Yummy Breton and Apples

Red velvet cake is often made as a layer cake.

Red velvet cake is often made as a layer cake. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I collect recipes. ever since I was first married I have collected recipes. Initially we didn’t have the money for me to buy recipe books so I borrowed them from the Library and painstakingly copied out those I liked by hand. I filled a number of exercise books this way, even down to one which had a menu for every day of the year – starter, main course, and dessert.

I had never been taught properly to cook and all I learnt at home was how to cook cakes from packets.

I then had a short series of lessons in my sixth form in my lunch hour from a mother. so when i left home to go to uni I was really at sea – hence my reading…

Over time I learnt not only how to cook basics but also how to add flavouring and experiment. I also began to collect books – some are just for reading really – such as the Otto *** book – I stroke the lovely white padded cover and then drool over the photos, but never attempt to cook from it – others are much more practical and my Good Housekeeping Recipe Book is not only falling to bits but covered in various stains from foods and sticky fingers. This was probably the most useful book I ever got – a present on our wedding from my husband. From it, I learnt the basics and still refer to it regularly.

I am not a great cake maker and don’t have great success with icing and fancy stuff, so I go for easy and basic that are good tasting even if they don’t look fancy. So here are some well tested Cake/ Dessert Recipes that I can recommend:

Marion’s pineapple cake

1lb mixed fruit

5oz marg or butter if you prefer

6oz sugar

1 tin crushed pineapple

Simmer all ingredients together


Add 2 eggs; 10oz self-raising flour, stir well.

Put batter into 8” tin and bake 165deg for 1-1.5 hours


Raspberry yoghurt sorbet

8oz raspberries

2-3oz caster sugar

.5 pint natural yoghurt

Juice half lemon

.5oz gelatines powder

2 egg whites

Puree raspberries. Sweeten and stir in yoghurt and lemon juice.

Put 4tbsps cold water in bowl; add gelatine; leave 5 mins. Now place bowl over hot water and stir until dissolved and clear. Add to puree. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold in.

Freeze until almost set. Beat hard and re-freeze.


Le Far Breton

3oz raisins, sultanas or dried prunes – or similar fruit

1 tbsp rum

3oz plain flour

2oz caster sugar

Pinch salt

2 eggs

1 pint milk

2oz butter

Shallow 2 pint dish

Put fruit into small bowl; add rum and leave overnight to soak.

Sift flour into bowl; add sugar, salt, eggs; mix well.

Bring milk to just under boil and stir into flour mix. Beat into smooth batter.

Cut 1.5oz butter into small cubes and beat into batter.

Smear dish with remaining batter and pour in half batter.

Bake gas 6 for 20 mins. Take out and spread soaked fruit over in layer. Add rest of batter and bake further 25 mins.

You end up with a 2 layer pudding with the bottom firmer than the top.

I made this for all the dinner parties I held for the first 2 years as it is so tasty with cream or ice-cream.


Rosa’s Dorset Apple Cake

8oz self raising flour

4 oz fat eg butter or marg

4oz sugar [try raw cane sugar for extra flavour, especially raw brown]

2oz currants/sultanas *

8oz chopped apple

Milk as needed

Rub fat into flour; ad sugar an currants. Add pple. Mix together with milk to form a firm dough.

Grease 7” flat tin and spread mix over.

Cook gas 7 for 10 mins. Reduce to gas 1 for 1 hour or more until cooked through and brown. Or try gas 4 for 1 hour 15 mins until skewer comes out clean.

Turn out.

Cut up into squares. You can then spread with butter and sprinkle with sugar. You can warm up the squares before eating or eat cold.

* use blackcurrants – but note that cake goes purple when you do this.

The family favourite this one. Rosa is my mother-in-law.


Variation on Dorset Apple Cake from BBC Good Food magazine

2 large apples

Zest and juice 1 lemon

225g butter

1tsp vanilla essence

150g caster sugar

100g light muscovado

4 large eggs

250g s-r flour

100g ground almonds

2tsp baking powder

1tbs milk

3tbs flaked almonds

1 tbs demara to top

Beat butter, sugar,eggs, vanilla, zest, flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and milk in bowl.

Spread .5 mix in pan;

Scatter apple slices soaked in lemon juice over;

Top remaining mix;

Sprinkle flaked almonds and dem sugar over.

Bake 50mins gas 4.


And then there are our current favourites – Red Velvet Cake made properly with Beetroot; and Beetroot and Pineapple Cake – but I’m keeping those recipes to myself for now!

I totally agree with the article below – you must know your own oven – our daughter and I often cook together – she has a fan oven and things cook very fast – so my timings don’t work for her. And our oven tends to cook slow – so I test and re-test all my cakes etc until a skewer – my favourite one is twisted – comes out clean. Know your own skills and trust your instincts – cooking is all about tacit knowledge that you only learn by doing. I am sure that some recipes are only work in the recipe creator’s kitchens – they don’t work in mine for sure… at least not as they are written.

You know by smell and texture what is right to add and when to add and when to stop adding. Good cooks experiment with their tacit knowledge and this is why they often don’t make good chefs in commercial cooking where you need to repeat a recipe exactly time after time. I wouldn’t want to do this – I would would want to change the recipe – just a tweak here and there – according to the ingredients available and the ‘feel’ that I got!


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