Puddings and Cakes

Mini Rum Yum Babas

Wow! Wow! Wow! I am soooooo pleased I found this recipe! Individual, little gorgeous very grown up cakes that, whilst saturated in a rum-infused syrup, are so light, that you could very easily devour at least two, perhaps three, in one sitting: so tempting are they!

I’ve wanted to make rum babas for as long as I can remember but was put off by the apparent complexity and time involved in their creation. I read this alternative to the traditional recipe and my first thought was ‘well, I can’t see how that will work’ but I gave it a go anyway – ridiculously quick and easy as well as spectacularly gorgeous, these little retro lovelies will be gracing our dinner party tables until all of our friends have indulged in them! Welcome back from the 1970s, a thoroughly modern version of the fabulous rum baba!

Makes 8

What you need…

1 x 12-Cavity Mini Fluted Non-Stick Pan (I bought one from Amazon for £15 – I can make all sorts of lovely treats in it).

110g icing sugar, sifted

40g ground almonds

100g egg whites (from 2 – 3 large, happy eggs)

2 teaspoons maple syrup

60g unsalted butter, melted and then cooled but still soft

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

50g flour, sifted

½ teaspoon baking powder

for the rum syrup

300ml hot water from the kettle

300g caster sugar

100 – 150ml Caribbean dark rum

for the glaze

1 rounded dessertspoon apricot jam

2 tablespoons water

What to do…

The evening before you want to indulge in your babas, use an electric handheld whisk to combine the icing sugar and ground almonds in a large bowl. Tip in the egg whites and whisk to blend, then add the maple syrup, butter and vanilla extract, still whisking. Finally, add the flour and baking powder, whisking to combine. Cover with cling film and pop into your fridge and leave overnight.

Perhaps now is a good time to make the rum syrup: tip the caster sugar into a jug and top up with the water from the kettle. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside to cool. Pour in 100ml rum, taste and then add more rum until it tastes just the way you like it (150ml for me!). Set aside.

The following morning, preheat your oven to 200˚c / 400˚f / gas 6.

Liberally butter 8 of the baba moulds and then dust with flour, tipping them upside down to get rid of the excess.

Spoon the baba mixture into the prepared moulds, filling them to just over half way. Pop into your oven for 12-14 minutes until golden and firm.

Leave in their moulds for 5 minutes, then use the tip of a knife to tease them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Place your babas into a shallow dish and then use a cocktail stick to prick them all over. Pour the syrup all over them and leave them to soak for 40 minutes, occasionally using a spoon to baste them with the syrup – it will mainly soak into the babas, leaving only a little in the bottom of the dish.

Make the glaze by putting the jam and water into a small saucepan and gently heating, stirring to combine. Brush the glaze all over the babas.

Transfer them to serving places and share them to delighted friends and family (but NOT their children!) with sweetened, whisked double cream and fruit of your choice. Be ready to offer seconds!

Inspired by…

The ‘sponge’ recipe was in the Mail on Sunday’s ‘You’ magazine and the syrup and glaze were taken from a 1970’s classic: Supercook!

How easy…

Really easy and quick and they taste spectacular!

Chocolate Lace-Decorated Favourite Cake

This fabulous cake is based on the sponge recipe I used to create my ‘365 celebration cake’ all the way back in November 2015: it’s really chocolatey and is made even more heavenly by the inclusion of a butter cream containing melted dark chocolate – delicious.

Celebrating Easter as well as my birthday, this cake had hidden in its depths mini chocolate Easter eggs but it was the decorative chocolate lace that was the real incentive to create this showstopper (if I do say so myself!) and now that I know how easy it is to make, it will of course be adorning many a cake!!!! A cake worth celebrating and worthy of any celebration!

Serves 16+

What you need…

1 x 20cm loose bottomed cake tin, buttered and lined with baking parchment

1 x 15cm loose bottomed cake tin, buttered and lined with baking parchment

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

340g unsalted butter, room temperature

340g caster sugar

6 eggs, lightly beaten

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

100g dark chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa) broken into pieces

200g unsalted butter, room temperature

400g icing sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the hidden filling

Mini chocolate eggs, Smarties, chocolate buttons, jewelry – whatever you fancy!

for the chocolate lace

1 x kitchen thermometer

2 x10cm-wide acetate strips, cut so that they will easily go around each of 20cm and 15cm cake sponges

150g plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into chunks

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 180°c / 350° / gas 4 and turn your attention to the sponges.

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

In a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Then, tip 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. (At this point, I normally wrap them in foil and freeze them until the day I need them).

Time for the buttercream. If you are doing it all on the same day, make the butter cream whilst the sponges are cooling.

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 larger sponge and cut it in half horizontally to create 2 sponge tiers. Lay one half on a serving plate. Use your cookie cutter to cut a hole in the centre of the remaining large sponge.

Spread butter cream evenly across the bottom sponge and then place the other half, with the hole on top. Also cover this one with a layer of butter cream.

Next, take the smaller sponge and slice it horizontally to create 3 sponge tiers. Use your cookie cutter to cut a hole in the middle of the bottom one and then place this tier in the middle of the larger cake, matching up the central holes as best you can (but don’t worry if they don’t match – no one will be able to see).

Spread butter cream across this sponge and then repeat the process with the middle smaller tier. Fill your stacked sponges with your choice of surprise (mini eggs etc), spread butter cream across this middle smaller sponge and then top with the remaining tier – assembly job done – the top and bottom sponges are ‘complete’ whilst the middle three have holes in them, now occupied by treats!

Spread butter cream evenly across the top and sides of the cake and then set aside.

To the lace! Break 100g of the plain chocolate into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir the chocolate until it reaches a melting point of 47c / 115f. Remove the bowl from the heat, add the remaining 50g chocolate and stir until the chocolate has cooled to 31c / 90f.

Place your strips of acetate onto a flat work surface.

Pour the chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a narrow nozzle or tip it into a squeezy bottle also fitted with a narrow nozzle. Let the chocolate fall out of the nozzle whilst swirling up and down the strips of acetate to create a lace effect. Leave to cool until just set and firm enough to then wrap around the two sets of sponge tiers (about 15 – 20 minutes). Walk off and leave the acetate on for 1 hour. Gently and patiently peel the acetate away, leaving the gorgeous chocolate lace decorating your gorgeous chocolate cake….et voilà!

Serve to a completely wowed group – the lace really does look terrific, then there’s the surprise of the hidden treats and then of course, there’s the most important bit – the fabulously luscious flavour!

Tip…

I make the sponges in advance and then defrost them the day that I want to serve the cake. This way, the kitchen doesn’t look like so much of a disaster area and I can devote my energies to the creative bit. Also, the sponges are much easier to slice accurately when they are defrosting.

If you replaced chocolate butter cream with white chocolate ganache to decorate the sponges, the visual effect would be much more dramatic. However, this was my cake and I don’t like white chocolate!!!

How easy…

It’s all easy but does take time – not one to rush, this one!

Inspired by…

The chocolate sponge and butter cream combination are now a favourite in the Duffield house and have been practiced to produce various creations during the last 2½ years. The lace can be attributed to the BBC and is used to create a Paul Hollywood/Mary Berry showstopper.

Bakewell Tart

Such a joy this one: crisp pastry encircling the sweet, luscious and moist frangipane ‘sponge’ with a gorgeous little lip smacker of raspberry jam; all of which is topped with flaked almonds and a smattering of icing – absolutely delicious and something eccentrically and essentially English about the whole thing! Perfect for springtime, perfect with a cup of tea – an absolute darling of a pud!

Serves 12-14

What you need…

for the pastry

25cm x 4cm deep loose-bottomed tart tin, liberally buttered and lined on the bottom with parchment paper

250g plain flour, plus a little for dusting

50g icing sugar, plus a little for dusting

A pinch of salt

135g butter, straight from the fridge, cut into small cubes

1 large, happy egg, beaten

2 tablespoons ice cold water

for the filling

200g raspberry jam

250g unsalted butter, softened

250g caster sugar

2 large, happy eggs, beaten

80g plain flour

250g ground almonds

Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

40g flaked almonds

4 tablespoons apricot jam

2 tablespoons water

20-30ml amaretto liqueur

40g icing sugar

What to do…

First, to the pastry: tip the flour into your food processor. Sift in the icing sugar and salt. Add the butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Tip in the beaten egg and water and pulse until it comes together.

Dust your worktop with sifted icing sugar and a little plain flour. Gather the pastry up into your hands and then quickly knead it on your worktop to form a ball.

Roll out to just over the thickness of a £1 coin and line your tart tin and then pop in the fridge for 30 minutes. Trim away the excess pastry, prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork and pop in the freezer for 10 minutes. I don’t know why I do this but it works this way. I can’t be doing with the chillin’ before the rollin’ – it just doesn’t work out for me – this way does! Whop your oven on to 180˚c / 350˚ / gas 4 and put a large baking sheet inside.

