White chocolate & raspberries…

This is a lovely cake  – as taste tested by everyone here at work! As there’s white chocolate in it, it really doesn’t rise as much as some recipes and you have to keep an eye on it and keep your timings perfect, as it can overbrown if you lose track of the time. The magical combination of chocolate and raspberry always wins the day and this is just so delicious.

White chocolate cake


  • 310g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon of baking powder
  •  ½ teaspoon salt
  • 175g white chocolate, chopped
  • 125ml hot water
  • 225g butter, softened
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 1½ teaspoons of vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 4. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate, baking powder and salt.
  2. Melt the chocolate and hot water over a low heat, stir till smooth and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Beating well each time. Stir in the flour mix alternately with some buttermilk. Mix in the melted chocolate.
  4. Pour the batter into two 23cm round cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer in the centre of the cake comes out clean.


White chocolate Philadelphia frosting


  • 200g pack Philadelphia cream cheese at room temperature
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 175g white chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 275g Icing sugar



  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and mix well again.
  2. Gradually add the sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. To finish the cake, add some raspberry jam between the layers and then cover with the icing, decorating with fresh raspberries.






Mother’s apple crumble

The crumble is a good old ‘standard’ British pudding. It’s so easy and adaptable that even reluctant cooks could produce a crumble as it doesn’t need the delicacy of pastry or the careful attention of cake making. My mother makes a wonderful crumble, and we tucked into this apple version (pictured) the other night when we had friends round to dinner. It comfortably fed eight of us and was served with ice cream, clotted cream or, in some cases – both!

The prep for this pudding can all be done in the morning before you need it and two bowls, one crumble mix and one apple can be stored ready for the evening meal. This particular crumble used apples from the garden but you can use almost any fruit you want – I have had particular success with peaches, plums and I even did an apple and left over Christmas mincemeat combo that was very popular.

Ingredients: (to serve 8)

  • 8oz self raising flour
  • 4 oz butter (or other fat of your choice)
  • Sugar for the stewed apple
  • 4 oz sugar (or less to taste) for the crumble
  • Tablespoon or two of demerara sugar to decorate

Peel, core and chop the apples. Stew in a pan with a tiny amount of water and some sugar to taste. Once it is cooked leave in a covered bowl.

Have the fat at room temperature and rub into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Combine with the sugar. This is the point at which you can cover the bowl and leave until needed later.

Assemble the crumble by putting the apple in an ovenproof dish and sprinkling over the crumble mixture. Then put a couple of spoonfuls of Demerara sugar across the top to add colour. Bake in a medium over for about 25-30 minutes.

Serve with ice-cream, custard or cream – down here we like using clotted cream!



Fascinating and fun day out!

When I wrote my ‘My Top 10 days out in the West Country recently, I listed ‘The House of Marbles’ as one of my top choices. I am somewhat biased here as this is run by friends of mine, but it really is a fascinating place to visit and has something to interest visitors of all ages.

They manufacture glass wear in the traditional old pottery buildings on their site and I always find glass blowing absolutely fascinating to watch. There’s a museum with lots of interesting facts and examples of old-fashioned games and marbles of all sizes and antiquity. 

There are lots of nice little touches aimed especially at children throughout The House of Marbles. Hidden in among displays are moving life-size model animals such as gorillas with swivelling eyes or slumbering bears, that ‘breath’ and ‘snore’ as you wander past. Children absolutely adore things like this. There’s also a ‘wobbly’ distorting mirror that both children and adults seem to find endlessly fascinating!

The shop is huge and sells everything from exquisite glass wear to modern games and jewellery. If you are looking for unusual gifts – I’d be amazed if you couldn’t find something – it is packed with original items both fun and educational. 

There’s a whole section full of individual marbles for sale that children cannot resist. They can select their marbles just like we used to ‘pick and mix’ sweets in the old days. It’s a lovely way to get youngsters interested in an old-fashioned game and makes a change from their X-Boxes and wiis

On the way upstairs to the first floor of the shop (I told you it was huge!) is, what I suspect is the most popular attraction in the shop – ‘Snookie’ the largest marble run in the UK and possibly the world! As you reach the top of the stairs you will see a crowd of people, most often the male of the species of all ages, standing mesmerised as they watch the marbles clank and skip and run down through the complicated marble run again and again. It is fun to watch, especially as the route the marbles take seems to vary at random.

The first floor of the shop is full of very tempting clothing and kitchenwear and all sorts of lovely things that you know you absolutely HAVE to own!

And, to cap it all, there’s The Old Pottery Cafe and Restaurant. Serving everything from a full English breakfast to very yummy cakes, coffees and teas to snacks and three-course lunches. The restaurant is always busy – always a sign of good food – and locals eat there just as much as visitors. 

And if the weather is fine, there’s a Games Garden where you can enjoy your lunch outside in the courtyard where skittles, chess, giant Jericho and of course marbles are there to be played.

There’s plenty of free parking and no entry fee. The house of Marble is open Monday to Saturday, 9am – 5pm and Sunday, 10am – 5pm. It is closed on Easter Sunday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.


Savoury scones – for a change!

Everyone thinks of scones as a Devon tea time treat with jam and clotted cream, but they are equally delicious with cheese and in this case bacon – dead easy to make and these were very well received!!

Bacon and cheese scones

  • 250g Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 60g cold butter
  • 120g diced cheese
  • 70g or good handful of fresh chives
  • 220g cooked bacon
  • 200ml double cream (plus extra for brushing)

Preheat oven to 220ºc (200ºc fan).

Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Add the butter and use your hands to make a coarse crumble mix. Add the cheese, chives and bacon and mix, then add the cream until the mixture comes together.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and use your hands to press the dough down to about 1 inch thick, then cut about 12 rounds using a cutter, brush the tops with the extra cream, place in the oven and bake for about 30 mins.



Delicious light, savoury bites

Most of the time I tend to show you sweet things, so I thought we should redress the balance with something savoury! These smoked salmon and cream cheese bites are delicious and easy to eat if you are balancing a glass in one hand – or if you tend to have more casual family gatherings as I do –they can just be arranged on a plate as part of a cold meal. But do give them a try!

I also ended up making some tiny chocolate éclairs – for the simple reason there was too much choux pastry just to make the salmon bites… and my mind obviously went to chocolate (oops)!

Savoury choux buns

Choux buns:

  • 75g butter
  • 200ml cold water
  • 125g plain flour
  • 3 eggs


  • 200g cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives
  • 50g smoked salmon (diced)

Preheat oven to 200ºc.

Melt the butter in a pan with the cold water and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour, using a wooden spoon, until well combined (about 3 mins). Add the eggs a little at a time whisking constantly. Put the mixture into a piping bag/gun and pipe 3cm balls onto a non-stick baking tray, leaving a space double that size between each one. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 mins.

For the filling combine cheese, chives and smoked salmon then once choux buns are completely cooled cut off the tops and pipe in filling.

Mini éclairs:

As I had enough choux mixture left over I made some mini éclairs, I piped 5cm lengths instead of balls and baked for the same time, then once cooled filled with fresh cream and topped with chocolate.