed from roughty, tufty, farmery types who believe that a ‘complement’ is eating things without complaint normally!

So that’s it for week 3.  I do hope you give these recipes a try; and if you want to see what my fellow Great British Blog Offers have on offer (!) please go to our host site Mummy Mishaps for other blogs and the rules of our little fun competion.







Great British Blog Off 2017



So, 2nd week in and it was biscuits (a word that thanks to a popular TV ad campaign featuring Vinny the Panda I can now only pronounce as bis-quits).  First challenge “good idea” I thought, sandwich biscuit, something I certainly had never made.  Then came the technical again not made this before – fortune cookies – WHY? But really why would you? I have never made them, nor am I ever likely to! And then the 3rd challenge, the showstopper.  WHAT? a boardgame in biscuit, not a bad idea, just a weeny bit random, and I take my hat off to Steven Carter-Bailey for his chess game, but for a ‘lil ole home baker it seemed a step too far.  So, for a rare occasion, I have only made one of the bakes this week, the sandwich biscuit. And I am quite proud to say that this is my own recipe formulated from reading about 10 others (including the goddesses that are Mary Berry and Marguerite Patten) and deciding on a good combo. And my apologies to the modernist amongst us, I am using old school imperial measurements again.



INGREDIENTS  makes approx 24

3oz butter (proper is best)

3tbs syrup

6oz plain flour

1½oz golden caster sugar

2tsp ginger powder

1tsp cinnamon

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 ball preserved ginger – very finely chopped

1tbs granulated sugar

2oz soft butter

1½ cups icing sugar

1oz good quality cream cheese

few drops of orange essence


  1. Put oven on to 220°c. Line (and grease if needed) 2 large baking sheets.
  2. Gently melt the butter and syrup together.IMG_1918IMG_1917
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl (give them a whisk to make sure they are properly mixed). Pour the butter mix in, add the chopped ginger root and combine to a paste with a wooden spoon or firm spatula.
  4. Take small, walnut sized lumps of the mix and roll into balls.  Chill for 10 minutes.IMG_1919
  5. Gently press down with a fork and sprinkle with granulated sugar (this will give a crunchy and cracked exterior).
  6. Put them on the baking trays and pop them in the oven, immediately turn the oven down to 170°.  Bake for 5-7 minutes until golden (be like a GBBO contestant and watch them).  To enhance the ‘cracked’ appearance of the biscuit, turn oven off and open the door a little and leave them in the oven for around 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on cooling racks.IMG_1921
  7. Whisk the butter to light and fluffy, sieve the icing sugar and fold into the butter. Slightly soften the cream cheese, add this and the orange essence to the buttercream and gently combine.  Chill for 30 mins.IMG_1922
  8. Take a teaspoon sized blob of the cheesecake mix and place onto the middle of the bottom of a biscuit then simply glue another one to it, squeeze gently so it just reaches the edges and you have ginger orange cheesecake sandwich biscuits!IMG_1930









TIPS  –  Not really got anything for you this week, except for sieving. If you are using a decent quality, new flour, then you really don’t have to sieve it (this was once necessary before modern production methods etc to remove husks, detritus and even weevils from the flour).  However, I recommend that icing sugar is always pre-sieved for making buttercream to avoid  lumps. The cheesecake filling would not have passed the Paul Hollywood softness approval rating – if you did want a firmer one then you could add a little gently melted coconut oil as this will then set at room temperature and make the filling firmer.

Ohhhhhhh my, but these were scrumptious if I do say so myself.  Crunchy on the outside and soft cookie texture in the middle.  A definite one to remake!

If you want to see some of the other bakers and bloggers or feel inspired to take part with the blog off for Great British Bake Off then head on over to our hostess’ site – Mummy Mishaps and check out the info and rules and link in.  Happy baking!


Great Bloggers Bake Off 2017


WEEK ONE  –  Cakes

Well folks it’s that time of year again, and I am a bad, bad, blogger.  It began just after the end of last years’ Great British Bake Off when I realised that I would have to prep for Christmas early, as I was due to have my arthritic thumb operated on and it was going to be at least 3 months before it was good to use.  3 months later saw it not much improved, still painful, and now even more stiff and unwieldy.  Then the ‘accident’ happened (which for me is nothing unusual as I am the most accident prone person in the world ever – if I say “ow” nobody in the family even looks up, as it happens often, nay a lot). I fell ‘up’ a small flight of steps in my kitchen and ended up in the local A&E having my fractured wrist seen to!  But then I got complacent and lazy with not doing the blog and so my autumn resolution is more blogging, more recipes and most definitely starting the farm-life diary.




500g apples – after peeling and coring img_1906.jpg

splash of lemon juice

275g plain flour

325g caster sugar

2tsp cinnamon

1tsp bicarb of soda

½tsp salt

2 eggs

250ml veg oil

1 eating apple

1-2 tbs demererra sugar


  1. Put oven on 180° fan.  Well butter then liberally flour a 25cm cake tin (turn over and knock out the excess flour).
  2. Peel and core the apples (I like to use a combination of cooking and eating apples) and place in a bowl full of water with a splash of lemon juice which helps reduce brownness in the apples. chop them up into small pieces, placing back into the lemon water.IMG_1902
  3. Put all dry ingredients into a bowl and give a little whisk to combine.
  4. Break eggs into a large jug/bowl and give them a good whisk to foamy texture, add the oil and whisk again.
  5. Take the apples from the water and place into a clean tea towel to dry slightly.  Take the reserved apple and peel, core and cut into thin slices, place in the lemon water.
  6. Pour the eggy mixture into the flour and beat together with a wooden spoon or heavy spatula. This mix will go quite firm – almost like greasy play dough! Now tip in the apples and stir, and stir, and stir……. until the mixture slackens, and the apples are well combined and coated.
  7. Pour into the cake tin, smooth down.  Decorate the top with the apple slices and sprinkle the demererra sugar over the surface of the cake. Place in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, until firm to the touch.IMG_1905
  8. Remove from the oven, cool in tin for 10 minutes then carefully loosen the cake in the tin with a thin palette knife before removing from the tin.  This cake can be enjoyed warm or cold.

TOP TIP TIME  –  You can use overripe or slightly bruised fruit for this cake, and I like to mix it up with the apple pieces, small chuck, biggish pieces, slices and teeny, tiny ones to give varying texture to the apples within the cake.  I would not change the sugar on the top of the cake as the demererra sugar gives a lovely crispy crust, making this halfway between a pudding and a cake, serve warm with cream or custard!  


This one is a family favourite, and a must at this time of year with all the trees groaning with fruit ready to drop.  It’s very tasty but not the prettiest looking, hence we calls it ‘Ugly Cake’.





*please not that without pairs of hemisphere pans in 3 sizes, you will not be able to make this cake! I would also advise novice bakers to give this one a miss too.


All the same for the  3 cakes (in different weights), with added additions such as food colouring (these will appear in the recipe body).  Break eggs into a pre-weighed jug and then weigh other ingredients the same.

Cake 1 –  3 eggs plus same weight in butter, sugar, self raising flour (plus 75g extra) 1 tsp baking powder, food colouring, vanilla essence.

