Classic Lemon Cheesecake


I’d never made a cheesecake before, but it was really easy. I combined bits from two recipes I have according to what I thought would taste best and and it worked well.


For the base:
About 10 digestive biscuits
About 25g butter

For the filling:
700g cream cheese (Philadelphia is good)
150g sugar
Grated rind and the juice of half a lemon
1tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs, beaten

The Cooking

You need a deep cake tin approximately 8 inches/20cm. Grease it well with butter and then you need to put it on some foil and press the foil all around the sides of the tin. This is so that when you place the cake in water (which you will) the water won’t seep into the cake tin and the cake.

Pre-heat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas mark 3. Get a large roasting tin and fill it with water to a depth of about an inch. Put the roasting tray of water into the oven. This is a bain-marie.

Now bash up the biscuits. Put them in a plastic bag and hit them with a blunt instrument. Try not to do yourself an injury. Cut up the butter finely and mix it with the biscuit crumbs with your fingers until it’s all mixed in and there are no big lumps of butter. Alternatively, just whizz the whole biscuits and butter in the mixer for a minute.

Press the crushed biscuits into the bottom of the cake tin in an even layer.

Now beat together the cream cheese, lemon juice and rind, sugar and vanilla essense. When it is smooth, add the egg a bit at a time, whisking it through so it is all smooth. I used a handheld blender.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin on top of the biscuits. Put the cake tin, protected by the foil, into the bain-marie. Bake it for about an hour, then turn the oven off and let it sit in the oven for another 45 minutes or so. Take it out, let it cool, then gently remove it from the tin, running a knife around the edge to loosen it if you need to.

Chill it well before serving, and you can make it look pretty by sprinkling some icing sugar over the top. My mother in law liked this cake very much.


Chocolate Profiteroles


There’s a lot of emphasis these days put on “easy” cooking. And sure, it’s important to have a good stock of simple recipes you can knock up in no time. But sometimes, it’s good to take on a challenge. Choux pastry takes a bit of concentration, but it’s not the hardest thing on he world and once you’ve learnt how to do it, it’s an excellent string to a cook’s bow.

Serves 6-8

225mls/7.5fl.oz water
75g/3oz butter
95g/3 3/4oz plain (all-purpose) flour, seived with a pinch of salt
3 medium eggs, beaten with a fork.

300mls/10fl.oz double or whipping cream

175g/6oz plain chocolate
300mls/10fl.oz water
125g/4oz caster (superfine) sugar

The Cooking

With most recipes you can mess around a bit, fudge the amounts, cut stuff out if you feel like it. But please, don’t do that here. Measure carefully, that’s the secret to choux pastry. I made this in a cookery class and the teacher was standing over me, making sure I measured exactly, and it’s good that she did because it came out well. Follow the recipe carefully, it’s tried and tested and will work, I promise.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6

First, put the water and butter for the pastry in a saucepan and bring them slowly to the boil, making sure that that the butter melts before the water boils. Grab a whisk, have it handy, then pour in the flour all at once, immediately whisking firmly and quickly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan. It’ll be a bit like wallpaper paste, smooth and glossy.

Take the pan off the heat and add the beaten eggs a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon all the time. Don’t panic if it goes a bit sloppy, just keep stirring. Once all the eggs have been added, it should have the same texture as it did before you added the eggs but will now be glossy. Glossy wallpaper paste. Lovely.

Grease a baking tray and using a spoon (or two) , put small balls of the dough about the size of a pingpong ball onto the tray.

Sprinkle water around the pastires and turn the oven up to 220F/425F/Gas 7. Bake the pastries for 30-40 minutes until well-risen and light brown.

While the pastries are in the oven, make the chocolate sauce:

Melt the chocolate with the water in a saucepan over a low heat. When it’s smooth, add the sugar. When the sugar has dissolved bring the solution to the boil and boil for 10-15 minutes until the sauce is rich and syrupy.


Lift the pastries off the baking tray and prick each one to release the steam. Allow them to go cold. Whisk the cream until it’s light and fluffy, make a slit in the bottom of each pastry and either spoon or pipe the cream in.

Pile the pastries into a pyramid and pour over the sauce. Await praise from your friends and family.

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Pear Tart with Walnut Pastry

pear tart

Check that baby out. It was my first time making this and if I can make it look and taste that good, you can too.


French Pastry
200g/8oz Plain (all-purpose) Flour
100g/4oz Caster (superfine) Sugar
100g/4oz Butter
50ml water
2 eggs
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
40g/1.5oz Chopped walnuts
5 Pears
Sugar Syrup
50g/2oz Caster (superfine) sugar
300ml water

The Cooking

Crack the eggs and separate the yolks (don’t throw away the egg whites). Make a ring of flour on your chopping board. But the butter, egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon and water in the centre of the circle and mush it all together with your hands. Gradually draw the flour into the mush, flicking it in a bit at a time until the whole thing is mixed together well. It will seem quite wet but don’t worry about it. Mix in the chopped walnuts. Pop the whole lot in some cling film (saran wrap), wrap it up and put it in the fridge for an hour or so.

Peel and quarter the pears and carefully cut the cores out. Put the water and sugar into a pan and bring it to the boil. Let it boil for 10 minutes or so until it goes a bit glossy. Put the pear quarters in the sugar solution and simmer for about 4 minutes. Remove the pears from the liquid and set aside on some kitchen paper to dry and cool.

After an hour, take the dough out of the fridge. It should be slightly firmer. On a floured chopping board roll out two thirds the dough into a circle with a rolling pin until it is the right size to fit the tart dish. Carefully lift the rolled out dough by rolling it round the rolling pin and lifting it – if it’s sticky, put some flour on the rolling pin. This might take a couple of tries because it’s quite tricky, but persevere. Lay the dough onto the tart dish and press down gently so it fits the dish snugly. Don’t worry if the edges aren’t neat, you can either trim it and patch it or leave it as it is for that home-made look.

Now put the pear quarters in the dish in a circle with the thinner end towards the middle in a wheel shape. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F.

Roll out the remaining third of the dough in a circle until it’s the right size to fit over the top of the pears and reach the edge. Stamp out a 3-inch circle in the middle of the dough (I used the end of a tin of beans, pressed into the middle of the dough). Now lift the ring of pastry and put it over the pears and smoosh the edges with the dough that’s lining the tart. Fold the edges of the dough that’s lining the dish over the edge of the top layer of dough.

Brush the dough with the egg white you reserved in a cup earlier – this will make it shiny when cooked.

Put the whole thing into the pre-heated oven for 30/35 minutes until it is golden brown. Sprinkle some sugar over the top and serve it hot or cold with cream or ice cream. Wickedly delicious.

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Chocolate Muffins

chocolate muffins

Would you believe that in all of the cookbooks I own I could not find one single recipe for chocolate muffins? Not even in my “Muffins and cakes” book. Baffling. But I have made chocolate muffins before and was not deterred, turning to t’internet for a recipe.

It took me 15 MINUTES of internet searching before I found a recipe I felt I could trust (that is, one from a site that doesn’t use Comic Sans or flashing gifs). Fifteen of your Enghlish minutes! That’s the equivalent of, like, a DAY’S non-internet research.

Anyway, this recipe came from the UKTV Food site (re-written my way) and went down well with Mr B and his workmates. I was most saintly and only had one small one.

Ingredients (Makes 20 Muffins)

250g Butter
190g caster sugar
4-5 eggs (I used 4)
250g self raising flour
20g Baking powder
60ml Milk
100g chocolate chips
150g drinking chocolate

Muffin cases and a muffin tray.

The Cooking

In a mixing bowl, mix together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until fluffy. Crack in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well with each addition, and whisk together for 5 minutes. Don’t be scared if it goes sloppy and looks like it’s fallen apart, just keep mixing and it’ll come together.

Sift in the flour and baking powder to the butter mixture and fold together until well-blended. Try not to beat it to death, the aim is to keep it light and fluffy.

Add in the milk and the drinking chocolate and mix for 1 minute. Fold in the chocolate chips. Once mixed, try not to eat it all off the spon right there and then.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/390F. Line muffin trays with paper cases, making 20 muffin cases in all. I only have one tray with space for twelve muffins, so I did it in two batches.

Drop a large tablespoon (or two, depending on what size you want them) of the muffin mixture in each case, trying not to get it all over the tray like I did. Bake the muffins for 15-20 minutes until cooked through and risen. They will crack a bit on the top, which is a good thing. You know what muffins look like. Leave them to cool in the tray to begin with because they’re quite soft when they first come out of the oven and you don’t want to squash them. After five minutes, lift them out and feed to whoever you love best.