Puddings and Cakes

Light and Zesty Lemon Tart

A really light, creamy yet zesty, fresh version of this classic dessert, this lemon tart is quite simply, delightful. Seconds all round, please.

Serves 6

What you need…

1 x 23cm/9in shallow tart tin, with a removable base

1 x flat baking sheet

for the pastry

175g flour

Pinch of salt

100g butter, straight from the fridge

25g caster sugar

1 egg, separated: yolk in one cup and white in another

2 dessertspoons water

for the filling

3 eggs

125g granulated sugar

Juice and grated zest of 2 lemons

100ml double cream

What to do…

Grease your tart tin.

Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub into the flour until the mixture is like crumbs. Add the sugar and gently mix in with a spatula. Beat the egg yolk and then tip into the mixture, stirring until the mixture sticks together. At this point add the water, one teaspoon at a time until the mixture comes together – you may not need the whole 2 dessertspoons.

Cover your working surface with cling film and then flour lightly. Roll out your pastry on the cling film until about 5mm thick, creating a circle as best you can. Cover with another piece of cling film and then slide a flat baking sheet underneath the whole lot to lift it and pop in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°c / 375°f / gas 5.

Remove pastry from fridge and, keeping the pastry between the two pieces of cling film, gently roll it out until it’s about 3mm thick and large enough to line the bottom and sides of the prepared tart tin.

Remove the top piece of cling film and gently place the pastry upside down (cling film facing up) into the tin. Gently press into the edges and using your thumb, break off the pastry of the top edge of the tin to give a neat finish. Remove the cling film and pop the pastry into the freezer for 10 minutes.

The pasty needs to be blind-baked now so line it roughly with parchment paper, making sure the sides are also covered with the paper. Chuck in a load of baking beans (or dried pulses which can be used many times over) and blind-bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry feels dry.

Remove the paper and beans. Lightly beat your egg white and use it to brush over the pastry. Pop the pastry back in the oven for two minutes.

Take out of the oven and put to one side until you are ready to make your filling (this could be immediately, later on in the day or even the next day).

Set the oven to 120°c / 250°f / gas ½.

In a food processor, pop your eggs and sugar and whizz for about 8 minutes, until the mixture is pale and creamy. Add the lemon juice and zest and process for a further 5 minutes. Pour in the cream and whizz for another 5 minutes.

Pour into the pastry case and pop it straight in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling has just set in the centre.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before taking the tart out of its tin and transferring to a pretty plate or cake stand. When it’s completely cool, dredge icing sugar over the top. Slice and serve your light and zesty lemon tart – it’s fresh and zingy, light and frankly, delightful!

Serving suggestion…

A little splash of double cream works wonderfully and this is a great dessert to serve with a ‘sticky’ dessert wine.

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Well, at the time of first making this, I had never made my own pastry but I nervously followed that element of the recipe to the letter and ….it was too ‘short’. The second time, I adapted it and added more water and it was absolutely delightful. The lemon filling is quite heavenly and a dead easy – just a case of processing.

I do love this recipe, because the ‘tricky’ bit, i.e. the pastry, can be done in advance and the filling is dead easy.

Warm Summer Fruits Pudding with Almonds

This is a proper winter-warming pudding, even though the first ingredient is summer fruits! It’s the perfect conclusion to a long, lingering Sunday Lunch and is immensely satisfying – only the Sunday papers and a doze needs follow…

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

1 x pretty (because its for a pud) oven-proof dish, greased (mine is 20cms diameter and 10cms deep)

500g summer fruits (I buy frozen and let them defrost overnight)

175g caster sugar, plus ½ tablespoon

175g butter, room temperature

175g ground almonds

85g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

2 pears, unpeeled, cored and sliced

What to do…

Pre-heat oven to 170°c / 325°f /gas 3

Tip your defrosted fruit into the ovenproof bowl and stir in the ½ tablespoon of caster sugar.

Tip all the other ingredients except the pears into a food processor and process until thoroughly blended. Pour the mixture over the fruit and smooth over. Arrange the slices of pear on the top, ideally in an overlapping fan.

Bake in the oven for 2 hours!

Check that it is cooked all the way through by poking in a kebab stick – it should come out dry.

Serve straight away, either with warm custard or cold double cream – either way this warm summer fruits pudding with almonds is absolutely delicious.

Tip…

Assemble the fruits in the bowl, cover and pop in the fridge, prepare the pears, cover and pop in the fridge; and then chuck the rest of the ingredients into the processor. You can now leave everything until you’re ready to put them all in the oven – perfect if you’re entertaining. It takes less than five minutes to complete the preparation when you are ready.

Inspired by…

Can’t remember where I plucked this recipe from but I’ve been doing it for years!

