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I feel that I have been a little neglectful over the past three weeks – it has been a busy time – so I hope that you will accept my apologises and to recompense I offer a simple, but moreish, recipe for a delightful sweet treat. It is so quick to make, requires the minimal of ingredients and no baking. If you have a fridge and a spare 20 minutes than this is one for you. To be honest it all began with some cream in the fridge that needed to be used up and a couple of sweet toothed, pudding loving daughters reaching for the cake tins, only to find them bare! And it being a weekend we all needed a little indulgence and that including the two boys of the house – one bigger and one getting bigger! I turned out the fridge and the food cupboard and found all the basics that were required to make a cheesecake. Those very same basic ingredients as my usual white chocolate and citrus cheesecakes, but not having any lemons or limes in the fruit bowl and the white chocolate already used for a batch of my Blondies earlier in the week, I reached for a tin of caramel sauce that sat lonely upon the shelf – I think it will be time for a shop soon! Without further ado I set about my experiment to create a new dessert to add to my long list of sweet recipes. I served it with a little homemade vanilla ice cream (as my coconut ice cream, but replacing the coconut milk with full fat milk) and a few strawberries. And as everyone keeps asking for more, I guess it was a success!

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You will need:

  • One 20cm (8″) round loose bottom or spring form cake tin (base lined
  • 125g (5oz) digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 75g (3oz) butter, melted
  • 350ml (12floz) double cream
  • 450g (16oz) cream cheese
  • 400g (14oz) tin of caramel sauce (Dulce de leche or Carnation!)

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Here we go – Combine the melted butter and crushed biscuits and press down onto the base of the prepared tin. Chill. In the meantime put the cream into a mixing bowl and whisk until just beginning to thicken. In another bowl place the cream cheese and 250g (8oz) of the caramel sauce and whisk to combine. Spoon the cream into the caramel mixture and whisk together until well blended. Cover the biscuit base with the caramel cheesecake cream and smooth the top. Chill for at least an hour. Remove the cheesecake from the tin and spread the remaining caramel sauce over the top. And that is it!

It can be served straight away or returned to the fridge until required. But it is always best served chilled. It freezes well.

Serves up to12.

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I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did!

Diane x




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The autumn is suddenly upon us – there is a chilly bite to the evening air and morning dewy grass dampens my sandal strewn feet – yes, I am still wearing sandals as a last ditch attempt to hang onto summer. Not that it was a good one in England this year, but we did have a few sunny days – just not enough of them. But autumn comes with its own beauty and charm – leaves fluttering to the ground creating a carpet of gold, red and orange; branches laden with jewel-like berries; fires dancing in the log burner; and the final flourish of apples falling from the trees in the orchard. Either ready to eat, pummel into juice or cook with – or all of them!



There are so many wonderful delights to be made with apples: crumble, pies, tarts, chutneys, sauces and cakes. Cakes I will come to in a moment but first I want to tell you about what we sometimes do with our bumper crops – press them! Apples for pressing to make our own apple juice, cider and wine. And we have our own hand made juicer, not made by me, oh, of course not, but by the practical one of the house – my man! But before getting to the juicy bit we have to spend a little time sorting through the apples that the no so little ones anymore collect for us over the weeks.


We then remove any bad ones and cut away bits that are not required and then they are washed in an old bath tub before being tipped, a few at a time into the pulper, and then into another machine and out comes the juice, faster than Niagara Falls. This then has to go through a process of sterilization, separation, decanting, brewing, fermenting and storage. I will save the details of all of this for another time – my better half would normally do this, so I have a little learning to go through myself before I can share the detailed process with you.

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My forte is the creation and baking – using a few stolen apples from the orchard – of a moist and sweet cake drizzled with a golden sauce.

Apple and Almond Cake with Toffee Sauce

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You will need for the cake:

  • 20cm (8″) base lined cake tin
  • 225g (8oz) softened butter
  • 250g (9oz) caster sugar
  • 125g (4oz) self raising flour
  • 75g (3oz) ground almonds
  • 1tsp almond essence
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 eating apples of your choice, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1tbsp Demerara sugar

For the toffee sauce you will need:

  • 200ml (7floz) double cream
  • 50g (2oz) dark Muscovado sugar
  • 50g (2oz) light brown soft sugar
  • 25g (1oz) butter

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To make the cake pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (160 degrees C fan oven) mark 4. Then put all the cake ingredients into a large bowl and with an electric mixer combine thoroughly until pale and creamy.

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Spoon the mixture into the pre-pared cake tin, level and bake in the pre-heated oven for 20mins.Remove from the oven and quickly, but carefully, press the apple slices onto the top of the part baked cake so that they sink slightly. Sprinkle over the Demerara sugar.

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Return to the oven and finish baking for approximately45-50mins, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 10mins. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

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This cake can be eaten entirely on its own and it is just as delicious without the the sauce, but if you want a little decadence continue with the sauce and here is how you make it. Simply take all the ingredients for the toffee sauce and place them in a small saucepan. On a gentle heat melt all the ingredients and then simmer for approximately 5 mins until slightly thickened. Cool slightly.

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Then all that is left is to drizzle a little around the entire cake, slice, pour and serve. The cake and the sauce is great warm or cold and for a little further indulgence try  the duo with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of clotted cream.

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Who says that the short days, longer nights and cooler air cannot bring happiness?! I am about to sit down in front of the comforting glow of our wood burning stove with a plate of warm cake and sauce – I am very happy!

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Apple pedestal in acrylic by Diane

Diane x


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With it being a busy week ahead – as I have already mentioned it is the Fowey Royal Regatta – I wanted to make something sweet for a quick energy burst, but also something easy to make and pack into tins to take to the various great events that the week offers. And with some blueberries already in the fridge and cupcake lovers in the house, blueberry cupcakes sprang to mind with a luxurious topping of white chocolate butter cream to satisfy the party-time spirit. There is no slicing with cupcakes too; so, simply grab, peel back the wrapper and party!

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For the cake you will need:

  • 12 cup muffin tin and 12 muffin cases
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar
  • 225g (8oz) butter, softened
  • 225g (8oz) self raising flour
  • 4 large eggs, whisked
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • approx. 100g (4oz) blueberries, washed and drained

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C) mark 4.

Place one muffin case into each of the muffin tin holes and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, butter, flour, eggs, baking powder and essence with an electric mixer. (If you are doing it by hand then beat the sugar and butter together until light, then beat in the eggs a little at a time. When all the eggs have been used, stir in the flour, baking powder and essence.) Finally, stir in most of the blueberries, retaining a few for decoration.  Divide the mixture between the muffin cases. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for approx. 20-25 minutes until the cakes are springy to the touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean. It is most likely that the blueberries will sink to the bottom of the cakes – this is fine and creates a lovely jammy base. Set aside to cool.

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For the indulgent white chocolate butter cream:

  • 275g (10oz) icing sugar
  • 125g (5oz) softened butter
  • 100g (4oz) white chocolate
  • approx. 2 tbsp. double cream
  • a few reserved blueberries

Break the white chocolate into chunks into a heat proof bowl. Place this over a saucepan of gently simmering water until the chocolate has melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. In the meantime, in another bowl beat together the butter and icing sugar until thoroughly mixed and soft. Add the cream and melted white chocolate and mix until a soft butter cream. Spoon this mixture into a piping bag or tube and with a smooth edged nozzle pipe swirls on top of the cakes. Top each with a blueberry and serve, or pack and take to your special event or day out – happy eating!

Serves 12

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They are best eaten within 3-4 days, if they last that long!

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I may not get the chance to write again this week as the Regatta not only keeps us busy with social activities but it is the busiest week of the year on our campsite. But I will catch up with you as soon as I can when the excitement all calms.

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Blueberry cupcakes with white chocolate cream swirls – great for all occasions!

