Something different – a baking post

My daughter bought me the Great British Bake Off Everyday baking book for Christmas and I was determined to not let it be the one gift I would never use. You see, I’m not a cook, I don’t enjoy cooking but I do love cake! I always used to bake when I was younger, nothing very spectacular beyond the odd fairy cake, jam tart or lemon meringue pie from a kit but as I now live on my own if I bake I’ll end up eating it all myself which is not good for the waistline so I rarely do now.


So for my book club meeting this month (which was actually last night) and as I was hosting, I attempted the first bake in the book which is the Blackberry Buttermilk Sponge!

Here are the ingredients:

150 g fresh blackberries IMG_0132
125 g unsalted butter
175 g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 free range eggs
100 ml buttermilk
200 g self raising flour
1.5 tablespoons demerara sugar


After much effort to find the blackberries (tried 5 supermarkets and finally got some in Aldi) the baking commenced. The recipe was fairly straight forward for a novice, the only thing I struggled with was the weight measurements on the scales (oh dear I hear you see)! But it all turned out ok and made it into the oven.

IMG_0133I had a bit of an issue with the timings on one of the cakes, the recipe advised to skewer the cake to check it was cooked after the required cooking time of 35-40 minutes. However one of the cakes took nearly 50 minutes to cook. I guess these things come with practice.



Anyway, it looked great! It made it out of the tin in one piece and the ladies of book club scoffed the lot – a resounding success I say!IMG_0140

 Can’t wait to have a go at the next recipe!

Book Review: The Old Rectory – Escape to a Country Kitchen by Julia Ibbotson

The Old Rectory - Escape to a Country Kitchen

What’s it about?

When author Julia Ibbotson and her husband first saw the old Victorian rectory in dire need of renovation, a mile out of the nearest village in the midst of the English moorlands, they fell in love with it and the lifestyle it represented, with its farmhouse kitchen range at its heart. This delightful memoir describes the trials and tribulations of their quest to make their vision come true.

They hoped they could make the sad, neglected house glow again and that they could integrate themselves into the small traditional village, with its cottages, hall and outlying farms. The Old Rectory focuses on the centrality of the kitchen as the pulse of the family and home, and shows the importance of food and cooking throughout the changing seasons, history and moods of the countryside as the couple strive to live the dream.

The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen, a true story of renovation – of a house and of lives, of finding what is important in life – and with the added delight of recipes to feed the soul.

My thoughts

I was a little dubious about offering to read and review this as cooking and baking really isn’t my thing – I like to avoid the kitchen if I can! However, we all need to step out of our comfort zones once in a while and experience new things or genres.

Julia takes us through the ups and downs of the renovation of her ‘dream home to be’ which is intermingled with her recipes. These recipes being linked to times of the year and to what ingredients are in season or she had available. Good old fashioned English cooking is what she seems to love!

This is a short book and easy to read but from very early on Julia’s obvious love of cooking shows through her writing – you’ll be salivating at all the lovely recipes!

I actually had a go at making one of Julia’s recipes – the Zingy Zest Lemon Pud (which was more of a sponge cake). Now, I’m not a baker or cook of any nature, but it was a very easy recipe to follow and actually, it turned out quite well – tasted delicious!

Lemon Sponge

Tasted better than it looks

Minor point but I did notice a couple of errors but this is still an enjoyable memoir and would be a perfect read for those who like Escape to the Country, Grand Designs or The Great British Bake Off.

Available from Amazon The Old Rectory

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There is a giveaway linked to this tour of signed bookmarks/postcards, pens, keyrings and 1 x ecopy of The Old Rectory – enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author Julia Ibbotson

Julia Ibbotson is the award-winning author of The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen, first published to acclaim in the USA and Julia Ibbotsonnow re-launched with a brand-new cover by her new English publisher in the UK. Julia has been writing creatively all her life (unpublished!) but her day jobs to pay the mortgage have been as a school teacher and latterly a university academic, gaining her PhD at the age of 57. She delights in being a wife and mother to four, with four little grandchildren. She loves reading, gardening, growing food, cooking for family and friends and country life. Having published many academic texts and papers, she came late to actually publishing her creative writing, at the age of 60 plus, when she was persuaded to write the story of the renovation of her Victorian rectory in The Old Rectory. She has combined memoir, history, research, story and recipes in this first published book, which has won a number of international book festivals in the biography category, gained 5 star reviews on Amazon, and has been widely featured (along with her house) in the media. She has begun to delve into the world of blogging, facebook and now has her own website at  at which she also posts blogs regularly, about writing, life and her passions. Her new project is a trilogy of novels following the life story of a new character, Jess, through from fleeing to West Africa as a volunteer teacher/nurse in the 1960s to the millennium. The first of the series, Drumbeats, is due to be published later this year. You can find out more on her website and on her author page on Amazon. Her global internet book tours start soon!

Connect with Julia via her WebsiteTwitterFacebook Author PageAmazon UK Author PageAmazon US Author PageYouTube book trailer

Book Review: Recipes for Disaster by Sheryl Browne

Recipes for DisasterWhat’s it about?

She’s a single. He’s a widower. She wants him. He wants her. She wants to impress. So does he. There’s just one catch – she can’t cook. To get him, she needs to get past the big fish – his mother. Lucky her, she’s got an Ace up her sleeve and all she’s got to do is impress this one time. Bad luck, though, her new guy can’t cook either, her dog Rambo is on the loose and now they’ve got to pull off the big lunch at the club. Will it be a match made in heaven? Will they be able to pull off a culinary miracle? Will their combined efforts result in love at first bite? Or is it simply a Recipe for Disaster?

My thoughts

This was the first book passed to me for review by Love a Happy Ending so was keen to read what they’d recommend.

This is a light, easy quick rom com of a read intermingled with lots of recipes. Basically Lisa wants to impress new beau Adam and his mother with her culinary skills – unfortunately she doesn’t have any and neither does he. The book revolves around this big do at the golf club that Lisa managed to get herself roped into catering and with the help of her best friend Becky we’re given a step by step guide to the menu.

Unfortunately I’m not a cooking lover and don’t even own a cook book so I have to admit I skipped through the pages of recipes and methods – it just didn’t interest me. And that dog…Rambo, sorry, found it really irritating but I do appreciate there are animal lovers that love their dogs more than people.

Just because a book isn’t for me, doesn’t make it a bad book. If you love cooking, dogs and a good mushy chick lit this is perfect for you, just not my cup of tea this time.

Available from Amazon Kindle