In this episode, I talk about my favourite cookbook before getting into the orange blossom trials. I made two pretty bad bakes before arriving at this one! Orange blossom and cinnamon is a common combination in Moroccan cooking and really works. The lemon curd icing gives some citrus sharpness to compliment the warmth and fragrance of the cinnamon and orange blossom water.
Cake ingredients: 2 room temperature UK large eggs (c. 120g), 150g plain / AP flour, 150g caster (superfine, but granulated should be ok) sugar, 150g room temperature salted butter, 50g Greek or natural yogurt, 1 tsp orange blossom water (I think they vary a lot – I used Steenbergs), 1 scant tsp ground cinnamon, 1 scant tsp baking powder.
Icing ingredients: 75g icing / powdered sugar, 75g salted butter, 75g good lemon curd (I used Morrison’s The Best Sicilian and highly recommend it), 1/2 tsp orange blossom water (again, I used Steenbergs)
Cake method: Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake cases. Preheat oven to 180C / 160 fan/ 350F. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg gradually – in at least two stages – combining really well each time. Add the flour, blossom water, cinnamon, baking powder and yogurt and whisk to combine but don’t overdo it. Bake for about 20 minutes or so until the cakes spring back when touched. Leave to cool completely before icing.
Icing method: Beat the butter on its own until lighter and fluffier with an electric hand whisk. Add the icing sugar and combine with a spoon first to stop the icing sugar coating your kitchen. Then beat this with the butter until fluffy. Add the lemon curd and beat in briefly to combine. Chill until needed. Use a small spatula to gently cap each cake with icing.
Welcome to Florals for Spring month! To start with, I shocked myself by actually liking rose when used delicately. According to colleagues (and me) this cake is well-balanced, delicious, moist and has an unctuous texture. If you definitely don’t like rose, I would urge you to use the vanilla variation. Adapted from Molly Baz.
2 large eggs, room temperature
250g caster/superfine sugar (granulated probably fine too)
190g vegetable oil
235g full fat Greek yogurt, warmed to room temperature in the microwave
3 tablespoons earl grey tea leaves (loose leaf or 4-5 high quality teabags)
2 tsp rosewater (I used Steenbergs, I think they vary a lot) OR 1 tbsp vanilla paste or extract
250g plain/ all purpose flour (or white spelt flour)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp of salt
Prepare a light-coloured standard loaf pan (2lb/ 900g) and preheat the oven to 160C/ 140 fan / 320 F / gas 3.
Grind the earl grey in a pestle and mortar until fine.
Whisk the eggs and sugar until tripled in volume.
Pour the oil, yogurt and rosewater/vanilla down the side and whisk in.
Add the flour, salt, tea leaves, bicarb and baking powder and whisk or fold in.
Transfer to the prepared loaf pan and bake for about an hour, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Hot Cross Buns
It’s taken me a while to perfect these. So if it’s too late for this year, sorry! Definitely try them next year. This very enriched dough makes them ultra fluffy. If it’s easier for you to get hold of, you can substitute this spice blend for 2.5 tsp mixed spice and 1.5 tsp cinnamon. I do like my spices on the heavier side, so feel free to pare it down if you like.
Makes 12 generous buns
500g strong white flour
70g light brown soft sugar / caster sugar
1 tsp mace
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
scant 1/2 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp ground ginger
8g instant (fast-action) yeast
300ml tub single cream
2 medium/ large eggs (UK medium is c. 50g, UK large is c. 60g)
150g currants (or raisins/ sultanas)
50g candied citrus peel
For the egg wash: 1 egg yolk and around 3 tsp egg white
For the crosses: 60g plain/ strong white flour, 70g tepid water
1. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flour, sugar, salt and spices. I use a dough whisk for this mixing stage but you can use a fork if not. Then add the yeast and mix through. (This is to prevent the salt from inhibiting the yeast.)
2. Gently melt the butter in a heat proof jug in the microwave. Tip in the cream and stir well to combine, then pop back in the microwave and heat to around body temperature, stirring well after each short burst. (Too hot will kill the yeast but warm will help it work a bit faster.)
3. Add the cream and butter mixture and the eggs. Mix together well, leaving no pockets of unmixed flour. Cover the bowl with a plate/ cling film/ shower cap and leave for about 30 minutes. This helps the flour absorb more liquid and gluten bonds will then start forming, leaving you with less kneading to do.
4. Add the currants and peel and knead until you can stretch out a few inches of dough and see light coming through them. (The windowpane test.) Ensure the fruit is as well incorporated as possible, but it can be tricky and it’s not your fault! Cover the bowl again and leave until doubled in size and very puffy. (Takes about an hour or longer in a cooler kitchen.)
5. Line a baking tray. Tear lumps off the dough of around 101-102g each and pop them on a plate or clean work surface. Once you’ve got those lumps all weighed, shape each bun. Pull dough from the centre up and over, turning as you go, until you have a taut ball. You could also scoop underneath and round to form even more surface tension. (This helps them keep their shape and puff up beautifully.) Cover with a light tea towel or cling film and leave until puffy. (This takes about 45 minutes or possibly longer in a cooler kitchen. You can also bung them in the fridge overnight as this slows the yeast down.)
6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to moderate (I do 180 C to avoid burning the bottoms of my buns, but you may be okay to bake at a higher temperature for less time.)
7. Make up your egg wash and cross mixture. Mix the egg yolk and 2-3 tsp egg white in a small cup or bowl. In a small mixing bowl, mix the flour and water for the crosses. You need a consistency that will come off the spoon easily but not be too runny. Tranfer to a small piping bag or plastic sandwich bag. Use straight away, or if you leave it too long you may need to add more water as the mixture will get drier.
7. Brush the egg wash on to the buns with a pastry brush. Once all the buns are egg washed, snip a small hole into your piping bag (or makeshift piping bag). Pipe vertical and horizontal lines over the buns to make crosses.
8. Bake for around 15-25 minutes depending on your baking temperature and oven. I turn mine around halfway through due to my oven being hotter on one side. Leave to cool on the baking tray for a while before transferring to a cooling rack. I just carefully slide everything off including the paper.
Note: These are best eaten within 24 hours of being made. If not eaten quickly, freeze them. Defrost before toasting. (I use my microwave’s defrost function for about 1 minute.) In Britain it’s practically the law to eat them toasted if they aren’t warm from the oven. Spread liberally with butter, clotted cream or lemon curd.
Makes around 18. I found it a great way to use up an excess of chocolate. Feel free to halve or double the recipe. The recipe is from Jane’s Patisserie (very successful recipe, thank you, and will now be my base for no-bake fridge cake things).
400g chocolate, broken up (I like half dark and half milk, or all dark)
100g golden syrup
a pinch or two of salt
7 shredded wheats (315g), broken up
54 miniature chocolate eggs (3 per nest) or as many as you want
other springtime/ Easter decorations, if wanted
Line two cupcake trays. Melt the chocolate and butter gently, stirring well. A bain marie or short bursts in the microwave both work well. Stir in the golden syrup. Add the broken up shredded wheats and stir to coat the lot with chocolate mixture. Spoon into cases. Top with mini eggs and any other decorations Leave to set at room temperature or in the fridge.
This cake is mega good. Moist, loads of raspberries distributed throughout and it keeps well in an airtight container (as small as possible to keep out as much air as possible. Sumac has a tart, citrus flavour, and in a flash of inspiration the other day I thought ‘What about raspberries?’. As I had hoped, they do go well together. Of course, very few good ideas in food are new, so having Googled ‘raspberry sumac cake’ there are actually quite a few out there!
It’s roughly based on this recipe from Clotilde Dusolier at Chocolate and Zucchini.
2 UK large eggs (c. 60g each)
300g full fat Greek yogurt (c. 250ml) – warmed gently to room temperature
200g caster / superfine sugar
80g vegetable oil
250g plain / all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda
1/4 tsp fine salt
2 tablespoons sumac, plus extra for sprinkling
Around 2 tablespoons demerara/ turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C / 160 fan / 350 F/ gas 4. Grease a 23cm, high sided cake tin (I used a springform one) with vegetable oil and line the base with parchment paper. If you are using a springform or any tin that may leak, pop it on a baking tray.
Get a large mixing bowl and measure out the eggs and sugar. Sift the flour, take out 2 tablespoons of it, then add the raising agents and sumac into a medium-large bowl, and mix them together. Put the 2 tbsp flour into a medium-sized bowl and very gently coat the raspberries with flour. (This stops them sinking so you get an even distribution throughout the batter.) Warm the yogurt gently to room temperature if you haven’t already – I put it in the microwave very briefly and stir well. You could put it in a warm water bath, alternatively.
Whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and much bigger in volume. Add the vegetable oil by pouring it down the sides, and do the same with the yogurt. Whisk these in until just mixed. Fold in the flour mixture gently until no lumps or streaks remain. Finally, fold in most of the raspberries. Transfer the mixture to the cake pan. Dot over the remaining raspberries. Sprinkle over the demerara/ turbinado sugar.
Bake for around 45-50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean of batter. Don’t be afraid to take it out before or after the time suggested, depending on how it is looking and the skewer test! Leave to cool completely before cutting into it, otherwise the crumb won’t be set and you may end up with a right mess. I’d cool it really well in the tin before taking off the sides or trying to move it anywhere.
I’m not really superstitious but 21 is my birthday date and for some reason I just like it as a number. My prep for episode 21 didn’t disappoint, and it only took me one try to get these cookies right, thanks to a great recipe. Turmeric is earthy, citrus-y, fragrant and really hard to describe. I use it quite a lot in cooking (and love it) but not in sweet baking. Here it elevates a cookie from being nice to being interesting, complex and delicious. In this episode I also talk about my plans for a hot cross buns-baking marathon…
There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to seed cake recipes: fewer seeds, less sugar and a bit drier – sort of a more austere approach – or sweeter, strongly flavoured, and more moist. I prefer the latter! This delicately aniseed cake has been around for literally hundreds of years. Some websites even claimed that it’s medieval. It’s mentioned in Winnie the Pooh and the Hobbit! Credit to Andrea and Stefin of Preheated baking podcast: it took two American bakers to inspire an English woman to try this traditional British bake! And Regula Ysewijn, a Belgian baker whose historical British baking books are just wonderful. It’s so fun seeing your own country – that you thought was pretty boring – through someone else’s eyes…
P.S. This cake keeps well for a couple of days at room temperature in an airtight container or bag.
Ingredients (for best results they all need to be at room temperature when you add them!)
3 UK large eggs (c. 180g)
180g salted butter (or unsalted and a pinch of salt)
180g caster (superfine) sugar
180g plain (AP) flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds
100g full-fat Greek yogurt
1 tbsp (or 3 tsp) caraway seeds
1. Grease and line a 900g/ 2lb loaf tin, preferably light coloured and thinner metal to prevent it getting too dark on the outside. Preheat the oven to 160 C / 140 fan / 320 F / gas 3.
2. Gently toast the caraway seeds in a dry pan for a couple of minutes until a little more fragrant. Bash these up a little in a pestle and mortar, but you don’t need to actually grind them. It’s just to release a little more of their oils.
3. Cream the butter and sugar with electric beaters or using a stand mixer. Do this until extremely fluffy, it’ll take at least a few minutes. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and add, very gradually, to the butter mixture, to incorporate and create an emulsion. I literally do half an egg at a time for best results.
4. Add the ground almonds, flour, seeds and baking powder and beat until just incorporated. Finally, add the yogurt and incorporate very gently, perhaps just using a spatula if you have the patience.
5. Transfer to the loaf pan. Tap on the counter to get rid of any large bubbles to ensure an even texture. You can also swirl through the batter with a skewer to achieve this. Bake for 50-60 minutes. You want a skewer to come out clean, but if you over-bake this cake it will be dry.
I first came across pink peppercorn in sweet baking in Benjamina Ebuelhi’s fab book The New Way to Cake, which has in it a recipe for pink peppercorn madeleines. Pink peppercorns have a warm spice at the back of your palate, and at the front they taste sweet and sour. They are derived from a berry.
My partner suggested using ruby chocolate after we tried a version with milk chocolate. Milk chocolate was nice but the slightly sour berry notes in ruby chocolate compliment pink peppercorns perfectly. The colours also go perfectly together!
