Coffee & Walnut cake

Coffee & walnut cake

INGREDIENTS:

  • 250g pack softened butter, plus extra for the tins
  • 100ml strong black coffee (made with 2 tbsp coffee granules), cooled
  • 280g self-raising flour
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 85g walnuts, 2 tbsp roughly chopped, the rest finely chopped

For the filling

  • 100g icing sugar, sifted, plus a little extra for dusting
  • 150ml double cream
  • 100g mascarpone, at room temperature

METHOD:

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter 2 x 20cm round cake tins and line with baking parchment. Set aside 1 tbsp of the coffee for the filling.
  2. Beat the butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and half the remaining coffee in a large bowl with an electric whisk until lump-free. Fold in the finely chopped walnuts, then divide between the tins and roughly spread. Scatter the roughly chopped walnuts over one of the cakes. Bake the cakes for 25-30 mins until golden and risen, and a skewer poked in comes out clean. Drizzle the plain cake with the remaining coffee. Cool the cakes in the tins.
  3. Meanwhile, make the filling: beat together the icing sugar, cream and mascarpone, then fold in the reserved 2 tbsp coffee. Spread over the plain cake, then cover with the walnut-topped cake and dust with a little icing sugar.

No-bake peach and almond tartlets

Image

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 3/4 cup 35% cream
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp orange-blossom water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large ripe, firm peaches, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

METHOD:

  1. Stir crumbs with butter in a medium bowl, until mixture is moist. Line 8 cups in a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Scoop a scant 3 tbsp crumb mixture into each cup. Firmly press from centre of liner to edges and up the sides until crust is even with rim. Refrigerate until firm.
  2. Beat mascarpone with cream, honey, orange-blossom water and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high until fluffy, about 2 min. Remove muffin tin from refrigerator and fill prepared crusts with mascarpone mixture up to the rim. Smooth tops. Refrigerate for about 1 hour.
  3. Stir peaches with sugar in a small bowl. Let sit until peaches soften, about 15 to 20 min. Drain liquid and stir in almonds.
  4. Unmold tartlets onto individual dessert plates. Scoop mixture over each tartlet.

Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake

Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  • 2 cups crushed Oreo
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter

Cheesecake:

  • 3 packs cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 cups thickened cream or whipped cream, chilled
  • 4 tsp unflavoured gelatine
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 6 pcs Ferrero Rocher, roughly chopped

Toppings:

  • 4 heaping tbsp Nutella
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp confectioners sugar
  • 8 pcs Ferrero Rocher
  • Chocolate shavings

METHOD:

  1. Combine all ingredients and make sure it’s mixed well and butter is evenly spread throughout the crushed crackers, press it in a 9 in pie pan.
  2. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 10 minutes (this makes the crust more firm, but you can omit this process if you wanted to)
  3. Chill in fridge for around 20 minutes.
  4. Place softened cream cheese and sugar in a bowl together; using an electric mixer beat the cheese until thoroughly mixed and creamy.
  5. Dissolve gelatine in hot water then let it cool for a while.  Once cooled down add into the cream cheese mixture, continue to beat until mixture becomes fluffy.
  6. Now add thickened cream and chopped Ferrero then fold until it’s evenly mixed.
  7. Pour over the prepared crust.
  8. Top it with the Ferrero Rocher and chocolate shavings. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.
  9. Before serving drizzle melted Nutella on top then serve.
  10. Place Nutella, confectioners sugar and milk in a double boiler, stir until sauce becomes runny add more milk if required.

