Puddings and Cakes

Rather Yummy Carrot and Walnut Cake

Delicious, moist cake with the lovely, creamy filling and topping acting as the perfect foil for the dark, gently spiced sponge. Luscious (especially given that we doubled the amount of filling and topping!) Also, one of John’s favourites, hence this year it was his birthday cake! Happy days!

Serves 10 – 12

What you need…

2 x 20cm round sandwich tins, liberally buttered and lined with baking parchment

250ml sunflower oil

4 happy eggs

225g dark muscovado sugar

200g carrots, grated

300g self-raising flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1 teaspoon ground ginger

75g walnuts, chopped, plus 8 halves to decorate

for the filling and topping

100g butter, softened

50g icing sugar

500g full-fat cream cheese

A few drops of vanilla extract

What to do…

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

Tip the oil, eggs and sugar into a large mixing bowl and use a handheld electric whisk to beat until the mixture is well combined, lighter and noticeably thickened. Rinse off your whisks – you’ll need them again in a little while. Use a balloon whisk to gently fold in the carrot; then stir in the flour, baking powder, mixed spice, ginger and chopped walnuts until evenly blended.

Spoon the mixture evenly between the sandwich tins and pop the cakes into the oven to bake for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown, risen, and shrinking away from the sides of the tins. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, put the butter, icing sugar, cream cheese and vanilla extract into a bowl and use your electric whisk again to beat together until smooth and thoroughly blended.

Spread half the icing on one cake, sit the other cake on top and spread the remaining icing on top, making a swirly pattern for appearances’ sake. Decorate the top of the cake with the halved walnuts. That’s it! Dead easy and rather lovely for an afternoon tea or indeed any other time!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Very, very easy. A great one to quickly knock up!

 

 

Deliciously Decadent Tiramisu Cake

OK, so two shots at this and whilst Tiramisu as a trifle remains the favourite, this is an absolute gem of a cake to make: moist, decadent and thoroughly naughty! All this and it has the added joys of being easy to make and best made the day before you want to dive into it – it gathers its naughtiness overnight in the fridge. Give it a go: you won’t regret it!

for the sponge

2 x 34 x 24cm Swiss roll tins, liberally buttered and lined with parchment paper

1 x 20cm square cake tin (8cm deep), lined with foil and parchment paper (see tip)

6 happy eggs

250g golden caster sugar

250g plain flour

2 tablespoons lukewarm water

for the filling

300ml VERY strong coffee, cooled

120ml kahlua coffee liqueur

500g mascarpone cheese

300ml double cream

3 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted

85g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) finely grated

What to do…

First, make a template around which you will cut out three sponge layers. Simply pop your 20cm square cake tin on a piece of parchment paper and draw around it with a pencil. Cut out the square just inside the pencil markings and then just check that it fits snugly in the tin. Job done. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 190˚c / 375˚f / gas 5.

For the sponges, tip the eggs and sugar into a large mixing bowl and use a handheld electric whisk to beat for 10 minutes until the mixture is pale and thickened to leave a trail when the whisks are lifted. Tip in half the flour and use a balloon whisk to gently fold it in. Tip in the remaining flour and repeat. Finally, tip in the water and again, gently fold in.

Pour the mixture evenly between the 2 Swiss roll tins. Use a spatula to gently and evenly spread the mixture to the corners of the tin. Pop them both in the oven and bake for 10 – 12 minutes until golden, risen and just firm to the touch. Remove and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before gently inverting onto cooling racks. Remove parchment paper and allow to cool completely.

Whilst your sponges are baking, rinse your electric whisks and then you can get on with the filling. In a jug, mix together the kahlua and coffee. Set aside.

Tip the mascarpone cheese into a large mixing bowl and use your rinsed electric handheld whisk to beat it until smooth. Gradually beat in the cream and icing sugar until creamy and spreadable. Taste to check sweetness and add a little more icing sugar, if liked.

Once the sponges are cooked, place your parchment template on the right hand side of one of the sponges and use a sharp knife to cut around it, creating a 20cm square sponge. Repeat on the second sponge. Push the remaining sponge pieces together and lay the parchment square on top and cut a third 20cm square sponge – this one will be in the middle of the cake so no-one will be any the wiser that it is two bits of sponge rather than one!

Now, the joyous bit – assembly!

Place one ‘whole’ sponge in the bottom of your cake tin and then spoon over one third of the coffee/kahlua mixture, making sure that it is evenly distributed (the first one I did had some drier areas and some absolutely drenched!) Then dollop on one third of the mascarpone mixture. To prevent pulling off the top of the sponge whilst spreading, the technique that worked for me was to dollop a spoonful and gently spread a little way; repeat until sponge is covered. Then, sprinkle over one third of the grated chocolate.

Next, place the two ‘halves’ of sponges on top to create the middle layer, pushing them together to minimise the ‘join’. Spoon half of the remaining coffee/kahlua mixture, then half the mascarpone and half the chocolate. Finally, place the third sponge on the top and repeat the coffee, mascarpone, chocolate layering process, finishing all that is remaining of each.

Loosely cover your Tiramisu cake with foil and pop in the fridge overnight to gather its awesomeness!

To serve, use the overhanging foil handles to gently lift the cake out of the tin, placing it on a pretty serving plate; then gently remove the foil and parchment paper, using a fish slice to carefully tilt the cake whilst gently pulling the paper away.

That’s it! Serve with glee! It’s moist, decadent and thoroughly naughty in the best possible way!

