Colourful sponge cake recipe – quick and easy

30 06 2011

I knocked out this cake the other night and thought I’d share it here. It’s a nice, quick, easy one to make and looks as though you’ve spent longer on it than you have!


For the cake:

For the butter cream frosting:

  • 5oz butter / margarine
  • 10oz icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • Selection of food dyes


For the cake:

Cream together the butter and caster sugar. One at a time, add the eggs and beat in. Gradually mix in the flour with a metal spoon.

Grease and line one 9″ or two 7″ cake tins. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Separate the cake mixture into a number of bowls, one for each colour you are going to use. Add a different colour of food dye to each bowl and mix in thoroughly. If you are feeling adventurous, add a different flavouring to each colour as well. One by one, pour the contents of the bowls into the cake tin. Do not stir the mixture once it’s in the cake tin.

Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, until a wooden skewer poked into the middle comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool before icing.

For the butter cream frosting:

Soften the butter by beating it. Once it is soft and creamy, gradually add the icing sugar, beating thoroughly to avoid lumps. Beat in one tablespoon of milk. If the mixture is too stiff, add a little more milk.

Separate the icing into bowls, one for each colour you are going to use, and add a little food dye to each bowl. Mix it in thoroughly to get a nice, even colour.

I iced this cake while it was still in the tin, to stop the icing dribbling down the sides. Obviously, this will only work if you have a cake tin with a removable base. It would not be advisable if you will have to turn the cake tin upside down to get the cake out! In the latter case, you could tape a piece of paper or cardboard around the upper edge of the cake to hold the icing in place until you are ready to serve.

One by one, pour the bowls of icing onto the cake, arranging the colours as desired.


Weekend in pictures

26 06 2011

We’ve had a bit of garden waste kicking about for a while, waiting for the opportunity to burn it. We wanted to burn it on the herb/veg bed so we could dig the ash in. Friday night turned out to provide the ideal opportunity. I’d been hoping the 24th might be a possibility and, as it turned out, it was raining a bit as it came in dark, so no one was sitting out in their garden or had washing out. The wood was really dry, so went up very quickly and didn’t burn for too long. We went out and sat under a tree with the two dogs and one of the cats and watched the fire – it was great.

Last night, I made these Chocolate and Peanut Butter Squares. They are milk chocolate and double cream on top and white chocolate and peanut butter underneath. I left them in the fridge overnight and they were still a bit sticky this morning, although they had set enough to hold their shape. Next time, I’ll use less cream and peanut butter and hopefully that will make them set a bit harder. They taste great, though 🙂

This morning, I discovered that Candy had tidied herself neatly away in the larder.

It’s been really hot today, so I took a few pictures while I was out this afternoon. I don’t have a camera – I just use my mobile phone, so they’re not great quality and I’ve not a lot of settings I can change on the camera, but I like playing about with it nonetheless 🙂

Hybrid Hotpot Recipe

23 06 2011

Last night I was meant to be doing Lancashire hotpot, but I didn’t have half the ingredients, so I made a rather more frugal version and thought I’d share it here.


I used 500g mince and the same volume of cooked porridge to feed 6.


Brown the mince by frying in a fairly deep pan; I used a wok. Chop the onion and add to the mince. While the mince and onions are cooking, boil some porridge and then rinse thoroughly with boiling water to get rid of the ‘gloop’, leaving only the oats. Add this to the mixture in the wok.

Mince, onion and porridge

Add hot water to partly cover the mixture. Stir in gravy granules and sage to taste. Leave it to simmer.

Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Grease an oven-proof dish and line the bottom with thin slices of potato. Pour in the filling, then cover with another layer of potato. Brush the tops of the potato slices with butter / margarine and bake in the oven until the potatoes go crispy and golden brown on top.

Before baking

After baking

Fish Pie

21 06 2011

We’d not had much fish recently, so I did a fish pie at the weekend.



Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Par-boil the potatoes for mashing. While they are on, grease an oven dish and flake the fish into it. Boil the onion and peas together and add to the fish.

Make the parsley sauce by bringing the milk to a simmering point in a pan, then adding the onion, parsley, flour and butter. Do not combine the flour and butter before you add to the milk! Keep stirring the simmering mixture until it thickens up. You can either pour the mixture straight into the oven dish or strain it first.

Mix the contents of the oven dish together well and spread evenly.

Mash the potato with a couple of tablespoons of milk and cover the fish with it evenly. I find the easiest way to do this is by taking a spoonful of mash and smoothing it off the spoon onto the pie with the back of a fork. Spread the top with a thin layer of butter/margarine. Grate cheese evenly over the top of the mash and put the dish in the oven for about half an hour.

When it’s done, the top should be golden and crispy and the fish should be thoroughly cooked.

Toad in the Hole Recipe

3 06 2011

Last night’s tea was toad in the hole. It’s a fairly simple dish and is nice in that you can bung it in the oven and leave it for half an hour.

First, pop some sausages in the grill. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C. We’re lucky in that our grill also functions as an oven, so I just use that once I’ve finished grilling. While they’re cooking, make up the batter. To do this, mix together 6 oz plain flour, a large pinch of salt, some thyme, some black pepper and 6 eggs. Whisk in 3/4 pint of milk. Some suggest it’s worth leaving the batter to stand for a period of time, some recommend half an hour, others up to four hours. Personally, I just leave it to stand until I’m ready to use it. Grease an oven-proof dish and tip in the mixture. Slice up the sausages and drop them in, spreading them evenly. Put it in the oven and leave it for around half an hour or until it’s puffed-up and golden-brown on top.


Sausages under the grill

Toad in the hole

Bubble and Squeak

2 06 2011

Last night I made bubble and squeak. I hadn’t made it before. I think it was maybe a little on the sloppy side, but it tasted great. Here’s a quick run-down of the recipe.

Basically, I made mashed potato, added boiled cabbage and fried onion, mixed it all together, split it into patties and fried those. I suspect I may have used a little too much milk and/or not chopped the cabbage up finely enough, as the patties didn’t bind together too well when frying. Next time, I won’t fry them at such a high temperature, either. I understand that one would usually fry or grill bacon and chop that up and mix it in as well, but we didn’t have any bacon, so I just skipped that part.

I served it with sausages and gravy.

Bubble and squeak, pre-frying


24 05 2011

Today, I have a large dollop of mayonnaise in my lunch box.

We get through quite a lot of mayonnaise in our house. At the end of last year we obtained half a bucket of it from a café that was closing down and we got through it in no time. It was gorgeous – the kind of mayonnaise that you get when you go out for a meal, not the kind that’s available in the supermarkets. We’ve got through a good few jars of it since that ran out, attested by the mass of empty jars in the cupboard waiting to be re-used. We also get through masses of ketchup and BBQ sauce.

In some cases, my lunch box being a case in point, I think the sauces are being used to make up for slightly flavourless cooking. I have left-over mash and peas in my lunch box and, while they were nice in the context of mince and Yorkshire puddings, they are not that nice on their own. It’s not a particularly bland mash (see here), it’s just not very appetising.

I’d like to have a go at making some sauces in bulk and jarring them up at home. To be quite honest, I don’t have a clue what BBQ sauce is even made of and I don’t know what’s in ketchup beyond tomato and sugar. It would also be interesting to see how much bang we get for our buck, so below are the prices of the sauces we are currently buying. At first glance, it looks as though there may not be an awful lot to be saved on mayonnaise at least.

Sauce Price
Mayonnaise 7.6p/100ml
Ketchup 10.0p/100g
BBQ Sauce 31.3p/100g

So, what goes into each of these sauces?

There seem to be quite a few different recipes for mayonnaise out there, but the common ingredients seem to be eggs, oil (various kinds have featured), lemon juice or vinegar, some kind of mustard and salt & pepper.

The tomato ketchup making taking some experimenting with. The recipes I have seen so far required large quantities of fresh tomatoes, which we are unlikely to have. We can, however, get tinned ones at 77.5p/kg. We will also be needing sugar, which we should be able to get at 82p/kg. There don’t actually seem to be any other ingredients common to all the recipes and the quantities of sugar required seem to vary enormously.

BBQ sauce recipes seem to vary massively, so the most sensible starting point would seem to be the ingredients of the product we’re currently buying (see below), which sounds rather costly. Another experiment, or perhaps we need to just make up our own.

Water, Sugar, Concentrated Tomato Purée (14%), Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Cane Molasses, Spirit Vinegar, Modified Maize Starch, Red Wine Vinegar, Apple Purée, Salt, Natural Flavouring, Smoke Flavouring, Preservatives (Sodium Metabisulphite, Sulphur Dioxide)

I will try to fit this in over the weekend and post an update and, hopefully, some results! I suspect it’s something we’re not going to save much money on, but it’ll be fun, maybe healthier and, who knows? We may end up with something we prefer to commercially-available brands.

It would be great to hear other people’s sauce experiences and recipes!


The mash was made by finely chopping, but not peeling, the potatoes and par-boiling them. I then didn’t drain them, but just added a dash of milk and a few spoons full of stock from the mince I was cooking.

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