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!

Thai Inspired Cod and Prawns in Coconut Milk

So simple, so wonderfully and aromatically flavoursome and so very fast with practically no prep either. What’s not to like for a fabulous mid-week supper?!!!

 Serves 4

 What you need…

 A splash of rapeseed oil

1 onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon ginger, chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced

1 stick lemon grass, bruised (bashed!), trimmed and finely sliced

4 kaffir lime leaves

½ teaspoon turmeric

400g can coconut milk

4 fillets of cod, chunked (pollack and hake work equally well)

225g raw, peeled prawns

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Sea salt and black pepper

A good handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped (to garnish)

What to do…

Heat the oil and sauté the onion for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic, ginger, chilli, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and turmeric. Stir-fry for a further 2 minutes.

Tip in the coconut milk and gently add the fish fillets, simmering for 7-8 minutes, until the cod is just cooked through.

To finish, tip in the prawns, stir through the fish sauce, lemon juice and then season with salt and pepper. As soon as the prawns turn pink, remove the lime leaves and then gaily and abundantly garnish your dish with fresh coriander before serving with steamed or boiled rice – absolutely delightful!

Inspired by…

Jane Plant

How easy…

So easy, so fast and so very lovely.

 

 

Nasi Goreng

An Indonesian dish that translated, literally and rather humbly merely means ‘fried rice’. But it’s soooo much more than that! Wonderfully aromatic with a lovely eclectic fusion of different textures and gently spicy flavours that wake up your taste buds and leave them zinging! A great brunch if you want to kick start your weekend or an equally lovely supper offering. I suspect that it also might be quite healthy – just a little bonus!

Serves 4

What you need…

A splash of rapeseed oil

6 shallots, finely sliced

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon shrimp paste

2 teaspoons tamarind paste

½ – 1 teaspoon crushed dried chillies (depending on how much heat you like)

1 thumb of root ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed, bashed and finely sliced

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks

150g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and finely sliced

2 tablespoons kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) or 2 tablespoons soy sauce plus 2 teaspoons soft brown sugar

900g basmati rice, cooked

6 spring onions, finely sliced

A large handful of coriander, roughly chopped

4 large, happy eggs

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cucumber, sliced into batons

What to do….

Heat the oil over a moderate heat in a large saucepan, tip in the shallots and sauté for 15 minutes, stirring every now and then, until golden. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the pan and tip onto kitchen paper to cool and crisp up. Set aside.

Return the pan to the heat and add the garlic, shrimp paste, tamarind paste, crushed chillies, ginger and lemon grass and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the carrots and mushrooms and sauté for a further couple of minutes to soften.

Add the kecap manis/soy and sugar and stir in the rice until heated through. Chuck in the spring onions and coriander and stir through.

In a large frying pan over a hot heat, warm another splash of rapeseed oil and fry the eggs until just set (or in my case, get favourite son, Connagh, to fry the eggs whilst I finish off the main dish).

Season with salt and pepper and stir in the cucumber batons.

Serve this gorgeous rice dish in warmed bowls, topping the Nasi Goreng firstly with the crispy shallots and then a freshly fried egg – delicious!

How easy…

It’s not difficult at all but there’s a lot of prep here so my advice is to chop and slice everything in advance, set aside and then go and have a glass of wine – the actual cooking takes no time at all.

Inspired by…

Victoria Glass

 

 

 

Hazelnut and Parmesan-Crusted Chicken

Along the same lines as Chicken Kiev and Chicken Cordon Bleu, this absolutely delicious way of serving chicken is made fabulous by the ridiculous quantity of butter used to cook it! Ignoring any negative aspects of the butter mountain, it guarantees that this dish is truly scrumptious – perfect for perking up a mid-week supper.

Serves 4

What you need…

4 boneless chicken breasts, skinned

40g hazelnuts

25g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

2 lemons, zested, then quartered

2 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

40g panko breadcrumbs

75g plain flour

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 eggs, beaten

250g unsalted butter!!!!!

What to do…

Put one chicken breast between two pieces of greaseproof paper and bash with a rolling pin until about 1cm thick. Repeat with the other three chicken breasts.

Pop the hazelnuts, Parmesan, lemon zest and thyme in your food processor and whizz to fine crumbs. Tip in the breadcrumbs and pulse to combine. Tip the mixture into a wide, shallow bowl.

Tip the flour into a wide, shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Tip the beaten egg into a third wide, shallow bowl.

Heat the butter in a large frying pan over a high heat.

Dip each piece of chicken first in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumb mixture and then put all four breasts into the hot butter and sauté until golden – about 5 minutes on each side – basting with the butter throughout.

Drain on kitchen paper and then serve, drizzling over the hot butter from the pan and squeezing over a little lemon juice – truly scrumptious!

Inspired by…

With that amount of butter it has to be James Martin.

How easy…

Dead easy and yummingly good!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

A Little Aside: Creamed Leeks with Chestnut and Thyme Crumble

Rich and comforting, this is a lovely alternative to the traditional vegetables that we usually have with our Sunday roast. I think you get to this time of year and, as much as the Sunday roast is a fabulous treat, a little variety is called for when we’ve been enjoying the meal most weekends since October! Also, joy of joys, most of the prep on this can be done in advance – always good news when a Sunday Roast is involved!

Serves 6 as a side dish

What you need…

for the crumble topping

100g butter, softened

150g plain flour

50g ground almonds

30g suet

1 happy egg yolk

50g cooked chestnuts, chopped (vacuum-packed or frozen work well)

5 tablespoons thyme, leaves picked

Sea salt and black pepper

for the leeks

1kg leeks, trimmed and chunked

100g butter

Sea salt and black pepper

200ml double cream

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

What to do…

First, to the crumble: tip the butter and flour into your food processor and whizz until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs. Remove the mixing blade and stir through the ground almonds and suet until evenly incorporated. Likewise, the egg yolk and finally add the chestnuts, thyme, salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Turning to the leeks: melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and gently cook the leeks with a little salt and pepper until softened. Pour in the cream and reduce until thickened. Tip into an ovenproof dish and allow to cool.

20 minutes before you’re due to serve your lunch, top leeks with the crumble and scatter over the nutmeg. Bake in a preheated oven at 160˚c / 325˚f / gas 3 for 15 – 20 minutes until crunchy and golden brown – absolutely delicious!

Inspired by…

Lee Bennett, crafthouse-restaurant.com and published by theguardian.com

How easy…

Very and I love that it can be prepared largely in advance.

 

Mary’s Kedgeree

So, I’ve made kedgeree before, albeit with hake because I couldn’t get hold of haddock (!) and thoroughly enjoyed it. But, when I saw ma’am making it as part of her current ‘Classic’ TV series, my interest was sufficiently piqued to give her version a go and….it is really, really good: rich and flavoursome – it tastes like an absolute treat and I’ll definitely be doing it again. Supposedly a recipe for an indulgent, leisurely breakfast, it works equally well as a lovely family supper (speaking from experience).

Serves 4

What you need…

A couple of splashes of rapeseed oil

3 onions: 2 thinly sliced and 1 finely chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

500g smoked haddock fillets (I used dyed but Mary specifies undyed)

100g smoked salmon

250g basmati rice

3 cardamom pods, split

3cm-long cinnamon stick

450ml cold water

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 large, happy eggs

30g butter

100ml single cream

2 tablespoons coriander, finely chopped

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Juice of ½ lemon

What to do…

Heat your first splash of oil in a medium-sized frying pan over a moderate heat and sauté the two sliced onions gently, for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are crisp and deep golden brown.

Season with salt and pepper, tip out on kitchen paper, and set aside in a warm place.

Put the haddock, skin-side down, in a large, deep-sided frying pan and pour over enough water to just cover. Simmer, covered, over a low heat for 5-8 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the heat. Lay the smoked salmon in the liquid, cover, and let stand for 2 minutes. Drain the fish, discard the skins and flake into large chunks. Set aside.

Wipe out your large frying pan with kitchen paper and then add your second splash of oil, warming over a moderate heat. Add the chopped onion, cardamom pods, and cinnamon and sauté about 5 minutes, or until the onion is golden-brown. Tip in the rice and stir through. Pour in the cold water and stir in the turmeric. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, stir, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Take the rice off the heat and let it stand, covered, for 5 minutes before fluffing up the grains with a fork.

Meanwhile, boil your eggs. Pop them in a saucepan of boiling water and simmer for 6 minutes, a little longer if you like the yolks cooked more. Remove from the heat, drain then pour cold water over the eggs. When they are cool enough to handle, peel and quarter.

Remove the cinnamon stick from the rice and carefully stir in the butter, cream, coriander, fish, and eggs. Season with salt and cayenne pepper and squeeze in the lemon juice. Heat thoughly over a low heat, stirring gently once or twice, making sure you don’t break up the fish.

Serve your stupendously yummy kedgeree topped with the warm crispy onion: enjoy!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

Very easy and satisfying to make