Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Lemon balm loaf cake

Lemon balm is one of those herbs that once you have it you always will, it will happily self seed if it likes you garden and can become a bit of a pest. It has limited uses such as in a tea or a nice refreshing bath, so I thought I would have a go at using some in a cake recipe. Lemon balm or melissa for the unintiated has a lemon sherbet flavour with a herby back end on the tongue, so should be a perfect marriage for a traditional lemon drizzle cake.

Melissa is a very old fashioned herb and would have been a typical inclusion in the traditional cottage garden which is the style of gardening I favour, it has none discript white flowers, followed by loads of tiny dark seeds, which should be cut off unless you want to commercial harvest the plant.

I have tried cooking with the herb before but I don't have particularly fond memories of the result, but I think I used the older leaves which tend to go woody and be less flavourful. 

So firstly choose your favourite lemon drizzle cake and then add to the normal lemon zest in the sponge mix an additional 2tbsp of finely chopped lemon balm leaves. You normally make a lemon syrup to make the drizzle so I also added chopped lemon balm to my syrup too. The result is a moist lemony herby cake, very pleasant and a very good keeper if wrapped in foil and stored in a cool place. 

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Bean Drinking Coffee tasting experience

Today has been a busy day, so a caffeine kick has been welcome,  A great local coffee bar has been running a tasting experience so we dropped by to check out the action.

Bean Drinking is run by the lovely Tom and his wife Zoe and is a great venue for a snack or coffee, they are great at supporting the local community and are often the venue for a variety of events such as cake clubs or knit and knatter groups.

If you are ever in the area please pay them a call, support your local barista !

Yogurt Lemon Drizzle for World Baking day

Well its World Baking Day , the idea being that you bake something, take a photo of it somewhere unusual and then tweet it using the #caking ! Well you all know me, anything for a bit of fun and also anything that involves baking is right up my street.

So this weekends bake of Lemon Drizzle Cake is my contribution, a deliciously light but moist cake with a good lemon flavour which features yogurt as an unusual twist on the norm.

Lemon Drizzle in the Greenhouse with tomato

  • 175g softened butter or quality vegetable margarine
  • 175g caster sugar
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons - unwaxed
  • 120g natural yogurt
  • 2 large eggs - free range
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp elderflower cordial
  • Cream your butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy
  • Oil spray a loose bottomed case tin and base line
  • Preheat your oven to 180C
  • Add the lemon zest and yogurt and eggs to the sugar / butter mixture
  • Mix well
  • Add the Flour and mix again, then spoon into your tin
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until well risen and golden and cooked when tested with a cocktail stick
  • Now allow to cool slighty and then remove from tin
  • Meanwhile simmer the lemon juice and granulated sugar in a small pan until the sugar has dissolved and the volume reduced to a syrup
  • Using a cocktail stick prick all over the top of your cake and then pour on the syrup
  • Now cool fully
  • Once fully cooled, mix the icing sugar and elderflower cordial to make a runny paste, drizzle all over the top of your cake.

Fantastic Food Show 2012

Phew , I am back from a busy visit to this years Fantastic Food Show at Ewood Park, Blackburn. This increasingly popular event features some fabulous local producers and retailers from the North West of England. 
More Artisan stall - delicious real bread
Its also a great opportunity for a food blogger like myself to catch up with with my favourite local producers and put faces to twitter names, also It is great to see more and more people becoming interested in where there food comes from and how it is produced.

Leagrams Cheese , yes that's the legendary Bob  Kitchen ! 
Here are a few piccies of what I bought and the general ambiance of the day, I am also caught on camera hobnobbing with Matthew Fort and Tom Parker Bowles. I also purchased some Bobs Bangers, loads more bread from More Artisan and some Black Pudding.

The elusive foodie Phil !

Tom Parker Bowles, myself and Matthew Fort 

Nigel Howarth demonstrating his BBQ technique 

Fabulous local produce

Chocolate assortment from The Chocolate Cafe

The fabulous "Fourcaccia" from More Artisan

Leagram Organic Cheese

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Wholemeal Rhubarb Yogurt cake

Rhubarb that great standby ingredient from the garden for deserts and cakes, this easy recipe is not too sweet and can be enjoyed both as a cake or a dessert if serve with custard or cream.


  • 3 large sticks of rhubarb, finely chopped into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup softened butter or pure vegetable margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • Good pinch of ground cardamon
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup plain white flour
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 cup plain live yogurt
  • Preheat your oven to 180c
  • Oil a shallow tin approx 9 by 12 inches
  • Cream your butter and sugar 
  • Add your egg and vanilla and incorporate well
  • Now add your flours and bicarb and salt
  • Lastly add your yogurt, mix well and then stir in your rhubarb
  • Tip into your prepared tin and level, it is quite a stiff mixture
  • Bake until golden and cooked through when tested with a cocktail stick
  • Cool in the tin, will store for a few days but this is quite a moist cake so best eaten soon.

Piadina - Italian Flatbread

I love nothing better than making my own bread, not that its always totally successful, this is one recipe however that does not disappoint. Piadina from the "Romagna" region of Italy is a doddle to make and makes a great accompaniment to dips, olives, soup, proscuttio, etc. They are served in Italy filled with sweet and savoury fillings, the original street food. This recipe features mixed herbs, but if you are going for a sweet filling then miss this out.


  • 180g strong white bread flour
  • 100ml ish warm water ( you might need a bit more depends on your flour)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1tsp mixed herbs
  • 1tbsp olive oil, plus more for oiling
  • Sieve your flour, herbs and salt into bowl
  • Mix your water and oil in a jug and pour into your flour mix
  • Bring together into a dough ball
  • Knead for about 5 minutes on a floured or oiled surface
  • Allow to rest for about 20 minutes (may be longer) covered with a tea towel in an oiled bowl
  • Cut into 4 pieces and shape / roll into rounds about the size of your largest frying pan
  • Oil and preheat your frying pan
  • Cook each round for approx 2 -3 minutes on each side, until you have some nice golden spots 
  • Then turn and cook the other side
  • Serve hot or cold

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Potato and lovage soup

Well its May and its unseasonably cold, after a morning in the garden I decided to make this quick and easy soup. I had noticed that one of my lovage plants was in lush fresh leafy growth so a recipe that would use this bounty was in order. Lovage is a herb which grows easily in my Lancashire garden and seems to enjoy having a moist position, its flavour is a yeasty celery , its seeds are used in southern european cuisine. The soup was whipped up very quickly.


  • Potatoes - peeled, chopped into small cubes
  • Onion, peeled finely chopped
  • Lovage leaves - go carefully its quite strong in flavour, finely shredded
  • Vegetable stock
  • Butter / Oil
  • Heat your oil / butter in large saucepan
  • Gently fry your onion for 2 minutes
  • Now add your chopped potatoes
  • Stir and allow to sweat for a few minutes
  • Add the shredded lovage leave and the vegetable stock to just cover
  • Bring to boil and simmer until the vegetables are cooked
  • Taste for seasoning , add if required and either serve as it is or partially blended if you like a thicker soup.
  • Garnish with a whole lovage leaf

Monday, 7 May 2012

Fruity Mocha vegan cake

Our household is the proud new owner of 3 new chickens to add to the existing flock of hens we already have. The old girls are still laying but their production is dropping off that why we have added to our flock.So this case is ideal if you don't have any eggs in or your hens are on a go slow. This recipe like my earlier vinegar cake recipe uses flavoured vinegar to give lift to the cake and to replace the eggs. Its also low fat as well as the recipe has a very small quantity of oil in it.

Like all vinegar cakes I have the feeling that the cake will improve with a couple of days wrapped in foil. The cake smelt delicious whilst baking pleasantly scenting the house, the original recipe used raspberry preserve and vinegar, however I substituted homemade strawberry jam and homemade strawberry vinegar as thats what I had, I also used instant coffee to enhance the the cocoa in the cake.


