Glassdrumman Flapjacks – Irish Breads and Baking Georgina Campbell

In my quest for the perfect flapjack recipe I thought I’d try the flapjack recipe from a book Bernadette bought for me called The Best of Irish Breads & Baking. It goes to the other extreme in quantities  of butter and sugar/honey/syrup. I had to treble the quantities in the recipe in the book to get the right quantity of mixture for my flapjack tray. The original recipe said it made about 2 doz, they must have been minute!

My boys really liked the flapjacks although even they admitted they were maybe just a little bit too sweet and sticky. Anyway here’s the original recipe, I’d definitely adjust things with more oats to the rest of the ingredients another time.


  • 75g butter
  • 75g sugar
  • 1 dsp golden syrup
  • 1 dsp honey
  • 100g rolled oats
  1. Preheat the oven 190 degrees C
  2. Put all the ingredients except the oats into a saucepan, heat until everything is dissolved
  3. Stir in the oats
  4. Turn mixture into a greased flapjack tin and press down
  5. Bake for about 10-15 mins until rowned but not hard
  6. Cut into squares while still warm

Roasted Carrot and red pepper soup – Avoca Cafe Cookbook

I wanted to find a soup I could make up in advance and serve up as a starter rather than a hearty soup for lunchtime. I remember my nephew Andrew making a lovely roasted pepper and tomato soup but as tomatoes are not in season I thought I’d try a roasted pepper and carrot soup from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook: Bk. 1.

I loved the soup as did my boys. It is a lovely bright orange colour with specks of red. I added more water to make it a little less substantial, if you did this as a starter you wouldn’t want large bowls of soup. Would make a very nice lunch with bread. It’s probably a soup that would work well for a flask.


  • 3 large red peppers, cut into quarters and deseeded
  • 10 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • a pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1.8 litres vegetable stock
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 dsps creme fraiche
  • paprika
  1. Toss the peppers and carrots in half the olive oil and roast in a very hot oven for 10 mins or until the peppers start to look charred
  2. Meanwhile gently saute the onions in the remaining oil for 10 mins
  3. Add the carrots and peppers to the onions with the cinnamon and some salt and pepper. Toss them together then add stock and lime juice
  4. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 mins or until the carrots are tender
  5. Puree the soup in a blender, then reheat gently
  6. Serve topped with a spoonful of creme fraiche and a pinch of paprika

Irish Apple Cake – Darina Allen Traditional Irish Cooking

I made the apple cake from Darina Allen’s Traditional Irish Cooking again today to have after roast dinner. A much more appropriate time to serve it up. It’s called Irish Apple Cake but really it’s a type of apple pie made with a soft dough-like pastry. The pastry is quick and easy to make with ingredients you’re always likely to have to hand but be careful when handling as it is very soft and easy to tear. I think the egg wash is essential but I never know what to do with the rest of the egg. It’s one of those times when I wish we still kept quail, quail’s eggs are a perfect size for egg washing pastry. I also added cinnamon and nutmeg as the original recipe only had 2-3 cloves and was a bit bland.


  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 110g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 50ml milk
  • 2 cooking apples
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • beaten egg to glaze
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
  2. Sieve flour and baking powder into a bowl
  3. Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
  4. Add 85g sugar, then make a well and mix in milk and beaten egg until it forms a soft dough (you may need to add more flour if the dough is sticky)
  5. Divide into two
  6. Roll out half and place on a greased ovenproof plate
  7. Peel and core cooking apples and slice apples onto dough
  8. Sprinkle remaining sugar and spices onto the top
  9. Roll out other half and place on top
  10. Press edges of pastry/dough together and egg wash
  11. Cook for 40 mins

Darina notes that this would have originally been baked in  a bastible or pot beside an open fire (similar to a dutch oven).

Ginger Cookies – Best Ever Recipes Cookies Phoebe Gibb

The book Best Ever Recipes Cookies by Phoebe Gibb is one of my sister Bernadette’s cook books and she made these up yesterday for the first time. They looked somewhat unpromising on the baking tray before they were into the oven and came out looking like ‘proper’ ginger biscuits.  Recipe says it makes 30-40 cookies, hard to tell as the first few went so quickly. My sister tells me she made about 30 and used 3 baking trays.


  • 220g plain flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger *
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tsp water

*You could adjust the ginger levels up or down to suit your taste


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C, line two baking trays with greaseproof paper
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, ginger, bicarb and baking powder
  3. Using your fingertips rub in the butter
  4. Add the sugar and stir well
  5. Finally add the water and golden syrup
  6. Roll the mixture into a ball and divide into walnut sized pieces
  7. Place on the prepared baking tray and flatten slightly with your hand (the book says to press your thumb into the middle of each one but flattening resulted in an authentic ginger cookie appearance)
  8. Bake for about 10 tins
  9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool

 These would be great biscuits to make with children as they cook so quickly. I’ll be adding this to the list of recipes to try on a cub scout baking session.

