Monday, 11 February 2013

Old blog, new blog!

Hello everyone...I thought you might like to link to my new blog with Good to Know Recipes ...a Popular UK Cookery Magazine. The blogs are very similar to this one, a recipe linked with a special memory:)  
So far I have written 2 articles for them, one is based on an Australian bake and the second is a treat from the USA.
My head  is full of foodie ideas at the moment, and I am looking forward to experimenting with new recipes each month :)
Check back regularly on this blog to see my how my ideas develop and be the first to see pictures of some perfect well behaved recipe results and some of my disasters too...he he....Enjoy Mx
Here is the link to my magazine blog. 'Maxine Bakes Around The World'

Saturday, 1 September 2012

'Z' is for Zucchini Brownies

Well what can I say...finally I have reached the end. This has taken longer than I hoped, but sometimes time wins! Z has been easy as I had planned this recipe a while back.
When we first married we would of not known what a zucchini (courgette to us commoners) was if we had fallen over one. My mum was mortified when she first saw them in our local Waitrose, and yes Waitrose was around in those days! She felt the whole world was being ripped off, She said 'For the price they are charging for those mini marrows I can buy a HUGE one in the grocers for a fraction of the price.'
We did not have money for anything so exotic, so I first tried them at a posh restaurant a few years later, I cant say I was an immediate fan though! But I believe if you try something 7 times then you will like it.....mmmmm not so sure about that, I like courgettes now, but still hate Weetabix, I think I was force fed it as a baby and now I cannot even look at the bright yellow box without wanting to vomit!
My gang have always loved chocolate cakes especially gooey brownies. But they are not keen on the lovely courgette, but I decided I would sneak it in and see if they noticed:) After all you have carrot cake and beetroot cake! This is not a true brownie but when I took it out from the oven  the texture was more gooey than a regular it became a brownie!
They looked and smelt delicious....And my gang devoured them very quickly. It was then I told them the secret ingredient....he he. Would a square of these count as one of your 5 a day????
3oz butter
3floz vegetable oil
10oz sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp each of baking powder and baking soda
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
2oz cocoa powder
9oz self raising flour
1 10 inch courgette grated
4oz chocolate chips
I bar milk chocolate for covering
Line and grease a 9"x 13" pan. pre heat oven to 170C
Beat together butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, salt,  baking powder and soda until smooth.
Beat in the eggs
Sieve the flour and cocoa powder together, add and mix to mixture bit by bit slowly, adding milk if needed to reach a soft dropping consistency.
Fold in the grated courgette and chocolate chips.Spoon batter into pan, and smooth gently.
Bake for 30-40 mins
Turn cake out and leave to cool.
Melt the chocolate saving some for grating over the top. Spread over the top of the cool cake and sprinkle grated chocolate bits over the top.
And now make a cuppa,cut a generous slice, enjoy and start the diet another day :)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

'Y' is for.......Yellow Cheesecake

Yellow Cheesecake.....white chocolate cheesecake on a lemon crumb biscuit base, topped with lemon curd
Seems I like making cheesecakes...I have a few posted up on this blog:) This one was quite tricky to make and initially I was not very happy with it, but my testers ate it all and my Nutty Knitters were positive with words and empty plates! Baked cheesecakes always taste better than they look, but covering this one with lemon curd helped its appearance and taste:)
Yellow is a happy colour and always reminds me of sunflowers. When ever I see those beautiful flowers I am immediately transported back to my Grans cottage garden. She had a very neat vegetable garden and greenhouse at the back, with fruit bushes and trees towards the end, along withh the dreaded the outside toilet. At the very top stood my Granddad's shed and a chicken run. Why is it so many men have their own sheds at the end of the garden? Mind you I am a fine one to talk as my studio is at the end of mine he he.
Her front garden was very different. Although she was a Shropshire lass, then moved to London when she married she always hampered to live back in the clean country air, in a cottage with roses around the door. She followed her dream when her 4 children married, and she moved down to Wiltshire, tucked up in a little hamlet called Patterdown, just outside Chippenham. I have been back to visit and the area has changed so much with houses and retail parks....... So back to the front of her was alive with all sorts of flowers, a riot of colour in the summer attracting butterflies and humming with bees. Any vegetable seedlings that she had left over would be planted at random between the flowers. 
And along the back of the borders sunflowers would be standing tall and proud, their faces following the sun, and smiling. When they lost their petals she left them standing there so during the winter months the birds could have a feast.
I  have a lovely bunch of 6 sunflowers siting on my kitchen windowsill right now....and as I look at them I am always reminded of my Gran.
So a yellow cheesecake in honour of a very special lady hugs 4 smiles Gran wherever you may be xxx

Cheesecake Ingredients and method
1 cup unsalted butter
2 lemon cream biscuits crushed
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons sugar
10 oz. good quality white chocolate, chopped
3 x8 oz. packages cream cheese I used Phillidelphia)
3 eggs
1 jar of good quality lemon curd
Melt 1/2 cup butter in a small saucepan over low heat or in microwave. Allow remaining 1/2 cup butter to soften at room temperature. Mix together cookie crumbs, lemon zest, sugar, and 1/2 cup melted butter. Put mixture in bottom and up sides of buttered 10-inch spring-form pan. Freeze for 30 minutes.
 Place pan containing crust on a baking sheet. Melt chocolate in top of a double boiler or in a small saucepan over a larger pot of simmering water. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes. Beat chocolate and cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat 1/2 cup softened butter until thoroughly blended. Pour into prepared pan over crust. Place baking sheet with pan in middle rack of oven. Bake 1 hour at 170c until cheesecake puffs up and knife inserted off-center comes out clean. Cheesecake center will continue to cook and become firm once removed from oven and cake will sink slightly as it cools. Place baking sheet with pan on wire rack. Cool to room temperature then spread lemon curd over the top. Chill and turn out of tin when ready to serve. Decorate with a dusting of icing sugar and a few raspberries. Mmmmmm x
Following the sun with their faces
The field of flowers were sharing secrets
Rustling and whispering, hopes and dreams,
All except one....all alone....
She followed the star ..but could not share
Keeping her secret in her heart until she faded.

"Sunflower" why do you weep?
"For lost dreams" she said.
Well be beautiful inside
And in all that you do
Then ...well then your dreams will come true.

We could go to France, find the field of sunflowers
Have what should have been ours.
The French they say they know about love
That's why they grow sunflowers
They won’t disappoint us.
And there may come a day, Who knows....
That's the future when it comes

The fairies knew her secret
What stories could they tell?
Of far off places, Tales were told,
Of hopes and dreams to spread,
Chose your path and follow that dream,
The one to happiness they said.

Yes, there were truly fairies in her tree,
Helping her to hang onto dreams,
Weaving silver threads of love and hope.
She nodded....smiled...
And saw all the colours more clearly now.

The fairies knew her summer would come,
She would know for sure that she was truly loved.
Looking to the sky
She smiled at the stars
And carried them off to her dreams.

Don't cry for me he said
As the summer days ebbed.
She started to fade
Keeping her secret, her dream,
Tucked away forever in her heart
She waited
Scattering seeds and petals
In the long shadows
Of the autumn sun.....

The fairies danced and rejoiced
Happy for her
Happy in the knowledge
That she would fade....and know
That they had helped her
Hang on to the threads of dreams..

So for another long winter
Spring warmed the ground
Seeds she had scattered sprang to life.
The fields bloomed that fine summer
No longer alone
She shared sunflower secrets with her friends
The fairies watched
And smiled
She looked to the sky
And said goodbye ....It was time for new beginnings
Maxine Owen 2002

