Sticky Toffee Pudding

​This is a classic winter pudding – the sort which never really goes out of style.
Loaded with dates and brown sugar, it’s soft and moist and surprisingly quick and easy to make.
It also tastes better the next day, so it’s a great one to make in advance.

Yield: 8-10 servings
Oven temp: 180C
Main utensils: Mixing bowls, hand-mixer, saucepan, individual ramekins or moulds, whisk

Ingredients:
Batter:
​225g Dates, pitted
175g Water
5ml Bicarbonate of soda
5ml Vanilla Ess
175g Self-Raising Flour
2 Eggs
85g Butter
140g Soft Brown Sugar (Muscavado sugar)
30ml Black Treacle
100ml Milk
Soaking Sauce:
175g Soft brown sugar
50g Butter
225ml Cream
15ml Golden syrup
Vanilla ice-cream or creme fraiche for serving

Method:
Batter: 1. Stone ( if necessary )and finely chop the dates. 2. Place them into a small saucepan. Then boil them in the 175g water, for about 5 -10 minutes, to soften them up. 3. Add the bicarb and stir with a fork to mash down a bit. The mixture should fizz up as you add the bicarb. Allow to cool. 4. Prepare some individual moulds by greasing with a little butter or non-stick spray. 5. In a separate bowl, cream the softened butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy, using a hand-mixer. 6. Add the eggs one at a time and mix in well. Beat in the black treacle. 7. Now fold in the sifted flour and then the milk. 8. Stir in the softened dates and spoon the mixture into the moulds to fill to about 3/4’s. Bake at 180C until risen and firm to the touch. 9. Once baked, remove from the oven, cool for a minute and the pour the sauce over. Once thoroughly soaked, turn the puddings out and serve warm. 10. They can also be placed into a sealed tupperware container at this point, and stored in the fridge.
To re-heat: Simply pop into the microwave, on high, for about 1 minute.
Sauce: Place all the sauce ingredients into a saucepan and heat gently while stirring until blended. Now boil the sauce for a couple of minutes until thickened and then pour over the baked puddings and leave to soak in.

BERRY & ALMOND STREUSEL CUPCAKES

These lovely, light and summery cupcakes are spiced up with a crunchy topping and are really good served with extra berries and some creme fraiche or sour cream, instead of the usual frosting, for a not-too-sweet experience.

Yield: 12-15
Oven Temp: 170C
Main utensils: Hand-mixer or stand mixer, mixing bowls, whisk, 12-hole muffin tin, paper cases

Ingredients:
Streusel Topping:
250ml Cake Flour
60ml Flaked Almonds
5ml Cinnamon, ground
60ml Castor sugar
125g Butter Cupcakes:
240g Cake Flour
7.5ml Baking powder
240g Castor sugar
240g Butter, softened
4 Eggs
60ml Sour cream
5ml Vanilla ess
1 punnet Raspberries/blackberries
60ml Berry jam, warmed

Method:
Topping: 1. Mix all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. 2. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients. 3. Set aside while you make the cupcake batter.

Cupcakes: Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside. Cream the softened butter and castor sugar in a mixing bowl, using the beater attachment set on medium/high speed, until the mixture appears pale, fluffy and very light in texture. Turn the machine down to a medium/low speed. While the machine is running, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl down every now and again. Add the sifted dry ingredients, a spoonful at a time, into the mixture while the machine is running on a low speed, making sure all the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Add the sour cream and vanilla to the mixture and beat until the mixture is smooth. Place cupcake cases into a muffin pan and then ½ fill each case with the sponge mixture. Stir the warmed jam into the berries and then place a couple of jammy berries on top of the sponge mixture. Spoon more sponge mixture over the berries and top with a sprinkling of streusel topping. Bake at 170C until well risen and golden. Serve with extra sour cream and berries.

Brioche

Brioche is the ultimate French classic… a gorgeous rich and buttery breakfast bread with it’s iconic top-knot shape.
It’s definitely one of my favourites. I like to think of it as the perfect cross between cake and bread. And it’s just wonderful served either sweet or savoury…
Slather it with chocolate hazelnut spread; Toast it and spread with homemade preserves or warm camembert and honey; Slice it thinly, toast and serve with duck liver pate; Turn it into ‘bread & butter’ pudding or the most delicious French toast with bacon and maple syrup; Slice into rounds and serve with soft-poached eggs and smoked salmon……
It’s a bit of a process to make – so I would suggest saving it for the weekend – But it’s perfect for that lovely weekend brunch. And if you don’t have the classic fluted brioche tins, just use a muffin pan.

