Pages from Aunt Kate's Recipe Book

Adventure Island

"These were seriously good jam tarts!"

When Scott and Jack Carter arrive at Stone Cottage on a grey rainy day they think that this could be the most boring summer ever. How wrong can you be! They meet Emily and Drift and soon realise that on Castle Key island mystery and adventure lurk around every corner.

And, what's more, the food is great too!

Aunt Kate (technically, the boys' great aunt) cooks up an endless supply of breakfasts, packed lunches, delicious dinners, scrumptious puddings, and best of all, cakes and cookies.

But don't think that Aunt Kate spends all day slaving away in the kitchen! She still finds plenty of time to write those best-selling romantic novels with soppy covers and to run the Cornish Writers' Guild. More intriguingly though, she seems to know rather a lot about codes and crime . . . it must be from all those Dirk Ransom spy novels she reads! Or is there more to Aunt Kate than meets the eye?

Jack has persuaded Aunt Kate to give him some of her awesome recipes so that he can share them with you here. What better way to spend a rainy day than baking a big batch of gingerbread or a chocolate cake to munch on while you curl up in your favourite chair and read the latest Adventure Island book!

If you know a great recipe that you think Aunt Kate might like to add to her collection (and which Scott, Jack and Emily would love to eat, of course) you could send it in to the e-mail address in the speech bubble below (don't forget to ask an adult's permission first).

Aunt Kate hands round cakes and biscuits - again!

Aunt Kate is always busy after Halloween, using up all the pumpkins that Scott and Jack have carved. Here are two of her favourite recipes.
American Pumpkin Pie
If you like custard tarts, you'll love this - apart from a slight orange hue, you might not even notice the pumpkin in a blind taste test (as officially proven by Jack who vowed he would never eat pumpkin as it is the evil overlord of the vegetable kingdom.)
Pumpkin Ginger Loaf
Redcurrant Fancy-Pants 

Aunt Kate's garden is full of redcurrant bushes. At first Jack thought that Scott was kidding him when he said the bright red berries were edible - they looked so shiny and jewel-like, he was sure they had to be some kind of deadly evil poison, like holly or yew. When he did try one, he wasn't that impressed either - they're a lot sourer than they look. But once transformed by Aunt Kate's baking magic, they're a whole different ball game - redcurrant muffins, redcurrant meringue pie, and best of all this redcurrant and almond tart.

Mrs Loveday gave Aunt Kate this recipe. She'd found it on the Daily Mail On-line website. Aunt Kate has adapted it a bit - originally it was for blackcurrants not redcurrants.   And it's not really terribly fancy-pants;  that's just what Mrs Loveday kept calling it. It's meant to be
Frangipane Tart - frangipane is a French word that means a kind of almond sponge - but Jack, Scott and Emily all agreed that fancy-pants sounded better, so it stuck.


  • 75g soft butter 
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 200g plain flour
  • 20g ground almonds

    70g soft butter
    100g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 egg white extra
  • 125g fresh redcurrants (washed and removed from stalks)

    1 tbsp icing sugar

    23cm tart tin about 2-3cm deep (one with a removable bottom is best)


    1. For the pastry, cream the butter with the sugar in a food processor, then beat in the egg, and add the flour and ground almonds. Bring the dough together into a ball and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
    2. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/375F/gas 5.
    3. Roll the pastry dough out on a lightly floured surface and line the base and sides of the tart tin. The pastry can be a bit sticky and fragile (especially if you are making this on a hot summer day). If so, you may just need to squidge bits of the pastry in and flatten with your fingers rather than doing it in one big rolled-out piece - don't worry, it will be fine! Let the sides come up a bit higher than the edges of the tart tin if there is enough pastry.

      4. Prick the pastry base with a fork all over.
      Place some foil over the top and either add baking beans (or, what I do, which is use the base of a slightly smaller tart or cake tin - it just needs to weigh the pastry down a bit to stop it puffing up,

      5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then remove the foil and beans and cook for another 5-10 minutes until starting to colour.

      6. For the filling, cream the butter and sugar in a food processor until light and fluffy, then add the ground almonds, the egg and egg white and mix to a smooth cream.

      7. Spoon the filling into the pastry case and smooth the top. Scatter the redcurrants thickly and evenly over (you don't need to press them under the filling - they will do it themselves as it rises!)

      8. Bake for 45 minutes until spongy, golden and firm (check after 30 minutes - you make need to arrange some foil over the outside crust edge to stop it burning).

      9. Leave to cool a little, then dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or cold with crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.

      You can make this with blackcurrants instead of redcurrants if you like - or a mix. You could also use frozen rather than fresh.

      Aunt Kate says that this recipe was given to her by Mrs Loveday who had saved it from The Daily Mail On Line. Frangipane simply means a kind of almond-sponge. Mrs Loveday

Super-easy choc-courgette cake 
Jack says, "Aunt Kate is always sneaking vegetables from her garden into her baking - especially courgettes, which, let's face it, aren't exactly in anyone's top ten favourite things to eat. This chocolate cake was so good I would never have suspected that any of the green monsters lurked within."


  • 250g plain flour
  • 375g caster sugar
  • 65g cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons bicarb of soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 350ml vegetable oil
  • 340g grated courgette
  • 45-90g chopped walnuts (optional)
  • Method
    1. Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease and flour a large loaf tin.
    2. Grate the courgette (no need to peel it). Wrap in a clean tea towel and squeeze hard to squish out as much water as you can.
    3. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarb, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add the eggs and oil, mix well. Fold in the nuts and courgette until they are evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared tin.
    4. Bake for about 60 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. (this is a big cake so you may find it takes even more than 60 minutes - if it looks to be getting over-cooked on top before being cooked in the middle, cover with foil).
    5. Cool cake before turning out of the tin. The cake is perfect on its own or best of all with some creme fraiche. It's not too sweet. But if, like Jack, you have a sweet tooth you could sprinkle icing sugar on top or ice it with chocolate, lime or a cream-cheese icing. It's also good warmed up a little in the microwave and served with ice cream and raspberries as a pudding.
  • Adapted from a recipe on

Choc-beetroot ginger muffins

Aunt Kate says that this recipe is based on one she saw on Saturday Kitchen and found on the BBC website. She also says that beetroot can be used in lots of delicious cake recipes and goes really well with chocolate, ginger and chili.

can you see a hint of pink?

75g/2½oz cocoa powder

(you can use drinking chocolate but reduce the amount of sugar as drinking chocolate contains sugar.)

180g/6½oz plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

250g/8½oz caster sugar

250g/8½oz cooked beetroot (You can buy it ready-cooked but make sure you don't get the kind that is soaked in vinegar! If you have raw beetroot, chop into quarters and roast in the over until tender. Allow to cool, and rub the skins off once cooked.)

3 large eggs

200ml/7fl oz corn or sunflower oil

One ball of preserved ginger, chopped (if you don’t like ginger, you could use a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead.)


   Preheat the oven to 180C/355F/Gas 4. Arrange 12 paper muffin cases in a tin.

   Sift the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder into a bowl. Mix in the sugar, and set aside.

   Purée the beetroot in a food processor. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the oil and blend until smooth. Stir in the chopped ginger (or vanilla.)

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the beetroot mixture and lightly mix. Pour into the muffin cases.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is firm when pressed with a finger.

Cool on a wire rack.

Eat! Nice served with crème fraiche.

This is what Jack thought of them . . . 
Jack wolfed down six of them before Scott told him that they contained beetroot.
 ‘What, that slimy red salady stuff?’ he spluttered. Everyone knew that beetroot was revolting. It stained all the other food with its vinegary pinkness. It was as if Barbie and Voldermort had got together and hatched a plot to create the world’s most evil vegetable.
‘Yeah, there’s loads of beetroot in these.'  Scott helped himself to another muffin. ‘Delicious!’
Jack thought Scott was winding him up. But Aunt Kate nodded and pointed to the pile of muddy roots on the kitchen table.  ‘They’re from Mrs Loveday’s vegetable garden.’
Well that explains it, Jack thought. Mrs Loveday is clearly trying to poison me.
That reminded him of the time he and Emily had thought that Kelly Mann was trying to poison Mrs Loveday with chocolate cakes in Dotty Tea Rooms.  They’d been wrong that time.
Jack gazed at the chocolate muffins. There were only six left and if he wasn’t careful Scott would scoff the lot. He’d better just try another one to be sure. He took a small bite and then a bigger one.  No, he had to admit, even with the beetroot-thing going on, they still tasted exactly like extra-chocolatey chewy-gooey muffins. Maybe he was going to have to reconsider his relationship with beetroot. And, he thought, this means that cake is now officially part of my five-a-day. In fact, if he ate another three of these muffins it would take him up to ten and he could officially skip eating any vegetables tomorrow too. ‘Result!’

Creamy Chocolate Fudge
By the Usborne activities Christmas cookbook

Here's an exciting new recipe ! This one is different to all the others, because it doesn't come from Aunt Kate's recipe book. It was sent to us by a cool Adventure Island reader called Cara, and it's one of her favourite recipes. Jack has tried it out and it's one of his favourites now too! He ate a whole batch in one sitting!

75g full fat cream cheese
350g icing sugar
1 level tablespoon of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of oil for wiping
75g plain chocolate drops
40g butter
A shallow 15cm square cake tin
Greaseproof paper

1.     Put the cream cheese in to a bowl. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa through a sieve into the bowl too. Mix well.
2.     Put the cake tin on some greaseproof paper and draw around the outline with a pencil and cut it out just inside the line.
3.     Use a pastry brush or paper towel to wipe oil around the sides and on the paper to.
4.     Heat water until it bubbles in a saucepan then take it off the heat next add the butter and chocolate until they melt then stir in a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture.
5.     Pour the chocolate mix in to the cream cheese mixture then beat them together with a wooden spoon until creamy.
6.     Spoon the mix in to the baking tin and push the mix to the corners then use the back of the spoon to make the top as flat and smooth as possible.
7.     Put the fudge in to the fridge for 2 hours or until firm
8.     Use a knife to loosen the edges of the fudge and turn it out on to a large plate then remove the paper.
9.     Cut the fudge in to squares then put the plate in to the fridge for 2 hours again until hard.


Now back to Aunt Kate's recipes . . .

Blackberry Cobbler

It is so yum that Scott ate half of it before I could take a picture . . .
110 g butter
140 g plain flour
150 g sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
180 ml milk
A handful or two of blackberries
Melt the butter in a small square roasting pan or you can use a ceramic dish, the sort you would make a crumble in (if you do, you will probably need to melt the butter in a saucepan or microwave first, then pour it in).
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder in a bowl. Stir in the milk and mix well.
Pour into the pan with the butter. You DON’T have to mix it into the butter, just kind of spread it about.
Sprinkle the berries all over the top.
If you use plums or cherries, halve and stone them first.
Bake for about 30 minutes until golden.
The berries usually sink to the bottom. The batter should be set in the middle and a bit crispy round the edges (these are the best bits!)
Let cool slightly. Eat warm with cream or ice cream (loads of it!)
Aunt Kate said she got this recipe from a friend called Mary who runs the Old Parkdale Inn in Oregon in America.


Old-fashioned Gingerbread

Jack looked at Aunt Kate. Would it be rude to rush off so soon? And there was that plate of gingerbread on the table.'Go on!' Aunt Kate laughed. 'You can unpack when you get back. And I'll put the gingerbread in a bag for you to take with you.' The Mystery of the Vanishing Skeleton

how squidgy is that?
350 g flour (mix of 1/4 plain and 3/4 self-raising)
175 g soft brown sugar (light or dark or a mixture)
175 g butter (very soft)
1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
A good pinch of salt
About 5 tablespoons golden syrup (you might like to use some of the syrup out of a jar of stem ginger to replace one or two tablesspoons of the golden syrup)

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Mix all the ingredients in a food processor until it just starts to come together into a crumbly mass that sticks together when you press it down. If it's so dry that it falls apart add a little more syrup at a time and keep going until it is sticky enough - measuring tablespoons of syrup is not really an exact science!
Tip the crumbly dough into a shallow baking tin - it can be any shape. I use a rectangular one, about 20 cm by 34 cm.
 Ease it down and press it out to the edges with your fingers.
Press all over with the back of a fork to make a decorative pattern.
Cook in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown (check early and be careful not to over-cook).
Cut into squares in the pan. Leave to firm up for about 10 minutes before turning it out onto a cooling rack.
Aunt Kate’s Top Tip: If you like your gingerbread really gingery, you can chop some pieces of stem ginger and stir into the mixture before baking.
This keeps well in a tin (if Jack doesn't eat it all before it even gets into the tin!)


Anytime Chocolate Fudge Cake

Jack had the brainwave of asking Aunt Kate if they could take a picnic tea up to the treehouse and soon they were hoisting sandwiches and pork pies and crisps and chocolate cake and a big bottle of apple juice up to the platform...The Mystery of the Missing Masterpiece.

great for birthdays - but why wait?

For the cake . . .
175 g plain chocolate
175 g soft butter
175 g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
90 p plain flour
90 g ground almonds

For the fudge icing . . .
75 g sugar
50 g butter
125 plain chocolate
75 g evaporated milk

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Grease and flour two small round cake tins.
Break the chocolate into pieces and melt gently without over-heating.
Cream together the butter and sugar in a food processor or by hand.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Beat the yolks and then beat into the sugar and butter mixture one by one.
Stir in the melted chocolate and the ground almonds.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
Fold the egg whites and the flour gently into the mixture taking care not to over-mix it.
Gently pour half of the mixture into each of the cake tins.
Bake for about 20 minutes.
Allow to cool for a while in the tins, then gently turn out onto cooling rack.
For the icing, heat the evaporated milk and sugar in a small saucepan.
Bring it to the boil and simmer for five minutes to thicken.
Take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate (broken into pieces) and the butter. Stir until both are melted and the mixture is smooth.
Allow to cool for a while, and then use to sandwich the two cakes together and spread over the top (and sides if you want to).

Tip: Don’t leave the icing to cool for too long otherwise it can become too solid to spread properly. Dip a palette knife in hot water to make the icing spread more smoothly. You can decorate the cake with chocolate curls or buttons.


Carrie's All-American Choc-Banana Bread

This is the banana cake that Scott, Jack and Emily eat as part of their picnic on their first visit to the old cottage in Bosgoose Woods in The Mystery of the Kings' Ransom.

Jack says . . . 

"This is dead easy and just right for making on a rainy day during half-term. Just make sure you don’t eat all the chocolate before you add it to the mix!
Aunt Kate told me that she was given this recipe by a lovely writer friend of hers in America, called Carrie (Aunt Kate lived in various countries all over the world when she was working as a …. oops, I’m not going to say any more here, just in case you’ve not read The Mystery of the Invisible Spy and you don’t know about Aunt Kate’s secret life before she came to live in Castle Key and started writing soppy romance novels)."

yum - perfect for breakfast - or anytime!


80 g butter
280 g plain flour
150 g white sugar
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
100-150 g chocolate (can be plain or milk)
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons natural yoghurt (can be Greek or plain or even crème fraiche)
3 ripe bananas (the forgotten brown ones at the bottom of the fruit bowl are perfect for this)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Pre-heat the oven to 180 c
Grease and lightly flour a large loaf tin. (one that’s about 20 cm by 12 cm or similar is fine)

Melt the butter in pan or microwave and allow it to cool a little.
Mash the bananas with a fork.
Chop the chocolate into chunks – be careful when you’re doing this as chocolate can be quite hard, especially plain chocolate, and tends to fly off the chopping board in all directions (You can use chocolate chips instead, but if you chop the chocolate yourself you get bigger and better pieces.)
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in the chocolate chunks.
In a jug, beat the eggs. Add the mashed banana, melted butter, yoghurt, and vanilla and stir together.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir it all together. Don’t beat it too much, just stir until all the flour has disappeared. It will be quite thick and lumpy. If it seems very dry, you can add a drop of milk at this stage.
Pour the batter into the loaf tin (it will rise quite a lot so don’t fill the tin too full!) and bake for 50 – 60 minutes. The top should be well-browned. Check that it doesn’t seem too gooey in the middle before taking it out of the oven. Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack.
Slice and eat warm or cold.

You can also add walnuts too if you like them.
You could put the mixture into muffin cases and make choc-banana muffins instead of a loaf but you wouldn’t need to cook them for so long – probably only about 20 minutes, depending on the size.

And here is a link to Carrie's beautiful blog la pomme de portland where you will find lots more great recipes. 

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