Blog Archive

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Ginger Plum Cake

Victoria Plums
If, like me, your Victoria Plum tree has produced a bumper crop this year. Then all things plum are currently featured on my dessert menus in a desperate attempt to wade through the purple fruit mountain that has formed in my kitchen. 

Compote is one simple solution making a delicious accompaniment to yoghurt. 

However, if you're looking for some comfort food then this recipe is for you. 

Ooops! Perhaps I shouldn't be using such a terrible term as 'comfort food'. In a few years Google will be trawling our blogs deleting such terms in a desperate attempt to reduce obesity. Very scary to read child obesity is on the increase...stop giving them those sugary drinks!

I tried this particular recipe from the Good Food website with a couple of minor alterations.


butter, for greasing
2 tbsp demerara sugar
500g plums
For the cake
175g butter
175g dark muscovado sugar
140g golden syrup
2 eggs, beaten
200ml milk
300g self-raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground ginger

1 tsp mixed spice


  • Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. 
  • For the cake, melt the butter, muscovado sugar and syrup in a large pan over a low heat, stirring until smooth. Cool for 10 mins. 
  • Meanwhile, grease and line the base of a 23cm square cake tin with baking parchment. Butter the paper generously and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. 
  • Wash the plums, remove the stones and slice. Arrange in the base of the tin - see picture below.
  • Once the butter and syrup mix has cooled slightly stir in the eggs and milk. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then mix to a smooth batter.
  • Pour the batter into the tin, over the plums, and bake for 50-60 mins until firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool. Will keep in the fridge, wrapped in baking parchment and foil, for up to 5 days.

Ginger, Plum, Victoria Plus, The World of Chocolate

Delicious served with cream or ice-cream. Equally delicious sliced cold with a cup of coffee. Cuts into 16 generous squares.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Courgette Bread

Courgette Bread. God knows why, it's really a cake! A simple but effective recipe which producers great results.


This will make two 2lb loaf tins:

600g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp cinnamon

3 eggs
200ml vegetable oil
400g demerara sugar
400g courgettes, shredded and drained
1 tsp vanilla extract

100g raisins


  • Pre-heat the oven 350 degrees C / 155 Fan or Gas Mark 4 and grease and line two 2lb loaf tins
  • Sieve dry ingredients together into a large bowl 
  • Measure the oil into a measuring jug then add the eggs, sugar, courgettes and vanilla. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix well
  • Finally stir in the raisins
  • Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for 50 to 60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
The World of Chocolate

Chocolate and Courgette Cake

The World of Chocolate
Home grown!
Yesterday, this post was going to include a chocolate courgette brownie recipe but, that will have to wait for another time.

This year has seen a proliferation of courgettes in my small but productive vegetable patch. To deal with this unexpected glut I have turned to baking. Surprisingly, courgettes make good bedfellows with all things cake. Which is good news if you like a balanced diet.

Inspiration for this particular recipe was from Doves Farm.  Just follow the link to read all about their organic flour business.


7oz plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 tsp salt
4oz caster sugar
6 fl oz sunflower oil
2 large eggs
6oz plain dark chocolate
8oz grated courgette


  • place dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, bicarb of soda, salt and caster sugar into a large bowl and mix together.
  • Then beat oil and eggs and add to the dry mixture and stir in. Add melted chocolate, grated courgette and mix.
  • Place into a 2lb greased and floured loaf tin and bake in centre of oven at 180 degrees C / 160 Fan for 50-60mins or until cooked. Once cooked allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then remove.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Original Fat Witch Brownie Mix

When I could be sipping on an ice cold Pimms or similar means of intoxication, some bright spark decides it would be a good idea to make brownies! At the moment, just the thought of turning on the oven is enough to send my temperature control system into overload. The perspiration has already started to ooze and the sweaty, dripping chef look is not good today or any other day. To say my kitchen is humid is a gross understatement, the atmosphere is almost as thick as the batter I'm about to make...yeah, great idea! Mmm...but the smell from the oven is promising.

The Fat Witch Bakery is situated in the middle of Manhattan's Chelsea Market, New York, a place where you can lose yourself for an hour or two wandering around an amazing array of retail experiences. 

