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Oaty-topped Squares (Ali & Elspeth’s Mum’s)


Sponge base: 4 oz butter or margarine, 4 oz caster sugar, 2 eggs, 4 oz self raising flour.

Topping: 2 oz cherries (glace, sour, other), 3 oz butter or margarine, 2 level tablespoons Golden Syrup, 2 oz raisins, 3 oz Demerara sugar, 3 oz porridge oats.


Prepare cool oven - 170°C, 325°C, Gas Mark 3. Brush 1.5” deep 11” x 7” baking tin with oil or melted butter and line with greaseproof paper.

Sponge base: Cream butter/margarine and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Beat eggs and add gradually, beating well after each addition. Fold in flour, using a metal spoon. Spread mixture in prepared tin and level top with spoon.


Cut cherries into quarters (optional if fruits small). Melt syrup and butter/margarine in a pan over low heat. Add remaining ingredients to the pan and mix well. Spread the topping over the sponge base mixture.

Bake just above centre of oven for 45-50 minutes. Test by pressing with fingers. If cooked, cake should spring back and have begun to leave sides of tin. Leave to cool in tin before cutting into squares.


Makes 4 servings

  • 1 head celeriac, peeled
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced/crushed
  • salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 230 degrees (210 fan oven). Prepare a baking sheet by coating it lightly with oil.
  2. Cut veg into 1/4” thick triangles
  3. Combine salt, pepper, oil and garlic, mixing well to combine and coat the veg.
  4. Put in single layer onto baking tray and cook for 15-20 mins.
  5. Sprinkle parmesan over and return to oven for 5 mins, until toasted

Can also be used with kohl rabi … and no doubt other root veg!


Gnocchi with butternut squash
Serves 4

500 g potatoes like Maris Piper
150 g 00 flour or plain flour (plus more for dusting)
1 egg
salt and pepper
450g butternut squash , peeled and cut into small chunks
2 tsp olive oil
70 g butter
6 sage leafs
parmesan cheese

Boil the potatoes and mash them while still hot, in a bowl then add the egg, the salt and 100 g of swift flour.
Mix well then turn the dough onto the pastry board and add the rest of the flour little by little to obtain a dough of the right consistency.
Work the dough, mixing until no longer too sticky to the touch; don’t work it too much.
On a floured surface roll out long sausage shape lengths, and cut them into 1cm pieces.

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Tip the squash into a roasting tin with the oil, salt and pepper and mix well.
Roast for 30 mins, shaking the pan halfway through, until tender and golden.

Cook the gnocchi in a big pan of boiling salted water, few at the time.
As soon as the gnocchi rise to the surface, remove then with a slotted spoon and place on well-heated places.

Serve with the melted butter, the roasted butternut squash, some sage leafs and plenty of grated Parmesan cheese.

Beetroot and onion warm tortilla
Serves 4

1 onion
200g cheese
150g cooked beetroot
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
4 soft tortillas
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Slice the onion and beetroot. Cook the onion in a little olive oil until soft.

Lay a tortilla flat on a board or clean surface, and spread half of each tortilla with some of the cheese (divide between the four).  Then, sprinkle with rosemary and onion, lay on the sliced beetroot, season at taste, and fold over.

Heat a frying pan up to a medium heat and lay a tortilla in the pan, with no oil.
Cook slowly until it’s golden and crisp, and then flip over. Repeat with all of the tortillas, and keep warm in the oven if wanted.

To serve cut it in half and serve with a nice salad.



 I usually make double quantities and go heavier on the spices

6 oz plain flour
pinch salt
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 oz caster sugar
2 level teaspoons ground ginger
6 oz (or 3 tablespoons) black treacle
3 oz butter
1 tablespoon water
1 egg
½ pint sour milk (or add 1 teaspoon lemon juice to ½ pint milk)
(sliced almonds for decoration - optional)

Sift flour, salt, spices and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and set aside.
Into a medium sized saucepan measure the sugar, treacle, butter cut into small pieces and the water. Stir over a low heat until blended together. Draw pan off heat and set aside to cool (such that hand can comfortably touch pan.) Add the unbeaten egg and beat in thoroughly. Stir in the soured milk. Gradually sift the flour mixture over the surface and stir in using a flat wire whisk. (Ed. A round wire whisk works fine!)
Pour mixture into an 11 x 7 inch buttered shallow cake tin/roasting tin lined with a strip of greaseproof paper. Sprinkle with almonds if wished. Place in centre of moderate oven (350ï‚° F, 180ï‚° C, gas mark 4) for 40 minutes or until cake springy to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin. Cut into squares or slices. Serve as it is or spread with butter.


Making a sourdough starter
Mix a cup of lukewarm water with a cup of flour.  Leave the mixture in a warm place (21-23â°C/70-80â°F) for a few days covered with a thin towel to keep the dust off but allow it to breathe.  Every 24 hours discard about half of the mixture and feed the remainder with half a cup each of water and flour until it starts to smell sour-yeasty and has bubbles on the surface.  This should take 3-7 days.  Once the starter is ‘alive’ it’s ready to use. 
Store it in a wide mouthed non-metallic container with an unsealed lid (as it needs to breathe – old stilton crock pots with lids are perfect).  You can store the starter in the fridge for up to about a month between uses. 
For best results use water that’s been left out for an hour to allow the chlorine (that could kill the yeast) to evaporate off, and use plain unbleached flour as that still has its natural yeasts.  A little bit of whole-wheat flour can sometimes help if the starter doesn’t come to life after a few days.
Or, do what I did and beg a jar of starter from a baker! It’s definitely true that the older the starter the better bread it makes.  I can give you some of mine if requested.

