Sunday, 20 April 2014

Touraine Trekkers and Simnel cupcakes…HAPPY EASTER..

Following discussions with friends Elizabeth and Jean it was decided that what the Touraine needed was another walking group! Elizabeth came up with the name, so all that remained was to canvas interest and organise our first trek or randonnée.

Over thirty trekkers expressed an interest, and twenty five intrepid souls and two dogs fastened their laces for our inaugural walk around Le Petit-Pressigny.

We’d planned a couple of walks of 7k and 10k and could offer a choice part way round. We were a bit worried that given the hot afternoon sun that we had chosen the wrong time of day for the walk, but luckily(?) Friday dawned cool and cloudy. However the sun eventually come out, and more importantly, it didn’t rain!

Copy of IMG_4011_640x427 Checking in.

Copy of IMG_4014_640x427 Susan and Liselle, the back markers.

Copy of IMG_4015_640x427 Nick, Rieja, Sally and Elizabeth.

IMG_8394 Sam, Chris, Sally and John.

IMG_8395 Simon, Colin and Elizabeth.

IMG_8397 Pauline and Liz, just after the sun came out!


Jim, stopping for a rest!

It seemed like a great idea to offer refreshments at Le Pré Vert after the walk, and a big thank you to everyone who generously brought a delicious array of quiches, cheese straws, focaccia, cakes, brownies, biscuits, flowers and wine.Tim, i/c photographs, completely failed in his duties to photograph the food! Friends who were unable to make the walk joined us for the refreshments.

Copy of IMG_4017_427x640 Poppy, performing her party trick for a dog treat! Ann, Maureen and Kay, her appreciative audience.

Copy of IMG_4020_640x427Sally, Chris and Gail.

Copy of IMG_4018_640x427

Copy of IMG_4021_640x427 Jean, Nick and Edna.

Copy of IMG_4023_640x427

Antoinette, Niall and Susan.Copy of IMG_4024_640x427

Elizabeth, how lucky are you to still have that lovely pink cardigan?

The idea is that we become an informal group who enjoy exploring our beautiful countryside together, and that on a rota basis someone will volunteer to organise the next walk. Thanks to everyone who took part in this inaugural trek. I think Tim was worried that I would have my whistle at the ready to chide those who fell out of line or failed to keep up. Worse still, to expect people to walk in pairs, holding hands and wearing fluorescent walking bus tabards!! Once a teacher…

If you are reading this, live in the area and would like to join in then drop me an email or a comment and I’ll contact you.

We certainly enjoyed ourselves and it provided an ideal opportunity to persuade some guinea pigs to sample my first attempt at baking Simnel cupcakes. The recipe is loosely based on one in the Hummingbird baking book.



300g (10 ½ oz) mixed dried fruit

100ml (3 ½ fl oz) Armanac and Cointreau mix

200g (7oz)  softened, unsalted butter,

200g (7oz) soft dark brown sugar

4 large eggs

160g (5 ½ oz) plain flour

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp mixed spice

½ ginger

60g (2oz) ground almonds

For the topping:

60g (2 oz) marzipan

Chocolate mini eggs

Melted white chocolate

Makes 12-15clip_image004


·        Place the dried fruit in a bowl, cover with the alcohol and leave to soak for about an hour.

·        Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/ 375°F/ Gas Mark 5, and line a tin with muffin cases.

·        Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Break in the eggs, one at a time with a teaspoon of flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl after adding each egg and mixing.

·        Sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger and mixed spice, then add to the creamed mixture and whisk slowly until all the ingredients are incorporated. Add the ground almonds, followed by soaked fruit, and mix until combined.

·        Divide the mix between the paper cases.

·        Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cupcakes have risen and spring back when you gently press them. Let them cool in the tray for a short while, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

·        Form the marzipan into small balls and press into a circle. You could roll out the marzipan and use a cutter but this was too fiddly for me!

·        Place on to the top of the cupcakes and using a small amount of melted white chocolate add the chocolate egg.

I had intended to put a small amount of marzipan inside but don’t really think it is necessary.These cupcakes are deliciously boozy! They also lend themselves to lots of variations, and I can see how they could easily become a Christmas cupcake.




  1. It was a lovely occasion, even though we couldn't do the walk itself.
    I'm now kicking myself for not having one of those cupcakes!

    1. You're in luck! I have a couple in the freezer...

  2. Looks like a jolly good time was had by all, Gaynor. And the cakes sound and look delicious. Great idea - I look forward to enjoying the next walk with your group (vicariously, of course...) Axxx

    1. Everything that was shared was delicious. I should know as I managed to taste most things! I definitely need a walking group... :o) x

  3. Great initiative! The walk as well as the treats/cupcakes! Keep up the good work :) Martine

  4. Hi Martine,
    Looking forward to your next visit!

  5. Glad all went well. We are the only English in our walking group. We walk on the 4th Tuesday of each month. The first 3 Tuesdays we all meet up and play scrabble (in French!) or Belote. The latter is too complicated so we stick to scrabble :) Hope you had a good Easter. Diane

    1. Seems like a good idea, and something that could be done year round.

  6. Wonderful thing to have organized. I only wish you lived near me in the Lot!

    1. Hi,
      Do you want to be organised or are you just after my cupcakes??? ;o)

  7. Just made these -- they turned out great!

  8. Wonderful!
    I wish I had as much luck with the Paul Hollywood carrot cake that I've just made. Still, you win some... ;o)