Coconut Rose Chocolate Macaroons

INGREDIENTS:

makes ~50 small macarons or 20-30 large macaroons

for macaroon shells*:

  • 200 gr powdered sugar
  • 120 gr blanched and slivered almonds
  • 20 gr unsweetened dried coconut flakes (not the sugared kind!)
  • 30 gr granulated sugar
  • 100 gr egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tspn cream of tartar
  • 1/8 tspn coconut extract
  • 1/8 tspn rose extract

METHOD:

  1. Prepare two baking sheets lined with silpats or parchment paper and a pastry bag with a large round piping tip.
  2. Combine the powdered sugar, almonds, and dried coconut flakes in a food processor and grind until a fine powder. Sift thoroughly through a fine mesh strainer and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, have ready the granulated sugar.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and the cream of tartar. Using a balloon whisk, quickly stir the mixture until the entire surface is covered with foam. Then, start whisking the egg whites, gradually adding in the granulated sugar once the egg whites are very frothy. Whisk until you reach glossy, almost-stiff peaks.
  5. Gently fold the sifted almond and powdered sugar mixture into the egg whites in two to three stages, adding the coconut and rose extracts as you go. Mix just until the ingredients are incorporated and the batter slowly re-absorbs peaks. Do not overmix!
  6. Transfer the macaroon mixture to the prepared piping bag and pipe rounds on the lined baking sheets. Tap the baking sheets on the table a few times to release air pockets.
  7. Rest the macaroons for at least 30 minutes (and up to 60), until the outside shells are no longer tacky and sticky to a light touch.
  8. Preheat oven to 145 degrees C, with the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven.
  9. Bake the macaroons in the oven, one sheet at a time, for 24-28 minutes total, rotating the sheet half-way through the baking time to insure even baking.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool.

*Note: the resting and oven temperature and times are adjusted to what works in my kitchen and oven (which, to my knowledge and according to two oven thermometers, is quite accurate). Please note that you may have to adjust according to what works in your kitchen and oven.

for coconut-rose chocolate ganache:

  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (see note below)
  • 1 Tbspn butter
  • 1 tspn rose water
  • 2 tspn corn syrup
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

METHOD:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the coconut cream, butter, rose water, and corn syrup. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Once the coconut cream mixture is simmering, remove from heat and add the chocolate. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Let cool completely, and use to fill macaroons.
  4. Once the macaroons are filled, let them “cure” in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Note: for coconut cream, skim the cream off the top of a can of coconut milk. A little bit of milk is okay.

Chocolate-covered Jam Sandwich Cookies

INGREDIENTS:
makes 20 – 24 cookies

  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • ¼ tspn salt
  • 2 cups (280 g) all purpose flour
  • 12 + 1 Tbspn butter, softened
  • ¼ cup (50 g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (28 gr) powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • jam or marmalade
  • 89 g (3 oz) dark chocolate
  • 89 g (3 oz) heavy cream

METHOD:

  1. Combine the baking powder, salt, and flour in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a mixer bowl, cream 12 Tbspn of butter for 2 – 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Gradually add the sugar and powdered sugar and continue to beat for a few minutes more.
  4. Add the egg and beat well.
  5. Add the flour mixture in three stages, mixing just until combined.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and form into a ball. Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  7. Preheat oven to 180˚ C. Prepare baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silpats.
  8. Roll out the cold dough on a lightly floured surface to a ½-inch thickness. Using a 1¾-inch cookie cutter, cut out small rounds. Reroll the leftover dough and continue to cut out cookies. Place cookies on a prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes if the dough is no longer cold.
  9. Bake each sheet for 15 minutes, rotating once half-way through the baking time. Cookies are done when the edges begin to turn golden. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  10. To assemble, spread a small amount of jam on a cookie and sandwich with another one.
  11. Finely chop the dark chocolate and place in a bowl.
  12. Combine the heavy cream and remaining 1 Tbspn of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat, and pour on top of the chocolate. Let sit for a minute, and then whisk until smooth.
  13. Dip the cookies in the chocolate ganache, shaking gently to remove the excess, and let dry on a sheet of parchment paper or silpat for at least 2 hours until the ganache has firmed up and is no longer liquid.

Peach Froyo and Basil Snickerdoodle Sandwiches

INGREDIENTS:
makes 10 – 12 three-inch sandwichesfor peach frozen yogurt:

  • 2 medium peaches, ripe
  • 3 Tbspn (38 g) + ⅔ cup (133 g) sugar
  • 1½ cups (345 g) whole milk
  • 2 Tbspn (15 g) tapioca starch
  • 4 Tbspn (57 g) cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup (134 g) light corn syrup
  • 1¾ cups (367 g) Greek yogurt

METHOD:

  1. Peel and pit the peaches. In a food processor, roughly puree the peaches, leaving very small peach bits in the puree. Measure out ¾ cup (165 g) for peach puree and stir in 3 Tbspn (38 g) of sugar. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together 3 Tbspn (43 g) of milk with the tapioca starch to make a slurry. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth. Set aside.
  4. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining (302 g) milk, (133 g) sugar, and corn syrup. Over medium heat, bring the milk mixture to a boil and let boil for 4 minutes, being very careful not to let the milk boil over.
  5. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the starch mixture.
  6. Return the saucepan to medium heat and bring to a boil. Let cook for about 1 minute, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.
  7. Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Whisk in the Greek yogurt until smooth, then stir in the peach puree.
  8. Cover the yogurt base and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions. After freezing, let firm in the freezer for at least 4 hours or overnight.

for basil snickerdoodles:

  • 3 cups (383 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tspn cream of tartar
  • 1 tspn baking soda
  • ½ tspn salt
  • 1 cup (226 g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups (300g) + 2 Tbspn (25 g) sugar
  • 14 g fresh basil leaves, very finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tspn ground cinnamon

METHOD:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Place the butter, 1½ cups (300 g) sugar, and chopped basil leaves in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add in the flour mixture, beating on low just until the flour is incorporated. Cover the dough and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, until firm.
  5. Preheat the oven to 190° C. Prepare cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicon mats.
  6. Combine the remaining 2 Tbspn (25 g) sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Using about one heaping Tbspn of dough, form a ball and roll the ball in the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  7. Place the dough balls on the cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Do not flatten.
  8. Bake each sheet of cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the baking time. 9. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to let cool briefly. After about 2 or 3 minutes, use a spatula to remove the cookies from the tray. Place the cookies on a wire rack and let cool completely.
  9. for assembly. Remove the peach frozen yogurt from the freezer and let soften briefly. Scoop a spoonful of frozen yogurt onto the bottom of a cookie and top with another, pressing gently. Freeze until firm.

Note: I highly recommend seeking out good cinnamon that packs a spicy kick for these cookies because it will make all the difference.

Rose Marzipan

INGREDIENTS:

Makes about 48 chocolates
for marzipan:

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 lb. almond paste
  • 1 1/2 Tbspn corn syrup
  • 1 Tbspn rose flavoring (available at specialty food stores; I got mine at Sur la Table)
  • 1/2 Tbspn water
  • 3-4 drops pink gel food coloring

METHOD:

  1. In a food processor, pulse confectioner’s sugar until no lumps remain.  Add the almond paste in chunks and process until combined.
  2. Add the corn syrup.  Pulse a few times until the corn syrup is incorporated.
  3. In a separate small bowl, combine rose flavoring, water, and food coloring and mix.  Add the food coloring mixture into the food processor.
  4. Process until the combination starts to come together.  Stop right before it forms a big ball.
  5. Turn out the marzipan onto a piece of plastic wrap.  Wrap tightly and store in an airtight container overnight before use.

for chocolates:

  • 1 lb. dark chocolate (I used Gittard, but any good quality dark chocolate will work), split into two half pounds
  • rose marzipan, recipe above

METHOD:
You will also need plastic chocolate molds.  available  at arts & crafts stores or online.

  1. Chop a 1/2 pound of the dark chocolate and place in a double boiler.  Melt this chocolate.  Turn off stove.
  2. Add the other 1/2 pound WHOLE, without chopping!, to the melted chocolate in the double boiler.  Stir until the chocolate is completely melted.  This is the easiest way to temper chocolate that I’ve found.  No need to mess with marble pastry boards or thermometers!  But, if you have your own method, feel free to temper the chocolate as you wish.
  3. Once the chocolate is tempered, make sure to keep it only hot enough to keep it melted.  Turn on the stove to simmer the water in the double boiler if heat is needed.
  4. Pour a teaspoon of melted chocolate into the molds one at a time. Once the chocolate is poured into one mold, use a paintbrush to spread the chocolate evenly to coat the inside of each mold.  Do not pour chocolate into all of the molds first and then spread later–your chocolate will cool!  Do this one single mold at a time.
  5. Once the molds have been coated, place them in the freezer for about five minutes.  Be careful not to leave them in for too long–the goal is only to let the chocolate set.
  6. Remove the molds from the freezer.  Break off small pieces of rose marzipan–about the size of a small cherry, and roll into a ball.  Press the marzipan into the chocolate molds, leaving a tiny bit of space at the top of each mold.
  7. Pour melted chocolate into the molds to cover the marzipan.  Jiggle each tray a few times, and tap them gently on the counter to allow the melted chocolate to settle and to release any air pockets.
  8. Return the molds to the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour.  Remove from the freezer and turn out onto a cutting board.  If needed, use a round cookie cutter to trim the excess chocolate around the candies.
  9. You should probably store the chocolates in the fridge, but since the chocolate is tempered, they will survive a bit of time outside the fridge as well, as long as it’s not too hot outside!

Strawberry Cream Layer Cake

INGREDIENTS:

For the strawberry puree:
  • 350g fresh ripe strawberries
METHOD:
  1. Wash and dry the berries. Remove the stems and place into a food processor or blender. Blend until it is as smooth as possible. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl to remove the seeds.
For the icing:
  • 250g marscarpone
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 80g strawberry puree
METHOD:
  1. Beat the marscarpone with a spoon in a medium sized bowl until smooth. Add the icing sugar and beat until combined. Add the strawberry puree in four batches, beating to combine between each addition. Put into the fridge to chill and set a bit while you make the sponges etc.
For the sponges:
  • 105g plain flour
  • 40g cornflour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 45ml cold water
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
METHOD:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Grease and line two 7″ tins (or 6″ – I used these the first time).
  3. Sift the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt together three times.  Place the yolks and water in bowl of a stand mixer and whip on high for 1 minute.
  4. Add the sugar and whip for appox 5 minutes – until the mixture is pale, fluffy and leaves a trail when the whisk is lifted out.
  5. Add the vanilla and whip for a few seconds to combine. Transfer the mixture to another bowl (unless you have two stand mixer bowls) and wash the bowl up, drying it carefully. Whip the egg whites in the mixer to stiff peaks.
  6. Place the yolk mix bowl on a damp cloth to stop it moving. With your non-dominant hand sift the flour slowly over the yolk mix, while your dominant hand folds it in, using a whisk. Use a large metal spoon to add and then fold in 1/3 of the egg whites. Finally fold in the remaining 2/3 of the whites.
  7. Quickly transfer the mixture to the two tins and put in the oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes – a skewer should come out clean from the middle of the cake and it should spring back from a touch. Immediately slide a knife around the edge of each cake so that it shrinks evenly.
  8. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then remove to the rack and peel off the paper.
For the vanilla syrup:
  • 75ml water
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla pod
METHOD:
  1. While the sponges are baking, place the water and sugar into a small saucepan. Scrape the seeds out of the pod and add both the seeds and pod to the pan. Heat over a medium heat until the sugar has fully dissolved. Leave to steep until needed.
To assemble:
  • 100ml double cream
  • 150g fresh strawberries
  • remaining strawberry puree
METHOD:
  1. Whip the double cream until it holds soft peaks. Split the cool sponges into two with a serrated knife. Cut the strawberries into thin slices of about 1/2 cm.
  2. Cover the serving plate with four strips of baking parchment and then set one sponge circle on top. Brush 1/4 of the syrup over the sponge.
  3. Spoon over about 2-3 tbsp of strawberry puree, spreading it out as you go. Spread a 1/3 of the whipped cream over the top, leaving a small space around the edge.  Arrange 1/3 of the strawberry slices over the cream in a single layer.
  4. Add the next sponge circle and press it down lightly. Repeat the syrup, puree, cream and strawberries for this circle and the next. F
  5. inally add the last layer and brush over the last 1/4 of the syrup. If you like, cut a wooden skewer to size and use as a dowel to keep everything in place. Use about 1/3 of the icing to create a crumb coat, concentrating on filling any gaps on the sides between layers.
  6. Chill for 30 minutes. Finally smooth over the rest of the icing and add any decoration – I piped whipped cream dots on the first, then wrote on the second with white chocolate.

(Serves 10-12)

Vegan Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups almond milk (or soya milk)
  • 2 tspn apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tspn vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tspn baking soda
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1/4 tspn salt

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. In a mixer bowl, combine the almond milk and vinegar with a few strokes.  Allow them to sit for a few minutes until curdled.  Then add the sugar, oil, and vanilla.  Beat until frothy.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two stages, beating thoroughly in between.  After last addition, beat until smooth but do not overmix.
  5. Fill cupcake molds (greased or with cupcake paper) until about 3/4 full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes and then remove from oven and cool for 10.

Vegan Pumpkin ‘Buttercream’

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (i.e. Earth Balance)
  • 8oz. canned pumpkin
  • nutmeg, to taste
  • cinnamon, to taste
  • clove, to taste
  • powdered ginger, to taste
  • 1 tspn vanilla
  • 3-4 cups of powdered sugar, sifted

METHOD:

  1. Sift the powdered sugar. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is in a food processor, since I go through vast amounts of the stuff.
  2. Combine shortening and margarine in a mixer bowl.  Beat until creamy.
  3. Add the pumpkin to the shortening and margarine and beat until combined.
  4. Add spices to taste and add the vanilla.  Mix.
  5. Slowly begin to mix in the powdered sugar, beating all the while, until the desired consistency is achieved.  If the buttercream gets too stiff, you can stir in a bit of almond milk.

After frosting the cupcakes, decorate as desired or with sifted cocoa powder.

 

Raspberry and Almond Layer Cake

INGREDIENTS:
For the cake:

  • 100g butter
  • 40g light brown sugar
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g plain flour
  • 20g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2-3 drops almond essence

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C.
  2. Grease two 5″ tins (or one and simply bake one after another).
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour, almonds and baking powder and beat until well combined. Add the almond essence and briefly beat in.
  4. Divide between tins and bake on a medium shelf for about 20-25 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool throughly.

To assemble:

  • 1 medium punnet fresh raspberries
  • 3 tbsp raspberry jam
  • 200ml double cream
  • few drops almond essence
  • small handful of flaked almonds

METHOD:

  1. Slice each cake into two.
  2. Place one cake on the serving plate, cut side up (reserve the nicest half for the top – the bottom half is often neater). Spoon on a tbsp of raspberry jam and spread – add more if you think you need it. Reserve a handful of the prettiest raspberries to decorate.
  3. Cover the jam with raspberries, slightly squished – you could cut them in half to make them go further and have a neater, more stable cake. Top with another cake and repeat, the another cake and repeat. Place your final cake on top. You may find it useful to use a few toothpicks as dowels to help the structure – just remember to take them out!
  4. Whip the double cream until fairly stiff, then add the almond essence. You could also add a tbsp of icing sugar if you like – I prefer mine unsweetened. Whip a bit more until it forms a good beak when you remove the whisk.
  5. Spoon about half the cream on top of the cake, then start working it down the sides with a palette knife.  Add the rest of the cream when you need it. It’s difficult to work with and doesn’t behave particularly well, but I promise it’s worth it. When you’re satisfied, top with the reserved raspberries and the handful of flaked almonds.
  6. Best eaten the day you put it together because of the cream

