Saturday, June 2, 2018

Carrot, Orange, and Spice Cake

  • 200g/7oz unsalted butter
  • 280g/10oz light brown muscovado sugar
  • 4 large free-range eggs
  • 1 tsp Grand Marnier
  • 320g/11¼oz all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 320g/11¼oz grated carrots
  • optional 170g/6oz pecan nuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 orange, zest and juice only
  • powdered sugar 


Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/360F/Gas 4. Grease and line the base of two 9in cake pans.

Grate the carrots and add the juice and zest of one orange. If using nuts, add them here.

Melt the butter in a saucepan then whisk in the sugar, eggs and orange oil until smooth and well combined.

Sift the flour, baking soda and ground spices into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the salt and baking powder.

Fold the butter mixture into the dry ingredients until combined. Fold in the carrot mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle (check after 40 minutes and cover the top of the cake if the cake is browning too fast).

Leave to cool in the pans for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Finish with a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top of the cakes and enjoy.

Inspired by:
Ian's Colossal Carrot Cake

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Fried Rice

I just put together a simple fried rice recipe to have as a quick dinner and use up some leftover rice. I made it fairly bland because I was hoping my mother could eat it and she's become very sensitive to many smells and tastes, but it would be easy to add more seasonings to it if you like. 

  • Left-over rice, I used about 3 cups (scale the rest of the ingredients to the amount of rice you have).
  • 3 Carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup Peas, frozen
  • 2 eggs, whisked together
  • Cooking oil, I used canola
  • Soy Sauce
  • Heat about 1 Tablespoon of oil in a wok to medium heat. 
  • Add about a teaspoon of soy sauce to the whisked eggs and pour the mixture into the oil. Let it cook for a bit then turn it over (as if you were making an omelette).
  • Take the cooked egg out of the wok and set aside
  • Add more oil to the wok, about 3 Tablespoons and let it heat back up
  • Add the rice and some soy sauce to the wok and cook until the rice is warm and has absorbed the soy sauce. I added enough soy sauce to turn all of the white rice a light brown color.
  • Once the rice is heated through, push it to one side and add some more oil to the bottom of the wok.
  • Add the carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the frozen peas to the carrots (leaving the rice to one side for now). Stir the peas into the carrots then cover the wok for 2-5 minutes, until the peas have come up to the temperature of the rest of the ingredients. 
  • While the carrots and peas are cooking, cut the cooked eggs into strips or pieces.
  • Add more soy sauce if needed and stir the rice, carrots, peas, and eggs together.
  • Check for doneness and even heating, cook a bit longer if needed.
  • Serve.

You could use any combination of vegetables you like with the rice or add more flavorings. This was made with what we had in the fridge at the time. If you already have leftover rice on hand it is really quick to make-- it took me about 20-30 minutes from getting the ingredients out of the refrigerator to serving it. If you don't have a wok, a larger frying pan would also work.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Swiss Roll with lime curd and whipped cream

I first learned how to make a swiss roll using these two recipes. Since then I have gotten fairly good at making them.

Here is my latest variation: Swiss Roll with lime curd and whipped cream

Tips before starting: Gather all of the ingredients for both the sponge and the curd, measure them and do what preparation is needed so they are ready to go right into the mixture once you start. If you are using the optional whipped cream, put the mixing bowl, whisk, and leftover storage container in the fridge before you start on the rest of the preparations.

Start the sponge first and work on the curd while the sponge is baking. Save whipping the cream until after the sponge and curd have cooled and are ready for assembly.


For the sponge (cake layer)

  • parchment paper
  • 4 eggs, three whole eggs plus an egg yolk (reserve the extra white for the curd)
  • 160g caster sugar, plus extra for rolling
  • 160g all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt 

For the lime curd

  • 55g unsalted butter
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white beaten

Optional: whipped cream


For the sponge:

  • preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6
  • line a 10½x16in (26x40cm) baking tray with baking parchment. If possible use a tray with raised edges. If you don't have one, use a slightly larger cookie sheet so the batter won't expand over the edges.
  • place a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. 
  • add the eggs and sugar to the bowl and whisk until lukewarm (~100F/38C). 
  • remove bowl and whisk until the mixture is very thick and leaves trails when the whisk is removed. This can take 10-20 minutes by hand.
  • fold in the sifted flour using a spoon with a slim profile (metal or silicone, not thick wood)
  • the batter will be about the consistency of crepe batter but with more air in it
  • spread the mixture thinly onto the prepared baking tray. I find pouring it from the bowl into the shape I want works best-- it is difficult to spread once poured. 
  • place on the middle shelf in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until it springs back when touched. Don't overtake or it will be difficult to roll.
  • lay a large piece of baking parchment over a tea towel and  dust the parchment with sugar. 

For the curd (while the sponge is baking)
  • set a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water
  • put the butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice into the bowl
  • stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved 
  • once the sugar is dissolved, add the beaten eggs
  • stir occasionally, until the mixture shows signs of thickening
  • stir more regularly until the entire mixture has thickened
  • transfer to a clean bowl to cool (this speeds the cooling process)

Final steps for sponge
  • once the sponge is baked, tip it out onto the dusted baking parchment and carefully peel off the baking parchment it was cooked on.
  • roll the sponge while it is still hot. Start from the short end and roll the parchment up with the roll so it will unroll nicely later. Use the towel to help protect your fingers and to hold the final roll together while it cools. Don't roll the towel up inside the roll. 
  • set the sponge aside to cool with the curd-- approximately 30 minutes


  • if using whipped cream, whip it up now
  • un-roll the sponge and spread the lime curd thinly and evenly over it
  • spread a slightly thicker layer of whipped cream over the curd
  • re-roll the sponge, note that some of the whipping cream will squeeze out as you roll
  • trim the ends of the roll to create a neat finish and give yourself a little treat
  • dust with icing sugar or pipe some of the extra cream on as a decoration or leave plain

Store in the fridge in an air tight container or wrapped in clingfilm when not serving. There will be left over cream and lime curd. Store both in airtight containers in the fridge as well.

Previous variation: Swiss roll with cinnamon, coffee, and hazelnut

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Madeira Cake - Modifed

Inspired by this recipe, I tried my hand at making Madeira cake. The first time I forgot to add the baking powder as the recipe called for self-rising flour and I used regular all purpose flour. 

The second time I made it I didn't read the recipe carefully as I was working and added the juice of an entire lemon along with the zest and forgot completely to add the sugar. It was awful.

The third time was the charm and it came out exactly right-- sweet and tasty and a delicious recipe.

That said, it was pretty sweet.  Also I've been working on ways to help my vegetarian housemate get more Omega3s in her diet and one of the ways has been to add ground flax seed to dishes she eats. The flax seed can add a nice nutty taste to things which I thought would go nicely with this cake.

I changed the almonds in the original to walnuts, again to improve the Omega3 content and also because I thought they might meld nicely with the flax seed and with the banana that I swapped in for some of the sugar and some of the butter.

This may be drifting closer to banana bread, but it came out tasting better than any banana bread I have ever tried to make.


  • 115g softened butter
  • 1 (~95g) banana, peeled, very ripe
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 30 g flax seed, ground/milled
  • 225g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g ground walnuts
  • 4 large free-range eggs
  • 1 med unwaxed lemon, zest only


  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. 
  • Line a bread loaf pan with baking parchment
  • Warm the butter until soft and set aside (melted butter also works).
  • Grind the walnuts in food processor or chop very fine with a knife
  • Zest the lemon
  • Add the eggs to the lemon zest and whisk until the eggs are throughly beaten
  • Mix the banana, sugar, flax seed, flour, baking powder and walnuts together until well combined
  • Add the egg/lemon mixture and butter and stir until just mixed
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for a total of 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Leave to set in the pan for a further 15 minutes
  • Move to a wire rack to cool completely

Monday, July 11, 2016


The base of my waffle recipe came from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian but I've tweaked it to get it where I want it and now it is very yummy.


