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.
Banana cake with raisins and honey glaze. Not sure why some call it banana ‘bread’ – it’s cake all right, sweet and raisiny, and just to make double certain no one will cut a slice of it for a ham and cheese sarnie, I’ve glazed it with sticky honey and cream topping.
Banana muffins with dried mango and pineapple chunks. This is a good cake mix – the best, the banana cake. I honestly can’t recall where the recipe comes from.
Blood orange and olive oil cake with zest and chunks of orange in the mix. If you’d like to ice it, beat juice of half a blood orange into 80g icing sugar until smooth. Pour over the top of the cake and spread with a palette knife.
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.
Blueberry Victoria sponge cake, with layers of lightly roasted blueberries and whipped cream. Sponge cake, as the name cleverly suggests, is supposed to soak up the filling/syrup/drizzle/jam/cream.
Blueberry buckle cake with wholemeal flour and quinoa and oats topping. That of course refers to the way the topping buckles on top of the fruit in a wavy manner. Very descriptive. I think I’ll adopt it now, especially that the blueberry kind is the most common buckle and that is my firm favourite.
Sweet focaccia-style tea bread topped with blueberries and crumble. Ordinarily, thinking focaccia will bring to mind an image of flat, thin bread decorated sparsely with whatever, preferably savoury, preferably olives.
Blueberry flavoured frozen yoghurt, made without ice cream maker. And yes, you can make very good one at home. Here’s how.
Blueberry muffins. The best. The easiest. By all means use frozen berries in the bleak mid-winter. Better that than paying extortionate price of bluebs imported from Darkest Peru. And frozen ones are very well-behaved: they stir nicely into the mix, don’t go mushy like raspberries and retain their shapes.
Blueberry parfait with strained yoghurt and lightly roasted blueberries. My blueberry parfait is uncertain what it wants to be: for some it will be breakfast and others will insist it’s only fit for after dinner
Blueberry poppy seed cake, easier to make than a pie and delicious warm or cold. It is a pie of sorts or a tart, or flan, with the filling surrounded by a golden brown crust.
Blueberry upside down polenta cake. Polenta cake batter is so nice because of its crunch. And let's be honest: since anything with blueberries is gorgeous, so is this and I shouldn't have doubted it for a second.
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...
The ultimate brownie - the best you've ever eaten, with milk and white chocolate chunks, just to be extra indulgent. I do understand chocoholics and this is specially for them. Good old fashioned brownie. Hits the right spot without fail.
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’.
Striped pattern berry cake with buckwheat and almond flour. This is lovely, the sooner served after leaving the oven, the better, as with time the berries start to leach juice a bit and the thing looks much messier.
Light and moist scones with buttermilk and raisin, cut into triangles. You can replace buttermilk with yoghurt – but I’d strongly encourage giving a go as it makes for a nice crust and very moist crumb. These are a bit more cakey than the ordinary scones.
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 cupcakes with orange buttercream frosting. Best cupcakes ever – adopted for Halloween because carrot cake mix is a/ comforting, b/ easy to make with kids...
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.
Cherry and marzipan cake: a simple buttermilk cake batter with glace cherries and a layer of homemade marzipan. Result: stunning. Just try. And don’t you DARE use shop bought marzipan!
Sweet triple cherry buns - with jam, dried and glace cherries. The dough is gorgeous. My grandmother used to make this type of dough, stretch it, focaccia style, into the bottom of a large baking tray, then put fresh soft fruit on top and cover the lot in crumble.
Braided chocolate brioche, not too sweet and perfect for breakfast. The braided bread is quite a challenge for me, the messy baker. I’m absolutely no good at tidy shaping. My challahs invariably have one end thicker than the other. Spacing of cookies suffers in giant quadruples melded together. And I am a lousy cake decorator
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...
Biscuits with milk and white chocolate chip chunks. These are very nice biscuits – Dan Lepard’s recipe from Baking with Passion – but cookies they ain’t. A bit too austere, not quite the whacking amount of sugars as in the classic cookies, a bit too much flour and they don’t spread.
Chocolate covered and jam filled gingerbread cookies. Lebkuchen are rather indulgent spiced honey cookies and I’ve taken the indulgence to the next level here – by filling them with jam and dipping them in chocolate.
Crack or crinkle cookies, deliciously soft and chocolatey, wrapped in cracked icing sugar coating. These biscuits are fairly easy to make, although the eggs need to be beaten to almost a genoise volume.
Chocolate genoise cake with layer of raspberry buttercream and whipped chocolate ganache frosting. I can wholeheartedly recommend that combination for a birthday or a non-birthday cake. It can be prepared in stages.
Double chocolate muffins, wonderfully gooey in the centre and a doddle to make. These little things will surely be firm favourites with whoever you make them for, builders or not. Incredibly easy to make it must be said - you needn’t even take care not to overmix like usually with muffins.
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.
Christmas Stollen with homemade marzipan. Stollen tastes absolutely divine when still warm from the oven but it keeps surprisingly well, better than panettone, admittedly not as light and fluffy.
Easy sour cream cake with a cinnamon swirl. I set out to make the cinnamon marble cake and recalled an abysmally failed marbling from a couple of years back – a massive clump of white batter was sitting on top of the dark, or the other way round.
Soft cookies made with condensed milk, with added chocolate chips and cranberries. These things are truly disgustingly nice (there should be a Disgustingly Nice category on Fiend, don’t you think?), unbelievably easy to make and keep, if you let them.
Croquants aux amandes, French almond cookies. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure if these cookies should be crunchy or gooey. ‘Croquant’ suggests the former, meaning precisely that, but I found the ones baked a bit less nicer.
Crunchy, melting in the mouth biscuits, a bit like Fox’s Crunch and Creams only better. Crunchy is good when it melts in your mouth and tastes of butter and sugar - which is basically what the biscuit is made of.
Shortbread bars with date, orange and cinnamon filling. Sadly - this won't be about All Bar One, speed dating or trendy wine places. Shame, I know, but then I don't know much about speed dating, in fact haven't dated much at all recently.
Dome cake made with genoise sponge filled with raspberry mousse and buttercream. A lot of faff, admittedly, but it definitely delivers the ‘wow’ factor.
Christmas fruit cake - lighter in colour and in taste but still rich and full of raisins, berries, apricots, figs and almonds. It keeps very well but needn’t be made weeks ahead of Christmas – tastes best when it had been standing for a couple of days.
Fruity, nut free mince pies made from scratch: the best shortcrust pastry and delicious fruit filling. I never used to like mince pies until I made them at home. The fact is that all shop-bought pies, even the posh, fancy, Hestonised and overpriced numbers taste mainly of too much orange peel and too much booze. As much as I’m the last person to complain about too much booze, I like to keep it separate from cakes. And orange peel is usually nasty, unless you make it yourself (I don’t) or spend quite a bit more money than even Waitrose Cook’s Ingredients charge.
Scones are tricky. Scones are a thing of beauty if you get them right. I have had several goes at them before Dan Lepard came to rescue with his recipe from Short & Sweet – The Best of Home Baking.
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.
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