Cakes & Bakes: Lemon marmalade bars

April 24th, 2014

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lemon marmalade bars | H is for Home

It was Justin’s birthday last week and each year I take a birthday cake request from him. It’s usually something I don’t make often, if ever, because it’s something I don’t much like myself. There aren’t that many sweet things that I don’t like. But most things containing lemon or orange make it onto that list. Funnily enough, I don’t mind food with lime or grapefruit!

Last year, I pulled out & kept a page from a Stella Magazine containing a recipe I knew he’d like. It was for lemon marmalade bars by Sarah Leahey Benjamin. I promptly filed it away and forgot about it. On his birthday I asked, “So what cake do you want for your birthday?” He replied, “Lemon drizzle cake.” I think I made that last year (and more than likely the previous year too!), but it was his birthday, so who was I to say no? I flipped through my recipe folder and my eyes fell upon the pretty picture of the lemon marmalade bars. “What about these?”, I asked. “Yeah, OK.” he replied, a little indifferently.

It was delicious – even I had a piece or two. We took some with us for Granny Glittens to try when we went for a visit and she enjoyed it too. Success!

Cakes & Bakes: Lemon marmalade bars

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: makes 16 small slices

Cakes & Bakes: Lemon marmalade bars


  • For the filling
  • 2 lemons, unwaxed
  • 200g/7oz caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4tsp cornflour
  • ¼tsp salt
  • 45g/1½oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • For the base
  • 140g/5oz plain flour
  • 50g/1¾oz caster sugar
  • ¼tsp salt
  • 125g/4½oz unsalted butter, melted & cooled
  • ½tsp vanilla essence
  • icing sugar for sifting


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4
  2. Line a 20cm/8in square tin with tin foil, making sure the foil goes up & over the sides
  3. Slice one of lemons into 8 wedges lengthwise then slice each eighth into small pieces, making sure to remove the seeds
  4. In a small bowl, mix the slices with the sugar, rubbing the sugar into the lemon with your fingers to help extract the lemon oil
  5. Set aside for about an hour at room temperature
  6. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour with the caster sugar, ¼tsp salt, melted butter and vanilla essence
  7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth down with the back of a spoon, making sure it goes right into the corners
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown
  9. While the base is cooking, finish preparing the filling
  10. Juice the remaining lemon, measure out 3 tbsp of juice and set aside
  11. Using a food processor, blitz the macerated lemon & sugar mixture until smooth
  12. Add the lemon juice, eggs, cornflour, ¼ tsp salt and melted butter
  13. Purée again until the mixture is smooth
  14. Once the base is cooked, remove the tin from the oven and reduce the temperature to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2
  15. Carefullly pour the lemon filling over the cooked crust and return the tin to the oven
  16. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the mixture is just set
  17. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan
  18. Dust with icing sugar prior to serving
  19. Using the edges of the tin foil, lift the cake out of the tin and cut into squares, rectangles or diamond shapes

World Dolls Series: Scotland

April 23rd, 2014

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vintage World Dolls Series Scotland children's book

This week we’re touring Scotland in our World Dolls Series of books.

vintage World Dolls Series Scotland children's book with illustrations by M. Russon

There are twelve little books in the series. We’ve managed to get hold of them all, so we can do quite a comprehensive tour of Europe now.

vintage World Dolls Series Scotland children's book featuring dolls Andrew and Sheena

Our doll guides for this trip are Andrew & Sheena – sporting their national costumes which they wear for high days & holidays (they dress down in jeans & T-shirt the rest of the week!)

vintage World Dolls Series Scotland children's book with illustration of a castle

Fabulous illustrations once more – this time the work of M. Russon from the Birmingham School of Design.

vintage World Dolls Series Scotland children's book with illustration of children wearing tartan outfits playing with a snowman

They’re very atmospheric with a distinct 1960s feel.

vintage World Dolls Series Scotland children's book with illustration of houses and boats in Aberdeen

We love the colours in this book – subtle shades of green, ochre & blue with flashes of bright red.

vintage World Dolls Series Scotland children's book with illustration of a thistle

Some illustrations are full of tiny detail, but they retain a simple, spare quality too.

vintage World Dolls Series Scotland children's book with illustration of a steamboat and highland cattle

We take in towns, harbours and the wonderful Scottish countryside.

vintage World Dolls Series Scotland children's book with illustration of a red tractor

We love the depiction of life on the croft.

vintage World Dolls Series Scotland children's book with illustration of a flock of sheep with Sheena and a piper

Next week we’re heading off to Wales – hope you’ll join us!