How Easy…

Ridiculously! Remember though – 2 hours cooking time (the cooking smell is heavenly!)

 

Delicious Lemon Drizzle Cake

I just love this cake! For two reasons: firstly it is spectacularly easy to make and secondly, because it is truly scrumptious! Not naturally a spontaneous baker, I have even taken to quickly whipping up this cake on a whim just when we fancy a little slice of something yummy with our afternoon cuppa (him: tea, me: double espresso). Try it once and it will be on your favourites list.

Serves 8

What you need…

900g/2lb loaf tin, greased and parchment paper-lined

for the cake

3 large eggs

175g self-raising flour

175g caster sugar

175g butter, softened

1½ teaspoons baking powder

Zest of 1½ lemons, finely grated

for crunchy lemon icing

100g granulated sugar

Juice of 1½ lemons

What to do…

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

Chuck all the cake ingredients into a food processor and beat together thoroughly.

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 lemon 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 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.

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 lemon drizzle cake – lovely fat slices! At this point, it is beyond delicious – light, reminiscent of being warm with a gentle but gorgeous citrusy tang that simply says, “eat more”. Wonderful!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Spectacularly!

 

 

 

 

 

365 Chocolate Celebration Cake

I created this cake from a mish-mash of different recipes and having seen an image from The Clandestine Cake Club’s cookbook with Smarties toppling out of the middle of the cake. It caught my imagination! What a great way to celebrate my ‘365 images that make me smile’ project (whereby I spent a year posting a picture captured each and every day that made me happy). I decided that my version would be all chocolate but I wanted a sponge that was light and fluffy, a butter cream that was rich and to finish it off, the opulence that comes with a thick coating of shiny chocolate. This cake, made for the first time here, did not disappoint and I think it is perfect for a celebration.

I’ve used Smarties, but chocolate buttons would work equally well or, if it’s going to be demolished in one day, fresh raspberries would be delightful!

Serves 16+

What you need…

2 x 20cm / 8” cake tins (spring form or loose-bottomed ideally), greased and lined on the bottom with parchment paper.

1 deep cookie cutter (I used a 7cm-wide one but you could use a wider one if you wanted more sweets hidden in the cake).

 340g unsalted butter, room temperature

340g caster sugar

6 eggs

1 dessertspoon vanilla extract

140g milk

225g self-raising flour

85g cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

for the chocolate butter cream and Smarties surprise

 50g dark chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa) broken into pieces

100g unsalted butter, room temperature

200g icing sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

225g Smarties

for the decoration

150g unsalted butter, room temperature

250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 180°c / 350° / gas 4.

Using a food processor, beat together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Whilst it’s still beating, add in the eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next. Add the vanilla extract and milk and mix in.

In a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Then, add in the ingredients from the food processor and, using a balloon whisk, fold together all the ingredients until they are thoroughly blended. Divide the chocolate sponge mixture between the two cake tins.

Bake the sponges in the oven for 45 minutes until the cake is firm and an inserted skewer comes out dry.

Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the tins and then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the butter cream, made especially gorgeous by the use of the melted chocolate.

Put your chocolate into a heatproof bowl and then into a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water. Gently melt the chocolate and then set aside until it is cool enough to touch.

In a separate bowl, sieve in the icing sugar and then beat together with the butter. Add the vanilla essence and then tip in the warm chocolate. Mix together using a small balloon whisk to ensure it is evenly and thoroughly blended. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Take your cookie cutter and cut a hole in the centre of each sponge, making sure the hole is in the same place in each sponge so that they will line up once assembled. From each cutout of sponge, slice a 1cm piece across, inserting one back into the bottom sponge.

Spread the butter cream evenly across the bottom sponge. Pop on the top sponge. Using a small spatula or palette knife spread more butter cream across the ‘join’ of the two sponges (so that the edge of the cake will look neat once the chocolate decoration is poured over).

Tip the Smarties into the hole in the middle of the cake and then pop the remaining 1cm deep sponge circle on the top, thus recreating a complete top sponge.

For the decoration, put the remaining broken chocolate in a heatproof bowl in a steamer over simmering water and gently melt. Once melted, mix in the butter. Drizzle over the cake until the top and the sides are covered evenly. Allow to set.

Serve to thrilled gasps as you cut into it when the Smarties tumble out and murmurs of appreciation when they eat it!

Tips…

There will be some melted chocolate left over – dip in some strawberries – great with an espresso after the main event!

Before I drizzle over the melted chocolate, I take a double piece of parchment paper with a circle cut out of the middle which is the same size as the sponges and pop it over the sponges so it is resting on the cake stand, effectively acting as a bib! When I’d finished drizzling (and making a considerable mess) I waited for the chocolate to set and then cut the parchment bib away revealing a spotless cake stand – marvellous!

How easy…

The 365 Chocolate Celebration Cake is very easy but it takes lots of time, mainly because you have to wait for the sponges to cool. If you’re in for the day and can potter about doing other things in between each stage of the cooking and assembly, perfect!

 

 

Lemon Polenta Cake with Rosemary Syrup

My absolute favourite dessert: the sponge is soaked in sweet rosemary syrup – a perfect foil to the summer raspberries piled up in the middle and the clean, crisp Greek yogurt it’s served with. Once tried, this recipe will be with you forever!

Serves 10-12

What you need…

175g polenta

50g plain flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

5 tablespoon plain yogurt

5 tablespoon rapeseed oil plus extra for greasing

Grated rind of two lemons

2 tablespoon lemon juice

2 eggs, plus 2 egg whites

600g caster sugar

400ml water

3 heaped teaspoons dried rosemary

Fresh raspberries

Greek yogurt to serve

What to do…

Heat oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Sift polenta, flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.

Place yogurt, oil, lemon rind and juice into a jug and stir until combined.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and egg whites with 200g of the sugar for a few minutes until creamy. Beat in the yogurt mixture until smooth and then fold in the dry ingredients until just combined – don’t overmix.

Pour the mixture into a 1.2 litre/2-pint lightly oiled ring cake tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a thin skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Meanwhile, place the remaining 400g of sugar in a pan with 400ml water and the rosemary. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Leave to cool completely and then strain through a sieve.

When the cake is cooked, place on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then ease a blunt knife around the outside to separate the cake from the tin. Invert cake onto a serving plate.

When completely cool, prick all over with a thin skewer and, using a tablespoon, drizzle over half the rosemary syrup so that it completely soaks into the cake, making it lovely and moist (tip: this part can take quite a while – I do it slowly, sometimes whilst watching TV).

Pour the remaining rosemary syrup into a pretty serving jug and pop in the fridge until ready to use.

Tip raspberries into the hole in the middle and serve your lemon polenta cake with rosemary syrup with dollops of Greek yogurt and the chilled rosemary syrup. Decorate with rosemary sprigs if desired. Divine!

Inspired by…

The Top 100 Recipes from the Food & Drink Series

How easy…

Really easy – a pleasure to create and so stunning on the eye and the taste buds!

Dark Chocolate, Ginger and Orange Cake

This dark, unbelievably rich cake feels like a sin to eat – it’s just sooooo naughty. The other joy of it is that it is very easy to make, so spectacular from every aspect really.

Serves 12

What you need…

200g butter, softened

A little plain flour

175g soft dark brown sugar

Zest and juice of 1 orange

3 large eggs

200g self-raising flour

25g cocoa powder

1 tsp ground ginger

25g dark chocolate, grated

for the syrup

50g golden caster sugar

Juice of 1 orange

50ml water

for the decoration

75g butter

125g dark chocolate, chopped

1 tsp ground ginger

25g white chocolate

What to do…

Preheat oven to 180c / 350f / gas 4. Grease a 20cm ring tin and dust it with the plain flour.

Using a food processor or electric mixer, whisk the butter, sugar and orange zest in large bowl until the mixture is soft, creamy and lighter in colour.

Mix in the eggs, one at a time, then add in the self-raising flour, cocoa, ginger, dark chocolate and orange juice. Mix everything together until smooth. Spoon into the tin and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. Put the sugar into a pan with the orange juice and 50ml cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until syrupy.

With a skewer or cocktail stick, pierce the cake all over the top, then pour over the syrup. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To decorate, melt the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl in a steamer over a saucepan of simmering water;  then mix in the butter until dissolved. Mix in the ground ginger.

Drizzle over the cake and allow to set for 10 minutes. Melt the white chocolate, also in a steamer over boiling water, then drizzle over the dark chocolate and leave to set. Your dark chocolate, ginger and orange cake is ready to take it’s place at the centre of the table!

Serve this wonderfully rich cake with a spoonful of double cream. If you’d rather a lighter, dairy-free alternative, mix together some soya natural yogurt with runny honey and a wee dram of Limoncello. Lurvvelly!!!

Inspired by…

Harrods Magazine – yes, seriously!

How easy…

Dead easy to make this spectacular cake that wouldn’t look out of place at a celebration

 

 

Apple and Almond Cake with Cinnamon and Nutmeg

A lovely, moist cake with a layer of apple running through the middle, this cake simply exudes Autumn for me and the combination of the apple with the cinnamon and nutmeg is made in heaven!

