Making An Impression

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Wow! It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. Life just gets in the way sometimes, doesn’t it! I’ve never felt so time-poor and have even wondered myself whether I’d ever get back round to blogging. But blogging and baking are like an old flame, quietly burning away and waiting for the passion to be rekindled.

Still, time moves forward and with it the changing seasons bring irresistible gems… like blood oranges. Yum! I love blood oranges! They’re sweet with a slight bitter edge and have the most magnificently coloured flesh. Transformed into a smooth and tangy citrus curd and coupled with a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth biscuit, these cookies are the ideal way to celebrate another season of beautiful blood oranges and my return to the blog.

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Blood Orange & Poppyseed Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients
~ For the blood orange curd. Makes around 300g
Zest & juice of 2 unwaxed blood oranges
100g caster sugar
A pinch of fleur de sel or sea salt
100g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
4 medium egg yolks

Method
Place the blood orange zest and juice, sugar, salt and butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Heat until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool slightly.

Add the egg yolks to a mixing bowl and whisk until they start to turn pale and thicken slightly. Add a small amount of the blood orange mixture to the egg yolks and whisk it in. Gradually add the remaining blood orange mixture, then transfer it to the saucepan and return it to a low heat, whisking continuously until it thickens and a couple of bubbles escape. This could take 10-15 minutes, but don’t be tempted to stop whisking otherwise it will curdle.

Pass the curd through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and cover with cling film. Make sure the cling film comes into contact with the surface if the blood orange curd to prevent it from forming a thick skin on top. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Transfer to a sterilised jar and store in the fridge for up to a week.

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~ For the cookies. Makes 20
15g poppyseeds
15ml full-cream/whole milk
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature  75g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 egg yolk
150g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
75g blood orange curd

Method
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius/ 340 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking trays with baking parchment.

Add the poppyseeds and milk to a small mixing bowl and leave to soak for 15-20 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and mix until thoroughly combined. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into the butter mixture and mix until just combined, then stir in the milk and poppyseeds and gently bring the dough together.

Roll the cookie dough into 3-4cm balls and place on the baking trays 5cm apart. Gently flatten each cookie until around 2cm thick and indent the middle with your thumb. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and using the end of a wooden spoon, gently press down on the indent to make it slightly deeper. Add 1/2 teaspoon of blood orange curd to the centre of each cookie, rotate the tray and bake for a further 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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Two Nicholas Cake (Pistachio Sponge with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting)

Pistachio 1

With my younger brother still recovering from a serious car accident and long days at work, I’ve hardly spent much time baking recently… and even less blogging! I’ve missed it. I love to give my blog the attention it deserves, but it’s important to remember that people are always much more deserving of our attention. My Opa (Nicolaas) recently celebrated a birthday, and my younger brother (Nicholas) recently came home for the first time since his accident. Both occasions were celebrated with a rich, decadently dressed pistachio sponge cake covered in honey cream cheese frosting and seasonal fruit – which I’m calling a Two Nicholas Cake in their honour… Two of the best damn Nicholas’s the world has ever seen! I love them to bits!

Pistachio 2

Ingredients
~ for the sponge
125g shelled pistachios
300g lightly salted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
300g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 large, free-range eggs
225g self raising flour

~ for the sugar syrup
50g golden caster sugar
50ml water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

~ for the icing
300g icing sugar
75g lightly salted butter, at room temperature
200g cream cheese, cold
1 heaped tablespoon of Australian honey
An assortment of fresh fruit to decorate – I’ve used figs, muscatel grapes and sugar plums

Pistachio 4

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius/340 degrees Fahrenheit and line three 6″/15cm round cake tins and one baking tray with baking parchment.

Roast the pistachios nuts for 7-8 minutes on the baking tray, then set aside to cool. Place the nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Weigh out 25g and set them aside for decorating the cake.

To make the sponge, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of a freestanding mixer using the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs and mix until fully combined. Add the flour and mix until just combined, then fold through the pistachio nuts until evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack.

To make the sugar syrup, heat the sugar and water over a high heat until it comes to the boil. Set aside to cool slightly, then add the vanilla extract.

While the cakes are still warm, poke holes in each sponge with a toothpick and brush with the sugar syrup. Leave the cakes to cool, ideally wrap them in foil and leave at room temperature overnight, then trim the tops and halve each sponge, giving you six layers.

When you’re ready to assemble the cake, make the icing by placing the icing sugar and butter in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and whisking slowly until you have a sandy consistency. Add the cream cheese and mix on a high speed for a minute or two (don’t over mix your icing or it will go slack). Mix in the honey and then sandwich each layer of the sponge together with a portion of the icing. Cover the cake in the remaining icing and decorate with pistachio nuts and fresh fruit.

My cheeky little helper, my beautiful niece, Paige
My cheeky little helper, my beautiful niece, Paige

Welcome to the Streets of Barangaroo

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Sydney’s latest foodie haunt is as hot as the chicken dished up by Belle’s Hot Chicken, who are just one of the pop-ups calling the Streets of Barangaroo home for the next 9 months.

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When Copenhagen’s famous Noma restaurant moves to Sydney’s new Barangaroo development in early 2016, it will be in good company. The Wulugul pop-up is a new outdoor-canteen style food and drink hub located along the foreshore of Barangaroo.

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Among the new kids on the block is Gin&It, a small bar with an enormous range of gin from across the globe. If you’re a gin drinker, you can’t miss an opportunity to sample their encyclopaedic catalogue of gin, and if you’re not very fond of gin (like me), it might surprise you. Their gin cocktails developed exclusively for Barangaroo are exquisite and have me rethinking my aversion to gin. A particular favourite of mine of was the Aviation (gin with maraschino liqueur, crème de violette and lemon juice served with a glacé blueberry) and the Coriandrum (apple wood smoked gin with a celery & coriander liqueur and lemon juice).

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Mamak is already well known in Sydney for its Malayasian street food. Their satay chicken skewers, roti flatbreads and vegetable curries are bursting with flavour and have a comfortable undercurrent of heat.

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Specialty coffee roasters and winners of TimeOut Sydney’s best cafe for 2015, Edition Coffee Roasters, are serving up some of the finest single origin coffee you’ll ever taste. Artfully roasted according to the characteristics present in each batch of beans rather than to suit a particular style of drink (most roasters will roast their beans to suit espresso or filter, etc.), these guys take coffee to another level. The single estate Colombian the boys had on the night of the Wulugul launch was probably the first Columbian brew I’ve ever tasted that didn’t have chocolate or cherry in the flavour profile, instead it was light and zesty with a very clean mouth-feel and a hint of gooseberry. Amazing!

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RivaReno Gelato will be keeping Wulugul foodies cool over the summer. Their silky smooth gelato is made using milk imported all the way from the Stura Valley in Italy for an authentic gelato experience. And in case you’re thinking it doesn’t get any better than that, it’s then thickly coated in rich, single origin Valrhona chocolate with a crunch that echoes through your head as you bite into it.

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The star of the show is definitely Belle’s Hot Chicken, an American style eatery from Melbourne. Their fried chicken ranges in heat from mild to actually-made-my-sister’s-boyfriend-cry-it’s-so-hot (sorry Carrick)! This is pure comfort food. Belle’s tender and tantalisingly tasty fried chicken is accompanied by the ideal chip (soft and fluffy in the middle, crunchy on the outside), pickles and an assortment of sides and sauces. Well worth queuing for.

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There aren’t many places in the world that compare to what’s on offer at Barangaroo. With breathtaking views of Sydney’s world famous harbour that only get better as the sun sets and the foreshore lights up with thousands of decorative lights, staying for another little bite to eat or enjoying another drink is almost compulsory.

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A heart of gold (Speculaas Molten Lava Cakes)

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I love being able to share what I bake with my family. It’s something I’ve not really done much of because I didn’t catch the baking bug until I moved to London in 2009. It’s a wonderful feeling, putting your heart and soul into making something for people you love and seeing them enjoy it, it makes you feel all warm and gooey inside… like a molten lava cake!

If I had to use a taste or smell to characterise my family, Speculaas would definitely be one of them. It’s sweet, warm and comforting, and reminds me of visits to my Oma & Opa’s house. But what makes this particular recipe extraordinarily special is that a few weeks ago my younger brother and I shared them for dessert the night before he was involved in a terrible car accident. We bonded over a familiar flavour, something we both grew up with, but tasted by each of us in a new way. So this recipe is dedicated to my amazing little brother, Nick, whom I love and adore, and who has a heart of gold.

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Speculaas Molten Lava Cakes

Ingredients
~ makes around 10 cakes

15g crushed Speculaas cookies, plus extra to decorate
120g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
100g white chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg, ginger & cardamom
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
100g brown sugar
50g golden caster sugar
60g plain flour, sifted
A pinch of sea salt

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Method
Lightly grease a 10-12 cup muffin tray and coat with Speculaas cookie crumbs.

In a heatproof bowl set over gently simmering water (Bain-Marie), melt the white chocolate and butter, then stir in the vanilla and spices. Set aside to cool slightly.

In the bowl of a freestanding mixer using the whisk attachment, mix together the eggs and egg yolks. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved, then pour in the butter mixture, flour and salt and whisk until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tray and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake the cakes for 10-12 minutes, or until they start to come away from the sides of the tin but still have a slight wobble in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes, then carefully remove the cakes from the tin and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or custard and a sprinkling of Speculaas cookie crumbs.

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10,560 miles later… (Meyer Lemon Heaven)

Meyer lemon cloud cookies

It’s been a busy month. It’s no easy feat packing up all your worldly belongings (especially when your kitchen is as busy with kitchenware as a cookshop) and moving to the other side of the globe. In fact, the bulk of my kitchen is still in transit and so I’m feeling rather encumbered at the moment. There’s also the challenge of finding my way around a much changed Sydney and discovering all the places that sell the specialty products I love to accumulate, so I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled across a stash of Meyer lemons at the Sydney Sustainable Markets last Saturday morning.

Meyer lemons are one of the things that have evaded me and my baking to date. I’ve been wanting to try these golden beauties for a long time, fascinated by Martha Stewart’s obsession with them. Although they’re a lemon, they taste almost like an orange; beautifully sweet and summery. Meyer lemons are prized for the abundance of highly fragrant oils found in the skin, it’s the most glorious, heady citrus scent. So like a kid in a candy store, I excitedly filled my tote bag with these fabulous fruits… which in retrospect just wasn’t enough. You’ll find me back at the market this weekend, buying them by the bucketload!

A Sydney local enjoying the winter sun
A Sydney local enjoying the winter sun

Meyer Lemon Cloud Cookies
Ingredients
~ makes approximately 30 cookies

130g unsalted butter, at room temperature
190g raw/granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 5 Meyer lemons
Pinch of sea salt
2 large, free-range eggs
250g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
50g icing sugar

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

In the bowl of a freestanding mixer using the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer), cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Mix in the lemon zest and a pinch of sea salt. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until fully combined. Sift the flour and baking powder together and gently mix into the butter mixture until just combined.

Sift the icing sugar into a clean bowl. Roll the cookie dough into walnut sized pieces (roughly a tablespoon) and roll each one in the icing sugar. Place on the baking tray around 5cm apart and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies start to brown around the edges. Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container or biscuit tin for up to a week.

Meyer lemon cookies

Ruby Red Rhubarb & Rose Bakewell Tart

I love Bakewell tarts. Proper Bakewell tarts, that’s is, not those crummy shop-bought, factory-made excuses for a Bakewell tart. A proper Bakwell is full of velvety frangipane, a generous layer of rich jam and a delightfully flaky pastry… they are strictly a fondant-free zone! A proper Bakewell tart needs to live up to its name.

Sadly I’ve not yet visited the English town of Bakewell, but what I imagine it to be is a haven for tea time treats and old English charm. In reality, the town gets its name from a man called ‘Badeca’ and an old English word for stream, ‘wella’. But it seems to me that Bakewell was fated to deliver one of the world’s best baked goods. My interpretation of the Bakewell tart uses strawberry jam and rose kissed rhubarb, whose crimson hues peek out from beneath a scattering of flaked almonds and the buttery frangipane.