Monday, 27 August 2012

'X' is for....Xingzi Drizzle Muffins

Muffins made with fresh local apricots, topped with a lemon drizzle 
As I have worked my way through the alphabet it gets more difficult to come up with a recipe that evokes a memory alongside it.....'X' has defiantly been one of them! I could of used the word extra omitting the e, but I felt that would been a cop out. Anyway after some research I discovered 'Xingzi', which is the Chinese word for apricots. Very apt right now as we are off to China soon for a months travelling, and I am sooooooo looking forward to the break. I am also rushing now to get this A-Z done so I can starts another baking project on my return, watch this space:) So me thinks some more cake making tomorrow for Y and Z.....
Apricots remind me of summer....I am not sure if your taste buds change as you get older but I am starting to sound like my mum.....she would often remind us that food did not taste the same as when she was young. Well that's me with apricots, I remember them being furry on the outside like they are now, but juicy on the inside. Most of the ones I come across now are hard and sour, or soft and spongy. If anyone can suggest where I can get some super juicy ones it would be much appreciated. They seem to be ok when cooked though....and they made these muffins sweet and moist. I did make these a few weeks ago for my Nutty Knitter ladies. We are a knitting circle that meet in my home every fortnight to sip tea, eat cake  oh and of course do a bit of knitting....not a crumb was left at the end of the day:) 
Apricots remind me of my eldest son.He was 4 when he started school and took to it with lots of enthusiasm, coming home at the end of each day telling me all about his exciting time and all that he had done during the day. I soon realised someone else had stepped into my shoes a little, when he came home and told me how clever his teacher was. He said all excitedly how she could curl ribbon with her fingernails.... seems his world was suddenly not all about me...ho hum.
I think like most Mums we all ask our kids when we collect them at the end of the school day what they had for dinner .Perhaps we ask so we don't feel inadequate in our own choice of food that we dish up!....mind you with a houseful to feed when they are hungry, chicken nuggets and chips from the freezer are always a godsend....oh well something home cooked tomorrow you tell yourself.
When prompted on the way home one evening about his dinner, he revealed he had shepherds pie with lumpy meat....followed by goldfish and custard. Trying not to show a look of horror I questioned him gently to eventually discover he had actually had tinned apricots with his custard....whewwwww there was me ready to pick up the phone and complain about feeding small children goldfish. Would I of had a red face :) 
For the cakes
8oz each of flour, butter and castor sugar
4 large eggs
3 apricots chopped
tsp baking powder 
For the drizzle and topping
3oz castor sugar
fresh lemon juice
Set oven to 200C and put 12 muffin cases into a bun tin
Put soft butter, eggs and sugar into a large bowl. Sieve flour and baking powder together into the same bowl.
Mix until thick and creamy.
Fold in chopped apricots
Bake for 15-25 mins or until cooked 
While the cakes are baking combine sugar with lemon juice. add more lemon if its too thick but you don't want a really runny mix. Chop remaining apricots
Using a skewer make a few holes in each warm muffin, then drizzle the lemon/sugar mix over the top. Decorate with chopped apricots 
Enjoy x 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

‘W’ is for…..Willy Wonkers Bonkers Lollipop Factory!

‘W’ is for…..Willy Wonkers  Bonkers  Lollipop Factory!
Chocolate chip biscuit sponge, filled with chocolate spread and cream. Topped with chocolate and lollipops!!! And a surprise  Enjoy x
I struggled to find a recipe and a memory beginning with the letter 'W' that would inspire a new cake....then the light was switched on!   Roald Dahl's books were some of my children's favourite bedtime stories. And I think the one we all enjoyed the most was 'Willy Wonker's, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'! Last Christmas They showed both the film adaptions of this book, and as a family we were divided on the one we liked the most...I will admit I preferred the 1971 adaptation with Gene Wilder, I found the Johnny Depp film a little scary. 
Obviously I had to make a chocolate cake, filled with cream and covered with chocolate.I then decorated it with lollipops, and topped it off with some popping candy to give an element of surprise :) My children are all grown up now, but this would of been a hit at Birthday parties....not only a piece of cake to take home but a candy lolly as well !!!
The candy sparked another memory, a family tradition. I used to love watching the children's program Blue Peter,all the things they made on there I would try out too. I can remember making the annual  Christmas advent candle mobile, which was made with wire coat hangers and tinsel. I have often wondered why my mother never lit the candles....I am older and wiser now and can see the potential danger. Another idea they had was based on lollipops, I cannot remember what they made, but mine developed into an advent lollipop tree, basically a twig, sprayed with gold paint, then set into a pot filled with sand. I would then sellotape ribbons onto 24 lollies and decorate my tree with them. The countdown to Christmas had began....I will show my age now, there was none of these chocolate filled advent boxes when I was small....But oh the enjoyment of making it, then eating the candy!
I carried this tradition on with my gang, as I have 3 children the tree became bigger to accommodate all the pops!
I shan't bore you with all the recipe details as I think the cake is self explanatory.
Bake your favourite chocolate cake, fill with cream, melt chocolate and spread over the top. When the chocolate is nearly set add the popping candy on top. Decorate with your choice of lollies. I made some cake pops as well, and if you had time you could make your own candies!
Anyway Mr Roald Dahl, thank you for the inspiration and thank you for your very entertaining books :)
Happy Sunday M x

