baking some more

It doesn’t look as if we’ll be travelling abroad any time soon*, so I decided to partially make up for it by baking up another taste of Portugal.  I found this recipe for Bola de Amendoa on the Great British Chefs site. It’s a good resource for recipes and tips.

Anyway, I’d planned to make it a couple of weeks ago but had run out of ground, or indeed any kind of, almonds.  As had our local shop.  So I had to wait until we did our “big shop” (see* below) in Oban.  It was worth the wait.

I love almondy cakes, and gooey centred ones so this recipe promised a double treat.

dry ingredients

Here’s the ground almonds and butter ready to be pulsed together


sugar and spice

Sugar and spices

The sugar and egg yolks are whisked  up together,  salt, spice and lemon zest  folded in and then in goes the almond mixture.

all mixed up

egg whites whisked to soft peaks

Next  comes the trickiest part, gently adding in the whisked egg whites. Tricky because you have to mix it enough to avoid streaky white stripes of egg, but gently to avoid beating out the air.

Actually it can’t have been too tricky because I managed it quite successfully,  and into the oven it went.

My one mistake was using a baking tin which was a) slightly too small and b) a push rather than spring release. This meant I had a cuff of cake spilling over the side of the tin which I had to cut away to release the rest of the cake. This did mean I had a bit of cake to “test” – for purely critical purposes you must understand. So silver linings… But next time I think I’ll use my slightly bigger spring release tin, which might mean keeping a close eye on the last few minutes of baking, as the mix will be spread more thinly.

Anyway here’s a not terribly good photo of the finished cake

fuzzy finished product

I didn’t notice how fuzzy this was until it was too late

And once I realised,  I thought I’d take a picture of a slice.

But  I went to look,  and there was none left!  Cake thieves must operate in this area, who’d have thought?

I’ll just have to make another one.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and stay safe.

Marina xx


* Mind you it was a huge excitement the other day just walking in a different part of town. We went to the garden centre, along the esplanade, and then to the fishmonger.  Usually it’s the small supermarket, pick up our food hub  order and home.


I made another one,  and took a photo



I’m not much of a gardener but love visiting and being in gardens. My mother filled her small terraced garden with blooms


and my sister has inherited Mum’s green fingers and has a lovely garden,

but I’m usually having too much fun to take photos which do it justice.

I’m lucky to have two beautiful open gardens right on the doorstep and another just a short drive away.


We can’t visit them at the moment but will be back before too long.

I’ve enjoyed the cool of beautiful gardens in hot places, like these in the Philippines


and the Jardin Botanico  and Parque del Drago in Tenerife.


And then there’s the formal  French splendour of Villandry in the Loire valley.


“I be a bit worried ’bout what he’s planning”

Or this at the Casa de Mateus  in Portugal.


This French garden at Varengeville- sur Mer in Normandy was less formal.

As were these glorious borders at Dyffryn gardens in South Wales


But there then there are places that have it all…..

Dumfries House in Ayrshire, possibly my favourite garden ever*.  All my favourite flowers, delphiniums, cornflowers, poppies, lavender, it was absolutely gorgeous. The house is beautiful too, it’s a great day out.  But the joy of visiting gardens is that DogS can come too**. That’s why we chose Villandry as our Loire chateau.

Like many others we’ve been spending quite a lot of lockdown time in the garden. But it’s still very much a work in progress.  And of course at the mercy of bambi and the  bunnies.

Until tomorrow,

Marina xx

garden bouquet19

Bringing the garden indoors***


*to visit.

**all the gardens mentioned in the UK or mainland Europe were dog friendly at the time of visiting

***that’s from last year, the sweet peas are at least a month away from flowering

Baking again

I had planned on not eating cake, chocolates and puddings for the next few months after a massive binge at Easter.


Things have not really gone to plan.

First MrS made ice cream, and then there have been sooooo many bargain chocolates in the shops. Calling out to me to be saved.

So today which started out a little grey and wet seemed to be an ideal time to do some comfort baking.

A few weeks ago I came across a recipe for a Portugese Orange Pudding from Sarah Beattie *. It was delicious and reminded me of some of the things we’d eaten in Guimaraes.  In fact it was so delicious that we ate it all up before I had a chance to take a photo, hence the empty plate above.

I was a bit worried it might have been beginners luck


ingredients all measured out

I’d halved the ingredients, I didn’t want to be too greedy. And so had to estimate the cooking time. Would it work second time around?

All mixed up and ready to go. Hmm, a bit too much air beaten into the eggs?

Out of the oven and ready to roll………it’s a bit bubbly.


But I think I just about got away with it.

And the finished product


seems to be ok

But as they say “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”

That’s going to have to wait a while, it needs to cool down first.

And since the sun has come out


I’ve managed to put the washing out too

I think I’ll go and give  MrS a hand in the garden. That way I won’t feel so guilty eating it later .

Enjoy your Saturday and stay safe.

Until tomorrow


*Check out her page, it’s full of lovely recipes. The one I made was posted around the 16th April.

Taking time to explore

Once upon a time we took a trip to Europe.  MrS, DogS and me.

Well it seems like a long time ago. Even at the time we felt it might be  a kind of a “last hurrah”.  We didn’t know how easy a trip like that would be after Brexit. To be able to pack up the car and drive down through England, into the tunnel and on through France,  and Spain, to Portugal.

And back again, but following a different route.

our outward journey

Where we  had an (almost) week long stay in Guimaraes. “Aqui Nasceu Portugal”*

We didn’t have the best weather so couldn’t make the most of the terrace in Casa Porta Nova but we made full use of the rest of the lovely townhouse.

the views up and down the street

I read in a guide somewhere that you could see all the sights of Guimaraes on a day out from  Porto. Well maybe you can,  but it wouldn’t be nearly so much fun.  We visited most of the museums, climbed to the top of Penha, rode the cable car back down, shopped, and extended our portfolio of TV property improvement shows.

MrS even baked bread using his sourdough starter that we’d taken along too.

And we ate.  Perhaps the most famous Portuguese delicacy is the Pasteis de Nata and we certainly ate plenty of those. But they’re not the only pastry available, one particularly rainy day we comforted ourselves with these sweet and savoury delights.

And less traditional choices were also available.

At the  Ducal Palace. we almost by passed the temporary exhibition. After all the Inquisition isn’t  the most appealing of subjects. We entered through a door unlocked for ticket holders and closed firmly behind us. Once inside it wasn’t a cheery exhibition and featured possibly the most gruesome set of artefacts I’ve ever seen.   But I spent most of my time reading the boards which gave an unflinching description of the way religious doctrine was used to scapegoat a minority, for what were largely economic reasons. So long ago but so familiar.

The exhibition is over now,  and of course the whole museum is currently closed.  But if you get a chance, sometime when we can travel again, Guimaraes is well worth a few days of your time. Meanwhile I hope that washing is still hung from balconies, Pasteis de Nata are baked, and our host Anthony remains safe and well.


Until tomorrow


*Portugal was born here