Tag Archives: Baking

My obsession with Pistachios continues….

I don’t really like nuts. In actual fact if I order a dessert and arrives with nuts (ALWAYS happens if you order a brownie), more often than not there’s an undeclared nut in it. Saying that, I have always eaten pistachios.  My poor Dad use to crunch his way down the drive if I had dropped any shells. This recipe ticks alot of boxes for me.

Chocolate √

Pistachios √

Smoked Salt √


Pistachios, I fear, like pinenuts are going to be a thing of the past at some stage due to climate change. So maybe this recipe will have to change for the next generation. Makes me just a little sad. More than a little sad if the truth be told.

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My Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe

“Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot

for a lot of people; it does for me.”

~Audrey Hepburn

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Pear Loaf Cake

When it’s apple season it also happens to be pear season.  My Grandmother always grew pears aswell as apples and always kept a fruit paring knife in her apron to dole out fruit to the hungry grandchildren.  She always kept the pears on the windowsil to ripen. And for me, often, pears are like avocados.  A 10 second window of ripeness that often happens, apparently, in the middle of the night, so that they go from rock- diamond hard to mush in 12 hours. This cake uses pears, but they are nearly better when not quite ripe.

Pear Loaf Cake

Pear Cake
200g Plain Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
200g sugar, plus more for sprinkling
100g butter, melted and cooled, plus more for brushing
80ml plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large pear, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter and line a loaf tin. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar with the melted butter, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then fold in the pears and ginger.

Pear Cake

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean; loosely cover the top with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent over-browning.

Pear Loaf Cake

Pear Loaf Cake

Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool completely in the pan. Invert the cake onto a plate and invert again.  I like to “paint” the cake top with sugar syrup and I scatter some sugar crystals. Slice the cake and serve with some softly whipped cream.
Pear Cake

Easy Apple Berry Charlotte Recipe

This Apple Charlotte recipe is loosely based on a Russian recipe.  Classic Russian cuisine abounded in nifty quick recipes for unexpected guests. This puffy dessert requires only sliced tart apples, a few handfuls of berries and a simple batter.  However as it takes so long to cook it would really only be suitable to serve to guests if you have advanced warning.  If they just popped in unexpectedly I’d probably go with scones…. 😉

Easy Apple Berry Charlotte Recipe

Apple Charlotte
100g butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan

40g plain dry bread crumbs

3 large eggs

60ml milk

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

280g caster sugar

225g plain flour

200g soft fruit

4 large firm tart apples—peeled, quartered, cored and thinly sliced crosswise

1 cup blueberries

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Icing Sugar for dusting


Preheat the oven to 180oC.

Butter a 10-inch oven proof frying pan and dust the bottom with the bread crumbs.

Apple Charlotte

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the milk, vanilla and 200g of the sugar.  Beat in the melted butter until well mixed, then beat in the flour until a thick batter forms.

In another large bowl, toss the cup of soft fruit with the sliced apples, cinnamon and the remaining sugar.

Apple Charlotte

Spread one-fourth of the batter in the prepared skillet and top with the apples and berries. Using an offset spatula, spread the remaining batter over the fruit in an even layer.

Apple Charlotte

Scatter the remaining 8 to 12 pieces of fruit on top and gently press them into the batter. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour, until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool completely, then dust with confectioners’ sugar. Slice into wedges and serve.


A dollop of crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.

Apple Charlotte

Apple Charlotte



Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding

I just love bread and butter pudding. And we have some gorgeous panettone bread left over to use in the best way possible- this recipe is as good with brioche as with panettone.  And really if push comes to shove, it’s good with any old white batch loaf type- just remove the crusts. Sure you can’t make it ALL into breadcrumbs…. and using up leftovers is COOL these days.

Bread and Butter Pudding


Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding

8 thick slices panettone crusts, cut into 2.5cm cubes
50g butter, melted
300ml cream
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons dark rum (if desired)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
75g chocolate chips
2 tablespoons caster sugar
20g Icing Sugar

Bread and Butter Pudding

Beautifully light panettone bread

Preheat oven to 180oC. Place bread in large bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons melted butter and toss. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Bake until bread begins to colour, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Cool. Brush your baking dish with 1 tablespoon melted butter.

Bread and Butter Pudding

Broken pieces of panettone tossed in melted butter

Heat the cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat until bubbling. Remove from heat. Whisk eggs and yolks in large bowl. Add rum, vanilla, and salt; gradually whisk in warm cream. Stir in bread cubes. Let soak 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Bread and Butter Pudding

Soaking in the egg custard

Mix chocolate chips into custard mixture. Pour into prepared dish. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until puffed and set in centre, about 35 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm, with some freshly whipped cream. Divine.

Bread and Butter Pudding

Best to get the photo before it disappears!

Delicious Brown Butter Apple Financier Recipe

As you know at this stage, I’m more than a little obsessed with financiers, or friands. For a number of reasons;

1.They use up egg whites if you don’t want to make macaron or meringues

2. You don’t need any fancy mixing equipment, the tin is a plus, but not entirely necessary, you could make them in muffin tins

3. You can add all kind of flavourings to them

These are perfect for using up those apples.  I prefer to use eating apples, but cooking apples would work just aswell, just adjust the sugar until they are palatable.
The “brown butter” element is a valuable technique, but used in this recipe to give that extra layer of flavour, so hold your nerve and don’t be tempted to skip this stage.

Brown Butter Apple Financiers


150g Butter, soft

3 medium egg whites

125g Caster Sugar

55g Plain Flour

55g Finely Ground Almonds

½ teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla paste

2 Eating Apples, peeled and chopped into smallish pieces.

40g butter, melted- fro greasing and apples.



Preheat the oven to 170oC.  Brush the financier tray extremely well with half approx.. of the melted butter

Heat the remaining butter and brown the chopped apples in this.  Leave to cool.

Melt the 150g of butter until the solids have separated and they are starting to turn brown.  Remove from the heat and cool.
Mix all the remaining cake ingredients, apart from the apples, in your mixer until light in colour and a little fluffy.  Add in the melted 150g of butter, mix well again and leave for 30 minutes in the fridge to rest.  This helps remove unnecessary bubbles.  Rebrush the tin, and fill the sections ¾ full.  Spoon the apples pieces on top.

Bake for 15- 20 minutes.  Cool in the tray for 5 minutes.

Dust with icing sugar , and a little cinnamon.

Apricot and Basil Frangipane Tart Recipe

I ‘m a fan of frangipane. And never would have been drawn to it when I was younger.  But for me it’s almost a perfect combination of spongelike texture with a pastry base. A match made in heaven once there isn’t an over-powering taste of almond essence. Ugh. Double ugh in fact.

The earliest mention is in a French Cookbook in 1674! Some believe that the name bears homage to St. Francis of Assisi. That a noblewoman named Jacopa da Settesoli brought some to him on his death bed in 1226.

Apricot & Basil Frangipane Tart

Apricot & Basil Frangipane Tart Prep

I like to make this tart a little hap hazard, no need for perfect pastry crust or to get the ruler out to measure the distance between the apricots. So I suppose it’s a pie really. The basil gives a lovely perfume to the apricot filing.  And somehow makes it a little less sweet, which, unlikely as it seems, is a good thing!

Apricot and Basil Frangipane Tart


200g plain flour

100g butter (from the fridge)

50g caster sugar

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 egg yolk

For the frangipane

100g soft butter

100g  caster sugar

2 eggs

140g ground almonds

75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

About 5 basil leaves

8-10 apricots, stoned and quartered

To serve

Icing sugar, softly whipped cream and vanilla bean paste


To make the pastry, mix the flour, butter and a pinch of salt into your food processor.  Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Add the sugar and pulse again. Add the vanilla, egg and 1-2 tablespoons of cold water, and pulse until the dough just comes together.  Tip out and shape into a disc.  Chill for 30 minutes, then roll out the pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper, as this pastry is very crumbly.  Line a loose-bottomed tart tin with the pastry, pressing it into the sides. Chill for at least 30 mins.

Meanwhile, prepare the frangipane.  Using electric beaters if you have them, beat the butter until creamy, then add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition, then stir in the almonds, flour, and the torn basil leaves.

Heat oven to 160oC fan 4 and put in a baking tray to heat. Spoon the frangipane into the tart case and smooth. Poke the apricots into the frangipane. Bear in mind it’s a very rustic tart.

Transfer to the baking tray, in the oven, and bake for 40-50 mins (cover with foil after 30 mins if the tart is getting too dark) until the fruit is tender and a skewer poked in the frangipane comes out clean.

Leave the tart to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then transfer to a wire rack.  Serve warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar, with a dollop of softly whipped cream mixed with a little vanilla bean paste, if you like.



Apricots- A Taste of France

I just love apricots, they bring a taste of French summer into our home.  And although I didn’t purchase mine from a market stall at the side of the road (Lidl’s best), they are still beautifully coloured and soft skinned.

Apricots in all their glory

Apricots in all their glory

Apricot Cakes


125g plain flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

75g butter, room temperature

70g Caster sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

75ml full fat milk

apricots, halved, pitted, cut into 1/4-inch wedges

2 tablespoons brown sugar


Preheat oven to 160oC. Put the paper cases in the tin. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

With mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Divide this batter among muffin cups (cups will be only 1/3 full) and smooth tops. Top with the apricot slices and sprinkle liberally with brown sugar.


Bake until cakes are golden and a tester inserted into the centres comes out clean, 20–25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let pan cool 5 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack and let cool completely.



Book Review: Seasonal Baking

As many of you know, I am a big advocate in my cooking and eating of three mantras:

Keep it simple

Keep it local

Keep it seasonal

So when a suggestion of a cookbook called Seasonal Baking popped up in my suggestions, I jumped at it.

White Chocolate Berry Traybake

Seasonal Baking by Fiona Cairns

I don’t have any other of this lady’s books.  But had a little gander at her website, which unfortunately she doesn’t keep up to date.  But she’s probably too busy making cakes! Being in the business of making cakes for over 25 years, I think she probably could be classed as an expert.

I decided to be a little unseasonal (!) and make the white chocolate traybake, as I rarely use white chocolate, and I had some of our own berries in the fridge.
White Chocolate Berry Traybake

White Chocolate is a temperamental ingredient and it needs to be handled with care.  It’s not chocolate in the strict sense as it doesn’t contain cocoa solids.  It is difficult to melt, so for this recipe you really have to be organised and melt it very very slowly.  but it’s worth it, I promise.


White Chocolate Berry Traybake

Melting the white chocolate

The fruit element is also very important, I have used fresh (bought) berries, but frozen work just aswell.

Seasonal Baking

Raspberries and Blueberries

Seasonal Baking – Very Berry White Chocolate Traybake


225g butter

225g self raising flour

225g Caster Sugar

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

Zest of one Lemon

4 eggs

200g White Chocolate

250g berries (mix of blueberries and raspberries)


Melt half of the white chocolate slowly over a saucepan of hot water.  Meanwhile cream the sugar and softened butter well, add the flour, eggs, zest and baking powder and mix thoroughly.  This is best done in the mixer, and beat the hell out of it.

Mix in the other 100g of white chocolate and then gently stir in the berries.

Bake at 170oC in a traybake tin for about 20 minutes.  Leave to cool in the tin then maybe drizzle some extra melted white chocolate over it- to e sure to be sure!

Seasonal Baking- Very Berry White Chocolate Traybake

Seasonal Baking- Very Berry White Chocolate Traybake


Chocolate and Orange Cheesecake

It’s tradition in our house that Santa puts a Terry’s Chocolate Orange in our stockings Christmas morning.  And, to be honest, it’s the only time of year that I have one.  Some have the family now prefer the darker version.  I still like the milk version.  So when I was browsing through my cookery emails (BBC Good Food) I spied this little beauty, and had to try it.

Terry's chocolate orange

Terry’s chocolate orange

I’ve adjusted the recipe as the original doesn’t make a big enough dessert, I’ve also used Chocolate Orange Digestives in the base, for an extra kick of chocolate AND orange.

Chocolate and Orange Cheesecake


300g Chocolate Orange Digestives

140g melted butter

400g soft cream cheese (I use Philadelphia)

350ml cream

200g icing sugar

2 Terry’s Chocolate Oranges


Crush the biscuits and mix well with the melted butter to make the base.  Press this into a loose ring cake tin (8”) and leave to set in the fridge.

Meanwhile melt 1 1/5 of the chocolate oranges and set aside.  As an aside, we do not have a microwave, so I always give a warning if melting chocolate in the microwave- it’s SO EASY to burn.

Whip together the cream cheese and the icing sugar.  In a separate bowl whip the cream until soft peaks form.  Add this to the cream cheese mix, and fold gently but well until completely combined.

At this stage I move some of this mix into the “cream” bowl.  Then add the melted chocolate into the main mixture.  This gets mixed well, and then I swirl the “cream” bowl mix through to give a fancy pattern!

Then carefully add the whole lot onto the cold biscuit base.  Refrigerate until set, approx. 5 hours.

Remove carefully from the tin, pipe some freshly whipped cream onto it and decorate with the extra orange pieces.

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake