While we should always make a fuss of our mums, Mother’s Day is a chance to really make an effort to show how much they mean to us.
If you want to push the boat out this Sunday, we’ve got you covered with some lovely recipes from Great British Bake Off star Prue Leith.
From indulgent cakes to crunchy biscuits, Prue shares her favourite sweet treats.
Pink peppercorn and chocolate mousse cake
This recipe was devised by my friend and collaborator Georgina Fuggle (she has cooked every single recipe in this book, some of them three times), and it is astonishingly good.
I have yet to see someone refuse a second slice. The texture is like a cross between a brownie and a chocolate mousse, and the little kick from the pink peppercorns is surprising and delightful.
INGREDIENTS: 75g pecans; 1 tsp pink peppercorns, plus extra to serve; 150g salted butter, plus extra for greasing; 250g good-quality dark chocolate; 150g caster sugar; 5 large eggs, separated; 1 tbsp whisky; a pinch of salt; icing sugar to serve.
1. Lightly butter and line a 23cm (9in) round springform cake tin with baking parchment. Heat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas mark 3.
2. Tip the pecans on to a baking tray and transfer to the oven to toast for 6–7 minutes. Blitz to a fine dust in a food processor, then set aside. Crush the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar until fine. Failing that, bash them with the end of a rolling pin in a bowl.
3. Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, or in the microwave. Remove from the heat and mix in 60g of the sugar. Then stir in the egg yolks, pecans, most of the peppercorns and the whisky.
4. In another large bowl, add the salt to the egg whites and use an electric whisk to beat them to soft peaks. Whisk in half the remaining sugar, until the mixture will stand up in peaks when the whisk is lifted, then add the rest of the sugar. Whisk again until stiff and glossy.
Stir a spoon of this meringue into the chocolate mixture to loosen it a bit, then carefully fold in the rest. Be gentle – you want to avoid bashing out all the air you’ve carefully incorporated. Pour the batter into the tin, level the top and bake for 25 minutes.
5. Leave the cake to cool in the tin, on a wire rack, for 10 minutes. It will sink dramatically, but don’t worry. Once cool, remove the cake from the tin and dust with icing sugar and a scrunch of pink peppercorns.
This cake has never lasted a day in my house, but I’m told it freezes well. As it’s so quick and easy to make, you can double up the quantities and freeze one to have later.
I’ve been demonstrating this dish for years, and it always gets a gratifying round of applause when it comes out of the oven. It’s a piece of cake (or tart) to make if you have a food processor.
For the pastry: 225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting; 140g cold butter, plus extra for greasing; 1 medium egg; a pinch of salt; 60g caster sugar.
For the almond filling (frangipane): 170g butter; 170g caster sugar; 170g ground almonds; 2 large eggs; 1 tbsp Calvados, kirsch or whatever liqueur you like; a few drops of almond essence.
For the glaze: 3–4 small red dessert apples, skin left on, cored and halved; 100g smooth apricot jam; juice of ½ lemon.
1. Heat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6, and put a baking sheet on the middle shelf to heat. Lightly butter a 26cm (10in) loose-bottomed tart tin and dust with flour, tipping out any excess.
2. For the pastry, whizz all the ingredients together in a food processor until the dough forms a ball. Roll it out into a thin, even round that is big enough to line the tin.
Lift the pastry by rolling it round the rolling pin and then unrolling it over the tin. Don’t worry if the pastry cracks.
It is so rich that you can just use your fingers to patch any gaps. Ease the pastry into the corners, then roll your rolling pin across the top to trim away excess pastry.
3. For the almond filling, whizz everything in the processor (no need to wash the bowl after the pastry). Spread it evenly over the pastry case.
4. Lay an apple half, cut-side down, on a board and slice across finely, keeping the slices in order and in their original half-apple shape.
With the heel of your hand, gently push the half-apple so the slices separate a little and lie flat, neatly overlapping each other.
Using a palette knife or spatula to help, lift the sliced half-apples and place them on the frangipane in concentric circles, starting at the rim. Gently press them into the frangipane.
5. Set the tart in the middle of the oven, on the hot baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4 and bake for another 15–20 minutes or until the filling is set and brown. Remove from the oven.
6. For the glaze, melt the jam with the lemon juice in a small, heavy-based saucepan. Brush or spoon carefully all over the apples and filling.
7. When the tart is still just warm, check that the edges of the pastry are not stuck anywhere to the metal ring (over-enthusiastic jamming can cause a problem), then ease the tart from the tin. Serve warm with cream or ice cream for a pudding, or cold in a thin slice for tea.
Chocolate and macadamia biscotti
Biscotti in a packet from Italy are delicious – but not cheap, so I think it’s worth making your own.
INGREDIENTS: 200g plain flour; 50g cocoa powder; 1½ tsp baking powder; a pinch of salt; 150g caster sugar; 100g macadamias, roughly chopped; 2 eggs, beaten.
1. Heat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas mark 5. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
2. Combine everything except the eggs in a big bowl. Gradually add the beaten eggs to the mixture and combine to make a fairly stiff dough.
3. Divide the dough into three and form into sausage-shaped logs about 20cm x 4cm (8in x 1½in). Put on the baking sheet, spacing them roughly 6cm (2½in) apart, and bake for 20 minutes.
4. Wait until just cool enough to handle, then gently cut the logs on the diagonal to form 1cm (½in) slices. A serrated bread knife works best. Return the biscotti to the baking sheet (you may now need a second one) and bake for a further 10 minutes, turning them over after 5 minutes.
The classic twice-baked biscotti are often dunked in the sweet after-dinner wine called Vin Santo. This chocolate version is good dunked in coffee or coffee liqueur. Or, if you are too posh to dunk, eaten alongside.
Devil’s food cake
Simply the best chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten. It was given to me by Rebecca, who works behind the scenes for Bake Off. She is a brilliant baker. She says the recipe is her mum’s. So thank you, Rebecca’s mum. It’s so lovely that recipes get passed along, spreading joy to the world.
For the chocolate frosting : 200ml double cream; 350g butter; 450g dark chocolate, finely chopped.
For the sponges : 75g cocoa powder, sifted; 150g light brown sugar; 2 tsp vanilla paste; 335g plain flour; 1 tsp baking powder; 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda; 200g butter, plus extra for greasing; 225g caster sugar; 3 large eggs.
For the decoration: 150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids).
1. For the chocolate frosting, pour the cream into a saucepan, add the butter and heat, stirring occasionally until the butter has melted. Bring to just below boiling point, then remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth and glossy. Pour into a bowl and leave to set at room temperature, whisking occasionally.
2. Heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4 and grease and line three 20cm (8in) loose- bottomed sandwich tins with baking parchment.
3. For the sponges, put the cocoa powder, light brown sugar, vanilla paste and 375ml boiling water in a bowl and whisk together until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside. Sieve the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together into another bowl.
4. Cream the butter and caster sugar together in a separate bowl until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing in a tablespoon of the flour mix after each egg. Add the rest of the flour, a third at a time, folding well to disperse any flour pockets.
5. Fold in the cooled cocoa mix, then divide between three tins and bake for 25–30 minutes, until risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
6. Remove from the oven, leave to cool in the tins for five minutes, then turn out on to wire racks to cool.
7. For the decoration, melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Meanwhile, grease the underside of a baking tray with oil and pour the melted chocolate on to it. Leave to set, then drag a cheese plane over the surface to create curls. Keep these cool.
8. Place a cooled sponge on a cake stand and spread with about a quarter of the frosting. Place another sponge on top and spread with another quarter of the frosting. Place the remaining sponge on top, then spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake, swirling with a palette knife. Arrange the chocolate curls on top of the cake.
Apple caramel cake
This is quite a cake! I adapted this recipe from one by Kate Lyon, who was a Bake Off finalist in 2017. The sponge layers are made with dates, spices and pieces of dried apple, and are then sandwiched together with a caramel buttercream.
It is a huge celebratory affair, but it need not be this big. Just halve the quantities and cook in two tins for five minutes less (the mixture will not be so deep). And, of course, if you don’t have time to fiddle about making mini toffee apples, just leave them out.
For the cake: 125g medjool dates, stoned and finely chopped; 5 tbsp cloudy apple juice; 325g unsalted butter, softened; 250g light brown muscovado sugar; 5 medium eggs, at room temperature, beaten; 300g self-raising flour; ¼ tsp baking powder; 2 tbsp ground cinnamon; 2 tsp ground mixed spice; 60g dried apple rings or slices, chopped.
For the buttercream: 175g golden caster sugar; 175ml double cream; 175g unsalted butter, softened; 100g icing sugar, sifted; 125g full-fat cream cheese; 1–1½ tsp vanilla extract.
For the toffee apples : 1 Bramley apple; 85g golden caster sugar
1. Start by making the date purée: put the dates and the apple juice into a small pan and cook gently over a low heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until thick and soft. Remove the pan from the heat and mash the contents to make a coarse, thick purée. Leave to cool.
2. Heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 3. Grease three 20cm (8in) round, deep sandwich tins and line with baking parchment.
3. Put the butter into a large bowl, or the bowl of a mixer, and beat for two minutes until very light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the brown sugar and beat thoroughly for five minutes until light and fluffy.
4. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and mixed spice into the bowl and fold in. Add the cooled date purée and the dried apple.
The mixture should drop easily from a tapped spoon/spatula – if it seems a bit stiff, stir in an extra tablespoon or so of apple juice.
5. Divide the mixture equally between the three tins and spread evenly with a palette knife or spoon. Bake the sponges for about 20–22 minutes, until risen, golden brown and springy. Cool for five minutes before carefully turning out on to a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.
6. For the buttercream, start with the caramel sauce base: put the sugar and 3 tbsp of water into a heavy-based medium saucepan (not non-stick, as you need to see the colour of the caramel) and set over a low heat to melt very gently.
Stir occasionally, and keep a bowl of water and a heatproof pastry brush handy, so you can brush down the sides of the pan to dislodge any sugar crystals. Meanwhile, gently warm the cream.
7. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, turn up the heat and boil rapidly, without stirring, until the syrup turns a rich caramel brown. Remove the pan from the heat, cover your hand with an oven glove (the mixture will splutter and may burn you if it touches your skin) and slowly pour in the warmed cream.
Return the pan to a low heat and whisk with a hand whisk for about a minute, until the sauce is very smooth and thick. Pour into a heatproof bowl, leave to cool, then cover and chill for about 1 hour or until firm.
8. Beat the butter for a couple of minutes until very light. Add the icing sugar and mix (starting on a slow speed to avoid a mess) for five minutes, until very light and fluffy.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the cream cheese, followed by the cold caramel sauce andthe vanilla extract. When combined, cover and (if necessary) chill until firm enough to spread.
10. To assemble the cake: set one sponge, top-side down, on a serving plate.
Divide the buttercream in half and set aside one half for topping and decorating the cake. Spread the sponge with half the remaining buttercream, then top with another sponge, pressing it lightly in place.
Repeat the process with the other half of the buttercream. Cover with the third sponge, top-side up, and gently press the whole cake so it is firm and level.
11. Coat the sides of the cake thinly with the reserved buttercream to give a ‘naked cake’ appearance, then spread the remaining buttercream on the top, swirling it attractively. Leave to firm up overnight somewhere cool.
12. The following day, make the mini toffee apples. Lightly oil a large baking sheet or piece of baking parchment.
Peel the apple, leaving it whole. Use a melon baller to scoop out round balls from the apple flesh, avoiding the core. Pat dry and leave on kitchen paper while you make the caramel.
13. Put the sugar and 3 tbsp of water into a small pan, dissolve gently, then boil until you have a rich caramel.
Remove the pan from the heat and, using a cocktail stick to spear each apple ball, dip it into the caramel to coat. Lift out and twirl around for a few seconds until it has stopped dripping.
Then ease the ball off the cocktail stick on to the oiled surface and leave to cool. Keep the balls well separated, as they will stick together given half a chance.
14. When ready to serve, decorate the cake with the sticky toffee apples.