Clementine cake

Perfect for an afternoon tea as it’s gorgeous on its own, or it can be served as a dessert with a good quality vanilla ice cream or custard.


  • Use any small sweet, easy peeler citrus such as clementines, satsumas or mandarins
  • Takes about 1 hour in total – about 10-15 minutes preparation and 40-45 minutes baking
  • You can measure out the olive oil via a liquid scale (mls) or weigh it into a bowl (grams) – the result is the same
  • If you’re finding it tricky to zest the clementines (the smoother skin of smaller citrus can be difficult) replace with the zest of one large orange


  • Two large bowls
  • Springform cake tin, 20 – 23cm in diameter, greased and lined with parchment
  • Scales, spatula, balloon whisk/mixer/electric hand whisk, measuring spoons and jugs


  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 205g caster sugar
  • 205ml mild olive oil, such as Filippo Berio Classico
  • 205g Tipo 00 flour or plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • A pinch of fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder or extract
  • 40g ground almonds
  • Grated zest of four clementines
  • 2 tablespoons of clementine juice

Also… for the topping

  • Icing sugar
  • Extra clementines, peeled for decoration
  • Juice of two extra clementines


  1. Prepare your baking tin by greasing and lining with baking parchment
  2. Set the oven to 180 ºC fan / 200 ºC conventional
  3. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites, putting the whites in one (very clean) bowl and the yolks in another
  4. Whisk up the egg whites until they are stiff peaks, whisk in one tablespoon of the caster sugar and the vanilla extract into the whites
  5. Add the remaining caster sugar to the yolks and whisk until it turns pale and increases in volume
  6. Add the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder to the sugar/yolk mixture and slowly whisk in until it is all combined and then mix in the olive oil plus the zest and juice
  7. Fold in the whites to this mixture, a third at a time until it is combined. Try to be gentle while mixing in – a figure of eight motion is useful or use a balloon whisk to ‘cut’ the whites in gently
  8. Pour the mix gently into the prepared tin
  9. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the sponge springs back when depressed lightly with your finger and/or a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake
  10. Leave to cool in the tin
  11. Decorate with icing sugar mixed with the extra clementine juice and poured over
  12. Once the icing is set (or nearly set) decorate with the peeled mandarins

Cinnamon buns


This makes 12-16 cinnamon buns, depending on how deep you cut each slice

Tin sizes don’t need to be exact – the buns will expand outwards and/or upwards. If using a rectangular tin, use one about 20 x 30 cm and if using a circular tin, use one about 30cm in diameter

This is a wet dough so you may want to use a stand mixer instead of your hands for the kneading stage

Preparation time – 2hr 15 (about 45 minutes of this is hands-on activity)

Cooking time – 20-25 mins


  • a tin to place the buns in – rectangular or circular will do. See notes above
  • pastry brush
  • rolling pin
  • large bowl
  • sharp knife
  • small ceramic bowl/cup or small saucepan
  • stand mixer with dough hook (if not kneading by hand)
  • clean tea towel

Ingredients – for the enriched dough

  • 300g wholemeal bread flour
  • 150g strong white flour
  • 1 teaspoon of fast action dried yeast
  • 40g caster sugar
  • a pinch of fine salt
  • 120ml milk (doesn’t have to be warmed but it’s better if it’s not fridge-cold)
  • 70ml tepid water
  • 1 medium egg (beaten)
  • 25 olive oil

Ingredients for the filling

  • 95g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 100g chopped gale cherries

Ingredients for the glaze/topping

  • 30ml golden syrup or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of marmalade (with or without peel – your choice)
  • 30g – 40g of slivered almonds


