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Yogurt Cake

27 Mar

This cake is inspired; simple, light, moist and tasty. A magical alchemy of yogurt, flour, eggs, sugar and oil make this.

  • 1 cup yogurt (200ml)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 cups sugar (300ml)
  • 1/2 cup oil (100ml)
  • 3 cups flour (600ml)
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Heat an oven to 180-200c (medium-hot).
Bung all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat together to form a thick batter. It does not seem to matter which order you put the ingredients in, though for some reason I choose to put the first 4 ingredients in the bowl and beat together before adding the flour and baking powder but it works just as well, as far as I can tell, in any order.
Grease the bottom of a cake tin with a tiny amount of butter or oil and line with a sheet of baking paper cut to size. Pour the batter into the tin and pop into the oven on the lowest shelf. Cook for 30 minutes (in a fan oven and up to 45 minutes in a conventional one) or until a skewer pushed into the cake comes out clean. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack (if you can wait that long it is delicious warm).

Recipe Source I got the recipe from an organic miller, at the annual forgotten fruit market in St. Jean du Gard last winter, where I bought ‘petit épeautre’ flour. The miller had made this cake to demonstrate the flour, known as einkorn wheat in English (Triticum monococcum) and thought to be the oldest and most primitive cultivated wheat. The recipe I was given never quite worked, it was too wet and sweet but I liked the idea of the cake and the taste of the flour and worked on it to get a better consistency and now the balance is just right. I ran out of petit épeautre ages ago and now use just plain patisserie flour or self-raising flour and leave out the baking powder and it still tastes great.
Variations for an aromatic vanilla flavoured cake use vanilla sugar instead of plain or add the grated zest of an orange for a delicious orangey tang.
Note I used cups of 200ml volume and a 26cm diameter cake tin but this recipe is a relational one and if you use a smaller cake tin you could reduce the volume. The original recipe was given to me in the measurement of yogurt pots (150ml) 1 yogurt pot and 3 eggs (1 egg = 50ml) which made the batter too eggy and wet so I have reduced the quantity of eggs and 1 egg to 100ml turns out perfectly.



2 Jan

These delicious little French cakes were an absolute hit with the kids this christmas and much to everyone’s delight, even Rachel can knock a set out in 15 minutes flat. They are such a doddle, no measuriung necessary, no fancy processes, they bake in 10 minutes and taste divine. 
To make a batch of 8-10 Madalenes

  • 1 egg
  • butter 
  • sugar
  • self-raising flour (or plain flour plus 1/2 tsp baking powder)

Break an egg into a bowl or jug, add roughly the same volume (about 2 tbsp) of sugar and butter and flour. Beat together vigorously to form a thick batter. Spoon the mixture into the tins or cases and bake in a medium-hot oven for 10 minutes. Dust with icing sugar, just for the fun of it, and eat straight away.
For a larger volume (about 24 cakes) I use 3-4 eggs and 120g of each of the other ingredients

Note Madalenes are traditionally cooked in special trays or bun tins with a scalloped shape but you can cook them in any small mould tin or paper cases. It might take a little practice to get the consistency right for your ingredients the size of the eggs, the flour and the consistency of the butter all make a difference. If softened butter is used the consistency of the finished cakes will be smooth and even but I prefer the texture if hard butter is used and is just chopped finely with a knife.

Coconut Cake

6 Jul

I love coconut and I have been trying to come up with a cake that is really coconutty and succulent. I am not a real cake eater but for some reason I’ve been craving cake for the past few weeks. I’ve found lots of recipes but in the end none of them quite did the trick so this recipe came about by experimenting until I got what I wanted.

Prep less than 10 minutes cooking 40 minutes

* 100g butter
* 125g vanilla sugar
* 2 large or 3 small eggs
* 160g self raising flour
* 100g desiccated coconut
* 100 ml coconut milk
* 1/2 tsp baking powder

Topping 1 tbsp each of desiccated coconut and caster sugar.

Put the coconut and coconut milk in a bowl to soak. Melt the butter in another large bowl over a pan of hot water or in the microwave for 50 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until it turns a lighter colour. Beat in the eggs. Stir in the coconut then sift in the flour. Stir vigorously to mix well, the mixture should be a soft dropping consistency. Butter a 2 lb loaf tin or ceramic loaf dish and line the bottom with baking paper. Spoon in the mixture, sprinkle coconut and sugar over the top, and bake in a preheated oven 180c, for 35-40 minutes or thereabouts. Test the cake by inserting a bamboo skewer if it comes out clean the cake is cooked through. Leave it in the pan to cool for 10 minutes before turning out. Delicious with a cup of tea or coconut ice-cream on the side.

Cook’s tip
If you use a metal loaf tin the chances are that the bottom and sides of the cake can get a little singed. If you use a ceramic one the cake will cook more evenly and gently.

1. Cardamon Infuse 6 cardamon pods in the coconut milk for an unusual cardamon flavour to the cake.
2. Almond Replace 25g of the coconut with 25g of ground almonds for more aromatic and nutty cake.
3. Vanilla Add a few drops of vanilla essence for a more pronounced vanilla flavour or instead of the vanilla sugar.