This recipe is just using the 3-2-1 principle of shortbread (3 parts flour, 2 parts butter, 1 part sugar – all measured by weight) with a couple of small twists. Using 3-2-1 it’s really easy to create your own recipes!
P.S. Spelt flour isn’t strongly flavoured, so it isn’t a necessity, but it does make lovely, crumbly shortbread if you want to get hold of it.
2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, measured whole, plus a few more to decorate
150g white spelt flour (or just use plain/ all purpose)
100g salted butter (or use unsalted with a pinch of salt)
50g caster/ superfine/ white granulated sugar
1 egg yolk (I used a UK large egg but any size will do, to be honest you could actually leave it out but I liked the richness here)
A scant teaspoon of water, if necessary
c. 50g ruby chocolate (it does alternatively work with milk or white)
Grind the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar. (I’ve tried doing this in a food processor but prefer the slightly chunkier bits you get from doing this by hand.)
Rub in the flour and butter: use a pastry blender, fingertips or a food processor and rub together until you have crumbs the consistency of damp sand.
Stir in the sugar. Beat the egg yolk lightly with a fork in a cup or small bowl, then stir in.
Bring the mixture together with your hands. If that proves difficult, you might consider adding the scant teaspoon of water, or a very teeny drop more if necessary. Go slowly.
Form into your desired shape and chill very well. I opted to press it into a greased and lined 8″ / 20cm cake tin. I then chilled it for a good hour.
Preheat the oven to 190C /170 fan/ 375 F / gas 5. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, depending on how thin it is, until just turning golden on the bottom or sides. If you have baked it in one block, score it with a knife while it’s warm out of the oven, so it will be easier to cut. Cool completely.
Melt the chocolate either gently and carefully in the microwave or using the bain marie method. Drizzle over the shortbread (or dip the biscuits in, if you prefer and have a steady hand).
I really like to spiced this with cardamom (an idea I got from the fab Benjamina Ebuehi), but it goes equally well with cinnamon and nutmeg. Heed my advice, here: do not bake this cake in a rush. Make it the day before, leave it to soak overnight and add the topping just before serving. I’ve tried to rush it and it wasn’t nearly as good. Also… there’s no getting away from the fact that this cake is an absolutely filthy, calorific monster, but it’s INCREDIBLY good. Don’t skimp on getting proper double cream. The one I used was 48% fat and all the better for it!
1.5 tsp cardamom OR 1.5 tsp cinnamon or a scant tsp freshly grated nutmeg
For the soak:
Half a 397g tin of (sweetened) condensed milk (see below!)
170g tin evaporated milk
Around 3 tbsp (45ml) of fresh cream or whole milk
For the topping:
The other half of the 397g tin of condensed milk
250ml -ish of double cream/ whipping cream (C. 38-50% fat content. The higher the fat content the better, otherwise you may need to add butter to make it whip up properly with the liquid condensed milk.)
Optional: A dusting of cocoa OR cinnamon OR a little nutmeg, as appropriate for the spicing inside the cake. You could also serve with berries, if they are good/ in season, or grated dark chocolate. (There’s so much sugar you don’t want to use milk chocolate here, and definitely not white!)
Preheat oven to 180C / 160 fan / 350F. (If your oven cooks from the bottom like mine, consider lowering this by 5 or 10 degrees C and extending the baking time as needed.) Butter and line the bottom of a 20cm/8″ square, loose-bottomed, high-sided, non-stick cake tin. Leave the sides so the mixture can cling onto the sides (like it would in an angel food cake).
In a scrupulously clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy, then gradually add 100g of the sugar and whisk to the edge of stiff peaks but not too far. You will need to use an electric whisk or stand mixer, unless you are seriously hench.
In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar until pale, thickened and frothy. Fold in the flour, spices salt, baking powder and milk.
Fold into the egg whites (or fold the egg whites into this) in thirds, taking care to retain as much air as possible, while also not leaving any streaks of egg white. I use a large metal spoon in a “backwards six” motion (I’m right-handed), turning the bowl around as I go.
Bake for about 40-45 minutes, checking a bit earlier, until cooked all the way through- a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to an appropriately sized dish. Meanwhile, mix together the soak ingredients in a jug.
Skewer or fork all over. Pour over the soak very gradually, coming back to it every so often minutes to add a little more. Meanwhile, refrigerate for a few hours at least, or even better overnight.
