Watalappan (Sri Lankan coconut milk custard)

Sri Lankan watalappan with mango and banana Another week, another Sri Lankan feast! This time, my husband cooked lots of rice and curry for our friends, and I made a dessert that we had a fair bit of when we were on honeymoon – watalappan, a set custard made with jaggery, coconut milk and lots of spices.

This is a great dinner party recipe, as it can be made in advance and left in the fridge until required. I used this recipe by Peter Kuruvita, who has also written a brilliant Sri Lankan cookbook that we use and that apparently is considered something of a bible by chefs in Sri Lanka!

I followed the recipe exactly, but I served it with toasted fresh coconut, in-season Indian mango and sliced Keralan bananas, which were the closest thing we could find to the bananas we ate a lot of in Sri Lanka. I also drizzled the plate with golden syrup as recommended by Kuruvita as a substitute for palm syrup.

The only tricky thing was baking the custards – they seemed to take longer than stated, but I reckon that’s just my oven rather than the recipe being at fault. They did eventually cook after I turned the heat up slightly.

The resulting dessert was rather wonderful – the sweet, spiced coconut custard combined with juicy mango and flavoursome bananas offered a perfect balance of flavours. It’s a great recipe to use if you’re planning a Sri Lankan or Indian feast and want an easy dessert that will impress!

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Banana and cumin cake

Banana and cumin cake As promised, I’ve had a go at making one of the desserts we had in Sri Lanka. My husband cooked a wonderful Sri Lankan rice and curry feast for his family the other week, so I decided to make banana and cumin cake to serve as the dessert.

Banana and cumin cake
I couldn’t find any recipes for this online, so I adapted a banana and walnut loaf recipe from my Delia book, swapping out the walnuts for cashews and adding more in the way of spices.

The main sticking point was the question of how much cumin to use. The cake we had in Sri Lanka offered up a burst of cumin with the occasional bite, so it wasn’t packed with the stuff, but I didn’t want to under-spice it, either.

Banana and cumin cake
I decided to use a teaspoon of cumin seeds, but as it turned out, I should have followed my husband’s advice and used more! I only got a hint of cumin when I tasted the cake, which was slightly disappointing, but the cake was delicious anyway and at least I know for next time!

Banana and cumin cake

Banana and cumin cake recipe

Makes 1 loaf, serving 8-10

  • 225g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 80g butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 55g dark muscovado sugar
  • 55g jaggery, crumbled (you can buy this from Asian grocers)
  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • seeds of 3 green cardamom pods, ground
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds (I used 1 tsp and got a very very subtle flavour)
  • 50g cashews, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk in the butter, egg, sugar and jaggery until you get a sandy texture, almost like large crumbs.
  4. Mash the bananas in another bowl and whisk them into the flour mixture, along with the ground cloves, ginger and cardamom.
  5. Fold in the lemon zest, cumin seeds and cashews.
  6. Transfer the mix to the loaf tin, level the top and sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top.
  7. Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  8. Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve on its own or warm with ice cream.

Coconut and cardamom cake with mango cream cheese filling

Coconut and cardamom cake with mango cream cheese icing I’ve been thinking about making this coconut and cardamom cake with mango cream cheese icing for a while. It’s basically my trusty mango and coconut cake with some cardamom added to the cake mix, but that one extra ingredient really does transform the cake into something else entirely! It’s Indian mango season at the moment, which meant that I could use the most delicious mango in this recipe.

Coconut and cardamom cake with mango cream cheese icing
Funnily enough, just when I decided to make it, I also ended up acquiring the new recipe book from GBBO’s Chetna Makan, who, as is well documented on this blog, is one of my favourite GBBO contestants EVER. There’s a mango, coconut and cardamom cake early on in The Cardamom Trail, which must mean that we’re kindred spirits, right?! However, Chetna’s cake is much more impressive-looking than mine, although I suspect that they taste very similar!

Coconut and cardamom cake with mango cream cheese icing
Anyway, back to my cake. It was all very straightforward to make. I did end up with runny cream cheese icing again, but that meant I had an excellent excuse to use only as much as would fill the cake without it running over the sides and, er, safely disposing of the rest. In my stomach. I think I might try making the icing with mascarpone next time to see if it comes out any thicker!

Coconut and cardamom cake with mango cream cheese icing

Coconut and cardamom cake with mango cream cheese filling recipe

Serves 10

For the sponge layers:

  • 175g/6oz softened butter
  • 175g/6oz caster sugar
  • 175g/6oz self raising flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 75g/2oz dessicated coconut
  • 2 tbsp coconut cream (I used Patak’s coconut cream, which comes in sachets)
  • 0.5 tsp ground cardamom (equivalent to the seeds of about 6-7 green cardamom pods)

For the filling:

  • 100g soft cheese (or try mascarpone!)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 50g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 0.5 medium, ripe mango
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Butter and line the base of two 20 cm/8 inch sandwich tins with greaseproof paper.
  2. Mix the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Gently stir in the dessicated coconut, coconut cream and cardamom.
  3. Divide the mixture between the two tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 20-25 minutes until evenly golden and firm.
  4. Loosen the edges and leave the tins to cool for 5 minutes and then transfer on to a wire rack to cool. Peel off the lining paper.
  5. Peel the mango, slice it away from the stone and chop into smaller chunks. Mash it to a pulp (you can use a food processor for a fine texture or a potato masher/fork for a chunkier one).
  6. Beat together the other filling ingredients and then stir in the mango.
  7. Spread one of the sponge layers with the filling and place the other on top. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

My wedding cake + what I ate in Sri Lanka

So, the wedding has been and gone and our honeymoon in Sri Lanka already seems like a lifetime ago… but I’m not quite ready to let go of these happy times just yet, so let me inflict upon you the blogging equivalent of the dreaded holiday photo slideshow (sorry!).

The wedding cake

Of course, I have to start with the wedding cake. Let me just say that I found wedding planning incredibly stressful all round, and at one point I was contemplating making my own wedding cake because I was getting quite frankly ridiculous quotes for something that would be demolished within an hour or two.

Luckily, a good friend told me about a friend of hers who makes wonderful cakes for living, Lisa from Lily and Dilly. She was really easy to work with and managed to do exactly what we wanted for a reasonable price. Et voila!

Wedding cake
We knew that we wanted a red and purple cake to fit our colour scheme. We also wanted to incorporate elephants – another key part of the theme – but we weren’t quite sure how until we spoke to Lisa. She suggested copying the elephants and paisley pattern on our wedding invitations onto the side of the cake, and also helped us choose our flavours.

Each tier was a different flavour – from top to bottom, they were traditional fruitcake, rose and pistachio, Victoria sponge, and mango and coconut, thus reflecting both of our cultures in one cake. I only tasted the Victoria sponge and mango and coconut layers on the day, but they were bloody lovely, and I’m looking forward to trying the fruitcake we have in the freezer on our one-year anniversary.

The elephants on top came all the way from India with my cousin, and I think they made a rather nice finishing touch!

All in all, we were delighted with the end result, and I’m pretty sure our guests loved it too! It was nice to have something different from your standard ivory wedding cake, and it was a big reflection of my own passion for baking (and the husband’s passion for eating cake!). It was a million times better than anything I could have done. Thank you Lily and Dilly!

Sri Lanka

Our honeymoon was bloody amazing. It was the best holiday we’ve ever been on, and I want to go back! We went on a chauffeured tour (organised by Audley Travel) of mainly the central part of the island, taking in major sights like Sigiriya, the Dambulla cave temples and two national parks, where we saw lots and lots of wild elephants.

One of the main highlights was definitely the food. We’ve had Sri Lankan food before, and have a cookbook that we’ve made a few things from, but it was so wonderful eating the real thing! Sri Lankan cooking is dominated by coconut, chillies and aromatic spices like cardamom and cinnamon, as well as by the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables grown on the island. We certainly got our five a day and then some!

@sundara_jivitaya had an egg hopper for breakfast

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A proper Sri Lankan breakfast! I had string hoppers (rice flour noodles) with potato curry, lentils and spicy coconut chutney.

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The other thing that dominates Sri Lankan cooking is rice. It seems that the traditional Sri Lankan meal is a big pile of rice with anything from 3 to 10 curries (we even saw ’17 curries’ listed on a menu once!), as well as salads, pickles, chutneys and so on. Whenever we had this for lunch it only seemed to cost us around £3 or £4 each. Bargain!

Last night Sri Lankan feast.

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I know, I know… you want to hear about the cakes. As is the case in Indian cooking, cakes and desserts aren’t quite as a big a thing in Sri Lanka as they are in the UK, but we did try a good range of sweet treats anyway…

Something I had earlier in Dambulla: honey and yogurt cake, which was essentially a Sri Lankan cheesecake. Nom!

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Sri Lankan desserts! Wattallapam (coconut milk, jaggery and vegetable oil) and passion fruit cheesecake. Phwoar.

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Tonight’s desserts: mango, marmalade cake and a “creamy glass”, according to the buffet card.

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In terms of traditional Sri Lankan recipes, jaggery featured a lot – wattalapam (watalapam? Unsure of the exact spelling!) cropped up a few times, while kalu dodol was very similar. The other traditional sweet treat that we kept seeing and which I tried once was curd and treacle – a rich buffalo milk curd (similar to yogurt but not as acidic) topped with a runny treacle that is related to jaggery. It was delicious!

Free sweet treats in our room

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My amazing dessert: coconut and jaggery panacotta with a burnt coconut and jaggery crisp. Phwoar.

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Passion fruit cheesecake (sorry @shannonagain58!)

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Just received a special delivery!

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(I had the above cake at breakfast one day. No shame whatsoever.)

Mango ice cream

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Fresh fruit was probably the king of desserts (and also of breakfast – Sri Lankans seem very keen on a fruit platter first thing in the morning) – bananas, coconuts, pineapples, passion fruit, guava, papaya and, most excitingly, in-season mangoes were everywhere, from the hotel buffets and menus to the market stalls we kept passing as we travelled from place to place.

Everything else seemed more western-inspired, and I sadly didn’t see any love cake (which I’d read about a lot beforehand), but I do have a recipe for it in our Sri Lankan cookbook, so I’ll have to give it a go one of these days. I also suspect that I’m going to try to replicate the banana and cumin cake pictured above – it was such as unusual combination but so delicious!

I could go on and also describe the delicious cocktails we had, but I’ll leave it there for now. It’ll be business as usual from next week – I actually only just this minute finished baking my first cake since we got back (I’ve been too jet lagged and ill to do it any sooner!) so you’ll be able to read all about it next week.

PS I did the Great Manchester Run as mentioned last time, and managed to beat my target time by two minutes to run it in 1 hour and 13 minutes, despite the aforementioned jet lag! I raised an amazing £215 for the British Red Cross and donations are still welcome!

Grasmere ginger shortbread + a blogging hiatus

Grasmere ginger shortbread I’ve been on quite the ginger kick recently, haven’t I?! I decided to follow the ginger and coconut flapjacks I made last time with this Grasmere ginger shortbread, completely forgetting that I’d already made something gingery that week… oh well.

The recipe for this comes from good ol’ Delia, who says she got the recipe from a hotel in the Lake District. I’ve been intrigued by this recipe since I first saw it in the recipe book, because I’m a huge fan of the Grasmere gingerbread that’s sold in the village of the same name – it’s just the BEST gingerbread you’ll ever have.

The recipe is supposed to be a closely held secret (and quite rightly so), so I was interested to see what this version was like – and, as it turns, out, it’s really not the same thing at all!

Don’t get me wrong, Delia’s shortbread is delicious, but it’s nothing like the real thing. Grasmere gingerbread is a bit more chewy and infinitely more gingery than Delia’s take, and the oatmeal is very noticeable here – if it’s used in the original Grasmere gingerbread recipe, I’ve never been able to tell.

As you can see from the first photo above, I ended up with some rustic-looking shortbread – the ragged edges are due to the outside of the bake breaking away when I tried to release it from the tin. I think the shortbread needs to cool for a lot longer than 5 minutes before you try to turn it out!

Nevertheless, Delia’s Grasmere ginger shortbread is really nice – it’s just a touch disappointing if you’ve ever stood on top of a hill in the Lakes, drinking in the amazing views while nibbling on some proper Grasmere gingerbread.

Grasmere ginger shortbread
Finally, just a note that you won’t hear from me for a bit, because I’m getting married next weekend! We’re off to Sri Lanka for our honeymoon, and I’m running the Great Manchester 10k for the Red Cross three days after we get back (you can sponsor me here if you like!), so you probably won’t hear from me until closer to June.

I will hopefully have lots of new, exotic baking ideas from our trip, though, so it’ll be worth the wait! See you on the other side!

Ginger and coconut flapjacks

Ginger and coconut flapjacks I made these ginger and coconut flapjacks on a bit of a whim, when I knew I wanted to bake *something*, but couldn’t be bothered with anything complex. With ginger and coconut being two of my favourite flavours, I thought I couldn’t go wrong with this recipe!

Flapjacks are incredibly easy to make, and these were no exception. I used this recipe from the Domestic Gothess, and followed it pretty much exactly. I didn’t have any stem ginger, so I swapped it for roughly 35-40g of chopped crystallised ginger.

Ginger and coconut flapjacks
The only slight problem came in the baking (I really need to get a new oven!). They took AGES to bake, and I think the recipe calls for a bit too much butter, because I could actually see it bubbling away in the tray – not something I’ve experienced with other flapjack recipes!

The mixture did harden upon cooling (thankfully), but there was a lot of liquid butter still in the bottom of the tray, and it kept oozing out of the flapjacks as they cooled – it was a bit like resting meat to prevent the juices from spoiling the plate!

Nevertheless, the flapjacks were delicious. They were very gingery and the coconut was in the background a bit – I think next time I would drastically reduce the amount of butter and add a little coconut cream to let the coconut compete a bit more with the ginger.

Ginger and coconut flapjacks
They went down well at work, at least, which is always a good sign!

Cinnamon buns

Cinnamon buns I don’t make anything bun-like very often. I think I’m sometimes put off by the amount of time required to make some really decent buns. However, I gave cinnamon buns a go the other week, and was pleasantly surprised by how straightforward they were (well, sort of – read on…), and how delicious they turned out to be!

I used Felicity Cloake’s recipe for the perfect cinnamon buns, as published in the Guardian. I was amazed at how much cardamom it calls for – I know cardamom is quite common in Scandinavian baking, but I’ve only ever used a tiny amount of it because it has such a big, aromatic flavour. I had to re-read the ’25 pods’ bit until I was certain that’s what she actually meant!

Cinnamon buns
I did resist the urge to use fewer pods and went the whole hog. She doesn’t specify the type of pod to use, but I assumed she meant green cardamom as opposed to the black-podded variety.

Cinnamon buns
The other slight stumbling block was the consistency of the dough. I wish I’d read the comments on the recipe before I started, because a few people said they’d found the dough very wet and difficult to work with. Et voila – I didn’t so much tip the dough on to the work surface as pour it on!

Cinnamon buns
I used the long edge of a large spatula to sort of gather it up on the work surface and gave it my best attempt at a knead where possible. It didn’t seem to come together than much, but it was a little better after the first rise (but still very wet!). Spreading the filling on the wet dough and rolling it up was, er, interesting!

The other thing to note is that the recipe doesn’t mention what to do with the beaten egg and demerara sugar – I brushed the egg onto the tops of the buns and sprinkled the sugar over them before sticking them in the oven.

Cinnamon buns
The final product was rather delicious, and very, very large (yay!). The wet dough made for a really fluffy texture, and the cardamom flavour was very, very strong – to the point where it overpowered the cinnamon, but in a nice way, because I love cardamom! The filling was a bit on the salty side for my taste, so I would omit/reduce the salt called for in the filling next time.

Cinnamon buns
I would recommend this recipe for anyone wanting to give cinnamon buns a go, but definitely bear in mind my comments above before you do…!

Review: afternoon tea at the Sculpture Hall Café, Manchester

It’s been a while since I’ve written a review! Happily, I’m back on it with two thumbs up for the wonderful Sculpture Hall Café in Manchester, where I went for afternoon tea as part of a day-long hen do in the city last weekend.

I knew I definitely wanted to do afternoon tea for my hen party, but I wasn’t sure where would be best to go. After a bit of Googling, I discovered the existence of a café within Manchester Town Hall, and knew it was the place to go after perusing its rather tempting Manchester-themed afternoon tea menu.

I do like a good ol’ traditional afternoon tea, but I’m just as keen on trying new twists on the sandwiches-scones-Victoria sponge composition of a standard afternoon tea. The Manchester theme was right up my street as it featured one of my favourite local creations – the Manchester tart, albeit in the form of a cake! I was in coconut heaven just thinking about it.

Firstly, the café itself. The Sculpture Hall Café occupies a neat little space on the ground floor of the town hall, just off a rather impressive corridor with some amazing architectural details. The café’s name comes from the number of busts and statues of famous local people placed around the space. The decor is lovely – all dark brown leather sofas and tastefully decorated walls, topped off with great views of Albert Square from the large windows.

We could choose from a standard afternoon tea or a champagne afternoon tea. This being my hen do, most of us went for the latter option! I was pleasantly surprised when we were served with small bottles of champagne rather than having a tiny amount of fizz poured out for us – I think someone worked out that each bottle was equivalent to a glass and a half of champagne.

Sculpture Hall Cafe afternoon tea
The food was beautifully presented on tiered stands. The order of the food on the tiers was a little different to what I’m used to – the savouries were on top, with the cakes in the middle and the scones on the bottom.

The savouries were excellent. I had a vegetarian version of the afternoon tea, so my options were cream cheese and cucumber on rye (not pictured because I only remembered to take photos after I’d scoffed it!), a mini carrot and cheese sandwich and a mini Lancashire cheese and leek tart topped with a little chutney. All of it was delicious, but the tart was probably my favourite (especially as there was a lovely cheese crisp embedded in it).

Sculpture Hall Cafe afternoon tea

Carrot and cheese sandwich + Lancashire cheese and leek tart

There was also some sort of choux filled with mushrooms, but as I’m not a fan of mushrooms, I left that to one side. The savouries were served alongside hummous, piccalilli and ham hock for the meat eaters, which could be spread on slivers of bread.

Then it was on to the scones, which were filled with a variety of dried fruit (I think cranberry featured quite heavily) and not as mini as the menu makes them sound! They were scrumptious, as were the mini Eccles cakes, which contained a heavily spiced filling dominated by ginger. Just beautiful!

Next, it was time for the middle tier, which featured the aforementioned Manchester sponge cake . The coconut sponge was one of the best I’ve ever had – buttery yet light at the same time, and complemented nicely by the rich buttercream and dab of jam in the middle.

Sculpture Hall Cafe afternoon tea

Top: Vimto delice and Manchester cake. Bottom: fruit scones and Eccles cakes.

However, it’s not often that something beats coconut in my culinary affections, but the Vimto delice ended up being my favourite. Imagine a thin layer of sponge covered with a dome of Vimto-flavoured mousse and covered with a quite frankly amazing, tart, jelly-like Vimto glaze… oof! It really was something special and the perfect end to the meal along with a nice cup of tea (and the last of the champagne).

Before I wrap up, I just want to stress how good value our afternoon tea was – it’s an incredible £12.50 per person for the standard afternoon tea and £19.95 with champagne. I’m used to seeing prices in the region of £15-20 without champagne and £25+ with champagne, so it was truly refreshing to see such low prices for brilliant quality food.

All in all, the Sculpture Hall Café was a wonderful discovery for us and provided one of the best afternoon tea experiences I’ve ever had (it’s probably only rivalled by Northcote). Excellent food, amazingly low prices, lovely staff and magnificent surroundings – perfect! I’ll definitely visit again.

Lemon yogurt muffins with strawberry jam filling

Lemon yogurt muffins with strawberry jam filling I seem to be gravitating towards lemon-based recipes a lot at the moment – it must be the onset of spring that’s making me crave some lovely lemony flavours. I made these lemon yogurt muffins with a strawberry jam filling on the spur of the moment, when I was feeling a bit stressed/sad and just needed the joy of baking to pull me out of it.

Lemon yogurt muffins with strawberry jam filling
They were really easy to make – I found a basic for the muffins online and just added the jam. I’ve made some adjustments to my recipe (at the end of this post), as I think the original recipe didn’t call for quite enough sugar, and the baking time could have been reduced – you can see from these pictures that my muffins are a bit browner than usual!

Lemon yogurt muffins with strawberry jam filling
Aside from that, these muffins really are deliciously tangy and nicely soft thanks to the yogurt. Definitely go for the full-fat stuff here – low-fat yoghurt just won’t cut it, I’m afraid! The jam adds some much-needed sweetness considering the low sugar content of the original recipe – the muffins could still do with a bit more sugar though! (Apologies to your dentist).

Lemon yogurt muffins with strawberry jam filling
Lemon yogurt muffins with strawberry jam filling recipe

Adapted from this recipe

Makes 12 muffins

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 240g full-fat yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 100ml vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 300g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • grated zest of 2-3 lemons
  • 60g strawberry jam (or another jam of your choice)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.
  2. Beat together the eggs, sugar, yogurt and oil in a large bowl.
  3. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt, then add the lemon and stir until just combined (do not overmix).
  4. Spoon half of the mixture into the muffin cases.
  5. Place a teaspoon of jam in the middle of each dollop of muffin mix in the cases.
  6. Spoon the rest of the mixture over the jam, making sure it’s well covered to prevent leaks.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden.
  8. Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Frosted walnut layer cake + peanut butter cookies + Oreo brownies

Frosted walnut layer cake No, I didn’t go on the baking bender to end all benders in one night. I made these three recipes – frosted walnut layer cake, peanut butter cookies and Oreo brownies – over the course of the last few weeks, but haven’t had a lot of time to blog about them what with planning a wedding, organising my hen do, training for a 10K and, of course, just normal everyday life!

I thought it would help to blog about all three recipes at the same time, rather than labouring over three separate posts. And, hey, you get to drool over even more baked goods than usual!

Mary Berry’s frosted layer cake

I made this cake (pictured above) for my fiancé, who has been begging me to bake it ever since it turned up in a technical challenge on last year’s Great British Bake Off. It was fairly challenging, so I can only imagine how difficult it is without a full recipe to follow!
Frosted walnut layer cake 2
This is basically three layers of walnut sponge sandwiched with a big pile of buttercream and smothered with an even bigger pile of icing. There’s so much sugar in this recipe – be warned if your teeth tingle at the merest hint of sweetness!

The icing was quite tricky, and didn’t seem to completely set (I can’t remember from the show whether it’s supposed to, though), but I was pleased with my caramelised walnuts. I think my favourite bit of the cake was the buttercream, to be honest!

You can find the recipe on BBC Food here.

Peanut butter cookies

Peanut butter cookies
I made these when I found myself without any baked goods in the house, which really isn’t a great situation to be in. The recipe is from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet. I followed it to the letter, using spelt flour rather than the other option of wholemeal, but added a chopped up Twirl (milk chocolate fingers for the international readers out there!) at the last minute, just for the hell of it.

The cookies were gorgeously peanutty, but also ridiculously sweet! I don’t know if that’s down to the brand of peanut butter I used (think it was the ultra cheap stuff from Asda), the addition of the chocolate, or because Dan really does call for too much sugar, but just be warned! I’d tone it down next time by reducing the overall amount of sugar from 325g to about 200g.

Peanut butter cookies
The texture was rather interesting – they weren’t soft like a traditional cookie, but had more of a biscuit-like crunch, and also had distinct layers, which I assume is down to the bicarb. You can find the recipe on the Guardian website here.

Oreo brownies

Oreo brownies
Finally, I made these Oreo brownies after almost a year of a colleague asking (begging!) me to make them. I made them a few days ago for his birthday, and I think I met expectations!

The recipe is just my usual brownie recipe, with a packet of roughly chopped Oreos thrown in:

Makes 16 brownies

  • 320g dark chocolate
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 125g dark brown sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 85g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 154g packet of Oreos, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/160C/140C fan. Grease and line a 20cm square tin.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a pan or in a bowl set above a pan of simmering water. Set aside and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk the eggs until pale then add the sugars and whisk again thoroughly.
  4. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.
  5. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and stir the Oreos in to coat.
  6. Add the flour and Oreo mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  7. Pour the mix into the tin and bake for about 1 hour, checking the brownies after 40 mins in case your oven is better than mine!
  8. Once the brownies look set on top, remove them from the oven and leave them in the tin to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing them up.