Quick Apple Cake

My mother used to make a dessert called Eve’s Pudding which consisted of stewed apples topped with a simple butter cake mixture. It was a family favourite when I was growing up in England.

This quick and easy recipe combines the same simple ingredients, but instead of being underneath the cake the apples are mixed through. You can use oil or butter, although butter always gives a better flavour.

Served warm with cream or ice cream it’s sure to please the whole family. Any leftovers are perfect for school lunch boxes.

Quick Apple Cake2 eggs
1¾ cups sugar
½ cup vegetable oil or melted butter
2 cups Plain flour and 2 tsp baking powder
(Or 2 cups self-raising flour)
4 tsp cinnamon
6 eating apples, peeled and sliced

Pre-heat oven to 180ºC. In a mixing bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and oil or melted butter until well combined. Fold in the sifted plain flour and baking powder (or self-raising flour) and cinnamon. Add the apples and mix to coat thoroughly. Tip mixture into a well-greased 22cm (9 inch) cake pan or pudding dish. Bake for 50 mins or until well risen and golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Serve warm or cold

Serves 8-10

Summer Pudding

This is an old English recipe which was traditionally made in summer when the red berries are in season. Nowadays you can make it any time of the year with frozen fruit.

I made double the recipe in an 8 cup (two litre) bowl using a 1.5kg bag of mixed frozen berries from Costco. The mix consisted of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. In England they would also have added a few blackcurrants, but unless you grow them yourself (as we do, but we’ve eaten them all this year!) they’re hard to find in Australia, even in season.  It’s hard to say how much bread you will need – I used about two thirds of a loaf. There were just enough raspberries and blueberries in the garden to use as decoration.

Summer Pudding750g mixed red berries, thawed if frozen
Sliced homemade-style white bread
100-150g sugar
To serve:
Icing sugar
Thick cream or whipped cream
A few fresh berries

Remove crusts from bread and cut to fit bottom and sides of 4 cup pudding bowl. It’s like doing a jig-saw puzzle! Put fruit and sugar in a shallow pan, cover and cook gently for 5-10 mins, shaking occasionally. Cool a bit and adjust sugar.

Summer PuddingUsing a slotted spoon, half fill basin with fruit, then a layer of bread, fill with remaining fruit and cover with bread. Spoon in enough juice to fill the basin. Use a knife around the edge of the bowl to make sure the juice goes down and colours all the bread. You will probably use it all. Place a small plate and a 1 kg weight on top and stand the bowl in a dish to catch juices. Refrigerate overnight.

To serve, run a knife with a thin blade around the pudding to loosen it from the bowl. Invert onto a serving plate then shake and it should drop out. Dust with icing sugar and serve with thick cream or whipped cream and a few fresh berries.

Serves 6-8

Cappuccino Puddings with Coffee Ice Cream

These puddings are quick and easy and all the preparation can be done in advance. Make them in coffee cups or small ramekins and keep them for up to 24 hours in the fridge, covered, until you’re ready to cook them.

The puddings aren’t very sweet but the ice cream is, making a nice contrast. If you can’t be bothered making the ice cream, just serve the puddings with cream. The recipe serves six if you use smaller cups and is easy to double.

Unfortunately the ice cream started to melt before I took the photo, so it looks even more like a cappuccino!

unnamedCoffee ice cream:
300ml thick cream
½ of a 395g can condensed milk
2 Tbs instant coffee mixed with 1 Tbs boiling water
125g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate, broken into squares
1 Tbs instant coffee mixed with 1 Tbs boiling water (see note)
4 eggs
2 Tbs plain flour

For the ice cream, whip cream with electric beaters until soft peaks form, then whip in the condensed milk and the coffee until thoroughly combined. Scrape into a plastic container with a lid and freeze for several hours or overnight.

For the puddings, lightly oil 4 to 6 coffee cups or small ramekins. Melt butter in microwave. Add chocolate and stir till dissolved, then mix in coffee mixture. Thoroughly beat eggs with a fork, then mix into chocolate mixture with flour. Divide between the coffee cups and refrigerate, covered, until serving time.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Bake puddings for 10-11 minutes until nicely risen. They will still be soft inside. Serve with a scoop of coffee ice cream on top.

Serves 4-6

Note: if preferred leave the coffee out of the puddings and just put it in the ice cream.


Many moons ago I was in Spain for the first time on a school exchange when my host family took me to an establishment which served churros and nothing else. The queue of people waiting to be seated went out the door and halfway up the block. Always a promising sign.

We eventually sat down to a huge plate of warm crispy churros rolled in cinnamon sugar which was placed in the middle of the table. We each had a mug of very thick hot chocolate to dip the churros into. And I mean thick – you could almost stand your spoon up in it! I was hooked.

Like eclairs and profiteroles, churros are made from choux pastry, but instead of cooking them in the oven they’re fried in hot oil, like doughnuts. I have a special gadget for pushing the dough through, but a piping bag with a large star nozzle works just as well.

Instead of a mug of thick hot chocolate serve the churros with a simple dipping sauce made from cream and chocolate. For a more grown up combination try them with salted caramel sauce. Either way they are delicious.


1 cup milk
75g unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
1¾ cups plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
Vegetable oil for frying
sugar and cinnamon for rolling
Chocolate sauce:
1 cup thick cream
125g chocolate (milk or dark)
Salted Caramel Sauce:
½ cup sugar
½ cup cream
60g butter
½ tsp salt

In a non-stick saucepan heat milk, butter and sugar until boiling point is reached. Remove from the heat and add the flour and baking powder, all in one go. Beat well with a wooden spoon until lump-free and mixture leaves the sides of the pan clean. Return to the heat and cook, stirring for 2 mins. Remove from heat and add the beaten eggs gradually, beating well after each addition. Cool.

Heat oil in a large deep frying pan or deep fat fryer. It should be at least 4cm deep. Place some of the mixture in a piping bag with a star nozzle or in a special churros gadget. When oil is hot pipe in the churros a few at a time, using a knife to cut them off when they are 10-15cm long. Cook, turning once, till golden on both sides, then remove from oil and toss in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Serve warm with chocolate or salted caramel sauce.

Chocolate Sauce: heat cream until boiling point is reached then remove from heat. Add chocolate broken into squares and stir until melted. Cool a bit and serve warm.

Salted Caramel Sauce: melt sugar in a small heavy-based pan until melted and dark caramel colour, swirling the pan from time to time. Add cream and butter and mix until smooth. Cool a bit and serve warm. Can be reheated.

Serves 6-8

Chocolate-Espresso Self-Saucing Pudding

Every grandma worth her salt has a chocolate self-saucing pudding in her repertoire. They’re a cinch to make and because of the unique way the ingredients are assembled a delicious sauce forms under the pudding as it cooks.

Adding a couple of shots of espresso turns this into a more sophisticated dessert for coffee lovers. Adjust the amount of coffee to suit your taste or leave it out altogether and just use 2 cups (500ml) of boiling water. Kids will prefer it without the coffee.

Chocolate Espresso Self-Saucing Pudding

1 cup self-raising flour
½ cup caster sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
60g unsalted butter, melted
½ cup milk
½ tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
½ cup caster sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water and 1 cup hot coffee (2 shots)
To serve:
Cocoa for dusting
Thick cream or vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 180ºC and butter a 1.5L capacity ovenproof dish such as a lasagne dish. Sift flour, sugar and cocoa into a bowl and mix. Mix melted butter with milk and vanilla and beat in the egg with a fork. Mix thoroughly into flour mixture then tip into pudding dish and spread evenly. Mix sugar and cocoa for topping and sprinkle evenly over the pudding. Mix boiling water and coffee and carefully pour evenly over the top. Bake for 30 mins or until the top is firm.

Use a sieve to lightly dust the top of the pudding with cocoa powder. Serve with cream or vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6-8

Variations: use brown sugar instead of caster sugar. Add some chocolate chips and/or chopped walnuts.

Grand Marnier Soufflés

Serving hot soufflés is a sure way to impress your guests. But their reputation of being difficult makes many people nervous about making them.

In fact the only difficult part is making sure you get them from the oven to the table as quickly as possible, before they start to sink. Did you know that you can make them in the morning and leave them uncooked in the fridge all day? Don’t ask me why, but they don’t sink.

At serving time just stick them in a very hot oven and they will rise impressively above the rim of the dishes. Have your serving plates, icing sugar and sieve all ready and as soon as they come out of the oven it’s all hands on deck to get them to the table, as the guests say “Ooh aah” or words to that effect.

Grand Marnier SoufflésButter and sugar for the dishes
1 cup milk
4 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp orange zest (I used mandarin)
2 Tbs flour
¼ cup Grand Marnier
4 egg whites
pinch salt
¼ cup sugar
To serve:
Icing sugar
Thick cream

Butter four one-cup soufflé dishes, then coat the buttery sides with sugar, tipping out the excess. If baking straight away pre-heat oven to 200ºC.

Heat milk in a non-stick milk pan. In a small bowl mix egg yolks, sugar, orange zest, flour and Grand Marnier with a hand whisk until thoroughly combined. Add the hot milk and whisk to combine, then tip back into pan and return to heat. Cook gently, stirring constantly with a flat bottomed wooden spatula. As soon as custard thickens remove from heat and continue to stir briskly for 30 secs to ensure there are no lumps. Don’t over-cook or you will have scrambled eggs.

With electric beaters, whip egg whites and salt until stiff peaks, then add sugar and continue to whip to a stiff meringue. With a rubber spatula fold meringue thoroughly into custard, then divide between the soufflé dishes. It should come almost to the top. Place dishes on a biscuit tray so they are easy to put in the oven or fridge in one go.

Recipe can be prepared ahead to this point. Soufflés can be kept in the fridge for several hours. Bake at 200ºC for 15-20 mins until well-risen and golden. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately with a dollop of thick cream.

Serves 4

Variations: Use Cointreau or another liqueur instead of Grand Marnier. For vanilla soufflés leave out the liqueur and add 2 tsp vanilla essence or the seeds from one vanilla pod. Cut the vanilla pod into 2-3 pieces and put in the milk while you heat it up, then discard.

Chocolate Puddings with Ginger Pears

This decadent recipe appeared in the latest issue of Gourmet Traveller. I’ve increased the quantities to serve six, left the sugar out of the the chocolate puddings because I think they’re sweet enough without and made a couple of other slight adjustments. The recipe said to serve the puddings at room temperature, but we preferred them chilled.

Chocolate Puddings with Ginger Pears

6 ripe but not over-ripe pears
1 cup Stone’s Green Ginger Wine (see note below)
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
250g dark (70%) chocolate, broken into squares
180g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 eggs
2/3 cup cream
2 Tbs crystallised ginger, finely chopped
To serve:
Whipped cream, pouring cream or crème fraîche (see note below)

Place ginger wine, water and sugar in a medium-sized frying pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Peel and halve pears, leaving stems on one half and removing cores with a melon-baller. Place pears in frying pan, cover with a lid and simmer for about an hour, turning them over from time to time. Drain pears and refrigerate, covered until serving time. Keep the poaching liquid.

Preheat oven to 170°C. Place butter and chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Zap in the microwave for 1-2 mins or until melted, stopping to stir halfway. With a balloon whisk, thoroughly mix in the eggs and then the cream. Lastly mix in the ginger. Divide mixture between six 1 cup ramekins and bake for 6-8 minutes. Cool and refrigerate for up to 36 hours, covered.

Drain pears and dry on paper towels. Place cut side down in a medium sized non-stick frying pan. Turn on the heat and cook until pears are slightly glazed just on the one side, then remove carefully from pan. Add any accumulated juices from pears to the poaching liquid. It should have cooled to quite a thick caramel sauce, but if it’s still a bit thin pour it into the pan after removing the pears and cook until reduced and thickened a bit. Cool to room temperature.

Top each chocolate pudding with two pear halves, glazed side up, drizzle with a little caramel sauce and serve with whipped cream, pouring cream or crème fraîche.

Serves 6

Notes: If you can’t find ginger wine, heat 1 cup of white wine with 2 Tbs finely chopped fresh ginger in a saucepan. Simmer for 5 mins then strain.

Make your own crème fraîche by mixing half thick Greek yoghurt with half thickened cream. If liked mix in a teaspoon of icing sugar and a few drops of vanilla essence.

Narrabri Cheesecake

This a perfect last minute dessert as it only takes 10 minutes to make and about an hour to set. The recipe came from Matthew’s bachelor survival cook book, so it goes back a long way. There’s actually no cheese in the recipe, but if you make it in a spring-form pan it looks like a cheesecake.

I often make it in half cup glasses as shown in the photo. Put them all in a round quiche dish or similar and cover with plastic wrap (or a shower cap which I find very useful in the kitchen!) and they will last several days in the fridge.  Instead of the crunchy topping, top with a few fresh berries. Or both.

Narrabri Cheesecake

200g plain sweet biscuits (I used Ginger Nuts)
125g butter, melted
1 can condensed milk
Grated rind 4 large lemons
½ cup lemon juice
300ml cream, whipped
Fresh raspberries, blueberries or strawberries (optional)

Whiz biscuits in food processor until you have crumbs. Melt butter in a medium sized bowl in microwave. Add biscuit crumbs and mix well, then divide between about 16 half cup glasses or ramekins. Save about 4 Tbs of crumbs for the topping, unless you are going to decorate with just berries. Alternatively press crumbs over the base of a 20cm spring-form pan.

In a clean bowl, thoroughly mix condensed milk, lemon juice and rind, then fold in the whipped cream. Divide filling among the glasses or spread into spring-form pan. Refrigerate for at least an hour and serve decorated with the remaining crumbs or some berries, or both. If making in a spring-form pan it’s best to refrigerate for several hours or overnight so it cuts nicely.

Serves 16

Note: other versions of this no-bake cheesecake use 250g cream cheese instead of the cream. In this case mix the cream cheese (at room temp) with the condensed milk, lemon juice and rind in a food processor and omit the whipped cream.


Our Polish friend Peter was coming for dinner so I decided to make something for dessert which would remind him of his homeland. After searching online I came across Mazurek, a nutty cake, not quite as dense as shortbread, covered with chocolate icing and nuts.

There are as many recipes for Mazurek as I’ve had hot dinners, so having found a version for which I had the ingredients – essential when you don’t want to go shopping – I adjusted it slightly and came up with this.

Peter explained that Mazurek is traditionally served at Easter so my timing was perfect. He hadn’t tasted one for many years and was delighted to take home the leftovers.

Serve for afternoon tea or as dessert, with a dollop of cream. Scrumptious.

250g butter at room temperature
½ cup sugarDSCF0579
1 egg
1½ cups almond meal (see note below)
1 cup plain flour
pinch salt
¼ tsp almond essence
¼ cup cream or sour cream
Chocolate Icing:
½ cup dark chocolate chips or chocolate squares
1 Tbs corn (glucose) syrup
2 Tbs cream
2 Tbs butter
To decorate:
¼ cup flaked or slivered blanched almonds

Preheat oven to 200ºC. Grease a 9″ (22cm) square cake pan and line with non-stick baking paper. In a food processor or with electric beaters mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, salt and almond essence and mix well. Add flour and almond meal and mix well. Scrape into cake pan and spread out evenly. Bake for 20 mins or until light golden – don’t overcook or cake will be dry. Cool completely in tin.

Remove cake and place on a flat serving plate. Place chocolate, corn/glucose syrup, cream and butter in a small bowl over simmering water and when melted stir till smooth. Cool a little then spread icing over cake and decorate with almonds.

Serves about 16

Note: make your own almond meal by blitzing blanched or unblanched almonds in food processor until fine.

Variations: use hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans instead of almonds.


Toblerone Ice Cream Parfait with Chocolate Sauce

Woolworths was selling 400g Toblerones for half price so I bought a couple and put them in the pantry (trying to forget they were there) until I came up with inspiration for a new dessert.

By using good quality bought vanilla ice cream you can make this parfait in a jiffy. If you have time to make your own ice cream so much the better. While you could make this in an ordinary loaf shape, using a triangular tin looks snazzier, especially as Toblerones are that shape. You can buy them online.

If preferred, leave out the chocolate coating. This chocolate sauce recipe is an old family favourite. Great to have in the fridge to serve with ice cream or waffles, though one batch doesn’t last long if you have kids around, or even grown up kids!

Toblerone Ice Cream Parfait with Chocolate Sauce

2 litres good quality vanilla ice cream
1 x 400g Toblerone chocolate bar
Chocolate Coating:
200g dark or milk chocolate
2 Tbs vegetable oil
Chocolate Sauce:
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
4 Tbs cocoa
2 Tbs golden syrup
Large knob of butter
1 tsp vanilla essence

Remove ice cream from freezer and spoon into a large bowl. Leave to stand for a few minutes while you chop the Toblerone into small chunks. Not too long as you don’t want the ice cream to melt. Thoroughly mix Toblerone into ice cream. Line loaf tin (triangular or rectangular) with plastic wrap, leaving the excess hanging over the sides. Fill with ice cream mixture, pushing down and smoothing the top. Cover with the plastic wrap then freeze several hours or overnight.

Chocolate Coating: Remove parfait from freezer, tip out (you may need to hold a hot towel over the base to loosen it), peel off the plastic wrap and place on serving dish. Meanwhile melt chocolate in a bowl over simmering water and mix in the oil. Working quickly cover the parfait with melted chocolate. Put back in the freezer to set.

Chocolate Sauce: Choose a large pan because this sauce has a tendency to boil over. Place all ingredients, except butter and vanilla essence, in pan. Mix with a whisk to remove lumps, then boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Cool for 10 minutes. Stir in butter and vanilla.  Reheat before serving and serve warm not hot.

To serve: Remove parfait from freezer for about 10 minutes before serving. Slice with a large sharp knife dipped into very hot water. Serve with the chocolate sauce.

Serves 12

Note: if you can’t buy golden syrup substitute corn/glucose syrup or honey.