Archives for category: Desserts

This is one of my fail safe, go to recipes. A Nigel Slater classic, serve it warm with double cream or custard, or cooled with whipped cream. The pastry needs a bit of care – and time – to get right, but is worth it for the soft crumbly base to hold the soft and sweet pears.

75g butter
75g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
150g plain flour
Splash of milk
1kg ripe pears
15g butter
3 lightly heaped tbsp muscovado sugar

Make the pastry by dicing the butter and beating (by hand or in a food processor) with the sugar until a smooth thick cream. Add the egg yolk then the flour, and bring to a soft ball with the milk. Turn the dough onto a floured board. Knead softly for a minute or two to make it easier to work. Roll into a disc to line the pie plate (use one about 18cm across the bottom, 24cm across the top). Carefully lift into place and press into shape. Trim the edges and patch up any holes. Refrigerate for 30mins.

Set the oven to 180 degrees and place a baking sheet in the oven to heat. Cut the pears into quarters, peeling and coring then slicing into 1cm wide chunks. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the pears then the sugar. Cook gently for about 10mins until the fruit is translucent and soft. Lift from the pan using a slotted spoon and arrange over the bottom of the chilled pastry case. Boil any remaining juices in the pan until only a few tbsp are left, then spoon over the pears. Bake for 40 mins until the crust is golden brown at the edges and the pears are beginning to colour.



Super easy, super rich dessert that is made in advance. What’s not to like? Just remember to take out if the freezer about ten minutes before serving. This time I served them in little espresso cups, but for an even richer pudding, try those chocolate cups in the ice cream aisle. Some sharp fruit eg raspberry or blackcurrant would be good on the side. This is probably the only pudding I’ve tried that isn’t improved with cream, unlikely as that sounds. The quantities below make four medium servings or eight small ones (eg in chocolate cups).

100g really good quality dark chocolate
5 tbsp condensed milk
4 tbsp double cream

Melt the chocolate and condensed milk in a bowl set over a pan of boiling water. Take off the heat and stir in – using a whisk – the cream. When completely smooth and mixed pour into serving cups / pots / dishes, cover and freeze for at least four hours. Remove shortly before serving and add any garnish.



For the first time I can remember we had birthday cake left over and going stale this year. So I used it up in the bottom of a trifle. I would normally make trifle with a splash of sherry and a tin of fruit cocktail in the bottom, but my son declared he didn’t want either. To make up for this, I used orange juice to soak the sponge and in the jelly, which made it taste lighter and fruitier than usual. The cream refused to stiffen, so we had it poured over instead – but still with hundreds and thousands, of course. Delicious. This is a really easy dessert to make, it just takes time to set. Make it the day before needed, but add the decorations at the very last minute before serving.


Enough sponge (Victoria, Madeira, or trifle sponge fingers) to cover the bottom of the serving bowl, cut up into slices and with any jam or icing scraped off
Juice of two oranges
1 packet jelly (preferably strawberry)
1 pint custard (made from scratch or instant; not tinned, it’s too thin)
500ml double cream
Hundreds and thousands


Cover the bottom of the serving bowl with the sponge and pour over half the orange juice so that it is soaked up by the sponge. Make up the jelly, using the rest of the juice in place of the cold water. Carefully pour over the sponge – you might need to hold the sponge down with the back of a fork to stop it floating around. Allow to cool then pop in the fridge to set. Make the custard and allow to cool until lukewarm – stir from time to time to stop it setting. Pour over the jelly and pop back in the fridge. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and spoon over the top of the custard. Serve decorated with hundreds and thousands.



A request bake by my husband for the in-laws. I tried hard to avoid using (yet another can of) condensed milk, but I figured if Jamie, Delia and Antony W-T all use it, it was clearly the way to go. In fact this is a Phil Vickery recipe(from the Carnation website) and is simply delicious. I think next time I will omit the lime zest in favour of just using juice, but that’s a personal preference for a smooth pudding. The key to success in this instance is to leave the biscuit base to chill for as long as possible – overnight at the very least – and to make sure it goes a good way up the side of the tin.

250g / 9oz digestive biscuits, crushed into crumbs
100g / 3 1/2 oz butter, melted
397g condensed milk
Finely grated zest and juice of five limes
300ml double cream
50g / 2oz dark chocolate, melted

Stir the butter and biscuit crumbs together and press into a 20cm / 8″ loose bottom cake tin. Ensure the base goes over an inch up the side of the tin – the sides will be a gentle slope rather than straight. Chill well for as long as possible. Whisk together the condensed milk, juice and zest and cream until smooth. Carefully pour into the base and leave to set in the fridge for at least an hour. Decorate the top by quickly flicking the melted chocolate from a spoon across the top of the pudding. Remove from the tin and serve on its own or with some creme fraiche.



One of my mum’s all time favourites is plum crumble – or “plumble”, as we call it – but this recipe has a slight twist with the addition of almond flavour as well. Make it now while plums are in season and cheap. Best served hot with really cold double cream.

5-6 plums
200g / 7oz butter, cubed
300g / 10oz flour
Almond essence
3 dssp ground almonds
4 tbsp rolled oats

Quarter and stone the plums, place in a heavy bottomed pan and stew gently over a low heat until the fruit is soft. Allow to cool then add one teaspoon of almond essence and stir gently. Taste and add sugar if necessary. The almond taste should be very subtle at this point. Place in an ovenproof dish. Make the crumble by rubbing together the flour and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the oats and ground almonds then tip over the stewed fruit. Bake at 180 degrees until the fruit bubbles up – about 45 minutes.



Known as “Gruffalo Crumble” in our house, this is a real favourite at this time of the year. I like it with a grating of nutmeg, but my son likes it plain and simple with lots of double cream. Either way, the key is to stew the fruit first and add sugar (if needed) at that stage, not later on. I like to add oats and a little sugar to the crumble topping to add a semblance of healthiness (the oats) and some crunch (the sugar). If you are being very organised, save a few tablespoons of the cooked apple for homemade sauce with roast pork etc.

3 large Bramley apples
Sugar (to taste)
300g / 10oz flour
200g / 7oz butter, cubed
3 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp oats

Peel, core and roughly chop the apples and place in a heavy bottomed saucepan with a sprinkle of sugar and a tablespoon of water. Leave on a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft and about half is mushy. Taste and add more sugar if needed then tip into an ovenproof dish.

Put the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub together until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add more flour if needed. Stir in the oats. The sugar can either be stirred in too or sprinkled over the top at the end. Carefully tip the crumble mix over the fruit, ensuring an even coverage, especially at the sides. Bake at 180 degrees until the fruit is bubbling up and the top is golden brown – about 45 minutes.



Somewhere between a sponge cake and a pudding, this moist light dessert can be eaten in a bowl with custard or on a plate on its own. The original recipe (by Phil Vickery) used an orange, but I replaced this with lemon to help my family’s colds and sore throats last night. It is really easy to make, it just takes a little time to prepare all the ingredients. The chopped stem ginger in the syrup could be left out, for a milder taste if required, or increase the ginger in the cake to make it hotter. I don’t know how well it keeps – we’ve never had leftovers to find out! If anyone finds out, let me know! The quantities below serve between six and ten, depending on how you serve it (and how hungry everyone is).

175g / 6 oz butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 397g tin of condensed milk
225g / 8oz self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
75g / 3oz stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped
100g / 4 oz icing sugar
200ml / 7fl oz water
50g / 2oz stem ginger, roughly chopped
2 tbsp stem ginger syrup
Juice and grated zest of 2 lemons

Cream together the butter, eggs, condensed milk, flour and baking powder until pale. Don’t worry if it doesn’t go completely smooth. Fold in the finely chopped stem ginger. Pour mix into a large greased ovenproof dish (big enough to hold about 1.5 litres / 2.5 pints). Place dish in a roasting tin and fill the tin with enough boiling water to come about two thirds up the side of the dish. Bake in the centre of the oven at 180 degrees for about 35 minutes or until the top is risen and browned and the sides have come away from the dish. Meanwhile place the other ingredients bar the zest in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and add the zest. Take the dish out of the oven and the roasting tin and stand on a heatproof mat. Carefully pour the syrup over the top of the cake. Don’t worry if it seems too much – though you can pour it on in a couple of batches if you like. Let the cake stand for about five minutes to absorb the syrup then serve as desired.