Tag Archives: dessert

Lessons From My Mother | The Best Brownie Recipe

Lessons From My Mother | The Best Brownie Recipe

In anticipation of Mother’s Day, Debenhams is celebrating the wisdom of all mothers by continuing their What My Mum Taught Me campaign. When I was invited to contribute my own blog post, I was happy to jump on board, as applauding my Mum is something I’d like to do more on this blog (she is, after all, the main person who takes the photos of me and films my videos!).

My Mum has always been more like a best friend than a mother, and we’ve been lucky enough to always have a very close relationship. She’s been the surrogate mother to numerous friends of mine as well – everybody loves her!

When I think of the (too many to count) life lessons Mum has taught me, my mind has a tendency to wander to the kitchen. Many of my earliest memories involve standing on a stool next to her at the kitchen counter, watching what she was doing and delightedly being allowed to stir.

Lessons From My Mother | The Best Brownie Recipe

It was my Mother who introduced me to the delights of good food: her dinner parties were spoken of reverently by my parents’ friends, and throughout my childhood she tirelessly turned out meal after delicious meal. I’ve never known anyone come close to my Mum’s ability to produce an incredible dish from a seemingly barren larder (would that I had that talent), and she has the knack of making even the simplest of meals taste extra good.

As much as she has taught me how to cook and bake, my Mum also gave me the gift of hospitality. Learning from her example, I would invite friends of mine around for afternoon tea, baking my own cakes and scones from age 12. It delighted me to see people enjoy the food I prepared, and in high-school I set the tradition of movie nights with my friends, where we’d eat pizza or sushi and I would bake brownies.

Lessons From My Mother | The Best Brownie Recipe

I always made the same brownie recipe: my Mum’s, which she’d taught me from when I was big enough to crack an egg. Anyone I have ever served these brownies to has always asked for the recipe – they are that good! Delightfully, too, they are incredibly simple, but honestly, other brownies simply don’t compare. This recipe produces irresistibly gooey-on-the-inside-flaky-on-the-outside chocolatey squares that leave people crying out for more. Just as I baked these brownies all through my teens, I’ve made them all through my 20s too. They’re my go-to dessert (served still slightly warm with vanilla ice-cream), standard party food and pot-luck staple. I’ve brought them into work numerous times, and they make a terrific gift if anyone needs cheering up. The recipe is incredibly forgiving: you don’t have to be Nigella Lawson to whip this up, and you don’t need any fancy kitchen equipment either; just a wooden spoon and bowl will do!

Lessons From My Mother | The Best Brownie Recipe

To guide you step-by-step through the process of baking these, I’ve created a video (the full recipe also appears at the bottom of this page)! You can watch it here, or simply press play below:

I do hope you have a go at making these, and I’d love to see your results, so please do snap a photo and use the #mirandaskitchennotebook so I can check it out!

Here’s the recipe in a handy-dandy printable format:

The Best Brownies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
One of the best recipes my Mum has ever taught me! This makes the most delectable gooey-on-the-inside-flaky-on-the-outside brownies.

Ingredients
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 8oz butter
  • 5 eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Additional butter for greasing
  • Icing sugar (optional) to decorate
Instructions
  1. Grease a 9" square tin with butter and set the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4, 350° F)
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave (I melt it in 30-40 second bursts so as to make sure not to burn it).
  3. In a large bowl, add the sugar to the melted butter & chocolate mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Add the whisked eggs and combine, then stir in the flour and vanilla essence.
  5. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared tin and place in the oven.
  6. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes. The brownies should be flaky on the outside, but gooey on the inside, so a toothpick inserted in the middle won't come out completely clean.

 

Thank you, Mum, for always providing me with a wealth of advice, inspiration and the ability to make my own brownies! I can’t wait for many more years of cooking adventures together in the kitchen.

What lessons have you learnt from your mother? Has she passed on a favourite recipe to you? I’d love to hear what it is! Don’t forget – Mother’s Day is only a few short weeks away (March 6th), so it’s definitely time to start thinking about how to spoil her. I recommend baking these brownies and putting them into a pretty cake tin, along with a card and special gift. For inspiration, check out the Debenhams Mother’s Day page. I also love the look of their flowers – but you know me, I can never resist a pretty bouquet!

Disclosure: as thanks for this post, Debenhams is sending my Mum a bottle of champagne, as she most definitely deserves the finer things in life! 

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A Chat With: Nicola Williams

nelipotlane_3

As you know, I absolutely adore heading to Skittle Alley Coffee & Pantry on a Saturday morning when the Skittle Alley Slow Food market is set up in the courtyard outside the cafe. There are so many fabulous stalls (we get our cheese, veggies, bread and flowers from here), but my very favourite has to be Nicola Williams’ Nelipot Lane Cake Stall.

A Chat With Nicola Williams | Nelipot Lane Cakes

Nicola is a phenomenal baker, as well as the sweetest person imaginable, so it’s always a real treat to stop by her stall and pick up some cakes to enjoy later. Week after week, I’ve been so impressed by her delicious bakes, and I was dying to find out more behind the story of Nelipot Lane, so I was thrilled when Nicola kindly agreed to an interview for Miranda’s Notebook. Aside from the sweet treats Nicola produces for her market stall, she also takes orders for personalized artisan cakes, which are truly the prettiest cakes I’ve ever seen. To me, it’s the level of artistry that Nicola brings to her baking, along with her incredible flavours, that truly sets her apart from a prestigious crowd of London bakers.

A Chat With Nicola Williams | Nelipot Lane Cakes

I got to perch at Nicola’s stall for a chat on Saturday, and it was so fun to get to talk to her properly. There was a decidedly Christmassy feel to the air as I sipped my hot chocolate and admired Nicola’s festive displays, and I was thrilled to be collecting a christmas cake and gingerbread house I’d ordered from her. I don’t know anyone who decorates cakes with as much creativity and finesse: I’d told Nicola that I’d like a Chalet in the Alps theme for a Christmas Cake (harking back to my time in Switzerland!) and a traditional Gingerbread house, and this is what she created:

A Chat With Nicola Williams | Nelipot Lane Cakes A Chat With Nicola Williams | Nelipot Lane Cakes

Aren’t they stunning? We’ve cut into the cake already, and I can tell you it tastes just as good as it looks, which is quite a feat! I was so pleased with the gingerbread house too that I even did a little video of it for instagram – you can view it here. I felt it perfectly encapsulated my feeling of cosy Christmas cheer.

But on with the interview! I was fascinated by what Nicola told me of the story behind Nelipot Lane and how she expresses her artistic side through baking, and I hope you all enjoy the interview too. Nicola also very kindly agreed to share her recipe for her jars of salted caramel, which have been selling madly at her stall (and make the perfect homemade stocking filler or hostess gift), so keep reading for the recipe at the bottom!

***

MN: What first sparked your interest in baking?

NW: I remember one time when I was little I made a Christmas Cake with my Mother, and I iced it and made my own toppings for it. It was pretty terrible, to be honest, but that was the first time I baked, and it’s the one memory I remember distinctly from my childhood. I just had so much fun doing it!

MN: Is there a tradition of baking in your family, or are you the first?

NW: I’m the first! No one bakes in my family at all. It’s all my gifts though to my family and friends, and they seem to enjoy that!

MN: I love the creative flair you bring to your cakes! Have you trained in patisserie work, or are you largely self-taught?

NW: Thank you! Well, I’ve always been drawn to art and I’ve always loved doing it, so I did an art course, but then I started baking for my fiancee and his friends 3 years ago, and he said to me ‘why not do a course?’ And so I did – I did a course in patisserie and confectionary, and I just never stopped baking! [side note: cannot believe Nicola’s only been baking properly for 3 years!! Incredible!] In terms of decorating cakes, though, I’m really self-taught.

