“Honey Bundt Cake” from “Flavour”

Regular readers of this blog will know that I frequently test out the cake/tart/sweet treat recipes on my book club. They are willing guinea pigs and *usually* we end up with something delicious. (Aside from the one time I had to throw out an entire cake once it emerged from the oven because I could tell by looking at it that it was going to be disgusting. But we don’t talk about that.)

I wasn’t so sure about this once I had made the batter. Ruby tells you in the introduction that the quantity makes “a smaller, more manageable cake” but it looked like very little batter to me. But I persevered, and also used the bundt pan where it wouldn’t have mattered how much batter filled the pan– unlike this one.

I’m glad I did so. While it did make a much smaller bundt cake than the one I’m used to producing, it made a very reasonable sized cake and small slices too. This meant that nearly everyone went for a second slice, which we ate while we drank our coffee or tea. It’s the perfect cake for hot drinks.

This was a triumph. So much so that two of the book club members, who have endured tested many a cake for me said it was by far their most favourite book club cake ever.

High praise indeed.

If you’d like to impress your own book club, or indeed your own family, Google Books has indexed Flavour and you can find the recipe by clicking through this link.

“Honey Bundt Cake” from “Flavour”

“Bitter Flourless Chocolate Cake with Coffee Cream” from “Simple”


Book club night!

I love being able to try out new recipes from our tester cookbooks for book club, but they also love to be the guinea pigs, so I call that a win-win situation.

Tonight it was time to try another flourless chocolate cake. I’ve tested quite a few on this blog. I think my favourite– or at least the one I turn to repeatedly– is the one by Angela Hartnett in “A Taste of Home”.

This one was much like the others. I’m thrilled to say that it didn’t collapse, but as I’ve written previously, I know to beat the egg whites in utter submission in order for the cake to stay firm after baking.

The new addition to this particular version of flourless chocolate cake was the making of coffee cream to go with it, where you whip up double cream, a coffee paste and some alcohol. Diana Henry wanted me to add whiskey to it, but given just the smell of whiskey makes me nauseous, I decided to add amaretto instead. Tim suggested if I make the cream again I use Bailey’s Irish Cream, which I thought was a stellar suggestion, so I will do that.

The book club loved it. We were busy disagreeing on our opinion of the book* [see below], but we could agree on loving this cake. It was another winning recipe.

*If you’re curious what we read, it was “The Reader on the 6.27” by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent, and translated by Ros Schwartz. I loved it, but the club was split on its option. Five of us loved it, four of us hated it. I would urge you to read it, but four of my friends would not. For what it’s worth.

This recipe, which I definitely recommend, can be found on the Telegraph website. You can read it by clicking through this paragraph.

“Bitter Flourless Chocolate Cake with Coffee Cream” from “Simple”

“Blackberry Tart” from “Sirocco”


Hastily taken photo in the middle of book club. Apologies for the quality. 

When we went to see Sabrina Ghayour demonstrate this book, she said she always struggled with making pastry until Raymond Blanc showed her the method she describes in this recipe. If only we could all have personal lessons from Raymond Blanc to learn how to make things. Sigh.

But the point is, the recipe and the instruction she has for the pastry are very clear and easy to understand. So if you struggle with pastry, you might want to read and make this one.

I’ve now made this tart twice: once for Sunday lunch and another for my book club. It was yet another Book Club triumph.

Using pistachios as the base was interesting and delicious. However, here’s a top tip: try to find and use pre-shelled pistachios. The second time I made this, I couldn’t find them, so I had to shell pistachios instead. It was fine– it was a beautiful day so I did the task sitting out in the sunshine– but it’s much, much quicker to use the pre-shelled ones.

Delicious. Would eat again.

“Blackberry Tart” from “Sirocco”

“Princess Charlotte Lemon Drizzle Cake” from “Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube”

IMG_6925I know Princess Charlotte is now more than a month old, but we actually weren’t celebrating her birth when we had this cake. We were having it because my friend requested lemon drizzle cake for this month’s book club, and I try to keep my friends happy. I hopped on to Food Tube and after much faffing around by watching other cake-related videos, I found this one.

It was divine.

However, I need to add several important caveats:

First, this cake and the Food Tube video don’t match up. The Food Tube video, which you can see here, was actually for Princess Charlotte Celebration Cupcakes. I was all set to make a nice batch of cupcakes, but then when I clicked through for the recipe on the website– because there’s no way I’m going to sit and watch and video and write down the ingredients and the method– the recipe was for the cake, with a small PS on the bottom if you wanted to make the Food Tube cupcakes. Since the cake looked so much nicer, I went for the cake.

Second, I think either in the rush to get the recipe out or the celebratory haze of a new British princess, the recipe wasn’t correct. Some ingredients make appearances in the ingredients list in the wrong place and the instructions were a bit vague at times.

Third, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention (and I’m sure I’ll be repeating this over the course of the month), the organisation of the Food Tube page is an absolute mess if you want to find something specific. The lack of an index, or any sort of central list of available recipes/videos, really is a bummer. I ended up wasting a great deal of time just trying to figure out what I wanted to make. I know people love Jamie Oliver, but do they really have that sort of patience to do all that mucking around?

Fourth, this probably will be a criticism that I repeat more than once this month, but I don’t understand why they didn’t just include the recipe under the video rather than making you click through to find it somewhere else. (Actually, I do know why they did that. Jamie Oliver is hungry for clicks on his own website, and by making you click over every time you want to find a recipe after watching it on Food Tube, it doubles his clicks. I feel as though he’s taking advantage of me.) It would be really nice if I didn’t have to go to yet another site to find the recipe of what I just watched. Think about it, Jamie.

Don’t get me wrong. The cake was delicious. It was just a Royal Pain to get there.

If you’d like to make the cake and celebrate Princess Charlotte’s birth yourself, click through this sentence to find the recipe on JamieOliver.Com.


“Princess Charlotte Lemon Drizzle Cake” from “Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube”

“Spruced-Up Vanilla Cake” from “Nigella Christmas”


This cake looks impressive, but frankly it’s all about the pan*.

(Now I’ve got an earworm of “It’s All About That Bass” in my head. I will soldier on, regardless.)

In the cookbook, Nigella uses the Christmas tree Nordicware pan. As I didn’t have that one, I chose between the other two I do have– a castle and this one, which is actually a rose shape but looks like a iceberg when viewed from the side with icing sugar for snow and Monty the Penguin (or his cousin) on the summit.

It was another Book Club triumph. Everyone was impressed, but like I said, it comes down to the pan. The recipe itself was very easy to do and I will definitely be making it again before December is over.

“Spruced-Up Vanilla Cake” from “Nigella Christmas”

“Raspberry Upside-Down Cake” from “Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you want to make this, please click through this sentence to find the recipe on UK’s Good Food Channel. Trust me. It’s good.

First, an important note. This photo doesn’t do this cake justice. While it may look more like a big blob of dark red on top of cake, or even, dare I say it, an edible blood clot, it tastes better than it looks.

This is a perfect cake to make when you’re short on time, which frankly, is much of the time. I’ve now made it twice– once for the grand finale of a Sunday lunch, and again last night for my book club. Both times it was a winner.

The cake is such a resounding success because of the simplicity of the ingredients. There’s no running around to specialty shops to find something obscure. It’s just sugar, butter, eggs, self-rasing flowers and raspberries. Even the raspberries are frozen, which I easily found at my local Co-Op.

Making the cake itself is also a doddle. I finished last night in less than 15 minutes, which a real win.

One thing to note if you do decide to make this– the quantity of raspberries is a bit miserly, only 250 grams. The first time I made this, it didn’t really cover the bottom of the pan. Last night when I made it, i went a bit overboard and added 600 grams of raspberries, which was too much. So maybe 500 grams would do it, but 250 grams is definitely not enough.

All in all, a triumph.

“Raspberry Upside-Down Cake” from “Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen”