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TasteRecipe & Nutritional profile section:

Winter Puddings

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Quick Meals ¦ Low Glycaemic Index Dining ¦ Summer Recipes ¦ Puddings + Cakes

Here is a selection of delicious seasonal pudding, cake and dessert recipes.
Over 200 recipes are available in my book - Colour for living - How to change your life with colour.

Upside-down Pineapple Sponge Pudding
Serves 6

Syrup mix
25g butter
25g soft dark brown sugar
4 slices pineapple
100g butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g self raising flour

Melt the butter and brown sugar in the dish on high for 1 minute. Swirl the melted butter around dish to coat
Arrange the pineapple slices on the syrup in a decorative pan
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, beat in the eggs, sieve flour and fold into the mixture. Spread gently over the topping
Cook on medium for 10 minutes. Test with a knife or skewers as it will look uncooked on top but will be done on the inside. Leave the pudding to stand for 8-10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife. Turn onto a plate. Serve with whipped cream or crème fraiche.


Lemon Apricot Sponge Pudding

Syrup mix
25g butter
25g soft dark brown sugar
1 small tin Apricots
1 lemon, rind and juice
100g butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g self raising flour

Melt the butter and brown sugar in the dish on high for 1 minute. Swirl the melted butter around dish to coat.
Wash and dry the lemon. Zest and juice the lemon. Add the zest and juice to the syrup mix with the flavourings.
Arrange the apricots on the syrup in a decorative pan
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, beat in the eggs, sieve flour and fold into the mixture. Spread gently over the topping
Cook on medium for 10 minutes. Test with a knife or skewers as it will look uncooked on top but will be done on the inside. Leave the pudding to stand for 8-10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife. Turn onto a plate.

Apple Sponge Pudding

Syrup mix
25g butter
25g soft dark brown sugar
1 large cooking apple
100g butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g self raising flour

Melt the butter and brown sugar in the dish on high for 1 minute. Swirl the melted butter around dish to coat
Peel, core and slice the apple thinly. Arrange the apple slices in a neat pattern in the syrup.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, beat in the eggs, sieve flour and fold into the mixture. Spread gently over the topping
Cook on medium for 10 minutes. Test with a knife or skewers as it will look uncooked on top but will be done on the inside. Leave the pudding to stand for 8-10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife. Turn onto a plate. Serve with whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Syrup mix
25g butter
25g soft dark brown sugar

100g butter
100g brown sugar
2 eggs
100g self raising flour
2 tbsp golden syrup
25g butter
25g soft dark brown sugar

Divide the butter, sugar and syrup between the dishes. Melt on medium heat for 1 minute. Swirl to cover sides and base
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, beat in the eggs, sieve flour and fold into the mixture. Divide the mixture between the dishes. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Turn dishes and microwave on high for 2-2 1/2 minutes until set. Stand for 5 minutes. Loosen edges with a knife. Turn out onto serving plates.


Biscuits and Cookies


250g flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp bread soda
50g sultans (optional)
50g mixed peel (optional)
100g butter
100g brown sugar
2 tbsp treacle
1 egg beaten
150ml milk

Preheat oven to 190°C/Gas mark 5. Gather equipment, collect/weigh ingredients, set table.
Grease tin well if not non-stick. Sieve flour, bread soda and ginger. Add fruit if using. Melt butter, sugar, and treacle over a low heat. Pour into the dry ingredients. Add egg and milk together and mix to give a soft consistency. Put into the greased tin. Clean out bowl with spatula. Bake for about 30-40 minutes. It cooks quicker in a deep round sandwich tin rather than a loaf tin. Cool in tin for 5-10 minutes before turning out.

Cakes and Desserts

Serves 6

4 egg whites
200g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar - white

170 ml whipping cream
8-10 strawberries or other fresh fruit
Sugar to sweeten
Icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 130°C/Fan 120°C/gas mark 1
Line baking tray with silicone paper, draw a circle or oval on paper as a guide for the shape.
Put egg whites into a clean, grease-free bowl and whisk until stiff and dry. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down without spilling the egg white.
Gradually whisk in the caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Finally add cornflour and vinegar and fold into the mixture.
Place the mixture in the piping bag. Pipe carefully onto the baking sheet, keeping within the marked shape.
Bake on middle shelf of 11/2 hours until crisp. This temperature may need to be reduced a little if the pavlova is getting too brown. Turn odd heat and leave the meringue to dry out and cool in the oven. Remove from the parchment when cold.
Whip cream, spread the top pf the pavlova with half the whipped cream and sliced fruit. Decorate with piped cream roses. Add a few fresh mint leaves for special occasions. Sieve icing sugar over the top to finish.

Baby Meringues

2 Free-range egg whites
100g Caster sugar
170ml cream

Preheat over to 110°C/Fan 100°C/gas mark 1/2.
Line baking tin with silicone paper. Put egg whites into a clean, grease-free bowl and whisk until stiff and dry. You should be able to turn bowl upside down without spilling the egg white.
Gradually whisk in 1/2 the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Fold in the remaining sugar gently.
Drop spoonfuls of the mixture carefully onto baking tin to make 16 meringues. Bake in the centre of oven for 1 1/2 hours until crisp and dry. Reduce temperature a little if meringue is getting brown.
Turn off heat, leave the meringues to dry out and cool in the oven. Remove from the parchment when cold, sandwich in pairs with whipped cream.

Chocolate Roulade
Serves 4

5 eggs, separated
175g caster sugar
1 tbsp hot water
175g plain chocolate, melted
170ml cream, whipped
To decorate: icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 170°C/gas mark 4-5.
Melt the chocolate with the eater in a bowl over very hot water, or in a microwave on MEDIUM for 1-2 minutes. Grease tin and line with parchment/greaseproof paper.
Separate the eggs carefully. Using an electric beater, whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until they stand in peaks. Whisk in 4 tablespoons of the sugar until very stiff.
Whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar together until mixture is thick and creamy and holds the imprint of the beater.
Gently stir the melted chocolate into the egg yolk mixture. Now fold 1 tablespoon of the egg whites gently into the mixture using a large metal spoon. Fold in the remaining egg white (DO NOT OVERDO THIS), some white should show through. Pour into the prepared tin, smooth over, bake in the centre of oven for 15 minutes until risen and firm to the touch.
Allow cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with a little icing sugar, cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and damp tea towel, leave for at lease 10 to 15 minutes (or overnight). Whip the cream.
Sprinkle some icing sugar onto a sheet of greaseproof paper, remove tea towel. Place cake on the sugared paper. Remove the lining paper very carefully, allow the cake to cool completely. When cold, spread the whole cake with whipped cream and roll up, taking care not to include paper. Do not worry if it cracks! Sprinkle with more icing sugar, lift carefully onto a serving platter. Decorate as desired.

Pineapple and Cranberry Fruitcake

250g butter, softened
250g dark muscovado sugar
4 medium eggs
300g plain flour
2 level tsp ground mixed spice
1 kg packet dried mixed fruit
250g packet dried ready-to-eat pineapple, chopped
150g dried cranberries
20cm(8in) round or 18cm(7in) square tin lined with baking parchment

Position the oven shelf just below the centre of the oven so that the cake will be central in the oven. Set the oven to cool, gas mark 2 or 150°C.
Beat together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a little flour with each egg. Fold in the remaining flour and mixed spice, then fold in the mixed fruit, pineapple and cranberries.
Spoon the mixture into the lined cake tin and level the surface.
Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 3-3 1/2 hours, or until a skewer comes out clean after being inserted into the cake. If the cake starts to brown too quickly, then cover it with a sheet of baking parchment or foil and reduce the over temperature slightly.
When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and leave it to cool completely in the tin.
When cake is cold, remove it from the tin and wrap it in baking parchment, then in foil. If cake is well wrapped and stored in a cool place, it will keep for at least 3 months.
Lemon Cake
This cake is absolutely gorgeous for your next garden party. The whole family will love it. You can use lime or orange if preferred

You will need
150g softened margarine
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon
150g self-raising flour
4 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp. icing sugar
juice of 1 lemon

What to do
Put on the oven 180degreesC or Gas Mark 4.
Cream the margarine and sugar together in a bowl using a wooden spoon until creamy.
Crack the eggs into a jug and whisk with a fork. Gradually add the egg a little at a time to the creamed mixture. Mix well as you go.
Beat in the lemon zest and sift in the flour.
Add enough milk to make the mixture creamy and moist.
Spoon into a loaf tin , flatten with a spatula and bake for 40 minutes

Is it baked?
Using oven gloves test the top of the cake. If it is springy its done

To Finish-
Mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice
Prick the top of the cake with a fork and pour the juice over the warm cake
Leave to cool on a wire tray. Then carefully turn it out and leave to cool completely on a wire rack

Coconut Cake
Serves 8

4 eggs
225g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
100g flaked almonds
100g desiccated coconut
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
125ml coconut milk
150g self-raising flour, sifted
Whipped cream, to serve
Fresh passion fruit pulp, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C. Put the eggs, sugar, butter, almonds, coconut, zest and juice, coconut milk and flour in a food processor and blend until combined. Pour into a buttered 28cm round cake tin. Bake for 45-55 minutes until golden. Cool then chill for 1 hour. Serve with cream and passion fruit pulp.

Carrot Cake

100g butter
100g brown sugar
200g carrot (2 medium carrots)
2 eggs
125g self-raising flour
125g whole meal flour
2 tsp mixed spice
50g sultanas
25g walnuts

Preheat oven to 180 /gas mark 4-5. Gather equipment, collect/weight ingredients, set table.
Grease tin if not non-stick. Mix flour, spice, fruit and nut in a bowl. Wash and grate carrot. Melt butter and remove from heat. Stir in sugar, carrot and finally eggs. Add carrot mixture to flour mix to make a soft dough, if the mixture is too stiff, ad 1-2 tablespoons water. Turn mixture into greased tin.
Bake in oven for 35-45 minutes until nicely browned, well risen and cooked through; check by piercing with a skewer, it should come out moist but clean. Cool for 5-10 minutes in the tin. Turn onto wire rack.

Cream Cheese Icing (Lemon, Orange or Cinnamon)

100g cream cheese
25g icing sugar
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest and juice of 1/2 orange
2-3 drops vanilla essence
1 tsp cinnamon

Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl , add the cream cheese and zest or vanilla and cinnamon. Beat well until smooth. Add enough lemon, orange or water to give a good flavour but do not allow icing to become too soft. Spread over the cold cake. Score with a fork. Dust with a little more icing sugar or cinnamon or a little reserved zest.

Banoffi Pie

Caramel Toffee
1 tin condensed milk (397g)
50g butter
50g brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup

150g digestive biscuits
100g melted margarine

2 bananas
1 tbsp Jif lemon
170ml cream whipped (small carton)

Crush biscuits roughly in liquidiser or processor or in a polythene bag using a rolling pin. Melt butter, add biscuits, mix well. Tip into tin fatten with the back of a wet spoon.
Quick method, melt butter, syrup, sugar and condensed milk in a large saucepan over a medium heat, stirring all the time. Use a wooden spoon to clean sides of pan. When butter/margarine has melted and the mixture is bubbling slowly but steadily, start timing 10-12 minutes. Be careful as the caramel can burn easily - stir into the corners and all around the bottom steadily. When mixture has coloured a little and is thicker but still a pouring consistency, remove from heat. Pour caramel over biscuit base, smooth the surface.
Whip cream until just stiff. Slice bananas, mix with Jif lemon, place on top of the caramel. Cover immediately with whipped cream. This can be piped to give a professional finish
French apple Tart.

Rich short cut pastry

150g plain flour
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 pinch of salt
75g butter
1 egg yolk
2-3 tbsp cold water
500g cooking apples
3 tbsp water
50g sugar
1 lemon
3 desert apples
1 tbsp apricot jam
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp water

Preheat oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Pastry, Sieve flour, sugar and salt into a bowl. Rub in butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Mix in egg yolk and sufficient water to make a stiff dough. Knead until smooth, chill in the fridge.
Filling: Wash and zest lemon. Peel, core and slice cooking apples. Cook with 3 tablespoons water until soft, add sugar and lemon zest, beat to a puree with a whisk, cool. Grease tin r quiche dish.
Roll out pasty, line flan tin or dish. Fill with apple puree. Peel, quarter, core and slice the desert apples evenly, arrange slices in overlapping circles over the surface. Bake for 20 minutes.
Glaze: Juice half the lemon. Put apricot jam, water and lemon juice into a small saucepan, stir over a gentle heat until think, sieve into a small bowl. Brush glaze over apples, return to over, continue cooking for 10-15 minutes.

Citrus Breakfast Muffins

250g self raising flour
25g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bread soda
75g butter
75g caster sugar
1 orange or lemon
100ml milk
1 egg

Preheat oven t 200°C/Gas mark 6. Melt butter (microwave for 40 seconds or place in heating oven) and set aside. Grease tins
Sieve flour, baking powder, bread soda. Add almonds and sugar. Wash, zest and juice the orange or lemon. Measure 100ml of the juice, beat with the zest, milk, egg and melted butter. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix with fork. The batter will be lumpy but that is correct. Do not over-beat. Spoon into tins, bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot with butter and jam

Yoghurt Muffins or Cake

Cooking times: muffins 15 minutes; cake 50-55 minutes
Makes 12 muffins

125ml plain yoghurt
125ml vegetable oil
175g self-raising flour
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
1 lemon or orange
4 drops vanilla essence
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 170°C/Gas mark 4. Grease tins. Wash and zest lemon using a small or medium holes on grater. Brush zest from grater with pastry brush. Stir all ingredients together with wooden spoon. Fill muffin tins ? full or spoon mixture into cake tin. Bake muffins for 15 minutes until just brown, a cake for 50-55 minutes. When cooked, they should spring back when pressed in the centre. Serve warm or cold.
Lemon drizzle muffins or Cake: Do not add the lemon juice to mixture but boil it with 1 tablespoon sugar for 1 minute an drizzle over the warm cooked cake or muffins.

Apple and Pecan Nut Cake
Serves 5-6

2 cooking apples
125g sugar
150g plain flour
1 level tsp bread soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
75g pecan nuts or walnuts
1 egg
125g melted butter

Preheat oven to 170°C/Gas mark 4. Grease tin. Melt butter in cup for 30 seconds in microwave or oven. Peel, quarter and slice apples very thinly. Cover with sugar in a bowl. Sift flour, soda, cinnamon and allspice onto apples. Add pecans, mix.
Beat egg, add butter, mix into apple. Spoon into tin, bake for 45-50 minutes until it springs back to the touch. Dust with icing sugar. Serve warm with cream as a dessert or allow to cool on a wire tray and serve as a cake.

Orange Cranberry Fruit Loaf
Cooking time 1-1 1/2 hours

200g fresh cranberries
350g self-raising flour
1 large orange
2 large eggs
1/2 level tsp salt
100g caster sugar
50g melted butter
50g chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4. Grease tin, line bottom if not non-stick. Melt butter in cup in oven. Wash, zest and juice orange. Wash fruit, chop finely.
Sieve flour and salt, add sugar, zest, fruit and nuts. Mix thoroughly. Add eggs, 6 tablespoons juice and melted butter. Mix well. Turn into tin, wet the top, smooth with wet knuckles. Bake on centre shelf for 1-1 1/2 hours. Remove from tin, cool on wire tray. This is best left for 24 hours before cutting. Serve with butter or spread. Store in a cake tin.

Banana Cake
Cooking time 40 minutes

125g butter
125g caster sugar
1 egg
3 very ripe bananas
150g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bread soda
3 tbsp milk
butter for greasing

Preheat oven to 170°C/Gas mark 4. Grease tin(s) generously with butter. Mash bananas. Dissolve bread soda in milk. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg well, then the bananas. Sieve flour into mixture, fold in, finally stir in the milk. Spoon into tin. Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown. Cool in tin for 5 minutes and then carefully turn out. Cool on a wire tray. Serve as a snack or in a lunch box.

Fudge topped banana Cake
Make the key recipe. Bake in loaf tin or 20cm-23cm round or square tin. When cold, top with fudge topping.

Banana and Walnut fudge sandwich
Add 25g chopped walnuts with the bananas to the key recipe. Bake in two sandwich tins for 25 minutes. Use the fudge topping as a filling. Dust with icing sugar.

Luxurious Chocolate Cake

225g self raising flour
150g caster sugar
50g cocoa or drinking chocolate
25g ground almonds
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
5 tbsp mayonnaise/plain yoghurt
100ml water
1-2 tbsp jam of your choice
Rich Chocolate Filling/Icing - optional
25g butter
75g cooking chocolate
150g icing sugar
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp milk or cream

Preheat oven to 180°C/gas mark 4-5.
Grease tins, line the bottoms only with parchment paper.
Whisk eggs and caster sugar until thick and creamy. Gently stir in mayonnaise or yoghurt. Sieve flour, cocoa and ground almonds into the mixture. Fold in lightly, finally fold in the water. Turn this runny mixture into the tins, bake for 20-25 minutes. Check with a skewer, allow to cool for 3 minutes in the tin, then turn out gently onto a wire tray.

Rich Chocolate Filling/Icing: Chop chocolate roughly. Melt butter and water in a saucepan by stirring over a gentle heat. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate. Allow to melt, return to heat if necessary. Sieve icing sugar into bowl, beat in the chocolate mixture, add the milk or cream to soften if necessary. Cover and allow to cool.