Allotment Diary: Allotment friends and foes

April 22nd, 2014

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garden loppers, saws and packets of seeds

The last week on the allotment had us pondering mortality – the cycle of life, decay, death and rebirth. We did some hard pruning of trees and shrubs, some much-needed weeding and a little bit of seed planting.

old stone flag wall

This beautiful flagstone fencing was ubiquitous in the local area once upon a time. It’s made of the local millstone grit and borders one edge of our allotment. It’s such a shame that it tends to get broken, removed or demolished in favour of indeterminate brick or concrete walls or wood panel fencing. It’s all higgledy-piggledy like a mouthful of teeth in dire need of a good orthodontist – but we like them like that. A perfect Hollywood smile would look completely out of place! We think it may have originally been part of a vaccary wall – to keep herds of cows in check!

Snails, scourge of the allotment

We posted a photo of Mr Robin in last week’s allotment post, but not all the allotment dwellers are our friends. These snails, along with the army of slugs, are definitely our foes – needless to say they came to a sticky end! Having said that, they have a beauty of their own

This 10-foot length of green chain link fence was already on the plot when we took it over. We though it might be a nice spot to run a few climbers up.

green chain link fence

We turned over and weeded about a foot on each side of the fence and sowed a few garden peas and sunflower seeds.

green chain link fence

In a few months time if all goes to plan, they’ll germinate, flower and provide us with seeds to both eat and resow for next year.

Etsy List: Arrow through my heart

April 21st, 2014

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'Arrow through my Heart' Etsy List from H is for Home

I recently saw a bright yellow, wire arrow shelf on Bree & Andy’s house tour on the Apartment Therapy website and immediately fell in love.

I scoured the internet for ages trying to find the exact one but alas, came up empty. I did however find all these lovely items with arrow motifs on Etsy.

Arrow through my Heart
Curated by H is for Home

2014 Bathroom Design Trends

April 20th, 2014

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white bathroom with Mira shower and Mediterranean blue feature wall

Is 2014 the year you’ll finally chip off those flower petal tiles, rip up the maroon carpet and tear out that hideous avocado suite? OK, so maybe your bathroom isn’t that bad, but if it’s time for an up-to-the-minute style revamp, then read on. With a strong focus on natural materials, soft and fluid edges and a touch of drama and the unpredictable, now’s the time to transform your bathroom into a strikingly beautiful and practical space.

living wall in a bathroom

image credit: Siol Studios

As Nature Intended

The interior design world is moving steadily towards the creation of greener, more eco indoor environments and bathrooms are no different. Exposed wood, slate and marble all feature heavily, with some designers going as far as dividing spaces with breath-taking living walls. Dark wood flooring or beams will bring rustic warmth that will stand the test of time.

Mira Coda Pro Diverter shower

Causing a Scene

Injecting a sense of drama can help liven up any wc. In 2014, we’ll see many spectacular shower experiences created with the growing use of gravity-defying floating vanities and dramatic lighting, as well as the increasing use of mixer showers. Theatrical and stunning fixtures such as those featured on some of the best mixer showers from Mira will give your bathroom an appeal usually only associated with garden fountains and waterfalls.

Mira shower room with blue feature wall

Keeping it Smooth

Moving away from harsh angular edges in favour of soft arcs and fluid shapes is set to make a noticeable appearance in 2014. Think curved and roll-top baths sitting on seamless flooring accompanied by frameless showers and walk-in wet rooms. This sense of softness will be compounded by the increasing use of pastels, pale blues and pinks, which bring an uplifting spirit without the use of bold, sharp colours.

Mira Agile Adept wet room

Every day is Spa Day

2014 will see normal bathrooms become luxury retreats from the rest of the house and the stresses of everyday life. Subtle touches like comfortable seating to dry yourself on and beautifully designed spaces with ultra high tech shower and bath technology will create a sense of relaxation that encourages the individual to take all the time in the world.

black & white monochrome bathroom

image credit: Aspirational Interiors

Monochrome not Monotonous

Introduced by fashion houses in 2012, monochrome is fast becoming a mainstream interior look. Simple variations of the same colour throughout a bathroom create a clinical and timeless look, and one that will also suit all budgets and can be adapted to a variety of tastes. Creative storage and the clever use of ledges will eliminate clutter, while natural wood can be introduced to add warmth to the sometimes cold feeling theme. Monochrome can also lend itself to infusions of colour with yellow and mustard, which are very in vogue this year.

With a range of inspiring trends, 2014 is the year to get your bathroom revamp up and running. No longer will you point disconcertedly up the stairs when visitor asks to use the facilities. On the contrary, guests will be shepherded directly from the doorstep for a tour of the most chic, striking and elegant room in your home – the bathroom!