Churros with Chocolate

To be honest, the cream’s a bit much.  But apart from that, lovely!  So, first make the chocolate sauce:

Put 200g dark chocolate (broken into pieces), 100ml double cream, 100ml whole milk and 3 tablespoons of golden syrup into a pan.  Warm gently until all of the ingredients have melted, then pour the sauce into smallish cups and leave it to cool.

Meanwhile, make the churros.  Put 250ml water, 120g butter and a pinch of salt into a medium-sized pan.  Bring to the boil, then whisk in 130g strong white bread flour, half a teaspoon of baking powder and a few drops of vanilla essence.  It will become unfeasibly thick but try to keep beating it over a low heat for a few more seconds.  Take the pan off the heat and beat in an egg, and then a second egg.  It should look a bit less worrying now.  Cover the mixture and leave at room temperature for 15 minutes to a couple of hours.

When you are ready to cook, put sunflower oil into a large frying pan.  It should be 2-3cm deep.  Heat it to maximum.  Put the churros mix into a large piping bag with a star nozzle.  When the oil is very hot, squeeze in lots of chipolata-sized churros, snipping or cutting them each time from the nozzle.  Be careful!  Turn them after a couple of minutes to cook the other side.  Place a large colander over an even larger pan.  With a slotted spoon, fish out the churros and place them into the colander as they turn golden-brown.  Once you have them all in there, shake the colander carefully to remove the oil, then sprinkle over some golden caster sugar and give them another shake.



Apple and Almond Cake


This cake is wet rather than moist, almost mousse-like.  Provided that you usually have some stewed apple hiding in your freezer, this is a very quick cake to make.  The apples should be stewed with a little sugar and some lemon juice, so that they are still quite tart; if they are too sweet, just add some extra lemon juice to the mix.  As Nigella says, this cake tastes buttery even though there is no butter in it.

Adapted very slightly from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Feast.’ (Damp Apple and Almond Cake)

Grease and line a 25cm springform tin.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

In a biggish food processor, whoosh together 300g stewed apples, 325g ground almonds, 275g golden caster sugar, 8 large eggs, the juice and zest of 2 lemons (less if your apples are very tart) and a good grinding of nutmeg.  Scrape down the sides and whoosh again until smooth.  The mixture should be quite runny.

Bake for 35-45 minutes until the wobble has subsided and the cake is well-risen and golden.  It will sink again to horizontal as it cools.

Serve with a dusting of icing sugar.

Peach and Lime Cheesecake


I know that you can get baked cheesecakes everywhere now, but I didn’t have my first one until I was sixteen, when I bought a slice from a small bakery in Eichstätt on a snowy morning and ate it straight from the paper bag.  It was a very messy business, but totally magical.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and prepare a 20cm springform tin by putting tinfoil over the base, popping over the ring, then pulling the tinfoil up the outside of the tin.  Sit the tin on top of a second bigger piece of tinfoil and pull it up so that it covers the whole of the outside of the tin.

Fill and boil your kettle.

Whoosh up 200g of digestives (or any other dry biscuits) in the processor.  Add 80g soft (but not necessarily melted) butter and process until it feels like wet sand.  Press evenly over the base of your tin.  Place the tin in the fridge while you make the filling.

Quarter and roughly peel a juicy, soft peach and pop it in your already cleaned processor with the juice of two limes.  Give it a really good blast, then add 150g sugar and whoosh again.

Now add 600g cream cheese (I used 400g Philadelphia and 200g mascarpone) and process until smooth, pushing down the mixture from the edges to ensure a good mix.  Now add 4 whole eggs and one egg yolk and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Whoosh again for about 20 seconds, again pushing down the mixture from the edges halfway through.

Pour this into your springform tin.

Optional:  If you’d like a little zingy raspberry hit, take a tablespoon of raspberries and the juice of half a lime or lemon and process for a few seconds before swirling through your cheesecake.  It won’t look tidy and impressive as it does in the shops, though, so don’t be disappointed.

Put the tin into a large roasting tray and surround it with some boiling water.  Don’t make it so deep that it’s lethally turbulent as you transfer it to the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes, then check and turn 180 degrees.  I like it to brown a little, but if it’s going too far, cover with a very clean baking tray or tinfoil for a further 20 – 30 minutes.  When there’s still a tiny wobble, take it out of the oven, out of the bain marie and leave it to cool.  It will be much nicer on Day Two, so leave it be if you can.

Serve with roasted peaches (done in the same way as the nectarines:




Mum’s Apple Pie


I love Mum’s apple pie.  There’s nothing fancy about it.  It’s just delicious.

You need 3-4 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced.  Put them in a pan and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon.  Sprinkle over some sugar, normally about 2 tablespoons, and 2 tablespoons of water.  Stew until the apple is soft but not mushy.  Allow to cool.

With your fingertips, nip together 8.5 oz of self-raising flour with 5 oz butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Carefully add just enough cold water for it to bind together without becoming sticky.  As soon as it comes together, pop it into a plastic bag in the fridge for half an hour.

Take a 7-8″ pie tin.  Cut your pastry in half and roll out on a floured surface the first of your circles.  Place on the bottom of your tin.  Dot around the edge with water, egg or milk.  This is your glue.  Now pour in the apples.  Roll out your lid and place on top, gently pressing the edges to seal.  Trim the edges, pop a couple of small slits in the top with a sharp knife, brush all over the top with a little egg or milk, then place in the oven (190 degrees) for about 25-30 minutes.  As soon as it comes out, sprinkle with some sugar.



Raspberry Pavlova


My mum makes the best pavlova in the world.  I asked her to send me a photo of the latest one for the blog and she sent me this.  I was a bit disappointed, even though it’s a great photo, saying that I would have loved a cross-sectional photo of one piece, showing the chewy meringue merging with the soft cream.  She said, “Hard luck!  We’ve eaten it already.”  Anyway, here’s the recipe:

4 egg whites
9oz caster sugar
1 rounded dessertspoon cornflour
Whisk egg whites until really stiff (turn upside down in bowl and it doesn’t move).
Add half of the sugar and whisk again until stiff.
Add the remainder of sugar and cornflour and whisk.
Cover the baking tin with either tin foil or baking parchment and arrange on the tin bringing it up at sides. Put in oven (temperature 150 degrees) for one hour, then switch off the oven, leaving the meringue in there for a further hour.  If you see it turning brown turn the oven down as all ovens vary in temperature.  Leave to cool completely.
Whisk double cream to soft peaks and put on top of pavlova and decorate with either raspberries, strawberries or mixture of fruits and a little grated chocolate.