June 19, 2015

APRICOT, ORANGE, AND GINGER CAKE (with a few strawberries and cherries for good measure)

apricot, orange and ginger cake

This is another of those “forgotten recipes”, something I used to make regularly but then somehow forgot about.  For a while it was my “go to” recipe for a quick dessert or cake that always looked more difficult than it really was to make and, even more importantly, was always good to eat.

I wrote about it first here and the recipe originates from one of my favourite cook books, The Popina Book of Baking.  There it is described as a rustic plum tart but to my mind it’s nothing at all like a tart, definitely a cake. 

apricot, orange and ginger cake2

So, looking at a few oddments of fruit in the kitchen the other day I was reminded of this recipe as it’s an excellent way of using up bits and bobs of virtually any fruit.

Another good thing about it is that it requires only one egg and no butter.  You whisk up an easy batter, spoon it into a lined tin and arrange slices of fruit on top.  It looks good when it comes out of the oven but it looks even better when you have brushed it with a glaze of melted apricot jam.  It can be served warm as a dessert with cream or cold, just as you like.  Next time I’m going to try making it with gluten free flour to see how that turns out.

apricot, orange and ginger cake3

I have experimented with different fruit toppings and with flavourings, the original being plums on top and some vanilla extract in the batter.

apricot, orange and ginger cake4

I recently made an apricot version, no other flavours added except for the vanilla, but I think it would have been even better with orange zest in the cake.

apricot, orange and ginger cake5

This version, rhubarb, orange and strawberry, was one of my favourites.  I put very small pieces of rhubarb and some halved strawberries on top, omitted the vanilla and added the zest of an orange to the batter.  It was delicious.

The recipe has only let me down once and that was the time I actually made it using plums as per the original recipe.  I was in a rush, short of time and ideas and bought one of those “I should have known better” punnets of plums from the supermarket.  You know the sort, rock hard, imported from goodness knows where, almost devoid of any flavour and they go brown before they’ve ripened or softened enough to eat.  On that occasion I followed the recipe as intended but the plums were still rock hard when the cake was cooked.  I binned it and produced an apple crumble instead, I seem to remember.

It seems to make quite a small cake but cuts into eight portions.  Leftovers keep well in an airtight tin for a few days.

Love Cake logo

The Love Cake June Challenge is Midsummer Madness, organised by Ness at Jibber Jabber UK.  You can see the details here.


90g caster sugar

1 egg

40ml groundnut or vegetable oil

55ml milk

140g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

zest of one orange

1 tsp ground ginger

3  apricots

a handful of strawberries and a few cherries

2tblsp apricot jam to glaze


Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan), gas mk 4.  Grease and line a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin, preferably springform.

Using an electric whisk, beat the egg and sugar until light and creamy.  Add the all the other ingredients except the fruit and jam and beat again until combined.

Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface.

Wash the fruit, cut the apricots and cherries in half and remove the stones, halve the strawberries.   Arrange the fruit on top of the cake mixture.

Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown, remove and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out and remove the baking paper.

To glaze the cake, put the jam in a small pan and heat gently until runny.  Brush the glaze over the top of the cake (and the sides if you like).  Cool slightly more before serving or allow to go cold.

Serve warm or cold, with cream as a dessert or by itself as a cake.

Cuts into eight slices.

June 13, 2015


caramelised onion and goats cheese tartlets

I saw these little tarts in the first episode of Mary Berry’s latest TV series and couldn’t wait to have a try at them, but using gluten free flour.  We were due to attend a picnic party where I had offered to bring a contribution to the main course and it needed to be gluten free so these seemed ideal.  I hadn’t tried making gluten free pastry before but had had good success using Doves Farm flours in cakes.  I had however been warned that the pastry could be a challenge to roll out!

caramelised onion and goats cheese tartlets2

I made a few changes to Mary’s recipe – you can see the original on the BBC Food website here.  The soft goats cheese available in the French supermarket did not look like the product used in the TV programme but it worked well. 

I didn’t buy any parsley but used some fresh thyme from our garden.  I also didn’t roll the walnut pieces into the pastry but simply sprinkled them into the base of the tarts before adding the rest of the filling.

Otherwise I pretty much stuck to the recipe!

caramelised onion and goats cheese tartlets3

I was impressed by the use of Yorkshire pudding tins to make the little tarts – it seemed like a great idea.  In the TV programme they seemed to turn out easily – much easier than fiddling about with the fluted loose bottomed type of tin I usually wrestle with.  Mary also said that as the pastry is rolled out quite thin you don’t need to blind bake it, or grease the tins! Marvellous!

