Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Cakes & Bakes: Super sticky syrup sponge

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

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bowl of syrup sponge with vanilla ice cream | H is for Home

We’ve been hooked on the Great British Bake Off since the very start. That’s where we were first introduced to the author of the syrup sponge recipe we’re featuring today.

Ruth Clemens of The Pink Whisk was the runner up in that inaugural series. Since then, she’s become a successful blogger, has had a number of cookbooks published and is a regular contributor to magazines; I tore out and kept this recipe from a recent copy of Stylist. The recipe is quick & simple to make and, if you’re a fan of very sweet gooey puddings like me, tastes great!

The sponge went down a storm with Justin, he enjoyed his with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – I paired mine with a dollop of crème fraîche. Custard would be another delicious option!

Cakes & Bakes: Super sticky syrup sponge

Yield: makes 1 x 8-inch pudding

Cakes & Bakes: Super sticky syrup sponge


  • for the sponge
  • 125g/4½oz golden syrup
  • 100g/3½oz butter
  • 100g/3½oz caster sugar
  • 265g/9½oz plain flour
  • ¾tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¾tsp baking powder
  • 165g/6oz golden syrup
  • 215ml/7½ fl oz boiling water
  • for the topping
  • 50g/1¾oz golden syrup, warmed


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. Line the base & circumference of a 20cm/8'' round springform tin with non-stick baking paper
  3. Add the 125g golden syrup to the base of the tin
  4. Put all the sponge ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, adding the boiling water last
  5. On the slowest speed and using the whisk attachment, mix together the batter slowly increasing the speed to medium until well combined
  6. Pour the batter over the golden syrup in the tin
  7. Bake for an hour
  8. Carefully release the cake from the tin and invert onto a serving plate
  9. Pour the warmed golden syrup on top and serve

Bookmarks: Pie

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

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'Pie' book by Genevieve Taylor

Today’s Bookmarks review features Pie by Genevieve Taylor. What a treat as we love a good pie… who doesn’t?

foreword in 'Pie' book by Genevieve Taylor

We haven’t met the world’s lone pie-hater yet either!

game pie

Buttery pastry & rich fillings – tasty, hearty & homely. What’s not to like?

salmon encroute

You can, of course, find bad examples – the infamous petrol station pie springs to mind – cold, pale, soggy & bland. A very poor substitute for the wonderful offerings in this book.

apple pie

They’re not difficult things to make. A bit of preparation maybe, but once they’re in the oven, they look after themselves. No last minute running around. Just the gorgeous smell of bubbling fillings &  pastry browning to heighten the appetite.

double crust pie

This book expertly guides you through the whole process.

lamb filo pie

There’s an early chapter covering pastry – different types, methods, techniques & tips.

different pastry recipes

Then lots of examples of what to do with it.

suet pudding

Hot pies, cold pies, sweet & savoury pies.

smoked gammon pie

Pies from Britain & the rest of Europe , North Africa, America and the Caribbean.

leek, bacon and cheese quiche

It features meat & vegetarian options.

Greek pie

Some very traditional pies such as steak & ale, cheese & onion and raised game. Others are far less familiar – Tunisian egg pastry pie, creamed celeriac & Serrano ham tartlets, greengage & ginger strudels.

steak and ale rough puff pie

There are a hundred recipes in all, so you’ll never run out of ideas!

lattice pie pie

The wonderful photography by Mike Cooper is sure to inspire you. The pies are beautifully staged with wooden boards, old knives, vintage enamelware, tins & crockery. The lighting is superb and the images really live.

summer tartlet

Recipes are clear & concise – each neatly fitting onto its own page so there’s no turning backwards & forwards.

Moroccan carrot tart tatin

When it comes to pie, home-made is definitely best so this book is a must for any kitchen shelf. Pies can provide the perfect meal for a relaxed family gathering, a light lunch or a dinner party.

weekend pies

We defy you to read this book and not want to get baking.

smoked salmon tarts

So what’s keeping you – there’s pie to be made!!

stargazy pie

Pie is also available from Hive and Amazon.

Here’s a little preview of the first pie we tried from the book. It’s a leek, blue cheese & wild garlic pie – an interesting combination of ingredients that could all be locally sourced… and truly delicious which is the most important thing. Blog post with recipe to follow in a couple of days!

blue cheese with wild garlic pie

[Many thanks to Bloomsbury for this review copy]

Cakes & Bakes: Magic Cake

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

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slice of magic cake with a cup of tea | H is for Home

Magic cake is quick & easy to prepare, doesn’t have that many ingredients and most of all it’s very tasty!

