Tag Archives: Dessert

Marsala-Baked Summer Peaches with Mascarpone Cream

Utterly delicious is my description. John’s is a little more vibrant: peaches with dogs’ bollox cream! Why? I have no idea but it’s stuck in this house, so when the British Summertime rolls around, there is an inevitable request for this dish – using John’s language – and we all know what he’s talking about! Anyway, the point is that this lovely pudding is delicious and easy: the light and fresh ‘cream’ contrasts perfectly with the rich Marsala sauce in which the peaches sit so prettily; and the whole things simply exudes ‘summer’. Like I said, utterly delicious! (It also keeps in the fridge very well, so can be indulged in over a number of days if there are only two of you enjoying it!)

Serves 6

What you need…

1 x shallow baking dish

6 firm ripe peaches

40g caster sugar

275ml Marsala wine

2 x cinnamon sticks

1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways

1 rounded teaspoon arrowroot

for the cream

4 rounded tablespoons mascarpone

4 rounded tablespoons fromage frais

A few drops of vanilla extract

1 dessertspoon caster sugar

What to do…

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

First of all, you need to relieve the peaches of their skins and there’s a really easy way to do it. Halve the peaches and remove their stones. Pop two halves into a heatproof bowl and pour over boiling water. Don your marigolds and after 30 seconds, remove one of the halves from the water and just slip off it’s skin – it will come straight off – dead easy. Do the same to the second half. Then, repeat the process with the remaining peach halves, two at a time, using freshly boiled water for each set of two halves (it won’t work so well if the water has cooled slightly). That done, the rest is a delight to do!

Place the peach halves into your baking dish, rounded side down. In a jug, mix together the Marsala and sugar and then pour over the peaches. Wodge in the cinnamon sticks and vanilla pod halves and pop in the oven for 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and, using a ladle, transfer the Marsala ‘sauce’ to a small saucepan, discarding the vanilla pod halves and cinnamon sticks. Mix the arrowroot with a little cold water and then add it to the saucepan, whisking it in over a gentle heat until the sauce has slightly thickened.

Pour the sauce back over the peaches and set aside to cool. Cover with cling film and pop in the fridge over night to allow the flavours to fully develop.

To make the ‘cream’, use an electric handheld whisk to beat together all of the ingredients and serve in a pretty bowl or jug.

Ideally, enjoy this lovely little dessert on a balmy summer’s evening with friends.

Inspired by…

Delia Smith

How easy…

Very easy: a simply delicious dish, all round. And, you prepare it the day before you want it which is always a bonus in my book!

 

 

Never Fail Raspberry Soufflé

Ooooooooh, you’re going to love these! So, so light with cloud-like fluffiness and just bursting with raspberry flavour, these soufflés are simply heavenly! When I saw the ‘never fail’ element of the recipe name, I was a little skeptical but they really are so very easy to make and quite spectacular on the enjoyment front!

Serves 4

What you need…

for the purée

200g fresh raspberries

30g sugar

3g cornflour

25ml water

for the soufflé

4 ramekins

A little butter

4 egg whites

100g caster sugar, plus extra for preparing the ramekins and dusting

What to do…

Blend the raspberries to a purée and then pass through a sieve to remove the pips.

Place the purée in a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat.

In the meantime, in another saucepan, tip in the sugar and half the water. Bring to the boil and cook until the sugar starts to caramelise, turning a light golden brown. Quickly remove from the heat and tip into purée, whisking it in. If the caramelised sugar starts to set (mine did) just pop the saucepan back onto a moderate heat and whisk the purée until the caramel melts again and is evenly incorporated.

Using a fork, mix the cornflour into the remaining water and then add to the purée, whisking it in.

Leave the purée to cool. You can make the purée the day before you need it, covering it with cling film and keeping it in the fridge if you like.

Just before you’re ready to indulge in these little pots of gorgeousness, preheat your oven to 180° / 350°f / gas 4. Liberally butter four ovenproof ramekins and then sprinkle some caster sugar all over the butter, tipping out the excess. Pop the ramekins into the freezer.

