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Plum upside-down cake

11 Sep



plum upside-down cake

Last week the in-laws popped in for a visit… and had brought with them a whole crate of perfect victoria plums. This led to a dilemma. We couldn’t possible eat all the plums before they went off so what could we do with them? We ended up giving a load away to other family members and then with those that were left I decided to research a good plum cake recipe. This Jamie Oliver recipe (taken from  here) came up trumps and gave us a delicious cake which was gone in just under 2 days (that’s a lot of cake eaten very quickly by two people!). If you ever have an excessive amount of plums (or just want to make a nice cake!) then try this recipe out.

You will need:

For the sponge

  • • 225g butter
    • 225g caster sugar
    • 4 eggs beaten with 3 tbsp milk
    • 100g ground almonds
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 150g plain flour
    • 50g unblanched almonds, chopped or bashed in a pestle and mortar

For the topping

  • • 125g butter, plus extra for greasing
    • 150g light brown soft sugar
    • 600g plums stoned, halved and cut into 1cm slices

How you do it:

1. Start with the topping. Grease a 23cm-diameter round cake tin, then melt the butter in a pan. Stir in the sugar until the mixture is foamy and pale, about 2–3 minutes. (If it starts to separate, take it off the heat and keep stirring.) Pour into the cake tin and spread evenly. Arrange the plum slices in concentric circles over the topping, then put to one side.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in a quarter of the eggs at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition. Stir in the ground almonds, baking powder, salt and vanilla extract. Fold in the flour, then stir through the chopped/bashed almonds.
3. Pour the cake mixture over the plums. Place the cake tin on a baking tray and bake for about 1 hour or until golden and a skewer comes out clean. 4 Rest the cake on a wire rack for 2 minutes before sliding a knife around the edge to loosen it. Place your serving plate over the top of the cake and carefully invert onto the plate, avoiding any juices that may escape. Gently remove the tin and replace any dislodged pieces of fruit. Serve with custard, crème fraîche or ice cream.



chewy oat and raisin cookies

16 Sep

oat and raisin cookies

I love love love my new job! It’s mentally and physically exhausting but bringing me so much joy in the process. I’ve made so many wonderful new friends and leaving the house at 7:30am every day isn’t even an issue (I may take that back in a few weeks as it gets colder and colder and darker and darker!). I have bonded with many of the teachers and other staff in the staff room over Great British Bake Off and now everything has settled down a bit after the back-to-school rush I decided to bake something to share with everyone tomorrow to avoid the Monday morning blues.

I wanted something simple and classic so settled on oat and raisin cookies. I love them because I normally HATE raisins but for some reason these biscuits make them totally tolerable… one may say even enjoyable! Plus they travel well and keep well too (although that may not be an issue once they actually reach the staff room!)

This recipe makes around 20-30 cookies (depending on how big you want them to be!) I think I got about 25 out of my batch. It’s astonishingly simple and I would recommend it for a quick baking session or for baking with children.

You will need:

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 large free-range egg at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
  • ½ tsp of vanilla extract
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 75g raisins
  • 150g porridge oats

How you do it:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.  Grease 3 baking trays. Beat butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl (by hand or electric mixer) until pale and fluffy.
  2. In another bowl beat the egg with the milk and vanilla, then beat into the butter mixture. Add the flour, raisins and oats to the bowl and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
  3. Put heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared baking trays spacing well apart to allow room for spreading. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned (p.s. I needed all three trays and baked each tray separately so as to get an even bake on each batch).
  4. Remove from oven and leave cookies to firm up for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 5 days.

Verdict to be reached tomorrow after given the true staff room test!


plum cinnamon crumble sponge

30 Aug

plum crumble sponge with cinnamon

Great British Bake Off fever has hit me once again! On Tuesday night I was invited to watch the show projected on the wall of Mr and Mrs Ferguson’s dining room. They’ve been friends of mine since I was little and we all grew up in the same church in Salisbury (and we also all got married in that church too!). They are mahoosive bake-off fans and so a bake-off party was inevitable. Their only request was that I bring some baked goods so I spent the afternoon before searching for a relatively simple but yummy recipe. Scouring through my mother’s cookbooks I managed to find this recipe for a plum crumble sponge. It looked great; simple ingredients with a warm/homely touch. unfortunately due to the BBC’s silliness in not prioritising putting GBBO on iPlayer we never actually got to watch the show! But the plum crumble sponge was enjoyed by all and it was definitely not an evening wasted.

I wanted to share the recipe with you as I always love it when I find some little recipe somewhere that turns out to be truly great!

You will need:

For the sponge

  • 450g purple plums, stoned and chopped
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 175g butter, softened
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 medium eggs

For the crumble topping

  • 75g cold butter, cubed (plus some extra for greasing the tin)
  • 125g plain floor
  • 75g demerara sugar

How you do it:

  1. Place the plums in a pan with 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar and a splash of water. Cook gently on the hob for 5-6 minutes or until just tender. Drain through a sieve, discarding the juice, then leave plums to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Make the crumble topping by rubbing the cold butter into the floor until bread-crumb like. Then stir in the demerara sugar. Set aside for later.
  3. Grease a rectangular baking tin (about 27cmx17cm) and line the base with baking paper (or if you’ve run out of paper you can just grease the bottom and serve straight from the tin)
  4. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each one. Then add the flour and cinnamon and beat until all mixed together and you have a smooth cake mix. By now the plums should be cool enough so stir them into this mixture with a wooden spoon.
  5. Spoon the sponge and plum mixture into the tin and sprinkle over the crumble topping, pressing down gently with the back of a spoon.
  6. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the sponge has risen, the topping is golden and it passes the clean skewer test.
  7. Leave to cool before serving. You can either cut it into small squares for the perfect picnic treat or do as I did and serve about 20mins after coming out of the oven, still slightly warm with some ice cream. The cake can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

I managed to watch Great British Bake Off the next day with my mummy and sister, curled up on the sofa with blankets, tea and left over crumble sponge… how wonderful!


p.s. this recipe was taken from a great book- available here

attempting the impossible…an 8 plaited loaf!

23 Aug

venturing further into the world of bread making

Oh Great British Bake Off… why you so addictive? Two episodes in and as with every other series my passion for baking has been re-ignited. I do try and bake fairly regularly but something about that TV program means I go into a flour-y overdrive!

This weeks ‘technical challenge’ was Paul Hollywood’s 8 plaited loaf. Our cupboards are fairly bare at current but after researching the recipe I discovered I had all the ingredients needed to make one. Last night was therefore bread-making time, from the minute I got in the door from work at 6:00pm til the loaf came out the oven at 9:30pm. The plaiting technique was beyond complicated and I did get a in a bit of a muddle (I think it took me about seven attempts!) but I was pretty pleased with the final result!

I did it!

We had some friends over so the loaf was gobbled up in no time! And they all seemed to enjoy it. I feel like bread-making is something I will do more of in the future. Maybe homemade bagels will be my next challenge!

If you feel like having a go yourself the recipe can be found here. I’d recommend it if your a little bit tense or stressed… kneading bread dough is incredibly therapeutic!


white russian cocktail cupcakes

22 Aug

white russian cupcake

Over the weekend it was a dear friends birthday… (whispers *he was 30* whispers!) and as it was a special birthday I thought I would do something special. I texted him last Wednesday and asked if he could have ANY flavour cupcake in the whole world what would it be? His response? White Russian- that creamy, yummy cocktail of Kahlua (coffee liquor), vodka and milk.

Cue me frantically searching the internet for how to make said cupcakes, sighing with relief when I found a decent recipe, rushing to the shops to buy ingredients I have never used in cakes before, sweating it out on a hot Saturday morning to get them done and dancing for joy when they came out perfectly.

I took them to the celebratory birthday picnic Saturday afternoon and got told by the birthday boy himself that they were the best he had ever tasted. WIN!

If you are partial to a White Russian or just fancy making some cupcakes with a twist try out this recipe. I can guarantee it makes great cakes!

Makes about 16-18 cupcakes

You will need:

For the sponge

  • 170g butter
  • 3 eggs- room temp.
  • 315g Plain flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 395g sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 200ml  milk
  • 75ml vodka
  • 225ml Kahlua

For the icing:

  • 105g room temp. butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 100ml Kahlua (or to taste)
  • milk chocolate (for grating)

How you do it:

  1. In a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.  In another bowl, combine milk, vodka, and Kahlua.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.  In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time. Add about a third of the flour mixture and milk mixture in alternative bursts until all used up , beating after each addition just until combined. Spoon into cupcake cases until they are about 3/4 full.
  3. Bake for 16-18 minutes- test with a skewer if unsure (skewer should come out clean)
  4. Once cooled use a pastry brush to brush a little Kahlua onto the top of each cake (for extra boozy flavour!)
  5. For the icing cream butter until light and fluffy then gradually mix in icing sugar.  Mix in Kahlua to taste (I used about 60ml).  Pipe onto cakes and finish by grating chocolate onto the top.

