Apple cake

Oh apple cake. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Let’s not go there.

Courtesy of the Moorabbin Technical School, circa… ah, well, there’s the rub. The date of publication has been lost in the ether of time. Turning all Nancy Drew (or Hamlet, should the Shakespearean references keep on rolling) there are clues to be found in them there advertisements. Portable typewriters for sale. Sorry, make that ‘The Olympia SF De Luxe Portable’ typewriter, the “snazziest” machine which evidently paves the way to a lucrative career as a typist (30/- more than a clerk, don’t you know?). But if typing does not appease your soul, there is a Melbourne book retailer spruiking the “excellent” The Key To Your Career, new edition 1962. It would seem, dear Watson, this book is a whisker less than a sprightly 51 years of age.

Confused literary references aside, here she is: lady apple cake. Oh yes, those contributors could cook.

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Apple cake

a la Home Tested Recipes, a slender recipe book issued by the Moorabbin Technical School Fete Committee.

2 cups SR flour

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp mixed spice

½ cup butter, melted

2 eggs


3 medium apples (granny smiths worked nicely), grated

1 tbsp sugar

Nutmeg (I grated a whole nutmeg, but ½ tsp of ground would be nearly as good)

Preheat oven to 150oC. Butter and line a spring form cake tin. No seriously, line that thing. This cake gets juicy.

Mix together all of the cake ingredients in the listed order. It will be dry, so use your hands to form a ball-ish fragrant lump of delicious cake. Divide in two in the bowl.

Press half of the dough into the tin. Tumble over the slippery, jaggedy apple shards, sprinkle over the sugar and grate over the nutmeg. Nutmeg is potent. Beware. Apparently too much can kill you (urban myth?).

Press over the remaining dough.

Bake for 45 minutes, ish. It will be golden on top and your kitchen should smell amazing.

Drink with a cup of tea, milky if you wish, but certainly in a mug that you can fit all fingers in. None of that one-finger business you find at cafés.


God-awful lemon sago

What a disaster.

Lemon sago. The horror.

recipe for lemon sago, handwritten in my Nana's cook book

recipe for lemon sago, handwritten in my Nana’s cook book

I have to be honest. I do not understand sago. Why would anyone want to eat big pearls of starch with the texture of clag glue? Maybe someone out there can enlighten me. Please do.

Before trying to resurrect Nana Jean’s lemon sago recipe I was optimistic of the outcome. The recipe was short and simple. There were four ingredients. I had beautiful sweet lemons gathered from a garden that was not my own. I had a stove and a fridge. I was set.

I won’t bore you with the details, friends. Let me simply say that if you halve the ingredients and follow the instructions then you will end up with a gooey, lemoney, treacley, sugary, tart, frog’s eggs-like dessert that is not too offensive, but certainly not desirable. It has the sort of nice old-school look that draws you in, thinking it will be delicate and buttery and moreish, only to fall short of every possible expectation.

Or at least that’s me.

Alas, so many comments regarding lemon sago recipes are positive on recipe sharing websites, they glowing recommendations often recollecting some near-forgotten childhood memory. Quaint, but utterly inapplicable to me. Maybe you have better luck with lemon sago. Or any sago. This has certainly turned me off the thing.

blurry, gluey lemon sago… and many apologies for the image quality

Nonetheless, I am happy to report another of Nana Jean’s recipes resurrected. Unsurprisingly, this one didn’t make it to the table. But dad tells me Nana Jean’s never made it to her table, either. Perhaps she, too, fought with the underwhelming recipe she had already scribed in her handwritten cook book, only to find it unpalatable and, quite frankly, embarrassing. Thinking this makes the entire pursuit worth it; it warms my heart to think I have drawn closer to my dear departed grandmother through the recreation of the damnable lemon sago.

In other culinary adventures, I successfully created a tomatoey chorizo and eggplant pasta this weekend past. Eaten steaming hot with a peppery cabernet merlot it was far too warm a dish for the height of summer. But boy oh boy it was delicious. Maybe it will make it into my own handwritten cook book, for my own future granddaughter to recreate one day.

May your recipes be worthy adversaries, friends. And may they all make it to your table.


p.s. If you wish to read of another failed replica, see here for my “totes embarro” brownie resurrection.

Chocolate cake: pretty and understated

Do you have a favourite chocolate cake? One that you are secretly proud of? Your go-to recipe, much-requested at events, loved by all? I don’t. I have not yet baked a chocolate cake that is undeniably good. Well, at least not the kind of good that you remember and store away in the domestic part of your mind for times of birthdays, bake sales, morning teas and breakups. I am yet to find a signature chocolate cake.

I have heard stories of my Nana Jean’s chocolate cake. An impossibly high, intensely chocolatey kind of chocolate cake that was the envy of all her friends. So you can imagine my excitement to find a recipe in her beautiful, lilting copperplate handwriting in her cook book.

Oh, and just below, a chocolate icing recipe!

With a certain degree of stubbornness I set to resurrecting the chocolate cake. I will make this chocolate cake, I said to myself, and it will be amazing. It will be grand and fragrant and look generous and indulgent.

No, Meg. No.

Perhaps it was the wrong mindset that sabotaged my lofty ambitions. Certainly, no recipe from Nana’s cook book has been straightforward. Missing cooking times, imprecise oven temperatures, ambiguous instructions are commonplace. Indeed, you will notice that the baking time is missing from the handwritten recipe. From past experience I should have expected a hiccup.

It isn’t a bad hiccup. The cake looks nice, and tastes nice. It simply is not the noble cake I had imagined. My father concurs. This is not his mother’s famed chocolate cake.

But it is a pretty cake. Demure and understated, this cake is lightly chocolatey and not too sticky on the palate. Part of me wants to say delicate, but that isn’t quite right. It isn’t sponge-cake-delicate at all. It is just a low-rising, restrained chocolate cake. The kind that is perfect with a cup of tea or a glass of milk. Or eaten for breakfast in a bowl with milk poured over. Or is that just my childhood memories masking what is an appropriate use of cake?

This kind of cake is perfect for some people. My boyfriend tells me that his own grandmother makes a nearly-identical cake. This perhaps proves how strong a role food memories play in the development of our palates, because he absolutely loved this cake! On the other side of the state he was singing the recipe’s praises to his own family.

It is so lovely that in setting out to recreate Nana Jean’s menu I have been able to connect other people with their own culinary heritage. In many ways, this cake has reaffirmed my quest to rediscover such neglected recipes.

Oh, and this cake is a great starting point for me. I’m on a mission, friends. A mission to find my signature chocolate cake. (The best kind of mission, no?).

I look forward to sharing my findings, and resurrected recipes, with you.

Happy baking,


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Pretty and understated chocolate cake

3 eggs

¼ lb sugar

¼ lb plain flour

1 dessertspoon cocoa

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp cream of tartar

1 tbsp melted butter

½ tsp vanilla

1 dessertspoon hot water

Grease and line a cake tin. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.

Beat eggs and sugar well. Stir in flour sifted with cocoa, baking powder and cream of tartar. Lastly stir in butter, hot water and vanilla.

Transfer immediately to cake tin and bake for about 30 minutes, until your whole kitchen smells chocolately and the cake springs back to touch.

Let cool in tin for 5 minutes, then turn out on to cooling rack. Cool completely before icing.


Chocolate icing

½ cup icing sugar

½ tsp cocoa

1 big teaspoon butter

1 dessertspoon boiling water

Sift icing sugar and cocoa evenly. Mix in butter and boiling water until smooth. You may need to add more water to gain a smooth spreading consistency.

Slather over cooled chocolate cake in smooth circles with the back of a spoon.

Desdemonas and Othellos

Ready for some political incorrectness, 1950s cookery style?

Welcome into your knowledge base the fact that these biscuits exist. Or did exist. Well, ok, now some exist in my pantry so I have essentially resurrected some ill-advised nomenclature of a biscuit.

These biscuits are called Desdemonas and Othellos. For those of you with no love for, or no interest in, the works of Shakespeare, these are two characters from his play Othello. Although I am yet to read or see the play, I gather that Desdemona is the beautiful wife of Othello, the beautiful male protagonist and hero. What these biscuits refer to, though, is their skin colour. Desdemona is a fair-skinned Venetian whilst Othello is a dark-skinned Christian Moor. Ergo vanilla and chocolate icing.

Desdemona and Othello from a 2007 London performance;

I found this recipe in Miss Drake’s Home Cookery (13th edition), published by Robertson & Mullens, Melbourne in the year 1950. 13th edition! It was slotted between some thinner cookbooks collected by my Nana Jean. The book conspicuously lacks photos. As do most of the published cookbooks in Nana’s stash. Compared to the incredibly visual design of modern cookbooks, these are bland and dour. Mechanical, almost. But the recipes are so diverse, as this recipe surely testifies. So many dishes I have never heard of. Apparently 60 years is a long time in food.

The biscuits themselves are quirky characters. They completely lack butter. The moisture comes from the ample quantity of eggs. 5 eggs!

Have you heard of such a recipe? Was it created out of necessity, for some cook who lacked butter but had far too many eggs? Is it a biscuit that originated during the Depression, when rations meant butter was scarce? Oh, so little I know about these biscuits.

What I do know about these biscuits is that they are fiddly. They need to be piped onto a baking tray. Baked in batches. Left to cool before filling with jam. Sandwiched together before icing. All in all, this recipe took me about three hours to recreate. Perhaps I am less patient than my fore-bearers.

I also know that these biscuits look beautiful. Look at them, lying there, all elegant in their lush glossy icing jackets. Oh so impressive. They have a peculiar texture, not to my taste. Spongy and light, not at all crisp or crumbly. They are quite eggy in taste, almost reminiscent of the pastry from cream puffs. Although they are sweet, and tangy with blackberry jam, and very moreish. Quite perfect with milk, or a cup of tea. Indeed, my dismissive opinion was not echoed by other people who tried a Desdemona or Othello. Everybody else adored them.

I will let you be the judge. As should always be the case!

Happy cooking!


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Desdemonas & Othellos

a la Miss Drake (1950)

5 oz. flour

3 oz. sugar

5 eggs

jam, to fill (I used blackberry, which I sieved to remove seeds)

1 quantity soft vanilla icing – recipe below

1 quantity soft chocolate icing – recipe below

Beat the whites very stiffly, add the sugar gradually, beating all the time. Fold in the beaten yolks, and lastly sifted flour.

Pipe into rounds through a piping bag, on kitchen paper, on oven tray.

Bake in fairly hot oven 7-10 minutes until a golden brown.

When cold, put together with jam, and ice with soft icing. “Make some brown with chocolate icing and leave some white.”

Soft icing

4 oz. icing sugar

1 tbsp liquid (water, fruit juice, coffee, rose water, etc.). Sift icing sugar. Blend to a soft consistency with the liquid. If using water, heat icing very slightly before spreading on the biscuits. Do not allow it to reach boiling point or the sugar will grain.


Mix in 1 tsp vanilla extract with water to make 1 tbsp liquid.


Sift 1 tsp cocoa powder with the icing sugar before stirring in liquid.

Note: I heated the icing in the microwave at 25% for 10 seconds to soften. Repeated microwaving will leave the icing grainy and difficult to spread.

Soft gingerbread

Happy recovery day, readers! Here’s hoping your Boxing Day be well spent eating leftovers, holding your stretched stomachs, watching the cricket and Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Or shopping, if you were better organised than me and had actually set an alarm to tackle the sales!

What special recipes did you use this Christmas? Did you keep the food traditional, or experiment with something new to grace your dining table? I have to say, the month of Christmas-themed recipes littering Pinterest, the newspapers, the morning talk shows, the supermarket brochures, the advertisements and the conveniently-timed new-release cookbooks look incredible. And overwhelming. Or is it just me?

In line with my quest to resurrect Nana Jean’s menu, I embarked on one of her copperplate recipes for a family Christmas party. Soft gingerbread. How could I resist such a promise of a sweetly spiced soft cakey baked serve of Christmas? I couldn’t! I even trialled the recipe, how excited I was!


Oh, Nana Jean did her crafty protective trick with this recipe, too. Ambiguous ingredient quantities and a blatantly incorrect baking time. But I must be getting better, because I trusted my instincts and the sheet cake came out a dream. The sugar and butter gives the cake a glossy sheen on the surface, but it is gloriously soft on the inside. I can’t even come up with a more fitting adjective than ‘soft’. It isn’t delicate, like a sponge. It isn’t fragile, like shortbread. It is simply soft, and not at all dry or airy.

soft gingerbread

The soft gingerbread was a hit. My grandfather (from the other side of the family, not at all familiar with the recipe) went back for thirds, not just seconds. And my three-year-old second cousin went back for fourths, not just thirds. Clearly, moreish doesn’t even cover it.

I would say, unequivocally, that this has been my most successful recreation of Nana Jean’s recipes.

So here’s to family, tradition and the sharing of food!

Happy holidays, comrades.


Cream-filled orange cake from the past

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. So here I am again, after an even longer hiatus. Please let me side-step the awkwardness to discuss far more pleasant things. Such as…

The first day of December! And what a glorious day of weather it now is here in my part of Australia. But such beautiful weather has come at a cost. After a few days of oppressive, all-consuming, inescapable heat in the depths of the night a thunderstorm broke loose tearing the calm, heavy air to shreds. The kind of thunder that shakes the bones of your house, rattles your crockery and hums and vibrates and murmurs for hours. Some districts have reported golf ball sized hail stones and semi-demolished houses. My heart goes out to those who have suffered. I hope you are all now safe and on the path to recovery.

This week I have immersed myself in homely things. I hung some of my paintings, finally framed after five years in hiding. I have tried my hand at embroidery. Yes, embroidery! How quaint! I have cleaned and watered plants and purchased an old cobalt blue Twinings tea tin. Oh, I have plans for the tin. I can’t wait. And, of course, I have been baking. Specifically, I have been baking orange cakes.

Orange cake recipe

Orange cake recipe

Sweet, light-as-a-feather, zesty little orange cakes resurrected from my Nana Jean’s cookbook.

I had been invited to a ‘thank you and bye’ morning tea, which is my favourite kind of invite! Anything that asks me to bring food is something I greatly look forward to. Are you the same? Apparently this is a rare feeling, much to my surprise. So many people have admitted to hating baking. Hating. Goodness, I would bake on their behalf!

So scrolling through my archive of photos of Nana Jean’s recipes (her book is so fragile, I am hesitant to handle it more than strictly necessary, you see) I short-listed some appropriate recipes. I knew that other people had mentioned bringing chocolate slices, which made choosing a zingy orange cake so much easier. I tend to dither when selecting a recipe for an event. Do you, too? Though I do love citrus baked goods, as I’ve waxed lyrical about in the past.

I trialled the recipe on a whim last weekend. I made cupcakes; 9 medium-sized gossamer-light cupcakes, in fact. Oh the smell when these babies are baking will drive you crazy, I promise! The specific mixing method of this recipe creates a thin, crisp and sugary top whilst the cake itself is soft and fluffy. We ate the cupcakes plain, and over the next few days, when they aren’t so soft any more, we doused them with milk and ate them like pudding. Delicious!

The cake itself consisted of two thin separately baked rounds, filled with cream and coated with an orange juice icing. It was an impressive sight: a glass-like, gleaming cake with cream curving voluptuously from the middle. And it was all eaten, every last bite!

I have not taken photos of the cake, though I could have. To be perfectly honest, it was a rushed affair. Though with the incredible success, and compliments, and sexiness of the cake itself, it will undoubtedly make a reappearance from my oven soon. I look forward to sharing it with you. For now, the recipe is attached. I hope this will suffice.

I’m spending some time in Melbourne this week, the acclaimed culture capital of Australia! I would love to hear any of your recommendations, particularly of the culinary kind.

Bon appetit!


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Orange cake

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup hot water

2 oranges, zested

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Melt the butter in the water (use the microwave if the butter is very hard), let the mixture cool. Beat the eggs and sugar well, until light and fluffy. Add the flour and butter mixture and mix lightly. Lasted add the grated rind of the two oranges.

Bake in two sandwich tins until cooked through (approx. 20 minutes, depending on your oven). Cool on wire cooling trays.

Fill with cream and ice with orange juice icing, if desired.

Orange juice icing

1 cup icing sugar

juice 1/2 orange

Mix together until thick and creamy in consistency. Too thin an icing will simply drip off the cake. You may need to add more icing sugar, depending on the size and juiciness of your oranges!

Jam drop biscuits to conclude the hiatus

Hello friends. My word, it has been far too long. A hiatus as long as mine from posting is quite unheard of in the blogging sphere, so I’ve come to learn. I am coming back to my happy cookery space with my tail between my legs. I’m offering some beautiful, ruby-like jam drop biscuits, if you’d care to stay?

Jam drop biscuits

In my part of the world, winter has given way to spring. The peach tree is in its lacey blossom, the birds are singing earlier and the days are growing incrementally longer. The wind has been kissed with warmth. The sky seems bluer and the air smells cleaner. This is mood-boosting weather, and not one soul here is complaining.

In some sort of Spring-induced joyousness I’ve taken to baking with a passion. Do you do the same? Last week I baked some chocolate-ripple cupcakes studded with dark chocolate chips that I dressed with coils of chocolate-orange frosting and sprinkled liberally with tiny silver cachous. Suitably comfortingly chocolatey and zingy citrusy for the transition to the warmer season.

But more recently I turned to Nana Jean’s handwritten cookbook for inspiration. I needed something transportable, easily shared and celebratory. In other words, I needed these jam drop biscuits.

The biscuits have a gloriously buttery yet light texture. Almost like shortbread biscuits, which I think is very quaint and pleasingly coincidental given that Jean had Scottish heritage. As I am sure you are familiar, each biscuit has a pond of jam sitting in the middle. I’ve turned to the jar of raspberry jam I used in the recreation of this raspberry coconut slice. Any jam will do, but you really need something with a good powerful flavour. Something almost a little acidic, to balance the buttery sweetness of the biscuit itself, you see.

The recipe is very simple. Cream the butter and sugar, mix in the well-beaten eggs, then stir through the sifted dry ingredients. You may be tempted, like I was, to pipe the dough into pretty rosettes before adding the jam. Don’t bother. The dough is far too thick to pipe, and you will only end up with more cleaning up to do! I suppose you could amend the recipe to make it more fluid, but I would be hesitant. The texture of these is truly special. To get the jam to sit nicely in the biscuits I used the floured end of a wooden spoon to make a small depression right in the centre. And, perhaps to appease my now-spurned wish to use my piping bag, I resorted to filling the reservoirs with jam with a small circular piping tip and disposable bag. Wholly unnecessary, of course. If you only have teaspoons then by all means use teaspoons and not a piping bag.

My only complaint about the recipe is how many biscuits it makes! I made a bit over 30 biscuits, which took three batches too cook in my small oven. What a first world problem indeed.

