Jane’s Patisserie- Book Review.

Over the past couple of years I’ve discovered Jane’s Patisserie website with her delicious, foolproof recipes. Her cheesecake recipes are my absolute go-to, especially as cheesecakes always used to be a disaster when I made them before. Not any more. No more need for gelatine or for baking cheesecakes. I don’t need that with Jane’s recipes.

Jane’s Patisserie recipe book, published in August 2021.

Back in August, Jane brought out her recipe book with the same title as her website/ blog – Jane’s Patisserie and at first I was sceptical about buying it. After all why buy a book when the recipes are bound to be on the website. But thankfully, although there are several recipes from the website, the rest are actually specifically written for the book. A few recipes were actually created from Jane’s follower requests. I always find something I like on her website and I was pleased to say this book is no exception!

The book is split into nine main chapters: Cheesecakes, Cakes, Cupcakes and Muffins, Cookies, Breads and Doughnuts, Traybakes, Desserts, Tea Time and last but not least, Sweets. As well as the main chapters, there is a detailed introduction which is useful for novice bakers including ingredient guides and useful equipment and ingredients. At the beginning of every chapter, there is also an introduction. For example, in the Cheesecake chapter, Jane explains the ingredients she uses as a base for all her cheesecakes as well as the top tips for making the perfect one. The same goes for the other chapters in the book.

I used Jane’s online recipe to bake these Double Decker brownies to send to my son at uni. He regularly gets brownie and cookie parcels from me and shares them with his housemates.

What is in my Top Ten Recipes to bake?

  • No Bake Speculoos Cheesecake
  • Cookies and Cream Drip Cake
  • Vanilla Traybake
  • Honeycomb Cupcakes
  • S’mores Cookies
  • Cinnamon Rolls
  • Triple Chocolate Brownies
  • White Chocolate and Raspberry Tart
  • Malt Chocolate Fudge.
I love Jane’s cheesecake recipes and this one was for my daughter’s birthday last week. She wanted a birthday cheesecake instead of a cake. It contains Arran Gold which is a liqueur like Baileys but made with whisky from the Isle of Arran.
Last Christmas we used one of Jane’s cheesecake recipes as our Christmas pudding alternative. My kids don’t like Christmas pudding so we had a Lotus Biscoff cheesecake drizzled with chocolate sauce.

What recipes will I pass on?

  • Rhubarb Crumble Cheesecake (not that keen on rhubarb myself)
  • Brown Butter, Pecan and Chocolate Chip Cookies (sounds delicious but I can’t be bothered with browning butter!)
  • Doughnut Bites (you have to use a deep fat fryer and I don’t have one of those. I also don’t like deep frying things)
  • Rhubarb and Custard Blondies (for the same reason as above!)
Another favourite of Jane’s cheesecakes: this is a Mint cheesecake with Mint Lindt D’Or balls on top. Another Christmas favourite.

Jane’s Patisserie is one of those books where I know that I will get to use it to bake everything (apart from the four recipes above!) Jane has created a wealth of recipes using popular flavours and ingredients which are easy to obtain. No weird and strange flavour combos here and the bakes aren’t too over the top. As an experienced baker I find that her recipes are easily achievable and taste wonderful.

From the book I tested out Jane’s S’mores Cookies. They were absolutely delicious and I took them to work to share out. They contain marshmallows, chocolate chips and pieces of digestive biscuit.

I hope that there will be a follow up book in the future because judging by the huge success of Jane’s blog and her book sales so far, there will be a massive demand for it. I’m off to bake some brownies and blondies to take into work tomorrow using a couple of Jane’s recipes.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

A Bake For All Seasons #3: Banana and Peanut Butter Loaf.

Sunday October 10th 2021

My version of the Bake For All Seasons Banana, Tahini and Caramel Loaf- nothing like the original!!

I wanted to bake a cake for Sunday afternoon. I had been away for some of the weekend and we weren’t having a full blown Sunday roast but Mr S was going to cook his special steak with new potatoes and salad. I’ve been suffering a bit with my mental health recently. October has been a tricky month and I can’t wait for it to end. I know that baking helps lots of us who are struggling and I’m no exception. I didn’t really need any cake in the house but I needed to have that comforting ritual of baking and creating something.

