Earl Grey Tea cupcakes: cupcakes with attitude!

Updated: Oct 2018 (new photos)

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. Continue reading “Earl Grey Tea cupcakes: cupcakes with attitude!”

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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. Continue reading “Cocoa brownies with browned butter & walnuts”

Tangy blackcurrant chocolates

 

I have such a weakness for chocolate: mass-produced chocolate often hits the spot but the exquisite ones you can buy in artisan chocolate shops are always a treat. Continue reading “Tangy blackcurrant chocolates”

Spiced chicken & asparagus with a fresh courgette & carrot salad

These are two very simple and quick dishes that go so well together: a spicy chicken stir-fry with a refreshing, full-flavoured vegetable salad. They are also very low-fat, as well as being gluten-free. Continue reading “Spiced chicken & asparagus with a fresh courgette & carrot salad”

Smoked salted caramel & bitter chocolate macarons

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. Continue reading “Smoked salted caramel & bitter chocolate macarons”

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. Continue reading “Warm crab choux bites”

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. Continue reading “quick and easy galangal & lime cake (gluten-free)”

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. Continue reading “The easiest & quickest smoked mackerel pâté in the world!”

Raspberry cascade cake

With baking I am a firm believer that simplicity, done well, can often give the best results. And while I occasionally go for over-the-top-looking creation with cakes, for me it really is flavour that is has to be at the heart of the cake: after all, once a cake has been cut into and has lost some of the visual appeal, you want the flavour to carry on the joy. Continue reading “Raspberry cascade cake”

Savoury macarons: smoked salmon & horseradish

These savoury macarons are my bite-sized version of that treat the list of one of my top food pleasures: smoked salmon on sliced brioche with a thin spreading of caper butter. Continue reading “Savoury macarons: smoked salmon & horseradish”

Earl Grey scones

I love scones so much: with a little clotted cream and jam or home-made fruit curd they are divine. Earl Grey tea scones are one of my favourites and make a perfect accompanyiment to any cream tea – or simply eaten in the garden on a warm day with a pot of tea! Continue reading “Earl Grey scones”

Ginger snowmen macarons

Although I make macarons frequently, it is a first for me to do a macaron shape that is anything other than circular, so having seen meringue versions of snowmen in a shop recently I felt I had to make some as macarons….well, why not?! Continue reading “Ginger snowmen macarons”

My ultimate rich fruit cake

This is an easy fruit cake to make, taking minutes to mix together once the fruits have been soaked. It has bags of flavour, with a nice level of spice and little bursts of moist fruit inside. This fruit cake is suitable for any time of the year, and makes a wonderful wedding cake. Continue reading “My ultimate rich fruit cake”

Raspberry & dark chocolate mousse domes

One of the great joys for me when having Afternoon Tea, in addition to eating the most delectable sweet and savoury treats, is the inspiration I get. I shared one of these entremets as part of an Afternoon Tea a while ago and was blown away by it, not least by the raspberry explosion inside! Continue reading “Raspberry & dark chocolate mousse domes”

Chilli Jam

This is one of the easiest preserves to make and it tastes wonderful.I always make a large batch towards late summer once the chillies are ready in the greenhouse. It is a great way to use up a glut of ripe tomatoes, but this chilli jam works very well using tinned tomatoes. Continue reading “Chilli Jam”

Very easy cherry & chocolate brownies

At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I would claim these to be among the best brownies you can eat. I would be be so proud to serve these to anyone….if I don’t eat them first! Continue reading “Very easy cherry & chocolate brownies”

Roasted onion & smoked cheese scones (gluten-free)

Returning to my savoury roots, and it seems a while since I have posted a savoury recipe, I decided to make some cheese and onion scones, using roasted onion and smoked Cheddar cheese. Continue reading “Roasted onion & smoked cheese scones (gluten-free)”

Bread & butter pickles: spicy, sweet cucumbers

Preserves are terrific partners for good bakes, and these sweet, spiced and crunchy cucumbers are very easy and quick to make. Essentially these sliced cucumbers are bathing happily in a sweetened and spiced vinegar. Continue reading “Bread & butter pickles: spicy, sweet cucumbers”

Gluten-free Victoria Sandwich Cake

This is very much a quick, no-frills affair: utter simplicity and great flavour; what more is needed? The cake takes literally a couple of minutes to mix together, about 20 minutes baking and a few minutes to assemble the cooled sponges. Continue reading “Gluten-free Victoria Sandwich Cake”

Black Forest Gateau with chocolate cherry mirror glaze (Gluten-free)

My current version of Black Forest Gateau, or “cake in drag” as Victoria Wood so deliciously put it, is way over-the-top for sure in terms of the adult flavours…..but I make no apologies for that, as it is an adult dessert cake! Continue reading “Black Forest Gateau with chocolate cherry mirror glaze (Gluten-free)”

Coffee Dacquoise with caramelised hazelnuts

I ate a stunning Dacquoise in a pâtisserie in France very recently and I couldn’t wait to put my spin on it when recreating it back home. Crisp toasted hazelnut meringue layers are sandwiched together with a truly melt-in-the-mouth coffee buttercream, and it is topped with a very simple shiny chocolate glaze. Continue reading “Coffee Dacquoise with caramelised hazelnuts”

Mini Gluten-free Pistachio Fraisiers using left-overs!

 

Further to posting my version of a large Fraisier a few weeks ago, I decided to make another large one for this month’s Clandestine Cake Club – this time going for a gluten-free version. And with left over elements, I also went for mini Fraisiers. Continue reading “Mini Gluten-free Pistachio Fraisiers using left-overs!”

Orange & cranberry macarons

After using orange, cranberry and white chocolate as the key flavours in a dessert cake I was making, I found I had a fair bit of ganache left over….so macarons were called for! Continue reading “Orange & cranberry macarons”

Two flavours of savoury biscotti

As moreish as sweet biscotti unquestionably are, savoury biscotti are in a slightly higher league for me, but then more-ish savoury food is one of my weaknesses! Continue reading “Two flavours of savoury biscotti”

Pistachio & passionfruit shortbreads

Mini pistachio shortbreads, topped them with fresh passion fruit curd and coated in white chocolate. Passionfruit and white chocolate go so well together that these are really not difficult to eat!

A gluten-free version:

I have also made these by replacing the plain flour in the recipe with gluten-free bread flour. I tend to use Dove’s plain flour.

The biscuits are very melt-in-the-mouth and, as should be the case with gluten-free bakes, you really shouldn’t be able to tell that they are gluten-free.

Other fruit curds:

For other curds (lemon, orange, strawberry, raspberry are other favourites of mine) replace the passion fruit juice with the juice of the fruit you want: puréed and strained in the case of raspberries and strawberries.

As a guideline I would use about 4 lemons or 3 oranges in the recipe below. Or 200g raspberries or strawberries. But add extra if you prefer.

Pistachio shortbreads with passionfruit & white chocolate (makes about 50 mini shortbreads)

Pistachio shortbread:

  • 140g plain flour
  • 50g pistachios, ground very finely
  • 95g vanilla caster sugar
  • 140g unsalted butter, softened
  • generous pinch of salt

Passionfruit curd

  • juice from 12 passion fruit
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 120g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks

To finish:

  • 200g white chocolate
  • 50g dark chocolate

Make the passionfruit curd:

(1) Strain the passionfruit juice into a jug or bowl, getting as much of the juice as you can.

(2) Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and the sugar together lightly and whisk in the passionfruit juice until everything is amalgamated.

(3) Melt the butter over a low heat in a small pan and pour in the rest of the ingredients. Keep stirring over a low heat until the mixture has thickened. Leave to cool, pour into a couple of clean jars and refrigerate until needed. It will keep for a couple of weeks.

Make the shortbread:

(4) Mix the flour, sugar, salt and pistachios in a bowl. Add the butter and rub in just until it comes together to form a soft ball. Cover with clingfilm and chill for at least half an hour.

(5) Roll out the dough to about the thickness of a pound coin: it is easiest rolling it out between two sheets of baking parchment. Cut out small circles of dough using a cutter and transfer to baking sheets lined with baking parchment. Prick each with a fork and chill while you preheat the oven to 160C(fan).

(6) Bake for 8-10 minutes until between pale and light golden. Leave for a few minutes on the baking tray and then transfer carefully to a wire rack to cool.

Assemble:

(7) Spoon or pipe a little of the curd onto the centre of each shortbread. Dip in the white chocolate and place back on the wire rack, chocolate-side up. This can be easier if you freeze the curd-topped shortbreads for about 30 minutes first.

(8) Drizzle over some melted dark or milk chocolate.

Lemongrass & ginger canelés

Canelés have somehow escaped my foodie radar; the first time I ate one – a traditional vanilla flavour – was just a few weeks ago, served with an Afternoon Tea. However, I was so taken by them that I couldn’t wait to make a batch, and have since made several batches of differing flavours! Continue reading “Lemongrass & ginger canelés”

Passion fruit & raspberry swiss roll with passion fruit ganache

When I make patterned Swiss Rolls and other sponges there has to be flavour in the colours and patterns. For patterns, I tend to go for simplicity: usually spots or stripes, but occasionally I go for fancy shapes or lettering across the Swiss Roll. However, stripes are certainly my most common choice. Continue reading “Passion fruit & raspberry swiss roll with passion fruit ganache”

Shortcrust pastry & fool-proof blind-baking

It might be easy to feel daunted when it comes to making pastry, but I hope this post will go some way towards facing any doubts you might have when it comes to shortcrust pastry. I have also included what I think is the most fool-proof way to blind-bake the pastry, giving perfectly cooked pastry and a neat finish. Continue reading “Shortcrust pastry & fool-proof blind-baking”

Wild mushroom tart (gluten-free)

A mixture of rehydrated dried mushrooms and fresh wild mushrooms, cooked down slowly for intensity of flavour, makes a wonderful tart/quiche. Second only to a cheese and onion quiche for me, this is great served warm for so many occasions when good comfort food is the prder of the day. Continue reading “Wild mushroom tart (gluten-free)”

Passionfruit & strawberry custard slices (gluten-free)

Custard slices are one of my favourite teatime sweet treats, even though I don’t have a very sweet tooth! I love the crispness of the pastry, the richness of the crème pâtissière and the stickyness of the fondant topping. Continue reading “Passionfruit & strawberry custard slices (gluten-free)”

Quick & easy gluten-free sausage rolls

I have a great love of sausage rolls: as long as the pastry is light, crisp and buttery and, most crucially, the filling is generously packed with flavour then I am beyond happy! Continue reading “Quick & easy gluten-free sausage rolls”

Gluten-free choux pastry: mini BLT éclairs

These are great gluten-free mini bakes that highlight the fact that gluten-free food need not have the texture and flavour of cardboard or be at all boring! And these were quick to make, with a batch ready to be eaten within 1 hour. Continue reading “Gluten-free choux pastry: mini BLT éclairs”

Coffee, pecan & salted caramel truffle torte

This incredibly indulgent treat is my take on a marvellous cake I ate at a patisserie on holiday ages ago and as soon as I got home I set out to try to recreate its flavours and textures. Continue reading “Coffee, pecan & salted caramel truffle torte”

Roast beef & horseradish canapés

Amazingly easy and ridiculously more-ish, this is a great way to use left over roast beef, not to mention Yorkshire pudding batter if you have any left, although to be honest the batter can be made up in moments! I have also given ideas for some of my favourite savoury and sweet variations. Continue reading “Roast beef & horseradish canapés”

Blackcurrant marshmallow macarons (& “wagarons”!)

I am such a fan of Wagon Wheels but they have become noticeably smaller over the years so I felt I might as well jump on their band wagon(!) and go even smaller, using macarons: after all, miniature things are among the most exciting thing for me to both bake and eat. Continue reading “Blackcurrant marshmallow macarons (& “wagarons”!)”

Traditional scones

Scones are fabulous on their own on a sunny day with a pot of tea, or can brighten up the drearist day with ease, but they are, of course, an important component of Afternoon Tea whether sweet or savoury.
Continue reading “Traditional scones”

Gluten-free orange and rhubarb cupcakes

Carrying on with one of my baking challenges on a gluten-free theme: a theme in which I am aiming for bakes that you would not otherwise know are gluten-free and can stand up against their non-gluten-free counterparts. This time, cupcakes. Continue reading “Gluten-free orange and rhubarb cupcakes”

Macaroons (as opposed to macarons!!)

A few years ago I made what was apparently a significant social faux pas in a restaurant while being served petits fours: when I referred to what I thought were macaroons the waiter, bristling with petulant superciliousness, exclaimed “they are macarons, sir”. All done with a pronunciation that could well have been from an episode of ‘Allo, ‘Allo with an accompanying roll of the eyes! Now, I am not the tallest of people to begin with but at that point I felt positively Lilliputian! Continue reading “Macaroons (as opposed to macarons!!)”

Nut-free Macarons

While I often vary the nuts I use for my macarons, I had never made a macaron that was totally nut-free. As I was to give my students a baking lesson in macarons, being a nut-free school this could have posed something of a challenge…but I thrive on a culinary challenge! Continue reading “Nut-free Macarons”

Savoury Macarons

Although I often go for macarons filled with a fruit ganache, this time I’ve gone for savoury macarons. The light sweetness of the shell is a perfect foil for each of the savoury fillings I have used, with the gentle saltiness coming from the fillings creating a flavour contrast that is, quite simply, divine. Continue reading “Savoury Macarons”

Parmesan and ham tuiles

Insanely simple and quick to make, these are so addictive to eat just as they are or with a glass of wine. Continue reading “Parmesan and ham tuiles”

Perfecting macarons – the queen of confections

If you have ever wanted a fool-proof recipe for making terrific macarons, this is the place to be! Perfect just eaten as they are or used to decorate cakes, macarons are gorgeous little bites of joy. Continue reading “Perfecting macarons – the queen of confections”