Covering the coast, Burnham Market, Wells, Holt & surrounding villages

A taste of summer

30th July 2020

Enjoy a slice of the sunny season with Fiona Cumberpatch

Sunshine cake

Serve this as a cake with afternoon tea, or turn it into a dessert with a scoop of golden apricots poached in white wine syrup


200g softened butter

200g golden caster sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of two oranges

50g polenta

1 teaspoon baking powder

150g self raising flour

For the drizzle

Juice of a large orange

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

© Fiona Cumberpatch

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Grease a 23cm springform cake tin.

In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Whisk in one of the eggs, the vanilla, polenta, orange zest and baking powder, followed by another egg and 50g of flour. Repeat with the rest of the eggs and the flour.

Put the mixture into cake tin and smooth. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden. Make holes in the cake with a skewer and pour over the orange juice mixed with the sugar. Leave to cool in the tin. Garnish with rose petals or orange calendula flowers. 

Outdoor feasting

  • Cut down on the workload by keeping food simple and fresh. Salads are easy to prepare in advance, mix individual ones in jam jars, store them in a cooler, and hold off the dressing until you’re ready to eat.
  • Try a bright carrot salad. Grate five or six large carrots. Add a handful of chopped parsley and a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, according to taste. Just before eating, dress with a lemon juice vinaigrette. 

  • Char-grill peaches on the barbecue and serve them with fresh mint, mozzarella and Parma ham for an easy side. 
  • For a fast dessert, halve and stone 18 plums. Marinate in some Amaretto liqueur. Place on a baking tray and crumble 200g of Amaretti biscuits over the top. Roast at 180C/gas mark 4 for 20 minutes and serve with panna cotta.
  • Add some stylish accessories to your table. Linen napkins are a treat, £9.95 each from
  • Eating at dusk? Add plenty of tea lights in jam jars to light the table.
  • An outdoor bouquet looks charming on an outdoor table. Forage in your garden or the hedgerows, taking care not to remove any protected wildflowers, and pull together a big bunch of herbs, florals and foliage. 

Garden bread

A basic focaccia recipe is decorated with lots of fresh summer herbs for a pretty table centre piece

Mix 500g strong white bread flour with 5g dried yeast, 10g of fine salt, one tablespoon of olive oil and 325ml warm water. Mix together, then knead for about 10 minutes. 

Put in a clean, covered bowl to rise until doubled in size. 

Press into an oiled baking tin, 26cmx36cm. Leave to rise for 30 minutes. Push holes into the dough with your fingers, then arrange the fresh herbs on top: oregano, basil, rosemary, sage and chives all work well.

© Fiona Cumberpatch

© Fiona Cumberpatch

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt on top. 

Bake for 10 minutes at 250C/gas mark 10, then at 200C/gas mark 6 for another 10 minutes.