Cake 2  – 4 egg mixture plus 40g extra flour

Cake 3 – 4 egg mixture

3oog dark chocolate

175g soft butter

4 cups sieved icing sugar


  1. Put oven on 175°. Well butter and flour your 6 cake tins.
  2. Weigh your eggs then weigh the remainder of the ingredients to match (e.g if your eggs weigh 200g then you will require 200g sugar etc plus 75g extra flour to make this cake firm).
  3. Make your cake by the creaming method or all in one, whichever you prefer, then colour it yellow and add a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Pour into the smallest cake pans and bake for approximately 30 minutes until the cake is just cooked and firm to the touch.
  4. Remove from the oven, take out of the tins and allow to cool fully.
  5. Make the second cake batter and colour this one orange and flavour with vanilla.  Pour this batter evenly into the 2 medium hemispheres (so they are approx ½ full) then press the small domes into the middle, taking care to get them as close to central as you can, ensuring that the batter comes up to 1″ from the top of the cakes. You can do this with a piping bag to ensure even distribution of the batter around the sides.IMG_1168
  6. Bake for approx 25 minutes until the 2nd cake mix is baked. Remove from the tins and again allow to cool fully.
  7. Repeat this process with the 3rd cake mix and the cooked cake halves in the largest pans.  I split my batter into 2 and coloured one brown and the other red, again floured with vanilla.  Both mixes were placed into piping bags and the brown was piped around first then the red layered over the top (making the mix on the bottom of the pan slightly thicker).  Bake again for around 25 minutes until fully cooked.IMG_1169
  8. Once the 2 large cake halves are fully cooled, carefully trim the flat side smooth to get rid of the ‘dry’ cake thats been baked 2 or 3 times, and gives it a flat base.
  9. Make your buttercream and flavour it (I used lemon) and divide into 3.  Colour one yellow, one pale blue and one green.  Apply a liberal spreading of the yellow to one cake and neatly ‘glue’ the 2 together.
  10. Place onto a dish or bowl to support, inside a larger ‘drainage’ dish. Melt the chocolate either in a bain Marie or microwave and pour this over the sphere, using a palette knife spread all over the ball, it does not need to be smooth.  Keep back a small amount to remelt later. Allow to fully dry then rotate the cake slightly and fill in the space without chocolate (from standing on the support dish).  Allow to set fully.
  11. My next step was to find a ‘flat’ globe picture on the internet and print it off.  With this as a guide I used a fondant icing tool like a pencil to sketch this onto the cake.  I filled in the ocean parts and then the green in the landmass shapes. Then I sprinkled  white glitter onto the top to represent the North Pole. Hey presto a globe!


TIP TIME  –  have some fairy cake or muffin cups handy so that if you do have too much cake mix left over you can bake some little cakes too.

So why specifically the colours I used/chose? They represent the actual layers of the earth. Yellow for the inner core, orange as the outer core then the red for the mantle,  the brown represents the deep crust and the crispy chocolate on the outside was the ‘crust’. I did add one other final flourish in the very centre of the cake I scooped out a small hollow (before glueing them together and mixed edible metallic pieces into the buttercream as the ‘supposed’ molten metal core. So, phew, an epic journey into cake that one (would not have had time to make it in the GBBO tent), but it was amazing to look at (the person it was for did not want to cut it, so I had to do it for them!) and not only that, but very tasty too.


Now, it could be said that I have cheated a little with this bake as it is an historic one, baked a wee while ago,  however, that is for 2 reason one being that it has been a very busy week with my community players dramatic performance of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and also because I baked them a themed cake for the after-show party which could almost be an illusion cake in itself.  It is exactly how it looks, a sofa suck at the top of a flight of stairs, a pivotal component of the play.


So, that it for cake week, I should just about manage to join in with the linky to Mummy Mishaps.  If you too are a baker, then please do join in with the fun, rules and regs and the link can be found at our hostess’ blog site.  Thanks for reading and I do hope you try the recipes too.  All feedback welcome.



Great Bloggers Bake Off 2016



A picnic fit for a Queen


Minty lamb sausage rolls – quiche Lorraine – cheesy chorizo scones –                                                                       white chocolate and raspberry tarts and the finale red velvet red velvet crown cake!

So, not being one to shy away from multiple bakes, I decided to to go for the final showstopper this week, a picnic fit for a Queen; which is rather apt as in just a few short weeks I will be playing a Queen in my local pantomime, Rapunzel.  A lot of baking to do in one day, at least I did not have to do anything extra for dinner, it was quiche and sausage rolls with tart for pud! And I am very pleased to say that I made it in the time restraints, almost, all in all, I took  6½, it really was a case of one in, one out, of the oven. Simple recipes but a must for working out the chronology of things, what order to do steps in taking into account cooking times & temps and cooling periods etc.  

I tried to stick to the brief in all the other aspects of the bake, the only little cheat I did was to do a family sized quiche rather than individual ones.

Just incase you wanted to know, it kinda went like this  –  flakey made, cakes made and in oven, pastry and sweet pastry made whilst they were baking (pop in freezer for 5 mins rest).  Blind bake quiche case and tart cases, make scones whilst they are baking, then bake the scones.  Make sausage filling, fill rolls and pop them in freezer for 5 minutes.  Make coulis simultaneously fry onions and bacon and leave to cool.  Cook sausage rolls in top of oven, fill quiche and bake.  At this point I was glad of owning 3 cooking timers! Make butter cream.  Fill and stack cakes, shape and cover in crumb coat of buttercream.  Put in fridge for 30 minutes (time for a sit down and a cuppa).  At the point (5 hours in) of everything being ‘cooked’ I decided that the final hour was for clearing and washing up and continued the following day.  It took me around 1½ hours then to finish decorating the cake. 

Minty Lamb Sausage Rolls




 150g plain flour

150g strong white bread flour

2 large eggs

100ml cold water

250g butter (if unsalted add 1 teaspoon salt into flour)


500g lean lamb  –  finely minced

2.5cm black pudding – finely minced

1-2 tbs tomato purée

1 lamb stock cube

1 tbs dried or fresh mint

1 tbs garlic puree

good pinch pepper

1 medium sized onion

1 egg (for glazing)

  • Make your flaky pastry (as per instructions in week 9 of Great British Blog Off).  Or alternatively you can buy a good quality butter one. Keep it in the fridge until meat ‘paste’ is ready.  Preheat the oven to 190ºC/180 fan.
  • Take a large bowl and put all the ingredients (except onion) in.  Blitz the onion to aimg_1335 pulp, or, fine dice and sauté it for a few minutes until translucent, but leave to go cold.  Add this to the bowl.  Bring it all together so it is well
    incorporated.  You can use a utensil for this but I think you get a smoother consistency if you squidge it together but wash your hands well if you do!
  • Roll the pastry into a large rectangle the thickness of a £1 coin, cut in half lengthways (or into 3 strips if you want ‘cocktail’ rolls).  Form the meat into sausage shapes and place the whole way along the pastry, covering the middle third.  Lightly brush one edge with egg and roll it up from the opposite edge, using the eggy edge to seal it.  Ensure that the ‘seam’ is on the bottom of the roll. Alternatively try a lattice roll by slicing 1cm slashes diagonally down the pastry, egg both edges and wrap alternate sides over tightly.
  • Cut the roll into even pieces with a sharp knife (the length is up to you, whether you want a bite sized one for a buffet, a medium sized one for a picnic or a large one for dinner). Glaze with the beaten egg.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until golden, risen and crispy.  Leave to cool slightly before eating.

TIPS  –  You can ‘cheat’ with the filling and simply use your favourite sausages, just remove the meat from the casings.  If you are making the lamb ones I recommend that  you use a baking tray with a ‘lip’ and once you remove them from the oven you put them onto a  wire cooling rack with the tray underneath as they will ooze a fair amount of fat. Plus, I would ask your butcher/meat provider for lean lamb mince. Final note, if, like me, you need to make flakey in a rush, then instead of an hour in fridge to harden butter up, then roughly 7 minutes in freezer will do (GBBO stylee haha).