Sourdough baking
For the best results plan ahead a little (the evening before is ideal) – the longer you leave the dough to rise, the better the bread will be.  It can be risen more quickly in a warm place if you’re in a hurry, but the bread isn’t quite as light in texture.
First, get the sourdough out of the fridge and transfer into a bowl, and put some water in a jug.  Leave both to come to room temperature.  Don’t worry if the starter has a greyish liquid on top when it comes out of the fridge – it sometimes separates a little but is fine once you mix it all up.
Next feed the starter with 1½  cups each of the water and some flour, cover and leave to rejuvenate for about 4 hours.  Now it’s ready to use.

Basic bread recipe
These ingredients are very much a guide - relative amounts and texture are more important than accurate measurements.  Depending on how runny your starter is and what type of flour you’re using you may need to add a bit of water. 
2 cups starter
3 cups unbleached flour (strong bread flour, ½ multigrain or whole-wheat with ½ plain all work well)
2-4 teaspoons caster sugar (according to taste)
2 teaspoons salt
Once you’ve taken the starter needed for the recipe, give the remaining starter enough water/flour feed to make it back up to about a cup in volume, transfer back into its pot and put it back in the fridge for another day.
For the bread, mix everything together until it forms a dough – for best results keep it moister than the soft and stretchy texture you would use for ‘normal bread’.  It’s rather sticky, so one handed kneading in the bowl is best, but 5 minutes kneading is plenty (or less for focaccia type breads).
Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for anything up to 12 hours at room temperature – but 3 hours in a warm place is OK.
Once it’s risen cover your palms with (olive) oil and carefully prise/lift the dough from the bowl.  It will oose through your fingers somewhat, but just persuade it by folding the dough a few times so it keeps some of its shape and takes in some of the oil before transferring to a greased baking sheet or loaf tin.
Cover, and leave to rise a second time for a few hours (you can cheat and go straight to the oven if you’re in a rush but it will not rise as much).
When ready to bake switch the oven on to 180â°C (350â°F, Gas mark 4) and put the loaf straight in the oven. DO NOT PREHEAT THE OVEN!
Bake for about 30-45 minutes for a loaf tin/bloomer type loaf (but 20-30 minutes is usually enough for flatbread/focaccia type loaves), until the crust is brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
Like any homemade bread with no preservatives it is best eaten on the day you make it, although it can be toasted on the second day.

Focaccia Bread
Follow the basic bread recipe but keep the dough as moist and sticky as you can manage.  After the first rising fold in some chopped olives.  This means the dough gets folded a bit more than a standard loaf, so use plenty of oil on your hands – the oil incorporates into the dough as you fold and helps to produce uneven sized bubbles as it rises.
Transfer to a well-greased baking tray and pull/push it out to stretch it into a vaguely rectangular shape.  Leave to rise for 2-4 hours, then use greased fingers to poke dimples all over the top of the dough, sprinkle with rosemary/coarse salt (whatever you like) and drizzle with a little olive oil before putting in the oven as for the basic recipe.
This bread can be eaten straight away while still warm, or popped into the oven to reheat before serving.

Once you’ve made a few successful loaves, it’s really worth experimenting with timings and ingredients.  A few I’ve found worked well:

Granary loaf: ½  and ½ white/granary flour, fold in broken hazelnut before second rising.
Cheese loaf: all white flour, fold in crumbles of stilton or cubes of cheddar before second rising.
Sun-dried tomato ciabatta or focaccia (depending on how moist your dough is!): all white flour, fold in chopped sun-dried tomatoes before second rising.


Easy Focaccia 

500g strong white flour
1x7g sachet of fast action dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
1tsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
300ml warm water

Topping consists of:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flaked sea salt
1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1 tbsp roughly chopped rosemary leaves and little sprigs for the holes.

Heat oven to 220c/fan 200c/gas 7.

Put flour, yeast, sugar and salt in large bowl. Mix the olive oil with the warm water and pour on flour mixture. Stir with wooden spoon and bring mixture together to form a rough ball. Turn on lightly floured surface and knead for 5 mins and transfer to oiled bowl. Cover bowl with shower cap or cling film and let it rise in warm place approx. one hour or it has doubled in size.

Lightly oil a baking tray.

Turn out dough onto floured surface and knock it back with your knuckles. Press the dough into a rough rectangle, about the size of the baking tray, then carefully place it on the baking tray and ease it out towards the edges (don't worry too much about how it looks it's meant to be rustic).  Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave in warm place for a further 30 minutes to prove (the focaccia will then look puffed up and spongy).  Use your index finger to poke dimples all over the dough right through to the bottom of the tray.  Drizzle with the topping olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary.  Bake in centre of oven for about 15 to 20 mins or until well risen and golden brown.

Serve warm.


Amaretti & Raspberry Crunch Cake 

175g Butter or Marg   140g Self Raising Flour

175g Sugar                  85g Ground Almonds

3 Eggs                         Almond Flavouring to taste

Beat all above together.

140g Broken Amaretti Biscuits        250g Raspberries

Spread half the beaten cake mixture in tin and spread with half the biscuits and rasps. Then repeat

Bake for 55 – 60 mins at 160C/140Cfan – cool for 15 mins – put in fridge for 2 days.



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