Tip…

Line your cake tin with a double thickness piece of foil, that is the width of your square tin but long enough to ensure that there is at least 5cms hanging over two of the tin sides. Do the same with parchment. The foil makes it easy to lift the cake from the tin when you’re ready to serve and then you just peel off the parchment for a nice, smooth finish.

Inspired by…

The cake idea came from Mary Berry but I didn’t like the sponge mix or the use of brandy in instant coffee so, the sponge is a Swiss roll recipe from Delicious magazine and the choice of kahlua in the coffee comes from Nigella’s Tiramisu recipe: team effort then!

How easy…

Very easy and it’s relaxing to assemble providing you have the time to enjoy the process. I also love that you can and should make this 24 hours before you need it. Quite a lot of clearing up but again, it’s done in advance so – no worries.

Cherry and Almond Cloud Cake

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

Serves 12 -16 lucky people

What you need…

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

8 happy eggs, separated

320g golden caster sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Grated zest of 1 lemon

320g ground almonds

50g plain flour

Pinch of salt

600ml double cream

150g Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons icing sugar, plus extra for decorating

750g cherries, stoned and halved

What to do…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serving suggestion…

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

Inspired by…

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

How easy…

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

Strawberry and Limoncello-Infused Mascarpone Tartlets

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

Makes 8

What you need…

1 x muffin tin

50g butter, melted

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

30g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for decoration

A large pinch ground cinnamon

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon caster sugar

150g mascarpone

Grated zest of ½ lemon

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Limoncello liqueur

300g strawberries, hulled and sliced

What to do…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip…

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

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

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

 

 

 

 

Rhubarb Pavlovas with Rhubarb, Orange & Ginger Cream

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

Makes 6

What you need…

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

3 egg whites

A pinch of salt

250g caster sugar, plus a further 45g

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon malt vinegar

400g rhubarb

2 tablespoons of rhubarb, orange and ginger cordial

for the cream

3 tablespoons of rhubarb, orange and ginger cordial

400ml double cream

What to do…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip…

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

Inspired by…

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

How easy…

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

 

 

Yoghurt, Cardamom and Orange Panna Cotta

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

Serves 4

What you need…

1 leaf of gelatine

200ml milk

½ teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground

175ml natural yoghurt

2 teaspoons orange zest, finely grated

Raspberries or strawberries to garnish

What to do…

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

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

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

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Stupendously!!!

 

 

 

Orange and Almond Cake with Grand Marnier Mascarpone Cream

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

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

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

2 oranges

6 happy eggs

250g caster sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

250g ground almonds

Thyme sprigs, to garnish (optional)

for the Grand Marnier Orange Syrup

50ml orange juice (reserved from the oranges above)

50g granulated sugar

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

for the Grand Marnier Mascarpone Cream

2 happy egg whites

500g mascarpone

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

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

What to do…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inspired by…

The Daily Telegraph

How easy…

Easy, quick and unbelievably gorgeous in every aspect.

 

 

 

Spiced Rhubarb and Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding

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

Serves 8 (or 3 greedy people with some leftovers)

What you need…

1.5 litre ovenproof baking dish, liberally buttered

400g ready-sliced brioche loaf

80g butter, softened

500ml jersey or full fat milk

4 large, happy eggs

50g golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

2 tablespoons demerara sugar

for the spiced rhubarb

400g rhubarb, cut into 2cm chunks

½ teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

30g butter, cubed

50g light brown soft sugar

Juice and grated zest of 1 orange

What to do…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inspired by…

Delicious Magazine

How easy…

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

Chocolate Easter Cake

Yesterday’s total naughtiness! This most chocolatey of chocolate cakes is based on the same recipe used in the 365 Celebration Cake except I doubled the amount of chocolate butter cream to accommodate the fact that I sliced each sponge in half to create 4 layers of sponge and 3 layers of chocolate butter cream. And inside……a hollow was cut out of the cooked sponges to make room for a jumble of easter eggs and chocolate bunnies to tumble out when the first slices were cut…. The nest was the result of 3 Cadbury’s Flakes being chopped and arranged, stuck together with melted milk chocolate and a pile of mini eggs: Happy Easter!!!!

Scots Whisky Orange Cream

So quick, so light, so delicious and essentially it is just orange and whisky-infused cream…but it tastes like so much more, is intense and should only be served in small portions! Enjoy!

Serves 8

What you need…

100ml whisky

100g caster sugar

3 tablespoons fine-cut marmalade

Juice of ½ orange

Pared rind of 1 orange, cut into 2 halves

450ml double cream

16 – 24 fresh raspberries, to decorate

What to do…

Tip the whisky, sugar, marmalade, orange juice and half the pared orange rind into a saucepan. Stir over a moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and the marmalade melts. Bring to the boil, allow to bubble for 1 minute and then remove the syrup that you’ve created from the heat and set aside for at least 1 hour (I did this bit in the morning and then finished the desserts later in the afternoon).

Remove the orange rind from the syrup and discard. Pour the syrup into a mixing bowl. Then add the cream and whisk using an electric hand whisk until soft peaks form.

Spoon into 8 pretty glasses or cups (choose wide-necked ones if you don’t want to make this bit tricky). Cut the remaining orange rind into thin strips and then decorate each of your whisky creams with a scattering of orange rind and 2 – 3 raspberries – simply wonderful!!!

Tip…

Will keep in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Seriously? It couldn’t be easer!