Genuinely healthy brownies


Jon’s got a thing about mustard seeds at the moment. It’s getting really weird in our house now – they are cropping up in EVERYTHING. The effect ranges from the totally pointless – mustard seeds on popcorn (they don’t stick), to the frankly bizarre – mustard seeds in challah (you can’t really taste them but they look weird). There are mustard seeds in my rice, in my mashed potato, on my fish, really in anything where he is given the freedom to express himself through the spice cupboard. Perhaps when he reads this he’ll think again about how odd it is, but right now he just can’t think of any food that isn’t improved by the addition of mustard seeds.

Fortunately, he wasn’t in charge of planning the food for Joe’s second birthday party. He was a fantastic cake decorator – post coming soon on the birthday cake – but he didn’t decide on the recipes for the other food at the party, which all therefore remained mustard seed free. It’s a good thing too, because Joe isn’t shy about telling us what he thinks of our food. Joe saw the brownies I made here, uniced, in the kitchen a few hours before his birthday tea and asked for one. I gave him one, then another, and then another – they were a huge success. When we sat down to tea he was very excited to see them again with coloured icing to look like lego, and he asked for one in every colour. I’d especially made a creamcheese icing with minimal sugar which I had imagined he would like, since he likes creamcheese and it would be sweeter than normal, but he put it in his mouth and then spat it out with a look of disgust. “It’s not very tasty,” he explained with a serious face, not in a complaining way, just wanting me to understand why he’d been forced to expel it from his mouth. Luckily, with the icing then scraped off, they turned out to be just as “super yummy” as the brownies he had earlier.

From my point of view, the only problem with these brownies is that they aren’t chocolate. I know, if they’re not chocolate then they’re not brownies. But “blondies” sounds stupid and anyway, they are brown, not blonde. They are also vegan and sugar-free, and so I don’t expect you to believe me when I say that they are delicious, but they genuinely are, and they are perfect for babies and anyone else in your life with weird dietary requirements.

I found the recipe online here when searching for a brownie-type thing to use as the base of the lego cakes I wanted to make for the birthday tea. Since I was planning to make him a hugely elaborate birthday cake (which I couldn’t do in a sugar-free, healthy version), I wanted to make one cake thing that I would actually be happy for him to eat, and I thought these seemed perfect.

Makes around 20 mini brownies

  • 150g plain flour
  • 225g whole dates
  • 1 ripe banana (the riper the better)
  • 1 large tablespoon of peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1 tablespoon of applesauce (you can make this amount from 1 apple)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinammon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Prepare a baking tin of around 8×8 inches – grease it and line it, or use a silicon one where you don’t have to do any of that.
  2. Take the stones out of the dates and put them in a bowl of hot water for at least 15 minutes to soak.
  3. Put the dates with two or three tablespoons of the soaking water into a food processor and blend to make a paste.
  4. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, and then add the applesauce, peanut butter and vanilla extract.
  5. Mash the banana, either by hand or in the food processor after you have removed the date paste.
  6. Combine the dates and banana with the rest of the mix.
  7. Put the mix into the tin, and bake on your usual oven baking temperature for about 40 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean.

As Joe told us, these brownies are good on their own. However, if you want to make the coloured creamcheese icing to turn these into lego cakes, then I used the recipe below, and coloured the icing using Wiltons Gel Colours (gel colours give a much stronger, brighter colour than liquid colouring and a tiny bit goes a long way). I then put smarties on the top to look like the bobbly bits on lego. This was actually really annoying, because I bought 4 tubes of smarties, imagining that this would easily provide enough of the right colours, and it really didn’t. Plus, since I was a child, the colouring in smarties has obviously got more natural and vegetable-based, which is a good thing for parents of hyper children, but means that the colours are much blander than I remember.

  • 200g Philadelphia or similar creamcheese
  • 70g butter
  • 100g icing sugar (the recipe actually called for 400g, but I was doing a low sugar version!)
  1. The butter needs to be softened and not fridge-hard when you start. The creamcheese should be in the fridge until needed.
  2. Cream the butter with an electric mixer until it has a whipped consistency. Beat in the cheese, but be careful not to overbeat, as the cheese can start to re-liquefy if you do.
  3. Sift the icing sugar and beat it in gradually.
  4. Put a small amount into another bowl and add a tiny bit of colouring (as in, the size of a mustard seed to start with, and then you can always add more as needed). Mix it in with a spoon and spread it onto your brownies.
  5. If you are doing lots of different colours, it’s easiest to do all of one colour, then wash up that small bowl and start again with another colour.
  6. Put the smarties on top and refridgerate until serving.