According to their philosophy Fat Witches care only about quality rather than quantity and don't try to bake for everyone, just those who have good taste. Being good witches they only bake in small covens, I mean, batches. Pat Helding, founder of Fat Witch Bakery, is a New York sensation as are her bewitching brownies. Pat, left her Wall Street job and started her mail order business in 1991.

Random NYC Wall Art
As you can imagine there are many different witchy brews and mixes that will no doubt have you under their spell in no time including: Java Witch; Blonde Witch; Red Witch; Snow Witch; Breakfast Witch and Fat Witch Walnut. Alas there is no 'Witchy Woman'. Those of you who left your youth in the last century will remember the lyrics to that great Eagles track, 'Witchy Woman' - raven hair and ruby lips, sparks fly from her fingertips, echo voices in the night she's a restless spirit on an endless'll have to play it to appreciate it.

When you come to make your own brownie mix you will need 12 tablespoons of unsalted butter, yes you heard me right that's 12 tablespoons or 6 oz in old money, 2 eggs, a mixing bowl, mixing spoon or electric mixer, spatula and an 8"x8" baking pan...unbelievably no broomsticks or eye of newt required which was a real downer. 
Have you tried that new brownie mix from
Fat Witch Bakery?
A quick search online proved fruitless. Pat's book is available but the mix isn't but I'm sure it will be the meantime catch a plane or broomstick to the Big Apple.

Well Stacked Witches!
They are indeed very chocolatey, yummy and not overly oily considering the amount of butter. I added chopped pecans to my mix. Firm and chocolatey....what's not to like?! If you like brownies then why not read my blog post on Paul A Young's delicious sea-salted caramel pecan brownie....

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Such a Sucker for Sacher

Vienna, Sacher Torte,
Before leaving for Vienna orders had been eagerly handed out by friends to bring back a plethora of Sacher Tortes or else I would end up with egg on my face. 

Should I phone the hotel to warn them that a huge order was about to catch them unawares? I shouldn't have worried as brand 'Sacher' is in rude health with tortes literally flying out the door clutched by squillions of tourists like myself. 

Sacher HotelThe Hotel Sacher Wien - opened in 1876 by Edward Sacher, son of the creator of the original Sacher-Torte. You don't want to be heard criticising the beloved Sacher as it stands for all things Viennese including lifestyle, culture, tradition and luxury, no less. Not many 16 year old chefs can claim to have created a cake that represented their countries culture! But, Franz Sacher, whisked up this dessert at the court of Prince Metternich and since then it has become famous in the 'torte' culinary corridors of cake power. His weekly pocket money must have been immense. The recipe remains a state secret and only the original Sacher has the 'Hotel Sacher' seal. 

Essentially, a Sacher Torte is a chocolate cake, wrapped in a thick chocolate icing, which is glued to the sponge using apricot jam. Sounds delicious! Served traditionally with whipped cream produced in a variety of sizes from 12cm to 22cm. Sold at prices that will have you choking on your Sacher crumbs. Each cake is handmade by a fair Viennese maiden, man or bearded woman if we have to be gender specific. 

Beautifully presented in bright paper and sturdy wooden boxes that will withstand small nuclear blasts. Welcome to brand Sacher.

In my mind their customer service is better than their torte. Especially when I came to eat mine which was dry and crumbly not unlike my skin. I fired off a short and succinct email requesting Franz Sacher's or one of his close decedent's head on a dessert plate....

The Sacher team responded immediately by sending a replacement within a matter of days. The replacement was very enjoyable and went down a treat with some but not all. The apricot jam used to attach the chocolate icing is not to everybody's taste and is overpowering. Oh well, more for me.

If €50 is not enough to spend on a chocolate cake you can also blow your hard earned wonga on a bottle of Original Sacher Liqueur or tins of Original Sacher Hot Chocolate. 

In my opinion the French Opera Cake is far superior in both taste and texture.

You can find Hotel Sacher Wien on Philharmonikerstrasse 4, A-1010, Wien. Just follow the link for more information. Sacher.