Plum and Cardamom Sponge

plum cardamom sponge minus slice

When it began raining yesterday, my heart sunk. It felt like the big, fat droplets of rain might be battering against the windows until next May. I’m not good with bad weather. It overwhelms me with irrational and pessimistic thoughts. The very idea of winter looming on the horizon makes me feel a bit peculiar.  In fact, if I had any sense, I’d emigrate to warmer climes – but then I’d miss tea and pubs and black humour too much.… 

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Raspberry genoise mousse cake (…sort of…)

Like nearly 4 million other Brits, I was glued to the quarterfinals of The Great British Bake Off last Tuesday evening.

Who would have thought that watching four women grapple with iced buns, wrestle croissants into shape and take on the art of patisserie would be so compelling?… 

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Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake

I haven’t posted for so long…and I’m not proud of it. To start with I had toothache for about three weeks, and the last thing I felt like was cooking-least alone eating and writing about it.

…the thing is that after dejecting the blog for so long, it becomes hard to get back in the routine. So, I thought that I’d start with an easy and delicious recipe I made a couple of weeks ago.

If this cake didn’t have an official title (christened by its creator, Willie Harcourt-Cooze) then I’d have called it the Excuse Cake. I fancied baking, so made it for a friend because I missed his birthday, and he’s moving house, and we were celebrating his safe return from Russia and China, and I (had yet again) invited myself round to drink wine with his mother…etc – you get the picture – a whole range of excuses which culminated in a chocolate cake.

(Before I launch into the recipe itself, I should point out that I’m not normally the biggest fan of chocolate cakes – especially over-sweet, airy, fluffy chocolate cake. If you fancy something a bit more bitter, intense and grown-up then this is the baby…)

Ingredients (recipe shamelessly lifted from here)

180g cacao, finely grated (Willie’s chocolate was super, but I’m sure that there are lots of other high percentage, dark chocolates that would do—like this)
250g unsalted butter
125g golden caster sugar
50g light muscovado sugar
6 eggs
100g ground almonds

Grate the chocolate and assemble ingredients before starting


Preheat oven to 160ºC. Line a 25cm cake tin with baking paper.

Melt the cacao and butter by putting them in a heat-proof mixing bowl, and hovering it above a pan of simmering water.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs with half of the caster sugar until they have tripled in size.

When the cacao and butter has melted, add the almonds, the rest of the caster sugar and all of the muscovado sugar – then stir to combine.

Gradually fold the chocolaty mixture into the eggs. Tip the cake mix into the prepared tin.

Bake for 25 minutes, then leave to cool in the tin.

There's no rising-agent in the recipe, so I'm sure that the cake is supposed to look flat-ish and dense a bit like this!

(Final step not in the original recipe!) Ice your own interpretation of a cloud forest on top of the cake, and then paint with food colouring.

Fiona Cairns: Royal wedding cake triumph

Fiona Cairns with the royal wedding cake

For those of you who have somehow escaped Royal Wedding mania, and are yet to scour the Sunday papers for any little detail that the BBC coverage might have mised – here’s a photo of what has to have been one of the most important parts of the big day: the royal wedding cake.

It took Fiona Cairns five weeks to make – and no surprise, seeing as there were 900 sugar-paste flowers which had been carefully selected for their own specific reasons: roses, daffodils, shamrocks and thistles to represent the different countries in Britain, and then more abstract symbols such as honeysuckle to represent the bond of love, and lavender for devotion and success.

Fiona and her husband went to the wedding, and are now enjoying a well-deserved couple of days off, but I will hopefully be interviewing Fiona Cairns at the end of the week to get the full lowdown, so watch this space…