Gingerbread gets the Oakmeeds thumbs up


I was very excited to get a phone call from my sister-in-law about the gingerbread that she had made from my book. (I know I ought to get out more!).

Rosanne works at Cafe Oakmeeds at Oakmeeds Community College in Burgess Hill. Cafe Oakmeeds is the in-house catering service which provides home made nutritious food by a team of 8 people headed by Sue Everest.

The lovely staff there can bring in their own ideas for baking, especially cakes or biscuits that have a lower sugar content and Rosanne chose the Gingerbread recipe from my book Recipes From An Unknown Kitchen.

The Gingerbread went down a storm apparently and whizzed of the shelf. This is also a bit personal as this was the school I attended from 1960 -1969.


As this recipe was from the German recipe notebook, the home of gingerbread.  I just had to include it. It is a light cake made with golden syrup rather than treacle.

250g plain flour

250g golden syrup

60g butter

15g caster sugar

½ teaspoon ground ginger (if you like things a bit spicier make this 1 teaspoon)

½ teaspoon ground mixed spice

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

150ml milk


Preheat the oven to 175C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a square tin 25cm / 9”. The mix needs to go straight in the oven after mixing so everything needs to be ready.

Warm the milk and golden syrup in a small pan, gently this does just needs to be warm to the touch not hot, just enough to melt the syrup in the milk. Rub the fat into the flour then add the spices and sugar. Add the mix and syrup mix. Add the soda and mix as quickly as possible. Transfer to the tin and put in the oven at once. Bake for around 40 minutes. Remove from the tin and cool on a rack.


Honey I Baked a Cake

Sadly I no longer have bees but I still have a love of good honey. So when I came across a lovely book called Cape Cod Honey Recipes, one of those self printed collections, produced by the Barnstable County Beekeepers Association (Massachusettes), I had to try some recipes.







This is the first and having tried it, it won’t be the last.

Rye Honey-Spiced Cake.







1/3 cup honey (the better the honey the better the cake)

1/2 cup icing sugar

1 1/3 cup water

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons of orange rind, grated,

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground anise seed

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 drops almond extract

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup wholemeal flour

2 1/2 cups rye flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 cup chopped or sliced nuts


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees or gas 4 and grease a loaf tin.

Mix 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice with the icing sugar and reserve for later.

Mix together the wet ingredients and spices. Sift the flours, baking powder and soda then add them gradually to the liquids. This makes a mixture that is slightly wetter than most cake mixtures. Pour into the tin and add the nuts to the top.

Bake for an hour testing with a skewer to check it is cooked through. Immediately spoon the lemon juice/icing sugar mixture over the top. I found I didn’t need the whole amount.

When the cake has cooled for around 15 minutes remove it from the tin and place on a wire rack. This cake keeps well for a long time, it also goes well with custard. It isn’t a really sweet cake so if you want to sweeten it add more honey and reduce the water.

So what’s next Honey Cookies? Honey parfait? Braised Honey Chicken?

Like the look of the book? Click here

Baking 101 for the hairdresser

While I was having my hair cut yesterday, and yes it looks absolutely gorgeous, my lovely hairdresser Trish said ‘ Rita you’ll know about this, what is a good baking book? I want to start having friends round for tea and cake in 2014 so I need to learn how to make cakes’ I rattled off the names of a few good baking books, but here’s the thing, when I got home I started going through the baking books I have in stock to find the one that would be the best for a new baker.

Once I started I was completely wrapped up, going from book to book, comparing recipes. From Mrs Beeton’s Book of Cakes to the Popina Book of Baking from The Complete Book of Baking to Easy Peasy Baking. Oh and not forgetting Saint Delia’s Book of Cakes.

And do you know what I found? Not only hundreds of great cake recipes but a real desire to bake a cake. I realised that I don’t read the books in stock enough – they are really inspiring. I get so involved with the buying and selling I sometimes forget to stop and read them. Thanks Trish, what a great morning I have had pouring over these books.

So what is the best book for new cake makers? The Easy Peasy Baking Book is written in an easy style, The Complete Book of Baking is HUGE but has some good introduction and basic recipes, the Popina Book of Baking has some mouthwatering recipes, The Regulation Cookery Book has the best scone recipes … in other words grab any book and start baking.

I’m going for Gussy Cake, from the Art of Pastry Making. I’ve no idea what it is but it sounds good

Then I’m onto the rack of books on cooking with wine.

My favourite nearly Christmas Cake

Every year I look forward to clementines – the smell is pure Christmas and I eat them like sweets. It must be a mental reminder of the orange at the bottom of the Christmas stocking calling to my inner child or something – anyway carrying on………………….

This recipe was a real find - Clementine Cake from How To Eat by Nigella Lawson. Easy to make, gluten free and absolutely delicious. I look forward to making this before Christmas.


4 – 5 clementines (around 375g total), 6 eggs, 225g castor sugar, 250g ground almonds, 1 heaped teaspoon of baking powder. (If you really want it gluten free use gluten free baking powder or make your own)


Put the clementines in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours. Drain and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and take out the pips. Then pulp the whole fruit skin and all, in a food processer.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/ 190 degrees C and butter and line a 21cm springform cake tin.

Beat the eggs. Add the sugar, almonds and baking powder. Mix well adding the pulped clementines.  Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for an hour, when a skewer comes out clean. You may have to cover with foil after about 40mins to prevent the top burning, as you can see from the photo I forgot to do this. Put on a rack to cool then remove from the tin. I agree with Nigella this is better the day after but it doesn’t always last that long.

Bumper apple harvest cake

Thanks to my friend Norma’s very prolific Bramley apple tree I have been playing with apple recipes, including this lovely recipe for Spiced Apple and Cider Cake from Delia Smith’s Book of Cakes 1977.


150g margerine or butter, 150g castor sugar, 2 standard eggs (beaten), 225g plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg, 150ml dry cider, 3 smallish cooking apples.

for the topping

25g butter, 25g plain flour, 50 dark, soft sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 25 g chopped blanched almonds.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/gas mark4

Brush a deep 8 inch loose based cake tin with melted butter. Line the base with greaseproof paper and brush the paper with the melted butter.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light, pale and fluffy before adding the aggs a little at a time, beating well between each addition. Sieve the flour, baking powder and nutmeg. Fold half of this into the creamed mix using a large metal spoon, followed by half the cider. Then fold in the rest of the flour and finally the last of the cider.

Peel core and chop one of the apples and fold carefully into the cake mix then level with the back of a spoon.

To prepare the topping, measure the butter, flour, sugar and cinnamon into a bowl. rub the mixture until you have a fairly course, crumbly mixture then add the chopped almonds. Quickly quarter, core and peel the remaining apples. slice them thinly and arrange them slightly overlapping in three circles on top of the cake.

Then sprinkle the topping over the apples and bake the cake on the centre shelf for 1 1/2 to1 3/4 hours or until the cake shows signs of shrinking away from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 mins before removing carefully and transferring to a wire rack.

Unfortunately it was all eaten before I could take a photo. I’ll have to make another one.

Bake With Compassion

For all you bakers out there.

The Compassion in World Farming free range fundraiser, Bake with Compassion, is returning for its fourth year and it will be running throughout the month of October. They want as many Compassionate Bakers as possible to get involved and made this a free-range month to remember!

The idea is simple: bake with higher welfare ingredients such as free-range eggs and organic dairy products, and then hold your very own cake sale, dinner party or bake-off!

for more information see their website