Pistachio Loaf Cake

I woke up this morning feeling as if I would like to stay in bed. It was cold, dark and raining with the wind whistling around the back of my house.  It was a real effort to get up and face the world.  There are some days when you wish you could stay in bed under the warm covers.  Anyway, I managed to surface from my pit and cope with what was thrown at me today.

When I got home from work at about 5pm I had to get on with tea straightaway as my hubby had to go 0ut.  I decided to make a Chicken and Apricot Tagine with couscous for our dinner but felt my usual urge to bake. As soon as I cream sugar and butter together and start cracking the eggs all the cares in the world just waft away. It’s like being creative and giving me therapy at the same time.

I didn’t want to bake anything too fiddly or taxing tonight but something that looked fab yet tasted yummy and didn’t take forever to make.  What could I go for?

Pistachio Loaf cake as baked from the second Hummingbird Bakery recipe book.
Pistachio Loaf cake as baked from the second Hummingbird Bakery recipe book.

In the second of the Hummingbird Bakery recipe books “Cake Days” I remembered a pretty looking pistachio loaf cake.  The cake contained chopped pistachios as well as some extra sprinkled on the top of icing drizzled all over the top.  The colours of the pistachio nuts always appeal to me and they look gorgeous. I had some pistachio nuts in my cupboard left over and they needed using up so this recipe seemed perfect to try out.

Out came the ingredients: butter, caster sugar, free range eggs, plain flour, baking powder, vanilla extract as well as the pistachio nuts.  These had already had the shells removed and I roughly chopped them in preparation for putting in the cake. I also needed sour cream to put in the cake but I did not have any so hoped that I could substitute some natural Greek yoghurt in it’s place. I prayed this would work as I did not want to have to go out to buy a pot of sour cream just for a couple of tablespoons.

I found a loaf tin liner and my trusty loaf tin, preheated my oven and began to bake.  First the butter and caster sugar were mixed together with the creaming method and closely followed by the eggs.  I then folded in the flour and baking powder carefully, followed by the yoghurt and the vanilla extract.  Finally about two thirds of the pistachio nuts were added to the mixture. I hoped they wouldn’t sink to the bottom of the cake as often happens when I make cherry cakes.

Into the oven went the loaf cake and before long a delicious smell began to waft through the kitchen.  It was in the oven for about 50 minutes to an hour but I did keep checking.

As the cake was cooling on the side I served up the dinner and left the cake to ice and decorate later.  I was so hungry I could have happily cut into it straightaway but resisted the urge.  We sat down to our dinner which was rather rushed as I had to go back out to the supermarket and my hubby went off to his meeting.

Off to the supermarket I went somewhat reluctantly but was back to ice the loaf cake within an hour.  The icing was simply icing sugar mixed with a little water to make glace icing. I still managed to make it go far too runny though but I must admit I wasn’t disappointed as I love the drizzly, runny look. On went the icing but silly me I forgot to put some baking parchment underneath to catch the drips.  So, more cleaning for me then!  After the icing went on the remainder of the pistachios were sprinkled on. Some wanted to fall off down the sides of the cake, the others stayed intact.

Note to self- make sure the cake is COMPLETELY cool before decorating and attempting to cut it.  I tried to cut a slice of cake only to find it was very springy, I should have waited for an hour or so before trying to cut the cake up.

Pistachio Loaf cake as baked from the second Hummingbird Bakery recipe book.
Pistachio Loaf cake- delicious and very quick and simple to make for any occasion.

I’m looking forward to trying a small piece tomorrow afternoon when I get in from work.  Let’s hope it tastes nice.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cake

As you may be aware I am just that little bit obsessed with the Great British Bake Off.  I had massive withdrawal symptoms when the third series finished last October so it was just brilliant when I heard that there was to be a Christmas Special and the Comic Relief specials.  Now I, along with thousands of others will have to wait until the summer for our fix!

The other day, though I did find out that John Waite who won series 3 is bringing out a book in April! Whoo, hoo! It is now 0n order from Amazon and I am really looking forward to it popping through my letterbox.

Last week my sub copy of Good Food Magazine arrived which is always a joy to have. This month actually features two of John’s bakes, including a rather sublime looking white chocolate and raspberry sandwich cake. The idea was that it could be baked for Mother’s Day but I couldn’t wait until then.  I just had to bake it NOW!

Last Monday when I was planning out the meals for the week I decided to bake the cake as our Sunday lunch pudding as all of us love raspberries and white chocolate.  I did find that it is an expensive cake to make for an everyday cake so would be ideal to make for a celebration instead. You need 300g white chocolate which can cost up to £6 depending on what brand you use. I always use a good make like Divine or Green and Blacks as it melts better than cheapo white chocolate.  I liked the fact that there wasn’t lots of sickly icing all over the top of the cake, it was simply dusted with caster sugar.

First of all I greased and lined my two 8″ sandwich tins while my oven was heating up and then I creamed sugar and butter together. In went four free range eggs and self raising flour. When everything was mixed together I folded in a punnet of raspberries. I had to take care with these though as the raspberries were beginning to leak juice and I didn’t want a pink cake!  After that I folded in 100g chopped white chocolate. I had misread the recipe and realised I was meant to melt the white chocolate separately but I decided that the chunks would work as well.

Into the oven went the cakes and they baked for about 20-25 minutes.  After cooling on a rack for a while I turned them out.

To sandwich the cakes together I had to make a white chocolate ganache. This was made by melting 200g white chocolate with about 25oml double cream. It then thickened up beautifully once it had melted. I spread this on top of one of the cakes, then the other one was placed on top. The finishing touches were added by sprinkling caster sugar on top.

John Waite's White Chocolate and Raspberry Cake- a gorgeous treat for a special occasion.
John Waite’s White Chocolate and Raspberry Cake- a gorgeous treat for a special occasion.

When the cake was ready I placed it on my cake stand and left it in the kitchen ready for our Sunday lunch dessert after our roast pork and all the trimmings.  I was really pleased with the way the cake had turned out and I couldn’t wait to have some. Everyone said it looked gorgeous.  When I brought it to the table and served it out I saw my son had wolfed down his piece really quickly.  It was funny that if he had been given raspberries on their own he probably wouldn’t have touched them! I don’t blame him though, the cake was absolutely delicious and thankfully we were all off out for a long dog walk after lunch to work off some of the excesses!

Well, if John Waite’s book is full of yummy treats like this, we have a lot to look forward to!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx


Yorkshire Cake

A few weeks ago I baked and wrote a blog post about Ripon Spice cake. I am also trying to find, research and bake traditional and old Yorkshire recipes but I am not having much luck at the moment. Every time I Google Yorkshire recipes I keep coming up with Yorkshire puddings, Parkin or Fat Rascals.  I’m sure there are more traditional Yorkshire recipes out there which have been long forgotten.

The Ripon Spice Cake recipe came from a book given to me a couple of Christmases ago from my Dad and step-mum, a gem of a book called “Cakes Regional and Traditional” by Julie Duff.  I also spotted a couple more unusual recipes in the book which I was keen to try out especially as I hadn’t heard of a lot of them.  One such cake was called Yorkshire Cake but frustratingly I could only imagine what the cake looked like as it did not have an accompanying picture with it.

In the introduction to the recipe Julie Duff says “This delightful recipe came from Mrs Gertrude Latter’s wonderful 1920’s handwritten cookery book. I thoroughly enjoyed making it and despite the slightly unconventional appearance of the cake, it did work and tasted very good,”  This did make me wonder what the cake would turn out like!

At first glance of the ingredients list it looked rather like a shortbread type recipe than a sponge cake one.  One of the ingredients included ground rice, something I did not have and had to find in my local supermarket. I forgot to write it on the list though so I didn’t buy any. I suddenly remembered I needed rice flour when I decided to bake the cake! Oh no, what to do?  In the end I substituted cornflour in place of the rice flour as you can do with shortbread.

Here is how I made the Yorkshire Cake:

I preheated the oven and greased two 7″ sandwich tins. The recipe stated that you needed 2 x 6″ ovenproof plates, this is something I don’t have so I hoped the sandwich tins worked!  Once these were ready I could begin to get the mixture ready.

The butter and sugar was creamed together and then eggs and milk were added where I beat them together with a wooden spoon.  After that plain flour, cornflour and baking powder was sifted together and mixed until it was smooth.

Then I divided the mixture between the two tins. They baked in the oven for 20 minutes and were ready when risen and firm to the touch.  Once they were removed from the tin onto the wire rack I left them to cool completely.

When the cakes were cold I sandwiched them together with greengage jam.  I wasn’t sure why it had to be greengage jam but I managed to find a jar of it in my local Morrisons.  It isn’t really something I buy but it looked nice.

Finally, the cake was dusted with a generous sprinkling of caster sugar.

Yorkshire Cake- a shortbread like layer cake sandwiched together with greengage jam and sprinkled with caster sugar on top.
Yorkshire Cake- a shortbread like layer cake sandwiched together with greengage jam and sprinkled with caster sugar on top.


The cake looked pleasant enough so I decided to cut a slice and taste it.  To be honest I didn’t really care much for it. The taste of the cake itself was quite cloying and the texture stuck to the roof of my mouth. I decided not to eat any more and put the rest of the slice in the bin. What a shame, it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. My daughter and hubby liked it though and my hubby ate some with a cup of tea when he got in from work.  I don’t know if it was down to my baking errors or whether the cake was meant to taste like that.  I will never know!

Happy Baking!

Sam xx

Chocolate and Orange Scones

Warm, fresh scones straight from the oven.

After drooling over all the lovely bakes on the Comic Relief Great British Bake Off the other day I was itching to bake some scones.  The scones that really caught my eye were some mouthwatering sounding chocolate and orange ones. Now I have baked chocolate and orange muffins, cupcakes or cookies before but hever attempted to put chocolate in a scone. To me I always associate scones with dried fruit or making plain ones to have fruit and cream with.

After GBBO had been on I was looking through my Twitter feed and noticed that Jo Wheatley said if you wanted to make the chocolate and orange scones, her recipe in her Passion For Baking book would be ideal. This recipe is for cranberry and orange scones, another delicious sounding combination.  As I have Jo’s book and love using it all the time I was keen to use her recipe as they always work for me and give fab results.

On Friday I had a whole day off.  For the past few months I have been working on a Friday morning but as from last week I am now back to having a full Friday off. This means I can take on some more orders or do more stalls for the weekend but this last week I thought I would go shopping in Northallerton in the morning then back to walk the dog before doing some family baking.

I decided I wanted to make the chocolate and orange scones as they would be quick and easy to prepare before the children came back from school.  I used a packet of dark chocolate chips for quickness.

Once I had weighed out all the ingredients I started on the scones.

I sieved self raising flour, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda and caster sugar together and combined them in a large bowl. After this I rubbed in some unsalted butter, followed by the zest and juice of an orange.  Once this was done I began to combine the scone dough along with the chocolate chips. It was a little dry so I added a little milk to the mixture.

I did not need to roll the dough out much as I like really chunky, thick scones. I only rerolled out the dough when strictly necessary.  Once this was done the scones were placed onto baking trays lined with baking parchment.

I brushed the scones with beaten egg yolk, followed by a sprinkling of brown sugar on the top. I did not have any demerara sugar left so I used light brown soft sugar instead. I hoped it wouldn’t make a difference.

The scones baking was the most gorgeous smell ever. I found it unbearable to stay in the kitchen when they were in the oven so I went upstairs to put some laundry away.

I am ashamed to say I scoffed one of the scones when it had just come out of the oven. The chocolate was warm but not melted, the scones didn’t need cutting and eating with butter or jam, they were perfect on their own.

Chocolate and Orange Scones baked from Jo Wheatley’s book “A Passion For Baking”. Absolutely delicious.

I can honestly say this recipe was a joy to bake as with all Jo’s other recipes and I can’t wait to bake these scones again.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Black Forest Gateau

Last Monday was my hubby’s birthday. Now he doesn’t really like celebrating his birthday and doesn’t like a lot of fuss but I do love making him a cake. He doesn’t really have a sweet tooth but does enjoy cakes such as carrot cake or coffee and walnut cake. As these have been made for him time and time again, I thought it was time for a change.

The week before I was thinking about what I could make for him so I asked the question to my Twitter followers. One follower suggested a Black Forest Gateau. This is something that used to be around a lot being a child of the 1970’s and was everywhere at one time. My Nana used to buy them for pudding sometimes but now at 40 years old I hadn’t had Black Forest Gateau for years.

It suddenly struck me that I could make one myself. I always thought they were way too complicated and faffy to me but I was pleasantly surprised as well as being seduced by all that chocolate and cherries when watching The Hairy Bikers on TV last year. They were in Germany as part of their Hairy Bikers’ Bakeation series where they visited several European countries travelling around on their motorbikes. When they were in Germany they made the most delicious looking Black Forest Gateau and both my hubby and I said we would have to try that! I remembered I had bought the Bakeation book and was determined to bake something from it. Now was my chance.

The week before when I had planned to do my weekly shop was when we ended up having a snow day in North Yorkshire. Although my school was open, I had to take the day off as my children were off school as theirs was shut.  I had a morning of keeping up with the kids sledging on the fields, walking the dog in the snow but then afterwards thought I have to go food shopping. I bundled my daughter and her friend into the car and drove the 5 miles to Morrisons along the main road. Thankfully it was gritted but it was slippy in a couple of places.

