Lemon Bars

I love any form of lemon dessert and these are the ideal tea time treat. There’s a rich buttery shortbread base and a zingy lemon topping.

OMG I love these so much, I have to distribute these among friends and family or else I could easily eat these entirely by myself. If you have better self discipline than I do, these will keep in an airtight box for 2-3 days.

Use a food processor if you have one to make them even easier to make. There’s no need to roll out the shortbread base, just press it into the dish.

Makes 18

Ingredients

For the base

120 Grams Butter

130 Grams Plain flour

30 Grams Icing sugar

For the topping

Juice and finely grated zest of 3 lemons

190 Grams Sugar

3 Eggs

65 Grams Plain flour

Extra icing sugar for dusting the finished bars

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius) and line a 9 in x 12 in baking tin with parchment paper
  2. To make the base, add the flour, butter, and sugar to a food processor and pulse until it looks like breaks crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor you can use the rubbing in method to combine the butter and flour
  3. Transfer the crumb mix to the baking sheet and press it down. Put in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until light golden brown
  4. Allow the base to cool slightly before making the topping
  5. Using your food processor again, add all the topping ingredients to the bowl and whizz until light and fluffy
  6. Pour the topping on top of the cooled base and bake for 25 minutes (or until the centre doesn’t jiggle
  7. Allow to cool completely before dusting with icing sugar and cutting into bars

Pina Colada Squares

Pineapple and coconut are a marriage made in heaven, and though there is no booze in these, they are still yummy.

These are amazing for a special teatime treat or for dessert with ice cream. You can make the sponge 2-3 days in advance and wrap in cling film, then just add the topping before you’re read to serve. You can even freeze the sponge if you’re super organised (just remember to make sure the sponge is fully defrosted before applying the cream cheese frosting).

I’ve added some toasted coconut as a topping and take a few minutes to toast it, this adds a whole extra element.

Toasting the coconut will make all the difference

I used margerine for the sponge, Mary Berry uses this in her sponge recipes. Since nobody probably knows more about cakes than her, so I’ll go with her advice, but feel free to use butter if you prefer.

Makes 18 squares

Ingredients

For the sponge

Large tin of pineapple junks (drained weight 340 Grams), roughly chopped

350 Grams Caster Sugar

350 Grams Margerine

275 Grams Self Raising flour

100 Grams Dessicated coconut

5 Eggs

For the frosting

25 Grams Icing sugar (if you prefer a sweeter frosting you can use more)

200 Grams Cream cheese

25 Grams Dessicated coconut (toasted)

Method

  1. If you have a stand mixer I would recommend using it, but an electric hand whisk is fine too.
  2. Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius), and line a 9 in x 12 in baking tin with baking parchment
  3. In a bowl, add the margerine and sugar and whisk together until light and fluffy.
  4. Whisk in one egg at a time, along with a tablespoon of flour. Whisk the remaining flour when they eggs have been added along with coconut (don’t panic if it looks curdled)
  5. Fold in the roughly chopped pineapple, and transfer the mix to your prepared baking tin
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes
  7. Allow to cool in the tin
  8. For the toasted coconut topping, you can spread the coconut on sheet pan and bake for 5-10 minutes while the sponge is baking. I prefer to do it in a pan, as its easier to check that it’s not going to burn. Once toasted set to one side and allow to cool
  9. Add the icing sugar to the cream cheese and mix well. When the sponge is completely cool spread with the cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with the toasted coconut
  10. Cut into squares

3 Ingredient, Condensed Milk and Fruit Squares

We’re currently getting battered by storms and I couldn’t face going out, so I had to work with what I had. 

I love this recipe as it takes minimal effort and can be made with ingredients you normally have in your cupboard.  I recommend everyone always has a tin of condensed milk in the cupboard.  It can be used for everything from making ice cream, sweets and baking.

These are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee on a miserable day (they also freeze well, just freeze before you decide if you’re going to sprinkle with icing sugar)

Ingredients

390ml Tin of condensed milk

160 Grams Self raising flour

350 Grams Dried fruit (you can use any fruit you like or a combination)

Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

Makes 15 squares

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius), and line a 16cm x 24cm baking tin with baking paper
  2. Add the flour, fruit, and condensed milk to a bowl and mix well
  3. Transfer the batter to the baking tin and bake for 25-30 mins
  4. Cool in the tin for 30 minutes, and then add a dusting of icing sugar if you want to make it look pretty. Cut into squares and store in an air tight box for up to 2-3 days

Blackberry Muffins

When it’s cold and wet outside its nice to have a recipe that you can rustle up something yummy out of what you have in the cupboards. These are great for brunch, lunch boxes, or just because you want something nice with a cup of tea or coffee.

I’ve used frozen blackberries and orange zest to flavour these. This can be swapped for blueberry and lemon, which is also delicious. Dried fruit works well too.

Makes 12 Muffins

Ingredients

300 Grams Self raising flour

100 Grams Sugar

100 Grams Butter

2 Eggs

150 Grams Blackberries (defrost first if using frozen)

1 Tsp Vanilla extract

1 Tsp Baking powder

Zest of one orange

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius), line a muffin tin with paper cases
  2. In a mixer or with an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together
  3. Add the eggs and mix well before adding the flour (set aside 2 Tbsps of flour), baking powder, orange zest and vanilla and mix until combined (it might look a bit lumpy, but that’s OK)
  4. Toss your fruit in the flour you set aside (this will stop it sinking to the bottom of your muffins). Gently fold the fruit through your muffin mix
  5. Spoon the mix into your muffin cases as evenly as possible and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown

Almondina

After Christmas many of us want a break from big heavy sit down dinners. With cheese and grazing boards becoming popular, almondina are the perfect addition to lend some interest if you’re bored of crackers.

This is also a great recipe to use up any left over nuts or dried fruit. I actually think it’s better to have mix of fruit and nuts.

Ingredients

175 Grams Nuts (I used a mix of almonds, walnuts and pecans, but any mixture will work)

125 Grams Plain flour

25 Grams Brown sugar

125 Grams Dried fruit (I used roughly chopped apricots and dates, if you are using smaller fruit like raisins or sultanas, keep an eye in them during the second bake as they can catch quickly)

1/4 Tsp Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)

1/2 Tsp Salt

175Ml Milk

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius). Grease a loaf pan
  2. Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl and combine
  3. Stir in the milk with a wooden spoon and when thoroughly mixed transfer to the loaf tin and bake for 60 minutes
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool
  5. Wrap in cling film and freeze for 1 hour. This will help you slice the almondina thinly. Do not freeze for longer than this
  6. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees (Celsius) and line a baking sheet with parchment
  7. Take the almondina out of the freezer and remove the cling film
  8. With a bread knife, slice the loaf into 1/2 cm thick slices and place on the baking sheet for 12-15 mins (until they brown around the edges), before cooling on a wire wrack
  9. These will last in an airtight container for up to a week

Vanillekipferl (Almond Crescent Cookies)

About a million years ago I lived in Germany, and nobody does Christmas or Christmas confectionery like the Germans.

These rich buttery cookies are the perfect Christmas cookie. I have used pistachios but you could use any type of nut you prefer. These are quite rich, but they aren’t something you’ll be eating everyday. They also make great Christmas gifts.

You could also swap out the vanilla extract for almond essence or pistachio paste if you want to experiment with different flavours.

(Makes 24 cookies)

Ingredients

95 Grams Ground almonds

75 Grams Sugar

270 Grams Plain flour

25 Grams Pistachios (chopped)

225 Grams Butter (chilled and cut into cubes)

1 Tsp Vanilla extract

Method

  1. Add all the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl and combine
  2. Add the vanilla extract and butter, and rub the butter into the dry mix (you can also use a food processor to do this)
  3. When the butter has been rubbed into the dry mix, start pressing together to form a dough
  4. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 30 minutes
  5. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius), and line a baking sheet with baking parchment
  6. Take the dough out of the fridge and turn out on a lightly floured surface
  7. With your hands, roll the the dough into a sausage and divide into 24 equal parts
  8. Shape each section of dough into a half moon shape with your hands and place on your prepared baking sheet
  9. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies start to brown at the edges
  10. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire wrack
  11. When cool, dust liberally with icing sugar
  12. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days

Blackberry Ganache Tart, with Meringue Shards

If you have read this blog for a while you’ll know I enjoy a good forage.  Collecting blackberries always takes me back to being a kid.  Wild blackberries also have a much more intense flavour than the farmed variety.  So with a glut of Autumn berries I had to come up with something delicious. If you can’t get hold of blackberries, frozen blueberries also work really well.

I don’t do fancy desserts that often, but for things like birthdays it’s nice to push the boat out.

I have included some meringue shards for decoration but this is totally optional.  I only made this because I had egg whites left from making the pastry and I didn’t want to waste them.  Full disclosure, they were meant to be little meringue kisses but I was beaten again by baking nemesis, meringue!  When I tried to pipe it everything just spread, so I decided to make free hand swirls and ended up a kind of meringue bark.  It still tasted fine.

When your meringue decides not to behave, just go abstract.

Ganache sounds complicated, but its really only chocolate and cream.  I made a rich sweet biscuit pastry for the base, but you can use shop bought short crust pastry or even a ready made pie case if you’re short on time.

Ingredients

For the pastry

200 Grams Plain flour

80 Grams Icing sugar

100 Grams Butter (chilled, and cut into cubes)

4 Egg yolks

For the ganache

300 Grams White chocolate

300 ml Double cream

150 Grams Blackberries

For the meringue (optional)

4 Egg whites

200 Grams Caster sugar

1/2 Tsp Food colouring (optional)

Method

  1. Put the flour and icing sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the cubed butter and blitz until it looks fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks one a time and pulse until the pastry starts coming together
  2. Turn the pastry out until a floured surface. Form into a ball and wrap in cling film, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Grease a 9in loose base tart tin, and preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius).
  4. Because the pastry is so rich I think it’s easier to roll the pastry out between two sheets of grease proof paper. Roll out the pastry out until it’s approx half a centimetre think. Remove the top layer of paper and flip onto your tart tin. Make sure to press the pastry into the edges of your tin, pierce the base of the tin all over with a fork and refrigerate for 30 mins
  5. Put a sheet of grease proof paper across the pastry base and top with baking beans (I just keep a jar of old rice that I reuse). Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the grease proof paper and baking beans, return to the oven to bake for another 10-15 minutes (Be careful, because of the sugar in the pastry it browns very quickly). Remove from the oven when brown and allow to cool.
  6. For the meringue, whisk the egg whites until double their size, gradually add the caster sugar, and spread on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. With a cocktail stick swirl the food colouring through the meringue
  7. Bake for an hour at 120 degrees (Celsius), although to cool and then break into shards
  8. For the ganache, break the chocolate into chunks in a large bowl.
  9. Add the cream and blackberries to a pot and heat until just before boiling. Pour the cream and blackberries through a sieve onto the chocolate, press the berries with the back of a spoon until only the seeds are left (then discard). Whisk the chocolate and cream together until it melts. Allow to cool a little before pouring into the cooled pastry shell. Refrigerate until the ganache has firmed up.
  10. Before serving, top with chards of the meringue. You can also use other toppings like fresh blackberries, or white chocolate curls

Key Lime Pie (with an Oreo crust)

Like everyone else I have been binge watching TV series during lockdown and had got back into Dexter, and an episode put Key Lime Pie back in my head.

The pie is usually made with a digestive biscuit (graham cracker) crumb base, but I’ve made mine with an Oreo crumb base mainly because I just like the contrast in colour (please don’t be tempted to add green food colouring the lime layer) . I’ve also added a whipped cream topping which you can leave out if you don’t like creamy desserts. A traditional pie apparently never had cream because it was difficult get and keep cream fresh in the Florida Keys where the pie originally came from. I also used supermarket own of Oreos which worked out to be much cheaper. Some places sell ready made Oreo pie cases, so if you’re short on time you could also use one of these.

Feel free to revert to the original pie, but I’ve only ever had thumbs up for this version. It’s really good as a dessert that you can make a head and take out of the fridge when you are ready to serve, or treat yourself and enjoy a slice with your afternoon coffee.

Ingredients

For the Crust

400 Grams Oreos

70 Grams Butter (melted)

For the Filling

1 x 397 Can of Condensed milk

3 x Egg yolks

4 x Limes (juice and zest)

300 ml Fresh Cream (whipped)

1 Tbsp Icing sugar

Extra Lime zest to decorate

Method

  1. Add the Oreos to a food processor and whizz until you have fine crumbs. I had to do this in 2 batches but it will depend on the size of your processor. Transfer the crumbs to large bowl and stir in the melted butter. Pre heat your oven 180 degrees (Celsius)
  2. Line the base of a 21-22 cm spring form cake tin with baking parchment and grease the sides of the tin with butter.
  3. Pour the Oreo mix into the tin and with a glass or the back of a spoon press the crumbs up the sides of the tin, until there is a crust of around 4-5cm. Make sure the base is well covered too. Bake for 15 minutes and allow to cool
  4. Add 3 egg yolks to a bowl or mixer and whisk until the yolks lighten in colour and increase in volume
  5. Add the condensed milk, and lime juice and zest and whisk for 2-3 minutes
  6. Pour the filling into the cooled pie base and bake at 160 degrees (Celsius) for 15 minutes before removing from the oven and allowing to cool
  7. When the pie is completely cool, whisk the cream and icing sugar together until it forms soft peaks. Spread over the top of the baked pie and add some finely grated lime zest for a finishing touch

Baked Feta with a Hazelnut Crust

I love super simple recipes, that don’t require dozens of ingredients or loads of time.

This is really simple and delicious and is perfect as a lunch to share or as a sharing starter. You can cut the feta into smaller pieces if you prefer to make these single serving.

The hazelnuts should be kept fairly chunky (I crushed these in a mug with the base of a rolling pin to stop them rolling all over a cutting board). I also like a light drizzle of honey at the end, as I think its a nice contrast against the saltiness of the feta, serve it with salad and some crusty bread.

Ingredients

200 Gram Feta/Greek salad cheese

40 Grams Hazlenuts

4-5 Sprigs Thyme/1/2 Tsp Dried thyme

1 Tbsp Oil

1 Tbsp Honey (Optional)

Method

  1. Take the cheese out of the fridge about 30 minutes before your plan to bake it (if you forget to do this its no biggy), pat dry with kitchen paper and rub with the oil. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (Celsius)
  2. Coat both sides of the cheese with the crushed hazelnuts and thyme, move to an oven proof dish and bake for 20 minutes or until the hazelnuts and toasted and brown
  3. Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey (if honey isn’t your thing don’t worry it will still be delicious)

ANZAC Biscuits

I love learning about new recipes from other people and hearing about their food traditions. One of my bosses Amanda, is Australian, and she mentioned these as being a real institution back in OZ. The recipe she shared was from BBC Good Food, and these are scrummy.

The name comes from Australian and New Zealand Army Corp, and legend has it people originally made these to send with care packages to soldiers during the first world war because the ingredients didn’t spoil easily. Other people claim they were never sent in care packages, but were sold at bake sales etc. to raise funds for returning veterans. They’re now baked to commemorate ANZAC day on 25 April each year.

How long you cook these for will depend on the type of biscuit you want (chewy or crisp). I’ve also seen recipes that include ground ginger, and I think this would make a cracking addition. One of my work mates tried drizzling chocolate over hers, which would also be scrummy (thanks for the suggestion Tina). Which ever version you try they will taste pretty amazing and are easy to make from ingredients you might already have. They will live quite happily in an airtight tin for 4-5 days.

Ingredients

100 Grams Plain Flour

100 Grams Butter

100 Grams Caster Sugar

85 Grams Porridge Oats

85 Grams Desiccated Coconut

1 Tbsp Golden Syrup

1 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

Method

  1. Heat your oven to 180 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with baking parchment
  2. Add the flour, sugar, oats and coconut to a bowl and mix well before making a well in the centre
  3. In a separate bowl, add the butter and golden syrup and melt in a microwave (I usually do 30 seconds at a time)
  4. In a cup add the bicarbonate of soda and stir in 2 tablespoons of boiling water, before stirring into the melted butter
  5. Stir the melted butter into the dry mix and stir until fully incorporated
  6. Scoop dessertspoonful’s of the mix onto the baking sheet, leaving gaps of 2-3 cm between each biscuit, as they will spread
  7. Cook in your preheated oven for 10 mins for a chewy biscuit, or 15 mins or longer if you want a more crispy biscuit