Spiced Dorset Apple Traybake.

Another tried and tested favourite from Mary Berry’s “Cooks The Perfect..Step By Step” recipe book,  Mary says in the introduction: ” As well as being a good coffee or tea time cake, this makes a comforting pudding, served warm with clotted cream or creme fraiche. I often make it in Autumn when I have a glut of apples,”

This was the very reason I bake this traybake often.  I get lots of beautiful apples given to me and although we like crumbles and pies in our house, sometimes you always want to make something different.  Traybakes are great as you can use them like a pudding or a slice of cake but a little goes a long way.  I also find them so easy to make, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to bake.

My dad and step mum gave me two huge bags of apples from their tree in their garden. I’m sure they said they were Pink Lady apples.  Not only did they look really pretty on the outside, but the inside had a lovely pink hue to them too.  They always tasted delicious so I knew they would taste incredible in this bake.

I have a well used and loved Alan Silverwood traybake tin which came out of the cupboard again on this wet and cold Sunday afternoon.  It doesn’t need a lot of greasing but I used a small amount of Wilton Cake Release to stop any stubborn bits sticking to the tin.

Once all the apples were peeled, cored and cut into thin slices, I put them into a shallow dish and sprinkled them with some lemon juice to stop them going brown.

Next, I mixed together butter, light brown muscovado sugar, self raising flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, eggs and milk into a large bowl.  So easy being an all in one method and I made sure everything was well mixed.

Now this is where I lost concentration.  I got distracted and put all the apples in a layer on the bottom of the tin and then topped them with all of the sponge mix.  In the recipe you are meant  to put half the apples on the bottom, then half the cake mixture, then to repeat it. Rather like making a lasagne!  In the end my cake turned up a bit like an upside down cake and didn’t have the defined layers that Mary Berry mentions in her “Keys To Perfection” part of the recipe.  My motto is well if it tastes fine, then who cares what it looks like?

We had Toad In The Hole for Sunday lunch followed by a slice of the traybake and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I love the smell of apples and cinnamon as they’re cooking. Definitely an aroma of Autumn there! As the traybake was so big, the rest of it got cut up into slices and put in the freezer for my family to eat in weeks to come.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx














Leek and Potato Soup

I love a good bowl of soup. I don’t make it often enough and I should do.  It’s cheap to make, filling and keeps you warm on a cold day.

One of my favourite soups is Leek and Potato and thankfully it’s one that the rest of my family will eat, too.  Though in the past I didn’t tell my son it had leeks in it, I just used to say it was vegetable soup to him in case he turned his nose up at it.

About  three weeks back I made this delicious, comforting soup. (see, I’m really behind with the blogging at the moment). Anyone fancy buying me a new laptop? No, I thought not. My laptop is slow and keeps disconnecting from the Internet. Not a serious problem in the scheme of things but it does slow work down somewhat.

I adapted the recipe from Mary Berry’s Cookery Course, which is a well used book on my shelf.  First the leeks and onions were chopped up and fried gently in butter. After that, in went some thinly sliced potatoes.  To this I then added some hot chicken stock.  Unfortunately it wasn’t home made, sorry Mary! The soup was then seasoned and left to simmer.  Mary Berry’s recipe also suggests a few gratings of nutmeg. I didn’t have any nutmeg but I sprinkled on some parsley instead.

After about 20-30 minutes simmering I took the pan off the heat and allowed the soup to cool down for a couple of minutes. Out came the stick blender to puree up the soup. Finally. I added in a swirl of half fat creme fraiche. Mary’s recipe uses single cream but I didn’t have any so, creme fraiche had to do.

A perfect lunchtime bowl of soup for myself and Mr SmartCookieSam with a chunk of crusty bread.  There was enough left for me to have for lunch on two days during the week either at home or at work.


Bothy Threads Cross Stitch Kit “Love Baby Girl Tree” Birth Sampler.

I really love the range of cross stitch kits which Bothy Threads have produced from Kim Anderson’s beautiful and quirky designs.  Last year I saw the Love Tree kit in a local craft shop and I just had to have it.  I knew it would be perfect made into a cushion to sit on the chair in my bedroom.  When this was finished I saw that there were more designs added to the collection. There were four more trees, one for each season and once again I was determined to have them.  For Christmas 2015 I ended up with the Winter and Spring Trees followed by the Summer and Autumn ones for my birthday.  Although the metallic silver thread was a nightmare to work with, the rest of each design was a pleasure to do.  The designs came together really quickly and the additional embellishments added at the end gave them a special touch.

When my brother and sister in law announced that they were having a baby and I was going to become an auntie, I was over the moon!  A new baby in the family or among my friends is always a great excuse for me to get creative.  I knew that there was a Love Baby Tree sampler design but I had to wait until Christmas Day 2016 for my brother and sister in law to announce whether they were having a boy or a girl! They were having a girl so off I sent for the Love Baby Girl sampler.  I couldn’t wait to get started but I was also knitting their baby girl a blanket and a cardigan too.

The very first motif of the Love Baby Girl Tree- a pink dummy!
The Love Tree samplers always feature a tree trunk and branches stitched in metallic silver thread. The rest of the design is made up of individual baby themed motifs.
The baby motifs hanging on the tree are beginning to take shape…
It was a pleasure to stitch the sampler and I took it everywhere with me.  I even stitched it while waiting for my car to be fixed in the showroom.  I ended up chatting to another lady who said how much she liked cross stitch too!
I love the gorgeous colour pallette on the Love Tree designs. Here I have started to add the metallic silver thread.  The air was blue in my house when I was doing this as the thread kept snapping on me!

Beginning to add the details at the bottom of the tree.
It’s always exciting when you begin to add the backstitch to a design.  This is when the design begins to come to life for me!
The finished design.  I was half way through the back stitch when my niece was born. So I rushed to get the sampler finished with all her details on it.
A close up of all the details on the Love Baby Girl sampler. 

My brother and sister in law live in Canada so I had to send the sampler to them in the post. I told them it could either be framed as a picture or made into a cushion and I would sort it out for them when I see them in September. They were really impressed by it.  Now all I need is a good excuse to stitch the boy version of the sampler!

Love Sam xx

Lemon Drizzle Bundt Cake.


I’m a huge fan of Nordicware Bundt pans much to the annoyance of Mr SmartCookieSam and my kids.  I’ve lost count of how many pans I’ve got since I started collecting them seven years ago.  My first one was the giant cupcake pan and since then I’ve been lucky enough to find ones in local shops, chain stores, Ebay, Amazon and even over in Canada in Williams Sonoma.  I spend birthday and Christmas money on them. Even only a few days ago as I type I managed to buy the Blossom pan. It turned up when Mr SmartCookieSam was there and he said “But you’ve got already got that one!” Er no, but then I suppose they all look the same to him.

The other week I managed to find the Star Pan (pictured below with the Heritage pan and the Elegant Party pan) in my local Home Sense.  I’d only gone in to find a blanket for my dog to lie on when he goes in my car.  Thankfully he did get his beautiful tartan blanket but I also came out with a bundt pan!  I wasn’t expecting that!

Fast forward to a month later and I had the perfect chance to use my star pan for the first time.  In my previous two posts about the Pinata Cake and the Decadent Chocolate Bundt Cake I mentioned about my wasted day baking three sumptuous cakes for my local WI Supper, only for there to be a mix up on the rota.  The third and final cake I chose to bake was one that always goes down really well at WI is my Lemon Drizzle Bundt.

By this time it was early afternoon and I had already baked two cakes and decorated one of them. I had yet to decorate the second and to bake this one.  Fortunately lemon drizzle cake doesn’t need any icing on it, just the syrup and a dusting of icing sugar.  At least time was on my side.

I greased the Star Bundt pan with Wilton Cake Release, preheated the oven to 160oC and then started to weigh out the ingredients.  I beat together butter and caster sugar until it was light and fluffy and then added in four eggs one by one.  When the eggs were beaten in, I also added a tablespoonful of self raising flour from the whole amount each time to prevent any curdling.  In another bowl I grated the zest from two large lemons and also added the juice from one of them in with some natural yoghurt.  This was mixed together.

