Easter Nests

Easter doesn’t feel like Easter with out some nest cakes. They’re literally one of the easiest ‘bakes’ on the planet. Most recipes normally tell you to use rice krispies or cornflakes but I find that shredded wheat creates a better nest like effect! The mix of chocolate, drinking chocolate, butter and golden syrup is super tasty.

Ingredients:
Makes 12- 15 nests

  • 200 g Milk Chocolate 
  • 200 g Dark Chocolate 
  • 100 g Unsalted Butter
  • 100 g Golden Syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Drinking Chocolate
  • 150g Shredded Wheat 
  • 80g packet of Mini Eggs

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan add your butter, chocolate and golden syrup on a low heat until melted. Then stir in your drinking chocolate.
  2. Crush your shredded wheat into small pieces and then stir into your chocolate mixture.
  3. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Scoop your chocolate/shredded wheat mixture into little nest shapes and lay out on the tray, then add your mini eggs on top to decorate.
  4. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 5 hours.

Hot Cross Buns

Easter is coming up, which means warm, glossy hot cross buns are on the menu. My birthday is around Easter, and two years ago (my last pre-pandemic birthday *sigh*!) I went on a hot cross bun making class on my birthday at a cookery school in London where we learnt how to make the perfect hot cross bun. They’re worth making from scratch, I promise you’ll never buy a store bought version after this! They’re not too difficult to prep, plus your kitchen will smell amazing afterwards! You’ll need a piping bag for this recipe.

Ingredients:
Makes 6 buns

  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice powder (you can also use allspice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 5g salt
  • 5g fast-action dried yeast
  • 20g butter
  • 150ml whole milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 100g sultanas
  • olive oil, for greasing
  • 35g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup

Method:

  1. Mix the bread flour, sugar, mixed spice, cinnamon and lemon and orange zests in a bowl. Move this half of the mixture to one side of the bowl and then add the salt and yeast on the opposite side.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and warm the milk in a separate pan or in the microwave (until just warm/tepid).
  3. This step and step 4 can either be done by hand or using a stand mixer with a dough hook. Add the butter and half the milk to the dry ingredients, then add the egg and use your hands to bring the mixture together, incorporating the dry ingredients from the edges of the bowl as you do. Gradually add the remaining milk until you have a soft dough. You may not need all of the milk.
  4. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes and incorporate the sultanas and lemon and orange zest into the dough. The dough should be silky and elastic and form a smooth ball.
  5. Oil a large mixing bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. I usually warm up my oven for 3-5 minutes, turn the heat off and then place the bowl in there to prove.
  6. Divide the dough into 6 balls and line a baking tray with baking parchment and place on top, fairly close together and flattening them slightly. Cover in clingfilm and leave to prove again for 60 minutes until doubled in size.
  7. Preheat your oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7.
  8. For the ‘cross’ toppings for your buns, add your plain flour to a bowl with 50ml water. Mix together to make a paste and spoon into a piping bag. Pipe a cross on each bun.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes until pale golden-brown, turning the baking tray round halfway through if necessary.
  10. Melt the golden syrup in a pan and while the buns are still warm, brush the buns with the syrup to give them a shine and then leave to cool on a wire rack.

Japanese Soufflé Pancakes

A new yummy pancake recipe for you just in time for the big day tomorrow! These Japanese Soufflé Pancakes are extra fluffy and taste fab with any topping of your choice, I opted for maple syrup and a bit of butter.

What makes these different to your average pancake is that you basically have to make a meringue mixture which adds airiness to the pancakes. It’s a little more effort but worth it!

Ingredients:
(Makes 4 medium pancakes)
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites
30g plain flour, sifted
40g sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
20g whole milk
10g vegetable oil

Method:

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk your egg yolks, milk and vegetable oil (with a hand whisk) until light and foamy, this should take around 2-3 min.
  2. Add your flour and whisk again for another 2-3 mins.
  3. In a separate bowl add your egg whites and vinegar and whisk using an electric whisk. Gradually add in the sugar, you want the mixture to form stiff peaks.
  4. Using a spatula, scoop the egg white mixture, a spoonful at a time, into your other flour mixture and fold. Do not overbeat as you will end up with less than fluffy pancakes!
  5. Add a teaspoon of olive oil to a frying pan and use a paper towel to spread it across. Turn your hob on to the lowest heat and leave to warm up for 1-2 mins.
  6. Add scoops of your pancake mixture on to the pan (an ice cream scoop is perfect for this). Then cover your frying pan. After 4 minutes, the pancakes will be ready to flip. Turn them over and cover the pan again and cook for another 4 minutes.

Baileys Cupcakes

Valentine’s day is around the corner, so I’ve put together a recipe for the ultimate indulgent cupcake – a Bailey’s cupcake! The sponge is a rich Baileys-chocolate combo, and it’s topped with a decadent Bailey’s buttercream icing. It tastes pretty boozy, yet moist and fluffy at the same time. The Bailey’s flavour really comes through!

The batter is slightly more runny than your average cake batter, due to the large amount of Bailey’s in it, so don’t be alarmed if it seems a bit runny, it will cook just fine.

Ingredients:
Makes 12 cupcakes
Prep time: 25 minutes

For the cupcakes:

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 200ml Bailey’s
  • 3 eggs
  • 125g self raising flour, sifted
  • 50g cocoa powder, sifted

For the icing and decoration:

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 100ml Bailey’s
  • Handful of sprinkles of your choice

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C/160 Fan. Beat your butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add your eggs one at a time and beat again.
  2. Add your flour and cocoa powder and beat again until combined.
  3. Add your Bailey’s slowly, and beat until combined.
  4. Scoop your mixture into the 12 cupcake cases, they should all be equally filled to ensure an even bake.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, and check the cakes are cooked through. Leave to cool for roughly 30 minutes, until the cakes are no longer warm when you can add your icing.
  6. Prepare your icing by beating your butter until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and beat again, then add your Bailey’s a little at a time and continue to beat until combined.
  7. Top your cakes with the icing either using a piping bag or spreading it on top, then add your decorations. Store the cakes in a cool dry place to prevent the icing from getting too soft. I personally think they taste better kept out of the fridge!

Giant Jaffa Cake

This giant Jaffa cake is perfect for all Jaffa lovers! It really does look and taste like the real deal, and is fundamentally a large orange sponge covered with a layer of orange jelly and then a layer of chocolate. Delicious. I made this for my best friends birthday as she loves Jaffa cakes!

You’ll need a cake tin with a 23cm diameter and a small saucepan (with a diameter slightly smaller than 23cm)

Ingredients:

  • 67.5g orange jelly cubes (half of a standard pack)
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 eggs
  • zest of 1 orange and 1 tablespoon juice
  • 65g milk chocolate
  • 65g dark chocolate

Method:

  1. Line your cake tin with baking parchment and preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
  2. First prepare your cake. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk, until light and fluffy. Add your eggs one at a time and beat again until combined.
  3. Sift in your flour, orange zest and juice and fold the mixture together. Pour your mixture into your cake tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and cooked through (use a fork or spaghetti stick to check, if it comes out clean, it’s cooked!)
  4. Meanwhile, prepare your orange jelly according to the instructions on the packet. Pour your jelly into your small saucepan and leave to set in the fridge for 1-2 hours, until solid.
  5. Once you are ready to assemble your cake, melt your chocolate in a glass/heatproof bowl over a simmering saucepan of boiling water, stirring continuously so the mixture is smooth (you can also melt in the microwave on a low heat for 2-3 minutes, pausing to continuously stir). Leave your melted chocolate to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes before you assemble your cake.
  6. Carefully place your jelly mix on top of your cake. You can do this by placing the saucepan upside down over the cake and gently tapping it. This can be quite fiddly so be patient!
  7. Drizzle your melted chocolate over the jelly and cake and smooth over so it looks like a jaffa cake. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours, ideally overnight.

Chocolate dipped Pistachio Shortbread

Pistachio shortbread is such a great teatime treat, it’s buttery, crumbly, sweet and a little bit salty. Plus, this recipe is really easy and quick to make – it’s all made in one bowl so there’s minimal washing up and there’s no need to chill the dough in the fridge like other biscuit recipes.

Ingredients:
Makes 24 cookies
Prep time: 30 minutes

  • 230g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 280g plain flour
  • 100g shelled unsalted pistachios, finely chopped (in a food processor for ease)
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • pinch of sea salt

Method:

  1. Line two 9 inch circular cake tins with baking parchment, leaving a slight overhang so you can easily remove the shortbread, and preheat your oven to 160C.
  2. Using an electric whisk, beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy, for around 1 minute.
  3. Add the vanilla, salt and flour until combined.
  4. Stir in 65g of the pistachios until evenly spread through the batter.
  5. Divide your dough in half and place in the cake tins and press down with your hands or the back of a spoon, you want these to be nice and compact so that the shortbread doesn’t crumble.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes until lightly browned.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remove the shortbread from the pan and cut into 12 slices, as if you were slicing a pizza! I would save the baking parchment, as you can place your cookies on these after dipping in the chocolate.
  8. Bring a saucepan of water to boil and leave to simmer. Place your chocolate in a glass bowl on top to melt it, continuously stirring. Dip the edges of the shortbread in the chocolate and then immediately in the pistachios, sprinkle some sea salt on each cookie and leave the chocolate to set.

Christmas Rocky Road

Rocky road is one of my bakes that always goes down really well! It’s usually gobbled up in minutes whenever I put it out – which probably has something to do with the rich, buttery biscuit base and lots of chocolate. Yum. This time I’ve put together a rocky road with a Christmas twist, the biscuit base is a mix of warming ginger nut biscuits and digestives, plus a white chocolate drizzle for a snowy look.

I decorated mine with McVitie’s mini gingerbread men, and some christmassy sprinkles and M&Ms, but feel free to use any Christmassy decorations of your choice.

Ingredients:
Makes roughly 20-25 rocky road squares
Prep time: 25 minutes

  • 200g Dark Chocolate
  • 100g Milk Chocolate
  • 100g White Chocolate (this should be a ‘best for baking’ type of chocolate, to avoid curdling)
  • 100g mini marshmallows
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 80g digestive
  • biscuits
  • 80g ginger nut biscuits
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • A handful of Christmassy cake decorations
  • 50g M&Ms

Method:

  1. Line a square cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Melt your dark chocolate, golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over a low heat. 
  3. Place your digestive biscuits and ginger nut biscuits in a sandwich bag and smash with a rolling pin until the biscuits are around the size of 5p pieces. Add these to your saucepan and stir until all the biscuit pieces are covered in the chocolate mixture. Add half of the marshmallows to the mixture and stir so they are mixed together.
  4. Pour your mixture into your baking tray and pat down firmly with a wooden spoon. Add a few more marshmallows on the top but make sure there are still some left over for the topping.
  5. Bring a saucepan full of water to boil. Melt your milk chocolate in a glass bowl over the saucepan. Once melted, drizzle over your biscuit mixture in the cake tin, covering with a full layer of milk chocolate.
  6. Melt your white chocolate. Drizzle over your mixture in the cake tin to create a marbled effect.
  7. Add your cake decorations and M&Ms over the top. 
  8. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, until hard. 
  9. Cut your Rocky Road into small squares and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (if they last that long!!)

Chocolate Orange Checkerboard Cookies

Chocolate orange and Christmas go hand in hand for me. These checkerboard cookies are fun to make and look so pretty! Plus if you have a mini chess set you could probably play a game or two on these. They’re buttery biscuits that taste a bit like shortbread but with loads of flavour.

Ingredients:
Makes approx 25 cookies
Prep time: 3 hours (including chill time in the fridge)

  • 250g butter, at room temperature
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, plus one egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange food colouring (I find the ‘gel’ or ‘paste’ food colourings work best – I used Sugarflair)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 385g plain flour
  • 35g cocoa powder

Method:

  1. Beat together the butter and sugar, either with an electric whisk or stand mixer.
  2. Add in your egg, egg yolk, baking powder and salt and beat again. Add in your flour and beat until combined.
  3. Divide your dough in half and place in separate mixing bowls. Ideally weigh your mixture and divide accurately.
  4. To one mixture, add your orange food colouring and orange extract and beat until combined.
  5. To the second mixture, add your cocoa powder and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  6. Place both mixtures in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes, this is just to make the batter easier to handle ahead of the next few steps
  7. Shape each mixture into a rectangular log (roughly 5cm tall and 15cm long) and cover in cling film. Make sure the logs are the same size. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour (or the freezer for 30 minutes)

8. Using a sharp knife slice the dough into thirds, longwise. Then turn the dough one turn and cut into thirds again. You will have 9 strips. Repeat the process with the other dough. You will have 18 strips total.

9. Lay 1 piece of orange dough, one piece of chocolate, and another piece of orange on a flat surface next to each other. Top the 3 strips with alternating colours. Repeat this in 3 layers so you have a square log. Press the dough strips together tightly, keeping the square shape. Repeat this with the remaining dough, you will end up with 2 logs looking like the photo below. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge again for 30 minutes (or the freezer for 15 minutes)

10. Preheat your oven to 180c.
11. Slice your cookies into squares around 1.5cm thick and lay on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for 9-10 minutes.

Baileys Fudge

Bailey’s fudge is the ultimate Christmas fudge! It’s part chocolate, part Bailey’s (I put quite a lot in so each piece is quite boozy!). I love making fudge as a stocking filler for friends and family – they’re a great gift, or something nice to put on the dessert table. It really does take minutes to make, and stores well in the fridge for up to a month (if it lasts that long!) so it can easily be made ahead.

Ingredients:
Makes roughly 40-50 squares of fudge
Prep time: 10 minutes

  • 397g condensed milk (one can)
  • 600g chocolate (I used 300g dark and 300g milk but you can mix according to preference)
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 150ml Bailey’s

Method:

  1. Line a square baking tin with greaseproof paper. I used a 9in x 9in brownie tin which creates a decent depth for the fudge squares.
  2. Melt your chocolate and condensed milk on a low heat in a large saucepan, stirring continuously so it doesn’t stick to the pan.
  3. Once melted, add your Bailey’s and continue to stir. The liquid should start to be absorbed.
  4. Add your icing sugar and stir through.
  5. Pour your mixture into your tin and leave to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight so it’s easy to cut and not too sticky!
  6. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month.

Ferrero Rocher Cheesecake

This no-bake Ferrero Rocher cheesecake is SO easy to make, yet looks and tastes fairly decadent so is great as a Christmas showstopper! There’s a biscuit base, some crunchy Ferrero Rocher pieces inside the cream cheese mixture, and a dash of Nutella.

I recommend using a springform cake tin or a tin with a removable base for this recipe, it just makes it easier to handle.

Ingredients:
Prep time: 30 minutes (plus overnight chilling)
Serves 10

Biscuit base:

  • 350g digestive biscuits
  • 200g unsalted butter

Cheesecake filling:

  • 500g full fat cream cheese
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 250g Nutella
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 350ml double cream
  • 12 Ferrero Rocher, roughly chopped

Decoration:

  • 10 Ferrero Rocher

Method:

  1. Crush your digestive biscuits. The best way to do this is either in a plastic bag and a rolling pin, or you can use a food processor.
  2. Melt your butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Once melted, add your biscuit mixture and stir until evenly coated with butter.
  3. Line your cake tin (springform or with a removable base) with baking parchment. lay your biscuit mixture over the base and pat down with the back of a spoon until smooth and compact. Leave to chill in the fridge whilst you make your cheesecake filling.
  4. With an electric whisk, whisk your cream cheese, vanilla and icing sugar together until combined.
  5. Add the double cream, and whisk on a medium-high speed until the mixture is stiff.
  6. Fold in your chopped Ferrero Rocher gently. Pour over your biscuit mixture in the cake tin then leave to chill in the fridge overnight (or at least for 4-5 hours).
  7. Once chilled, remove the cake from the tin, and decorate with your Fererro Rocher. You could also drizzle some melted chocolate or Nuttella over the top!