A fantastically easy and delicious recipe for a sticky toffee date cake here. This can be enjoyed hot or cold and keeps incredibly well for up to 5 days if you can resist it for that long. The dates turn into fudgy little nuggets in a moist caramel sponge for ultimate comfort. Great served with caramel sauce, custard, ice cream, yoghurt or even eaten on its own with a brew.
- 200g of dried dates, roughly chopped
- 275ml of boiling water
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 175g soft light brown sugar
- 150g baking margarine, room temperature
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 175g self-raising flour
- A pinch of salt
- Pour the boiling water over three quarters of the dates
- Leave to soak for 30 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 160C fan/180C conventional
- Blending together the butter , sugar and the soaked dates (including the soaking water)
- Add the eggs and finally stir in the self-raising flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda
- Finally stir in the remaining unsoaked dates
- Pour into a 30cm square cake tin lined with greaseproof paper
- Bake for 30-40 minutes or until firm to the touch
- Allow to cool , cut into squares and serve
What’s not to like about chocolate, custard and bread? I’ll tell you. Nothing.
I know it is only January but yes, hot cross buns line the bakery isles already and these chocolate and salted caramel versions from Tesco are no exception. Ever a sucker for the end of isle specials, I found that a few packs had made their way into my shopping bags. And what better way to enjoy them than baked up in a wonderfully gooey, fluffy and light chocolate studded custard? Again, nothing.
Ridiculously easy and ridiculously tasty. Give it a go.
- 6 chocolate and salted caramel hot cross buns
- 25g butter
- 75g dark chocolate chips
- 2 large eggs
- 250ml milk
- 1tbsp caster sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Heat the oven to 170°C, 150°C Fan.
- Cut the hot cross buns in half and butter the cut sides, sprinkle with half of the chocolate chips, sandwich together again and place in a baking dish.
- Beat the egg milk, sugar, salt and vanilla together and pour over the buns. Scatter with the remaining chocolate chips and bake for 30 minutes or until just set.
- Serve with custard or ice cream.
Happy New Year! Have I got a treat for you?
This gorgeous chocolate roulade is made without flour so it’s light as a feather. The cake is rich and chocolatey yet light and almost mousse-like from the pillowy egg whites.
I am not usually a huge fan of cream but the Baileys filling is light and subtle. I cannot describe what a joy this cake is to make and to eat so you’re just going to have to try it yourself.
I have included some tips for the assembly but don’t worry if the cake cracks as this is part of its charm.
- butter, for greasing
- 175g (6oz) plain dark chocolate (about 70 per cent cocoa solids)
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 175g (6oz) caster sugar
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 300ml (10fl oz) double cream
- 4 Tbsp Baileys Irish Cream liqueur
- icing sugar, sifted, for dusting
You will need a Swiss roll tin, 30cm x 23cm (12in x 9in) and 2cm (¾ in) deep.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan/350°F/gas 4). Lightly grease the Swiss roll tin with butter and line with baking parchment. It helps to make a small diagonal snip at each corner of the baking parchment, about 3cm (1¼ in) long, so the paper fits snugly into the corners of the tin.
- Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. The base of the bowl must not touch the water. Leave until just melted, then remove from the heat, stir and leave the chocolate to cool slightly. (See below, Make a light cake, step 1.)
- Meanwhile, place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk using an electric hand whisk on high speed until fluffy and stiff, but not dry.
- Tip the caster sugar and egg yolks into another large bowl and whisk on high speed until light, thick and creamy, for about 1½ minutes. Pour in the cooled chocolate and stir until blended. Add two large spoonfuls of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and mix gently, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Sift the cocoa and fold it into the mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. (See below, Make a light cake, step 2.)
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cake is well risen and firm on top. Remove the cake from the oven and set aside, leaving it in its tin until cold (expect it to dip and crack a little).
- Place the cream in a bowl with the Baileys Irish Cream liqueur and whip until thick enough to just hold its shape. If insufficiently whipped it will be too runny to spread; if over-whipped it will become too thick to spread evenly.
- Lightly dust a large piece of baking parchment with icing sugar. Turn the cake out on to the parchment and carefully peel off the lining paper. Spread the surface of the cake with the whipped cream, leaving a bare rim of about 2cm (¾ in) all the way around the edges. With one of the short ends near you, make a score mark 2cm (¾ in) in from this edge, being careful not to cut right through. Starting at this point, tightly roll up the roulade. Transfer the roulade to a serving platter or board. (See below, Roll a neat roulade.)
Keys to perfection:
Make a light cake:
- As soon as the chocolate has melted, take the pan off the heat so the chocolate doesn’t overheat or it will become too stiff; it needs to be a pourable consistency. Stir, lift the bowl off the pan and leave the chocolate to cool until it feels tepid. If the chocolate is too hot when stirred into the egg yolks it will start to cook them.
- Pour the cake mixture into the buttered and lined Swiss roll tin. The mixture should be light and airy now that the egg whites have been added. Ease it into the corners and smooth the surface level using a spatula. Do this very gently, so that you don’t squash out the air that you have just whisked in.
Roll a neat roulade:
- Leave the roulade cake to cool completely before you tip it out of the tin. Run a small palette knife around the inside of the baking parchment in the tin to loosen the cake, so you can turn it out easily without it breaking.
- Gently turn the cake out on to a large sheet of baking parchment that has been lightly dusted with icing sugar. Carefully loosen the parchment that surrounds the cake and peel it off, making sure you don’t take the cake with it.
- Using a palette knife, spread the cream evenly over the roulade, so you will get a uniform spiral of cream in each slice. Rather than spread the cream right up to the edges, leave a gap of about 2cm (¾ in) all round, or the cream will start to ooze out as you start rolling.
- Use a sharp knife to make a score mark 2cm (¾ in) in from a short edge, and cut about halfway through the cake on the score line. This will be a useful starting point when you start rolling and will give you a tighter, neater roulade.
- Roll the cut edge over tightly to start with, using the baking parchment to help keep it all tight by gently pulling it up and over the roll. Don’t worry if the cake cracks – that is quite normal and will be part of the roulade’s charm.
- Keep rolling, again using the parchment to help by pulling it up and over as you roll. After rolling, ensure the join is underneath, as this will keep the roll secure, then transfer the roulade to a platter using a large, wide spatula or two fish slices.
So as I have already mentioned, I recently returned from a holiday in France and upon leaving the little gite, I was presented with a huge bag of plums from the hosts who had been busy harvesting the variety of wonderful trees in their garden. I have never really been overly fussed about plums but being one not to let anything go to waste, I thought I’d try my hand at baking something with them and this pudding is the result.
Sharp plums are topped with a light sponge flavoured with almonds and scented with zesty lemons for a really satisfying treat.
- 8 ripe plums, quartered and stoned
- pinch cinnamon
- zest 2 lemons
- 4 tbsp brandy (optional)
- 100g soft butter
- 100g light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 100g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 50g ground almonds
- 3 tbsp flaked almond
- Custard/cream/icecream, to serve
- Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Toss the plums, cinnamon, lemon zest and brandy together in a bowl, then leave to macerate while you make the batter.
- Cream the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time then tip in the flour, almond extract and ground almonds. Mix until completely combined.
- Tip the fruit into a buttered shallow baking dish, spoon over the cake batter, then sprinkle over the flaked almonds. Bake for 35-40 mins until browned and cooked through. Test if the pudding is ready by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean, the pudding is ready. If there is some batter on the skewer then give it a few minutes more. Remove from the oven and serve warm with custard.
Fancy a hearty, warming pudding but don’t have much time? Look no further! You can whip up this mix and cook it in the microwave giving you a light fluffy sponge soaked in syrupy goodness in minutes. No need to thank me, just get some custard and enjoy!
You can try this recipe with lots of different toppings. Try different flavours of jam or marmalade. You can even try flavouring the sponge. Add lemon or orange zest, sultanas, chocoloate chips or even mashed banana.
- 4oz margarine
- 4oz caster sugar
- 4oz plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- 3 tablespoons jam or golden syrup
- Cream margarine and caster sugar together. Beat in the eggs and fold in the sieved flour and baking powder. Add the hot water.
- Grease a 1 ½ pint heatproof bowl with margarine and place the jam or syrup in the bottom. Heat on full power for 30 seconds.
- Add the sponge mixture. Cover loosely with cling film and heat on full power for 5-6 minutes. Timing will depend on the topping used. Remove from the microwave and leave to stand for a few minutes before turning out.
- Serve with loads of custard or ice cream – obligatory!
Bread and butter pudding is a traditional English pudding that goes easy on the wallet and is a fantastic way to use up your old loaves. It is one of my all-time favourites! Bread that is a couple of days old works best for this as it soaks up the lovely eggy custard so you get a crunchy, golden top and a soft, delicate centre. Don’t use pre-sliced bread. It is nowhere near as nice. You’ve been warned.
- 8 slices white bread
- freshly grated nutmeg
- approx 2 0z (50 g) caster sugar
- 1/2 oz (10g) candied lemon or orange peel, finely chopped
- 2 oz (50 g) currants
- 10 fl oz (275 ml) milk
- 2½ fl oz (60 ml) double cream
- 2 oz (50 g) caster sugar
- 1tsp cinnamon (optional)
- 3 eggs
- demerara sugar, for sprinkling
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160 fan.
- You will also need a 2 pint (1.2 litre) enamel baking dish (one of the oblong kind), well buttered.
- Butter the bread, remove the crusts and cut each slice of buttered bread in half. Now arrange one layer of buttered bread over the base of the baking dish, sprinkle the candied peel and half the currants over, then cover with another layer of the bread slices and the remainder of the currants.
- Next, in a glass measuring jug, measure out the milk and add the double cream. Stir in the caster sugar and cinnamon (if using) then whisk the eggs, first on their own in a small basin and then into the milk mixture. Pour the whole lot over the bread, sprinkle over some freshly grated nutmeg and demerara sugar then bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until golden. Serve warm with cream, ice-cream or custard.
Top tip: To make your pudding boozy, soak the dried fruit in 2 tbsp of brandy, whisky or rum before adding. The liquid will make the fruit really plump and luxurious and infuse your pudding with a subtle boozy, warming flavour.
These are actually pretty easy to make, and although they may not be the most fancy to look at, the taste is an absolute TOUR DE FORCE. Try them and see!
For the base:
- 200g plain flour
- 50g soft unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 50g vegetable shortening (I used Trex)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (reserve the zest of the whole lemon for the topping – and zest it BEFORE you cut it)
- 2 tbsp iced water
For the topping:
- 1 x 454g tin golden syrup
- 25g soft unsalted butter
- approx 150g fresh breadcrumbs, or around 550ml in a measuring jug
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 egg, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C fan. Line a 20cm x 30cm baking tin with foil and grease, or grease a foil tray.
- Put the flour, butter and vegetable shortening for the base into a food processor and blitz until you have a ‘crumbly rubble’.
- Combine the lemon juice and iced water, and pour down the funnel whilst the processor is running until the mix clumps together making a dough.
4. Press this out into your tray.
5. When evenly spread to a satisfactory level, bake this in the oven for 20 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, melt the golden syrup and the 25g of butter in a saucepan on a low heat. When combined, stir in the breadcrumbs, and then remove from the heat.
- Allow to cool a little, and then mix in the lemon zest and egg.
- When the pastry base is ready, pour this crumby mixture over it (no need to let the base cool or anything first, just go for it), smooth over, and pop back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
When it’s ready, the filling should be slightly risen and look dry around the edges, but still a bit squidgy in the middle.
I think this is best served slightly warm so if (and I emphasise ‘if’ there are any left), warm them slightly before eating and serve with ice cream for a proper tasty pud’!