When my daughter, Louise, and her family come to England for the New Year, Easter and in August, I cook their favourite foods.
Daniel, as a strapping nearly 18-year old, loves desserts in general and Plum Traybake in particular. I can’t remember where the original recipe comes from but it’s one of those that work every time.
As well as Louise’s family, our elder son, Simon, and Bernard and his girlfriend, Jo, came to dinner. It was Josh’s turn to cook but I made the dessert while he cooked a vegetarian cottage pie – Bernard is a vegetarian.
Our elder son, Simon, and his wife came to tea on their way to a party and I’m always glad of an excuse to bake a cake.
This fruit cake is one of my favourites. I always toss the fruit in a little of the flour so it doesn’t all sink to the bottom but is evenly distributed through the cake.
We’d been having a bit of a smashing time lately – sorting out the mugs chipped in the dishwasher and we’re always looking out for new designs. I found this one in the V&A gift shop when I last visited . The design is adapted from one of William de Morgan’s.
We have a full Thomas white china tea service but we’ve stopped getting it out even for our poshest visitors!!
I don’t often fancy recipes in newspapers but this recipe for a Sliced Apple Cake from the Times – with some minor adjustments – is now my favorite. It’s just as good, or even better, next day – if you have any left.
I always used to grease my cake tins with vegetable oil but then discovered Bake Easy! spray at Lakeland. It works really well but unfortunately they only do the liquid now so this time I had to buy the spray online.
The other indispensable gadget for me is their Cake Tester. The black end turns bright red when the cake – or muffin – is done.
The show held in the Mary Ward House in Bloomsbury is the most convenient for us though we traipsed out to Canada Water for their excellent show in March. Perhaps one year we’ll go to Brighton for their show there and we look forward to their fair in Marylebone this October.
Now that Josh and I are 87 and 85 respectively, over the years we’ve accumulated so many ‘things’ that it’s hard to find something to buy. Our four children are near to their fifties too so they’re in a similar position.
I’ve always been a sucker for kitchen gadgets and when we went to LAKELAND in the Centre Court mall, Wimbledon, to get some of their very good oven cleaner stuff, I couldn’t resist their Nutri Snack Cake Maker.
A small electrical gadget it bakes either eight small cakes or one approximately 13 x 19cm.
It comes with a few recipes. I first tried the Lemon and Blueberry cakes. The recipe tells you to remove the partitioning tray and bake it as one cake but I found it difficult to lift out and transfer to a cutting board. Also I decided to reduce the amount of sugar so the cakes weren’t sweet enough and I used too many blueberries, left over from my fruit salad.
The Pistachio cakes were the most successful. The change I made was not to grind the pistachio nuts too finely so that the cakes ended up with some texture. Josh though they could do with more cardamom – I’ll use ½ teasp next time instead of ¼ teasp.
We had the cornbread with my homemade chicken soup so I left out the chilli. I’ll try again with chilli and more sweetcorn.
For the calorie conscious each recipe comes with a calorie count and indication of fat, carbohydrates and protein and some recipes are gluten-free. Having lost so much weight when I was on a ventilator after my heart attack I am in the fortunate position of not having to watch my weight in case I put back some of the fat I lost. I do have to watch I don’t accumulate fluid though.
Altogether a success but it would be good to find some more recipes for the baker
Most of our favourite cookshops in London have vanished. John Lewis and Peter Jones still have respectable cooking departments, while those in most of the other big stores have shrunk.
In contrast, not only were there large cookshops in the big stores within walking distance of our hotel in the centre of Gothenburg , but there were at least five independent cookshops full of ‘don’t need but must haves’!!
And even with the unfavourable rate of exchange the prices were quite reasonable . Perhaps in Sweden they don’t only sit glued to cookery programs on the TV but they actually cook!! Judging by the amount of space given to cake baking and decorating, the Swedes are into cakes and pastries in a big way.