Puddings and Cakes

Chocolate Easter Cake

Yesterday’s total naughtiness! This most chocolatey of chocolate cakes is based on the same recipe used in the 365 Celebration Cake except I doubled the amount of chocolate butter cream to accommodate the fact that I sliced each sponge in half to create 4 layers of sponge and 3 layers of chocolate butter cream. And inside……a hollow was cut out of the cooked sponges to make room for a jumble of easter eggs and chocolate bunnies to tumble out when the first slices were cut…. The nest was the result of 3 Cadbury’s Flakes being chopped and arranged, stuck together with melted milk chocolate and a pile of mini eggs: Happy Easter!!!!

Scots Whisky Orange Cream

So quick, so light, so delicious and essentially it is just orange and whisky-infused cream…but it tastes like so much more, is intense and should only be served in small portions! Enjoy!

Serves 8

What you need…

100ml whisky

100g caster sugar

3 tablespoons fine-cut marmalade

Juice of ½ orange

Pared rind of 1 orange, cut into 2 halves

450ml double cream

16 – 24 fresh raspberries, to decorate

What to do…

Tip the whisky, sugar, marmalade, orange juice and half the pared orange rind into a saucepan. Stir over a moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and the marmalade melts. Bring to the boil, allow to bubble for 1 minute and then remove the syrup that you’ve created from the heat and set aside for at least 1 hour (I did this bit in the morning and then finished the desserts later in the afternoon).

Remove the orange rind from the syrup and discard. Pour the syrup into a mixing bowl. Then add the cream and whisk using an electric hand whisk until soft peaks form.

Spoon into 8 pretty glasses or cups (choose wide-necked ones if you don’t want to make this bit tricky). Cut the remaining orange rind into thin strips and then decorate each of your whisky creams with a scattering of orange rind and 2 – 3 raspberries – simply wonderful!!!

Tip…

Will keep in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Seriously? It couldn’t be easer!

Torta alle Arance e Grand Marnier

 

Roughly translated from Italian, this Orange and Grand Marnier Upside Down Cake comprises a lovely light, moist sponge topped with juicy, sweet oranges, a delectable caramel and then a splosh of Grand Marnier – simply wonderful!

Serves 8

What you need…

1 x 20cm flan dish or similar, liberally buttered

210g granulated sugar

4 oranges, peeled and cut into 5mm slices

3 large happy eggs

120g caster sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons orange zest, finely grated

125g plain flour, sifted

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Over a moderate heat, make the caramel by tipping the granulated sugar into a non-stick saucepan and adding 3 teaspoons of water. Stir occasionally until the sugar first dissolves and boils gently and starts to darken. (This takes about 10 minutes). Tip the caramel into your flan dish.

Gently arrange the orange slices over the caramel, slightly overlapping. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, crack the eggs and use a handheld electric whisk to beat them until they are fluffy and nearly doubled in volume. Tip in the caster sugar and whisk until creamy and thick.

Add the baking powder and orange zest and continue to whisk until the mixture forms thick ribbons. Tip in the flour and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in until thoroughly incorporated.

Pour the mixture over the orange slices and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Use a knife to cut around the edge of the sponge and then, armed with oven gloves, place a serving plate on top of the flan case and quickly invert the orange sponge out onto it – quite spectacular!!!

Drizzle over the Grand Marnier and serve at room temperature, perhaps with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream or some double cream that has a little Grand Marnier mixed in.

Tip…

Once you have poured your caramel into the flan dish, fill the saucepan up with water and bring to the boil – this will melt the remaining stuck and rock-hard caramel, which you can then just tip down the sink – saves on all that scrubbing!

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Very easy and rather impressive looking as well as great on the taste buds!

 

 

 

Lemon Posset with James’ Gran’s Shortbreads

Fresh, intense, zesty, sweet and light as air – that’s the posset and then you bite into the light but crisp, sweet, buttery shortbread – what a combo! And with the added joy that this little duo is made in minutes and is stupendously easy. The only downfall is that you make waaaaay too many shortbreads and…I don’t believe they keep very long…can’t actually verify that!!!!

Makes 6 possets and about 30 shortbreads!

What you need…

600ml double cream

150g caster sugar

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons

for the shortbread

2 x baking sheets, liberally buttered or lined with Bake O Glide

175g plain flour

90g icing sugar

60g ground almonds

25g cornflour

250g unsalted butter, chunked

What to do…

To the possets first: bring the cream and sugar to the boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat, tip in the lemon zest and juice and whisk thoroughly. Pour into serving bowls or teacups. Pop into the fridge for a couple of hours to set.

Meanwhile, make the shortbread: preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4. Into your food processor, tip the flour, icing sugar, ground almonds, cornflour and butter chunks. Whizz to create firstly a breadcrumb-like mixture and then a soft dough.

Spoon walnut-sized or plum-sized blobs (depending on how big you want the shortbread) onto your baking sheets, leaving space in between for spreading and pop into the oven to cook for 10 – 12 minutes or until they are lightly golden.

Remove the shortbread from the oven and allow to firm up on the baking trays for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling racks to cool down completely. Make a cup of tea and undergo stringent quality control testing of the shortbread whilst it is cooling!

When you’re ready to serve, simply present your possets with a couple of shortbreads each to their lucky recipients. Enjoy the crunch and buttery gorgeousness of the shortbread with the luscious, sharp freshness of the possets – nothing short of delightful.

Tip…

If you want thicker shortbreads, use a buttered fairy cake tin or bun tin to dollop the uncooked mixture in – it can’t spread so much so you end up with fat, little shortbreads! I made both types and loved them both equally!

Inspired by…

James Martin (and his Gran for the shortbreads)

How easy…

Super easy, super fast, super impressive!

Italian-Inspired Yogurt Pot Cake

Italian-inspired, this unassuming, delicately flavoured cake is, at first glance, quite plain. But the gentle combination of vanilla and lemon, the moistness of the sponge and the enticing sweetness combine to create something quite lovely and quite frankly, rather addictive! Its perfect partner is strong coffee, preferably espresso, with which it is transformed into a fabulous treat – the combination is simply fabulous! I’m going to take coffee breaks much more seriously now!!! (By the way, it’s called Yogurt Pot Cake because you are supposed to measure out the ingredients just using yogurt pots, but I couldn’t get on with that!)

Makes around 16 slices

What you need…

1 x 22cm savarin or ring tin, greased with rapeseed oil

3 eggs, separated

150g pot plain yogurt

250g caster sugar

150ml rapeseed oil

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Zest of ½ lemon, finely grated

175g plain flour

75g cornflour

Icing sugar, for dusting

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites to form firm peaks. Set aside.

Into your food processor, tip the egg yolks and yogurt. Whizz to mix together. Add the sugar and whizz until light and airy.

Whilst the processor is still whizzing, slowly pour in the oil. Then, add the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whizz again to thoroughly incorporate. Tip in the flour and cornflour and whizz again to mix together.

Tip the mixture into the egg whites and use a balloon whisk to gently fold the mixture in.

Tip the whole lot into your savarin mould and pop in the oven to bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until the sides are coming away from the mould, the cake is a lovely light golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in the mould. Then, invert and turn out onto a cooling rack.

You can eat it cold but if you get the chance, serve it whilst it’s still warm. Choose a pretty serving plate and dust with icing sugar. Arm yourself  with a knife and an espresso. Cut several slices, sit back and indulge in the simple joy that it is warm, gently flavoured moist cake with great coffee. Lovelllley!

Tip…

The idea, clearly, is that you just use the yogurt pot to measure most of the ingredients out but it was very messy so I reverted to my usual methods of weighing stuff out – I liked the simplicity of the concept but it didn’t really work for me. The cake however, did!!!

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

So easy that this cake was knocked up on a Sunday morning whilst I was still in my PJs. Breakfast on this happy day was warm cake (several slices) and espresso – not a bad start, I must say!!!

 

Clotted Cream Scones

Why do we not make scones? They’re so damned easy and if indulged in the day (if not the hour after) they are baked, are absolutely delicious! I followed James Martin’s recipe this time, which includes clotted cream as part of the mixture, not just on the serving plate and they were gorgeous (although John says I made them too thin, so that’s work in progress, I guess – the following recipe includes instructions for 2cm thick dough which I didn’t follow, so I guess he’s right). Anyway, give them a go – you won’t be disappointed – they make the perfect English afternoon tea treat!

Makes 8 good sized scones

What you need…

1 x baking sheet, lightly buttered

1 x 7cm cookie cutter

1 happy egg

50ml milk

50g clotted cream

225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

2½ teaspoons baking powder

A pinch of salt

40g unsalted butter, chunked

75g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

1 happy egg yolk, lightly beaten for glazing

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

In a small bowl, mix together the whole egg, milk and clotted cream. Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl, then add the butter and rub into the flour, creating a fine breadcrumb consistency. Stir in the caster sugar and then the egg, milk, cream mixture, creating a smooth dough.

On a lightly floured work surface, gently roll out the dough until it’s about 2cm thick (not 1cm like I did the first time). Use your cookie cutter to cut out 8 scones and pop them on your baking sheet. Don’t throw away the left over dough – just put that on the baking sheet too – they make for great chef’s treats or just weirdly shaped scones! Brush the scones and the leftover dough blobs with the beaten egg yolk. Sprinkle with caster sugar and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Allow to cool slightly and then serve buttered and slathered in lovely strawberry or raspberry jam and clotted cream. What could be more of an English afternoon tea treat?!

