Agnes’ Berry Crumble Cake

I’ve been trying to pick which of my many story-ideas is going to be my next project this weekend. Trying to work out which of the beginnings has the most mileage for becoming a novel. Or at least a novella. It’s been a bit disappointing. So many starts, and different characters, and not much clue for where any of them are going!

So today, in between my literary endeavours, I’ve also been baking. I was given this recipe by my colleague Agnes. I have no idea where she found it, but it’s wonderfully delicious (even if I think perhaps I took it out a little early, or maybe it was slightly too small a tin). It isn’t the simplest recipe, but oh, so worth it!

Berry Crumble Cake

Step One

You’ll need:

400g plain flour

250g butter

 2tsp baking powder

3 tbsp icing sugar

5 egg yolks (save the whites: you’ll need them later)

Make ‘breadcrumbs’ with the butter and dry ingredients, then add the egg yolks. If it seems bit dry (it did to me) add a splash or two of water.

Divide into two portions, roughly 60:40, and freeze it for at least a few hours, preferably overnight. I left it for a morning.

Prepare your baking tray, and grate the larger portion into it, pushing it down to make it even, and bake for about 15 minutes at 190C. Leave to cool while you do step 2.

Step Two

You’ll need:

  5 egg whites you saved from earlier

170g sugar, adjusted if using sweetened custard powder

1 tbsp vanilla essence

80g custard powder

125ml sunflower oil

Berries of your choice, small or chopped up

Icing sugar to decorate, optional

Whisk the egg whites, then slowly add in the sugar and vanilla essence. Add in the custards powder while mixing, and then whisk in the oil. Pour evenly over the baked cake base and dot the berries on top – if using raspberries, my instructions were to poke them in point down. Over the top grate the other frozen cake-mix.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 190C. Allow to cool and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Cheese Biscuits

I like a simple recipe. In fact, the simpler the better.

So I like this recipe. It’s three basic ingredients, with optional herbs and pepper: flour, grated cheese, butter. Rub the butter into the cheese and flour until it’s a good pastry-texture dough. Chill for about an hour before rolling out and baking at 180C for 10-15 minutes.

Ratios: 150g flour, to 120g butter, and 130g cheese – some variety of Italian hard cheese is best, but I’ve used cheddar with success before.

Cheese Biscuits

Try not to eat them all at once…


Banana Flapjack

I am hugely fond of flapjack. I like to think of it as finger-food porridge, the sort you can eat cold. And since porridge is so good for you, therefore so is flapjack.

I’ve been taking good-sized chunks with work for lunch – I can’t be doing with making sandwiches every morning. With flapjack, I make a big batch at the beginning of the week and then grab a bit before I go. I try to make it a bit healthier by using treacle and dark brown sugar, but even so, I’m still aware that it could be better. (I’d say ‘guiltily aware’ except I try not to associate foods with guilt or virtue. I just enjoy my food and eat as best I can.)

So this week, I dug out a recipe I found a few years ago for a no-added-sugar flapjack recipe. That, and I had a bunch of bananas sitting in the fruit bowl, for some reason not being eaten. Just ripening.

Banana Flapjack

It’s a nice recipe, easily adapted.

The basic recipe is 2-3 ripe bananas, smooshed, 80ml olive oil, 2 cups of oats, and a splash of vanilla extract. Mix it all up and let it sit for a few minutes, then bake for about 20 mins at 175C.

I chucked in some glace cherries, candied peel, and desiccated coconut.

(Almost) According to Waitrose: Apple and Fudge Muffins

Since our wonderful British apples are in season, and so deliciously so, I’m finding what recipes I can to use them in. Alongside eating them, obviously. But Bramley apples can be a bit sour sometimes for eating. Not that that’s stopped me before.

This recipe, one of those from a Waitrose recipe-card, is wonderfully seasonal, although I didn’t have all the ingredients, and I will admit to using apple-sauce rather than freshly chopped apples. This had the bonus of me not needing the single egg required (and which I didn’t have)

Apple Muffins


227g self-raising flour

1tsp baking powder

Fudge Chunks (although I used honeycomb bits)

2 Apples (I used half a jar of apple sauce)

I medium egg

200g golden caster sugar (I skipped this in an experiment re: apple sauce)

60g salted butter (approx. 50g cacao butter), melted

170ml sour cream (coconut milk)

How to Make:

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

Stir together the flour, baking powder and fudge chunks/honeycomb. I also added a smattering of ground ginger.

Waitrose would like you to reserve half of one apple, thinly sliced, for decorating. Since I used apple sauce, I didn’t do this. Dice the other apple and half and stir into the flour mix.

In another bowl, mix together the sugar and egg/apple sauce, then whisk in the butter and then the sour cream/coconut milk.

Stir wet ingredients into dry, folding until it just comes together.

