Brown Butter Sponge with Praline and Hazlenuts


This is a simple sponge that with an extra step becomes something quite decadent. I used a jar of Bonne Maman Hazelnut Praline Caramel which makes it very very easy and doable but you can make your own salted caramel too – I was just all about the short cut when I saw this jar and that’s where the idea for the cake began!


You will need two cake tins – 20cm, sides buttered and bases lined. Preheat your oven to 180 (160c fan)


50g butter

6 eggs

200g golden caster sugar

200g plain flour

To serve:

500ml cream, whipped

Jar of Hazelnut Caramel Praline (or similar)

Chopped toasted hazelnuts

First you will make your brown butter. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. It will melt, then foam, turning a golden colour then to a deeper amber and smelling lovely and nutty. There will be some solids in the bottom of the pan that will go a darker colour. Watch closely that they don’t go too dark. This will give your sponge a lovely complex taste and is well worth the extra step. It goes so well with the nuts and caramel. Take off the heat and leave to one side.

In a stand mixer whisk the eggs and sugar until they are pale, fluffy and have more than doubled in volume. The beater should leave a trail when you lift it out. This will take a while so have patience! Now fold the flour in carefully, trying not to knock too much air out but making sure there are no pockets of flour left in the mix (a challenge). Follow this with the cooled brown butter, drizzling it carefully in with all the nutty bits and mixing them in carefully.

Divide the mix equally between the tins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes (in my oven they take 23 minutes!) until golden. Cool for a few minutes in the tin then invert on a wire cooling tray to cool completely.

Top one half with half the whipped cream and dot with praline (you may need to warm some slightly) and sprinkle with chopped toasted hazelnuts then top with the other half and repeat.



Mini Strawberry Bakewells

These little beauties are a sort-of version of something I remember baking with my Nana when I was really tiny. She called them chelsea buns but I don’t think they were. We would bake treacle bread, buns, soda bread and cakes in her red formica kitchen and I can remember so clearly her hands deftly forming the pastry and making it look like the easiest thing in the world.

I have taken a short cut here by using a roll of ready made pastry – this means you can have these babies in the oven in about six or seven minutes flat! It’s also a handy solution to the request to bake something from the kids as they can throw it together before they lose interest in the process!

I packet of shortcrust pastry – 320g sheet works well here (there will be a bit leftover)

100g ground almonds

100g butter, softened

1 large egg

100g caster sugar

1.5 tblsp plain flour (and some extra to roll out the pastry)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

A small handful of berries (vague but look at the pictures, you need less than 100g of berries to fill these bun tins!)

1 tblsp flaked almonds

I roll out the sheet, sprinkling a little flour to prevent sticking and stamp out 12 discs using a 9cm cutter, placing them in a good old fashioned bun tray. A handy tip – roll out the sheet using the paper underneath and a touch of flour on top, then when you cut out the discs place them upside down in the tray (flour side down) so there will be no sticking. This will make them easy to take out.

Now beat the egg, caster sugar, flour, vanilla and ground almonds together until smooth and spoon into each of the cases – don’t worry too much about smoothing it out, it will all be grand.

Add your chopped fruit of choice – I have used chopped strawberries here, but blackberries, raspberries, blueberries (no real need to shop these) or a mix of berries are all fantastic. You really don’t need that many and it’s a great use of a few lonely ones in your fridge.

Sprinkle with a few flaked almonds and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Cool for a moment in the tray before removing carefully to a rack. They are pretty fantastic warm too. They freeze well and so can be made in advance and thawed and reheated for a few minutes in the oven to revive.

Baileys Blondies with Pecans and Coconut

So my previous Christmas post on the Santa Hat Brownies was for children (big and small alike) and this one is more for the adults, but I do confess my kids enjoy these too. These are the blonde version of the brownies. I am all for equality, me. They make a quite a few, 24 the way I cut them, and they last for a few days and even longer in the freezer well-wrapped. I think anything with Baileys in it has quite the Christmas edge!


50g pecans
25g coconut chips
225g butter
380g light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 tblsp Baileys
300g flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g chocolate chips (I prefer plain/dark)

Preheat the oven to 160c and toast the pecans and coconut chips on a baking tray for 5 minutes, watching carefully so that the coconut doesn’t burn. Chop the pecans and set both aside for later.

Now increase the oven to 170c. Grease and line a 13×9 brownie tin with baking parchment and set aside.

Melt the butter, either in a saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave (the latter is my preference) stir in the sugar until smooth and well combined. Now add the eggs, vanilla and the Baileys, stirring to combine well.

Now add the flour and baking powder stirring well – no sneaky pockets of white!

Finally add in the coconut, pecans and chocolate.

Add to the tin, smooth over the top and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes – I start to check from about 25 – a tester in the middle should just come out clean. Usually in my oven they are done between 30-32 minutes.

Leave to cool and then cut – this is much easier when they are cool. The blondies make a tasty accompaniment to a cup of coffee or go equally well with vanilla icecream.

Lime Curd Crunch Cake

This was a little experimental. It happened when I saw a jar of lime curd in the supermarket and couldn’t stop thinking about it. This happens me sometimes with ingredients, which I realise sounds odd, but I had to try it out and it turned out to be seriously tasty.

My parents came over and were willing guinea pigs – we obliterated almost half the cake; I don’t expect the other half to last much longer. This turned out to be a lovely fluffy kind of cake with zingy little pockets of lime curd and a crunchy top. Just perfect with a cup of coffee and some cream on the side. Don’t volunteer to make the second pot of coffee because when your back is turned this happens …

130g butter, room temperature

170g golden caster sugar, plus 2 tblsp for sprinkling

150g plain flour plus 1 tblsp for coating the tin

1 tsp baking powder

3 large eggs

25g ground almonds

2-3 tblsp flaked almonds

1 jar lime curd (you will use about 200g of the curd)

zest of 1 lime


Preheat your oven to 170c. Butter and flour a deep round springform baking tin.

Mix the curd and lime zest together and set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter together in a stand mixer until pale, fluffy and creamy – a few minutes. Now mix in the flour and baking powder followed by the eggs and ground almonds. Don’t overmix.


Spread evenly in the tin and then with the back of a teaspoon, make little indentations in the batter. Put a spoon of curd in each hollow. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of golden caster sugar over the top, followed by the flaked almonds.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until golden on top and a tester comes out clean of batter (but not of curd – that’s allowed!)

Cool in the tin for ten minutes then remove the sides and cool further. Serve with whipped cream.


A Spin on the Bakewell.


Blueberry Coconut cake

A spin on the bakewell.

There’s nothing like a slice of cake with a cuppa is there? This one I came up with, adapting a recipe that I have almost worn out from baking (if that’s possible!) from BBC Good Food. It’s a cake version which takes the pressure off performing any kind of pastry miracle. This is almost always a good thing! It never fails. I chose to change it around a little, swapping the raspberries for blueberries and adding a little coconut for a change. I’ve also used strawberries and mixed berries in the original, which is a winner.



100g ground almonds

150g butter, softened to room temperature

140g caster sugar

140g self-raising flour

50g dessicated coconut

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

250g blueberries (fresh or frozen are fine)

2 tblsp flaked almonds


Preheat your oven to 180C or fan 160C. Butter and line the base of a 26cm loose bottom tin with baking parchment. Place the butter, ground almonds, sugar, flour, coconut, eggs, and vanilla into a food processor and blitz until smooth and well mixed. Smooth half the mix into the base of the tin. Place the berries on top of the mix, scattering fairly evenly. Smooth the rest of the mix over the berries and sprinkle the flaked almonds on top. Bake for 50 minutes until golden. Cool in the tin then remove carefully to plate. Dust with icing sugar and serve with a dollop of cream.