Rhubarb Upside-Down Pudding

Rhubarb upside-down cake recipe

When a recipe’s first instruction is to pour 100ml golden syrup into the bottom of a cake tin my sweet-tooth’s knee-jerk reaction is “Do it! Make it! Do it! Make it!”. Naturally I did and it was delicious!! This is a recipe by Lucas Hollweg from the Waitrose magazine, February 2014. I often pull out his recipes from the seasonal section and finally a year a few months later I have made this pudding. It is really easy and only requires 20 minutes’ preparation and 35 minutes in the oven: perfect for a laid-back Sunday afternoon. I have altered the ingredients slightly from the original recipe as I didn’t quite have everything so instead of light brown sugar I used dark brown (my favourite!) and instead of ground ginger I used allspice.

What you need:

A cake tin at around 20cm diameter

100g unsalted butter (and a little more for greasing the cake tin)

125g golden syrup

450g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into pieces 1cm long

Zest of 1 orange

100g dark brown sugar

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 free-range eggs

50g ground almonds

50g self-raising flour

What you need to do:

1. Heat the oven to 180C, 170C (fan).

2. Grease the cake tin with butter.

3. Pour 100g golden syrup into the cake tin and place the rhubarb pieces on top, packed tightly together.

4. Scatter half the orange zest over it.

5. Beat the butter, sugar, remaining syrup, remaining zest, ground allspice and cinnamon together.

6. Beat one egg in at a time with 25g of ground almonds.

7. Fold the flour in, then spoon the mixture onto the rhubarb pieces and smooth it so it is evenly spread.

8. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. It is ready when a fork comes out of the batter clean.

9. Remove it from the oven and leave it to stand for 15 minutes. Carefully turn it onto a plate and eat it with cream, ice-cream or crème fraîche. It is also delicious and very moist on its own.

I think I may even have some for breakfast! (It is good to start the day with fruit.)

Rhubarb and orange zest for rhubarb upside-down cake recipe

The rhubarb and zest on a sticky bed of golden syrup

Rhubarb upside-down puddingrecipe

Devouring has started!


Vietnamese Papaya Salad/ Goi Bo Hoi An


I spent New Year’s Eve enjoying an Asian themed pot luck dinner with a great group of friends. I love pot luck dinners as you get to try many dishes at once thus satisfying that urge when faced with a menu packed with many scrumptious sounding dishes to order it all! We started with a papaya salad that a friend had learnt at a cookery school on a trip to Vietnam last year. It was so delicious that I could have eaten it all night! But of course the other dishes were great too: peanut, chilli and lime thick sauce; chicken and lemongrass curry and chicken, coriander and coconut curry.

In the papaya salad the ingredients are all raw and the combination of flavours and textures is fresh, fruity, juicy, crunchy, sharp and zingy all at once! What could beat that? Answers in the comments section please!

The original recipe from the cookery school my friend went to calls for beef, onions and shallots but she omitted these at New Year and it was scrumptious as is so I have written the school’s recipe here but without the above mentioned ingredients. However she included carrots so I have added these.

Serves 6 // Takes 30 mins

What you need:

For the salad –

150g lettuce

150g green/ yellow papaya (grated)

150g tomatoes – seeds removed and cut into thin strips

150g carrot – cut into thin strips

75g cucumber – seeds removed and cut into thin strips

4 fresh red chillies – finely sliced with seeds removed

For the dressing –

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp fish sauce

3 tsp brown sugar

1 clove of crushed garlic

For the topping –

2 tbsp peanuts – crushed

75g fresh mint leaves

75g fresh coriander leaves

40g Asian basil

What you need to do:

Like most Asian dishes there are a lot of ingredients that need a lot of laborious slicing but it is well worth it.

All you need to do is prepare the salad ingredients as listed above, mix the dressing ingredients, toss the salad in it in a bowl and sprinkle the topping over it.

You can find information on the cookery school here. Thanks for the delicious dish and recipe Isa!



Find more Asian recipes on Conker and Indigo here and here.

Chocolate Cake with Rich Chocolate Icing

To put another chocolate cake recipe out there seems as necessary as designing another chair! There are many, do we need more? In both cases I’d say yes. So, here is another chocolate cake recipe. Don’t watch this space for a chair design but whilst I’m on the subject this is one of my latest favourites: Maritime S by Benjamin Hubert. Not long ago I went to an evening of vice and virtue at Hampton Court Palace put on by The Idler Academy, coinciding with the exhibition of portraits from Charles II’s court and his mistresses. At one point during the talk we were asked to sit in silence and when a vice like thought popped into our heads we had to put our hands up. Well, within a few moments I was thinking about chocolate cake. Surprise surprise. But my hand hesitated, a vice or a virtue? I think if I were to make a chocolate cake every day and eat it all then it would count as a vice but if I shared it or in fact gave it away, surely that would be a virtue?

