Peach Cobbler

This classic US dessert hails from the Southern states. It consists of sweet peaches enveloped in a light, cakey, buttery, batter – think Toad in the Hole, but instead of sausage being surrounded in batter it’s peaches surrounded in batter, and baked until the batter is golden. Apple crumble had always been my go-to easy dessert, however this is a wonderful alternative. It can be served warm with custard for a nice winter dessert. Alternatively it can be served with ice cream. With spring on the way, and the progression of a somewhat promising route out of this pandemic, this change-up in our dessert routine has also helped to fill me with a sense of optimism.

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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Peaches: I use two tins of peach slices. I prefer the peaches in natural juice as opposed to in syrup, but that’s just my personal choice.
  • Butter: Adds a richness to the batter.
  • Baking Powder: This ingredient, combined with the hot butter causes the batter to rise around the peaches.

How To Make Peach Cobbler

Step One: Pre-heat your oven to 160 °C fan (180 °C conventional/ 350 °F/ Gas Mark 4).

Step Two: Spread 95 g unsalted butter out on the base of a 23 cm x 33 cm (9″ x 13″) cake pan. Place it in the oven for around 5 minutes until the butter has melted. I use my 9″ x 13″ Circulon Cake Pan.

Step Three: In the meantime, add two 400 g tins of peach slices drained to a large bowl. Mix in 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla essence and the 2 tbsp sugar. Set aside.

Step Four: In another bowl add in 150 g flour, 95 g caster sugar, 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt and mix well. Whisk in 150 ml whole milk until a smooth batter is formed.

Step Five: Remove the cake pan from the oven and pour the batter over the butter. Use a spoon to spread the batter out, but do not mix the butter and the batter together.

Step Six: Arrange the peaches on top of the batter.

Step Seven: Place the cake pan back into the oven. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes until the batter has risen and is golden brown in colour.

How To Serve Peach Cobbler

  • This dessert can be served either warm or cold, with custard, ice cream or whipped cream.

Tips for Making Peach Cobbler

  • Bake on a low heat, but for a longer time. The idea is to cook the peaches so that they are nice and tender, as well as to brown and crisp up the batter.

Peach Cobbler Recipe


Serves:
8
Preparation Time:
5
Cooking Time:
50 – 60 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 95 g unsalted butter cubed
  • 2x 400 g tinned peaches drained
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar.
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 95 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 150 ml whole milk

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 °C fan (180 °C conventional/ 350 °F/ Gas Mark 4).
  2. Spread the butter out on the base of a 23 cm x 33 cm (9″ x 13″) cake pan. Place it in the oven for around 5 minutes until the butter has melted. I use my 9″ x 13″ Circulon Cake Pan.
  3. In the meantime, add the peaches to a large bowl. Mix in the cinnamon, vanilla essence and the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl add in the flour, additional caster sugar, baking powder and salt and mix well. Whisk in the milk until a smooth batter is formed.
  5. Remove the cake pan from the oven and pour the batter over the butter. Use a spoon to spread the batter out, but do not mix the butter and the batter together.
  6. Arrange the peaches on top of the batter.
  7. Place the cake pan back into the oven. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes until the batter has risen and is golden brown in colour.

NOTES

  • Serve warm with ice cream.

Sticky Hoisin Ribs

If you are a fan of ribs and are awaiting barbecue season, then this oven baked ribs recipe is one to try. Tender, fall of the bone meat with a sticky, sweet and salty hoisin glaze. These ribs are always a hit with my family. The ribs are first brined in the fridge. Then they are steamed in the oven before being slathered in hoisin sauce and caramelised to perfection.

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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Pork Ribs: I get these from my local supermarket and they come cut into individual ribs (as opposed to the whole rack).
  • Salt: This is the key ingredient for making a brine. Brine is basically a solution containing salt and water. It can also contain herbs and spices for extra flavour. Meat can be soaked in brine and this causes the meat to absorb the water. In this recipe soaking the ribs in a salt-water-spice solution adds depth of flavour and the salt also makes the meat on the ribs more succulent.
  • Hoisin Sauce: I personally love Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce. It has a lovely sweet and salty flavour with a hint of garlic. It’s quite concentrated, so a little goes a long way.

How To Make Sticky Hoisin Ribs

Step One: Add 3 cloves garlic minced, 1 tbsp onion powder, 2 tsp salt and 1.5 tsp brown sugar to a medium sized baking dish. Add enough water to just add a layer of liquid to the bottom of the dish and mix well until the sugar and salt has dissolved.

Step Two: Add in the ribs and make sure they are coated in the liquid. Top up with warm/room temperature water such that the ribs are completely submerged in liquid.

Step Three: Cover with clingfilm and place the baking dish in the fridge for 2 hours to over night.

Step Four: Preheat your oven to 180 °C fan (200 °C conventional/Gas Mark 6/400 °F).

Step Five: Transfer the ribs to another baking dish and cover with foil. Discard the brine. Bake the ribs with the foil on for 40 minutes. Increase the heat to 200 °C fan (220 °C conventional/Gas Mark 7/425 °F).

Step Six: Brush the ribs all over with half of the hoisin sauce (50 g) and return the ribs to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Step Seven: Brush the ribs all over with the remaining (50 g) of hoisin sauce and turn the ribs over. Cook for another 10 minutes until the ribs are starting to go brown and the sauce begins to caramelise.

How To Serve Sticky Hoisin Ribs

  • For a Chinese style meal serve with stir fried noodles and vegetables, or fried rice.
  • Ribs are a great addition to a fakeaway – sometimes I also cook ribs on pizza night.

Tips for Making Sticky Hoisin Ribs

  • The brine really does add flavour to the meat. Even if you only have enough time to brine the ribs in the fridge for an hour do not skip this step. Brining the ribs over night is more ideal.
  • These can also be cooked on the barbecue. Just follow the steps to when the ribs are steamed in the oven (Step 5) and then finish the ribs off on the barbecue.

Sticky Hoisin Ribs Recipe


Serves:
4
Preparation Time:
5 mins
(plus 2 hours to over night for brining)
Cooking Time:
1 hour

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp brown sugar
  • hot water and warm water
  • 700 g pork ribs
  • 100 g Hoisin sauce

METHOD

  1. Add the garlic, onion powder, salt and sugar to a medium sized baking dish. Add enough water to just add a layer of liquid to the bottom of the dish and mix well until the sugar and salt has dissolved.
  2. Add in the ribs and make sure they are coated in the liquid. Top up with warm/room temperature water such that the ribs are completely submerged in liquid.
  3. Cover with clingfilm and place the baking dish in the fridge for 2 hours to over night.
  4. Preheat oven to 180 °C fan (200 °C conventional/Gas Mark 6/400 °F).
  5. Transfer the ribs to another baking dish and cover with foil. Discard the brine. Bake the ribs with the foil on for 40 minutes. Increase the heat to 200 °C fan (220 °C conventional/Gas Mark 7/425 °F).
  6. Brush the ribs all over with hoisin sauce and return the ribs to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
  7. Brush the ribs all over with a second coat of hoisin sauce and turn the ribs over. Cook for another 10 minutes until the ribs are starting to go brown and the sauce begins to caramelise.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

This classic British dessert has become one of my favourite desserts to make at home. It consists of a light moist dark sponge, sweetened with dates and soaked in a delicious rich toffee sauce. I normally don’t tend to order this dessert when I go out to eat as I find it can sometimes be overly sweet, however I’ve perfected my recipe so it’s lighter on the sugars, but still super delicious. I also go against tradition by adding a tiny bit of cinnamon to the sponge. Now, the cinnamon flavour is not at all dominant in the end result, but you catch a hint of it as you eat the sponge and it really compliments the toffee-ness.

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Even if you’re not a fan of dried fruit in cakes or desserts, please do not over look this pudding. You really will not be able to tell that the dates are present in the sponge – especially since in my version I blend my dates before they are added to my sponge cake batter. This pudding is very easy to make and the flavour of the sponge coupled with the toffee sauce is superb.


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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Medjool Dates: This is the main sweetener in the sponge. It has a natural sweet toffee flavour and gives the sponge a lovely gooey moistness.
  • Tea Bag: Traditionally the dates are first soaked in tea prior to being mixed into the sponge batter. I’m not sure exactly why the tea is needed as there is no underlying tea flavour in the resultant cake, but it works.
  • Muscovado Sugar: Adds to the toffee flavour.
  • Butter: I use lightly salted butter in the sponge as well as in the toffee sauce as the saltiness contributes towards the toffee flavours.
  • Cream: This is used to make the toffee sauce. Double cream is typically used, but I use Elmlea Plant Double Cream Alternative and the resultant sauce is divine (you would never tell that it’s not dairy).

How To Make Sticky Toffee Pudding

Step One: Pre-heat oven to 160 °C fan (180 °C conventional/Gas mark 4/ 350 °F), and grease and line a rectangular baking tin roughly 21 cm x 30 cm (the base should be roughly the size of an A4 sheet of paper).

Step Two: Place 175 g Medjool dates in a ceramic bowl, pour over 150 ml hot water, add 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda and an English tea bag. Leave them to soak for at least 10 minutes, then remove and discard the tea bag and add in 1 tsp vanilla essence. Blitz the dates and the liquid in the blender for around 10 to 20 seconds until a smooth paste is formed. I use my Nutribullet for this.

Step Three: In the meantime, cream together 175 g lightly salted butter, 30 g brown sugar and 40 g muscovado sugar, and then whisk in 2 medium eggs, 100 ml whole milk and the date paste from Step One.

