Category Archives: Cakes and puddings

Jam cookies

jam cookies 1

I wasn’t entirely sure what to call these. The recipe came from a book of my mums which is all biscuit recipes, and because the recipe used lemon curd rather than jam, the recipe was called ‘lemon biscuits’. Now, I don’t want to pick flies, but these really aren’t biscuit like, they’re more cake like if anything. On the Great British Bake Off, they define a cookie as soft and crumbly and a biscuit as hard with a good snap, so on that description, they are definitely cookies. They’re somewhere between a jam tart and a jammy dodger. Two of my favourite things as a child, and by the way this would be a great recipe to make with children.

No matter the name, they are delicious and very moorish, and a great way to use some of my homemade allotment jam. I used raspberry fridge jam in some, and marrow and ginger jam in the others. You can use whatever you like, jam, marmalade, jelly, curd, chocolate spread even, and it doesn’t need to be homemade from fruit you’ve grown yourself, I’m just showing off.

Just be careful to allow the molten jam to cool before you scoff them!

The recipe very helpfully said this made 1 batch. I think that’s the same amount as the length of a piece of string. I can tell you, I managed to get 19 cookies from this mix, but it might depend on how big you make them, it might be slightly more or less. Because I didn’t want that many in one go, I froze some of the dough balls so I could make some more later, which worked out really well.

Ingredients:

  • 110g caster sugar
  • 220g butter
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 1tsp of almond extract (or vanilla which I used and tasted great)
  • finely grated zest and juice from 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • jam/curd/marmalade of your choice
  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºc and line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
  2. Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg yolk, icing sugar, ground almonds, extract, lemon zest and 2 tsp lemon juice. Give it all a good mix.
  4. Sift in the flour and baking powder, and stir until combined into a dough.
  5. Take a dessert spoon of the dough and form into a ball, slightly smaller than a golf ball in size and place on one of the baking sheets. Repeat with the rest of the dough mixture. (At this point you can freeze any excess balls for a later date).
  6. With your thumb, press down to form a small well and slightly flatten the ball. Fill the well with a little blob of jam, about half a teaspoon, but be careful not to overfill.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden at the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  8. Get the kettle on for a cuppa tea to go with them!

jam cookies 2 jam cookies pre-cooked

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Courgette, lemon and raspberry cake

courgette raspberry cake 3

Yes, the courgettes are still going strong, and yes I’m still making cake with them. These days it’s very rare that I make cake without something from the allotment making its way in there. The raspberries have been amazing again this year. I often feel guilty that they’re so neglected, they have to compete with bindweed winding up their stems, couch grass growing among their roots, and with little support offered, their lanky stems get whipped around in the wind. But yet each autumn they give me a lovely abundance of fruit. They do try and spread themselves around a bit, and have to be reigned in, but apart from that, they’re pretty easy. They welcome a good mulch of compost with some added chicken manure each spring once the stems have been cut back, but they ask for little else. Rain, sunshine and some bees to pollinate the flowers.

So I harvested a large plastic punnet full of raspberries, and when searching for recipes, I found one that also uses courgettes, perfect. I had intended to top the cake with flaked almonds but completely forgot (typically got carried away) so please do so if you have some. The original recipe uses a lemony glaze on top, which would also be lovely. With the rest of my raspberry harvest I decided to make a quick and easy fridge jam. A recipe for this will be coming up next.

This is a UK conversion and slight adaption of a recipe from the blog – I am a Honey Bee.

Ingredients:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125ml milk
  • juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 140g grated courgette (excess liquid squeezed out through a clean tea-towel).
  • 140g raspberries
  • optional – flaked almonds

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºc. Line a loaf tin with greaseproof or baking paper.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients and put aside.
  3. Beat the eggs, add the oil and sugar and blend until well combined.
  4. Add the milk, lemon juice and zest, mix.
  5. Fold in the courgette.
  6. Then fold in the dry ingredients.
  7. Finally fold in the raspberries. Be careful not to over mix.
  8. Pour into the loaf tin, smooth over to level, scatter over the flaked almonds if using, and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

courgettes for cake courgette raspberry cake 2 courgette raspberry cake 1

Spiced courgette and pecan cake

courgette pecan cake1

This is my second attempt at this cake, as you’ll know if you read my posting for Autumn Eton mess. If something fails on me, yet I know it tasted good and had the potential to be something better, then I have to re-make it to prove that to myself, and somehow put everything right.

It’s a combination of two recipes, inspiration came from this recipe on the BBC Good Food site, and one from my scrapbook of recipes torn from supplements and magazines over the years. I wanted a smaller loaf cake, so used the quantities from the 2nd recipe which was for a parsnip and walnut loaf cake. It just so happened that the general method and most of the ingredients were similar.

A marrow isn’t really necessary if you make my smaller version, I used a large courgette, but if you want to double the quantity to make a larger cake, then a small marrow would be ideal. Otherwise just use more courgettes! Mine are still going strong on the allotment.

This is very easy to make, the most work involves the grating of the courgette, but this is made easier if you have a grater attachment on a food processor.

Ingredients:

  • 150g sugar (I used golden caster sugar)
  • 150ml sunflower oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice (or use, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp – or a good grating of fresh – nutmeg, and if you have them, a pinch of mace and allspice)
  • around 200g grated courgette
  • 100g pecan nuts – roughly chopped
  • maple syrup (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºc and grease and line a loaf tin.
  2. After grating the courgette, place it into a clean tea-towel and squeeze out the excess water as much as you can. Just so you know – this is where I went wrong before, forgetting to do this, and it resulted in a very heavy, dense cake. So it’s quite important.
  3. Beat together the sugar, oil and egg until light.
  4. Fold in the dry ingredients.
  5. Fold in the courgette and pecan nuts.
  6. Transfer the mixture to the loaf tin and bake for around 50 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Don’t worry if it cracks slightly on top, all part of the character.
  7. Drizzle over a little maple syrup, or you could use honey.

If you click on the link to the BBC Good Food site, they add a cream cheese frosting on top, so feel free to add this if desired.

This is a lovely autumn style cake, very warming from all the spices, perfect with a cup of a tea after a long walk!

courgette pecan cake3 courgette pecan cake2

Autumn Eton mess

autumn eton mess3

Sorry it’s taken me a while to post any recipes. You’d think with all the harvests at this time of year I’d have recipes flying off my fingers at the keyboard, but I’ve just been so busy. We’ve been eating lots of homegrown produce, but quite simply. Courgettes chopped and added to pasta dishes, sweetcorn eaten straight from the cob or mixed with tuna and mayo for lunch, raspberries stewed down to pour over ice-cream, new potatoes boiled or roasted with garlic, and the first plums of the season, eaten straight from the bowl or chopped into my breakfast granola. Nothing really worthy of a recipe.

I did make a marrow and pecan cake, all prepared to post the recipe for it, but it was a disaster. Paul Hollywood would have given me one his death stares. I think I know where I went wrong, and in true GBBO style, I shall dust myself down, hold my head up high, and try again. After throwing the dud one in the bin. There’s always time to start again – actually no, there really isn’t Nadia!

So, I came across a recipe for autumn Eton mess on my M&S cook app, but decided to adapt it slightly, partly due to not having a ready supply of cinnamon sticks or vanilla pods (I know, I’ve let myself down there) but I also wanted to add some of my autumn fruiting raspberries to the mix. I wasn’t sure whether plums and raspberries would work together, but they worked for me. I think a true Eton mess has more meringue to cream ratio than I’ve done here, so just adjust it to however you like it. I might need to make a few to get these just right, damn!

Ingredients (per serving):

  • 1 regular meringue nest (I used 3 mini). Feel free to make your own, I cheated/efficiently time saved, and bought some.
  • 1 heaped tbsp creme fraiche. Use double cream and whip it into soft peaks if preferred.
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • a drizzle of maple syrup (or you could use honey)
  • a sprinkle of ground cinnamon
  • a dash of vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe plums
  • a handful of raspberries
  1. Heat your oven to 190ºc.
  2. Halve your plums and then place them cut side up in a roasting tray. Sprinkle the cinnamon over and give them a drizzle of honey or syrup. Roast in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
  3. In a bowl, fold together the creme fraiche and yoghurt with a dash of vanilla extract, then mix in the meringues, breaking them up as you do so.
  4. When the plums have roasted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Chop them into chunks.
  5. Take your finest wine goblet, or any other posh glass receptacle, and layer up the creamy meringue mix with the plums and raspberries, finishing with a few raspberries ontop, and drizzle over any fruit juices or extra syrup.

Perhaps a little decadent for a Friday lunch time, but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t. Apart from the creme fraiche, and the little matter of the sugary meringues (let’s just gloss over those for a mo) they’re basically a layered fruit smoothy. Quite healthy really! Of course you could use all yoghurt and leave out the syrup to make them healthier. And feel free to use whatever fruit you have to hand.

vic plums autumn eton mess1 autumn eton mess2

Chocolate, beetroot and raspberry brownies

brownies1

I’m putting the courgette recipes to one side very briefly (still got more up my sleeve) to bring back the beetroot and use the first autumn raspberry harvest. I guess autumn must be just round the corner then! It was only a small raspberry harvest, a double handful, not worthy of a dessert of their own, but just enough to throw into a chocolate brownie mix that I’d been planning to do anyway.

The combination of beetroot and raspberries give them a lovely deep red colour, sort of like a red velvet cake, but without the need for food colouring. Of course they also keep the brownies moist, and the sweetness of the raspberries counters the earthiness of the beetroot. A good combination.

The recipe is one I’ve used before from River Cottage, I just added the raspberries with the beetroot in the folding stage at the end.

Source: River Cottage

  • 250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 250g dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 250g caster sugar
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 150g self-raising flour (wholemeal ideally but white works well too)
  • 250g beetroot, boiled until tender, cooled, peeled and grated
  • a handful or so of fresh or frozen raspberries

Grease a shallow baking tin, approximately 20 x 25cm, and line the base with baking parchment.

Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the oven at 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and put the bowl in it for a few minutes until the chocolate and butter start to melt.

Stir, then put back in to the oven for a few more minutes to melt completely. Of course, you could melt them together in the traditional way, over a pan of hot water, but it is a shame not to exploit the warming oven.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl until combined then beat in the melted chocolate and butter until smooth.

Combine the salt with the flour, sift them over the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in with a large metal spoon. Fold in the grated beetroot (and raspberries if using) – be careful not to over-mix or it will make the brownies tough.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes; when the brownies are done, a knife or skewer inserted in the centre should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

Don’t be tempted to overcook them or they will be dry. Remove the tin from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool before cutting in to squares.

brownies2

 

beetroot

Courgette, coconut and lime cake

courgette cake 3

I’ve made many courgette cakes and breads over the years of growing them. I am a bit of a cake monster, so if I can use my vegetables to make cake, I’m right there! Some recipes have been more successful than others. I have found some to be a bit dense, and some a bit bland, or both. So on searching and failing to find the perfect courgette cake recipe, I have resorted to making up my own. This is quite typical of me, I have an idea in my head of what I want to do, and then get frustrated when I can’t find the recipe for it! So if this is a disaster, you can come back and tell me, or on the flip side, please feel free to swell my head with pride if you like it. Just remember to credit me!

I already knew I wanted to use limes in this, but it wasn’t enough somehow. Then I came across a recipe somewhere that used courgettes and coconut together and I thought, aha, the perfect trio of Caribbean flavours. Do they grow courgettes in the Caribbean? Anyway, I also happened to have some desiccated coconut in the cupboard that needed using, so that’s all the excuse I needed!

Ingredients:

  • 2 regular sized courgettes, or 1 large (mine came to around 230g)
  • 115g (4oz) caster sugar
  • 115g (4oz) butter, softened
  • 170g (6oz) self raising flour (or use plain with a heaped teaspoon of baking powder)
  • 2 large eggs
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 85g (3oz) desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp + pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and grease and line a cake tin (I used a loaf tin, but any smallish cake tin should be fine).
  2. Trim the ends off the courgettes and grate them. Put into a large colander and add the teaspoon of salt and mix. Place a plate beneath the colander and leave to one side for a while. The salt will draw out the excess water from the courgettes.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light.
  4. Add 1 egg and a spoonful of the flour and beat thoroughly. Do the same with the 2nd egg.
  5. Add in the rest of the flour along with a pinch of salt and beat. Don’t worry if the eggs curdle, they often do for me, but they’ll be fine.
  6. Put the grated courgette into the middle of a clean tea towel and squeeze out the excess liquid.
  7. Add them to the cake batter along with the lime zest and juice, and the coconut. Mix all together thoroughly.
  8. Spread evenly into the cake tin and bake for around 40mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.

You could add a cream cheese frosting on top of this if you wish, by mixing cream cheese with icing sugar and maybe a little extra lime zest. I personally like it with a little dollop of crème fraîche.

courgette cake 2 courgette cake 1 courgette cake 4

Strawberry and rhubarb crumble cake

strawberry rhubarb cake2

The strawberries are finally ripening. It feels like the shops have been selling them for months, but us home growers have to stay firm and have patience, because we know it’ll be worth it. The beauty is, I can now put them with the rhubarb (which is still going strong) in order to counterbalance the tartness of the rhubarb with the sweetness of the strawberries. They make great companions.

This is a small cake, made in a loaf tin, as I’m the only one in my household with a sweet tooth, I’d never get through it otherwise. This will give you about 5 quite generous slices (as seen above), so if you want more just double the quantities and make it in a larger tin. Unless you use a loose bottomed tin, be sure to line it with greaseproof paper with enough excess so you can lift it out by holding the paper. Otherwise you’d loose the crumble topping!

Recipe source: a mash-up of several found online, but basically my own. Ingredients in bold.

Slice about 2 stalks of rhubarb (around 100g) into chunks, and measure out about the same of strawberries. Hull and then chop the berries down to approx the same size as the rhubarb chunks (I sliced medium ones in half, big ones into quarters). Put the fruit into a bowl and add 1 dessert spoon of plain flour and 1 of sugar and mix to coat. Set aside.

For the cake base: cream together 100g butter with 100g sugar. Measure out 100g self-raising flour, add one spoonful to the batter along with one beaten egg and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix. Add the rest of the flour and fold in.

For the crumble top: combine 50g butter with 75g plain flour by rubbing together with your fingers and then mix in 50g oats. It will make a quite chunky crumble, but it’s less likely to fall off the moment you take it out of the tin.

Grease and line your cake or loaf tin, add the cake batter and smooth over, add the fruit evenly over the top and then the crumble topping. Finally sprinkle over 1 dessert spoon of sugar.

Bake for around 35mins or until a skewer inserted down to the cake base comes out clean.

strawberry punnet strawberry rhubarb cake process1 strawberry rhubarb cake process2

strawberry rhubarb cake1

 

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