Bread, cakes and biscuits

Spiced Shortbread

125 gm butter

55gm caster sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

160 gm plain flour

15 g cocoa

Heat oven to 180c. Line a rectangular tin, 18x28cm with parchment. Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream together with the cinnamon until well combined. Sift in the flour and cocoa. Work until a soft dough. Roll out to fit half the tin.

Make the same again using mixed spice instead of cinnamon. Roll out to fill the other half of the tin.

Score into fingers before baking for 15 mins or till the plain side is pale golden. Leave to cool slightly then cut through where the score marks are. Cool on a wire , dust with caster sugar ( opt). Dip half of each finger in melted, dark chocolate (opt).

These can be made with different flavours or dry colours, Hal and half or all the same. Do not add liquid colour as it will change the bake.

Almond Biscuits

500g plain flour
300g cold butter, salted
100g soft brown sugar
100g ground almonds
2 large egg yolks
4 tbsp cold milk

Put the flour and butter into a food processor and pulse till it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and ground almonds and pulse again. Whisk the egg yolks and milk in a bowl then add to the flour mix with the processor running in a steady stream till dough is formed.

Tip onto a surface and knead lightly then divide into 4, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough a piece at a time and roll to 5mm thick. Cut out 2 stars of each size, just one of the smallest. Place the stars on a tray lined with non stick baking sheet. Prick with a fork and chill again for 15 minutes, heat the oven to 160 fan. Bake until golden, 12 to 20 minutes depending on the size. Leav to cool then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pack lightly into airtight boxes and freeze until the day before they are wanted.

Defrost slowly then assemble the tree. Decorate as required..

Orange and Almond Cake

Saw this on Saturday Kitchen, looks so easy.

2 oranges

225g/8oz caster sugar

6 free-range eggs, separated

250g/9oz ground almonds

4 tbsp flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 23cm/9in springform cake tin.

Simmer the orange in a saucepan of simmering water for 45-60 minutes, or until very soft. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the oranges to cool in the water.

Drain the oranges and roughly chop, discarding the pips. Blend to a purée in a food processor.

Whisk half the sugar and the egg yolks in a bowl until thick and pale. Whisk the puréed orange into the mixture and then mix in the ground almonds.

Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Whisk in the remaining sugar and continue to whisk until the mixture is thick and glossy.

Fold the egg whites into the orange mixture until just combined.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and sprinkle over the flaked almonds.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, then cover loosely with aluminium foil and bake for a further 25-35 minutes, or until cooked through (a skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean).

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.


My goodness these are healthy

8 oz fine oatmeal

7 oz whilemeal flour

1 tsp quick acting yeast

pinch salt

825ml water (1 pint 9 3/4 fl oz)

1 tbsp baking powder

12 tsp oil

    Mix together the oatmeal,flour, yeast and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre then gradually add the water, stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed and the consistency of double cream. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and set aside for between 3 and 8 hours.

    Once ready to cook whisk in the baking powder. Heat one teaspoon of oil in a non stick frying pan, when hot add a ladle full and swirl it round the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes then flip and do the other side. Repeat until all the batter is gone, should make about 12.

Flatbread for the BBQ

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1-1/4 cups warm water

2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/4 teaspoon salt

2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, for brushing

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

At least 2 hours ahead of grilling, prepare the dough for the bakes. Combine the yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cup of warm water in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until the yeast and sugar are dissolved. Let the mixture stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes, then stir in the remaining water. Sift in the 2-1/2 cups flour, the baking powder, and salt. Stir the mixture with the wooden spoon to form a stiff but moist dough, adding flour as necessary. (See Note below.) The dough will be moister than conventional bread dough, but not so wet that you cant roll it out. Knead the dough in the bowl until smooth and elastic, 5 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, place it in a warm, draft-free spot, and let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Punch the dough down by stirring with a wooden spoon. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Dust the balls with flour. Working on a liberally floured work surface with a floured rolling pin, roll each ball into a circle 6 to 7 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. When ready to grill the bakes, oil the grill grate. Lightly brush the bakes with oil and arrange them on the hot grill grate. Grill them until blistered and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes per side, turning them with a long spatula. Keep the bakes warm in a bread basket lined with a towel.

