Thursday, 2 March 2017


Good Morning to you,

I do love meeting people.

.... and I am always pleased, that when I take the time to smile at someone, I am rewarded with a smile in return.... and sometimes, with an added good morning or good afternoon.

.... and yesterday was a case in point.

I was waiting at the bus stop,  when I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a lady, standing alone, huddled in the corner.

I smiled and she smiled back and I asked if she was alright.  She replied, that she was, but she was feeling very cold. I suggested that she stand in the sunshine, where it was much warmer, but because we had struck up a conversation, I could see, she wanted to stay where she was.

When the bus arrived, I suggested, as she was feeling cold, she should get onto the bus first. She dilly dallied and at one point I thought maybe she was not waiting for the same bus as I was. After a few moments she got onto the bus, bought her ticket, but she didn't sit down, she waited in the aisle, until I found a seat, whereby she said, I think I'll sit next to you rather than sit on my own.... the company will be nice.

We started chatting to each other and I asked what had brought her into town. She mentioned that since her husband had passed, she now lived on her own and because of this, she made a point of getting out and about at least twice a week. She explained, one of the things she loved doing, was visiting charity shops, such as St Oswald's in the High Street.  

Of course my interest was immediately peeked, because as you know, I love finding pre-loved items. 

I asked if she had managed to find herself any bargains and she mentioned, that she had found her son, a lovely shirt.  I said that he would be pleased with her find, to which she replied, yes, that he would be now, but that wasn't always the case.

She explained, until recently, he didn't like her visiting charity shops, he felt she didn't need to. To be honest, I got the impression that her son felt it was beneath her. He said if she needed new clothes she could buy them from Fenwicks or Marks and Spencer, but she didn't agree. She felt the complete opposite, why pay all that money, if you didn't need to.  She said that buying clothes from the charity shops meant she could support St Oswald's Hospice and also the Heart Foundation and get a bargain to boot.

.... and then something happened to change her son's mind.  

A few weeks ago, she was browsing around one of her favourite charity shops, when she came across a jacket, which was the correct size for her son.  She ummed and aahed, wondering what he would say if she bought it for him. The jacket, looked like it had never been worn and she felt it would be perfect for her son, so she took the plunge and decided to buy it.

.... and so the jacket went home with her. The next time her son popped around to visit her, she mentioned the jacket.  Apparently he raised his eyes and didn't want to try it on, but to please his mum he eventually did.... and of course it fitted. The son asked how much his mum had paid and she said £10, which believe it or not, he thought was amazing.

Anyway, long story short, one Saturday afternoon, he was with his wife, browsing around Fenwicks, when he saw, hanging on a coat hanger, the same jacket he was wearing.... and guess what the price tag was, £150. He could not believe he was wearing the same jacket, but his had only cost £10.

Now, I bet you can guess where this is going. The son was converted. Apparently he now gives his mum, spending money, to buy whatever she thinks is value for money. He is pleased because he now realises his mum has a good eye for a bargain, and she is pleased because she has more money to spend/donate to the charity shops... so everyone is happy.

.... and whilst we were talking on the bus, her son rang.  She winked at me and she smiled, as she said to her son, yes I have been visiting charity shops and I have found you a very nice shirt. I could see that this made her so happy.

So if you see someone, standing alone, and you feel comfortable doing so, give them a smile, as you might just make their day by striking up a conversation.

I really feel this lady was a little lonely and was so happy to talk to me.  When it was time for her to leave the bus, she waved to me as she walked down the bus aisle and she smiled and waved to me when she got off the bus. 

.... you never know, we might meet up again next week and if so, I wonder what new things I will learn.

Talking of learning, do you remember last March, yes it is actually a year ago when I made,

a chocolate marble cake in my, then new buntd tin? well I feel sure you will remember it didn't look like the cake in this photograph,

no, it looked like this.  A respectable cake, but not one made in a buntd tin.  Everything was going smoothly, until the cake was baked, I left it for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a cooling rack, but when the time came to remove it from the tin, it would not budge. If you would like to see what happened next, then you can see it in great detail here.

I decided I wanted to make the cake for this Easter. Now I know it is a little way away, but I needed a dry run to make sure I could get the cake out of the tin successfully. So thank you to all my wonderful friends who gave me advice about how to prepare a buntd tin. Now I realise, I should have buttered and floured the buntd tin.  

So it's on with the pinnie, and I have to tell you, there is no music today.  Now that is unusual isn't it, but I needed to focus on what I was doing. I decided peace and quiet was the best course, as I wanted this buntd cake to be a success.  


250g unsalted butter
plus 25g to liberally butter the buntd tin
250g plain flour
plus 1 tablespoon to dust the buntd tin
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon of salt
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs - room temperature
2 tablespoons of milk
3 tablespoons of dark cocoa powder
3 tablespoons of hot water

For the Chocolate Ganache

250g dark chocolate ~ 70% cocoa solids
235 ml single cream


Pre-heat the oven: 180C or 160C Fan
Buntd tin: size 2.4 litre

  Melt 1oz of butter and brush the buntd tin liberally, making sure you get into all the nooks and crannies.

   Dust with the tablespoon of flour, moving the flour around the tin until the surface is covered with flour.
Throw away any excess.
    Set aside for the moment.

Sift the flour

the baking powder and salt
into a bowl.

Set aside for the moment.

Using a 2nd bowl,

Cream the butter


sugar until light and fluffy.

Whisk the eggs


add the almond extract and whisk again.

Add the eggs, a little at a time, to the butter mixture. If you find the mixture starts to curdle add a tablespoon of the flour and continue beating.

When all the eggs have been added,

gently fold in the remaining flour.

When all the flour has been incorporated, gently fold

in the milk.

Divide the mixture in half and put one half into a separate bowl.

Place the cocoa powder in a bowl


add the hot water.
  Stir to form a chocolate paste.

Gently fold the chocolate paste into one half of the cake mixture 
until the paste is fully incorporated.

Divide the mix into roughly thirds and add to the buntd tin.  

Using a teaspoon, drag through the mixture to create a marbled effect.

Bake in the oven for 40 - 50 minutes.
If you are not sure if the cake is cooked, 
 insert a cake skewer as near to the centre of the  cake as possible. If it comes out clean your cake is cooked.

When baked, leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack and allow to cool.

..... and I am pleased to report,

the cake released itself from the buntd tin, with no problem at all.

Now you can decorate the centre with the chocolates of your choice and dust with a little icing sugar.


you can go a step further and make a chocolate ganache.... well it will be an Easter Cake.


     Break the chocolate into small pieces and place
in a heatproof bowl.

   Pour the cream into a small saucepan and gently heat until you see bubbles forming around the edge of the pan. Just before the bubbles start to move towards the centre of the pan, remove from the heat.

Pour the heated cream over the chocolate pieces


   stir until the chocolate has melted into the cream.  

Using a wooden spoon, beat the mixture until
it is smooth and glossy.

Allow the ganache to come to room temperature,

spoon the chocolate ganache over the cake and down the sides. 

Allow the ganache to cool completely.

Then all there is left to do is, make a cup of coffee,
cut a slice of this Chocolate Marble Buntd cake 



When Easter arrives I will add a few Easter decorations amongst the chocolates and then we will have a gorgeous cake to share with the family.

The first time I made this cake I divided the cake mix into four sections of white mix and four of chocolate, this time I divided into three of each. There will be more marbling if the cake mix is divided into four.... you choose.

So take care and  I will catch up with you next Thursday.

As Always,

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