Fact Sheet- BBC Down to Earth gardening programme -recipes and home-made presents

From the latest BBC Radio Leicester Christmas Party programme. Each week I take in something I’ve made, using produce from my garden. It’s usually cake, or a vegetable pie, jam or preserves. This week it is festive Beetroot and Spice Cake. I sowed a 1.3m by 3m plot with mixed beetroot seeds in August and September. The mild autumn means I’ve now got a bumper crop, and I’m trying all different kinds of recipes to use them.

Here’s a link to the programme. You can listen again on your computer or i-pad, or live each Sunday 12-1pm on Freeview 721. http://bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05nbmln The programme starts at 06.06 on the timeline,

This is a lovely moist cake with a spicy lemon tang. The recipe came via a shout out on twitter where I am known as @kgimson. I must credit The Propagator @cavershamjj for this wonderful recipe.

Beetroot cake

3 small beetroot 250g

250g Butter

1 lemon -grated rind and juice

1 cup caster sugar -220g

4 free range eggs

1 cup – 150g dried currants or mixed dried fruit

1 cup- 150g plain flour

1 cup- 150g SR. Flour

Pinch mixed spice

Caster sugar for dusting

20cm deep cake tin, lined with greaseproof paper

Method :

Peel and coarsely grate the beetroot.

Use a hand whisk or food processor to mix sugar, butter and lemon rind.

Add the eggs a little at a time. Mixture might curdle, but it will come back again.

Fold in flour, mixed spice and currants.

Add the beetroot and lemon juice.

Cook for one and half hours in a moderate oven, 160 to 180 degrees. Cover with baking parchment after 15 minutes, to prevent burning.

When cooked and cool, sprinkle with icing sugar. Can be frozen for 3 months. Lasts one week in a sealed container.

Cherry marzipan chocolates

As it’s Christmas, I took in these home-made chocolates. So easy to make. I preserved my home-grown cherries in alcohol in the summer. Here’s the recipe

Cherries preserved in alcohol and drained- or glacé cherries soaked overnight in cherry brandy.

Block of marzipan

Bar of Bourneville dark chocolate or similar 70 percent cocoa butter chocolate.


Slightly warm the marzipan in the microwave so that it is mouldable. Drain the cherries and dry on paper towel. Make a small circle of marzipan in your hand and enclose the cherry. Roll the marzipan cherries in melted chocolate and place in the fridge to cool. These make delicious home-made presents.

Family favourite – Aunty Doris – Crispy Cakes

Something we make every Christmas. Much loved by all the family- as was our Aunty Doris. Hopefully, writing this here preserves this recipe for my children, should they ever come looking in the future. It’s good to have traditions that pass from one generation to another.

The recipe is very simple. It is equal amounts of butter, marshmallows and dairy toffee, all melted together in a heavy-based jam pan. When melted, add Kellogg’s Rice Crispies until all the melted mixture is coated. Pour out into a shallow metal tray and leave to cool slightly. Cut into squares before it cools completely.

I also like to use materials from my garden for home-made presents. The team got some of these fir cone bird feeders.

Simply melt a block of lard in a heavy based jam pan. Add bird seed, grated cheese, breadcrumbs, apple peelings, dried fruit and crushed peanuts. You can spoon the mixture onto the fir cones. It makes a marvellously messy project for young children. If time is short, you can simply add the fir cones to the pan and stir around. The mixture gets caught up in the open fir cone scales. Tie with a piece of festive ribbon, or some string and wrap in foil to dry. I’ve hung mine on the tips of my beech tree. Squirrels so far can’t get to them because the tips of the branches are too springy for them. I’ve also dangled them along my office window where a little robin comes each day for treats.

Each week I take in flowers I’ve grown in my garden. For Christmas I’ve harvested some Annabelle hydrangea seed heads and sprayed them silver. I wrote about these arrangements Here.

It certainly brightened up the radio station for the afternoon. And costs nothing, apart from a quick blast of florists spray.

Wishing you all a wonderful, happy Christmas. Down to Earth will be back on air in the New Year with lots of exciting ideas for what to grow in your garden, and the whole team giving help and advice to get the most from your plot. Thanks for listening in during 2017. I’ve enjoyed being the new girl on the team.

(I am not representing the BBC. Views are my own, and not necessarily those of the BBC.)

21 thoughts on “Fact Sheet- BBC Down to Earth gardening programme -recipes and home-made presents

    • Thank you Sasha. I love the blackberry recipes. Just right for me as the garden is literally surrounded by masses of arching brambles. Always full of fruit in the summer. I’m going to try your delicious looking blackberry cake too. Happy Christmas and New Year. Thanks for reading. x

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Funnily enough I’m listening to Gardener’s Question Time whilst writing this. The cake looks absolutely delicious Karen. I missed out on growing beetroot at the allotment this year so hope to make up for it next year. Will copy your recipe in readiness 🙂 Wishing you a Happy Christmas and I hope that 2018 treats you and your garden kindly.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Anna. I got the idea of s fact sheet from them. It saves people scribbling like mad to write down plant names. And there’s never enough time to write down recipes . Thanks for reading. Have a really wonderful Christmas and New Year. Best wishes for 2018! Karen xx


  2. Hi Karen,
    Beetroot is a favourite of mine too. One of the best ways to enjoy them is to spiralise them, toss them in seasoned oil and roast until the huge pile just begins to collapse. So delicious I’ll be having on Christmas Day. Festive Greetings!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. We used to spread peanut butter onto pine cones and then roll them in birdseed. It was a cool project when we were kids. I did not think of using by products of other projects that birds might like. It would make more than using purchased material.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Karen some recipes with a delicious appearance. I really like what he says about the recipe “Family favorites, Aunty Doris – Crunchy cakes”. Keep the tradition in the family, because the recipe was from her Aunty Doris and continue for many generations in the family and that’s why she writes it in her post. It is endearing. I love bird feeders with fir cone. They are very easy to make: I am glad that every day a robin visits it to eat. Deserved holiday at the BBC. I’ll listen to it next year. Give many loving memories to your Mother and congratulate her on Christmas in my name. Karen, I know I congratulated you on Christmas, but I want to say Merry Christmas to you and your whole family, full of health, peace and love. May it be a lovely Christmas and have a great time together. Happy Holidays! Karen a lot of love for you. Very loving greetings from Margarita.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Margarita. Merry Christmas and much love to you and yours. happy holidays. I’m off now to cook and wrap presents and generally mess about with more Christmas decorations. Much love – and thanks for all your support this year. It’s so much appreciated. Sending many hugs your way xxx


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