Monday, 24 December 2012

Berry Red

early morning frosts still the world

air cold enough to turn your breath to great gusts of steam.

in the kitchen, you sprinkle icing sugar like frost over little christmas muffins

warm yourself by the spice of a gingerbread, or the sweetness of coconut cake filled with cherry jam.


wrap up well for a walk through the fields

then out of the oven comes an upside down cake, cranberry red and hot to the touch,

make delicious christmas presents for the ones you love

and douse the fruit cake with booze 
then sit by the fire with a brandy shot to watch the flames flicker and dance.

outside the leaves have set like glass
as the sun goes down on midwinter Christmas eve.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Halloween Cake: Skull & Blood Raspberry Jam Cake

My apologies for the delay in posting my Halloween Cake! Here it is in the full scrumptious goryness.

My own recipe
Serves 8-10

For the white chocolate skull, mice and hands etc:
approx 300g white chocolate, broken into pieces

1. Make the chocolate in advance. Gently melt 250g of the chocolate over a bain mairie, a heatproof bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Stir the chocolate, and when melted, add the extra 100g, taking it off the heat but continuing to stir until melted.

2. When all the white chocolate has melted smoothly, carefully spoon it into silicone moulds. Place the filled moulds on a plate in the fridge for half an hour, before unmoulding. Don't touch them too much when unmoulding as the heat of your hands may soften them. When unmoulded, place the figures back in the fridge on a plate until ready to use.

You can make the hands by just spreading melted chocolate onto a baking tray and refridgerate in the same way, without the use of moulds.

for the cake base:

200g unsalted butter, room temperature
200g golden caster sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
grated zest of half a lemon
3 tablespoons raspberry jam

3. Turn the oven to 170C (150C fan ovens), and grease and line a normal baking tin.

4. Cream the butter and sugar together for at least 3 minutes until smooth and fluffy.

5. Add the first egg to the creamed mixture, then sieve in a little of the flour and beat well. Once combined, add the 2nd egg one with tablespoon of flour, and beat again. Add the last egg, beating hard until the mixture is light and frothy.

6. Stir in the lemon zest and the vanilla extract.

7. Next sift in the rest of the flour, stirring in a bit at a time. Remember to add the baking powder! I forgot, resulting in a rather flat cake.

8. Stir in the lemon juice, combining into the batter.

9. Spoon half the batter into the prepared baking tin. Then dot the raspberry jam into the batter, using a skewer or teaspoon to swirl it around. Spoon the rest of the batter ontop, before smoothing it down evenly with a spatula.

10. Place in the oven to bake for about 45 minutes, checking it briefly after 35 minutes. Cover with foil if the top is browning too quickly in the final 10 minutes. You'll know it's done when the top bounces back under your finger and a skewer comes out clean.

11. Once baked, let the cake rest in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove to continue cooling on the rack.

for the raspberry compote topping:
400g raspberries, washed
300g caster sugar

12. When the cake is cool, put the raspberries in a pan with the caster sugar, and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat down to simmer gently for approx 6 minutes until the raspberries are giving out their lovely pink juice. Squash them with a fork and then push them through a sieve with a bowl underneath to catch all the juices.

13. Spoon the raspberry compote over the cake, letting it drip down the sides.

Or of course, you could just spread more jam over the top of the cake.

14. To finish, place the white chocolate skull, mice and hands firmly onto the cake. Serve with creme fraiche or cream.

This cake was idly baked to Joy Division's album Still

Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Witching Hour, Halloween 2012

Her Kind
by Anne Sexton


I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,  
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,  
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.
I have ridden in your cart, driver,

waved my nude arms at villages going by,

learning the last bright routes, survivor

where your flames still bite my thigh

and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.

A woman like that is not ashamed to die.

I have been her kind.
Her Kind by Anne Sexton, via
 Halloween Parties kindly hosted by Vanessa Valencia of, click on the website link to see her own party in full swing

My outfit (Leopard Witch): Nicole Farhi black dress; Hobbs shoes; lace veil from my granny Kiki.
I'm also proud to be a part of Visible Monday, hosted by the glamorous Patti from, click on the website link to see her outfit and those of many others.
This post was idly hatched while listening to Into The Labyrinth by Dead Can Dance

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Gluten Free Chilli Brownies for Halloween