When cake has cooled, spread jam on one half, spread 1/3 of the filling on the other. Sandwich together. Ice the top with remaining filling. Use a hot knife to smooth the surface.

Lemon Tart

200g plain flour
50g ground almonds
1/2 tsp salt
2tbsp icing sugar, plus extra to dust
125g chilled butter, diced
2 medium egg yokes
1 egg white beaten

For the filling
200g golden caster sugar
4 medium eggs
142ml carton double cream
Grated zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons

Put the flour, ground almonds, slat, icing sugar and butter into a food processor and whiz to make fine crumbs. Add the yolks and 2-3 tablespoons of cold water and pulse until the mixture comes together to make a firm but moist dough. Lightly shape the pastry into a ball, then roll out on a floured surface and use to line a 20cm fluted flan tin. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas mark 5.
Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper, fill with baking beans and bake for 10 minutes. Lift out the paper, return to the oven and bake for 5 minutes until the pastry is dry. Brush the pastry case with egg white and return to the oven for 5 minutes until the egg white has dried and the pastry is shinny - this will prevent the pastry going soggy once the filling is poured in.
Lower the oven temperature to 150°C/gas mark 2.
For the filling, whisk the caster sugar and eggs until foamy. Beat in the cream, then the lemon zest and juice. Pour into the tart case and return to the oven for 40-50 minutes until just set - don't worry if it's wobbly in the centre as it will set as it cools. Cool, slip out of the tin, then dust with extra icing sugar.

Chilled Chocolate Pudding with Poached Pears

500g good-quality dark chocolate
4 eggs
250g caster sugar
500ml double cream whipped to soft peaks
3 tbsp dark rum
250ml prepared strong black coffee
around 250g sponge finger biscuits
cocoa, to dust

For the spiced poached pears
225g caster sugar375ml red wine
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
1 vanilla pod, split
4 firm pears, peeled, halved, cored

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool. Whisk the eggs with 125g of the sugar until pale and thickened. Fold the chocolate into the egg mixture then carefully fold in the whipped cream and chill.

Stir the remaining sugar and rum into the hot coffee, until dissolved. Briefly dip half the biscuits in the coffee mixture and place a layer in the bottom of a 23cm spring form tin, covering the base. Spread chocolate mixture over them, then dip the remaining biscuits in the coffee and layer over the top. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours until set.

Put the sugar, wine, cinnamon, bay and vanilla in a pan and bring to a simmer. Add the pears and enough water to cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender, then remove them and boil the liquid until reduced by ?. Pour over the pears. Leave to cool, cover and chill.

Turn out the chocolate pudding and dust with cocoa. Serve each slice with half a poached pear, drizzled with some of the juice.

Malteser Muffins
Makes 24 mini muffins

225g plain flour
4 x 37g packets of Maltesers, 24 left whole, the rest crushed
110g golden caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 medium egg
142ml soured cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter, melted
5 tbsp semi-skimmed milk

For the caramel icing
200g golden icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
1 tbsp golden syrup
25g unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4. lightly grease 2 x 12 hole mini muffin tins (base 3cm wide, top 4cm wide). Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the crushed Maltesers, caster sugar, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat together the egg, soured cream, vanilla, butter and milk, then mix into the dry ingredients until just combined. Divide among the tins and bake for 12-15 minutes, until skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove and cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, beat all the icing ingredients until smooth. Ice each muffin, then decorate with a Malteser.

The Ultimate chocoholic's Muffins

400g dark chocolate with less then 50% cocoa solids, roughly chopped
200g unsalted butter, roughly chopped
200g self-raising flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp good-quality cocoa powder
150g golden caster sugar
125ml semi-skimmed milk
3 medium eggs
3 x 54g Mars bars, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ gas mark 4. Lightly grease a regular 12 - hole muffin tin (base 5cm wide, top 6.5 cm wide). Put half the chocolate and all the butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (don't let the water touch the bowl). Stir occasionally until melted, then mix until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa, then stir in the sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk and eggs. Add the dry ingredients, along with the melted chocolate. Mix to combine. Put a spoonful of mixture into the base of each muffin hole and top with a Mars bar slice. Top with remaining mixture to three quarters full and bake fro 18-20 minutes, or until risen and cooked through. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Put the remaining chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, until melted. Cool slightly. Pile the Mars slices onto the muffins, drizzling with melted chocolate.

Sticky Toffee Muffins

250g pitted dates
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g unsalted butter
225g self raising flour
165g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs

For the toffee sauce
60g unsalted butter
75g light muscavado sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
125ml double cream, plus extra for serving

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. lightly grease a regular 12 - hole muffin tin (base 5cm wide, top 6.5cm wide). Put the dates in a sauce pan with 250ml water and bring to the boil. Add the bicarbonate of soda and the butter. Stir to dissolve, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. Whiz in a processor to form a fairly rough puree.

Sift the flour into a large bowl, stir in the caster sugar, then the vanilla, eggs, and date puree, until just combined. Divide among the muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, put the butter, muscavado sugar, golden syrup and cream in a pan over a low heat. Stir to combine, then increase the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until thickened. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Serve each muffin with a dollop of cream and drizzled with toffee sauce.

Blueberry and Apple Loaf

125g chilled butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
225g self-raising flour
175g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 large eating apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
125g blueberries
2 tbsp apricot jam

Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5. grease a 900g loaf tin and line with baking paper or a paper loaf tin liner. Sieve the flour into a food processor with a pinch of salt and add the butter. Whiz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and eggs and whiz again to make a smooth mixture.

Spoon half the cake mixture into the loaf tin, then scatter with half the apples and half the blueberries. Spoon over the remaining cake mixture, then scatter with the remaining fruit. Bake for 1 hour, or until risen and firm. To test it, insert a skewer into the centre - it should come out clean.

Put the apricot jam into a small bowl and microwave the jam on high for 20 seconds to melt (or melt in a small pan over a low heat). Brush the glaze over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Cake-like and Airy Oat, Apple and Cinnamon Cookies

100g unsalted butter, softened
70g granulated sugar
50g light muscavado sugar
1 large egg
140g plain flour
50g porridge oats
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g dried ready-to-eat apples roughly chopped
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Lightly grease 2-3 non-stick baking sheets. Put the butter and sugars into a large bowl and cream together using an electric hand whisk until pale, light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the egg until mixed together. In a small bowl, mix the flour, oats, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and a good pinch of salt. Lightly old this into the butter and egg mixture, along with the dried apples, until just combined into a dough.

Put tablespoonfuls of the cookie dough onto the baking sheets, spaced apart to allow for some spreading. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove from the oven. Leave on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar and eat immediately. Or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.



Easter Cake

375g softened unsalted butter, plus extra to grease
375g golden caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
375g ground almonds
1 tsp ground mixed spice
5 large organic eggs
200g hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
8 tbsp Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
300g good-quality white chocolate
50g unsalted butter
250g white marzipan
icing sugar, for dusting
mini chocolate eggs, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3. Grease and line a 23cm round cake tin with non-stick baking paper. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and orange zest together until light and fluffy. Stir in the ground almonds and mixed spice.

Beat in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the hazelnuts, flour, baking powder and the hazelnut liqueur until smooth. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour, then cover with foil and bake for a further 50minutes or until a metal skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just smooth, but don't over beat. Spread all over the top and sides of the cake with a palette knife and leave to set. Roll out the marzipan on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar large enough to cover the whole cake. Roll up on rolling pin, then unroll over the cake and press lightly into the sides and trim neatly.

Decorate with sugar-coated chocolate eggs in pretty colours and a big ribbon.

Hot Cross Buns
Makes 12

450 g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
4 tbsp sugar
60 g butter or margarine
10g packet instant dried yeast
1/2 cup mixed dried fruit or raisins
1 large egg, beaten
375ml lukewarm water

Crosses and glaze
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 Cup water
2 tbsp golden syrup, gently heated

To serve

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6 and line a 12-hole muffin tin.
Sieve the flour, salt and spices into a bowl. Mix in the sugar. Rub in the butter or margarine until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the yeast and mix it in with the dried fruit.
Add the beaten egg plus sufficient milk to form the mixture into dough. Knead lightly on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for 15 to 20 minutes.
Divide the dough into 12 pieces and knead each one into a ball. Drop each ball into the muffin tin and set aside to rise for 20 minutes or until doubled in size.
To make the crosses, mix the flour and water to a smooth paste. Spoon into a piping bag. Using a knife, lightly mark the top of each bun with a cross and drizzle a stripe over the cross.
Bake the buns in the oven for 30 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove from the oven and brush the tops with golden syrup to glaze them while they are still warm.
Return the tray of buns to the oven for a few seconds to set the glaze. Leave to cool on a wire rack and serve with jam and butter.



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