Recipe: The easiest Pavlova!

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December is pretty stressful for all of us, so when I can simplify things I try to do just that. I write my Christmas cards in advance, do most my Christmas gift shopping online etc.

The same applied when I after a party weekend away for my dear colleague wanted to bake some cakes for her actual birthday in the office. In my head I wanted to do this lovely chocolate Pavlova, but when I came home tired after a great party and having had to deal with snow (!) in London, I lowered the bar somewhat.

And I’m so glad I did. Sometimes less really is more and all my colleagues loved this cake. I topped it with Maltesters but throw on whatever chocolate, fruit or berries you like.

Pavlova, serves 8

4 egg whites

220 g caster sugar

Topping: 

450 ml whipping cream

1 bag of Maltesers

cocoa for dusting 

Pre-heat the oven to 150C.

Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar a little at the time while beating. Once added beat until stiff peaks form and you have a glossy firm meringue (you should be able to hold the bowl upside down wihout the meringue moving). 

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Using a spatula, pour the meringue out onto the parchment paper and shape it into an even circle. 

Bake for 60 minutes. Then turn off the oven and leave the oven door ajar until the oven has cooled down. Leave to cool completely. 

Turn the cake upside down onto a cake plate and remove the parchment paper. Lightly whip the cream and spread on top of the meringue. Top with Maltesers and dust with cocoa. Serve immediately. 

 

 

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Sweet potato muffins with feta

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Savoury muffins are great as a snack in between meals or for breakfast on the go, and these lovely ones with sweet potato (the best vegetable there is according to Jamie Oliver!), spring onions, chilli and feta are absolutely delicious!

The recipe is courtesy of Jamie’s latest cookbook, but I have substituted feta for parmesan and white flour for wholemeal. Obviously, the picture above is before they went into the oven; I was so mesmerised by the smell when they were done I just dove straight in and forgot all about photographs. Sorry, but if you make them you’ll understand.

Sweet potato muffins with feta, serves 12

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe.

olive oil

600 g sweet potatoes

4 spring onions

1-2 red chillies

6 eggs

3 tbsp cottage cheese

250 g self-raising flour

1/2 packet of feta 

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. Lightly wipe each one with oiled kitchen paper. Peel the sweet potatoes and coarsely grate into a large bowl. Trim the spring onions, then finely slice with the chilli and add to the bowl, reserving half the chilli to one side. Crack in the eggs, add the cottage cheese and flour, then finely grate in most of the Parmesan and season with sea salt and black pepper. Mix until nicely combined.

Divide the muffin mixture between the cases. Add a slice of chilli to each one. Bake at the bottom of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes. They freeze well. 

 

 

Caramel tart

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I made this lovely caramel tart ages ago for the office and although the pastry case looks a bit dark (I was so worried it would taste burnt, but it didn’t) everybody loved it. Phew! it’s very easy to make, just keep an eye on the pastry in the oven.

The original recipe calls for two chocolate truffles (one white, one brown) to be piped on top, but I just decorated it with whipped cream and it worked well too.

Caramel tart, serves 8

Adapted from Erik Lallerstedt’s recipe.

Pastry::

300 ml plain flour (180 g)

100 g butter

1-2 tbsp caster sugar

1 egg yolk

Filling:

100 ml double cream 

45 g caster sugar

50 ml golden syrup

1/2 vanilla pod

3 tbsp dark brown sugar

1 tbsp orange blossom honey

100 g unsalted butter

Garnish:

whipped cream

Dark chocolate truffle:

100 g dark chocolate

150 g unsalted butter

White chocolate truffle:

100 g white chocolate

150 g unsalted butter

Make the pastry and cover a pie dish with it. Bake in 200C for 20 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool. Place all the ingredients for the caramel, apart from the butter, in a saucepan and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod, add the pod as well and remove it later. Add the butter. Leave to cool and pour into the pastry case. Place somewhere cold. 

Truffle: Break up the chocolate and melt in a bain marie with knobs of softened butter. Stir continuously until smooth. Leave to cool until good piping consistency, then pipe onto the set caramel.  

Crunchy apple cake

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Some people, like my wonderful mother, love apple pies and cakes. I actually think she could live on it alone. I, on the other hand, am a little harder to please. Raw apples – delicious. Mushy cooked ones – not so much. I want set cakes, that provide a nice contrast to the soft apples.

This cake has the Hanna seal of approval; it’s cake-y, has a nice crunchy top but is still apple-y enough for the likes of my mother. Happy days!

Crunchy apple cake, serves 8-10

3-6 apples, peeled and slices

1 tbsp caster sugar

a little (1/2 – 1 tsp) cinnamon

3 eggs

190 g caster sugar

70 g plain flour

Place the apple slices in a lined springform. Scatter with sugar and cinnamon. Beat eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy and mix in the flour. Pour into the tin. Bake for 60 minutes in 175C. Serve with lightly whipped cream. 

Pecan pie

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I made this Thanksgiving pie the year before last and lots of times before then, but haven’t found the time (in the busy period between Thanksgiving and Christmas) to blog about it. So here it is, in January, but it’s still worth making it – apart from being a Thanksgiving staple dessert it’s also a wonderful winter pie.

The recipe is courtesy of The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (the bakery’s first, and in my opinion also the best, cookbook).

Pecan pie, serves 10-12

Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

Pie crust:

260 g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

110g (unsalted) butter

Grease a 23cm pie dish. Put the flour, salt and butter in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. )

Add 1 tbsp water and beat until well-mixed. Add a second tbsp water and beat until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for an hour.

Roll out on a floured surface and line the pie dish, trimming the edges. No need to blind bake. 

Filling:

200 g caster sugar

250 ml dark corn syrup (golden syrup works well)

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

60 unsalted butter, cubed

1/4 tsp vanilla 

100 g shelled pecans + extra for decoration

Save the 10-12 nicest pecans for decoration. Chop the rest.

Preheat the oven to 170C. 

Add sugar, syrup and salt in a large saucepan and place on medium heat. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat and let cool slightly. 

Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the warm (not hot) sugar mixture and stir it in swiftly (to avoid scrambling the eggs). Add butter and vanilla and stir until the butter has melted and been incorporated. 

Place the chopped pecans in the pie case and pour in the sugar mixture. Arrange the saved pecans carefully on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a dark golden colour and slightly crunchy on top. Leave to cool and serve while it’s slightly warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

 

New York blueberry cheesecake

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The Swedish equivalent to Nigella is certainly Leila Lindholm, who despite being a properly trained chef, got famous for her domestic goddess style baking on TV. Her recipes are well-known and very good, so when I wanted to make a proper New York style cheesecake I reached for her recipe.

My colleagues (who seem to be the only ones I bake for) really enjoyed it. And although it split (because I needed the oven and couldn’t leave it in the residual heat) it still looked great! And it’s delicious! It’s not too sweet but still has a nice sweetness, nice texture and freshness from the berries.

New York blueberry cheesecake, serves 12

Base:

300 g digestive biscuits

150 g melted butter

Filling:

600g philadelphia 

250 ml fromage frais

80 g caster sugar

65 g corn flour

2 tsp vanilla

3 eggs

100 ml double cream

200 g white chocolate of good quality

150 g fresh blueberries 

Pre-heat oven to 175C. Crush the biscuits in a food processor and mix with the melted butter. Press the mixture onto the base of a springform, Ø 24 cm. Bake the base for 10 minutes. Leave to cool. 

Raise the temperature to 200C. Beat cream cheese and fromage frais in a bowl. Add sugar, corn flour and vanilla. Add one egg at the time and then the cream. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie and add to the mixture. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 40 minutes. Cover with tin foil when golden brown on top as to not brown too much. Turn off the oven and leave the cake in the residual heat for 30 minutes. Keep refrigerated. 

 

Easy raspberry and white chocolate muffins

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These not too sweet yet delicious muffins with white chocolate I made by request from a colleague for the office cakes at the end of May, and they went down very well.

The recipe was a total gamble – I googled recipes and liked the look of this one from Mumsnet and it could not be easier to make. Just mix it all in a bowl and add the chocolate and berries at the end. Perfect to whip up when pressed for time or a good recipe to bake with children.

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Easy raspberry and white chocolate muffins, makes12

From Mumsnet’s recipe.

250 g self-raising flour

100 g caster sugar

1 egg

250 ml milk

2 tsp baking powder

90 ml vegetable oil

150 g raspberries

150 g chopped white chocolate

Pre-heat the oven to 180C  and line a muffin tray with large paper cases. Place all ingredients apart from the chocolate and berries in a bowl and mix. Fold in the berries and chocolate with a spatula and divide between the cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.