With Christmas just around the corner there will be plenty of jars of rich and fruity mincemeat in the shops – perfect for adding to mini sponge puddings. 

sweet mincemeat sponge pudding

Makes 4

Ready in 1 hour 10 minutes

115g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

6 tbsp good quality mincemeat

115g caster sugar

Zest of ½ orange or lemon

2 medium eggs, beaten

125g self-raising flour, sifted

1 tbsp milk

1 Thoroughly grease 4 x 175ml pudding basins with butter. Divide the mincemeat between the basins. Preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas mark 5.

2 Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat together until pale and creamy. Beat in the orange or lemon zest then gradually beat in the eggs, adding 1tbsp of the flour if the mixture starts to curdle. Fold in the rest of the flour with the milk to give a soft dropping consistency.

3 Divide the mixture between the pudding basins and cover each with a square of pleated buttered foil, scrunching it tightly around the sides of each basin. Transfer to a large roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the basins.

4 Bake for 45-50 minutes or until risen and firm to the touch. Leave in the basins for 5 minutes then turn out onto serving plates. Serve with cream or custard, if liked.

Spice up the sponge mixture by adding 2 tsp ground cinnamon and ½ tsp ground nutmeg instead of the orange or lemon zest and replace the caster sugar with light soft brown sugar, if liked.


Mini doughnuts

Home-made doughnuts are easier to make than you may think! Serve warm rolled in sugar with chocolate sauce to dip for an extra-special sweet treat. They are best eaten on the day of making.

Makes 16

Ready in 1 hour (plus proving time)

175ml milk

25g butter

350g strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting and kneading

½ tsp salt

1½ tsp easy-blend dried yeast

75g caster sugar

1 medium egg, beaten

Vegetable oil for deep frying

Chocolate sauce, warmed, for dipping (optional)


1 Place the milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Cool for 5 minutes.

2 Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir in the salt, yeast and 25g of the caster sugar. Pour in the milk mixture and beaten egg and mix to a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding a little more flour if needed.

3 Place the dough in a bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Line 2 large baking sheets with baking paper.

4 Knock back the dough and divide and shape into 16 balls. Place, well spaced, on the baking sheets and cover with lightly oiled cling film. Leave in a warm place for 15-20 minutes until puffy.

5 Half fill a large deep pan with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C/350°F, or until a cube of bread dropped in the hot fat browns in 30 seconds. Fry the doughnuts, 4-5 at a time, for 1-2 minutes on each side or until puffed and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

6 Spread the rest of the sugar on a flat plate and roll each hot doughnut in the sugar to coat. Serve warm with chocolate sauce to dip.


For jam-filled doughnuts, place 3tbsp raspberry jam in a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Insert the tip of a knife into each doughnut and twist to make a hole. Push the tip of the nozzle in the hole and pipe about 1tsp of jam into each doughnut.



These delightful crisp and buttery lemon and almond cookies have a tangy layer of lemon curd in the middle.

 Makes 10

Ready in 40 minutes, plus chilling and cooling

115g unsalted butter, softened

115g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

1 tsp almond extract

1 large egg yolk

200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

Milk, for sealing and glazing

2-3 tbsp good quality lemon curd

2 tbsp flaked almonds


1 Place the butter, sugar and almond extract in a mixing bowl and beat with a hand-held electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk then gradually beat in the flour to form a crumbly dough.

2 Gather the dough with your hands and knead lightly until smooth. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, or until firm.

3 Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 2mm thick. Using a 7cm round fluted cookie cutter, stamp out 20 rounds, re-rolling the dough as necessary. Place on the baking sheets and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190°C, fan 170°C, gas mark 5.

4 Lightly brush around the edge of half the cookie dough rounds with a little milk. Drop ½ tsp of lemon curd in the centre of these rounds. Carefully top with the rest of the cookie dough rounds, gently pressing to seal the edges.

5 Glaze the tops lightly with milk and sprinkle with the extra caster sugar and flaked almonds. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until pale golden. Leave to cool completely on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.



Replace the lemon curd with jam, marmalade or chocolate hazelnut spread for a change of flavour. Remember the filling will be very hot straight out of the oven, so be sure to leave to cool completely before tucking in!



If you have overripe bananas in the fruit bowl then don’t bin them – just whizz up this delicious moist loaf cake instead. It will keep for up to 5 days wrapped in greaseproof paper or foil and stored in an airtight tin.

Makes 10 slices

Ready in 1 hour 45 minutes, plus cooling time

175g unsalted butter, softened

175g light soft brown sugar

225g self-raising flour

2 tsp ground mixed spice

½ tsp baking powder

3 medium eggs

75g walnut halves, roughly chopped

2 large ripe bananas, peeled and mashed with 2 tsp lemon juice

Icing sugar, to dust

1 Preheat the oven to 170C, Fan 150C, Gas 3. Grease and line the base and the two long sides of a 900g loaf tin with baking paper.

2 Place the butter, sugar, flour, spice, baking powder and eggs in a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk until thoroughly combined – this will take about 4-5 minutes. Fold in the walnuts and mashed bananas.

3 Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake for 1hour – 1 hour 15 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

4 Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely. Dust thickly with icing sugar.


Add a creamy soft frosting instead of the dusting of icing sugar, if liked. Simply beat 100g full-fat soft cheese with 100g very soft unsalted butter until smooth, then beat in 100g sifted icing sugar.



Sweet pancakes with chocolate nut cream. Selective focus on the front nacake

Whip up a classic pancake batter to celebrate Shrove Tuesday. Simply serve the traditional way with sugar and lemon juice or try one of our extra special sweet or savoury serving ideas.

Makes 8 pancakes
Ready in 30 minutes plus standing time

100g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
300ml milk (or milk and water mixed)
Sunflower oil or unsalted butter, for frying

1 Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the salt and make a well in the centre. Add the egg and beat with a balloon whisk, gradually drawing in some of the flour.

2 Slowly pour in the milk, whisking all the time and drawing in the rest of the flour, until you have a smooth batter which is about the consistency of single cream.

3 Stand the batter for about 30 minutes to allow the starch grains in the flour to soften and expand –this will give a lighter pancake. If the batter has thickened slightly then just whisk in a splash of milk.

4 Heat a little sunflower oil or a knob of butter in a non-stick shallow frying pan (about 20cm diameter)until almost smoking then quickly ladle in enough of the batter to thinly cover the base of the pan, swirling the pan to give an even layer.

5 Cook for 1-2 minutes until small air bubbles appear in the pancake then flip it over and cook for a further minute until golden. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, serving the pancakes as they are cooked or interleaving with baking paper and keeping warm in a low oven.

Choc ‘n’ nuts – spread warmed pancakes with chocolate and hazelnut spread then fold into quarters. Drizzle with warmed chocolate sauce and serve with toasted hazelnuts.
Orange cream – heat 4tbsp thin-shred marmalade with 150ml orange juice in a frying pan and simmer for a few minutes until syrupy. Fold the pancakes and add to the pan, turning to coat in the syrup. Serve topped with whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Cheese and bacon melts – add 2tsp dried Italian herbs to the pancake batter. Fill each cooked pancake with some grated Cheddar and 2 rashers crisply fried smoked bacon rashers. Fold over and pop in a hot oven for 10 minutes until the cheese has melted.
Tuna parcels – place a spoonful of canned flaked tuna fish in the centre of each cooked pancake and top with some canned sweetcorn and chopped spring onion. Fold the pancakes to make parcels and enclose the filling. Serve with sweet chilli sauce.

Italian Cantuccini cookies with walnuts and chocolate


These crunchy Italian biscuits are perfect for dunking into a festive coffee or serving as an after dinner treat.

Makes 20
Ready in 1 hour, plus cooling time

50g unsalted butter, softened
100g golden caster sugar
1 medium egg, beaten
Finely grated zest from 1 orange
50g dark chocolate chips
50g walnut pieces
1/2 tsp baking powder
175g plain flour, plus extra for kneading

1 Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, Gas 4. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until pale and fluffy, then beat in the egg and orange zest. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnut pieces.
2 Sift over the baking powder and flour and stir well until combined. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead to a soft dough, adding a little more flour if necessary.
3 Divide the dough into two pieces and shape each to an oval shape roughly 20cm x 10 cm. Place on a large baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for 20-25 minutes until firm and light golden. Cool for 5 minutes.
4 Transfer the two pieces of semi-baked dough to a chopping board and, using a sharp knife, cut each piece into 10 slices.
5 Return the slices, cut-side down, to the baking sheet and bake for a further 8-12 minutes until crisp and golden. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
The biscotti will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. You can change the nuts – try pecans, toasted almonds or hazelnuts, if preferred.


Cheesecake, cottage cheese pudding with fresh oranges and orange marmalade, jam glaze on a white plate on a turquoise wooden background

A light, creamy and refreshing dessert that can be prepared a day in advance. Serve with crisp butter biscuits or shortbread fingers.

Serves 8

Ready in 1 hour, plus cooling and chilling

3 gelatine leaves

150ml fresh orange juice

250g ricotta cheese

250g full fat soft cheese

100g caster sugar

2 tsp orange zest

300ml double cream

2 egg whites


1 gelatine leaf

150ml fresh orange juice

2 oranges, peeled, segmented and flesh chopped

Fresh mint sprigs, to decorate


1 Soak the gelatine leaves in a shallow bowl of cold water for 5 minutes until soft. Heat the orange juice in a small pan until almost boiling then remove from the heat. Squeeze the excess liquid from the gelatine leaves and stir into the hot juice until dissolved. Cool for 15 minutes.

2 Beat the ricotta and cream cheese together in a large bowl until smooth, then beat in the caster sugar and orange zest. Fold in the cooled gelatine.

3 Whip the cream in a bowl until softly peaking and in a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold the cream into the orange mixture followed by the egg whites.

4 Spoon the mixture into a 20cm square baking dish that is at least 5cm deep. Gently level the surface and chill in the fridge for 3 hours, or until set.

5 To make the orange glaze, soften the gelatine in cold water as in step one. Heat the orange juice in a small pan until almost boiling then remove from the heat. Squeeze the excess liquid from the gelatine leaf and stir into the hot juice until dissolved. Cool for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally until beginning to thicken. Pour over the chilled mousse then top with the diced orange flesh. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours, or until the glaze has set. Serve cut into squares decorated with fresh mint sprigs.


Stir a spoonful of warmed fine-shred marmalade into the orange glaze before it cools for an extra tangy flavour.




Orange Cake on old Wooden Board

Chocolate and orange are perfect flavour partners and these lovely individual puddings taste delicious served warm with custard or cream.

Makes 6

Ready in 1 hour 30 minutes

3 small clementines or satsumas, thinly sliced

175g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

175g caster sugar

3 large eggs, beaten

125g self-raising flour

50g cocoa powder, sifted

1 tbsp fresh orange juice

2 tsp orange zest

Custard or cream, to serve

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas mark 4. Butter and line the bases of 6 x 175ml metal pudding basins with circles of baking parchment. Place a slice of clementine or satsuma in the base of each basin and press 2-3 slices around the sides.

2 Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and, using an electric mixer, beat until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs then sift over the flour and cocoa powder and fold into the creamed mixture with the orange juice and zest.

3 Divide the mixture between the pudding basins and cover each with a square of pleated, buttered foil, scrunching it tightly around the sides of each basin. Transfer to a roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water from a kettle to reach halfway up the sides of the basins.

4 Bake for 1 hour, until the puddings have risen and are firm to the touch, and a skewer inserted through the foil of one of the puddings comes out clean. Turn out and serve with custard or cream.


You can cook the puddings a few hours before serving then simply re-heat in the microwave. Turn out onto a microwave plate and reheat three at a time on High for 30-45 seconds.




A crostata is an Italian lattice-topped pie which can be sweet or savoury.

Crostata pie with ricotta crust and peaches

This one has a fruity fresh peach filling. Serve with crème fraîche or ice cream.

Serves 6

Ready in 1 hour 15 minutes (plus chilling)

350g plain flour
175g butter, chilled and diced
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten with 2tbsp cold water

6 peaches, halved, stones removed and thickly sliced
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
Milk to glaze
Icing sugar, to dust

1 To make the pastry, sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, add the egg and water, then stir with a knife until the mixture begins to stick together.
2 Gather the dough with one hand, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few seconds until smooth. Flatten into a round, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
3 Preheat the oven to 200C, fan 180C, gas 6. Place a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.
4 Roll out about two-thirds of the pastry on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a one pound coin and use to line a 23cm round pie dish.
5 Toss the peaches in a bowl with the sugar and cornflour then pile into the pastry case. Roll out the rest of the pastry to a 20cm circle and use a lattice pastry roller to cut slashes in the pastry (see tip).
6 Brush around the edge of the pastry case with a little water then drape the pastry circle over the filling, pulling it gently to create the lattice effect. Press the pastry edges together to seal and trim off any excess pastry.
7 Glaze the pastry with milk, then place on the hot baking sheet in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden. Serve warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar.
If you don’t have a pastry lattice roller, cut the rolled out pastry into thin strips and drape over the filling.


Coconut Rice Pudding with Caramelized Apples.selective focus

A classic with a twist, this creamy rice pudding has added coconut milk for extra flavour and is served with spiced apples in a caramel sauce.

Serves 4

Ready in 2 hours 30 minutes

50g unsalted butter, softened

100g pudding rice

400ml full-fat milk

200ml coconut milk

40g caster sugar

1 tbsp runny honey

2 red apples, skinned, cored and cut into wedges

75g demerara sugar

1-2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp apple juice

1 Preheat the oven to 150°C, fan 130°C, gas 2. Use a little of the softened butter to thoroughly grease a 1.2-litre shallow ovenproof dish.

2 Tip the pudding rice into the buttered dish and stir in the milk and coconut milk. Add the caster sugar and stir again. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Carefully remove the dish and give the pudding a good stir, then stir in the honey and dot with a little more of the butter. Return to the oven for a further 1 hour 30 minutes or until a golden skin has formed and most of the milk has been absorbed by the rice.

3 About 10 minutes before the rice pudding is ready, melt the rest of the butter in a heavy–based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the apple slices and fry for 1-2 minutes, turning once. Sprinkle over the demerara sugar and cook gently, without stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the cinnamon and apple juice and simmer for a further few minutes until syrupy.

4 Stir the rice pudding (remove the skin first, if preferred) and spoon into bowls. Top with the apples and syrup and serve.


You can use other fruit slices instead of the apples – try peaches or pears or halved apricots.