There's nothing like the smell of baking on the chill air of a winter's day. Browning pastry, caramelising sugar or the scent of a chocolate cake is a surefire way to warm the spirits.
Walnut, macadamia and honey tart
This is my version of the classic walnut and honey tart popular in France in the cooler months.
260g plain flour
180g unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
100g fragrant honey
120g unsalted butter
100ml double cream, 45 per cent fat
3 tbsp dark rum
180g walnut pieces
150g macadamia nuts
50g caster sugar
50g brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
6 large egg yolks
1. For the pastry, place the flour and butter in a food processor and process to a sand-like consistency. Add the egg yolk and 40 millilitres of water and process again quickly. Tip the mix out, quickly bring together and form into a disc between two pieces of baking paper. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan-forced or 200 degrees conventional.
3. Once rested, roll out the pastry evenly and line a 28-centimetre loose-bottomed tart pan - it is important that there are no gaps or breaks in the pastry or the filling will leak. Chill for 10 minutes.
4. Line the inside of the tart shell with baking paper or foil and fill with baking weights, rice or dried beans, then blind bake for about 20 minutes, remove the weights and baking paper (or foil) and bake for another five minutes - the pastry shell needs to pick up a golden colour, but don't cook for too long or the crust will burn once baked again.
5. For the filling, warm the honey, treacle, butter, cream and rum together and cool a little.
6. Toss the walnuts and macadamia nuts through both sugars and the ground cloves.
7. Lightly whisk the egg yolks then whisk them into the cooled honey mix. Pour this over the nuts and sugar, combine well, pour into the pastry case and bake for 30 minutes or until well caramelised.
8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes - the filling will be very hot straight from the oven. Use a sharp knife to cut into wedges and serve with cream.
Spiced coffee, date and pomegranate loaf
This is my interpretation of Dan Lepard's Marrakesh Express loaf cake. It is dense and moist and loaded with spice, with a moreish sweet and sour accent from the pomegranate molasses - a slice with a strong black coffee is a perfect way to spice up a cold afternoon.
320ml freshly brewed black coffee
1 orange, zest only, finely grated
1 tsp cardamom seeds, freshly crushed
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
125g brown sugar
80g unsalted butter
180g dates, pitted and roughly chopped
180ml pomegranate molasses
120g walnuts, plus an extra handful to garnish
3 tbsp sesame seeds
230g fine wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1. Line the base and sides of a 17-centimetre loaf tin (I use a deep tin; for a shallower tin, it might need to be 23 centimetres-25 centimetres long).
2. In a large saucepan, add the coffee, orange zest, spices, sugar, butter, dates and 100 millilitres of the pomegranate molasses. Bring to the boil, take off the heat and leave to cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees fan-forced or 180 degrees conventional.
4. Beat the eggs until frothy, then mix into the cooled liquid. Stir in the walnuts and sesame seeds. Add the flour and baking powder and mix to combine, then pour into the prepared loaf tin. Sprinkle over the extra walnuts.
5. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out almost clean.
6. Cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then turn out. Spike with a skewer about six times and slowly pour over the remaining pomegranate molasses. Store wrapped in cling film or in an airtight container.