Diane x


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A Blondie is just like a Brownie, but with white chocolate instead of dark which makes for a paler and slightly cakier bake. I used to make them with nuts, but not having any nuts one day I decided to use some dried fruit and to my surprise everyone loved them so much more than the nuttier ones – I have continued to make them with fruit ever since. And for a recent visit to Culdrose Air Day I made some with a dried tropical fruit mix instead. As everyone asked for more I have assumed they approved. This bake cuts into chunks well and stacks and packs easily into boxes and tins for safe transit. Blondies can be eaten as a cake, a treat or dressed up for a tasty pudding. My eldest daughter, and custard lover of the family, enjoys them all the more in a pool of warm custard sauce. So versatile….so delicious!

You will need:

  • a 17x27cm (7×11″) baking tin, lined with baking paper
  • 100g (3.5oz) butter, chopped
  • 300g (10oz) white chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 120g (4oz) soft light brown sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 200g (7oz) self raising flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 100g (3.5oz) extra white chocolate, chopped into small pieces (or white chocolate chips)
  • approx. 100g (3.50z) dried fruit mix to taste (standard mix or tropical)
  • approx. 2tbsp Demerara sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan oven 160°C) Gas Mark 3.

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Place the white chocolate chunks and butter into a glass bowl and place over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Do not allow the water to touch the bowl as the chocolate will burn. Stir occasionally until the butter and chocolate have melted and can be stirred to make a well blended sauce.

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Meanwhile put the sugar, vanilla, flour and eggs into a large mixing bowl and with an electric mixer whisk until all the ingredients are combined. (You can do this by hand with the creaming method.) Then stir in the chocolate sauce.

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When well blended stir through the chocolate pieces and dried fruit to your taste – any combination will work.

srawberries and blondies 009Spoon the mixture into the pre-prepared tin. Level and bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 35-40 minutes. The cake should be slightly spongy when pressed. If you prefer a gooey texture cook for the allotted time or if you prefer a more cakey finish cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin. Immediately sprinkle over the Demerara sugar so that it adheres to the warm sponge. Allow to cool in the tin.

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When cold remove from the tin and slice into whatever size pieces you prefer.

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Makes approximately 16 portions.

Blondies keep really well in an air tight tin and can be frozen – so they can be made well in advance of serving. Great on their own or with pouring cream, whipped cream, plain yoghurt, clotted cream, ice cream and, of course, the favourite pudding alternative – custard.

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Fruity blondies enjoyed by blondes….and brunettes….and all shades!

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Diane x


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For some the camping season will have started a few months ago, but for us at Polglaze ours has only just begun – we start just as the summer school holidays begin and we finish just after it ends. It does mean it has been a busy few weeks preparation and a busy week welcoming our first few guests and getting back into the swing of things.

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This is the reason why I have neglected pictures and patisserie – there has simply been no time to write! But now I have managed to steal a moment away as many of our guests have departed for the day to visit the many sights, go on the many walks and explore the many pretty villages and towns that surround us here in Fowey and Cornwall. I list just a few for now: The Eden Project – a spectacular transformation from former quarry to superb gardens, biomes and an educational adventure about the planet and nature;

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The Lost Gardens of Heligan – beautiful historic gardens; Lanhydrock – a superb late Victorian country house with gardens and wooded estate owned by the National Trust; the old stannary town of Lostwithiel – renown for its antique shops and the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery and café where my daughters, my mother and I have spent many an happy hour, or two, dining on the delicious home made food and wonderful cakes.

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The River Fowey estuary – Fowey on the left and Polruan on the right

Finally, for now anyway, but not least I would recommend my harbour side home town of Fowey – packed full of interesting and individual shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries and great views across the River Fowey and out to sea. There is a small but very pleasant beach a short stroll away along the Esplanade; scenic walks and two ferries to transport you across the river. In the summer boats can be hired from the Town Quay and close to Albert Quay is a kayak centre; and a ferry operates to Mevagissey when the weather allows. Visiting yachts are numerous and sailors are well catered for at the two yacht and sailing clubs in the town. More about Fowey, its artists, shops, restaurants and attractions very soon.

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Fowey side of the estuary with Readymoney beach just hidden in the cove on the left

For now though I want to share with you something sweet which I like to make for our own camping trips. They are ideal for any outside eating and travelling as they store and transport well – they can be made at home to take with you or are just as easy to make while you are camping as no baking is required, merely a camping stove for a bit of melting and relaxing stirring.