  • extra flour for dusting
  • extra olive oil for resting the dough


  1. Add all the dry ingredients into your bowl (that’s both flour types, sugar, yeast and salt) and mix them up a bit.
  2. Make a well in the middle and tip in the milk and water, beaten egg and olive oil and start to mix. This is a little wetter than bread and is messy so you may want to use a wooden spoon first to bring it together before you start to knead
  3. Alternatively, use a stand mixer with a bread hook instead of hand kneading
  4. If kneading by hand, tip out onto a lightly floured surface
  5. Knead for 8 – 10 mins (or in your stand mixer). The dough will have a smooth surface when it’s ready
  6. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with your tea towel
  7. Leave it to rise somewhere warm. This will typically take an hour and the dough will almost double in size
  8. Gently roll the dough out of the bowl on to a lightly floured surface and start to press it down gently into a rectangle (around 65cm by 15 cm)
  9. In a small bowl, mix the ground cinnamon, vanilla seeds, caster sugar and softened butter together
  10. Spread the cinnamon butter all over the dough
  11. Scatter over the chopped glace cherries
  12. Roll up the dough like a roulade/Swiss roll, starting from the long edge
  13. Cut the roll into 12-16 slices
  14. Place the slices end-on into your tin. If the slices have flattened as you cut them, you can reshape them by hand
  15. Space the slices around 1 cm apart
  16. Cover again and leave to rise a second time for around 30 mins
  17. Heat your oven to 180C fan/200C conventional.
  18. When risen, place in the oven
  19. After 10 mins turn the oven down to 160C fan/140C conventional and bake for 10 – 15 mins more
  20. Let the buns cool in the tin for 10 minutes
  21. Melt the syrup and marmalade together with a tablespoon of water – you can do this in the microwave or in a saucepan
  22. Brush the glaze over the top of the buns while they are still in the tin and then sprinkle with the almonds
  23. Leave until fully cool

Pikelets with balsamic strawberries


This feeds four or a very greedy two for breakfast or for a Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) treat.

At home growing up we always referred to these as pikelets. You may know them as drop scones or American-style pancakes too. They fluff up in the pan due to the addition of a leavening agent: not something you’d add to a traditional British pancake or a crepe.


  • Takes 10 minutes to prepare, about 20 minutes to cook
  • Makes about 20 small pancakes that are roughly 10-12cm in size (not that I actually measure them!)
  • If you have buttermilk in your fridge, replace it for half of the milk for even richer pancakes
  • To add even more fruit, throw in a handful of sultanas or some chopped bananas or apple slices into the batter before frying
  • Don’t be gentle when flipping over the pancakes, or wait too long to turn them. They need to ‘splat’ down on the frying pan when they are turned on to their second side, so that the whole of that side is in contact with the heated surface. If you don’t do this or leave the first side cooking too long, the edges start to dry and you’ll get a mound in the middle rather than an even, flat side
  • Unlike other flat pancakes and crepes, this batter is best used straight away rahter than having been rested first


  • Bowls – one large, one small
  • Fine sieve
  • Small ladle (volume capacity will be around 60 – 75ml, roughly equivalent to five tablespoons)
  • Frying pan/skillet
  • Flat spatula or fish slice for turning


  • Eggs – 3
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Plain or Italian Tipo 00 flour – 250 g
  • Milk – about 200 ml (you may need a little more depending on your chosen flour)
  • Oil spray

To serve:

  • Strawberries – a small punnet/about 200 g
  • Caster sugar – two tablespoons
  • Balsamic vinegar (I’ve used Filippo Berio Gran Cru Balsamic Vinegar here)


  1. Crack the eggs into the large bowl
  2. Sieve the flour in (to ensure there are no clumps of flour) and then add in the salt and the milk
  3. Whisk to combine: you’ll need some elbow grease to ensure there are no lumps of flour
  4. You are aiming for the consistency of custard (not too thin, not too thick: it needs to be ladled into circles but keep its shape in the pan)
  5. Now add in the baking powder and give a final whisk (as leaveners start working straight away, it’s best to add them in as the very final ingredient or their strength will peter out before frying)
  6. Put the frying pan on over a medium heat and spray a little oil into the pan
  7. Test the heat is ready by dropping a tiny amount of the batter into the pan – it should brown on the underside in about 30 seconds Strawberries and herbs - Ink Sugar Spice
  8. Take a ladleful of the batter and drop into the pan, smoothing out the batter with the underside of the ladle until it makes a circle, something like about 10 – 12cm across
  9. If you have a large enough pan, you can cook two or three at the same time
  10. Each pikelet will start to bubble after about 20 seconds. After the batter starts to change colour a little and the edge of the pikelet can be lifted with a spatula without it sticking to the frying pan, it’s ready to flip over. The top of the pikelet at this stage will still be raw, so will spread a little when flipped – this gives it its typical finish
  11. After another 20 – 30 seconds, check the pikelet by lifting an edge and checking
  12. Flip the pikelet on to a plate, and cover with a clean tea towel while you cook the others
  13. You will most likely need to spray a little more oil in the frying pan before each batch of batter
  14. Warm some plates for serving
  15. When the pikelets are all cooked, roughly chop the strawberries
  16. Place the chopped strawberries in a small bowl and sprinkle them with the caster sugar
  17. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the strawberries (depending on the strength of taste you prefer – start with a small drizzle and taste test)
  18. Allow the strawberries to macerate in the balsamic vinegar for two to three minutes, while you portion out the pikelets on to the warmed plates