Line your pastry case with foil and then fill up with baking beans before popping in the oven onto the baking sheet for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and pop it right back for a further 10 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature and then spread over the raspberry jam.

Pop your baking sheet back into the oven.

To the frangipane filling: tip the butter and caster sugar into your food processor and whizz until pale and fluffy. Whilst still whizzing, slowly add the eggs little by little. Tip in the flour and whizz until incorporated. Then tip in the ground almonds, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Whizz until evenly mixed in.

Dollop the filling on top of the raspberry jam and level with the back of a spoon. Scatter over the flaked almonds and slide the tin onto the hot baking sheet and bake for 50-55 minutes until golden and just set.

Remove your tart to a cooling rack to start to cool.

In little saucepan, warm the apricot jam and water, stirring to mix together. Strain and then brush over the top of the still-warm tart.

Stir the amaretto liqueur into the icing sugar to create runny icing and then drizzle over the cooled tart. Leave to set for 10 minutes before serving. A lovely treat and absolute crowd pleaser.

Inspired by…

The pastry is my favourite recipe for sweet short crust pasty and the only recipe I use now: from Camilla Stephens, Higgidy. The main recipe is courtesy of Nathan Outlaw and was published in Delicious magazine.

How easy…

Very easy, now I’ve found a ‘no-fail’ pastry recipe. It takes time though, not that you need to be in kitchen throughout.

 

 

Rhubarb Crumble with Nutmeg and Pistachios

I adore rhubarb and am loving the fact that recipes using the stuff currently abound. I was drawn to this one because of the inherent feeling of comfort that comes with a crumble pudding and because of its sheer simplicity. Then to the flavour: that fabulous tart sweetness that is unique to rhubarb, topped with a lovely, gently spiced crunchy crumble mixture that is an absolutely superb foil to the sweet filling – perfect for a cold winter’s day and ridiculously quick and easy: fast comfort food!

Serves 6

What you need…

for the rhubarb

1 x 2-litre ovenproof dish, buttered

800g rhubarb, trimmed and chunked into 3cm lengths

75g golden caster sugar

2 tablespoons self-raising flour

for the crumble

150g self-raising flour

150g golden caster sugar

150g ground pistachios

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

150g unsalted butter, chilled and chunked

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200˚c / 400˚ / gas 6.

Toss the rhubarb in the sugar and self-raising flour and arrange in the bottom of your ovenproof dish.

Tip all of the crumble ingredients into your food processor whizz to crumbs that are just starting to stick together. Scatter evenly over the rhubarb. Pop into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden and crisp and the luscious juices are starting to bubble up the sides.

Serve with a dollop of ice-cream, a smothering of warm custard or a swirl of double cream. Enjoy this stupendously simple, delicious pud!

Inspired by…

You magazine (Mail on Sunday)

How easy…

Stupendously!

The Ooziest, Naughtiest Chocolate Brownies with Melted Mars Bar Chunks

What can I say?! This version of ‘my’ previous brownie recipe hits new heights in gorgeousness with many exclamations of delight going down with each mouthful as well as some rather unbecoming behaviour as more little squares of oozy naughtiness are scrabbled for and scoffed. I have fellow foodie, Steve Gingell (and his son) to thank for this version, who I believe are both on a quest for the most sensational brownie – this might well be it!

Makes 20 largish or 30 smallish brownies

What you need…

250g unsalted butter

200g 70% dark chocolate

80g cocoa powder, sifted

65g plain flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

360g caster sugar

4 large free-range eggs

8 fun-sized Mars Bars, each cut into 4 chunks

What to do…

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

Lightly butter and line a 24cm square baking tin with parchment paper. Roughly break up your chocolate and pop it into a large heatproof bowl together with the butter. Put the bowl over a steamer, sitting in a saucepan of simmering water. Melt the butter and chocolate, mixing until smooth.

In another bowl, thoroughly mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar.

Take the melted butter and chocolate mixture off the heat and carefully pour into the dry ingredients, using a spatular to scrape in every last bit. Use a handheld electric whisk to mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.

Whisk the eggs and then tip them into the rest of the mixture, whisking them in until you have a lovely silky, glossy, smooth mixture. Tip in your Mars Bar chunks and gently stir them so that they are evenly distributed.

Pour your brownie mix into the baking tin and place in the oven for around 25 minutes. When done, your oozy chocolate brownie ‘tray bake’ should be slightly springy on the outside but still very gooey in the middle.