I found the recipe on the Jo Cooks blog and she in turn first saw it on FoodEpix. The cake gets its name from the fact that it magically forms itself into three layers when cooked. It tastes a bit like an egg custard or a sweet soufflé. I like it warm, but I love it cold.

Don’t be alarmed by the thinness of the batter, it’s VERY thin. And don’t mind that it’s a bit lumpy when you’ve added the egg white – it’s meant to do that too! You can tweak the recipe to make lemon magic cake, chocolate magic cake or butterscotch magic cake… Magic! :-)

Cakes & Bakes: Magic Cake

Yield: makes 6-8 slices

Cakes & Bakes: Magic Cake


  • 4 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g/5oz caster sugar
  • 125g/4½oz butter, melted
  • 115g/4oz plain flour
  • 500ml/17½ fl oz milk, lukewarm
  • icing sugar to dust (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 160ºC/325ºF/gas mark
  2. Grease a 20cm/8-inch square cake tin
  3. Separate the eggs
  4. Add egg whites to a food mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip until stiff and forming peaks
  5. Spoon the whites into another bowl and set aside
  6. Clean the mixer bowl, add the egg yolks and caster sugar and beat until light
  7. Add the butter and vanilla extract to the mixture and continue beating for another minute or two
  8. Add the flour until combined well
  9. Gradually add the milk, beating until well combined
  10. Add the egg whites in three stages, gently folding them into the mix using a spatula or metal spoon
  11. Carefully pour the batter into the cake tin and cook for 40-50 minutes or until the top is lightly golden
  12. Allow to cool in the tin
  13. Once the cake has completely cooled, lightly sprinkle icing sugar over the top, slice and serve

Cakes & Bakes: Lemon marmalade bars

Thursday, 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: PT40-50M

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

Cakes & Bakes: Baked Banana Cheesecake

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

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Baked banana cheesecake | H is for Home

Our favourite dessert to make for a dinner party is a freshly-baked, light & airy vanilla cheesecake. The recipe we posted, one of Gordon Ramsay‘s, is by far the most popular of our Cakes & Bakes series.

This week, I suggested to Justin that I’d make a baked banana cheesecake for a change. Being a traditionalist, he wasn’t as enthusiastic about the idea as I was. I went ahead and made it anyway – I thought that if it was put in front of him, he’d eat it anyway. And so he did!

The secret to a light & airy banana cheesecake is to whisk the mixture to within an inch of its life. Using an electric food mixer makes the job a lot less laborious. However, doing it by hand with a balloon whisk will burn off a lot more calories and tone up the bingo wings! :-)

Cakes & Bakes: Baked Banana Cheesecake

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: makes 6-8 slices

Cakes & Bakes: Baked Banana Cheesecake


  • for the base
  • 150g/5oz ginger nut biscuits
  • 50g/2oz butter
  • 25g/1oz Demerara sugar
  • for the cake
  • 400g/14oz cream cheese
  • 125g/4½oz low fat plain yoghurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 medium-sized, very ripe bananas
  • 180g/6½oz caster sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF/Gas mark 3
  2. Grease a 20cm/8in deep, spring-form cake tin
  3. In a food processor, grind the ginger nut biscuits making sure there are no lumps
  4. In a medium-sized saucepan on a low heat, add the butter & Demerara sugar and stir until the butter is melted and sugar has dissolved
  5. Remove from the heat, add the ground ginger nuts and mix
  6. Put the mixture into the cake tin and press firmly & evenly into the base using the back of a spoon
  7. Put the tin into the fridge while you make the cake mixture
  8. In a food mixer, using the balloon whisk attachment, mix the cream cheese and yoghurt on a high speed setting for 3 minutes until aerated
  9. In the food processor that was used for grinding the ginger nuts (no need to clean it out between the two stages), puree the bananas
  10. Add the banana puree to the cheese & yoghurt mixture and whisk on a low speed for a minute
  11. In a measuring jug, whisk the eggs before adding it to the cake mixture in 2 stages, whisking after each addition
  12. Add the vanilla essence to the mix then add the caster sugar and whisk until well blended, light & airy
  13. Remove the cake tin from the fridge and cover the bottom & sides with a double layer of tin foil
  14. Pour the cake mixture into the tin, over the ginger nut base and place the tin into a deepish baking tray
  15. Add water to the tray, to a level about 1.5cm below the rim
  16. Carefully put the tray containing the cake tin into the oven and bake for 75 minutes
  17. Remove from the oven, take the cake tin out of the water bath and allow to cool for 10 minutes
  18. Remove the cake from the tin, allow to cool for a further 20 minutes before chilling in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.