Lemon meringue pie

Watching the Comic Relief series of the Great British Bake-off last week, I was inspired to make my first ever lemon meringue pie. I researched on-line for recipes (all of which seemed to make huge pies to serve 8+) the turned to my trusty Be-ro Cookbook for a simple, lower-fat recipe (no butter in the lemon layer) that would fill a 7 inch flan dish. I have some sweet pastry in the freezer, left over from a larger batch I’d made, so this cut down the effort. If you have a ready-made flan case you can skip the first stage and simply make the filling and topping.

The picture is of my finished effort. The result was delicious!

Lemon Meringue Pie Serves 4

100 g (4 oz) Be-Ro Short Pastry
2 medium eggs, separated
225 g (8 oz) caster sugar
1 lemon, juice and grated rind
150 ml (¼ pint) boiling water
25 g (1 oz) cornflour

1 Heat oven to 190ºC, 375ºF, Gas Mark 5. Line an 18 cm (7 inch) flan tin with the pastry and bake blind.
2 Reduce heat of oven to 150ºC, 300ºF, Gas Mark 2. Place egg yolks with 100 g (4 oz) sugar, lemon juice, grated rind and boiling water in a saucepan and mix well.
3 Blend cornflour with a little cold water and add to the lemon mixture. Bring to the boil and pour into the baked flan case.
4 Whisk egg whites stiffly and gradually beat in remaining sugar. Spread over the flan and bake for about 25 minutes until crisp and pale golden brown.

Salted caramel chocolate cookies: Request #3

Ok, so my quest to bake East London out of SR flour hasn’t exactly got off to the speediest of starts. I’d like to say I’d resolved this year to keep to my ‘bake a cake’ a week promise, but that would sadly be stretching the truth (somewhat). However, I have been meaning to blog this recipe for a while. It sounds fancy, but is anything but – in fact these cookies are easy to make, and even tastier to eat. Nigella eat your salted caramel heart out.

Salted caramel chocolate cookies

Best eaten warm - if cold, microwave for 10 seconds for ultimate caramel goodness


110g caster sugar
90g soft brown sugar
110g butter
1 egg (large if poss)
1 tspn. vanilla extract
190g plain flour
6 tbspn. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tpn. baking powder
20-24 rolos, or similar (I used Cadbury’s caramel pieces)

To roll cookies in
50-60g caster sugar
1 tbsp. salt (optional – although this is what gives them their name and I would recommend including)

The ingredients

The ingredients


Preheat oven to gas mark 5/ 190 degrees C. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine sugar, brown sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla. Mix together until well blended. Add flour, cocoa powder and baking powder; mix well.

Mixing the ingredients together

Mix it up

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Roll dough into balls and place 1 chocolate-covered caramel candy in the center of each dough ball. Form the dough ball around the Rolo/chocolate caramel sweet and roll each in sugar. Place on ungreased baking sheet and press down slightly. Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of salt, if desired. (This really brings out the sweetness of the caramel).

Rolling the cookie dough in sugar

Rollin' with the homies

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for 2 minutes then transfer cookies to a cooling rack.
Eat warm, with a cup of tea.

Bara brith: Request #02

Bara brith “speckled bread”, was requested by my friend Noni, whose birthday it was this week, so what better reason than to give it a try.  This welsh tea bread was served, so this recipe reliably informs me, at Fortnum and Mason’s jubilee tea room using produce from the Prince of Wales’s Highgrove label.  All out of Highgrove produce, I found a bag of mixed fruit at the back of the cupboard, brewed a jug strong tea, and carried on regardless…

So, Prince of Wales aside, this ‘bread’ was quick and easy to make.  Even better, it tasted delicious (especially with butter) – think Malt Loaf crossed with Christmas cake.

All credit goes to ‘Magmu’ for this recipe.