Step Four: Sift in 175 g self-raising flour and 0.25 tsp cinnamon, and fold them in to the liquid ingredients.

Step Five: Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for 25 – 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the sponge comes out clean.

Step Six: In the meantime make the toffee sauce. Place 75 g lightly salted butter, 70 g muscovado sugar and 150 ml double cream into a small saucepan over a gentle low heat. Cook until the butter and sugar has melted and the mixture is smooth, around 10 minutes. Do not allow it to bubble or boil.

Step Seven: When the sponge has baked remove it from the oven and spoon and smooth out half of the toffee sauce over the top. Leave the sponge for around 10 minutes to absorb the sauce before cutting it into squares and serving with the remaining warm toffee sauce.

How To Serve Sticky Toffee Pudding

  • Serve the warm sponge with warm toffee sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tips for Making Sticky Toffee Pudding

  • Soak the dates in hot water with a tea bag for at least 10 minutes to soften them up. Some people just mash the soaked dates with a fork, however I prefer a smoother sponge so I put the dates and all the liquid in the blender.
  • When preparing your baking tin, there’s no need to be neat. Simply grease the tin with butter and then cut a large rectangle of baking paper, slightly larger than the size of your tin to account for the sides. Scrunch the baking paper tightly into a ball and then un-crease it and smooth it into the tin. Don’t worry if the paper doesn’t sit flush against the tin as the sponge batter will expand as it bakes. The flavours definitely surpass the presentation in this dessert.
  • Go slow when making the toffee sauce – use a low heat and be patient. Do not allow it to boil as this will alter the flavour and texture of the sauce.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe


Serves:
12
Preparation Time:
15 minutes
Cooking Time:
25 – 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the sponge:

  • 175 g Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 150 ml hot water
  • 1 English tea bag
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175 g lightly salted butter
  • 30 g brown sugar
  • 40 g muscovado sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100 ml whole milk (or oat milk)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 175 g self-raising flour

For the toffee sauce:

  • 75 g lightly salted butter
  • 70 g muscovado sugar
  • 150 ml double cream (or plant-based alternative)

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 °C fan (180 °C conventional/Gas mark 4/ 350 °F), and grease and line a rectangular baking tin roughly 21 cm x 30 cm (the base should be roughly the size of an A4 sheet of paper).
  2. Place the dates in a ceramic bowl, pour the hot water on top and add the bicarbonate of soda and the tea bag. Leave them to soak for at least 10 minutes, then remove and discard the tea bag and add in the vanilla essence. Blitz the dates and the liquid in the blender for around 10 to 20 seconds until a smooth paste is formed. I use my Nutribullet for this.
  3. In the meantime, cream the butter and the sugars together and then whisk in the eggs, milk and the date paste.
  4. Sift in the flour and the cinnamon and fold them in to the liquid ingredients.
  5. Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for 25 – 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the sponge comes out clean.
  6. In the meantime make the toffee sauce. Place the butter, sugar and cream into a small saucepan over a gentle low heat. Cook until the butter and sugar has melted and the mixture is smooth, around 10 minutes. Do not allow it to bubble or boil.
  7. When the sponge has baked remove it from the oven and spoon and smooth out half of the toffee sauce over the top. Leave the sponge for around 10 minutes to absorb the sauce before cutting it into squares and serving with the remaining warm toffee sauce.

NOTES

  • This is great served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and the remaining warm toffee sauce.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This is such a fun retro cake, but until lockdown happened I’d never tried it before. Once I’d perfected my recipe I couldn’t stop making it. When I see the pretty pineapple and glace cherry topping makes me happy. The cake itself consists of a vanilla sponge, I add a little allspice to my cake for a Caribbean twist. The sponge is then topped with pineapple rings and glace cherries, and a buttery caramelised sugar syrup.

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Pineapple upside down cake is super easy to make and all the beauty of the presentation comes from how it is put together before it is baked. A layer of creamed butter and sugar is first spread on the bottom of the cake tin. The pineapple rings and glace cherries are then arranged on top of this sugar-butter mixture – you can have fun with this bit, but usually the glace cherry halves are placed in the centre of the pineapple rings. Next, the cake batter is poured on top. After the cake is baked it is then turned out onto a plate or cake stand, and voila – the pineapple and cherries now form a pretty topping.


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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Pineapple Rings: Forms the main topping of the cake and adds a slight fruity flavour to the sponge.
  • Glace Cherries: These are more decorative than for flavour.
  • Butter, Sugar, Eggs, Flour: General sponge cake ingredients.
  • Ground Allspice: Not a traditional ingredient in pineapple upside down cake, but it works really well with pineapple.

How To Make Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Step One: Pre-heat your oven to 160 °C fan (180 °C/350 °F/Gas Mark 4).

Step Two: Cream 50 g unsalted butter with 50 g caster sugar and spread this mixture on the bottom of a 18 cm cake tin.

Step Three: Arrange 6 pineapple rings on top of the butter sugar mixture. I overlap the rings in a circle. Add a 6 glace cherry halves to the centre of each of the pineapple rings such that the dome of the cherry faces down. If space permits add an additional glace cherry half to the centre of the pineapple ring circle.

Step Four: In the meantime make the cake batter. Cream together 100 g butter and 80 g caster sugar until pale and fluffy.

Step Five: Whisk in 2 medium eggs and 1 tsp vanilla essence.

Step Six: Sift in 100 g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/8 tsp ground allspice, then fold it in to the wet ingredients.

Step Seven: Pour the batter into the cake tin over the pineapple and glace cherries.

Step Eight: Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Step Nine: Allow the cake to cool in the cake tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a plate or a cake stand.

How To Serve Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  • This cake can be served warm or cold. It is perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tips for Making Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  • It is best to make this cake using a fixed bottom cake tin. However, if all you have is a loose bottom tin then be sure to place it on a baking tray as some of the butter-sugar syrup may leak.
  • Allow the cake to cool down for around 10 minutes before turning it out onto a plate or cake stand.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe


Serves:
8
Preparation Time:
10 minutes
Cooking Time:
45 – 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

for the topping:

  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 6 pineapple rings
  • 7 glace cherry halves

for the sponge cake:

  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 80 g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 100 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 °C fan (180 °C/350 °F/Gas Mark 4).
  2. Cream the butter and sugar and spread this mixture on the bottom of a 18 cm cake tin.
  3. Arrange the pineapple rings and glace cherries on top of the butter-sugar mixture.
  4. In the meantime make the cake batter. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale an fluffy.
  5. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla essence.
  6. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and allspice, then fold it in to the wet ingredients.
  7. Pour the batter into the cake tin over the pineapple and glace cherries.
  8. Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Allow the cake to cool in the cake tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a plate or a cake stand.

NOTES

  • If using a loose bottom cake tin, place it on a baking tray during baking as the butter syrup may leak.

Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake

This chocolate and cherry cake consists of multiple layers of chocolate sponge separated by layers of cherry jam and fresh cream. It’s super easy to make. The sponge can be made ahead and the cake can be assembled in a few minutes prior to eating. You can top it with additional cream, a sprinkling of cocoa powder and fresh stemmed cherries for a cute rustic look. It’s sure to impress at any tea party.

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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Self-raising flour: This gives the cake a light texture and gives it the right amount of rise as it bakes.
  • Cocoa Powder: Use good quality cocoa powder.
  • Cherry Jam: I use Hartley’s Best Black Cherry Jam
  • Cream: Whipped double cream works well. However I prefer to use Elmlea Plant Double Cream.

How To Make Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake

Step One: Pre-heat your oven to 160 °C fan, (180 °C conventional, 350 °F). Then grease and line two loose bottom 18 cm cake tins with baking paper. I use two of my trusty MasterClass 18 cm Deep Cake Tin.

Step Two: Add 200 g unsalted butter to a large mixing bowl, along with 200 g caster sugar and 1 tsp vanilla essence and cream them together until they are light and fluffy. I use my Russell Hobbs 24672 Desire Electric Hand Mixer.

Step Three: Add in 4 large eggs beaten a little at a time, whisking well after each addition.

Step Four: Sift in 200 g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 3 tbsp cocoa powder and fold in with a spatula.

Step Five: Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake tins. Bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Step Six: Leave cakes to cool in their tins for 10 minutes, before removing them from the tins. Place them on a wired baking rack to cool further.

Step Seven: Once the cakes have cooled down use a cake leveller, some dental floss or a long sharp knife to cut each one in half such that you end up with four layers.

Step Eight: Spread around 83 g cherry jam (approximately a third of the jam) on top of the first layer of chocolate sponge, leaving 2 cm from the edge. Top this with 50 ml whipped cream (around a quarter of the cream), then place the next layer of sponge on top. Repeat this for the next two layers of the cake.

Step Nine: Add the remaining 50 ml whipped cream to the top of the cake. Use a sieve to dust the top with 1 tsp cocoa powder, then top with 200 g fresh stemmed cherries, stems facing upwards.

How To Serve Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake

  • This is great for afternoon tea, bake sales or parties.

Tips for Making Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake

  • Ensure your butter (and eggs, if you keep your eggs in the fridge,) are at room temperature. Remove them from the fridge around an hour or an hour and a half before you’re ready to make the cake.
  • Do not over bake the sponge, as it will dry out at the edges.

Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake Recipe


Serves:
8 – 12
Preparation Time:
10 minutes
Baking Time:
20 – 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the sponge:

  • 200 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 large eggs beaten
  • 200 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder

For the filling and topping:

  • 200 ml double cream, whipped
  • 250 g cherry jam
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 200 g fresh stemmed cherries

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 °C fan, (180 °C conventional, 350 °F). Grease and line two loose bottom 18 cm cake tins. I use two MasterClass 18 cm Deep Cake Tins.
  2. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter, caster sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy. I use my Russell Hobbs 24672 Desire Electric Hand Mixer.
  3. Add the eggs in little by little, whisking after each addition.
  4. Sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, then fold in using a spatula.
  5. Divide the cake batter between the two baking tins. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the top of the cake springs back up when you press lightly on it, and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the cake tins. Allow them to cool further on a rack.
  7. When the cakes have cooled down, use a cake leveller, dental floss or a long sharp knife to cut each cake in half such that you end up with four layers.
  8. Spread a third of the jam on top of the bottom layer leaving 2 cm from the edge. Top this with a quarter of the whipped cream. Place a layer of chocolate sponge on top. Repeat this until the cake has four layers.
  9. Add the remaining whipped cream to the top of the cake. Lightly sift the cocoa powder on top and finally top with the cherries.

NOTES

  • You can alternatively use strawberry or raspberry jam for the filling and top with fresh berries.

Victoria Sponge

I remember Victoria Sponge cake being one of the first cakes I attempted to make by myself when I was younger, it’s what got me into baking. My mum had clipped the recipe out of a magazine for me and the measurements were in ounces. The outcome wasn’t too bad but it was a little bit meh – it was dense and the flavour always had a heavy eggy undertone, so I soon stopped making it.

Fast forward around seventeen years. One of my managers at work brought in the loveliest Victoria Sponge I’d ever tasted. It had the lightest texture and I soon fell in love with the cake once again. I decided to go on a quest to learn how to make it properly.

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The cake itself is easy to make and consists of a few simple ingredients, but I found that the true magic of the cake comes from the technique in which the ingredients are brought together. I will explain this in the “Tips” section below.


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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Unsalted Butter: This needs to be at room temperature to prevent the mixture from splitting/curdling.
  • Caster Sugar: Most Victoria Sponge recipes call for equal parts flour, sugar and butter, however I like mine a little less sweet. Therefore I reduce the sugar by around one third, since some of the sweetness will also come from the jam filling.
  • Eggs: This binds the ingredients together. It is also important for the eggs to be at room temperature to prevent curdling.
  • Self-raising flower: This is the base ingredient of the cake. Self-raising flour gives the perfect amount of rise.

How To Make Victoria Sponge

Step One: Preheat your oven to 150 °C fan (170 °C conventional / gas mark 4 / 338 °F).

Step Two: Grease and line two 18 cm round cake tins.

Step Three: Cream together 160 g unsalted butter, 1.5 tsp vanilla extract and 110 g caster sugar until light and fluffy.

Step Four: Add 3 beaten medium eggs to the sugar, butter and vanilla mixture one tablespoon at a time, mixing well between each addition of egg.

Step Five: Sift 160 g self-raising flour on top and fold it into the mixture using a wooden spoon.

Step Six: Divide the batter between the two prepared cake tins and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake springs back when you press lightly on the top and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Step Seven: Leave the cakes to cool for five minutes before removing from the tin and removing the baking paper. Leave cakes to cool on a wire rack.

Step Eight: Spread 125 g smooth strawberry jam on top of one of the cakes then top with 50 ml whipped double cream, before placing the other cake on top. Finally, sift 1 tbsp icing sugar over the top.

How To Serve Victoria Sponge

  • Serve with tea or coffee.

Tips for Making Victoria Sponge

Follow these 4 key tips to get the best results.

  • Tip 1: Ensure that the eggs and the butter are at room temperature before making the cake batter. This stops the batter from curdling. Curdled cake batter prevents the cake from rising adequately and results in crumbly cake.
  • Tip 2: Cream the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy. It’s really worth using an electric mixer for this step. Now this doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive – I made this successfully with a simple Silver Crest hand mixer from Lidl which served me well for a number of years. However, I recently upgraded to a Russell Hobbs 24672 Desire Hand Mixer, which I love – it’s a little quieter and more compact, but is still reasonably priced.
  • Tip 3: If the mixture does start to split/curdle when the eggs are added then I fix this by putting the mixture in the microwave for about 10 seconds.
  • Tip 4: When adding the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar mixture add it in a little at a time and mix well. Around one to two tablespoons of egg at a time is ideal. The mixing in between each addition aerates the cake batter which helps to produce that light and fluffy texture when baked.
  • Tip 5: Sift the flour and fold it in to the batter gently, this helps retain the air in the cake, again for that light fluffy texture at the end.

Victoria Sponge Recipe


Serves:
8
Preparation Time:
15 minutes
Baking Time:
30 – 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the sponge cake:

  • 160 g unsalted butter
  • 110 g caster sugar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 160 g self-raising flour sifted
  • 3 medium eggs beaten

For the filling:

  • 125 g smooth strawberry jam
  • 50 ml double cream whipped
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar for dusting

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 150 °C fan (170 °C conventional / gas mark 4 / 338 °F).
  2. Grease and line two 18 cm round cake tins. I would recommend the MasterClass 18 cm Deep Cake Tin which is superb quality.
  3. Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg to the sugar, butter and vanilla mixture one tablespoon at a time, mixing well between each addition of egg.
  5. Pour the flour in and fold into the mixture using a wooden spoon.
  6. Divide the batter between the cake tins and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake springs back when you press lightly on the top and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Leave the cakes to cool for five minutes before removing from the tin and removing the baking paper. Leave cakes to cool on a wire rack.
  8. Spread jam on top of one of the cakes then top with the cream, before placing the other cake on top. Finally, sift the icing sugar over the top.

NOTES

  • Most Victoria Sponge recipes use equal parts sugar, butter and flour, but I find this too sweet. In my version I’ve reduced the sugar by about a third since the jam also adds some sweetness.
  • I use Hartley’s Seedless Strawberry Jam for the filling.
  • I’m not that big on dairy so I substitute the cream with Elmlea Plant Double Cream Alternative. It has a lovely rich creamy taste and whips really well. It also has less fat than regular double cream, if you’d like to save some calories (I know it’s cake, but if it can taste great and be healthier that’s always a win in my book).

Frittata

This recipe was inspired by Harrison Ford’s character in the film Morning Glory. When the film ended I was left pondering a couple of questions: What exactly is a frittata (I’d previously had one for lunch at the canteen at work and to me it was just an omelette served at lunch time instead of breakfast)? And, What makes a frittata so special that the character only made it for the people that were special to him? I decided to do some research and have some fun in the kitchen finding out.

I now know that a frittata normally consists of eggs beaten with milk or cream that is poured over cooked meat or vegetables and slowly baked. Some people think of it as a crust-less quiche. It’s is normally eaten cold so it is perfect as a picnic food. However, I’ve found that I prefer to eat it warm, and it’s a brilliant dish for using up meats and veggies that you find in the fridge at the end of the week.

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In a frittata the meat or vegetables are cooked off before the egg is added so that any water they release evaporates. This gives the egg a firmer texture once it is cooked. The pan should also be really hot before adding in the eggs as this produces a fluffier frittata.

In essence I think a fritatta is definitely a bit more special than an omelette. Adding the cream to the egg, and herbs to the filling gives it a richer flavour. I also add minced garlic to the egg mixture which takes the flavours to yet another level. Indeed a fritatta is now my new go-to brunch recipe.


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Frittata Recipe

Serves: 2
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking/Baking Time: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large eggs
  • 60 ml double cream (1/4 cup)
  • 60 g grated cheddar cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 80 g mushrooms sliced (3 oz)
  • 60 g spinach roughly sliced (2 oz)
  • 4 spring onions finely chopped
  • 120 g ham chopped (4 oz)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 0.5 tsp dried mixed herbs

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 °C fan (200 °C conventional / gas mark 6 / 400 °F).
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, cream, cheese and garlic.
  3. Heat oil in an oven-proof frying pan over a medium heat.
  4. Add the mushrooms and cook for around 2 minutes. Then add in the spinach and cook for a further 5 minutes until any water they release has evaporated.
  5. Add in the spring onions and stir for around a minute before adding in the ham.
  6. Turn up the heat to high. Season with salt and pepper and mix in the herbs. Stir for another minute until the pan is sizzling.
  7. Spread the mushrooms and ham out using a wooden spoon then pour the egg mixture on top.
  8. Remove from the hob and place in the oven for 20 minutes until set.

NOTES

  • Serve warm or cold.
  • The ham and mushrooms and spinach can be substituted with other fillings just be sure to cook them before adding the egg to release and evaporate water they give off.
  • The double cream can be substituted for milk, just use 40 ml (1/8 cup + 1 tbsp) of milk instead since it has a thinner consistency.
  • A plant based double cream alternative (such as Elmlea Plant) can also be used here to reduce the dairy and fat content.

The Best Air Fryer Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

I am currently embroiled in a love affair with my new air fryer (yes, I’m such a kitchen geek)! I’d wanted one of these for a couple of years now, but had always talked myself out of buying one. I thought it would be just another kitchen gadget that I’d quickly loose interest in, that would remain on my kitchen counter taking up precious space. However, I could not have been more wrong. These things are amazing! I honestly wish I had bought one sooner. Somehow they add crispness and flavour to foods even without prior marinating (and I’m the marinating queen) and all with minimal oil.

