Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas Tart

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without mincemeat, and mincemeat tends to get used only in mince pies.  What a waste!  This is a lovely mincemeat and apple tart, which, served with lashings of proper custard, would definitely keep out the cold and add a touch of festive cheer.   It freezes well, and is best served hot, as the brandy in the (home made) mincemeat smells simply amazing....   If you make it using spread instead of butter, and glaze it with egg yolk it becomes dairy free.   Happy Christmas!

Christmas Tart with Apple and Mincemeat

Christmas Tart

8oz/220g plain flour
2 tbsp icing sugar
4oz/110g butter/baking spread
1 egg
cold water

6oz/170g prepared cooking apples (peeled, cored and chopped)
brown sugar to taste
good slug of brandy
1tbsp lemon juice
a jar of home made mincemeat
milk to glaze

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C, and make up the pastry by hand or in a processor.   Roll it out thinly and line a 9” loose bottom flan tin.  Keep the trimmings.   Chill the pastry before baking it blind.  (If you don’t bake it blind, preheat a baking sheet and put the tart onto it to prevent a soggy bottom)  

Put the chopped apples into a pan, adding lemon juice and a good slug of brandy.  Then add sugar to taste.  Simmer gently until the apples have broken down, but not become a total purée.  

Pour the apple mix into the tart case, spreading evenly.  Top with an even layer of mincemeat (not too thick!).   Roll out the pastry trimmings and cut into lines to make a lattice (if you don’t have enough, cut the trimmings into little stars and shapes).    Decorate the tart.  Brush the pastry with milk to glaze it.   Bake until the top pastry is browning, and the mincemeat is bubbling.  

Serve hot or cold, dusted with icing sugar, plus real home made custard.   No cheating!

Egg Custard

This quantity makes half a pint (approx 300ml)

2 egg yolks
1oz/25g caster sugar
10floz/300ml  double cream mixed with milk (the richer, the richer the result)
½ tsp cornflour
vanilla – either a few drops of liquid, or some of the paste inside a pod

Mix the yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla, using a small whisk.   In a milk pan (preferably non-stick), warm the cream/milk to blood heat.  Pour this mixture onto the yolk mix, whisking gently until it is all incorporated.  Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and heat it.  Change over to a wooden spoon, and stir the custard lovingly until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon.  If it splits and goes grainy, pour instantly into a cold bowl, add more cream/milk, and whisk hard.   You may be lucky! 

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Little Star-topped Mince Pies

Mince pies can be a disaster - from inhaling too much flaky pastry and coughing, to finding a soggy lump of bought mincemeat in a solid case.... I could go on!   Personally, I prefer to make tiny little bite-sized pies, with stars on the top, as it reduces the pastry/filling ratio and they look so pretty!    Top tip - to avoid oval ones, don't drag the cutter when you are cutting out the pastry.    Mince pies are always welcome at Christmas, and keep well in a tin - make a batch now, and they'll be gone before you know it, but remember to keep a few for Santa!

Mince Pies

Little Star-Topped Mince Pies

Sweet Shortcrust pastry:
4oz/150g plain flour
3oz/75g butter
1 egg (for richness, you can leave this out)
1 tbsp icing sugar
cold water to mix

home made mincemeat – 1 good sized jar (if you are using bought mincemeat, add a slug of alcohol and some grated lemon and orange rind)

milk to glaze
icing sugar to dust

2 or 3 mini tartlet tins, 12 in each. 

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.   Make the pastry either by hand or in a food processor.  Line the tartlet tins, re-rolling and cutting the scraps into little stars for the tops.   Allow the pastry to rest for about 5 minutes.  The tartlets are so small you don’t need to prick the bases. 

Fill each little tartlet so it has an attractive heap of mincemeat.  Top with a little star.  Brush with milk or beaten egg to glaze. 

Cook until the pastry is just browning and the mincemeat bubbling.    Serve hot or warm dusted with icing sugar.  Should make about 24 or so.   

My cookbook can still be ordered in time for Christmas via the website

Friday, 13 December 2013

Christmas Pavlova

Pavlova any time is delicious, but Christmas Pavlova is extra-special!   This has sherry in the cream, and is topped with bright jewel-coloured fruits and caramelised walnuts - perfect for Christmas.  I've chosen to use brown sugar in the meringue, so it has a darker flavour, and is slightly more chewy than the usual crispness you associate with Pavlova.    Perfect for those left-over egg whites!   You can either do one large pudding, or several individual ones (pictured below), which look so pretty on the plate.

