Recipes to make you smile – tasty, simple & sometimes very naughty !

Not-too-sweet Banana Muffins

Makes 10; Oven 180’C or 160’C fan oven

  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 bananas (mashed)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 75g melted butter
  • 150g chocolate chips (optional, but very yummy)
  1. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl & wet in another
  2. Combine wet & dry ingredients, mix gently until smooth (do not overmix)
  3. Divide mix between 10 muffin cases
  4. Bake for 15-20mins until they spring back & are slightly golden
  5. My mum adds cream cheese frosting to hers. Lovely, but it kind of defeats the object of keeping the sugar to a minimum !

Divine, but simple, Chocolate Cheesecake

Serves 8

  • 150g digestive biscuits (crushed – I always go for McVities, as they taste better)
  • 100g melted butter
  • 300g full fat cream cheese (don’t be tempted to use low fat, as too watery)
  • 200g mascarpone cheese
  • 300g milk chocolate (melted & slightly warm – I use cadbury’s dairy milk)
  • 100g dark chocolate (melted & slightly warm- I use Bournville)
  1. Mix crushed biscuits & butter, then press into the base of a 20cm springform tin. I have been known to line my tin with cling-film, for easy cheesecake removal, but it is a bit fiddly. Pop in the fridge to chill.
  2. Mix together the cream cheese & mascarpone until smooth.
  3. Quickly fold the milk chocolate into the cheese mix (which shouldn’t be too cold or the chocolate will form lumps – not a disaster, but tastier if it doesn’t).
  4. Stir in the dark chocolate to create a swirly effect.
  5. Spoon over the chilled biscuit base & decorate with more chocolate: buttons, crushed up flake, truffles etc.
  6. Put in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.

Gut (& purse) busting Rocky Road Chunks

Makes about 24 chunks

  • 1.4kg milk chocolate (melted)
  • 200g maltesers
  • 8 mars bars (chopped)
  • 200g dried chopped fruit (I like apricots)
  • 100g rice krispies
  • 100g marshmallows (chopped)
  • Sprinkles to finish off
  • Brownie tin (33x23x5cm), lined with greaseproof paper
  1. Put all of the dry ingredients in a big bowl & completely mix it up.
  2. Pour over the slightly cooled melted chocolate & mix until everything coated.
  3. Press the mix into the tin & sprinkle over the sprinkles.
  4. Cool, cover & put in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  5. To cut into chunks, take it out of the fridge for a few minutes, as it is really hard. Cut into 24 chunks.

Kitchen Front Ginger Cake (from BBC Good Food Magazine) – here by popular demand

Serves: 14: oven 150’C or 130’C Fan

  • 300g butter or margarine (I use butter)
  • 400g golden syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 130g plain flour
  • 110g soft dark brown sugar
  • 1 rounded tsp ground ginger
  • 1 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 26cm round or square cake tin, greased & lined
  1. Heat the oven to 150’C or 130’C Fan.
  2. Melt butter/marg & syrup gently in a pan.
  3. Place flours, ginger, cinnamon, salt & sugar in a mixing bowl & combine.
  4. With mixer running, pour in butter/syrup mix, then add the egg.
  5. Dissovle bicarb in 175ml of warm water & add with the mixer running.
  6. Spoon/pour the very running mix into the prepared tin.
  7. Bake for 60 to 85minutes, test with a skewer from 60mins. It is ready when your skewer comes out clean.
  8. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer carefully to a cooling rack. It is very crumbly whilst warm.
  9. Dust the top of the cake with icing sugar.

Apple Streusel Cake (adapted from Cake Days: Hummingbird Bakery)

Serves 8-10; Oven 160C (fan) or 170C (non-fan); need 20cm spring form cake tin greased & dusted with flour


  • 90g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing tin
  • 210g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1.5 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 80ml whole milk
  • 3 granny smith’s apples, peeled, cored & thinly sliced

Streusel topping

  • 70g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 40g unsalted butter, chilled & diced
  • 70g soft light brown sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C (fan) or 170C (non-fan) & grease/flour your tin.
  2. Make the streusel topping: sift flour & cinnamon into a medium bowl. Add butter & using your fingertips rub everything together until it looks like breadcrumbs. Put bowl to the side.
  3. Cream together the butter & sugar until pale & fluffy. Add the egg & vanilla essence & mix well.
  4. Sift together flour, baking powder & salt. Add half to the butter mix, followed by half the milk, then repeat with the remaining flour & milk. Mix well after each addition. Once everything is fully incorporated, tip the batter into the prepared tin & level it off.
  5. Place the thinly sliced apple all over the cake, making no more than two layers, then evenly sprinkle over the streusel topping.
  6. Bake for 40-45mins, until the top is golden brown & a skewer comes out clean from the bottom sponge mix.
  7. Cool for a while before removing from the tin. Enjoy warm or cold.

Chocolate Guinness Cake (adapted from Cake Days: Hummingbird Bakery)

Serves 12-14; Oven 160C (Fan) or 170C (non-fan); Need 23cm spring form cake tin with base lined with baking parchment, plus greased sides


  • 250g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing tin
  • 300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 140ml buttermilk
  • 250ml Guinness


  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 600g icing sugar
  • 250g full fat soft cheese (I always opt for Philadelphia)
  • Cocoa powder, for dusting the iced cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C (fan) or 170C (non-fan) & line/grease your tin
  2. Pour Guinness into a medium sized saucepan, add the butter & gently heat until it is melted. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the sugar & cocoa powder. Mix the eggs, buttermilk & vanilla in a jug (with a fork). When the mix in the pan isn’t too warm, pour in the egg mix (if it is too warm it will cook the eggs). Stir it all together.
  3. Sift the remaining sponge ingredients into a bowl. Gradually add the pan mixture to flour mix, stirring/whisking slowing all the time. Check everything is incorporated & the batter is smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin & bake for 45mins or until the sponge bounces back & a skewer comes out clean. (Note, my cake too an extra 15mins so yours might too – but regularly check it after 45mins). Cool cake & remove from the tin. Do not attempt to ice it until it is completely cold.
  5. To make the frosting, put the butter, half of the icing sugar & half of the cream cheese into a bowl & mix until it is fully incorporated. Then add the remaining icing sugar & cream cheese. Beat it for several minutes (at medium speed) until light & fluffy.
  6.  Generously cover the cake in frosting. A palette knife is good for smoothing it out. Dust with cocoa powder on the top to finish it off.
  7. I usually put my cake in the fridge to harden off the frosting. It is probably best kept in the fridge and then brought out a while before serving to warm up a bit.

Vanilla Flapjacks (great for lunchboxes)

Up to 18 slices; Oven 170C (Fan) or 180C (non-fan); Need swiss roll tin (23 x 38cm) greased & lined with baking parchment

  • 350g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing tin
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 175g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 75g plain flour
  • 375g oats
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C (fan) or 180C (non-fan) & line/grease your tin.
  2. Place butter, golden syrup, sugar and vanilla in a large saucepan & melt, until smooth & slightly simmering (no lumps of butter or any sugar crystals). Remove from the heat.
  3. Mix the flour into the oats, then stir them into the melted butter/sugar mix, until fully coated.
  4. Pour the mix into the prepared tin & level the top.
  5. Place into the middle of the oven for 20-25mins, or until golden.
  6. Cut into squares whilst still warm & allow to cool on a rack.

For a twist, grate in some orange zest and add a packet of dried cranberries when you add the oats. Then drizzle with melted white chocolate when the flapjacks are cold.

Prawn & Pea Risotto (with huge thanks to Catherine Dampney for passing on the recipe)

Serves 6 (unless you are really hungry)

  • 400g Arborio or Carnaroli Rice (don’t use any other rice or you will get porridge at best)
  • 1 litre chicken stock (or vegetable or fish stock)
  • 2-3 sticks of celerly finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 medium onions or 3 shallots finely chopped
  • 3 big handfuls of frozen peas (or fresh)
  • 70g butter (or creme fraiche)
  • 2 glasses dry white wine (or Vermouth)
  • 500g frozen prawns (or fresh)
  • 1 handful of fresh basil, torn
  • 1/2 handful of fresh mint, chopped
  • Olive oil
  1. Heat some olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Add the onions, then garlic & celery. Fry over a low heat until transparent.
  2. Add the rice, turn up the heat & watch the edges of the rice go slightly transparent.
  3. Tip in the wine & let the alcohol evaporate off.
  4. Start adding the stock. Just enough to cover the rice at first. Keep stirring and cooking until the rice absorbs the stock, then repeat.
  5. Keep going until most of the stock has been stirred in and the rice should be creamy, but still slightly al dente when you bite it.
  6. Add the peas and stir until they are tender.
  7. Stir in the chopped herbs, butter & salt/pepper (as required).

Friday: pile onto plates & migrate to sofa wine in hand for easy to eat Movie dinner; Saturday: Place in serving dish, sprinkle with sprigs of mint and to the table to wow the dinner guests

Victoria Sponge (easy but sensational) – adapted from Paul Hollywood’s “How to Bake”

8 to 10 slices; oven 170C (fan) 180C (non-fan); need loose bottomed round tins (20cm) greased & lined with baking parchment

  • 230g unsalted butter (softened), plus extra for greasing tin
  • 230g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 230g plain flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g raspberry jam (or more)
  • Icing sugar to dust
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C (Fan) or 180C (non-Fan) & line/grease your tin.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix slowly with an electric hand mixer or electric mixer, until all ingredients are combined. Don’t overmix.
  3. Divide evenly between the tins, level off with a palette knife. If you want to be really accurate, weigh each tin to check they are equal.
  4. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30mins, or until golden and slightly shrunk from the sides. Keep checking through the glass as they can brown very quickly, but don’t open the door if they aren’t ready, as they will sink in the middle. Leave to cool in the tins for 5mins and then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool.
  5. Lay the worst looking sponge top side down on a plate. Spread with jam. Carefully place the other sponge, top side up on the top. Dust with icing sugar just before serving. It’s lovely served with whipped cream !

Cheese Scones

Makes 12; oven 200C (fan) 210C (non-fan); need greased baking trays or parchment on baking trays

  • 100g unsalted butter (slightly softened), plus extra for greasing
  • 225g cheddar (grated)
  • 450g self raising flour
  • 8 tbsp milk
  • 8 tbsp water
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (Fan) or 210 (non-Fan) & grease your trays.
  2. Mix flour and salt, then rub in the butter, until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in 175g of the grated cheese.
  4. Add the milk and the water, then mix and lightly knead to make a soft dough.
  5. Roll out on a floured surface to 2.5cm thickness and cut out using circular cutters, to make about 12.
  6. Top each scone with a bit of the remaining grated cheese.
  7. Bake for 10mins until golden

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Makes 2 small loaves; oven 170C (fan) 180C (non-fan); 2 x greased small loaf tins with bottoms & ends lined with baking parchment

  • For the cakes:
  • 200g unsalted butter (melted), plus extra for greasing
  • 320g caster sugar
  • 350g plain flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 lemons – grated zest
  • 250ml milk
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the syrup:
  • 2 lemons – juice & zest
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 200ml water

Preheat the oven to 200C (Fan) or 210 (non-Fan) & grease your trays.

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C (fan) or 180C (non-fan) & grease/line your tins.
  2. Put sugar, eggs & lemon zest in a bowl & beat well.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder & salt into another bowl & mix well.
  4. Combine milk & vanilla in another bowl/jug.
  5. Add 1/3rd of flour mix to sugar/egg mix & beat, then add 1/3rd of milk mix. Repeat until all combined. Beat until light & fluffy, but don’t over-beat.
  6. Pour in melted butter & beat with a spoon until well incorporated.
  7. Pour mix into tins & bake for about 30mins before checking. They should be well risen, golden brown & a skewer comes out clean. They may take up to 45mins, but keep an eye on them.
  8. Whilst cakes are baking put all of syrup ingredients into a small saucepan & boil until it has reduced by half. It should be thin & syrupy.
  9. When the cakes come out of the oven, prick all over with skewers, then ladle over the syrup. Leave them in their tins for 10mins before placing on a cooling rack.
  10. To finish them off you could make up some lemon icing by gradually adding small amounts of lemon juice to sifted icing sugar to create an icing that drizzles off a spoon. This can then be drizzled over the cakes when they are completely cold.
  11. If you have a baking tin with individual squares (for small cakes) you could make smaller versions of these cakes.

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