This recipe was originally posted on on 6/7/2008.

Fruity Fairy Cakes

28 Jun

Sweet, light and fluffy sponge cake baked in little cases with fresh fruit. These yummy morsels make a delicious breakfast or tea-time snack.
  • fresh fruit
  • 100g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour (or 100g plain flour and 1 tsp baking powder)
Heat the oven to 190c, 375F, Gas 5. Wash the fruit, stone and Cut into pieces, and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and gradually stir in the sieved flour, mix well.
Set out 18-30 paper cases on a large baking tray and put a few pieces of fruit in the bottom of each case. Carefully spoon a small amount of mixture into each case and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown at the edges and firm.
Use aromatic fruit that is not too watery such as: cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, black currants.
Recipe source
The original sponge mixture recipe came from a packet of self-raining flour many years ago and is a good basic cake mix to know.

Pavlova with Red Fruit

23 Jun

This is my mum’s recipe for her amazing Pavlova. It is the most delicious dessert, it just melts in the mouth and no matter how much you have stuffed yourself you can always find room for a little slice of this desert. She usually makes it topped with grapes marinated in sherry and sugar but as it is our season for red currants, cherries and strawberries I made a red fruit topping. I am sure my mum would want me to point out that my version is a poor relative of the real thing; hers has a thick meringue base, so thick there is a pillow of soft squishy meringue inside the crisp sweet shell, the cream is thick and light with a hint of sherry and the fruit is arranged perfectly in alternating black and green grape circles. I did try but I didn’t whip the cream enough, I used granulated sugar so I had to beat it into the egg whites oops, I was too heavy handed so no soft pillow of meringue and I am still having trouble getting to grips with my fan-assisted, uncontrollable monster of an oven so all in all a pretty rubbish attempt. The good thing to know dear reader is that this recipe is indestructible and despite making a hash of following my mum’s recipe myself it came out tasting delicious so you can’t really loose giving this recipe a try and I can only get better with my next try.

  • 3 egg whites (large)
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 level tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp white vinegarTopping
  • 284ml whipping cream
  • grapes green and black
  • 1 tbsp sherry or port
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 150c. Prepare a baking sheet by rinsing in water and while still wet lay a sheet of grease proof paper (baking parchment) over it. Whisk the egg whites until a soft peak forms. Mix together the vinegar and cornflour and fold ‘gently’ into the egg whites along with the sugar. Use a spatula to scrape the mixture out onto the baking sheet and spread out to form a large circle. Put on a low shelf in the oven and reduce the temperature to 140c. Bake for 1 hour turn the oven off and leave to cool slowly in the oven. (NB in my oven, which is a law unto itself, it takes about 30mins before it starts to burn!!!!) but I’ve kept my mum’s instructions intact in this recipe and hope it works for other people.

Meanwhile cut the grapes in half and remove any pips. Put the grapes in a bowl and add the alcohol and sugar. Leave to marinade for a couple of hours.

When you are ready to decorate whip the cream until thick and spreadable. Drain the liquid from the grapes and stir into the cream. Remove the pavlova from the oven. Get a serving plate and gently place it over the pavlova then turn over so that the plat is resting right side on the counter and the pavlova is crust side down on the plate. Gentle peel off the parchment, spread the cream in a thick layer over the surface and decorate with the fruit. Chill until ready to serve.

Turkish Shortbread

21 Jun

Deliciously light and melt in the mouth these shortbreads are a wonderful treat at tea time. They are also quick and easy to make. The recipe for these lovely biscuits, Un Kurabiyesi, came from the excellent Binnur’s Turkish Cook Book, and Binnur kindly gave me permission to post her recipe here. I have had to adjust it though so my recipe is slightly different to Binur’s because I had trouble translating the measurements into metric. It may be a little off but I’ve tried these biscuits a few times now, made some adjustments, and they taste fantastic and hopefully true to the originals in spirit if not in taste.

Makes about 20 biscuits

* 200g unsalted butter
* 125g caster sugar
* 1 tsp vanilla essence
* 250g flour
* 1/2 tsp baking powder
* icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to a medium temperature 180C (375 F). Take the butter out of the fridge and set it aside to warm up to room temperature.
Beat the butter and caster sugar together until creamy. Stir in the vanilla essence, then carefully add the flour & baking powder. Use a sieve to add air and remove any lumps when adding the flour. Stir the mixture well. Form small balls, the size of a walnut, with your hands and lay on a baking sheet leaving 3 or 4 cm of space surrounding each biscuit. Using the back of a fork roll the fork across the top of each round of dough to press down and make a series of lines to indent the top. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with icing sugar. Leave to cool before storing in an airtight box or jar.

Note on changes
I just checked with Binnur’s original recipe again and I’ve ended up with 50g less butter and used caster sugar instead of icing sugar. (more butter resulted in flat biscuits but that could be because I used caster sugar instead of icing sugar). The result is great but if you want to try the authentic version change it back.

This recipe was originally posted on on 21/10/2008.

