Puddings and Cakes

Absolutely Fabulous Pavlova

One of my favourite summer desserts, Pavlova is just divine: sweet, ripe fruit on top of whipped double cream, all gracing wonderful meringue: crisp on the outside and deliciously light, soft and slightly chewy on the inside. The combination is just heavenly and the joy of this recipe is that it is ridiculously easy to make – I’d never made meringue before finding this recipe but it has always been a success – in every way – and a firm favourite on our summer menus.

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

3 egg whites

Pinch of salt

250g caster sugar, plus 3 – 4 teaspoons for the cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon malt vinegar

300ml double cream (or more if you want to pile it high!)

At least 1 x 300g punnet of ripe summer strawberries or a combination of your favourite summer fruit – I often combine strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. The amount of fruit is all about personal preference

What to do…

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

Line a baking tray with Bake O Glide/parchment paper and draw a 23cm circle on it (as guidance for later).

Using an handheld electric whisk, beat the egg whites and salt together until very stiff. Then, gradually whisk in the 250g caster sugar until it forms stiff peaks – this takes 3 – 4 minutes. Fold in the vanilla extract and vinegar.

Plop the meringue mixture onto your baking tray, gently spreading it to fit the drawn circle. Pop it into the oven and leave for 1 hour until firm. Then – and this is key – switch the oven off but leave your meringue in for a further 30 minutes with the door closed.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Discard the lining paper and put your meringue onto a pretty serving plate.

Whisk the cream and 3 – 4 teaspoons of sugar together (the amount of sugar depends on your personal taste) until stiff and then pile on top of the meringue. Arrange the fruit on top, stand back, admire your handy work and then serve – just divine – this is one of those desserts that is so light and delicious, I just keep coming back for one more spoonful….time and time again. Enjoy!

Pavlova close up w

Tips…

Don’t waste the egg yolks – they can be frozen for another use.

If I’m feeding a crowd, I’ll double up on these ingredients and made a great big Pavlova and then use the remaining 6 egg yolks to make a large tiramisu – a thoroughly naughty conclusion to any meal!

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Very, very easy and simply delicious!

Fast and Fantastic Summer Strawberry Ice Cream

So, you know those hot days when it gets to mid afternoon and you fancy a little treat but frankly, it’s too early for wine….? Well, yesterday was one of those days and I think that perhaps this bank holiday weekend may serve up a couple of hot, sunny days. Anyway: wow, I tried the fastest, loveliest strawberry ice cream – it set me up for the rest of the day! We normally have a little double cream in the fridge (I know, you’re shocked) but also, I’ve started freezing strawberries if it looks like they’re going to go off before we finish them (I always buy too many – direct from the farm, they’re so tempting) so given these lovely set of circumstances, I can now have a fabulous strawberry ice cream within seconds and on a whim! Definitely give this one a go – there’ll be no going back to supermarket cartons, I promise.

Serves 2

What you need…

200g frozen strawberries, hulled (and halved if they are large)

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

150ml double cream

2 teaspoons sugar (optional and probably not necessary if your strawberries are ripe and sweet)

What to do…

Fit the cutting blade rather than the blending one into your food processor. Chuck in all the ingredients. Whizz. The frozen strawberries will break up and freeze the double cream. When you’re happy with the consistency – either still slightly lumpy with fruit or completely smooth – your choice, then serve! That’s it! Sit in the garden and marvel at the simplicity of this treat on a gorgeous English summer afternoon. Doesn’t get much better than that! Oooooh, the bad news is that it doesn’t really re-freeze, so…you need to eat the lot! Enjoy!

Inspired by…

James Martin

How easy…

There isn’t an adjective to describe quite how easy this is!

Rhubarb and Amaretti Cake with Orange and Rosemary Glaze

Once finished, I thought that this was quite an unassuming looking cake, but once tasted – WOW – I completely changed my mind. It is the reason the word ‘luscious’ was invented, surely! This cake is moist and the combination of the rosemary and orange is a marriage made in heaven. Ground almonds, as part of a list of cake ingredients, are fast becoming a favourite as their inclusion automatically guarantees a lovely moist, moreish sponge. And then the rhubarb: just yum, yum, yum: another one to add to your ‘must try’ list.

Serves 10-12

What you need…

1 x 23cm loose-bottomed fluted tart tin, lightly buttered and lined on the bottom with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

225g unsalted butter, cut into chunks

200g golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs, lightly beaten

Zest of 2 oranges, finely grated

200g ground almonds

50g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

8 amaretti biscuits, broken into small chunks

2 sticks rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 6cm pieces and halved lengthways to produce 12 – 16 lengths

Granulated sugar to sprinkle

for the glaze

Juice of 1 orange

2 fresh rosemary sprigs

20g granulated sugar

Squeeze fresh lemon juice

What to do…

Into your food processor, chuck the butter and sugar and whizz until they are combined, pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and whizz some more to disperse. Whilst whizzing, gradually add the eggs, making sure that each addition is fully mixed in before pouring in some more.

Tip in the orange zest, almonds, flour and baking powder and whizz to evenly combine. Remove the plastic blending blade from your food processor and then gently stir in the amaretti chunks.

Tip the lot into your tart tin. Gently push in the rhubarb pieces in a spoke pattern, leaving them two thirds uncovered (they will sink in the oven).

Bake for 40 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. If the cake becomes mainly golden brown before the cake is properly cooked through, loosely cover with foil for the remaining baking time.

Leave to cool in its tin for 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle the tart tin. Remove from the tin (whilst still on its base) and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Whilst the cake is cooking, make the syrup: into a saucepan, tip the orange juice, rosemary and sugar. Heat and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cool. Add a little squeeze of lemon juice. Taste. Add more if the syrup is still too sweet for your taste.

Once both the cake and syrup are cool, pierce the cake all over with a skewer and then gently and slowly pour over the syrup, pausing whilst it sinks in, if necessary.

Sprinkle with granulated sugar and then take your first slice…OMG…just so luscious. It’s moist and completely delicious. Prepare to take a second slice – you won’t want to say ‘no’!.

Amaretti cake 2 w

Observation…

In the original recipe, the rhubarb could clearly be seen from the top of the cake, but mine had sunk to the bottom. To be honest: who cares? Mine was still attractive and the cake was absolutely luscious, moist and gorgeous!

Inspired by….

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Very: measure out, whizz, arrange rhubarb, bake and then pour over syrup and sprinkle sugar. Most taxing part: saying no to more!

Affogato al Caffe e Disaronno

Wow! This is just Naughty with a massively capital ‘N’. Ice cream, Disaronno, espresso and chocolate: it tastes like a combination of Italy’s boozy trifle, Tiramisu and my favourite cocktail, Espresso Martini. Equally, we started off eating it with a sundae spoon and ended up drinking it! The biggest problem is that it makes you greedy to get the lot down as quickly as possible, so fantastically naughty, it is! Made in seconds, this could become a really wicked little habit! What can I say: you need to try it!

Serves 1 (but that would be sad: double up and share with your favourite person)

What you need…

1 scoop of vanilla or honeycomb ice cream (previously blogged and works brilliantly in this).

1 tablespoon Disaronno

1 shot freshly made espresso coffee

1 teaspoon good quality dark chocolate, finely grated

What to do…

Wodge ice cream into the bottom of a pretty glass or small cup.

Pour over the Disaronno, then the espresso and then, sprinkle over the chocolate.

Immediately dive in with your spoon, marvel at the wicked gorgeousness of it, plunge in the spoon a couple more times before discarding it to drink the rest of your affogato! There’s probably a more elegant way of enjoying this but….this level of naughtiness deserves some gusto!

Tips…

If you are not quite as partial to Disaronno as I am, you could always swap it for Baileys.

There’s nothing to stop you mucking about with the quantities of any of the ingredients in this pudding-cum-cocktail.

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Dangerously so!

Gin and Tonic Drizzle Cake

There’s a tradition in this house that at 6pm on a Friday evening, John and I will convene at our bar (!) for a G&T and review of the week’s activities. Call it an excuse if you like but it is our official and very enjoyable end to the week and beginning of the weekend. Anyway, this week an unfortunately planned 7.30pm appointment that involved driving put paid to this long-standing custom but all was not lost – my friend, Dawn had alerted me to a recipe for a G&T cake and coincidentally, I found the basis for this one on Friday morning. Clearly, a ‘meant to be’ recipe, tried, tasted and thoroughly enjoyed as a preamble to the delayed drinkie session. The freshness of the lime works really well with the gentle background flavour of gin. It’s dead easy to knock up and a great alternative adult version to a traditional drizzle cake – give it a bash – cheers!

