Tag Archives: baking

Raspberry and Almond Cake and Cherry Bakwell mini-cakes

29 Jul

Pop the kettle on…

 

It’s been forever since I shared a recipe with you and I hope you aren’t too miffed. My time was swallowed, almost in it’s entirety, by my wedding which took place in June.  The last months have been hectic. There were playlists to compile, bunting to sew, table names to cross-stitch, vows to practice, flowers to pick, dresses to squeeze into, booze to buy, invites to post..  and thank goodness it was all worth it. What a day – I’m still on cloud nine. Following a mini-moon on the Isle of Wight, where the food was local, sustainable and delicious by the way, we’re in the middle of few weeks wait until we head off, in August, for a mega-moon roadtrip in the USA. It’s going to be epic… and very tasty. I’ll let you know what I eat!

In the meantime, here are a couple of easy recipes for cake that goes nicely with a cup of tea. The best kind of cake, right? I baked them this weekend in between walking my Godmother’s dog Lucy along with my Mum, Godmother and new husband (still feels weird) in the beautiful countryside; and after a long walk in the hills and sunshine this cake will recharge your batteries.

Almond and Raspberry Cake (serves 8 – 10)

You will need:

* 140g ground almonds   * 140g unsalted butter, soft   * 140g caster sugar   * 140g self-raising flour   * 2 large eggs   *1tsp vanilla extract   *250g raspberries   *2 tbsp flaked almonds

Lovely Lucy

To make:

1. Heat the oven to 180Oc/ 160Oc fan/ gas mark 4 and line a deep 20cm cake tin.  In a food processor, by hand or by a hand-held whisk combine the ground almonds, butter, sugar, flour, vanilla extract and eggs until well-combined.

2. Spread half of the mix over the cake tin and smooth over the top.  Scatter the raspberries over the mixture and then dollop the remaining cake mixture on top and spread to cover the fruit. I used my fingertips to do this.

3. Scatter flaked almonds on top of the cake and then bake for about 50 minutes or until the cake is golden and doesn’t wibble if you shake the tin.  Cool and remove from the tin. Enjoy.

 

Cherry and Almond Mini-cakes (makes about12)

* 60g ground almonds   * 75g butter   * 75g sugar   * 75g self-raising flour   * splash of milk   * 2 large eggs   * a couple of handfuls of glace cherries   * small splash of vanilla extract   *12 flaked almonds (optional)

Dinky little cake.. so why stop at one?

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190OC/ 170oC fan and pop your paper cases on a tray.  Combine the flour, ground almonds, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, milk and butter and whizz with an electric whisk, by hand or in a food processor.

2. Tip the finely chopped glace cherries into the mixture and give it a nice stir before dolloping the cake mixture evenly into the cake cases.

3. Pop in the oven for around 10-15 minutes until the cakes are golden, have risen and are springy but cooked through.  Leave to cool or heat whilst still warm with a cool glass of milk or a big mug of tea.

 

Recipe: Catherine Berwick’s Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake

27 Mar

The new carrot cake?

It’s been a while since I’ve been here to say hi and I can only apologise profusely and point my finger of blame at all the wedding planning which has consumed my life for the last, um, year.. but I could write a whole blog* on that so I shall just move on quickly to a rather unusual cake I made for a friend’s birthday which I think you should try.

When I served it to guests I asked them all to guess what it was.. “it’s fruity”, it’s got “nuts in it”, “I can taste the maple syrup” the adoring crowds replied. But none of them could have guessed it was a cake made of parsnip! And lo I laugh like a maniacal loon… but seriously, it was really unusual, very moist and sweet. As ever I found it on the unimpeachable Good Food website and they billed it as the new Carrot Cake. (Not that I think there is A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G wrong with the old Carrot Cake!)

To buy:

*175g butter, and extra for greasing   *250g demerara sugar   *100ml maple syrup   *3 large eggs   *250g self-raising flour   *2 tsp baking powder   *a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon  *250g parsnips, peeled and grated   *1 medium apple, peeled, cored and grated   *50g pecans, roughly chopped   *zest and juice of one small orange   *icing sugar to serve   *250g mascarpone   *3-4 tbsp maple syrup

To make:

Golden Brown, texture like sun.

