Milk & Citrus Cake

06 Feb 2014


Just dropping in with a few bits of bacchanalia, some snaps of life over the past few weeks, and a farm fresh/super simple/crazy good cake recipe. I have been mad busy writing stories and testing recipes for my book, so much that I am actually beginning to feel like a real writer. Hopefully my editor is in agreement there! Speaking of editors, I am really excited to be on a panel at this year’s Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine in May. Myself, Donal Skehan, Lily Higgins, Caroline Hennessy, Nessa Robins, Tom Doorley, and Tom Parker Bowles will be discussing “Blogging: No Publisher, No Editor, Is It Good Enough?” (what do you think?) The event will be chaired by celebrated food writer David Prior (who has an amazing feature on Sydney food in this month’s Bon Appetit, check it out!) The festival, hosted by Darina Allen, Rachel Allen, and Rory O’Connell is going to be a smash with Yotam Ottolenghi and Rene Redzepi coming along, as well as Minneapolis filmmakers Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine of The Perennial Plate and many, many more outstanding personalities in food, wine, craft beer and whiskey from around the world.

In addition to writing for the weekly Irish Farmers Journal/Country Living, I have also committed to a brand new column in Irish Country Magazine which is a real honor as I love the new glossy and all the inspiring ladies at the helm. In this month’s issue, I talk about the nitty gritty of romancing the countryside…is that even possible?

In March, I will be heading to an extraordinary sheep farm in the West of Ireland to shoot a small feature for Spenser Magazine, all going well, there will be recipes for a spectacular Spring lamb feast in the upcoming issue.

We are moving ahead again (finally) with the thatched farm restoration. I have applied for a heritage grant and fingers crossed we will get funded this time and really dig in. The Irish name of the farm is Graigoor, which translates to The Hamlet, such a fitting name for this little hideaway where I hope to one day host workshops and cook with friends.


In July, I will be making beautiful butter for an episode of Breaking Eggs, a cooking series for children near and dear to my heart and produced/directed by the ever-inspiring Cliodhna Prendergast.

I ordered a dynamite plate from Beth Kirby‘s new Sweet Gum Company shop and she sent me a gorgeous bottle of sorghum syrup which I doused on griddle scones for two days in a row last week. She also included a copy of Home and Hill magazine, what a beauty!

Ever wanted to stay in a treehouse? Okay, maybe not during the winter time, but when the time is right….this is one dream house in a tree.

At the end of January, I travelled to Florence for a girls weekend filled with food adventures. As recommended by Clodagh McKenna, we spent a fair amount of time in the Mercato Centrale di San Lorenzo and had the most amazing Panino Con Bollito (boiled beef sandwich) at the Slow Food endorsed Nerbone (see photo of beef on cutting board).  There was offal of every form and variety, wild boar legs hanging from rafters, pasta made right before your eyes, charcuterie for days..just an absolute feast for the senses. My friend, Carlotta, is a Florentine and she made sure we had Bistecca (massive steak for 4) and had a proper aperitif each evening before dinner. I even snuck into the only Eataly in Italy which was a real treat (I know, shame on me).


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Here at the farm, Geoffrey is keeping Grandad busy with hurling and nature hikes. He is learning to identify “bazillions of birds” and how the hares, foxes, and pheasants all get on together in the countryside. The donks are growing like gangbusters. Calving season has begun so stayed tuned for some cuddly calf captures. Richard has been researching another top secret farm project that could prove to be quite exciting for us all.



More soon, but first, let’s have cake.

Milk & Honey Citrus Cake

Makes 2 6 inch round cakes or 1 8×8 inch square tin


335g all-purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

185g unsalted butter, softened

1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

100g chopped citrus (blood orange, oranges, grapefruit sections)

220 caster sugar

3 eggs

185ml milk

Honey for pouring over (or icing sugar)


Preheat oven to 180c/350f. Grease and line cake tin.

1. Sift flour and baking powder into large bowl (or stand mixer). Add butter, vanilla, sugar, eggs, citrus and milk. Beat for 3-4 minutes until smooth.

2. Pour mixture into the tins and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer poked into the center comes out clean. Leave in tin for 5 minutes, then turn out and let cool.

3. Poke top of cake with toothpick, then drizzle over honey to your hearts delight (or sift icing sugar on top to sweeten)

4. Save one and serve the other.

Slan Abhaile,


Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell 2014. 

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12 Responses to “Milk & Citrus Cake”

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  3. Claire says:

    Hi Imen,
    I really enjoyed reading this post, so much news, plans and sounds like exciting times ahead. Your book sounds fab! I really like the Roost published books I have come across through Ashley English and very much look forward to getting my hands on yours…And that cake – the oven is pre-heating as we speak.

  4. cheri says:

    Wow! So many great things happening, congrats! This cake sounds divine!

  5. I’m so glad you’re progressing with the project in the cottage. It is going to be such a great creative space for you. Yay! I know we talked about this a long time ago.
    What a wonderful positive and optimistic update. xxx

    • imen says:

      Thank you Caitriona, YES! I remember you trying to help and really appreciated that! It’s been a long road for many reasons, but as they say “timing is everything” and maybe the timing is finally just right” you must be getting very excited for your book release! Can’t wait xx

  6. Jan says:

    Sitting in Pune, India…..Love reading you blog and about all the happenings on your farm ! Makes me feel quite nostalgic for my home place in Co Limerick !

  7. Oh Imen !

    Thank you for the lovely mention of our treehouse ! I’m so excited… I know just how to celebrate ! … I am going to bake a milk and citrus CAKE !!

    I will see Norma tomorrow and we can eat cake to our hearts content 🙂

    With much love,
    Lynne xx

  8. Krista says:

    Absolutely thrilled about all this goodness, Imen! 🙂 Hooray for trips with friends and secret farm projects and work that makes your heart sing. 🙂

  9. S says:

    Utterly adore this, Imen. I cannot wait for your book to come out. And did I just hear the word “workshop” – how amazing would that be? Kiss to your little one and best wishes for recipe testing x s

  10. molly yeh says:

    so many amazing things!! yayayayayy!! that literary food and wine festival sounds amazing. and omg, ottolenghi is going to be there?!??!?! fangirling, big time. congratulations on all of these exciting happenings! and this cake looks like a delight 🙂

  11. Donna Baker says:

    What fame you are accruing. Congratulations! I have seen TP Bowles on television and he seems so knowledgable and informative. Looks like it’s all good at the farm.

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