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Category Archives: Fruity Bakes

Rich Raspberry and White Chocolate Brownies

Rich Raspberry and White Chocolate Brownies

Brownies, filled with love (well, raspberries and chocolate)!

I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day, but I’m not really traditionally romantic. I don’t like flowers all that much, I don’t particularly like having stuff bought for me and the idea of being ‘spoiled’ is something I can’t get my head round – after all, something that’s spoiled is a bad thing, right? The most ‘romantic’ things that have ever been done for me, gestures filled with emotion at a time when I really needed to feel loved and cherished in some way, have all been done for me by friends. I don’t think you should need a special day to show somebody that you love them, or if you do want to show somebody how much they mean to you I don’t think that person needs to be a romantic partner. I mostly show people how much they mean to me with food – cooking their favourite meal, baking something using their favourite ingredient or making dinners they can chuck in their freezer  to use when their time is needed for something more important than cooking. If you did want to show somebody how much you care, I think these brownies are a pretty good place to start.

Rich Raspberry and White Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 250g butter
  • 200g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 160g soft brown sugar
  • 65g plain flour
  • 80g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 150g raspberries
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped into chunks

Heat your oven to 180C and line a tin (approx 25x20cm) with foil (leave it hanging out of the tin a bit as you’ll be able to use it to lift the brownie out once cooled). In a medium sized saucepan, gently melt the butter until liquid but not browned. Turn off the heat and add the chopped dark chocolate, stirring until melted. Add the sugars and continue to stir until well combined. Next add the flour, sifted cocoa and baking powder and mix well so that no patches of dry ingredients remain. Crack the eggs into a mug or bowl and lightly beat them before pouring into the chocolate mix and giving the whole thing a big stir so it’s all well combined and glossy.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared tin and spread it out evenly so it’s right in the corners. Scatter the raspberries over the surface, followed by the white chocolate chunks. Use a teaspoon to sort of nudge the raspberries and chocolate into the brownie mix so that they’re nestled and smothered into the raw brownie mix. I suppose you could just add the fruit and chocolate to the brownie mix before you pour it into the tin, but by doing it this way you should avoid everything just sinking to the bottom as it cooks. Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes – the brownies are done when the top is set and firm but a skewer inserted still has a little gunge clinging to it – brownies should always have a bit of goo to them even when cooled, and the abundance of fruit in these helps them stay incredibly moist. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin, before lifting out and cutting into squares. OR you could serve them, still a little warm, with some pouring cream or ice cream as a lush dessert to end a special meal.

For a very different kind of brownie recipe click here. Or perhaps white chocolate in my blondies might tickle your fancy.

Lemon Curd and Raspberry Roulade

Lemon Curd and Raspberry Roulade

Lemon Curd and Raspberry Roulade; light, luscious, sweet and sharp

My best friend loves lemon, particularly lemon curd. For our pre-Christmas get-together I decided to make a dessert with some lemon curd; something a bit sharp and zingy to liven up the taste buds when all around is super-stodgy, rich and spicy. I decided on roulade as, though it’s filled with cream, the sweet meringue is light and fluffy inside and the perfect foil to the tart lemon and raspberries. I was incredibly pleased with how this turned out – it’s easily as good as any luxury dessert you’d get at a supermarket – it’d be a brilliant centrepiece pud for a New Year’s celebration.

If you wanted, you could use ready made lemon curd, but make sure it’s the best quality you can afford, made with real lemons, eggs and butter and not full of additives and setting agents. However, making the curd is actually quite simple, gives you a great sense of satisfaction, and there’s plenty left over for toast (or give it as a gift in a pretty jar).

Lemon Curd and Raspberry Roulade

For the lemon curd: (I followed a Nigel Slater recipe)

  • 4 lemons, preferably unwaxed
  • 200g sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 3 eggs and 1 yolk (save the spare white for your meringue)

In a heat proof bowl, over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water) combine the finely grated zest and juice of the lemons with the sugar and butter, stirring until everything has melted.

Give the eggs and extra yolk a little whisk to mix, then add to the lemon mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon or whisk frequently until the mixture thickens. It’ll feel heavier and be the consistency of custard. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for several hours or overnight (if you’re planning on giving some as gifts then put it in sterilised jam jars at this stage, whilst it’s still hot –  you’ll get a couple of small jars worth with enough left over to make the roulade)

For the meringue:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • 1 tsp cider/white wine vinegar
  • a little icing sugar for dusting

Heat the oven to 150C and grease and line a Swiss roll tin or high sided baking sheet (approx 23 x 33cm) with greaseproof paper. Now, to make your meringue it’s really important your bowl is scrupulously clean – if possible use a glass or metal bowl and wipe round the inside with the cut side of half a lemon or a paper towel with a little vinegar on; this should get rid of any grease. Put your egg whites in the bowl and whisk until you get to the stiff peaks stage. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking all the while. Sprinkle over the corn flour and vinegar and give one last short whisk until everything is combined and glossy. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared tin, smoothing into the corners with a spatula and trying to get a flat, even surface. Bake for 30–35 minutes until the surface of the meringue is just firm. Remove from the oven, let it cool for about ten minutes. Lay a sheet of greaseproof on a board and dust with icing sugar. Once the meringue has cooled a little turn it out onto the board and carefully remove the greaseproof from the base and leave to cool while you assemble the filling.

For the filling:

  • Approx 200ml lemon curd
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
  • 150g raspberries

In a large bowl, whip the cream with the icing sugar until thick – it should cling to the whisk but drop off easily if the whisk is tapped on the side of the bowl. It’s easy to over-whisk cream if you do it with an electric whisk or stand mixer so keep a close eye on it if you use a machine. It doesn’t take long to do with a balloon whisk and a few minutes whisking shouldn’t be too much work for most people. Once it’s the desired consistency, add six tablespoons of the lemon curd and mix well.

Use a spatula to smooth the cream mixture over the cooled meringue, trying to make an even layer and leaving a border of about 1 cm around the edge. Slather with the remaining lemon curd and then scatter with the raspberries. Now for the roll!

Before the big roll! Lemon Curd and Raspberry Roulade

Before the big roll! Lemon Curd and Raspberry Roulade

With the shortest end of the meringue facing you, roll it away, folding over and using the greaseproof paper to try and keep the roll compact. Once it’s fully rolled, place on a serving plate with the fold underneath. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving as this will help it firm up before you slice into it. It looks beautiful when cut, with swirls of snowy white interspersed with sunny yellow curd and ruby red raspberries. Luscious!

If you love a roulade, take a look at another recipe here, or if lemon meringue pushes all the right buttons how about some blondies or cupcakes?

Gluten-Free Chocolate Orange Christmas Pudding

Gluten-Free Chocolate Orange Christmas Pudding

Gluten-Free Chocolate Orange Christmas Pudding – the BEST Christmas pudding ever!

I’ve always loved Christmas pudding, even as a kid and this is the BEST I’ve ever had; think traditional Christmas pud crossed with a Terry’s Chocolate Orange (in a good way, naturally). Because the boozy back notes are being provided by liqueurs rather than brandy or rum, the chocolaty, fruitiness is amplified to delicious effect. If you’re not concerned about making this recipe gluten-free, you can simply use regular breadcrumbs and flour.

Making this is actually dead simple, but the cooking requires some knowledge of how to properly steam a pudding so this post is a bit longer than usual with extra pictures that will hopefully be helpful; whilst I already knew how to steam a pudding, I was banging on about making my pud over on Twitter and the friendly folk from Mason Cash sent me this video which you might find useful if you’ve never done it before.

