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GBBO Recipe

Weekly Roundup

Celery Soup

Following on from last week’s column I am relieved and happy
to report back that my Game of Thrones themed cake was a success. It’s always a
worry that something is going to go wrong, and disaster will strike at the last
minute when making a cake for something special. In Pre-Bake Off days I used to
take days to build a cake but my experience in that big tent taught me many
things, one of them being time management and to think on your feet if disaster
does poke its finger in your direction.

One example of this was in fact during cake week. I had
finished my Strawberry Fayre showstopper, it was a chocolate collar cake, we
all had to do collars. It was a roasting hot day, so I popped it into the
fridge. When I went back to bring it out for presenting, I was horrified to see
the collar at the back of the bottom tier was smashed in. I had failed to
notice the fridge light at the back and pushed my cake right into it. I cast
around for inspiration. I spotted my bobbin of bright red curling ribbon. I use
it often, if you try hard enough you can think of ways to use red ribbon,
cheers you up on a gloomy day! I made a ponytail of curling ribbon, tied it to
a skewer stuck it into the damage. Disguised and it looked triumphant. I nearly
got a Hollywood handshake!!

The healthy eating regime is going well. There are so many
things to make and devour once you get involved. My favourite this week
involves celery. I hear gasps and yawns of boredom. How can celery be on a
favourite list? Its transformed by cooking, no longer the last crudité left on
the buffet table, celery is amazing. Celery soup, two ingredients, a stock cube
and salt and pepper, here is the recipe.

Celery Soup

1 pack of celery

1 pack spring onions

1 veg stock cube

Chop the celery into approx. 2cm lengths (discard the

Trim and chop the spring onion

Put into a large saucepan and cover with water

Add the stock cube

bring to the boil and simmer until soft

add more water if required

Blitz in blender or with a stick blender

Salt and pepper to taste

Celery Soup

If you remember I mentioned my Uncle Graham last week. He
lives around the corner from me and I visited him yesterday. He is an avid film
maker, home movies, he has 500 and they go back to the early sixties. I am
researching food trends and holidays from the sixties onwards. He was showing
me the old favourites. Most of us love a trip down memory lane. We were saying
how back in the sixties we had never heard of pasta and thought that spaghetti
only came in a tin, not having a clue what it was made from. When I got home, I
decided to take a risk and do some pasta for our tea. You see my human dustbin
husband John draws the line at pasta, he will eat it but not with a smile and
he will not eat rice, unless it is made with milk and sugar and baked in the
oven! He is old school you see when the only carbs found on a plate were

I got away with it and just by rummaging around in the
fridge. I sprayed my Wok with fry light and softened up and onion a red pepper
and a few cherry tomatoes. I had a bit of left-over chicken tikka breast from
the night before and a few rashers of bacon. That went into the wok. I added a
tiny bit of water and half a pot of quark. A few grinds of salt and pepper and
voila. I cooked off some tagliatelle, stirred it through the sauce and it was
done. Hey presto a quick healthy dinner and John scoffed the lot.

Baking Recipe

Simple but classic poached pears

Last Sunday, I was making my shopping list and checked the fruit bowl. It was empty except for a few pears that were getting past their best. Not being one to waste food, I thought I’d give poached pears a try for dessert that evening. They were very quick to prepare and tasted amazing – my mother loves tinned pears and she gave them 5 stars!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 pears
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 500ml water
  • Tsp ground cinnamon
  • Tsp vanilla paste
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. In a medium sauce pan, put all the ingredients except the pears. Put a low heat while you peel the pears.
  2. Once peeled, place the pears into the pan.
  3. Bring the syrup to a boil and reduce to a simmer until the pears are soft.
  4. Serve warm or cold. I like them with cream, but custard tastes great too!

Baking Charity Recipe

Kids’ Fairy Cakes

In a few weeks’ time I have volunteered to spend a day working with school children at Miriam Lord Primary School in Bradford. They are having an Aspire, Achieve, Dream day, and I am going to be talking to them about my background, Bake Off, uplifting bits and bobs from my life, and something practical too, but what?

