Spiced milk and honey cake

It can be really difficult to find people that perfect gift at Christmas, especially if you are buying for a lot of people, which is why I regularly resort to the thing I do best; something edible! Giving a handmade gift is both thoughtful and cost-effective, and definitely won’t be something they have already. Whether you whip up a stack of cookies, a batch of festive fudge, or my most recent favourite: a whole cake.

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A whole iced cake in a pretty tin makes a perfect gift. Choose a cake recipe that will stay fresh for a week or so (a ginger cake or fruitcake is perfect) rather than a light sponge that will dry out, as this gives the lucky recipient enough time to enjoy it. I love these Dahlia themed tins from Laura Ashley’s Christmas collection with their golden lids – they look fantastic stocked full of cake and tied with a bow to give away (or keep for yourself!). Their cake forks and cake slicer are also gorgeous, with porcelain handles that match the tin.

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My recipe of choice this year is my spiced honey and milk cake. It is really simple to make, keeps everyone from the youngest to the oldest happy and keeps for 1-2 weeks when stored correctly, which is ideal gift-giving territory.  I’ve thrown on a few festive sprinkles, but you can decorate with whatever you like – a sprinkle of cinnamon works beautifully!



Spiced honey and milk cake

Recipe adapted from Crave, available on Amazon or high-street book shops. Blog post written in partnership with Laura Ashley.

Chai-spiced chocolate tart, chocolate tips AND a giveaway!

It’s GBBO finals day so I’m sharing a gorgeous, shiny new recipe with you all! I’ve partnered with Lindt Excellence to whip up some indulgent chocolate bakes using their delicious bars. This tart showcases chocolate at it’s finest and is super intense in flavour. The chai spices add a lovely warmth to the filling that makes you want to snuggle into autumn by a fireside with a generous portion.

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Tip 1: Always choose premium. Baking with good-quality chocolate is paramount to creating good quality bakes, especially in a tart like this one where chocolate is the star. Lindt Excellence bars range from 70% cocoa solids to 99% cocoa solids, all which have their place in the baking world. As standard, I usually bake with 70-80% chocolate as I particularly like the balance of bitterness and richness, but the high percentages can be lovely in homemade truffles and in small amounts.


Tip 2: Heat with caution! Chocolate is very sensitive to heat and burns easily. A good thing to remember is that a chocolate bar will melt in your pocket, so never needs excessive heat. Always heat indirectly over a very low heat. A metal bowl helps you control the heat best as it is a great conductor.


Tip 3: Add salt! Sea salt and chocolate might sound like a strange combination, but salt helps to bring out the different flavour profiles in the chocolate and compliments it really well. Try it next time you’re baking with chocolate - you might be pleasantly surprised!

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Chai-spiced chocolate tart


Head over to my Instagram page to find out how you can get your hands on an incredible Lindt Chocolate hamper!

Grapefruit and white chocolate possets

Dare it be mentioned, but this glorious summer of sunshine is steering towards its end. The picnic rugs, alfresco diningware and beach barbeques are packed away ready for the first hints of spring, but don’t despair! Bidding a fond farewell to summer means welcoming autumn with open arms, embracing chunky knits, nights snuggled by the fire and dinner parties, which leads me right into this recipe.

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Posset isn’t a dessert we hear much about, but all that should soon change as it is the three things you need in a dinner party dessert; laughably simple, make-ahead AND elegant. I’ve been on the lookout for gorgeous saucer glasses for a while, so when I saw these Optic Pink Laura Ashley glasses I knew they’d be the perfect partner for this silky dessert. I’m a sucker for coloured glassware, and these are definitely my favourite new additions (I’ve got my eye on the matching champagne flutes and tumblers too!).

