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Brown Batter Bread


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When I was growing up in Canada, weekends  would often bring Baked Bean Suppers. These would be held at Church Halls, Volunteer Fire Dept Halls and Community Centers all through the beautiful Annapolis Valley where I lived. There were not too many people who could resist the temptation of a Baked Bean Supper, cooked by all the best cooks in the community.


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Blueberry Cake with a Brown Sugar Sauce





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Do you know how much I love blueberries?   If you've been reading my blog for any time at all now, you will know it is an awful lot.   We have our own bushes in the garden . . .  a good half dozen now, and they are great producers . . .  but of course they aren't producing this time of year.  I do have quite a few frozen however, which is never a bad thing!  ☺


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Coconut Caramel Slices


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Do you love coconut as much as I do?   Buttery coconut cakes?   Macaroons?   Do you love Caramel?  As much as I do?  If you do then this is YOUR bake.  You really must bake these delicious squares.


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Rhubarb Clafoutis




Well, folks, what with having an early spring and such a lovely March, quite a bit of the rhubarb in our garden is ready to begin harvesting now. Not bundles and bundles of it, but enough for me to indulge in a few rhubarb treats.





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Pot Roasted Pork Loin with Leeks


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If you are looking for something a little bit special for the weekend, or maybe even for Easter (albeit not a traditional Easter Roast) look no further.  This Pot Roasted Pork Loin will fit the bill perfectly.   Simple enough that just about anyone will be able to easily throw it together, and yet at the same time special enough that people will think you put a whole lot of effort into it.  Nobody would guess that you hadn't spent all day in kitchen!

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Put some fruit and sunshine into your life with Florida Grapefruits!


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I have a confession to make.  I love Grapefruit.  No . . .  I ADORE Grapefruit!  Especially pink grapefruit.  I love tinned grapefruit and grapefruit juice . . .  but most of all I love fresh grapefruit.   When I was a girl, it was considered very classy to serve broiled grapefruits with a cherry on top.   The very height of sophistication!  (Double confession . . .  I still like it done this way!)

Did you know that 79% of women in the UK blame rain and cold weather for making them feel unproductive?   It doesn't help that only 39% of these women eat their daily allowance of fruit in the winter!   I know it's officially Spring now, but that doesn't mean that eating fruit, and especially Florida Grapefruits!  Yum!

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Maple Baked Butterbeans


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I can remember visiting a Great Aunt when I was a girl with my family and she served baked beans for dinner one night while we were there.   I can still remember the wonderful smell wafting throughout her kitchen for most of the day and the anticipation of what was to come . . .  and the disappointment when my plate was set in front of me.   These weren't baked beans like my  mother made.  My mother always used the small white haricots beans for baking . . .  and my Great Aunt had used Jacob's Cattle Beans.  As soon as my brother, sister and I saw them we made up our minds that we weren't going to like them.  You know what kids are like . . . I am sure my mother was terribly embarassed.

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Vanilla Table . . . Two Tone Chocolate Malt Cake


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I was recently sent the most exquisite cookery book for review.  Entitled Vanilla Table, and written by Natasha MacAller, it is a culinary celebration of all things vanilla.  Containing 100 recipes it boasts contributions from some of the elite of International Award Winning Chefs . . .  including the UK's Yotam Ottolenghi, Peter Gordon, William Curley and Galton Blackiston!

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You would think that a book based solely on vanilla flavours would be somewhat limiting, but with a forward written by Peter Gordon, Natasha MacAller and her friends have  proved that Vanilla is indeed a very versatile ingredient in no less than 9 different chapters covering everything from soup to nuts.

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Vanilla is an essential ingredient in my kitchen.   I have beans, paste and extract which I use on a regular basis for my baking and desserts.  I find it is very easy to use, it gives everything a lift and my cakes always taste and smell delicious.    I have also used it in savory dishes . . .  my Pot Roasted Chicken with Raspberry Cider is just one example of how I have done this, but it has been really nice to see just how far you really can go with it via the wide variety of recipes contained in this book.