Courgette Cake

I have just watched these being made on BBC’s Something and they looked wonderful and very easy to make. Shhh don’t tell Jackie they have courgette in them

225g/8oz self raising flower

100g/3½oz courgette (zucchini) , grated

salt and freshly ground black pepper

100g/3½oz Gruyere (Cheddar will do as well) grated

175ml/6fl oz full fat milk

1 free-range egg beaten

75ml/2¾fl oz olive oil plus extra for greasing

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

butter, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease 10 of the holes in a 12-hole muffin tray with olive oil

Mix the flour, courgette, seasoning and cheese together in a bowl

In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, egg and olive oil together until well combined. Add the liquid mixture and rosemary to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined

Divide the mixture among the muffin holes and bake for 20-25 minutes in the oven, or until risen and golden-brown

Serve the muffins warm, with butter.

Sponge Cake

This is easy to make and is very versatile, in fact the basic recipe can be used to make cup cakes and butterfly cakes. Just pop the mixture into cake cases and bake for 12-15 minutes at the same temperature.

4 oz self raising flour 4 oz baking margarine or butter 4 oz caster sugar 2 large eggs Cream margarine and sugar until light in colour, gradually add beaten eggs. Fold in the flour then pour into greased lined 7inch sandwich tin and bake at 350F gas mark 5 for about 20 minutes. Leave to cool

Now to finish it off. You can simply spread the top of one of the cakes with jam pop the other on top then sprinkle caster sugar the top. That is the traditional result but the variations are endless, whipped cream and fresh fruit, jam and cream, turn it into a sort of black forest gateau by using tinned cherries and cream. To make the cake a chocolate cake replace 2 oz of the flour with cocoa powder or unsweetened chocolate powder.

Beer Bread

This makes 2 loaves and keeps really well.

500g/1Ib 2oz small currants 140g/5oz raisins 140g/5oz mixed peel 500ml/17fl oz bottle strong bottled beer, such as Black Sheep Brewery Riggwelter Strong Ale 180g/7oz soft dark brown sugar 150g/5½oz self-raising flour 180g/7oz wholemeal self-raising flour 3 tsp mixed spice 3 free-range eggs

Put the dried fruit into a large pan and cover with the bottled beer. Gently heat the fruit until the beer is hot, but not boiling. Remove from the heat, cover and leave overnight.

When you are ready to cook the loaf, preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Add the sugar, flours, mixed spice and eggs to the fruit mixture. Stir well until all the ingredients are combined. Divide the mixture between two greased 500g/1Ib 2oz loaf tins.  Bake for 1¼ hours until risen, pale brown and firm to the touch. Cover with a tea towel and leave on a wire rack to cool. Wrap the loaves tightly in cling film and keep in a cool, dry place for up to 6 weeks. This loaf is delicious buttered with raspberry jam or served with a piece of Wensleydale cheese.

Now you should know me by now, I will play with recipes and this one is taking to me. It is the alcohol that I can see differently, i intend to try some left over Christmas port with water – about half of each to the same quantity as above. Also a non alcoholic one with fruit juice, probably orange but diluted with water, up to 25%. I may also make one with all wholemeal flour so I can have a small piece.


Cheesy Bacon cake

We saw this on Market Kitchen and I had to add it to the blog.


50 Gram Streaky bacon (2 oz)
225 Gram Self raising flour (8 oz)
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
25 Gram Butter (1 oz)
75 Gram Cheddar cheese, grated (3 oz)
150 ml Milk (5 fl oz)
1 Tablespoon Tomato ketchup
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Milk, for glazing
Watercress, for garnishing

Grill the bacon until crisp. Cut into small pieces. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter to fine breadcrumbs. Add the bacon and one third of the cheese.

