I would love to provide a picture of the cake as a whole with its silky, chocolate custard covering but once I removed it from the fridge to serve, it didn’t last two seconds before everyone crowded round for a slice! I made this for my little brother’s birthday. He is a massive chocolate fan and this cake certainly delivers in that respect.
For the chocolate sponges:
150ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
200g plain flour
70g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g light brown soft sugar
100ml strong coffee
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
For the chocolate custard:
250g golden caster sugar
500ml full-fat milk
140g chocolate, 85% cocoa solids, broken into cubes
2 tsp espresso powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
Make the custard first as it needs to chill. Put all the ingredients, except the vanilla, in a large pan and bring gently to the boil, whisking all the time, until the chocolate has melted and you have a silky, thick custard. It will take 5-7 minutes from cold. Stir in the vanilla and a generous pinch of salt then scrape the custard into a wide, shallow bowl. Cover the surface with cling film, cool then chill for at least 3 hrs or until cold and set.
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins with baking parchment – if your cake tins are quite shallow, line the sides to a depth of at least 5cm. Put flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, light brown soft sugar and 1 tsp salt in a bowl and mix well. If there are any lumps in the sugar, squeeze these through your fingers to break them up.
Measure the buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a jug. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until well combined. Pour the cake mixture evenly into the two tins, and bake for 25-30 mins until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool.
To assemble, cover one of the cake layers with a generous helping of the custard. Add the second layer to the top of this and spoon the remaining custard on top of the cake then spread it around the top and down the sides until smooth. Chill for 15 minutes to firm up the custard again.
Chill for 2 hours, or longer if possible, before serving, and eat it cold. This cake can be made up to 2 days ahead. The cake gets fudgier and more enticing the longer you leave it. The coffee in the recipe cannot be tasted but really brings out the intense cocoa flavours in the custard and the sponge and the addition of a small pinch of salt in the custard really intensifies the chocolate even further.
Bierocks are made with a yeasted dough to form a pastry casing for a savoury filling of meat and cabbage and originating from Eastern Europe.
Ever in search of new ways with mince, this recipe also provides an interesting, tasty and cheap combination of ingredients that also provide a hand held snack that pairs perfectly with a cold beer. Winner!
500g strong white flour
1 7g sachet fast action yeast
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
100ml whole milk
100ml hot water
500g lean beef mince
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Make the bread dough:
Put the flour, yeast, egg, salt and sugar into a bowl.
Add the hot water to the milk and add gradually to the mixture until it comes together into a soft dough. You may need more liquid, depending on the moisture in the flour and egg.
Knead the mixture for ten minutes, cover and set aside to rise for an hour.
Make the filling:
Heat a non-stick saucepan over a medium high heat and crumble in the meat. No need to have any oil, even lean mince has a certain amount of fat in it which will come out as the meat cooks.
Stir the meat around until it is browned and shiny.
Add the onion and continue stirring while the onion softens.
Finally add in the cabbage and cook until the cabbage has softened – probably no more than 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the salt and pepper, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
When the dough has risen, tip out and pat down.
Divide dough into pieces weighing 75-80g.
Roll dough out into a 15cm square.
Put a large tablespoon of the cooled filling into the middle of the dough.
Add 1 teaspoon of the grated cheese, if using.
Bring the corners of the dough together and pinch along the edges to seal in the filling. What you will end up with looks like the back of an envelope.
Turn the buns over and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Dust the buns with flour and set aside to rise for 15-20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan.
Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.
Remove the buns from the oven and immediately cover the baking sheet with some tea-towels. This will trap the heat and create steam, which will soften the crust of the buns.
150g/5oz Caerphilly cheese or Welsh Cheddar, finely grated
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp English mustard
½ tsp flaked sea salt
5 tbsp sunflower oil
freshly ground black pepper
For the sausages, melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the leek gently for 8-10 minutes, or until very soft but not coloured.
Put 100g/3½oz of the breadcrumbs, the parsley, thyme and cheese in a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Beat the egg yolks with the mustard, salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper in a separate bowl.
Remove the frying pan from the heat and tip the leeks into the bowl with the breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and mix together well with a large wooden spoon until well combined. Divide the leek mixture into eight portions and roll into sausage shapes. Place the sausages onto a tray lined with cling film.
Whisk the egg whites lightly in a bowl with a large metal whisk until just frothy. Sprinkle 40g/1½oz breadcrumbs over a large plate. Dip the sausages one at a time into the beaten egg and roll in the breadcrumbs until evenly coated, then place on the baking tray. Chill the sausages in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Heat the oil into a large non-stick frying pan and fry the sausages over a medium heat for 10-12 minutes, turning regularly until golden-brown and crisp. Serve the sausages with what you fancy. I chose baked beans!
8 Spring onions – white and green part, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
1 TBSP Fish Sauce , divided
1 TBSP Lemongrass , white part only – minced
1 TBSP Fresh Coriander – roughly chopped
5 Cups Chicken Broth , divided
1 Cups Water
1 Thai Chili – sliced (optional)
2 TBSP Miso (I used white)
2 TBSP Vegetable Oil
2 heads Baby Pak Choy , quartered into wedges (can substitute 1 regular head)
¼ tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes , plus more for garnish
Salt and Pepper , to taste
Make the Meatballs: In a large bowl combine the chicken/turkey, panko, minced garlic, soy sauce, grated ginger, half the spring onions, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, lemon grass, coriander and 2 tablespoons of broth. Gently mix, just until combined. Use your hands to scoop out about a tablespoon and form mixture into (1’’-diameter) meatballs. Transfer to a plate or clean work surface lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all meatballs are formed. I had 22.
In a medium pot over medium heat, combine remaining broth, water, Thai chili, smashed garlic, onion, sliced ginger, 1 tablespoon fish sauce and remaining scallions. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove solids and discard. In a small bowl combine miso with 2 tablespoons of the broth and whisk to combine. Add the miso mixture to the pot of broth. Stir to combine.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add meatballs to the pan (in batches if necessary to not overcrowd the pan) and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, about 6-8 minutes. Remove and transfer to a clean plate.
Add the pak choy and crushed red pepper flakes to the broth. Simmer until pak choy is almost tender, about 3 minutes.
Add in the meatballs and bring broth back to a simmer. Simmer until meatballs are cooked through, about 5-8 minutes. Taste broth and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
Serve garnished with spring onions and crushed red pepper flakes.
The rich, umami flavour of miso in this sticky Japanese-style marinade is a perfect pairing for fish.
The fish is wrapped in a foil parcel and baked in the savoury juices resulting in meltingly tender flesh with a satisfying flavour that is so easy and quick to create.
2 tbsp shiro miso
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp light soy sauce
½ tsp toasted sesame oil
30g fresh ginger, grated
2 sustainable cod fillets (around 150g each)
2 spring onions, finely sliced, plus extra to garnish
Handful fresh coriander, plus extra to garnish
Steamed rice and griddled pak choi
Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan. Mix together the miso, mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger in a small bowl.
Lay each piece of cod on a piece of foil large enough to enclose it, then spoon half the miso mix on top of each. Add the spring onions and coriander, then tightly seal to make parcels.
Put the 2 parcels into a baking dish, transfer to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Divide the rice and pak choi between 2 plates. Unwrap the parcels, lift out the contents and serve the fish on top of the rice, with extra coriander and spring onions on the side. Add lime wedges for squeezing.
Spiced cod flatbreads with preserved lemon and avocado salsa, pul biber onions and harissa lime yoghurt
A vibrant dish of aromatic spiced cod with fragrant yoghurt and zesty salsa all wrapped up in a crisp, garlicky flatbread. The flavours going on here are insane. Zesty freshness from the lemony salsa, velvety cod in delicate spices, garlicky charred bread, zingy crunchy onions, creamy avocado, peppery heat, I could go on but I won’t hold you from the recipe any longer. This takes a bit of time to prepare as there are a few stages but it is in no way difficult and the result is so worth it!
You can use turmeric powder if you can’t find fresh turmeric root but it is quite readily available in most large supermarkets and gives a beautiful flavour, not to mention the health benefits.
Similarly, you can substitute paprika for the Aleppo pepper but if you can, try and source it as it has a mild fruitiness that is particularly tasty in this dish.
For the spiced cod:
2 tbsp Greek-style yoghurt
2 inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and finely grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
300g cod loin, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
For the flatbreads:
30g/1oz unsalted butter
175g/6oz plain flour
100ml/3½fl oz semi-skimmed milk
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tsp garlic granules
1 tbsp olive oil
For the harissa and lime yoghurt:
280g Greek-style yoghurt
1 heaped tbsp rose harissa
1 lime, zest and juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salsa:
small handful dill, roughly chopped
4 preserved lemons, deseeded and very finely chopped
1 tbsp barberries (optional)
½ ripe avocado, finely diced
2 tsp nigella seeds
For the pul biber onions:
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 heaped tsp of pul biber/Aleppo pepper chilli flakes
To make the spiced cod, mix 2 tablespoons of the yoghurt with the turmeric and crushed garlic. Season well with salt and pepper and marinate the cod for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, to make the flatbreads, melt the butter and combine with the remaining ingredients, except for the oil. Mix until a firm dough has formed. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
To make the salsa, mix the ingredients together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
To make the pickled onions, combine all the ingredients in a plastic container with a lid. Put the lid on and shake until the onions lose their rigidity. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
To make the harissa and lime yoghurt, mix everything together, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Divide the dough into four and roll into thin rounds. Preheat a large frying pan over a medium heat. Brush the hot pan with the oil and grill the flatbreads for about 45–60 seconds on each side until lightly browned.
To make the cod, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the cod and brown on all sides until just cooked through.
To serve, divide the cod between 4 flatbreads and dollop a generous amount of the yoghurt on top. Add the salsa, some onions and sprinkle over extra Aleppo chilli flakes or nigella seeds.
Originally made with chicken, lamb or beef, giovetsi is a one pan Greek dish where everything is baked together to bubbling perfection to create an aromatic and delicious meal.
The orzo is toasted in the pan before adding the liquid to give a wonderfully nutty flavour. I have used halloumi to top and sausage meat to create meatballs purely because that is what I had but as with all my recipes, feel free to substitute for whatever you prefer. You will still end up with a gorgeous dinner!
Sausage meat from 2 sausages, casing removed
½ large onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp breadcrumbs
1 pinch of rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp tomato puree
pinch of ground cinnamon and oregano
½ cup of orzo
1 ½ cups of chicken stock
Add the sausagemeat, breadbrumbs, seasoning, rosemary and half the onion in a bowl and mix well. Shape the mix into small meatballs. (I made 8).
Pre-heat the oven to 180C
In a frying pan, over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp oil and gently fry the sausage balls on all sides until browned all over. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add your onions and peppers to the pan and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until softened.
Add the Orzo and stir for a few minutes to toast the kernels.
Add the hot stock, tomato puree, cinnamon and oregano and bring to a boil while stirring. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Transfer to an oven-proof baking dish and add your meatballs.
Fry a few strips of halloumi in the same pan until lightly browned and top the orzo with these then bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until most of the juices have been absorbed and the top is golden brown.