To bring the mixture together I alternated spoonfuls of the remaining flour along with the lemony yoghurt mixure.  This was carefully folded in so I didn’t see any flour not mixed in.  Then the mixture was ready to go into the tin and into the oven.

After about 40 minutes I checked the cake and noticed it was still a little bit runny in the middle.  I kept this cooking for another ten minutes or so and that did the trick.  The cake came out of the oven and was ready to cool down.

While the cake was cooling I had to make the lemon sugar syrup.  This was made with caster sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice gently heated up in a saucepan until the sugar had dissolved.

It needed to cool a little bit for a few minutes but the cake needed to still be warm for the syrup to soak into the sponge.  I did this as the cake was still cooling in the tin.

When the cake was ready to come out I felt as anxious as I always do every time I take a bundt cake out of it’s pan.  This one would have to look good as it wasn’t going to be heavily decorated and any chunks missing from still being stuck in the tin would be on show!

Fortunately, thanks to taking great care with greasing the pans carefully I didn’t have any problems.  So all that remained was to let the cake cool down on a cake board and to dust it with icing sugar.


Honey and Apple Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club (A Year Of Cake)

  A Year Of Cake is the eagerly awaited second book by Clandestine Cake Club founder Lynn Hill with contributions of lots of delicious recipes from Cake Club members from around the world.  The book was published on 10th September but being as I was lucky to have two recipes included in the book, I got my hands on my very own free copy a few days before.  As with the first Clandestine Cake Club book which is well used and cake splattered, I know that this one will be the same. The book is arranged into recipes to fit suitable special occasions, birthdays and anniversaries throughout the year.  So it was apt that I started to bake a couple of recipes from the September chapter.

I will be writing a couple of posts about my own featured recipes in the next few days. So watch this space!

I was really excited when my very own copy of A Year Of Cake arrived at my house the other day!
Lynn Hill very kindly autographed all the recipe contributor’s books for us. This is just a small sample of the beautiful photography featured in the book.

Last Sunday was one of those days where hubby said to me “Don’t bake anything, we don’t need cake in the house!” Though funnily enough when I don’t bake anything he always says “Have you got any cake? It’ll put me on ’til teatime?” I can’t win!  Anyway we had got back off holiday a couple of weeks before and due to the miserable weather and me feeling tired after a long week at work, I succumbed to temptation!

I had some eating apples in my fruit bowl and some gorgeous Welsh runny honey in my baking cupboard.  So it had to be Lynn Hill’s own recipe for Honey and Apple Cake to try out first.

The Honey and Apple cake was included in the September chapter of the book to mark the Jewish New Year or Rosh Hashanah which falls in September and is the start of the 10 day celebration for Jews.  Sweet foods are popular at Rosh Hashanah, especially honey.  This can be with apples dipped in honey or in the form of a honey cake.  Lynn’s cake is moist but also has an aromatic flavour from cinnamon and mixed spice as well as from fresh coffee in the mix.

I was keen to try out this recipe as I tried out a similar Jewish honey cake recipe a few months back.  My recipe was a disaster.  I had planned to bake it, along with some Challah to take into a school where I was teaching on supply and we were learning about Judaism.  Unfortunately both the Challah (which didn’t rise and came out like a heavy doorstop) and the honey cake (which fell apart when it came out of the tin) ended up staying at home.  I was too embarrassed to take them to work!

Fortunately, I needn’t have worried with Lynn’s recipe.  Here’s how I baked it:

