Fool your guests with these impressively easy baking recipes

·5 min read
These vegan cookies don’t compromise on flavour or texture  (Nassima Rothacker/PA)
These vegan cookies don’t compromise on flavour or texture (Nassima Rothacker/PA)

When I make a vegan bake, I don’t want to compromise on flavour or texture, and these cookies are a lovely example of that,” explains Chetna Makan.

“The delicate flavour of cardamom and the richness of dark chocolate and pistachios means these are a riot in every mouthful.”

Chocolate, pistachio and cardamom cookie

Makes: 20

Ingredients:

120g vegan butter, softened

170g light, soft, brown sugar

Pinch of fine sea salt

275g plain flour

1½ tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

70ml almond milk

300g vegan dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped

60g pistachios, finely chopped

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.

2. Put the butter in a bowl with the sugar and salt and beat it together with an electric whisk until smooth and creamy.

3. Sift the plain flour into another bowl with the cardamom, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix it together.

4. Add the milk to the butter bowl followed by the flour mixture and then add the chocolate and pistachios. Fold it all in and bring it together into a soft dough.

5. Take a lemon-sized portion, shape it into a circle and place on a prepared sheet. Repeat to form all the cookies, leaving enough room between them for the cookies to spread when baked.

6. Bake for 15 minutes and let them sit on the tray for two minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

7. Store in an airtight container for three to four days.

Pineapple and elderflower cake

Pineapple cake is one of the most popular at bakeries in Jabalpur (Nassima Rothacker/PA)
Pineapple cake is one of the most popular at bakeries in Jabalpur (Nassima Rothacker/PA)

“I have a soft spot for pineapple cake. It was the most popular cake at the bakeries in Jabalpur: a light, eggless sponge, with fresh cream and pineapple on top,” says Makan.

“As with many ingredients, the cream in the UK tastes different to the cream you get in India. So, I have made my own version.”

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients:

For the cake:

100g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the tin

220g canned pineapple pieces, roughly chopped

200g caster sugar

100g ground almonds

100g self-raising flour

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

3 large eggs

130g natural yoghurt

2 tbsp elderflower cordial

For the cream:

300ml double cream

30g caster sugar

1 tbsp elderflower cordial

Elderflowers to decorate

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Butter two x 20 centimetre round cake tins and line the bases with non-stick baking paper. Scatter half the pineapple over one tin.

2. In a large bowl, with an electric whisk, or in a food mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, put all the cake ingredients except the remaining pineapple and whisk for a minute until smooth and pale. Stir in the remaining pineapple pieces. Divide the batter equally between the prepared tins and bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.

3. Whip the cream, sugar and elderflower cordial together in a bowl with an electric whisk until it forms soft peaks.

4. Put the cake without pineapple on top of a serving plate and spread all the cream on top. Place the second cake, pineapple-side up, on top. If you manage to find some elderflowers, place on top of the cake and serve.

5. This cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three to four days. Bring it to room temperature before serving.

Black tahini honey tart

Dramatic and moody to look art, there’ll be lots of questions about this tart (Nassima Rothacker/PA)
Dramatic and moody to look art, there’ll be lots of questions about this tart (Nassima Rothacker/PA)

“I recently found some black sesame paste and decided to make this tart. Dramatic and moody to look at, I’m sure there will be many questions when you serve it,” says Makan.

“Hopefully the earthiness of the tahini with the sweetness of the honey and the pastry will go down well.”

Serves: 10-12

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

100g unsalted butter, softened

30g tahini

30g icing sugar

Pinch of salt

2 egg yolks

200g plain flour, plus more for dusting

For the filling:

180g unsalted butter

20g honey

100g light soft brown sugar

3 large eggs, plus two large egg yolks, lightly beaten

125ml double cream

2 tbsp black tahini

1 tsp cider vinegar

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp black sesame seeds

Method:

1. To make the pastry, combine the butter, tahini, icing sugar and salt in a bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until creamy and smooth. Add the egg yolks and mix again. Fold in the flour. Add one to two tablespoons of water to bring the dough together. Press the dough into a circle, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for two to three hours.

2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a two to three-millimetre thick circle big enough to line a 20 centimetre tart tin. You should have one to two and a half centimetres extra hanging over the tin. Line the tin with the pastry. Let it rest and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Prick the base of the tart with a fork. Scrunch up some non-stick baking paper, then unscrunch it, put it in the tin and fill with baking beans. Blind-bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 15 minutes until golden. After 10 minutes, cut off the excess paper.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the filling by heating the butter in a saucepan until it starts to bubble and change colour and the milk solids start to turn golden. Transfer to a bowl and once it is slightly cool, add the rest of the filling ingredients except the sesame seeds. Whisk it well and then pour this carefully into the tart case.

5. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 50-55 minutes, until the filling has puffed up and is golden with a slight wobble in the middle. Let it cool completely, then remove from the tin and serve.

6. Best eaten the day you make it, after that the pastry starts to soften.

‘Chetna’s Easy Baking’ by Chetna Makan (published by Hamlyn, £20; photography by Nassima Rothacker), available now.