Dusky Caramel and Raspberry Crêpe Cake

INGREDIENTS:
For the dusky caramel:
  • 112g granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp glucose/golden syrup
  • 70 ml water
  • 140ml double cream
  • 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
  • 70ml sour cream
For the crêpes:
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 220g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 400ml milk
  • 100ml water
To assemble:
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • raspberries, to top

METHOD:

  1. To start the caramel, put the sugar, glucose/golden syrup and water together in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar as you bring it to the boil over a high heat. Meanwhile, heat the cream and salt in a small saucepan until the salt is dissolved and the cream has reached a boil, then remove and set aside. Keep going with the sugar until it reaches a deep golden brown.
  2. At this point, remove from the heat and let sit for a minute before whisking in the hot cream. Let the foam subside, then whisk in the sour cream. Leave to cool then store in a jar in the fridge until using – it firms up after a few hours.
  3. When you’re ready to start making the crepes, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Keep heating as it foams up – take off the heat when it smells delicious, the foam has subsided and there are brown flecks floating in the golden liquid. Put aside to cool.
  4. Sift the flour and salt into a big mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack an egg into it. Whisk in, slowly incorporating the flour around the well. Repeat for the other three eggs. Start adding the milk slowly, whisking well between each addition. Finally whisk in 50ml of the water, followed by the brown butter.
  5. Heat up a medium sized frying pan with a solid bottom over a high heat. When it gets really hot, turn it down to medium-high and grease with a small knob of butter. Use a ladle to pour a small amount of mixture into the pan and swirl it so you have a thin layer. Wait until it starts to brown around the edges and flip. Check the consistency of the mixture from this test crepe and add more water if needed.
  6. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, placing each done crepe onto a wire rack to cool before stacking them. You should get around 20-24 crepes.
  7. To make the creamy filling, whip the cream and sour cream together until soft peaks. Briefly whip in the icing sugar and vanilla. Reserve a pretty crepe for the top. Place one crepe on your serving plate then smear with a teaspoon of caramel, followed by a heaped tablespoon of the cream. Place another crepe on top and repeat the process until you have used all your crepes and cream. Spread the last pretty crepe with the last of the caramel.
  8. Chill for 15 minutes. Top with the raspberries, dust with icing sugar and serve.

Plum, Rosemary, and Brandy Cakes

INGREDIENTS:
makes three 4½-inch round cakes
  • 3 – 4 small plums
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • 2 Tbspn dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 200 g (1½ cups + ½ Tbspn) all-purpose flour
  • 2½ tspn baking powder
  • ½ tspn salt
  • 1½ Tbspn fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 127 g (9 Tbspn) butter, at room temperature
  • 125 g (½ cup + 2 Tbspn) sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbspn buttermilk
  • powdered sugar

METHOD:

  1. Pit the plums and cut into roughly ½-inch thick slices. Toss in a bowl with the brandy and dark brown sugar. Let the plums sit in the liquid for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 180° C. Grease and flour three 4½-inch springform round cake pans. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and chopped rosemary. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  6. Reduce speed and fold in the flour mixture in two additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Mix until incorporated, but do not overmix.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans. Use the back of the spatula to smooth the tops and spread the batter out to the sides of the pan.
  8. Strain the plum slices, reserving the brandy juice. Arrange the marinated plum slices on top of the batter.
  9. Bake the cakes for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out cleanly and the edges of the cakes are beginning to turn light brown. Remove the cakes from the oven.
  10. Immediately spoon all of the reserved brandy on top of the cakes, letting it soak in.
  11. Let the cakes cool for 10 to 15 minutes on a wire rack before unmolding from the pans.
  12. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Apple & Cinnamon Layer Cake

INGREDIENTS:
For the crisps:

  • 65g caster sugar
  • 40ml water
  • 1 firm eating apple
  • a few pinches of ground cinnamon

For the cakes:

  • 4 eggs
  • 340g plain flour
  • 2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2-3 eating apples – you need 200g grated
  • 200g coconut oil, solid
  • 340g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

For the icing:

  • 350g mascarpone
  • 40g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 130C for the crisps. Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves and it starts bubbling. Pour into a bowl to cool.
  2. Cut the apple in half, top to bottom, and remove the stalk. Use a mandolin to cut thin slices of the apple – I used my thinnest setting. Set the slices onto a parchment lined baking tray. Use a pastry brush to thinly coat the slices with some of the syrup. Sprinkle over a little cinnamon. Put the tray into the oven and bake for 30 minutes then turn the oven off and leave to cool inside. Remove from the oven and place into a sealed tin or box.