Whisk together the eggs whites and caster sugar until they are stiff and shiny.

Tip one third of the egg whites into your cold raspberry purée and whisk in, creating a smooth paste. Using a spatula, gently fold in the remaining egg whites so they are evenly incorporated.

Spoon the mixture into the ramekins up to the top. Bang them down on your work surface to release air bubbles. Using a palette knife, scrape the excess off the top of each ramekin and wipe a little butter around the rim of each pot (to prevent the soufflé from sticking). Dust with a little caster sugar.

Pop the ramekins onto a baking tray and slip them into the oven, baking for 8 minutes. Watch them rise: other than the eating them, this is the best bit!

Serve immediately – dip in your spoon and indulge in a lovely pink cloud of sheer heaven – the fresh raspberry flavours excite the taste buds whilst the soufflé gently evaporates over your tongue, all the while you’re dipping your spoon in for the next mouthful!

Inspired by…

Adam Handling

How easy…

The caramelising of the sugar can be a little tricky but if you keep your eye on it, shouldn’t be a problem. Other than that, it’s really easy and fast, once the purée has been made. I love the fact that you can do that bit the day before: the rest is dead easy.

 

Terrine of Summer Fruits

 

A lovely, light, really, really summery dessert that is packed with the season’s bounty, all of which can be bought locally. Stunning to look at and fabulously tasty, this dessert also makes you feel slightly virtuous – it is stacked with fruit after all. Just yummy! Going back for another slice now…

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

 1 x 900g loaf tin

425ml sparkling rosé wine

2 x 11g sachets gelatine granules

50g caster sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

685g mixed summer fruits, e.g. strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, redcurrants

What to do…

Prepare the fruit, washing it, hulling the strawberries and maybe cutting them in half/quarters if they are especially large.

In a small saucepan, warm half the rosé over a moderate heat until it begins to simmer. Using a balloon whisk, mix in the gelatine and sugar. Once both are dissolved, mix in the remaining rosé and lime juice. Pour into a jug and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, arrange the fruit in the loaf tin, making sure that the ‘prettiest’ is on the bottom layer – this will be on the top when the terrine is turned out.

Pour half the rosé mixture over the fruit, cover with cling film and then fit something heavy and flat over the top (another loaf tin would be ideal) onto which rest a couple of 400ml cans of tomatoes or something similar to weigh down the fruit. Pop in the fridge and leave for 1 hour.

Warm up the remaining rosé mixture so that it’s runny again (10 – 20 seconds ins a microwave or back on the hob), remove the cling film and pour the rosé liquid over the terrine, re-cover with cling film and pop back in the fridge over night. Return weighty cans and spare loaf tin to their homes.

When you are ready to serve, dip the loaf tin into hot water for a minute or so to loosen the jelly from the edges. Invert the terrine out onto a pretty serving place. If it doesn’t come out immediately, either run a chef’s blow torch around the outside of tin whilst it is inverted on the plate or cover with a very hot damp towel. Be patient – it will come out. I’ve also taken to gently knocking the sides with a steak hammer for final persuasion. It’s very gratifying when it plops out onto the plate!

Cut into slices and serve with double cream, crème fraiche or Greek yogurt – it’s absolutely gorgeous and just exudes all that is fabulous about a good British summertime!

Terrine of Summer Fruits close up wInspired by…

Delia Smith

How easy…

Really easy

 

Spice-Roasted Fruits with Honey and Orange Sauce

 

A lovely, lovely pud that is unbelievably easy, can be mostly prepared ahead and is very unusual. Given the combination of orange, cinnamon and star anise, there is more than a little nod towards Christmas in the aromas emanating from the oven as these lovely summer fruits bask in their sauce but there’s nothing wrong with that! Once cooked, the soft, warm fruit has a lovely sweet depth of flavour and the gentle spices give this dish a very welcome extra dimension. Something different for summer – give it a go!

Serves 6

What you need…

4 fresh bay leaves, torn

2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod

1 star anise

½ teaspoon black pepper

Zest and juice of 3 oranges

4 tablespoons clear honey

3 tablespoons light soft dark brown sugar

3 peaches, 3 nectarines, 6 plums all ripe, cut in half and stones removed

25g unsalted butter

Crème Fraîche, to serve

What to do…

The day before, take a large screw-top jar and tip in the bay leaves, cinnamon, vanilla pod seeds, star anise, pepper, orange zest and juice, honey and sugar. Screw on the lid, shake like mad and pop in the fridge.

Half an hour before serving, preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

Tip the fruit into a roomy baking dish. Shake your sauce like mad again and then pour over the fruit. Dot over the butter and pop into the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Baste the fruits with a large spoon and bake again for a further 10 minutes. One more basting and then a further 5 minutes cooking. That’s it! Serve these rich and wonderful warm summer fruits with a gorgeous dollop of crème fraîche – very yummy indeed!

Spice-Roasted Fruits close w

Inspired by…

My friend, Heather told me she’d had it to conclude a lunch with a friend of hers called Lady Jas (!) It sounded so good that I googled it and printed it off the BBC Good Food website.

How easy…

You just need a jam jar, some fruit and a bit of time in the oven! My kinda pud!

Frozen Raspberry and Orange Parfait in a Dark Chocolate Case

This is the most fantastic dessert for a boiling hot summer day – I know we don’t get many but you can make this and then whack it in the freezer until the glorious British weather delivers a freakily hot day! It’s refreshing, light but sweet; the ripeness of the raspberries married to fresh, sweet orange and then all encased in dark chocolate is just a wonderful combination.

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

1 x 20cm deep spring-form cake tin, lightly oiled

175g dark chocolate, broken into chunks

1 tablespoon water

15g unsalted butter

500g fresh raspberries

2 tablespoons clear, runny honey

150ml orange juice, freshly squeezed (makes all the difference)

175g caster sugar

2 egg whites

Pinch of salt

300ml whipping cream

Mint leaves and 3 or four extra raspberries, to garnish

What to do…

To make the chocolate case, tip your chocolate chunks and water into a heatproof bowl and put into a steamer over a pan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate and then stir in the butter. Spoon the chocolate into the base of the tin and spread it evenly up the sides of the tin – you can go all the way to the top and have thin coating of chocolate or just half way, as I did, to have a thicker chocolate case. Pop the case in the fridge.

To make the frozen parfait, use your food processor break down the raspberries into a pulp and then press them through a sieve into a jug to create a pip-free purée. Stir in the honey and set aside.

In a large bowl, use a handheld electric whisk to beat the egg whites and salt together to form soft peaks. Set aside. Rinse off your whisk and then in a smaller, separate bowl whisk the cream until it also forms soft peaks – no more. Set aside. Rinse off your whisk again.

Clean out the sieve and use it to strain the orange juice into a saucepan. Add the sugar and place over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to high and boil fiercely, without stirring, for 3 minutes. Quickly tip the hot orange syrup into the egg whites, whisking the whole time and keep going until the mixture is thick and resembles an uncooked meringue.

Using a balloon whisk, lightly fold in the raspberry purée and when fully incorporated, gently do the same with cream.

Tip the lot into your chocolate case and whop into the freezer for at least 5 hours but preferably overnight.

To remove from the tin, either rub the sides with a hot cloth or – much more fun – go around the outside of the tin with a kitchen blow torch. I then take a steak mallet and gently bang the sides just to make sure that the case has loosened away from the tin. Open your tin mechanism and gently ease the sides away from the parfait. If you’re feeling brave, carefully insert a fish slice all around the bottom of the parfait to separate the chocolate base from the tin-base and then ease it onto a pretty serving plate. If you’re not feeling so brave, just lift the parfait, cake tin-base and all, onto the serving plate. Decorate with raspberries and mint, cut into slices and serve immediately – absolutely delightful: an English summer right there on a plate and a perfect antidote to a hot, sticky summer’s day (or evening) – yummy!

