Category Archives: cakes & tarts

Delicious fresh currant tart

fresh currant tart from fanny and brenda

Although the shops rarely stock fresh currants, we now grow our own. These are fruit that seem to have fallen out of favour with shoppers but their sour sweetness is perfect for an end of summer meal pudding,-so if you are able to find any for sale in farm shops or high class greengrocers then grab them!


100g of puff pastry

Creme patissiere

4 egg yolks

60g caster sugar

25g plain flour

2 tsp cornflour

280ml milk

Apple Glaze

Four sweet apples cored and peeled


A 500g mix of red white and blackcurrants

fresh currant tart from fanny and brenda


Prepare the  tart base

1. Roll out and blind bake with baking beans for 20 minutes

2. Bake for a further five without them.

3. Take out of oven and leave on side to cool

To create the creme patissiere filling

  1.  Beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and slightly thickened.

  2.  Whisk in the flours.

  3.  Heat the milk in a saucepan until it starts to boil

  4.  Whisk the milk into the egg mix.

  5.  Return the whole lot back into the pan, stirring all the time until thick and boiling.

  6.  Take the pan off the heat and pour into the base of the tart 

Apple glaze

 1. Four sweet apples cored and chunked and boiled in a little water and 4 dsp of  caster sugar

 2. Leave to cool bait and then whiz in the blender.

 3. Pour the apple glaze on the now set creme patissiere 

Currant Topping

Sprinkle the currants across the top.

Place in oven for half an hour at 200°C.

As the tart cooks the currants will sink into the glaze.

Leave to cool and shake some icing sugar over the top via a sieve.

Serve with cream. 

fresh currant tart from fanny and brenda

Pistachio and Plum Cake

Whilst we are, of course, normally far too busy being exceedingly fabulous hostesses to stop for afternoon tea, there are just occasionally times when the planets align and we are able to let our mascara run and our reinforced under cladding sag (well away from public view, obviously), kick off our court shoes and spark up a Capstan Full Strength while the kettle boils.

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Seeing as though also we are trying to reintegrate into high society once again, this uniquely English institution is a remarkably civilised and uncomplicated step to take on that journey. One thing it does require, though, is cake – and this is a slightly exotic version of a Victoria Sandwich. I hope you enjoy its rich denseness and alluring pale green and amaranth colours, just not quite in the somewhat literal sense Brenda seems to have done by the look of the stretch marks in her Spanx and the jangling palette of her maquillage…..

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake


for the cake

200g unsalted pistachios – shelled and skinned
275g butter – in approx 1-2cm cubes and at room temp
275g icing sugar
7 large eggs
375g ground almonds
110g cornflour
2tsp baking powder

for the filling

stewed plums – we had these in the freezer. Don’t worry if you don’t, you can use a neighbour’s – or just use plum jam.
sugar to taste

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake


Preheat the oven to 180°C while you shell and skin the pistachios – if you buy pre shelled, excellent. Rub most of the skins off but don’t overly fret if some get left on, making a cake should be a pleasure, not turned into an afternoon of purgatory.

Place the pistachios in a metal pan and roast for 5 mins, perhaps briefly taking out half way through to give the pan a small shake.

Once hot and fragrant, take out and blitz in the food processor until they’re forming a paste.

Now lower the oven temperature to 150°C while you grease with butter and line a 22cm cake tin.

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Add the ground almonds, the butter, icing sugar and eggs (I popped a couple of extra yolks in too which I had in the fridge left over from making a meringue!). Whizz for up to 2 mins or so till well combined, add the cornflour and whizz on slowest speed for a few seconds till just combined.

Pour the mix into the cake tin and slot into the oven on the middle shelf for an hour or a tiny bit longer if not quite yet cooked. I also turned mine half way through to ensure very even cooking.

Meanwhile, take about 300ml of the stewed plums, pressed them through a sieve into a small pan and heated gently on the hob. Then add just enough sugar to take off the sour edge but not cause the fruit to get too sweet. Allow the puree to just simmer for about 15-20 mins so that you end up with something quite jammy in consistency. Set aside to cool.

