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Apple Sauce Hot Chocolate Brownies part 2

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

I made a second batch of the apple sauce and drinking chocolate brownies. This time I added a handful of dried cherries to the mix. I also used half apple pureé and half olive oil, since I only had half a cup of apple pureé in the fridge (the rest is in the freezer).


When the brownies came out of the oven, I sprinkled 50g of plain chocolate over the top and waited for it to melt before spreading it over the top.

I took the cakes to work the share out and the everyone seemed to like them.

Apple Sauce Hot Chocolate Brownies part 1

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

We have a glut of hot chocolate powder in work, left over from when we used a different drinks machine. I was talking to a colleague in the kitchen and I wondered whether I could use some of it to make cakes. I decided to take some home to make an experimental batch of chocolate brownies. If they were any good, I would make some more to take back to work to share.

Every now and then I use apple sauce in recipes, since it can be used to replace some or all of the butter. We recently bought an Instant Pot, which we use several times a week as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, bread proving pot, or sometimes just a giant saucepan. It is very useful and I fully intend to blog a bit more about it in the future.

We had recently been given a bag of apples from the tree in Emma's Auntie Val's garden. I peeled them, cut them into big chunks and put them in the instant pot with a splash of water. I cooked them on the 'Soup' programme for 15 minutes and they had cooked down to a smooth pureé, there was no need to mash or liquidize afterwards.


I looked up some brownie recipes to get a feel for the quantities, then decided to use the hot chocolate powder to replace both the sugar and cocoa powder.


  • 1 cup of apple pureé
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ cup of hot chocolate powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 50g of plain chocolate, broken into chunks


  1. Heat the oven to 180C or gas mark 4. Grease and line a 9 or 10 inch cake tin.
  2. Mix the apple pureé, eggs and hot chocolate powder together
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and sift into the wet mixture. Fold in.
  4. Stir in the chocolate pieces.
  5. Pour into the tin and bake for about 30-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.


Apple Sauce Hot Chocolate Brownie

Unfortunately I had to leave the house before the brownie was fully cooked so I turned the oven off and left it in while the oven cooled. When I got back, the brownie was properly cooked though, possibly a bit over-cooked because it wasn't moist and squishy inside.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the flavour though. Chocolate cakes do need a lot of cocoa powder or they just end up like brown sponge cakes. This was probably about right. I tried a square, then remembered that I needed to take a photo to put here. After taking the photo, I made a coffee and ate the second piece. If there is any cake left on monday, I'll take it to work, but I'll probably have to make another one to make sure there is enough to go round.

Apple and Banana Flapjacks

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I found some mashed banana and some apple puree in the freezer while I was trying to make room to put away some shopping. I was looking for recipes to try, something different to the usual banana bread, and decided to try some flapjacks.

Apple and Banana Flapjacks

The recipe was 250g of butter, 250g of fruit puree, 100g of brown sugar and 500g of porridge oats. The flapjacks were a bit crumbly and lacked the chewy texture you get with golden syrup. If I find myself making them again, I will probably replace some of the sugar with syrup.

Leftover Bread part 2: Bread Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /

Yesterday I made both the bread frittata and a bread pudding. The former was eaten for lunch, the latter was put straight in the fridge last night and we had half of it as part of our pudding after tea tonight.


  • Bread, 200g
  • milk, 150ml
  • dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, sultanas), 100g
  • sugar, 50g, extra for topping
  • eggs, 1
  • butter, 50g, extra for topping
  • spices (cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice), 2 tsp in total
  • orange zest


The method was very similar to the frittata. The milk and egg were whisked together. The butter was melted and allowed to cool down before being stirred in, then the dried fruit, sugar, spices and bread were mixed in. Everything was poured into an 8 inch tin. The top was dotted with pieces of butter and extra sugar was sprinkled on. Again, the tin was covered with foil and baked, also at gas mark 4, for 45 minutes this time. The foil was removed about 10 minutes before the end.

Bread Pudding

Banana muffins and Madeleines

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I baked a few things during January which I didn't get around to writing about at the time so I thought I'd post a couple of photos now. I made some banana muffins a few weeks ago, to use up some over-ripe and bruised bananas.

banana muffins

We got a madeleine tin for Christmas. It had spaces for 12 cakes, and the recipe in the Hairy Biker's book said it makes 12, which was a happy coincidence.


Regional Cakeathon Z: Zimbabwe Sweet Potato Scones

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /

At last I have reached the letter Z in my alphabetical trawl through cakes and geography. It only took me a bit longer than I expected. I originally planned to make something every week or so but it ended up taking one year and 9 months. I have had to leave the UK again since the only 'Z' recipes I could find were Zimbabwe or Zanzibar.

I'm not sure how authentic this recipe is. There are many versions on different websites, mostly claiming to be a cookie recipe and mostly identical to each other, so it's not been easy to find where it came from. I came across a book called Cooking the Southern African Way: Culturally Authentic Foods Including Low-fat and Vegetarian Recipes which has the same recipe, but without the lemon glaze. This book claims that the recipe was a British invention which may explain why the so-called cookies are actually more like a traditional scone, but without milk.

We regularly have sweet potatoes in the house, so last time we cooked some I grated and froze a tub ready to make these.


  • 140g butter
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 tbs orange zest (the original was lemon zest but I had some orange zest in the freezer)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice (the original used nutmeg)
  • 60g honey
  • 1 egg
  • 140-180g grated sweet potato
  • 400-450g self raising flour (the original used plain flour and separate raising agents)
  • a pinch of salt


I started by softening the butter then beating in the sugar, orange zest, mixed spice, egg and honey. I stirred in the grated sweet potato then sifted in enough flour to make a soft dough. I broke off lumps of dough, rolled then into balls then flattened them into cookies. These were baked at gas mark 3, 170C, for 15 minutes. While the scones cooled, I mixed the icing.

Lemon Glaze

The various versions on-line usually have a teaspoon of lemon juice then small amounts of water are added to get the right consistency. I didn't measure the icing sugar. I started with generous teaspoon of butter which I melted then added the icing sugar. I added enough lemon juice to form a spreadable icing.

Zimbabwe Sweet Potato Scones
The so-called Sweet Potato Cookies.

As I said earlier, these were more like a scone than a cookie. One of the small ones had cracked so I tasted (un-glazed) it while the rest cooled. The combination of orange and spice flavours worked very well. The lemon glaze added a bit of sharpness which worked well.

Regional Cakeathon Y: Yorkshire Curd Tart

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /

I first tried a Yorkshire Curd Tart back in 2010 when we went to the Otley Agricultural Show. I quite liked it so it was the natural choice for me to make for the letter Y.

The pastry base was a standard shortcrust, not the sweet enriched pastry often used for dessert tarts or pies. I figured that the traditional version of a recipe like this would have a more plain pastry.

I've never had much luck with pastry so after baking blind for 10 minutes, I removed the baking beans and put the case back in the oven for another 5 minutes to dry out a bit more.

First attempt at a Yorkshire Curd Tart

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The filling was made by creaming together 50g of caster sugar and 50g of softened butter. I added a teaspoon of mixed spice and 2 small eggs then the curd cheese. We use Quark semi-regularly so instead of making fresh curd cheese, I tipped in what remained in the open tub in the fridge, which was a bit over 100g. I then added 50g of sultanas.

I poured the mixture into the pastry case and baked it as gas mark 4 (180 °C) for about half an hour or so.

Yorkshire Curd Tart

Despite my precautions with the pastry case, the base was very soft and the sides were a bit too crispy. After baking, there was a strong buttery smell in the house and I was worried that the filling had separated but it hadn't. The tart tasted good, not too rich or sweet. It would probably go well with a cup of coffee.

Regional Cakeathon X: eXeter Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /

My choice of recipe for the letter X is a bit of a cheat, since of course Exeter doesn't start with that letter. I have also had to more or less abandon my original idea of doing recipes named after places I've been to or those with some significance or importance to me. I've not actually been to Exeter - the nearest I've been is driving past on the motorway.

I originally found the Exeter Pudding in the ever useful Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery. I had brioche crumbs in the freezer (which has to be a candidate for one of the most middle class things I've written) so I used those for breadcrumbs. I didn't have any rum or lemon rind so I added some limoncello to the breadcrumb-custard mixture.

Exeter Pudding recipe from Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery

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Last night I made a couple of small sponge cakes, using the simple but reliable equal weights recipe. Tonight I assembled the pudding and baked it:


Sponge cake

  • 2 eggs (about 120g)
  • 120g butter
  • 120g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Exeter Pudding

  • 150ml double cream
  • 150g breadcrumbs (from a chocolate chip brioche I made earlier in the year)
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • a couple of tablespoons of limoncello with milk added to 150ml
  • Ratafia Biscuits


I buttered a pyrex dish, sprinkled a handful of breadcrumbs over the base then covered with a layer of ratafia biscuits. I melted the rest of the butter and mixed it with the rest of the 'wet' ingredients. I poured a thin layer of this over the ratafia then added a layer of sponge cake, which I had spread with raspberry jam.

I poured some more mixture over, added more ratafia biscuits, more mixture, a final layer of sponge cake then the rest of the mixture. I covered the dish with foil and baked for about an hour at gas mark 4.

Exeter Pudding

The pudding was a bit sweet but the flavours were good, possibly thanks to the ingredients which went in - you can't really go wrong when a pudding contains cream, brioche and a rich sponge cake.

Exeter Pudding

Regional Cakeathon W: Welsh Cakes

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Most of the recipes I've done so far have been named after towns or regions. This is the first one named after an entire country, one in which I lived and/or worked for over 10 years.

Welsh Cakes

The recipe I followed was the average of several ones:

  • 8oz self raising flour
  • 4oz butter
  • 3oz sugar
  • ½ mixed spice
  • 1 egg
  • sultanas/dried fruit
  • a splash of milk

I put the flour and butter in a food processor and pulsed until it formed breadcrumbs. I then added the mixed spice and sugar and pulsed a few more times before tipping the mixture into a bowl. I added the fruit (a handful of sultanas and mixed berries) and egg and mixed well. I put a small splash of milk in to help it form a dough.

Traditionally, Welsh Cakes are cooked on a flat griddle (another name for them is Bakestones). I cooked them on our pizza stone for about 3-4 minutes each side.

It's been a few years since I ate a welsh cake (the last time I went to Cardiff) so I can't remember exactly how these compare. They tasted ok to me.

Regional Cakeathon V: Virginia Apple Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /

When I started this exploration of regional foods, I wanted to mainly do British recipes but every now and again I have to look further afield for inspiration.

The Virginia Apple Pudding is a moist spiced apple cake and is very easy to make. I found several recipes, most of which were adapted from the same source. I made a smaller version, with more cinnamon and a mixture of apple and pear.

My Recipe

  • 1 cup of apple/pear mixture, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup of plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ granulated sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 4 tbs slightly salted butter, melted
  • ½ cup of milk
  • ½tsp vanilla extract

I followed the original recipe fairly closely: Beat together everything apart from the fruit and cinnamon. Put the last 2 ingredients in a bowl and microwave for a couple of minutes to soften the fruit. Pour the batter into a cake tin then spread the spiced fruit on top.

Bake in the bottom half of a pre-heated oven (gas mark 5) for about half an hour.

Virginia Apple Pudding

After last weeks sago fiasco, this was a lot more successful. The cake was moist, tasty and had just the right amount of spice (I may have mentioned before that I believe most cake recipes under-use cinnamon and tend to increase any quantities given).

Regional Cakeathon S: Selkirk Bannock

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /

I had some spare bread dough left over after making pizza and I was trying to think of something to do with it. I noticed that I had this in my list of cakes to make so I adapted the recipe from Good Food magazine to make my own version.

Selkirk Bannock

I took the dough and kneaded in the butter and brown sugar. When that was smoothly mixed in I kneaded in the fruit, a bit at a time. After leaving it to rise, I baked it at gas mark 4 for nearly an hour.

Selkirk Bannock

My version didn't seem to have as much fruit as the original but since I was adding the fruit gradually, I put in as much as I could until it started to fall out when I kneaded the dough.

Quite a lot of the recipes I have done recently seem to be variations on fruit bread. Since the oldest recipes pre-date baking powder, a yeasted dough was probably the easiest way of making a cake and this type of recipe seems to work well when combined with fruit and spices.

Regional Cakeathon R: Roseneath Pudding

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This is another recipe where the original version seems to come from a single source. I originally found this recipe in Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery (1894) and the only other version I could find on-line or in e-books was from a New Zealand newspaper from 1900 which repeated the Cassell's recipe almost verbatim. Sadly I don't have the resources to search through actual vintage cookbooks but I've amassed a reasonable collection of scanned-in or transcribed e-books which I have been regularly consulting.

Roseneath Pudding Recipe

I have no idea how genuine this recipe is, since Roseneath (or Rosneath) pudding doesn't seem to exist anywhere else but I liked the sound of it so I thought I'd give it a go. Since I intend to revisit some of the alphabet to do some recipes I've missed, I may try another for the letter R, if I can find one with a more authentic heritage.

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Take 2 eggs and their weight in flour, butter and sugar. Beat the butter to cream, add the sugar, flour and eggs and any flavouring that may be preferred. Butter some small cups, three-parts fill them with the mixture and bake in a moderate oven. Serve cold, with almonds sliced and cut into strips stuck into the puddings. Time to bake, 15 to 20 minutes. Probable cost, 8d. Sufficient for 3 or 4 persons.

My version of the recipe

  • 120g butter
  • 120g sugar
  • 120g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

I baked them at gas mark 5 since I didn't know what temperature a 'moderate oven' should be. The two smaller puddings were cooked ok but the larger one was still a bit raw in the middle. A slightly longer time, with the puddings covered in foil to stop the tops burning, might be better.

Roseneath Pudding

(The original recipe claims to cost 8d (8 old pence, 8/240 of £1 or about 3p). 8d in 1894 is worth about £3.30 today, according to an online inflation calculator. The modern price for the ingredients comes to only £1.06)

Roseneath Pudding and custard

The serving suggestion in the book (almonds sliced and cut into strips stuck into the puddings) is a bit vague. I didn't know if the strips of almonds should be poked in or laid flat. I decided to poke them in, giving the appearance of a standing stones on a hill.

The pudding itself was fairly dense (since it doesn't contain any baking powder and doesn't use any special techniques to lighten the batter). Served with custard, it was a fairly standard, but acceptable, sponge pudding.

Regional Cakeathon Q: Quebec Maple Tart

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I have had to go a bit further afield for the letter Q. When I was trying to find a British recipe, the nearest I could find was something called a Summer Pudding Of The Quantocks. The source of this recipe appears to be a single website which no longer exists so I decided to find something else.

There is a traditional Canadian recipe called a sugar pie and there are maple syrup versions from the Quebec region.

The recipe I followed was based on the one here but with the quantities halved:

  • ½ a cup of demerara sugar
  • 1/8 cup of maple syrup
  • 200ml of double cream
  • 1/8 cup of plain flour

I whisked together the first 3 ingredients then sifted the flour and whisked it into the mixture. I made my usual shortcrust pastry recipe, following the one on the BBC website (4oz plain flour, 2oz butter, a pinch of salt and enough water to bring it together).

The base was baked blind then the filling was poured in and returned to the oven, at gas mark 4, and baked until it was bubbling on top and started to look brown.

Quebec Maple Tart

The tart was very good but could probably do with more maple flavour. If I try it again I might up the maple syrup content and slightly reduce the sugar. Alternatively I might follow a traditional English treacle tart recipe but use maple syrup to replace some of the golden syrup.

Regional Cakeathon P: Penzance Cakes

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This recipe came from The Country Housewife and Lady's Director', written by R. Bradley (who was Professor of Botany at Cambridge University) and published in 1728.

The Country Housewife and Lady's Director' (Bradley 1728)

The 'same' in the recipe above refers to a Mrs. M.N. who provided several recipes for the book.

Take the Yolks of Eggs well beaten, put to them some Mace finely powder'd, with a few spoonfuls of Wine, a little Salt, and as much Sugar as you please; then add as much Flour as is necessary, and a small quantity of Ale-Yeast, and work your Dough pretty stiff; then add some fresh Butter, broken in little bits, and work it in till all the Paste has partaken of it, and the Dough becomes as stiff as at first. Make your Cakes then, and bake them. They will keep some time.

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I was unable to find out anything of the history of the Penzance Cake or whether it was traditionally associated with an event or festival. I found one website (Three Hearth House - Chi Teyr Oles, Simple living in West Cornwall) which discussed the Harvest Festival but didn't give any concrete history.

I decided to make two versions of the cake, with and without currants (or more precisely sultanas), so some would be close to the original book recipe and some would be more like the version from the website above (which didn't actually give the recipe they used).

The original recipe was wonderfully vague, as was the fashion at the time, failing to mention any quantities or times. It didn't even mention any need to prove the dough but I took that as an oversight and left mine to rise.

My recipe:

  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 2 tbs wine, infused overnight with 2 cloves and a pinch of nutmeg.
  • ¼tsp each of ginger and mixed spice
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2tbs sugar
  • 2 cups of flour (a mixture of plain and wholemeal)
  • 1 tsp bread yeast
  • 40g butter
  • 2 tbs sultanas

Since I don't have any mace, I steeped some nutmeg and a few cloves in the wine first. I also added ginger and mixed spice to the cake. I mixed everything in the order given in Bradley, adding ¾ of the flour initially, mixing more in while I kneaded in the butter. I divided the dough into two and kneaded sultanas into one half and left the other half plain. I shaped the dough into bread rolls and left them to rise for a few hours.

Penzance Cakes

The dough was quite dense and took a long time to rise. I baked them at gas mark 4 for about half an hour or so, until they looked done. The taste and texture was similar to a hot cross bun.

Penzance Cakes

Regional Cakeathon O: Oxford Pudding

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This is another recipe where there are several different things with the same name. The traditional version (from at least the 18th century) which has biscuit crumbs, raisins, fat, sugar and egg mixed together then fried. There is a modern version which is completely different and has apricots and meringue on a puff pastry base.

Since I usually try to make the more authentic or historic version of a recipe, I had a go at the biscuit version.

Oxford Pudding, 'The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy', Hannah Glasse (1747)
Oxford Pudding, 'The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy', Hannah Glasse (1747)

A quarter of a pound of biscuit grated, a quarter of a pound of currants clean washed and picked, a quarter of a pound of suet shred small, half a large spoonful of powder-sugar, a very little salt, and some grated nutmeg; mix all well together, then take two yolks of eggs, and make it up in balls as big as a turkey's egg. Fry them in fresh butter of a fine light brown; for sauce have melted butter and sugar, with a little sack or white wine. You must mind to keep the pan shaking about, that they may be all of a fine light brown.

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Along with Pope Lady Cakes and Isle of Wight Cracknells, this was another old recipe where I couldn't find any images of the food itself. At least it meant I didn't need to worry too much if mine came out looking a bit untidy or irregular.

Oxford Pudding

I followed the above recipe fairly closely, using a generous heaped teaspoon of mixed spice instead of the nutmeg. The mixture was quite soft and the balls of 'pudding' collaposed slightly in the pan.

I let them cool for a couple of minutes before trying one. They were a bit like a bread and butter pudding bite, surprisingly soft despite the biscuits being quite hard. Since the recipe didn't mention the type of biscuits required, I used a mixture of spare/broken biscuits including oat cookies and shortbread.

After I had made my version, I found another recipe:

Oxford Dumplings, The Art Of Cookery (Mollard 1836)
Oxford Dumplings, The Art Of Cookery (Mollard 1836)

Mix together a quarter of a pound of grated stale bread crumbs, a few currants, a little moist sugar, and a quarter of a pound of beef suet chopped fine, with two eggs, a little salt, and half a gill of cream. Divide the mixture into several parts and boil.

This version is much closer to a bread and butter pudding, using bread instead of biscuit and using a custard to bind everything together.