Baked apples with dates, honey & spices served with vanilla custard

Baked apples


Serves 4

4 cooking apples
2 tbsp honey
100g/4 dried pitted dates, finely chopped
2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tspnutmeg
80g/5 tbsp butter, melted
For the custard
400ml/1¾ cups milk
1 vanilla pod/bean
3 egg yolks
1 tspcornflour/cornstarch
30g/2 tbsp caster/superfine sugar


1.    Pre-heat the oven to 180oC/Gas Mark 4. 

2.    Remove the cores of the apples with an apple corer. With a spoon enlarge the size of the cavity by double. 

3.    Place the honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, dates, and melted butter in a small bowl and whisk together. Then pour the thick liquid into the cores of each apple. 

4.    Pierce each apple with 4 cloves around the diameter of the apples. Place in to the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. 

5.    While the apples are baking, make the custard. Heat the milk with the vanilla pod until just boiling. Mix together the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour to get a smooth paste.

6.    Pour over the milk and stir well. Remove the vanilla pod to re-use in another recipe. Strain the mixture back into a clean saucepan and, stirring constantly, cook gently until the custard thickens.

7.    Pour the custard over the apples just before you serve. 



Panna Cotta and roasted peaches

Serves 4

4 moulds, 200 ml (7 fl oz) in size or Martini Glasses, or similar 


For the panna cotta 

250ml double cream

1 vanilla pod/bean, split lengthways 

3 gelatine sheets/leaves

20g/2 tablespoons sugar

250ml/1 cup milk

For the peaches 

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons Marsala wine

1 tablespoons maple syrup

2 sprigs of  rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped 

4 firm, ripe peaches, halved and pitted


1.    For the panna cotta: Pour the cream into a saucepan; add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil, then simmer until reduced by one-third. Remove the vanilla pod and scrape the softened insides into the cream.

2.    Soak the gelatine in the milk for about 15 minutes or until soft. Remove the gelatine, heat the milk until boiling, then return the gelatine to the milk and stir until dissolved. Pour the milk and gelatine mixture into the hot cream through a sieve, stir, then leave to cool.

3.    For the peaches, preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. In a large shallow baking dish, combine the butter, Marsala wine, maple syrup and rosemary. Add the peaches and turn to coat with the butter mixture. Arrange cut side down in a single layer.

4.    Roast until the peaches are tender and cooking liquid is syrupy, 15-20 minutes, brushing with cooking liquid halfway through. 

5.    Turn out your panna cotta on to dessert plates and serve with the warm peaches on top. Drizzle the syrup over and garnish with a small rosemary sprig. 


All American Berry Trifle

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Serves 8 


450g/3 cups of fresh blueberries 

375g/3 cups of fresh raspberries 

75g/2 ½oz  caster/superfine sugar

3 tablespoons crème de cassis (optional)

300g/7oz madeira/pound cake, sliced

400ml/1 cup mascarpone cheese

500ml/2 cups tub custard

1 tbsp vanilla extract

300ml/1 cup heavy cream, softly whipped



1.        Place 2/3 of each of the berries and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat and simmer for 2 minutes, then pour in the crème cassis and set aside to cool. 

2.      Place a layer of the cake at the bottom of a large trifle bowl, and spoon the berry mix on top.

3.      In a mixing bowl whisk together the mascarpone, vanilla extract and custard until smooth but make sure it doesn’t get to runny, you want it to remain slightly thick. Spoon on top of the cake and berries, followed by the softly whipped cream. 

4.      Chill for a couple of hours in a fridge and just before you serve decorate the top of the trifle with the reaming blueberries and raspberries. 

Raspberry & Rosewater Pavlova

Raspberry & Rosewater Pavlova

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Makes 1 Pavlova



For the Pavlova:

9 egg whites 

500g/2½ cups caster sugar

2 tsps cornstarch

1 tsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp rosewater

For the filling:

500ml/2 cups whipping cream

1 tbsp icing/confectioners’ sugar

1 tbsp rosewater 

200g/1¼ cups fresh raspberries



1.    Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

2.    Use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until firm peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly until mixture is thick and glossy and the sugar completely dissolves. Add the cornstarch, vinegar and rosewater and gently fold until just combined. 