Well if in doubt, all kids love to decorate a bun or a cupcake, so I have made the first batch of kids’ fairy cakes just now, this recipe made 54 small buns using a Victoria sponge ratio.

I will freeze this lot and then make exactly the same quantity nearer the time, then they have the fun part of frostings and sprinkles!


400g Soft Margarine
400g Caster Sugar
8 Medium Eggs
375g Self Raising Flour
40g Cocoa Powder


1. Cream the margarine and sugar together
2. Beat in the eggs with a large spoon of flour
3. Fold in the rest of the flour
4. Spoon the mixture into small bun cases
5. Bake in the oven at 190 degrees (or 180 degrees in a fan assisted oven) for about ten minutes
6. Leave to cool on a wire rack


Green Tomato Chutney Recipe

I got a call from my Uncle Graham this morning asking me if I could use a few green tomatoes which were left over from his summer tomato crop. Well, in actual fact, I had never done anything with green tomatoes before but not wanting to turn down his offer I said “Of course, that’s fab Uncle” and popped around the corner to collect them. (We live like a dozen houses from each other).

The only recollection I had of green toms was when I was a kid, my dad was always trying to ripen them, either in a drawer in the dresser or on a sunny windowsill, they never turned as far as I can recall.

When in doubt in these situations, I call upon chutney. My family will tell you, should you bother to ask, I am a bit of a condiment queen. When I was a kid the best thing about mam’s salad on Sunday tea was the Heinz Salad Cream.

Chutney is a big fave of mine, so I made some, took about half an hour to cook down and Bob’s your uncle. (I don’t have an uncle called Bob, but my kids do)!


175g Brown Sugar
150ml White Wine Vinegar
1 Onion (finely chopped)
1 Cooking Apple (finely chopped)
125g Sultanas
500g Green Tomatoes
1 tsp Chilli Flakes
1 tsp Ginger Powder
1 tbs Garlic Puree

N.B. I used dried spices and a tube of garlic puree as that’s what I had in the larder, but fresh would be fine of course.


1. In a frying pan, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar under a low heat
2. Throw all the ingredients in and bubble down until they form a sticky, chutney consistency
3. Bingo! Done. Pop into sterilised jars (2 x 500g)

Great with cold meats and cheeses, bang it on the Buffet Table!

Christmas Recipe

Uncle David’s Favourite Mince Meat Recipe

I was just thinking this morning how it will be Christmas before we know where we are and I just happened to have all the ingredients in my store cupboard to make a huge jar of mincemeat for mince pies. It only takes ten minutes and little effort, with the resulting mincemeat much better than anything you can buy in the shops.

I have an Uncle David who is mince pie crazy. One year as a young man, he scoffed all my gran’s mince pies in one sitting. The following year she played a joke on him, baking him a tray full stuffed with cotton wool; each year he still remains optimistic that he will be plied with the real thing!


700g Mixed Dried Fruit (any combination you like, cranberries, mango or (like me) just the standard currants, raisins, sultanas and mixed peel)
100g Glacé Cherries (chopped)
1 Cooking Apple (peeled, cored and chopped)
125g Unsalted Butter
50g Chopped Nuts (any will do)
225g Dark Brown Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 and 1/2 tbs Mixed Spice
1 tsp Mace or Nutmeg
Grated rind and juice of 1 Lemon
150ml Brandy


1. Warm the sugar, butter and lemon in a large pan on a low heat
2. Add all the other ingredients (with the exception of the brandy)
3. Cook over a low heat for about ten minutes, stirring regularly
4. Remove from heat and leave to cool
5. Add the brandy and stir thoroughly
6. Place in a large sterilised Kilner jar or four small jam jars

Who still puts mince pies out on Christmas Eve? Not my Uncle that’s for sure!