Puddings and Cakes

Cherry and Almond Cloud Cake

What a fantastic showoff of a summer cake this is: light, sweet sponge layers together with millions of fresh, juicy ripe cherries snuggling in light cloud-like cream: totally OTT, totally audacious and totally gorgeous!!!!! Bake when the cherries are in season and plentiful – cheap from the local market.

Serves 12 -16 lucky people

What you need…

2x 20cm deep cake tins, liberally buttered and lined with baking parchment

8 happy eggs, separated

320g golden caster sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Grated zest of 1 lemon

320g ground almonds

50g plain flour

Pinch of salt

600ml double cream

150g Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons icing sugar, plus extra for decorating

750g cherries, stoned and halved

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 170˚c / 325˚f / gas 3.

Into your food processor, tip the egg yolks and 160g of the sugar. Whizz for 3-4 minutes, until pale and thickened. Add the vanilla essence and lemon zest and whizz to combine.

Tip the egg whites into a large mixing bowl and use an electric handheld whisk to beat until stiff peaks are formed. Add 3 tablespoons of the remaining sugar and whisk again until stiff and shiny. Tip in the rest of the sugar and whisk to incorporate. Rinse off your whisks – you’ll need them again in a bit.

Using a large metal spoon, mix a large spoonful of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to loosen. Then tip all of the yolk mixture into the whites and use a balloon whisk to gently fold together. Then, gently fold in the ground almonds, flour and salt.

Divide the cake mixture between your two prepared tins and pop in the oven to bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until the sponge comes away from the sides of the tin. Remove and leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes; then carefully invert the sponges onto a cooling rack, remove the baking parchment and cool completely.

Halve each sponge horizontally (I hate this bit – use a sharp serrated knife, take your time and keep checking that you’re cutting straight – it’ll be fine).

Using your electric handheld whisk, lightly whip together the cream, yogurt and icing sugar. Taste and add more sugar if you’d like it a bit sweeter.

Assembly time! Place one of cake base halves on a serving place and spread with ¼ cream. Scatter with ¼ cherries. Repeat with the other three sponge layers, ending with a cloud of cream and flourish of cherries. To serve, sprinkle with icing sugar and then indulge – prepare to get messy!

Serving suggestion…

Serve outside on a warm summer’s day in the dappled shade of a large tree; fizz chillin’ at your side, all with good friends and lots of laughter – perfect!

Inspired by…

Waitrose magazine but the cake was created for Suzy’s ‘21st’ birthday – I needed the excuse of a gathering to create such a large cake – even WE can’t eat that much cake!!!

How easy…

Very easy – takes a little time though. But it’s soooooooo worth it. x

Strawberry and Limoncello-Infused Mascarpone Tartlets

Oooooh so naughty and so easy and quick to rustle up. Crispy, crunchy, buttery filo pastry encasing Limoncello-infused mascarpone cream and topped with the season’s ripest, juiciest and sweetest English strawberries – just gorgeous!!! A word of warning though: it is impossible to eat them elegantly…but that’s part of the fun!

Makes 8

What you need…

1 x muffin tin

50g butter, melted

4 x rectangular sheets of filo pastry, each cut into 8 squares

30g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for decoration

A large pinch ground cinnamon

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon caster sugar

150g mascarpone

Grated zest of ½ lemon

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Limoncello liqueur

300g strawberries, hulled and sliced

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180˚c / 350˚ / gas 4.

Brush 8 holes of the muffin tin with a little of the melted butter (not too much as the bottom of your tarts would be soggy and we can’t have that!)

Take 1 filo pastry square, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with icing sugar and then a little cinnamon. Do the same to another 3 squares, laying them on top of one another at a slightly different angle to create a rough star shape. Gently press the pastry into a muffin hole to create a cup. Repeat the whole process another 7 times to end up with 8 filo ‘cups’.

Pop them in the oven and cook for 8 minutes, until golden and crispy. Remove and cool for 10 minutes in their mould and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool down completely. If the bottoms are a bit too buttery, sit them on a double piece of kitchen paper on top of the cooling rack to absorb some of the butter (speaking from experience here!)

Whilst your little filo cups are in the oven, you can whip up the mascarpone cream. In a bowl, use an electric handheld whisk to beat together the egg yolk and caster sugar until pale. Add the mascarpone, lemon zest, vanilla extract and Limoncello and whisk until quite stiff. Have a little taste and adjust the sugar and Limoncello to taste!

Choose a pretty plate on which to serve this naughty little filo cups and divide the mascarpone cream evenly between them. Top with sliced strawberries and sprinkle with icing sugar. Devour immediately! Have serviettes on hand – you will need them! Enjoy this fabulous take on our traditional strawberries and cream. Hello summer!

Tip…

If you have one, use an icing sugar shaker for sweetening the filo pastry squares and decorating at the end.

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Rather too easy – I can see these being rustled up on a regular basis!

 

 

 

 

Rhubarb Pavlovas with Rhubarb, Orange & Ginger Cream

Whoa! What can I tell you? Just fabulous – meringue that’s crispy on the outside and deliciously soft and chewy in the middle topped with a light, fluffy cream that exudes gentle flavours of summer and the crowning glory on the top that is lusciously sweetened rhubarb – the sun shines with this dessert regardless of the weather and I promise that you will enjoy the taste and sensations rockin’ your taste buds!

Makes 6

What you need…

2 x baking sheets, lined with non-stick baking paper/Bake O Glide

3 egg whites

A pinch of salt

250g caster sugar, plus a further 45g

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon malt vinegar

400g rhubarb

2 tablespoons of rhubarb, orange and ginger cordial

for the cream

3 tablespoons of rhubarb, orange and ginger cordial

400ml double cream

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 140˚c / 275˚f / gas 1.

Whisk the egg whites with the salt in a large, clean bowl using a handheld electric whisk, until very stiff. Then, gradually add in the 250g caster sugar, whisking the whole time until it forms stiff peaks (about 3 – 4 minutes). Fold in the vanilla extract and malt vinegar.

Dollop the meringue onto your baking sheets, creating 6 mounds. Swirl each with the back of a spoon to create rough circles and create a shallow dip in the middle of each. Pop in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Switch the oven off but leave the meringues in there for a further 30 minutes with the door shut (the key to success!)

In another oven or once you have removed your pavlovas from the oven, preheat your oven to 200˚c / 400˚f / gas 6.

Tip the rhubarb into a baking dish and sprinkle over 2 tablespoons of the cordial together with the remaining 45g of caster sugar. Toss together, cover with foil and roast for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

To make the cream, simply use your handheld electric whisk again to beat the cream until soft peaks form (I over whisked mine the first time as seen in the photograph). Pour in the cordial and whisk gently to combine. Cover with cling film and pop into the fridge until needed.

All of this can be done in advance, leaving only the assembly job to be done before you eat! Take one meringue, dollop on some cream and then top with the delicious rhubarb. I would seriously recommend trying this one before you do the others: insert fork and enjoy the crack of the crisply meringue breaking; pull together a generous forkful of meringue (crispy and chewy) cream and rhubarb, pop into mouth and shut eyes as you party in the sensations rockin’ your taste buds! Demolish the rest!

Make up the other meringues as above but without eating all of them, if poss!

Tip…

Elderflower cordial also works wonderfully well if you can’t get hold of the rhubarb, orange and ginger variety (which I purchased from a National Trust shop).

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner for the meringue recipe and myWaitrose for the overall idea!

How easy…

Easy, quick, delicious….am making another batch tomorrow!!!!

 

 

Yoghurt, Cardamom and Orange Panna Cotta

Not an authentic panna cotta but not quite a mousse either but it doesn’t really matter: it’s a set dessert that is a light, fresh moussy-panna-cotta thing that has a lovely fragrant and oriental twist to it with cardamoms providing a gentle nod to the Middle-East. Super easy to make and rather too easy to enjoy: I think it would make a perfect follow up to a highly spiced dinner, such as a curry.

Serves 4

What you need…

1 leaf of gelatine

200ml milk

½ teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground

175ml natural yoghurt

2 teaspoons orange zest, finely grated

Raspberries or strawberries to garnish

What to do…

Place the gelatine in a bowl of cold water and leave to soak for 5 minutes.

Place the milk, honey and ground cardamom seeds in a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Take the gelatine out of the water and squeeze out the excess water before dropping it milk mixture. Stir to dissolve and then set aside for 10 minutes to reach room temperature.

Tip the yogurt and orange zest into a bowl and add the milk mixture, whisking to incorporate it evenly. Pour the whole lot into pretty glasses or teacups and pop into the fridge to set for at least 2 hours. Serve straight from the fridge decorated with raspberries or strawberries. Enjoy this lovely light, fresh and delightfully exotic little pudding!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Stupendously!!!

 

 

 

Orange and Almond Cake with Grand Marnier Mascarpone Cream

So very, very moist having been drenched in Grand Marnier-infused syrup this cake has a rum baba texture and ooziness to it, but is intensely and deliciously orange-flavoured. Gorgeous! And served with the Grand-Marnier mascarpone cream, a heavenly delight. Oh, and it just happens to be gluten-free but you’d never know it!

