This ode to the fruits of winter will brighten any grey day with it’s sticky layers of spiced sponge, fresh ginger mascarpone cream and smooth blood orange curd. Decorate with pomegranate seeds, candied blood orange slices and chopped pistachios for a welcome explosion of colour during these colder months.
For the cake
250g golden syrup
3 tbsp ginger syrup
3-4 lumps stem ginger, diced
175g dark brown soft sugar
zest 1 orange
375g self-raising flour
2tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
For the blood orange curd
juice and zest 2 blood oranges
juice and zest 1 lemon
2 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
100g butter, cubed
For the ginger mascarpone cream
1tbsp icing sugar
1tbsp ginger syrup
300ml double cream
Garnish ideas (optional)
candied orange slices
shards of tuile or ginger biscuit
Start off with the ginger cake. Grease and line two 7 inch cake tins and preheat the oven to 180c.
Place the golden syrup, ginger syrup, butter, diced stem ginger, dark brown sugar and orange zest in a saucepan and melt over a low/medium heat. Once the ingredients are melted bring to the boil and leave to bubble for about a minute, then set aside to cool a little.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl stir together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Make a large well in the centre and tip in the melted butter mixture. Whisk the wet and dry ingredients together until smooth and flour lump free. In a jug whisk the eggs and milk together with a fork and add those into the mixing bowl. Whisk once more to combine then split the batter between the prepared cake tins.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
While the cakes are baking make the blood orange curd. To do this simply place the blood orange zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, eggs and egg yolks and caster sugar into a heatproof bowl. Whisk together to combine then set over a pan of simmering water (without the water touching the bowl). Add the butter cubes one at a time, constantly whisking. Once all the butter has been added and is melted, continue to whisk until the curd has thickened to a coating consistency (this will take between 5-10 minutes). Once the curd is ready, set aside to cool in a clean bowl with cling film flat across the surface (this will prevent a skin from forming).
When the cakes are ready leave them to cool completely in the tins. Once cool, even the tops off if necessary then slice each horizontally (so you are left with 4 even cake layers).
Now make the mascarpone cream; tip the double cream, icing sugar, ginger syrup and mascarpone into a bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk until thickened and smooth.
Once all your components are cool it’s time to assemble the cake. Place one layer on your chosen serving plate and pipe dots of mascarpone cream around the edge then fill the centre with blood orange curd. Repeat until you’ve used up the cake layers and decorate the top as desired.
It’s hardly surprising that a combination of some of my very favourite ingredients (brilliant pink forced rhubarb, fiery stem ginger and warming cardamom) have married together to form my perfect cake (aside from fudgy, rich chocolate cake- that space in my heart will never be replaced). The recipe is super easy and the result is a moist, fruity bake packed full of flavour. Serve up with pistachio praline and additional poached rhubarb to brighten up the miserable grey that is January…
Ingredients (serves 8-12)
For the cake
250g self-raising flour
2tsp ground ginger
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
175g golden syrup
3tbsp ginger syrup (from a stem ginger jar)
4 balls stem ginger, diced
125g dark soft brown sugar
200g forced rhubarb
For the cardamom creme fraiche
300ml creme fraiche
10 cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground to a fine powder
1tbsp icing sugar
poached rhubarb pieces (just pop 125ml water and 125g caster sugar in a saucepan and heat to melt the sugar- once it’s dissolved, bring to the boil and add 200g sliced rhubarb. Remove from the heat and leave for 5 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender but not mushy, then drain and use as desired)
pistachio praline (put 100g caster sugar in a heavy bottom pan and leave it to melt, swirling occasionally. Once completely melted add in 100g pistachios and swirl until the syrup has reached a deep golden colour. Scrape onto some greaseproof paper to set hard then break into a mixer, blitz and use as desired)
Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
Stir together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large bowl. In a saucepan melt together the golden syrup, ginger syrup, butter, diced stem ginger and sugar. Bring to the boil for a minute then make a well in the dry ingredients and add the melted mixture. Stir together to eliminate any lumps then whisk the eggs and milk in a jug and add those in too and beat once more.
Slice the rhubarb into 2 inch lengths and stir through, then tip the batter into the prepared tin (the mix is quite loose but don’t worry, it bakes beautifully and the rhubarb levels out within the cake during baking and doesn’t end up sinking to the bottom!)
Bake for 1 hour- 1 hour 10 minutes or until the cake has reached a deep golden colour and a skewer comes out clean when inserted (it’s quite a long cooking time but this is necessary as there is a fair amount of liquid in the fruit- if the cake starts colouring a little too much before it’s cooked through, just cover it in foil for the remaining cooking time).
While the cake is baking make the cardamom creme fraiche topping. To do this simply whisk together the creme fraiche, ground cardamom and icing sugar.
Once your cake is baked, allow it to cool completely in the tin before removing it and presenting it on your chosen plate. Dollop on the creme fraiche just before serving and decorate with rhubarb and pistachios. I like to be quite free with this presentation but you can make yours more refined if you like.
These fudgy brownies incite frenzied eating in my house; they barely saw the light of day when I made them last and half my family were out… It’s hardly surprising they are so addictive though- white chocolate matches brilliantly with fresh cherry compote (particularly when accompanied by a very generous glug of slightly unseasonal brandy).
For the compote:
300g cherries (stones removed)
2tbsp caster sugar
large glug brandy (this amount is totally down to your taste)
For the brownies:
300g dark chocolate
225g plain flour
200g white chocolate chunks
Start by making the compote. Roughly chop the cherries. Place in a pan along with the sugar, water and brandy. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the cherries become soft and the syrupy liquid starts to thicken (about 10 minutes). Once the consistency is somewhat jam-like, taste and add more brandy if you like (you can leave out the brandy entirely if it’s not your jam- ha.). Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a brownie tin (around 22x22cm is perfect).
Place the butter and dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water (don’t let the water touch the base of the bowl). Stir occasionally and remove from the heat once melted together.
Place the eggs and caster sugar in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and beat together until well combined.
Add the chocolate mixture to the bowl and fold in followed by the flour and 2/3 of the white chocolate chunks. Tip into the lined baking tin and level out.
Dollop the compote all over the surface of the brownie and finish by sprinkling on the remaining white chocolate. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the top is set but the inside is moist and a little gooey.
Allow the brownie to cool completely in the tin then slice up and serve.
This panna cotta recipe can be adapted by substituting the coconut for flaked almonds, basil or other nuts and herbs. I love this tropical combination for summer though; paired with mango sorbet, sesame seeds and lime zest it makes for the perfect refreshing and light dessert to follow a late lunch or dinner.
Ingredients (makes 4):
225ml whole milk
225ml double cream
200g coconut flakes (lightly toasted)
1 stick lemongrass
3 1/2 leaves gelatine (around 6g)
Lightly grease four dariole moulds with a flavourless oil (such as sunflower).
Place the milk, cream and lightly toasted coconut flakes in a saucepan. Bash the lemongrass with the back of a knife to release the flavour and add to the pan. Heat the mixture and bring gently to the boil. Boil for 1 minute then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for half an hour.
Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes (until soft). Sieve the panna cotta mixture to remove the coconut and lemongrass then place back on the heat. Reheat until just steaming then squeeze the water from the gelatine and add. Mix in until dissolved then pour into the moulds.
Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours then remove from the moulds and serve as desired (dip the moulds in boiling water for a few seconds to make turning them out easier!).
Amelia Rope recently sent me some delicious pale rose chocolate bars to have a little play with. I decided that with Valentines day around the corner I’d use them in a simple but luxurious tart, the ideal dessert to round off a lovingly (hah) prepared meal (disclaimer: you do not need a floppy haired Valentine/ flickering candle / rom-com vibe to enjoy these).
Ingredients (makes 4 mini tarts or 1 six inch tart):
For the crust:
200g chocolate biscuits (I used bourbons)
40g dark chocolate
50g melted butter
For the filling:
200g Amelia Rope Pale Rose chocolate
100ml double cream
1tbsp caster sugar
50g toasted chopped pistachios
30g melted and cooled dark chocolate
rose petals/ silver leaf for decoration(optional)
Start off by greasing your tart case (or cases) ready for the biscuit crust (I always use a loose bottom tart tin).
For the crust, place the biscuits, chocolate and salt in a blade mixer and blitz to create crumbs. Add the melted butter and briefly blitz again to combine, then tip into your tin (or distribute between your mini tart tins). Smooth down evenly onto the base and up the sides with the back of a spoon to create a case ready for the filling. Chill for 30 minutes.
While your case is firming up make the filling. To do this simply place the chocolate, cream, butter and sugar in a heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of gently simmering water. Slowly melt, stirring occasionally, then once you have a smooth mixture set aside to cool.
When the chocolate filling has cooled, pour it into the tart case and level out. Set aside to firm up for 1 hour then carefully remove from the tin. Brush the rim of the case with your melted dark chocolate and sprinkle over the pistachios. Decorate with silver leaf and rose petals, if you like.
These individual cheesecake shots are light, tasty and great for a Halloween party. Kids will love the ‘broken glass’ shards and the refreshing strawberry flavour combined with a nutty hazelnut base is guaranteed to be a hit with all ages. To create the strawberry filling and gory ‘blood’ I used the Super Red smoothie from the Savse core range. To see how you can use other varieties in the range, take a look back at my Thai chicken salad and whipped goats cheese dish- it’s surprising how versatile a fruity health drink can be!
For the base:
70g melted butter
100g digestive biscuits
For the filling:
1/2 bottle Super Red Savse smoothie
40g caster sugar
150g cream cheese
75g double cream, whipped
75g Greek yoghurt
For the topping:
1 pack clear boiled sweets/ mints
1/2 bottle Super Red Savse smoothie
1tsp natural red food colouring
Place your biscuits and hazelnuts in a food processor. Blitz until they resemble crumbs then add the melted butter. Blitz again to combine then pack a tablespoon of the crumble into the bottom of each shot glass. Chill while you make the filling.
Using an electric whisk, mix together the cream cheese, sugar and smoothie until well combined and non-streaky.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream to medium peaks then fold into the cream cheese along with the yoghurt. Distribute this mixture on top of the biscuit bases and smooth off. Chill for at least 2 hours (it will be a soft set cheesecake).
Preheat the oven to 200c. To make your ‘broken glass’ toppers, crush your boiled sweets and arrange in a thin layer on a baking tray lined with non stick baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the crushed sweets have melted and formed a glass sheet look. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and break up into pieces.
Now combine the remaining smoothie with the food colouring.
Once your cheesecake pots have been chilling for at least 2 hours, decorate with shards and drizzle in the blood red smoothie!
I’ve recently arranged an exciting collaborative series with Savse Smoothies which will involve me incorporating their drinks into my recipes! I will be posting a recipe every couple of weeks and hope to show that whilst their products are really delicious on their own, they can also be used in lots of tasty dishes, both savoury and sweet.
Savse, if you aren’t aware of the brand, specialise in healthy smoothies made up of raw, fresh fruit and vegetables. They sell a core range of five ‘Super’ smoothies (red, orange, purple, blue and green) and make many more specialised drinks. It might come as a surprise looking at my incredibly indulgent bakes, but I eat very healthily and really enjoy cooking with fresh ingredients so this opportunity is really exciting (and a bit of a challenge!).
The first recipe I’ve come up with is inspired by the mango and carrot flavours in the Super Orange smoothie (part of the Savse core range). The street style salad is really fresh and marinating the chicken in the smoothie gives it a sweetness which cuts through the classic Thai flavours of chilli, ginger and coriander I’ve used. I’d recommend making this in bulk on a Sunday night and then portioning it up for no fuss weekday lunches!
Ingredients (Serves 4):
For the chicken: 4 chicken breasts, 2/3 bottle Savse Super Orange smoothie, 3cm piece ginger (grated), salt and pepper, oil for pan frying
For the salad: 4 grated carrots, 2 large handfuls bean sprouts, 2 thinly sliced red peppers, 1 thinly sliced red onion, large bunch coriander (chopped), small bunch parsley (chopped), 200g roughly chopped cashews, 1-2 red chillies (sliced), bunch spring onions (sliced)
For the dressing: remaining 1/3 Savse Super Orange smoothie, 3tbsp white wine vinegar, 2tbsp soy sauce, 1tbsp honey, juice 1 lime, 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
Slice the chicken breasts into three large pieces and place in a shallow tray. Season with salt and pepper, pour over the smoothie and add the grated ginger. Cover and marinade for a minimum of 2 hours.
For the salad, toss together the carrot, bean sprouts, red pepper, red onion, coriander, parsley, cashews, chillies and spring onions. Set aside.
For the dressing, whisk together the remaining smoothie, vinegar, soy, honey and lime juice.
Heat some oil (olive oil, rape seed or coconut oil is good) in a frying pan, drain excess liquid from the chicken then fry quickly over a high heat until you achieve some golden colouring and the meat is cooked through.
Dress the salad until thoroughly coated then pile onto a plate. Add the chicken and pour over any juices. Garnish with more cashews, coriander and chilli slices.