225g to 250g (8 to 9oz) of dried mixed fruit
300ml (1/2 pint) boiling water
3 strong tea bags
170g (6oz) of soft brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar, some recipes say light muscavado)
225g (8oz) of self raising flour
1 large egg (I only had medium, and it was fine)
1/2 tsp of mix spice
1/2 tsp of cinnamon

Brew the tea bags in the water of 5 minutes, remove the tea bags whilst the tea is still hot add the sugar stir until dissolved.

Pour the sweet tea over the dried fruit cover and leave to stand overnight.

Mix together all of the dry ingredients slowly stirring in the egg soaked fruit and remaining sweet tea.

When the mixture has come to a thick cake like batter pour the mixture into loaf tin (lined with baking parchment).

Place into a pre heated oven gas mark 3 (top shelf) for approx 1 and 1/2 to 1 and 3/4 hours (check after an hour or so and if the top is burning cover loosely with tin foil).

Leave to stand for 10 minutes before turning out the cake onto a cooling rack.

Lemon Drizzle Cake: Request #01

Inspired by baking suggestions from friends and family, the great East London bake off begins.  One cake/bake/bread/biscuit a week, until Lidl is out of SR flour.

Not wanting to get too carried away, I’m playing it safe by starting with a cake I’ve baked before.  Requested by none other than my Mum, and Mother-In-Law, this cake had to be baked.

And here are the results:

In writing this I am adding yet another lemon drizzle recipe to an already plentiful supply out there.  I chose this one because…

  • It’s reportedly one of Nigella’s
  • It only uses 2 eggs (lots use 4)

And here’s some handy hints and tips:

  • Grate the lemon peel with the small grater rather than the zester bit
  • 2 lemons are better than 1 (and if you live in London you probably bought 5 in a bowl, so will need a way of using them up)
  • More or less ignore the icing measurements
Lemon Drizzle Cake

One down, lots more to go...


The cake
125g unsalted butter (or closest you’ve got to it in the fridge)
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 or 2 lemons (depending on how lemmony you like your lemon cake)
175g self raising flour
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons milk
A loaf tin buttered and/or lined

The syrup
Juice of 1 and a half lemons
100g icing sugar (I only had caster sugar, so used this instead)

The icing (this makes too much icing, I used less)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
150g icing sugar


The cake
Preheat your oven to 180 C/ gas mark 4.
Butter and line your loaf tin well.

Cream together butter and sugar and add eggs and lemon zest, beating them in well.
Gently fold in the flour and the salt, mixing thoroughly and then add the milk.
Spoon the batter into your prepared tin and bake for 45 mins or until cake tester comes out clean.

The syrup
Put the lemon juice and icing/caster sugar into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves.
As soon as cake is out of oven, puncture all over with skewer and pour over the syrup.
Leave cake to cool completely before removing from the tin.

The icing
In a small bowl combine lemon juice and icing sugar until smooth and white. When the cake is totally cool (ok I’m never quite this patient) drizzle the icing over it.

The East London Bake Off Begins

Thank you for your requests, they have been many and varied.  Keep them coming, please!

# Lemon Drizzle Cake

# Coffee and Walnut Cake

# Aunt Arabella’s Lemon Iced Ginger Cake

# Macaroons

# Bara brith

# Millionaire’s Shortbread

# Beetroot Chocolate Cake

# Smores?!

# Choux Pastry

# Chocolate Eclairs

# Date and Walnut Loaf

# Roscon de Reyes

# Salted Chocolate Cookies

# Chocolate Muffins

# Cheesecake

# Pumpkin Cake

# Banana Bread

# Swedish Chocolate Dream Cake

Getting Ready For Christmas

Indulgent Christmas Pudding

This is a recipe I found in a free magazine, published by Safeways (remember them?) for customers in 2002. I tried it (my first attempt at making a Christmas pud) and the result was so delicious I have made it every year since then. You certainly can’t make this a hurry, but as a project for a wet, windy day in late autumn it’s perfect. Your house will be filled with the smells of fruit, spice and citrus – a foretaste of the season to come, and although a shop-bought pudding might be easier, it certainly will not taste as good as this.