A slice for Mr S to have with his afternoon cuppa.

I looked in the new Bake Off Book: A Bake For All Seasons to see if there was a simple Autumnal cake I could bake that afternoon that wasn’t too fancy or had weird ingredients I didn’t have in my cupboard. The only real contender was the Banana, Tahini and Caramel Loaf in the Autumn section of the book on page 158. I didn’t have any tahini paste in, though. The only ever time I bought it was a couple of years ago to make some hummous and the rest ended up getting chucked out as my own hummous tasted revolting! I thought what could give a similar effect that was in my cupboard and I thought maybe peanut butter would work. The top of the cake as seen in the recipe photo also shows the loaf sprinkled with caramel sesame seeds and a whole banana peeled and halved as a decoration. This did not appeal to me one bit so I left it off!

To line my loaf tin, I always use the pre-made loaf tin liners available from big supermarkets or shops like Lakeland! They save so much faff! When I had lined that, I melted some butter. When this was cooling, I whisked brown sugar and eggs together. Then this was added to the cooled butter, the peanut butter and some natural yoghurt. Finally I added some mashed bananas.

In another bowl I weighed out and mixed together some dry ingredients: self raising flour, baking powder and cinnamon then folded it carefully into the other ingredients. Finally the mixture was spooned into the the tin and then baked in the oven for around 50 minutes. This was slightly earlier than the recipe suggested but my oven seems to bake a lot quicker.

Leftovers to be cut up and put in a box for later.
I love using the ready made loaf tin liners from Lakeland.

I must admit I didn’t end up trying the banana loaf as I’ve been a bit off my food and under the weather this week. Not Covid, I hasten to add! Mr S had a piece and said it was nice although I pinched 3 of his breakfast bananas to use in the cake. By the time I felt a bit better, what was left of tthe cake had gone off and had to be binned.

I don’t think I’ll attempt to make this version of a banana loaf again unless I do have any left over tahini paste knocking around. I might buy some as Nigella has a tahini cake in one of her recipes from Cook, Eat, Repeat and it seems to be popular. I think I’ll stick to my favourite Annabel Karmel one I’ve been making since my kids were little as that always goes down well with everyone.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #24: Lemon Madeira Loaf

This post was written at the beginning of May believe it or not! It’s now the beginning of August and the first time I’ve logged onto WordPress in three months. That’s another story which I’ll explain in my next post. I just looked in my drafts and found it there. I cant understand why it was never published. Maybe I wasn’t concentrating. So here is the post as written on May 6th!

I looked at my original SmartCookieSam blog and realised I hadn’t added anything to it for ages! So I thought I’d better bake something from the Amazing Cakes book which fitted in around what we had in the cupboards and the fridge. I had three lemons nearly past their best so anything with lemons in was a winner! The original recipe also used orange zest but I didn’t have any. I had to keep to lemons only!

Madeira Cake is not from the island of Madeira but called so because it is a cake which was traditionally an accompaniment to Madeira wine. I must admit I’ve always wanted to go to Madeira, though as it looks such a beautiful place from photos. I can’t say I’ve tasted Madeira wine either! It’s been a while since I’ve baked a Madeira and I usually like to make them as a base for celebration cakes.

The Madeira loaf cake was simple to bake: butter, caster sugar, eggs and self raising flour with zest of lemon grated into the mixture. I then put it in a loaf tin liner and baked inside a loaf tin for just 55 minutes.

Once the cake had baked and cooled on the worktop, I made up some lemon glace icing and drizzled on the top of the cake.

To finish off the cake, it was meant to be topped with homemade candied citrus peel. I didn’t have time to make my own, so I cheated and used the last of a tub of jelly lemon slices I had in my cupboard. They have been a real favourite buy from Lakeland.

And ta-dah! Here are some pics of the finished cake!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #8: Iced Gingerbread Loaf

As the days grow colder and it gets into Autumn, I always like to think of gingerbread and other comforting bakes. I love gingerbread as it has a strong flavour and smells heavenly as it is baking. I especially like iced gingerbread as it reminds me of the ones I’ve eaten when I’ve been to Scotland on holiday.

On Saturday morning I had baked soda bread and wanted to make something else. I looked through the Amazing Cakes book and thought what had I got in the cupboard that also had a seasonal element to it. I had lots of golden syrup and treacle to use up so what better than the Sticky Gingerbread Loaf as made by Michael Chakraverty from last year’s Great British Bake Off. Michael’s recipe according to the recipe notes was “a family recipe that has been passed down to Michael from his great grandmother via his grandmother and mum” and was also one of the first cakes he and his mum baked together. I love how family memories can be created from baking and it’s exactly the same in my family.

First, the dry ingredients were weighed out and mixed together: flour and ground ginger. In another bowl I put bicarbonate of soda mixed with a bit of milk. The rest of the milk was put in a pan on the stove with some baking spread, brown sugar, golden syrup and treacle until it was melted.

When the melted mixture cooled a little, I mixed it all together and then put it into the prepared loaf tin. I used a loaf tin liner as they’re so much easier.

While the loaf was baking, I mixed up some lemon glace icing. This was just simply icing sugar and lemon juice mixed up and poured on top of the cake. I wanted a thick icing rather than a little drizzle and left it to set before I could dive into it!

I really enjoyed the taste of the gingerbread and it was perfect with a cuppa. I wish I could have another and another….

Happy Baking

Love Sam xx

Cherry And Almond Loaf

It was Friday afternoon and I wanted to bake something. I try to make different things but it always ends up being brownies. This week, though I hadn’t got any chocolate in and there was no way I was going out to our local Co-op just for chocolate. Even though restrictions have been lifted, I am still really anxious when going out and only go out to shops if I have to. I looked in my baking cupboard and saw I had most of a tub of glace cherries and some ground almonds. Cherries and almonds together sounded perfect, just like Cherry Bakewells! So the idea for a Cherry and Almond Loaf cake came about.

CHERRY AND ALMOND LOAF

You need a 2lb loaf tin (greased and lined or you can use a ready made loaf tin liner available from all good cookware shops)

Serves 8-12 depending on how generous you are!

Ingredients:

175g soft margarine, such as Stork

175g caster sugar

200g self raising flour, sifted

50g ground almonds

3 medium free range eggs

1 tsp almond extract

150g glace cherries

  1. Wash, rinse and thoroughly dry the cherries. Then cut them into halves. I like nice big chunks of cherries in my cakes. Rinse and dry them again as often you find syrup inside them as well! Toss the cherries into a tablespoonful of the self raising flour reserved for the rest of the cake. This should help to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake when cooked.
  2. Put all the ingredients (except for the cherries) into a large mixing bowl and mix together until well combined.
  3. Fold in the cherries.
  4. Spoon the mixture into your prepared loaf tin.
  5. Bake in the oven for 1- 1 1/4 hours at 180oC/ 160oC fan/ 350oF/ Gas 4. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

If you bake the recipe, do let me know if you like it. My daughter doesn’t like glace cherries but she thought that you could substitute chopped dried apricots instead. They would work well with ground almonds.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Marmalade Loaf Cake


It has been ages since I’ve baked using one of my precious Nordicware Bundt pans. I really miss using them but I haven’t had chance while we’ve been quarantined.  But last weekend I was happy to dig out my special fluted loaf pan and thought it would be great to test out a recipe in it. I’d also had a jar of St Dalfour Orange jam/ marmalade which I thought would be perfect to go in a loaf cake with a few nuts which needed using up.  This recipe is a bit of an inpromptu bake  which was hurriedly thought up on a Sunday afternoon.

So here we have Marmalade Loaf:

You will need a 2 lb loaf tin which you can line with either baking parchment or a special loaf tin liner which are available from most great cookery retailers. Or if you have a Nordicware Bundt Loaf pan you can use that.  I greased my pan carefully in the usual way with baking spray.

Ingredients:
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
175g soft light brown sugar (or demerera blitzed in a food processor)
100g chopped nuts (I used a mixture of walnuts and pecans as that’s what I had left)
175g softened, unsalted butter
3 medium free range eggs
150g of good quality marmalade or orange jam

  1. First, pre heat your oven to 180oC (fan 160o)/ 350oF or Gas 4.  Line or prepare your chosen baking tin.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and the ground cinnamon and mix it so it is evenly distributed.  Stir in the sugar and then add in the chopped nuts.
  3. Then add the softened butter to the bowl. 
  4. In a small bowl, lightly beat the three eggs together and then transfer them to the bowl with the other ingredients. Mix together until well combined.
  5. Finally, add in all but 25g of the marmalade.  The last 25g can be used later on to brush on the cake as a glaze.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tin and put in the oven. 
  7. Bake for 1- 1 1/4 hours but check that the cake is cooked thoroughly in the middle by testing with a skewer inserted into the centre.  If you see the cake looks like it’s getting too brown on top, you could always cover it with some foil to prevent it burning too much.
  8. Remove from the oven and after 5 minutes put the loaf onto a wire rack to cool for a further 5 minutes. 
  9. Warm the rest of the marmalade through by putting it in the microwave for 10 seconds.  If you prefer, gently heat it in a pan on the hob instead.  Add a tablespoonful of water to the mixture, stir it and then brush it all over the loaf. 
  10. Leave the loaf to cool completely.

  • The loaf can be served with or without being spread with butter.  The choice is yours!




  • I can’t believe how rubbish the photos are.  It was night time by the time I’d had chance to take a photo of the cake.  It did justice to the beautiful design of the Bundt pan but the giant pieces of orange peel distract from it a bit.  My son has just looked over at the picture as I’m typing now and said “What the hell is on that cake, they look like worms!”

    I chose to cut the cake up into eight large pieces.  Half of the slices were boxed up in twos and put outside on Bank Holiday Monday morning with some other bakes for my neighbours and local friends to pick up while still social distancing from my gate.  The other slices I put into a plastic box and have been put into the freezer to take out as and when we fancy a piece of cake.  I also did this with some banana bread and some fruit loaf.


    Let me know if you have tried the recipe and what you think of it.

    Stay safe!
    Happy Baking.
    Love Sam xx

    Nostalgic Bakes from Paul Hollywood’s “A Baker’s Life”

    The recent spate of snow days has made me want to stay in my warm kitchen and bake comfort food.  Never mind me trying to diet.  Forget that! When you feel cold and tired, all you want to do is to hibernate with a giant piece of flapjack in each hand!

    I ended not being able to work for three days due to the snow last week but then again I wasn’t the only one.  Then again it gave me chance to catch up with jobs and to try out some recipes from Paul Hollywood’s latest book A Baker’s Life.  I had got it at Christmas last year and had my eye on several things I wanted to test out.

    The book spans the five decades of Paul’s life so far from his childhood as the son of a baker in Merseyside right up to the present day as a judge on The Great British Bake Off.  Each chapter in the book concentrates on recipes from a certain time of life.  I wanted to start with the first chapter: Nostalgic Bakes from Paul’s early years.

    There were loads of recipes to choose from, including traditional favourites that we would all remember from our own childhoods.  Some of the recipes are perfect for actually making with children, such as Cornflake Cakes and Jam Tarts.  As well as these, there were also recipes for bakes that your grandma or mum may have made in years gone by.  The first recipe in the book was actually called My Mum’s Ginger Biscuits.  I absolutely love ginger biscuits and they remind me of the Yorkshire Ginger Biscuits my Nana Margaret would buy.  She would never bake them as she was a walking disaster in the kitchen.  If she could buy it in Marks and Spencer’s food hall, she would have it and pass it off as her own.

    Paul says in his recipe introduction: ” Not only are they a doddle to make, but they’ve got the right balance of being crispy and chewy.” The recipe was an old-fashioned melting method one, where the butter or margarine is melted in a saucepan on the hob with golden syrup and caster sugar. Then once the melted mixture was cooled enough to handle, then self raising flour and a beaten egg were added to the mixture.

    The mixture was then gathered up into a ball and made into a dough.  I separated the dough into about 24 pieces and spaced them out carefully on lined baking trays.  I put two trays in the oven at a time and watched them like a hawk. They could easily burn quickly after about 10 minutes.