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You will need:

  • a 17x27cm (7×11″) baking tin, lined with baking paper extending the rim (makes it easy to lift out for cutting)
  • 180g (6oz) shortbread or rich tea biscuits  )
  • 180g (6oz) digestive biscuits                      ) or a mix of any other plain biscuits total weighing 360g (12oz)
  • 2tbsp cocoa powder
  • 180g (6oz) butter
  • 3tbsp golden syrup
  • 3tbsp caster sugar
  • approx. 200g (6-8oz) white chocolate
  • approx. 100g (4oz) cranberries

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Place the butter, caster sugar and syrup into a saucepan and on a low heat melt the three ingredients together, ensuring that they do not burn on the bottom of the pan and that all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat. Place the biscuits in a food processor and blitz until chunky crumbs or place in a large plastic bag and with a rolling pin crush the biscuits. Most of the biscuit should resemble large crumbs, but it is nice to leave some larger pieces. Tip the crushed biscuits into the caramel sauce and thoroughly combine. Spoon into the prepared tin and set aside to harden. This can be done in a fridge, if available, but not necessary. In the meantime, break the chocolate into chunks and place into a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Check occasionally and stir to prevent the chocolate from burning. When melted and a white chocolate sauce has formed remove from the heat and stir in the cranberries. You may like to add more or less of the cranberries to your taste. Pour this over the biscuit base and level. Set aside to cool and harden. Again this can be done in a fridge, but absolutely not necessary – just takes a little longer to set. When hard enough remove the block from the tin and on a chopping board cut into squares – to whatever size you want. Eat immediately – they won’t last long – or store. They keep well (not that they have hung around for long in our house) and pack well as sweet treats for busy days out or can be served more as a pudding with ice cream.

Makes approx. 12-20 portions

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Happy camping!

Diane x


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I roasted a ham the other day and my darling man does like a slice or two of pineapple with it, the  girls and I don’t. At the time I did not have a juicy fresh one, but I did have a tin of pineapple slices in juice. In juice is fine but I would advise against using pineapple from a tin if in sugary syrup. So I opened the tin and dressed some of the slices of ham with rings of pineapple and I had one happy boy! But what to do with the rest of the fruit as there were several spare slices? There was not too much contemplating. With the sun shining and holidays being dreamt of – and having had cocktails at a friend’s recent birthday party – I thought of pina coladas. A refreshingly naughty drink that belies its gem that is so cleverly disguised with pineapple juice and coconut – I had my solution. It had been a long time since I made an upside down cake and as pineapple works just as well as apple I thought why not! And as pineapple and coconut are so tasty together in pina coladas I thought they should surely complement each other as a dessert and my coconut ice cream was born. All I needed was the cocktail umbrellas and a few hungry friends!

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Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe as I promised in my previous blog.

For the cake:

  • I used a 28cm x 18cm (11×7″) cake tin
  • approx. 25-50g (1-2oz) very soft butter and 2-3tbsp golden granulated sugar
  • 8 pineapple rings
  • 8 whole walnuts
  • 225g (8oz) softened butter
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar
  • 225g (8oz) self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven) mark 4

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Spread the very soft butter to cover the base of the tin. Sprinkle over the granulated sugar to coat. Arrange the pineapple slices in two symmetrical rows and place a walnut in the centre of each ring and use the spare to decorate in between the slices. You could use glace cherries instead – if you prefer – for a more authentic pina colada taste, but I like the crunch of the walnuts which I think work so well with the sweetness of the pineapple and vanilla sponge of the cake.

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In a large bowl mix the butter, caster sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs and vanilla essence together, either with an electric mixer or by hand (with the creaming method of butter and sugar together first, beating in the eggs bit by bit and then folding in the dry ingredients and essence). Spoon the well blended cake mixture over the fruit and nuts, level and bake in the pre heated oven for approximately 30-40 minutes until spongy to the touch and an inserted  skewer is retrieved clean. Leave in the tin to cool for 15 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. This can be served immediately as a slice of cake on its own or with a dollop of cream.

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For the creamy coconut ice cream:

  • 225ml (8floz) coconut milk
  • 50g (2oz) caster  sugar
  • 225ml (8floz) double cream
  • 1tsp vanilla essence

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In a saucepan warm the coconut milk and caster sugar together just until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool. Then stir in the cream and vanilla essence. Pour this into an ice cream maker, if you have one, and churn until thick and creamy – my ice cream maker always lets me know when it is ready! Put this into a bowl to serve immediately – similar to that of a soft scoop – or spoon it into a container and freeze. Remember that, like all home made ice creams, you need to take it out of the freezer about 20 minutes before you need to serve it, otherwise you may need a very strong scoop.

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No worries if you do not have an ice cream maker – it can all be done by hand – just a little more time and muscle needed. While the coconut milk and sugar sauce is cooling whip the cream and essence together to form a soft, not firm, consistency. Fold in the cooled coconut and dissolved sugar and pour into a freezer proof container, then pop it into the freezer. When it starts to freeze around the edges (approx.1hour) remove it from the freezer and place the ice cream into a bowl. Beat it with a fork to break down the crystals. Put back into the container and freezer. Repeat this a couple of more times until creamy and fluffy, to your liking.

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When serving this as a dessert or special treat slice into portions and serve with a large scoop of coconut ice cream and drizzle some pouring cream over. Decorate with some cocktail umbrellas, if you have any to hand. For a little grown up indulgence I see no reason why you should not spoon a little white rum over the cake to taste and have that true pina colada experience. Close your eyes and dream of glorious holidays in the sun!

Serves up to 12 (depending on whole or half pineapple portions)

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If you find yourself with some coconut milk spare – a tin of coconut milk contains more than 225ml – then make another batch of ice cream or one big one. If making a second batch add an extra flavouring such as a drop of white rum and some chopped up pieces of pineapple and you will have pina colada ice cream for grown-ups. I think I will be making this one again very soon going by the happy adult smiles.

pineappleandwalnutbake 087Ice cream and cake are enjoyable where ever you are – in the garden, at the kitchen table or on holiday – there are always happy faces to be seen!


Diane x




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A slice of strawberry cake!

For those of you who don’t already know there is this great online site called Bloglovin’ that allows you to connect with many established and new places offering information relevant to your interests; there is something for everyone. You can connect through facebook or create an account. Good luck with it!

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Diane x


I was so inspired by all the strawberries that have surrounded me recently that I felt the urge to paint something relating to strawberries: the form, the colour, the joy they bring. Sadly, not much joy for me, not to eat anyway. Back in the days before marriage and children, before serious education and a career, I worked on a strawberry farm in the county of Shropshire. There I weighed the pickers’ strawberries, and all those fruits that were not quite so perfect or those that over split the punnets ended up in my mouth. You see; I love strawberries and for some unbeknown reason to me I became allergic to them. Apparently, so a kind pharmacist informed my father, I had over dosed; yes, I had over dosed on strawberries. It is a common problem,  so I have read many times, yet I am the only person I know and have ever known to have the condition. Not being medically or scientifically inclined, I am more the arty type, I  have learnt that the allergic reaction is something to do with the proteins that are in this most wonderful fruit. The proteins that ripen it, giving the fruit its captivating red colour and making it look enticingly delicious; but is so poisonous to me. Having children made matters a little complicated in my strawberry-banned world as they love them. Before my daughters arrived I was able to avoid strawberries, but now I buy them every week and almost every day I wash them and serve them as an after school fruit bowl snack. And every day I drool over them, just dreaming of those long lost days of strawberry pleasure. Friends and colleagues have frequently served strawberries and I have to politely decline. This always results in a long conversation about how irregular it all is and what happens to me if a do eat the forbidden red fruit. My reaction to the fruit is more discomfort then severe. A red, itchy rash appears across my jaw line, neck, up my arms and across my back, and I feel nauseous with a pounding head. They make me feel exhausted and sleepy. Handling strawberries is fine, but a big bowl of strawberries and cream results in a very unwell me.To help me understand my allergy I decided to do a bit of research and actually discovered that there are quite a lot of people like me; and that, in its severest form, strawberries can kill, but I have never heard of anyone succumbing to a strawberry. Putting my ailment aside, strawberries are packed full of goodness that help to decrease the possibility of heart disease, they have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the risk of cancer, inflammation and hypertension and can help lower cholesterol. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and high in manganese; a nutrient that very few people know about;  but one that helps with normal bone formation and helps us to metabolise protein, carbohydrates and cholesterol. So it appears that I am missing out big time; not just that they are so delicious but in a bizarre way I am less healthy than I would be if I ate them, that is if they didn’t make me so ill if I were to eat them! For those of you who are like me and just cannot consume the heavenly fruit you’ll just have to enjoy looking at them instead.

