This recipe makes 20 individual cakes of a light coffee sponge filled with finely chopped walnuts. They are sandwiched with a creamy coffee filling which is also used to coat the top. Each cake is then decorated with a half walnut. Scrumptious!
200g (7 oz) butter, softened (⅞ cup, or 1¾ sticks)
450g (1 lb) icing/powdered sugar (4 cups), sifted
1½ tsp vanilla extract
1½ tsp coffee extract
20 walnut halves
You will also need a tin/pan 20 × 30 × 5cm (8 × 12 × 2 inches) base lined. The right-sized roasting tin/pan will work.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4).
Using a food mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
Now gradually add the beaten eggs. If the mixture begins to curdle, just add 1 tablespoon flour.
Using a large spoon, fold in the flour and then the coffee extract, milk, and chopped walnuts until combined.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin/pan and level the surface. Bake for 35–40 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning out of the tin/pan to cool completely. Because of its size, the easiest way to do this is to place a wire rack over the top of the tin/pan, turn the rack over, lift off the tin/pan, and peel away the lining from the cake. Then place a second wire rack over the bottom of the cake and set the cake the right way up on the wire rack.
Meanwhile, to make the butter icing. Beat together the butter, icing/powdered sugar, vanilla and coffee extracts, together with 1½ tablespoons of hot water, until smooth.
To make it easier to decorate, cut the cake into two once it has completely cooled. Now slice each half horizontally through the middle and then sandwich back together using half the butter icing. Spread the remaining icing over the top of the cakes.
Cut each cake into 10 equal pieces and decorate each piece with a walnut half.
You will also need large baking trays/cookie sheets, ungreased.
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5)
In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar for 2–3 minutes until really creamy, Then beat in the eggs and the vanilla.
Sift the flour into a separate bowl and add the soda, salt, and cinnamon. Then gradually stir into the creamed mixture until completely combined.
Next, stir in the oats and then carefully stir in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
Drop by tablespoons onto the baking trays/cookie trays, spacing well apart, and bake for 10–12 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave for 1 minute. Then, using a palette knife, place on wire racks to cool.
You may need to bake the cookies in two batches if you don't have enough baking trays/cookie sheets to use all the mixture. Leave the trays/sheets to cool down before spooning on the remaining mixture.
Preparing the apples as a purée and then mixing with meringue make these filled crêpes very light. They are finished off in the oven where they will puff up and look quite impressive. Then a dusting of cinnamon – this a very different type of crêpe.
240ml (8 fl oz) full fat/whole milk (1 cup) and 60ml (2 fl oz) water (¼ cup)
For the filling
565g (1¼ lb) dessert apples (4 medium)
120ml (4 fl oz) water (½ cup)
3½ tbsp caster/superfine sugar
20g (¾ oz) butter, softened (1½ tbsp)
3 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), whites only
ground cinnamon for dusting
You will also need a shallow-rimmed, lightweight pan, 20–23cm (8–9inch) in diameter with rounded sides for the crêpes and four shallow, ovenproof dishes, each large enough to take two folded and filled 15cm (6 inch) crêpes.
First make up the batter for the crêpes. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Break the egg into the well and, using half the milk, gradually whisk the egg and milk into the flour, using a balloon whisk. Once a smooth consistency is reached and lots of bubbles rise to the surface, add the rest of the milk quickly. Do not over-mix.
Or use an electric mixer. First mix the egg and milk together then mix in the sifted flour and salt until the batter is smooth and lots of bubbles rise to the surface. Be careful not to over-mix.
Let batter rest for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel, quarter and core the apples and place in a large pan. Add the water, cover the pan, and cook over a low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced to a pulp.
Now to cook the crêpes. Get the pan really hot and then reduce to a moderate heat – about the temperature needed for frying an egg. Use oil or butter to grease the pan. If using oil, use groundnut or another flavourless oil (not olive oil) and pour a little in a small bowl. If using butter, melt a large knob of butter in the pan and then pour into a small bowl. Add a little oil or butter to the pan and tilt the pan to cover the base. It should just glisten, not run with oil or butter.
Stir the batter, then pour about 45ml (3 tablespoons) of batter in the centre of the pan for each crêpe. Immediately lift and tilt the pan in all directions to spread the batter. You are aiming to make a 15cm (6 inch) crêpe.
Turn when the batter starts to curl away from the sides of the pan, the mixture begins to bubble and the underside is golden. It should take about a minute. If it seems a bit sticky, give it a couple of seconds more. Loosen the edge of the crêpe from the pan, then flip it over with a palette knife and cook until the underside is golden. Slip each cooked crêpe from the pan directly onto a piece of kitchen paper which will absorb any grease and keep it light and dry. Repeat the process with the rest of the batter, greasing the pan each time, until you have 8 crêpes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6).
Now once the apples have been reduced to a pulp, turn up the heat and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes until thick. Stir continuously to prevent the apple catching on the bottom of the pan.
Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and stir to melt the sugar.
Now to make the meringue. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff.
Add the remaining sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking well between each addition, until the meringue is glossy.
Stir a quarter of the meringue into the apple to loosen it a little, then fold in the rest.
Spoon 2–3 tablespoons of the meringue mixture over half of each crêpe. Then fold the other half of the crêpe over the meringue mixture.
Grease the ovenproof dishes with butter and place two crêpes in each dish, a little apart so they are not touching. Bake for 10–12 minutes until puffed up and hot.
Dust with cinnamon and serve immediately before the soufflé has a chance to sink.
A simple light sponge recipe that is the basis of many kinds of sponge cakes, the famous one being the Victoria Sponge Sandwich. This basic sandwich sponge can be filled with a conserve or creamy filling and the top iced, usually with a soft icing, or simply covered with caster or icing sugar/powdered sugar.
115g (4 oz) self-raising/self-rising flour (⅔ cup + 2 tbsp)
1 tsp baking powder
115g (4 oz) butter, softened (½ cup, or 1 stick)
115g (4 oz) caster/white sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
½ tsp vanilla extract
You will also need 2 x 18cm (7 inch) sandwich tins, greased and base-lined.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) (gas 3)
Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer makes this cake very quick to prepare.
First, sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl to introduce as much air as possible.
Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix for 1 minute until the mixture is creamy.
Divide evenly between the two pans and level the tops.
Bake towards the top of the oven on the same shelf for 20–25 minutes until firm to the touch. The sponge should spring back when gently tapped with a fingertip.
Leave in the tins for 1–2 minutes then carefully remove, peel off the linings and cool on a wire cooling rack.
For a deeper sponge
This is known as a two-egg cake, for a deeper sponge use 3 eggs and increase the rest of the ingredients accordingly, and bake for 30–35 minutes.
This mixture will also make
This quantity of mixture will also be sufficient for 18 cup cakes, a 18cm (7 inch) square cake, a 20cm (8 inch) round cake or a 23cm (9 inch) ring cake.
Add 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder blended with 1 tablespoon of boiling water.
Add 2 teaspoons of coffee extract or 2 teaspoons of instant coffee blended with 1 teaspoon of boiling water.
Add 1 teaspoon of grated orange, lemon or lime rind.
Always line the base of the tin even if it is non-stick. When greasing, brush butter on evenly. The cake will still stick if it is greased unevenly.
Have everything weighed or measured before beginning to mix.
No self raising flour? Add 1 level teaspoon baking powder to every 115g (4 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour. Sift the flour twice to incorporate as much air as possible and mix the two ingredients together thoroughly.
Butter should be at room temperature for baking. If you’ve forgotten to take it out of the fridge, it can be microwaved on defrost for 20–30 seconds, until the butter is soft but still holds its shape.
Leave at least 1 inch space all round tins so that the heat can circulate freely.
Give the sponges the baking time suggested in the recipe but use this as a guide. Ovens vary – some are hotter and so cakes will take less time to cook and vice versa. It is better to start checking a few minutes before the allotted time. and if the cake is cooked in less time take it out of the oven. Conversely, if it is not ready at the allotted time allow a couple more minutes and check again. Also, when a cake is ready you can smell it. So your sight and smell are good allies.
To tell when they are ready, gently touch in the centre with the fingertips and, if the mixture feels springy and no imprints remain, the cakes are baked. They should also shrink away from around the sides of the tin.
You will also need a heavy based frying pan/skillet
Warm a plate in the oven.
Trim any excess fat from the steaks. Crush the peppercorns coarsely using a pestle and mortar, or with a flat-ended rolling pin, and spread them out onto a plate. Press both sides of the steaks down onto the crushed peppercorns, shaking off any loose bits as you lift them off.
Heat the pan until it is really hot then add the oil. Place the steaks in the pan and cook them for 3–4 minutes on each side for rare or 8–9 for medium to well done. Transfer to the warmed plate, cover loosely with foil, and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the wine into the pan and let it bubble up and reduce until it makes a thick, syrupy sauce. Add the balsamic vinegar and butter and then stir in any juices that have run off the steaks. Season to taste.
Serve with the sauce poured over the steaks and the mashed potato alongside to soak up the juices.
This week we’ve had a couple of nights where it feels quite cool – it seems as though the time has come to say goodbye to summer and all those lovely berry desserts.
The coming of fall, although a beautiful but short season here in Ontario, will mean that winter is just around the corner. Now being a summer person, that is not my favourite time of year. It means there is often a very reluctant dog (our yellow labrador) and us to venture out on walks. The bright sunny, even snowy days, are a delight – it’s the ice and wind I could do without!
So – where I was going – it seems that it’s now time to start bringing out the fall recipes with that bit of comfort food about them. The first one we had again for supper last evening – a Lemon Surprise Pudding – which has just been added to the blog. I hope that you will want to try it.
This Lemon Surprise Pudding makes a lovely, citrus dessert. The mixture creates a thick, very lemony sauce that is covered with a really light and airy sponge.
These tasty little shepherd’s pies are made in a small gratin dish and are quick to prepare. The lamb is mixed with beans and a minted tomato sauce, and then covered with a creamy mash potato and topped with cheese and cherry tomatoes.
170g (6 oz) sliced ham, cut into strips (about 6 slices)
225g (8 oz) mozzarella cheese, chopped
4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
A green salad or caesar salad
You will also need a deep ovenproof dish measuring 22cm x 30.5cm (8½ ins x 12 ins) and 6.5cm (2½ ins) deep.
Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Now turn up the heat to moderate, add the meat and brown, stirring often to break up any lumps, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the oregano, thyme, wine, and plenty of seasoning. Continue to cook until the wine has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.
Next, stir in the passata, 240ml (8 fl oz) (1 cup) water, and add the bay leaf. Cover the pan and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. At the end of the cooking time the consistency should be that of a loose ragù. Add a little more water if it is getting too thick.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F)( gas 5).
minutes before the ragù has finished cooking, start cooking the pasta. Add the pasta to a large pan of boiling salted water and let it cook for 2 minutes less than the recommended time on the packet. Drain.
Add the peas to the ragù and then remove the pan from the heat. Discard the bay leaf.
Now to layer the dish. Spoon a thin layer of the ragù over the base of the ovenproof dish. Add half the pasta and then spoon over half the remaining ragù. Top with all the ham. Now scatter over half the mozzarella plus 2 tbsp of the Parmesan. Add the rest of the pasta then spoon over the rest of the ragù. Finally scatter over the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for a further 10 minutes until piping hot and golden.
Serve with extra Parmesan sprinkled on the top and a salad.
225g (8 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour, plus extra for dusting (1½ cups + 1 tbsp)
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
85g (3 oz) butter, chilled and cut into small cubes (⅜ cup, or ¾ stick)
1 egg, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
40g (1½ oz) caster/white sugar (3 tbsp)
3 tbsp milk
14g (½ oz) melted butter (1 tbsp)
For the filling
340g (12 oz) strawberries (1 pint container)
150ml (5 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (⅔ cup)
icing/powdered sugar for dusting
You will also need a 20cm (8 in) sandwich tin that is 5cm (2 in) deep and brushed with a little melted butter.
For the filling
Wash the strawberries and pat dry. Hull, then slice them lengthways and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar and toss to coat. Put to one side for at least 1 hour to draw out the juices.
For the shortcake
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in with fingertips.
In a smaller bowl, add the egg, and whisk with a fork to break up. Next whisk in the sugar and milk to mix. Now pour the mixture liberally over the dry ingredients and, using a table knife, cut through the mixture to begin bringing it together. Then with floured fingers continue bringing the mixture together to make a rough, soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly a few of times to smooth the surface.
Divide the dough in two equal pieces and gently pat each half out to a circle that will fit the buttered tin. With floured fingers, lift one circle of dough and lay it in the tin. Brush the surface of the dough liberally with the melted butter. Now place the second circle of dough on top.
Bake the shortcake for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Using the tip of a palette knife, gently separate the two pieces of shortcake. The melted butter separating the two layers will have allowed them to remain separate.
Place the shortcake base on a serving plate. Cut the top into 8 equal slices, which will make cutting the dessert easier to serve.
Whip the cream until soft peaks form.
Now spoon the strawberries and their juice over the base and then cover with the whipped cream. Place the 8 slices on top in exactly the order they were cut so they will fit back together perfectly.
Dust with icing sugar/powdered sugar using a small sieve and serve immediately.
Summer for me has always been about enjoying strawberries. I can remember when the season was very short because you could only buy locally grown ones. Memories of watching Wimbledon Tennis with a bowl of strawberries and cream – a wonderful combination where neither lasted long enough! Well perhaps the strawberry season lasted a little longer. Now newer varieties are grown in many areas which extend the season and have a longer shelf life too. Meaning they are available in the stores for many months over the summer.
In U.K. stores they are mainly U.K. grown and here in Canada most are imported from the States, but wherever we have lived the best for me are those grown locally. Because they are not picked to travel far they tend to be left to ripen just that little bit longer which means they are sweet and full of flavour with an aroma which is always more intense. The best are those you can find being sold by the roadside outside the main towns.
A strawberry cheesecake recipe is always a must and here is my classic version. I hope you will enjoy it too.
This is a classic strawberry cheesecake. It has a sweet crumb base and a creamy cheese filling then topped with heaps of sliced strawberries and a gorgeous strawberry sauce.
Prepares: 8 servings (images show 4 servings size)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Cooling time: about 15 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
For the base
170g (6 oz) Graham cracker crumbs (1¼ cups) OR
170g (6 oz) plain digestive biscuits (12)*
55g (2 oz) sugar (¼ cup)
55g (2 oz) butter, melted (¼ cup)
*In North America you can buy packaged baking crumbs ready for using in desserts like cheesecakes. In the U.K. these aren’t readily available, so use plain digestive biscuits and just put them in a large plastic food bag and crush them with a rolling pin until they are broken into very small crumbs.
For the filling
2 pkgs (250g each) cream cheese, softened
2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
140g (5 oz) caster/white sugar (¾ cup less 2 tsp)
½ tsp vanilla extract
For the topping
675g (1 lb 8 oz) strawberries (a quart container)
115g (4 oz) redcurrant jelly (2 tbsp)
You will also need a 23cm (9 inch) springform pan or loose-bottomed pan.
For the base
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) (gas 3)
Mix the crumbs and sugar together in a bowl and pour over the melted butter. Stir to coat the crumb mixture.
Press into the pan, pushing some of the crumbs up the sides to form a rim about 2cm (¾ inch) high and 1.25cm (½ in) wide.
Bake for 10 minutes then remove and leave to cool, about 20 minutes.
For the filling
Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F) gas 4.
Beat the two packets of cheese together until soft and creamy, using a food mixer or electric hand mixer. Now add the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract one at a time, beating well between each addition until smooth. Pour into the cooled crumb crust.
Bake for 35 minutes until the cheesecake is just firm around the edge and just set in the middle. There still needs to be a slight wobble as this will prevent it cracking when cooling. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. If you have time, leave to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar. This will allow it to cool down very slowly which again helps prevent cracking. Then refrigerate for 2 hours.
For the topping
Wash, pat dry and hull the strawberries.
Set aside 170g (6 oz) (about ½ pint container) and purée. Then strain through a sieve so you are left with a smooth sauce.
Melt the redcurrant jelly in a small pan over a low heat, stirring in the purée until blended together.
Remove from the heat and pour into a small serving jug. Set to one side to cool.
Slice the remaining strawberries.
No more than one hour before serving, carefully remove the cheesecake from the pan and decorate the top with the sliced strawberries.
Serve, cut into wedges and pour the strawberry sauce over the top.