  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 2tsp strawberry vinegar mixed with 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup strong instant coffee 
  • 3/4 cup strawberry jam 
  • Sieve the flour, cocoa, sugar and bicarb into a large bowl
  • Preheat your oven to about 180c, if fan about 160c
  • Grease and base line a loose bottom cake tin
  • Mix all the wet ingredients with the dry , work quickly and ensure everything is well mixed 
  • Your batter will be fairly stiff, dollop into your prepared tin and level
  • Bake for approx 45 minutes until tested cooked with a skewer
  • Allow to cool in tin
  • Wrap and store for a couple of days before eating
  • Delicious served alone or if you are not vegan yoghurt or creme fraiche.
I am sumbmitting this recipe for June 2012 - We should Cocoa -coffee challenge

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

CCC No 6 - English Country Garden Cake

The theme for this session of the South Lancashire Clandestine Cake club was "English Country Garden" a suitable theme despite the unseasonal weather. Our venue was Suzanna's at Little Scotland, Blackrod a country house restaurant. We were lucky to have a gorgeous selection of cakes on the evening ranging from a Lemon and poppy seed cake to apple and elderflower.

I used my Spicy Courgette Cake recipe as the cake base for this cake , the recipe is available on the link to an earlier posting and then decorated as a country vegetable garden. I was mostly inspired by the great Fiona Cairns, the royal wedding cake maker. 

I covered the courgette cake with vanilla butter cream on the top and sides, I then used cut up "matchmaker" style chocolate sticks in orange to create a rustic fence round the garden. I then cut out to vegetable beds from chocolate regal ice and surrounded these with chocolate vermicelli.

I then created vegetables using a combination of ready coloured and home coloured fondant icing and then shaped to create the different vegetables, I also used a sweet I located on my local market as a berry bush and spaghetti to create canes for a climbing vegetable. All in all the decorating took about and hour and a half a lot longer than I normally take to decorate a cake, I enjoyed the decorating and was particularly happy to feature vegetables as this is something I enjoy growing as well. 

The decorated cake was very popular at cake club and with my work colleagues who enjoyed the leftovers.

Foxholes at Runshaw College

Our local college has a training restaurant which I first visited probably about 10 years ago. A repeat visit was in order so many months ago I booked a place on one of their themed evenings where the students plan an evening of food and entertainment normally to raise money for charity. The training restaurant has is open a couple of days a week for lunch and dinner, so you have to book well ahead as the food is very inexpensive for the standard.

So "Flavours of Eastern Europe" was our theme, intrigued we arrived to a complimentary welcome cocktail (choice of alcoholic / non alcoholic), the building is a fairly utilitarian but the students have made an effort to make it more welcoming and attractive. We waited to be seated in a busy lounge area, after a pretty short wait we were seated and asked to choose from the menu , which had 3 starters , 3 mains and 3 desserts all with a suitably eastern european theme. The table was attractively decorated with fresh flowers and themed napkins and a nice touch was a bottle of tap water, we also had some lovely fresh bread delivered.

Our starters arrived after a pretty short wait to be delivered by a pretty nervous young waitress, I had chosen  roll mops of pickled herring which was served with brown bread and butter and cucumber. This arrived attractively presented on a white  platter each curl of herring sat on a flower of cucumber, the herring was stuffed with sweet spicy onions, delicious and healthy too. Mr B had the borsch, fairly chunky in texture, well flavoured and served with a dollop of sour cream on top.

On to the mains, we had both chosen the goulash, this arrived served in a dinky little saucepan with rice and rosti , we also had a dish of wonderful steamed cabbage and grilled to tomatoes to accompany. The food was tasty and well flavoured, the odd piece of beef could have been a little more tender but all in all pretty good.

On to the desserts, I had chosen Polish Honey cake , which was a moist little tower of cake topped with a cream swirl and accompanied with a fruit jelly terrine and a vanilla sauce. Mr B's dessert was a coffee mousse topped with a crisp caramel swirl, the mousse was worthy of a fine dining restaurant.

Once we had finished our meal, we were delivered 3 samples of eastern european beers to match against one of three descriptions, we got all ours correct after some deliberation and won a bottle of one of the beers.

We had a delightful evening and look forward to returning in the future. Apologies for no photos had camera problems.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...