*Approximate nutritional values (1 brownie, no icing)*

  • Calories – 80.2 kcal
  • Carbs – 28.3g
  • Fat – 0.9g
  • Protein – 1.5g
  • Sodium – 11.4mg
  • Sugar – 9.1g

*Approximate nutritional values (1 brownie, with icing and smarties)*

  • Calories – 136.8 kcal
  • Carbs – 34.6g
  • Fat – 4.1g
  • Protein – 2g
  • Sodium – 23mg
  • Sugar – 11.8g



Cranberry Sauce Muffins



I love Christmas. I don’t celebrate it at all, which seems to be the key to why I love it so much. I love Christmas music in shops, I love the lights, the sparkly trees, and most of all I love Christmas Cheer, an ephemeral concept that means people who would normally shove you out of the way to get nearer to the front of the ridiculously long queue in Waitrose on Christmas Eve say, “no don’t worry, you were there first.” When I was younger I felt a little aggrieved that Christmas seemed to be like another, even better birthday (in terms of the presents), but I now feel genuinely sorry for everyone who has to actually go Christmas shopping, buy a million presents for a million people you rarely see, and then suffer through a lunch (which seems to start at about 4pm – why?) consisting of things like turkey and brussels sprouts.

Ah, the brussels sprouts. When I talked about broccoli on here before, I felt the need to explain, using one of my favourite lines from The Simpsons, why broccoli is not fit to be eaten. I don’t think I need to do that with brussels sprouts. I don’t think anyone takes them seriously as a food. The smell, for one thing! Of course, Jon claims to love them. I think he is only saying it to annoy me because I genuinely cannot believe that it is possible to love them. For that reason, I don’t feel bad at all that I have banned them from the house, and he obviously doesn’t love them that much because he has accepted the ban, with the caveat that he should be allowed them once a year. Because it is the season of goodwill, I have allowed that one time to be at Christmas. Not specifically on Christmas day, because we don’t do anything particular on Christmas day (this year, for example, we had pasta pesto for lunch and then seabass with lebanese spinach rice for supper and brussels sprouts would have been a horrific interruption to either of those), but at some point over the Christmas period.

So this year, the dreaded sprouts came out on Christmas eve, when we had some friends over for dinner. I also made roast chicken, and then since there was a roast and some sprouts it began to feel a lot like a Christmas dinner, so I thought, why not make cranberry sauce? I realise that cranberry sauce is primarily designed for turkey, and the reason for that is that turkey is generally dry and tasteless and needs sauces and relishes to make it taste better. Roast chicken does not, but I’ve never made cranberry sauce and it looked easy and nice, so I thought I would try it.

It was both easy and nice, but the quantities (I used this Delia recipe) weren’t quite right (i.e. there was loads), or perhaps because there wasn’t any turkey, people didn’t have as much of it. The result was that we were left with a lot of cranberry sauce and, after finishing up the leftover roast chicken, nothing to do with it.

And so I made muffins. Muffins are like the puttanesca of baking – you can just chuck anything in and they will usually work out well. In my head these are also known as “Breakfast Muffins” because they contain oats and it is well known that if you prefix something with “breakfast” then it instantly becomes healthier.

This made 26 muffins, which I baked without paper cases in muffin trays (muffins seem to do better without cases, as they can become soggy with the paper. Just grease the trays well beforehand).

  • Approx 24 fl oz cranberry sauce (3 American cups)
  • 6 fl oz maple syrup/agave nectar/sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 5.5 fl oz (2/3 of a cup) vegetable oil
  • 8 fl oz (1 cup) water or milk
  • 12oz plain flour
  • 6oz rolled oats
  • 1 teasp cinnamon
  • 1 teasp salt
  • 1 teasp bicarb of soda
  • 2 teasp baking powder
  1. Beat the wet ingredients (cranberry sauce, eggs, oil, water/milk and the maple syrup/agave syrup if using. I used half and half maple syrup and agave syrup and no sugar).
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together, and then beat into the wet ingredients, but do not overbeat.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a fork in the centre comes out clean.