A few things to bear in mind before embarking on making this pudding: creme de cacao isn’t the easiest liqueur to get hold of, but there are online retailers that sell it, or you could see if you can buy a couple of shots from your local cocktail bar (I got my bottle of the stuff whilst on holiday), or if you can find another chocolate liqueur (not cream based) then use that; you’ll need to be at home for eight hours while your pudding steams in order to make sure that the pan doesn’t boil dry, so plan ahead when you’re going to do this and steep your fruit the day/night before; you’ll need a 1.5 litre pudding bowl, either plastic or a heat proof glass bowl (Pyrex or similar); you’ll also need a large enough saucepan for the pudding bowl to fit in, with a little extra room so you can rest it on a trivet or jam jar (to keep the bowl off the bottom of the pan) and still get a lid on it; so yes, you also need a small metal trivet or a jam jar too; to cover your pudding bowl you’ll need greaseproof paper and foil, and some string to secure it to the bowl.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Orange Christmas Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 150g glace cherries, chopped
  • 100g dried apricots, chopped
  • 100g sultanas
  • 20g dried, mixed peel (if you happen to have it, don’t buy it especially for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp orange liqueur (I used Cointreau, but Grand Marnier or similar is fine)
  • 4 tbsp creme de cacao
  • 2 oranges
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 100g soft dark brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 75g gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 75g gluten-free plain flour
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 200g dark chocolate, chips or chopped into small chunks
  • 50g chopped almonds

The day or night before you’re going to steam your pudding, put the cherries, apricots, sultanas, peel (if using), finely grated zest and juice of both oranges and the liqueurs in a bowl. Cover and leave to soak overnight.

On the day of pudding making, put the butter and sugars in a large bowl and cream together. Then beat in the eggs, followed by the breadcrumbs, flour and remaining ingredients, mixing together until well combined. Add the boozy fruit to the bowl and give a final mix. Your raw pudding mixture is now ready for steaming.

Preparing to steam – you’ll need:

  • 1.5 litre (or larger) heat proof pudding bowl
  • a little butter or oil
  • greaseproof paper
  • tin foil
  • string
  • scissors
  • a small metal trivet or clean jam jar lid
  • large saucepan with lid

Lightly grease the inside of your pudding bowl and put a small disc of greaseproof paper in the bottom – this will help the pudding to come out of the bowl when it’s cooked.

Greaseproof paper in the pudding bowl

Greaseproof paper in the pudding bowl makes it easier to get the pudding out when cooked

Pour and scrape your pudding mixture into the bowl, smoothing it out as much as possible. Take a large sheet of greaseproof (big enough to comfortably cover the top of your pudding bowl with an over-hang all around) and a sheet of tin foil around the same size. Lay the foil over the greaseproof and make a pleat down the centre of both – this is to allow room for expansion as the pudding steams (see the video for a demonstration of how to do this). Place the paper/foil over the top of the bowl and secure tightly with the string. Trim any excess paper and foil.

Place your trivet or jam jar lid in the centre of the bottom of the saucepan – this is to keep the bowl off the bottom of the saucepan. Tear off a long strip of tin foil, long enough to go under your pudding bowl with over-hang – you’re going to use this a bit like a sling to lift the pudding out of the saucepan eventually. Fold the foil lengthways several times to make it stronger and lay it in the saucepan across the centre so it rests on top of the trivet or jam jar lid.

Saucepan prepared for pudding steaming

Saucepan prepared for pudding steaming; a jam jar lid or trivet to keep the bowl off the base of the pan and a strip of foil to lift the bowl out once the pudding is cooked

Carefully place the pudding bowl in the saucepan, on top of the lid and foil. Fold the edges of the foil sling over the top of the pudding bowl so that you’ll be able to get the lid on the saucepan. Boil a kettle full of water and pour the hot water into your saucepan so it comes to around two thirds up the pudding bowl, turn the heat on under the saucepan and put the lid on, bringing the water to a boil again.

Pudding in the saucepan

Pudding in the saucepan, boiling water in and lid on and it’s ready to steam for 8 hours!

Your pudding is now steaming! Steam for 8 hours, regularly topping up with more boiling water so that it never boils dry (aim to keep the water level between a quarter and two thirds up the bowl, not less or more – I topped up around every 45 minutes).  After the eight hours steaming are up, you can remove the pudding from the saucepan using the foil sling. Allow to cool completely before removing the greaseproof/foil lid.

To store your pudding, cover with clean, dry greaseproof or foil and secure tightly with string. Leave in a cool, dark place (it doesn’t need to be refrigerated) until you need it.

To reheat, you can: steam again, following the same instructions as before, for around three hours, or; remove it from the pudding bowl, put it in an oven proof tray, loosely covered with foil and heat in moderate oven (around 150C) for about an hour, or; remove from the pudding bowl, place on a microwavable plate, cover with cling film with a couple of holes pierced in and heat on medium, in bursts of 2-3 minutes until piping hot all the way through (don’t just whack it on high or leave it in for ages, it could burn easily as it has such a high sugar content).  However you choose to reheat it, always ensure it’s hot all the way through before serving and never reheat more than twice.

I know this sounds like hard work, but it isn’t really. The most complicated bit is the greaseproof/foil lid and that’s hardly rocket science. The rest is just being around to keep an eye on things. This pudding is so much nicer than even the most luxury of puddings we’ve had from supermarkets and I think making it yourself for such a special occasion is incredibly rewarding. But if you think it’s just a little too much work, check out some of my other Christmas recipes and give one of those a go.

The making of the Christmas Pudding!

The making of the Christmas Pudding!

Chocolate Clementine Cake

Chocolate Clementine Cake

Chocolate Clementine Cake; it’s practically health food!

I can’t take all the credit for this cake as it’s adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe for clementine cake. I made this version for my cousin’s birthday; she’s a nutritionist and the fact this cake is wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and free from added fat means you could almost convince yourself it’s healthy! As it’s made with ground almonds it stays wonderfully moist, and with the addition of cocoa it’s almost truffle-like – serve with a little cream and you’ve got yourself an excellent dessert.

Chocolate Clementine Cake

Ingredients:

375g clementines (probably 4-6 clementines depending on size)
230g ground almonds
240g caster sugar
40g cocoa, sifted
6 eggs
1 tsp baking powder

Firstly, don’t worry if your clementines are a little more or less than 375g, just don’t go cutting a bit off to make the right weight, they should be whole for the first stage. Boil the clementines for 2 hours, topping up the water as necessary to make sure they don’t boil dry. After the two hours are up, remove from the pan and allow to cool before cutting in half to remove any pips and any stalk.

Heat the oven to 190C and grease and line an 8″/21cm springform tin. If you have a food processor, chuck in all the clementines (skin  and everything) and whizz them up into a fairly smooth pulp. If you don’t have a food processor then blend or very finely chop and the fruit, trying not to lose any of the liquid, then tip it all into a large bowl. Add the rest of ingredients to the food processor or bowl and mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for about an hour, covering the top with foil after about 40 minutes to avoid burning. The top will crack, don’t worry. The cake is done when it springs back when pressed and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely whilst still in its tin on a wire rack.

Clementine, Coconut and Cranberry Bundt Cake

Clementine, Coconut and Cranberry Bundt Cake

Clementine, Coconut and Cranberry Bundt Cake – a Christmas cake alternative

It’s another one of those “National flogging stuff” days, this time National Bundt Day. I actually bought a little bundt tin the other day, so this was the perfect excuse to use it. Having never made a bundt cake, I sought out the expert musing of Dolly McGrath, who I follow on Twitter and who has a brilliant blog with loads of bundt recipes and advice. I was really pleased with how it turned out – soft and tender from the citrus and coconut with berry bursts from the cranberries – so though this was my first bundt, I doubt it’ll be my last.