Quiche Lorraine


FOR THE SHORTCRUST PASTRY: 250g/8oz plain flour

120g/4oz fat (I prefer ½ butter ½ lard)

approx 5 tbs water

FOR THE QUICHE:  6 rashers bacon

1 medium onion (small diced)

200g/7oz grated cheddar cheese

6 eggs

150ml full fat milk (or 100ml single cream)

pinch of pepper

sprinkle of oregano


  1. Make the pastry either by hand or in food processor.  Rub the fat into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs, add the water and bring together to form a dough.  Tip onto a slightly floured surface and knead gently for a minute.  Pop into a bag and leave in the fridge to rest, and the fats to refirm (10 minutes by machine, 30 minutes hand made). Preheat the oven to 200C
  2. Roll out the pastry to fit your quiche tin, carefully line the tin (without any holes or tears) with the pastry so you have a little overhang to allow for shrinkage.  Line with baking parchment or foil, fill with baking beans and bake for approximately 15 minutes until the pastry is ‘just’ cooked.  Remove and reduce oven temp to 170C.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the bacon into little pieces and fry until it is just cooked, remove from the pan, and gently fry the onions.  Tip the bacon and onions into the pastry case along with the grated cheese (retain a couple of pinches of the cheese).  Sprinkle the oregano on.img_1341
  4. In a jug, beat together the eggs, milk and pepper.  Pour this carefully into the pastry case and place in the oven for 20 minutes.  Pull the shelf out slightly and sprinkle the 2 pinches of cheese over and bake for a further 20 or so minutes.
  5. Once cooked the tart should feel firmish to the touch with just a gently wobble, if it is not quite set in the middle reduce the heat by 15º and cook for an extra 10-15 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool, eat warm (not hot)  or cold for a picnic.

TIPS:  If you have more than one pastry in the fridge it’s a good idea to mark them so thatimg_1334 you know which is which – for example my flakey was oblong, but my quiche pastry and sweet pastry looked the same so I marked a P in the plain one!  Pastry that is sealed in a bag will be ok in a fridge for 2-3 days and also freezes well too. I like to keep a small ball of pastry over for 2 reasons, you can use it to push the pastry neatly into the flutes of the tin and if you get any cracks in the baked case then you can use tiny pieces to plug the gaps. When you make a quiche or tart, it is always a good idea to leave an ‘overhang’ on the pastry just incase it shrinks when it is in the oven.  To get a good finish on the edge after it’s cooked, roll over it lightly with a rolling pin and brush excess off with a pastry brush.  Don’t add salt to a quiche as you will have plenty in the cheese and bacon and, salt will rapidly degrade eggs, causing them to go ‘liquid’. If you do not have any ceramic baking beans, used dry pulses like chickpeas, you will need a lot and won’t be able to use them to eat afterward, or, use teaspoons and/or forks to weight down the pastry so that the base does not lift up.



Cheesey Chorizo Scones


What you will need –

225g strong bread flour

1 tbsp baking powder

50g butter (melted and cooled slightly)

1 egg (beaten)

125ml finger warm milk

175g grated strong mature cheese (this recipe used cage aged goats cheese)

100g cooked chorizo (very small dice)

What you will need to do – 

  • Preheat the oven  to 200C/gas 6
  • Place the flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the butter, egg (leave a tiny amount of egg behind for glazing) and milk and mix well with your hand to combine.  Add the cheese (retaining a couple of pinches) and chorizo and bring it all together to a slightly sticky ball of dough.
  • Tip this onto a well floured board and knead for a couple of minutes.  Now, work the dough a little, to encourage air into it.  gently spread the dough out, fold in half and draw it into a ball form.  the scootch it under with flat palms whilst turning at the same time.
  • Roll out to around 2.5 cm depth and cut out with a medium sized circular cutter (you will get between 9 and 13 depending on how deep they are and the size of your cutter).  Use a pastry brush to brush the retained eggs over the tops of the sconces.
  • Place in the oven and cook for 12 minutes.  remove and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the tops.  Place back in the oven and cook for a further 12 minutes until golden and the cheese has melted.
  • Split and enjoy with best butter.

TIP  –  When making doughs  it’s a good idea to bring it together using just one hand to begin with and that way you have a clean hand for adding in extra ingredients and incase you need to reflour your work surface. When glazing scones only  do the top as, if egg goes over the sides it will impede the rise.

I was so disappointed with myself as when I took my tray of scones out of the oven to put the cheese on, I dropped it (and it landed upside down) onto the oven door and most of them were squashed down a bit so they don’t look the best in the photos, and until then they were spot on! At least they did not land on the floor and they did taste good anyway.



White Chocolate Tart with Raspberry and Basil Coulis


For the sweet shortcrust pastry:

250g/8oz plain flour

120g/4oz butter

30g/1oz caster sugar

1 small egg

2 tbs water

For the filling:

100g raspberries

50g sieved icing sugar

few drops of basil essence (or 1tsp fresh basil)

200ml double cream

275g/9oz white chocolate

25g good quality unsalted butter

½ pod vanilla seeds

For the recipe:

  1. Make the pastry, either by hand or food processor.  Rub the fat into the flour, mix in the sugar, add the egg and the water and bring together into a dough.  Put into a bag and leave in a cold place to rest (10 minutes machine/30 mins by hand).img_1333
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  3. Roll out your pastry to the thickness of a £1 (or slightly thinner if you dare, as the thinner it is the crispier it will be!) and cut in circles (using a cutter) to fit into your tart tins. Gently press into your tins.
  4. Line with baking parchment or foil (scrunch up then smooth out first so it fits better into the small tins) then fill with baking beans. Bake blind for approx 15 mins.
  5. Make the coulis.  Pass the raspberries through a sieve, into a saucepan, to remove the seeds (takes a few minutes this).  Beat in the sugar and basil, gently heat to a simmer for approx 5 minutes, the pulp will thicken slightly.  Leave to cool.
  6. Remove pastry shells from oven, take out the beans, put back in the oven for another 5 minutes until the pastry is golden and crispy.  Remove from oven and fully cool on a   wire rack.
  7. Warm the cream and vanilla in a saucepan, remove from heat at first sign of steam/heat ripples. Break up the chocolate into small pieces, add the butter to the cream and beat well then add in the chocolate and beat in well.  It will take a couple of minutes and look gross before suddenly going glossy and smooth.img_1343
  8. Pour the chocolate ganache into the pastry shells.  Take a teaspoon of the coulis and ‘cut’ into the chocolate so that the raspberry goes underneath.  Depending on the size of your tarts (I made 6 large, shallow ones and 6 small, deep ones) do this 1 – 3 times.  Then take a skewer and drag through the coulis to create a ‘swirl’ through the chocolate.  Leave the completed tarts in a cold place to fully set.


TIPS  –  you can use any raspberries you like for making the coulis, fresh, frozen or tinned (preferably in natural juice); but if using tinned or frozen discard almost all the juice or your coulis will be more of a pouring sauce.

Okay, if I do say so myself these tarts were amazing.  Mr Timothy gave me a ‘double clasp handshake’ for them (he just had one for breakfast!); they are just set, but still gooey and the sharpness of the fruit really offsets the sweetness of the chocolate. The basil goes so well with raspberries (it’s up there with black pepper with strawberries and chilli & watermelon) it gives them a subtle aniseed like flavour.

