Angel food cake, light as air and fat-free. It’s like eating cloud. Really sweet cloud. But surprisingly, it can be sliced and layered, filled with cream and fruit and curd without fear of collapsing. What it is basically is a butterless, fatless, egg yolk-less sponge. Airy-fairy.
Cheat's apple strudel with apple chunks and raisins wrapped in sweet tea bread dough. This is a cheat’s recipe. There’s no stretching and stretching and stretching and reading love letters through the dough involved.
Apricot upside-down butter cake. Just when I thought I've seen it all when it comes to cake batters, here comes this little number and what a lovely one it is. The texture is gorgeous, it's not hard to make and it keeps if you let it.
Baked figs can be a starter, a dessert or a full lunch or brunch dish, with a bit of nice bread. Trim them and cut a cross in each to about halfway down the fruit. Put them on a baking tray and drizzle with the oil, balsamic and honey. Bake for about 10 minutes...
White chocolate banana blondie with chunks of brazil nut toffee. Banana blondie recipe from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet recipe book.
Blood orange muffins with poppy seeds and orange syrup drizzle. These muffins could well be made with ordinary oranges but for the pleasure of handling that lovely fruit, use blood. BLOOD. Not blush. Recipe courtesy Good Food Magazine.
Brown cake - the easiest apple cake with cocoa and spices. I’ve had the recipe for so long I can’t say where it comes from, just a printout without any heading. It must have been one of my first attempts at baking, I liked it so much that one year...
Yule log, or buche de Noel made with chocolate sponge and chocolate whipped cream filling. This is DEFINITELY the best dessert on Christmas day. It rides onto the table when everyone is in deep gluttonous stupor after third helpings of turkey and just one more last spoonful of stuffing, and suddenly they perk up mumbling ‘this is a bit of all right’ and ‘I might have room for the thinnest slice more’.
Carrot cake - what a classic! Staple in every respectable old-fashioned English tea room, and in those quaint eateries that line up puddings on the counter, under the glass cloches, and the choice you get is invariably victoria sponge, cheesecake and carrot cake.
Carrot cake with a fancy twist - with oranges and pistachios, flavoured with tahini and pomegranate molasses, with cream cheese frosting. Posh carrot cake. Fancy carrot cake. Use your regular recipe 364 days a year but make THIS once for a special occasion.
Chocolate cake with apricot filling and chocolate ganache. So what’s special? It’s chocolaty all right, but it’s got a whisper of apricot jam which was made to be in a marriage with chocolate, it has dark chocolate ganache...
Chocolate loaf cake with crunchy streusel; not too sweet, not too sickly, just right. With a large mug of milky coffee it will go down a treat even at half past seven in the morning.
Chocolate whoopie pies with marshmallow frosting. The classic is chocolate but they come in other flavours: vanilla, raspberry, red velvet or pumpkin. The filling should be marshmallow (made with Marshmallow Fluff if you’re in New England), but cream cheese, buttercream or chocolate all acceptable too.
A different take on a Christmas pudding, with carrots and dates, baked instead of steamed. A cross between a carrot and date cake, a lighter sticky toffee pudding, baked not steamed, sauce still served – this is the one to try.
Dome cake made with genoise sponge filled with raspberry mousse and buttercream. A lot of faff, admittedly, but it definitely delivers the ‘wow’ factor.
Galette des rois, an elegant treat for the night of Epiphany, or any other time during the twelve days of Christmas. There are some lovely traditions associated with the galette: a ‘fève’ is hidden inside the cake - a tiny china figurine or an almond - and the lucky person to find it (and not choke on it) is crowned a king or queen for the carnival.
Gâteau Basque, the traditional butter pastry from the Basque region. The pastry is awfully rich, buttery and heavy, like a posh relative to shortcrust. Easy to put together, especially that, unlike shortcrust, it doesn’t need chilling in the fridge
Gateau Breton, Breton butter cake is unlike any other cake I’ve tried, the crunchy crust quite short and dense but not as crumbly as shortcrust. It melts in your mouth and has a lovely flavour from all those egg yolks and butter. It can be filled with jam...
This is a genoise sponge cake with mascarpone and blueberry filling. Before my last birthday (oh yes, I make my own birthday cake in this house, no respite for the wicked) I thought I’d make something restrained. Elegant.
St. Louis gooey butter cake made from scratch, with the best gooey buttery topping. The gooey butter is sold as breakfast pastry and there are two variants, fiercely defended by the respective factions. One: ready cake mix and a cream cheese topping sounds lovely and easy but the yeast base and buttery sugary goo on top appeals to me with the force of the original.
Hungarian flourless hazelnut cake with buttercream filling. This is a fantastically nice cake that incidentally happens to be flourless, just so, and anyone will completely love it, gluten-shy or not.
Island buttermilk cake: no eggs, no butter, just fresh berries and the magic ingredient - buttermilk. The cake originates from Cranberry Island Bakery in Maine which sadly is no more. Huge shame as their defunct Facebook page also shows some divine whoopies.
Lemon drizzle cake with poppy seeds. The kind of cake that can make you hum when eating it. It’s the one-slice-is-never-enough cake. It’s the how-come-there’s-none-left? kind of cake. And it’s easy, easy-peasy, even my nephew could whip it up.
Lemon butter cake, soft and spongy, made with condensed milk and flavoured with lemon zest. I love this recipe: it calls for 125g condensed milk which is about two thirds of a tin. And what with the remaining milk, you don’t want to waste it, do you? And the cake is quite nice too.
Lemon, polenta and almond cake, moist and crunchy. It’s also gluten free and while that’s incidental in my books, it could be a top asset in others’.
Lemon posset, the easiest and the loveliest dessert, served with crunchy biscuits. Posset in medieval times was a spiced, rich milky-wine concoction, served probably more often as a remedy than a dessert. They did mix their drinks in the olden days didn’t they?
Lime marble cake with lime syrup drizzle. Limes both smell and taste gorgeous. The best bit in making this cake was grating the lime zest. Well – almost the best bit. Eating it isn’t bad either.
Macarons basques - or mouchous - are different than the Parisian variety, they are both more crunchy and more chewy, no cream filling there but presented individually and looking quite rustic compared to their descendants of central France.
Mascarpone blueberry cake, rich and velvety with a tangy flavour from the blueberries. Mascarpone works lovely in this recipe; especially that it also has blueberries in the mix - both things my firm favourite.
Mini Pavlovas - individual meringues with whipped cream and fruit toppings: passion fruit, pomegranate and raspberry. Simple – and gorgeous. Any time of year. And what’s more important – small meringues are much easier to bake than a whole big Pavlova.
The best, darkest, gooey-est chocolate cake ever – so I’ve called it Morticia’s cake. A bit of effort involved, separating eggs and folding the batter carefully but the end product is pure Addams Family.
Orange macaroon cake with dessicated coconut and orange liqueur. This is a glorious cake. Just the right moisture (wet), orange flavour fantastic (no, can’t be less), and slightly chewy on account of the coconut.
Tartlets with ricotta and almond filling, topped with candied orange slices. I can’t honestly say which filling is nicer – the bonus about the ricotta one I guess that you can stick the leftovers into a buttered and floured ramekin and bake for a mini cheesecake.
King Oskar II cake - almond macaron style cake filled with buttercream. Apparently they sell them in Ikea, frozen, and tasty to boot, alongside the meatballs and pickled herring. I adore Swedes and Swedish food but detest Ikea.
Parsnip and orange cake with cinnamon and raisins. Very similar to carrot cake though not quite as moist, it’s good enough to bake at Christmas instead of the fruit cake.
Passion fruit cake with crunchy coconut crumble. Passion fruit, or maracuja, are the nicest smelling and flavoured fruit on earth. Does the flesh have to come wrapped around those crunchy pips though?
Pistachio and lime loaf cake, with apricot and honey topping. So there we have it – health in a loaf tin. Well okay – there is a bit of sugar and flour added, plus a generous amount of butter...
Cake with soft fruit and streusel topping. Don’t you just love cake recipes which say ‘throw all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well’? This is just that kind of recipe. I must have made this cake about a thousand times, varying the fruit.
A classic pound cake also known as quatre-quarts or madeira. You don’t need to frost or layer it, there are no raisins thrown into the mix, no chocolate goes near it and the only adornment should be a discreet dusting of icing sugar - or a lick of good jam.
This is a seriously good cake, quite fluffy and light. The secret is to push the fruit into the cake mix, otherwise you’ll end up looking into the oven every five minutes and deciding it’s still not cooked in the very middle – the raspberries on top are too juicy and wet!
Sponge cake roll with cream and raspberry filling. A Swiss roll, jelly roll, or cream roll – it can be filled with buttercream, mascarpone or whipped cream plus any seasonal or frozen fruit. Truth be told, it’s lovely even rolled around good jam.
Raspberry muffers are not muffins. There’s no milk, or cream or yoghurt in the ingredients. It’s an ordinary cake mix baked in muffin tins, just for the variety. And no – they aren’t cupcakes either because no icing? No pink colouring? No little roses...
Red velvet cake frosted with a cream cheese, mascarpone and whipped cream filling. It’s an excellent cake, totally suited for a birthday, layered and all, frosted and decorated – a beauty.
Sacher torte - as close as you can get to the real thing, rich in chocolate with a hint of apricot jam. This particular recipe should be trusted because it’s Austrian – from Austrian official travel site.
Sfogliatelle, Italian leafy pastry bites, with creamy ricotta filling. Lobster tails, as they are also known (easy to guess why), must be one of the nicest things that come out of Italy – and that’s of course a serious claim.
To celebrate my spiderless autumns, I make a warming autumnal dish of spiced pears with blue cheese. It makes an excellent side to pork or lamb, or a sweet-savoury dessert.
Sticky toffee pudding - date cake with delicious toffee sauce, best served warm. Let’s face it: it’s a date cake. Easy to make, nice and slightly gooey, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with baking it, leaving it dry and eating a slice or two cold.
Strawberry cake - or use the mix with any soft seasonal fruit. Very easy, melt-in-your-mouth cake. Once I got so pissed off with l’homme de ma vie that I ate six pieces at one go to make me feel better. It did. The bathroom scales the next morning didn’t though. The basic recipe is pretty much a simple pound cake...
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