Christmas Pavlova

Christmas Pavlova

3 egg whites
6oz/150g light brown soft sugar
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla 

At least half pint double cream, whipped with 2 tbsp sherry
2 or 3 clementines
1 pomegranate
1oz/25g walnut halves
1oz/25g butter
1oz/25g soft brown sugar

Oven - 150 deg C, turning down to 140 deg C when it goes in
Use a flat baking tray with a sheet of silicone parchment.   Whisk egg whites until thick, add sugar slowly, whisking all the while.  Finally add the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla.    Spread onto the baking sheet in a circle roughly the size of a plate, or small circles for individual Pavlovas.    Bake for about an hour, then turn off the oven and leave the Pavlova inside.    It should be dry.  Sometimes I turn it over and put it back in for a bit longer.  

Peel off the paper, put onto a large plate/individual plates, and then get decorating.  

Whip the cream with the sherry, and put a good layer on the top of the pavlova.   Fry the butter and sugar together for a moment or two so the butter is bubbling through and the sugar started to melt, and gently caramelise the walnuts.   Peel the clementines (tip – just do the side parts and cut away the skin where it meets the base) and put segments on the pavlova, together with pomegranate pieces, then finally the walnuts.

 If you leave it for a few hours, the cream makes the meringue soften in the most delicious way. 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Almond and Ginger Thins

The recipe for these biscuits is very similar to almond tuiles, but they are cooked until they are golden brown, and have a real gingery snap to them.  I made a double batch for a recent birthday party, but they disappeared so quickly I never managed to try one!   If you don't like ginger, simply omit it from the recipe.  Not tested with gluten or dairy free, maybe next time.

Almond and Ginger Thins

Almond and Ginger Thins

1 large egg white
3oz oz/75g caster sugar
1oz/25g plain flour, sifted
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp vanilla
1oz/25g melted butter
flaked almonds (about 1oz/25g)

Oven:  preheat to 190deg C, and put baking parchment on three baking sheets – it is best to bake these in single tray batches

In a medium sized bowl, beat together the egg white and caster sugar until it is frothy, using either a hand whisk or a fork.  Next, add the flour and vanilla, then the melted butter.  Stir the mixture until it is smooth.    Put teaspoons of the mix onto baking sheets, well spaced (about 6 per tray), and, using the back of the spoon, push the mixture into a thin circle about 3” in diameter.     Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.

Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes until golden brown.   Remove from the oven, and then, when they have cooled slightly, lift off the sheet and curve them over a rolling pin (or jam jars when there’s no more space on the rolling pin!).   If they are too firm to do this, pop them back into the oven for a few seconds to soften up again.  They should dry very crisp.  When they have hardened, you can cool them on a wire rack. 

Makes about 15-18.   Store in an airtight tin. 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Apple Charlotte with Passion Fruit Ice Cream

Why is a charlotte called a charlotte?   I wish I knew!   A charlotte is a delicious hot pudding of stewed fruit baked in a buttery, crispy bread case, perfect for these wintry days.   I made several little ones, and felt they were a definite improvement on the traditional larger one!  This is photographed with passion fruit ice cream, gently smothered with a passion fruit sauce.  What a fabulous combination...  My pudding-loving husband felt this was a winner.   I also experimented by using honey instead of sugar in the charlotte, especially for Francis, who loves puddings, but cannot eat sugar.  

Apple Charlotte with Passion Fruit Ice Cream

Apple Charlotte

6 pieces of thick white bread 
Up to 12 oz/350g peeled weight of cooking apples
(you can add other fruit – apricots, blackberries)
spices to add spice to life!  (I used star anise and cinnamon)
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
Sugar (or honey) to taste
4oz/110g butter, melted

6 mini tins/moulds
Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.  Cut up and stew the fruit in a pan, together with the spices, lemon zest and juice, and the honey/sugar.   Cut the crusts off the bread and make breadcrumbs with the crusts (you will only need up to 2 tbsp of crumbs, so you can freeze the rest for a treacle tart).  Butter 6 mini pudding tins (or double the quantity of fruit and use a 6” cake tin/charlotte mould).   If you are making mini charlottes, take a serrated knife, slip the knife sideways between the thick slice and make two very thin slices.   Repeat with the rest of the bread.  Dip each crustless piece of bread into the melted butter and then line the tins.  Top tip - the first piece should be the same shape as the base of the little tins.  

When the fruit is nearly cooked, but hasn’t completely turned to mush, add the crumbs and mix it all together.  Remove any large pieces of spice before filling the little moulds with the mixture.  Shape the lid piece of bread before dipping it into the melted butter.   Put the little moulds on a baking tray, and cook until the bread on the top is golden brown.   Unmould and serve hot.

Passion Fruit Ice Cream and Passion Fruit Sauce
12 passion fruit
2 lemons
8oz/225g caster sugar
1 pint/450ml double cream
½ tsp salt

Use the lemon ice cream recipe on my blog:  substituting the juice from 4 passion fruits for 1 of the lemons and omitting the lemon zest.

To make the passion fruit sauce, take 8 passion fruit (they are tiny!) and scoop out the pips.  Sieve as much juice as you can from the unrewarding little things, add a little sugar and water, and gently simmer until the sugar has dissolved.  Pour over the ice cream.  

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Sarah's Chocolate Cake

Sarah's Chocolate Cake is legendary in our house.  Most beloved of my son, John, whose birthday it is today, it is what could be described as a "dump cake", in that everything goes in together.  Sometimes I've made it as a Polo cake - ie, one with a hole in the middle - but, however it turns out, it is always ABSOLUTELY delicious!   Sarah shared her recipe years ago, and this is from my handwritten scribbled notes.   Apologies for the terrible photograph, but it was the only piece I managed to save from the last one...    Happy 21st Birthday, John - when you come home, there'll be one waiting!  For best results, make a delicious chocolate ganache icing that pours sumptuously all over the cake - recipe below.

Sarah's Chocolate Cake

Sarah’s Chocolate Cake

5oz/140g soft brown sugar
6oz/170g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder

¼ pint/5 floz/140ml sunflower oil
¼ pint/5 floz/140ml milk
2 eggs, beaten into liquid ingredients
2 tablespoons golden syrup

Preheat the oven to 140 deg C.  Put a liner into an 8” spring clip cake tin that doesn’t leak. Mix together all dry ingredients, and pour in all the wet ingredients. 
Cook for 45 minutes and then check it using a heated skewer or sharp knife.  If it is still not done, and the knife/skewer comes out dirty, put the temperature up to 150 degrees for 10 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache Icing

8 floz/235ml double cream
4oz/110g dark chocolate

Warm the cream and add the chocolate, mix until smooth and glossy, cooling slightly so that it coats the back of the spoon and won’t leap off the cake. 

Stand the cake on a wire rack or a plate (depending how neat you want it to end up!), and pour the ganache over the cake.   If you want a neat finish, you will pour the ganache onto a rack, then chill the ganache to set it before transferring the cake to a plate.  If you like the more rustic touch, simply pour the chocolate over the cake and allow it to pool around the base before chilling. 

Friday, 29 November 2013


Syllabub is a deliciously traditional English pudding.  The name apparently means "silly bubbles" and it was originally made by pouring cream from a height over a mixture of alcohol, lemon and sugar.  So it hasn't changed much, except that I find it easier to put the whole lot into a Kenwood mixer!   I have no idea where this recipe came from, as my mother passed it on about 30 years ago, and it has been my favourite quick stand-by ever since.  Normally made with just lemon juice, I tried adding orange, which was equally good.   Ideally, this should be served with little biscuits or tuiles.  I get no marks for the presentation here - in an ideal world the orange and lemon zest should be prettily distributed over the syllabub....


Orange and Lemon Syllabub 

½ pint/280ml double cream
3oz/75g caster sugar
¼ pint/140ml sherry
rind and juice of half a lemon and half an orange

Pour all the ingredients into a deep bowl and whisk until thick/put into a Kenwood/Kitchen Aid mixer – it will splash everywhere.  Spoon into four pretty little glass dishes and chill until it has firmed up slightly.  Decorate with whatever takes your fancy!  

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Orange Sponge Cake

I was originally given this with the recommendation that it was the world's most amazing orange cake - they weren't far wrong!   The given quantity was absolutely massive, so I opted for half size, and a single layer cake, as it has a delicious orange glacé icing that would be lost in the middle of two pieces.  Also, it is cooked low and slow, and has a beautiful texture.  Move over, lemon, this orange cake is going places!

Amazing Orange Cake


8oz/250g butter
8oz/250g caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 dessert spoon grated orange zest
8oz/250g self raising flour
3floz/90ml fresh orange juice

25ml orange juice
4oz/110g icing sugar (approx)

Preheat the oven to 170 deg C, and line a 22cm springform cake tin with parchment, and grease  the sides well with butter.     Cream the butter and sugar well until very pale.  This will take a while.  Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each one (you can add 1 tbsp of the flour at the same time to stop the mix from curdling, and the orange zest. Add the remaining flour, and beat well, then slowly add the orange juice.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin, and bake for approx 45 minutes, or until a warm skewer comes out clean.  Slow is best, so don't be afraid to cook it longer.  If it starts to brown on the top, cover loosely with a sheet of  foil.

Leave the cake in the tin on a wire rack to cool, then gently remove the sides of the tin.

To make the icing, stir the orange juice into the icing sugar until you have the right spreading consistency, and apply with a palette knife, allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake if you wish.  Leave the icing to set before cutting the cake. 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Kate's Puddings Cookbook with exclusive recipes

Kate's Puddings Cookbook and Kate's Puddings Calendar 2014 are available now!   

In glorious colour, the cookbook is a mouthwatering collection of my favourite puddings and cakes from the Kate's Puddings website, plus a whole lot of lovely new recipes, exclusive to the cookbook.  Pear, walnut and roquefort tart, salted caramel and chocolate tart, apple lattice and French tarts galore!  New ice cream and sorbets too....  

Special Offer - buy the book and the calendar together for £20 plus postage! 

Follow Kate's Puddings on Facebook - comment on my recipes! 

Friday, 22 November 2013

French Apple Tart

There's such a glut of apples this year, and it seems a shame to waste them.  This apple tart is a fabulous recipe for windfall apples, as they are seldom perfect, so any bumps and bruises can be cut away.   There are many ways of making this tart, and you can add cinnamon or other spices, but I prefer brandy and lemon to give the apples a lovely tangy taste.  It can be dairy-free if you use a dairy-free spread.

Bake the tart blind, or not, as you prefer.  I like to avoid a soggy bottom, but sometimes there simply isn't time to pre-bake.  I've given the quantities for one tart, but it is not much extra work to make several at once, and then freeze the remainder.  I over-filled the one below, so it did bubble up a bit, but tasted good nonetheless!

French Apple Tart
  French Apple Tart

8oz/220g plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
4oz/110g butter/baking spread
1 egg
cold water

Apple Filling:
8oz prepared cooking apples (peeled, cored and chopped)
1-2 cooking apples peeled, cored and sliced thinly
up to 3oz brown sugar
good slug of brandy
1tbsp lemon juice
1 jar apricot glaze (you can use sieved jam or marmalade instead)

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C, and make up the pastry by hand or in a processor.   Use it to line a 9” loose bottom flan tin, preferably French-style one with a fluted edge.  Chill the pastry before baking it blind.  (If you don’t bake it blind, preheat a baking sheet and put the tart onto it so that you avoid a soggy bottom)

Put the chopped apples into a pan, adding lemon juice and a good slug of brandy.  Then add sugar to taste.  Simmer gently until the apples have broken down, but not become a total purée.  

Pour the apple mix into the tart case, spreading evenly.  Thinly slice the remaining cooking apple, and arrange the slices over the tart in overlapping patterns.   Sprinkle with some caster sugar before baking until the tart is slightly browned.   Melt some of the apricot glaze in a small pan until any lumps have gone. 

Remove the tart from the oven and brush with the apricot glaze.   Serve hot or cold.  

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Peanut Cookies

Peanut Cookies are a very quick and easy way of turning half a bag of peanuts into something delicious, instead of just a boring cocktail snack.   This is an adaptation of an old Good Housekeeping recipe, and I was aiming more for a biscuit texture than a soft cookie.  The orange rind gives a delicious twist to the cookies, plus the use of salted peanuts.  Cookies are always better fresh, and you can keep the uncooked mix in the fridge for a day or so.   I haven't tried freezing it, there wasn't any left!

Peanut Cookies

Peanut Cookies

4oz/110g peanuts, salted or plain, plus extra for the top
(or 2oz/crunchy peanut butter and 2oz peanuts plus extra)
2oz/50g caster sugar
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
2oz/50g butter (or spread, for dairy-free)
the rind of half an orange
1 egg, beaten
4oz/110g self-raising flour

Preheat oven to 180 deg C, and line one or two baking trays with non-stick baking parchment.   This makes about 24

In a small food processor/mini chopper, blitz 2oz/50g of the peanuts until they form peanut butter (or use peanut butter).   Add the butter, sugar and orange rind, and continue until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg and sift the flour over the mixture, before folding it in using a metal spoon.   Mix in 2oz peanuts, chopped roughly (you can add them earlier but don’t blitz them to smithereens).

Put the mixture in heaped teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheet, allowing space for them to spread, pressing loose peanut halves into the tops.  Brush with milk (omit for dairy-free).     Bake for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown.    Cool on a wire rack. 

There are many more exciting new recipes (exclusive to the book) in my new book "Kate's Puddings, the Cookbook of the Blog" - simply click on: 

Friday, 15 November 2013

Black Forest Trifle

This is just one of the recipes in my cookbook "Kate's Puddings, the Cookbook of the Blog", which you can order through the link on this site.    I adore trifle in all its forms (except where it contains jelly!), and experimented with a Black Forest Trifle, as I had some left-over chocolate sponge cake (actually, a failed sponge cake with a large dip in the middle!), and some cherries.   The result is a classic - chocolate, cream, Kirsch and cherries mingling in a delicious retro-style pudding.   I put some redcurrant coulis on the top, plus a few raspberries to give colour, also because the cherries were all lurking in their alcohol at the bottom of the bowl.   Next time I’ll use more cherries!   I’ve since done it with a frozen “Black Forest Fruits” mix, which was also a great success. 

Black Forest Trifle

Black Forest Trifle

or bought cake/brownies
1lb/450g cherries, stones removed
Enough kirsch/framboise liqueur to cover the cherries
Chocolate custard – recipe below
¾ pint/450ml double cream
fruit and grated chocolate to decorate, plus red fruit coulis

Chocolate Custard:
3 egg yolks
1 ½ oz/50g caster sugar
¾ pint/450ml double cream mixed with milk (the richer, the richer the result)
½ tsp cornflour
4oz/100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Mix the yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla, using a small whisk.   In a milk pan (preferably non-stick), warm the cream/milk to blood heat.  Pour this mixture onto the yolk mix, whisking gently until it is all incorporated.  Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and heat it.  Change over to a wooden spoon, and stir the custard lovingly until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon.  Add the broken-up chocolate and stir it in.   Leave until cold.

Gently poach the cherries in the Kirsch or Framboise until the juice begins to flow but they haven’t lost their shape.  Cool.  

Assemble the trifle by putting crumbled cake into the base of a large glass bowl, then pouring the cherries and Kirsch over the top (adding more Kirsch if you wish).  Pour over the custard.   Whip the cream to soft peaks and put large blobs of cream onto the trifle.  Decorate with grated chocolate, extra fruit and a red fruit coulis if you have it. 

At least 30 other recipes exclusive to my book will not be on this blog.  To try more mouthwatering puddings, follow the link: 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Ginger Cake with Lemon Drizzle Icing

Autumn days make me hunger for more stodgy and filling food, and I suspect I'm not alone in this!   Light cakes lose their appeal in the winter, but a good ginger cake helps to keep out the chill, and the ginger pieces are perfect to combat the autumn colds and flu!   Think of it as medicinal, and you can't go far wrong...  This cake keeps brilliantly well, and has a lovely dense texture, with chunks of whole ginger to delight the tastebuds.

Ginger Cake with Lemon Drizzle Icing

Ginger Cake with Lemon Drizzle Icing 

8oz self raising flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
4oz soft brown sugar
4oz butter
4oz black treacle
4oz golden syrup
2 eggs
¼ pint milk
5 pieces of stem ginger cut into small pieces

Icing - 1/2 lemon, icing sugar (approx 3oz)

Grease and line an 8" spring clip or lose based sandwich tin.  Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.     Put sugar, butter, syrup and treacle in a pan and heat gently until melted.  Beat the eggs into the milk.  Sieve the flour and spices into a large bowl.  Add treacle mixture, ginger pieces and milk and beat well.  Pour into the prepared tin.  Cook for about 20-25 minutes on 180 deg C until brown and springy to the touch, beginning to shrink away from the sides of the foil. 

When the cake is cold, make up the icing by warming the juice of half a lemon in the microwave, then beating in the icing sugar until you have icing that pours reasonably well, but isn't so thin it rushes off the cake.   Use a piping bag or a spoon to drizzle the icing over the cake.  

There are many more exciting new recipes (at least 30 exclusive to the book) in my new book "Kate's Puddings, the Cookbook of the Blog" - simply click on: 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Coffee and Hazelnut Meringue

Officially titled a "Vacherin", this is a fabulously nutty triple decker confection of coffee meringue and cream..... A tweak on the chocolate and hazelnut meringue, I made this for a recent party, and it went, very quickly indeed!  Try to find blanched hazelnuts, but if you can't, the skins come off when the whole ones are toasted (although some had to have a little bit of help).   If you don't have Camp coffee (amazing stuff), substitute with strong instant coffee.  I assembled this just before the party started, and it was deliciously gooey by pudding time!

Coffee and Hazelnut Meringue

Coffee and Hazelnut Meringue

6oz/170g shelled hazelnuts, preferably blanched
6 large egg whites
10oz/280g caster sugar
1 ½ tbsp “Camp” coffee essence
½ tsp vanilla
2tsp cornflour

1 pint/16floz double cream
2 tbsp “Camp” coffee essence
1 tub crème fraiche
1 punnet fresh raspberries (4oz/100g)

Preheat the oven to 130 deg C.   Toast the hazelnuts in a heavy-based pan.  Don’t use any oil, just keep moving them about until they are browned.  If they are not blanched, the skins will come off as they cook.  This will take at least 5 minutes.  When they are cooled, chop them up, but not too small – you want a bit of bite!

Inscribe 10” circles on three pieces of baking parchment to act as a guide (or put a 10” circular tin base underneath each one as you load on the meringue), and place on three baking trays.   Then whisk up the egg whites until stiff, adding the sugar gradually, plus the essences and cornflour.  If you can’t taste enough coffee, add a little more essence.    Fold about half of the hazelnuts into the mix, and spread it equally onto the three circles. 

Bake the meringues until they are not soft and squidgy – this can take up to an hour and a half, as the coffee essence makes them extra soft.   If they start to go too brown, cover with a layer of foil.    Cool.

To assemble, whip the cream, add the crème fraiche and coffee essence.  Peel the parchment off the meringues, and stack in layers with the cream, adding more of the hazelnuts as you go.  Remember to keep some for the top!  Top with raspberries and remaining hazelnuts and sprinkle with icing sugar.    

There are many more exciting new recipes (at least 30 exclusive to the book) in my new book "Kate's Puddings, the Cookbook of the Blog" - simply click on: 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


There is truly nothing to beat home made mincemeat, which is nothing like that anonymous brown slurry you get in jars.... it's so easy to make, too!   I adore this recipe, it's one of Claire Macdonald's, and contains no suet, so is perfect for vegetarians.  As she points out, we don't need the extra calories, and the mincemeat is so good anyway, it doesn't need the fat.

The recipe below makes a fair amount, but make it now, and you will find it goes quickly if you give it to people as pre-Christmas presents, or make mince pies for friends, school, church or the TA!   It also keeps for a year, going dark and alcoholic.  I just refresh mine with more alcohol, and consider it to be "vintage".

In her recipe, Claire specifies quantities of raisins, peel, sultanas and currants.  For simplicity, I add the lot together (2lb 10z/1.180kg) and buy bags of mixed fruit, adding extra peel to make up the difference!

Kinloch Mincemeat

Kinloch Mincemeat

1lb 8oz/700g raisins
6oz/175g chopped mixed peel
12oz/350g sultanas
6oz/175g toasted flaked almonds
6 medium sized eating apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped
12oz/350g soft dark brown sugar
8oz/250g dried apricots, chopped
1tsp nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice
grated rind and juice of 2 oranges plus 2 lemons
¼ pint/150ml brandy, whisky or rum (this is a minimum!)

Mix everything together well and leave in a large covered container, stirring once or twice a week for three weeks.  Then pot and seal in jars. 

I prefer a finer texture mincemeat and can’t be bothered to cut everything by hand, so blitz it all in a food processor in batches until the individual pieces are about the size of chocolate chips.   You can do this at any time before potting it!   Feeding with extra alcohol is also a bonus…. 

There are many more exciting new recipes (at least 30 exclusive to the book) in my new book "Kate's Puddings, the Cookbook of the Blog" - simply click on: 

Friday, 1 November 2013

Quick Mango Mousse

This is a delicious alternative to the traditional mousses, and very light and refreshing.   Using fresh or tinned mango (preferably fresh!), it is very quick to make, although mangoes are quite fiddly to unlock, as the flesh seems to cling very firmly to the stone.    Everybody has their own technique, but one I have found easy is to slice around the long edge, then slide a serrated knife into the mango, sawing it as close to the stone as possible, then lifting off the cut away part.  Repeat with the other half.  Score lines into the cut mango, and then cross hatch.  Using a spoon, scoop away the flesh.    It's messy!

Quick Mango Mousse
Quick Mango Mousse

2 ripe mangoes, flesh diced
2 egg whites
small quantity of icing sugar
2 tbsp lime juice (or lemon), and lime zest for decoration
½ pint double cream

6 pretty little glasses (approx, depending on size)

Purée the mango flesh in a processor, adding the lime juice, then the sugar to taste - it should be sweet, but not too sweet!   In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.  Whip the cream in yet another bowl until thickened, but not stiff.   Set aside 6 tbsp of the mango mixture. 

Fold the cream into the mango purée, then fold in the egg whites.  It helps to do a tablespoon of the whites first which opens up the texture of the mixture, then fold in the remaining whites until it is evenly mixed but you haven’t lost all the air in the whites. 

Pour a small quantity of the mango purée into the bottom of each glass, before adding the mousse.  Decorate with lime zest and any remaining mango purée, and chill before serving. 

There are many more exciting new recipes (at least 30 exclusive to the book) in my new book "Kate's Puddings, the Cookbook of the Blog" - simply click on: 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Red Velvet Cake

This spooky cake is ideal for Halloween.... It has a luscious red interior, with white ghostly icing, and decorated with cobwebs.   The first time I tried it, I used liquid colouring, which wasn't a success, so I tried again using Dr Oetker red gel/paste, which gave the desired spooky effect!   I made this for a lovely friend, Lucie, and we had to try it early, just to see how red it was!

Update:  The Dr Oetker paste gel now doesn't work, so you need to find a proper paste - Squire's Kitchen, or one on-line.  See my brown velvet muffins post!

Red Velvet Halloween Cake

Red velvet cake

21oz/600g caster sugar
8oz/250g softened butter
6 eggs
2 tbsp red food colouring (or 2 small tubes of paste)
1tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp cocoa powder
13oz/375g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
8floz/250ml buttermilk
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tbsp vinegar

2x 7oz/200g packs cream cheese
12oz/350g white chocolate, melted
8oz/250g softened butter

Preheat the oven to 170 deg C and spray 3 8"loose based sandwich tins with release agent, or grease and line them with parchment.

Cream the butter and sugar, adding the eggs one by one, beating well.  Add a small quantity of flour to prevent the eggs from curdling.   Add the colouring and vanilla.
Sieve the flour, salt and cocoa together and add to the mixture, alternating with the buttermilk.    Mix the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar together, stirring the fizzy mixture into the cake.  Don't over-beat at this stage.

Tip the mixture into the three tins and bake for approx 25 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing, melt the chocolate and allow to cool.  Beat the cream cheese until fluffy, then add the chocolate and butter gradually, beating all the time.  Spread over the cake and decorate.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Saffron Poached Pears

Another autumn recipe taking advantage of the glut of beautiful fruit around at the moment.  This is a delicious pudding, and very simple to prepare.  The cardamom and saffron give a lift to the pear syrup, and the whole dish looks beautiful too.   I served it with passion fruit ice cream and Greek yoghurt.  I am indebted to James for this recipe, who found it in the Metro newspaper and recommended it to me.  I am doubly thankful to him, as the recipe arrived with his order for my book!

Saffron poached pears

Saffron Poached Pears  

6oz/180g sugar (the original quantity was 7oz/200g, but it was very sweet)
¾ pt/425ml water
6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed 
¼ tsp saffron
3 tbsp Lemon Juice
4 or 5 firm pears

Put the sugar, water, cardamom pods, saffron and lemon juice into a pan wide enough to take the pears side by side.   Stir until the sugar dissolves, then bring to simmering point.  Peel and halve the pears, removing the cores.  As you prepare each pear, drop it straight into the simmering syrup, cut side up.

Cover the pan with a circle of greaseproof paper and put the lid on top.  Simmer away gently until the pears are tender, approximately 20-30min, spooning the syrup over them every now and then.

Once the pears are cooked, lift them out of the pan using a slotted spoon and arrange them in a single layer, cut side down, in a serving dish.   If the syrup is quite thick, pour over the top.   Alternatively, you can reduce the syrup by boiling it for longer so it thickens slightly.  Don’t cook it for too long, or the syrup will caramelise.  Serve chilled.  This compote keeps for several weeks, covered, in the fridge. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Cinnamon Nutella Cake

This is the season for Kentish Cobnuts, a beautiful elongated kind of hazelnut, traditionally cultivated in Kent.  Freshly cracked from their shells, they are almost milky and have a delicious softness and bite.  Paired with this gently spicy cinnamon and Nutella Cake, they are quite special.   You can use hazelnuts, but don't use old ones from the store-cupboard as they smell rancid and affect the taste of the cake.

I found this recipe on-line, I think originally a BBC Good Food recipe, and it gave me a great opportunity to use up some Nutella at the same time!  The Nutella, despite being put into the cake 3/4 the way up, dived to the bottom, but it may have been because I was a bit generous with the spoonfuls....  Whatever... it was delicious.

Cinnamon Nutella Cake
Cinnamon Nutella Cake

8oz/225g self raising flour
6oz/175g  butter or spread at room temperature
6oz/175g  caster sugar
3 large fresh eggs
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
4tbsp milk
4 rounded tbsp Nutella or similar spread
2oz Kent Cobnuts or hazelnuts, chopped roughly

Preheat oven to 180 deg C.  Line an 8” cake tin with parchment and grease the sides.

In a food processor or Kenwood, blend the cake ingredients except for the Nutella and nuts together and then beat until pale and fluffy.   Pour ¾ of the mixture into the tin, level it and add the spoons of Nutella.   Pour on the last of the mixture, swirl it with a skewer or knife, and add the chopped nuts.

Cook for 1 hour to 10 minutes (depending on the heat of your oven) until risen and golden brown.  To test, the cake should have come away from the edges slightly, and if you put a (heated) knife or skewer into the middle, it will come out clean.   If it looks too brown, cover with foil. 

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before tipping the cake out of the tin onto a wire rack, peeling off the paper and leaving it to cool.   

Friday, 18 October 2013

Brioche and Butter Pudding with White Chocolate and Apricots

Composer Edward Elgar had his Enigma Variations, I have my pudding variations!   This is a little tweak of the very popular Brioche and Butter Pudding, made especially for my white-chocolate loving husband...

The recipe is, as before, extremely simple, and white chocolate chunks and apricots are inserted into the pudding before cooking.   You could used tinned apricots, but not dried ones.  The picture below is of a small pudding, but I have done a 6 person size recipe below - that's the beauty of it, as it is infinitely flexible.

Brioche and Butter Pudding with White Chocolate and Apricots

Brioche and Butter Pudding with White Chocolate and Apricots

¾ a brioche loaf


white chocolate cut into big chunks

6 apricots (roughly!), halved
3 eggs

2oz/50g sugar

1 pint whole milk

Oven 180 deg C

Cut the brioche into thick slices and butter them.  Arrange in a buttered oven proof dish, slipping chunks of chocolate and apricots in between and around the slices. 

In a jug, beat up the eggs, sugar and milk, and pour it over the brioche.  If you have time, allow to soak for about 10 minutes or more.  Otherwise, simply bung it into the oven.   It takes 20 minutes or so to cook, and will puff up nicely. 

Serve with cream or yoghurt.    Serves 6. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Chelsea Buns

Currently (ha ha) we are in the throes of the Great British Bake Off, where contestants have to produce some amazing cakes or pastries every week.  Recently featured were Chelsea Buns, one of my favourite childhood recipes.  I don't know what Mary and Paul would say about these ones, as I decided to put them to rise overnight, and they didn't like it, but they still tasted great!  They were also too far apart in the tin - they should nestle closer together.  Oh, well, it's all about experience...

Chelsea Buns

Chelsea Buns

5oz/140g mixed dried fruit (fruit with mixed peel)
5oz/140g sugar, ¼ pint/150ml water
½ lb/225g strong plain flour (bread flour)
½ oz/12g fresh yeast or 7.5ml ½ tsp dried yeast
4 floz/100ml milk, just warm
½ tsp salt
½ oz/13g butter
1 beaten egg
2oz/50g melted butter
2oz/50g soft brown sugar

In a mixing bowl, put 2oz (50g) of the flour, adding the yeast and
milk, beating until smooth.  Leave in a warm place until it is foamy – 10-20 mins. Grease a tin approx 8” square.

This part is optional, but makes for better fruit - Boil together the sugar and water for a few minutes, then add the mixed fruit and simmer for 5 minutes until the fruit is plump.  Drain off the fruit (if it is soggy, the buns will be soggy too).    Carry on boiling the sugar and water mix until it is thick and syrupy.  Set aside for later. 

Mix together the remaining flour and salt, rub in the fat.  Mix this plus the egg into the batter to make a soft dough.   Turn onto a floured worktop and knead it until smooth, approx 5 minutes.  Put back into the bowl, cover with a cloth, and leave to rise until doubled in size – about 1 – 1 ½ hrs.  After that, turn the dough out again, and knead it again before rolling it out to an oblong shape about 12” x 9”.  

Brush the dough with melted butter, covering it with the sugar and the fruit.  Roll it up from the long side, sealing the edge with water before cutting it into 9 chunks.  Put them into the tin and leave the dough to prove for about 30 minutes.   Bake at 190 deg C for about 25 minutes or so – watch them!
When you take them out, glaze the buns with the thick sugar syrup.   If you don’t have time to steep the fruit, glaze the buns with a brush dipped in honey.  For best results, do this twice, then leave them to cool…. if you can resist them for that long.   Dust with caster sugar before serving.  

Friday, 11 October 2013

Gipsy Tart

Gipsy Tart is a traditional pudding from Kent, and either totally beloved, or absolutely hated, by generations of sweet-toothed children...   Not coming from Kent, I was introduced to this sticky confection relatively recently.  Remarkably, I still have a full set of teeth...   The only secret to this tart is, like all great comedy, timing.  You have to whisk the milk and sugar for 15 minutes, otherwise it simply doesn't work.   Also, the milk beats up much better if it has been in the fridge for at least five hours.  I keep a tin in there permanently - you never know!  The quantity below is for at least 10 people.

Gipsy Tart
Gipsy Tart

10oz/275g plain flour
5oz/140g butter
pinch salt
1 egg, beaten, plus a little cold water

14oz/400g tin of evaporated milk
12oz/350g muscovado sugar

Preheat the oven to 200deg C.     Make the pastry in a 10” flan tin and bake blind. 

Whisk the evaporated milk and sugar together for 15 minutes.   Pour into the pastry case.  Bake for 10 minutes.   Serve cold, when it will have set.   Resist the temptation to have a second piece!