Drop Scones

30 Apr

I had a craving for some old fashioned Scottish cooking and made these for breakfast the other day. Simply delicious served with a slice of cold butter, some jam or a dollop of cream, for breakfast or a mid morning snack with a cup of tea.

225g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
50g vanilla sugar
2 eggs beaten
275ml milk

Sift the flour, bicarb and cream of tartar into a bowl. Add the sugar (use ordinary granulated sugar if you have no vanilla sugar). Stir in the eggs and milk and beat to form a smooth batter. Gently heat a large frying or griddle pan and brush with a little light flavoured vegetable oil. Drop spoonfuls onto the pan, spaced out so they do not touch as they spread. Cook for about 3 minutes or until bubbles start to rise then turn each scone over with a spatula and cook for another minute or so. Serve hot or cold.

To make vanilla sugar simply put a vanilla pod in a jar of sugar and after a couple of weeks the sugar will be infused with the aroma of vanilla. For a stronger tasting vanilla sugar put the pod and sugar in a food processor and whizz until the vanilla is broken up into the sugar. Store in an airtight jar.

Cream of tartar is not something you can find easily in France. My mum brought me a little jar on a visit a while back. If can’t get hold of cream of tartar use double the measure of bicarbonate of soda.

This recipe was originally posted on on 30/4/2007.

Sesame & Oat Biscuits

6 Apr

I like anything made with oats, must be my Scottish upbringing, and this recipe came from a book called Scottish Cakes & Baking. I’ve changed it somewhat by adding the sesame seeds, not very Scottish I know but they do add great flavour and texture. I also reduced the amount of sugar, the original recipe called for 150g, which made the biscuits too sweet for me. The result are delicious, sweet, nutty, crisp but, with a little bit of chew in the middle, biscuits. Very simple to make and I love them.
Makes about 18
* 150g rolled oats
* 110g sugar
* 2-3 tbsp sesame seeds
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 100g butter
* 1 egg

Preheat an oven to 200c, 400f, Gas 6.
Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl, melt the butter in a microwave or pan and stir into the mix, beat the egg and stir it in. Use a teaspoon to spoon out dollops of the mix onto baking sheets, leaving enough room for the biscuits to spread, and bake until golden brown and crisp at the edges. (it takes 7-10 minutes in my oven but the thing is a law unto itself). Cool on the tray for a minute or so then lift off and finish cooling on a cooling rack if you’ve got one. I use an insert from a roasting pan.

I tried adding pounded unsalted peanuts to one batch and they were delicious too.

Recipe Source
I based this recipe on one I found for Oaty Thins in Scottish Cakes and Baking Dione Pattullo, 1980, Pub; Johnston & Bacon, Cassell ISBN 0 7179 4273 2, although I have changed it quite a bit so it has less sugar and butter and has the addition of seds or nuts.

This recipe was originally posted on on 6/4/2008.


14 Mar

These little almond biscuits are divine, crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside and with an almond treasure on the top. This is my mum’s recipe, although it may have originally come from a book, and one of the highlights from my childhood, something my mum made as a special treat for us kids. To this day I have not tasted better macaroons, even in Italy. She brought the recipe over last visit along with the sheets of rice paper so I could make them.

Makes 20-25 biscuits
* 2 large egg whites
* 115g (4oz) ground almonds
* 225g (8oz) caster sugar
* 30g (1oz) ground rice
* 25 almonds
* rice paper sheets

Put the almonds in a bowl and cover with boiling water leave for twenty minutes or so and when cooled rub the skins off. Whisk the egg whites until peaks form then gently fold in the almonds, sugar and ground rice. Place a sheet of rice paper on each baking tray (I used 2 trays). Use a teaspoon to form small heaps evenly on a baking sheet lined with rice paper. Press an almond into the centre of each.
Bake in the lower middle of a medium oven for 20-25 mins Gas 4 / 180c / 350F until lightly golden. Make sure not to over cook them they should be just turning golden and still be a little soft when you take them out of the oven. Leave to cool then tear the biscuits apart to separate.

This recipe was originally posted on www.masdudiable.comon 14/10/2008.

Almond Fairy Cakes

16 Feb

These scrummy little cakes look like they belong at a kids party but I made these for our breakfast. I don’t often make sweet stuff but I’ve been trying to come up with some special treats for when my little niece comes to visit at Easter. These fairy cakes were based on a recipe for French Madeleines which I poked around with until I got to these almondy cakes.

Makes about 30

* 125g butter
* 125g vanilla sugar (caster sugar with a vanilla pod stored in it)
* 4 large eggs or 5 medium
* 80g flour
* 120g ground almonds
* 2 drops vanilla essence
* 1 tsp baking powder

Melt the butter gently then leave to cool. Meanwhile put the sugar and vanilla essence into a mixing bowl. Break in the eggs, beating as you go and beat until frothy. Add the melted butter carefully and beat well then add the flour, almonds and baking powder. Half fill each little case and pop into a preheated oven. Bake in a medium hot oven for 7-10 minutes or until the tops turn a golden colour and the cakes are cooked through.

Variation: Add grated zest of a lemon instead of vanilla essence

This recipe was originally posted on on 16/2/2008.