Tips…

The original recipe used white chocolate rather than dark but I elected to use the latter, believing that it would be a better foil for the raspberries. I’m also not that keen on white chocolate. However, if it is your thing, swap out the dark for the white!

If there isn’t a crowd of you when you first serve this, you can quickly cut the parfait into slices and then re-freeze those not required for another day.

Frozen Rasp Parfait slice w

Serving suggestion…

Whizz and then sieve raspberries to create a purée, then stir in some Chambord black raspberry liqueur to suit your taste. Just a little on the side of your frozen parfait is quite delicious!

Inspired by…

Josceline Dimbleby

How easy…

It’s not hard, but takes quite a bit of time and creates a fair old mess. That said, the dishwasher was quickly loaded and doing its business and l like the fact that this can be made waaaay in advance.

 

 

Absolutely Fabulous Pavlova

One of my favourite summer desserts, Pavlova is just divine: sweet, ripe fruit on top of whipped double cream, all gracing wonderful meringue: crisp on the outside and deliciously light, soft and slightly chewy on the inside. The combination is just heavenly and the joy of this recipe is that it is ridiculously easy to make – I’d never made meringue before finding this recipe but it has always been a success – in every way – and a firm favourite on our summer menus.

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

3 egg whites

Pinch of salt

250g caster sugar, plus 3 – 4 teaspoons for the cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon malt vinegar

300ml double cream (or more if you want to pile it high!)

At least 1 x 300g punnet of ripe summer strawberries or a combination of your favourite summer fruit – I often combine strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. The amount of fruit is all about personal preference

What to do…

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

Line a baking tray with Bake O Glide/parchment paper and draw a 23cm circle on it (as guidance for later).

Using an handheld electric whisk, beat the egg whites and salt together until very stiff. Then, gradually whisk in the 250g caster sugar until it forms stiff peaks – this takes 3 – 4 minutes. Fold in the vanilla extract and vinegar.

Plop the meringue mixture onto your baking tray, gently spreading it to fit the drawn circle. Pop it into the oven and leave for 1 hour until firm. Then – and this is key – switch the oven off but leave your meringue in for a further 30 minutes with the door closed.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Discard the lining paper and put your meringue onto a pretty serving plate.

Whisk the cream and 3 – 4 teaspoons of sugar together (the amount of sugar depends on your personal taste) until stiff and then pile on top of the meringue. Arrange the fruit on top, stand back, admire your handy work and then serve – just divine – this is one of those desserts that is so light and delicious, I just keep coming back for one more spoonful….time and time again. Enjoy!

Pavlova close up w

Tips…

Don’t waste the egg yolks – they can be frozen for another use.

If I’m feeding a crowd, I’ll double up on these ingredients and made a great big Pavlova and then use the remaining 6 egg yolks to make a large tiramisu – a thoroughly naughty conclusion to any meal!

Inspired by…

Lisa Faulkner

How easy…

Very, very easy and simply delicious!

Affogato al Caffe e Disaronno

Wow! This is just Naughty with a massively capital ‘N’. Ice cream, Disaronno, espresso and chocolate: it tastes like a combination of Italy’s boozy trifle, Tiramisu and my favourite cocktail, Espresso Martini. Equally, we started off eating it with a sundae spoon and ended up drinking it! The biggest problem is that it makes you greedy to get the lot down as quickly as possible, so fantastically naughty, it is! Made in seconds, this could become a really wicked little habit! What can I say: you need to try it!

Serves 1 (but that would be sad: double up and share with your favourite person)

What you need…

1 scoop of vanilla or honeycomb ice cream (previously blogged and works brilliantly in this).

1 tablespoon Disaronno

1 shot freshly made espresso coffee

1 teaspoon good quality dark chocolate, finely grated

What to do…

Wodge ice cream into the bottom of a pretty glass or small cup.

Pour over the Disaronno, then the espresso and then, sprinkle over the chocolate.

