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RECIPE: Foraged Elderflower Cordial


May / June (depending on the weather) is when the hedgerows in Sussex begin to fill to the brim with Elderflower.  A few years ago our Autumn hedgerows could be foraged at our leisure for the brambles and sloes to make our Autumn foraged foods… but the trend for all things home made has seen us have to strategically plan our hedgerow attack..  to ensure we dont get pipped to the post!

At the moment Elderflowers are still not widely harvested… so our stash is safe for now and we are making bumper batches to keep in the larder.  Over the years I have used different recipes – but have decided that this version makes the most potent brew with the least amount of ‘faffing’

Firstly pick your heads on a dry (preferably sunny) morning – for maximum flavour.  The flowers should be in bloom – neither in bud nor wilting brown..  and I pick the whole head and count the bounty like this.

For my recipe you will need 30 heads of elderflowers – which makes approximately 1.5 litres of cordial.


  • 30 Elderflower Heads (pick them on the morning of making)
  • 1.5 litre of water
  • 1.5kg sugar
  • 3 unwaxed lemons
  • Campden tablet (optional)


  1. Gently shake the flower heads and leave then in a bowl in the shade for any bugs to scuttle away. DO NOT WASH.
  2. Boil the water
  3. Zest and slice the lemons and place in a large bowl along with the sugar
  4. Put the flowers in the bowl too and pour over the boiling water
  5. Gently stir until the sugar is dissolved
  6. Leave to steep for at least 24 hours – covered with a teatowel
  7. Place a muslin in a seive and place this over a large pan – pour over your concoction and allow to drain into the pan
  8. Gently bring to the boil and then allow to simmer (bubble gently not furiously) for 10 minutes
  9. Meanwhile prepare your bottles by running through the dishwasher or rinsing under a hot tap
  10. Using a funnel – pour the cordial into the bottles and close
  11. NOTE: The citrus stops the cordial fermenting and so this should keep for about a month in the fridge.  If you want it to store for longer you can replace the lemons with 7g of citric or tartaric acid …  or just before bottling you can add a dissolved campden tablet, used in winemaking, which means you can store your produce for up to 1 year!

My favourite mix?  A large dash of cordial, an measure of botanical gin topped with soda water and a cucumber icecube..  a taste of Summer






Recipe: Sussex Autumn Apple Cake

Last weekend we picked our first apples from our new Red Russet tree.  Sweet and crisp (and disease resilient), we think they did really well in such a rubbish fruit crop year.  We managed to get about 2kg of fruit, so munched some, stored some and decided to make a twist on my apple cake especially for the first crop.. it is super gooey and moist and delicious hot or cold.

As promised, here is my recipe:


  • 500g Apples
  • 175g Unsalted Butter
  • 175g light brown soft sugar
  • 2tbsp demerara sugar (to sprinkle on top, you can use more light brown if you like)
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g sultanas


  1. Preheat oven t0 160 c
  2. Grease and line the bottom of a 20cm loose bottom tin
  3. Peel, Core and slice your apples, put in a pan with a splash of water, cover and simmer for 10 mins or until soft.
  4. Meanwhile cream/beat  your butter and sugar in your mixer for at least 5 mins until super light brown (for an extra light cake)
  5. Beat in the vanilla, then eggs 1 at a time – (NOTE you can add 1 tbsp of the flour out of your flour quantity with each egg to stop the mix ‘curdling’
  6. Add the cooled apples and sultana – mix
  7.  Sift the  rest of the flour, baking powder and spices together, add to your mix and fold in thoroughly
  8. Pour into your cake pan
  9. Smooth out the top and sprinkle on the demerara sugar
  10. Bake for 55 mins until golden and a skewer comes out clean
  11. Serve warm or cold with cream, ice cream, custard or a lovely cup of tea

Enjoy x

DIY Recipe: Button Card Cookies

Loving these bite size Button Cookies by Sugar and Meringue… and how gift giving cute are they stitched onto these cards… genius!


Calendar: Happy Fourth of July!

Patriotic fever passes over the pond to the Americans today as it is the annual fourth of July celebrations…

So get out the patriotic red white and blue decorations and maybe dip a few strawberries in white chocolate and blue sugar for some added pzazz!

DIY TIP: to dye sugar put some plain sugar in a small food bag and add a drop of food colouring.  Roll around the bag and contents until the sugar is coated in the food colouring to the desired colour.  Make sure to add a bit at a time otherwise the sugar will become wet and clump!

DIY Spectrum of Frosting Colours

I do rather like the blog of anna and blue paperie..  but I totally loved it after this wonderfull DIY photo chart on how to make a full spectrum of frosting colours for your cake.

Genius!   The pictures are duly printed and in my recipe folder

.. and Quilted Cookies

…  more crafty cookies!  Yes I thought I would also share this patchwork quilt also baked by Sugar and Meringue.  Who like all their projects give you full instructions and recipes (but sadly not the skill or steady hand!)

I think the Granny Square ones are still my favourite

Granny Square Cookies!

Oh my gosh…  regular readers will know of my Granny Square addiction (hence design things like our popular Granny Square Cross Stitch Kit).. and whilst browsing the web yesterday I stumbled upon instructions for the most divine Granny Square cookies from Sugar and Meringue.

I am not the most patient cookie decorator – but I am so going to have a go at making these!  But may just find them too cute to eat.

Granny Square Cookies!

Oh my gosh…  regular readers will know of my Granny Square addiction (hence design things like our popular Granny Square Cross Stitch Kit).. and whilst browsing the web yesterday I stumbled upon instructions for the most divine Granny Square cookies from Sugar and Meringue.

I am not the most patient cookie decorator – but I am so going to have a go at making these!  But may just find them too cute to eat.

How to make Cake Pops

As promised here are the basic premise of how to make cake pops.. now the Americans love to use cake mixes and ready made frostings in a lot of their books on cupcakes and pops.  I have used my own cakes and buttercreams – and Ange (aka BAKERELLA) does these in her CAKE POP book too.. but for the first attempt I used Betty Crocker Devils Food cake and a Betty Crocker vanilla Icing

You will need:
Betty Crocker Box of Devils Food Cake (9x13inch tin)
Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting Tub (3/4 exactly)
I Bag of Coloured candy coating drops (>>BUY HERE)
48 lolly sticks (>>BUY HERE)
A flower oasis or polystyrene slab for drying!

Make up the cake mix and cook as instructed
Let the cake cool
Crumble in a bowl until super fine crumbs
Add in 3/4 of the frosting tub and mix
**do not add too much as the mix will be too wet
Mix well and roll into 48 balls
Put in the fridge for 2 hours
You take then take out and shape in other cutters (see my hearts) or you are ready to coat
Put the candy drops in a bowl and melt in microwave as instructed
Make sure bowl is not too wide as the deeper the dip the better!
Dip in the lolly stick and then put in a ball
Dip the whole ball in the coating **not real chocolate does not melt or coat as easily as the candy coatings and they taste delicious!
Put the stick in the oasis to allow to set ** you will see that I did not have an oasis so put holes in a box.. it worked but was not the easiest solution!

Ta da… simple cake pops.   We also made some from our own cake recipes – and they were just as good but a bit harder to get the consistency right. Some ended up too moist so we couldnt have them on sticks :(

As a lot of the cake ingredients and decorating bits are not available in super markets – we have pulled them together in a special section of our MIX TAPE store.  Let us know how you get on.  Prizes for our favourites on our facebook page.

Cake Pop Lady

 This week I received my CAKE POPS book by the American blogger BAKERELLA, who is credited with taking a cake ball and making it into a crafty phenomenon!  I have been an avid fan of her blog for a while, and her party tips and tricks are super inspirational..
With her coloured candy coatings, sweet trimmings and edible pens she creates some amazing spectacles like the POPCORN pops (white chocolate, food dye pens and mini marshmallows)… Mini Robots (cheerios!) or even the simple delights of the pink and chocolate balls.
YUM!…  so I set about buying all the things to make my own and experimented with BLUE ones (see top pic) for my boys….  I have posted a separate post taking you through my ‘how I made that’.
Ange’s book has super easy instructions and her happy words and style sure rubs off on you! 
If you also follow her blog you will be aware that she is currently very poorly and has just had her second kidney transplant…  her attitude is as positive and sunny as ever, and I am posting this today for you to hopefully share in her talented delights..
Ange GET WELL SOON…  and gosh almightly your pops taste good!

Midnight Jam Making for Dad

 After our bumper crop strawberry picking at the local PYO..  work has been madly busy *quietly drowning in artwork* so I set about being a mad woman, making my annual runny strawberry jam at midnight to “wind down”….
You can see that the fruits of our labour nearly boiled over my jam pan..  and also made the most delightful flower pattern in the deathly hot bubbles!…  yes I did lose the plot slightly.
Anyhow…  recipe complete it is Mr H’s favourite – so along with some homemade meringues, treacle popcorn and our sloe gin stash… we used some of the new DIY PRINTABLES to create these SUPER DAD labels for our presents on fathers day…
He was chuffed and we tucked in too!

Laduree Obsessions

 For those of you who are regular readers… you will know that I am a fan of baking – and have had an obsession with Laduree Macarons since I first went to Paris aged 12 and thought they were the most glamorous things I had ever seen…  The wonderful story of Ladurée began in 1862, when Louis Ernest Ladurée opened a bakery in the very heart of Paris at 16, rue Royale… starting the trend for the Parisienne Salon du The.  Their website today is gloriously fabulous and a joy to visit.
The counters are like apothecaries and jewellers at the same time – and this school girl visit started my obsession with patisserie and I love that recently (like many old school crafts) the modern Parisienne Patisserie has a seen new breed of modern twists on old classics…
Laduree however still cannot be touched for their simple delights and the way that they over package them is not one for the eco-chic among you!  But for me – I have kept every single box and upcycled it into a new use reminding me of their perma pleasure..
For my birthday my husband bought me their new cook book – which after many years they have disclosed a number of their until now super secret recipes!  The book itself with its gold leaf pages is a delight – wrapped in glassine paper and boxed as if the most precious of jewels..
My first attempt at delicate orange flower and rose macarons however was not of the standard (see bottom pic) but they looked pretty enough and tasted divine.
I have a long way to go as a patisserie chef .. but am certainly enjoying the journey!
Laduree Sucre can be purchased here

Easter Bunny Baking

It has been a long sunny holiday..  which with lots of children in the house has taken its toll at times..  so yesterday we decided to make some little Easter Biscuits, which the kids took hours decorating, and I loved the results…  so we thought we would share..

Easter Sugar Cookies..
You will need:
200g Butter
275g Caster Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 egg
400g Plain Flour
1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar

Baking Trays (about 3) lined with baking paper

To Make:
Heat Oven to 180o C.
Cream Butter, Sugar and Vanilla together in a mixer until super soft and fluffy
Add in 1 egg and beat
Add flour and cream of tartar and beat in well until you have a soft and light dough
Lightly dust your work surface and roll out the dough to about 5mm thick
Cut out your shapes (lightly reknead and roll out any scraps)
Lay on the tray and bake for approx 10 mins – but keep an eye out so that the edges are just tinged gold and the inside still pale – otherwise they are over cooked!
Leave on a rack to cool

To Decorate:
Wait until cool – and you can eat as they are … or take your time decorating them as you will!

200g Icing Sugar – mixed with a dribble of water to make a thick paste
and / or Set of icing decorating tubes from the supermarket for ease if required
Plus a little of whatever you fancy!

Then tuck in as quickly as you can!

An ode to the Custard Cream

 I am a bit partial to retro biscuits.. and in particular the Custard Cream and Bourbon Biscuit.  The thrifty girl in me likes that they are only 40p a packet (even in Waitrose) and yet are still hard to beat in the tea time stakes! 
So with this in mind – I thought I would share with you this fantastic biscuit tin that Mr H bought me  for Christmas,  which was cracked open yesterday with a very large mug of tea!  Happy Days!
Each member of our clan has their nostalgic fave … my sons favourite is the Jammy Dodger and my daughter is a bourbon girl..  whilst Mr H is partial to anything from Tunnocks (teacakes, caramel wafers etc etc choc fest) .. so I am about to launch a range of Kitchen art based on said tea time muses…
Cup cakes PAH… bring out the biscuit tin!

Hot Chocolate Delights

Today is FREEZING and dispite running around packing and fulfilling our Christmas rush.. we were in need of a little ‘pick me up’…  so here cometh the MOTHER OF ALL HOT CHOCOLATES

Hot chocolate in a super sized cup – with a dash of Creme De Menthe (tastes like Mint Aero) … topped with whipped cream, marshmallows and cinnamon and chocolate.

Took all of about 1 minute for both me and Mr H to devour them… YUM

Chewy Toffee Teeth Breakers

 We had some folks round at the weekend… and have been trying out new as well as tried and tested confectionary recipes for our Christmas Hampers this year… 
I have to say we were thrilled at the results from our BONFIRE RECIPES which we tried out on our friends.  Chewy and divine – you have to limit yourself if you treasure your gums!
Any new ideas welcome

Recipe: Toffee Apples for Bonfire night

It is that time of year again!!  visit the dentist, and pull out the toffee pan as it is BONFIRE NIGHT!

Last year – I shared the gum breaking joys of  Grandma Dora’s bonfire toffee…still a must I glad to say in our household (note to self: when exactly is that diet going to start!)

My wonderful, colourful Grandma Dora has been a huge inspiration for me, but her legacy of colour, pattern and hit family recipes live on and her influence on my style is obvious to anyone who knew her.

So this year I am going to share recipe number 2 – TOFFEE APPLES – best made with mini British Apples (of course) – we used our surplus from the Apple Bobbing antics of our Halloween Party…


225g demerara sugar
110 ml water
A drizzle of vinegar
2 tablespoons of golden syrup
25g butter
6 best English apples
6 wooden skewers
An oiled (or lined with baking paper) baking tray

Put the water and sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan
Heat gently at first, stiring, until all the sugar is completely dissolved.
Add the vinegar, golden syrup and butter and bring to a vigorous boil.
After about 10 minutes it will reach the “hard-crack” stage – which means it hardens into a ball when you drop a teaspoon of it into a jug of cold water.
While the syrup is cooking, pierce each apple with a wooden stick.
When the toffee is ready, dip each apple into the pan toffee,  coating it completely in the gorgeous golden goo!
Place on the baking tray to set and cool.
Wrap with pretty cello wrap or grease proof white paper and ribbon as little bonfire gifts.


Pumpkin Bread Rolls

Today is our Halloween party – and we have been baking all morning – including these (I’m very chuffed with them) pumpkin rolls for the kids…

We simply made up the bread as normal – and at the second knead we popped them into oiled shaped silicon moulds (meant to be for cakes)… Baked as normal rolls for 10 mins – and voila!

Not sure how much of the bread will be left for the troops – as we are a little fond of it fresh with a mound of butter (see half eaten loaf!)

Enjoy!  (Note these are NOT pumpkin flavour – just shape!.. as the kids love them)

500g  strong white flour
1 tsp (or 6g sachet) quick yeast
pinch salt
25g butter from fridge
300ml water (warm)

Rub Butter into the flour
Stir in the yeast and salt
In a well in the middle add the water and mix up into a dough
Knead in a mixer with hook for 5 mins (or floured surface for 10)
Oil a clean bowl and place ball in there
Cover with damp clean teatowel
Leave in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size
‘knock back’ – knead for another 5 minutes
form into loaf and place in 2lb loaf tin ** or cut up into 12 large or 18 mini rolls to put into the pumkin or other moulds…
Cover with teatowel again and leave to rise for 30mins
Meanwhile super hot oven on at 220oC
Place in the oven for 30mins for a loaf or 10 mins for rolls

second kneading is when you shape into little rolls
pop into moulds

and here you go!

fresh wholemeal made with our local farmers new flour..  lasted 2 minutes

Ben 10 Birthday for Baking Week

Last week my son turned 3 – and he is obsessed by Ben 10.  Filled with alien forces, baddies and lots of monsters – its pure boy! He had not even seen it – but his friends are mad on the whole thing and he was thrilled with his OMNITRIX…  a whole new learning curve for me! 
Anyhow – the cakes were instructed to be Ben 10 which involved a LOT of black icing paste and dying sugar lime green!.. (my daughters idea) and seeing as it was BAKING WEEK we do love a challenge!
All a bit mad – but I have to say even the girls were thrilled with the rocket launcher OMNITRIX cake & candles and liked the sparkly mini matching cup cakes.

So for those of you who followed the “black tongue” palava on twitter (and no I am not posting a picture of that – far too surreal!) her are some pics!
Peow Peow – as Mr Finlay says!

PS – for those who asked to how to make the coloured sparkly topping – to dye granualated sugar you simply put a small amount of sugar in a plastic freezer bag and add a teeny tiny tad of dye (green and yellow for the lime!)

Autumn Harvest

 This weekend we had our farmers market in Arundel and it was also the inaugral Food Festival in the town.  Celebrating all that was local and fresh –  the local farmers were out in full force showing their wares!

We are big fans of Daylands Farm – as they are the epitome of a small local freehold who grows popular but also a couple of ‘crazy crops’ to provide something a little different.  This year they have gone Gourd and Squash crazy – trialling a mad variety of Pumpkins, Squashes and decorative fare. 

We bought up the super sized pumpkin, pumpkins, 5 varieties of squash and lots of gourds ready for our Halloween Party decorations.  We will let you know how we got on with the various recipes – but our quick lunch on Saturday was roasted squash, which was mashed up with 1 boiled potato, butter, cream and a tablespoon of dijon to make the most divine mash to go with our new season Venison sausages….  winter fare indeed.

Also in town was the local Cross Bush Farm Shop, who bought along their combined harvester and lots of old tools and different grains for the kids to touch and feel!  My 2 were straight up onto the combined harvester ….  and then we popped off home to make some bread with his freshly milled flour… and dry the last of the madly coloured autumn flowers for christmas decorations.

The kids had a ball – and it was one of those days when we felt a little bit in love with Sussex and the town where we live – especially on sunny Autumn days like these.


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