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After lots of research I decided on the Ninja AF100UK as it seemed perfect for a family of four, and I have not been disappointed. It’s really easy to use (I used it without looking at the manual) and cleaning up is easy as the pan and grilling tray are non-stick and can be popped into the dishwasher. Honestly, I’ve found a way to use it every day since it arrived and the great thing is that I can make healthier meals for my family without compromising on the taste.

One of my kids’ favourite treats are freshly fried cinnamon sugar donuts (the kind I remember getting at the fair when I was little), so I decided to have a go at making an air fryer version based on the US style biscuit dough. The donuts are so quick and easy to make and cook in 5 minutes. They are then coated in butter and dipped in delicious cinnamon sugar – the butter gives the cinnamon sugar something to cling on to. The result is a tasty light and airy sugary donut that the family can easily polish off in one sitting. And unlike the deep fried version there was no excess oil to have to somehow discard afterwards.


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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Flour: I use plain flour
  • Baking Powder: Gives the donut a light and airy texture.
  • Butter: I use unsalted butter. This helps to ensure that the texture is not too dry.
  • Milk: My milk of preference is oat milk, but this will work well with whole dairy milk too. The milk binds the ingredients together.
  • Cinnamon Sugar: Just a simple mix of caster sugar and cinnamon, but the ratio has to be correct to get that perfect fair ground donut taste.

How To Make Air Fryer Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Step One: Pre-heat your air fryer at 200 °C for 3-5 minutes.

Step Two: Add 225 g plain flour to a large mixing bowl. Add in 1 tbsp baking powder, 0.25 tsp fine sea salt, 20 g caster sugar and 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg and mix well with a wooden spoon.

Step Three: Add in 75 g unsalted butter cold and cubed and use the tips of your fingers to rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles course bread crumbs.

Step Four: Use a measuring jug to measure out 80 ml milk. Add in 1 tsp vanilla essence and stir well.

Step Five: Slowly add in the milk mixture to the flour-butter breadcrumbs. Use a wooden spoon to bring the mixture together to form a soft dough.

Step Six: Roll the dough out onto a floured surface until it is around 1 cm thick. Fold the dough into three (like how you would fold an A4 piece of paper to fit into a DL envelope). Repeat this step two more times.

Step Seven: Now roll the dough out so that it is around 1.5 cm to 2 cm thick.

Step Eight: Use a 5 cm round cookie cutter to cut out 8 donuts. Roll the remaining dough into a ball and then roll out with a rolling pin again until it is 1.5 cm to 2 cm thick and cut out a further four donuts.

Step Nine: Use a shot glass to cut out donut holes from the donuts. Reserve the donut holes.

Step Ten: Brush the tops of the donuts and donut holes with some of the 200 g melted butter. Then turn the over and brush the other side with butter. Set aside the remaining butter

Step Eleven: Add the donuts to the crisper tray of the air fryer and air fry at 200 °C for 5 minutes, turning them half way for even cooking. Then add the donut holes to the air fryer and air fry them for 3 minutes, again turn them half way. Depending on the size of your air fryer you may need to cook the donuts and donut holes in batches.

Step Twelve: Use a silicone brush to brush the tops of the donuts and donut holes with the remaining melted butter. Then turn them over and brush the other side with butter. For a more indulgent donut brush the top and bottom of the donuts with butter twice. This allows the donut to absorb more butter.

Step Thirteen: In a large bowl mix together 75 g caster sugar and 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon.

Step Fourteen: Dip the donuts into the cinnamon sugar until they are coated. Enjoy them while they are warm.

How To Serve Air Fryer Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

  • Air Fryer donuts are definitely best served warm.
  • You can even make a chocolate dipping sauce for the donuts by mixing some Nutella with milk until it is the right consistency for dipping.

Tips for Making Air Fryer Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

  • Open the air fryer and check on the donuts regularly when air frying the donuts. You want the donuts to go brown, but not to be overcooked as they will dry out.
  • When brushing the donuts with butter really try to ensure that all the surfaces of the donuts are coated with butter, especially the holes. Really get your silicon brush in there.
  • Double brushing the donuts with butter once they are cooked enhances gives the donuts more flavour and also gives the cinnamon sugar more to cling on to.

Air Fryer Cinnamon Sugar Donuts Recipe


Makes:
12 donuts and
12 donut holes
Preparation Time:
15 minutes
Cooking Time:
3 – 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the donuts:

  • 235 g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 0.25 tsp fine sea salt
  • 20 g caster sugar
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 75 g unsalted butter cold and cubed
  • 80 ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract        
  • 1 medium egg beaten

For greasing the donuts before and after air frying:

  • 200 g melted butter

For the cinnamon sugar coating:

  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat air fryer to 200 °C for 3-5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and nutmeg.
  3. Add in the cold butter and use your finger tips to work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles course breadcrumbs.
  4. In a jug or cup mix together the milk and the vanilla essence.
  5. Slowly pour this milk mixture into the breadcrumbs mixture and use a wooden spoon to bring it together into a dough.
  6. Place the dough onto a floured surface and roll it out until it is around 1 cm thick. Fold the dough in 3 (like how you would fold an A4 sheet of paper if you were trying to fit it into a DL envelope). Roll out the dough again and repeat this twice.
  7. Now roll the dough out so that it is around 1.5 – 2 cm thick . Use a round cookie cutter to cut out 8 donuts. Roll the remaining dough into a ball and re-roll it out until it is 1.5 – 2 cm thick. Cut a further four donuts out.
  8. Brush the tops and bottoms of the donuts and donut holes with some of the melted butter.
  9. Place the donuts and donut holes onto the crisper try the air fryer. Cook the donuts for 5 minutes and the donut holes for 3 minutes. Turn them half way. You may need to air fry them in batches depending on the size of your air fryer.
  10. Brush the tops and bottoms of the donuts and donut holes with melted butter. You can brush them with butter twice for extra flavour.
  11. Make the cinnamon sugar by combining the sugar and the cinnamon. Dip the donuts and donut holes into the cinnamon sugar until they are coated.

NOTES

  • These are best devoured while they are warm.
  • Don’t over cook as they will get hard.

Paratha Roti

I love bread and pretty much anything full of carbs (though I really do try hard to to make sure I eat in moderation – so difficult). I’ve been experimenting with flat breads such as naan and tortillas, but I’m really loving roti at the moment, especially the Trinidadian-style paratha roti which also goes by the edgy name of “buss up shut”. This flat bread is soft but is super flaky. It is normally eaten with meat or lentil curries as the flaky texture of the roti makes it perfect for dipping into sauces. In Trinidad the colloquial term “buss up shut” refers a shirt that worn and torn up, the texture of the flaky parathas looks similar to this, hence the alias of “buss up shut” when referring to the roti.

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Rotis are surprisingly made from only a few basic ingredients that you’re already likely to have in your kitchen: flour, water, sugar , salt, oil, baking powder and butter. It is the technique when making the dough that produces the flakiness. In essence the dough is rolled out flat and brushed with butter before being rolled into a special cone shape and left to rest. Prior to cooking these dough cones are rolled out flat. It is the layers of dough separated by the butter that produces the flakes.


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Paratha Roti Recipe

Makes: 8 rotis
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 450 g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp caster sugar
  • 220 ml water
  • 115 g butter melted

METHOD

  1. In a large bowl add the flour, baking powder, oil, salt and sugar and mix well.
  2. Add the water in use your hands to form a dough. Knead it in the bowl for 2-3 minutes. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into eight balls.
  4. On a floured surface use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a thin circle approximately 27-28 cm in diameter.
  5. Brush the top surface of the dough circle with some of the melted butter and then lightly sprinkle some flour on top.
  6. Cut a radial slit from the centre of the dough circle to the edge. Take the dough at one edge of the slit and roll the dough into a tall cone enveloping the buttered surface. Place the cone on a plate and push inwards the peak of the cone.
  7. Repeat steps 4 to 6 for the remaining dough balls. Cover with clingfilm and leave these slightly flattened dough cones to rest for a further 30 minutes.
  8. On a low-medium heat brush the base of a frying pan with butter. Roll one of the dough cones out on a floured surface such that it forms a 28 cm diameter circle again. I use a Tefal frying pan for this, click here for more details.
  9. Place on the frying pan and brush the top surface with melted butter. Allow it to cook for around 3 minutes until it begins to puff up. Flip it over and allow the roti to cook for a further 3 minutes.
  10. Repeat steps 8 to 9 for the remaining dough cones.

NOTES

  • Serve with lentils or a curry.
  • These are also ideal for making wraps.

Banana Bread

I know I’m a bit late to the banana bread party (everyone seemed to be baking banana bread during quarantine/lockdown!), but I found myself making banana bread today and wanted to share my favourite go-to recipe. This banana bread is so quick and easy to make – it can be prepared in less than 10 minutes! The result is a moist banana bread that is not overly sweet. It’s ideal as a snack, but because it is less sweet than some versions it’s also really good for breakfast spread with Nutella.

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Banana Bread Recipe

Makes: 1 loaf
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Baking: 45-50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 115 g unsalted butter melted, plus extra for greasing the loaf tin
  • 3 medium bananas mashed
  • 2 large eggs beaten at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp almond essence
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 240 g plain flour

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 °C fan (190 °C conventional). Grease a 2lb (23 cm x 13 cm) loaf tin with unsalted butter.
  2. Pour the butter into a large bowl and mix in the bananas eggs, vanilla essence and almond essence.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and flour.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients one third at a time and mixing well.
  5. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean
  6. Leave to cool in the loaf tin for 5 minutes before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack.

NOTES

  • This is delicious served warm.
  • Great for breakfast spread with chocolate spread.