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The photography, by Manja Wachsmuth is just beautiful, and you will find that most of the recipes are accompanied with a very tempting photograph.  I love cookery books with photos.  It's nice to be able to envision what the finished dish should look like.

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I was particularly intrigued with the Vanilla Pantry Chapter which shows you how to make your own Vanilla Sugars, Salts, Extracts, Syrups, Oils, etc.  I will be making more than a few of these for sure.

Another bonus is that all of the recipes are presented in North American, Metric and Avoirdupois measures, which means that this book can be used with ease just about anywhere in the world.   This is a real bonus.  There is also a really good source list at the back of the book.

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I would stress however that this is not a book which a beginning cook would be able to use with ease.  Many of the recipes are what I would consider of a quality restaurant calibre . . .  ie. "Cheffy Recipes," but . . . on the plus side,  each recipe is well laid out with a paragraph about the story behind the recipe, a table showing the ingredients as well as clear and concise instructions. The photography truly is  outstanding and quite helpful in creating an understanding of  how the dish should look as well as tempting your taste buds.

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NATASHA MACALLER is known worldwide as the “Dancing Chef”. A former professional ballerina, after thirty years of performing with companies such as New York’s Joffrey Ballet, the Boston Ballet and on the stages of Broadway, she decided to move on to what she considered another performing art: cookery. She used her seasonal layoffs from ballet to become a professional cook and eventually set up her own catering business, Dancing Chef Catering, which served TV, theatre, film and food industry folks. In 1996, after graduating number one in her class from The Colorado Culinary Institute, Natasha went from strength to strength, and she now holds her own culinary classes and has become an international chef consultant.

I normally like to share a recipe from the book I am reviewing with my readers and the one I have chosen to share with you from this book is a delicious cake.  Two Tone Chocolate Malt Cake.  I chose this one because it is a recipe I think most of you could make.  The buttercream is a tad bit fiddly, but quite do-able and the cake itself is very straightforward.   It's also quite beautiful.

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*Two-Tone Chocolate Malt Cake*
Makes one double layer cake

A delicious double layer chocolate cake flavoured with malt powder and sporting a delicious white chocolate buttercream icing. 

For the cake:
400g of plain flour (3 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp fine sea salt
225g of white sugar (1 1/4 cups)
475ml filtered water (2 cups)
60g unsweetened cocoa powder (2/3 cup)
70g chocolate malt powder (eg Ovaltine, Milo or Horlicks, 1/2 cup)
150ml vegetable oil (1/2 cup plus 2 TBS)
1 TBS pure vanilla extract
2 TBS white balsamic vinear or strained lemon juice 

For the Buttercream:
170g white chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled (1 1/3 cup)
(Use a good quality white chocolate that's not overly sweet such as Lindt, El Rey, E. Guittard or Valhrona)
225g of white suar (1 1/4 cup)
4 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
225g of unsalted butter, softened and cut into small cubes (1 cup) 

To assemble:
150g of chocolate covered malt balls (1 1/2 cups) 

Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/gas mark 3.   Butter two 9 inch cake tins.  Press 2 circles of baking paper inside each pan, then turn over so that the buttered side of paper is up.   Dust lightly with cocoa powder.  Set aside. 

Sift together the flour, soda, salt and sugar.  In a small saucepan, heat the water to a simmer.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and chocolate malt powder until smooth.   Set aside to cool.   

Whisk together the oil, vanilla and vinegar in a bowl.   Whisk the cocoa mixture into this until smooth.   Add to the dry imxture, stirring until smooth.  Divide evenly into cake tins.  Tap sides of pans against the edge of the counter, or drop from waist height onto a towel covered counter to pop air bubbles.  Swirl a skewer through the batter to pop any remaining bubbles.  Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Tip out onto a wire rack to cool completely before proceeding. 