3.    Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking tray in a circle shape and use the back of a wooden spoon to shape the meringue into a nest. Place the meringue in the pre-heated oven and turn the heat down to 140°C and bake for 1.5hrs. Once the meringue is baked, turn off the heat, open the oven door and allow it to cool completely. 

When the meringue is cooled and ready to serve you can start assembling the filling. You don’t want to add the cream too far in advance as it will soak into the meringue. Gently whip the cream until it thickens and then whisk in icing sugar. Fold in the rosewater and then spoon the filling into the centre of the meringue. Add the fresh raspberries on top.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake


225g/8oz butter, softened 

225g/8oz caster sugar

4 eggs

4 tbsp milk

275g/9½oz self-raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 lemons, grated zest only 

Juice of one lemon ½

For the lemon drizzle

175g/6oz icing sugar

2 lemons juice only 

Garnish with the zest of one lemon 


1.   Pre-heat the oven to 180oC/Gas mark 4. Grease a 20-22cm round cake tin and line the base with parchment paper. 

2.   Place the butter in a large mixing bowl with the sugar and beat together with a whisk until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the milk. Next fold in the flour, baking powder and lemon zest. 

3.   Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin, scraping the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula to remove all of the mixture. Level the top gently with the back of the spatula. 

4.   Bake in the middle of the oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until the sponge is lightly golden brown. Check by inserting a skewer into the center of the cake, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked. 

5.   While the cake is still hot and in the tin prick it with a skewer and pour over the lemon juice. Leave the cake in the tin to cool. 

6.    Make the drizzle. Whisk the lemon juice and icing sugar in a bowl until it forms a smooth paste. Remove the cake from the tin and smooth the lemon drizzle over the cake. Garnish with lemon zest. 

Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom frosting

Carrot Cake with Orange Blossom frosting


Makes 1 Cake (10 portions) 


3 eggs 

140ml/5floz vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing 

220/7oz light brown sugar 

1 tsp ground cinnamon 

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 

350g/12oz grated carrots, (grated weight) 

100g/3½ oz golden raisins 

100g/3½ oz walnuts, chopped 

200g/7oz self-raising flour 

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda 

For the orange blossom frosting 

300g/10½ oz cream cheese, chilled 

70g/2½ oz butter, at room temperature 

300g/10½ oz icing sugar, sifted 

1 orange, zest only 

2 teaspoons of orange blossom water 


1.          Preheat the oven to 180°C and oil and line a 13 x 23cm loaf tin with greaseproof paper.

2.        For the carrot cake: beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, grated carrot, raisins and chopped walnuts. 

3.        Sift in the rest of the dry ingredients and bring the mixture together using a wooden or large metal spoon until well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, smooth the surface and bake in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. If you’re using a ceramic baking dish then you’ll need to add 15 minutes to the cooking time. 

4.       Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin for about five minutes before removing. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving. 

5.        For the orange blossom frosting: beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl until well combined. Add the icing sugar, orange blossom water and finely grated orange zest and mix until the frosting is smooth and thick. Using a palette knife, spread the frosting evenly over the cooled cake, dipping the knife into a bowl of hot water if the icing is hard to spread out. 

6.       Decorate with orange zest on top of the frosting.

Rhubarb & Ginger Upside-Down Cake

Rhubarb & Ginger Upside-Down Cake

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I adore Rhubarb and Ginger and this is a harmonious cake perfect with a big dollop of creme fraiche and a cup of tea.

 Makes 1 Cake


40g/1½ oz unsalted butter
200g/7 oz soft brown sugar
2 tbsp crystallised ginger, finely chopped
350g/12 oz rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces
200g/7 oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
200ml/7 fl oz buttermilk
2 medium eggs
100ml/3 fl oz vegetable oil


1.     Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2.   Melt the butter in a 24cm ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. Stir in half the sugar and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add in one third of the crystallized ginger. Remove from the heat and add the sliced rhubarb, enough to cover the bottom of the pan.
3.    Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a bowl
4.   In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining sugar with the buttermilk, eggs, oil and the rest of the crystallized ginger. Fold in the flour mixture and mix well. Pour over the rhubarb and smooth the surface.
5.    Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed in the centre. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes then invert on to a serving plate. Serve with crème fraiche.