A stunning celebration cake of six or seven colourful layers with soft cheese frosting – an impressive showstopper!Preparation Time: 2 hours
You’ll need 3 x these ingredients for 6 sponges:
For the icing:
1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter 2 x 20cm round sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment. Tip all the sponge ingredients, apart from the food colouring, into a mixing bowl, then beat with an electric whisk until smooth.
2. Working quickly, weigh the mixture into another bowl to work out the total weight, then weigh exactly half the mixture back into the mixing bowl. Pick two of your colours and stir a little into each mix. Keep going until you are happy with the colour – the colour of the batter now will be very similar to the finished cake, so be brave! Scrape the different batters into the tins, trying to spread and smooth as much as possible – but try not to waste a drop of the batter – a rubber spatula will help you. Bake on the same oven shelf for 15-20 mins until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean. Don’t worry if that sponges are thin, there are many layers.
3. Gently turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool. Wash the tins and bowls thoroughly, and start again from step 1 – this time using another two colours. Repeat one more time to get 6 sponges, all of different colours. Leave them all to cool.
4. To make the icing, very briefly beat the vanilla and soft cheese or mascarpone with an electric whisk until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and gently fold in with a spatula. Be careful – the more you work it, the runnier it will get, increasing the chance of splitting.
5. Smear a little icing on your cake stand or plate – just a splodge to stick the first sponge. Start with the red, then spread with some icing right to the very edge. Repeat, sandwiching on top the orange, yellow, green, blue and finally purple sponges. Spread the remaining icing thickly all over the sides and top of the cake.
Designed to be stored in the freezer and baked when the mood strikes.Preparation Time: 15 mins
1. When the butter is really soft, tip it into a bowl along with the sugar. Using an electric hand whisk or exercising some arm muscle, beat together until the sugar is mixed through. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract and a pinch of salt, if you like. Stir in the flour and oats. The mixture will be quite stiff at this point. Now decide what else you would like to add – any or all of the flavours are delicious – and stir through.
2. Tear off an A4-size sheet of greaseproof paper. Pile up half the mixture in the middle of the sheet, then use a spoon to thickly spread the mixture along the centre of the paper. Pull over one edge of paper and roll up until you get a tight cylinder. If you have problems getting it smooth, then roll as you would a rolling pin along a kitchen surface. You’ll need it to be about the width of a teacup. When it is tightly wrapped, twist up the ends and then place in the freezer. Can be frozen for up to 3 months.
3. To cook, heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and unwrap the frozen biscuit mix. Using a sharp knife, cut off a disk about ½cm wide. If you have difficulty slicing through, dip the knife into a cup of hot water. Cut off as many biscuits as you need, then pop the mix back into the freezer for another time. Place on a baking sheet, spacing them widely apart as the mixture will spread when cooking, then cook for 15 mins until the tops are golden brown. Leave to cool for at least 5 mins before eating.
Only a few ingredients needed and made in a flash. Mug cakes are the perfect solution to lazy baking.Preparation Time: 5 mins
1. In a microwaveable mug mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt with a fork.
2. Add in the milk, oil, egg & chocolate chips and whisk until you have a smooth cake batter.
3. Microwave your cake for roughly 45 seconds to 1 minute or until the cake has risen and is firm to the touch. Take care not to overcook as it will toughen the cake. (The timing is based on my microwave which is 1200 WATTS so check the wattage of your microwave because your timing may vary.)
4. Once cooked, top with a little fudge frosting, whipped cream or ice-cream, some sprinkles, and enjoy!!
A simple and fun opportunity to experiment with new flavours and spice, whilst also saving on the washing up!!Preparation Time: 10 mins
1. Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 mins until softened and slightly caramelised. Add the garlic and stir for 1 min.
2. Toss in the carrot and cabbage, then cook for 1-2 mins. Add the rice and stir to warm through. Pour in the fish sauce, soy sauce and some seasoning. Make a well in the centre of the wok and crack in the egg. Fry until the white is nearly set.