Serves 8

What you need…

1 x 900g loaf tin, lightly buttered and lined with parchment paper

200g unsalted butter, cubed

200g caster sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

200g self-raising flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Zest of 1 large lime, finely grated

75ml gin

for the syrupy topping

125g caster sugar

125ml tonic water

3½ tablespoons gin

Juice of 1 large lime

25g granulated sugar

What to do…

Preheat oven to 180c / 350 F / gas 4.

In your food processor, combine the butter and caster sugar to create a pale, light, fluffy mixture. Whilst still whizzing, gradually tip in the egg. When fully incorporated, tip in the flour, baking powder and lime zest. Whizz again until evenly incorporated. Pour in the gin and whizz again to evenly disperse.

Tip the mixture into your loaf tin and pop into the oven to bake for 55 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean and the sponge is a lovely golden brown.

Whilst the cake is cooking, make the syrupy topping. Gently heat the caster sugar and tonic water in a small pan, stirring regularly, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lime juice and gin, stir and set aside to cool.

Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and pop tin on a cooling rack and leave from 10-15 minutes until the cake is warm rather than hot.

Prick over the top of the cake with a skewer.

Mix together the cooled syrup with the remaining granulated sugar – you don’t want this to dissolve – the crunch of this sugar on the top of the cake is part of the lusciousness of it!

Pour the syrup over the top of the cake whilst it is still in its tin. It will look like there’s too much but if you pour slowly, it will all ‘fit’. Walk away and decide where you are going to enjoy your first slice of just-warm G&T cake.

Come back 10-15 minutes later and the lemon drizzle topping will have largely disappeared – it’s gone into the cake (with the help of your skewering) to ensure that it is wonderfully moist throughout.

When it’s cool rather than cold, loosen the sides away from the tin and lift out, using the paper. Dispense with the parchment paper and serve your delicious Gin and Tonic Drizzle Cake in lovely fat slices! Raise a forkful and enjoy – cheers!

Inspired by…

My friend, Dawn, from whom both of her recipe suggestions seem to have been alcohol-based…..and then Good Housekeeping magazine (but I did completely change the syrupy element)

How easy…

As ever with these delicious drizzle cakes, delightfully effortless!

 

Fantasy Cake

You know how the first sunshine of summer works – you sit outside in April or May after months and months of cold, grey, wet winter (and spring) days and you feel those first wonderfully warm rays sink into your bones – all is well with the world. Well, making and eating this cake is a similar experience: it’s best enjoyed warm – the sponge is moist and the deliciously gooey, sweet strawberries deliver summer direct to all of your senses – one of my favourite recipes from Lisa Faulkner’s book, ‘Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter’. Just lovely!

What you need…

1 x 23cm spring form cake tin, lightly buttered and lined with Bake O Glide or parchment paper on the bottom

175g unsalted butter, softened

150g caster sugar

150g self-raising flour

2 eggs

3 tablespoons milk

100g ground almonds

1 teaspoon almond essence

400g strawberries, hulled and halved

Icing sugar for dusting

What to do…

Preheat oven to 160°c / 325°f, gas 3.

Using a food processor, whizz together all the ingredients except the strawberries and icing sugar.

Stir in the fruit, reserving a handful for decorating.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and put the remaining handful of fruit on top of the cake.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 1-1¼ hours. To test if it is cooked, pierce the cake with a skewer – if it is clean when you pull it out, the cake is cooked. If not, pop it back in for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Turn the cake out of the tin onto a wire rack to cool and then dust with icing sugar. It’s most gorgeous served just as its turning from warm to room temperature, ideally outside enjoying early summer sunshine.

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Really easy and it comes with a sense of well-being!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiramisu

Delicious, decadent, rich and boozy, this Italian coffee and chocolate-based ‘trifle’ is Connagh’s absolute favourite dessert. It is totally indulgent and you know without any doubt that you are being spectacularly naughty when that first spoonful goes down. It is not unusual in this house for those indulging to enjoy second and third portions. Utterly divine – life would be incomplete without this dessert taking centre stage on our table on a regular basis – loosen your waistband and give it a go!

Serves Connagh on his own or 12 generous portions

What you need…

1 x pretty trifle bowl

6 egg yolks

150g caster sugar

1000g mascarpone cheese

170ml Kahlua or coffee liqueur

400 ml cold, strong coffee

28 (up to) boudoir biscuits (sponge fingers)

50g plain chocolate, finely grated

What to do…

Place the egg yolks in a bowl with the caster sugar and beat together until pale and thickened, using an electric handheld whisk. Add the mascarpone and whisk slowly until it is evenly incorporated. Pour in 1 tablespoon of the coffee liqueur and whisk gently to combine.

Mix the coffee with the remaining coffee liqueur in a shallow dish. Dip each of the sponge fingers into the coffee and liqueur liquid and arrange in your serving bowl to cover the bottom. Gently plop over one third of the mascarpone mixture to cover the sponge fingers and then sprinkle on a layer of grated chocolate. Repeat these layers two further times, ending up with the sprinkled chocolate on the top. I use less chocolate on the top, preferring a lighter coverage for a prettier finish.

Cover your tiramisu with cling film and pop in the fridge for at least 2 hours but 24 hours if possible to let the flavours develop into their optimum lusciousness.

To serve, take your tiramisu out of the fridge about an hour before you want to indulge – fabulous!

Tiramisu 2 w

Tips…

The number of boudoir biscuits isn’t set in stone and depends on the size and shape of your trifle bowl.

If you have a wide, shallow bowl, it may only be possible to create 2 layers rather than the 3 I’ve done here – it doesn’t make any difference – it will still be fab.

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

Simple and also, relaxing to assemble.

Key Lime Pie with Lime Jelly

A fabulous dessert that is completely different from anything else I have made. There have been lots of zingy lemon-infused dishes but limes take zing to a whole new level. In this pud, the sweet, ginger-infused pastry is light and contrasts deliciously with the sharp, tart but light lime filling and the tangy lime jelly – it’s beautifully refreshing. Personally, I preferred mine straight up but John opted for a little double cream to gently soften the lovely sharpness of this wonderful, summery dessert. Put it on your list for when the sun eventually comes out!

Serves 8

What you need…

1 x 23cm spring form fluted tart tin, lightly buttered and lined on the bottom with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

for the pastry

250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

50g icing sugar

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon ground ginger

135g butter, cold and cubed

1 egg, beaten

2-3 tablespoons ice-cold water

for the filling

4 egg yolks

1 x 397g tin condensed milk

Juice of 4 limes

Grated zest of 2 limes

for the jelly

3 sheets gelatine

Juice of 5 limes

60ml water

Grated zest of 1 lime

40g caster sugar

1 drop green food colouring

What to do…

Tip the flour, icing sugar, salt and butter into your food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the ginger and pulse again until evenly incorporated. Add the beaten egg and 2 tablespoons cold water and pulse again until the pastry comes together. Add a tiny bit more water if needed. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and quickly knead into a ball – handle the pastry as little as possible. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll the pastry out to about 3mm thick and line the tart tin with it, making sure that the pastry stands just a little proud of the rim. Trim the edges, prick the base and pop back in the fridge for 30 minutes (to prevent shrinkage during cooking).

Preheat oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6 and put in a baking sheet to heat up.

Remove the pastry case from the fridge, line with parchment paper and fill up with baking beans. Pop onto the hot baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and baking beans and cook for a further 5 minutes to dry out the pastry. Remove and set aside.

Reduce the oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Using a handheld electric whisk, beat the egg yolks in a large bowl for 3 minutes. Pour in the condensed milk and whisk for a further 2 minutes. Add the lime juice and zest and whisk to incorporate evenly. Tip into the pastry case, smoothing over the top for an even spread. Pop back onto the hot baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until just set. Remove and allow to cool completely. Pop in the fridge to chill.

And then to the super tangy lime jelly! Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, put the lime juice, water and caster sugar into a small saucepan and gently heat to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add to the pan, stirring until dissolved. Pour into a jug and stir in the lime zest and food colouring. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.

Pour jelly over the top of your key lime pie – there will be a bit more than you need so stop pouring before it overflows the pastry! Pop back into the fridge for at least 60 minutes to set.

When you’re ready to indulge, ease your lovely key lime pie out of its tin and using a sharp knife, cut into slices. Enjoy this lovely tangy, fresh dessert that with a little double cream if liked. Just yummy and VERY moreish!

Inspired by…

Camilla Stephens, Higgidy

How easy…

This is not a difficult dessert at all and very rewarding. However, you do have to have other things to do to fill in the time whilst this dessert makes a few trips to the fridge – wasn’t a problem for me – I just found other little jobs to do and was then also cooking the lunch, so it all worked perfectly.

Orange Drizzle Cake

 

I heard on the Chris Evans’ radio 2 breakfast show on Tuesday that Great British Bake Off winner 2015, the lovely Nadiya Hussain, had been appointed to create a birthday cake for our wonderful 90-year- old Queen and that she’d decided to make an orange drizzle cake. Well, we all know that hers will be a thing of wonder but I thought that in my own small way, I would celebrate the day with a more basic version of the same. Using my Mary Berry lemon drizzle cake recipe as a basis, I simply swapped out the fresh lemon bits for orange – couldn’t be simpler! Whilst the lemon version is really zesty, zingy and fresh, the orange alternative is mellower and more subtle with a nod towards summer. They’re both lovely, dead easy, take no time and both very moreish. Happy Birthday ma’am!!!!

Serves 8

What you need…

for the cake

900g loaf tin, greased and parchment paper-lined

3 large eggs

175g self-raising flour

175g caster sugar

175g butter, softened

1½ teaspoons baking powder

Zest of 1 large orange, finely grated

for crunchy orange icing

100g granulated sugar

Juice of 1 large orange

What to do…

Preheat oven to 180c / 350 F / gas 4.

Chuck all the cake ingredients into a food processor and whizz until thoroughly mixed.

Tip into the loaf tin and bake in oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown and shrinking away from the sides of the tin slightly.

Pop tin on a cooling rack and leave from 10/15 minutes until the cake is warm rather than hot.

Prick over the top of the cake with a skewer.

Mix together the sugar and orange juice and pour over the top of the cake whilst it is still in its tin. It will look like there’s loads too much topping – keep the faith and pour the lot in. Walk away.

Come back 10/15 minutes later and the orange drizzle topping will have largely disappeared – it’s gone into the cake (with the help of your skewering) to ensure that it is wonderfully moist.

When it’s cool rather than cold, loosen the sides away from the tin and lift out, using the paper. Dispense with the parchment paper and serve your delicious orange drizzle cake – as you taste it, I swear the gentle warmth of an early summer sun seeps into your bones – it is truly delightful…and for next to no effort.

Inspired by…

Nadiya Hussain for bringing the idea to my attention and Mary Berry for providing me with the original recipe used.

How easy…

Spectacularly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate, Orange and Cardamom Diva Cake

 

I have been wanting to make this cake for a while but I knew that I would involve committing several hours to the cause. Music on, all equipment assembled and at the ready: I set to. It is an absolute stunner – definitely an OMG wonder of a celebratory cake! A sheer pleasure of many layers, your tastebuds are delighted first by rich chocolate, then by the light, zesty orange butter cream, then by the gentle warmth of cardamom and the intense, distinctive taste of pistachios, returning finally to the rich chocolate. John Whaite may call it ‘Opera Cake’, but to me it’s a glorious diva – requiring a huge amount of attention but worthy of it given the integral gift of enjoyment it exudes! If you have the time and want a real show-stopper of a cake, this is it! Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients or instructions: it’s just like having five mini recipes for one ultimate creation – worth every second!

Makes 18 good-sized slices

What you need…

2 x 20 x 30cm Swiss roll tins, buttered and lined with parchment paper

5 egg whites

25g sugar

4 eggs

100g pistachios, ground (in your food processor)

50g ground almonds

150g icing sugar

45g flour

40g unsalted butter, melted

for the ganache

100ml milk

8 cardamom pods, bruised

200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

20g unsalted butter, room temperature

for the syrup

60g caster sugar

60ml water

4 cardamom pods, bruised

Juice from 1 large orange

for the orange buttercream

75ml unsalted butter, room temperature

Zest from 1 large orange

150g icing sugar

1 teaspoon fresh orange juice

to decorate with chocolate mirror glaze

1 gelatine leaf

120g golden caster sugar

60ml water

1 tablespoon golden syrup

75g cocoa powder, sifted

60ml double cream

Gold leaf (optional but opulent!)

What to do…

Sponges

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

Into your processor tip in the eggs, pistachios, almonds, icing sugar and flour. Whizz until well combined.