Immediately dive in with your spoon, marvel at the wicked gorgeousness of it, plunge in the spoon a couple more times before discarding it to drink the rest of your affogato! There’s probably a more elegant way of enjoying this but….this level of naughtiness deserves some gusto!

Tips…

If you are not quite as partial to Disaronno as I am, you could always swap it for Baileys.

There’s nothing to stop you mucking about with the quantities of any of the ingredients in this pudding-cum-cocktail.

Inspired by…

Gino D’Acampo

How easy…

Dangerously so!

Tiramisu

Delicious, decadent, rich and boozy, this Italian coffee and chocolate-based ‘trifle’ is Connagh’s absolute favourite dessert. It is totally indulgent and you know without any doubt that you are being spectacularly naughty when that first spoonful goes down. It is not unusual in this house for those indulging to enjoy second and third portions. Utterly divine – life would be incomplete without this dessert taking centre stage on our table on a regular basis – loosen your waistband and give it a go!

Serves Connagh on his own or 12 generous portions

What you need…

1 x pretty trifle bowl

6 egg yolks

150g caster sugar

1000g mascarpone cheese

170ml Kahlua or coffee liqueur

400 ml cold, strong coffee

28 (up to) boudoir biscuits (sponge fingers)

50g plain chocolate, finely grated

What to do…

Place the egg yolks in a bowl with the caster sugar and beat together until pale and thickened, using an electric handheld whisk. Add the mascarpone and whisk slowly until it is evenly incorporated. Pour in 1 tablespoon of the coffee liqueur and whisk gently to combine.

Mix the coffee with the remaining coffee liqueur in a shallow dish. Dip each of the sponge fingers into the coffee and liqueur liquid and arrange in your serving bowl to cover the bottom. Gently plop over one third of the mascarpone mixture to cover the sponge fingers and then sprinkle on a layer of grated chocolate. Repeat these layers two further times, ending up with the sprinkled chocolate on the top. I use less chocolate on the top, preferring a lighter coverage for a prettier finish.

Cover your tiramisu with cling film and pop in the fridge for at least 2 hours but 24 hours if possible to let the flavours develop into their optimum lusciousness.

To serve, take your tiramisu out of the fridge about an hour before you want to indulge – fabulous!

Tiramisu 2 w

Tips…

The number of boudoir biscuits isn’t set in stone and depends on the size and shape of your trifle bowl.

If you have a wide, shallow bowl, it may only be possible to create 2 layers rather than the 3 I’ve done here – it doesn’t make any difference – it will still be fab.

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

Simple and also, relaxing to assemble.

Key Lime Pie with Lime Jelly

A fabulous dessert that is completely different from anything else I have made. There have been lots of zingy lemon-infused dishes but limes take zing to a whole new level. In this pud, the sweet, ginger-infused pastry is light and contrasts deliciously with the sharp, tart but light lime filling and the tangy lime jelly – it’s beautifully refreshing. Personally, I preferred mine straight up but John opted for a little double cream to gently soften the lovely sharpness of this wonderful, summery dessert. Put it on your list for when the sun eventually comes out!

Serves 8

What you need…

1 x 23cm spring form fluted tart tin, lightly buttered and lined on the bottom with Bake O Glide or parchment paper

for the pastry

250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

50g icing sugar

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon ground ginger

135g butter, cold and cubed

1 egg, beaten

2-3 tablespoons ice-cold water

for the filling

4 egg yolks

1 x 397g tin condensed milk

Juice of 4 limes

Grated zest of 2 limes

for the jelly

3 sheets gelatine

Juice of 5 limes

60ml water

Grated zest of 1 lime

40g caster sugar

1 drop green food colouring

What to do…

Tip the flour, icing sugar, salt and butter into your food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the ginger and pulse again until evenly incorporated. Add the beaten egg and 2 tablespoons cold water and pulse again until the pastry comes together. Add a tiny bit more water if needed. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and quickly knead into a ball – handle the pastry as little as possible. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll the pastry out to about 3mm thick and line the tart tin with it, making sure that the pastry stands just a little proud of the rim. Trim the edges, prick the base and pop back in the fridge for 30 minutes (to prevent shrinkage during cooking).