To serve

  1. Pile a few of the pikelets up on each plate and spoon over some of the macerated strawberries, not forgetting a little of the delicious juice that’s gathered in the bottom of the bowl
  2. Extra delicious served with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream, mascarpone or clotted cream

Pikelets and balsamic strawberries recipe on Ink Sugar Spice

Ink Sugar Spice blog

Strawberry yogurt cake with olive oil

Strawberry yorgurt cake with olive oil - Ink Sugar Spice recipe

Perfect for an afternoon tea or appropriate for Valentines, this cake is light, moist and full of strawberry flavour.


  • Takes about 1 hour in total – about 10-15 minutes preparation and 40-45 minutes baking
  • You can measure out the olive oil via a liquid scale (mls) or weigh it into a bowl (grams) – the result is the same


  • Two large bowls
  • Springform cake tin, 20 – 23cm in diameter, greased and lined with parchment
  • Scales, spatula, balloon whisk/mixer/electric hand whisk, measuring spoons and jugs


  • Large eggs, separated – 4
  • Caster sugar – 210g
  • Olive oil (mild) – 210ml/g
  • Tipo 00 flour or plain flour – 210g
  • baking powder – 2 teaspoons
  • Fine salt – a pinch
  • vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Ground almonds – 40g
  • Strawberry yogurt (a thick kind such as Greek yogurt) – 80g
  • Strawberries – 80g (about)


  1. Prepare your baking tin by greasing and lining with baking parchment
  2. Set the oven to 180 ºC fan / 200 ºC conventional
  3. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites, putting the whites in one (very clean) bowl and the yolks in another
  4. Whisk up the egg whites until they are stiff peaks, whisk in one tablespoon of the caster sugar and the vanilla extract into the whites
  5. Add the remaining caster sugar to the yolks and whisk until it turns pale and increases in volume
  6. Add the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder to the sugar/yolk mixture and slowly whisk in until it is all combined
  7. Chop up the strawberries and measure out the yogurt
  8. Fold in the whites to this mixture, a third at a time until it is combined. Try to be gentle while mixing in – a figure of eight motion is useful or use a balloon whisk to ‘cut’ the whites in gently
  9. Fold in the olive oil
  10. Pour the mix gently into the prepared tin
  11. Using a teaspoon, dot the yogurt all over the cake – try to keep the blobs of yogurt fairly small
  12. Place the strawberries over the yogurt
  13. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes until the sponge springs back when depressed lightly with your finger and/or a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake (though be careful to notice that you’ve not spiked the yogurt and think the cake is still underdone
  14. Gorgeous on its own, or serve it as a very special dessert, say for a Valentine’s or birthday celebration, with a good quality vanilla ice cream. Alternatively, serve with crushed strawberries that have been mixed into a tub of crème frâiche (plus a dessertspoon of icing sugar)
strawberry yogurt cake with olive oil - all sliced

Blueberry and mascarpone loaf cake

IMG_0447While I was trying to get my gnashers round a giant, but highly delicious, doorstop sandwich filled with brie, honey, walnuts and figs and he a salt beef panini in a deli caff this summer my husband had already mentally moved on to desserts and was eyeing up the sweet treats. There sat a gorgeous looking mascarpone and blueberry loaf cake.

We didn’t succumb at the time (how disciplined was that? And how unlike me…!). However, I just had to try to recreate a similar cake it as it sounded like a fabulous combination of flavours. I don’t know what the original tasted like, nor could I find out the recipe from the staff at the time, but what I’ve come up with is a lovely cake indeed.

I’ve ‘pimped’ it up considerably from the benign but delicious title, placing honey and Cointreau in it too.

A little note: I’m currently off work nursing a recovering left hand, having had a minor op. As such, I can barely dress myself, let alone bake and cook. I knew I would be like this for a while as I had the same operation on my right hand last year. So, I stockpiled some recipes, photos and posts this summer in anticipation of being out of order for a few weeks and this recipe was actually prepared and written in mid September, just before I was operated on and has been scheduled for posting. I should be back to full capability (and back to the day job too!) before the end of October (2018).



  • It’s moist, spongy and bursting with oozy blueberries
  • The batter is very thick for this cake – rather more like a Madeira or pound cake than a typical sponge
  • it will crack slight on top – I happen to think it looks really nice this way


  • Bowl
  • Electric whisk or stand mixer (as the batter is thick it’d be rather heavy going with a balloon whisk)
  • Spatula (a silicone one is best)
  • Loaf tin (roughly 19cm x 10 cm)
  • Baking parchment or greaseproof paper


  • Unsalted butter (room temperature) – 80g
  • Soft brown caster sugar – 75g (plus an extra tablespoonful for scattering)
  • Runny honey – 2 tablespoons
  • Large eggs, whole – 2
  • Plain flour (I used 00 Italian flour, but any decent plain will do) – 230g
  • Mascarpone – 210g
  • Cointreau or triple sec (or any orange liqueur) – 25ml
  • Milk – 25ml
  • Lime juice – juice of half a lime
  • Baking powder – 2 tablespoons
  • Blueberries – a small punnet (about 130g)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan / 200°C conventional
  2. Grease then line your loaf tin
  3. Cream the butter, caster sugar and honey together in a bowl until fluffed up a little and turned paler in colour
  4. Add the eggs, flour, mascarpone, Cointreau, milk, baking powder and lime juice and whisk in
  5. Gently mix in the fruit (it doesn’t matter if you burst a few, this gives a nice contrast in the cake)
  6. Fill the prepared tin with the mixture and level off as best as possible
  7. Sprinkle over the additional soft brown caster sugar
  8. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 55 minutes, testing with a skewer to see if it’s done (the skewer will come out clean when it’s ready)
  9. leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes then carefull transfer to a wire rack (the cake is very moist and may split if you are not careful with it – when fully cold it is more rigid)
  10. Enjoy like any normal cake, but also works as a dessert with ice cream, custard or additional fruit


Olive oil and pecan brownies


Not that brownies can ever be described as ‘good for you’ (shame on those who try!), but I’ve developed this recipe to use a wonderful, heart-healthy light olive oil instead of butter but still retain that gooey, more-ishness that a good brownie should have.

This is such an easy-to-bake recipe it would be perfect to get your children involved in the cooking. Maybe they could help could turn this into a birthday or Fathers Day treat.

It’s actually a highly adaptable recipe: you could swap out the milk chocolate chunks for the recipient’s favourite chocolate bar too or swap out the pecans for white choc chunks (double chocolate brownies!) or other fruit or nuts as preferred. Macadamias and hazelnuts/cobnuts make especially delicious alternatives that pair with the chocolate.

I‘m very flattered that Filippo Berio liked this recipe so much that they’ve added it to their website.

Ink Sugar Spice blog


  • Don’t use a fruity or virgin olive oil for this (as the flavour would overpower and it’d really be a waste too!), something like Mild & Light or a Classic olive oil would work very well here
  • Do stick to the right size tin. The brownie mix is the perfect volume for the height of a 20cm x 20cm (8″x 8″) tin… using a larger or smaller tin will change the texture of the brownie along with its height (a shallow wide tin would produce overbaked dry brownies and a smaller higher tin may mean the brownie is still raw in the middle)
  • When testing to see if the brownies are done with a skewer, this is not quite the same as testing a sponge cake…the brownie is supposed to be moist in the middle so the skewer will not come out dry. If it has a dry crust to the top but some sticky brownie mix on the skewer it’s done… if it’s very wet it still needs a little longer
  • You can substitute other nuts if you can’t find pecans. Walnuts are the closest match, but macadamias would also work well
  • You’ll notice I’ve put (g) grams for the olive oil, not the liquid (ml) millilitres. Grams and millilitres are interchangeable (for most liquids) when weighing out. I’ve used grams as it’s so very much easier to measure out the olive oil straight into your saucepan on a digital scale. If you don’t have a digital scale, just measure out the equivalent (100ml) in a liquid measuring cup


  • Small saucepan
  • Bowl
  • Square baking tin, 20cm x 20 cm (about 8″ x 8″)
  • Baking parchment or paper
  • Wooden spoon
  • Flexible spatula
  • Digital scales (or liquid measuring jug)
  • Kitchen towel


  • Classic or mild & light olive oil (don’t use an extra virgin) – 100g
  • Dark chocolate, around 70-72% cocoa solids – 150g
  • Tipo 00 or plain flour – 150g
  • Eggs, large – 2
  • Caster sugar – 120g
  • Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Milk – 2 tablespoons
  • Milk chocolate – 100g
  • Pecans – 40g


  1. Warm your oven up to 180°C fan/190°C conventional
  2. Put your saucepan on your scales and weigh out the olive oil and break in the dark chocolate
  3. Warm the olive oil and chocolate over a low heat, stirring with the wooden spoon
  4. Remove from the heat when the chocolate is almost completely melted: it will continue to melt
  5. Leave to one side to cool a little (you can use it once it’s got to about room temperature)
  6. Chop up the milk chocolate and pecans into large chunks and leave for later
  7. Prep your baking tin by lining with baking paper or parchment and leave an overlap so you can use this to lift the brownies out once they are cooked
  8. Lightly oil the baking paper by dampening a sheet of kitchen paper in a little oil and rubbing it around the lined tin
  9. Weigh out the flour, caster sugar, baking powder, vanilla extract, egg and milk into the bowl and mix it all together until it is all fully incorporated
  10. The chocolate and oil should be cool enough to use now, so pour it into the bowl and mix it in thoroughly
  11. Add the chocolate chunks and pecans and swirl through the mix
  12. Pour the mix into the prepared tin, using the flexible spatula to get every last bit out and smooth the surface over with a spoon
  13. Cook on the middle shelf for 23-25 minutes
  14. Once cooked, leave to cool almost fully in the tin, then lift out using the overlap of baking paper you left
  15. Cut into nine large squares (or smaller bites if you prefer)
  16. Delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream or cream and strawberries or leave to cool and enjoy as a tea time treat
Ink Sugar Spice blog

Banana wholemeal spelt loaf cake

image1This is a rich, moist and delicious cake as you’d expect with a top-notch banana cake. However, for this recipe I started with wholemeal spelt flour rather than traditional plain white. The final result is not a ‘worthy’ cake as you might expect from a wholegrain flour – but extra rich and with a gorgeous crumb structure.


I have made this loaf cake in a panibois – that’s a reusable wooden baking form with which you use pre-cut baking liners. My panibois is an ‘archduc’ (they all have lovely names for their sizes) which is equivalent to a small / 1lb loaf tin. So if you don’t have a panibois yourself a greased and floured/lined small loaf tin will do just nicely.

I used Craggs & Co wholemeal spelt for this – the milling is incredibly fine and I like that it is a 100% British product, I confess I was lucky enough to be sent a batch to try (no other incentive though so I hope you feel that I giving an honest opinion, rather than a ‘commercial one’). There are other spelts available and I have in the past used Doves Farm and Shipton Mill flours with good results, but this is geniuinely of excellent quality and clearly recently milled and bagged.

This recipe has been kindly shared on the Craggs & Co website (along with a number of other spelt recipes). Visit their website to find more about spelt flour and their farm up in Sedgefield, near Stockton on Tees – and if you want to try it too you can purchase online.

Also, please note that I used a salted butter for this cake.

Finally, I have given a weight for the double cream rather than a volume – this is easier for the baker. If you have to measure the volume of cream it needs to go into a measuring cup and then into your bowl (another thing to wash, and you lose a little scraping it out). If you weigh it you can put it straight into your bowl with your other ingredients: simple and no mess.


Weigh out your sugar and then take two tablespoons out of it to mash the bananas with – it makes the mashing easier and will slow down the browning of the bananas a little.

  • Two large bowls
  • A panibois form and paper insert OR a greased and floured (or lined) small loaf tin
  • A fork, a spatula, a balloon whisk
  • Wholemeal spelt flour – 220g
  • Ground almonds – 30g
  • Eggs, Large – 2
  • Soft brown sugar – 160g
  • Salted butter, softened but not melted – 100g [Please use a farm-style, artisan butter such as one from a local farm, a supermarket finest or a French salted butter. Not the ones with rock salt crystals in though!]
  • Double cream – 35g
  • Baking powder – 1 and 1/4 teaspoons
  • Vanilla seeds – half a pod’s worth or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Bananas – two very ripe
  1. Put your oven on to 180C fan / 200C conventional
  2. Have the lined panibois ready or grease a small loaf tin and then either flour it or line it with baking parchment/greaseproof paper
  3. In one bowl measure out the sugar
  4. Peel the bananas and add to the second bowl
  5. Take two tablespoons of the sugar from the first bowl and sprinkle it over the bananas. Mash the bananas into the sugar using the back of a fork
  6. Crack the eggs into the other bowl (the one with only sugar in) and whisk the sugar and eggs together until they are a little foamy and have lightened in colour
  7. Fold the flour, baking powder, almonds, cinnamon, vanilla, butter and double cream into the bananas and then finally fold in the fluffed-up eggs and sugar mix
  8. Ladle the mix into the panibois or tin and place in the bottom third of your oven
  9. Bake for 45 mins – the top will be a rich brown and the cake will spring back when pressed lightly
  10. Leave to cool in the panibois or tin for 20 mins, then finish the cooling off on a wire rack
  11. Delicious on its own,  or as a dessert served with cream, ice cream (a toffee ice creams goes well) or custard and extra bananas

Summer season baked nectarine cheesecake with a biscuit and pink peppercorn base


This is a rich, baked cheesecake. The bottom crunchy layer has the addition of crushed pink peppercorns and ground almonds, which gives a fabulous texture and a nice zingy tang to each mouthful, complementing the nectarines.


As a sort of aside, I’ve made this cheesecake while recovering from a (routine) hand operation (no, I’m not fishing for sympathy – that’s not me – and it’s all simple and straightforward so please don’t worry). I would normally make this without the use of a food processor (even though I do own one) except for the biscuit-crushing for which it is oh-so much easier than bashing them with a rolling pin, though that will work admirably. I have fallen heavily on the use of my processor in recent days to help me cook, including using it to chop veg, although I couldn’t cook at all for the first week – and it’s been a godsend. Also, a big thanks to my sons who have done some of the heavy work, like crush peppercorns, lift my processor out of the cupboard for me and move the tins in and out of the oven. It gets them learning about baking and they get a cheesecake that I wouldn’t be able to make on my own with one temporarily rubbish paw.

I have made this cheesecake previously (you know by now I try hard to make recipes a few times to ensure they are accurate) but I did have full use of both hands when it was made in the past!

To make sure the loose-bottom cake tin is fully watertight (so the cheesecake doesn’t leak out nor the waterbath leak in) lay a sheet of greaseproof/baking parchment over the bottom, then a layer of foil on that. Then fold it over slightly and close the ring as you would normally – it’ll be a little tougher to close but will be more watertight.

This takes only around an hour to make, but it does need several hours to cool and set properly – and ideally overnight. So it does require a little planning!

Oh and the last thing is, that pink peppercorns aren’t apparently pepper at all, but another dried berry with peppery overtones. As such, if you can’t get hold of it I would recommend swapping it for a half teaspoon of normal black pepper and the zest of a half an orange.

  • 20cm springform cake tin
  • Kitchen foil and baking paper/greaseproof paper
  • Large bowl and a medium (heatproof) bowl
  • Food processor for crushing the biscuits and the nectarines
  • Pestle and mortar or fill a peppermill with only pink peppercorns
  • Large ovenproof tin (large enough to fit your cake tin in)
  • Spatulas
  • Saucepan
  • Kettle
Ingredients – base
  • Digestive or other plain biscuits – 185g
  • Ground almonds – 30g
  • Unsalted butter, softened – 80g
  • Pink peppercorns, crushed – 1 teaspoon
Ingredients – cheesecake
  • Cream cheese (such as Philadelphia) – 250g
  • Double cream – 300ml
  • Eggs, large – three
  • Caster sugar – 125g
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Zest from a whole lemon
  • Two nectarines, stones removed
Additional –
  • Extra nectarines, sliced as a garnish
  • A kettle-full of boiling water for a water bath
  1. Take the base off the springform tin and cut or rip off a piece each of kitchen foil and baking paper, each slightly bigger than the base
  2. Lay these two sheets of foil one on top of the other and cover the base, smoothing it out and over the edges, making it tight. Don’t bunch it up at the edge/rim
  3. This little trick is to make the springform tin a little more water-tight and to replace the need for a baking sheet
  4. Clip the foil-covered base into the tin – it will be a bit harder than normal (you may need to push down any bunched-up areas) but it will ensure it fits more snugly
  5. Crush the peppercorns into fine crumbs in the pestle and mortar (if you’ve not got them in a peppermill)
  6. Warm your butter until it is just starting to melt
  7. Whizz up the digestives, ground almonds and peppercrons in your blender (or put them in a tea towel, making sure it is folded or twisted and bash with a rolling pin)
  8. Tip the warmed butter into the digestive crumbs and whizz mix together again
  9. Tip into the springform tin and press down with a silicon spatula (I found recently that it sticks less often than using the back of a spoon as I was used to) until it is as even as possible
  10. Leave to one side
Method – cheesecake mix
  1. Turn your oven on to 170C fan / 190C conventional
  2. Cut the nectarines into pieces and whizz them up in your food processor
  3. In a large bowl tip in all the ingredients – the cream, the cream cheese, the caster, the eggs, the lemon juice and zest and the nectarine pulp and mix until all the cream cheese lumps are smoothed through
  4. Tip all the cheesecake mix slowly into the tin while trying not to dislodge the biscuit base
  5. Place the cake tin inside the larger oven proof tin and boil your kettle up
  6. Pour the kettle-full of water into the tin to create a water bath and quickly get the whole lot into your hot oven
  7. Bake for 45 minutes – you may want to turn your tins 180 degrees 10 minutes before the end if you have an oven with a pronounced hotspot at the rear
  8. After 45 minutes, turn off the oven
  9. Take the tins out, remove the cake tin from the water bath and put the cake tin back on an over rack on its own (you can now discard the water bath)
  10. Keep the oven door open a little now – if it won’t stay open by itself, jam the handle of a wooden spoon half way down the door to keep it ajar
  11. Leave the cheesecake in for another 10 minutes
  12. Remove the cheesecake – it should have a voluptuous wobble in the middle when you jiggle the tin (this will set further as it cools)
  13. Leave to cool in the tin for a good couple of hours at least
  14. Make sure the tin is cool to the touch before you try to open the spring and remove the tin ring – if in doubt take a very sharp plain bladed knife and run just the very tip of the blade round the edge of the cheesecake (don’t put the whole knife down the side – you only want to break the join between the surface and the tin)
  15. Then, keeping it on the loose tin bottom for now (until it’s fully firmed or you risk breaking it), transfer to the fridge for at least another two hours, preferably overnight (this is better on day two)
  16. Just before serving, de-stone and slice the remaining two nectarines and arrange them on top


Wholemeal maple syrup, date and pecan sticky buns

IMG_2203Can’t beat a fluffy, cinnamon-y, fruit, sugary breakfast bun. These are made with two thirds wholemeal for more of an earthy bite. I’m not sure I really believe wholemeal is truly much healthier than white bread, but it certainly feels more righteous.

Date and walnut are a traditional combination for a number of recipes (not just baking) but, although I do like this, I find pecans preferable. (Often if you can’t get hold of the freshest walnuts they can be a little acrid, where pecans do not seem to deteriorate in this way). I added a maple-syrup sauce for added sweetness, well that and it seemed to instill a sort of North American/Canadian vibe with the pecans (though what the dates are now doing there I am not sure – perhaps next time I’ll swap them from dried cranberries!).


This makes a lot of buns! About 16 in fact. They can be divided and frozen after baking – you can actually put the maple syrup sauce and the nuts on before freezing, though I would recommend adding the icing after you’ve defrosted them. (Leave overnight on a wire rack to defrost thoroughly).

  • a tin to place the buns in. I used a 30 cm casserole dish, but any shape is just fine bowl
  • small saucepan
  • pastry brush
  • rolling pin
  • large bowl
  • sharp knife and a small spoon
  • small ceramic bowl or cup (this may be going in the microwave)
Ingredients – for the enriched dough
  • wholemeal bread flour – 300g
  • strong white flour – 150 g
  • easy-blend yeast – 15 g
  • caster sugar – 50 g
  • fine salt – a pinch
  • milk – 125 ml (doesn’t have to be warmed but it’s better if it’s not fridge-cold)
  • water – 75 ml (tepid rather than warm)
  • medium egg (beaten) – 1
  • unsalted melted butter – 25 g
Ingredients for the filling
  • butter, softened – 80 g
  • ground cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
  • Half a vanilla pod’s worth of seeds
  • caster sugar – 25g
  • chopped, stoned dates – 50g
Ingredients for the glaze/topping
  • crunched-up pecans – 35g
  • maple syrup – 30ml
  • marmalade (with or without peel – your choice) – 2 tablespoons
  • water – “enough” – by this I mean just enough to make a dropping consistency with the icing sugar – this will be around a tablespoon
  • icing sugar – about 75g
  • extra flour for dusting


Preparing the dough

  1. Add all the dry ingredients into your bowl (that’s both flour types, sugar, yeast and salt) and mix them up a bit.
  2. Make a well in the middle and tip in the milk and water, beaten egg and melted butter and start to mix. This is a little wetter than bread and is messy (half the fun) so you may want to use a wooden spoon first to bring it together before you start to knead.
  3. Tip it out onto a clean surface. Try to resist adding a dusting of flour to the surface if you can (or if it’s not too ingrained a habit). Yes, some of it will stick to the surface but as you continue kneading it will lift off and combine, and then you haven’t changed the chemical constitution of the dough too much by increasing the ratio of flour. Alternatively, I expect you can use a machine with a bread hook – but this will also need 10 minutes (I always find it interesting that elbow grease and electricity have the same effect when it comes to dough).
  4. If the dough is a little hard work add a touch more milk – as mentioned, it should be just slightly wetter than bread (more like how wet a sourdough or brioche would be).
  5. The kneading will take about 8 – 10 mins depending on how vigorous you are! Just like other breads, the dough will be smooth and a bit bouncy when it’s ready. This is one of those things that you just get used to seeing after you’ve baked for a while.
  6. Clean out your original bowl and lightly grease it (or use another) and pop in the dough. I usually chuck a large linen teatowel over my rising bread, and sprinkle over a little bit of water onto the towel, but cling film will do nearly as well (this shouldn’t need dampening as it creates an airtight seal and the bread is already moist).
  7. Leave it to double in size somewhere warm but not hot – this will typically take an hour or so but it depends on the warmth. Like other sweet doughs you could make this one evening and leave in the fridge or somewhere cool to rise overnight.

Shaping, filling and rolling the buns

  1. Gently roll the dough out of the bowl on to a (lightly) floured surface and start to press it down gently (no heavy pummeling!) into a rectangle. You’re aiming for something about 65cm by 15 cm (2 foot by 10 inches in ‘old money’).
  2. Mix in the ground cinnamon, vanilla seeds and caster sugar into the softened butter
  3. Now you’re ready to add the filling ingredients. Spread the cinnamon butter all over the rectangle of dough – but leave a 1 cm gap down one long edge (this is to help the dough stick into a roulade shape later)
  4. Scatter over the chopped dates
  5. Now you need to roll up the dough like a roulade/Swiss roll, starting from the long edge which you haven’t left with a 1 cm gap. Brush a little bit of water or milk onto that edge you left so it sticks to the outside of the dough once you’ve roll it all up. It should look just like a doughy Swiss rollRolling up the dough
  6. Cut the roll into 15-16 slices
  7. Pop the slices end-on into the tin, so that you can see the Swiss roll shape and all the lovely fillings from the top. You may need to push the back into more of a round shape, as slicing them may have flattened them a little. Space the slices between 1 – 2 cm apart so that when they rise they bump into each otherSticky buns - ready to bake
  8. Cover with a that clean, damp tea towel or cling film from earlier and leave it to rise and prove a second time. You want them to puff up to about double what they were but this shouldn’t take as long as the first rise – about 30 mins.
  9. Pop on your oven to 180C fan/200C conventional.

Baking and glazing

  1. When risen, take off the covering and pop the tin in the middle of the oven and set the timer for 10 mins. After 10 mins don’t take them out – turn the oven down to 160C fan/140C conventional and cook for between 10 – 15 mins more. You want a nice golden top (not light but not too dark). You may need to turn the tin after the first 10 mins if your oven is not cooking very evenly (as you want the buns to all have the same depth of colour).
  2. Fetch the buns out when ready and leave to cool in the tin a bit.
  3. Now make the glaze by melting the maple syrup and marmalade together with a tablespoon of water until bubbling and the marmalade has melted completely into the maple syrup
  4. Add in the crunched-up pecans into the maple syrup sauce
  5. Brush (or pour) it all over the tops of the buns (while they are still in the tin), try a little to spread the pecans evenly across the buns
  6. Leave until fully cool
  7. Make the icing by mixing the icing sugar with the water until you get a smooth dropping consistency
  8. Drizzle the icing all over the buns with a small spoon and leave until the icing has solidifiedFullSizeRender