Snowdrops, Oranges and French Hens

The weather here continues crisp, cold and bright, perfect for wrapping up warmly for lovely long walks along the lanes and through the woods around the village.  Snowdrops are everywhere now and I think this must be a particularly good year for them as I’m spotting clumps in places I’ve never seen them before …

February is also the season when Seville oranges are at their best and most abundant.  I was delighted to see great heaps of them piled up in wooden boxes in our local farm shop bringing the warmth and colour of the Mediterranean into this chilly corner of rural Devon.  I’m not especially fond of marmalade, but do enjoy cake (who doesn’t?!) and so I chose a couple of the plumpest, juiciest-looking fruits to bring home and make a lovely Seville orange cake …..

Perfect when you’re expecting friends for tea!  It’s really easy to make and here’s the recipe if you’d like to try…


  • 300g softened (room temperature) butter plus extra to grease your tin
  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 250 g self raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed Seville orange juice
  • 125 g icing sugar


Lightly grease (and line if preferred) two 22 cm round cake tins (the sort you use for Victoria sponges).

Cream butter and 250 g sugar together until light and fluffy.  Beat eggs into the mix a little at a time.  Add orange zest and 4 tablespoons of the juice, then fold in the flower.  Mix well.

Pour cake batter into tin, then bake at 170C for around 45 to 50 minutes.  If your cake browns too quickly then protect the top with foil.

Meanwhile make some butter cream for the filling.  Soften the remaining 50 g butter, add 2 tablespoons orange juice then sift in the icing sugar and mix with a fork.  If still too runny then add extra icing sugar until the desired consistency is reached – but remember it will harden upon standing.

When your cake is cooked remove from the oven.  Cool in tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto rack.  When completely cooled fill with buttercream and sift icing sugar onto top.  I placed a doily on top of my cake to make a pretty pattern, then finished with a small fresh primula.

And finally – from the hens on my Bridgewater pottery, and my egg holder hen sitting patiently in the background above, to Bustle & Sew French Hens and our latest kit …..

Yes, French Hens are now available in kit form.  Each kit contains everything you need to make your own hen – though not the vintage blanket I’ve used above, but some very chic pink and grey felt – ooo la la!  You can find our French Hen kits here.  And apologies to all those who tried to order Lovebird Softie kits, but discovered we were sold out (within a couple of hours!).  We’re busy assembling some more and they should be available by the weekend.


oooh the cake does look, and sound, scrumptious! Pop the kettle on I’ll be there in a couple of hours or so 🙂
Pretty hens! Where do you get your blankets from Helen? x


All sorts of places Lynn!! Recently picked up some pieces at Shepton Mallet Flea Market, then there’s local charity shops and sometimes even ebay. x


Thank you for the recipe and kits to buy…but oopsie, looks as if the French Hen kits are now sold out too!


Hi Helen,

I’ve just watched your new DIY videos on the 4 embroidery stitches and I think they’re brilliant – much better than diagrams in books and you explain them so well. Thank you very much for them; I’m looking forward to the next DIY videos already.
Please give Daisy and Ben a big hug from me.



Aw, thanks so much Diana. And yes of course I’ll give them extra hugs – and maybe even one of Ben’s favourite peanut butter dog cookies! x


Oh Helen that cake looks delicious … even though I know it is totally gone now! I had to do a google search to find out what caster sugar is. Turns out I bought some once accidentally a while back so now I know what it is. And the snowdrops are lovely! Wonder if I can grow them here in the states? Guess I will be doing a google search on that also.


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