Monday, 28 November 2011

Sticky Toffee Pudding on a Sunday !!

Vagina Monologues Cake Club had a break last week as we didn't make it home over the weekend and, therefore, I couldn't bake !!
Back this week though for our last week on tour and the favourite cake has been requested again - the winner - BANOFFEE CAKE !!
More of that in a later post .
It seems ages since I've had a whole Sunday at home without a show and I've missed catching up with friends, so it was 10 for a Roast and Sticky Toffee Pudding !! Quick and easy and always a hit, and as John Torode said on Celebrity Masterchef - A seriously Sexy Pudding!!
Click on the link for the recipe -

Delicious served with Vanilla Ice Cream !! 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Chewy Speculaas Blondies for City Varieties, Leeds!!

We couldn't decide on a cake for Vagina Monologues Cake Club this week so I took to work Edd Kimber's The Boy who Bakes recipe book and we chose Chewy Speculaas Blondies !! A sort of brownie made with lots of brown sugar and hazlenuts!!
The smell from the oven when they were baking was amazing and I only used one pan so washing up was kept to the minimum - bonus!!
Edd even tweeted me a top tip! Makesure the tin cools completely so they can be easily removed and cut up without falling apart - thanks Edd!
They were truly delicious and very morish -

Sorry but I'm not going to give you the recipe - you'll have to go and buy Edd's book - it's brilliant and would make a great Christmas present.                                                                                                    
It was great to be eating these while sat in the dressing room of the newly refurbished City Varieties       Theatre in Leeds. I have very fond memories of watching The Good Olde Days with Leonard Sachs as a  child and was thrilled to be playing such a famous and much loved auditorium.I just had to take some photos of it.Beautiful!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Makes me want to sing 'Down at the Old Bull and Bush' !! ( feeling old !)

Friday, 11 November 2011

Rhubarb and Ginger Cake for Louisa Lytton !!

I noticed Louisa eating a piece of gingerbread from Starbucks last week and she mentioned how much she loved ginger - hence this weeks Cake Club choice !
We're also visiting Wales with the Vagina Monologue tour and Zoe Williams, who won the Supersweet competition on This Morning  with her Rhubarb Crumble Cheesecake, is coming to see the show. So with that in mind I created a Rhubarb and Ginger cake. The rhubarb flavour comes in the form of rhubarb and ginger preserve which I found in the fridge - so the taste isn't that strong but it makes the cake very moist. Added a little rosewater to the icing and it worked for me!

250g soft butter
250g caster sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsps ground ginger
3 balls crystillised stem ginger (chopped finely)
250 g self raising flour


125g soft butter
225g icing sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
Rhubarb preserve

icing sugar
rosewater essence
pink food colouring
2 stem ginger balls


Preheat oven to 180oc and grease and line the bottoms of two cake sandwich tins.
Cream sugar and butter and add eggs, beat well and add the ground ginger.
Fold in baking powder and flour and mix in chopped ginger.
Split the mix between the two tins and bake for 15 to 20 mins till risen and golden,
Allow to cool.
Beat soft butter with icing sugar and ground ginger and cut the sponge in half.
Layer the sponges with the buttercream and preserve,
Make up the icing and spread on top.
Decorate with slivers of stem ginger,

The smell was amazing when the cake tin was opened.

It is extremely sweet but everyone loved it and Louisa declared it her favourite so far !!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Dinner at The Hand and Flowers, Marlow !!

Just the one night off from Vagina Monologues tour and needed a catchup and a lovely meal out, so headed to the Hand and Flowers in Marlow, Bucks and the fabulous food of Tom Kerridge, who has won the main course dish for the Great British Menu on BBC2 two years running.
As usual, we weren't disappointed... I started with a salt cod scotch egg with chorizo - just perfect !!
Kenny and I then shared the Pork platter which won the Great British Menu last year.....

It was a fantastic talking point and every element of the dish was amazing - the best crackling I've ever had and the potatoes baked in the salt crust were so moist and tasty.
For pudding we chose a pear souffle - so light and served with a pear puree and a mace mascarpone.....

And a tonka bean pannacotta with poached plums and plum jelly and sorbet - an autumn version of his Great British Menu strawberries and cream pannacotta - the sorbet was to die for.......