Chocolate  Cake – fit for a Queen


Red Velvet, Red Velvet Crown Cake

CAKE 7 eggs (crack into a jug and weigh)

same amount (in weight) as the eggs of

baking butter

caster sugar

self raising flour

75g cocoa powder

2tsp baking powder

75g ground almonds

3 tbsp natural beetroot powder (or 1tbsp red food colour)

CREAM CHEESE ICING 200g pale soft  butter

700g sieved icing sugar

200g ricotta cheese

2 tbsp chocolate vermicelli

DECORATION 700g red fondant icing paste

small pack  white or pale yellow fondant

gold food colour

gold glitter

edible glue

large pack of jelly sweets

pearl dragees

non edible diamanté string


  • Preheat the oven 175C. Make the cake either by creaming method or all in one method.  But it’s better to make in a free standing mixer as it is a lot of batter.  If using all in method add the ground almonds on their own at the end.
  • Split the cake mix evenly between 3 baking tins – 2 x (ensure that the smaller cake will be the same height as the other 2) bake for 25-35 minutes until cooked through. Insert a skewer into the middle and it should come out clean.  If not, turn oven down 20º and leave cake in for a further 15 minutes.
  • Leave the cakes to cool in tins for 10 minutes, and they will begin to come away from the tin.  Go around the tin with a thin palette knife to ensure it is fully clear before removing. Leave to go fully cold on cooling racks.
  • Make the buttercream.  Put the butter in a free standing mixer, and soften it up.  Add ⅓ of the icing sugar, stir it in,  repeat with the next 3rd then with the remainder.  Give it a good mix with the mixer.  Add the cream cheese and give it a good mix.  The more you can whip it, the whiter and lighter it will become. Cover and leave somewhere cool.
  • Make sure the cakes are level/flat tops. Sandwich together the cakes with plenty of the buttercream cheese then sandwich the little one in the middle of the other 2 with plenty of the cream cheese.  Use 3 straws, dowels or stales to hold the cake together.  Then with a sharp serrated knife round off the edges of the top cake to from the rounded top of the crown. And cut a small indent into the centre of the cake (for the ball to sit in).
  • Completely cover the cake with a thin coat of the butter cream taking care to makeimg_1356 sure it is smooth all over. This is known as the crumb coat and ensures an even finish on the completed crown.  Make sure that you leave enough buttercream for the ‘ermine’ collar, and for this you simply add chocolate vermicelli to the cream cheese, cover and put in the fridge
  • Put the cake in the fridge for 20-30 minutes (or freezer for 10) to firm up the buttercream layer.  Squeeze the red fondant to soften it then roll it out to the required size for your cake (mine was 34cm from bottom layer up and over – I forgot to take photos as I was rushing a little to get it done in an hour so here’s one I drew later haha). If your dowel rods are too long cut them down before covering with the fondant.img_1367
  • Place the fondant over a rolling pin and place over the cake so that it just comes down over the butter cream on the bottom cake layer (where the x‘s are).  Iron out the cake using a cake smoother. Trim off any excess.
  • Roll out the yellow fondant (or white coloured with gold).  Cut into 2cm wide strips and using edible glue stick them from the lip of the indent to the bottom of the red paste.  Then put a strip all the way around the bottom cake (about where the buttercream is).  Lightly cover the gold strips with edible glue and very carefully paint edible gold glitter all over it.  Glue on your jelly sweets to resemble jewels.  Roll up a ball of the yellow fondant and cover in the gold glitter and pop this into the indent on the top.  Make the ‘square’ embellishment for the top (I used gold tape as the fondant would have been too soft to stand up on its own).
  • The final finishes I did were white pearl dragees up 2 of the strips and some diamanté strips up the other 2 again using the edible glue.  Ensure if you are using non-edible embellishments on your cake that the recipients are aware of this.
  • And lastly take the vermicelli buttercream, in a piping bag, cut of the end fairly wide, and simply pipe all the way around the bottom to represent the ermine (you don’t even have to be neat is it’s a representation of fur). Then just to add a teeny bit of extra detail I took the end of my paint brush and did a few ‘natural’ creases into the red velvet and just dusted into them with petal dust to give it a more velvety effect.

TIPS  –  when working with fondant I recommend dusting with a 50:50 mix of cornflour and icing sugar your work surface for large sheets and a tiny spray of vegetable oil for smaller pieces to prevent sticking.  Use acrylic rolling pins and cutters too (a pizza cutter will also give you a good sharp edge on the fondant).  

Not really got many tips to add to the bottom of this, as I have mainly incorporated these throughout the recipe.  I hope it gives you enough detail, without teaching any of you more experienced bakers to ‘suck eggs’. I would like to mention that I saw a picture of a similar cake by Fiona Cairns, which gave me the basis for this one. I was really chuffed that I managed to get all that decorating done in 1½ hours, even with the horrible damp British weather against me (hence the lovely sheen on the red velvet.  When I told Mr Timothy he had a big cake to eat, he nearly cried, he has been forced to eat so much cake this last 10 weeks that I have had to promise no more for a few weeks!  Handily my drama chums were really pleased when I turned up at set painting with a massive cake, especially so as it came from “Queenie” – I will be playing the Queen in this years’ panto Rapunzel.

So there you have it the end of Great Bloggers Bake Off for 2016, and ‘sob‘ the end of the Great British Bake Off as we know it from the BBC and with the Queen of baking herself, Mary Berry.  I have heard a horrible rumour that there will be no show at all next year so it is going to be 2018 before we have another official one – lets hope that it all goes to plan then! Thank you so much for following us (if you did!) and if you would like to see the other ladies’ cakes and bakes then click on this link which will take you to our host Jenny Paulins’ site Mummy Mishaps .


I would like to express my thanks to Jenny Paulin for all her work organising us all, putting up with all our mithering and questions and for working with Tesco to get us some great prizes and vouchers for our ingredients for the blogs (and of course a big whoop for Tesco!).  And finally thank you to all the other peeps that have joined in with the Great Bloggers Bake Off over the 10 weeks, I will miss you xx









Great Bloggers Bake Off 2016



So. this week I could not decide which of the three bakes to do, so I did all 3! One, the palmier biscuits, is one I bake every year at Christmas time, we tend to have them for elevenses with a nice glass of fizz as we don’t have ‘dinner’ until around 3ish, but I had never made a sweet one before, so rebel that I am (I think I just hate being told what to do) I made a savoury one and a sweet one too, but true to my like of ‘unusual’ flavours I put my own twist on the sweet ones and made them blackcurrant and liquorice! Bake number 2, the technical, a cake I had never made, was a Savarin, a yeast raised cake with fruit,  cream and alcohol – what’s not to love there.  Then phew the tiny cakes that are a huge effort the fondant fancy – again I had never made these before and now I have made them, I doubt I will ever make them again, such a lot of effort for mediocre results!

Bake number one  –  2 flavours of palmier biscuit 



for the pastry: 150g chilled strong white bread flour
150g chilled plain flour
2 large eggs
100ml cold water
250g chilled butter
for the 1st filling: 200g hard full flavoured cheese (grated)
6-8 rashers of good quality smoked beef or ham (parma style)
1 egg (beaten) or a splash of milk
for the second filling:  1 tspn liquorice powder
small dot of purple food
½ tspn blackcurrant flavour
1 tbspn brown sugar (I used natural coconut sugar)
1 tbspn granulated sugar
1 tbspn demerara sugar


1. Put the flours, salt, eggs and water into a large bowl and gently bring together to form a  dough, with your fingers. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for around 5 minutes until smooth and a little dry. Shape  into a ball and put it into a plastic bag (lightly floured or greased with an oil spray) place the fridge to chill for at least an hour.

2. Flatten the block of butter into a rectangle, approx.  30 x 19cm, by battering it down with a rolling pin (you might find this easier to do  if you put the butter between 2 sheets of cling film). Return to the fridge for an hour to harden.

3. Roll out your dough to a rectangle, (about 45 x 20cm), put the butter on the dough so it covers the bottom two-thirds. Make sure that it is positioned neatly and covers almost to the edges.  img_1302

4. Lift the exposed dough at the top and fold it down so it covers half of the butter, then fold the butter laden bottom half of the dough up over the top (single fold).  Gently flatten the edges together to seal. Put it back in a plastic bag and chill for 1 hour.

5. Put the dough on a floured board with a short end towards you. Roll out to a rectangle as before, keeping the edges as even as possible. Fold the top quarter down and the bottom quarter up so they meet neatly in the centre. Then fold the dough in half along the centre line (a book fold). Chill in the bag for a further 1 hour.

6. Repeat the single turn twice more, chilling for an hour in-between again. Then leave the pastry in the fridge overnight. Your flakey pastry is now ready to use.  please note that if you are adding an extra ingredient (for example the liquorice powder)  as I did then you will need to add it in one of these final 2 single folds. Simply sprinkle the powder to lightly cover the pastry after rolling out but before folding over.

