Sometimes I make things simply because the name tickles me, (blue moo pie, hummingbird cake etc).
I heard of this cake when reading about the legendary foodie and promoter of French cuisine, Julia Childs, and decided I had to make it.
This is a single layer cake, and is quite light, unlike some super rich dense chocolate cakes. It’s perfect if you don’t want something too heavy at the end of a meal, but is also delicious with a coffee if you feel the need for a little afternoon pick me up.
This recipe has some rum in it, but if you don’t do alcohol or just don’t like rum you can replace it with 2 tablespoons of strong coffee.
For the meringue
Pinch of Salt
3 Eggs (separate the yolks and whites)
1 Tbsp Sugar
For the cake
115 Grams Butter (Softened)
150 Grams Sugar
115 Grams Dark chocolate (melted)
2 Tbsp Rum, or strong black coffee
25 Grams Ground Almonds
1/4 Tsp Almond extract (optional)
60 Grams Plain Flour
For the decoration
2-3 Tbsp Flaked almonds
60 Grams Dark chocolate (melted)
60 Grams Butter (melted)
Preheat your oven to 180 degree (Celsius), and prepare a 9 inch cake tin, but rubbing it with butter and then dusting the inside with a little flour (this will stop your cake sticking to the tin)
Add 3 egg whites and a pinch of salt to a bowl, and either in a stand mixer or with an electric whisk, whisk until they start to froth before adding a tablespoon of sugar. Whisk until the egg whites are firm, and you can turn the bowl upside down and the meringue stays in the bowl (be careful doing this so you don’t end up with meringue all over your floor). Set to one side
For the cake melt the 115 Grams of chocolate in the microwave, (I use blasts of 30 seconds at a time to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn), and allow to cool slightly
In another bowl, slow whisk the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy, gradually add the egg yolks. Add the slightly cooled chocolate, and then the ground almonds, and flour until well mixed
Add 1/3 of the meringue mix to the chocolate mix, and mix in with a spatula, with help loosen the chocolate mix. Add the next 1/3 of the meringue mix and gently fold this into the chocolate mix with a spatula (this will help keep the air in the cake mix to keep it light. Fold in the remaining meringue mix ensuring it is thoroughly folded through before transferring to your prepared cake tin
Make for 16 minutes (there should still be a little wobble in the centre) . Allow to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes before turning out onto a wire wrack to cool
When the cake is cool, toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes, keep moving them around so they toast evenly and be careful as they can burn easily.
Melt the chocolate and butter for the topping in a bowl in the microwave (try blasts of 30 seconds and stir in between blasts to make sure it melts evenly), mix well when finally melted
Pour the chocolate and butter mix over the cake and spread evenly to make sure it runs down the sides evenly (I put a plate under wire wrack to catch any icing that runs of the cake and save mess)
Sprinkle the edges and sides of the cake with the toasted almonds (store in an airtight box if not eating immediately)
I love eating things other people make and one of my workmates made these and I was instantly addicted. So a big shout out to Christina for being kind enough to give me the recipe.
Christina’s recipe uses dark chocolate (either chips or chopped up chocolate), but because it coming up to Easter I decided to use smashed up mini eggs which are my total downfall. These cookies are also a great way to use up any random chocolate you have lying about after Easter.
You can make the dough a day or two before and keep it in the fridge so that all you have to do is cut it and bake when you need them (if you’re having friends over this means less last minute scurrying around and you appear like a serene domestic goddess with an oven full of delicious cookies)
350 Grams Plain Flour
1 Tsp Bicarbonate of soda
1 Tsp Salt
225 Grams Butter (room temperature and cut into chunks to make it easier to cream with the sugar)
175 Grams Soft brown sugar
50 Grams Caster sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla extract
350 Grams Smashed up mini eggs (or use chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate)
In a bowl combine all you dry ingredients (don’t add the chocolate yet)
In a separate bowl combine the butter. both types of sugar, add vanilla extract and mix until creamy, I used a stand mixer for this which makes it a lot easier but an electric whisk will also do the job
Beat the eggs into the butter mixture, and then gradually add the flour. Then stir in our chocolate pieces (I folded them in using a large spoon so that they didn’t get too broken up an electric whisk.
Split the dough into 2 halves, and roll each half into a sausage shape roughly 5cm in diameter and wrap each sausage in cling film before chilling in the fridge for at least half an hour
Preheat you oven to 190 degrees (Celsius), you’ll probably need a couple of baking sheets, and these should be lined with baking parchment
Cut the chilled cookie dough into 2cm think slices and transfer to you baking sheet leaving room for them spread as they cook. Bake for 10-12 minutes
Yasmin Khan’s (The Saffron Tales), recipe marries zesty lemon, the warmth of cardamom and gentle fragrance of rose water in a cake rich with ground almonds. You’ll need 2-3 lemons in total, and a word of warning about rose water, don’t be tempted to add more than stated in the recipe.
While there are a couple of steps to this cake its worth the effort, I decorated this with chopped pistachios and dried rose petals (you find these and rose water in most bigger Asian grocers (or you could use fresh petals if you’re lucky enough to have them in your garden). I don’t have an especially delicate touch when decorating cakes and my piping skills are questionable, so this is a good way to make your cake look beautiful with very little effort.
Legend has it that women in Persia would bake this cake to try and win the heart of men who caught their eye. So if you’re currently trying to get someone’s attention, it might be worth a try (and let me know if it works).
For the Cake
200 Grams Butter
150 Grams Caster sugar
1 level tsp of Ground cardamom
100 Grams Plain flour
275 Grams Ground almonds
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp Baking powder
1 Tbsp Rose Water
For the Drizzle
2 Tbsp Caster Sugar
1/2 Tsp rose water
Juice of 1 lemon
For the icing
150 Grams Icing Sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Top with chopped pistachios and dried rose petals (optional, but it will make your cake look really pretty)
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees (Celsius). Line a 9 inch cake tin with baking parchment (ideally one with a removable base)
In a large mixing bowl, cream your butter and sugar together thoroughly and then beat in the eggs one at a time, (using a stand mixer if you have one is a quick way to save yourself a lot of work)
Gradually add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. Transfer to your lined cake tin and bake for 45 minutes, (test the centre of the cake with a tooth pick, it should come out clean, but if it doesn’t then bake for another 5-10 minutes and test again). Cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes, before transferring to a wire wrack to cool
In a small saucepan heat the ingredients for the drizzle, until the sugar has melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool
When the cake has cooled poke random holes in the cake with a toothpick, sprinkle over the cooled drizzle as evenly as possible, I allowed the cake to sit for about an hour to allow the cake to absorb the drizzle and it’s yummy flavours)
To make the icing just add lemon juice to the icing sugar and mix well to ensure there are no lumps before spreading it evenly across the cake
Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and rose petals
This cake will live for 3-4 days in an airtight tin, but will probably not survive that long
It’s Mother’s day and though she isn’t with us any more, I made my Mum’s signature dish, Pavlova. She wasn’t a fantastic cook, but she made a mean Pavlova. I didn’t ever get her recipe. So if you have a loved one who makes something you adore, remember to spend the time with them and get them to teach you how to make it. Food is one of the best ways to keep a little bit of that person with you.
Meringue has always been my culinary nemisis. I’ve struggled to make a decent one for years and I think I’ve cracked it thanks to the sainted Mary Berry (this is her recipe) .
I’ve used the traditional strawberries, but you can use any fruit you prefer.
This is a real crowd plesser, and is also a delicious gluten free dessert. Don’t panic if the meringue cracks, the topping will hide this, and the marshmallowy centre is a nice contrast to the crunchy exterior.
You can make the meringue the day before (keep in an airtight box) and decorate just before serving.
For the meringue
6 Egg whites
350 Grams Sugar
1 Tsp cornflour
1 Tbsp Vinegar
250 ml Whipping or double cream
Berries or other fruit to decorate
Pre heat your oven to 150 degrees (Celsius)
Add your egg whites to the bowl of your mixer and at a high speed until it reaches firm peaks
Continue mix and add the sugar a spoonful at a time, then add the cornflour and vinegar (which should be mixed together before adding to the meringue mix
Draw a circle on a sheet of parchment paper and put a small dab of meringue on the corners of a baking sheet before laying the parchment on top (this helps keep it in place)
Spoon your meringue on the circle you drew on the parchment (I like to keep meringue a quite tall, but you can go for a slightly flatter wider one if you prefer)
Place in the oven, and lower the heat to 140 degrees, bake for 1 hour, then the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Leave the meringue in the oven until it is entirely cold
Just before you are due serve, top with whipped cream and strawberries
I have to give props for the recipe to Deborah Robertson @lickedspoon, who I think got it turn from Martha Stewart (I love recipe family trees).
These cookies are a bit of a faff but they are well worth it. You need to chill the dough for at least 4 hours. I made the dough in the morning, then got on with my day while it chilled. You can do this, and by the time you bake them your house will smell devine and you’ll be worshipped as the domestic God/Goddess that you are.
You can make the dough a day or two in advance if you’re busy and it also freezes well. (freeze the dough before you roll it in sugar). These are pretty indulgent, but it is Christmas.
The original recipe says to add Kalhua or Tia Maria. I was making these for kids so I left it out, but definitely looking forward to making the adult version next time.
120 Grams Good quality dark chocolate
180 Grams Plain flour
50 Grams Cocoa powder
100 Grams Butter (room temperature)
2 Tsp Baking powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
200 Grams Brown sugar
2 Tsp Vanilla extract
80 Mil Milk
2-3 Tbsp Castor sugar
2-3 Tbsp Icing sugar
Melt the chocolate in the microwave, giving it 30 second blasts, and stirring regularly (be care not to burn it). Allow to cool slightly
Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a stand mixer or with an electric whisk until light and fluffy
Mix all your dry ingredients together
Gradually add the vanilla and eggs to the butter and sugar and whisk at medium spead. Then gradually add all the ingredients and mix until it comes together as a dough, don’t over mix
Put a good sized sheet of cling film on your counter, empty half the dough onto it before forming it into disk. Wrap with the rest of the cling film and refrigerate it for 3-4 hours. Repeat with the second half of the dough
When the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius), and line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper
Place the castor sugar and icing sugar into two separate bowls (your hands will get sticky later on, so it’s also a good idea to have a bowl of cold water too).
Remove the dough from the fridge and unwrap it, and break of lumps about the size of a walnut and roll into a ball. Roll the ball in the bowl of castor sugar, making sure its well coated. Then roll it in the bowl of icing sugar and place on the baking try
Make sure to leave space between the balls of dough as they will spread.
Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool before trying to move as they will very soft until they cool
With colder weather and darker evenings coming in all I want is comfort food.
This was one of my favourite desserts from school and is basically an apple sponge. Whatever you decide to call it, it’s delicious and even better with custard, or ice cream.
I’ve used eating apples, but you could use cooking apples if this what you have (just remember to add some extra sugar if the apples are very tart).
You can also use different fruit, like plums, pears, or rhubarb.
120 Grams Butter (plus extra for greasing the baking dish)
120 Grams Sugar
120 Grams Self Raising Flour
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
6 Dessert Apples
Icing Sugar (optional)
Peel and core the apples, and cut into 3-4cm cubes. Put in a pot with a splash of water and cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the apples start to soften. You can cook the apples for longer if you prefer, but I like them to still have a bit of texture. Allow to cool slightly
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until it becomes light.
Add the vanilla and one egg to the butter and sugar and continue mixing. Add a couple of spoonfuls of flour and the next egg and gradually add the rest of the flour while mix (this should stop the cake mix looking like it has curdled. If this happens don’t panic, just add a spoonful of flour and keep mixing
Transfer the apples to an oven proof dish (about 1-1.5 litre dish should be fine). Drain off any excess liquid and top with the cake mix before spreading it evenly across the top of the apples
Bake for 40 minutes, stick a skewer or toothpick in the middle of the pudding. If the skewer comes out clean the your pudding is ready, if not cook for a further 5 minutes and try again
Allow to cool slightly, and dust with icing sugar if you’re feeling fancy
One of the good things about being the cook is that you get access to the best bits.
I was making a savoury pie, using shop bought puff pastry, and had some left over. I hate food waste, so rather than throw it out, I dusted it with some brown sugar and cinnamon to make a version of bite sized Danishes. I also sprinkled with sesame seeds just to be fancy, but they’re without these.
With only 3 ingredients these are delicious little perks of being the cook.
Ready made puff pastry
I had a 5-6 centimetre wide piece of puff pastry. Dust with brown sugar and cinnamon and roll up in a coil.
Cut into 1-2cm slices, place on a baking sheet (sprinkle with sesame seeds if you want to), and bake for 15 minutes at 200 degrees (Celsius) until gold brown.
This may be the most totally filthy thing (in a good way) that I have ever made.
My sister saw this on a food programme and asked me to make it. She couldn’t remember which programme or I would give credit where its due.
I cook with chicken thighs alot, and when I’m feeling healthy I’ll remove and discard the skin. I’ve now started making chicken crackling (super crispy chicken skin crisps).
This butter makes a delicious topping on top of steak, or even melted onto pasta. Under no circumstances should you be left alone with it and a loaf of French bread, unless you want your loved ones to find you covered with crumbs, glistening with butter and filled with shame. Feck it, it’s totally worth it.
You can make larger batches and freeze the butter (if you don’t trust yourself)
75 Grams Butter (room temperature, and cut into cubes)
Skin from 3-4 chicken thighs
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (Celsius)
Place the chicken thighs on a chopping board, and run the back of a large kitchen knife a long the skin to flatten it out.
Place on a baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with salt and then place another baking tray on top to keep the skin flat
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken skin is a deep golden brown. Set to one side and all to cool completely
When cold, whizz the chicken skin in a food processor until it looks like sand, you can leave it a little coarser if you prefer
Add the butter to the food processor and pulse until everything is well combined. Check the seasoning and more salt if you think it needs it
Transfer to a sheet of cling film and shape into a sausage shape and wrap before freezing or refrigerating