Cardamom Carrot Cake with Honeyed Rose Cream and Figs

Cakes, Uncategorized

At last we approach fig season- one of my absolute favourite fruits, and so synonymous with Middle Eastern cuisine that it would be wrong to incorporate them into a bake which didn’t boast nuts, heady spices or sweet floral flavours; of course this cake contains all three, making it one of my favourite recipes I’ve posted on here to date. It’s not too sweet, nor is the icing too heavy, just a well balanced, flavoursome bake with flavours which work beautifully together. I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients

For the cakes

  • 100g chopped dried figs
  • zest and juice 1 orange
  • 2-3tbsp rose water
  • 250g butter, cubed
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 400g grated carrot
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • large pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 heaped tsp ground cardamom
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 100g pistachios, roughly chopped

For the icing

  • 300ml double cream
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 3tbsp honey
  • 2-3tbsp rose water

Optional

  • 50g chopped pistachios
  • 1tbsp dried rose petals
  • 4-5 figs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line two 7 inch cake tins.
  2. Roughly chop the figs and discard the stalks. Tip into a bowl and add the orange juice and rose water. Leave to soak until required.
  3. In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) cream together the butter and both sugars until pale and thick. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition (add a small amount of the flour with each egg to prevent curdling).
  4. Stir through the grated carrot and soaked figs (along with any juice the figs haven’t absorbed). Mix together the dry ingredients and pistachios and fold through the batter until no streaks of flour remain.
  5. Split the batter between the prepared tins and level off. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  6. Let the cakes sit in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile, place the cream, cream cheese, honey and rose water in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until pipe-able. Adjust the levels of sweetness and rose flavour to taste.
  8. Once the cakes have cooled down, slice them in half horizontally, leaving you with 4  equal layers. Pile the rose and honey cream into a piping bag with round nozzle. Place the first layer onto a serving plate and pipe little mounds all over the surface, then top with the next layer. Repeat until all the cream mixture is used up, then sprinkle rose petals and pistachios over the top and arrange the figs in an attractive way, if using.

Strawberry and Elderflower Sorbet

Uncategorized

London has reached a Monica’s-massive-hair level of humid, so sorbet seems like the only sensible thing to make. Strawberries are a must this month (I know they’re linked with Wimbledon- that’s where my knowledge of tennis starts and ends), so I’ve used them to create a fresh puree which forms the base of this sorbet, along with elderflower cordial.

Ingredients

  • 800g fresh strawberries, stalks removed
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50ml elderflower cordial
  • 20ml water

Method

  1. Blitz the strawberries with a hand blender or in a food processor, then pass through a sieve. Discard the seeds. Weigh out 650ml of puree.
  2. Place the caster sugar, cordial and water in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Pop the syrup and the puree in the fridge until both are chilled, then stir together.
  3. Taste and add stir in a little more elderflower cordial, if necessary. Tip into an ice cream churner and churn until smooth and thick.
  4. Decant the sorbet into an airtight container and leave to freeze for at least 3 hours. Take the sorbet out of the freezer around 10 minutes before you’d like to serve it.

Burnt Butter Caramel and Raspberry Brownies

Chocolate, Uncategorized

Another iteration of my all-time favourite bake, this time with fresh raspberries offset by oozing pockets of burnt butter caramel (inspired by Chin Chin Lab’s burnt butter caramel nitro ice cream). Brownies might not seem like the obvious thing to make mid-summer, but as these are studded with some token summer berries and can therefore be deemed seasonal, you should probably make them.

Ingredients

For the caramel

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 60ml double cream
  • Pinch salt

For the brownie

  • 250g butter
  • 150g 80% dark chocolate
  • 100g 70% dark chocolate
  • 3 eggs, 1 egg yolk
  • 100g light brown soft sugar, 75g caster sugar
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 100g rye flour
  • 100g good quality milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 250g fresh raspberries

Method

  1. Start off by making the caramel. To do this place the sugar in a saucepan and heat gently. Meanwhile, place the butter in a small pan and melt until just past browned (it should be foaming and have little brown specks in the bottom), then take off the heat.
  2. At this point the sugar will have started to dissolve. Swirl the pan until the sugar melts entirely, then allow it to reach a deep golden brown colour. Now add in the burnt butter and cream, stirring until it comes together. Remove from the heat and add the salt. Pour the caramel into a baking paper-lined container and leave to firm up for around half an hour. Preheat the oven to 180c and line a brownie tin with baking paper.
  3. While the caramel is setting, make the brownie batter. Roughly chop the dark chocolate and tip into a heatproof bowl. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat gently until melted. Up the heat and brown until foaming (as before), then pour directly over the chocolate. Let it sit for a moment, then stir to create a smooth glossy mixture.
  4. Meanwhile, place the eggs and egg yolk, both sugars and salt in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until pale and voluminous.
  5. Pour the chocolate down the side of the bowl and fold in, then add the flour and fold again.
  6. Chop the set caramel into rough pieces and set aside. Scape half the brownie batter into the lined tin and level out. Evenly distribute half the caramel pieces, chocolate chunks and raspberries then scrape over the remaining chocolate. Repeat the process with the caramel, chocolate and raspberries then bake for 25-35 minutes or until crisp and flaky on top but still fudgy (with a slight wobble) in the middle.
  7. Leave to cool completely in the tin then slice up an serve.

Classic Chocolate Fudge Cake (Gluten Free)

Cakes, Uncategorized

I can never understand why gluten free options are, not always but so often, dry, dense and disappointing. I’m not a coeliac myself and am not a fan of demonising gluten, however, if you are genuinely unable to enjoy it then I’m a firm believer that there should and can be delicious alternatives! This cake is the first of many gluten free versions of classic baking staples I’m planning, and seriously, it’s so moreish it brings a tear to my eye (deeply melodramatic but you get the message).

Ingredients

For the cakes (makes one 7-8 inch sandwich cake)

  • 200g ground almonds
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • generous pinch salt
  • 175ml boiling water
  • 2tsp instant coffee
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 225ml vegetable oil

For the ganache 

  • 300ml double cream
  • 200g 70% dark chocolate
  • 100g mik chocolate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line two 7-8 inch cake tins.
  2. Stir the almonds, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a small bowl. Mix the cocoa, coffee and boiling water together in a jug until smooth and set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs, oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl (or in a stand mixer with paddle attachment) until pale and thick.
  4. Add the cocoa mix and continue whisking until you have a fairly liquid cake batter with no streaks. Add the almond mixture down the side of the bowl and fold in gently.
  5. Split the batter between the two tins and bake for 35-45 minutes until a skewer comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.
  6. While the cake is baking, make the ganache. Finely chop the chocolate and pop it in a heatproof bowl. Meanwhile, pour the cream into a saucepan and set over a medium heat. When it reaches scalding point (just before a simmer), take off the heat and pour directly over the chocolate. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then stir to create a smooth, glossy ganache. Allow this to cool and thicken to a spreadable consistency (15 minutes in the fridge once cooled to room temperature helps achieve this).
  7. Once the cakes are baked leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
  8. To assemble your cake, level off your cakes if necessary, then fill and cover with ganache.

Enjoy!

Espresso, Pecan & Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

Biscuits, Uncategorized

These cookie sandwiches are a culmination of my three favourite things; coffee, chocolate and ice cream. The pecans add crunch, and the bitter note of espresso prevents the result from being overly sweet. There’s not a lot else to say- other than go forth and make them (but proceed with caution, they’re like crack).

Ingredients (makes 10-12 cookie sandwiches, with a little extra cookie dough which will freeze well)

For the ice cream

  • 400ml double cream
  • 400ml whole milk
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 150g caster sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 30g good quality instant coffee

For the cookies

  • 225g soft unsalted butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 175g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • generous pinch salt
  • 150g plain flour
  • 125g rye flour
  • 75g roughly chopped pecans
  • 100g roughly chopped dark chocolate (70%)

Method

  1. Start off by making the ice cream. To do this, pour the double cream, milk and instant coffee into a saucepan and set over a medium heat. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until pale and thick. Once the instant coffee has dissolved into the cream mixture, bring it to a simmer then take off the heat and gradually add into the eggs and sugar, whisking constantly until well combined.
  2. Pass the mixture through a sieve into a clean saucepan, then heat gently, stirring until thick (make sure the custard doesn’t get too hot, or you’ll be left with something that looks a bit like scrambled eggs!). Pass the thickened custard through a sieve into a bowl, then close cover with cling film and leave to cool completely (I like to chill the custard at this point to make sure it’s as cold as possible before churning, but it’s not absolutely necessary).
  3. Once cooled, pour the custard into an ice cream maker and churn until creamy and thick. Line a shallow square/rectangular baking tin (about 2-3cm deep) with cling film and scrape the churned ice cream into it. Level off, cover with cling film and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours, until fully set. At this point you can cut the ice cream into rounds using a 3-4 inch cookie cutter, then cover and return the rounds to the freezer until required.
  4. For the cookies, place the butter and both sugars in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until pale and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the bicarbonate of soda, salt and both flours and very briefly mix again until combined. Now stir in the pecans and chocolate with a wooden spoon. Chill the cookie dough for 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper and space tablespoons of cookie dough over them, allowing plenty of room for spreading. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until soft in the middle but golden in colour. At about 8-10 minutes into baking, take the baking tray and bang it on the work top in one sharp movement. This allows the cookie to spread a little and ensures the perfect thickness. Repeat the process until you’ve used up the cookie dough, then leave the cookies to cool.
  6. For a neat result, you can cut the cookies into perfect circles with the cutter you used for the ice cream, but this isn’t essential.
  7. Once the cookies have cooled, sandwich two together with a round of espresso ice cream.

Enjoy!

Rhubarb, Cardamom and White Chocolate Frangipane Tart

Pastry, Uncategorized

Tart rhubarb and sweet white chocolate is a delicious flavour pairing, and one I will keep returning to for the duration of the rhubarb season. In this bake I’ve applied the combination to a classic frangipane tart, using rhubarb compote in place of jam, and a filling studded with chocolate chunks and flavoured with cardamom. It’s a winner, and in my opinion, better than the standard strawberry variety (controversial).

Ingredients (enough for one 7.5 inch wide/ roughly 2 inch deep tart tin- serves 8)

For the pastry (there will be some leftover which will freeze well)

  • 250g plain flour
  • 140g unsalted butter
  • pinch salt
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks

For the rhubarb filling

  • 400g rhubarb, sliced into 2 inch batons
  • juice and zest 1 orange
  • 30g caster sugar

For the almond frangipane

  • 120g soft unsalted butter
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 120g ground almonds
  • 1tsp ground cardamom
  • 100g white chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 30g roughly chopped almonds

Method

  1. Start off by making the pastry. Place the flour, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. At this stage add the egg yolks  and pulse again until the mix comes together in large lumps (alternatively, rub the butter into the flour, salt and sugar using your fingertips then stir in the yolks using a cutlery knife). Tip the dough out and shape into a disc using your hands. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.
  2. While the pastry is chilling start on the rhubarb compote filling. To do this simply put 300g of the rhubarb (reserve the other batons for the top of the tart), the orange juice and zest in a saucepan along with the caster sugar. Heat gently, stirring often, until the rhubarb has broken down and reduced to a thick compote consistency. Set aside to cool.
  3. Lightly grease an 7.5 (or 8) inch straight sided tart tin. Retrieve your pastry from the fridge and roll out to around 3mm thick and line the tin, pushing it right into the corners and trimming any excess. Prick the base all over with a fork and chill for 20 minutes or until firm. Preheat the oven to 190c.
  4. Line the pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the walls of the pastry are cooked and supporting themselves. Remove the beans and baking paper and return to the oven until the base is crisp and cooked through (about 10 minutes). Set aside to cool.
  5. While the pastry is baking, toss the reserved rhubarb batons in 1tbsp caster sugar and place on a tray- bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Now it’s time to make the frangipane. To do this simply cream together the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Finally, tip in the cardamom, salt and almonds and briefly mix once more until combined. Reduce the oven temperature to 170c.
  7. Now it’s time to assemble the tart. Spread the rhubarb compote over the base in one even layer, then add half the frangipane and sprinkle over half the chopped white chocolate pieces. Add the remaining frangipane and top with the rest of the white chocolate, chopped almonds and roasted rhubarb batons.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Serve hot or cold.

Mocha Banana Bread (Vegan)

Cakes, Uncategorized

This vegan banana bread is perfect if you’re after maximum taste pay off in exchange for minimal effort; the method calls for just a mixing bowl and hand whisk and you’ll have it in the oven in less than 10 minutes. I add chunks of dark chocolate and a shot of espresso to my banana bread as it adds a great depth of flavour and slight bittersweet finish, but feel free to omit these (if you’re weird and don’t like my two favourite things).

Ingredients

  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 100ml dairy free yoghurt (I used Alpro plain)
  • 100ml nut milk (I used almond)
  • 3 very ripe bananas (roughly mashed) plus 1 extra banana (halved down the middle)
  • 2tbsp instant coffee granules dissolved in 2tbsp boiling water
  • 75g light brown soft sugar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking power
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 150g 70% dark chocolate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a large loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Place the oil, yoghurt, milk, mashed banana, both sugars and coffee in a bowl and whisk together. Now add in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and whisk again until you have a smooth batter. Roughly chop 100g of the dark chocolate and stir that in, reserving the rest. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and arrange the banana halves on top.
  3. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until well risen, springy and golden. Once baked, leave to cool in the tin, then melt the remaining dark chocolate and drizzle over the top.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Tahini Tiffin with Orange and Fig (Vegan)

Chocolate, Uncategorized

It’s January. It’s bloody freezing. I’ve hit a new level of pale, the Christmas tree has gone to festive heaven and everyone appears to be chasing a dry January (with varying levels of success) or hitting the gym. With these bleak facts in mind, I’m not going to share a protein-5cal-superfood recipe (that would be off brand anyway); instead, here’s a delicious way to use up any old dried fruit and nuts you have lying around after Christmas. It’s not an energy ball but it’s not the worst thing you could be eating. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 200g 70% dark chocolate
  • 50g coconut oil
  • 100g tahini
  • 1tbsp maple syrup
  • generous pinch sea salt
  • zest 1 orange
  • 150g mixed nuts (I used pistachios, almonds and pecans), roughly chopped
  • 120g dried figs, roughly chopped (I love figs with orange and tahini, but you could use any dried fruit)
  • 2tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Method

  1. Place the chocolate, coconut oil, tahini, maple syrup, seas salt and orange zest in a large heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water (ensuring that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and melt gently, stirring occasionally.
  2. Once the contents of the bowl have melted, mix briefly to form a smooth, glossy liquid. Set aside to cool a little.
  3. Once the chocolate mix has cooled, stir through the mixed nuts, dried figs and most of the sesame seeds. Tip into a lined tin/mould (mine was roughly 20x12cm) and level out with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle over the remaining sesame seeds, then leave in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours.
  4. Once set, slice up and serve (keep refrigerated).

Sticky Date Pudding with Masala Chai Inspired Toffee Sauce

Cakes, Uncategorized

This striking but deeply comforting dessert is perfect for Christmas if you’re after something a little bit different to your bog standard figgy pudding; it’s essentially a twist on the nostalgic sticky toffee pud, but is lifted with ginger, cinnamon, black pepper and orange then drenched in a sauce which I’ve infused with classic chai spices (black peppercorn, cardamom, cinnamon, anise, cloves and fennel seeds). I’m going to be serving this up on Christmas day with vanilla ice cream (though it would be amazing with a rose or pistachio variety!).

Ingredients

  • 225g butter
  • 225g soft dark brown sugar
  • 70g black treacle
  • 135g golden syrup
  • 200g pitted dates, roughly chopped
  • 200ml boiling water
  • 100ml milk
  • 350g plain flour
  • 2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • zest 1 orange
  • 2 eggs

For the sauce

  • 100g dark brown sugar
  • 75g butter
  • 50ml maple syrup
  • 125ml double cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2tsp mixed spice
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • pinch fennel seeds
  • 4 green cardamom pods, cracked
  • pinch sea salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease your bundt tin generously with butter then coat with plain flour, tipping out any excess.
  2. Before starting on the pudding mix, infuse the cream for the toffee sauce. To do this pour the cream into a small saucepan and add the cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, mixed spice, peppercorns, fennel seeds and cardamom pods. Heat gently until just boiling then set aside until required.
  3. Place the dates in a small bowl then pour over the boiling water. While the dates are soaking, melt the butter, sugar, treacle and syrup in a large saucepan. Once the contents of the pan have melted add the milk, orange zest, soaked dates and water. Stir together until well combined. Set aside to cool a little.
  4. Sift the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and break in the eggs. Briefly mix the eggs to break them up then gradually add the contents of the saucepan. Stir together with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth, lump-free batter.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin (ensuring that you leave a 1.5 inch gap at the top of the tin for rising) and bake for 40-50 minutes (or until a skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs attached when inserted).
  6. While the pudding is cooking, finish the sauce. To do this simply place the sugar, butter and maple in a small saucepan and melt together until gently bubbling, then remove from the heat and strain in the flavoured cream and salt.
  7. Serve the pudding warm with a generous helping of sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Merry Christmas!

Spiced Pistachio and Sour Cherry Brownies

Chocolate, Uncategorized

No matter how many elaborate desserts or multi-step bakes I make, I will always have time for the humble brownie; there is something deeply satisfying about that fudgy melt-in-the-mouth core and crackly top, plus they are incredibly versatile- throw anything in (within reason) and you can guarantee a delicious result. These festive brownies are studded with orange-soaked sour cherries, pistachios and milk chocolate chunks, and hum with cardamom, cinnamon and mixed spice.

Ingredients

  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 100g roughly chopped sour cherries
  • 250g butter, cubed
  • 100g 80% dark chocolate
  • 150g 70% dark chocolate
  • 100g dark brown soft sugar
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • large pinch sea salt
  • 1tsp ground cardamom
  • 1tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g plain flour
  • 75g roughly chopped pistachios
  • 150g roughly chopped milk chocolate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 22x22cm baking tin. Soak the sour cherries in the orange juice and set aside until required.
  2. Put the dark chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water. Leave to melt, stirring occasionally, then set aside to cool a little.
  3. Meanwhile beat together the sugars, salt, eggs and egg yolk in a stand mixer (or a large bowl) until very light and voluminous (it will pretty much double in size). This stage is well worth the effort- it will give you that classic cracked top.
  4. Once the egg mixture is ready, pour the chocolate mix down the side of the bowl and fold in using a large metal spoon. Add the flour, salt and spices and do the same until you have a smooth, lump free batter. Now add the pistachios, chocolate chunks and cherries (strain away the orange juice) and stir through to evenly distribute.
  5. Tip the mix into the prepared tin and level off then bake for 25-30 minutes. When it’s ready, the brownie will have a flaky crisp top but will still be gooey and moist on the inside. Set aside to cool in the tin then remove, slice up and serve.

Enjoy!