Recipe taken and adapted from here

Success! But must remind myself to maybe never ask that question again…. (then again I do like a challenge!)


salmon and pea risotto: easy summer evening meal

19 Aug

Salmon and Pea Risotto with a Pepper and Lemon Garnish!

We’ve had some pretty nice weather in London the last week or so although the sunshine and high temperatures have meant the attic flat is an oven in which me and husband are slowing melting… but never mind! What I love about summer is the fact that my appetite completely changes. Instead of being a total greedy pig and stuffing my face with anything and everything (daily occurrence) I find I tend to eat at a more normal, reserved level. I actually want to eat fresh salads and vegetables and other light summery foods.

Salmon is one of those ingredients which shouts SUMMER to me when I use it and risotto is one of those surprisingly light dishes that fills your tummy up just the right amount. So I’m going to share with you one of my favourite summer evening meals. It’s simple, relatively quick and totally yummy.

Serves 2

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 onion (finely diced)
  • 150g of risotto rice
  • 500ml of Vegetable stock
  • 150g of salmon fillet (skinned, boned and diced)
  • 100g of peas
  • 20g of butter
  • Peppers- we used one red and one yellow
  • Cucumber
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

How you do it:

  1. Pour the oil into a large sauce pan and set over a low heat. Gently fry the diced onion until soft
  2. Stir in the rice, making sure it is well coated in the fat. Fry for 2 more minutes, then stir in 1-2 ladles of the vegetable stock. Keep stirring regularly, adding more stock as the rice absorbs the liquid
  3. Meanwhile poach the salmon in a little vegetable stock
  4. Cook the peas according to the packet instructions
  5. For the garnish chop the peppers and cucumber into little squares place in a small bowl and squeeze half a lemon over the top, leave to one side until serving
  6. After about 20 minutes all the stock will be absorbed and the rice should be cooked, with a slight bite
  7. Now add the salmon, peas and stock from poaching the fish to the risotto. Finish by stirring in the butter, season and serve with the garnish


Summer evenings sorted! Have you got any favourite summer recipes? Do share below… I love to hear your thoughts!


(p.s. photo taken off husbands Instagram account: davefordham)

London 2012… we did it!

12 Aug

olympic inspired cupcakes… made one afternoon at a church event

I can’t believe it is nearly all over. After the closing ceremony and obligatory fireworks tonight seven years of build up, preparation, anxiety and excitement will be all done and finished with within two weeks. When it was announced in 2005 that London would be hosting the Olympic games in 2012 I was a 15 year old that couldn’t see beyond the next day. I never imagined I’d be living in the heart of it all. And yet I am a fully fledged London resident now and the Olympics have been in my life far more than I could have expected. I have loved every second. From unbelievable excitement and community spirit at seeing the torch relay; to that AMAZING opening ceremony, which I was crying and laughing with joy at the whole way through; to being glued to my seat watching the gymnastics; to driving on the games lanes (and still feeling a little bit naughty, even though they weren’t active!); to hosting screenings and games days at church, it has all been such a wonderful positive experience.

I don’t believe anyone who can say that these games were bad for our country. Yes maybe economically it wasn’t the best thing we could have done, and maybe we won’t get many more visitors because of it but I like to think more of the impact on us as a people. The sense of unity it has bought about has been amazing, the renewed pride in our country. We can do it, we can put on a show (both in sporting and entertainment) and do it well! The games have most definitely inspired a future generation of sports men and women. They have made me wish I was 7 years old again, so that I could pick up a sport and become amazing at it. Overall the games, I believe, have been a success. I am so proud to be British, I always have been, but now even more so than ever.

London 2012, you have shown the world Britain at it’s best. Loving, friendly, humble and great!

p.s. I hope you like the cupcakes!!! A church Olympic funday last week turned into a spontaneous afternoon of world flag cupcake decorating- and it was so much fun, you can create a lot of flags with 5 colours!!!


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