Bakewell 1

Rhubarb, Rose & Strawberry Bakewell Tart

Ingredients
~ For the pastry

120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
60g icing sugar
A pinch of salt
2 medium egg yolks
220g plain flour

~ For the filling
150g rhubarb
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp rose extract
1 tsp water
150g strawberry jam
200g butter
200g caster sugar
A few drops of almond extract
2 medium eggs
200g ground almonds/almond meal
50g self-raising flour
50g flaked almonds
Icing sugar to decorate

Bakewell 2

Method
To make the pastry, beat the butter, icing sugar and salt together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated. Stir in the flour until just combined (or I like to gently mix it in with my fingertips), then wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least an hour (preferably overnight).

When your dough is ready, take it out of the fridge 20 minutes before you want to use it to allow it to come to room temperature. Roll it out between two pieces of cling film until it is 3-5mm thick. Line the base of a 10″/25cm tart tin with baking parchment, then line the tin with the pastry and chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

To make the filling, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the rhubarb into 7-8cm pieces. Place the rhubarb in a small baking tray and sprinkle with caster sugar, rose extract and water. Bake for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool down.

To make the almond frangipane, place the butter, caster sugar and almond extract in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and beat until light and fluffy using the paddle attachment*. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated. Fold in the ground almonds/almond meal and self-raising flour until just combined. Cover the base of the pastry case with strawberry jam and dollop the almond mixture on top. Even out the mixture using a spatula or palette knife, then place the rhubarb on top, followed by the flaked almonds. Bake for 30 minutes, then cover with foil to prevent the almonds from burning and bake for a further 15-20 minutes.

Allow the tart to cool completely, then remove it from the tin and dust it with icing sugar. Keep in the fridge for up to a week.

* If you don’t have a freestanding mixer, use an electric beater with the whisk attachments.

Bakewell 3

Put your honey where your mouth is (with a slice of Honey & Cinnamon Cake)

It takes 12 worker bees their entire life to produce 1 teaspoon of honey for harvest
It takes 12 worker bees their entire life to produce 1 teaspoon of honey for harvest

Honey bees are the only insect in the world that produce food eaten by humans, and honey is the only food to contain all the components needed to sustain life (vitamins, minerals, enzymes and water). Honey is also the only food to contain the antioxidant “pinocembrin”, which is associated with enhanced brain function, making honey one of nature’s most unique superfoods.

What I love most about honey is the diversity of flavour and its versatility in cooking and baking. Honey is one of nature’s miracles, and what better way to celebrate it than with a delicious, warming Honey & Cinnamon Cake.

To find out more about honey and honey bees, visit Fine Foodies magazine and read my column Put your honey where your mouth is on page 28 of the Summer 2015 issue.

Honey & Cinnamon Cake
Honey & Cinnamon Cake

Ingredients
~ for the sponge

200g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp floral honey
4 medium, organic free-range eggs (at room temperature)
200g self-raising flour

~ for the sugar syrup
50g golden caster sugar
50ml water

~ for the buttercream icing
200g icing sugar, sifted
120g butter, softened
1 tsp floral honey
2 tbsp whole/full cream milk
1 tsp bee pollen, to decorate
1 tbsp floral honey, to decorate
6 fresh physalis, to decorate (optional)

Method
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two 6″/15cm round tins with baking parchment.

In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, add the butter, caster sugar, ground cinnamon and honey and mix together with the paddle attachment until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and make sure it’s all mixed together evenly. One by one, add each egg until fully combined. If the mixture starts to curdle, add some of the flour. Once you have a smooth, even mixture, add the flour in batches and mix until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and even out the surface. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until it starts to come away from the edges and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

While the sponge is in the oven, make your sugar syrup by combining the caster sugar and water in a small pot over a medium heat. Slowly bring it to the boil, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

When your cake is baked, allow it to cool in the tin for around 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Using a toothpick, poke holes in the sponge and then brush it with the sugar syrup. Ideally you want to wrap your sponge in foil and let it rest overnight before cutting and assembling it, but if you don’t have time, wait for it to cool completely before cutting.

When you’re ready to assemble the cake, make your buttercream icing by placing the icing sugar and butter in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and slowly mix them together using the whisk attachment until you get a sandy consistency. Add the honey to the mixture, then gradually add the milk. Mix on a high speed for a few minutes until it’s light and fluffy.

Trim the top of each sponge so they’re even, then halve them horizontally. Place the bottom sponge on a plate, cake stand or cake board and spread 1/4 of the buttercream icing on it, making sure to go right to the edge of the sponge. Place the second sponge layer on top and repeat until you get to the last layer. Top the cake with the remaining buttercream icing, then smooth the icing around the sides so you get a thin, sparse layer around the outside. Decorate with the bee pollen, honey and fresh physalis. Serve at room temperature.

Better than a pot of gold, honey is nature's most delicious treasure
Better than a pot of gold, honey is nature’s most delicious treasure

First time fishing & an all-too-easy Mackerel & Rhubarb Ceviche

Rhubarb, Ginger & Mackerel Ceviche
Rhubarb, Ginger & Mackerel Ceviche

While I refine the Bakewell tart recipe I had hoped to have on here by now (it’s not quite right yet… a couple of adjustments and it’ll be perfect!), here’s a quick recipe for a mackerel ceviche that’s wonderfully easy to make and super tasty!

I’ve really got into the ceviche scene recently. It’s such a beautiful way to eat seafood, especially in summer. It’s refreshing, light and keeps the house cool because you don’t need to use the stove or oven to cook the meat. Mr Brown and I went deep-sea fishing for the first time yesterday and we caught two very beautiful mackerel (and four whiting! Well done us!). Ceviche really captures the freshness of seafood, so if you’re catching your own fish and want to make the most of having it that fresh, ceviche is the way to go.

Freshly caught mackerel
Freshly caught mackerel

Ingredients
2 mackerel, filleted and pin boned, with skin on
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
50g rhubarb, thinly sliced
1 long red chilli, de-seeded and thinly sliced
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
A handful of coriander, roughly chopped
A small handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
75g tortilla chips, to serve

Method
Dice the mackerel fillets into 1cm pieces. Add the mackerel, lemon juice and orange juice to a mixing bowl, making sure the mackerel is completely covered with juice. Mix in the rhubarb, chilli and ginger, then leave to marinate for 5-10 minutes. The mackerel is ‘cooked’ when it becomes opaque.

Add the herbs, then season to taste and drain away any excess liquid. Serve on a bed of tortilla chips. Margaritas optional!

Deep-sea fishing off the Dorset coast
Deep-sea fishing off the Dorset coast

Nuts For Doughnuts

Gourmet doughnuts are hot property right now. Images of decadently dressed doughnuts are slathered across social media, and bakeries, restaurants and cafes are shamelessly sending their most extravagantly flavoured and decorated doughnuts down the culinary catwalk. I suppose when you think about it, doughnuts are a baker’s blank canvas – an enriched bread dough that’s usually fried, then filled, topped or dunked in any number of ways. They can be big or small, sweet or savoury (or both! Maple & bacon, anyone?), but one thing all good doughnuts have to be is fresh! This is the allure of homemade doughnuts… they don’t get any fresher than when you make them yourself, and my gourmet toffee apple doughnuts are the perfect home indulgence.

To find out more about the history of doughnuts and where to get the best in the UK right now, head to Fine Foodies Magazine and read my latest column ~ Rise of the Gourmet Doughnut (Page 26 ~ Spring 2015 issue)

Toffee Apple Doughnuts
Toffee Apple Doughnuts

Toffee Apple Doughnuts
~ makes 10 large doughnuts

Ingredients
For the dough
25ml whole milk
150ml water
35g unsalted butter
7g fast-action yeast
40ml warm water
50g caster sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 medium, free-range egg
315g plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
Vegetable oil for deep frying

Crème patissiere
180ml whole milk
70ml double cream
3 medium, free-range egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cornflour
45g caster sugar

Apple compote
1 large bramley apple (approx. 350g), peeled, cored and cut into 1cm pieces
25g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Toffee
100g caster sugar
25g water
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 tbsp golden syrup
Green or red gel food colouring, optional

Method
In a small bowl, mix together the warm water and yeast, and set aside for a couple of minutes until the yeast becomes frothy.

In a small saucepan over a medium heat, mix together the milk, water and butter. Heat until it just starts to bubble and steam escapes. Set it aside to cool until lukewarm. (Tip: Scalding the milk is an important step as the whey protein in milk can weaken gluten and kill the yeast, preventing it from rising properly. Scalding it deactivates the whey protein.)

Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, bring the dough ingredients together on a low speed, then scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Mix on a medium speed for 2 minutes, then shape it into a ball, cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place to prove for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size. While your dough is proving, you can make your crème patissiere and apple compote.

For the crème patissiere, start by heating the milk and cream together in a saucepan over a medium heat. As soon as the milk starts to boil, take it off the heat and set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla extract, cornflour and sugar until it becomes thick and pale. Add a small amount of milk to the egg mixture to bring it up to temperature. Gradually add the rest of the milk, then transfer the mixture to a clean saucepan over a medium-low heat. (Tip: Be careful not to heat it too quickly otherwise you’ll end up with scrambled eggs!) Whisk constantly until it thickens and a couple of bubbles escape. As soon as you take it off the heat, pour it into a clean bowl and cover it with cling film (with the cling film right up against the crème patissiere). Once it has cooled slightly, put it in the fridge for at least an hour.

To make the apple compote, place all the ingredients in a small saucepan over a low heat. Cover it with a lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Leave to cool to room temperature.

On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 60-70g round balls. Cover them with a tea towel and leave to prove for a further 30 minutes.

Heat the oil to 175 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit and fry each doughnut for 3-4 minutes, turning them over halfway. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them on a sheet of kitchen roll/paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

Once the doughnuts have cooled completely, poke a hole in the side of each doughnut as a guide for the piping nozzle. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round tipped nozzle with the compote, and another with the crème patissiere. Fill each doughnut with an equal amount of the compote and crème patissiere. Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment and place the doughnuts on the trays, ready to cover in toffee.

To make the toffee, add the sugar and water to a saucepan over a high heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the vinegar, golden syrup and food colouring (if using). Using a candy thermometer, heat the sugar syrup until it reaches 140 degrees Celsius/285 degrees Fahrenheit (soft-crack stage). Working quickly and carefully, pour toffee over each doughnut and leave to set.

Doughnuts are best enjoyed within 24 hours of making.

Topped with toffee and filled with apple compote & crème pâtissière
Topped with toffee and filled with apple compote & crème pâtissière

Mango, Cranberry & Pistachio Muesli Bars

Mango, Cranberry & Pistachio Muesli Bars
Mango, Cranberry & Pistachio Muesli Bars

Both oats and coconut oil are a great source of energy. Oats are low-GI (glycaemic index), which means it keeps blood-sugar levels steady, encourages the body to burn fat, and keeps you feeling fuller and energised for longer. Similarly, the natural fat in coconut oil sustains energy release, and as the fatty acids are metabolised by the body differently to other fatty acids, the subsequent impact on the liver and brain can reduce the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. But do I really need a reason to tuck into what is, quite frankly, a delicious, tasty, satisfying and portable snack? Certainly not, but I must admit, it tastes just that little bit better when it’s guilt-free.

Muesli bars with a cheeky chocolate topping
Muesli bars with a cheeky chocolate topping

Ingredients
100g golden syrup
50g clear honey
50g coconut oil
30g unsalted butter
300g rolled oats
80g pistachios
40g dried mango
60g dried cranberries
15g sunflower seeds
20g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Method
Line a 20cm x 20cm (8″ x 8″) baking tin with baking parchment and pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius/340 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small saucepan, melt together the golden syrup, honey, coconut oil and butter. Set aside.

Roughly chop half of the pistachios and the dried mango. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the pistachios, mango, cranberries, sunflower seeds and oats. Add the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Firmly and evenly press the mixture into the tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until it starts to turn a light golden brown on top. Leave it to cool in the tin for around 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack.

While the muesli slab is cooling, set a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and place half of the chocolate in the bowl. Once the chocolate has melted, remove it from the heat and add the rest of the chocolate. Do not stir them together yet, leave it to sit for 5 minutes and then stir.

Drizzle the chocolate over the muesli slab and leave it to set. Cut it into squares and store in an airtight container.

Healthy & delicious fruit and nut muesli bars
Healthy & delicious fruit and nut muesli bars