A Chat With Nicola Williams | Nelipot Lane Cakes

MN: What kind of art do you do?

NW: I’m a drawer – I love drawing. I go along the river a lot – I love nature, drawing trees and flowers. I’m obsessed with architecture as well, especially older buildings, like old railway stations. I love drawing things or places that are often overlooked. I make sculptures too, out of rice. Again, I like creating my own little worlds.

MN: Who are your favourite artists?

NW: Cornelia Parker, I like her work. And Matisse. Also Zarina Bhimji who does incredible photography and video installations. Jose Agatep does beautiful terrariums; I guess I love it because they are almost magical little worlds! I love the way art transports you to another world – I remember seeing the Turner exhibition at Tate Britain and standing in front of one of the paintings for probably 20 minutes. I was just in another world.

A Chat With Nicola Williams | Nelipot Lane Cakes

MN: Something that impresses me so much about your cakes is how gorgeous they look, but also the incredible taste you bring to them. Do have a favourite part to the baking process? Is it getting the flavour just right, or do you love decorating the most?

NW: I love the decorating side because the possibilities are so endless. You can create these little worlds, and the fact that they’re so fleeting excites me. You can create this special moment of pleasure for someone when they have a cake. But I really like to eat as well, so the flavour has to be there – it can’t just be a great looking cake.

MN: What’s the process like behind designing your cakes? What inspires you?

NW: I get as much info as possible from the person who wants the cake – I may ask them for pictures or more about the person getting the cake. A few days before I start to pull together some ideas and make some initial sketches. My inspiration is quite organic though – suddenly everything just comes together and I know exactly what I want to do.

MN: Tell me about Skittle Alley – what’s the story behind your stall here?

NW: That was so random. I had been searching for so long, as I’d been doing a market in Streatham, but it was so far from where I live. There was a new market that opened up at Brook Lane, and they already had a cake lady there, but they told me about Skittle Alley, which I never would have found on the internet, as it’s a new market and quite small. It was purely by chance I was recommended this place, and it was just perfect!

MN: What’s your favourite part about being part of a growing community like this?

NW: The people! Everyone has been so warm and so inviting.

A Chat With Nicola Williams | Nelipot Lane Cakes

MN: Where does the name ‘Nelipot Lane’ come from?

NW: I have a board in my kitchen, and I write different things on it each month, so there might be a word of a week, or limerick or drawing of the week. I get people who come over to put something on the board. Once, it was a word of the week, and I found the word ‘nelipot,’ which in the urban dictionary means ‘someone who walks bare foot.’ Anytime I can, I’ll kick off my shoes and walk barefoot in the grass or sand. So when I was trying to choose a name, a friend said – ‘why don’t you use ‘Nelipot’? That sums you up.’ And it really does! So I created Nelipot Lane.

MN: What are your plans for the future? I’m hopeful you’ll do a cookbook!

NW: I don’t think I’d do a cookbook – I think there are plenty of people who do that so well [I still think there is most definitely room for a cookbook by Nicola though – I’ll just have to keep hoping!!]. I definitely want to be making more cakes. I love doing the market, and I want to have more of a presence in markets, but I definitely want to be making more of my artisan cakes because I have so much fun with them. Next year I’d like to finally enter a competition too. That’s my goal for next year – to finally pluck up the courage to do something like that. [Wishing you all the best of luck Nicola. You’re most definitely already a winner in my book, anyway!]

MN: Finally, as I love interviewing creative, interesting women, I also always like to ask which women in your life have particularly inspired you?

NW: Obviously my Mum! She’s a toughie! Beyond anyone I know she’s constantly working, whenever she gets an opportunity – she just never stops. I admire all the women in my life – my friends and my family. My fiancee’s Mum too – she’s worked so hard and given us so much. All the women I know are such tough, hard workers, and they’ve all done it themselves, without a man in the picture, which I think is brilliant! [I completely agree!]

