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Spiced Plum Cake

Spiced Plum Cake

I really struggle with finding good light for taking my food photos this time of year, when the days are getting shorter and the sun is finding its way differently in the sky. It always takes me a few weeks to adjust to it all. Oh well! 

I hope you won't let poor photography dissuade you from baking what is a really lovely cake.  I adapted the recipe from one I found on a site called Once Upon a Chef. It looked really nice and I had picked up a couple of punnets of purple plums at the shops as they were on offer.

I adore plums, they are one of my favourite fruits.  I was quite disappointed in the plums we bought the other day. They were mealy.  I hate mealy fruit.  The only way to really use them was to cook them, hence the cake.

I'll be honest here and say I think its really bad that you should buy punnets of mealy fruit at this time of year when fruit is so fresh and readily available!  Bad. Bad. Bad. Shouldn't happen! 

Mind you, checking the label, upon closer inspection I see that they came from Spain. Why are we importing plums from Spain at a time of the year where fresh plums are ripe and ready for the picking and eating here in the UK?  So disappointing!

I shake my head when I think of it all  . . .  shouldn't happen.  Just shouldn't happen.

Anyways, this is  a really lovely cake.  I am afraid I over-cooked mine a tiny bit. The skewer kept coming out looking like it wasn't cooked in the centre, so I would pop it in for a few more minutes. 

So my edges got a bit crispy, but not in an unpalatable way at all!

As Todd was eating it he kept mumbling all the while, this is a really good cake . . .  love this cake  . . .  more cake please  . . .

He is a very lucky man.  He can eat cake until it comes out his ears  . . .  and pour cream all over it when he does  . . . .

And he never has to worry about any of it sticking to his thighs . . . 

Or his bottom, or his neck, cheeks, arms, etc.  . . .  I really don't think its fair, but it is what it is!

This is a beautiful cake  . . .  filled with the lovely flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom and that almost jammy fruit, which is tart and sweet at the same time.

For brunch or for dessert, this is one cake you won't want to miss out on . . .  and the perfect way to use up less than perfect plums!

Yield: 8

Spiced Plum Cake

A beautiful cake that is perfect served for brunch with hot cups of coffee or as a dessert with scoops of vanilla ice cream.


  • 210g plain flour (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp each ground nutmeg and ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 115g butter softened, plus more to butter the pan (1/2 cup)
  • 190g white sugar, plus 2 TBS, divided (1 cup + 2TBS, divided)
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 120ml whole milk (1/2 cup)
  • 1 pound fresh plums, pitted and quartered


How to cook Spiced Plum Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a 9 inch spring form pan really well and dust with flour, shaking out any excess. Set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Stir in the salt. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and 190g/1 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla, adding a spoonful of the flour mixture if it starts to curdle. Add the milk alternately with the flour mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, levelling it off. Scatter the plums over top decoratively. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 TBS of sugar.
  4. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until golden and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
  5. Run a knife carefully around the edge of the cake to loosen, and then loosen the sides of the pan. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Cut into slices to serve. You can dust this with icing sugar if you want to pretty it up a bit!
Created using The Recipes Generator

I am not really sure what I will have to share with you tomorrow. I am going to leave it as a bit of a surprise.  I don't think you will be disappointed at any rate, or at least I hope that you won't! 

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Marie Rayner
Just to say   . . .

Just to say . . .

I want you all to know that I am so very appreciative of the comments you always leave on my posts, and that I do generally try to respond to each and every one of them. On here, on facebook, on Instagram, etc. My motto has always been if someone has been generous enough to take the time to comment, then I need to be generous enough to respond.  Comments are not always kind however and I usually try to brush the unkind ones off, but today I want to respond to a particularly unkind and insensitive comment which was left on my post on the Knives Expert site on my Roasted Chicken recipe, which said simply:  

“What family? You live alone with your husband.” 

Dear Beccy033, 

Thank you so very much for your comment. How very kind it was of you to remind me that my husband has outlived all three of his children, and that my own children and grandchildren live over 2000 miles away from us.  You sweet words sure gave me the warm and fuzzies.  It also prompted me to think about what it is exactly that constitutes a family.

At its very most basic, a family is the compilation of a group of individuals who share a legal or genetic bond.  It can consist of a very large group of people, or it can be as simple as just two people who live under the same roof, or not, it could be an individual and their cat/dog. Many family members may live outside the actual home, coming together from time to time to celebrate occasions and to just hang out. 

To many people, however,  family means much more than this, and even the simple idea of genetic bonds can be far more complicated than it might seem on the surface.

There are many kinds of families.  I have often heard it said that friends are the family that one gets to choose for themselves.   There are step and blended families, adopted families, foster families, and childless families, all in addition to what might be seen as the so called “normal” family. Some families have two moms or two dads.  Childless families might include pets as their family members.

Essentially, I like to think that a family is composed of individuals and groups of people who share an emotional and spiritual connection, even if they share no legal or genetic bonds.  For example one's “Church Family” may have shared spiritual connections and values, whereas a “Work Family” might share long term relationships based on common experiences and activities, and hopefully . . .  a shared and pleasant work space.

I suppose what I am saying really is that the definition of what constitutes a family is something that is living and breathing,  very fluid and constantly evolving, and it is individual and unique to each of us. Every person can define family in a different way to encompass the relationships they share with the people in their lives, which, over time . . .  can, will and should change as one's life changes, and the importance of family values and rituals deepen.  Basically, every member who is truly considered to be a part of a family will help to make and keep it richer.

So when I choose to gather family around my table for a special meal or lunch, this might sometimes indeed only be my husband and I, or it might include some of the many wonderful people we have chosen to invite to share our lives and occasions with us, and certainly on very choice and rare occasions it might even include some of my own children or extended family members.  The point is, “I” am the one who gets to decide who is and who isn’t a member of my family.  Often, I like to think that my family also consists of the sweet and loyal people who drop by every day to see what I am cooking and share my recipes with me.  I am always happy to see them, and I usually, more often than not, appreciate the kind words they leave for me.  May it be ever so.

And just so you know, whilst I would really like to say you are not invited to dinner, the kind of person that I am would never refuse,  even you  . . . . a place at my table.

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Marie Rayner
Honey Mustard Roasted Parsnips & Carrots

Honey Mustard Roasted Parsnips & Carrots

When I was cooking that roast chicken dinner for the other site I write on, I wanted to cook a few side dishes to have along with the roast chicken and the potatoes.  I made my Sage & Onion Stuffing because we both love that very much.

And then I roasted some parsnips and carrots at the same time I was roasting the chicken. We had been gifted a bag of them by our friends Tina and Tony and I wanted to use them while they were still really fresh!

Remember these funky carrots I showed you the other day?  Apparently that is caused when your soil is full of stones. You get these weird looking almost alien carrots.   I was wondering how on earth I was going to peel them . . .  and then in bed one night it came to me!

Break them down into smaller carrots. Doesn't everyone think about things like this in bed?  Please tell me I am not crazy or anything!  Anyways, that is what I did and I ended up with quit a bundle of carrots!

Once I turned them into individual carrots, and peeled them, it was very easy to cut them into manageable strips.  My parsnips were quite large also, so these were cut into quarters or sixths.

After that I par-boiled them for about 5 minutes in some lightly salted water. It doesn't take long. You don't actually want to cook them through.

You just want them so that they don't take too long to cook in the oven.  Because they are coated in a sweetish mixture, you run the risk of them burning if they are in the oven too long.

I coated them in a mix of melted butter, Dijon mustard and liquid honey . . .

And then I roasted them for about 30 to 40 minutes.

They came out perfect.  Lightly glazed, a bit caramelised in parts, and beautifully crispy tender.

Yield: 4

Honey Mustard Roasted Parsnips & Carrots

Crispy tender, glazed and delicious.


  • 4 parsnips, peeled cut into strips
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into strips
  • fine sea salt and coarse black pepper to taste
  • 1 TBS melted butter
  • 1 TBS Dijon Mustard
  • 2 TBS liquid honey


How to cook Honey Mustard Roasted Parsnips & Carrots

  1. Cook the parsnips and carrots in a pot of lightly salted boiling water for 5 minutes, drain well.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Butter a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the vegetables in one layer.
  3. Whisk together the melted butter, mustard and honey. Place the drained vegetables into a buttered dish. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the mustard mixture over top and toss together to coat. Distribute evenly in the pan. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until crispy on the outsides, but tender inside. Delicious!
Created using The Recipes Generator

These really were gorgeous.  I think I might make them again for Thanksgiving in a few weeks time!