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And for those of you who can eat strawberries have you tried them dipped in chocolate? I imagine them to be delectable. Simply break some chocolate (milk, white or dark) into chunks and place them into a glass bowl which is over a saucepan of gently simmering water and leave until the chocolate has melted. Remove from the heat. Holding the strawberry stalk dip the fruit one by one into the chocolate until half to three quarters coated. Set aside on a tray lined with baking paper and allow to harden. Eat and enjoy, if you can!

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For those of us who cannot eat strawberries we could try dipping other fruit into chocolate instead. I expect raspberries and dark chocolate will be divine, so tomorrow I will be off to the shops to grab some ingredients. After all, why should we be excluded from a fruity chocolate fix?

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Diane x


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An amazingly easy cake to make with mouth watering fruitiness and creamy light sponge. It can be used as a celebration cake, as I did for my friend, Sally’s birthday, or for a delicious tea-time treat. Other berry fruits can be used. I used strawberries that day, those I had purchased from my trip to The Royal Cornwall Show. (It takes place every year in June at the showground just outside of Wadebridge, North Cornwall.) I decided to add a hint of lime; a zesty addition that complements the sweetness of strawberries so well. And it just so happened that I had two in my fruit bowl. This cake was so popular with the family that they begged me to make another the following day with the remaining strawberries, and all for their own pleasure. Though we did take a couple of slices to the grandmas. And then I was asked if I could make another one a few days later with raspberries and blueberries I had just purchased from a local fruit store. I was finding it hard to keep up with the demand. Maybe, I thought, they would like something different, but no!

To begin prepare and base line two 20cm (8″) sandwich cake tins.

Ingredients (10-12 slices):

  • 180g (6oz) softened butter
  • 180g (6oz) golden caster sugar (ordinary caster sugar will do)
  • 180g (6oz) self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 limes
  • 150-200g (5-7oz) strawberries or other berries (your choice on less or more fruit)
  • 500ml (18floz) double cream
  • 1-2tbsp icing sugar (to taste on sweetness)

Pre-heat the oven at 180°C (160°C) mark4

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Grate the rind of both limes and set aside. Cut one lime in half and squeeze out the juice, and also set aside. Put the butter, caster sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla essence and eggs in a large bowl and mix. I tend to use an electric mixer, but you can do this by hand using the creaming method. Pour in the lime juice and half of the grated lime rind. Mix in thoroughly. Divide the sponge mixture between the two tins and bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 20-25 minutes. The cakes should be spongy to the touch and a skewer should come out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. (These cakes can be stored overnight, wrapped separately in foil and placed in a large cake tin.) If you prefer thicker sponges you can increase the butter, caster sugar and flour to 200g (7oz) each and use 4 eggs.

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While the cakes are cooling, lightly whip the cream with the icing sugar until just holding its shape but not too stiff. Take about two thirds of the strawberries and chop into quarters. Add these to the cream and gently stir through. When the sponges have cooled, spread most of the cream onto one of the them, leaving approx. 4-6tbsp cream aside. Top with the other sponge to create a sandwich. Thinly spread the remaining cream over the top and decorate with the reserved strawberries. Sprinkle over the remaining lime zest. And there you have it; strawberry, lime and cream sponge. For birthdays serve with a chilled glass of bubbly or, as an afternoon treat, serve with a good cup of tea or a glass of chilled homemade lemonade. We have the traditional English summer dessert of strawberries and cream in a cake.

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A raspberry and blueberry cream sponge version, minus the lime, was also enjoyed a few days later. The sun was shining and the air was feeling summery, so we had my freshly prepared cake in the garden with cups of refreshing summer fruits juice.

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Diane x



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Just as we returned from our lovely trip away, to another lovely part of the country, our equally lovely neighbours invited us for a Chinese dinner. “Do not bring pudding,” was the order, “we cannot eat pudding after Chinese”. You see, I always make pudding. I am sorry to say: it is so hard for me not to make something sweet when we are invited to dine with friends and this was no exception. So, rather than a full on indulgent dessert, I decided to create some bite-size cream tarts with a variety of simple fillings from store cupboard finds; I had no time to visit the markets. I could not find my plain tart cutters, a plain edge I do prefer, so these tarts are fluted. And because they are creamy patisseries I decided to give them a French title – mini-tartes a la crème. I  apologise if my translation is a little clumsy as my French has never been a strength of mine. I had a few homemade chocolate truffles left over from a recent present making session and added those to the platter as edible decoration. There were: chocolate and walnut tarts, banoffee tarts, blackcurrant and Cointreau tarts, and strawberries and cream tarts; something for everyone, I anticipated. Coincidentally, our wonderfully sweet neighbours had prepared a big bowl of mixed fruit that complemented the tarts perfectly.

To make the pastry cases (24 tarts):

  • 340g (12oz) plain flour
  • 180g (6oz) butter
  • 125g (4oz) icing sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • a 8cm (3″) round pastry cutter, preferably smooth edged
  • 2 x 24 hole tart tins, lightly buttered/oiled

For the fillings and cream:

  • 600ml (20floz) double cream
  • 50g (2oz) dark chocolate, 4tbsp double cream, 2tsp icing sugar, 50g (2oz) chopped walnuts for the chocolate filling
  • 4tbsp caramel condensed milk (dulce de leche), 6 slices of banana, 1tbsp dark chocolate shavings for the banoffee tarts
  • 4tbsp strawberry conserve, 3 strawberries (halved) for the strawberries and cream tarts
  • 4tbsp blackcurrant conserve, 2tbsp Cointreau, 2tbsp dark chocolate shavings for the blackcurrant tarts

Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan oven) mark 6

Put the first three pastry ingredients into a food processor and blitz until resembling bread crumbs. Add the whole egg and blend to make a dough. On a floured board lightly knead the dough together and with a rolling pin roll out the pastry to approximately 3mm. With the cutter make 24 rounds. Place a pastry round into one of the tart tin holes and smooth down to shape. Repeat until all the holes have been lined with the pastry rounds. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes until the pastry is golden. Cool in the tins.

Whilst the pastry cases are cooling prepare the fillings. Whip the cream and place a quarter of it into a separate bowl.

For the chocolate filling: melt the dark chocolate and cream over a bowl of gently simmering water and when melted beat in the icing sugar until fully blended into a thick sauce. Stir in most of the chopped walnuts, keeping a little back to decorate. Share the chocolate mixture between 6 of the pastry cases. With an icing bag pipe a large swirl of cream over the top and sprinkle with the reserved walnuts.

For the banoffee tarts: share the caramel sauce between 6 of the pastry cases. Top each with a slice of banana and pipe a large swirl of cream over the top and dust with chocolate shavings.

For the strawberry tarts: share the strawberry jam between 6 of the pastry cases. Pipe a large swirl of the whipped cream over the top of the conserve and top each with a half of strawberry.

For the blackcurrant tarts: split the blackcurrant conserve amongst the last remaining 6 cases. Mix the Cointreau into the quarter of whipped cream put to one side and stir in the chocolate shavings. Pipe into large swirls over the top of each tart. If you happen to have some fresh blackcurrants to hand then top each tart with a blackcurrant or two to decorate.

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Place all the tarts onto a large serving platter and allow everyone to tuck into their favourites. These can be eaten at anytime; equally great with a glass of champagne or a steaming hot coffee, and for the children, homemade lemonade.

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Diane x