7. Roll out the plain pastry to a neat rectangle around the thickness of a £1/€1 coin.  Fold the pastry over and flatten back out again, to give a well marked centre line. Sprinkle the cheese liberally over the dough right up to the edges.  Then cover with your meat, trying not to leave any big gaps. Then, simply roll up the two long ends into the middle, gently pulling back slightly on each turn to keep it nice and tight.  Put in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.

8. Roll out the liquorice dough to the same thickness.  In a small pot mix the colour, the flavouring and a teaspoon of water and using a small brush, cover the pastry lightly all over with the paste.  Sprinkle on the brown sugar and the granulated sugar and simply roll the long end up nice and tightly to form a pin wheel. Chill for 20 minutes.img_1310

9.  Preheat the oven to 190/180°C fan.  Remove the pastry logs from the fridge, glaze lightly with beaten egg or milk and cut into approx 1cm thick slices, place on a lined baking sheet and bake for approx 15-20 minutes until golden and fluffy.

TIP –  use a straight edged, very sharp knife to cut the slices with and avoid pressing down on the pastry itself.  If making 2 different flavours I recommend using 2 sets of utensils (rolling pin, knife etc) to avoid contamination of one with the other.  Liquorice powder can  be obtained from most health food shops or baking suppliers.

I was quite disappointed with my blackcurrant and liquorice whirls as they looked amazing before going in the oven but unravelled a lot whilst baking, but my they tasted amazing and I will most certainly be making them again.  I made some nice thin ones too, which I have popped in the freezer in readiness for in about 3 weeks I am making a firework cake and these will look great as ‘catherine’ wheels.  The cheese I used for my elephants’ ears is a rather special one, it contains our own co-operatives organic milk and is not available to buy in the UK, but made entirely for the USA market, so we were pleased to be sent some as a thank you from our milk board.   I used  mature cheddar with caramelised onions.img_1306

And I’m just going to leave this her, whoop, whoop I got awarded star baker ⭐️ this week for my parmiers.


Bake number 2  –  the technical challenge



I used Paul Hollywoods’ recipe for the actual cake and obviously put my own twist on it with the inclusion of apple and blackberry (well, why would you pay for imported fruit when you have loads of lovely, free and organic autumnal fruit right outside the back door?!?!?).  Still, did give me an excuse for a shopping trip though, as I did not own a large enough savarin/bundt tin; I do now!

for the savarin: 350g/12oz plain flour
50g/1¾oz caster sugar
10g/¼oz instant yeast
3 tbsp milk
6 eggs
180g/6oz butter, at room temperature
1 large orange and/or lemon, finely grated zest only
for the syrup: 200g/7oz caster sugar
1 large lemon, juice only
100ml/3½fl oz flavoured liqueur or rum
for the chocolate disc: 50g/1¾ oz good quality plain chocolate
30g/¾oz white chocolate
for the decoration: 4 medium sized cooking apples
large handful of blackberries
1 pot (300 ml/ 10fl oz) double or whipping cream

1.  In a food processor, set with a standard beater, combine the flour, sugar and yeast. Place the milk and eggs together in a large jug, lightly beat and then pour into the flour mixture and beat  on medium for about 3 minutes to make a thick, sticky batter.img_1303
2.  Chop the soft butter into small pieces and gradually add to the batter, on  low speed, beating until the mixture is smooth, elastic and shiny. Finally fold in the orange and/or lemon zest. Cover the bowl with cling film (or a clean shower cap) and leave to rise for around 1 hour.
3.   In the meantime, make the syrup. Place the sugar, lemon juice, and 1o0ml water into a pan and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, stir in the rum or liqueur and leave to cool.
4. Now make the chocolate disc, temper the plain chocolate by melting approx three-quarters of the chocolate over a pan of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Stir until the chocolate reaches a melting temperature of 50C. Remove the bowl from the heat, add the remaining chocolate and stir until it’s cooled to 31C.
5.  Spoon into a piping bag 5cm/2in (ish) oval disc onto a sheet of baking paper and leave to set. Melt the white chocolate and put into another piping bag and pipe the word ‘Savarin’ onto the plain chocolate disc.
6.  Grease a 23cm/9in bundt tin or savarin mould with butter. When the batter has risen, spoon it into the tin and try to smooth down evenly. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until it reaches three-quarters of the way up the tin.img_1311
7.  Make the compote.  Peel, core and chop the apples into small pieces put into a saucepan with the sugar and boil down to a pulp.  Turn off the heat and stir though the blackberries, retaining some nice plump ones for decoration.  Leave to cool.                                                      8.  Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. remove the cling film and bake for 20–30 minutes  until the savarin is risen and golden-brown. Remove from oven and place the tin on a wire rack to cool for 5–10 minutes.
9.  When just cooled enough to handle, carefully remove the savarin from the tin and pour half of the syrup into the tin. Gently place the savarin back into the tin on top of the syrup; pour ½ of the remaining syrup slowly onto the top of the savarin and leave to fully cool.  Put the remaining syrup onto a bowl or plate with sides and tip the cake out onto this so that this final syrup soaks into the bottom of the savarin for around 10 mins.  Carefully transfer to a serving plate.
10.  Whip the cream, until  peaks form when the whisk is removed (you can add a little icing sugar and/or vanilla if you wish). Spoon one-third of the cream into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Set both creams aside in the fridge until ready to serve.
11.  Fill the cavity of the savarin with ½ of the cream in the bowl, then ½ of the compote, then repeat with the remaining cream and fruit puree.  Decorate around the upper edges with cream stars, and do a small row of cream stars at the base of the cake (for the chocolate oval).  Decorate with some nice apple slices and the blackberries.  You could also use up any remaining chocolate over the top (just gently remelt in the microwave if you have microwaveable bags).

This cake was amazing, definitely  will be making it again, tasty, light and at the same time rich and gooey with the cream and fruit dressing.  

Bake number 3  –  Fondant Fancies



I love fondant fancies, but had never made them before, as I knew that they were a fiddly faff, and not easy to get looking good.  Yup, too much like hard work for me, for a tasty bake, but, in my opinion not worth all the time and effort.  I followed Mary Berry’s own recipe virtually to the letter (that’s good going for me) .


For the sponge 200g/7oz self-raising flour
30g/1oz ground almond
225g/8oz softened butter
225g/8oz caster sugar
4 free-range eggs
small tube of freeze-dried raspberry pieces
for the buttercream250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened
200g/7oz icing sugar
flavouring (raspberry and pear) and colouring (green and blue)
icing and decoration 500g/1lb 10z white fondant icing (or coloured icing if you have it)
150ml/5fl oz water
food colouring (any colour)
flavouring (any flavouring)
small sprinkles and/or almonds and/or glitter

1.  Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3. Grease and fully line a 20cm/8in square tin with two strips of parchment paper. (one for the plain sponge the other for the raspberry one)
2.  In a food processor, beat together all the sponge ingredients until smooth. Tip half the cake mixture into one side of the tin; stir the raspberry pieces into the remaining mix and pour that into the other side and tap the tin lightly to level out.
3.  Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a metal skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool the cake  in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.  Leave the cake overnight (in a tin) to cool fully and firm slightly (or alternatively place in the freezer for a few minutes until chilled but not frozen). This will ensure that the sponge is as firm as it can be ready for the decoration.
4.  Make the buttercream. Beat together the softened butter and icing sugar in a bowl until lighter in colour, fluffy and smooth.  Separate into 2 bowls and add food colouring and flavours.
5.  Cut the cake into 16 equal squares (each 5cm/2 in square). You may need to cut off the edges if they have rounded and pulled away from the sides of the tin – all the edges should be straight and neat. Cover the top and four sides of each square with it’s matching buttercream.  Best to use a small, angled  palette knife to get the finish as smooth as possible.  Put in the fridge for around 30 mins for the buttercream to firm up.
6.  Cut the fondant icing into small cubes. Place in a sturdy free-standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Churn the icing until it starts to break down, adding a splash of water if it’s too hard. Very gradually add the water – the icing will become smooth and more liquid .  Add flavouring and food colouring to taste.

