These Autumnal brownies start with my usual base of good quality chocolate, rye flour and browned butter, but I’ve added a salted maple pecan crumble (for want of a better word) into them for a nod to Thanksgiving (I’m based in the UK but we’re adopting Thanksgiving flavours and traditions more every year!).
4tbsp maple syrup, I used Billingtons Amber Maple
250g unsalted butter
250g good quality dark chocolate (70%)
3 eggs, 1 egg yolk
100g light brown soft sugar
75g caster sugar
large pinch of salt, plus more for finishing
100g rye flour
Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease a large brownie tin and line with greaseproof paper.
Place the pecans in a dry pan and toast for a few minutes, then add the maple and a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Stir for a few minutes on the heat until the nuts are sticky then tip onto a piece of greaseproof paper to cool.
Once cooled, whizz the nuts into a rough crumb (it will be quite moist).
Roughly chop the chocolate and tip into a heatproof bowl. Place the butter in a saucepan set over a medium heat and once melted, up the heat and wait for it to foam and smell nutty. Once you reach this stage, pour it over the chocolate. Leave it to sit for a moment then stir together to form a glossy mix.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, yolk and both sugars until pale and voluminous (this is what gives you a glossy crisp top). Tip the chocolate down the side of the bowl and add the flour, then fold until everything is well combined.
Tip half the brownie batter in the prepared tin, then evenly distribute the pecan crumb on top, followed by the remaining batter. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 25-30 minutes. When they’re ready, leave to cool completely then slice up and serve.
Cherry, super-sweet white chocolate, earthy pistachio; a pretty fool proof combination of flavours which marry together beautifully in these enriched sweet buns. I’ve added Arabica’s Cherry Molasses which they kindly gifted to me a couple of weeks back, and it brings a real tang to the overall flavour- delicious! I couldn’t resist adding cardamom to these as well; not only is it my favourite spice but it pairs really well with all three base flavours.
One thing to note before you embark on this recipe: while possible to make these by hand, it’s much easier with the help of a stand mixer and dough hook.
For the dough
140g room temperature unsalted butter
100g plain flour
150g strong white bread flour
½ tsp salt
50g caster sugar
1 sachet fast action dried yeast (7g)
For the filling
4tbsp cherry molasses
50g unsalted butter
60g soft light brown sugar
100g white chocolate
1 1/2 tbsp ground cardamom
150g pistachios, ground
For the topping
1 egg, beaten
Extra handful chopped pistachios (optional)
Place the milk and 40g of the butter in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter melts. Set aside to cool a little.
Meanwhile mix the flours, salt, sugar and yeast together in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the warm milk mixture and the egg. Mix briefly with a wooden spoon to combine then switch on the stand mixer and beat at a medium speed for about 10 minutes. Once the dough seems smooth, increase the speed and add the remaining butter in cubes, waiting for each one to be incorporated before adding the next. You should be left with an elastic, very soft dough. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Leave to prove for 1 hour, then chill for 45 minutes (this controls the rise and allows the dough to firm up a little).
For the filling, roughly chop the white chocolate and tip into a bowl. Place the butter, light brown sugar and ground cardamom in a saucepan and gently heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has almost all dissolved, then pour it over the white chocolate. Let it sit for a moment, then stir together. Set aside (don’t worry if it’s grainy).
Roll the dough out into a large rectangle (about 30x50cm) and, making sure you’ve sat the dough landscape, cover 2/3 with the white chocolate mixture, leaving the right hand side bare. Sprinkle the pistachios on top and drizzle over the cherry molasses, then fold the uncovered dough over the top and the remaining left side on top of that, pressing down firmly to form another rectangle. Roll out to around 1.5 cm thick.
Using a sharp knife, slice the rectangle lengthways, into 2cm wide strips. Take each strip and twist it several times, then wind it around your fingers to form a bun shape, finally taking the end over and under to conceal it. Place each bun on a lined baking tray, leaving room for the second prove. Once all the buns are assembled, cover with a damp clean tea towel and leave to prove for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 170c (fan) and brush the proved buns with the beaten egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown. Garnish with chopped pistachio and serve warm or cold (best enjoyed on the day or the day after, reheated to refresh).
I’ve been deliberating posting savoury recipes for a few years now but have always held back due to the simple fact that I called this site ‘tassybakes’ and so must, by my own ruling, share only baked goods (yeah, I’m quite neurotic). I’ve decided that’s a pretty stupid ruling especially as I’m a professional chef by day, who cooks savoury dishes the majority of the time.
Anyway you get the picture, I’m going to share savoury recipes with you, starting with this whole roast pumpkin. You part roast it before filling it with rice, wild mushrooms, cavolo nero, a load of spices, stock and pecans, then it’s popped in the oven for 15 minutes and voila, the rice is cooked and the flavours have seeped into the pumpkin flesh- delicious. You can adapt the recipe and use whatever veg or nuts you have lying around so go wild!
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
2 small/medium pumpkins or 1 large pumpkin
1tbsp rapeseed oil
1/2tsp ground cumin
1/2tsp mixed spice
sea salt and black pepper
For the rice
250g basmati rice, rinsed thoroughly
2tbsp rapeseed oil
2 large white onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 green chilli, diced
1 cinnamon stick
6-8 cardamom pods, cracked
1tsp ground turmeric
1tsp ground cumin
2tsp garam masala
2tsp mustard seeds
2 bay leaves
200g fresh wild mushrooms
large handful cavolo nero or kale
500ml vegetable stock
Green chutney, tamarind chutney, yoghurt and pomegranate seeds, to serve (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200c. Slice the top of the pumpkin (or pumpkins) off and hollow out (reserve the seeds and roast them with spices, if you like). Drizzle with oil and rub with spices and seasoning all over, inside and out. Place on a tray (lid included) and roast for 25-35 minutes or until the flesh is very tender.
Rinse the rice several times in cold water then leave to soak until required.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the sliced onions. Cook out until lightly browned and very soft, then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a further few minutes. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cardamom pods and all other spices and cook, stirring often until aromatic. Now add the mushrooms and a little more oil if required, and cook until caramelised. Don’t stir more often than is necessary or they won’t colour up.
Drain the rice. Add the pecans, cavolo nero and rice to the saucepan and stir to coat in the oil and spices. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then carefully transfer to the cooked pumpkin. Turn the heat down to 160c on the oven and pop the lid on top of the pumpkin to seal in the steam.
Return the now filled pumpkin to the oven for 15 minutes, then remove and leave to stand, lid on, for a further 10 minutes.
Now you’re ready to serve. Slice the pilaf-filled pumpkin into big wedges and enjoy with green chutney, yoghurt, tamarind chutney and some pomegranate seeds, if you like.
These popcorn clusters are really simple to put together and would make for an apt post-firework snack (in fact, covered entirely in chocolate they could look a little like coal!). Think of them as the boujee sister of the rice crispie cake, with bonfire night inspired flavours making them feel a little more grown up.
2tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil (omit this if you’re using ready popped corn)
175g caster sugar
40g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate
generous pinch smoked salt
Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Have another piece of greaseproof paper handy,
If you’re popping your own kernels, put a large lidded pan on a medium/high heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, put a couple of kernels in and wait for them to pop. Once they’ve popped you know your oil is ready, so add the remaining kernels and put the lid on. You’ll hear lots of popping for a few minutes, but once it slows turn the heat off and set aside until it completely stops, then remove the lid and leave to cool. It’s a good idea to shake the pan occasionally during the popping process to avoid any catching on the base of the pan.
Put the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and heat gently until completely melted, swirling (but not stirring) the pan occasionally. Once the sugar has melted increase the heat and take the caramel to a golden brown colour, then add in the butter and melt until combined (careful, it will spit a little!). Set aside to cool slightly, then transfer the popcorn into a large mixing bowl along with the pecans and a generous pinch of smoked salt. Mix briefly. Tip the caramel into the bowl and, working quickly, stir to coat the popcorn and pecans before tipping the mix onto the prepared tray.
Press the mix down using the spare greaseproof paper and a tea towel (it will be quite hot) to make a compact even layer. Set aside to cool and firm up.
Once crisp, break the popcorn into rough pieces. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water) then dip the pieces in, or drizzle it over, if you prefer. Finish with a little more smoked salt then leave to set for about half an hour. Enjoy!
As the temperatures drop and the evenings draw in, I’m getting really into making ice cream… I know, such a maverick, what will I do next!? I jest, ice cream can be enjoyed all year round in my opinion, especially when you create flavours which feel Autumnal; this chai variety is a great example of that. It’s cold, of course, but the hint of black tea and hum of warming, peppery spice is really comforting, plus it pairs beautifully with hot puddings, rich chocolate desserts and baked fruit.
600ml double cream
600ml whole milk
225g golden caster sugar
5 black tea bags
10 cardamom pods
1 vanilla pod
2 cinnamon sticks, split in two
1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, roughly crushed
1tsp fennel seeds, roughly crushed
2 inches fresh ginger, chopped
6 egg yolks
Place the cream, milk and 100g of the caster sugar in a large saucepan along with the tea bags, spices, ginger and vanilla. Heat to scalding point (just before it boils) over a medium heat, stirring to ensure the sugar has dissolved, then set aside to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, chill for at least an hour or overnight to allow the flavours to develop.
Drain the infused cream into a large clean saucepan and heat to scalding point once more. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks and remaining 125g caster sugar in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until pale and thick. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and allow to cool slightly for a few minutes, then pour gradually into the yolks, whisking constantly.
Once the mixture is combined, return to a clean saucepan and set over a low/medium heat. Stir until it has thickened to a custard consistency (do not be tempted to increase the heat or it will curdle) then leave to cool completely.
Once cooled, churn the custard until thick and creamy (about 25 minutes) then scrape into a container, cover and chill for at least 4 hours.
As someone who is perpetually cold I favour the summer months weather-wise, but when it comes to food seasons, Autumn is the winner for me. Root vegetables, roasts, comforting one-pot dinners and baked fruits, sugared and spiced; you can’t beat them. With this in mind and as an ode to the season and the produce that comes with it, I’ve created a hedgerow-themed celebration cake. Made up of spiced sponges studded with Bramley apple pieces, a tart blackberry compote and smooth salted caramel Swiss meringue buttercream- it’s a bit of a project bake, but so worth the effort.
For the cakes
250g golden syrup
190g unsalted butter
175g light brown soft sugar
375g self raising flour
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1tsp mixed spice
large pinch salt
260ml semi-skimmed milk
1 very large Bramley apple, peeled, cored and diced
1tsp corn flour
For the blackberry compote
450g fresh blackberries
zest and juice 1 lemon
5-6tbsp caster sugar
For the Swiss meringue buttercream (I’d only attempt this with electric whisk/beaters!)
150g caster sugar, 50g butter, 100ml double cream, salt (this is for the caramel which is added to a Swiss meringue buttercream base)
4 egg whites
225g caster sugar
275g unsalted butter, very soft (but not greasy)
fresh blackberries, hazelnuts, apple crisps, rosemary sprigs
Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins. Preheat the oven to 170c.
Start off by making the cakes. To do this place the syrup, butter and light brown soft sugar in a saucepan and melt over a medium heat. Set aside to cool a little.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, spices, salt and bicarbonate of soda, then make a well in the middle. Break the eggs into a jug and add the milk, then stir together with a fork and add into the well, along with the melted butter mixture. Whisk everything together with a hand whisk until just combined.
Toss the apple pieces in corn flour and fold in, then distribute the batter between the two cake tins. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Once baked let the cakes cool completely in the tins.
Meanwhile, make the blackberry compote by placing the blackberries, lemon juice and zest and sugar in a saucepan set over a medium heat. Cook, stirring often until thickened and jammy. Set aside to cool.
For the buttercream, start off by making a salted caramel sauce.To do this put the sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan and set it over a low heat. Wait until the sugar has all melted (swirl the pan to encourage it to do so but don’t stir!) then up the heat and allow it to reach a deep golden brown. When it gets to this stage, add the butter and stir (it will spit a little), then add the cream and stir again for a couple more minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and once cool enough to taste add salt to your liking. Set aside to cool completely.
While the caramel is cooling, place the egg whites and caster sugar in a saucepan and whisk together (just a hand whisk will do here). Keep stirring over a medium heat until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved, then transfer to a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until it’s completely cool and will hold a stiff peak.
Now continue to whisk, adding a heaped tablespoon of the butter every few seconds. Whisk until it’s all come together and is thick and glossy, then add 3-4 heaped tablespoons of your cooled caramel (add a little more or less to taste). Don’t worry if the mix looks curdled at any point, whisking will bring it back together with time. Once it’s ready you can start assembling the cake.
Remove the cakes from the tins. If they’re domed at all, even off the tops, then slice each sponge in half, leaving you with 4 even layers. Place the first layer on your serving plate. Pile half the buttercream into a piping bag and pipe around the edge of the first layer twice (leaving a roughly 1.5 inch wall of buttercream). Fill this with a third of the blackberry compote then repeat the process until all the sponges are used up.
Use the remaining buttercream to cover the whole cake, semi-naked style. Decorate as desired- I like rustic/natural decorations but the world is your oyster!
Jammy baked figs, warming spices and a slightly nutty, salty-sweet sauce; it’s seasonal bakes like this which make the transition from Summer to Autumn that bit easier (even when the rain is unrelenting, my holiday a distant memory and the sky an ominous shade of purple-grey).
Brown butter caramel
200g caster sugar
100ml double cream
good pinch salt
Spiced fig cake (makes one 8 inch cake)
175g soft unsalted butter
100g light brown soft sugar
75g caster sugar
zest 1 lemon
175g self raising flour
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp mixed spice
1/2tsp ground cardamom
1/4tsp freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp demerara sugar
Start by making the caramel. Place the butter in a pan and melt down over a low heat. Once melted, increase the heat and foam until browned. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool.
Tip the caster sugar into a heavy bottomed pan and heat gently, swirling occasionally (but not stirring) until it melts. Increase the heat until the caramel reaches a deep golden brown, then add the browned butter and stir (take care, it will spit a little). Once the butter is well incorporated add the cream and stir. Cook for a further couple of minutes until slightly thickened, then add the salt to taste.
Preheat the oven to 170c and grease/line an 8 inch baking tin. Place the butter and sugars in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating well between each addition (add a little of the flour here if the mix looks like it might curdle). Mix in the lemon zest and milk.
Add the flour, spices and salt to the bowl and fold in with a large metal spoon. Dice 2/3 of the figs and fold those into the mixture too, then scrape it all into the prepared tin. Slice the remaining figs into 6ths and arrange on top of the cake, then sprinkle over the demerara sugar.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
Once baked, leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a wire rack. You can serve this cold or warm (I prefer the latter), but either way, warm up the caramel just before serving and drizzle all over the cake slices.
Galettes are super versatile, simple to shape and look really impressive. This one is filled with a hazelnut frangipane, greengages tossed in vanilla, and an early crop of blackberries; a delicious celebration of late summer produce, especially when served warm from the oven with a generous helping of ice cream or whipped mascarpone.
For the pastry
150g spelt flour
75g plain flour
30g golden caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, chilled
2tsp white wine vinegar
50ml fridge-cold water
zest 1 lemon
For the filling
100g unsalted butter, soft
100g golden caster sugar
2 eggs, 1 for the frangipane, 1 for glazing
100g hazelnuts, blitzed until fine
75g plain flour
300g greengages, halved and de-stoned
1/2tbsp corn flour
1 vanilla pod, split
1/2tbsp demerara sugar
sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts (optional)
Start off by making the pastry. Place the flours, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. At this stage add the water, vinegar and lemon zest and pulse again until the mix just comes together in large lumps (alternatively, rub the butter into the flours, salt and sugar using your fingertips then stir in the water, vinegar and lemon zest 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.
While the pastry is chilling, prepare the filling, starting with the hazelnut frangipane. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until light and creamy. Add in one egg and beat again until well incorporated, then fold through the ground hazelnuts and plain flour. Set aside.
Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod and toss together with the halved greengages and corn flour (corn flour helps soak up any excess juices the greengages might release). Preheat the oven to 180c and place a large baking tray on the oven shelf (this ensures that the base of the galette cooks through and is crisp- no soggy bottoms here!).
Once your pastry has firmed up a little, roll into a large 3mm thick circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a piece of baking paper. Dollop the frangipane into the centre of the pastry, then spread out evenly, leaving a border of roughly 3 inches. Arrange the greengages on top of the frangipane, followed by the blackberries. Fold the edges of the pastry loosely over the filling, then brush with the remaining egg. Finish by sprinkling the demerara sugar all over the pastry and filling.
Transfer the galette onto the hot baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp, and the frangipane is cooked through.
To serve, sprinkle the galette with toasted chopped hazelnuts. Serve warm with ice cream or slightly sweetened mascarpone (it is also delicious cold!).
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.
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
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
2-3tbsp rose water
50g chopped pistachios
1tbsp dried rose petals
Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line two 7 inch cake tins.
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.
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).
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.
Split the batter between the prepared tins and level off. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
Let the cakes sit in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
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.
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.
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.
800g fresh strawberries, stalks removed
100g caster sugar
50ml elderflower cordial
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.
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.
Taste and add stir in a little more elderflower cordial, if necessary. Tip into an ice cream churner and churn until smooth and thick.
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.