I looked at my own rather old, scratched and battered tins and decided to invest in a couple of new ones!  I went for a decent quality tin at £6 each, rather than the cheap ones on offer in the local factory shop.  I’ve learned from experience that cheap tins are thin, warp in the oven and the non-stick coating doesn’t last for long - and often isn’t any good from the start.  You get what you pay for in baking tins I think.

The pastry turned out rather well.  It was fragile and crumbly and I think I would have struggled to roll it out into a bigger circle but for these little tarts it was fine.   They slid out of the tins easily, were very tasty, just the right size for a single serving I will definitely be making them again. 


This month’s Simply Eggcellent challenge at Bellau Kitchen is “anything goes”.  The challenge is a monthly event organised by the lovely Dom and you can see the details here.


For the pastry

175 gluten free plain flour

100g cold butter, cubed

1 egg, beaten

1 tblsp water

For the filling

30g chopped walnuts

1 tblsp olive oil

500g banana shallots

2 tblsp balsamic vinegar

1 tblsp light muscovado sugar

300g soft goats cheese

2 eggs, beaten

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves nipped off the stalks


Make the pastry by blitzing the flour and butter in a food processor.  Add the beaten egg and water and blitz again until the pastry comes together.

Roll out the pastry fairly thinly and cut into 8 circles to fit the holes in the Yorkshire pudding tins.  Line the tins and put in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.

Peel and thinly slice the shallots.  Heat the oil in a large lidded frying pan.  Add the shallots and cook on high heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes until the shallots are soft.  Add the vinegar and sugar, cover and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are dark and caramelised.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk 6.  Put two baking sheets on the oven shelves to heat up – this cooks the base of the pastry without the need for baking blind.

Prick the base of the tarts all over with a fork and sprinkle over the walnut pieces, shared evenly between them.

In a medium bowl, mix together the goats cheese, eggs and the thyme leaves.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix together until smooth and well combined.

Spoon the shallot mixture equally into the tarts and spread out over the bases.  Spoon the cheese mixture over the top and level with the back of a spoon so that there are no gaps.

Put the tins on top of the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and the filling is just set and golden brown.

Serve warm or cold.

Makes 8 servings.

June 9, 2015


strawberry and orange friands

This is one of those recipes that I had forgotten about.  I went through a phase of making friands (or financiers, they’re really the same thing) regularly until a couple of years ago then for some reason forgot all about them.  Which is a pity because they’re dead easy to make, take hardly any time from mixing bowl to serving dish, are very versatile and perfectly delicious.

They’re a kind of frangipane style of little bun, made traditionally in the oval mould for friands or oblong moulds for financiers.  They also work perfectly well made in a muffin tin, as long as you don’t overfill the holes so that they remain fairly shallow.

strawberry and orange friands2

I was looking at a few slightly tired strawberries in the fridge and a lonely orange in the fruit bowl and thinking about what I could do with them so as not to waste them and friands sprung to mind.  Very odd.

They’re a nice little mouthful or two – much like a modest slice of cake and less filling than a muffin – and they always go down well with visitors.  That might be because many people have never heard of them before and they’re curious to try them.  Once tasted, few people can resist the combination of almonds and fruit.

Of course, having used up the strawberries and the orange I was then left with three unused egg yolks so now I have to think of a way not to waste them!  Oh well, there’s always Lulu – she has cheesy egg most days for her breakfast!

strawberry and orange friands3


This month’s Alphabakes Challenge, organised by Ros, of The more than occasional baker, and Caroline, of Caroline Makes, is the letter “O”.  You can see the details here.

teatime treats

This month’s Tea Time Treats Challenge, run by Karen of Lavender and Lovage, is “small cakes”.  You can see those details here.


100g unsalted butter

125g icing sugar

25g plain flour

85g ground almonds

3 medium egg whites

grated rind of one orange

4-5 strawberries, thickly sliced


Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan.  Butter an 8-hole friand or financier tin, or a muffin tin.

Melt the butter in a small pan and set aside to cool.

Sift the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl.  Stir in the ground almonds.

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until you have a light, floppy foam.

Make a well in the flour mixture.  Add the egg whites, orange rind and melted butter and mix gently until well combined.

Divide evenly between the holes of the prepared tin or mould.  Drop a pair of strawberry slices on top of each one.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown and firm to the touch.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Makes 8 friands.