7.  Take the cakes out of the fridge and place one onto a fork. Dip each square into the icing one at a time and carefully set onto a cooling rack, with parchment or a tray underneath to catch the drips. Try not to get finger prints on them – for this reason it is best to insert the fork at an angle so that you can slide the cake off onto the cooling rack easily (again your palette knife should come in handy here).
8.  Leave the fondant to set, at room temperature for a couple of hours.  Decorate to make them look pretty and then eat!

TIPS  –  When spreading on the butter cream and also for the fondant too its a good idea to have a small jug of hot water handy, and a clean dry towel, dip the palette knife in the water, dry off and the residual heat will ‘melt’ the icing making it as neat as possible.  My other top tip is go out and BUY them! Oh, yeah, remember when using strong colours wear food prep gloves!img_1327

So that is the end of this weeks homage to GBBO, a long one I know, me thinks we might be putting a little weight on this week, thank goodness there’s just the last one to go (not really, am dreading having to wait nearly a year for the next one, and await the new format with trepidation!)

If you would like to follow the bakes for this week and the final next week then check out our hostess Jenny’s site Mummy’s Mishaps where you will see all the other bakes related to the Great British Bake Off 2016.   image


The Great Bloggers Bake Off 2016


Week Eight  –  TUDOR 

So this week I was feeling only a little better than last week (flu that last over a week and straight into tonsil or laryngitis not been able to talk for 3 days – house is sooooo quiet without me!), but must have been in the mood for baking as I did 2 of the three rounds, and even baked a cake for the 3rd ‘showstopper’ section (cake decorated with marzipan for a centrepiece) but that was as far as I got haha, Mr Timothy is happy about that though as he loves my ugly apple cake and hates marzipan (so look out for the cake later in the year). However, with my usual “do it my way” way, I opted for a savoury version of the Tudor knot, so I think I can totally claim this recipe as my own, as it was only when I did a ‘search’ that I discovered that the Tudor knot biscuit was a ‘sweet’ spiced biscuit (this was on Wednesday, before the programme had even aired!); but undaunted I went ahead anyway as I had planned on making them to go with a pasta dish.



Stuff you need:
½ (ish) kilo beef (mine was braising steak, but use any)
2 large onions
fat for frying (dripping is good)
3-5 cm black pudding
2 stock cubes
Tablespoon or 2 of flour
⅓ bottle red wine
3 bay leaves
goodly pinch of mace and lashings of pepper
3-4 small potatoes (thin ones are best)
1 large carrot 
¼ purple cabbage
350g plain flour (I used 300 plain and 50 strong bread)
120g lard
120g/ml boiling water
goodly pinch of salt 
plus the same of nutmeg and fennel seeds
beaten egg for glazing

Stuff you need to do:
  1. Prepare the ‘stew’ well in advance – I like to have it cook for at least 2 hours.  slice the meat up into small pieces; chop the onions up (vary the sizes  chunks, slices and small dice); finely chop the black pudding.  img_1271
  2. In a pan (I use a deep one that can go on the stove top and in the oven) fry off the onions until soft then add one of the stock cubes and fry until browning. Take off the heat and stir in the flour until it is all coated, add the stock cube, meats, pepper and mace and stir well.  Add the bay leaves and wine and enough water so that the meat is fully immersed.  Place in the oven and cook for 2 – 3 hours until the meat is tender (you could do this in a slow cooker if you prefer).  Once fully cooked leave to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C.  Prep your vegetables.  Using a mandolin slice the carrot wafer thin, then the cabbage, rinse the slicer and do the potatoes.  Blanch each veg for 2-3 minutes until just soft then drain.  Boil the kettle and make your pastry once the oven is ready as it’s better worked hot.
  4. Put the flours and herbs and salt into a large bowl.  Weigh the lard and water into a small pan and bring back to the boil, tip this into the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon, working as quickly as you can. Bring it to a dough ball and tip out onto a lightly floured surface.
  5. Work the warm dough together for a minute or 2 to get a gloopy feeling, shiny smooth ball of dough. Take 4/5 of the dough (cover the remaining 1/5) and split this into 4.  Using your hands and a rolling pin, smooth the dough out so that it fits into 4 deep individual pie tins, making sure there is an overhang. Get it as thin as you can without any holes, if it is too thick it will not cook inside.
  6. Fill the cases ½ full of ‘stew’ then equal layers of potato, carrot and cabbage.  Divide the remaining pastry into 4, squash into discs that just cover the surface of the pie and fold over the overhangs.  Crimp around the edge, glaze with egg and use a sharp knife to cut a hole right down into the pie (or you could try GBBO Selasi’s method and use a biro – not!) making sure you reach the meat layer but not the bottom)
  7. Bake the pie for approx ½ an hour until it is looking golden and holding its own shape.  Remove from the oven (turn heat down to 175ºC) and very carefully remove from the pie tins, put it back into the oven for roughly 20 minutes until pastry is golden all over and fully cooked inside.  Enjoy!

So it’s as easy as that! You can basically make what ever filling you desire in your own pie, and this amount of dough will make 4 medium sized deep pies, 1 large family pie or around  9 or 10 small picnic sized ones.  Only, I do recommend that you make sure before making this that you have the ‘right’ wine for the task, daft eejit that I am, I did not have any middle range wine of the red variety so was forced to open a bottle of the good stuff (ah the perils of living in the middle of nowhere when one runs out of ingredients!!)


Bake 2 of 2  –  SAVOURY TUDOR KNOT BISCUITS (aka Jumbles)



2 cups of self raising flour (I used 1 ⅔  white and ⅓  cup of spelt)
2 eggs (beaten)
good pinch of mixed spice or caraway seeds
splash of cold water

  • Put on a large pan of water to boil. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  • Mix all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl to form a dough, start with just a couple of tablespoons of water, add more if the dough is a little dry.
  • Tip onto a floured surface and work for a minute to a firm dough.  taking small pieces of dough roll into ‘knot’ shapes.  img_1262
  • Drop the knots, 3 or 4 at a time, carefully into the boiling water for a few seconds, until they float.  Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and put onto a bread/pizza baking sheet.  Once all cooked off  in the water bath put into the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden and baked.

These little ‘bread’ buns were a little on the bland side, however, they did make a good medium for pasta sauce, as they are crunchy on the outside yet soft-ish in the middle, a little like a fat bread stick, and made a change from the usual garlic bread.  Should I make them again (which I might as they are very quick and simple) I think I might add garlic and even some small, chopped, fried onion.

So that’s it for this weeks’ bakes, I obviously was not up to making the marzipan decorations for the cake, but not to worry, I will do another time!  However, if you want to either join in for the last couple of weeks, or see some of the other Great British Bake Off inspired bakes then take a look at our host Jenny Paulins’ site Mummy Mishaps for the bakes and the rules.  Thanks for stopping by!












Great British Blog Off 2016


Week 7 in the bake-off tent  –  DESSERTS

So this week I was a little bit busy (and incidentally a little bit poorly with a stinker of a cold) so only managed one of the bakes, with that in mind, and having a ‘bake’ to make for my colleagues at the animal rehoming charity I decided to  combine the two and make a doggie themed roulade (sorry it’s that jazz hands food thing again!) and not only that I had been requested to consider 2 members of our group that have an issue with gluten so it had to be gluten free (an easy task for a roulade) plus, I had my passion fruit curd left over from last weeks bake. I was not really too happy with the overall appearance of the roulade, it was too soft inside and so had to leave it in the oven a bit longer than I wanted, this made the top go a bit too crispy and it was still too soft inside; oh well, it looked okay, but my it tasted good enough to eat!




