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Flying the nest

My Son is heading out into the world next week to study Physics at Bristol university …. yes he’s a clever boy and I’m a very proud mum – I’m also proud that on top of all his academic achievements ….  he can cook.


We have hopefully instilled in him the value of a good diet and the perils of junk food, but you never know what will happen to to all this appreciation of good food once he has to fit it in with budgets and a busy acedemic and social whirl…. let alone doing his own laundry, shopping and washing up!


All we can do is make sure he is equipped with the basics and then its up to him.  So I’ve filled a box with  –  Electric hand whisk for cakes, mini food processing set for soups, pestos etc the ones with the mini grinder for nuts and pesto etc,  Sandwich toaster,   8″ cake tin, mixing bowl, tray bake and brownie tin, Cooling rack,  Stainless steel roasting tin, 2 saucepans, stainless steel frying pan – big one with a lid.  Along side that there is box of  basic food, for the first week, pasta, beans, tomato sauce, rice, dried fruit, sugar, cocoa powder, flour, and a glass storage jar of muesli –  I’ve included this as I know he’ll eat it if its there and he may replace it when it runs out – but would he seek it out at the supermarket?  hmmm, not sure.  I’m hoping the empty glass jar will call to him ….fill me fill me!  …. – you can see that I’m going to be one of those really annoying mums who sends texts asking if he’s eaten any fruit this week!


They’ll also be a basic range of spices in there … cumin, corriander, cinnamon,  turmeric, cardamom, pepper, bay leaves and fajita spice mix


I haven’t bought him any of the books aimed students cooking on a budget.   There are lots out there and I was very tempted, but realistically, will he use them?  I don’t think so  …. like most young people he will just ‘google it’ !


I am however preparing for him  a folder of family favourites, recipes that are simple and work well.   I’m starting with brownies, I’ve tried several in my time and this is one of my favourites, it’s amazing how brownie recipes vary. Some have way too much sugar, and some are too stodgy, my kids will eat brownies whichever way they come, but I like more of a cakey texture.  This one is from BBC good food


Chocolate brownies


100g chopped butter

200g Fair trade dark chocolate chopped

4 eggs

250g caster sugar

100g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

30g Fair trade cocoa












1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160c/gas 4 . Line a 22cm square brownie tin with baking parchment.  Melt the butter and chocolate together in a microwave or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Cool to room temperature.  Whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy.

2. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and sift on the flour, baking powder and cocoa.  Fold this in to give a fudgey batter.  Bake for 25-30 mminutes or until the top is cracked but the middle is just set.  Cool completely, then lift out of the tin and cut.
Adding raspberries or other summer fruit adds a whole new level of yumminess.









Holding on to summer

The kids started back at school this week, the nights are starting to draw in and the weather took a turn!  It’s not quite cold but there is a definite autumnal air about the place. I refuse to accept this and am not quite ready yet to give up summer.  So I got up this morning, braved the wind and rain to buy strawberries for a summer fruit and vanilla custard pie.


Make a sweet pastry case

140g plain flour, 114g unsalted butter, 1 large egg yolk, pinch of salt, 55g caster sugar, 1-2 tbsp cold water.

Combine the flour salt and sugar in a bowl, cut the butter into chunks and add to the flour mixture, rub together lightly with your fingers until you have fine breadcrumbs – or do it the easy way and whizz in your food processor.   Add the egg yolk and enough water to form a a soft dough, Wrap in clingfilm and chill for one hour.  Remove from the fridge and roll out to size and line an 8 inch loose bottomed tart tin, sweet pastry does have a bit of a mind of it’s own, but don’t worry if it splits – Just fill the gaps or tears with left over pieces. line the pastry case with baking parchment, fill with baking beans and blind bake for 20 mins at 200c.  Remove from the oven, brush the base with lightly beaten egg and return to the oven for a further 10 – 15 minds till golden brown –  ta dah!  you have a sweet pastry case.  leave to cool while you make your vanilla cream and are ready to assemble.

Vanilla pastry cream

100g sugar, 235ml milk, 2 large eggs. 1 large egg yolk. 2 tbsp cornflower. 120ml cream 2tsp vanilla essence.

Combine sugar, eggs, egg yolk and cornflour.  In a saucepan,  heat the milk, vanilla and cream to a simmer , whisk into the egg mixture and return to the pan.  On a low heat stir until the sauce begins to thinken, bring to the boil and cook for one minute whisking constantly.  leave to cool

When you are ready to assemble spoon the vanilla cream into the pastry case and cover with your chosen fruit, you’ll need about 4-500 grams of fruit.  dust with icing sugar and stand back to admire your taste of summer.

First wedding Cake

As the name suggests Homebake Heaven started as a cake business but as time has gone on has increasingly been overtaken by vintage china.  Now and again though I still get to make a cake and find I enjoy it all the more for not having too many to do and being rushed.  I had my first wedding cake request two weeks ago and said yes, mainly because the person is a friend and wouldn’t judge me too harshly!  I’ve always refused to do wedding cakes in the past ….what if it went wrong and the couples big day was ruined because I had failed!  Anyway here is my first attempt at a wedding cake, It could have been better but the customer seemed pleased…. not too shabby for a first attempt


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