Category Archives: Foodie Chit-Chat

Poppy Seed Cake-Filling – Bakalland Poppy Seed Filling

Fun in the Kitchen

Here’s the story of how I came to make my Poppy Seed Pudding – the secret is just to be a little bit courageous and creative:

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Poppy Seed Cake Filling

One day I saw a recipe for Pumpkin Roll,and thought “I’ll make that”. Well it didn’t happen!

Believing I had all the ingredients stored in my cupboard, I assembled all that I could, and only then discovered that a packet I had thought was “pumpkin mix” actually turned out to be “pumpkin soup mix”.

I might have just abandoned the pumpkin roll idea to make pumpkin soup instead, leaving the pumpkin roll to be made on some future occasion. But if I had followed that route, there would never have been a Poppy Seed Pudding a la Diana, and you would not be reading this story, so some good came out of it and, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining.

Although it was close to Halloween, the most popular time of the year for purchasing all things pumpkin, and in spite of a diligent and persistent search of local shops, I could not find any tins of pumpkin, or any pumpkin mix. If the London grocery stores were not full of pumpkin products now, they never would be. Eventually I bought a piece of fresh pumpkin at an astronomical price, left it lying around for a few days until it went fizzy and then had to throw it away, unused.

Undaunted, and determined to make some kind of roll, I cast around in my mind to think what else I could use.

I remembered a tin of Polish poppyseed cake-filling – Bakalland Masa Makova – I had bought a year ago from an ethnic grocery. As the instructions on the tin were in Polish, I was not sure how to use it, and too idle to look it up on the internet.

Poppy seed tin

Bakalland Masa Makova – Poppy Seed

The Pumpkin Roll Recipe was now no longer appropriate as I needed to substitute the pumpkin puree with the poppy seed. I thought the best thing would be to cobble together the best of two recipes. So I looked through a very old International Jewish Recipe Book which my mother had used in Africa in the 1950′s. Sure enough, there was a recipe for Swiss roll.

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A Vintage Recipe Book from 1950

The Most Important Thing to Remember:

Be confident in your cooking – It is usually possible to rescue a spoiled meal by creating something different but still tasty, and no-one will ever know the difference.

So, dodging between American cups and ounces and English cups, (fortunately not having to deal with grams because they do my head in), I knocked up the sponge mixture. One of the recipes called for 4 eggs, which I thought was excessive, and the other for 3, so I compromised using 3 large eggs.

Both recipes both called for waxed grease-proof paper, which I thought had gone out with the swinging 60’s, but obviously not. I had lots of silver foil (several rolls came from a house clearance I did when I was a lawyer doing probate work), so I substituted that, greasing it as required. The recipe stated heating to 350 degrees, but as my oven just has numbers, I guessed approximately Regulo 5.

Cooking went well for 10 minutes.

I opened the tin of Polish Poppy Seed Cake Filling, Bakalland Masa Makova, hoping it wasn’t out of date, and was a bit concerned that it looked too solid to use for a topping. I spread it on the nearly-cooked sponge and returned it to the oven expecting to melt it. After 15 minutes the poppy seed mix hadn’t melted, and sat on the top in a solid lump.

The original pumpkin roll recipe required soft cream cheese in the filling. I had some Philadelphia cream cheese, which is a fairly solid consistency, but I had every hope that it would melt when spread on the hot poppy seed filling. But no, It stuck to the mixture without melting at all.

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Some Ingredients and the Finished Product for Poppy Seed Pudding

Then I tried to remove the sponge from the base of the pan by rolling it, but I realized that the reason you are supposed to put the filling on later, and not at the time like I did, is because first you have to scrape the sponge off the pan, then turn it over and lay it on a cloth sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar, and only then should you put the filling on top and then roll it up.

Reader, believe me – you cannot perform these steps with a sticky, heavy mass which has stuck to the bottom of the pan.

I tried to lift the cake up with a fish-lift, sprinkling it in stages with confectioner’s sugar , but it started to break up. In my tussle with the fish-lift, I knocked over the icing sugar, covering the microwave and kitchen counter in with the white powder, and somehow some of the poppy seed mix even flew on to the cupboard door above it.

Rescue Procedure Philosophy – Ride with the tide, not against it:

Realizing this would never be a Swiss roll, roly poly cake, or mock pumpkin roll, because it would not roll up, I allowed the cake to break up, concentrating on lifting it out of the cake pan in as large chunks as possible and thence on to a plate.

Mission accomplished, except for a small portion which was left over and would not fit on the plate:

I put that portion in a pudding dish, and it was at this point, a Eureka Moment, that I realized that this could be the makings of a brand new delicious pudding, possibly to be eaten heated up, with a little cream cheese topping to make it a bit tart, and a splash of cream, or even ice cream. Alternatively it would be just right with custard.


E voila! The birth of a new dish – Poppy Seed Pudding a la Diana.

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Poppy Seed Pudding a la Diana

You can see the result in the photograph above.

Here’s the full Recipe for Poppy Seed Pudding Diana

As it’s nice with Custard here’s my Recipe – How to Make Custard the Easy Way

Here are 3 YouTube Videos Showing How to Make Poppy Seed Roll – try them all and see which one you prefer:

This Poppy Seed Roll – Polish style looks good:     Polish Poppy Seed Roll

Another Polish Poppy Seed Roll:   Polish Poppy Seed Roll Polish Makowiec

A Traditional Kosher Poppy Seed Roll: How to Make Leah’s (so) Simple Kosher Poppy Seed Roll

What do you do if and when you have a cooking disaster?

Do you throw it away in disgust and disappointment, or do you wax creative and manage to save the day?

Perhaps you’d do what anyone would do in a food emergency – open a packet and knock up the nearest equivalent to what you were planning to cook in the first case!

Do leave a comment  – I love to know who has visited, and get a little feedback

An English Brunch to Dream About

I’m almost swooning just thinking about this!

It all started as I sat at my trusty computer and smelt bacon cooking as it wafted into my room from the kitchen. Full of hope and greed, I wandered through to the kitchen, only to find that my partner had cooked himself breakfast and eaten all the bacon without offering me any.

 That bacon smell is so pungent and so good that, some years ago, it actually caused my daughter to come off her year-long stint of being a vegetarian, but that’s a different story.

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Anyway, much saddened and disappointed, I looked around to see what was in the fridge, to give myself a mid-day treat. And this is what I found:

  • A small piece of supermarket flatbread with goats milk and caramellised onions
  • 2 Slices of bacon
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms

I put the flatbread in the oven for 10 minutes, and cooked the bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms to perfection on my grill pan. I knew this was going to be good – the aroma had all my senses going before I even sat down to eat it.

When I served it onto my plate, lovingly and artistically, I knew this was going to be one of the best brunches I could ever have, so I photographed it to share with you all. Sorry you can’t smell or taste it – Me, I was left almost swooning with delight and anticipation.

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 After the photography session I sat down and consumed it happily, safe in the knowledge that it was a hundred times better than the meal my partner didn’t cook for me.

Here’s a Shopping Tote I designed on Zazzle:

You can put your own pictures and/or wording on all sorts of products, or buy something you see, like this Tomato Tote  Bag:

Kitchen Disaster Averted

When cooking curry, I often like to cook a bit extra, so that I can put some aside and freeze it to eat later – I normally label and date the boxes.

Not long ago, I had invited a friend over for dinner. I didn’t feel in the mood for cooking from scratch, so, knowing he likes curry, I looked in the freezer and pulled out a couple of food boxes of two different chicken curries which I had cooked and frozen recently, and labelled accordingly.

Then, just before said friend arrived, my partner said why don’t we ask our neighbour across the road to pop over for a meal at the same time, so she could meet our friend. I phoned and she said she’d come over shortly…. So now we didn’t have quite enough food.

I scuffled around in the freezer and found a third curry, unlabelled, with plenty of greenish coconut sauce and onions, and decided it would do.

curry frozen cropped

I half unfroze the three curries in the microwave, and then, whilst the rice was cooking, I got out my wok and chucked in the three curries, thinking that, although the sauces were each slightly different, they would still taste nice all mixed in together, as I usually use similar spice and herbs.

I began to stir the curries to combine them, congratulating myself on being able to throw together a gourmet(ish) meal in 15 minutes. Then, to my horror, as the sauces finished melting, I discovered that two of them were indeed chicken, but the third coconut green curry was a fish curry. Can you imagine? Lumps of chicken, and a few lumps of fish floating around on top? Thinking quickly, I carefully fished out the fish pieces, popped them back in one of the boxes, and hid the evidence in the fridge. It was too late to remove the sauce, which had blended in with the chicken sauce.

I tasted it:Unusual, but not unpleasant – fish taste somewhat disguised by coconut, chilli and spicy flavors.

I said not a word: Just served it over the rice, and presented it to my friends with my best hostess smile. And they ate it all up without a murmur, one of them even stating that it was delicious.

Moral of the story?

(a) Always label the food you freeze; and

(b) In the event of pending disaster, don’t panic – just act as though nothing has happened, and people will have faith in your ability.

Do you think we throw away too much food?

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What a Waste – I’m Not a Mathematician, but if you Multiply This by 365 days, You’d Have Enough to Feed One Person for a Month

And are supermarket “sell-by” and “use-by” dates a bit of a con to encourage us to buy more food, and throw out perfectly edible stuff?

Are you worried about exceeding these dates, or do you just use them as a guideline, but no more?

Have you been ill because you re-cooked chicken? If so, has it stopped you?

Have your habits changed during the recession? If they stuck to the rules, how would poor people such as beggars and the homeless fare – would they relax the health rules a bit, and, if so, would they necessarily become ill from food poisoning?

Would You Eat Any of This Cheese or Would You Throw it Away in Disgust?

I would cut away the greeny bits and eat the rest, which would be very ripe, and therefore  very strong, which is how I like my cheese.

Whilst on the subject of thrift:

A new very cheap foodstore has just opened in North West London on 3rd February 2016: It’s owned by founder of EasyJet, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, and is called easyFoodstore.  Apparently it is selling everything at 25p as a promotional gimmick, but nothing will later be sold at more than 50p. and it doesn’t sell fresh food.  It is intended for people on a very low income and the papers say it sold out completely today – empty shelves and disappointed customers all round before closing time, and it had to close early as there was nothing left.