I’ve never met a dessert that I didn’t like and I’m not alone. If someone happens to bring a sweet treat into the office, the plate is emptied in less than 10 minutes (except for the time Lana experimented by making cupcakes with wholewheat flour and they were a little bit…. crunchy). And there is no doubt that swapping dessert recipes is so much better than boring lunch or dinner. Who wants to think about meat and vegetables when there’s sugar to consider?
Because I still haven’t developed many baking skills beyond Sara Lee packet mixes, Paula Joye from LifeStyled has kindly shared her best recipes with us. First up is her famous pavlova – it’s hard to find a person that doesn’t love a pavlova, but it’s even harder to make a good one.
Paula has three golden tips to share and they are:
1) Use room temperature eggs. They whip and separate sooo much better than eggs straight out of the fridge.
2) Leave the pavlova in the oven until it’s completely stone cold. Do not open the door. Do not go near it. Allowing it to cool down over hours will stop it from collapsing.
3) Use one type of fruit and one fruit only. For me it’s raspberries or passionfruit – but I’m a purist. Blueberries, strawberries and pommegrante are also fab.
And here’s Stephanie Alexander’s recipe, from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How To Eat‘ book:
4 egg whites
pinch of salt
250g castor sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
few drops of vanilla extract
300 ml cream
Fruit to preference
Preheat over to 180C
Beat egg whites & salt until satiny peaks form
Beat in sugar, a third at a time, until stiff and shiny
Sprinkle in cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and fold lightly
Spread onto baking paper within 20cm radius circle and smooth tops & sides
Place in over and reduce temperature to 150C.
Bake for 1 – 1.15 hr (depending on your oven)
Turn oven off and leave pav to cool completely.
Turn upside down and top with whipped cream and fruit.
My other favourite-ever dessert is the red velvet cupcake. It’s kind of embarrassing how many times everyone in the office has (nicely) demanded that Lana make these and bring them in for everyone to taste – they are heaven.
Paula uses the recipe from London’s Hummingbird Bakery (and Lana uses the recipe from Paula so it’s all very cyclical) :
60g butter at room temperature
150g caster sugar
10ml red food colouring
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
300g icing sugar, sifted
50g butter at room temperature
125g cream cheese, chilled
1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Cream the butter, egg and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. In a separate bowl mix the cocoa powder, food colouring and vanilla extract. Once mixed add to the creamed mixture.
4. Mix carefully until combined and then add half the buttermilk, mix further and add half the flour and the baking powder. Mix thoroughly before adding the remainder of the buttermilk and flour and mixing further.
5. Add the white wine vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix thoroughly for at least 5 mins.
6. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins or until the cupcakes spring back slightly when touched.
7. Allow the cupcakes to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
8. To make the frosting, cream the icing sugar and butter together until well combined.
9. Add the cream cheese and mix until incorporated. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy (about 5 mins).
10. Use a spatula to layer the frosting (generously) on top of the cupcakes.
Now that we’ve successfully got you drooling over cakes and cupcakes, it’s time to share your favourite recipe with the rest of us.
What’s your favourite dessert recipe?