Puddings and Cakes

Spiced Poached Pears

I know that you normally see recipes for these around Christmas time, but why wait? We’ve had them both with Stilton (again, why wait until December to indulge in this most sublime of cheeses) and also with cinnamon ice-cream (recipe already blogged). In both cases, the combination was eye-rollingly, tastebud-partyingly good!!!!! Give them a try – spectacular – and yes, very easy and can be made ahead – my kinda recipe!

Serves 6

What you need…

300ml ‘robust’ red wine (I used Chianti)

300ml water

110g caster sugar

1.5cm cinnamon stick

3 cloves

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange

6 firm (but not rock-hard) pears

What to do…

Tip all the ingredients except the pears into a large saucepan and place over a moderate heat, occasionally stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Meanwhile, peel the pears, leaving the stalks on and place upright in the pan – they should fit snuggly.

Pop the lid on the pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, spooning the red wine syrup over the pears a couple of times.

Remove from the heat and discard the cinnamon and cloves. Spoon the syrup once more over the pears and then pop into the fridge overnight.

When you’re ready to indulge, remove the pears from the syrup and cut a thin slice off the bottom to ensure they will stand upright on the serving plates. Serve each pear with some spicy syrup drizzled over: del-ic-ious!!!!

Tip…

I thought afterwards that the orange zest was particularly unattractive so I would in future sieve the syrup before serving.

Poached Pears with Stilton w

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Really easy!

No-Churn Cinnamon Ice Cream

Quite simply, one of my favourite ice creams, best served with poached pears, carmamelised apples or just on it’s own with a spoon, somewhere private!

What you need…

300ml double cream

4 large, happy eggs, separated

100g caster sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

What to do…

The day before you want to indulge in your ice cream, use an electric handheld whisk to beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Rinse the whisks and then in a second bowl, whip the cream until thickened. Rinse whisks again and then in a third bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until thickened and creamy in colour. Add the cinnamon and whisk again to combine.

Use a balloon whisk to fold the cream into the eggs and sugar and then gently fold in the egg whites. Pour your ice cream into a plastic container with a lid and pop into your freezer overnight. Et voilà – it’s done!

Tip…

The ice cream needs to come out of the freezer about 15 minutes before you want to indulge – it takes that long to be soft enough to serve

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Dead easy and make ahead – always gets a tick in the box from me!

No-Churn Cinnamon Ice Cream and Caramelised Apples

What a marriage made in heaven these two are – hot sweet, boozy apple with simply gorgeous cinnamon ice cream which, whilst being simple, has a lovely, deep flavour. In combination…you’ll just reach for more! Oh, and one more thing: it’s dead easy!

What you need…

for the ice cream

300ml double cream

4 large, happy eggs, separated

100g caster sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

for the apples

25g unsalted butter

25g caster sugar

2 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into thick wedges

1 vanilla pod, split, seeds scraped

50ml brandy

What to do…

The day before you want to indulge in your ice cream, use an electric handheld whisk to beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Rinse the whisks and then in a second bowl, whip the cream until thickened. Rinse whisks again and then in a third bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until thickened and creamy in colour. Add the cinnamon and whisk again to combine.

Use a balloon whisk to fold the cream into the eggs and sugar and then gently fold in the egg whites. Pour your ice cream into a plastic container with a lid and pop into your freezer overnight. Et voilà – it’s done!

When your ready to indulge in this lovely pud, take the ice cream out of the freezer to soften a little (takes 10 – 15 minutes). Meanwhile, turn to the apples:

melt the butter and sugar in a pan, then add the apples, vanilla seeds and pod. Cook, turning regularly for 15 minutes, until tender and carmamelised (the smell is AMAZING). Pour in the brandy and bubble until smooth.

Serve your hot, sweet, naughty apple wedges with absolutely delicious cinnamon ice cream – wow oh wow oh wow!!!!!!

Tip…

The cinnamon ice cream is also truly amazing served with wine-poached pears!

Inspired by…

The initial idea was from Delicious magazine, but I swapped pears for apples and created a Rachel Allen ice cream alternative.

 

How easy…

 

The ice cream is unbelievably easy to make and has to be made in advance (tick in box). The caramelised apples are simple too and a joy to make – the caramelising cooking smell is heavenly and increases the anticipation of this terrific pud!

 

 

Favourite Chocolate Cake

So, almost as enthusiastic about cooking and food as her mother, Maddie was asked if there was anything that she would like me to cook on her return from uni. Given that I know how much time she spends trawling the blog and whinging that she’s not here to try it all, I was rather surprised that her instant and first response was….chocolate cake!!!! Anyway, here it is – slightly out of focus (we need to practice your camera skills, Madz) and with a rather manic looking version of me. This is our favourite recipe for chocolate cake and it disappears in a flash!!!!

What you need…

For the sponges, use the ingredients shown for the 365 Chocolate Celebration Cake recipe

For the chocolate buttercream filling and frosting, use double those shown in the 365 Chocolate Celebration Cake recipe

Pre-made chocolate decorations

What to do…

Follow the 365 recipe but slice the two sponges in half horizontally, creating four sponge tiers and use the increased gorgeous buttercream to sandwich all four together and spread all over the sides and top.

Decorate with pre-made chocolate decorations of your choice.

Inspired by…

My first blogged recipe: 365 Chocolate Celebration Cake

How easy…

Really easy and relaxing to make

 

 

Mango and Passion Fruit ‘No-Churn’ Ice Cream with Rum

Wow-oh-wow! What a fabulous naughty ice cream for a sizzling summer’s day: cooling mango and oh so fresh passion fruit combined with a soft creaminess and then a lovely little kick of rum at the end. It tastes like a cocktail and immediately transports you to the beach. Incredibly easy – stock the freezer up now!

