Episode 42: Delectable Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t believe THE perfect chocolate chip cookie exists – unless you can get magical ones that change according to your mood and particular tastes. Instead, there are different chocolate chip cookies for different moods and preferences. I’m not fussy and will scarf down any and all of these wonderful CCCs happily, but consider these possible options.

Salted Peanut XL Cookies

Huge salted peanut chocolate chip cookie

Why it works: The water, raising agent and high quantities of chocolate and butter help these spread into massive, crispy cookies. You also bake them lower which aids the spread. These are an adaptation of Sarah Kieffer’s Pan-Banging Cookies. You don’t quite get the look of the original recipe but they are lower effort. While you need the sugar content to get the right texture, I like to add salted peanuts to help balance the sweetness.

Be aware of: In the UK we have smaller standard-size ovens, and on my large-ish baking trays I can only fit three cookies due to the spread! So be prepared to be patient as you may need to do a few rounds of baking and cooling.

Makes 13 huge cookies

  • 285g plain / all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda/ bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 heaped tsp flaky sea salt, crumbled, or 3/4 tsp fine salt
  • 225g room-temperature/ soft butter (I use European-style, high fat)
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 150g regular sugar (I use golden caster sugar, but granulated would be absolutely fine)
  • 1 large egg (50-60g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 100g dark chocolate (mine is 71% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 100g milk chocolate (mine is 35% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 200g salted peanuts
  1. Whisk the butter and sugar together. Since you aren’t looking for a tall cooking, you don’t really need to cream for ages.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk in.
  3. Add the flour, baking soda/ bicarb, salt and flour and combine.
  4. Add the chocolate and peanuts and combine.
  5. Throw in the fridge for half an hour or so, or until you’re ready to bake.
  6. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350F / 180C / 160 fan/ gas 4.
  7. Measure 100g of dough, shape into a rough ball and plop on a lined baking tray, very well spaced apart. As it says above you may need to do a few rounds of baking and cooling as they are so huge. Bake for 12 minutes until they look relatively well set. When under-baked, they’re still delicious but don’t hold their shape.

Brown Butter, Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

LOOK AT THE COLOUR. LOOK AT THE CRISPY AND GOOEY BITS

These are absolutely incredible. Deeply flavoured, caramel-y, gooey, chewy, crispy. These are now my favourite chocolate chip cookies. Adapted from Food and Wine.

  • 250g butter before browning – around 205g after browning
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g flour
  • 250g dark brown sugar
  • 50g caster/ granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs (c. 120g)
  • 1 tsp flaky salt, or 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 250g chocolate – I used 125g 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate and 125g 40% cocoa solids milk chocolate
  1. Brown the butter: Melt the butter in a saucepan, and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, until foamy, smelling nutty and starting to brown. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer. Leave to cool to barely warm (around 15 minutes in my experience).
  2. Beat the butter with the sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla. and combine
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda/ bicarb, salt and chocolate and combine.
  4. Roll into balls of around 76-77 g each. You should have about 15. Cover with cling film or something else to stop them going dry. Refrigerate for 1 hour or more. You can also freeze these before baking.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes at 375F / 190C / 170C fan / gas 5. If frozen, they will take about 2 minutes longer for a gooey cookie. For a texture like baking from the fridge, reduce the temperature and increase the time – I found 15 minutes at about 360F / 185C / 175C fan was just right.

The Soft, Sophisticated One (also Vegan): Olive Oil Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Vegan olive oil cookies- these ones I added chopped hazelnuts to

Why it works: Refrigeration allows the flour to hydrate properly, giving a more even consistency, as well as firming them up. Minimal baking at a pretty low oven temperature ensures softness. Also, unless they’re really under-baked (in which case they lose structural integrity), I found they lasted a good 3-4 days after baking without getting stale, which must be thanks to the olive oil. Oh, and this might be weird but I also quite like eating them straight out of the freezer. (I do the same with Hobnobs, a salty chocolate biscuit we have here.)

Adapted, barely, from Rukmini Iyer’s The Sweet Roasting Tin. (I am, in my view anyway, Rukmini’s biggest fan.)

Fancy a twist? Add about a couple of sprigs of rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped finely. Or 10 sage leaves, chopped. (You may want to set a few leaves aside of either for decoration.)

  • 325g all purpose / plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp sea salt flakes (I used Maldon)
  • 150g chopped chocolate – dark is good, so is a mix of dark and milk. (On one occasion I used a hazelnut vegan chocolate a bit like a non-vegan milk chocolate.)
  • 170g soft light brown sugar
  • 125g light olive oil
  • 85g water
  • 100g nuts (optional) – hazelnuts or pecans are both great and could be pre-roasted, chopped, whole or roughly broken
  1. Mix the flour, baking powder, 1 tsp crumbled sea salt flakes and chocolate
  2. Whisk the sugar, oil and water. This is easier to do with an electric whisk.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry and combine. Refrigerate for about two hours.
  4. Towards the end of this time, preheat the oven to 350F / 175C / 155C fan / gas 3.
  5. Roll out the cookies with your hands into golf ball-sized balls. Space apart a bit. Bake for 12 minutes. It’s okay if they look soft and light-ish in colour.
  6. Allow to cool on the baking tray.

Episode 40: Here Today, Scone Tomorrow

Classic Scones, Cheese Scones, Fruited Scones

Classic scones are basically a 4:1 or 3:1 ratio of flour to butter (by weight), with baking powder (or soda), a little sugar and enough milk added to make a dough. They’re a crumbly, flaky quick bread – achieved through not using as much liquid as a bread and using the rubbing in method with the fat. Some use egg to wash the tops before baking, others just use milk. Some use buttermilk instead of milk, or add a squeeze of lemon juice to sour normal milk before using.

Rolling and stamping out does seem to help them keep their shape when baking, but if you prefer a more rustic scone by all means just pat it into a circle and divide using a knife or dough cutter.

I’ve gone with a smaller quantity of scones than most recipes, due to the fact that they really need to be eaten fresh (though they do freeze well). Feel free to scale up if you’re baking for a crowd.

Also – you can consider adding spices such as vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger. I think ginger scones with ground ginger and stem ginger would be a knock-out.

Hear me out, but you could leave out/reduce the sugar for a cheese scone but still have dried fruit in it. We serve dried fruit cakes and breads with cheese all the time in England and it’s completely delicious.

P.S. To me, chocolate does not belong in scones, but I can’t articulate why. It’s just not a thing. I love them both separately but never the twain should meet. But I could be missing out?!

Basic Scone Recipe

Makes 4-8 depending on how big you make them.

  • 150g plain/ AP flour
  • 50g butter
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 heaped tsp/ 6g baking powder
  • c. 25g sugar (you may want to reduce if making cheese scones, but many recipes don’t)
  • c. 75ml milk (whole preferred but whatever you have on hand – scones are not fine pastry they’re homely and rustic)
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with milk, to glaze, or a little extra milk (you could sprinkle the scones with a little sugar before baking if you like – coarse for a crunchy top e.g. demerara or turbinado)

Additions

  • 50g sultanas, currants or raisins (for fruited scones)
  • 45g grated cheddar (for cheese scones)

Serving essentials

  • Clotted cream and jam, to serve (if making sweet scones)
  • Butter if making cheese scones – you could also consider serving them with more cheese and a little chutney.
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/ 375F/ 170Cfan/ gas 5.
  2. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder.
  3. Rub the flour into the butter using your preferred method – fingertips, pastry cutter, food processor, whatever.
  4. Stir in the sugar.
  5. Add the milk to form a dough. Use your judgement here – if it’s looking too dry, add more, a drop at a time, or if it’s looking wet enough, do stop before 75ml/g.
  6. Pat out to a few inches’ thickness (thicker or thinner depending on how you’d like your scones). Stamp out shapes as you like.
  7. Bake straight away for around 15 minutes. Best eaten on the day they’re made, even better slightly warm – but not too warm to melt the clotted cream…

Dawn Perry’s Sour Cream and Fruit Scones

Adapted from here.