*Approximate nutritional values (1 muffin)*

  • Calories: 164 kcal
  • Carbs: 24g
  • Fat: 6.7g
  • Protein: 2.6g
  • Sugar: 9.3g
  • Sodium: 74mg

*Baby-friendly version*

Muffins are excellent for babies, even those just starting out with food, because they are easy to hold and eat. Also, you can call them cakes and then they get very excited that they are having cake, even though the cake they’ve got has no sugar and little taste and is a very poor imitation of what they will later know as cake. However, cranberry sauce has a lot of sugar in it and you can’t do much about that because cranberries on their own are so bitter. If you’re OK with your baby having some sugar then these muffins will be very popular, but otherwise, cranberry sauce muffins are not really for your baby.

Carrot, apple and blueberry muffins

Everyone where I live has a Bugaboo. And if they don’t have a Bugaboo, then there’s a good reason why, such as they don’t have a baby, or, more likely, they’ve made a very thoroughly researched decision as to why another buggy is better – the City Mini (“the amazing fold!”) is also quite popular, as are iCandies (“I wanted to support a British company”) and Maclarens (“simple, sturdy, effective”). (My buggy is obviously better than all of these – the Uppababy: upgraded, cheaper Bugaboo, with HUGE basket). But no one just went to Argos and picked up a buggy for £29.99. Not for our babies.

That’s because this is a pretentious neighbourhood with lots of neurotic but style-conscious parents who buy all of this top-of-the-range, probably mostly unnecessary baby stuff.  The plus side, if you’re writing a blog and you need material, is that if you hang around these parents, you hear some funny and cringeworthy things. A few months before Joe was born I was in a local, very expensive baby shop buying a present for a friend, and a couple came in with their baby and asked the shop assistant for “a developmental toy for our very bright 8 month old. He’s already bored with the toys he’s got and keeps throwing them out the buggy. What new developmental toys can you recommend?” Even the shop assistant, who must hear this kind of stuff all the time, looked a bit baffled, but then she realised that these customers were easy marks and she started throwing toys at them (the dad then thrust each toy in turn in front of his son’s face, and then decided whether to buy it based on the reaction he got. Tears meant “this toy is a bit babyish for him”, but a tongue poking out or a grabbing hand meant it was stimulating enough that it went into the shopping basket.)

But a couple of weeks ago, I was out with Jon and Joe for coffee in Primrose Hill, and I heard myself say, “No Joe, please take your fingers out of mummy’s cappuccino, you’ve got your own cappuccino right there.” Cringe. Even worse, a couple walked past as I said it and looked at me with the same unbelieving sneer I gave to the development toy people. Joe didn’t have his own cappuccino, by the way. I’m not crazy. He had his own babyccino, and if you don’t know what that is, well, I’m not sure you should even be reading this blog.

Anyway, the point of all of this was simply to say that there’s lots of things I didn’t imagine myself saying or doing before I became a parent (and it’s not just me: this morning I heard Jon say, “Joe, if you don’t touch daddy’s wee then you can flush the toilet afterwards.”)

Another thing is the constant the singing of annoying children’s rhymes. Not to Joe – we do that of course, but it doesn’t stop when he goes to bed or we go to work. We leave the house to the tune of “Wind the Bobbins” and “The Wheels on the Bus” and, most recently it has been “The Muffin Man”. I know that seems like a really a tenuous link to for a recipe for muffins but it actually isn’t – singing “The Muffin Man” as I sat at my desk (it’s OK, I have my own office) was what prompted me to send Jon my shopping list for the muffin ingredients I didn’t have.

I invented these muffins shortly after Joe started eating real food. They make an excellent, healthy snack and we always have a bag of these in the freezer, as they freeze well and can be restored by putting them in the oven for about 15 minutes, or just leaving to defrost (the oven makes them taste fresher, though). They would also make a tasty, healthy snack for adults and older children.