To make the buttercream, place the sugar in a clean, heavy bottomed saucepan.  Add just enough water to create a "wet sand" consistency.  Bring to a simmer and simultaneously begin whipping the egg whites in a stand mixer with the whip attachment or with a hand held mixer on low speed.  When whites froth, sprinkle in cream of tartar and whip to just soft peaks.  Continue cooking the sugar until it reaches the soft ball stage. (118*-120*C/235*-240*F.) 

Slowly stream sugar syrup into whites, pouring down inside of the bowl, to avoid beaters, while whipping on low speed.  Turn to high and whip until white and glossy, and the outside of the bowl when touched is lukewarm, not hot.   When it is, turn to low and add cubes of butter a little bit at a time, alternating with the melted white chocolate.  When butter and chocolate are in, turn the speed back to high.   It may look like it is separating, but keep whipping and it will come back. 

Place one cooled cake layer in the centre of a cake plate.  Spread a layer of buttercream on top all the way to edges.  Place the second cake layer on top, then frost top and sides with the remaining buttercream.  Cut malt balls into random shapes.  Just before slicing, take one handful of malt balls at a time and press into the sides of the cake until completely covered.  Cut into wedges to serve.

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 A sampling of some of the recipes in the book which caught my eye and that I want to try:

Starters: Shaved Fennel and KeriKeri Orange Salad, Caramelised Orange Salad, Pate au Poulet with Tipsy Cherries and Heirloom Tomato Bisque.

Main Plates: Slow Roasted Oxtail Pot Pies, Vanilla Lacquer Duck Leg, Seared Scallops with Vanilla Parsnip Puree, Chicken Stroganoff with Chanterelles and Vanilla.

Blue Plates and Brunch Plates: Coronation Chicken on Squashy Poppyseed Buns, Crunchy Cornflake Fried Chicken and Apricot, Almond and Vanilla Clafoutis.

Sharing Plates:  Island Crab cakes with vanilla-grapefruit remoulade,  The Tonga Trifle, Devilish Eggs with vanilla candied bacon and Saturn Peach, Onion and Blue Cheese Pie.

Dessert Plates: Vanilla Spiced Pineapple Roast, Quince Tarte Tatin, Raspberry Meringue Martinis, Creamy Butterscotch Pudding with Tash's English Toffee and The Anna Pavlova.

Cake Plates: Pure Vanilla Layer Cake, Caramelised Pineapple Carrot Cake, Two-Tone Chocolate Malt Cake and Bittersweet Chocolate Torte.

The Cookie Plate: Chocolate Sticky Bits, Espresso Brownie Bites, Gold Ingots, Cranberry Tweed Cardigans and Black Pepper Chai Truffles.

Bevvies and Bar Snacks: Toasty Coconut Chips and Nuts, Vanilla Passion Martini, Pink Ginger Zinger, Carrot Vanilla Gougeres.

Vanilla Pantry: Vanilla Sugar, Vanilla Salt Flakes, Vanilla Extract, Vanilla Aioli, Raspberry Vanilla Vinegar and Scooter Pastry Cases/Pie Shells.

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Personally I think it is a beautiful book.   Well written and laid out.  Beautiful photos.   Well written recipes.  Easy to follow for the confident cook.

Vanilla Table, the essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs
by Nasasha MacAller
Photography by  Manja Wachsmuth
Published by Jacqui Small LLP
ISBN 978-1-909342-86-6
£25.00 UK/ $40.00 US/ $43.99 CAN

*Special Reader offer 
To order Vanilla Table at the discounted price of £20 including p&p* (RRP: £25), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG301.
*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.
Vanilla Table officially releases on 19th March

Many thanks to Jacqui Small for sending me a complimentary copy for review.  Any and all opinions are my own.
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Mile High Buttermilk Biscuits


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I am a lover of quick breads  . . .  scones, tea loaves, baking powder biscuits, muffins, corn bread, etc.  I just love them.  One of the reasons I love them is because they are quick to put together and they freeze really well.   If you are making a pot of soup, it really isn't much extra work to put together a savoury muffin or quick bread to go along with it, and they realy turn a simple meal into something very special.