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Once the cake is done, turn out onto a wire rack to cool which may take a good couple of hours. With a long, thin blade, slice horizontally in two, and on the lower half, spread a fairly thin layer of the plum puree – as if to spread jam on toast. Replace the top half of the cake, dust with icing sugar and serve with cups of tea using your best china!

fanny and brendas pistachio and plum cake

Lemon Drizzle Cake

It is a lovely time of year for enjoying a small slice of cake with a cup of tea in the late afternoon sun. Well, some of us show some restraint. Unfortunately Fanny always helps herself to gargantuan slices and drinks our home made Plum Vodka with hers!!!

lovely tea time lemon drizzle cake by fanny and brenda

225g butter –  softened
225g caster sugar
4 egg plus a yolk if you’re feeling decadent
2 lemons – zest finely grated ( I recommend doing this directly into the mix at the time)
225g self-raising flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
For the drizzle topping
juice of 2 lemons
100g caster sugar


.    Heat oven to 150°C fan.

.    Beat together the softened butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy, then add the  eggs one at a time,  mixing through after each one.

Now sift in the flour -  I like to put half in first, mix, then the other half (it helps avoid flour storms…) and the baking powder –  next zest the lemon directly into the bowl, which ensures all the lemon oil (and therefore flavour) gets into the mix –  and combine well.

Line a loaf tin (8 x 21cm) with buttered greaseproof paper,  spoon in the mixture and level out the top.

.    Bake for 50-55 mins until a skewer inserted right into the cake comes out clean. While the cake is cooling in its tin, mix together the lemon juice  and the caster sugar to make the drizzle. Prick the warm cake all over with a skewer or fork, then pour over the drizzle – the juice will sink in and the sugar will form a crisp sweet-tangy topping.

Once the cake is completely cool, turn it out of the tin, slice and serve…

lovely tea time lemon drizzle cake by fanny and brenda

Fanny and Brenda’s Halloween Feast


Bleeding Hearts Stuffed Red Peppers by Fanny and Brenda


4 red peppers – 3 of them cut in half lengthways and 1 chopped up
2 red onions – finely chopped
8 cloves garlic – minced
250g minced beef
100g rice
1tsp red chilli flakes
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tin tomatoes
olive oil
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
250ml dry white wine
good handful of medium chopped flat leaf parsley
Baked garlic bulb – optional

Bleeding Hearts Stuffed Red Peppers by Fanny and Brenda


Heat two medium size frying pans and add the mince to one and the onions to the other

Brown the mince for about 5-10 mins and then add half the onions (from the other pan), to the mince

To the mince pan, now add the chilli flakes, cumin, nutmeg and half the minced garlic and continue frying for a couple more minutes, then switch off. Season with some salt and pepper.

Add the chopped pepper to the onion pan and continue to fry for another 5-10 mins until the onions are translucent and beginning to turn golden and the peppers are starting to caramelise. Add the other half of the minced garlic, fry for a further minute or two then add the tin of tomatoes, the wine and season. Simmer for 20 minutes then season with salt and black pepper .

Meanwhile, if you don’t have any leftover cooked rice, now is a good time to cook some fresh.

Switch on the oven to 180°C

By now, the mince has cooled quite a bit so you can now drain the rice (if cooking it fresh) and stir it through the mince along with a good handful of chopped parsley.

Once the tomato and pepper sauce has simmered, blend it for a few mins till fairly smooth – it doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth like tomato soup but neither do you want chunky. If it needs thinning, add a small glass of water and blend this in.

Lay out the 6 pepper halves in a baking dish which should provide a snug fit. Spoon the mince and rice mixture into them. Then carefully pour round the sauce (there should be around a litre of this) so that the level just about reaches the height of the pepper halves. Drizzle with olive oil, cover with foil and bake for 45 mins.

Serve with a little more chopped parsley – and some baked garlic if you want your bleeding hearts to have extra Brenda- scaring, I mean vampire-scaring Hallowe’en properties!

Bleeding Hearts Stuffed Red Peppers by Fanny and Brenda



It takes a furtive if not macabre imagination to suggest a graveyard for a pudding, but that is Brenda Gateway for you. However her thinking was in line with a gory Halloweeny feast so why not? It is an involved recipe that would be good for a dinner party and is a festive dish for this time of year. It is relatively simple to make and as you see from the picture Brenda’s gravestones weren’t that lifelike thank goodness! Sometimes her complete lack of technical skill pays dividends!

Lime Graveyard Mousse with Chocolate Gravestones - delicious!


Chocolate Gravestones
150g plain chocolate
150g salted butter, softened
1 avocado
125g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
5 free-range eggs, separated
100g ground almonds
50g plain flour, sieved
300g of white chocolate for the gravestone coating

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F
Ideally you will have a square cake tim with a pop out base.
Grease this and the line with baking parchment / greaseproof paper
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water
Meanwhile beat the butter till soft and add the sugar till well mixed in
Cut up the avocado and whisk into the mixture
Add the chocolate and stir in
Add the egg yolks and stir in
Fold in the ground almonds and the flour.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites till you can see stiff peaks
Add a couple of tablespoons to the chocolate mix and stir in.
Fold in the remaining egg into the chocolate
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake dish and place in oven for about 45 minutes
Leave to cool in dish for a couple of hours.
Then pop out of its tin and place on a board with some greaseproof paper
Cut the cake into strips. These are the gravestones!
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over some simmering water and dip the gravestones into the melted chocolate
Leave to cool and harden.

Graveyard Mousse


4 eggs, separated
180 – 250g caster sugar depending on how sweet/tart you like it.
3 limes, zested and juiced
50ml hot water
2-3 tsp powdered gelatine depending on how set you like it
300ml double cream
Three parts of natural yellow food colouring
One part of natural green colouring


In a medium size bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has lightened in colour and thickened – a few minutes with an electric whisk. Then whisk in the lime zest and juice.

Dissolve the gelatine according to packet instructions although sprinkling into a small cup of hot water and leaving for a few mins, then stirring with a fork usually does it.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the cream until soft peaks form. Use a hand whisk because it allows much more control and you can feel when it’s ‘just right’.

Stir the melted gelatine into the cream and fold this into the egg yolk mixture.

Whisk the egg whites in yet another bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed.

Briefly whisk in about a third of the whipped egg whites into the yolk/lime/cream mix and then gently fold in the rest

Pour into your sundae glasses or ramekins and chill for at least a couple of hours but easier to make them the day before so they chill overnight.

Once you have let the mousses chill, and the gravestones white chocolate coating has hardened the pud is ready to eat. Take the gravestones and place them into the mousse. Sprinkle with some candied lime zest if you have it and serve!

Blackberry Blueberry & Apple Pie

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

I spend most days having to look at a dilipdated Fanny which is the equivalent of looking at a sad old pie. A rather fatty pork pie I may add. However despite her unfortunate looks, (which are considerably worse before she cakes on the makeup), I am not put off by such horrors. This week to compensate for my pain, I have made the most delectable Autumn orientated fruit pie in the world and one thing pleases me in particular; – that I am so modest about it! I’ve said it before and I will say it again (because I have a nasty habit of repeating myself despite the doctor’s prescription), Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year due to the colours and the harvest. This year I have some apples which I located in someone’s garden, and some recently picked blackberries found in someone’s hedge, so I thought I would add some blueberries to the mix as well. And if I may say so, this delicious combination of fruit will keep young and old very happy indeed!

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda


350g blueberries
350g blackberries
350 apples
4 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 beaten egg

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

Shortcrust pastry

160g plain flour
100g butter
A large pinch of sea salt
1 tsp of caster sugar
Approx 2 tablespoons of water


1) The rich shortcrust pastry

Take a mixing bowl and combine the sugar salt and flour.
Now take the butter in small lumps and add it to the flour mix.
Blend it till you get a crumbly texture.
Add enough water to the dough to get the mixture to combine.
Now: the odd part, which isn’t odd once you get used to it- the fraisage.

Take the bottom of the palm of your hand (the heel) and take a small amount of the pastry and literally smear it down a well floured pastry board. Put that smeared pastry to one side, and then add another and repeat. Wrap it all up into a ball and then repeat the process again. This process is ‘fraisage’.

Now take the ball of pastry, wrap it and refrigerate it for an hour.

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

2) The pie

Roll out the pastry
Take a pie dish and grease it
Lay the pastry in the dish
Blind bake it for twenty minutes (10 minutes with the beans and 10 minutes without) at 150°C
Take out and leave to cool

Place the blackberries in a bowl. Drain off the juice if they have been frozen.
Add the blueberries
Add two table spoons of sugar and leave to macerate for half an hour
Meanwhile peel and core some apples and stew for quarter of an hour in a pan. Add sugar to taste
Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Add the apples to the fruit mix,and stir in.

Add the fruit mix to the pie
Rollout some pastry for the topping.
Baste with some beaten egg
Add a scattering of caster sugar to the topping
Bake in oven at 200°C for about thirty minutes or till golden brown on top.

Serve with cream or custard

autumn fruit pie - blackberry blueberry and apple pie by fanny and brenda

Almond Cake with Plum Purée

This really is a lovely tea-time treat and simple to make. The end result is sweet and moist and with the plum purée it could double as a delicious pud too.
fanny and brendas almond cake with plum puréee - simple to make and an absolute treat


200g ground almonds

275g caster sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp almond extract

3 large eggs

250g salted butter (softened)

1 measure of Galliano (vanilla) liqueur (or apricot brandy or indeed cherry brandy)

75g plain flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

Icing sugar to dust


Small bowl of stewed plums

Icing sugar to sweeten


Preheat oven to 180°c/350°F

Take a cake tin with a push out bottom and grease it. Then place some baking paper in the bottom and grease that too.

Add a scattering of sliced almonds to the base.

fanny and brendas almond cake with plum puréee - simple to make and an absolute treat

Take your ground almonds and mix them with the sugar and salt in the blender.

Now take a small handful of that mixture and scatter it over the base and round the edges. This will give a rather lovely crust to the finished product.

Add the eggs, butter and Galliano to the mix and blend well

Add the flour and baking powder and blend

fanny and brendas almond cake with plum puréee - simple to make and an absolute treat

Pour mixture into cake dish and place in the middle of the oven.

Cook for 20 minutes and then reduce to 150°c/300°F for the last 15 minutes.

Leave to cool for a couple of hours and then take out of cake dish.

Place on presentation plate and dust with icing sugar

fanny and brendas almond cake with plum puréee - simple to make and an absolute treat

For the purée

Take a bowl of stewed plums

Sieve them into another bowl

Add icing sugar to sweeten to taste

Serve cake with cream and purée and watch your guests become friends for life!

fanny and brendas almond cake with plum puréee - simple to make and an absolute treat

Orange and Ginger Sponge Cake

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

I was awoken this morning by the sound of some appallingly obtrusive snoring from the next bedroom. I had never heard such disgusting sounds, at least not within the realms of civilised humanity. I poked my gracious head around the door and saw an elephantine lump breathing and belching flatulently, a vision that might have been redolent of a particularly nasty pyscho horror film. Fanny was on her back under the duvet, her head wrapped in her lacy bonnet, her substantial red nostrils flaring with every intake of breath dreaming no doubt about her latest Brazilian. It was a sight that few could have withstood without mental damage, but magically I survived.

I will have you know however that it was too damned early, and Ruby the cat was annoyed by the unnecessary sleep interruption. Desperate times call for desperate measures and frankly I felt like eating a large and sumptuous cake as compensation for the rude awakening. I stamped downstairs and decided on making a refreshing stimulating and quite fabulous orange and ginger sponge cake. Here is the recipe.

Zesty Orange and Ginger Cake

Preheat oven to 160°c

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

For the cake
• 250g butter
• 250g self-raising flour
• 1 level tsp baking powder
• 125g golden caster sugar
• 125g soft brown sugar
• 4 large eggs
• finely grated zest of 2 oranges
• 2 heaped dessert spoons glace ginger

For the butter icing
• 75g butter, softened
• 75g icing sugar, sifted
• 1 dessert spoonful of glace ginger pieces
• finely grated zest of 2 oranges

For the glaze topping
• 100g icing sugar
• juice of an orange (approx 100g)
• zest of 1 orange


Grease two loose bottomed cake tins and place a sheet of baking paper on the base of each. This will help later when you have to extract the cake from the tins.

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

Put all of the dry cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl and combine them with the butter and the zest till you have a rather lovely fragrant doughey mixture.

Add the eggs, and whisk to blend giving a soft cake mixture.

Stir in the glace ginger dispersing it well.

Split the mixture between the two loose bottomed greased cake tins

Place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Check with skewer that the cakes are cooked. If still slightly gooey in the centre give them another 4-5 minutes.

Take out and place on a rack to cool.

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

Sandwiched buttercream icing

Once the cake has cooled mix the softened butter and the icing sugar in a large bowl.

Add half the grated rind.

Take one of the cakes and add a layer of icing to it.

Add some of the glace ginger to the layer that will be in the middle of the cakes.

brenda gateway's orange and ginger sponge cake - at fanny and brenda!

For the topping

Mix the icing sugar and juice of half an orange

Add the zest

Pour the thin liquid over the top of the cake allowing it to overflow down the sides

Leave to set for a couple of hours – giving you a slightly crispy topping!

Lemon and Ginger Marscapone Tart

fanny and brendas lemon and ginger marscapone tartThis fabulous recipe is one that has been developed after several trials. It concentrates on lemon with influences of ginger to inform the flavour, and also uses lemon zest to give those momentary experiences of pure lemon in the mouth. There are no distracting flavours and this is a recipe that I highly recommend. It is equally good as an alternative at Christmas, or to finish off a midsummer supper.

Use the rough puff pastry as illustrated on this blog: it’s much better than the packaged pastry. (If you plan to make one tart then halving the measures listed in the puff pastry recipe will suffice.)


Preheat the oven to 180°c

4 large eggs separated
200g caster sugar
200ml double cream
300g marscapone cheese
Juice from two lemons
Zest from two lemons
50g candied lemon peel
150g puff pastry – using our recipe!
1 tbsp of candied ginger


Flour your board and roll out the puff pastry thinly.

Get you tart case and grease. Place baking paper over it. (If you are using a pop out baking dish then ignore this instruction – I add it purely for the ease of removing the tart after it has baked and cooled!)

Now add the pastry

Cut to size and shape and add another (2nd) layer of baking paper.

Add the baking beans and place in oven for 10 minutes to blind bake the pastry

lemon and ginger marscapone tart
Take out and remove the baking beans and baking paper and replace in oven for ten minutes.

Remove from oven and reduce the heat to 150°c


For the lemon mix:

First cut up your candied ginger quite finely

In a large mixing bowl add the marscapone, cream, 100g of sugar,lemon juice, egg yolks, zest and combine them.

lemon and ginger marscapone tart

In another large mixing bowl add the egg whites and the other 100g of caster sugar and whisk together till it forms little peaks.

Add the egg whites to the first mixture and stir in.

Take the candied ginger and sprinkle it on the base of the tart

lemon and ginger marscapone tart
Now pour the mixture into the cooled tart case and cook for about 20-25mins. You want the top to still have  a lemony colour, and once it starts to brown at the edges, you know it is cooked. The middle will be wobbly but that will set. Leave to cool.

Serve with some cream.*

(* Our cream was whipped with about 50ml of lemon juice and 50ml of limoncello. A superb combination that complements this tart awfully well!)
lemon and ginger marscapone tart

Brenda’s dirty little secret- revealed!

I found out something very disconcerting this week. That dirty smutty little harlot Brenda has a very very nasty habit. She goes to McDonalds and buys their deep fried apple pies when I’m not looking!

delicious deep fried apple rolls

I promised not to blackmail her over it if we used her weakness for something fabulous. And we have:

You will need

Some filo pastry sheets
1 egg
4 dessert spoons of gram flour (or plain). The gram flour is better.
Cold water to make a paste with the flour
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Cut up a couple of eating apples into small cubes
1 cinnamon stick
Zest and juice of a third of a lemon
1/4 tsp allspice
2 tsp of glace ginger

delicious deep fried apple rolls


Take the cubes of apple and place in a saucepan with the lemon and the zest and a cup full of water. Add the ginger, allspice, cinnamon stick and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer slowly, with the lid off until the apple has softened a bit – but isn’t a mush. Put the apples to one side to cool.

delicious deep fried apple rolls

Put a pan of vegetable oil on the stove and turn on. You will want a pan of oil bubbling.

Meanwhile, mix the flour with the water to make a paste.

delicious deep fried apple rolls

Now take a sheet of filo and lay it flat. Scoop some apple into the middle of the sheet being careful to leave overlaps either side.

Fold over the sheet and wrap it up. Seal with some egg.

Now dip it in the batter all over.

Put on a plate.

delicious deep fried apple rolls

Now dip the apple roll in the oil and let it fry for about two minutes or until brown. It will cook very quickly so stand over it ready to extract it.

delicious deep fried apple rolls
Take out and rain and place on a plate ready to serve.

delicious deep fried apple rolls

Leave to cool
delicious deep fried apple rolls

Christmas Cake – Part 4- the icing

fanny and brenda icing the christmas cake recipe

So we come to the ultimate episode in the making of our Christmas Cake which started back in October.

Take the cake out of its storage. The marzipan layer should be quite dry, and if you want why not brush it with a little brandy like we did!


3 egg whites
500g icing sugar
1 tspn of glycerine


We did the icing in two parts.

Mix the egg whites with the icing sugar. The sugar is added a little at a time and keep adding until it’s all mixed in. Then whisk it up until it has stiff peaks. Stir in the glycerine.

Now put half of the mixture in a mixing bowl and cover with clingfilm. Put it in the fridge.

Now put the remaining half on the cake and work it round the top and sides with a spatula.

Try and make a neater job of it than Fanny.

Day 2: Repeat the process and leave to dry for 24 hours. Then decorate according to taste!

Please see our video because if Fanny can ice a cake you can!!