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

1 x 20cm round, 6cm deep baking tin, lined with baking parchment

2 oranges

6 happy eggs

250g caster sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

250g ground almonds

Thyme sprigs, to garnish (optional)

for the Grand Marnier Orange Syrup

50ml orange juice (reserved from the oranges above)

50g granulated sugar

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

for the Grand Marnier Mascarpone Cream

2 happy egg whites

500g mascarpone

2-3 tablespoons caster sugar (depending on your sweet tooth!)

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

What to do…

The night before you want to cook the cake, pop the 2 oranges into a saucepan of water and boil with the lid on for 3 hours – sounds like an agg I know, but just stick it on the hob and go and watch your favourite TV shows. At the end of 3 hours, drain the water away and just leave the oranges in the pan to cool down overnight.

Halve the oranges and squeeze out the pips and juice (reserving the latter for later). Chuck your orange carcasses into the food processor and whizz until pulp.

Preheat your oven to 150˚c / 300˚f / gas 2.

Using an electric handheld whisk, beat the eggs, sugar, baking powder and almonds together for 2 minutes. Add the orange pulp and whisk for a further 2 minutes. Detach the whisks and rinse thoroughly – you’ll need them again in a minute.

Tip the mixture into your prepared baking tin and pop into the oven for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the syrup and cream. First, in a small saucepan heat 50ml of the reserved orange juice with the sugar over a moderate heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the Grand Marnier, stir and set aside to cool.

For the cream, in a medium bowl, use your rinsed electric handheld whisk to beat the egg whites until stiff. In a second bowl, tip the mascarpone and caster sugar and whisk together. Add the Grand Marnier and whisk again. Gently fold in the egg whites until evenly incorporated – this creates a lovely, fluffy and light ‘cream’. Pop the cream into a pretty serving bowl, cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until needed.

Remove your yummy cake from the oven and allow to cool to the touch before using a skewer to gently stab the cake all over. Drizzle over the Grand Marnier orange syrup so that it seeps into the cake evenly. Try not to dribble in anticipation! Decorate with thyme sprigs, if using.

To serve, cut great wedges of this moist, oozy cake whilst still warm if possible and accompany with a generous dollop of the naughty cream – heavenly!

Inspired by…

The Daily Telegraph

How easy…

Easy, quick and unbelievably gorgeous in every aspect.

 

 

 

Spiced Rhubarb and Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding

Just yummy! I mean REALLY yummy!!! The brioche is gloriously sweet and fluffy and the gently spiced rhubarb has retained just a little of its inherent tartness but is also sweet and simply delicious. We had seconds….and then thirds and still my fork lingered for yet more….!!!!

Serves 8 (or 3 greedy people with some leftovers)

What you need…

1.5 litre ovenproof baking dish, liberally buttered

400g ready-sliced brioche loaf

80g butter, softened

500ml jersey or full fat milk

4 large, happy eggs

50g golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

2 tablespoons demerara sugar

for the spiced rhubarb

400g rhubarb, cut into 2cm chunks

½ teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

30g butter, cubed

50g light brown soft sugar

Juice and grated zest of 1 orange

What to do…

First, to the rhubarb, which you can do up to a day ahead. Heat your oven to 180˚c / 350˚f / gas 4.

Chuck the rhubarb into your baking dish together with the spices, butter, sugar, zest and juice. Give them a quick stir together and pop them into the oven for 20 minutes until deliciously sticky and caramelised. Set aside to cool.

To make the custard (which you can also do in advance and just keep in the fridge until you’re ready) use a balloon whisk to mix together the milk, eggs, caster sugar and vanilla bean paste in a large jug.

Spread the brioche with the butter and cut into triangles before arranging them in your baking dish. Evenly tip over two-thirds of the rhubarb and then two-thirds of the custard. Cover with cling film and pop into the fridge to let the custard soak into the bread for a few hours.

When you’re ready to bake, pour over the rest of the custard, scatter the remaining rhubarb over the top and then sprinkle with demerara sugar. Pop into the oven for 30 – 40 minutes until your gorgeous pudding is golden brown and the custard has set around the edges.

Serve with no delay, lovely and hot, gloriously sweet and fluffy with a little double cream or ice cream – heaven.

Inspired by…

Delicious Magazine

How easy…

Spectacularly and you can do most of it ahead of time so very relaxing if you’re sharing with friends.

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!

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