Cherry & Vanilla Traybake I love that we live five minutes from a ‘Pick Your Own’ fruit farm, it means I can indulge whenever I have an urge to make something specific. Take yesterday for instance, I really fancied making a cake with fresh cherries so off seven year old M Vanilla Extractand I popped to go and pick a glut of cherries for the cake and a few left over to snack on. Perfect. Regular readers may notice a theme in my recipes of using a lot of vanilla extract, my chocolate cakes have to taste of vanilla too and for this cake I wanted a strong sweet vanilla taste to go with the ever so slightly sharper cherries. Nielsen-Massey sent me some of their vanilla extract to try and this is what I used in this recipe. I usually use Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste in my recipes, I was still pleased with the result though, a vanillary cake, not overpowering the subtle cherry taste but if Picking cherriesyou are not such a fan you can just take out a spoon of the vanilla extract. I also wanted to top the cake with a sour cream and white chocolate icing, however tiredness got to me, I made a mistake with the quantities and ended up with a dipping sauce instead. I think it would go beautifully with this cake though. In hindsight, you can’t go wrong with a simple glacé icing, which is probably my favourite anyway!

Fresh Cherry & Vanilla Traybake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A lovely summery traybake using fresh cherries and vanilla
Serves: 15
  • 300g Fresh Cherries, pitted and halved
  • 250g butter, melted and then cooled slightly
  • 250g Self Raising Flour
  • 250g soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract, I use Nielsen-Masey
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Flour to coat the cherries
  • Fresh cherries to decorate
  • Icing sugar to decorate
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. Grease and line a traybake tin 20x30cm
  3. Melt the butter on a very low heat and then allow to cool slightly
  4. Remove the stones from the cherries and halve, leave to one side
  5. Add the sugar, then the eggs and vanilla extract to the melted butter and mix well
  6. Stir into the mixture the flour and baking powder
  7. Toss the halved cherries in flour and then gently stir into the mixture
  8. Pour the cake mixture into the tin and bake for 30 minutes or until firm
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool
  10. Decorate with a simple glacé icing (water & icing sugar) and decorate with cherries.
  11. When the icing is set cut the cake into squares and serve.

Cherry & Vanilla traybake



Cafe Pod

My love for coffee is growing, I look forward every day to a milky frothy coffee and the hardest decision I have to make is which flavour and strength do I choose. I have been trying out CaféPod coffee recently which are Nespresso compatible coffee pods in five different strengths and flavours. I have to say I am mightily impressed with these coffee pods. The water flows through easily, I don’t have to jiggle them about to fit in my Krups Pixie and there is no grainy residue left around the cup which I have found with some other Nespresso compatible brands.


I don’t tend to have a favourite for different times of the day although usually prefer something milder in the morning and building up in strength throughout the day. However you may notice there tends to be a theme in my photos that I have been veering towards Ristretto which has a strength of 10 the most! Hmmmmm.


The coffee comes in strengths of 4 to 10, with Arabica Lungo & Decaff at 4, Smooth at strength 5, Intense at 8 and Ristretto at 10. There is a chocolate theme among Smooth, Intense and Ristretto but as I like my coffee with lots of milk I can’t say that I have noticed it too much. Also the decaff, Smooth, Intense and Ristretto are espressos and the Arabica is a lungo but I like milk with all of them. I don’t find any of them too overpowering or strong.

RistrettoThese pods are definitely going to go in my shopping trolley from now one.

Speech DayThe Café Pod can be bought in retailers including Waitrose, Ocado, Tesco and on

Arabica LungoRistretto

Disclosure: I was sent a selection of CaféPod coffee capsules to review.


Michael Caines

A few weeks ago I was asked to create a recipe that would be suitable for a uniformed professional to celebrate the launch of the Uniform Foodies App.  I made a Warm Goat’s Cheese Salad with Walnut Soda bread, and got chosen as one of three finalists to cook for Michael Caines MBE, the Michelin starred chef who is the face of the Uniform Foodies app as well as writing the recipes for it. I have to admit I was a mixture of excited, and absolutely terrified to be cooking for such a talented chef…little old me who just cooks for her children…

This is me looking terrified: Photo courtesy of Michael Caines. He tweeted, ” Looking a little nervous but Nova starting to work her magic starting with her bread Me

But I did it!

Michael seemed to genuinely like my dish too.He even said he wants to use my dressing recipe.

Goats Cheese Salad and Walnut bread

Along with two other bloggers Alida and Vicki,  we had what turned out to be a fun cook off.

94lemon chicken

It was lovely to meet Vicki from The Freefrom Fairy who made a delicious Malai Kofta Curry, I am definitely going to trick my sons into thinking they’re eating meat with this dish. My mouth is watering thinking of it.

The Freefrom Fairy

I also met Alida from My Little Italian Kitchen who cooked a tasty Mediterranean Lemon Chicken Salad with Rosemary New Potatoes. My daughters have put in their order for this dish! I could not get enough of those lovely potatoes.

My Little Italian Kitchen

Alida’s dish was Michael’s favourite though and she will now be heading off to Michael’s restaurant Gidleigh Park in Devon for what promises to be a fab meal and night away!

Uniform Foodies Michael showed us our recipes on the Uniform Foodies App which was very exciting, along with a quick browse at all the other recipes that Michael has created for it. So for just 69 pence you can get 15 of Michael’s recipes.

In the end after all my nerves I had a great day, Vicki and Alida were lovely and Michael was very easy to chat to and didn’t laugh at my dish at all…phew!

Check out Vicki’s post about the day which has a great video on it that she made whilst Michael was announcing the winning dish.

Photo Credits


Be Simply Great

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The Dairy Girl

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BBQ Chilli Chicken Kebabs with Sweetcorn Salsa

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Market Deli from Walkers

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Be Snack Happy

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Speedy Vanilla Cheesecake

June 23, 2014

Just sometimes, not very often though, I find myself home alone. And it’s times like that I find myself wanting to indulge in a little comfort food. The dilemma is do I go and buy or make a whole dessert that is supposed to feed a family and then have the rest of it staring […]

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Love Lunch Again

June 22, 2014

I was asked by Philadelphia to come up with a speedy lunch idea that could be made at a desk with minimal cooking facilities as part of their ‘Love Lunch Again’ campaign. So I decided to fill a seeded roll with lashings of Philadelphia, sliced salami and spicy piquante peppers because everything I eat has […]

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