Spoon into cases. If you followed Waitrose’s advice with the apples, top each muffin with a slice or two.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Other than actually probably requiring at least a smidgeon of sugar (I was hoping the sugar in the apple sauce would be enough, or maybe they just needed some more ginger), these are quite tasty little cakes. On the other hand, the lack of sugar makes them perfect for a dollop of jam, and go very nicely with damson jam – also in season about now.

(Almost) According to Someone: Apple Crumble

This time of year is apple-picking, cider-making season, for fruit just off the trees, and apples don’t get tastier than that.

At no other time of the year, do apples taste as good as they do from the end of August to the middle of October.

It’s also the time of year when that wonderful pudding we call a crumble really comes into its own. It seems in recent years to have been supplanted by the pie, which is a shame, if you ask me, because for a proper pudding, with a dollop of cream, a spoon or two of ice cream, or a splurge of custard, you can’t beat the humble crumble. And a pie isn’t really a pudding, which, for me, invokes thoughts of farmhouse baking, and pies should be savoury. Don’t get me wrong, I’m partial to sweet pies too, but crumble beats pastry any day.

And apple crumble is probably the best sort of crumble.

photograph to follow. Technology not working.

This recipe was collected at some point while I was still at school – I have vague recollections of making it in cooking-class. I also have recollections of arguing with my teacher about how to make it. She wanted me to stew the apples first, I wanted to just use slices. I still prefer my crumble to have sliced apple rather than stewed. Partly laziness, partly because that’s how my mother used to make it. Life’s too short for stewing…


You’ll need:

2 Bramley (or other cooking) apples, peeled and sliced (I didn’t peel them)

75g butter

125g sugar

150g self-raising flour

Soak the sliced apples in salty water for a few minutes, then drain and spread in your baking dish and bake them for about 10 minutes. 180C should be about right.

To make the crumble, mix the butter, sugar and flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Pour over the top of the apples. Maybe sprinkle some extra sugar on top. I was taught to trace a snail-swirl in the top, but that’s optional.

Bake until it smells ready, or about 20 minutes.

Serve with cream, ice cream or custard.

And never mind about granola for breakfast – this cold! So much tastier than granola or cereal.

According to Delia: Squidgy Chocolate Cake

Sometimes, cake is needed, but the time and energy required for most cakes is a bit lacking. Sometimes, a key ingredient is lacking, and the effort involved in fetching more is just too much.

I’m currently kitten-sitting a couple of very needy kittens (although, at nearly two, they probably aren’t kittens any longer) for my parents – honestly, whoever said that all cats are supercilious hasn’t met these two, who have been greatly loved and indulged all their lives – and I’ve found myself in a kitchen without cake-flour.

Fortunately, Delia, in her How to Cook series, has a very quick, simple, no-flour-needed, recipe for chocolate cake. Never mind the 5-minute microwave mug cake, this one takes very little longer, when all the prep. time is included, and makes individual cakes.



3 eggs, separated

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp sugar

How To:

Pre-heat the oven to 180C and lightly grease four ramekins. I skipped this bit, and they haven’t come out cleanly…

Briskly whisk the egg yolks and sugar for about a minute, then fold in the cocoa powder. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold one tablespoon into the yolk-mix, then fold in the rest.

Divide between the ramekins and pop them in the oven for about 12 minutes. I think mine were a little overdone – they should still wobble slightly.

Allow to cool, tip out of the ramekins and serve as preferred. Delia had a recipe for some prune-cream thing. I’m just eating them…

(Almost) According to Delia: Spiced Cranberry Muffins

Apparently, it only takes one trip to IKEA for Mark to fall in love with all things Swedish. Well, that and a couple of bags of kanelbullar. Which is entirely fair enough. Kanelbullar are very delicious.

Me, I like the display homes they have in IKEA. It’s the nosy curious part of me. Looking at people’s homes. And IKEA do so much better displays than most other furniture or DIY shops. The first time I visited IKEA was when I lived in Sweden as a student. It’s more fun when there’s a chance of actually furnishing a home.

The reason I bring this up is because one of the ingredients in these cakes was found in the food-hall on our way out. I do like the IKEA food-halls. Anyway, I picked up a jar of lingonberry jam, which I’m using as a substitute for both the egg and the cranberries.


I know: all cakes look the same like this…


150g plain flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 level dessertspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

zest and juice of 1 lge orange (I just used a splish of orange essence)

1 lge egg (1 tbs jam)

75g golden caster sugar

1 tbsp milk (I used water)

50g butter, melted (cacao butter)

225g cranberries (another spoon or two of jam)

glace icing to decorate

How to make:

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6 and line a muffin-tray with cases. Delia thinks this makes 6, I got a round dozen.

In one bowl, sift the flour, spices, baking powder and salt. In another, mix the orange zest, juice, egg, sugar and butter. Fold the one into the other (preferably dry into wet). Try not to beat or stir too much, just fold. Fold in the cranberries and spoon into muffin cases.

Bake for 25-30 minutes and leave to cool on a wire-rack before icing.