Monday, 30 July 2012

'V' is for....Victoria Sandwich Mini's

My first cookery lesson at school was not very to make a cup of tea! Followed by slicing bread and toasting it, then chocolate rice krispie cakes....Then we were given a list of ingredients to bring in the following week so we could make a classic Victoria Sandwich, our very first proper bake. I was sooooooo excited and could not wait for the next class to come round.
So after lots of mixing, pouring in to 2 greased and lined tins, they were ready to bake. They were placed on a baking rack to cool, perfectly risen, warm and the delicious smell was so tempting. After mid break time we all returned to the classroom whipped up our cream, then spread it onto one sponge, and on the other we spread strawberry jam. Sandwiched them together and dusted the top with icing sugar. Carefully putting into my tin I walked proudly home, looking forward to showing Mum my creation. In my haste to open the tin to show her, my grip on the sides was lost and I dropped the lot on the stone floor. I stood alongside the sorry mess crying while the dog could not believe her luck and tucked into the cake devouring every last crumb:(
Mum came to the rescue though, she gathered up all the ingredients we needed to make another. A lovely bonding time with Mum and Daughter mixing and baking together, and we created the best cake ever.
So tea time was on again. My tears were forgotten as we tucked into the lovely light sponge and delicious filling. So I decided to make mini cakes as a tribute to my mum for making my tears turn to smiles :)
These mini versions turned out really well and were a hit with my taste testers. Oh and thanks Mum for rescuing me that day :)
Hope you enjoy making these as much as I M xx
6oz each of castor sugar, soft butter, sieved flour with 1 tsp baking powder and 3 eggs. A few drops of vanilla extract (optional) Milk. Whipped cream and jam for filling
Grease a 12 portion deep Muffin tin. Set oven to 200C conventional oven or180C fan assisted.
Put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and using the all in one method, beat until the mixture is thick and creamy, adding milk if needed. Spoon into into each muffin cup, place in oven and bake for 15-20mins until golden and risen. remove and leave to cool on a backing rack.
When cold cut each one in half and fill with jam and whipped cream. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy with a cuppa :)

Sunday, 29 July 2012

'U' is for....'Up the Garden' Berry Lemon Drizzle Cake

With all this rain our soft fruits are doing well, the only problem is picking....its not much fun when its wet. Dreams of harvesting under blue skies wearing a summer dress and sunhat have vanished and its mackintosh and wellies for me!!
I picked the last of our strawberries yesterday....a good yield around  40lb this year, so lots of jams, jellies and of course cakes and desserts have been made. I quite often make a berry drizzle cake for family and friends....but this 'Up the Garden' cake has been created from many special garden moments.....
Back to my Grans house....As a child I would be packed off to her house for a few weeks over the summer. She lived in a small hamlet in Wiltshire, in a typical english garden cottage, with roses round the door. all set in beautiful countryside. There was only one thing I hated, and that was the spidery outside toilet and the baths that had to be taken in an old tin bath in front of the kitchen range....and this was in the 60's !
I always enjoyed helping her in the garden digging up carrots and new potatoes, runner beans and broad beans....but when we reached the pea patch I knew I was in trouble. I had been there earlier in the morning, picked and eaten them, I can still taste the sweetness of fresh podded peas in my mouth!
Then onto fruit for pudding, like me now she would have all the summer berries, then later in the year pears, apples and plumbs. She was brilliant at preserving all the surplus, making chutneys, jams, curds, and storing the rest in the freezer. 
Plum jam was always interesting at tea time, thick homemade bread, spread with fresh butter from the local farm, with a selection of jams to help yourself to. I would spoon the jam on the side of my plate and count how many stones had come out with the jam....why she left them in I have no idea, but I enjoyed playing tinker, taylor soldier sailor...for any of you who don't know what this is you line up all the stones or pips  that you find in the fruits and counting each one saying tinker, taylor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief would supposedly tel you who you would marry! Well the predictions were not right my husband does something entirely different.
Anyway enough of my ramblings. I celebrate my Nans garden with this recipe....enjoy x


  • 175g soft butter 
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g fruits in season, washed and chopped if they are largish
  • 140g granulated sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  •  Method
  • Oven 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line   a 900g/2lb loaf tin
  • Put the butter, sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla extract into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 5 mins until pale and creamy, the mixture will be thicker than normal.
  • Spread one-third of the cake mix into the tin, then scatter over some of the fruit.
  • Spread another third of the cake mix on top, and scatter with more fruit. Finally put the rest of the cake mix over and gently spread with a spoon. Bake for 60mins h, until an inserted skewer comes out clean
  • Poke the cake all over with a skewer. Put remaining 75g fruit into a bowl with the granulated sugar. Stir in 1 tbsp of the citrus juice first with a fork, mashing a little of the fruit as you go. If it's a bit dry, add a splash more juice and spoon over the cake. Leave in the tin until the cake is cool and the topping is set and good food
  • I used blackcurrants, tayberries, gooseberries and strawberries