Lemon Meringue Tartlets

Spicy ginger nut cases, filled with a zesty lemon curd, and finished with a swirl of melt-in-your-mouth meringue. These lemon meringue tartlets are the perfect dessert to enjoy on a sunshine filled day.

The recipe only requires a few ingredients, most of which you probably have already. The case is simply crushed biscuits and a little melted butter (no pastry making skills required). The cases are filled with a homemade lemon curd – trust me it’s super easy and tastes 10 times better than shop bought. The meringue will take you no more than 10 minutes to whip up, and if you’re like me and find homemade meringue a little scary, check out this helpful video tutorial from BBC Good Food.

Lemon meringue tartlets

Ingredients (makes 4 lemon meringue tartlets)

For the base:
150g ginger nut biscuits
75g unsalted butter

For the lemon curd:
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
Juice of 6 lemons
50ml water
2 tablespoons cornflour
175g caster sugar
3 large egg yolks
25g unsalted butter

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites
175g caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour

Method

Prepare 4 loose based individual tart tins by lightly greasing the sides and base with a little butter.

Start with the biscuit base. In a microwave-safe bowl melt the butter in 20 second increments until liquid. Crush the ginger nut biscuits to fine crumbs, using a rolling pin or food processor. Mix with the melted butter. Divide the mixture between the tins, pressing it into the base and sides. Place in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.

Now move on to the lemon curd. In a small saucepan combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, water, sugar, cornflour and egg yolks (remember to reserve the egg whites for your meringue). Gently heat over a low setting, stirring continuously, until the curd starts to thicken. Be patient as this could take 10-15 minutes. Stir in the butter to make a thick, glossy lemon curd. You can test the mixture by spooning a little on a kitchen towel or plate, it should hold its shape.

Spoon a layer of the lemon curd over the biscuit base and leave to cool and set. Keep your leftover curd in a sealed jar in the fridge and use within 1-2 weeks.

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.

Move onto the meringue. Use an electric whisk to whisk the egg whites in a large, clean bowl until stiff. They should look a similar consistency to whipped cream and be thick, bright white and glossy. Mix in the sugar a spoonful at a time. Fold in the cornflour. Spoon or pipe the meringue on top of the lemon curd.

Bake the tartlets in the oven for 15 minutes, until the meringue tops have lightly browned. Leave to cool completely before removing the tarts from the tin.

Sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce

Light toffee sponge made with black treacle and light muscovado sugar, coated in sticky toffee sauce and finished with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream. A classic English recipe and one of my all time favourites, sticky toffee pudding is the ultimate comfort food dessert.

I’ve tried a lot of sticky toffee puddings over the years, basically if it’s on the dessert menu then it has to be ordered. One thing I’ve noticed is that they don’t always have dates in them, and to be completely honest I prefer sticky toffee pudding without dates. Controversial I know! So I have to caveat that this recipe is date-free, but it’s still perfectly sweet and full of flavour.

Ingredients (makes 4 individual sticky toffee puddings)

For the puddings:

50g unsalted butter, soft at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
90g light muscovado sugar 
1 large egg
2 tablespoons black treacle
110g self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
120ml milk
Vanilla ice-cream

For the toffee sauce:

50g butter
60g light muscovado sugar
1/2 tablespoon black treacle
150ml double cream

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan. Grease 4 small pudding moulds (contains 145ml each) or 4 holes of a muffin tray with a little butter.

Start with the puddings. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Add the egg and black treacle and mix through. Add the flour and baking powder and fold together until combined. Pour in the milk and mix again until smooth.

Divide the mixture evenly between the pudding moulds. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until risen and firm.

Whilst the puddings are baking, make your sauce. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has thickened and darkened in colour. This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.

To serve, loosen the puddings from the sides of the tins with a knife before turning them out. Place them top-down on individual serving plates and pour the warm toffee sauce all over. Add a dollop of vanilla ice-cream to finish.

Carrot cake blondies

Chewy blondies flavoured with warming spices, grated carrot and chopped walnuts, finished with a cream cheese swirl.

A delicious modern take on a classic bake, this recipe is perfect for Easter, spring and autumn.

Ingredients (makes 12 blondies)

For the blondies:

170g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
170g unsalted butter
225g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
100g chopped walnuts
1 large carrot (approximately 150g), grated

For the cream cheese swirl:

1 teaspoon vanilla
1 medium egg yolk
50g caster sugar
120g cream cheese, at room temperature

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 23cm square baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Start by making your blondie mixture.

First combine the flour and spices together in a bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl melt the butter until it turns to liquid. Add the light brown sugar and mix until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix. Add the flour and fold everything together. Now add the grated carrots and chopped walnuts and fold together until combined.

Now make your cheesecake mixture.

Place the vanilla, egg yolk, sugar and cream cheese in a bowl and mix until smooth and creamy. If you have an electric whisk i’d recommend using it.

Transfer half of the carrot cake mixture into the baking tin. Drop spoonfuls of 1/2 of the cheesecake mixture over the top. Don’t swirl just yet! Drop spoonfuls of the rest of the carrot cake mixture on top of this and then follow with the remaining cheesecake batter. Using the tip of a knife swirl the two mixtures together.

Bake for 25 minutes. The edges will be brown and the centre should be set. Cool completely in the baking tin before removing and slicing.

Lemon and elderflower cake

Two layers of zingy lemon sponge, sandwiched together with lemon curd and elderflower buttercream. Finished with a scatter of edible flowers, and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Tastes just as good as it looks!

The thin coating of buttercream on the sides is called a ‘semi-naked cake’. There’s a minimal amount of buttercream swiped around the sides, to show off the cakes’ natural texture and filling. It looks really effective and is great if you aren’t a perfectionist as it’s not meant to be neat. There’s no need to crumb-coat, chill, frost, repeat, which also helps save time.

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Ingredients

For the cake:

200g unsalted butter or Stork tub
200g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
200g self-raising flour
Zest of 2 lemons
1-2 tablespoons milk

For the filling:

2 tablespoons homemade or shop-bought lemon curd
250g unsalted butter, soft at room temperature
500g icing sugar
2 tablespoons elderflower cordial

To decorate:

Edible flower blossoms (I bought mine from Sainsbury’s)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line two 8inch round baking tin with greaseproof paper.

Beat the sugar and butter together until light and creamy. Add one egg at a time, along with a little flour, and mix together. Add the remaining flour and lemon zest and fold together until fully mixed.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins, and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the cakes have turned a golden colour and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

Once the cake is cooled, make your elderflower buttercream by first beating the butter with an electric whisk until soft. Sift in half the icing sugar and beat together until smooth. Sift in the remaining icing sugar, add the elderflower cordial and beat again until you have a smooth buttercream.

To decorate

Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Place one cake layer on your cake stand, cake turntable or serving plate. Using an icing spatular, spread a layer of buttercream evenly on top. Drizzle over the lemon curd.

Top with the second cake layer and spread the remaining buttercream on top and all around the sides. Using a flat knife or an icing scraper, smooth out the buttercream on the sides of the cake. This should be rough and the sides of the cake should show through. Finish by decorating with flower blossoms.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Two layers of moist carrot cake, sandwiched together with cream cheese frosting, dusted and cinnamon and sprinkled with chopped walnuts. A classic bake, perfect for your Easter Sunday celebrations.

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Ingredients (makes  a two layer 8inch cake)

300g soft light brown sugar
4 medium eggs, at room temperature
300ml sunflower oil
150g self-raising flour
150g wholemeal self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
300g carrots, grated
Zest of a large orange
100g walnuts, chopped
100g sultanas

For the cream cheese frosting:
150g icing sugar
70g unsalted butter, soft at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
100g full-fat cream cheese, cold from the fridge
Cinnamon, for dusting
20g extra walnuts, to decorate

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line two 8inch round baking tin with greaseproof paper.

Start by making the cakes. Put the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla extract into a large mixing bowl and beat until all the ingredients are well mixed (don’t worry if it looks slightly split). In a separate bowl combine the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and orange zest.

Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry and continue to beat until everything is just combined (be careful not to over mix). Finally, fold in the grated carrot, sultanas and chopped walnuts.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins, tapping them lightly on the side to remove any air bubbles, and bake in the oven for 35-40 mins until the cakes have turned a golden colour and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to completely cool before removing the cakes from the tins.

Now make the cream cheese frosting. Beat the butter, icing sugar and milk with an electric mixer for a couple of minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the cream cheese and fold together until just combined. Be careful not to over do it, as it can quickly become runny.

Spread half of the frosting on top of one of the cakes, place the other on top and repeat. Finish by dusting the cake with cinnamon and dotting the walnuts on top of the cake.