    I always like my cookies on the chewy side and to be honest I would add tiny pieces of chopped stem ginger to the dough.  This version has the ginger flavour coming from ground ginger and wow, did my kitchen smell wonderful! I honestly don’t know how I managed to keep them from being scoffed instead of taking them into work.

    When the biscuits were cooling down on the rack, I decided to have a go at another recipe from the Nostalgic Bakes chapter.  This time it was for a Tea Loaf.  I have baked countless tea loaves in my time, including my own version of a Welsh Bara Brith which recipe is featured in the second Clandestine Club Cookbook A Year Of Cake.  I can’t resist a slice of tea loaf, slathered in butter and with a cup of my beloved Yorkshire Tea.  The recipe doesn’t feature any spices or citrus fruit zest but is crammed full of raisins, sultanas and currants.  I did not have any currants but made up the difference in weight with extra sultanas and raisins.  The dried fruit had been previously soaked in some strong Yorkshire Tea and to this I added self raising flour, demerara sugar, milk and a beaten egg.

    Once this was mixed up, I lined my 2 lb loaf tin with a special loaf tin liner and put it to bake in my fan oven.  I completely forgot that I also needed to bake some potato wedges to go along with the Cajun Chicken breasts cooking in the slow oven for our dinner that night.  So half way through the baking time I had to whip the oven door open and stuff the tray of wedges in on the shelf underneath the tea loaf.  Luckily they were both ready at the same time as I didn’t want the cake sinking.

    I left the cake to cool on the side with the ginger biscuits and then took them along to work the following day.  I left them in the staff room and found that half the biscuits had gone along with a couple of slices of cake when I popped in at lunchtime before going home.

    Next week I’m thinking of trying out some Millionaire’s Shortbread if I have time.

    Happy Baking

    Love Sam xx

    The Great British Bake Off Christmas- Jamaican Gingerbread Loaf.

    4th December 2017.

    Today being a Monday I really struggled to get out of bed this morning. I’d had a good night’s sleep until something woke me up at 4.30am. That was it, I was wide awake for an hour. The alarm was due to go off at 6am but of course I drifted back off to sleep just as I’d got back into the land of Nod! Then, could I get myself moving? Course I couldn’t. I’m not a morning person at the best of times. There’s only one type of work that would get me out of bed early and that’s when I’m baking! It doesn’t seem like work to me when you’re in the kitchen with music playing in the background.

    But needs must. I love being a teacher though some mornings I wish I could be beamed direct from my house to the school I’m at, especially with the horrendous traffic congestion I have round near where I live. This morning was no exception. My journey to school should have taken me 35 minutes. It took me nearer 50.

    Back home this afternoon I got out the mixing bowl and scales to test out another recipe from The Great British Bake Off Christmas. I love the spicy aroma of gingerbread at any time of the year but Christmas definitely lends itself to these flavours. I was really keen to try out the Jamaican Gingerbread loaf which was a perfect way of using up some treacle left over in a tin after baking some Parkin and also putting it in my Christmas cake. The loaf is an ideal bake to have as a standby, say if you have people popping over for a cuppa and it was really easy to make.

    To begin with you melt butter in a saucepan with some dark brown muscovado sugar, some treacle and some golden syrup. When this has melted you take it off the heat and leave it to cool. In another bowl you weigh out some plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger and some mixed spice. Add the melted mixture to it, along with a beaten egg and then fold in the flour mixture. Finally add in some chopped stem ginger pieces.

    I always use pre made loaf tin liners which save me a lot of faffing about. The mixture was poured into the prepared loaf tin and put in the oven at about 160oC for about 45-50 minutes. Unfortunately I set the oven timer to 45 minutes but promptly forgot to switch it on. I suddenly remembered about the loaf when I could smell gingerbread coming from the kitchen. Luckily it came out of the oven just in time and although had sunk slightly in the middle, it looked wonderful.

    After about an hour of cooling I cut the loaf up into 8 generous slices. It took all my willpower not to scoff a slice there and then. I boxed up the loaf and decided to take it with me to work tomorrow to leave in the staff room.

    Happy Baking!

