Gâteau Fondant with Pears

 Feeling a bit down lately, with the freezing weather and not getting out, I thought I'd make one of my favourite cakes as a treat. I bought a bag of Conference pears on offer at the supermarket, and this is a great way to use them.

The most famous fondant cake is the chocolate fondant, a cake with a lovely oozy chocolate centre. In this cake, the lovely centre is made of pears.

For the cake you need:  100g caster sugar, 100 ml milk, pinch salt, 2 tspn baking powder, 150g plain flour, 2 eggs and 3 tbspn sunflower or vegetable oil, 4 medium pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

For the topping you need: 80g butter, 3 tbspn caster sugar and 1 egg

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                     grease a flour a 24cm tart tin

Put the sugar, 2 eggs and salt in a bowl and whisk till light and fluffy. Gently fold in the flour and baking powder, then the milk and oil.

Pour half of the mixture into the tart tin and then layer on the pear slices. Top with the other half of the mixture. Bake for 30 mins 

For the topping - melt the butter gently. Beat the egg and sugar till frothy then add the melted butter and gently mix together. Pour over the cake and put back in the oven for a further 20 mins.

Let the cake cool in the tin.

The crispy topping adds sweetness to the cake and goes well with the pears. I love the different textures, the crispy topping, the light cake and the soft pears. It works well as a cake or as a dessert with some cream or ice cream. 


Onion and Bacon Tart


For some reason, I seem to have an awful lot of onions. With this wintry weather I thought I'd use some up and make an onion and bacon tart. Nothing fussy, just pastry, onions and lardons. 

I knows chopping onions can be a tearful job, so I admit to using the slicer on my food processor. I used the grater for small slices, but they can be hand chopped!


You need 200g short crust pastry, 2 big onions [or more if you really like them!], 400ml crème fraîche, 150g lardons and some grated Gruyère or other flavourful cheese

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                   You need a baking sheet

Peel and chop the onions. Put into a frying pan, add half a glass of water and cook gently for 5-10 mins. leave to cool.

Roll out pastry into a circle that will fit the baking sheet. My sheet will take a 28cm circle. prick with a fork.

Spread the crème fraîche over the pastry leaving a gap round the edge. Spoon the onions on top and finish with the lardons.

Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for 45-60 mins till golden.

I made 2, the second one for my neighbours. Apart from the onions, it's easy to make, and you could use other ingredients you have left in the fridge. The flavours are delicious, and it's just the thing to have on a cold day.


Galette des Rois with Chocolate and Hazelnuts

A Happy New Year! Bonne Année!

 I can't let Epiphany pass without a Galette, and I think we all need something sweet to keep us going in these difficult times.

 I asked my French friend for ideas for something different and she sent me this recipe. I found the ground hazelnuts in Waitrose, or you could grind your own.

So you need: 2 sheets of butter puff pastry, 125g ground hazelnuts, 100g dark chocolate, 100ml single cream, 1 egg, 75g caster sugar, 50g melted butter, 1 tspn vanilla extract and 1 egg yolk

Preheat oven 200C/gas6                       Baking sheet

Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Beat the egg with the sugar till fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and mix well.

Add the hazelnuts and vanilla extract and stir together.

Roll out the first sheet of puff pastry and cut out a circle using a large dinner plate or something similar. Place on the baking sheet. Spread the chocolate mixture on top, leaving a 1.5 cm border.

Cut the second sheet into a large circle, the same size as the first, and roll over the top. Press the edges together with your fingers.

Cut the traditional design on the top using the point of a knife, but don't cut through the pastry!

Brush the top with the beaten egg yolk and bake for 30 mins till golden.

I gave half to my neighbour and he loved it. I loved the chocolate/hazelnut mixture, the rich chocolate with a nutty bite. I've always preferred the original almond filling, but this version comes a close second. A great treat as a dessert or as an indulgent offering with a cuppa.

ps, I actually managed to find puff pastry already cut into circles.


Cranberry and Mincemeat Streudel Cake

Wanted to make something Christmassy for my neighbours bake this week, and  I found some fresh cranberries in my local supermarket. These and mincemeat would be great in a cake. I found this recipe in my folder - it's from a magazine, but not sure which one!

For the cake you need: 150g soft butter, 150g caster sugar, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 100g sr flour, 100g ground almonds, 4 tbspn milk, 200g mincemeat and 200g fresh cranberries.

For the streudel topping: 25g cold butter, 75g sr flour, 1 tspn cinnamon, 75g demerara sugar, 100g pine nuts or flaked almonds.

Icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                 Line 20cm springform baking tin with baking parchment, making sure that the paper comes above the sides of the tin.

Beat the sugar and butter till light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time plus the vanilla.

Fold in the flour and ground almonds, then the milk and mix in. Add the mincemeat and cranberries and mix in gently.

Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface.

Make the streusel - rub the fat into the flour till breadcrumbs. Stir in the cinnamon and sugar.

Add the nuts and 2 tbspn water so that the topping starts to look like a crumble. If it's still very dry, add a tbspn more of water.

Scatter the crumble over the cake.

Bake for 1-11/4 hrs. Test after 1 hr, but mine took 1 hr 20 mins to bake.

Leave to cool completely in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack.

Dust with icing sugar.

Mincemeat is sweet, but the cranberries balance this . 
Sweet mincemeat, warm spices, cranberries - a lot of flavours, but they complement each other.



Chocamoka Cheesecake

Not sure if the problem is completely sorted, but at least I can post again!

Couldn't think of a good name for this cheesecake, but as it has chocolate and coffee in it I thought this name would do. It's my normal cheesecake, but with an added something. It's a rich cheesecake, just right for an occasion, so am going to make another for Boxing Day. It's for those who love dark chocolate and coffee. 

 You need a 23cm springform tin. Preheat oven to oven 160C/gas3 

 Make sure that the cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature. 

 Put 200g of chocolate digestive biscuits in a bag and crush with a rolling pin [or use a food processor]. Add 125g plus 2 tbspns of melted butter and 1/2 tspn almond essence and mix together. Press this firmly into the bottom of the tin. Put in the fridge to set. 

 In a bowl mix together 140g granulated sugar and 1 tspn of espresso or any other strong coffee granules [more if you want a strong coffee flavour]. Melt 250g of 70% dark chocolate and 125g of 50% dark chocolate [or milk if you prefer] in the microwave or over simmering water. In a mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat 4 x 250g packs of cream cheese [such as Philly] together till smooth.

 Carefully and slowly add the melted chocolate keeping the mixer on a low speed. Pour in the sugar mixture slowly and then 3 tbspn of double cream and mix till well blended. Again at a low speed, add 3 large eggs, one at a time and 1 tspn vanilla extract.

 Pour this batter over the crumb base in the tin and bake in the oven for about 40-50 mins.Take it out when the surface of the cheesecake looks dry, but it still has a bit of a wobble. Don't overbake it. Leave it to cool in a warmish place and leave it there for about an hour before moving to somewhere cooler to cool completely. When it's cool, leave it overnight in the fridge to set. 

Before you remove it from the tin, it's a good idea to run a thin spatula around the inside to loosen it. You can decorate the top with some chocolate curls made using a potato peeler. I used some milk chocolate - about 100g.



I'm sorry but seem to be unable to post any photos and my text goes haywire! This has all happened since I changed the look of my blog. I don't know how to rectify it! If I try and look at past posts, I get a muddled text and the photos are in words! Am ok with technology until something goes wrong. I hope business will soon return to normal!


Banana and Walnut Cupcakes

I have to confess to not being a cupcake fan. This is because I find the topping too sweet and too much! My friend loves them, so I made some for her birthday. It was yet another way of using up some very ripe bananas.

225g plain white flour
1 1/4 tspn baking powder
1/4 tspn bicarb of soda
2 ripe bananas, mashed
115g butter, softened
115g caster sugar
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 tbsp soured cream
55g walnut pieces, roughly chopped

175g butter, softened
350g icing sugar
some walnut pieces, roughly chopped

Preheat oven 190C/gas 5.               Line 2 cupcake or muffin tins with 14 paper cupcake cases 

Sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarb of soda.
Beat the butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, then stir in the mashed bananas, soured cream and walnuts. Fold in the flour mixture.
 Put the mixture into the paper cups and bake for about 25 mins until risen and firm and golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 mins before putting onto a wire rack.

Topping: beat the butter until light and fluffy, then sift in the icing sugar and mix well together. I added a little bit of vanilla extract too.
Decorate the cupcakes when cool with the icing and some chopped walnuts. 

The cupcake tasted very much like a muffin and the topping is very sweet. I'm not good at cake decoration, so my swirls wouldn't make it to GBBO! My friend was very happy, so all was well!

Gâteau Fondant with Pears

 Feeling a bit down lately, with the freezing weather and not getting out, I thought I'd make one of my favourite cakes as a treat. I bo...