Whiskey Teabread – Irish Traditional Food by Theodora FitzGibbon

It used to be that every halfway decent cook in Ireland had their own closely guarded teabread recipe. Mine comes from Irish Traditional Food by Theodora FitzGibbon and is a failsafe recipe I come back to again and again (sadly this book is out of print, if you’re interested in traditional Irish food you should try and track down a copy). The teabread is really simple to make. This quantity makes 3 loaves, you can scale down but since it keeps three always seems a a good amount (I often give away the third to a friend or neighbour). Whenever I’m going to see my Aunty Josie I know I need to make sure I have a loaf of teabread with me.

This should be served sliced and spread with butter, ideally with a cup of tea but also works well in lunch boxes.


  • 450g (1lb) Sultanas
  • 450g (1lb) raisins
  • 450g (1lb) soft brown sugar
  • 3 cups (1/2 litre) milkless tea & whiskey mixed (I usually replace about 150ml of the tea with whiskey so 350ml tea, 150 ml whiskey but you could do anything up to half and half) *
  • 450g (1lb) plain (soft baking) flour
  • 3 level teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 level teaspoons mixed spice
  • 3 beaten free range eggs

*Adding the whiskey helps the teabread to keep better and subtely improves the flavour


  1. Soak the fruit and sugar in the tea (& Whiskey) overnight. If pushed for time can soak fruit/sugar in the morning and bake in the evening.
  2. Cover bowl with teatowel.
  3. Sift plain flour with baking powder and mixed spice
  4. Add flour and beaten eggs alternately to the fruit and tea mixture
  5. Turn into 3 greased & lined loaf tins and bake for 1 1/4 hrs at 160 degrees C.

Muffins Fast and Fantastic by Susan Reimer

Having the time to make several updates to my cookbook blog in one day is highly unusual but since I have the time I thought I’d just put in a recommendation for this little Muffin book.

They are muffins in the North American sense of the word obviously (as it would be very difficult to fill even a leaflet with English muffin recipes). I was bought this book by one of my sisters and I know she has two copies so that she never loses a copy (although I just looked on her shelf of cook cooks and neither copy are there right now). It is quite a slim book but well worth getting. The recipes are low sugar and I always use olive oil instead of butter so they are another healthy snack. They freeze well and a frozen muffin popped into a lunch box in the morning defrosts by lunchtime. I also make up several dozen at a time to put in the freezer for some elderly relatives. Most of the recipes in the book need to be either eaten or frozen on the day, the main exception I’ve found are the apple muffins.

My favourite out of the recipes I’ve tried in the book are the apple (recipe below), banana and the Buttermilk & Jam muffins. I also love the basic muffin recipe with 1/2 jar of mincemeat mixed in.

Apple Muffins

  • 255g Plain flour
  • 3tsp (15ml) baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp (7.5ml) mixed spice
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 170g eating apple, finely chopped
  • 150ml milk, ideally semi skimmed
  • 90ml olive oil or equivalent quantity butter
  • 80g raisins or sultanas (optional)
  1. Line a muffin tin with paper or silicon cases. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C (or Gas mark 5).
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, spice and sugar into a large bowl and mix together.
  3. Mix together milk, and olive oil/melted butter into a separate bowl and beat the egg into this mixture. then stir in the apple followed by the dried fruit (optional).
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir until almost mixed. It is quite a thick batter, the apples will release more moisture as they cook.
  5. Spoon into the muffin cases and sprinkle each muffin top with some brown/demerara  sugar
  6. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly browned on the top and springy to touch. Leave to cool in the tin for few minutes.

Basic Muffin


  • 9oz/255g plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional I don’t put it in)
  • 3-4oz/85-110g fine granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 8fl oz/240ml milk
  • 3fl oz/90ml veg oil/butter (I use olive oil)


  1. Preheat oven to 190 C gas mark 5
  2. Sift together dry ingredients
  3. Mix wet ingredients togetehr in a separate bowl
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined (about 30 secs)
  5. Put mix into 12 muffin cases and bake for 20-25mins

Optional extra ingredients
85-100g chocolate chips, or
85-140g chopped dried fruit (note you may need a little extra liquid with dried fruit additions)

Banana Muffins

  • 280g/10oz plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 large well ripened bananas
  • 100g/4oz fine white granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 60-90ml/2-3 fl oz milk
  • 90ml/3fl oz veg oil or melted butter (I use olive oil)
  • 85-100g Chocolate chips optional
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence optional

Banana Oatmeal variation that I usually make (with choc chips)
reduce flour to 225g/8oz add 60g/2 oz rolled oats to the wet mix

  1. Mix dry ingredients (except oats if using as they go into wet mix)
  2. Mix wet ingredients and add oats if doing oatmeal version
  3. Mash bananas add to wet ingredients
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until just mixed
  5. Spoon into 12 muffin cases
  6. Bake 20-25mins @ 190 C

Not on the Label – Felicity Lawrence

Not on the label by Felicity Lawrence is definitely not a recipe book but it is such a scary read that I resolved to do as much cooking from scratch as possible rather than buying processed food.

After reading the section on bread I found myself using the breadmaker several times a week instead of buying bread and I’m only tempted to buy fresh bread from Waitrose or Rankin’s soda and wheaten breads if I’ve forgotten to put the breadmaker on.

There were recommendations for independent mills in the book and one of these was Shipton Mill who have a great website where you can order on-line so I buy almost all my flour from them now. The soft baking flour and strong bread flour I buy by the sack. Whilst I love Irish wheaten breads and brown soda bread I’m not especially keen on brown/wholemeal bread even home baked, however I make an exception for Shipton’s 3 malts and sunflower brown flour if they sold this by the sack I’d order a sackful at a time as well. They also sell proper Irish soda bread flour

I do however buy a few bags of Odlums soda bread mix whenever I’m in Ireland. You just have to add water and makes a very acceptable brown soda bread. (However I daren’t look at the list of ingredients.)

Banana Bread – Nigella Domestic Goddess

I have a lazy day at my sisters today so catching up on posting a few of my old favourite recipes. In my view the banana bread recipe alone in Nigella’s Domestic Goddess cookbook justified the cost of the book. From when you heat the sultana’s in rum the kitchen smells amazing and it’s a great way of using bananas that are (long) past their best. I’ve never put walnuts in the cake and since it’s so soft and moist I’ve never felt like adding the walnuts (60g in case anyone reading wants to try adding them). I also don’t drain any excess alcohol that isn’t absorbed by the sultanas. I could gauge how often I make this by seeing how often I buy a new bottle of rum as this is the only thing I use rum for 🙂


  • 100g sultanas
  • 75ml bourbon or dark rum
  • 175g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted
  • 150g sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 small or 3 large, very ripe bananas (about 300g weighed without skin), mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Put the sultanas and rum or bourbon in a smallish saucepan and bring to the boil.
  2. Remove from the heat, cover and  if you can leave for an hour until the sultanas have absorbed most of the liquid.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3.
  4. Sieve flour, baking powder and bicarb (and salt if using, I never add salt to cakes) into a medium-sized bowl and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well.
  5. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas. Then, with your wooden spoon, stir in the drained sultanas and vanilla extract (and walnuts if using).
  6. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each bit.
  7. Scrape mixture into the loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-11/4 hours. (When it’s ready, an inserted toothpick or fine skewer should come out cleanish).
  8. Leave in the tin on a rack to cool.

Oat and Raisin Cookies – Rachel Allen Bake

This is the first recipe in Rachel Allen’s Bake cookbook and for a long time I didn’t get past that recipe in the book as they were so reliable and I could convince myself they were a healthy snack… They proved to be a particular favourite of Graham who put up our fence (180ft garden so he was working on the fence for quite a while)


  • 110g soft butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 110g soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2tbsp water
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g porridge oats
  • 110g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 110g raisins


  1. Cream the butter and sugars together with a wooden spoon or electric whisk until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the egg, water and vanilla.
  3. Stir in the oats, flour, salt and raisins until you have a thick and stciky dough.
  4. Roll the dough into walnut sized pieced and place onto a lined baking sheet, spaced out.
  5. Bake at 180C for 15-20mins until light golden brown but still soft.
  6. Allow to cool for a few mins and then transfer to a wire rack.

Flapjacks – Nigella Lawson Domestic Goddess

I decided I’d try a few flapjack recipes to see which we preferred. I tried a great one a few days ago but forgot which book it was from. Tried Nigella’s next and they aren’t quite right so thought I’d best make some notes before I forgot. Everything else I’ve tried from Nigella’s Domestic Goddess cookbook has turned out well so although I was surprised how little golden syrup was in the recipe I made these up exactly as instructed. They were nice but not exactly flapjacks, more like a oat cake bar that hasn’t quite stuck together. I did a bit of a search and found that it’s possible the golden syrup quantities should have been three times the quantities given in the recipe. For now I’ve copied in the quantities exactly as given in her book, I’ll retry sometime just increasing the amount of golden syrup.


  • 75g Butter
  • 175g Soft brown sugar (Demerara sugar gives a lovely toffee-like flavour)
  • 1 rounded tablespoon golden syrup
  • 250g Porridge oats
  1. Preheat oven to 150C. Lightly grease (and line) a 20cm baking tin.
  2. In a large pan, melt together the butter, sugar & syrup, while stirring. When melted, remove from the heat and stir in the porridge oats.
  3. Pour into tin and smooth the surface with a spoon. Bake for 35-40 mins or until the edges are brown and the surface has turned golden.
  4. Place the tin on a wire rack. Cut into squares after 10 minutes, but leave to cool completely before removing from the tin.