Fig and Ginger pudding

Fig and ginger puddingIngredients:

150g (5oz) dried figs, chopped
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g (3 ½ oz) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
185g (6oz) caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
210g (7oz) self-raising flour
1 heaped tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp pecan nuts, roughly chopped, to serve
Stem ginger, to serve

For the Sauce:

125g (4oz) unsalted butter, cubed
150g (5oz) brown sugar
200ml (6 ½ oz) cream

Ice Cream, to serve

Serves:  8     Prep time:  30 mins     Cook time:  40 mins

Step One:  Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Grease a 18cm (7in) round cake tin and line the base with baking paper.  Put the chopped figs in a bowl, add the bicarbonate of soda and pour over 300ml ( 9 ½ fl oz) of boiling water.  Set aside.

Step Two: Beat the softened butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition, then sift in the flour and ginger.  Add the soaked fig and the juice, then the vanilla and mix well.

Step Three:  Pour into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until risen and firm to touch.  A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.  Leave in the tin to cool, then carefully turn out on a baking tray.

Step Four:  When ready to serve, heat the oven to 200oC (gas mark 6).  Make the sauce by placing the butter, sugar and cream in a small saucepan.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Step Five:  Top the pudding with a few pieces of stem ginger and the pecans.  Pour a third of the sauce over the pudding and put in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.  Serve immediately on individual plates, and serve with the remaining hot sauce and cream or ice cream.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

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Chocolate and salted caramel tart

Caramel TartIngredients – For the Crust:

250g (8oz) digestive biscuits
125g (4oz) butter, melted

Ingredients – For the Caramel:

225g (7oz) caster sugar
10g (3 ½ oz) chilled butter
100ml (3 ½ fl oz) double cream
1 heaped tsp Maldon sea salt

Ingredients – For the Topping:

100g (3 ½ oz) caster sugar
2 eggs
2 extra egg yolks
250g (8oz) dark chocolate
150g (5oz) butter

Ice Cream, to serve

Step One:  Heat oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Lightly grease a 23cm (9 in) deep loose-bottomed tart tin.  Blend the biscuits in a food processor until finely crushed.

Step Two:  Place the biscuit crumbs in a bowl, add the butter and mix well.  Press the biscuit mixture evenly into the greased tin and up the sides.  Chill the base in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Remove the tart tin from the fridge, place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the base feels dry.  Set aside to cool.

Step Three:  To make the caramel, bring the sugar and 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) water to the boil in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Add the butter, return to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the mixture is a toffee colour.  Pour in the cream and salt and boil for another 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.  Allow to cool.

Step Four:  To make the chocolate topping, whisk the sugar, eggs and egg yolk for 4 minutes, or until thick and pale.  Gently melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water), leave to cool for a minute and then add to the sugar and egg mixture, whisking until smooth and glossy.

Step Five:  Spread the caramel over the cooled base and spoon over the chocolate mixture, spreading it evenly.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until it is almost set but still a bit wobbly.  Allow to cool in the tin.  Serve in thin slices with vanilla ice cream.

Tip: A food processor is the quickest way to crush the biscuits for the crust.  Alternatively, place the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

Recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Nectarine & Polenta Upside-Down Cake

This recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine – August 2015

Nectarine and Polenta upside down cakeThis cake, with an upside-down topping and moist, sandy texture, this charmingly retro cake is naturally gluten-free.  If you’re baking for someone who is sensitive to gluten, make sure to use gluten-free baking powder.

Serves:  6-8

Ingredients:  For the Sponge: 120g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing; 125g caster sugar; 2 eggs, lightly beaten; 75g ground almonds; 75g fine or ‘quick cook’ polenta; finely grated zest of 1 lemon; 1 tsp baking powder; pinch salt

For the Topping: 2 medium nectarines – or equal quantity of other stone fruit – skin on, stones removed; 75g light Muscovado sugar; juice of half a lemon

Step One: Preheat the oven to 190oC. Lightly grease a 20cm round cake tin with butter and line the bottom with baking parchment.  Generously grease the parchment with butter too.  It’s best not to use a loose-bottomed tin here, but if that’s all you have, tightly wrap a double layer of foil around the outside of the base to prevent juices escaping.

