Thursday’s afternoon tea… today is the day for Thor cake

Thursday is named after the god Thor… as it is afternoon tea week, and yesterday i shared a recipe for one cake, here is a story from a while ago, andFTERN a recipe for the appropriately named Thor’s cake to sit beside it on the cake stand:

I mentioned a little while ago, a delightful book by Alison Uttley. ‘Recipes From an Old farmhouse’, and one of cakes mentioned was the mysterious Thor cake… whether there is any connection with the Norse god I don’t know, but it is more likely that the word derives from Old English, þeorf, meaning plain… but candied peel, spices and treacle doesn’t sound a plain cake to me, especially with lashings of butter!  It was also called Thar cake by some people and originates in Derbyshire where it was made and eaten in the autumn, especially for Guy Fawkes Day. It is a very old recipe… and may even have been made to celebrate Halloween pre-Fawkes! The name also might be related to the word ‘parkin’, that gorgeous gingerbread made in the north of England!

In the north of England there used to be annual week’s holidays called Wakes Week; in Oldham where I lived for many years it was in the summer, last week in June, first in July, where traditionally the mills would be shut for the workers to have a well-deserved rest; in Derbyshire, according to Mrs Uttley it was in November and a fair would come to the village with swings and merry-go-rounds. This was when Thor Cake would be made and eaten as a morning snack, spread with butter.

Thor Cake… according to Alison Uttley:

  • ½ lb oatmeal
  • ½ butter
  • ½ lb Demerara sugar
  • 4 oz black treacle
  • ½ oz ground ginger
  • pinch of salt, mace and nutmeg
  • 4 oz candied peel
  • 1 egg
  1. Warm the butter and treacle together
  2. mix with the dry ingredients and the egg
  3. mix thoroughly then knead it like bread
  4. roll out to a thickness of about 2 inches
  5. place on a greased and lined tin
  6. cook for about ¾ hour at  190C, 375F, or gas mark 5 until the cake is done
  7. cut into slices as needed, butter, eat, enjoy!

I have seen other recipes where it is put in a loaf tin and then sliced when cold, but some of those recipes add self-raising flour… there are plenty of other recipes available if you’re interested, but this is Alison Uttley’s version! I am going to make it and I’ll let you know how it turns out!


Links to my afternoon tea stories:

… and a link to my e-books and my recently published paperback, Radwinter:


Wednesday – anyone for tea?

It’s afternoon tea week!! On Sunday in inadvertent anticipation, I shared my treacle scones recipe, then on Monday I had a look at the afternoon tea menu from the Ritz in London… just a little beyond my pocket! Yesterday I discovered the wonderfully named shooting star open sandwich – doesn’t the name just  make you want to wolf it down? So today, I’m thinking about cake… you have to have cake with a proper afternoon tea.

On Sunday, and again at the time I didn’t realise it was going to be ATW (afternoon tea week) and I made a delicious cake by one of my favourite cooks, Maryam, who shares some yumptious Persian recipes and is going to publish a book of them next year (I’m sure she is excited, so am I!) It caught my eye not only because the picture looked so enticing, but also it sounded interesting, olive oil, squash, pistachios? Sounds good to me. So I made it – I’ve had trouble with cakes using oil before, but not this one!! So delicious!! Don’t just take my word for it, here’s a link to the recipe, go ahead, make it! The recipe works and it’s yummy:

So for my afternoon tea I would definitely have this… and what else, you have to have at least two types of cake!

Going back to Wednesday, named after Woden the Norse god, it’s not necessarily a great day to be born, Wednesday’s child is full of woe… and the Irish and Scottish name for the day refers to fasting… not a cake day then… I’m struggling to find a cake associated with Wednesday or with Woden, but a further link is the planet mercury – so… according to Vedic astrology mung beans are the thing for Wednesday… but no, not for cakes! However, on another site I find that mercury in astrological medicine from the sixteenth century, is associated with carrots and nuts!! What does this mean? it means carrot cake! My favourite!!

Here is a version with pineapple as well, and desiccated coconut. it is so moist and delicious!

Carrot, pineapple and coconut cake

  • 9 oz plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 7 oz brown sugar
  • 5½ fl oz oil (following my recent success with Maryam’s cake I now use olive oil)
  • 2 medium carrots finely grated, or processed (but not to a mush – the bits have to be carroty still)
  • 8½ oz crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 2 oz desiccated coconut
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (as I don’t like cinnamon I would use mixed spice or allspice)
  • cream cheese frosting (3 oz cream cheese, 2 oz butter, 11 oz icing sugar – I like a lemon flavour but you can add vanilla if you prefer)
  • nuts of your choice to decorate I like walnuts, pecan or pistachio but have what you like
  1. prepare a 9×9 cake tin (greased and lined)
  2. mix dry ingredients
  3. add all the other ingredients and mix well, really well
  4. bake at 350° F, 180° C, gas mark 4 for about 35 mins (this is what the recipe says, in my oven it takes  another 15-20 mins) check and take out if done, or leave in for a few more minutes
  5. when cool, decorate with the frosting and nuts


Links to my afternoon tea stories:

… and a link to my e-books and my recently published paperback, Radwinter:


Afternoon tea week… it’s Tuesday!

It’s afternoon tea week – I didn’t know until yesterday that there was such a thing… is it a thing? Yes apparently it’s a thing (I’ve also been writing about ‘things’) As it is Tuesday today I wondered if there were any particular Tuesday treats which would be nice for today’s afternoon tea.

The name Tuesday comes from the ancient Germanic/Viking god Týr – many stories, myths and legends connected to him, but as far as I could find out, not cakes, pastries, scones or eclairs (well, of course not – I am being a bit silly) However I did find a popular and decadent sounding open sandwich on the menu in a Danish place whose name comes from Týr. There are quite a lot of Scandinavian places with links in their names, and on English one:

  • Tuesley, England – Tīw’s clearing
  • Tisvilde,  Denmark –  Týr’s spring
  • Tissø, ,Denmark – Týr’s lake
  • Thisted,  Denmark – Týr’s place”
  • Tiveden, Sweden – Týr’s wood
  • Tyrsjön (2) – Sweden – Tyr Lake

The open sandwich I found is actually found in lots of Danish places and lots of Danish menus (although I’ve never seen anyone eating one in any of the Danish crime dramas I watch!) It’s called ‘shooting star sandwich’ – wouldn’t that be just wonderful on an afternoon tea menu! However, it is often quite a large sandwich, more of a light meal really, but you could make a petite and delicate one – or lille og delikat as they might say in Denmark.

Here is a list of ingredients (everyone’s recipe seems different)  which you arrange beautifully on some buttered rye bread:

Stjerneskud  – shooting star open sandwich

  • fried filet of sole/plaice
  • smoked/cured  salmon/pickled herring
  • cod’s roe/caviar
  • prawns
  • asparagus
  • dill
  • lettuce
  • optional tomatoes
  • dressing/mayonnaise/marie rose sauce
  • lemon wedges

As with all ‘traditional’ recipes there seem a hundred and one different versions. If I’m ever lucky enough to go to Denmark, I shall see if I can find one!

Here’s a link to my ‘thing’ post:


Afternoon Tea Week

I had no idea when I shared my recipe for treacle scones yesterday that this is Afternoon Tea Week! Perhaps I should pretend I knew all along and I was merely heralding it! From today 14th August to the weekend, it is, apparently the time to celebrate afternoon tea.

Of course afternoon tea is not just a cup of tea and a couple of delicious scones… afternoon tea is delicate sandwiches, beautiful cakes, buns and eclairs! The idea started in the nineteenth century, when for the lah-di-dahs, it seemed a jolly long time between luncheon at midday and dinner at eight, so the idea of having a gentile little affair of posh and tasty niceties began to become fashionable. Ordinary working folk had dinner when they got home from their labours and then probably went to bed, in order to get up at whatever unearthly hour was required to work on someone else’s farm or in someone else’s factory or down someone else’s mine.

Now afternoon tea is a treat everyone can enjoy – at home, or with friends, or out somewhere in one of the many tea rooms which have sprung up. Some places are prohibitively grand, the Ritz in London for example; sandwiches on the Ritz’s £54 per person afternoon tea menu include:

  • ham with grain mustard mayonnaise on white bread
  • cheddar cheese with chutney on onion bread
  • cucumber with cream cheese, dill and chives on caraway seed bread
  • chicken breast with horseradish cream on white bread
  • Scottish smoked salmon with lemon butter on rye bread
  • egg mayonnaise with chopped shallots and watercress on white bread

and in the scone and pastry line…

  • freshly baked raisin and plain scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserve
  • an assortment of British afternoon tea pastries and cake

As for your nice cuppa… you have a choice at the Ritz:

  • Earl Grey Imperial
  • Chocolate Mint Rooibos
  • Russian Caravan
  • Moroccan Mint
  • Dragon Pearls
  • The Ritz Chai
  • Ritz Royal English
  • Darjeeling First Flush
  • Assam Tippy Orthodox
  • Ceylon Orange Pekoe.
  • Oolong Formosa
  • Rose Congou
  • Lapsang Souchong
  • Chun Mee

Of course, if you want to add a little sparkle to your afternoon, why not have a glass of champagne? It does put the price up a little – £71 – £74… with a celebration cake and the champagne, the whole thing is £84.

I think I might just prefer the estemable Lion Rock Tea Room in Cheddar…

I can’t mention teh Ritz without thinking of this:


A picnic with the National Mark

I was writing somewhere else about picnics, and I suppose I had picnics in my min when I was looking at my little National Mark Calendar of Cooking book from 1936. Maybe I wouldn’t pack a picnic for us with dishes from the little recipe book, but supposing I was writing about a family in the 1930’s who were going on a picnic, what might they take with them?

Mother no doubt would prepare it all, and I can imagine it in a traditional whisker basket or hamper, lined with a blue and white checked cloth. Father would find the right spot to lay out the rugs and cloth, and he would light the Primus stove to make tea.

Mother might have made sandwiches with the National Mark recipe for brown bread (wholemeal flour, yeast, butter, sugar, salt and tepid water) and maybe they would have beef in them. Collared beef (‘very delicious served cold‘) is beef simmered for a long time with onions, herbs (parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram)and spices (mace, cloves, bayleaf, allspice, pepper, celery seeds) – that would be delicious indeed in sandwiches! There were no plastic pots and tubs then, so I guess the salad was either brought as separate ingredients and prepared  sitting on the picnic rug, or maybe prepared and put into a bowl and wrapped in grease-proof paper. There is a lovely selection of salads in the June chapter:

  • celery leaf
  • lettuce and green peas
  • tomato and celery
  • cheese
  • rice, ham and tomato
  • cauliflower

Beef mayonnaise is another option instead of one of the salads above; cubes of beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, hard-boiled eggs and home-made mayonnaise (made with olive oil – it’s not just a recent fashion, pre-war cooks used it too!) There are lots of lovely desserts in this little book, desserts which would be practical to bring on a picnic. A sort of clafoutis made with plums, blackcurrant and almond paste tart, strawberry flan, gooseberry tart – and to go with the cup of tea father has made, fruit and nut cake or raisin brown bread. Father himself might prefer the cider cup!

My featured image, by the way is of my own  family on a picnic – a long time after the war I have to say!

Not sure about these August recipes

I’;m looking at my little 1936 National Mark Calendar of Cooking; as the name suggests, this little recipe book offers seasonal dishes throughout the year, making use of whatever produce is available and at is best this month.

So this month there is a delicious selection of fresh fruit – including blackcurrant, cherries, gooseberries, loganberries, plums and red currants – our seasons have so changed in eighty years that the cherries and currants are all gone now, and vegetables including artichokes, beans of various sorts, beetroot, cucumbers and tomatoes.

There are two tomato recipes… and I really don’t think I would like either… maybe it’s just me, or maybe tastes have changed dramatically since 1936.

Tomato Ice

This is rather good as a first course, or as a soft cocktail.

  • tomatoes
  • cayenne
  • salt and pepper
  1. make a purée of some raw tomatoes by rubbing them through a coarse sieve
  2. strain through a fine sieve
  3. season with salt, pepper and cayenne
  4. freeze to what is technically known as ‘a mush’

‘A mush’ – I find a lot of humour in this little book. I’m not sure, I haven’t been able to find out, but I feel that the writer – from the two authors Ambrose heath and Dorothy Cottington-Taylor,  is Mr Heath. However, I really don’t find tomato mush appealing as either a first course or a soft cocktail – whatever the alcohol added!

Tomato jelly salad

  1. ¾ lb tomatoes
  2. ½ an onion, sliced
  3. 1 lettuce
  4. a little diced celery when in season
  5. ½ tsp sugar
  6. celery salt
  7. bayleaf
  8. 2 cloves
  9. salt
  10. ¼ pint hot water
  11. ½ oz gelatine
  12. mayonnaise
  • stew the tomatoes with the onions, celery, sugar, cloves, bayleaf, celery salt
  • rub through a seive
  • dissolve the gelatine in water and add to the tomato purée
  • when almost cold, pour into small, wetted, individual moulds
  • when set, turn out and serve on lettuce leaves
  • garnish with a tsp of mayonnaise

Of course, these days we can have almost whatever we want whatever the season; so if we wanted tomatoes or celery at any time at all, they would always be available! No, tomato jelly woudl not appeal – not so much the flavour, more the texture would be strange!


My cup of tea

I pick up a free food magazine from Waitrose every month; for some reason with magazines, I start at the back and work my way to the front – I have no idea why. The back page in the Waitrose magazine is always an interview with a well-known person, not always a cook or chef or food writer, but sports people, journalists, actors etc. The same sort of questions are asked, but it’s not a rigid list.

This month it is the actor Jack Davenport; if you’re interested in him you can get the magazine, but here I am asking myself most of the same questions – no point in asking me about living in new York because I don’t and have only visited once.

  • What’s your earliest food memory? The house being filled with the smell of  Seville oranges as my dad made marmalade – called parmalade because pa made it!
  • Have you ever had a major kitchen disaster? We were making a Tudor style banquet for a friend who was leaving for a new job; we made marchpains – or at least we tried to. There was no internet to find recipes, and the recipe I had was vague to say the least. I made them in a decorative bun tin, I put all sorts of pretty things on top, almonds, candied peel etc, and put them in the oven… the marzipan welded itself to the bun tin and we had to throw the whole thing out. Ever since this has been known as The Battle of the Marchpains.
  • Favourite chef? Such a hard question – Claudia Rodin is my favourite I guess, but also loving recipes from Emma Spicer, Joudie Kalla and Tanya Maher – enjoying their new cookery books, but my go to on-line is Ozlem Warren – her recipes never fail!
  • Eat out or eat in? Like most ordinary people, however much we would like to eat out more regularly, it’s nearly always eat in.
  • Do you have a favourite restaurant? The Driehoek where we go when we are in the Netherlands with our friends, , Green Olive in Bridgwater, Tidbits in London, Turkish Villa in Brighton – yes I know that’s four – and once in a lifetime The Source, Mona, Hobart, Tasmania
  • Which British foods would you find it hardest to give up? I love British food, but I love other cuisines, so not sure on that one… most people say Marmite… well, that’s true! Proper English tea, breakfast tea – I miss that when we’re travelling! – oh and real milk to go in tea!
  • Is there anything you won’t eat? Over cooked vegetables
  • What’s lunch on a working day? Usually biscuits and cheese – rye crispbread or corn thins at the moment, and any good cheese from anywhere in the world, cow, sheep, goat. At this time of the year it’s home-grown tomatoes, straight from the vine.
  • What’s your take on vegetarianism? Love no-meat food, also like lots of vegan food as long as it’s not pretending to be meat. Vegan sausages? No thank you!
  • Do you have a guilty food pleasure? Licorice is not safe in this house!! But my really, really, guilty food secret is baklava…
  • Pizza or pasta? Not that fussed with either, I eat less than one pizza a year… pasta is ok, but I don’t often eat it.
  • What destination is next on your foodie hit list? I would love to sample more from the restaurant at Mona… but that’s not likely… more likely is to travel round Turkey, sampling lots of different regional food.
  • What’s the best biscuit for dunking? I DON’T DUNK. The whole idea is disgusting.
  • How do you take your tea? Strong, fresh, a little bit of milk. A friend brought me some special rooibus from Namibia, and that is gorgeous!