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 The science behind posset is fascinating, as it is made essentially from just 3 ingredients; the juice of a citrus fruit, cream and sugar. It manages to gain the silky, luxurious texture of a more complex custard thickened by egg or corn flour in an entirely different, much simpler way.  When you add acidic lemon juice to milk, it curdles, but cream has a far higher percentage of fat which limits its ability to follow suit. Instead of curdling, the acidified cream thickens and becomes silky and smooth. I’ve also added white chocolate to my posset as it’s creamy sweetness really lifts the sharp yet fragrant grapefruit to a new level. It's rich and indulgent, but it’s for a special occasion and will have your guests falling in love with their dessert.

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Pink grapefruit and white chocolate posset

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This recipe is from Crave, a baking book dedicated to satisfying your cravings with chapters ranging from citrus to chocolate to cheese. You can find it on Amazon or most good booksellers. This post was written for the Laura Ashley blog.

Jam making: simplified


When I first started making jams, I was bombarded with so much differing advice that I was actually a little nervous to give it a go. ‘You need preserving pan’, ‘Have you added acid?’, ‘Are you using a sugar thermometer?’, ‘You don’t have a jam funnel?!’. I had so many questions in my mind and I felt completely overwhelmed. However – I’m pleased to share that it IS possible to make great jam using normal kitchen equipment and it isn’t nearly as scary as I thought.

The main way to make jam making accessible for all lies in the quantity you decide to make. I learnt the hard way that jam more than triples in the pan, so if your pan is not big enough to contain the new volume, it WILL overflow and your kitchen will be very sticky for the foreseeable future. It is difficult to make a substantial amount at once without investing in a large pan, so if you’re planning on stocking your cupboards full of jam this isn’t the recipe for you. However, if you’ve got a little fruit, a little time and want to preserve the gorgeous flavours of summer into one jar of deliciousness, a heavy-based casserole dish or saucepan is all you need.


The secret to a well-set jam lies in a substance called pectin, which is present in all fruits but more abundantly in some than others. In the presence of sugar and acid, pectin will gel, which thickens the jam. It can be difficult to know exactly how much pectin there is in your fruit, which is why using a specific jam sugar (like Tate and Lyle jam sugar) with added pectin makes your jam-making life worry free, as there is nothing worse than pouring your time into a project and it failing at the final hurdle. Jam sugar removes that fear of horribly runny, unset jam and you can have confidence that your hard work won’t be for nothing and you will achieve the perfect set!



The saucer trick is the best way to test that your jam is set. Simply place a saucer into the freezer before you start boiling the fruits. When you think you’ve reached the setting point, drip a small amount of jam onto the chilled saucer. Leave it to sit for 30 seconds, then press the jam on one side with your finger. The jam should ripple when pushed, and should be thick enough that the line remains and the jam holds its shape when your finger is removed.

The source and ethical impact of the ingredients I use is always important to me, and Tate & Lyle’s Jam Sugar is Fairtrade certified – meaning it will not only improve your jams – it will also help farmers around the world have a brighter future. What could be sweeter than that?

For more information on Tate & Lyle’s excellent range of sugars and for more delicious jam recipe ideas, visit: https://goo.gl/MfnBt7.


Simple summer berry jam






Mixed peel polenta cake

Spring is peeking out from behind the clouds and I couldn't be more ready! It's this point of the year that I attempt a quick spring clean, and discover any ingredients lurking at the back of my cupboard that haven't been used since Christmas. Mixed peel is one such ingredients. It seems to go into every single festive recipe, yet is left redundant for the 11 months that follow, and will likely have dried out my the time you next come to use it! It sounds a rather ordinary ingredient, but weaving it into the batter of this polenta cake transforms the small pieces of leathery peel into chewy nuggets of citrus flavour, almost like sweets. 

