Strawberry Pavlova

Some good friends, who live abroad but are in town, announced that they could pop over for a catch up. I had suggested that I might make them some fresh pizza with a few glasses of Spanish Rioja. I decided, at 8am, that I would make a pavlova to round off the meal. That meant that I had to somehow teleport home at lunch time and throw one in the oven to bake slowly for a couple of hours to ensure it was cool in time.

This is the mixing as it happened (yes I did have the presence of mind to take pictures in the 30 minute window available to me). Stiff peaks before adding the sugar.

Adding the sugar 3 spoons at a time.

After about 10 minutes the incorporated sugar and egg white should look glossy and stiff comme ca.

Stiff and glossy

Then fold in the other ingredients, which if you have never made a pavlova before may seem a little alien to a desert recipe. Vinegar? Salt? Cornflour?

Adding the gooey magic

Then spread out to your desired shape onto some baking parchment.


I tend to make it into a disc shape for easiness but I am sure that the more creative amongst you could pipe and sculpt it into a hedgehog, dinosaur, poodle or polar bear. I only had a lunch break remember. :0)

When I returned from work it was nice and cool and ready to be topped.

Crunchy and gooey all at the same time

I know that strawberries are not the most exciting topping choice but they were very juicy, plump and aromatic. I lay them on a bed of just whipped double (heavy) cream.

Top of the pops

I think they liked it!

Seconds anyone?

You will need:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 8 oz caster sugar
  • 4 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 pint double cream
  • Seasonal berries

Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks and then gradually add the sugar until all incorporated and glossy. Fold in cornflour, salt, vinegar and vanilla. Bake “slow & low” (130 deg c) for a couple of hours and allow to cool in the oven (if you can, overnight). Simple yet quite impressive. Enjoy.


Friendship cake

“Herman the German”

My neighbour a few houses down knocked on my door 10 days ago armed with three tubs of bubbling goo and a persuasive smile. I had heard of Herman before but have never had the pleasure of his acquaintance. I was handed one of the tubs, which did not look or smell like anything resembling a cake;

Smelly goo! – day 10.

along with a printout of daily instructions.

  1. stir clockwise
  2. stir anti-clockwise
  3. tickle with a feather duster
  4. take him out to dinner

These continue until day 9 when you feed him for a second time (adding milk, sugar, flour) and then divide and distribute whilst making a cake for yourself.

Ready for the oven

Essentially this is a method for maintaining and circulating a mother yeast batch that is divided up and circulated amongst friends. (I nailed 3 work colleagues yesterday).

It has been suggested that this practice originates from the Amish culture where sourdough yeast cultures and/or breads were handed out to the needy to help in hard times. Fast forward to the not so needy neighbourhood and what you end up with is a chain letter that lingers for 10 days filling your kitchen/pantry with a beery aroma. And a very tasty treat.

Sweet aroma.

Very tasty indeed.

Here is a link if you wish to start your own Herman; or you could just wait and see if you have any friends. :0)

Fresh Pizza

I am pleased to say that fresh pizza is a regular feature in our kitchen as I am a pizza addict. I hope to build my own outdoor wood fired oven for pizzas, bread and other delicious treats. I have been making pizza for over 20 years and therefore play around with the dough, sauce and topping preparation depending on desired outcome.

Smooth as silk

All I will say is that using a bread flour is always better although I have used plain or all purpose flour before without complaint. This will make 4-5 large thin pizza bases.

  • Flour – 1kg
  • warm water – 1 pint
  • salt – 2 tsp
  • sugar – 4 tsp
  • dried yeast – 3 tsp
  • oil

Dissolve sugar in water and add yeast and mix well (you can use fresh yeast also). Pour into flour and salt an knead for 10 mins. I have used a large bowl, the kitchen counter as well as a Kitchenaid mixer. Whatever equipment you have just work the dough until it is smooth and silky. Too wet- add flour; too dry – add warm water. Cover in a bowl and prove for 1 hour in a warm place; I sometimes drizzle with oil at this stage. Portion out and shape into smooth mounds then roll / stretch to fit your pan.

Panned dough

Ready to roll

Then you are free to unleash your inner topping demons. I am an anchovy, olive and chilli (flakes/jalapeño/habanero) nut but I guess not everyone shares my passion for such strong flavours.

