walnut biscuits

Mama diós3

Mama diós3I remember helping Gran mixing the eggs and sugar for this recipe:  sitting on the kitchen chair with a big bowl on my lap, a wooden spoon in my hand.  Stirring and stirring with a childish conviction till  my arms were aching and the contents of the bowl turned  fluffy and pale yellow.   Nowadays, with the help of electric mixers it is a doddle and pain free.  A quick bake that keeps well in an airtight container.  Not dissimillar to cantuccini, slightly chewier, softer and just as delightful for dunking into your favourite hot drink.

2 eggs
150g sugar
120g flour
1½ tsp vanilla extract
100g walnuts (whole pieces, not chopped)

Line a 20cm x 20cm cake tin.  Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.  Beat the eggs and sugar with a hand whisk till you have a smooth, creamy consistency and pale yellow colour.  Add vanilla extract then the flour a bit at a time.  Finally mix in the walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake on the center shelf for about 25 minutes.  When the cake is cold, grab a serrated knife and thinly cut away all four edges.  Then slice into about 1cm thick pieces.  Mine measure 10cm x 3.5cm x 1cm.  Don’t worry if the top crust starts crumbling slightly while slicing.  You should get about 24 biscuits.

Mama diós1

Mama diós2



Posted in Recipes, walnut

budapest cake



Based on Maida Heatter’s Budapest Coffee Cake from from her Book of Great Desserts with a few changes.


100g dark brown sugar
1tbsp cinnamon
1tbsp cocoa powder
35g sultanas
100g walnuts, toasted & chopped
60ml dark rum


140g butter
300g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 lemon, zest only
3 eggs, large
360g quark
390g flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 375˚F/Gas 5/190˚C and butter a 22cm round kugelhof mould.

Toast the walnuts for about 10 minutes without burning them, then blitz in the food processor to medium coarse.  Mix all the filling ingredients and set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and the lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the flour mix and quark in two additions alternating between them.

Spoon a thin layer of batter into the prepared mould. Top with half of the nut filling, then a layer or batter and filling again, finishing with the batter layer on top.  Bake for 55 minutes.  Let it cool for about 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack.  Once completely cooled transfer the cake to a serving plate.  You might need to slice off a thin layer from the bottom of the cake to make it stand upright.  Dust with icing sugar before serving.



Posted in cakes, chocolate, dessert, lemon, Recipes, walnut

birthday fruit cake

Classic fruit cake 04

Classic fruit cake 04

This was a special request bake for the good man’s birthday.  Based on the brilliant Anna Olson’s recipe, with a few changes, it makes two cakes, which is handy considering the amount of time that goes into preparation and baking.  Don’t expect a tall cake in the traditional sense, think along the lines of low and elegant.  There was no chance to test how well and long the cakes would keep as these lovelies disappeared in no time.

Makes 2  9″/23cm round fruit cakes


Fruit Soak

1 cup diced candied orange peel 160g
2 cups raisins 300g
1 cup dried cranberries 140g
1 cup chopped pitted prunes 150g
1/2 cup dried currants 75g
1/2 cup dried apricots 70g
1/4 cup finely chopped candied (crystallized) ginger 40g
1 cup Port (or the tipple of your choice:  sherry, brandy) 250ml
1/2 cup orange juice 125ml
1 tbsp finely grated orange zest
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger


1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 225g
1 cup dark brown sugar 180g
3  large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup ground almonds 75g
2 cups all-purpose flour 280g
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 1/2 cup Port 60ml + 125ml
1 cup chopped pecans 110g
32  whole pecans for garnish (optional)

Fruit Soak

For the fruit soak, toss the candied orange peel and all of the dried and candied fruits together with the Port, orange juice, orange zest, lemon zest and ginger. Cover and chill this mixture at least overnight, up to 3 days, stirring occasionally.


Preheat the oven to 300˚F/Gas 2/150˚C and grease 2  9″/23cm round cake pans.

Beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir in the ground almonds.In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt and stir this into the batter. Stir in ¼ cup/60ml of the Port. Fold the chopped pecans into the batter then add the soaked fruits, stirring well to coat the fruit.

Spoon this into the prepared pans and spread to level. If you wish, arrange pecans on the top of the cakes in a ring.

Bake the cakes for 2 hours and 15 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.While still hot from the oven, brush the tops of the fruitcakes with some of the remaining ½ cup/125ml of Port.

Brush again once or twice as the cakes cool, then remove the cakes from their pans and wrap well till you are ready to serve.

Classic fruit cake 01

Classic fruit cake 03

Posted in almonds, apricots, cakes, cranberries, ginger, lemon, orange, pecans, Recipes



The traditional Hungarian walnut and poppy seed rolls for Christmas.

rising and proving time: 2 hours
oven temperature: 200˚C/gas 6
cooking time: 25-30 mins
makes: 4 rolls, two of each filling

yeast dough:
600g flour
225g butter (at room temperature)
60g icing sugar
15g fresh yeast (or 1 sachet/7g fast action dried yeast) lightly dissolved in the milk
2 egg yolks
160g milk (weighted)

poppy seed filling:
270g ground poppy seeds
170g sugar
80ml water
2 lemons, zest & juice of 1
2 tsp vanilla extract

walnut filling:
270g ground walnuts
170g sugar
80ml water
1 lemon, zest
1 orange, zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp orange liqueur (optional)

1 egg yolk
1 egg white

Make up the dough by sifting the flour into a large bowl then rubbing the butter in lightly with your fingers.  When the mixture resembles crumbs, add the icing sugar, egg yolks and yeasty milk.  Bring it all together to a smooth dough that leaves the bowl.  Divide the pastry into 4 equal parts and give a little light knead to the individual portions.  Cover with cling film then rest the dough in the fridge for an hour.

When it comes to grinding the poppy seeds, I set up my trusty poppy seed grinder, which you can find in almost every proud home cook’s cupboard in Hungary.  I only use it for grinding the poppy seeds.  It is in effect a manual burr grinder.  So, if you have an electric coffee or nut grinder, you will get the job done even faster!

For the filling you will need to melt the sugar in the water on the hob.  Then add the walnut or poppy seeds and the rest of the ingredients.  Divide the walnut and poppy seed mix into two, so that you end up with 4 filling portions.  Cover and cool in the fridge.

Once the pastry has rested, roll the dough portions out one at a time to about the size of an A4 (29 x 21cm) sheet of paper.  Spread out the filling, leaving a gap around the edges.  Alternatively you can roll out the filling too by placing it between two sheets of cling film.  This will give a neater finish.  Now fold up the two sides, this will stop the filling leaking out the ends of the roll.  I find it easier to start rolling up the pastry from the further end rolling towards me.  When you have the 4 rolls ready on the baking tray brush them with egg yolk and rest in the fridge for 30 mins.  Then brush the rolls again, but this time with egg white, and rest it for another 30 mins at room temperature.  This will create the characteristic marbled effect.

Just before the beigli goes into the preheated oven, I make a few holes on the rolls with a skewer.  They will serve as little vent holes for the steam to escape.  Bake on the middle shelf for 25-30 minutes.  The beigli is cooked when it takes up a lovely golden colour.  Let the rolls cool completely before slicing them diagonally.

Posted in cakes, dessert, lemon, poppy seeds, Recipes, walnut Tagged with: , , ,

elephant garlic

Garlic square

Posted in garlic

membrillo memories

membrillo cake

It’s membrillo cake time again.  I am baking it for the second time.  It brought back floods of memories from the time when I was little and naive about food.  I would eat most of the things that were on offer.  It wasn’t difficult to be tempted by the fruit trees grandma had in her garden.  The plum tree branches pregnant with goose egg sized purple plums.  The big apricot tree, with the noise of wasps at the time of the fruit ripening.  It was like having a race with those pesci insects:  who can spot the best looking, sweetest fruit first!  It’s a risky race to have when you are little, but the reward is so, so tasty.  Picking a fruit from the tree and devouring it on the spot – nature’s Michelin Starred restaurant offering.  Warmed and ripened by the Summer Sun to perfection!