450g (1lb) luxury mixed dried fruit (or create your own by adding favourite extras to basic dried fruit mix)

115g (4oz) unsalted butter (allow to soften at room temperature)

150g (5oz) muscovado sugar

2 large free range eggs

50g (2oz) self-raising flour

50g (2oz) breadcrumbs (white or wholemeal)

250g (9oz) grated apple (eating or cooking)

50g (2oz) toasted chopped brazil nuts

Rind and ½ the juice of one lemon and one orange

50ml (2 fl oz) sherry

½ teaspoon each of mixed spice, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon


You will also need:

1.2 litre (2 pint) pudding basin

Greaseproof paper or baking parchment

Aluminium foil

White string

A large saucepan with lid that your basin will fit into.


Here’s what you do:

1. Put the mixed dried fruit, the grated rinds and ½ the juice of the lemon and orange, together with the sherry, into a bowl. Cover with a plate or cling-film and soak for at least 4 hours, stirring every so often. (You can do this overnight if you like but don’t worry about getting up to stir it!)

2. Grease the pudding basin. Cut a circle of greaseproof paper about 2cms wider than     the bottom of the basin, snip the sides at intervals all the way round and use this circle to line the bottom of your basin.

3. Beat the butter and muscovado sugar together until pale and fluffy; little by little add in 2 large eggs, together with a teaspoon or two of flour to prevent curdling.

4. Mix the self-raising flour, mixed spice, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon, breadcrumbs, grated apple and toasted chopped brazil nuts in a separate bowl. Add to egg mixture, together with soaked fruit and liquid; stir until all ingredients are blended.

5. Spoon mixture into basin, pressing down well. Cover with double thickness greaseproof paper, pleated in the middle (to allow the pudding space to rise), and secure with string. Overwrap with a double layer of foil and tie this with string too.

6. Put into a large saucepan, fill to half-way up basin sides with boiling water. Cover, simmer for 4-5 hours until risen and firm. Check the water level every so often and top up with boiling water from a kettle as necessary. Alternatively, if you have a pressure cooker you can speed up the cooking time; just follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to cook Christmas puddings.

7. Remove from the heat and carefully lift the basin from the pan. Allow the pudding to cool completely, remove string, foil and paper. Re-cover with new greaseproof paper and foil. Store in a cool place for 6-8 weeks.


Requests, please

This week marks 2 events in the baking world:

1. It’s national baking week - http://www.nationalbakingweek.co.uk/

2. The Great British Bake Off is over for another year (for those of you who are missing it, this may help to ease the pain - http://maryberrybitingintothings.tumblr.com/)

In fact, make that 3…

3. Baking By Numbers is taking your BAKING REQUESTS

It’s easy:

  • Think of your favourite cake, biscuit, or something fancier (nothing too fancy eh)
  • Tell me what it is (and why) by leaving a comment below, or email your request to abbie@bakingbynumbers.co.uk
  • I’ll bake it and post the evidence here (disasters included)


Chocolate Brownies

These brownies are delicious, and easy to make.  Even better they closely resemble the packet brownies I would make as a kid with my Mum.  I’ve been waiting for a recipe to equal, or better that one – resulting in brownies that are gooey in the middle and somewhere between chewy and crunchy on the top.

Now, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, bless him, begins by melting 170g butter until ‘it turns golden brown and smells slightly sweet and nutty’. I on the other hand take the closest alternative from the fridge (Lidl’s finest margerine) and melt that instead.  The golden hues and nutty smell therefore evade me, however it all seems to work out ok in the end…

Melting butter

Melting 'butter'

That’s the tricky bit over.


Whilst the melted butter ‘cools’ in a sweaty kitchen, mix together flour, cocoa and a pinch salt of one bowl.  In another bowl whisk together the sugars, and eggs using the highest speed setting.  Invoke your inner Mary Berry as you lift the beaters to see a ribbon of batter falling onto the mixture.  Then beat in the butter and vanilla.