A wonderful meal and evening with the Caldesi's !!
Check out their website or, better still, visit for a gorgeous meal. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Buns for the Caldesi's Bonfire Party!!

We were invited to a bonfire party at our friends the Caldesi's. I first met Giancarlo when I appeared on Celebrity Masterchef - I was sent to do a lunch service in his restaurant in Marylebone, Caffe Caldesi, and we have stayed in contact ever since. He was such a great help and support to me throughout that competition and it's always lovely to spend time with him and his wife, Katie - who has written the wonderful ' Italian Cookery Course' and runs their cookery school ( )- and their sons Giorgio and Flavio.
Obviously, the food is always amazing at their house but we were all invited to bring along our bonfire favourites to help cater for around 30 people.
I decided to do one of our families favourites, Devilled Sausages. My godmother Lorna used to always prepare them on Boxing Day to go with the cold turkey but now we have them all year round.
They're so simple....... Place your sausages (about 12) in an oven proof dish, then mix a jar of redcurrant jelly with 5 tsps of english mustard and spoon over the sausages. Cover with foil and place in a 180oc oven for 30 mins. Turn them and then take off foil and bake for another 15 mins so the sauce reduces and becomes sticky.... so yummy

Gracie and I couldn't resist making some sweet treats for all the kids too....
Treacle Toffee Flapjack from a recipe by Holly Bell, who was a finalist in this year's Great British Bakeoff. It can be found on her blog - recipesfromanormalmum
It was deliciously gooey and treacley!!

 We also got a little create and made Bonfire Buns !!

250g butter
250g caster sugar
4 eggs
200g self raising flour
50g cocoa powder
Raspberry seedless jam
icing sugar
orange food colouring
cadbury's flakes

Preheat oven to 180oc and put buncases in muffin tray ( should make about 15 large buns)
Cream together butter and sugar, add eggs and beat.
Sift in cocoa and flour and fold in.
Put a tsp full into the cake cases , then a tsp full of jam , then another spoonful of cake mix.This should, hopefully, give the bun a jammy centre.
Bake for 13 to 15 mins  and then leave to cool.
Make up orange icing and cover buns.
Break or cut up flakes and arrange on top like a bonfire!!

All the kids loved them - and the adults did too !!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Gluten Free Cake Club for Shrewsbury !!

We have wonderful understudy on our Vagina Monologues tour who has the thankless task of being on standby in case myself, Louisa or Zaraah are taken ill. Emma Kelly has requested that we have a gluten free week as, although she has been eating the cake each week, her tummy has been feeling the consequences!

So here goes --- I reached for my friend Katie Caldesi's fabulous book The Italian Cookery Course as I knew there was a great recipe for Chocolate and Almond Cake in there and found on the opposite page an Orange and Polenta Cake too - So I made both !!! 

Both were really moist and delicious - I think it's much better, if you can to stay clear of gluten free flours and they have a real chalky, gritty texture.
Emma was spoilt for choice !!

The rest of us didn't know which to have first - Decisions !!

We started with the Orange and Polenta and then moved onto the Chocolate and Almond - smiles all round.

I can't recommend Katie Caldesi's book enough - The Italian Cookery Course - Not just lovely cakes and puds but beautiful, traditional Italian recipes with superb photography throughout - Buy it !!

House of Commons and then The Pudding Parlour !!

Just one day off from Vagina Monologues tour and had a lovely evening celebrating Childline's 25th birthday ( a wonderful achievement for a fantastic charity) at the House of Commons. As it finished reasonably early, Kenny and I decided to have a nightcap and pudding at The Atheneum Hotel on Piccadilly where they have opened the Pudding Parlour in their Garden room - a fabulous idea - you pay £10 for a visit to a wonderful table full of beautiful desserts and help yourself - Pudding Heaven !!

Amongst the delights - Edd Kimber, who won last year's Great British Bakeoff, creates his pudding of the month and it was the most gorgeous Plum Almondine, my personal favourite !

We really didn't know where to start as everything looked amazing !!

We gradually worked our way through starting with the Champagne jellies and finishing with a blackcurrant macaroon - beautiful !
Strolled back to the car very full and on a sugar high but it was the perfect way to end a lovely evening!
Visit the Pudding Parlour at the Atheneum Hotel - a great idea !!