To me, cakes fall into two categories. You’ve got your light-as-air, tea-and-cake style numbers, often dainty and delicate, and then you’ve got dessert cake. Dessert cake should be a different encounter: dense, eaten with a spoon and suitable to drench in cream or custard. A polenta cake is all these things – being beautifully stodgy and sticky, but matching it with orange and lemon makes it light and moreish at the same time.  My version is topped off with cheats candied peel – tubs of shop-bought peel tossed in chunky pieces of  sugar. A perfect dessert for me is a generous slice of this cake with a dollop of Greek yoghurt on the side and a scattering of pomegranate seeds or fresh raspberries – an indulgent yet refreshing end to a meal. 

Give it a try and let me know how you get on!


Mixed Peel Polenta Cake

Written for Waitrose Weekend

Serves 10


225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
3 Waitrose British Blacktail Medium Free Range Eggs
200g ground almonds
100g polenta or cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
Finely grated zest 1 orange
75g mixed peel

3 tbsp caster sugar
Juice of 1 orange

25g mixed peel
1 tsp granulated sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 170°C, gas mark 3. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm loose-bottomed tin with baking parchment.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric hand whisk until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Stir in the dry ingredients and beat until smooth, then fold in the orange zest and mixed peel.

3. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and level the surface, place on a baking tray. Bake for 50-55 minutes until risen and fairly firm (it will have a very slight wobble in the middle). Test the cake using a skewer – it should come out clean when inserted into the centre.

4. While the cake is baking, make the orange syrup. Place the sugar and juice of the orange into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. When the cake is baked, remove from the oven and, while still hot, brush the warm syrup all over it, then leave to cool completely on a wire rack. The cake may sink slightly in the centre, but this is normal for polenta cakes.

5. To finish, make the sugared peel by shaking together the candied mixed peel and granulated sugar in a sealed ziplock bag until well coated. Sprinkle over the top of the cake, then serve generous slices as a delicious dessert.

Source: https://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/...

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

Something that might surprise a few of you: there is only one food I won’t eat. Bananas. Ever since I was a young child, they are the only food my body can’t handle.  I’ve tried many a time to rekindle our relationship, attempting to eat bananas in many guises, but it never worked. Banana bread, however, I’ve always admired and longed to enjoy. Soft, squidgy and sweet, it’s all the things I love, so I was determined to find a way to make a loaf that I love.



It goes without saying that peanut butter makes everything better, so incorporating spoonfuls into my batter, which I make by sautéing the bananas in butter and sugar to caramelise and soften them, was always going to be a hit. I didn’t quite realise how much of a hit though; I was thrilled that I’d made a loaf including banana that I actually enjoyed eating, but my housemates RAVED about this cake. It’s moist and sticky, buttery and chocolatey with notes of caramel running through the whole thing.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread



Shrove Tuesday: sweet and savoury pancakes

Forget Valentine's Day; this year it has been upstaged by our nations love of pancakes. I take pancake day as a great excuse to eat pancakes for every meal of the day. It is a great example of a day of crowd-pleasing, entertaining food that is simple to create – everyone loves a pancake! For the last few years, I’ve developed a recipe that works every time to create thin, crepe style pancakes: the 1-2-3 method. Easy to remember and even simpler to create. Here are my favourite sweet and savoury twists on my basic recipe; spinach and herb pancakes with salmon and browned butter pancakes with butterscotch and toasted pecan nuts.


Basic Batter


100g plain flour
2 Waitrose British Blacktail Medium Free Range Eggs
300ml milk
Butter, for frying


1. To make the basic batter, whisk together the flour and eggs in a large bowl until smooth, then gradually add the milk to make a runny batter. Alternatively, place all the ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth. Cover and set aside for up to 1 hour, or until ready to use.

2. Heat a 20cm frying pan over a medium heat, then test the pan by ladling in a small amount of batter. It should take around 1 minute to brown on the bottom. If it browns too quickly, lower the temperature slightly, and do the opposite if it cooks too slowly and becomes rubbery.

3. When the pan is at the right temperature, add in a small knob of butter and then pour in a ladleful of batter. Swirl the pan to coat the bottom, then allow the pancake to cook for 1 minute on each side, or until cooked through. Keep covered and warm in a low oven while you fry the rest.

Martha's spinach & herb pancakes with smoked salmon



1 x basic batter
50g butter
50g spinach
Small handful of fresh green herbs
(I use coriander, basil and sage)
Pinch sea salt flakes

2 x 100g packs Waitrose Mild Scottish Smoked Salmon, torn into pieces
125g soft cheese
¼ x 25g pack chives, chopped


1. Melt the 50g butter in a 20cm frying or crepe pan that you will fry the pancakes in. Remove from the heat.

2. Place the pancake batter and all the remaining pancake ingredients into a food processor then add the melted butter. Blitz until the mixture is smooth. Don’t worry if there are small pieces of spinach or herbs in the batter – this adds texture to the pancakes.

3. Heat a 20cm frying pan over a medium heat, then test the pan by ladling in a small amount of batter. It should take around 1 minute to brown on the bottom. If it browns too quickly, lower the temperature slightly, and do the opposite if it cooks too slowly and becomes rubbery.

3 When the pan is at the right temperature, add in a small knob of butter and then pour in a ladleful of batter. Swirl the pan to coat the bottom, then allow the pancake to cook for 1 minute on each side, or until cooked through. Keep covered and warm in a low oven while you fry the rest. The green becomes more vibrant on cooking.

4. Serve the pancakes warm with smoked salmon, soft cheese and chives. These are best eaten immediately.


Martha's brown butter pancakes with butterscotch sauce & pecans



75g butter
75ml double cream
75g soft light
brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt, or to taste
1 x basic batter
50g pecan nuts, roughly chopped


1. Place 50g of the butter into a small saucepan over a low heat until completely melted. Cook the butter, stirring occasionally, until the white solids separate out and begin to brown at the bottom of the pan. The butter will foam and start to smell toasty. Remove the pan from the heat immediately and add the browned butter to the pancake batter.

2. To make the butterscotch sauce, place the cream, remaining 25g butter, sugar and vanilla extract into the saucepan you used to brown the butter and heat gently for 3-4 minutes or until the ingredients are well combined. Turn up the heat and allow the mixture to bubble for a further 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Season with sea salt to taste, then pour into a jug and set to one side.

3. Heat a 20cm frying pan over a medium heat, then test the pan by ladling in a small amount of batter. It should take around 1 minute to brown on the bottom. If it browns too quickly, lower the temperature slightly, and do the opposite if it cooks too slowly and becomes rubbery.

3. When the pan is at the right temperature, add in a small knob of butter and then pour in a ladleful of batter. Swirl the pan to coat the bottom, then allow the pancake to cook for 1 minute on each side, or until cooked through. Keep covered and warm in a low oven while you fry the rest.

4. Wipe out the frying pan and add the chopped pecan nuts. Toast the nuts for 2-3 minutes, keeping them moving around the pan so they don’t catch.

5. Serve the pancakes with the butterscotch sauce and the toasted pecan nuts. These are best eaten immediately.

Source: http://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/e...

Breakfast bites: honey and sesame granola and tropical energy bars

Happy January to you, Baking Martha readers! Starting the new year made me think about how i can improve the start of each day, so i've come up with a few easy, homemade breakfast options. It's cheaper to make your own than to buy at the shops, and you control exactly what goes in.

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I only really discovered granola last year, and instantly loved it as every mouthful is a little bit different from the last. The best thing about making your own is that you take control over what goes in. Like it sweeter? Add more honey. Prefer nuts to fruit? Swap out some dried fruit for nuts. This is the recipe I like best; just the right about of nuttiness matched with toasty sesame with just enough honey, dates and apricots for sweetness.  Eat by the bowlful with yogurt and fresh fruit or simply with cold milk.

For those mornings where time just runs away, try my mango and passionfruit bars – perfect for a breakfast on the go! They are zingy with a fresh yoghurt topping, and will leave you feeling full with all the energy you need. They don't even need to be baked!


Martha Collison's honey & sesame granola


125g clear honey
2 tbsp toasted sesame or sunflower oil
½-1 tsp flaked sea salt, to taste
350g jumbo oats
50g mixed seeds
4 tbsp sesame seeds
100g macadamia nuts, halved
50g flaked almonds, 
1 Waitrose British Blacktail Medium Egg white
75g dried apricots, chopped
75g chopped dried pitted dates


1. Preheat the oven to 150°C, gas mark 2, and line a large baking tray with parchment. Warm the honey, oil and salt in a small pan. Combine the oats, seeds and nuts in a mixing bowl. Pour over the honey mix and stir until coated.

2. In a small bowl, lightly whip the egg white until frothy, then stir through the granola mix. Tip onto the baking tray and spread evenly.

3. Bake for 25 minutes, then turn the tray and give it a quick stir before baking for 10-15 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow the granola to cool completely so it’s crisp, then stir in the dried fruit.The granola will keep for up to 1 month stored in an airtight jar.  

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Martha Collison's mango & passion fruit energy bars


100g flaked almonds
100g desiccated coconut
60g essential Waitrose Rice Pops
150g oats
50g dried mango, chopped into small pieces
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
300g clear honey
1 large passion fruit
75g white chocolate
2 tsp natural yogurt


1. Preheat the oven to 160°C, gas mark 3. Grease and line a 34cm x 22cm brownie tin with baking parchment. Arrange the flaked almonds and coconut on the lined tray and toast in the oven for 7-8 minutes, or until golden and fragrant – stirring halfway through to get an even colouring. Once toasted, tip into a large mixing bowl. Add the rice pops, oats and chopped mango to the toasted ingredients and stir to combine.

2. Meanwhile, place the sugar, honey and passion fruit pulp into a medium sized saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up to medium and allow the mixture to simmer for 7-10 minutes. It will look slightly thicker in consistency.

3. Pour the hot mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until everything is well coated. Tip the mixture into the lined tin and use a spatula to press it down firmly into an even layer. Place into the fridge to set for at least 1 hour.

4. When the bars have set, make the drizzle. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of boiling water, then stir in the yogurt. Spoon into a piping bag and drizzle over the top of the set bars. Leave to cool completely, then slice into 24 pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Source: http://www.waitrose.com/home/recipes/recip...

Christmas canapés and Moorish Dip giveaway!

Christmas canapés for Christmas parties are up there with some of my favourite things to make in the festive period. I love creating bitesized morsels, and love eating them even more! Here are a few tips to help your Christmas parties run smoothly!

1. Make ahead


A classic tip, but a great one!   Make-ahead canapes are a great trick to have up your sleeve, and choux canapes is especially great as the empty shells defrost in minutes. Make the shells up to three months in advance and freeze, whip up a filling, fill, and you’re good to go. I’ve shared my favourite three easy fillings below: smoked trout with horseradish, goats cheese with sundried tomato and a sweet chestnut and chocolate variation.

2.  Self-serve drinks

My family have a big Christmas Eve party every year, and something that works really well is a make-your-own drinks area. We allocate a small table or end of a worktop to all our glasses (the more shapes and sizes the better!) and then have spirits, mixers - all kinds of beverages, on the counter too. No faffing with getting everyone a separate drink, and creates a relaxed vibe almost immediately.

3. Food for sharing

Stock up on easy sharing foods. Warm camemberts, dips, oils and breads - it's easy to prepare crudités and makes your guests feel healthy too! I've recently discovered Moorish Smoked Dips, and they are absolutely heavenly - they SMOKE humous, why has no one else done this?! They've generously given me a whole crate of their delicious dips, from smoked humous to garlic and lemon aioli and nutty babaganoush. The lucky winner will automatically have their Christmas off to a great start. Enter below: