Category Easy bakes

Panzanella: arguably one of the finest salads in the world!

Great food does not need to be at all complicated or time-consuming. Sometimes the combination of humble ingredients can become something quite majestic. A panzanella is a case in point and it is certainly one of the easiest and best salads you can have. Taking literally seconds to throw together, it is a celebration of […]

Gorgonzola, pear & walnut cheesecake (savoury)

Whilst a sweet cheesecake can be a thing of great joy, a savoury one is often even more special for me. The flavours of Gorgonzola, pears and walnuts make a great match at any time and here the sweet juicyness of the pears with the sharp kick of balsamic vinegar work well with the rich tangyness of the cheesecake. […]

Spiced crunchy chickpeas

This is a seriously great snack and is particularly ideal to eat on its own, with drinks or to add to salads in place of croutons. These chickpeas are ridiculously moreish: I can eat a whole batch of these quite happily! Flavour all the way! Crunchy chickpeas are certainly nothing new, and recipes abound online. […]

Sourdough baguettes

Shatteringly crisp baguettes, full of flavour and with wonderfully open crumb structure: surely the epitome of baking simplicity! Don’t get me wrong, I love throwing in goodies such as olives, roasted garlic, fresh herbs and the like in with doughs, but the refreshing lack of embellishments here absolutely hit the spot. About this recipe I have […]

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 […]

20-minute sourdough flatbreads

These flatbreads are so easy, so quick and so good with whatever dip or cheese is to hand. You can make a batch within about 20 minutes, including the baking, even going at a fairly sedate pace. The joy of these flatbreads is you simply take some sourdough starter (I use some of the starter […]

Crispy gingerbread cake bites

If you ever have left-over cake (“why would I?”, you might ask!), or have cake that is starting to go stale, these very easy bites will use up the cake for a delicious sweet treat. These are essentially cakey croutons, made by simply drying them at a low temperature in the oven very gently for […]

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 […]

Whole ham with chilli, marmalade and rum glaze

I adore hams, not just around Christmas and the New Year, but at any time of the year. Ham is wonderful eaten hot as the key component of a roast dinner, but for me it is at its best when sliced (thickly!) and served with some good bread, cheese, pickled shallots and a few chutneys: […]

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 […]

Christmas cake bites

This is just a simple variation on a Christmas cake, going for individual bites of cake rather than making a large cake. Inspired by Nigella Lawson’s puddinis (such a fabulous name!), which use left-over Christmas pudding, these instead use some of the Christmas cake mixture I made for this year’s Christmas cake: I simply increased […]

Smoked salted honeycomb

This is my take on honeycomb, playing up to my absolute love of salted caramel by incorporating a little smoked sea salt – an ingredient that is now readily available in supermarkets here in the UK. Honeycomb is fabulous eaten just as it comes, sprinkled over ice cream, added to a rocky road, used to […]

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 […]

Herby sausage rolls

A return to sausage rolls: one of my favourite savoury bites, both to make and to eat. Seriously, a good sausage roll should bring a smile to one’s face and have a very moreish quality: one should never be enough! A far cry from those mass-produced affairs you can buy from high street chain bakeries that […]

Tarte tatin

After a very inspiring run of many years, bringing so many food bloggers together, the Secret Recipe Club is sadly coming to an end. I gate-crashed this wonderful party very late in the game (just a few months ago), but it has been an exciting part of each month: I have discovered new blogs and have cooked my way through […]

Ginger & tamarind sticky toffee pudding

Arguably the ultimate in comfort puddings, this is my take on a sticky toffee pudding: it has the warming kick of spice from ginger and cinnamon, and what I think is a delightfully sour undertone from tamarind that is a subtle counter-balance to the sweetness of the pudding. I like to have an even stickier, […]

Types of olive oil, Jamie’s Italian & my recipe for smoked mozzarella focaccia!

This is a post in collaboration with Jamie Oliver and his Jamie’s Italian restaurants, demonstrating the different types of olive oil and how to use them in cooking. I have also included my recipe for smoked mozzarella and rosemary focaccia. I have long been a fan of Jamie Oliver: especially his no-fuss cooking style, his […]

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. […]

Simple fennel breadsticks – focaccia-style

These are very easy breadsticks to make. They taste wonderful and a large batch can be made at a fraction of the cost of shop-bought breadsticks! Perfect with any dip, although I have photographed these breadsticks with baba ghanoush, that wonderfully smokey aubergine dip (recipe here). I have used quite a lot of water in […]

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 […]

Home-made goats’ cheese

Post updated March 2017: new batch of cheese photos added This is my first ever attempt at making cheese – a cheese that I only started to really enjoy a few years ago, but I absolutely adore it now and use it often in my baking. One of my favourite uses of goats’ cheese is […]

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 […]

English breakfast muffins

Updated Feb 2017: new photos of the muffins Perfect sliced, toasted and buttered, English muffins (well, “muffins” to those of us brought up in the UK!) are very simple to make and require very little attention. And as with most home-made breads, they taste so much better than any you can buy – and for […]

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 […]

Easy seeded flatbreads with sun-dried tomato hummus

Two incredibly simple things to make that go so well together: a really perfect dip to share as a snack, a starter, part of a picnic…….. The hummus is made in seconds and will keep for a few days, covered, in the fridge. The bread can also me made in advance and frozen if preferred: […]

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 […]

Very easy anchovy, onion & garlic focaccia

Focaccia remains up there in my top 3 breads, in terms of making and eating, and while a standard focaccia is a delight, I love experimenting with flavours. This focaccia, made with utter ease and minimal effort in a mixer, is laden with gorgeous salty anchovies and the lovely sweetness you get from roasted garlic and roasted onions. […]

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 […]

Easy spiced brioche pudding in a lemongrass custard

Essentially this is my take on bread and butter pudding, using a spiced brioche loaf I had left over. I often make this pudding with left-over hot cross buns around Easter, which gives a very creamy and indulgent hot cross bun flavour throughout, but this works well with any bread, brioche, even stale croissants……. While this […]

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 […]

The simplest asparagus & chicken tart

This is a very simple tart using what is the last of this year’s allotment asparagus, the rest of some chicken breasts I had gently poached for another dish and some general left-over bits and pieces. I always have a stash of all-butter puff pastry in the freezer for quick bakes such as these and […]

Bruschetta: when simplicity reigns!

Bruschetta is one of those things that cannot fail to put a smile on my face when I eat it. Perfect as a starter, served with barbeque food or just as a light bite at any time of the day, one slice is never enough. Bruschetta is a very quick and easy to make: as […]

Spiced prawn and crab spring rolls

This is my version of spring rolls, using some left-over filo pastry I had made for another bake and ingredients that I adore to eat. The rolls are very easy to make and a large batch can be made up and frozen until you want to cook them. The filling carries a hefty wallop of […]

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 […]

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 […]

The easiest & quickest smoked mackerel pâté in the world!

This is an insanely simple and almost instant smoked mackerel pâté that is seriously big on flavour – perfect spread liberally on hot toast or eaten with a baguette as part of a light snack. The pickled gherkins are quite wonderful in here and really lift the pâté somewhat: I tend use use the sliced […]

The simplest cheese, caraway & walnut biscuits

These are very simple and tasty savoury biscuits that are an ideal vehicle for a gutsy dip, eaten with a cheese and chutney, or munched on just as they are. You can use any cheese, but a cheese that packs a punch flavour-wise is perfect. Favourites of mine include Parmesan, mature Cheddar, Stilton and Comté […]

Absolute Spice: product review & recipe ideas

I love focusing on flavour in my bakes; flavour is by far the key consideration when I am baking, whether I am recreating a favourite bake or working on a new idea. And excellent quality ingredients are always my priority. I was very fortunate to have received some spices from Absolute Spice and I cannot stop using them! In fact […]

Mustard & caramelised onion sausage rolls

A slight variation on one of my favourite savoury bakes, sausage rolls. See earlier post for the main recipe: The very best sausage rolls…. I used a quick mustard rough-puff pastry here, going for just 2 “turns”: for this, increase the mustard powder in the dough to 4 teaspoons, which will give a nice kick among the […]

Easy sourdough crumpets

I am of the belief that a hot crumpet, slathered with butter, perhaps with some excellent quality jam, is one of life’s greatest foodie pleasures. These are very simple crumpets, that are also relatively quick to make if you have an active sourdough starter: a batch can be made in about an hour. If you […]

Quick & easy version of the “After Dark Gü-Zillionaires’ Puddings”

This is my fairly quick, but certainly very easy version of the gorgeous After Dark Gü-Zillionaires’ Puddings: chocolatey biscuit base with layers of luscious cheesecake with a hint of treacle, salted caramel and finished with a soft dark chocolate ganache. A very naughty, but once-in-a-while treat! They can be made a couple of days in advance […]

Bread: tips & ideas for the novice home baker and upwards!

This post is part of my Baking tips page, along with tips for macarons, croissants, cake decorating ideas and pastry. Introduction The best tip I can give Ingredients for standard bread loaves Mixing & kneading (and the “stretching and folding” approach) Rising Shaping (free-form, baguettes & bâtards; rolls; flatter breads) Baking Adding a pre-ferment (poolish) […]

Perfecting Baguettes

I have tried for some time to make a baguette that is a few levels up from just a shaped piece of dough – whether that happens to be a typically yeasted dough or a sourdough. This approach gives the most tremendous results in terms of flavour and structure.  A real artisanal bread, and a […]

Parmesan and ham tuiles

An insanely simple bake, these are so moreish to eat just as they are or with a glass of wine. While making flour-based tuiles is fun, this is the more instant approach and you always get a melt-in-the-mouth crunch. But although these are easy to make, you need to guard against over-baking: check them after 4 […]

Gougères & other fabulous savoury choux bites

A crunchy exterior giving way to the lightest, most delicate pillows of cheesy indulgence, gougères make fabulous little nibbles/canapés. They are lovely just as they come, ideally served warm, but they are wonderful filled with all manner of goodies (see below). Gougères are essentially savoury choux pastry into which cheese has been added and are very […]

Focaccia: higher hydration, no knead

This is my take on a standard focaccia, going for a higher water content than many recipes, handling the dough differently and letting the dough sit in the fridge overnight for its first prove (bulk fermentation) to really develop its flavour. A good focaccia is hard to beat: not too thick with a crisp exterior […]

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