French Chocolate Cake/ Brownies in 4 Easy Steps


This deliciously luscious but amazingly simple to make chocolate recipe comes from France. It won the hearts of my daughter and her three school friends while they were staying with French families while attending a local French language school. One of the French mothers invited all the girls to her house and cooked them dinner and baked them a rich chocolate cake, the taste of which lingered in their tastebud memories for many months!
The mixture is amazingly versatile as it can be baked in a deep round or square cake tin or it can be baked in a large rectangular cake tin and cut into 12 to 16 brownies! You can halve the mixture to serve 6 to 8 portions. French Chocolate Cake is a great Birthday or party bake!

1 Melt 300g dark chocolate at least 70%cocoa content
300g butter Together in a bain marie or bowl placed over a pot of Simmering warm water. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

2. Beat 5 eggs and 430g castor sugar together with 3 drops of vanilla extract in a large bowl.

3 Add the melted chocolate and butter to the beaten egg mixture.

4 Sift 200g of self-raising flour into the mixture in the bowl.

Bake at 190 C for 30 mins in a large rectangular deep tin 28 cm x 34 cm approx for 12- 16 brownies or portions or
Bake in a 22cm square / round cake tin if you halve the mixture for 6-8 portions.
A great party cake or melt in the mouth Brownies to share with family or friends! Enjoy! indulge!



Bake in large rectangular deep cake tin or roasting tin lined with greaseproof paper.

A Citrus start to the Day

I love breakfast. To be more precise I love marmalade for breakfast, preferably eaten with home made brown bread or chunky toast. I have to admit I hated marmalade and jam as a child. Marmalade looked like a thinner version of jelly without the sweet fruity flavour. Years later I ‘discovered’ marmalade and jam while staying with my aunts in Dublin. The homemade version of course!
I enjoy travelling and tasting new foods or and the wider variety of vegetables and fruit. But I always miss that special start to the day that is marmalade on brown bread! So now I make my own marmalade. Seville oranges , with their strong fruity flavour, make great tasting marmalade but are only available here for a few weeks in January and February. So I now make a 3 fruit marmalade using grapefruit, oranges and lemons that can be made year round! It is very easy to make.

Orange, lemon and grapefruit marmalade.
2 oranges
2 lemons
2 grapefruit
Water to cover the fruit plus 1 litre of water
2 lbs granulated sugar
2 tbsp of whiskey ( optional )

Place all the fruits in a large pot, cover with water.
Bring the water to the boil and simmer for 1 hour.
Take the fruit out of the water and allow to cool. Discard the water.
Cut the fruit into quarters , discard pips, and use a spoon to scoop out the pulp.
Place fruit , pulp and 2 oz of the 1 litre into a liquidiser.
If you like peel in your marmalade don’t liquidise all the skins. Finely chop some of the orange and lemon skins and place in a pot along with the liquidises pulp and juice. Add the rest of the 1 litre of water.
Boil for 10 minutes , then reduce heat and add sugar and stir till dissolved.
Boil rapidly for 15 to 20 minutes.
Pour into sterilised jars.




Bairín Breac/ Halloween Brack an Irish Halloween Tradition

imageBairín Breac or Barm Brack or tea bread is an Irish Halloween tradition. Barm ( pronounced barn) is a cross between a tea bread and a cake as it contains lots of fruit which has been soaked in cold tea and whiskey!
The word brack comes from an old Irish word ‘breac’ which means speckled as in bread speckled with fruit. The word ‘ bairin’ means a loaf. It was an Irish custom to bake little gifts or items such as a ring, a matchstick, a coin , a pea , a button and a thimble! It was a fun and lighthearted form of fortune telling as the little gifts caused great excitement at tea time as everyone waited to see who would be lucky enough to get the ring! Finding the ring in your slice of brack meant a wedding within a year while a coin denoted wealth , a button a bachelor! The halloween brack was always buttered and eaten when having a cup of tea. image



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Bairín Breac Recipe from a family recipe and also Donal Skeehan’s recipe.
225 g plain flour
2 tsp of baking powder
350-370g of currants, raisins and sultanas
125g light brown sugar
Half tsp or 2.5 ml mixed spice
Half tsp or 2.5 ml cinnamon
50 ml of whiskey
250 ml of cold tea
1 egg
Put the dried fruit in a bowl and pour the cold tea and whiskey over it and leave to soak overnight or for a few hours.
Put the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and baking powder into a bowl. Add the beaten egg and fruit mixture and mix. The dough should be a wet or have a moist consistency. Pour into a lined 2 lb / 1 kg loaf tin. You can wrap a ring or coin in greaseproof paper and put it into the cake mixture in tin. This way you will know where the ring or gifts are which is important if children are going to have some! Bake in oven 180 Degrees C for approximately 1 hour. Cool on a wire wrack. This brack can be eaten fresh but tastes even better if wrapped in tin foil and stored for 2 or 3 days if there is any left!

An Afternoon of Spices and Nostalgia.

An Afternoon of Spices and Aromas.  I owe my late grandmother an apology.  One of her favourite phrases ‘Ginger is good for you’ came back to haunt me recently when I decided to make some Rhubarb and ginger jam.  I had decided  I did not like ginger, when I was seven,  after biting into a piece of the fresh ginger root that Gran used as a spice when making her rhubarb jam.  Last week, however, tucking into delicious scones and a selection of jams at a friend’s coffee morning,  I discovered that not only did I adore the combination of rhubarb and fresh ginger but it was very addictive! So I decided to find out more about rhubarb and of course ginger!   The first surprise was to discover rhubarb is a perennial vegetable although it is usually used in jams and desserts!  It was thought to have medicinal effects in ancient China.  Ginger  is mainly grown in Australia, India, China and Africa.  It is aromatic, zesty and spicy so naturally adds great flavour to food.  But it also has therapeutic properties and has anti- oxidant and anti- inflammatory effects. I decided to make my own rhuburb and ginger jam using a combination of recipes and tips from Rachel Allen, Good Housekeeping Recipes and A Family recipe.

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam image image image image image image

2lbs Rhuburb

2 lbs sugar ( I used 4oz less as it would be very sweet)

3 tabsp of freshly grated ginger

Juice 2 or 3 lemons

or 3 oz water

Put on low heat to dissolve sugar and then boil for 15 – 25 minutes until set . Put in heated sterilised jars.