Tag Archives: microwave

My top five best bakes (for Christmas)

I was chatting about baking to a mum in the playground yesterday, we discovered a shared love of fairly unusual continental recipes, the kind Paul and Mary would give to Bake Off contestants to try and baffle them into submission. It got me thinking about some of my favourite things I’ve baked and blogged, so I thought I’d choose my top five best bakes and give them another airing.

I promise you they’re all easy, I lack the patience, time and skill to do anything too fancy and time consuming; but they’re all delicious. 

Lebkuchen Cake 

Traditionally a moreish soft biscuit, I decided to attempt a German Lebkuchen Cake with considerable success. The recipe is easier than it looks to make and the results are truly scrumptious!

Lebkuchen Cake


Traditionally Joulutorttu are made with puff pastry and a special Finnish prune jam. However I made mine with a Christmas preserve, but it does need a good firm set jam. Try plum or prune conserve for authenticity. They look a bit tricky to make, but it’s ready-roll puff pastry and jam and  a bit of arty twisting of the pastry.



Birnenpfannkuchen is a German Pear & Ginger Pancake. This is a brilliant store cupboard standby, and a real family favourite when you need a quick pud. It’s a bit like a fruity toad in the hole, only better!


Cinnamon & Raisin Shortbread

I originally created this shortbread recipe in 2013 in celebration of the Great British Bake Off and it’s still popular today. Cinnamon and raisin are a great combination and this lovely crumbly shortbread is a great bake.


Microwave Jam Sponge Pudding

I’ve always hated the thought of “baking” in the microwave, but I’ve cracked it with this delicious sponge pudding. From mixing bowl to table in under ten minutes – perfect for busy families.

jam sponge

So that’s my little round up of my five best bakes. What would you have in your top five?

Easy Recipe: Microwave Jam Sponge

In the early 1980s my Grandma (who was a professional cook) got herself a microwave and dedicated her retirement to figuring out how to use it. Her microwave cheffing was never considered a success. You could break your teeth on her sponge cakes and her scrambled eggs bounced. Everything which came out of her microwave was a disaster, which was enormously disappointing for someone who could make patisserie that would make French Chefs weep with jealousy.

I have shied away from microwave cookery, bar reheating leftovers, pinging ready meals and giving jacket potatoes a head start; the thought of baking a cake in the microwave sends me straight back to 1985 and I was resolved never to try it. That was until I was sent a jar of Duerr’s Rhubarb and Custard Homebaking Jam, the jam has been formulated to behave itself when heated, so it doesn’t go chewy like other jams might. Additionally it tastes just like those rhubarb and custard sweets I used to be addicted to as a child.

We decided it would be best to make a jam sponge and custard with this really lovely yummy jam (I had already liberally smeared some on a croissant for quality control purposes). I love steamed puddings, but who has the time? So I decided it was worth me tentatively experimenting with a microwaved version, what’s the worst that can happen?

I made my usual sponge recipe and popped it in the microwave for four minutes, checked it, decided it needed another two minutes and it was perfect. It was by far the lightest, fluffiest sponge pudding we’ve had in a long, long time. It took ten minutes from weighing the ingredients to pouring custard over the finished pudding and filling our faces. It is in short the perfect pudding if you need something quick, warming, universally popular and drowned in custard.

jam sponge

Microwaved Jam Sponge Pudding (serves 6)
4oz Sugar
4oz Butter or Margarine (I always use Stork)
2 medium eggs
4oz self raising flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Half a jar of Jam (I used Duerr’s Rhubarb and Custard Homebaking Jam)

1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir through the eggs.
2. Sift in the flour and baking powder and gently combine.
3. Dollop your jam on the bottom of a large microwavable bowl, gently (very gently so as not to disturb the jam) dollop the sponge mixture on top of the jam and smooth it so it’s fairly evenly distributed.
4. Microwave for six minutes (check this often as it’s really easy to quickly overcook things in the microwave).
5. Once cooked, remove carefully from the microwave and eat while it’s still warm.

Serve with custard, cream or ice cream, or whatever takes your fancy.

This is ridiculously quick and easy, incredibly tasty and really, really popular. I think my Grandma would be really proud that I finally cracked the mystery of microwave baking.