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Sweet and Salty Easter Bark


Sweet and Salty Easter Bark

It's hard to believe that Easter is just two weeks away.   This year just seems to be evaporating. 

 I thought over these next few days I would share a few Easter Treats with you that your family will enjoy over the holidays.  First up is this delicious Easter Bark!




Sweet and Salty Easter Bark

Not only is it delicious and pretty to look at, but it's very easy to do.   And  . . .  you only need a microwave in order to make it.  

You could of course also do the chocolate melting on top of the stove, but do be careful not to burn the chocolate and only melt it over either simmering water (don't let the water touch the bottom of the bowl) or a very, very low heat.

Sweet and Salty Easter Bark

You could use jelly beans if you wished, but I like to use those little candy covered milk chocolate  Easter eggs . . you know the ones I mean. 

 They are coloured and speckled and kind of look like psychedelic robin's eggs.



Sweet and Salty Easter Bark

I love the delicious mix of salty and sweet . . .  creamy and crunchy . . .

Sweet and Salty Easter Bark

I like to add more eggs to the top after I spread it out . . . just to add some additional scrum, and of course a few more broken pretzels.

Sweet and Salty Easter Bark

I'm a big fan of the salty/sweet thing. I know . . . and as Dorcas Lane would say . . . 

it's my only weakness. ☺

Sweet and Salty Easter Bark

*Easter Bark*
Makes about 1 pound
Printable Recipe

Sweetly scrummy. Easy and quick to make too! I like to add broken pretzels to mine. It's that sweet/salty thing!

12 ounces (weight) of white chocolate chips or candy melts (2 cups)
2 tsp white vegetable shortening
2 (100g) bags of small candy covered chocolate easter eggs such as the Cadbury's ones (about 1 heaped cupful)
a good handful of small pretzel hoops, broken (optional)


Sweet and Salty Easter Bark



Have a baking sheet lined with parchment paper ready. Spray the paper lightly with non cooking spray. Set aside.

Place the white chocolate and vegetable shortening into a medium sized microwaveable bowl. Blitz on the 80% setting (medium high) for about 1 minute. Stir. If the chocolate still doesn't melt, blitz at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Give one packet of the candy eggs a good bash with the bottom of a jar or a rolling pin. You want them broken up coarsely.

Stir the broken candy and pretzels (if using) into the melted chocolate. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out thinly. Sprinkle with the remaining pack of chocolate eggs. Allow to set until firm. Once firm, break into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Note: You don't have to use the chocolate eggs. You can also use jelly beans, or coloured smarties if you would rather. 

Sweet and Salty Easter Bark 

This content (written and photography) is the sole property of The English Kitchen. Any reposting or misuse is not permitted. If you are reading this elsewhere, please know that it is stolen content and you may report it to me at: mariealicejoan at aol dot com Thanks so much for visiting. Do come again! 

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Elizabeth's Lemon Meringue Pie


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I had not baked a pie in a very long time.   It was different when I had a large family to feed . . . I often baked pies and tarts then, but with there only being two of us now, I don't often bake pies and tarts because I love them so very much and they are far too tempting for me.   I can't control my appetite when it comes to pie!  And my favourite pie of all has to be  . . . yep, you guessed it, Lemon Meringue!

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Chocolate Sheet Cake


Chocolate Sheet Cake

This recipe has been floating around for years.   Chocolate Sheet Cake.  Texas Sheet Cake, etc.  

Call it what you will, it is all the same cake.  Like they say, there is nothing new under the sun, just new ways of doing things.

 Chocolate Sheet Cake

This particular recipe was adapted from a book I have entitled "The Best of Cooking Light."  

I don't always eat hedonistically and from time to time I like to shave calories off if I can, or try a lighter version of a recipe.

Chocolate Sheet Cake

This recipe differed a bit from the usual choclate sheet cake I make .  .  . first it has buttermilk in the batter, which usually makes for a really moist cake . . .  second it is put together rather differently.  