Step Two: Quarter the nectarines and cut them into thin slices.  Toss with the sugar and lemon juice, then arrange in a single layer, slightly overlapping, round the bottom of your tin.  Scrape any excess sugar syrup over the top.

Step Three: To make the sponge, cream butter and sugar in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, a little at a time, beating well between each addition.  Fold in the almonds, polenta, baking powder, lemon zest and salt.

Step Four: Spoon the batter over the nectarines, smooth the surface with a spatula, then tap firmly on the work-surface to remove any bubbles.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until risen and golden.

Step Five: Remove the cake from the oven, run a sharp knife around the edge, then leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The Ultimate Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut cream pieThis recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine.

Serves:  6-8   –   Prep time:  35 mins plus time to chill filling   –   Cook time:  20 mins

Ingredients:  400g (13oz) Hobnob biscuits; 75-100g (2 ½ – 3 ½ oz) unsalted butter, melted; 500ml (16 fl oz) double cream; 50g (1 ¾ oz) icing sugar; ½ tsp vanilla extract; 1 shot (30ml / 1 fl oz) of Malibu liqueur (or more)

To Decorate: Soft shredded coconut, such as Baker’s Angel Flake (do not replace with dessicated coconut), toasted; Dark chocolate, melted; White chocolate, melted

Coconut Pastry Cream:  250ml (8 fl oz) coconut milk; 50ml (1 ¾ fl oz) coconut cream; 3 tblsp caster sugar; 2 egg yolks; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 1 tsp coconut extract; 2 ½ tblsp cornflour; 50g (1 ¾ oz) unsalted butter

  1. Heat the oven to 145oC (gas mark 1 ½ ).  Grease a 23cm (9in) pie dish.  To make the crust, crush the biscuits to fine crumbs.  Add the melted butter – the amount of butter you need varies.  Squeeze a bit of the mixture into your hand to make a ball.  The mixture should hold its shape, but also fall apart when touched slightly.  If it doesn’t hold its shape too well, add more biscuits to absorb the butter.
  2. Press the mixture into the pie dish, going all the way up the sides. Cover with a round of greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans to the top.  Bake in the hot oven for 12-20 minutes until the crust is firm and dry. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
  3. To make the Malibu whipped cream, combine the cream, icing sugar, vanilla extract and Malibu in a bowl and whisk to stiff peaks.  Spread a thin layer of the Malibu whipped cream over the base of the baked pie shell.  Spoon the coconut pastry cream (see below) into te pie and level with spatula. Dollop the remaining Malibu cream on top.  Sprinkle toasted shredded coconut over the top and drizzle with dark and white melted chocolate.  Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

To Make the Coconut Pastry Cream

  1. Put the coconut milk and cream and half the sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir.  As soon as it comes to the boil, remove it from the heat and set aside.  Place the egg yolks, vanilla extract and coconut extract in a large, heatproof bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar and the cornflour and mix thoroughly.  Add to the egg yolks and whisk thoroughly. While the milk mixture is still hot, whisk it into the egg mixture in the bowl.  Strain the mixture back into the saucepan, set over a medium-low heat and whisk continuously until it reaches a boil.  Strain the mixture again into a bowl and stir in the butter until melted and thoroughly combined.  Lay a sheet of cling film directly on the surface of the pastry cream, then let cool.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.  When ready to use, whisk lightly to bring back to a semi-soft consistency.

Shredded Coconut:

Recipe taken from this book:

Apple Bourbon Pecan Cake

Apple bourbon pecan cakeThis recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine.

Serves: 8-12   –   Prep time: 20 mins   –   Cook time: 70 mins

Ingredients: 225g (7oz) unsalted butter, softened; 220g (7oz) plus 1 tblsp caster sugar; 220g (7oz) plus 1 tblsp dark brown soft sugar; 3 eggs; 280g (9oz) plain flour; 1 tsp baking powder; ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda; 1 tsp ground allspice; 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon; 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg; ¼ tsp ground cloves; ¼ tsp ground ginger; ¼ tsp ground cardamom; ½ tsp salt; 3 tblsp bourbon; 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks; 120g (4oz) shelled whole pecans, toasted and roughly chopped

  1. Heat the oven to 160oC (gas mark 2-3).  Grease a 20cm (8 in) round cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.  Using an electric mixer with paddle or beater attachment (or an electric whisk), beat the butter and both sugars until the mixture is almost light in colour and fluffy in texture.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until thoroughly combined before adding the next. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix again for 1 minute.
  2. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, all the spices and salt and sift twice. Add one third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated.  Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Pour the bourbon over the apples in a bowl and mix.  Fold the apples and pecans into the cake mixture.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
  3. Bake in the hot oven for 55-70 minutes.  A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached, and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly instead of sinking.  Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin for 10 minutes.  Slide a table knife all around the edge to loosen the cake, then remove from the tin. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.