I’ve been meaning to try a scone with real berries in it since I saw some raspberry scones my Aunt had been served up at a tea room in Devon. This is the second recipe I tried, and was more successful. I think the key is using frozen berries so they don’t add too much moisture before baking.

I’ve converted everything to metric and halved the sugar – we Brits prefer a less sweet scone because we tend to serve them with really good cream (and usually jam, but I prefer this berry scone with just cream).

Any British purists reading – a lot of historic scone recipes call for buttermilk, so sour cream is really not a bad idea.

Makes 8 large scones

  • 255g plain/ all purpose flour
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder (yes, a full tablespoon)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 115g butter (I use salted)
  • 130g frozen berries (I used a mix of blackberries and blueberries; they really MUST be frozen and strawberries will not work well – stick to blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries or similar)
  • 135g sour cream (full-fat)
  • 60g milk (whole preferably, but I used semi-skimmed/ 2% as it’s what I had)
  • 1 egg yolk and about 2 tsp more milk, for brushing
  • To serve: ideally clotted cream – if you can’t get hold of it, the highest fat cream you can find, lightly whipped
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/ 375F / 190C fan / gas 5.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Rub in the butter and flour using your preferred method. The original recipe suggests using grated butter, I just loosely rubbed the butter into the flour using my pastry cutter.
  4. Make a well in the centre, add the sour cream and most of the milk. You might want to hold a little back in case you don’t need it all. Bring together into a ball. Add the rest of/ a little more milk if needed but very gradually and carefully – it will quickly turn into a sticky mess.
  5. Working quickly so they don’t defrost, mix in the berries.
  6. Pat out into a circle or square. Divide into 8. Bake for about 25 minutes, checking at 15 and 20 to see how much longer it may need. If it’s catching (this is probably the sugar from the berries), turn down the oven a fraction.

More Scone Ideas….

I could do several episodes just on scones, but I do enjoy other things occasionally! Instead, if you’d like to try different recipes from those given, you may wish to purchase The National Trust’s Book of Scones by scone-obsessive Sarah Merker. Or have a look at the scone section on their website. If you’re baking for vegans or dairy free people, look at the vegan scone recipe here – which includes a method for a vegan clotted cream replacement.

Episode 38: The Whole Orange (Cake)

In this week’s episode, Kate talked about her recent fixation with whole orange cakes.

Starting with this one from John Torode, which didn’t turn out quite how she wanted… (also, I forgot to take a picture – sorry!)

Then on to the Best Whole Orange Cake recipe from Sunset Magazine, adapted by the team at Food 52.

Then, finally, on to this Claudia Roden classic ground almond and orange cake. I recommend having a slightly lower oven temperature (180C/ 350F / 160C fan) – I think this is the perfect amount of brownness on the outside for me!

Episode 37: Escape to Barra

In this episode Kate talks about her and Gemma’s visit to Barra (Gaelic spelling Bharraigh) in the Outer Hebrides. Here are some of the things they saw and ate!

Victoria Sponge Cake from the Cafe at Vatersay
One of the beaches at Vatersay
The view from our table at the Hebridean Toffee Company!
Scone from Macroon’s Tea Room, Castlebay Post Office, Barra
Kate eating her scone
Part of one of our packed lunches while out walking and swimming – made with Strathdon Blue cheese from the Highland Cheese Company.
Bread made by Kate.
Kate and a view on Barra
A curious sheep (I think – could be a ram?!) looks at Gemma
Sunset in Oban
A small loch on Barra

Episode 36: The Quest for Perfect Chocolate Cake

There are still so many recipes I want to try, but these are all a good place to start!

