You will also need a bundt pan with a base measurement of 20 cm (8 inches), greased and dusted with flour, or a 20 cm (8 inch) springform cake pan, sides greased and dusted with flour, base lined with baking parchment.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).
Break up the chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl with half the milk. Sit the bowl over a pan of just simmering water to melt the chocolate, about 5 minutes. Make sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir the chocolate and milk until combined and then put to one side to cool.
Now in a small bowl, lightly whisk together the remaining milk, crème fraîche (or sour cream), and brandy. Put to one side.
Next, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Now gradually add the eggs until the mixture is smooth. Occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the mixture.
Using a large metal spoon fold in half the flour with a pinch of salt and then add half the milk mixture. Repeat using the remaining flour and milk mixture.
Spoon slightly less than half the cake mixture into a separate bowl and quickly mix in the melted chocolate.
Then combine both batches of the cake, marbling lightly so that both mixtures are still apparent.
Carefully spoon into the prepared cake pan and bake for 40 minutes, until a fine skewer comes out clean when poked through the centre of the cake.
Leave in the pan until the cake is fairly cool and then turn out on to a wire rack.
Perfect for use in festive baking, fruit cakes, fruit buns, and more.
Mixed peel is very difficult to find in North America. I like to use it when baking fruit cakes and fruit buns, and especially when it comes to traditional English festive recipes.
The traditional fruits to use are lemons and oranges and this is a very simple recipe. One advantage is that you can freeze it in small batches so it will be there just when you need it.
Homemade Traditional Mixed Peel
Preparation time: 50 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Standing time: 2–3 days
5average sized citrus fruits, traditionally lemons and oranges
280g(10 oz) granulated sugar (1½ cups)
Wash the fruit, scrubbing the peel, and then cut each fruit in half.
Squeeze the juice from the fruit which can then be refrigerated and used in other recipes.
Now cut each piece of fruit in half again so you are working with a quarter piece.
With a sharp knife, scrape out all the remaining fruit segments, leaving as much of the pith as possible.
Then cut the peel into approximately 0.75 cm (¼ inch) wide pieces and put in a large pan.
Add water to the pan so it just covers the peel and then bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Drain as much of the liquid as possible by using a colander and then tip the peel back into the pan.
Repeat the process by just covering the peel with fresh water. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Now, drain off the liquid again, but this time reserve 120 ml (4 fl oz) (½ cup).
Put the peel in a bowl and leave on one side.
Now pour the reserved liquid into the pan and add 120 ml (4 fl oz) (½ cup) water.
Take two thirds of the sugar, 190 g (6½ oz) (1 cup), and add it to the pan.
Gently bring the liquid to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Once the sugar syrup has come to a boil, pour it over the peel. Cover the bowl and leave to stand overnight.
Next day, transfer the peel, the liquid, and remaining sugar to a pan. Stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.
Then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and drain well.
Spread the peel out on two large baking trays/sheets covered with baking paper/parchment. Leave to dry. This can take 24–48 hours. Occasionally move the peel about with a fork to keep the pieces separate.
It can now be stored in the fridge for up to one month or divided into small batches and put in snap lock freezer bags and frozen.
A dessert of sheer indulgence. Extend summer a little longer while being able to find strawberries. Here a rich chocolate mousse that is so quick to prepare is topped with an up-to-date method of presenting strawberries. The result – a decadent dessert to enjoy.
Quick Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Chilling time: 30 minutes
225g(8 oz) plain/dark chocolate (70% solids)
180ml(6 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (¾ cup)
180ml(6 fl oz) full fat/whole milk (¾ cup)
90ml(3 fl oz) light olive oil (⅓ cup)
pinchof sea salt
225g(8 oz) strawberries
olive oil for drizzling
a few basil leaves
You will also need 4 glass pots.
Break the chocolate into pieces and put in a bowl.
Pour the cream and milk into a small pan and bring to just boiling. Immediately remove from the heat.
Now slowly pour over the chocolate. Stir together to melt the chocolate.
Gradually add the olive oil and then briskly whisk into the chocolate until well blended.
Add a pinch of salt.
Pour an equal amount into each pot so it fills up to three-quarters full.
Chill for 30 minutes to set the mousse.