OVEN TEMP: 200⁰C
YIELD: 8-10 individual brioche or 1 large loaf
PREP TIME: about 3-4 hours
BAKE TIME: 30 – 40 minutes
MAIN UTENSILS: Mixing Bowl; Wooden Spoon; Jug, Whisk, Brioche tins/ loaf tins; Tea Towel, Baking Sheet


INGREDIENTS:
250g     Cake Flour
250g     White bread flour
10g        Instant yeast
125ml    Tepid milk
4            Eggs (60g or extra large size )
50g       Castor Sugar
10g        Salt
250g     Butter
1             Egg, beaten with a pinch of sugar ( This is the egg-wash )


METHOD:
The following method is mixed by hand, but you can simply follow the same steps to mix in a machine, using the dough-hook attachment. My Kenwood is a little large for this size recipe, so I find it easier to do by hand. When I double the recipe, I use the machine…

1. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and make a well in the centre. 2. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk together the warm milk and eggs until frothy. 3. Pour the whisked eggs into the well and using a wooden spoon, mix the dry ingredients into the liquids to form a soft, slightly sticky dough. 4. Using your hands, knead the dough in the bowl until smooth and elastic. 5. Now work in the softened butter a little at a time, using your hands, to form a glossy dough. 6. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk. 7. Once risen, gently  knock the air out and then cover the bowl with clingfilm. Place into the fridge to chill for a little while ( a minimum of 30 mins – and up to overnight ) 8. Grease the tins with butter or a non-stick spray and preheat the oven. 9. Take the cold dough and knead lightly for a few seconds so that it is pliable again. 10. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, divide the brioche dough into equal portions of 100g. Working with one portion of dough at a time:   1. Pinch off a small piece of approximately 20g and set aside.
2. Roll the larger piece into a smooth ball and place into a brioche tin. Using your thumb, press an indent into the centre of this dough ball.
3. Now roll the smaller piece into a ball and then gently taper one side to create a teardrop shape. 4. Place the teardrop, pointy-side down, into the indent of the large ball, to form a top-knot shape. 5. Repeat with the remaining portions and then place all the tins onto a baking sheet. 6. Brush each brioche with egg wash carefully – so that it doesn’t drip into the tin. 7. Leave in a warm place to prove until doubled in bulk. 8. Once doubled, bake in the pre-heated oven until well risen and dark golden brown. Don’t be alarmed by how dark the brioches will become… once they feel hollow when tapped, you will know they are done. Remove and cool for a minute in the tin, before turning out onto a cooling rack.

PEANUT BUTTER, CHOCOLATE AND MALTED PUFF SQUARES


No baking required! Quick, easy and disgustingly delicious… if you love peanut butter, then these little squares will hit the spot.


Yield: 20-25 squares
Oven Temp: No baking
Main Utensils: Mixing bowl, wooden spoon, food processor, 20cm square cake tin or baking pan, non-stick baking paper


Ingredients:
115g Butter, melted
250ml Digestive biscuit crumbs
120g Icing sugar, sifted
215g Peanut butter
180g Dark chocolate, 70%
125ml Malted puffs ( maltesers or tumbles)

Method:

1. Line your baking pan or cake tin with non-stick baking paper. 2. In a bowl, mix the melted butter, biscuit crumbs, and icing sugar together until combined. 3. Stir in 3/4 of the peanut butter. ( if the mixture feels a little too soft, add extra biscuit crumb). Press firmly into the prepared baking pan. 5. Place the remaining peanut butter and the chocolate into a glass bowl Heat in the microwave for 30 second bursts at a time until melted. Stir after each 30 second burst. 6. Give a final stir to ensure it’s smooth and spread over the peanut butter crumb base layer. 7. Crush the maltesers and scatter over the chocolate layer. 8. Chill until completely firm (at least 3 hours). 9. Allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting into squares with a sharp knife.

Vanilla Hearts

They may be simple, but they are one of my favourite biscuits of all time. Easy to make, easy to bake and easy to eat! Dust them with sugar, fill them with jam, turn them into ‘stained glass’ cookies or flood ice them with royal icing… they work well with anything. They hold their shape beautifully during baking, which makes them perfect for almost anything.


OVEN TEMP:        150⁰C
YIELD: 25
MAIN UTENSILS: Mixing bowl, electric hand mixer, wooden spoon, baking sheet, rolling pin, cookie cutters, non-stick baking paper.

INGREDIENTS:
225g    Butter, softened                                                         
110g    Icing sugar, sifted                                            
5ml      Vanilla extract
225g    Cake Flour                                                          
110g    Custard powder              
Vanilla Castor sugar to dredge

METHOD:
1. In a bowl, cream the softened butter and sifted icing sugar until pale using an electric hand mixer.
2. Sift the flour and custard powder and work into the creamed butter mixture to form a firm dough. Add the vanilla and mix through.
4. Wrap in clingfilm and chill slightly ( or freeze at this point if you intend keeping the dough ).
5. Once chilled, remove from the fridge and knead gently until pliable. Using a rolling pin, roll out onto a lightly floured surface to about 2-3mm in thickness and then cut out shapes using shaped cookie cutters.
6. Place onto greased or non-stick paper-lined baking sheets and dock the biscuits with a fork and then chill again until firm.
7. Bake in the pre-heated oven until golden. Remove and cool just slightly.
8. Dredge with castor sugar while still slightly warm OR cool completely and flood with glace or royal icing.
9 ​Store in an airtight container.