1. Heat the oven to 180Oc/ 160Oc fan/ gas 4 and grease 2 x 20cm round tins.

2. Melt the butter, sugar and maple syrup in a pan over a gentle heat and then cool slightly.

3. Whisk the eggs in the mixture, then stir in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, followed by the grated parsnip, apple, chopped pecans, orange zest and juice.

4. Bake for around 30 minutes or until the sponges are cooked through and springy to touch.

5. Cool the cakes for a while in their tins before turning out onto wire racks and cooling entirely.

6. Just before serving, blend the marscapone and the maple syrup, spread onto one sponge and then sandwich the cake. Sprinkle with icing sugar. EAT.

* My friend and fellow-bride-to-be Laura and I were going to do a wedding blog called “Right Said Wed” but needless to say we’re too lazy and busy planning the shin-digs right now! Oh what could have been..

Coca Cola Cake

26 Jul

It's the real thing

Because I’m off on a Deep South roadtrip in a few week’s time (calling at Atlanta – the home of Coke, Savannah, Charleston, Charlotte to watch NASCAR, a night in the Smoky Mountains, Nashville, Memphis, Clarksdale, Natchez, New Orleans, a little town in Alabama and then back to Atlanta!) where I will be pulling much pork and sipping sweet cola; I decided tonight to bake my first ever Coca Cola cake.

I baked it, however, for Josh to take to work where they are holding a bake-sale to raise money for the DEC East African famine appeal and so I am yet to try it and decide whether or not it is tasty… fingers crossed.  I will let you know how it goes!

To buy (for one cake and at least six cupcakes):

Cake – *125g unsalted butter (and some to grease the tin)   *250g self-raising flour   *200ml Coca-Cola   *3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda   *1 tbsp cocoa, sifted   *300g golden caster sugar   *2 medium eggs   *125ml buttermilk   *1tsp vanilla extract     Icing – *3 tbsp Coca-Cola   *50g unsalted butter   *1tbsp cocoa, sifted   *225g icing sugar, sifted    Topping – *stars

1. Grease a couple of tins or 1 tin and pop a few cupcake cases in a tin whilst you bring the cola to the boil with the butter, and once this has melted stir in the bicarbonate of soda, which will fizz.  Set aside for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 190Oc/ 170Oc fan/ Gas mark 5.  Combine the flour, cocoa and sugar in a large bowl, add the coke mixture and beat until smooth.  Whisk the eggs with the buttermilk and vanilla extract, then whisk this into the cake base.  Transfer the mixture into the prepared tin and give it a couple of taps to bring up any bubbles.

3. Bake for around 35 minutes, or until the cake has risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Run a knife around the egde of the cake tin, pop onto a rack and allow to cool completely.

4. To make the icing, place the cola, butter, and cocoa into a small saucepan and bring to the boil, whisking until smooth, then stir in the icing sugar.  It sets very quickly so carefully drizzle over the cakes before decorating as you like.

Let’s hope that this sweet and sticky cake raises oodles of money for a very worthy cause.

Recipe: Cherry Oat Cookies

19 Feb

Chewy goodness

I don’t know about you but as much as I adore sunny days, with their endless blue skies and the smell of suncream in the air, I get a secret thrill about waking up seeing rain beads on the window and heavy, mean clouds and knowing that if I want to, I really don’t have to leave the house. Or even my PJs.

Well, it’s been raining cats and dogs today.  All day.  So doing anything especially energetic really has not been an option.  Instead I’ve read a little, bopped to old records, watched Treme and, of course, I’ve donned my pinny.

I have a baking nemesis and have used this rotten day to take him on. For years now I have been unable to master the way of the biscuit. Mine ALWAYS seem to end up hard when they should be chewy and dense when they should be light. No more. No more.

This recipe makes 18 chewy , oaty – vaguely healthy – cookies in under an hour.

To buy:

* 250g unsalted butter, softened   *50g caster sugar   *100g light muscovado sugar   *150g self-raising flour   *225g porridge oats   *200g glace cherries *50g raisins or sultanas

Hot n fresh out the kitchen

To make:

1. Preheat the oven to 180Oc/ gas 4/ fan 160Oc and either line 3 baking sheets with baking parchment or just one and bake the cookies in batches.

2. In a big bowl beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.

3. Stir in the sieved flour and oats and mix up well.

4. Roughly chop up three quarters of the cherries and stir them, along with the remaining whole cherries and the raisins into the cookie dough.