Using a handheld electric whisk, beat together the egg whites in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks are formed. Tip in one third of the sugar and whisk in thoroughly before repeating with a second third and then the remaining sugar.

Onto the egg whites, gently pour the pistachio mixture and the melted butter. Using a balloon whisk, gently fold together so that all three elements are evenly incorporated.

Pour into your two Swiss roll tins, smooth surfaces and pop in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until light golden brown and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool completely in their tins whilst you make the ganache, butter cream, syrup and glaze.

Ganache

For the indulgent ganache, pour the milk into a saucepan with the 8 cardamom pods, set over a high heat until the milk begins to steam and then remove from the heat, allowing the cardamoms to infuse for 10 minutes.

Pop your chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl.

Remove the cardamom pods and then heat the milk until bubbles start to form around the sides. Pour the milk over the chocolate and after 30 seconds, use your balloon whisk to beat like crazy until the chocolate is melted. Add in the butter and whisk until all is incorporated and is lovely and glossy. Set aside.

Syrup

Place the sugar, water and 4 cardamom pods into a saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Boil for 3 minutes. Allow to cool a little. Add the orange juice and set aside.

Buttercream

In your food processor, tip in the butter and orange zest. Whizz until evenly mixed. Add the icing sugar and orange juice. Whizz until pale and light. Set aside.

Glaze

Soak the gelatine leaf in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the sugar, water and golden syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer vigorously for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and, using a balloon whisk, beat in first the cocoa powder and then the cream. Return to a moderate heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add to the chocolate mixture. Stir until dissolved. Sieve into a jug and set aside.

Assembly Job

Here we go – time to assemble – this bit is really relaxing and I loved seeing it all coming together.

Carefully remove your sponges from the parchment paper and from each one, cut a 20cm square, also giving you a 20cm x 10cm rectangle.

Take a 20 x 20cm sponge and put it on the board or plate that you intend to serve this glorious diva of a cake on. Using a pastry brush, apply the syrup to the sponge, using about one third. Then, spread two-thirds of the ganache evenly over the top. Pop the sponge in the freezer for 5 minutes. Clear up a bit.

Place the two rectangular sponges on the ganache to create the second 20 x 20cm square sponge layer. Apply half the remaining syrup all over the top and then spread over all of the buttercream. Pop in the freezer for 5 minutes. Clear up a bit more.

Take the remaining square sponge and evenly apply the remaining syrup all over. Flip it (so that the syrup is on the underside) and gently place it on top of the buttercream. Spread the remaining ganache over the top and then pop the cake back into the freezer for 20 minutes. Clear up a lot!

The glaze needs to be runny so pop it in the microwave for 30-second bursts until it is glossy and runny again. Enjoy gently pouring it evenly over the chilled cake, making sure the whole surface is covered. Put back in the freezer for 30 minutes until set.

To serve, first a little tidy up of the diva, so it looks its absolute best! Fill a tall jug with boiling water from the kettle and arm yourself with your sharpest knife. Dip the knife in the water, dry and then trim one side of the cake by just 5mm to create a sharp edge with beautifully defined layers. Repeat the dip, dry and trim process for the remaining three sides and then again to divide the cake up into either smaller cakes (I made 3 smaller rectangular cakes, each serving 6 slices) or slice up the whole lot. Decorate with gold leaf if you’re feeling opulent or simply indulge in the loveliness that is this fabulous cake!

It absolutely WAS worth the effort! Enjoy!!!!

Tips…

Freeze the left over egg yolks from the biscuit sponge – you only need one more to make a fabulous and large Tiramisu (recipe to follow).

Rinse and dry food processor bowl, balloon whisks and saucepans as you complete the first stages to reduce the final washing up pile!

Inspired by…

2012 Great British Bake Off winner, John Whaite

How easy…

It’s not a difficult recipe but it does take hours and my kitchen looked like a bombsite during the process. Called into play were the food processor, mini chopper, electric hand whisk, juicer and mixing bowls as well as three balloon whisks, jugs and countless spatulas, knives and spoons. I am a messy cook anyway but wow! this was a whole new level of kitchen mayhem, even for me. Saying that, during the cake assembly, when it is popped into the freezer for a few sessions, the dishes, surfaces and equipment gradually got washed, wiped down and returned to normal so when this glorious cake was finished, it was centre stage in a spotless kitchen with only the whirring of the dishwasher as a gentle reminder of the havoc that had reigned!

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