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Tips…

Don’t be tempted to use your food processor to make the dough – making it by hand takes no time and is definitely part of the enjoyment experience. James also reckons that it makes for a better scone!

Make them the day you want to eat them – enjoy them as fresh as possible – barely cool from the oven is best!

Inspired by…

James Martin

How easy…

Very easy – I was surprised how easy!

Lemon, Lime and Passion Fruit Curd Tart

Wow! This is unbelievably delicious – the crisp, sweet pastry is the perfect foil for the tangy, zesty freshness of the fruit filling that seems to shout ‘sunshine’! It’s uplifting and quite simply sensational – don’t wait until Summer – we enjoyed it in February the first time but….it will be revisited many times over!

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

1 x 23cm fluted tart tin, with removable base, liberally buttered

Baking beans (rice or dried pulses will work equally as well)

for the pastry

110g unsalted butter, at room temperature

60g caster sugar

130g plain flour

60g semolina

for the fabulous citrus curd filling

230g caster sugar

Finely grated zest and juice of 3 lemons, separating the juice of ½ lemon

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes

4 large, happy eggs plus a further 4 yolks, lightly beaten

200g unsalted butter, chunked and at room temperature

Pulp from 3 passion fruit

1 gelatine sheet (I used Costa fine leaf)

80g full fat cream cheese

50g icing sugar

What to do…

First to the pastry: in your food processor, whizz together the butter and sugar until smooth, pale and fluffy. Tip in the flour and semolina and whizz to combine. Tip out onto your work surface and briefly work into a dough. Grate the dough into your tart tin and then press evenly into the base and up the sides. Pop into the freezer for 1 hour. Walk off and do something else.

Then, heat your oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Line the chilled pastry case with foil and fill with baking beans. Bake for 25 minutes then remove the foil and beans and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, let’s turn to the delicious filling. In a large saucepan over a moderate heat, warm the caster sugar, juice from 2½ lemons as well as juice from both limes and also all the zest from both the lemons and limes. Heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Turn the heat down to low and then gradually pour in the beaten eggs, using a balloon whisk the whole time to prevent curdling. Continue to heat and whisk for 10 minutes or until a thick curd has been formed.

Remove from the heat and add the butter, a couple of chunks at a time, whisking them in until they are melted and fully incorporated before adding in the next couple. Once all the butter has been added, stir in the passion fruit – it is this that gives this tart its extra gorgeous dimension.

Whilst you’re adding the butter, soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Remove the gelatine from the water and squeeze out the excess liquid. Empty the bowl of its water and put the gelatine back in, adding to it 3 tablespoons of the citrus curd mixture. Using your balloon whisk beat the lot together until the gelatine has dissolved. Return this lot to your saucepan of curd and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cream cheese, juice of ½ lemon and icing sugar (again, a little balloon whisk works well).

Pour the curd into the pastry tart and then use a teaspoon to plop blobs of the cream cheese mixture all over the top. Use a skewer or cocktail stick to swirl the blobs, creating pretty patterns.

Pop the tart into the fridge for at least 3 hours before cutting generous slices of this wonderful citrusy delight – enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Tip…

Make the pastry case up to 1 month ahead and freeze, wrapped in cling film and foil.

Inspired by…

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Very easy but you need time for the pastry – it’s a good plan to make this ahead of when you need it.

 

Fabulous Fridge Cake

Definitely one to do with little people, this is absolute child’s play to make and frankly, is waaaaaaay more fabulous than I could possibly have imagined! Seriously naughty and very moreish – one to put on the ‘regular’ list – just do it!

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

1 x loaf tin

50g dark chocolate

50g milk chocolate

100g butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

150g digestive biscuits

25g mini marshmallows

15g Rice Krispies

What to do…

Melt the chocolate, butter and syrup together in a heatproof bowl over a steamer in a saucepan of simmering water.

Pop the digestive biscuits in a self-seal plastic bag and bash them into rough rubble with a rolling pin (small children love this bit!)

Line a loaf tin with cling film, leaving plenty hanging over the sides.

Tip the digestive biscuit rubble into the melted chocolate mixture and then add in the mini marshmallows and Rice Krispies. Mix together until they are evenly coated with chocolate .

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and use a spatula to press it down. Pop into the fridge for a few hours.

Cut into lovely hard slices of heaven – honestly, it is ridiculously awesome.

Tips…

If you don’t fancy marshmallows (although they are lovely) replace them with raisins or soured cherries.

I am reliably informed (by Ben) that a splash of Baileys Irish Cream liqueur adds a very well received grown up dimension to this already wonderful cake.