Makes about 24 mini muffins or fairy cakes

  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml sunflower/canola/rapeseed oil
  • 8 oz self raising flour
  • 2 oz porridge oats
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 eating apples
  • Approx 4 oz blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  1. Grate the apple and carrot or use a food processor to finely grate them.
  2. Put all ingredients into a bowl, mix with a wooden spoon.
  3. Spoon into muffin tins or fairy cake cases Cook on 160c fan, or 180c normal for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

*Approximate nutritional values (1 muffin)*

  • Calories: 95 kcal
  • Carbs: 10.9g
  • Fat: 4.9g
  • Protein: 1.8g
  • Sugar: 2.3g
  • Sodium: 9.5mg

Zebra cake

I’m not good at art. I can’t draw and I don’t reliably colour inside the lines because I’m just a bit too slapdash: I’m not careful and (this is the main problem) I find it hard to care enough about it. I’m really just a 95% person. Maybe even 85%. My favourite type of creative thing is something that looks really good but is really easy to achieve, or at least doesn’t require 100% perfect input. For example, the hat I made a couple of years ago as a birthday treat.

I know it was my birthday more than a week ago, so that is practically ancient history, but in the spirit of one of my friends, who doesn’t just have a birthDAY, she has a birthday WEEK, with celebrations designed to drag the event out for as long as possible, I think I can still talk about birthday events. Some years I end up not doing that much for my birthday and I feel like it goes by with barely a flicker. But this year, I managed to extend the celebrations for a bit longer and went out for a lovely dinner with my family and to a special surprise treat evening out with Jon this week too. And a couple of years ago I extended my birthday events even longer, as Jon bought me a day of hat-making which I did nearly 6 months later.

I love hats! Maybe not as much as Dannii, but I love them nonetheless. I particularly love cloche hats because they make me feel like I’m in the House of Eliot (WHY don’t they bring that programme back?) and are just generally cool and beautiful. Anyway, I had a lovely day in an atelier in Soho with a milliner and one other student, and I made a cloche hat from beginning to end – cutting the fabric, blocking it (I found out that I have a smaller than average head, so I had to make it smaller after blocking it too, which is extra skilled), steaming it, and then decorating it. The finished article actually looks really good and I don’t think you would think I made it. This is largely because the milliner “helped” with all the hard parts, but I did do quite a lot of it, and, crucially, I chose to keep the design as simple as possible so that there was less to ruin.

With food (oh yes, that’s what this blog is about) I always want to present things nicely, but it never quite happens because once I’ve made it I can’t be bothered anymore, I just want to eat it and I hope that it will taste good enough that no one will care what it looks like. But I also know that even I think that something that looks amazing tastes better.

With all that in mind, when I saw this cake in a magazine I thought “I’ll never be able to make it look like that” but the instructions did sound quite simple so I decided to give it a try, in case it turned out to be one of those things that makes people go “wow!” but was actually really easy to do. And it was – what a find! This is the cake to make if you have people coming for tea, or you want to take a cake into work and you want people to think you’re really talented and creative (but of course NOT the cake to take to work if you are worried that people might not think you’re busy enough) and you don’t have an electric mixer, because you really don’t need one. I will add though, that the process of putting the cake into the tin took me about 20 minutes, so bear that in mind as you prepare. While it is not baby-friendly, I think that children would really enjoy making this.

Zebra Cake (looks like, not made of) from Lorraine Pascale

  • 250ml sunflower (or other flavourless) oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 100ml water or milk
  • 4 medium eggs (at room temperature)
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1 orange
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Grease the bottom of a 24cm sandwich tin with a little oil, line with baking parchment and oil again. Set to one side on a large baking sheet.
  2. Take two mixing bowls. Put half of the oil, sugar, milk/water, eggs and vanilla extract into each bowl and beat everything together well. It is best not to use an electric whisk as it will introduce too many bubbles.
  3. Sift 175g self-raising flour into one bowl, along with ½ tsp baking powder. Mix well and set aside. This is your vanilla mix.
  4. Sift the remaining 125g self-raising flour and ½ tsp baking powder into another bowl, along with the cocoa powder. Finely grate the orange zest in, mix everything together well and 
set to one side. This is your chocolate mix.
  5. Now, put 1 tbsp of the vanilla mix in the middle of the tin. Then, using a clean tablespoon, put a blob of the chocolate mix 
in the middle of the vanilla one. Keep doing this, alternating between vanilla and chocolate, 
so you form a type of “bull’s eye” or “target board” look. Each time you dollop a blob in, the whole mix will spread out on the base. By the time you have used up both the cake mixes, they should have just reached the edge of 
 the tin.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 
35 minutes. Check the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer 
into the centre – it should come out clean. If not, return the cake to the oven for another 5 minutes or so, until cooked. Once the 
cake is ready, remove it from 
the oven and allow to cool for 
a few minutes in the tin. Then carefully remove from the tin 
and leave to cool completely on 
a wire rack (but it is also fine to eat it warm).