Cake tin:

Recipe taken from this book:

Red Velvet Cake

red velvet cakeThis recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Serve:  8-12   –    Prep time:  40 mins plus time for cake to cool   –   Cook time: 25 mins

Ingredients:  2 eggs; 225g (7oz) caster sugar; 1 ¼ tsp salt; 250ml (8 fl oz) sunflower oil; 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract; 150ml (4 ½ fl oz) buttermilk; 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda; 2 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar; 225g (7 oz) plain flour; 1 ½ tblsp cocoa powder; ¾ tsp red food colouring paste

For the frosting: 250ml (8 fl oz) whipping cream, very cold; 175g (6oz) mascarpone; 175g (6oz) cream cheese; 85g (3oz) icing sugar, sifted; 2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Heat the oven to 170oC (gas mark 3).  Grease a 20cm (8 in) round cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.  Place the eggs, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. While whisking, add the oil in a steady stream until fully combined and the mixture thickens slightly. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  2. Place the buttermilk, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in a smaller, separate bowl.  The mixture should bubble quite actively and then fade.  In another bowl, combine the flour and cocoa powder and sift twice.  Add one third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until well incorporated.  Add half the buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined.  Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the buttermilk.  Finally, add the last third of the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.  Add the food colouring last and stir until thoroughly incorporated.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
  3. Bake in the hot oven for 28-35 minutes.  A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached, and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly rather than sink. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary.
  4. To make the cream cheese frosting, whisk the whipping cream to stiff peaks. Set aside. Put the mascarpone, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract in another bowl and beat until well combined.
  5. Add one third of the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and beat until combined. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream until thoroughly combined.  Refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Frosting must always be refrigerated, due to the fragility of whipped cream.
  6. Cut the cake horizontally into 3 equal layers.  Spread a little of the cream cheese frosting over one layer of cake and top with another layer.  Spread a little more frosting over the second layer and top with the final layer.  Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake using a spatula.
 Red Food Colouring Paste:

Recipe was taken from this book:

Espresso Bourbon Cake

Espresso bourbon cakeThis recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Serves: 8-12   –   Prep time: 30 mins plus time for cake to cool   –
Cook time:  40 mins

Ingredients:  225g (7oz) unsalted butter; 4 shots (approx. 120ml / 3 ½ fl oz) of good espresso; 110g (3 ½ oz) cocoa powder; 200g (6 ½ oz) caster sugar; 220g (7oz) dark brown soft sugar; 2 eggs; 75ml (2 ½ fl oz) bourbon; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 280g (9oz) plain flour; 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda; ½ tsp salt

  1. Heat the oven to 170oC (gas mark 3).  Grease a 20cm (8 in) round cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.  Place the butter in a large saucepan and melt, then stir in the espresso and cocoa powder.  Add both sugars and the eggs and whisk thoroughly.  Add 3 tblsp of the bourbon and the vanilla extra and set aside.
  2. Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large mixing bowl and sift twice. Slowly pour the espresso mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until well combined.  The mixture should be very liquid.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.  Bake for 28-35 minutes.  A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out with almost no crumbs attached and the middle of the cake, when pressed, should spring back slightly instead of sink. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes if necessary.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin for 10 minutes.  Slide a table knife all around the edge to loosen the cake, then remove from the tin. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.  Brush the remaining bourbon over the top before cutting in half horizontally and filling with frosting of your choice.