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Child’s Play – literally!

 

Favourite Chocolate Brownies

I seem to be making these gorgeous, gooey-in-the-middle, rich and sumptuous brownies on an almost weekly basis (on demand!) and across a variety of geographical locations: they are adored and indulged in across all age groups and might be faintly addictive. Anyway, the recipe has already been blogged, ‘Sumptuous Chocolate Brownies’, but I thought a second mention might be appropriate and I’ve also updated the picture which originally had Christmas decorations in. Instead, we now have chief cookie and cake bakers as well as expert bowl and spatula lickers, Sophia and Georgia! Try this recipe – you won’t look back!

American-Style Buttermilk Pancakes

Shrove Tuesday is coming and I decided this year to take a departure from the traditional pancake batter and instead tried this American-style pancake recipe and it was sooooo worth it! In our indulgent taste test (in the name of blog research) we tried both savoury pancakes with smoked salmon and a dill sauce followed by pancakes with caramelised bananas and either chocolate or caramel spread. Wow!!!!! (John’s first five words) Fluffy and light, smooth and indulgent, I’m afraid the days of traditional pancake batter may well be behind me, these are absolutely terrific and feel like an utter treat.

Makes 6 – 8 pancakes, depending on how big you like them

What you need for the buttermilk pancakes…

150g plain flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 tablespoon caster sugar

Pinch of salt

2 large, happy eggs, separated

284ml carton buttermilk

Knob of butter for frying

What you need for the smoked salmon and dill sauce topping…

1 large, happy egg yolk

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 dessertspoon caster sugar

Pinch of salt

150ml rapeseed oil

Small bunch dill, finely chopped

Juice of ½ lemon

Smoked salmon (100g tops 3 pancakes)

A few dill sprigs, lemon wedges and creamed horseradish to serve

What you need for the caramelised banana and chocolate topping…

Per pancake:

Sprinkling of caster sugar

1 banana, sliced thickly,

Either Dulce de Leche (milk caramel spread) or chocolate spread or Nutella

Dollop of ice cream to serve (we had brandy ice cream – recipe already blogged – which was incredible but vanilla would work well)

What to do…

Make the Dill sauce up to three days in advance. This means that you can just enjoy the pancake-making on the day that you want to eat them.

Put the egg yolk, vinegar, mustard, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl and use your handheld electric whisk to beat until a foam is beginning to form. Very slowly pour in the oil, whisking the whole time, to create a thickened Hollandaise-style sauce. Stir in the dill and lemon juice, cover with cling film and pop in the fridge until needed.

For each warmed pancake, dollop on around a dessertspoon of dill sauce and spread over the pancake. Arrange or plop on as much smoked salmon as you fancy and garnish with a few dill sprigs. Serve with lemon wedges and a little creamed horseradish on the side: wow and awesome!!!!

And to the pancakes! In a medium mixing bowl, use your handheld electric whisk to beat the egg whites until they form soft floppy peaks. Set aside. Unplug the whisk and rinse.

Mix the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks and mix in. Slowly pour in the buttermilk, using your handheld electric whisk to mix it in thoroughly, forming a thick, smooth batter.

Add one tablespoon egg whites to the batter and use a balloon whisk to incorporate. Add the rest of the egg whites in two batches, again using the balloon whisk to gently incorporate, creating a light, fluffy batter.

Heat a large frying pan over a moderate heat and lightly grease with butter. For each pancake, drop in a ladleful of batter, smoothing it down a little with the back of the ladle to create pancakes that are about 10cm wide and 1cm thick. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes on each side and then keep warm in a low oven whilst you cook the rest. Add your choice of topping and either slowly indulge or demolish with relish!!!! (We tried the first approach but quickly made the transition to the second!)

For the caramelised banana and chocolate topping. Warm a small frying pan over a moderate heat with the sprinkling of caster sugar covering the bottom of the pan. As soon as the sugar has melted, chuck in the banana slices. As soon as the melted sugar turns red, flip the bananas and cook for a couple of minutes until they are well caramelised. Don’t muck about with them as they’ll break up. Remove from the heat and set aside whilst you spread your choice of chocolate or caramel spread over your warmed pancake. Tip the banana slices over the top and then dollop on your ice cream. Roll your eyes in the ecstasy that is this pancake – guard it against jealous housemates!

American Pancakes with Smoked Salmon & Dill Sauce w

Tip…

This quantity of the dill sauce is enough for 6 – 8 pancakes, but if like us, you only make up half the batter for savoury ones, the sauce will keep in the fridge for 3 days and is brilliant served with grilled or roasted fish.

Inspired by…

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Really easy and very worth it. I’d definitely make the dill sauce in advance though as there was a lot of washing up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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