Chocolate Chunk Cherry Cake

It is a little early to be talking about cherries in the UK… a few months early… but it is exciting to see cherries ready on the trees. We might even get some this year instead of the birds. They have already done an excellent job of eating the cherry and plum tree leaves – I had no idea they were that tasty… :/

We were given a bag of cherries from a friend who takes the left overs from a market for her chickens and gives us a huge portion of it to feed little piggy and chooks. Some were on the turn, queue cherry baking time.


I’ve got a favourite cherry cake recipe (find it here Cherries) but I was lacking in some ingredients and, to be honest, I wanted chocolate cake ūüėõ

So I trawled the internet to find a chocolate one that had the ingredients we had in the house. I had just enough to make one from

It is most definitely not my own creation even though I would love to take credit for it, but it is so delicious that I think the word should be spread. It is a new favourite chocolate cake.

Flourless with ground almonds, fresh cherries, chocolate chunks in a chocolate cake, lovely gooey texture Рwhat is not to like?!


Chocolate Chunk Cherry Cake

(Serves 10)

-225g butter, softened -200g granulated sugar -1tsp vanilla extract -4 eggs -200g ground almonds -50g cocoa powder -1tsp baking powder -100g dark chocolate -100g dark or milk chocolate cut into chunks -200g fresh cherries

  1. Preheat oven to 170C. Line a 20cm/9inch deep cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the softened butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Mix in the vanilla extract and the eggs one at a time until well incorporated into the mixture.
  4. Stir in the ground almonds, cocoa powder and baking powder, mixing well to combine.
  5. Melt 100g of dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over the hob or in a microwave. Mix into the cake mixture followed by the chunks of unmelted chocolate.
  6. Scrape the contents of the bowl into the prepared baking tin.
  7. Remove the stems from the cherries and cut them open, removing the stones from the centre. Scatter the cherries over the top of the cake’s surface.
  8. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin before transferring to the wire rack to cool completely. It is also delicious served warm.
  9. When completely cold, store in an airtight container for up to three days.




Recipe: Poached Egg with Broccoli

We’ve just been picking our (lately planted) Calabrese broccoli this week.


So in the spirit of the good old green, some people’s worst enemy, but a delicious green flower to me, here is a little easy-peasy recipe to try at home.

It might sound like a strange combination – but really, eggs are surprisingly good with broccoli. I urge you to give it a try.


Poached Egg with Broccoli

(Serves 1)

-1 egg -1 medium sized broccoli -Salt and pepper, to season (optional) -A slice of bread or some potatoes (optional)

  1. Bring two small pans of water to the boil. In one pan, add in the broccoli once you have cut the florets up into small pieces. Peel of the outside of the stem and cut into matchsticks and those are delicious boiled too. Reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, crack the egg into the other boiling pan of water. Leave to boil for about 2 minutes, or until the egg white looks cooked. Remove from the heat. You can use a poached egg pan instead – in that case, grease one of the egg cups with butter and crack the egg into it and leave it to cook that way. This works better with eggs that are not very fresh than the first technique.
  3. Spoon the egg and the broccoli out onto a plate. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper, optional, and serve with some bread or some cold potatoes, optional again. This can make a nice, light lunch, or a starter to a fancy dinner party.



Update: Sunday 4th Sept 2016

Bumble bee on an Echinacea flower

Has anyone picked so many runner-beans this year that they’ve had to buy a new freezer?!

Nope, just me… ? Hmm, was afraid of that.

This week we’ve been:

  • Weeding, mulching
  • Mum has frozen a tonne of beans again
  • Picking blackberries and raspberries and plums – freezing them too
  • I made ‘courgette crisps’ because we have so many marrows still hanging around the house. You cut the courgettes very thinly, toss them in 1tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt, place them on a lined baking tray and scatter 1tbsp grated cheese and 1tbsp breadcrumbs over the top and leave them in an oven of 110C until they have turned brown and crisp (about 2-3hrs) before leaving them in the oven to cool to room temperature before eating them on their own or with some dips. I think mum is the only one to eat them so far but she said they were really good and she has eaten one whole tray full so they can’t be that bad…
  • Our bulb order arrived yesterday that mum bought on behalf of my birthday so I played clearing a patch for them under the apple trees that is swamped by nettles and invasion trees galore. I scythed the tall nettles first and cut down the unwanted bad trees before starting to dig out the roots of everything. I tossed all of the weeds, grass and nettles into the pig run for them to munch on and turn into compost. I might finally get that patch cleared and the bulbs planted in, say, a years time…
  • I also cleared away a whole patch of sweetcorn that had been picked and chucked those to the pigs. They really like the stems! I’ve prepared the bed for some lettuce and rocket I have growing indoors that are nearly ready to plant out, probably this week.
  • We do have a pesky fox digging up parts of the beds at the moment. I thought it was just the cats getting a little too confident at first but now that I’ve found some fox poo, I know who I am dealing with. Unfortunately, there is little I can do to prevent a fox from digging for bugs in the beds. I can only net over the little seedlings to give them a chance of survival, I suppose.
  • Excitingly, we had another order of manure delivered from our friends with the Guernsey cows, another huge load by tractor. We had managed to use all of ours that only arrived in like March. Perfect timing as the whole place needs desperate feeding and bed preparing.
  • Even better: we got seven new hens (all ginger ex-battery types) on Bank Holiday Monday. We were lacking in eggs seeing as the ducks are moulting, Clucky, my little white hen is broody and only one other Black Rock chicken is laying – that meant one ¬†egg every few days. Now we’ll get a few more – the ¬†eggs are so tiny because they are so young!