There’s no baby friendly version as there’s really no alternative for the amount of sugar this contains. I will do a more baby appropriate recipe next time, I promise!

*Approximate nutritional values (1 medium slice)*

  • Calories: 282kcal
  • Carbs: 29g
  • Fat: 16.2g
  • Protein: 3.8g
  • Sugar: 15.9g
  • Sodium: 28.4mg

The lonely baker – happy birthday to me

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents” is what I say to Jon each year when my birthday draws near. He looks blank because (a) he hasn’t read Little Women, (b) it’s October, and (c) we don’t celebrate Christmas anyway. But what I am cryptically saying is that as much as presents are essential to Christmas, so cake is essential to a birthday. (Wasn’t that obvious?)

My mum always made us amazing birthday cakes when we were little. I had a fairytale castle, a ski run, a doll in a pram, and loads of others. My brother had a football pitch, a hot air balloon, something tennis related, a fire engine, and I can’t remember what else. We always knew there would be a cake, but what it was would always be a closely-guarded secret. We would have to stay out of the kitchen while it was being done, but then before washing up we could come back in and lick the bowls of icing. It was nearly as good as the actual cake the next day.

I loved baking too, and as soon as I was old enough to reach the mixer I would also bake cakes, and sometimes I would make one for mum’s birthday because if I didn’t then no one would, because you can’t make your own birthday cake. When we were a bit older and stopped having “theme” cakes, we always got a perfect and delicious chocolate cake, the recipe for which was in mum’s tatty orange book of secret recipes, with an Evelyn Rose coffee-chocolate icing. It became THE family birthday cake, and then as time went on I would make it as the standard birthday cake for all friends and family too.

But in the last few years a sad thing has been happening. I have been diligently making cakes for Jon’s birthday, for friends’ birthdays and other family members if they are around. But on my birthday, there’s no one to make me a cake. My mum is the only one who would, but we are often not in the same place on my birthday (we were a few years ago and I asked her to make me a cake, even though it’s a bit pathetic to ask for a cake, and she did and it was amazing). When I most recently moaned about it to Jon he suggested that I leave an appropriate recipe lying around nearer the time. So a couple of days before my birthday I scribbled the recipe below on a piece of paper and waved it in front of his nose, saying “I’m leaving this carelessly lying around!” and then quite miraculously, on the afternoon of my birthday, I was presented with my own perfect, amazing and delicious birthday cake. Jon is pretty impressed with what a great cake he made all by himself, too.

Birthday cake

  • 6oz butter or margarine
  • 6oz caster sugar
  • 6oz self raising flour
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  1. Beat all the ingredients together in an electric mixer (or beat thoroughly by hand).
  2. Grease a round tin (around 8 inches), and spread the mixture evenly.
  3. Bake at your normal cake-baking temperature (for a fan oven it is 160) for round 45 mins, or until a fork stuck in the centre comes out clean

The original Evelyn Rose icing

  • 3oz butter, softened
  • 8oz icing sugar
  • 4 tablespoons drinking chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 3 teaspoons instant coffee
  1. Put the chocolate, cocoa and coffee into a small bowl and pour on the boiling water. Mix to a smooth cream.
  2. In a larger bowl (or your electric mixer) put the butter and cream until the consistency of mayonnaise.
  3. Add half of the sugar and cream again.
  4. Add the chocolate/coffee and the rest of the sugar and beat again until smooth and glossy.
  5. Spread on the cake and eat the rest!

My more sophisticated icing – coffee chocolate ganache

  • 200ml double cream or soy cream
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • Optional – 1 tsp glycerine
  • Optional – 2 tsp instant coffee
  1. Heat the cream in a saucepan and add the coffee if using. When it is just starting to bubble, remove from the heat and add the chocolate, broken into small pieces.
  2. Stir until it is a smooth cream.
  3. Add the glycerine if using (it keeps the ganache kind of stretchy and stops it from cracking)
  4. Cover the cake with it

I’m not doing a baby-friendly version, and I’m definitely not doing nutritional values – it’s my birthday!

