recipe

Plum pudding cake

My greengage plum tree has had a super crop this year, but it has been a battle harvesting the plums as the blackbirds like them a lot. The trouble is the blackbirds don’t just eat one, they peck a hole and eat a little bit then go onto the next. I’ve picked several pounds of plums and stewed and frozen some, and given loads away.

I decided I’d make something a little different and produced this plum pudding cake. It can be eaten either as a cake or with cream as a dessert.

If you don’t have greengage plums, any plums will be a good substitute.

Ingredients

ingredients for plum pudding cake
  • Approximately 20 greengage plums quartered and stoned
  • 4 oz butter
  • 4 oz soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 oz self-raising flour
  • 1/2 level tespoon cinnamon
  • 2 dessertspoons granulated sugar

Method

Switch on oven to 180 C

Grease and line a 7 ½ inch cake tin with greaseproof paper.

First quarter the plums. I score round each one with a knife then twist the sections off. Discard the stones.

quartered greengage plums

In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add one egg at a time beating each egg into the mix. Add the flour, stirring well to make a smooth mixture.

mixing the ingredients

Put half the mix into the prepared cake tin, smoothing it level.

Layer half the quartered plums on top of the mix, pushing each quarter down slightly.

first layer of plums

Spoon the rest of the mix on top, levelling as before.

Put the rest of the quartered plums on top pressing them into the mix slightly. I start with a circle round the outside, then inner circles from that. The whole surface should be mostly plums.

top layer of plums

Sprinkle the cinnamon on top, then scatter the demerara sugar over to give a crunchy top. You can use more sugar if you like a sweeter taste.

sugar and cinnamon on top

Bake in the oven at 180 C (fan), for an hour and a quarter.

Remove the pudding cake from the tin, and if not eating it warm, cool on a wire rack. Remove the greaseproof paper.

the finished pudding cake

Keep the plum pudding cake in an airtight tin.

The plum pudding cake can be eaten warm or cold either as a cake or a dessert.

My favourite is cold as a dessert served with thick cream, but then a slice with a cup of tea is rather good.

pudding cake with cream

Enjoy!

recipe

Delicious tomato soup

This year we have had so many tomatoes, I’ve made a lot of soup with the recipe my mother always used. It is very simple and is done in the microwave. The quantities make about 2 ½ pints of soup.

Ingredients

ingredients
Ingredients
  • 1 oz butter
  • medium onion
  • 1 ½ lbs tomatoes
  • 1 ½ oz plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • ¼ teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ pint milk
  • salt and pepper
  • ¾ pint hot chicken stock

Start by chopping an onion. Add to a mixing bowl with 1 oz butter. I use a mixing bowl as that is perfect for holding all the ingredients. Cook in the microwave for four minutes.

Cooked chopped onion and butter in mixing bowl
Cooked chopped onion and butter in mixing bowl

While that is cooking, roughly chop 1 ½ pounds tomatoes and add to the butter and onion mix when it is done. My tomatoes are small cherry tomatoes, but any sizes are fine.

Chopped tomatoes
Chopped tomatoes

Now add the flour, tomato puree, celery salt, caster sugar, dried basil, milk, salt and pepper to the mix. Stir the ingredients together.

Tomatoes and other ingredients ready to cook
Tomatoes and other ingredients ready to cook

Return the bowl to the microwave and cook for a further ten minutes. I cover the bowl with a pyrex lid from a casserole dish to prevent splashes in the microwave.

Meanwhile prepare the stock. I use three chicken oxo cubes dissolved in ¾ pint of very hot water. When the tomato mix has finished cooking in the microwave, remove and stir in the hot stock.

Hot stock
Hot stock

The soup is now cooked. It needs to be liquidised and then sieved to remove the pips and skin. My liquidiser is only small so I do a small amount at a time, then put that into the sieve so it can be draining while I liquidise the next portion.

Cooked soup, liquidised and sieved
Cooked soup, liquidised and sieved

Squash the pips and skins gently against the sieve so that the liquid goes through but nothing else.

The soup is now complete and ready to eat.

Tomato soup ready to eat
Tomato soup ready to eat

I usually eat some straight away and freeze the rest, ready to eat on those cold winter days to bring back the memories of summer. Enjoy!

recipe

Kedgeree

I’ve just made a kedgeree, a dish I enjoy but don’t make often. It takes some preparation but freezes well. I usually make enough for four, eat a couple of portions and freeze a couple. The frozen ones can be thawed and then heated in the microwave.

Ingredients

  • 500 g (approximately) smoked fish; choose thick fillets; usually this is made with haddock but smoked cod works just as well; I prefer fish that is smoked but not dyed, however when I went to the fish counter this time they only had smoked, dyed haddock so that is what I used
  • 100 – 150 g prawns; not tradionally in a kedgeree but I think they add extra taste and texture
  • 200 ml wholegrain rice; measure the rice in a jug
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • small onion finely chopped; if you are intolerant to, or dont have, onion then a finely chopped stick of celery is a good substitute
  • 100 g butter
  • 3 hard boiled eggs; although eggs are found in kedgeree recipes they can be ommitted
  • 3 heaped tablespoons chopped fresh parsley; I prefer curly-leafed parsley as it chops more finely

Start by putting the smoked fish into a saucepan, if the fillets don’t fit easily then use kichen scissors to cut them smaller. Cover the fish with plenty of water (approximately 400ml) and put onto boil. Once it boils it only needs a few minutes to cook, you can tell by putting a knife in and seeing if it easily flakes.

Cooking the smoked fish

Rinse the wholegrain rice in cold water.

While the fish is cooking, melt some butter in another saucepan and gently soften the onion (or celery), add the curry powder and cook for another minute or two. Remove from the heat and add the rice.

Soften the onion in a saucepan with curry powder

The fish should be cooked by now. Drain the liquid that the fish was simmered in and use this for the rice mix. Pour the liquid over the rice, return to the stove and cook as normal. Keep any spare liquid in case the liquid boils away before the rice has cooked. Cook until the rice is soft to eat.

Cook rice using fish liquid

If using eggs, hardboil them. Then peel and chop them.

While the rice is cooking, flake the fish removing any bones and discarding the skin.

FLake the cooked fish
Flake the cooked fish

Put the flaked fish into a large mixing bowl. Chop the parsley finely and add to the bowl. If using them, add the chopped hard boiled eggs. Next cut the prawns into three and add them to the bowl.

Add flaked fish, prawns and parsley to bowl
Add flaked fish, prawns and parsley to bowl

Once the rice is cooked, put this into the bowl as well and mix all togther thoroughly using a wooden spoon.

Divide the mix into four or five portions. Add slivers of butter to the top and enjoy with steamed vegetables.

This recipe was adapted from Delia Smith’s Buttery Kedgeree recipe found in her Complete Cookery Course. My version was printed in 1996.

Kedgeree with smoked haddock, prawns and parsley
Kedgeree with smoked haddock, prawns and parsley
recipe

The icing on the Christmas cake

The Christmas cake was iced a couple of days ago. I used royal icing and bought a couple of packs of it rather than making it from scratch.

I had help from my daughter and grandson – the same ones that made the cake with me.

To make the royal icing you just add water and beat it until smooth using a wooden spoon. We then poured it onto the top of the cake, trying out adding a ski slope but then just smoothing it on the sides using a round-ended knife.

using a round bladed knife to smooth the icing

Then the decorations. I had some modelling icing paste and we used that to make snowmen. We made a pond for the snowmen to stand around using icing sugar and blue food dye. Unfortunately we made the icing too thin so what started as a pond became a waterfall.

a pond on the top of the cake
the icing pond started to turn into a waterfall

I had also bought some ready-made icing decorations.

As you can see we found it hard to stop adding more and more decorations – I don’t know who added the most – my daughter or my grandson!!

the finally decorated cake

The cake is now in a cardboard cake box with the icing drying, ready to cut and eat on Christmas day. I can’t wait! Happy Christmas to everyone.

recipe

Almond paste for Christmas cake

My Christmas cake has been maturing for the last few weeks. The next stage is to cover it with almond paste. This should be done a week or two before Christmas so that the almond paste has time to dry before adding the icing which itself needs time to dry.

Our family loves almond paste so I cover the top and sides. Use half quantities if you are just covering the top of the cake.

Ingredients

ingreedients: icing sugar, ground almonds, lemon, egg, apricot jam
  • 12 oz ground almonds
  • 12 oz icing sugar
  • 1 egg lightly beated
  • juice from a lemon
  • apricot jam

Method

make a stiff dough

Mix the ground almonds and icing sugar together in a bowl. Stir in the egg and add enough lemon juice to make a stiff dough. Knead the dough lightly.

Unwrap your Christmas cake – take a moment to enjoy the wonderful smell – and place it on a cakeboard. I use one I’ve had for several years and just replace the tinfoil.

If you like you can cut some from the top of the cake to make it level.

paint on apricot jam

Using a paintbrush coat the tops and side of the cake with apricot jam (remove any lumpy pieces from the jam).

Divide the almond paste into two equal pieces. Then subdivide one of these into two.

Measure round the cake with a piece of string.

Dust the surface where you are working with icing sugar to stop the paste from sticking.

Roll out one of the quarters of almond paste so that it is the as long as half the string and as wide as the height of the side of the cake.  Do the same with the other quarter piece.

roll out for sides of cake

Carefully pick up the rolled-out paste and push onto the side of the cake. Add the other piece as well. You can push the edges together where they meet using a round edged knife. If you have a gap, then squash a spare piece of paste into it, or take a piece from where it is thicker.

Roll the remaining half of paste into a circle the size of the top of the cake. Carefully lift it onto the cake and push the edges down onto the almond paste at the side.

Don’t worry if it is not completely smooth – you can smooth it out with the icing.

I’ve put my cake in a cardboard cake box to keep the dust off and placed it in a cool room. You can put the cake into an airtight container if you have one.

cake in box for almond paste to dry

Leave the almond paste to dry for at least twenty-four hours – I’m leaving mine a week – so that oil from the almonds doesn’t leak out and turn the icing yellow.

While you are waiting for the almond paste to dry out, you can decide on how you will be decorating the cake using royal icing.

This recipe was adapted the 1972 edition of Good Housekeeping’s Easy-Stages Cook Book.