Chocolate chequered cake

What a showstopper to impress your friends and family with! A delicious chocolate chequered cake that is a lot easier to do than it looks! Recipe via Baking Mad.

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 12

Vanilla Sponge Ingredients:

  • 120g Butter (unsalted)
  • 120g Unrefined golden caster sugar
  • 2 Egg(s) (free range) (medium, Beaten)
  • 0.5 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 120g Self-raising white flour

Chocolate Sponge Ingredients:

  • 120g Butter (unsalted)
  • 120g Unrefined golden caster sugar
  • 2 Egg(s) (free range) (medium, Beaten)
  • 0.5 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 40g Cocoa powder
  • 70g Self-raising white flour

Pink Sponge Ingredients:

  • 120g Butter (unsalted)
  • 120g Unrefined golden caster sugar
  • 2 Egg(s) (free range) (medium, Beaten)
  • 0.5 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp Pink food colouring
  • 120g Self-raising white flour

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:

  • 400g Double cream
  • 400g Dark chocolate

Construction Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp Strawberry jam


  1. For the vanilla sponge cake, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, add the egg a little at a time along with the vanilla extract, beating in between each addition.
  2. Carefully fold in the flour. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin.

  3. For the chocolate layer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, add the egg a little at a time along with the vanilla extract, beating in between each addition.

  4. Carefully fold in the flour and cocoa powder. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin.

  5. For the pink  layer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, add the egg a little at a time along with the vanilla extract and pink food colouring, beating in between each addition.

  6. Carefully fold in the flour. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin.

  7. Place the tins in a preheated oven 190°C (fan 170°C, gas mark 5) and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

  8. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for a while then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. To ensure the cakes have a flat surface when you come to put the cake together, turn the sponges upside down to cool on the rack. So the base becomes the top of the sponge.

  9. To make the ganache, pour the cream into a saucepan and heat gently until it just reaches boiling point, remove from the heat and add the chocolate pieces. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and is dark, glossy and smooth. Then leave to cool at room temperature.

  10. To construct the cake you need a 6cm cutter and a 13cm cutter (or something of these dimensions that you can cut around). Making sure you start centrally on the first sponge layer, cut a 13cm disc out of the centre, then cut a 6cm disc out of the centre of this and carefully separate the rings. Repeat this with the other 2 sponge layers.

  11. Warm the strawberry jam and brush over the top surface of one of the layers, then carefully place the next layer on top. Brush this with jam and place the final layer on top.

  12. Cover the cake with a layer of the cooled chocolate ganache, using a palette knife to smooth the ganache.

  13. To finish fill a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle with the remaining ganache and pipe stars around the base and top edge of the cake.


French Macaroons

People often think these deliciously moreish macaroons are difficult to make, but with this simple recipe you will be whipping up these delicate treats in no time  This is a four-in-one recipe that takes one macaroon base and turns it into four different flavours – lemon, pistachio, chocolate and strawberry. Recipe via All Recipes

Macaroon Ingredients:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 250g finely ground almonds
  • 1 to 2 drops food colouring (yellow, pink, brown and green)

Filling Ingredients:

  • 350g icing sugar
  • 240g softened butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons double cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon crushed pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry jam

Makes: 40


  1. Place the egg whites in a metallic bowl and add a pinch of salt. Beat the egg whites till stiff. Add 1 tablespoon of the icing sugar, and continue to beat. Sift in 1/2 of the remaining icing sugar, and beat till glossy on high speed. Sift in the remaining icing sugar and beat till combined.
  2. Gently fold the ground almonds into the egg white mixture. Lift and fold until the mixture is smooth and ribbon-like.
  3. Divide the mixture into four separate bowls. Mix in one to two drops of the food colouring to each bowl to create pink, yellow, green and brown mixtures. (You may want to start with one very small drop of food colouring, as you can always add more!)
  4. Fill a piping bag with one of the mixtures. Pipe small circles, about 2cm in diameter, onto a parchment-lined baking tray. (Work with the bag perpendicular to the tray for best results!) Repeat with remaining mixtures, working with a clean piping bag for each mixture.
  5. Preheat the oven to 170 C / Gas 3. Set the macaroons aside for 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, make the filling: Cream the softened butter with an electric mixer. Add the icing sugar and continue to beat until smooth. Beat in the vanilla and double cream, and continue beating till the mixture is light and fluffy.
  7. Divide the buttercream into four separate bowls. Stir in the cocoa, lemon zest, pistachios and strawberry jam into each bowl to create four different fillings. Set aside.
  8. After 30 minutes resting at room temperature, bake the macaroons in the preheated oven for 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking tray.
  9. Once cool, spread the flat side of one macaroon with its corresponding filling. Top with a second macaroon. Serve straightaway or keep in the fridge in an airtight container.


Use the egg yolks in another recipe, such as custard, Portuguese custard tarts, crème brûlée, lemon curd or homemade ice cream.

Traditional Dundee Cake

The Dundee cake is  a traditional Scottish bake closely linked to the marmalade industry where the surplus of orange peel from the marmalade factories were used in the cakes. Therefore, of an authentic Dundee cake uses orange peel, not just mixed peel. Recipe via Scotsman Food and Drink.


  • 175g butter, softened
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • grated zest of 1 large orange
  • 3 medium free-range eggs
  • 175g self-raising flour, sifted
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 150g currants
  • 150g raisins
  • 50g chopped mixed peel 1 tbsp whisky (preferably malt)
  • 16-20 whole blanched almonds


  1. Cream the butter, sugar and orange zest thoroughly until light and fluffy then beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a teaspoon of the weighed flour with each egg to prevent curdling.
  2. Sift in the rest of the flour, spice and a pinch of salt. Fold everything together gently, then stir in the dried fruits and mixed peel, together with the whisky.
  3. For the cake, spoon the mixture into a buttered, lined 18cm/7in cake tin, levelling the top.
  4. Bake the cake in a preheated oven (150C/Gas Mark 2) for 1½ hours, then take it out and arrange the almonds on top in two circles.
  5. Return to the oven and continue to bake for a further 45 minutes (2¼ hours altogether).


The Dundee cake can make a wonderful Christmas cake.


Whole-Egg Pasta Dough

This delicate pasta dough is great with lighter sauces. Nothing is more delicious and homely than fresh pasta and it’s much easier than you think with just three ingredients! Recipe via the Gourmet Traveller.


  • 400g “00” flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 4 free range eggs
  • Pinch of salt

Required equipment:

  • Food processor
  • Pasta machine


  1. Process ingredients and a pinch of salt in a food processor until a dough forms.
  2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (3-5 minutes),
  3. Wrap in plastic wrap and rest at room temperature (1 hour).
  4. Divide dough into four, then, working with one piece at a time, feed through pasta machine rollers, starting at the widest setting. Lightly flour dough as you fold and feed it through, reducing settings notch by notch, until pasta is 3mm thick.

Traditional British Custard

When it’s cold and chilly outside, nothing is more comforting than a warm bowl of homemade custard, whether you enjoy it on its own, over a simple banana or served over a delicious steamed pudding. Recipe via Great British Chefs.


  • 350ml of milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 25g of sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod


  1. Add the milk and vanilla pod to a pan set over a low-medium heat and heat until just beginning to simmer. Then, remove from the heat and leave to infuse – the longer it is left the more pronounced the vanilla flavour will be.
  2. Using a wooden spoon, beat the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl. Using a wooden spoon prevents any air being incorporated, which will help to create a dense custard.
  3. Gradually pour in the slightly warm milk until you are left with a smooth liquid.
  4. Pour the liquid into a clean pan and reheat over a low heat, whisking continuously. It is important to heat gently as a high temperature will result in the eggs scrambling. Continue to heat until the liquid thickens and coats the back of the wooden spoon.
  5. Pass the liquid through a sieve into a clean bowl. If not using straight away cover with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming.

Asparagus & Wensleydale Quiche

Quiches aren’t just for summer, they can be delicious warm on a cool Autumn day served with British potatoes and vegetables. Recipe via Wensleydale Creamery.

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 10 min
Cooking time: 20-25 min

Filling Ingredients:

  • 200g trimmed asparagus
  • 1 bunch trimmed spring onions
  • 100g Oak Smoked Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, crumbled
  • 50g Butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Fine sea salt
  • 220ml double cream

Pastry Ingredients:

  • 200g plain flour
  • Egg whites beaten to glaze
  • 100g Butter



  1. Put the flour and a little sea salt into a bowl, add chopped butter and rub in until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add 3 tablespoons of ice cold water and mix with a butter knife until the dough comes together, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
  2. Roll out onto a lightly floured surface to a large round, to the thickness of  a 1 pound coin. Use to line the tin and trim off the excess. Chill again for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Heat the oven to 200C, 400F. Line the tart case with tin foil and baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes. Brush the inside of the tart case with egg white, and then cool. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Slice the spring onions on the diagonal. Melt the butter in a pan, add the spring onions, season, and cook gently over medium heat until soft but not browned. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Blanch the asparagus in a pan of boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes; they should still retain a bite.
  6. Drain and refresh under cold running water, then drain well. Cut the asparagus spears in half lengthwise.
  7. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and cream together in a bowl. Reserve a good handful of Oak Smoked Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese for sprinkling, and the rest of the cheese to the creamy mixture and season well with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  8. Sprinkle half the reserve cheese in a thin layer over the pastry base and scatter over the spring onions. Arrange the asparagus on top, then carefully pour on the creamy mixture to just below the rim of the pastry. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes at 180°C – 350°F, until the filling is set and golden.

Nanny T’s British Yorkshire Puddings

A Sunday roast just isn’t complete without the traditional British Yorkshire puddings, this tasty, fool proof recipe has been pasted down through many generations. Golden, and totally delicious just don’t forget to get the oil sizzling hot before adding the batter – it’s the secret to getting serious height!

Serves: 12 small Yorkshire puddings in a 12 hole cupcake pan or 6 large Yorkshire puddings in a 6 hole muffin tin
Preparation time: 10 min
Cooking time: 20-25 min


  • Vegetable oil or lard
  • 115g (4oz) plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150ml milk
  • Pinch of salt


  1. To make your batter sift your flour into a bowl. Make a small well and pour in your eggs and milk, with a pinch of salt. Whisk up until you have a smooth, silky batter with no lumps. You can leave your batter to rest in the fridge for around an hour.
  2. Heat oven at 200°C. Lightly cover the base of each hole in your selected 12 or 6 hole pan with vegetable oil or lard and place in the hot oven for about 5 minutes.
  3. Give your batter one last whisk to remove any remaining lumps. Remove your hot pan from the oven, taking care with the hot fat. Carefully pour your batter into each hole on top of the hot fat, dividing the batter equally between each hole.
  4. Place your pan back into your hot oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the puddings have risen and are golden brown.


  • The hot fat is the main trick to getting a great rise, so make sure it is sizzling hot.
  • You can also make mini Yorkshire puddings that are great for kids using a 24 hole mini cupcake pan, or make a giant Yorkshire using a larger single pan.
  • This batter also makes great toad in the hole.
  • Freezing: Cook as instructed and allow to cool completely. Then transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container, seal and freeze for up to 1-3 months. To reheat, place the puddings on a baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes in a moderate oven until crisp.

Portuguese Custard Tarts

These iconic pastel de nata Portuguese pastries date back to the 16th century, when the confections, were often made by nuns in convents. Now these little custard tarts with a hint of lemon are enjoyed at breakfast or as a snack. Recipe via Delicious.

Serves: 22 tarts
Preparation time: 40 min
Cooking time: 15 min plus cooling


  • Butter for greasing
  • 500ml whole milk (preferably gold top)
  • Pared zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 70g plain flour
  • 485g caster sugar
  • 6 large free-range egg yolks (see tips)
  • 2 x 320g packs ready-rolled, all-butter puff pastry


  1. Grease 22 holes of 2 standard 12-hole muffin tins generously with butter, then chill in the fridge. Put the milk in a pan with the strips of lemon zest and cinnamon. Heat to just simmering, let it cool a little, then remove the zest and cinnamon. Whisk a third of the milk into the flour in a small bowl to form a thin paste. Heat the remaining milk until boiling, then stir in the flour paste and cook, stirring constantly with a balloon whisk, for 2-3 minutes until thick.
  2. Put the sugar in a pan with 200ml water. Heat gently to melt the sugar, then turn up the heat and boil for 4-5 minutes until the syrup reaches the short thread stage (see Knowhow). Gradually whisk it into the milk mixture to give a white liquid with a similar thickness to double cream. Don’t worry if it’s lumpy.
  3. Put the egg yolks in a large bowl and strain over the milk mixture, stirring all the time with the balloon whisk until combined. Set aside with cling film touching the surface.
  4. Heat the oven to 250°C/ 230°C fan/gas 9½. Unroll the pastry, remove the plastic lining sheet, then roll it back up. Cut each roll into 11 discs, then put one disc into each greased muffin hole swirl-side up. Carefully press the pastry up the sides with your fingers, working from the centre out, until the pastry just pokes over the top.
  5. Pour the custard into the pastry cases to 1cm below the top, then bake in the upper third of the oven for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp (see tip).
  6. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then gently lever out the tarts with a spoon and cool on a wire rack.


  • Each batch of tarts will behave differently. Don’t worry if the tops don’t scorch, or if the custard puffs up in the oven – it will sink down again as it cools.
    Keep the whites from this recipe for other uses, such as making meringues. Lightly whisk, then freeze in freezer bags, clearly marked with the date and number of whites. Use within 3 months.
  • Make ahead: The tarts will keep in an airtight box for up to 2 days. If they soften, crisp them up in a medium oven for 5 minutes.
  • Trivia: These tarts use a thick custard made with a hot syrup, with flour added to stabilise the mixture. To test the syrup for the short thread stage in step 2, take off the heat, scoop up a teaspoonful and cool for a minute. Put some between index finger and thumb, then quickly move them apart and together. The syrup should form tiny threads. Alternatively, use a digital probe thermometer: the syrup should be 108°C.

Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

These sunshine sweet homemade lemon cupcakes with vanilla frosting are incredibly soft and bursting with lemon flavour! Great for sharing at the Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning or for a little treat among friends. Recipe via Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Serves: 12 Cupcakes
Preparation time: 30 min


  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour (spoon & levelled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) milk (I use whole, but any milk is fine)
  • zest + fresh juice of two medium lemons1
  • vanilla buttercream and additional lemon slices for topping


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line 12-count muffin pan with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until creamed. About 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until everything is combined, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 additions, beating on low speed after each addition. Batter will be thick. Beat in the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix this batter at any point.
  4. Spoon batter evenly into 12 cupcake liners. Bake for about 18-22 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Frost cooled cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. If topping with lemon zest, do so right before serving. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake.


  • Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Decorate/assemble cupcakes immediately before serving. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Volcanoes

It’s pudding week on Great British Bake Off so why not sample one of Paul Hollywoods favourite little hot chocolate puddings. These little volcanoes release a soft, silky river of chocolate, a real show stopper.

Serves: 4
Baking time: 12-14 minutes
Equipment: 4 individual pudding moulds or dariole moulds, 175ml capacity


  • 165g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus extra for greasing
  • 165g dark chocolate, about 70% cocoa solids, chopped into small pieces
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 3 medium egg yolks
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour


  1. Grease 4 individual pudding moulds, about 175ml capacity, with a little butter.
  2. Put the butter and chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering (ban marie). Remove the pan from the heat and leave to melt, stirring once or twice.
  3. Using an electric whisk, whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together for several minutes until thick, pale and moussey.
  4. Carefully fold the chocolate mixture into the egg and sugar mix, using a spatula or large metal spoon. Sift in the flour and fold this in carefully too.
  5. Divide the chocolate mixture between the prepared moulds. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours until firm. (You can make the pudding up to 24 hours in advance and leave them in the fridge until you are ready to cook and serve them)
  6. When you are ready to cook, heat the oven to 200°C/gas 6. Stand the moulds on a baking tray and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the puddings are risen but not cracked.
  7. Turn the puddings out onto individual plates and serve at once, with pouring cream.



  • Achieving the molten centre is all about their timing. Don’t let the puddings bake to the point that their surface begins to crack, as this means the centres are starting to cook.

Taken from Paul Hollywood’s Pies & Puds, published by Bloomsbury. Photograph © Peter Cassidy