All of the pleasure, none of the pain

It’s properly cold now. I mean it’s only getting up to 16°C during the day. Well, OK, but it has been 1°C overnight. And the Aussies have NO IDEA about insulation, double glazing, or appropriate heating for their houses. I fear I may lose some fingers.

Now can I get some sympathy?

For me, as well as for my poor cats, the only answer is to stuff in the calories like they’re going out of fashion. It’s a dangerous game and is the reason Bertie has turned into a little dumpling in a few short weeks.


But I still need to eat, so I thought I’d roll out the fun-free cake again, this time in a different incarnation.

apple and date cake

Apple and date cake

This time I replaced a third of the dried fruit with diced apple and sliced the remaining apple to line in the bottom of the tin, along with a little spray oil, before baking. I also added 1 tsp cinnamon. Goddamn, it was delicious!

For interest’s sake, I thought I’d do a little calorie counting. Each 70g slice (1/12th) contains:*

  • 15g dried fruit, 30g fresh fruit and 20ml fruit juice
  • 8g of almonds
  • 3g protein
  • 2g fibre
  • 140 kcals (600kJ) (vs 275kcals (1170kJ) for shop-bought lemon drizzle)

But … that’s nearly half the calories.

So I had two pieces. With some Baileys ice cream.

I am my own worst enemy.


*I am not a nutritionist and all the maths is my own. You’ve been warned.


Sugar-free, fat-free, fun-free cake?

Oh, goddamit, I’ve got to stop baking – I’m going to develop diabetes at this rate.

But on the other hand, if there was a cake that was low fat and low sugar, that would be ok, wouldn’t it? To be honest, I’m not really asking your permission 🙂

I was doing a little research for my writing (alright, alright, I was procrastinating and surfing the internet, dreaming up things to eat) and bumped into this Maltese recipe from SBS which contains NO ADDED SUGAR OR FAT OR EGGS!

No sugar, fat or eggs? Blergh, I hear you say, but you’d be wrong.

sugarless apricot and date cake

You can find the recipe here:

SBS: Sugarless apricot and date cake

The texture was surprisingly good – I expected it to be crumbly but it wasn’t. It was soft and moist and sweet, and everything a cake should be. As a bonus it is completely dairy free and vegan, and could easily be adapted for gluten free.

Tips from TheO
  • Soak the fruit in a little apple juice for an hour before you bake to keep it moist
  • Switch out the wheat flour for a wheat/gluten free option – I used wholemeal spelt, but perhaps this is taking the concept of healthy cake a step too far
  • If you’re not using SRF, add 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • Although the recipe didn’t say so, I assumed the oven temperature should be 180°C
  • Adapt the cooking time for your tin – I didn’t have a ring tin so used a loaf tin which took 50 minutes to cook
  • Mr Eleanor found the apricot flavour a little too strong so I might try using dried mixed fruit next time, and a bit of cinnamon.

Try it, you might like it.

Nearly finished

chocolate pear gingerbread

I’ve been in a cooking frenzy this week in an effort to get my third cook book, DIG: Cooking with roots and tubers, finished for publishing by the weekend. So I have plenty to share with you: Mexican frittata, beetroot burgers, roast parsnip and pear salad. But having looked at my blog stats, I know you all are suckers for a little bit of chocolate, so for your culinary pleasure I am happy to present:

chocolate and pear gingerbread

Another dark, dense, super-moist cake from the kitchen of TheO – plenty of ground ginger gives it some bite, and the stem ginger releases little pockets of floral aromatics. AND it contains fruit and vegetable! I think this would be great one for Christmas.

Had that for my breakfast … the diet’s going brilliantly …

Cornbread goes sweet or savoury

Cornbread is a great carb option for dinner. It is ridiculously easy to make and can be easily adapted to be gluten free. I use spelt but any plain flour will work, including gluten free. You can also use 60g each polenta, plain flour and almond meal to up the protein content and keep it moist.

The cornbread first recipe I made was by a well-known, blue-eyed English baker. It was delicious, but I realised that the reason it was so delicious was because of the phenomenal amount of butter in it. It was 250 kcals for one tiny slice! So that was the first thing to go, and in doing so I halved the number of calories per slice!

Cherry and almond cornbread

Cherry and almond cornbread

What I hadn’t considered was the possibility of a sweet cornbread, until I bumped into a recipe for cherry cornmeal cake in Snog Healthy Treats Cookbook.

So now this is the most versatile cake/bread recipe, being completely open to any sweet or savoury combos that you could dream up!

(As an aside, to stop the dried fruit sinking, as I’ve so ably demonstrated above, dust them in a little plain flour before adding to the batter.)