Serves 12

What you need…

3 Granny Smith apples

6 large eggs

335g dark soft brown sugar

335g butter

340g self-raising flour

55g ground almonds

1½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons good-quality apple sauce

for the decoration

2 tablespoons flaked almonds

Icing sugar

Ground cinnamon

What to do…

Grease a 10in/25cm round cake tin (with a removable bottom for easy cake extraction) and preheat oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Put the eggs, sugar and butter into a food processor/electric mixer and mix thoroughly.

Add the flour, ground almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg and apple sauce, mixing together until lump-free.

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples.

Arrange one third of the sliced apples around the bottom of the tin – fanned and slightly overlapping. Pour half the batter on top and then arrange a second third of the apples. Pour over the remaining batter and then arrange the rest of the apples. Scatter over a handful of flaked almonds.

Bake for 60 – 75 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then ease out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Mix together the icing sugar and cinnamon in an icing sugar shaker and dust over the top of the cake with the remaining flaked almonds. Your yummy, gorgeous apple and almond cake with cinnamon and nutmeg is now ready to be indulged: kettle on, comfy chair, some relaxing music and a slice of delicious cake: a little indulgence goes a long way!

Where from…

Chinskitchen.co.uk, published in The Daily Telegraph

How easy…

Dead easy. Process and let it cook itself!

 

 

 

 

The Yummiest Profiteroles

One of my son’s favourites, these little profiteroles are fabulously naughty: pop them in and just revel in the indulgence that pervades your tastebuds!

What you need…

50g butter, preferably unsalted, plus a knob

2 tablespoons caster sugar

75g white flour, sifted with a pinch of salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

300ml double cream

200g good quality dark chocolate

What to do…

Heat the oven to 220°c/200°c fan/gas 7.

Put butter and 2 teaspoons of the caster sugar in a saucepan with 150ml water. Place the pan over a low heat until the butter and sugar have melted, then bring to the boil. Take off the heat, add the flour all at once and beat energetically with a wooden spoon until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan.

Leave to cool for 5 mins, then, using a food processor gradually beat in the eggs bit by bit until you have a stiff, glossy mixture. Rinse two baking trays with cold water, shaking off any excess so they are slightly damp (this helps the choux pastry to rise). Using two teaspoons, spoon blobs of the mixture onto the baking trays. Then place in the oven and cook for about 18-20 minutes until well risen and brown. Remove the profiteroles from the oven and cut a small slit in the base of each one so they don’t collapse. Cool on a wire rack.

When they are cold, whisk together the remainder of the caster sugar and double cream until just holding its shape. Sweeten to taste. Spoon cream into a piping bag and using the slits in the base of the profiteroles, fill each bun to nearly bursting point with cream (these desserts are exuberant so no half-heartedness here – total indulgence or don’t bother!)

Break up the chocolate and put into a heatproof glass bowl in a steamer over a pan of boiling water. When the chocolate has melted, use a spoon to spread it over the profiteroles – again, no holding back – it should be dribbling down the sides in an ‘artistic’ manner. Put the chocolate-topped profiteroles in a cool room to set. Stack up on top of one another to create a mountain of naughtiness and serve. Just scrummy!

Inspired by…

BBC Good Food

How Easy…?

Really easy if you follow the instructions! The wrong flour results in flat, hard disks (I know from experience) but give them a little attention and you will be addicted!

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Roses

A lovely, almost childishly easy Autumnal dessert that is simply delightful!

Serves 6

What you need…

4 apples, cored and halved, skin on

Juice from ½ lemon

3 tablesp apricot jam

2 tablesp water (plus more for apple soak)

1 sheet of puff pastry

Cinnamon, to taste

What to do…

Preheat oven to 375ºf / 200ºc.

Put apple slices in microwave-safe bowl. Fill bowl with water and the lemon juice, making sure the apples are covered. Microwave for three minutes, until the apples are soft enough to be pliable when rolled up.

Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface, thin enough to enable you to cut six 3-inch wide strips.

In a bowl, mix the apricot jam and water and then spoon/brush it down the centre of each strip.

Place the apple slices longways on each strip, adding more slightly overlapping slices until nearly at the end of the strip. The bottom of each apple slice should come to the middle of the strip so that when you have completed each strip, you can sprinkle the apples with cinnamon and then fold the bottom half the strip over the bottom half of the apple slices (think of the top of the apple slices being faces peeking out over the bed sheet!)

Roll up each pastry strip and place in a greased muffin tin.

Bake the apple roses for 35-45 minutes – they will smell divine!

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Indulge – bloody lovely!

Tip…

As alternatives to the apricot jam, try 1) spreading room-temperature butter along each strip and then topping with drizzled honey or 2) for a festive version, use mincemeat – yum!

How easy…

Spectacularly and if you roll the pastry out onto lightly floured cling film, there’s hardly any clearing up!

Inspired by…

tiphero.com

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