Ultimate Chocolate Cake from Tarunima Sinha

This is a pretty damn good chocolate cake. Very slightly adapted from Tarunima Sinha, via Ravneet Gill’s Pastry Chef’s Guide. I’ve tried making it as a layer cake which also works – just do 2 – 3 tins and decrease the baking time to about 20-25 minutes. You can 100% do this without a stand mixer, but just be aware that the sugar likes to be really clumpy so you may need to give it a sieve or get in there with your hands to break it up.

  • 100g milk chocolate (mine was about 35% cocoa)
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 200g butter (I used salted)
  • A pinch of salt (make it a large one if your butter is unsalted)
  • 160g plain flour
  • 200g dark brown soft sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 180g eggs (3 UK large)
  • 100g sour cream, buttermilk or even Greek yogurt
  • 125ml cooled coffee (I opted for home made cold brew)

Ganache

  • 300ml/ 290g double cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 200g chocolate – I like a mix of dark and milk here, or a dark chocolate that’s around 50% cocoa. (I found my 72% cocoa one a bit too strong on its own)

Cake Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / 160 fan / gas 4. Grease an 8 in/ 20cm cake tin with butter and line with baking paper.
  2. Melt the chocolates and butter together in a bain marie/ double boiler or cautiously in the microwave (stopping every 10-30 seconds to stir and check).
  3. Pop the flour, sugars, baking powder, bicarb and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  4. Beat them on their own to break up any large lumps.
  5. Add the chocolate mixture and beat until combined.
  6. Add the coffee, sour cream and eggs and beat until combined.
  7. Pour into the cake tin and bake for about 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean-ish.

Torta Caprese

This is for when you want a cake that needs no icing or decoration (other than maybe a drizzle of cream) – just a simple, very chocolatey, moist and fudgy, delicious cake. Adapted from Emiko on Food 52. Emiko says you can scale up or down this cake very easily, which is right. Just adjust the number of eggs then the rest of the ingredients accordingly. For example, 3 eggs would need 125g of the other ingredients, 4 would need 167g and 5 would need 208g. Just be aware that if the cake is large you may need to bake it for longer, or if a smaller cake you could increase the temperature very slightly and bake more quickly. This cake also happens to be gluten free.

  • 208g ground almonds
  • 208g dark chocolate
  • 208g butter
  • 208g sugar (I used caster/superfine but granulated would be fine)
  • 5 eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C / 320F / 140C fan / gas 3. Grease and line a cake tin – mine was 20cm/ 8in and springform.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter gently in the microwave or on a double boiler/ bain marie set up.
  3. Whisk the eggs and sugar really well, ideally using a stand mixer so you don’t get sore arms, until tripled in volume.
  4. Fold in the chocolate mixture and the ground almonds into the egg mixture, gently.
  5. Transfer to the tin. Place the tin on a baking tray in case any fat leaks out. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until mostly set but still a little fudgy in the middle.

Benjamina Ebuelhi’s Hot Chocolate Halva Pudding/ Self-Saucing Dessert

This is arguably not a cake but what we Brits call a “pudding”, ie a squidgy, possibly slightly stodgy, delight. The amount of sugar in this is outrageous but it actually was surprisingly well balanced thanks to the sesame and cocoa flavours. Perfect for a special occasion or treat. I do have Benjamina’s fab book The New Way to Cake. but happily this is also featured as a genius recipe on Food 52. I haven’t written it out here as I didn’t adapt or change in any way (other than using brewed coffee not espresso powder). It’s perfect. Use good chocolate if you can, it will make all the difference. Also a good cocoa. Mine is Dutch processed Green and Black’s.