  • 200g all purpose flour
  • 50 g milled flaxseed
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 330 ml sour cream
  • 110 ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • Grapeseed or other neutral oil for the waffle iron


  • Brush oil on the waffle iron and start it heating
  • Melt the butter and set aside to cool
  • Separate the eggs and whisk the whites to soft peaks (if you have a stand mixer the mixer can do this for you while you work on the rest of the recipe)
  • Sift the flour into a mixing bowl
  • Add the rest of the dry ingredients and stir until well combined
  • In a separate bowl stir together the sour cream, milk, egg yolks, melted butter (should still be liquid-- just not hot), vanilla, and molasses
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir gently until well mixed
  • Gently fold in the egg whites
  • Open the waffle iron to let the smoke out and close it to reheat it to the proper temperature
  • Spoon the batter into the waffle iron and let cook (I set a timer for 4 minutes)
  • The waffles are done when they are golden brown and release from the top and bottom irons easily. It may take some experimentation to figure out the best time to leave them in for.

Serve with your favorite toppings.

If you don't have flaxseed you can replace it with flour. If you don't have molasses it can be left out.

Leftover waffles can be frozen and eaten later. I find that defrosting them in the microwave and then popping them in the toaster works well.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

My Kitchen Scale

Question: "Wondering if you can put in cups and tablespoons, etc, too for those who don't have a scale."

Short Answer: Maybe, if I have time.

Long Answer: Some of my older recipes are in US Customary Units and I have converted them to metric. In those cases I have left both measurements in place.

However, ever since I got a Scottish cookbook and had to weigh out my ingredients I've become a convert to using the metric system in my cooking and baking. I have two major reasons for my love of the cooking scale. 

The first is that it cuts down a great deal on the number of dishes I generate during cooking because I can put my mixing bowl directly on my scale and pour or scoop my ingredients directly into it. This means that I don't get all of my measuring cups dirty (and then have to wash them later).

The second is that it does away with measurements like 'tightly packed,' 'a scant cup,' and 'a heaping tablespoon' as 100 grams is 100 grams regardless of if an ingredient is fluffy or packed. I still get some natural variation as humidity and other random factors can affect the weight of things like flour, but I still find I get much more consistent results using a scale and the metric markings on my liquid measures. I haven't quite gotten to the point of weighing my liquid ingredients but my kiddo was showing me that with liquids like milk and water 1 ml of liquid equals 1 gram on the scale.

As I have been working out my own recipes I have being defaulting to using the scale and metric measurements and I don't always have the time to test a version using the US measurement system.

So, when possible, and when I have time, I'll try to include US Customary Measurements but when pressed for time I might just leave everything in metric and hope you will be interested enough in the recipe to look up the conversions if needed-- or to buy your own scale if you don't already have one around the house that you can press into service.

I resisted using the scale for anything but those first UK recipes for years and now I can't bake without my digital kitchen scale.

Homemade Granola

I started with the King Arthur Flour Cruncy Granola recipe, and while it was tasty, I found it to be too sweet and my family found that the added fruit could send it over the edge into sickly sweet. I also found that 18 cups was a lot to make and have room to store, so I started tinkering with the recipe after I had made it as written a few times.

Here is what I came up with after getting feedback from my family and reviewing several other granola recipes online:


  • 300 g (3 1/2 c.)rolled oats, uncooked
  • 100 g (1 c.) sliced almonds
  • 100 g (1 c.) chopped pecans or walnuts, or mix of both
  • 100 g (1 c.) sliced hazelnuts
  • 60 ml (1/4 c.) vegetable oil
  • 120 ml (1/2 c.) pure maple syrup
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp.) vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Prepare a large (I use a bakers half sheet) baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper
  • Pre-heat the oven to 250F/120C/1/2gas
  • Mix the oats and nuts in a bowl large enough to fit all of the ingredients with room to stir-- mix until well combined
  • Mix the vegetable oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl and wisk together
  • Add the liquid to the dry mix and stir until the dry ingredients are evenly coated in the liquid
  • Spread evenly in the baking sheet and press flat
  • Bake for 40 minutes, turning the pan halfway through
  • Remove from the oven and let the granola cool in the pan
  • Store in an airtight container at room tempurate for several weeks (if it lasts that long!). I use a 2.8 l (3 qt) container to store mine


Mix a batch of your favorite dried fruit, chopped into edible bits, and use it to flavor the granola to taste. Keeping the fruit seperate helps control the sweetness of the granola.

Tools: large mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, large baking sheet