The apple of my eye

Mrs Stovies loves a snifter of Amaretto, and there’s no doubting that she also loves a nice slice of cake too. Moist and moreish, this recipe combines the two and we hope you love it as much as Mrs S does.

40ml Amaretto
40ml Apple juice
100g Sultanas
2 Large cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
170g Butter, very very soft
200g Caster sugar
2 Large eggs
350g Self raising flour, wholemeal
100g Ground almonds
1tsp Cinnamon

To top:
Water icing* (50g icing sugar + 2-3tsp water)
A handful of flaked almonds

*Stir the water in gradually, one tsp first then half a teaspoon at a time allowing to sit for a moment before adding the next. When the icing runs off the spoon in thick ribbons it’s spot on. If not, add a tad more water.

Soak the sultanas in the Amaretto and apple juice. If you are feeling adventurous play with the proportion of booze to juice, you could even swap the Amaretto for Calvados for a doubly appley flavour. Beat the sugar and butter together until creamy, then add the eggs one at a time and keep beating until smooth and glossy. Add flour, ground almonds and cinnamon, mix thoroughly then fold in the apple and sultanas.

Bake in a round tin for about an hour at gas 4 / 180°c and once baked leave to cool for about 20 minutes in the tin before moving the cake to a wire rack. Once completely cool, drizzle with water icing and scatter with flaked almonds.



Team Stovies took a toddle along to Stockbridge Market today and were delighted to find ‘The Marshmallow Lady’ hosting a stall.

We took the opportunity to taste some of her wares and my oh my were they good. Our top two bite sized tasters were passion fruit and lemon meringue, both light, pillowy and very very fruity.

We scarpered home with a bag of Oreo Cookie mallows for the princely sum of £2.50. The proof is in the pudding however as the cookie encrusted clouds lasted less than five minutes and were a world away from a packet of flumps.

We’re looking forward to trying out more flavours soon, especially when The Marshmallow Lady’s cafe opens on Rodney Street at the end of June. Until then we’ll have to hope to bump into her again at the market soon.



Mr Stovies isn’t so much of a cake maker but this banana loaf is a stalwart of his recipe book and even he can’t mess it up! We’re also led to believe it’s at least 1 of your 5 a day. Maybe even more…

Just in case the title of this post got you wondering if the 80’s popsters were still alive, they are and they’re still performing. It’s not pretty but this cover of their hit Love in the First Degree is.

4 medium ripe bananas
100g white chocolate, chopped into chunks
125g softened butter
3 eggs
3tbsp golden syrup
1tbsp coconut
250g selff raising flour
200g sugar

First things first, preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease a reasonable sized loaf tin (about 1lb size).

Peel the bananas and break them into a large mixing bowl. Smash to a pulp using a hefty wooden spoon. Takes a bit of time but it’s fun!

This bit is a little more taxing – dump all other ingredients in and mix very well into a nice smoothish cake batter. There will still be some lumps of chocolate and banana but the rest of the mixture should be smooth. It’s best to use a spoon and some good old elbow grease for this, mechanical mixing devices will destroy the good lumps.

Pour the batter into the greased tin and bake for an hour to an hour and a half. From an hour onwards check on the loaf regularly as the ripeness of the bananas and the strength of your oven will vary the cooking time. When baked fully it will have risen and be nice and springy to the touch. The standard spike test may not work too well here though as the choc chips and banana will leave goo streaks on it!

Leave in the tin for about quarter of an hour before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Great served warm with some crème fraîche or custard. The white chocolate turns deliciously caramelly but you could swap it out for a rich dark chocolate and some walnuts instead.

A humble little crumble

Yes, crumbles conjure up thoughts of autumn with wafts of cinnamon and lashings of hot custard but here in Stovies’ kitchen they’re a great way of using up fruit when we’ve not been too good at eating our five a day. This recipe is great because everything is done in one dish, meaning less washing up and not much elbow grease. The topping is super crunchy thanks to the oats and the star anise gives a light, aromatic spice to the fruit. In winter though we can’t help but swap it out for a little cockle warming cinnamon. This crumble will easily satisfy six.

For the filling:
10 apples and pears, peeled and cut into chunks
1 handful sultanas
3 tbsp apple juice
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 star anise
1 tbsp golden syrup

For the topping:
100g salted butter
100g light brown sugar
175g plain flour
25g oat bran, if you don’t have oat bran grind some porridge oats in a pestle and mortar
a pinch of salt

Put the sultanas and star anise into the bottom of a baking dish then put the apples and pears on top. Pour over the lemon and apple juice and drizzle the golden syrup over the top. Cover with tinfoil then bake in a medium hot oven – gas 5 – until the apples start to soften, about 20 mins. Stir occasionally. The idea is that as the apples and pears soften the sultanas will plump up with some of the yummy residue.