Happy baking comrades. Here’s a promise to many more timely posts!



Jam drop biscuits

½ cup butter, soft

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs, well beaten

2 cups plain flour

½ tsp bicarb soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

¼ cup jam

Preheat oven to 200oC. Sift together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs and beat well. Stir through dry ingredients.

Make small balls from the dough and place on a baking sheet. Using the back of a wooden spoon, first dip in flour, then create a depression in the centre of each biscuit. Fill with jam using a teaspoon or piping bag. Bake batches for 15 minutes each.

Don’t eat when straight from the oven. The jam will be as hot as Hades and melt the inside of your mouth.


Banana bread from other grandmothers

It has been a long time between recipes. You know when your bones ache and your head feels too busy, too clamoured, too noisy? That has been this week for me. But banana bread saves the day. As always.

Yesterday I was graciously given four spotted bananas. Nana Jean doesn’t have any banana bread recipes in this cookbook. In her mother’s book, there are plenty. But her mother’s book is packed away in storage, and it is completely beyond my ability to find it at the moment. And by that, I mean, I cannot fathom entering the shed and looking through the two dozen or so boxes amongst all the spiders and dust and spiders.

I have recently read a book that tells the tale of a Russian woman and her self-creation as a cook. It is called Tatiana’s Table, and it is beautiful. In this book I found a recipe for banana bread. And much like I fall in love with characters in books, I fell in love with the idea of Tatiana’s banana bread. And so this morning, with unseasonable light streaming through the window, I set to recreating this cake.

And let’s be honest. Banana bread is a cake. Lacking any yeast I find it difficult to reconcile true bread with banana bread. But whatever makes you happy, and whatever comes to your tongue naturally!

Tatiana recommends throwing in a half cup of chocolate chips, or walnuts. I am a purist, though, and had no desire to do this, even though I have both in my pantry. If you choose to deviate, please let me know the results!

Oh, and I should mention that I was probably somewhat subliminally influenced by Linguistics & Cakes’ banana bread that I stumbled upon a week or so ago. I have so much love for baking blog inspiration, do you?

Merry baking comrades…


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Banana bread

a la Tatiana, from Paulina Simons’ Tatiana’s Table

110 g butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar (I used half a cup, as I don’t like very sweet things)

2 eggs, at room temperature

4 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp grated orange zest

1/3 cup water

1 tsp vanilla extract (I use organic vanilla bean paste)

4 very ripe bananas, mashed

1 ¾ cup plain flour

1 tsp baking powder (soda)

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 180 deg. C (350 deg. F). Grease the bottom of a loaf pan.

Cream butter and sugar, then add the eggs. Mix in juice, zest, water, vanilla and lastly the bananas. Fold in the flour (which has had the salt and baking powder thoroughly mixed through) until just combined. Pour into tin and bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden and fragrant.


Raspberry slice

Raspberry slice

Most people have a wide range of friends. When you meet someone new and try describing your friends to them, how do you start? Do you say “my nursing friend” or “my university friend”? If you’re like me, and like most people I have met, you will probably say “oh, she’s my glamorous friend” or “he’s my adventurous friend” or “she’s the dare devil”. And if life were a stall of baked goods, your friends may resemble different cakes, biscuits and slices. Which leads me, in a convoluted segway, to this raspberry jam slice.

There’s no two ways about it, this raspberry slice is gorgeous. Sophisticated and homely, tart yet sweet and toothsome. I suppose that with a description like that, you can consider this slice as a warm squeezing hug from your most glamorous friend. Comforting yet elegant.

The key here is to buy quality jam. Not lip-puckeringly sweet jam, but homemade slightly-tart very-flavoursome jams. And as denoted below in the graceful hand of my Nana Jean – any jam will do. In fact, I am sure marmalade would do. Heck, even nutella would do, if you are that way inclined! Go for it… and be sure to let me know about the results!

Me? Lacking any jam in the fridge, and lacking any farmers markets in our town this weekend, I ventured to the supermarket with my brother. We chose a seedy crimson red raspberry jam because it was teasingly labelled ‘homemade’ from ‘grandma’s own secret recipe’. How fitting, you must be thinking to yourself. A homely small grandmother-esque jam for My Nana’s Menu. Wrong. I read the label when I got home: product of Serbia. Anyway, it was divine, despite the carbon footprint.

in the making

And took less than an hour from start to finish.

The base isn’t as firm as most baked slices. It is like a flexible cake layer which soaks up the vibrant jam, which turns hot and sticky and fragrant in the oven. The coconut layer oozes out to a chewy, toasty and moreish topping. Overall, a very nice special occasion (or bake sale) slice indeed.

Effortless and inspiring. Like the very best friendships!

Hope your weekend baking efforts have been just as successful.

Happy Sunday hombres!


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Raspberry slice

Raspberry slice

¼ lb butter

¼ cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 ½ cups SR flour

½ jar (ish) of good-quality jam

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Beat butter and sugar to a cream. Beat in the egg, then the flour. Use your hands if necessary to form a glossy dough.

Butter and line a flat tin. I used a brownie tin, which was too large, but the dough is firm enough to create any size you like. Press the dough out flat with a knife, and spread with jam.

1 egg

½ cup sugar

1 cup desiccated coconut (or shredded coconut)

Beat all ingredients and spread over the top of the jam with a fork. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden.

Let the slice cool in the pan before slicing into thick fingers.

Cinnamon cakes

Cinnamon cakes

Following on from the great success of orange cream finger-biscuits, and following three days of wet dreary weather, I ventured deeper into Nana Jean’s cookbook for something warm and comforting. Written in her trademark copperplate was the recipe for cinnamon cakes.

Do you like cinnamon? I do. Well, truth be known, that is an understatement. I truly wholeheartedly unequivocally love cinnamon. I have no idea why; I haven’t grown up eating many foods with cinnamon. But now, in my 20s, I have it almost every day with breakfast. At the moment, I have a bit of a breakfast ritual with oats, milk, plain yoghurt, chia seeds, some ground ginger and almost a teaspoon of cinnamon. Do you have a regular breakfast recipe? I find the way people greet the morning fascinating.

But back to cinnamon cakes. For those who read my disastrous brownie experience may be wondering if Jean included all cooking directions with this recipe. Nope. No oven temperature, no specified baking trays. Ah, to be as proficient a baker as my grandmother, who seemingly had no need for directions!

cinnamon cake recipe

cinnamon cakes

Nonetheless, the cinnamon cakes were a great success. Fragrant and sweet, dense and moreish. The photographs belie the crunchy exterior and oh so soft cake interior. My mother, no fan of sweet things, went back for seconds. And as for the process: it is so simple. And the dough is a dream to work with – soft and sticky, helping to bind the dusting of ground cinnamon.

I have baked these in a large cupcake tray, which helped to cook each cake evenly and prevented the mixture from spreading. However, in hindsight, if you have oven-proof tea cups or small ramekins I am sure they would look cute as a button. Don’t you think?

Happy cooking comrades.


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cinnamon cakes

cinnamon cakes

Cinnamon Cakes

2 cups plain flour

1 egg

1 cup sugar

1 tsp cream of tartar

½ tsp baking powder

60g (2 oz) butter, softened

Little milk

Ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Sift the flour with baking powder and cream of tartar. Rub the butter into the flour mixture. Add the sugar, then the egg. Add enough milk to make a soft, mouldable dough. Roll out the dough on a board that is well dusted with more plain flour. Roll out as a rectangle about ½ inch (1.5 cm) thick. Sprinkle liberally with ground cinnamon. Roll into a long sausage; be gentle. Slice wedges off the sausage and place into the individual muffin/cupcake tins. Bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown and your whole kitchen smells of cinnamon.