To get the chocolate bomb shape I made two cakes – one smaller than the other and put them on top of each other with a spread of icing between them and lashings of icing all over them.

What you need for the cake:

200g butter (softened)

120g soft brown sugar

50g cocoa powder

3 teaspoons coffee granules

3 dessert spoons boiling water

5 eggs

50g dark chocolate, grated

240g self-raising flour

What you need for the icing:

150g dark chocolate (80% cocoa is good)

150ml cream

30g butter

150g icing sugar

4 dessert spoons golden syrup

What you need to do:

1. Heat the oven to 180C and grease the cake tins with butter or some sunflower oil on a piece of kitchen paper.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together with a fork in a large bowl.

3. Put the cocoa powder and coffee granules in a mug, pour the boiling water over them and mix well.

4. Scoop this cocoa coffee paste into the bowl with the butter and sugar mixture and mix it in well.

5. Crack the eggs in and beat them in one at a time.

6. Pour the grated chocolate into the bowl and mix it in well.

7. Add the self-raising flour 40g at a time beating it in well each time, allowing lots of air to be beaten into the mixture.

8. Pour the sponge mixture into the two cake tins.

9. Put them in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. Insert a skewer to check that they are ready, it should come out clean.

10. Whilst the cake is baking you can make the icing.

11. Melt the dark chocolate in a microwave or in a bowl sitting on a pan of boiling water (but not touching the water).

12. Allow the chocolate to cool a little then stir in the cream, butter and golden syrup.

13. Then stir the icing sugar in.

14. When the cakes are ready and have cooled place the larger of the two on a plate and spread some icing on top, then place the smaller one on the centre of it and spread the rest of the icing all over it.

15. Sprinkle sugar balls or strands on top for a bit of colour.

Share with friends to feel as virtuous as you can when eating cake!

Coffee Biscuits

I bought some coffee recently from the Algerian Coffee Stores (Old Compton Street, W1D) – Velluto Nero (Black Velvet) which is described as smooth and silky and I see from their website is one of their top sellers. I was tempted to try their cardamom infused blend but they add it separately so I thought I could do it myself. That reminds me, I had a seriously scrumptious Aztec inspired hot chocolate from Paul A. Young recently which had ground cardamom in it. There is a selection of spices to choose from to be added to the drink. I’m glad cardamom is doing the rounds, it was excellent in the hot chocolate. When I got home and made a cafetiere of the smooth and silky black velvet it tasted…burnt! What? It even smelled burnt! Oh dear. So I drank a few sips of it which put me off coffee for a few days and decided to make biscuits with it instead. I know your food is as good as its ingredients but in this case the biscuits did not taste of burnt coffee. Funnily enough I tried the coffee again and it has mellowed. It no longer tastes burnt!

This amount makes about 25 biscuits.

What you need:

100g butter

50g brown sugar

50ml very strong coffee from freshly ground beans

120g plain flour

For the icing: icing sugar and more strong coffee

What you need to do:

1. Heat the oven to 180C (fan).

2. Make a very strong coffee either by making an espresso or a cafetiere with lots of ground coffee and not much water.

3. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl with a fork.

4. Let the coffee cool, then add it to the bowl and combine it with the butterry sugar mixture.

5. Add the flour bit by bit blending it in. When you have added all the flour use your hands to combine all the ingredients really well.

6. Sprinkle flour on a wooden board, and on a rolling pin, and break the ball of dough into two. Roll one out to about half a centimetre thickness and cut it into triangles or whatever shape you like and put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with the other ball.

7. Bake the biscuits in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

8. Make the icing by adding strong coffee to a bowl of icing sugar drop by drop and mixing it to a smooth consistency. Dribble it on the cooled biscuits.

(Happy) Easter Egg Chocolate Biscuits

Happy Easter! These little egg shaped biscuits look like mini Easter eggs but taste like rich dark chocolatey shortbread. The addition of cream to the ingredients makes them extra light and crumbly. They would be perfect for a homemade Easter present in a nest of streamers in a bag tied with string. Add ground almonds to the icing to give a hint of Simnel cake.

What you need:

100g butter

50g brown sugar

30g cocoa powder

2 dessert spoons cream

100g plain flour

100g icing sugar

Food colouring: pink and green

20g ground almond

Pretty loose floral tea

What you need to do:

1. Heat the oven to 180C (fan) and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Put the butter, sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl and cream together with a fork.

3. Add the cream and combine, then add the flour and combine well.

4. Take bits of the mixture and roll into balls the size of a large marble. Then roll again to make them slightly oblong, now squish them between the palms of your hands and they will be the shape of an egg!

