These cakes, muffins and brownies are elaborate enough to serve for pudding.

Apricot cake with buckwheat and lemon verbena

Serves 16

Ingredients

For the topping
500g apricots
5 lemon verbena leaves
100g caster sugar

For the cake
310g unsalted butter, plus extra for the tin
100g buckwheat flour, plus extra for the tin
210g caster sugar
5 eggs
130g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g soured cream

For the glaze and decoration
4 tbsp apricot jam
Lemon verbena leaves
Icing sugar, for dusting

Method
1
One day in advance, prepare the apricots for the topping; halve them and remove the stone. Put the lemon verbena into a saucepan with 100ml water and the sugar and bring to the boil. Add the apricots, cool, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

2 The next day, preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Butter the tin and sprinkle with buckwheat flour, knocking out any excess.

3 Cream the butter with the sugar. Gradually mix in the eggs. Combine the flour, buckwheat flour and baking powder. Stir the soured cream into the butter and egg mixture and finally fold in the flour mixture.

4 Spoon into the tin and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 50 min until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin.

5 Drain the marinated apricot halves and spread them over the cake. Warm the jam in a small saucepan, then press through a sieve. Brush the apricots with the glaze. Decorate with lemon verbena leaves and dust with icing sugar.

Peanut butter brownies with caramel

Makes 20

Ingredients

For the brownies
150g unsalted peanuts
2 tbsp icing sugar
400g dark chocolate
300g unsalted butter
12 eggs
45g caster sugar
400g light brown sugar
3½ tbsp hazelnut oil, or vegetable oil
150g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
300g peanut butter, for decoration
Chocolate flakes

For the caramel sauce
300g caster sugar
300g double cream
30g unsalted butter

Method
1
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6 and line the baking tray with baking parchment. Spread the peanuts out on another baking tray, dust with the icing sugar, and let them caramelise on the middle shelf of the oven for 5–10 min. Leave to cool, then roughly chop. Set aside 50g of the chopped peanuts for decoration. Finely chop the chocolate and melt it with the butter in a heatproof bowl over simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water), stirring occasionally as it melts.

2 Beat the eggs with the caster sugar and light brown sugar in a bowl using an electric hand whisk until thick and creamy. Stir the hazelnut oil into the melted chocolate mixture, then gradually beat this into the egg and sugar mix. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together and fold in. Finally, carefully fold in the caramelised peanuts.

3 Spoon the batter evenly over the baking tray and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 20 min until a crisp layer of caramelised sugar is visible on the surface. Remove from the oven, let the brownie cool on the tray then cut into 20 pieces.

4 To make the caramel sauce, let the sugar caramelise in a saucepan over a medium heat. Pour in the cream and continue to simmer over a low heat until the caramel dissolves. Finally, work in the butter using a hand-held blender to give a smooth sauce. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

5 To decorate, you can fill a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle with the peanut butter and pipe this on to the brownies, or just dollop it on with a spoon. Drizzle caramel sauce over the peanut butter and scatter with chocolate flakes and the reserved caramelised peanuts.

Rice pudding muffins

Makes 12

Ingredients

For the muffins
25g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for the moulds
25g unsalted rice cakes
2 eggs
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
110g caster sugar
100g plain flour
50g rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
125ml milk
40g sour cherries, pitted, thawed from frozen
125g cooked rice pudding

For decoration
75g unsalted rice cakes
2 tbsp icing sugar
2 tsp cornflour
2 tsp caster sugar
100ml cherry juice
1 cinnamon stick
125g sour cherries, pitted, thawed from frozen

Method
1
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Butter the muffin moulds or insert a paper case into each.

2 To make the muffins, roughly chop the rice cakes. Cream the butter and eggs in a bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla seeds and sugar. Combine the flour, rice flour, baking powder and cinnamon, and add to the butter mixture alternating with the milk. Add the rice cake pieces, cherries and rice pudding.

3 Divide the batter between the moulds. Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 25 min until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

4 For decoration, first break up the rice cakes to the size you desire. Heat a saucepan on a low-medium heat. Add the rice cake pieces, scatter the icing sugar on top of them, and let them caramelise over a medium heat, turning constantly. Remove from the pan and set aside.

5 Mix the cornflour with the caster sugar and 2 tbsp of the cherry juice and stir until smooth. Bring the remaining cherry juice to the boil in a saucepan with the cinnamon stick. Add the cherries and simmer for 2 min, stirring all the time. Stir in the cornflour mixture and let everything cool down, removing the cinnamon stick. Decorate the muffins with the cherry mixture and caramelised rice cake pieces.

Carrot cake with mascarpone cream

Serves 15

Ingredients

For the cake
4 carrots, about 500g in total
440g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
300g caster sugar
4 eggs
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
Pinch of salt
300ml flavourless vegetable oil
40g walnuts, chopped, plus extra for decoration

For the mascarpone cream and decoration
3 leaves of gelatine
250g double cream
3½ tbsp almond syrup
500g mascarpone
50g caster sugar
Decorative carrots made from marzipan
Finely grated orange zest, for decoration
Icing sugar, for dusting

For the caramel sauce
125g caster sugar
125g double cream
15g unsalted butter

Method
1
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4 and place a dessert frame on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Peel and grate the carrots for the cake. Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.

2 Beat the sugar in a bowl with the eggs, orange zest and salt using an electric hand whisk on a medium setting for 3 min. Trickle in the oil in a thin stream, still beating, then fold in the grated carrots, the flour mixture and the walnuts. Spoon the cake batter into the dessert frame and smooth it over. Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 25–30 min. Remove from the oven and let it cool on the tray, then release from the frame.

3 Meanwhile, soak the gelatine for the mascarpone cream in cold water for 10 min. Whip the cream in a bowl using an electric hand whisk on a medium setting until it is just holding its shape. Warm the almond syrup in a pan, squeeze out the gelatine and dissolve it in the warmed syrup. Stir the mascarpone and sugar together in a bowl. Stir about 2 tbsp of the mascarpone mix into the syrup mixture, then swiftly combine this with the remaining mascarpone. Finally, carefully fold in the cream. Transfer the whole thing to a bowl, cover and refrigerate to set for 2 hours.

4 To make the caramel sauce, let the sugar caramelise in a saucepan over a medium heat. Pour in the cream and continue to simmer over a low heat until the caramel dissolves. Finally, work in the butter using a hand-held blender, to give a smooth sauce. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

5 Stir up the mascarpone cream with a balloon whisk. Cut the carrot sponge horizontally into 3 pieces and spread the base section with cream. Lay the second section on top and cover with cream. Put the third piece on top, spread it with cream and refrigerate the cake for a further 2 hours. Decorate with marzipan carrots, walnuts, grated orange zest, caramel sauce and icing sugar.

Blueberry madeira cake with muesli

Serves 8

Ingredients

For the cake
250g unsalted butter (room temperature)
275g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g plus 4 tbsp good-quality muesli
210g icing sugar, plus 6 tsp for icing
Seeds from ½ vanilla pod
100g good-quality marzipan
6 eggs
250g blueberries, fresh or thawed
125g fresh blueberries, for decoration

Method
1
Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Butter the loaf tin and dust it with flour, shaking out the excess. Mix the flour, baking powder and 200g muesli.

2 Beat the butter with the icing sugar and the vanilla seeds in a bowl until creamy. In a second bowl beat the marzipan until smooth, adding the eggs one at a time until the ingredients are smoothly combined. Stir the marzipan mixture into the butter mixture, then briefly stir in the flour mixture to combine. Finally, fold in the blueberries.

3 Spoon the cake batter into the loaf tin and smooth it out. Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 10 min. Then use a knife to make a lengthways cut, about 1cm deep, down the centre of the loaf. Reduce the oven temperature to 160C/gas 3 and bake for 45 min. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

4 For decoration, sprinkle the 4 tbsp of muesli with 2 tbsp of icing sugar in a saucepan and let it caramelise over a medium heat. To make the icing, mix the remaining icing sugar in a bowl with 1 tbsp of water and stir until smooth. Spread the icing over the cake, sprinkle with the caramelised muesli and decorate with blueberries.

Anna Jones
Anna Jones

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