Have a good week, everyone.

What to do with bolted lettuce?


It can be a little frustrating to turn your back for a minute and that whole patch of lettuce you had is now bolted.

Bolted is when the plant literally ‘bolts’ upwards, going to seed.

For lettuce, this makes them pretty inedible unless you like a very bitter taste. The problem is when it all happens at once – what do you do with a dozen bolted lettuces? Here are a couple of tips for not letting the greens go to waste.


One option is to compost them. Pull them up and leave them to rot down on your compost heap. Green leaves are well known to rot down well and to make a lovely fertile mush. Use your composted bolted lettuce to feed the ground for your next batch of salad, thereby continuing the circle of life and not wasting anything. Please never feel tempted to bonfire or bin something as innocent as a bolted lettuce, it would be such a waste!

Feed the birds


Not the garden birds but any feathered poultry you, friends, family or a neighbour might have. Unlike us humans, poultry are not too fussy about how bitter their lettuce leaves are. It is very good for them too. A green-based diet does wonderful things to their eggs, making their yolks a rich, yellow colour. My poultry basically rule me – well, I think all my animals believe they are royalty. You ¬†should see the way I am summoned by the cats to feed them. Even one of our pigs asks me to hand feed her every night. But the poultry believe it is their right to have boring chicken food first thing and a special snack in the evening. They stand by the fence and wait all afternoon. It has been a lot cheaper and a lot healthier for ¬†them, I am sure, to give them the unwanted excess of our garden produce. They love old cabbage or cauliflower leaves, any chickweed weeds growing in the patch and the bolted lettuce. If you don’t have any feathered pets of your own, see if anyone you know does and would appreciate the greens. You never know, you might be able to exchange bolted lettuce for half a dozen eggs every now and then. It is the sweet farm-community-business I think we are missing around here – I will give you something you want that I don’t want, in exchange for what I want¬†that you don’t want.


Fry ’em

Treat bolted lettuce like oriental greens that are slightly strong tasting. Add the torn up leaves into any stir fry and add some flavouring of chilli, ginger, soy sauce etc. as you wilt them down.


Side Dish

Try frying the bolted lettuce on its own and serve it as a green side dish, just like some pubs and restaurants serve wilted spinach as an optional side dish instead of salad or chips. Fry them in some butter or oil in a pan and serve alongside any meal that takes your fancy.

Lettuce Soup

I haven’t made this before but I have heard that bolted lettuce tastes fine when it is blended into a soup. Here is a recipe I would use if I wanted to make it as I think it sounds pretty good. It is by Rose Prince from the Telegraph Magazine (search online). Let me know if you ever try it, I would love some feedback:

(Serves 4)

– 120g salted butter ¬†– 1 leek, sliced and then washed – 500ml boiling water ¬†– The outer leaves from 2 floppy ‘butterhead‚Äô lettuces, or a romaine lettuce – 150ml Greek yogurt or cr√®me fra√ģche

To serve: ¬†–¬†12 pink peppercorns –¬†The leaves from 4 sprigs of dill ¬†–¬†2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil ¬†–¬†A little yogurt or cr√®me fra√ģche

1.Melt the butter over a medium heat in a small pan and add the leek. Cook for two minutes until soft then add the water. Bring to the boil and simmer for four minutes. Add the lettuce leaves and simmer for one minute.

2. Put in a blender and process with the yogurt or cr√®me fra√ģche until very smooth and velvety ‚Äď you can pass the soup through a sieve after blending for an extra silky texture, if you wish. Taste and season with salt and a tiny amount of ground white pepper.

3. To make the pepper oil, put the pink peppercorns with the dill in a pestle and mortar. Add the oil and pound until the spice and herbs are bruised, releasing their flavour. Serve the soup either hot, soon after you have made it, or chilled, with the oil dripped on to the surface. Add a little more yogurt or cr√®me fra√ģche.

Let them flower for the bees

Another option is to leave the bolted lettuces where they are, or some of them, for the bees. They do like bolted crop’s flowers, particularly brassicas I have noticed.

Save for seed

If you don’t leave the gone to seed lettuce for the bees needs, then you can always save it for yourself to take the seeds from your favourite variety. Pick or shake off the ready formed seeds into labelled envelopes and store in a dry place for sowing next season.