Meanwhile, wash and pat dry the strawberries. Then hull and cut into quarters. Place in a bowl.
Drizzle over a little olive oil.
Reserve 4 whole basil leaves and tear the remainder into small pieces. Add to the strawberries with a pinch of salt and mix in.
This is a lovely summer brûlée with a fruity mix of berries and currants. The fruit is topped with a whipped creamy filling and then a crunchy caramelised topping.
Summer Fruit Brûlée
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Chilling and cooling time: about 5 hours
Cooking time: about 15 minutes
700g(1 lb 8 oz) soft fruits, a mix of blackberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, and redcurrants or other suitable soft fruit
115g(4 oz) caster/superfine sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
285g(10 oz) Greek yogurt
285mlcarton whipping/heavy cream (1¼ cups)
170g(6 oz) demerara sugar (⅔ cup)
You will also need a shallow rectangular heatproof dish with a base measurement of 25.5 x 16 cm (10 x 6½ inches) and 5 cm (2 inches) deep.
You need to start preparing this dish early in the day as it needs to cool and chill between each stage.
First wash the fruit, remove any stalks from the blackcurrants and run the tines of a fork down the stalks of the redcurrants to separate the stalks from the currants.
Put the fruit in a pan and sprinkle over the sugar.
Now put the pan over a gentle heat for 3–5 minutes, until the sugar has just melted and the juices begin to run. Don’t stir the fruit but just move it around because you want to avoid breaking it down.
Now tip the fruit into the shallow dish and leave it to become quite cold.
Then spoon the yogurt into a bowl.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream until it is thick and then fold it into the yogurt.
Cover the fruit with the cream mixture, making sure it goes right to the edge of the dish and completely covers the fruit. Level the surface.
Cover with cling-film/plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
2 hours before you want to serve the brûlée, spread the surface thickly and evenly with the demerara sugar.
The easiest way to caramelise the sugar is to use a chef’s blowtorch but if you prefer to use the grill/broiler then you need to turn it on to a high setting and allow 15 minutes for it to get really hot.
Next, spray the sugar very lightly with water (a small plastic spray bottle is perfect for this), which will help the sugar melt and speed up the caramelisation process.
If using a blowtorch, aim the tip of the flame above one section of the sugar and once the sugar has melted and is bubbling move onto the next section. It will take about 10 minutes to completely melt all the sugar and turn it a dark golden brown colour.
If not using a blowtorch, place the dish under the grill/broiler as close to the heat source as possible. Again heat the sugar until it has melted and turned a dark golden brown colour.
Now leave to cool and then chill again until ready to serve, when the caramelised sugar will form a crusty surface.
This is a very creamy lemon tart which balances the tartness of the redcurrants. These are scattered over the top of the tart just before serving.
Creamy Lemon Tart with Redcurrants
Preparation time: 50 minutes
Chilling time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Cooling time: about 2 hours
For the pastry
200g(7 oz) plain/all-purpose flour (1½ cups)
100g(3½ oz) cold butter, cut into cubes (⅓ cup + 2 tbsp, or 1 stick less 1 tbsp)
For the filling
115g(4 oz) caster/superfine sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
2eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.)
1egg, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), yolk only
85g(3 oz) unsalted butter cut into cubes (³⁄₈ cup, or ¾ stick)
150ml(5 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (⅔ cup)
icing/powdered sugar for dusting
You will also need a 20 cm (8 inch) loose-based tart tin.
For the pastry
Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
Rub in the butter, at the same time lifting the flour well out of the bowl to incorporate as much air as possible.
When the mixture resembles dry breadcrumbs, add the sugar.
Then sprinkle over 2½ tablespoons of cold water and, using a palette knife, bring the mixture together until it begins to form clumps. Add a little more water (no more than ½ tablespoon) if the mixture seems dry. Using your hands, bring together into a ball by kneading lightly.
Wrap in cling film/plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes to relax the pastry.
(Alternatively, use a food processor.)
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is 5 cm (2 inches) larger than the size of the tart tin.
Carefully transfer to the tin without stretching the pastry and gently press down into the sides. Then trim the pastry by running the rolling-pin over the top to cut the pastry level with the rim. Prick the pastry base all over and return to the fridge for a further 20 minutes to firm up.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas mark 6).