Bourneville Cocoa

Birmingham's finest

Flour, cocoa, salt

Bowl 1 - Flour, cocoa, salt

Whisking sugar and eggs

Underwater camera optional

More whisking

You could tie your hair up with these ribbons


Fold the cocoa, flour mixture into the bowl of ribbony goodness, being careful to avoid over zealous mixing… Pour the mixture into a baking tray prepared lovingly with greaseproof paper, and pop it into the oven, pre-heated to gas mark three (not much hotter than holding a match to it).

Bake until ‘done’ (the recipe says 20-25 mins, however less well behaved ovens will take longer – about 40 mins).  You’ll know they are ready when a toothpick comes of of the middle with just a few gooey crumbs on.  Ooo, go on, eat them.

Cooked brownies

That's one huge toothpick

Brownies ready to eat

The packet mix was quicker, but these are just as scoffable


170g butter
200g caster sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g cocoa powder
50g plain flour
¼ tsp salt


Heat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3. Lightly grease a 22cm x 22cm x 5cm brownie tin and line with two strips of baking parchment.

Place the butter/marg/closet alternative (mayo is pushing it) in a medium-size saucepan and melt it over a medium heat. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl beat together the sugars and eggs until very thick and glossy – when you lift up the beaters, a ribbon of batter should stay on the surface of the mixture for several seconds. Beat in the vanilla and the browned butter.

Sift together the cocoa, flour and salt into a separate bowl. Gently fold this into the batter, being careful not to overmix, and scrape into the prepared tin with a spatula.

Bake for about 20-25/35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the middle of the brownies with a few crumbs attached. Place the tin on a rack and let the brownies cool completely. Lift them out of the tin with the parchment and cut into 16 squares.

Put the kettle on.

Easy Victoria Sponge Cake

So, not wanting to get too carried away in the first flushes of blogdom…I’m keeping it simple, with a Victoria Sponge.

It being the Jubilee year n all, where better to start than with a British classic.  Keeping it royal. Queen V would be proud, I just know it. (She also kept eggs in old chinese take-way cartons, so I’m told).


Weigh the eggs


To make the perfect Victoria Sponge, first weigh the eggs (I used 4 as the tin was huge), then weigh out all the other ingredients to the same weight as the eggs.  (Much sought after family cooking secret, revealed).

My 4 eggs weigh 252gr, so I weigh out 252gr of self-raising flour, caster sugar and margarine (Stork on this particular occasion, because a. ‘softened’ butter generally end up as liquid butter under my supervision, and b. because corner shops just love a bit of Stork (it’s perfect for cakes, you see)).

Flour & butter

Then the same amount of sugar and flour


...and the marg


You know the end of the story, I’m sure you do.  Add all the ingredients together into a mixing bowl, and whisk together.  (At this point, I also need a tall person to get the whisk from the too-high-cupboard).

When the mixture is light, smooth and runny, pour it into your tin/s. Bowl – tin – oven – and out again.

Victoria Sponge

Strip lighting glow


Destined for a hen-do, this particular Victoria Sponge cake went off piste.

Cake with icing

Precision icing

4 eggs
SR flour (same weight as the eggs)
Caster sugar (same weight as the eggs)
Margarine or softened butter (same weight as the eggs)
Icing sugar
Strawberry jam (from Lidl, honest)
Tall person (if required)

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 or… Fahrenheit? and grease your 8inch tin/s (either one big one, or 2 small).
Put all ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth and light in colour.
Pour the mixture into the tin/s and put on the middle shelf of the oven (or the top if like our oven this is the only place things cook).
Cook for about 20-25mins if 2 tins, and 40-50 if just one.  (Don’t like me be impatient and open the oven door too early…o, and check it’s done by putting a skewer or knife into the middle – if it comes out covered in sloppy mixture, it’s not ready.)