Episode 34: Sweet on Strawberries: Sorbet, Gelato and More…

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

When making my beloved chocolate-dipped frozen bananas, I had some leftover chocolate. Not knowing what to do with it, I saw some strawberries in the freezer. I was surprised by how good this was. I liked the balance of using a pretty dark chocolate or a mix of dark and milk.

The River Cafe’s Genius Strawberry Sorbet

I’ve halved this recipe because my food processor and ice cream maker could not cope with the original amount. Otherwise it’s amazing.

  • 1 to 1 1/2 lemons, depending on taste
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 500g strawberries before hulling / 450g after hulling
  1. Cut the lemon in half. Roughly chop one of the halves (including the skin and pips) and remove the pips. Whizz this in a food processor with the sugar until only small bits remain.
  2. Roughly chop the strawberries and add these to the food processor and whizz until well combined. Add the juice of the other half of the lemon and combine. Taste. If you’d like more acidity add a little more lemon juice.
  3. Churn in an ice cream maker or use the stir-freeze method. Leave to freeze for several hours before serving.

Roasted Strawberry Gelato

Gelato is characterised by making a custard thickened only with egg yolks (no cream, no starch), and then churning this with flavourings. It makes for an icier, cleaner finish, whereas French ice cream is richer. This is the way to getting a very well-flavoured natural strawberry ice cream, but the quantity of berries is a lot – sorry. Gelato isn’t hard but it’s a two or three-step process. Using a standard ice cream maker I’ve found I need to freeze the bowl for 24 hours in advance. This recipe is adapted from the fab ‘Standard Italian Vanilla Gelato’ in Ice Cream, Sorbets and Gelati by Caroline and Robin Weir.

For the gelato base:

  • 470g/ ml whole milk (3.5% fat)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 105g granulated or caster (superfine) sugar
  • 100g / 5 UK large egg yolks
  • A pinch of salt

Whisk the egg yolks, salt and sugar until at least tripled in volume, very light in colour and very thick. Meanwhile, heat the milk and vanilla until steaming.

Gradually pour the milk into the egg yolk mixture and stir or whisk in gently. Transfer to a heat proof bowl (if not already using one) set over a pan of simmering water. Keep the bowl over the simmering water until the mixture has thickened so that you can draw a vertical line on the back of the spatula (some recipes say until it coats the back of a spoon).

If you do this over direct heat it’s much more likely that the eggs will coagulate (go lumpy). If they do, knock out the lumps with a hand blender. I found, though, that the mixture became a tiny bit lumpy again after churning, so I’d avoid the coagulation altogether if possible, and this method should make it possible. Cool then transfer to the fridge until ready to use.

For the roasted strawberries:

Hull 900g strawberries. Mix with 2 tbsp/ 30g sugar. Place on a massive lined baking sheet (or two) and roast at 170C / 325F / 150 fan / gas 3 for 1 hour, or until the strawberries are very soft and surrounded by a thick glossy gloop. (Some recipes go even lower and slower – I’ve seen some that take 3 hours!) Cool and transfer to the fridge until needed.

To finish:

Churn the custard in an ice cream maker – pour it in while churning if possible. Churn for about half an hour until significantly thickened. Churn or stir in the strawberry mixture. Freeze for a good few hours. Enjoy.

Episode 33: Magnificent Mango (and much, much more) ft. Chef Kirsty Haigh

If he doesn’t appreciate your fruit puns, you better let that..

In this week’s episode I talk to Kirsty Haigh about why she became a chef, food memories, food education, working with young people and her favourite things to bake. Follow her on Instagram @kirstyehaigh and also follow and donate to Edinburgh Food Social! @edinburghfoodsocial / edinburghfoodsocial.org

Recipes mentioned in the podcast are below!

Mango Tarte Tatin

Mango tarte tatin

Delicious, but wasn’t very strongly mango flavoured. I suggest this as a way to use up mangoes that are refusing to ripen, or to up the mango by serving it with a few slices of fresh mango on the side. I would still make it again!

  • 75g butter (I used salted)
  • 75g granulated or caster sugar
  • 500g puff pastry (I used home made – see here for recipe)
  • 2 large mangoes, stones discarded and sliced (the usable bits of flesh came to 517g for me)
  • The yolk of one egg, beaten (loosen up with a bit of milk/ egg white/ water, if it’s a bit stiff)
  • Serve with any combination of these (or none at all): ice cream, cream, fresh mango, a squeeze of lime

I used a 9 x 13 in / 23 x 33 cm enamel roasting tin, which can be used on the hob. However you could use a pan to make the caramel and a separate roasting tin. Just try to scrape out as much of the caramel goodness as you can from the pan!

  1. Roll out the pastry to the size of the tin that will go in the oven and chill for 15 minutes or more.
  2. Grease your tin, if using a separate tin.
  3. Heat the sugar until it dissolves and starts to change colour.
  4. Add the butter and stir (a wooden spoon or silicone spatula is best here).
  5. Add mango and cook for a few minutes. This is partly to reduce the water content and partly to soften up any unripe mango slices. Leave to cool.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200C / 180C fan / gas 6 / 400F.
  7. Distribute the mango and as much of the caramel and juices as you can on the bottom of the tin. Top with the pastry. Brush with the beaten egg yolk.
  8. Bake for about 25 minutes. Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes before turning out on to a dish / baking tray that is large enough and has a rim, so the juices don’t go everywhere! Be swift and decisive with your turning out.
  9. Admire and feel very proud of your creation. Slice. Squeeze over a little lime juice, if desired. Serve with a dollop of cream, ice cream, a few slices of fresh mango or just as it is.

Mango Ice Lollies / Popsicles / Ices

Mango ices

This is less of a recipe and more of a suggestion! Basically mango, lime and some kind of dairy go really well together.

I used 2 ripe mangoes, about 200g whipped double/ heavy cream, about 2 tbsp icing/ confectioners’ sugar, the zest of a lime and the juice of half. I just blended this all together.

But you could use yogurt, whole milk, any type of cream or even a coconut yogurt or dairy-free cream. Just taste before freezing to make sure you’ve got the consistency and taste you want. Mine was quite thick but if you want a more refreshing popsicle use yogurt or milk.

Strawberry Pudding

Strawberry Pudding

Adapted from Jerelle Guy’s Strawberry Spoon Cake. The brown sugar gives it delicious caramel notes. The strawberries are really prominent – as they should be!

  • 275g soft salted butter (or use unsalted and a pinch of salt)
  • 350g hulled strawberries (about 400g before they’re hulled)
  • 275g light brown sugar
  • 285g whole milk
  • 285g plain/ all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C / 160 fan / gas 4. Grease and line a 9x13in / 23x33cm tin.
  2. Mash the berries with half the sugar.
  3. Whisk the butter and remaining sugar until much lighter and fluffier. Whisk in the flour, baking powder and then the milk.
  4. Transfer to the baking tin. Spoon over the strawberries and juice on to the cake batter.
  5. Bake for about 35 minutes- turn it down if you are worried about the sides or bottom burning.
  6. Cool for a few minutes or serving. Alternatively, you can cool it down completely and reheat however much you need before serving. Best served warm with vanilla or earl grey ice cream (recipe on the way!) .

Blondies with Fresh Cherries and Dark Chocolate

I used my base blondie recipe (adapted from several different sources) but using some dark chocolate instead of all white and added fresh cherries I needed to use up. The result was fabulous: jammy cherries, buttery cake and gooey chocolate. So I’m sharing it here.

  • 200g butter (for best results use European style) (this is a bit under two sticks in the US)
  • 100g white chocolate, good quality if possible
  • 150g dark chocolate, in large pieces.
  • 200g plain/ all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 250g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 UK large eggs (equivalent to US extra large, roughly 60g each or 180g in total)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / 350 F / 160 C fan / gas 4. If you are using a glass or ceramic dish, I’d turn it down a little to accommodate for the heat retention of the pan – say 170 C or 325F. For best results use a thin, light coloured metal pan. Grease and line a 9 x 13 in / 33cm x 23cm tin/ dish.
  2. Stone the cherries and set aside. Melt the butter and white chocolate together, stir and set aside to cool slightly. Measure out the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. You could sieve to ensure no lumps or just check it isn’t looking lumpy.
  3. Whisk the eggs and sugar together for several minutes until tripled in volume. This is key to the crackly top finish on brownies and blondies. I used a stand mixer to make life easier, an electric hand whisk would work but you’d be standing there for a long time.
  4. Fold in the butter and white chocolate mixture, then the flour mixture. Go slowly, steadily and make sure there are no pockets of unmixed flour or butter.
  5. Transfer to the baking tin/ dish. Scatter over the cherries and dark chocolate pieces evenly. Bake for about 40 minutes, checking maybe 5 minutes before that time to see if they’re done. It’s okay for them to have a bit of a wobble in the middle but they shouldn’t be liquid! Leave to cool completely in the dish.

Episode 32: Seasonal Summer Bakes ft. Ravneet Gill’s Cherry Ricotta Cake

A lot has happened in the last two weeks! This week I was talking about my favourite ice lollies, what I’ve been up to in the kitchen, and a cherry ricotta cake!

Ravneet Gill’s Cherry Ricotta Cake

Head to Ravneet’s Instagram for the original written recipe, and listen to the podcast episode to find out how Kate served it!

Episode 31: Hot Water Crust Pasties (plus The Best Bakewell Pudding and more)

This week I tried out hot water crust pastry for the first time, making mushroom pasties.

Mushroom and Tarragon Pasties

Mushroom Pasty

I used this recipe from Ruby Tandoh and reviewed it on the podcast!

I used my leftover rough puff/ flaky pastry from last week’s episode to make the most incredible bakewell pudding. I also did some goodbye baking as I’m changing jobs, including a chocolate sheet cake with a mascarpone icing and a vegan banana cake with pecans and chocolate. A vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe is being refined, I’m not 100% happy with it although it did please a lot of young people.

The Best Bakewell Pudding Recipe

Sorry for naff photo!

This got RAVE reviews at work, from my partner, and I also thought this was one of the tastiest things I have ever made. I usually opt for a shortcrust pastry but the flaky pastry (which apparently makes this a pudding rather than a tart?!) was absolutely INCREDIBLE. So crisp and buttery. The fresh cherries also went jammy during baking and made the filling a little bit gooey. Trust me on this and see for yourself. Best eaten within 24 hours but my partner ate some the day after this and didn’t complain!

  • 330g home made rough puff/ pastry flaky pastry (see last week’s recipe)
  • 150g soft salted butter, plus some to grease the dish (if using unsalted, add a pinch of salt)
  • 150g caster/ superfine sugar (granulated is probably fine!)
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 UK large egg (US extra large / c. 60g in weight)
  • A handful of flaked almonds to decorate (optional)
  • A few tbsp cherry preserve or cherry jam (I used Bonne Maman)
  • About 100g fresh cherries, halved and pitted
  • Flour, for dusting
  1. Butter a large pie dish. (Mine was a 27cm / 10.5 in Pyrex glass dish.) Lightly dust a clean work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out the pastry to a few millimetres thick so it will fit inside the pie dish. Leave a couple of millimetres extra at the top of the sides as it will shrink when baking. Prick the bottom with a fork about 6 times. Cover and refrigerate for half an hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190C/ 170 fan / 375F / gas 5. Scrunch up a large sheet of baking paper so it will completely cover the bottom and sides of the pastry with some overhang. Place over the pastry and then fill with baking beans or dried pulses. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully tip out the baking beans into a bowl. Return the pie crust to the oven to dry out for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. If the crust has any air bubbles, gently press them down with the back of a spoon.
  3. Turn the oven down to 180C / 160C fan / 350F / gas 4. Beat the butter and sugar for a minute. Add the egg and a spoon of the almonds and beat in. Add the remaining almonds, the almond extract and the baking powder and combine.
  4. Spread cherry jam over the bottom of the crust until there are no gaps (but you don’t want too thick a layer). Fill with the almond mixture. Place the cherries on top in an even manner. (They will sink but it’s easier to put them in at this point!) Bake for about 30 minutes, then check if it is done or needs longer by putting a skewer in the middle. Scatter over the flaked almonds, if using, and return for a further 10 minutes if it’s still liquidy. Check again. Mine needed 40-45 minutes if I remember correctly, but I baked it until just set, which gave a perfectly gooey filling. Leave to cool in the dish until almost room temperature, then place on a wire rack to cool further. Cooling it fully ensures a great texture, but you can warm slices in the oven before serving, if you like.

Feed-A-Crowd Chocolate Sheet Cake with Mascarpone Icing

I’m guessing most of us still aren’t baking for crowds, but maybe in the coming months or year we will be able to. This makes two sheet cakes in foil roasting tins 36x26cm / 15x10in, serving 24(!) people. Mine were a little too thin so I’ve upped the eggs to 6. For this amount of mixture I’d recommend using a stand mixer, if you have one. The icing got a lot of compliments and recipe requests. To me it had a mellow, not-too-sweet white chocolate kind of flavour, which I think must be the vanilla and the creaminess. This balances perfectly with the tartness of fresh raspberries!

  • 6 UK large/ US extra large eggs (360g)
  • 90g Dutch-processed, high quality cocoa (I use Green and Black’s)
  • 270g plain/ AP flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 360g light brown sugar
  • 360g soft salted butter (or unsalted with a pinch of salt)
  • 150g double/ heavy cream
  • 150g strong cold coffee
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar

For the icing: 500g mascarpone, 125g icing sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar

For the top: 300g fresh raspberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / 160C fan / 350 F / gas 4. Line the foil roasting tins with baking paper. Some overhang is fine or even good.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar for a few minutes until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and combine after each addition. Add the flour and combine. Add the cream, coffee and vanilla and combine.
  3. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, and then check to see if it’s set. If it’s still liquidy, return to the oven for 5 minutes or so, then check again. Mine took about 20-25 minutes.

To make the icing, simply plop all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Spread over completely cooled cakes. Just before serving, scatter over the raspberries.

Vegan Banana Cake with Dark Chocolate and Pecans

Vegan banana, chocolate and pecan cake

Adapted from a recipe in The Quick Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyer. This cake is much lighter than a classic banana bread and so low in refined sugar I ate it guilt-free for breakfast the next day. (Not sure anyone medically qualified would agree with this!)

  • 300g banana flesh (about 3 medium bananas)
  • 70g olive oil
  • 80g light brown sugar
  • 90g orange or clementine juice (you could also add the zest, if using fresh oranges)
  • 250g plain / AP flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder (I know it sounds like a lot but it didn’t turn out soapy)
  • 100g 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate (check it’s vegan if you need to), chopped or broken up
  • 100g pecans, broken up
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / 160C fan / 350F / gas 4. Line a small-ish roasting or baking dish (20x15cm / 8x6in) with baking paper, leaving some overhang.
  2. Break up the bananas into your mixing bowl. Whisk with the oil and sugar until smooth. Add the flour and baking powder and combine.
  3. Tip into the roasting dish. Scatter over the chocolate then the pecans. Bake for 20 minutes, then check with the skewer test. If it’s still liquidy, pop back into the oven for a few minutes, then check again. Leave to cool in the tin for a good while before using the baking paper to transfer it to a wire rack to cool further. Keeps for a couple of days in an airtight container but probably would stale quickly after this.