Cherry and marzipan Madeira cake


This is how much Bert liked this cake.

On the way home from school last week he reminded me to put the bins out. Yesterday he suggested moving some bright yellow-green accent cushions to my bedroom because the colour would go with the wall paint (he was right). Earlier in the week if asked if someone else would move into the house when we died. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘but that’s not for a long time. You’re a child and me and dad aren’t old.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘you’re not young.’

Forty-five at heart but he won’t eat Madeira cake. Going to royal ice it and try again.

Makes 2 small loaves

6 eggs

250g ground almonds

150g golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

250g marzipan, grated

100g glace cherries, halved

Pre-heat the oven to 160 and grease and line 2 small loaf tins. (Mine were 15x20x10cm.) Whisk the eggs till very big and fluffy (ideally with electrical help) – about 5-10 minutes.

Fold in the remaning ingredients (yep, no flour or fat) and divide between the tins.

Bake at 160 for 40 minutes. Turn out to cool.


Cherry and almond loaf cake


I drove Bert and Ray to the park after lunch, parked, after some difficulty finding a space, and opened the back car door. Ray sprinted, panting, to the park entrance nearest the children’s playground and Bert dillied and dallied, climbing into the driving seat and steering aggressively.

‘Quick!’ I said, ‘Ray’s already run in. There are children in there! He might scare them.’

(Ray always comes off in my blog as a disturbing, sweaty uncle but is in fact our dog, who has the spirit of a disturbing, sweaty uncle.)

‘You parked badly,’ he explained, ‘so I had to do it for you.’ He threw a patronising, toothy smile over his shoulder and screeched to an imaginary halt.

We had friends over this morning. The adults ate this and the children used icing as glue to stick sugar eyes, sugar carrots, hundred and thousands and mini marshmallows to biscuits – seven small children got through 15 biscuits, 12 sugar carrots and 53 sugar eyes and probably all did a little swivel-eyed backseat driving this afternoon.

Any cake serves as many as want it

125g soft butter

175g golden caster sugar

3 medium eggs

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon almond essence

125g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

45g ground almonds

125ml plain yoghurt

125g halved and stoned cherries tossed in 1/2 tablespoon of flour – supposedly stops the fruit sinking, but didn’t in this case. Call it a fruit layer cake and don’t apologise.

Preheat the oven to 180 and line a 2lb loaf tin, or a smaller loaf tin if you want deeper slices.

Cream the butter and sugar together well – till pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture well each time. Add the almond essence with the last egg. Fold in, carefully, the flour, baking powder, almonds and yoghurt, then gently stir through the cherries.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, till golden, springy to the touch and coming away from the sides.

It would be nice drizzled with glacé icing, but we had it plain.

Storecupboard bakewell muffins


Today, as on many days when I’m alone with Bert, we’re busy in the morning then have to fit in a dog walk after Bert’s luxuriously long lunchtime nap and before it gets dark. As a result, I bribe him into it by taking the pram and iPad, along with dummy, blanket and John.

So today at 4pm a maudlin Bert was dressed in his oversized fake fur deerstalker hat and only-just-big-enough green parka, dummy in, looking like a Russian gangster who was no less sinister for being tiny. Meet Sweet Cheeks – happy to sell you a sawn off shot gun for the right price.

Me: Look at the beautiful sunset!

Bert: [taps away at Dinosaur Trucks with very cold hands]

Me: It’s like Christmas lights in the sky!

Bert: [taps away at Dinosaur Trucks]

[Ten minutes’ silent trudging]

Me: Look, a digger.

Bert: [glances up, agrees] Yellow digger. [Back to tapping at Dinosaur Trucks]

In my pre-child fantasies there was more Boden knitwear, stamping through crisp leaves and collecting of acorns involved.

Makes 6 muffins

150g golden caster sugar

3 eggs

150g sunflower oil

150g self raising flour

100g ground almonds

100g frozen cherries, dusted in flour

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180. Beat together all of the ingredients, except the cherries, till smooth, then stir the fruit gently into the batter. The flour dusting helps stop them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins. Divide the mixture between six muffin holes, making sure there are cherries in each. Bake for about 30 minutes, till golden and risen.