Story has it that red chilli peppers are associated with the devil, thanks to the hellish heat they leave in one's mouth and the shape of the little peppers curving like devil's horns. These brownies can be as fiery or as subtle as you like, it just depends on the heat of the chilli pepper you use. Even with the hot peppers the crumb of the brownie still tastes sweet, soft and so chocolatey. Devilishly good. 
Adapted from the one by Cook Vegetarian, for their recipe click here
Serves 7-8
150g plain chocolate
100g chilli dark chocolate
150g unsalted butter, room temperature
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
75g gluten free plain flour
1 small bag dark chocolate chips
half a red chilli pepper, finely chopped and deseeded
for decoration:
gluten free coloured icing pens, (I used Dr Oetker)
a little cherry or raspberry jam, optional
gluten free ready rolled white icing, (I used offcuts of Silver Spoon icing), optional
1. Turn the oven to 170C (150 fan ovens) and grease and line a suitable square or rectangular baking tray.
2. Break the chocolate bars into small pieces, placing the chilli chocolate chunks in a separate bowl to the plain so that you can tell the two apart.
3. Heat 100g of the plain chocolate chunks, and all the chilli chocolate, in a heatproof bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Stir carefully until the chocolate has melted, then remove the bowl from the heat and put to one side to cool.
4. Using an electric hand mixer, beat the sugar into the chocolate, then add the eggs one at a time until well combined.
5. Next sift over the flour, and stir until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips, the leftover plain chocolate and the finely chopped red chilli. Gently fold these ingredients into the batter.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for approximately half an hour. A skewer should come out pretty clean. Leave brownies to cool in the baking tray, before cutting with a knife into even slices.
7. Give the brownies spooky style by using coloured icing pens to decorate them with images of witches, bats and spiders' webs. 
8. If you want to create ghost brownies as above, simply brush a little cherry or raspberry jam over the sides of the brownie and wrap them in cut pieces of ready rolled white icing. Then decorate with coloured icing pens, drawing ghostly eyes and mouths.
Serve on Halloween!
These brownies were idly baked while listening to Abbatoir Blues by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Russet & Green

 a particular golden sunshine

layer on the woollies

walk in the crisp cold air


  bake biscuits

 and pies

eat hot crumbly cake straight from the oven

make wishes

 a tarte tatin with the very last of the blackberries 
but not a mushroom risotto, unless you know exactly what you're picking

mushrooms the size of your foot

this is Autumn

Monday, 8 October 2012

Double Chocolate Brownie Cake

This is a variation of the brownie cake I've blogged before. This particular version has become known as a real crowd pleaser in my family. As my Mum puts it, "it is so intensely gorgeous that you just have to close your eyes and surrender to the experience!" The recipe lends itself to endless adaptations, and using muscovado sugar gives a fudgy texture and rich flavour to the bake.


Adapted from the brilliant recipe at the BBC Good Food website. See their original recipe here
Serves 8

175g unsalted butter, room temperature
175g best quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
50g white chocolate, broken into pieces,
handful dark chocolate chips, optional
65g plain flour
200g light muscovado sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature

1. Turn the oven to 180C (160C fan ovens), and grease and line a 20cm cake tin. I used a decorative one, which needed only greasing.

2. Heat the butter, sugar and the 175g broken dark chocolate in a bain mairie, a heat proof bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Stir gently until the ingredients have melted together. Take off the heat and leave to cool in the bowl.

3. Add the egg yolks to the chocolate mixture, beating well until combined. Then, using a wooden spoon, gently stir in the flour, white chocolate chunks and dark chocolate chips.

4. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until fluffy, before very gently and briefly folding them into the rest of the ingredients.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin, and bake in the oven for approx 40 minutes, until the top has cracked and bounces back under your finger.

6. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 mins, before placing on a wire rack or plate.

for the topping:
approx 35g white chocolate, broken into pieces

7. Once cool, melt some extra white chocolate over another bain mairie, then pour or flick over the top of the cake, and serve with cream. You'll want a large slice.


This cake was idly baked while listening to portuguese Fardo by Amalia Rodriugues


Friday, 5 October 2012

A Halloween Invitation

Hold on to your bedpans, the Halloween blog party is drawing near!
I have been invited by the delightful Vanessa Valencia to a spooky Halloween celebration to be held by bloggers across the world. Vanessa is an artist and sculptor based in Arizona, well known for the parties which she photographs for her blog. This year I've decided to join her in inviting you all to a Halloween party of my own.

Please come join us for a frighteningly fun Halloween party on Saturday 27th October, held at my place, Vanessa's, and the homes of many others including YOU if you so wish to participate!

Visit Vanessa's previous Halloween parties, which are on the left side bar of her blog, to see just how much fun they are, and I do so hope they'll inspire you to create your own or simply to check out our blog party posts on the day.
I look forward to spooking you then.....


Sunday, 30 September 2012

Cherry & Thyme Loaf

Simple and scrumptious, this frosty topped cake is fast becoming a warming new tea time favourite of ours as the autumn cold creeps in.

My own
Serves 8

175g unsalted butter, room temperature
175g caster sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
175g plain flour, plus extra for rolling the cherries
1 tsp baking powder
a large handful of glace cherries
a smaller handful of fresh thyme leaves

1. Turn the oven to 180C (160C fan ovens), and grease and line a 1lb loaf tin.

2. Roll the glace cherries in a little extra flour, then on a separate plate chop the thyme leaves finely, and put both to one side.

3.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar for about 3 minutes until smooth.

4. Beat the first egg in to the creamed mixture, then a spoonful of the flour and stir gently before beating in the other egg. Add the rest of the flour and baking powder a bit at a time.

5. Throw in the cherries and chopped thyme. Very gently stir the cherries into the batter using a wooden spoon.

6. Pour into the prepared loaf tin. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes, checking to see if it is ready after 45. You'll know it's done once the top springs back under your finger and a skewer comes out clean.

7. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before placing on a wire rack or plate.

8. Once cooled but still warm, sift the top of the cake with icing sugar, and serve with a nice cuppa.

This cake was idly baked while listening to Lucy Rose's debut album Like I Used To, a present from my lovely friend Nadine