Ampleforth Apple Cake

Joan made this delicious cake following a trip to the Ampleforth apple orchard in October, but it can be made at any time with some tart English apples.




Makes ten generous slices.

4 eggs
150g caster sugar
2tbsp lemon juice
1tbsp grated lemon zest
250ml sunflower oil
250g plain flour, sifted
2tsp baking powder
1tsp mixed spice
1tsp cardamom seeds, crushed (optional)
1tsp vanilla essence
100g sultanas
500g tart apples, peeled cored, sliced

For the topping:
50g hazelnuts or cobnuts, roughly crushed
50g Demerara sugar


Preheat oven to 170°C/Gas mark 3. Grease and line a 23cm baking tin with baking parchment.

Beat the eggs and 50g caster sugar with an electric beater for 5 minutes until the mixture is pale and foamy. Mix the lemon juice, lemon zest with the remaining 100g of caster sugar and gradually beat this into the egg and sugar mixture. Dribble the sunflower oil into the foam and continue to beat. Fold the baking powder, spices and sultanas into mix which now resembles a thick batter

Place half the batter into the baking tin and arrange with half the sliced apples. Cover with remaining batter. Arrange the remaining apples over the top and scatter with a mixture of crushed hazelnuts and Demerara sugar. Bake for 1 hour, turn off heat, partly open the door, and leave the cake to cool in the oven. Dust with vanilla sugar if you have some.


Prune and Pink Peppercorn Rye Loaf

This recipe is for the serious bakers among Squidbeak readers. It is based on a rye sourdough recipe by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, the author of the award winning How to Make Bread, published in 2011 by Ryland Peters and Small. Emmanuel gives simple instructions on how to make a rye sour dough which takes 5 days. There after you have some forever if you look after it like a pet.

This loaf is an example of exquisitely flavoured rye sour dough. I was delighted with the result which was a softer, lighter loaf than I had been expecting. The dough requires very little kneading but it does need a long period of fermentation. This bread making project needs to be started a couple of days before the loaf is required and uses a rye sourdough starter.

Makes one small loaf



150g dark rye flour

100g rye sourdough starter

200g water

200g dark rye flour

1tsp salt

150g hot water

200g pitted prunes, chopped

1 tbsp pink pepper corns


Grease a loaf tin measuring 21cm x 12cm loaf tin.

In one bowl mix the 150g dark rye flour with the rye sourdough starter and 200g water. Cover the bowl with either another inverted bowl or use a clear plastic shower cap and leave to ferment overnight.

The following day mix 200g of dark rye flour with the salt and tip over the fermented rye sourdough mixture prepared the day before. Pour the hot water over the dry mixture and mix well.

Add the prunes and pink pepper corns and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf tin. Wet a plastic scraper or pallet knife and smooth the surface of the loaf. Dredge the surface of the loaf with rye flour, cover and allow the loaf to rise for two hours.

Keep an eye on the dough to ensure it does not rise over the tin. If it does just wipe any extra dough away from the loaf tin.

Preheat the oven to 220°/425°F/ gas mark 7.

The dough should rise about 2cm during proving after which it should be placed in the oven for about 30 minutes. Check whether the loaf is cooked by turning it out of the tin and knocking the base. If it sounds hollow the loaf is cooked and should be placed on a wire cooling rack to cool.

See more of Joan’s recipes and photographs on

Pancake Day!

This basic pancake mix is ideal for making pancakes for Shrove Tuesday. They can be made with either 100 per cent plain flour or a mixture of plain flour and buckwheat flour. The buckwheat gives the surface of the pancake a crisp texture which is lovely to eat. This recipe is ideal to use on Pancake Day.

Makes 6 large thin pancakes

Traditional pancakes to celebrate ‘Pancake Day’. Made with plain flour eggs and milk. Served with blood orange juice segments, yogurt, honey and sugar.

110g plain flour (or 75g plain and 35g buckwheat flour)
Pinch of salt
1 egg
290ml milk
Mild flavoured oil for frying (e.g. sunflower)

To serve:
Freshly squeezed juice of a lemon or orange
Orange and /or lemon slices
Caster sugar

Place all the ingredients into the goblet of a blender, or food processor, and process until smooth. Leave the batter to settle for about 30 minutes. This allows the starch grains to swell.

Heat a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat and wipe with a little oil. Pour 2–3 tablespoons of batter onto the hot frying pan and swirl the batter to form a circle. Cook for a couple of minutes until golden brown.  Flip the pancake over and cook the other side.

Cooks Tip:
Pancakes can be cooked in advance. Store a stack of pancakes interleaved with greaseproof paper in a freezer bag. Defrost and reheat before serving.

For more of Joan’s recipes and food writing and details of her photography workshops go to

Orange and Tahini Semifreddo with Crushed Pistachios

This is a forgiving recipe that requires very little skill. Don’t worry about whether the eggs whites or cream/yogurt mix are whipped up enough – if they are white and fluffy they will do. If all the ingredients are mixed together and given enough time to freeze the recipe will taste delicious regardless of what order you put the ingredients together.

The combination of sweet, tangy orange juice, nutty flavoured of tahini and crunchy pistachios are set against the creaminess of enriched Greek yogurt is a winner. Beautiful served with stewed damsons, plums or sliced figs.

Joan Ransley: Photographer & Food Writer

Serves 10 – 12

4 large eggs
200g caster sugar
zest and juice from one large orange
150ml double cream
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
100g light tahini
2 tbsp shelled salted pistachios, roughly chopped

To serve:
1 tbsp shelled salted pistachios, roughly chopped
Grated orange zest

Line a large loaf tin (approx.25cm x 13cm x 9cm) with a double layer of clingfilm. This will make turning out the frozen semifreddo easier.

1.     Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Place all the egg yolks in a bowl with the caster sugar and beat with an electric mixer for about three minutes until they are light and fluffy. (The egg whites can be frozen, or stored in the fridge to use later e.g. to make meringues or amaretti biscuits.)

2.     Add the orange zest, half the orange juice and tahini to the egg yolks and sugar. Mix thoroughly.

3.     Beat the double cream until stiff, fold in the Greek yogurt and then stir both into the egg, sugar and tahini mixture. Mix in the remaining orange juice. The mixture will be quite runny.

4.     Finally fold the crushed pistachio nuts into the mixture and pour it into the loaf tin lined with Clingfilm. Give the loaf tin a little bang on a solid work surface and place the semifreddo in the freezer for at least four hours.

To serve:

5.     Remove the semifreddo from the freezer half an hour before you want to serve it. Place it in the fridge to defrost slightly.

6.     Turn the frozen semifreddo upside-down onto a serving plate and remove the Clingfilm.

7.     Sprinkle with the remaining crushed pistachios and serve fresh fruit or fruit compote..

You can find this and more of Joan’s recipes on her website:


Fruit Syrups

I have just been out running and noticed all the elderberries are now ripe and the apples are beginning to fall to the ground so here are recipes for two lovely seasonal syrups and ideas on how you might use them.

Elderberry syrup

Elderberry syrup

This syrup is the colour of deep red venous blood. A dribble of this viscous syrup looks regal and elevates a plain meringue or cake based pudding into an eye catching creations. It is cooks best friend in the dark winter months when raspberries and strawberries are too expensive and out of season to use to make coulis or sauces.

Makes about 750ml (3 small bottles)


1 plastic carrier bag of elderberries

550g granulated sugar


Rinse elderberries in cold water and remove from their stalks. Place the elderberries in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Simmer for 10 minutes and mash with a flat headed potato masher. Strain the cooked elderberries through muslin or straining bag and make sure to extract every last drop of juice. Add 500g of granulated sugar to each 500ml of juice and bring to the boil and then lower the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. Allow the elderberry liquor to cool, and bottle in sterilised glass bottles.

Apple syrup

This recipe is a brilliant use of windfalls that might otherwise be discarded. The syrup can be used in apple sauces to team up with pork, diluted with carbonated mineral water and made into a spritzer or added to puddings and winter fruit salads. This is a lovely semi sweet syrup with bags of flavour. You will need a juicer or and apple press to extract the juice form the apples.

Makes about 250ml (1 small bottle)


1kg eating apples


Juice the apples. Place the juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer the juice for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and removing any scum that forms. Reduce the liquid to about a third of its original volume. Leave to cool slightly before storing in a bottle or airtight container in the fridge.



Spiced Treacle and Pine Nut Biscuits

Joan, our resident cook (and award winning photographer) has given us this Christmassy recipe for spiced biscuits to hang on the tree. If you like Joan’s photographs as much as her food, then take a look at her website for more recipes and more of her beautiful photographs You might even consider signing up for one of her photography workshops. We’ve done one and can wholeheartedly recommend.


200g plain flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. mixed spice

50g soft light brown sugar

100g unsalted butter, cold

50g black treacle

25g pine nuts



Sieve the flour, baking powder and spices into the bowl of a food processor. Add the sugar and give these ingredients a quick blitz. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.

Turn the flour, sugar and spice mixture into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Warm a metal spoon and add the treacle (the treacle falls more easily from a warm metal spoon) and bring the mixture together with your hands until all the streaks of treacle have disappeared. Shape the dough into a ball and divide into two. Cover and chill the dough until ready to use but don’t let the dough get too cold or it will be difficult to roll out.