Mix together the butter, sugar, flour and oats until you have a breadcrumby texture. It doesn’t matter if you have some goops of butter as they’ll melt away. Rubbing in with your hands instead of using a food mixer makes for fewer dishes. Cover the fruit with the crumble topping, it’ll be quite thick – this is good. Put the whole lot back into the over and bake until golden on top, 40 mins should be plenty.

Serve up with your choice of cream, custard or ice cream. And the natural fight over the crispy edge bits of course!


These yummy oaty muffins are great for breakfast or with a cup of coffee. If you fancy experimenting try swapping the apple for either 1 mashed banana or two to three chopped kiwis. Yes, kiwis. Sounds wrong but actually they work really, really well.

225g porridge oats
750g milk with a squeeze of lemon juice in
3 tbsp butter
3 eggs
200g brown sugar
300g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground allspice
150g chopped apple, tossed in lemon juice
75g sultanas

Soak the oats in the milk and lemon for an hour. Cream the sugar and butter together and add the eggs and oatmeal goo. Sift in the flour and other dry ingredients and continue to mix until smooth. Last but not least fold in the fruit.

Spoon into muffin cases and bake at gas 6 for 25 minutes.

British Summer Time

It’s sunny – ish, Wimbledon is nearly around the corner and picnics start to feel like a reasonably good idea. You don’t get much more British than strawberries and cream so here’s a cake that celebrates them. The sponge mix is super easy and I use the quantities as the basis for nearly all of my cakes – it’s so simple it almost doesn’t need a recipe!

This mix is really easy to multiply so you can make any size of cake – four eggs will make enough batter for a two tier, 7 inch (8-10 slices) pile of loveliness, 7 eggs will fill two 9-10 inch tins (14-16 slices)

Weigh the eggs and write down the weight

Weight out the same amount of Self Raising Flour, Caster Sugar and Lightly Salted Butter (room temperature).

Beat the sugar and butter together until really nice and smooth, add two drops of good Vanilla Extract per egg.

Add one egg at a time mixing really well before adding the next one, this way the batter won’t curdle and the cake will be nice and fluffy.

Sift the flour, add it it 1/2 a level teaspoon of Baking Powder per egg, then mix into the wet ingredients a little at a time. Once it’s all been mixed together the batter should be a little sloppy – soft enough to drop off a spoon. If it’s not add a little milk to loosen it.

SPlit the batter between your two tins and bake at gas 4 or equivalent until springy and golden brown on top. If you put a knife into the centre of the cake it’ll come out moist but clean. for a 7 inch cake this will be about 25 minutes, for a 9-10 inch cake around 40 minutes.

Allow to cool in the tins for 15 minutes before putting onto a cake rack to cool all the way.

Now for the filling…

Put your less pretty cake (there’s always one) onto a nice plate. Spread liberally with good strawberry jam.

Whisk some double cream until quite stiff.

Chop up some strawberries (1/2 a punnet for a 7 inch cake, a whole punnet for a 9-10 inch cake) until you have a small chunk mush. Mix with the cream and add a little sugar or honey to sweeten.

Slather on top of the jam and then place the second cake on top.

Sprinkle with caster sugar then cut yourself a big wodge to enjoy with a cup of tea or a glass of bubbly.


Pomme tiddly pom

Apple pie is one of my all time favourite puddings but it’s fancy friend Tarte Tatin is vying to shift it from the top spot. If you’ve never made it before this is a straight forward recipe that will send you to apple heaven in a heartbeat.

1 Small pack of ready made puff pastry
3 Medium apples – Braeburn or Cox work really well
1 1/2 tbsp Caster sugar
1 heaped tbsp Salted butter
2-3 drops Vanilla extract

Slice the apples, I like them done thinly as they make a lovely pattern when they’re laid out flatI also leave the skins on for a little colour. Melt the butter, vanilla and 1 tbsp of sugar in a heavy bottomed round tin or oven proof frying pan (not too wide a pan, about 20cm across is perfect) and let it bubble until it starts to go golden.

Lay out the apple slices making a ring around the edge of the pan then filling in any gaps or just toss them all in randomly if you’re feeling lazy! Sprinkle the rest of the sugar over the apples. Keep on the stove with a medium heat for another 5-10 minutes. The apples will soften a little and let out some juice, the sauce will become quite syrupy.

Roll out the pastry and lay it on top of the apples. Bake in a medium-hot oven (gas 7 / 220’c) for 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crispy.

Now for the tricky bit. Put a plate over the pan, quickly but carefully flip it all over so the pastry is on the plate apple side up. Slice up and serve with ice cream or cream. Yum.