Up Tomorrow: Spiced Plum Cake

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Marie Rayner
Roasted Garlic & Herb Chicken with Melting Potatoes

Roasted Garlic & Herb Chicken with Melting Potatoes

My latest article is now live on Chef Knives Expert.  You are going to really love this Roasted  Garlic & Herb Chicken with Melting Potatoes Recipe.  Not only does it all cook in one dish but it is fabulously tasty!

A whole free range, corn fed organic chicken, rubbed with butter and stuffed with butter, garlic and herbs is roasted on top of a flavourful bed of potatoes, garlic, stock and white wine  . . .

until the chicken is crisp skinned and succulent and the potatoes are meltingly tender.  So delicious!

You can go HERE for the recipe!  Tell them I sent you!  Roast chicken never tasted so good! 

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Marie Rayner
Frank-ly Chili

Frank-ly Chili

This is another recipe that I found in that old tin recipe box of mine. I am intrigued by old recipes such as this.

First there is the nostalgic factor . . .  and then there is the fact that once upon a time I thought enough of what I was seeing here to want to save it.

Frank-ly Chili.  This recipe comes from the people at Maple Leaf Wieners.  Once again very Canadian as was yesterday's recipe. 

I am sure that I saved it because my children would have loved it.  Also it was fairly economical.  I would have had to double it for my family as there were 7 of us.  I was always on the look-out for economical meals that were delicious and that I thought my family would love.

What child doesn't love hot dogs, wieners, frankfurters or whatever you choose to call them?  You know, every Friday night of my childhood was Hot Dog night in our house.  My mom was known for her ability to make delicious hot dogs and our friends used to wish for an invite to dine on hot dog night.

In my late teens mom discovered a recipe for chili con carne which was found on the side of a tomato soup tin. Saturday nights then became Chili Night.  I loved that we could tell what day of the week it was by what was for supper.

So this recipe really intrigued me and I found myself wanting to try it . . .  

I used several of the Jumbo Dinner Franks that you get at Costco.  For some reason they have not had the regular sized ones for quite a while now.

I used 3 of the big ones as I reckoned that sliced, they would be the equivalent of the amount that the recipe asked for.

A tin of good tomatoes and you know what kind I like.  I have started stock-piling tomatoes actually.  I heard a rumour that once Brexit hits, tomatoes will be hard to come by as most of our tinned tomatoes come from Italy.  Not sure if this is true, but I'm not taking any chances.

Tinned tomatoes are one thing which is a must have store cupboard ingredient in my house!

On the day I bought my groceries I could not get a green pepper all on its own, so once again I used my store cupboard and used some of the frozen peppers I had in the freezer, and they were a mix of colours.  They worked well.

The chili powder used here is the milder North American version, which is actually a mixture of several things and not pure ground chillies.  In the UK, don't make the mistake of using the full amount of UK chili powder.  It will blow your head off.  IF you are using UK chili powder, I would only add about 1/2 tsp, and a quantity of smoked paprika, or whatever your tongue tells you is the right amount.

This was really quite tasty.  It was also quite filling. I always like to sprinkle a bit of cheese on top of my chili. Normally I would also add a TBS of sour cream to the top as well, but alas, we had none.  In any case we both enjoyed this very much!

Yield: 4

Frank-ly Chili

This is an old prize winning recipe from a contest put on by Maple Leaf Wieners back in the 1970's.


  • 8 to 10 frankfurters, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 small green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano flakes
  • 2 TBS oil
  • 1 (400g) tin of chopped tomatoes in juice, undrained (14 oz)
  • 1 (400g) tin of kidney beans, undrained (14 oz)
  • 1 1/2 TBS mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dash pepper
  • 1 TBS vinegar
  • 1 TBS sugar


How to cook Frank-ly Chili

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, peppers and sliced frankfurters. Cook, stirring, until the onion and peppers are soft. Add the garlic, chili powder and herbs, and cook for a further minute. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cover and cook slowly for 1 hour. Serve with toast points and a green salad.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Its really a lot of fun digging through my old recipe collection and picking out things I had thought worthy of saving. Not a dud in the bunch thus far!  This only goes to prove that I've always had good taste!  😉 

Up Tomorrow:  Mustard & Honey Roasted Parsnips & Carrots 

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Marie Rayner

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