To roll out

Shape one of the pieces of dough into a flat disc and place on a piece of parchment paper. Cover the dough with a second piece of parchment paper (Clingfilm works well too) and roll the dough until it is 5mm thick . It should be nice and even.

Using the baking parchment to lift – transfer the dough onto a baking tray and place in the fridge to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting into shapes. Cut out the biscuit shapes using cutters or create your own templates using thick card. Remove any excess dough from the parchment paper and re-roll the dough before cutting more shapes. Pierce a hole through the biscuit if you want to hang from the tree.

Preheat the oven to 170C/350F/Gas mark 4 Cook the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with the parchment paper for about 15 minutes or until they are just beginning to brown. Remove the baking tray from the oven and lift the parchment paper onto a cooling tray.

Cool the biscuits thoroughly before storing otherwise they may loose their crunch. They will keep for a week.

Recipe and photograph by Joan Ransley

Mixed Grain Summer Salad with Grilled Vegetables

I had some mixed grains left over (barley, black rice and red quinoa) and so I put them together into a salad with baby courgettes from the garden, tomatoes, peppers, mange tout… everything seasonal The fresh pesto really makes it. M & S sell a fresh pesto which is quite nice but not as good as freshly made. I hope you like it…

Take a handful of pearl barley rinsed in cold water and pop it in a pot and cover it with water. Place a lid on the pot to shorten the cooking time. Lower the heat to a simmer and wait for 20 minutes until the beads of barley are soft but not chewy to bite.

Take a handful of black rice and do as above. Black rice should be cooked in a separate pan as it colours the water and everything it comes in contact with. Finally, place four tablespoons of quinoa in a pan of water, as above, but limit the cooking time to 12 minutes once the water has come to the boil. Little white tails emerge from the seed coat as quinoa seeds cook and indicated when it’s ready to eat. It should be a little bit crunchy!

Mixed grain salad_lgeTo complete your salad, mix together a selection of roast vegetables – slow roast tomatoes work really well; put a chopped yellow courgette in the oven too. Then flame roast peppers and steam some purple mange tout if you can get hold of them – luckily I’ve got some in the garden at the moment! Finally assemble the whole lot – mix the grains together with a tiny drizzle of oil,lemon juice and salt. Add the cooled roast veg and dot the whole lot with pesto – make yourself, or cheat and buy some from M&S!

Find more of my recipes go to






Salmon, Quinoa and Crispy Potato Salad

Salmon & quinoa salad 01One in ten people suffer with a sensitive gut and experience symptoms of pain and bloating but with a bit of careful dietary management symptoms can be managed well. This recipe is great because it does not contain any of the foods which we know trigger symptoms in most people such as the white part of onion, wheat and excessive amounts of pulses. It is also a nourishing recipe that can be enjoyed by the whole family and  is adaptable.  The salmon can be substituted with smoked salmon, mackerel, trout or chicken and the dressing can be simplified. The warm crunchy potatoes really make it taste good…

This recipe is taken from Cooking for the Sensitive Gut by Dr Joan Ransley and Dr Nick Read and published by Pavilion Books and available from Amazon, Waterstones and other major bookshops.

For more information about managing your sensitive gut go to www.cookingforthe


Serves 4
Takes 30 minutes to prepare and cook


200 g/7 oz new potatoes, rinsed
1-2 tbsp olive oil
300 g/ 10 oz fresh salmon

For the dressing:
100 g/ 3 ½ oz blueberries
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp maple syrup
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
4 handfuls of watercress and rocket leaves
1 red chicory, leaves separated
¼ cucumber, halved and sliced diagonally
4 salad onions, green leaves only
60 g/ 2 oz quinoa*, cooked
30 g/ 1 oz canned lentils, rinsed well
micro salad leaves like purple radish or cress
1 tablespoon shelled hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.
Steam the potatoes until tender, cool and cut in half. Using a potato masher crush the potatoes and place in a roasting tin with 1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix well. Sprinkle a little sea salt over the potatoes and place in the oven for about 30 minutes to become crisp and golden brown.

Place the salmon on a sheet of foil, season well and fold the foil into an envelope. Place the salmon on a roasting tin and cook in the oven with the potatoes for 10 minutes. Remove the salmon from the oven, leave to cool. Flake the salmon when cool enough to handle.

To make the dressing for the salad, crush half of the blueberries in a pestle and mortar and add 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp maple syrup. Season the dressing with a little salt and pepper and mix well.