This recipe is an adaptation of Dolly’s build-a-bundt, but as my tin is only little I’ve halved the quantities and added some other stuff for more flavour. For a standard sized bundt tin (10 cups/10 inches diameter/2.4 litres) double the recipe and cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Clementine, Coconut and Cranberry Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

  • 115g butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g plain flour
  • quarter tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 125ml coconut yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 clementines
  • 50g desiccated coconut (plus about a tablespoon for decoration)
  • 75g dried cranberries
  • 100g icing sugar

Heat the oven to 160C and grease and flour a small bundt tin. In a large bowl (or in a free standing mixer) cream together the butter and sugar until pale and soft. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the mix becomes fluffy and smooth. In a separate bowl mix the flour and bicarb, and in another bowl or your measuring jug mix the yogurt, vanilla and finely grated zest of two clementines and juice of one. Mix about a third of the flour with the butter and eggs, then half the liquid ingredients followed by a bit more flour, the rest of the yogurt and finally the last of the flour. Don’t over-mix, and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of your main mixing bowl to make sure you’re getting everything incorporated. Lastly, stir in the cranberries. Use a spoon or spatula to dollop the cake mixture into the prepared bundt tin and don’t fill more than 3 quarters full. Bake for 50-60 minutes. It’s done when a skewer inserted comes out clean and it’s coming away from the sides of the tin. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before carefully turning out (use oven gloves to hold the tin – it’s still hot) to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the glaze, mix the icing sugar with the juice of half a clementine. Drizzle over the bundt so it drips artfully down the sides, and sprinkle with a snowy smattering of coconut whilst the icing is still damp. Leave it to set before cutting.

The clementines and cranberries in this make me think of Christmas – I reckon this cake could be a good alternative for those who don’t like the traditional fruit Christmas cake. For other recipes that make me think of Christmas, click here.

Christmas Bundt Cake

Christmas Bundt Cake, studded with ruby cranberries and scattered with a snowy topping of coconut

Spiced Plum Cake

Spiced Plum Cake

Spiced Plum Cake – moist and loaded with seasonal fruit

I bought lots of plums at the supermarket today, thinking I’d make a crumble at the weekend. I probably still will (and the recipe will probably end up here!), but I just couldn’t stop myself making a cake this evening. Everything I bake at the moment seems to be spiced – clearly the time of year for warming flavours – whilst the seasonal plums help this cake stay deliciously moist and soft.

Spiced Plum Cake

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 75g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g self raising flour
  • half tsp baking powder
  • half tsp cinnamon
  • half tsp mixed spice
  • 5 plums

Heat the oven to 170C and grease and line an 8″ spring form cake tin with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, then add the remaining dry ingredients (if you have a stand mixer, you can make this as an all-in-one cake and just mix the whole lot together, scraping down the sides with a spatula half way through to ensure everything is well incorporated). Chop the plums into small chunks, discarding the stones, and stir through the stiff cake batter with a spatula. Scrape into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-55 minutes. The cake is done when it’s a deep, golden brown, firm to the touch and coming away from the edges of the pan. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Dust with a little icing sugar to serve.

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee Cake

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee Cake

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee Cake. Better than that there coffee giant’s latte.

Every year, around this time, I see friends on Facebook and Twitter getting all hyped up because a certain high-street coffee chain brings back their Pumpkin Spice Latte. I’ve not actually tried one myself, but I’m intrigued by the flavour combination and as I had a tin of pumpkin puree knocking about in the cupboard, so I decided to have a go at creating a cake with the same key ingredients. It didn’t taste like I expected, but I really enjoyed it – it’s lovely and moist with a surprisingly light texture. As this makes two cakes, you could either freeze one (well wrapped in greaseproof paper and then clingfilm) or make up some cream cheese buttercream and sandwich the two cakes together. Or I guess you could make half as much. I only made this much because I used the whole tin of pumpkin.

Pumpkin Spiced Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

  • 425g (1 tin) pureed pumpkin
  • 225g vegetable/sunflower oil
  • 150g yoghurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 500g light brown soft sugar
  • 450g plain flour
  • 4 tbsp espresso powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

Heat oven to 180C and grease and line two 9″ round cake tins (spring form, if you have them). In a large bowl, beat together the wet ingredients – pumpkin, oil, yoghurt and eggs – and the sugar until smooth and well incorporated. Add all the dry ingredients and mix to form a pourable batter. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for around 45 minutes; the cakes are done when they’re a rich brown colour, risen and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool in their tins on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes before carefully taking them out of the tin to cool completely. Dust with a little icing sugar, cut a big wedge and serve with your favourite brew.