For the decoration: one whole egg

gluten free flour (same weight as the egg)

caster sugar (same weight as the egg)

food colouring ~(brown, black and orange)

For the roulade: 4 egg whites

8oz/225g caster sugar

1 tbspn cornflour/gluten free flour

½ pint/ 300ml double or whipping cream

1 small jar of passionfruit curd (see botanical week for how to make)


  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC/17o fan and butter a swiss roll tin (12×9″/30x20cm) then line it with baking parchment so it fits neatly into the corners.
  • (you can skip this stage if you don’t want the decoration) Make the ‘dog’ paste by simply beating together the egg, flour and sugar (you will have way too much but you need a whole egg); divide the mix into 3 and colour one black and another a tan brown.  put each into an icing bag.  I found it easier to draw my pups onto a plain piece of paper which I popped under the parchment as a guide (must be removed before baking the roulade).
  • Bake in the oven for a minute, just to set, then leave the tin to cool.  Make your meringue in a grease free mixer bowl, whipping the egg whites until just holding their own shape, add your sugar a tablespoon at a time whilst continuing to mix – will take a couple or 3 minutes.  Until you have a smooth, glossy goo, which stands firm. Add the tablespoon of flour at the last moment, giving it one final mix.
  • Pour gently over the dogs and paw prints and smooth carefully into the corners.  Put in the oven and bake for 25 – 35 minutes until just golden and firm to the touch. Get ready 2 baking sheets and a clean piece of parchment paper.
  • Remove cake from the oven and tip out onto a baking sheet, gently peel the old parchment off and place the new paper on top.  Gently lay the 2nd baking tray on top and turn them all over (so the dogs are now on the bottom again). Roll the roulade up, from the narrower end, pinch together the ends of the paper (it will now resemble a little, fat sausage) and leave to cool for an hour or so (this is supposed to give the cake a ‘rolled memory’ and prevent cracking).
  • Whip your cream.  Unroll the cake, spread evenly with the curd, then carefully cover this with the cream and spread  out to the edges.  Reroll the roulade; cut off the 2 messy ends to reveal some nice layers of curls!

    Passionfruit Curd Roulade (with dog theme!)

Not my most successful bake to date, but it was fun, well received by my dog loving friends and there was none left so even though it was way too soft and cracked, it went down a treat!  My only ‘tip’ here is that I had forgotten to buy white caster sugar so had to use golden instead and think this was the reason for the softness of the texture – that’s my excuse anyway!

Thanks for reading, and if you would like to see some more of this weeks’ bloggers’ bakes then pop on over to where you will find them all.





Great Bloggers Bake Off 2016 – Week 6



So simply, if it grows then you can add it to the bake! This week I have one from each category; a citrus meringue, a herb fougasse and a multi-tiered flora inspired cake (so this one is a little cheat as I actually made it for my Moms’ birthday at the beginning of August and it’s only 2 tiers rather than 3, but it goes with the theme.)  This week I must add that my ingredients have been sponsored by Tesco – so a big thank you to them. You will notice from the pictures that there is quite a bit of organic produce; for me, this is a lifestyle choice, I am a big believer that you get out of a thing (plant, animal etc) what you put into it (you only have to eat an egg after you fed a hen some garlic bread, you taste the garlic!!!) so, if you feed them chemicals or unnecessary medicine then it could remain in the food too, so when I can, I buy organic and I have to say for me, Tesco do seem to have more organic products than any other supermarket.


BAKE ONE (OF 3) –   Orange and Passion Fruit Meringue Tart

Orange and passion fruit meringue tart 


THE PASTRY: 8 oz plain flour (Tesco organic)

2 oz maize flour (also known as yellow cornmeal and yes, sold in Tesco!)

4 oz salted butter plus 1 oz lard (both are Tesco own brand)

1 oz golden caster sugar (Tesco’s own)

1 medium egg

splash of cold water

THE CURD: 4 0z proper butter (organic from Tesco)

½ cup golden caster sugar

2 oranges (juice and zest)

⅓ cup of passion fruit coulis – minus the seeds (Tesco finest)

3 large eggs plus 2 yolks (lightly beaten)

THE MERINGUE:  3 egg whites

½ cup white caster sugar



  1. Make pastry! Use fats direct from the fridge, cut into small cubes and rub it into the flour and maize until you have a mix that resembles breadcrumbs (or pop it in a food processor with a blade fitting and blitz for a few seconds!) Add the sugar and give it a good mix. Next add the egg and a couple of tablespoons of water and bring it all together to form a firm dough.
  2. Roll pastry into a ball and leave this in the bowl, covered, and pop it into the fridge or pantry for about an hour (made by hand) or 30 mins (machine made). Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  3. Roll out the pastry so that it is large enough to line 8″/22cm deep tart tin. Line the tin; you will need the pastry to be at least 12 inches across. Slide the bottom of the tin underneath it, folding the edges of the pastry up and over to exposed the edges of the base, pop this into the tart tin and then unfold the pastry up the sides. Simple! Trim off the excess pastry making sure to leave a small overhang of pastry round the edges to allow for shrinkage. img_1234 I like to  make the excess dough into a mushroom shape to press the pastry into the flutes of the tin for a better finish (as I am a bit OCD at making my pastry the thinnest i can make it!) Lightly prick the base to prohibit lifting.
  4. Cover with parchment or foil, fill with baking beans and put into the hot oven for approximately 20 minutes.  Carefully remove the baking beans and pop back in the oven for 5 minutes just to brown the bottom a little and ensure no soggy bottom!
  5. Whilst the pastry is baking make the curd.  Put a suitable bowl (metal or safety glass) over a pan containing boiling water on a low/medium heat (making sure it does not touch the water) and firstly put in the butter to melt, whilst zesting and juicing the orange.  Now add the sugar, orange and coulis, giving it a quick beat to amalgamate all the ingredients. Using a whisk dribble the eggs slowly into the syrup until you have a smooth mixture.  Now stand and keep the mixture constantly moving (heatproof spatula is good for this) until it thickens.  Be patient! It can take up to 15 minutes. Once it is thickened it should be able to the following:

    Stay when smeared on bowl side. Coat back of spatula. Just about hold your initial!

  6. Leave both the tart and the curd to cool completely.  Put the curd into the pastry case so that the bottom has a good coverage (I used just over half) and gently smooth over.
  7. Make your meringue, it’s really your choice whether to do Italian (hot sugar into whisked whites) Swiss (whisking sugar and egg whites in a bain marie) or French (whisking your whites cold and adding the sugar a spoonful at a time) I did Swiss for a change.  Preheat the oven to 130ºC.                             img_1235
  8. Pipe the meringue onto the tart and bake for 45 – 60 minutes until the top is crispy.  Turn off the oven and leave the tart to cool inside, as this will help with the crisping.
  9. That’s it, enjoy as your dessert  after dinner, or with a good cuppa!

THE TIPS  –  For a little fancy flourish why not try adding a little orange colour and/or some orange flavour to the piping bag, simply use a long thin artist style paint brush and paint stripes down the inside of the bag, after you have added the nozzle, before you add the meringue.  I then covered mine in edible gold glitter too, ’cause I do like to add ‘jazz hands’ to my food! Don’t discard the left over pastry either, use it to make a couple of jam tarts or mince pies.

BAKE 2 (OF 3)  –  Herby Fougasse bread


This is a traditional French ‘leaf’ shaped bread and my second bake that Tesco have sponsored the ingredients on. It is quite a simple bread but tasty and an ideal companion to stews, casseroles, soup or even a ploughmans’. I have gone with the Great British Bake Off flavours as I am a bit partial to a nice bit of herby bread, but you can use any flavours you like, plain, cheese, chorizzo…….. The following recipe will make either 2 large or 4 small ‘leaf’ shaped breads. I tried to find the translation of the word fougasse, failed! 