3. Serve the rice in a large bowl, topped with the fried egg and drizzled with chilli sauce.
Perfect for a pizza party with your housemates, and great for freezing in advance.Preparation Time: 5 mins, 10-15 mins resting
1. Preheat the oven to the hottest it will go (around 240°C, fan 220°C, gas 9), before starting to make the dough. Put in a couple of pizza stones, or 2 large baking trays, to get really hot.
2. Mix the flour, yeast, salt and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the oil, then add about 225ml water to bring together as a dough. Tip out onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute, just until smooth. Leave to rest under the upturned bowl while you prepare your pizza toppings.
3. It’s time to shape the pizzas! Roll out one ball at a time on a lightly floured surface, to about 25cm in diameter. Sprinkle a large square of baking paper with the cornmeal (or alternative) then lift the dough onto the paper. Stretch and press the pizza dough with your fingertips until it is about 30cm diameter, indenting a thicker crust around the edges. The middle should be about 5mm, and the crust about 1cm deep. Repeat to make a second pizza.
4. Spread the pizzas with sauce and add your toppings (don’t add too many, or you’ll end up with a soggy pizza). Drizzle with a little oil and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes before baking, so that the dough starts to rise. Slide the pizzas onto the preheated pizza stones or hot baking trays, still on the lining paper to help lift them easily. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the base is golden and crisp.
Easily customisable, super sociable and always a hearty meal!Preparation Time: 10 mins
1. Preheat the oven to gas 7, 220°C, fan 200°C. Prick the potatoes all over with a knife, then rub with 2 tsp oil, season and put on a baking tray. Bake for 35-40 mins or until tender.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon and fry for 5 mins, stirring, until crisp. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic and cook for 2-3 mins until soft and fragrant but not coloured. Set aside.
3. Halve the potatoes lengthways and set aside for 5 mins to cool. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Mash, then stir in the crème fraîche, bacon, garlic and parsley; season with pepper. Return the skins to the tray, then fill with the mash and top with the cheese. Bake for 10 mins.
4. Arrange the kale on a baking tray and drizzle with 2 tsp oil. Bake for 5 mins (or until crisp), tossing halfway through. Serve with the loaded potatoes.
One tray recipes are great on the washing up, simple with the ingredients and always so easy to remember – they are definitely a must for mid-week meals.Preparation Time: 10 mins
1. Preheat the oven to around 200°C, gas 6.
2. Half any larger potatoes, then cook in a pan of boiling salted water over a medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through.
3. Trim the green beans and add to the pan for the final 2 minutes.
4. Drain the veg, half your tomatoes and add to your roasting tray alongside the basil leaves. Toss together with olive oil, salt and pepper.
5. Lay the salmon fillets on top of the vegetables, skin-side up. Coat with olive oil, salt, pepper and the juice of ½ a lemon.
6. Chop your remaining lemon into slices and place throughout the roasting tray. Roast for 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
A low-cost classic, great for a group. Once you have mastered the basics you can begin to add twists to make it your own – from gravy granules to dark chocolate everybody has a preferred version!Preparation Time: Less than 30 mins
1. Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and once hot add the beef mince and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the mince until well browned over a medium-high heat (be careful not to burn the mince. It just needs to be a dark brown colour). Once browned, transfer the mince to a bowl and set aside.
2. Add another tablespoon of oil to the saucepan you browned the mince in and turn the heat to medium. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and fry gently for 5-6 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the grated carrot then pour the mince and any juices in the bowl back into the saucepan.
3. Add the tomatoes to the pan and stir well to mix. Pour in the stock, bring to a simmer and then reduce the temperature to simmer gently for 45 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and rich. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
4. When ready to cook the spaghetti, heat a large saucepan of water and add a pinch of salt. Cook according to the packet instructions. Once the spaghetti is cooked through, drain and add to the pan with the Bolognese sauce. Mix well and serve.