Cakes & Bakes: Shortbread rounds, three ways

Home-made shortbread rounds with mug of tea | H is for Home

Whenever the biscuit stash in our store cupboard reaches critical levels there are normally two obvious options to remedy the situation. Firstly, I can whip out a pre-made refrigerator cookie dough roll from the freezer. Alternatively, if the frozen stock is depleted, I can whip up a quick batch of shortbread.

Vintage wooden shortbread round mould | H is for Home

Justin bought me this vintage wooden biscuit mould a few weeks ago, so it was a great opportunity to use it for the first time to make some shortbread rounds.

Home-made shortbread round with vintage biscuit mould sprinkled with semolina | H is for Home

We think the mould might be Indian so we’ve added a few spices in homage – cardamom, ginger and vanilla.

Three home-made shortbread rounds on a tray lined with parchment paper | H is for Home

The swirl pattern it makes is just beautiful – I needed to sprinkle some polenta into the mould so the dough didn’t stick and it also helped with the definition.

Three home-made shortbread rounds cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

We liked all three flavours. And it has to be said that, if we hadn’t been trying to think of suitable Indian spices for biscuits, we probably would never have tried cardamom shortbread – yet we both thought that it was very successful. I’ll definitely be making these again soon!

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Shortbread rounds, three ways
  1. 175g/6oz/¾ cup plain flour
  2. 50g/2oz/½ cup cornflour
  3. 50g/2oz/¼ caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  4. 115g/4oz/½ cup butter, chopped
  5. 1 cardamom seed, removed from the pod and ground
  6. ¼ tsp vanilla essence
  7. ¼ tsp ground gingerHome-made shortbread ingredients
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  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3. Lightly flour the mould with semolina (or plain flour if you don't have it) and line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment paper
  2. Sift the flour, cornflour and sugar into a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour & sugar mixture until it binds together and you can knead it into a soft dough
  3. Divide the dough into thirds (130g/4½oz each) and gently knead the ground cardamom into one, vanilla into the next and ground ginger into the last
  4. One by one, place each ⅓ of dough into the mould and press to fit neatly and evenly. Invert the mould on to the baking sheet using your fingers if necessary to gently to release the dough shape
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until pale golden in colour
  6. Sprinkle the top of the shortbread with a little caster sugar and cool on a baking sheet
  7. Cut the rounds into 'petticoat tails' whilst still warm
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Ginger loaf

Slice of home-made ginger loaf and cup of tea | H is for Home

This week’s Cakes & Bakes recipe is a low effort to high reward ginger loaf cake. There are quite a few ingredients, but its a simple case of combining the dry, the wet, then mixing them together – and popping it in the oven.

Tins of Lyle's Golden Syrup and Black Treacle | H is for Home

The aromas emanating from the kitchen as it baked were amazing.

Pouring ginger loaf batter into lined cake tin | H is for Home

And after less than an hour a moist, very flavoursome loaf cake emerged.

Sliced home-made ginger loaf | H is for Home

It’s a perfect afternoon cake. A cup of tea and slice of this will satisfy the most extreme 4 o’clock peckishness. And it keeps very well too, so there’ll be plenty of days to enjoy it – unless you actually let someone else have some too!

Ginger loaf
Serves 8
Cook Time
50 min
Cook Time
50 min
  1. 225g/8oz self-raising flour
  2. 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  3. 1 tbsp ground ginger
  4. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  5. 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  6. 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  7. 115g/4oz butter, chilled & diced
  8. 115g/4oz black treacle
  9. 115g/4oz golden syrup
  10. 115g/4oz dark brown Muscovado sugar
  11. 275ml/9½fl oz milk
  12. 1 egg
  13. 75g/2½oz crystalised or stem ginger in syrup, finely slicedHome-made ginger loaf ingredients
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  1. Pre heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 and line a 1kg/2lb loaf tin with baking parchment
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice
  3. Add the diced butter and lightly rub into the dry mixture
  4. Pour the treacle and golden syrup into a small saucepan and warm gently until melted and runny but not hot. Set aside until lukewarm
  5. In another larger saucepan, add the sugar and milk and heat gently, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Set aside until lukewarm
  6. Whisk the milk into the flour mixture, quickly followed by the treacle mixture and the egg
  7. Add the ginger pieces and stir through before pouring the mixture into the prepared loaf tin
  8. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean
  9. Allow to cool in the tin on a wire rack before turning out
  1. Serve warm or cold within 1 week
Adapted from The Great British Book of Baking: 120 Best-loved Recipes from Teatime Treats to Pies and Pasties
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Sticky ginger loaf

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Slice of home-made sticky ginger loaf

Every week I bake Justin a fresh ‘cake to have with a cup of tea at about 3 o’clock’.