Allow to cool in the tin, then carefully invert the bake onto a large chopping board and cut into little or large chunky squares. Purely for quality control reasons, now is a good time to try one – just to make sure that they are OK – and ooooooooh, yummy, reach – not grab or scrabble – for another…

Inspired by…

The original brownie recipe was that of Jamie Oliver. However, the idea of including the Mars Bars was that of fellow foodie, Steve Gingell, whose son gave this version a bash – so pleased he shared!

How easy…

Child’s play. In fact, this seems to be a regular event during visits by grandkids and nieces – when do we make the brownies?!

 

Passion Fruit Melting Moments

Seriously melt in the mouth moment treats these – the wonderfully buttery biscuits are sandwiched together with luscious passion fruit-infused butter cream to create quite the sensation for the taste buds! Perfect for that mid afternoon cup of tea or just to snaffle at whim! Fabulous – must make more….x

Makes around 14

What you need…

1 x piping bag fitted with large star or plain nozzle

2 x baking sheets, each lined with baking parchment

6 passion fruit

250g salted butter, softened

60g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

230g plain flour

75g cornflour

for the butter cream

100g salted butter, softened

150g icing sugar, sifted

Passion fruit juice (from those above)

What to do…

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

Halve each passion fruit and scoop out the flesh into a sieve, pressing down with the back of a spoon to release as much juice as possible.

For the biscuits, tip the butter and icing sugar into your food processor and whizz until pale. Tip in the flour and cornflour together with 2½ tablespoons passion fruit juice and 2½ tablespoons of just-boiled water. Whizz until the mixture comes together, scraping down if needed.

Scoop the mixture into your piping bag and then pipe 28 x 5cm rosettes onto your baking trays, about 3cms apart and pop into the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes or until pale and golden.

Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets and then carefully transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the passion fruit butter cream. Wash out and dry your food processer bowl and blending blade. Tip in the butter, icing sugar and remaining passion fruit juice and whizz until pale and fluffy.

Sandwich together your biscuits with a generous dollop of butter cream, arrange on a pretty serving plate and dust with icing sugar. Any that are broken during the process have to be immediately scoffed (chef’s privilege!)

Serve with a cup of tea, ideally in the middle of the afternoon sat outside in flower-scented garden on a gentle summer’s day…or whenever you fancy a lovely little melting moment of a treat…

Inspired by…

Not sure – it’s a ripped out page from a magazine from last Easter!

How easy…

Ever so and they are truly delightful.

Rhubarb and Orange Polenta Cake

OK, so not much of a looker this one but OMG, so totally scrumptious! Sweet rhubarb and orange flavours work lusciously with the moistness of the sponge, a thing of gorgeousness as a result of the ground almonds and the fresh juice being drizzled over at the end. Honestly, cut yourself a fat wedge when it’s still warm from the oven and I promise you’ll be wanting a second! Oh, and another thing, it’s easy and effortless!

Serves 8 – 10 (or just 2!)

What you need…

1 x 20cm loose-bottomed, deep-sided cake tin, buttered and lined

150g butter, room temperature

200g caster sugar

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange

3 large, happy eggs, lightly beaten

150g polenta

1½ teaspoons baking powder

75g ground almonds

400g rhubarb, trimmed and chunked

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

What to do…

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

Into your food processor, tip the butter, sugar and orange zest and whizz until pale and fluffy.

Whilst still whizzing, gradually add the beaten egg. Tip in the polenta, baking powder and ground almonds and beat until evenly incorporated.

Dollop half the mixture into your cake tin and then arrange the rhubarb evenly over the top. Dollop in the remaining mixture – don’t worry about smoothing it over – no need.

Pop into your oven and bake for 1 – 1¼ hours until well risen and golden and when an inserted skewer comes out clean and dry.

Use your skewer to poke holes all over the surface of the cake, drizzle over the orange juice and then sprinkle over the sugar.

Leave to cool a little in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack. Personally, I’d go for a big fat slab now….whatever’s left can cool – just luscious!

Serving suggestion…

Large, moist slices, still warm from the oven are best but there’s nothing wrong with the cooled version either. On it’s glorious lonesome or with crème fraîche or either vanilla or cinnamon ice cream – delicious!

Inspired by…

Waitrose Weekend

How easy…

Effortless!

Mojito Cheesecakes

Quick and easy, light and refreshing, these elegant little lovelies also combine the wonderful contrast that is the almond-flavoured amaretti biscuits with the sharp lime and of course, the essential boozy kick of the rum – fab!

Makes 4 large ones or 6 petite ones (no prizes for guessing which ones I made!)