Place the watercress, rocket leaves, red chicory leaves, sliced salad onion leaves and sliced cucumber on a serving dish.

Remove the potatoes from the oven when really crunchy and well browned and arrange on the salad leaves, together with the flaked salmon. Sprinkle the salad with the quinoa and lentils and dress with the blueberry, lemon and maple syrup dressing. Scatter the remaining blueberries over the salad together with any foraged nuts and sprigs of micro herbs.

*To cook quinoa. Place 30 g / 2 oz quinoa in a pan and cover with water. Cook for 12 minutes until the little tails appear from the grain.

Blackberry and apple muffins

Blackberry+and+apple+muffins-6This is such a colourful, romantic and interesting time of year if you like to be outside enjoying the last few rays of late summer sun. Blackberries, elderberries and windfall apples are everywhere. When I go running in the mornings I try to remember to take a plastic bag with me to gather any edible fruit or nuts I see.

Today I made something with them – just simple muffins spiked with chopped apple, blackberries and some lemon rind.

I made a dozen bite sized muffins and drizzled them with honey as they came out of the oven. You could add a pinch of cinnamon to the mix or even vanilla essence would be nice.


150g self raising flour

half tsp baking powder

25g cold unsalted butter cubed

75g of blackberries and apples, peeled, cored and cut into 2cm cubes

1 eggs, lightly beaten

110 ml milk

Finely grated zest from half a lemon

Honey for drizzling


Preheat to overn to 200c/400f/gas mark 6.

Line a tin with 12 mini muffin cases.

Mix the flour and baking powder together in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, lemon rind and the apple and blackberries.

In a separate bowl mix the eggs and milk then pour the mixture all at once into the dry ingredients and mix quickly.

Drop the batter into the muffin cases and bake for 10-15 minutes or until risen and golden and firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for ten minutes.

After ten minutes transfer to a cool rack and drizzle with a little warmed honey.



Scallops with lemon, mint & sea spaghetti

Scallops mint lemon sea spaghetti-5

Sea spaghetti has been described as mild crunchy and moreish. The young shoots are very good to eat and taste rather like salty asparagus. It’s one of the latest sea vegetables to appear on supermarket shelves and fishmonger’s counters. You see it coiled, rather beautifully, like long thin shoe laces waiting to be threaded. For those of you who live close to me in Ilkley I bought mine at Ramus Seafood Emporium.

Sea vegetables have become interesting to chefs recently appearing on menus at some of the best restaurants. Samuel and Samantha Clark of Moro, add seaweeds to salads and rice. “We try to be very seasonal, so it’s a great way, in these slightly barren months of winter, to add a little colour and texture,” says Samuel. They recommend crumbling dried, toasted sea spaghetti over paella, and is a fan of fresh or rehydrated sea lettuce in seafood salads: “It gives a lovely sort of iodine-y, sea taste which is really pretty unique.” (Quote from the Guardian)

This long, stringy sea vegetable is also known as thongweed or buttonweed and grows up to three meters. It forms dense mats near the shore. It is found around the British Isles but also the east Atlantic countries from Portugal to Norway.

Nutritionally it is interesting. A rich source of minerals including iodine, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium and phosphorous. It is of course high in sodium too – hence it’s salty taste. It also contains vitamin C, the B group vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoids and phenolics which all have healthful bioactive roles in the body. So it is a nutrient rich food.

I have used the sea spaghetti with a lovely recipe adapted from Russel Norman’s book ‘Polpo’. If you can get really fresh scallops give it a go either with or without the sea spaghetti.

The combination of mint and lemon is lovely with scallops and very quick to make. If you are not on a beach holiday now it will certainly remind you of one.

Scallops with lemon, mint and sea spaghetti

Just a note – the sea spaghetti can be quite salty so no need to add salt to the scallops. It can be added later if anyone wants it.

Serves 4 for as a starter


  • 4 scallops, cleaned and free from grit and sand
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, cut into ribbons
  • 25 g (a small handful) sea spaghetti, washed in plenty of cold water to remove some of the saltiness


Trickle the olive oil into a large frying pan and heat gently. Place the garlic in the oil and fry gently until it just begins to brown. Remove the garlic from the pan and discard.

Dribble half of the lemon juice in the pan and add the shreds of mint. Increase the heat under the pan and add the scallops. Cook for 4 – 5 minutes.

While the scallops are cooking, plunge the sea spaghetti in a small pan of boiling water for 2 minutes to heat through.

Place the scallops on a scallop shell if you have one (or a saucer would do), pour over some of the cooking juices and scatter over a few threads of sea spaghetti. Add more lemon juice and a grind of pepper to taste.

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