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Essentially England News, August 2010 - Makeovers and Apple Cakes
August 26, 2010

Makeovers and Apple Cake

A cheerful welcome to everyone who subscribed to Essentially England News during the last month! Here you'll find England news, site news, travel tips, reviews and our Recipe of the Month, all in one easy-to-digest email.

Before sitting down to write this, I've put an apple cake in the oven. Now I'm looking forward to the delicious scents of apples and cinnamon wafting up the stairs to my study. And, of course I look forward to tasting it later.

Apart from that, this newsletter will be a little shorter than usual, and you can find out why if you keep reading...

What's New at Essentially England?

If you've visited Essentially England recently, you may have noticed that pages on the site are sporting a new look. I've felt for a while that Essentially England was not as user-friendly as it could be, especially as it was growing so fast and many site visitors were getting involved with it, posting recipes, suggestions and photos.

So after lots of head-scratching and soul-searching I've taken the plunge and started to convert the site to a new layout. It's a big job and will take some time - and I hope that you'll all bear with me while I'm rebuilding the site.

What's in it for you, you may wonder. Well, hopefully, the site will now be much easier to navigate. Have you noticed that you can search the site straight from the header bar? So if there's something you're looking for, but can't immediately lay your hand on, that's where to go.

The other big change - and something that's a result of many of your emails - is the right-hand side of the page. Visitors often ask me for suggestions, whether it be for themed days out, recipes, places to stay or suppliers for English goods. Most pages now have a list of "other things you may like" down the right and these offers and suggestions will change throughout the year.

And while I'm at it, the content is also getting a makeover. Some of the pages are over two years old and things change... so look out for new tidbits and old favourites alike.

I hope you like it!

Travel Tips and Reviews

Summer holidays are almost over, the football season has started and the kids are going back to school. And while the weather's still lovely, and attractions are a bit quieter, this is the time for the grown-ups to explore. What with the jobs situtation and my 'building work' we're not taking the tandem north this September. But that doesn't mean you can't - and here are a few ideas for you.
  • Places to Stay in England has listings of holiday cottages in various counties and some stunning hotels

  • If you're after a stay in the lap of luxury, and would like to explore London in style, then check out this listing of 5 star hotels in London

  • And finally, here’s something really special. A luxurious, all-inclusive tour of Northumberland. Whether you like to trace your family tree, explore Roman remains, stay in a castle or admire the architecture of a Norman cathedral – this holiday fits the bill. It also has lots of glorious landscape, miles of empty beaches and even professional entertainment!

Recipe of the Month - Quick and Easy Apple Cake

We've had such torrential rain and wind the last few days that there seemed more apples on the ground than on the tree in our garden. Just perfect for a quick and easy apple cake. If you're in a similar situation, I suggest you try this very easy, tasty recipe.


  • 100g / 4 oz semolina
  • 250g / 10 oz self-raising flour (or plain flour + 1-2 tsp baking powder)
  • 150g / 6oz caster sugar
  • 150g / 6oz unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
  • approx. 500g / 1lb apples, cored and sliced
  • a sprinkling of ground cinnamon (optional)

Combine all the ingredients except the egg and lemon juice in a blender or food processor and blitz together. When the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs, add the egg and lemon juice and blend until the mixture comes together. It will be lumpy.

Pre-heat your oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4.

Grease a 20cm round cake tin. Spread 2/3 of the cake mix over the base of the tin. Press well into the corners and a little up the sides. Tip in the apples and spread out. Sprinkle with cinnamon if using and a teaspoon of sugar if they're very tart.

Take the remaining third of cake mix and crumble over the apples. Big dollops of dough look really nice.

Bake for 30-40mins until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the base comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin before turning out.

Serve with a pot of tea and maybe a dollop of cream if you're feeling indulgent.

And Next Month …

The rebuilding works are planned to last all through September, so as well as a new look throughout, there will be plenty of new and revised pages. And we are planning a few local explorations to feed the Norman castles section...

Until then, keep well and think of England…

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