Category Afternoon Tea

Choux buns with blackcurrant craquelin & blackcurrant and white chocolate cream

Who doesn’t love a choux bun or éclair? Crisp pastry, creamy filling and a sticky topping…..such a treat! And they are so simple to make, yet look deceptively difficult. This time, however, I have made a batch with a crunchy biscuit topping, a craquelin: I have eaten choux buns with a craquelin topping on several […]

Neapolitan gateau

This is a cake version of my partner’s favourite ice cream from childhood: a Neapolitan (or Harlequin), an ice cream block with layers of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream. I made this cake for our birthdays (a day apart, so it happily served 2 purposes!). For the flavours here I have gone for: vanilla and […]

Orange and pistachio madeleines

Sweet, buttery and melt-in-the-mouth, madeleines are a treat for any occasion. I have gone for madeleines that are flavoured with ground pistachios and orange zest. This recipe is my variation on Michel Roux Jnr’s recipe for madeleines: I have just flavoured the batter with pistachios and orange zest. For a plain, though no less enticing […]

Pistachio and lemon macarons

When it comes to macarons, I have a penchant for fruity ones: the sharpness of a punchy filling with the sweetness of the shell hits the spot for me every time. Ever since I finally got to grips with macarons a few years ago (after literally dozens of failed attempts), I like to make a […]

“Death by chocolate” drip cake

  Moist chocolate sponge, white chocolate & vanilla buttercream and dark chocolate ganache combine to give a somewhat naughty chocolate cake: but then a chocolate cake that is not naughty is rarely worth having! I made this cake for my A Level students recently as part of our department’s annual Chocolate Cake Challenge. About the […]

Blackcurrant and mint fondant fancies

Blackcurrant and mint make a truly wonderful combination, and used together here you have a particularly vibrant and refreshing cake. These fondant fancies (yes, another fondant fancy flavour – not that I have an addiction to fondant fancies, you understand!), are light and so tangy, with just a hint of mint. If you are not a fan […]

Lemon sherbet cruffins (quirky viennoiserie!)

  This is my take on cruffins: rich, buttery croissant pastries baked in muffin tins. For this batch I have gone for a tangy lemon filling, dusted with a lemon sherbet-esque caster sugar. For added zing, I have topped these cruffins with lemon icing and a few dried raspberry pieces. One mouthful and you feel as […]

Tomato and basil English muffins

This my savoury twist on classic English breakfast muffins: these are wonderful toasted and liberally buttered: the butter has to be liberal, and low-fat spreads and the like do not do justice to these muffins! The dough is flavoured with sun-dried tomatoes, for that amazing umami kick, and fresh basil. Together with the soft, pillowy dough, […]

Chocolate and orange surprise cake!

Ok, the surprise might not be up there with the denoument of a great murder mystery story, but this cake always evokes “oohs” and “ahhs” when cut into. When you cut into it you get vertical layers rather than the horizontal layers you normally get with a cake. Granted, you might not have fallen off […]

Pina colada fondant fancies

These miniature cakes are my homage to the classic pina colada – my favourite cocktail; seriously, I never tire of this cocktail! A fondant fancy is a thing of great joy, and always trasnpirt me back to childhood – albeit without the rum in this case! Every time I have made these fondant fancies they have gone very quickly: […]

Blueberry and raspberry macarons

I have been making many batches of macarons in recent weeks – sadly not all for me: most have been for friends, with a few macarons from some of my batches used for temperature testing for a recent post. Raspberries are one of my favourite fruits and I need little excuse to use these in sweet bakes: […]

The effect of different oven temperatures in baking

While baking is one of the most rewarding aspects of cookery, it can, nonetheless, be frustrating – especially when things do not work. Now things not working can occur when trying out a new recipe for the first time, error with the techniques or even when baking a reliable favourite that has never yet failed……..and […]

Easy beetroot, goats’ cheese & walnut tart

This is a very simple tart that is great eaten either hot or cold and is, for me, tart that can be enjoyed at any time of the year, although it is one of my “go to” summer bakes. It can be assembled in minutes so that is is merely a matter of baking the […]

Orange and passionfruit fondant fancies

A shop-bought fondant fancy is very much a guilty pleasure of mine, but they are fun to make. And of course when making them you can go for whatever flavour you want, going for flavours that are not sold in the shops! Fruity, tangy and fragrant, these fondant fancies have a light orange sponge and a tangy […]

Salted caramel shortbreads

This is my take on Millionaire’s Shortbread, but slightly jazzed up: a real excuse for indulgence – but is an excuse ever needed? Essentially, you have a buttery shortbread base, topped with a generous amount of salted caramel and coated in thick milk chocolate. A real treat for chocolate lovers and caramel lovers. It’s salted caramel all […]

Rhubarb & ginger Battenberg cake

The power of baking in evoking happy memories of childhood is one of the many reasons baking is such an addiction for me; a Battenberg cake never fails to transport me back to being a child again, when slices of Battenberg were handed out as a real teatime treat. I adore Battenberg, and while a coffee and […]

Spiced lime & poppy seed bundt drizzle cake

This very easy cake has bags of flavour. In my view, a bundt cake, as indeed any cake, should not be at all apathetic – no matter how ornate it looks: it absolutely needs to have the “wow” factor in the flavour, too. Using my first “proper” bundt tin, this is my bundt version of […]

Cashew nut & cocoa nib snaps

These biscuits, which are a cross between brandy snaps and florentines, are incredibly easy and quick to make, with a batch made and ready to eat in under 30 minutes. The snaps are perfect eaten just as they are, or served with coffee or tea after a meal. They also make excellent edible gifts. About […]

Pea and ham filo bites

This is a such a simple bake, and is ideal using left-over ham at Christmas and bits and bobs lurking around: frozen peas, a dollop of chutney and mustard……The actual proportions are only a guideline, so add more or less depending on what you have to hand. It can be made even speedier using bought […]

No-fuss sticky gingerbread cake

This is an incredibly simple gingerbread cake: it is very moist, with jewels of stem ginger throughout and the underlying heat of spice from the ground ginger. The icing has a ginger kick with a nice lime zing to it – two flavours that are made for each other. The cake takes literally moments to […]

Quick & easy Cherry, walnut & maple syrup pastries

These are very quick and easy treats: small sweet pastries that are crisp, buttery and wonderfully sticky: quite fabulous served with coffee or tea! Measurements not essential here! For pastries such as these, whether sweet or savoury, I confess that I do not measure out the filling ingredients; I just sprinkle over enough to give a light covering […]

Luxury orange shortbread mince pies with a macaroon topping

I usually prefer to make mince pies using shortbread dough rather than pastry: it makes them more special than a standard pastry mince pie and it is really no harder to make. Besides, Christmas would not be Christmas without shortbread! And whenever I have made these mince pies, they have gone very quickly. These are also easy […]

Lemon, strawberry & Prosecco cake

Although I made this particular cake for a colleague’s wedding, I have made smaller one-tier versions of this cake, without much in the way of elaborate decorations, on many an occasion. A case of when simplicity absolutely reigns! The sponge is a standard Victoria Sandwich, with the addition of finely grated lemon zest. The buttercream is […]

Spiced chocolate and orange bundt cake

Deeply chocolatey, with the sharp citrus kick of candied orange and a warming hint of spice work together very well in this easy, no fuss cake. Sticky bundts! This is my first ever bundt, so I feel I am coming very late to the bundt party that has been something of a craze for the past […]

Lemon & thyme drizzle layer cake

This is a very refreshing cake, pushing into dessert territory. the filling and icing can be spooned over and swirled for ease, or piped: it is purely personal choice! Essentially it is a layered lemon drizzle cake, filled and topped with a mixture of cream and lemon curd. I have added fresh lemon thyme to the […]

Mocha walnut pavlova

I have not made a pavlova for a few years, but it is always lovely to re-visit an occasional bake such as this. Rather than go for many layers of meringue, I went for one thick layer as the base, which was then topped with the cream and the wonderful coffee, walnuts and dark chocolate. […]

Pimms cocktail jaffa cakes

Very much an adult jaffa cake, this version of jaffa cakes uses Pimms as the base for the jelly, along with fresh orange juice, a hint of mint, a touch of lemon and just enough sugar to sweeten it without taking away from the flavour of the Pimms and the fruit. A real taste of […]

Gluten-free orange & blackberry polenta cake: Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning

This is a recipe given to me by Macmillan to try out, ahead of this year’s Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning. It is a very moist, light cake and it tastes wonderful. It is also very easy to bake. I would recommend making several of these orange polenta cakes for the Coffee Morning as they […]

Salted Honey Tart

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment, I was allocated Emily’s delightful Life on Food blog. I love Emily’s enjoyment of creating meals from scratch: it’s a great approach to food and I share her feelings on how rewarding it is to do this. I also love the idea of Emily’s annual trips to Disneyland: I […]

Cinnamon & orange Viennese biscuits

Melt-in-the-mouth is never more the case than with Viennese biscuits or Viennese whirls or any variation on this classic biscuit. They can be served simply dusted with icing sugar, dipped in chocolate or sandwiched together with jam and a little vanilla buttercream – although they can take any flavour combination within! I went for several […]

Spiced lamb & pistachio rolls with spiced pastry

I am such a fan of sausage rolls; with a well-flavoured filling and light, melt-in-the-mouth pastry, they never fail to give me a feeling of total satisfaction when eating them! Sadly sausage rolls are much-abused in my opinion, especially most of the commercial ones which are often little more than cheap meat and dry, tasteless pastry. Ever since […]

Coloured Mirror glazes: as simple or as elaborate as you want…..

NB: while some of these attempts are practices done on a flat surface, the spiced orange & rum cake, the Purple Rain coffee and rum cake, the blood orange & raspberry cake and the planet cake are real cakes. I will post recipes for these in due course, but feel free to contact me in the meantime about […]

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Cake: chocolate cake with Earl Grey tea buttercream

Sections in this post Tea with the Mad Hatter Layers of cake Shaping the hat Hiding cracks & blemishes on a fondant-iced cake Assembling the cake Recipes for the cake and the Earl Grey tea buttercream Other recipe links Clandestine Cake Club This post gives the recipe for the cake, the buttercream as well as how to […]

Simple roasted coffee shortbread – with no rolling out

Shortbread is the first thing I ever made as a young boy and I love coming back to it, either making a very traditional shortbread (what can beat that?) or a flavoured variation. A bake for all! Shortbread is also a very simple thing to make and is a particularly great bake for people who are […]

Roasted coffee bean butter: a great ingredient for coffee lovers

I am so excited to share this post for roasted coffee bean butter. Coffee is one of my favourite flavours, almost beating chocolate for me. This butter, which is basically freshly ground coffee beans infused with hot butter, has a very rich, deep coffee flavour that you simply cannot get close to when using either instant coffee […]

Strawberry & lemon dacquoise: with a cheat’s version!

A dacquoise is a wonderful dessert in its own right. I made this one for my partner’s birthday cake as a more dessert-type feel was wanted. It is essentially pavlova with more bite to it: meringue with toasted nuts in the mixture. A real melt-in-the-mouth dessert with a deep nutty flavour. This version, with the nutty meringue being […]

Earl Grey Tea cupcakes: cupcakes with attitude!

Post updated: June 2017 (additional photos of a more recent batch) Cupcakes need two key things to work, in my opinion: a light and nicely flavoured sponge and a very well-flavoured, not-too-sweet icing that melts in the mouth. Those dry sponge affairs with a mass of sickly icing that tastes of nothing other than sugar […]

Quick and very easy peach Danish pastries

These are very simple and utterly delicious Danish pastries, made using a short-cut croissant dough, a dough that takes just 20-30 minutes to make, plus time for the made-up dough to chill before using. Seriously, this particular croissant dough is quite fool-proof. And for even more speed, rather than make a custard to fill the pastries, I […]

Cocoa brownies with browned butter & walnuts

  For my second assignment with the Secret Recipe Club, I was allocated Erin’s wonderful The Spiffy Cookie blog from which to choose a recipe. Erin has a magnificent blog; it is a great source of foodie inspiration and is packed with recipes you just want to make. And the name The Spiffy Cookie is wonderful. Erin also […]

Simple ginger & lemon iced biscuits

Crisp ginger shortbreads topped with lemon royal icing! A few dried raspberry pieces on the icing add colour and further tangy flavour, but small pieces of stem ginger or candied lemon peel work wonderfully. The mixture for the biscuits themselves take moments to make up. They can be baked in advance and stored in an airtight container until you […]

Easy ham, cheese & mustard croissant whirls

Although an unembellished home-made croissant is a truly wonderful thing to eat, savoury variations excite me hugely! This version, using cheese, ham and mustard as the key flavours, is my favourite savoury one by far : simple flavours that make these light, crisp pastries ridiculously addictive to eat, whether served cold or warm. Ham and cheese! Black Forest ham […]

Passion fruit & peach tarts (lower-fat!)

Inspired by a passion fruit pannacotta I had a few months ago, these are very simple fragrant tarts that I made for a friend’s birthday: the tarts have a full-on passion fruit flavour, a kick of rum-soaked peaches and the richness of white chocolate in the background. Ideal for a party, buffet or any occasion when you […]

Afternoon Tea review: The Four Seasons, Dogmersfield, Hampshire

The photos I took for this post are of bakes prepared by The Four Seasons, Dogmersfield, Hampshire Simple, non-fussy food, prepared with heart, always ticks the boxes for me when eating at home or with friend, and I often favour this approach when eating out. When it comes to Afternoon Tea, however, when being spoilt rotten is an integral part […]

Chocolate & cherry brioches

This is my chocolate and cherry version of a brioche: very rich, with a buttery interior that is actually very light to eat and practically melts in the mouth. A filled brioche might not be the done thing but I will not lose any sleep over that! As I wanted dark chocolate and rum-soaked cherries […]

Orange & vanilla rum babas

Surely it is time for a full-on revival of these fabulous 1970s dessert trolley staples? Rum babas should have a beautifully light texture, a rich buttery flavour and a real adult kick of indulgence from the rum. They are, I think, a winning end to any meal, a great sweet treat as part of an Afternoon Tea […]

Lemongrass custard tarts

Smoked salted caramel & bitter chocolate macarons

Post updated: August 2016 At the risk of tumbling shamelessly into the world of the melodramatic, I would go so far as saying that these particular macarons are to die for. The shells, which have some walnuts in them (just enough to give a hint), are sprinkled with smoked sea salt before baking. Now I love salted […]

Hot-smoked salmon & horseradish tart (low-fat)

This is a very simple, low-fat tart using hot-smoked salmon: one of my favourite ways of eating salmon! With its rich, deep, smoky flavour a little goes a long way: about 200g of the salmon will make this tart, with generous chunks of salmon in each bite. Very little is needed in the filling with […]

Warm crab choux bites

This is my version of a canapé I had in a restaurant ages ago. These are simple, but highly effective little savoury bites: light choux pastry, flavoured subtly with cheese and mustard, and filled with a simple fresh white crab meat sauce. I use mayonnaise in the filling so that as the choux heat up, […]

quick and easy galangal & lime cake (gluten-free)

This is a very simple and quite speedy cake that can made and iced within an hour. The sponge is flavoured with galangal, which gives a lovely subtle spicy flavour, although you can use ground ginger for a more potent kick. I have gone for a very simple and quick rich cream cheese icing, flavoured […]