Monday, 30 April 2012


What would a British afternoon tea be without a scone? Rich yet fluffy, they are at their best when smeared with homemade jam and clotted cream. There are countless recipes out there but I'm very happy with this one. Soft and buttery, these have a biscuitty crumb that I think works really well. You should get six or seven scones out of this recipe and they are best eaten the day you bake them. Actually the sooner you can eat them after baking the better!

Prep time: 30 Mins
Baking time: 12-13 Mins
225g Self Raising Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
A pinch of Salt
75g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
50g Caster Sugar
Around 75ml Milk
1egg (Beaten)

In a large bowl sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Rub through the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add in the sugar, then drizzle in the milk, working the mixture together until it forms a smooth soft dough. You may not need all of the milk and I start mixing with a wooden spoon, taking over with my hands as the dough begins to form. Once you have a smooth dough set to one side for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 and grease a large flat baking tray. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough, until it's about 1.5cm thick. With a 7cm diameter (ish!) pastry cutter press out your scones, making sure you don't twist the cutter (Which should help give the scones a more even finish). You'll probably find you have to re-roll the dough once or twice to use it all up. Place the scones on the tray evenly spaced apart, then brush the tops with the beaten egg. If any of the egg runs off of the side of the scones to the base, just carefully wipe it away with some kitchen paper. Otherwise you might find the cooked egg glues your scones to the tray! Bake in the centre of the oven for 12-13 minutes, until the scones have risen and the tops have turned a nice golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave on the tray for 20 minutes, then remove and either place on a wire rack or better still, scoff them down!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Torta de Naranja

Here's my take on this classic Spanish orange cake. I've really cranked the flavour notes up a notch by using both almond and orange extract and I have to say the result is an unbelievably good cake. It's sweet and syrupy, with a soft texture that melts in the mouth and a fragrance that lingers on the palate long after your final mouthful. I've left the syrup quite tart, as I think it adds a mild spikiness that compliments the toothsome sponge. You'll also notice that as well as being very easy to make, it's both dairy and flour free. So if you have an allergy or intolerance, have at it!

Prep Time: 15 Mins
Baking Time: 45 Mins
4 Medium Eggs (Separated)
200g Caster Sugar
1tsp Almond Extract
1tsp Orange Extract
2 Oranges
1tsp Baking Powder
200g Ground Almonds
25g Caster Sugar (For syrup)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease/line the base of a 20cm loose bottomed tin. In a bowl, mix together the egg yolks with 190g of the sugar until light and creamy, then stir through both of the extracts, along with the zest of the oranges and the baking powder. In a separate (larger) bowl, whisk the egg whites with the final 10g of sugar until you are left with stiff peaks. Despite everyone recommending it, I wouldn't use that test where you hold the bowl over your head. That's just asking for trouble! Fold through the egg yolk mix, a spoonful at a time until combined. Do the same with the ground almonds, until you are left with a light and voluminous batter. Carefully pour into your tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes, until a skewer can be cleanly removed from the centre of the cake.

Take the cake out of the oven and leave in the tin whilst you get on with the syrup. Squeeze the juice of the oranges into a measuring jug and top up with water, until you are left with 100ml (You may not need to do this). Pour into a saucepan with the 25g of sugar and turn up the heat full on underneath. Let it boil and bubble away, stirring occasionally until it just starts to go syrupy. This should take about 5-7 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to one side. Remove the cake from the tin (It should have started to come away from the sides) and place on a wire rack. Pierce the top with a toothpick or skewer, then brush the hot syrup evenly on top. It should take all of the syrup. Leave to cool completely, then munch away!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Apple and Chocolate Crumble Cake

This cake is a combination of a traditional crumble and an apple cake. It may not be the most delicate, but it is packed with rich flavour and a range of textures. It's also a great one to serve warm with custard or cream, which makes it perfect for when friends or family visit. I've put some chopped up chocolate in my crumble mix for a little surprise, but you can leave it out if want. I've also used a bit of still cider to lift the apple flavour, although you can play around if you have other ideas. Apple brandy, or even just a nice apple juice would work equally well.

Prep Time: 20 Mins
Baking Time: 60 Mins

75g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
150g Plain Flour
100g Light Muscovado Sugar
100g Dark Chocolate (Finely Chopped)

200g Light Muscovado Sugar
200g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
4 Medium Eggs 
1tsp Cinnamon
2tbsp Still Cider
225g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
3 Good Sized Dessert Apples

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease/line the base of a 23cm springform tin. In a bowl rub together the 75g of butter with the 150g of flour, then tip in the sugar and chocolate. Crumble through with your fingers, until you are left with a mixture resembling lumpy breadcrumbs, then leave to one side.

For the cake itself cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir through the cinnamon and the cider, then sift in the plain flour with the baking powder. Mix it all together, until you are left with a smooth batter. Peel and core your apples, roughly chop two of them and grate the third. Fold all the apples through you cake mixture, then spoon into the tin and smooth over the top so it's even. Take your crumble mixture and scatter it evenly over the top of the cake. Using your fingers gently work the crumble mixture to the edges of the cake, being careful not to press down or compact the top. Place in the centre of the oven for 60 minutes, until a metal skewer can be cleanly removed from the middle. When you're satisfied, remove from the oven and leave in the tin until warm. Remove from the tin and serve either on it's own, or with cream, custard, even ice cream!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

White Chocolate, Coconut and Passion Fruit Cake

It's been a bit grey and dull around here recently, so I thought I'd try this one to brighten things up a bit. This cake has a tangy passion fruit fragrance and I really like how the white chocolate gives the sponge a bit more character. Although the cake itself is very quick to make, a little time is required to sort out straining the fruit and chopping/grating the chocolate, so give yourself half an hour or so prepare it.

Prep Time: 30 Mins
Baking Time: 50-55 Mins
6 Passion Fruit
100g White Chocolate
150g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
175g Caster Sugar
4 Medium Eggs
1/2tsp of Baking Powder
150g Self Raising Flour
100g Dessicated Coconut
1tbsp Icing Sugar

Right, you can start by cutting the passion fruit in half then scraping the insides into a sieve. Press with a large spoon through the sieve into a dish, so you can extract all the juice without the seeds. Grate the chocolate into a separate bowl (Or you can finely chop with a sharp knife) and set both aside whilst you prepare the batter. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease/line the base of a 20cm loose bottomed tin. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift in the baking powder with the flour and mix until thoroughly combined. Fold through the coconut, followed by the passion fruit juice and white chocolate. Spoon into the tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 50-55 minutes, until the top is a deep golden and a metal skewer can be cleanly removed from the middle of the cake.

When it's done remove from the oven and set aside for 30 minutes. When the tin can be easily handled, remove the cake and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Once the cake is cold dust with the icing sugar (I use a tea strainer for this). Finish by eating it all up!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Chocolate Chip and Coffee Cookies

These little cookies have a soft, chewy texture and a real hit of coffee flavour. If you want to take the edge off you can always replace some of the ground coffee with more cocoa powder, but I like having that slightly bitter edge. I combine the mixture with my hand as I find it easier to blend the ingredients and I admit it is a messy business. However, I think it's good to get your hands dirty now and again!

Prep Time: 10 Mins
Baking Time: 15 Mins
125g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
50g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
115g Caster Sugar
25g Cocoa Powder
20g Finely Ground Coffee Granules
1 Large Egg (Beaten)
1tsp Vanilla Extract
100g Chocolate Chips

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a large baking sheet with paper. In a bowl sift in the flower and baking powder, then rub in the butter until you are left with a mixture resembling coarse breadcrumbs. Tip in the rest of the dry ingredients, give them a brief mix around, then tip in all the wet ingredients along with the chocolate chips. Mix it altogether to a sticky dough. Dampen your hands with some cold water, then break off some dough, mould into a golf ball shape and place on the tray. Repeat, ensuring each dough ball is evenly sized and spaced (You should get about 9 cookies out of this mixture) and place in the centre of the oven. After about 15 minutes, the cookies should have spread and the tops cracked, so take them out and leave for 20 minutes on the tray. When they've cooled slightly carefully peel them from the paper and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Finished!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Chocolate Cake with Golden White Chocolate Icing

This chocolate cake has a lovely mild chocolate flavour with a rich fudgy texture, meaning it's a great vehicle for many different types of icing or topping. You can even split the mixture in half use it to make a sandwich cake. I've decided to go for 'golden' white chocolate icing, so called because I've used golden syrup to make it. I think the caramel flavour of the syrup really brings out the toffee notes in the white chocolate and makes it much more interesting than regular icing!

Prep Time: 10 mins
Baking Time: 60 mins
200g Plain Flour
275g Caster Sugar
50g Cocoa Powder
1tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
2 Medium Eggs
200ml Milk
100g Unsalted Butter (Melted)
1tsp Vanilla Extract
175ml Boiling Water

100g White Chocolate
50g Melted Butter
50g Golden Syrup
1tbsp Cold Water

Start by preheating the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3 and grease/line the base of a 20cm loose bottomed tin. I actually cut the baking paper so it was slightly larger than the bottom of the tin and overlapped, as I was a bit worried about some of the batter leaking out of the base. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients, then add in the eggs, milk, butter and vanilla. Beat the mixture thoroughly until it's all nicely mixed together then gradually pour in the boiling water whilst whisking. Continue whisking until you are left with a loose, smooth mixture making sure you get right to the bottom of the bowl. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 60 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out slightly crumby. Leave to cool for 30 minutes in the tin, then carefully remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cake is cool you can get started on the icing. Melt the butter together with the white chocolate. You can do this in a bain marie or in the microwave (It took me about 90 seconds on medium). When its melted pour in the golden syrup and water, then briskly mix it together with a mini whisk or a spoon until it's smooth and glossy. Using a spatula or a flat bladed knife, carefully spread the icing on top of the cake. Voila!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Syrupy Loaf Cake

I won't lie, this is not the greatest looking cake in the world, so is probably not appropriate for a dinner party. However all the better for it, as you get to enjoy it all to yourself! As with many things, although humble on the outside it is pretty special inside, with a syrupy sponge spiked with notes of toffee and bitter chocolate. It's an easy one to make, but you need to watch out for a couple of pitfalls. The tin needs to be very well greased to stop the sponge sticking and it'll scorch very quickly unless you cover the top with some greased foil. Aside from that it's a great afternoon tea treat, so have at it!

Prep Time: 15 Mins
Baking Time: 60 Mins
175g Unsalted Butter (Softened), plus a bit extra for greasing
100g Light Muscovado Sugar
3 Medium Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Extract
75g Golden Syrup
1tsp Baking Powder
175g Plain Flour
100g Medjool Dates (About 5)
75g Dark Chocolate

50g Golden Syrup
25g Dark Chocolate

Right, let's get going. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, WELL grease a 22cm loaf tin and line the base with baking paper. When I line this one I cut the baking paper slightly larger than the base of the tin, as I think it helps stop the cake sticking. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar, ensuring no little lumps remain. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir through the vanilla extract and 75g of golden syrup. Sift in the baking powder with the plain flour and mix it all together thoroughly, until you are left with a smooth batter. Roughly chop the dates and fold through, then do the same with the chocolate (I would try and have a good mix of tiny shards and chunky chips of chocolate).

Take the remaining 50g of golden syrup and drizzle evenly into the base of the tin. Finely chop the 25g of chocolate (Or you could grate it) and sprinkle it over the golden syrup. Spoon the cake mixture evenly on top. Lightly grease a sheet of tin foil and cover the top of the tin, folding and crumpling at the sides to seal it. Place in the centre of the oven for 60 minutes. If you're concerned you can check it's cooked by carefully removing the foil and cleanly removing a metal skewer from the centre. If it's slightly under just cover again with the foil and return to the oven for 5 more minutes or so. When done remove from the oven and leave for 15 minutes to cool slightly. When you can safely handle the tin you can turn the cake out. Run a flat bladed knife along each side to help release the sticky sponge, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Or you can eat it warm with vanilla ice cream! Yum! 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Little Easter Chocolate Nests

Happy Easter everybody! I've just knocked up these little chocolate nests for my niece and nephew and I'm really happy with how they've turned out. These Easter treats are quick, easy to make and if you have kids it's a great one for them to help out with too. I've used milk chocolate this time, but it works just as well with dark of even white chocolate.

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Baking Time: No baking required!
100g Chocolate (Broken up)
50g Unsalted Butter (Cubed)
50g Golden Syrup
4 Shredded Wheat
A few mini chocolate eggs (Or anything else you want to try)

First you need to line a muffin tray with six paper cases, then melt the chocolate together with the butter and syrup. You can do this over a bain-marie, but I just did it in the microwave, on medium for 90 seconds. Once its melted stir it all together until it's smooth and glossy. Crumble in your shredded wheat one at a time, making sure they are as well broken up as you can. Stir it all together until nicely combined, then spoon the mix equally into the cases. Press each down towards the edges leaving a well in the middle, then fill with a few mini eggs. Leave for an hour to cool and set. Finished!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Cherry Bakewell Cake

I love bakewell tart so I can't believe it's taken me this long to come up with my own cake version! This has all the classic bakewell flavours of fragrant almonds, fruity cherry and sweet icing, but is also incredibly easy to make. Even with my ropey icing skills it still has a wow factor and is a real crowd pleaser. 

I've used cherries in this recipe, but you can replace with raspberries if you'd prefer. I've also held back a little on the sugar in the sponge, just because there's so many other sweet elements. Despite that the sponge itself is beautiful, biscuity, light and fluffy but with a yielding moistness. It's so good that I'd definitely consider using it for any other sponge based recipes (Leaving out the almond extract).

Prep Time: 20 Mins
Baking Time: 25-30 Mins
200g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
175g Caster Sugar
4 Medium Eggs
1tsp Almond Extract
100g Ground Almonds
1/2tsp Baking Powder
125g Self Raising Flour

8 Maraschino (Cocktail) cherries
250g Cherry Jam
125g Icing Sugar
2tbsp Water
2tbsp Toasted Flaked Almonds

To start, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease/line the base of two 20cm sandwich tins. Cream together the butter and the sugar until smooth, then beat in the eggs one at a time followed by the almond extract. Fold through the ground almonds, then sift in the flour and baking powder. Mix it together until you are left with a nicely combined batter. Spoon the mix equally into two tins and bake in the centre of the oven (They should both fit on the same shelf of most ovens!) for 25-30 minutes, until a metal skewer can be cleanly removed from the middle of one of the cakes. Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for 30 minutes, then carefully turn them out and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cakes are cool you can finish it all off, which is pretty much just an assembly job! Remove your cherries from the jar and leave on some kitchen paper, which should soak up any excess juice. Take your two cakes and place one on your serving plate. Spoon the jam on top, then evenly smooth it out nearly to the edge. You don't have to use all of the jam if you think you have enough and leave about half a centimetre at the edge, as the jam will spread a little when you put the other cake on top. Place the second cake carefully on top and very lightly press it down to secure it. If some jame oozes out from the side don't worry, it gives it more of a home made look! Mix your icing sugar together with the water until completely combined (no little lumps of icing sugar please!), then gradually pour it on top of the cake, gently smoothing it towards the edges with a butter knife or the back of your spoon. Some of the icing will almost certainly spill over the edge of the cake but that's absolutely fine. Take your cherries, halve them and arrange them on top of the icing. Finally scatter over the flaked almonds and you're done. Well done you!