Jam and Cake

9872832793_9ebac4e0d3_zOut of all the squash family, marrows are my least favourite vegetable but they are great for one thing and that’s making fabulous marrow and ginger jam, I have fond memories of my mum making this.  As we had a spare marrow growing in the community garden that hadn’t run away with itself and turned into a giant, I decided to make some yesterday. Last year was my first attempt and to be honest it is always on the runny side. The recipe suggests you sprinkle some sugar on the marrow and leave overnight. This acts the same as salt as it de-gorges all the water leaving you with a lot of liquid and shrivelled pieces of marrow. So when you make the jam it seems to consist mostly of syrup but what a delicious syrup with that ginger and lemon tang!

Last year I found a new use for it as well. When we had an open day to raise some money for the garden, I cooked my mum’s ginger parkin, (well actually it was my grannie’s recipe). This I turned into my recipe by substituting carob syrup for some of the golden syrup, much healthier. I had this idea last year when I’d finished it that I could adapt it even more by pricking the surface and pouring the marrow and ginger syrup over it when warm, sort of a nod to the many cakes you find in Cyprus which have a syrup over them. I guess this is how all recipes evolve by developing a basic great idea and making it your own. I have to say the result was very rich and added another depth to the taste.A lovely cake to use as pudding with ice cream. I am very partial to a bit of ginger nice and warming on the chilly nights.

Here is the recipe:-


75 grams hazelnuts finely ground

200 grams medium to fine oatmeal

200 grams self-raising wholemeal flour

225 grams unsalted butter

225 grams dark Barbados or muscovado sugar

2 eggs

4 generous tablespoons of carob syrup

2 teaspoons of baking powder

2 teaspoons of ground ginger

Melt the butter gently over low heat together with the sugar and when dissolved add the carob syrup taking off the heat. Beat the eggs. Sift the flour into a bowl add the oatmeal, baking powder and nuts. Pour in the butter mixture and mix thoroughly then add the eggs, mix well. Pour into a greased tin 22cm square and bake in a heated oven mark 4 gas or 180° centigrade for about 45 −50 mins until brown on top and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle. While still hot warm prick the surface all over with a toothpick and pour over the syrup.

One of the many recipes to be found in ‘Androula’s Kitchen-Cyprus on a Plate’

Two varieties of ginger as sold in Haikou, Hai...

Two varieties of ginger as sold in Haikou, Hainan, China. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Caked on!

I have written before about my love of cake and last Sunday I was in cake heaven. A couple of times a year  we throw open our gates to the general public and have open days  down at our community garden. This helps us raise funds for garden tools, compost, whatever is needed for our projects. The members make cakes and sometimes pickles and jams are brought to sell. Our driving force Rosemary, a food activist and writer, brings bread from a local artisan baker and some local veg to sell. We make lashings of tea to wash down the delicious cake and ask for donations. This works very well and we have the added attraction of a tombola and of course a leisurely stroll around our little bit of heaven.

We were very lucky last week as we had the added advantage of the sunshine to bless our afternoon. The tea stall was very busy and we had a huge variety of cakes. One of our members Rita, is a grand cook and made five cakes. Two huge Bakewell tarts, a couple of fruit cakes and a carrot cake.There were muffins and flapjack and biscuits and Victoria sponge, the tables positively groaned.

I made a sticky ginger parkin, my mum’s recipe, with a twist. I took inspiration from a recipe I had seen and added stem ginger in syrup to the usual mixture.When it was cooked,I added another innovation taken from the Cypriot method of using syrup on cakes and poured over some liqour from a marrow and ginger jam I made. It was a winning combination and one I will repeat. I also tried out another recipe I hadn’t used before and made some sticky Chelsea buns. These are made with a sweet dough and have a cinnamon and currant mixture sandwiched in and a soft icing. These had the added advantage of using cheap ingredients and also proved a hit.

We have recently had some new members join us and one of them is Czech, she brought along some little fruit pancakes which were a tasty novelty. Another member is Spanish and doesn’t bake but she brought along several jars of anchovies preserved in oil which she had prepared herself. These proved delicious when I sampled them later.

It was a lovely afternoon and a good way to see the Autumn in and the winding down of the garden. I still have a few hundred onions to plant and garlic but I’ve been laid low this week with aches and pains and a cold. I will recover my stamina and then tackle the task ahead. I will possibly comfort myself with a slice cake!!!


Don’t forget you can order your copy of ‘Androula’s Kitchen- Cyprus on a Plate’ on this site at a very special price just click on the Home Page and follow the links. Why not buy it for a friend for Christmas? Read the reviews by clicking on the menu bar.

Well Happy New Year to all, we have passed to the other side of Christmas and arrived in 2012 safely  and in one piece.

It has been quite a busy time over the last week as I’ve had my head down over the computer screen and keyboard in ernest…but obviously not to blog! I came up for air today and decided I’d try my hand at a recipe for a cake called Shamali that my cousin Elenitza gave me to put in my book ‘Androula’s Kitchen’. This cake, found in all good Greek pastry shops and restaurants is  also called a “Kalon Prama”  which means a good thing. Like many Greek pastries it is soaked in a sticky syrup. This, as a lot of the recipes I collected, has many different versions, but they all look like this:

It’s  a simple recipe and has quite a coarse texture due to the fact that it’s made with semolina. It also has yoghurt in it unusually. I have made this cake a couple of times since Elenitza gave me  the recipe but this is the first time it’s come out exactly as it should and it even tastes the same.

Practice makes perfect.

Here is the recipe if you want to try it at home:

4 eggs separated and the whites beaten until stiff

180g  caster sugar

580g semolina (fine)

200g plain yoghurt

195g butter or 213ml of sunflower oil

3 or 4 granules masticha crushed

4 or 5  drops of vanilla essence (or almond essence)

2 teaspoons of baking powder

A handful of blanched almonds for the top


480g caster sugar

568ml water

Squeeze of lemon juice (1 tablespoon) or orange juice or orange water.

1 cinnamon stick

Pre- heat the oven gas mark 4/180C

To make the cake: cream the butter and the sugar together until very creamy. Add the eggs yolks individually beating well each time. Then add the yoghurt and gradually add the semolina mixing thoroughly. Mix together with the baking powder, masticha and vanilla essence and beat well until all the ingredients are incorporated. Then gently fold in the egg whites. The mixture should have a stiff batter-like consistency. Pour into a shallow greased baking tin 22cm square and put in the oven. After 10 minutes remove the cake and place the almonds on top then replace in the oven for a further 35–40 minutes. When the cake has turned golden, test the centre with a fork to check that it is cooked thoroughly.

While the cake is cooking make the syrup. In a pan, melt the sugar in the water and then add the cinnamon stick and lemon juice. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the syrup thickens. Remove the cinnamon stick. When the cake is cooked leave it for 10 minutes to rest then pierce evenly all over with toothpick and pour over the syrup.


Don’t forget you can order your copy of ‘Androula’s Kitchen- Cyprus on a Plate’ on this site at a very special price just click on the Home Page and follow the links. Why not buy it for a friend for Christmas? Read the reviews by clicking on the menu bar.