What you need…

Cocktail glasses or ramekins in which to serve

25g butter

60g amaretti biscuits, roughly crushed

100g full fat cream cheese

150ml double cream

2 tablespoons white rum

25g icing sugar

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 large lime

Extra grated lime zest or mint leaves, to decorate

What to do…

Melt the butter and then tip all but 2 tablespoons of the amaretti biscuits into the butter and stir to combine. Divide the butter-coated amaretti between your glasses/ramekins. Lightly press down.

In a large bowl, use an electric handheld whisk to beat together the cream cheese and cream. Add the rum, icing sugar and lime zest. Whisk again to combine. Tip in the lime juice and whisk again – the mixture will instantly thicken. Use a spoon to divide the filling between your glasses/ramekins.

Sprinkle the remaining amaretti crumbs over each cheesecake and then decorate with lime zest or mint leaves.

Pop in the fridge to chill. (They will also be fine for up to 2 days). Serve probably a little under room temperature – absolutely fabulous!

Inspired by…

The legend that is Mary Berry

How easy…

Fabulously!

Baked Lemon Curd Syrup Sponges with Brandy Custard

Perfect for this time of year: hot, delightfully sticky yet light individual little sponges with a gorgeous gooey middle and all topped up with brandy-infused custard – almost a winter essential, I’d say! We had ours to round off a Sunday Roast – bang on!

What you need…

6 x dariole moulds, liberally buttered and lined with a disk of non-stick baking paper

1 x baking tray

115g butter, softened

115g light muscovado sugar

2 large, happy eggs

115g self-raising flour

1 handful of panko breadcrumbs (or ordinary breadcrumbs will work just as well)

Grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½

Grated zest of 1 orange and juice of ½

6 tablespoons golden syrup

1 tablespoon brandy, plus 1½ tablespoons for the custard

6 rounded teaspoons lemon curd

500ml fresh custard

What to do…

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

Into your food processor tip the butter, sugar, eggs and flour and whizz until combined. Chuck in the breadcrumbs and half the zest and pulse to incorporate.

In a small bowl, mix together the remaining zest, juice, golden syrup and 1 tablespoon brandy. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the bottom of each dariole mould, reserving the rest.

Divide the sponge mixture evenly between the moulds and then plop 1 teaspoon lemon curd into the middle of each (it will merge with the sponge).

Put the moulds onto a baking tray and pop into your oven to bake for 30 minutes until risen and golden.

Meanwhile, use a saucepan to gently warm the custard, stirring through it 1½ tablespoons brandy.

To serve, invert each dariole mould onto a plate, tapping the bottom with the handle of metal knife if the sponges need a little encouragement to plop out. Drizzle over the remaining syrup and serve with a big smile and the boozy custard. Cold winter evenings definitely have some benefits!

Inspired by…

Delicious magazine

How easy…

Remarkably easy and I love that fact that you can do most of the prep before you sit down to dinner.

Mincemeat, Apple and Panettone Pudding

So, I checked this recipe out last week, having just enough mincemeat and panettone left from Christmas – a good way of using it up I thought. As you can see from the image, this pudding is not the most glamorous. However, on tasting the first mouthful, both John and I were blown away. Underneath that brown topping is a pudding that is simply and lusciously sensational. It’s that good, that I’m doing it again this Sunday after a roast dinner with friends but…am going to have to make more mincemeat and have been donated a spare panettone to complete the task! It’s worth it!!!

Serves 4 – 6

What you need…

1 x baking dish, liberally buttered

500g sharp eating apples

3 tablespoons water

200g mincemeat

60g butter, melted

250g panettone, processed to course crumbs

1 tablespoon demerara sugar

What to do…

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

Peel, core and chunk the apples and tip them into a saucepan with the water. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat, leaving the apples to collapse into a purée (I left my quite lumpy as I like finding little chunks of apple in amongst the mixture).

Remove from the heat and gently stir through the mincemeat – don’t mix it altogether to a brown mush but rather leave it unevenly mixed – looks and tastes better. Tip the whole lot into your baking dish.

Pour the melted butter into the panettone crumbs and mix thoroughly to create a loose, moist jumble of crumbs and dried fruit.

Tip the crumbs over the mincemeat and apple, leaving the surface rough and rustic! Sprinkle over the demerara sugar and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Serve with custard, double cream or ice-cream. Watch how fast this glorious pud is demolished!!!!

Inspired by…

Nigel Slater

How easy…

Sloth like effort required. Perfect for a leisurely Sunday lunch.