Line the pastry with baking paper and add baking beans, making sure they spread to the edge. Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5–10 minutes until golden.
Put to one side to cool a little before filling.
For the filling
Meanwhile, make the filling.
Zest one lemon and put to one side.
Now strain the juice of both lemons into a large bowl.
Add the sugar, whole eggs, and egg yolk and whisk until just combined.
Place the bowl over a pan of just simmering water and add the cubes of butter, one at a time, whisking until each one has melted.
Stir the mixture until it begins to thicken.
Now stir in the cream and lemon zest.
Remove the bowl from the pan.
Carefully remove the pastry case from its tin and place on a baking sheet.
Pour the mixture into the pastry case and bake for a further 12–15 minutes until the filling is just set.
Leave to cool.
Just before serving, decorate the top with redcurranrs (you can leave them on their stalks) and dust icing/powered sugar over the tart using a small sieve.
You will also need 4 ramekin dishes with a capacity of 150 ml(5 fl oz) (⅔ cup) or 4 small pretty dessert dishes.
First wash the strawberries and then hull and pat dry.
In a large mixing bowl, whip the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture has thickened.
Now pour the cream into a small pan and bring to the boil.
Using an electric whisk, slowly pour the cream over the egg mixture, whisking continuously.
Return the mixture to a clean pan and let it cook over a low heat, beating with a wooden spoon, until the mixture has thickened and will coat the back of the spoon. (The heat needs to be low because the custard must not be allowed to boil or it will curdle.) Then leave to cool.
Meanwhile, purée half the strawberries in a food processor or blender, and then pour into a bowl.
Reserve four whole strawberries for decoration from the other half. Dice the remainder.
Add the diced strawberries to the purée and then add the cooled custard and gently stir together.
Fold in the crème fraîche and a couple of drops of lemon juice until well incorporated.
Spoon equally into the four dishes and chill for at least four hours.
Garnish the top with a reserved strawberry before serving.
There is nothing like homemade jelly. The intensity of flavour of the berries come bursting through and makes for a perfect dessert on a hot summer’s day.
Red Berry Jelly
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Setting time: 6 hours or overnight
250g(9 oz) strawberries (about 2 cups)
170g(6 oz) raspberries (1½ cups)
115g(4 oz) redcurrants (¾ cup)
140g(5 oz) caster/superfine sugar (⅔ cup)
5sheets fine leaf gelatine OR
1½sachets of powdered gelatine
You will also need a 1 litre (4 cup) jelly mould or six individual glass dessert dishes.
Wash and pat dry the fruit. If the strawberries are large, cut them in half. Remove the stalks from the redcurrants by gently running the tines of a fork down the stalks.
Put the fruit in a medium sized pan along with the sugar, lemon juice, and 540 ml (18 fl oz) (2¼ cups) cold water. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is beginning to bubble. Now put a lid on the pan and let the fruit continue to cook gently until it has become very soft, about 5 minutes.
If using leaf gelatine prepare it now. Place the leaves in a bowl of cold water, snapping them in half to fit if necessary. Leave for 5 minutes to become very soft.
Now strain the fruit mixture through a large, fine sieve into a bowl. Press the fruit through the sieve, using a wooden spoon, to extract as much juice from the fruit as possible.
If using powdered gelatine, stir the contents of 1½ sachets in ⅓ cup of cold water then add ⅓ cup of the hot fruit juice and stir until the gelatine has completely dissolved, about 2 minutes.
Either lift the softened gelatine leaves from the water, squeezing out the water, and add to the fruit juice. Or stir in the dissolved powdered gelatine. Stir until the gelatine has completely dissolved into the fruit juice, about 2 minutes. Keep stirring until you are sure the gelatine has dissolved, otherwise, when the fruit juice sets, there will be little grains of solid gelatine in it.
Pour the jelly into the jelly mould or individual glass dishes and leave to cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight to set.
To turn out the jelly mould, dip it halfway in a large bowl of hand hot water for about 5 seconds. Then place a flat serving plate on top and turn out the jelly. Shake for a couple of seconds until you hear the jelly loosening, then lift the mould away.
Can be served with single/table cream or dollops of whipped whipping cream/whipping or heavy cream and extra fresh raspberries.