You boil milk, cocoa and butter together and then beat that into the dry ingredients . . .  then beat in the buttermilk and eggs.

Chocolate Sheet Cake

The icing is also a tiny bit different.  

I found it all to be very sweet, which is not entirely a bad thing . . .  it means you can't eat as large a piece, which is probably good.

Chocolate Sheet Cake

It's also very dense . . .  I don't remember my regular recipe ending up quite as dense as this one is . . .  but it was quite pleasant to eat nonetheless.  

For a cake that is lower in fat and calories, it was not half bad at all.  Mind you it does say that it makes 20 servings.  

Hmmm . . . I think not.  At least not in my house at any rate!

Chocolate Sheet Cake


*Chocolate Sheet Cake*
Makes 20 servings

Dense and chocolatey.   I have adapted this recipe from one I found in a Cooking Light Book entitled"The Best Of Cooking Light." 

For the cake:
2 tsp plain flour
280g of plain flour (2 cups)
383g of granulated sugar (2 cups)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda_
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
180ml of water (3/4 cup)
125g of butter (1/2 cup)
30g of cocoa powder, sifted (1/4 cup)
120ml of low fat buttermilk (1/2 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large free range eggs 

For the icing:
6 TBS butter
78ml of skim milk (1/3 cup)
30g of cocoa powder, sifted (1/4 cup)
390g of icing sugar, sifted ( confectioners sugar, 3 cups)
2 tsp vanilla extract
30g of chopped pecans, toasted (1/4 cup)


Chocolate Sheet Cake

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5.  Spray a 15 by 10 inch baking tray with sides with some cooking spray.  (cake release spray)  Dust with the 2 tsp flour.   Set aside.


Sift the flour into a bowl along with the cinnamon and soda.   Whisk in the salt and sugar.   Bring the water, butter and cocoa powder to the boil, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and pout into the flour mixture.  Beat with an electric whisk until smooth.   Beat i nthe eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.  Pour this batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for about 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly touched.


 Chocolate Sheet Cake

To make the icing, combine the butter, milk and cocoa powder in a saucepan.  Bring to the boil stirring constantly.   Remove from the heat and beat in the icing sugar, vanilla and pecans.   Spread over the hot cake.  Cool completely before cutting into squares to serve.


Note - You may also bake this in a 12 by 9 inch baking pan  In crease the baking time to 22 minutes.  


Chocolate Sheet Cake

This content (written and photography) is the sole property of The English Kitchen. Any reposting or misuse is not permitted. If you are reading this elsewhere, please know that it is stolen content and you may report it to me at mariealicejoan at aol dot com. 

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Grains as Mains


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I was recently sent this cutting edge cookery book on grains to review.  Entitled Grains as Mains and written by Laura Agar Wilson, it  features a comprehensive collection of modern recipes using ancient grains.

Ancient grains first cooked thousands of years ago are now back in vogue, as more and more people become more health conscious and actively seek out food that is nourishing as well as being delicious.
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Tropical Grilled Chicken with a Pineapple Salsa


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I was really wanting something light today.   We eat chicken a lot in our house. We only ever very rarely have another form of protein.   Pork or beef are a rare treat.  Eating chicken as often as we do, it can be somewhat of a challenge to keep it interesting.  Chicken breasts are so very adaptable and mild in flavour.  They make a pretty decent canvas for other flavours.

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Monique's Cake


Monique's Cake

I like to think that one of the most wonderful things about blogging is the fabulous people you meet via this medium.   Like minded people . . .  good people . . . invisible friends.  

One of my favourite fabulous blogger invisible like minded friends is Monique from La Table De Nana.   I think we have belonged to a mutual admiration society for at least five or six years now.  

You know how it goes . . .  you follow a link, to a link, to a link . . .  and before you know it you have discovered something very special and hearts and souls touch and it is as if you have always known these people.  

You become kindred spirit friends and you share things like e-mails, and snail mails, and . . .  little pretties . . .  and sometimes cakes.