In a large mixing bowl I sifted self raising flour, cinnamon, mixed spice, baking powder and salt together.
In another bowl I beat eggs and both dark brown and light brown sugar together.
In a third bowl I measured out oil, runny honey and some freshly brewed warm and very strong black coffee.
To another bowl I added grated apple, flaked almonds and some raisins.
Finally I carefully folded the flour mixture into the wet mixture and then added in the fruit and nuts to create this batter. It was very runny.
Lynn’s recipe calls for the cake to be baked in a 23cm springform cake tin. I wondered if it would work in a bundt pan. I thought I’d try it out as my springform tin is too small. I would watch the cake carefully as it cooked though.
Lynn’s cake needs to be baked for 40-45 minutes but being as mine was in a bundt pan I had to keep it in about 10 minutes longer. I was a bit worried as it was beginning to burn round the edge but it was fine. Now all I had to to was to give it time to cool down and then hope and pray it came out of the tin in one piece!
I decided to go off for a run and to do a couple of jobs so I wasn’t tempted to take the cake out of it’s pan too early. Luckily it slid out really easily apart from in one place round the middle of the pan. It began to come apart but I managed to save it before it slid on the floor!
I’m sorry to say I’m such a greedy pig that I couldn’t wait til pudding to eat it. We were having roast chicken at tea time and the Honey cake was meant to be the pudding. Did that stop me nicking a big slice? No way!

The honey cake was delicious, just as i imagined it. Moist and sweet with juicy plump raisins. It was perfect with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side.  My family were too full up after the roast dinner to eat any though, including me who had eaten my fair share before.  So it got cut up into sections and is now in the freezer! Now I have baked this recipe successfully I will have a go at baking it with a class when we learn about Judaism although I will omit the almonds and use de-caff coffee!

if you love the sound of this recipe and lots more like it, then A Year Of Cake is available through Amazon and through lots of other book retailers.

Happy Baking

Love Sam xx

Bundts, Bundts and More Bundts.

I’m getting just that teensy weensy bit obsessed with collecting Nordicware Bundt pans now. I think it needs to stop or else I will need a kitchen extension!  I just love the interesting shapes that the pans come in and how you can make a cake into a showstopper bake by using one of the pans.  I still see pans I want and the wish list is getting longer and longer by the day!

This post is to share some of the more recent bakes I have made so far this year using my bundt pans.  For recipe inspiration I can recommend the fabulous website by Rachel McGrath the Bundt Queen herself.  She has lots of ideas and fantastic flavour combinations to try out.  I would recommend looking at her Bundt recipe page and also adapting and creating your own ideas from her Build a Bundt recipe.

Rachel’s feature on her blog called Bundts on The Brain is a great insight into the history of the Bundt:


Here are my new bundt pans I have been getting excited about!

The Heritage Bundt pan. I’ve been after this for ages, such a pretty design.
My two loaf bundt pans: a lemon loaf one and a gingerbread man one.
A pretty rose bundt pan. I haven’t had much success with this, tried to bake a white chocolate and raspberry bundt in it a few weeks back and it just wouldn’t come out of the tin. When I finally got it out, the top part fell out leaving half of it welded to the bottom! Try and try again I suppose!
For Valentine’s Day I baked a chocolate and chocolate themed bundt heart cake. It featured Sugar and Crumbs‘s chocolate and coconut icing sugar which worked really well in both the mixture and the chocolate glaze. To top the cake I added miniature sugarpaste hearts.
Connected with a previous blog post written in conjunction with Sugar and Crumbs, I baked this Jaffa Orange Bundt cake. This recipe was adapted from one in the latest Hummingbird Bakery recipe book and looked fab baked in my Heritage bundt pan.
Bundt cakes are those baked in pans manufactured by Nordicware and not necessarily a cake with a hole in the middle. This sticky lemon loaf cake baked from one of my Nana’s old recipe books went along to a Clandestine Cake Club event in February.
I spotted the Nordicware Pineapple Upside down cake pan on Ebay in March and just had to have it. Luckily it was a Buy It Now option but I did have to send for it from the USA. It was worth it to bake one of my family’s favourite desserts in such a pretty way.  The recipe itself I used from an American website but I am not sure if I got the quantities right having to use baking cups!
Back in January I wanted to experiment with some Monin coffee syrups I was given just before Christmas. So I used one of Dollybakes’ recipes to bake this Cinnamon and Apple Bundt Cake with apple flavour glace icing.
For my hubby’s birthday in January I baked my usual carrot cake recipe in a traditional bundt pan and decorated it with cream cheese frosting, chopped nuts and some ready made carrot decorations.
My heart shaped bundt pan gets used at all times of the year, not just for Valentine’s Day! I baked Jamie Oliver’s Sticky Toffee Pudding from his latest book Comfort Food in my pan instead of in a traybake tin.
My piece of sticky toffee pudding with some sauce drizzled over. Perfect for a cold February dessert.

Keep watching this space, there will be more bundts to come in the future!

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Apple Pie Cake From The Boy Who Bakes

Not another apple related blog post?! Well it certainly feels like it at the moment but then again I have been inundated with apples.  The other day my next door neighbour came round with some apples.  He gave us two huge carrier bags full of apples from his tree in his garden. One bag of smaller apples is being eaten by my daughter’s horse, the others by me and my family here in North Yorkshire.

The other day I posted about baking a Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding nearly two weeks ago from the latest Great British Bake Off book but I still had loads of apples to use up.  I had been ill with a nasty cough so I hadn’t baked anything for nearly a week (a record for me!) But to me, Sunday lunch isn’t Sunday lunch without a pudding to finish it off especially in the colder weather.  So it had to be something with apples but what could I bake? I’d made apple cakes, apple crumbles, apple pies and was running out of ideas. I looked through my recipe books and although it looked very big for a Sunday lunch I couldn’t resist having a go at the Apple Pie Cake which is from Edd Kimber‘s recipe. This cake recipe is featured in his “The Boy Who Bakes” book.

I have always liked Edd and his style of baking ever since we first saw him on the very first series of The Great British Bake Off back in 2010.  His Red Velvet Cake from The Boy Who Bakes and his chocolate cake from his second book “Say It With Cake” are two of my favourite large cake recipes which I use time and time again.

Here’s how I made the Apple Pie Cake:

I needed to use three 20cm/ 8″ sandwich cake tins to make the apple pie cake. Here they are greased and lined with baking parchment circles from Lakeland.

The cake itself is actually created using a whisking method where the eggs are separated.  The air gets into the cake by whisking the volume into the yolks and then into the egg whites. I’m not as experienced at this method so I did wonder how it would turn out.

Flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon were sifted into a large bowl.
Flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon were sifted into a large bowl.
Butter and half the sugar were creamed together.
Butter and half the sugar were creamed together.
One by one four egg yolks were added and beaten in to the mixture.
One by one four egg yolks were added and beaten in to the mixture.
Then some vanilla extract was added in.
Then some vanilla extract was added in.
The egg whites were whisked together.
The egg whites were whisked together.
Hoping to achieve soft peak status!
Hoping to achieve soft peak status!
Adding the remains of the caster sugar to the mixture bit by bit.
Adding the remains of the caster sugar to the mixture bit by bit.
Folding the egg whites into the cake mixture.
Folding the egg whites into the cake mixture.
Then adding the dry ingredients.
Then adding the dry ingredients.
Sharing out the mixture equally  between the three tins.
Sharing out the mixture equally between the three tins.
Making the caramelised apples for the top and filling of the cake; butter, sugar, cinnamon and sliced apples heating slowly in the pan.
Making the caramelised apples for the top and filling of the cake; butter, sugar, cinnamon and sliced apples heating slowly in the pan.
Two out of three layers of apple cake!
Two out of three layers of apple cake!
The final one!
The final one!
The apples were then taken out of the sauce so that the sauce could thicken and caramelise.
The apples were then taken out of the sauce so that the sauce could thicken and caramelise.
The apples in their bowl cooling down
The apples in their bowl cooling down.
Building up the cake layer by layer, spreading on a layer of cinnamon cream cheese icing, topped by a layer of apples.
Building up the cake layer by layer, spreading on a layer of cinnamon cream cheese icing, topped by a layer of apples.
Two of the cakes turned out onto the cooling rack.
Two of the cakes turned out onto the cooling rack.
Ta[dah! The finished cake.  It tasted delicious- all the flavours of apple pie in cake form!
Ta[dah! The finished cake. It tasted delicious- all the flavours of apple pie in cake form!

Despite still feeling rough from my cough after last week I was delighted that the cake turned out well.  It tasted absolutely delicious and everyone enjoyed it. Even my son who complains he “doesn’t like apple cooked in anything” ate a second slice!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx