Food & Drink

Cookery School team at the Kitchen Chewton Glen

Half day cookery classes at the Kitchen Cookery School Chewton Glen New Forest

The promotional blurb for our half day cookery class entitled Mediterranean Tapas promised: "After savouring your complimentary welcome refreshments, you will enjoy a mixture of demonstration and hands-on cooking, all under the watchful eye of our wonderful Chef Tutor. All participants will also receive a Recipe Pack and a Kitchen Apron to take home." We can report that we also made volcanoes, learned some very useful tips for our future cooking, and feasted upon a delectable meal which we'd cooked ourselves. Read on!

Real Food fish cakes made easy

Real Food New Forest easy summer fish and puff pastry recipes

Fiona Hill from Real Food Catering with her no fuss recipes for summer including fish cakes and a brilliant puff pastry pizza

Buffet Bowls at the  Balmer Lawn Hotel

Bowls at Balmer Lawn Hotel Brockenhurst, brilliant for buffet

Brilliant Bowls at Balmer Lawn!

A glorious early autumn wedding party at multiple award winning Balmer Lawn Hotel, Brockenhurst

Bowls of buffet food ready to serve at Balmer Lawn HotelOn a recent sunny Saturday we attended a gloriously happy wedding party at Brockenhurst's Balmer Lawn Hotel.

This was a VERY big party of 180 people and the food was brilliantly served in small portions in bowls, buffet style. 

It was delicious food. And depending on appetite some people sampled several different meals!  (Another advantage of buffet bowls because others were happy to finish just one bowl with no waste and not feel too full!)

Regardless of numbers though, this style of buffet is perfect for a party where people are making the most of every minute to catch up with family and friends and don't want the formality of being seated - and stuck for a long time - in a specific spot at a table.

And - commercial dishwashers deal with the washing up!

The party took place in the Beaulieu Suite which opens out into the beautiful gardens at the side of the hotel. Although this particular occasion was blessed with wonderful weather, this combination ensures that even in inclement times you'd be indoors with a view of and connection with, the outdoors too.

At this time of year the added attraction is the very likely sight of pigs by the roadside as it's pannage season and there are always a few pigs here! (See below for more about pannage.)

For those who choose to stay over in the hotel before or after a big event, the experience of The Lodge Kitchen & Bar is also not to be missed. It's open every evening  and at weekends often with live music too. The clear weatherproof walls provide amazing views of the New Forest whilst ensuring everyone is kept snug inside. 

Book a table at!

Click here to find out about all the upcoming Christmas events at the Balmer Lawn

The interior of the Lodge at the Balmer Lawn HotelThe only privately owned hotel in the New Forest

The Balmer Lawn Hotel is the only privately owned hotel in the New Forest and has been owned by the Wilson family for 25 years.

The hotel dates from the 1800s when it was a private lodge and residence. It was used as a field hospital during WW1 with the coonvalescents ofte being transported from Brockenhurst Station on luggage trolleys! During WW2 it was used as a staff college. Famous guests who stayed at Balmer Lawn include King George V, Sir Winston and US General Dwight Eisenhower.

After the war, the hotel was extended and was one of the first hotels in the area to offer "private rooms with bath"!

The hotel overlooks Balmer Lawn which was mentioned in the Domesday Book. 

Today it's still a fabulous, iconic building and all surrounded by landscaped gardens, rivers and native wildlife.

With wonderful welcoming atmosphere as soon as you set foot through the front door (past the wellies available for guests to borrow!) thanks to the Lodge it also now boasts two dining venues with different menus and atmospheres, an award winning spa and a heated outdoor swimming pool.

The Balmer Lawn is the holder of multiple awards including 2019 winner of the highly coveted New Forest Brilliance in Business overall Business of the Year Award. (See for the details!)

Locals - if you haven't paid a visit to the Balmer Lawn lately it's high time to do it!

Read about brilliant business Balmer Lawn, here

Read about pannage, here.

Read a unique perspective on ponies and drifts, pigs and pannage, here. 


pumpkins for halloween

Halloween Pumpkins - their history, traditions and a super soup

Pumpkin facts, traditions and super soup!

We did a little digging, to discover why actually there's always such a plethora of pumpkins to be found at this time of  year

pumpkin growingObviously they're normally needed for Halloween, we get that.  But they take so long to mature and take up so much space! Read on below...

Meanwhile if you don't yet receive our much enjoyed weekly e-newsletter just sign up here!


It transpires from our fact finding that millions of pumpkins are grown in Britain every year - in fact due to the ever-growing demand for the winter squash, UK farmers are producing more and more each year. Britain is even home to Europe’s largest pumpkin grower, in Lincolnshire, producing a whopping 2 million pumpkins per year. But come the end of October, demand drops dramatically – so it does seem quite amazing that it's worth it for the farmers!

However it turns out there's even a best selling book for entrepreneurs called the Pumpkin Plan! It's by Mike Michalowicz, also author of the perennial "business cult classic" The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, who reveals how applying the same few simple methods farmers use to grow colossal prize-winning pumpkins can lead entrepreneurs to grow colossally successful businesses. As the sales spiel for the book goes, "who would have ever thought, that the key to explosive entrepreneurial success was held by pumpkin farmers?! Yet by tweaking their approach in small ways, farmers can grow giant, prize-winning pumpkins that get all the attention and press coverage." Source: And this is of course true, we've seen plenty of success stories this autumn, not the least emanating from our very own Paton Brothers at Pinetops Nurseries in Lymington!

So, it's clear the pumpkin is quite important!

halloween pumpkinsPumpkins and their association with Halloween

Which takes us back to how every Halloween - and perhaps even in the midst of Covid this one in this respect won't be so different - glowing orange faces scowl at you from doorsteps, as the Halloween tradition of carving pumpkins commences.

This tradition began in Ireland (that's interesting to know! Not America!)  in response to a popular folktale about a man who carried a carved-out turnip filled with glowing coal with him in the afterlife.

Irish immigrants then introduced the custom to America, where the round orange pumpkins we use today are readily available, and the ‘Jack-o’-lantern’ was born.

Since the 1990s, pumpkin carving for Halloween has become an increasingly popular activity across Britain.

A fruit, providing much goodness

Pumpkins are a member of the squash family and are believed to have originated in North America (so that part IS American). Pumpkins are actually a type of fruit and there are around 500 varieties worldwide, growing in many different shapes and sizes. They take up to five months to grow and are harvested in the UK between October and December.

Pumpkin provides an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, plus the seeds are full of zinc and antioxidants.

And pumpkin festivals are held around the country every Halloween, showing off the art of pumpkin carving.

Even sadly missing our festivals this year, many homes are likely still to display their pumpkins at or near their entrances.

So this might be quite useful: how to carve a pumpkin safely

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut around the top of the pumpkin.
  2. With a large spoon, scoop out the seeds and some of the flesh from the inside.
  3. With a marker, draw out your design on to the pumpkin. Make it as simple or as creative as you like! Then with a smaller sharp knife, begin to carve out your design.  Always cut away from you, to avoid any injuries.
  4. Place a tealight inside the candle, light, and replace the lid of the pumpkin.

Make sure children have adult supervision at all times when carving!

And with pumpkins at their prime, a timely pumpkin super soup recipe

We've tried lots of pumpkin soup recipes over the years and thought this time we'd ask the obvious person, the all-knowing Fiona Hill who owns Real Food Catering and who, exactly as anticipated, had a brilliant recipe up her sleeve... so to speak. 

pumpkin chestnut soup 600Fiona Hill's pumpkin and chestnut soup

"From mid October we are suddenly awash with pumpkins, it's a strange old practice isn't it!

But this is a wonderful time of the year for seasonal vegetables, I personally love soup at any time but now when it's getting colder and wet, a big bowl of homemade soup and a chunk of bread is something to savour and enjoy. 

This is one of my favourites, there are many pumpkins and squashes out there but one of the best for me is the grey skinned one, you can get small ones so you don't have to make a cauldron of it, although it does freeze beautifully so more economical to do a big batch.

Top tip: put the pumpkin in the oven to soften it!

So first of all a top tip:  the best piece of advice I learned is to put the pumpkin in the oven for about 15 minutes. As then you no longer need a hatchet to open it! 

Then you will need a saucepan and a wooden spoon and something to puree the end result, I use a hand blender as it makes less mess to clear up. This will make a big pot so cut it by half or by 4 to make it fit your saucepans.


  • 1 grey pumpkin
  • 1 pack of celery
  • 1 large Spanish onion
  • 6 big carrots
  • A pack of parsley
  • 2 packs of whole chestnut's
  • 4 pints of vegetable stock

(It is so easy to make your own stock, I use vegetable stock when I make my soups for sale but then use chicken stock when I make it for the family. To make your own vegetable stock, basically put all the ends of the vegetables you have used for the soup and adding a handful of peppercorns, simmer for an hour and then strain into the semi cooked vegetables. Couldn't be more logical or easier!)


  • Chop all the vegetables roughly and putting into a large saucepan with a glug of olive oil and salt and pepper stir till they start to soften.
  • Pour on the stock, you can use bought stock if you want to, just enough to cover the vegetables and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Then chop up  the chestnuts and parsley, and add for the last 15 minutes.
  • When the vegetables are nice and soft turn off the heat and blend in the saucepan. (If you are using a blender please be careful to let it cool as it can spray and a thick liquid can be painful on the skin.)
  • I like to serve mine with salted pumpkin seeds, easy to buy in the shops these days, just lightly toast in a dry pan with a pinch of salt crystals. Also a swirl of sour cream is a lovely touch, a homemade seeded roll adds that extra hug.


 Enjoy pumpkin season everybody!  It's something we CAN nearly all enjoy - almost whatever the Covid restrictions, wherever we are!



Mosimann’s to be Restaurant and Bar partner at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club

Mosimann’s to be Restaurant and Bar partner at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club.

RLymYC members will benefit from Mosimann's restaurant and bar/bistro with fantastic riverside and Solent views.

Aerial View of Royal Lymington Yacht Club

The Royal Lymington Yacht Club is delighted to announce Mosimann’s, one of the most famous private dining clubs in London, as the new face of the Club’s restaurant and bar from Monday 2nd November.

The restaurant, bar and balcony at RLymYC which provide arguably the most picturesque views of the Lymington River and the Solent shore are a fitting location for this new partnership.

Both bar/bistro and restaurant will serve locally sourced, high quality food at affordable prices – along with the exceptional level of service for which Mosimann’s is internationally renowned. The bar/bistro will serve a sailor and family-oriented menu, whilst the restaurant will offer a menu and service comparable with other respected restaurants in the area.

John Tudor and Roger Garlick from RLymYC with Joe Evans, Nick Hebditch and Mark MosimannThe Mosimann’s Club was established in Belgravia in 1988 by Anton Mosimann OBE, DL, celebrated chef who was awarded two Michelin stars whilst Maître Chef de Cuisines at the Dorchester Hotel. His “cuisine naturelle” uses the freshest ingredients, prepared in a way that brings out their flavour and goodness, without using oil, butter, cream or alcohol and with reduced salt and sugar.

Mosimann’s holds a Royal Warrant from Prince Charles and has built up an international reputation in club, private and event catering, ranging from the 2012 Olympics in London, two Royal Weddings and the Guards Polo Club.

Commodore Roger Garlick with Mark MosimannRoger Garlick, Commodore of RLymYC said: “The appointment of Mosimann’s as Royal Lymington Yacht Club’s Restaurant and Bar partner is an exciting turning point in the 98-year history of the club.

“Our members have long suggested improvements in our restaurant and catering provision and after a thorough review and evaluation process, we are delighted to be able to deliver something very special. Not only will our members benefit from a vastly improved restaurant menu and service, but also a more relaxed bistro service – both with the exceptionally stunning views afforded by our riverside location.

Roger Garlick with Mark MosimannMark Mosimann, son of Anton and joint Managing Director of Mosimann’s with his brother Philipp, said: “We understand the intricacies of operating and running a members’ club and will focus on delivering a consistent and high-quality restaurant, bar and bistro offering to the RLymYC members.

“There are some fantastic synergies between our respective members’ clubs and we look forward to a long-term partnership with the RLymYC.”

Royal Lymington Yacht Club always welcomes new members including experienced sailors and those new to the water. For membership enquiries please contact Maria Shannon on 01590 672677 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Eat out to help out

Eat out to help out in Lymington and the New Forest

Enjoy deliciously discounted dining in the New Forest 

How to make the most of "Eat Out to Help Out"

Logo Eat Out to Help Out EnglishThe Government's "Eat out to help out" scheme is being introduced to help get struggling cafes, restaurants and pubs back on their feet. The scheme is aimed at helping businesses who were closed due to the coronavirus crisis by encouraging customers to dine in, with establishments able to claim the money back from the government.

Hospitality is one of the UK's biggest employers and has been hit especially hard by the lockdown measures. In April, 80% of venues closed, and 1.4 million hospitality workers have been placed on furlough at some point since then.

Some venues have been able to provide a takeaway service during lockdown. But this often means lower average spending per head and fewer people employed, and it is not an option for some businesses.

The Government's eat out to help out scheme for August targets the month when most of these businesses have re-opened if shakily with social distancing. It is hoped that many people will be in holiday mood if not actually on holiday, and of course many people are not going abroad this summer. August is also the month when most people are likely to be taking days off at home. 

Eat out to help out and help local businesses - how it works

The scheme gives a 50% discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks, up to a maximum of £10 discount per diner, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday between 3rd and 31st August at participating businesses.

Participating venues are supposed to offer the full 50% discount all day Monday to Wednesday and across the whole food and soft drink menu. Food and drink will appear on the menu at full price, and the restaurant will deduct the money off the bill and claim it back from the government.

The discount is only on food and drink that you intend to eat on the premises, so does not apply to takeaways.

Use the discount as many times as you like!

There is no limit on how many times you can use the discount, or for how many people, and it includes children.

There's no minimum spend and you don't have to order food to be eligible. For example, a £3 coffee would cost £1.50 under the scheme.

The offer can be used in combination with any other promotions and discounts being offered by the venue.

You can dine out as many times as you like and can afford,

Eat out to help outWhich New Forest restaurants, pubs and cafes are taking part?

To view participating restaurants local to you, the easiest thing is to go to the Government find a restaurant page here, and simply type in your postcode.

Do check opening times; most businesses are also recommending that you book.  

Consider splashing out on somewhere you wouldn’t normally go – at £10 off it could make the normally unaffordable suddenly rather appealing!

Just a couple of things to be aware of

It's been reported that at least one local New Forest establishment signed up but is now not honouring the scheme - so first we would strongly advise that you call beforehand and check that the restaurant, pub or café really will apply the discount. 

In case you’re considering dining somewhere you haven’t previously and are concerned about hygiene and food standards there is another government website where you can check it out, just follow this link: and search for the establishment you wish to check.

One more thing: we are receiving reports also that at least one pub was not taking contact details and also was felt to be too full; we don't feel it's our role to name and shame when we haven't verified this information so again we'd say that if you are concerned, check their processes when you call them.

Sign up for our free Weekly What's On

In case you don't already know about our Weekly What's On in Lymington and the New Forest do sign up now and start receiving from next week! We're featuring a number of participating restaurants and pubs through the month.





Keep eating out to help out

Keep eating out to help out in Lymington and the New Forest

Ongoing deliciously discounted dining in the New Forest 

After "Eat out to help out" many restaurants are continuing with their own efforts and offers

Keep eating out to help out The Government's "Eat out to help out" scheme in August helped to get struggling cafes, restaurants and pubs back on their feet. The scheme was aimed at helping businesses make up for lost time after being closed for so long through Lockdown. It was a win win for everybody with discounts to encourage people to eat out again, and establishments able to claim the money back from the government.

That scheme is over and we've now moved on again with the ruling to close at 10pm so let's recap why it's so vital to continue to support restaurants, pubs and cafes into the autumn.

Please send nominations for inclusion in this article - restaurants and pubs, including brief offer details.  

If you're a restaurant or pub with a special offer or just a special message you'd like us to share please get in touch, there's no charge for being included in this article which we'll continue to promote if it's helpful. Likewise diners please nominate your locals!  And if you see this article and you don't already receive our Weekly What's On e-newsletter please sign up here! 


Why our support is so important

Hospitality is one of the UK's biggest employers and was hit especially hard by the lockdown measures. In April, 80% of venues closed, and 1.4 million hospitality workers were placed on furlough at some point since then.

Some venues were able to provide a takeaway service during the lockdown. But this often meant lower average spending per head and fewer people employed, and was not an option for some businesses.

The Government's "Eat out to help out" scheme for August targeted the month when most of these businesses had re-opened if shakily with social distancing. It was hoped that many people would be in holiday mood if not actually on holiday, and of course, many people holidayed in the UK rather than abroad this summer.  

By most accounts, the scheme was a resounding success with according to Treasury figures more than 100 million meals claimed for. Jes Staley, chief executive of Barclays, said spending data collected by the bank suggested the scheme had given a "real boost" to the hospitality sector.

And then came the second wave, and the ruling to close at 10pm 

So now in one fell swoop we have the chilly weather which will deter many from eating in pub gardens, and the 10pm close which whilst many of us Forest people prefer to eat early will nevertheless preclude some restaurants which would typically offer two sittings from being able to do so - and they particularly will lose out badly.

Keep eating out to help out and help local businesses 

Anyway, the bottom line is we need to support our pubs and restaurants more than ever! Including piling on extra layers which along with the outdoor heaters in which many establishments are investing, will help us to brave the outdoor seating areas for at least a little longer!

Meanwhile a number of local businesses have decided to make special offers in the bid to encourage customers to dine out through autumn and beyond.

Discounts of 20% and more...

The Turfcutters Arms in East Boldre is so grateful to customers for their support through August that it has decided to offer a whopping 20% off food and soft drinks Monday-Fridays throughout September, October and November.

Meanwhile the Silver Hind Village Inn and Dining in Sway is making an even bigger "25% off" offer for food and soft drinks from 12.00 till 17.59, 20% from 18.00 till close - 7 days a week until 30 November. Call 01590 683900, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Other offers ongoing

White Horse Pub, Netley Marsh - till end September.    

Reader Hugh let us know that The White Horse is continuing with the EAT OUT TO HELP OUT scheme for the month of September (50% off, up to £10) Mon-Wed (*Terms Apply) -

As above, if you are a local restaurant and would like to add your offer to this list please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Business Members you are welcome also to log in to your account where you can add your offer to our new OFFERS page If you're interested in details of Business Membership please also email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view  

A word of reassurance from the Haven Restaurant in Lymington about the "maximum 6" restrictions

A bowl of mussels at the Haven Bar and Restaurant

"Tables are now restricted to a maximum of 6 guests in-line with the new law. But rest assured, you’re still guaranteed the same warm welcome and smiling faces for your visit!

"If you have a future reservation for more than 6, we will contact you shortly to discuss your booking. We’ve updated our guidelines to ensure we are safely operating as well as providing a great dining experience for everyone. You can read our guidelines here.

Don’t forget, our Haven To-Go menu is still available if you’d prefer to enjoy a great meal from the comfort of your own home or on-the-go. 
We look forward to welcoming you soon!"

Lymington Seafood Festival 2020

Lymington New Forest Seafood Festival 2020

Lymington Seafood Festival 2020 - what's different and why

Popular annual New Forest festival with a new format for the New Normal 

lymington seafood festival posterThe organisers of the Lymington Seafood Festival are delighted to announce the long awaited confirmation, that this wonderful and eagerly anticipated annual festival will go ahead!  We think it promises to be better than ever "thanks" to Covid - read on as to why!

First, the 2020 Lymington Seafood Festival organised by Lighthouse Marketing will take place in the same fabulous Lymington venue as previously - in the Bath Road Recreation Ground, a glorious and very special spot close to the main Lymington Harbour slipway and yacht clubs, with views across and down Lymington River and across the Solent to the Isle of Wight.  

Next, the new slightly later dates of the 3 full days of the August Bank Holiday Weekend (29th, 30th & 31st August) may well in fact suit many people better, and after what has been a tough few months for everyone a real live "Festival" should be just the "ticket!  Speaking of which...

lymington seafood festival mapSome of the finest food, drink and bands around

...for 2020 the event will take a new format to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment, and will be ticketed to provide space and safety for attendees. ADVANCE TICKETS ONLY will help to manage numbers as well as to adhere to track and trace with a managed capacity number.

All of which should mean more space for everyone to be able properly to relax and chill out with somewhere to sit and enjoy the food, drink and entertainment, because “The Lymington Seafood Feast” (aka Festival) will of course also showcase some of the finest food, drink and bands from the South Coast!

Fundraising this year for Lymington SailAbility

Each year's Seafood Festival raises money for a different charity and the organisers are delighted this year to be supporting Lymington SailAbility. This is a small local charity that aims to make sailing and powerboating accessible to all.

shellfish at Lymington Seafood Festival

If you ever hear people who have benefitted from SailAbility talking about what it does for them you will appreciate how special a charity this is.

Thanks to the unstinting work of committed volunteers, people who might otherwise be physically entirely dependent on others are taken into another place where, thanks also to the controls in the specially adapted boats, they can pit their wits against the winds and the tides and feel not just the breeze on their faces but much more than that: completely alive and independent.

A marvellous seafood festival to entertain the local community, delight visitors and benefit a deserving local charity

And, the bottom line is that Lighthouse Marketing are looking forward to serving you up a weekend of fabulous seafood fun at this year's Lymington Seafood Festival!

lobster at the Lymington Seafood Festival

Dates and Times

Sat 29th and Sun 30th August two separate sessions: 11.30-3.30pm or 4-8pm

Mon 31st August one session: 11.30-5pm

Buy your tickets now!

Tickets are available to buy now - buy yours here! (Link:

Some questions which are being asked - with their answers

Tickets on sale for Lymington Seafood Festival

Why is the event ticketed?

The event is ticketed for 2020 to allow the organisers to manage numbers and adhere to track and trace details

Why are you charging £5?

This year it is not possible to put this event on as free. The Lymington Seafood Festival is usually funded by sponsors and a larger number of stands. Some sponsors are not able to support the 2020 event, plus stand numbers have to be reduced to give more space for social distancing. Added to that investment is required for a raft of health and safety measures including sanitiser stations, staff, signage and additional cleaning, seating and more.

Can I buy tickets on the gate?

No there will be no tickets available on the gate, advance purchase only.

Seafood Festival sunshine 600x400

What additional safety measures are in place?

The organisers take the safety of visitors and staff very seriously and a series of additional safety measures will be in place throughout the event.

  • Strictly advance tickets only to manage capacity
  • There will be slightly fewer stands to allow for more space
  • There will be an interval between the two Saturday and Sunday sessions to allow for cleaning
  • Hand sanitiser stations at the entrance and around the site
  • Additional seating will be made available to allow for small groups to sit down and enjoy the delicious food and drink
  • Additional staff including a dedicated cleaning team will be cleaning the toilets and wiping down tables throughout the day
  • There will be a 30 minute break to allow for additional cleaning between each slot
  • Food and drink stands will be serving under strict hygiene rules in terms of food preparation and hand sanitation (as they do every year!)

Can I bring the kids?

Yes, and children under 16 are free. (When you buy your tickets you will be able to add tickets for under 16's at the price £0.)

Can I bring my own food and drinks onto the site?

Please don't bring your own food and drinks onto the site; instead do support the fabulous event traders - it's been a hard few months for them! 

Can I bring my dog?

Well behaved four legged guests are very welcome, please keep them on a lead at all times

Why is there no demo kitchen this year?

It is unfortunately not possible to have a demo kitchen for 2020 as it would not be feasible to follow the required distancing guidelines

What if I feel unwell?

If you feel unwell for everyone's safety please do not attend the event, your tickets can even be transferred to another name if that is required.

Dates, times, and location map

See also event details in the Events Calendar - click link here.

Buy your tickets now!

Tickets are available to buy now - buy yours here! (Link:

banana loaf cake

New Forest Gill's banana loaf cake recipe

Baking Beaten, thanks to New Forest Gill

Gill's banana loaf cake - perfect for snacking during Solstice dawn vigil!

banana bread loaf 600x400Gill Hepburn is a very smart local lady who among many other skills and talents is a first class baker - as her many grateful friends and neighbours will testify. Thanks to her tips for a foolproof sponge cake (including weigh the eggs in their shells and then the other ingredients same weight - get that? smart!) this Editor has cracked not just the eggs but the sponge - in fact, beaten the baking! So we have no hesitation in providing hot off the press in time for Solstice weekend, Gill's banana loaf cake. Although she does start by talking about left over banans which we never have - we'll have to buy extra!

Read on for Gill's recipe but first, if you don't already receive our Weekly What's On e-newsletter sign up here now!


Gill's recipe for banana loaf cake

If you have three or four bananas to spare this is a treat of a lovely moist cake.  

(You can actually freeze bananas and use at a later date!  There are lots of tips online, however the best way is to remove the skin, slice into chunks and pop in a freezer bag or plastic box.  Make sure that when you remove from the freezer you give them enough time to thaw out properly.)

This recipe works well for banana muffins too.  The mix is enough for approximately 18.

You will need:

Loaf tin (2 lb); Lining case or baking parchment; paper muffin cases/ silicon cases; Palette knife; Spoons; Electric hand mixer; Knife; Spoons; Spatula; Measuring jug; Piping bag / make own from greaseproof paper (a triangle is required)


  • 110g unsalted soft butter (room temp), plus extra for greasing)
  • 140g of caster sugar/ soft brown sugar
  • 285g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarb of soda
  • ½ tsp fine table salt
  • 2 medium sized eggs
  • 4 very ripe and brown bananas – don’t peel until you actually need them (otherwise they will turn brown very quickly)
  • 85 ml buttermilk – see note below for making your own!
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice


  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 42g dark/ milk chocolate chips *
  • Or, 42g of sultanas *
  • Squares of chocolate for melting

banana loaf cake mix 600Method:

  • Preheat the oven temp to 160ºC/ 350F/ Gas 4.
  • Before you start, make up the buttermilk, by measuring out 81ml of the milk, and add the lemon juice to it. You need to set aside and wait!
  • Sift the flour, bicarb and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Then add the eggs, mashed bananas and vanilla extract (if you wish to) to the butter mixture. Once combined you can add the buttermilk mixture too. The milk should look like its curdling – this is right so don’t panic – just add to the butter mixture.
  • Now fold in the flour mixture until combined well.
  • (At this stage if you wish you could add in some chocolate chips or sultanas for a change.)
  • Pour the mixture into the parchment paper and level off the top, OR spoon into the cupcake cases leaving a little gap to the top - as the photo shows.
  • Transfer to the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Check by inserting a serrated knife into the cracks on the top and if it comes out clean its ready to be taken out. If its covered in cake mixture, it needs to stay in the oven for a while longer.
  • Then remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin for a while. After a few minutes place on a cooling rack. If you want to you can drizzle over some melted chocolate.  I did this by making a paper piping bag from the greaseproof paper and cutting a small hole in the end.  Then just spoon into the makeshift piping bag and drizzle over the cake. 
  • Good luck and happy baking!

chocolate cheesecake

New Forest Gill's chocolate cheesecake recipe

Re-incarnated: an old favourite dessert - for the New Forest and everywherere!

Gill's chocolate cheesecake recipe - perfect make ahead dessert for a weekend bbq

gills chocolate cheesecake

Ed note:  Even better, this time we've made it ourselves in advance of sharing with you - and it got the thumbs up from all who tasted it. There were no leftovers.  Over to Gill.

"You will need a 20cm fluted tin with a loose-bottom or a deep cake release tin; melted butter for greasing the whole of the tin; saucepan; lots of dishes; teaspoons & tablespoons; rolling pin; plastic bag; grater and juice extractor; electric hand whisk.


  • 230g of milk chocolate digestives/ plain digestives – see optional below
  • 3 tsp runny honey
  • 85g unsalted butter melted


  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 2 tsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 200g cream cheese (full fat is best, however you can make with Low Fat - just doesn’t hold as well)
  • 300ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp sieved icing sugar

chocolate cheesecakeOptional:   If you decide to make a chocolate orange version, then you will also need the  zest & juice of 1 orange. And instead of chocolate digestives, you can now buy orange marmalade & toast milk chocolate digestives - these work very well for the biscuit base!


  • Crush biscuits in a plastic bag finely with the end of a rolling pin in a plastic bag and tip them into a mixing bowl.

  • In a separate bowl, melt the butter adding the honey at the last minute in the microwave on short sessions so it all melts together.

  • Pour the melted butter over the biscuits and mix together so they are coated with the butter (its not easy so as best as you can). If you think it isn’t coming together then you’ll need to melt a little more butter. Once coated, tip into the bottom of the greased tin and press down with the back of a spoon, then pop in the fridge to help it set.

  • Now for the filling, you will need to break up the chocolate and pop in a dish over a saucepan of hot water. Do not let the water boil, and do not let the dish touch the water. This is called a bain-marie.  Once it has started to melt a little stir – but not too much as it will lose its glossiness.  Once melted set aside to leave to cool.

  • Now you can whip the cream together so it just soft and holding – then set aside.

  • In a small dish you can now mix the sour cream and the cocoa powder together, and set aside

  • In a larger bowl, tip in the carton of cream cheese, the cocoa mix and the icing sugar. If you are making into a chocolate orange, at this stage you can add in the zest of an orange and half of the orange juice too. Try the mixture – do you want more juice?  Once done, mix this altogether with an electric hand mixer or by hand – it will be stiff to begin with but will loosen.

  • Once all mixed, and the chocolate has cooled you can add this and mix well by folding in. This will be a very stiff mixture, but don’t worry once the cream goes in it will loosen.

  • Now you’re ready to add in the cream by folding it in. This will take a while and it doesn’t matter if the white is still showing through from the cream cheese, as you are now ready to tip over the biscuit base and you need to level it off and when smoothing over it will still be mixing.

  • gills chocolate cheesecake decorated 600Once levelled, pop it into the fridge to set. This can be made in the morning of a BBQ (I have done it within a couple of hours when unexpected guests arrive! And its as good if sat in the fridge overnight.

  • I also find if you are travelling to a party and offer to take a dessert, this is a really good pudding as long as it’s been in the fridge overnight!

    Before serving, you can add some whipped cream or some grated orange and/ or chocolate on top. Or, simply decorate with strawberries or raspberries!

    ** Easy to make gluten free, as you would use Gluten Free biscuits instead **


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See also Gill's recipe for banana loaf cake


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