Mix the milk, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce together in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to make a soft dough. On a floured board, roll out an 18 cm (7 inch) circle.

Brush with milk and cut into 8 wedges. Arrange on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 200 °C / 400 °F / Gas 6.

Red Lobster Biscuit

Our favourite restaurant in the US is Red Lobster and the main reason is their 'biscuits' which we would call cheese scones. They are light and so tasty but you must have them warm.

You can find Bisquick in larger supermarkets in the cake making section or with the batter mixes.

This recipe was posted in the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.
2 Cups Bisquick
2/3 Cup milk
1/2 Cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 Cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Heat oven to 450 degrees (220C). Mix Bisquick, milk and cheese until a soft dough forms. Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cooking sheet. Bake 8- 10 min until golden brown. Mix butter and garlic powder. Brush mixture over warm biscuits before removing from cookie sheet.

Summer Fruit Cake

I saw Simon Rimmer make this on Market Kitchen and I so want to try it when we have berries in the garden or freezer later in the year.

250g Butter
100ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
3 Eggs
275g caster sugar
550g Flour
1 lemon, zest only
2 tsp Baking powder
500g mixed frozen berries
icing sugar and whipped cream, to decorate

Grease and line a 20cm round springform cake tin. Melt the butter, cream and vanilla together in a saucepan over a low heat, then set aside to cool. Beat the eggs and sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the butter and cream mixture to the eggs and sugar and stir to combine. Fold in the flour, lemon zest and baking powder, followed by the frozen berries. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake at 180C/ gas 5 for 45-50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.

Serve as a cake or with a fruit coulis and cream as a dessert.

Chocolate Cake

This is so rich - yum. Thanks to James Martin for this.

250g/9oz self-raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
300g/11oz caster sugar
2 free-range eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g/9oz butter, plus extra for greasing
175ml/6fl oz cola
250ml/9fl oz full-fat milk

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 24cm/9½in spring-form cake tin with butter and line it with parchment paper.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder into a bowl.Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla extract and beat well to combine.

Place the butter into a saucepan and melt over a gentle heat. Add the cola to the butter and stir to mix, making sure the mixture does not boil. Stir in the milk and remove the liquid from the heat. Quickly whisk the cola mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix gently, but thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes. Once cooled, remove the cake from the tin and discard the parchment paper.

Chocolate sauce

75g/3oz caster sugar
75g/3oz water
200g/7oz dark chocolate, chopped

place the sugar and water into a saucepan and cook until the sugar has melted. Add the chocolate and continue to cook for a couple of minutes, stirring well until you have a glossy sauce


I have been experimenting with cupcakes for ages, trying to find an easy and foolproof recipe. Here it is courtesy of BBC - Good Food

2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g/4oz caster sugar
125g/4oz soft margarine
125g/4oz self-raising flour

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and beat them together until the mixture is smooth and slightly lighter in colour.
Line a bun tin or cupcake tin with paper cake cases and half-fill each case with the cake mixture.
Cook the cakes for 18-20 minutes. You can tell they are done when they have risen up, are golden in colour, and spring back into shape when lightly pressed.

Decorate as you wish, I have a number of different ideas for celebrations etc.

I also think the vanilla extract could be substituted with other flavourings, lemon oil, orange oil, cocoa and so on. Also chocolate chips could be added

Victoria Sandwich

Yes I said easy - if you follow a few basics.Once the cake is in the oven DO NOT TOUCH IT for at least 20 minutes or it will fail.Remember a medium egg weighs 2 oz and you need equal quantities of flour, eggs, butter and sugar. You will need to work in pounds and ounces though as the conversion is not that simple.Brush the tins with melted butter - all over, then line the base with a circle of baking parchment.So to the recipe6 oz butter at room temperature6 oz flour6 0z caster sugar3 medium eggs (remember each one weighs 2 oz)Heat the oven to 180C, 160C if you have a fan oven and Gas 4. Butter and line 2 7" sponge tins as above .Put all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until the mixture is smooth.Divide the mix evenly between the 2 tins and pop in the oven. Bake for 20 mins then check to see if it is cooked. If it is done the edges should just be coming away from the tin and the cake should be springy to the touch.Take out of the oven and leave until cool enough to handle, turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack and leave until completely cool.FILLINGSTraditionally the filling was strawberry jam and the top sprinkled with caster sugar. I prefer the next variation.Whipped cream and fresh summer fruit, put this in the middle and sprinkle the top with sugar.Mocha cake - substitute 3 oz of the flour with the same quantity of good cocoa powder. For the filling use a tub of mascarpone cream, add 3 oz caster sugar and 4 tbsp very strong coffee. Use half in the middle and the other half on top. Grate some dark chocolate on top to finish.