***

If you’d like to find out more about Nicola, do check out her website.

You can also contact her on Twitter and Instagram, as well as via email (nelipotlane@gmail.com) should you have any queries regarding her cakes.

And, of course, you can always head along to Skittle Alley Market on a Saturday to say hello to Nicola and try some of her amazing cakes yourself (I strongly recommend the lavender brownies!).

A Chat With Nicola Williams | Nelipot Lane Cakes(Image by Nicola Williams)

As promised, here’s the recipe for salted caramel that Nicola very kindly provided too. I’ve already whipped out to buy muscavado sugar and cream and will be whipping up pots of the stuff as last-minute Christmas gifts for friends and colleagues!

Nelipot Lane Salted Caramel
Author: 
 
The recipe for the hugely in demand jars of salted caramel at Nicola Williams' Nelipot Lane cake stall at Skittle Alley Market.

Ingredients
  • 200g unrefined caster sugar (muscavado for a deep rich sauce)
  • 200g water
  • 100g butter
  • 100g cream
  • Sea salt (optional, but very lovely!)
Instructions
  1. In a clean dry pan measure out the sugar and water (clean the sides of the pan around the water line of any bits of sugar with some clean water and pastry brush).
  2. Heat the sugar and water on high until it starts to have an even bubble. At this point you will see it start to caramel; you want to make sure the mix gets to a lovely dark golden colour (if it starts to brown in one spot gently tilt the pan to mix it, but don't stir the mix once it's on the heat!).
  3. Once it's reached the desired colour (this will happen quite quickly once bubbling evenly, so make sure you keep your eye on it) start pouring in the cream, and at this point you can mix and add the butter until it's all melted and caramel goodness is formed.
  4. Now add salt to taste. I love Maldon salt but any good sea salt will work (not table salt!)
  5. Pour into a glass jar and once cooled keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You can gently melt chunks to make sauce for ice-cream or a piece of cake, add the cold chunks to recipes such as cookies or brownies or add to milk and hot chocolate for an extra sweet treat.
  6. They make great stocking fillers so once you've made it, pour into some cute mini sterilised jars and add a little ribbon and tag!
  7. Merry Christmas!

 

Thanks so much again to Nicola for her fabulous interview and recipe!

++ For more in the ‘Miranda Chats’ series, read my interviews with Cressida Bell,  Alice Stevenson, Priya Parmar and Sophie Knight. ++

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No Bake Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

No Bake Pumpin Chiffon Pie - the perfect recipe for an easy Thanksgiving party! via Miranda's Notebook

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers! Of course, there’s no holiday here in the UK, but I still can’t let Thanksgiving go by without creating some variation of pumpkin pie – my all time favourite dessert! Even if you’re not in the States, I recommend making this pie as a treat this weekend (you can eat it whilst watching the Friends Thanksgiving marathon).

I first spotted this recipe in Adrianna Adarme’s gorgeous book The Year of Cozy (Adrianna also writes one of my favourite food blogs – A Cozy Kitchendo check it out!). I’m always on the lookout for simple, easy to prepare recipes, and a no bake option is definitely appealing when the majority of London kitchens are pretty minute with small ovens. There actually is a tiny amount of baking involved in the dish (you have to bake the crust), but this can be made the previous day (or I’m also fully behind cheating a little and simply buying a pre-made crust!). I recommend making this pie the day before you want to serve it anyway, as it requires at least 5 hours chill time in the fridge. Also, whenever I’m preparing a big meal, it gives me a lot of peace of mind to know the dessert is done and dusted.

I’ve adjusted this recipe a little to suit my own preferences and what I had in the house. The original calls for rum, but I’ve used grande marnier instead. I also had to use more melted butter to hold the gingersnap crumbs together better, and I tinkered with the spice mix a little. No Bake Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. Click through for recipe via Miranda's Notebook

No Bake Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
Author: 
Serves: 6-8
 
A delicious, easy option to help make your Thanksgiving dinner a breeze.