Monique's Cake

As soon as I saw this cake on Monique's page the other day I knew I HAD to make it.     Not only was it a really simple cake to make, but it was filled with Quebecoise sucre à la crème. 

 Unless you have experienced this delight, you won't know what I am talking about.  It's like a thick brown sugar caramel sauce that they love to eat in the Province of Quebec, and I am thinking it is even more prevalent in the Northern part of the province . . . but I could be wrong.

Monique's Cake

My father . . . mon pere, is from the Saguenay region of Quebec and I have very fond memories of visits to his home and sitting around my grandmaman's kitchen table eating flaky pastries dolloped with  sucre à la crème and a thick thick spooning cream.  

The combination is the most delicious one on earth . . .  trust me on this.  Not so good for the heart or the waistline, but oh so good for the soul.

Monique's Cake

As soon as I saw Moniques Cake  (and her's is much, MUCH prettier than mine) . . .  I knew I had to have it and so within just a couple of days I had one made.  In my eagerness I did managed to crack the cake a bit, but it still tasted heavenly.  

I am sure she will forgive me for showing and sharing with you.   This is one of those things you can't help sharing.   

Do pop on over and tell her I sent you and thank her for this latest indulgence . . .  because you know you are going to make it.  It would be tres impossible to resist!  C'est vraie!

 Monique's Cake

*Moniques Cake*
Makes one cake roll

This is a recipe I got on my friend Monique's page (http:latabledenana.blogspot.com)  Converting it into British measurements for you all.  It's a delicious sponge roll cake filled with Quebecoise sucre à la crème.  Fabulous! 

For the cake roll:
4 large free range eggs
200g plus 2 TBS sugar (1 cup, plus 2 TBS)
140g of plain flour (1 cup)
1 tsp baking powder
icing sugar 

For the filling:
210g of soft light brown sugar (1 cup packed)
115g of butter (1/2 cup)
60ml of milk (1/4 cup)  

Monique's Cake 

Butter a 15 by 17 inch jelly roll pan.  Line the bottom with baking paper.  Butter the paper.  Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. 


Beat the eggs and 200g (1 cup) sugar together in a bowl until the mixture is thick and pale.  Sift the flour and baking powder together.   Blend this into the beaten egg/sugar mixture to combine well.  Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes.  (It took mine more like 12 or so minutes.)  You want the cake to be set and golden brown. 

Have ready a large clean tea towel that you have   sprinkled with the 2TBS of sugar.  Unmold the warm cake onto this dishtowel.  Pull off any paper.  Roll up, along with the towel.  Allow to cool completely. 

Bring the ingredients for the filling to the boil in a heavy based saucepan.   Boil for exactly one minute without stirring.   Remove from the heat and beat with an electric whisk until the mixture begins to thicken.    Unroll the cake.  Trim off the edges  and then spread with the warm Sucre a la creme.  Reroll to enclose the filling (without the tea towel.)  Place onto a serving plate and sift icing sugar over top.   Cut into slices to serve. 

Monique's Cake

This content (written and photography) is the sole property of The English Kitchen. Any reposting or misuse is not permitted. If you are reading this elsewhere, please know that it is stolen content and you may report it to me at mariealicejoan at aol dot com. 

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Seasoned Rice Pilaf


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Rice wasn't something we ate a lot of when I was growing up.  My brother wouldn't eat it at all, my mother didn't like it either and when she did cook it, it was always minute rice, which is a sort of instant rice product they have in North America.  Not exactly nutritionally sound    . . . but we did not know that then.  She always made it taste good when she did make it.  She would chop up celery and onion and add some herbs . . .  usually oregano.  That was her favourite add in . . .

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Wholemeal Wreath Loaf


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I was recently sent a lovely Hamper from the people at Baking Mad and challenged to bake myself a loaf of bread!  I have a real fear of baking with yeast.  Most of the time (even when I use the bread machine) my bread turns out lousy!  I kid you not!  My ex husband was a beautiful bread baker.  He baked all of our bread when he was home.  It was lovely.   Me . . .  I have always only ever made great door stops.

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