If there had to be a cake that I could not live without, it would be this Vanilla Cake. It is plain and simple, has the finest, most delicate crumb and can be dressed up or down with icing, cream, fresh fruit, steamed fruit or a compote. Whichever way you choose to eat yours, I hope this becomes one of your very favourite cakes too! Please note: THERE ARE DIFFERENT BAKING TIMES DEPENDING ON WHETHER YOU BAKE THE CAKE IN ONE OR TWO CAKE TINS.
Preheat your oven to 180℃ and spray two 22cm loose-bottom cake tins and line the base and sides with baking paper. Add the flour, baking powder and salt to a mixing bowl and whisk to mix through. Add the eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed for 30 seconds. Slowly pour in the sugar with the mixer still running. Now beat on high speed until the mixture is three times its original volume – about 7 minutes or so. Scatter a third of the flour on the surface and mix on the lowest speed until the flour is just incorporated. Keep going until there is no flour left. Add the butter and milk to a saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted and the mixture is warm when you put your finger in it. NB: you want the butter to melt but NOT boil the milk! Pour the milk-mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and vegetable oil and whisk through with a hand whisk. Add about 250ml of the egg and flour mixture and vigorously whisk to combine. The batter must be smooth. Turn the mixer on to a low speed and very slowly pour in the milk mixture. Scrape down the sides and base of the bowl. Beat on low speed for 20 seconds. Divide the batter between the prepared cake tins. Lift each tin 5cm from the work surface and drop it – repeat a few times to knock out the large air bubbles. Place the cake tins in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove and cool in the tins for 15 minutes before turning out onto cooling racks and removing the baking paper. Leave to cool completely before filling with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
1 x 400g Today Puff Pastry 2 large apples egg-wash: egg yolk + 15ml water whisked together
Preheat your oven to 200℃ and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Unroll your pastry and divide and cut it into 8 equal squares. Place 4 squares on the prepared baking tray and set aside. Make 0,5cm incisions in a vertical line on the other pastry squares. Fill the squares with these incisions following a “brick-laying” pattern. Peel, halve and core the apples. Place half an apple on a square on the baking sheet and cover with a square with incisions. Press down to seal and trim off the excess pastry. Brush with egg-wash and repeat with the rest of the squares and apple. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes and serve with custard.
For the crème pâtissière: Add the corn flour to a mixing bowl. Pour a small amount of milk into the bowl and stir to dissolve. Add the yolks and half the sugar. Whisk to gather by hand until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside. Pour the rest of the milk and the rest of the sugar into a small saucepan. Set over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Take the milk from the heat as soon as tiny bubbles start to appear around the edge of the saucepan. Drizzle the warm mixture onto the egg mixture while whisking continuously. Now pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place on a medium-low heat. Stir continuously until the mixture is thick and smooth. Allow to cook for 30 seconds before removing from the heat. Add the vanilla and stir through. Pour the mixture into a shallow bowl, place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface and allow to cool completely.
Preheat your oven to 200℃ and line a large baking sheet with baking paper. Unroll the pastry sheet and cut it into 4 equal rectangles (cut through lengthwise and then halve each strip). Place the rectangles on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart. Place another sheet of baking paper on top of the pastry and then place another baking sheet on top of that. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Assembly: Whisk your room temperature crème pâtissière by hand until it is smooth. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a large (1,5/2cm) nozzle. Lay a pastry sheet on a serving plate and pipe dollops over the entire sheet. Repeat until you have one pastry sheet left. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add a tablespoon of milk. Stir the mixture, adding a few drops more until you have a very thick paste. Spread the icing paste on the pastry sheet and set aside to dry. Place the iced pastry on top of the custard slice. Slice into portions once you have displayed your beautiful creation.
4 bananas 1 x 380g tin of caramel treat 4 x 250ml Rice Krispies
Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cups. Add 3 bananas to a mixing bowl and mash until smooth. Add 190ml of the caramel and mix through. Now add the Rice Krispies and mix thoroughly. Divide the mixture evenly amongst the paper cups, pressing in the cup with the bottom of a shot glass to create a hollow centre. Now add a teaspoon caramel to each Rice Krispie cup. Slice the last banana into 12 slices and place a slice on top of each Rice Krispie cup. Refrigerate the cups for 1 hour.
1 x 200g packet of coconut biscuits (Tennis biscuits) 80g butter, melted 800g cream cheese 250g crème fraîche 180g caster sugar 40g flour 4 eggs grated rind of 3 lemons 100ml lemon juice 10ml vanilla Meringue: 4 egg whites 70g sugar a pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 140℃ and spray a 22cm loose-bottom cake tin with cooking spray. Break the biscuits into the bowl of a food processor and blitz to crumbs. Drizzle in the melted butter with the engine running. The mixture should resemble wet sand. Spoon the biscuit mixture into the prepared cake tin, spread it out evenly and press it down on the bottom with the back of a spoon. Set aside. Add the cream cheese, crème fraîche, caster sugar, flour, eggs, lemon rind, lemon juice and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until you have a very smooth mixture. Set aside. Wrap the outside of the prepared cake tin with aluminium foil, place the tin in a roasting tin and pour 2-3cm water into the roasting tin. Place in the oven and bake for 1,5-2 hours, until set like wobbly jelly. Turn off the oven, open the door and allow the cake to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the cheesecake in the baking tin for 3-4 hours.
Meringue: Add the egg whites, sugar and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (without the bottom touching the water). Whisk the mixture by hand until the sugar has dissolved and it burns your finger when you touch it. Transfer the bowl to the mixer and whisk at the highest speed until firm, glossy peaks form. Spoon or pipe the meringue onto the cheesecake and flame with a blowtorch before serving.
100g pistacchio nuts, roughly chopped about 16 medium figs 50ml honey
For the pastry: Add the butter and sifted icing sugar to the bowl of a food processor. Run the machine until the mixture is well combined and pasty. Add the flour and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Scrape down. Drizzle a few drops of the egg into the bowl with the engine running. Add a few more drops at a time until the mixture comes together. (You may have egg left and that is okay – the less you need the crispier the pastry!) Shape the pastry into a disc, wrap it with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 190℃. You will use a 22cm loose-bottom flan tin but do not spray or butter the tin! Roll the pastry to a 3mm thickness and line the bottom and sides of the tin. Dock the pastry with a fork and bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the baking paper and weights/beans and set aside to cool.
For the Crème Pâtissière: Add the corn flour to a mixing bowl. Pour a small amount of the milk into the owl and stir to make a slurry with the corn flour. Add the egg yolks and half the sugar. Whisk by hand until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside. Pour the rest of the milk and the rest of the sugar into a small saucepan. Set over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Take the milk from the heat as soon as tiny bubbles start to appear around the edge of the saucepan. Drizzle the warm mixture onto the egg mixture in a very thin stream while whisking continuously. Now pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place on a medium-low heat. Stir until the mixture is thick and smooth. Allow to cook for about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the mixture into a shallow bowl, place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface and allow to cool completely.
Whisk the mixture by hand once it is at room temperature, until it is smooth. Spoon it into a piping bag and pipe into the prepared pastry shell. Scatter the chopped pistachio evenly over the surface. Cut a cross into the top third of each fig and place the figs side-by-side on the pistachio. Drizzle the honey over the figs before serving.
This recipe makes 12 small desserts or 6 substantial portions, served in glasses or ramekins.
1 x 200g packet of coconut biscuits (Tennis biscuits) 80ml desiccated coconut 1 x 385g can of condensed milk 80ml lemon juice 250g smooth cream cheese, room temperature 250ml fresh cream 2 x large mango, cubed
Break the biscuits into large pieces and place in a plastic bag. Crush them lightly with a rolling pin but keep some texture/not too fine. Add the coconut, mix through and divide amongst 12 serving glasses. Set aside. Pour the condensed milk and lemon juice into a mixing bowl and beat together with an electric whisk until incorporated. Add the cream cheese and mix again on high speed until the mixture is completely smooth. Set aside. Pour the cream into a mixing bowl and beat until it forms medium-stiff peaks. Add the cream to the condensed milk mixture and fold through until it is thoroughly blended. Spoon the cheesecake mixture into the glasses and gently tap the glass so that the mixture settles into the crumb. Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour. Peel the mango and cut into cubes. Spoon the fruit on top of each cheesecake, sprinkle some coconut shavings on top and serve.
125ml sugar 125ml flour 3 eggs 5ml vanilla 30ml butter, melted 250ml milk enough pitted cherries to cover the bottom of a pie/flan dish
Preheat your oven to 180℃ and grease a ceramic pie/flan dish. Add the sugar and flour to a mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs, vanilla, melted butter and milk together in a wide-mouth jug. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients while whisking. Fill the bottom of the pie dish with an even layer of cherries and pour the batter over the cherries. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. The clafoutis will puff up in the oven and fall back on itself as it cools. Dust with icing sugar once cooled.
500g self-raising flour 10ml cream of tartar 10ml bicarbonate of soda 10ml ground ginger 2ml salt 170g butter, cubed 170g golden syrup 350g brown sugar 2 eggs 12 chocolate balls, halved 250ml cream, whipped
Preheat your oven to 180℃ and spray a 24-hole mini-muffin pan with cooking spray. Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and salt. Add the cubed butter and rub in with your fingers. Set aside. Add the syrup and sugar to a saucepan set of medium-low heat and stir until the sugar has almost completely dissolved. The mixture should be very runny. Cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the eggs together in a bowl and add it to the syrup mixture while whisking. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly – there should be no dry flour left. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into balls and place in the muffin pans. Flatten the balls with your fingers and then make an indent with a small shot glass/the back of a lemon juicer. See video below. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately press the indents like you did before baking. Place half a chocolate ball in each hollow and set aside to cool. Top each ginger cup with whipped cream to serve.