The quince tree was sharing the enclosed space with grandma’s chicken and the noisy, scary cockrel.  I couldn’t get to it easily because of the feathered guards and  couldn’t eat the fruit when it was ready for harvest: it was hard and sour.  As I now know, it was a cooking apple.  Grandma was good at magic in the kitchen.  I don’t remember seeing her making quince cheese, probably couldn’t care less at the time about what happened to those uninteresting fruit.  Till I discovered a dark amber coloured slab, smelling sweetly in a baking tray, resting (maturing) on one of the shelves in grandma’s walk-in pantry.  It was quince cheese, I was told.  Cheese?  But it cannot be, it’s the wrong colour and it smells sweet not savoury!  Regardless of the confusing name I love it to this day.

Membrillo cake recipe from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson, available on Amazon here.

Posted in almonds, cakes, lemon, poppy seeds, quince, Recipes

quince cheese

Quince cheese R

This is quince cheese or membrillo in Spanish.  Here is how I made it.

Take  as many quinces as you have at hand (I only had a couple).  Wash but don’t peel them.  Chop the quinces roughly and put them in a pan, skins, seeds, core the whole lot.  Add enough water to barely cover the fruit.  Simmer gently for about 30 minutes until soft.

Mash or puree in a food processor, then press it through a sieve to get rid off the seeds and grainy parts.

Weigh the pulp, put it in a heavy-bottomed pan and add sugar equal in weight to the pulp.  Bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar, then reduce the heat to minimum and simmer for 1-1.5 hours.  It will spew and bubble like a hot geyser and turn a beautifully glossy deep amber colour.  It will also fill your kitchen with a refreshing fruity aroma.

When it’s ready your spoon will leave a clear channel on the bottom of the pan for a couple of seconds.  I like to pour the mixture in a shallow tray, lined with baking parchment, to a depth of about 3cm.

Leave it to set overnight, then turn it out, wrap in greaseproof paper or baking parchment and keep it in a cool place or fridge for about a year.  It goes wonderfully with cheeses (traditionally Spanish Manchego), cold meat or you could bake it into cakes.

Posted in quince, Recipes



The oaty ginger cake from Yorkshire, traditionally eaten on Guy Fawkes Night.  It’s dense and comforting, goes down well with a cup of coffee or tea on any day of the year.


160g soft brown or muscovado sugar
100g black treacle
75g butter
200g fine oatmeal or porridge oats
100g wholemeal self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp salt
150ml milk
1 egg

Preheat the oven to Gas 3/170˚C.  You will need a 20cm or 22cm square tin lightly greased or lined with baking parchment.

Combine butter, sugar & treacle in a saucepan over a gentle heat until it all melted down.  You don’t want to boil it, so don’t go away, just keep stirring slowly.

Mix oats, the rest of the dry ingredients & ginger in a bowl, then stir in the warm syrup.  Next add the egg and the milk.  Pour the mixture in the tin and bake on the centre shelf for 45-50 minutes.

Let the parkin cool in the tin before turning out and cutting into 16 squares.  Keep it in an airtight container in a cool place for a few days or a week before eating.  Your patience will be rewarded with a moist and sticky oaty cake.

Posted in cakes, ginger, oats, Recipes

butternut squash muffins

Pumpkin muffins

I have to admit that I have a slight obsession with butternut squash.  Anything savoury or sweet made with the perky orange flesh will find its way onto my plate.  Peeling and chopping the squash takes time and effort, but it’s worth it:  the colour is uplifting, the taste, when cooked is velvety smooth and sweet.  Soups, curries, cakes and my latest variation is hidden in these muffins.  Adapted from Simon Rimmer’s loaf recipe from here.  I used a 12 hole muffin tin.

Posted in bananas, butternut squash, dessert, Recipes



Grandma’s walnut and almond tart.  Recipe translation coming soon.

Posted in almonds, chocolate, dessert, Recipes, walnut