Orange cake


So winter has started in earnest, and so have the terrible twos. It’s howling inside and out. In an attempt to warm stomachs and sedate a toddler’s fury that he can’t scribble on my books while being spoon fed dinner from the comfort of a tiny red car, it’s beef stew and warm orange cake for dinner tonight.

In the picture he’s actually eating a hot cross bun as I daren’t take a phone to the table at the moment for fear I’ll end the meal by shouting ‘no bloody Peppa Pig!’ and throwing it across the room.

Makes a 21cm cake

Two large oranges, about 375g in total when pureed

6 eggs

225g golden caster sugar

250g ground almonds

A heaped teaspoon of baking powder

Cover the oranges with cold water, bring to the boil, put a lid on and simmer for 2-2.5 hours. Then remove from the water and blitz to a pulp. Weigh out 375g of it and beat with the other ingredients, cooking in a greased 21cm springform tin at 190 for an hour (or on a gridrack on the bottom of the Aga roasting oven).

We had ours warm with yoghurt or double cream.


Almond and nectarine cake

nec almond

Made a large cake that didn’t last very long

180g self raising flour

180g soft butter

180g golden caster sugar

100g ground almonds

3 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 nectarines, sliced

More butter to line the tin

Beat all the ingredients except the nectarine together till fluffy. While your toddler beats his father over the head with a plastic hammer, butter a loaf tin then layer the nectarines on the bottom and spread the batter over. Cook at 180 (or on the grid shelf on the bottom of the Aga roasting oven with the cool shelf two rungs above) for 30 minutes. We had ours warm with creme fraiche and a headache.

When Bert went to bed we had some more.

Little apple frangipane tarts


Makes two little tarts

1/2 sheet of puff pastry

1 eating apple, finely sliced

1 egg

40g golden caster sugar

40g ground almonds

40g softened butter

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Beat together the egg, almonds, butter, sugar and vanilla essence. Cut two circles out of the puff pastry (mine were about 12 centimetres in diameter). Press a smaller circle into each with the top of a glass and spread a dessert spoon or so of the frangipane mixture over each, keeping within the smaller circle – I’m not entirely sure if you need to bother with this, but I was in a neat-freak mood. Maybe because Bert’s started shaming me by tidying up after me.

Meanwhile, watch your todder finally master the art of forward motion on a wheelybug. (Finally, he won’t back himself into corners and squeal! Oh, he just backed himself into a corner and squealed.) Using the frangipane as a glue, press the apple in each in a spiralling circle (if you can be bothered to be neat) then top with another blob of frangipane to make a kind of frangipane sandwich.

Bake on a lined sheet at 190 or near the middle ish of the Aga roasting oven for about 15 minutes.

Storecupboard berry frangipane tart


Should serve 8. Served 3.5. Let’s blame Bert.

75g golden caster sugar

75g soft butter

2 eggs

75g ground almonds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frozen puff pastry – 500g pack (there will be some leftover)

Frozen berries – enough to cover the pastry

Beat the sugar and butter together in a food processor (or by hand), then beat in the eggs and stir through the almonds and vanilla.

Line a pie dish with the puff pastry, cover with a layer of fruit and then cover the lot with the frangipane filling. Bake at 190 or in the middle of an Aga roasting oven for 30 minutes.

For dinner tonight Bert ate five new potatoes and three slices of tart. He was quite literally begging us for tart. Then he zoomed off in his tractor with John the bunny riding pillion.

Lamb korma and coconut rice


I thought this was a bit of a risk, but Bert loved it. And so did I. I imagine that, other than the inevitable ‘thumb’ of ginger, this is totally inauthentic.

Serves 2.5

3 or 4 lamb steaks (or any lamb cut that needs quick and hot rather than long and slow cooking)

3 tomatoes, cubed

3 tablespoons ground almonds

3 tablespoons plain yoghurt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 heaped teaspoon garam masala

Fresh ginger, peeled – about 3 centimetres. Okay, a thumb sized piece.

2 cloves of garlic

1 small onion

1 or 2 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil

1/3 mug coconut milk

1 mug basmati rice

Measure the coconut milk into a mug, fill up with cold water till you have a mug full of liquid and add to the rice in a pan. Bring to a boil then simmer on a very, very low heat with the lid on for 25 minutes till the liquid’s absorbed. For once, the Aga actually excels here – pop in the simmering oven for 25 minutes once it’s boiling.

Blitz the onion, garlic and ginger to a pulp in a food processor. Hold your baby with one arm while he plays the spoons one centimetre away from your face, and fry the onion mixture in a couple of tablespoons of oil with the spices. When the spices smell warm and fragrant and the onion’s translucent, add the lamb, cut into bite sized pieces, and brown. After about five minutes, add the tomatoes, almonds and yoghurt. Cook for around another 10-15 minutes on a medium heat, till the lamb’s cooked through. Salt yours on the plate – I thought it needed it.

Bert even managed to gum his way through quite a lot of the meat here, but the dog did end the meal covered in coconut rice confetti.

Little orange and almond cakes


This is a version of a Tom Kerridge recipe. I’ve reduced the sugar and fiddled around with the quantities to make little cakes and to avoid the scales, as cups and tablespoons are a bit less fiddly when a two foot tall person is tapping at your knee. I like a pudding that’s an excuse to get a bit of protein in Bert (egg and almond here), and a lot of the sweetness comes from the orange. In a baby free life, simmering an orange for two hours would be a bit limiting, but if you’re hanging around at home anyway while someone drops small plastic balls into holes, then why not?

Makes 4 small cakes

1 orange

1 cup ground almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon soft brown sugar

2 eggs

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Cover the orange with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for about one and a half hours till it’s soft. Blend it, skin and all, into a pulp then combine with all the other ingredients. Butter four holes of a muffin tin and fill each nearly to the top. Bake at 160 degrees (or on the grid shelf on the floor of the Aga roasting oven with the cold shelf three rows down from the top) for about 20 minutes, till golden and firm.

I had mine with Greek yoghurt with some honey stirred through. Bert had his naked.