    Love Sam xx

    Chocolate Cherry Bakewell Loaf

    It’s been a couple of months at least since I’ve been to a Clandestine Cake Club event.  I’ve been working full time and I haven’t baked much recently.  The Clandestine Cake Club’s VCake Events are a fantastic idea if you can’t get to an event but you still want to bake.  I love taking part in them and I baked a cake.  But unfortunately, I forgot to email my cake photos to the Club’s founder, Lynn Hill so my cake wasn’t included in the event write up.

    The  event write up is featured on the Clandestine Cake Club website and the link is here  Magazines, Leaflets and Booklets 

    The idea was that many people collect or stash recipes gleaned from magazines, leaflets and booklets. I do. I buy Good Food magazine and Delicious magazine but only get chance to cook recipes out of them sometimes.  I’m always picking up recipe leaflets and booklets but never seem to get round to cooking anything from them. This event was such a good idea to get you searching through those cake recipes you wish you had had chance to bake.  Funnily enough this month’s Good Food magazine came with a free cake recipe booklet to celebrate the magazine’s 300th issue! I’ve not been buying all of those, I was only 18 when the first issue of Good Food mag came out and as a sixth former cooking was the last thing I was interested in!

    There were several recipes I wanted to try in the booklet but the one that I thought my whole family would eat was the Chocolate Cherry Bakewell Loaf.  All the flavours of a bakewell tart but in a loaf form and with chocolate as well.  Bound to be a hit!

    Last Sunday I chose to bake this, along with some scones.  Mr SmartCookieSam was out at a Classic Car show and my two grown up children were at work. So it was me on my lonesome! Perfect opportunity to get my apron on and the scales out, especially as the weather has been so rubbish.

    Recipe as featured in Good Food Magazine.

    Cuts into 8-10 slices.

    Ingredients:

    200g softened butter

    140g fresh, stoned and halved cherries *

    140g plain flour

    200g golden caster sugar

    3 medium eggs

    1 1/2 tsp baking powder

    75g ground almonds

    2 tbsp milk

    1 tsp each of vanilla and almond extracts

    200g dark or milk chocolate, chopped.

    2 tbsp toasted, flaked almonds.

    • First, heat the oven to 160oC/ 140oC fan/ Gas Mark 3.  Line a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment.  I swear by the ready made loaf tin liners readily available from shops like Lakeland.
    • Now to deal with the cherries.  If you are using fresh cherries, you need to wash, destone and half them first.  Then toss them in a tablespoonful of the flour from the quantity already weighed out.  If you are choosing to use glace cherries like I did, then thoroughly wash them to get the syrup off.  Then pat dry on a paper towel, halve them, rinse and dry again.  Then toss in a tablespoonful of flour.
    • Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.  When this is done, add the eggs one by one and mix well between each addition.
    • Fold in the rest of the flour, the baking powder and the ground almonds.
    • Stir in the milk, the two extracts and half of the chocolate.  Then add in the cherries.
    • Bake in the oven for 1 hour 10 minutes approx or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
    • Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack to cool down completely.
    • When the cake has cooled down, melt the remaining chocolate in the microwave and drizzle or pipe it on top of the cake.
    • Scatter on top with toasted, flaked almonds.
    • Wait for the chocolate on top to set a bit before slicing the cake.

    Now as I’m always doing things in a hurry or have a zillion things on the go at once, I was a little bit disappointed to find my chocolate and cherries had sunk to the bottom of the cake.  I’ve made cherry cakes before which have remained in the middle.  So why not this one? I thoroughly rinsed and dried the cherries as well as tossing them in flour.  Maybe it was the rest of the cake mixture.  Didn’t spoil the taste of the cake though.  I also didn’t bother with adding toasted almond flakes to the top of the cake.

    I demolished a slice of this gorgeous cake with a cup of tea on that Sunday afternoon while reading a magazine.  It had the almond flavour running through it and tasted just like a cherry bakewell cake should taste with the added dimension of dark chocolate.  Cherries and chocolate work so well together.  I will definitely make this cake again as my family really enjoyed it.  The remainder froze well, although the cake apparently does keep in a cake tin for up to four days.

    Happy Baking!

    Love Sam xx