Donuts (homemade)

It was our friend Annika that warned us of donuts on the pier, she said we hadn't 'done' the Brighton experience unless we'd paid more than necessary for more doughnuts than we actually needed. Generally I would think of myself as a healthy eater and actually happier with cous cous than creme caramel but, in this instance, Annika was right. Donuts did solve overcast Tuesday blues, for a moment or two. 

They have become something of a talking point. Should the doughy pillows be filled with jam? Or custard as St John's have suggested? Should they be baked or deep fried? I spent my Saturday perfecting a recipe which I think, outshone those dirty ones from the pier. 

Makes 6 Doughnuts 
(recipe adapted from Felicity Cloake)

225g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
½ tsp salt
20g caster sugar, plus extra to dust

20g unsalted butter, 
65ml whole milk, warmed
45ml warm water
1 egg, beaten
2 litres vegetable or sunflower oil, to cook

1 tsp cinnamon
1. Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Put the butter into a bowl with the warm milk and water, and stir to melt. Pour this into the mixing bowl, along with the egg, and stir until it comes together into a dough: it should be firm, but soft.

2. Tip on to a lightly floured surface, or into a mixer fitted with a dough hook, and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Put into a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel, and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (about an hour).

3. Shape into 6 balls of about 80g each, folding each side tightly into the centre in turn, turning as you go, then turn the ball over and put it on a lightly floured baking tray or board, spacing them well apart. Cover and leave to rise again for 45 minutes.

4. Heat the oil in a large pan or deep-fat fryer to 160C. Cook the doughnuts in 2 batches for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden, then blot with kitchen paper and sprinkle with caster sugar and ground cinnamon.


The best beetroot espresso brownie

Such is the brownie’s reputation; it can cope with an unorthodox intruder. Both the beetroot and the coffee make this particular version sing; it is bitter, but not too much, rich but not to it’s detriment and even gluten free to satisfy those guests. 







200g raw beetroot, peeled  (approximately 2 medium)

250g 70% dark chocolate

2 heaped tsp. instant coffee granules

200g unsalted butter

400g caster sugar

4 medium eggs, beaten

50g cocoa powder

50g plain flour

Pinch of salt

You will also need a 20cm x 20cm x 4cm square tin

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4. Line a 20cm x 20cm x 4cm shallow brownie tin with parchment paper.

2. Prepare the beetroot by peeling and grating on the fine side of a box grater.   

3. Melt the chocolate, butter and coffee granules very gently in a large, heavy based saucepan over a low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped beetroot, caster sugar sugar and beaten eggs. Combine thoroughly before adding cocoa powder, plain flour and a pinch of salt to the mixture. Stir well.

4. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes until just cooked, brownies are easy to over bake. The top should be dried to a paler brow, but the middle should still be dark and dense and gooey and only just firm. Allow to cool completely in tin before slicing, as it will continue to cook until cooled.


Foolproof Ultimate Pancakes

Every year for I’d say, 15 years I’ve made pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Lent beginning was a major thing at home and sitting around the kitchen we’d each resolve to change habits or indeed, take up new challenges. Mum would always aim to eat fewer nuts, she could survive on salted peanuts if she had her way and dad would invariably deny himself double cream for forty days.  As I write, I’m thinking about what shall be my challenge for this year and I think my diet coke habit could be kicked into touch or that 4pm coffee…  

This recipe for pancakes is stolen from my days at Leith’s (I think) or given to me by somebody, I don’t remember who. They are the best I’ve had and should be wolfed down as soon as they touch the plate.


110g Plain Flour 
A pinch of salt 
A pinch of sugar 
1 egg 
1 egg yolk 
285ml Milk 
A little butter, to fry 

Put the flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in the egg yolk and milk until smooth. Rest for 30 minutes. Fry in batches in a buttered frying pan.


The Ultimate Tomato Sauce

If there’s ever a time for comfort food it's when the seasons shift from autumn to winter. This thick, scarlet red sauce is a useful addition to any fridge but particularly one that that needs to make meatballs, bolognaise, lasagne or ‘saucy pasta’ at any point during the week.
Double the quantities if you have a pan large enough, the sauce keeps well and I promise you’ll find it useful.

3 tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 tbsp. tomato puree
2 x 400g tins good quality chopped tomatoes
200ml vegetable stock
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp. soft brown sugar

1. Start by making the rich tomato sauce: heat 3 tbsp. of the oil in a frying pan, over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion and soften over a gentle heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring, for a couple more minutes. Stir through the tomato puree then pour over the tinned tomatoes and stock, season with salt and add the sugar. Stir well and then simmer gently uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is lovely and thick.


Broad bean & Ham Hock & Wholegrain Mustard Pie

A thrifty ham hock is the back bone to this recipe and, partnered with cornichons and cream, it equates to pie heaven. The reasurringly creamy filling is encased in fudgy pastry, highly glazed and sprinkled with poppy seeds.


2 ham hocks
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon peppercorns
220g broad beans, podded weight
1½ tablespoons wholegrain mustard
150ml crème fraîche
1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
4 tablespoons finely chopped cornichons
1 tablespoon plain flour
½ small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
300ml cider
1 medium egg, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

175g plain flour
Tiny pinch of salt
150g butter, diced
90ml soured cream
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

You will need a 26cm pie dish

1 Place the ham hocks, bay leaves and peppercorns in a large pan. Cover generously with cold water and bring to a steamy simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 3 hours until tender and falling apart. Keep your eye on the water levels and top up every so often, as needed. Once the ham hocks are cooked, remove from the pan. Separate the meat from the bone – I find it easiest to use your hands. Pull away large chunks of the meat, roughly chop and set aside. You need about 500g of cooked ham hock.

2 Bring a second pan of salted water to the boil. Add the beans and simmer for 5–6 minutes, until just tender. Drain and set aside.

3 Make the pastry. Put the flour, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until the butter is fully incorporated through the flour. Alternatively, put in a large bowl and rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. Then add the soured cream and pulse for 2–3 seconds or stir by hand until just mixed. Shape into a flat disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

4 Select an enormous bowl and combine the cooked ham, broad beans, mustard, crème fraîche, coriander seeds, cornichons, flour and chopped parsley. Pour the cider into a small saucepan over a medium heat and allow to reduce by half. Cool slightly before adding to the ham hock mixture. Season to taste, remembering that the ham is salty.

5 Empty the filling into a pie dish and brush the edge of the dish with a little beaten egg. Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a pound coin and place over the filling. Crimp the edges of the pastry to secure it to the edge of the dish, brush the surface with more beaten egg and chill for a further 30 minutes.

6 Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4.

7 Remove the pie from the fridge, glaze again with egg and scatter with poppy seeds. Transfer to the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 30–35 minutes until the pastry is golden and you can just see the filling bubbling. Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving in slices.

TIP You can also use 200g dried broad beans, soaked overnight. Simply, place the broad beans in a large pan of salted water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 25–30 minutes or until the broad beans are al dente.


Baby Rosabella

Forgive my slight pause from blogging but I assure you it is for good reason. Baby Rosabella was born in late December and, naturally, has been needing a whole lot of love and milk ;)


The Ultimate Christmas Pudding Recipe

We have a baby on the way and nesting instincts arrive with little warning, my family being directed around like soldiers while I scour ebay for suitable changing tables/bags/baskets and cleanse the house with a frantic disposition.  Poor planning (or divine intervention) means due date is dangerously near Christmas and as such, the festive flourish needs to happen sooner rather than later.

High on the list was making the Christmas pudding. I know, I know, supermarkets make lovely versions that can be microwaved in four minutes and can sit in the cupboard until next year if not wanted… but a homemade version is something we’ve always done. Like never buying white sauce or low fat yoghurt. Just one of those things.

So here we are, my luxuriously laden version that I’m convinced is the best I’ve ever eaten. Steam tomorrow and it will be ready to be reheated for the giant lunch and served with brandy cream (shop bought, if you are interested). 






A little softened butter, for greasing

225g caster sugar

200g suet

300g currants

300g raisins

300g citrus peel

100g glace cherries

75g pistachios, roughly chopped

110g plain flour

110g fresh white breadcrumbs

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. mixed spice

Zest from 1 lemon

5 eggs, lightly beaten

50ml whiskey

100ml Cointreau


3 tbsp. apricot jam, melted

Zest of 1 clementine

A handful of toasted almonds, pecan nuts and glace cherries


1. Lightly grease a 1.2 litre pudding basin with softened butter and cut a small circle of parchment to place in the base of the pudding bowl.

2. Combine the sugar, suet, currants, raisins, citrus peel, cherries, pistachio, plain flour, breadcrumbs, spices and lemon zest in a very large mixing bowl.

3. Add the eggs, whiskey and Cointreau and stir all the ingredients together until well distributed and spoon the wet mixture into the pudding basin, pressing the mixture down with the back of a spatula. Place a round of baking parchment over the top of the mixture and then wrap with a layer of foil so that the basin is watertight. Secure with string.

4. Either put the basin in the pan of boiling water, to come halfway up the sides or in the top of a lidded steamer and steam for 6 hours, checking every so often that the water is topped up.

5. Cool your pudding and store, re - wrapped in foil for 6 weeks, until the big Christmas day.

6. Once ready to re-heat, steam the wrapped pudding – still in it’s basin - for a further 3 hours. To serve, remove from the basin and brush with warmed apricot jam. Decorate with cherries, nuts and clementine and serve, with a side of ice cream. 

An image I took for Judes ice cream a few weeks ago, of said pudding!