Eton Mess Cake

This recipe is courtesy of the BBC Good Food website which I picked as I had some end of life strawberries to use up and was perfect for afternoon tea with the family when they recently visited.

What you need:

225g plain flour
100g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
200g golden caster sugar
175g unsalted butter
5 tbsp double cream
1 tsp vanilla
5 large eggs
400g strawberries – ½ roughly chopped, ½ finely sliced
4 meringues nests (roughly broken up)
Sprinkle of icing sugar, to serve

What you do:

  1. Grease and line a deep traybake tin (ideally 20x30cm, although mine isn’t quite that).  Heat your oven to 160°c.
  2. Melt the butter then take off the heat and stir in the cream and the vanilla.
  3. Mix the flour, almonds, baking powder and ¼ tsp fine salt and set aside.
  4. Put the caster sugar and eggs into a large bowl, and whisk with electric whisk until very thick and foamy, this takes about 5-6 mins.
  5. Pour in the butter mix, whisk, then add the flour mix and whisk briefly again until mixed.
  6. Stir in the chopped strawberries, then pour the batter into the tin and level the top.
  7. Sprinkle the sliced strawberries and meringue over the cake.
  8. Bake for 40-45 mins until risen and a skewer comes out clean.  I did end up increasing my oven’s heat to 180°c for the final 15 mins as it wasn’t baking or rising.
  9. Cool for 20 mins in the tin, then transfer to a cooling rack.
  10. Serve with a sprinkle of icing sugar if required.

There’s nothing particularly healthy or reduced anything about this recipe so I had a day off from the dieting plan!

Until next time….happy baking!


#Recipe – Apple & Cranberry Traybake

So, who’s watching the new series of the Great British Bake Off then? Me, me, me! I admit, I miss Mary in particular but I’m not bothered who’s presenting it as long as it’s on the tele, ok the adverts are a pain but does anyone watch live tv anymore? That’s why we have recorders (or whatever they’re called).  Anyway, this week was fruity cake week and they were warned that they’re hard to get right.  And oh weren’t they right.

I was given a windfall of fruit this week, mostly apples and rhubarb so then went scouring the Weight Watchers site for a suitable recipe (because I’m still on that diet..sorry lifestyle change) or something that I could adapt and therein lay the problem – I thought I could adapt an established recipe and get away with it and so , I could have named this post several titles: Recipe for Disaster, When Things Don’t Go To Plan, How to Waste Time and Food or Disaster Baking to name but a few.

If you’re interested this is the recipe:

You need:
50g caster sugar
100g low fat spread (I used Flora light)
1 medium egg
250g apple sauce (chunky, from a jar)
150g white self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp level ground cinnamon
40g dried cranberries
2 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced

What you do:

  • Preheat your oven to gas 4 or fan 160°c.  Line a rectangular baking tin with greaseproof paper.
  • Keep back 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar for topping the cake later, beat the remainder with the low fat spread until creamy.
  • Add the egg and the apple sauce and beat again.
  • Sift in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and mix well.
  • Stir in the cranberries, then turn into the prepared tin.
  • Arrange the apples on top in four rows.  Sprinkle on the reserved sugar.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes .
  • Cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then turn out onto cooling rack and cut into 16 squares.

Now, I had so many apples and was looking for a way to reduce the calories so I thought hey I’ll make my own apple sauce! Good hey! I used about 8 apples of varying sizes and types, peeled, cored and sliced into chunks, put them in a saucepan with about 1/4 pint water and 50g caster sugar, boiled, then simmered until the apples were mushy.  This was a success! Yummy apple sauce.

The cake was a disaster!

I substituted the jarred apple sauce for my own, ensuring all excess water was drained off and swapped the cranberries for a bit of rhubarb.  Sounds ok doesn’t it? Nothing too dramatic going on here!

What I wanted

What I Got








My cake didn’t rise, it took over an hour to ‘bake’ (after I’d taken it out and then put it back in) and it looked vile.  I did try a bit and whilst it was edible I wasn’t prepared to serve it up to my work colleagues.

So what went wrong?

The oven probably needed to be at a higher temperature other than that I don’t know.

So let’s hope for something better next time….

Fatless Victoria Sponge #Recipe

Continuing my baking theme of trying to find healthier baking alternatives, here’s a fatless Victoria sponge recipe that I’ve tried and tested recently and served up for my book club.  It was touch and go whether or not the middle of the cake would be edible and I did make a quick trip to the shop for emergency cake just in case!

What you need:

150g self-raising flour
150g caster sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract*
No added sugar strawberry jam
1 tsp icing sugar to decorate
Frylight (or alternative low calorie cooking spray) for greasing

*optional extras

What you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 170°c.  Using Frylight grease and line 2 x 7″ baking tins with greaseproof paper.
  • Using the whisk attachment on a free-standing mixer whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture has tripled in size.  This does take a good 7-10 minutes – keep going, it does happen!
  • Carefully fold in the flour with a metal spoon – try to knock out as little air as possible to ensure a good rise.  However, be aware that although you think you’re mixing the flour in, it will also sink to the bottom so be sure to mix to the bottom of the bowl!  This happened to me and I had to mix in the flour in the baking tin – oops!
  • Divide the mixture between the 2 prepared tins.
  • Bake for approximately 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack.
  • Spread one sponge with the jam, add the strawberries if required.
  • Put the other sponge on top and sprinkle with icing sugar to decorate.


Fortunately there was only one pocket of flour discovered in the cake so that was better than I expected and I didn’t need the emergency cake supplies after all.  As the cake is so light it will take on the shape of whatever you put in so mine wasn’t a perfect circular shape due to the greaseproof paper folding in slightly.

If you’re following the Weight Watchers plan, as am I, then I managed to get 9 pieces from this cake and pointed it at 8 points per slice.  A shop bought slice of Victoria Sponge ranges between 6 and 30 SmartPoints depending on shop and portion size so I’m quite happy with this at 8 points as it was a good sized piece and no sacrifice made in terms of taste.

I’m struggling to find a fat and sugar free sponge recipe so if anyone has one please do let me know.

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Rhubarb and Banana Bread

I was given some fresh rhubarb so went searching online for a healthier recipe to use it in and found this rhubarb and banana bread at Kim’s Cravings (see original recipe here).  I have converted the cup measurements where necessary for ease.

What you need:

340g wholemeal plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 large mashed bananas (I used a hand held blender)
1 large stalk rhubarb
5 tablespoons honey

What you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 180c.  Using low fat cooking spray (e.g Fry Light) grease and line your loaf tin. Mine is approx 8×4″.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon and mixed spice in one bowl and put aside.
  • Beat the eggs for approx 30 seconds using hand held or freestanding mixer.  Add the vanilla, honey and mashed banana and mix.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture and mix on low speed.
  • Gently fold in the rhubarb.
  • Pour mixture into prepared loaf tin.  I then added some of the rhubarb to the top of the loaf.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then finish cooling on a wire rack.
  • Serve warm with a smidge of butter…yum! 🙂


Despite having a power outage of an hour during the baking of the bread it turned out ok.  It was a little overbaked in my opinion but I think that’s because I lost track of the time baked.  I served it at my book club meeting and everyone was really surprised that it didn’t contain any sugar or fat as it still tasted sweet, moist and really tasty.

Having calculated the ingredients, based on 10 slices per loaf, each slice has a Weight Watchers point value of 5 which is was good for me as I could fit it into my daily plan allowance without too much juggling.  Next time though, I’d use more rhubarb and it was hard to detect.

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Hot Cross Buns (Weight Watchers #Recipe)

This is the first time I’ve baked in about 2 months and the first recipe I’ve tried in my healthier lower fat sugar challenge/experiment.  I had to use some substitutions as I didn’t quite have all the correct ingredients in the cupboard but this didn’t impact negatively in any way.

What you need:

For the buns
375g strong white flour (bread flour)
25g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
7g dried baking yeast (1 sachet)
1 medium egg, whisked lightly
220 ml tepid skimmed milk
2 level tsp ground mixed spice
60g low fat spread melted
6 sprays calorie controlled cooking spray
For the crosses
100g currants (I used sultanas)
35g plain white flour
1g baking powder
1 tsp honey warm, to glaze (I used golden syrup)

What you do:

  • In a large bowl, sift the flour with the sugar, yeast, salt and mixed spice. Make a well in the centre then pour in the milk, egg and spread. With a wooden spoon, mix to form a dough.
    Use your hands to bring the dough together, then knead the dough for at least 10 mins until smooth and elastic. I used the dough hook on my freestanding mixer.
  • Put the dough in a clean bowl misted with the cooking spray. Place a clean tea cloth over the dough and leave in a warm place to rise for at least 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  • Preheat your oven to 180°c.
  • Knock back the dough by kneading for another 2 minutes, adding the currants/sultanas. Shape the dough into 12 small round buns, making a cross shape on each one using a knife. This, I found, virtually impossible, as the dough just gets dragged on the knife so I didn’t bother after a couple.
  • Mist a baking tray with cooking spray and place the buns on it in a rectangle close together. Cover with a tea cloth and leave for another 30 mins to prove.
  • Make the crosses by mixing the flour with the baking powder and 3 tbsp water to form a thick paste. Spoon the paste into a piping bag and carefully pipe a cross onto each bun.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Carefully tap the bottom of the buns – if they are light and sound hollow then they are done.
  • Once cooked, leave to cool slightly on a wire rack and then brush with the honey/syrup to glaze.


I was really pleased with my first ever batch of hot cross buns and especially with the doubling in size of the dough (rarely happens for me).

As this was a Weight Watchers recipe, for those of you who are unfamiliar with how the WW plan works, each food and drink is given a points value and you have a daily and weekly points allowance calculated upon weight and gender etc to spend.  My daily allowance is 30 with a weekly allowance of 42 for extras and treats.

These hot cross buns have a value of 6 points. For comparison, Aldi Hot Cross Buns have a point value of 7, Sainsbury’s 8, Marks & Spencer luxury 9.  However, the Co-Op’s are 6, same as the WW recipe – interesting!

All in all, the homemade buns are very nice and I didn’t feel as I’d been short changed in any way by using some lower calorie alternatives.  However, given the length of time they take to make, I’d probably nip down the Co-Op if I wanted some more! 😉

Until next time…Happy Baking!