Sticky ginger loaf dry ingredients

I usually make something I haven’t tried before so that I can use it as the week’s Cakes & Bakes post.

butter, sugar and syrups in a saucepan

melted butter, sugar and syrups in a saucepan

Today it’s the turn of the sticky ginger loaf. It’s similar to McVitie’s Original Jamaica Ginger Cake oozing with Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Black Treacle.

melted mixture pouring into the dry mixture

adding egg to the sticky ginger loaf mixture

I’ve topped mine with runny ginger icing and sprinkled the top with finely chopped stem ginger.

Uncooked home-made sticky ginger loaf

Uncooked home-made sticky ginger loaf

This tasty, old fashioned cake is quick to make; you’ll probably already have all the ingredients in your store cupboard. It’s perfect if you suddenly realise (like I did) that you’ve run out of ‘cake to have with a cup of tea at about 3 o’clock’!

Home-made sticky ginger loaf

Sticky ginger loaf
For the cake
  1. 225g/8oz self-raising flour
  2. 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  3. 1tsp ground ginger
  4. 1tsp ground cinnamon
  5. 115g/4oz butter
  6. 115g/4oz demerara sugar
  7. 115g/4oz black treacle
  8. 115g/4oz golden syrup
  9. 250ml/9floz milk
  10. 85g/3oz stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped
  11. 1 egg
For the icing
  1. 80g/3oz icing sugar, sieved
  2. 2tbs stem ginger syrup
  3. 10g/⅓oz stem ginger, finely choppedSticky ginger loaf ingredients
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For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4
  2. Grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin
  3. Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda & ground spices into a large mixing bowl
  4. Melt the butter, demerara sugar, treacle and syrup over a low heat, until all the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the milk
  5. Add the finely chopped stem ginger to the flour mixture, pour in the melted ingredients, stir thoroughly
  6. Add the egg and combine before pouring the batter into the tin
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes away clean
  8. Allow to cool completely before turning out onto a wire cooling rack
For the icing
  1. Mix the sugar with 2tbs of ginger syrup to form a runny icing (add a tsp of water if necessary)
  2. Drizzle over the top of the cake before sprinkling with the finely chopped stem ginger (or crystallized ginger if you have it)
Adapted from Flora
Adapted from Flora
H is for Home Harbinger

Chilli, garlic, ginger jam

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Fresh red and green chillies | H is for Home

We had a mini glut of chillies following the small crop of our own being suddenly boosted by gifts from friends who had a greenhouse full! A chilli jam seemed like the best course of action – chilli, garlic & ginger jam to be precise.

It’s a very flexible preserve suitable for adding to Indian, Chinese or Thai dishes – lightly brushing on barbecued meats & vegetables – or giving cheese on toast a real kick! The cooking process filled the house with wonderful aromas and these little jars of intense flavour are excellent additions to the store cupboard or larder.

Chilli, garlic, ginger jam

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: Makes about 200g

Chilli, garlic, ginger jam


  • 12 chillies (choose from finger/cayenne, serrano, jalepeño etc depending on how mild or fiery you like it)
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic bulbs
  • 75g ginger
  • 75ml rice wine vinegar
  • 75ml water
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 150g palm sugar, crumbled or soft brown sugar


  1. Peel the garlic and ginger and de-stalk the chillies (don't remove the seeds) before pulsing in a mini-processor for about 20 seconds
  2. Add the purée to a medium-sized saucepan with the vinegar, water, lime juice and sugar
  3. Warm on a low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves
  4. Turn the heat up to high and boil rapidly for 10 minutes
  5. Decant into sterilised jars before securing the lids tightly

Cakes & Bakes: Pear and ginger cake

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Home-made pear and ginger cake | H is for Home #recipe #cake #baking #gingercake #pears #upsidedowncake

Temperatures have fallen this week and the local sycamore trees are getting the tell-tale tar spots on their leaves. Two clues to the onset of autumn. Autumn makes us crave more warming, hearty foods – porridge for breakfast, shepherd’s pie for dinner. This week’s Cakes & Bakes item falls into this category. It’s Rose Prince‘s pear and ginger cake taken from a recent issue of the Telegraph Magazine.