Cake Layer Guide:

Recipe taken from this book:

Doughnut Muffins

Doughnut muffins

This recipe is courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Makes about 22   –    Prep time: 25 mins   –    Cook time: 30 mins

Ingredients:  420g (13 ½ oz) plain flour; 4 tsp baking powder; ½ tsp salt; ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg; 330g (11oz) caster sugar; 2 eggs, lightly beaten; 375ml (12 fl oz) buttermilk; 2 tsp vanilla extract; 130ml (4 ½ fl oz) sunflower oil

For the coating and filling:  250g (8oz) unsalted butter, melted; 300g (10oz) caster sugar; about ½ jar of raspberry jam

  1. Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Grease two 12-hole muffin trays.  Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add all the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.  Don’t overmix.  Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray holes, filling them three quarters of the way up.
  2. Bake in the hot oven for 22-30 minutes.  A wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out dry and crumbly.  While the muffins are baking, put the melted butter and sugar in their own shallow bowls and set aside.
  3. Remove the muffin trays from the oven and tip the doughnuts out.  Immediately dip the muffins in the melted butter, then roll in the sugar to liberally and evenly coat.
  4. Fill a piping bag with jam. Push he nozzle/tip through the top (or bottom if you want it to look neater) of the doughnut, up to midway.  Pipe about 1 tblsp of jam inside each doughnut and serve immediately.

Disposable piping bags for filling the muffins with the jam:-

Recipe taken from this book:

Foolproof Carrot Cake

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Foolproof Carrot cakeThis cake is light with a soft texture.  It is based on a simple pound cake recipe, but the butter is replaced with vegetable oil and a luscious cream cheese and orange icing added on top. Make this in a shallow rectangular brownie tin and serve it cut into squares.

Serves : 12   –   Prep time : 25 mins   –   Cook time : 40 mins

For the cake: 250ml (8 fl oz) vegetable oil; 250g (8oz) caster sugar; finely grated zest of ½ orange; pinch of salt; 3 large free-range eggs, beaten; 250g (8oz) self-raising flour, sifted; 250g (8oz) grated carrot (about 3 large carrots)

For the icing: 400g (1oz) cream cheese (reduced fat, if you prefer); 75g (2 ½ oz) icing sugar, sifted; finely grated zest of ½ orange; 1-2 tblsp orange juice

  1. Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Grease a shallow 20 x 30cm (8 x 12in) cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper, extending the paper 5cm (2 in) above the edge of the tin, to help remove the cake later.
  2. Place the oil, sugar, orange zest and salt in an electric mixer and mix on medium speed until well beaten.
  3. Transfer the beaten eggs to a jug.  Reduce the speed of the mixer and, with the motor running, gradually add the egg to the mixture, followed by an occasional spoonful of the flour.  Sift over the remaining flour and gently fold in with a large metal spoon until smooth.  Fold in the grated carrot.
  4. Spoon the batter into the tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
  5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then, using the overhanging baking paper turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To make the icing, use a hand-held electric beater to combine all the ingredients until smooth and light.  Spread over the top of the cake. Cut into 12 squares and serve.

Classic Fudge Brownies

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Classic fudge browniesDo you like yours fudgy and soft in the centre, or cake-like and full of nuts?  There are probably more variations on the basic brownie than any other chocolate treat. These are definitely the gooey version.  Brownies need no decorating, serve as they are with perhaps a dusting of cocoa or icing sugar.

Makes : 15  –  Prep time : 20 mins  –  Cook time : 25 mins

Ingredients:  300g (10oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped (look for chocolate with at least 50% cocoa solids); 300g (10oz) unsalted butter, chopped; 5 free-range eggs; 400g (13oz) caster sugar; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 150g (5oz) plain flour; 50g (1 ¾ oz) cocoa powder; ½ tsp baking powder; pinch of salt; 100g (3 ½ oz) dark chocolate chips

  1. Heat the oven to 180oC (gas mark 4).  Grease a shallow 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 in) baking tin and line with baking paper (leave a little overhanging the two long sides to help remove the brownies from the tin).
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water).  All to cool.
  3. Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer and beat for about 4 minutes or until thick, pale and fluffy.  Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture.
  4. Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and fold in using a large metal spoon, until smooth.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.  Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface.
  5. Bake for 30-35 mins or until the top has formed a crust. It should be firm to the touch but still a bit moist in the centre.  Allow to cool in the tin, then remove and cut into squares. Store the brownies in an airtight container for up to 2 days.