What you need…

4 passion fruit

300g mango, roughly chopped

300g double cream

½ a 397g can of condensed milk (use the other half to make a different flavour ice cream – I have blogged lots of recipes)

40ml dark rum

What to do…

Start by halving the passion fruit and scooping out the juice and flesh into a sieve over your blender. Use a spoon to push through as much of the juice as you can. Discard the remaining pips. Chuck in the mango and whizz to purée the whole lot together.

In a large bowl, use an electric handheld whisk to beat the cream into soft peaks. Pour in the condensed milk, fruit purée and rum and use a balloon whisk to gently fold everything together so the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Pour into a plastic container and whop into your freezer for 6 hours/overnight.

About 15 minutes before you want to dive into it, remove your delectable ice cream from the freezer to soften up. Serve in pretty bowls on a fabulous summer day or just dive right in with a spoon and refuse to share!

Inspired by…

Sometimes, I just wake up with these weird ideas and I had a glut of passion fruit in the fridge…

How easy…

Stupendously!

Double Chocolate Vanilla Ring Cake

Definitely a celebration cake this one (you can just celebrate the dawn of a new baking day). Rich and brownie-like in texture, albeit a little lighter, very moreish, and undoubtedly naughty with the sweet foil that is the oh-so-chocolatey frosting. If you love chocolate, you’ll adore this!

What you need…

1 x 20cm savarin/bundt cake mould, liberally buttered

150g unsalted butter, chunked

150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) chunked

125ml full fat milk

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

25g dark muscavado sugar

3 large, happy eggs

150g full fat Greek yogurt

200g plain flour

40g cocoa, sifted

1 rounded teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

150g golden caster sugar

for the frosting

200g milk chocolate (70% cocoa), chunked

40g unsalted butter, chunked

60g cocoa, sifted

120ml full fat milk

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

White chocolate shavings, to decorate

What to do…

First, to the cake: preheat your oven to 190˚c / 375˚f / gas 5.

Into a large, heatproof bowl, tip the butter, dark chocolate, milk, vanilla bean paste and muscavado sugar. Set over a pan of gentling simmering water and stir together to create a thin ‘cream’. Remove from the heat, add the eggs and yogurt and use a handheld electric whisk to beat together the ingredients.

In another large bowl, use a metal spoon to mix together the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and golden caster sugar. Pour over the melted chocolate mixture and use a sturdy balloon whisk to mix together all the ingredients gently.

Pour this gooey loveliness into your savarin mould and pop into your oven to bake for 30-40 minutes or until set and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool completely in its tin before inverting it onto a serving plate.

To the frosting: in a large bowl, melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of gentling simmering water until smooth. Add the cocoa, milk, maple syrup and vanilla bean paste and use a balloon whisk to beat together to create a thick, glossy, gloopy frosting.

Generously trickle the frosting over the top of the cake – now is not a time for precision or neatness – let it dribble down the sides and keep going with the trickling and dribbling, until it’s all gone and looks as naughty as it tastes. Sprinkle over white chocolate shavings (created by grating the edge of a good quality white chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler).

Pop into an airtight container ready to serve a few hours later when the frosting is still gooey and soft – absolutely and decadently delicious.

Tip…

I made the sponge cake the day before I needed it, leaving it overnight in its mould in an airtight cake tin, so all I needed to do on the day of indulgence was the frosting – the cake remained moist and fresh and to make it was very relaxing.

Inspired by…

The Mail on Sunday’s ‘You’ magazine

How easy…

Very easy, especially if you split the cake making from the decorating (see tip)

 

 

 

 

 

Cheat’s Mango and Passion Fruit Soufflé

Heavenly, light and fluffy, tangy and bursting with sunshine, this generally rather gorgeous soufflé also has the added benefit of being ridiculously quick and easy to make: literally less than 30 minutes from gathering the ingredients together to inserting the spoon into its light lusciousness!

Serves 4

What you need…

4 ramekin dishes, liberally buttered

20g caster sugar, plus extra for sugar-coating

100ml ready-made custard

75ml mango purée (I used fresh but you could used tinned)

3 ripe passion fruit

4 large, happy egg whites

Icing sugar, sifted, for dusting

What to do…

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

Shake roughly half a tablespoon of caster sugar into a ramekin dish and rotate the dish around so that all of the insides are coated evenly. Tap out the excess sugar into the next ramekin and repeat the process, adding more sugar if necessary – repeat until all four dishes are sugar-coated inside.

Tip the custard and mango into your blender. Scoop out the seeds and juice from the passion fruit and tip them in as well. Whizz until combined and then push through a sieve.

In a large, clean bowl, beat the egg whites with a handheld electric whisk until stiff. Gradually, add in the 20g caster sugar, whilst still whisking to create a smooth, glossy meringue.

Pour in the sieved passion fruit and mango custard and use a balloon whisk to gently and evenly fold the mixture into the meringue.

Divide the mixture between the ramekin dishes and use a palette knife to level off the surface of each soufflé. Run your finger around the edge of each tone to lift the mixture away from the side slightly.

Pop in your oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the soufflés have risen spectacularly. Dust with icing sugar and devour – light, heavenly and full of sunshine!

Inspired by…

Paul Hollywood, as published in The Mail’s ‘Weekend’.

How easy…

Really quick and easy. Will definitely be doing these again!

 

 

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.