  3. To start the cakes, preheat the oven to 180C. Grease two 6″ cake tins and line the bottoms with baking parchment. Wipe a clean mixing bowl down with a piece of lemon (to remove any little bits of grease). Separate the eggs, putting the egg whites into the lemony bowl (to be whipped later) and the yolks into a cup/bowl. Sieve the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sea salt onto a plate or bowl. Peel the apples then grate them – weigh and make you have 200g (don’t add extra, it’ll throw the liquid balance off
  4. Put the coconut oil and brown sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium until fluffy and paler than before – about 4 minutes. Add the yolks one by one, beating well and scraping down in between each addition. Take off the machine and tip in the 200g of grated apple and the lemon juice. Fold together. Get your egg whites and whip them (I do this by hand because I think it’s simpler, but you could transfer the apple mix to another bowl and very throughly clean the mixer bowl and use the machine, or use a hand beater) until they hold stiff peaks (be careful not to overdo it – a spike on the end of the beater should hold upright with a little waver – it won’t be as firm as meringue).
  5. Fold half of the sieved dry ingredients into the apple mix, carefully but throughly, scraping the sides and bottom. Add half of the whipped egg whites and fold them in, followed by the rest of the flour, then the rest of the egg whites. It takes a little bit of patience but you need to get it evenly combined (no lumps of flour or big streaks of egg white) without losing too much air. Divide the mixture between the two tins, level, then form a dip in the middle.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes until domed, cracked, golden and a skewer comes out cleanly from the middle. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes then remove from the tin and leave to cool. When the oven has turned off and cooled down a little, I gave the crisps a crunch boost by leaving them in there for a few minutes.
  7. Make the icing as the cakes bake or cool. Place the mascarpone into a bowl and beat until smooth. Sieve over the icing sugar, pour in the lemon and beat again. Keep in the fridge until you need it.
  8. When the cakes are barely warm (or cold) you can start cutting – use a sharp serrated knife to cut the dome away from the top, trying to keep as flat as possible. Work out where the halfway line is on the remaining cake and carefully score all the way around with your knife, then go around cutting deeply to split the cake (this should help guide the knife so you get an even cut).
  9. Place one of the cakes onto a clean serving plate. Smooth over 1/4 of the icing, going right out and almost over the edge. Add the next layer and repeat until finished. Finally arrange the crisps on top. Best immediately, keeps assembled for a day in the fridge (will be quite different to fresh), plain cake for 3-4 days in a tin.

Raspberry Mocha Dobos Tortelettes

INGREDIENTS:
makes four 6-layer, 2″ cakelettes

for cake layers:

  • 7 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 lb (456 gr | 3.5 cups) powdered sugar
  • 3 1/3 oz. (94 gr | 3/4 cups) AP flour
  • 1/2 Tbspn lemon juice
  • 1 tspn instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 Tbspn vanilla extract
  • salt

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 230 degrees C. Line two half-sheet (12×17″) pans with parchment paper, and grease and flour the parchment.
  2. Separate the eggs. Weigh the egg whites and the egg yolks, including the three extra yolks, and divide each in half.  You will be making two cake layers, repeating the recipe steps twice with half of the ingredients each time.
  3. Place half of the total egg yolks in a mixer bowl with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high until light. Reduce speed and gradually add 1/2 lb. of the powdered sugar. Return to high and continue to whisk until thick and glossy. Reduce speed again and gradually add half of the flour. Return to high; whisk for five minutes more.  Stir in the lemon juice.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine half of the total egg whites with a pinch of salt. Beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.
  5. Stir 1/4 of the whipped egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten the batter. Then, fold in the remainder of the whipped whites. Do not overmix!
  6. Spread the batter onto one of the prepared pans and bake for 5-7 minutes until golden brown on top with some darker spots. Remove from the oven and pan, and invert onto a greased wire rack. Let cool completely. When cool, use a 2″ cookie cutter and cut out twelve cake circles.
  7. To make the mocha layers, repeat steps with remaining ingredients. Add the instant espresso powder in with the flour, and substitute the vanilla extract for the lemon juice.

or frosting:

  • 1/2 lb (227 gr) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 lb (226 gr | 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbspn powdered sugar

METHOD:

  1. Melt the chocolate and let cool until room temperature.
  2. Beat the butter until soft and creamy. Mix in the vanilla extract, egg yolks, powdered sugar, and cooled chocolate. Beat until smooth.
  3. Stack the cake rounds with thin layers of frosting, alternating between the mocha and plain cake flavors. Cover the cakes with a thin crumb coat and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Cover with the remaining frosting and top with fresh raspberries.

Warning:  Please be advised that this cake does have raw eggs in the frosting.  Make sure to use fresh eggs from a source that you trust.

Meyer Lemon-Lavender Pound Cake

INGREDIENTS:

makes 2 loaves

  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 Tbspn fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbspn vanilla
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tspn baking powder
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 2 Tbspn freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup dried lavender flowers

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Butter and flour the sides and bottoms of two loaf pans.  Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine milk, eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Whisk until combined.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and freshly grated lemon zest.  Mix to combine.
  4. Add the softened butter to the flour mixture.  Cream for 2-3 minutes until fluffy.
  5. Gradually add the milk mixture in 2-3 parts, mixing thoroughly for about 30 seconds to 1 minute before each addition.
  6. Mix in lavender flowers until evenly distributed through the batter.  Be careful not to overmix.
  7. Divide the batter into the two prepared loaf pans.
  8. Bake in oven for ~30-35 minutes.  When the tops are about to crack, score the tops in one line with a sharp, oiled knife to create an even crack.  Then, place an oiled piece of foil on top of the cakes, oil side down.  Continue to bake for 25-30 minutes (for a total baking time of ~55-60 minutes).
  9. When a toothpick removed from the center of the cake comes out clean, the cakes are done.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes on a rack before turning the cakes out.  Let cool completely.

for glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • sliced almonds, optional

METHOD:

  1. Mix together the powdered sugar and the lemon juice.
  2. Add in the lemon zest.  Mix until combined.
  3. Pour the glaze over the pound cakes.
  4. Immediately top with a sprinkling of sliced almonds, if using.  Let dry.

Lemon Speculoos Layer Cake with Chocolate Sprinkles

INGREDIENTS:
makes one 6-inch, 3 layer cake

for lemon cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups + 2 Tbspn (192.5 gr) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1/8 tspn salt
  • 1 stick (8 Tbspn) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 gr) sugar
  • 1 tspn fresh lemon zest
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbspn whole milk
  • 2 Tbspn freshly squeezed lemon juice

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour three 6 x 2 inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment rounds and grease again. If desired, line the cake pans with bake-even strips. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a mixer bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on medium.
  4. Add the eggs to the creamed butter one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add the flour in three additions, alternating each with milk and lemon juice.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes come out cleanly. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before turning out of the pans and cooling completely.

for speculoos frosting:

  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbpsn) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup speculoos spread
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, cold
  • dark chocolate sprinkles

METHOD:

  1. Beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the speculoos spread and beat until well-combined.
  3. Gradually beat in the sifted powdered sugar.
  4. Gradually add small chunks of the cold cream cheese, beating well after each addition.
  5. Frost cake, adding chocolate sprinkles between each layer and on top.