5. Bake them in the heated oven for 10 -12 minutes.

6. Whilst they’re baking you can make the icing. Simply put some icing sugar in a bowl and add a touch of water. Only drip the water in as a tiny amount will absorb a lot of icing sugar.  Mix with a spoon until the consistency is smooth but still quite stiff.

7. Divide the icing into three bowls and add pink and green food colouring to two and ground almonds to the third.

8. Once the biscuits have baked let them cool, then dribble the icing on top. Stick some pretty tea leaves on some – this looks great!

Orange Zest and Caraway Seed Crispbread with Orange Curd Dip

I enjoyed making (and eating) the wholewheat crispbread with broad bean and walnut dip from a few weeks ago so much that I thought I’d make a sweet version of the crispbread. I made some orange, ginger and caraway seed biscuits a while ago which was a great combination of flavours so decided on a sweet crispbread recipe with the same flavours and a bonus of orange curd to dip them in. The crispbread makes me think of beautiful paper which has bits of petals and twiggy fibre laced into it because they are rolled out really thinly letting you see the orange zest and caraway seeds in them.

Prep time: 15 minutes     Cook time: 15 minutes

What you need for the crispbread:

150g wholewheat flour

2 dessert spoons dark brown sugar

1 dessert spoon caraway seeds

1 dessert spoon freshly squeezed orange juice

Zest of half an orange

90ml warm water

What you need to do:

1. Put the flour in a bowl and add the sugar, caraway seeds, orange zest and juice. Stir to combine.

2. Add the warm water and bring the ingredients together with your fingers until they are combined into a nice dough. Knead for 3 minutes then shape it into a ball, wrap it in cling film or baking paper and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

3. Heat the oven to 180C (fan).

4. Take the dough out of the fridge and divide it in two.

5. Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is very thin and slice it  into strips.

6. Place the strips on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in the heated oven for 10 minutes.

What you need for the orange curd:

Juice of 2 oranges

Zest of half an orange

2 eggs

2 egg yolks (you can make meringues with the whites)

50g butter, cut into small pieces

2 dessert spoons granulated sugar

What you need to do:

1. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, orange juice and sugar in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.

2. Heat on a gentle heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens. It should thicken enough so that it drips slowly off the spoon. This should take about 5 minutes.

3. Once it has thickened remove it from the heat and add the butter, bit by bit, stirring it in to melt.

4. Let the curd cool, then place in a jar or bowl in the fridge until you want to serve it. Serve it sprinkled with some orange zest.

Spiced Honey Cake

Spiced honey cake! This family of cakes was really fun to make. I want to get more into the decorating side of cake making. This is a simple satisfying cake which you can embellish with anything you can think of. I decorated  the little ones with toppings of shredded coconut, lemon zest, walnuts and crystallised ginger. I used to have cookie decorating parties with pots of different coloured icing and tons of decorations, you could make these cakes for friends and leave them to choose their own icing and topping. Mix and match afternoon cake! I bought some fantastic silicone moulds in a cookery shop in Florence a while ago and used them for these cakes. If you want to make as many as I did you need to double the ingredients, otherwise it is just right for one big cake. I made some orange curd which went really well with this. Orange curd = next blog post!

Takes 10 minutes to prep and 35-40 minutes to bake.

What you need:

1 fun cake mould or cake tin or 6 small cake moulds to make individual cakes

100g butter

50g dark brown sugar

2 eggs

100g honey

250g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cloves

1 heaped tsp cinnamon

2 dessert spoons of lemon zest

For the icing and decorations:

100g icing sugar

Lemon juice of 1 small lemon or half a large lemon

Crystallised ginger pieces

A mixture of fruit: raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries

A mixture of nuts: walnuts, almonds, cashews

Shredded coconut

Lemon zest

What you need to do:

1. Heat the oven to 170C (fan).

2. Grind the cloves with a mortar and pestle to a powder.

3. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl.

4. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, and add the honey and lemon zest. Combine well.

5. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ground cloves together and gradually add to the wet ingredient mix, combining as you add it.

6. Spoon the batter into the cake tin or mould(s).

7. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. Test it with a skewer or a knife which should come out clean when inserted.

8. While it’s baking you can make the icing. Simply put the freshly squeezed lemon juice in a bowl and add icing sugar bit by bit, using a fork to mix it into the juice. You should reach a consistency that drips from the fork quite slowly, too fast and it is too runny – add more sugar.

9. Once the cake is ready, allow it to cool then ice the top with streaks of icing and sprinkle the fruit and nuts, coconut, lemon zest or whatever you fancy on top to make it look seriously enticing!