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

Sunday, 15 July 2012

‘T’ is for……Truly Scrumptious refrigerator cake

A posh version of chocolate Rice Krispy cakes …..a mix of biscuit, Maltesers, Milky Way Stars, Minstrels, and marshmallows encased  in chocolate and decorated with chocolate covered strawberries…….Diet tomorrow me thinks!!! 
Last week during one of the Wimbledon matches a woman was caught on camera doing something that many called disrespectfuldisgusting, unbelievable...what was she doing to provoke such outrage? .......well she was knitting!!! lol funny how times change as I remember when I was growing up most women took their knitting wherever they went, hoping to get a moment to knit a few more rows, and no one batted an eyelid. Now it has been branded as the ultimate crime. Maybe there is a time and a place, but I can think of worse things that the camera could of discovered!!!!   
Anyway this made my thoughts turn to my gran, aunts and my mum with their knitting, which became the inspiration for this easy cake!  Saturday mornings were always given to the task of baking, as a child I was given the task of making Rice Krispie Cakes.....I felt very grown up and important being able to make these without any help from my Gran or Mum.....Much of the mixture ended up on the table top and floor, although I expect quite allot ended up in my mouth, never reaching the pretty paper cases!  
In the afternoon all the women would sit together enjoying each others company, and while they chatted, ate cake, and sipped tea, they got on with their knitting! What a wonderful way to multitask!!!! 
Knitting vanished as a hobby for many years but has grown very quickly into a popular pastime and many knitting circles have been formed up and down the country. Men and women alike have embraced this craft, and discovered its therapeutic and help to chill out....Knitting is yoga for the brain!!
So this cake is for knitters everywhere......Hugs 4 smiles M x

100g (3 1/2oz) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
200g (7oz) milk chocolate, broken into pieces
3 tbsp golden syrup
225g (8oz) digestive biscuits, finely crushed
Handful of Maltesers, Milky Way Stars, Minstrals, Marshmallows (or chocolate delights of your choice)
Grease a 20cm (8") square cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.
Melt together the butter, chocolate and golden syrup and stir until smooth.  Add the crushed digestives and stir until well coated.  Then add the Maltesers and stir quickly so they don't melt.
Press into the tin and chill in the fridge until set. Cut into squares
I decorated mine with chocolate dipped strawberries.....everything comes with strawberries right now as we have a huge glut of them!!!
I made thee Strawberry Muffins for my Nutty Knitter group at our last meet.....Take any Muffin recipe and add chopped strawberries to the mixture before baking x

Knitting is very conducive to thought.  It is nice to knit a while, put down the needles, write a while, then take up the sock again.  ~Dorothy Day 

I like making a piece of string into something I can wear.  ~Author Unknown


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

'S’ is for……Summer Strawberry Sponge

S’ is for……Summer Strawberry Sponge. with an Eton mess filling topped with fresh english strawberries and lemon shortbread hearts

Hello all....once again a little late with this post as time has won. The colourful bunting adorns the local town ready for the annual gala, and although the skies have been grey most of June they add a lovely splash of colour. Strawberries are ripening so fast now, we have picked around 30lb of delicious sweet juicy fruit. I have made lots of jam, baked scrummy cakes, made smoothies and of course a dessert of strrawberries and cream always goes down well. Another delicious way of eating them is with a splash of good quality balsamic vinegar and a little sugar. And everyone's favourite.....strawberries dipped in chocolate mmmmm
This summer cake was inspired by my local church. Ten years ago my family attended our local gala. After the carnival procession, the park spills over with lots of stalls raising money for charities, dog shows, a fair and so on, all the usual that make up events like this up and down the country:)
As I walked on by taking in the atmosphere two young people approached me with the offer of a free fresh strawberries. Me well I rarely refuse a freebie, especially juicy fruit! This was to be a turning point in my life!
I discovered these friendly teenagers were representing a local church, and somehow their whole spiritual enthusiasm was something to really smile about. They gave me leaflets about something called 'The Alpha Course, and I vowed one day I would be able to take part. Rather than waffle on about it I have included a
I went home and pinned the leaflets onto my notice board......and they stayed there for nearly 10 years! My children had grown up and I had a little more time for me, so off I went and thoroughly enjoyed the course and met so many friendly people. My spirituality grew and I finally took the leap, and was journey was finally completed....and all because of a strawberry! So here it is a Strawberry sponge as a thank you to those young people who offered me a juicy ripe strawberry !!!
Make 2 sponges using your favourite Victoria Sandwich recipe.
When cool fill with whipped cream mixed with crushed meringues, chopped strawberries and strawberry jam
Decorate with cream, strawberries and little meringues and shortbread biscuits.
I made my little heart shape biscuits ....but to save time you can buy ready made ones.......Dust with icing sugar.....and serve!!!

Enjoy Love M xxx

Thursday, 21 June 2012

‘R’ is for…..Rocky Road Brownies with all the extras.

Chocolate brownie base baked with biscuit, marshmallows and pecan nuts. Topped with soft chocolate fudge then covered with all the extras! enjoy :)

I have opted for an old favorite with this recipe, combining a brownie with a rocky road topping, using lots of different sweets and nuts. My gang along with their friends always enjoyed this treat, although I am not so sure all the sugar and E numbers were a good idea when they were all hyped up afterwards.
When my children were little they always enjoyed making a birthday cake for their dad. I tried to persuade them to make something different, but they insisted it had to be a sponge cake filled with jam, iced and then the best part for them was the topping. Sticking as many different sweets as they could find on top of the sticky icing. I always had to buy more than was needed as kids like they do would put one sweet on top, then 2 in their mouths! I would confront them and say 'have you got a sweet in your mouth' and they would look at me all doe eyed with a look of 'Who me?' while still chewing ...ho hum
On each birthday we would decorate the kitchen, put the pressies in pride of place an the table along with the cake and candles. we would call the birthday boy/girl into the kitchen light the candles and sing Happy Birthday.
After opening presents the cake would be cut and eaten.....all this before school, naughty mum for giving them cake for their breakfast!!!! 
With their Dad's cake my children would decorate it with all his favorite sweets so cake cut we could find ourselves munching on wine gums, liquorice allsorts, skittles, tooty fruities, fruit gums and all the chocolaty stuff too.....what a good way to start the day, although I am not sure what their teachers thought when they got to school all hyper!!!!


  • 6oz butter, cubed
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 12oz sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup s/r flour
  • 1tsp baking powder 
  • fudge or chocolate spread
  • lots of sweets, chocs, nuts, marshmallows and crushed biscuits of your choice

  • In a microwave, melt butter and chocolate, stir until smooth; cool for 10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until blended. Stir in chocolate mixture. Gradually add flour until well blended.
  • Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 180c fan 160c, gas mark4for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. 
  • When cool spread with your favorite fudge or chocolate spread
  • Sprinkle with the marshmallows, chocolate chips and walnuts
  • Eat and enjoy....then watch the calories for a week after :)

Thursday, 7 June 2012

'Q' is for.... Quandong, Lamington Roll

The inspiration for this cake was 2 very special trips I took to Australia. The first was way back in 2005, a family trip of milestones, my children had reached 21, 18 and 13years old, my husband 50 and we had been married for 25 was to be our last family holiday together. We had a lovely time seeing all the sights and being adventurous, well apart from me that is. While my family were doing all things scary like skydiving and climbing Sydney bridge I opted out as I had a fear of heights.So while they did these once in a lifetime challenges I spent my time travelling around Sydney Harbour on the many little boats and ferries.  On my return home I regretted not joining my family in the walk over the bridge, and vowed one day  I would return and face my fears. 
So in  June 2009 I returned and walked that bridge....and as I got to the summit I cannot begin to describe the elation and sense of pride I had in myself. It was a spiritual moment and as I looked down through the bridge then across the harbour I suddenly realised I had left that awful fear of heights behind. I now wear a little gold charm of the bridge around my neck and in times of fear or uncertainty I hold the little charm and it reminds me that I have faced my fears once and I can do so again.

Quandongs are a native bush fruit that are quite tart in flavour, so a good choice for the letter Q. I have been unable to purchase any here in the UK, but after some research I found they are of the peach family and have a tart taste like peach, apricot and rhubarb. 
I wanted to create an essence of Australia, so I used peaches, apricots and passion fruit to give tartness to the recipe, like a quandong would. A light sponge cake and coconut which are used to create Lamington cakes. And I have included some little meringues as a tribute to the Pavlova, which was created in Australia . The passion fruit is also for the passion I have for a wonderful city. Thank you Sydney for giving me some confidence back, and for you I have created this cake as a tribute :) x

3 eggs
85gr castor sugar
85gr plain flour and I tsp baking powder sieved together
300gr double cream
Apricot conserve
 fresh apricots chop 2 and slice 2
3 fresh peaches chop 2 and slice 1
Pulp of 2 passion fruits
Tblsp dessicated coconut
a few small meringues halved


  1. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Grease and line a 30 x 24cm Swiss roll tin with nonstick paper. Put the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and beat with electric beaters until thick and light, about 5 mins. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Tip into the tin, tilt to level the mix, then bake for 12-15 mins until golden and just springy. Turn onto another sheet of paper, dusted with 1 tbsp caster sugar. Roll the paper up inside the sponge, then leave to cool completely. 
  2. Whip the cream until stiff. Unroll the sponge, spread with apricot conserve the half of the whipped cream,top with the chopped fruits and pulp of 1 passion fruit, then roll up. Pipe cream on top, sprinkle coconut over then decorate with sliced fruits and .passion fruit. yumm .....enjoy x
Lamingtons are a quintessential part of every Australian's childhood. The little sponge cake is dipped in chocolate icing and then rolled in desiccated coconut.These little treats are sold at school fairs and bake sales around the country.These days Lamingtons are also commercially produced however they don't taste as good as the homemade versions.