Mini Carrot Cakes

This take on the original loaf cake recipe is even quicker and easier to make and has more sultanas and chopped walnuts as well as the delicious addition of mixed spice.

Baking these as mini muffin-sized cakes cuts down on the baking (and cooling) times so they’re even quicker to make – and eat – and they look picture perfect served at a tea party in their lovely brightly coloured paper cases.

Mini Carrot Cakes

Makes 12

125ml sunflower oil
125g light muscovado sugar
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
175g carrot, coarsely grated
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
juice of ½ a lemon
1 tsp lemon extract
75g walnut pieces, roughly chopped
75g sultanas
150g self-raising wholemeal flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp mixed spice

Lemon Frosting:

60g softened butter or baking margarine
80g full fat cream cheese (such as Philadelphia)
200g icing sugar
juice of ½ a lemon
½ tsp lemon extract
15g walnuts, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/GM4. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with greaseproof muffin cases.
  2. Put the oil and sugar into the bowl and stir well, breaking up any lumps in the sugar. Add the lightly beaten eggs, grated carrots, grated lemon zest, juice of half a lemon, chopped walnuts and sultanas and stir well to mix.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and mixed spice over the mixture (adding the bran remaining in the sieve) and fold in.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and level the surface. Bake for about 30-35 minutes until risen and golden brown. Leave the cakes to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes then remove and place on a cooling rack.
  5. To make the frosting, beat together all the ingredients, except the walnuts, until soft and creamy. Ice the cooled cakes and decorate with the chopped walnuts.
  6. Because of the frosting, these are best stored somewhere cool or in the fridge.

Click HERE for a printer friend version of the recipe.

I’ve used a more traditional frosting for these mini carrot cakes, but if you prefer a less sweet topping then just substitute the frosting from the Loaf Tin Carrot Cake Recipe.

Prune & Amaretto Muffins

When is a muffin not a muffin?  When it’s a Prune and Amaretto Muffin, it would seem!  Made with the same method as a muffin, this recipe produces a cake that is beautifully moist and dense and, unlike most muffins, keeps really well for several days stored in an airtight container.

These got rave reviews from the ‘Taste Panel’ and even those who don’t generally like muffins say these are delicious.  Probably my favourite recipe  of the moment and containing as it does oats, wholemeal flour, dried fruit and oil rather than saturated fat it’s certainly on the healthier side of cake baking.  If you prefer, you can substitute orange juice for the Amaretto liqueur.

Amaretto & Prune Muffins

Makes 10 large muffins


150g soft prunes, quartered

4 tbsp Amaretto liqueur

175g self-raising white flour

125g self-raising wholemeal flour

½ tsp mixed spice

½ tsp ground cinnamon

75g jumbo porridge oats

100g soft light brown sugar

1 large egg, beaten

100ml corn oil

250ml semi-skimmed milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/GM5 and line a 12 hole deep muffin tin with 10 paper muffin cases.
  2. Put the prunes and Amaretto liqueur into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until all the Amaretto has been absorbed. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flours and spices tipping the bran left in the sieve into the bowl. Stir in the jumbo porridge oats and sugar. Make a well in the centre.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, oil and milk.
  5. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, add the cooled prunes and Amaretto and stir just until combined, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as you stir. This mixing should be quick and light and not take more than 20 seconds. Do not overmix.
  6. Quickly fill the muffin cases about 2/3rds full and bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
  7. These are delicious while still slightly warm. If they’re not going to be eaten on the day they are baked they can be frozen and then taken out and thawed as required.

If you prefer you can make slightly smaller muffins by dividing the mixture between 12 paper cases and baking for about 20-25 minutes.

Click HERE for a printer friendly version of the recipe.

Little Concertina-Folded Handmade Books

Been busy with my illustration work, so apologies for the lack of posts.  Will be back on the baking case shortly but in the meantime here are the little handmade concertina-folded books that I’ve been making.

Featuring my watercolour illustrations and calligraphy, these items of hand-held art also look lovely displayed on a window sill or mantlepiece.

They’re now available from my online shop The Museum Shelves, along with a range of handmade Christmas cards.  Give something special this Christmas – give something handmade.

Apple & Cinnamon Cake

A spicy apple cake is always a winner and this is a particularly delicious, quick and easy version.

Make it the day before and it becomes even moister – and stored in an air-tight container it will keep fresh for several days.  It also freezes well so it can be made well in advance of when you need it.  Or do what I do – cut it into portions and freeze the individual slices so that you can have the occasional slice for a Sunday afternoon treat.



200g dessert apple, coarsely grated (about 3 – I like to leave the peel on)
125g light soft brown sugar
100ml sunflower oil
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
200g self-raising white flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
100g sultanas
2 tbsp demerara sugar (optional)

You will need:

A 2lb / 900g loaf tin

Non-stick liner or butter and greaseproof paper

Wooden or metal skewer


Makes 8-10 slices



  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.
  2. Lightly grease and line the loaf tin or pop in a liner.
  3. Placed the grated apples into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar, oil, vanilla extract and eggs.
  4. Sift the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together into the bowl. Stir well to combine. Stir in the sultanas.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface. Sprinkle with the demerara sugar (if using) and then bake for about 45-50 minutes until well-risen and golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean,
  6. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove and place on a wire rack to finish cooling.

Click HERE for a printer friendly version of the recipe.




Cup Cake Cases – the First Review

Throughout 2017, as I’m developing my muffin and cup cake recipes, I’m also trialling a number of paper cases to see which best stand up to the rigours of baking.  First up for review are these baking cases from PME.

I bought these online and each pack cost £1.49 for 60 – which is a very reasonable price.  I found them to be a good size for fairy cakes or small cup cakes and the baked caked peeled away from the cases well.

Unfortunately, the brown of the chocolate cake dis-coloured the cases during baking.  I’ll be giving these a try with lighter cake mixes and update my review after that.  Marks out of ten: 7/10.

Hodmedod’s Breakfast Muffins

Another one of my recipes developed specifically for Hodmedod’s.  These light muffins not only taste fantastic but they do you a power of good too and are perfect for a luxurious and healthy treat for breakfast or leisurely weekend brunches.  Find the recipe on their website Hodmedod’s Breakfast Muffins.

If you’ve tried my Healthy Energy Bar Recipe this is the perfect use for any remaining Naked Barley Flakes.  Alternatively, if you get the naked barley flakes for this recipe, get some Puffed Quinoa too and you can make my energy bar recipe as well.  I’m also working on a healthy granola based on these two ingredients, so watch this space for further recipes.

In the meantime, I was delighted to hear that Hodmedod’s are one of three finalists for the Best Producer category of the 2017 BBC Food and Farming Awards.  I’ve produced the package illustrations for this small, local company since their inception and, although a freelancer, I’ve always been made to feel a valuable part of their team.  Congratulations and fingers crossed for the final decision.

Let them eat cake

I’m currently working on designing some greetings cards and so my mind is more on drawing than baking at the moment.

I’ve got a number of sketchbooks where I’ve doodled card ideas over the years so I was looking back through these for inspiration.

I’ve always liked this sketch of Marie Antoinette that I drew a number of years back now – and based on a poster project I did even further back when I was a student at Norwich University of Arts.

Everything gets re-cycled sooner or later though.

Banana and Walnut Muffins

I’ve always seen banana cakes as a great way to use up over-ripe bananas.  Flicking through the weekend Guardian the other month, I was interested to read an article where it was claimed that the writer had made cakes with bananas in various degrees of ripeness (and even unripeness) and it had made no discernible difference to the end results.  I was cheered by this information when I went to buy the bananas for this recipe as they were all a little under-ripe.  But I straight away discovered the flaw in the research – have you ever tried mashing a less than ripe banana?  Having tried it myself I can confirm that it is near impossible with a fork and probably took me longer to mash the bananas than it did to make the cakes!  I’ll be sticking to ripe bananas for my cakes in future.

Made with ripe bananas, these lightly spiced banana and walnut muffins are very quick and simple to make and are delicious for afternoon tea.  They have great keeping qualities too, just store them in an airtight container.  They can also be frozen for up to a month.  If 12 muffins are too many, the recipe is easily halved to make just six.

Banana and Walnut Muffins

Makes 12


100g soft margarine or butter, softened
100g caster sugar
1 tsp almond extract
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
2 medium bananas, mashed
50g (or 4 tbsp) half-fat crème fraîche
250g self-raising white flour, sifted
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
100g walnuts, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/GM5 and line a 12 hole deep muffin tin with paper muffin cases.
  2. Place the butter, sugar and almond extract into a mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Stir in the crème fraîche and mashed banana.
  4. Using a metal spoon or spatula, fold in the sifted flour, grated nutmeg and chopped walnuts.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Click HERE for a printer friendly version of the recipe.

Rock Cakes with Crème Fraîche

Most of my recipes for the Norfolk Magazine were subsequently posted on their online pages.  One of the exceptions was my recipe for Rock Cakes.  I can only think that they succumbed to a preconceived notion as to what these might be like but  didn’t actually make any of these delicious lightly spiced cakes made special by the addition of crème fraîche.

A friend told me the other day that these taste nothing like the rock cakes her granny used to make.  I’m pleased to report that they don’t taste like the rock cakes that I made as a child either.  They really are absolutely delicious – and so quick and easy to make.  I just wish I could come up with a different name so that no-one is put off by the term ‘rock cakes’.

My muffin recipe on Friday also uses crème fraîche so I’m hoping that having some left over the in the pot will encourage a few more people to give these rock cakes a try.  If you do you won’t be disappointed.