500g/1lb 2oz strong bread flour (Organic from Tesco)

1 tspn dried yeast

1 tspn salt (I used Tesco Finest pink Himalayan sea salt)

350ml/12 oz water 

1 tspn dried yeast

Good glug of olive oil

2 tbspn chopped finely chopped herbs (Tesco sage and rosemary)

Sprinkle of dried herbs (Tesco own dried oregano)


  • Preheat oven to lowest level then turn off.
  • Put the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the yeast to one side and the salt to the other, then place the water in the centre. Mix for a couple of minutes until the dough starts to form.
  • Using a dough scraper transfer the dough onto your work surface, which has been liberally coated with the olive oil. Continue to work the dough by continually stretching  and folding it over, into and onto itself. It should take roughly 10 minutes to transform from a sticky gloop which wants to adhere to the surface to a stretchy dough that although is still tacky, is elastic and smooth and will yield.
  • Finely chop the fresh herbs (a small food processor is good for this), stretch out the dough to a rough circle and sprinkle the herbs over, then work the bread for another minute or so to evenly disperse the herbs. Form it into a ball.
  • Lightly oil the bowl and place the ball into it, cover and place in the warmed oven for approximately one hour until doubled in size.  If you have longer, then you could simply leave the bowl at room temperature and let the dough take longer to prove as this is said to enhance the flavour.
  • Turn out gently onto a floured (or fine semolina) or oiled surface. Divide the dough into 2 or 4 with a sharp knife and work each one the same. Be careful not to deflate it too much whilst working with it, be firm though as it is quite unyielding.
  • Roll into a ball and then pull the dough into an oval shape, then pick up one end and let gravity pull it down a little and you should have a teardrop leaf-ish shape.  Place onto a lined or oiled baking sheet and using a sharp implement (pizza cutter is good) cut 2 consecutive slits down the centre then 5-6 (3-4 on the small ones)  diagonal slits going out to the sides.
  • Put the baking sheets into large plastic bags and leave for approximately 30 minutes to plump a little.  Meanwhile preheat the oven to maximum. When oven is good and hot, spritz some water onto the sides (avoiding the elements) to create a little steam (not to much though as you want this bread to be a little crisp) then turn the oven down to around 200ºC.

  • Remove from the bags and spray olive oil onto the dough (or lightly drizzle) and sprinkle with the dry herbs and rock salt.  Then place the breads in the oven for 20 minutes.  Once golden turn off the oven, leaving the bread in there to cool, just on the shelf, with the door slightly ajar, to crisp up on the outside.
  • Enjoy with your favourite meal or some cheese. It should be crunchy on the outside and spongey in the middle.


Here’s my serving suggestion – homemade spicy tomato soup with churizzo croutons.

TIPS  –  I made my bread by hand, not the easiest method I have to say as it is a sticky dough and did take quite a lot of working with, it can be made in a mixer with a dough hook attachment. If making dough or pastry by hand, i recommend using just one hand leaving the other one clean and grease free for adding extras, or getting out the flour dredger, or spraying a little more oil onto the bread board. Invest in an oil spray bottle, you can get refillable ones, you can use them for cooking with, oiling bowls and implements, greasing trays and tins, oiling food etc. 

I had always wanted to try ‘pink’ salt as I had heard that is was supposed to be the ‘best’ salt (we give it to the cattle in the winter in its pure form as salt lick to replace the minerals they miss from eating fresh green grass).  But to be honest, I think my lovely sea salt crystals are just as good, but the Himalayan salt does look nice.

AND FINALLY BAKE 3 –  Tiered Floral Cake  –  The Showstopper


So this cake is quite simple to make, but stunning to look at; It was also my first attempt at doing a topsy turvey style (although not very clear from the picture I am afraid) this was achieved by taking 2 pieces of wood around 6 inches long, 2 wide and 1 high, which I covered in foil to avoid it getting too hot in the oven and for hygiene too.  Now, some of the flowers on this cake are not edible, if you do the same, ensure that anyone going to eat a cake with non edible items on is fully aware of this (or make sure you only use edible ones); these were then removed before the cake was cut; I covered the stalk ends of the stems with a tiny piece of cling film to avoid any sap contaminating the sponge.  I also made some sugar paste flowers too, just because!


So this is a simple cake recipe, all the ingredients should weigh the same so, pre weigh a jug, and break your eggs into it, whatever they weigh that is how much sugar, butter and flour you need. One medium egg weighs around 2oz/55 g

SMALL CAKE: 3 eggs then the same weight of:

golden caster sugar


self raising flour

1 tspn baking powder

2 tbsp milk

1 tbspn dried lavender (or dried crushed rose petals)

LARGE CAKE: 4 eggs then the same weight of:

golden caster sugar


self raising flour

1 tspn baking powder

3 tbsp milk

1 tbspn dried lavender (or dried crushed rose petals)


Some fresh fruit (I used blueberry, strawberry and black cherry)

A small posy of mixed flowers (heads only)

Optional: some hand made sugar paste roses

CREAM: 1 large pot of double or whipping cream  should fill both cakes, add a couple of teaspoons of rose water after whisking .  Or simply add a couple of drops of rose essence (food grade).  You could also add some pink colour if you like. I also added some crushed dried rose petals to the larger cakes’ cream


  1. Preheat the oven 180ºC or fan oven 170ºC and well grease and line the bottom of two 7″/21cm tins and two 9″/26 cm tins.
  2. Weigh the eggs (for one of the cakes), without shells (I usually pop a jug on the scales, reset it to 0 then crack the eggs into that, without breaking the yolks) That way you will get a fluffy, even bake.  Cream the butter and sugar together – you can do this the old fashioned way if you like, but dodgy hands that don’t work proper’ being what they are I prefer my trusty old Kenwood! Once light and fluffy, add a spoonful of your flour and beat in the eggs, one(ish) at a time. Then add the flour, baking powder, milk and whatever flavour you are using.
  3. Put an even amount into the relevant tins, smooth down the surface and bake for approx. 25 to 35  mins until cooked fully. Remove from the oven and leave for 5 mins in the tin to cool, very carefully remove from the tin (running a pallet knife around the edge gently) to avoid crumbing up the sides; take out of the tins and allow cool fully on a rack.
  4. Repeat with the second cake once the first is out of the oven.
  5. Once fully cold, whip up your cream then add the rose essence.
  6. Decide which of each pair is the bottom and which is the top layer.  Pipe or spread the cream onto the bottom one (retaining a small amount of cream) and sandwich the 2 halves together.  Put the small amount of cream remaining onto the larger cake and place the smaller cake neatly on top.  Decorate your little heart out!  I find that it looks a tad more aesthetically pleasing to the eye to use a ‘spiral’ around the 2 tiers. Using the fruit and flowers to ‘hide’ any untidy areas on the cakes. Just remember if you are not sure of whom will eat your cake, then use only known edible flowers.
  7. Sprinkle lightly with icing sugar and/or glitter (it is a showstopper after all). Oh yes, stick an indoor roman candle in for good measure!

And now I would like to thank our hostess Jenny Paulin ( who hosts and organises the Great Bloggers Bake Off on her page, but also to apologise for giving her so much to read each week (I just can’t help it, I love to cook and bake!) Plus a huge thanks to Tesco for helping provide this weeks’ ingredients.

If you want to see the other candidates in this weeks’ bakes then have a look on Jenny’s site.


Tah Dah!


I am very pleased to say that I was awarded star baker this week for my Danish pastries! And yes, I enjoyed them so much, they will be made again, but I have decided that before I do I will have a go at a similar bake, croissants, something I have been procrastinating over for many a year, so watch this blog, for that recipe, after bake off has finished though 🤗