Pear and ginger cake

Serving Size: serves 8

Pear and ginger cake

Those who know Rose Prince's cake-making will be accustomed to the boiling method that she uses for fruit and spice cakes – it ensures an edge with a lovely chewiness and a soggy inner crumb. Eat this cake with mature cheddar cheese, after a long Sunday lunch.You will need a 20cm square cake tin with a loose base, or a similar 25cm round tin. Prepare the tin by buttering it well, then lining with baking parchment and buttering it again – generously.


  • 2 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 2-3 pears (depending on your pan), peeled, cored & halved
  • 180g unsalted butter
  • 180g soft brown sugar
  • 90g golden syrup
  • 90g black treacle
  • 2 level tsps ground ginger
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 270g ground almonds
  • 90g plain flour
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda


  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/340ºF/Gas mark 3½
  2. Sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over the base of the cake tin, then place the pears, core facing down, in the tin. Set to one side while you make the batter
  3. Put the butter, sugar and both the syrups into a large saucepan together with two tablespoons of water and bring the mixture to the boil. Boil over a medium heat for 3 minutes then remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool for 10-15 minutes
  4. Mix in the ground ginger, then the beaten egg, and beat well
  5. Stir in the ground almonds
  6. Sift in the flour together with the bicarbonate of soda
  7. Mix everything together well, then immediately spoon the mixture into the cake tin over the pear halves, without disturbing their arrangement if possible
  8. Bake for 50-70 minutes, until the cake feels firm when pressed
  9. Turn the heat down to 160ºC/320ºF/gas mark 3 if the surface or edges begin to look too dark
  10. Allow to cool, then turn out on to a board or flat plate/platter
  11. Serve cut into thick slices

Banana Parkin

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sliced banana ginger parkin on a vintage wooden chopping board alongside a vintage tiered cake tin

I opened the car’s glove compartment yesterday in search of a CD… but came across a couple of “past their sell by date” bananas instead. They’d been put there a few days earlier as an “on board” snack for a trip we’d made to Penrith. Rather than throw them out (or giving them to Fudge as a treat) I decided to make some banana parkin… with a ginger twist!

sliced banana ginger parkin on a vintage wooden chopping board sliced banana ginger parkin on a vintage wooden chopping board

Parkin is a cake traditionally eaten in the autumn – and especially on Bonfire Night. It’s very popular, and thought to have originated, in the north of England – probably Yorkshire or Lancashire.

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The method I used was taken from The Great Big Cookie Book by Hilaire Walden.

ingredients to make banana ginger parkin sitting on a vintage wooden butchers block

Banana parkin

Yield: Makes 26

Banana parkin


  • 200g/7oz/1¾cups plain flour
  • 10ml/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 10ml/2tsp ground ginger
  • 150g/5oz/1¾cups medium oatmeal
  • 60ml/4tbs muscovado sugar
  • 75g/3oz/?cup margarine
  • 150g/5oz/?cup golden syrup
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed


  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3. Grease & line an 18cm x 28cm / 7” x 11” tin.
  2. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger, then stir in the oatmeal.
  3. Melt the sugar, margarine and syrup in a saucepan over a low heat, then stir into the flour mixture. Beat in the egg and mashed bananas.
  4. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for about an hour until firm to the touch.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out and cut into squares. (I made mine in a loaf tin, so I cut it into slices).


Parkin improves with age and, if stored in an airtight container, keeps for a couple of months.

sliced & buttered banana ginger parkin on a plate with a mug of tea

Perfect with a mug of strong (Yorkshire or Lancashire) tea!