5. Divide the mix into three.  Each third of the mixture can then be divided into six balls. Space the balls far apart on the baking tray and lightly flatten with your fingertips. Don’t fret about the balls looking at all neat.

6. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes. They will be browned around the edges but pale and golden and slightly gooey in the centre.

Resistance is futile

7. Remove from the oven and cool on the sheet for about five minutes. Very carefully, using a palette knife, pop the cookies on a wire rack and leave to cool. Or if you’re a greedy monster like I am, eat them whilst they’re still piping hot with a glass of ice cold milk.

 

 

 

Recipe: Custard and Nutmeg Yo Yos

6 Feb

"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me" - C. S. Lewis

Sunday afternoons are pretty perfect.  Perfect for strolling around the park arm in arm with a lover, laughing in the pub with friends, for watching 80s kids movies with freshly popped corn, loosening trousers after a roast, for working through an HBO box set and drinking buckets of tea… but tea needs biscuits; and so I donned my pinny to bake a batch of Yo Yos.

Not all of them could be gobbled up this afternoon (when I will jump back into my PJs and watch more episodes of X Files – hot dang I want to be Special Agent Scully when I grow up) as they are, in the main, a welcome bake for my new boss who starts in the office tomorrow. But I did manage to have a modest, OK giant, bite of Josh’s allocated Yo Yo and it was buttery, short and melt-in-the-mouth. Just watch the crumbs if you eat them in bed…

To Buy:

*150g unsalted butter, softened   *40g icing sugar, sieved   *2 tbsp custard powder   *165g plain flour   *1 nutmeg or a big tsp of dried nutmeg.  For the Filling: *80g unsalted butter, softened   *75g icing sugar, sieved   *2 tbsp custard powder

 

"All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes" - George Orwell

To make:

1. Cream the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy. Sieve the custard powder and flour together, then mix into the creamed butter. Stir through the nutmeg if you are using dried nutmeg, otherwise you will grate it on before you bake the biscuits.

2. Roll the dough into a sausage shape, approximately 4cm in diameter, and wrap it tightly in clingfilm. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm, whilst you Preheat the oven – to 170C/150C fan/ 325F/gas 3 – then slice into 24 slices and lay them on a baking tray lined with lightly greased baking paper.

3. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until pale golden. Then, carefully using a palette knife, remove from the tray and leave to cool on a wire rack.

4. For the filling, cream the ingredients together until light and fluffy. You might want to add a dash of milk so that the icing is extra smooth and shiny.

5. When the biscuits are cool sandwich them together with the custard cream. They can keep for about three days in an airtight tin.

Will make 12 biscuits.  Recipe – Marcus Wareing.

Guilty Pleasure: cakes that make you go “oooohh!”

31 Jan

Crack Fox Cake

It is not exactly a secret that I love cake.  I think the news may just –  just – have slipped out.  But this is not a shameful confession, this is no love behind-closed doors, this blog post shouldn’t really be titled “Guilty Pleasure”…  because we can all love cake.  Whether it’s the shop-bought Jamaican Ginger cakes that I used to scoff with lashings of Birds custard or the first fairy cakes that I baked with my granny, birthday cakes with candles I found impossible to blow out, or a hefty slice of victoria sponge and a piping hot cup of tea on a tiring day out, cake, for me, is kind of a big deal.

But not all cakes are baked equal.  Whilst I love them all, pretty much, there are some that inspire the same cooing noises as bonfire night fireworks and the same longing stares as a picture of Robert Pattison biting his lip and looking moody.  These are cakes that practically force you to go “oooooooh” and I adore them.

Here are three examples of cakes that made me gasp, one of which, excuse me for blowing my own trumpet, I baked myself.  The first cake was baked by friend and natural-born-foodie Laura, for a birthday bonanza and is of course, the crack fox from Mighty Boosh. And just who wouldn’t love a crack-fox for their special day? It is hard to explain quite how big this cake was, just how gorgeous it smelled or how perfect the sugar craft is.  Laura, I applaud you, you are a chef-extraordinaire.

These woolly little cakes may not taste entirely amazing but WOW!  They are so cute and so inviting.  They were knitted for me by Mother-in-Law-to-be, Leonie, and every single time I see them they make me smile.  Each cake is different and perfect in it’s own way – complete with a knitted cherry and knitted hundreds and thousands.  Utter, wonderful, knitted yumminess.

Woolly cakes

The only possible downside of having these woolly cupcakes in my lounge is that they remind me, on a daily basis, that I am a shockingly bad knitter and it has taken me two years and counting and I still haven’t finished knitting my fiancé’s scarf.  Not that he’d ever want to wear such an itchy, holey old rag, but still!

And finally, this tower of chocolate psychedelia is a cake I baked for my boss’s leaving do last Friday.  It was pretty tall, a bit odd and covered in all manner of chocolate drops, sprinkles and giant buttons and once cut revealed rainbow layers of e-number ridden sponge.  From carrying it into work and hearing passers-by yell: “nice cake love!” to the grinning school boy who sat next to me on the bus and gave me a would-you-mind-awfully-if-I-had-a-teeny-bite-smile the cake was giving off oooh and aaaahhh vibes all day long.  It even helped spawn a new word – a cake-o-tunity: an oppurtunity to eat cake – a wonderful word if ever there was one.

Have you got a cake that always makes you swoon? Have you been baked a cake as trippy as the crack fox?  Is there anyone in the world who doesn’t love Jamaican Ginger Cakes? Seriously?

ker-razy cake.

Recipe: Mango, Banana and Coconut Cake

5 Dec

Totally tropical

When a couple of friends came round for dinner last night I decided to attempt a Thai-inspired menu, instead of just throwing together an incoherent mess of flavours, and hoping I could call it “fusion” and that this would cut the mustard.  This, I can only think, is progress. So after we had scoffed ginger and garlic chicken skewers with satay sauce and hoovered up a beef massaman curry I served up a mango, banana and coconut cake for puds.

By the time we got round to this part of dinner I was so food-drunk that I could barely breath, let alone taste the cake, but on further inspection (a slice with a cuppa today to recover from decorating our new Christmas tree) it turns out it was rather good.

Packed full of fruit and incredibly moist, I rather like the idea of getting some of my five-a-day this way.  I asked my boyfriend for a review and he said that it was both: “Somewhere between sweet and savoury” and “an interesting taste, ’cause of the mango I presume”  and I can’t argue with that.

The key I think is in the ripeness of the fruit – for a lipsmacking flavour, a juicy soft texture and to make the whizzing up of the ingredients an easy process. So it would be perfect for bananas that you have that are just about to turn. It should make about 10 decent slices.

To buy:

* 1 medium ripe mango   *2 ripe bananas   *1 tsp vanilla extract   *225g butter, softened   *140g light muscovado sugar   *2 eggs, beaten   *50g dessicated coconut   *225g self-raising flour   *half a teaspoon of bicarb of soda   *a pinch of nutmeg   For the filling:   *200g full-fat soft cheese   *2 tsp lemon juice   *25g icing sugar (plus extra for dusting).

To make:

1. Preheat the oven to 160Oc/ gas mark 3/ fan oven 140Oc and grease two 20cm/8inch sandwich tins.

Will make your man-go wild.

2. Peel, stone and chop your mango and then purée the flesh (if you’re making this in a rush you might want to get a few slices of chopped mango so that it is soft enough).

3. Mash the bananas and mix in half the mango purée and the vanilla extract.

4. Beat together the butter and sugar until it is creamy and light, then add the beaten eggs slowly.

5. Stir the banana mixture and the coconut into the mixture and then sift the flour and bicarb in and fold lightly.

6. Divide the mixture between two tins and bake for half an hour or so – until the sponge is firm but springy.  Cool in the tins for a while and then pop them onto a wire rack and leave to cool entirely.

7. Meanwhile beat the cream cheese, lemon juice and icing sugar together (I always use an electric whisk for this) until it makes thick peaks in the bowl.  Stir the remaining mango into the icing gently.

8. Finally, spread one cake with the mixture and then pop the other one on top.  Dust lightly with  icing sugar and relax with a self-satisfied grin.

Recipe: Carrot Cake

19 Sep

24 Carat-Cake

Making this carrot cake for a colleague’s afternoon tea, I got to thinking about office-life. The good, the bad and if not the ugly, then the tedious.  Sure, work can be annoying: from the shrill alarm call on a Monday morning after a brazen booze-fest on Sunday night, dealing with the David Brentoids that populate every company on earth, to the indignity of sharing bathrooms with your colleagues and all of the ensuing toilet-tension, but I maintain a fond spot for the world of work. The snatches of gossip whilst the kettle boils, the frisson of excitement that jolts through the office when the new girl/boy turns out to be a fitty, the shared exasperation at the Everest of emails crammed into your outlook after a week’s holiday. And my favourite moment – when a colleague, nay a saint, a hero – whips out the biscuits and chocolates they bought on holiday, or the leftover cake from their weekend’s baking, for everyone to share.  The sheer, unadulterated thrill of the office sugar-rush is pretty hard to beat.

This cake is fairly decadent, but being filled with carrot and nuts, you can almost kid yourself that it is, vaguely, maybe, sort-of healthy. It takes a couple of hours to make but feeds at least twelve greedy people and looks very -OOH, WOW! – with all of it’s smooth, creamy folds of frosting.

To buy:

*300g plain flour   *2 tsp cinnamon   *1 tsp baking powder   *1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda   *200g soft brown sugar   *4 eggs   *250ml oil   *1 orange zested   *1 lemon zested   *200g carrots, finely grated   *150g walnuts, chopped    and for the cream cheese topping:   *125g unsalted butter at room temp   *50g icing sugar   *250g cream cheese (I used full fat Philadelphia)

To make:

Yum

1. Heat the oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2.

2. Line or grease a really deep tin – I used a square one but bear in mind, that if it is deep rather than large and shallow, that it may take longer to bake.

3. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together and stir in the sugar.

4. Beat the eggs with the oil and citrus zests. Stir in the carrots and fold everything into the flour mixture. Fold in the walnuts.

5. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. My cake took at least another twenty minutes, so just keep your eyes peeled.

6. Cool the cake thoroughly on a wire-rack.

7. For the frosting, beat the butter and icing sugar together until soft and then beat in the cream cheese.

8. Chill the mixture until it’s thick but spreadable. Spread a thick layer on top of the cake, making sure the side of the icing is flat and continues upwards from the side of the cake.

You may wish to add currants to your cake and I think I would probably add even more carrots next time but whatever you like. I sprinkled some ground ginger on top of the frosting to give it a bit of a zing but you could do whatever you liked. I was sorely tempted to fashion the whole cake into a giant carrot, maybe next time.  As ever, this recipe was on the indomitable Good Food website.

Recipe: Little Nana-Nana (Banana and Sultana) Cakes

6 Sep
Twice the Nana action!

Even though I try and be a good house frau, I often fail. Whether it’s the Clothes Mountain on my bedroom floor (of clothes that I’ve washed but then neglected to fold and put away, which grows at a violent rate) the dire state of the inside of my oven, uncleaned after a year and a half in my flat, or the tire marks that my bike has etched all over those once pristine walls, I’m not fully Stepford yet.

 
But now and again I surprise myself. I may leap out of bed at dawn to bake or spend hours scrubbing my flat until it sparkles, before wandering room from room, beaming at all of my handiwork. Sometimes.
 
On Sunday, I made cakes for my boyfriend and his cricket team, little ‘ana’ cakes (being both banana and sultana in case you were wondering..) which used the bananas that were turning a deep shade of brown in my fruit bowl. These little cakes were guaranteed to keep the boys batting and bowling from teatime and beyond. They were moist and sweet and the kind of cake which could keep for a few days and get better with age. Also it’s great getting to use older bananas as I like mine almost green and pang with guilt at throwing food away. I used sultanas but I reckon chocolate chips or walnuts would also work like a dream.
 
To buy – to make about ten cakes:
*4 oz unsalted butter, softened   *4 0z caster sugar   *4 oz self-raising flour   *2 eggs   *pinch of nutmeg   *two very ripe bananas   *2 0z raisins
To make –
1. Preheat the oven to 175Oc and place the cake cases on a baking sheet or in a muffin tin.
2. Combine the butter, sugar, flour, eggs and nutmeg in a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk (or by hand if you’re feeling macho) until it’s smooth and creamy. I whizzed the mixture for about 3 minutes so that it was really light.
3. In a bowl mash your bananas and add the sultanas. Stir into the cake batter and mix it right in.
4. Spoon the batter into the cases and pop into the oven for about 20 minutes but really, until whenever the cakes look golden and the cakes are cooked through.
5. If you like you can sprinkle sugar on before they are fully baked and pop back into the oven so it caramelises a bit. Whatever, when they’re fresh out of the oven, leave to cool on a wire rack.
 
Really simple and super fast. You could frost with cream cheese icing were you feeling decadent and I think they’d be gorgeous with custard.
Now, it’s either a jump into bed to finish my book, perhaps have a nap, or I get busy on attacking that Clothes Mountain, teetering on the edge of collapse, in my bedroom… zzzz….
 

Recipe: Eccles Cakes

25 Aug

Squashed Fly Pie

My mum is coming to visit me this weekend. All the way from “the North”. That mythical place where it always rains, is full of men in flat caps racing pigeons and pub landladies serving hotpots. To celebrate I have baked her some Eccles Cakes. I really hope she loves them. Along with Cadbury’s flakes, the drummer from Kings of Leon, little ginger cats and a cup of tea at ANY TIME OF THE DAY, Eccles cakes are one of the things I can count on my mummy to adore.

Having never baked them before there was only one person to turn to for advice. Delia. In a recipe book my boyfriend’s mum gave me at the weekend I read all about Delia’s approach to making pastry -she advised us to make it with determination, with boldness! – and crossed my fingers that I would be able to pull off “a squashed fly pie” as they are so brilliantly known.

To buy:

*225g plain flour   *175g margarine   *a good pinch of salt   *some water to mix, and for the filling: *75g butter   *150g soft brown butter   *150g currants   *1 tsp cinnamon   *1/2 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg (I confess I just used the stuff out of the jar)   *the grated rind of a large orange   *50g finely chopped mixed peel, to finish off: *milk   *caster sugar

To make:

1.  To make the pastry, weigh the margarine (hard from the refrigerator), then wrap it in a piece of foil and place it in the freezing compartment of the fridge for half an hour.

2. Meanwhile sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then when you take the margarine out of the freezer, hold it with the foil, dip it into the flour, then grate it on a coarse grater placed in the bowl over the flour. I found this hard-going but just really make sure the marge is super-cold.

Euuurgh. The Flies!

3. Carry on dipping the margarine down into the flour to make it easier to grate. When you have finished you will have a lump of grated margarine sitting in the middle of the flour.

4. Then take a palette knife and start to cut the fat into the flour (don’t use your hands) until the mixture is crumbly. Now add enough water so that it forms a dough that leaves the bowl clean (you can use your hands for the dough), then place it in a polythene bag and chill it in the main part of the refrigerator for half an hour. 

5. Later, prepare the filling by first melting the butter in a small saucepan. Then take it off the heat and stir in all the filling ingredients quite thoroughly and leave it to cool.

6. Delia says, next turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Roll it out to about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, then using a plain 3¼ inch (8 cm) cutter, cut the pastry into rounds. Put a teaspoon of the filling on to each round, then brush the edge of half the circle of pastry with water, and bring the other side up and seal it. Then bring the corners up to the centre, and pinch to seal well. Now turn your sealed pastry parcel over, so that the seam is underneath, then gently roll the whole thing to flatten it to about ¼ inch thick (½ cm), and pat it into a round shape. As it turns out, I didn’t quite follow this advice, but made the cakes as you would filled pasta – two stamped out shapes with the filling inside, then sealed and squished – and it turned out alright!

Mmm. Tea-time.

7. Place them all on a greased baking sheet and gash each cake diagonally across three times, using a sharp knife. Now brush them with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar, and bake them in the oven pre-heated to gas mark 7, 425ºF (220ºC) for about 15 minutes until golden-brown. Then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

If you’re not sure about baking with pastry – and I admit it can be intimidating! – just stay cool, literally. Make sure your hands are cold at all times when handling the pastry (I sometimes hold a bag of frozen peas before-hand to get them very cold) and work quickly. Try not to over-work the pastry, keep it light. Really, if I can do it, when I am at times nothing less than a moron, then I promise you can too.

The cakes I baked tonight were – phew, thank goodness! – a success. Savoury, flaky pastry pillows full of juicy, festive fruit. Salty and sweet. Made for devouring with a cup of fragrant, light tea. Marvellous.