Cup Of Tea Fruit Loaf – Memories of An Australian Country Kitchen – Kate McGhie

Apple Blossom Pie cover

“Cup-of-Tea Fruit Loaf

This is a family name given to this moist and densely fruited loaf, one of which always seemed to be in the cake tin when visitors dropped in for a cup of tea. In addition to dried vine fruits, sultanas, raisins and currants, other dried fruits including figs, apple, pear or apricot add to the lusciousness. The fruit plumps in cold black tea. Use whichever tea you prefer but Lapsang Souchong gives it an intriguingly divine slightly smoky flavour.


Cup-of-tea fruit loaf

Cup-of-Tea Fruit Loaf
Recipes and Images from Apple Blossom Pie by Kate McGhie (Murdoch Books).

Start to finish : 1 1/4 hours serves : 18


125 g (41/2 oz) butter

1 cup (250 ml/9 fl oz) strong black tea

2 cups (370 g/13 oz) mixed chopped dried fruit

2 cups (300 g/101/2 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ginger and allspice

1 cup (220 g/73/4 oz) white granulated sugar

1 large free-range egg, whisked


Put the butter, tea and dried fruit in a pan over medium heat. Bring the mixture just to the boil, reduce the heat and gently simmer for 2–3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool completely.


Preheat the oven to 175°C (345°F) (fan-forced 155°C/310°F). Grease and line a loaf pan about 23 x 12 cm (9 x 41/2 in) with two layers of baking paper.


Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices together into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar, fruit mixture and the egg. Mix well and fill into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45–50 minutes, or until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove the loaf from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes on a rack before turning out. Let it cool completely before wrapping and storing.



and a bit more :

The loaf can be sliced when cold but the flavour vastly improves if you resist eating it for a day or two. The men on the farm slathered butter on the slices. I think it is rich enough on its own. Mum put a small container of water in the oven which she claimed kept the cake moist and gave it a lovely golden crust.”



My Version – with chopped almonds was just as delicious.



Post Script: In A Dark Dark Wood – Ruth Ware

In A Dark Dark Wood cover

In A Dark Dark Wood

Ruth Ware

Random House UK, Vintage Publishing

Harvill Secker

ISBN: 9781473512344



Someone’s getting married. Someone’s getting murdered.


In a dark, dark wood


Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.


There was a dark, dark house


Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?


And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room


But something goes wrong. Very wrong.


And in the dark, dark room….


Some things can’t stay secret for ever.


My View:

A brooding and atmospheric read – Ms Ware certainly knows how to set a scene and places her characters in situations that scream – “Don’t go there, turn around, and go home, listen to you intuition…” Bleak isolated locations, a house that is cold, sterile and seems to be waiting… then it starts snowing, the phone line is dead…the guests seem just that little bit weird and very quirky…. Would I stay there – no way! Would I go for a run in an isolated forest in near dark conditions when it is freezing outside? No.


This is the stuff that is made from your worst nightmares. Clever, atmospheric, a great introspective about relationships and the nature of the evil. This is manipulation pared to the bone, exposed at a cellular level.


This is a great debut novel – a writer to keep a look out for.


Post Script: First One Missing – Tammy Cohen

Compulsive reading!

First One Missing Tammy Cohen Cover

First One Missing

Tammy Cohen

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers


ISBN: 9780857522771



A page-turning psychological thriller with the gripping plot of GIRL ON A TRAIN and the chilling suspense of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP …


There are three things no-one can prepare you for when your daughter is murdered:


– You are haunted by her memory day and night


– Even close friends can’t understand what you are going through.


– Only in a group with mothers of other victims can you find real comfort.


But as the bereaved parents gather to offer support in the wake of another killing, a crack appears in the group that threatens to rock their lives all over again.


Welcome to the club no one wants to join.



My View:

Compulsive reading!

Tammy Cohen writes crisp and pure psychological thrillers –the emphasis is on the story and the lives affected by a shocking event. Ms Cohen is a skilled writer; she writes a great narrative that engages and keeps the pages turning. Ms Cohen shows a great understanding of characterisations – her characters have a depth that makes them credible and allows the reader to empathise with or understand the motives of. Further the twist in plot that is revealed toward the end is a total surprise – you will not see this one coming, you will never guess this one at all – there are no breadcrumbs scattered along the way that lead you to this conclusion – there is just surprise, and sadness and understanding.


A great read! I will definitely be adding Ms Cohen to my list of must read authors.

In The Mail 20th September 2015

More great books arrived  in the mail this week! Where to start? Well I have had  sneak peak at Shakespeare, Not Stirred – a fun and delicious read. My husband has already picked through this lot and read Six Square Metres – a great read for the home gardener, and as a fan of Peter Corris Gun Control looks very inviting… So may exciting choices.


In the mail 20/9/015

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies – David Herbert’s Best Home Cooking – David Herbert

I made these delicious and simple to make cookies/biscuits as a snack to refuel the engines of the hard workers making daughter’s new house ready to move into (the workers – husband, daughter and myself)  🙂  There is a fence to keep the Dempsey Dog in – needed  immediately, some bricks to the front door (to stop the sand and grit getting in until the gardens are established, painting, sweeping, mopping… packing, unpacking….), a busy week ahead! A cup of coffee and a Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie  –  are just what is needed to keep us going. (These are meant to last 5 days in an airtight container – but I think that is wrong   – I think 2 days at the most!!) In fact I might just need to try one now.


Chewy Choc Chip Cookies

David Herbert’s Best Home Cooking – David Herbert, Lantern. Penguin Aust.

Apple Blossom Pie – Memories Of An Australian Country Kitchen – Kate McGhie

Apple Blossom Pie cover

“Apple Blossom Pie


Because it took time (compared with most other dishes) to make and was a bit fiddly, apple blossom pie was reserved for VIO (very important occasions)—to impress. It was a special birthday treat as we got older. It was the first dessert I made with stars in my eyes and a full heart of love for a young man of tender age. It worked! He is alongside me still. In retrospect I think possibly it was a notch in the culinary prowess belt for a cook to be able to present such a dessert. Guests seemed to easily forgive any prior meal dish ‘not quite up to standard’ when this was served.

It is a layered pie starting with a sweet pastry case and a layer each of fruit purée, custard and marshmallow. The crowning glory was piped pale pink cream stars to resemble blossom. It was always served on your best flat crystal or silver dish.

Apple Blossom Pie

Apple Blossom Pie
Recipes and Images from Apple Blossom Pie by Kate McGhie (Murdoch Books).


Start to finish : about 1 1/2 hours serves : 8


125 g (41/2 oz) cold butter, diced

1/3 cup (75 g/22/3 oz) caster (superfine) sugar

2 cups (300 g/101/2 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted

pinch of salt

1 free-range egg yolk

2 tablespoons iced water


First layer

2–3 large apples

1/2 cup (125 ml/4 fl oz) water

1/2 cup (110 g/33/4 oz) caster (superfine) sugar

2 plump passionfruit


Second layer

200 ml (7 fl oz) condensed milk

1 large free-range egg yolk

juice of 1 lemon


Third layer

2 teaspoons gelatine powder

juice from cooked apples and made up to 1 cup (250 ml/9 fl oz) with water if necessary

1/2 teaspoon lemon essence

1 large free-range egg white

pinch of salt

red food colouring

whipped, sweetened cream


Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (fan-forced 160°C/315°F).


To make the pastry, put the butter, sugar, sifted flour and salt in a food processor. Pulse blend until coarse knobbly crumbs form. Add the egg yolk and water and process until the mixture clumps. If the mixture is a little dry add more water. Tip the dough out onto a flour-dusted bench and quickly and lightly knead into a smooth ball. Roll out to line a 20 cm (8 in) pie plate or flan pan. Trim the edges and pinch the pastry together with your fingers to decorate. Prick the bottom to prevent it rising in the centre and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Bake for 12–15 minutes or until golden and crisp.


To make the first layer, peel, core and slice the apples. Put in a pan with the water and sugar and simmer until the apples are soft and pulpy. Drain the syrup and reserve it for the third layer. Stir the passionfruit pulp into the apple purée and refrigerate. When cold spoon the mixture into the cooled pastry case, smooth the top and refrigerate.


To make the second layer, put the condensed milk with the egg yolk and lemon juice in an electric mixer and beat until smooth. Carefully spread over the apple layer and return the pie to the fridge.


To make the third layer, dissolve the gelatine in the reserved warm apple syrup, stir in the lemon essence and set aside to cool. Whisk the egg white and salt in an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form and then colour a pale pink with red food colouring. Keeping the mixer on a high speed gradually add the partly set apple juice and continue beating until the mixture is thick and glossy. Pile on top of the pie and smooth evenly. Decorate with pale pink whipped sweetened cream ‘stars’.


and a bit more :

The pastry and the apple purée can be made ahead of time. The gelatine mixture must be very wobbly, not too set or too liquid, when whipped into the egg white.”


Post Script: The Lost Girl – R L Stine

The Lost Girl Cover

R L Stine

The Lost Girl – A Fear Street Novel

St. Martin’s Press

St. Martin’s Griffin

ISBN: 9781250051639



Generations of children and teens have grown up on R.L. Stine’s bestselling and hugely popular horror series, Fear Street and Goosebumps. Now, the Fear Street series is back with a chilling new installment, packed with pure nightmare fodder that will scare Stine’s avid fan base of teen readers and adults. New student Lizzy Palmer is the talk of Shadyside High. Michael and his girlfriend Pepper befriend her, but the closer they get to her, the stranger she seems… and the more attractive she is to Michael. He invites her to join him on a snowmobile race that ends in a tragic accident. Soon, Michael’s friends start being murdered, and Pepper becomes convinced that Lizzy is behind the killings. But to her total shock, she and Michael are drawn into a tragic story of an unthinkable betrayal committed over 60 years ago. Frightening and tense in the way that only this master of horror can deliver, The Lost Girl is another terrifying Fear Street novel by the king of juvenile horror.



My View:

I have never read an R L Stine book before but as my children read many when they were teenagers I thought I would give this a shot and see what sort of energy and vibe this author exudes. I was firstly surprised by the level of horror/violence expressed in this book – (no spoilers) but the horse/oats/honey scene at the beginning is mind boggling and some of the later incidents are almost as horrific – I must admit I was surprised by the level of violence – this was not quite what I was expecting.


Story wise – I liked the dual time line/historical aspect of the narrative, but I think the ending was rushed – but as I am not in the target audience for this book maybe my concerns are more about my age and related expectations. I think this has the great makings for an adult horror story or film. Characters – were a little superficial and under developed for my liking but that being said again I am not the target audience for this book, teenagers may be more accepting than I was.


All in all an interesting read that I feel could be effectively developed to reach an adult audience.




Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Kaye Dobbie

Welcome to my blog Kaye Dobbie.

Kaye Dobbie

Kaye is an Australian author living on the central Victorian goldfields. She has been writing professionally ever since she won the Grafton Big River short story contest at the age of 18. Her career has undergone many changes, including writing Australian historical fiction under the name Lilly Sommers and penning romance novels as Sara Bennett. Kaye has written about, and been published in, many countries, but her passion for Australia shows in her current Harlequin Mira novels.

A big congratulations Kaye on the release of your new book, Sweet Wattle Creek.

Sweet Wattle Creek Kaye Dobbie Cover

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Kaye Dobbie:

I’m married to an Accountant called Rob and I know of at least two other writers who are also married to Accountants called Rob. (Not the same one I hasten to add!)


  1. At one stage we had six cats, all strays, a rescued dog and five gold fish. It was crowded.


  1. My mother’s sister married my father’s father. This has caused much confusion and many long explanations when it comes to me and my cousin. Because as well as being my cousin she became my step-aunt.


  1. I have an allergy to the dust in books and have to wear a mask when I’m sorting them.


  1. As a child I was home schooled. We lived on a yacht built by my father, and sailed up the east coast of Australia.


  1. I was once rescued by a Life Saver from a rip in the surf.


  1. I was almost School President, a job to which I would be totally unsuited.


  1. I’ve never felt comfortable in the water since Jaws.


  1. Once I was writing in my study, heard a rustle behind me, and when I turned around there was a large blue tongued lizard watching me.


10.  I have a strong desire to live on a small island far away from everything.



For more information visit


Post Script: Sweet Wattle Creek – Kaye Dobbie

History has never been so important.

Sweet Wattle Creek Kaye Dobbie Cover

Sweet Wattle Creek

Kaye Dobbie

Harlequin Australia

ISBN: 9781743693087


A vintage wedding dress reveals family secrets she never knew…


The chance discovery of a vintage wedding dress weaves together the fascinating stories of three women from different eras: Sophie, in hiding from a troubled past; Belle, who must lose everything to learn what really matters; and Martha, forced to give up those she loves in order to avoid exposure.


It’s 1930 and Belle Bartholomew has arrived in rural Sweet Wattle Creek to claim her inheritance – a run-down grand hotel formerly owned by Martha Ambrose. Determined to solve the mystery of her birth and the reason why she was bequeathed the hotel Belle runs into difficulties with the townsfolk and their desire to keep their secrets safe.


Sixty years later Sophie Matheson is on a quest to find Belle and her family after discovering the wedding dress. The Sweet Wattle Creek Centenary brings more challenges when her past catches up and she must fight for all that matters to her. Who were Belle and Martha and what links their lives together?



My View:

Kaye Dobbie has masterfully married two times fames to produce an exciting narrative that is both historical (1930’s) and contemporary (1980’s) fiction and there are aspects of life in both time periods that are relevant to the world we live in today. I found the history and social commentary of Australia between the wars and of the Great Depression illuminating; PTSD, the aftermath of war on families and communities, poverty, the role of women in society, unemployment were and are significant worldwide issues and it was exciting to learn a little more about this period by the device of using Sophie and Ian’s search for the provenance of the wedding dress.


Chapters alternate between the two periods and each chapter is clearly marked with the location, the year and whose voice we are listening to– Sophie’s (1980’s) or Belle’s (1930’s) – there is no chance of getting lost in this duality of time that sometimes happens in novels that employ this device – all is very clear and I thank the author for making it so – I never had to go back and re read to work out where I was or who I was listening to.


In both time periods we have protagonists that are strong, determined, resourceful and caring women. Dobbie writes her lead characters with poise, grace and humanity. The issue of small town attitudes and prejudices of the 1930’s – in particular the perceived social, economic and moral attitudes towards the “travellers,” the displaced victims of the Depression is comparable to attitudes today to the to the displaced people of Syria – the same fears and misconceptions surrounding their plight leapt out at me as I read this book. I think there is a lesson or two here we can all take from Belle and Michael’s attitudes of social responsibility.


Belle lived in a time of great upheaval, upheaval is a theme that is also prevalent in Sophie’s life too. Sophie’s story evokes much empathy and her situation is just as relevant to many women today as it was back in the 1980’s (no spoilers here.) Dobbie successfully reflects upon attitudes of the time as we discover more about the life and history of both female protagonists.


A blend of historical and contemporary fiction, with a dash of empathetic characters, drama, suspense and social commentary and Kaye Dobbie has created a recipe for success.



Post Script: Tennison – Lynda La Plante

A police procedural at it’s best!

Tennison Lynda La Plante Cover


Lynda La Plante

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781471140518



From the creator of the award-winning ITV series Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren, comes the fascinating back story of the iconic DCI Jane Tennison.

In 1972 Jane Tennison, aged 22, leaves the Metropolitan Police Training Academy to be placed on probationary exercise in Hackney where criminality thrives. We witness her struggle to cope in a male-dominated, chauvinistic environment, learning fast to deal with shocking situations with no help or sympathy from her superiors. Then comes her involvement in her first murder case. No one witnessed the savage beating of a tragic young girl who, the post-mortem reveals, was pregnant when she died. The murder enquiry is soon running cold…


My View:

I predict this will be a number one seller!


In March 2014 Lynda La Plante announced that she was returning to writing about the character she created in the Prime Suspect series which later was adapted for a very successful TV series of the same name; anyone who is over the age of thirty will immediately recognise the name DCI Jane Tennison and the name of the first victim in this series, Della Mornay.


So it goes without saying that a new book – a prequel to this series based on Jane Tennisons’s early career and life will be immensely popular. I jumped at the chance of reading and reviewing this book knowing I would be in for a treat. I wasn’t disappointed.


This is a wonderful introduction to the character many of us are already familiar with- Jane Tennison. In this book we meet WPC Jane Tennison as she embarks on her probationary period with the Metropolitan Police based at Hackney – a very violent and rough part of London at the time. The 1970’s is a time of immense change in the world in general – feminism is speaking loudly to all the world, though not necessarily being heard or embraced by all – especially not by those in such strong empires of male power – such as the police force – Jane experiences firsthand sexism, discrimination, exploitation and bullying on a daily basis. The world of policing is rapidly changing in many other areas – forensic science is forging ahead, DNA profiling is making its presence felt and crimes scenes are being read in ways not considered in the past. Criminal behaviour (on the force and in the street) is also changing – gangs are more organised, harder drugs are being touted…bribery and corruption are the norm. Jane enters a world that offers her no favours, that does not recognise her talents or her ambition but slowly her determination and intelligence is making a mark. This is the world that shaped Jane into the DCI will all grew to know and love in Prime Suspect.


By the way – I also loved the music references in this novel – especially those of Janis Joplin and The Moody Blues, the couple of tracks mentioned in the novel are favourites and instantly take me back to a different time.


Tennison is a fast moving, engaging and satisfying read. I look forward to reading the next instalment in this series. Enjoy.