Chocolate & Chilli Fudgey Cake...

A colleague of mine brought this cake in to work a few weeks back. A few of our more conservative colleagues were not convinced, but I loved it and had a good few portions.
Naturally, I wanted to recreate it so got the recipe from her.

300g Caster Sugar/Light Brown Sugar
250g Butter
3 Eggs
100g Plain Flour
100g Self-raising Flour
500g Dark Chocolate
1 or 2 medium-sized Chillies
200ml Double Cream

• Preheat oven to 150°C and line a 20cm cake tin.
• Beat the butter and sugar together until creamed.
• Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
• Melt 300g of chocolate, cool slightly and add to the mixture.
• Stir in the flour and finely chopped chilli.
• Bake for around 1¼ hours, leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin.

• Melt the remaining chocolate and mix into the cream. Cool slightly to thicken.
• When the cake is fully cooled, spread the icing on top.

• It’s hard to define how much chilli to put in. Chocolate masks chilli quite well, so I added finely chopped chilli to the mixture until I could taste it. The resulting cake has only a hint and a very slight tingle on the tongue. It also takes away the sweetness of the chocolate leaving just the rich flavour.
• Adapted from
this recipe
• Makes at least 12 slices.
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Cabbage Soup...

We rarely buy soup, it seems there’s always some vegetables that have passed their best to create one from for a tasty Saturday lunch. I came up with this purely to use up a very limp cabbage and was pleasantly surprised at its tastiness! I also threw in the green top of a leek which was lying around, and attribute this to lifting the cabbage’s flavour.

Like most soup, there’s not really a definitive way of making it, it’s a bit of an art and you style it to your own tastes/preferences. What is essential is that you serve it with some crusty fresh bread’n’butter.

Half a Savoy cabbage
Green end of a leek
1 clove of garlic
1 onion
Veg stock cube
Salt & pepper

• Slice the onion and garlic then sweat in butter/olive oil until softened, not browned, in a large saucepan.
• Add chopped leek and cabbage and briefly fry for a couple of minutes.
• Dissolve a stock cube in about 1-1½ litres of water and add to pan.
• Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Not too long though, or the cabbage will not be tasty; the liquid should have slightly reduced.
• Lightly blitz with hand blender to break up cabbage, but leave plenty of chunky bits for the bottom of the bowl.
• Season to taste before serving.

• Makes 2-3 portions. Just increase quantities for a larger amount.
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Great summery dish, with a bit of a ‘wow’ factor too. It’s something of a family favourite, with my mum’s having a very good reputation! I can remember more than a few rows over who’d had the biggest piece or got to finish the extra slice…
That said, I’ve never quite succeeded in replicating the mallow fluffiness of my mum’s, but the results are still pretty good and taste amazing.

• Preheat oven to 150°C and line a large baking sheet

• Whisk the egg whites until they are really stiff, then whisk in half the sugar until shiny and stiff
• Fold in the remaining sugar with cornflour, a teaspoon of lemon juice and few drops of vanilla essence
• Spread thickly onto the baking sheet and place in oven for 1¼-1½hours
• Allow to cool for a good hour before topping

• Whip the cream and fold in a couple of table spoons of crème fraiche.
• Spread over the meringue and top with fruit.

• Serves 8-10.
• To whip egg white successfully, you need a totally clean bowl with no drops of water in it and no egg yolk contaminating the whites.
• The addition of crème fraiche tones down the richness of the cream, but it’s optional.
• All summer fruits are excellent additions. You’ll notice I added some kiwi in the final picture.
• As a variation to the usual theme, I've been wondering about trying a kind of banoffee pie/pavlova blend, topping the pavlova with bananas, toffee sauce, crushed biscuit and flaked chocolate. Will let you know if I do.
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Lemon Drizzle Cake...

This is dead simple, but extremely tasty. It is made from a straightforward Victoria sponge mixture, with the addition of lemon once baked.

• Preheat oven to 180°C, and line a standard loaf tin
• Beat butter and sugar until creamy
• Beat in eggs one-by-one with a little flour if looks like might separate
• Stir in flour and lemon zest
• Bake for 45-50mins (or until skewer comes out clean)
• Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together to make a loose icing/syrup
• Leave in tin and use a skewer or cocktail stick to prick the top all over
• Gently and slowly pour over the icing so that it soaks into the cake and leave to cool in the tin. The icing will form a slight sugary crust and the cake will be intensely lemony.

• Serves 8-10.
• No need to make this in a loaf tin, a standard round 20-23cm tin would do the job too.
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