What's New
Site Map

Bits N Bobs
Food And Drink

Recipe Collections
Recipe A Week 2013
Recipe A Week 2010
A-Z of Regional Cakes

Selected Entries
Pinhole Photography
Keeping Quail
A different recipe each week
Friends websites
Oven Temperatures and Measuring Cups

Most popular stories
A Hamster's Home is his C...
Hamster Peanuts
Simple HDR photography wi...
A Tangfastic Mess
Halloween Animal Beds
Pizza, Hamsters and Ballo...
Hamster Baby Update
Decaffeinated Coffee
Garden Fountain
More Squirrel Photos
Not Quite HDR photography

RSS Feeds:
RSS Feed Entire Site.
RSS Feed Diary only.

Powered by Blosxom

Pinhole Photography Ring
pinhole webring logo
powered by RingSurf
Next | Previous
Random Site | List Sites

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, lemon 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

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

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

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /

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

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /

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.

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

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /

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

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /

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.

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

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /

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.

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.

Scones, Cakes and Biscuits

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /

I've taken advantage of being at home over Christmas and New Year and I've managed to try a few new recipes.

Plum Slice

We've got a lot of fruit in the freezer waiting to be used. I was looking for recipes and adapted a blackberry slice recipe to use plums. When the plums defrosted a lot of juice came out so I strained it off and simmered it to thicken it.

Sweet Potato Scones

Sweet potato and cheese scones used up one of the sweet potatoes that have been sitting in the kitchen for a few weeks. They made a tasty lunch.

Spelt Biscuits

Spelt biscuits were made using spelt flour, bread flour, butter and fruit juice. I put some powdered ginger in to give them a bit more flavour.

Funnel Cake

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /

This is actually being uploaded the same day as the Nottingham Apple Pudding (5th February 2015) but is being back-dated. I found the photos of the funnel cake on my camera but didn't get around to copying them off at the time.

Funnel Cake

I had forgotten we had made them and when I saw the thumbnail images on the computer screen, I couldn't work out what they were until I zoomed in.

I think this is the recipe we followed, where the batter starts of a bit like a hot water pastry made with butter, then has eggs added to make it more pourable.

Regional Cakeathon M: Manchester Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /

Althoug I lived in Manchester for 3 years, I only remember Manchester Tarts from school dinners. The version we used to have was similar to the one given here, with a pastry base topped with jam and set custard, with coconut sprinkled on top.

I have decided to go further back in time and cook a Manchester Pudding which appears to be an older version of the dish. A lot of old recipes (such as the one from Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery and Mrs Beaton) use puff pastry then jam and custard. Most modern variants have the custard on the bottom then jam then meringue, which is what I have done here.

Manchester Pudding recipe


Custard base

Warm ½ pint of milk with 25g of sugar, 25g of butter and a few drops of vanilla essence. Add 50g of breadcrumbs and simmer for a couple of minutes. Beat in 2 egg yolks and pour into ramekins or a pyrex dish. If using ramekins, put them in a tray with some hot water in the bottom. Bake at gas mark 4 for around 30 minutes (or 45 if doing a single dish).

Jam Layer

The tradtional way is to let the custard cool then spread jam over the top. We had half a jar of cherry coulis so I stirred in a teaspoon of arrowroot to thicken it then poured it over the custard.


I whisked the 2 egg whites along with 100g of icing sugar and a pinch of cream of tarter, until the whites had increased in volume and gone thick enough to form peaks without collapsing.

I spooned the meringue over the fruit layer then baked at gas mark 8 for 10 minutes.

Manchester Pudding recipe
The flash had made the meringue look like it has some kind of gold glitter on top. The custard layer at the bottom was a bit soft: maybe an extra egg or more breadcrumbs might have helped. Apart from that the taste and texture were pretty good.

Regional Cakeathon L: Liverpool Tart

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /

When I began this A to Z of regional baking, I started to look for recipes named after places I knew or had been to. When I was looking for recipes for the letter L I found this and Lincolnshire Gingerbread. The latter is a recipe from Grantham, which we visited last year on our way to Skegness, but since I grew up on The Wirral and we would occasionally go shopping to Liverpool, I thought the more local recipe might be a better choice.

When I found this recipe, I thought I should give it a go. It's not as well known as the Manchester Tart - apparently the recipe was recently rediscovered in a hand-written recipe book.

Liverpool Tart

The original version of the recipe was published in a village newsletter (orignal web page no longer available but is archived here and is reproduced below).

See more ....

From a family cookbook dating back to the 1790s

Liverpool Tart

  • ½lb moist sugar (use a dark brown sugar)
  • 2oz butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon
  • pastry

Put the butter and sugar into a moderate oven to melt. When melted, let it cool. Boil your lemon whole very slowly (or it will break) until quite soft. Mince it whole as it is, saving the juice as much as possible and taking out the pips. Mince very fine. Beat the egg well. Mix all well together. Line a flat open tart dish with good paste [ie. pastry] and pour in the mixture to one uniform thickness (about ½ an inch), cross bar over and bake. Serve hot or cold.

The version of the recipe I followed came from the link at the top of the page. I made a quantity of sweet shortcrust pastry and while it was cooling down in the fridge I made the filling:

  • One lemon with (most) of the pips remove - see below.
  • 8 oz brown sugar
  • 2 oz butter
  • 1 egg (beaten)

I melted the butter, stirred in the sugar, blitzed the lemon in the food processor, then when the butter/sugar mixture had cooled a bit I mixed everything together.

I didn't blind-bake the pastry but poured the mixture in before cooking at gas mark 5 for 22-25 minutes.

Overlooked lemon pip

The resulting tart is a bit like a softer version of a treacle tart. The filling was a bit sticky with a few crunchy bits: the lemon had lots of pips. I chopped it up before liquidizing it, and there were were several pips in each piece.

There is an interesting discussion on the history of the Liverpool Tart in the PDF available from www.gerryjones.me.uk. Apparently several bakers in and around the city have started producing them.

Raspberry Bakewell Cake

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /

Despite this recipe being named after Bakewell, this is nothing to do with my A-Z of Cakes since the cake is really named after the Bakewell Tart and not the town itself. The 'genuine article' is the Bakewell Pudding, not the pastry based tart you can get in the shops everywhere else.

We first cooked this cake a few years ago, following a recipe we cut from a newspaper. An almost identical recipe features on the Good Food magazine site but uses more raspberries than the one we followed.

Our main change was to use diced marzipan in the middle layer and also on top instead of flaked almonds.

Raspberry Bakewell Cake

The resulting cake is soft, moist and delicious.