On my shopping list along with all the groceries, etc. was the ingredients for the Black Forest Gateau. Now, to me this recipe seemed to be a very expensive one to make but when you look at it, it is definitely a celebration cake or one that you would not make every day. The recipe called for two different types of alcohol, both of which I never buy or use. I needed cherry brandy and Kirsch.  I also needed fresh cherries (not easy in January), dried sour cherries and black cherry jam on top of all the standard cake ingredients.  Not to mention a very large pot of double cream for the filling and decorations.  Once in Morrisons I found the dried sour cherries with all the dried fruit, I ended up buying a jar of Morello cherries in syrup (no black cherries available) and the jam was fine. Now all I had to do was to find the liqueur. I definitely was not going to buy cherry brandy but I thought depending on the price I would buy some Kirsch.  I had to ask an assistant if there was any as I couldn’t find it.  There was cherry brandy but no way was I paying £15 for a bottle and nothing else would fit. In the end I bought a small bottle of vodka as I know my hubby and I would drink it afterwards (although it’s not something I drink much of to be honest).

Last Sunday morning the day we were going to have the cake I was worried that it would all work.  I wanted it to be perfect for our Sunday lunch rather than for on my hubby’s actual birthday as it would be a Monday and a busy day.

The chocolate sponge part was made, baked like a two tier sandwich cake and left to cool on a rack in the kitchen. I prepared the Black Forest Cherry filling by heating the dried sour cherries, the vodka and the jam altogether in a big pan.  It was meant to be heated until the cherries were swollen and then left to cool.  I also soaked the chocolate sponge in a little bit of the vodka.  I was concerned the Black Forest filling was ok though.  I was also nervous about slicing each layer of cake into two to give four layers, knowing my luck it would fall apart so I didn’t bother.

The black forest cherry filling was spread on top of one of the layers.
The black forest cherry filling was spread on top of one of the layers.

I then whisked up a large carton of double cream and prepared my piping bag with my large star nozzle. When this was done I piped some cream stars all over the top of the Black Forest cherry layer, then carefully placed the top layer of chocolate sponge on top. I then swirled some whipped cream on top of the cake, finally adding a border of rosettes. On top of the rosettes went a Morello cherry from the jar of Morello cherries.  It didn’t look as nice as if I had had black cherries to go on the top but I had no choice. After the cherries went on, I grated some plain chocolate on top.

Ta-da !Here is the finished cake in all it's glory.
Ta-da !Here is the finished cake in all it’s glory.

I was really pleased with the way the cake turned out and everyone really enjoyed it.  It looked hugely calorific though, so I only had a tiny slice of it.  My hubby really enjoyed it and said it looked lovely but then I remembered I had forgotten something!

I had forgotten to put the candles on!
I had forgotten to put the candles on!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx





Best Loved Recipes- Cathedral City Cheddar Cheese Scones

Last weekend it was my husband’s birthday and we had my mum staying with us for the weekend. It had been a weird week all round, mainly caused by the snow coming and going.  It got to last Saturday morning and the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Overnight in our part of North Yorkshire about 10cm of snow had fallen. I didn’t fancy going out food shopping that morning.  I looked in the fridge and saw we had lots of soup to use up but not much bread. We were eating out that night but I didn’t want to make a big meal.  We had cheese and all the ingredients for the Sunday lunch the following day. So what could I make that would go with soup?

I remembered the Cathedral City  Best Loved Recipes book I had bought earlier on that week when I was in Morrisons.  I thought about what I could make from the book and remembered there was a scone recipe in there. I never really make savoury scones, only sweet ones so I was keen to have a go seeing as the last time I made them was when the children were very young.

I had got all the cleaning done ready for my mum getting here so out came the ingredients for the scones. I preheated the oven and prepared two of my baking trays with lining parchment ready for the scones.

Then once all the ingredients were out I started on the scones themselves. Into a large mixing bowl I put wholemeal and plain flour along with some baking powder. At this point I was also meant to add salt but I completely forgot about it. this I realised when I had made the scones and tasted one, thinking they were quite bland.  I also added the Cathedral City cheddar which I had bought as a block so this had to be grated. It was a faff grating it as you needed 200g of it and my arms hurt by the time I had finished. I also had to add some Parmesan to the mixture. This was already grated as I had a bag of it in the fridge so it just got tipped in.  I also decided to add a teaspoon of dried parsley to the scones, I would have tried chives but I couldn’t find them in the cupboard. I was convinced I had some left!

The mixture was then combined with some milk, which made it into a rather sticky dough.  I managed to roll out the dough easily though I did not roll it much as I like thick, chunky scones.  I did not get 15 scones out of the mixture though, more like 9!  Perhaps my cutter was too big, it was the middle sized one in my set.

Once the scones were laid out on the two trays I brushed them with a little beaten egg before going into the oven to bake.  They didn’t take long to bake, only about 15 minutes and they smelled delicious.

As they were baking my hubby and daughter got back from Harrogate where she had been at her dancing class. What I hadn’t realised was that my hubby had nipped into the supermarket on the way home and had brought lots of Chinese nibbles like spring rolls and prawn toasts for lunch along with more soup, ciabatta bread, ham and olives. When I said I had already got lunch organised he didn’t seem impressed when I mentioned the scones.

Cheese Scones using Cathedral City cheddar from the Cathedral City Cheddar Best Loved Recipes book
Cheese Scones using Cathedral City cheddar from the Cathedral City Cheddar Best Loved Recipes book

Well, these scones do not look exciting or that appetising. In the end I did serve them and everyone had one split and spread with some butter. As I bit into mine I felt disappointed, to me they didn’t taste of anything. Everyone else said they tasted lovely but I couldn’t taste the cheese, only stodge! I felt as they were very tasteless and lacked something.  My mum said I could try a spoonful of mustard powder in the mixture next time, then I remembered what was missing- salt!

The same couldn’t be said for these savoury scones. There were still four left in the cake tin in my cupboard on Friday (6 days after being baked) and this never happens in my house, everything gets eaten as if there’s a plague of locusts about.  I had to chuck the cheese scones out. Oh well, one I won’t be baking again in a hurry then!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Best Loved Recipes- Orange and Digestive Biscuit Fridge Cake Slices

I’m collecting the 30 Best Loved Recipes mini book series although some of the titles I fancy getting more than others.  Each book features a well known food brand of 30 recipes or serving suggestions using that very product. Number three in the series was McVities Digestive biscuits a product that I use frequently in my baking whether for cheesecake bases or crushed into small pieces for rocky road.

All ready to bake from the McVities Digestive book.

I was intrigued to see which recipes were in this book and whether there were new ideas to use digestive biscuits. I did feel angry to see one “recipe” simply as a glass of milk with a digestive biscuit next to it. That in my book, is not a recipe, yummy though it sounds as a supper suggestion.

I had some digestive biscuits in my cupboard that needed using up.  I am always thinking up new things to bake that I can put on my stalls or donate to coffee mornings that are relatively cheap to bake and are quick to make.  I also love using fridge cake recipes as they mean you can have it setting in the fridge while something else is baking.

I looked through the book and immediately stumbled upon a recipe for Lemon and Digestive Biscuit Slice which sounded yummy.  I knew I didn’t have any lemons left but we had oranges in our fruit bowl so I thought I could try that instead. After that I looked through the ingredient list and panicked at first as I needed a can of condensed milk.  I didn’t have any, so off up to the shop I went.  Back I came 15 minutes later and was finally ready to start on my baking.

The condensed milk ended up having to be heated gently in a saucepan with some butter.  As it melted I weighed out the digestive biscuits, put them into a clear plastic freezer bag and beat them to crumbs with a rolling pin. Normally when I do this I end up with the bag splitting and crumbs going everywhere. I couldn’t be bothered to get my food processor out of the cupboard just for this.

Once the crumbs were made I mixed them in with the condensed milk and butter mixture, along with some grated orange zest. This mixture was then placed in a rectangular loose bottomed tin which I’d lined with some cling film.

I put the tin in the fridge so that the cake slice would set, it was meant to stay in there for a couple of hours to harden up. Meanwhile I made some topping.  It was like an orange flavoured buttercream which personally tasted a little bit too sweet for my liking. I think it would have been much nicer with a topping of melted plain or white chocolate or even with a marble effect!

I had to go and pick my son up from his friend’s house so before I set off I spread the icing onto the top of the cake slice. It didn’t look like enough mixture to go across the whole of the cake let alone give the icing layer any depth as was shown in the picture.  It looked okay though for eating within my family but for professional purposes I think I would have to adapt the sweetness and make up double the topping.

When I got back from picking my son up I cut the slices up into twelve large rectangular pieces. With my messy cutting I found I had to wipe the knife each time I made a cut but eventually I ended up with 12 slices.

Orange and Digestive Biscuit Slice – a bit messy but went down well with the children!

This didn’t worry any of my family!  The cake slices didn’t last long at all. I tried half of one and found the base just perfect but the top far too sweet for my personal tastes.  It definitely was easy to make though, will try it again with lemon though.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx