Condensed Milk Cardamom Cake


Dear Joe,

Once there was a cat called Shelf.

He led a good life. He had a place to sleep, a roof over his head and on Tuesdays, an empty tuna can for him to dip his paw into. But poor Shelf, bless his little cat heart, he just longed to be stroked.

It didn’t get off to a good start for Shelf you see. He was a black cat with one white dot on the tip of his tale and a single mottled yellow square on his back. This patch resembled a frozen potato waffle. His owners had purchased a Tortoiseshell cat on gum tree 6 years ago. The advert, and the cat breeders who made the advert, were convinced that more than one single frozen potato waffle mark would grow on the cat’s back. It did not. The new owners of the cat were disappointed. They thought, ‘we wanted a Tortoiseshell cat. Our cat just has a frozen potato waffle mark on his back.’. They thought, ‘we will give him a shit name’. With these thoughts, they dubbed their new cat ‘Shelf’.

Shelf lived in a nice house. Tall like a pencil. With a yellow front door and a golden mail flap. Not that Shelf ever looked at the golden mail flap on the yellow front door. Shelf was too busy looking at where the mail landed.

‘Oh, what a life it must be to live as a doormat’, Shelf thought. It is true, as household objects go, a doormat gets a lot of human contact in a day. And this doormat certainly recived more attention than Shelf. How nice it must feel to be touched by firm feet, by dropped keys, by mail that would flutter over the doormat’s ruffled corners – ‘Delightful!’, thought Shelf.

Shelf so desperately wanted to be a doormat. He would regularly watch the door, revelling in the attention the mat received. Maybe, if he thought very hard, it could be him getting walked all over. What a thought! He would stare so intently at his owners as they walked in and out of the door. Each time. Over the doormat. His whiskers would twitch and tickle his wide eyes, his little cat mouth pursing at the wonder of the firm touch of a foot, sometimes even a hand as his owners would sweep up the letters lying about the mat.

Shelf had tried everything to become a doormat. He would charge repeatedly at the front door in the hopes that such a force would compact his cat shape into a more doormat shape. The sight of Shelf charging at the front door with a determined ‘Meow! – I will be a doormat!’ – concerned his owners mildly. Once, Shelf had stared so intently at his bowl of milk, which he thought to resemble something of an oracle, to find the solution to his doormat transformation, that the high frequency of his small cat brainwaves reduced the contents of his bowl into condensed milk.

‘Nothing for it’, Shelf thought, ‘I will just have to live as a doormat as best I can.’ His owners had just left for work and Shelf jumped at the opportunity. Every inch of his little cat body was touching the doormat: his front legs, paws, tiny chin, belly, back legs, tail. On the hour, every hour, Shelf would turn his head so one ear could be touching the doormat at all times. It took quite some positioning.

Nine and a half hours had passed and Shelf’s ceiling-facing ear pricked with the sound of keys fitting into the front door keyhole. ‘What now!? What to do now!? I’m a cat, not a doormat! Feet will hurt my soft fluffy cat body!’, Shelf simply had no time to act. He froze in his doormat position as his owner’s foot came advancing through the front door. ‘MEEEEEOOOOOWWWWW’. Shelf had never meowed so loudly in his whole cat life. And his owners, ‘OH GOOD GOD!’ and ‘What have I done!’ and ‘Shelf, I’m so sorry!’. It was then that quite miraculously, for the second time in Shelf’s whole life, from head to tip-of-the-tail, one firm, smooth, comforting, tingle giving stroke was planted on Shelf’s little body. Bliss.

From that day on, Shelf lived as a doormat. He lay, confident in the knowledge that this scheme to get stroked only worked because he was in fact a cat. Shelf was a fluffy, squashy, soft cat in the place of a doormat. And triumphantly he went on, spending his days laying on the doormat, waiting for his owners to come through the front door, plant their foot down, and guiltily stroke Shelf until he was purring all over.

The End.



Cake Note – If you’ve never made a cake from this blog before, please may it be this one. Not the most exciting looking, but just trust me. It is a beautifully simple cake but uniquely textured, almost doughnut like with a sugared crust and fluffy dough interior. Don’t be put off by the dried rosemary, it couples with the cardamom to give an addictive spicy yet floral quality. On that, it works well with other comfort spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.


    • 200g unsalted butter, softened

    • 50g caster sugar

    • 3 medium eggs, cold from the fridge

    • 370g (1 can) condensed milk

    • 225g self raising flour

    • 55g ground almonds

    • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

    • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

    • 1/2 dried rosemary

    • Sugar to top the cake, optional


Pre heat the oven to 180 / 160 fan. Grease and line an 8 inch round cake tin.

Cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture has fluffed up around the sides of the bowl. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating until combined between each addition, the cold temperature of the eggs helps the mixture not curdle.

Now add the condensed milk and beat until just combined. Fold through the flour, ground almonds, salt and spices. Pour the batter into the prepeared tin and bake for 55-60 minuets or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.

Scatter the warm cake with some sugar. Leave for about 10 minuets before removing the cake from the tin.

(lol, I just signed off my name as ‘Cake x’. I was destracted, watching tiger sat next to me laugh at whatever she has on netflix) Speak later, Cake x

Dark Chocolate Cake


Dear Joe

It’s 21.43pm on the 9th of July as I write this. Our flight to Italy leaves in 8 hours but I’m sat in our garden writing this, becuase it’s a cake that needs writing about. My plan is that you will read this in about a week’s time when I’m with Coco in Zurich (Coco has kindly changed his name from ‘Constantin’ to ‘Coco’ to fit thematically with this post).

I’m looking at the sage bush and the roses. The evening has washed everything with watercolour grey. It’s beautiful. Don’t really have time to write poetic prose for this one, as I said, we have a flight in 8 hours and I do need sleep. Instead, I’ll let the poem you have tattoed on your chest do the talking.

It says – you become strong doing the things you need to be strong for – Audrey Lorde

I read this on you 20 mins ago when you were lying on the floor because Matt made you do too many dead lifts at the gym hahaha. The words resonated with me.

I’m becoming strong in our garden at – now – 21.52pm, because I really need to write down this chocolate cake recipe for you.

So, I’ve got the golden ticket – I’ve found my go-to chocolate cake. It’s dark, damp and bitter, with the kind of sweetness that only a rich chocolate cake can bring. It’s rich and dense enough to eat with a spoon, but delecate in a way too, it collapses on itself, melting on your touge. It happens to be dairy free too, and can eaisly be made gluten free by replacing the plain flour with ground almonds or gluten free flour.

Cake Note – this is a versatile cake. Bake it in a 23cm square tin for 35mins and slice in squares dusted with cocoa powder. Slice the cake horizontally in half, and stack thin layers of the cake between chocolate cream. Or bake it in a round 9inch tin for 35 mins for a thinner, quicker cake. Or, bake as I have written here and get a picture-perfect, single layer chocolate cake with a thick melting ganache.


For the Cake

  • 100g finly chopped dark chocolate
  • 50g cocao powder
  • 100g boiling water
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g olive oil
  • 200g sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 75g ground almons
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g plain yoghurt

For the Ganache – Optional

  • 100g finely chopped dark chocolate
  • 120g double cream
  • 15g golden syrup


Pre heat the oven to 170/150 fan. Grease and line with baking parchment an 8 inch round cake tin.

Put the chocolate and cocao powder in a bowl. Pour over the boiling water and immediately cover the bowl with a plate. Set aside.

Beat the eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla and salt until lighter in colour and frothy – about 3 minutes with an electric whisk. Mix the chocolate boiling water mixture into a thick paste with a spatula. Scoop the lot, in one go, into the whisked egg mixture and beat to combine.

Add the ground almonds, flour, bicarb and yoghurt. Beat until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for about 40 – 45 mins, or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs. Allow the cake to cool completley.

For the ganache, put the chocolate in a large bowl. Heat the cream and golden syrup until it is just about to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for a min or 2. Stir it all together until smooth, glossy and beautiful. Spread over the cake straight away. Eat.

Caitlin x

Apricot Olive Oil Cake


Hey Joe,

Here is the first cake I made in Glasgow. I was working on this recipe a couple of months ago and wanted to test it out again – can confirm, it worked.

Apricots and olive oil might sound like a strange pair but the flavours work really well together. There’s no butter in this cake, the olive oil is used as the fat. But, you want the olive oil for its flavour rather than to make the cake dairy free. Tiger (my flatmates name is tiger. She’s not a real tiger) can’t eat dairy so this is a cake that she can have! Woo! I think she liked it. I presented it to her on a plate, she growled a bit, picked the cake up with her mouth, dropped it on the floor and started eating it. I have never seen someone eat a cake so well – that’s my Tiger!


For the Apricot Compote

  • 250g pitted apricots
  • 50ml water
  • 75g apricot jam

For the Cake Mix

  • 100ml olive oil
  • 100ml milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 180g sugar

If you can’t get hold of apricot jam, which is quite expensive, substitute it with 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of sugar. If your apricots are very ripe, add less sugar and honey.

LOL. I have a confession. I’ve just realised that there’s milk in this recipe. In case you didn’t know, milk is a form of DAIRY. I’m pretty pleased with my lil story about tiger, My dairy free friend, so I’m not editing the introduction to this post. Tiger, I am sorry that I made you eat dairy without you knowing it and I hope this dairy didn’t give you the shits.


Pre heat your over to 180. Butter a round cake tin (mine is 20cm) with the most dairyist butter you can find.

In a small saucepan, heat your water, pitted apricots and jam (or sugar and honey) over a medium heat. Let it cook for about 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until the water has evaporated and the mixture is a loose consistency. Turn off the heat and set aside. If you want some whole apricot pieces topping your cake, like in the picture above, set some apricot halves aside for you to place on top of the cake before it goes in the oven!

Lightly whisk together the olive oil, milk, vanilla extract and eggs.

In a separate bowl mix the rest of the ingredients together – ground almonds, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

Combine the wet mix with the dry mix, stirring until you have your cake batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Spoon the apricot compote over the batter in blobs. Using a skewer or knife draw a couple of figure of 8 patterns in the cake batter. What your doing here is marbling the compote into the batter. The less figure of 8s you do in the batter the clearer the marble pattern will be in the final cake.

Bake for about 35-40 mins or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out with not wet batter.

Have a good bake and a good cake,

Caitlin xxx