Pavlova

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Strawberries are coming into season and if you’re looking for a light, fruity dessert then look no further than the humble pavlova. So many times I have tried making a basic meringue and failed, this recipe however I have tried time and time again and has never failed me.

You can make 18 mini pavlovas with this recipe or one giant one!

This is taken from Nigella Lawson’s book How to be a Domestic Goddess.

Ingredients

  • large egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 500 grams caster sugar
  • teaspoons cornflour
  • scant teaspoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 750 ml whipping cream (whipped)
  • 750 grams blackberries
  • 750 grams raspberries
  • sprinkling of icing sugar (for dusting)

Method

You will need 3 baking sheets, lined with parchment.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4/350ºF.
  2. Whisk the egg whites with the salt until they’re holding firm peaks but are not stiff. Gently add in the sugar, spoonful after spoonful, still beating, until you’ve got a bowl full of gleaming, satiny, snowy meringue. Sprinkle the cornflour, a few drops of vanilla and the vinegar on top and fold in to combine.
  3. Draw 6 circles of approximately 10cm / 4 inch circles (using a pint glass as a guide, if this helps) on each of the parchment-lined sheets.
  4. Spoon the meringue onto the baking parchment into the delineated circles, and spread and smooth to fill. You want to make the meringue slightly higher at the rims, or just use the back of the spoon to make an indentation in the centre to hold the cream and fruit later.
  5. Put into the oven, turn it down to 150ºC/gas mark 2/300ºF, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave them in for another 30 minutes, then take out of the oven to cool. I just transfer them, on their baking parchment, to wire racks.
  6. When you want to assemble them, dollop cream into the indentation, and smooth it with the back of a spoon, leaving the odd peak. Place, one by one, a few blackberries and a few raspberries so that they look well filled but not crammed. Dust with icing sugar.

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Australian Crunch

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Fond memories of school dinner puddings and desserts. The Australian Crunch! Thick coconutty crunchy goodness with a layer of peppermint cream and a thick slab of chocolate on top. Have it with custard or just as it is, watch out though they are incredibly moreish.

This recipe was taken from a Be-Ro cookbook, for those of you old enough to remember, those books were a staple in Home economics class. Keep an eye out for them because I have yet to come across a recipe that has failed me.

Ingredients

225 g (8 oz) margarine
150 g (5 oz) caster sugar
75 g (3 oz) desiccated coconut
75 g (3 oz) crushed Cornflakes
1 x 15 ml spoon (1 tbsp) cocoa powder, sieved
150 g (5 oz) Be-Ro Self Raising Flour
100 g (4 oz) chocolate melted 

Method

1 Heat oven to 180ºC, 350ºF, Gas Mark 4. Grease a Swiss roll tin 31 x 21 cm (12½ x 8 inch).
2 Melt the margarine over a low heat.
3 Stir in the sugar, coconut, cornflakes, cocoa and flour. Mix well.
4 Turn into the tin and level with a knife. Bake for 20 minutes.
5 When almost cold cut into squares or triangles.
6 Cover with melted chocolate if wished.

 

 

Strawberry Windmill Gateau

Windmill Gateau

I only came across this recipe by chance whilst playing Baking Roulette with my sister. This is taken from the book, McDougalls Better Baking. It’s a classic Victoria Sponge all dressed up on top. Really simple, looks stunning, the sponge is extremely light and perfect for when strawberries are in season. No strawberries, no matter pile on any other soft fruits to enjoy with a cup of tea. Perfection!

Ingredients

100 g Softened Butter
100 g Caster Sugar
100 g Self Raising Flour
2 Eggs
250 ml Double Cream
1 punnet Fresh Strawberries

 

Method

  1. Prepare the cake mixture by creaming the butter and sugar until pale, lightly beat the eggs into the mixture incorporating a spoonful of flour at a time.
  2. Divide the mixture into three greased and lined 18 cm sandwich tins.
  3. Bake the sponge mixture for 20-25 minutes until firm to touch at 180c. Turn the cakes out onto a cooling wire.
  4. Whip the double cream and sandwich two of the sponges together.
  5. Spread the remaining cream on top of the cake and cut the final sponge cake into 8 equal triangles.
  6. Place the triangles on top of the cake in a fan shape and decorate with the fresh strawberries and a light dusting of icing sugar.

 

Top Tip

When sandwiching the sponge cakes together, use some warmed up strawberry jam before spreading on the whipped cream, place some strawberry halves on top of the whipped cream before sandwiching the cakes together. Now this makes for a truly decadent gateau brought up to date.

Ultimate Fudge

Using a tin of condensed milk and a lot of elbow grease and muscle power, this recipe only takes 15 minutes to prepare and mix up and another 25-30 minutely for the fudge to set properly. It is worth the work and the wait!

This recipe was taken from the Carnation website, super simple to follow, just make sure to keep stirring that pot and watch you don’t burn yourself. Hot sugar burns the worst!

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Ingredients

  • 397 g Tin of Condensed Milk
  • 150 ml Full fat milk
  • 450 g Demerara sugar
  • 115 g Butter

Method

  1. Place the ingredients into a large non-stick saucepan and melt over a low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring continuously and scraping the base of the pan. Take care while the mixture boils and during stirring as the fudge will be VERY hot! To test its ready drop a little of the mixture into a jug of ice-cold water. A soft ball of fudge should form. Or check with a sugar thermometer if you have one (approx 118°C).
  3. Remove from the heat and beat the fudge until very thick and starting to set (about 10 minutes). 
  4. Pour into the prepared tin and leave to cool before cutting into squares.

Depending on how you like your fudge this one is slightly crumbly with a soft buttery texture. There is still a heavy taste of condensed milk in the fudge, although reading other reviews just add a few glugs of baileys or vanilla extract and hey presto, flavoured fudge!

 

Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies

These are so delicious!  Everything you want a cookie to be. Soft, chewy and never going to make it to the cooling rack. Above all, this recipe is so easy to follow, you don’t even need a free standing mixer or electric whisk!

This recipe was taken from the Carnation website.

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Ingredients

 

  • 225 g butter, softened
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 170 g Carnation Condensed Milk
  • 200 g oats
  • 150 g self raising flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 150 g raisins

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180◦C, (160◦C for fan ovens), Gas Mark 4.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and condensed milk until pale. Mix in the flour, oats and cinnamon and then finally the raisins.
  3. Roll the dough into 20 golf ball sized balls and place on baking trays, spacing well apart.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes until golden. Enjoy with a cuppa!

 

Top Tip

If you’re not a fan of raisins, just replace them with chocolate chips! They keep soft and chewy for up to 2 weeks when stored in an airtight container!

 

Jammed up bunny butter biscuits

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Found this basic butter biscuit recipe online. Made it super special by pressing out the biscuits using a French biscuit press. The bunny shaped indentation was then filled with warmed up strawberry jam.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

For the biscuits
• 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
• 1 1/2 cups softened butter
• 2 eggs
• 2 tbsp vanilla extract
• 4 cups plain flour
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp baking soda (bi-carb)
• 1 tsp cream of tartar

Method

1: Combine sugar and butter and beat until creamy.

2: Add eggs and vanilla and beat with a little flour.

3: Stir in all the other dry ingredients until blended and a soft buttery dough is formed.

4: The dough is now ready for a cookie gun or if using cutters. Chill the dough for 30 minutes before rolling out to cut.
Roll to about 0.5cm thick.

5: Bake biscuits at 180C for 15-20 minuets or until golden.