Just before serving, make the topping. Whip the cream and condensed milk together until thickened. Spread with an offset spatula or pipe on to the top. BE HAPPY!
Preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 C fan / 350F. Grease and line the bottom of a 23cm cake tin, preferably springform and non-stick. Drain the fruit. (You may want to reserve the juice to drink or put in cocktails.)
Make the crispy crunchies first: Melt the butter, stir the sugar and coconut in and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar with the vanilla for a few minutes until really light and fluffy. Add one egg, then beat in until smooth. Add the second and repeat. Add the third and repeat. Sift in the flour and baking powder and stir until well combined. Finally, toss the fruit with the 1 tbsp flour. Gently stir in the fruit.
Transfer to the cake pan. Sprinkle the coconut topping over. Bake for about an hour until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for a long time before turning out. This helps the crumb fully set, and to stay fluffy, rather than becoming compressed. Serve with a little cream.
Tinned peaches are delicious and unctuous but really sweet, which is why I’ve used dark chocolate here. By all means, use this recipe as a base and experiment by adding different ingredients from the peach, chocolate and vanilla. Ginger could be interesting, as could cinnamon. You could press a fresh raspberry or blackberry into the centre of each, for example, instead of the peaches; or toss blueberries in flour instead of the chocolate and add to the batter; or change up the chocolate.
150g caster sugar (I reckon granulated would be fine)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
1 420g tin sliced peaches
150g dark chocolate
a couple of tablespoons demerara/ turbinado/ pearl sugar, to top (optional).
1. Preheat oven to 190 C / 170 fan / 375 F/ gas 5. Line a muffin tin with 12 cases. Drain the peaches. (I reserve the syrup for mixing into drinks.)
2. Mix together the oil, milk, sugar and vanilla. A whisk works best but you don’t need to add lots of air. (I used an electric whisk but a balloon whisk and a little effort would work absolutely fine).
3. Sift in the flour and baking powder and add the salt. Set the batter aside. (Resting it will actually mean it bakes more evenly due to the flour absorbing more moisture. I just rested it for a few minutes but you could rest for half an hour or even a bit longer. Of course, you’ll not want to leave your oven on that entire time so preheat a bit later on.)
4. Chop the dark chocolate into small pieces. Mix with with the tablespoon flour so the chocolate gets a thin coat of flour. This helps the chocolate cling to the bottom and not just sink to the bottom. Stir the chocolate into the batter.
5. Distribute the batter evenly between the cases. I found an ice cream scoop and a spatula useful here. Press a peach slice into each. Then chop the remaining peach slices into halves or thirds and distribute evenly between the cases. Sprinke over the coarse sugar, if using.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the muffins are springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean of batter (a bit of melted chocolate or soft peach is fine!).
In this episode I gave a run down of lots of things that go well with pears in baking, before talking about this simply delicious (and easy to make) pear, ginger and almond cake. It’s very easy, and has lots of textures and gorgeous flavours that go well together, including the correct level of ginger.
60g salted butter (or just use unsalted with a pinch of salt)
125g light or dark brown sugar (plus a few pinches)
115g plain flour with 2/3 tsp baking powder (or use self-raising flour)
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla paste (optional)
100ml/g milk (whole or semi-skimmed by preference)
1 UK large egg (US extra large – c. 60g in weight)
1 415g (drained weight 230g) tin of pear halves, cut in half again (a tin of pear quarters would work well, too)
a couple of handfuls of flaked almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 fan / 350 F. Grease and flour, or grease and line, an appropriate sized dish for a small cake. Mine was 20cm across and round.
2. Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes. Add a tablespoon of flour, then the egg and mix well. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix well (no need to over-do it, though). Mix in the milk.
3. Transfer the cake batter to the tin. Push in the pear quarters in a nice, evenly distributed pattern. Sprinkle over the pinches of brown sugar, followed by the flaked almonds.
4. Bake for about 20 minutes, covering the top with foil if the almonds look too brown (or just add toasted ones at the end). Leave to cool slightly before serving warm, or to cool completely if serving as a cake rather than a pudding. (This is because the crumb will get compressed if you slice it when warm.)