Preheat oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6 and put in a baking sheet to heat up.

Remove the pastry case from the fridge, line with parchment paper and fill up with baking beans. Pop onto the hot baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and baking beans and cook for a further 5 minutes to dry out the pastry. Remove and set aside.

Reduce the oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

Using a handheld electric whisk, beat the egg yolks in a large bowl for 3 minutes. Pour in the condensed milk and whisk for a further 2 minutes. Add the lime juice and zest and whisk to incorporate evenly. Tip into the pastry case, smoothing over the top for an even spread. Pop back onto the hot baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until just set. Remove and allow to cool completely. Pop in the fridge to chill.

And then to the super tangy lime jelly! Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, put the lime juice, water and caster sugar into a small saucepan and gently heat to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add to the pan, stirring until dissolved. Pour into a jug and stir in the lime zest and food colouring. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.

Pour jelly over the top of your key lime pie – there will be a bit more than you need so stop pouring before it overflows the pastry! Pop back into the fridge for at least 60 minutes to set.

When you’re ready to indulge, ease your lovely key lime pie out of its tin and using a sharp knife, cut into slices. Enjoy this lovely tangy, fresh dessert that with a little double cream if liked. Just yummy and VERY moreish!

Inspired by…

Camilla Stephens, Higgidy

How easy…

This is not a difficult dessert at all and very rewarding. However, you do have to have other things to do to fill in the time whilst this dessert makes a few trips to the fridge – wasn’t a problem for me – I just found other little jobs to do and was then also cooking the lunch, so it all worked perfectly.

Chocolate, Orange and Cardamom Diva Cake

 

I have been wanting to make this cake for a while but I knew that I would involve committing several hours to the cause. Music on, all equipment assembled and at the ready: I set to. It is an absolute stunner – definitely an OMG wonder of a celebratory cake! A sheer pleasure of many layers, your tastebuds are delighted first by rich chocolate, then by the light, zesty orange butter cream, then by the gentle warmth of cardamom and the intense, distinctive taste of pistachios, returning finally to the rich chocolate. John Whaite may call it ‘Opera Cake’, but to me it’s a glorious diva – requiring a huge amount of attention but worthy of it given the integral gift of enjoyment it exudes! If you have the time and want a real show-stopper of a cake, this is it! Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients or instructions: it’s just like having five mini recipes for one ultimate creation – worth every second!

Makes 18 good-sized slices

What you need…

2 x 20 x 30cm Swiss roll tins, buttered and lined with parchment paper

5 egg whites

25g sugar

4 eggs

100g pistachios, ground (in your food processor)

50g ground almonds

150g icing sugar

45g flour

40g unsalted butter, melted

for the ganache

100ml milk

8 cardamom pods, bruised

200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

20g unsalted butter, room temperature

for the syrup

60g caster sugar

60ml water

4 cardamom pods, bruised

Juice from 1 large orange

for the orange buttercream

75ml unsalted butter, room temperature

Zest from 1 large orange

150g icing sugar

1 teaspoon fresh orange juice

to decorate with chocolate mirror glaze

1 gelatine leaf

120g golden caster sugar

60ml water

1 tablespoon golden syrup

75g cocoa powder, sifted

60ml double cream

Gold leaf (optional but opulent!)

What to do…

Sponges

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

Into your processor tip in the eggs, pistachios, almonds, icing sugar and flour. Whizz until well combined.

Using a handheld electric whisk, beat together the egg whites in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks are formed. Tip in one third of the sugar and whisk in thoroughly before repeating with a second third and then the remaining sugar.

Onto the egg whites, gently pour the pistachio mixture and the melted butter. Using a balloon whisk, gently fold together so that all three elements are evenly incorporated.

Pour into your two Swiss roll tins, smooth surfaces and pop in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until light golden brown and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool completely in their tins whilst you make the ganache, butter cream, syrup and glaze.

Ganache

For the indulgent ganache, pour the milk into a saucepan with the 8 cardamom pods, set over a high heat until the milk begins to steam and then remove from the heat, allowing the cardamoms to infuse for 10 minutes.

Pop your chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl.

Remove the cardamom pods and then heat the milk until bubbles start to form around the sides. Pour the milk over the chocolate and after 30 seconds, use your balloon whisk to beat like crazy until the chocolate is melted. Add in the butter and whisk until all is incorporated and is lovely and glossy. Set aside.

Syrup

Place the sugar, water and 4 cardamom pods into a saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Boil for 3 minutes. Allow to cool a little. Add the orange juice and set aside.

Buttercream

In your food processor, tip in the butter and orange zest. Whizz until evenly mixed. Add the icing sugar and orange juice. Whizz until pale and light. Set aside.

Glaze

Soak the gelatine leaf in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the sugar, water and golden syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer vigorously for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and, using a balloon whisk, beat in first the cocoa powder and then the cream. Return to a moderate heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine and add to the chocolate mixture. Stir until dissolved. Sieve into a jug and set aside.

Assembly Job

Here we go – time to assemble – this bit is really relaxing and I loved seeing it all coming together.

Carefully remove your sponges from the parchment paper and from each one, cut a 20cm square, also giving you a 20cm x 10cm rectangle.

Take a 20 x 20cm sponge and put it on the board or plate that you intend to serve this glorious diva of a cake on. Using a pastry brush, apply the syrup to the sponge, using about one third. Then, spread two-thirds of the ganache evenly over the top. Pop the sponge in the freezer for 5 minutes. Clear up a bit.

Place the two rectangular sponges on the ganache to create the second 20 x 20cm square sponge layer. Apply half the remaining syrup all over the top and then spread over all of the buttercream. Pop in the freezer for 5 minutes. Clear up a bit more.

Take the remaining square sponge and evenly apply the remaining syrup all over. Flip it (so that the syrup is on the underside) and gently place it on top of the buttercream. Spread the remaining ganache over the top and then pop the cake back into the freezer for 20 minutes. Clear up a lot!

The glaze needs to be runny so pop it in the microwave for 30-second bursts until it is glossy and runny again. Enjoy gently pouring it evenly over the chilled cake, making sure the whole surface is covered. Put back in the freezer for 30 minutes until set.

To serve, first a little tidy up of the diva, so it looks its absolute best! Fill a tall jug with boiling water from the kettle and arm yourself with your sharpest knife. Dip the knife in the water, dry and then trim one side of the cake by just 5mm to create a sharp edge with beautifully defined layers. Repeat the dip, dry and trim process for the remaining three sides and then again to divide the cake up into either smaller cakes (I made 3 smaller rectangular cakes, each serving 6 slices) or slice up the whole lot. Decorate with gold leaf if you’re feeling opulent or simply indulge in the loveliness that is this fabulous cake!

It absolutely WAS worth the effort! Enjoy!!!!

Tips…

Freeze the left over egg yolks from the biscuit sponge – you only need one more to make a fabulous and large Tiramisu (recipe to follow).

Rinse and dry food processor bowl, balloon whisks and saucepans as you complete the first stages to reduce the final washing up pile!

Inspired by…

2012 Great British Bake Off winner, John Whaite

How easy…

It’s not a difficult recipe but it does take hours and my kitchen looked like a bombsite during the process. Called into play were the food processor, mini chopper, electric hand whisk, juicer and mixing bowls as well as three balloon whisks, jugs and countless spatulas, knives and spoons. I am a messy cook anyway but wow! this was a whole new level of kitchen mayhem, even for me. Saying that, during the cake assembly, when it is popped into the freezer for a few sessions, the dishes, surfaces and equipment gradually got washed, wiped down and returned to normal so when this glorious cake was finished, it was centre stage in a spotless kitchen with only the whirring of the dishwasher as a gentle reminder of the havoc that had reigned!