Tag Archives: raisins

Panetone bread and butter pudding


The ideal recipe for using up stale panetone and brioche, left over after the festivities. It tastes fabulous especially for the vanilla, rum and cinnamon added to it!

First make an easy egg custard:
2 medium egg yolks
one whole egg
Single cream 500ml
Brown sugar 2 Tbsp
Cornflour 1tsp

Other ingredients:
Rum and vanilla, for flavour
Half a stale panetone or Pandoro

Mix all the ingredients with a whip then heat the mix up in a pan until near boiling point and cook for 4 minutes whilst still whisking from time to time. The liquid must thicken a little but will remain very runny.

Put aside to cool and add 1 capful of vanilla essence and one of dark rum.

Cut up the stale panetone in slices and arrange them tightly into a deep baking dish. Put a few shavings of butter on the top and pour the custard over. Sprinkle with cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. Add a few extra raisins if you like. But let it rest for a while before baking. Then bake at 160˚for half an hour or until the pudding is soft set.

Serve with any remaining custard or fruit compote. I served it post-Christmas with some frozen red fruit and cranberries stewed in sugar, like a fruit sauce or coulis.

It reminded me of comforting childhood puds like “pain perdu”, lost in cinnamon, and mushy biscuits crushed in warm custards – the kind you make up for babies but never quite grow out of…
Try this recipe with stale pain au chocolat or brioche and it is very likeable too!

Cookies, better than a roll in the hay!?


Cookies, better than a roll in the hay?! You decide!
Today I made the scrummiest cookies: a hint of cinnamon, a triple dose of ginger and some juicy raisins to counter the heat of the spices. I borrow the ABC of this recipe from Dan Lepard at the Guardian weekend : One of the best newspapers food column, in my humble opinion.
I put them in a bright red box from the Mastiha (M-A-S-T-i-C-A) shop in Athens, ready for my next
coffee morning where obviously they’ll be needed next to a good cuppa to open hearts and loosen tongues… unless of course they have already gone by then! And so another batch will be in order…
When I haven’t scheduled one for a while, I miss our “mums’ chat” around the kitchen table, in front of a steaming black coffee, dipping into the cookies’ jar and having a healthy moan about “the kids”, the love of our life -and does he still feel this?!- or our last encounter with a desperate parking attendant. We eat and we giggle ; share cookies and stories – which we will all admit, in the current climate, is way better fun than a roll in the hay!

Ingredients list:
Butter 125g
Soft brown sugar 200g
egg 1
Stem ginger (I chose crystallised stem ginger) 3 to 4 bites
Desiccated coconut 50g
Spelt flour 200g
Ground ginger 2 tsp
All spice 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon 1tsp
Bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp
A handful of raisins

In a food processor ( why not indulge when you can?), beat the diced butter and the brown sugar until smooth. Then beat in the egg until evenly mixed. Chop the crystallised stem ginger into slivers and stir in with the coconut. Sift together the flour, ground ginger, allspice and cinnamon. Stir into the mix on low speed if you can, then fold in the raisins.

With a spoon, divide the dough into walnut size balls and put on a tray lined with baking paper. Leave a good space around each ball so they won’t run into each other. Put the tray in the fridge for a bit. I find this is the best tip to get perfectly shaped round cookies that don’t invade each other’s space!

Preheat the oven to 170°C and bake for 15 min. Leave to cool onto a wire rack, then transfer into you favourite biscuit box and call your best friend over for a coffee!

Health notes: the point of homemade cookies is that most shop-bought ones sadly include hydrogenated fat or palm oil. Both coat the inside of your arteries and are pretty bad news. So why don’t manufacturers have the obligation to disclose their use on the label?! More on this soon…

Rich Cocoa Christmas cake


Ingredients list:

  • 480g mix of dried fruit (currants, sultanas, raisins, anything you enjoy or use those half-empty packets in your cupboard…)
  • 1 handful of prunes, apricots or dates
  • 120g mix of nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans…)
  • 200ml of rhum or whisky
  • butter 160g
  • brown muscovado 160g
  • 3 eggs
  • plain wholemeal flour 160g
  • 1 spoonful of raising powder
  • almond powder 50g
  • 1 tablespoonful of treacle
  • 2 tablespoonful of mixed spices (cinnamon, clove, ginger)
  • 2 tablespoonful of unsweetened cocoa
  • 4 squares of dark chocolate
  • Rum or whisky for soaking the fruit

For decorating:

One roll of marzipan paste

One icing roll (I prefer using pre-rolled out ones as they are so easy and quick and you can then concentrate on the decor itself instead of fiddling with icing slabs…)

Any food colouring, chocolate shavings or sweets to personalise the top.

Large ribbon to hide the sides – often useful to disguise any sins…

Now we’re ready to put our pinny on and start mixing:

Soak the fruit in the rhum or brandy the night before. On the day, put in a saucepan the butter in chunks and the brown sugar. Strain the soaked fruit in, reserving the juice of course! Warm the lot up on the stove. Heat and stir for about 10 mn, until the fruit is plumper and the juices are thicker. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate then the cocoa and spices. Don’t forget to melt in a big spoonful of treacle for the liquorice hints go wonderfully with the richness of the cacao.

The mix needs to be rich and silky and should smell like Christmas morning already!

Pre-heat the oven at 140 degrees Celsius.

Add the beaten eggs to the fruit mixture, then stir in the nuts and flours until it is all well combined. If the mix is too heavy, add a few drops of water or the remaining spirit.

Pour into a tin lined with grease-proof paper and bake for 2 hours.

Keep for a few weeks wrapped in cling film and feed it with more alcohol once or twice a week. You will then get the marzipan and the icing sugar to decorate it a week or so before eating it.

This cake will keep for one or two months. So if you start baking now, your cake will be at its best for eating when Christmas comes around. My significant other’s grandmother used to start soaking the fruit on boxing day for the following christmas cake and was religiously feeding it alcohol for the remaining 12 months… This jars a little bit with my idea of fresh homemade food but you can give it a try!

Two years ago, I took one heavy fruit and cocoa cake brimming with whisky to friends in the mountains and at “apres-ski” we had slices of it with hot cups of tea by the fireplace… The combination of alcohol, fruit, spices and chocolate was exactly what you wanted after a cold day on the slopes; and with the amount of calories, exactly what you needed to face the next day’s downhill challenge!