Quick Individual Cherry Cobbler

So I’m a sucker for cravings. Once I get something in my mind that’s it- I won’t rest until I’ve tasted it. That was that was the case with this cherry cobbler. Sure it’s a cheat’s version- using canned pin filling. But I craved it and the quicker I got it the better. Also lets face it- using canned filling cuts down on the stove-time involved in the making off this. If you feel so inclined, go right ahead with your favorite mix of cherries that you might use for your fillings. I’m definitely not one to dictate how you should run your kitchen.

The topping here is an adaption of a regular biscuit dough that I use to biscuit top stews and casseroles. Here I’ve slightly upped the sugar for a sweeter finish, adding in some cinnamon and oats for a more rustic dessert finish.

I love the flavor combination of cherries and almonds, thinking that it’s one of the best out there. Food trivia moment- both are linked by the compound Benzaldehyde, which is the second most popular flavor and fragrance after vanillin. Baking- educational too! (Darn! now I’m thinking I need to make a Cherry Bakewell…curse you infernal cravings!

With the use of pie filling these are so quick and easy that even making them in the current warmer weather can be justified. Plus adding a scoop of your favorite ice cream on top even more so!

Makes 4

Ingredients

  • 1 can 540ml (20 oz) cherry pie filling
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup toasted, flaked almonds
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Jumbo rolled oats
  • 3 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 Tablespoon Turbinado sugar

Method

  1. Butter four 0.25L ramekins
  2. In a bowl mix the pie filling and the almond extract. Divide the pie filling equally among the ramekins
  3. Sprinkle the tops of the pie filling with the toasted almond flakes. Set them aside on a foil-lined baking sheet until later
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F
  5. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, ground cinnamon and salt. Whisk to combine
  6. Add the melted butter and milk, stirring just until moistened. The biscuit batter will be quite thick and lumpy. Drop batter by heaping scoopfuls onto the filling
  7. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the biscuit dough
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until biscuits are browned and filling is hot and bubbly
  9. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Banana & Prune Sticky Toffee Cakes

Makes 6

Ingredients

Banana & Prune Cakes

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup pitted prunes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 3 medium-size overripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)

Rum Toffee Sauce

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons Rum (or omit for a kiddy-friendly version)

Method

Banana & Prune Cakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease, or spray with baking spray, 6 mini-savarin or Bundt tins
  2. In a small heatproof bowl, pour orange juice followed by the boiling water over the chopped prunes; stir in the baking soda. Stir together to combine and set aside to soak for about 15-2 0minutes
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt. Set aside until needed
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 9-10 minutes
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until combined, followed by the honey
  6. Reduce speed to low, beat in the flour mixture until just combined
  7. Add the date mixture (including liquid) and bananas, and beat at low speed until just combined
  8. Divide the batter into the prepared mini-pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes

Rum Toffee Sauce

  1. With about 10 minutes left on the pudding baking time, in a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream, the butter, the brown sugar, and the rum.
  2. Bring to a gentle boil over moderate heat, stirring to melt the butter and sugar, cooking until slightly thickened and deep golden, about 3 minutes.
  3. Keep warm until serving

To finish

  1. Once you remove the cakes from the oven, using a skewer or toothpick, poke holes all over the exposed surface
  2. Spoon 4-5 teaspoons of the warm sauce over the cakes, and let stand until absorbed, about 10 minutes
  3. Serve warm*, turned out onto plates (they may take some gentle persuasion!) with the remaining sauce spooned over

*If your sauce sets or becomes too thick to pour, gently warm over a low heat until pourable and warm again.

Chocolate Vinegar Cake

Now don’t raise your eyebrows like that! No, I it’s not a typo- there is indeed vinegar listed in this cake. Going by it’s other moniker “Depression Chocolate Cake”, this may well be one of those recipes that probably everyone’s baking inclined grandparent would probably have in their repertoire. Dating from a time of the Great Depression, when things like eggs, milk, butter and sugar were really expensive and scarce, this recipe keeps them to a minimum. So much that with it’s absence of eggs and dairy the sponge itself can be considered vegan. If you want to finish to completion with it’s delectable ganache topping and still remain vegan-friendly, I’ve included some recommendations at the end of the recipe.

Another bonus with this recipe? Minimal washing up! In fact if you choose to cake it the classic way as a sheet cake to be eaten from the pan, you can save on that singular, additional bowl for clean up. Just make sure to omit the baking parchment lining and use a non-stick pan. Dump everything in the pan, exert a bit more restraint when mixing together and away you go! No bowl, all-in-one sheet cake.

Finishing with chocolate ganache is entirely optional. Some people prefer just a simple dusting of powdered sugar, others prefer just to leave it completely naked and bask in the unadulterated chocolatiness of the sponge itself. Whatever way you decide to finish it, I’m pretty sure you wont be making it just the once!

Chocolate Vinegar Cake #recipe

Ingredients

Makes 1 no. 9” x 12” sheet cake

Chocolate Vinegar Cake

  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons white vinegar

Chocolate Ganache topping*

  • 1 cup heavy cream, or whipping cream*
  • 8oz semi-sweet chocolate, in small pieces

Method

  1. For the ganache topping, place the chocolate pieces in a medium heatproof bowl
  2. Heat the heavy cream/ whipping cream, in a small pan over a medium heat until just below boiling (look for small bubbles at the edge of the cream in the pan)
  3. Remove the cream from the heat and gently pour the warmed cream over the chocolate pieces in the bowl. Leave to rest for 5 minutes
  4. After 5 minutes, gently stir the chocolate/ cream mixture with a whisk to emulsify it. It will appear mottled and speckled at first but continue gently stirring until it thickens and is uniform in color
  5. Once fully smooth and uniform in color, set aside and leave to fully cool before spreading (usually takes about 2 hours at room temperature). The mixture will thicken to spreadable consistency after this time
  6. Preheat your oven to 350F
  7. Prepare a 9” x 12” baking pan by greasing and lining with baking parchment
  8. In a large bowl combine all the cake ingredients- the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, water, canola oil, vanilla extract, and vinegar
  9. Whisk until fully combined, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to avoid any dry ingredient residue. Continue mixing until fully blended and smooth
  10. Pour into your prepared pan. If needed gently tilt the pan to allow the cake batter to flow into the corners
  11. Bake in your preheated oven for between 20-25minutesm or until a cake tester, or skewer, comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. Remove the cake from the oven allow to cool in tin for 5 minutes in a rack
  12. After allowing to cool for 5 minutes, invert the cake onto a cooling rack lined with baking parchment
  13. Remove the tin and lining baking parchment paper and allow the cake to cool fully below finishing with your chocolate ganache topping
  14. Once your cake has fully cooled, pour your chocolate ganache topping over the surface and spread with an offset spatula to cover the cake
  15. Slice however you like and enjoy!

*Whilst the cake sponge in this recipe is vegan, the chocolate ganache isn’t. If you want a complete vegan friendly cake substitute 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (Make sure to fully shake it before using). Also make sure that your chocolate that your using is vegan-friendly.

Cinnamon & Toasted Coconut “Babka”

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Covid quarantine has been interesting to say the least. Amongst everything else the lighter side of things including apocalyptical shortages of toilet tissue; mind-numbing cabin fever and Netflix binges galore to say the least. But it’s the baking I’ll remember. Never in any pandemic themed movie was there a world where the protagonist’s quest revolved around that of All Purpose flour and yeast. CV-19 triggered peoples’ inner baking gusto. Was it the yearning for self-sufficiency in an uncertain world, or perhaps that solace of creative therapy? Everyone has their own answer no doubt. What I do  know is that never have my social media feeds been so alive with breads and bakes from domestic kitchen alchemists. Sourdoughs, scones and banana bread. Oh- the plethora of banana breads! 101 ways with that familiar speckley brown fruit. But another baked bread that’s been quietly enjoying a renaissance is the Babka.

This one’s been on my ‘To Do’ list for a while. Surely I’m not the only one who finds something hypnotic about the ripples, folds and swirls of the this loaf. And so multi-purpose too! Stuck for breakfast? Lightly toast a slice as a perfect crispy-edged morsel with your coffee. Last minute dessert needed? Gently oven warm and top with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream, and melt into the sublime comforting gooeyness.

There appears to be much debate about which is best, and dependent on which part of which city you live in who’s is best. Whether it’s to be chocolate filled, or cinnamon laden; sweet or savory. Just like the layers in a babka the opinions are many and varied. I will freely admit to using the term “babka” here in air quotes. Whilst it might have to multi-layered look of the traditional Jewish bread I use my go-to recipe for enriched dough which usually forms the basis of my cinnamon bun recipe. Whilst it’s not a laminated dough, in the sense of croissant structure, it is more akin to a couronne with layered structure twisted and on show.

I feel it only right to give a quick, but hopefully respectful, snapshot history on the baked loaf. The loaf’s name itself is in reference to it’s root’s in the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe- “babka” meaning “little grandmother” in Ukranian, Russian, and Eastern European Yiddish. It’s told that on Shabbat, grandmothers would twist leftover scraps of challah bread with seeds and nuts, forming something not that dissimilar, if a little less sweet, to the babka we know today. With the influx of Eastern European Jews to the United States, especially New York, sweeter fillings were introduced. Chocolate, for instance, was much more obtainable and was included in the bake making the babka closer to the sweet treat we know of today.

Whilst traditionally there seems to be a preference for topping the loaves with a sweet streusel topping I opted here for the lesser known alternative of a simple syrup glaze in order to have those wonderful braid-induced swirls on show. I’ve added toasted coconut to the traditional cinnamon paste filling to add an extra layer to the caramel tones of the paste whilst appealing to my penchant for all things “coconuty”. The recipe here is ample for two loaves- one for immediate scoffing and the other is ideal to pop in the freezer for later date. Simply thaw at room temperature until defrosted to enjoy!

Ingredients

For the simple syrup glaze

  • 1/2 cup fine sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

For the dough and filling

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 stick salted butter
  • 2 1/4 tspns active yeast
  • 1 tspn sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm/ tepid water
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 tspn kosher salt
  • 1 tspn ground cinnamon

For the filling

  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 stick salted butter, softened
  • 3 Tbspns ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbspns maple syrup

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Method

To make the simple syrup

  1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan
  2. Bring to the boil over a medium high heat, until the sugar is dissolved
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool fully

To make the dough

  1. In a jug combine the yeast, sugar and warm water. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes until foaming
  2. Gently heat together the milk and butter over a medium heat until the butter has fully melted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool until lukewarm
  3. In a pan over a medium heat, toast the shredded coconut until golden brown and fragrant. Set aside until needed
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with bread hook attached, combine the AP flour, salt, and cinnamon. Once the yeast mixture has foamed up nicely, tip it on, along with  the cooled butter/ milk mixture. Set your mixer to knead for between 6-7 minutes until it comes together in a single ball and has cleaned the bowl
  5. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl, place in an oiled large bowl, cover and leave to rise until at least doubled in size
  6. Whilst the dough is rising you can make the filling. In a bowl combine the softened butter, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and maple syrup. Stir these together until well combined
  7. Line 2 loaf pans with baking parchment, up and over the sides
  8. Divide the dough in half and set one piece aside. Knock back the first piece of dough and shape into a rectangle, approximately 12″ x 18″
  9. Spread half of the cinnamon paste over the flattened, shaped dough. Once you have this done, then sprinkle half of the toasted shredded coconut over the paste covered surface.
  10. Roll up the dough, along the long side, until fully rolled into a swiss/ jelly roll shape. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, slice the roll, lengthwise, down the middle to expose layers of filling. Pinch together the twp halves at one end and carefully, keeping the exposed filling layer side on top twist together, overlapping into one long “tentacle” shape. Pop one end of the tentacle into the lined loaf pan and arrange the remainder of it, folding it back on itself, so that it fills the pan. It doesn’t have to be too neatly done as this adds to the overall look of the baked babka
  11. Cover with oiled clingwrap, set aside and repeat with the second batch of dough to fill the second loaf tin. Cover as the first and set both aside to proof for a further 45 mins
  12. Near the end of the proofing time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
  13. Once proofed after 45 mins, remove the cling wrap and bake in the middle shelf of your oven for 25mins. After 25mins rotate the tins front to back and bake for an additional 25mins or until the middle of the babka loaves have an internal temperature of 185 degrees F. (If you notice the top of your loaves becoming excessively brown you can tent them with some aluminium foil)
  14. Once your loaves are fully baked, remove from the oven and straight away brush with the cooled simple syrup. Continue until you have used up all the syrup on the loaves. Allow the loaves to cool in their tins before removing
  15. The baked babka loaves are best eaten within a couple of days. They can be stored for 2 days in an airtight container. They also freeze really well. Tightly wrap in baking parchment, then cling wrap and finally aluminium foil. To defrost, remove from freezer and allow to come to room temperature for slicing and serving

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Tahini Double Chocolate Cookies

These cookies are a spin-off from my other “Go To” cookie recipe Snickers-style Peanut Butter Cookies. A few people asked if there was something similar but taking account of the omni-present nut allergy factor. Of course my mental wheels started turning!
What with being in The Time Of Covid I immediately consulted the contents of my pantry. Lo and behold! there was the answer peering sheepishly from behind a burly jar of Nutella- Tahini! Purchased once upon a time full of ignorant ambition with the sole aim of rustling up homemade hummus (which incidentally was done but received with a lacklustre reception) it was used once and then exiled to the shadowy, flour-dusted recesses of my pantry shelves.
So in an effort of waste not want not, I wondered if a like-for-like sub could be done for peanut butter? I’m very happy to report that a favorable result was achieved. So favorable in fact that they didn’t last past Day 2 after being made. If you haven’t tried tahini in cookies you’re missing out on quite a nifty little ace card to have up your seed. Whipping it in to cookies gives a subtle, nutty flavor almost bordering on earthy. The savory tones of it complimenting the overall sweetness of the cookie. The finished bake also yields a softer, almost chewier centre with the use of the sesame butter. Perfection!
Having used just one variety of chocolate in the previously mentioned peanut butter cookie, I wanted to up the stakes (and the indulgence) here. It seemed a natural choice to include both white and semi-sweet chocolate. As I state in the recipe, I definitely recommend roughly chopping the chocolate in to irregular chunks as opposed to the use of regular chocolate chips. I find that chips  detract from the uniqueness of the finished cookie with their homogenetic blandness shape. Sure they have a time and a place- but these cookies ain’t either!

So what are you waiting for? You seriously wont regret trying these out and hopefully they’ll become as much of a staple for you as they are for me here.

Makes 18-20 apx

Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick), room temperature
    • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup tahini butter, well mixed
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2oz semi-sweet chocolate
    • 2oz white chocolate

Method

    1. Chop the chocolate in chunks. You don’t want too fine a piece- irregular and varied sizes look a lot better in the finished cookie. Set aside until needed
    2. Line a cookie sheet with baking parchment and set aside until needed
    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until creamy (about 10 mins at medium speed)
    4. Mix in the egg, followed by the tahini butter and continue mixing until fully combined
    5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and whisk to combine.
    6. Gradually add the combined dry ingredients into the sugar/butter mixture. Mix on medium/low speed until fully incorporated
    7. Fold in the chocolate chunks. Mix until well mixed through the dough (I find here it easier to fold by hand rather than using a spatula or spoon. It just depends on what you’re more comfortable with)
    8. Cover the dough with cling wrap and refrigerate the dough for between 20- 30mins
    9. Preheat your oven to 325°F
    10. Using a medium cookie scoop (2 tbspn apx) shape the dough into 1 inch balls. Place the balls of dough about 2-3 inches apart on the pre-limed cookie sheet
    11. Bake at 325°F until light brown, about 15 to 17 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool on their baking sheets for 5 minutes. After that, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely

*The baked cookies will keep for up to a week in an airtight container