Ingredients
For the Crust:
  • 2 cups gingersnap crumbs (from about 25 biscuits).
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling:
  • 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  • 2 teaspoons unflavoured powdered gelatin
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup whipping cream (or heavy cream)
  • ½ cup + ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon quatre epices
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly whipped cream to serve
Instructions
To Make the Crust:
  1. Preheat the oven to 175° C. Break up the gingersnaps into a food processor and pulse until broken into crumbs (or place the biscuits into a ziplock bag and bang with a rolling pin).
  2. Place the 2 cups of crumbs and salt in a medium bowl. Pour in the melted butter and mix until the crumbs are moist. Transfer the mixture into a 9" pie dish and press the crumbs firmly and evenly until they cover the bottom and sides of the dish.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until slightly darker in colour and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before adding the filling.
To Make the Filling:
  1. Pour the grand marnier into a small bowl and add the gelatin to the bowl, then set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, add the pumpkin, whipping cream, ½ cup sugar, 2 egg yolks, cinnamon, quatre epices, nutmeg and salt. Cook the mixture, continuing to stir, until it reaches a temperature of 175°F (I used a candy thermometer). Transfer the pumpkin mixture to a medium bowl and stir in the grande marnier and gelatin. Set the bowl aside to cool.
  3. Whilst the pumpkin mixture is cooling, beat the 2 egg whites (the easiest way to do this is with a Kitchen Aid, in a metal bowl with the whisk attachment. You can also do this with a handheld electric whisk, but be warned - it takes a while!) until they begin to hold peaks. With the beater still going, sprinkle in the remaining ¼ cup sugar and keep whisking until stiff peaks form.
  4. Gently fold in the egg whites, a little at a time, into the cooled pumpkin mixture. Add the pie filling to the gingersnap crust and transfer to the fridge for 5 hours, or overnight.
  5. Just before serving, add a topping of freshly whipped cream and garnish with a sprinkling of any leftover gingersnap cookie crumbs, or with some cinnamon.

 

What are you feeling particularly thankful for this year? After feeling full of energy yesterday, in the evening I started feeling really unwell with a fever and sore throat. Rather than concentrating on the frustration of getting sick though, instead I’m feeling grateful that I can spend today taking it easy at home and doing my best to get better asap (there’s pie to enjoy, after all!). As always, I’m so thankful for this blog and the many fun things it inspires me to do, as well of course for my followers who take the time to read the posts and who get in touch via commenting and social media. I so appreciate your support! This year I’m also really thankful to have the opportunity to move back into more central London: moving is always stressful, and I hate the packing, but in January we will be in our new flat which is very exciting.

Anyway, happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it, and a very happy Thursday to everyone else!

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Gooey Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Brownies

Gooey Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Brownies - the perfect Halloween treat!

If you fancy a halloween twist on a classic sweet treat, then I absolutely recommend making these gooey pumpkin and cream cheese brownies. They’re great on their own as an afternoon pick-me-up, or I’m sure they would be a popular choice at a Halloween gathering. I served some squares with vanilla ice-cream for dessert at a recent dinner party, and I have to say it was a pretty yummy combination!

Gooey Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Brownies - the perfect Halloween treat!

What’s your favourite Halloween treat?

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Rose and Summer Berry Cheesecake

Rose and Summer Berry Cheesecake Recipe | Miranda's Notebook

Remember that rose cheesecake I had at Honey & Co the other week? Well, I’ve had a lot of fun recreating it in my kitchen, and I thought I’d share my version of this gorgeous dessert. I love to make cheesecake, as friends always seem so impressed by it, but truth be told it’s a very easy dessert to pull together. As you need to let the cake and the compote chill, this is a great recipe to make in advance and assemble just before guests arrive.

I have favourite recipes for pumpkin, chocolate and plain old regular cheesecake, but this one is perfect for summer. The rose flavour is delicate and fragrant (without being overpowering) and combines wonderfully well with the coconut base of the cake. The fruity compote I like best served spread over the cheesecake, but you can also serve it on the side if you prefer.

Rose and Summer Berry Cheesecake Recipe | Miranda's Notebook

The original recipe is in the Honey & Co Baking Book (which is marvellous, by the way!), but I’ve tweaked it to suit my taste and what was in my cupboard. I hope you enjoy my version!

Rose and Summer Berry Cheesecake
Author: 
 
A perfect summer dessert that's bound to impress.

Ingredients
For the base
  • 50g butter
  • 100g desiccated coconut
  • 75g caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
For the rose-scented cheesecake
  • 500g full fat cream cheese
  • 100g soured cream
  • 200g caster sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 50g plain flour
For the compote topping
  • 300g mix of raspberries and blueberries
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 1 orange, halved
  • ½ teaspoon rose water
  • 200g strawberries, halved to fold in at end
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 190° C / 170°C Fan and line a loose-based 9inch (23cm) cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Melt the butter and mix with the coconut, sugar, salt and egg until well combined. Transfer to the cake tin, smooth out and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until the coconut goes a light golden colour. Remove from the oven to cool.
  3. Making the filling in a mixer with a paddle attachment, or in a bowl with large spoon. Combine the cream cheese with the soured cream, sugar and orange zest on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, then gradually mix in the rose water. Finally fold in the flour.
  4. Pour the mixture over the coconut base and bake for 30-35 minutes until the cake rises and goes a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours before topping.
  5. Mix the raspberries and blueberries in a pain with the sugar and orange halves. Set on a very high heat, bring to a rapid boil and cook for about 5 minutes until the compote thickens. Remove from the heat. Carefully (they're hot!) take out the orange halves and squeeze out the remainder of the juice into the compote, then discard. Stir in the rose water and transfer to a bowl before chilling in the fridge for at least an hour until set.
  6. When you are ready to serve, gently fold the halved (or quartered, depending on size) strawberries into the chilled compote and use to top the cheesecake. It's a good idea to turn out the cheesecake from the tin onto a plate before topping with the compote.

 

Do you have a favourite cheesecake recipe?

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Honey and Vanilla Fro-Yo (AND My First Podcast!!)

fro-yo_1

With the heat wave we’re having in the UK at the moment, there’s been only one thing on my mind: ice-cream. Oh, and ice-cold water too. But mainly just ice-cream.  Sadly I don’t have an ice-cream maker, but happily for me this recipe is incredibly easy and doesn’t require one!  In an attempt to make a vaguely healthy treat, I’ve used yoghurt instead of gallons of cream, so technically this is a fro-yo recipe, but trust me, it tastes as good as ice-cream, with a slight tartness from the yoghurt that I find delicious. Scroll down for the recipe and keep scrolling for an exciting announcement – my first ‘Miranda Chats’ podcast!!

IMG_1529

You certainly don’t have to use lavender honey with this recipe – any honey will do, but lavender flavoured happens to be a favourite of mine!

Honey and Vanilla Fro-Yo
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
The perfect treat for a heat wave!

Ingredients
  • 500g plain full fat Greek yoghurt
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lavender honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • seeds of 1 vanilla pod
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the yoghurt and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
  2. Stir in the honey and vanilla essence and seeds and mix until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into a lidded container and freeze until firm (this takes several hours, or over night).
  4. Make sure to soften the mixture before serving (I softened it in the fridge for ½ and hour).
  5. Enjoy!

 

I am also really excited to introduce my first ‘Miranda Chats’ mini podcast. I’m hoping this will be a fun way to share a little more of my day-to-day life with you all, so do please have a listen and tell me what you think!

 

Strawberry Flan

Strawberry Flan |Miranda's Notebook

As you know, I love recipes that are simple, but delicious. This strawberry flan is both of those things, and is the perfect treat to enjoy whilst having a lazy afternoon flicking through books and sipping tea in the garden. It’s also a fantastic dinner party dessert and a firm favourite of mine to bring along to summer BBQs. Best of all, the flan is inexpensive to make and uses ingredients you’re likely to have in the fridge and cupboard. You can use whatever fruit is in season, or whatever you have that is lying around and needs using up!

Flans freeze very well too and thaw quickly so I often make a couple and store one unfilled in the freezer. In winter, I fill them with chocolate mousse and grate white chocolate over the top for an extra decadent but quick dessert.

Strawberry Flan | Miranda's NotebookStrawberry Flan | Miranda's NotebookStrawberry Flan | Miranda's Notebook

Do you like fruity desserts? What’s your favourite summery sweet treat?

Strawberry Sponge Flan
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A simple, delicious summer dessert.

Ingredients
  • For the sponge flan:
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 70g soft butter
  • 70g self-raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
  • For the filling:
  • 300g strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 150ml double cream, whipped
  • ½ teaspoon gelatine powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C and grease and flour a 19 cm (7½ inch) non-stick flan tin.
  2. For this flan, everything must be at room temperature.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl and then add the sugar, soft butter, egg and vanilla essence. Beat the mixture together well for 3 minutes with an electric beater. Pour into the well greased and floured flan tin.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes (mine took 12), until the sponge is golden and springy to the touch. Allow to cool for 3 minutes in tin, then gently slip a knife between the cake and the tin and turn out onto a wire rack.
  5. Allow to cool completely, and in the meantime make the filling.
  6. Half the strawberries and rinse quickly. Leave in a bowl sprinkled with caster sugar for at least 30 minutes. Then, gently pour off the fruit syrup into a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatine on top and cook over moderate heat until gelatine has dissolved.
  7. Pour the glaze into a small bowl and cool in fridge until it starts to set. Arrange the halved strawberries on top of the sponge flan base and, once cooled, pour the glaze on top.
  8. Serve with whipped cream.

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Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding

Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding recipe

If (unlike me) you didn’t eat your weight in hot cross buns over Easter and still have some lying around getting stale, then I’ve got the perfect recipe for you!

Bread and butter pudding has always been a favourite dessert of mine, and this Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding is delicious. The top part of the pudding is bready, fruity and a little crunchy, and the bottom half is a flavourful custard. If you have polished off all your hot cross buns, it’s worth buying more just to make it!

Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding recipe Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding recipe Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding recipeI adapted a Jamie Oliver recipe to make my own. Here’s my version, in a handy-dandy printable recipe format!

Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This recipe is a perfect post-Easter treat to use up any leftover hot cross buns.
Ingredients
  • 600 ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 400 ml single cream
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 4 medium free-range eggs
  • 170 g caster sugar
  • 6 hot cross buns, sliced in half and lightly buttered
  • 3 tablespoons Cognac
  • 30g raisins
  • 20g sultanas
  • zest of 1 orange
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas 3.
  2. For the custard base, bring the milk and all the cream just to the boil in a saucepan. Cut the vanilla pod in half, scrape out the seeds and add to the pan. Whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale, then whisk in the milk and cream mixture, removing the vanilla pod shell.
  3. Dip the hot cross bun halves in the mixture, then place in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle over the Cognac and sprinkle over the raisins, sultanas and the orange zest. Sieve the custard over, and leave it all to soak for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Place the dish in a roasting tin, half-fill the tin with hot water, then bake the pudding for about 45 minutes. When cooked it will have a slight crust on top but will still be slightly wobbly inside. Allow to cool slightly and serve.

 

Enjoy! Do let me know if you try it and what you think. Do you have any favourite recipes that make the most of Easter leftovers?

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Frozen Lemon Mousse

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This frozen lemon mousse is one of my favourite make-ahead, easy dessert recipes, and makes the perfect light, but indulgent treat for Valentine’s Day. I’ll definitely be serving this mousse, as well as my Crab Chili Risotto, on Saturday – they go so well together.

Make Ahead Frozen Lemon Mousse (serves 4, or 2 with leftovers!)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tsp. (1/2 packet) unflavoured gelatin
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 eggs, separated
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup (250 ml)whipping cream
2 tablespoons crystallised rose petals (optional)
Handful of fresh raspberries to decorate

1/ Dissolve the gelatin in the lemon juice in a heat-proof bowl set over simmering water.

2/ Beat the egg yolks with 1/3 cup sugar until mixture is lemon coloured.

3/ Fold the lemon gelatin mixture and lemon zest into beaten yolks. Gradually add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beat egg whites with pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks. Blend large spoonful of beaten whites in lemon-egg yolk mixture.

4/ Whip cream and fold remaining whites and whipped cream into lemon-egg mixture, but don’t over blend – allow some white to show.

5/ Fill souffle dish or individual glass dishes 2/3 full and  freeze for 2-3 hours, or overnight.

7/ Serve either frozen (let it thaw for a few minutes before serving so it’s not rock hard), or serve fully thawed (my preference).

8/ Top with fresh raspberries, and (if desired) crystallised rose petals (it is Valentine’s Day after all!). 

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I grew up with my Mum making this lemon pudding, and it’s a firm favourite in our family for a reason. The flavour isn’t too sharp, but still pleasantly lemony, and I love the creamy texture.  Do you have a favourite lemon dessert?

Burns Night Orange Marmalade Cake

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I’ve been invited to a Burns Night party on Sunday, and I’m bringing along dessert. Naturally, I thought a pudding involving whisky would be perfect for a Scottish feast, so I’ve decided to make this Orange Marmalade Cake. I made one myself last weekend to test it out and was so pleased with the results that I’ll definitely be making another for the party. I’ve based my recipe on this one and this one, but tweaked them to suit my own taste and pantry!

Burns Night Orange Marmalade Cake (serves 10)

Ingredients:

For the cake:

4 tablespoons demerara sugar
2 large oranges
4 satsumas
200g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g butter, softened
6 heaped tablespoons orange marmalade
4 eggs
200g flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
50g ground almonds
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
4 tablespoons whisky

For the whisky whipped cream:

300ml cream
30g sugar
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon whisky
2 teaspoons grated orange zest (optional)

1/ Preheat oven to 200° C (180° Fan). Line the bottom of a 23cm round springform tin with brown paper and grease the sides with butter.

2/ Peel the 2 large oranges and cut into thin slices. Squeeze the juice of the remaining oranges into a small bowl and set aside.

3/ In a bowl, mix the sugar, vanilla and butter until pale and fluffy, then beat in 3 tablespoons of marmalade followed by the eggs. Fold in the flour, baking powder, almonds, salt and orange juice.

4/ Sprinkle the demerara sugar onto the baking paper in the bottom of the cake tin then arrange the orange slices at the base of the tin in a slightly overlapping layer.

5/ Carefully pour the cake batter into the tin and bake the cake for approx. 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

6/ Take the cake our of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes, then cut around the edges and remove the spring form ring. Very carefully, while the cake is still warm, put a serving plate on top of the cake and turn it over so that the bottom is now the top. Remove the tin bottom and brown paper to reveal the oranges on top of the cake.

7/ In a saucepan, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of marmalade with 4 tablespoons of whisky until it becomes liquid. Prick holes in the cake with a skewer and spoong the marmalade / whisky sauce over the warm cake.

8/ Let the cake cool completely before serving. In the meantime, make the whipped cream: beat the cream, sugar and cinnamon with an electric whisk until it forms stiff peaks. Fold in the whisky with a spoon and arrange in a pretty bowl (or teacup!) to serve alongside the cake. Top the cream with grated orange zest to decorate. 

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Do any of you have plans for Burns Night this year?