Topped and ready

Sauced & Cheesed

Garden salad and some coleslaw made sure these bad boys slipped down nicely. I do love a good pizza. As I said there is scope for you to mess around and tweak the dough recipe. I have added varying amounts of oil, milk, garlic, rosemary etc to the dough before proving. What would you add or change? I would change the oven….. soon come.

Anchovy overload

Rock buns

Grandma Harris’ recipe

I don’t usually have this much time to bake and blog however we are on a mid term break so I have a bit of time. Today the occasion is an impromptu visit from my sister and her two little ones. As a result I have been in the kitchen early this morning putting together a few belly banging treats for everyone. My son is also expecting a good friend who moved to Kansas 3 years ago over for the day.

Sybil’s finest

These rock buns come from a recipe that I scribbled down one day (moons ago) when I had the privilege of standing over my Grandma’s shoulder while she effortlessly threw them together for tea one day. To this day it is one my most cherished kitchen memories as she was both an exceptional baker and second mother to me while I was away at boarding school. Sorely missed Sybil :’0(.

This makes about 16 nuggets of sheer nostalgic joy.

  • 8 oz self raising flour
  • 5 oz butter / marg
  • 5 oz sugar (I used caster)
  • 6 oz dried mixed fruit
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 egg to bind
  • Demerara sugar to top (optional)

Sift flour and spice into bowl then rub in the butter to large crumb consistency. Stir in sugar and fruit then bind together with the egg. It may need a splash of milk depending on the size of your egg. The dough should not be too sticky and leave the bowl cleanly. Spoon t-spoon sized blobs onto a greased baking sheet and top with a pinch of demerara  and bake at 200 c / 400 f for 10 -12 mins. Allow to cool – if you can resist :0)

I had to have this one

Mackerel salad

Back on track

Having had a long weekend celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee it’s time to get back on track and resume my regime that will aid my quest for the perfect beach bod. I am not sure that there is enough time for me to achieve the perfect bikini physique – ho hum. I managed 30 laps of the pool yesterday and a further 34 (at speed) today. Sweating in the water is something that I haven’t done for a while. I think I may have frightened some children when I cleared my blow hole on the last lap though.

Tempting though a visit to the local peri-peri outlet was I decided to continue my quest with a healthy plate of smoked mackerel salad.

Health kick salad

This is a regular menu item these days and it is such good eating. Sweet romaine hearts, smoked mackerel, cherry toms, olives, corn and a just hard egg. All drizzled with a new addition to my stock cupboard and one which will be a regular from now on: balsamic glaze. It may not be the best out there but it is divine none the less. Bon apetit.

The daddy


Blueberry Scones

I was asked to make these as we had some leftover berries from our weekend’s entertaining. I say entertaining it was more a case of catching up with old friends for a bit of hearty nosh and a few glasses of giggle juice ( ‘few’ glasses = understatement). The berries had been intended for a Pavlova, however when I came to dress it at 10pm I wasn’t ‘feeling’ their love. I am sure they would have worked well with the raspberries and strawberries but then I would not have had these beauties.

I used a simple scone recipe (Prue Leith) and added an egg and more sugar. It was very wet, more than I had intended, but a well dusted surface allowed the dough to be gently manipulated into a rectangle. Rather than over work it by cutting with a circular cutter and then reshaping the scraps I went for a one cut approach and fashioned the triangles that you see before you. They required a bit longer than I had anticipated in the oven (15 mins @ 200 C).

Oven fresh

The kids were out when they came out of the oven, great planning, so the wife and I were able to enjoy them warm with a pot of Earl Grey and a smudge of berry jam. Nom Nom.

MAKES 12 (Generous triangles)

450g SR Flour, 120g butter, 120g caster sugar, 300ml milk, 1 egg and100 – 200g fresh blueberries.

Heat oven to  200 C. Crumb butter and flour (like pastry), stir in sugar then milk and egg followed by berries. Do not over mix. Tip out onto floured surface and shape into slab about 3cm thick then cut into whatever shape you wish. Brush with egg or milk and dust with sugar. Bake for 8-14 mins high in the oven (on a greased baking tray).

Tasty treats