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! Continue reading “Spiced crunchy chickpeas”

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. Continue reading “Mocha walnut pavlova”

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. Continue reading “Gluten-free orange & blackberry polenta cake: Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning”

Earl Grey Tea cupcakes: cupcakes with attitude!

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!”

Quick and easy chicken, peach & Feta salad

This very simple and very low-fat salad is made in moments and is an immensely satisfying dish in its own right, not to mention being one of the nicest salads you can eat. And while this is a healthy salad, it doesn’t taste healthy – a bonus in my book! Continue reading “Quick and easy chicken, peach & Feta salad”

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”

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)”

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”

A very special 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, not just at Christmas. Continue reading “A very special Rich Fruit cake”

Treacle tart with a hint of orange

For me, a treacle tart is the epitome of comfort food, especially with the nights drawing in and the temperature outside dropping of an evening! Continue reading “Treacle tart with a hint of orange”

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”

Pimms macarons with Pimms ganache & minted cucumber jelly

A challenging but rewarding bake, this is a taste of summer in each mouthful: these macarons are sandwiched together with a Pimms ganache and small pieces of a sweetened cucumber and mint jelly: you really can’t have Pimms without the cucumber! Continue reading “Pimms macarons with Pimms ganache & minted cucumber jelly”

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

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 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”

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”

Cauliflower cheese & roasted garlic bites

Cheesy, garlicky and intensely savoury, these deep-golden little bites are a cross between mini muffins and soufflés. They are great eaten warm as canapés or just to graze on as a snack! Continue reading “Cauliflower cheese & roasted garlic bites”

Carrot cake with white chocolate & cream cheese icing

I had not made a carrot cake in decades, but was delighted to have been asked by a former student if I would make a carrot cake for her wedding. As I made far too much mixture, I also made a batch of cupcakes with the excess, along with a loaf-sized carrot cake – the recipe for which I give here. Continue reading “Carrot cake with white chocolate & cream cheese icing”

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.

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”

Quick & easy gluten-free crab & chilli tarts

Very simple tarts, bursting with flavour! The filling is rich with crab, it is very juicy and it has just a kick of chilli which works so well with crab. Continue reading “Quick & easy gluten-free crab & chilli tarts”

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 & chocolate choux buns

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 two batches ready to eat in about an hour. Continue reading “Gluten-free choux pastry: mini BLT éclairs & chocolate choux buns”

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”

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”

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”

Butternut Squash Muffins

The idea for these savoury muffins came to me while picking the last of our allotment squashes, appealing to my penchant for making savoury twists on sweet standards.  When roasted, squashes take on a gorgeous flavour, giving a subtle yet distinct flavour. Continue reading “Butternut Squash Muffins”