Sunday, 22 June 2008


I love english summer time. It's such a lovely time of year. I don't mind whether it's raining or shining I love the feeling of being outside in the fresh air. I love how the whole country looks like a blanket of green, all the trees and flowers are blushing in the fields and the air smells fresh. Yesterday me and my hubbie got up and thought let's get out of London and so we went to Guildford on the train. It was such a lovely little place, we had a great time. We wandered around the shops and sat by the castle for a bit and had tea and scones in a little cafe.

So when I got home I thought I would make some scones. I love tea and scones in summer especially with heaps of jam and cream. Mmmm, delicious! I followed another recipe from my nan's Be-ro recipe book.

You will need:
8oz self raising flour
half a teaspoon of salt
1.5 ozs lard
1oz caster sugar
milk about 1-2 tablespoons
two tablespoons of currants or sultanas (i used sultanas)
one egg

Preheat the oven, it's needs to be fairly hot so about 425 - 450 f gas mark 7 - 8 and grease a baking tray with some margarine or butter.

Using a large bowl mix together the flour and salt. Rub in the lard. Then mix in the sugar and fruit. In a samll bowl beat the egg and then add it to the other ingrediants with a little of the milk until you have a soft dough. Roll it out so it is about a half inch thick and cut in rounds with a scone cutter. I only own a small one so mine were mini scones! Brush the tops with a little of the beaten egg mixture that is left in the bowl, place on the baking tray and bake for 10 mins! Simple!

There's no better english summer time treat than scones with jam and cream. Only we had no cream in at the time so it was just jam for us! :)

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Madeira cake

When my nan died a few years ago I asked if I could have her cookery books to be able to remember her by. I love reading through them, some of them are old be-ro cookery books and others are note books that she had written her favourite recipes in.

My nan was an amazing cook and baker, she lived in Dent in Cumbria. Dent is a tiny village amongst the rolling hills with a village church where the church bells still dong every 15 mins and a coal man still drives around delivering coal. You wake up up the sound of the animals (cows, chickens, sheep) and birds every morning and life is simple. My nan used to work on a farm and then later in life she would sew jumpers for the local village shop. Every church event or summer fair my nan would bake cakes and more cakes and anytime you went round there was always an array of desserts, tins and tins of homemade biscuits and buns and all things nice to eat.

I loved going to see her. We would drive up every month and go for walks in the countryside, try and catch fish with our little nets in the river, walk round the village and chat to all the village people. I think my love of baking comes from my nan and my mum and everytime I bake I think of her. I made this madeira cake following an old recipe from her be-ro cookbook.

You need:
5oz butter or margarine
5oz caster sugar
3 eggs
8oz self raising flour
I used plum jam for the filling.

This makes enough for a deep 6inch cake tin.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3-4, 325-350 F and line the bottom and sides of your tin with greaseproof paper. Cream the butter and sugar and gradually add the lightly whisked eggs with a little flour as you go.

Fold in the rest of the flour and I always add a tablespoon of hot water as it makes a lighter sponge. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 and a quarter hours. Once removed from the oven leave it to stand in the tin for about 5 miutes before transferring to a wire rack. Once completly cooled you can cut it in half and add a filling. I used homemade plum jam!

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Chocolate fairy cakes with buttercream swirls

I made these little chocolate gems last weekend. I keep seeing fairy cakes and cupcakes in the shops in London with lots of swirly buttercream swirled around on top of the cakes in an array of colours! Peyton and Byrne cakes in St. Pancras station have them! So I thought I would try doing the same on my cupcakes.

I used chocolate buttercream and sprinkled in some bits of dark and milk chocolate flakes I had left over. I then used my piping bag with a giant star shaped nozzle and piped lucious swirls around and around! The only thing I would say is that the little chcolate flakes sometimes got stuck in the tube and caused air bubbles so I think it is better to have a smooth buttercream.

My husband asked me what the difference between a cupcake and a fairy cake was? I said fairy cakes were english and cupcakes were american and slightly bigger! Is that correct? If anyone has any thoughts on this please do let me know as I'm never quite sure! :)

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Biscuit recipe

Here is the recipe for the biscuits I made. I followed the recipe from a vegetarian cookbook that I bought a few summers ago and at the back are some delicious recipes for home made lemonade, apple strudel as well as cakes and biscuits.

So to make these delicious melting moments with jam and buttercream you will need:

125g / 4oz unsalted butter
125g / 4oz caster sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla essense
30g / 1oz custard powder
90g / 3oz self-raising flour
90g/3oz plain flour
Jam (I used plum but strawberry would be just as delightful)
Buttercream or thick whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4 and line two baking sheets with greese-proof paper.

Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat together using an electric hand whisk. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Then add the vanilla essence and beat again until combined.

Sieve together the flours and custard powder and and then add to the mixture. Uisng a metal tablespoon mix until combined and then gather evrything together using your finger tips to form a soft dough.

Roll one level teaspoon of mixture into a ball and flatten slightly with a fork. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until they look lovely and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Once the biscuits are completly cool spread half the biscuits with jam and the other half with buttercream or whipped cream and sandwich together. Delicious!