Hot Cake

This is a Nigella Lawson recipe and is simply delicious, though it sounds weird to make!

150g plain flour
100g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp baking powder
125ml milk
60 ml unflavoured oil

Pre heat the oven to 220

Mix all the above ingredients together and pour into a lightly buttered ovenproof dish.

Sprinkle over the top another 100 g light muscovado sugar, 1 tsp ground ginger and 1 tsp mixed spice. Dot 6 tsp butter over the top then gently pour on top 1/2 l boiling water. Put into the oven and cook for 30 minutes. When done remove and leave to stand for 1 minutes to allow the mixture to settle. Serve with whipped cream.

Christmas Cake

Using a family twist this is the recipe I have used for years, it keeps moist and has a great flavour and is also open to a lot of variation in the choice of fruit used. There are some suggestions at the end. This cake has been used for Christmas for as long as I can remember, it has also been used for Weddings, Christenings, special birthdays and anniversaries as well.

For an 8 inch square or 9 inch round cake you will need

10 oz butter
10 oz soft brown sugar, muscovado if you prefer a more treacly flavour
5 eggs
5 oz plain flour
2 1/2 oz ground almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
2lb 6 oz mixed dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, currants, glace cherries, candied peel)
5 eggs

Line your baking tin with baking parchment. Set oven to heat to 150C 200F.

Weigh the flour and almonds in a bowl and add the mixed spice and cinnamon, set aside.
Put all the fruit in a bowl, if you are buying separate ingredients you need equal quantities of currants, raisins and sultanas, the rest is to personal preference.

Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy then gradually incorporate the eggs and the flour mixture. Adding a bit of each at a time to void the mixture splitting. Turn into a large mixing bowl and stir in all the fruit. Mix well until all the fruit is coated with the mix. Turn into the tin and spread evenly, make sure it is pushed well into the corners. Make a shallow dip n the middle to avoid to much of a rise.

Bake in the oven for 3 - 3 1/2 hours, test with a skewer after 3 hours to see if it is done, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked. Turn the oven off and leave the door open until the oven is cool. Leave the cake in the oven to cool, preferably overnight.

Once the cake is completely cool turn the cake out and make a load of holes in the base with a skewer. Take 2 capfuls of whatever alcohol you like and pour gently all over the cake and let it soak in. Whisky and brandy are traditional, I like Kirsch or an orange liqueur as an alternative.

Double wrap the cake in foil, make sure all the corners are sealed. Then put the cake away till you are ready to marzipan it. This can be up to 4 or 5 months but 2 will do if you forget. Any less than that and the flavours will not mature as well though it will still be fine.

Notes of the fruit. Any dried or candied fruit can be used, some can make a subtle difference to the flavour. Just remember it is the main 3 , currants, raisins and sultanas that should make up the bulk of the fruit. As a general rule I would use 1/4 currants, 1/4 sultanas and 1/4 raisins with the remaining fruit making up the final quarter. That quarter will always have glace cherries along with anything else I can find like crystallised ginger, crystallised pineapple, candied peel etc. For a special cake I will search out some special candied fruits to chop up and add.

3-4 weeks before you need the cake it will need to be marzipaned, then 7 - 10 days before it is needed the icing can be added. If you are using rolled fondant icing then you can get away with doing it nearer as it doesn't need to dry out like royal icing.


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