Honey cake

On an uninteresting road between Kilburn and West Hampstead, there is an intriguing looking place called “Done Our Bit Club”. I haven’t been inside but I imagine that it’s full of old men drinking ale, telling each other stories of the old days, perhaps in the army, and contentedly agreeing that they have all done their bit and can now relax and enjoy the rest of their lives. Whenever I pass it I wonder what you have to prove to become a member, and, more importantly, whether they would consider that I have done enough of my bit to join. If the club really is what I imagine it to be, then I’m guessing that I have not done my bit, but this post is in the interests of progressing matters on that front.

If you’re Jewish, it’s obligatory to eat certain things. These include:

Even if you don’t like some of those foods, as I don’t, it’s obligatory to have a recipe up your sleeve for most of them (you can exclude the ones that you are morally opposed to, like gefilte fish and cholent) and to have views on all of them, because for Jews, food isn’t just food, it’s culture.

But then, because everyone is making the same things but using different recipes, often passed down through the generations, there is a certain element of competitiveness. So even if you don’t like the food yourself, yours is the best one. When I was younger, when people were talking about chicken soup (this is what young Jewish people talk about), I would feel compelled to say “my mum’s and grandma’s chicken soup is the best, you should try it if you think you’ve had good chicken soup because theirs is BETTER” when I myself wouldn’t eat it (I love it now that I have grown up and realised that it’s delicious. And it is the best chicken soup ever).

Also, there are a lot of really horrible versions of some of these dishes out there. So if an independent survey of people (or just guests who are invited for dinner) decides that my (or my mum’s or grandma’s) recipe for something is the best then I feel that I have to tell people about it, even if I myself wouldn’t eat it.

On Rosh Hashanah, it’s obligatory to eat honey cake. Jewish festivals are full of symbolism like this – honey is eaten in order to symbolise a sweet new year. Fruit like apples and figs are dipped in honey and eaten on each night of the festival, but honey cake is the traditional way that most Jews ensure that they can extract as many calories as possible out of the tradition of eating honey.

The recipe I’m sharing here makes a really great honey cake. It’s kind of a family secret and I thought twice about sharing it on here, but I think perhaps my “bit” is improving the general standard of honey cake on the world. It’s everything that a honey cake should be – dark, sticky, moist, and a little bit spicy so that it isn’t cloyingly sweet. It’s easy to make and can and should be made several days or weeks in advance, as it improves with age, like a fruit cake. Jews eat it throughout the holiday season, and it’s the way everyone in my family breaks thei Yom Kippur fast.

Except me. Whilst acknowledging that this is the best honey cake that you’ll ever eat, I’ll be breaking my fast with lemon cake. I’ll post that another time, but this is me, doing my bit:

  • 6oz butter/margarine
  • 6oz dark muscovado sugar
  • 1lb clear honey (this is one whole jar)
  • 1 heaped teasp mixed spice
  • 1 heaped teasp cinammon
  • 1 teasp ginger
  • 2 heaped teasp coffee dissolved in 8 floz hot water
  • 1.5 level teasp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 oz plain flour

The recipe makes one large square cake (tin of about 25×25 cm) or 2 loaf tins. The mixture is liquidy so don’t use loose-bottomed tins (or if you do, you need to cover the outside with foil. It is easiest to get the cake out if you line the tin with baking paper.

  1. Make the coffee in a jug/bowl, and add the bicarbonate of soda.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, honey and all spices in a large saucepan. Tip for getting all the honey out: loosen the lid (but keep on) and put the jar in a bowl of boiling water for a minute or two. The honey will then pour out easily.
  3. Heat the mixture until everything is melted and dissolved together.
  4. Add the coffee/bicarb mix to the saucepan.
  5. When the mixture in the saucepan is cool, beat the eggs and add them into it.
  6. Add the flour and beat with an electric mixer or a hand whisk.
  7. Pour into the tin and bake at whatever your oven baking temperature is (mine in an electric fan oven is 160) for about 40 mins or until a fork comes out clean.

There’s no baby-friendly version because this just isn’t suitable for babies. Under 1 year babies can’t have any honey, even cooked, and I’ve even seen guidance in some countries to wait even longer. So this is just not for them – let them eat bread.

*Approximate nutritional values (1 slice)*

  • Calories: 181kcal
  • Carbs: 29g
  • Fat: 6.9g
  • Protein: 1.8g
  • Sugar: 21g
  • Sodium: 5.3mg